Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Black Cockatoos

A couple of weeks ago a small flock of black cockatoos came through the neighbourhood.  I was lucky enough to snap a few photos before they flew off.  They aren't a common sight in most backyards, so to see 8 at once was quite exciting.  I'm sorry the photos aren't better, but I thought I'd share them anyway (this link has some close up photos of the species I think I saw).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Floods of spuds

Ok, we haven't been inundated with 'floods' of spuds, but we have been fortunate with quite a good potato harvest.  As this was our first time growing them in the ground it could just be beginners luck, but in case anyone wants to try it (and so I remember for next year!) - here is what we did.

1.  Mix your favourite fertilizer through the soil where you are going to plant your potatoes.  We use commercially bought composted cow manure, blood and bone and a sprinkle of potash.
2.  Dig a trench - I think we went down about 15-20cm.  Put the soil along one side of the trench.  Place a thin layer of clover down in the trench (I read somewhere that it is good to use clover and since we have a big patch of clover in our lawn I thought I'd try it).  Lay the potatoes about 20cm apart in the trench.
3.  Cover the potatoes with about 5-10cm of soil and then a thick layer of your favourite mulch (we use either lucerne or pea straw).
4.  Water them in.
5.  Care for them and wait a while.  When the sprouts are about 10cm or more out of the ground cover them with the remaining soil (from when you dug the trench) and another layer of mulch.  The sprouts should still be poking above the layer of mulch.
6.  Care for them some more and wait a while.  When the sprouts are 10cm or more above that layer, add a layer of homemade compost and another thick layer of mulch.
7.  Keep caring, and wait just a bit more...
8.  After the potato plants have died, carefully dig up your harvest!

We are still waiting for all of our potato plants to die off before the final harvest - but we have several kilos already. 


This weekend the Lifeline Bookfair was on in Canberra.  The Lifeline Bookfair brings together lots of second hand goodies - giving you a hall full of books, games, jigsaws, magazines, CDs, records, videos and everything else related.  I've really cut down on the number of books I buy as I reason that I can borrow them from the library, so now I head straight to the jigsaws and the craft magazines. 

Since taking up knitting I've been proud of my restraint in not establishing a yarn SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).  But as I was making a beeline for the craft magazines I realised that instead of having a yarn obsession collection I have a pattern SABLE! 

I love patterns, especially retro and vintage ones.  As well as being full of potential garments they are a little piece of social history.  I can spend hours looking through patterns (old and new) - the giant hair and oversize jumpers from the 1980s, the men's cardies and ladies twinsets from the 1960s and the sparkly disco singlets from the 1970s - they are all there and I love them all in their own way (though I would only wear a few!).

Many of the retro patterns I have were given to me by my mum- she kept all her patterns from when she was a keen knitter - but others are ones that friends have given me or ones that I have picked up in Op Shops or at book fairs. 
The couple of pattern books I bought on Saturday.

Some books from my stash.  I'm not sure what makes me laugh more - the grumpy lady with a gun on the 'Suddenly there's Scotch Mist' book, or the faces of the man on the 'Masculine Moods' book!

And of course - now that I have taken up sewing, I have also started a sewing pattern SABLE...!

What's your SABLE?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

College sewing projects

It's official - I've finally rid myself of my fear of sewing pants (created in high school many years ago) and am now the proud owner of cute sheep pyjama pants, complete with pockets!

My first project - a sewing tool belt.  We had the choice of making a bag, an equipment roll or a tool belt.  I decided to make the belt and it is the best thing ever!  If you sew a lot, depending on how your sewing area is set up, you might like to make one of these.  It is just a rectangle of denim folded over, with a pocket attached.  I sewed dividing lines to help keep things separated and therefore easy to pull out when needed.  I added loops for a belt (easier for me than sewing a waist band!).
It has my scissors, snips, unpicker, tweezers, screwdriver, pins and tape measure - everything I need in a day's sewing.  It is great for keeping those things off my sewing desk and we move around a lot during class and wearing this means I have everything with me no matter if I am at the sewing machine, the overlocker or at the cutting tables.

A family outing

On Sunday the National Arboretum Canberra had an open day.  Last year it was great fun looking at all the different trees and imagining what the arboretum will look like in 20 years when the trees have grown, but this year we only had a quick look before we were engulfed by rain.

