Snap Happy Weekend

14 Nov

I love many things – but I’m never super passionate about any one thing for any great length of time.

It’s one of my best faults.

On the upside it means I’m forever looking for potential new interests in the hope that one day…. I’ll find my true love.

For quite a while photography was a real contender. But like many other previous endeavours, it too gradually faded into the background. (Replaced by my latest love – crochet)

But this weekend a comeback was staged. Perhaps it was the sunny Melbourne weather. Maybe I have some kind of undiagnosed craft related seasonal disorder – who knows.

With sunlight so bright I couldn’t help but squint, I spent Saturday morning wandering around our backyard – finding pure joy in snapping away at all of the beautiful growing that’s going on this time of year.

We visited the Dandenong Show that afternoon where I found myself looking through the lens with a new sense of purpose.

Sunday’s activities – the annual Sheltie Day in Somerville didn’t require any motivation on my part at all! Not surprisingly, the one thing that guarantees never-ending snap happiness for me is shelties running around having a grand ol’ time. So much cuteness.

I’m really hoping the photography flame has been reignited. I love the way taking pictures makes me look for the little things I’d otherwise miss. And it’s especially good timing seeing as my little nephew is due any day now!!! I’m pretty sure there’s an abundance of cuteness just around the corner. Good times.

* Photos taken using a Canon 450D.

* Photo editing performed using Picnik – my new favourite online application – check it out at www.picnik.com

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Love your Local

29 Oct

Ok, this might not be as much of a revelation to some as it will be to others – but it was definitely a revelation for me.

My local library is incredible. Seriously.

If this post results in one person getting out there and exploring their local library I will be a happy lady.

For me, the craft section alone is worth the trip. There’s a tonne of  books showcasing an amazing array of activities, all that I can delve into at my leisure without parting with a single coin.

(That is unless I return them late – but so far so good. Must be a grown up thing. Years ago there were times I couldn’t afford to go the library because I didn’t have the money to pay the overdue fines – thank goodness for the after hours “book chute of shame”!)

I’ve often driven past my local library and thought it was a tiny little place that surely couldn’t have much that would interest me. How wrong I was!

It turns out my local  is part of the Eastern Regional Libraries group. Might not sound like exciting stuff but it is.

It means  I can go online and have access to all the books, cds, and dvds that exist at 13 branches plus 3 mobile libraries!

That’s a lot of borrowable material.

You search for the books you want on the website, put them on hold and they then deliver them to the library of your choice – free of charge! Fantastic value.

Today’s haul included

  • a book on fruit trees for my fruit tree obsessed other half
  • a book on slow cooking for my 36 week pregnant sister who’s planning to slow cook then freeze her little heart out for the next few weeks.
  • a stand mixer cookbook – for me!
  • at least half a dozen craft related books – also for me!
  • season 4 of Mad Men
  • season 3 of Food Safari
  • and 5 audio CD’s

Pretty good for just half an hour of my saturday morning.

Not to mention the bonus rush that I used to get buying books – without the guilt!

It’s win/win all round.

On a serious note, with so much  day to day activity like shopping and socialising now occuring online it’s a wonder some people leave the house at all!

Despite this, the local library has obviously moved with the times – and is thriving! In addition to the convenience of being able to reserve and renew books online, the library also provides a great range of services in-house.  I already look forward to taking my soon to be born nephew to visit the childrens section of the library – it’s just gorgeous. With story time for the youngsters, book chat for the adults and even gardening and photography classes the library really does have something for everyone.

Love your local library – it’s a fantastic community resource that everyone can enjoy – and it costs nothing. Quite a rarity in this day and age.

Crochet Little shoes – Take Two

16 Oct

Not wanting to be defeated by my (oversized) first attempt at crocheted booties – I’ve had another crack at it.

Still after something slightly modern looking, I found this pattern online – cute aren’t they. Like little mini sneakers!

I don’t tolerate lengthy projects well.

I’m a great starter. Completely gung ho. The finishing bit I struggle with.

But I found this pattern do-able in one lunch break plus a couple of hours after work which suited me perfectly.

Ta da!

Only one slight problem – there’s no heel. I’m really hoping my nephew has heels – two of them actually.

My search for cute and modern, well fitting booties continues.

Big Booties

1 Oct

My love for crochet continues. (I may even buy the t-shirt)

In the interests of furthering my skills I took a break from my granny square rug this week and went in search of a crochet bootie pattern. With roughly 8 weeks to go till my nephew arrives it’s time to get cracking.

