Friday, 30 September 2011

Fashionable Friday - Spring Styles

It's been a while since I've had a Fashionable Friday so let's see what The Weekly Times magazine section has on offer for spring...


Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Go, Go Gyoza!

I feel like I'm a day behind this week...

Something else I got up to this weekend was making my own gyoza dumplings. I have been craving these tasty little morsels weeks now and with no Japanese available locally I just couldn't wait any longer.


  • 200 g ground pork
  • Cabbage
  • Leek or spring onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sake
  • Soy sauce, salt, and pepper
  • Sesame oil
The recipe doesn't specify the exact amount of each ingredient, I just judge by eye (and taste!)

Dipping sauce

Soy sauce
Rice wine vinegar

If you're feeling particularly inspired, a recipe to make your own wrappers (and filling) can be found here . These are time-consuming as it is so I use pre-made gyoza wrappers from the supermarket.

Cut some green, outer cabbage leaves, some spring onion (or leek), ginger, and garlic in very small pieces. The amount of these ingredients should equal the amount of meat.
Put some salt on the cabbage, and let it stand for five minutes. Then press the water out of the cabbage pieces.
Mix the cabbage, spring onion (or leek), ginger, garlic, and the ground pork all together, and add some salt, pepper, soy sauce, sake, and sesame oil. Mix it all very well.

Put some of the filling onto a piece of dough. Remember the filling should make 30 gyoza pieces, roughly one teaspoon should be enough.

Now comes the fun part...
Moisten the edge of the dough with water. Moisten only a semicircle, not all the way around. Close the gyoza, folding the edge about 6 times. Let me tell you, once you've folded a couple of these little suckers you get quite good at it.

Fry the gyoza in a little bit of hot oil until the bottom is brownish, then add roughly 1/4 cup of water; the gyoza should be in the water to about half their height. Cover the pan & turn the heat to low, steaming until all water is evaporated.

To make the dipping sauce: Mix the equal amounts of soy sauce and vinegar together.

And serve immediately!!

Craving satisfied!!


**Recipe from JapanGuide

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

We Will Rebuild

Wow! Is it Wednesday already? Where has the week gone?!

This weekend we had family visiting and the weather was wonderful (yet again!) so we took a drive to the near by town of Kinglake.

If the town of Kinglake rings a bell with some international readers, it could be because it featured prominently in the media during the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. The Black Saturday bushfires were the worst in Australian history and the Kinglake fire was the largest of the many fires burning on Black Saturday, ultimately destroying over 330,000 ha (820,000 acres). It was also the most destructive, with over 1,800 houses destroyed and 159 lives lost in the region.

Two years on, the town is coming back to life with many people opting to stay in the area and rebuild their homes. While the trees still bare the scars of bushfire, they have sprouted huge, lime green afros which stick out every which way and the under-growth is thick with fern. The town is overflowing with community spirit, you can almost feel it, and appears to be well on the mend. 

This Sunday (25th) was the Kinglake Produce & Artisan Market, one of the two markets held in the town each month. The market was relatively small but had a variety of stalls; from people selling homemade preserves and sauces to a woodturner and hand spun wool. There were a couple of quirky stalls too. One woman was selling soap made to look like various types of cakes; Mdblm considered buying a yoyo to eat with his coffee until he realised they weren't in fact edible. Not to mention the biker looking dudes selling handmade Belgian chocolates. A little odd, but their chocolates were insanely good and their mint & raspberry is to die for!

Here are some pics of our day:

The poor old raddish was a slow seller.

An old-fashioned favourite...

A small selection of delightful but soapy cupcakes.

Fleece brought to you by Isabelle the Alpaca.

- Tamara

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Tribute to the Spitfire Women - Part 2

Welcome back!

In 2008, The Times Online reported that more than 20 of the 167 female pilots of the wartime Air Transport Auxiliary are still alive. All now in their 80s and 90s, at least seven of the surviving Spitfire ladies live in the United Kingdom, while five are in the United States, four in Canada, one in Chile, one in Australia, one in South Africa and one in Poland. 

You go girls!!
Inspired by these courageous women, I thought I'd like to sew something as my own personal tribute. One comment from the documentary really stuck with me: The Spitfire was a plane you wore, a real lady's plane. Using this as my guide, I searched my 40s patterns for something pretty, feminine and practical; I came up with Simplicity 4139.

This pattern appears to have been pretty popular in its day, there are a lot of them still in circulation and I've seen it on eBay regularly. I chose View 1 for its sexy deep V neckline; the long, floaty sleeves; and, more importantly, it has only one button. My god I hate buttonholes! I did however have to learn a new technique with this blouse, my very first bound buttonhole.

