Friday, August 29, 2014

Sewing a new wheat pack cover

My beloved wheat pack was getting rather threadbare, but when I finally found an actual hole in it, I knew something had to be done, because I really would rather not wake up in a sea of wheat.


Fortuitously, Mr Fork had alerted me that a pair of his flannel pyjamas had busted a seam recently, and close inspection really deemed them beyond all hope of repair (I had already fixed them a number of times but they were a favourite). So I took these two events as a sign that I should make a new cover out of his lovely soft monkey pyjamas!


It was a relatively simple project that really needs only very basic sewing skills.

The old wheat pack was cut open and the (well roasted but perfectly useable wheat) was decanted into a large bowl.


I took the pants legs, where the material was still nice and thick and cut four rectangles from the bottom, a little larger than the size I wanted the wheat pack to be. My old pack was lined, and I saw no reason to deviate from that, hence four rectangles.

I hemmed it all together around three edges, then turned it right way out. In this case, it didn't really matter so much because I did the lining the same as the outside so I didn't have to be overly concerned about how the material was facing.

The wheat was carefully poured back in via a stiff piece of card which acted as a funnel. I then just turned the ends in on themselves and sewed across the opening a few times.


And it was done! I now have a funky new flannel covered wheat pack with happy monkey faces. My achey pregnant self is grateful! I'm thinking of taking the tops of the pyjama pants and making mini pants versions for Ellie and Attila.


Have you saved anything from being thrown out lately and repurposed it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My pregnancy wardrobe essentials - styling the bump

I wanted to write about my wardrobe tips for pregnancy. Specifically, this probably relates more to the type of clothes that I wear to work, because when I'm home, I like to dress comfortably, and that means tracksuit or yoga pants and tops that may be slightly indecent for public view given my expanding girth.

I'm one of those people who are pretty frugal, and if I can help it, I'm not going to buy something specifically for maternity wear (unless I get it for an absolute steal of course). I'm more the sort of person who will wear regular clothes for as long as possible, and then when/if I absolutely have to, I'll go buy something cheap in a larger than normal size, but still from a regular store. Maternity wear is expensive ok, and if I can't make use of it after the nine baby-carrying months, I lose interest.

So, having said all of that, these are some of my favourite essential items I've been wearing to style the bump to date. I'm midway through week 29 now, and don't anticipate I'll need to change my dress style too much to accommodate the remaining pregnancy countdown.



The wrap tops

I have the one above from Abi and Joseph and it was worth the hefty price tag ($129 when I bought it). First of all, wrap tops are incredibly flattering. It's versatile, and to help cover the expanding assets I can also wear it with a singlet underneath for extra modesty. The wrap style means it's great as Attila grows because I can tie it to suit, and the fact that it's 100% merino means it's both warm and cool as required. It can also do double duty post baby as I imagine it'll be great for feeding in too.


Sweater dress (or tunic dresses)

The one pictured was sent to me by Mesop. It's the 'Wild World Sweater dress', and I almost fell over when I saw the price tag was $189. Then I looked closer at the dress. It's 100% merino and so soft and drapy. It's also not a maternity dress, but because of the stretchy, soft fabric, it can definitely cope with an expanding bump. Both of my babies have been due in Spring, so I have had winter pregnancies, which I am grateful for, as it allows me the flexibility to layer. This dress is great on it's own, or paired with some leggings for extra warmth. I love it a lot, and it's super flattering on.

I've got a couple of others that are lovely as well, without the price tag. Watch out when shopping because what you don't want is what I will dub the 'potato sack' tunic dress. Find something a little bit special, with a little bit of shape - that always helps me to feel more stylish.


Singlets

Alright, I may have bought something maternity specific here, but I was thinking ahead for feeding purposes. I got mine from Sorella and Me, and who could resist something made with organic cotton and so flattering and that it can be worn pre, during and post pregnancy? It's super versatile and I use it for layering under tops while it's cold, but I also plan on packing it in my hospital bag as well because it's super convenient for feeding in too with the button up neckline.

