Wednesday, June 30, 2010

just a minute … in june

Listening…  to my little girl talk more and more. She acquires new words every day. This month she said for the first time “hug me” – awwwww! Also listening to my son sing and sing and sing and sing.

through those eyes

Watching… a bird swoop down and take a green grub from the remnants of my zucchini patch in its beak, then fly into the branches of a tree and bash it to death before gobbling it up… all this from the window of my sewing room (formerly known as the spare room). Amazing.

Sewing… pants, tights and baskets. Not as much as I’d like… it would seem that a little birdie captured most of my creative attention this month.

Crocheting… a little red bird. Also making progress with E’s granny square blanket.

tooth brush eater

Photographing… in muted tones. Have missed my K2 adventure again this month. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day… and I suppose in  the sense that they’re are not enough daylight hours this is true. Good to know that we have now past the winter solstice and the days are now growing longer. Is it too early to say that I am looking forward to summer?

Playing…  with binoculars. When the weather has been fine we’ve been getting out to parks with the binoculars and having lots of fun seeing the world all magnified and blurry.

june sewing challenge :: designed and made by me


June’s sewing challenge is to design or draft a garment. I’ve been wanting to play around with pin-tucking on my overlocker and so last night (yep – again at the very last minute) I whipped up these tights for Ms. M.


There wasn’t a lot of drafting… I just cut straight into the fabric, so needless to say the adrenaline was really pumping as to whether or not they were going to work. To start with I used tailor’s chalk to mark parallel lines on the black knit. Then I sewed the pin-tucks before cutting the basic one seam pant shape – trying to keep the leg as narrow as possible without being too small. Then it was just a matter of sewing up the inner seam, the crotch and then a bit of elastic around the waist. I am thrilled that it worked – I wasn’t really expecting them to fit. If I was to make another pair, which I think I probably will, I’d make the waist higher as these one struggle to make it over the top of the nappy. All in all though I am really rather chuffed that it worked.

For more self-designed and/or drafted projects head on over to Carolyn’s.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the ring on my finger

the ring on my finger

My partner and I have been together for over thirteen years. We met in India, travelled around a bit and when in the same city together have been inseparable. (and when we’re in different cities our phone bills our out of this world) We never really ‘moved in together’ because from the day we met we were sharing our life – including find a place to sleep for the night or live.

Our tenth anniversary together was the month after we’d had our first child. To celebrate Dave gave me a ring. I adore it. Unexplainably it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I see it on my finger. I suppose it is a physical reminder of his love for me, just as is the tattoo on his arm that bares my name.

There have been times in our relationship when we have discussed getting married but we never had. I can’t really tell you why we haven’t. There is no one reason that we’ve discussed that has put us off. The thought of spending the day with our families in that pressure-cooker environment has always been a huge turn off, just as the expense of hosting a wedding has been. Of course we could have always snuck down to the registry office to get hitched, but we’ve just never been inclined. I love him. He loves me. We’re spending our lives together – and intend to for as long as we’re both breathing. Frankly I don’t really think about us not being married – because aside from the formal paper work we already are.

This weekend past was the sewing guild monthly meeting. It is an eclectic bunch of women, most of whom are a fair bit older than me. This Saturday I wasn’t in the zone for sewing, so I traced up a few patterns but spent most of the gathering watching others and chatting. It was lovely to get to know them more. An older member who is a great-grandmother asked me if she could question me without posing offence. She asked why I wasn’t married and then asked “but what about the children?” In the discussion that followed it became clear that she was concerned about my children’s illegitimacy. I’ve gotta say that I’d never really even thought about it. I’m not against being married, so if it becomes an important issue for my children I’ll happily wed Dave.

Julia Gillard is our first female Prime Minister. Perhaps she is our first Prime Minister to have red hair too? I suspect that she is probably our first unmarried Prime Minister, and perhaps even our first childless Prime Minister.

So I ask you… why are you married or unmarried? Is it important to you… or did it just kind of happen? Did or will becoming a parent affect your attitude? A penny for your thoughts…

Friday, June 25, 2010

happiness is…

happiness is... get all the seams in the crotch lined up.

