Thursday, December 2, 2010

first fruits

These are our first beans from our vege patch for the season.
Slightly disappointingly, they turn green when you cook them, but they're still delicious. And the novelty value of growing purple beans is definitely worth it for the junior gardeners among us!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Since our family increased in number about 2 months ago (how time flies!), meal planning has not really been on the radar. This is partly due to fantastic friends who provided us with meals nearly every night for the first couple of weeks, and then a couple of meals a week for the next few weeks. These meals, combined with our freezer stockpile and the occasional take away kept us going until we were able to contemplate evening food preparation again*.

The strategy that seems to be working for us at the moment is having a list of meal options for the week, rather than having particular meals assigned to specific nights. That way, I can decide what we're going to have in the morning once I know what kind of night we've had and how revolting everyone is likely to be by the end of the day (myself included). I've been including a few options that rely on me making it to the greengrocer or deli or fish shop, a couple of freezer stockpile options, a couple of meals that we can pull together from the pantry and garden, and if all else fails, there's always take away!

I've only been managing 3 or 4 options at a time up until now, but I'm hoping to start coming up with a week's worth of options soon (7 plus 2 extras in case the whole week is good, or we have more revolting days than expected!). This week, some friends brought us a very exciting box of fruit and veges from the market that we'll use as a starting point**. It was full of asparagus, basil, potatoes, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, several mangoes (yum!!), and other summer fruit that's just starting to appear. I'm thinking that one meal might be a thai basil stir fry with asparagus. Mmmm.

I'll try to get a list of options for the week into the sidebar over the next few days, though my ability to follow through on a thought at the moment is a bit pathetic, so it might take longer than anticipated!

I'm also very keen to give Vic's Random Recipe challenge a go, but I might wait a few weeks before adding that to the mix. It sounds like great fun, though, and a very good way to get more use out of some of my underused recipe books.

*I enjoy cooking, so contemplating cooking was one of the things that has been relatively easy to reintegrate into our new lives, once we worked out some of the logistics of dealing with two children during the craziness of the pre-dinner hour. It's the rest of the housework that's still suffering, and is likely to continue to suffer for weeks (if not months) to come!
**Very useful for limiting possibilities when your decision making ability is as impaired as mine is at the moment...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A mystery sock

Half way there!
I was aiming to have this one finished by early November. A couple of weeks late, but not a complete blow out (as could quite legitimately be expected given my track record...).

It's mate has been cast on, so I might have a full pair by the end of summer! Assuming second sock syndrome doesn't kick in...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My creative space...

...should be involving variations of this:
Using lovely soft BWM cotton in Sepia (a sadly discontinued colourway for the 2011 collection), you'd think these quick little Christmas gift projects would be just the thing right now, but the call of the socks is too strong. So close to finishing the first one, I can't wait to see how it looks finished and on my foot!

Visit more creative spaces at Kootoyoo.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Yesterday I made my first-ever batch of soap. I used Jodie's basic recipe which is very user-friendly for the soap-making-novice! I added fresh lavender from the garden and geranium essential oil as my flavourings, and it smells lovely, even though I was a little light handed with the essential oil.

The fresh lavender might have been a mistake, but I don't have any dried lavender (maybe I should dry my own?? Any tips?). We'll see if the fresh stuff works OK, I guess! The geranium oil (one of my preferred scents) would have been lavender oil if mine had had any scent left, but it's a little bit old. I might have had it since before I was married, which was 12 and a half years ago... Ahem.

I can see lots of soapy Christmas presents being given out this year!! Thanks Jodie.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

my creative space

In the last week, I finally managed the last step on this little vest for my daughter. It's been wallowing in the I'm-so-close-to-being-finished-that-I'm-being-ignored pile for several weeks, and has now been set free into the land of toddler wear. Maybe it would rather it stayed in the pile?
It's perfect for those Spring/summer/autumn days that are not quite warm enough for just a shirt, so it should get lots of wear over the next few months (when it's not waiting for another wash!).
It's also perfect for keeping an eye on those pesky chooks to make sure they're scratching around and laying eggs appropriately!
Pattern: Eden's Adam by Tikki (size 2 vest) - I would highly recommend this pattern (Ravelry link). It has excellent instructions and is a REALLY fast knit (see below).
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply in Bracken (123g, or comfortably less than one 200g ball)
Sticks: 3.5 & 4.5mm circs
Timeframe: 16 September 2010 to 1 November 2010. Actual knitting time was 8 days, which is quite incredible given that I AM the slowest knitter in the universe. I think the speed was due to a really straightforward pattern and the urgency associated with an imminent birth. Productivity increased exponentially in the month before the arrival of daughter number 2!
New skills learnt: Long tail cast on (desperate internet search involved here!), and jogged garter stitch in the round (easy to follow instructions provided with the pattern).

