Sunday, January 31, 2010

just a minute … in january

I’m saddened that Jenaveve isn’t blogging this year. I really enjoyed writing up my monthly review for ‘just a minute’ – it helped me to remember what had happened in the month – and I really enjoyed reading what other people were up to too. I missed the November one last year because my computer died and in December I was too disappointed that Jenaveve had stopped writing to compile a review.  With the new year and the end of the first month I have decided that I am going to play on regardless… so here it is – my ‘just a minute …in January’.

sandy sandals

Listening… R.E.M. Automatic for the People; Neko Case Middle Cyclone”; Kanye West The College Drop Out and Late Registration; Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Reading… not as much as I’d like. I’ve been flicking through books about crochet and sewing. Life has been so hectic I haven’t really got into a fiction yet this year. I am very much hoping that that will change in the month of February.

Sewing… lots of dress-up costumes for three year olds. Also managed to do lots of repairs jobs at the very beginning of the year to make a clean start to the year.

Crocheting… small red and white granny squares for a footy scarf.

Growing…  thriving in the garden this month: zucchini, pumpkin, basil, lettuce. The strawberries look awful!

Photographing… lots of images with the big wide blue sky. Love it. It is my favourite blue. It is my favourite season. Love summer colour. Sad that my DSLR died but looking forward to hopefully playing with a new one in February.

Cooking…party food! Lots of salads since it has been hot and of course food that has zucchini!!!

Playing… at the beach, in the river and in the pool. January has been all about swimming and more swimming.

the mathematics of a granny square

At the end of the month I have thirty one granny squares – and those are just the ones I can locate. The house seems to be scattered with them so I’m expecting that the haul will grow tomorrow morning after the post-weekend clean-up.

january granny squares

I’ve started sewing in the ends and plan to start joining up the squares this coming week. Yay!  my scarf should be ready for the footy pre-season.

February marks the start of new granny squares for a new project. I’m  planning to make a blanket. As preparation for my next project I hooked a quick square.

test square Then I unravelled it and calculated that to make one square 10cm x 10cm I used just over 17 metres of yarn.

I have this luscious basket of yarn…

yummy yarn

Wool from the Bendigo Wool Mill. Each ball has about 400 metres of wool. That means that each ball should yield about 23 granny squares.

granny blanket

I like simple things. So the plan first up is to make a lap blanket that is 10 squares by 10 squares. I’m going to make the squares larger than 10cm by 10cm – probably try for 15cm x 15cm.  The design is to use ten colours in 10 straight rows of colour. I should end up with a blanket about 150cm x 150cm.  It will be plain and simple. The primary reason that I am drawn to this idea is because I read:

“… granny squares are as old as crochet itself, and the premise behind them – making something useful and beautiful out of scraps of this and that – is as old as womankind”*

I’m new to crochet and I don’t knit. I don’t have any scraps! So I want to make a non-traditional granny square rug with ‘new’ balls of wool so that I’ll have some scraps to start making the more traditional colourful numbers. Is that twisted thinking? Probably. It is how my brain works.

* Cottrell, S. & Weloth, C. The New Granny Square, New York. 2006.

january sewing challenge :: something for me


Early in the year, just after I’d set my goals for 2010, I stumbled across Carolyn’s sewing challenge. One of the sewing goals that I had set for myself was to “make at least one thing for myself (to wear!)” and there it was Carolyn’s January challenge - “something for me”. Still recovering from Ms. M’s first birthday, Christmas and New Year which had all occurred in the fortnight and knowing that the third birthday season was looming I was reluctant to sign up. Still the challenge was always in the back of my mind niggling away.

At the last minute I signed up. Last night I started sewing a dress and this morning I finished it off…a dress for me

Phew… I just finished it in time!

I used a McCall’s pattern M5832 because there was a buy one get one free special on at the time I purchased. Initially I had been interested in M5659 but the difference in price exceed $10. From what I can tell it looks like essentially the same pattern only the dress is fuller in the latter version. I chose the design of the dress because it looked casual and comfortable and I could wear my maternity bra. It wasn’t until 2330hrs last night as I was starting to sew on the yoke that it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be breastfeeding in this garment. Ah – not to worry – Ms. M mostly feeds first thing of a morning and last thing of a night. If she wants another feed she is pretty easily distracted with snacks!!!

