Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our son has been busy with his air-brush again. No need to tell you what this one is. I'm told that it measures over two metres. The pic came to me via a mobile phone. I haven't seen it yet. Needless to say we're pretty proud of our boy and look at each other trying to decide whose genes supplied that talent. I've gotta confess that we have absolutely no idea.

The man of the house has just come in from the garden with a couple of lovely ripe figs. How did the corellas miss them? Lucky me. They polished off the plums that the man of the house had his eye on. Gotta be quick when the corellas are in town. I don't use nets as they are such a hazard to the wild birds. The plums aren't so important that we are prepared to endanger the little people that give us so much pleasure.

Bet you think I've forgotten how to knit. Not so, I'm working on a project that's not quite finished. More in a couple of days.

Cuppa tea time I think. Bye for now until next time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

They're ba-ack.

Corellas, the little ones or the long billed variety, I'm not sure which. They're a little smaller than the sulphur-crested cockatoo and, thankfully, not nearly as destructive. Every year at about this time they descend on the parks and gardens around this area. Scattered across lawns and in the trees like an explosion in a tissue factory, they feed, I suppose, on the seeding grass. I think they like the seeds in the cypress tree pine cones as well though I'm surprised if they find any as the yellow tailed black cockatoos were through here a few weeks ago for their feast.
Funny little blokes, they sound like a mothers meeting on a busy day - everyone talking at once, very sociable and very noisy. Chattering among themselves....... "Oh yes, I know. Just like my little Albert, doing very well at school he is. Try some of this rye-grass, it's delicious. No thanks I won't have another cup of tea. I'll just pop over there to see how Mrs. Pinkfeather is getting on."
This is what they look like when they settle in our yard. And how they look when I try to get close enough for a photograph. Pepper is beside himself trying to decide which one to chase first.
Entertainment all round.
Bye for now, until next time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mishkah's knitting yarn.

Some time back I started to spin some yarn for my sister. It is actually the combings from her little pomeranian dog, Mishkah. Well, at last it's finished. Yes I know I'm slow, but I have so many things on the go at the one time that some things take longer to finish than others. Lack of discipline, that's what that is. Anyway, here it is. I'm quite pleased with it and I think my sister will be too. Little Mishkah is such a tiny little thing that it's going to take a lot more combing before there is enough to make anything larger than a hat or scarf. As it is I suspect there is a little of my neice's dog Hershe (chocolate coloured of course) in there too. I think a vest would be nice. It has come out at about the equivalent of about 8 ply but should be knitted on larger size than usual needles as the yarn is quite fluffy, though not as fluffy as the samoyed.
Looking forward to seeing what is made from the yarn.
The man of the house has just made a cuppa tea - that happens a lot at our house - so I'm off to enjoy it. Hope you're all having a great Christmas or whatever belief you follow at this time of year. Bye for now until next time. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve in Aus.

Guess who's birthday it is today. Last year was one of the big ones and I decided to stop counting but they keep coming and here it is again. This morning the man of the house woke me with a pressie - a lovely glossy knitting magazine that I was too mean to buy for myself. Well I could feed a family of four for what those glossies cost. But aren't they lovely? So I've had a fun time browsing through it. Then there was a phone call from Toronto from our daughter & the gang (they're visiting family) and flowers from them into the bargain. A phone call from the Queensland daughter and one from our son and his partner - so I'm feeling thoroughly spoiled. Sigh - aren't I a lucky Mum?
Last year among my presents was this one from our son. Knowing how much I love elephants he painted this for me. Airbrush painting is a talent that he didn't discover he had until he was about 30 and he just keeps getting better and better. It's about 90cms square and has pride of place on our living room wall.
Must go now, cup of tea and some cake waiting - if I'm quick. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I've just finished baking another favourite for the man of the house. He loves this boiled fruit cake. I mix it in the saucepan that the fruit is cooked in which saves a bit of dishwashing. It's ideal for vegans as it has no eggs or dairy (man of house has an uncomfortable relationship with dairy products) Although the recipe states butter, I substitute olive oil. I could use margarine but I'm suspicious of all those creepy numbers on the side of the pack - numbers equals chemicals and we're already deluged with enough of those I feel. Its so easy to make that it is an old standby when an invitation says "bring a plate". If you'd like to give it a try here is the recipe: Prepare a 9" (23 cms) cake tin. (I lightly grease and line it with baking paper) Set oven for 180 deg celcius or 350 F.

