Archive for January, 2011

27 January 2011

Happy Australia Day – too hot for lemon tarts?

The past few days have been incredibly hot, between 30-40 degrees. In the heat, it’s difficult maintaining the motivation to do anything but lie underneath the fan. Basically, I have been inside my house – I avoid going outside into the sun or even looking outside! I collect my mail in a mad dash from the front porch to the letterbox. It’s not that I’m some kind of mole or vampire, but that the sun seriously looks searing.

Anyway, in trying to do something productive (rather than lying on the couch all day), I made a lemon tart today:

Lemon tart

It’s actually based on the recipe from the lemon meringue tart recipe from last time but this time, I’ve just left off the meringues. I’ve been trying to find the perfect lemon tart recipe which does NOT use cream, and which isn’t too sweet. The actual lemon tart recipe I have has been too floury in the past (uses flour to make the filling set), whilst the lemon meringue tart recipe has had the problem of being 1) too sweet; 2) too liquidy.

Today, I experimented and used these amounts for the lemon curd:

  • 2 lemons (juice and rind) – instead of 3 lemons as in the recipe, because the lemons were quite large
  • 2 egg yolks – instead of 3 egg yolks, because less eggs = more healthy?
  • 1 table spoon of sugar – instead of 150 grams = more healthy?
  • 80 gram margarine
  • 45 gram cornflour – apparently this converts into 1 cup, but I used maybe 1 1/2 tbsp instead.

I just tried the result tonight and:

  • It is too sour – almost to the point of bitterness!
  • The centre is still quite soft – though not liquidy – and perhaps I should have added more cornflour/eggs to make it set

Oh well, it is a trial and error process!

I’ve also started my new square, which you can see here going very slowly. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get it done a lot faster once I start going to work and doing it on the bus/train.

In other random news, I will soon be admitted as a solicitor in the NSW Supreme Court! The ceremony is in February and I’m excited. After 5 years of a Law/Arts degree, I’ll finally have some “qualification” besides such the degree certificates. Although I won’t be practicing as a solicitor this year, it’ll be awesome to be admitted and perhaps I can practice next year.

Next Monday, I’ll be finally starting my first full-time job at the ATO for the tax man.


Admission into the Supreme Court NSW

25 January 2011

Not Getting Much Done Whilst Sick – Knitting and Baking

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post! I was sick for over a week and still have a cough now. It’s frustrating how when you’re sick, even though crafts don’t require much physical energy, I still couldn’t be bothered to do anything but lie on the couch and watch Veronica Mars and Supernatural.

Last week, I was finally well enough to try a bit of baking. I decided to have a go at making plain scones – I’ve made them in the past, but they didn’t turn out very well at all. They were rock hard and I had to saw through them with a knife to cut them in half! 😦

My favourite place to eat scones in Sydney is the Tara Tea Room in The Rocks, Sydney. Their scones are delicious, freshly baked every few hours, and huge! I usually order the $10 combination, which gives you 2 scones and a drink of your choice. It’s surprisingly filling and a great lunch option!

The scones which I made last Friday aren’t as big or impressive, but here’s a photo of them.

Homemade scones

As you can see, they don’t seem to have risen enough and are more round than cylindrical. The recipe I used was a bit too wet and we ended up using a lot of extra flour. But the great thing was – they turned out super soft! I was dreading the fact that they might turn out as rock-like as my past attempt at scones.

Beyond baking, I’ve also been doing a little bit of knitting for Wrap for Love – but admittedly, it is taking forever! Maybe I’m a really slow knitter – I’m not sure… Here is the first of many squares to come! It measures 27 cm x 27 cm.

I just finished it today, and I also started my 2nd square already, using the same wool colour.

Next week, I’m going to be starting full time work! I can’t believe it’s so soon. But I’m hoping to get a few more crafty things done before and after I start work:

  • Make puff pastry from scratch.
  • Remove the lace from my black tights – I’m using them for dance and the lace is weird.
  • Fix the picnic mat bag.
14 January 2011

Using Volunteering to Find Paid Work

I haven’t posted for several days, because I’ve been sick with what is either a chest infection (hoping) or whooping cough (hopefully not). After finally going to the doctor yesterday, I’ve been on antibiotics and recovering much faster. Although I prefer not to take antibiotics, I have to admit that this time round, they’ve really sped up the recovery.

Anyway, today I’d like to relate one of my own experiences of how volunteering can open up opportunities for paid work.

One of the amateur skills I’ve developed since high school is web design. I used to create fansites in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fandom – including a fanart site, general fansite, awards site etc. Through that, I taught myself basic HTML, then CSS, then a bit of PHP, and now can use jquery to do neat things.

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9 January 2011

Finished Beanie and Lemon Meringue Tart

With many free hours at home, I’ve been watching Lost Season 1 and 2, and knitting at the same time.

So, now my beanie has been finished really quickly (just yesterday).

It’s a bit tight for my liking and I currently can’t wear it over my ears. Hopefully it’ll stretch out a bit with use. Using Lincraft’s Big Wool was interesting. Essentially, the wool is a blend of the colours (see picture) and it varies from very thin strand to big, fluffy strands. This creates a rather “uneven” look, rather than uniform stitches. As you can see in the photo, there’s some really tightly knit parts and some more fluffy, larger stitches.

