Tuesday, 31 May 2011

If Momma aint happy... she better just change her attitude

I changed the Avatar on my account this week, I needed a bit of cheery colour and the flowers are so nice.

Last week my laptop died an unholy death. Grrr the motherboard went kaput and they wanted $300 for a new one (plus labour I'm guessing). I was really more than a little grief stricken by this as I often surf the net in stereo, and it is handy to be able to count stock on the laptop and place my orders. I'll just have to wait to buy a new laptop and survive with the desktop instead.

Thankfully DH was able to get the guys at the computer store to remove the hard drive and place it into small casing which I can plug into the desktop computer via USB so I haven't lost anything (assuming I can navigate the weirdly named folders).

When I first discovered the laptop had 'crossed over' I felt like going through the house with burning herbs to smudge out the bad luck we seem to be having with things breaking or wearing out in this house. Now a few days later I realise that in the broad scheme of things this is only a very gentle sun shower, as they say into each life a little rain must fall. After a bit of a pep talk with myself I realised that I am still blessed, my family is safe, our tummy's are full, we have a roof over our heads and we live in a wonderful part of the world... everything else is gravy*. I will just add this to my growing list of things that need replacing/fixing and keep the herbs for cooking. Although I could still place two pillars of salt by the front door just to be on the safe side - Miho's suggestion to keep the bad luck away.

Hope you can find the silver lining no matter what today brings. Better yet... I hope your day is all gravy.

*From Wikipedia:
Gravy, and its perceived richness, have contributed to its use in several cultural contexts:Used as a descriptive noun, and synonymous to the word copacetic, gravy indicates that all is well. "Don't worry, we're gravy."The idiom "gravy train", used to refer to any lucrative endeavor.Also used as slang for extra benefits in the idiom "everything else is gravy."

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Birthday Dinner(s)

**** I've just switched to Google Chrome from IE as my browser, blogger was not working for me for the last 3 days, I have to learn everything again GC is the exact opposite of IE, I hope this change doesn't affect the blog. If it does I am sorry, I will keep working to get everything shipshape again****

Now onto today's post!

We had a family dinner for DH's birthday tonight. Honestly, this year he is drawing it out... He started celebrating on Thursday with morning tea at his office, we had his best pal over for a big Japanese dinner last night for home made chicken karaage with green onion karaage sauce, miso soup, umeboshi, home made pickled ginger and vegetables. I also made a dessert but we were too stuffed with food to eat it. I am sure DH plans to keep celebrating tomorrow and possibly Monday too.

Here is the menu from tonight's dinner
Soup Course:  Fresh Tomato and Red Pepper, with Sour Cream or Philly Cheese and Basil Pesto, Olive Sour Dough Bread with Butter 

Main Course: Roast Lamb with Honey and Rosemary Glaze and Gravy
Foil Baked Potatoes
Cauliflower Cheese 
Garlic and Butter 'Baby Cabbages' - that would be brussel sprouts to the you and me
Steamed Carrot and Broccoli

Dessert/Birthday Cake: Raspberry and Meringue Vanilla Ice-cream Cake
Soy Vanilla Yogurt and Raspberry Cake

Each course had a variation for Mr M so we could all enjoy our meal together. Again it was all so good we all over ate a little.

Our house is tiny so to fit everyone in at the table we had to move some furniture around and set up a trestle to extend our dining table. It was so nice to have everyone together, but boy am I tired. I think we will have left over tomorrow (maybe reworked into a frittata). 

Tomorrow will be soccer and cleaning, but I am very hopeful that by Monday I can be crafting again. I will be completing my thimble and then I'll begin the week 2 part of my Blue Stars class. Yes Barb this is why I have been very quietly hiding in the corner kicking dust bunnies... I do feel naughty falling behind, but I will catch up this week.

Right now I need to sleep (I hope DH has put the electric blanket on)... breakfast in only 7 hours away.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sample of Yesterday's baking

I have many boxes of baked goods waiting to go to DH's office this morning. Here is a sample of all the morning tea goodies.

The world could have ended last night and I'd have slept through it. Running late again today... postponing breakfast or maybe grabbing an apple to eat in the car. I hope the freeway traffic isn't too awful today.

Today I am cleaning the whole house top to bottom... wish I was feeling a bit more Stepford Wife today lol.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Feeling a bit Stepford Wife

Today I spent the day in the Kitchen baking.

 After reading at school with Mr W's classmates, I dashed home and took a quick audit of the baking staples from the pantry. I pulled out my recipes for the day and cross referenced them against what I had so I could collate my shopping list. Off to the grocery store and dashed around like a mad thing up and down every aisle. Stopped at the butcher and then at the Asian grocer for spices.

