30 Dec 2007

Back to our usual programming

We've returned home, after a very busy Christmas. My sister, her husband and their two boys have returned to England, and we're all exhausted.

The highlights; a Wiggles concert;



Camping at Coolendel



Digging in Santa sacks;




Elves at the door;




Of course, the best highlight was getting to spend plenty of time with my family.

Lowlights;

3 HIGHLY infectious diseases while we were all together - viral croup, conjunctivitis and impetigo. Accompanying highlight - these were not passed on to any other kids, despite the 6 of them rolling around together pretty much non stop for 5 weeks.

A persistent lowlight; every time I played with my newest nephew, I thought of our lost daughter Nalani, who should be 6 months old now.

10 Dec 2007

A brief visit home

before shooting off down the coast again.

Last week, the children and I spent the week at my parents place, along with my parents, both of my sisters, and their children. We're going again tomorrow. It's fun, but does have limited time for Christmas shopping, or quiet reflection.



During the week, Lucas woke up again with a limp. We spent the day at the hospital getting him checked out. Nothing conclusive (after 7 hours!), but we know the leg is not broken. If it happens again, further investigation will be needed, starting with blood tests. This is a worry at the back of my mind.

7 hours at the hospital did provide lots of knitting time, and my second pair of socks are nearly done (just the grafting to go.)



Saturday was DH's family Christmas event. We had lunch together, and then loitered in the afternoon. Again, lots of time for the socks. We also gave away one knitted wahcloth per adult, along with a bar of hand made soap. No raves, but then I didn't expect any. They were a gift to make DH happy.



This has meant my washcloth stockpile is sadly depleted, and I need to make 2 more before Christmas, which shouldn't be a problem.

In other, more exciting news, I have received my Holidays Traditions Swap from Jo. How exciting - lovely hand made decorations, and an extensive description (with recipes!) of her holiday traditions. Lovely! Thanks, Jo.

3 Dec 2007

And another thing...

This year we're excited about solar powered Christmas lights. I bought them last year (but forgot all about them) from Ezibuy, who I see are still selling them.



It's been raining a fair time today, but I'm certain come tonight, they'll be festively flashing away. DH was also given a set of solar powered bud lights for his birthday, but they're still in the box.

Advent has begun

I'm so glad when December starts - I feel like permission has been officially granted (by the calendar) to spend all my spare time thinking about Christmas.



We attended my niece's 5th birthday party on Saturday. It was a dress-up party, with the options being princess, fairy, pirate or superhero. I finally managed to dissuade Lucas from being a princess and instead he attended as a wizard (magic! sparkles!) Annabelle dressed as a fairy.



This has complicated our readings of the Christmas Story a little though, with many discussions on the difference between fairies and angels. So far, we've gone with idea that when people die they go to heaven and become angels. (Complicated by our dear departed chook - "Is Blackie an angel, Mummy?")

We had a short visit from my English sister and her 2 children. While she was here, my other sister had arranged for a photographer to come and take a group photo of our 6 children. Oh, the chaos. The ages involved; 4, 3, 2, 15 months, 15 months and 7 months. I'm not expecting much.

I'm still knitting away on Lucas' jumper (not knitting for Christmas, so it's deadline free) which is coming along nicely.

25 Nov 2007

It's all over..

for another few years. The Election that is. A triumphant night for Australian Labor, and a new government.

I watched the coverage while playing cards with my inlaws. They were shocked when I told them my vote was based on environmental issues, and stunned when our local seat was won by Labor (though I don't why, as the sitting member is a Labor member too.)


We've also been celebrating DH's birthday with a family breakfast today.

24 Nov 2007

Growing, Growing...



Over the last 3 days we've received 41mm of rain. I'm sure the garden has grown SUBSTANTIALLY since this started.



The tomatoes are flourishing, and had to be staked, and Nalani's Wollemi pine is looking positively tropical.


In another sort of growth, I've cast on for a jumper for Lucas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In fact, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. However, it's Election Day today. Voting is compulsory, and may 'the people who are clearly voting for the good of all' be giving thanks around 9pm tonight.

Don't forget to vote!

18 Nov 2007

Weekend Report

Well, the temperature has been roughly 30 degrees all week, and it sure feels like summer has arrived. We've changed over the flowers on the front porch, hoping to have blooms by Christmas time. Out go the poppies and pansies, in go red and white petunias and a lavender bush.

