Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My sense of rhythm is incontrovertibly shite

Firstly, an apology. A series of events in the last couple of weeks (which fairly did my head in) led me to put myself on an internet diet, and I am currently limiting myself to half an hour a night.

And it's great. I'm less stressed, spending more time outside, cooking more, seeing more of my lovely friends in real life. The downside, of course, is that I only get through about four blogs per night before I hit the "mark all read" button. Hence the apology - I have not been blogging or commenting on blogs, and I doubt it will change anytime soon. Please don't take this as being a sign that I don't still love you.

Quickly, before my time is up...

* I love my job - I'm rather enamoured with the subject matter and the fact I finally get to use that geography honours degree I got 18 years ago. The bus commute still sucks, but it's also the only time I'm crocheting these days, so that's a good thing. Do I miss being at home, sewing all day and being my own boss? Absolutely. But I'm enjoying the company, the weekly pay cheque and challenge of working 38 hours a week without a snooze in the middle of the day.

* I spent time with my friend and her family on Sunday, and dropped in to visit her neighbour's garden on the way home. Gloria loaded up my bike basket with Seville Oranges so I could make marmalade. I've never made marmalade, or indeed any jam before. My mother, though, is a fantastic rosella, cumquat, pink grapefruit and lemon jam/marmalade maker so I hoped that it might run in the genes, like the sewing/crochet thing (unfortunately I missed out on the blonde hair/blue eyes/skinny thing). A night of soaking and a night of cooking, and it was done. It tastes great, and I can now say I'm a jam maker. A few bottles are going to my friends (and Gloria), and one to mum and dad when they come to visit.

Seville orange marmalade

* The vegetable patch has become a a huge addiction. We finished the irrigation system on the weekend, I planted the first lot of my potatoes, and I'm looking forward to a bumper strawberry crop. Our apple trees are fruiting, but the nectarine is going to let us down this year due to the strong winds and a bad case of curly leaf. I check it every morning on the way to work, and every afternoon when I get home. The gardener (Mr QM) does most of the work though. I mostly get to plant it and cook it.

* We had lots of spinach this spring and I'm trying to find inventive ways to use it. We're a bit over spinach and mushroom risotto, so this weekend I made spinach and fetta pie (in vintage Agee Pyrex, of course).

Spinach and fetta pie

(I would have taken a photo of a slice of it, but we ate it too fast)

* Thanks so much for the nice comments on the new sox box. That first one was Kylie's birthday present but I want to make heaps more - maybe this weekend, using the gorgeous fabric I got on Monday. I also have some sewing to do for me - now I'm back at work I need some new clothes.

* Last night we had the most fantastic dinner with some friends who were visiting from Queensland. It was so nice to catch up and we laughed and laughed and laughed. Good Vietnamese food helped of course, but the company was the highlight.

* There is nothing better than going to sleep at night with a new pillow, fresh sheets, and the sound of frogs croaking a (very loud) lullaby.

* The new Kate Miller-Heidke album (where the title of this post comes from) is brilliant.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good reds

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!


It was one of those days. The kind of day when nothing went right - it was so, so cold and windy when I walked into work this morning; I made a slight mistake at work, and I (needlessly I might add) felt like a fool; someone made me very angry by dissing a group of people I hold dear to my heart; Princess Grace cried the moment her Tante Michelle said hello (kidding, G!); and then I got to my hair appointment half an hour early to discover that:

a) Cassidy's next door is NOT having a yarn sale at the moment. I was so sure they would be!
b) I'd left my crochet at work, meaning I had nothing to do while waiting the 30 minutes for my hairdresser
c) I'd also somehow left my handbag, wallet and $200 at work as well, meaning I couldn't pay for my haircut or the Turkish food I was going to pick up on the way home.

Fortunately the hairdresser let me off without paying until tomorrow (and so they should - I've been going there for 11 years), I managed to get back to work and get my stuff while my pass still worked, and I got the promised takeaway home by 7.30.

And then it was a night of lovely food, a quick sing at choir with my lovely friends, and home for a beer in front of "The Amazing Race".

In the meantime I've reminded myself that this stuff? The mean reds? They're just small stuff.

These, on the other hand, are good reds. I don't need Tiffany's with these reds in my life.

Wollmeise crocheted sock

A box for socks

American Beauty

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nature's shadows fall, marking her vanishing points

* I have nothing to say, which is why I'm not on my blog or yours much these days.

* I've been sewing a little. I'm slowly coming up with a bag that's been in my head for three months. So far I'm onto prototype number four. Geometry is not my forte, obviously. These here are numbers two and three.

A box for socks Box bag - prototype #3

* I updated the shop tonight. My aim is to keep doing tiny updates as I make stuff, so the shop is always stocked. Well, that's my aim.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This is ... my current reading list

This is ... my current reading list

I used to be an avid novel reader, but late last year I noticed that all the novels I was reading were really depressing me, were very self-indulgent. Where do these self-indulgent characters come from? And why do authors think that such a character would appeal to people? I'm all for character flaws (after all, no one is perfect, even in literature) but novel after novel had these same selfish characters, so I stopped reading novels for a while.

