a walk in the park

SpcI took this picture a few weeks ago, late in the afternoon on the way home from a walk in the park with Grace. In hindsight, this was the last week before winter really settled into greyness. We're having a damp, cold winter. There are floods some parts of the the country and cautious talk that maybe we might be moving to a La Nina weather pattern, which might signal the beginning of wetter conditions and the end of the drought. For some reason, I'm finding this winter much harder than last. I'm trying not to, but I am. It feels a bit wimpy when you consider that winter isn't really that harsh here. We get fog and frost but not snow (except on some mountains about an hour and a half away by car). Days are short, as in it gets dark around half past five, but there's often good strong light in the middle of the day. Some days it's even quite sunny with lovely blue skies. Often enough though, it's just grey and all I want to do is stay inside by the heater. Maybe it's natural to turn inward during winter, a natural low point in the calender.

Lots of things are going to change over the next year (funny how I often think of the year in terms of the financial year, but it kind of makes sense to me to start the new year after the winter solstice). I've committed to increasing my hours at work from next week. Not quite full time yet, but close enough. Four longish days most weeks, a three day week every month. This was something I was dreading but now I think I might actually enjoy it. I work with some pretty decent people and the work, although hard at times (especially when you're a bum on a seat like I am) is rewarding. Sometimes I get to make a difference and I like that. Not to mention the money, which is also pretty useful. I worry about how I'm going to fit everything in, but I guess I'll just have to do less of some things. There'll still be plenty of time for going to the park.

I had intended to write about how important the park near our house had become in our life, along with how much I love this row of gum trees but you can see that here. And see more environments here. And it's mostly summer over on that side of the internet, which I find strangely cheering. 


seeing red

We've just had the shortest day of the year and like I probably wrote the other day, my moods have been in the pits. Again. It's not really anything I can immediately do much about; work stuff, life stuff, winter. I feel a bit restless and reckless and like going out alot. So I have, we have. To the nursery yesterday with Mum to buy fruit trees and chase Grace around. And watch her overcome her fear of those enclosed tube slides. She was sitting up the top saying, hand, hand because often I hold her hand at the top of the big slide. I couldn't reach her but I did think, oh the light in here is lovely and went to get my camera. It took a while before she was ready to come down all by herself and then she kept going again, and again, and again.

Then we had lunch at the cafe overlooking the river and it was really rather pleasant. I took some pictures in the carpark. When I downloaded my photos, I noticed a red theme happening. Which is probably a reaction to the greyness of the weather we've been having. Or maybe it's to do with my mood, and the wine I feel like drinking.

Last night we went out for dinner and I had three whole glasses of wine and made G change the poopy nappy because I always (always) do it when we're out. The wine and company made me stand my ground this time. Grace was pretty good, well apart from the bit when she hit the other little girl over the head with a toy helicopter. Hard. So we had to do time out on the couch. Luckily the other mother was pragmatic about it all, despite her howling child. I had a really lovely time and didn't want to leave. Grace ended up staying up till ten, which is a first, and we've paid for it a bit today. We went out again for a friend's birthday drinks this afternoon and Grace loved exploring and displaying a new a sense of possesivness over her toys. No hitting though, thankfully. Again I could have stayed a lot longer. Oh well. At least we went.

And I got some sewing done, and some crochet in front of the telly. And washed the stroller and my ugg boots, both of which were absolutely feral.

And tonight I put the recipe for this red soup here

friday night food meme

At the moment in the car I'm listening to Greendale (Neil Young), someday, you'll find everything you're looking for... It's a good thing I can't really talk about work or certain other aspects of my life here. It's been a beastly week on so many levels. One day I'm going to write, everything is going really, really well. I am. And I will mean it. But anyway, eating is good. Perhaps too good. 

Tonight's meme is about food. From Kerryn.

