Monday, 23 February 2015

Plum Compote: A Summer Drink

As a child, I lived in a house with a flower garden at the front and some fruit trees at the back. It was not far from the sea and even closer to a river. In hot summer days, we would have some breeze due to the location and the trees, and it was such a treat to just settle with a book or a craft project in hand on the sofa on the balcony. I never thought summer was too sticky or unbearable at such a place as a child. It was one of my favourites to spend a good chunk of my free time on the balcony. I remember of reading without a break for hours and hours at a time. It was just a pure joy.

It is also a part of my sweet summer memories to have my mum's homemade compotes. The fruit that she used for the compotes was always organically grown, mostly homegrown fruit. It is the taste and the heart warming memories attached that made compotes always a favourable drink in my life. Not that I knew how to make it, well, up until a month ago.

Approximately a month ago, we had some heatwave here in Melbourne. Coincidentally, it was also the time when I was given a bagful of green plums that I did not know what to do with. They were too soft in texture for my liking and the taste was too savoury for me to handle. Since the rest of the family was not really enthusiastic about them either, I simply had a challenge in hand: somehow utilise them without wasting any.

It didn't take long for me to have the urge to try my hand at compote making. I simply searched for recipes online and then adjusted them according to my expectations and taste buds. All I used were 4 ingredients: water, plums, raw sugar and a cinnamon stick.

I don't quite enjoy sweet drinks and prefer my children to have as little exposure to added sugar in their food/drink intake as possible. Therefore, I simply reduced the amount of sugar suggested in recipes and added some cinnamon stick to it while boiling. I don't have a particular recipe to suggest but I strongly recommend you to try making it if you have not yet done so. It is easy, hassle free and a healthier option to most other summer drinks.

Homemade summer drink recipe

Recently, on the way back from an outing at a beautiful little country town, Woodend (VIC), we spotted a great organic farm, where we were lucky enough to get some totally mouth watering berries and some sugar plums. The plums were Mr. Hubby's idea and he didn't believe us when we said that we were unlikely to have much of it. He bought a generous amount just to notice soon after that he too couldn't handle it as they were more savoury than he thought they would be. Therefore, we ended up with plenty of plums to find a way not to waste. Luckily, the weather warmed up again after some coldish weeks and they too ended up turning into some much loved compote. Everyone in the family happily consumed it. No waste, much taste!

sugar plum compote drink

Easy summer drink: compote

Plum compote recipe

Sunday, 8 February 2015

From Mama to Bubba Series (3)

Pattern made from an old dress

The dress in the first picture below was originally worn by my brother's daughter, then my sister's daughter and more than a few months ago, we were given it so that my daughter could wear it too. I assume it is at least about 15 years old, if not older. It is a special piece for many of us in the family. 

However, since I was given the dress, I just could not bring myself to put it on my little one, as I've always felt a bit anxious about ruining it. So, instead, I convinced my sister to take some photos of Miss Junior in the dress for keepsake and also make another dress for her using the same pattern. When I say the same pattern, don't get me wrong, we had no pattern, up until my sister and I got together a few weeks ago and after some hours' work, frustration and endless laughter, we came up with one. 

We simply laid down the original dress on some large pieces of paper, traced lines, then put the paper pieces together just to see that it looked awkward, and did it all over again, possibly a few times! Well, lets not get too much into detail, the idea is that eventually, our pattern making worked and worked wonderfully!

A special girls dress

We upcycled an unused and unwanted shirt for the top and used a new leftover fabric for the skirt. My little one was not quite enthusiastic about the dress most likely because of its colour, until, she got to choose the applique. We showed her some options but as soon as she saw the blue and yellow flower with a smiley face, she knew exactly what she wanted. She is often pretty decisive like this and I love it about her, well, most of the time. 

A twirly dress for a girlDIY dress

I am truly in love with the dress at this stage. It suits Miss Junior's personality and body type so well. She loves dancing in it and cannot stop watching her twirling skirt in the mirror as she turns around.

Handmade dress

We altered the original pattern a little and made the skirt a bit longer by adding an inch to each skirt piece to suit her better, used a ribbon at the back instead of fabric, used three buttons only and sewed up the rest of the dress until the last skirt piece and used an iron on applique on top as opposed to using pockets. Thanks to this project, I tried my hand at making a buttonhole on my sewing machine for the first time too and it was not as scary as I thought it was.

Handmade dress for a preschooler

If you would like to see my previous 'From Mama to Bubba Series' posts, click here for No 1 and here for No 2.