… getting all the seams in the crotch lined up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

my creative space :: taking stock

What an exciting morning! I have been glued to the tele for much of the day watching the politics unfold in Canberra. It is rare for me to jump out of bed early on a winter’s morning but today that is exactly what I did so that I could take up residence on the couch to watch the events of the day unfold.  To reveal my hand – I am so thrilled with the outcome of the morning. I believe Julia Gillard will be a wonderful Prime Minister, and I do believe that the Parliamentary Labour party has the authority to choose its own leader. How did it all go so wrong for Rudd? He has made so many significant achievements for Australia. My initial thoughts are that this is a lesson on the importance of team work – truly valuing and trusting the skills and perspectives of the people around you. A lesson in the dangers of micro-managing – believing that he had to own and be involved with every decision. It highlights the importance of clear and effective communication. It all makes wonderful food for thought as I observe the press conferences, the commentators and then the parliament hooking away on the granny squares for my son’s blanket. This piece of history and my reflections on it are now part of the stitches, part of the fabric that will become the blanket he will hopefully have with him through his life.

squares on a historic day

As for the rest of my creative space,  well most of the plans I had had for this day have flown out the window. There is still however sometime to take stock. We’re now half way through the year so it is timely to re-visit the creative goals that I had set myself six months ago.

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!)

Oh my! There are still a lot of things that I want to achieve in the next six months. Might be time to focus more on my embroidery skill development. As for the native garden – I will be looking at getting that started over the next week. The rains have arrived so I want to get the plants in while the rain can help them get established.

After my successful start to the week perhaps I should build on the momentum and revisit my attempts to crochet a square dishcloth.

… but for now I will flick the tele off, abandon my nest on the couch, and get outside while the sun is still shining to reflect further on this momentous day. Australia has it’s first female Prime Minister. Hooray!

I’ll be visiting all the creativity that abounds at Kirsty’s place later on tonight … perhaps I’ll see you there.

Monday, June 21, 2010

a bird in the hand

a bird in the hand
I did it!
Finally I finished crocheting the little birdie that I started about a fortnight ago. The little “one hour” project turned into an experience that resembled climbing a great mountain rather than a stroll in the park. The upside – the corresponding sense of satisfaction.
This little red robin is my fourth start at this project. Blue bird, white bird and pink bird were all abandoned. It turns out the yarn, acrylic or wool, wasn’t the problem after all. Nope. It err… *face redder than the little birdie himself* …it would seem that …um… I was crocheting the wrong stitch!!! D’OH! Yep, I’m not even sure if the stitch I was using even really exists, effectively I was attempting to crochet a little birdie in a type of slip stitch! D’OH D’OH!
Yesterday morning I was lying in bed moaning (to myself … the others were all sick and tired of listening to my birdie ‘issues’) that I still just didn't get it. The apparently simple project just felt like a mammoth task- why wasn't it working??? Everything I had crocheted to date looked too tight, and frankly it was hurting my fingers to make!!! (neither Megan or Amanda had ‘fessed up to blisters so why were my hands suffering so?)
... and then, like a bolt out of nowhere it hit me! I was doing the wrong stitch!!! The American v. Australian crochet terminology completely does my head in. So much so that I was developing my very own take on the jargon.
So I started again. Out came yet another small bundle of yarn – a red acrylic – and away I hooked.  This time it took no longer than three and half hours for my little birdie to hatch (keeping in mind that I was super familiar with the pattern up to round 15!)
Now I am buzzing. Absolutely pleased as punch with myself. I didn’t give up. I didn’t get too stressed out about it (but I did moan & groan)… I just kept thinking about it. Persisted in trying new things and finally my brain and hands came together to produce something that is now rather special to me. As it is said, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

how to make a fabric basket in ten(ish) steps

I’ve made a few fabric baskets lately – and I plan to make more as I’ve decided that perhaps the fabric basket is the key to an organised sewing space and maybe even the organised life that I so desperately seek.  Most recently I made this fabric basket for a friend as a birthday present. Angelina of Norwood Walkabouts expressed interest in how to make one a ages ago (sorry it has taken me all this time!) …so here goes how in ten(ish) steps:

Step 1: Make a patternthe patternI decided that I wanted this basket to be a 10cm cube, so the length of the square on the pattern piece is 12cm to allow for a 1cm seam allowance. The section of the pattern that lies on the fold of the material is 6cm high and 36cm in total length (if I’d thought ahead I would have written the lengths on the paper – sorry!)

