Saturday, 15 November 2014

Turning the Naked Chef into the Lactose and Gluten Free Paleo Chef

I've always loved the challenge of cooking for various diets and food allergies without anyone needing a "Special" meal. So for our upcoming family reunion I have challenged myself to make a dish that everyone can eat, to the best of my knowledge...

I don't think taste and satisfaction should be sacrificed for dietary requirements, so I'm starting with Jamie Oliver recipes. As he uses whole foods and fresh quality ingredients, he's usually almost Paleo anyway. It just requires some tweaking.

So we start with a favourite that we've been making as per Jamies recipe and taking to paleo events for a while now, the Granny Smith Pork & Rice Salad. It's already lactose and gluten free so we just need to replace the rice and honey (dressing) to make it Paleo!! Easy! So we now have the Granny Smith Pork & Quinoa Salad - dressed with a Maple syrup dressing. Pictures to follow.

  • chopped sea salt and ground peppa
  • 750g free-range pork belly
  • olive oil
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 granny smith apples - cored and chopped
  • 1 handful of shelled walnuts (roughly 50g)
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup (or honey, rice malt, palm sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 orange
  • 300g quinoa (or basmati/wild rice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • a large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley - finely 
  • Jamie Olivers Granny Smith's Pork & Rice Salad
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200c. 
Fill a large saucepan with salted water and an ovenproof frying pan put both on a high heat. Slice the pork into 1.5cm chunks. Put a splash of olive oil into the frying pan followed by the pork, bay and rosemary. Season well. Fry and stir frequently for 25 minutes or until the pork is golden and crispy. At this point remove the bay and rosemary and pour away the fat (keep for baking potatoes or something).
Quarter the apples, then remove and discard the cores. Cut the apples into rough chunks about the same size as the pork and add to the frying pan with a splash of olive oil, the walnuts, maple syrup (honey), thyme leaves and the juice squeezed from the orange. Stir well and place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture turns dark.
Meanwhile cook the quinoa in the boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and allow to steam dry. Add the oven ingredients to the quinoa and add a couple of tablespoons of cider vineger to the oven pan and de-glaze the pan. Add this to the quinoa and meat mixture. Add the parsley and spring onions and toss together well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Jamie Olivers Chestnut Pumpkin Soup

Ok so this next one I haven't tried yet but it looks straight forward enough.

So the only ingredients not usable in this one is the bread and perhaps the rice/pearl barley. The bread could be either left our or replaced with paleo bread, and the rice could be replaced quite successfully I think with cauliflower rice. If you need a little more starch add arrowroot powder or root vegetables such as parsnips.
I also am thinking of taking along some boiled eggs, chia puddings (we love these right now mixed with fresh blueberries), and some fruit. 

So that's my plan, sorry for the lack of actual results, but I was keen to share! 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Healthier Lollies

Lexi is having a birthday soon, well in a few months and I've been wanting to make some lollies without processed sugar for the kiddies. 

I did the usual research, which these days means Pinterest and little else... and come up with a plan! I had thought to use Vegan gelatin but after some reading decided real gelatin might not be that bad for us. 

I decided on making some strawberry and cream Gummies that I found here, but with about half the gelatin and using Palm sugar and Rice bran syrup instead of honey and maple syrup. Next time I think I'll water them down a bit and perhaps use less vanilla, Hubby suggest mashing the strawberries instead of blending to give a chunkier texture - I'll think about it... The blender does actually do the mixing for you so you would need to mix the gelatin in water before adding it to the fruit.

Considering how much natural sweetener these have in them they are still not as sweet as store bought lollies and so it makes me wonder how much processed sugar is really in those sweets and why would let our kids down them by the bowl full?!

Verdict? The toddler liked them but asked for a banana instead of more. *Shrug* who can compete with the awesomeness of bananas?! The adults really liked them and are planning the next batch already!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Summer cover up part two

I was just going to add the pictures of my second cover-up at the end of the previous post but felt it deserved its own post...

 I bought this scarf new, it was in the same shop I buy my crochet cotton and I could choose the cotton with the scarf in hand, so win win really. The butterflies really were just too gorgeous to leave behind anyway!

I've gone with the mulitcolour cotton, 
which I love but does not
 always look great in stand alone crocheting. 
I am really happy with it here as it blended 
in with the pattern and gave a softer look.

I made a couple of crochet butterflies, which I had been meaning to do for Lexi so it was good practise.

 I've hand sewn it as the material is just a but 
too thin for my poor sewing skills.
The bottom picture in the montage on the right is the side seam, I've crocheted a row of questionable looking butterflies.
I did try to have Lexi take the photos but all the photos are of my legs or the roof, the camera 
was just a bit too heavy for her.

