Posts Tagged 'ramblings'

At our place: the garden

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When we first moved into our new house in October last year, the gardens were rather weedy, not neglected exactly, just in need of some TLC. We’ve been busy trying to get them into some sort of shape since then – my mother spent a week solid weeding when we first got here, and we shifted a large number of things so I could claim the back garden for my blueberries, rhubarb and herb garden.  That has thrived there, and the roses we moved have done okay in the front garden, which is good. Other things moved forward or along, or were split up to cover some empty spaces.

When my parents in law came to stay, the first round of trimming and taking out happened – a feat repeated when my sister visited – are you sensing  a theme here?? Even our neighbour has been in on the act, removing an aging hedge between our properties, and then replanting the border. It has meant a reduction in privacy for them, but the long-term gain in better view and healthier plants will be well worth it. Our girls are rather pleased as they adore playing with their (older) girls.  Now it’s easier access. And I’m discovering it’s rather easy to pop through the garden for a cup of tea too 🙂

The weekend after the garden got replanted we also got given a huge load of mulch, so had to race out and get plants for along the driveway which we had denuded of old, ugly shrubs, falling down trees, and ancient stumps.  Looks sooo much better now.

There is heaps more to do – the veggie patch is underway but needs a huge amount more done, including finishing the boxes, and doing something about the greenhouse which blew down in the massive gale we had a few months ago. With winter approaching, there’s a lack of urgency, but it’d be great to have it all ready to go in the spring – and I’m looking forward to having the paths down so that we have less weeding and upkeep to do!

I’ll post more pictures later when we make some more changes – I’m terrible at remembering progress pictures, so often I forget ‘before’ pictures, so these will have to suffice for now!

FO: Mockingjay Dishcloth

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When I was putting together my package for our recent magic yarn ball swap, I got assigned a swap partner who is adores The Hunger Games. I figured that I could put together a parcel that was Hunger Games related. A quick Ravelry search came up with some Mockingjay charts, which seemed like the perfect idea for a dishcloth.

The chart that I used was intended for colourwork, but instead I used it to make a reverse stocking stitch pattern on the dishcloth, as I didn’t think that the reverse side of colourwork would be that practical for in the kitchen.

I worked it double stranded using Dk weight bamboo yarn, Patons Serenity, which was a stashed yarn, leftovers from a project more than two years ago, and I used 5.5mm needles. 

I could have centred the design slightly better – but when I had finished the chart the cloth was very rectangular, and so I kept knitting until it was more square.

I matched it with some ‘nightlock berries’ stitch markers, a little felt pouch, and some gorgeous China Glaze Hunger Games nailpolish.  It didn’t feel like a lot of goodies for a magic yarn ball, but I was fresh out of themed ideas, time, and budget.  But, my recipient ended up winding the yarn rather than knitting it out, so I don’t feel quite so badly about it now!

This was a fun little project, and I have always enjoyed the gratification of quick project, and this was no different – that said, it did take a couple of nights of chart following, but I think it was worth the result.

 

Anzac Day Activities

Anzac Day is more than just a day off work. It is a day to step back and remember the sacrifices made by the troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in the First World War, and beyond.  Yesterday there was a very moving assembly at school led by the Head Girl and Deputy Head Girls, who, along with a teacher singing The Band Played Waltzing Matlida and a moving rendition of The Last Post, recalled the events of April 25th, 1915 at Gallipoli. The poem In Flanders Field by Candian poet Lt. Col. John McCrae was read:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Tomorrow Miss 5’s class are going to visit the Cenotaph which will be a first for her.

And today at home we baked a big batch of Anzac Biscuits.  They are a popular biscuit here in New Zealand still. And especially with my husband. He’d love it if I made them year round. Rather than using the traditional recipe, I read some online and then amalgamated them, attempting to make a delicious but still healthier version of the biscuits.

Here’s what I used:

1C Rolled Oats

1/2 C white flour

1/2 C wholemeal flour

3/4 C Caster Sugar

3/4 C Descicated Coconut

1/4 C LSA

175g Butter

2 T Golden Syrup

1t baking powder, dissolved in 2T boiling water

2 t vanilla essence

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.

Melt together butter and golden syrup, and add to dry ingredients along with baking soda mixture and vanilla. Stir until combined.