Back home I unpacked the goodies for the first thing - Raspberry Ice-cream cake. Whipped it all together in a jiffy and put it away in the freezer. Next I put Mr M's Soy Vanilla Yogurt in the freezer to partially freeze. Cleaned up and put more groceries away.

Second thing - Baked Cheesecake*. I know lots of people don't like cheesecake, I'm not sure about what is popular elsewhere but I grew up with that funny lemony one that sets in the fridge. This one is not that type... everyone loves it, and I think it was part of the reason my DH asked me to marry him. LOL. Anyway, out came the food processor and I smashed up the biscuit base and pressed it into the tin. Into the fridge and then I started the next thing.

Third thing - Nut Tartlets. Something else everyone loves. I recently made 100's of these for my brother's Japan relief fundraiser and my Step Dad's thanks-for-employing-me morning tea at his new job. I made the shortbread cases filled them with nuts and sauce and began baking them in batches of 24 (I need more mini muffin tins). While these baked I looked over the instructions for thing four. By now Mr M's Soy Yogurt was frozen so I scraped it all into a big bowl and mixed it with raspberries and put it back into the freezer in a small ring mould (I guess this is thing 1B). It looked almost the same as the ice-cream cake.

Thing four got started after I pulled out the really huge ceramic mixing bowl (my Mum just gave me it as a living bequeath-ment - she's alive, I'll get it in the will so she gave it to me now so I could use it... and I think it saves her some cupboard space) Did I say what thing four is yet??? Hummingbird Cupcakes. I drained the pineapple and removed the bananas from cyrogenic storage and got mixing it all together. I lined the large muffin cups with paper and scooped the mixture inside and cooked them with the last batch of Nut tartlets.

Back to thing two... I made the filling and popped it onto the chilled base and while I waited for the oven to empty and cool a little, it was time to wash dishes and wipe over the empty pantry shelf then start to put away all the ingredients.

Remember the spices I mentioned buying? I had been looking at some Dutch cooking for Mr W's school cultural day and thought it would be nice to make those yummy spice cookies (speculaas). After the cheesecake went in the oven and (with about 5 minutes to spare) before the school bell rang at 2:30pm I decided to make up the spice mix. It smelled so good, cinnamon, mace, ginger and cardamon... yum!

I actually heard the school bell as I raced out the door to pick up Mr W. A quick walk waddle later and we were heading back home. The cheesecake was almost ready to exit the oven. I surveyed the damage to my tiny kitchen. OMG what a mess!!! There were was baked goods everywhere!!! I did another round of dishes (two actually) and then funnelled the spice mix into glass jars. I started the cream cheese frosting for the hummingbird cupcakes. Then the phone rang and DH needed to be collected from the train station.

When we got back I took the cooled cheesecake out of the oven which had been left ajar to help slow the cooling. Then I decided to crank the oven up again to make a bonus baked goody aka thing five.

Thing five. How could I make speculaas spice mix and not use it? So for something easy I made cookie press cookies and added the spice mix to it. I have a cookie press gadget hiding in the back of the cupboard, it's been there for about 8 years but I think I've owned it for almost 20. The cookies turned out really nicely, I did consider dipping half of each one in melted chocolate but got over it fairly quickly. There are quite a few so I might do this tomorrow.

While the cookies were baking I frosted the cupcakes and added a banana chip to each one.  They turned out pretty good too. I washed up more dishes and trays (at which point I caught myself smiling contentedly - as I became aware of this I wondered if I had actually blown a fuse because I would rather walk through the local dog pound with $10 worth of sausages tied to my waist than spend a second washing the dishes). I discovered the table top again as cakes, tarts and cookies got packed into containers and I also found some vegetables I had purchased at the grocery store. So I put away all the rest of the shopping too.

Mr W came in and asked for spaghetti bolognaise (I made the tomato sauce for this a few weeks ago and just added mince to it) for dinner and I had homemade basil pesto sauce on my pasta (I try not to combine animal protein and carbohydrate in the same meal - it makes me sick).

So with a final wipe down of all the surfaces and the cooled cookies placed in boxes, Mr W helped set the table and we ate. I was starving!!!! I had not realised that I skipped breakfast and lunch today. I was running so late for school this morning so to save time I brushed my teeth (morning breath = gross) and decided to eat breakfast when I got back... but because I still had minty freshness in my mouth I thought I'd already eaten when I got home from school. I didn't intend to miss lunch either I just kept postponing it until I had done this quick thing, and then that quick thing.... Therefore the pasta tasted sooo good tonight. We all had a hummingbird cupcake for dessert... lucky that 3 wouldn't fit into the box!

We all played some hangman on a huge white board in the lounge room after dinner. Then Mr W and I took turns reading a book with silly voices and substituting silly words before he went to bed. We also recorded some funny messages on his bedroom door secret spy sensor.

