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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Knit With Me 19

star fish stitch

This stitch is easier than it looks and visually it will be a great contrast to a lot of the rib-type squares we have done. It is knit over multiples of 7 + 5. I am casting on 40 stitches for my square.

Row 1 and alt rows: *P5, K2 tbl*, P5.
Row 2 and alt rows: K5, *P2tbl, K5*

When the knit piece is finished, you are going to take a tapestry needle and draw the alternate k2 ribs together every 10 or 20 rows so bear that in mind when you are knitting your square so you can make the appropriate number of rows.
Thank you for all the lovely comments from everyone. It is lovely to hear from you even if you are not knitting along and it keeps the project going. If you are not knitting along now, the patterns are always here for you when you are ready. I would like to send a special cheerio to my sister-in-law this week who is very busy with federal election campaigning and hope that she finds the knitting time to keep her sanity.

Leeann's stack at Knit One Craft Two

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Two Important Culinary Discoveries

On an ordinary weekday, I have discovered not one but two wonderful things at the same time.
We are very low on meat and most other things at the moment, I didn't even have the where-with-all to whip up some fritters! Upon inspection I did find some butternut pumpkin, carrots and sweet potato to make a visually delightful trio of oven roasted root vegetables. So cooking was underway with the plan that we would have risotto with gorgeous cubes of roasted orangeness, so very warming on a winter night, but to my aborio rice in the cupboard!
I had been led to believe by the marketing powers that be, that ONLY aborio was suitable for risotto. Well everything was cooking and it was too late to abandon plans now so I opted to go with the jasmine rice and invent some other name for dinner....along the lines of rice-o-risso??(yeah, do you remember that one from childhood do you??).
Risotto went better than planned and turned out really creamy and behaved perfectly. I'm sorry to offend but I really couldn't pick the difference.

Discovery #2.....Strawberry Passion Pop! Coming from Qld, I was not aware of Passion Pop but this sparkling alcoholic beverage has been popular amongst the 18-25yr olds in Tasmania for generations and is very much snobbed and derided by proper wine drinkers.
As you would know from previous posts, Emma has been visiting and left behind a bottle in the fridge. Curiosity got the better of me and I gave it a try....
Well I was very pleasantly surprised and have noted it down especially in my culinary diary as the perfect accompaniment for Sunday afternoon tea soirees of scones and rose petal jam....
or for girlie get together buff-and-puff days where we eat fruit and paint our toenails with face masks on.
Strawberry, sparkly, light and definitely has a place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lunch at the Gorge

"The Gorge" is located right in the heart of Launceston and a spectacular spot for picnics, exercising, weddings and more. It's picturesque and stunning in any season. The daffodils are sending up their green strappy leaves ready for carpets of yellow in a month or two. The peacocks are a favourite with everyone, except maybe the coffee shop and restaurant know what I'm talking about.

My mother has a couple of special friends and they catch up regularly. My aunt was visiting and so was my daughter Emma so we had an extra special girl catch up.
The Gorge Restaurant is doing a winter special at the moment and is such a cosy, quiet place to be and it felt absolutely decadent for three course lunch!

These look like they could be the original light fixtures. They are on a lowering chain and pulley system and the base originally held kerosene and wick.

These cataract cliff grounds have been enjoyed by all since the late 1800s and the restaurant has a wonderful collection of photographs over the decades with many of the original buildings still in evidence but it is the many species of flora that has matured over the time.  Overseas visitors are also charmed by the frequent appearances of wallabies, paddymelons, potoroos and other mammals. How lucky we are that generations before had the forethought to set this space aside for all to enjoy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Emma Cooks

Emma (daughter #2) has come home for a weeks' holiday.
Thursday night she cooked.

Emma has been competent at roast chicken dinners since she was 13yrs old. In fact chicken dishes have always been her favourite and I smile every time I remember her at the local chicken shop discussing with the ladies what she was planning that week. Once when she was about 10 her reply was "Moroccan Chicken". When asked by the shopkeeper "oh and how do you make that Emma?" she proceeded to list all thirteen spices for the marinade....they were sorry they asked! It still remains her popular signature dish. She has tried to teach her sister but it's not really about measurements but a "feel" for the spice quantities and Tegan can't quite grasp that, she needs to cook with clear direction.
Well Emma taught me a thing or two the other night. She stuffs her chicken full of lemon wedges and garlic cloves and sprinkles simply with salt and pepper. She starts it off at 200 degrees and then turns it down to 180 after about half an hour. She makes the gravy in the roasting pan from the juices and it has a lovely lemony flavour.

The potatoes I thought doomed to fail were amazing. She cut them into thick rounds sort of and then par-boiled them. She drained them and left them in the hot pot so they dried off a bit through evaporation. Then she tossed them in a little olive oil and placed them on their own tray in the oven. The best I have had and I sooo thought they were going to be...well...not really up to the mark for a roast dinner.

