31 August 2005

blessed

painting

I am truly blessed when it comes to friends.

If you read Squished Piggy's post today you will read a little about her recent and much anticipated journey to motherhood. Several years ago when I was beginning my own journey, my dear and talented pal across the ocean painted this beautiful picture for me. The flowers surrounding the mother and babe are lilies, symbol of my name.

It is a most treasured gift, and it wasn't until today that I realised it is part of a series painted by my clever and generous friend.

Thank you Sueeeus.

30 August 2005

self portrait tuesday

Selfportraitjuly2

Taken last month, but for all intents and purposes I look pretty much the same.

Son No.2's favourite saying: in tents and porpoises

29 August 2005

Harry's Picture

Leesa'sPatch1

Son No. 3's class at school are preparing the teacher's end of year/Christmas gift. Already! We are a highly organised bunch of mothers, clearly.

The craft teacher, whose twins are in that class, held a dyeing session with the children, telling them (and the teacher) that they were going to make a rainbow. Then each parent was given one square of the dyed fabric to decorate. Our square was greeny-blue, as above. The instructions were to decorate it with something meaningful pertaining to the year or your child or both. The only restrictions were it had to be secret from the teacher and the children (as six year olds are rotten at keeping secrets from their teacher), and it had to include the child's name somewhere on the square. Then all the squares are to be sewn together into a quilt that the teacher will, presumably, treasure for ever. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

I hummed and hawed, the patriarch looked blank as he does when craft problems are presented, and then I had the rather brilliant idea of getting the child himself to do a drawing. He did the bog-standard child's drawing of house and sun. But he did it beautifully! I duly traced them onto the fabric, added the smoke and butterfly, and embroidered them. I added the odd bead to make it sparkle a bit. I was up until midnight but I handed it in on the morning of the deadline.

I am particularly pleased with the smoke.

Geees, I want a new camera. This is crap.

more vintage goodness

yellowapron

Another vintage apron find.

I love it that someone would put rick-rack and ribbon on something as functional as an apron. I have been wearing this one constantly. More vintage aprons here.

28 August 2005

Blogging as an opportunity to show off

The bossy one (and a couple of others I now notice) demanded photos of recent endeavours. So, with no further ado ...

Son No. 2's pants. (No. 3's are identical. These blue ones don't yet have the waist elastic)

BluePants

Son No. 1's pants, complete with waist elastic ...

BrownPants

... and a label so it looks "like bought clothes"

label

Best Friend and I, who share a name, used to have a small clothing business. We used to sell our stuff at a stall at Camberwell Market, and at several small boutiques in Chapel St, Fitzroy and the city. We have lots of labels to use up so every time I make something for the children I sew a label in. Only a thousand or so to go ...

Curtain in younger boys' bedroom. Doesn't photograph well, does it?

curtain

Sourdough dough

sourdoughdough

Sourdough in oven. There's me in the reflection. Hi!!!

sourdoughoven

Sourdough bread!

For dinner tonight with minestrone soup, currently simmering away on the stove.

sourdough!


Postscript
For Sueeeus, who queried the term 'op shop'. An op shop is an abbreviation for 'opportunity shop'. The Australian way to say 'thrift shop' or 'charity shop'. I like the note of optimism it implies.

27 August 2005

Just popping in briefly

I have been absent of late, I know.

I have a desk that is only large enough for a computer OR a sewing machine. And given that I use the computer for study, work and of course the most important of all, blogging, the sewing machine doesn't usually get a look in. But we are gearing up to sell our house, which means I must sew curtains. Two lots of curtains. One dark blue and the other blue and white toile. So the computer was pushed to the very back of the desk and the old Singer plonked on top.

Ever the procrastinator, I searched for OTHER things to sew. I found three pairs of pants already cut out from two old chenille bedspreads, one brown one duck egg blue, so sewed them up and presented a pair each to the children who were suitably impressed. I even managed to get the fringe from the bedspread on the bottoms of the blue pants which thrilled Sons No. 2 and 3. (No. 1 is a little too old for that sort of thing and prefers a plain hem).

