Tag Archives: Good Books

Happy Spaces v.20

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Hi friends! I have had a crazy week. That is why this post is coming to you slightly late, I apologise. Sleep was non-negotiable. My week (ya know, just a standard week in the life of Laura) has involved working almost every day, tweeting endlessly for a public figure, spending the entirety of my savings (!!!!!), designing a giant advent calendar for our Christmas Readers Evening at work, drinking lots of tea, writing this super long but cool post about my stampy tote, trying to tame the out-of-control broccolis in my garden and hey, finally its Saturday. I’m going to make pesto and quesadillas, read the above book, and try to clean my house (you might have seen a stampede of elephants making a quick exit). What are you doing? I hope its great and chaos-free (though sometimes chaos is good! Sometimes).

– I really liked this quote. So true! A little Saturday pick-me-up.

These brownies (peanut butter and jam, no less!) look totally, insanely good! Thanks Jamie! Have you checked out his latest book yet? Its a goodn’.

This Vietnamese beef salad looks yum! I actually went to Chelsea’s book launch last week. She is one sassy lady!

– Here is a list of Five Tips for Stress Free Sewing. Its a good list! Number five is definitely the best ;).

– I really like this wee (Aus) Etsy shop that has little kits for making pom poms, stamps and other things. I think they would make cute gifts.

– If you do one thing this weekend, you should watch Elise’s talk at WDS (World Domination Summit). This lady continues to amaze me. She is my biggest inspiration. It doesn’t matter if you’re a maker or not, blogger or not, woman or not. Anyone will take something away from this speech.

My life will never been ‘normal’ but hopefully it is slightly calmer next week and I can blog more consistently for ya’ll. Thanks for reading!

Make a Cute Hand-Stamped Tote

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As you know, I like to make stuff (possible understatement of the century). I like to knit (badly) and sew (not too badly). But what I really like is making stamps. I learnt how to hand-carve stamps at Handmade in June and I’ve been besotted ever since. There is something child-like about the art of stamping. I like that, by the very nature of this craft, its imperfect. Each stamp on your project will look slightly different. I love stamping!

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I decided to make a cactus stamp and stamped some cotton drill. Then I cut out two big pieces and let rip with my sewing machine one Saturday afternoon. You can make your own tote – it’s easy! A tote is one of the first things I learnt to sew. Its all straight lines and nothing too complicated. For this particular tote, I combined two favourite tutorials to make a ‘boxed’ tote, which means it has a bottom. This is super easy!PicMonkey Collage

For the stamping: If you want to  design a specific stamp, you will need to acquire some carving tools. Worth the investment. I bought these ($7.99) and they are great! Play around with the tools to see what you like. I mostly use the tool with the smallest ‘v’ shape. Push the tool into the rubber, holding it with the points up (so it looks like a v). It should feel  soft and easy to carve, like butter. If its too hard, you’re doing it wrong. Before you start, you’ll need to come up with a design and draw it onto your rubber block. I used these rubber blocks for my cactus but I wasn’t a huge fan of the stamping result. I have also used rubber erasers which work awesomely but aren’t very large. Found objects – potatoes, apples, other veg, rubber end of pencil etc – work great and you won’t need carving tools. Take time making your stamp and trying it on some practice fabric or paper.

I have been recommended the Versacraft ink which works on paper or fabric. I bought my green ink from this Etsy store, which is a bit insane because its in Greece. If anyone knows where I can by some closer to home, I’ll love you forever. I had no issues buying from this Etsy store. OK – stamp and ink – you’re ready to go! Remember its fun, play around with your stamp and don’t worry if each repeat is not perfect, that’s the beauty of it! If you like, and for a better result, mark out where you will stamp each stamp (so the rows of stamps are straight and even). I decided not to do this, because I’m lazy and don’t mind the slightly random result. Once you have stamped, wait for your fabric to dry completely. Most fabric ink needs to be heat set – this means you iron your fabric once it’s dry so that the ink won’t wash out. (If your stamp is like a cactus and only uses so much of the rubber, you can just cut off any excess rubber, for example, at the top of my stamp below. I couldn’t do this on mine because it had a wooden back so I had to carve out the whole piece of rubber. Kind of a pain!).

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For the sewing: I stamped my fabric first and then when it was finished, cut it out and sewed it up. You can of course make your tote and then go to stamp town. I used this simple tutorial to make my tote. I just cut out bigger pieces of fabric that were about 50cm square. Once I had finished that tutorial I then followed the steps in this tutorial  to make it ‘boxy’.

Ignore the rest of the tute (unless you want to make that tote!) and scroll down until you see these words…”When you’ve sewn the sides and bottom together….BOX out the bottom of the bag!” This is where you need to start reading. It sounds a bit confusing but its EASY. You’re basically going to make a triangle in each corner of your bag. Play around with your tote and you’ll figure it out. Boxing your tote only takes a few extra minutes but makes it feel a bit more finished (in my opinion) and a bit more roomy (in my opinion). Guess what? Your tote is all done! Take it for a jaunt. (You can see the bottom of the tote in the photo below).

