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ik collage

… or sometimes I even leave the house, again …

Although we’ve lived in this seaside suburb for nearly a year, due to being very pregnant, sleep-deprived or caught up in baby (lack of) routines, I’ve hardly ventured to the sea.  Yesterday when Mr. Foxy had the day off we made an effort to go out for lunch and a promenade.  A cold, clear day with not too much wind made for pleasant strolling.  I’m not used to the landscape and landmarks here – the Norfolk Island pines instead of St Kilda’s palms, the flatness, and the different quirky aspects of the built environment.  And alot of yellow …

A good chance to try out the new granny square scarf, finally bordered and pressed blocked.  This project was started with great enthusiasm and little planning, inspired by Pip (the woman who launched a thousand granny squares).  Sometimes only crochet will do.  I’m happy with it, though it does look a bit crazy ‘boho’.  The almost-ugly colours (scraps and leftovers) are a mix of dull, rich and bright, like the palette of an oriental carpet, I like to think.  In any case it was satisfying to turn a pile of scraps into something warm and decorative.

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It’s difficult for me to differentiate the ‘weekend’ from any other pair of days, the result of living in baby-world and having a husband who works weekends, but these are snippets of what’s caught my attention in the past couple of days …

  • the surprise of a late birthday gift in the post, so time has been spent assembling lego fire-engines and the like.  They never had those teeny tiny fiddly bits when I was a child!  
  • loving this idea!  (Thanks Michelle!)
  • like Di, enjoying Cast On‘s Make Do and Mend series.  Worried about becoming the person described on one of the earlier episodes who was mocked by her removalists for having boxes and boxes of materials for re-purposing!  I already have a large bag of hand-screen-printed t-shirts from Aboriginal Communities collected when we lived in Darwin – to be transformed one day into children’s clothes, or cushions, or ?  Not to mention a pile of op-shop clothes made of fabric I liked …
  • one of my attempts at thrift: using up alot of yarn left-overs and making a granny-square scarf.  All sewn up and now deliberating on a border …

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  • reading this, recommended by Amy
  • cleaning out the fridge (of food that is – no extreme housework going on here) and making and eating easy vegetable lasagne, recipe courtesy of another mother of twin babies
  • watching babies on the move!  Unfortunately they have developed a taste for the local newspaper, eaten straight from the magazine rack …

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Perhaps there has been a bit too much Shrek-watching, but in any case, The Gingerbread Man has been a favorite story around here for a while, and today there was a great demand to make “a gingerbread man”.  As Rex doesn’t like ‘spicy’ baking I opted for this recipe which made for fun and easy preparation.  I used 125g butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup flour based on this formula.  It was very important that each man got two shiny buttons. Although, or perhaps because, this made for a very plain biscuit, these were pronounced a great success.  And of course a couple had to be eaten warm from the oven, before they ran away …

Picni collagePinik collage

Also home made was some facial scrub … I had run out a while back, and it looked unlikely that I could easily get in to town to buy more.  (Oh, well I suppose I could have gotten mail order…)  Then it occurred to me that I could make my own!  I made my own deodorant, so this should be even easier, I reasoned.  After some quick web-based research, I came up with this recipe based on the most appealing options and my deodorant experience.

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk 
  • tbsp dried rose petals (lavender would also be nice)
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • about 1 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 2 vitamin E capsules (prick with knife-point and squeeze out oil)

Whizz dry ingredients in a food processor until as fine as possible, then blend in oil until a stiff clay-like consistency is reached.  Store in small tub.

To use, scoop out a pea-sized blob and mix with water in the palm of your hand.  Pat over face gently then rinse.  This makes a more abrasive cleanser than I’m used to, so I may lessen or omit the oats next time.  Generally I’m pretty happy with it, and pleased that it could be made from benign household ingredients.   If only I could make soap too …

white rose 2

In another triumph of thrift, the camera is again working!  Mr Foxy was going to take it to enquire about repairs, but was resigned to purchasing a new one.  Circumstances meant that we couldn’t get to the proper camera shop yesterday, but rather to an electrical chain store, where we feared spotty youths rather than camera aficionados would be employed.  But all power to spotty youths with initiative!  “Why don’t you try pulling on that bent bit?” – Mr Foxy did, and the camera worked!

