Katie

About Katie

Katie is a coffee-drinking, granny square-making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights. Katie's raspberry baked cheesecake will rock your socks off.
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In Our Kitchen (and a Giveaway!)

Banana Ricotta and Honey on Toast

Making Cheese 2

Ricotta

Making Cordial

Pearl Oyster Mushrooms

Feta

Salads

Cooking

Scones

Thanks to some annoying oven issues, the last couple of months have been a bit quiet in our kitchen. When we moved into this old house we discovered the stove that was here needed to be replaced, as the hotplates worked but the oven did not. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford to replace it right away, so for most of last year we made do with the existing hotplates and a little bench top oven. Then we bought a new stove and we were so excited to get back to normal with cooking, until the gas plumber came to install it and we discovered the new stove was 7mm too wide to fit in the spot where the old one had been, and there wasn’t anywhere else it could go! We didn’t want to pay a fortune to have major structural work done on our kitchen as we hope to replace the whole thing sometime in the next few years, so for a while after we discovered our new stove wouldn’t fit (and we’d already had the old one removed) we had no stove at all while we tried to figure out what to do next. Eventually Reubs just took an electric planer to the cupboard next to the oven space and a hammer to the tiles on the wall beside it, and we jammed the stove in. It’s not pretty but it works, and we are finally back to preparing the nourishing, yummy food we love!

This weekend was particularly productive in our kitchen. Reubs had been talking about making cheese for months and yesterday he finally took the plunge. Using the Deluxe DIY Cheese Kit from Urban Cheesecraft (which was a birthday gift from a lovely friend) and the recipes in the Gourmet Farmer Deli Book he made a great big batch of feta and then used the leftover whey to make ricotta. Both cheeses turned out beautifully! Reubs had the first of his ricotta on toast with banana and honey. The feta is currently soaking in brine in the fridge, but we can’t wait to try it in few days time. While Reuben was working on his cheese, I made some amazing salads, scones and lemon cordial. I used the lemon cordial recipe from What Katie Ate for the first time, and turned it out particularly nicely. So perfect for a warm day.

We’ve also recently had a go at growing gourmet mushrooms! The lovely people at Fungi Culture sent us a Grow Your Own Pearl Oyster Mushroom Kit and it was so much fun to watch the mushrooms grow, then pick and cook them straight from the box. We really had no idea growing such lovely mushies could be so easy. Our mushrooms grew incredibly fast with very little effort and they were ridiculously good on sourdough toast with goats cheese. The really good news is we were also given a second mushroom kit to giveaway! We’ll be using the random number generator to choose the winner from the comments on this post, so if you’d like to have a go at growing your own gorgeous gourmet mushies, just leave us a little something in the comment section.

Grow Your OwnPeal Oyster Mushrooms

What’s been happening in your kitchen lately? Anyone out there had success with making cheese or growing mushrooms? We are thinking that now we’ve gotten started, we need to start experimenting with making some different types of cheese and growing some different varieties of mushrooms, so we’d love to hear your stories!

Katie x

PS Unfortunately, due to customs restrictions, we can only offer this giveaway to Australian readers. Sincere apologies to all our international friends!

Update: This competition is now closed.

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Clover Clementine

Clover Clementine 2

Clover Clementine 1

Today our family of seven (two humans, two cats, one dog and two chickens) became a family of eight! The newest addition is Miss Clover Clementine. Reuben and I had been talking about adopting a second dog for quite some time. Up until recently my mum was living just around the corner from us and I was taking Daisy over to have play dates with her dogs most days. My mum recently moved out of town and though she is still close, she’s no longer within walking distance. Since Daisy hasn’t been seeing my mum’s dogs every day she’s seemed a bit glum. I think she became quite accustomed to being part of a pack.

We’ve been checking shelter websites and animal rescue facebook pages, waiting for the right little doggie to catch our eye and join our family. Daisy is still very frightened of people and dogs she doesn’t know, so though we would have been happy to adopt an older dog, we thought a pup (that Daisy would be less likely to feel intimidated by) would be easier on Dais. We figured a puppy would have a better chance of bonding with Daisy too.

This morning, while we were eating pancakes, I checked the Lost Dogs Home website and was struck by a funny, whiskery little face. The description said she was three months old, sweet and a little bit timid. Perfect! Reubs called to see if the pup was still available and, much to our delight, she was. The shelter was closing early so we had just half an hour to make it there before closing, and we live precisely half an hour away, so we scrambled to the car and made it just as they closed. The moment we laid eyes on little Clover wiggling at us through the gate, we were certain she was destined to be a part of our family.