I have others (non maternity) that I got from Kmart for about $4 which are also awesome - just plain spaghetti strap ones which are fairly long so good for layering as well.


Cute flats

I don't own the above ones exactly, but I have several pairs that are similar. I don't know if it happens to everyone, but my feet swell when I'm pregnant. It happens gradually so I don't really notice until I am the same width from my knees to my toes, but it definitely happens. So, I tend to reserve a subset of shoes for pregnancy wear. I live in cute flats or sandals, and just rotate through them. I'm sad to say by the time Attila is born, all my pregnancy shoes will be too stretched for me (or anyone else) to wear again, so they'll get binned. Still, decent shoes are a pregnancy essential as your poor feet need to carry a bit of extra weight for awhile. I like to trawl around the outlet stores for good brands at reduced prices.


Leggings, tights and socks (similar to those pictured)

Look, let's be honest here. No matter how comfortable a pair of leggings/tights is, they will stretch as your belly grows, so there is no need to get expensive items here. Don't even buy them from a maternity section.  You're after things that will add versatility to your dresses or for modesty under an oversized shirt, or just plain fun under pants (who cares if no one sees them?!). I like to buy mine from Big W or asos, depending on who has the best deal or whether I can wait for postage. I kept the ones I wore while pregnant with Ellie, and they looked ludicrous over the small Attila-bump. So we're talking cheap and comfortable consumables here... although to be perfectly frank, I will probably re-purpose them for staking up my tomatoes when they're too holy and stretched to be decent.

Not pictured, but definitely recommended:

Various scarves, brooches, chunky jewellery and belts. These help to shape an outfit, drape over overexposed cleavage and generally help take the focus off my belly when I don't want to show it off.

How do you 'style your bump'? Am I missing anything?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe: Anti nausea cookies with ginger

I have a good friend who loves to bake. I honestly think there is nothing that she cannot make in a kitchen. While I can cook well enough, she really knows her stuff and how things work together, so, when I wanted to create something to eat that would be relatively healthy but help to quell my nausea, I knew just who to turn to for help.
 
We started off knowing that I wanted cookies. There is a real cookie-palooza going on at the moment, everywhere I turn I see cookies being made and shared. Rightly so. Who doesn't love cookies? They're portable, delicious and very flexible and forgiving.

The brief was that they were to contain lots of ginger and be yummy and textural and just all around amazing. I think we succeeded pretty well actually, and so, I'm going to blog about it! 

Measurements are a bit funny because we wanted to make a small batch and sort of made it up as we went, but I assure you, the end result is delicious and more-ish. It was pretty apparent they were going to work when the raw dough itself was delicious (yay for vegan dough and eating it straight from the bowl!). Apparently that's an early marker of a good cookie!
 
Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/6 cup wholemeal flour (we used spelt but you could use regular too)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tblsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/3 cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 tblsp grated fresh ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp bi carb soda
Method:

Preheat your (fan based) oven to 180C. Line your cookie trays.
 
I like a low fuss recipe and I don't think you could get less fussy than this one. It's pretty simple really. Add everything into a bowl and combine. You want the mixture to be sticky but not too wet. You may need to add a little more flour or water to get it to the right consistency.
When you're happy, roll the mixture into appropriately sized balls, flatten slightly and put onto your trays. I found it was easier to do this with wet hands. My balls were probably 2 inches or so across when flattened. They didn't spread very much which was surprising.
 
Bake 15 minutes (but check progress at 10 minutes).
I didn't count exactly, but I'd say the recipe probably made 20+ cookies, and I'd say they'd keep fresh for at least a week. They are a soft cookie, which is my preference, but not too soft.
 
