Thursday, June 28, 2012

the little things

I really do think it is the little things in life that can make all the difference sometimes. A specially prepared meal for breakfast, taking time out for a good cup of coffee or tea or just making a sometimes tedious task that little bit more pleasant. Because when you think about it, it is the sum of all these little things that make up a substantial portion of our lives.

Porridge topped with fried banana, maple syrup and a little cream (based on this recipe) certainly made a difference to the start of my day. Somehow the piles of washing and cleaning I need to do, don't seem to be weighing down so heavily on me as they did yesterday.

I do love a good banana smoothie (full cream milk, a banana, a spoon of yoghurt, dash of vanilla and maple syrup or honey) as a quick pick-me-up late afternoon. When dinner needs to be made, kid's are not at their best, and truth be told neither am I, this is the perfect quick snack to tide me over until dinnertime. If only I could convince the kids to try some.

I have recently rearranged the mess that was on the middle bench of my kitchen. Cutlery sorted and in easy reach has to be a good thing. The tray tends to keep all the various jugs and cups together nicely.  Silverware and bone handled knives don't need to be hidden in a drawer for special occasions. Though I have another, more modern stainless steel cutlery set in drawer, I find I reach for these just as often. These knives are just the best buttering knives you will ever find. I'm afraid those stainless ones don't hold a candle to them.

I have started putting a pile of assorted napkins in a basket on the table. It saves the kids mistaking tea towels for napkins, which are a precious commodity on those weeks that it rains. This little stash is put together from ones I have sewn from quilting cotton, some Irish linen that was a gift at christmas and others picked up at op shops. Our little climber has discovered that there are other, more exciting uses for napkins.

I have been collecting vintage white damask linen napkins for over a decade. Originally finding a stash in my Nanna's shed, over the years I have added to the collection and now have enough to share around at a big family get together. They are getting a lot harder to find these days. But I always keep an eye out.

I have been collecting the napkin rings for just as long. I recently taught the kids how to pull a napkin through them. They do turn a meal into a more special occasion. It is amazing how many different variations in design and engravings there are on these little beauties. The personal inscriptions I do find to be the most interesting.

How do you make the everyday more special?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Julia's Tea Leaves (finally)

Several months ago, I was on the verge of finishing this project, Julia's Tiny Tea Leaves. It would have been finished months before. But the truth is that this project nearly didn't make it. You see I did run into a little problem. That was entirely my own fault. I ran out of yarn. On the wrist of the last sleeve, with only the buttonhole borders to go.

Only trouble was, this yarn was discontinued. I emailed many different online suppliers over the course of a month. It seemed nobody had it anymore. I even searched ravelry to see if anyone had any to spare. It wasn't to be found. I would even start thinking about it when I woke up at night.

Eventually I emailed the company that actually made the yarn. (In hindsight something I should have done first). They had it and were happy to send me one. Thank goodness.

It is quite a shame that this yarn is discontinued. A wool and alpaca blend, it is beautifully soft with a lovely mossy green colour.

The pattern was surprisingly quick to knit up. My largest project to date, but one of the easiest I have knitted. In no small part due to the fact that the pattern was very well written. I actually can't wait to make another. Perhaps in a tinier size for Violet or even for myself. The main body was knit in one piece and then the sleeves were knit from this piece on double pointed needles. Which was far easier than it sounds. I believe I'm losing my fear of double pointed needles.

I knitted the size 8, which gives Julia a little more room. It also made the sleeves (which are supposed to be three quarter) full length on her for now. The buttons I found in my button jar, which I had picked up at the op shop at some time or another.

So as you see this story ends happily, with a cardigan promptly finished, and no complaints from the wearer. I think she might even like it. It passed the not-too-long sleeve test and itchy test with flying colours.

And I have learnt to always, always, buy more wool than I think I will need.

Ravelry notes here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


You know those days when all appointments (unintentionally) fall on the same day? When there are also little school concerts to attend to in the afternoon? When the cupboards are (almost) bare? Well, today is one of those days. When I will be rushing here and there. Not my favourite thing to do. So here is a few little pictures straight off the iphone. None really related. But as you can see I am using it again.