Ravelled here.

Lots of great creating can be found a Kootoyoo. It's well worth a visit!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The fruit of Time-To-Myself

Time-To-Myself happened again this morning! T took the girls out to the Toy Library which gave me the chance to get back to those drawstring bags that I'd had limited success with last weekend.

I'm very excited to report that they're finished!
Looking at this photo, though, I've just realised that my time-saving attempt of eliminating the bottom seam by folding the fabric has resulted in an upside-down-animal side of the green bag. Oops. Note to self: Pay attention to the directionality of fabric in future!

Still, I'm rather pleased with them. All bits were already on hand (the benefits of stashing for the future!), and these bags are REALLY basic so they were a perfect project for me right now. The original instructions are from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

Time-To-Myself is a wonderful thing. I appreciate it even more than ever at the moment.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A very nearly finished object

While we were on a break a couple of weeks before the baby arrived, I started knitting a little vest for my nearly 2-year-old. I finished the knitting 8 days later (a small miracle in itself), and since then it's been hybernating on my craft table waiting to be blocked.

Today I finally managed it!
There were a few conditions that needed to be met for me to block it: a blocking surface needed to be sourced, and the weather needed to be good! Fortunately for me (and my daughter), today those conditions were very satisfactorily met.

Yesterday I bought some large foam floor-mat-pieces to act as blocking boards (completely inspired by/copied from Helen of Bellsknits who talked about her own camping-mat-blocking-boards AGES ago), and the weather today is lovely and sunny, and the last day that we're likely to have like this for at least a week.

Typically, I'm blocking by guesswork rather than knowledge, never having wet-blocked anything before. I figure that I want the shoulder straps and neckline to sit properly, the vertical knitting lines to sit vaguely straight, and the bottom cast-off row to sit kind of flat rather than kinking up all over the place. Who knows at this point whether I've succeeded? I'll find out before too long, I'm sure.

Do you block your knitting? If you do, what's your approach? Hints and tips will be enthusiastically received!!

Hopefully I'll have fully finished, modeled photos with project details in the next week or so.

P.S. If you're wondering what the beans are for, they're acting as weights to stop the mat blowing off the top of the clothes rack it's resting on to keep it out of reach of inquisitive chooks...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How good is Ravelry?

My heel is turned, and I'm about to start on the next clue BEFORE the one after that is released!! I won't say I've caught up (that would be a little optimistic), but I'm rather chuffed that I'm currently not *too* far behind!
The next step involves picking up stitches along the outside of the heel to start knitting the gusset (that bit on either side of the back of the heel that has a diagonal line pointing up towards your ankle - have a look at your sock and you might get what I mean?). Picking up stitches is something I've generally made up as I've gone along in the past, with varying success, so instead of making a mess of my otherwise rather lovely socks, last night before (theoretically*) going to bed, I asked for advice on the sock-a-long forum on Ravelry. By the time I woke up this morning, a number of smart knitterly types had responded with much sock-knitting-stitch-picking-up-wisdom! So, while the execution may still leave something to be desired, I have the theory this time which surely must increase the odds of success.

Ravelry is really good. If you're even vaguely interested in yarn craft, you should go there and check it out!

*Last night my 1 month old slept for 40 minutes between 6pm and 1.40am when she finally went to sleep for nearly 6 hours straight. I am simultaneously ecstatic and exhausted. Hoping for more of the long-time-sleeping and less of the long-time-waking in the near night time future!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

sans heel

There was three quarters of one until I decided that my stuff ups slipping one at the start of the heel flap really needed to be fixed. And I'd nearly caught up!
Even so, I'm still having fun, which bodes well for the potential completion of sock 2.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A tiny glimpse into the workings of my brain...

I was gifted a very precious 90 minutes this afternoon of Time-To-Myself while my husband took the girls to the park. I decided to use it wisely and make a couple of small drawstring bags for some things in my oldest's special feeding-time bag. Very do-able.

