Tag Archives: dinner

Kangaroo paw prints


For my birthday this year, my beloved bought me some kangaroo paws.  They started blooming about a week after they went into the ground in march, and they are still flowering.

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As I started dyeing fabrics for the Leafy Log Cabin workshop (details here), I decided to try some of the oldest blooms in the dye pot.  Too exciting!


Decidedly overexcited by this experience, I wandered out on my bike the next day to deadhead the kangaroo paws at a nearby intersection (there are so many).  They were not red–and they did not give a print.


But I did find a couple of mulberry trees in fruit, and I had a lovely ride and collected E Cinerea leaves… so a lovely afternoon just the same. How’s your dyeing and foraging going?



Filed under Leaf prints, Natural dyeing

Lime marmalade

Dear Readers, it seems this post was overlooked when written, and here it is somewhat belatedly!

When life sends you limes?  You know you’re having a pretty good life, I think!


I had saved pips from some variety of citrus and kept them in the freezer.  You can see them here in the mesh ball, contributing their pectin to the mix, as our limes are seedless.


After lime slicing and then lime cooking by mood lighting… the finished marmalade seems like a fitting end to the last lime season.



Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures


There is a very large patch of dyers’ chamomile beside the Torrens River in a public park in the city.  I was going that way recently and decided I would deadhead the chamomile.  So I packed my secateurs and bags when I was headed that way again (en route to a day at WOMAD with friends) and took a detour. The summer has not been kind to this patch and some of it has turned black.  But there is so much of it, there was no way I could cut all the dead flowers.

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I had a lot of company.  Regular ducks and maned wood ducks and a coot and a top knot pigeon and some moor hens came to chat.  Most departed when I didn’t offer any morning tea.

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This young one was persistent, chatting on to me as I worked away.  Eventually quite a few of its relatives came along to make sure everything was OK and watch carefully from the other side of the path.

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I kept snipping out dead flowers as passersby stared or ignored me or hurried past in case my strangeness was contagious, and maintained a bit of a conversation with the young moorhen. Next day I had this to set out to dry in the heat.

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I can feel future dye baths coming on.  It has been a great summer of harvest.  We have had so many cucumbers!

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The rhubarb kept coming even though the summer has been hard on it.

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I have been out in the neighbourhood collecting saltbush seed.

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I even found a new kind of saltbush that the council has planted a little way away from my house.

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Friends had an open garden where they sold plants for an excellent cause.  I donated my collection of divided succulents, and they all sold.

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In March, we continued to enjoy local strawberries and bought the big box of seconds for the sheer delight of them.

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And now autumn has begun, the quince harvest has come in too, lest the possums eat them all… and the new season’s harvest is begun already.






Filed under Dye Plants, Neighbourhood pleasures

More summer preserving

The harvest is continuing round our place.  One friend dropped a bag of figs and grapes on the front doorstep.  I took a bag of plums over to hers on a run!

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Then I went to visit another friend who is house-bound after surgery, taking a care pack of salads and mains.  She asked me to deal with her nectarine tree.  It was so heavily laden!  I collected a huge bucket of fallen spoiled fruit (things such as this are known at our house as ‘chicken happiness’).  Then I picked fruit for my friend and another visitor, and then two more buckets.  Then I cleared fruit out of her neighbour’s gutter!  The tree was still covered in unripe fruit.

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I shared nectarines with two other households and then put our share in jars, since we have a young nectarine tree which is bearing enough to keep us in fresh fruit.  Oh, and there were more plums. Just one jar this time.

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There was also a handover of a HUGE bag of frozen hibiscus flowers from a dedicated friend, bless her heart!  They had to wait a couple of days, and then I decided it was time to use the only dependable looking big jar I had for them.  I wasn’t sure they would all fit, but in the end, with defrosting and squeezing … they did.

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In went fermented citrus peel water and aluminium foil water (thank you to India Flint for yet another ingenious use of kitchen discards that are neither worm happiness nor chicken happiness)… fabric, threads, and so on… (last week’s batch are here for size comparison).

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I filled another, smaller jar with kino from an E Sideroxylon I had been saving, and another (slightly less) large jar, albeit with a rusty lid which might not seal, with my mother’s dried coreopsis flowers. That was all the dye pot would take for processing.

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Three more for the pantry shelf.  It is so interesting to see such a deep green already developing in the hibiscus flower jar…







Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures

Seasonal preserving

Here in the wide brown land it is high summer and stone fruit is in season.  Settle down, all you folk in midwinter on the far side of the planet!  There has been an outbreak of illness and surgery in my extended family, and it was with regret that my father informed me that their blood plums would be ripening while my parents were away visiting and supporting those in need.  I draw your attention to the basket, evidently made by either my grandma or my grandpa on Mum’s side.

