Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The wind, it blows

..and blows. And then blows some more. After scurrying around doing chores under the groaning branches of the gum trees, I find the plus side to such winds is the drying of four clothes lines full of washing, consecutively!

This black cat comes inside and then goes out. In again and out again. Carted around by affectionate girls, perhaps behaving a little over affectionately at times, hence the constant going out! 
Always kept well away from our ancient cat of 18, they do not get along and alas, the 18yo lacks in body size what she possesses in fighting spirit. To still have the very same cat in your thirties that you acquired when you were just a mere 17yo is a strange thing. She has been a constant part of our lives, that ancient cat. 

Do you have an outdoor sink? I managed to find our old bassinet frame and temporarily placed a tip-scrounged sink on it in the garden near the back door. How convenient for prepping vegetables without bringing all the mess inside! Plus, hosing them off couldn't be more satisfying. It sure beats fumbling around under the kitchen tap any day. There's also something so nice about walking in the back door with a bowl full of clean vegetables, like just coming in from the shop but so much better. A section of aggie pipe attached to the plug hole carries the water away to the root zone of nearby plants, not wasting a drop!

A new gardening hat!

Packham pear is in blossom for the first time. Fingers are crossed for a fruity appearance. 

Garlic is continuing to chug along nicely. Truly the low maintenance crop!

Much mulching has been happening here lately, fresh paths are so nice to walk on. 

Oma, if you're reading, this is your weeping blossom. It's so pretty! And the bees are all over it. 

I received an intriguing gift this week from a dear friend. A jar of kefir grains. I have fed it with a glass of room temperature milk and it has been culturing for 24 hours..time to strain and try.

..and make a new batch. Do you consume kefir? How do you like to use it? How often do you consume it? I am very, very interested to give it a try..

Is the wind blowing near you? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rummage Wrap-up

A few pics from the Suitcase Rummage yesterday...

I really love the building it is held in - the old Thornbury Theatre - it is such a beautiful piece of urban architecture.The feel of the event - people with wares spilling right out of their suitcases, live music performances on stage and good company all add to the experience. The organisers are also incredibly nice too!

After experiencing my first market stall, I found it to be a really fun experience! Both the crafting and organising at home beforehand and the actual time spent at the market on the day. With very reasonable hours of 11-4pm on a Sunday, it feels ridiculously civilised not having to rush in the morning, so nice for a night owl like me.

Interacting with people was so much fun, I really valued the feedback, positive comments and encouragement I received along with gaining an idea of what customers are interested in and what could be options for future stalls (yes, I am eager to do another!). Picking up a few little hints from other stalls was good too, there is always something new to learn.

Financially, I was pleased with how things went. I admit to going in with fairly low expectations and was pleasantly surprised, especially after hearing a few comments that it was quieter than the previous market. Having a tangible reward for your own handcrafted work that has been made with love and care is a wonderful feeling that is hard to put into words.

Having the 10yo with me was a nice touch. She had a couple of friends to talk to, courtesy of my friend Kirsty (queen of the rummage!), who's stall was next to me. Hosting her own section on the stall was fun for her too, as was spending her proceeds on chocolate chip treats! She definitely didn't need much dinner last night. ;)

All I can say is that now, afterwards,even though my backside is sore and my body is aching from sitting still all day (how can this be??), my head is spinning with new ideas of things to make and other areas to expand upon. Great stuff to digest over a bit of gardening work to get the muscles moving again..and to break in my new garden hat bought from the hat lady across from me who had gorgeous vintage fabric styles to choose from! Truly a dilemma to decide which one!

Go Handmade Markets! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

To market, to market..

My suitcases are packed and I'm eagerly looking forward to tomorrow and my first market stall! I will be participating in the Suitcase Rummage at the Thornbury theatre from 11am - 4pm.

It's a  lovely event and I'm so pleased that after it's initial success it will be continuing on.  I managed to hop down for a squiz for the first one and  knew this was definitely the kind of thing I wanted to be involved in - a gorgeous ball room full of vintage and handmade goodness being offered for sale right out of peoples' suitcases, all the while to a background of live music performances on stage. Who could resist? Not I, nope, uh-uh..

I will be offering items from my shop including a few new additions that are yet to be listed, while the middle one has decided to join in and has been busy crafting her origami delights. To be completely honest, I'm really looking forward to it as a day out! To sit and soak up some urban slow and lovely music with perhaps a little Christmas shopping on the side will be a real treat for me!