This is almost* the first garment that I have finished sewing for myself – ever! I’m very stoked with how it turned out even if my son did make a passing remark about the pretty tent that I was wearing. The feeling of accomplishment totally rocks – and of course there is the added bonus that I’ve just completed a challenge.

I had already achieved my 2010 goal “make at least one thing for myself (to wear!)” earlier in the week when I made these lounge pants one evening:lounge pantsSewing Green by Betz White 

I got the pattern for the pants from the book Sewing Green by Betz White that I recently borrowed from the library. The pants were really quick and easy – a project started and completed within the evening. The purple floral is a flannelette sheet that I picked up at the op shop and the cuff was part of my treasure from the vintage sheet swap that I participated in last year. I’ve been wearing them of an evening ever since!

So – to review my 2010 goal: I have now made something to wear, and worn it. Now I think I should up the ante and make something that I wear further afield than the street in which we live. I’m so pleased with the dress I think I should be able to achieve this goal in the not too distant future.

Head on over to Carolyn’s to see more completed January Sewing Challenges.

* which actually makes it the second garment – but I decided that second doesn’t sound as good as “almost first”!

Friday, January 29, 2010

zucchini again

round zucchini

We’ve reaped our first harvest of round zucchini. There are loads more in the garden still on the vines. Aren’t they adorable? So round. So green. So cute. Mmmm… maybe I’ve been spending too much time with them out in the sun.

This afternoon they were hollowed – their innards used for zucchini muffins (YUM!) and then tonight their remains were stuffed and tossed into our largest pot.

stuffed zucchini

And here is a holiday snap from our adventure into the garden. You should have seen the zucchini that got away!

a man and his zucchini

rockin’ gift

rockin' gift

E received this cool hand made gift from our wonderful friend Moa for his third birthday. Isn’t it just too cute? The boy has been itching to wear it but I’ve been distracting him until I got a photo. He is going to be thrilled to be wearing his new threads tomorrow… I have a hunch it is going to be a loud rockin’ day in our household.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

my creative space :: photo play

ps play

Armed with a stack of library books I am determined to learn how to use Photoshop. Figuring out how to use layers and the meaning of the terminology feels at times like a mammoth task. There is just so much to learn! Made a small breakthrough this week when I finally figured out how to ‘select’ sections of an image – now some fun play can really begin.

I love photography. At the outset of this year I made it a goal to improve my photographic skills. Sure enough, shortly after setting that goal my digital SLR slowly started to die. It’s shutter mechanism is gasping for breath and barely functioning – just as my interest in photography is starting to grow again. The quote for repair is quite expensive so now I need to make the decision if perhaps it would be better to just buy a new camera armed with the latest technologies that my budget will afford. This leads to another question– should I stick with Olympus (I’d only need a new body) or sell the lenses that I have and change brand, perhaps to Canon. What do you think?

My new blog is part of my creative pursuit to practice practice practice photography. I’m hoping that practice will make perfect me a better photographer. To date it has been a very eclectic collection of photos. The aim is to shoot and post a photograph every day. The only rule that I have set myself is that the photo should be from the day it is posted. It has been a good rule as it pushes me to look for photographic opportunities daily. There have been a few uninspired days, but I guess that is all part of the learning process.

Great to have my creative space back for 2010! To see more creative spaces head on over to Kirsty’s.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

i’ve been two-timing you!

Some of you have discovered my duplicity all on your own… but for the rest of you it is time to come clean and let you know that I have been two timing you all! You see I've started another blog over here – it’s not the same as what we’ve got going at this place but I do spend time over there every day.

Forgive me?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

it’s been 222 years…

The Lucas Clan in Australia

… since my family has lived in Australia.

Nathaniel Lucas was transported to Australia at the age of 24 – accused of robbery. To this day there are still claims that the goods were planted because he was such a good carpenter and the new colony needed his expertise. He travelled to Australia on the Scarborough and wasn’t long in the colony before he was sent to Norfolk Island.

