February 28, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || FEBRUARY... I'VE DONE IT

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || bowl of wooden beads

I LOVE reading the comments you make on these monthly posts. Quite honestly, I am surprised anyone, at all, reads to the end of what is essential an online catalogue of my days. Surprised, but thrilled. Thank you.

If you've not ever said hello, please do.

In February:

I READ… Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Such cruelty, such raw humanity - or, in so many cases, the choice to be human or live with the consequences of choosing the other. A theme I felt resonated deeply in Flanagan's most recent piece of public writing.

Also on the bedside table this month was the recent work of school pal, great thinker and Resilient Entrepreneur Louise Francis' Memoir of a Corporate Refugee. Louise comes from a place of having worked stuff out and, and, being the generous yet pragmatic lass she is, wanting people to see a clear path to working their own stuff out and getting on with it. It's a 'take no prisoners' read that you will see plenty of yourself in. I certainly did.

I WENT TO… Dookie, population 286. More correctly, I went to the University of Melbourne's Dookie campus in rural Victoria to do six intensive days of training to set myself on the path to completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Here's what I learned: do NOT do anything over an intensive six days. I don't know that I'll be rushing back to any tertiary education any time soon.

I ATE… birthday cake. February is a bumper birthday month in our family. It's my mum's birthday, our eldest's birthday (good grief, she was 28) and mine. I've made reservations for a belated birthday dinner at Woy Woy Fisherman's Wharf, tonight.

I OP SHOPPED… beads: a whole string of them for $2. A jute macrame shopper for $3 and two cocktail frocks: black and white polka dots from the 1980s, $10, and a handmade slub silk number from the 1960s, $25. The skirt on the latter falls in a series of large pleated petals.  

I MADE… plans. I am tired, worn down, worn out and needing a break in my routine. I'm not complaining; everything I do has a purpose and I love doing it. However, knowing when it's time to recharge and see things from a distance is good too. I've booked flights to New York. It's my first time to the city, and to the States, and I am looking forward to being inspired. Please do share with me your tips, favourite places, must dos and online (or printed) travel guides. I am open to it all.

February 18, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || GET SOME GOOD INTO YA

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || fowler ware milk jugs in mint and pink
THINGS can't always be peachy, can they? Sometimes family or office things aren't peachy. Politics. Erghh. Not peachy. War, famine, Ebola. No peach there.

But what'cha gunna do? That's the thing, right? Some days you just have to 'roll with the punches', 'choose life', 'live to fight another day'... feel free to add your own motivational fist-pump or high five here.

This, my friends, is how I am choosing to roll. I'm making plans - good plans. I'm checking in with good people. I'm doing good stuff. Good, I tells ya. That's what we all need more of.

But, enough about me. How's things for you? Sunny side up? Glass half full? No complaints? Good. Who's listening anyway, right?

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || detail of beaded milk jug covers
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || vintage australiana beaded milk jug covers
#opshopscore // vintage Australiana milk jug covers, $15 the pair, Salvos West Gosford

February 04, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || PINNING THINGS PEACHY KEEN

The year has well and truly kicked into top gear this week. The holiday glow has faded and it's no surprise to see time keeping and bells creeping, subconsciously, onto my Pinterest boards. Just one more cup of tea, please. Just one more stab at summer, pretty please?

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: I don't even imagine you'd need a fancy loom to get these started. Even dyed cotton string would do it. 

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: It sounds too simple, delicious and guilt-free to be true.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: I have a perfectly functional watch but I do covet the clean, sleek design of this.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Not just for the wall, you could hang these anywhere: indoors, outdoors, take your pick.

#flashback: Pinning had an air of celebration about it this time last year.

February 01, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || MY DIRTY LITTLE OP SHOP SECRET

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || my dirty little op shop secret
A TRIP to the beach means throwing on a pair of togs, grabbing a hat, enough cash for a coffee or milkshake - should either take my fancy - sunscreen, a hat and light cover-all for sun protection and the a towel.

Over the summer, the beach kit has been thrown into a newly thrifted beach bag - a cute crocheted bag that's perfect for the beach because all the sand shakes out of it on my way back to the beach car park. In fact, all my beach kit is thrifted. The leather wallet I pop my coins into was an op shop find; the wide-brimmed hat I love because it fits snugly and won't blow down the beach with a single gust was an op shop score and still has the name of the previous owner inside. My 1970s fringed towel. Op shop. The cover-all I made to wear over my togs was made from $2 worth of fabric. Op shop.

And yes, even the togs. Op shop.  

But cossies from the op shop? Who does that? Me! It's my dirty little op shop secret.