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Some great stamping guides

Four Ways I’m Inspired by Spring

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It’s well and truly almost summer here. The days are still sporadic, wind is still tormenting my broccoli plants and rain clouds loom in the afternoons, but its 10 a.m and I think I would almost get a tan if I was outside (if I could tan, which I can’t). This, and autumn, are two times of the year when I feel most inspired about food.

– I’m inspired by my garden constantly. Yesterday we finally ate something from this springs crops. Lettuce doesn’t usually ignite my passion for cooking, but picking it from my own garden – all covered in dirt and slightly nibbled on – inspiration, unlocked! Its not too late to plant something. I’m yet to plant tomatoes. You can always grown in buckets on your sunny porch, if nothing else.

– I’ve been reading Peppermint Magazine, and this issue (spring 2014) is right up my alley. It features interviews with a whole range of different foodies. So far, I love the emphasis, on real, from-the-earth food. I was pleasantly surprised by the interview with Sarah Wilson – she wrote the ‘I Quit Sugar’ books – she writes here about sustainability and food wastage. Definitely get your hands on this issue!

– Every year, when my garden starts to belt out food, I get out Annabel Langbein’s book Eat Fresh. It’s the one cook book you should have over spring and summer. It capitalises on fresh food from the garden in stunning, simple, delicious recipes. I love it! (I can’t seem to find a link to this online unfortunately. It was published in 2007, see if your library has it, or try one of her other books).

– Tonight we are having this for dinner. I’m very inspired by all of the fresh veg available at the moment. Cheap avocados. Tomatoes have come down to $3.99kg (this will drop rapidly over the next few weeks and then my own will start producing tomatoes like crazy). And I feel like piling my plate high with different veg. I’m dreaming up some new quesadilla recipes to make the most of the good food available. If you want inspiration, head to your veggie shop and check out the new season produce!

Crafty Books!

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Working in a library has its benefits. In the weekend I picked up two crafty books. They’re great with cute, fun projects that I want to make. You might not have considered them before, because they’re children’s books. I LOVE kids books. Love them! They’re colourful and happy and there is so much to learn. (This is way up on my list of ‘pros’ for having children. It’s cool). I love the simple, unpretentious projects with clear instructions. Its great to make uncomplicated things that leave you happy and not frustrated. I especially want to make the cat-face cushion from Simple Softies and the Pony Friend from Little Things for Busy Hands. There is also a great owl, cool dinosaur and two other cat dudes in Simple Softies – awesome ideas for this cause!

This semester has come to an end for me (aside from the return of three marks) so this weekend I finally have some free time! I don’t have to do anything! Its amazing. I’m going to make stuff and read this book. How great! Rowan came home from his trip with a little box of letter stamps for me (and also tiny pastel coloured pegs). I want to stamp everything, sew one more of these and finish knitting a scarf…what have you got planned for the weekend? I hope its good. Maybe borrow one of these books and do something crafty!

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Five Favourite Biscuit Recipes

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Because sometimes you need biscuits. A whole batch. Because sometimes you need something quick and delicious. Because making your own always wins out. And because favourite recipes are always best shared.

The chocolate chip cookie (scroll down). You need a fail-proof, speedy, ever-delicious choc chip recipe in your possession. This is mine. Its a Simon Holst recipe. When I first left home I got this book for Christmas and I thought it was boring (sorry mum). Boring! I was wrong. This book has played a pivotal role in my learning to cook. It has basic recipes that are delicious and less basic recipes that are even more delicious. And it has this choc chip recipe which I’ve now made hundreds of times. I know it by heart.

The peanut brownie. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these might be my favourite biscuits. This recipe is from the Edmonds cookbook, which everyone should own (even if its an old, battered, sticky copy like mine).

The dark chocolate and hazelnut cookie. Sometimes you need something ridiculously fancy and indulgent. If you ever need to impress the socks off someone, make these. Also, just make them if you’re feeling blue. I won’t hold it against you if you eat them all.

The chewy almond orange biscuit. These are gluten free and yummy. And I highly recommend dunking half of each bikkie in chocolate. Because life is short.

The white chocolate and cranberry oat cookie. Well, this is my recipe. But I’ll be nice and share it with you. I love baking with oats. And chocolate. You can’t go wrong.

And I just realised that all of the above include some form of chocolate. I’m  totally cool with that. I hope we can still be friends. What’s your favourite biscuit or cookie recipe?

My Week in Plates

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I have been enjoying Aaron Brunet’s enchanting recipe book, Cook with Me. There is something incredibly genuine and down to earth about the way Aaron writes and the recipe he shares. I only got this on Friday and I have already made one of the meals from it: ye old fish and chips but awesomer and with a fresh twist. The way I explained it to Row was, its like a bunch of meals that we already have in rotation yet don’t. (I’m clever, right). Meals that fit in seamlessly with the way we cook and think about food, the ingredients we use. I like picking up a recipe book and instantly knowing that I can and will make several of its recipes. (Santa, if you’re out there, ya know skiving off work and reading my blog, I have been extra good this year. Just sayin’). Also: happy blueberry hotcakes on Sunday after cranking out 800 words for an assignment due next month, chocolate and raspberry muffins whipped up late at night, learning how to poach eggs, a colossal amount of potato for home-made chips.

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