Smoke

That’s been the forecast for Melbourne the past few days. The worst of the fires seems to be over, but there are constant reminders, like the smoke haze, of the people and animals affected.  

And like this sunrise last Friday:

 

And Saturday’s sunset:

 

These appeared even redder in real life. And the moon was red too, but I couldn’t get a good picture of that.

OK, I’d like some rain now, thanks. Real, honest-to-goodness rain.

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Lucky

This is how my bay tree is looking after several days of over 40C temperatures in recent weeks. Apart from a few other struggling plants and some scorched tomatoes, we haven’t suffered at all from the extreme heat and awful bushfires that have raged and continue rage across Victoria, causing unimaginable suffering to others, not too far from us here in Melbourne, but too far for us to feel much more than helpless. It seems the best most of us can do for now is donate money here.

But there are other things we can do and many of those are listed here and here. Some friends and I spoke yesterday about all of us knitting some squares to join together to make blankets, so that some of the people who are now without homes and most or all of their possessions, will at least have something to wrap around themselves as the weather gets cooler. It’s the least we can do.

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Happy holidays

I don’t want this to be a blog about how or why I never post to my blog. So I won’t mention it, if you don’t. Moving on…

We got back from two weeks staying with my parents in Tasmania on Saturday. We had a lovely, relaxing and rather warm time. Some of the highlights:

Picking radishes with Granpda

Picking radishes with Grandpa

Observing the two frogs living (of their own accord) in Mum and Dads dining room

Observing the two frogs living (of their own accord) in Mum and Dad's dining room

Visiting the beautiful Tamar Valley

Visiting the beautiful Tamar Valley

Admiring all the bees and bumblebees working hard in the lavender

Admiring all the bees and bumblebees working hard in the lavender

Raiding the blueberry patch

Raiding the blueberry patch

Swims in the backyard pool, lovingly cleaned by Dad

Swims in the backyard pool, lovingly cleaned by Dad

Starting and finishing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle

Starting and finishing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle

Appreciating the magnificent sunflowers

Appreciating the magnificent sunflowers

Other highlights included a  second second birthday party for Isobel (more on the first later), visiting the monkeys at Launceston City Park, sewing (yes, actual sewing!), spending time with family (of course), games of Uno and 500 and lots of good food and drink. It was a bit of a shock to come back to reality, but I’m excited about this year and what it may bring.

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Back again

Bonfire

Oh, my poor neglected blog. But if it comes to a choice between neglecting my partner, my kids, my sanity, my home and my blog, I’m probably going to choose to neglect my blog every time. Poor blog.

I thought this one word meme (and my first ever meme) that I saw both here and here, might be a nice way to ease back into blogging….

1. Where is your cell phone? Bag
2. Your significant other? Close
3. Your hair? Neglected
4. Your daughter? Sleeping
5. Your son? Sleeping
6. Your favorite thing? Life
7. Your dream last night? Forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Wine
9. Your goal? Balance
10. The room you’re in? Living
11. Your church? Unnecessary
12. Your fear? Irrationality
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Home
14. Where were you last night? Gym(!)
15. What you’re not? Bored
16. Muffins? Yes
17. One of your wish list items? Overlocker
18. Where you grew up? Tasmania
19. The last thing you did? Curry
20. What are you wearing? Jeans
21. Your TV? Busy
22. Your pets? Worms
23. Your computer? Dirty
24. Your life? Lucky
25. Your mood? Relaxed
26. Missing someone? Parents
27. Your car? Small
28. Something you’re not wearing? Socks
29. Favorite store? IKEA
30. Your summer? Coming
31. Like(love) someone? ‘course!
32. Your favorite color? Green
33. Last time you laughed? Today
34. Last time you cried? Recently
35. Who will repost this? Unknown

I will be easing back into blogging. I’m just going to take it one post at a time.

