Wild Garlic Pesto.

The weather this weekend has been spectacular. Sun shining and birds singing and a lovely puff of breeze. It’s what Nick Cave referred to once as ‘the dirty end of winter’, but the snow doesn’t seem to think so – it snowed for a week in mid-January and since then it’s been getting a little more like spring every week. Last week I saw the first wildflowers of the season!

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Something else that happens at the start of the spring is that the wild garlic (in German: Bärlauch, pronounced bear-lock) starts to grow in the forest, which means when I go for a run through there I come home ravenous because it smells so good. So today I finally went and collected some. I got a few good handfuls and brought them home.

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After a good rinse, I dried the leaves and used my stick blender to mush them up. I then got some cashews for the mix but decided to crush them a bit before using the stick blender on them. Like so:

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Ta-da!

So I poured about three quarters of these in and blended them well, then poured the rest in and added a bit of lemon juice and a good bit of olive oil, blended a little more (not too much, I like a little bit of crunchy cashews in my pesto), added salt and pepper, and that’s it! 

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This stuff is a bit hot when raw, so cooked is probably best unless you like the taste of raw garlic. Mix it through cooked pasta with some grated parmesan, or however you like your pesto.

So to summarise, here’s the recipe:

2-3 good handfuls wild garlic leaves

about 1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

cashews

salt and pepper, to taste.

Blend and eat!

The great thing about wild garlic leaves is that they taste like yummy garlicky goodness but don’t leave you with garlic breath!

Hope you had a great weekend, 

Cheers,

Luci

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Homemade Shampoo Didn’t Work.

I”ve been off the radar for a few weeks sorry guys. The reason is actually a combination of things. First, I tried to update my operating system on my laptop and it crashed the disk, meaning I had to wipe it and reboot from a backup. Unfortunately my most recent backup was 18 months old, so I had to find creative ways of getting my data off the machine first. Anyway, long story short is that it took about a week and a half but we”re finally back on track in that regard.

During that time a couple of other things happened. I idled upon a new (to me) podcast which is focussed on trying to encourage people to think scientifically. It sounds a little dry when I describe it like that but it”s actually fascinating and has really made me reassess the way I think about certain things. 

Another thing that happened as a direct consequence of this is that I signed up to a course! It”s called Food For Thought and it is designed to help people understand eating, health and nutrition scientifically, and see through the hype of marketing and misinformation that we’re bombarded with every day.

Why am I writing this here? Because something I’ve learned is that I have had some false ideas about certain things. And I’ve written things here such as ‘trying to use more natural products’ and so on that is not only not based on science but is just a silly way to prioritise things. ‘Natural’ things include cyanide, mercury, and botulism, and I don’t want any of those things in my daily life if I can help it.

I will continue to make my own lip gloss and moisturiser, as these things when store-bought tend to contain petroleum-based ingredients which are non-renewable. I’d rather avoid using fossil fuels as a beauty aid. 

I’ll keep blogging and creating as much as I can. I will try to avoid too much preaching (aside from this post, obviously), but I will equally try to avoid making unfounded health, nutrition or other claims. 

All this finally leads back to my title. I started making my own castile-soap based shampoo due to the popular thought that sodium laureth sulfate has health risks. After looking into studies made to test these claims, I can safely say that aside from being a mild skin irritant to some people, there are no known health risks. The whole myth is based on hype, and misinformation, and poorly-conducted, biased studies. Aside from all that, the homemade shampoo made my hair greasy, brittle and really hard to brush. And it got worse and worse. So I have gone back on the store-bought stuff. I’m alternating with this soap, though, as my mum sent it to me and it smells great, and works pretty well as a shampoo. 

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The reason for the mixture of normal shampoo and this soap is because I’ve started riding my bike to work each day and so my hair needs daily washing. It gets a bit too flyaway with the normal shampoo washing everyday so the alternating with the soap makes a good balance.

So this was a pretty different post to usual! I hope you don’t mind. I’ve got some yummy recipes to share and I’ve been sewing, too, so I’ll be back with more of my regular style of post very soon.

Have a great weekend guys!

Cheers,

Luci

Air Freshener.

Hi there everyone! I’m sorry it’s been a little while, life has been conspiring to keep me off the internet. But I’m back now!

So this is just a quickie. My stick-diffuser air freshener in my bathroom is empty. It very well may have been for a while now, but I happened to notice it today, which is incidentally also the day that my lovely new essential oils turned up. One of which is Jasmine, which is one of my favourite scents in the world. We had it growing all around the house when I was growing up, and aside from smelling great it looks pretty too:

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The recipe is simple. I used almond oil as a carrier, a little vodka (you could use any strong clear alcohol) to help carry along the sticks, and about 25 drops of the jasmine oil. I’ll give that a day or two and then if it’s not strong enough, add more. 

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So that’s my solution to keeping waste to a minimum – recycle the old bottle! It was vanilla flavoured last time so we’ll see how much of that carries over, but vanilla and jasmine scents together will work pretty nicely anyway, I think 🙂

Apple Sauce.

I bought some apples recently and while they looked and smelled apple-y and wonderful, when I bit into one it was soft and squishy and just the wrong texture. There’s nothing worse than a Disappointment Apple. Well, as far as apples go, anyway. So I decided to cook the apples up, because they still had such a wonderful flavour and aroma. I peeled them because the internet recommended it, but actually I think next time I wouldn’t. I’m lazy, and anyway there’s tons of goodness in the peel.

