September 16, 2014

SPRING 2014 || AVERT YOUR EYES, I'VE SAID THE 'C' WORD


DON'T tell me how many days we've got until Christmas. Yes, THAT dirty 'C' word. Every year I promise I'll be better organised to handcraft gifts that are well considered, ethical and adored by their recipients. Yet, every year I am hard pressed to write a few hastily gathered words on store-bought cards and buy gift vouchers for the nearest and dearest. Every, damn year.

The only tradition I have managed to stick to is the making of a tree decoration for each of my step children, and a pav for the Christmas table.

For the former I've managed to score a bunch of craft magazines, with Christmas projects to boot, and a stash of fabrics and buttons - all from a recent op shop haul.

The magazines were 50c each, the fabric a fiver, the buttons a gold coin or two and that lone punch glass was scored from the freebie table. That should help keep the Christmas budget in check.


Now, off to crack the rust off my sewing scissors.

September 10, 2014

SPRING 2014 || PINNING THINGS B/W AND A BIT 'RED' ALL OVER

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || grey booties from a free revelry pattern
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || beets, goats cheese and rocket on a santa
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || not the bag i bought but i love it
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pattern envy *sigh*
YOU'D think my first proper 'spring' post for 2014 would celebrate a little more colour but the Pinterest palette has been simple of late, which is a notable shift for me. I love colour, I am usually a riot of colour - a please-pass-the-shades cacophony of colour. I can't explain it.

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: How teeny tiny are these booties Leisl has made? They were whipped up, from a free Ravelry pattern, for her daughter's teacher, who's expecting. Man, my kids' teachers really lucked out on the gift-giving front. 

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Everything else here might be monotone but I've been trying hard to look after my health with a daily walk or run and a diet of natural foods from all colours of the rainbow. I was just reading yesterday how good raspberries are for me and have been downing a thick rainbow smoothie every night. I haven't tried this sandwich combo yet but I have plenty of fresh rocket in the garden and beets are good for roasting right now so will try this out for an easy Sunday supper this week.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Why is it so difficult to hunt down the perfect bag? Seriously, there are millions of women out there needing handbags to fit with their work, social and family lives, that are secure enough to have on public transport, that fulfil domestic cabin luggage requirements, have hardware that won't fail you as you move forward to take an offered handshake in an important business meeting, that are a picture of ordered and sensible compartments designed to help you navigate to your phone as it screams for attention in a crowded and uncomfortable lift and not, as I have found, a bottomless pit in which sandwich wrappers, your tax receipt filing system and old shopping lists have made a home? Why, oh why, is this so difficult?

This bag I love but it's not going to work? Why? Too thin: there's no gusset to expand for the packed lunch. The hardware: I had a handbag I loved with these 'button' style notches to alter the straps but the buttonholes stretch against the weight of contents and constant use and, bam, that bag will drop like a sack of potatoes - and in my experience - at a time when maximum humiliation is guaranteed.

This bag, also pinned after much trawling of Esty, is the one I have ordered. Wish me handbag luck.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Wallpaper envy. Actually, just pattern envy.

#flashback: Not a great deal of pinning happened this time last year, but it was the first month of documenting my monthly craft endeavours.

September 01, 2014

WINTER 2014 || AUGUST… I'VE DONE IT


I HAD to consult my diary to check what I was doing in the early days of August: they feel so long ago. I squeezed a lot in but it was good squeezing and needed to be done before the end-of-year hysteria snuck up on me. I always think I can see that person later, or fulfil that commitment in a month's time, but September rolls around and, BAM!, game on. So, I booked a weekend's down time with my partner in Mudgee; checked in with a work project in Canberra; and, made time to see my nana, my aunt and my sister's family, all of them in Queensland. Logistically, it was all a bit tricky - and tiring - but well worth it. 

I READ Reports, strategic plans, briefing notes … on repeat. It's the time of the year when the organisation I work for and the organisation I volunteer with shuffle through the strategic planning cycle. It's been head down, bum up and read. The writing phase starts this month.

I WENT TO Canberra, Mudgee and Brisbane.

Mudgee. Glory be. I needed that break. I booked the beautiful Perry Street Hotel and tickets to the Mudgee Readers Festival in June, so you can imagine, by August I was well and truly hanging for a weekend country retreat, complete with the smell of burning ironbark wood fires, big blue skies and wide streets. 

Perry Street Hotel reminded me of hotels in Vienna I stayed in earlier this year, and rightly so because apparently they're modelled off the hotel aesthetic of nearby Berlin. It was a real treat to see what was - when I lived in Mudgee, a derelict former Mechanic Arts Institute - done up and restored with a nod to its dance hall past and the trades once taught inside it. It was also a treat to potter around the long-running Mudgee markets, poke about the op shops and catch up with friends for a pub meal.

