Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bohemian Chic

I'm hardly a slavish follower of fashion (oh, so much far from it) but I really wish I had a definite STYLE. I wish I was elegant and/or chic. I'm old enough now to have defined the sort of looks I like; quirky, hand-crafted touches, comfortable and a little bit retro...


Check out Kim Hargreaves new book of knitting patterns. She describes as;
"...an eclectic blend of chic sophistication and bohemian charm."



Hmmm, this is exactly what I'd like to be; chic, sophisticated, bohemian and charming...sadly I mostly come out like a mad woman's custard that got dragged through the wardrobe, eaten for a dog's breakfast and spat out.
ps. There is also Anthropologie's new catalogue ... I think I need to go through my wardrobe and get the lumps of custard and dog spit out!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things to do with $6.00

My recent posts have been a tad depressing...sorry.

Today we went on a shopping expedition and this could very well have turned out to be another depressing post. Ive been putting off going as we had to go to a large shopping centre. I hate going there; the peculiar people, the constant noise, the junk screaming at your eyes to buy buy BUY! It all gives me the willys...But we had to get something for school (which we didn't end up being able to find...typical!).

Fortunately the trip wasn't a total waste as we found two plain T-Shirts for Astrid for $2.80 each! I couldn't make them for that price. But I did gussy them a bit, those deer are everywhere. Now I'm feeling a bit more cheerful!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We're all moving to Antarctica

When I was young I remember lying awake in bed worrying about the world ending in a nuclear war. The Cold War permeated my psyche and the constant threat of global annihilation seemed so real and close.

Now my beautiful, deep thinking little boy is petrified that the world will end due to climate change (it is a slower end than the burning flesh and disintegrated buildings that gave me nightmares but he cries and trembles at the thought of global warming nonetheless).

This makes me so sad...

He's constantly bombarded with messages on how he has to save water and energy, reduce waste and recycle. He's repeatedly told of the dire consequences of inaction. He hears his Dad and I complaining about the lack of rain and cursing the news telling us that our politicians are dragging their feet on a carbon tax and targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

He internalises all of this, he's only seven years old, he must feel so utterly helpless.

We have made a pact to stay upbeat for him (no more shaking our fists at the news or the weather reports). He's very enthusiastic about the positive steps that we are taking as a family and is happy to be involved in the planning and implementation. We're getting things set up for grey-water recycling (Linus is drafting the architecture for this), putting in rainwater (if it ever rains again) tanks and are planning to get off grid for our power (solar and wind power). We walk and cycle just about everywhere as we choose to live in a place that is close to work, school and  all other amenities. We also buy local as much as possible, and we have already put in a whumping great vegetable patch and 7 new fruit trees.

And, being an optimistic seven year old he has decided that he will plan for our future. He is currently obsessed with his plans to settle Antarctica. The map below is just the tip of the iceberg ('scuse the pun)!

Linus's map of Antarctica - note the bridge from Perth at the lower right.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Take me to your leader?

OK, I've calmed down a bit. So I'm ready to make some comments on the election (or lack of election) for anyone interested at all (be prepared, this will be long and boring).

Here's what happened in a nutshell. We had 12 years of the most hateful, mean, conservative government (Liberal/Coalition) that was finally tossed out in 2007. Just as the new government (Labor) took office the GFC went down and the world threw a collywobble. The government spent up big on urgently put together stimulus packages aimed at keeping the economy bobbing along and it worked, Australia did better than any other Western economy. But the problem is that since no-one lost their job or had to go without a new plasma TV, the public didn't believe that we had narrowly missed a recession. So the Liberal party (a definite misnomer) managed to convince people that the government had squandered heaps of money  and bungled the administration of these hastily put together schemes. The other thing that happened is that since Labour had a majority it attempted to put through some very bold and noble reforms; tax reform to try to stop big, multi-national mining companies taking all their multi billion dollar profits offshore and a tax on carbon emissions (ETS). There were other issues concerning factional infighting in the Labor party and the Liberal party showing their puppet masters (big business and Rupert Murdoch) and appealing to a very ugly side of Australian psyche (the racist nationalist thug).

So we went to the polls...and...
We still do not have a leader and the two major parties look like having 72-73 seats each in the House of Representatives. 

Stalemate! Otherwise known as a Hung Parliament. And there's me blowing raspberries at the other 50%...

