Thursday, 30 June 2011

Today I made...

Roll-on perfumes.

First for some good news... I have beaten the cold bug and feel fine again (my DH has caught a cold though it seems to not be the one I had because he is losing his voice too) and some small bad news... my right elbow is aching (for some reasons unknown) so I haven't been stitching at all for the last few days.

I've needed to do something to fill in my time so I have been playing around with my soap and cosmetic making supplies. Remember a few weeks back when I made lip balm? Since then I've made some solid perfume balms for my Mum (trying to replicate a scent that she loves but is no longer available to purchase) which were packaged in some small lip balm pots. They smelled divine and Mum loved them.

Today I got the idea to make a roll-on perfume. It is packaged in these cute little roller ball topped bottles and I made four different scents. The first was the same as the balm I made last week, and the remaining three were made because I couldn't narrow down the definite scent that I liked the most. They were totally easy to make just a slosh of this a splash of that and pop on the lid. In fact the little labels I made to go on the bottles to about 10 times longer to produce than the perfume did. Weird huh?!

Also today I remelted some of my tubed lip balms from earlier in the month. It was fabulous in the little pots, just the right consistency but a complete failure in the tube that I had been trialling. Actually it feels wonderful on my lips but it is rather soft and will wind up (but not down) and can only really be applied by patting it on my lips and I prefer to smear it on. So today I got a little cosmetic beeswax and added it to the tube mixture. Still not quite happy this time it is a little too hard (and my tester doesn't feel as nice on my lips) so tomorrow I will remelt it again and have another go. The third time will hopefully be a charm.

I also picked up a starter kit for making my own soap from SCRATCH. I am really nervous about doing this cold process soap making as it requires adding highly alkaline liquid to melted fats and oils and then letting nature take its course. I am sure I can manage it but I just don't want to burn a hole in the bench, myself or any other object in my home. I  hope it will be fun and safe to make but I'm not exactly looking forward to the 6 weeks it will take to cure and dry before we can use it.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Another year older... but am I any wiser?

Short answer? No probably not. Long answer? Maybe, but it is too soon to tell for sure as my day was only on the 23rd. 

Last week I had my X9th birthday, it was a fairly subdued event. I don't like too much fuss and fanfare directed at me, I prefer to get excited about other people's birthdays. I am at the point where I've had enough birthdays to realise that reaching each additional one is an achievement (and a blessing) but not enough to wish I could begin counting backwards each year.

I did get some lovely pressies and my Mum and StepDad took all the family out for dinner to celebrate. Miho and Seth gave me some cute gifts from Zakka Box. There store motto is Nothing You Need But All You Want, I think that is really cute and a very honest sales pitch. Miho and I must pop in for a look... I bet it is full to the brim of gorgeous things I couldn't possibly go home without. ;) Here is a selection of all the little treats I received - also the rug (in the background) is a new one from my Mum.

I planned a girls day with my Mum for my birthday, we rarely get time just for the two of us to natter about everything and nothing at all and just enjoy each others company. Usually our time together is filled with the happy bustle of making kids snacks and giving foot rubs, tripping over toys, giving back tickles, painting very tiny finger nails, looking at ant bites,  and building cushion forts etc. Of course we both adore doing all those things too, but sometimes at the end of a visit we realise we never got time to say more than 4 words to each other amongst the happy hubub.

I arrived a bit earlier than expected because the traffic was so light. I let myself in with my key (as I always do) and found the house quiet and dark. I guessed Mum was having a well earned lie in (a rare indulgence for her as she is always so busy helping us all the time) so I quietly set about doing some of her chores. I hung out the washing, brought in and folded the dry washing, put away the ironing board, washed the few dishes in the sink and wiped down all the bench tops. Then I looked around for something else to do but there wasn't too much (quiet) left so I sat on the sofa and flipped through a few coffee table books. After about 20 minutes I was bored so I decided to unpack the dishwasher. I figured I couldn't do it without making some noise with the pots and pans and I didn't want to have a panicked mother calling 000 (911) to report me as an intruder so I used my mobile phone to call her house phone. When Mum answered I softly said good-morning and that I'd try to be quiet while I unpacked the dishwasher... to take her time getting up and I'd put the tea-kettle on in a little while.

We visited a book wholesaler together and I got Speedcleaning by Shannon Lush. I hate housework and cleaning, always have but I am hopeful with all the great strategies in this book I can't say I always will. I spent the day on Saturday testing out some of the ideas. I must say for the first time ever I actually felt like my bathrooms were clean when I finished cleaning them. I have been scouring ebay for some of the other books in this series.

