Thursday, 25 October 2012

a week in review

So what is the difference between taking a frisky puppy for a walk and taking a seven year old to the zoo?  Not much in terms of distance covered by either.  Last Sunday I left early to meet most of the family for my birthday outing to the zoo.  This had been postponed four times since late August for one reason or another.  DIL persisted and most of the family made it last Sunday.  We would have called it quits if this had fallen through.  Christmas is rapidly approaching and the family gathering is December 9th.  Early, but the only date we could all agree on.

Little boys are like puppies.  Here, there, back again and then down to the next exhibit.  Then do it again. I didn't get a lot of decent photos as the day was very cloudy with a lot of smoke haze.  There were three controlled burns on the Northern Peninsula and one which  was uncontrolled.  At 9:00 am, the smoke swirled over the harbour and all was grey.

Eldest son and wife were there, myself and his younger brother and wife and their two children and the friend of Miss twelve.  It was quite hot but not as bad as the day before.  The zoo has many shady trees and there was a breeze off the harbour.

We had lunch near the elephants and this is Master 7 climbing on one of the Thai elephant models.  His uncle is bending taking the photo and his dad is in the background with white sunnies.  Note the care taken of his back.  He is bending knees not leaning over.  We all brought our lunches and drinks.  Zoo food is prohibitively expensive.  However we did splurge on Calippos and Paddlepops.

We saw lots of exhibits, the Komodo dragon, lots of snakes, the big cats.  The Sumatran tigers were very beautiful but were asleep on rocks after lunch.  Some of us went to the snake workshop, my grandson among them.  He was the boy who last year talked about nine legged spiders with the extra to hold up the head of large spider.  They watched the seals play games.  We saw the condor on a pole and very much more.  Miss Twelve and her friend tried to look suitably bored all day but really enjoyed themselves.  Miss Twelve had a meltdown once. She feels grown up but is still a child and she had wandered off and no one had any idea where she was.

I remembered the  elephant rides I had enjoyed as a child.  I don't remember the seats being quite like this arrangement but I suppose there must have been something similar.

As I said, we arrived there early.  I left home just after 8:00 am.  I arrived home a few minutes before 6:00 pm.  I was exhausted and glad in a  way that the earlier dates had been cancelled.  I realised my hips would not have coped at all a few weeks before.  As it was, I was very stiff on Monday.  For those not from Sydney, the zoo is built on the side of a  very steep hill overlooking the harbour.  Many of the paths now zigzag but there are still steep spots and lots of walking.  Leaving the zoo and walking down to the ferry was quite steep.

I'll pass over the next couple of days where I had a nasty tummy bug.  I did manage  to complete the first Hickory sock in this very uninspiring shade of grey.  There should be another pattern repeat down the instep, but I knew I couldn't finish one more repeat before the toe and the tummy bug cut my concentration very drastically.  I'll do the second sock and offer them to my eldest grandson as bed socks.  His uniform socks are now a different colour and I know he loves warm socks on a cold night.  Quite the opposite to me.  On the occasions when I try bedsocks, I find they are kicked off and I don't even remember kicking them off.  Even if the weather is really icy, I don't use them at all.

The pattern is a travelling rib and would have looked very much better in the original deep purple I had chosen for it.  That was the yarn which was really hopelessly entangled and which I threw out.  I had not wound even a quarter of the skein and that had taken many hours.

Just before dinner tonight I wound this Fibranatura 100% washable merino.  370 yards.  These shades were similar to the yarn I pitched out.  I bought this at the Granny Square, the offshoot from Morris and Sons, once Tapestry Craft.  Their little shop is on the site of the Former Champion Textiles shop in King Street , Newtown.

Here are some of the colours.  I'll be interested to see how they knit up.  I had two skeins of this, bought several years ago.  The first pooled dreadfully and I was unhappy with it.

Off to bed I think.  The bug has gone but I'm still tired from it and today I had another trip to the audiologist in town this morning.  Congestion behind one ear drum is still there.  Really, I doubt much can be done, but he's a very pleasant person, trying to help, so I will take his letter back to my GP and see what he has to suggest.

Friday, 19 October 2012

... guilty m'lud

Guilty?  Yes, guilty to throwing out some lovely sock yarn.  The lovely yarn I had started to untangle last week resisted all efforts to produce anything usable.  I spent somewhere between 8-10 hours over the week, concentrating on untangling a horrible mess. I think I ended up cross eyed more than once as I traced the path of the tangle.  After all that time. all I had to show for it was a ball, perhaps 5 cm in diameter and a still enormous tangle which seemed to never decrease..  Yesterday I threw it out.  I could take no more.

