25 December 2008

let the summer begin

Christmas elf departs in a hurry

He hasn't taken off that Santa hat for days.

It's been a glorious day here in all the best kinds of ways. Tomorrow we're heading off on our summer holidays for some more sun, and a bit of sand and surf too.

See you in a few weeks, friends.


24 December 2008


mantlepiece at Christmas

To everyone who comes here and reads, I wish you a very merry Christmas, or a happy Hannukah.

Stay safe, eat well, love fully.

23 December 2008

tiny knitted acorn pattern


Finally, a little Christmas gift for you knitters.

These little whimsies make lovely Christmas decorations, bookmarks (early prototype seen here), or just delightful additions to your nature table. (Sorry about that last link - you have to scroll down quite a way through all sorts of waffle to find the acorns ...)

Anyway, wanna have a go? Ok.

To knit this in the round:
scraps of fine yarn, set of four 2mm dpns

Using the colour for the body (not the cap) of the acorn, cast on 6 stitches, place 2 stitches on each needle.
Round 1: kfb all around (12 stitches)
Round 2: knit
Round 3: kfb, k1, kfb, k1 etc all around (18 stitches)
Rounds 4-9: knit.
Round 10: Change to cap colour yarn, kfb all around (36 stitches)
Round 11: purl
Round 12: moss stitch (that's seed stitch, for you Americans)
Round 13: keeping moss stitch as correct as possible, decrease by two stitches per needle. Best decrease is p2tog, so you keep the little nubbly acorn-cap type lumps. (30 stitches)
Continue in moss stitch, decreasing by two stitches per needle until you have 18 stitches.
P2tog all around (9 stitches)
Stuff with wool fleece or polyfill.
P2tog all around (4 stitches)
P2tog (3 stitches)
Knit a tiny 3 stitch i-cord for a couple of rounds to make a stalk. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

You can make a little hanging loop if your acorn is to be a Christmas tree decoration, or continue the i-cord to make a key ring decoration, or even longer and finish with a tassel to make it a bookmark.

Enjoy. Please let me know of any errors or if anything's unclear - I'm unused to writing out patterns. And if you make one, please leave a link in the comments so I can come and see!

The pattern is on Ravelry here.


21 December 2008

fourth light of Advent

fourth light of advent

The fourth light of Advent
it is the light of man.
The light of love,
the light of thought,
to give and understand.

Heard three mornings ago ... Mum, Mum, come in here quick! The sheep have arrived!

And wonder of wonders, this morning the shepherd turned up. Mary and Joseph can't be far behind.

18 December 2008

99 things meme

Nicked from Knitters-Knitters.

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.

2. Slept under the stars.

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii. I sat in the airport for an hour and gazed blearily and jetlaggedly at some palm trees. I reckon that counts.

5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Nup. I give what I can afford.

7. Been to Disneyland/world. (Disneyland, 1982)

8. Climbed a mountain. Lived on a couple for the winter - Mt Baw Baw, and Falls Creek.

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo. All the time, every day (car, shower, you name it).

11. Bungee jumped. No freakin' way.

12. Visited Paris. March 1986.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. In Queensland one New Year's Eve, up high in the hills overlooking the Gold Coast and water. Spectacular.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Photography??

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. As Jen (who has adopted children) said, why is this question immediately following the one pertaining to adopted children?

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (Where else would one see her, pray tell?)

20. Slept on an overnight train. Across the Nullabor to Perth, also once in Spain and possibly also in Italy I think.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked. Around England, into Scotland, and later in the north of France. The further south we went in France the dodgier it became and we ceased before we were found dead and interfered with in a ditch, and bought Eurail tickets. See item 20.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb. Aawwww ... no.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a marathon. Oh you must be joking.

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. Ridden the water taxis in Venice though. And looked longingly at the gondolas. Does that count?

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run. Softball match in Year 8 PE class. Never to be repeated.

32. Been on a cruise. Does not appeal in the slightest.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language. Not taught myself, but have been taught French.