The photo? The kids at a bonfire with fireworks at my parents’ place in Tasmania. Just one of the things we’ve been up to in the past few months. This may have been taken by Chris. If so, thanks, Chris!

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Home, sweet home

Home, sweet home

I recently bought this set of decorative fabric hoops from Aunty Cookie‘s Etsy shop. I cannot tell you how happy these hoops make me every time I look over at them. It’s rather embarrassing to admit, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve bought something for the house that is purely aesthetic and not at all utilitarian. Unless you count pot plants. Which are kind of utlitarian anyway, if you consider their contribution to improving the indoor air quality. Anyway, I love these fabric hoops and I love that they come from someone working not too far from me. I think this is the start of many more Etsy and aesthetic-driven purchases for the home.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re moving. This will be the tenth move of my life so far and my seventh since I first left home at 18. I know that some people move all the time and for many, this would be no big deal at all. But because I’m such a homebody, it’s a big deal to me. And I’m sure that because we rent and have to move so often, it’s why I never really make our house feel like a home. It’s like because it’s never really my home, I don’t really want to invest myself too much in the home. Also, renting makes it hard to make the changes you’d like to make and it gets hard ( at least I find it hard) to keep adjusting your setup every time you move. Who knows if/when we’ll ever own our own home, so maybe I’ll just have to get over it. Maybe I’ve started to. We’ll be moving in a couple of weeks (we found somewhere acceptable) and although it’ll be painful, I’m kind of looking forward to the fresh start, especially as we have done a lot of decluttering and intend to do more.

What I do know is that wherever my family is, is my home. Corny, but true.

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Since we last met

Good Friday

Lowlights:

  • having nausea and a headache (and other delightful symptoms that come with a gastro-type bug) for six days straight
  • trying to convince people that I was sick and not pregnant
  • not having the strength to make hot cross buns or cook a fish meal for Good Friday (not that we’re religious; it’s just a tradition we like to uphold)
  • entering the eighth week of having an unreliable oven and continually being told they’re “waiting on a part”
  • finding out the property our rented house is on is going up for auction next month
  • contemplating finding a new place to live and then moving (possibly my least favourite thing to do)
  • not getting any sewing done
  • eating too much Easter chocolate
  • not getting any blogging done

Highlights:

  • receiving a visit and some gifts from my parents on their way back to Tasmania after holidaying in Malaysia
  • eating fish and chips by the river with Chris and the kids on Good Friday (above)
  • watching the second series of Life on Mars with Chris
  • eating too much Easter chocolate
  • hearing Isobel say “mama” over and over again
  • learning my sister Emily, who’s been overseas for nearly a year will be back home for a couple of months soon
  • seeing the wonderful Wilco at The Palace on Wednesday night with my sister Anna

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Brown Owls

Brown Owls

So two weeks ago I attended my first Brown Owls meeting. I wish I had an exciting excuse why ifor why it’s taken me so long to report back, but it’s just the usual day-to-day stuff, as well as my feeling a little under the weather. I won’t mention the actual weather, I’m trying to ignore it.

Anyway, I very bravely joined Brown Owls, and as a Sixer, no less. It is something I was much more likely not to do than do, but I am so glad I did do it, as I had a great time. I spent most of the night chatting and laughing with lovely ladies, getting nowhere fast stitching my name to be appliqued onto my Brownie uniform, which hopefully will be somewhat more flattering than my first Brownie uniform! I have made absolutely no progress since then, but I plan to get onto it before my next meeting. I met lots of lovely new people, including Amy, who helped me learn a new stitch (stem stitch – thanks, Amy!), Cath, Justine and Nichola, who were at my table. Many of the people there have blogs, some of which I have been reading for some time and some I have now subscribed to and will now also read instead of attending to the various household chores that await me.

I’m looking forward to my next meeting, where hopefully I will finally learn to crochet!

