26 March 2010

Luxury Tweed

Can I just say ... it's a good day when two packages full of yarn arrive at once!

Rowan Silky Tweed, from South Seas Knitting, courtesy of a gift voucher from a bunch of lovely friends, which they gave me after my hip surgery, and I'm finally well enough to enjoy. Destined to be a jumper or cardigan, pattern not decided yet!

And Bendigo Luxury (8 ply) for the crossword-trimmed jumper I've been designing in my head for over a year now. Yum.

That's my winter knitting sorted for the year!

23 March 2010

Cool glass

Son has finally found something he loves ... glasswork! He's been doing a lampworking class at the Canberra Glassworks this month (4 x 3 hour sessions), and is excelling. He's the youngest student in the class (middle aged women are the norm!), is very adept and a quick learner.

These are what he made on his first lesson :

His teacher said he was doing advanced level beads by the second class (that's these ones) :

His goal is to learn to make (and sell) glass body jewellery, like the stuff here. There is currently no-one in Australia making this sort of body jewellery, and there's definitely a market! He and Dotter have to buy all their glass jewellery from the States. So we're not talking 'pretty beads' here, but glass jewellery for people who are into body modification (as both my kids are). Labrets, plugs, pinchers, twists, and so on.

The next step is further training with this guy (about 120 km from us), and the purchase of the equipment (small kiln, blow torch, mandrels, glass sticks, safety gear, and so on).

He has the requisite balance of artistic and design talent, with handicraft skills, connections to the body art & modification online community, and obsessive interest (one of the occasional pluses of Asperger's).

This is the most positive development for Son in years. Here's hoping he can gradually reach his goals! Considering that he's been unemployed with practically no goals for the past 3 years, this is a big step forward, even if there's only slow progress from here (there have been a lot of disappointments and false starts in the past few years, so I'm trying to be realistic). I'm very proud of him. And relieved. Yup, definitely relief in there too.

And here's your Miss Petal photo for the day. She turned 1 on 14 March, and this is her birthday jumper (Rav link to the pattern).

19 March 2010

Nanna's Relish

I have a sprawling, single, tomato plant (that was all I got planted before my surgery) - it's a low-acid orange tomato, and the bush has taken over half the vegie patch! There have been kilos of tomatoes, and the inevitable need for tomato chutney!

I haven't made this recipe before - but it's been in the family for a very long time. It's my grandmother's recipe, and my absolute favourite. It brings back many memories! The name 'Nariel' is from my great-grandfather's property. It has a great spicy flavour - from curry and mustard - and is wonderful with cold meats, cheese sandwiches, and many other things!

Nanna Jean's 'Nariel' Tomato Relish

• 2.5 kg ripe tomatoes - skinned (oops, I missed that bit!).
Chop the tomatoes, put in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cover, stand overnight.

• 1 kg onions - sliced.
Place in a bowl, sprinkle liberally with salt. Cover, stand overnight.

The next day, drain off the liquid from both tomatoes and onions. Combine them in a large pan, press down, and just cover with best quality vinegar (I used cider vinegar). Bring to the boil.

Add 750g sugar.

Next, make the spice paste!

• 3 Tbspn mustard powder
• 2 Tbspn curry powder
• 1/2 handful of salt (a fairly random measurement!)
• 1 large cup plain flour
• More cider vinegar (~ 1/2 cup)

Gradually mix the dry ingredients with the extra vinegar to make a paste.

Add the spice flour paste to the saucepan, mix well. Simmer together for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to avoid the mixture sticking to the base.

Bottle in hot jars, seal while hot.

I found it took a lot longer than 2 hours to cook to a reasonable thickness. You can thicken it further by mixing in either a mixture of flour and vinegar, or cornstarch and water.

If you're using a gas stove, use a heat diffuser to keep the heat as minimal as possible.

08 March 2010

Friends from far and wide

Saturday was a very exciting day at our place. Janette and Roxie (and their lovely better halves) came to visit! Janette from Sydney, and Roxie all the way from Oregon USA!! Look - proof!

It was a real treat to meet a blog friend from so far far away - and to see Janette again too! All this wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for our blogs - isn't that a funny thought!

Ms Lulu was very excited. She got a new dress, and (in true form) stole a bracelet and earrings from my jewellery box to wear for the occasion.

I didn't realise why she was so excited, until our guests arrived ... Bobby and Bucky Merino had hitched a ride with Roxie! I gather Bobby and Lulu have had some correspondence before they met, too. No wonder she kept scampering out of my office at odd hours ...

The boys brought her gifts - a tinsel boa, and a bellydancing belt!

Us humans received some lovely gifts as well, cheerful Hawaiian pineapple set of kitchen linen (tea towel, oven mitts, coasters ...), beautiful flowers, some gourmet olive oil, and this very special sparkling wine from Oregon (called Argyle, perfect for a knitter, no?). Hubby and I will enjoy this next weekend, for our 25th wedding anniversary!

Lulu lapped up the attention. Bucky and Bobby were her new best friends! They hatched a plan while we were having dinner ...

... for which I made a Thai meal - Beef Massaman Curry, Chicken with Basil, Tangy Salad, Jasmine Rice, with Ginger Citrus Bananas and Coconut Custard to finish. Complete with chilli flower and shallot curl garnishes and everything! Yum.

Miss Petal wasn't to be outdone by any silly lambs. She charmed everyone with her sweet cuteness (even if Bobby and Bucky did get a bit jealous), and had constant cuddles. She even hopped into Roxie's handbag hoping to effect an escape! However, Lulu was the successful one there ... she snuck away with Bobby and Bucky, to see the world!

So for my knit blogger friends in North America, if you're interested in having Ms Lulu come to visit, drop me an e-mail and we can arrange her itinerary :)

(Photo courtesy of Roxie's blog)