What are your favourite foods?
Cherries, dark and slightly tangy with a touch of resistance to the bite. Chocolate. Biting and creamy lemon curd tart. Cold rice pudding with sultanas and mixed spice, the day after with cream. Really good sourdough bread with a thick crust (Natural Tucker casalinga still a bit warm from the oven comes to mind). Sour crunchy dill pickles. Excellent yellow peaches. Mid-loin lamb chops barbequed over the fire and eaten in your hands with a smidgen of garlic yoghurt dressing and some bread cooked on the griddle. Soup. I like making soup. Lentil and barley which I could eat several times a week. And new creations like the standard red lentil and sweet potato soup with a beetroot from the garden to add an earthy undertone and the best colour.

What foods do you hate?
Boarding school cuisine of lumpy custard and watery gravy. Crap white bread. Packet pasta with lots of numbers. Deb instant mash, especially the way my sister used to make it as a child, watery and with lumps and serve with frozen peas and some grilled meat. (She's a good cook now, but some of the food we ate as kids...ugh shudder).  Disappointing cakes that look great but once you bite into them you realise it's all commercial flavours and cheap vegetable shortening. Apples that have been in storage for years, on the shelves for weeks and smell musty and taste like paste. Creme caramel and most baked or egg custards. Except lemon curd and lemon tart which when they are good, I adore and custard tart which is OK.

Foods you like but are embarrassed to admit:
Packet custard. In some moods I'll eat maccas (mcdonalds) but it's never as good as I think it will be and always sits badly. Snowballs. Chinese food from food courts, or from one particular food court.

Strangest food you’ve eaten and enjoyed?
Can't think really. I don't go out of my way to eat strange things.

Cooking failures that still rankle?
My aunt's sixtieth birthday cake. Too big, with texture like pudding and icing that wouldn't stop running. I so wanted to get it right and everyone was so nice when I didn't. The sago plum pudding with the undissolved sago about ten years ago. A family Christmas and that was when we had the cafe so expectation was high. And the brandy spilt in the back of the car on the way over. Then there was the first ever function we did at the cafe. In my naivete, I thought we could just offer the normal menu. It was an utter disaster. And it was people I knew from a job I had the summer before, where a couple of other friends worked. After the last meal had been served, I went into the storeroom and had a cry, only to be comforted by a man I had a crush on but who I had just realised was married to someone in that office. That's a whole other story... but oh the humiliation.   

Ingredients you don’t want to consider living without?
Butter. Olive oil (remember life before olive oil?). Salt. Yeast. Sugar. Flour. Eggs. With these things I can make almost anything with whatever else is around.

Highly desirable; parsley and other herbs from the garden. Garlic, pepper, lemons. Tinned beans and tomatoes. Cheese. Fresh fruit.

Current kitchen conundrum?
I need some new staple dinners. And some new ones for G to cook too. Oh and remembering to unplug the toaster. Because in a flash Grace is up there playing at making toast and seeing what happens when you stick a knife in there. Other than that she's quite good in the kitchen, she loves to help make her breakfast. She's a dab hand with sandwiches too. And baking. And helping herself from the fridge which I'm in several minds about. We're re-thinking the policy on that one. It's her house too and at some stage she should be able to help herself to a drink or snack but not endless jam sandwiches, orange juice and ham. As would be her choice now. Notice that we're eating supermarket bread too, thats something that's sort of snuck in, under the radar so to speak.

Cuisine you’d like to know more about?
I'd like to be able to cook a good vegetarian curry and a lentil dahl. Previous attempts have been woeful. I can do a good fish in coconut milk but that's not very useful when you live with a vego.

Foods you’ve hated but have grown to love?
Anchovies. Chillies. Bitter lettuce.

whiskers on kittens

My last opshop finds, photographed in sunshine which seems a distant memory, even though we are getting little bursts here and there. I miss opshopping, I'm yearning for some good opshopping action. Not that I miss the stuff I buy all that much, but I miss being in opshops and the calm space of going through a box of odds and ends at my leisure. Although I have to say, I'm a bit taken by my last purchases. From a quick trip to Savers, with Grace in tow, walking or should I say, running around and finding all sorts of things to pull out. Not really all that restful.