I stretched my birthday to the weekend by indulging in some cooking. I made some more Raspberry Jam because believe it or not all that I had made last week was eaten or given away and I also stayed home from Mr W's soccer match which was held at Mandurah (a 2 hour round trip from our home ugh!) to cook up more tomato sauce for our pasta dishes. 

We had the first bottle of sauce with our dinner tonight... I hope it isn't too boastful to say it was absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Blue Stars Class Design

I have finally finished the main design from Barb Suess' Blue Stars class. I love this design and the class was fun to take. I especially liked watching the videos that were included in the class this time.

I'm not sure how keen I am on doing the spider-web back-stitching required for this design and I suspect it is one of the reasons I dawdled on completing it... apart from my elbow which has been sore and resulting in me avoiding hand stitching a bit lately. The design really looks great with the lovely red centres so I couldn't imagine not stitching the spider-webs.

I will complete the other designs provided in this class in the near future but for now I have some other temari that need attention.

Fingers Crossed

We had a huge thunderstorm storm on Friday during which we had 50 or 60mm of rainfall within about 30 minutes. The lightening was spectacular, it really ionised the air, nothing smells sweeter than the air after a good electrical storm. The weather girl on our news tonight said it had been a one in ten year event, but I think they have already forgotten about the big storm we had in March 2010 which was accompanied by massive hail storms and widespread flooding. We were lucky to avoid damage to our property but several people I know experienced various degrees of flooding in their homes or businesses.

We were heading out for dinner when the storm hit at 6pm and got stuck in a massive traffic jam because several of the northbound lanes on the Kwinana Freeway were a foot (30cm) deep in water. When we got further up North (we went to an Italian restaurant in Morley) we almost got stuck in a 60 metre long (and most likely deeper than a foot) puddle. Thank goodness for the X-Trail's extra undercarriage height, my little car would have drowned in that mass of water. Mr W did think it was awesome to drive along with water splashing so high up the sides of his window and over the bonnet. Luckily our WA ground has been so dry that most of the rainfall has quickly soaked right through our sandy soil. I hope the same can be said for the rest of the rainfall this week as BOM Perth has predicted rain storms and showers until Saturday with a big one due tomorrow morning. I am hopeful our luck will keep holding out.

The same can't be said for the poor folk of Nebraska I saw on the news tonight. It looks like your Northern Summer is following the destructive weather pattern experienced by our Eastern States of Australia during our last Summer. I just couldn't help but cry when the reporter said it was expected that this massive swathe of water is just going to continue engulfing community after community as it travels across the US. I am keeping your communities in my thoughts and prayers. 

Be safe where ever you find yourself today and if life has sent you a bushel of lemons this week try to keep positive and just go look for your lemonade recipe. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Cock-a-doodle DON'T

Oh dear! Last week we discovered for sure something we had been suspecting for several months now. Even though there was no crowing, strutting or other rooster-like behaviours we thought one of the chicken was not what it seemed.

One of our girls in the coop was actually a BOY!!!

Andy, formerly known as Andi
We live in a metropolitan area so we are strictly not allowed to keep a rooster under our local government laws. One complaint from the neighbours about a crowing rooster would have put our entire flock at risk, as the ranger may have demanded we get rid of all our girls. Remember Andi and Lucia? Well Andi turned out to be Andy and so we telephoned the breeder to requested that we exchange him for another her.

We were very lucky that the breeder accepted that she had mistakenly sold us a cockerel (young rooster) instead of the pullet (young hen) we had requested so she agreed to give us and exchange chicken. As a bonus she was coming down near our house last Friday to bring her daughter to a cheer-leading competition so he provided a pick up/delivery service.

It was pot luck for the new chicken, by this I mean the breeder brought us a chicken that (based on her knowledge of our flock) should work in with our other girls. Being winter there is not too much choice for point of lay chickens in Perth - especially as our summer was so hot, many breeders have not hatched new chickens for more than 2 months.

Puffle has features of all the other chickens in our flock.
The new chicken has been called Puffle. She is part Polish and Rhode Island Red (and some other stuff I think) but she is a pullet which means we should soon be getting eggs from her. Eggs is not something Andy was ever going to give us. Puffle has the same colour legs as Lucia, a lavender tail like Toetoe, light coloured body feathers like Itchy, dark coloured neck feathers like Scratchy and a puffy helmet of black feathers like Vegemite. She was in with a heap of Roosters at the breeder so she is a bit skittish but I am sure she will calm down. Feeding Mealworm snacks by hand is how we tamed all the other chickens and I am sure it will work on this one too.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Right now I am surrounded by a bunch of works in progress and unfinished objects that I just can't seem to get completed. My DH is recovered from his recent illness and I am managing to win the war against my cold (despite losing a few small battles - 2 days in bed). So now I am trying to focus on finishing up some projects.