Step 2: Cut the materialscut the materialsYou will need – a piece of material for the outer, a piece of material for the lining and wadding.

Step 3: Pin the wadding and the lining togetherpin lining to wadding

  Step 4: Sew lining to waddingsew lining to waddingIMG_1048Trim excess seam allowance, particularly wadding.

Step 5: Sew seams (side edges of baskets)sew seamsTo sew the side seams together just fold the material right sides together and sew. Do this for the outer piece of material as well, again making sure that right sides are seams for outer 

Step 6: Make handles

Decide on the length and width of handles that you want for your basket. Then cut a piece of material four times the width you desire and a couple of centimetres longer. That is – if you want a handle that is two centimetres wide and ten centimetres long then cut a piece of material 8cm x 12cm. The handles are made in the same way that binding is made. Fold the piece of material in half, and then fold half again towards the centre. handles

Sew the handle together down the loose handles

Step 7: Attach handles to outer materialattach handles to outerNote that the handles are on the right side of the outer of the basket.

Step 8: Pin outer and lining together and sew together around top of basketpin outer and lining together ready to sewA few things to note here. Firstly right sides of material are facing together – so that is the back of my embroidery that you can see there in all its knotted mess. Secondly try to match the corners together because it just looks better. Sew around the top of the basket – ensuring to capture the handles and also remembering to leave a hole a couple of centimetres wide.

Step 9: Turn the basket out   turn the basket out Pull the basket through the hole so that the basket is now right side out and almost finished.

Step 10: Slip stitch closed the hole slip stitch closed

and voila – you’re make me smile basket

If you have any questions about the process be sure to email me and I’ll try to explain. Good luck!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

my creative space :: struggling to catch a birdie

There still isn’t a birdie in my creative space this week.  I was hoping that today I’d be tweeting away with my new friend – but life has got in the way. That happens doesn’t it? To be frank I can’t quite believe that today is Thursday. It really does feel like only a couple of days ago I started hooking this little friend.

birdie head

Megan and Amanda have finished their birds – be sure to go and check them out they’re so so so very cute. Meanwhile I am left feeling a lot like Eric Moussambani, aka Eric the Eel … but not to worry. This little birdie will hatch in its own time.

Originally I started with blue acrylic yarn, then I moved to white acrylic yarn which was quickly abandoned for the above pink wool. Much nicer to work with. I think I might be turning into a yarn snob… I don’t care much for the acrylics at all anymore. I don’t even know how many hours I have spent on this birdie – lets just say it has been over an hour!!!

I’m off to grab a cup of tea now before I head on over to Kirsty’s place to be absorbed by all the creativity that abounds there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

for a friend

flowers make me smile basket

A very belated 40th birthday present for a very special friend.

A ‘how to’ post coming soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

our master chef

My partner has been watching Master Chef this year (perhaps we were the only Australian family not to watch last year?!?) and lucky for us has been rather inspired.

Last night while I was out to a movie and dinner with a friend he made a lovely chickpea, date and pine nut pilau for a picnic lunch at the park today and then tonight he made pumpkin fritters and Guatemalan* salsa.

pilau at the parkpilau at the park

Some of the motivation has also been our son’s weight loss after his recent illness combined with his fussy three year old eating habits. The pilau was popular all round – the dates and raisins mean that there are bursts of sweetness. So very delicious.

fitter mixfritter mix

Mr. 3 helped his father make the pumpkin fritter mix. He likes to press the buttons on the food processor (under close supervision).  Usually if he is involved in the cooking process he is more inclined to eat the meal - but not today. Not to worry he has been in a rather odd mood all day. That happens when you’re three… or any age come to think of it!

cooking in the pancooking in the pan 

I frantically did all the dishes as the fritters sizzled in the pan. I often find meals so much tastier when I know there is not a lot of dishes to be done when it is finished.

on the platepumpkin fritters, Guatemalan salsa and sour cream

The meal was super yummy!!! Unlucky for me there were no left-over's to speak of – Ms. M and I made sure of that – so it looks like I’ll be up for cooking dinner tomorrow night. Geez!  I’m feeling the pressure to lift my game.