Anyway, it plays Lara's theme. And still had the box, which I found on another shelf. I love it when I find the original packaging for stuff like this. So much more thrilling. Almost like new, and yet old, all at the same time. I have fond memories of having a music box just like this when I was a girl and thought Grace might enjoy it now, and she did. Especially pulling the ballerina off the spike and putting it in her mouth. So it's living on the high shelf above my computer desk, along with a few other fragile oppy finds until she's old enough not to destroy it within the first five minutes. And, of course, until she's old enough not to hurt herself with it either.

I'm not sure about the material. It was an impulse buy. Yellow isn't really my colour and I'm not sure whether it's seventies or a more recent knockoff. Not that that should matter. And I'm not sure what I would make out of it but sometimes buying material just for the sake of having it is cheering. Maybe it will become one of those pieces that I pull out of my cupboard every year, touch and look at before putting back in the cupboard. Which in itself is quite satisfying.

meet me in melbourne, the debrief

Where to start? The weather maybe, could it have been any worse? I guess it could have, but as Sooz, Wil and I mooched up to the appointed meeting place, I really wondered if anyone else was going to turn up because, myself, I was really starting to doubt the wisdom of leaving the house and the heater. And yet several minutes later we were joined by Lazy Cow and Stompergirl. Shortly followed by Miss Eagle, Girl Printer and Clementine's Shoes. My phone went and I explained that yes, we were sitting in the park. Shortly thereafter we were joined by TurningJapanese and Friperee. Containers of treats were produced and conversations covered crochet, blogging, photos, idleness, knitting, craft and many other things.  It also began to feel like we were sitting in a cloud. We adjourned to the food court. Thankfully. Cameras were produced and as I was trying to set up a self timer shot (really hard because the LCD screen on my camera now only shows upside down) a fellow food court patron offered to take our picture.

Is Wil the cutest baby? He is such a charmer and has the most wicked smile which he was most generous with.  Yes, it was a bit nerve wracking at first. I'm prone to pre-party jitters and did wonder afterwards if I may have put my foot in it a couple of times. Especially as conversations went in all directions and never quite got finished. But that's life, hey. And it was fun, yes indeed.

I know that Stompergirl , Clementine's Shoes sand Miss Eagle have also posted pictures and/or a re-cap. Lovely to meet you all! 

rugging up

SpcI think we're set for a pretty cold winter by Melbourne standards. Already I've had to wash ice off the car before setting out for work. The heaters are going even during the day and I've pulled my thermals out. We've had lots of cold grey looking days and quite a bit of fog. It really doesn't do much for my mood but I'm trying to see the good side. Like maybe snow melt from the hills around the water catchment filling the water storages. And the is garden looking green and lush with new plants and weeds sprouting everywhere. Although I think we'll be seeing the brown of frost damage soon.

In this portrait I'm standing in the garden trying to model one of the jumpers I refashioned last week. Basically it's the same jumper I was wearing in the last spc with parts of another jumper added to the bottom and to the sleeves. The pocket and neck are from yet another jumper that I cut up last year to make a hat and scarf.  As I tend to wash these old jumpers in the machine, they shrink and felt, but all joined up like this they are stupendously warm. I intended for this one to be for just round home, but I did wear it to the supermarket the other day and it occured to me that one day Grace may find me unbelievably embarassing. Or maybe she'll learn to take scissors and needle to her own clothes.

Other aspects of my environment here are the remanants of the garden folly to the left and assorted pieces of decorative junk to the right. With the next door neighbour's house in the background behind the tree. And of course, the garden all around. Check out other environments here.

five things

I was going to do Kerryn's food meme, but I don't think I can write at length about food tonight. I've been feeling a bit liverish. As though my gallbladder is going to play up. Which could be due to the chat I had with my doctor this afternoon. Or it could have something to do some dodgy food choices today. Like the burek at Barkly Square for lunch. Lovely bread on the outside but the meat filling was not great. Normally it's a reliable choice, unlike the chicken burek (yech). It hasn't sat well. And neither did the caramel slice for afternoon tea. Luckily G went over to a friends house to watch the footy (go blues) and I got out of cooking dinner. I reheated some soothing lentil and barley soup and had a crochet while watching a dvd (the sorpranos).

