22 Jul 2014

ode to found flora

It is no secret that I love to pick flowers for window sill, oven top, bookcase and kitchen bench arrangements.... tiny handfuls of flora that may not last long in a water filled jar but for those days bring  so much freshness, light and promise to an inside space. I love how different flowers evoke different feelings and moods. 

Wild growing things are my favourite.  Something about the fact that you can't easily buy them from a florist or market - something about that deliberate choosing and selecting from what's available that season...

 In Frace I gathered forget-me-nots and cowslips and crocuses from the lawn, I clipped Japanese maple leaves and overflowing lilacs from trees in our garden. On the farm I planted columbine seeds, marigolds, tulips, nasturtiums  comfreys and zinnias to pick through summer. I foraged native violets from the forest, lilac from the hedgerows by the highway and pruned deep red roses from the farm yard.

One day I'd love to grow enough of my own flowers, foliage and herbs to have a seasonal flower business. I dream of bundling together bouquets and posies and delivering them to people's doorsteps, or nestled in the corner of a vegetable box. I would mix australian natives and those introduced from England, France, beyond... 

Right now I am gathering purple lavender, red bottle-brush, holly, eucalyptus and premature starry-white jasmine.... I wonder, what flowers do you love best to pick and have in your spaces?

18 Jul 2014

a closing down sale

Oh for the love of rainbow hues:
berry red, sage green, 
linen-grey and petrol blue... 

Dear friends,  I'll be closing my etsy shop indefinitely in just two short weeks. I've been thinking about closing it for a while and now seems like the right time as we prepare to move to countryside. The shop (like my blogger pseudonym) is named thewindhover after my favourite poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you have never read it, you really must. It captures quite perfectly the soaring speed and reverent flight of a winged creature. 

I am so thankful to have stumbled across etsy some six years ago - blessed to have an outlet to share my illustrations and craftiness with those around the world. Thank you to each and every person who has supported me by buying a blue and white print, christmas card, baby bib, tote bag, tea purse and custom sketch.  With the close of this shop will come the opening (very soon) of an exciting new venture.  

In meantime find an array of happy handmade things here. I've begun a clearance sale of 30-50% off everything! 

14 Jul 2014

bastille day

for our remembrances of france... for her sights and sounds, for travels and adventures, for our neighbours and friends, for the everyday (and forgotten things too), for painted doorways, snowy footprints, sparkling rhubarb juice (oh for you especially), for the blues, whites and reds... Vive la france!

11 Jul 2014

thrifty fingers

For about ten years now I've appreciated, bought, reclaimed and thrifted old wearables and fabrics. Not because it was the trendy thing to do, but because I loved the way clothes were once made - by hand, with quality materials, properly fitted, feminine... Then I travelled and lived abroad, became a mama, began to live in the countryside and learn to farm. I found myself wearing these vintage treasures less and less... I held onto them because they held special memories to me of king street crawls, outings with friends, of a pumpkin ball and a school formal, of autumn walks, picnics and our honeymoon. I will always have these, yes - but I'd rather someone else actually enjoy wearing them (not just the thought) So in my attempts to sort and reduce before we move again down south I've made a second pop-up etsy shop - it's called thrifty fingers - if an able gardener can be called a green thumb - then a keen explorer of pre-loved things surely has thrifty fingers!  Everything is on sale too xx


black mohair cloche $14. black lace swing dress $951960s alpine-inspired knitted sweater $45. french felted beret $12. hand knitted tea cosies $18- $22. colourful silk and cotton scarves $6. 1960s beaded cream cardigan $49. autumn leaves leather shoes $25. 

9 Jul 2014

A Rhubarb Knit

Why yes, Winter is usually the time for great knitting exploits, but this season I've been so busy making and doing other things my poor knitting projects have been slow to completion. This splendidly rhubarb-coloured cardigan (started four or five months ago) was finished only just this morning.

The pattern is the Belfast Hoodie by Quince & Co, though I realise mine looks quite different - I somehow misread the pattern for the yoke and then decided to leave the hoodie off, add four more button holes and lower the pockets so my hands could actually fit into them. I am left with a rather generously shaped, long, cosy cardigan...

The wool is a beautiful rustic 8-ply by Bendigo Woollen Mills. I love that you can see purple and umber hues in amongst the reds. It is so so soft. Buttons are from button emporium All Buttons Great and Small and somehow remind me of european folk art. While thinking of a name for her (as is my custom for hand-knitted wearables) Romola came to mind. Romola the Rhubarb Cardigan... good for tree-climbing too.

7 Jul 2014

adventures in bread-making: gluten free sourdough

It feels so good to be adventuring in bread making once again (find past adventures here). After I was diagnosed with coeliac disease last year I have felt so uninspired to bake bread. Bread is bread (and not loaf-shaped rice and potato and corn starch) because of those wonderfully gluten containing grains - wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale and barley. I may have a life-long ban from gluten, but I still appreciate the fine baking characteristics of it - and of course, the memory, the flavour, the smell of it too! There are numerous alternatives of course - but they aren't replacements - they are their own seed/grain/legume and most of the time taste best in their whole, unrefined form. A bowl of steaming rice. A crispy baked potato. Polenta. Buckwheat porridge. If I am completely honest "gluten free bread" (the kinds you can buy) make me want to cry.  They are so full of soy/corn/egg derivatives, emulsifiers, nuts and a number of other highly refined starches, sugar and seeds... and they still taste nothing-y.

