Sunday, 29 March 2009

Phat overalls

Whooaaa.. it's been a while since I've been here. Finally I'm a confirmed PhD student, not a silly probationary one. I'm back to working more regular "9-5" sort of hours again. I have been keeping up with your blogs (although sorry for not commenting with regularity) so now I'm hopefully back to my regular blogging schedule. At least until the next time I have a massive deadline, which hopefully shouldn't be for at least a few more months.

Edit: Oopsies, I should clarify!! I've just finished the 1st year of my PhD, which is a probationary year. Now I get to call myself "PhD candidate" rather than "PhD student"... another 2.5 years to go (with luck!) before I get it all over and done with.

I've made my overalls and I think they're hilarious - no, ridiculous - but incredibly comfortable. Not the best sewing I've ever done (there is wonky cutting and wonky sewing) but I was aiming for function, not perfection, as they're going to be oil and paint stained and snagged and covered in dirt, so I wasn't going to put in my best effort. Have I mentioned that I love my overlocker? The one I was too scared to use for a year? I'm now super keen to learn about my overlocker's potential, because it's such a fantastic tool. And I love how fast it goes. Going back to my sewing machine seems kind of lame now.

The pattern itself was very simple. I made the legs slightly longer (8 cm) so they were full length for me. In my excitement to have overalls ASAP, I forgot to sew the pockets on first, a mistake which I wont make in future because it's a massive pain to sew on pockets once you've sewn the rest up. It worked out ok in the end because it meant I could applique on some big white stars onto the pockets. I realised once I'd finished the overalls that they were a lot like phat pants (not as wide as my friend's pants though) and I just couldn't help but play that up a bit. Anyway, they're fun, comfortable and cheap to make, so I can feel free to work on my car in my rad new overalls!

Me, my boy and my dad, working on my poor car

Overalls, full length view

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Recipe review: Leek & Aubergine Tart Tatin

I decided to follow Maggie and Simon's Leek & Aubergine Tart Tatin recipe, featured on the program last Wednesday. We substituted vino cotto for balsamic vinegar, sugar for honey in the syrup and made the dough half with wholemeal flour. Although, I did that silly thing when you take a hot pan out of the oven and place it back on the stove top, and then forget that it's been in the oven and grab the handle of the pan... not so smart. It was a joint success between Gib and I: It took a little bit of time to put together, but worth every minute. It was a definite success, smelled divine, tasted absolutely delicious.

Gamer pants!!!!1!!!!11!

We had some friends come around yesterday to play computer games with Gib. While I don't mind some games, yesterday they decided to play Diablo 2, which just leaves me cold. Gib decided to wear his gaming pants, and our friends were very jealous. I offered to make them some, because we know from experience that wearing gaming pants definitely increases gaming prowess, so we took a trip to Spotlight, they bought some polar fleece, and I merrily spent the afternoon sewing their gaming pants while they played away! By late afternoon I'd finished them, and after wearing them around a bit, they decided that their gamer pants had an area affect of +5 to everything (or, for the uninitiated: while wearing the pants, everything around them becomes awesome)

My friend said he wanted the fattest pants possible, so I used the entire width of the fabric for each pant leg. He was very satisfied with the result. Our other friend's fabric, with the little aliens, made my eyes go funny while I was cutting it out hehehe. Here's the lounge room gamer pants photo shoot:

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Recipe box swap: Open theme month

Mmmm... I absolutely love this rain we have finally been getting! It was so lovely to go to sleep last night to the pitter-patter of rain falling. This sudden cool change is wonderful and already I've pulled out my nice, warm hoodie and have been flicking through my cosy comfort food recipes! Bring on autumn! So this month for the Recipe Box Swap, hosted by Randi, I'm going to share with you one of my favourite comfort foods.

Grilled polenta with melted cheese

1 cup instant polenta
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups milk (I used reduced fat, but you can use either full fat milk or water)
Olive oil spray
Your favourite cheese: mozzerella, blue cheese, camembert, good ol' tasty cheese! (but never, ever use Kraft singles)
Fresh herbs: basil, thyme
  • Spray a 24 x 16 cm dish with oil
  • Bring milk and water to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add polenta gradually, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until thick (I love watching polenta bubble up! Like lava bubbling away). Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into prepared dish and smooth out with a spatula. Refrigerate for about an hour or until firm.
  • Cut into squares/triangles/fingers, and cook the bottom in a fry pan until golden.
  • Top with herbs and cheese, and place under a grill until bubbly and golden. Alternatively, you can make them into little polenta and cheese sandwiches, layered with polenta/cheese/herbs/polenta, and grill the whole lot until warm and the cheese has melted through.
Serve as a side, or with a hearty tomato soup, or just eat on its own!

