Thursday, 29 September 2016

On the needles: EVERYTHING!


And by that I mean both knitting needles AND the sewing machine AND possible hand sewing of a hem...

Currently I am knitting a little baby cardigan out of handspun wool, using a pattern from What to Knit When You're Expecting (I bought it while expecting Jimmy), but it's proving to be a bit of a challenge because the amount of yarn was unknown and the weight of the yarn varies not just with a ball but between the different balls (of the same colour). The amount of yarn that is relatively close in thickness was (and still is) unknown and I've had to redo the sleeves and am working my way to the collar but am not sure how it's all going to end. I may have to undo some of the yoke and use a slightly thicker ball of yarn to finish the cardigan off. And no, it's not for any baby #2, it's for a cousin and his wife who have recently become parents to a little girl.

Then there's a quilt for Jimmy. As the seasons change from winter to spring proper and the night are no longer cold enough for heavy doonas but still cool enough for a wool blanket or two and a light quilt, I have realised that Jimmy needs a such a quilt. It was always on the cards - before having him, we bought fabric that we intended to use in a quilt and that's just what I'm doing.

I'm using a combination of leftovers from clothes we've made for ourselves, quilting flats bought at various times, and fabric bought with Jimmy in mind. I've been cutting and sewing and cutting some more, and after sewing some more fabric together (not shown), I've decided I need a little more fabric before I can sew all the pieces together. And yes, I'm using my Mum's sewing machine - I cannot hand sew quickly enough to race the coming summer and nights when sheets are not really needed.

The hand sewing is sitting on the sidelines, waiting for me to have the time and energy to address it, because hems and mending merino wool tops requires more of both than I can manage right now, between applying for jobs and the cardigan and the quilt.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Yeah... I think you do have the wrong lense on your camera, Daddy.

From the mouth of babes? Except that he's taken something Daddy said and turned it around correctly. Michael captured the moment beautifully (wrong lense and all), as we made our way up to the magical place to show it to Pop and enjoy the sunset. Oh and Jimmy spotted an echidna while riding Pop's shoulders.

Friday, 23 September 2016

And now for something completely different: Frogs!

This is a scarlet-sided pobblebonk. A native Australian frog, which Michael found in our backyard when he was doing some digging. We've all been busy gardening in the front- and backyards, getting gardens ready for spring (which is truly here) and summer, and it's wonderful to be able to find these frogs around the house. The sounds of the pobblebonks is something from my childhood, when frogs around here start up their chorus after periods of rain. Based on the noise, there are a lot of frogs around here.

We've also been finding these burrowing frogs, which are most likely ornate burrowing frogs, which are also native to Australia. As children, my friends and I would find in the local sandpit when we would dig up the sand and make trenches deep enough to go almost over our heads if we were sitting down. Michael and I were playing in my childhood sandpit and we dug up this little one.

Jimmy was keen to hold it and very gentle but firm, once he got over the initial shock of it jumping away on a few occasions. We found another one this morning, buried in pile of sand at a friends place where he, Michael, and Pop are building a pizza oven (!!).

Once I had taken photos of this frog at the sandpit, Jimmy let it go and it started burying itself in the sand. I'm glad that the burrowing frogs are still in the old sandpit. And it will be safe in the sandpit, safe from predators and dehydration, but we will have to remember to be careful when digging up the garden - so we don't hurt members of either frog species.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Cheap thrills: Gingernuts...

I really like gingernut biscuits. Really like. Buying them off the shelf is probably cheaper than making them, but I think they last longer if homemade. Unless half the batch is eaten on the first day, which may have happened the first time my Dad (Pop) made a batch of gingernuts in July this year... I also really like baking and if I make them myself I can add some cardamom, which just so happens to be one of my favourite spices. So if I make a batch, it's a win-win.

155 g butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
1 cup plain white flour
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
2 heaped teaspoons ginger powder
1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (bicarb)
1 egg
1 teaspoon golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 160 ˚C and line baking trays with baking paper.

In a large bowl combine both flours, sugar, cardamom and ginger powders, and the sodium bicarbonate. Rub in the butter, working it in until the mix resembles fine crumbs.

Whisk the egg and golden syrup until well combined and add to the flour and butter mix. Work together using your hands to form a firm dough. Take tablespoonfuls of the dough, roll into balls and place them on the prepared baking trays about 5 cm apart.

Bake for 15 minutes or until light gold in colour (or a little longer, if you prefer a darker biscuit). Leave on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Monday, 19 September 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Helping to move the chickens.

