27 December 2009

21 December 2009

Advent :: Week 4

Advent :: week 4

The fourth light of Advent
it is the light of man.
The light of love, the light of thought,
to give and understand.


Our shepherd made his appearance last night and tonight I think Mary and Joseph might begin their journey.

We're in final count down mode here. Today I'm making the last two batches of fudge to package up prettily and deliver to neighbours and car-pool friends, there are drinks and nibbles on every night somewhere in the street this week, and I'm dragging out the suitcases and wondering how I'm going to fit in clothes as well as presents. Good thing we're going to Queensland where clothes are minimal and all you really need is bathers and sunscreen.

Yesterday morning began with the CFA truck tootling about the streets blowing its siren as Father Christmas leant out the window and threw lollies to all the kids. Living in the same street as the CFA station means our boys are some of the first to receive a hail of lollies, and if there are still some left an hour later when the truck has done the whole suburb, they get the leftovers too as the firefighters return to the station. Not bad.

Tonight there's another party with neighbours (the ones with a pool and spa, yay!) and tomorrow night I'm hoping that we can all get to the Botanic Gardens for this year's production of Midsummer Night's Dream. Then it's a long drive to drop off the dog at Greyhound Holiday Camp, followed by frenzied packing and a plane ride at sparrow's fart on Christmas Eve.

Happy Christmas or Hannukah to you all (I can't bring myself to say "Happy Holidays!" - it sounds so sterile to me) and thanks once again for a lovely year of comments and friendship. I'll see you in 2010!

PS. Congratulations to Bells whose name popped out of the random number generator last night. (60 bids for the calendar - wow!) Bells, a calendar is winging its way to you - I hope it brings you much pleasure next year.

18 December 2009

pink artichokes

This one's for those of you who come here for the knitting.

pink artichokes socks
Sock pose I

These socks were my lunch hour project. They lived on the bookshelf in my office and every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I would take them across the road into the park (or if it was too cold, to my couch) and work on them. Consequently they took many months to complete. I'm pleased with them though, and so is their new owner apparently.

This was my second time knitting the Artichoke socks. I enjoyed the pattern the first time and knew I would knit it again, although this time I made some small modifications to the heel. I would happily knit this pattern yet again, I love it so much.

pink artichokes socks
Sock pose II

I knew once they had been given away I would never get a chance to photograph them again so I asked a friend to do a proper photoshoot with me. My feet, my camera, Janet's photographic skills.

outtake
Out take

Oops, and my poor timing.

Vital statistics
Pattern : Artichokes
Yarn : Footscray Sock Yarn from Yarn Workshop, dyed by me with Kool Aid
Needles : 2.5mm
Started : July 2009
Completed : November 2009


Ravelled.

17 December 2009

a Christmas giveaway, just for you

calendar mosaic

I know I keep banging on about the 2010 calendar that Mary, Janet and I have put together, but my own copy arrived a couple of days ago and I think it is just beautiful. (Said she, modestly).

Those four pictures up there are my contributions to the calendar. If you want to see the full calendar and check out the other, rather more magnificent, photographs, have a look here.

To celebrate and share the lurve around, I would like to give away a copy. It's my thanks to you for reading this wee blog over its four and a half years, for commenting, for sharing, for cracking me up, for support, or for quietly lurking in the background.

Leave a comment on this post by midsummer's eve (Sunday 20th December, EST) and I'll pick a random winner. I'll post anywhere in the world. It might not make it to you by Christmas, but I reckon it will get to you prior to the 1st of the new year.

(Don't forget, if you don't win, you can always buy your own copy. Buy three and you get free shipping!)

16 December 2009

Advent :: Week 3

Advent :: Week 3

The third light of Advent,
it is the light of beasts.
The light of hope that we may see
In greatest and in least.


This week brought a couple of rather elderly looking sheep to the Advent table. These sheep were made years ago from a pair of old fluffy pilchers outgrown by the third and final baby and too knackered to be sent to the op shop. Each year the poor sheep get a little more splay-legged.

Son #3 ran to the lounge room this morning to see if the donkey had shown up yet. (He hasn't but he'll make an appearance any day now). It warms my heart to see the littlest boy still feels the magic - youngest children always seem to get the shortest childhood, don't they?

