Monday, August 27, 2012

Dusting off the (leg) pipes..........

A sunny day meant an outing was in order. Mr Pickle suggested we go and explore a nearby national park so we headed to the Organ Pipes National Park.

Wide open spaces and hills to climb.......


A lava formed cliff face of organ pipe like rock formations..........

 Long tracks to meander at one's own pace................


Native spring blossoms, interesting moss and trees shedding their winter many lovely snippets of nature to enjoy.

The yellow sprig I'm holding in my hand was from a type of bush that was abundant in one part of the park and the scent from these blooms was absolutely beautiful. I'd like to find out what it is somehow as it would be a great native to plant in the garden...... I'm wondering if its Lemon Myrtle but have no idea what that looks like really.


A dragon tree to ride............


Sticks, sticks and more sticks.........

More interesting rock formations. This one is called Rosette's Stone.

The Tessellated pavement.

This was a pretty interesting place and fairly quiet for a Sunday. Wildlife was mostly non-evident though with the exception of some very lovely blue wrens. There was also the rather odd contrast between the tranquil surroundings and the very regular overhead passings of low flying jumbo jets from the nearby airport.
Next time we might head a little further afield and explore Hanging Rock or the Dandenong Ranges.
With Little Pickles ability to just keep on keeping on we are now ready to embark on some bushwalking providing the walk is short enough to allow the requisite meandering and stopping to examine all anthills, animal burrows, spiders webs etc.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sometimes mother doesn't know best.......

Call me traditional or perhaps unimaginative but I tend to think of the beach as a warm weather place. Sure rugged up winter strolls on the beach can be nice but the actual digging in the sand, paddling in the water sort of stuff....well, that is more a Summer, Maybe Spring thing in my thinking.

We visited my sister and her new husband by the sea a few weeks ago. It took a creative brother-in-law to give the boys a wonderful beach outing on a kind of, slightly, when the sun was shining, warm Winter day. How they loved it! Big Pickle took on to dig and dig....and dig and as promised by uncle, he found water. Magic to him.

Meanwhile Little Pickle ran and ran and relished the feeling of wet sand through his toes. He was even brave enough to play chicken with the waves.

When this mama arrived they were wet, sandy and sated. So, their woolen clothes were caked in sand and there were no towels or dry clothes there with us.... The house was close by so a warm shower was soon had and these lucky boys had an adventure their mother wouldn't have thought to give them.

Oh, warm Spring weather - how we await thee!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trifling with thoughts of Spring....

Just when a breathtaking umbrella display in the city reminded me to embrace Winter, this tree in our street decided to affirm Spring's imminent arrival.
Then today we were treated to almost balmy 18 degree weather that finally inspired me to get out in my beyond neglected garden and start putting my constantly thought of and never acted on plans for a vegetable garden into action.
Turned over beds and newly planted seeds don't make for very interesting pictures so you'll just have to believe me at this stage.
Beds were deeply dug, fertilised and duly prepared. An almost forgotten seed box meant that I could plant beetroot, carrots, coriander, lettuce, basil, celery and zucchini. A couple of these are possibly a bit early but I thought while I was inspired I'd take a punt. I also put in some Snow Peas and Sweet Peas that may or may not take.

Warmer weather also allows for more walks and more opportunities to spot more examples of our favourite street artist's work. She is known as Baby Guerrilla and her beautiful paper stencils are scattered all over our local area. Big Pickle watches for them wherever we go and we particularly love the ones of sleeping/flying people like the mother with her baby in her arms and two children trailing behind.

My nephew made his First communion last weekend and I was asked to bring a dessert to the family celebration. My sister asked "Do you make trifle?" and I answered "No, but I could give it a go. I don't like the alcohol or coffee ones though". Turns out neither does she and so this trifle was born:

Rhubarb and berry mascarpone trifle

Preparation Time

30 minutes

Cooking Time

40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 bunches rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 4cm lengths
  • 250g fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 oranges, juiced, 1 zested
  • 10 wide sponge fingers (savoiardi), halved widthwise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 8 ginger nut biscuits, crushed
  • Custard

  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • Mascarpone mixture

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 750g (3 cups) mascarpone
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 2 oranges, zested


  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place rhubarb and blueberries in a ceramic or glass baking dish, scatter over sugar and drizzle with half the orange juice. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, to make custard, place cream in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Gradually pour hot cream into egg yolk mixture, whisking until incorporated. Return the mixture to the pan over low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Do not boil. Transfer custard to a bowl and place in the freezer to cool quickly.
  3. To make mascarpone mixture, using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and sugar until tripled in volume. Add mascarpone, cream and orange zest, and whisk mixture to almost stiff peaks.
  4. To assemble trifle, place sponge fingers in the base of a 4L (16-cup) bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice and remaining orange juice. Pour the cooled custard over. Top with half the mascarpone mixture and scatter with three-quarters of the crushed biscuits. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove rhubarb mixture from the baking dish (reserving the fruit juices) and place over biscuits, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
  5. Place the reserved juices in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Transfer syrup to a small cup. Refrigerate, along with the trifle, for 2 hours or overnight to cool completely.
  6. To serve, drizzle a little syrup over the trifle and scatter with orange zest and remaining crushed biscuits.
Soooooooo, sooooo good!!
My first attempt at custard from scratch. Amazingly it worked and oh how much better than the custard powder version. The Mascarpone mixture was completely delicious too. Fresh raspberries would be better than the frozen blueberries or even just fresh blueberries.....but not in winter!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sunshine after the rain..........

I had a little trip to the city today........alone. A rare and treasured pleasure. Just as I was about to head into a building for an appointment I caught a glimpse of something wondrous in a shopping centre across the road. With a few moments to spare I had to investigate and how glad I was that I did.
I walked in to the treat of this amazing display of colourful umbrellas.