Olivia Gascoigne, convicted of armed robbery, was destined for the gallows had her death sentence not been commuted, and she was transported to Australia on the Lady Penrhyn instead. Part of the English aristocracy one wonders how she found herself in the position of an armed hold-up.

Nathaniel Lucas and Olivia Gascoigne met on their voyage to Norfolk Island, were married and had thirteen children together. I am descended from their sixth child, Olivia Lucas.

It is claimed that Nathaniel and Olivia’s descendents now form Australia’s largest family. At the time the book above was published in 2004 there were 40 789 known ‘family members’ (estimated to be 80% of the total family),   a staggering 33 300 of whom were known to be living. Perhaps you are one of my family?

So what does this mean to me?

I’m incredibly proud that my ancestors were a formative part in building the modern Australian nation. They were courageous, survivors, hard workers and entrepreneurs. But there is also shame. Shame to be linked, even as unwilling participants, to the invasion of another people’s home. I experience so much ambivalence on Australia day – why do we need to celebrate Australia on the day that also marks so much loss to the original people of this land. Couldn’t we choose another date on the calendar to celebrate?

Nonetheless I am glad that Nathaniel was convicted, even if he was set up, and I’m thankful that Olivia in someway “lost-it” and was found to be guilty of armed robbery. Sending them on their way to this beautiful land has been very fortunate for me. I love living a stone’s throw away from beautiful sandy beaches, frolicking in the river, walking in the Australian bush. I relish hot summers and lazing about. I revere that we are multi-cultural.

I am cautious however not to celebrate a singular Aussie spirit and buy into the mythology of being Australian. It worries me to my core that phrases such as “un-Australian” are becoming part of the vernacular. Exclusion can only cause trouble. I feel deeply troubled when I see cars sporting Aussie flags billowing from the rear windows and then nasty “F@#k off we’re full” stickers on the rear windshield. Is this really pride?

In what ever way you choose to spend today, HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY to you!

Monday, January 25, 2010

shiver me timbers

pirate dress-ups

This little pirate outfit is the last of the dress-ups that I made for my boy for his birthday. As part of the costume I made an eye-patch and bought him a plastic hook for his hand – but those items were unavailable for photos.

The bolero jacket is again from the Enid Gilchrist Fancy Dress publication and the pants were quickly knocked up without a pattern at all. The pants are made from black calico and I left the bottoms unhemmed so that they would fray after being washed. The tricorne pirate hat I made following a tutorial @ Uber Domestic. It was super easy to make and E. loves it!

super 3

More dress-ups as part of the season of 3. This time capes and super-hero headbands.
I drafted the cape pattern from Enid Gilchrist’s Fancy Dress publication.
'Fancy Dress' by Enid Gilchrist
Capes pg 8The measurements for the cape pattern are to suit a 6-10 year old so I reduced the specifications by 20% so that it would be more suitable for rapidly growing three year olds. There is probably an easier way but I converted all the inches measurements into centimetres (because I don’t have an imperial ruler) and then just multiplied by 0.8 to reduce the size.
To accompany the capes I also made superhero headbands courtesy of Curly Pop’s brilliant tutorial.
super hero cape for my birthday boyThis one above is for my special mr 3. It was the first time I sewed with sateen and initially I was apprehensive about it slipping and sliding everywhere but for a pattern as simple as this there was nothing to it really.
P1246170And I made two of these for the January birthday girls.
I have really enjoyed sewing dress-ups for gifts. Although I was a little disheartened when E. wrapped a bright pink curtain (left at our home by the former owners) and then proceeded to be a tiger – with a vivid imagination such as his fancy dress-up costumes really aren’t a requirement.

is there a medic in the house?

It is the season of three for us at the moment. Lots of friends all celebrating the wonderful milestone of turning three. Leading into Christmas I abandoned the idea of making lots of gifts, too much to make all with the same deadline, so instead I made a commitment to myself to focus on birthday presents instead.

Remember the red cross that I showed you last week?