I pulled out my fabric options, and chose a couple that would work nicely. I ironed the first fabric and cut the piece I intended to use.

Speed bump number 1:
How do I thread the bobbin again?

After consulting the manual and still having thread-breaking issues, I re-threaded the top thread after consulting the manual again, and the machine sewed. Success!

Temporary success.
The right side is supposed to face IN when sewing seams.


Now where's my seam ripper?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


Look what arrived this morning!
It *may* contain [cough] 23 200g balls of yarn, BUT 13 of them are for my mother! The remaining balls that will be living at my house will eventually be turned into washcloths and winter knits for the smalls for next year. I hope...

Bendigo Woollen Mills has a sale on at the moment. Who could resist!?!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my creative space

Running repairs.
It only took about 6 weeks after the button-meets-bottom-of-heel incident to do something that required 5 minutes of my time...

I'm quite impressed that I realised (before tomorrow) that today was Thursday and My Creative Space day. Lately I've been at least a day out one way or the other, but today I'm spot on! [I think.] Thanks Kirsty, for helping keep my week somewhat predictable!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On their way out, but beautiful all the same.

Please excuse the hideous fire screen in the background - I've been meaning to replace/re-cover it since we've been living here but that's the case for lots of dreamed up projects in this house...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meal planning?

Over the last few weeks, meals at our place have been a bit different to usual. Cooking from scratch is not something that we seem to be able to manage for now as we gradually get used to an evening ‘routine’ (ha ha) that involves all of the normal things as well as throwing a newborn into the mix! We figure we’re doing fairly well if the oldest gets a bath, the chooks are put to bed for the night and we sit down to eat sometime near dinnertime.

Fortunately, we are part of a community that has been incredibly generous. At least one meal has arrived at our front door every day for the last week and a half, so the most we’ve had to do is to heat something up and make a salad (often with ingredients provided by the dinner-maker!).

As such, meal planning has involved saying thank you at the door, or making a decision about which meal we eat and which one goes into the freezer! I expect this week to be slightly more complicated as the dinner roster prepared by friends is unlikely to cover every single night, so we might need to make decisions about which meal from the (rather large) freezer stash we will eat!

We are very blessed by the people who are taking care of us, and are extremely grateful for their generosity. Thank you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy day!

I missed a day. Bother.

As you might remember, *someone* permanently disabled my computer last weekend, and I've been relying on using my husband's computer in the evenings to make blog posts. Rather than making a blog post last night, we were sent out for dinner by my parents who looked after our big girl for the evening. We had a rather lovely dinner at Lulo in Hawthorn, and our littlest girl slept through the whole meal! I think I'm quite OK about missing a Blogtoberfest post when it was due to such a good cause!

And today I collected my replacement computer! Ahhh. It's an exact replacement for my old (spewed on) MacBook which I loved (probably more than I should), so I'm very happy. After much thought and discussion with people who know about these things, I decided that I really needed a laptop rather than an iPad, particularly if I go back to study in the near future. There will just be very strict rules about not combining babies and computer usage from now on!

If I had managed to post yesterday, it would have been to show you my creative space, which is centred around this yarn and this bag for the time being. The bag is a Sunnyboy from Michelle of Buttontree Lane. I discovered that she was not making any more and discontinuing her Etsy shop a few days after she first announced it, and was very relieved to discover there was still a handful of bags still available. As a Buttontree Lane Sunnyboy and/or Box for Socks was already firmly entrenched on my Christmas wish list, I couldn't let them disappear without getting myself one. And I'm very glad I did - I love it.

Sleep update: 7.5 the other night and 8 last night! And last night was only broken twice!! Things are looking up...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Not so sure about this getting dry thing...

Much prefer the being wet option.

Sleep update: 7 hrs in total last night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In the garden...

We did some planting in our vege patch a few weeks ago, and things are starting to appear!
Rainbow carrots

Zucchini. Or cucumber. We planted both and I can't remember which one's which.

Heirloom corn

Purple beans

And finally, our abundant spinach, which was planted a while ago. We're having trouble keeping up with it, eating lots ourselves as well as giving lots away! It's starting to go to seed now, so it probably won't be with us too much longer. We'll enjoy it while it lasts.

