Thursday, May 29, 2008

Backyard Blitz

It is time we did something about our back yard. We were going to do it a while ago, but then the underpinning of the house had to be done and our bank balance took a beating. We have recovered sufficiently now to address the garden.

We had a design and quote some years ago, and resurrected it. According to the King Street Conservatory, who did the quote, this is the longest sleeping quote they have ever had.

I've just let everything go in the garden. Self-sown compost tomatoes have taken over, grass and weeds have run riot. Stuff has sprung up between the paving bricks, it is all an utter miserable mess. The before photos in the album show how terrible it is.

Blokes and a skip arrived this morning, so at last the process begins. Steve and Rick are out the back and down the side of the house. Majic is dying to be a Builder's Pug (he adores tradesmen, and a while ago made a bid to be a Plumber's Pug) and he is great at getting underfoot and making a pest of himself. Here he is keeping an eye on Steve:

Monday, May 26, 2008

While the cat's away

My mother has gone off to the US, by herself, to visit her twin brother and her older sister. She wanted to celebrate her 86th birthday with her twin brother, and to visit her sister, aged 93. Those are pretty good genes I have inherited, I reckon.

Mum lives only a few doors away from us, and we eat dinner together most nights. Mum is gluten and lactose intolerant, so there are quite a few things that are verboten for us. We don't mind that, there are plenty of alternatives, but now there is terrible freedom! We can eat wheat and milk! We made a list of things to eat while she is gone. Here it is:

  • Wonton wrappers - little prawn dumplings coming up
  • Burgers, cooked on toasty bread bases
  • Pizza
  • Fettucine and spaghetti
  • Floured and crumbed fish
  • Veal schnitzel, floured with tarragon, with a lemon sauce (somehow no other flour works as well)
  • Cous cous, as itself, or as a crumb coating for fish or meat
  • Filo pastry parcels
  • Puff pastry

Hmmm, how is this going to affect The Diet, I wonder?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bronte to Bondi

I've wanted to do the Bronte to Bondi walk for ages. Summer isn't the time to do it - parking is too hard, and it would be too hot. I definitely didn't want to go when Sculpture by the Sea was on - far too crowded. So I suggested to Lien that we do it this weekend. She agreed.

The plan was to park at Bronte, walk to Bondi, eat, and walk back. And that is exactly what we did. The weather was pretty gloomy when we started out, but by the time we got walking it had cleared up and was wonderful. There were still people about, but not too many.

I took my camera, of course, and captured lots of images. I LOVE having a digital camera, one can be so profligate with images. Snap snap snap click click click click click. I am not too good at deleting them, but adore taking them.

The water, the waves, it all looked so splendid and sparkling in the sunshine. I wished I could be out there on a board too!

The rock formations are wonderful. They look alive, almost. This one reminded me very much of Gaudi's architecture. We watched a movie about Gaudi while we were in Hawaii, so his work is much in my mind.

The colours in the sandstone are so varied. From grey and black and white, through to all the bright yellows and oranges and reds.

Crumbed whiting and a serve of chips between us, eaten at Bondi Beach, tasted pretty darned good. We walked quickly back to Bronte to work off the calories.

Our next venture is going to be the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. I've done that one before, but it was a long time ago, and I'm ready to do it again.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hat leash

When we were at the top of the Aloha Tower we espied two Japanese wearing hats. More than that, they were wearing hat leashes. Theirs were pretty fancy - hers was a jewelled owl in gold, with a gold chain. We were immediately jealous and went into the hat shop in the shopping centre to see whether they had any. No such luck, alas.

Now we are home I have plans for a beaded tatted crocheted netted embroidered version, but until then two bulldog clips and a shoelace make a nifty substitute. Here I am demonstrating it with the hat Mum made out of Esperance raffia.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

A pattern to speak of

I spent a goodly amount of time on my holiday working through filet netting. There was one stitch I needed to know more about (point d'esprit) so I finished it when I got home, having consulted my trusty copy of Therese de Dillmont's Bible.