My favourite from the kite display.

About one minute before the rain arrived - Black Mountain Tower in the background.

A wet puppy in the back of the car (don't tell her I posted this, she would be terribly embarrassed!).

New vegetables

There is a definite chill in the air in Canberra, leaves on the deciduous trees are starting to turn yellow and orange and our garden is changing.

The zucchini plants are starting to die, the flowers on the tomatoes are easing, and the chooks are slowing down on egg production.  But other things are just coming into full swing.

Today's beautiful eggplants.

I've dug up half of our potato crop, the others are still waiting underground.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I can sew!

On Saturday I visited my local fabric shop to buy some lovely fabric and on Sunday I used some of my new sewing skills to make a bag.  I think it turned out quite well.  The coloured patches are sewn together to make a pocket.

An Autumn Garden

Our first (and only!) watermelon.  I forgot to take a photo of the inside - it was very pale pink, with lots of seeds, and it was very juicy. 

Our eggplants are about to reach peak production - so moussaka is on the menu for us next week!

I was going to leave our rhubarb plants to build up this year so we would have a big crop next year.  But they have sent up so many leaves that I decided to pick some.  I stewed it tonight with some of the apples we picked last weekend.  Lovely.
ps:  did you notice the stray Autumn leaf that came in from the garden?!

A new cake

This week I made a wonderfully delicious cake.  Chocolate, almond and cardamon.  I've never made it before, but I will definitely make it again.  It is beautiful and moist inside, with a crisp top and a lovely soft cardamon flavour.

Apple picking

We've driven to the NSW south coast a few times over the past few years, but we've never driven down in the Autumn.  So it was a wonderful surprise for us on the trip down a couple of weeks ago to see that there are lots of apple trees by the side of the road!  Zipping past in the car we could see lots of different types (based on the colours!).  So on the way home we stopped and picked a bagful.  The apples are blemished on the outside, but beautiful on the inside.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How many cakes can a cake lover eat in one weekend?

This trip I had the cookies'n'cream cheesecake and the lemon burst cake.  My husband had the Toblerone cheesecake and the chocolate ripple cake.   But as you can see - there are so many cakes we didn't get to try, so I guess that means we'll have to go to the coast again soon...!

The cake display at the Merimbula RSL.

Beachy keen

We spent this past weekend at the beach, staying at the same place we went to in November last year.  Tansy still didn't like the water at all and she avoided going anywhere near it.  But she loves exploring the rocks and the sand.  A wonderful time was had by all.

Tansy and her floppy ears sprinting across the sand.

Exploring the rocks.

Secure and cool in a ditch dug just for her.

We saw this lizard (or its sibling?) both mornings we went to the beach.


The number of zucchinis I picked yesterday.

The number of zucchinis from the Tromboncino vine.

Thank goodness we have the chooks converting them into eggs!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Wow, we have so many zucchini's we just don't know what to do with them.  We have been giving them away, eating them ourselves and giving them to the chooks.  The funny thing is - 95% of the zucchinis are coming from only one plant. 

Our Zucchini Tromboncino is highly prolific and we usually pick at least 4 every couple of days from that one plant.  Unfortunately the chooks don't like those zucchinis because they are all firm flesh and no seeds.  So the chooks don't eat the zucchinis, even if I cut them up.  Today I went through the fridge and pulled out all of the zucchinis that we haven't been able to get through.  The crisper section of our fridge was full of them!  I zapped the zucchinis through the food processor to grate them and gave the gratings to the chooks - they quite enjoyed scratching through the huge pile!


Hi all, sorry I have been so quiet since starting my very exciting course.  Sadly we have been getting a lot of homework and it takes forever to complete.  But I'll quickly share a couple of pieces of my work with you.

My first ever piece of felting.  We did this in Fibres class.  It was surprisingly quick and easy, so next time I see wool for sale I might buy some to try more felting.

My 'Colour Wheel' chart for Design class.  Our teacher asked us to be creative with the shapes.  So I went for a droplet shape.  I think it looks quite good (teacher hasn't seen it yet though!).

Next week I should have some sewing to show you (if it looks good enough!!).