37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. What kind of a question is that? Sheesh.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing. Just recently for the first time ever! With my boys and Sandra and her boy.

40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person.

41. Sung Karaoke. Again with the you've got to be kidding bit.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. I don't know what this is but it sounds cool.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Uh, can't say I have.

44. Visited Africa. Nearly, so very nearly. We had the itinerary planned (Zanzibar, and a game park in Tanzania) and the money saved and then I fell pregnant and it was all OFF.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. (Actually yes! I was in utero and Mum's labour was frighteningly quick. It was a Sunday afternoon in London, 1964).

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. I got a sore neck.

Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I've stood underneath it, but I was a penniless backpacker (see item 22) and we satisfied ourselves with looking at it rather than conquering it. We did see Paris from the top of Notre Dame though, so I figure the view is similar.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. Queensland and Fiji.

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.

55. Been in a movie. No but I've been in several tv ads.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. Uh, no. And we refer to them as biscuits anyway.

62. Gone whale watching.

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
(Gotten? What a word! How about Received? Anyway, yes, the mister brings home the occasional bunch for "no reason", or so he claims).

64. Donated blood. (just.can't.do.the.blood.thing)

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a cheque.

68. Flown in a helicopter. No, but my cousin has and she told me about it in great detail.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. I still have Teddy, my dollshouse, Pollyanna and many, many books.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar (why does caviar have a capital letter here?)

72. Pieced a quilt. One day I'll cut up all that fabric, I swear.

73. Stood in Times Square. One day I'll visit New York, I swear.

74. Toured the Everglades. I doubt that I'll ever get to Florida though. Sorry Joke.

75. Been fired from a job. Sad but true.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone. See item 8.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book. But I've edited three.

81. Visited the Vatican. see sistine chapel, sore neck, etc.

82. Bought a brand new car. (Leased a brand new car).

83. Walked in Jerusalem. One day! I swear!

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox.

89. Saved someone’s life.  When he was 2 and a half, Son #1 silently and without thrashing or panicking, sank to the bottom of a pool when I was right beside him in the water.  The speed and silence of it terrified me and made me realise how frighteningly easy it is for very small children to drown.  I reached down and hauled him up within seconds, but the terror and dread stayed with us for years.

90. Sat on a jury.

91. Met someone famous. Me and Cate, we're like this. Also, I played Noelene Browne's daughter in those Vesta ads in the 1970s. See 55.

92. Joined a book club. Started a book club no less. We've been going 4 years now.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit. I won an equal opportunity case once, but not really a full on law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone. I do own a mobile phone, as we call 'em. I've even been known to send a text or two overseas.

99. Been stung by a bee.

17 December 2008


Luminare socks

The Luminare socks are finished at last. I think I started them some time in September, as I remember being laughed at by ignoramuses on the train, going to the Show. Finished last week, worn a couple of times already and finally photographed today.

Luminare socks listing to starboard

All those people who take beautiful artistic shots of their own feet clad in new socks have my utmost admiration. I wrestled with chairs, the self timer and the hoiking up of my pants to show off the socks and took about eleventy gazillion shots before settling for that one. Yes, I am listing to starboard, and yes that is a wardrobe door knob lying on the floor behind me. Also, the shoes need polishing. Let's just say ... keeping it real.

I love these socks. Great pattern, stretchy cably lace (without a cable needle!) and gorgeous yarn bought from The Knittery and hand dyed by me yes I am so very clever. And modest.


