29 June 2008

The Sunday Report

* Mr Soup and I are not speaking. It may be some time.

* Planted three bronze coloured sedges and five lomandras today. If the rabbits eat them tonight there will be blood on the lawn tomorrow, I swear. (Followed by rabbit in red wine with garlic mash).

* One orange on my baby orange tree! My god!

* On Thursday I discovered that Son #3 had been involved in a [minor] car accident on Wednesday. When I asked him, trying to keep the rising shriek out of my voice, why HE HAD NOT MENTIONED THIS, he replied I forgot. (EDITED as there seems to be some confusion: he's nine years old. He was one of six children in the car pool car. He was NOT the driver!)

* The car accident? Which involved FIVE cars? Was caused by a mother duck and her ducklings crossing the road.

* Today while watching the youngest child play in a soccer match, the wind was so strong it was actually blowing me off my feet. I kept wishing I was at home in my bed with a cup of tea and my book.

* A friend said my birds nest brooch looked like spiders eggs nestled in pubic hair. I find this funny, but now every time I look at it I see pubes.

* I've almost finished Broken for You and am thoroughly enjoying it. The premise is interesting, the characters engaging, believable and likable to boot, and the writing is elegant. The large print edition I grabbed from the library is proving useful at the boys' 6.00 pm soccer training sessions. I can read in the [near] dark.

* Alan Rickman narrating The Return of the Native is just divine. His beautiful and soothing voice accompanies me on my commute to work; I've even been known to go and sit in my car at lunchtime just to hear a few more minutes. Rickman does a credible West Country accent (all Cap'n Birdseye, guess what I put in my fish fingers, type of speak) and has a pleasant singing voice too - he sings little Wessex ditties and a lovely piece in posh French. The rest of the time it's sonorous Thames Valley RP all the way. Absolutely lovely. Well, except for the bits where the tape is stretched (it's a 1985 recording) and his voice gets deeper and deeper and slower and slower until I nearly fall asleep and drive off the road until the click of the tape giving in altogether wakes me up. I had to go to the library at work (handy, working at a university sometimes ...) and get the book to fill in the missing bits.

* There's a YouTube music video featuring him (Alan Rickman) in a car being sexy, and then doing the tango at a petrol station. Go on. You know you want to.

* I'm truly madly deeply (Alan Rickman reference there, in case you missed it) bad at Scrabulous, but am enjoying Word Twist.

* End of Term 2. Now, two weeks of holidays. (The children that is, not me).

* And because it's bad luck to post without a photo, here's a corner of the nature table currently. (Note lamp base as toadstool aid).

toadstool and knitted acorns on the nature table

25 June 2008


There's been all sorts of woolly stuff going on lately.

baby socks for Nina

More baby socks, this time for a client. She wants a green pair too.

baby socks for Nina

Aaaw, so wee! I love knitting these.

kettle dyed 12ply

A dye session with Sooz yielded three 200g skeins of this bulky weight 12ply (originally from the op shop, blogged here and I just re-read that post as I linked to it - that was a doozy, wasn't it? Sheesh)

3ply sock yarn, hand dyed

Also from the dyepot came these two skeins of sock wool. I am particularly enamoured of the two-tone one at the bottom (that's Moss and Bloodwood, aren't they fab shades?) and can't wait to knit it up. It's 3 ply sock wool though, not 4 ply, god help me.

granny square shawl

Keeping me warm these days is this little beauty, purchased at the Twilight Market recently. It was on the stall next to mine and I was eyeing it off right from the start when we were setting up. As the market began and customers started arriving, various people tried it on, thought about it and went away saying they'd come back. One woman even buried it at the bottom of the basket of woollies so it would be there later if she still wanted it. The longer this went on the more I realised I was starting to think of it as mine so I stopped giving people the evil eye and just forked out and bought it. I love it.

granny square shawl with op shop green cardigan

Love it. The other night I was wearing this shawl while sitting by the fire spinning. I kid you not. I tell you, it's like a fairy tale around here some days.*

birds nest brooch

This little darling called to me, all the way from Etsy.

birds nest brooch

Isn't it divine?

