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Friday, October 29, 2010

Smells I Miss

In Queensland we called these school ports (from portmanteau).
They were made from thick tough rigid cardboard and although they had a sort of "skin" on the outside to resist water, they were raw and exposed on the inside which meant smells were readily absorbed.
They always smelt of bananas, that was a given living in QLD, but the best smell for me was the smell of pencils, as pungent as fresh mown grass.
It smelt like I kept an inch of pencil shavings in there. Is it just me or have pencils lost their pungency? Were they actually toxic in my day and have they been homogenised for the new generations or are they now using plantation timbers and, like most things mass produced, bland?

Oil of Ulan (Olay in other countries) is not a particularly preferred smell but it does conjure childhood memories for me. Mostly it brings to mind grandmothers. I remember when I was little, hefting that cool heavy glass bottle in my hand. You had to be careful not to drop it when you were very small because heavy glass bottles get slippery when handling moisturisers. The texture like cool water on the skin, the smell unique, exotic but not simpering like I remember the Avon ones. It was so cosmetic but not chemical. It also reminds me of arched eyebrows like Sophia Loren's.

I miss the smell of real paper money. I understand the reasons for the conversion to the polymer (thingy-whatever) equivalent, but I really feel sorry for the younger generations that they never got to really experience money. Now days they barely even carry it. Nearly every transaction is done with a card.
Is that where we went wrong with societies so overburdened with debt? Did we get far too removed from our currency?
Once upon a time proper money was put into little buff envelopes and distributed on pay day. A set amount that had to last. It had to be budgeted.
It left a lingering gorgeous smell even after it was gone. I remember inhaling the scent like I do a fine red wine now. I wish I had kept a wad of it just to smell occasionally. The couple of notes that I have "for the children" aren't quite the same effect, their smell now a bit dulled and distant.
So it begs the question, what was the alluring smell of money? Certainly it was ink and paper, but was it also the intricate melding of thousands of hands?
It is argued that currency is one of the trademarks of civilisation. Our currency is very quickly turning into an intangible source. What will future historians make of a civilisation that abandoned it's currency. It's interesting to note that back in the day a lot of Sci-Fi drama used the term "credits" instead of "dollars" and how true that is coming to pass. It's not hard to imagine that one day we will have a global currency of "credits"....but I digress.
One can bring to mind favourite smells but as I grow older there are a lot of smells I miss, the ordinary everyday smells I took for granted and will never smell again....unless I come across an old kindy port in someones "attic" as I am convinced you can never get the banana smell out of them.
What are your smells you miss?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ravalry Fun

I have been busily stitching tea towels all week and isn't it always the way that it never rains it pours! While trying to get a store order done I've had a record number of single orders this week too.
My monthly meet up at the pub with some Ravalry knitting buddies was just the distraction I needed.
Such a diverse group of girls and so much fun. We talk about so many things like; family, work, travel....and especially knitting.
I learnt some new terminology. When someone asked Jess what she was working on she replied "a neck warmer"(click link to see the "Fear of Commitment Cowl by Julie Weisenberger at Ravalry). In all my ignorance I burst out laughing and said surely that was called a scarf!
Well no there is a difference. A neck warmer is literally a smallish piece for a stylish drape once around the neck like an informal collar.
The next new term I learnt was "a commitment free button" to which I positively bubbled over with mirth as I tried to cope with images of shy and aloof closure options. Once I got up off the floor it was patiently explained to me the ingeniousness of it's design.
Two buttons are joined with a short length of elastic and are able to be worked through a largish knit pattern effectively securing the garment in a variety of ways as you will see if you click on the neck warmer link above.
I love it! Jess has just the button in mind for her project too. Her friend brought her back a beautiful button from Prague when she was travelling. What an imaginative and thoughtful present and so easily transported.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tasmania's Female Ministers

Last week we also visited St Marys Anglican church in Hagley. I had never known this church was there. It sits upon a slight hill with pastoral views and the township close by.
I am by up-bringing Roman Catholic so please pardon any muffs i might make in the telling.
This small church was built in the later part of the 1800s and features beautiful stained glass windows
striking tiles and decoration in the alter area and a beautiful carved stone pulpit (I'm told they are more typically built from wood in a church this size so I believe this feature alone points to the standing this church once held).

The minister alludes to the various things that "need more money" but that the needs of the parishioners are many also and it's a priority of people rather than things. The congregation is simply not large enough to keep up with the upkeep.
Reverend Marie White, along with Reverend Josephine Pyecroft minister to a broad area of Hagley, Westbury and Carrick. They as I understand are the only female ministers in Tasmania. There are some who do not agree with female ministers but I think it is a very forward and practical move by the Anglican church.
I was left with a great admiration for Marie after meeting her and felt her congregation were very lucky to have her and there appeared to be quite a lot of energy and positive pragmatism in her community programmes. The appointments have been a little too controversial for some and I think that is a great shame.