Well I was going to make a couple more but I'm thinking I've fixed my desire to make a cover up for the time being and I should really finish some of my other projects...

I want to share one of my inspirations for the cover-ups so if anyone wants to buy one for themselves they can buy one from Fairtale. This is my friend Fiona's shop and she also frequents to Bondi Markets if you want to try them on. 

What I'm Pinning

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Summer is coming!!

I've wanted to do a beach cover-up for a while, so here goes..!

I bought the scarf at an Op shop as I always see them and feel they need to be loved again and given a second lease on life! Next time I would find one that was a bit heavier, or courser, but it was very pretty and it did work, it was just a bit harder to work with then necessary. I would recommend spending a bit more on this important piece of your cover up whether it be some fair trade, eco friendly material or a quality vintage scarf, you will be glad you did.

I thought some crochet edging would go really well with it and so I made some... just between you and me, it might'v e been the main reason for this project.

Its a very basic shell pattern as I wanted to be able to whip it up without worrying about learning a new pattern and making mistakes.

It's also the thickest cotton you can buy as I've never used the super thin cotton.

Pretty happy with the result, I think it could've been lighter and more delicate to match the material but really it still worked. Don't stress the small stuff.

So the next day I went about putting it together, I cut a T in the centre of the scarf, and with the help of my 2 year old, hemmed the edges. I then sewed some edging around the shoulders and front with a chain tie on each side... um like this.. I used a small zigzag stitch. It seemed right.

It's pretty basic but that's what I was after.

I then put it on to measure the where the sides go where said 2 year announced "Mummy very Pretty!"

Sew then up and ta-da

And for my second attempt...


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Berets, berets and more berets!!

I decided to make a beret for someone as a present - see ealier post "crochet-christmas-gifts-for-everyone" - and so to practise, I made my 2 year old one. It turned out so well I've made three of her cousins berets too! 

Using 8ply yarn and a 4.5mm hook, I made on starting with a magic circle - do a Pinterest search on "Magic circle" if you have no idea what I'm talking about, this is how I figured it out and it is great for hats - I did 10 trebles (or double crochets if your are American) into the magic circle and then joined. 

I then did a pattern of 1 treble, 1 chain, changing colours as desired.

Peak of hat

Row 1: 10 trebles, join with a slip stitch
Row 2: 2 chains as first treble, 1 chain, 1 treble all into first stitch, 1 chain, 1 treble into 2nd stitch, (1 treble, 1 chain, 1 treble, 1 chain into next stitch, 1 treble, 1 chain into next stitch) repeat to end, join.
Row 3: 2 chains as first treble, 1 chain, 1 treble all into first gap, 1 chain, 1 treble into next 2 gaps, (1 treble, 1 gap, 1 treble, 1 chain into next gap, 1 treble, 1 chain into next 2 gaps) repeat to end, join.
- Continue to increase the circle until it is twice the size of the wearers hand (I traced my little ones hand so I could do this while she slept)

Depth of hat

Then do 1 treble, 1 chain into every gap until end, join.
- continue until this section is the length of the wearers hand.

Band of hat

Row 1: Double crochet (single crochet) into every gap, join,
- continue to double crochet into every stitch until you have the desired width band.

and ta-da! you are done!!

Then all you need to do is accessories and go show it off!

All the above are made with acrylic for the kids, it washes so well and doesn't itch them.

For instructions on how to make the dress (kind of) go to

The below is made from pure wool, it's a bit stiffer and will take a lot more care when washing. I much prefer single colours for adults too.

I'm taking orders for berets, please contact me if you would like one!

Happy crocheting!!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Healthy-ish chocolate Fudge stuff!

It's my own fault, but Lexi loooves chocolate!! So here is a healthier way to eat chocolate. It's also dairy and gluten free if you need and you can hide all sorts of other healthy foods in it if you are worried your kids are not getting enough of certain vitamin etc.

Recipe is courtesy of my good friend Heidi who makes the yummiest kids food.

(Heidi's Blog to come)

Add whatever you like eg walnuts, green barley/spiriting powder, acai berry powder etc etc

Stir. Transfer to a lined tin. Freeze for an hourish. Cut up and enjoy. Keep in fridge or freezer as melts easily, especially in summer!!! 

And don't worry, it's toddler approved!


Sunday, 17 August 2014

A dropped stitch in the 'Loo - results

I just wanted to share some our results with you as well as give you a few options for dropping off your beanies and other useful knitted and crocheted donations.