Place teaspoon sized amounts of the mixture on a greased tray, bake until crisp in a 190 C oven, about 12 minutes.

Leave on the tray to crisp up for several minutes after you remove them from the oven.

They seem really good- you barely notice the reduced sugar content, they are still very tasty and by still using butter they are still crispy.

I have also managed to get into the sewing room for the first time in forever. My oven gloves were in a desperately sad state, and I was delighted that I was able to make up a couple of replacement pairs from stash items.

The top one is from some fabric scraps, I’ve no idea the designer. The bottom one is some delicious Michael Miller fabric I’ve had for a while waiting for a project.  The binding is home made binding I had made years ago, and I have two layers of woollen blanket inside, taken from a cot blanket I picked up from the hospice shop for a few dollars.

I don’t think the last time I made an oven glove I used the overlocker, but it was super simple to pin all the layers together and then overlock around. All the remained was to put on the binding and sew it on. A great use of a spare hour, and things from stash.

I’m not sure what rest of the day holds – I still have my machines out, the garden is calling my name too, and the children are about to claim the computer.  I hope that you have a great Anzac Day, and that you take some time out to remember those who sacrificed so much for the freedom we all enjoy every day.

Happy Valentines Day

We don’t celebrate Valentines Day in any commercial sense, however my small girls do so love the concept of the day as a day to celebrate special friendships.  After school today a card was made and delivered to the three girls next door, whom my girls absolutely adore.  And in lunchboxes today, there was a special treat – a piece of this cake…

Super easy way to transform an everyday cake (well, with my crew around eating everything in sight I try to keep the baking tins full-ish!) into something a bit special 🙂

And speaking of something a little bit special, I am super excited with a test knit I’ve got lined up… I finally got to wind the last of my Madelinetosh DK Wood Violet yarn, and it’s going to be allll for meeeeeee! Beautiful! I hope to cast it on tomorrow too.

I even had some expert help in winding it. Or rather, some help that was rather more enthusiastic than experienced. But I’m working on her!
Just as well I wasn’t winding green yarn and intending it for me – she adores green, and would not want to share!   (oh, and see that parcel behind her – all full of new yarn. Yum!)

Things I’m Loving

It’s hard not to be in love with the holidays. So I thought I’d join Kirsty in taking some time to be thankful for the great stuff that’s surrounding us.

I’ll start with the obvious – staying at someone else’s house means I don’t have to get dinner on the table every night, clean the house (obviously I do help out some though) or even get up early each morning with the kids. I go do to jobs and find someone else has done them by the time I get there (washing never mysteriously gets down off the line and folds itself at my house!)  so, very grateful for that.

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This next one really needs a sense of scale – but please believe me when I tell you this is a BIG key. At least as long as my hand. I’m really grateful not for the key, but what it represents.  Each night for the past three nights, this key has inspired a unique, impromptu story by my Father in Law to the girls at bedtime. So far, I’ve heard about the key to Pixie Hollow, yet more pixie stories, and tonight, the story of a Snow Petrel whose three wishes allowed him to find his way home.  Very grateful for the awesome memories that are being created each night with these lovely stories.

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Very thankful for my biggest girl, who is growing up so fast – she lost her first tooth this week. (and no, that’s not all her natural hair!)

And also very thankful for a lovely afternoon spent relaxing with friends – the girls so enjoyed a playdate with other wee girls, being able to play in their yard, borrow their dress ups, build a hut with them, and do art and craft as well. Such a gorgeous, gorgeous day too. Got to love the long Canterbury days.

Oh, and sorry for the photo quality – I suddenly realised that although I forgot my camera, my IPOD Touch does at a pinch. One more reason to love the thing!

Holiday Reading

I’m in the middle of my big summer holiday break, and have a thesis to write… so I’ve been procrastinating with all the good books I can find.  I thought I’d share my picks of the bunch with you – some will be familiar to friends reading this blog as I took their suggestions over what to buy!