15 December 2008

full steam ahead

Christmas pudding

The pudding is made. Once again we missed Stir Up Sunday (must put it on the calendar for next year ... it's the Sunday prior to the first Sunday of Advent), but the deed is done. It's pictured here awaiting its baking paper, tinfoil and string in preparation for the long four hours of steaming. I managed to keep up the boiling water all afternoon, topping it up from the kettle regularly as we pottered around making mince pies, but then retired to the lounge room to watch The Life of Brian (an excellent choice for Christmas viewing) and the pot boiled dry. Good thing brandy custard covers a multitude of sins.

mince pies

The mince pies, made by three boys and I (the mister was on the roof, festively clearing out the gutters). Sharp eyed readers will notice that one child claimed three and spelt out his name. They taste fantastic, despite over-enthusiastic pastry kneading by Son #2 who has suddenly developed an interest in cooking which I am strongly encouraging and cultivating (we made chocolate cake together the following day).

the statue puts on her Santa hat every December

The lounge room is looking suitably festive with the angel chain up, and the statue wearing her December headwear. The Advent Fairy even turned up last night with the stable. Better late than never I spose.

kitchen window at Christmas

And that shot is for Sarah, who asked her readers how we decorate our kitchens for Christmas. It occurred to me that I don't actually decorate my kitchen - all the decorations are in the lounge room with the tree and Advent table, cards, Advent calendar, angels et al. Feeling suddenly inadequate for neglecting my poor kitchen, especially upon hearing that Badger has three Christmas trees in her house, I remedied the situation with a festive windowsill arrangement. Soft trees from Stephanie's pattern, made ages ago, and yes they match my skirt), with a knitted Christmas pudding from last year, and a red paper flower made by Son #3.

Ah, that's better. Now, I just need to actually commence the Christmas shopping and card writing.

14 December 2008

Third light of Advent

third Sunday of Advent

The third light of Advent
it is the light of beasts
The light of hope that we may see
in greatest and in least

12 December 2008

T and J, I can't believe we are now in our forties

Supper Club.  Wednesday night.

It's a good thing isn't it, catching up with old friends. Like, really old friends.

Friends from those golden olden days before kids (mine), divorces (others') and wrinkles (all of ours). T (of the sugarbowl), J and I met at work about 17 years ago when we were the three young bloods of our department, and then again on Wednesday night, only slightly more crumpled and thickened around the middle.

We gossiped about old work colleagues and swapped stories of who had turned up where (we all still work at universities, just different ones) and who still has a job (ha! not funny considering ...) and who beats whom on Wordtwist and who knows about elven bloodlust and generally had a marvellous old time. We probably bored the crap out of J's partner - I noticed her eyes glaze over as we embarked on yet another story about work.

We watched the light on the steeples fade and the sky turn a brilliant deep blue. We lounged on the old leather sofas and spoke of how we should be drinking cognac, not tea.

T told more of her famous anecdotes. I reminded her of my favourite one thus far, about how Helen Garner, with whom T had a passing friendship, told her that when she was naming the protagonist of Monkey Grip chose Nora specifically because it can be shortened to an unflattering Gnaw. Just as Helen is abbreviated to Hell. So T told me another literary anecdote which is now my new favourite. T doesn't have a blog (but by golly she should, it'd be bloody fantastic and you would all go and read it, wouldn't you, yes you would. You tell her that in the comments, ok?) so I will tell it here. When we all worked at our previous university in the city, we would all go to the Vic Market in our lunch hour and get our weekly fruit and veg. One day T had done her shopping when a friend in publishing rang her and suggested drinks after work, casually mentioning that a couple of "author folk" would be there. T agreed, and, burdened with several bulging plastic bags full of veggies, looking hot and dishevelled and much like a bag lady (I'm embellishing here, cos T doesn't have a blog so can't defend herself and she probably doesn't read my blog anyway any more anyway), turned up to the venue.

It turned out to be the Hyatt.

And the author folk? Whom T met, while juggling her plastic bags of fresh produce? A.S. Byatt and Vikram Seth.

Love it.

And by now T will be back in Perth and online again, so please excuse me while I go thrash her at Wordtwist.

9 December 2008

I don't have time to blog

bird in cage, from Jodie

But I'm here anyway. I need to break up the Advent posts or we get a bit same old same old around here. So here are some unrelated snippets for your edification.

The little birdcage ornament was a gift from the gorgeous Jodie at ric-rac (ages ago). Thank you Jodie! (Reasons to love the internets #873).