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Lots of things to do,lots of things to organise and think about. I'm increasing my hours at work to four days a week. My resentment of this and some other less than pleasurable feelings keep finding new ways to break out from under the medication. But I'm not going to start on that. Instead I'm going choose a random picture from today and do a meme. Because it is friday night, afterall.

Late afternoon near the shrine. It was pretty cold. Meme is Five Things, via Kris.

5 Things in My Fridge

I like a fairly orderly fridge and it annoys me no end when the contents become muddled and I can't see what's there at a glance. So tonight as I tidied the fridge contents while thinking about what to make for dinner, I noticed that G had bought lamingtons, milk and juice. We're towards the end of the shopping week, so we're running out of staples (no, the lamingtons are a treat). Even so, there's still a bit to eat; Sour dill pickles, freshly cut up pineapple (yum, yum), not so freshly cut up watermelon, a 2 litre bucket of soup (nearly finished), limp celery and other vegetables needing to be used up or composted.

5 Things in My Handbag

ID and access pass for my ever so exciting and high flying job as a public servant. Zebra striped and pink tin for tampons, currently emply. Nurofen. Hankies. Hat and scarf, it's cold here.

5 Things in My Wardrobe

Many and various items of thermal underwear. I like layers and mum used to work in a shop selling lots of that sort of thing. I have so much, I'm considering cutting a few items down into tops for Grace. My super comfortable Kumfs boots. Bought last year and kind of expensive (as in more than 200 but less than 300) but sure to end up really cheap on a cost per wear basis. Coats, including my favourite vintage,navy blue, double breasted, vintage, man's overcoat. It always feels reallly smart when I put it on but later in the day starts to feel a bit odd and shabby. Does anyone else have a coat like that? Hats and gloves, for keeping out the cold.

5 Things in My Car

A old sheet used mostly for wiping the condensation off the windows, a bag of vegetarian friendly peppermints (G always has a pack on the go), nappies in the glovebox, a plastic kangaroo with a joey that I bought when we were in Central Australia in late winter 2004, old ammo box G bought in Lightening Ridge (or is it the replacement after that one got stolen in Hobart?) with all sorts of useful things like rope and toilet paper and bits for the car. 

Well that's it for me. I'm tired. I might go and watch some more sopranos. And then bed.

my evenings are square

Ever since I finished the pram blanket for little Ruby-Lee, I've been working on a project to use up the big bag of odd balls of wool mum gave me a couple of years ago. Tonight I made the last granny square, for the last of five big squares to be joined up into a big wrap of sorts. To drape around me at night in front of the computer, because I'd rather sit in the cold than listen to the noisy fan heater we have in the study.

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago when I laid out the squares I had already made, to see whether the colours would work. I ended up removing a few balls of wool from the pile and deciding to just see what happened with the rest. As I tend to crochet at night, by a lamp in front of the telly, it's been a revelation to see the colours by day. The other afternoon while Mum and I sat in the loungeroom with our crochet and knitting, drinking tea and eating molassess crinkles, I realised that I've never actually made what my family refers to as an afghan rug before. I've made squares, plenty of hats and a fair few rag rugs. I can't even remember not being able crochet. But I've never made a rug or anything with granny squares. Which I think is odd. Maybe I'm growing into my craft life.

Mum said that as a child I used to love playing with her squares and that I would try and work out if there was a logic or pattern to the colour arrangement. There was, mum would make the first and the last row the same colour and would surround them in black. She also said that she would consciously make some paler squares as well as the bright combinations she prefered, because she said it made the finished rug more interesting. On this rug, once I chose the overall colour scheme, the individual colours chosen for each square was quite random. Although I have tried to make the first and the fifth, and the second and fourth rows the same. But not always. I try not to agonise over the piecing either, and only swap it around if there are too many similar squares side by side.

I think I will have finished this in a week or so and already I'm planning my next few projects. A rug rug cover for this cushion, out of felted wool scraps from my latest refashion efforts (pictures soon, the hardest part of wardrobe refashion is taking the photos) and a hat for Grace. Maybe a new hat for me too. 

And um, one last thing, sorry if I freaked anyone out with the last post. Now that I've had a think, I'm much less disturbed than I was.


