Monday, May 28, 2012


Last week, this little boy, Constantine, had a very special birthday - his fortieth! That number seems to be popping up all over the place for us. So, while he's no longer a little boy, he's still ever so lovable (and still happens to love a good dance). Isn't the outfit (above) ever-so groovy? We have albums full of him in similar such clothing, his mother being a keen sewing. But a key theme in all these albums is dancing; a boy and teenage version of our 'Dada' dancing for family, dancing with siblings, dancing in front of crowds, dancing in dance-troupes, dancing at the opening ceremony of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, you name it....dancing, dancing, dancing at every opportunity. He still likes a dance but, these days, doesn't get much of an opportunity to hit the dance floor or join in with a dance troupe. Still, there is dance of parenthood, the dance of a demanding career, the dance of marriage... it all keeps him 'on his toes'.

The other key theme in those albums is activity; sport, outdoor pursuits, anything physical at any and every opportunity. It's part of what attracted me to him, and so much more. His openness of mind, heart and spirit was key, and it's still there. I love that he doesn't see colour, income, sex, nationality, religion, that he defines and appreciates people by so much more...and so much's simple really, what interests him about people is much more about what they hold on the inside...where they find their strength, where they have their weaknesses and challenges and how they respond to them. It's not about being perfect, just about how one rides this journey of life...that's what he's taught me, and much more. He looks for the love inside every person and I LOVE that.

Our Constantine...or Dino....or Dada...or Daddy, he's so very special, extraordinary really. I could quite easily list forty-plus ways that he makes a real and significant difference to people, to family, to friends, to complete strangers. And then there are all those 'little ways' that he contributes to the life our our family with copious breakfasts, help in the garden, bike rides, drop offs and collections, the multitude of sleep-ins he provides for this, so many 'little' things that help to enrich the lives of all members of our family. He contributes with, and provides, such depth to our days. Thanks Austin. You still manage to make me smile.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Looking at my blog 'stats' over the past few months and I'm wondering who is out there? Am I so needy that I NEED to see a comment here and there? Mmmm...feeling a little that way...but no, no, that's not it...I don't NEED to hear from you, I'd just really LIKE to know who you are, that you've been, and, well I don't would be nice to hear about you too! :) I hear that a few european family members are here occasionally and perhaps some Canadian friends and family too... Go on, say hi and I'm sure to say hi back. 

Friday, May 25, 2012


Some years ago, I made a pair of socks out of this yarn for Mum and now, Rafael is wearing the left over yarn from that project in this hat. I last made this hat for Elsa for her second birthday (sadly, we can't find it - perhaps a victim of the move?).

But again, he's not wearing it much because, well, he already has one that suits him, but I wanted to knit this because I had only enough yarn to knit the size required for his 2 1/2 year old head and basically, didn't want to miss the chance to see him in this yarn/hat.

This is 'sock yarn' but, it can be used for so much else. It's very fine (I use 2 to 2.25mm needles) and lovely to knit with. I enjoy watching the pre-printed pattern in the yarn develop as the hat grew. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


We were minus a Dada/husband this past weekend; he was in Sydney for work (well, not really work but the humanitarian aid organisation he volunteers a 'wack' of time towards). We all missed him, despite it only being two nights, and were so pleased to have him back.

This past weekend;

* we enjoyed a raging fire both days, the first I've made in far too long (I find it such a grounding exercise and a lovely, shared project - the kids were happy to focus on all things fire-related - collecting kindly, larger logs, keeping an eye on its progress);
* I made it to my first chiropractic appointment in far too long, courtesy of a kind sister who came to look after the kids for me;
* I knit in front of the fire with children and a special visitor crafting and knitting all around (and enjoyed scones there too);
* the kids enjoy cousin-time;
* the chickens received extra attention;
* I shared a bed with two cuddly and slightly snuffly (STILL!) children;
* Rafael proudly worn a new hat (a separate post to come);
* Gnocchi, the dog, spent two nights outside chasing possums (all night!) and two days sleeping it off;
* we had a nice, long Skype call with D's Mum/the kid's 'Yiayia' in Toronto, Canada;
* I planned and planned for a special 40th coming up in our household!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Hello from the land of feijoas! With three more boxes of this delightful fruit in our kitchen and feijoa jam on our minds, we're enjoying a mild, sunny Autumn day.