I've also planted more lettuce (since my mother tells me the price will triple by Christmas time) and a chilli bush. Yum!

The list of jobs is being slowly whittled away - yesterday I managed to make soap! Very exciting, and it took ages. It's a basic cold process batch, using olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, mineral water and caustic soda. I also stirred through vanilla scented coffee grounds to provide colour, scent and a grainy feel. Today I cut up the blocks, and have stored them away in the shed to cure.




I've been plugging away at a Christmas Quilt, which is coming along nicely.

Knitting of course has been happening, with a finished pod (pattern by Olivia here),




and 2 washcloths at a time.



It's now less than a week until my sister and her kids arrive from England, and I just can't wait.

14 Nov 2007

Failed miserably

The daily posting thing, that is. Oh well.

We had a nice visit with my parents, but online time was severely limited (for which I blame my first posting lapse.) Of course, this have been one of the causes of the nice time.

I did a bit of knitting, a bit of felting, a bit of helping with computer problems and lots of talking. Annabelle's princess hat is finished, and is too big. I may to try to felt it again, to try and shrink it more. Lucas has a large head, and it fits him fine.



Also now finished is my Short Row hat, and a couple more washcloths.



I have decided that my washcloth collection should be given away at Christmas time, ideally with handmade soap. I have bought all the ingredients necessary (olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and caustic soda) and am just waiting for some uninterrupted time alone to make the soap. Hopefully this weekend, as the soap needs time to cure. Not having made soap before, I turned to my local library who did not diappoint. I have 3 different books, but am currently relying upon "soap; handmade, pure and natural" by Tatyana Hill.

Lately, my thoughts are turning to my working life. I've been a teacher for nine years, and feel that is not the way I want to spend my time. On the other hand, the hours and holidays are great for parents. Last week I thought an environmental science diploma might be the path. Today we visited the Botanical Gardens and my thoughts are turning to Botany. There's no rush to decide, but if I'm going to need further qualifications, now would be a good time to be studying.

Complicating this issue is the depression and accompanying laziness I'm still dealing with. The next six weeks are going to be a challenge too - lots to do, lots of time away from home, lots of stress-inducing decisions to be made.

7 Nov 2007

Just a quick note

before we hop into the car and hit the highway.

Mum didn't want me to come visit if I had a cold, but it's still just a sore throat (day 3) so we're going anyway. Fingers crossed it doesn't get worse when we get there.

6 Nov 2007

Party day!



Melbourne Cup day here in Australia, which results in office sweeps and all kinds of gambling and drinking. None of that here... but we did go to a 5 year old friend's birthday party. Lovely time had by all.


This afternoon we were busy cutting hair, moving carseats between cars, and doing some pruning.


Tonight my inlaws came over for dinner and cards, as they do twice a week. This time is such a pleasure for me - I appreciate the time we spend together. Tomorrow, the kids and I drive away to visit my parents. More pleasure.

5 Nov 2007

Monday Monday

It's been a strange day today. Tomorrow is a public holiday, so a fair few people have extended the weekend, and gone away. We've stayed at home, and work. But still, things are different.

This morning the kids and I attended playgroup. There were quite a few absent, but lots of enthusiasm from the people present. It was my turn to run the music session, and I'm glad that's over for another term.

We received an invitation to a birthday party, where fancy dress must be worn. Princess, fairy, superhero or pirate are the options. Lucas has decided to be a princess, Annabelle a fairy. Fortunately, the party is not for a month, and we may change these positions.

Today I've been working on our calendar for next year through Snapfish. Each month will feature a different family photo, and I'm getting all our family birthdays and events pre-printed on it with photos of the birthday person.

I'm fighting off a sore throat tonight - and really hoping it doesn't intensify. My sister and her family have been ill for a week now with similar...

4 Nov 2007

Sewing Sunday

I haven't done any sewing lately, but we're attending a birthday party on Tuesday, and needed a gift. So, another crayon roll.


It took me half an hour just to locate my 'pattern', so I thought I'd record it here for my next organisational crisis.

1. Cut strips 1 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches (one per crayon colour)

2. Sew strips together and press. Seam allowance 1/4 inch throughout.

3. Cut 2 rectangles out of feature print 8 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches (note this is the right size for 12 crayons, if more than 12 crayons - 3/4 inch per crayon + 1/2 inch seam allowance.)

