Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogtober Days 17-18 - Teenage Dreams

I had a major crush on Nick Heyward. His current website is nicely whimsical and worth a look -

I still know all the words to this.

I remember every week throughout my high school years, I would buy Number One magazine. It was from England and I was a bit of an Anglophile in those days, especially with regards to matters pop. And every fortnight, I bought Smash Hits. I loved the British pop bands of the day and their floppy-haired lead singers. Last week ABC, who were faves of mine back then, were playing at a local venue, along with the lead singer of Spandau Ballet. Did I really want to go see them? They'd be reliving the past, and so would I. Hmmm. Best stick with You Tube and memories of teenage dreams on this one.

Who were your teen crushes?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogtober Days 16-17 - Unexpected

I have been busy trying to finish off a piece of writing this week so it's been a bit rush, rush, rush. I had a letter to post yesterday and so flashed quickly into an op-shop ("I don't really have time for this, but...") as I was walking back to the car from the post office. I was delighted to find a number of balls of Icelandic wool (Alafoss Lopi - have you ever used it?). It's so lovely and unprocessed looking (and feeling). At first I wondered if Alafoss was Icelandic for alpaca but it seems to just be the brand name!

Also some gorgeous little crocheted doilies, just right for framing in embroidery hoops...

And this great crocheted wall hanging. So cute! Love a flying and unexpectedly fruitful thrifting stop!

I am in no way religious in the conventional sense and I don't subscribe to any of the organised religions. Yet I have found unexpected enjoyment in listening to some gospel music this week, especially as sung by the American singer Allison Krauss. I love the purity and simplicity of sound. You might recognise this song from the Daylesford ad if you are local or from the movie O Brother Where Art Thou. So peaceful. Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogtober Days 15-16 - Pymanalia

Writing a post every day is harder than I imagined!

I found some lovely books on a flying visit to the local library yesterday. Scandinavian Needlecraft by Clare Youngs, which has all sorts of beautiful embroidery projects in it and lots of use of felt, which apparently has been used in Scandinavia as far back as old Norse times. Hopefully I will manage to make something from it, though sometimes I must admit I just like books like this for the pictures! Also, Keepsakes by Frances Hansen. Lots of great old-fashioned recipes but with suitably up-to-date twists to take them out of the stodge zone - curried sausages and boiled fruit loaf are looking good already. Great vintagey style to the book too.

And...I think I may be onto something in my quest to find a writer similar to Barbara Pym. Anita Brookner (that's her in the Nation Portrait Gallery photo above). I saw Hotel du Lac when it was made into a telemovie many years ago (with the Pymmish heroine par excellence Anna Massey) and I read Brookner's Latecomers a couple of months ago. Yesterday I borrowed The Rules of Engagement and it's started out very promisingly indeed. Any other Pym- or Brookner- ites out there who'd care to comment?

Speaking of Barbara Pym, if you are a Pymite (Pymster, Pymmie, Pymian?), have a look at The Barbara Pym Society's webpage - there are lots of really interesting essays there from their annual conferences.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogtober Days 14-15 - A Breath of Fresh Air

Sorry to miss Friday's Blogtober post, but I knew that there was a photo opportunity coming up on Sunday! We went to help my parents out at Blackwood. They have a small holiday cottage up there and every year before the summer hits, a property clean-up is in need. Our family has long had a connection with the town - my grandfather was born there in 1905. It was a goldfields town in the nineteenth century and very different to what it is now, back then it even had its own skating rink! Now, it is a very peaceful place with lots of lovely walking tracks surrounding it. I took the time to snap a bit of the pretty native foilage yesterday - the gumnuts above, for example.

As well as taking a walk to the local cemetery where there are lots of beautifully ornate Victorian gravestones and memorials.

This is called broome, I think. So pretty - I brought a bunch home.

A lovely ivy grove which has developed quite spontaneously under a huge gum tree. I am quite sure the fairies live here. I was always told not to knock over toadstools (of which there are many at Blackwood in winter) when I was child because fairies lived under them.

Another native...not sure of the name (sorry!). This plant lived on our balcony when we were still renting and died a sad death - my mother has resurrected it.

Such a nice day! Hope you had one too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogtober Day 13 - Fiddling About

I like to make jewellery and I am trying to add some new strings to my skill bow so I can make a few new bits and pieces for my Etsy shop, In Dark Woods. So it is that I am trying to work with wire at the moment. What I've discovered this afternoon is that I really need some round-nosed pliers if I am going to be able to make nice, neat spirals. I have had some fun in the meantime, though, 'free-forming' with the wire, binding it around and around some pieces of sea-glass to just see how they turn out. I quite like them and I think the irregular wire work suits the ragged pieces of glass. What do you think?