Days before the Mudgee trip, I was in Canberra to visit the Museum of Australian Democracy's Play Up exhibition. People, get yourselves and your wee ones to this. The school holidays are looming and you'll want to get in on this action. I have reason to be biased: Play Up is all about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the particular Article of that Convention that says all children have a right to play. Yup, you've been invited to the nation's old Parliament House AND it's a museum AND you can play there - all day. Want more? This lady and this one have had a hand in it. See. FUN! GO!

Speaking of wee ones, I also went to Brisbane this month and got in some tickles and cuddles and my first ever watching of Frozen with my nephew and niece. Nice.

I LISTENED TO My girl crush Anita Heiss speak about her new book, Tiddas, at Mudgee Readers Festival. It's a small local crowd this one but she didn't mind. She chatted and shared and gossiped and gasbagged, queried and questioned with the best of them.

I ATE Simply. My favourite meal all month was a cheese platter, with quince preserve, honey, macadamia nuts and wholegrain crackers, a few olives and a hearty Mudgee red on the deck at Logan Wines. My second favourite was a salad my sister threw together with salmon, fetta, avocado, fresh rocket, a dollop of aioli, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little cracked pepper. Served up with toasted flat bread and sides of hummus and olive dip, it was simple and delicious. 

I SAW A lot more sunsets than I saw a month ago. Through most of winter, my train travel through Sydney's northern suburbs meant I didn't see much of a sunset. It was just skyscrapers and a blackening sky. But we've edged closer to spring and I am now out of the city and crossing the Hawkesbury River by the time the sun sets. Those sandstone cliffs, that river, that sky. Sigh.

I MADE Baby shower bunting, but I didn't take a photo. Gah! It looked a lot like this, but blue. Yup, a little boy will join our family soon. He's due in the coming fortnight.

September. Phew. I need more daylight hours. I need to open the house wide to sunshine. I need time in the garden and I need to soak up some sun. You?

August 28, 2014

WINTER 2014 || MAY THE OP SHOP GODS SHINE FOR YOU


I USED to be able to op shop in my lunch breaks. I worked close to a half dozen op shops and whenever I wanted a break from the computer screen I’d steer myself in the direction of my favourite fix.

These days I work far from home and far from an op shop and because op shops don’t have opening hours to suit the weekday, long-haul commuter, my treasure hunting trips are less frequent. If travelling I’ll plan to visit an op shop, or two, and if free on a Saturday morning, I may factor in a lazy cafĂ© jaunt close to where I know an op shop will be.

Though the op shopping has been curbed, my passion for it has not and the pulse can still quicken over a recently deposited stash of fabrics, wool or pattern books; a new-to-me wardrobe piece in just the right cut and colour; something new for the kitchen or a book on a subject close to my heart.

Blog posts about my finds are neglected too, with days, weeks and sometimes months between a purchase and a post to document the gem. Small piles of accumulated treasures stack up on the kitchen table, my bedside table, or the desk in our home office waiting for the day – especially in winter – when I’ll have good light or a surface clear to set up a photo. Most piles dwindle as the item comes into use, and the moment is lost.



Winter knitting patterns are put away; ready to be looked over when I plan next year’s projects. A stash of linen yarn sits waiting for a summer knitting project I will take up soon. Ancient cooking pamphlets promoting flours and butters with recipes for scones and rock cakes and other ages-old tasty treats are tucked away on a shelf to be dragged out when the festive season baking begins – a page marked with notes from the previous owner falls open easily to a gingerbread recipe I hope to try.

Elsewhere, a swath of cool cotton fabric harking back to the 1970s lies ready to be cut into a shirt for the coming summer and a jumper abandoned to the mending basket has now sat for so long I can’t be sure I like it enough to bother darning the few silverfish holes I’ve found in it.

While the op shopping posts are light on, as is the op shopping, rest assured it’s not lost to me or my small corner of the world wide web. Happy National Op Shop Week to you all. May the Op Shop Gods be with you.


August 25, 2014

WINTER 2014 || HOW TO SPEND JUST ONE SINGLE DAY

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || baby shower bunting
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || indoor plant care
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || baby clothes washed and folded
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || girl scout novel from the 1930s
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || camera from the 1930s
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || enid blyton famous five collection
I ONLY had one day at home this weekend but I made the most of it. Bunting for a coming baby shower was crafted, indoor plants given a little love and attention, little singlets and rompers and fluffy nappies were admired* in their freshly washed and folded state and newly thrifted additions were moved around until I found a perfect home for them.

A big hello to the other readers of my blog. Seems I am not just blogging for one.
* Admired because I didn't do any of this washing or folding.