So now it's all down to 3 ex-National Party  (think, farmers) independents that hold the balance of power and are being wooed by the major parties to form a minority government. The 4th non-major representative is from the Greens (hooray) and has already pledged allegiance to the Labor Party. Fortunately two of the three seem like reasonable men (both believe in action on climate change, one is an Amnesty International member and a White Ribbon Ambassador for the prevention of violence against women!). They both want what's best for Australia as a whole with a focus on country region issues and that's fair enough.
One is, however, an out and out fruitcake! Bob Katter is a climate sceptic who has espoused some horrible misogynist, racist and anti-gay views in the past. He (Katter) seems to think that they will be acting as a bloc and will all go together on whoever they decide will form government, but on paper, I must say they sound like chalk and cheese.

I am bemused by all the comments that suggest the "electorate" are voting for a change in the way parliament is conducted (even if as a result of this 50-50 split a change to processes will happen). As though the "electorate" is a sentient and rational being that has voted accordingly! A lot of the anti-Labor vote in Queensland seems to be out of a "state or origin" mentality that was miffed at the treatment of one of their own, Kevin Rudd. I think we are far too invested in sport and the resulting cross-state rivalries in this country and it flows into our political thinking, grow up people!

Some really good things have happened though; the huge Green vote means that a lot of people want action on climate change and presumably more compassionate treatment of asylum seekers and; Wilson ("Ironbar" need I say more) Tuckey and Stephen Fielding (both even bigger and more frightening fruitcakes than the one mentioned above) have lost their seats! And some icing on the cake is that Tony Cook who won the seat off Tuckey will not join the Liberal/Coalition (as they assumed) making him another independent and taking another seat off the Liberal party.

A most atrocious thing for me is that the informal ("donkey") vote is up to around 6%. Shame on you.
OK enough now, I'm off my soapbox (I've probably put you to sleep). As long as the conservatives and Tony Abbott don't get in, I'll be happy enough and we'll no doubt be heading back to the polls in the next 12-24 months when a double dissolution is caused by the failure to get a Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme through. Hopefully next time around we can have a more positive outlook for the country's future.

I'm not sure why our cats like blowing raspberries so much! Must be picking it up from me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pblurrpth!

Sometimes I HATE democracy!

I particularly hate that idiot people will vote against their own better interests out of racist fear, selfish greed, ignorance and laziness. 

On ya Australia, so proud today....pblurrrpppppppth to you all!!!!!!!Well 50% of you anyway.


...more when I'm less angry.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quilt again, again

OK, so this is the last update until I finish I promise (it's getting boring).

I can see why people like doing these. It's fun. But it's getting harder to be random with the patches and now I have to be more strategic with the placement. I also have to square off my squares a bit more . . . but ask me if I care about the imperfection (Wabi Sabi as always, that's me!).

Astrid LOVES it and keeps hugging it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Quilt

 Much happier with the second deer. Cut it closer to the drawn line, finer nose and thinner neck, definitely more deer-y to me.
Also found some really sweet deer fabric to add into the mix.She knows all about it now as it was impossible to keep from her but that was OK as she helped choose the fabric (hard to steer her away from the bright pink and yellow polka dots though!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quilt

So here we are . . . doing things completely wrong I'm sure but onward we stumble. Thankfully she prefers deer without antlers!

I was going to machine stitch around the deer but I wonder if it will make it too stiff and will tiny, tiny hand done blanket stitch keep it from fraying enough?

Let's call this one the guinea-pig-deer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Audrey with Holes

Finally finished my cashmere Audrey cardigan (this is my second Audrey, I love the pattern)!

I changed her a bit with an all over pattern and a much smaller gauge which was at times tough going but the light, soft and warm result was worth it.

I also finally committed to a colour for the dining room! I actually woke up yesterday morning (D Day) with a knot in my stomach because I knew I had to make a final choice! It's beyond ridiculous the emotional contortions that this has had me in (very unlike me).

The Historian has been building a "wine robe" (basically a wine cellar in a custom-built corner cupboard in the dining room) . . . we're calling it NARNIA. Anyway, because of the way it is built we had to paint the wall above it before going any further, hence my D(ecision) Day. I chose a pale grey blue (it's called Grey Cloud). I think I made the right choice . . .
It's none of these, ha ha!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Deer for my Dear

This little person is OBSESSED with Deer. I guess if she lived in Europe or North America she might be keen on Kangaroos, but deer (be they Reindeer, Red deer or even Elk) are her passion. She is also about to turn five in early October.

When I get a creative idea in my little head it pushes and pushes and pushes at me (I go to sleep thinking about it, I wake up thinking about it, you get the idea) until I make it and exorcise it out of my system. 

I have never made a quilt and yet that's what I've decided to make her for her birthday (I mean how hard can it be??? ho ho . . . nervous laughter). I'm not going to go crazy here, just squares and then I'm going to appliqué some deer silhouettes around the place . . . and, I'm going to genetically engineer the cat pattern to make a matching deer toy. 