I pulled the box of sock wool from under my bed and picked out the first solid colour yarn on the top.  Quite  a contrast, not Patonyle but similar.  I have used this in the past and it's hard to knit but but comes up well with a wash and is long wearing.  It's school grey.  I think I had planned on making eldest grandson some school socks, but he changed schools and colours.

I started the Hickory sock in the book Cindy gave me.  I see she's also done that but it was what I had planned when I thought the tangle would be wound quickly.  I started it last night and am now part way down the gusset decreases.  It's a quick knit, although I too made the leg shorter.

About the only thing I've found to criticise in that book are the charts.  Some are quite large and they are fairly cramped on the page.  DIL commented that I would need to use son's photocopier and enlarge them on that.  Yesterday I took a photo of the instep and leg charts for Hickory.  Downloaded them into Evernote and  from Evernote on my computer it was pushed automatically to iPad and iPhone which both have the same program.  Away we go with the iPad.  A few moves of the fingers and the chart is now readable.  Brilliant.

The picture shows two charts, or parts thereof.  There's quite a lot of detail in them and they really need to be bigger to be used easily.  This was the sock just after lunch today.  I've now turned the heel, even did a heel flap and am decreasing for the gusset on the foot.  I decided to follow the pattern, so did the heel flap.  I thinks it's the first time in several years that I've done one.

I found this magazine in Coles today.  I rarely look at the magazines as I find that something to flick through while I have coffee can easily run away with money.  However, I had heard of it from British knitters on the ravelry group concerned with  Kerrie Allmann's broken promises and non-delivery of goods.  And much more.  Her latest venture is apparently run by a family member.  Too bad he died many years ago.

Mollie Makes isn't cheap.  An overseas subscription copy costs about AUD $12, even with a large discount factored in.  It 's fairly thick and looks attractive with a lot of clear photographs.  However, while it has lots of ideas which seem up to date, like fabric flower decorations, there is not a lot of substance to it.  Quite a few fabric crafts are covered.  Several pages are devoted to a camera strap made from triangular patchwork.  The strap is shown attached to a fairly heavy camera.  It's too wide and would fold in  two and be uncomfortable.  It's backed with light canvas but there is no interfacing in it for strength.  It also needs a sliding quilted, padded piece for comfort on the shoulder or neck of the wearer.  DSLR cameras are heavy.  My Nikon is heavy even with a smaller lens in place.  The big  18-270 mm lens makes it very heavy.  I use a solid Sunsniper strap which is very comfortable and secure, much better than the original strap.  It has steel running up the inside of the strap so it can't easily be cut.  It attaches with a carabiner clip which sits camera on my hip, a comfortable place for it.  If I want to use it the camera slides up the strap for action.  Nowhere near as attractive as the patchwork triangles, but many times more practical.

There's a pretty crocheted garland draped around a baby's cot.  There is a warning about no leaving baby unattended while garland is in place, but why put it there in the first place?

Current good nutrition advice suggests eating as many different coloured foods every day as possible.  That doesn't mean differently iced donuts. These are some of the different colours found in my fruit and vegetable delivery on Tuesday.  There were more green pieces which would not fit easily in the photo.

As a child I did not like either watermelon or rock melon.  Now I eat both.  The watermelon did not last long as I find it's better eaten fairly quickly.  I didn't want it going slimy, even kept in the fridge.

Friday, 12 October 2012

leek and pancetta tray bread

Leek and pancetta tray bread, great for picnics, lunches etc and good served either hot or cold with salad.

I'm going to Mittagong tomorrow and made this to take for lunch.  The recipe is easy, it just takes some  time for the dough to rise.

It's been a while since I made it and I'd forgotten how nice  it is, so I've given you the recipe too.  Don't be put off by using yeast, it's really easy.  I've also given some alternatives at the end of the recipe.  These alternatives were usually a case of not having the original ingredient to start with.

You can use a bread machine for the dough and you could substitute a pizza dough recipe, although I like this one.  You could mix it all up in a mixer, I use the Kitchenaid, or you can mix yeast and liquid in traditional manner and make as recipe suggests.  They all work.

Leek and pancetta tray bread.


  • 90 ml water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 25 gm soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast.
I put all this in the Kitchenaid and mix well  for 5-10 minutes adjusting water.  This is an English recipe and our flours are drier than English flour.

When mixed, cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise about 40 minutes.


  1. 1 large or 2-3 smaller leeks finely chopped
  2. 30 ml olive oil.  This tastes better than sunflower or similar
  3. 75 gm pancetta, finely chopped *
  4. 140 ml sour cream **
  5. 70 ml milk
  6. 2 eggs
  7. torn basil leaves
  8. ground pepper

Heat oil and cook leeks and pancetta gently till leek is soft.  Set mix aside to cool

When dough is risen, roll out on floured surface and place on tray lined with baking paper.  I roll mine thinly and it covers large tray.

