Making home made pasta: 101

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I’ve been an avid MasterChef fan of late; which seems rather ironic to my family since I am not the best in the art of cuisine.

I enjoy food however lead a fairly chaotic life that I rarely have time to plan a meal any more complex then meat and three veg.  However, I was inspired! After watching a relatively delicious cooking episode that involved home made egg pasta….I wanted to give it a go.  It looked pretty fail safe.  A bit of flour, some eggs, a bit of kneading…voilà….pasta.  Yeah…not so much.

It was a tough day, full of excitement, uphill battles, disappointments and then excitement again.  It also taught me a lot.  In light of my new love for cooking, I thought I’d share what I have learned during my first attempt at making pasta.

  1. Do not undertake an ‘arms’ session at the gym a day prior to making pasta.  KNEADING was the word of the day.  I kneaded that dough like my life depended on it.  Thank goodness my little arms were not sore from the gym or over-exhausted because there was no way I would have survived the 1 hour session of kneading.
  2. Be well rested and prepared. You will need to be well rested and relatively functioning to undertake the making of the home made pasta.  In my personal opinion, this would not be a dish you would try and make after a big night out.  Kneading and pasta making is not for the hungover.
  3. Choose the right pasta recipe for you.  I noticed there were several home made pasta recipe variations. Some with whole eggs, some with egg yolk only, some with 5 eggs and some with 10.  Know what ingredients you need and most importantly know what pasta you need to make.  This brings me to point 4.
  4. Plan.  Have an idea of what pasta you want to make.  As in…spaghetti, pap deli, ravioli, rigatoni, lasagne, fettuccine, pene and the list goes on.  It’s best to know I found, because this could also determine the best pasta recipe for you. And knowing what pasta you want to make can also influence your other ingredients.
  5. Be patient.  Pasta is definitely not a quick-fix meal.  After your kneading of the pasta dough comes the waiting and sitting of the pasta dough.  Some recipes call for 2-3 hours in the fridge for optimum pasta goodness.  I was relatively prepared for waiting however could only stretch it out to 1.5 hours; anything less and your pasts efforts would be thwarted. So be prepared to wait.
  6. Know your equipment. I knew the use of the trusty pasta maker machine would be a challenge for me, and I wasn’t wrong.  However, after attentive coaching from my sister, I was well under way to rolling and stretching the best pasta out there. Again, this required the utmost time and patient and….point number 7.
  7. Be persistent.  You will fail! Rolling out pasta is not easy.  So I learned.  It takes a couple (20+) goes of rolling out the perfect sheet of pasta and I want to emphasis point 1, 2, and 5 again.  Because cranking that little rolling arm on the pasta maker is not as easy as it looks.  You will get tired.  You will want to give up…but don’t…your perfect pasta awaits you.
  8. Innovate.  As a first time pasta maker, I wasn’t as entirely prepared as I thought I was.  You will need to hang your freshly pressed, stretched and cut pasta to dry.  We did not have the suitable equipment to do this…until we became inventive and used our old clothes horse as a pasta hanger.  I had a slight panic attack around the germ factor (germaphobe here) however I just figured all the germs would be killed in the cooking process.  All was well!
  9. Share.  After all that hard work I can understand how you may want to devour all your pasta to yourself after all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just put into it (:/) however…don’t be g reedy and share your efforts.  Let others know how awesome you are at making home made pasta and allow them to try your wonderful creation.  Sharing is caring.

And that wraps up my top tips for making a good pasta dough.  I’d love to hear if anyone else struggled as much as me or am I just special like that :)

 

 

Try everything…twice!

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We always here the age old advice of, “Try everything once!” While I have always agreed with this, I’ve learned that sometimes, you need to try everything twice…at a minimum. 

Of late, I have become an avid boater and fisherman.  Who would have thought right? If you would have asked me my thoughts on the matter 1 year ago or even 5 years ago, I would have said something like this, “Who would want to go fishing…sitting and waiting for hours, getting attacked by mosquitoes and after 4 hours, coming up empty handed.”