I am not sure where I found the time but I also managed two loads of washing today and even a little folding got done through the course of today.

When I get up tomorrow, I just have to whip the cream and dress the cheesecake with cream and peach slices and then after school I'll drive all these goodies into my DH's office in the city. I hope his work mates enjoy their morning tea... and I hope I made enough for them to share!

So now my little batteries are running on low and seeing as I am human (and not actually a stepford wife) it is time to hit the hay. Wow a super early night for me... it's not even 10:30pm yet. I sure hope I make it into bed, I am almost certain if I fall asleep in the shower I'll wake up once the hot water runs out. Brrrr

* Sorry no recipe for the Baked Cheesecake, it clearly says in the picture it is Madeline's Secret recipe. She entrusted me with it in 1995 (I think she might have been joking about the secret bit but I'm not certain so I'll just keep on keeping the secret).

Last Thursday's craft day

Last Thursday we planned a craft day at Mum's house. I got there a little later than I expected, I had a rush order to post, some cheques to bank, an empty fuel tank to fill up, and had to pick up some snacks from the store too. So I arrived by about 10:15am.

I took my temari ball from the Blue Stars class, and a yubinuki project and some kanzashi flowers but I didn't get much done. Instead I made pillow and rug cubbies for Miss D and her little mate Mr B. Then I tried to entertain Mr M who was a bit out of sorts and grizzly... he is still not too sure of me so I tried to win him over with some lactose free chocolate chip cookies I found at the grocery store, I think they worked because he gave me two big kisses.

After that I did begin stitching on my Yubinuki... I completed almost one entire round. Then I decided to help Miho unpick the elastic on 4 pyjama pants for Mr M, they were Mr W's many years ago. The fabric was in perfect condition but the elastic was stretched out so for $2 worth of elastic and an hour or so of unpicking and sewing in the new elastic they are perfect again.

We had a lovely lunch, Mum made a tasty noodle soup, I took olive sour dough bread, and Joanne brought along a delicious vegetable pasta bake. We all chatted about all sorts of things and had a lovely day while the kids played games.

Before I knew it the clock said 2pm and I had to get moving so I could reach Mr W's school before 3pm. I just made it with 5 minutes to spare.

Today is Wednesday. I still haven't picked up any of these projects because I've been too busy. Today I will bake so DH can put on morning tea at work tomorrow. I am thinking... nut tarts, hummingbird cupcakes and baked cheesecake. That should keep me busy today. Also today I am making his birthday cake (the reason he needs to take morning tea). He wants raspberry ice-cream cake... I just hope I can get the ice-cream to melt today because it is so cold here. Also I need to investigate a dairy free alternative for Mr M. I am thinking something with coconut milk?? Any ideas?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Some New Colour

Last weekend was very busy again. We travelled all over the place on Saturday, Mr W got new slippers and a new bath robe, DH got a spray jacket to help him stay dry while travelling to/from work on the train and bus, we purchased a new whiteboard for soccer and even picked up some delimanjoo from Cafe Delice at 5 William Street in Fremantle.

On the way home while DH was buying more chicken feed, Mr W and I visited the garden store to buy plants for our front garden bed.

I think my ultimate plants would be a shade tolerant Sacred Bamboo (Nandina Domestica) because they really say Japanese garden to me. Having said that the bed is very narrow and we do already have the Flowering Plum and a Japanese Maple tree which give a fair amount of red foliage in our yard.

We looked all around and came up with these. They are Dahlinova Hypnotica and I think they are really sweet. I am no botanist by any means but they seem very chrysanthemum like. Even the label on the plant stake has a Kiku shape on it.

Of course the plant stake had precious little information printed on it, except that they tolerated shade so I don't know how long they will live or how big they will grow, what zone they are rated for so they are a pretty big gamble for us as we aren't known for our green thumbs.

Mr W and I planted them out. I asked him for some help, we try to do many things as 'family projects'.

I planted the first one in the middle of the bed and he did the rest. Of course he raced along (hoping to go for a play with his mates) so a few stems go broken and some petals we crushed or dropped of the flowers.

Here are some close ups of the flowers. I think I've really had Chrysanthemums on my mind lately, thinking about Japan so much and after participating in the Stitch for Japan project. When I looked on the Fides website this morning I noticed that there are lots of other colours available in this range. Perhaps something to think about if you are wanting to add a little colour in your own garden.

On Sunday our team had a soccer match. I had canteen duty before the game, I've never made so many cups of coffee in such a short period of time. Miss D, Mr M, Seth and Mum came to watch the team play. The game was a real battle, and several of our players came off with varying injuries - thank goodness we took the ice packs along. The other team were bigger, stronger and probably more skilled over all, but our boys never gave up and came away with a 3:2 win. We are so proud of them all.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Goodbye to Bill Hunter... an Aussie Legend

Yesterday Bill Hunter died.