12 December 2009

Advent :: Week 2

Advent :: Week 2

The second light of Advent
it is the light of plants
Plants reach up to the sun
and in the breezes, dance


A combination of hardware issues (dead cable) and life (something on every.single.night) has kept me offline for best part of a week now, but I'm back and squeezing in an Advent post before the third Sunday of Advent tomorrow night!

I was happy to be back online until I saw my inbox. Sheesh. I'm ignoring it for the moment until I'm caught up on the more important things in life ... photographs, children's concerts, dinners, celebrations, and soothing cups of tea.

Have you had a look at our calendar yet? I can't wait for my own copy to arrive.

6 December 2009

calendar!

Just a note to let you know that the collaborative calendar that Mary, Janet and I have put together is now available.

I think it's beautiful, and I'm honoured to be part of this project with two such talented women.

It's hosted on Mary's redbubble account, and you can find it here.

30 November 2009

Tis that season, again

Advent 2009 : : Week 1

First Sunday of Advent, 2009

The first light of Advent
It is the light of stones
The light that lives in seashells
Crystals and bones


Each year I get lovely emails and comments about our Advent traditions, which spurs me on to ignore the tedium of blog repetition and just post them again. I feel I need to post them anyway - Advent celebrations are a large part of the end of our year and this blog reflects what's going on around me. So here we are again.

Last night as I was poised to light the first candle to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, Son #1 asked if he could do it. I hesitated (MY job!) but then thought it would be a good way of engaging him, particularly as he had been reluctant to get off the couch and join in, and so I relented. He struck the match and we sang the little song* and then I spoke the verse as the children each put a stone or crystal on the plate.

(Yes, it's a seasonal plate this year rather than a seasonal table, and that's just fine with me. It will probably go up on the mantlepiece tomorrow night when we put up the advent calendar and hang the angel chain. We don't do the kind of advent calendar where the children open a box or miniature stocking and get a trinket or treat every day; for a start I could not keep up with that every night for a month, and secondly it's the celebration and anticipation of the season that's meaningful for us. Our advent calendar is a humble cardboard thing with beautiful watercolour paintings that follow the story of Mary's Little Donkey and coincide with each chapter of the book as we work our way through it every December).

So. A new tradition wherein the eldest son lights the candle? Or maybe they'll take turns? We'll see next Sunday when we light the second candle.

If you are interested, I have written about our Advent celebrations in the past. You can find all the links to those posts here.

* Advent, Advent, a candle burns
Advent, Advent, a candle burns
First one, then two
Then three, and four
Then stands the Christchild at the door.

26 November 2009

photographic interlude

Some pictures to keep the blog warm as I'm a bit busy right now.

sunrise, late spring

Work has gone slightly ballistic but we won't dwell on that ...

well?

... and there have been rehearsals and performances of a rather hilarious production of Robin Hood from Son #2's class, which have kept us busy in the evenings this week.

tawny frogmouth after the rain

The birds still come and either totally ignore our presence ...

cheeky beaks

... or flap about noisily demanding we refill the birdfeeder.

sunrise from the lounge room window

There's been some knitting squeezed in around the edges of life. I made some cotton washcloths for a bloggy friend across the Tasman ...

washcloths for a friend

and a soothing-to-knit garter stitch cardigan for me currently on the needles.

short rows cardigan

I hope to be able to get back here next week with reports of Craft Camp (heading off here this weekend with the usual craft group gang. Squeeee!) and some rather lovely goodies to show you (I went Christmas shopping but only found things for myself. Must.try.harder). Also, there should be some news about a calendar soon.

18 November 2009

enabling

This ...

hand dyed sock yarn - Ocean Waves

and this ...

fire

and these ...

2 x Leaf Litter skeins of superwash sock yarn

just went into the shop. You know, in case you feel like knitting. Or just stroking some pretty wool.

In other exciting news, myself and two friends are collaborating on a 2010 calendar. It's going to be absolutely beautiful and will, I think, make lovely Christmas presents. We'll be selling it on Red Bubble so watch our blogs for a heads up when it's ready. I'm hopeful that it will be soon.

13 November 2009

Spring Fair - Saturday!

Constance Spry

The Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School open day and spring fair is tomorrow!

