Happy Christmas!

I’ll be posting properly again next week but this is just a note to say I hope you’ve all had a lovely end to December!

Cheers,

Luci

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Nourishing Body Butter.

It’s only December, and everyone reassures me that the worst of winter is still to come. My skin was fine in the summer with just coconut oil as a moisturiser, but since the cold weather has kicked in I’ve discovered that I needed to step things up a bit. 

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I’d experimented a little with shea butter, almond oil and beeswax combinations, but this time I decided to actually write down my quantities and keep mixing things up until I got it right.

First, I gathered some ingredients:

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I won’t go into details about all the back-and-forth, weighing out ingredients, testing, adding more this or that that I went through. Long story short is that I ended up with about 200ml of body butter, the main ingredient of which is shea butter. The ingredients go like this:

150g Pure Unrefined Shea Butter

70g Virgin Coconut Oil

45g Sweet Almond Oil

1g Vitamin E Oil

5g Lanoline

20g Beeswax Pellets

30 Drops Sweet Orange Oil

60 Drops Vanilla Extract Oil

Bring a small pot of water to simmer. Add a heatproof bowl over the top, and add all ingredients except for the vanilla, orange and vitamin E oils. Let melt (it takes a few minutes). Once melted, take the bowl off the heat and set aside. When it starts to cool a little and looks clouded, add the oils. Mix well and continue to mix as the mixture cools. Take a drop and test it on your skin, and add more scented oil if you wish. You could also make this unscented, or with other flavours like lavender or rosemary.

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Pour into airtight jars and use on freshly-showered skin – or whenever you like! I have a little jar at my desk at work to put on my hands whenever they feel dry, as well as my at-home stash. I find it perfect on my hands and face as well as as a general body moisturiser.

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Let me know what you think! Do you have any other tricks to keep winter out of your skin? 

Cheers,

Luci

White Chocolate and Nutella Pralines.

This is a recipe I found over at A Beautiful Mess recently, and I decided to take them along to my work Christmas party. Long story short: They were gone in record time. 

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I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth (I also made and brought some Rosemary Crispbread to the party) but I know that many of the lovely ladies at work do indeed like the sweet stuff. The recipe goes thus:

200g dark chocolate

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Nutella

200g White Chocolate

chocolate sprinkles (optional) 

Melt dark chocolate, butter, cream and Nutella in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Let cool to room temperature (pop it in the fridge to speed things up a bit if needs be). Once it’s fairly solid but still soft enough to shape, roll little bite-sized balls of the mixture. Spread on a tray and put in the freezer for about half an hour. 

While those are getting nicely solid, melt the white chocolate over simmering water. Spoon the white chocolate over the balls (or roll them in the white chocolate – but you might end up with little melty bits of dark chic in with your white like I did…). Add sprinkles to the top as you go, before the white chocolate has time to set. Put your pralines in the fridge to really set the chocolate, and eat at will! They’re really rich so you might only need one, or two. Or more. 

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I ran out of white chocolate on the last few so that’s why there’s a brown one in the middle. They’re yummy like that, too.

Cheers,

Luci

Tourist T-Shirt into Cushion Cover.

I should probably invest in a decent office chair one of these days. My current work char is a cheap folding chair, which is a little low. I’ve been using a pile of fabric scraps as a cushion for a while (lazy? Yep!) but I decided to make something a little better. I’ve partially cannibalised a bed pillow over recent months, taking some stuffing and using it in other projects – so it was a bit deflated. I decided to combine that and one of the many men’s T-shirts from my stash and make a comfy spot for my behind! 

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I cut the pillow about two-thirds of the way along the length and stuffed the larger end as full as I could, to make a nice firm cushion. I folded the raw edge in on itself and sewed it shut. I also sewed the other end closed and put that back in the stash.

I chose a T-shirt that (sorry Dom) I would never wear in a million years. I decided the Australian-ness is acceptable when not living in Australia, and when used as part of the furniture. The T was good thick cotton too, which is important. I flattened the front and back together and pinned down, then used my chalk pencil to draw a square 17 inches per side – to match my cushion with about an inch leeway. I cut out my squares. 

I decided to make ties to hold the cushion in it’s cover, and to hold it on to the chair. For this I used the convenient hem of the t-shirt. I just cut it off close to the seam, and turned the tube inside out with help of a safety pin. 

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I then cut this tube into 8 pieces – 4 per side. These I pinned and sewed onto each ‘open’ edge of the cushion cover – I had marked the side I wanted at the back of the chair in chalk so I didn’t get mixed up. That is, I folded the raw edges down, pinned the strips of tube, sewed. 

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Then it was just a matter of putting the right sides together, sewing down the other three sides of my cushion, and turning it right-side out.

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In goes the cushion, tie tie tie go the ties. Done!

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And now it’s under my bum. It’s comfy too. 

(Yes I’m in a silly mood today. It’s Friday and I’m not sick anymore, what can I say – I’m happy!)

Do you have any good ideas for T-shirt upcycling, or what to do with souvenirs when the novelty wears off?

I hope you’re having a great day!

Cheers,

Luci

Sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is one of those German dishes that always seems like you should make it yourself, and I had decided a long time ago to give it a try – but I must admit I was a bit intimidated to try it out on actual real Germans. I managed to get up the courage a few weeks ago though and got it started. It’s pretty simple – cabbage, salt, vinegar, sugar – it just takes some time to get it ready to eat.