Here it is - my first proper piece of netting, just cut from the mesh. It has been buttonholed around the edge, and you can still see the little bits of the mesh poking out the ends. It has to be washed, and it has to shrink. Then it will all fluff up and the linen stitch will compress, and it will look better. It is SUCH fun to do! I love it. There will be more of this, I can assure you.

Did you know that the Hawaiian flag includes the Union Jack? This piece is a kind of union jack design, so it is appropriate.

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Eating and dieting

I had it set in my mind that I was going to wear my bikini on my birthday. That meant dieting. It was time I lost some weight, and Julie's wedding was another motivating force. So I lost ten kilos over the last five months. I also didn't care too much about dieting while on holiday!

Some of my favourite foods in Honolulu are here:

Mmmmm, taro chips, Azuki (red bean) ice cream, twice a day. Or creme brulee ice cream. Mmmm, haupia - a kind of solid sweet coconut jelly. Love it.

Mmmm, lychee yoghurt! Gingerade - packed a real wallop. Guava nectar - I just love that gritty texture it has.

So it was with some trepidation that I stood on the scales when I got back. Mentally I'd prepared to have gained 3 kgs, worst case. After all, ice cream and chips on a regular basis is hardly dieting.

Morning, on the scales, eyes crunched closed, hands clenched........... eyes peeking a crack........ and I don't believe what I see. I've lost nearly a kilo! Off the scales, back on to check whether I am seeing things. Yup - definitely lost a kilo.

Must be the regular ice cream.

Or maybe it was 40 minutes a day of serious swimming. What do you think?

All is well

The computer has returned unscathed. The jolt from The Mighty Pug resulted in a card being jarred out of its slot, and the hard disk had to be checked. The card is back, the computer is fine, the dog hasn't a worry in the world.

I wasn't too worried either, but there were a few photos that had been downloaded but not yet backed up. Most of them had, but not all. This one was among them.

I love my new digital camera. I love playing with it and seeing instant results, and being able to post them on my blog. This was the best of my Moon Shots from the Plane. It turned out pretty well, I thought.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Pug is in my Bad Books

OK, I confess. I was watching funny pug videos on Youtube. It was the Wonder Pugs video and I was just laughing like crazy when Crazy Pug went into action. He really doesn't like hearing things on the computer, it sends him berserker than usual. He leapt onto the computer box, which was sitting on its side, and pushed it over with a mighty thump.

The video stopped, went jerky. The screen went blue stripey shaky. I decided to reboot. It won't.

Bloody pug. Bloody computers. Thank heavens for the laptop.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Women who run with the Pugs

While I've been lolling around on the sands of Waikiki, Majic has been getting fitter and fitter. I arranged for his walker to come every day instead of once a week while we were away, just so I know he's been out there getting his exercise. Iain and Renee from Paws to Play take him out for runs and romps for an hour every day.

Now I hear that my housesitter has been taking him out for a RUN every evening! Does that mean that I will have to run to keep up with him when I get home? He must be the fittest Pug in all Pugdom. That is a pretty scary prospect. Women who run with the Pugs indeed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Bobbsey twins

It had to happen.

As one walks around Waikiki one often sees couples dressed alike. Honeymooners, old couples, mums and daughters, wearing identical floral numbers.

Yesterday Michael and I, by sheer accident, got dressed in twinnie style. No florals for us though. White pants, dark blue tops. We had to immortalise this moment, so here we are:

Oh, and one more spam shot - this was a work of art for sale - Spambiance. I shall say no more about Spam.

Spam - a LOT of spam!

Yesterday was the 6th annual Waikiki SpamJam. According to the Lonely Planet's Honolulu guide, Hawaii consumes three times the amount of Spam as any other US state. That amounts to nearly eleven thousand cans of it every day. The most visible daily consumption is the spam sushi - a block of rice with fried Spam on top, with a wrapping of nori. They sell like hot cakes.

Kalakaua Street was closed off from 4 pm to 10 pm, and there were lots of festivities. Bands, dancers, food stalls, and Spam himself wandering the street looking cute. We had already decided that takeaway was going to be the order of the day for dinner, so our choices were limitless. Sort of....

Spam anyone?