There will be school tours, talks on Rudolf Steiner's educational philosophies, pony rides, a Children's Tent, fabulous coffee and cake in the Cafe, gourmet lunches in the Dining Room, musical performances throughout the day (you might spot two of my boys), exquisite Waldorf dolls for sale, a butterfly enclosure, a rockclimbing wall and other children's activities, a produce stall selling all sorts of yummy foodie items, raffles and a wonderful craft market featuring stalls from talented folk in the wider Steiner community.

It's a fabulous day, and the school's biggest fundraiser each year. I hope you can come.

It's going to be hot too, so bring a hat!

11 November 2009

Nothing says summer! as strongly as a box full of mangoes perfuming your kitchen

evening light

When I realised the whole boxful were ripe, rather than a blend of ripe and unripe, I looked up some recipes for chutney, and mango chicken, etc.

I needn't have bothered. Turns out five people can quite easily consume 26 enormous mangoes.

7 November 2009

pop pop poppy

poppy seed pods

I gave my camera a work out the other day at Heide.

More here.

6 November 2009

fresh

I sewed a skirt the other night, from the cutting out all the way to the hem, in one evening after work. Talk about proud of myself! I was sorely tempted to go to bed with only the hemming to go, but the thought of the poor thing sitting there for another five months before I got around to it was just too depressing.

new skirt

It's a simple A-line skirt from my trusty pattern that's easy to make and I know fits me. The fabric is curtain fabric from Spotlight. If anyone out there has curtains like my skirt, I do not want to know, thank you.
I wore it to work the next day, and I'm wearing it again today.

pine cones

Earlier in the week I cleaned out the lounge room fireplace (because summer has made a sudden appearance) and filled it with pine cones for the warmer weather. I collected those pine cones by the side of the road one very very hot day in January, with Janet, and she took a photograph.

3 November 2009

bullets for your Tuesday evening

dramatic cloud

• Isn't that a fabulous cloud? Awesome, almost.

• It appears I've entered some sort of challenge, only with the housework and without the jogging. So ... today I weeded another garden bed, made a batch of muesli bars, baked bread, and helped the youngest child pack for camp. Hmm, not quite as impressive an effort as yesterday, which featured furniture rearrangement (a major and rare endeavour round here). I really should include the jogging, especially as bathers seasons is practically upon us. Well, IS upon us actually, as it was 33C yesterday. Or something.

• One of my favourite commenters started her own blog, yay!

• We had a four day weekend all because of a horse race. Not bad, huh?

• The Soup family celebrated today's day off with a picnic at one of our favourite spots. The boys and the mister took a soccer ball and three kids from a neighbouring picnic rug and a woman from a different neighbouring picnic rug all came and joined in the game while I wandered through the kitchen garden, albeit somewhat nervously due to the sign placed by the gate saying a snake had been spotted in there recently.

• This morning a cockatoo was trying to squeeze his massive self into the bird feeder. I always forget how enormous cockies are until I see them next to another large bird such as a parrot, or trying to fit into the feeder. (I did photograph him for you, but it's still in the memory card).

• I gave in and cast on a blue cardigan with the Silkroad (mmm, wool, silk and cashmere!) before finishing all the other projects currently on my needles. I justified this by saying I need mindless knitting for occasions such as picnics and SnB sessions, rather than projects that require charts and counting and no chit chat.

• Our department's city office is almost up and running which means I can work the occasional day in the city soon. Which means train time. Which of course means knitting time. Another reason for mindless knitting projects.

• Son #3 goes on camp tomorrow. I don't like this. Youngest children should not be allowed to leave home. Ever.

• We went out yesterday to look at rainwater tanks and came home with a $10 crabapple tree. And lots of tank brochures and prices.

