Birthday Table

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The surprise we were hatching for my sister's birthday was this - a beautiful table on the verandah of our house in South Australia for a Birthday afternoon tea. It was so much fun to make and made Elle's 21st birthday extra special.
We made all the decorations a week before her birthday and then set it up on the verandah while Elle was out buying food for Christmas lunch.
I love the way the colours we chose complemented the colours of the bush behind. The trees were the perfect backdrop for our circular fans and paper garlands.

More green on the table with a straw table runner and some Green Apples bought from the market the day before. Little touches of pink in the flowers added a touch of colour - perfect.



Yummy food, yummy wine, good weather and, of course, family.
A lovely Christmas by all accounts.

I'm taking a few days off and heading down to the Falls music festival. Wishing everyone a lovely and peaceful 2010.

My Nephew

Hello Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, or at least, a lovely long weekend. I'm back after a week in South Australia with my family. Lots of good food and wonderful company. More stories to come. But I couldn't resist posting this photo. Look how my nephew is sleeping these days. Yep - with swimming goggles. Hilarious!


Plum Pudding

I love Plum Pudding. This is a little odd, because mostly I don't like fruit cakes or fruit puddings or anything that has orange rind and sultanas cooked into it. But I love the tradition that goes with pudding.
Most years my Mum makes one and everyone stirs the mixture once, making a wish for the new year. I'm not quite sure why Jane is so grumpy in this photo - but it's one of the few that we have of all four girls mixing the pudding and making their wishes.

I'm pleased to say that the tradition is not dying out - this year the next generation learnt about stiring the pudding and making a wish for the new year.
But some of the best traditions are on Christmas day. The pudding is brought to the table with a halo of purple flames, having been doused in hot Brandy. Charles Dickens even has something to say about plum pudding in A Christmas Carol.

"Mrs Cratchit left the room alone -- too nervous to bear witnesses -- to take the pudding up and bring it in... Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered -- flushed, but smiling proudly -- with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top."
Found on Wiki.
Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you have a great couple of days and I'll see you all on the other side of the New Year!


Christmas Baby

Christmas Day, 1988
21 years ago today my little sister, Ellen, was born. Over the past 21 years she has grown into one of the most loveliest people that I know. She is kind and compassionate, diplomatic and yet always genuine. She is a wonderful little sister. She also says funny things like "I am fried chickening" when what she really means is "I feel incredibly stressed" and calls the Esplanade, and "esPLanDe" (french style).
24th December, circa 2000

Being a 'Christmas Baby' must be tough and despite our family trying to keep Elle's Birthday and Christmas separate, Christmas traditions still snuck in - her Birthday cake was always a 'Bush de Noel', a french Christmas Log.

Happy 21st Elle! Hope you enjoy the surprises that we have in store for you...


Swallowtail Shawl

The Swallowtail Shawl has been my consistent friend for the last two months. I've done a few other small Christmas gifting knits, but this has been the big one. Most days while I was in Berlin I would sit down, turn on my audiobook of "Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens and listen to a chapter or two while I knit up a few more lines.
I really enjoyed knitting this one, I even enjoyed the nupps and was delighted when as I blocked the shawl the lace pattern came to life. I used Pepperknits suggestion for the nupps of purling 3 together and then psso the other 2 stitches. Made the nupps so much more manageable. My only gripe is that the shawl is really too small. I knew this going in and considered increasing the pattern, but that looked too complicated when it came to getting the stitch count correct for the border.
What: Swallowtail Shawl
Yarn: Cotton/Bamboo Blend
Neeldes: 4mm
Comments: The pattern is great and very easy to follow. For the nupps instead of purling 5tog, I purled 3tog then psso for remaining two - worked a treat! It also got a stern blocking.


Small Gifts

Two quick simple gifts for the stocking. Both of these two just a few hours to make and while the owl brooch was a little fiddly, it was quick to do.
This was a great way to use up some very small scraps of yarn that I had lying around and using needles a few sizes smaller than I otherwise would made nice tight little owls of different sizes. The pattern is from Ysolda, based on Needled original Owl jumper design. It's incredibly simple - just a couple of cables creating the folds for feet and eyes.
This crochet brooch comes with no pattern, it's just a couple of simple crochet stitches that I was experimenting with. I reckon it might look good on a cardigan or bag or something similar.


Feet Warmers

I made a pair of these last year and have worn them almost every day since. They are perfect for keeping your feet warm on cold floorboards and also keeping them warm on couches while watching movies and, occasionally, keeping your feet warm in bed. They are well, good at keeping your feet warm. They look a little granny-like, but the comfort more than makes up for it. And, at about 1/2 a skein of wool they are perfect for using up left-over wool from bigger projects.

These ones are destined for someone's Christmas stocking.

Yarn: From my stash
Needles: 4mm double pointed


Last minute...

