Five good things to do in winter

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It is chilly-billy in Melbourne at the moment. Yes it is. The sky has been fluctuating between a threatening shade of dark grey and bursts of blue, and the wind is a-blowing. Am I cracking the sads? Not really because I think there are some pretty nice things to do on cold and blustery days!

Make bolognese Comfort food! I loved it when I was a little and I could smell onions sweating in the pan on the old St George stove. I’m sure my mum sweated onions for a multitude of dishes but I’ve always associated that aroma with bolognese. Now that I’m the one making it, I appreciate the ability to make double quantity and whack half in the freezer for the night I don’t want to cook, and that everyone in the fam likes it. There is some debate over the ratio of sauce to pasta. The females in the house favour more spaghetti, the men, more sauce. What do you like?

Wear tights So much warmer than jeans or pants, right? I think they can add a touch of colour, fun and quirkiness to a grey winter’s day. I’m probably a bit more conservative in the tights wearing department so I tend to go for something along these lines but these are beautiful. The only bum note about tights – what’s with the weird itchiness that sometimes appears out of nowhere on the back of the thighs? Is it the tights? Is it the chair? Is it just me?

Knit or crochet a blanket/scarf It’s about warmth on multiple levels. As it grows, it warms your legs and your hands as you’re click-clacking or hooking away, you end up with a lovely, warming finished product from your hours of labour, and if you’ve made it as a gift for a friend or charity, it warms the cockles of your heart to present it to someone else. Wins all round I say! There are lots of lovely patterns on Ravelry and Love Knitting or you could be creative and make up your own pattern. And before you can make your woolly project, you need to visit the wool shop which is niceness in itself!

Binge watch Pride and Prejudice When this came out 20 years ago (eek!), I remember hearing a radio host saying she watched the whole six hours in one go and I scoffed ‘as if you’d do that!’. Yep, that’ll teach me! I loved it when it came out and I love it still. I was pregnant when it was shown on Sunday nights on the ABC and I had ‘Eliza’ pegged as a name for my possible girl baby. I scratched it because I was convinced that everyone else would be as enamoured with ‘Miss Eliza Bennet’ as I was and that school playgrounds would be filled with Elizas! Turned out not to be the case, and also turned out to be a boy so I had no need to worry! But all these years later, he doesn’t mind a bit of P&P and my girl (not named ‘Eliza’!) loves it too! And because my mother told me you can watch TV as long as you are doing something else, I can binge as long as I’m making that scarf or blanket!

Go for a walk I remember reading an article about playtime in Finnish schools and a teacher declaring that the weather is never too cold, it is simply that you are wearing the wrong clothes. So pop on the hat, scarf, gloves and coat and pound the pavement. It will get the blood flowing and warm you up. And surely having done a bit of exercise it’s then perfectly okay to sit down in front of telly with a bowl of bolognese or some making?

What are your winter tips? Do you have an excellent slow cooked meal? Bingeworthy telly? A favourite way to keep warm?

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Clickety clack

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If you’ve been reading along for a little while, you’ll know that I do love a bit of knitting and crocheting. Usually I’m clacking or hooking away at items I can donate to charity, but I have a couple of things on the go at the moment just for me. Yay!

We are heading away for a couple of weeks at the end of the year to New York – eep! – so I have decided I need a multitude of scarves and cowls. I loved looking through all the gorgeous wools on the Bendigo Woollen Mills website. So many delicious colours but I decided to opt for ‘raffia’. It’s practical and neutral and will coordinate with  most clothing options, such as I have! I’m using this pattern. Must say I do rather like Tante Ehm’s designs so may try out another one too! Head over here if you want to have a look at some lovely, cosy woolliness!

And how vibrant is this green wool? I love it! I’m going to use it to make this scarf. So many fab patterns from Wool and the Gang.

Do you have anything on your needles or hook at the moment? Yay for cold winters so we can wear scarves and cowls!

