Wednesday, January 16, 2013

... on cat toys.

I don't have a new cat, not yet. I hope to, soon. Recently over at Design Sponge I was rather impressed by Kate's cat toy tutorial, so I thought I'd have a go at some kind of flicky-pompom-feather-wand-thing for this as-yet-non-existent-next-cat-of-mine.
I have used extra-thick leather cord, knotted through a drilled hole in a sanded casuarina stick that I did have earmarked for a wall-hanging. Oh well.
It has a casuarina wood bead, which moves up and down the leather cord, and a pompom and a bunch of feathers on the end (thankyou chickens). Instead of sewing these on as Kate suggested, I have tied them to a knot in the leather. I have my suspicions that the feathers will last exactly 0.05 seconds once a kitten gets hold of them, and the pompom not much longer. If so, I can easily tie on a new pompom/feather-bunch once these get shredded.
Maine coon proof? We shall see. Thanks for the inspiration, Kate!

Monday, January 14, 2013

... on things in progress.

There's some things going on here this afternoon. Thought I'd share.
This is a freakishly tiny chook egg laid by my Ma's Old English Game hen, Major Hoolihan. I've made a Pinkysil mould of it to commemorate it forevermore.
Trimmings from some freshly-cast plaster bird's eggs.
Plaster bird's eggs trimmed, sanded and ready for finishing.
C, ever watchful whilst driving, spied this fabulous old coil of a thick green sisal-type twine lying by the side of the road some months ago. He pulled up and grabbed it, sure it would come in useful. I have since absconded with it because it's very very nice.
Unwound, it makes lovely long green fibres that I am experimenting with working into a nest shape. I'd like to paint these eggs the palest palest green and speckle them with white.
When we were kids, my bro and a friend shimmied up some old telephone poles (long disused!) near our house and gathered the sagging wires. The big roll of copper sat in our shed for at least twenty years before I... absconded with it.
I am using it, little by little, to make more of my little bird's nest sculptures. This one (with passionfruit-ish curlicue) is finished.
This one is in progress. It's interesting how, when I bend the wire to form the nest shape, the outer surface flakes off and reveals the clean pinkish copper beneath. Within a few days these fresh parts will start to oxidise and go green.
Hope you're having a productive afternoon too!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

... on The Best Pizza Ever!

I have had a very useful visitor to the vegie garden - a rogue cherry tomato. I didn't plant him - he just came up by himself. I gave him a stake and he grew big and robust and started popping out what seemed like tonnes of tasty cherry tomatoes.
What to do with such a wonderful free glut of tomatoes? Pizza sauce, of course!

I think the secret to a really good rich pizza sauce is to roast your onion, garlic and tomatoes together in a pan with a coating of olive oil, because it just bring out all the flavours in the most delicious way. Whiz it all up in a food processor with salt, pepper and any herbs you care to add. I use oregano and basil, because I happen to have them in the herb garden at the moment. I also prefer red onion over brown or white, but that's just me. I like purple food.
In one batch I would use, say, two (or three small) red onions (peeled and quartered) to one colander of washed cherry toms, with peeled garlic cloves to taste (I use about ten, and you don't have to chop them because you're going to whiz them later), roasted with a decent whack of olive oil in a heavy pan at 180 degrees centigrade for about 30-40 minutes. 

When it's all cooled down a bit, I put it in a food processor with about a teaspoon of Maldon sea salt (that sounds like a lot - but Maldon in particular is less 'salty' than others and the flakes are really large - so less fit when measured), some pepper, herbs and if I happen to have a bottle open, a slug of red wine. Whiz as much as you fancy - the more you whiz the smoother the sauce.

This would make enough for about 6 regular-sized pizzas. I divide it up into small containers and freeze them so I have sauce on hand for whenever pizza is required - quite regularly!

The rest - take your pizza base of choice (I use sourdough leftovers from when I've made bread - it gets partially cooked before the sauce goes on. This makes sure that it doesn't go soggy) and spread it evenly with your lovely new pizza sauce.
Add toppings. For this one I used kalamata olives and chopped silverbeet, and then lots of pizza cheese (which is a ready-grated mix of mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar).
This all goes in a very hot oven (the hottest it will go - on ours the maximum is 200 degrees centigrade) until it's all melty and brown on top. Check it after ten minutes, and watch it - it seems like there's only a few minutes between pizza perfection and charred cheese!
Consume immediately, with gusto. If you have any of that bottle of red left, this would be the perfect thing to go with it.

Thank you little rogue cherry tomato! Please visit us again!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

... on trying a new approach.

I'm going to try something. Certain people have told me that they think my eggs are lovely, but why do I make them anytime other than Easter? "They're not Easter eggs!" I feel like shouting. "They are bird's eggs!" even though there is a little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering "They are kinda like Easter eggs, you know."
So, I've set up a listing for an Easter egg pre-order of my little red speckled eggs. You can place an order for a set of five anytime from now up until the first week of March. In the first and second week of March I will send them out ready for Easter, either to you, or to the specified recipient of an Easter gift. They'll be beautifully wrapped, and a lovely thing to receive in the mail whether it's for you or for someone else.
After that, I think I'll be retiring these egg decorations. They've had a good run and although I'll keep using some in my little bird's nest sculptures and wall hangings, I think it's time to focus some creative energy elsewhere. And that's good!