This church has spanned three centuries now and seen many changes, people famous and humble and gatherings large (especially at Christmas) and small (on frosty below zero mornings). As I stand in the cemetery amidst the markers of time and history adorned with drifts of snow drops and bluebells looking out upon the gentle hills and pastures of contented flocks, I'm left with not only peace and contentment but a feeling of calm inevitability. Whatever beliefs people hold, religion plays an important role in our communities. Will we only realise and miss them when they are gone? There is no denying that congregations are on the decline. Our communities I believe are on a decline also....into a massive population of insular individuals. Will it be just another cycle or will these times be lost forever?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tom Roberts Grave

I felt this sentiment was a lovely expression of the ritual of memoriam that we keep culturally.
It is a plaque located at the the Illawarra Cemetery between the townships of Longford and Hadspen. The cemetery and it's Anglican church were once probably surrounded by workers' cottages but now sits quiet and lonely midst a sheep paddock.
There are probably no more than thirty graves but notably here lies the ashes of one of Australia's most loved and famous painters, Tom Roberts.

The church is humble and has a small congregation as do many churches in the area and has a service two Sundays a month.

Services are still conducted using the traditional format from the book of common prayer and has an older congregation. The church along with a parcel of land were gifted to the Anglican Church some generations ago by the Dumaresq family. The income from the parcel of land is what enables the church to maintain and repair, otherwise, like others in the countryside, this church would have perhaps fallen into disrepair or been sold for private purposes. I wonder what it's future holds and what will it's circumstances be in another 50 years?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Knitting This Week

Unfortunately I won't be knitting this week....except at my monthly Ravalry group meet tonight of course!
I have a large order for tea towels so I'm a bit head down. But definitely a new pattern next week on Thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seed Saving

As you would have already presumed, we have been spending more and more time in the garden getting it underway for our major food producing time. It's hard to get a jump on the season when it still throws a frost at you like this morning. Thanks for the warning Lee over at Killiecrankie Farm.
You know how frugal I am....well I have been blown away by how much I have spent so far buying seed! It all seems to have gone up so much this year. I estimate that I have spent at least $50 on seed and that's only 50% of the total seed we use. The other 50% we have sourced from our stocks and family and friend seed savers. So I will be more vigilant next year about saving seed and send a timely reminder to my friends in the Northern Hemisphere to save your seed and check out my SEED PACKET TUTORIAL HERE.
Many have started their Christmas gift planning and a dozen of these little packets filled or unfilled would make a great gift for the gardeners in your circle or even for children's present. They love beans and sunflowers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tulip Farm

For Craig's mother's 80th birthday present, we took her along the North West Coast of Tasmania with a visit to the Tulip Farm as the highlight of the trip. The Tulip Farm is located just outside the small town of Wynyard where the pastures are lush and the soil rich red brown. To the north is Bass Straight beyond undulating cliffs. To the south beyond the checkerboard of pasture and crop fields are the blue and purple peaks of the highland mountains, their tops still lightly dusted with snow.
The sights were breathtaking, the kind that make you glad to be alive.
It was freezing! Only 7 degrees C at midday so we were very rugged up! The lighthouse in the distance shows how close the farm is to the cliff tops.
If you have ever heard of colour therapy then you will understand when I say that it felt like we were breathing in energy from the intense blocks of colour surrounding us. There were lots of visitors and I could tell they were all feeling the same way by the delight on their faces as we gazed at complete strangers with silly grins!
We had a wonderful time and a suitably memorable one for the 80yr olds birthday. Sometimes the best present you can give someone is....your time. It was a whole day of adventure and enjoyment.

We also went to Penguin hee hee! I can highly recommend the "Groovy Penguin" cafe for breakfast!
Another must see is the emporium of emporiums....Reliquaire of Latrobe, a maze of 20 rooms filled floor to ceiling with dolls, venetian masks, sciencenalia, educational toys, gifts, puzzles, puppets, costumes, cosmetics, antiques, replica Roman and Greek statuary, period restoration ware. Every week is a different theme and the staff are all dressed in costume and everyone who enters is greeted with a character bearing a silver salver of homemade fudge. This trip I bought all the little toys I need for my Christmas bon bons this year. Every year I have a colour theme for Christmas and I make the bon bons (crackers) in kind with all the toys inside following the theme. Everyone loves them and looks forward to them each year and there is lots of playtime at the table!

After Latrobe we stopped at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm for a very late lunch. Their specialty is raspberries completely encased in rich dark chocolate. You need to pop the whole thing in your mouth at once and as you bite into it the raspberry explodes through the chocolate with intense moist memories of summer.
A blissful day was had and truly you would never think Ann is a day over 65 really!