Then I sewed a cushion cover out of a blanket off-cut (are you sensing a thrifty theme here?) in pink and white checks. Broke four sewing machine needles on the heavy duty wool fabric, but got there eventually. Then I sewed a dog cushion for the hound. He too was suitably impressed. Meanwhile the patriarch was wondering when the curtains were going to appear. But no, I had a batch of muffins to bake and another attempt at sourdough bread to, um, attempt.

Finally, finally, I made a start on the dark blue curtains. I haven't finished them mind you, but I have made a start. And so I feel justified in hauling the computer to the fore again to catch up on this blogging life. (Ooh, title for future blog! In which I will be far wittier and more creative! "This Blogging Life". ) (Oh it's probably taken anyway).

Note to self: buy bigger desk.

23 August 2005

self portrait tuesday

eye

Wrinkles and all.

My eyes are a pleasant blue and a nice shape, but they don't work terribly well. I am, as they say, as blind as a bat. I have been ever since I can remember. When I started school at age 5 I had to sit at a special table practically underneath the blackboard. Thankfully another child sat there too, a little boy who was even tinier than I was and blinder than I was, with a gorgeous shock of bright blonde hair and an impish grin. He is now a doctor apparently. I am not.

At age 7 I got my first pair of glasses. My eyes continued to deteriorate steadily, to the point where I needed a new prescription every six months. I lived in terror of going completely blind. But my vision plateaued in my mid twenties just as my opthamologist promised they would, and now that I am officially middle aged and starting to suffer the 'over 40' long-sighted effect, they actually 'improved' by half a point recently!

I have an on-off relationship with contact lenses, and cannot bring myself to go under the (laser)knife to get my vision surgically corrected.

When I purchase a new pair of glasses the opticians still take a step or two backward in shock when I present my prescription.

(Mr Soup has perfect vision. This week the three little croutons get their eyes checked. I await the results anxiously).

Update: all three have perfect vision. Hooray!

19 August 2005

op shop delights

Amazing what a little retail therapy can do for one's mood. I took one bag of donated goods into my favourite op shop and as usual, came out with two bags.

kategreenaway

Beautiful book for Son No. 3

basket

Lovely old basket, the proportions of which please me enormously

plate

Two of these old fashioned floral dinner plates. They are more yellow than the picture shows. And nary a chip or scratch in sight.

redapronagainredapron

Red vintage apron. Also got a dark blue and green one that did not photograph well. So, not pictured.

Also got a brown woollen dress, short sleeved, looks good over wheat coloured linen pants. And two green linen shirts to give to a friend as they're too big for me. Happy happy happy.

16 August 2005

pots and pans

scanpan2

A set of copper saucepans winged its way Chez Soup this week. I am ridiculously excited about this.

scanpan1

They look so pretty hanging from my potrack. Much nicer than hidden away in a drawer.

Tonight I christened the biggest one ... I made pea soup! Yep, really. It was delicious with carrot and cheese muffins.

scanpanrobot

Son No. 2 is not particularly interested in the qualities of copper and stainless steel cookware. He finds the box far more pleasing.

14 August 2005

Frustrations, and a triumph or two

Frustration the First: (little Lemony Snicket reference there ...) No. 1 Son had been given a skein of handspun hand-dyed wool which was so chunky and uneven he couldn't knit with it, so I offered to knit a hat for him, with the wool. Found a pattern on knittydotcom via soule mama. Frustration number one - pattern says 'chunky wool' (no ply stated).
Frustration - pattern requires circular needles, (no size stated). I also had never knitted on circular needles in my life.
Frustration - pattern is for a newborn. No. 1 is eleven years old. Hence, head slightly bigger than newborn size.

No worries thinks I, I am an intelligent woman, I can wing it. Purchase needle(s?), begin confidently, making it up as I go along. "This many stitches should be right for 11-year-old head, using this unplied wool and undetermined sized needle(s)", etc etc. Ignore small voices in my head.