And a perfect accompaniment to this sort of fiddling is The Sundays on You Tube. What do you listen to while you work?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogtober Day 12 - Stitch

I was delighted to find this hand-worked tablecloth in an op-shop today. It's covered in these lovely, folky panels. Pretty, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogtober Day 11 - Thrifting Love

This beautiful Berggren breadboard at The Travelling Owl ~

I love folk art and lately have developed a taste for the Scandinavian Berggren style. As ever, Etsy is a dangerous place for me to be...

A lovely grater at My Parents Attick ~
Check out this pretty breadboard at Suzincolo ~

I love this keyholder at Scavenger Hunt ~

Happily though, I found some sweetly pretty Russian pieces to add to my collection while thrifting today.

Happy Days!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogtober Day 10 - Hassle Free

My parents celebrated 42 years of marriage on Saturday so we had dinner with them and I provided some sweet goodness. I know some very sloppy icing skills are on display here but sometimes I just can't resist letting the icing go 'sploosh!' and being the very antithesis of 'cake decorated' cakes with their undoubtedly very skilled but rather artificial little roses and so on. The recipe I went with was really lovely and moist and it was -

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Mix together 1 cup sugar and butter.
Add eggs and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; mix well.
Add salt, flour, and baking powder to mixture.
Add milk.
Bake at 170°C in a well greased loaf pan for 1 hour, or until golden brown.


Yesterday my sweet husband and I went to one of our favoured bushwalking spots - favoured because there are also some very nice lunch options and a great second-hand bookstore not too far away!

I enjoyed watching the bug life going about its business...

And was really struck by the muted greens, yellows, browns and greys of the Australian bush that seem to be about at the moment.

At the bookstore I found The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book by Sharon Rosenberg and Joan Wiener. It was printed in 1971 so the front cover is suitably hippie and there is a definite sprinkling of 'I really dig that'-style comments throughout but I am super keen to start sewing some simple clothes for myself and this book seems to set everything out really simply and clearly. We'll see if it lives up to its claim of being hassle free! Has anyone else read and/or sewed with this book?

What did you while away your hours with this weekend?

PS I couldn't resist posting this very brief clip from the wonderful British comedy Miranda as she notes ways in which she is turning into her mother - one of which is by commenting on a cake's moistness (this is prompted by my own comments above).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogtober Day 9 - To see the ivy

We are having some gorgeous weather here at the moment. Lovely and warm with blue skies, the garden abuzz with insects and everything growing like mad. Despite the fact that I'm facing two deadlines (or perhaps because), this cheerful weather is putting me in a rather frivolous state of mind, in which I would much rather be sitting in the back garden reading Little Dorrit or continuing on knitting my first ever attempt at a cardigan than staring at the computer. For some reason, all this put me in mind of the 1981 series Brideshead Revisited, especially the first few episodes (it all gets fairly messy and bleak by the end). There's not only the lovely way the series is shot to gaze upon, the way in which the characters are played to relish (I love Sebastian almost as much as I love Aloysious) and of course Evelyn Waugh's brilliantly wrought plot but there's that wonderful soundtrack by Geoffrey Burgon which wends its way so perfectly through the series, making the entire package of vision and sound in these initial eps seem like one's witnessing some sort of dream. Ah, gorgeousness!

By the way, when do you do most of your reading and knitting? I am trying to do mine in the evenings but I find I am making no progress at all because I doze off, despite the fact that I am very interested in doing both!

And finally, has anyone ever knitted a fair isle jumper? I am in love with them at the moment but they look very difficult to make but are quite expensive to buy complete on Etsy. I suspect as a baby knitter they might be a bit beyond me at present, but I'd love to know about your experiences.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blogtober Day 7-8 - Johnny Cash and Chocolate Cake

Oops! Only seven days into Blogtober and I missed a day. Work got a little bit crazy yesterday and then I remembered that I had volunteered to make the cake for my mother's birthday dinner last night...!! I went with this one - - which was delicious and a big hit.

I loved the movie "Walk the Line" about the American singer Johnny Cash. I've been a fan of Joaquin Phoenix since I saw him in "Gladiator" and, having seen the film, I also became a big fan of Cash's music. It seems to me that his songs (and the covers he chose to sing) remarkably spanned the spectrum from tremendous toe-tapping optimism to real melancholic despair. Here's two great examples of both ends of that span.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogtober Day 6 - Gently does it

I have a number of doilies - inherited from my grandma and found on my thrifting travels - and I was delighted with how this gentle, fragile little one worked out when I framed it in an embroidery hoop.

The book cover image is from the Tower Books website and the one below it is from Lark.

I was very happy to find Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Knitting in the library this morning. I have followed Jane's blog Yarnstorm ( for some years and I was quick to acquire The Gentle Art of Domesticity when it came out. And look! A number of very nice projects seem to be using garter stitch...hooray!

Image from

And with Paul McCartney in the news this week - I have never been a great fan of the Beatles but I do love this song, "Across the Universe" - so gentle, so whimsical.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blogtober Day Six - Weekend Happenings

On the weekend, I finally managed to get something done with a lovely little set of vintage swap-cards depicting different types of fruit that I bought at a flea market in Copenhagen. There are also cards of vegetables and nuts in the deck, but I like the fruit ones the best. I had had them just on their own on the kitchen wall, but then thought that framing them would be better.