 
Notes:
  • The raw recipe will freeze beautifully if you wanted to multiply the batch and store some away. Just defrost the dough completely before cooking.
  • Add as much ginger as you like. I personally think I'll add in some more next time.
  • I don't think the spelt flour made that much of a difference to the recipe. At $7.49/kg versus $0.79/kg for regular whole meal flour, I would be ok using regular flour next time.
  • You could mix up the nuts and the coconut. I think next time for added texture I will use a shredded coconut instead.
  • They could definitely cope with more nuts and seeds added if you wanted some extra crunch when you bite in.
Do you have a favourite cookie recipe? I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How does your garden grow? August 2014

It's been a while since my last garden update and I thought it was high time to talk about what's been happening in my garden lately.

Mr Fork decided on a whim that he didn't like how our lawn was looking/growing/feeling, so he decided to dig it all up and re-do it. In the picture below, you can see that he started with a small test patch of turf up near my veggie patch. It initially was the sole patch of nice grass in with the rest of the lawn to see how it would go, and then he decided to go ahead and dig up the rest of the yard based on the results.

Bare dirt with test turf patch
Well I suppose he was justified in thinking our grass was horrible - because underneath it, the ground was riddled with these horrible little creatures that I'm informed are lawn grubs. The hounds had great fun pouncing on them as they rose to the surface, and Ellie even got in on the action "helping" scoop them out and dispose of them. Ick.
Lawn grubs
Here is the back of Mr Fork almost finished laying the grass out in this section of the yard.
In progress
Yuki the hound quite appreciates the new lawn and loves lazing around on it. Both hounds seem very respectful of it actually and Mr Fork tells me they don't even poop on the new grass! You can also see a comparison shot of the line between new and old grass where it hasn't been replaced yet. Mr Fork has been lovingly watering 'his' grass daily, which I appreciate, as I've conned him into watering all my edible plants as well while he's at it.
It's a hard life being a hound
Speaking of edibles, here is what is in my veggie patch at the moment. I know it's late in the season for planting these, but I was assured I could grow them year round in Brisbane, so I tested out some bok choi (it's the one with pretty yellow flowers at the front) and some silver beet.
 
Bok choi, silver beet
Also spring onions, some dill and you can see the eggplants happily growing on the right side of the photo.
Spring onion, dill, eggplant
Not pictured yet, but very exciting for me, is that Mr Fork has promised me a new raised garden bed. Since he's digging up all the lawn anyway, I figured there was no harm in asking and he was quite pleased to oblige, as he says it will give him somewhere to toss all the (de-lawn-grubbed) old turf and dirt that won't fit into the compost bin. Construction will apparently start shortly I'm assured.
 
Not an edible, but rather spectacular looking is this grass plant in our front yard. I've fought hard to keep it as it's in a bit of an awkward position but I think it's beautiful. It's growing what I assume will be a flower of some sort? It started off as a small lump of grass in the heart of the plant and is ever so slowly pushing up above the plant on top of the spear part. The yellow section is growing longer and the spear part is growing higher but no other progress is being made. This is the first time in the four (five?) years we've lived here that the plant has done this, so I'm not sure what to expect of the finished product.
Flower?
How does your garden grow? Have you made any changes for the beginning of Spring?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Franjo's Kitchen - Belly Bump Biscuits

I'm not sure how I came across Franjo's Kitchen, I think I was trawling through Instagram and they were tagged in something I was looking at. I started following their account, and I was hooked - biscuits designed in a collaboration between a cook and a naturopath, both of whom are mothers?

And they're vegan, gluten free, nutritious and healthy? And especially designed with new mums in mind? Well sign me up, stat!

They recently had a promotion where purchasing a month of their lactation biscuits (available in two delicious sounding flavours) would score you free postage, but on investigation, Attila might or might not be here within the biscuit shelf life, and I didn't want to buy them and not use them for their intended purpose. Besides, I knew if I had them, I would eat them, and then Ellie would also want some, and we mightn't be able to stop.

So I continued stalking their page, and I was given a little heads up about a new product designed for pregnant mamas - Belly Bump Biscuits.  These are a limited run at the moment, to test the product out, and I was lucky enough to get my hot little (pregnant) hands on a pack.


