Monday, 30 April 2012

On my desk today

......I'm playing with colours for another illustration sample.

And on the couch* is Shaun, being cuddled by Miss E, who is finally on the mend after a week of being Not Very Well. 

Sam xx

* the couch is a new secondhand addition to our back room, thanks to the generosity of my Mum and Dad! Brilliant!! Miss E is resting on it while I paint so both of us are very content, right now.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Knitting Work In Progress

Like a lot of crafty people, I like to take a project away with me on holiday and, as you may have already read here, I finished Miss E's cardigan while away (not that she'll wear it!). But I knew that wasn't going to be enough so I took another project with me, just in case! I have some Cleckheaton Country 8 ply wool left over from a hat and scarf that I made Miss M earlier in the year. A cardigan to match was required!

Except she didn't want the same pattern as Miss E. No, no; she wanted 'Something Girlier'. to the rescue. Again!

Miss M chose Olearia, by Georgie Hallem aka 'Tikki', which you can find here. And it is 'girlie' enough, although we are debating whether to make the long sleeved version versus the cap sleeve one. Hmmmm. It might be a case of seeing whether I have enough yarn or not, the eternal knitters' quandary!

Now, I have never really been one for knitting in the car. I like to look at the world go by and often I'm too busy dishing out food to the kids and being a Crowd Controller. But this trip was different. I knew the roads and scenery quite well, and the drives are long - the journey home took us 6 hours with lunch and toliet stops. There was plenty of time to fill with knitting. So I did!

This is one long car trip that seemed to pass very quickly!

And just to finish, I thought I might share the place where we like to stop for lunch when we are on the road to/from Albany; a beautiful old building, the Kojonup Barracks built in 1845(that's old in Western Australia!).

Love it!

Sam xx

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Current Reads

Despite being in quarantine and stuck in bed a couple of weeks ago, being sick did give me the chance to read my holiday book. ‘Caleb’s Crossing’, by Geraldine Brooks, has been languishing on my bedside table since I bought it on my birthday in February. But not anymore!

The story is a fictional historical drama based on the factual details surrounding the circumstances of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in the 1600’s. It is told through the eyes of the main character, Bethia, an ‘English’ girl, daughter of a Martha’s Vineyard minister whose main aim was to convert the Indians to Christianity.

Bethia is strong, intelligent and resourceful girl in a God fearing, strictly religious colonial community. She struggles to fit the accepted role deemed to be appropriate for women of the day and is conflicted with the contradictions she sees in her society.

It does seem that I have a penchant for historical drama at the moment because another recent read of mine, another birthday buy, was ‘Sarah Thornhill’, a sequel novel by Australian author Kate Grenville. I love Grenville’s writing; she uses language in a beautiful way and has a talent for evoking the Australian landscape. Her character, Sarah, is like Bethia, struggling with her allotted role in life on the edge of wilderness. Sarah, too, has encounters with the indigenous people of the area in which she lives, although her story is influenced by the underlying tragedy of the first book, ‘The Secret River’.

Both these books are brilliant reads and I recommend them wholeheartedly. Both have themes which ask some questions that most readers would find uncomfortable, and not just those in Australia. And both are written by Australians. Brooks is a now a resident of Martha’s Vineyard.

So, now what am I going to read?

Post holiday Edit: Lack of choice at our holiday destination led me to buy “The Slap” by another Australian, Christos Tsiolkas, and I have just finished the first ‘section’. I normally don’t like to buy the book after I have watched the movie/series, but in this case I was interested to see how the author initially developed the very unsettling themes. And it is good!

Monday, 23 April 2012

South Coast highlights

Highlights from the South Coast part of our holiday:

Staying at Aunty J's cottage beside the Frankland river,

walks with Daddy,

more walking, this time through the tree tops in Walpole,

 Sunday morning pancake making at Aunty A's in Albany,

a visit to the Albany wind farm,

 and a 'sail' on the 'Amity' with the cousins!