4. Fold one rectangle length wise in half (so it now measures 4 1/4 x 11 1/2) and press.

5. Make tab out of feature fabric - cut 1 1/2 x 5 1/2. Sew edges and turn inside out.

6. Assemble layers;
stripes (right side up), then halved rectangle, with tab lined up next to it, then full size rectangle right side down. Sew together, leaving turning space. Turn and topstitch gap closed.

7. Sew down the halved rectangle, between where the crayons will be (follow stripes for guidance.)

8. Attach velcro on tab and body of crayon roll.



This pattern was inspired by many pencil rolls seen all over the crafty internet, like the ones here; here, and here.

It is NOT to be used for profit. Except by me, if I ever get organised!

3 Nov 2007

I love my postie!

Yes, I've received some great things in the mail this week.

Firstly, I was quick enough to get a Limited Edition of MixTape. All kinds of goodies were included - my favourite is the pattern for Miss Buttons. I've heard people talking about crafty goodness - and that is exactly how to describe this pack.


I've also received 2 Everyday Craft books from Amber of Kids Craft Weekly. So many cute ideas, and a perfect present for Christmas.



On the theme of mail, I was very keen to sign up for the Rockin Sock Club this year. However, I've done the sums, and just cannot justify (to myself) spending $50 per pair of socks. I can buy hand dyed cashmere sock yarn from England for less than that, and really do I need more sock patterns?

2 Nov 2007

More knitting

Annabelle's princess hat is ready to be felted. It was a simple knit from Vickie Howell's "New Knits on the Block". I am a little concerned that it has used less wool than I expected. I won't start Lucas' wizard hat until this one has been felted.



The socks are coming along nicely, and I could probably start the heel any time now.



I have also started the latest dishcloth from the Monthly Dishcloth KAL. This one seems to be diagonal which is a first for me.

1 Nov 2007

November at last!

Yep, there's been some more knitting action here. This is the second French Market Bag I have made, and I am pleased with it so far. I'm saving it up to be felted when I visit my parents again.


Next, last month's washcloth from the Monthly Dishcloth KAL. It looks good, and means I now have a stack of seven washcloths waiting for.... something. I should buy some nice soap to go with these.


And finally, some craft. This snazzy crown was whipped up at Playgroup out of a paper plate.


This month I'll be trying for daily posts. Of course, life may get in the way, but if I'm home I'll be blogging, in the spirit of NaBloPoMo.

31 Oct 2007

Blogging Resumes!

Exciting, isn't it.

We've been away on holiday, and having computer free time. My, I've done a lot of knitting. I've also watched quite a bit of television.



The highlights of the holiday; seeing an emu strolling through a paddock, accompanied by it's babies; panning for gold at Sovereign Hill; riding the Talking Tram in Bendigo; driving for hours through ripening wheat. We also visited MANY adventure playgrounds in various towns.




Holiday's were once all about relaxation. I can only speculate when that will happen again.



I've completed my first pair of socks for the Southern Summer of Socks KAL, and happily wore them today. I have enough left over to make a pair of children's socks out of the same wool.



In Bendigo, we (naturally) visited the Bendigo Woollen Mills, and enhance the stash considerably. One addition included a nice cotton/wool sock yarn, which is currently on the needles.

16 Oct 2007

Blog Action Day

Well, actually, it was yesterday, but I still think there's a point.

Blog Action Day for more information.

Today, lots and lots of bloggers are explaining what they are doing to help the environment. Lots of ideas, and achievable ideas too.

The biggest thing we've done for the environment lately is get some chooks. I am embarrassed to say that we produce a lot of food waste (I think it comes with small children), and are happy to be feeding this directly to our chooks. The worm farm simply couldn't keep up.

We're also trying to be more and more waterwise. Short showers and collecting water in a bucket during the shower. I toss up what to do with the collected water - either on the vegies or straight into the washing machine.

Our next project is to get a greywater hose, so we can easily recycle water from the washing machine.

Another thing we've been trying is to no longer use paper towels. I'm not sure if this is a huge success, because the tea towels I've been using instead are heavily impregnated with grease. Our washing detergent is environmentally friendly, and isn't up to the job.

We're also growing vegetables. At this stage we're organic, and I think this will continue.

12 Oct 2007

Knitting... headaches... pollen

Knitting has been happening - I've been working on my boring old socks while watching Nigella and Ina. I used to knit with David Attenborough, but now don't like my kids seeing all those animals being eaten. Watching cooking shows shouldn't harm them in the least.



