Tuesday, 30 June 2009

going cheap


the hat, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Noooo, I'm not selling my kid.

That would be illegal silly.

But I have a very nice hat to give away. I knitted this one just a few days ago, but it came out a fraction too small for Wil. It would do very nicely on a new born or on a youngster up to about twelve months I'd guess.

It is made from a very nice blue and brown merino, silk and nylon sock yarn, Heather by the Shaefer Yarn Company. The hat is shaped so it covers the ears (when it fits properly) so it's very snuggly and stays on very well (even when it is too small). The pattern is Ear Cozies by Fiber Trends for those who are interested - see it over on Ravelry, or you can buy it here.

Do you have a wee one who could make good use of this in the cold weather?

All you gotta do is put a smile on my face by the end of July 4 aussie time and you're in contention. Leave a comment (with your email address!!) or if you're funny about leaving an email address on the blog then email me direct - soozs[dot]com[at]gmail[dot]com.

I've been doing a few give aways lately and you know I can't understand why people leave comments wanting to win but don't let me contact them. If I'm that scary that you don't want to comment or email me with your addy, then you can't go expecting free stuff from me.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

in the olden days

In the olden days when we didn't have kids and all the trappings, D and I regularly quit jobs and took off on adventures large and small. Our fledgling relationship was largely forged during a nine month tour of South East Asia and a very long trip home overland from Darwin.

Once we went to Central Australia and spent two months getting there slowly, and coming home even slower. I took a lap top and spent afternoons writing while the battery lasted and D pottered around making fire and reading the paper.

We visited ghost towns (who knew Australia even had such things?) and drove carefully up the Oodnadatta track. Got rained into clay pans and camped next to a bitchin' big meteor crater. Had a really spectacular dinner under a very big tree in Alice Springs, saw the biggest spider ever in the Macdonnell Ranges and made damper in a pot in the red dirt outside Leigh Creek. At night we slept on the lowered tail gate of the '67 Falcon wagon with our heads poking out getting all covered in dew.

Good times. One day I'll scan some photos of those trips.

And at various points along the way I collected little samples of earth: black sand, red dust, white ash, yellow clay. I don't really know why I did it, but I've long loved those little specimens. The memories they contain, the spectrum of the land I visited then.

So today I was rushing, and being careless and I tripped them in their lovely little wooden box off the shelf and onto the floor with a resounding smash. So now there are a few less. A minor tragedy for sure, but sad just the same.

I cleaned them up and I took the kids to the park because I couldn't bear thinking about it. So silly!

Luckily the park was delightful and sunny and it made me happy to be out there with my kids. In this life.

Wil's brand new ear cozy hat is too small and he fell a good five feet from the top of a climbing frame but still the sunshine was enough to make me glad to be alive again. He's had a rough trot the last few days with strep throat but at last the penicillin has kicked in and he's getting back his good humour.

Amy is busy undergoing psychological preparation for leaving her friends behind for Darwin. It's hard for such a social being as her to feel like the leap into the unknown is easy. Part of her plan has involved getting an email address, securing rights to my point and shoot camera and starting a blog. There are moments as a parent when you look at your child and suddenly realise they have grown a whole new dimension since you sized them up last, and the last few days have really been like that with me and her. She's such a terrific kid.
And my really lovely neighbours took us in tonight and fed and entertained us while I got started on a new hat for Wil and we came home late and tired. But happy.

almost like being there


almost like being there, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

noro monmouth cap


noro monmouth cap, originally uploaded by Soozs.

I finished this a few weeks ago but it's taken me a while to get pics. Made with scraps left over from the beret I knitted form my sister outlaw's birthday back in January plus an extra ball bought in the Morris and Sons opening sale. Oh how I love Silk Garden! The colour changes are quite something else. Self portraits are a bit harder with the new camera so I'm needing to explore some new methods of capture. A work in progress.

I've interrupted work on the Stonewall stole, which is about a third done, to knit a quick hat for Wil from the lovely yarn (the one on the right) I won in Ingrid's blog giveaway a while back. Even though we've only got a month or so left of the cold weather I have been recently reminded by Wil's childcare that winter woollies are essential for outdoor play. Hopefully it won't take more than a few days to whip it up.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

chicken dinner


chicken dinner, originally uploaded by Soozs.

So this is the green olive chicken recipe. It stupendously easy and goes down very well with both kidlets, even the 'mostly vegetarian' Amy.

The proper recipe came from Coles online and in their free give away magazine, but it is a very loose recipe in our house and regularly gets fiddled. Here's my version.

Take some chicken. I mostly use about 8 thigh fillets but it would be fine with any cut. Skin on would make the juice a bit fatty but the crisped up skin would be delightful.

Lay it out in an oven proof dish like a lasagna dish or similar.