If you've ever seen an Australian movie, you've probably seen him in action. He has been in more Australian movies than any other actor I can think of. Working in film and television since the 1950's, his voice and face is instantly recognisable. He played lots of larrikin* characters that you can't help but love despite their crusty exterior. The characters he chose to play always emulated the values of the typical Australian bush man on which much of our national identity has been based for many years as described by Russel Ward's book The Australian Legend:
Displaying practicality, rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry any appearance of affectation in others. He is a great improviser, ever willing 'to have a go' at anything, but ... content with a task done in a way that is 'near enough'. Though capable of great exertion in an emergency, he normally feels no impulse to work hard without good cause. He swears hard and consistently, gambles heavily and often, and drinks deeply on occasion ... He is a 'hard case', sceptical about the value of religion and of intellectual and cultural pursuits generally. He believes that Jack is not only as good as his master but ... probably a good deal better ... He is a fiercely independent person who hates officiousness and authority ... Yet he is very hospitable and ... will stick to his mates through thick and thin, even if he thinks they may be in the wrong.

It is hard to think of my favourite character that he has played, but he has appeared in body or voice in many of my most favourite Aussie movies, including Crackerjack (with Mick Malloy), Muriels' Wedding (with Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (with Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce), and Strictly Ballroom (with Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice and Gia Carides). The also lent his talents to two of my son's favourite movies Kangaroo Jack (with Jerry O'Connell) and Finding Nemo.

Something I didn't realise was that he also appeared on several TV series outside of Australia such as Dynasty and Dr Who, but then I was a little young to be watching either of those programs when they aired.

He worked right up to the end, with The Cup completed this year.

Rest well Bill Hunter and thank you for sharing your life's work with us. You are already sadly missed.

*Larrikin: the name given to people displaying the Australian folk tradition behaviours of irreverence, mockery of authority and disregard for rigid norms of propriety. Larrikinism can also be associated with self-deprecating humour

Friday, 20 May 2011

Harmony/Cultural day

Today is Harmony day at Mr W's school. All the children have been asked to dress in special clothing and to bring a plate of food that represents a country from their own heritage. That gives our family a very broad scope of possibilities, DH is part Dutch and Spanish. I have Scottish, English, and reportedly Prussian along with several other things too, but we have lived in Australia for 5 generations. My Mum's step dad was Australian Aboriginal and we also have a Japanese influence in our family with Miho, Miss D and Mr M.

I discounted my Scottish heritage because I thought the teachers wouldn't be keen on the kids eating something smothered in whiskey and rolled in oats or smoked kippers, black pudding or haggis. For a quick moment I did think of Kangaroo tail soup... but I'd need to run down my own Kangaroo to make it and I've already crashed the car once this year. I didn't think paella would go down well witht he kids and I couldn't think of anything else Spanish... of course now I realise any small nibbles could have been labelled 'tapas'. There is already a Japanese boy in class so I am sure he will bring sushi (or something else Japanese) what a shame I could have made Chicken Karaage [drool]... so that left me with Dutch.

Dutch, Dutch, Dutch.... hmmm salted licorice? Rollmops? some Edam or Gouda cheese? or gourmetten? I had no idea what to make until I remembered something my DH has told me about over and over again. The very fond memories he has of his Dad making oliebollen when he was a kid. So that is what I made. Click the link to see a photo. They are kind of like a doughnut ball containing apple and sultanas that is dusted with powdered sugar after it is fried in oil.

Save it to say I had never tried (making or eating) these before but Mr W reviewed them after dinner tonight and gave them two thumbs up.

This has made me realise I really do need to broaden my culinary scope and make more dishes from our combined heritage. I think I am going to make speculaas biscuits sometime over the next few days. Yum! And I remembered I have some kippers stashed away in the freezer... mmm... Saturday breakfast!

Kippers for breakfast will probably not make for a harmonious Saturday morning meal... DH hates them, I love them. He will eat a jar of Rollmops while I have to leave the room to avoid throwing up... DH loves them I can't stand the thought of them. This is strange because they are both basically herring, one smoked the other pickled. We are both trying to turn Mr W to our ways of thinking... currently he thinks Kippers and Rollmops are best placed on the end of a hook to catch a decent fish which he would wrap in rice and seaweed then dip in sauce... so I guess sushi wins his vote.

