Wednesday, January 19, 2011

REAL Tomato Sauce

My family love tomato sauce. I grew up eating meat pies with tomato sauce (LONG before I was vegetarian!). So what better gift to make as part of my handmade gift packs for my parents and sisters (they're not vegetarian and NEVER will be)

You can make some too! Trust me it tastes so much better than the uniform-coloured, preservative and fake-flavoured stuff from the supermarkets.

 REAL Tomato Sauce 
(or Ketchup, if you're so inclined)
Adapted from Cheap and Easy website

2 1/4kg tomatoes
350gm apples
1 3/4 cups white vinegar
250gm onion
Spices - I use pepper, ginger, paprika, ground cloves, mixed spice
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons salt
2 cups sugar

Roughly chop apples (take out core, leave skin on), tomatoes and onions and place in a large pot with rest of the ingredients. 

Bring to the boil then continue boiling for an hour. Stir throughout because it will stick, especially towards the end of the hour.

Blend with a hand mixer or in the blender. 

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal whilst hot. 

That's it! Couldn't be easier could it. 

The recipe will make more than this. I like to double the recipe to make a big batch, especially handy when making them for gifts.


Monday, January 17, 2011

My Handmade Holiday

Previously I spoke about wanting to make a lot of my Christmas gifts for friends and family. Of course, I left it very late (mid-December!) to get started by luckily I wasn't working so was able to dedicate whole days (and plenty of them) to making gifts. 

This picture shows most of the gifts I made (click on the picture to enlarge it)

In addition to these sewn gifts I also made homemade lemon butter and tomato sauce, the very yummy Christmas cherry ripe biscuits (recipe here), strawberry seedlings (from my own plants), and put together packs of mixed fruit and vegie seeds. 

I'm going to list each of the gifts I made with the link to the pattern/instructions/recipe so you too can have a go at making them if you like. (If I can find the sites again! My laptop died and took all of my webpages saved as favourites with it!)

Starting from bottom centre going around clockwise

  • Tiered mini dress - pattern from Burdastyle website here for around $5 and fabric a bargain at $2/metre from Spotlight! (I will do another post on this dress and another I sewed shortly)

  • Reversible baby playmat with ties - no pattern just used scraps of materials I already had (in almost gender-neutral colours of green!), cot-size wadding, and 2 bias-tape ties that I sewed in to enable the mat to be rolled and tied up) In the picture below you can see the ties coming out from the top

  • a silhouette print of a child and butterfly - no weblink as I came up with the idea when I found adhesive fabric in the scraps bin at Spotlight and had seen the silhouette idea everywhere on the web. I will do a tutorial on how to put it together though, so stay tuned!

  • a simple gathered apron for my partner's mum (and an almost-matching one next to it for her twin sister) - based on this tutorial 

  • The Madeleine Mini Bloomers (for my 21 year old sister - these are WAY too short for anyone older than that, unless thats your sort of thing..) - free pattern from here

  • Driver's cap for my boy - this one was tricky to track down and I was almost at the stage of drafting my own pattern! Thank goodness Chantal from the blog Stayathomensewin was able to send me the pattern she used. Link here. My boy loved it and couldn't believe I'd sewn it myself (until I showed him some dodgy stitches on the inside, hehe)

  • Betsy handbag - I had previously made this and blogged about it here. I cut out the strap where it attached to the bag and re-attached it to the outside with wooden buttons, it looked much better, good enough to give as a gift!

  • More silhouettes - ducks were for a friend who is a few months pregnant (gender-neutral again because they aren't finding out sex) and the dog and cat for my sister who has pets that look just like these.

And, those gifts that aren't shown in the top picture - 

  • Lemon butter - I LOVE lemon butter and made sure there was enough leftover for me. I used this recipe 

  • Tomato sauce - I'll be doing a tutorial on this so check back shortly. Trust me it's worth it! So yummy
I was surprised I was able to get it all finished in time, actually a few days early which was nice to allow me to relax. I will definitely be hand-making my gifts this year also, but plan on starting earlier, November at least!

:) Kim

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tentative steps into sewing gifts

With the expectation of the first baby in our family a few months away sisters, girlfriends, mums and sister-in-laws gathered to shower the mum-to-be with the cutest of cute gifts - baby gifts!

Not the cutest present
but very practical, a baby
car seat from my
my mum and sis to the mum
to be

My little sister was organising the baby shower for our sister, so I didn't find out when the shower was going to be until 2 weeks out. Argh, this is why MY profession is event planning, I'm a touch more organised than the rebellious little sister. ANYWAY... as I was planning to sew some gifts for this occasion I jumped in straight away looking at patterns and ideas online. I'll let you in on a little secret.. there is SO MANY CUTE baby things to sew!

I had to narrow my search down to BEGINNER projects. If you have been following my tentative steps into the world of sewing you will know I was still baffled by patterns, sewing jargon and all those buttons on my sewing machine!