I was getting dressed for work the other day and Mr Soup said Are you going to wear a birds nest pinned to your breast all day then? To which there was only one reply. Too bloody right.

*You know I'm joking, right?

23 June 2008

staff of life

no knead bread

I'm possibly the last person on the planet to try this bread, aren't I? A few months ago everyone was doing it but I was all Meh, I've got my bread machine, I've got my trusty sourdough recipe ... I don't knead* another bread ...

* Did you see what I did there? Totally unintentional.

... and then I killed my sourdough starter, shock horror. And my breadmaker is for everyday pedestrian bread; I like a good chewy artisan loaf on the weekends. It goes better with the weekend papers and lazy afternoons.

So I gave the New York Times No Knead Bread a whirl, and I'm pleased to report it's a goer. This is the second loaf I've made, and this time I added the full amount of salt recommended as I'd skimped on it first time round, remembering comments around the blogosphere that the resulting bread was too salty. But it was a little too bland with the low dose of salt, so this time I added the prescribed amount, and for a change used 2/3 white flour and 1/3 wholemeal flour.

Whoohoo, it's sensational. We had it tonight with a hearty rich beef stew and mashed potato (we like our carbs we do we do) and a lovely glass of red.

The only thing about this recipe is the timing, as the first rise takes 12-18 hours. The long rise is in lieu of kneading, I presume? Once you've figured out whether you'll be around, or even awake, in 12 to 18 hours' time in order to do the punch down and then the second (2 hour) rise, it's a breeze.

I'm looking forward to it toasted, with nectarine jam and a cup of English Breakfast tomorrow.

21 June 2008

winter solstice cake 2008

solstice cake

Solstice Cake, rich and dark, to welcome the return of the light to our side of the globe.

solstice 2007

A chance to pause and feel the light within ourselves at this tipping turning point.

solstice lantern

Happy solstice, wherever you are.

See other solstice cakes here.

20 June 2008

You gotta love the internet

You might remember I was desperately seeking Gorgonzola?

Voila! And not just gorgonzola, but brie, camembert and Wensleydale too thankyouverymuch. Isabelle, you are a champ. I think, actually, my favourite part was the way you said "Daughter Two".

Now I would like to hear Badger say Yo, dudes.

Any other requests while I'm at it?

17 June 2008


I was tagged about a month ago. Finally getting to it.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was pregnant with Son #3 and had a two year old and a four year old also. It wasn’t a peaceful pregnancy but was filled with health concerns regarding the baby. Over the course of the nine months I was told that he was (a) a girl; (b) had two markers for Down Syndrome; (c) was worryingly small; and (d) it would be a quick labour. Ha! Ha! to all four of the above I say.

We were living in an unrenovated weatherboard house in Flemington, just near the Showgrounds and racecourse. I had a gazillion heritage and David Austin roses in the garden including a magnificent Crepuscule that grew to triffid-like proportions over the front verandah. (It's now been butchered by the new owners). The floor of the kitchen was held up by bricks, the bathroom was so tiny two people could not pass by one another and the toilet was Out of Doors. (This was to be our fifth and final year of living in character-building squalor as once the baby was born we would begin the five-month-long renovation [a highly sensible thing to do with a new baby around but I had vowed I would not toilet-train a third child with an outside loo]).

The boys went to childcare one day a week while I did a little desktop publishing and freelance writing and a whole lot of sleeping. I worked on an ancient Mac IILC with flying toasters as the screen saver.

I didn't knit terribly much, but I sewed a lot of the boys' clothes. (Something I rarely do now).