* I love all things Guatemalan after getting 26/25 in a school assignment in year 8. My best mark ever!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

yep, flowers sure do make me smile

Pondering whether or not to add leaves to my current embroidery project I finally came to the decision to add some leaves, but not as many as the pattern specified.

So here it is … finished and yes flowers make me smile

I’m pretty pleased with it. Flowers certainly do make me smile.

Friday, June 11, 2010

lucky lucky me!

brilliant prize

Look what arrived in the post this morning! WOW!!! I was luck enough to win Tanya’s giveaway this most amazing book. I was literally jumping for joy when I found out that I had one this uber ace prize – my three year old told me to stop – but I didn’t! I was too happy.

And look it made it all the way to the left hand side of the country in time for the not-a-long-weekend-here weekend. I’m so pleased. So thrilled. So excited.

I’m off now – to make a yummy cup of coffee and start on that chocolate and then hide it before the little ones wake up from their nap and the man of the house comes home. Oh happy happy day.

Thank you so much Tanya. This is so awesome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

my creative space :: catch me a birdie

Not that long ago Megan of somewhere along a winding path shared that she had bought herself a copy of Crochet Today craft magazine.

crochet today

A few days earlier I had seen the magazine at a newsagent for the very first time and had resisted the urge to buy. BUT – when I saw that Megan had it I decided that I should go and treat myself to the mag too (it was after all at the time of my birthday) and then we could do a project together (virtually like).

Since we’re both in the market for some crafty instant gratification we’ve decided on crocheting ourselves some little birdies…

birdies in the magazine

… after all apparently one of these sweet little birdies can be hooked up in about an hour.

only take an hour

Something tells me that I’m not the hooker they had in mind when this claim was made.

half an ours work

This is my fourth attempt (I’m only counting the attempts where I got past the foundation ring!) and the first time that I‘ve made it to round 3. This particular effort took me a little over half an hour. Oh no!!!

So in my creative space today I’ll be trying to catch myself a little birdie!

Now go and do yourself a favour and grab a cup of tea (if you haven’t done so already) before flying off to creative spaces from around the world over at Kirsty’s.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

cauliflower, fennel and pea tajine

tajine in the pot

One of the great benefits of having had sick children for countless* weeks is that we’ve managed to get through our frozen “emergency meals”. In a recent post I reflected on who I was before I had children – I certainly wasn’t a person that fretted if there wasn’t a meal ready to go in the freezer. These days I like to know that there are plenty of meals on hand – ready in waiting for the afternoon from hell or when cuddles on the couch are needed or for those evenings when I’m just past it all and can’t be bothered. I usually freeze meals that can be easily zapped in the microwave and then served with some freshly cooked rice. In our effort to replenish frozen supplies (which frankly won’t take long because we don’t have a particularly large freezer compartment as part of our fridge) we’ve been making some new meals and freezing the left-overs.

Last night my partner cooked cauliflower, fennel and pea tajine. I can’t remember the last time we ate fennel – it has been too long. Apparently fennel contains properties that act as phytoestrogens:

Evidence is accruing that phytoestrogens may have protective action against diverse health disorders, such as prostate, breast, bowel, and other cancers, cardiovascular disease, brain function disorders and osteoporosis though there is no evidence to support their use in alleviating the symptoms of menopause. (from Wikipedia)

The aromas as the tajine cooked were divine and it tasted scrumptious. A really good hearty winter meal – which is rather odd considering that the dish originated in North Africa.


We ate the tajine with couscous. I don’t think I would serve it with couscous again as since there are lots of new potatoes it is already rather heavy. Also the dish isn’t particularly saucy so the couscous doesn’t get a chance to soak up yummy juices and as such was a bit dry for my liking. To my mind I think the tajine would be fine to eat on its own. Delicious.

world food cafeThe recipe is from World Food Cafe. Which at a glance appears to be filled with lots and lots of yummy recipes.

I’ve uploaded the recipe in PDF format so that it is easy to print out or save if you want to have a go at making this tajine yourself.

Bon appétit!

* such a lie!!! I am counting everyone of these sickly weeks – to date ten in all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

a silky refashion

silk skirt

A recent discovery at a local(ish) oppy was this size 16 handmade silk skirt for a dollar. 