I’m proud of my beanie though – the first I’ve ever knitted.

I’ve also learnt what stocking stitch and purl mean.

On Thursday, a friend from uni came over and we baked a lemon meringue tart. This was actually my 2nd attempt at this recipe.

In the 1st attempt with another friend, we had made a few mistakes – we whipped the egg whites too early and the meringue deflated, we didn’t add the cornflour to the lemon curd fast enough and ended up with many lumps, we baked the lemon curd instead of refridgerating it, we burnt the meringue top.

In this 2nd attempt, I solved all those above problems, but still encountered others – the lemon curd was runny because it was heated by the grill, the meringue is a bit over burnt.

This recipe seems to require a 3rd attempt and I anticipate we may experiments with:

  • Refridgerating the lemon curd in the tart BEFORE adding the meringue top
  • Using a blow torch to do the meringues rather than the grill – to avoid heating the lemon curd
7 January 2011

Knitting in 2011

I decided to restart knitting this year in order to use up the bundles of wool lying around my house. I also received some Lincraft knitting books  a while ago as birthday presents and have finally got around to reading them!

As part of my 2011 resolutions, I’ve decided to finally learn how to read those knitting codes and terminology! For example, I could knit, but I never understood what purl, stocking stitch, garter stitch etc meant.

After some help from youtube and my mum, I’ve started on a beanie using Lincraft’s Big Wool.

Although the knitting book tells you to create 1  piece, then set it together to create the beanie – my mum has told me to modify the pattern to just create the beanie in one go (without sewing at the end). This is a photo of the progress so far. I’ve been doing it whilst watching Lost at home – two enjoyable activities in one!

What I’ve also resolved to do this year is to knit a wrap for Wrap with Love. I previously did this, but only knitted a few squares.

This year, my goal is to: knit an entire wrap – 28 squares of 10 by 10 inches!

I haven’t started it yet but probably after this beanie.

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6 January 2011

Selling My Books to Secondhand Bookstores

In the past, my sister has enjoyed going to book fairs, filling up envirobags with books for $5. Whilst this is a very cheap way to buy books, it has meant that our house is becoming really cluttered with books. The book shelves are overfilled and there are growing stacks and boxes on the floor of my study room.

To declutter our house of these books, I went on an investigation into selling.

Gumtree and Ebay

My family no longer uses eBay, after we had bad experiences with PayPal (let’s just say we lost hundreds of dollars through debits on auctions which we didn’t even bid on). However, in the past, I have tried to sell books on eBay and it was quite unsuccessful – the fees, book value, and specificity of the book don’t lend to auction-style selling.

I’m now doing most of my selling via Gumtree, but this requires the buyer to specifically want your book and to search for it on the site.

Secondhand Bookstores

I then decided to turn to secondhand bookstores and googled a list of the ones in Sydney. Here’s a fairly good list: I also found some secondhand bookstores just by walking around the shops and noticing.

I then contacted the bookstores asking:

  • If they buy books from the public
  • When they buy books (most have a “buyer” in store on certain days/times only)
  • What kind of books they buy (genre, age, condition)
  • How much they pay for books

Some stores provide this information on their website, but others require emailing or phone enquiries. By doing this research, I was able to find out which stores I should go to – I mainly wanted cash (not store credit) and I had to plan which store was the most convenient to go to.

Going to Sappho

On Tuesday, I took 2 books with me to try sell at Sappho in Glebe. You can read their buying books policy here:

Although Sappho is quite far for me to go to, I decided to try Sappho, because their buyer is there EVERY day between 10:30am-4:30pm and their standard buy offer is $1 per book. There is a secondhand bookstore at my local train station, but they offer 50c per book and their buyer is only in at specific and irregular times. I’m also rarely at the train station now, because I primarily take the bus into the City.

Anyway, Sappho bought both my books! Because they were recent-ish, I got $3. This isn’t much, but I was excited nonetheless. I had cleared 2 books from my house and gotten $3 in my pocket!

I plan to return to Sappho next time in the City, bringing more books with me.

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4 January 2011

Origamic Architecture

I recently became interested in origamic architecture after seeing some amazing work being sold as cards at The Rocks markets. So like most things I admire, I went online and tried to find out how to do it.

I started off with these basic exercises, then went on to some actual architecture on New Year Monday:

This is the one that I made – a kind of villa. It actually didn’t take much time to do! I was watching Friends with SM and the time flew by.

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3 January 2011

Fabric Book Jacket

Another post from December 2008. My group of highschool friends were having a Secret Santa and I’d bought a book from Japan for my person. I also wanted to make a Japanese-styled book cover for her. Here’s how it went:

  1. Measure your book’s width, length and (spine) height. Mine was: 11.5cm width, 1.5cm height and 19cm length.
  2. Plan a rectangle – the width will be the book’s length (19cm) and the length will be 1/2 book’s width (approx. 5.5cm) + book width (11.5cm) + book height (1.5cm) + book width (11.5cm) + 1/2 book’s width again (5.5cm) = 25.5cm TOTAL. The 1/2 book widths are for the fabric that will fold over into the inside of the book later.
  3. Add 1.5cm seam to your plan.

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