What are 5 things on my to-do list for tomorrow (it’s late in the evening so I listed my things to do tomorrow instead of today)
Deliver five freshly ironed eurythmy gowns to the Class 6 classroom in preparation for the winter solstice ceremony on Thursday evening (Class 6 traditionally walk the spiral and bring the light to the school community);
Buy a large white no. 18 to iron onto the back of Son #2’s soccer shirt (ensure get iron-on version as don't want to sew);
Email members of my committee re 30th September, despite it being my day off;
Bake a boiled fruit cake;
Knit an apple.

Note to self: also ring vet, ring insurance company yet again, book optometrist, book dentist, book Hamlet, take ring to be repaired, ring Apple for Son #1, buy juice and loo paper, collect Son #3 and two others from mid-week soccer practice.

5 snacks I enjoy
Raw almonds
Popcorn (butter and salt)
Rice crackers
Dry Nutrigrain by the handful

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire
The usual bourgeois suburban dream stuff. Pay off the mortgage, buy a decent car, invest for the children, donate to several worthy charities (Amnesty, Save the Children, investigate maybe three more), take the whole family to Zanzibar, London and Siena.

5 places I have lived
Islington, Beaumaris, Idaho, Flemington, Falls Creek.

Random meme!

15 June 2008

like, totally random, with wine

outtake from when they were babes

That is a photo of a photo (I don't have a scanner. Oh! Actually yes I do! The printer broke recently [see previous whinge post] and the replacement is one of those all in one printer-copier-scanner jobbies, but it's still in the box so it doesn't count). It's not even a good photo, but it's my babes, so there you go. Aren't they beautiful? We make pretty ones, the mister and I.

I can post this because they don't look like that any more because it was taken nine years ago. It's an out-take from a photo session we were doing in the backyard one Christmas Eve trying to get The Perfect Family Shot. They look hot, don't they? And grumpy. It was about 40 degrees, from memory.

Why I'm showing you an out-take, I have no idea. Probably cos the one decent shot (out of the 753 I took that day, trying to get three small children to all open their eyes and smile and sit still at the same time) is in a frame at my parents' house.

Moving on ...

I finished up my week of all weeks with some terribly social outings. It never rains but it pours. There was a violin concert on Thursday night, featuring the blonde curly bonced one up there.

Friday night saw a lovely lovely dinner with some lovely lovely women. BlueMountainsMary was in town, and as I had to work while she was out gallivanting with the other Melbourne bloggers, we arranged a post-work drink, with Shula too. Blogging is a wondrous thing, no? You meet someone you've never actually 'met' before yet you feel like old friends. Which of course you are; I'm not being very eloquent am I? As Shula and I were chatting, Mary opened the door to the cafe and it was instant recognition. As Mary said, all the filtering has been done and the small talk can be dispensed with. Anyway, I haven't met an axe murderer yet. I love youse all.

And I had the best, butteriest melt in your mouth gnocchi with pumpkin and basil I've had in my life.

On Saturday we had friends over for lunch which means the house finally got cleaned. Mr Soup made a delicious concoction in the crockpot which had cooked all night long, I made sticky toffee pudding for dessert and we had a fine old time sitting by the fire, chatting and inhaling the scent of newborn babe. Little Lulu arrived wearing this and a pair of these which made my heart skip a little skip of joy, not to mention relief that they fit. Son #3 was particularly enamoured with the baby (who is quite divine, good natured and in possession of a remarkable set of eyelashes courtesy of her Spanish father) and announced that he would quite like one too thank you very much.

Saturday night featured a fabulous party with great company and food to die for, to help a friend celebrate official middle age. I don't usually like parties (the what-to-wear and the you-have-to-mingle and talk to people, y'know?) but it was great fun and I didn't spill anything down my dress or drool, and I successfully completed a game of Spot the Partner.

This morning saw a soccer match each for the youngest (6-0) and middle child (1-0) and a spot of busking for the eldest ($$$).

And now I'm pooped.

This week had better be quieter.

