Saturday, 28 April 2012

The wedding ceremony

We had a magnificent wedding day. The vogue pattern (V2788) turned out magnificently (after being taken in by 5cm on all seams, and taken up at the hem by 20cm!!) and my mum made the veil. The wedding was held down at Inverloch, Victoria, at Shack Bay. We had cloud all morning, and then it lifted to a beautiful, mild sunny afternoon. With the help of my fabulous bridesmaids and a couple of glasses of champagne, I had a thoroughly wonderful time all day. Everything went off without a hitch!!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wedding dress progress

Some time ago I posted about the engagement dress that I had made for myself, and now 2 years later I'm here posting about the wedding dress. I sort of looked at dresses, but nothing ever fits (they don't make wedding dresses for women the size of 12 year old girls), I didn't want to go strapless and be hitching my dress all night, or worse, be spilling over the top. And I kept coming back to this Vogue pattern (V2788):

I originally had plans to make my own wedding dress, but the PhD is taking longer than expected (as they do). Oh well, these things happen. Although I'm crazy, I'm not crazy enough to write up and make my own dress. So I've enlisted a friend's mother to help, and she'll be doing the actual sewing, but I've just finished doing the drafting and I'm helping cut it all out next week. She can do the stressful bit. I made a toile and I was surprised that, for a Vogue pattern, it was not only easy to make - the toile took me only an hour to make (cutting took me about 5 freaking hours...) - but the fitting is pretty much spot on! Just brought it in across the back, took it in at the hips, and brought the skirt in by about 4cm on each seam so I don't look like this on my wedding day:

The fabric and bridal lace has been purchased, so now it's just down to cutting and making. Update soon. But I promise this blog won't become dedicated to wedding planning cos that's not my scene.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Long time no see... and some Blood plum and tamarind sauce

It's been a while since I've posted in this place, and there's been a few cobwebs that have formed (i.e. mountains of spam) which I'll deal with soon... maybe after I've deal with the real cobwebs around the house. I'm not sure if I'll be posting here on a regular basis again, but I desperately needed jot down some recipes so I don't forget them. There are a lot of projects that I'm super keen to document around here, but there's a PhD to finish...

I'm at the tail end of my PhD, and right at this very moment in time I'm writing papers, making blood plum and tamarind sauce and listening to the Triple J hottest 100. I'm pausing from my science writing because I didn't want to forget my recipe for blood plum and tamarind sauce. It's warm outside and so it's going to be Gin and Tonic O'clock soon, and then I'll definitely forget the recipe.

This weekend is pickling weekend with some friends, and I needed to get started because there are a lot of jars to sterilize and fill. 100 jars, to be precise. We're also going to be making my peach chutney and ajvar.

I kind of winged this recipe, based it on a few others like Maggie Beer, Gourmet Traveller and SMH. Here we go

Blood plum and tamarind BBQ sauce

2 large onions, finely chopped
1.8kg blood plums, skin on, halved, seeds removed
250 ml red wine vinegar
250 ml water
700g brown sugar
1/3 cup tamarind puree
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp tabasco

  1. Sautee onions, garlic and ginger for 4-5 mins until softened
  2. Add plum halves, red wine vinegar, water brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and tabasco
  3. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 mins. Puree.
  4. Continue to reduce on a very low heat until a desired consistency is reached. Puree again.
  5. Bottle and process.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Up and away!

It's all official. We're heading to Canada and the USA in July/August this year! Gib and I are going to his best high school friend's wedding in, do some hiking, shopping, train trips, sight seeing, I'm going to present some of the awesome work I've been doing for my PhD to another lab doing similarly awesome work, attend a conference, visit friends and relatives. There is so much stuff that I need to get sorted before then. I have to learn how to make a Pavlova. So much data I need to analyse. So much freaking paperwork too. It's huge.

I sent Possum Magic to our friends in Washington, who have a young son, and they said they liked the book but had no idea what Pavlova was. I know how to eat them really well, but have no idea how to make them. That's going to need to be rectified before I go. Top priority.

But I'm looking forward to the holiday. Seeing my wonderful relatives. And fabric shopping.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nightmare after pancake

I had my younger cousins stay overnight on the weekend, so naturally, being the awesome bigger cousin (in age, obviously not height...) that I am, I made a large stack of delicious pancakes for breakfast. In the process, I accidentally created this hilarious but rather scary looking pancake...

We thought the pancake looked very similar to Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas (even moreso after Gib "modelled" the pancake for us)....

