Taproot :: Share

 
Stitching

Ah the waiting-game!  The anticipation is always so exciting and just like my kids on Christmas Eve, I've been bouncing up and down watching for each day's post.  I may have even been somewhat stalking my mailbox, so eager for the delivery of an international parcel.  A parcel of the printed kind.

Yesterday, finally, at long last and at the tail-end of the Christmas rush, it arrived.  Or they arrived.  One subscriber copy of Taproot - the magazine for makers, doers and dreamers and one, wait for it... are you ready?  One contributor's copy!! 

Stitch & Cut
Close up Back

I have been a subscriber to Taproot since their very first issue 5 years ago, and although I eagerly await it's arrival with the shift of every season, this one holds something particularly exciting.  It's Issue 20 :: SHARE and inside those pages, from number 34 to 41 you will find an article by my dear friend Christine titled, The Power Of Handmade.  Actually, the words on page 41 with the title of Healing Stitches, although part of Christine's article,  those ones have been written by yours truly. 

Nearly twelve months ago, Christine connected an incredible group of women from all across the U.S, plus little ol' me here in OZ, and organised us to share in a sew-along project.  We worked with DIY kits from Alabama Chanin and as each of us received our panels, we began to sew one slow stitch at a time, all by hand and all with a common intention.

Weeks later, these individual panels all came together in Christine's Rhode Island lounge room where some local women from our group (not me, waaah!) continued the hand stitching to create four exquisite garments.  These were then gifted to four women as a surprise offering in hopes they would shed a little ray of love, light and support during a time when Life for these women was filled with sorrow.

Christine's article tells her personal story on why and how this project of hers came about and when Taproot's Editor, Amanda Blake Soule (AKA SouleMama) approached Christine to share her story for this issue, my sweet friend invited me to put my voice to her piece.  She felt it would compliment the very essence held within the sew-along project.  More than one person's hands stitched those garments, so she wanted more than one persons 'voice' to be 'heard' when telling the story. 

It was an absolute delight to work with Christine on this article, and in fact the whole sew-along project.  Could there be a more wonderful way to wrap up my writing year and close out 2016 than this?!  Of course, there is SO much more to this story but you'll just have to get your hands on a copy of SHARE to find out the rest.  If you are not a subscriber you can purchase a copy directly through Taproot's shop or,  for all Aussies and New Zealanders, Tassie based Spiral Garden has also received their shipment.  Taproot is published independently and is ad-free.  That's a huge double thumbs up in my book!  It's pages are full of beautiful illustrations, inspiring recipes, tutorials, craft, personal stories and so much more.  It is without question, an absolute favourite of mine and somehow it just keeps getting better and better with each issue.

We'll be celebrating the New Year tonight at our neighbours and tomorrow I'm hoping the kids will stay entertained with their projects long enough for me to start reading SHARE cover to cover.  A quick flick has me plotting ways to steal a few moments today even ;)

I wish you all so much joy in your New Years celebrations and may your 2017 be filled with peace, blessings and laughter.  I'll see you over the other side - 2017, I can't wait!

Lots of love, friends xo

 

To Make and Be Merry

 
Pretty Things

Last week was a rough week for the kids, they are missing their dad.  I've been doing so much writing about grief in my published work, that I've tended to focus on all the other happenings when writing in this space.  I do think however, that an update is overdue.  Once we have greeted in the New Year I will set about sharing some of those details with you, since as you know (if you've been visiting awhile) it's a topic I am very comfortable with and I fully believe it is healthy to keep sharing our process.  We are coming up to the two year anniversary since Tuck was killed so perhaps I will plan that blog post to coincide.  For now though, I'll talk about this past weekend.

We had intended to join in on a couple of parties, but after a week filled with many tears and cuddles we decided that laying low and being at home was instead the thing for us to do.  It meant the Christmas songs went onto continuous play, stories were read from our basket of Christmas books - which incidentally is stowed away in the cupboard throughout the rest of the year until December 1st when all things Christmassy emerge around our home.   And in between it all, a delightful amount of gift making unfolded. 