After a few gorgeous spring days, the rain has started tonight. It's good, steady rain, so our young plants will enjoy it immensely.

I love having a vege patch!

Sleep update: 5.5 hrs last night, plus a 30 minute nap yesterday afternoon (no opportunity for napping today). For some unknown reason, I've felt more functional today than yesterday even though I had less sleep. Hmmm. Trying for an earlier night tonight...?

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's a good thing I'm so cute...

Sleep update: 1.5 + 2 + 2 + 1.5 = 7 hours. The total sounds good, if only it was with less breaks in the middle...

Sunday, October 10, 2010


These gorgeous blossoms greet us whenever we go out the front door at the moment. And the beautiful weather over the last couple of days has made them look even prettier! A lovely opportunity to take a moment whenever I walk past.

Which is a good thing. Last night, my smallest projectile vomited all over my MacBook, rendering it kaput, according to my Mac-guru-friend. (Though the hard drive should be salvageable. I hope.) Bugger. Times about 7000.

This afternoon has involved some exploring of replacement options, including the possibility of an iPad. Any thoughts?

Lucky there's a thing called the Baby Bonus.

We're hoping to set up my email to go to my phone, but I may be more non-responsive than usual for a little while...

Sleep update: Two lots of 3 hours each (yay!!), but none before midnight. This parenting of more than one child business has it's challenges!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A sock cuff - spoiler alert

I have a sock cuff!

Just in case there's anyone out there who is participating in the sockalong and hasn't finished the cuff (highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened...), a pic of my cuff is below.

It's rather fancy, and involves tiny cables which I managed using a spare dpn because I don't own a cable needle and there's no way I was going to learn how to cable without a cable needle at this point in time!

The clue for the leg came out last night, so hopefully I'll find some time to work on it soon!

Sleep update: About 7 hours, including one 2.5 hour block. More like this, please!

Friday, October 8, 2010


About 6 weeks ago we were given the honour of fostering a friend's chooks for 6 months while they get some serious work done on their backyard. In addition to the eggs they give us every day, we also get to watch them as they potter and scratch around the backyard.

I especially enjoy watching Maisie.
I think Maisie is one of the best looking chooks around! I have no idea what breed she is, but she's lovely. And she's been our best layer! The other two are Isa Browns, which are also rather nice to look at, but Maisie is special.
Sleep update: Apparently 5 hours but it felt like about 2. Being chucked on twice (including a projectile vomit up the sleeve of my polar plus jacket - good aim it seems), which required a complete baby change (waking her up again) and mother change made for a rather challenging night. Hopefully tonight will be better!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My creative space

A bit hazy and distracted at the moment, I have managed to knit enough of a swatch to be confident that my gauge is about right for the Through the Loops Mystery Sockalong (rav link, blog link here for non-ravelers).
I think I love this yarn.

This is the reason for the hazy distractibility - NOT asleep. Though fortunately very tolerant of my attempts to learn how to wear a Hug-a-Bub baby carrier!

My Creative Space can be found over at Kirsty's place. I suggest you check it out!

Sleep update: About 7 hours in total - a good night!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


It's been raining on and off here today since lunchtime.

It's lovely.


After a couple of hideous sub-four-hour nights of sleep due to a combination of what has turned out to be a toddler ear infection and newborn nighttime feeding, I've decided to keep a 24hr sleep log (from midday to midday) for the next few weeks. Given I'm planning to be in this space every day during October, I figure it's the perfect place to do it.

Last night was a very good night. I managed 8.5(!) hours all up, with 2.5 of those between 8 and 10.30am this morning (loving having a husband home on paternity leave!). I also made a concerted effort to have the light out by 10pm last night, which gave me an extra hour at that end, too. Ugh. Not good at this broken sleep thing. It will pass, though, it will pass. Eventually!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Socking along

Because I'm a few neuronal connections short of sane at the moment, I've decided to join in (late) with the Through the Loops Socktoberfest Mystery Sock-A-Long. I remember this time last year a few bloggers were participating and I was thinking that if I knew how to knit socks that it would heaps of fun! I was reminded in the last few days of the potential adventure by Leonie, and thought it still sounded like fun. Now that I've knitted one and a half socks in my lifetime, I figure I'm qualified to join in...?!
I'm planning on using Fanny's Fingering Yarn* in Chilli Pepper from my stash (above), because it fits with the recommended solid or semi-solid colourway. It's a gorgeous deep rusty red, and I hope it will be lovely!