August 21, 2014

WINTER 2014 || I BLOG FOR AN AUDIENCE OF ONE


Earlier this month I had a chance to catch up with two gorgeous people I usually only visit online. Aside from one noisy social event where I had to steal away early, it’s been years since I’ve seen either face to face. One was a flat mate from my uni days: a woman who has known me for more than 20 years and long before we’d both met our respective partners, grown our families and thrown ourselves at our respective careers. The other knows me only through my blog and hasn’t known me that long. Hell, she doesn’t really know me at all, but she’s my kinda gal and, well, let’s just say, I love her work.

Both are savvy digital storytellers – one a closet blogger, though I am yet to find her secret stash of posts (I am pretty sure they’re out there) and one a lapsed blogger. Both asked why I still blogged.

It’s a freakin’ good question, a question I’ve been chewing over for probably a year or more. Yet, it was these offline conversations about blogging that helped illuminate the answer.

I blog for my own freakin’ self.

It’s true. I am my blog’s audience – and an audience of one it may well be.

I bow down to the master blogger and because I manage and pitch content for online audiences professionally, I know what a big job it is. But that is my job and my blog is not my job. No sir, I got no time for that. I have a job and I don’t need another one. Neither do I have aspirations to turn my blog into a chore. I turn away every offer of product – why I am even offered it I have no idea. Let me just say now, to every product marketer, my PIs, let alone UBs are woeful. Don’t even bother.

I blog for me.

When I redesign a header, or buttons for a side bar, I do it because I like how it looks. When I take photos for a post, they’re photos I love and am proud of. When I write, I am writing and editing for my own pleasure – away from copywriting pressures and statistical accuracies and stakeholders that need their fair representation. When I roll through my posts, I am quietly pleased at what I see. If someone else likes it too and stops for a moment to craft a comment, I am overjoyed at the connection. There are no trolls, there are no calendars or schedules of content. I craft and create and write when the mood takes me. This blog is my digital room of one’s own.

As narcissistic as it sounds, it's a blog about me: a wicked stepmother to four; a Girl Guide leader; a woman who can (easily) be bribed with Violet Crumble.

It’s also for me: an op-shopping Nana Crackers to one (with one due any day); a work-a-holic storyteller with an eye on the world; a woman happy in her garden, knitting or baking.

Hello me.

August 08, 2014

WINTER 2014 || PINNING THINGS SWEET

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pinning things to make and do
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pinning things to cook and eat
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pinning things to drop dough on
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pinning things to hang on the wall
I NOTICED new leaves budding on my pomegranate tree today. The cream coloured Clivia my mum potted up for me has buds on it and the snowdrops are coming to the end of their late winter flowering. The air smells sweeter and despite this week's run of cold mornings, the days are warm and you can feel that spring is around the corner. Just three more weeks and we'll be there.

Are you a summer or a winter person, a spring or an autumn person?

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: These shorts remind me of the terry towelling ones my sister and I used to knock about in when we were wee things growing up with brown legs and blond tips in Central Queensland in the late 1970s and early '80s. They're reimagined here for sleeping, heading to the beach, wearing with this top, or running - I am going to get back to the running.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Your teeth hurt just looking at it.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: You know what, you can't even buy these but there is a giveaway and you could add a little pressure in the comments.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: You could easily do this yourself, or get the whole family involved, and with a little Blu-Tac, create a street of sweet houses, or a suburb, or a mini city.

#flashback: There was no 'Pinning Things' post this time last year, but I did have definite street-style envy.

August 03, 2014

WINTER 2014 || IT'S TOO COLD TO MOVE

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || dad's handknitted socks

IT’S cold, cold, cold this morning. I’m working up to donning running shorts and my joggers to go for a run. I know I’ll love it. I know I’ll feel great after it, but my head resists changing out of warm socks and long pants on toe-numbingly cold days like this.

These are my dad’s socks, the ones I spent forever knitting and finished in June, for his birthday in May, and still haven’t sent. Gah! I am an organised, efficient person in all areas of my life except for personal correspondence, family phone calls and family birthdays. On all these matters I am woeful.

However, I'm claiming widely read, and soon-to-be a smug Sunday runner.


I'm off for that run (after one more cup of tea).

July 31, 2014

WINTER 2014 || JULY... I'VE DONE IT

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || Splendour in the Grass craft tent

THE hints were in my inbox. Every time an Oztix or Moshtix email came through, I gave it a cursory glance and deleted it. Who were these nobodies trying to get me to buy tickets to their shows? Turns out they are somebodies and I’ve just reached that *er, hmm* magical age where the men and women gracing cool and hip (and let’s face it, not so cool, nor hip) street mags are completely unknown to me, as are the line-ups of pretty much every major music festival.

So, imagine how completely out of her depth this 40-year-old nana was lurking back stage – and at times, right in front of the stage – at Splendour in the Grass this month. Out of my freakin’ mosh-pit depth.