Well, what's the issue? I do check the amount of, er, wear, before I make a purchase, any purchase. I check as much for stains under the arms as I might for how the seat of a pair of shorts has worn and it's the same with togs. It's a bonus if they've got a swing tag still hanging from them but if you think through why someone would pass on a pair of togs I think it's safe to suggest they probably weren't worn a great deal. They've either been a gift that was the wrong size; maybe even bought online and couldn't be exchanged. Perhaps the wearer loved them in the store but on the beach found them not to their liking. The owner could have changed in shape, had a bub, who knows, but there are few people who would pass over the worst of their worn wardrobe to an op shop and few op shops who would choose to damage their reputation by putting out dirty clothes or clothing unfit for use.

And, of course, with a wash at home and a good airing on the line they're close to being as good as new.

So, what's your dirty little op shop secret? 

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || thrifted crochet beach bag
#opshopfind // crochet beach bag, $4, East Gosford Vinnies

January 31, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || JANUARY... I'VE DONE IT

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || Little Golden Books for Christmas

GOOD grief, it only feels like yesterday that we were cracking our Christmas crackers, doing a tango with the tinsel and patting down our well-fed festive season stomachs.

Here, the Christmas decor was all packed away before the January 6 Epiphany - otherwise known as the 12th day of Christmas - and with it the extra festive paraphernalia I bring out to feed the festive cheer.

And now, we're days past the Australia Day long weekend and cruising toward Easter. Where does the time go?

In January:

I READ… Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project. I met Graeme, in a bar - as one does with literary folk - and over a glass of red listened to him explain his fiction formula. I hadn't read his book at the time so had to take his word for it that the formula was sound. After reading it, I'd say it's solid. His debut best-seller is a fun, friendly, what-will-happen-next kinda read. Have you read it? Did you find it too formulaic? 

I WENT TO… Sydney's Amanda Palmer gig, hosted by the Sydney Writer's Festival. Again, hadn't read the book, the blog, viewed the Youtube video or knew any more about Palmer than what I'd read in the gig preamble. Hey, what can you say, this is one chick with good schtick. 

I ATE… Well, the truth is, I stopped eating. I pulled up on the all crap I'd been stuffing my tired, defeated body and have been feeding it with good, wholesome foods. I've been trying out a heap of new recipes and have new favourites in the fast, easy but oh-so-good for you repertoire. 

I OP SHOPPED… A new beach bag: it's something I'll be sharing with you a little later this week. How do you feel about op shopped cossies? 

I MADE… Another tank top. This time recycled from an op-shopped skirt I'd had my wear from. That's a fair life for that piece of clothing. Thrifted and well-worn by me, then recycled into something new for my wardrobe.

January 18, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || PINNING THINGS A RIOT OF COLOUR

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || Things to Cook and Eat for a riot of colour
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || Things to Drop Dough On for a riot of colour
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || Things to Hang on the Wall for a riot of colour
ISN'T the light gorgeous at this time of year? I love looking out over my garden on the mornings I am home and, in the evenings, have been enjoying a Christmas gift to sit and ponder plans for the weekend, and beyond.

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: I bought cotton cord to make something like this with cottons, fabric remnants from my holiday sewing. Can't wait to give it a try.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Colour on your plate. What's not to love about that? And surely, it's got to make the new year resolutions to eat better more palatable, right?

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Loose, light pants that sit well above the ankle. I have short legs. These are perfect.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Don't you just feel a burst of patriotic pride when you see these works by Pete Cromer? 

#flashback: Pinning had a distinctly summer feel to it last year too

January 14, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || I'VE GOT MY SKATES ON. REALLY, I HAVE

SANTA was good to me. He was a little unconventional leaving my present tucked under a pile of shoes at my local Salvos store, but he knows me well. I zeroed in on these beauties pretty quickly. 

I can't tell you how long I've looked for a pair of booted roller skates. It's ridiculous, I know, to want a pair of booted roller skates, but you have to have ridiculous, childlike dreams, right? And these, I tell you, are my dream skates. I'd scoured eBay and Etsy on and off for the perfect, reasonably priced, in-good-condition pair, but here - a true sign that good things come to those who are patient and wait - was exactly the pair I'd dreamed of. They were even red and white; the booted roller skates of my imagining.

Giddy with excitement and feeling a little bit "am I dreaming", I tried them on. Shut The Front Door! They fit! 

I tucked them up under my arms and practically ran to the counter, paid my $15 - I know, I KNOW - and dropped them onto the back seat of my car, grinning.