When contemplating what to make for the beautiful almost-three year olds in my life I found inspiration on Bek’s blog Red Chocolate.

red chocolate blog The picture she uses in her banner takes me back to my own childhood. I’m not sure that I ever had a dress-up costume like this but I do remember my best friend had one and I once had a photo of her that looked remarkably like the one above. So I set about planning to make the girls little nurses outfits. Before I actually took scissors to fabric it occurred to me that none of the almost three year olds that I knew would ever see a nurse dressed like above for ‘real’ in their life times and it also dawned on me that I perhaps I was being rather sexist too. So instead I made all the January three year olds medic outfits –  not nurses or doctors or radiographer – just medical professional dress-ups. I’ll leave their specialising area of expertise up to them.

medics outfit

Sunday, January 24, 2010

cheer cheer the red and the white


Here are my granny squares to date. Small and only one colour but they’re part of a grander plan. A scarf! Yes – that’s right. After my last scarf debacle I have decided to give it another go – this time with crocheted granny squares.

Do you note the wonderful colours?

Karen you might have big bad Bazza but I’ll have the coolest scarf at the footy.

party time

Today was E’s party. He shared the event with his close friend Ms. A who was born just three and a half hours earlier. I heard Ms. A’s first cries as she entered the world as I laboured in a room nearby.

birthday people

It is my wish to make E a special birthday cake every year. It is one my ways of showing him how much I love and appreciate him. I don’t think he especially understands that at present but it is my hope that when he looks back on his childhood he will remember the successful and unsuccessful cakes that I have made him fondly.

The ambition for this year was a three dimensional train cake:


The finished result wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but life with two small people tends to throw a few curve balls so I was left decorating the cake in the last moments. Note to self: yes it is a good idea to decorate the cake the night before even if you do think there will be plenty of time the next day!!!

train reality 

The party was held at a beautiful spot by the river. It was a perfect afternoon – not too hot with a nice airy breeze to keep us all fresh.

birthday boybirthday boy waiting to eat cake

There was a craft table which was a great success. Lots of messy creations being made with the ever popular glitter glue. There was face painting too… although E. was more partial to body painting which he adjusted himself.

body paint

There was also swimming in the river – a great way to freshen up and relax after lots of party fun.

swimming in the river

Just lovely.   

Saturday, January 23, 2010

mr 3

E.E. celebrated his third birthday today. No longer a baby or toddler he is now a young boy. Day by day he becomes increasingly independent – he makes his own weet-bix in the morning, puts his dirty clothes in the laundry, ‘reads’ books to his parents, and packs his own bag for day care. He is becoming quite the back seat driver telling me when I am going too fast or too slow and warning me of imminent dangers such as stray herds of elephants on the Perth freeways. He has the most wonderful imagination and often relates to me tales of his exciting adventures.

birthday boy

IMG_0345We had a quiet day today. We ate cake and ice cream and played with his new toys. Tomorrow he is having a party.

Happy Birthday my gorgeous E.

Monday, January 18, 2010

and the winner is…

winner 200 posts giveaway Anna of dillpickle unfinished!

Thanks so much to all for your lovely comments on my 200 post. Moreover thank you all for the support and encouragement you have provided me on this wonderful creative journey… it just wouldn’t be the same without you!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

red cross

red cross Here is a sneak peak of a project that I am currently working on.

french octopus

french knots

I resolved at the beginning of the year to practice my french knots. So I have been working on them as part of this embroidery that I’m stitching for Master E. They’re very inconsistent. Some goodies but some shockers too.

I think I am capturing the irregularities of nature really well – that’s what I’m telling myself!

Friday, January 15, 2010

long long ago…

Megan of somewhere along a winding path invited me to post a favourite picture of myself.

Sal @ Dave's Cafe0001

This photo was taken decades ago, last century, in the last millennium even! Taken in an age before digital cameras so I have had to scan it.