However, this was my opinion after my first experience fishing.  It went something like this….I was taken to a local creek, during peak summer season. It was stinking hot. I had limited supplies (fishing and snack wise).  I had no insect repellent and was left to my own devices.  Of course I didn’t enjoy it.  But recently, I was taken on a mini boat trip around our local waterways and was shown the ropes of how to fish.  My fellow fisherman, took the time to teach me how to correctly hook bait, cast out and lure in a fish.  A lo and behold…I caught my first fish.  And it was a beauty. And I was addicted!  Now, I try to go fishing every weekend I can.  Not too mention, I am out in the beautiful sun and surf, enjoying what my home town has to offer.

And it got me thinking…if I hadn’t tried this activity twice, I would never have discovered just how much fun fishing and boating could actually be.  The circumstances were completely different to the first.  My fisherman buddy helped me out; and the location was the big open sea (well not too big as I also get sea sick).  And this was also another reason that held me back for so long.

I had one bad experience where I went on a whale watching tour and wasn’t prepared for the big open waves. On that day, I spent most of the 4 hour tour holed up in the toilet or on the stern (back) of the boat throwing up.  Another example where my first experience potentially tainted my future experiences.  From then on, I was convinced that if I step foot on water (in the boating sense) I would surely end up violently sea sick and nauseous.  Not the case.  Well…yes, if I go to open water again.  However, not if I stay on the shallow shores of the broadwater :)

So my point is, try everything at least twice.  If the first time didn’t work, try it at a different angle.  Look at what it was that didn’t work for you and change it up.

I can’t believe I have missed out all these years on something so exciting and enjoyable!! Open your mind and options…because you’ll never know what you could be missing out on :)

Ahoy….

 

What is the protocol on returning presents?

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So, this might be a touchy subject for some people however I feel it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. An acquaintance recently mentioned to me how they bought a friend a going away present for a recent bon voyage party however, not more than 3 short weeks later, that said person was in fact returning to their old faithful destination.  Things just didn’t work out. Too cold or something?

My acquaintance was really cranky about the whole situation because they had invested quite a bit of money in the going away gift and purchased a GPS device for the leaving person to navigate with in their new home town; quite a thoughtful gift I thought. And then it got me thinking; I too had a similar situation happen to me a while back.  Apparently, this was quite a common occurrence.  So it got me wondering…should people return gifts given for celebratory events?

In my situation,  I attended the engagement party for a friend of mine.  I purchased a really nice tea set.  It was limited edition. It took me hours to pick out the set that I thought would be perfect for the couple.  2 months later the couple ended their 4 year relationship and expected nuptials.

I was devastated for my friend and organised to visit her to lend a crying shoulder if needed.  A crying shoulder was not needed.  In fact, my friend was so elated when I saw her that I assumed she must have been on really good anti-depressants and wanted to know which ones? But in all seriousness, she was completely different from the girl I spoke with months ago who was eagerly anticipating her engagement  to long time boyfriend.  This girl was so relieved it was over and organising an overseas holiday?!

I was a little confused to say the least? Then I too become frustrated.  After getting over the shock and concern for my friend…being that I was probably the most concerned and shocked party out of the both of us….a niggling little question started to surface within my mind.  What was happening with all the gifts? All the well wishes and gifts friends and family just bestowed upon the couple….what was happening to them?  More importantly, where was my limited edition tea set?

If the couple decided to part ways and separate assets and belongings, I couldn’t imagine the bf putting his hand up for the tea set.  So did she have it? And if she did…I couldn’t see what use a limited edition tea set would be to my friend who would be gallivanting around the world? Can you? And surely…if it was only several short months since the engagement, wouldn’t sending gifts back to the gift givers be the right thing to do?

What is the protocol on keeping gifts once received for celebratory events that fail to come realisation? All those photo frames….that will no longer house the images of the happy couple? What about those? Or the mountain of vases to nestle the flowers my friend would have received from her loved one…and those? Or the plethora of crockery and tea sets that were given to them to eat their meals with and sip on tea in the twilight together…huh??? What about the tea set??

