Saturday, 25 February 2012

saturday snippets

Things have been very quiet this year as far as cicadas go.  Quite often the end of October or the beginning of November comes and there is a deafening noise from the cicadas.  Even in this fairly built up area, there are enough trees for  cicadas.  Not this year.  All quiet on the cicada front.

I went downstairs to check my letter box.  Hurray!  The March copy of Yarn was there and I like the look of it too.  When I turned to open the security door, this cicada was on the join of the two parts of door.  The black upright line is the felt between the doors.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I would have easily identified this variety.  'm out of practice now.  It's obviously not a green grocer or a yellow monday and it doesn't look aristocratic enough to be a Black Prince.  It's about 7 cm long.

All I had was my iPhone in my pocket so I took one photo and it flew away before I could get another.

As a child I attended school in what was then the outskirts of Sydney.  Not many houses, patches of bush, Chinese market gardens etc.  In summer at lunchtime we would catch cicadas in the playground and put them in a matchbox.  Back in the class room, a gentle shake could produce an outburst of drumming on a boring hot afternoon when we all were sleepy after lunch.

Friday, 24 February 2012

transatlantic shawl

I could not find my long cable anywhere so have taken these rather poor photos of the transatlantic Shawl by Stephen West in progress.

There is a lot of shawl bunched up on either side of the patterned centre.  The wider part of the centre panel will be (eventually), the bottom of the shawl and will be a plain border. It will need a fairly severe blocking, I think, and the three buttonholes on the right as an accent need to have an edging crocheted around them.

It's an interesting pattern done with slipped stitches.  Once I start it I remember the rows, but usually have the pattern beside me  to mark of each row as I do it.  If I stop before a pattern repeat, I can then easily find where I'm up to.  The contrast colour is a soft gumleaf green/grey.

Aside:  I haven't had problems with Blogger and picture placement for ages.  This afternoon is a pain.  Placement keeps changing by itself and the text is giving itself indents where I don't want them! Grrr!

I mentioned that Miss 11 had greatly admired my Striped Study shawl and asked for one.  I pondered for quite a while what to do.  The shawl is very big and although easy, would take a while to duplicate.  I finally decided I would lend it to her.  I took it up there last Saturday when I went to have a haircut.  I'd explained what I was doing to her parents beforehand so they knew the terms.

I told her she was welcome to keep it as long as she wanted it and used it.  I didn't want it used as a bed for the kittens or a roof for a cubby over a couple of chairs with her younger brother.  Or anything else like  that.  If she lost interest in it, as she may well do, I would like it back, but until then she could have it.  She was overwhelmed and so was her mother.  Mum is not in the least crafty as far as fibre goes and had not realised just how big or attractive the shawl was.  She's very fussy and will make sure it's well treated and will wash it carefully if needed.  I never have problems giving her anything knitted as she takes care with them.

A couple of years ago about this  time, I had a two meals in the Members' cafĂ©  in the National Gallery in Canberra.  This was my attempt to duplicate the salad I had there.  I couldn't remember some of the ingredients but this was very nice in  its place.  I had a dressing waiting of fresh lime juice and olive oil, although I later remembered that there was probably a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar there too.

Fresh rocket, some fresh figs quartered and then sliced more. Truss tiny tomatoes, some cucumber and some sheep's milk fetta.  I was used to the Bulgarian sheep's milk fetta with the white container with a green strip around the top.  I bought some a while ago, not thinking that three or four of us used to use it and now there was only me.  It went off.  I found a foil pack of the Lemnos brand sheep's milk fetta an  bought that.  A much smaller and more manageable amount.  The cheese was good with a pleasant firm texture and a lovely salty flavour.

I had made some more bread rolls with plain flour, spelt flour and the Indian wholemeal Atta flour.  They were as good as the first lot.  I ate dinner in stages, a smaller roll with the salad to start with and then a pork sausage.  The rest of the sausages are in a container for another day.  Finished with a fresh sweet, white peach.