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Long weekend niceness

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Long weekends are lovely, aren’t they? Even though the school term has only just resumed, the pace has been pretty hectic in our house so by the time last Friday rolled around I was exceedingly happy to have an extra day without the school/work/uni routine. These are some of the nice things from the weekend.

  • seeing Lady in the Van with my movie buddy and then a delicious lunch at Arthur Radley. That Maggie Smith is pretty good on the acting front, don’t you think?
  • pizza, wine and Veep with the family on Friday night
  • a walk by the Yarra from Kew to Abbotsford via the Collingwood Children’s Farm
  • seeing Steph and Martin getting married under the beautiful oak tree, surrounded by flowers, bubbly and their nearest and dearest on a glorious autumn day. I don’t know Steph and Martin but I hope they have a beautifully happy life together! They seemed to be having a beautifully happy wedding!
  • collage! AGES since I’ve done one of these so it was nice to spend some time flipping through old magazines gathering inspiration for a ‘yellow’ themed collage
  • knitting squares from my ever growing pile of scrappy bits of wool to donate to a charity blanket project
  • finding this cowl pattern so I can make something snugly for myself for the winter

How was your weekend? Was it a long one? Or was it just an ordinary one but filled with happy things? I hope it was nice and that the niceness has created warm and fuzzy memories.

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I’m making a list…

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Are you making lots of lists at the moment? I’m compiling a few. There’s the present list, of course, but there’s also the Christmas card list, the food list, the drinks list, the crockery and cutlery list, the Christmas Day running sheet. They’re very functional lists, aren’t they? I want to make a fun list! So in that spirit, here’s a little list of things I’d like to do over the Christmas/holiday season.

Hmm, I wonder how many of these I’ll actually get to do? I know I’ll also want to have some lazy days at home chilling in the back garden and watching the tennis on the telly.  It would be nice to have weekend away with my man too. Aah, the joy of having kids who no longer need babysitters and who can drive themselves wherever they need to be! Have you thought about LAC (life after Christmas) yet? What is on your list of enjoyable things to do?

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One + Four = Life: happy things

Hello lovelies. How are we all going? I was a bit flat last Sunday. My planned ‘expected and unexpected’ post took on its own unexpected gravity with the events that unfolded in Paris, and my learning of some distressing ‘life has just been turned upside down’ news for a local family. Anyway, I’ve had a couple of days to digest all of that and now I’d like to share some of the nice things from last week.

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Finished my knitting! These two little guys are now with kogo for distribution as part of its Christmas Angel project. This year the goodies are being given to children of women living in women’s refuges. I hope they bring a smile to the faces of two little people.

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Last Tuesday night one of my friends texted me ‘I have two tickets to Stephen Fry for tomorrow night that I can’t use. Would you like them?’ YES, YES, YES PLEASE! I met my man in the city after he’d finished work and we had a quick bite to eat at Teatro overlooking the Yarra before heading up to Hamer Hall. Well, Stephen Fry was excellent. He spoke about his childhood and multiple expulsions from school, serving time in prison, his love for Oscar Wilde and his collaborations with his Cambridge friends. I find it quite remarkable that someone can speak on stage for just under two hours, no notes, no interval and keep an audience completely entertained.

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Friday was movie day. My buddy and I headed off to see The Dressmaker. It was pretty good. It reminded me a bit of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with its fantastic, glamorous costumes set against the dry and dusty Australian outback, and its collection of quirky characters. Judy Davis was excellent. She had some great lines and her use of voice and facial expression was spot on. Our only quibble was that we thought Liam Hemsworth looked too young to play a contemporary of Kate Winslet’s character. Seemed a bit ridiculous to hear him uttering the line ‘Tilly Dunnage. I haven’t seen her since she was a girl!’ Anyway, Kate was very fortunate to have him cast as her love interest!

