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Friday, 28 December 2007


Another text-light, pic-heavy post of the soaps I made a few weeks ago.

They all turned out lovely in the end, and the cranberry-fig one only ran into the sandalwood one a little, so most of the bars were fine.

I LOVE this (new) recipe! Lots of yummy shea butter -- feels great.

I should have brushed the soap crumbs away before I snapped the pics...

More Christmas Food!

Poached salmon in aspic. Mum poaches it to tender perfection. Mmmmmmm-m.

Poppyseed cake ("Makowiec"), and gingerbread-chocolate cake.

Just the most delicious cheesecake I have tasted in DECADES!!!! From Europa cake shop on Acland Street, St. Kilda.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Barszcz Recipe

Recipe for traditional Polish Barszcz, which is a peppery, clear beetroot soup based on vegetable stock (no meat, as per Polish Catholic tradition for Christmas Eve fare).

1 large or 2 small leeks, green ends trimmed.
2 large or 3-4 small carrots.
2 parsnips
1 small celeriac, peeled, OR half a bunch of celery, leaves cut off.
Few bay leaves.
1 or 2 heads of garlic, cut in half widthways (across the cloves)
small handful of whole black peppercorns
2 850 g tins of sliced beetroots
salt to taste

Throw all of the above in a large stock pot, and add 3-4 litres of water. Bring to a boil and boil gently for 45 minutes. Remove and discard all solids, and strain liquid through cheesecloth/clean teatowel. Add a small pat of butter to make lovely oily droplets floating on top. Serve with "Uszka" (mushroom dumplings) (making them is VERY time-consuming, so we buy them from more energetic Polish people in Melbourne).

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

With a tum full of yummy food I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Holidays!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Me crochet!

I am totally excited tonight!!!!

I have only ever crocheted a short chain and a couple of rows of single crochet, and tonight I made this!!

Following the video tutes on Nexstitch (as tipped by Meshell) and the Purl Bee's granny square tute.

I know -- it ain't nothin' much, but for me it is a Christmas miracle. I am seeing in real life a granny square crocheted by ME. Wow.

I'm back on the crafting radar.

(And if it wasn't after midnight, I'd be going through my lil' stash of Japanese craft mags, ready to take over the crocheting world!!)

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


Made more soap tonight. On the menu were: lavender & patchouli, and tea-tree & blue cypress.

The last lot turned out a mess, albeit a lovely smelling one. One batch broke through the divider and ran into the other batch, then the cranberry fig batch developed a fatty layer on top, and both took daaaaaayyyyyys to firm up, blah blah blah... By some miracle they both turned out okay in the end. I didn't learn from my previous mistake and soaped them too cold again.

Tonight I turned up the heat, and they look much healthier (at this stage) compared to the last lot. Thank goodness. I even got excited and ran a purple swirl into the lavender batch.

Hopefully by tomorrow they will be firm enough to cut, then I will take snaps of the lot.

They are for a special Christmas order for a buddy who is sending them as gifts for relatives overseas.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Flashback *cough cough* Friday: Hippie Love

This is the hippiest pic I could find in the albums I have (only one from the 70s).

There were plenty of wide-collar, huge flares pix, but not exactly hippie.

This leather-headbanded friend of mum's was the winner (L-R: me aged one, mum, mum's hippie friend).

And I still hate the smell of *cough cough* cigarette smoke. Thanks, mum.

P.S. My stupid soap from stupid Wednesday is still stupid soft. Hmph.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble....

Made soap today! Yippee! The house is filled with the scents of sandalwood, vanilla, cranberry and fig...mmmm.

Pity my home-made divider failed and the sandalwood-vanilla batch swam into the cranberry-fig batch. *Wince* Will post pix soon. Meantime, enjoy the Corbis offerings.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Flashback Friday: Travel Bug

This is (L-R) family friend (clinging to her dad's leg), family friend, cousin Sabrina, my brother Adam, and me, at the Dandenong ice-skating rink. We'd go on a Sunday after church (we used to go to church every Sunday back then....whoa) during winter. They'd play the latest hits on a crappy PA system so despite the fact it was at about 134 decibels, you'd barely hear what song it was supposed to be, but it certainly did make us skate faster! Then we'd take a breather in the middle and pretend to be figure skaters, executing clumsy spins, wobbly balances, and painful falls.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


If you had've asked me two months ago whether I thought the following was possible, I would have said, "No -- I bloody well wish!"