Then, I began to wonder... would be possible to produce a truly gluten-free sourdough? Something that tastes of delicious sour-ness and has a somewhat bread-like texture. I looked high and low on the web for recipes to experiment with. My first attempt was with a pure buckwheat starter but it didn't work out. But for the last month I've been fermenting an organic rice flour starter and it's working brilliantly. 

~ Rice flour Sourdough starter ~
1/2 cup organic rice flour (brown or white)
1/2 cup filtered water
Combine flour and rice in a wide-mouth glass jar. Cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band and leave to rest in a warmish place. Every day for the next 7 days "feed" starter 1/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup filtered water. Be careful to stir starter with a non-metal spoon - I use a wooden chopstick! The starter should produce a vinegary smell (not foul at all) and a greyish-liquid might settle on the top. Its the bubbles that let you know the wild yeast is working. After 7 days begin baking bread with your starter - refreshing with equal parts water and flour every time. Store in the fridge if don't want to use it straight away - but be wary that gluten free starters don't stay preserved in the fridge as long as gluten-ones without regular refreshing. 

~ No Knead Gluten-free Sourdough ~
(Soy free. Corn free. Egg free. Seed free. Nut free)

1 cup rice starter (50% hydration)
1 1/2 cups filtered water at room temp.
1 1/2 cups organic rice flour (brown or white or both) - sometimes I replace 1/2 cup with buckwheat flour.
2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca flour
2 tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Mix all of the above in a glass or ceramic bowl until a smooth, thick batter. You may need to add some extra water/flour to get the right consistency. Pour into a bread tin that has been greased with butter or olive oil and dusted with flour. Sit in a warm place covered with a tea towl for  5 - 8 hours or until risen by 1/3. Preheat oven to 190'c. Bake bread for 70 - 75 minutes on a middle rack with a cake tin below with water (the steam makes a pleasingly crunchy crust). Cool completely in tin. Loosen with a knife from the sides and flip out on a rack. When completely cold you can pre-slice it (say for the freezer) and I find this much easier with the bottom sitting up. The texture is crumbly and chewy - the flavour is that unmistakable sour with a note of nuttiness.

You can make the spicy/fruit version by stirring in 2 tsps of mixed spice and 1/2 cup of dried fruit like sultanas, apricots and dates.

p.s. for a wonderful alternative to paper and plastic I've been seaming up linen bread bags - you can find them for sale in the shop for $18 each.

4 Jul 2014


As we walk through the neighbourhood I spy trees in various stages of nakedness, and some like this magnolia is already begining to bud. I am overwhelmed with the promise of spring and the unfolding and renewal it brings...

I'm reading a book by one of favourite wordsmiths Luci Shaw - her prose washes over me like a fine mist  - cleansing my eyes and mind. She writes about ageing, ascending gracefully - and I'm left with a desire to embrace growing older, sagging slowness and all (and not apologise for it)...

With Reuben on my lap we read the same pages I thumbed with my mama as a child, of a little dutch boy hiding a thimble and crashing into an Amsterdam marketplace...

Then, we spill all the peas and lentils in a great cupboard clean-out -
for the trains to steam through and standing above
I marvel at the tracks my son makes,
curly, consuming me.

I heat milk on the stove and stir in a little sugar with cinnamon and vanilla beans. I cut more passionfruits than I can count and scoop out that pulpy flesh filled with tiny black eyes. Later in the evening, with my sister at my side, we laugh and exhale and cook dinner. We savour those panna cottas with teaspoons and feel full. The best kind of full...


Passionfruit Panna cotta
(serves 6)

2 cups pure cream
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp of vanilla paste)
1 tablespoon grass fed bovine gelatine powder
1/2 cup cold water
juice of 6 passion fruits
4 passionfruits
1 orange, juiced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grass fed bovine gelatine powder
1/2 cup water

For the panna cotta heat milk and cream in saucepan on a low heat. Stir in cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. Remove from heat once sugar is dissolved. Stir in strained juice from 6 of the passionfruits - reserving the seeds for the jelly. Let gelatine "flower" for a few minutes in 1/2 cup of cold water. Whisk gelatine water into cream mixture until dissolved. Pour into ceramic or glass ramekins (I was able to fill about 7 but it will depend on the size) and refrigerate for 4 hours. 

Now for the jelly - Scoop out pulp + juice of 4 more passionfruits and put in a small saucepan along with the seeds reserved from making the panna cotta. Add strained orange juice and a tablespoon of sugar. Let 2 teaspoons of gelatine flower in 1/2 cup of cold water for a few minutes then add to the saucepan and stir until dissolved. Cool. Pour gently over the top of all the pannacottas which will be semi-set. Return the pannacottas to the fridge for a further 2 (or more) hours before serving.