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My parents can really grow things.  Fruit, flowers, vegetables, ferns, natives… these plums are enormous!  They already had more than they could use, so I pulled out my Fowlers Vacola bottling outfit and set to work.  I think I now understand that this is what folk in North America call canning.  As a child, I was amazed to think people in the US had a way to put things in cans at home.  North American supplies are now available here along with those from Italy and other parts of Europe.  But this is what I grew up with.  I now understand it was quite an Anglo-Australian thing.  Friends with families from other parts of Europe sometimes used different processing and preservation methods and sometimes just used jars from anything consumed in their household to bottle fruit.

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I love that food preserving is becoming hip at the moment–a bit–but when I was a child it was viewed as a necessity by my family, along with making jam.  Now, this kind of equipment is readily available second hand and cheaply.  For my parents it was a huge outlay and we had the smallest, most basic kit available.  I scored the next model up (bigger but still basic) for a few dollars at a garage sale, something that could have saved my mother hours of what she clearly experienced as drudgery.

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Well, this time she can have some glowing ruby jars of stewed plums without any drudgery at all, bless her.  And while I was on the project I decided to clear the freezer out a bit and do a round of dye jars using India Flint’s Stuff, Steep and Store Method.

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Hibiscus flowers, daylily flowers, hollyhocks, and clean, scoured avocado peel (fresh from lunch).  Into the jars with pre-mordanted silk embroidery thread they went.

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In the whole scheme of summer preservation, I also collected mizuna seed, woad seed and some ruby saltbush seed and set up to save them.  There was such an abundance of woad seed, and purple dye is so amazing, I put up a jar of that too.  I am looking forward to trying the agrimony seed that Wendi of the Treasure has sent when the time is right.  And to opening these jars in the future!

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Filed under Natural dyeing

Autumn and winter activity

I found more caltrop growing in the neighbourhood in a spot I have been keeping an eye on (I found some there last year).  Out it came!

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The autumn propagating season continued.  This time, fine leaved, purple creeping boobialla.  I know, it isn’t very purple.  There is a lot of mystical thinking in plant naming to my way of thinking.

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Here they are, next to the baby saltbush.  Hopefully they will grow.

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There was a gift of late figs from an old friend who came to visit.

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Pretty soon they were fig and ginger jam…

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And since then as the cold weather has real ly begun happening, rhubarb harvest!

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Japanese Indigo ready for the freezer (yes, that is the whole crop unless you count the seeds, which are still the real crop at this stage).

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And many more limes, thrown from the tree in gale force winds.  There may yet be more marmalade!

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

Returning home

I decided to celebrate returning home from Tin Can Bay with some local bundles… and knitting, and a visit to the saltbush plantings… and time with my beloved and our friends, and music… but here I’ll focus on the bundles!  If I can restrain myself that far…

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I took my new found knowledge and experience of bundling paper, which built on my reading of India Flint’s Bundle Book.  There is a cheap and simple e-book version available –or go for the glory of a solid object!  I tried a different kind of paper, acquired in the last few weeks, and I used scrap metal my Dad cut me.  I tried op shopping for flat metal with remarkably little success in previous months.  But there are quite a few priorities on my personal list and some progress slowly.

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Happy results!  These are E Cinerea leaves–different to what I would get on fabric and very lovely. Like all bundle dyeing, part of the mystery and part of the joy is trying out what is local and seasonal. Everyone’s selection is different.  My garden is heavy on calendula and marigold right now and I had some lovely little geranium flowers and all sorts of local leaves to try too.

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I decided to use my flanellette string for bundles despite it being unnaturally dyed.  I loved seeing some of my retreat companions loving their bundles enough to use handmade string to tie them.  And my much re-used string collection is getting to the end of its tether.

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I used all kinds of fabrics–raw silk from a recycled garment, calico, linen offcuts, and a little piece of silky merino given to me by a retreat companion (should she be reading, thankyou again!)

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The silky merino gives such vibrant colours, but actually the linen was a bit of a standout too.

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Meanwhile, the string making continues.  I have decided to try using this process of making string as a point of reflection on my obligations under Indigenous law–and of so many principles of earth care that might come under that set of principles.  The importance of things that will biodegrade and that will not last forever, the way plastic will.  The intertwining of all life.  The cycles by which nature does its magic.  Our dependence on plants and water.  the way things and beings come into closer relationship with one another.  I keep sharing the string–as people admire or ask about it, I have a little stash right here by my hand and I can give them some.  Sharing is a primary principle too.