Hope your day is a good one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

a short break


Firstly I wanted to say thank you for your kind and encouraging comments on my last post. Each and  every comment was very much appreciated. I am hoping that the issues that were worrying me last week have been resolved.

At times like these, when you feel you really need a break from your everyday life, the idea of getting away from it all, if only for the weekend, can be very appealing. And it's something that we don't usually do. It's a little too cold to take out the camper trailer. But at the last minute we booked a holiday house on the coast and packed the next morning and left.

We stayed in a unit which was part of a hundred year old or so large house. The kitchen overlooked a beautiful harbour. We went for drives. We went to the beach. We ate (proper) pizza out. We ate pasta in. We read and watched movies from the shelves. It was good to spend time together without the usual distractions and jobs to do. We went out for breakfast and bumped into my brother's family (who were in the area for a soccer match) at a local cafe. A happy coincidence. On the way home we stopped for lunch. I met a lovely reader, Liz.

There is always something soothing and contemplative about the ocean.

I'm looking forward to the week. I'm wondering what each new day will bring. Hoping to finish the beanie that I started on the weekend. Looking forward to the coming school holidays. And I'm feeling happy to be back in this space here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


As much as I would like to sit here this morning and write up some upbeat kind of post, I can't quite bring myself to do it. I've never been good at pretending that all is fine when it's really not. Sometimes life can feel just a little flat. When all the wrongness in your life is glaringly obvious and the rightness seems a little harder to find. When the sameness and mundane of the day to day can kind of get to you. I'm searching for that spark to start a new project or cook those feijoas that are waiting in their basket to be made into jam. But I'm not really feeling the spark right now.

A few things have been going on at the kid's school. Things that don't sit comfortably with me. I won't go into specifics but I'll admit to losing a little sleep lately over what has been going on. It may be tricky to work out when to step in and when to step back. But I've learnt this week to trust my instincts and speak up.

So please bare with me as I try to find a little more enthusiasm for the day to day. I know it's lurking in there somewhere. I may just have to force myself to find it again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quick Change Trousers (again)

Sometimes I am just dying to get all creative and make something I haven't made before. But not lately. In fact I find myself just a little bogged down with the day to day right now. But I still want to make something, even if I'm not in the mood for a fresh and exciting project.

So turn to my (and blogland's) old favourite, the Quick Change Trousers, I did. You will find the pattern in this book. What better excuse when your little one needs some new pants? We have lots of pants here. But not necessarily of the warm kind. And goodness knows we need the warm kind in these parts with temperatures in the low single digits as we head out the door each morning for school. It's been a fairly warm Winter so far. By comparison.

I took some lovely soft vintage wool that I had stashed away, a few quilting  and vintage cotton pieces that I had around, and sewed these guys up over a few days. I sized them up a little from the largest size to make some pretty big pants. They accommodate plain towelling squares and the pre-fold nappies I made quite well, but swim just a little over the modern cloth nappies. 

If you have a little one in your life, this is a lovely, easy pattern to make for them.  I have made them many times over. Violet has been wearing different variations since she was a newborn. You can see versions one, two and three by following the links.


The hardest past was trying to get my little model to stand still long enough to take a photo. Hence the photos taken on different days. The darker lighting conditions at this time of year didn't help much either. But you get the idea.

Now I just need to persuade her to keep her socks on...

Wishing you all a good day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

sunday evenings

Do you too find yourself clinging onto and savouring those last few moments of daylight on a Sunday afternoon? Knowing full well that the weekend is just about over. That you are on the brink of another (usually busy) week.

Thankfully some rabbit stew, a glass of cider and some Tricky Business do much to keep the mind off the inevitable early morning alarm. To distract you from the fact that you may not have washed all the school clothes you were supposed to. Maybe feel lazy optimistic enough to put fruit loaf in your (non-fruit loaf eating) child's lunch box. You might even stay up until midnight. Just because you want to hear that alarm go off later rather than sooner.

Hoping that you all enjoyed your weekend.. and made the most of your Sunday evening.