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Last Christmas, our lovely friend Diana gave us a beeswax wrap to experiment with.

It proved to a handy replacement for plastic bags and cling film, and an ideal way to wrap loaves of sourdough…

As it’s our goal to try and live greener in 2018, and given that commercial beeswax wraps are prohibitively expensive, we thought we’d have a go at making our own (thanks for the suggestion, Margo!). There are oodles of tutorials and methods on the internet, with some more complicated than others.

Pete and I came up with a very simple technique, inspired by this informative video…

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And this one from the wonderful 1 Million Women blog...

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The only beeswax we had in the house were leftover sheets from candle making nearly a decade ago, but these proved to be perfect for the job. It took a couple of attempts to get them right, but we’re now pretty happy with the result.

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 foundation sheet of natural (uncoloured) beeswax – these are available online on Ebay and Amazon, and from craft, candlemaking and beekeeping supply stores.
  • washed and ironed cotton fabric – not too thick, and make sure it’s colour fast
  • two large sheets of parchment paper
  • old towel
  • iron

1. Fold the towel in half and lay it on an ironing board. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on top.

2. Fold the cotton fabric so that it’s the same size as the wax sheet. It can be between six to eight layers deep, depending on the thickness of your fabric. In this example, I’ve used the sleeves from an old Japanese yukata that I’d saved from the 1990s. The fabric is six layers thick in the photo below. Place it on top of the parchment paper…

3. Put the wax sheet on top, lining it up as best you can…

4. Cover with the other sheet of parchment paper, then iron over the top, pressing down and moving slowly over the area until the wax melts. It should seep through all the layers. Some tutorials say to use a warm iron, but I had mine on the cotton setting and it was fine…

5. Holding onto both sheets of parchment, carefully flip the whole thing over and check to see if the wax has penetrated through to the bottom layer. Iron again on the flip side to help even it all out.

6. If you have excess wax (which  might happen if your fabric is quite thin), peel back the paper and place another piece of cloth over the wax-infused fabric. Cover again with the parchment and iron a bit more. There might be enough wax to soak into another cloth, but if not, just keep the partially done one for next time…

7. When the beeswax is evenly distributed (there shouldn’t be any dry patches in the fabric), remove the top layer of parchment and gently peel apart the layers. Be careful as they might be hot. Wave the finished fabric around a bit, then drape it over a drying rack or the back of a chair to let it cool completely. This won’t take very long at all. The wrap will feel waxy and a bit stiff. If you like, trim the edges with pinking shears, although they shouldn’t fray too badly…

These wraps won’t work quite as well as the commercial ones, as they don’t include pine rosin, which I’ve read is added to help it “cling”. (Edit: I’ve just found this article warning against pine rosin, so we won’t  be trying it in future!)

To cover a bowl, you need to hold the wrap in place for a while until the warmth of your hands shapes it a bit. A rubber or silicon band can also be used for added security…

These are really very cheap to make – we had everything we needed at home, but if you had to buy them, the foundation beeswax sheets are now about $3.50 each. I picked up a few more today at Stacks of Wax in Newtown. We’ve found that thinner cottons – patchwork fabric or sheeting – work better than thicker ones. Not too thin though, or they won’t absorb enough wax.

I love wrapping cheese in these, and the internet will tell you that they can be used with almost any food item other than meat…

After use, the wraps can be wiped down, rinsed off, or washed in gentle detergent and cool water, then left to dry before reusing. After six to twelve months, they can be re-waxed if needed. We’ve stored ours in a sealed Tupperware container, as apparently the wax can occasionally attract cockroaches.

These will make a great gift for friends, so I’m off to raid my fabric stash for more cotton!

As we stood in the checkout queue at the fruit shop yesterday, I had a happy realisation. Every single person in line had brought their own bags.