That saved a brain cell or two

Last night night while I was cooking dinner DH was looking at the light in Mr W's room. It had come away from the ceiling after being hit with a basketball (the one lesson I learned from watching the Brady Bunch as a kid... don't bounce balls in the house). Suddenly he gave out a great shout and then a few choice expletives. DH doesn't say bad words as a rule, and as I knew he was fiddling with the light socket I raced down there expecting the worst. I found him flicking his hands, as if he was trying to get rid of the electricity he had just been zapped with. I think it must have been an electrical short because the switch was off at the wall. Thank goodness he only got a small shock (probably like a taser) but the light is now going to be seen by a qualified electrician which is what I suggested in the first place.

Just an hour or so later, while I was washing the dishes, I asked Mr W to help out by moving all the sports drink bottles into the fridge. I asked him to put them all standing upright on the bottom shelf to save space. I'm not sure what happened in his mum-to-child translator but for some reason he decided to reorganise the entire fridge.

Several smashes, crashes and a big ooze later I turned around to see a flood of red coming from under the door. OMG what had happened??? He was very quiet and I raced to the laundry (where the second fridge is located) to find him standing in a growing pool of red and white wine two shattered wine bottles and two smashed bottles of pickles.

My first question was, are you wearing shoes? He was thankfully, so I asked him to carefully walk out past me then take his shoes off and go find some shoes for me. Several minutes later he returned with my favourite (now glass encrusted and thrown out) shoes and DH and I spent almost an hour cleaning up the mess. Of course he didn't get into trouble for it, I think the shock of what happened was enough... and that we had to throw out his new slippers because they were covered in wine and had shards of glass embedded into the sole.

This morning when we walked out to the car (via the laundry) I wondered why on Earth the room smelled like a musty old wine bar... then I remembered.

In other news it is teeming with rain today. We were expecting a large thunderstorm but it hasn't happened (yet). We had to drive to school this morning because we could barely see through the wind and rain. I still got soaked just going from the car to the classroom and back.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

C6 temari

I have made this temari because I wanted to try out a C6 marking for ages. Ok the marking went well but what pattern to choose??? Well I went for one from Debi A's temari math site (see the link on the side bar). BUT it required marking lines in the same colour as the design threads, oh dear that meant I'd have to make another ball or make the design in metallic thread. Well you can see the option I chose. No surprises there.

I really like this design (the original one had another set of lines in a diagonal inside the center squares) but I didn't think the metallic could support it... just too slippery. I will give this design another go on a slightly bigger base with cotton thread.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Football (AFL and Soccer) Days

I can't believe it has been so many days since my last post. I have been busy with all things sporting for the last few days. We had our soccer team's second round clash on Sunday morning, it was an awesome game and our boys came away with hard fought win. On Sunday afternoon my AFL team (The West Coast Eagles) played in the Western Derby against Mr W's AFL team (The Fremantle Dockers). My team were victorious winning for the first time for 8 games. Wahoo we also moved up the ladder and overtook Mr W's team. We wont mention that DH's team (Collingwood) is second on the ladder when our teams are seventh and eighth.

Thankfully Mr W's basketball team had a bye on Monday.

Today I went on a sports excursion with Mr W's school. They had an inter-school soccer day. The kids played 5 games. Not many of the kids at our school play soccer so unfortunately Mr W's team got thumped* in every match today. He did score an amazing goal for his team and an own goal off his shoulder for the other team. The kids had a great day and because they weren't playing for sheep stations** the kids just had heaps of as much fun.  Poor old Mr W has just left in the car with his Dad for... soccer training.

Not much time for crafting while all this sport has been going on but I have crocheted a winter scarf for my DH's birthday and completed a C6 temari. I will finish that thimble I started a few weeks ago tomorrow and Mum, Miho and I plan to have a sewing day on Thursday so we'll see what we get to do then.

* Got thumped: Used when you are beaten in a competition by a very large margin also used  is the term got flogged. 'They got flogged 10 : nil.' or ' Of course we won, we absolutely thumped them.'

**Playing for sheep stations: A sheep station is a very large sheep farm/ranch in Australia or New Zealand. The phrase 'playing for sheep stations' has both a literal and ironic usage. Literally, it is used to encourage participants to play in a friendly and not too competitive manner. Playing a game of some sort, but not for prizes, one might say 'take it easy, we're not playing for sheep stations'. It could also be used starting a game of cards or pool for example, to check whether the game would be played for money, beer, or just pride, asking 'so, are we playing for sheep stations or what?'

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Measure twice, cut once

A familiar tradesman's adage and one I should have taken more heed of this week. We decided to get some new curtains for the front room.  The old ones had gotten a few small tears in the netting and needed to be washed which means they might have just fallen apart in the machine.

Here they are... gorgeous aren't they?

Did you spot the mistake?

Talk about a Decorating Fail!!! What was I thinking?