A newly completed project - a hat for friend's new(ish) baby boy. I used a pattern which comes without charge when you buy yarn here (or at least it once did, it's been a while since I visited the store) . This hat has been a staple around here for about eight or nine years. I love the look of the stitches running down the head, instead of across as they often do and that it grows with the baby, to a point; you simply roll down the brim as the child grows until eventually there's no brim at all...that generally takes quite a while. (Ravelry notes here - another great yarn!).

And the socks are these again (such a great book!).

And so much mud-making today...(these clothes didn't last for long!). 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


A new hat/bonnet for Rafael knit using a pattern from one of Mum's old (1970s) Patons pattern books.  My Ravelry notes are here. It's knit in Jo Sharp DK Tweed, a favourite yarn of mine. This shade is called 'Autumn', fitting no? (for us Antipodeans at least!). And I know, three photos of the same hat...couldn't resist.

I cast on when Raf was a wee babe then put it aside because it was much too big. It fits now, or, it would if he'd wear it! It's not that he doesn't like the hat per se, just that he really loves the one he's already wearing, knit by one of his aunts, and sees no need to switch to a new one - perhaps a lesson for many of us!?! Well, I could certainly learn from his outlook. So, for now, the hat is sitting pretty on the hat stand block, a 30th birthday gift from a dear friend and something I treasure. I hope to see it off the block and on his sweet head one day soon!

Every time I pass the hat, I've found myself considering what else I could make from this great yarn. Perhaps a brown Tea Leaves....that's on he list! And really, I should finish the one I'm knitting first...always getting ahead of yourself Ange, always. Off to 'simmer down' and enjoy the projects already on the needles.

And, a few photos from our visit to Yarraville yesterday where we enjoyed catching up with friends and visiting our old grocery store, park and even our former home, where the new owners were kind enough to let the kids sneak a peak inside. And of course, we had to grab some fish from Conways and here. So many memories....

A drive by Happy River, unfortunately closed on Mondays - next time

Monday, May 14, 2012


At least that's what Elsa told me when I dabbed some of our newly completed tomato sauce (ketchup) onto her plate beside the baked potato chips we made today. Personally, I think it tastes a little 'vinegary' and needs some time to age and but I'm pleased they disagree.

We made this batch of tomato sauce with the last of the tomatoes from our garden, which were planted in late Summer and which, understandably, refused to ripen in the cool autumn weather but once inside, reddened slowly and apparently tasted good (I wouldn't know, I don't eat raw tomatoes). With 5kgs of green tomatoes on my counter, I had planned to make green tomato chutney but left it too long; we had a pile of ripe tomatoes waiting for another life so, tomato sauce it was/is! I adapted the recipe a little from this, omitting most of the spices and the garlic but adding more ginger. This might just become a staple in our house - I can no longer bring myself to buy tomato sauce but, never say never!

Sunday, May 13, 2012



Happy Mothers Day to all those celebrating today, including those Canadian Mama-friends yet to wake to their special day! I called my Mum this morning hoping to catch her before her hoards of kids with their families but alas, I was too late and the house was already semi-full with five of her ten children and their families occupying most of the kitchen (such places of assembly aren't they!) and a few more on their way. So, it became a general catch-up with all versus a quiet chat with Mum, but that's almost par for the course (there are lots of us after all). By comparison, mine was a much quieter day but lovely all the same.