Mix in a 2 litre saucepan:
1 cup light brown sugar
1 and a 1/4 cups water
Third of a cup of butter or olive oil. Oil is oilier than butter so slightly less won't hurt.
2 cups of mixed dried fruits.
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

Boil for three minutes and leave to cool a little while you mix 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt in 2 teaspoons of water and set it aside until you need it.
Sift together 1 cup of self raising flour and 1 cup of plain flour. (I use half wholemeal, half white and add the bran back to the seived flour.)

While the fruit is still in the saucepan, stir the salt & bi-carb mixture into the cooked mixture. (it will fluff up) Then working quickly blend in the sifted flours.
Good old cooks will probably tell you that this is naughty as the flour starts to cook the moment it hits the hot fruit, but I find that if you blend it all together quickly and get it into the tin immediately it saves about 20 minutes of cooking time.
Otherwise, be good and wait until the fruit is cool before blending in the flour.

Bake for about 35 minutes if the mixture is hot or 55 minutes if it is cold.

Test the cake with a skewer to see if it is done. You can enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee or heat a slice and pour custard over. Either way it's jolly nice.

All this talk has made me fancy a slice for myself. I'm off to see if there is any left. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Recycle Accomodation

Can you resist an empty shoe box? I can't. Throwing them away always seems such a waste. They're so sturdily made and useful for all sorts of things and I tend to stash them until I can think of another use for them. If I forget to label them it can be exciting to lift a lid to find what I'd forgotten I'd put in there. This one didn't get a chance to be stashed, I decided to turn it into a doll's bed-sit. Firstly I hinged the lid to the box with paper and glue, so it wouldn't get lost, then I covered the box with wrapping paper both inside and out. A pretty picture and some lace made the window and curtains and a cut-out of a fire and some icecream sticks made the fireplace. I used a scrap on wool fabric for the carpet beneath the bed.
For the furniture I made a real pest of myself and badgered all my friends for their empty match boxes, collecting 23 in all. The dressing table took seven match boxes and the couch 8. The armchairs took 4 matchboxes each. I stacked and glued the dressing table, reinforcing it with scraps of saved cardboard from cereal boxes etc. , covered it with white copy paper and used paper split-pins for the drawer handles. It's important to take the drawers of the boxes out before you start glueing, then put them back when the glue is dry. I didn't use a proper mirror but found some shiny silver card in some saved packaging.
The bed is from heavy card from packing cartons with the mattress base a flat box (more packaging waste) I covered it all with white copy paper. The mattress and pillow and bedding are scraps from my sewing offcuts.
I stuffed the couch and chair matchboxes with newspaper to give them some weight then wrapped them in white paper, firmly glued, before covering them with some cotton dress fabric - with stuffing in the appropriate places. I wrapped the boxes in the fabric like little parcels and glued the closures then glued all the boxes in place to make the furniture. I reinforced the base of each piece of furniture with some white card. For the seat of the couch I glued three boxes together side by side before covering them with the stuffing and fabric. The back of the couch was made the same way.
The family of dolls is made from corset laces stuffed with pipecleaners. Yes, corset laces (I had some in my stash) but you can use shoelaces. The hair is embroidery floss and the clothing T-shirt fabric (because it doesn't fray easily). The dolls heads are tiny circles on T-shirt fabric, filled with a little stuffing and gathered into a ball then stitched onto the bodies.
It was fun to make and it all packs back into the box to be put away when not in use.
Well I'm off now to take Pepper for a walk. We are getting so fit, Pepper and I and sometimes the man of the house comes too. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joe (one of the woodworkers) gave me this lovely little surprise a couple of days ago. It's a Christmas tree ornament cut from a scrap of pine. Joe made it on the scroll-saw and it's made from a single piece of timber - no glue anywhere. I'm still trying to work out how he did it. And its so delicate, only 10cms long. Why those fine bits didn't snap is beyond me. I suppose I should paint it silver and sprinkle it with glitter but at present I'm just enjoying the look of the timber. Thank you Joe.
We spoke to our daughter & her family on Skype and web-cam a few days ago. They are visiting an Aunt & Uncle in Toronto, Canada for Christmas. They wanted to experience a snowy Christmas, but honestly, 30deg. below zero (which its quite likely to be) is rather overdoing it I think. It was lovely to see them. Isn't modern technology amazing.
Still working on Christmas-gift sewing so I gotta go. Hope you're having a great day. Bye for now until next time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another blanket.