The lady who processed the paperwork for Clover’s adoption didn’t have any information about how she came to be there, but we know she was one of three puppies. Her siblings had already been adopted out and Clover was the last one to find a home. We think she might be a bull arab cross wolfhound, but just as with Daisy, we’ll never really know her heritage.

Clover is settling in wonderfully. She is such a sweet and affectionate little scrap. As to be expected, Daisy is a bit jealous, but they are getting along well. I’m confident they’ll be the best of friends in no time!

Not a day goes by when I am not glad we have chosen to adopt cats and dogs in need. I truly believe they understand and that they are grateful for the happy life we have given them. We in turn are so grateful for the joy they bring us every day. We love our ragtag flock of rescue babies with all our hearts!

Katie x

PS Remember when Daisy came into our lives?! On one hand that seems like only yesterday, but on the other hand I can’t remember life without her!

PPS We have decided that in 2014 we will try to follow a blog post schedule. From now on we will be posting every Sunday, rather than at random.  We’ve come to realise we need structure in place to do things consistently, but we don’t want to commit to posting so frequently that it becomes a chore. This feels like a good balance.

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New Beginnings

And just like that, 2014 has arrived! I love the start of a brand new year. Endless possibilities spread out before us. A clean slate. Renewed hope. A fresh beginning. I also think it’s important to pause for a moment and reflect on the year that has passed. 2013 was a year of changes, transitions and lessons for our little family. We bought our first home. I started a little business. Reubs took a new job in a new field. We grieved a terrible loss. We won an amazing blogging competition. I know I’ve said it before, but this last year really has been a rollercoaster. Parts of it have been pure magic and other parts have been desperately hard, but as I sit here pondering the year ahead of us, I am grateful even for those hard parts. Because we enter this new year a little older and wiser for them. We are more focused on our goals than ever before. We are optimistic. We are thankful. We are determined. We are ready. And we are excited to continue sharing our journey here!

Wishing you all a truly wonderful 2014. May this year bring you everything you dream of.

Katie (and Reuben) xo

PS I made this little slideshow of some of my favourite Instragram pics from 2013 with the Flipagram app. The song is “Simple Life” by The Weepies (my favourite!)

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Summer Reflections

I’ve spoken before about the fact I tend to be very future orientated. I always have a list of plans, goals and dreams for the near and not-so-near future. I don’t dwell on the past much and, in some ways, I think that’s a good thing. Focusing on the future keeps me moving forward and means I don’t carry a lot of baggage. Like most people I’m nostalgic about my happy memories and hold them close to my heart, but I’m pretty good at letting go of life’s unpleasant and less important bits.

Daisy and Strawberries

All that said, in the past couple of weeks I have found myself looking back a bit more than usual. The season has changed and summer is here which, in our part of the world, means the end of the year is drawing near. The start of a new year is always a good time for a bit of reflection. Our recent bloggy win has also got me thinking on our blogging journey and all that has transpired since we started sharing here in May 2011.

I often feel that we aren’t making any progress. I look around our house and see all the work we haven’t done; the walls that need painting, the kitchen that needs replacing, the roof that needs retiling. I look at the baby fruit trees and think how long it will be before they are providing fruit and shade. I look at our tiny veggie garden and see the things that have been eaten by bugs or destroyed by frost and I think how much we have to learn. I look at my Etsy shop and think how far away some of my business goals seem. But when I focus of these little details I’m missing the bigger picture. I’m not seeing the forest for the trees.

Mango and Sandals

Just over two years ago we were living in an apartment in the city, dreaming of fresh food and more space. Today we live in a country town with a population of 500. We have a little veggie patch bursting with lovely rainbow chard, peas and herbs. We have two sweet hens who provide us with eggs. We have tiny fruit trees in the earth and strawberry plants reaching for the sun from hanging baskets swinging outside out front door.

Dear Delilah Packages and Peas

Just a little while ago we were worried we’d be trapped in jobs we found unsatisfying for the rest of our lives. Now Reuben has a job (in an area we never imagined he would) that he finds interesting and fulfilling. I am living my dream of running an Etsy shop and in recent weeks it has been so busy, I have hardly been able to keep up with it. Every day when I log in to check orders and respond to customer enquiries my heart is full to bursting point with happiness and gratitude.

Reubs and Sky

Just over a year ago we were renting (half convinced we’d never get out of the renting cycle) and we had a small amount of debt. Today we own our own home and we spend less on our mortgage than we ever did on rent. Though we earn far less than we did when we were living in Sydney, aside from our mortgage we are completely debt free, and we are working towards building some savings.