I may even do some more on the shawl tonight while watching the cricket or whatever.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

gone phishing

It's been one of those days when I needed to keep  my wits about me.

It started early when I opened my inbox.  Fortunately gmail has a fairly good spam filter and I have a fairly well developed sense of  something not right.  It's been developed over a lot of years at computers.  My ex-husband did not have that discernment at all and opened anything his whacky friends sent him without a second thought.  I spent quite  bit of time cleaning up his PC and he couldn't understand why I tried to tell him that if it came from a religious group, then to be extra careful.

I could see the first bit of the email and didn't need to open it.  A copy of the infamous Nigerian rubbish, I think.

Dear Madam,  I am highly positioned in a major Scottish bank...
Most of these Nigerian type letters are funny and often won't have anything harmful just by opening.  Never click on a link in them.  I know there is a lot of unrest and political questioning in Scotland at the moment with questions of withdrawal, but are they really so poorly off?  Needless to say, they won't be getting my bank details or anything like that.

Half an hour later there was another one in my spam box.  This one was supposedly from Amazon. Hovering with the mouse over the sender's address showed what looked like  a genuine Amazon address. Now I buy stuff from there, usually for the Kindle.  However, I hadn't had an order cancelled (or canceled as it was in email), recently.  One before Christmas, but nothing recently.  Besides there was a spelling mistake in the bit of the email I could see without opening it.  I  looked up my own records and found  that the order number for a genuine purchase was  nothing like the number in the phishing letter.  So I took down details and sent them off to Amazon.  An answer quickly told me they were investigating this but it was definitely not genuine.

Then this evening, there was another identical email, so I have notified Amazon again.  And another one.  If at first you don't succeed...

The day was redeemed by the delivery of a book from the Book Depository, now owned by Amazon for the  last few months.  Still with good prices and free postage.  It was the River Cottage Vegetable book.  I took my afternoon tea outside and opened it.  Oooh!   Aah!  Must try this one or that.

The picture shows what is called Sweet Potato and Peanut gratin.  I had very fresh looking sweet potatoes delivered this morning so made this.  The recipe was for four but I chopped it severely.  One piece was 250 grams when  kilo was called for.  Sliced quite finely and spread in one layer in a greased ovenproof dish.  Cream, garlic, chillies, pepper and salt were mixed and spread over.  Then some peanut butter, sugar free, was mixed with the juice and rind of a lime and about a tablespoon of oil.  Dabs of this went on the slices and the second layer went on, plus any cream mixture left.  I covered it with foil, cooked it in the oven at 180° C for 20 minutes.  Off came the foil and it was cooked for about another 20 minutes till all bubbly.  I'd be more aggressive with the chilli next time, but it was very nice, even with the rather ordinary salad bits and pieces.

No rain at all today here except for last night and early this morning.  I sat outside to eat my meal after watching Letters and Numbers on SBS.  Very pleasant and I'm looking forward to making more from this book.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

saturday snippets

I'm off up the coast again today for a haircut, so am posting early.

I get  a couple of longish chillies in my vegetable delivery most deliveries, but really could use more.  So I bought this  plant and holder.  I think they may turn red as some have a bit of red on the skin.

I'm hopung that f they turn red, then they will develop some heat.  I cautiously tasted the very  end of one yesterday.  Nothing.  Picked the thing  and had a bit more.  Still nothing.  I finally ate the last bit, complete with seeds.  All I could taste was capsicum.  The label says it's supposed to be very hot.

I know I like things fairly hot, I always leave seed in the chillies I use, but seriously there wasn't a hint of heat in this.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


Sometimes I'm in the right place at the right time.  I was walking towards the checkout in the local Target today when I passed a bargain table.  It seemed to be mostly lampshades which I neither need nor want.