What else? I finished my Luminare socks and have already cast on and done several inches on the next sock, which will be a pair for the mister. I'm in denial about how ugly they are turning out to be. It's the thought (not to mention the hours and hours of knitting) that counts, right? Photos to come, unless I frog them due to aforementioned ugliness problem.

The smallest person in the house is happier. Thank heavens.

I seem to have something on every single night for two weeks, with the exception of tonight hence the not really having time to blog and should be being in bed status.

Posh work dinner last night, for which I purchased clothing! I haven't bought a new frock or anything for a function for years, except from the op shop. I was at Magnolia Square market on the weekend and when my friend heard about the dinner she decided we should look for a dress for me. I stroked one at a stall nearby and nearly fainted at the $850 price tag. At a market! Do people really go to markets expecting to pay that kind of money? Clearly they do, in Malvern. I was looking for something hovering around the $60 mark, personally, and there's still guilt at that price when I can get perfectly good at the oppy ... sew it myself for fraction of ... etc etc yeah you know the rest.

Yikes. Anyway I ended up in Myer buying a beautiful white linen and cotton cross between a jacket and a blouse, with lots of pleaty gathery bits and two of its three buttons missing so got it for 20% off although the price was still guilt inducing, not to mention the jacket I also bought because it will be 'so useful for work'. Ahem. Anyway, a quick dash to Spotlight to purchase three magnificent mother-of-pearl buttons for the white blousejacket, and I was all set. Teamed it with my long black velvet (op shop years ago) skirt, and the posh black shoes and felt rather swish. Son #2 took a photo of us all gussied up for the dinner, however he positioned me carefully in front of our stained glass window and I look like I have a halo in all the shots. I also looked like the wait staff but in higher heels. Oh well.

Tomorrow the elder two finish school for the year, but the youngest still has a week and a half to go. As you might expect he is seriously pissed off at this gross injustice. He felt better when I announced that his brothers have dentist appointments tomorrow after school break up.

The booklists for next year have come home, reminding us that they will all be moving up a year after Christmas. The grunting teenager will be in Class 9 and I am kind of in denial about that. Again. The middle child starts high school (Class 7!) but this feels less of a milestone as he's already at the school so it's just a shift to the room next door (he got a coveted place at the school at the beginning of this year). And littlest will be in Class 4. Again with the yikes. How can this be? And he'll be ten soon so they will all be in double figures. Where did those nappy and pram days go? When did I get so old?

Nearly the witching hour; time for bed.

Although that reminds me I have some things to say about my current audio book, Tobsha Learner's The Witch of Cologne. I hadn't read any of Learner's books before, but it had good blurbs from respected critics on the cover so I picked it up. It's kind of compelling but there's rather a lot of sex. I'm subjected to copious descriptions of pendulous breasts and aching loins at around 9.10 am each day on the freeway, which isn't really my cup of tea. Plus it's read by an Australian actress with exaggerated dick-see-yun, desperately making sure the vast sums spent at ello-cue-see-yun lessons and drama class weren't wasted. One can almost hear her leaning towards the microphone, throat thrust forward, emoting passionately. It's tiresome, frankly. But as I said, the story is compelling. And historically interesting, with lots of tidbits about midwifery, witches, Inquisitors, Jews, heretics et al.

Prior to that I listened to In My Father's Den by Maurice Gee. Excellent, moving, and beautifully understatedly read.

Two minutes till the witching hour, let's see if I can hit PUBLISH before the clock ticks over.

Edited to say, that time stamp is wrong. It's not 11.17 it's 11.58pm. Must fix.

7 December 2008

second light of Advent

second light of Advent

The second light of Advent
it is the light of plants.
Plants reach up to the sun
and in the breezes, dance.

5 December 2008



Dear littlest one,

My heart broke for you this week, yet at the same time I was so very very proud of you. You showed courage, integrity and generosity, and I know things are going to get better for you now. Your ability to put things behind you quickly and move forward with faith, hope and an unflappable spirit and lightness of being are inspiring.

