Saturday, 30 March 2013

Come and see us at the market!

Just a quick post to let everyone know we'll be at the Wirrabara Producers Market tomorrow!
It's their Easter market so it's sure to be busy and, as always, full of wonderful locally grown and made goods. We'll have a selection of Jewelflyt jewellery, Cute.Sweet.Pretty and Whimsy&Co. accessories. 

Come along and see us!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Folk Fair | the to-do list

Some years we spend months preparing for the Folk Fair, some years we don’t have quite as much to do. This is one of those years that have kind of snuck up on us and we’re really only just beginning to prepare. Luckily our to-do list isn’t very long.

Our to-do list (in no particular order)
1. stamp bags.
2. make flyers for the fantastic giveaway we’ll be hosting here in April (more on that soon!) and to let our lovely customers know we’re online.
3. prepare stock.
4. give the shop a good once over with the duster and vacuum cleaner.

And then we'll be all set for a brilliant weekend!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Babka | Traditional Polish Easter Cake

Easter is all about tradition for me. Amongst all treats that seem to signify Easter my best memories are of the making and eating of Babka. This is a traditional Polish Yeast Cake and was an essential part of our festivities.

My mum learnt to bake it from an authentic Polish cook book, adapting the huge quantities to a manageable size. We all helped with the kneading.

This week I baked my version of her version with the aid of a cookbook (The Polish Kitchen by Mary Pinińska). It has only been in recent years that I have attempted this treat. The need for a cookbook is because Mum’s instructions are a bit vague.

Here’s how this year’s test run went.


1.1 kg (2lb 8oz) plain flour

 450ml (3/4 pint) lukewarm milk

85g (3oz) dried yeast (which is what I used). Or

175g (6oz) fresh yeast

2tsp essence. I used vanilla extract but traditionally lemon essence is used.

 4 large eggs

 4 large egg whites

 260g (9oz) caster sugar

Pinch of salt

175g (6oz) unsalted butter melted

 Butter for greasing.


Sift 300g (10.5oz) flour into a large bowl and add milk.

Mix in the yeast and cover. Leave in a warm place for an hour for the dough to rise.

Beat together the eggs and egg yolks and stir in your essence.

Mix thoroughly into yeast mixture. It will look a bit lumpy.

Add remaining flour, sifting it in. Use a wooden spoon until it is all combined.

Knead for 30 minutes. In the beginning it may look like you have too much liquid but be patient (oh I had help with this bit)

Add melted butter and knead thoroughly until all the butter has been incorporated, this will take about 5minutes (really!) The dough will look shiny but will not be sticky.

Place into well buttered tins. I used a large bunt tin and a 23cm (9inch) spring form tin. Roughly half filling each tin. 

Top the cakes with your favourite crumble or leave plain to glaze after baking. I used Hugh’s recipe using 250g butter and no oatmeal

Leave in a warm place for about 30min (until dough has risen to top of container).

Meanwhile heat the oven to 180oC (390oF).

Add some more crumble before putting the cake in the oven.

Bake each cake for about 1 hour. The skewer should come out clean.

The cake that is not in the oven should be removed from its warm place so that it does not rise too much. (Unless you can fit them both in the oven at the same time.)

 I guess it was a success.

Friday, 22 March 2013

how to draw a mandala...

Colouring mandalas is a fun & relaxing way to spend an afternoon (or morning) & it doesn't matter if you are a child, a grandparent or any age in between. You can buy colouring books, or find designs on the net.....or you can draw your own - it's pretty easy & lots of fun...

Supplies needed: Paper (square is good, but you could just draw a square on regular paper), lead pencil, compass, ruler, eraser, black pen (I use a really fine (0.1) pigment liner), colour pencils

1. First you need to draw you guidelines - draw a line (in pencil) from corner to corner, making an 'X'. Find the middle of your page top, bottom & sides & draw a line from top to bottom, then across the page, making a cross (make sure to go through the centre of the X). 
2. Open your compass to half the width you want your finished mandala to be, place the point in the middle (where the lines meet) & draw your circle.
3. Start drawing! Begin in the centre & work outwards, until the tips of the last layer are touching the circle.
4. Once you are happy with the design, go over the outline with the black liner - you need to decide whether or not you want the circle to be part of you design, if you do, mark that in black too.
5. Give the pen a minute to dry (just in case), then gently erase the guidelines & anything else you don't want.
6. Now for the fun bit - start colouring! You can use any colour combo you like, as you can see, I'm rather partial to rainbow colours...

The method above will give you a four or eight point (in each layer) mandala - if you would like a six or twelve pointed one instead, here's what to do: Draw a circle on your page & without closing the compass, mark a spot on the edge. Put the point of the compass on the mark & mark wherever the compass reaches - repeat until you have six evenly space marks. If you want twelve, close the compass half way & draw in between the marks you already have. Join the opposite points & proceed as usual.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless (most of the mandalas below are eight point, the one in the top right corner is a twelve point). If you'd like to colour your mandala more than once, just scan or photocopy it first. It would be lots of fun to give a group of people the same mandala outline & see what they come up with.

Have fun....

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

adding a splash of colour

Along with a fresh coat of paint, we decided it was time to change the artwork on the front wall of the shop.

The sun, moon & stars (which I painted many years ago) had started to fade & it seemed like a good time to make a change. We decided on a mandala - vibrant & welcoming.

I first drew guidelines & then the outline in pencil, then went over the outline in white paint. After cleaning away the guidelines, each layer got a undercoat in an appropriate colour.

image above shows the outline, image below shows old artwork + the undercoat

Then came the fun bit, adding colour & depth...

images below all show building up of colour

& finished!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Aromatherapy | Insect Repellent

Summer is a great time of year. I love that we can choose to be inside or outside without thinking about the time of day. Life is naturally more relaxed, filled with simple meals, great drying weather, time to water the garden.