If you find yourself in the area, do pop in and say hi! I would love to see you. Entry is free and refreshments are available.

Maybe I'll be seeing you...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Primary School Show Day 2012

It was that time of year again - time for our daughters' primary school annual 'show day'. Held just like a real country show although on a much smaller scale, it's a fun way for the kids to finish up the end of term.

Country clothes are encouraged, as are entries into the floral and cake decorating displays. Let's not forget to mention the opportunity for them to bring along their pet/s from home for the ever popular pet parade on the oval. Not so many farm animals present this year, however I did spot a few chooks in the crowd. Dogs were definitely the pet of choice and there was much sniffing and leash pulling as the parade commenced...

It's nice to see that those with stuffed pets are included in the parade too...

As with previous years, I was interested to get inside and take a look at  the indoor exhibits and this year's entries did not disappoint...

Some keen competition took place between the children of my veggie grouping buddies...

Flirtatious Medusa?
The theme for this year's art displays was Scarecrows. I just love seeing junior school artwork and their interpretations on the theme..

Well done to the 10yo for her recognition in the cake decorating - 1st place in her level for the student choice awards and a highly commended from the official CWA  judge!

The turtle design she decided on was incredibly simple however I was quite puzzled when I saw her cutting a circle out of her square shaped cake....would baking it in a round tin not have been easier?
Apparently not, one does not get to carve the shape of the turtle shell that way.

Ahhhh, I see. 

Happy weekend and happy spring holidays, people! 

Previous show days can be read about on the links below: 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Woolly Monday

Late last week I finished making a tea cosy I had been working on in the evenings. Having a deadline in the way of a group of veggie gardening women arriving at ones house is the best kind of deadline to have, in my opinion. I desperately wanted to finish it before it was my turn to host the group and I'm pleased to say that I just scraped it in..with a late night sewing in session the night before.

I've never had a flowery tea cosy, nor a lined one either for that matter. After stealthily inspecting a few tea cosies on my travels and pouring over several vintage patterns, I knew that lining was definitely the way to go. Anything to keep the tea hot for longer, yes? A drawstring at the top was a must too, for one must be able to check the level of the pot without removing the whole cover.

It was also my first time making a twisted cord. What fun! Having the middle daughter holding the end onto  a doorknob while I inserted a pencil in the other end and twisted and twisted the lengths until they doubled back on themselves. Magic!

I think it's rather fitting to have a flowery tea cosy to place on the table at this time of year, don't you? And it really does keep tea hot for longer!

The body was knit in Bendigo Woollen Mills 8 ply wool in a basket weave stitch while the flowers were created by following the directions from this book.  The lining was knit in garter stitch. Handspun/hand dyed scraps were used for the flowers and I relented and crocheted the centre of the daffodil as knitting it on four toothpick sized needles just wasn't happening for me.

There is just something about the ceremony of sitting down to tea, isn't there? It forces one to stop and breath in a moment or two of calm before resuming the busyness of the day once again.

Have a woolly project to share, either finished or in the making? Tell me, I would love to hear!
Feel free to link to your project in the comments section. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Around here

Around here the weather has been crazy. Ferocious winds after heavy rain saw some serious damage in our area. A poor man lost his life after colliding with a tree one howling night last week. We thought we had gotten off easy this time around but with several years of drought and then a La Nina cycle, the trees literally have nothing to keep them in the ground. Pitiful root balls coupled with soggy ground and the notorious gum trees are bound to drop. And that they did. Three of them in the space of a week.

Our neighbour refers to them as Widow Makers and I am tending to agree with him. How frightening to think that these trees fell on the exact path that I walk daily to tend to the goats. How ridiculous it feels to be scared of trees! How worrying it is to look around our property and note the soggy patches of ground and then look up and see a tree leaning on a precarious angle.....

Feeling very glad that we hadn't fixed the goat fence after all. And there is always a good side, right? Hubby remarked that at least we don't have a firewood issue. And there are loads of lovely offerings for our chiminea.  Yep, lots of stoking of fires to be had here in the coming months.

Onto brighter matters, the eucalyptus dye experiment was a lot of fun! It's amazing to see what colours can come from nature. I'm still pondering over what to do with the two skeins of yarn I've dyed with the leaves. One is a commercial yarn and the other is some handspun alpaca.

Our chookies are going well and are enjoying getting out into their day run. Their eggs continue to delight! As do their pom-pom heads, oh yes, how could anyone resist those?

Currant cuttings from a friend are also going well and I'm interested to see just when we will enjoy our first crop. Eggs are coming as fast as we can eat them, five a day is really plenty for us!