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I was out and about on Saturday when I spied this newly opened vintage shop on the main road near home. Did a quick loop around, grabbed a park and popped inside. Had a lovely time looking at the collection of Enid Blyton books, vintage cameras, fuzzy felt and some rather groovy strap on roller skates just like the ones I received from Santa when I was 8 or 9! I may have walked out with a lovely plate and bowl…

So there we have it! The nice things that happened. I hope you have nice things happen to you this week too. Maybe you will see a movie? Or perhaps there’ll be a new shop discovery for you?

If you want to see what others have been up to, head over to Isabel’s blog.

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One + Four = Life: and breathe…

Phew! Made it to Sunday! My brain has been a bit distracted this week. ‘Twas my girl’s performance exam on Friday and we were all a bit tense in the lead up. So much work, so much rehearsing and it all comes down to how you go in that five minutes on one day. Anyhoo, all went fine, the pressure valve released and I finally regained enough mojo to actually find four photo worthy moments in the week. Was looking for a while like it might be four photos of me rocking in the foetal position!

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We headed to Wheel & Barrow seeking some last minute props and the girl spied a waffle iron. Always a fan of ‘fun food’, she asked if we could buy it and thus have yummy afternoon teas. In the interests of maintaining a smooth exam week, said waffle iron was purchased and I made waffles the next day for an after school snack. I used this recipe and they worked out pretty well! Crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle! Well done, Mumma!image

Having finished my granny square blanket, I needed a new project. With the weather warming up and Christmas approaching (eek!), I decided to opt for a teddy bear. I’m using this pattern. It’s pretty quick to put together. It will either head to kogo for its Christmas Angel project or Softies for Mirabel, the brainchild of the fabulous Pip Lincolne. Perhaps I’ll make a couple to share the love? Do you like donating things at Christmas? Are you are maker of pressies or a buyer?image

I finished reading Leap a couple of weeks ago. I wrote a review of it here. You might like to have a squiz and see if this sounds like a book you may be interested reading. Have you read anything good lately?

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I am not a fan of gardening but come this time of year, when the sun starts to shine and reading outdoors becomes enticing, the prospect of sitting in a weedy, overgrown garden compels me to don the gardening gloves and have a bit of a tidy up. And I’ve been feeling a bit shamed by my Mum saying to me recently ‘Dad and I would like to come and help you in the garden’. I really think as a 45 year old woman I should be taking responsibility for this myself! They’re away at the moment, so they’ll receive a nice surprise when they get home! Do you still feel shamed into things by your parents?

Hope your week has been a relaxed one. Do you get tense when your kids have exams? Should I just learn to take a chill pill? If you’d like to see what others have been up to this week, pop over to Isabel’s blog.

Embracing the cool


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Last week saw our return from sunny Port Douglas to chilly Melbourne.  I neglected to take any knitting or crocheting away with me, fearing it would be too warm to work with wool, but is this ever really the case?  I did miss it! Having finished my blanket for Knit One Give One (kogo), a trip to Spotlight was required to source wool for my next project – a scarf using this pattern.  I found kogo a few years ago and it is perfect for me.  I really like knitting and I hate to think of people being cold but there are so many different charities out there who would I knit for?  Kogo distributes our knitted goodies to various organisations – refuges, hospitals, women’s centres – wherever the need is greatest and so whatever I knit I know is being received and used by someone in need.

I started reading The Mothers by Rod Jones on the plane on our flight back from Cairns.  This is a great book!  Its exploration of the changing attitudes of society to unwed mothers pulls at the heartstrings.  And, of course, where there are mothers, there are also children and this book looks at their lives as well.  An added bonus for me is that the novel is set in Melbourne so it was fabulous to be able to picture the local references and to learn a little of what Melbourne was like in the early and mid twentieth century. I saw the streets of Footscray in the 1920s, drove through Brunswick in the days my mum was living there and visited Gertrude Street before it was gentrified.  The fact that the book is semi-autobiographical gives it authenticity in its examination of a highly emotional issue.

And in between knitting and reading there has been helping H with job applications – such a laborious task! – and P with swotting up for her learner’s test – which she passed, yay!, meals have been cooked, treats have been baked, and ironing has been ploughed through!  Because life is full of ordinary stuff!