One thing that can make life uncomfortable is the abundance of insects. The problem for me has been that I dislike intensely the smell of commercial insect repellents.
 My solution was to make my own using essential oils.

There are a number of options so I thought that I would help you get a start.
Some oils can be used on their own but when blended they create a synergy that makes them more potent. One of the best known essential oils for protection against mosquitoes is Citronella, but I personally don't like it.

Here are a couple of suggested  blends
   Eucalyptus **
   Peppermint *
Add 3 drops of each into 100ml of water and pour into a spray bottle.

 2. Rose Geranium  5 drops
     Peppermint *     1 drop
     Lemongrass       1 drop
Combine these in 100ml of water and pour into a spray bottle.

As long as you keep the ratio of oils the same you can make up a bigger quantity then use the undiluted combination in an oil burner either inside or around your barbecue area .
Nearly all essential oils need to be diluted in either water or plain (carrier) oil before use. One exception is lavender oil which can be used directly on your skin and is a great way to deal with mosquito bites.
 Remember to shake your bottle before spraying as the oil will float to the top

 To deter ants use either peppermint or spearmint oil. You can put a few drops in your mopping water or wipe window sills and bench tops with a damp cloth that has a few (2 or 3) drops of oil on it.
 Please make sure that you use a good quality essential oil (I recommend Oil Garden) and do not use fragrant oils as they will not work.

* Peppermint oil should not be used during pregnancy, or on children under 2 years of age without medical advice.
**Eucalyptus oil should not be used on children under 2 years of age without medical advice.
 Lavender is a good substitute for either of these oils

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Painting the town... cream?

 Well, cream and green, and a bit of blue, too, actually.... 
 Anyway, we're getting off topic here. The Handyman has been busy freshening up the shop façade, just in time for the upcoming Folk Fair!
 "A fair? How intriguing" I hear you exclaim with curiosity. The Laura Folk Fair is held on the first weekend of April every year (that's the 6th and 7th this year). It's a pretty big deal here in beautiful Laura, and attracts a lot of people from around the region. Stay tuned for some posts about our preparations in the coming weeks.

If you have a problem...if no one else can help...and if you can find him...maybe you can hire...The Handyman!

Notice the Folk Fair poster? We proudly stick that on our door every year to advertise the fair.

Those colourful chairs you can see have become somewhat of a trademark of ours.

The shop sits right on the corner on the main road of Laura, diagonally opposite the site where the Folk Fair is held.

Friday, 8 March 2013

no-bake choc fruit bites | recipe

Not that long ago, we picked up a packet mix for fruit (or energy) balls. They were pretty nice & I've been keeping a look out for a recipe to try making my own. Then I came across these, which looked good & worked very nicely. Since then, I've been experimenting with other flavours & these chocolaty ones are my favourite so far.

These are delicious & make a great snack. Despite the word 'choc' in the title, they contain very little chocolate (you can omit the chocolate entirely if you want - they are still delicious, just a bit less chocolaty) & are full of healthy ingredients. No added sweetener, vegan**, easy to make, delicious...what more could you ask for?

no-bake choc fruit bites 
recipe adapted from Texanerin
makes 24-30
75g walnuts
70g rolled oats
40g dark chocolate** (optional)
2 teaspoons chia seeds (optional)
180g dates
180g sultanas or dried cranberries
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ - 1 cup quinoa or amaranth flakes or oat bran
½ - 1 cup rolled oats

In a food processor grind walnuts, oats & chocolate (if using) add the chia seeds & set aside. Put the dates & sultanas or cranberries in the food processor & process until smooth (it may all clump up into a big ball, just process it a little more & it should smooth out). Add the vanilla & cocoa powder & process until combined.
Tip the oat & nut mixture back in & give it a quick pulse. Now you begin adding the extra grains. Start with ¼ cup of each, pulse, and see if you like the consistency. Keep adding the oats & quinoa/amaranth/oat bran a little at a time until it seems like enough. You don’t want to make your mix too dry – it should stick together when you squeeze it.
Transfer the mix to a bowl & roll & squeeze into balls. Mine are usually about 2.5 – 3cm, but you can make them any size you like. Put on a tray & leave in the fridge for 30min to harden, then transfer to a container. Store in the fridge.

**the dark chocolate I used is vegan, but some dark chocolate has dairy in it, so check the label

*I usually end up adding ½ - ¾ cup extra of each grain & you can make them with just rolled oats if you don’t have the other grains

*to make an apricot & coconut version: replace the dates with dried apricots & omit the cocoa powder & chocolate. Add ½ cup desiccated coconut with the nuts & oats. You will need less of the extra grains at the end. 

*you can easily add other seeds, lsa meal, dried fruit, whatever you like.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Grand Opening

Hello and Welcome! Today is the official launch of our blog. We’re all really excited about this.

Our aim is to supply you with articles, recipes and DIYs, on various subjects including aromatherapy, gluten free treats, fancy wrapping, style inspiration, the everyday happenings of our shop and much more. 
Who are we? We’re a bricks and mortar business in the beautiful Southern Flinders’ township of Laura, from which we take our name. We’ve only just started selling online but have been supplying the region with natural health care, beauty and cleaning products, plus our extensive range of soaps and gifts for over 18 years.

We hope this space will allow us to share our knowledge, interests and tips for pampering someone you love or spoiling yourself.
And that you’ll stick around for all the fun and mischief.

You can read about our blog masterminds here, and you can check out our online shop, and our facebook page, too.