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You can use any type of cabbage, but the traditional ones are the plain green ones sold here (and maybe everywhere?) as white cabbage. I had also stored in my mind a long time ago the very useful advice that caraway seeds are a necessary addition to the fermenting process of sauerkraut making – they remove the, ahem, bubble-forming process in one’s belly after you eat it. Good to know, right? So I chopped up my cabbage into thinnish strips and sprinkled caraway seeds through – I used about 3 tablespoons to a one kilogram cabbage which was probably a bit too much, one to two would have been sufficient. I sprinkled through a good couple of tablespoons of salt, too, a tablespoon of sugar, and poured about half a cup of vinegar through and mixed it all together. I got some good open-topped glass containers and split the mix through them. The trick with sauerkraut, I’ve learned, is that you need to have liquid covering the whole mixture to allow the fermenting process to get going. This means having a weight on top of the cabbage mix to push out the air. I had some big jars of fruit which were only slightly narrower than the opening of my jars and squished them down. Weight and container should both be glass or ceramic, or at least not metal.

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I’d been told that the liquid will seep out of the cabbage a bit and you just have to check it a few times in the first 24 hours. After then, top it up with salt water if needed, to cover all the cabbage. Then wander off for two or three weeks. Well, actually you should check it every couple of days to make sure it’s not drying out. It should therefore be stored somewhere you’ll see it but that it won’t be in your way. I had mine up on a shelf in my kitchen. Keep it out of the sun, too.

After a few weeks (actually it ended up being three and a half weeks, oops I almost forgot it…) I opened up the kraut and cooked some up. There is TONS of this from one cabbage, so I put the rest in the fridge in a airtight container and I’m assured that it will be fine for months there.

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I cooked it up and served it alongside potatoes and schnitzel in a super-German traditional meal. Dom loved it! Me too, to be honest 🙂

Fermented vegetable meals are supposed to be amazing for the digestive system, so that’s a plus, too. Yummy and good for you is my favourite combination. Sauerkraut is tangy, salty, crunchy tastiness. If I do say so myself. Lecker, as they say here. Tasty.

OK that’s enough self-congratulation for now, sorry about that! Have you ever made homemade sauerkraut, or other traditional foods? How did it go? Got any tips for me?

Cheers,

Luci

Spiced Apple Oats.

I’m still home sick this week, and combining that with the dreary wintery weather means I’m constantly in the mood for comfort food. This morning I decided to make a big bowl of warm oats for breakfast. Noticing my full fruit bowl, I (as happens when I plan meals while hungry) ended up elaborating on the original plan. 

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I put a cup or so of water in a small pot and put it on the stove to heat. I added a teaspoon of raw sugar, a tablespoon of maple syrup, a few good shakes of cinnamon powder and a dash of nutmeg. While this was coming to the boil, I chopped an apple – a nice tart one from Dom’s dad and step-mum’s tree – into cubes.

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While that was cooking down a bit I chopped up the other fruits I wanted in my breakfast. I had a mango, so that went in, and a banana too. You could add any other fruits you like – berries would be yummy! I put the extra fruit in my bowl and added a good dollop of plain yoghurt on top.

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The oats need regular stirring as they cook, and once they have absorbed all the water, they’re ready to go. It takes only a few minutes. Don’t let it get too dry though or it will have the consistency of paste. Not what you want. Mine was just right though as I added it to the fruit/yoghurt bowl, and I was ready to go.

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This was a huge meal, but I managed to finish it. 🙂 Once it’s all mixed through together it looks somewhat less pretty but I reccommend it for those cold winter days, or times when you just want comfort breakfast. The smell of the cinnamon and maple syrup are so warm and reassuring to me. 

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What’s your favourite comfort food? 

I hope you’re somewhere warm.

Cheers,

Luci

A Little Denim Bag.

Christmas is looming and I feel as if I should hand-make every christmas present. This is definitely not going to be possible, but I will make some and today I finished off one. This is another creation from old pairs of jeans from Dom, and I’m quite satisfied with it. I love the colour variations that old denim gets, and the softness of the material. 

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I didn’t get too many progress photos, but I’ll describe what I did as best as possible. I cut two equal sized rectangles of jeans leg, making sure to keep the seam in the middle as shown. The rectangles were about 20cm by 30cm. I sewed one long edge of each together, and made a rectangle of lining material the same size.

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I pinned two darts per side at what will become the top edge, and added a covering piece of denim slightly longer than the darted edge. Then I sewed it all down.

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I wasn’t exactly sure how to finish it off (I’d seen a tutorial on how to make this bag but I’d lost the link and only remembered up to this point). I ended up sewing a few pieces of jeans leg together to make a piece about 80cm long and 12cm or so wide. Then I ironed it flat, then in half, opened it up and ironed the raw edges to the middle, then back in half again to make a nice casing. I sewed the remaining raw edges of the bag into the new casing strap, with the ends at the base of the bag and a good length of handle left above. 

A funky old button and a loop of elastic to hold the top closed, and it’s all done!  I think it worked out nicely and I hope it will be well received in a couple of weeks (eek! So little time!) at christmas.

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I hope your festive plans are going well! Are you hand-making any presents this year (and want to give me some ideas)?

Cheers,

Luci