I think my father saw this coming.

When I first started learning this new craft my Dad decreed at the outset – no grandson of his will ever be made to wear anything crocheted.

But booties are just so cute! Maybe he won’t notice.

Look over over there Dad while I sneak a pair on the little guy.

After a bit of online searching I found a suitable looking pattern. I pretty much understood what they were on about and felt reasonably confident in giving it a go.

Martha Stewart Crochet Baby Booties

But not all booties are created equal. I wish the picture or pattern had something to indicate the actual size for those like me who only skim read instructions. (Note – instructions clearly outline that the booties are 4 inches in length – good for a newborn bigfoot perhaps)

Half way through crocheting the sole it became apparent that at a stretch these booties could almost fit me! Not really the size I was going for. Big booties might be popular in modern day film clips but not on your average newborn.

So I decided to unravel my work and start again – still following the pattern but halving the recommended number of stitches. Not actually sure if this is something you’re supposed to be able to do with a crochet pattern but oh well!

I’ve heard people say they just ‘whipped up’ a pair of booties like that! Took me one evening on the couch to complete one, which for my first attempt I didn’t think was too bad.

Only problem is – it’s still waaaay too big. Here’s another shot – indicating the size it ended up.

I’m a realist.

I know I’m only going to get away with dressing him in crochet booties while he’s a a newborn and has no say in it (and while Dad is distracted). I tried this particular bootie on a friend’s 1 year old – it was a little on the big side even for him. *sigh*

So it’s back to the drawing board. I’ve narrowed my google search and looked for a pattern specifically for newborn booties and found this – Sweet potato booties.

On the plus side I’ve thoroughly read the instructions this time and at least I’ve had some practice!

Granny Squares – not just for your nanna

18 Sep

About two years ago I taught myself to knit watching YouTube videos. It was a reasonably successful venture – I learnt to cast-on, knit, pearl and cast off. I’ve since knitted two scarves, and one beanie. The beanie was a complete fluke. I’ve tried to knit the same pattern a second time and it was a dismal failure. I’ve begrudgingly accepted that I’m never going to be a natural at this knitting business.

* I say pattern like I can actually read patterns – hah – reading anything like patterns, music or recipes (thoroughly) has always been a bit beyond me.

I currently have a couple of craft related stumbling blocks. I love wool, but I can’t really knit. I love fabric – but I can’t really sew.

It’s quite frustrating.

So I decided to bite the bullet and do a proper course – Spotlight’s 4 week introduction to crochet!

The idea of attending an actual course appealed to me for a few reasons. I jump at any opportunity to learn something new especially if it involves making stuff. And though I’ve never been to one, something about ‘stitch n bitch’ nights really appeals – in a gossipy getting together with your girlfriends type way. I hoped that this course might be a bit like that.

I wasn’t disappointed.

At times I think there’s more laughs than learning going on but that works out just fine. The class has a really casual atmosphere where everyone learns at their own pace. Our teacher Josette is lovely and obviously very good at teaching crochet to all levels.

One thing I’ve found particularly appealing is that when you stuff up a stitch (as I’m currently inclined to do fairly often) it’s relatively easy to fix! If I drop a stitch knitting it normally involves undoing a heap of rows and then struggling to get all the stitches back on the needle the right way. The only projects I could ever really finish were the ones where I didn’t make any mistakes. Doesn’t happen all that often – no surprises there!

I think I can safely say I’ve found my crafty niche. Crochet seems to be something I’m reasonably ok at. The concepts and stitches themselves have been easy to grasp – and my crochet projects subsequently very hard to put down! I’ve started taking my crochet to family dinners and weekend bbqs. I crochet during my lunch break at work. It’s bordering on obsession at the moment.

Outside of class can be a little lonely though – crochet is surprisingly unpopular in my usual social circles. I’ve certainly copped a bit of friendly ribbing from my nearest and dearest – but I don’t care! I’m having fun and making things and that’s what counts. Plus there’s always next term. My current classmates and I have already decided to sign up for the same class a second time – for the learning and the social aspect.

Us crocheter’s have to stick together!

Here’s a shot of my current crafty work in progress – the good ol’ fashioned granny square. I’ve used colours I hoped would give it a bit of a modern feel. Not everyone I’ve spoken to thinks these colours actually go together but it was the best I could come up with in the 10 minutes after class before Spotlight closed. At the very least it will certainly be bright and cheery!

The Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book – an old favourite is back – again!!

10 Sep

I can’t say I remember many of the cook books around the place when I was growing up. I’m sure there were some. I vaguely recall a Margaret Fulton Microwave Cookbook. Perhaps because when we first got a microwave sometime in the mid 80’s it was a super big deal! I recall all the grown-ups being very  impressed (if a little apprehensive) in the presence of this Jetsons- like advance in cooking technology.

But ask anyone of that era about the ‘book with a train cake on the front’ and they’ll know exactly which book you’re talking about.

This book rocked the 80’s birthday party. The publishing details show this book has been reprinted 15 times since its first edition back in 1980 – twice just this year! I love that something so classic is still so popular.

I remember pouring over this book, having lengthy discussions with my cousins.

Which was the best cake?

If it was my birthday right now which cake would I want?

Lucky for us we had an adventurous lady in our lives who actually made these dreams come true!

(Thanks Auntie Beverley Joy-Bells! – so many good memories)

This caterpillar cake was so loved it got its own poster!

It’s interesting to note, my taste in birthday cakes haven’t changed – I still think the swimming pool is the best!

I wondered who these guys were at first – I sure don’t remember them. But then I noticed in the fine print that a few newbies have been included. I don’t mind the echidna – he might even be a new favourite. He sure looks yummy.

I’m going to be an aunt myself at the end of this year – which is something I am massively excited about!

My Auntie Bev certainly set the  bar high – I may have to get practising and make a few of these cakes on a trial run basis. Any takers for taste testing?!

Lemon Cordial – Made by Mavis

31 Aug

I set out to write a post about Leonard – our Lemon Tree. I’ve been feeling a bit neglectful lately. We get a so much fruit from our beautiful Meyer Lemon tree each year. Sadly the majority seems to go to waste.

Cooking,Cleaning, Cleansing – Lemon does it all.  I wanted to demonstrate all the ways I could get the most out of this fruit of many talents.

But instead I found myself just making batches of Lemon cordial and thinking a lot about someone very dear to me.

Mavis and Jeff

My Grandparents - Mavis and Jeff

Mavis is my paternal grandmother but she’s always been much more than just that.

My Gran was in her 50’s when she found herself looking after my little sister and I nearly full-time.  It’s only now that I can appreciate how much work that must have been for her.  (Spending time with my friend’s children has shown me how amazing and yet totally exhausting it is to look after the youngsters!)

She taught me how to make a bed properly (including hospital corners), and how to recite my name, address and phone number to someone if ever I found myself lost. She taught me the importance of good manners. She made jelly cakes, helped me with my homework and passed on to me her love of Shetland Sheepdogs.

She made lemon cordial – sour but sweet, yummy lemon cordial.

It wasn’t all cupcakes and lemon drops – (though bless her she did always have lemon sherbies in the pantry) My Gran took great pride in telling people that she didn’t spoil her grandkids! A strict but loving Gran – I will be forever grateful to her for taking such good care of us.

My Gran turned 83 this week.  In recent years she has learnt to email, text and use a digital camera. Perhaps looking after her grandkids helped in some way to keep her young!  I hope so, after all she did for us it would be the least we could do!

 

Happy Birthday Gran –Thanks so much for everything xo

Lemon Cordial (Made by Mavis)

Ingredients

  • Juice of 7 Lemons
  • Zested rind of 3 Lemons
  • 4 pounds Sugar
  • 2 ounces Citric Acid
  • 1 ounce Titaric Acid
  • 1 ounce Epsom Salts
  • 3 pints boiling water
  • M&M’s not actually required – but jeez they were nice!

Makes approimately 3 litres of cordial concentrate.

Method

  • Juice the 7 lemons

  • Zest the rind of 3 lemons

  • Combine the lemon juice, zested lemon rind, citric acid, tartaric acid and epsom salts in a large saucepan
  • Add the sugar

  • Add the boiling water and stir until disolved
  • Have a little rest while the mixture cools

  • Once cooled, the mixture can be funneled into bottles and stored in the pantry

Tip –  there’s two types of people in this world – those that like the bits and those that don’t.  If you’re one of those people that doesn’t I suggest sieving the liquid at this point to remove any pulp. For the record – I think the lemony bits make the drink!

  • Add 1 part cordial to 4 parts water when mixing the lemon cordial to drink. For a fizzy change mix with mineral water – so refreshing!

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