I figure that if I've finished one sock by early November, I'll be doing exceptionally well, and if I've managed to get anything done on the second sock, it will be a bonus! Now all I need to do is wind my yarn, knit a small swatch and then knit a cuff, which looks like fun. I already know all the stitches involved in this bit, which is a bit of a miracle!

*Does anyone else find themselves needing to stifle a very primary school-esque guffaw at this name? Or have I just spent too much time over the last few years working with primary school aged boys?

Monday, October 4, 2010

A question of gauge and stitch definition...

The swatch is done.

There's a couple of complications though. Any advice that knitterly types might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated!

The first issue: unfortunately I get 27 stitches in 10cm rather than the required 22. I figure this means increasing my needle size - this swatch is knitted on 3.5mm needles. Do you think increasing to 4mm needles will make a big enough difference? Or will I be likely to need to go up to 4.5mm?
The second issue: I seem to have managed to get an odd stitch definition in the swatch. See those vertical lines running down the swatch? Rather than getting nice uniform v's in my stockinette, each stitch has one side that's vertical and the other side is on an angle. Do I have some kind of weird knitting technique that makes this happen, or is it some weird feature of the yarn (Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino)? I have a little cardi that my MIL knitted out of the same yarn that also has the vertical line thing happening, which isn't particularly obvious in the cardi she knitted for my other daughter out of BWM Luxury. Any ideas?

P.S. Blogtoberfest day 4 meanderings are somewhat affected by severe sleep deprivation due to normal nocturnal infant behaviour combined with a sick toddler who kept all the adults in the house up late then up early (from 4am). Brain blur.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


itti bitti d'lish snap-in-one shells (small size). We think they're brilliant!

The weather today was perfect for getting organised for the transition from sanity-saving disposables to sanity-and-conscience-saving cloth nappies. Given the number of nappies we're going through each day at the moment, we probably won't have enough cloth nappies in the stash, but for every one we use, that's one less disposable. We've got to start somewhere!

Saturday, October 2, 2010



It's only a swatch, but it's knitting. Good stuff.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Against my better judgement, I've signed up for Blogtoberfest. This means that I'll be attempting to post daily for the month of October.
The new addition, not yet a week old

You might be wondering why I would do such a thing given our current life circumstances, and part of me is too! However, I'm working on the assumption that it will be a good thing to try to extract my head momentarily each day from the craziness that's involved in adding a new person to the family, even if it's just to take a picture, or to make a (very) short post.

Given that the main focus of this blog is making and not parenting (even though it makes a necessary appearance here occasionally), I'm hoping that you don't get inundated with gratuitous baby shots because I'm besotted (it's true) and can't think of anything else! I'm hoping to snatch a moment here and there to do a row of knitting, or admire the carrots that were planted a couple of weeks ago, or even pull out a dandelion or two! We'll see.

Thanks, Cathy, for hosting Blogtoberfest again this year. I know that through Blogtoberfest last year I connected with a few bloggers who have become firm friends, and hopefully this year there might be a few more!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

She's here!

Welcome home!

3.185kg (7 pounds), born 11 days early on Saturday evening after a labour that was at least as good as we'd dared to dream of!

We feel very blessed to have her.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A slight case of paranoia with a bit of reality thrown in for good measure...

When my daughter was nearly 6 weeks old, we flew to Sydney so she could meet grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles and family friends. It was a lovely trip. Unfortunately, she was exposed to Pertussis (Whooping Cough), probably at the airport or on the flight on the way home. Two weeks later she developed a cough which steadily got worse over the next couple of weeks.*
A at about 6 weeks old

After several trips to the GP and many phone calls to Nurse-on-Call, we eventually ended up in the Children's Hospital in an isolation ward for a few nights so that her symptoms could be managed. The GP didn't pick it up because the symptoms look so different in an infant compared to an older child or adult. As infants don't have the muscle strength to do the characteristic cough, when it gets severe enough they stop breathing instead. As a parent, it's incredibly distressing to witness, and requires being on high alert ALL the time so that you can sit the baby up during a coughing fit to try to keep their airways clear. The only treatment available for Pertussis is a course of antibiotics, which limits the contagious period to 5 days from the beginning of the course of antibiotics (as opposed to 3 weeks if left untreated). It does nothing to treat the symptoms, which need to be constantly monitored and managed.