This was Christmas Eve. Since then, I've cleaned up the scuff marks, checked over the mechanics of them, replaced the inner sole, whitened the laces and... 

... taken them our for a spin.



I'm terrible. Truly terrible, but oh what fun.

iPhone photos and video by Cathy Stubbs, of Two Minute Postcards

January 11, 2015

SUMMER 2015 || EATING THE BEST OF THE SEASON'S HARVEST

HOW'S your tomato crop going? Mine's flush with plum-size red sphere and I am at the start of the picking frenzy. 

I never, ever plant tomatoes. I just go with the crop that comes up. For years it was a sweet little pear-shaped tomato that one year, about three years ago, just didn't come back. I wish I had saved seeds from it. I figured it would always come back, year after year, as it had done for so many years after we moved in. It didn't. Poop.

The red tomatoes have made up, in punnet-loads, for a lack of those sweet little yellow bulbs. Tonight they'll be cut up into a lentil and haloumi salad, and in the past they've been tossed into all manner of salads, into frittatas and pasta dishes.

My favourite tomato-flavoured pasta dish, shared here previously but back on the dinner rotation, is a roasted tomatoes with basil pesto and pretty much anything made with a homemade pasatta. Perfect for the easiest of summer dishes: pulled together after a day at the beach or enjoying the long hours of plentiful sunshine.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || roasted tomato and pesto pasta for summer
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || tomato passata for summer
Summer is also my favourite time for sweet treats. I am not a fan of ice cream, but made ice blocks a couple of summers back from a tray of ripening mangoes and, bam, yoghurt-based cold smoothies and ice blocks were suddenly my new favourite thing. Much better than ice cream and pretty much just a fruit and yoghurt smoothie, made thick and poured into the moulds, then frozen. No churning or scratching away the ice crystals, and they're delicious.

Another delicious mango treat I discovered, last summer, was mango butter. Chilled and straight from the fridge, it's heaven in a jar.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || mango and yoghurt ice blocks for summer
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || mango butter for summer
Easy peasy summer treats that make the best of the season's harvest and that you have to get into now, while all these summer fruits, berries and vegetables are at their best.

Enjoy.

January 01, 2015

SUMMER 2014 || IMAGES FROM A BLOGGING YEAR

JANUARY  |  Home made ice cream for a hot start to the year.


FEBURARY  |  A significant birthday and time away from the online life.




MARCH  ||  My first trip to Europe, for work of all things.


APRIL  |  There's always lots for a busy bee to do at Nana's house.



MAY  |  A finished craft project from a thrifted stash of cotton yarn.



JUNE |  Jam roly-poly and other comfort foods for winter.



JULY  |  Lamenting how fast the weekends come and go, and seasons turn.



AUGUST  |  Cold days and nights call for winter knitting and warm socks.



SEPTEMBER  |  A new addition to the family: Nana Crackers' smiling boy.



OCTOBER  |  Girl Guide camps, ceremonies and well wishes.



NOVEMBER  |  A haul of vintage cook books, with family recipes folded within.



DECEMBER  |  Another month down and another emerging anew.


Happy 2015.

December 31, 2014

SUMMER 2014 || DECEMBER... I'VE DONE IT


TWELVE months. One year. Done and dusted. Can you believe it? Here's to emerging fresh into a new year and finding beauty in what you left behind.

I READ… Jojo Moyes' One Plus One. A good little audio book read. Nothing too taxing, just a good yarn to accompany my work train commute and pottering about the house and garden.

I WENT TO… Bundanoon for the post-Christmas shenanigans with my folks, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. Bundanoon, in the NSW Southern Highlands, is on the edge of Morton National Park. My partner shot and edited together a little video of one of the bush walks we did while there.

I ATE… My body weight in pavlova, prawns and other Christmas treats. 

I OP SHOPPED… The pre and post-Christmas op shopping was good. I bought my Christmas and New Year present to me on Christmas Eve. My partner thinks I am mad and I am a little shy about it, but will reveal all soon - promise. 

I also found a 1950s school desk. The paint needs to be stripped back from it, but for $50, it was a good find. Solid wood, desk and lid intact and the seat still lifts to let the user pass through easily. 

Other than that, I brought home fabric to make into a dress - done - and there's enough left for a tank top. Pottery bowls for nuts and nibbles, a romper pattern for the granddaughter and a new linen Country Road tee for me. 

I MADE… Christmas decorations for friends and family. I drew what I call the 'fat fairy' and screen printed her on cards and thrifted denim jeans I cut into rounds for the tree decorations. 

I also got the poor, old neglected sewing machine out and stitched up a frock for myself from this month's op shop stash. I modelled it for Instagram.