Six months in and I'm still a bit nauseous so frankly, anything that Attila will tolerate, I will eat. Even better if it's full of good things to boot - like fibre, omega 3, iron, calcium, b vitamins and zinc. Wrapped up with a bunch of other organic ingredients, and some ginger to help combat nausea, and they're a winner in my book!


They did take a while to get to me - I ordered on a Wednesday night, and they didn't arrive until a week later, and if I'm honest, postage was a bit steep - $11.95 for a single pack of biscuits sent from Melbourne to Brisbane. Having said that, they were packaged beautifully in their bag, then in a box, surrounded by packing beans, then in a courier bag so there was no chance of any biscuits breaking enroute. Still, a week? And only ordering one bag (at $13.95 a bag) isn't very cost efficient. I worked out I had 14 biscuits in my 250g bag, and at a cost per biscuit of $1.85 (including the postage) it's a bit pricey.

Having said that though, they were yummy and filling and everything that I could want in a snack. I had to restrain myself from eating them all in one go... but it was tough. They're deliciously soft and chewy, sort of cakey and just the right amount of sweetness and flavour to be delicious. There is plenty of texture from the coconut and pepitas, and the ginger is just the right amount. I'm sold and so is Attila I think.


I definitely want to try some of their tanker topper biscuits for when Attila is born - the fig and almond variety sound amazing.

** In the interest of full disclosure, I purchased the Belly Bump Biscuits as any other customer would. This is not a paid review, but I like the product, the company and their ethos and I really wanted to share. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What's in my kitchen, August 2014

In my kitchen is... 

Undersized pumpkins that didn't realise pumpkin season was over and continued to grow on the vine that sprang from compost . Unfortunately, the poor vine couldn't cope with the change to winter temperatures and withered away. I picked the pumpkins before allowing Mr Fork to mow over the shrivelled and brown vine. I'm going to dry them out and experiment with them, but I'm not holding out much hope for their taste really.


In my kitchen is... 

An overflowing bucket of citrus. I planted my own citrus trees last year but they are failing to thrive as the grasshoppers love them. Not so my neighbour's trees, which are visible from my front yard and mock me with the loads of fruit growing on them. If I thought I had lots of citrus last month, this month is a veritable bounty! My neighbour kindly (and gratefully he says) shared some of the bounty so this bucket is full of local, organic oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes. All of them are sweet, juicy and delicious indeed! None of them made it into any baked goods this month as we pretty much devoured them in their whole state. I still have a freezer full of zest and juice from last month so we will be well supplied with vitamin C!


In my kitchen is... 

A whole lot of eggplant and tomato pasta sauces and stews, courtesy of a host of eggplants that ripened at once, fresh from the garden. Those babies were just asking to be turned into delicious 'meaty' stews and sauces, and who am I to deny them?

These were all toddler (and Attila!) approved and made for some good leftovers as well, on the nights I didn't feel like cooking. They are also very freezer friendly meals so a win all around.


In my kitchen is... 

A not-so-secret stash of protein bars. These are from the Coles Simply less range, and I make sure to keep them handy for moments where I simply can't wait to eat something more substantial or it's an inappropriate time to have a meal but I need to eat before I gnaw my own arm off (I blame pregnancy hormones). I generally have one in my handbag, one in my laptop bag and one in the car at any one time... and I'm just super impressed that these are vegan friendly and contain ingredients that I can recognise!! I've only found two flavours so far - Date, Sesame and Chia or Fruit, Oat and Quinoa, but they are both yummy.

In my kitchen is... 

Daiso dried mango. My aunt put me onto this stuff and I should never have started. It's delicious, more-ish and um... the baby wants it. Daiso is fabulous - everything is $2.80 and half of the things there I didn't know I needed until I saw them.



I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. Go have a peek through other kitchens around the globe!

What's in your kitchen this month?

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