So I am again brought back to my initial question, should gifts be returned in the above examples? I think yes.  I understand perhaps that it would be impossible to return every gift.  For example, perhaps money would be challenging to return, especially if any ‘wishing well’ funds were used to pay off the event in question? Or perhaps, gift vouchers or even entertainment vouchers as such.  But what about physical, tangible products?

Think of the gifts!!!!! Really, after hearing about the bon voyage incident and then reminiscing about my similar situation, it just got me thinking how the meaning of these events have become lost and clouded in a bunch of red tape and gift registries.  I have always seen these occasions as an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family, remember the good times and bless the upcoming ones.  The gifts…they just took over the limelight and have now devalued these precious moments I believe.

 

I had a date with lace doilies and leather….

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Instagram is a lovely thing…it allows us to stalk…I mean view other people we don’t even know and have a glimpse into their world. :)  Even better, it also allows us to find great little niche businesses and people who have some great talent to share. Over the weekend, I found the insta account of Amy Lawrence.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing about Amy Lawrence she makes, “intriguing knitted neck wear”.  It really is something you have to see to appreciate.

For me, I love knits.  I own about 1 million knitted jumpers and cardigans because I just can’t get enough of them.  So to stumble across Amy who creates wonderful knitted accessories…is happiness!

The inspo!
Image courtesy of instagram / @amylawrencedesigns

 

Part of her other range that also caught my eye is her BITZA range.  Basically these are up cycled lace and crochet doilies that have been reworked into cute creations of lace, leather, cotton and ribbon.  Again, something you have to see to believe. I was so taken away with these designs…that I was inspired to make my own.  Let me tell you, it was a fiddly task that required the utmost patience and perseverance…however I managed to stick it out and make 2.5 lace pieces for myself.

I am glad I found Amy’s page as it reignited my love for crafts and beautiful textiles. So much so that I visited my beautiful mother’s sewing studio and raided her secret stash of silk ribbons, lace and other goodies to restart my collection.  Thanks mum!!

The weekend was spent toiling away and creating the below pieces that I am quietly proud of.  Of course, it pails in comparison to the wonders of Amy Lawrence designs however for a novice…I think this DIY project turned out okay.

 

 

Images courtesy of: amylawrencedesigns.co.uk & instagram

 

 

 

Things I miss….ground breaking stuff!

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I came across a youtube video about Mario Bros the other day and it brought back memories and a twang of nostalgia. It made me wonder what other little things I miss in my life and came up with a short list. I like to reminisce from time to time, however I find it pointless doing so unless it brings about some sort of change or realisation. So with my little list, I endeavour to make a few changes and capitalise on the things that bring me enjoyment.

  • I miss going to the library.  I have my iPad and Kindle and although I love the convenience, especially when I have a small compact bag and wish to bring a book along with me, I do miss flicking through the pages of an actual book.  Call me old fashioned, but I don’t ever think an electronic device will replace my love for books.  Now…where’s that damn library card of mine? :/
  • Same goes with DVD stores.  I actually really hate downloading movies.  Not just due to the ‘piracy’ issues, but I find the actual task itself so….frustrating and time consuming? This may baffle people since modern day tech has really gone leaps in bounds in increasing our time efficiency, however I find myself taking up more time trying to download quality files and wondering what the actual movie is about, compared to going into an actual DVD store;  not to mention, it takes the fun out of finding one of your old favourites on the old DVD shelf.  Now…where is my local membership card? :/
  • I love flowers! However, my nose doesn’t.  A) because I can’t really smell too well anyway, and b) I get chronic hay fever.  I love to have fresh cut blooms in different rooms of my house, however it’s not something I can do.  Depending on my nose sensitivity, it more than often gives me extreme hay fever symptoms and turns me into a blotchy, sneezing, whiner.  Not really sure how to fix this missing moment in my life….perhaps I’ll just visit a few more florists whilst being completely dosed up on antihistamine tablets.
  • Being a couch potato.   I don’t mean everyday, however I just love the times where I can just sit on my sofa, eat a bag of chips and not worry about having to be anywhere or do anything.  I find myself feeling guilty when I have these moments and then force myself to do something? Why? From now on, I am going to endeavour to have at least one ‘couch potato day’ per month.
  • And of course….Super Mario Bros.  I miss that game in general.  I remember finding my old Nintento console and plugged it in for a bit of a trip down memory lane.  I loved it. Since then, my Super Ninento system died and as above, I am not really sure how to capitlise on  this lost moment…however perhaps I can be a little more metaphoric and try to embrace my inner child a little bit more.  And I don’t mean the screaming, spoiled, childish times; but more,  the opportunistic tendencies of the childhood ‘me’ and how children in general tend to embrace new opportunities with gusto.

