Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Interview Style

A little while ago, I hinted at some changes headed our way. Having just told family and friends, I guess it's time to share on the blog! Next year, my husband Cameron and I are headed back to our hometown of Bendigo.

This means that we will need new jobs and a place to live. We have just signed the paperwork to buy our first home, so we are pretty thrilled! And in the job department, I am looking...I don't expect it to be an easy process, but I am positive something will come up.

I went to an interview last week (didn't get it, but oh well!) My little sister, Miriam helped me to get some outfits together. Here's a peek at our two favourites.

For the interviews I wanted to go with clean lines and solid colours. I wanted to go with neutrals, but I can't resist a splash of colour!

Mim and I went to lunch before the interview, and I thought her outfit was a bit snazzy as well. She's got style :)

The day was excellent. We enjoyed a hot chocolate in the afternoon and did a spot of shopping. I can't wait to be back home and spend more time with the family!

Friday, 21 September 2012

One goal down. Yay!

Remember my list of 4 Simple Goals? Well, I've knocked one over already!

Goal number 4 was 'Read a book for myself, not for school.' Two weeks ago, I read a book from my collection, called Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I love that novel, and each time I read it I find other clues and details I must have skimmed over the last time. I think I've read it about 5 times now.

But then it was like I got bitten with the reading bug (or perhaps I was just after more Melina?) I went to her website, and discovered a sequel to another book in my collection (Finnikin of the Rock.) The sequel is called Froi of the Exiles.

Now, I must say first that Finnikin amazed me. I hadn't expected Marchetta to write a fantasy, and boy, did she write it well. Having said that, I thought the character of Froi was very uninteresting when I read Finnikin. I was happy to give it a shot, though, because she has never let me down with her other novels (Looking For Alibrandi; Saving Francesca; The Piper's Son) In fact, her writing is so inspiring that I had to see what she did with such a blank character in the sequel.

And that's where Marchetta is an absolute genius. Because Froi came with very little information in terms of his background, culture and character, learning each new detail in Froi of the Exiles startled me as a reader. I found myself in a panic, trying to connect the dots between characters and events, always asking myself, 'Why is this significant? Who is Froi?'

In short, Froi of the Exiles was another excellent piece of writing. The size of the book freaked me out at first, but I chewed through it in a weekend. Now I can't wait for the third novel in the series to come out!

I have just realised this post became a bit of a review, so I may as well give it a rating out of 10 stars. I give Froi of the Exiles 7.5 stars out of 10. It's perfect for young adults and adults alike, especially those who are interested in the fantasy genre.

Now I'm off to reward myself for completing the goal...bring on New Girl and coffee! What a great start to the school holidays!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Visiting the farm

It's funny how things change as you get older, isn't it? I think I'm slowly becoming my parents. I don't say that as if it's a bad thing really. I kind of like as I'm getting older, I'm mellowing out a little and care more about my lifestyle. 

On the weekend, my husband and I headed back to my parents little farm. It was lovely catching up over hot milos and jokes about when we were kids. My little brother (now studying to be an accountant) was informing me about changes I can make to my superannuation fund and answering questions about buying shares on the stock market. After this, he went to help Dad with the fencing. And just like that, it felt so comfortable and easy. This is what I want.

I later went outside to help Dad feed his lambs. I remember feeding the calves or goat kids or lambs was a really annoying chore when we were little. Now I can see how it's actually quite a nice, soothing experience. I love seeing the dazed look on their faces once they've got a belly full. They look so cute when they prance over to you because they want that milk now! Even the way they try to nudge each other out of the way is endearing.

How adorable is this little one? I can't believe how gorgeous her eyes are. It looks like she's wearing make-up (I promise this is totally natural. I do not go putting make up on pretty lambs.)

The thought of owning a bit of land and having animals has great appeal for me now. In the past I was determined to move away from the country, but now I want to move back! I may even get some lambs one day and hand rear them myself (ask me then if I still find them adorable!)

When we do buy land, our dog Mack is going to love it. The photo here is of my father's dog, Chloe. She is a bit of a duffer, but she is a pro at shaking hands!

My dreams will come true, sooner or later...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sarah Learns...How to Sew a Top With Doilies

A few weeks ago I read a tutorial on Always Rooney about how to make a seriously simple shirt.

After going through my fabric stash, I found a pretty floral and some doilies (both purchased from the Op Shop- $1.50 and 50 cents respectively.)

It was pretty easy to follow along with the tutorial. I must say that I have learned a few lessons, however. For example, I should have made the neck hole smaller and then adjusted if necessary. I felt like the neckline is too wide. There's not really an easy way to fix that once done! (I'm kicking myself, too, because one of our quilting rules is 'measure twice, cut once'!)

I am amazed at just how different mine looks in comparison to Courtney's on Always Rooney. Hers is  adorable. Mine is perhaps a work in progress. I may need to experiment a little more!

I did really love the outfit I wore that day though.

Hope you're having a wonderful start to the week!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wholemeal Cacao Cookies

I love simple recipes. I also love making things up as I go. In that respect, cookies are very forgiving. It's difficult to get it wrong!

Here is a recipe for slice and bake cookies, loosely adapted from the Women's Weekly Cookies book. I was looking for a link to post with the book, but I couldn't find one on Amazon. Perhaps it is no longer in print?

I tried to make them a little healthier, by adding the cacao, wholemeal flour and mesquite powder. Haven't heard of cacao or mesquite before? You can find information on them on the Loving Earth website (that's the brand of cacao and mesquite I have purchased). They explain how cacao is high in antioxidants and magnesium, and how mesquite contains many natural minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. I really love how cacao has a bitter, dark-chocolate sort of flavour. The spices complemented the flavour well.