That's a very long-winded way of explaining the lack of fiction on my bedside table.

I'm not fussy with what I read in bed (and bed is the only time I read these days), and yes, I do read cook books. So from top to bottom:

'In Defence of Food' by Michael Pollan. I read the first and last sections of this book. The last section on foods we should be eating is brilliant, and the whole reason I bought the book. The rest wasn't an easy read, but I've kept it on the reading list as I want to go back and read the middle section.

'Affluenza' by Oliver James. I read a lot about this book in other books and articles on sustainability, and thought I should go back to the source. I haven't started it yet but will be tonight.

Mixtapezine. The first issue. I keep going back to Mixtapezine and read them time and time again. The stories never get old. Brilliant. If you're not currently subscribing, why not? You're missing out!

More Softies. I love these softies books. I have the first one in this series (which I seem to have misplaced - I'll have to search for it) and the Therese Laskey one as well. I haven't made anything from any of them! Hopeless. But they are a lovely read, and I go to sleep dreaming of stuffed sausage dogs and robots.

Burda World of Fashion. I can't afford these magazines at $15 a pop, and I'd rather get the twice -yearly plus-size editions. But this one was on special at the newsagents for $8 so I just had to grab it. It's a lovely magazine.

'Jamie at Home' by Jamie Oliver. Probably my favourite Jamie book, combining my love of gardening with my love of cooking. With all the fresh spring and early-summer produce coming up in our garden and at the markets, this book is proving it's worth when I'm doing my weekly menu plan.

Pyrex: The Unauthorized Collectors' Guide by Barbara Mauzy. Really only interesting for vintage Pyrex nerds like me. For more online information, you should go to Pyrex Love run by my friend Linda and her lovely husband Bryan (I take solace in the fact they have much more vintage Pyrex than I do).

Thanks to My Champagne Dreams for the theme this week, and welcome back to Three Buttons!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old lock, old door, old yard, overgrown

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Lilac at sunset

On beautiful days like the one we had today, the sun seems to take that little bit longer to set, almost as if he's reluctant to get his toes dusty in the great western lands.

First BBQ of spring

Tonight we celebrated spring properly with a barbeque of the best food that the Canberra region has to offer. How lucky am I to live here?


I live with sunsets like these, and with a garden that immerses me and makes me lose track of time. I love and am loved, and I live a happy life.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

FO: Wollmeise crocheted socks

I'm such a silly chook. All those lessons on destressing and zen and calmness I learnt in the last four months totally unlearned over a weekend. Stressing over crafting? Heavens! And of course I can (and do) crochet on the bus (however Sunnyboys are hard to make on the bus - the lack of power for a sewing machine, you see).

Today I left work at 4.40 pm and walked in the front door at home at 5.30, calm and with a clear mind. In that time I managed 9 rows of sock, and when I arrived home I realised I was all done with these socks bar the ribbing. So an hour later ...

Wollmeise crocheted socks

Pattern: Pebbled Sand by Janet Rehfeldt from Crocheted Socks

Yarn: Wollmeise 100% wool in Sonne

Wollmeise crocheted socks

Hook: The usual - 4 mm bamboo.

Notes: Oh Janet. I just don't think you can write a good pattern! Four socks I've now made with this pattern, and each time I end up with extra stitches to pick up on one side of the short row heel. I cope and fudge, but this pattern should be so much better. But having now worked out all the quirks in this pattern, I'd make this one again fer shiz.

Time: Started September 22, finished October 8. Not bad. I'm on target for 5 pairs by the end of SSoS, so here's hoping.

Wollmeise crocheted socks

P.S. Shop news - given the Ausssie dollar went completely bonkers overnight, I figured it was obscene to charge you guys $17.50 USD for a sunnyboy and make a huge profit in the conversion back to AUD, even with the exorbitant paypal fees I suffer. So I've dropped the sunnyboys (only) to $16 USD for the time being. I figured it's the fairest thing to do. I haven't dropped prices on the other things because the profit I make on them is measly, so consider those to have had a quasi-price rise (if you pay in AUD, that is). I may come unstuck when it comes to buying new fabrics from fellow Aussies on Etsy who haven't dropped their prices yet, but I'll tackle that issue when I come to it. At the moment I still have a little fabric in stock to use for the bags.

And I'm really sorry (because I've had people complain to me before about it), but Etsy charges in USD only. As an Australian I have no say in the matter. I would love to charge in Aussie dollars. I like Etsy - the fees are fair, the community is strong and their feedback facility is a must-have in my opinion, and I'm just not interested in moving my stuff over to It's extra work for me, but I'm happy to just keep adjusting the prices until our dollar decides what it really wants to do.

