Sharyn and Tom (Swampy) of Wandella, are the parents of our friend Carly, who is one of the highlights of our new-town-friend-making adventures.
One day soon, they'll be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, and to mark the occasion, Carly was thinking pearls, as these are the traditional gift for 30th anniversary celebrations. Carly figured she couldn't really afford real pearls for her Ma, but thought maybe a Pearl & Elspeth might be a reasonable second. I was thrilled and honoured to be involved in such a gift and immediately set to work brainstorming with Carly about what kind of P&E to make for her parents.
I first met Sharyn and Tom at their pretty awesome handmade home in Wandella when we went to Carly's Blue Light Disco themed 30th birthday party. The party was rockin', with a band, animals on spits, a jumping castle, tons of people dressed in incredible 80s-wear, kids running around feral, a lotta love and a massive bonfire - exactly the kind of party I want to throw sometime. I had already pretty much sussed that Carly was rad, but when I met her folks and (5) siblings and saw the place they all grew up I began to understand the reason Carly is so rad, and I felt really happy.
The gift-making was based around the following criteria: Her ma likes my skirts, digs owls ("Put a bird on it!") and loves and looks awesome in autumnal kinds of colours. Her dad is a "butch yobbo"/"earthy kinda dude" who would probably appreciate a lounge-y kind of item like a cushion or knee-rug for snuggling, and who wears heaps of black denim and flannos. What a brief!!! The answer to this brief was (of course!) a skirt for Ma featuring Sharyn and Tom rendered as owls in applique,
and a black denim and flanno owl-shaped cushion for Pa.
Getting a 2nd-hand flanno to use for this project proved to be quite problematic, given that op-shops in the far south apparently do not put flannos out until after easter (!) so I ended up using my own, favourite flanno, unwashed, to make the body of the owl.
This was an interesting exercise for me, and a good test of my newly-embarked upon philosophy of letting go of 'stuff', which has been quite profoundly influenced by my readings of Little House on a Small Planet and Radical Homemakers. But it was actually kind of easy, once I decided to do it, because I just knew that the joy that Carly, her Ma and Pa would get from the re-made shirt was way more than my attachment to the flanno itself, so hack it I did, to the soundtrack of Olive shrieking "Ami!! Why are you cutting up your shirt!!???".
I reckon it was worth it.
In other news, due to popular demand, I am posting the apple jelly recipe so that others can experience the labour-and-energy-intensive deliciousness that is apple jelly.
4 cups apple juice (approximately 1.35kg apples and 3 cups water)
2 tbsp lemon juice (if desired - I put it in)
3 cups sugar
To prepare juice
Select tart apples (I'm pretty sure the variety we used were Spartans, but when it's the side of the road you can never be 100% sure) - about 1/4 firm and 3/4 fully ripe. Remove the stems but don't peel or core them, just chop the whole apples up and put them in a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil the reduce to a simmer until the apples are soft. Extract the juice by hanging the boiled apples in some muslin over a bowl. Squeeze it out to make sure you get all the goodness!!
To make jelly
Measure the apple juice into a saucepan and add sugar to the ratio in the recipe ingredients (for example, I had about 12 cups of juice, so added 9 cups of sugar). add lemon juice, if you want to, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Now cook the crap out of it until it 'sheets' off the spoon (this means that when you pour off the spoon it falls in a 'sheet' rather than a 'line' (if this doesn't make sense, email me).
Remove from the heat and skim off all the foamy scum (I was quite fanatical about this and did it continuously throughout the simmering process).
Pour the jelly immediately into warm, sterilised jars (I filled mine with boiling water, let them sit for about 5 minutes, poured out the water, then put them in the oven). Wipe the rims, put the lids on, then process them in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.
Try not to eat too much of the warm jam directly off the spoon while you're cooking because, though delicious, in large quantities it' actually kind of nauseating.
Good luck! Enjoy!