In the last couple of weeks, a five week old baby in South Australia died as a result of Pertussis. This was apparently the fourth infant in Australia to die in the last 12 months, when typically in this country, there is only one Pertussis related death each year. The disease is not life threatening for most people over the age of 12 months (though when my sister had it a few years ago, she broke a rib with all the coughing), but in small babies they don't have the strength to cough as effectively, which means their airways can be compromised, and they can end up too exhausted to feed which further reduces their strength, which can spiral down into a very bad place to be. Fortunately, if you make it past the worst of it about 2 weeks after the cough first appears, there are no lasting side effects once the 3 month (very) gradual recovery is complete.

We were lucky. My daughter's case was considered 'moderate', which meant she didn't get to the point of needing to be tube-fed and only had oxygen waved over her face during a coughing fit rather than it being attached permanently. Thankfully she was a great feeder from birth, and consequently a fatty-boom-sticks which I suspect put her in a more resilient position to start with than many babies often are. She is now completely healthy, and amazingly, given the levels of adult anxiety she was exposed to while she was sick, is a joyful, carefree, adventurous little thing. It doesn't seem to have had any long term impact.

A last weekend seesawing enthusiastically at the park...

But now we're about to have another baby. And the rate of Pertussis in the community is again significantly higher than normal. And I'm feeling slightly paranoid. I REALLY don't want this child to get it. I'm not sure I could be as together if it happened again - I know a lot more about it and the potential consequences now than I did last time! Sometimes lack of knowledge is a good thing... We WILL vaccinate this child**, but it will still be completely unprotected for the first 8 weeks of life.

The conversation with my rational brain goes something like this:
My SIL had a baby 2 months ago and when they left the hospital they were advised that, in addition to ensuring that any adults who were likely to have regular contact with her (like parents and grandparents***) were up to date with their vaccinations, to keep her away from public places, especially those with air conditioning (like shopping centres). My advice at the time was to be cautious and sensible but that they couldn't let the unlikely possibility shut them in the house for the first 8 weeks! Obviously that applies to us, too!

Here is a sample of the conversation with my slightly less rational brain:
Our daughter caught it in one of those public place scenarios!! We can't go anywhere public then!! Well at least not to the shops. Or church. Or cafes. And only people who are up to date with their vaccinations can come into our house!! And so on...

There's got to be some kind of middle ground here! Listening too closely to my irrational brain is a recipe for serious mental health issues. However, it's not completely crazy. I suspect that not being cautious enough and getting into the same situation again would result in psychological catastrophe too. Obviously, we won't be going anywhere near airports or public transport for the first few weeks of life (been there, done that, outcome not good). The question is: Where do we draw the line? When does caution become paranoia? What do you think?

*She was vaccinated, but babies don't receive their first lot until they're 8 weeks old, by which stage she'd already picked it up.
**I know there are many people who don't agree with vaccination, but it's something that we're committed to, especially in this situation.
***Babies typically pick it up from parents or grandparents who have not been vaccinated in the last 5 years. Most adults don't realise the vaccinations they received as children or teenagers have well and truly lost their effectiveness! And most adults who have Pertussis often don't get diagnosed until after they're no longer contagious, because it's the fact that it lingers for such a long time that often results in a diagnosis being made.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A lovely package and a return to normality?

When we arrived home from our (too) brief escape to a rural lifestyle, a lovely package was waiting for me as part of Jellywares' Spring Washcloth Swap.
I REALLY like the washcloth made by Kitty from a lovely cream eco-cotton, and I'm looking forward to using the honey, oatmeal and chamomile soap (which I will be declaring mine, all mine!) as well as planting the Zinnia seeds in a few pots for the front garden. I'm really lucky to have had Kitty as my swap partner. Thank you!

And now that we've returned from our few days away and hubby is now home for several weeks in a row(!), I'm attempting to get back into the vague routine that had been completely tossed out the window over the last few crazy weeks. Step one is to re-establish the meal plan! Admittedly, part of the motivation for planning things at this point in time is to try and convince Peanut that it's inconvenient enough to join us, but even if that doesn't work, at least having dinners organised will mean that dinners actually happen even if I'm cooking in my sleep... and maybe, the freezer might end up with a few extra meals in it. Here's hoping, anyway.