Everything has gone a bit topsey-turvey around here. Last minute gift-buying, present wrapping and then packing up the house for our Christmas/New Year holiday in South Australia. Phew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.


Hot Nights

You know it's hot when the thermometer is reading 29 degrees (84 Fahrenheit) at 11pm. I've got the windows open hoping that the cool change will arrive and I'm lying on wet towels to keep me cool. First really hot day of the season - must be almost Christmas time!


Off the Needles

I finished this cardigan months ago and then diligently sent if off to my sister without taking any photos. I knitted up the 6 month size, and at 9 weeks it's only a little bit too big for him. Little Otto is quickly growing into a big boy!

Unfortunately I can't remember the pattern now - it's essentially a simple cross-over cardigan knit with Cotton/Bamboo (good when you live in hot climates). The multi-coloured yarn is from my stash. I can't remember where or when I bought it, or even what it was called. Which is a shame, because I love it and would like some more!


This Weekend

Posting about the weekend on a Tuesday - whoops. But such a busy weekend up at the farm!
The grass got cut around the house to stop seeds and burs ending up in ears and paws.
The dams are almost full after 60mm of rain in the last three weeks. Good news going into summer!
While the grass was getting cut and the fruit trees were staked and netted, Christmas cooking was going on in the kitchenAfter a day of cooking and pruning and staking and netting we all showered and dressed and headed into Castlemaine for dinner at the Empyre Hotel.
White and Green asparagus entree, followed by Angus beef and potatoes dauphinois - yum, yum, yum!
On Sunday we decorated the tree...We took the old steam train from Maldon to Castlemaine for morning tea and learnt about soot and engines and other fun stuff.
And we finished off the weekend with all tasks achieved (including the Blundstone and Toothbrush audit - 6 toothbrushes unclaimed, all Blundstones accounted for) and a delicious Lamb Roast with a game of Cranium thrown in.



Look who I had lunch with today!
These two little ladies were an absolute delight to spend a few hours with this afternoon. When I left Australia they were still chickens waiting to hatch. Lots of cuddles and Audrey was even kind enough to nap in her Pusher so we could all enjoy a coffee.


I hate my profile. Really. Other than having longer legs it's probably the thing that I would most like changed about me. Whenever I see photos where there's a side shot of me I'm always slightly surprised and horrified - "Really, that's me?"
When I first started dating Matthias I was surprised when I found out that he loved my profile. Really, truly. So, although corny and a little silly, I made him an old-fashioned shadow image of us for Christmas. The frame I ended up buying isn't quite right - I think I might change it - so no finished shot. But it's really easy to do, you just need to find a good profile shot (easier said than done).
I blew the images up and increased the contrast using my photo editor before printing them out. Then trace the image onto some grease-proof paper, attach the grease-proof paper to some good quality card and then cut around the image.
Presto! Your very own image in profile!

And in case you're wondering - I changed the photo that I used for my shot, not having a full head profile shot makes it difficult. I ended up tracing and imagine directly off my computer screen onto grease-proof paper.



I woke up this morning to hear rain on the roof. It was the sound of rain from my childhood and I was momentarily disorientated until I remembered that I was, in fact, lying in my old bedroom, listening to the rain on the roof at my parent's house. It's nice to be home.
But before I get totally distracted by Australia, I'm whizzing back to last Wednesday and our lovely Christmas dinner. I made more Origami Stars, bought some Advent candles and decorated the table very simply (but oh so Christmas!) for a delicious feast of prawns and roast chicken. Although a little early, it was so nice to sit down and properly enjoy our new table and new apartment together. We'd been so busy with constructing Ikea wardrobes and buying essentials before I left that we'd forgotten to stop and appreciate its loveliness together. So we did, and it was great.

Blogging will resume... soon

I lost internet access in Berlin and then spent most of the week constructing Ikea wardrobes.
And then... on Saturday evening I boarded a flight which arrived in Melbourne this morning.
Not much sleep was had on the plane.
I'm exhausted.
More later when I'm feeling more coherent.


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Christmas Decorations

Neither Matthias or I will be in Berlin this Christmas and with me leaving for Australia on Saturday (!) we're celebrating a small Berlin Christmas together tomorrow. I decided the best bet for decorations would be something simple...

While we were at the Mauer Flohmarkt on Saturday I found these really cute "Christmas Decorations", which were essentially thrown in with the pots and pans that we bought. The vase was also a Flohmarkt find. I really love the little wooden eggs, but I've since been told that they're Easter and not Christmas decorations. But no matter - I like our little 'tree'.
Then for a bit more of a festive feel, yesterday I made these Oragami Stars using this tutorial. They're really easy once you get the hang of it. I still have a bit of red paper left and am thinking about making a few more.
I especially love the shadow they cast on the wall when the lights are on at night. So pretty!