Discovery! I started knitting with two balls of yarn last night, following a suggestion from the magazine I mentioned last week. You know I am but a baby knitter - I'm sure all you knitters out there have been doing this for ages! But I enjoyed trying out something new.

And so it begins...the first recipe tried from the Australian Women's Weekly Sweet Old-Time Favourites - Caramel Cornflake Chews. They are very like Anzac Biscuits but without the oats. I was going to post the recipe but I got scared after reading the copyright section of the cookbook! These are super yummy, though. Hot out of the oven - gooey in the centre. Oh yes.

How was your weekend?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blogtober Day 5 - At Home

The fairies are definitely about at the moment. I know this because they have planted a little ring of daisies in our garden!

I have decided to make use of my grandmother's cutlery set. She only used it when my parents and I came for Sunday lunch and every Sunday, after lunch, I was placed in charge of polishing each piece and returning it to the homemade calico pouches they lived in. We certainly won't use it every day but it now has its own drawer in the kitchen as opposed to being bundled up in a bag as it was when I just wasn't quite sure whether I should use it or not. Brings a nice little touch to things, I think, and reminds me of those lovely Sunday lunches. Do you have anything special like that?
I can feel a bake-a-thon coming on...there are so many goodies in the Women's Weekly cookbook that I mentioned yesterday...cinnamon teacake, swiss roll, caramel cornflake chews, melting moments, chester squares... I'll let you know what I chose to make on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blogtober Day Four - Good Things

The beautiful Pigface plant that I have in a pot out the front is just looking so lovely at the moment.

I had a very fruitful visit to the local op-shop this morning. Two gorgeous vintage tablecloths ~

And a lovely idea for something different to do with garter stitch. I am still very much a novice knitter, so garter stitch is really what I feel most comfortable with at the moment. It can, however, sometimes get a little...dull! So I rather like the idea of this little blanket-stitched heart. It is described as "Shaker-style" too which also got me in - I will never be minimalist enough (or even close) to follow the Shaker style but I love it.

I often have rather a dodgy tum, and strangely enough sweet treats appeal to me during said dodginess (don't worry, I know too much sugar is not such a great idea). So, The Australian Women's Weekly Sweet Old-Time Favourites jumped right out at me at the library this morning.

Ah, Swiss Roll! My grandma made one every single week. This delicious looking example is from

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blogtober Day 3 - Patchwork Pieces

I bought three beautiful pieces of hand-stitched vintage patchwork from Etsy (Vintage Gatherings ~ recently but since then, I haven't been able to decide what to do with them.

Initially, I thought I would frame them, but despite considerable scouring in the op-shops, I couldn't find frames that were a) big enough or b) nice enough.

At the moment, I am thinking of stitching them onto a rather dull polar fleece blanket which is, nonetheless, a lovely shade of blue.

What do you think? All suggestions most welcome.

I discovered this lovely singer, Emma Louise, on my cyber ramblings this morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blogtober Day 2 - Like a ripened piece of fruit

I got a few little jobs done in the garden on the weekend, which I was really pleased about. As I may have mentioned before, my grandmother kept our garden in beautiful, abundant condition (we live in what was my grandparents' house) and I often feel I could do rather a lot more with the garden than I am currently doing. What I am thinking about especially at the moment is a dedicated herb garden (rather than the odd plant in a pot here and there). I have found a lovely book - Practical Herb Garden by Jessica Houdret - but I am wondering how much success I will have here in Australia finding some of the very Eurocentric flowers and herbs. Does anyone know of a nursery who specialises in English and European cottage plants? I know that I can replace many of them with Australasian options, but some Northern Hemisphere plants would be nice too.

What is this plant? Do you know? I haven't a clue - but I like it!

You know that I am an absolute sucker for a period drama and I am still kicking myself that I didn't pay closer attention to Downton Abbey when it was on TV. You Tubing it just now, I couldn't resist the Sylvanian Families version of it (by the way, this clip may look cute but is not for littlies)...

But on a more serious, sweeping, dramatic note (pun intended), here is the actual Downton Abbey's lovely theme -

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blogtober Day 1...Apple Goodness

So, here we are, day 1 (for me) of Blogtober...can I blog every day for a month? We'll see... Why don't you join in? Details are here -


On the weekend, amongst other things, I made this rather unusual item. Touted as a 'honey nut cake' it kind of ended up a little different...

1 cup dried apple (chopped)
2 cups hazlenuts (chopped)
1.5 cups of honey
4 eggs

Combine. Spread out into a circle on a large tray. Bake at 175 degrees celsius for fifteen minutes.

It didn't quite work for me so we are currently eating it as a very tasty topping for yoghurt. I can also imagine it in a pie or as crumble topping. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!