Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My creative space

Mini undies! WIth Miro out of nappies I got busy last week making him baby underwear. Near impossible to find any undies his size in shops, whether second hand or new, and anyway it's much more fun if I make them myself of course.

The crotch has a double layer of fabric that goes quite a way up on the bum, which should help absorb just a little moisture when accidents happen (because they do). The waist holds without elastic and fits comfortably around Miro's waist. As you can tell by the photos, mummy's milk is doing wonders.

So I used the one and only pair I ever found to be a good size for a 6 month old and  drew a pattern out of it. Then I went through my stash of tee shirts and chopped, pinned and serged.

I'm happy with the result although too much blue to my taste but that's all I had left of my organic fair trade tee shirts (donated by KowTow a couple of years ago). I love the versatility of tee shirts, and they always look cool no matter what. So this is my first lot, I might eventually get round to making some more, maybe even list some in the shop, you never know!

More creative spaces here!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book review: American Farmstead Cheese

I have been reading lots in the past few months, and also bought quite a few books. New books. This hasn't happened in a while, us being on a tight budget and all. For the past couple of years, I've just been keeping a list of "most wanted" books for when such a time came that I could afford to buy them. If I hadn't found them second hand first.
This has been all very exciting and I have to say so far I have very satisfied with my purchases. Maybe it was worth waiting just to make sure I really needed them, not just wanted them.
Anyway, I thought I'd write a review of the books I have found the most "enlightening", share my excitement and maybe inspire a few...!

I have recently been bitten by the cheese bug. No wait, that happened when I was young, I have always LOVED cheese, I guess being french and all I just couldn't avoid it. Recently though I have been exploring the joys and frustrations of making my own cheese, as illustrated by previous posts here and here.
And it's become an addiction. Every week I look forward to getting our raw milk and making cheese. I never seem to have enough milk for my projects. At the moment, I just want to try making them all, although I have decided to focus on "fresh" cheeses first, meaning those that do not need to be aged. Do I've been making feta, halloumi, ricotta, paneer, mozzarella. Our fridge has a whole shelf dedicated to dairy. So far I have been following recipes, but I didn't feel like I understood the whole process very well.

Until I read this book: "American Farmstead Cheese: The Complete Guide to Making and Selling Artisan Cheese". If you want to find out how milk turns into cheese, read this book. If you are toying with the idea of making and selling cheese, buy this book. It has all I wanted to know and more. At first I thought that being an american book mainly aimed at american farmstead cheese makers I might be disappointed or find most of the information didn't apply to my case. I was wrong.
It is well written, and the chapters each cover one specific topic. It is aimed to people who are in or want to get into the cheese business.
The first couple of chapters offer a brief history of cheese in Europe and the United States, where the authors are based (in Vermont more precisely). It was so fascinating I wish I could read more about it.
The next few chapters get quite technical and talk about the chemistry and the process through which milk is turned into cheese. Luckily I studied science at school, so I didn't feel completely lost. In saying that, the process is pretty basic and very well explained and easy to understand. I do feel like I'll be referring to these chapters again and again in my cheese making adventures. Now that I understand better what goes on and how things work, this gives me the confidence that if something goes wrong I can work out where it went wrong and how to remedy to it next time I make the same cheese. I am also hoping eventually I will be able to experiment and maybe come up with my own recipes.
I realized after I'd read these few chapters that cheese making is an art but also a very scientific process. To make good (and safe) cheese, you really need to know what you're doing and follow basic simple steps.
The next few chapters cover the issue of pasteurization and getting organized to sell cheese. I found the chapter on pasteurization very helpful, well written and researched, instead of telling people they should pasteurize without explaining why this section weighs the pros and cons and also looks at particular cheeses.

All in all, a great book. There are no recipes though, which I found a bit disappointing at first (I had to buy a book specifically for that), but it makes sense not to include any seeing the purpose of this book is to learn about the craft first.

Hearts collective

I'm on new webstore called Hearts Collective. It's similar to Etsy and our local one Felt, except that it focuses on eco friendliness as well.
I mainly operate from my Etsy shop, since for some reason I have never been successful with Felt and I find Etsy more user friendly. Listing an item on Etsy can be done in a matter of very few minutes nowadays, all in one page, which makes it so much easier and nicer.
Since I have been sloooowly putting out new creations I thought this might be the chance to give Hearts Collective a go and create a new shop there.
So far I have listed two items, there will be more coming soon, it's just a matter of (a lot of) time!
These two new items are made to order only, as I have very little of each fabric and would rather make them to a specific size rather than have them sitting in the shop. I am in love with both of them, I kept the pants pictured for Miro but the top was made for a friend's baby. I might have to make one for Miro as well, he just looks so gorgeous in it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Time away in real life

Two weeks without blogging!
We went away to our little community for a week, we had  a great time and Tahi was particularly pleased to be bottle feeding the spring lambs.

And then Josh and Tahi went off to Wellington, Josh had been hired as a photographer and took the computer with him...
It was a great few days though, I managed to clean the whole house (apart from Josh's "office"/ mess room), and it finally looked like a normal house (not like we'd just moved in). I write this in the past tense because the boys got back yesterday and the house is back where it was *sigh*

I did also get to spend some productive time in the garden, which is very satisfying and even get some sewing done. And I feel rested. Almost.
It's good to have all three boys around though!