It is a favoured photo for a number of reasons. Firstly because I am wearing my all time favourite denim overalls – I lived in them for years and years – and my funky red wool felt hat that at the time of the picture was new, I’d bought it he week before in Dharamsala while I was attending seminars delivered by the Dalai Lama at his home monastery. I still wear that hat in the winter, I never fail to feel good in it and I made Ms. M one this winter past which she has no doubt grown out of by now. Go on – take a sneak peak – I just did and noticed that in the photo I posted of her way back then we’re wearing almost identical outfits – oooopps! That’s a little creepy – in my defence we’re wearing the outfits in different millenniums.

I also love the photo because it was taken in Manali, the town where I hooked up with my partner. He took this picture. We would sit in the same cafe for hours on end drinking chai and tea and coffee and lasi and eating sour dough toast and other delights. We talked and talked and talked – about cool things: art, music, politics, philosophy, travel. They were days filled with URST (un-resolved sexual tension) – don’t worry within days (possibly even hours) of this photo being taken it was resolved.

So I like this photo too because it is the last of me as a single person. I did not know that the man behind the lens would be in my life for years and years and that I would have two children with him. I did not know that he was to be the love of my life, my lover, my best-friend and co-parent.

Do you have a favoured photo of yourself? Go on… share!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

a granny a day keeps the nut house at bay

The other night, whilst sitting under the stars in our back garden, I was enlightening my partner to all the benefits of crochet – portable, useful, ‘relatively’ inexpensive, and most of all, meditative and calming. Making time in my day for crochet is an important part of taking care of myself. Whether or not I deem the output a success is not important – it is the repetitive and rhythmical process that is the key to relaxation and happiness. For me crochet is like a circuit breaker.

The following day my Mr. returned home from work his backpack laden with this weighty goodness from the library:

crochet library booksMy man is one very supportive guy, and if you knew him you’d know that he loves libraries and borrows books all the time so six books on his borrowing card is a really romantic gift.

So today when I saw that Ms. Pip had set down the A Granny A Day 2010 Craft Challenge I just had to sign up straight away.


One of the personal crafty resolutions I’d set myself this year was to crochet a blanket so this challenge should see me achieve that goal… but more importantly a granny a day should keep the nut house at bay.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

rubbish reduction resolution

rubbish 13.01.10Our family has resolved to try to reduce our rubbish this year. We’ve re-familiarised ourselves with what can be recycled and we’re purchasing goods with less packaging. This morning I was at the grocery store and forgot my reusable bags so instead of resorting to plastic bags I opted for no bags at all – after all I had a trolley and was just taking the goods to the car.

This is our bin today. I’d say about three-quarters full. We’re aiming to be less than half full by the end of the year. I’m confident we can do it especially considering that at the start of the year – only two rubbish collections ago – the lid of the bin didn’t close due to the large amounts of waste.

Monday, January 11, 2010

map 1: K2

There is no better place to start a journey than at the beginning. That’s what I thought anyway – so I decided to start our K2 adventures on map 1.  I was overcome with disappointment when I discovered that map 1: K2 was Harbour Town – Perth’s discount shopping precinct. Urgh… shops!


I really had to remind myself that the purpose of our adventure was to see the familiar through fresh eyes and in this regard map 1:K2 was going to be a real challenge.

K2 Map 1 postcard

Dear ----,

Here I am at map1:k2 overcome by the smell of fast food amidst a frenzy of consumerism. People everywhere laden with oversized plastic bags jostling each other in their quest to fill their emptiness with material goods. Today’s lusted after prize to be all but forgotten tomorrow. Only the smallest glimpses of nature are to be found - teasing glances of a beautiful blue sky, trivial references to flora. Thankfully this is only a stop over on my way to more exciting adventures… ‘till then take care.

♥ Sally

Thursday, January 7, 2010

land ahoy

land ahoy

Just in case you couldn’t tell – E. is sitting in the boat that he made, sailing the rocky seas looking for land.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


At the beginning of summer I sowed some seeds…


… that are now starting to fruit.


I’ve never grown tondo di piacenza (round) zucchini before. Apparently the variety is very popular in Italy. Thriving despite my neglect and the scorching temperatures I can see we’re going to have a bumper crop.

