The Weekend That Was

 
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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 ;)

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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. 

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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!

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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!!!

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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

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

 

Makers Table

 

It's been years since I last visited the Barossa Valley but I certainly won't be leaving it that long again.  The Barossa is one of South Australia's award winning wine regions and is about an hours drive north east of Adelaide.  It is of course, incredibly beautiful with vistas of picturesque vineyards at every turn and is absolutely overflowing with artisan talent.  It thrills me no end to realise that these qualities are being recognised by those far and wide and a showcase for the region's finest was enjoyed last Sunday at Langmeil Winery in Tanunda.

Hosted by Country Style magazine as part of their 'Campaign For Country', the Makers Table was a special reader event which included a series of four workshops- each presented by local producers- and a long table lunch fit for royalty.  The day actually included so very much more but I'll get to that as we move through. 

Country Style ambassador and local Barossa producer, Cherie Hausler of Scullery Made ensured we were each greeted on arrival by her warm and contagious smile.  By her side stood Barossa Coffee, dedicated to serving up their fine brew so that our morning was off to the right start ;)  After a bit of chatting and some intros, we were into it.  I'm not entirely sure what the total headcount for the day was but we were placed into four groups to enable a smooth passage throughout.

My workshops began with Will and the making of sourdough bread.  William Wood of Careme Pastry is extraordinary and it's entirely possible that I have a wee crush on this man.  Or a crush on his knowledge, passion and respect for his craft, at the very least. 

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He talked of folding and stretching the dough, and gently coaxing it to roll across the bench by allowing the dough to grab rather than the hand pulling, forcing and kneading.  He says the dough must not be overworked...

in the artisan world, it is disrespectful to the flour

You can see why I have my crush, can't you?!  I shall say no more apart from I now have a jar of the most thriving starter culture you ever did see- so alive that it erupted on me before the day was through! 

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My next workshop had me stepping through the stable door and into a cave of blooms.  Janelle Amos of Self Pollinate immersed us all in the artful practice of nature mandala making.

My work is spontaneous, ephemeral and organic, made and photographed in the natural light of the moment.

Can we just pause here for a moment because I am in love with that word, "ephemeral".  It would have to be the most poetic description for something that only lasts for a short time.  I get stuck on words like that, I think about them while hanging out the washing or clearing the table.  Is that weird?  Am I revealing too much ha?!  Righto, let's move on shall we..?

During her workshop we each created our own mandalas, enjoying the freedom to use whatever whole or fragmented pieces lay before us.  It was a window of joyful meditation in the most divine space imaginable.

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Down the table from Janelle, that divine space continued with a little pop-up shop.  Just three tables celebrating the creative passions of each artisan and displayed with enough beauty to make your heart ache.

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Lunch time!  Prepared by Pete Little and Beck Flavel of Little and Often, and using locally made ingredients, it's fair to say that lunch was exquisite.  Barrels full of fine vintages, the strum of guitar and a goodies bag bursting with a huge collection of 'take home' delights is what greeted us as we found our seats.  Then mouthwatering food, kombucha, wine, fabulous company and the continuation of rich conversation.  The whole day was filled with moments to savour and lunch was no exception.

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I haven't quite got to Cherie's workshop yet but that's her there (pictured below).  I'm jumping in here because it has to be noted that she made those cakes!  Look at them, would you!?!!!  Oh good golly.  I can assure you that they tasted just as amazing.

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After lunch it was a workshop with the tea (and cake) queen herself.  Cherie is delightful and had us each decanting kombucha into our own little bottle, which we then infused with a choice of flavour; dried quandong, quince, rose, cinnamon...?  We then bottled it and skipped merrily away with our own fermented 'elixir of life'.  Plus a healthy glob of scoby, in a separate jar and ready to do it's thing in our own brew at home.

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And now my final workshop for the day.  The making of a copper spoon with my friend and ceramicist, Ilona Glastonbury.  Ilona is the creative force behind Otti Made and The Hundred Mile Home and before you hop into bed tonight, I fully support the hour or so you spend ogling her Instagram feed!  And take it from me, you wouldn't be the first to weep from the sheer beauty of her pics.

Ilona and her buddy, Pete, gave us each a little pack and demonstration to get us started and then away we went.  Hammer hammer, bash bash, file file, polish polish and a little while later, we each had our own shiny copper spoon to take home. 