Exhausting! We are all very glad to be heading home tomorrow!!

Sam xx

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Warning signs

Natural Bridge, Albany, Western Australia

The signs clearly warn:-
 “Beware of cliffs”
“Beware of slippery rocks”
 “Stay on paths where provided”.

And, yet, you still get people like this.

And they take their children!!


That is his son taking the photo.

I just don’t get it.

Sam xx

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Miss E's In threes cardigan

So, how is the knitting of Miss E's cardi proceeding? Well.....


Sort of.

Because Miss E has worn it for about the two minutes it took to organise this photo, and then she removed it, declaring she won't be wearing it again.

Oh. Oh well.

On to the next one!

yarn:     Taradale by Emotive Yarns
colour:  hibiscus
time taken: 3 weeks or so

I found the pattern very easy to follow and it knits up very quickly! Will I use it again? Yes! In fact, I had great plans to knit one for Miss M in the wool I used for her crochet hat. Only thing is, she declared she wanted something girlier, prettier.

Great! The perfect excuse to check out some different and new patterns on ravelry. Hooray!!

Sam xx

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Weather Change

Sand in hiking boots = blisters. Ouch!
So, I picked the boys up on Wednesday morning at Conto's.

Look at the size of that wave!

Wherever there is a puddle.....

The twins think that fairies live in this forest.

Can you see them??

Sam xx

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Is it still there?

Is it still there?
Let’s run to the beach and have a look.
Down the path,

Across the sand....

It’s there! Hooray!!

How about a little splash while we’re here?

Or maybe a swim?

Seaweedy water? Not a problem!
Finish with a run along the beach,

And head back for a bath.

But will our sandcastle still be there tomorrow?

 Sam xx

Monday, 16 April 2012

What are the chances?

View from Moses Rock road to Gracetown

G has been hanging out for the arrival of his hiking buddy, Uncle Rob, who arrived from Tasmania on Friday night. They first met while travelling through Pakistan, Western China, Uzbekistan and Turkistan. Lots of lovely gastro stories. They also travelled a couple of years later to Vietnam. But I remember G saying that he felt cheated on that trip – he didn’t have any of the gastro that normally accompanies holidays to such countries. No weight loss on that visit!

And our girls also love Uncle Rob. On Saturday morning, Miss M and her sisters were all over him, so excited were they by his being here. Delightful!

The plan is that we are to spend a week or so in the South West so the boys can hike the Cape to Cape track. Brilliant! I’ll stay at the beach house with our girls and we will just chill out, go to the beach, visit some friends who live down this way, maybe do some of the child friendly ‘attractions’ here that we normally wouldn’t do (too expensive!), do a food/water drop for the boys halfway through and pick them up at the end. We then plan to head to Albany.


By morning tea on Saturday, I was in bed with a squirgly tummy. Nauseated, my word!!  Everyone banished from my bedroom or being anywhere near me. It meant that Daddy and Uncle Rob had to look after the girls and start the packing for our trip.

And they did. And I got better so that we were able to set off on Sunday after lunch.


It is now evident that quarantine failed this time because by 4am Sunday morning, my poor Miss M woke me.

“I’m going to be sick.”

Hustled back into bed, a bucket within handy reach, she proceeded to empty her stomach, poor love; my child, watery eyed, head over the bucket, looking me straight in the eye.

“I’m home sick,” she croaked.

Oh, my poor darling!  I hope the twins will be okay. This could go on for a while, as we all know.

And I’m not holding out much hope for the boys, either. They set off this morning on their hike but G was looking decidedly green. “I’ll sweat it out!”

I don’t think Uncle Rob had this type of stomach bug in mind on this trip – certainly not as exotic as his other travels; “You’re not meant to be sick on holiday in Western Australia!”

And that goes for West Australians too!!