So far I have completed a bunch of Kanzashi-style flowers. I've turned them into bobby pins, brooches, head bands and hair elastics.

And also completed are some scribble yarn flowers too. These have almost all been turned into brooches.

I am still working on my Blue Stars class Temari. Slowly slowly goes it, so many other students have done the most marvellous jobs on their Temari from this class. I think Michelle (temari by the sea) has made the most lovely set of Temari using the class notes. My favourite is the is stitched with white and blue on a pale blue base... just indescribably beautiful... what else can I say... my heart skips a beat when I see it.

I hope to share the finished Blue Stars temari picture next time.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Neighbourhood network

We have lived in our neighbourhood for about 15 years. Everyone has always kept to themselves although we have always stopped for a quick chat when saw each other or waved as we drove past. Over the years several houses were rental properties, these days all but one house is owner occupied so there is a quiet stability. Actually the lone rental house is owned by the grandson of the lady at the top of the street... so it is all in the family.

Something has changed over the last year or so. Perhaps it is partly due to my own desire to be more a part of the local community now that I have more time because I'm not working 3 different jobs. Also I think we have all begun to look more inwardly at our own lives and decided to become more self reliant which has brought all our interests together. Most of us now have a vegetable patch (or a herb garden) and fruit trees in our yards. We are extremely lucky that there are a few tradespeople in the street: a plumber, cabinet maker, electrician and a lawn mowing contractor.

At Christmas I gave some temari ornaments to all the neighbours and I think that was the start of something.
The guy up the street makes his own pasta sauce, and before I started making my own, he dropped some down to us, also he has offered any herbs as needed from his wonderful herb garden. On Monday he is going to help out with an electrical problem - so generous.
This afternoon the lady over the road brought us a big bag of mandarins given to them from a friend's tree... is anyone else thinking marmalade??? The mandarins were a thank you gift for some fish my DH had given them last weekend, I also gave them a jar of raspberry jam today.
One of the teenagers in our street gave Mr W all his old toy cap guns and matchbox cars etc when he clearing out his bedroom.
The fellow down the road helped us out with some plumbing problems recently.
We share excess eggs from our hens and often I've had all the kids in the street in my tiny kitchen when we are baking (cookies or brownies or cupcakes) and everyone gets to take some home to share with their own family. I've also given out home made bars of soap and will give out some lip balm soon too.
All the kids swap games between them from time to time.
A few weekends back Mr W had a sleep over with the boys at the end of the block and in the morning they all came back to our house to enjoy stacks of fresh hot pancakes with every imaginable topping on them.
We have a "bag over the fence' system with one neighbour and he has shared mulberries, avocados and advice on keeping chooks (which he also did for several years but no longer does) and we pop whatever we have in season into the bag and send it over the fence for him.
One of the neighbours will often edge our lawn on his way down the street, and has even mowed the entire front lawn for free when my DH was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't push our mower. Many of the men folk commune and discuss ideas for maintaining their vegetable patches, gardens etc and share advice on other interests such as their cars, boats, motorbikes....

We have a nice little community going in our neighbourhood. It is wonderful to be involved in sharing this way in our own street.

In my next post I'll share some crafting.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Cooking Catastrophes

This week has been a bit slow. DH has been home from work all week being sick. I am fighting off a head cold that I think I may have picked up at the Dr's office on Monday... at the moment I am still winning.

I have done a few stitches into my Blue Stars Temari project this week, it is almost finished but I can't settle long enough to get much done.

I made some raspberry jam and preserved lemons on Thursday. Yesterday morning I picked up one jar of lemons to swish around the salty liquid (as per the instructions in the recipe) and to my horror the lid popped right off. Then the jar spun out of my hand and crashed into a jar of jam. Aaaaaarrrrrggggh!!! The lids on the large preserving jars I purchased this week are useless, completely and utterly useless. To prove it I had my dining chairs and table covered in a lemony brine and the floor covered in brine, glass and my precious raspberry jam. I could have cried.

DH was feeling a little better in the afternoon yesterday so he made some preserved limes and pickled beetroot using produce from our own garden.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Temari is the drug

Today I spent a very boring 1.5 hour in the Doctors surgery with my husband.

I sat there waiting, waiting, waiting trying not to breathe in any of those infectious bugs all the patients (including my DH) was releasing into the air. I never read the books provided because I don't want to pass on any bugs to the next reader and I don't want to pick up any from the last readers either. I'm really not a germophobe, I just think it makes sense to take care especially at the beginning of cold and flu season.