Harris Farm Markets stopped supplying plastic shopping bags on 1 January 2018 – they still have small thin ones on offer for individual items, but even those were being used sparingly. The young man in front of us was piling unbagged fruit and veg on to the counter for weighing, and the well-trained cashier was placing them carefully into his backpack after ringing up. As always, it’s a joy to live in Sydney’s Inner West, where the community is happy to embrace initiatives like this without so much as a murmur.

I always travel with a couple of furoshiki in my handbag these days…

As I’ve mentioned previously, Harris Farm offers a range of imperfect fruit and vegetables – a boon to both the farmer and the purchaser. I was so impressed with the green mesh bags provided for these items that I wanted to make my own. It was a great use for the roll of mosquito netting that has been sitting in my sewing room for twenty years, and the bag of lanyards I picked up at Reverse Garbage six months ago. Not being a minimalist occasionally pays off…

The prototype worked so well that I came home and whipped up a dozen more. The fabric doesn’t fray, so it was a doddle to adapt the glasses case pattern from my Useful Bag post…

We picked up a mesh bag full of imperfect apricots for $3.99/kg (as opposed to $12.99/kg for the perfect ones) so that Pete could make our favourite jam. Of course, first we had to make pectin from Granny Smith apples (lucky they had seconds of those too). It’s been a very long time since we’ve had any of our own homemade jam, so this was a real treat…

My friends in the UK tell me that shops are now required to charge for plastic bags over there, which has greatly reduced their use. We still use more at home than we’re happy with, although we make a concerted effort to wash and recycle them wherever possible. How are you going with reducing your plastic usage?

In 2018, let’s do MORE.

Let’s laugh and explore and play and eat and drink and create MORE.

Let’s forget about moderation and minimalism, even though they’re in vogue at the moment.

Instead, let’s bake and cook and sew and grow MORE than we need so that we have plenty to SHARE.

Let’s build our communities and break bread together.

And let’s find more TIME, for ourselves and for others. Time to sit and be quiet inside our own heads. Time to marvel at the wondrousness around us. Time to be kind…and time to LOVE each other more.

Happy New Year! ♥

A super quick post…

This year, I’ve baked Christmas fruit loaves for the neighbours. They’re packed with colourful dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon (but no added sugar), and they’re very tasty…

Here’s the formula I used:

  • 100g bubbly active sourdough starter
  • 1kg bread/bakers flour
  • 750g water
  • 18g fine sea salt
  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 50g chopped dried apples
  • 50g chopped glace orange slices
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

I followed the instructions in our overnight high hydration tutorial, adding the fruit, nuts and cinnamon with the water. The dough will turn a gorgeous purpley hue. The only other change is to drop the temperature of the oven by 10 degrees once the lids of the roasters have been removed – the dried fruit has a tendency to burn otherwise.

I wrapped each loaf in a paper bag and sealed it with washi tape. Easy, delicious and very festive! ♥

Last week, my adorable niece Sweet Pea came for a visit. It was a joy to have her in town, even for just a few days.

On Thursday, I took her and Monkey Girl (Big Boy’s girlfriend) to Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean, the newest ticketed exhibition at the MCA. The second floor of the museum has been transformed into an amazing mix of colour, light, sound and movement. Swiss artist Rist’s projections combine everyday items with audio-visual projections, turning them into something new and magical. Like this saggy underwear chandelier…

Much of the art was interactive and immersive – visitors were invited to sit on sofas, at the dining table, and even to climb into this queen sized bed…

Set with crockery and cutlery, this dining table featured a constantly changing kaleidoscopic projection…

Perhaps my favourite artwork (although I loved them all), was this two inch hole in the floor through which a naked woman called out from her tiny fiery hell below. It was literally the size of a 50c piece and went unnoticed by many…

I had to laugh at the gender differences in our family – when I take Big Boy and Small Man to art galleries, they’re inclined to look for a few minutes and then move on. By contrast, it took forever to drag Sweet Pea and Monkey Girl out of Pixelwald (Pixel Forest) – the quest for the perfect selfie takes time!

I gave in and joined them…

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Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean is on until 18th February 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks, Sydney. Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 concession. Definitely worth a visit if you get a chance!

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