(If I continue feeling this calm and zen-like, I might be able to rustle up a mini-update on the weekend.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A frog went a-courtin'

First day at work and I'm completely buggered. Thank heavens I had the foresight to plan for leftovers for tea tonight. We also had two frogs on hand, and some green jelly - what else to do but Frog in a Pond (with snowballs). Delicious, but I'm feeling a little ill right now.

I've been giving something a lot of thought lately, and I'm worried about keeping shop updated much, if at all. Until I can get my routine of a long commute (it's an hour and a half per day of sitting on or waiting for a bus), eight hours of work, and then the cooking, gardening and exercising in order, I don't when there will be enough time to dedicate to Buttontree Lane in the next few weeks.

I'm very sad about this, and I'll try really hard to fix it but I've been doing the maths, and did you know that 24 - 7 (sleep) - 8 (work) - 1.5 (commute) only leaves 7 1/2 hours?!? That's nuts.

At least the pay is better now! Bright side!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

This is ... my favourite kitchen thing

It's been a while since I participated in "This is ...". I needed a break from having to exercise my brain every Sunday, and well, I just got lazy.

My kitchen is close to my heart (and my belly). I think I sometimes do my best work in amongst it's vile yellow cupboards and it's 1972 oven and barely-working stove. When it comes to gadgets, I had to think long and hard about it - I could have shown you my coffee grinder (not used since my
stomach decided it could no longer abide home-brewed coffee)*, or my hand held beaters with the dough kneading attachment, or the food processor which almost killed me one day when the lid flew off while it was in action (although really, Killer, as I've christened it, cannot be classified as a favourite thing at all).

One of the only things I absolutely have a hankering for these days is tea. I have a few tea pots, and assorted gadgets collected over the years to enable easy tea making.

There's this - the Dutch Tea Strainer (although every Dutch person I know has no idea why this tea strainer is called Dutch). It's very handy and much less drippy than using a conventional tea strainer.

Dutch tea strainer

Then there's my multiple tea infusers, handy for work when you don't feel up to coping with a soggy bag of Lipton's. Mr QM calls this "Snapper Tea".

Snapper tea

And then there's this - my absolute favourite. It's a vintage Pyrex tea pot I picked up a few months ago for a couple of dollars at an op shop. It's not often that the same item will appear in two different "This is ..." posts!

Pyrex tea pot

It even has it's tea infuser, which many don't have anymore. The best thing is it makes the BEST tea. Hot, and strong, but not at all bitter. And it looks so bloody good at the same time. You just can't beat that design. And the added bonus? No drips!

* It should be noted that yesterday, however, while spending a lovely yarny afternoon with some lovely people at a cafe, I had not one, but two strong lattes. They were lovely, although they did make me shake something awful. Which didn't help at all when a drunk teenager rammed the back of my car (no injuries, not much damage) on the way home. As if I wasn't shaky enough. Sheesh.

Edited to add: I'M FINE! STOP WORRYING! And the car bumper only has some chips on it, so it'll be fine too. My life isn't that bad, is it? The comments make me think it's just one disaster after another, and it's not, I'm sure of it. Concentrate on the teapot and tell me how pretty it is! ;-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bustin' out

Mini pouch, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

I've had this idea for a mini-pouch in my head for about four months now. This is just the basic prototype to check how the boxed bottom goes with the quilted fabric, but it will eventually have a strap just big enough to hang on the back of the dunny door at work or at the shops. You know. So you can put your lippy and girly 'accessories' in it, and hang it on the back of the door, and it'll be all clean and lovely.

Or your could just use it for your dpns. Or your iPod.

Anyway, it's funny how the day I finally get the idea out my head and onto the sewing machine is the day I land myself a full-time contracting job.

I start Tuesday. That gives me four days to get everything done that I haven't done in the last four months.

So rather that doing Cathy's Blogtoberfest with everyone else, I'll be staying right away from the computer and doing stuff.

I'll be seein' ya!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Birthday goodies

My creation

As promised, here are the photos of some of the crafty goodies I got for my birthday. Mr QM got me the Amy Butler book after
Thornberry told me it was more advanced than the Lotta Jansdottir book I already had. So now I have both. So lucky. And you know me - you can never go wrong giving me a Sublime Stitching book (thanks mum and dad). The gorgeous yarn is from Bec and Georgie, and the stunning Kirsten Doran fabric was an inspired gift from Bells. My friend Helen in Melbourne sent me a sketch book. It's brilliant - beautiful paper, hard cover, and all the pages open out really well. I can't wait to start plotting some designs in there.

And lastly, I had to include the Bison milk bottle, even though it's not crafty. It is hand crafted though. For years I've been buying all my friends and family Bison goodies, and yet I never had a piece of my own. Mr QM fixed that, bless his cotton socks. It's just beautiful, and the perfect gift. And here endeth the birthday show and tell!

Vintage aprons

I recently started, and stopped, a vintage apron collection. The collection stands at three, and faced with the reality that I will never wear these beauties, I've decided to list them in my Etsy store. I reckon somone else will get a kick out of them!