Is the day! Meet Me in Melbourne bloggers gathering. In the Flagstaff Gardens near the kids' playground, which is adjacent to the junction of Peel, William and Franklin Streets.

We're going ahead with meeting in the park at this stage. If the weather turns nasty, we'll adjourn to the foodcourt at the Victoria market which is between the meat section and the deli section. See you there! 

ookie, ookie, ookie

Lately I've been reminded of what an ookie, dirty place the internet can be. Like, not all families, craft and good natured comments. Nothing really bad has happened, just some spam and flickr stuff, but it has genuinely upset me several times and prompted some fairly earnest discussions about putting photos on the internet et cetera. Again.

The first occurence was shortly after I joined Flickr when I received an email inviting me to view some private photos. I quickly realised that although it looked flickerish, it wasn't flickr mail and indeed came from another internet address. I doubled deleted it and ran my virus check just to be sure. This month though, one of my SPC portraits of me as a child, has been plagued with nasty sounding spam. In the form of serial comments with links to Italian p*rn sites.  I deleted them and reported them as spam but they kept coming. This is unusual, I've never ever had spam before and had just assumed that typepad was good like that. In the end I closed comments on that particular post and it stopped. It bothers me no end that it was that particular picture that attracted the spam but I can't see where it came from. There were no suspicious google search strings. Early on, after a photo I called "littlegirlsindresses" kept coming up in google image searches, I started calling photos of people something obscure. (Except der, I called that one of me kidlet, must have forgot.) I know why people with p*rn sites leave link filled comments, it's to boost their ranking in search engines. My next step, if the last hadn't worked, would have been to ban their IP address because there's no way I want to be any part of trafficking p*rnography.  I have considered changing the privacy settings so google doesn't search this blog. I've tried this on Mrs Washalot and after six months it's very effective. No traffic on that blog comes from google or any other search engines. But then, here on this blog there are some things I'd like people to be able to find. Like this one and this one, because every now and then I read search strings like "amniocentesis difficult decision" or "post natal psychosis help" and I know that someone out there might be desperate for information, or for the sharing of experience. To not be alone in all this, which is part of the point of writing and sharing. So if I have myself out there like that, I guess I have to accept that there will be occasions when pervy people hit on my blog. I just have to remember that it's a bit like being at a night club, most people are OK, but some will be creepy. And that it's OK, desirable even, to tell them to F off and that their behaviour is offensive. Or to just not engage and remove myself from their presence.

The other two occurences were Flickr related. A couple of weeks ago, someone favourited a Mrs Washalot photo. I almost didn't notice because I don't sign into that account very often. When I did and had a look at his other favourites, I realised that he has a cloth fetish and that some of his other photos are of bondage games. No nudity or age of consent issues, but misogynist and ookie all the same. He had set his content filter to restricted but I was still upset that here he was viewing my photos in that context. Then began a long conversation with myself and with others about not being able to control how others see our words and images. That something innocent or everyday to us can have quite a diffrent meaning to others. We have decided as a family that it's still OK to post photos of ourselves and Grace on our blogs and on Flickr. The general guide to whether a particular photo would be OK is whether it would be something you could see in public and whether the subject of the photo would be likely to really object. So I wouldn't post nuddy bath shots, but I would post a picture of breastfeeding if the context was right. Nor would I post really unflattering or undignified pictures. We live in a world full of images and I don't really see that our pictures are more precious, safe or unsafe, than pictures in a book, a newspaper or other general media. Indeed, I think there's something of enormous value to be gained from a medium that features images by and of ordinary people. And I just love the concept of Flickr as one of humanities photo albums. I find it endlessly fascinating. It just feels a bit grubby that someone might be taking a certain sort of pleasure in one of my pictures of nappies on the line.

So just as I was getting over that episode, I received some Flickr mail that asked if I had pictures of nude children for sale. I went and looked at the profile of the person it had come from and although some of his stuff is laddish, he's a professional photographer and I thought it a little unlikely that he would send me such a message. Nonetheless, I had just loaded some photos of Grace and I was freaking out. Big time. So I reported it to Flickr and considered making a report to the Australian Federal Police which one can do online here. Flickr got back to me quickly and assured me that it was malware or phishing, and did not come from the Flickr member. Which heartened me somewhat, but not totally.