I finished off the school term with some Camilla Lackberg novels. I owe the librarian at school for her suggestion (and yes, I’ll return the book pronto Maureen!), as I really enjoyed these. One awesome benefit of teaching, for me, has to be the school library. I can saunter in on  Friday and come out with a pile of weekend reads – and they even loan DVDs, which has allowed me to catch up a little on the recent movies I’ve missed by being too cheap to shell out for the cinema experience. Ah, but back to Lackberg – I read all four of the Patrik Hedstrom books, The Stonecutter, The Preacher, The Hidden Child, and The Gallows Bird.  Lackberg writes in her native Swedish, I read these in translation, and even found myself buying the final one in Kindle format when it wasn’t available from the local library.  Can’t wait for The Drowning to be released now too!  These are mystery stories, set in Fjallbacka, a small Swedish town.  It was lovely to read more stories set in Sweden after my Dragon Tattoo-fest last year. I enjoyed the main characters, and was engaged by the various stories.  A good, fast read.

I was totally captured by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is Morgenstern’s debut novel, and what a way to start! I loved the imagination behind the story itself – and the realms of what is possible within the circus and magic, but the pace, structure and description really added to this.  I was really fortunate it was as engaging as it was – this I took with me on a recent trip overnight where I had far too much caffine and couldn’t get to sleep until after 3am.  The Night Circus kept me company.

I found the main characters Celia and Marco very sympathetic, and the cast of minor characters were also very engaging. There were a raft of them, and their relationships were tightly interwoven, as were their fates.  This book isn’t just for circus lovers – it has tension, mystery, romance and magic within its pages. Definitely one to re-read for me!

I also really enjoyed Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.

I’ve been jumping about genres a little bit – this is a little bit mystery, a bit drama. Set in Mississippi, it explores the tensions of small town life through two major characters – Larry, a white boy who grew into a man, shadowed by suspicion about a girl who went missing after his date with her, and Silas, a black boy who moves back to his old hometown as a policeman.  The tensions that occur in the short period after another local lady goes missing are contextualised with flashbacks to the 1970s explaining the history of Larry and Silas’ friendship, and look at the way their re-acquaintance affects their present lives.

Larry and Silas aren’t the most sympathetic of main characters.  But as you get to know more about the history of each through the flashbacks, you come to care more deeply for them.  The novel is well crafted in this, and other regards, and I enjoyed it.

Some lighter reading was found in a bit of chick lit – Three Girls and Baby by Rachel Schuring fulfilled my criteria. It was cheap and fun.  Just $2.99US in Kindle format, it did me nicely.  This book looks at the life of Ginny, and what happens when she falls pregnant to her former boyfriend when she’s fresh out of college and fresh from their breakup.  There are some fun times to be had for her and her two besties as they decide to stay flatting together despite the pregnancy and to raise the baby together.  Realistic? Maybe not, but since when is chick lit meant to be realistic? It’s supposed to be escapist isn’t it!  Anyway, there are Kindle editions available of two follow-up novels already – which given the first book was released in July 2011 defies belief really! The speed at which the world moves these days is kinda scary!

Anyway – that’s it from me for now.  I’ve got more holiday time and more books on my Kindle waiting reading, not to mention a nice being Amazon.co.uk order waiting for me at home (I hope!) so I’ll be found with my nose buried in a book for quite some time to come.

Happy New Year!

I thought it was well past time I popped on to wish you all a very happy New Year. 

 

If you thought I must have been busy, you’re right! We welcomed the new year at home and since then have travelled to Christchurch, tonight will be our fourth set of beds in a week.  AND we’ve had three different candle-blowing-out occasions (with a grand total of thirteen candles blown out, despite the birthdays totalling 115 years. Some things just don’t add up! And that’s with one person getting TWO lots of candles.)

I have been taking my needles and knitting with me though, and I’m making good progress on my first project for the year, which is a lovely cardigan, Making Waves by Mary Annarella. I cast on in lovely MadelineTosh Tosh Merino Light, which is a 4 ply single, and is knitting up beautifully. The colourway is Amber Trinket, which is a stunning combination of colours – I adore these photos of Lina’s cardigan which made me fall in love with this colourway. In typical Tosh fashion, no two skeins seem to be the same, so I’ve had to alternate skeins through the body and I’m hoping the sleeve skein has enough of the various colours in to avoid having to do so in the arms too though.  Looking good so far – about four inches down the first arm. 

Apologies for the links rather than photos – guess who forgot to bring their camera??


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