We eschewed (not chewed..) any form of Spam in favour of the Hawaiian steak and shrimp.

It was truly excellent.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Craft addiction

Readers will know that I am addicted to many kinds of craft. Today I will share with you the booty I brought with me, had sent here, or bought here. Judge for yourself whether my addiction is out of control. Here it is, all collected together.

First, I brought with me my tatting, the perennial tatting. This is the almost-finished second placemat which might one day become four placemats which may one day get joined into one big tablecloth. I like tatting for many reasons. It is small and portable, it goes on planes because it uses a little plastic shuttle, not needles or hooks. You don't need to see much to do it - it can be done in relatively dim lighting. And once you know the pattern (and I know this one very well now), it is mindless and soothing.

I also brought the filet lace kit my sister (bless her soul) gave me for my birthday. What you see on the stretcher frame now is my next doily, with a pattern this time. You also see the pattern I am using. Making the pattern is a fascinating combination of dotting in the squares you want to fill, then tracing a single continuous line around them all. Then you follow that with your (long ball-pointed) needle and thread.

On a trip up to the Lyon Aboretum with Julie and Martin we stopped for lunch at Kailua. There was a bead shop, and there was a 50% off sale on Swarovski crystals. I bought their stock of purple velvet small bicones, which will become a beaded rose with baby's breath to form Martin's buttonhole for The Wedding. I have made two experiments, and we think these crystals will be perfect. We hope so!

Before I left Sydney, I placed an order with Beadwrangler for two beadspinners - a small one for seed beads and a larger one. Fill the bowl of these twirly devices with beads, stick a wire or needle and thread in at a certain angle, spin... and the beads just climb onto the wire or needle. As one who enjoys knitting, tatting and crochet with beads, and making beaded flowers, these spinners are going to save me hours of hand-stringing time. It is so boring, and I hope these are going to work. Included was a free pack of amethyst coloured seed beads, and a wooden spool for the strung yarn or whatever.

There was a trip to the Temple of Craft in Honolulu, Flora Dec. I love this place. It is jammed with goodies - eyelash yarn to make leis with, craft wire, stickers, paper punches, artificial flowers, and so much more. Beads, glitter, you name it. Michael was amazed at the amount of stuff. I reckon half or more of Hawaiian craft souvenirs start here. It is a great place to buy non-flower leis, they are beautiful and reasonable. I might have to make another expedition there, as I didn't even dare peek into the huge warehouse section.

I was on a search for coloured craft wire, with which to make French beaded flowers. In particuar, the rose for Julie's Boy's buttonhole at the wedding. In general, flowers to grace the house or become gifts for people. They are fun to make. I found the coloured wire, and you see it here. Green stem wire, green wire for leaves, purple wire for flowers, and a variety pack for whatever I think to do with it. I found florist's tape (for binding the stems). I couldn't resist a spool of lilac silk rattail, for maybe making a crocheted lei out of the dark red eyelash yarn I bought on the last trip (with instructions), or for Chinese Knotting. (although that's hard to do and I haven't mastered it by any stretch of the imagination.)

Here's the Flora Dec haul:

Julie the Knitter was most willing to accompany me on a visit to Isle Knits. This is a tiny shop on the 14th floor of an office building in downtown Honolulu. A treasure trove. I was on the hunt for tiny circular needles for bead knitting. Knitting beads on rayon thread on metal double-pointed needles is an exercise in slippery frustrating. Perhaps the technique of two circulars will serve me better. Did she have any OOO circulars? Yes. She even had 0000 circulars. I took two for the bead knitting. My sister also sent me a book on using two circulars for sock knitting, so I bought two of the appropriate size for that purpose. And while I was there, there was this lovely silk alpaca that Julie said would be enough to make a Swallowtail shawl with, so the appropriate amount leapt into my shopping bag.

Here is the haul from Isle Knits:

The common thread running through most of my crafts, I realise, is exactly that - a single continuous thread (or wire, in the case of the beaded flowers.) I love what you can do with a thread. That fascination extends to string games too, which I will blog about one day.

You can never be bored if you have a thread.