All my love,

30 November 2008

First light of Advent, 2008

first light of Advent, 2008

The first light of advent
It is the light of stones
The light that lives in crystals
seashells and bones.

Advent crept up on me the Advent Fairy this year, hence the rather humble tealights on the nature table. (That Advent Fairy is as slack as the Tooth Fairy sometimes). However I did manage to find a golden pinecone candle to be the special lit-on-Christmas-Eve-candle, so all is not lost.

We lit the first candle to celebrate, spoke the verse and each put a little rock or crystal in the dish. Son #1 put on a small display of teenage coolness, but the Advent Fairy shot him a look and he managed to participate in good humour for the benefit of his younger brothers.

Tomorrow we will dig out the Advent Calendar and hang some angels on the mantlepiece. The children always start nagging to put up the tree some time in November, but a few years ago we made the rule that they have to wait until 1st December. The basket of Christmas books will be brought out (although the other day I went into the lounge room and found the younger two sneakily reading Raymond Briggs' volumes on Father Christmas. They looked suitably guilty, but what parent would chastise their children from reading?) and I get to drag out the Christmas carols cds, hooray! (Mr Soup rolls his eyes whenever I put them on the stereo).

Each year at this time, I get lots of visitors to my blog via Google - people looking for ways to celebrate Advent. This is what we do in our family - it's a nice way to enjoy the season and anticipate Christmas without the emphasis on constant daily gifts and treats. Or chocolate. If you're interested, my 2005, 2006 and 2007 posts regarding Advent, including the verses for each of the four Sundays, can be found ...

First Sunday of Advent here, here and here.

Second Sunday of Advent here [ the one in which Son #1 learnt the truth about Saint Nick, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny in one traumatic week], here and over here.

Third: this one, this one and that one.

Fourth Sunday - here [the one where I explained where the verses came from and no I didn't make them up] and there [no fourth post in 2006 apparently].

I hope that helps. Happy first Sunday of Advent, everyone!

29 November 2008

beauty from the interwebs, #587

felted acorns

Are these not exquisite? They're from Aux Petits Oiseaux over at Etsy. My little acorn obsession wouldn't let me leave them in the shop all lonely-like.

Speaking of acorns, I promise I will write out the knitted acorn pattern very soon. I get so many requests for it, and I do mean to share it, but I need to knit it first and make sure my scrawled notes make sense. In the meantime I've discovered Nicky Epstein also has a patten for knitting an acorn that you could use. However hers is knitted flat and then sewn up, while mine is knitted in the round because, you know, I.hate.sewing.up.

Also, a big welcome to readers of Yarnstorm! I am so flattered to be among one of the Ten Beautiful Blogs voted by one of the most beautiful blogs ever. Thank you Jane.

26 November 2008

mad quilting skillz

I am flushed with success.

Following my recent (and first ever) quilting triumph with The Coaster ...


I got all excited and made, wait for it, 18 more.

Can I just repeat that? Eighteen more!


coasters for birthdays

The pinkish ones are for my bestest friend, whose living room is full of aubergines (the colour, not the vegetable) and purple hues, and whose birthday was um, back in the first week of November. (I am a bad bad friend).

The sage green ones with dark brown thread are made from an upholstery fabric sample book found at Reverse Art Truck and also seen en blogge this time last year being made into Christmas cards. Mum and Dad's lounge room is all sage greens and chocolate browns, so these will do nicely for my Mum's birthday, which was, um, the second week of November. (I am a bad, bad daughter).

And the other six, I hear the mathematically minded amongst you ask politely?

Blue floral with red quilting thread, for my dear friend L whose birthday is in APRIL. Thank god, I'm ahead of schedule somewhere in my life. They didn't make the photograph because it was kind of dark by then and I was practically sewing by candlelight. I am nothing if not obsessive.

I am also planning pink ones for another friend as a thank you for the loan of the clown stilt pants.