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Which brings me to the day's end.  I know, I'm sad too.  But before I bid you a lovely weekend to come, there is just one more thing I'd like to mention.  There was a secret ingredient to this day and although I would have enjoyed myself regardless, this day has claimed a place in my "favourite days of all time" Hall of Fame because of that secret ingredient.  It was The People.  I have a conflicted relationship with technology and social media in particular but since the time I apprehensively entered the world of Instagram, I have connected with so many like-minded and incredible people.  It's a space where you find your Tribe and I am certain that many Instagramers would say the same.  It's a virtual land of encouragement, support and inspiration and I have had the greatest of fortune to weave friendships with some true kindred spirits.  One of these women happens to be Ilona and once this event was announced, a couple of us local gals and another from Victoria decided we would go along and seize the opportunity to meet in real life.  With the four of us all together we greeted one another like the reunion of long lost girlfriends and we all stayed on well after our last workshop, neither one of us quite ready to let the day draw to a close.

Eventually, we did have to drag ourselves away.  Though I have this feeling that we have all known each other before.  Who knows where, or how, or even which lifetime?  For now it shall remain as one of those big Universal mysteries but I think these blossoming friendships could well be the sort to last a lifetime.

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The Craft Sessions 2016

 
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Today it's all about the photos!  There's plenty here but you may notice a few gaps from the weekend - I'll tell you why in a sec. 

When I went to The Craft Sessions last year I chose two full day workshops, both exploring skills I was interested in and keen to try, but had not yet done so.  They were dyeing with Australian native plants and textile collage.  I loved them both but this year I decided to get a little more practical with my preferences.  It was possibly the only way I was going to narrow down the delicious smorgasbord of workshops on offer!  I very nearly put spoon carving and ceramics down for my first choices and I most certainly did add them to the preference list, but this time I really wanted to practise areas that I am more likely to truly use in my everyday crafting life.

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So my classes for this year were:

Garment Sewing - Knit Leggings with Anna Ng (Friday afternoon)

Knitting - Clever Cast Ons and Bind Offs with Kirsten Johnstone (Saturday morning)

and Handwork - Embroidery Sampler with Elizabeth Barnett (Sunday)

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And here's where I'll explain about the gaps!  The knit leggings class was fantastic and I can't wait to sew many, many more and then I can actually have some decent leggings to wear - am I the only one who struggles to find such things?  I came away with a great pattern and enough confidence in knit fabrics to be able to select wisely.  I can certainly cheat with the waist band but if I want to get all fancy then I now have a double needle and I've even discovered what on Earth stretch nylon thread is and looks like.  The class ran for four hours and there was a lot to do!  So much in fact, that I did not stop to take one single photograph!  Not one!!!  And that is the reason for gap number one. 

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After some much needed sleep I woke to have a yummy breakfast on the Saturday morning and made my way to Clever Cast Ons and Bind Offs with Kirsten.  And here is the second gap.  Part way into the class I went down with the vomits.  I know right?  Boooo!  Who knows what it was... tummy bug?  Dodgy airport food from the day before?  I don't know.  It came out of nowhere and came on hard and fast.  After delicately excusing myself from class I spent the rest of the day and evening holed up in my room with the bathroom bin next to me in bed.  My roomy came in sometime in the afternoon and sounded the alarm.  Fel and the girls took such great care of me with text messages to make sure I was okay and room service for dinner, by which stage I had started to come good and actually felt hungry again.  I did keep myself quarantined and my roomy relocated to another cabin just in case.  So anyway, that's why I missed getting pics of Kirsten's class and I missed the mini-market on Saturday afternoon too!  Last year I picked up the most gorgeous yarn and fabric from that market... ahhh sigh, maybe next year :)

On a brighter note, I woke up Sunday morning back in action and eager for breakfast and a day of embroidery.

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 Not mine!  This beautiful rosette was a sample stitched by  Elizabeth , as are the two works below.

Not mine!  This beautiful rosette was a sample stitched by Elizabeth, as are the two works below.

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 This one is mine, or the beginnings of it anyway ;)

That one above is mine, or the beginnings of it anyway ;)

  The results from all of us students at days end.

The results from all of us students at days end.

A small word about something else.  Once you collect your key from the TCS gals and make your way to your room, there is something so very super duper special that awaits you.  It's your Goodies Bag!  Oh . My . Goodness . Gracious . Me!!  The Goodies Bag!  Let me tell you it is FULL of the most exquisite crafter delights.  There's fat quarters, a pattern, samplers, discount cards galore, mini skeins and so much more.  I could show you pics of the whole lot but I think that would be teasing, instead, I'll leave you with this wee little taste...

Happy week ahead, friends xo

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ps/ excuse the wacky light tones... golden in the dining room from all that warm timber paneling, and all sorts in the Falcon Room.  It's really hard to get some kind of balance so I didn't bother fiddling with settings, I just snapped away merrily instead.