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Archive for the ‘Frugal Living’ Category

The latest furoshiki technique I’ve been practising is called Suika Tsutsumi (Watermelon Wrapping).

It’s a bit fiddlier than the simple bag (tutorial here) or the library bag (here), but still only needs two square knots. Tie these carefully and correctly to ensure they don’t pull undone…

1. Lay the furoshiki face down and place the melon (or other round object) in the centre…

2.  Bring up two corners and tie them in a square knot, leaving a small gap…

3. Turn the furoshiki and melon/pot around and repeat on the other side…

Leave a slightly bigger gap this time…

4. Holding a knot in each hand…

…pass the second knot through the gap beneath the first one…

5. Adjust the knots to neaten and to ensure that the item is well balanced. Make sure they’re all securely tied. You should be able to carry the item with one hand holding onto the top loop…

6. Variation: if you’re using a larger furoshiki, pass one knot through the other, then untie and twist the ends before re-tying…

I rarely have a melon (or a bowling ball) to wrap, but this technique works well for everything from a pot of rice to a bowl of salad. If you enjoy cooking or baking, you’ll probably find it very useful. Here’s how I wrapped two loaves of sourdough, flat sides together, for delivery to a friend…

The furoshiki fever is spreading fast – I’m making them as birthday gifts, mailing them to friends interstate, and haunting Daiso stores to find unusual tenugui (Japanese hand towels) to sew together (panda and sumo furoshiki in the photos above).

Last Sunday, I tied a backpack from two cloths and used it to carry meat home from the butcher. Later that evening, I made a smaller version for my adorable little neighbour…

If you’d like to have a go, you might enjoy our earlier posts. Have fun! ♥

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A LOT of Salt

I think it’s fair to say that I drive my husband bonkers.

On a regular basis.

There is a LOT of salt in our house at the moment.

You see, I couldn’t…couldn’t…pass up the opportunity to buy a second torn 25kg bag of Olsson’s Australian kiln dried flossy salt for $5. I know you all laughed heartily when I bought the first one six months ago, but I’ve given away and used up more than half of it. I’ve baked mountains of bread, made a dozen jars of preserved lemons, and little pots of salt hand scrub now sit at every sink.

So when I passed this bag on the clearance pallet at Southern Cross Supplies, I didn’t even hesitate…

After the initial eye-roll, the ever patient one helped me to pack it all into manageable 2kg bags…

So…then I had twelve bags, plus the five bags leftover from the first lot. Storing it required a little creativity, but I finally managed to get it all put away. It does, I’ll admit, look suspiciously like an illegal drug stash…

There are now bags of flossy salt hidden all over the house. Pete is unimpressed. We had this conversation last night:

Me: “I’m a wife with a LOT of salt. Get it? A LOT of salt. It’s a biblical reference..”

Pete: “I get it…and you need to stop saying it..”

Me: “I’m HILARIOUS, right?

Pete: “I’m leaving the room now..”

Me: “Don’t look back!”

Seriously, the joke alone was worth $5. The salt was an added bonus!

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There are many different furoshiki wrapping techniques, but I only seem to use three on a regular basis – two for carrying goods and one to BYO wine to restaurants.

It’s great fun to have an instruction book open and practise the fancier folds, but when I’m out and about, it’s only the basic ones I can remember. Along with the simple bag (tutorial here), this library bag is my other go-to wrap.

It’s perfect for books, tablets, laptops, slabs of focaccia or boxes of Lego – anything with a roughly rectangular shape. You only need to know how to tie a square knot, which is definitely worth mastering, as it’s strong and won’t slip undone (instructions below from the excellent Pixieladies’ Furoshiki Fabric Wraps)…

. . . . .

Start by laying a large furoshiki face down in a diamond shape. Place your book with the spine at the halfway mark…

Fold the bottom corner up to enclose the book…

Fold the two side corners in and tie a square (reef) knot…

Now tie a square (reef) knot at the top and your bag is finished!

It has a much more elegant look than the simple bag and sits comfortably in your hand or on your elbow…

I use a smaller square to wrap loaves of sourdough for delivery to the neighbours. If they’re not home, the bag sits flat on a doorknob…

. . . . .

Here’s a quick way to make a furoshiki by sewing two tea towels together. The ones from Daiso (called Tenugui) are cute, made in Japan and cheap ($2.80 each)…

It takes just minutes to machine two together, then to trim and hem one edge to form  a square…

The smaller size is ideal for my iPad, or for wrapping up loaves of sourdough or plates of food…

. . . . .