P.S. I also found some Royal Worcester egg coddlers at the Leven Antique Centre in Ulverstone. The small were $15 and the large $25 which is very good buying for anyone looking for egg coddlers to pass down through the generations.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Knit With Me 25

Mosaic Stitch

This is knit over a multiple of 20 stitches so I am going to cast on 40.
Rows 1, 5 and 9: *K2, P2*
Row 2 and alt rows: K the P stitches and P the K sts of the previous row
Rows 3 and 7: (K2 P2) twice, *K4, P2, K2, P2*, K2
Rows 11, 15 and 19: *P2, K2*
Rows 13 and 17: As for row 3 and 7.
Looks pretty doesn't it? I can't imagine using this stitch for a whole jumper but makes a great pocket detail.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Beetroot Pie

My friend from work had a gathering at her home on Sunday and she called it "A Little Bit of Sweden". She is Swedish but has lived here for many years and in that time has gathered some wonderful friends from her many facets of life. She teaches yoga, is a massage therapist, has a certificate III in horticulture and passionate about the environment.
She is also vegetarian and the buffet table groaned with European influenced epicurean delights in every colour of the vegetable rainbow. The beetroot pie really caught my attention and my friend has kindly converted the recipe for me from Swedish. Instead of chevre I am using ricotta and some feta as Craig is not fond of goat's cheese.

Beetroot Pie
Serves 4-5

450g of fresh beetroot
50 ml of blackcurrant gel

75g walnuts
150g butter
generous cup of flour
1 egg yolk
1-2 tabs cold water

175g chevre
100 ml cream
2 eggs
100 ml milk
2 tabs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Oven 200 degrees (Celsius)

Roast the nuts in a dry fry pan and the then chop very finely and work in with the rest of the base ingredients to form a dough. Use a pie form and pre-bake for 10 mins.

Peel the cooked beetroot

Mash the cheese and mix with the cream, milk, eggs, thyme and season to taste. Pour into the pastry shell and lay slices of beetroot on the top/in it.

Bake for 20-25 mins. Brush some warmed blackcurrant gel on top.

At the same party I also met another blogger from the area, Apple Island Wife, and her family who are neighbours to my friend Lee from Killiecrankie Farm I love Tasmania and it's constant 6 degrees of separation. I also felt very warm and fuzzy looking around the eclectic group of people who had embraced this dynamic lady so far from home and family and made her one of our own. We celebrated her heritage and had practiced our Swedish words and sipped heavily spiced Gluwein.
Tak fur matten
(Thank you for the food)

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Few Things Re-visited and Somesuch

Do you remember the story on the The store cupboard? I wanted to add further to that now that we are on the other side of winter and planting again.
I estimated that I had "put up" more than 100kgs of food not including jams, relish or chutneys. Tomatoes are a real staple in our cupboard. Friday is "pizza night" at our place. I work till about 7pm on Fridays and Craig makes homemade pizzas ready to go as soon as I walk in the door. I made 12 (Fowlers) bottles of tomato sauce mostly for the pizza bases and at this stage we have 4 left so I would estimate the amount just right. (I did do some that I gave away also).
I lost count of how many tomatoes I bottled (somewhere in the vicinity of 150) but we have about 30 bottles left (each contains about 800g-1kg) and I wouldn't change these quantities either. We use the bottled tomatoes for lots of slow cooked dishes, curries and soups. To bottle this much we planted 12 tomato plants of many different varieties. My favourite for bottle prep is the Roma style as it has no creases and remains mostly blemish free and it's shape and firmness of flesh is easily cut making the job so much quicker. I do bottle all different varieties together and love the various aspects that they bring to each bottling making the flavours and colours unique.
I bottled about 10 kg of blueberries and still have some left along with pears. Of the 8kg of cherries that I did we have probably two bottles left. The fruit has been a wonderful standby for impromptu dinner parties and I have whipped many types of fruit crumbles but by far my favourite thing throughout the Winter is to be still enjoying the fruits of summer on my Weet-Bix in the mornings.
The beans were not such a good story though. Because they are a low acid food, they need to be bottled in a half vinegar, half water solution. Despite repeated rinsing and slow casserole cooking....they still taste very acidic. There is no bean flavour left and while they would prevent starvation, in this day and age of plenty I've decided it's far better to store what we can in the freezer and perhaps leave the rest to harvest for bean seed.
I also wrote about Foot Detox Patches. Hmmmm not sure about the whole detox thing. I didn't notice any appreciable effects within my being as a whole. I am still skeptical but I will admit that my FEET have felt less "broken" than they normally do. A life of retailing on hard floors has left my feet feeling like they are full of broken bones and a middle of the night trip to the toilet is a hobble up the hallway. Maybe the patches have taken down some of the inflammation and reduced fluid within the tissues, I don't know. When I was shopping around for the patches, some sellers even claimed they were great for weight loss...*snort*. There is no doubt that there is moisture lost through the feet during the night but I wouldn't classify that as weight loss. There is still no magic pill for that one!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knit With Me 24

Rectangular Checks

This pattern is knit in multiples of 6 and wouldn't it be effective in a dual colourway?
I'm casting on 42.

Rows 1 and alt rows: K
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12: *K3, P3*
Rows 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24: *P3, K3*

Couldn't be simpler! I'm still working in blues and slate colours. The weather is getting warmer  and I tend to go off the boil a bit with my knitting but I'm hoping to keep going with the squares.
Recently I was in Queensland visiting family and was impressed with my 15 year old nephew, Nicholas, crocheting. He made a skull cap for himself and promptly had an order from another school mate for one! Nick is also by the way a National silver medalist in Judo for his division. An all round champion!

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