- Milk, bread, eggs, butter, juice, fruit and vegies delivered to my door.
- Said produce 100 % Australian owned and grown.
- Free delivery.
- Cheaper prices than at the supermarkets.
- Fresher than the supermarkets, and top quality.

Well, that is exactly the utopian dream our family is currently living, thanks to Aussie Farmers Direct. No I am not getting a commission for this, nor do I have any pecuniary or other interest in plugging Aussie Farmers Direct -- I just love it, and really wanted to share!

It's all super fresh and yummy-yum-yum, and as well as the things I have already mentioned, you can also have cream, cheese, Aussie coffee, and spring water delivered.

I could go on and on about the benefits of AFD, and I will!

MissM finds it super exciting to receive the deliveries, especially finding the fruit & veg box on our doorstep on Wednesday after kinder. It has even inspired her to eat some new fruit/veg, which as far as I am concerned is a miracle (she was excited about the mango today).

Likewise I am inspired to cook new stuff, because the box contains some things I do not usually buy (e.g. iceberg lettuce -- we rediscovered the pleasure of an old-school lettuce/tomato/cuke salad the other night, which went fabulously with a homemade lasagne).

Another benefit is that we are eating more good stuff and wasting less! My usual way was to go to the supermarket, buy the usual fruit/vegies, and occasionally buy a bunch of something or other which was either eaten or ended up evolving at the bottom of the fridge/fruitbowl. Now the choice is out of my hands, because the farmers' box contains a selection not made by me. Most of it happens to be stuff I usually buy (apples, bananas, capsicum, onion, etc) but the rest is stuff I would not usually buy, and I know that I have a week to find a way to use it before the next box of fruit/veg comes. To be honest, I thought it wouldn't work and that a lot more evolution would go on in the bottom of the fridge, but not so! I think it's because I know the next box is coming, and normally I just wait until I can bring myself to shoo out whatever it is crawling around the bottom of my fridge before I go and buy more. And now when I am contemplating what to have for lunch, I think of the fresh stuff first -- yay for me!!

I luv yaz, Aussie Farmers!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Flashback Friday: The whole family.

This breaks the rules a little, as I believe we became citizens in 1986, but nevertheless, this is us becoming official Australians, because we became true Australians the moment we fell in love with this country, which was some time before the day in this photo.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Flashback Friday: (catch-up) toys, and my mum!

This was my favourite doll. I named her "Nauczycielka" which is "Teacher" in Polish (que?!). I also remember that dog on the armchair -- it was super-soft, as it was covered with rabbit fur (noice...).

My favourite toy EVER is Floppy. My dad brought him over from a business trip to Finland in 1977. He knows all my secrets, fears, loves, heartbreaks, fury, regrets, sorrows, joys. He has soaked up about five times his body weight in my tears over time, and has also borne the brunt of my tempers and frustrations (then more tears of guilty regret). He came with me everywhere until about age......(OMG)....20. He's still around (laying around in MissC's room as I type, so I can't take a pic! I will do so tomorrow and add it to this post).

I don't remember this softie, but I sure like it now! Heh heh. Wish I still had this one. (I'm on the right.)This is my beautiful mum.

Resplendent in lurvely stirrup-pants (circa 1985).

Reach, shake, peg, reach, shake, peg, reach, shake, peg...

Busy busy busy busy. Well, been on holidays for a week, so not that kind of busy, but the kind of busy that comes upon returning home from holidays. You know -- unpacking (eugh...shudder), thirty-four loads of washing, catching up on emails (yikes!), etc. Chuck a sick kid into the mix, and that makes me a busy little bee.

I can't believe I'm complaining after having spent the last week at a gorgeous holiday house in Sandy Point with lovely weather, animal visitors (rabbits, a fox, an echidna, a wonky-feathered magpie), lots of ice-cream, building sandcastles and running up and down dunes, cozy combustion-stove fires, and even time to flop on the couch and read (thanks, Mr.Cherryskin).