Cover it in a mixture of chopped stuffed green olives (around 200gms), the finely grated zest of a lemon or two, the juice of two or more lemons, a spoonful of dijon mustard, a shake of sumac, a dash of olive oil, a good handful or two of chopped fresh oregano and parsley (would also be good with tarragon I should imagine). I slosh in some white wine too if it is on hand and I don't feel a compelling need to drink it.

Stir it about for a bit.

Bake it in the oven, about 180oC until it is cooked and the dish looks like it will be a bugger to clean. Turn it over during cooking so the top doesn't dry out too much.

Serve over cous cous with pan juices, a dollop of yoghurt and a side of tomato and cucumber salsa.

Just for you Ellen!

advance


critical path, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Yep, definitely another thing on the critical path.

How can I clean up the studio for an extended absence without doing at least a few of the little projects I had lined up?

Scraps of sock left over from monkey making, now an itty bitty finger puppet.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

run up

So suddenly, after many months of thinking and deliberating and so on, it feels like we're actually going.

Bye bye Melbourne alley ways.

There's a finite number of weeks and days and so very much to do. I'm finishing up work tasks and not taking on new ones.
Preparing handover notes and lists of things to tell the new inhabitants of our home. Mentally I'm sizing up the stuff that needs packing and what needs ditching and people I really want to spend some time with before we go.
I'm even thinking about projects I might sneak in with the luggage to keep me going (don't think I don't blame you for that one, oh mistress of the freestylin' quilt).

It's all very hectic on the inside.

But on the outside ordinary life has contracted not one bit. I snuck in a lovely day out with some friends and a spot of button shopping and sorting.
Such an important step in preparing for a major departure.

The delights of introducing my favourite fabric store to a friend even lured me to buy a piece of fabric for another loopy jersey scarf. And a little bit of softly silky metallic crinkle for new PJ pants. Obviously critical to travel plans.

In my defence I am still smarting from not one but two failed attempts at a summer hat for me. The one for Amy is perfectly fine, of course.

After three cancellations she finally got in a performance at school and was jumping for joy in her wild things mask. Wild things like pink apparently.

Oh and yes, D is off in Darwin, renovating an old and terrifyingly sad house to make it fit for an indigenous family to call home, and in his few off hours trying hard to find somewhere for us to call home too.

This is the taxiing down the runway bit, before things really speed up and we lift off.

So you know, strap in.

mmmmm buttons


buttonmania sale, originally uploaded by Soozs.

I had a lovely day poring over buttons at the buttonmania sale. Did you go too?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

the flavour of June

There have been treats over here. A birthday is my compensation for the fully fledged winter freeze that is June.

Amy and I dropped into the Sister's Market after swim class and had morning tea muffins and a quick shiatsu. Amy scored a present from Justine on the Mixtape stand and was pretty impressed with herself.

My very generous sister and mum made me a lovely afternoon tea, complete with child mandated cake with candles.

D and I headed out for a lovely meal without said kidlets, at the ever delightful Court House Hotel. You gotta love a bar meal that comes out of the same kitchen that serves the uber flash restaurant out back.

Amy and the kids from the 'hood put on a show after a neighbours pizza night. We're going to miss our neighbours a heck of a lot when we go up North. I can't imagine we'll come even close to such a convivial gang.

I got nice pressies too. D demonstrated his usual flair in choosing gifts for me and trotted off to Tessuti for some lux fabric - already made up into a simple paper crane jacket for elegant outdoor dining in Darwin. Lucky for me he has such excellent taste.

And I got a long lusted after extra special treat - a digital SLR. If you've noticed a certain improvement in the quality of my pics in the last week or two, now you know why. I sought advice from a range of mates and experts, but took particular notice of the advice from my photographic idol and paid special attention to the lens part of the purchase. For those keen to know I got a Canon 450D with a Sigma 50mm 1.4 lens and so far I am thrilled with the purchase. While the fixed length lens does have its down sides, I just love how well it shoots in low light and how crisp and alive the pictures are. My kids have never looked so angelic, nor our food so enticing. And really I can't ask for more.

Monday, 15 June 2009

winners!


the professor, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Dudes! I so didn't live up to the promise of doing this last week because...well...I forgot? Sorry about that.

So, copies of the flirty skirt pattern are off to kgirl and my black cardigan and surfer dude shorts are off to habitual and travellers yarn.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

while I'm at it

Another craft camp recipe, again without pictures.

These are deliciously rich and gooey fudge style brownies. I particularly like them with macadamias or walnuts, but only if they are fresh. But you can chuck in anything in the way of nuts or dried fruit or choc chips. The method is important - they are not made like a regular cake - and is the reason they have the chewy texture. It's also easier this way!

The quantities are enough for a slice pan, double for a lamington tin but only if you are having visitors otherwise you'll be good and sick.