 Now if only the keyboard on the PC was as easy to fix …

***In exciting baby news, after weeks of commando manoeuvres around the living area, both twins started properly crawling TODAY!  Commemorative photos should be posted soon …

For Words and Pictures, hosted by Meet Me at Mikes

joy hester

Albert Tucker (1914-1999)

(Joy Hester at Heide)  c.1940’s

silver gelatin print

Collection of State Library of Victoria

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I love this photograph of Joy Hester, one of Australia’s leading Modernist artists.  It’s so light-hearted and, well, joyful!  There is an accompanying photo of Joy doing a handstand, this being taken immediately afterwards.  The photographs taken by Albert Tucker at this time are so evocative of the Melbourne artworld in the 40’s, when times were tough and new thinking was aplenty.  And despite breaking new ground in intellectual and artistic circles, there was always time for frolicking at Heide.

(There is currently an exhibition of Tucker’s photographs at Heide Museum of Modern Art.)

Inspired by Michelle’s Veg Wednesday posts …

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Well, it’s not strictly a vegetable dish – I think cocoa beans are actually fruit – but it doesn’t contain any meat …  and it is worth sharing.

Last night after a mixed up day of clashing schedules and lunch at 4pm, we decided to treat ourselves to a late take-away dinner from here after bedtime-for-four-year-olds.  We always have the soya beans in rice wine, wonton soup and a main with rice between us.  On a quick look at the Ravelry forums, I noticed a thread entitled “4 min chocolate mousse”, so had to investigate.  This led me here to a step-by step version of what is said to be a Gordon Ramsay recipe.  Lo and behold I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand!  It took a bit longer than 4 minutes, but was very quick and ready to eat after settling some young ones.  It is a little different to the mousse recipe I usually make, but may well become the one I turn to now as it is very good.  Here it is all on one page.

Gordon’s Quick Chocolate Mousse

  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Lindt 70%)
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white

Put your serving glasses in the freezer to pre-chill.  (I used clear arcoroc tea cups, but ramekins would also be suitable – just not the fine glasswear that may not like sudden changes in temperature).  Heat half of the cream on low heat until it comes to the boil.  Add chocolate and remove from heat.  Leave for a minute then mix gently until chocolate fully melted.  (Gordon allegedly puts pot in an ice bath to cool it more quickly but I didn’t.  The pan shouldn’t be too hot before the next step).  Mix in rest of cream.

Whip egg white with hand-held electric beater until soft peaks form, add sugar and continue to beat until incorporated and mixture is stiff and glossy.  Then beat the chocolate mixture with the beaters to thicken (don’t know if this is really necessary if you are using a thick cream anyway).

Gently mix meringue into chocolate mixture until incorporated.  Fill chilled glasses/serving dishes and chill again for as long as you can wait. (I just popped them back in the freezer for 10 minutes).  Serve with more cream if you can bear it.

This made 4 greedy teacup-sized serves, or could stretch to 6 espresso cup-sized serves.  It is very rich and very good.  And the perfect end to a delicious  meal that I didn’t have to otherwise cook.

I usually manage small bursts of knitting most days, but rarely if ever a nice, long session sitting cosily with an audiobook/podcast which is my idea of heaven at the moment.  I hate it when a day goes by without knitting – does this mean I’m an addict?  So lately there have been a few small projects which have been completed in a satisfyingly short time. (… photos courtesy of the video camera, somewhat ungainly for taking stills, and colour variation courtesy of winter light …)

sevencircle collage

A lovely tangle of woolly loops to adorn and warm the neck.  Pattern is the new one by the stylish and generous Kirsten, sev[en]circle.  A clever construction and fun knit.  I love how it looks like a dramatic ethnographic neck piece, only snugglier.  Made from left-over Bendigo Luxury in Cork Brown.  (Love those big Bendigo balls – always leftovers to make fun small projects)

sandstone leaf

More Bendigo leftovers in Sandstone Rustic.  I have knit several of these for gifts in the last few years.  Pattern is Lace Leaf Scarf by the wonderful Teva Durham, who was the first knitting designer that I discovered who made hand knits really interesting and desirable.  This is such an easy and quick knit, belied by its seemingly intricate form with its magnified lace motifs.

And more leftovers are to be employed in another Metheglin just cast on, this time to be in alpaca.  So off for my daily dose …

For Words and Pictures, hosted by Meet Me at Mikes

green1 collage

green2 collage

green3 collage

It’s more about the pictures this time, ironic given my camera is broken.  I have just learned that still photos can be taken with the video camera, but these are old ones from home, Singapore, Paris and Daylesford.

My camera died last week, so now to go through the motions of trying to get it fixed, then discovering that it will be cheaper to get a new one.  It’s only three years old, and apparently cameras of a similar quality can be had for a fraction of its original price.  I find it so dispiriting that things are not made to last and are so readily disposable.  Anyway, this means that for a while there will be no new photos here.  Sigh…

Happily, there have been a few knitting projects either completed or commenced in the last couple of weeks.