After a sleep-in (bliss), I awoke to a feijoa breakfast (of course!) and was knitting in front of a blazing fire with tea in hand in no time at all. Afterwards, I enjoyed a few hours gardening with D and the kids. We even managed to transfer my Mothers Day gift, being the lime tree above, to a big pot. Another of my gifts (chosen by Elsa) has given me all sorts of gardening and cooking ideas. But without wanting to sound all 'gushy', the best part of the day was opening the cards made by the kids and simply being together at home; I'm so glad we didn't go out.  Well, actually, I went out for a while. My sister and I took off for a spot of fabric shopping and a tea-break at a local cafe, and both happened to buy some new boots (and not Gum Boots!)'s been a while but, it is Mothers Day after all!!!

And today I started my Tea Leaves cardigan, though I haven't quite completed all my part-finished knitting projects that I aimed to before embarking on this new project. Oh well, today of all days, surely I can break a self-imposed rule. Yes? I've wanted to make this cardigan for myself since completing Elsa's Tea Leaves and when Mum and one of my sisters gave me a voucher to Sunspun for my birthday in March, I chose this yarn with the Tea Leaves in mind. Now 'she's' on the needles and, I'm very impressed with the yarn so far. With all the birthday sewing I have in mind, I imagine this cardigan will grow slowly but, I'm hoping to wear it this winter...fingers crossed.

Old man Rafael offers some gardening advice!
Garden greens for lunch

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Two posts in a day? Well, I have some catching up to do. Here's another of these, this time for a six year old friend, a neighbour in fact, who celebrated her birthday last weekend. Both the outer and lining fabrics came from here and it's been in my stash for years; sometimes the best surprises can be found in seemingly unlikely places (the shop, not my stash!). I made this bag deeper than the last and a little narrower and popped some crafty treats inside. This girl likes pink and hopefully it hit the mark!

WE KNOW-A FEIJO-A (or two)

Oh dear, I have a new-found feijoa obsession, verging on an addition. I just can't get enough. Really. For one, they look very pretty sitting on the kitchen table but they also taste extraordinarily good and emit a wonderfully sweet fragrance; they exude pleasure of all varieties. To top things off, they're good for you. All together, they're little balls (or ovals) of goodness and we have all types of plans for them.

I'm left wondering about my previous aversion to this delicious fruit and have decided that last time I embarked on a taste test I must've been pregnant with taste-buds 'out of wack' or, perhaps just plainly out of my mind or, I guess I could've had a bad batch. Whatever the reason(s), I'm a convert and like all good converts, I'm set to preach to the skeptics and disbelievers. It's a good thing feijoas appeal to us as we recently discovered that we have a feijoa tree next to the hen house. Unfortunately, the possums 'collected' (devoured) our feijoas the night before we planned to collect them. We'll have more luck next season perhaps; at least we now know we have a feijoa tree!

But today, I'm feeling very grateful for the generosity of one of 'Dada's' work colleagues, who deposited a 5kg box of these delicious fruit on D's desk yesterday, along with a pile of recipes and nutritional information listing the benefits of feijoa (as if the flavour wasn't enough). What a gift. A lovely, unexpected delight. This heavenly 'feijoa angel' (as we've coined her) has a property previously farmed for its organic produce and, though the land is no longer farmed in the same way and the officially 'organic' certification has recently lapsed, the feijoas, along with all else still growing on the property, are for all intensive purposes organic, which makes them even more special in our minds.

Needless to say I've placed an order for a few more 5kg boxes (make that three) and have plans for feijoa jam, paste and chutney but really, the options are endless (I intend to have a go at exhausting them!!!). Wish me luck. Off to enjoy some Feijoa Coconut Cake, our first foray into the world of baking with feijoa and I'm left even more impressed with this fruit (though not with my lack of patience, which led me to turn the cake from the pan before its time...resulting in that warped affect!). 

And a little celebration of the warm weather we've had this week..a welcome reprieve from the cooler days that were sneaking in and, are in fact, back again...Autumn, it's an unpredictable affair.

But always collecting for the cooler weather to come..