Chocolate Brownies
Ingredients
200gm butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped nuts or other enhancement

Method
Over a very low heat melt butter and cocoa gently in saucepan. When well combined and smelling all chocolate like, stir in the sugar and vanilla and then take it off the heat.

Sift in flour and stir well and then add in the eggs and beat like all get out. Add any other bits and stir through.

Pour into lined slice tin and bake 20-25 minutes in 180 C oven.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

simply the best, oh yeah, better than all the rest

I'll say straight up I got this recipe from someone's blog a couple of years ago. I searched back through the archives of the four or five blogs I picked as the most likely source of the recipe to no avail. I simply cannot work out where I got it. If I am ripping off your blog post and this annoys you please let me know, I will remove it and link to yours! But quite frankly this one is too good not to share.

I don't have a photo of these scones, they are always eaten fast and with great gusto, I've yet to find a recipient who doesn't love them, including a friend of mine who has a very very serious aversion to dried fruit. I suspect the egg is the key.

Fig and date scones
Makes 10-12 scones

Ingredients
500g/1lb 2oz strong flour
85g/3oz sugar
30g/1oz baking powder
85g/3oz butter
2 eggs
225ml/8fl oz milk
55g/2oz dates
55g/2oz dried figs
(I use at least double the specified quantities of both fruits and chop them quite small)

Method
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl except the dates and figs, gently bring the mixture together until you have a soft dough-like texture.

Add the dates and figs and roll the dough out using a rolling pin to about 4cm/1 in deep.

Cut out scone shapes with a round cutter and place them on a baking sheet. Or be slack like me and just cut in squares.

Brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

powered by community

Often when I come home from craft camp I waste a lot of time trying to explain to people what it's all about. This time we had a couple of craft camp virgins and listening to just a few of their words is perhaps the best explanation.

I am always surprised. Surprised by how much I enjoy myself, by how much I get done, but how time out refreshes and renews, by the things I will turn my hand to when inspired by the skills and work of others. Thrilled by the collaboration, of watching and hearing about and learning from others, honoured to be able to share what I know and help others a step further on the crafting journey.

For me the time out of everyday life is super fertile, and with an extra day this weekend and a commensurate lessening of the manic drive to get stuff done fast I found myself making fewer mistakes and working at a more relaxed and more productive pace.

I ticked all the boxes on my to do list and stash busted projects that have been lying around for months and months. A few right nows and a bunch for hotter days, some kids stuff, some fun. A stack of old favourites and reliables as well as some more experimental and adventurous projects.

To say I am inordinately pleased with myself would be a massive understatement. I feel very very happy. Thrilled and bursting with pride.

Would you like me to show you?*
Up top is my new lap top bag. The exterior is super lush wool in the most brilliant shade of red from Tessuti's (wouldn't I love a coat out of this? If I wasn't going to Darwin...), the interior a lovely cotton Ellen sent me from Japan nearly three years ago (just proving that every fine fabric has its day...). The black handles and closure tab is felted black wool from a jumper I knitted for myself about 20 years ago that was a dismal failure. It it awaiting a lovely big button. Underneath is Amy's new travelling art pack made with gorgeous Kristen Doran dandelions and ladybugs and two pieces of Japanese linen from Ellen and Corrie.

Clothes for kids - up top are new elastic waist jeans/shorts in super cute Japanese linen for Wil and a pair of lovely croc PJ shorties for sweaty nights. The spotty linen made great knee length shorts for Amy and I added the pocket detail to girly them up for her.

Accessories. The top two are pics of Amy's first pincushion. I was a test sewer for Nicole's new pattern and kit for the Apple pincushion. I am afraid to say I certainly didn't earn my keep on that assignment - I couldn't find a single useful thing to say to her because the pattern is freakin PERFECT! I did what she said, which was all really easy and astonishingly quick, and the finished product looked exactly the same as hers right down to the last detail. I thoroughly recommend it, it would especially make a great gift for a beginner crafter since all the steps were so straightforward and because the finished apple is really superb. Middle row are the hair ties I made for Amy's fundraising stall (and there is another one already absorbed by the house somewhere) and a second cashmere sock monkey so the kids can play with twins. The bottom row is a super fast and easy red jersey scarf inspired by Nikki's one and a lovely new wheat pack using scraps of the organic denim and Croc fabric.

And last but most certainly not least is the clothes I made for me.
The top row are front and rear views of my new jeans, made with organic denim from Tessuti's. I am exceptionally pleased with these. Aside from some minor slackness in the back of the waistband, the fit is great and they weren't even mind bending to make. I took the pattern from Ottobre (link is to the aussie site crafty mamas where I subscribe but they have their own website here), and once again felt really glad I subscribe to that mag. Having a store of patterns at your finger tips during a sewing frenzy is invaluable. It is a testament to the reliability of their patterns that I cut up my organic denim and did all that work without testing the pattern first - something I would never do with any other brand of commercial pattern. Over the jeans I am wearing a grey T-shirt (bought) and a cream and grey striped wool/viscose/cotton jersey knit in a 3/4 length sleeve also made on the weekend.

