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14 Dec 2013

I Played Yarn Chicken and Lost

Posted by jenwren. Comments Off

In December 2011 I started a crochet blanket from yarn (Bendigo Rustic 8 ply) I dyed myself in six colours. I’ve worked on it off and on, with other projects in between, but in the last 3-4 months I’ve pushed on to try and finish the blanket – before it reaches its second birthday!

I reached a point at which I thought I did not have enough yarn to make another row of hexagons, so finished off the end of the blanket with some half-hexies, weighed the amount of yarn left, then started on a border. The idea was to use all the existing yarn to make as much of the border as possible, and if needed, dye up more yarn in one colour to complete it if it was not deep enough. I reached the last colour with just under two rounds of the blanket for the ideal border to go. I knew what I had left wasn’t going to go around twice, but if it made it around once, I’d settle for calling it done. It was a will-I-won’t-I all the way…


I played yarn chicken and lost.

I had just 20cm to go – from where the crochet hook is to the top right of the pink-bordered hexie – where the grey and brown of the border meet. So close!

Time to dye some more yarn and finish the border properly with that 20cm plus one more round… Problem is, my dyes and dyeing equipment are still packed from my house move in July. That’s them in the middle box on the bottom layer…


I could unpack the box, but there’s nowhere to unpack the box to, because there are quite a few rearrangements yet to occur in my new home. See, this unit was rented from when it was new, about 9 years ago, until I bought it. The previous owners had done nothing to the place. Nothing at all to make it liveable. No fly screens. No screen doors. No gate on the side of the terrace. And no storage enclosure securing the storage area from the car spaces in the communal garage. Consequently, without adequate ventilation, there has been condensation issues in the main bedroom (that will be the first room I eventually repaint, but that is a fair way down the long list yet!) and no secure storage space outside either on the terrace or in the designated storage area.

I have had the ventilation seen to by installing screen doors all over the place and a security screen on the study window. Though that took until late October due to issues getting permission from the executive committee of the strata (they’d lost the key to the letterbox *facepalm*) then obtaining a quote and waiting weeks for manufacture and installation. Here’s some of them during installation:


I’ve also installed better locks all over the place (which already prevented an attempted break in on one of the terrace doors), replaced the kitchen tap mixer that was totally buggered, and replaced the split system air conditioning (thanks to an unexpectedly dead system on moving in). On Monday, an electrician is coming to put up a ceiling fan/light in the main bedroom and put an additional powerpoint inside the storage cage so I can move the freezer out there. Which leaves two main outstanding items of immediate need – the gate and the storage cage.


There’s not a lot you can store in an unsecured storage area – consequently, since moving, I’ve had a lot of stuff sitting in my parents garage (which my Father is constantly reminding me about!) and more stuffed into various places inside my unit. I approved a quote for the storage cage in late September. In early October, before term commenced, I had more precise measurements taken by the firm to manufacture the side panels of the cage. In late November they came to install the cage. They got one panel up:


But the other panel had been manufactured backwards so that the door was in the wrong position.


They haven’t yet come back with the remanufactured panel. Hence I can’t unpack the box (the dyes will live in a locked cupboard in the storage area) and so I can’t dye up the yarn and finish the blanket. (If you’re wondering why the panel doesn’t just go straight across the front of my car space, it’s because there’s a passage retained to my “back door” – I enter my unit from the storage space through a door in the laundry. The other panel will be where the plant pots are covering the bolts already placed in the concrete slab.)

And the gate? Well the one quote I finally obtained after trying four different tradies came in only $100 less than the whole storage cage (that’s for a gate about a metre high and a metre wide!). I’ve had it with tradesmen and trying to get quotes. I’m building the damn gate myself!

14 Oct 2013

The Day of the Triffids

Posted by jenwren. 1 Comment

I’m really glad I decided to document the growth of the garden because the rate of growth is astonishing. I’m not sure if I’m growing tomatoes or triffids, but I spread sugar cane mulch around the plants on the weekend, and I simply can’t get in between the tomato plants to mulch them!


Up the “natives” end you’ll have to take my word for it that the Grevillea, Philotheca and Rulingia are still there. Actually, I moved the Rulingia nearly a metre – the vegies are doing so well that I decided rather than the 50/50 split of the garden bed I originally laid out, I need some more room for the veggies. When the daisies have finished, I will expand the veggies into another metre of garden bed.