I guess it is fair to argue that there are two mistakes really, the sheer is too short (about 30 cm too short) and probably should have been cream (except I don't like cream sheers because they seem dirty). On a positive note our freshly mulched, newly reticulated garden bed looks nice and the windows are clean... way to find the silver lining huh?!

Next question what on earth am I going to do with 5 metres of 1.83m drop sheer white curtain? Perhaps someone in our family has shorter windows.

Hope this post gave you a chuckle today!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Some new-old books

Last week I wrote about getting some Japanese Temari books. Well now that the excitement of Mother's day and our school excursion to Kings Park is over I have time to actually blog about them.

Three of the books are quite old but they are all in mint condition. It is so lovely to have them in my collection.

The Gotenmari Photo Collection ISBN 4795203628
This book was printed in 1997 and is written in Japanese and English. It is such a treat to have in my collection. Miho visited us on Sunday for Mothers Day lunch and told me that the novel which inspired the temari designs in the first chapter of this book was the one her Mum wrote a thesis on during her university studies. The novel is called The Tale of Genji and is said to be the oldest Japanese novel. (I wonder if it has ever been translated into English.) This book has no patterns but it is a really beautiful book.

Furursato no Temari ISBN 7509000032012
This book was printed in 1990 and shows examples of styles of temari from all the various locations throughout Japan. I really like seeing the different styles from all over Japan. There are no patterns in this one but many of the almost 400 designs are similar to designs in newer books. There are a lot of temari I'd like to reverse engineer in this book.

Dentou no Temari ISBN 03000090303061

This book is by far the oldest (almost antique - just joking) being printed in 1973. This one has lots of patterns in the back with step by step pictures. Miho laughed as she showed me a picture and asked Do you know what I see? It was a 35mm film canister that was suggested to be used for holding a noisemaker in the center of the temari base... we both laughed... now the old film canister is a definite relic since digital camera age. Having this book is so fun to show how things have changed... but some still stayed the same over the last 40 years. I really love the design on the cover of this book.

This brings me to my last book, which is actually a new, new book. This one was released late last year and as my book supplier in Japan doesn't carry this one, I had too buy it from  I already planned the other three books and this one was just an extra thought seeing as Shirley had asked about it too.

Sanuki Temari ISBN 9784140311738
I know this book got some mixed reviews in Temari circles, but I really like it. Because the threads used are made by the Author (so far as I can tell) and are all coloured with natural dyes, the temari have a real earthy subtlety to them. There is only 1 design that uses metallic thread (my own personal crutch) and this makes the designs speak in more quiet, reverent tones. This book so inspired Miho that she wants to try to find uncoloured thread so we can try to tint it ourselves. I love the coloured step by step images in the pattern pages (a godsend for someone like me who tends to look blankly at a diagram and think... Huh??) This book also shows C6 designs. I believe that there is some contention about whether this is actually a valid/recognised division, but I have heard it talked about and wanted to try it forever but couldn't remember if or where I had seen instructions about marking it. Also this book shows making the base using  paper (it looks like some type of tissue paper) to contain the rice hulls and I can't see any yarn layer.
To sum up I do really like this book and can see myself having hours of stitching fun with it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Riiiiinnngg!!! Blue Stars Class is in session.

Barb's Blue Stars class started yesterday. Happy dance!!!

Barb has added videos to this class and it is very cool to finally hear her voice after corresponding via email for such a long time. It was a surprise for my ear at first to listen to her lovely southern accent because her emails always have an Australian accent (when I am reading them), I had forgotten that Barb and I live on opposite sides of the globe. I have to say a big thank you to who ever it was that decided to give her the flip camera... we all appreciate the gift.

I've made lots of C10's but watching Barb's videos showed me a few extra tips which I will try out. Today I'm going to print off the instructions then wrap and mark my base.

Happy dance!!!

Clean up in Aisle 4...

And 5 and 6 and 7!! In fact clean up everywhere!

Earlier this year Australia, then New Zealand and Japan have all had shattering natural disasters. There have been so many other countries that have suffered from Nature's aberration too. Now it seems it is the turn of our American and Canadian friends. All that snow you got this year is melting away and the Spring storms are heaving great chunks of infrastructure away. My thoughts are with you in this challenging time, my heart feels heavy when I see all those flood waters rising across so much of Northern America.

In our family we always say what doesn't break you makes you stronger. If you feel like you're about to break just hold on a little longer and know that people you've never met from far away are thinking of you and just keep going.

Stay safe, happy and hopeful where ever you are on this big old rock we call home.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I'm a third grader!

There are lots of temari things I could be doing right now: finishing off at least 5 UFOs, completing the wrapping on 11 half wrapped bases, choosing new patterns to work on, sorting out and packing away some older temari which give me room to make new projects...