A big thanks to these awesome brands…..

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So recently I embarked on my ‘Give a Dollar’ campaign to raise funds to donate to Made in a Free World and also IAWF. In the first week I managed to raise $100 and now we are up to $200. My goal is $2014 by December 31st 2014.

However, after reaching out to a few brands that are all about ethical and sustainable practices, I was very humbled and grateful for the support shown by some boutique and large eco brands.

The first supplier to show support and donate a gorgeous dress which will be raffled off once we reach our goal was 3Fish.

As part of this mission, I have been lucky to come across some new brands that I never knew existed. For me, apart from raising my goal fund amount, learning about new brands and understanding their mission is another added plus for me.

3Fish, the fastest growing fairtrade company in Woodend, are  passionate about fair trade and its power to tackle extreme poverty through trade.  Their belief is that every life is precious, and they go to long lengths to ensure their products are sweatshop free and kind to the environment.  As quoted by 3Fish, “Every dollar you spend for yourself or your organisation has a ripple effect around the globe – make it count! to long lengths to ensure our products are sweatshop free and kind to the environment. Every dollar you spend for yourself or your organisation has a ripple effect around the globe – make it count!”

To find companies that are solely founded and created to support this movement of fairtrade…is phenomenal in my opinion.

Other brands who have also donated goods or gift vouchers that will also be raffled off include:

Birkenstock 

I am sure Birkenstock need no introduction with their on trend sandals gracing nearly every fashion blogger’s tootsies out there…however long before they become a fashion staple in everyone’s’ wardrobe, Birkenstock were doing great things both for foot health and eco/ethical practices.

I’ve long been a fan of Birkenstock and their products and I am so happy to see these awesome sandals gracing the foot of nearly every fashionista on the planet.  Of course I loved them before they were cool ;)

All about Eve. 

All about Eve are a boutique brand producing on trend fashion for the savvy lady.

 

 

I get uninspired sometimes!

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We all get inspired by certain factors in life however there are also times when I get uninspired.  This doesn’t happen often, however I will admit, it happens.

When I notice my mood or attitude taking a dive to ‘negative town’, I really try to pep myself up.  However, it can also be exhausting some times.  I am a definite believer in positive thoughts, emitting positive energies and from this will come positive outcomes.   I know this and believe this!  Yet there are times when I just feel like curling in a ball.  When everything that inspires me has a slight tarnish or tinge to it and  I just lose momentum.

I don’t tend to envy people. You are what you make yourself! However, I will, from time to time, envy those that can control their emotions to the point of being consistently positive and happy.  I don’t envy wealth, fame, good looks, fancy clothes or cars.  No! But I do envy those that are happy all the time.  Only because that is what I want.  Is it unrealistic though? And don’t get me wrong…I am not a wet blanket type of person or one that consistently focuses on the negative.  But there will be times, very rarely, that I have a down day.  A day where no amount of inspo quotes can pep me up.  A day when not even my mood board with clippings of inspirational images can turn this frown upside down.

Surely even the super positive people have days where life presents its challenges to no avail?  Is it unrealistic to want to be happy all the time? Do we need a bout of unhappiness to really appreciate the good times? Am I over thinking this whole thing and should really just go eat a chocolate muffing and be done with it?

If you are ever in the head space that I might get to from time to time…what do you do to direct yourself back to the right frame of mind?

Feeling meh….