Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Reading Challenges 2016

For the last 3 years I have participated in the Australian Women Writers Challenge.

This year I will continue participation and am committing to Franklin level.  I will be reading 10 books by Australian women writers.  Should be easily achieved as I've managed 21 in the last two years.

Now that the wedding is out of the way and all of the organisation and creation that went with it, I'd like to do more reading.  To this end, I'm doing not one, but 4 reading challenges this year.

On Goodreads, I've committed to reading 30 books this year; or 0.6 books a week.  Combining traditional reading with audiobooks, this should be achievable.

Then there's the Book Riot Read Harder 2016 Challenge and the Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge.  Both of these challenge the reader to go beyond their usual genre or preferred reading habits, and read a bit more diversely.

I've created a not very pretty bingo card with mashes the challenges up.  And I fully intend double, triple or quadruple dipping.  As long as I read 30 books this year, 10 of which are by Australian women, I'll be happy.  The rest is a bit of fun to keep me thinking.

AWW Challenge 2015 - roundup

In 2015 I committed to reading to Miles level (6 books) in the Australian Womens Writers Challenge.

21 books read - smashed it!  This was my 3rd year participating and I've have valued greatly the focus of the challenge and supporting local women authors.  To see the books I've read - check out my Goodreads AWW 2015 Shelf.

My favourite was the short story collection of Maxine Beneba Clark, Foreign Soil.

The Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women and encourages readers and bloggers to read and review writing by Australian women.

I am not a confident reviewer but I gave it a go for some of the books and contributed many of them to the Libraries ACT Facebook page.  

Reading time is the first to go when I get busy, preoccupied or stressed.  And while all of those things happened this year, I also had a couple of weeks away for work which gave me a heap of plane and hotel reading time.

I'll be doing the Challenge again this year.  But that's another post.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Day 3 of Tour de Couture - All about the bunts

More bunting.  I am giving in and calling this week bunt marathon.

I have all of this to break down - 1 dress, 1 shirt, 2 sheets and several metres of mauve and white gingham (not pictured).

I would love to be in a position to say the cutting is done by the weekend.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Day 2 of the Tour de Couture - more bunting

A busy day with family obligations meant that today's Tour de Couture achievement was again bunt cutting.

A need a lot of bunting - this may become a common post.

Today I broke down two shirts and some scraps of fabric donated by a friend.

To maximise the number of bunts per garment I am happy to have some evidence of the fabric's former life showing.  I find it quite charming, really.

In the photo below you can see part of a shirt pocket and some of the sleeve stitching in two different shirts.  In other bunts there are seams and buttonholes.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tour de Couture

While many of my fibre friends start the Tour de Fleece today, I have too much sewing to do.

Welcome to the Tour de Couture.

Since 2007, spinners have been participating in the Tour de Fleece.

The brainchild of blogger Katherine Matthews, the tour is immensely popular with spinners and knitters (hand –cyclists) alike.  The organisation is now in a Ravelry group .

I have been intending to participate for years but there is always something to prevent me.  This year it is wedding preparations.  I have WAAAAY too much sewing to do to indulge in spinning.

So I am the sole entrant in the Tour de Couture.

Every day of the Tour de France I will sew or engage in sewing preparation.  A majority of this sewing will be related to our wedding which is 5 months away.

Today I cut out more bunting.

Our decorating colours for the wedding reception are purple, green and white.  I have been gathering old textiles in those colours.  Many donations have come from friends, but most have come from the free clothing bins at our tip shop.  I am choosing mostly cottons in all shades of purple green and white, laundering the (mostly) garments and sheets and cutting out bunts.

When all the bunts are cut which will be when all the fabric runs out, I will sew the bunts onto strips of old white sheeting.

The larger scraps left from cutting the bunts are becoming other wedding decorations but they will wait for later posts.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Vic's singlet - further adventures in knitting in public

Yesterday I met Vic.

Vic was the best kind of taxi driver. Chatty, interesting and interested who didn't feel the need to lecture me or patronise me or tell me his political opinions.

We discussed lots of things. Smoking and giving it up. Drinking - he doesn't doesn't drink, just a glass or two of red wine with dinner. Football - he barracks for my AFL team's traditional rival. We were in Melbourne so football is the easiest topic of conversation unless you encounter a Collingwood supporter. We don't talk to Collingwood supporters. On this, Vic and I agreed.

Anyway, after we had exhausted the topics of smoking, drinking, veggie gardens and footy, Vic noticed my knitting.

What was I knitting? A sock for my husband.