We had a lovely day, although there were only a few of us, there were 2 cakes, a bottle of bubbly and lots of yarn, so I call it a success!!

Crochet Beanies
above are some of the beanies that have been made, two by myself and one by Lyn from our playgroup who could not make it on the day but made this contribution, which is especially welcomed as she has recently along with a couple of other Stitchers made 40 hats for some children in Uganda. My Mum also started one which she is finishing off at home - knitting is much slower we have decided.

I did also manage to start teaching the lovely Leslie to crochet and she started this green beanie. It has taught me a lot about myself as a teacher - I'm very hands on - as well as teaching crocheting specifically. After some discussion with Lyn (from playgroup) she discovered the above green and blue pattern where I can teach crocheting in a straight line before needing to teach anything fancy, like increasing and decreasing.

Lyn also donated a couple of balls of 12ply yarn for me to do another couple of beanies, which was really appreciated - pictured left.

A good day all round and I am really looking forward to our next one. That may have to wait until next winter, but I shall happily keep making beanies while I can - it becomes more difficult as the weather becomes warmer and the yarn sticks to ones fingers.

Where to drop your beanies

We will be dropping our beanies to the Matthew Talbot Centre in Woolloomooloo, Sydney

The Vinnies page has a list of all many organisations that assist people who are homeless.

A really great organisation if you are not near Sydney is Knit One Give One, knitted and crocheted donations can be dropped in any Lincraft store or there is a list of drop off points on their website.

Knit 4 Charity is an online group of knitters and crocheters who give to those in need
modelling a too big beanie

There are lots more groups who can help you donate your beanies, as well and many groups that you can join all over Australia who like to sit around together whilst making the clothing, please use Google to find one near you ;)

Well Thank you everyone for knitting, crocheting or giving moral support.

xx Vicki 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Free knitting and crochet patterns

Daisy Blanket

I really wanted to make my crochet and knitting patterns available at low prices for people, but now I see why the pattern prices start so high. 

It costs 20c per listing plus 3.5% of total sale to list an item on Etsy. It also costs 30c per transaction and 2.9% of the transaction amount if your customer pays by PayPal. There is also a similar fee if the customer pays directly. So before you even start you need to charge at least 55c and that will only pay the fees. I was hoping to list all my patterns for less than $1 and had listed some at first for less than I was paying in fees and share the love - and my time and effort - without much cost and definitely without fattening the profits Etsy and Paypal unnecessarily. 

So here are some of the patterns that everyone can have, without fattening the wallets of anyone. Just right lick on the image and "Save As"

Enjoy and keep an eye out for more

Ruffled Baby Blanket
Cable Knit Vest

Irish Lace Afghan

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Crochet Christmas Gifts for Everyone!!

I want to make a slouchy hat for my brother in law for Christmas - yes all my extended family are getting crocheted goods this year... - and this one seems quite simple, if I'm going to make a beanie for a guy I think it should be simple. I don't think he needs the diamond brooch
"Made on Main: Spin-A-Yarn | Crochet Beanie Tutorial"

I'm thinking of making string baskets for others... 
A string basket in the making, I'm keeping this one for my yarn!
I've just made this up, just crocheted a square and then stopped increasing once it is the desired width. could do round, hexagon or anything really. 
I plan on blogging the whole process, so keep an eye out for that. 

No tutorial as it's from Etsy

and maybe some string wine bottle carriers... 

I cannot find a pattern like this for free, but I'm sure I can figure something out. I'm sure there's a wine bottle about to use as a size guide...

Cotton String is great, a bit harder to work with but a great result. It's cheap and clean.

This cover is a bit simpler, it would be easier to figure out.

Any bag would work really, and I guess cotton would stain easy and not wash well. But it would look good at first ;)  !!

Would you be happy receiving these gifts?
Any other suggestions for modern crochet gifts?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

I like trying chocolate cake recipes that are a bit different

I find myself very torn when it comes to chocolate cakes... I really love chocolate, and I really am just not fussed with cake. I do not like the texture and it seems such a waste of good chocolate... But still I persist, and occasionally I come across a rich decadent chocolate cake that, well, takes the cake!

I like trying chocolate cake recipes that are a bit different. I think I'll give this one a go this weekend as the chocolate cake I promised to make for our Stitch n Bitch - See previous post.

 Your guide to the nasty ingredients in your beauty products and Beetroot Chocolate Cake Recipe

My Mum will be up on the weekend to help facilitate the Stitch n Bitch, so keep an eye out for updates on an extended family version of chocolate cake baking.