Place cooled leek mixture on top spreading over dough.

In a bowl combine eggs, milk and sour cream.  Beat with fork till combined. Pour gently over the leek mixture tilting tray to cover.  This makes a thin custard mix, not something like a frittata..

Bale in preheated oven 190 c degrees.  I used 160 as my oven is fan forced and runs hot.  About 30-35 minutes.

*  I have used ham, bacon, pancetta or coppa.  Personally I think all are good but I prefer pancetta.

**I use sour cream, buttermilk, yoghurt or even milk at a pinch.  All work. This travels well sliced and packed in a flat container and is good the next day too.

The deep orange bits are tiny bits of pumpkin I cooked with the leeks.  I wanted to use it up.   There is also a very light dusting of freshly grated reggiano cheese on the top.  Very thin.

What weird weather.  34 ° C last Friday and no more than 9° C here today.  Heavy snow, blocked roads etc and this is well into October.

I went shopping yesterday for the pancetta.  As I walked I realised I wasn't limping for the first time since the beginning of August.  A few twinges here and there, but no limping.  I am very thankful.

No knitting news here yet but I'm trying.  After the shocking pink detailed below, I was determined to use stash in a colour I really like.  I dug out some deep purple, a gorgeous colour, deep royal purple.  Imperial purple perhaps.  I opened the skein and before I could even stretch it out to wind, half of it collapsed in  what I have seen called yarn barf.  The second half looks fine but the beginning is one large tangle.  I've been working on it on and off for two days now. I still love the colour, but it's so rich that when peering deep into the tangle to see the next path for the yarn my eyes tire very quickly. Twenty minutes at a time is about my limit.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


I joined eBay some years ago.  I have not bought much from it but have usually been pleased.  I've won a few auctions and just missed out on some others, even using last minute bids etc.  I've bought quite  a bit of yarn, especially Patonyle sock yarn.

The second hand Steelcase office chair has been a good buy.  As I sat on the old chair, I could follow distinct pathways where it was uncomfortable.  This is great, although I am still tweaking some of the adjustments.  No pain and great back support.

 About three months ago, perhaps four, I was browsing  when I saw  new copy of the NZ Edmonds centenary Celebration cookbook.  I have several old cook books so decided i would buy this.  I paid for it and was a bit careless in checking the default delivery address.  It went to PO box for my son and DIL.  Of course, I thought it had gone astray and after about three weeks let the seller know.  To my surprise, a refund was in my account the next day with no problems.  DIL finally remembered to tell me a book had arrived for me, so I contacted the seller and paid him a second time.  He was surprised I didn't just take the book without notifying him.

She came over this afternoon to help me collect a heavy parcel from the post office.  She brought the book and told me I really didn't need more cookbooks.  She is, of course, right.  I opened it up and the book was obviously new, no marks or stains or indications of turning pages  etc.  However, you can see what I found when I opened the first page.  I've erased both sets of names!  DIL thought I should return it, but it's weeks since it arrived and does it really matter?  I daresay the sentiments in the greeting on the page have not been fulfilled.

Sorry about the photo.  Cover is hard cover, very shiny and the light was poor.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

the little engine that could

The little engine puffed up the hill, its boiler almost bursting with the effort.  "I think I can, I think I can," it repeated to itself as it made its way up the slope.  Suddenly it reached the top and saw the down hill run in front of it.

"I knew I could, I knew I could,"  it sang over and over happily.

That's somewhat I feel like about these socks.  I bought the yarn around this time last year and I think the socks were started possibly January or February as back up knitting for in between bigger projects.

I grew to dislike them immensely.  I hated the colour and did not realise it would be so bright.  I like purples but I've never been much in favour of pink.  I hid them in the back of the cupboard with knitting stuff and they would fall out occasionally when I took something out.  I sat them where I could see them.  That meant I just ignored the pink presence.

The last few nights I've actually taken them out and looked at them.  Occasionally I've done a few rows.  Then last night I convinced myself to get a move on.  I promised myself that I would not start something else till these were finished.  There really was not a lot to do before toe decreases started.  So last night as I watched the architect George Clarke on the restoration of two ancient towers in Britain, I worked on the socks.

This morning I had a delivery of meat from the Butcherman due between 9-12.  I did the decreases,grafted the toe and voilĂ , I was finished.  Look, they are even identical twins.  I really don't care particularly if stripes don't match.  These do.

 I think these will go into the present box, I don't think I could bear to wear them.  It's a bit rainy today so possibly tomorrow I'll give them a quick rinse and put them to dry.

