Of board games and yoghurt

We’ve pulled out the boardgames this summer – the lad and lass now old enough to enjoy playing more complex games. It was a quiet achievement for the lad to play Scrabble, undaunted by picking out words and spelling. Mind you, spelling ‘fart’ has never presented a problem for him, regardless of his dyslexia.

At the moment, the three of them are at a game of Chameleon which I haven’t played yet. But I did see how the lass beat the Bloke in her first game so I think some respect might be in order when I come up against her. I watched for five minutes and was told to leave the room or keep quiet. I can’t help myself – something like Tetris or Chameleon and I start shouting out where the player should go. Which means I get told where to go.

I’ve been pursuing my own passions since Christmas, kindly fuelled by gifts. The Bloke gave me Saraban, the latest cookbook by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Oh my, it’s beautiful. The food looks good too. I’ve already prepared a few meals and realised just how much yoghurt is used. This is not a bad thing but it would mean anywhere between $10-15 worth of yoghurt a week. What to do? Make your own.

First I tried the simple method that is recommended in the book which means using a tablespoon or two of a commercial yoghurt as your starter culture. This turned out fine but it was thinner than I prefer. So, just a few minutes noodling on the net and I found Green Living Australia who supply yoghurt cultures. What you see above is my first batch of Greek-style yoghurt!

It’s delicious with a full, lingering taste. I shall divide this 1 litre batch into three and try it flavoured with honey, salted and the last will be drained to make labneh, a soft yoghurt cheese.

It was so utterly simple to make that it seems ridiculous. The dried culture will make between 80-100 batches and cost about $12. No particular equipment is necessary, though I decided that I would buy a tightweave cheesecloth, calcium chloride (2-3 drops ensure a thicker set) and a set of mini measuring spoons.  Separately I bought a dedicated 1 litre thermos since I’m not keen on coffee-infused yoghurt.

All up, a $50 outlay means I’ll be able to make two litres of yoghurt for the rest of the year (for each alternate batch I’ll use four tablespoons of yoghurt as the starter rather than the dried culture).

And I’ve noticed that Green Living Australia have a feta making kit. Yum!



The jet lag is slowly receding. Coming back this way, it means a wave of fatigue so deep I can barely stand. I can feel fine and suddenly find it washing over me and dragging all clarity with it. The tide’s coming in later each day and I’m hoping to make it through my first day back at work before it hits.

Some photos have also lagged but are definitely worth posting. This one was in the old part of Porto – I found it astonishing that it seemed to appear on a demolished site. At first glance I thought it was painted but zooming in with the camera proved that it was tiled.

It’s now my desktop background at work.

I love the simplicity of this bird against the old customs house in Porto. It was a little hard to make out and certainly didn’t rate a mention from the tour guide – he was too busy telling us about those bridges.

And there was this stunning tiled picture on a grand home near the university. The other reason it’s so remarkable is that it doesn’t appear to be religious. I checked for reeds, Moses and other biblical figures and it seems to be a straightforward desert scene. Quite eye-catching.

You’ll notice the summery quality of light. Melbourne’s winter light is taking quite a bit of getting used to after all that brightness.

Edited to add: There are other photos of the sewing machine company – here, a shop sign in the Azores, they also seem to distribute designs of national dress.

Holland Hup!

This is what the signs are saying in many shop fronts, with displays of brilliant orange feather boas (something for the lady soccer football supporter), t-shirts, soccer footballs and bunting. Although when they’re following a game in an airport terminal say, in Frankfurt, the Dutch seemed amazingly restrained. Two handclaps and a brief cheer at my airport gate and even that included the Dutch national swimming squad who could be forgiven for sporting zeal.

Already, I am in love with Leiden. So pretty, such a human scale, friendlyand it has a university. The other posters in the street remind us that it is Leiden University’s 435th anniversary this year. It is very difficult to stop myself from parking myself in front the Political Sciences Department until they give me a job. In the meantime I shall content myself with scenery such as this.

Blowin’ in the wind

I’ve been really busy with sewing, studio organising, knitting and planning. I’m busting to show you (now that I’m back at work and have a computer with decent processing speed) but I’ll start off slowly.

This is fabric purchased from Ikea. It’s destined to be cushion covers – the orange toned fabrics will liven up a beige slipcovered couch while the blue tones will replace covers nibbled out by Misty the class rabbit.

I love these large, graphic prints. The oversize delicacy of the bird and branch print on the right makes me happy. The floral on the left seemed so much fun that I bought an extra long piece as our outside tablecloth.

I’m not a huge fan of blue but I’ve ended up with a 3-seater couch in dark blue. I think the combo of pale blue, white and black should lift the dark blue and break up the splodge of darkness. I think that’s why I didn’t yell when I found out which cushion covers had been chewed. At least I had an excuse to replace them.

News of summer adventures will be forthcoming: sooz’s shoulder bag kit (delightfully received by my mum), op shop scores on the Mornington Peninsula and tales of just how much sewing you can get done when things are tidy and slightly organised.

Adelaide photos

I particularly enjoyed the jacaranda up and down the streets of Adelaide.

Glenelg was such a relief with its cooling breeze and jetty.

But I did wonder where all the people were….until I looked underneath.

Summer knitting

Not one to forgo knitting simply because the weather will (eventually) climb above 40C, I’ve started on summer knitting. This little number is for the lass, a swing dress from Knitty.


It had to be upsized considerably for a very tall 7yo but I think it shall do well as a dress then as a top over shorts or leggings later in the season. I’m planning another for my neice, this time in lilac. I’m considering a skirt or t-shirt from the leftover yarn – stripey, undulating kind of thing.

I still have wool on the needles at this early part of spring. It helps keep my fingers warm while the car warms up. Mainly I am committed to finishing a top that I started nearly two years ago. It’s not like me to leave things that long but this particular yarn has been through no less than five rippings of half-finished garments. It’s such a lovely, soft yarn in a colour I love and a weight I enjoy working with. So the top has to be special, too.

The first two attempts at a crochet/knit top from Phildar were frustrating; the February Lady sweater got ripped twice; and the last attempt – a 1920s inspired jumper – has just been ripped. I’m going with Arisaig: the style and pattern are just me and it’s the kind of ‘transseasonal’ garment that is absolutely necessary in Melbourne all year round (except for the five weeks of winter).

Keep your fingers crossed for me on this one.