Those that know me are well aware that I am a bonafide packaging flirt!  Give me earth tones and brown paper with string, and my heart starts to go pitty-pat.  Add a little whimsy or a few dried up dead things and I . am . gone!  So, it hardly needs to be said that when it comes to making gifts I like them to look pretty too.  

Generally, I always have a stash of supplies in the cupboard but a few weeks ago I grabbed some extra bits to bump up that stash without any solid plan as to which direction I was heading.  As it turned out, by last week I still had no idea because I kind of felt like playing with all of it.  So, come the weekend, that's just what I did.

** spoiler alert for anyone who may be on the receiving end of these gifts! I hope you like them ;) **

Hand Butter

Small batches of each!  First up was hand butter.  I've made this recipe quite a few times now and not just for gifts.  I make it to use on my own hands and keep a jar atop my bedhead - rubbing a little of it in each night is the very last thing i do before my head hits the pillow.  I love the stuff!  And making it is easy peasy.  Click that link above and it will take you through to an older post from when I made it for the first time.  All recipe details and The Prairie Homestead link-love can be found there. 

Mixing

Then there was bath salts, a calming blend with magnesium flakes, pink Himalayan rock salt and rose petals that I plucked off my mum's heritage bushes a few weeks ago.  It's all been scented with a few drops of essential oils and one of the best bits about making these gifts is that I get to use the leftovers ;)  I know many people who are not bath takers and at various times over the years we've had conversations about why that is so.  Although it still baffles me as to why they feel such ways, they do all have valid reasons, ha, I'm sure they are baffled by many of my habits too.  So anyway, these salts are not for them!  I, on the other hand, and at the risk of over-sharing, am a bath taker.  Not just that, I am a bath lover!  So much so that having a bathroom with a bath ranks within my top three prerequisites when house hunting.  I have actually walked away from perfectly lovely houses over the years simply because they did not have a bath.  There was one house, once, that didn't have a bath and I pined every . single . day!  I think Tuck got so sick of hearing me whine about the lack of bath that he swore we would never live without one again.  All that aside, an evening soak is a constant for me.  It is part of my end-of-day ritual and within that water there is often a mix of whatever I'm feeling like on any given day- salts, oils, bubbles, soap and many times, nothing at all.  Lately it's been the leftovers from this batch of salts.  Win win eh!?  :)

Next on the list was the vanilla extract.  Honestly, if you are taking notes for next year and want a gift that you can pull together in as little time as pouring out a drink, this is your answer!  You don't even need to put a fancy label on it if you don't want to, and you don't need a apothecary bottle either.  For my own stash, I use an old jam jar- a pretty jam jar, because I like all things pretty, but a jam jar nonetheless.  Now I have done vanilla before, but this time I changed up the labels a bit.  I bought a bottle of vodka way back in the middle of the year, added a heap of split vanilla beans to it and left it down in the cellar to do it's thing.  At that point I wasn't sure whether I was going to follow through on decanting vanilla extract for Christmas gifts, but given it's soaking in alcohol, it never goes off so it does no harm to always have some at the ready.

Labeling

And by the way, Avery craft labels and their online templates completely rock!

Flat Lay
Candle

And finally, the candles.  Oh the candles!  I've decided that candle making is a lot harder than I thought it would be, I mean technically it's just a matter of melting the wax down with a double boiler and pouring it in, right?  Well maybe I've missed something but, no, these candles were not quite that straight forward.  I make tea-light candles with beeswax quite regularly as we use them for our nightly verse and 'light ceremony'.  I knew if I wanted to try larger candles then I would have to get some suitable wicks that didn't drown in the thicker melt pool - I've learned that one the hard way before!  Initially everything went to plan and all was well in my happy candle making bubble.  I was even using my own hand-rendered beeswax, given to me ages ago by my friend and permaculture garden designer, Nadja.  She passed it on after harvesting her honey and I then rendered it and have had the blocks in my stash cupboard to use for various projects ever since. 