I decided on some simple nappy covers with singlets that had matching cutouts on them and some baby shoes. I just couldn't go past the baby shoes, even though they looked pretty difficult. 

The horsey and matching nappy cover. You can't really tell in this picture (thank goodness) that my sewing on the singlet is dreadful! It's ok but there were just way too many turns and with this tiny singlet it was very hard to turn it on the sewing machine without sewing the front to the back, which I did twice!

Take 2 - much easier shape this one!

Take 3 - (Almost) PERFECT! Except I should have used pinking shears or a zig zag stitch around the edge, but there was no way I was doing these EVER again! By the way - can you tell my family is a farming one, with the horses, chickens and dogs! Also we didn't know the sex of the baby so I tried to go as gender neutral as possible by I was also being frugal and only using what was in my stash!

Next up was the baby shoes. They were actually a lot easier than I thought! The worst part is sewing the sole and 2 top pieces (front and back) together without a) snapping the needle or some other sewing machine malfunction or b) not having all pieces together under the needle and having to resew to make sure they are all secured together. Once that part is down though its just a matter of threading the elastic and bingo, you have a pair of these little beauties!

I was pretty happy with how they turned out, they do look a little odd shaped though, oh well!

Here are the links to the patterns/instructions I used:

Kim xx

The emergence of Ivan

One of our dreams of owning a campervan came true last month.

Certainly doesn't look too pretty in this picture does it! Our ex-Wicked van has been thrashed and bashed by backpackers all over this country (we know this by the graffiti on the interior!). Surprisingly only minor mechanical issues were detected after a once over by a mechanic, which were promptly repaired. Safety first people!

Then we were off on our first adventure! Down the Gold Coast highway, along the Tweed river and into the North-eastern New South Wales hinterland... to Nimbin! Now if any of you know what Nimbin is most famous for don't worry we certainly didn't go there for that! The hinterland driving was absolutely beautiful, gave our new camper a work out and we found a gorgeous almost-empty campground on the edge of town and a huge tree-lined river. Just perfect, although I don't we need to visit Nimbin again any time soon! You can see why a facelift was next on the agenda from the picture above hey? Definitely not my cup of tea!

So back home to begin the arduous task of cleaning, scrubbing, and even chemically-removing, the traces of previous travelers.

We all of the work work ourself (because we are scroungers and definitely not living the high life!), which included:

  • sanding back the exterior slightly
  • undercoat on exterior
  • top paint on exterior - YELLOW!
  • using nail polish remover to take of permanent marker from the interior
  • then, realizing were are going to paint it anyway so could have saved myself 3 hours and a back ache!
  • painting the interior ..with BLACKBOARD paint, oh so cool!
  • scrubbing gunk from the seats, carpets and cupboards - I do not ever want to know what that stuff was!
  • using spray adhesive to cover the ceiling with foam then yellow gingham material! hehe so cute!
  • installing the fan
  • learning how to check the various oil, water, air and battery levels
  • AND, naming our new little beauty! IVAN was born!

Our very next camping test was the big one. Woodford Folk Festival for 8 long days of camping! I had never ever camped that long in my life. This was certainly going to test Ivan and ourselves!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Long bloggy absence

Goodness me does time fly when you're having fun!

Haven't I been a bit of a bum to not keep this blog updated though. My goal was to use this blog as an online journal to look back on in years to come and it so happens I have become apart of this great blogging community. It's for this reason that I have really missed hearing everyone's stories and being a part of this online group. 

This is just a short post to say hello and that I am still around and will be updating my blog in the next week or so with ALL of the fabulous things I have been up to so please keep an eye out for my posts shortly. 

Also, just so you know, my family and I have not been affected by these devastating floods in my home town. I am certainly affected by what is happening to my fellow Brisbanites but have no personal property damage. I feel so lucky to be spared this heartache. I have been awed at the velocity, destruction and loss of life of the 'inland tsunami' that hit Toowoomba and Grantham then to see the iconic Bremer and Brisbane River inundate so many houses in Ipswich and Brisbane. It's hard to believe this is all happening 15 minutes down the road, especially with the sun shining and the sound of lawn mowers in our suburb, just surreal! I went to school in Ipswich and my sister currently lives there - there were some very nervous text messaging between my sisters and I on the night the floods were peaking! But thankfully no damage or injuries, just a lot of disbelief and the occasional tears at the horrible stories that are coming out of the flood areas. I will be heading to Northey St City Farm tomorrow to help them with the clean up before this weekends organic markets that they are still putting on - troopers!

The Northey St City Farm chickens are high and dry thanks
to some ingenious volunteers (photo from Northey St
Facebook page)

I will finish off this post with some sneak previews of what I have been up to in the past two month. I will post about these in detail shortly, stay tuned!

Campervan facelift and MUD....

Tiny clothes for tiny bodies...

A handmade holiday...

A tutorial...

In the kitchen....

A whole new world...

AND.... most exciting of all.... A WHOLE NEW LIFE!

Stay tuned. I'm back


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