I’m having enormous fun with this new hobby! If you’d like to know more about furoshiki and the ancient art of Japanese fabric wrapping, you might enjoy this earlier post, or our tutorial on how to tie a simple shopping bag.

With the large supermarkets phasing out single-use plastic bags from June next year, there’s never been a better time to get knotting!

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My mother is completely adorable.

This is my favourite photo of her, but hopefully she won’t see this post, or I’ll be in trouble for posting a picture of her with grey hair…

Last weekend, she came over for lunch.

I made char siu bao (this recipe by Rasa Malaysia is brilliant)…

…and pig’s tail congee with homemade chilli oil…

…and potsticker dumplings. I normally make these with bought wrappers, but my friend Maree inspired me to try making the skins from scratch. They were a bit thick and wonky, but delicious…

Mum was  very impressed and told me in Hokkien…”you can go and live in the mountains now”. My Chinese is basic at best, but I think the implied translation is…”you can go and live in the wild places now”. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t thinking of Leura.

She made us laugh so much – we’ve been baking our own bread for a decade, growing fruit and vegetables in the garden, collecting eggs from our backyard chooks, making yoghurt, muesli, preserves, chocolate and generally living as self-sufficient a lifestyle as possible. But in my gorgeous mother’s eyes, this was the turning point. Once we could make dumpling skins, then we could surely survive in the wilderness. I’m smiling just typing this.

If you’d like to make your own dumplings at home, it’s hard to beat this fabulous instructional video by the aptly named Dumpling Sisters. Maybe you can go and live in the wild places too! ♥

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The furoshiki fever continues to build at our house, and I’m handing out hemmed squares of cloth to just about anyone who walks in the door. My old school friends Jeanette and Sue were the most recent recipients, so I thought I’d write this tutorial for them. I hope you find it useful as well!

After a bit of trial and error, I’ve decided that the perfect shopping bag uses a 100 – 110cm square of thin, strong cotton. Silk is lovely, but impractical for everyday use. A cotton furoshiki can be thrown into the washing machine and dryer, then folded into a small package for storage. Quilting cottons, dress fabrics and bedsheeting will all work well – it’s best to hem all four sides for durability. Before you start, give the fabric a good tug in all directions to test for strength. And if that  all sounds too hard, a purchased square cotton scarf will probably work just as well.

There are two easy knots you need to master. Here are the instructions from the  excellent Pixieladies’ Furoshiki Fabric Wraps

. . . . .

So…here’s how I fold and tie my furoshiki shopping bags. It’s dead simple, and I usually do it at the counter while my items are being rung up.

Step 1: fold the cloth in half on the diagonal, right sides out…

Step 2: tie an overhand knot (see above) about halfway up on each side…

Step 3: tie the other two corners together in a square knot (see above or the more detailed instructions here)…

Tah-dah! Your bag is ready to use…

It will carry a surprisingly large swag of groceries…

…then sit comfortably on your shoulder…

. . . . .

Variation #1: for a neater look, start with the fabric inside out so that the side knots end up inside. Turn the furoshiki right side out and give it a good shake before tying the square knot on top. This bag will carry nearly as much as the one above…

Variation #2: make variation #1 above, then slide a scrunchie or other tie over the loose corners before tying the square knot…

Variation #3: make variation #1, then tie the two loose corners into a deep half knot (see above) to enclose the contents of the bag…

…then tie the corners into a square knot to form a handle…

When you’re finished, untie your furoshiki, give it a shake, then fold it tightly and pop it in your handbag for another day!

There are heaps of other bag folding patterns, both in books and on the internet. YouTube has several excellent tutorials, including this one from Sydney which teaches you how to fold the Variation #1 bag above…

. . . . .

…and this wonderful Japanese one with more complicated wrapping techniques…

. . . . .

I now keep three thin cotton furoshikis in my handbag at all time, which is usually enough to cart all our groceries home. Let me end with this photo of Big Boy and Small Man carrying our fruit and vegetables to the car a couple of weeks’ ago (I’m indoctrinating them early) – you can see how full the cloths are, yet both boys commented on how easy the furoshikis were to hold. With the large supermarkets now banning plastic bags, there’s never been a better time to revisit this ancient Japanese art!

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