Monday, July 27, 2009

Making butterfly cakes with Emma

Butterfly cakes are a classic from my childhood :)

I made this Iggle Piggle (character from a BBC children's TV show) for Evelyn's birthday, which is in TWO DAYS! Eep. I feel a little guilty, because I'm not quite as excited as I have been over my other two children's first birthdays. Here isn't really the place to go into it, but the birth trauma somewhat overshadows the excitement.

Aaaanyway, on the lighter side, here is a somewhat wonky, but made with love, Iggle Piggle.

All fabric from stash, including gorgeously soft pale blue cuddle fleece I picked up as a remnant for $2 a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ten things I can't believe I used to buy at the supermarket!

1. Microwave popcorn. Ew. So many things wrong with this - the cost, the additives, the Teflon-coated bag. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy popcorn is to make on the stovetop, and how cheap a kilo of popcorn kernels is (which makes a heck of a lot of popcorn). Air-poppers are pretty cheap, too, but I like the butter and oil version.

2. Gravy powder (Gravox/Bisto). Mmmmmm, flour, salt - so much salt!, MSG, artificial caramel colouring. Yum. I used to use it for flavouring/thickening casseroles as well as for making gravy. Now I just season with herbs and spices, thicken with cornflour and make my own gravy if need be.

3. Powdered stock. Same sort of deal as number two. Chicken stock and vegie stock are really easy to make.

4. Maggi/Continental recipe mixes. Again, a few herbs and spices and a whole whack of "bad numbers". I learned some basic herb/spice combinations instead, just as quick really and a whole lot yummier (and cheaper).

5. Polony (also known as Devon, probably has a bunch of other names - pink lunchmeat made from God-knows-what). Yeeeees. Enough said.

6. Disposable nappies. Quite a few years ago now. A complete waste of money, terrible for the environment and I'm not keen on putting all those chemicals near my baby's bottom.

7. Yogurt. OK, so I still buy fancy yogurt sometimes, but for day-to-day I make my own with the EasiYo (I don't use the entire sachet each time). One day I'd like to learn to make it the proper way.

8. Supermarket meat. Two things wrong with this - tastes awful, and the animals were probably treated awfully. Also expensive. I now try to buy in bulk from places that, if not certified organic, follow organic/biodynamic/free range principles, and the meat is fresher. If I am not organised enough for that, at least I buy from a butcher, who can tell me where the meat comes from and how old it is.

9. Supermarket fruit and vegetables. Again, expensive, poor quality, has probably been in cold storage forever. I used to get an organic seasonal box delivered, which I stopped when we went Failsafe and haven't started again. At the moment I buy from local growers' markets - the most convenient one to me usually has a few types of fruit for 99c/kilo when the supermarket will sell it for $2.99 and it'll taste worse. The fruit from the growers' market tends to have small blemishes and lumps and bumps, but it still tastes better!

10. Custard powder. Custard is really quite easy to make from scratch, and it doesn't turn out that weird shade of yellow.

I'm not perfect, by any measure. We eat takeaway food sometimes, and I'm a big fan of some convenience items like frozen vegies just in case. However, making these kinds of changes over a few years, has saved me a lot of money on my grocery bill (and has enabled me to purchase many organic staples now instead of entirely conventional), and surely been of benefit both to my family and the environment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Artisan bread in five minutes a day

Surely I must be the absolute last person in the blogosphere to try this!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

This is the first loaf from the first batch, and it is SO yummy, and SO easy! I think I might ask for the book for my birthday in September.

A quilt block ...

... of sorts.

My lovely friend Emma (as opposed to my lovely daughter Emma) is going to give birth to a new baby soon, and I was privileged to attend a beautiful blessingway for her last weekend. Everyone brought some fabric or a quilt block to be made into a snuggly quilt for mum and bub.

After a bit of thought, I made this:

Waves make me think of birth, as does sunset for some reason (maybe because I went into labour in the evening, who knows?) and this is a representation of that. It's made from Didymos wrap scraps!! I had to overlock the edges because the fabrics fray very easily; I hope it isn't too difficult for whoever is making the quilt.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The present cupboard

One thing about having a child in school is that one gets a lot of birthday party invitations, at least when they're at the age where often the whole class is invited. My elder daughter is in Year One this year, and while last year it seemed many people had smaller parties, this year there have been a lot of whole-class parties. Add in children of my friends, and it can seem like we're constantly buying birthday presents. We don't have many children in our extended family, but of course many people would be buying for nieces and nephews or other relatives too.

So the present cupboard is a really good idea. I've just started building one up this year, although I've always picked up various things for my own children on sale throughout the year. Basically I've just extended that to buying small/medium-sized gifts that would appeal to a wide range of people in our circles of friends and family.

At the moment I have some children's books, some art stuff, some nice notebooks (which would work for adults too), a toy cooking set and some wooden food. I also try to make gifts when I get a chance, but I'm often forgetful and leave it until the last minute. Sometimes I pair a bought gift with something handmade, which is a nice touch.

Who else has a present/gift cupboard? What kind of things do you generally have in 'stock'?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What I have been doing

Very little time for crafting lately, life has gotten in the way.