One of the aspects of Flickr I find interesting is that you don't have any sense of where people are coming from to view your photos. There are no referrer stats. Indeed all you have is comments and a total number of page views, which doesn't take into account people browsing your photostream. That said, if someone marks a photo as a favourite or lists you as a contact, it's very obvious. And there is a facility for blocking other members which means they can't send you Flickr mail, favourite your photos or basically interact with you in any way through Flickr.

There's a whole other discussion I could go into about p*rnography, censorship, feminism and culture. P*rn is something I've come across in past lives; the gay scene, the party scene, with different types of housemates and I guess there's a time and a place. Basically if the material doesn't contain illegal and/or underage activites then I guess I've always thought that it's OK for adults to watch it in private or in restricted places. If that's their choice. Eventhough I don't think it's all that good for you. However, I feel now as an older woman, with a partner and as a parent that the ground has shifted a bit. There are lots of things I choose not to view (including certain ghoulish television), and I don't want it shoved in my face or where my child can access it easily.

I'll probaly block cloth man, I guess, but sheesh.

how I like my breakfast

This is how I like my breakfast on non-working days to go; bircher like muesli (grated apple, slightly swelled oats, sultanas, water, yoghurt, walnuts) with Mole Creek honey on top, orange juice with soda water and strong stovetop espresso with milk. In a big mug which I don't drink until it's nearly cold. I also like the table to be clear of newspapers I'm not reading, although I don't mind the odd little toy to fidget with or to amuse Grace. But what I really, really love is twenty minutes of peace. No talking, no yelling, no having to change a nappy or answer the phone or negotiate what's happening today. Lately G has been taking Grace for a little walk down the lane at about half past nine. The perfect time to have breakfast after doing some folding or putting on a load of washing or faffing on the internet. And the best thing? Twenty minutes to sit in front of the heater and read. Bliss.

At the moment I'm reading Drift, by Penni Russon of Eglantine's Cake. I've just finished Breathe, which is the sequel to Undine. I read Undine just after Christmas. I told G that was what I wanted for Christmas and he traipsed all over town until he found a copy. I loved it. I'd take a picture of the beautiful greeny cover but it's doing the rounds at the moment. At Betty's I think. Anyway, I bought Drift at Angus and Robertson and they were most happy to order in Breathe and I'm pleased to report that I've seen all three at Reader's Feast and Dymocks in the city, several other Angus and Robertsons, including the one at Box Hill. They'll be in the young adult section, but don't let that fool you. These books might be about a girl becoming a woman, but they're layered and read at different levels. I think my 11 year old reading mad stepsister will enjoy them (for Christmas I think), as did my mum.  There's a magic running through them that's very believable, but still very special and well, magic.

They trilogy is set in a Hobart that seems strangely familiar to me, just from visits and holidays. Or maybe it's the contemporary Australian voice that's making me feel that. Anyway, when I get the whole set together again, they'll go in the special bookshelf of authors we have known or met (Penni's very nice, we met at Ceres for babychinos and chat a while back). There have been some good reviews around (including a feminist academic reading that Penni linked to on her blog a while back but I've lost), but apparently there's also a bitter, mean one on Amazon that spoils the plot. The thought of which kind of upsets me. I feel like I'm on this journey with Undine, the kind that you make with really good characters. So I'm not going to read it until I've finished the series, which I'm really not wanting to end. Why spoil my twenty minutes of peace?

Breakfast meme(?) courtesy of Shula, who's set up a Flickr group, Breakfast Sunday , although I think all breakfasts are welcome.

new winter look

Finally think I'm done fiddling and faffing. Not sure whether the red background will stay, the yellow on the last layout lasted about two weeks I think, and then I got heartily sick of it and went beige. Although I like red alot more than yellow. My kitchen was deep red for quite a long time. Years. Then I cracked the shits and painted it a very considered beige. We'll see. 