Then I saw this pretty tin.  It seemed to be the only one on the table and was marked down to a couple of dollars.  I had to do a bit of  a hunt to find the lid, but it was there, under the shades.  It's quite a large tine and I immediately thought of one of my granddaughters who loves this sort of thing.  If I buy some special stationery and perhaps something pink and frilly, she'll be over the moon with delight.  So a start on early present buying for the year.

I had also found in the same shop a cotton blouse in a different colour to one I had bought for myself at the beginning of our so-called summer.  That one had been $48.95.  This was a few cents over $12.  How could I leave it there?

I'm still plugging away on my shawl.  I haven't done any for a couple of days as my shoulders have been very temperamental.  However, I just remembered I have a still longer cord, so if I can find it, I'll take some pictures.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

a little bit of sunshine

I made a determined effort the other day and restarted my languishing Transatlantic Shawl.  It's not hard, it looks good, but I couldn't get into it for at least three  months.  I've done about another 25 rows on it and am really to the point  where the border is worked according to the pattern.  However I still have several balls of both colours so will keep going for a  while.  No photos yet.  There are lots of stitches on a fairly long cable.  They move around easily still but there are too many to stretch out to see the interesting pattern done with slip stitches.

There's some sunshine here  this evening.  I'd forgotten what it looked and felt like!  It comes after a massive storm over Sydney and the Central Coast and down the coast too.  Hail, very dark, thunder and lightning.  Up near my son's place on the coast it was described as a mini cyclone.

It's made photos for Project 365 difficult.  I haven't wanted to venture too far  from home a the rain arrives suddenly with little warning.  There are just so many photos one can take around the place.  However, I am now just under 80%.  The more I add, the longer it takes to go up a percentage point.  It was quick when there were only a few photos.

I was playing around with the aperture settings this morning with the flower.  A smaller opening, f stop, increases the clarity of the depth of the field.  (Smaller opening equals larger number on actual setting!)  I still have heaps to learn, but am making progress.  This is f10.

The second photo was tonight's dinner.  Tasmanian salmon, crunchy onion rings, some a bit too crunchy as I turned my back for a minute on them.  They tasted fine.  Asparagus cooked in the pan with the fish and some baby chat potatoes  with butter and fresh dill.  All covered with a hefty squeeze of fresh limes  which are  cheap at the moment.   I cooked the salmon skin side  down first in just a little oil. Then I turned it.   It was very good as the piece was uniformly thick down the length, making cooking easier.  Followed by rockmelon.

There was just one  downside.  I had intended to open a bottle of wine.  I was almost finished the meal when I realised it was still in the fridge.  Another time perhaps.  I very rarely have alcohol when I'm eating by myself, so just forgot.  I have plenty in the house but prefer to share than to open something with jut me to drink it.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

parcel from the USA

I like getting parcels.  This one wasn't a surprise, I treated myself.  However, although I paid extra  for tracking facilities along the way, I wasn't expecting this here.  Just a couple of hours ago I checked the progress of this parcel and according to USPS tracking it was still in USA.  I went out for a short while, something I would not have done if I had known it actually arrived in Australia three days ago. That fact shows on the tracking page only now.  I really don't like complaining, but I could have missed this and possibly not known about this for quite a while if I had relied on their information and updating.  Last time I missed  a delivery, the man put the card into the wrong box.  Three weeks later I learnt of it on the last day before it would have been returned.

Enough.  Isn't it gorgeous.  I love the name Cousteau.  It really does have the deep swirls of blues and greens which are often characteristic of deep under water.  Two skeins of Madeline Tosh Pashmina, sportweight, 329 metres each.  It's merino, silk, cashmere and feels lovely.  A shawl.  I've given away several in the last few weeks.  There are some lovely patterns around.  I hope this will be a spur to finish my Transatlantic shawl before I start this.

Friday, 3 February 2012

I gave up

I gave up and for what I think is the third time since I moved in ten months ago, I have put washing in the drier.  This rain here has just not stopped for the last 24 hours.  It's eased but never completely stopped and was very, very thick last night.  I had a big pile of underwear and really didn't want it draped around inside.  The air is very humid, understandably, and there's no breeze, so washing's all now in the drier.