I've also been laid low with a headache the last couple of days. Very annoying. Tonight I've got a sinus thing happening too, so maybe it's all pollen related.

Since this is our first spring in Canberra, I'm taking particular note of what's happening in the air. So far, it's not so bad, but not great either.

6 Oct 2007

Floriade!




Today we visited Floriade, Canberra's Festival of Flowers. Arriving early, we beat the crowds. Among the very few visitors were my uncle and his young family, so that was nice to meet them there. Lucas went on the jumping castle with my cousins, and they had a great time together.



The tulips were alittle past their best, but still lovely, and I now have lots of planting ideas for next year's spring garden.

We also saw a family of swans. Lovely.

5 Oct 2007

Quilted Pants...

This is the only quilting I've done in weeks - quilted patches for my boy's trousers. I had previously quilted two fat quarters together with some cotton batting (to make a sunglasses case way back when), and simply used this as the patch material. I'm hoping it'll extend the life of my patches...




On the knitting front, I spent the first couple of days of October working on and cursing my Jaywalkers. I've officially given up, and have cast on for a pair of plain old stocking stitch socks with that wool (opal). I'm still attempting the 2 socks at once on 2 circulars, so it will be a little stretching for my skills. Using such fine needles really cramps up my little fingers, so I can't knit for too long at once. A disappointing start to the Southern Summer of Socks.



On the family front, Lucas had a coughing fit at the playground today. He was still coughing when we had walked home (maybe 2 minutes away), so I got him a drink and sat him down for a while. DH arrived home about a minute later, and Lucas had stopped coughing, but was breathing badly. We rang the doctor, who could see him straight away. They returned bearing ventolin and anti-histamines. The doctor gave Lucas ventolin while he was there, and his breathing improved immediately. While this is not conclusive proof of asthma, we have to watch Lucas carefully now, and go back if it recurs.

30 Sep 2007

Southern Summer of Socks

I have joined this knitalong, which starts tomorrow (wonder when it ends.... March 31) I have plenty of sock wool, and am hoping this will provide some motivation.

Sock wool I own;
1. Hot socks pink/purple/blue fake fair isle
2. Posh Yarn Emily purple/blue
3. Posh Yarn Saskia pink/apricot/green
4. Posh Yarn unknown but feels wonderful
5. Opal self patterning
6. Opal cotton
7. Opal Prisma blue
8. Opal Prisma green
9. Opal Prisma red
10. Posh Yarns Lei (wool/bamboo/silk) ....in transit...

Currently on the needles, Jaywalkers in Opal Hundertwasser.


My aim for this project;

Knit at least one pair of socks per month.

It would also be nice if they were as much of a work of art as this;


This museum image created here

Felting is FUN!

The kids and I spent the week with my parents, as planned, and had a lovely time. That really is the best thing about being home with my children full time - the freedom to pursue whims, or take timeout as necessary.

I spent a lot of time knitting, and managed to complete my French Market Bag. Here's the before picture,



and the after.




As can be seen above, the bag easily carries 5 Teletubbies.

Mum's washing machine is far superior to mine for felting purposes, and created a lovely texture in the wool. I'm knitting like crazy, and plan to take a stash of items ready to be felted with me when we next visit.
In springtime news, the Currawongs in the nest in our yard have hatched, although we can't yet see them. Mum and Dad have a Mudlark sitting on eggs in a tree at their place (fascinating to see they are called mudlarks because they make their nest out of mud - der!)

23 Sep 2007

What a day!

I achieved a life time goal today - to see a platypus in the wild. We visited Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, for a BBQ lunch and play in the adventure playground, and then went for a bushwalk.


Like most amateur platypus photos, it's a shocker, and the closer ones not much better. Oh well.






We also spotted a koala in a tree, but these are not a naturally occurring population, although they do have a very large area over which to roam.



In the 2003 bushfires which engulfed Canberra, Tidbinbilla was thoroughly burnt. The regrowth is flourishing, as can clearly be seen in this photo, with the burnt trees providing a backdrop to the new plants.

The kids and I are spending the week with my parents, so there should be lots of knitting done - I'm hoping to finish my French Market Bag (although I'm still only on the base.)
I've signed up for the Southern Summer of Socks, so come October 1 will be getting stuck into some sock knitting.