In reading terms, I made a start on the big pile that's been languishing by my bed for the past few weeks. I picked up Allegra Goodman's Intuition which I'd had to abandon when life went crazy. I had been about a third of the way through but I can't get back into it. I'm sick of the lab, the mice, the postdocs with their lovers' tantrums. It went back to the library this morning, unfinished. Next in the pile is Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos which I picked up at the library the other day when I was looking for a new audio book but purposely avoiding the print books until my essays and crazydays life was over, and accidentally fell over the large print aisle. BabelBabe recommended this one and she never fails me (well, except for Intuition) so I picked it up. (Reading large print books is odd though; makes me feel like I'm being shouted at).

Audio book-wise, I just finished listening to Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith which was totally inoffensive and passed the time nicely. The narrator has a beautiful soft Scottish burr (Edinburgh maybe? Quite unlike the Glaswegian tones of Mr Soup's late parents), and the story features a niece who runs a delicatessen. Where I am I going with this, you're wondering? Well, there was a great deal of cheese discussion and I kept waiting for her to say gorgonzola but she didn't. Camembert, reggio, parmesan, brie, but no gorgonzola and now I have a quite irrational and allconsuming desire to hear someone with a strong Scottish accent say it. Isabelle? (I even asked Mr Soup to say it like your mum would, but it came out like a growly drunken soccer fan which was not the effect I was after. It was useless to say, pretend you're a woman, and you're from Edinburgh and you're genteel. He was already looking at me very oddly).

I can't remember what I listened to prior to FLC, but I gave it a B+. When I remember I'll come back and update. [Update: It was Unless by Carol Shields. Excellent stuff.] Next up is The Return of the Native which I grabbed because I'm striving to improve myself by reading all the classics Alan Rickman is the narrator so I can close my eyes and pretend Snape is in the car with me. Obviously I'll open my eyes when I need to overtake, or negotiate corners.

Here's a badly lit photo of a quince for you to look at. It smells divine so I had to include it. It went in the crockpot with five others just like it last Tuesday and was served with ice cream on Wednesday and Thursday.

quince with chicken bowl

Ok, my wine is quaffed, the kettle is on the boil and I'm about to take to my bed with a cuppa and a new book (Ithe shouty one).

Remember, "gorgonzola" with a Scottish accent please. I'm counting on you.

12 June 2008

New yarns in the shop!

There are some new hand painted and kettle dyed yarns in the shop.

In addition to the skeins seen in the post below, you will find this one ...


and this one ...


and this squidgy soft mohairy one. (Two of this colourway actually)


So please take a look and, you know, um, buy one. It helps feed my children yarn habit.

10 June 2008

Minutes of activities undertaken between 3/6/08 and 10/6/08 inclusive (AMENDED PENDING CONFIRMATION)


The Chair welcomed Ms Soup to the week, declaring this one of the busiest weeks in the year. The Committee received the agenda and the Chair invited the inclusion of additional items for consideration under Other Business, noting that the agenda was already crowded. It was agreed to add the following additional items:

Item: two children’s birthday party invitations received at extremely short notice, necessitating emergency expedition to hideous local shopping mall to facilitate the purchase of age-appropriate gifts.

Item: printer broken immediately upon return from hideous local shopping mall, necessitating emergency return trip to hideous local shopping mall. Vacuum cleaner broken (again). It was agreed this matter was of minor importance as due to the aforementioned crowded agenda, there is little opportunity for housework.

[Secretariat note: delegate to Mr Soup].

Item: head cold, irritating cough. This to be added to late nights; children requiring transport to and from inconvenient locations for soccer matches; and teenager’s forgotten homework.

[Secretariat note: participant observer 'Third Party Commenter' requested delivery of a powerpoint presentation to facilitate full visual comprehension. The Chair reminded Third Party Commenter that participant observers do not enjoy voting rights on the Committee, however agreed to accommodate the request. Stills from the full presentation appear below where appropriate].


