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
 

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.