Hope you guys all had a fun weekend too!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter baking and Easter hiking

We went to the Grampians this weekend with a few of our adventurous friends. The trip was fuelled largely by this amazingly sickly sweet but delicious Easter egg caramel slice (a.k.a. diabetes-in-a-block) that I had baked, and some discount Wispa bars that we picked up a big armful of in Coles. In the recipe, I only used half the quantity for sweetened condensed milk, and really, it was enough! The recipe says that it makes 15, but for us it made about 24... really sickly. Really easy to make, would highly recommend this recipe for any people with a sweet tooth out there.

We camped at Mt Stapylton campground and hiked along the campground track up to Mt Stapylton. Gib and I have hiked this one before, but I never made it to the peak. I was keen to do this walk as payback to Jocelyn taking us up the near vertical climb up Sugarloaf Peak at Cathedral Ranges a few weeks back. However, it turns out that my fear of heights has improved since the first time I did Mt Stapylton, so I managed to make it to the top this time and it wasn't nearly as bad as Sugarloaf! There were a few differences this time though: it was warmer and less windy so it felt less exposed, I had better shoes, and made the smart decision to leave my pack on one of the rock shelves below. The same ledge before the final peak that made me terrified the first time is still terrifying, but was manageable with the guidance of our good friends.

The following day we headed to the Southern Grampians to climb Mt Abrupt and do some off-the-track GeoCaching. We don't have any photos as yet because the memory card in the camera was full so our friends took the photos, but here is a photo of pretty much exactly what we saw. I think it offers one of the best views of the Grampians I have seen. That said, the view from the spot where our geocache was was equally spectacular, looking up towards the beautiful Mt Abrupt summit.

For Easter Sunday (we arrived home from camping Saturday night, Jocelyn had to work - poo!) I baked some Koulourakia, Greek Easter biscuits. The recipe was great, easy to follow, and the result is delicious. My Greek work colleague tells me they store very well, however I don't think they're going to last very long around here.

Hope you all had a happy Easter!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lime and banana cake

For another baked treat for Gib to take to work, I combined this fantastic coconut banana bread with lime glaze recipe.

A very happy worker snacking on a slice of his Sticky banana, coconut and lime loaf for morning tea

It was fine stored in an airtight container for up to a week. It was moist, zesty and filling, and we'll definitely be making this one again to take to work.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Brain Awareness Week

This week is Brain Awareness Week! (although, I don't feel particularly aware of my brain right now... another coffee needed...). And so to celebrate, I'm going to share with you some more crafty + brain stuff that I've found.

The Brain Hat. I love how it's half way between a brain and Princess Leia. That is cool.

Purkinje Cells, burnt into watercolour paper, by Nuredduna. Purkinje Cells are my most favourite cell in the entire body (massive claim, I know). They are very beautiful.

The tunic and artworks above I have eyed off for some time. They are absolutely amazing. They are by etsy seller, NeuralNetwork. She's a great artist, but also a student of neuroscience. I love it!

And also, while I'm at it, anyone for a brain jelly mould?

Purchase from here!

If you're in Melbourne, you can check out what events are on here. There are still more events on if you're keen to get your neuroscience fix.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I think I need to visit...

... Tessuti fabric shop in Melbourne. Why haven't I been there before??!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Peach and almond slice

I used up some of my preserved peaches to make delicious snack for Gib to take to work. I used this very quick and easy Peach and Almond Slice recipe, with my peaches that I had preserved in a light cinnamon infused syrup.

It went from this:

To this:

The hard part was making sure Gib didn't eat it all at once! It kept well for about 5 days in an air tight container. Yumyumyum.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Pickled eggy weggies and other things

Today I teamed up with some friends for another pickling day. I decided to keep my list of things to pickle nice and simple, just a pear chutney and some pickled eggs. There was an attempt at preserved rockmelon, which I personally wouldn't recommend...! The others from the day might have different thoughts on that. But we also made brandied peaches, tomato salsa, chili pickled onions and some of our own pineapple sweet and sour simmer sauce: our "Kan Tong" blend.

"We were/making Kan Tong/doesn't take long/to make your own!"

I can't wait to try my pickled eggs. Not the best photo, only taken on a phone, but I reckon they looked really ace in the jar. In a week or so I'm going to try them. I followed the recipe on this website, which had some great recipes, but the one called 'British pub pickled eggs' sounded most appealing to me.