• I'm on a Tudor reading kick at the moment. Currently in the car I'm working my way through Margaret Irwin's Elizabeth trilogy on audio book - Young Bess, Elizabeth: Captive Princess, and Elizabeth and the Spanish Prince. They waffle and get side tracked a bit, as if the author found some really interesting little tidbit when doing her research and then had to work out how to incorporate it into the story. Good though, mostly. On my bedside table are Philippa Gregory's The Constant Princess, about Catherine of Aragon, and The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. Gregory tells a gripping story usually although she is occasionally a bit repetitive and also has an annoying habit of giving her protagonist some little quirk or habit to denote anxiety/moral dilemma etc which she then bangs on about forever until you are ready to scream YES, WE GET IT NOW LET THE HAIR TWISTING/NAIL PICKING/SMUT WIPING ALONE. I don't know why I just typed all that - I've read all Gregory's books and enjoyed them, perhaps I've just read them too close together (ie all in the last 12 months). Alison Weir isn't a particularly elegant story teller; her prose can be quite bland and strangely stilted, but at least you know her research is spot on, being An Important Historian and all. I'm about a third of the way through both these last two.

• I went to the black hole that is Ikea the other day, and as is the rule, did not purchase what I went there for but came home with two lots of fabric (for skirts) two picture frames and this year's Advent candles.

• I did something the other day that I have mixed feelings about. I purchased The Artist's Way. Has anybody any experience of this practice? Am I kidding myself, or am I on the cusp of beginning a journey I've been heading towards for years? I have my end of year assessment essay due in on Monday (Pompeii again) and only then I will open the book.

• Son #3 let Son #1 cut his hair today. Talk about brave.

2 November 2009

feathered friends

cross lorikeet
A rather cross lorikeet, squawking at me self-righteously. I wasn't filling up the bird feeder fast enough in his opinion.

Rosella
A pair of rosellas have been visiting lately. They tink politely at each other and take it in turns.

King Parrot in the birdfeeder this afternoon
And this afternoon a King Parrot let me get very very close.

31 October 2009

fin

The end of Blogtober! I think I missed three days in the whole month, so not too shabby.

It is also the end of Mystery Sock Number One. Behold.

One mystery sock complete

Number Two was cast on tonight and is progressing well thus far. The design details in this sock are typical of Kirsten's patterns - interesting to knit and beautifully thought out. There is a lovely little lace detail in the middle of the cuff, and the leaf or petal design finishes beautifully on the toe. I will definitely be signing up for any future mystery knit-alongs that Kirsten hosts.

In other news, I indulged in a smattering of stash enhancement today. A select tangle of knitting bloggers met up today at Morris & Sons (which happily was having a 30% - 80% off sale) and shamelessly encouraged each other in the exchange of large amounts of cash for some luxurious yarns.

I slipped and fell and accidentally ended up with two skeins of Debbie Bliss pure silk, to be dyed and knitted into a future shawl ...

silk

... and then put back the 10 pack of Cleckheaton Naturals in cornflower blue that I'd been lugging about and exchanged it for the far more expensive but satisfying 6 skeins of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed. I see some sort of blue cardigan in my future and have already spent far more time than is healthy perusing my Ravelry queue in search of the perfect pattern.

Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed

Fin.

PS. Do go back to yesterday's post and read the comment from pebble dash. It's worth it.

PPS. As it's the last of the month, I've updated my current favourite blogs of the moment, over there on the sidebar. My blogroll was getting out of control so I've decided to just highlight a rotating half dozen inspirational blogs each month. Please enjoy.

30 October 2009

Friday

light at the beginning of the tunnel
Completely unrelated random photograph

Recently I left a comment anecdote rather longwinded story on Grace's blog when she showed a picture of an insanely adorable little sausage dog wearing a red coat, appliqued onto a baby tee-shirt. Grace, who is as gracious as her name suggests, replied to my comment to tell me that she loved my little story and that it should be released to the world. So here it is. (Leslie might like it also, or at least Baxter might).

I am part of a carpool that operates between three families, a high school and a primary school. Thus, three mornings a week I have several grade four and two children in my car for a twenty minute journey. (Yes, I hear all sorts of things - good, bad and sad. But I digress).

During the journey the children always play some sort of hilarious game like inventing ludicrous translations for the acronyms of other cars' number plates, or counting car competitions etc. At the moment it's Hard Rubbish collection around our area and they are constantly badgering me to stop so they can pick up that "awesome" computer monitor/broken office chair/old bookcase/miscellaneous junk off the footpath and take it to their doting teacher or home to their longsuffering parents (I decline, usually).