Sam xx

PS Thanks to Rob for the use of his laptop while my new mobile broadband decides to work.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Night Time Knitting

I couldn't sleep the other night. One of the twins had woken up and needed a toilet stop, so I helped out, as you do. Afterwards, whereas she fell asleep straight away, I found myself wide awake with a brain that would not stop! What to do??


So I did. I got up and spent a quiet hour or so working on my latest project, in threes - a baby cardigan, which I am making for Miss E. I have never knitted a top down design before and I'm loving this one. I plan to make another for Miss J, and possibly Miss M as well.

The yarn is Taradale by Emotive Yarns which I purchased from my not-so-local yarn shop (a 45 minute drive from me) and it is a 70% wool/30% soybean protein mix.  I chose it because it was the only remotely interesting thing I saw in the shop that was 10ply and I was in a "I want to knit now" mood! The colour's name is 'Hibiscus'.

I love how you never know exactly how the garment will look before you use a yarn such as this. It's exciting on both pattern and colour levels to see how it all evolves into a unique piece. The company Madelinetosh also make gorgeous variegated yarns that I am currently coveting. Maybe a beautiful yellow for Miss J's cardi?? Ooooooooo. Yummy!

So, I am having some knitting fun. And not just in the middle of the night!

Do you have a favourite variegated yarn at the moment?

Sam xx

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

So much Chocolate!!

It's Easter Sunday - and it's also G's birthday which means a cake is required.

I know, I know. We only just arrived home from camping but I'm still going to make my beloved a cake. Only problem is, he likes chocolate cake and, if it's going to be a birthday cake, it has to be chocolate. Funnily enough, chocolate is something I seem to have a lot of today. We even found some hidden away in the cupboard from last year!

So, I made my no-fail, ever-faithful chocolate cake recipe which you can find here and here. And I used good chocolate - good chocolate Easter Eggs! See it in the photo? But the cake mix didn't seem to do well - it seemed to separate.

Hmmm. What to do?

Persevere!! No time to dither. Parents are on their way here for husband's Birthday Celebration. Get On With It.

There. The cake is ready to go in the oven, covered in Easter Eggy chocolate chunks.

When the decorated cake is presented I tell my mother that the ingredients didn't amalgamate as well as usual. See? See how buttery it is? Not as successful. The cake isn't anywhere near as good as it usually is.

Not it isn't.

It is BETTER! It is really, seriously good; moist, luscious, dense. Mmmmmmm. Chocolate!

You just have to wait until it is totally cool - the next day is best!

So I can safely say that the recipe for the Melt-and-mix chocolate chunk mud cake is truly a Very Good Recipe.

What are your fail-safe go-to recipes?

Having lots of chocolatey fun,

Sam xx

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter weekend Camping

Happily, the four day Easter holiday tends to arrive just as the weather starts to cool down in Perth. In fact, I believe that the Easter weekend normally means the start of the rain. This year, however, the weather forecast was promising good weather. Woo hoo!!

We have been toying with the idea of taking the girls camping for the first time for a while, now. The twins are independent enough, we have conquered the daytime toileting issue, and night time nappies would take care of..... well, nights! The fine weather forecast was all we needed to convince us. Let's go camping! For one night.

Sleeping bags, tent, kitchen gear..... where are those air mattresses? I'm sure they are in the spare room wardrobe. Except they aren't. Bother. Hooray! Crisis averted care of our lovely neighbours (thank you!). We packed our car and trailer on Saturday morning and, not forgetting some essential Easter accessories - nor children, for that matter - we head off into the countryside. 

We live in the Perth Hills which gives us a headstart into the Wheatbelt, prime farming land. With a vague idea about where we might camp for the night, we decided to head to the other side of Dowerin and see where the day would take us.

As we passed Yorkrakine Rock, the girls decided they must climb it. Climb they did - or rather, run! Miss M fairly took off up that rock before I could get the camera sorted out, closely followed by Miss E. Miss J took a rather more sedate pace.... hitching a ride on Daddy's shoulders!