Oh, and a big shout-out of a thank you to Jane, who provided me with the batting used in the coasters. Ages ago, Jane and I indulged in The Great Chocolate Biscuit Competition, and she used quilting batting to wrap up a Persephone book that she also kindly popped into the parcel alongside the biscuits. I remember looking at the little wad of fluffy batting stuff bemusedly (not being a madly talented quilter in those days) and shoving it into the drawer with all those other things that may come in useful one day, and lo, when I suddenly had the urge to make and quilt eighteen little coasters, I knew where to turn. (Moral of story: don't throw away STUFF).

24 November 2008

me again

Hello world. I am "working from home" today. I love that phrase.

And although I am working (very hard) (in between WordTwist games with fellow bloggers, you know who you are), I have some things to tell you. You lucky lucky people.

• Those of you who've been around the soup for a while might remember that almost exactly three years ago, I was challenged to an arm-wrestle, by two separate people, for Cate Blanchett (you know, should she come knocking on my door to suggest we elope). You don't remember? Let me refresh your memory, I'll wait.

Are you back yet? Okay, well, I win. I can happily report that on Saturday night I had a close encounter with Cate Blanchett's knees (hi Cate if you're googling yourself on a whim checking out your publicity). The mister and I went out for a harrowing night at the theatre and as we were standing in the queue to go in (just after the deputy vice chancellor from work had spotted me and waved merrily [hi Professor! You googling yourself too?]) I said There's a woman just arrived, successfully wearing very difficult-to-pull-off tweed knickerbockers, who's the IMAGE of Cate Blanchett minus the elf ears. As we took our seats in the small, rather intimate Malthouse Theatre, I took off my jacket (black, with the spiders eggs and pubic hair brooch attached), swung it around to the back of my seat, and elbowed Cate Blanchett's knees. In the flesh. She didn't seem to mind, and so I fully expect her to call any day now with her diary in hand, ready to set that elopement date. Telfair and Blackbird, eat your hearts out.

Anyway, she is as pale and beautiful in real life as you would expect. And her knees are lovely, if bruised. Even in tweed knickerbockers.

Oh, the harrowing part of the evening was the play itself - Euripides' The Women of Troy. The Barry Kosky version with Robyn Nevin. Dear god. The woman next to me was sobbing within three minutes of curtain up. If you go, take a hankie.

We had read the press and I know the play so we were expecting a confronting spectacle but, oh boy. We tried to pre-order interval drinks at the bar before we went in and the barman laughed and said There's no interval. Just two hours straight of bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! [slamming his fist into his palm with each bam!] and then we open the doors and you all fall out, pale and wan, and stagger home. He wasn't wrong.

After the show we were gulping down a stiff drink each and the cast came out and air kissed Cate and each other. And hey, Robyn Nevin is little. She has such a powerful deep voice and huge stage presence that you expect her to be a giant. But she was right next to me and *I* am actually taller than her. By a lot. (I am never taller than people except ten year olds).

• On a lighter note, we watched Son #2 perform his first and last violin solo in a concert on Sunday afternoon. He got through it without tears and only minor screeching and we were very proud. He can't wait until the next few weeks are over and he's finished with Class 6 and can give up violin and take up the saxophone which is far more his style. (All children in Steiner schools learn an unfretted stringed instrument from Class 3 to 6).

• Now, thank you to whoever it was recommended I read/listen to Joanne Harris' The Lollipop Shoes, the sequel to Chocolat. Apart from the unfortunate title which makes it sound like hot pink chick-lit, it's a ripper. Darker than Chocolat [hahahha] and with more bite [hahahaha], I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially liked learning the back story, which was hinted at in the first novel, but not really explained. Now on my commute I'm listening to Roald Dahl's Boy which is read by Andrew Sachs. I've heard Roald Dahl read it himself at some stage too - I remember his lovely dry, rather expressionless reading - but Sachs does a fine job, and if you listen closely, every now and then a tiny bit of Manuel slips in when he gets excited.

• This morning I had my hair cut.