As usual, I've learnt quite a lot from this exercise and now have a folder full of typepad help topics in plastic sleeves. Instead of in a messy pile under my computer stand. I'm going to do the same with my recipes, yes I am. New things I learnt (and sorry if some are a bit typepad specific) include:

You can have a typelist without a heading. By using the following code in the title, <!--Title--> replacing the word title with the name you want to show in your typelists. Very handy, especially for groups of buttons and for Flickr badges (which need a notes typelist) and where a title seems redundant.

I've also ditched the old about page and used the new typepad pages feature. It was initially a bit tricky, the first link from the crochet square went to my page inside typepad until I realise you have to click the view page button and grab the permalink. No more looking up my list of manual html codes to insert links. It's going to be much easier to update or change than the old about page. And I don't have to make a duplicate, but smaller style. And applying styles to about pages was always tedious anyway.

Last time I learnt how to choose my own colours for the type and backgrounds using a colour picker and adding the numbers into the typepad interface. This time I figured out how to choose colours with adobe elements. Which meant that the red is roughly translated from the crochet square and that I could do a banner with the same colur background as the blog page. Although the colour changed when I shrunk the banner image. Easy to fix but this sort of faffing is why I don't think I'd ever do this more than twice a year. The original idea for this cold season blog look was quite different to what I initially intended. Let's just say that making and using an embroidered banner for a web page is not as easy as I imagined. Not that I embroider much as a rule. But you know, I had an idea and had a go. Then decided to do something else. More faffing.

Last but not least, I've gone through and updated my links. A couple have gone but only because they're not updating anymore. I've added quite a few new links, blogs that have become regular reads, even if I don't comment. It used to be that I was always shy about commenting, but now I even when I don't feel shy, I just run out of time. I'm always running out of time.

fiddling and faffing

Please excuse me while I sort out some technical issues. I'm working out a new design and I just cannot get it to look how I want, there's no obvious reason why part of the banner is missing and typepad keeps sending me error messages. One thing after another. So I think I might go and have a little crochet break while typepad sorts itself out.

about me

Hello, my name is Janet. Welcome to muppinstuff.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, in a new but old house we bought last year. Our first. The house is small and kind of charming and needs work. The garden is what you'd call a blank canvas. It's in an estate that was built for the housing commission and for service men returning from the second world war. The location and layout of the estate, combined with a new wave of families moving in have turned it into an interesting, neighbourly place to live. This almost paradise I share with my partner Gerard (G) and our daughter, Grace who is four.  Often I think I'd like to be a stay at home mum, but my maternity leave ended long ago and I've returned to (my other) work as a public servant three days a week. I miss being a slacker.

When I first started blogging, I thought it would be all about sewing and making things. Oh, the projects I was going to complete.  Sometimes I still get to the sewing machine, but even when I do, I don't get around to blogging about it as much as I'd like because there's other things I need to write about. And I'm busy, too busy. And a bit mad. I've always had moods that swing high and low but as I've grown older, and probably as I've stopped self-medicating in various ways, it's become more obvious. The crisis was an episoide of post-natal psychosis in 2005 which involved me and Grace (as she was only 3 months old) being hospitalised. There have been some ups and downs since then and that's one of the things I write about. Partly because I need to understand it myself and partly because I want others to consider about what it might mean to live with this type of illness (or someone who has it).

I also love my cameras and my flickr. Taking photos has been an unexpected joy in this blogging caper. I also have my often neglected side blogs, Mrs Washalot which is about laundry. I never thought that I'd have so much to say about doing the washing. And then there's eater which is a recipe blog.

Gerard has his own web empire centred around Hobart band, Hey Mook. If you want to impress your friends with great yet obscure music, I would suggest the purchase of the self titled Hey Mook, the latest in a long line of CDs that should be better known. And probably would be if the band started touring on the mainland, but hey being from Tasmania is part of their charm.