I love her more and more and treasure this new stage of our relationship. Even though I excitedly anticipate grandchildren one day, visits like this make me glad I don't have to share her yet with little ones. It also makes me think I owe a little more devoted time to my Mum and maybe I should be paying closer attention to the phase our relationship is in now too.
Precious moments.
You know what I'm talking about.

Knit With Me 18

ant egg stitch

This ant egg stitch is knit over a multiple of 4 and I have decided to cast on 40 stitches.
Row 1: K2 sl 2 Purlwise *
Row 2: *P 2, K 2 *
Row 3: *Sl 2, K2 *
Row 4: *K2 P2 *

Happy knitting.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Custom Made Backgrounds

I am having a wonderful time at the moment creating some really cool backgrounds with some metallic pigments and ink. My Aunt is visiting from QLD and has brought her Cuttlebug with her and I have been embossing scraps of card stock before she goes.

From the plain embossed card stock I turn it into a shimmery metallic finish by mixing a small scoop of Perfect Pearls (copper and blue patina)and a full dropper of Ranger Distress Ink (Tea Dye and Old Paper) and mixing them in mini misting bottles. I shake it well and spray onto the card and then dry it off with my heat tool.

The colour combinations with these pigments and inks is endless and the finished product can be a feature or a background, scrunched, torn or cropped. To bring out the high relief you can also rub the top gently with another ink pad or sponge.

It is hard to see the coppery glint in the photograph but it adds another dimension to other things too like the key detail which is a cut out from plain black card. Using the same treatment "antiques" the key and adds a very subtle aged effect and patina to plain cardboard.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slow Cooked Ham Hocks

This post is not going to appeal to my Muslim friends so I will catch you up next post with my latest craft favs.
It has occurred to me that there is a generations below me in Australia have had very little experience with cheaper cuts of meat and are very adverse to using them.
Ham hocks are the lower leg part of the pig before the hoof. After smoking a leg of ham or bacon the hock is the "useless" part.....that is you can't slice bacon from it.
It is still very meaty and flavoursome. They don't look very pretty but are wonderful surprise packages really.
I put mine in the slow cooker with onions, carrots and red lentils. I add tomatoes, stock and either Moroccan-style spices or use Chinese five spice powder to compliment the pork. After cooking for about eight hours on low in the slow cooker, I simply grab the skin and bone with a pair of tongs and they slip right out leaving beautifully tender meat behind that is easily broken up through the casserole.
Come to think of it this is not going to appeal to my vegetarian friends either.
The ham hocks cost around $3 each from the butcher and one will easily feed a family of four cooked in this way. Other traditional additions to this type of casserole are split peas and dried beans.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knit With Me 17

Bobble Stitch

I love bobbles and once made a whole cardigan using this stitch for one of my nieces. They were like little pink rosebuds. Basically you knit a panel stocking stitch (one side is knit the other is purl) and you make bobbles that seem to "sit" upon the knit. I have chosen to space mine 12 stitches apart and 6 rows apart keeping the rows alternate and I have cast on 54 stitches. You can make what ever size you like.
Generally the bobbles are made from multiples of three or more commonly five stitches and can be made in one of  three different ways.
The method I have always used is to knit into the front of the stitch then knit into the back, then into the front and then into the back and one last time into the front.....then you have five stitches. Turn the work around because next you purl these five stitches (keep the tension loose). Then turn again and decrease all these stitches back to one again by knitting through all of them at once. It's a bit tricky but it's the bobble I like best.
Another method is here in this video tutorial. It uses the continental method (which I can't follow) but her method for the bobble looks a little easier but a bit looser too. Here is the link to e-how make a bobble.
If you are new to bobbles and find five stitches a challenge, try working with three stitches for a smaller bobble.
This will knit up a really interesting 3 dimension square for your rug/project.

27.07.10 - If you would like to see a really beautiful project for bobbles and scrap wool, check out Killiecrankie Farm blog and drool over these beautiful coathanger covers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Japanese Garden

Stunning in every season is the Japanese garden designed by a landscape architect from Yaizu, Hobarts' sister city  in Japan.

In the spring it features cherry blossom, through summer, irises and water lilies. In autumn the maples are fiery spectacles and in winter the skeletonised trees and conifers provide lovely sculptural background for grasses and camellias and azaleas.

It was a shame that we only had our phones with which to take photos but this part of the Hobart Botanic Gardens is easily our favourite.

It really is another world for quiet contemplation and always gives me inspiration. Our emphasis in the garden has been very much directed towards growing food, but beauty like this is food for the soul. It reminds me that balance is the key.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Wall

There are two magnificent heritage walls in the Hobart Botanic Gardens, one is called the Arthur Wall and the other the Eardley-Wilmott Wall named after the two Governors who ordered the construction of them. The walls are heated by a system of furnaces and flues. 