I have 7 weeks and I have "real" paid work to do too (not to even mention all the other stuff) . . . maybe I'm biting off more then I can chew? Oh well, never stopped me before, watch this space. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meadow Kitty

After yesterday's skirt whip up, Astrid is more than enthusiastic about the magic powers of the sewing machine. So this morning she suggested, "let's make a cat for Linus as a surprise" (Linus, it must be said, is Cat-mad...he loves his toy cats more than you can imagine. Yes, we have 3 real cats too and he thinks they're OK, but that's more their cantankerous fault than his . . . more on that later).

Well, what's a person to do? It's so sweet that she wanted to make a present for her brother but this had to be while he was at school and there were some other (house is a tip) work to do too. I thought to myself that I would get shifty and try out a pattern that I want to adapt to make a reindeer for Astrid (more on that later too) but of course it wasn't a quick "whip up" and I took some major shortcuts, so she is also wonky.

So here is Meadow Kitty (Astrid wanted it to be a girl as there's somewhat of a gender imbalance to his toy cats). I used all sorts of scraps that I was given by a lovely woman de-stashing a while ago.

Now to go un-tipify the house!

and she is LOVED

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pink Twirling Skirt



Why do girls go so mad for pink? I've actually made a conscious effort to limit the amount of pink in Astrid's life. It's such a conformist colour and "girly girl" (ooh I HATE that term... ugh especially when grown women use it to describe themselves) is not a box I want my wonderful, assertive, creative daughter being stuck in. Yet it's a force sometimes too big for me to fight ...15 minutes this morning on the sewing machine making a dodgy pink skirt out of the satin she chose and she's delighted! I know she'll wear it getting muddy while planting "forests" for her toy deer and climbing trees while helping her imaginary "silly fruit-eating duck", so I guess she's not totally boxed yet.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WAKE UP AUSTRALIA!

I am fearful Australia (and I know you're all reading this)! Latest opinion polls indicate that the semi-clad idiot I mentioned below may actually become our Prime Minister! Have a listen to his own quotes  and help me make sure he doesn't lead us back to the 50s!
video

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Aarvark Cottage Beautification Project # 2

KITCHEN

I think I've mentioned that before we bought our house it had suffered a long, long time as a rental property. This area is inner city and has a bit of a seedy past before getting all gentrified (in fact we used to rent around here in our earlier and seedier years).

The kitchen was DISGUSTING and had to be the first thing to tackle (I wouldn't use the oven for fear of  hairy beasts may have been living and toileting there).

I've just discovered that most of my "before" shots are really pretty crappy as I took them on the day we were moving in. Perhaps it was a subconscious act on my part to make the "befores" look even more awful.  Of course the view onto the neighbour's brick-clad monstrosity is still there (sigh...) So . . .

                                                                                                  

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER
and AFTER

Monday, August 2, 2010

Family get-togethers

Our neighbour's almond tree is in full swing and a mass of humming bees. That has nothing to do with anything, but the picture's pretty.

We had a family barbecue yesterday, my cousin Jonas is visiting from Sweden and staying with my parents while he does an exchange at a local university for a semester, so it was a sort of a welcome to Australia.

Barbecues can be tricky for us vegetarians (alright we're Pesco-vegetarians, or "Fishocrits" as my eldest, totally vegetarian, son lovingly calls us) and we don't usually do them as a family but they are quintessentially Australian and so the carnivores went to town.



So to cater for our own "peculiarities" I made a Sweet Potato Galatte, a couscous salad and one of my Dad's favourites, Mazarins.













From my absolute favourite cake and biscuit book,  
Sju sorters kakor...

MAZARINS

Preheat oven 175C (350F)
Pastry                                                                       
300ml Plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3tbs sugar
100g butter
1 small egg
Combine dry ingredients, rub butter into(till resembles breadcrumbs) Add egg, wrap in plastic refrigerate 1 hour.

 Filling
75g butter
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
150g ground almonds
Melt butter and cool. Beat eggs and sugar till VERY light and VERY thick. Stir in almonds and butter.
Roll out pastry. Line oval forms (I used a Friand tray) with pastry. Fill with filling and bake in bottom half of oven 15 minutes till tops are golden. Cool and apply icing and glacé cherry halves.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

TRIFFIDS






Do you remember the Triffids (no, not the Perth band of the 80s, the killer plants of the movie).

Well, I think we have some growing around the corner from us . . .

Should we be worried?

Seriously, what ARE these plants?


And . . . The house that they are growing in front of is . . . deserted . . .dum dum dum dum!