Anyway, the most enduring game, and one that is generally played every single day even if other games are going on simultaneously, is Spot the Lucky Items. This game has evolved organically over the months and involves the spotting of a number of things that we regularly or semi-regularly see on our morning commute, and the gauging of how good the day is going to be according to the percentage of items crossed off the list. These items include, in order of appearance as we travel from east to west, a shiny yellow VW beetle (circa 2005) in the swimming pool carpark, a red Hummer (for heaven's sakes) pulling out of a particular side street, a rusty yellow VW beetle (circa 1976) parked in the railway station carpark, the 8.51am train (double points if it's going over the bridge as we pass underneath), the meeting of a bus on the one-lane bridge (double points if we have to reverse off the bridge), a vintage brown car parked outside its house, and the little girl walking to school accompanied by her mother who always wears head to toe purple (except for the days she's wearing head to toe red, or orange - is she a closet Hari Krishna I ponder to myself?).

By now, those of you who live near my way, and I know there are a couple of you, may be recognising things from this list.

However, by far the most exciting and important thing to spot is the Little Brown Dachschund in the Red Coat, being walked by his adult male owner and an assorted bunch of children, one or more of whom may or may not be on a Razor scooter. (For a while there in winter the Little Brown Dachschund sported a snazzy brown drizabone sheepskin-lined coat, which while understandable given the winter temperatures at 8.43am, was just not the same. Luckily now spring has sprung the red coat has returned). The Little Brown Dachschund is extra special because we only see him occasionally, perhaps only once a fortnight, and the children get so excited now that they've started winding down the windows and calling out. At first his owners were a bit startled and I suspect thought the children were being cheeky, but now they smile and graciously acknowledge the adoring cheers.

Everyone is agreed; it doesn't matter how few other items are spotted on a Dachschund Day, it is most definitely going to A Most Excellent Day.

PS. A Most Excellent Day to a gaggle of eight and ten year olds = double sport, gardening, library, free drawing and the eurythmy teacher's absence due to illness.

PPS. I promise I didn't leave a comment quite this long in someone's commentbox. Honest.

28 October 2009

19

I know, I know, I missed yesterday's Blogtober post. I have a good excuse though ...

heads down bums up

... we were very busy celebrating our wedding anniversary.

26 October 2009

morning light

early morning sunlight

Each morning as I struggle to drag myself out of bed, I think to myself Tonight I will go to bed early.

And every night I think to myself Oh, just one more row ... (page, blog, etc).

25 October 2009

Inkish

Ishbel

Cobwebby ... ethereal ... delicious.

Ravelled.

24 October 2009

saturday sunrise snaps

merry merry king of the bush is he

early morning sunlight

early morning sunlight

early morning sunrise

The morning light has been sublime lately.

Thanks for all your sweet words for Son #3 yesterday. Today's he's less vomitty but still fragile and now with a bonus headache, which I have as well. So he and I had a lovely quiet day today at home while the others went to the school spring fair. The kookaburras cackled all around us and our resident echidna toddled about blissfully ignoring us.

This evening they're all at the soccer match in town (Son #3 dosed up with paracetamol and a chuckbag close to hand), I've got Ishbel blocking on the floor beside me and I'm about to have a cup of tea and indulge in a movie.

23 October 2009

Gastro: a tale bullet points

• the littlest fella spent a couple of hours in Sick Bay today until I could get to school to pick him up

• we are not generally a vomitty family so we are not coping well

• oh the laundry!

• and the smell that permeates the house

• the pitiful moaning, the wan, pinched little face

• the feverish little body lies on the couch, swathed in a snuggly handmade blue and green quilt, (so I guess it's not all bad)

22 October 2009

A leaf and a couple more answers

gift from the middle child

Son #2 walks his dog every morning and usually returns with a little treasure for me. Often a leaf, sometimes a seedpod or a nicely shaped stone.

Ok, continuing the blogfodder answers.