They were started in 1829, built using convict labour and the Eardley-Wilmott is 280 metres long containing thousands of hand made bricks upon an initial construction of sandstone blocks providing and inner and outer skin. The walls were used in Europe to extend the growing season for fruit trees and provide frost protection.

They were only heated for a few years after realising that the climate really wasn't as severe as European conditions and while cold, snowfall was typically on the mountains. Now the walls provide a beautiful private backdrop and support for climbers.

Here is the map for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Most of the time when I am looking for a new blog I will hit a few of the suggested blogs on reading lists of bloggers I already follow hoping to find a similar category. Sometimes I make snap decisions about a blog simply based on it's name, like I might be looking for a gardening blog so if it has a name with "chicken" in it I'll go there but the "pink princess" blog may in fact have been more useful to me. I've missed an opportunity purely on a snap value judgement, just like we judge magazines by their front covers.

Ecclectic Housewife has come up with a great idea of categorising and indexing if you like. The button above links to her blog community where bloggers can register themselves into categories. When you are wanting to trawl a photography site for example, you have blogs available all neatly sorted.

If you would like to find out more, click on the Ecclectic Housewife link or go to her blog register to add your blog and find meaningful readers for your own blog. It will help link people to the information they are looking for, whether it be for cooking, crafting or mothering etc.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Knit With Me 16

I still have a few more rows that I want to finish from last weeks' pattern. It was lovely to have on hand while I was visiting with the girls as the pattern was so easy to pick up and put down. This week I have another very easy pattern in mind.

tile stitch

this is knit over multiples of 5 and I think I will be casting on 40 stitches for this one.
Row 1 and alt rows: K
Row 2, 4 and 6: *P4, K1
Row 8: K

How are your projects going? Paste a link in the comments section so we can see how things are progressing if you like.
I've joined up at the knitting site Ravelry and found a local group who meet up once a month to knit and crochet together. There are many groups and probably one in your area. It's a good way to find people with a similar interest and make more friends and expand your skills.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pete's Patch

I count myself very lucky and blessed that my almost 21 year old daughter still wants to spend the day with me. She chose the Botanic Gardens in Hobart for our special day together. I think she is a lovely nostalgic and remembers other trips here when she was little.
We started with tea and scones at the tea room before we began our adventure.

The first stop was Pete's Garden made famous on the Gardening Australia show. The smell of all the manure was overwhelming and Emma says she is sure you could grow great vegetables just on the fumes alone.
What I really love about Pete's patch is that is shows gardening in an average backyard scale on a year round system. It makes it real for the average back yard gardener.

We saw the famous banana tree that they are trying to grow against the wall as an experiment. It had a significant hessian covering against the frost but looked like it was holding it's own. I can't see it fruiting in this climate though.

It was also good to see various fruit trees espaliered as this is also a project that Craig and I are working on in our back yard to optimise fruit/space production.

Monday, July 5, 2010

early mornings, crackling fire, sleeping dogs

I have been in Hobart for the last four days visiting with my daughters. The two girls rent a house together.
I've had the need to do a bit of mothering, it's a biological urge I think. I know my Mum can't help herself either and I try to let her and not get cranky but it's hard to submit to the ministrations as one gets older. I am more than aware that over time less will be tolerated and more seen as interference. The mother role is to help and ease and nurture but the youngster will often feel that the mother is undermining their capabilities.

It has the best of times to come. A couple of my eldest daughters' old school friends have been visiting also. One has been down to do a block of study at the Hobart University. The other has come from Melbourne on her two weeks of total "do as you want freedom" before she knuckles back down to fourteen weeks of strict training. She is a weightlifter competing in the Commonwealth Games in India soon. She is ranked top 5 in the Commonwealth and is a very serious competitor and she looks nothing like a weightlifter.

So I have done lots of laundry and sweeping and cleaning and cooking and I'm just about ready now to head back to our empty nest. The youngest and I went to the Botanic Gardens and had a really great time together one on one.

I've had a couple of visits to the tip shop (the salvage centre that takes what would otherwise be thrown to the garbage dump) and found a couple of dining chairs and a very very old folding card table with turned legs which I plan to take to the snow (but that's another story).
I've caught up on lots of sewing for the shop.

Today my eldest is visitor free and has the day off work so we are having one on one time today. It's been a very full house as I also brought the we had six girls and three dogs. Lucky their house is large and comfy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Knit With Me 15

Wide Basket Stitch

This stitch is knit over a multiple of 9+6
I am going to cast on 42 stitches.

Wide Basket Stitch
Rows 1, 3 and 5: *P6, K3* P6
Row 2 and alt rows: K the P stitches and P the K stitches of the previous row.
Rows 7 and 9: *K6, P3* K6

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