Instead I've been wasting my precious temari stitching time over the last few days doing all sorts of other things: throwing out old clothes, fixing our ISP issues, feeding and watching the chooks, baking disaster biscuits, buying things from Japan... and playing on my DS, ahem... learning Japanese on my DS.

I haven't used this program for ages and when I came across it this week I decided to give it a go. On Monday I was a first grader and somehow (and as if by magic) tonight I have reached third grade. This still means that my 3 yo niece understands and speaks better Japanese than me but anyhow.

I'm not sure why I can recognise katakana but find it impossible to write. My mind usually goes completely blank when I try to speak too. So I must be one of those 'seen but not heard' old fashioned third graders. The program has just begun introducing Kanji this evening... and then promptly run out of batteries just as I was about to have a tantrum and decide it was all too hard. It's such good thing I don't know where the power cable is (to recharge it) so I will have to go back to making temari again... now that the DS distraction is taken care of.

Friday, 6 May 2011

I made room... and here comes more stuff

My Mum always says you need to make room for good things to come into your life (maybe she pinched it from Oprah but it seems to ring true).

Today I went to see my cute niece and nephew with boxes and boxes of Mr W's old clothes. The boxes filled the entire boot area of our X-trail. Miho made the most delicious soup for lunch. Miss D and I had a great play outside because it was a great sunny day. When Mr M woke up from his nap we started going through all the boxes. There were so many things inside the boxes (8 years of clothes that I never had the heart to throw out). Miss D really enjoyed going through everything, she tried on a much-too-small Winnie the Poo outfit, a much-too-big spider man costume, and a police tee shirt, but settled on a multicoloured - mostly purple - tie dyed star tee shirt that I purchased at the Courthouse Markets in Broome many years ago.

Miho has a whole heap of clothes to share around between the kids (including the one which will arrive in July) but first she has a huge pile of washing to do to get them all ready to wear again because they have been stored in cardboard boxes in the garage and shed for quite a few years. I'm really glad these clothes will be happy with new wearers to enjoy them.

I've always got something coming from far, far away, but I was not stalking the postman today and he must have sensed this because when I returned home there were a bunch of parcels waiting for me. It was good that DH was at home making lemon and lime marmalade today so he could collect the boxes from the mailman.

Today I got Amigurumi eyes, Nordic Gold threads, and temari books.

After I cooked dinner and made dessert (frog balls custard - what Mr W calls those large coloured pearl tapioca balls in custard... the boys love this, but I'm not too keen on it) I sat down an looked through the books. There are 3 second hand books and 1 new book, they are gorgeous. I must publicly say a big thank you to Chloe Patricia for organising the books (which I'd found on Amazon Japan but could not get shipped directly to me). Thank you, thank you, thank you because without your very kind help I would never have the opportunity to own these books. I haven't looked at the eyes yet, and I put all the threads away to use later on.

What a busy day!

Out it goes

This week we cleaned out all Mr W's old clothes from his drawers. I can't quite believe he has gotten so tall! We are going to let Mr M have first go through them and then everything is going out to The Salvation Army.

Here is what we have collected together.

We also have several boxes full of smaller clothes in the garage (we were keeping them 'in case' we had another baby but as Mr W is 9.5yo I guess it wont happen).
As usual there were one or two things I couldn't part with... like Mr W's first school uniform and he wanted to keep these shorts.
They are a size 2 and are the second pair of shorts he ever owned. I can't believe he could still pull them on... but of course he couldn't breathe in.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

While I think of what to stitch... let me ponder what to order

I am coming up for air from the recent Cosmo Pearl 5 thread launch sale. Lots of people took the opportunity to try this gorgeous thread out for themselves. All the orders are finally away in the mail as of Monday this week. Now I am sitting back wondering what other colours to order in? Any ideas? Request a colour you would like to see.

Currently I am thinking of the colours circled in the image below, I already carry all the highlighted codes. The circled colours are 204, 240, 107, 800, 316A, 319, 534, 981A

You can click the image to see it a little larger. I will order about 20 colours so if you have your heart set on a particular shade now is the time to ask for it. Just leave a comment below or send me a note. First In or Most Requested will be ordered.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Eggsactly what we wanted

Our Chickens have been off the lay for well over a month. I actually had to buy a dozen eggs about 10 days ago!!! I thought maybe they were sick or it was due to the heat then the cage began filling up with loose feathers... they had started to moult.

Finally over the Easter weekend Itchy began laying again. Yay fresh home grown eggs again! We write the date on the top of the eggs we collect each day and record the weight and where it was laid... I guess we're new at this so I'm not sure if we will find this information useful later on down the track but if we conclude that we 'should have' kept the data but didn't do it... well that would be no good.

The one from Friday has a little extra inscription on it...