Christmas Bauble and Poppy

Not so long ago we were stressed and tired and lost. We were sick of our routine. We were worried about our future. We had vague imaginings of a different kind of life, but had no idea how we’d make them a reality. Things are so different now. The overwhelming worry and fear and tiredness is gone. Though (like everyone) we have struggles and bad days, for the most part we are content and thankful and hopeful.

When I take the time to pause and reflect on the last couple of years, rather than focusing entirely on the future, I can see how far we have actually come. We still have so much more we want to accomplish, and in the scheme of things we are only just beginning, but that’s ok. There will always be more to do. What matters is that we are on the right path. I am so proud of our progress and grateful for the changes in our world over the last little while. Our life is far from perfect, but I know it is exactly as it is meant to be right now.

Summer is here. All is well.

I hope all is well in your world too.

Katie x

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Voices of 2013 (We Won!!)

Voices-of-2013_Winner_House-of-Humble_Katie_Reuben

Last Friday we drove down to Melbourne for the Voices of 2013 blog awards night. I have to be honest here and tell you we were a bit anxious about attending the awards. Though we were thrilled to have made it to the top 5 finalists in our category and felt truly honoured to be included in such great company as the other nominees, at the end of the day we’re a pair of awkward little introverts and big, glitzy social events just aren’t really our scene. We were feeling pretty nervous and out of our element when we arrived at the event but, of course, everyone was so lovely and friendly. We got to meet lots of amazing bloggers, some of whom I’ve admired for years (like Pip, Kate, Kirsty and Rohan!) and to our absolute delight we won the award for our categeory. We were chuffed! Before we knew it, it was time to announce the major prize winner. It had honestly never occurred to me that there was a possibility we might win, but then they said it. House of Humble. And in that moment we had won a $15,000 trip to New York, a brand new Ford Focus or Territory to use for a year and a $6,000 writing contract with Kidspot! I was so surprised, I actually thought there had been some kind of mistake. I froze. We stumbled up onto the stage. I cried. Reubs looked shell-shocked. Four days on, we are still totally overwhelmed.

I’m sure that winning a $15,000 trip, a new car for a year and a writing contract would be pretty huge for most people, but for us it’s seriously life changing. We live a simple kind of life and in our quiet corner of the world stuff like this just doesn’t happen. We have always wanted to see the world but have never had the money to do so. Lacking the disposable income to travel now is actually the one thing I regret about the lifestyle we have chosen. We love our life and are perfectly happy living without a huge amount of money or lots of expensive things, but I couldn’t count the number of times I have thought “I do wish we had just enough money put aside to take a great trip…” $15,000 to spend on travel is an absolute dream come true. An almost incomprehensible dream come true.

The car is also a big deal for us as we are currently a one car household, which at times is pretty difficult, and the writing contract is great. Aside from what I share here I haven’t done nearly enough writing since we left Sydney (where I worked in communications and publishing) and I do miss it. I think this might be just the nudge I needed to put pen to paper again.

The funny thing about the timing of this award is that it came just as we’d been thinking a lot about blogging; why we blog, the blog world in general and what we want for this space. I love sharing our story here and whenever I post about something that has been weighing on my heart, I feel some of the burden lift. I love the sense of community that has formed in our comment section and inbox. I love that there are people all over the world and in all walks of life that are interested in our relatively unexceptional journey through life. But the line between real life and blog life is a funny, blurry thing. I’m accutely aware of how vulnerable making parts of our life public makes us. I’m aware that blogging is perceived as pretty narcissistic and I question why I feel the urge to share at all. At times Reuben and I have also struggled with how House of Humble fits in the increasingly commercialised blog world. We dabbled with running ads for other bloggers and indie businesses in our sidebar for a short time, but feeling obligated to post because we owed it to the businesses who supported us made us really uneasy, so we shut it down fairly quickly. These days we don’t worry about our blog stats or how many comments we get (though I freely admit, I used to). We do not worry about networking or SEO or growing. We don’t blog for sponsors or as a career (though I have nothing but respect for those who do), we do it simply because it brings us joy. To be recognised with an award just for doing something that makes us happy is wonderful, but also a bit strange! We don’t really feel deserving.

The last couple of months have been a real roller coaster for our little family. The lows have been terribly low but the highs have been so high. From the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful for those highs! For this place, for you guys, for this amazing award and for the huge amount of goodness in our lives outside of blogland, especially our friends and family. We don’t take a bit of it for granted.

So thanks to you for reading. Thanks to the judges for seeing something of value here. Thanks to Kidspot and its sponsors. Thanks to those we know in “real life” who have encouraged us with this blogging caper. Thank you all so much. We wouldn’t be here, in the incredibly privileged position, without each and every one of you.

Katie x

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