I made this

Spc I took this photo last weekend at the end of a sewing session. I'm pressing some flat felled seams on a pair of jeans in progress. I'd just finished a black cotton velvet skirt for work (complete with special waistband loop for my ID tag) and was trying to make progress on another sewing job before Grace woke up.  Most of my clothes are made by me, or by my sister who sews for a living. Often from fabric bought at the opshop. Or I buy clothes from the opshop and refashion them. If I do buy new clothes, I'm fussy about fit and finish. Which means I tend to only buy t-shirts and underwear. And shoes, which I like to be comfortable and I don't mind paying for. This all came around because I was taught to sew as a child and because although I can buy clothes in my size, they tend not to fit properly. Larger women having more variation in their sizing. And I like natural fibres, which again seem to be elusive in all but the most expensive fuller figure clothes. These days I have several fairly simple standard patterns and it really is quicker to make something than to drag myself around the shops getting depressed at not being able to find something I like.  So I've decided to join wardrobe re-fashion again this year and push myself a little. There's an exemption for work related clothing but the other day I fronted up in an outfit I'd pretty much made myself. Someone complimented me on it, and it felt really good to say thankyou, I made this. Anyway, the dress standard is such that I can get away with some odd things and not be out of place.

This back room where I sew is supposed to be our dining room but we only use it as such if we have too many guests to cram around the kitchen table. The door behind me leads into the laundry and the rail above it is where I hang washing that hasn't quite dried outside. There's another rack above the doorway into the kitchen, which is behind the orange curtain which we use to keep the heat in. We do have a dryer but it's pretty useless so I spend a good part of winter airing washing inside. Something I'm bound to moan endlessly on the other blog.

June's self-portrait challenge is environment, "to show yourself in your surroundings, using your environment as a marker of who you are." Pretty wide, almost too wide. At first I was quite stumped, the obvious shots of compost or gardening don't really appeal, winter is setting in and it has been cold. Not that we have a particularly brutal winter compared to some parts of the world, but it gets dark early and you need to rug up. But I guess trying to be less of a consumer fits the theme quite well, as does the setting with all my stuff around me.

More self-portrait environments here.

blue is good

Half way through the final quarter, I found myself composing this post; something along the lines of... there are winners and there are losers. Then I had to stop because the dogs scored another goal and it all started looking tense again. However the mighty blues prevailed, and can I just say that winning is really fun.

I worked out today that I haven't been to the footy in about three years. The last match I attended was probably the one in Adelaide on the way to central Australia. It wasn't a winning game but I remember we played chess in the tent afterwards as it rained outside. Didn't feel like going to the footy while I was pregnant or while Grace was little. And last year there was too much possibility of losing. I don't like going to the footy when Carlton losing seems like a done deal. I'm shallow like that. But this year, Grace loves going over to nana's for the afternoon and I don't mind having a break from the incessant demands for Boobah or the emotional rollercoaster, complete with roll on the ground tantrums, that is being two. Especially when winning is a possibility. Did I mention that I was shallow? But oh, it is so good. Go blues! 

Seasonal shift

Over the last few nights, I've been going through my folders and archiving autumn's pictures, uploading more to flickr and tossing out all the images that at a third glance mean nothing. It makes me feel like such a pedant, but if I don't do it, I feel seriously overwhelmed by them all. Sort of like sorting out my wardrobe, which I'm also in the process of doing. And like when you go through your drawers and cases, you find stuff. That you really don't mind. Like some sunsets, snapped at the front gate. There were a few weeks this autumn when they seemed to light up the whole sky from that particular direction.

They were all taken on different nights, but I quite like the progression in colour. The last one really was that colour, that was the best sunset I've seen in ages. Except for the one when Coode island went off, but that was apocalyptic rather than fun. It's kind of scary to think I've been living here that long. That many winters in a house with really crap heating. I'm hoping that when we move, as well as ducted heating there will be a good sunset viewing vantage point. Maybe a veranda (a turret would be asking for too much) facing west?

I've also been crocheting and watching King of the Hill DVDs G got from the library, sewing (fabulous session this afternoon, no unpicking at all), buying shoes (wintery birks, lace up rockport walkers, baby pink uggs) and contemplating a site re-design. There's a new banner, once I figure how to translate the concept and I think I'm going to fuss and fiddle for a while. But probably not until I come back from the footy tomorrow. Go Blues, or as Grace says, Lo Lues.