"Oh!", he said, "just like my Mamma."

Vic is 67 years old and was born just outside Rome. He emigrated from Italy 40 years ago and is the youngest of six boys and the only one of his mother's sons still living. He owns his own taxi and now works only 4 days a week.  His brother-in-law does the other three days.

He told me his mamma knitted socks for all her boys and her husband and also jumpers and undershirts. "Dio", he said, "how itchy those undershirts were the first time you wore them! But mamma said wear them or freeze, so we wear them."

I am so grateful to have the privilege of hearing Vic's story and tonight he is going home to his family and will tell them of his Mamma and her handknitted singlets. He has never told them before.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I like it long and slow

TOF and I have been experimenting.  We are making it long and slow.  And it's delicious.

The newest addition to our toy cupboard is a slow cooker.

Mum had a crock pot in the 70s and I remember fatty and flavourless stews.  But the slow cooker has made a comeback in recent years and there have been definite improvements to the technology.  Ours was $52 from Target and has three settings - warm, slow and fast.  I chose it because you can set the timer and when it's done automatically changes to warm.

We are time poor people with food issues.  Drive through and take away is not an option for us. Well, there arechips at the Maccas - freshly cooked in vegetable oil, gluten free - they suit both of us, except that they aren't particularly healthy and are delicious sometimes foods.  But I digress.

When you have Food Issues or Dietary Requirements, forward planning is essential. We like meals that are full of fibre and flavour, but which are not dependent on fat and salt for the flavour content.  So that combined with our other Dietary Requirements - home made suits us best.  The slow cooker means on the days when we are home for 45 minutes between work and community involvement stuff, a healthy and satisfying meal is available and we still have time to walk the dogs.

Middle Eastern Lamb Stew

(Heavily adapted by a recipe of the same name by Sally Wise (St Sally in our household) published in her book Slow Cooker : Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons.  ABC Books, 2009.)

Serves 4

  • 750g diced lean lamb
  • garlic oil
  • 1 large carrot chopped into rounds
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin (optional - tends to disintegrate and add sweetness, fibre and thickness to the sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder (we like it hot - reduce by half for a moderate heat)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 700ml  (veggie, chicken - whatever you have)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 preserved lemon finely chopped (or 1/4 cup olives)
  • 4 spring onion tops - the green bits only - finely chopped (or half spring onion tops, half garlic chives)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 cup natural goat, sheep or buffalo yoghurt (you can use whatever yoghurt tolerable to you - optional)
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped mint

  • Brown the lamb in batches in the garlic oil.
  • Place all ingredients except the cornflour, yoghurt and mint into the slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Take a little of the sauce and make a slurry with the cornflour.
  • Return to pot for a little longer to thicken sauce.
  • Just before serving stir through yoghurt if preferred and sprinkle with chopped fresh mint.
Serve over rice or mashed sweet potato with steamed veggies or a salad.

Sally Wise also has a set of gluten free recipes on her site.  Most of them are adaptable to be low-FODMAP as well.  Hmm, I feel a challenge coming one.  She is also blogging recipes for those with food intolerances and allergies on Health For Life Kitchen.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Teryaki Chicken Meatballs - low FODMAP style

This recipe is lifted in the main from Kate Scarlata's website.  Kaye is a dietician specialising in IBS and FODMAPs and her site is worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing.

I found it when we had to deal with a bulk buy of chicken breast mince.  What can I say, breast of chicken is high protein, low fat and one of the few meats my delicate digestion can cope with.  When it's 70% off at the supermarket, of course I'm bringing it home. 

I made it as described the first time but the sauce was too sweet and didn't have the balance of flavours we expect from Asian-style dishes.  The meatballs themselves, though, are delicious and quite versatile.  I make them small for better portion control and quicker cooking.

Great tossed through a tomato/marinara sauce and served over gluten free pasta, or served on rice with steamed veg and a little gluten free sauce.  Also good with salad ingredients in a corn tortilla.

Goes well on a toothpick with a dipping sauce for parties.

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs 

serves 4-6


  • 500g chicken breast mince
  • 1/4 cup rice crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of ajvar or sample ole
  • 2 spring onion tops (the green bit), very finely chopped (or a mix of spring onion tops and garlic chives)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or garlic oil
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Line an oven tray with baking paper, a silicone baking sheet, or spray with vegetable oil.
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  I use my hand to get a good distribution of ingredients.
  • Using a teaspoon of the mixture at a time, roll meatballs.  I get 40-45.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.