Sunday, November 30, 2008

Viva Bris Vegas

This weekend I left Mr QM to his tomato stakes and irrigation dilemmas and escaped to Queensland for a short visit.

There was beautful food, good company, and lots of cuddles from the Aunty Chelle Admiration Society (est. 2006; 1 member).

A little cross-country toy drop happened today - details to appear soon! In Paddington, QLD ...

Little Owl drop

... and Ainslie, ACT.

Petal Snooty Bird drop

And yet there is still no shop update to report. The good news is that my back is finally starting to feel better. The bad news is I can't find my sewing table.

Sewing room

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flowers grow but they need rain

It's been raining for 2 days

It's been a wet, blustery, cold weekend here in Upper Downer. It's been so cold I had to find my winter woolies, and the heater has been in use since yesterday morning.

Today is the day the Canadians arrive. Eh. Can't wait! We were going to have a barbie tonight, but we all agreed on the phone last night that it might be a tad, eh, frigid. So something hot, meaty and baked is on the menu for tonight. Sharing fresh cherries for dessert from a bowl on the table might just be replaced by something hot, fruity and baked. With icecream. Mmm. And cinnamon.

Christmas planning is in partial-swing here at Casa QM. For the first year ever, we are spending the Christmas holiday, just the two of us, here in Canberra. I suspect the thought of travelling so far in either direction to our respective families was starting to wear thin. 14 years of thin. It's a lovely time of the year to be in Canberra, so we are making the most of it. And not having to drive either 700 km in one direction or 1400 km in the other direction is rather lovely and is making Christmas very stress free. We have no idea if we will even feel like having a special Christmas lunch, but there will be midnight service on Christmas Eve for both of us, and a box each of Koko Black chocolates to savour in front of the Boxing Day Test.

So, back to the Christmas planning. We only have a few people to buy presents for, but I am so totally over the shopping malls. I'm sick and tired of the commercialism and the excess and the tinny Christmas music. I love Christmas carols - so why do the malls have to make them sound crap? This year I've taken the handmade pledge. I am also resolving to be a Christmas gift locavore, so there will be numerous bottles of local wine gifted. And there may be a
goat or a duck or sewing lessons gifted on behalf of the recipients.

I headed off through the rain to the Handmade Market yesterday. It was wonderful and very inspiring, if not so packed you couldn't move easily from one table to the next (and I was a cranky pants yesterday, so was guilty of telling three girls who decided to stop for a length chat right in front of a very popular stall to move it along and stop blocking the way.) But the good news is I bought a few gifts, including a
Florence Broadhurst canvas as a gift to ourselves for the spare room.

Spare bedroom

PS. In case you're wondering, work on updating the
shop came to a halt due to mechanical failure (i.e. me). There may be an update later this week, but if you were wanting to busy something your best bet would be to put the shop in your blog reader and it will tell you when the shop has been updated.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oh boy

Oh boy. I am so NOT in the mood for blogging at the moment.

But it's a beautiful day here in the nation's capital. The day started with sixteen laps at the pool early this morning - and at one stage Julie and I noticed the time, added on a couple of hours and worked out that our usual swimming partner Susan would be diving in Fiji at that very moment. We were crushed with jealousy, so I swam a few more laps and pretended that there was a lovely Fijian man swimming in the coral beneath us, pointing out the fish and the rays and the little sharks. Just like it was for us in May last year.

The chlorinated water is still on my skin (I'm pretending it's salt). But I'm still not in Fiji with Susan ...


Sewing news:

I made three sunnyboys for Susan to take to Fiji as gifts, and in doing so I found a way of using the reversible fabric that
Ruth bought me in Japan.Sunnyboys for Fiji

And given Mr QM has just gone out, leaving me free to sew (rather than nagging me to do stuff in the garden) I'm going to make some more sunnyboys this afternoon. Hooray!

Crochet news:

I think I failed the dragonscale sock test. Something went wrong, and I don't know what ... but while I contemplate that sock pattern as well as the prawn vomit pattern, I started a third pair.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have ourselves a Winner.
Jaffa socks in progress

Sure it doesn't look like much now, but I think by the time I get to the rippled leg, it will be a little bit va-va-voom.

Handmade news:

If you're in Canberra, get yourself to the Exquisite exhibition and sale at
CraftACT. I went to the opening yesterday, said hello to Olivia and her gorgeous felted pears, and bought a few presents. Even though two of the three recipients don't read this blog, I'm not posting them. So far I've kept to my handmade pledge for this Christmas, and I'm expecting my resolve will be strengthened with the Braidwood Quilt Event and the Handmade Market next weekend. Hooray for handmade! Hooray for the fact I only buy Christmas presents for about 8 people!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A little respect (sock it to me)

A few months ago I flashed my sock yarn stash on this blog. I still can't believe I managed to accumulate that much yarn, let along sock yarn, in the 18 months or so since I returned to Serious Crochet.