Just one dollar!

I’ve never sewed silk before. Eager to get started and without really planning the project I started cutting away ready to make Ms. M some pants. I’ve learnt my lesson – I should have examined the garment more closely – because if I had I would have realised that it was fully lined with the same material… so it turned out that I cut out the pieces for the pants twice.

Ooops!two of a kind

There are only so many silk pants in the same colour that an almost eighteen month old child needs so I gave the second pair to our neighbour’s daughter.


Sewing the silk was really lovely. For some reason I have it in my head that the fabric is thai silk. What do you think? Do you recognise it?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

eight answers

Kate from Foxs Lane answered eight questions this weekend and I thought I might play along too…

at the beach 11. Favourite meal to eat?  I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time… almost twenty five years! (*gulp*). If I’m cooking for myself then my favourite meal is anything that doesn’t make a mess and won’t have many dishes to wash – so tea & toast is a popular choice when I’m on my own. I also love to make pesto – the basil freshly picked from my garden – so this tends to be my favourite ‘special occasion’ food. I tend to make lots of days ‘special’ when there is plenty of basil to be had. When I’m eating out I love Indian food. Love it, love it, love it.

at the beach 22. Do you have a quirky eccentricity? I don’t really think so… but perhaps if you asked the people closest to me they might beg to differ. I feel like I am the most normal, most average person on the planet. It really is all about perspective.

at the beach 33. My middle name is Anne. Really – can you get any more dull? Although I do get a kick out of the fact that Sally means princess and Anne means grace … so that kinda makes me Princess Grace! … sans her luxurious wardrobe and fine lifestyle.

at the beach 44. I am passionate about … ??? I’m not really sure. I’ve been thinking about this all day. I’m not sure that I have the energy to be passionate about anything these days. There are lots of things that are important to me, my family is paramount. Social justice is important to me too. I am interested in the creative arts, I like to eat fine food and drink good wine. The passing years are turning me a little disillusioned and cynical and so I am no longer as interested in politics as I once was. I guess though if I was to be passionate about any one thing it would be learning new things – ideas, skills, knowledge, experiences, people and places.

at the beach 55. Thongs or Birkenstocks? Birkenstocks all the way! Perhaps I’d wear thongs if I had to use a shared shower at a caravan park or at the local swimming pool but other than that you’ll find me wearing Birkenstocks. There was a time when you’d have found me wearing blundstones in the winter – but my most recent pair didn’t last long at all – the sole fell apart – so I have fallen out of love with this ol’ winter friend.

at the beach 66. Who was I before I had kids? A person who went out to dinner lots and enjoyed glasses of red wine. A traveller. A reader. A theatre goer and a movie watcher. An observer of politics and world affairs. I used to love wearing high heeled shoes.

at the beach 77. Have I ever been arrested? I’ve never actually been charged with anything but I did wake up once in a Belgian lock-up after a night of partying hard!

at the beach 88. This weekend I will have looked after sniffly children sporting high temperatures… again!!!  To say that I am completely over looking after sick bubs is an understatement. We took them to the beach this afternoon get some fresh air into them. If we were in a Jane Austen novel we’d be moving to Bath.

at the beach 9

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

brushed cotton - repressed flannelette?

Immediately on spotting this pattern at a local oppy for the bargain price of 50c I just knew that I had to sew those funky pants for my gorgeous Master E.

mccalls 6682And then, as if by fate, I stumbled upon some brown brushed cotton marked down to a bargain price. The outcome, a very handsome pair of winter pants.brushed cotton pants

There wasn’t quite enough of the brushed cotton for the pockets – so I used some purple floral flannelette.

the pocket

In the back there is a little piece of ribbon sewed in – a trick I picked up from a very clever lady some time ago. I kept running out of cotton making these pants so there are three different colours of overlocker thread for this one garment. ribbon tag

So really – what is the difference between brushed cotton and flannelette? To my mind brushed cotton is repressed flannelette. It is soft and warm on the inside but too proud to show it on the outer – opting for a regular cotton appearance. A fabric that has succumbed to peer pressure perhaps? Or, at the very least failed to connect with it’s inner sensitive side? Even though the brushed cotton, just like flannelette, was a dream to sew with, I’m left feeling a little ambivalent.