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Friday
Aug292014

Friday sing-a-long

Thursday
Aug282014

On the needles

A little while ago, we started a knitting group at work. Each Thursday me and a group of knitting colleagues spend our lunch hour knitting in a lovely space on the top floor of our building at the University.

It’s so nice to have a craft break in the work-day and to see the progress of everyone’s work. We’re all at different levels of expertise and it’s a really encouraging group.

I’ve always got a few projects on the go - a side effect for someone who never finishes anything is that I’m always starting something. So my fox’s torso has been in my knitting basket for months since I cast off. I’ve had a burst of energy to get her more complete, after buying eyes and noses from Spotlight last week. Her face is on board and she’s looking more like a project that’s nearly finished.

Rough knitting and whip stitching but practice’ll make for better technique. But what a face that nose makes - just like a real one!

One more arm and two legs and she’ll be done. She’s a rough fox though as she’s the first toy project and first ‘in the round’ knitting I’ve done. I’d like to do more toys to get better at it, but my rough fox is already a beloved toy from a granddaughter who keeps stealing her unfinished body from the knitting basket.

This fox ought to have a pedometer for the number of miles she’s travelled in this basket.

Speaking of starting things, I bought instructions and materials for making a needle book at The Ribbon Rose the other day. I haven’t done embroidery-type craft in about 20 years and this project is right in my craft wheelhouse as it incorporates simple patchwork, machine quilting, and embroidery. 

Great project to dig out my vintage Debbie Mumm patchwork material.While this needle book is typically for notions used in embroidery, I hope to alter it enough to be able to keep my future sock knitting needles organised. I don’t own any yet, but have some on order with a sock knitting kit from Stray Cat Socks - yes, another project about to kick off.

What was really nice was discovering this brand of hand dyed thread for embroidery. The colours are deliciously subtly incosistent so makes for a vintage or earthy look to the finished stitch. I was really pleased that The Ribbon Rose stocked the recommended brand my gnome project called for - made it a one-stop-shop for getting this project off the ground.

Weeks Dye Works embroidery floss

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Wednesday
Aug272014

Wednes Day Links

Try some new knitting blogs and podcasts

Tuesday
Aug262014

Today was Tuesday 

It came after Monday, before Wednesday and now it’s nearly done. Tuesday. This week you were an annoying little shit for nearly everyone I encountered. Normally resilient, steady folk seemed unusually rattled; silly mistakes where made; patience was tested; relationships stretched. Across the work-day Tuesday seemed to be a bit over cooked and I’m pretty glad we’re almost through it.

Okay so it wasn’t the worst day I’ve ever had at work, not even half as bad, but annoying because I didn’t do something very well and ended up with a bit of a mess to sort out.

Tuesday is usually my favourite day. Work is underway and still have the week stretching out with all the possibilities of getting through the mountain of work that keeps piling onto my plate. I pretty much like everything on my plate there’s just so.much.of.it. It’s not Monday which can sometimes be a bit like trying to start an old car on a cold morning. It’s not Wednesday which is so deep in the week neither weekend is in view - a bit like being in the doldrums with only faint hope that the we’ll even make it.

I’ve been alive for 2,695 Tuesdays so I guess having one not-so-good once-in-a-while is okay. How’d yours go?

Sunday
Aug242014

Sunday Bunnies

This is how I find these five bunnies most morning, snuggled up in the sun streaming into their hutch, quietly snoozing and grooming each other. Great way to start the day in your bunny family.Abby (right) has been very aggressive to all the bunnies until she took the two dwarf bunnies under her ear. Here she is sharing breakfast with wee Rosie. It’s so nice to see this four bunny family (Ritchie and Pepper being the rest of the family) take shape.Pepper snoozing on top of Rosie in the doorway of their hutch. These photos don’t show how small, compared to the other bunnies, these two are. But they’re dwarf rabbits and super cute. They were found living on a local soccer field and now they live with me.Pepper is an adventurous bunny. She likes to, and can easily, get out of any of the pens - hopping up over fences and compost bins, squeezing through fences and visiting the neighbours. She always comes home though so I hardly stress about it anymore.About the only thing that got the bunnies out from their snoozing this morning was a bunch of fresh silverbeet. Love how Snowflake (first daughter) has to keep her eyes closed because the sun was so bright this morning. Charlie in the middle and gets first pickings of most meals because he’s the dad, and black-and-white Mops is his other daughter.

Summer is the friendliest of the bunnies. She’s a Flemish Giant and likes to live inside. I like to keep her inside too but she destroyed all the cables behind the television so until I bunnyproof the living room, she’s outside in her own, expansive compound. She, like all the other bunnies, loves silverbeet for breakfast.

Dinner time

Charlies’ girls - pellet time is happy time

Mops

Summer

Richie’s girls - my grey-scale family

Saturday
Aug162014

Maple Russian Fudge

Maple Russian Fudge

For someone who has “quit sugar” the desire for sweetness is rare these days. Last night though, I had a strong idea that Russian Fudge was what I was hankering for. At least this type of sweet craving means I need to get up, create the food, wait for it to cool before getting to eat it. Is that slightly better than just buying a block of chocolate and over eating that? Probably not in the scheme of the Universe but at the micro-level of the distance between my couch and the stove it seemed to count for a lot.

I Googled for a Russian Fudge recipe and landed on Chelsea Sugar’s version. The butter was already melting into the mountain of sugar in the saucepan before I realised there wasn’t any Golden Syrup in the pantry. Another side effect of the low-to-no sugar lifestyle means sweet staples aren’t replaced as they run out. What to do, what to do?

So this is how I changed the recipe to still statisfy my craving and it turned out great. If you try it, I hope it works great for you too.

NOTE: Don’t rush, no kids around, be prepared - sugar melts at a high temperature and burns human skin with ferocity. Use all the Cautions and Carefuls.

Equipment:

  • Candy themometer
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (add before beating)
  • 20cm square cake tin
  • Electric hand beater

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups sugar
  • 123 g butter
  • 0.5 cup milk
  • 100 g Condensed Milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt

Steps:

  1. Grease cake tin with butter. 
  2. Grind a light-medium sprinkle of salt into the bottom of the cake tin.
  3. Put a heavy bottomed saucepan on a medium heat.
  4. Add and melt together the sugar, butter, milk, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt to the saucepan.
  5. Gently bring to the boil and add candy thermometre.
  6. Stir continuously until the thermometer reads 120 degrees Celcius - the soft ball stage.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer saucepan to heat proof surface (wooden chopping board is best)
  8. Leave for five minutes to cool down slightly before stirring in the vanilla.
  9. Using the electric hand beater, mix until mixture looks creamy and thick and has lost some of its gloss.
  10. Pour into prepared cake tin and leave on chopping board to slowly cool.

These cubes of caramelly sugar really do hit the spot

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Friday
Aug152014

Sing-along-Friday

I love this cover of Alicia Key’s If I Ain’t Got You

Original version