The Committee received the minutes of the previous week and agreed to confirm them as a true and accurate record of proceedings. It was noted that last week felt like a lifetime ago so the minutes may or may not be ‘true and accurate’ but following robust debate it was agreed to just sign the bloody thing.


Item: Twilight Market

Ms Soup reported that the Market was unanimously deemed a great success. Members commented appreciatively on the convivial atmosphere, the prevalence of class stalls selling hot chocolate and soup, the outstanding quality of the products available (in particular adorable tiny baby socks, exquisite hand dyed yarns and magnificent felted items and the overall increase in the number of youthful and enthusiastic musical buskers.

Sub item: Busking
The Committee agreed to recommend that children be encouraged to attend at least three music lessons prior to commencement of busking. The Committee engaged in a spirited discussion over whether The Cuteness Factor should be included as a Key Performance Indicator or if financial outcome should remain the sole KPI. It was resolved to defer the decision pending further investigation and the possible convening of a working party to undertake the task.

[Secretariat notes for 2009 Market: (a) it is dark by 6.00pm in winter, consider recommendation of candles; and (b) investigate naturopathic remedies for stakeholders’ blistered tongues should hot chocolate enterprise be run by 11 year olds again].

baby socksbaby socks with light green toesbaby socksbaby socks with dark green toes


Item: Essay
Ms Soup reported that this is complete and has been hand delivered to its destination. Champagne would normally be consumed but the Committee was advised that bed at 7.30pm with a good book and a cup of tea appears preferable.

Item: Nine year old’s homework project
Igloo with caribou and clay Eskimo Inuit fishing girl complete and hand delivered to destination. The Committee agreed to seek professional advice to ascertain whether caribou is in fact, elk.

Son #3's iglooelk? caribou?

[Secretriat note: the Committee thanked those participant observers who provided expertise re terminology, geographic locations, etc]

Item: Family
Currently on hold. It was agreed to consider this item at a future meeting when members have the energy to attend to it in an appropriate manner.

[Secretariat note: Investigate benchmarking figures for toothfairies to determine whether five nights of no-show is acceptable business practice. Refer item to Quality Assurance Sub Committee? Option 2: Delegate to Mr Soup).

Item: Knitting
Nil knitting to report.

Item: Work
The Committee was informed that Ms Soup will be requested to continue undertaking of additional hours due to three colleagues being absent through (i) prolonged hospital stay; (ii) long service leave - 3 months in Paris half-his-luck; and (iii) nuptial ceremony [sub species: Extreme Greek, therefore applicant entitled to additional leave in order to cope]. The Chair enquired as to Ms Soup’s progress regarding planning matrix (seek MUDmap or similar?) required in order to achieve these additional outcomes but Ms Soup could not be roused from her exhausted unconscious state and it was agreed to defer this item to a later date.

There being no further business, the week then closed.

[Secretariat note: The Committee was reminded that the next agenda is likely to be just as full therefore members are requested to keep items to a minimum pending resumption of normal business c. February 2009.]

4 June 2008



I was parked by the fire eating parkin with lashings of butter, a cup of tea by my side, all cosy like, when I thought of you. And how you deserve some parkin too.

Banana Parkin

125g butter
75g (1/3 cup) firmly packed brown sugar
160ml (2/3 cup) golden syrup
200g (1/1/3 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarb of soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
65g (3/4 cup) porridge oats
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 overripe bananas)

Combine butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Sift flour, soda and ginger into a bowl, add the oats, stir in the butter mixture, add the egg and banana. Pour mixture into a greased and lined deep 19cm square cake tin and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes. Stand the parkin in the pan for five minutes before turning onto a rack to cool.

Serve with lashings of butter and a nice pot of tea. Practise your Yorkshire accent eeh by gum.


And because I just know the comment box will fill with Americans asking what is golden syrup, here's a link suggesting some acceptable substitutes. Enjoy.

2 June 2008

please come


there might even be hand dyed yarn ...