Monday: Spinach, Feta & Olive tart (making it up, using spinach from our garden and eggs from our chooks!)
Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff (Masterchef mag #3, p. 98, hopefully with leftovers for freezer)
Wednesday: Pasta Bake (making it up, but including Istra bacon bought on our way home from Daylesford at Istra's farm shop)
Thursday: Moroccan Chicken Stew (delicious Aug 08, p. 94, with leftovers for freezer)
Friday: Fish
Saturday: Lamb & Chickpea Pizza (Masterchef mag #4, p. 42)
Sunday: Cannelini Bean & Couscous Patties (delicious Sept 10, p. 114)

What are you hoping to eat this week?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Yesterday afternoon we returned from a few short days away staying at a friend's farm* cottage about 15 minutes drive from Daylesford. Looking out from the living area, we were lucky enough to be treated to views of rolling green hills and paddocks full of cows. It was wonderful! And so peaceful (if you discount the exuberance of our 21 month old daughter...!).
The view from the cottage

We managed to do some exploring of a few local attractions, including cafes, the Chocolate Mill, Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm and the Digger's St Erth garden at Blackwood (below). My daughter also honed her skills in animal identification and noise making! I think she'd love to be a country kid... Sigh. Dreaming is good.
The Garden of St Erth - a view from within the food forest being established, across the kitchen garden and espaliered fruit trees to the drought-friendly garden, with a few daffodils in bloom thrown in for good measure!

I also managed to fit in a fair bit of crafting while we were away. Two washcloths** were crocheted for my secret swap partner in Jellywares' Spring Washcloth Swap...
...several ends were sewn in on my epic granny blanket (over half way now!), and I started work on an Eden's Adam vest (Ravelry link) for my daughter...
Beginning the vest was almost a non-event though. I discovered, after running around the morning of the day we left getting the right sized needles, that when I pulled all the bits out to get started, that I needed to do a long tail cast on. Which was a slight issue as I'd never done one before. To my great surprise, I had no internet access on my iPhone, and while this was a blessing (lots of craft done rather than wasting time online...), it meant that I had to be a tad resourceful in my efforts to find out about long tail cast ons. Mum tried to help (we had phone coverage), but it was too complicated to explain without pictures. Eventually I found my way to Daylesford Library where the extremely helpful librarian set me up with 30 minutes internet access which sorted me out fantastically! In the end, I found the Knitty instructions with still shots most useful. What a saga! But it was begun, and I'm really enjoying the process of knitting it!

Tonight, we had roasted free range organic Wessex Saddleback pork belly for dinner, bought direct from the grower at Fernleigh Farm. It was absolutely delicious! It's great being able to buy meat by breed, as well as direct from the producer. We're fortunate enough to be able to do this occasionally at Farmers Markets, but it's a special treat getting it from the place where the animals actually live.

*Farm is probably an overstatement given the size of the property is 1.5 acres, but it's surrounded by farmland, so you can pretend!
**Tulip stitch washcloth (pattern here) using Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton in 8 ply and a 4mm hook.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


The edge is complete, and now all I have to do is sew in the ends.

Ahem. Yes. Those ends. I naively thought that it would take me a couple of evenings worth of work. I think I'll be doing well if they're all woven in within a couple of weeks!

Some pointers:
1) It doesn't matter how frugal you think you're being, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT think it's a good idea to leave a tail behind a joining knot* of less than 5cm (and especially as small as 1cm!?!). It's not. It will not weave in and it will look horrid, aside from driving you completely barmy when trying to work out how to hide it.
2) If at all possible, weave as many ends as you can in as you go. You will thank yourself later, rather than cursing yourself over and over (as I'm doing right now!).
3) If it's too late and you've already done what I did, keep persisting and weave them all in! I'm working on the theory that this blanket will be much better on the couch than hidden away in the WIP basket. I hope so, anyway...

Kirsty has some long term/slow burn projects on the go at the moment too. Hopefully she's finding them a little less frustrating than I am! Pay her a visit and while you're there, check out the other creative spaces around the traps this week.

*I find the whole idea of joining with a knot slightly disturbing these days, but this was a 'learn to crochet' project. I have learnt much along the way, including that some strategies are not ideal. Like joining knots. A slip stitch, on the other hand, seems to have potential?