The recipe for the pear chutney I picked up from a feature on pears in The Age's Epicure section a few weeks ago. I've heard a few references to pear chutney recently and how amazing it is, from all sorts of odd places, so I was itching to give it a go. The pears have been great these last few weeks, it was really hard not to just eat them instead of making them into chutney.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Drawtism: Play Pictionary and raise some $$ for autism!

My karate club will be hosting a Pictionary game for the Drawtism fundraiser, maybe you'd like to host one too? The go is that you organise a bunch of people to play a game of Pictionary in May to help raise money for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASDs include autism and Asperger's Disorder and affect about 1 in 100 individuals in Australia (although there is still ongoing debate over its true numbers). I reckon this is a pretty fun way to get involved, increase awareness and raise some funds. The game can be as big or small as you like: maybe with family and friends at home, or a session around lunch with your work colleagues.

Alpha is managing the fundraiser on behalf of state autism bodies in Australia and the money raised in each state will go to supporting services in that state. If you're interested, go here to register!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Chilling out with kiwi fruit sorbet

Last weekend I had a bowl of kiwi fruits just sitting around looking unloved. So before they went to inedible mush, I mashed them up and converted them into a delicious, fizzy sorbet. This was the day before the ridiculous hail storm we had in Melbourne, in which we personally experienced golf ball sized chunks of hail. It was quite scary.

> golf ball sized chunks of hail. Crazy!

I kind of made it up as I went along, with a basic sugar syrup and some lime and cointreau to give it a lift. The cointreau also helps to keep it slightly soft to make it easy to serve. I reckon limoncello would go very well too. The key to making sorbet is breaking up all the little ice crystals so it's all smooth. I don't have an ice cream maker, but I do have a stab mixer that blends ice.

How I make delicious Kiwi Fruit Sorbet without an ice cream machine

8 kiwi fruit
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp cointreau
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch salt

  1. Dissolve sugar in water in a saucepan, bring to the boil for 1 minute, then set aside until cool.
  2. Peel kiwi fruit, blend in a food processor until they are an even slushy consistency.
  3. Add cointreau, lime juice, salt and syrup, process until smooth.
  4. Transfer into a container (I used an old ice cream container) and place into the freezer for 1-2 hours.
  5. Using a stab mixer, blend up your frozen kiwi fruit puree until all the ice crystals are broken up. Smooth over, re-freeze for another 1-2 hours (or overnight, as I did) and blend once more.
  6. Allow to refreeze, and eat when desired.
I'd recommend consuming this within a week. Although eating it all in that space of time should not be a problem, I'd say!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

It's all about the little stuff

Here are photos of some neat little bugs I found on our adventures over the past few months. I have no idea what most of them are, but I thought they cool.

We found this little guy in Sydney, wandering along a path at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

A native wasp? on a hike in Macedon

This little critter at Phillip Island. I thought he looked kind of cute with his head tipped upside down.

Some unknown but groovy looking bug at Cathedral Ranges

And here's the same bug now waving his butt at us. I'm not sure what that means... perhaps he doesn't like us?

An unusual find: We spotted this hawk moth at Cathedral Ranges, just sunning itself on a rock

The hawk moth, from all angles

This was a cockroach we found on the beach on the east coast of Tasmania. It did not look real at all, like it was a boy's toy made entirely out of metal, complete with little "rivets" down the side. Absolutely amazing find. We've never been able to ID it.

Enjoy! Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Peach chutney

We had a few leftover peaches last week, so I chopped them up and put them in with a bunch of other ingredients and left them to "marinate" overnight in vinegar, sugar and spices. I've done this in the past with mango chutney, and it improves the flavour... and because I was feeling tired and lazy, but the peaches needed to be chopped up or they were going to go nasty. The peach chutney is a refreshing change to mango chutney.

I adapted this recipe over at the ABC website:

75g brown sugar
70ml red wine vinegar
6 -7 large firm peaches cut into chunks
2 tblsp sultanas
1 chopped onion
1 small diced capsicum
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
1/4 teasp mustard seeds
1/4 teasp salt
1/4 teasp pepper

1. Combine brown sugar, red wine vinegar, peaches, sultanas, onion, capsicum, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder, mustard seeds, salt, pepper. Leave over night.

2. The next day, bring mixture to the boil in a saucepan and boil rapidly for 15 - 20 mins until the mixture is thick and syrupy

3. Transfer to sterilised jars and process in a water bath to seal.