I am so looking forward to eating them… I can’t imagine it will be much longer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

night swimming


Night swimming is one of my great summer loves.

This past week the temperatures have started to rise and the nights are hot. Before heading to bed I plunge naked into the unlit pool and float. Float surveying the night sky – star gazing.
Peace. Freedom. Beauty. Awe. Imperturbable.

I go to sleep most nights with REM’s song swimming around in my mind. I like it.

Image via

Monday, January 4, 2010


This is my 200th post and to thank you all for popping by I’m hosting a giveaway.

pamper package giveaway

A primary goal of mine this year is to take better care of myself  and I envision that this will include a bit of pampering.

To share the pampering love I’m going to make and giveaway to one lucky reader a small pamper package. Not exactly sure what will be included yet but it will be all about rest and relaxation.

So if you want to be included in the draw leave a comment on this post before midnight Sunday 17 January. I’ll draw the winner on Monday 18 January. All my ‘followers’ automatically get an entry as a special thanks – so to get two entries be a follower and leave a comment.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

K2 in 2010

I’m keen to see a bit of adventure in my life in 2010. The bubs are growing and it is time for us to scale great heights. A bit of mountaineering is in order me thinks. So I have planned for the family to take a tourist adventure to K2 – the second tallest mountain in the world – every month this year!!!


Image from here

… okay, okay – perhaps we won’t be undertaking literal mountaineering, and we probably won’t make it to China or Pakistan either and perhaps I should start committing to a thirty minute walk every day before I start heading up that big mountain with my two small children (one of whom has only been walking herself for a few months) but we are still heading to K2 every month in 2010.

Nope we didn’t win lotto.

Here’s the plan. Once a month the kids and I are going to take a tourist adventure to the grid reference K2 on one of the maps in our street directory. We’ll walk around and explore as if we’re in a foreign country, trying to observe the space as if we’ve never seen it before, see the things that in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives we take for granted …and of course, like all good tourists we’ll take lots and lots of photos and send you a postcard about our travels.

The idea is from The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel. Now I don’t go to church much, if at all, in fact I don’t think I’ve gone this millennium, but a long long time ago I did hear a local bishop deliver a sermon in which he talked to the idea of having tourist experiences in our every day life. Taking the time to see the beauty in the world – no matter how small. His words stuck with me and I have carried them with me ever since. As such, the idea of travelling in my own town as a tourist really appeals to me.

Our faithful guidebook for these adventures will be the UBD – 2006 Perth Street Directory.

guide book

Look out for a postcard soon!

Friday, January 1, 2010


So here we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year and a new decade to boot. Exciting times. Fresh hopes. Clean slates. Revised goals.

With the new year I have renamed my blog, Virtually Sally… almost me is no more. I have decided that I am as me as I’ll ever be. I was lost there for a bit, stumbling and fumbling around in the dark, dizzy and not really knowing where I was heading. Thankfully somewhere in the past six months I found the light switch. I still don’t exactly know where I’m heading but with the lights on I can see the options and at least enjoy the view as I progress on my journey.

P8297807-3 Where to then for 2010?

Here are the creative goals that I have set for myself to achieve at some time over the next twelve months:

Crochet: make a basket, a blanket, a square dishcloth and a jug cover

Embroidery: become more proficient with stem stitch, shadow stitch and french knots

Gardening: start a native garden at the front of our house

Printing: keep having fun exploring, playing and discovering

Photography: do online photography course, be less shy taking photos and take a ‘tourist’ adventure to a K2 once a month.

Sewing: make at least one thing for myself (to wear!)

As for personal goals I want to take better care of myself. I too easily feel guilty when I spend time caring for myself which is the start of a vicious cycle. I don’t enjoy doing things to care for myself because I feel so darn guilty about it (because I feel like I am being selfish) and so I stop doing them which results in me getting run down and tired which eventually renders me less able to care for my precious family – which is what I want to do best of all.

Thanks so much for being there with me in 2009 – your comments, insightful, funny, encouraging have meant so much to me.

Now its time get back on the road and start sharing tales from my travels, the highs and the lows, with you in 2010… together to the achievement of great things.