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The second pair of Kanoko pants, completed in time for Rex’s farm birthday.  These ones also in Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 5ply, doubled, in Raspberry (a lovely though discontinued colour).  (Incidentally, Mlle C. is also wearing a hooded cardigan I made for Rex from the softest rabbit angora that I bought in New Zealand when I was pregnant – a very special knit.)

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sky and choc collage

For the Ravelry Bendigo Woollen Mills Users Group 100g swap, I made my swapee this cowl of 8ply Luxury in Delphinium and Cork Brown.  The pattern is Metheglin

On stalking my swapee, I discovered she had recently scored a fabulous vintage wool cape in chocolate and sky blue, and I became obsessed with making something to tone in with it.  I also surmised from her projects and Ravelry faves that she seemed to prefer strong designs, classic items but with a twist, something a bit out of the ordinary.  I realise that it was risky trying to match exact colours, but I hoped that a colourwork design that broke the colours up a bit might tone in even if the colours were not quite right.  Apparently the colours are not too far off, and she doesn’t normally like scarves, so this has turned out to be a good choice (phew!). 

After knitting this, I am really sold on the Luxury, it’s so lovely to work with and has a beautiful subtle sheen.

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Many knitters will recognise this as a Baby Surprise Jacket, the iconic design by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  Non-knitters will just have to take my word for it.  I actually knit this before the girls were born, but stalled on finishing it when I decided I wanted to make the sleeves longer.  I have recently picked up and knit on to the the sleeve ends, so it’s ready to sew up.  I figure it would fit a one-year-old, but could work as a loose coat this winter.  It is knit from two skeins of lovely handspun by the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria.

I have also made another one of these (yes, this is where the camera died) in Bendigo Rustic 12ply in Sandstone, and am currently working on this exciting project with the brown Luxury left over from the cowl.  I love this stunning design, it’s a simple project with clever construction, and has the added bonus of looking like something Morticia Addams might knit while on the needles.

Inspired by Michelle’s Veg Wednesday posts …

canneloni collage

I borrowed out from the library the dvd of Jamie at Home, and just love it!  I’ve never been a particular Jamie fan, but admire that he makes cooking and good food accessible and has probably educated lots of younger people about being discerning about what to cook and eat.  This series is delightful in that it is set around cooking produce from the garden, so abounds in gorgeous garden settings, abundant fresh produce and lovely homey/vintage styling.  I love that the food is all relatively easy to prepare at home.  One thing that I just had to try was a cannelloni dish of cauliflower and broccoli.  It would probably be best to consult the book or dvd for the actual recipe, but this is what I contrived to make based on Jamie’s one.  I just loved that he used purchased passata and creme fraiche instead of bechamel, making this seem do-able even if you are feeling pressed for time.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Cannelloni a la Jamie

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • a dash of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (Jamie finely sliced it but I crushed it)
  • chilli (I used 2 tsp sambal olek)
  • thyme (a few sprigs)
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1 pk cannelloni shells
  • 1 bottle Italian sugo/sauce
  • dash red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • 300mls creme fraiche (I actually used sour cream)
  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • mozzarella to top (I used sliced bocconcini)

Break cauli and broccoli into florets and chop stems, then steam until tender.

Heat oil in a pan and add garlic, thyme leaves, chilli and anchovies.  Stir but don’t let them brown too much.  Anchovy should break up.  Toss in steamed veges and mix until coated.  Continue to cook down until soft.  (I added a bit of water to the pan so it wouldn’t catch).  Add salt and pepper and cool.

Pour about a cm of sugo into a baking dish and add salt and a dash of red wine vinegar and mix in.  Stuff cannelloni shells with vege mixture and add to dish.  (Jamie put the mixture in a plastic bag, cut off the corner and piped it in, but I had trouble with this and got in a bit of a mess – I think three hands are required, or some mechanism for holding the cannelloni shell!)

Add a goodly amount of grated parmesan to the creme fraiche and mix in.  It is meant to replace bechamel sauce so should be fairly cheesy.  Spread over dish.

Top with more grated parmesan and torn mozzarella, and bake in moderate oven until golden and bubbling.

(I think Jamie might have added some basil leaves in there somewhere)

 

I love how vegetables generally considered unattractive can be transformed by different cooking methods.

And because there hasn’t been a baby photo posted for a while …

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babies in hand knits! (including red hoodie made by Michelle for Rex)

Flickr Favorites

Grandma Twinkle Garland

Grandma Bunting

standing ovation



pears green

More Photos

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