Linda de-lurked to ask ...

guilty pleasures? (the kind you can talk about, of course)
Buying these lollies and hiding them in my car so I don't have to share.

if money and time didn't come into it, would you prefer to travel by train, plane or ship?
I love the cliched romance of train travel. When I was 12 my family travelled from Melbourne to Perth by train (wait, have I answered this already on the blog, or did I merely compose this answer in my head? gah!). Anyway, I loved that trip - four days on a train, sleeping in those impossibly tiny cabins where everything folds away into the walls during the day, and magically reappears in the evening while you are in the Dining Car (Second Sitting). My brother and I spent hours roaming the carriages, up and down the winding corridors (yes, train corridors wind as the sleeping cabins are on opposite sides of the carriage), and played cards and board games and pianola in the Club Car every afternoon.

Ever since then I've been mildly besotted with long haul train journeys and have researched and dreamt about all the famous trips - the Iron Rooster (thank you Paul Theroux), the Ghan, and of course The Orient Express (thank you Agatha Christie). The Hogwarts Express looks pretty cool too.

best advice you have ever been given?
My mum always said do a touch typing course because you'll never be out of a job. I always resisted it, believing I'd be forever stuck in a secretarial job, but then I went to London to work as a 'temp' for a few months to fund my backpack-around-Europe-trip and the range of jobs available to someone who couldn't type, was limited to say the least. Upon return to Australia I caved and did a typing course and lucky I did or I would be even more crap at WordTwist, a less verbose blogger, and not to mention much slower at my job. Lots of my work colleagues are typists of the hunt n' peck breed and I just know they look enviously upon my superior skills. Shut up, they do.

did you follow it?
Oops. See above.

ETA: Yes the Trans Siberian Railway too.

20 October 2009

Blogtober 20: running out of post titles

custom dye job for sheepsclothing

Over the last couple of weekends I squeezed in another custom dye job for Stacey at Sheeps Clothing.

custom dye job for sheepsclothing

I can't wait to see what she does with it.

And a few more answers:
White chocolate Tim Tams? I've not noticed those on the supermarket shelves! I imagine they would only be good in small doses though. (Four biscuits in one sitting rather than seven). (KIDDING).

The shoes? From Colorado, purchased in March of this year so you might still be able to get them. They were my birthday present from the mister. Actually they weren't - he originally bought me a pair of totally hideous unsuitable sandals so I returned them and got these. Also the shop was having a buy one item and get the second item half price so I came home with a black merino-cashmere jumper too. Oops.

Oh and the baby girl names? I was reminded by Kim, another blogger who also never got to utilise her girlchild names, that Matilda was on my list also, with Tilly for short. And that in turn reminded me that a name I really really loved for a girl was Milly. However, combined with the surname that my husband and children have, it sounds like a medication, or a little fairy creature that might live at the bottom of your garden. So, that was out. The couple of you who know my childrens' surname (it's different to mine, yes to both parts of my hyphenated surname) will be chuckling at that and the rest of you will just have to scroll back to the top of the post and enjoy the yarn.

Sorry.

19 October 2009

reason #957 why I love the internet

Do you remember this photograph, taken in the depths of winter this year?

along the road

Soon after I put it up on flickr, a friend asked if she could paint it. (I said yes, very hurriedly).

Bringing the new day

My friend the artist (I love saying that) painted it, and then it went in an exhibition! You know, in a real gallery. With other paintings and pieces of glorious artworks, both by Michelle and other artists.

Yesterday I went to visit the painting and see it in the flesh, so to speak. It was quite thrilling to see it up on the wall - familiar, and yet not. *

My travelling companion (Son #1) had piked an hour before lift off so I had a rare day to myself. Quite lovely. I even went to the beach, which was cool and silvery and soft on this Spring day, with gentle plooshing waves instead of the blazing blue skies and crash and blast of summer.

sand in my shoes

It was quiet except for a few fishermen trying their luck.

tea tree blossom

Apparently when the tea tree is blossoming, the snapper will be biting, I overheard a fisherman tell his young son.

tea tree

I love tea trees and their twisted, gnarled ways. They remind me of the beachside suburb where I grew up - we used to make cubbies and hideouts in the tea tree between the road and beach and have all sorts of daring adventures. Until a local perve put paid to our innocent fun and we were banned from going there.

overlap

I watched the overlapping waves for a while and marvelled at how they reminded me of [knitted] lace. (Everything reminds me of lace at the moment. I even dreamt about silk lace the other night).

blown

* If you want to catch this beautiful exhibition before it closes next Sunday, you can find it at Gallery 775 in Red Hill.