But the artists I interviewed with the help of my cool and hip young colleagues didn’t seem to mind, and if you want to know what The 1975, or Sky Ferreria, or 360, or The Jezabels, or Art vs Science or loads of other hip young things have to say about their childhoods and child rights, you can check out the UNICEF Australia playlist right here.

Other than needing a rather significant nana nap after all that doof, doof, doof, here’s what else was note-worthy in July.

I READ... I love a book club for introducing me to books I would never otherwise pluck from the bookstore shelf. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, had me hooked. Spoiler alert – I guessed it was a set up early on but, oh, how very evil and very disturbing are the characters. Have you read it? Are you busting for the movie?

I have bailed on this month’s The Walking Book Club's selection, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. Maybe I need to give it more airtime, it's a bit too "blah, blah, blah-de-blah" talk, talk, talk for me.

I WENT TO... Well, Splendour in The Grass, obviously. I took one photo for myself the whole four days I was up north (see said photo above) – and it was, appropriately for me, the craft tent. Sadly, I didn’t even get a look in there.

I LISTENED TO... and even pulled my dancing mojo from somewhere for Splendour teaser KOOII. Hit me with your favourite new music. Splendour was a good reminder that I need to diversify the iTunes library. It’s all a bit same same, so, come on, gimme. Go. Now. What should I be listening to?

I ATE... Byron Bay has some seriously top notch eating digs for a coastal town well away from the big smoke. The coffee was good, I had a tasty tapas lunch at The Balcony Bar and scoffed a seriously large slab of banana bread with pecan butter from one of the many local cafes, but the standout was my travelling companion’s choice of the newly opened Italian restaurant, Cicchetti. Seriously good, honest, simple, flavoursome Italian. This ain't no pizza joint.

I SAW... Who am I kidding? I can’t even keep up with free-to-air television. Who’s this fella Nina’s seeing? What’s happening on The Time of Our Lives? Who won MasterChef and The Voice? I know. Sad, right?

I MADE... A macrame hanger for a glass jar candle-holder. Bring on summer, I say. These pretties will light up our outdoor dining space.

Have a wonderful August. I can feel spring. It's around the corner.

July 19, 2014

PIN MY WAY || MACRAME HANGING CANDLE HOLDER

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pinmyway macrame hanging candle hanger
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || macrame hanging candle hanger
I PINNED this picture of macramé-wrapped glass jars some time ago hoping to refashion the project into something simple to make at a Girl Guide camp, but also coveting them to hang in my own garden. We have a large outdoor table and in summer it's the setting for family gatherings. It's big enough to seat about 10 to 12 people comfortably, 16 at a squeeze, and even with more people it's the central point for putting out a spread of food.

The only real problem over past summers is uninvited guests: mosquitoes. We often have mosquito coils or candles burning to rid ourselves of these pesky interlopers but with more little people around than we've had in past years I want to put the citronella candles up high, and these hanging candle holders will be just the thing.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || now you do it macrame hanging candle hanger
EQUIPMENT
Six lengths of garden or craft twine, cut to about 1.6m in length.
A glass jar.
 
WHAT TO DO
The jars I used were saved chutney and condiment jars. My advice is to ensure they're a cylindrical barrel for the first hangers you attempt. It's easier to create the form around the jar's even shape, or even the shape of a tin, and add a more novel jar later.
 
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || the first knot macrame hanging candle hanger
Start by grouping your six lengths of twine and, holding them together, tie in the middle using a simple overhand knot.
 
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || the second round of knots macrame hanging candle hanger
Take two pieces of string from either side of the knot, hold them together like they were once piece of twine and tie another overhand knot.
 
Do the same on the opposite side of your middle knot. Pick up two pieces of twine from either side of these knots and repeat the overhand knot, making sure each knot is equal distance from the middle knot. Continue to pick up two pieces of twine that are lying next to each other until there are no more knots to tie. You should have six knots, all equal distance from that centre knot. My first jar had a series of eight knots, but six knots is easier to achieve and the look is no different.
 
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || shaping the form macrame hanging candle hanger
Next, from two adjacent knots take one piece of twine and double them up into a new pairing. Tie a new double overhand. Keep these tight; you should have a diamond shape. Continue around the pattern. I add my glass jar about here and start working the pattern up the jar. This can feel awkward for the second round, but by the third round the pattern will start to hug the jar and you'll see your hanger taking shape.
 
Once you've repeated the pattern of knots, taking one piece of twine and making new knotting pairs all the way up the jar, group all of your twine together again and finish off with a final overhand knot.
 

 
Drop your citronella tea light into the jar, light it and hang. Enjoy.
 
#pinmyway image source // Terrain