View east from Cape Liptrap (across to Wilson's Prom, which can be seen on the rhs horizon).

Ladybird on Cape Liptrap lighthouse door.

Playing with glow-sticks (taken by MissM).

Saturday, 20 October 2007

One step forward, four steps back... using up my stash.

I made this ("Remake One-piece")

from this book (ISBN 9784579111473) for MissM.

After reading Pip's post today, I hot-footed it to Spotlight, and came away with these two lovely Japanese fabrics. (The second one -- a nice soft cotton -- was only $6.99/m!!!)

I was surprised and really excited to unearth quite a lot of Japanese fabrics!!! Not only the lovely spotty Cosmo Textiles ones, but I finally found the gorgeous mushroom canvases, and some beautiful paisley prints on textured cotton.

AND they have a wide range of Clover sewing accessories. I have already bought a tube turner, a small rotary cutter, an iron-on transfer pencil, fine quilting pins (ace!!), and today added two yo-yo makers.

On Wednesday I also finally managed to drag my butt to Patchwork on Central Park, where I bought these two rolls of fabrics...yummy!

Flashback Friday (on a Saturday): Pop's Spot

Me and my Pop. My dad's dad. I was 13 months. I have always loved this photo -- shows a tenderness which I very sadly don't remember, but must be stored somewhere away in the depths of my heart.

I don't remember much of him because we left Poland when I was six (and they lived in another city, anyway, so we didn't see them often), but I do remember visiting their house and getting up at the crack of dawn as little kids are wont to do, and he, being an early riser, hanging out with me and making me breakfast and hot cocoa.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Good things

Some good things which have been happening around here lately...

Calico birthday kitty. My own pattern, which I will post soon for anyone who'd like a bash at her.

Drowning in oceans of strawbs'n'cream.

Bubble constellation in a pot in the sink.

Lilac on the windowsill.

Flashback Friday: Homemade

Christmas 1978. My mother dressed up as a homemade-and-not-very-convincing Santa, but I'll be damned if I wasn't fooled! Have a look at that joy!

We were in London that year, visiting my mum's sister and her English husband. They lived in a block of flats, and I remember making snowmen outside, and the exciting fact that my uncle worked in an ice-cream factory. I can still smell the frosty strawberry smell as I opened my favourite ice-creams.

The photo shows L-R: dad, me, mum/Santa, cousin Scott.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Flashback Friday (on a Sunday): My Crafty Nanna

I don't know if my nannas were crafty. I know my great-grandma was crafty (see this post), I know my mum is crafty, and I know my dad's mum baked a mean meringue, and my mum's mum was state Bridge champion, but I can't really post about a crafty nanna.

So, instead I will dedicate this post to my dad's gorgeous mum, and another post this week to my mum's gorgeous mum.

My beautiful grandmother Irena.

My grandma's name was Irena. She birthed and raised four boys, and was a fantastic cook. She loved animals, and adopted any injured wild animals which came her way. In the pic below she is chatting to an adopted bird. Dad tells me this bird came to visit regularly long after it had healed and gone "home".

She was a great drawer, and had planned on studying fine arts, but then she met my grandfather, got married, and had her four boys, so that was the end of that!
Proudly holding her first son, my dad, sometime in 1947.

She met my grandfather in 1943 in German-occupied Poland, when they were both working for the German Weigel Institute, feeding lice. Mmmm-hmmm, yep. The lice would be placed in a little cage, which would be applied to your leg, and the lice sucked your blood, after which some kind of crazy processes were carried out to obtain typhoid antibodies from the lice. This was one way of avoiding being rounded up and sent to labour or concentration camps.

Walking with a friend, 1941.

My grandma died in 1991, aged 71, from Parkinson's disease. We had been in Australia since 1982, so I hadn't really known her, but I know of her lovely character, and I remember those meringues!

On the left, with her mother and sister.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A Stick in the Mud

Horse racing is bad, hmkay?

Argument 1: Not it's not -- the horses love to run.

Counter 1: I'm sure they do, but I'm sure they'd much rather run just when they felt like it, not with some guy sitting on their back whipping their asses, and especially not on injured, strapped, steroid-injected joints.