• I think it's time to stop this gushy name-dropping drivel post and turn off the party side of the computer for a bit.

Have I mentioned I love this working from home bizzo?



21 November 2008

Circus Magnifico


They made a grand entrance, all 25 of them, on stilts ...

stilts in formation

to perform impressive wheels and marching formations, better than my calisthenics team when I was 12 and we had normal length legs.

umbrella war

This was followed by war (minus the stilts). An umbrella phalanx was formed, with Son #2 atop, leading the charge in his bright yellow raincoat. This was followed by a cream pie fight of which there is no photographic evidence as the audience, including your brave photographer, was busy ducking.


Parents gasped in terror and younger siblings yelped with delight as children flew and soared through the air. Some, smaller and lighter than their peers, flew the longest and highest. (Ahem. Their parents squealed the loudest).

There was lagerphone playing and stomping, musical accompaniment, human pyramids and tumbles, death defying feats of bravery and even a hilarious poetry reading from their stalwart teacher while the class stood behind him acting out the poem, culminating in a 'rainstorm' landing on the poet's head (Ahem. One of the cheeky bucket-wielders was my child).

serious clown

It was FABULOUS. I spent the entire time half laughing and half crying.

And no clowns were harmed in the process. Thank heavens.

16 November 2008

the randoms

early apricots

: : has anyone else noticed that the word verifications on Blogger are less gobbledy-gookish these days and more like actual made up words? like linseff and onoin and troinus rather than lkdjfledkjfkdf. this pleases me. much like that wonderful book by Douglas Adams (alert: two Douglas Adams references in a week. something in the water) The Meaning of Liff which features words he created for all those little parts of life that don't currently have words, such as 'the cool side of the pillow on a hot summer night' and 'the little rubber nodules on the underside of the toilet seat'.

: : it's Sneak PEEK people, not Peak. please get it right.

: : i have a large list of important things to do. i am not doing them.

: : now that i knit socks, i need to learn how to darn. when i only ever purchased socks, i didn't darn, i tossed.

: : if you are a music teacher and you normally stand in front of and conduct your ten-piece string ensemble of year 8 kids, but then when they perform in the kindergarten garden for the entertainment of visitors and you introduce them and then walk away, they will not know how to keep time themselves, and Pachelbel's Canon will be a shamozzle because the cellos will go too fast, the violas will fade away to nothingness, the violins will flounder, no one will do the big breath in thing and take charge and they will all look wildly about for help, all the while playing on and on and on ... so next time, could you stay in front of them and wave your arms around for them to follow? pretty please? because otherwise the parent next to you will say 'that was hilarious!' which isn't really the desired outcome, is it? thank you

: : i have a cold. and i'm still not addressing the list.

14 November 2008

Do you ever

... wish you could hold these small fragments of innocence and imagination in your heart, not just on paper?

elf, by Son #3

... try really really hard to not slip up in striving to be the person you would like to be?

sunlight on the Desiderata

... imagine you could Swallow-swoop and dive in the cool Spring dawn?

welcome swallow in flight

... think, it's time to knit the second sock.

one Luminare sock

10 November 2008

Sewing as a displacement activity

another one

Yup, I made another one.

More clothes from other peoples' old sheets. And this one doesn't have dubious stains on it, so, you know, BONUS!

Kidding! (I mean, the other ones don't have worrying stains actually, that's what I mean by kidding. ALL of my old sheet other folks' castoff bedclothes cool vintage linens clothing items are CLEAN and FREE OF HIDEOUS GERMY STAINS).

I think I'll stop there.

Except to say ... the pattern is Burda 8879 for those who care about such things.

Oh, and also to say that the person who left a comment asking if s/he could ask me questions about Steiner/Waldorf education but left no email address, the answer is yes of course you can. My email address is over there, --> top right. Go for it.