I see by the Bureau of Meteorology website that rain was forecast for 24 of the 28 days this month. That's on top of the two months of it we've already had.  While I don't mind the cooler temperatures, it would be nice to have some sunshine.

More up north too, and big floods again in places like Gunnedah and Moree and the smaller towns in the area.  I have a friend whose mother in south eastern Queensland is preparing today to be flooded for the third time in three years.  Heartbreaking.

When Miss M, my granddaughter was here last week, she took the Striped Study Shawl, shown here off the model.  She loved it and begged me to make her one. After her bath or shower each night she wrapped it around herself over her pyjamas.  Weather was not what you'd normally class as shawl weather. I'm in a dilemma about doing this.  It's not hard, but there's a lot of knitting in it.  I just don't know and also need to balance things so I don't seem to be favouring one over the other.  The three in the other family get plenty of knitted things, but the shawl is obviously a big project.  I also don't want to make it to find she's completely moved on.

I'm trying to design an easy but pretty scarf or small shawl for someone whom I know on the net but whom I've never met.  She comes from down near 2paw Cindy and has just been diagnosed with a recurrence of the cancer she thought she'd beaten many years ago.  I want something small but cosy for their winter and quick to do so I can get it off to her.  I have settled on the design and started it last night in some sock wool with variegated colours.  After doing three repeats of the pattern, I can see that the multi-coloured yarn kills the design.  I'll have to do some stash diving for a plain colour.  I may be gone some time!

I hunted around on the internet for edgings and found one I liked.  I was planning on a shaped scarf with gradual increases but think I will make it straight with the knitted on edging on one edge.

As I said, it was wet yesterday.  I wandered around the place with my camera in hand.  I took about twenty photos for Project 365.  When I loaded them to my computer I wasn't satisfied  with any of them and deleted quite a few.

So I turned to comfort food.  I had no bread in the house and it was too wet  to even think about going downstairs to service station to get any.  So I made rolls and very tasty they are too.  I've frozen all but one in individual ziplock bags, so I'll have stuff for lunch for some days yet.  They are very substantial.  I'll use the larger rolls as mini-loaves and slice them.  I have to freeze a big loaf anyway as it goes mouldy before I can use it all up.

These are very filling and easy. I have used a mix of flours because of what I had in the pantry, but don't take the mix as prescriptive.

  • 10 gm dried yeast
  • 600 ml warm milk
  • about one tablespoon of softened butter
  • 20 gm salt
  • 500 gm atta wholemeal flour
  • 250 gm plain flour
  • 250gm plain spelt flour
I put it all in the Kitchenaid and mixed it for about ten minutes.  I needed just a bit more liquid.  The dough felt good, firm but springy.  Let it rise, covered, for about an hour.  Beat it down again, turn out and shape rolls. Let rise, covered again, for about twenty minutes and cook for about twenty minutes in a hot oven.  Mine runs hot now so that means 180° C fanforced for me.  It made one more than shown in the picture.

Atta flour came from Coles in a plastic container of one kilo.  It's a light wholemeal, used for making Indian flatbreads.  My brother used some in ordinary bread last week, so I've tried it now.

Today's lunch will be another one I've thawed with some smoked salmon and salad.

More cooking.  This time a pasta with blue cheese sauce.  This did me two main meals but could have stretched to three.
  • Roast some chopped pumpkin sprayed with oil till it's soft but not burnt around edges.
  • Cook pasta per directions on pack. I had macaroni but would have liked shells or bows or orriette. 
  • Put about 100 ml light thickened cream in a small saucepan and add about 50 gm decent blue cheese.  Heat very gently, stirring till cheese melts and is incorporated with cream.  Put everything together and serve sprinkled with some walnuts.  I bought them specially.  I love them but don't usually have them around.  I also added parsley as I had it in fridge.
  • Serve with some salad.