This blog which is by one of my Mothers group friends, also includes great tips on running a chemical free household too. I am definitely going to try the vinegar as fabric softener one, especially as hubby objects so much to the purchasing of the store bought ones.

 "The odour from the vinegar disappears in the final rinse cycle and once the washing is dry.  It is non toxic and a very cost effective fabric softener."

In other news, I seem to have "google plus shared" a blog and it has resulted in a blog entry on my behalf... I likes it!! And must try it out some more, I love sharing good ideas.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Dropped Stitch in the 'Loo

Dropped Stitch in the 'Loo A dropped stitch in life's rich tapestry. Because we all drop a stitch every now and then in this tapestry called life.

We will be knitting and crocheting beanies, gloves, blankets and anything else we can think of and our efforts from our first meetup will go the homeless people around the Loo. 

"People with mental illnesses and drug problems who are also homeless deserve better than sleeping rough on our streets." Clover Moore

You do not need to know how to knit or crochet as there will be lots of help. Come along, learn a new skill or pattern, have a cup of tea or a glass of *insert favourite beverage here* and a good ol Stitch n Bitch!

Please bring along a ball of yarn or two if you can get your hands on them and knitting needles or crocheting hooks if you have them. We will bring along plenty of spares.

Needle sizes = 4 to 5mm
Crochet hook = 4 to 5mm

Vicki Saunders - Self Taught Crochet Master
Lesley Gruit - Dropped Stitch consultant/Crochet Student Demonstrator
Maureen Tuck-Lee - Knitting Extraordinaire

Project: Beanies
Where: East Sydney Hotel, cnr Crown and Cathedral Sts Woolloomooloo
When: Sunday 3rd August 2014, 2.30pm onwards
For more information contact or myself

"a City of Sydney homelessness count found about 118 people were sleeping out in the Woolloomooloo area, a rise of almost 40 per cent on last year."
Read more: approach to homelessness will take 70 most vulnerable off streets

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Yarn Bombing

This could be interesting...


Apparently I've missed International yarn Bombing day... But I think I should give this a try anyway and be ready for next June!

no scrap this, it looks pretty which is nice, but seems a bit of a waste. a friend and I have decided to start a stitch and bitch group to knit for those who are a bit down in life

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Loving the Vintage!

My Dad
Well, my Aunty has moved full time into a nursing home, its very nice and she is happy there but it's sad to see her house being sold. We spent many a memorable Christmas there, with all 30 something cousins, lots of presents, the race to find the sixpence in the pudding and the obligatory paper fight at the end where my Dad would walk around with a big garbage bag picking up the paper and pretending to be cross and not notice the big hole we had ripped in the bag...

Vintage Childrens Jumpers
We went over there on the weekend and to pick up a couple of pieces of memorabilia, only to come home with a car full of stuff that we could not bare to throw out. My Aunty is a self confessed hoarder, and there was two or three of just about anything you could imagine in her house!

But the one thing I came home and poured through and lovingly caress were the stack of old crochet and knitting patterns....

Crochet Summer Top
They are just lovely, crocheted vests and jumpers, motif and berets! Books and magazine offering to help me be fashionable and modern by crocheting outfits!! So I obviously had to share these treasures with the world of Etsy. To me they are priceless and I would never let go of the originals, but sharing them, whilst a little time consuming at first, cost me little. 

chunky knits cable
So please, go have a look, I've put up free instructions and how to's as well, cos everyone should know the joy of crochet!! 

Anywho, gotta go, I've gotta get to spotlight, I'm under instructions to buy more yarn for my Aunty, she's edging hankies :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Cushions Ban

I love cushions! but I'm not allowed to buy any more...

so I've been making my own. I've made a heart shaped cushion out of a brightly coloured stripy fabric remnant for Lexi 

and a nice rectangle one out of a lovely teal remnant, for me!

crochet and upcycled
I also turned what was going to be a crocheted blanket for Lexi that I never finished into a cushion that even hubby agreed was actually a lot nicer then the one I covered.

I've been fascinated by the idea of turning old jumpers into "knitted" cushions and have finally made two, both of which hubby liked and one he "really quite liked". I'm loving the upcycled factor as well as the shabby chic/vintage look, and now I'm thinking the plainer one could do with some crocheted flowers...

I received a "suggestion" from my Mum that I make a very Mum looking cushion with crocheted flowers on it, so guess what she got for Mothers day?! You guessed, some crocheted flowers, and a suggested layout! Lucky lady. 
Cushion topper layout suggestion

I think I'm on a winner here, I can make as many cushion covers as I like, as long as I'm covering existing cushions or giving them away! Do you think he would notice if I snuck in a few new cushion inserts..?