The pants in the second row are the same pattern, and while you can't see because the mosaic maker cut off the legs, they are capri length. The first are made from black woven cotton with a two way stretch - a really lovely and hitherto unseen by me fabric - and the second are a grey marle linen/cotton/spandex. These are from an Ottobre pattern called jazz pants, and in the mag they are made up as sweat pants, in heavy knitted jersey. Although they are pull on pants, they rely on a jeans like cut and the stretch of the fabric to keep them up rather than having an elasticated waist. The pattern had a wide straight fold over waist band, which I modified to be curved and shaped to sit flatter on me. They are insanely comfortable and look much better than you would expect. I love love love them. On the left I am wearing a tunic vest made from the scraps of the black cotton pants, and although you can't see the detail too well, the front has a pin tuck detail instead of front darts that works really well, perhaps if you head over to Flickr you'll be bale to see better. I made this pattern up and I am very very pleased with it. It is fitted and flattering and still extremely comfortable - I'd love a few more so I could wear one every day. On the right is a short sleeve T-shirt made from a really funky little pebble print I bought last summer.

The third row has me in the same tunic with a really light summer skirt made from lovely Tessuti's embroidered cotton. This worked out much better than I expected - I was concerned the pattern would be too directional to sit well in the a-line, but it is fine. It has an almost shimmer which is quite magnetic in real life. On the right I am wearing a very light sundress (not designed to be worn with the pants but it was just too bloody cold for that level of nakedness today), also made from a geometric embroidered cotton. This will be my Darwin house dress for slobbing around, of which I expect there will be much.

The fourth row is the third pair of pants made with the jazz pants pattern, this time full length and in a wonderful bengaline. The colour defies description - not quite grey or brown or taupe or olive, but something of them all. On the left is an olive/grey mesh top for jazzing up plain long sleeve Ts, or singlets in hot weather and on the right is a short sleeve shirt made from the chocolate version of the linen/cotton/spandex I used for the grey capris. It's a bit cheeky including this int he tally for the weekend, since the shirt was almost finished before I came, but I did get the last bit done, so I'm including it!

The bottom row is just a few more combinations of the above.

So just in case you missed it the final clothing tally was 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of capri pants, 1 pair full length pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 long sleeve T-shirt, 1 short sleeve T-shirt, 1 overtop, 1 tunic, 1 shirt, 1 wheat pack, 1 scarf, 1 monkey, 3 hair ties, 1 pincushion, 3 pairs kids pants, 1 art folder, 1 laptop bag. I also made a hat for Ellen, but I didn't get a photo of it.

And I still managed to get good sleep (a big thing for me), eat plenty and talk way more than my share.

Now I have spend all my unpacking time on photos and blog posts I had better run. there are children to be collected and dinner to be made and a newly weaned toddler to be cuddled. Speaking of which anyone got tips for preventing mastitis after weaning?

Added - On the weaning thing. Amy self weaned very gradually. I've had mastitis twice with Wil, both times treated with anti-biotics, both times as a result of reduced sucking when he's had a cold. We dropped the night feed a week or so ago and replaced it with a special new bed time routine. All good and not too much protest. Since I was away for three mornings at craft camp I figured I'd roll with it and stop the feeding. He's been OK about that so far, but I am not a good expresser (from the boob that is - mouth I do fine), compounded by it seems having lent my pump to someone ages ago. No idea who. And while I don't yet have mastitis I am sure I will given the paltry amount I can hand express. So prevention of the inevitable would be very cool.

* the mosaic maker has cropped these photos and some good details have been lost. For a better view of anything, head over to my photos on Flickr and check out the full sizes of all the pics.

Friday, 5 June 2009

winners

I am in a mad rush - packing for craft camp and keeping a restless 2 year old happy. So I'm announcing not winners today as promised, but I'll be on it early next week. For sure.

Now it's off to cram all the fabric and gear one can possibly need for 3 days of sewing and hilarity. Which is rather a lot.

Have a great birthday queenie, thanks for the time out :-)

Monday, 1 June 2009

surfer dude shorts and pants


Surfer Dude Shorts, originally uploaded by Soozs.

Since I'm on such a pattern roll, I thought I'd make this pants/shorts pattern available too.Originally published in March last year in Yarn Magazine, it's now available over on Ravelry too. Non Rav members can email me directly too if they'd like a copy for $5.

As with my other patterns I'm going to celebrate with yet another give away, so you've got a week to leave a comment and email address to go in the draw.