So when RoseRed announced that Southern Summer of Socks was back on this year, I jumped at the opportunity to participate again. After all, it gave me an excuse to commandeer some Sunnyboys of my own, and it also brought the sock yarn back out of the closet so I could spend a moment getting *ahem* honest with myself. My aim was to crochet five pairs of socks before April, mainly because I'll be receiving five projects-worth of KnitPicks sock yarn early next year.

Quietly, I hoped I wouldn't be purchasing any more sock yarn for quite some time. But things happen - I suddenly had money to spend on myself again, and I bought some Jitterbug and Malabrigo Sock as a present to myself. And they are lovely, lovely yarns, especially the Malabrigo Sock. Mmmmm...

Malabrigo Sock yarn Malabrigo Sock yarn

The good news is that since I posted the first sock stash photo, I've crocheted three pairs of socks, sold one pair's worth of Patonyle and started another two pairs. I was only going to start one pair, but I came to a grinding halt last night when I looked at the pattern and suddenly got really, really confused. Also the Tofutsies yarn, which I thought was really pretty, had started to remind me of vomit.

Crochet by Faye Clunky Lace socks

So while I wait for courage to contact the designer to ask her what's up, I've started another pair using sock yarn that Bells gave me ages ago. I received the Crochet Liberation Front book the other day, and there's a lovely pattern for Dragonscale Socks. Here's the toe. No dragon scales yet, but they're coming.

Dragonscale socks - in progress

And because I feel the need to be accountable, here's the latest photo of the stash. I really need to stop winding my sock yarn into cakes years before I actually start making the socks. I lose the skein bands and then wonder whether that red is Aracaunia or something else.

Sock yarn stash November 2008

Did I tell you there is enough yarn here for 27 pairs of socks? I didn't? Oops.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

When through the west like thunder rang out the Union's call

Over at SisterSticks, the question "what makes you happy?" was asked. I have a very bad habit of telling people what makes me miserable (destructive friendships, my poor confidence and credit card fraud are the current top of the pops) but I have tried really hard in the last year to focus on what makes me happy. Long and horrid commute to work? The views across the lake, sweet tunes on my iPod and crocheting makes me happy. Chronic hayfever? Well, at least it's warming up and the garden is producing food and the local pool is open again. Severe back pain and migraines? Mmmm. Hard to see the happy in that but I did have an enjoyable conversation with my physio this week.

I've just spent the day with the most delightful group of people doing Really Nice Stuff. My choir was invited to sing at the Queanbeyan Working Life and Folklore Festival today. Imagine a smokey fire, towering gum trees and an old hall under an old grandstand at the showground, it's ceiling clad with Lysaght Orb corroguated iron - the best kind of acoustics to sing in for sure.

A little bit of bluegrass

While we waited to go on stage, we listened to a little group jamming in the hall. More people arrived and joined in.

Love the music

It was so nice to listen to other people's music. These three girls are in the choir with me and are very dear friends - we spent a lovely couple of hours at the Rendezvous Cafe in between gigs, having coffee and gorging ourselves on the biggest schnitzels EVER. They must breed monster chooks in Queanbeyan.


Some of us broke out in dance. Not me. I was too busy crocheting a scarf.

Now for happiness #2. Last night on the bus, 100 metres before my stop, I finished my Red Socks. They make me so happy. Very, very happy.

Red Socks

Project: Red Wollmeise Socks

Pattern: Pebbled Sand by Janet Rehfeldt

Red Socks

Yarn: Wollmeise 100% wool sock yarn in Indisch Rot. Yes, they really are this red. A good commie red and they look pretty good in the strawberry barrel.

Hook: 4 mm bamboo

Notes: Having now made this pattern three times, I think I have the entire pattern memorised. But now it's time to make
something else.

Red Socks

Happiness # 3 is the dinner I made on Tuesday night. I made the spinach and feta pie again, using spinach from the garden, and this time I served carrots, lettuce and broad beans, all from the garden as well. Dinners like this are what make me happy we go to the effort of having a garden.

Dinner, straight from the garden

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This is ... a favourite recipe I'd like to share

This is not your typical food recipe, but if you like garlic, vegetables and gardening, it will be right up your alley.

First chop up half a bulb of garlic.

Garlic spray 1

Then add it to a 500 ml jug or bowl of not-quite boiling water. I just use tap water - but only because our solar hot water gives us about 90 degrees (thank heavens we don't have children in the house).

Garlic spray 2

Let the garlic steep in the water for about 10 minutes - stir it occassionally and press the garlic pieces against the sides of the jug.

Decant the garlic water mix through a sieve.

Garlic spray 3

Pour the water into a spray bottle, and you have ...

Garlic spray 4

... garlic pest spray! Perfect for eggplant, capsicum and bok choy seedlings that can just go "pfffft" in the middle of the night when the bugs take a liking to them! We use it every few days until the plants are strong enough to deal with the pesky blighters themselves.

And for another gratuitous gardening shot, here's one of our carrots, pulled yesterday.

Early Nantes carrots