If you didn't have these ingredients, you could always substitute the mesquite for more wholemeal flour, and the cacao could be dark chocolate bits. I used my Thermomix to make the dough, but the recipe is written for electric mixer and good ol' wooden spoon mixing.

250g softened butter
200g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
240g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
50g mesquite powder
100g Cacao nibs
75g rice flour
50g cornflour
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Beat the butter, vanilla and icing sugar together using an electric mixer. When the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add in the flours and the mesquite, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, mixing with a wooden spoon.
  3. Mix in milk, then mix in cacao nibs.
  4. Knead the mixture on a floured surface until it is smooth. Break mixture in half before rolling the dough  into a log using baking paper. Refrigerate for about an hour, until firm. Don't worry if you leave it in there longer, or even overnight. 
  5. Take the logs out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/140 degrees fan forced. 
  6. Slice logs into 1cm slices. Put on oven trays lined with baking paper, placing them about 2-3cm apart. Bake for about 15-18 minutes. 

As there are only two of us at home, I often bake up one log of cookies, and put the other in the freezer. I take it out and put it in the fridge in the morning if I want to bake the biscuits in the afternoon. Once or twice, I have used a sharp knife that I have heated in some hot water (and dried off) to cut slices from the log straight from the freezer. You need to add another few minutes to the baking time if you are doing this.

I hope you enjoy!

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Friday, 7 September 2012

4 Simple Goals

One of my favourite blogs, A Beautiful Mess, recently posted about setting 4 Simple Goals before 2013. I have decided to play along. There are big changes ahead in our lives, and there are things I keep putting off in order to get through the day to day jobs for work. Today I want to share some goals I have set for myself, and my rewards for achieving them.

  1. Shop for the Necessary- I want to have enough money for buying a house. I will also need some dollars for all the improvements that I will inevitably want to make. My goal is to skip shopping trips that I know will end with me spending more money than I'd like. I'm going to avoid my favourite clothes and stationery stores. I will even walk right past the Op Shop (sometimes!)
    My reward will be the little extras I will put in the house, when we get it.

  2. Return to the Healthy Eating Plan- About a year ago, I realised I was getting insanely bloated from the food I was eating. It was getting embarrassing, to the point where people were congratulating my on my 'little surprise.' So when I did some reading I found out what does and doesn't work for me. I lost a bit of weight, looked a fair bit healthier. And then when winter began, I got really lazy. Now is the time to get back to eating better.
    How will I reward myself? A big blow-out day, known as Christmas. On this day, I will let myself break all the rules.

  3. Learn How to Use My Camera- Cameron bought me a DSLR camera about a month ago. It takes amazing pictures, but there are a lot of things going on with it that I have no idea about. I will use the internet and friends who know stuff, to help me learn the different functions. Perhaps I will finally understand what 'aperture' means, instead of just casually dropping the word into photography conversation. Ha ha.
    My reward will be a CD or DVD. Yes, I am a nerd and still love having a physical copy of music and film.

  4. Read a Book For Myself, Not For School- All year I have been itching to read books for fun, but my rule has been that I must do reading for school first. As an English teacher, I feel like my reading work is never done. Reading for fun only seems to happen on the holidays. Before 2013, I want to have read a book, just for me.
    Apart from the obvious joy of reading, I will have a coffee date with myself and watch some episodes of New Girl while in bed (re-runs, but still oh-so-funny)

Are you a goal setter? Maybe you'd like to play along! Have a read of the loose 'rules' on the Beautiful Mess Post.

Hope you're having a great weekend.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

First Spring Floral

At the first sign of a sunny day after winter is over, my first urge is to throw on my prettiest sundress. More often than not, I am disappointed and slightly cold. I try to remind myself that it's only the beginning of Spring, but the dress is too much to resist!

I tried to tell myself that wearing these little boots would keep me warm. And you know what? They did on this day!

Dress: Valleygirl, Belt: Valleygirl, Boots: Windsor Smith (from a little shop in Shepparton)

Do you remember this ring from my DIY? It matches the pink of my dress perfectly.

Georgia took these photos for me again. We had a hilarious time playing around with my new camera. I am building a folder of photos on my computer, filled with outtakes. There seems to be no end to the weird facial expressions I pull. I guess I am still getting used to having me in front of the camera. It's very different to taking your average 'selfie' for Facebook!

Cardigan: Op Shop, Hat: Vintage (the local theatre group had a sale of old costumes!) 

She called this shot my 'English Librarian' look. I guess I can see what she means; like I am part of a Jane Austen novel!

I can't wait for more warm weather so I can start dress-wearing season!

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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hand quilting the sampler

I was not very enthusiastic about hand quilting. I could see it was going to take a long time.

Strangely enough, I think this is the most therapeutic part of the process though. It has become part of a lovely ritual; I go to our quilting group, have a natter and a cup of tea while I sew. Yes, I realise how old I sound when I say that, but it's true!

My favourite block is the Dresden Plate still...I guess because the quilting is so close together, the effect is fantastic.

My sewing wasn't very straight. I had to rely on using low tack painting tape first, but I ended up forgetting to use it anyway. I've been getting better either way; a lovely surprise!

 There's still more to go. I have to do the sashing. I also got a little ahead of myself and selected what could be the most elaborate border pattern known to man. Stay tuned for my whinging about that!

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