So I had my jars and I had a nice large square wick cut and positioned for each one.  Once my wax was melted I added some essential oils.  The fragrance of which will never ever be matched again since as I was adding the first couple of oils I decided I wasn't really achieving the "Summertime" scent I was going for, so I grabbed my whole supply box of oils and just kept adding and mixing all kinds of different ones until I liked what I got.  It took a while and it took a lot of oils because the gorgeous sweet scent of honey in the wax kept distracting me.  So then I poured it out and for the most part, things were still going smoothly, but then as the wax cooled it set with weird looking marks on the inside of the glass.  I thought about covering it up with a wrap around label but that was going to be a pain so instead, I got my Fowlers water bath preserving unit out and thought I'd try to remelt the wax inside the jar so it would hopefully set again with more even tone.  But then there was the wick, ah yes I'd forgotten that of course the wick would move about on me with the wax melting so quick smart I grabbed the little holder thingys I had and, all was well again, my plan was working!!  Then crack!  It was the unmistakable crack of glass.  Argh!  There were three jars in there, the water was boiling, the jars were hot and the wax was liquified.  Plus I had those wicks to think about and I didn't want to go spilling wax all over my Fowlers, let alone anywhere else.  So I did what any sensible, responsible person would do in my situation.  I abandoned ship and went AWOL!  I turned the heat off and walked away so they could cool down and reset in their own luxurious time. 

Much later on, I returned and gently lifted the jars out- the wax had cooled and was just about set again by this stage.  My Fowlers was still clean and it was time for me to find the crack - which jar and where was it?  One by one I carried them to the table and on my second trip, plop!  The entire base of the jar I was carrying dropped cleanly away and I was left holding the remainder.  I tipped it upside down and the candle slid out as though the glass had simply been a mold.  Then there was the third candle.  I guess some of the water must have found it's way inside while it was simmering because I noticed the candle rattling within the jar as I moved it.  So I tipped it up and just like candle number two, it plopped out into my hand, only save the broken jar this time.  Humm, so out of three candles, only one is within it's jar as I had intended, but I think the other two are still okay to give as gifts, what do you think?  None of them are perfect but a few little flaws won't matter just as long as they burn properly... (fingers crossed).

Rose Petals
Boxload

It's our last week of school this week and tonight we have Celebration Night.  Summer finally seems to be kicking in with 36'C yesterday and again today.  It's hot, but later on the whole school will gather; kids, parents and teachers, and songs will be sung by each class while the families sit around on picnic rugs or camp chairs with whatever yummies they've brought along in their baskets.  Then just a few more days before a lunchtime break-up on Friday and then we three will welcome in a long Summer break.  Yip yip yippy!!!  The Australian school year is broken up into four terms spanning from late January to mid-December.  For us this means six weeks of family fun in the sun and Christmas kicks it off!!!  Then next year once school returns my littles will begin Grade 3 and Grade 1.  Really?  It's all happening in a blink, but I'm not going to think about that right now.  There's Merry Making to be done!

Before I sign out for 2016, I will be back with one more post.  It's something exciting that I want to share but I have to wait for some international mail first.

Happy days friends xo

The Collection

The Weekend That Was

 
Garlic Scapes.jpg

I know I have mentioned it on Instagram before but I don't think I've spoken of it here..?  I hold a monthly ritual these days, where I step back and unplug around the time of each full moon.  Over this past weekend not only did I unplug, but we three went the extra mile and entered into domestic lock-down mode where no one came in and no one went out!  It was lovely and just what was needed after last week's global events.  Despite all the confusion and uncertainty that has been swirling around since the U.S. election, there is one thing that remains clear; no one can ever take away our Love and Connection.  Be it with our children and families, our friends, our relationship with Mother Nature, or our community.  The value and importance of love and connection holds fast and, I believe, is what gets each and every one of us through the days when everything else seems shaky. 

