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
 

July 13, 2014

WINTER 2014 || LITTLE MOMENTS FROM A BIG, BUSTLING LIFE

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pumpkin apple and thyme soup
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || ted judy cinderella and jemima
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || orange and almond biscuits
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || red shoes and a gifted flower
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || scraps for the compost
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || rocket from the garden
WEEKENDS come and go so quickly. I left the camera on the kitchen table this weekend and tried to capture all the little moments; all the sweet little moments that make up this big, busy, bustling life.

July 06, 2014

WINTER 2014 || PINNING THINGS SOLID

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || july things to make and do
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || july things to cook and eat
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || july things to drop dough on
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || july things to hang on the wall
THE winter solstice has been and gone and I reckon I can already see a lighter sky when I board the ferry for home in the evenings. Big clear blue skies are one of my favourite things about winter, and a reminder of country winters, which this year I am missing. I am sure it's what has me craving pub meals, like big solid juicy veggie burgers, or chicken pies, and heavy earthenware bowls and plates to eat them from.
 
What are your favourite winter things?
 
THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: This is inspiration for a top I want to make. I bought a large wrap skirt in a dark denim-coloured linen from a op shop for $5 and will use the fabric to cut a pattern. I want that look of solid, durable denim that can be layered over a long sleeve tee, but that's light enough to be worn on its own when the weather turns warm.
 
THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Is your mouth watering? How could it not be? A red lentil and cauliflower burger with chipotle habanero mayo, onion rings and roasted peppers. Drool.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: You'd be forgiven for picking these up from the table and cradling them close to shovel up a soup or a curry or casserole.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: I saw the Himalayas, and more importantly Everest, from the air during last year's travel to Bhutan. Not one photo I took captures that mountain peak anywhere near as beautifully as Conrad Jon Godly's depiction of the Swiss Alps do.

#flashback: Blogging was light on this time last year but the photos from this post are among my blog favourites.

June 30, 2014

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


WELL, so much for maintaining the slow and easy pace of last month. Back to work and back to one million and one things to do. All good, mind you, but work projects are creeping into my night-time imaginings and this past week I've had several bouts of insomnia pondering the how-tos and what-fors. Gah!

I READ... Naomi Wood's Mrs Hemingway. I lean toward fictionalised accounts of historical identities and this one was a book I found myself coming back to with ease. I read most nights before lights out and I'd be reading this one well past the chapter or two I usually allow myself. 

 
I also read The Walking Book Club's June read, The Land of Decoration, by Grace McCleen.

I WENT TO... The Etsy Craft Party at Workshop in Sydney, hosted by Blog Society, Heart You Forever And A Day and Happy Families Design. It was a bit of fun and a chance to catch up with a girlfriend and former colleague.
 
The Etsy Craft Party was the same evening as the opening night of Sydney's winter Finders Keepers market where my work colleague and all-round crafting wonder Mia Cox had her very first Finders Keepers stall.
 
My partner and I also packed up our winter woollies and took a weekend trip to the Southern Highlands. My folks are at Bundanoon and we revelled in my mum's home made soups, cakes and biscuits and my dad's hot breakfasts.

I LISTENED TO... My panel colleagues discuss technology versus mankind for a 2SER community radio broadcast. If you want to hear my thoughts on the subject, and indeed what I sound like, the podcast is here.

I ATE... My office farewelled a team member for the period of her maternity leave. We booked Chinta Ria, at Darling Harbour in Sydney for a work lunch and we shared plates of tasty Malaysian treats. The gado gado was good.

 
Speaking of Malaysian treats, Alice's Makan, in the food court on the corner of George and Bathurst Streets, in Sydney, is a lunch go-to. The chicken curry with roti is a standout if you're looking for serious comfort food.

I SAW... Honestly, I don't know why I keep this subhead here. There's no time for new movies and I don't really keep up with what's on the box.

I MADE... I am so close to casting off on my first ever pair of knitted socks. They're only about two months too late for my Dad's birthday but I shared one of them with him when we visited this month and he's pretty sure he can *coughcough* find a use for them - a use that may have nothing to do with keeping his toes warm. Oh well. I'll soon start on knitted gloves for my Mum. She gave me some wool. What's a girl to do.

Have a wonderful July. The winter solstice has been and gone and we're turning back towards the sun. Thank goodness.