Wrong. Undid hat five times. Purchased bigger sized circular needle(s). Still wrong, but seriously fed up now so carried on regardless. Ran out of wool. Had to return to infrequently held exotic craft market. Found stall. Crafty looking woman wearing many handknitted clothes all at once says cheerfully "I just sold the last skein of that particular dyelot. Sorry 'bout that!" I purchase a purple dyed skein and realise this is becoming a very expensive hat. Continue doggedly knitting the now two-tone hat.

The hat is finished. It would fit an elephant.

Plan to one day undo it and try again. But don't have the strength just now.

Triumph the First: Finished a little hat for Best Friend's No. 4 wee babe. With knitted flowers! I finally mastered the knitted flowers! And no circular needle(s) in sight. Blessedly pleased with result.

Frustration the Second: Have tried unsuccessfully twice to make sourdough bread. The first time I obediently followed the recipe which insisted I use 2 tablespoons of yeast. Result - explosion of dough all over my kitchen and inside of my breadmaker. Took 30 minutes and much cursing (in front of the children, shit shit shit) to clean breadmachine. Rang up company to query/bitch and a nineteen year old blonde (how do I know? I don't. She just sounded 19 years old and blonde and yes that's an awful stereotype and no I'm not apologising) said cheerfully "Oh, that was a printing error. Sorry 'bout that!" The second time (and it took a good two months to work up the courage to attempt it again) I was in a hurry and instead of leaving my starter "in a warm draft-free location overnight" I put it in a low oven for a couple of hours. Result - it cooked and hardened. Third attempt (another two months later), success (!), although it took 30 minutes and much cursing (in front of the children, shit shit shit) to get it out of the blooming breadtin. Next time I will let the machine do the dough thing and I will handshape it and put it on a flat tray in the oven. Myself.

Triumph the Second: once it was out of the breadmachine it tasted sensational, especially dipped in Best Friend's Mother's brand new olive oil from her first commercial pressing.

Frustration the Third: I don't think that much yeast is good for women.

What a longwinded, mind-numbingly boring post. But I needed to get it off my chest and that, dear internet, is what you are for, said she cheerfully. Sorry 'bout that!






Note to self: shut up now



Postscript
No. 3 son who is six years old: Mummy can I knit with circular needles?
Me, weary after many frustrations: No, you're six. Stick to straight needles. When you're 41 you can learn to knit on circular needles.

No. 3 is now knitting himself a hat, on circular needles. And having a darn sight more success than his mother.

Nina'sHat2

13 August 2005

blogging as an opportunity for a whinge

26 things I dislike, in no particular order

1. getting out of bed on winter mornings
2. wearing glasses
3. rudeness
4. politicians
5. vacuuming
6. cockroaches
7. sewing up knitted projects
8. hypocrisy
9. poverty
10. being cold
11. lice
12. (my own) procrastination
13. processed foodstuffs
14. illness
15. hospitals
16. split ends
17. most television programmes
18. academic jargon
19. snakes
20. vodka
21. miscarriage
22. codling moth
23. errant apostrophes
24. the word 'healthful'
25. rap
26. dial-up internet plans with not enough hours per month for blogging

9 August 2005

Wildlife

I live in the inner city. Yet the wildlife around here never ceases to amaze me.

Birds.
We have a resident mudlark who arrives at the bedroom window every morning and proceeds to attack the glass with his beak. (If you happen to be elsewhere at the time and don't realise it's the bird, it sounds like someone is breaking in). We haven't worked out whether he thinks his reflection is another bird encroaching on his territory and he's attacking, or if he reckons it's a potential partner and he's trying to get to her and regale her with his best chat up lines. Maybe he's just thinking ohmigod it's cold out here and that room looks cosy.

