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As we exit lockdown here in Sydney, I wanted to drop you a short note to let you know where we’re at. A couple of readers have been kind enough to make contact to check on us, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging!

In short though, we’re doing very well! Retirement has proven to be an absolute joy and I’ve been spending less and less time online as it evolves. During lockdown, we’ve focused on our family, friends and neighbours, renewing old bonds and building new ones, trying to take care of those around us. It’s been an incredibly rewarding time, despite having been stuck at home for nearly four months.

My focus has changed a great deal since starting this blog in 2009. Back then, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial was all about bread and baking, interspersed with the occasional story of our family life. I made a concerted effort to keep things light – aiming to provide a space where folks could come to enjoy an easy, gentle read. These days, my focus is on sustainability (as you’ve probably noticed over the past couple of years), waste reduction, and, as time passes, increasingly on issues of social justice. None of which make for light reading. In addition, WordPress have changed their posting interface, and I’m finding it cumbersome to navigate.

So that’s where I’m at right now. As my friend Lisa is fond of saying, we’re living our best lives! I didn’t want you to interpret the radio silence as a bad thing – I simply haven’t had much to blog about or the energy to put the words together. Thank you for your concern though! I’m hopeful that I’ll still put up the occasional post, but I’ve never been one to force content when it hasn’t wanted to come out naturally. In the meantime, I hope you’re all traveling well during this strange and bizarre period in history. Our best wishes to you all! ♥

Last week we broke our ceramic wok.

To be honest, I’m not sure how it lasted as long as it did. But I was desperate to keep the glass lid as it’s the perfect size for my dough bowl…but it’s a tricky item to store. My initial plan – to store it upside down above head level, balanced on a stack of mixing bowls – did not meet with approval. So my oh-so-clever husband created a dedicated spot to store it by adding two spare knobs to the old warming oven we use as shelves.

I was reflecting (ha!) this morning on what a blessed life I’ve had. It’s been pretty tumultuous too, with our fair share of sickness and loss and sadness, but it’s always been underpinned and supported by this amazing relationship which started when we were just 18 years old. And I never take it for granted – possibly because I’m a sentimental fool – but every little word or gesture, every kiss on the head, every small act – feels like a gift. Last night he saw the glass lid precariously jammed (upside down) on the top shelf, shook his head and smiled, then solved the problem. He didn’t berate me for being daft or insist we get rid of it. This is how it’s been for 38 years.

A couple of days ago, my daughter-in-law told me about how she was upset because she’d spilled something all over their new tablecloth. She said Big Boy saw her distress, shook his head and smiled, then scooped up the cloth and said “don’t worry, it’s gone now”. And I told her it was because he’d trained at the foot of the master, and that she was going to have the best life ever. 💕 

denim4

As it’s been pointed out to me many times before, I am ridiculously sentimental.

A Sentimental Fool, in every sense of the word.

I was reflecting on that this morning as I mended my kitchen apron. I’ve made more than thirty of these upcycled jeans aprons to date (there’s a tutorial here), but THIS is the only one I use. Why? Because it’s made from Small Man’s very old jeans, which he finally grew out of. By then I’d mended them half a dozen times and the denim was disintegrating. But I made it into an apron anyway (see above, Sentimental Fool), and used it constantly until the straps wore out.

So today I patched holes, added a new strap, and replaced the waist ties. Oh and the patches and strap? Made from Big Boy’s old jeans, of course. My denim harvesting skills have stepped up a notch recently since getting to know fellow denim lover Eliu from Colorado. Check out his fabulous video on how to disassemble a pair of jeans (link here), or support him by purchasing his e-zine like I did..

I followed his instructions and harvested these muted top-stitching threads from my stash of old jeans. Aren’t they gorgeous?

I turned the coin pocket from one pair into a small pincushion…

…and twisted strips of another into a bangle (you know how much I love my denim jewellery)…

Going back to the apron – the waistband from Big Boy’s jeans was perfect as a neckband and the red waist ties were made from polyester webbing I found at Reverse Garbage years ago – the cotton straps finally gave up the ghost after repeated washing. So now my apron is made from BOTH my sons’ old jeans. Guess I’ll just have to keep repairing it! ♥

WPCV

Hello lovely friends! Hope you’re all well. WordPress has changed their posting format, so it’s taking me a little time to figure it out – please bear with me.

I needed a vegan dessert for tonight’s dinner party, so I thought I’d give the World Peace Cookies a go. As they’re already eggless and made only with dark chocolate, we were most of the way there – I just needed to find a substitute for the butter.

My first attempt wasn’t too bad. I replaced the 150g unsalted butter with 125g canola oil and a tablespoon of water (butter in Australia is about 82% fat with water added). Instead of creaming the butter, I simply mixed the oil and water with the sugar. It was tricky to get it to emulsify, but the water helped. Then the dry ingredients were mixed in, and the slightly squishy dough shaped into logs and refrigerated overnight.

The cold logs were a tad tricky to cut, and I ended up squeezing the broken bits together, but they baked quite well! Personally, I miss the butter flavour, but Pete thinks it’s not too noticeable given the heavy cocoa and chocolate content. Definitely worth a try if you need a vegan cookie! The original recipe is here. ♥♥

As promised in my last post, here’s an update on the peach quilt rework!

I say “rework”, because restoration was beyond my patience or skill set. Three of the squares were badly worn, so I patched them with gorgeous needle-turned applique chicken panels that I picked up for $1 each at The Sewing Basket Newington last year. Additionally, I added pink linen patches, cut from storage bags given to me by Diana (“I’m sure you’ll think of something to do with them”, she said)…

The chooks are completely adorable and add a touch of whimsy…

I’ve been sharing progress pics with my quilter friend Amanda. She thinks the quilt could have been made in a beginner’s class in the 1980s, back when templates were traced and cut out of cardboard, and scissors were used to cut the fabric pieces. These days, quilting is far more sophisticated, with roller cutters, premade templates, and colour matched fabric kits.

Our old quilt looks to be entirely hand pieced, then machine bound and quilted. Some sections appear to have been repaired before. We pondered on why the maker chose to use invisible thread for the topstitching – did her teacher tell her to do that? Or was it the trend at the time? Or was this her first attempt at quilting and she wasn’t confident about colour matching?

“I feel such a connection with the original maker through your stories and observations while you work”, Amanda commented. I felt the same way, and was grateful to have her advice in understanding the history of the quilt…

I dug out a matching skein of embroidery thread from my stash, purchased for 50c from The Sewing Basket…

I do love a bit of hand darning…

The back had a single small hole to repair…

There were a few smaller sections where the fabric was too fragile to mend by hand, so I patched them with the pink linen, trying to keep the pattern intact where possible…

I’ve had the most wonderful few days reworking and repairing this old treasure. As the brilliant Kresse Wesling often says, things deserve a second life! ♥

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