The Philotheca is proving the most difficult to locate, but it is still there, still growing.


A week ago, the paper daisies were being attacked by aphids and I decided to let it go and hope some ladybugs moved in.


At the time I did find one ladybug. This week there were four ladybugs and far fewer aphids. My laziness pays off again!


The tomatoes have been flowering prolifically for over a week already. The daisies are on the cusp of blooming. Here’s the most advanced bud:


6 Oct 2013

Purple Cake

Posted by jenwren. 2 Comments

I had been looking for an opportunity to try out a crazy cake recipe, and my Mother’s birthday seemed the ideal occasion. Both mine and my Mother’s favourite colour is purple. This cake was epic purple.

It starts with serious amount of eggs, sugar, flour, butter etc., then is split in four for layers and coloured with food colouring gel. I’ve never used gel before and one of the things I’d change if I do this cake again is that I would use more, lots more. I could have had much deeper purple. The second bottom layer didn’t have enough colour in it to really be recognisably purple. Oh, and I need more cake cooling racks.


It continues with a serious amount of jam – a whole jar of strawberry jam went into this cake stack. Another change I’d make is that I’d take more of the dome off each cake. The whole thing was too tall for my cake carrier, so I had to chill it overnight covered with gladwrap and coat it in buttercream this morning.


The last modification I would make is to whip up less buttercream. I have so much buttercream left over that I think I will make a cake tomorrow and take it into work on Tuesday topped with the huge amount of buttercream left over from this cake. I could have piled on the whole lot, but it would have been too much. And this cake was already over the top.


Sprinkles! Sprinkles everywhere! Seriously, I’ll probably still be tipping sprinkles out of my kitchenware for weeks – I’m mostly working on a temporary kitchen island bench with open shelves sitting on carpet until I (1) extend the existing narrow strip of tiling and (2) have a permanent kitchen island built. Someone needs to invent a gadget that fires the sprinkles at the side of the cake with just the right velocity to stick to buttercream. Very. Messy. Job.


Mum had no idea about the purple inside until I had her cut open the cake.


And we ate it with blueberries and cream.


Mum’s birthday isn’t actually until Friday, but she’s going to spinning camp. Various family had other engagements so there was just Mum & Dad and I. Too much cake for three people! I wouldn’t make this again unless I knew I’d have more people to help consume it. Some went home with Mum & Dad, and some is in my freezer with a little more in the fridge for tomorrow.

Happy 70th birthday Mum!

29 Sep 2013

Spring sprang

Posted by jenwren. 1 Comment

A week after I posted about my new garden, I went out to vote at the Federal Election and came home to find the Philotheca had been snapped off near the base. I presume it was the work of one of the Sulfur-crested Cockatoos that frequent the Angophora floribunda trees just beyond my terrace (someone in a neighbouring block is feeding them). Part in denial and part due to laziness, I left the remains of the plant where they were. I had no expectations that it would re-sprout from the base of the stem that was left. Now, three weeks later, it is re-sprouting!


And the rest of the garden is going absolutely nuts! I’m finding it hard to believe this garden bed was empty when I moved in. I took some photos to write this post last weekend, then didn’t have time. I had to take some new photos today because the tomato plants have at least doubled in size this week!


The first bean seeds I planted failed to sprout, but the replanted seed has emerged and are getting going.


The paper daisies have grown, but some have been browsed – either by slugs/snails or the pesky possum. I’ve put down snail bait, so I will have to watch and see if that fixes the problem.


The basil seed also failed to sprout, so I bought a punnet of basil seedlings as well as a lemon thyme and capsicum plants and they’ve all been planted (the lemon thyme is in a pot, not in the pic below). The spinach is going crazy and I’ve eaten some of it already.


And I bought a Eureka Lemon and big pot and it has a lovely sunny spot up one end of the terrace along with some flowers and lemon marjoram I’ve had for years.


I’m not quite done – I have yet to plant some radish seed in a pot, and I want to add oregano and sage to the herbs. Hopefully I’ll get to those before school returns in a week. I missed most of the last two weeks of last term with a horrible virus that completely flattened me, so although the garden flourishes, a lot of other jobs inside have not been tackled. I’m nearly better, but still coughing!

18 Sep 2013

Testing video

Posted by jenwren. Comments Off

Just testing the embed feature – trying to show the video of the possum.