I knew I could, I knew I could.  Just like the little engine. I just had to do it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

the cruel hard world

Look at my lovely surprise which arrived about an hour ago from the Book Depository.  It was sent to my by Cindy 2 paw and it could not have come at a better time.

I think I mentioned stress here.  I won't mention what it is just in case someone should find this, although I really doubt it.  A situation here has arisen which has caused me very much stress and distress too.  My family laughed at the ridiculous, ludicrous statements till they saw the effect on me.

This hardcover book reminds me of the River Cottage bread book I bought some months ago.  The author obviously knows her onions, as the saying goes, or perhaps I should say socks.  Like the bread book, there is a large section at the front which could basically be termed  theory, covering many aspects of yarn, tension, fit etc.  The bread book has 70 pages of theory to start with, and although I've made bread since I was about 10, I learnt a lot from it.  A glance through the early pages of Clara Parkes' book suggests  that I will learn much here too.

Here's a quote about handknit socks which I loved. 
socks are intended to protect our tender feet from the cold, sharp edges of the world.
Spot on!  That's just what I feel when I put on my handknit socks. They feel comfortable and cared for. In fact, my feet are now uncomfortable in commercial socks.   There is a lengthy section on the purpose of well fitting socks and how the sock will last longer if fitted correctly.  That would be an incentive for anyone who puts hours and hours into knitting a sock.

So thank you Cindy.  I'm going to get a lot from this book, and when I've finished the theory, there are lots of lovely patterns to try.

My body has been tired from  stress, grandchildren and now the switch to daylight saving.  I love daylight saving, but find it takes a while for my body to adjust to the extra hour of daylight, or perhaps to the loss of an hour's sleep at the changeover time.  I remarked to a friend that if mothers were the government, then this change would not have been last weekend.  School resumes today.  Pupils and staff have to settle in to a new term and also to the change in times.  Not very sensible to have them at the same time.

How dirty can an eight year old get?  These feet walked heel to toe around the perimeter of the roof garden here.  It was actually a good thing.  Miss Eight is very clever, but rather flighty.  She counted the steps it took and had to pay attention.  When we came back down to my front door, I allowed her to step into the tiled entranceway.  I ran some soapy water in the bath, just a bit.  She managed to step from hallway, around corner and onto bathroom tiles without putting her feet on my carpet.

One thing the photo shows is that she did not inherit my very flat feet.  She has my reaction to sticking plaster and bandaids or similar, a nasty rash with icky looking blisters, but the feet definitely are not flat.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

still life by spring

I am pleased to have made it this far.  Granddaughters have been with me since the weekend and my hip has had trouble keeping up with them.  Lovely girls, though Miss Just Eight is a handful.  Life exists for her benefit alone, although this is not an encouraged point of view at her home.  She's a bubblehead and it finally dawned on me that although this may be an unconscious decision by her, it is a way of coping.  She's the youngest.  She's quite intelligent, but being an airhead means she pays little attention if it's hard.  No, she doesn't do homework, said with a giggle and a shrug.  She lost her homework book, so she just doesn't do it.  No one expects her to do much as she's so airy fairy so she gets away with it.  She's changing  schools next year and I suspect this change may be a rude awakening for her.

They go home today.  DIL called this morning and has taken them swimming for which they weren't prepared.  They have a strappy top each and some shorts and it's hot.  They'll be fine.  She'll treat them to lunch, call back here and collect stuff and take them home.  That is very welcome as son is having trouble fitting in things today as plane flights back from Brisbane keep changing.

I had an artfully posed photo of food from fruit and vege delivery.  However, I can't find it in downloads and can't be bothered searching.  This is a bell apple from  far north Queensland.  I had one in the delivery but could have bought more at 500 gm/$8.  Expensive and I don't think I'll bother, but they are quite small and have little in the way of a  core.  It was very juicy but with an extremely crisp texture.  I cut it into quarters.  Miss 8 didn't like it, she's fairly conservative but Miss 10 and I enjoyed our pieces.  She likes different foods and we have to be careful as she is definitely the coeliac.  Gluten slips in all over the place in much food and she knows how ill it makes her.  Hospital and all before her diagnosis.

Just look at this! we had a quiet day here yesterday.  Nails are painted in assorted rainbow colours, lunch was a picnic on roof garden here and I showed them how to knit.  It was all too much fuss for Miss 8 but her sister loved it.  She watched me, I helped her do a row and she was off.  Took it out to the balcony by herself and has now done about 15 cm of a scarf  for a soft toy.  She was so confident that by late afternoon she lay on  the lounge with knitting on her chest. She knitted as she watched TV and did just fine.  Her mum can knit so will be able to help her.

Another one  joins the ranks!