I think I must have had regretful thoughts about deciding not to take my temari bag for at least 70 minutes. I know I was fidgety and uncomfortable looking, maybe other people thought I was there to see the Doctor about some type of drug replacement therapy.

To amuse myself I people watched and tried to diagnose each patient as they walked in... this is really only a fun game for two players and DH was just too sick to be interested in playing. I counted all the glass bricks in the front wall (there are 104) and also the number of down lights in the waiting room area (15). A Pharmaceutical Company Rep came in with several bags of morning tea from Miss Maudes. This made me wonder how big drug company marketing budgets must be if their Rep's could go around providing morning tea to all these Doctors. I don't go to the Doctor often but I can recall seeing 2 Reps bringing several silver platters of food into the surgery last time I was there. Of course that line of thought didn't last too long because I began thinking about Black Forrest, Lena cake and French Vanilla slice. Yum, yum and yum.

I also noticed a chart that advertised the locations around the globe where communicable diseases are most likely to be found (to ensure you have the required shots before you leave here). I was most surprised to find that there was a Japanese version of encephalitis, and that in Australia we have no real history/frequency of any of the 8 illnesses featured on the poster. Except for Rabies which denoted by the tiniest patch of pale yellow... I mentioned to DH that those must just be Aussie politicians who would account for all the domestic rabies cases, the lady next to me overheard what I'd said and nearly fell off her chair laughing. Whoops.

I have gone to this same surgery for years and all the ladies at the reception know my name. Today I discovered that without a Temari project in hand the receptionists can't recognise me at all. That is kind of cool and a bit secret squirrel. All I can conclude is that they must now think of me as 'Rebecca the Temari lady'.

When we got home DH started his antibiotics and I laid on the sofa to have a rest. I've 'slept' in the bottom bunk of our son's room (Mr W has had the top bunk... he is lighter and much less likely to break the ladder/bed and crush me in the night) for the last few nights to try to stay out of DH's sick room. I hadn't slept in a bunk bed since I a kid and shared a room with my little brother. I am looking forward to going back to my own bed because nothing is as comfortable as your own bed.

Hopefully I'll get some Temari making in tomorrow... I'll have to hide DH's bell first though ;-)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Brrr it is getting cold outside

... and it is not much warmer inside either. This year we have made a family commitment to consume less energy around our home.  This means we have made an agreement not to use our heater whenever possible this winter. We will not use the heating until at least July 1st and at that time we'll reassess if we will use the heater until spring. We did the same thing in the Summer (trying not to use the air conditioner) and we survived.

Here in Western Australia our homes are set up for dealing with the heat. Most homes have a large portion of tiled or wooden flooring throughout the house, and we limit the use of carpets and rugs to the bedrooms and the lounge room or home theatre areas. Most homes have large windows to catch the breeze (like the Fremantle Doctor* in our case) and if we're lucky we have shady trees near the house and wide eaves or patios for shade. Our winter isn't usually too bitter (I am touching wood here) there's rarely never any snow falls although we do get an occasional frost. For anyone who has suffered through the last northern Winter (USA, Europe, Japan etc) saying we aren't going to use our heating will be no big thing, but as we are coming off our hottest and driest Summer on record it is still an interesting idea. Our current temperatures have dropped by about 20-25C from the peak of Summer.

So this means cold hands and cold feet. We are all dressing very warmly and using our favourite rug to stay warm in the evening but I find my feet are the thing I just can't keep warm. Walking around on freezing cold floor tiles is not helping. So this week I have been making myself some Kimono Styled Slippers. They are not too gorgeous... more of a prototype really as I have made them with 49c/metre decorator fabric... but they are great around the house with my socks on and I can throw them into the wash to clean them up. (Something I can't do with any other type of sweaty slippers)

I admit they are a little too big, the pattern is a Size 9 and my foot is a half size smaller. They also look like hospital slippers... maybe that is just down to the fabric choice. Anyway they were fun to make and I'll make them again in a different fabric and size to test this theory. Also I think thicker (firmer) interfacing would be better in these as would a sheet of template plastic inserted into the pad of the foot. Maybe a set of them would be good for visitors.

Image from Wikipedia
. * The Fremantle Doctor is a cooling breeze that blows in from the Indian Ocean to cool the coastal lands during summer. To the East of Perth the landscape is hot and dry (with increasing desert area the further inland you travel) so any Easterly wind can be blisteringly hot in the summer time. The Westerly wind is called the Freo Doctor because it soothes us and provides relief to everyone that feels it. We all love an early visit from the Fremantle Doctor.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Click, click, click experiment fun

I am not such a fan of appearing in photos. I think my parents have many hundreds of images of me over the years sporting a variety of screwed up expressions and serious frowns. Why I hate being in front of the camera so much I don't really understand but I just always have.