Friday, May 11, 2012


A birthday gift for a five year old friend made with a newish range of fabric from here (a Japanese, linen blend). I've lost track of how many times I've made use of this great, easy pattern, adapting the dimensions to suit the recipient's age and/or the bag's intended purpose. From incy wincy bags to bigger library bags, from short handle-sized straps to the longer, over the shoulder variety, mostly lined but occasionally not, this bag has worked for us!  It's an easy bag to make, though it initially takes a little fiddling to get the corners right (which you can't really see in these photos; those angled lines on the front reflect a bad ironing job, nothing else). I wanted this book (part of the gift) to fit in the bag, without it being too large to warrant other future uses of the kind demanded by a young child; apparently it's working out well - yippee. I hope 'Little Red' enjoys it for years to come, and if a wolf comes her way, perhaps she could pop it on his head and run like the wind!

A poor image of the lining!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


 Rafael does a fine job of maintaining a warm little body (read: he's busy!) but, a new cardigan never goes astray especially a new, green cardigan, which happens to be my favourite colour.

This pattern goes up to a size 12 and is sure to be knit over and over again by this Mama; it's so easy and meets my preference for knitting in the round (no sewing up involved - woohooo!) (Ravelry notes here). By the way, my sister has knit this cardigan a few times in various sizes, the largest being a size 10 or so and it looked great each time; if only Raf would stay still for long enough for me to capture this example! I'm not overly impressed with my choice of yarn this time (it's pilled a touch) but it works well as a garden cardigan (and its often worn while reading in front of the fire too, and when scooting, and swinging get the picture).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I've heard it said and seen it written that Autumn is the busiest time of year in the garden and it has seemed to be the case for us but, being our first Autumn here, and our first with a big garden of our own, we have nothing but a first Summer with which to compare! Still, it has been busy and that 'busy-ness' is slowly moving indoors as Winter approaches, which is a lovely and timely thing and I finally have the opportunity, and the motivation, to complete a post!

To date, this Autumn has seen;

* a fair harvest of tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, french beans, corn (though most was eaten by possums) and other things;

* the sowing of packets and packets of Diggers seed in the garden and the seedling trays (watercress, spinach, white and red onion, spring onion, leek, snow pea, radish, turnip, cabbage, fennel, radicchio,  cabbage and more) and planning for the next round of planting (oranges, apples, strawberries, limes, respberries and blueberries are on their way, amongst sooo much else! - and I should qualify that statement - the plants are on their way, there are no guarantees that the fruit will follow, though we have our fingers crossed);

* a few mountain adventures, though my Canadian husband grins at the mention of Mountains in the Australian context (it's all relative isn't it!)(we're particularly loving Epoche and this wool store);

* some glorious, glorious weather allowing us to stay in the garden until late in the day and a little rainy, windy weather inspiring us to light the fire at least ten times (we're counting);

* the completion of a pile of knitting projects, some long-standing and a few relatively new (one above with some Ravelry notes here, and details of other completed projects to come soon);

* visits from a beloved nephew/cousin but, really, they're all beloved! (this one is almost thirty; such is life as the youngest of ten children; I have a multitude of grown-up nephews and nieces - and plenty of little ones too!);

* the re-uptake of juicing (our current way to start the day; usually with carrot, lemon, mandarin and apple juice - mmmm), bread-making, crepe-making (yummmmo) and slow-cooking (our most beloved appliance);

* planning for an upcoming 5th, 9th and 13th and 40th (birthdays they are);

* plenty of socialising with friends, old and new;

* a few visits to lovely Winterwood for inspiration and to gather resources for upcoming projects (more on that soon too!); 

* the death of a few chickens (goodbye 'Funny' and 'Alice') and, combined with cooler temperatures, a  drop in egg production (we're looking into Spring chickens);

* a yoga workshop in Yarraville for this Mama;

* more 'Kindergarten' for a 'big' little girl and plenty of days when we make it to door but, as she's not so convinced, we end up back at home (consistent with past experience, it may take a little while for Elsa to settle in which is just fine with us);

* a new playgroup for a 'big' little boy (his first activity minus his big sister so he's often still looking out for her or, at a minimum talking about her - I think my kids are good candidates for home-schooling!).