More (brightly coloured) birds.
Our street has a central median strip along which gum trees are planted. Big beautiful gum trees that drop branches on our cars in gale force winds. At the other end of the street from our place is a park with children's playground etc, and lots more gum trees. As inner-city Melbourne is over-represented in European trees compared with other Australian cities (lots of oaks, elms, planes etc), our street is a haven for native birds. (This is a good thing on the whole, I hasten to add). We have the biggest, noisiest flock of lorikeets and ... they have taken up residence in the tree directly outside our house. They squawk and squabble all day long, to the point where if I'm on the phone and I venture outside, the person on the other end can't hear me. The lorikeets also like to swoop, en masse, squawking at the tops of their voices all the while, on their way up to the park, at approximately one foot above head-level.

Have I mentioned the bats?

Bats.
The Botanic Gardens used to be the main residence for Melbourne's fruitbat/flying fox population. That is until they increased in such numbers that they began to severely decimate the trees. Beyond rejuvenation. So the gardeners began a campaign, which went on for a couple of years, to relocate these thousands of bats. They tried taking them to other locations but the bats kept returning. Then they began making lots of noise (the staff, this is) during the day when the bats were sleeping, in the hope that said creatures would find a quieter, more amenable place to live. So one would go to the Botanic Gardens with a picnic rug for a leisurely lunch/nap/read and find bands of staff roaming about bashing saucepans and metal dustbin lids, blowing horns and whistles. (I realise this sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Other Melbourne bloggers may like to back me up here ...)

Anyway eventually the bats were rehoused and they now live in several smaller, less damaging, colonies evenly dispersed around Melbourne. Yep. One of those colonies appears to be in the tree directly outside our house. The same tree as the lorikeets. So now, every evening when the bats wake up and begin to groom, fly about and do whatever it is bats do when night falls, they indulge in a huge screaming match with the lorikeets who are at this time, returning to 'their' tree to retire for the evening. The shenanigans go on for about an hour, EVERY NIGHT. My children moan and put their heads under their pillows, complaining they can't get to sleep.

... and possums.
The other night a possum, looking for a new place to make a nest, thought, hmmmm, that tree directly outside the Soup residence looks a mighty fine place for a nest.

Gentle readers, I cannot begin to describe to you the racket that ensued.

I think it's time to move to the country for some peace and quiet.

self portrait tuesday

Another product placement shot. The cheque must be in the mail by now, surely?

bathroommirror2

5 August 2005

Photo Friday - sombre

Sombre

Because she is off to have her annual vaccinations this morning

megcloseup

4 August 2005

... brrrrrr ...

Today's forecast: 10 degrees Celsius, hail, gale force winds, rain.

wintry frosty blustery nippy chilly glacial arctic

calligraphywinter

haven retreat homely cosy cloister den snug congenial comfy hibernate

2 August 2005

self portrait tuesday

bathmirror&buddha

self portrait tuesday with new glasses and buddha incense in upstairs bathroom

1 August 2005

small but perfectly formed

Have I mentioned the obsessive nature of Son No. 1? Recently he went through an origami obsession. Our house is now filled with paper flowers (some of which he stuck on chopsticks and arranged in a vase) and all sorts of animals. We have a Japanese crane mobile hanging from the kitchen pot rack.

And then it somehow went from the sublime to the ridiculous and he made this.

miniorigami

I left the matchbox in the shot so you can see just how tiny this crane is. It defies imagination.

The matches, incidentally, remind me of a funny anecdote. Here in Australia there is a well-known entrepreneur, adventurer and philanthropist called Dick Smith. He is part of a big campaign to buy things made and owned in Australia. So ... the supermarket shelves here are filled with things like Dick Smith Canola Oil, and Dick Smith Tasty Cheese. And because redhead matches are not made by an Australian-owned company, he has launched a line of matches. Called Dickheads.

modbirddish

I noticed in the first shot that the dish that sits on my sink and holds scourer, sponge and plug, has a 'modbird-like' design on it so thought I'd offer a closer look. I have 3 dishes made by this particular artist - every time we go to Sydney (3 times, in 18 years of togetherness) we visit the famous Paddington Markets and buy a blue chicken dish. (They do fish too, but the chook design is more aesthetically pleasing).