Spirit lifting, perspective changing.....a sigh, a deep restorative breath. A feast of such unexpected joyousness on a grey, cold Melbourne day. Inspired piece of public art I say. I also say thank you to whomever had such vision and such a captivating desire to remind us all to smile at the rain.

So, with a rekindled commitment to embrace the positive I visited a few other favourite city sights.
Nothing like window shopping for cakes and inside shopping for the best chocolates.

A little visit to my favourite textiles shop - this place truly restores my soul and has become an unmissable feature in my irregular trips to the city. One thing missing from this store is a big comfy armchair where I could sit, knit and drink in the beautiful atmosphere of this little haven.

By this stage it was definitely time for a coffee and a bite to eat but all my preferred city cafes were busy and suddenly felt too loud and too crowded so a quick train ride and I was back near home to enjoy one of the many new cafes that have popped up in my suburb.

After a fit of fabulously selfish sewing yesterday I also had three new skirts to choose from for my city jaunt. I went with the bird print on the left and felt quite spiffy in it.
With two more skirts cut out ready to sew up I'm looking forward to lots of new outfits in coming weeks.

There was one last thing to take care of before I headed home - a treat for the Pickles.
As I cradled a warm bag of naughty goodness on the tram home I couldn't wait to share those and the pictures of the umbrella wonderland.

Though today was mostly about admiring others creativity, I'll join in with Linda's Creative Friday

So, the day ended with some new treasures, chocolate to savour and the first section of Shalom's yoke redone.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Pickle Pants

Rainy cold weather is very conducent to sewing in this house. I have had these tweed pants cut out for Big Pickle for some time just awaiting a day when I could whip them up.

Yesterday after a consultation with 'my wise knitting friend' I realised that I had to give in to my feeling that the Shalom Cardigan I'm knitting has some rows that aren't right and courageously pull it back.......... ! Big decision for me as I still feel like I'm a very slow knitter and all progress is sacred and very hard to let go of. I had made it to the end of the yoke and was just about to start on the body but the back the front knit line and the foolhardy mid-row ball change resulting in a lumpy knot plus one of the three yoke sections being a row short were all problems I was not going to be able to ignore. 'My wise knitting friend' pointed out that repeating is more practice and will always end in a better result and that if I was pulling back two thirds I might as well do the lot and start from scratch.....!!

So, to garner enough strength for the great unravelling, I made these pants. Wool tweed from the stash, lined in grey cotton with a snazzy little linen print that I've been saving for just this purpose. An Echino print from their ni-co range designed by Etsuko Furuya. I love its lineny goodness and the warm chocolatey background and of course those spunky cars.
I'm quite sure my boys will look back on their childhood and wonder why nearly all their pants had cars on them........I think I'm a closet rev head.

Adjustable waists are a must for Big Pickle these days. He seems to grow another inch each week and each time he shoots up he gets more lanky and his pants start slipping off again. In an adventurous and quirky move I utilised an external elastic casing like I've done on Little Pickle's belted 'dancing man pants' but then realised I didn't want a belt as such so he has the buttons for the adjusting on the outside and that means you can see the elastic......not ideal but perhaps we can pretend its a feature.

Little Pickle's new reversible cords have been in circulation for a week or so now and are keeping him both warm and comfortable.
And now I need to go back to Shalom and see if I can get back to the point I was up to and then beyond. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thinking large.......

Apparently most 'real' knitters have several projects on the go at any given time..... This is what I've been told by some knitting friends of mine and I hold onto that idea as I watch the projects mount up around me. With at least two hats, a cat, a pig, and a vest for Little Pickle all on the needles already I decided to give in to a long term urge to knit something for myself.

The fact is I NEED to knit something for myself. I'm cold and I don't really like any jumpers or cardigans in shops even if I did have the funds to acquire them.

One particular knitting friend has been quietly encouraging me for some time to just give it a go. When I again lamented the fact that I simply lacked the courage....and possibly the commitment she stepped up to some much needed specific guidance: "Make the Shalom Cardigan. Wait for the next wool sale at Spotlight and buy the Cleakheaton Country Wide yarn and then just start".

So I did all that. She also said it would only take me a couple of days to a week.........?!
Well, I knitted the first eight rows four times and still wasn't happy with it. It just didn't look right. Though I was using the prescribed needle size for the yarn it looked gappy and loose.
At this point I remembered one of this clever friends key knitting rules - 'always knit the gauge swatch'.
I knit slowly. So, in my lack of infinite wisdom I figure that I just need to start in on the real thing and it will work out fine.....except it wasn't working out fine at all.
Instead of following wise advice I went to a favourite yarn shop and consulted the lovely knitting guy there (something really nice about a male who knits and works in a wool shop). He suggested dropping down a couple of needle sizes and suggested changing to a different type of circular needle.
I needed little convincing as I still remember watching with envy as my friend bought one of the lovely multi-coloured wooden needles with the tips that screw off and interchange with other sizes. So fancy, so professional, so pretty and now that I'm using it, so much easier and smoother to knit with.

Watching this actual grownup garment grow is very satisfying and I am determined to keep at it for as long as it takes to finish.....not a week.....maybe two....two and a bit? I'll report back.

Reading material around here at the moment is all very non-fiction in nature. Whilst knitting is certainly a source of calm in my life, I'm looking to find some other sources so hence the book on meditation.
We are also embarking on a new journey with a recent diagnosis for Big Pickle. So much to learn and happy to have the knowledge and expertise of people like Tony Attwood to help us.

This picture above is my first Dresden Plate for the quilt for my bed which I started a very long time ago. Something very soothing about sewing this precise and pretty piece, one down and about 10 more to go.... Perhaps this will be another long standing project to make progress on in coming months.

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.