My week rounded off nicely with Veggie Group here. After a serious few weeks of nasty weather and sicknesses within the group, it was nice to reconnect again. I was totally impressed when I listened to a podcast this morning featuring two of my veggie group buddies, Kirsty and Melanie on RRR radio being interviewed about our group. If you are interested in listening to the interview too, it is under 'Dirty Deeds' on the RRR podcasts. I can't quite figure out how to link to it here!

Wishing you a lovely weekend! x

Monday, September 10, 2012

Woodfired weekend

The focus on this weekend was without a doubt, fire. To be more exact, cooking with it. I am just loving our new chiminea, the way it's so portable, the way it splits in two for dual purposes and the way it warms! Not to mention the way it gobbles up fallen branches on our property with greed..this has to be the best incentive to get out there and tidy up the never ending supply of kindling we have dropping from the enormous gum trees!

It also makes a pretty good toasted sandwich, too!

Not one to miss out on the fire action of the weekend, hubby felt inclined to go and light himself a man fire. Efficient as our chiminea is at throwing out the heat, there is no way it could cope with the generous amounts of fallen bark and branches we have.

The little chimney warmer also managed to provide us with a couple of loaves of hearty bread this weekend.
I made up a double batch of 7 grain kibble sourdough, formed one into a free-form loaf, the other into a loaf tin and baked them on the bbq rack with the chimney in place. It was great because I could keep an eye on them as they were cooking. The daughter's swimming goggles came in most useful for peering over the smoky opening..what a sight! Triple traying seems to be the go - 3 pizza trays stacked together for the free form loaf and two stacked with the loaf tin. To prevent bottom burning, it's hot in there! ;)

Tandoori chicken skewers made with homemade yoghurt were attempted for dinner. Very tasty! Although I can see why the book I had skewered a lemon half onto the bottom of each skewer - a very good heat buffer. We had to pick our bottom bits off, they were ..ah, slightly blackened.

A homemade eucalyptus dye pot experiment..

So inspired was I by the glorious offerings of our chiminea, I decided to crank up our woodfired oven the following day..

After a completely exhausting day the twelve year old and I had baked enough food for a week..literally.

It was such a sunshiney, springy day without a breath of wind, perfect for such a woodfired bake-off!

Our efforts produced (in order of cooking, with fire in the oven throughout):
Vegemite scrolls (note to self - next time do a double batch as they were eaten straight away)
Roast leg of lamb
Spinach, bacon and egg filo pie
chocolate chip cookies
baked meatballs in napoli sauce
slow cooked boston baked beans
orange cake x 2
tray of roast vegetables
apple pie (note to self, put this in earlier, base needed more cooking)

It was a lot of work but it feels great that our cooking is now done for the week..all without the use of any electricity!

I'm looking forward to pulling out our woodfired meals as the week progresses. The only hard part is deciding just what to have, when!

Hoping you managed to soak up a little sun, fire and good food on your weekend.  :)

(Thanks for your tips on the fair isle knitting! I will be coming back to this post to follow your links, they are much appreciated)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fair Isle Beanie

After borrowing a fair isle book from spinning group recently I found myself becoming fascinated with the use of colour in knitting. Pouring over the pages late at night, from baby hats to cardigans, mittens and so on, there just seemed to be so many options. I had to give it a try!

After another late night session trawling through the patterns on ravelry, I settled on this one. I really liked the design and as a bonus, it also happened to be free. Plus, I actually had the required yarn in my stash, some leftover white 4 ply, a ball of op-shopped vintage light blue 4 ply and a ball of handspun and hand dyed dark blue! It seemed there was no excuse not to start knitting.

Being my first ever project with such frequent colour changes, I found following the pattern from a chart to be surprisingly uncomplicated. I did however struggle with my tension, pulling it too tight for the first half of the beanie, then correcting it (somewhat) once I hit the crown. The result? A good (very good) fit around the ears..oh yeah, this baby won't be blowing off in the wind! I also would've preferred a thicker yarn for the white, but didn't want to change once I was into the project. 

I found knitting the hat incredibly time consuming, changing colours every 1st, 2nd or 3rd stitch. There surely has to be an easier way to hold the yarns together to save all that picking up and letting go? Please share if you know the trick!

I would love to try this hat in a different colour combination..maybe reds with a little handspun brown and white. Or green, brown and white! Once again, I find myself back to The Options!

Linking up with the lovely Linda today.

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