Said buttonhole suitably rocked, if I do say so myself.

The fabric is something I've had in my stash for years so I've no idea what it is but it falls beautifully. The only problem I found was it was a bitch to sew the gathers for the yokes because they kept slipping out as the foot went over. I actually unpicked the gathers twice before I was satisfied. Little did I realise though the redoing the front yolk gathers was for nought - they're covered by the collar! As for the colour, it's a delicate mauve which changes shade from purple to blue, depending the light which makes it the perfect partner for grey.

The other new technique I learnt while making this blouse was button cuff links. I often noticed illustrations for making these nifty little things on pattern instructions but dismissed them as ridiculous. As if twisting cotton together and anchoring it with buttons would work! Well, I shouldn't have knocked it 'til I tried it, they do work and quiet well I might add. Plus, they look really smart.

Unfortunately I don't have any pics of this blouse on just yet. My photographer has been working night shift and I had a hairdressing disaster a couple of weeks ago and would prefer there be no visual record of it.

With regard to the blouse, I'm really pleased with the results of my tribute and think it's a piece which will get a lot of wear.

Happy Friday everyone!

- Tamara

A Tribute to the Spitfire Women - Part 1

Early this year I was made aware of an incredible group of women who flew military aircraft during WWII, by way of a BBC documentary film called 'Spitfire Women'. I had no inkling these women even existed so please feel free to come back tomorrow if you already know their story.

The Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) was made up of over 1000 pilots, delivering nearly 300,000 aircraft from factory to RAF frontline bases in Britain from 1940 – 1945. Pilots had to be capable of flying a full range of aircraft - 147 different types - from Tiger Moth trainers, through frontline Spitfires and Hurricanes to heavy bombers such as the Lancaster. As expected, men made up the majority of the ranks but as the war progressed women were to play a greater role.

Pauline Gower
Pauline Gower was the first female allowed to climb into an RAF plane, let alone fly one. The daughter of a Tory MP, Gower was given her first plane at the age of 21 and using it to give joyrides at Flying Circus’ during the 1930s. As war approached, she had amassed over 2,000 hours flying time and had flown 33,000 passengers without incident, yet she was not allowed to fly in combat.
Being a well connected woman, she used her influence to persuade the male establishment that women should be allowed to boost the dwindling numbers of pilots, by ferrying planes alongside the all male Air Transport Auxiliary. Gower was appointed head of the Women’s branch and would continue to champion the cause of equality for women pilots until her death in 1947.
Diana Barnato Walker
In 1938, eighteen year old socialite Diana Barnato Walker was seeking a break from the life of a young debutante when she paid £3 for a flying lesson in a Tiger Moth biplane at the Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit. She was flying solo after only six hours’ training and three years later, she abandoned her affluent lifestyle to join the ATA.
At the end of a hard day’s work, when Diana had done her job as professionally as she could, she would speed off to London - every single night! She was known as a high spirited party girl, often out to the wee hours at the Embassy or 400 Club in London, but she would return to base on the milk train to be in the air by 9am. 
Maureen Dunlop

Despite being at the end of her shift, pilot Maureen Dunlop looked casually glamorous when she appeared on the cover of Picture Post magazine in September 1944. At the time Maureen had just landed her aircraft and found herself the attention of waiting photographers. When asked if she would mind posing, she responded: “I’m busy. I want to put this away.” And, as she brushed her hair from her face... SNAP!! The media had their pinup girl.

If you're interested in learning more about the men & women of the ATA, the Maidenhead Heritage Centre opened the first ATA Exibition & Archive in August 2011 and it houses one of the largest collections of ATA memoriblia and records in the world.
*Note: All images in this post are screengrabs from the BBC documentary 'Spitfire Women', please check copyright ownership before using.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Sunday Sun Day

What a gorgeous, sunny Sunday! Mother Nature sure is turning on her best for the beginning of Spring, I do hope it lasts. Both Mdblm & I are on the mend so we decided to make the most of the sunshine and take a drive in the country. Our destination: Kyenton.

Kyneton is roughly an hours drive from Melbourne, a stone's throw from the city really, and while it has become a 'foodie' destination, it still maintains a relaxed, country feel. A perfect place to day trip. Being Sunday all I wanted was a decent lamb roast (it's been ages!) and we found it at the Shamrock Hotel. We just scraped in for lunch but we were seated, had ordered and were fed in under 20 minutes and it was really goooood!