Here. Huff. Let me stop to take a photo of the rock and the beautiful view - puff, splutter!

We did eventually find a great place to camp and promptly rolled out the borrowed tent (thank you, generous SIL!!). We did a practice run of this at home the day before but I was still amazed at how large the tent was. It was a 9 person monster! Sorry - no photo here of the tent set up in its finished state. But believe me, it was enormous!

We gobbled up the pre-cooked pasta and Bolognese dinner and, after a truly magnificent almost-full moonrise, we settled in for the night.


At least, that was the theory. The girls were somewhat excited to be sharing a 'room' and, of course, didn't want to go to sleep. So it was at least another 90 minutes and the digging of numerous 'poo' holes before they decided that they really didn't need to go to the toilet for the 12th time and that sleeping might be a really good idea!

And then, during the night, the Easter Bunny found our campsite...

Sunday morning was glorious and brought with it a bountiful Easter egg hunt and the girls' first ever camp fire on which they cooked their toast. Yum.

On the way home my eagle-eyed husband spotted something on the road and screeched to a halt. What was that?

A Thorny Mountain Devil, a lizard right in the middle of the road, warming itself after the cool night. I can't believe that G could see it; it's not big at all and was cleverly camouflaged against the bitumen of the road. Amazing!

We all got out to have a good sticky beak.


Of course, we left it where it was even though the girls were less than impressed; it was on the road after all and they thought it was too dangerous. But the Thorny Devil had survived so far and was sitting where a car would go right over the top of it.

"Take only photos and leave only footsteps".

Will we camp again? Of course! We had a ball!!

Sam xx

Friday, 6 April 2012

Spot the difference


.....a birthday present that I liked, but it was far too large and couldn't be exchanged.


I took in the bodice, reset the sleeves with a slight gather in the shoulder, and then redid the skirt in the style of the Schoolhouse Tunic and the adjustments I made to the pattern to fit me.


I'm much happier, now.

Many adventures planned for tomorrow - can't wait!
Have a lovely Easter.

Sam xx

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Easter Parade

According to my eldest daughter, the making of an Easter Bonnet for the school Easter parade at assembly is a Very Important undertaking!

Great care must be taken in its creation.

Lining up for judging is also Very Important Business!

It's fun to see the many varied forms that cardboard, paper plates and tissue paper can take. And I love that it was obvious that so many of the older children in the school made their own hats and wore them with pride. They had a blast!

Great excitement was had by all, including me -
our family won three of the Easter Raffle prizes!!

Maybe I shouldn't have bought those Easter eggs yesterday, after all?

Happy Easter!


Miss M's Easter Basket she made at school - a very clever use of a paper plate!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Getting Gumboots

Overnight we had the first new rains of the season and this morning the girls were itching to get out and jump in some of the puddles.

"Where are my gumboots*, Mum??"

Where, indeed. In the box by the back door. With the spiders. Hmmm. Not good. What to do?

I reached in to the Box Of Dead Boots from last year and brought out one that didn't seem too bad. That is, until I smelt it. Poo!!!!! Stinky, sweaty stale old gumboot smell! Yuk!!

At the end of last winter I did attempt to de-smell the gumboots with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. It didn't work, obviously. I hoped that a good airing would do the trick. That didn't work, either. Our girls live in their gumboots during the winter; they are the shoes of choice for every occasion. Parties, too. Smelly boots Will Not Do. It is time to get some new boots. Off down the hill we go.

So, after a bit of colouring-in distraction supplied by a particular childrens' clothing chain (I didn't buy anything there - have you seen their prices lately?), the twins and I ventured into three large discount chain stores to check out their gumboot offerings, and we came home with....Ta-dah!


Miss J promptly jumped into the only puddle she could find.

Where did it go? Oh well, never mind. There will be plently more and much larger puddles soon enough!
(We hope!)

Happy rainy days, everyone.

Sam xx

* Gumboots aka wellies