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New ironing board cover

Ironing board cover

Replacing: a stained and fusible interfacing covered old one. Inspiration: this one. Fabric: Japanese quilting cotton from Spotlight, plus part of the old one. Wrinkles, shoddy sewing and poor photography: all me.

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Bag lady ramblings

Bag

Well, from conception to completion it took me what felt like a lifetime, of course, but I have finally finished making a handbag for myself. It’s the Pleated Beauty Handbag from Bend-the-Rules-Sewing and my first bag (other than a simple tote), my first attempt at free motion quilting and possibly the first thing I’ve made myself. So quite an achievement, really! Even though the bag (my bag, not the pattern) has its issues. I’m pretty sure free motion quilting is supposed to allow me free motion, not the machine, so I clearly need to work on that. And why is cutting fabric (correctly) so hard?! The linen I used is quite stretchy and prone to fraying, which didn’t help, but my god, I have so much trouble accurately cutting fabric. I think that takes me longer than any other stage of a project.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the bag. It’s soft, nice and roomy and a lot better to carry my essentials than what I had – nothing!

I’m a little slow to comment on this (gee, what a surprise), but I’m so pleased that the craft blog that led me to all other craft blogs, and is therefore largely responsible for this (far inferior) blog has returned after a year’s hiatus. Loobylu is back and judging by the warm reception her first post in over a year received, I’m not the only one who’s excited.

Oh, and on Sunday we will have been without an oven for three weeks. I don’t want to talk about it any more.

***

I am in the process of making some improvements to the blog, but given my limited computer expertise and my even less impressive design credentials, this is a slow and painful process (sorry, Chris), so if it ever looks like I’ve lost my mind, I probably haven’t, I’m most likely going a roundabout way to make things better.

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Cold comfort

Slice

Today we have been without an oven for two weeks. Correction: we’ve had an oven, just not a working one. This is quite unsettling for me, but I just keep reminding myself how lucky I am that it has happened now and not around anyone’s birthday or at Christmas, and that it’s summer. If it were winter or a kid’s birthday, I’m pretty sure I’d cry. I find baking and anything that cooks for a long time in the oven very comforting, and therefore by extension, I guess, I find having a working oven comforting. I was informed on Wednesday that the thermostat is broken. Unfortunately, because we rent, we’re at the mercy of the real estate agent, the owner and the repair person. So we can’t just get it done. We have to wait for all the relevant parties to talk to each other and hope that something happens soon.

So, we’re having to make alternative arrangements, like constantly reminding ourselves we can’t bake anything, using the barbecue to roast chicken, and wracking our brains for sweet treats that don’t involve an oven (that works). One of my favourite sweet treats to make even when our oven is working, is a no-bake fruit fudge slice (above). This is something Mum used to make quite a bit when we were kids. I’m not sure anyone loves it quite as much as me, but I think it’s safe to say it’s a family favourite. I copied the recipe into my little book when I left home to go to uni. I can’t remember the name of the book it came from but it was something published in the 70s or early 80s, I guess. And I suppose it’s an Australian book, given the reference to a lamington tin in the recipe. Here’s the original recipe (with my comments added):

Fruit fudge fingers(/slice)

125g margarine (I always use butter, though)

1 cup sultanas

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I use extract)

250g milk arrowroot biscuits, finely crushed

nuts (optional) – I usually used crushed peanuts, but walnuts are good too

Chocolate icing

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons water

90g chocolate pieces

Place margarine, sultanas and sugar into a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, add egg and vanilla essence, blending well. Add biscuit crumbs and mix thoroughly together. Press mixture into a greased lamington tin and ice with chocolate icing while still warm. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Cut into 2.5cm squares just before serving.

To make icing, combine in a saucepan, brown sugar, butter, water. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces, blend well. Beat with wooden spoon until mixture is of spreading consistency.

Makes 22 to 24 fingers.

As much as I love these, I hope our oven comes back to us soon. There’s bread, Danish, pizza and muffins to make.

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