The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing a couple of antique stores (nothing of note) and wandering the street just enjoying the sun. There are some beautiful Art Nouveau & Deco style buildings scattered around the town, here are a couple which caught my eye...

I hope everyone had a great weekend and found some time to get away...

- Tamara

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Power of Suggestion

After seeing this stencil I had the Beatles stuck in my head for days...
Earworm anyone?!

Sorry but I just couldn't help myself, I'm feeling much better.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sick again!

Mdblm has been kind enough to share his cold and with me being an asthmatic it's now become a chest infection. Nasty! Never fear though, I visited the doctor this afternoon, got some drugs, and I'm feeling considerably better already so I should be back in no time.

Thanks for sticking with me.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

'Cause Ninjas are cool!

Look what crept into my kitchen last night...

NinjaBread Men!!
I saw these adorable little guys online a while ago and managed to get my hands on a set during our Captain America outing. How cool are they?!! I just couldn't wait to make them. While I have several recipes I could have used, I'm ashamed to admit I used a gingerbread packet mix. After my recent baking disasters (Bastille Day Baking), I decided to take the relatively fool-proof option.

Be free little ninja!

I'm not a huge fan of icing so I decided to decorate my ninjas by drawing in the features with the edge of a spoon. Unfortunately I didn't take into account the fact that they would puff up when cooked...

This one looks more like a happy dancing Cossack than a super stealthy ninja.

Despite their lack of ninja-like qualities, they were a very tasty bunch and are welcome to sneak back into my kitchen any time.

- Tamara

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Nice day for a White Wedding

Yesterday I ventured to Bendigo to see the 'The White Wedding Dress' exhibition, held at the Bendigo Art Gallery. This exhibition is billed as "the most romantic, glamorous and extravagant wedding dresses from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s superb collection" but I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed. I guess it's because there were only a couple of dresses from the 30s & 40s and not much from the 50s either, well nothing that really made me go "Wow!" anyway.

Sadly the gallery does not allow photography and despite disapproving looks from many of the older women in the room, I couldn't help myself. The low lighting was a bit of an issue, plus I had to be subtle and sneaky so as not to get caught, but here are some of the better photos I managed to snap.

The above, mid 30s silk satin dress by Charles James is a masterpiece of construction. With no centre front seam, all the bodice shaping is done by two darts running from the underside of the bust down to the top of the hip bone. There is also a triangular panel which tapers down to the tailbone, pulling the bodice flat across the waist front. It is absolutely stunning in its simplicity. And just look at the split train! It would have looked like two banners unfurling behind the bride as she walked down the aisle. This dress was one of my favourites. As was the gorgeous ruby red 40s wedding dress below. It's such a shame my camera couldn't capture the true depth of the colour.

Gwen Stefani's John Galliano designed wedding dress was so pretty with its spray painted blush, but it wasn't anywhere near as poofy as it appeared in the photos. And to be honest, I have no interest what so ever in the suit worn by the groom, Gavin Rossdale, I was there to see the dresses. One random thing I noticed about this piece: the Dior label on the inside sole of Gwen's shoes was worn and a little grotty, they looked as though she may actually have had them on her feet. Unlike the pair Dita Von Teese 'wore' for her wedding to Marilyn Manson.

is showing at the Bendigo Art Gallery until the 6th November.

- Tamara

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Spring has sprung!!

We are in the first few days of spring here in Australia and what a wonderful spring it promises to be. The sun has been shining, the magpies are feeding on the lawn and everything is bursting in to bloom. 

It's also been a really good chance for me to try out my new camera. There are lot of what I consider to be useless functions, but on the whole it's a nifty little package. I am really diggin' the super sharp focus of the lens and wanted to share some of my spring blooms to brighten the day, wherever you may be. Enjoy!

Daffodil or Narcissis

 Ornamental Pear Tree

Golden Wattle
Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention I found a four-leaf clover on my wanderings. I was walking along looking at the ground, as I tend to do, and there it was sticking up out of grass. Can you believe it? We used to spend hours as kids looking for these things and there it was, waiting for me to pass.

Lucky me!!!

- Tamara

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Last Dance Dress

It's done!!

I started sewing Butterick B5281 for a dance I was going to last October, didn't get it done in time and went with plan B. I recently picked it up again, for another dance I didn't get to (long story) and with the help of some the lovely people over at Sew Retro, it is now finished.

I'm still not hugely happy with the way the neckline sits but I was getting to the point of giving up again so decided to leave it. The things I really like about this dress are the drape of the fabric and the way the buttons balance out the neckline. The skirt is definitely 'swish' worthy too.

Happy Friday!!

- Tamara
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