June 29, 2014

WINTER 2014 || TASTY TITBITS PLUS JAM ROLY-POLY

I DON'T know about you but even though it’s not been a particularly cold winter (this weekend aside), I have put on what I prefer to call, a buffer layer. Cheesy scones, basil pesto (yes, still) and jam roly-poly may well be among the main offenders.

But seriously, how good is jam roly-poly? You make it, right? It’s so simple and if ever there was a reason to make a little excess short crust pasty, this is it. It’s even better if you add a little vintage cheddar or parmesan cheese to the pastry. That sweet jammy goodness against the sharp bite of cheese… oh yeah.

And every batch of roly-poly must be accompanied by a cup of tea and a good read.


Happy reading, and eating.

June 08, 2014

WINTER 2014 || BRING NATURE IN, MAKE SMOKE PRINTS

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns
SO many of the Girl Guide programs I write for modern girls and young women are not that different to the programs my predecessors would have written for their charges.

This particular activity is straight from the UK edition of the 1956 leader's handbook, The Girl Guide Omnibus Book of Ideas and there's little I've done to change it.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns equipment list
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns making smoke
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns the final print

What a smoke print of leaves offers is a chance to observe nature and instruct young nature lovers on the careful removal of specimens from urban bushland (not National Parks) or gardens and parks. I usually set a particular challenge for the Guides, like finding three different kinds of ferns, or finding particular shapes of leaves - one round, one thin and long and one that looks like the Girl Guide trefoil.

The making of the smoke print also offers chance to light a match and hold it to a candle - a skill so few girls I instruct have when they start Guides - and to be deliberate and patient, which can be a challenge for some. It's also a chance to fail, for things not to turn out quite as you expect but to love them just the same. Nature is unpredictable and this is an activity with results that will vary. Enjoying what you learned and sharing what worked is part of the journey.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns laying the fern
EQUIPMENT
A piece of glass (I used glass from an old photo frame bought at the op shop)
Matches
A freestanding candle (tea light candles work well)
Thick paper (absorbent kitchen paper is ideal)
White paper to press your print onto
A soup spoon
A leaf, ideally one that will lie flat

WHAT TO DO
"Choose leaves of distinctive shape, not too stiff and not too large. Put down the glass on a perfectly flat surface, smoked side uppermost. Place the leaf on the smoked glass face down and hold it in position until you have placed over it a piece of thickish paper. Then press hard on the paper, rubbing thoroughly the surface immediately above the leaf. Remove paper and leaf, then place the leaf carefully, blackened side downwards, on the piece of white paper ready to receive the smoke print. Place a piece of thickish paper on top, and rub hard the whole surface above the leaf. Be careful to hold both leaf and paper quite steady, or the smoke print will smudge. It can be 'fixed' by spraying with the same liquid which is used to fix charcoal drawings."
The Girl Guide Omnibus Book of Ideas, E.M.R Burgess, 1956
 
The omission above is how to 'smoke' the glass. Light the candle and let it burn a moment. A newly lit candle won't work quite so well. Hold the glass above the candle and move it down over the flame until you find the point where it produces the best coverage of 'smoke'. I found tilting the glass just a little helped with the blackening.
 
I also found a soup spoon rubbed very gently over the thick, or kitchen, paper helped even out the print. Block or lino printmakers will be familiar with this technique.
 
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || smoke prints with ferns relief print
 katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || girl guide omnibus book of ideas
 

June 05, 2014

WINTER 2014 || PINNING THINGS SIMPLE

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || june things to make and do
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || june things to cook and eat
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || june things to drop dough on
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || june things to hang on the wall
IT'S winter and routines seem pared back, simple. Days are short, the winter garden is bare, meals are simple fare. I don't mind it at all.

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: It's so simple. I get myself all tied up in knots about not having enough time for artistic pursuits, printmaking in particular. But this is so simple, I have no excuses for not being able to find the time to play.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: I am one of those rare breed of people who actually like Brussels Sprouts and this is the season to be eating them.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Macaroni is not just for Mac and Cheese or Minestrone, it's for making beautiful necklaces. Even better if it's the inspiration for beautiful ceramic necklaces.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: More printmaking, this time a lino print, and again, a reminder that I spend too much time thinking about the print and not enough time making them.

#flashback: Here's what made the Pinterest cut this time last year.