It's no surprise that creativity- in all it's many forms- is woven thickly into each of my days.  Creating is how I regain and maintain my centre.  It is my fuel and helps to shift my focus away from external (or global) chaos.  It's a guiding light leading me back home to my nest and even though I have at times pondered over whether I should hone my skills into one specific craft, it's times like these that remind me of why I like to explore.  Depending on where I'm at or the influences that have led me there, I will sometimes create through sewing or knitting, sometimes it might be another textile art or a home DIY, and then sometimes it is gardening or cooking.  This past weekend it was all about the later and of course, there's always a bunch of photos taken along the way ;)

Scape Pesto.jpg

So a couple of weeks ago there was a garden update where I spoke of a potential mid-November garlic harvest.  Well here we are and yep, I probably could get out there and pull up those bulbs.  They would be fine, except out of the blue (and for the first time in my garlic growing experience) I noticed a lovely long tendril growing out of almost every plant.  I feel like those scapes appeared overnight but in truth I think I have been too busy and distracted to see past the leaves and actually notice that they were there.  In my defense they are a bit camouflaged but while searching for a scape pesto recipe* I learned that the appearance of said scapes indicates the bulbs are about two weeks away from being ready.  I guess that means I'm about two weeks away from pulling those babies up.  In the mean time, with walnuts and Parmesan on hand, I snipped the scapes and blended them into a pesto.  Now the plants can spend these coming days putting all their energy back into the bulbs so that they are as best as can be for harvest time. 

Kombucha.jpg

Next on my list was to get making with that sourdough culture and the kombucha scoby I brought home from the Makers Table.  I started the first ferment for the kombucha about a week ago so the weekend was a perfect time to bottle that batch with their flavours.  Once capped I returned them to the cellar for their second ferment and away I went with another fresh batch of tea.  This first lot of bottles I've flavoured with strawberry and ginger, and I'll let you know what it's like in a few days after I transfer them from their shelf in the cellar to a shelf in the fridge.  Cross your fingers for me!

Kombucha.jpg

Now will you allow me a moment to gloat... just for a second?  Because I thought I might have killed that thriving (sourdough) mother culture I came home with the other weekend.  You see, the busy days took over and I kind of forgot what I was suppose to do with it, so for a little too long it sat on my kitchen bench before I shoved it into the fridge.  On Saturday I pulled it out and tried to revive it with a fresh feed (flour and filtered water) before leaving it to sit and then mixing it into a dough later that night.  Then Sunday I got baking and would you have a look at it!?!!!  I am feeling so darn excited (and maybe a little bit chuffed with myself!).  It worked and it is delicious!!!  I fed the remaining starter and am keeping it in the cellar (hopefully a safe enough distance from the kombucha since I've been warned that scoby is a bully and will take over any other fermenting process, eeep!).  I'll go again with another loaf this coming weekend and if it turns out half as good as this first one then I think it could well be the start of a wonderful love affair!!!

Sourdough.jpg
Bread.jpg

And just because no weekend full of making, baking and creating is complete without a batch of cookies, I have to include a shot of this lot.  They are sultana and dark chocolate chip using rye flour and dark muscovado sugar.  I use a basic biscuit base recipe and change it up with add-ins each time I make them.  The base recipe is the Milkwood Farm House Cookie and although I have usually used the raw (unrefined) sugar they call for in the recipe, this time around I only had dark muscovado so I went with it and I think I'll repeat that variation again because the extra molasses caramelises and makes for a super delicious, crunchy but chewy cookie.

So in between games of Battleship, chapters of Harry Potter book 3 (that's our current family novel), and the washing and vacuuming, there was a fair bit of time in the kitchen and all of it felt just right.  Now the Moon has reached her peak and here down in S.A. we had a clear night so She was as Super as they said she'd be.  A fresh new week has begun and although there is still so much unrest in the world, I feel lucky and grateful that I can still focus on what is most important to me. 

Over the next couple of weeks I've got a deadline to get cracking on so I might fall quiet here but I'll be back to share soon. 

Have a great week friends! xo

Choc Chip Cookies.jpg

* Ps/ I nearly forgot... the scape pesto recipe I used is from here ;)