As I wrote the date on today's egg it slipped from my hands and landed on the floor... the carpeted lounge room floor! Lucky we paid a bit extra for super thick and springy carpet underlay, the egg did a little bounce at my feet and when I picked it up it was still perfect. Lucky!!!

Only the Isa Browns have laid so far, we are still waiting on the Andalusians and the Araucanas to get going.
Andie, our big Andalusian, should be the next to start to lay - at least she is who my money is on. She has been sick with Chicken Pox... yes I know I couldn't believe it either... I thought it was just something humans got. Actually it is called 'fowl pox', so it isn't really what human get, but looks disgusting because the comb (red bit on top of head) and wattles (red bits under beak) get huge gnarled, warty growths on them. So awful to look at but luckily none of the other chooks got it. Anyway I am sure that Andie will be the next to lay now she is getting better and I am hoping for nice big white eggs - if her ear patches are anything to go by. Lucia is still small but will probably lay after Andie. I think that the two Araucanas will lay last and of the two I think Toto will lay after Vegemite.

Our other Isa Brown, pictured above, is having a big moult at the moment. Scratchy appears half plucked and looks like she wants a scarf for her little bare neck.

I've really learned a lot about chickens in the last 4 months since we got them. I really have more respect for the humble egg and the little feathered ladies that produce them.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I got my licence and a surprise

Yesterday a parcel from Barb arrived which contained the goodies for the upcoming Blue Stars class that Shirley and I are taking. (If you are interested I believe there are still 2 kits left click the link)

I am amazed that everything fit into the box. I carefully unpacked my goodies and returned Shirley's goodies back into the box so she could collect them today. Then I went through all my things to check off that everything was there - of course everything was because Barb is very clever like that. I was very glad to get a new V ruler because I just snapped a leg on my old one (which is of course taped up... like the other leg was six months ago). I had to chuckle because on the back of the V ruler ready reckoner there is a North Carolina Divider's Licence complete with a date of issue and everything. I realise I have been illegally dividing for more than a year now!! I'm glad to be legal in North Carolina at least... I wonder does that mean I need an International Divider's Licence?

Also in the parcel was a small envelope with my new JTA member card and some recent newsletters. What a treat to get the newsletters! Not that I can read any more than 30 (of the 5000+) Japanese Kanji characters, but I can see the wonderful pictures and  make out some of the text. I got a big surprise to see some ladies from Australia in the pictures in Newsletter No50, 2010. Some of these ladies have been to workshops with me here in Perth.

Monday, 2 May 2011

My Devilish Angel

This week I made Mr W a new beanie hat. It's getting rather chilly these days (now was I not complaining about the heat just a few weeks ago - how soon we forget) and I've been sitting up late every night to crochet it while listening to the wonderful rain we've been getting. I finally finished it on Friday afternoon.

There are lots of really cute crochet patterns for little kids but my son is just a little too old to have a frog or penguin on his head (around his mates that is) so I decided to adapt a few pattern ideas I had seen to come up with this. He has already worn it a few times... yay... after all the effort I didn't want to see it sitting on his dresser.

This is my first hat and the first time I've stitched an entire project using HDC... I think I've got it in my muscle memory now and probably wont need to look up how to make this stitch again.

I've made 7 crochet projects now... when I spoke to my Grandmother today I forgot to tell her that I've been making crochet... I'm sure she will be amazed that I finally figured out how to do more than chain stitch - despite her trying to teach me for so many years.

Poppy B tried the beanie out on Sunday at the birthday party... still cute but maybe a little disturbing too... that is a big bottle of Olive Oil thankfully the safety seal was still on bottle or that could have been very messy.

I think I will end up making a hat for Miss D - she has requested blue, and possibly Mr M but I'm not sure if he will wear it and these are a big project so I'll see how it goes.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

May Day... Happy Birthday

The first day of May calls for celebrations in our family because it is our Mother's (Suzanne) birthday! Actually May is a fairly busy time as there is also Mother's Day on the second Sunday and my DH's birthday along with several other birthdays of good friends to be celebrated this month.

Today we are taking a movable feast to my Mum's house for her birthday. Miho and I are organising everything... even setting the table when I arrive so Mum doesn't need to do anything. All yesterday I'd been cooking and I've made Banana and Caramel cupcakes and Hummingbird birthday cake too. I've even made my own dried coconut flakes to decorate the top. Also in the last week I've made new Tomato Spaghetti Sauce and Cherry with Blueberry Jam... which I am sharing out with everyone.

I made part of the birthday gift this year, some ottoman covers to match the cushions in Mum and John's lounge room. I'm so relieved they fit, and there is even a little room for shrinkage when they are washed!!!

PS The Hummingbird cake was very delicious, I've added it to my family's recipe book... several unnamed persons had 2 slices each... and they are the thinnest people in our family.