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I have in mind something like what Grackle and Sun might call atheist prayer.  But different, of course.  Do read her post and be inspired.  I love her idea of chantstrands, but my experiments along those lines didn’t work for me the way taking a few wet leaves out to a tree to twist together into string and considering things has so far.  So I have taken inspiration from her and begun to make cordage from it…

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A few people have been asking about how to make string.  I have put a link to an online tutorial in the How To tab at the top of the blog, but you could learn from a basket weaver (as I did) or from any basic basketry text.  Or put yourself near India Flint, who shares string making everywhere she goes, as far as I can tell (having learned how from Nalda Searles).  Or go to YouTube and be among survivalists who do something similar!  Meanwhile, the garden is growing as rain begins to fall.

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The first poppy of the season is out and beyond lovely.

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And I had a new insight about this especially beautiful saltbush which I have so far not managed to propagate.  It has taken a lot of observations to figure out when I might be able to collect seed, but one day at work recently I pulled out a seed envelope I happened to have with me (as you do) and amused bystanders by rubbing the ends of these silvery stems gently into it.  Who knows what might come of that?  I have high hopes…


Filed under Dye Plants, Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures


We had a gift of limes from a friend…

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And a gift of many mandarins from my parents…

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And in the time honoured tradition there never seemed to be time to turn them into marmalade.  So one night after work I chopped.  Soaking followed.  Then two nights later, we did the cooking part.

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The lime looked especially good!

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And in the end… they were both pretty lovely.

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It is definitely the time of year for it!

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Filed under Neighbourhood pleasures

Seasonal happenings: Autumn

The weather is turning toward autumn. Leaves harvested last season are being converted into new forms. This linen collar came apart with some effort.

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Here it is in the process of becoming a project bag. Along with prunus prints…

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And maple prints from leaves I found over someone else’s fence!

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I’ve been making the best of the remaining sunny days, making soy milk mordant.

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This is a task best done when it is neither too hot nor too cold.  Too hot can leave your soy milk smelling nasty!

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The making doesn’t take warm weather, but multiple dips and dryings are greatly helped by sunshine.

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My friends held a big passata making day.  Many tomatoes pulped, skins and seeds removed.

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Many beer bottles repurposed.  By the end of the day, they were gone and all kinds of jars and bottles were pressed into use.

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And then, for the long, slow heating.

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Ruby saltbush is still fruiting.

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Several colours of leaves and of fruit.

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I have been taking advantage of the season to collect for next spring’s planting.

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I even managed to collect some more bladder saltbush seeds. Autumn is a lovely season!

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Filed under Fibre preparation, Leaf prints, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

Knitting achievement

There has been some long awaited knitting achievement in this household recently. My skills with a camera don’t show it off to best effect, but this photo gives the best sense of the colours involved.

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This is Color Affection by Veera Valimaki, for those who don’t inhabit Ravelry… this pattern has been knit a lot of times!  When I took it to the local knitting group, its name was called aloud by each new person arriving, and it was also recognised at the Guild last night.  It is a simultaneously very clever pattern and straightforward to knit.  When I was sick, I spent hours garter stitching back and forth with a stop to think things over only at the end of each (ever lengthening) row.

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Years ago, beloved friends in Denmark gave me four skeins of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn–the other one is yellow.  They were so beautiful.  Apparently the wool is handspun, (by a very skilled spinner), and perhaps naturally dyed, my friends didn’t know. It isn’t soft, in fact it is a little on the coarse side, certainly not for next to the skin.  I have admired these skeins very much over the years I have had them, waiting for my skills and confidence to be up to putting them to good use.

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I think my friends had in mind a cardigan of the style very much in favour in Denmark–and very beautiful–colourwork with a steeked front and pewter clasps.  I still couldn’t do it now, though I was touched by their confidence in my knitting skill!  When I received this gift the thought of knitting something so large with such fine yarn, in colourwork, without a pattern and with no certainty I had enough wool… I was profoundly intimidated at the prospect!  Anyway, finally one day it came to me–and over a year later, here is the shawl.  I’m delighted with it.  Perhaps I’ll knit another!

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In the garden, we are bracing for the scorching heat to come.  Australian summers are long and very hot in this part of the country, and likely to become more so as inaction on climate change continues, especially in our beloved continent.  However, right now there is a lot of flowering, seeding and harvest going on.  It’s the blessed moment before you start to wonder if anything will make it through summer!  The rhubarb is massive and I decided it needed fewer leaves to get through tomorrow’s predicted 37C heat.  Perhaps I need more rhubarb in my diet, too.  That could only be wonderful!  The beetroot are in the oven roasting for a salad with a yoghurt dressing.I suspect the carrots will be bitter, but they will find a place on the menu too.

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The poppies go on and on.  It’s wonderful to be out in the garden before breakfast (I put more seeds in this morning) and hear the bees busy in the flowers.  This poppy was the most exciting to the bees this morning…


Filed under Knitting, Neighbourhood pleasures