Occasionally I realise that there are not too many photos of me around and I think maybe in future years there might be someone who was curious about what I looked like. Then I take a few random self portraits and stow them away.

Last weekend I did this and for a change there are some that are ok-ish. Surprising considering it was Sunday afternoon and I was windswept from the morning's soccer match and had no make-up on at all. I never set up the shots, actually I don't even look at the camera. While taking these (along with about 80 others which have since been deleted) I was watching television and Mr W playing his DS. There were loads of images of just one eye, my ear, the wall, the sofa etc but some of them turned out ok. I think.

Here are a series of shots taken across the room of Mr W. I didn't ask him to look at the camera, I didn't look at him either, just held the camera in his direction and clicked away. Notice the curtain?

I only took about 10 pictures in Mr W's direction, he is such a cute kid that his pictures always turn out great. Of course I would be totally biased, but then aren't all parents biased??

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Today I made...

Lip Balm!!!
All this cost just $10.50 and 15 minutes of my time
After school drop off this morning I stopped at the local chemist to purchase a shower cap. My old one had a rip in it so I threw it out.

Long Hair + Winter + Shower = Head Colds + Sore Neck

I can not believe it was the fourth store I had visited looking for a new one. Don't people use these any more or are they so popular everyone has sold out? I must be old fashioned or really hip... you pick I don't really care both have their merits. 

Anyway... I thought about picking up a new lip balm at the counter when I paid. But then I thought I probably had all the stuff I needed at home because I had purchased a bunch lip balm containers, bases etc last year. So after 10 minutes of looking through my supplies I found all the things I needed and set up to make them.

I used a little bit of pink colourant and some vanilla flavour oil. In less than 10 minutes I had made more lip balm than I can possibly use in the next 3 years and I still have heaps of ingredients left over for another batch. 

The balm feels lovely on my lips too, yippee no dry winter lips.

Monday, 6 June 2011

It's new, it's blue and very tasty too...

Our little black Araucana Chicken (Vegemite) has laid her first eggs this week. How exciting! We have long wondered what colour the eggs would be and it turns out they are a nice greenish blue colour.

And ever so slightly covered in poop and straw. Now is has turned so cold they are staying longer in their nesting box to stay warm which means we need to ramp up the cleaning regime. I am hoping to find something to put around the outer perimeter of the coop to help it stay warmer in the yard. Our Isa Brown's egg is on the left and Vegemite's egg is on the right.

You might ask what does a blue egg taste like? The answer is pretty much the same as any other... and yes the yolk is still yellow and the white is still white.

Also I lost a $5 bet with Mr W. He correctly backed Vegemite for the next to start laying. I had backed Andie... who is now looking like more of a rooster than a hen, but isn't crowing or strutting so maybe it is a hen because Seth and Miho's just began laying and looks very similarly butch.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Finally a thimble to share

I can't believe it took so long to finish this one (it was started on April 21st). I think I procrastinated on it because I wasn't enjoying the colour combination but it turned out nicely in the end - another reminder for me to keep an open mind. I've made this type of pattern several times but this one is slightly different as there are more repeats across the height of the thimble. I think I might make this one again in a single colour with the very last row in a contrasting thread to outline the diamond shapes... that might look cool.

I admit the finish on this one is not nice. The edges are a bit scallop shaped and I probably should have wrestled another row of gold stitching in but I really wanted to end on silver.

 I am really inspired by other people's yubinuki making lately. Have you visited the share your thimbles page at flickr  lately?Follow the link to see my most favourite one made by Beadturtle it really calls to me. I also love these recent additions by Chloe Patricia and Dorian E.

There are so many crafty things I want to do right now but I am feeling so sluggish from the cold (and not following my eating regime properly - I get achy and feel all my energy zapped if I don't eat right) so just want to stay nestled under my warm rug. I also have a little Nintendonitis* from hula hooping and ski jumping with Mr W on the Wii over the weekend. Even so I have caught up a bit on my Blue Stars homework. I think there might still be one kit left if anyone is interested in joining this class with Barb Suess. I am currently stitching week 3's instructions. Unfortunately the measure twice cut once lesson hasn't been learned well enough and I have placed stitching 0.25cm too far from the pole... grrrr but I am going to stick on and see what happens

I am also rolling instructions and patterns around in my head for the next 2 day workshop scheduled for August. 

Nintendonitis: Injury (in my case my left knee and right hip) cause by or after playing video games too much.