Firstly, I would like to say that I am now Ms Surprisingly Domestic, BA (Mass Comm.), Grad Dip (Lib. & Info. Studies). I completed my degree, yay!

Secondly, any spare energy, which isn't much, has been directed to activism on the proposed laws affecting homebirth.

I've made two submissions to committees, written one letter to a local Senator, and spoken to an adviser at my local MP's office (because my local MP is also Minister for Foreign Affairs and far too terribly busy to speak to little ol' me).

Here's one of my submissions, to the National Registration and Accreditation Project:

National Registration and Accreditation Implementation Project

By email

Submission re: Exposure draft of Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 (Bill B)

My submission relates to the following two sections of the draft legislation:
101 (1a) (ii) that the registered health practitioner must not practise the
health profession unless professional indemnity insurance
arrangements are in force in relation to the practitioner’s
practice of the profession
Subdivision 6 General
148 Directing or inciting unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct
(1) A person must not direct or incite a registered health practitioner to do
anything, in the course of the practitioner’s practice of the health
profession, that amounts to unprofessional conduct or professional
Maximum penalty:
(a) in the case of an individual—$30,000, or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—$60,000.

Taken together, these two sections of the proposed legislation effectively criminalise homebirths attended by independent midwives. Midwife-attended homebirth is a choice currently made by only about one per cent of Australian women. Being in the minority, however, does not invalidate our choice, and I am concerned that Parliament may see fit to pass laws that remove women’s rights to bodily autonomy.

I myself had a traumatic hospital birth almost one year ago. I experience panic attacks when I have had to be in close proximity to the hospital in which this experience occurred, as well as flashbacks and nightmares relating to the birth. Should this legislation pass without alteration, if I have another baby, I will be forced to either return to this hospital to give birth, or give birth at home without trained assistance. I will choose to stay home, but my preferred option – and, statistically, the safest - would be to birth at home with the assistance of an independent midwife.

I propose two possible solutions to this problem:

I. Alter the legislation to provide an exemption for suitably qualified independent midwives. Independent midwives have been practicing without indemnity insurance for many years; or

II. Provide assistance to independent midwives to obtain indemnity insurance, so that they may continue to practice legally.

I did not think that, in Australia, it was acceptable to discriminate against a group of people because their health and lifestyle choices may be in the minority, but this is exactly what this proposed legislation would do. The wording of this legislation is indirect discrimination against homebirthing women. Indirect discrimination is illegal in the workplace under Equal Opportunity laws, so why is this double standard even being considered?

Yours sincerely,

Georgina Ker

What have you done to help protect women's rights? Don't leave it all to someone else! Pro forma letters are available - here is one originating from Justine Caines of Homebirth Australia:

Information Sheet - Writing a submission for the Community Affairs – Legislation Committee

Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills

This Senate Committee is receiving submissions until July 20, so please prioritise this. It is important and it will greatly help those of us at the ‘front’ of the lobbying activity.

You can email them to the Committee Secretary

{Your name}
{Your address}

Ms Claire Moore
Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee

By E-mail:

Dear Senator Moore

Re: Inquiry into Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills

I write to express my concern about the above bills. I understand that these bills will enable Medicare funding, access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and professional indemnity premium support for midwives providing care for women to give birth in hospital.

Medicare funding for midwifery care is long overdue. It is not acceptable however to exclude homebirth from this funding and indemnity arrangement. By doing this Australia is totally out of step with nations such as the United Kingdom, Canada, The Netherlands and New Zealand.

These nations support the rights of women to choose homebirth and fund a registered midwife through their national health scheme. In New Zealand and the U.K women have a legislative right to choose homebirth.

The intersection of this legislation with the national registration and accreditation of health professionals will prevent homebirth midwives from registering. I believe this to be an unintended consequence and ask that you take steps to include homebirth within the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) and related Bills.

I support a system where all consumers are treated equally, with the same access to funding and the same insurance protection.

{Please add your own comments here}

Yours sincerely

Your name

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tooting my own horn

Just trying to clear some of my fabric stash and justify buying more:

Items for sale on MadeIt

Puff pastry delights

I can't believe I've never made spinach and ricotta triangles before - they're so easy! This is adapted from a few different recipes and according to what was in the fridge.

Spinach and ricotta triangles

2 sheets puff pastry (I use Pampas butter puff pastry, because it hasn't got nasty numbers)
1 bunch English spinach, washed, ends trimmed
1/2 tub (about 125g) ricotta (Mundella has no preservatives)
handful grated cheddar cheese
a little grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 200 deg C.

Wilt spinach by placing in a colander and pouring boiling water over it. Drain well, and when cool enough, chop roughly. Place in bowl.

Add cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut puff pastry sheets into 9 squares each. Place filling in each square and fold over to make a triangle. Press edges firmly, place on baking tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffy.

Then I had one sheet of pastry left over - three in a pack - so I invented this:

Cinnamon twists

1 sheet puff pastry
about a tbsp caster sugar
about a tsp ground cinnamon
melted butter


Preheat oven to 200 deg C.

Cut pastry sheet in half and brush with melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over one buttered pastry half.

Place the two halves together (buttered sides together). Cut into thin strips, about 1.5cm wide. Twist strips and place on a baking tray.

Bake for about 6-7 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Is there anything puff pastry can't do?!?