I found this pattern in a magazine a few weeks back and thought I'd give it a try. I think it's more attractive than plain squares and it is dead easy to do as it's all plain knitting. The squares are achieved by knitting 3 stitches together at three intervals along the row and 2 together at each end. This is done on every second row. The squares are supposed to be made individually and sewn up later but I dislike sewing up so pick up stitches from the edge of the previous square and knit on from there. You can see there is one seam to be sewn to close up the square but I think the finished effect will be worth that little bit of sewing. It uses up small balls of yarn which I seem to accumulate in mammoth quantities. I am interested to see how it looks when it is finished.
Christmas gifts to sew today so I'd better get moving. Hope you have a nice weekend. Bye for now until next time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gala Day at the Cheese Factory.

The day the Woodworkers gave away the year's work.
What a perfect day. Lovely weather, lots of lovely people and super afternoon tea, oh and yes, lots of lovely toys. I'm proud of all the woodies for the work they put in and if you want to have a look go to Melanie's page at nunde, she took some great photos. Melanie is in my followers spot at the right; sorry I don't know how to do the link thing. I took a photo of the prams before they were taken up to the Cheese Factory to be given away. Here they are. The man of the house and other woodies made them and painted them and it was my job to paint the little flowers. Folk painting is not my strong point but you can hardly go wrong with a few daubs of colour. I had planned to make the flowers poppies but when I added the black centre it looked like a spider. I thought that would scare a little child so I got rid of it. Children see things differently from us don't they? I remember our oldest girl could see a bird in our kitchen wallpaper, when she was little, and regularly fed it with her dinner making a big mark on the wall near her highchair. It was actually the spout of a kettle in a kitchen design but her little two year old self didn't see it that way.
More rain in Melbourne today - wonderful.
Time to take Pepper for a walk. Bye for now until next time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bath time

No, I don't want to talk to you.

I said I'm not talking to you.

How could you do that to me. I thought you loved me.

Pepper did not enjoy his bath. The laundry floor is awash with bathwater, and the man of the house and I got considerably wet. Yes it took two grown adults to bath a protesting little poodle but he has forgiven us, especially as, now that he is cleaner, softer, and sweeter smelling he is getting a lot more cuddles. I'm told that poodles are needy little people and love plenty of attention. Certainly I find that praise and cuddles work very well when getting him to do what I want.
The man of the house has just brought me a cup of tea so I'm off the enjoy it. Bye for now until next time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One of the toys that will be given away this coming Sunday (our big Gala Day) is this lovely little dolls highchair, well twelve of them to be exact. Denis, one of the Woodies, designed the chair, scaling it down from a full size highchair and tweaking it here and there to make it nicer. Clever man our Denis. The tray of the chair lifts up just like a real chair. It was Stewart, another of the Woodies, that did most of the construction work on the chairs, also the painting. I think I did a bit of sanding on them.
That's Pepper getting his nose is on the act there. Have you noticed that about dogs; they can be sound asleep in their basket, then as soon as you start on something out the ordinary they're there, checking up on things. He doesn't know it but he's in for a bath today, first time I will have bathed him since he's been here. I wonder who will get the wettest.
Must be off to get on with it. Hope you're having a lovely day. Bye for now until next time.