Photo courtesy of Patricia Scarpin

A day when maths and food meet...

Hahaha, this cracked me up! Janet at Adventures in Ethics and Science pointed out that Tuesday's date, 03-03-09, was a Square Root Day! She marked the occasion appropriately by creating an evening meal that included square roots: diced sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, chiogga beets, and potatoes, and sliced leeks, roasted in olive oil.


Monday, 2 March 2009

Veg about... in the hot weather

Last year I shared with you my flourishing herb garden as a part of Bellgirl's Veg About. I'd just thought I'd like to update you on how my herbs are going during all of this crazy hot weather...

I had started pushing the native mint back a wee bit to make way for some kangaroo paws and correas, but then it just died right back all by itself in the heat. It has almost all died, in fact. Even though it looks really feral, cutting it back will prompt it to start growing again, and then die again in the next heat wave.

Native mint before...

...native mint after

We lost our oregano, but the parsley and thyme survived, although is looking a little spindly. Our regular mint pot is looking fine though, although a bit burnt at the bottom.

Herb pot before...

...and after! Uh oh! Oh well, it'll grow back.

Regular mint, looking happy as ever.

However, there are two plants that didn't bat an eyelid during this weather (although not veggies):

The ptilotus spathulatus, a perennial shrub native to Melbourne's western planes, and the asterolasia phebalioides, a rare native found in highly exposed, rocky/swampy areas of the Grampians. I bought another one and decided to see how it would go in the ground rather than potted. In fact, these plants thrived in the 40+ weather. I bought a second ptilotus (my first one is in a pot, see below) and royally cocked up planting it: I completely mashed the roots and it didn't get much watering, and two days after planting it was when the real heat wave hit. It dropped a few leaves, but then bounced right back within days. In a pot or in the ground, this plant is indestructible.

My two awesome indestructible plants!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Eye spy... something that makes me happy

Exercise. It doesn't matter what: Karate, jogging, weights, skipping... but if I don't get my daily dose, things get nasty. I get surly and I don't really like being like that. In fact, just the other day Gib said to me, in a very serious and concerned tone "Beth, you're sounding quite negative today. I think you need to go to the gym". But with a daily work out, I feel happy, positive and often like a super hero. I feel totally invincible.

Easily pleased: exercise - anything, anywhere, anytime - makes me happy!
These are a slightly cleaner version of my shoes. I love orange (my orange runners make me happy too!)

Thank you Iris + Lily: I love happy themes! And Cindy, our wonderful host of Eye Spy!

Messenger bag trials

I've been playing around with a messenger bag design for some time and I think I've finally got to a pattern I'm happy with. I love the convenience of messenger bags, being able to carry large items comfortably but still have hands free. Making messenger bags is fairly easy and a little bit time consuming, but it's just been things like how to do the base of the bag, the best way to attach the strap so it can withstand a lot of wear and tear and how to attach the cover flap for both strength and so the seam is nicely and easily concealed. I tend to load my bags up with loads of books, papers and wallets full of annoying change, and I've destroyed many messenger bags from flimsy strap and flap attachments. In my messenger bag making endeavours, I also made my first ever trip to Lefflers, the leather and saddlery heaven, where I spent ages sorting through their slides and clips and threads and buckles and twill tape and leather scraps and rivets... ohhh I spent so long poking around there, and a bit of money, hrmm.

So here's the first messenger bag I made that I'm happy with and prepared to share with you all. It's big enough to carry A4 sized books/folders and has some cute pockets in the front. The base of the bag I constructed in the same way as for the jordy bag tutorial that I found a while ago. It's a convenient way of adding width to the bag, and it sits well. I have some more ideas for messenger bags, and have some cute girly fabric to make them with!

I'm pretty happy with the quality of this one, so I think I'll mail it off to assist with the Handmade Help cause!

Eye spy... love

When I saw this week's theme I just had to share this. It's one of my all time favourite songs, by PJ Harvey.

Thank you to Cindy for hosting another wonderful Eye spy!