Argument 2: Not it's not -- those horses are loved and are the best looked after horses in the world!

Counter 2: They are as well looked after as any material investment. But only as long as their material value holds out. If they don't win races, they're killed. That ain't love, folks.

Argument 3: No it's not -- it's great for the economy.

Counter 3: Our economy would be fine, just fine, without it.

Argument 4: No it's not -- going to the races is so much fun! I get to dress up and feel fancy, get a lil' drunk, have fun...

Counter 4: Can you do those things not at the expense of animals' wellbeing/life? Horses fall, break legs, and get shot while people are sipping (chugging) their champagne metres away. Please, how can this be justified? And they put screens around them if they have to shoot them. Why cover it up? Does someone feel uncomfortable about the fact that a big beautiful healthy animal is dying because they are there allowing this to happen?

There's no getting around the fact that horses do suffer for this industry, and this industry exists purely for humans' enjoyment. Nope -- I'd rather have fun somewhere else, thanks.

Besides, the "fanciness" of the races is a thin veneer. From what I have seen, most racegoers fall into the "trashy" category.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

The Name Game

I came across this on a couple of blogs, including One Little Acorn. A little bit of fun.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Alma Astina
2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Peppermint Jaffa Cake
3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) MBe (I think this should be first two letters of last name, as in JLo)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Lilac Dog
5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Anna Warsaw
6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The")
The Yellow Milk
8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Jerry Stefan
9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy)
Truth Clinkers (my favourite!!)
10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names )
Anna (dad has no middle name!)
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Diamond Dublin
12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Summer Gardenia
13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Cherry Jeansie
14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Ham Sandwich Jacaranda (hmmmm -- I think I'd get kicked out of the commune)
15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour")
The Sewing Sunshine Tour

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Flashback Friday: Me and my pet.

This is a pic of me and my dad with our first dog, Alma. She was my mum's, really -- apparently mum had read "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier and decided she must have a black cocker spaniel. So she got one (as was/is mum's way...).

I don't remember much of Alma except hiding behind my parents when we were walking in the door because Alma would jump all over me, and I was just a wee one.

In this picture we are at a place called "Szyglowek" which was a tiny village of a few farms, surrounded by 30 km deep pine forests. Mum and I used to spend Thurs-Sun there with mum's friend and her kids; the dads joining us on the weekend. We lived in a little 2-3 room cottage.

We'd spend our days mushroom picking (this is a pic of the mushrooms strung up and drying on the side of the cottage), playing in the sun, hanging out with the farmers watching them milk the cows and feed the pigs. I still remember the boiled potato smell of the pig swill, and carrying fresh milk in milk cans back to the cottage. The dads would fish and catch lobsters which we would then boil up for dinner.

Mum tells me the story of one day when I came running in excitedly with Maciek (the son of mum's friend, aged seven or eight -- I would have been five or six) telling them we'd found a bomb in the forest. We led them to where it was and sure enough, it was an old unexploded WW2 bomb lying on the forest floor!

Another time we'd had lunch and were playing outside, and mum called us in, but we were gone. They called and called but there was no sign of us, so they started frantically searching. They were terrified because not only was the village surrounded by deep forests, but there was a wide river running nearby, and the horrible possibilities of what could happen to their four-, five-, and seven-year-old children gripped their minds.

A few hours had passed. They had started going to each farm one by one, and just before dusk they found us -- we were happily watching the farmer's wife milk the cows in their barn.

Mum tells me I got 21 smacks then and there, and I think I might even remember it!

I have definite flashes of memories -- winding through bushy baby pine trees looking for mushrooms, the cottage near ours having its roof tarred, and standing in the doorway of the steamy little kitchen inhaling the sweet smell of the boiling lobsters -- but mostly it all seems like something out of a story book. I'm looking forward to sharing these stories with my girls.

As for poor Alma: when we escaped Poland, we heartbreakingly had to leave her behind. We left her with distant family, and found out later she had died from a neglected ear infection. I don't know what to feel about this -- guilt, anger, sadness. Just one tiny little price of non-democracy.