9 November 2008

and the winner is ...

icing the lemon cake

We finish up the kitchen poetics with an announcement ...

new red oven gloves and callistemon flowers

that we have a winner in the great Pea Soup giveaway ...


according to the random integer generator ...

it tickles
that shot's for LuLu who has an intimate knowledge of all types of bugs

(removing the duplicate comments first, naturally) ...

teapot, sugarpot, jug

and the winner is ...

evening sunlight


(Douglas Adams would approve).

Danna you were the 42nd commenter. Please email me with your details and I will get your winning skein in the post! Thanks to everyone who entered - it was fun to see some new faces and watch the comments arriving from all corners of the planet.

8 November 2008

kitchen poetry : : 4

muesli biscuits, cars and homework

Muesli biscuits (recipe here) cooling on a rack, toy cars (evidence of the 9 year old's presence) and the 12 year old's homework (a project on Tasmanian devils).


A cup of tea and a still-warm biscuit.


7 November 2008

Kitchen poetry : : 3

raffle tickets, school newsletter, apples, clutter

sundowner apples, raffle ticket butts, school newsletter ...

my kitchen bench is frequently all of a clutter

5 November 2008

Kitchen poetry : : 2

Turkish trivet

A nightly ritual.

The little two-person teapot sits ready, just waiting for the mister and I to take a cup of tea and our books (me: The Virgin in the Garden by A S Byatt; him: Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd) to bed.

The pretty blue and red trivet was a recent gift from my friend L who holidayed in Turkey last month.

ps. Did you all read yesterday's comments? Our resident poet and storyteller Eleanor wrote a poem to go with my first kitchen poetry post. I told her I expect one each day now, so do keep a look out.

4 November 2008

Kitchen poetry : : 1

sunlight on the oven

A week of kitchen poetry, hosted by Simple Sparrow.

You can play too.

Note: I'll keep comments open in my giveaway (scroll down a post) for the rest of the week while I'm participating in Kitchen Poetry. Please feel free to enter if you haven't already!

30 October 2008

to celebrate

: : the reopening of my etsy shop

: : mixtape zine issue no. 6 (in which yours truly has an article)

: : Pea Soup's 571st post

: : and three years, four months, and eight days of blogging

: : also because I've never ever done a giveaway before or let you know how much I appreciate you (and oh I do, I really really do)

... I am giving away either a hand knitted pure cotton washcloth, or a 100g skein of hand dyed aran weight pure wool yarn.

smocked dishcloth100g Gelati yarn

Leave me a comment and I'll draw a winner early next week. Make sure you tell me your preference - cloth or skein!

ps. I'll post to any location - local or international.

edited to add: the colourway of the yarn is 'Gelati'.

29 October 2008



I don't know what kind of bird laid this egg, but the colour was exquisite.

impossibly tiny

I do know who laid this unbelievably tiny one though.

A Welcome Swallow (they are also known as House Swallows). That pair of tiny birds that live outside the laundry door in their little striped mud nest are now proud parents. They fly in and out all.day.long and every now and then when I venture out to the clothesline with a[nother] basket of washing I catch a glimpse of a fluffy wee head or a gaping beak poking above the rim of the nest.

When she takes one of her rare breaks on the shed roof, I swear I can see exhaustion in the mother bird's eyes.

26 October 2008

new clothes

grey a-line skirt

This is that skirt I made at craft retreat. I'm very pleased with myself. Smug, even.

It's a grey linen bought from Lincraft eons ago and the pattern is a simple A-line, although you can't tell from that photo.

Here's the "practice" one I made first from an old sheet.

for spring

See the grubby mirror? It's spotless in real life y'know. And the bed is made. Truly.

lounge pants

And here are the fabulously comfy wide legged pants (made from another old vintage sheet). I have barely taken them off since, except to go to work. I'm wearing them as I type. I think I even slept in them one night which is appropriate, given their origins. (Action shot of them being created here).

Bit nervous about going to work tomorrow. Given my role, I'm in the thick of all the stuff going down. I hear that there's a protest going to be staged outside (inside?!) a meeting I'm part of tomorrow night. Better wear my new lucky skirt.