We moved Pop's chicken's during the week and Jimmy helped as best he could. He has always loved being in the thick of whatever we're doing, and, if he can't be in the thick of it, he still wants to feel like he's helping out. He also had fun walking inside the chicken coop when it was on its side and we were removing the grass/wheat/sorghum roots and dirt from the base of the coop. The chicken coop was moved and the chickens were checking it out (to make sure that it was still their coop) and enjoying some chicken feed in their newly cleaned feeder, only to rush out again.

Also, his outfit reminds me of this one - he's still rocking prints-on-prints-on-prints.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

A historic location and a magical place...

Last weekend we headed to Glengallan for the seasonal markets (and some Geocaching) because it was Father's Day and we wanted to get out of Warwick.

We checked out the markets and the grounds. The building has been worked on since I last visited over 15 years ago, which lovely to see.

The sky was being very impressive and the weather pleasant. The market stalls were full of locally made things from soap to wooden toys, knitwear to artwork.

These two. Always these two. Jimmy tired of looking at stalls pretty quickly, but was really good and only started running around towards the end of our time walking and looking.

Jimmy makes me think of Christopher Robin - a little boy enjoying his own little world, boldly heading out into the wild. Jimmy was pretty attached to that stick that day AND determined not to have his photo taken.

We stopped for coffees at the Glengallan cafe. It's completely run by volunteers and the coffees were good. So was Jimmy's strawberry milkshake. Refueled, we set off to start Geocaching.

The sky was still amazing while we were out getting our first Geocache. And while we were logging the cache, a man drove up, asked about what we were doing - this is country Queensland - and after we told him, he told us about a spot that might be suitable: the site of a new Landcare project that he is involved with. So, we thought we'd check it out once we'd done all our Geocaching. Keep reading to see the photos.

Monday, 12 September 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: Wanna help Daddy.

Jimmy loves being involved in the things we do and especially in the kitchen. It started with the dishes and while that continues, Jimmy is interested in helping make food and taste all the ingredients. Yes. Even corn flour. Here, Jimmy is helping Daddy grind up some pork, prunes, and bread for pork pie.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Reading: Winnie-the Pooh...

When given the opportunity to purchase some books, thanks to a generous Grandma for the gift voucher and willing Granny & Pop for storing them until we returned to Australia, I bought Jimmy a copy of The Complete Winnie-the Pooh, which is two books in one: Winnie-the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. My parents have both these books, but the 1950-something editions are very well loved and I would hate to damage them, so a new edition it was.

And I have loved reading it to Jimmy! His first introduction to Winnie-the Pooh, Christopher Robin, and the others, was through an old Disney movie, which made the book approachable. He seemed to grasp the idea of chapters, although there was a lot of reading to him as he fell asleep, and was able to engage with the characters. I'm not sure if my parents read Winnie-the Pooh to me and my siblings, but the cartoon was a favourite of Asha's. It's a classic.

But do not read the last chapter of the House at Pooh Corner. DO NOT. At least, not until your child is 5 or 6 years old and understands concepts like Knights, and Kings, and Brazil. It confused Jimmy and he wanted me to stop reading the final pages, but I persisted. I had to. I was going to cry anyway, so why not finish it?

When I think of Winnie the Pooh, I think of the lovable, silly old bear, who makes up funny songs and is best friends with the timid Piglet. Pooh Bear has other friends, old and newer, and they all adore Christopher Robin. There is a naivety and simplicity and beauty to the story.

That is, until Christopher Robin starts growing up and stop "doing nothing" and all his companions, save Pooh, drift away into the Forest, after they deliver a heartbreaking note.

It's not about death, but it is because it's about an end, or the beginning of an end: the beginning of the end of a child's softness. I'm all for looking out into the world, but the gentleness of Winnie the Pooh is needed out there - perhaps that is why, of all Christopher's childhood companions, he takes the silly old bear.

After finishing the book, I cried. Jimmy didn't quite understand that why I was crying over Knights and Kings and Factors and "looking out into the world" or the Enchanted Place. But I couldn't help myself.

And while I was still recovering, I tucked my little boy in his not-so-little bed while my old bear. We disagree on the bear's name, but that's ok because that soft bear is now Jimmy's. Like Christopher Robin, I took my bear with me beyond early childhood, and as Christopher Robin promises Pooh, I will still remember my old bear when I'm 100, should I be lucky enough to reach that age. I hope Jimmy takes his "new" old bear with him as he makes the journey from the softness of early childhood and into the less soft early school years. And I hope that the softness of Winnie the Pooh, and all his friends, can continue to provide a little softness into the world.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2016

Jimmy: I have some bones...

It was Father's Day, we were out with Granny and found a magical spot less than 30 minutes from Warwick, Daddy found some bones and Jimmy thought they were very cool and brought one home - holding on to it while he slept in the car.