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So I chopped up the peeled, cored apples (I used three), put them in a saucepan and added a little water, maybe 5mm in the bottom of the pan. It’s better to add less and top it up than to make it too watery. The recipe goes something like this:

3 apples, cored and peeled (optional)

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)

a good few shakes of cinnamon

about half as much nutmeg

a little dash of salt

Put everything in a saucepan, cover and heat on low to medium, so the water gently simmers. Don’t let it dry out too much, add more water as needed but only a little at a time. Stir regularly and when the apples squish when pressed lightly with the back of a spoon, you’re done. Mash with a fork, masher, back of spoon, whatever. Taste and enjoy! I ate some of it with greek yogurt as a snack, and some more with the roast pork I made. Yum. 

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I love simple warming winter recipes! Do you have any favourites?

Cheers,

Luci

Summer Dress Part 2.

Well, it’s the coldest part of winter, what better time to make a summer dress…?

This is a follow on from the first instalment,which was little more than a teaser. But I got my bum in gear and actually managed to put together a functional item of clothing, woo hoo! But first things first:

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I plan to use this pattern again so I had to fold in all the larger sizes and longer version options on the pieces of pattern, after cutting them out (I am so slow at this stuff). Laying the pieces out seemed to take a long time – I must find out what the trick is to this step. But eventually I got to the nerve-wracking step of cutting the fabric and managed to not mess it up! Yay! Then I had to work out the instructions. Thankfully they had pictures, as the German instructions were pretty hard to translate. The first few steps had me make this, which didn’t look like much:

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But the next steps helped me turn that into this:

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Big n’ shapeless, but a recognisable part of a dress. So far, so good! I didn’t get any of the skirt-making in photos, but once I had that attached I got very excited as I had a dress-shaped thing! Putting in the zipper was a bit tricky and I think I could have done it a bit better, but I know that for next time.

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Then I put on the dress, zipped it up (the zipper works!) and discovered it looked like this…

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Shapeless and unflattering, and just the wrong length. I’d followed the instructions which said for sizing, go by the bust measurement, but apparently I’m an unusual shape because none of the rest of the dress fit properly anywhere. Luckily I’m much more experienced with taking in clothes, so after some quick pinning and some sewing, shape was re-discovered. I took it up a little to make it look a bit less 1950s, and this is the result:

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(not pictured: ugg boots. It’s bloody cold here!).

So that’s my first attempt at a grown-up sewing project, and I’m looking forward to wearing it in the summertime! Only 5 more months to go…

What do you think? Do you have any tips to make sewing from a pattern easier? Leave a comment below!

Cheers,

Luci

P.S. I actually finished this last week but delayed blogging about it in order to visit Prague for the weekend. So that’s where my priorities lie. 🙂

A Simple Wallet.

I’ve been trying to find small projects to use up some of my scraps of fabric – waste not, want not, and all that! So I had some plain black cotton that I thought, at first, could become a little handbag. Then I looked more closely at how much was there (not so much!) and decided a wallet was a better idea.

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I didn’t take measurements, but rather got the largest note in my wallet and used that as a template. Euros aren’t particularly big notes, or at least I’m pretty sure that Australian notes are bigger, so it’s probably better not to just use arbitrary sizes anyway. 

So I got my note, added a centimetre border on all sides, and made that my size for the finished wallet when closed. The wallet itself consists of: two interfaced pieces of cloth twice the size of my note (plus border, plus seam allowance).These I sewed together right-sides in, leaving a few inches gap to turn it inside out. This became the back and flap of the wallet. Note: I also, at the end, decided to add a coin pocket. This would have been best sewed in to the upper half of the inside piece before attaching it to the outside piece here. It would have been neater. Oh well.

Anyway… Another interfaced piece of cloth, also 2x note-plus-border size, was folded in half and put with raw edges facing down, on the larger piece, to become the cash holder. I then hemmed on all sides a third, note-plus-border sized piece of cloth and added that in front of the cash pocket, to become the front, and the card holder. 

Sewing all these layers together caused a few arguments between my sewing machine and I but we got there in the end. Then I added a button and a loop of fabric to the front middle of the flap, as seen above.

I decided then, though, to add a coin pocket. This is where I learned that things work out better if you think them through properly at the start. I made a top flap and a main piece for the purse, interfacing and hemming some green fabric I had. I also had some velcro so I used that to keep the pocket closed. The coin pocket worked out quite nicely actually, but the stitching is kind of visible from the front, which isn’t so good. Now I know for next time!

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I think next time I’d make it a little wider, so three cards can fit side by side, as well.

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(Oh, I sewed a little line of stitches down the middle of the front flap to keep the cards separated).

Overall, though, I’m happy with it. What do you think?I’ll be giving it as a gift so I hope the recipient is happy too 🙂

Cheers,

Luci

Summer Dress Part 1.

It’s winter here in Germany and the summer in Australia looks unimaginably hot from my 3 degree days, but I know it will be warm again one day and so I’m making a summer dress! I got given the pattern and cloth as a birthday present from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and since I’ve never worked from a proper pattern before and it was written in German, it is a challenge. So this is just an intro – it’s about half done and I will hopefully finish it in the next week or so. Until then, this is the pattern:

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And this is the cloth I’m using:

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So check back in soon to see the finished product – wish me luck!

Cheers,

Luci