Saturday, 10 December 2011

progress ahoy

Sometimes I need to talk about things to motivate me to do them, other times I just need to shut up and do them. There’s been a little bit of doing things.

6. learn new fingerpicking techniques for guitar

Have discovered small windows of time when Martha is happy to laze on the floor and listen to me play and sing. Am surprising myself with ability to practice; although I must admit usual tendency is still towards being easily distracted and ending up using the time to write new songs instead. Still, I’m having fun working my way through lessons. Also getting inspiration from listening to more folksy alt-country type music. Currently loving Jordie Lane.

37. use my washing line more and my clothes dryer less

Yes. Not much to say about this one, except that I’ve been doing it. Oh and mum made me a very sweet peg apron, in which I feel quite the 1950s housefrau.

7. run city-bay fun run faster than I did last time

My short term goal is to be able to run 5 km comfortably before I return to work. Surprised by how excited I’ve been about this, but after taking things easy as advised by physio, have started a couch-5 km training program. Shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose, given before Martha I was at the gym three times a week and doing PT every saturday. I’ve really missed that post-exercise buzz and feeling of virtue.

Shouldn’t be too hard on myself after the first session, but there were some negative thoughts and a bit of, “are you sure I used to do this?” from my body. Then I got into the swing of things and felt quite chuffed about how nice it was to be all sweaty again. Also being out without the pram - bonus.

12. record some of the songs I’ve written

Enjoyed mucking around with a borrowed microphone, but I found it hard to find Martha-free times to record. Instead I tried putting together a few different test tracks and just ignored that I can hear her in the background. Loving Garageband. Am now thinking of picking up some midi-cords to record some piano and guitar directly. 

I’ve also been knitting, naturally. Mmm, check out the pretty parcel!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bunnies and legwarmies

Gosh it's been a while. Not much listy progress, but I have been knitting. There was this fun cutey:

mini Sophie 2

Also these, which I popped in the mail to English nephlewling this morning:

legwarmies 1

Being modelled by his cousin, who seemed to think they were pretty swish:

legwarmies 2

legwarmies 5

Also a very pleasant anniversary evening was had last night. Yum! 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

#21 - colourwork

Some knitting progress to report for #21. Happy to say I finished my colourwork mittens in time for the birthday recipient's 40th:

I also finished off a random WIP from my WIP box - a slouchy elephant beanie I designed. I'd knit up to near the end of the elephants, but hadn't left any notes on what I'd done so far or what I planned to do to finish. Helpful. I vaguely recall notions of writing this one up as a pattern but given the lack of instructions I can't say for sure whether I did or not. Never mind, it's cute anyway:

I have also gone through my hat cupboard and selected a bunch I never wear to give to charity. Mostly they're heavier-weight ones, which I find too warm for our mild winters here. Naturally, this leaves more room for new hats. Hurrah!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

sunday stuff

Usually I find redbacks nesting in the patio. This morning there was this instead outside of Martha's window:

Which explains the bizarre noises coming through the baby monitor. Cheep cheep, scratch scratch. Dave has chivvied it along but I can hear it again, so suspect this might be the start of a battle of wills.

Some more knitting progress this week, but all on presents so no photos yet. Last night I started a project with Cascade sport weight, which I've never used before. It looked quite loosely plied but is knitting up nicely. Bit hard to get excited about knits when it's over 30 degrees though.

Instead, I'll share some toddler activities that kept Elly busy for about ten minutes each this morning.

For #36 - Elly making his own colourful t-shirt. We love fabric markers!

Off the list, we did some of this, which was a big hit:

And because the embroidery hoop quickly became used as a crown, this:

Which he then wore to the plaza, naturally.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Let's go fly a kite

In the excitement of apple pie and icecream making, and let's face it, eating, I completely forgot we flew a kite on the weekend. As with the new veggie patch, I took on more of a supervisory responsibility than actual flying per se. As in, stood there and provided motherly encouragement while Elly ran with the kite string, and Dave helped him get it off the ground. Still, I remembered to pack it in the car in the first place, fetched it from the car, removed the plastic wrap, and affixed the cross bar and string, so in my book that serves a fairly important facilitating role.

My list, my rules. I'm countin' it. Number 17 - with Elly, make or decorate a kite, then fly is done. Geez, is it the apple pie, icecream and wine, or is that grammar shocking? Now there's only left to say... (clears throat)... to infinity and beyond...

#30 - It’s raining, it’s pouring

It’s perfect weather for an apple pie. The Elly-monster spent this evening at his grandparents house. A perfect opportunity for me to flex some atrophied cooking muscles. Boy this one was fun, and totally worth the hours and mess it caused. I could almost hear my dad saying to me, as he was wont to do, “did you use every bloody dish in the kitchen?” Why yes, dad, I did!

#30 - bake an apple pie from scratch and make vanilla icecream to go with it is done.

I used Poh’s recipe with only a few minor changes. I peeled a lemon and added the rind to the apple mixture to increase the sour/sweet contrast. Used all butter instead of copha in the pastry. The apple seemed to be taking ages to cook and all the tasty caramel sauce kept clumping on the pan, so I added in some extra water then strained most of the sauce from the apple filling before putting it in the pastry. I’d ummed and erred about including the cheddar cheese in the pastry, but my it was lovely. I bought a vintage cheddar, and it adds something really different to this pie. It makes the pastry really savoury, but also seems to create an extra crispiness and flaky bite to the edges. And the savoury/sour/sweet pie combined perfectly with my obscenely rich vanilla icecream.

I used this recipe from David Lebovitz. I accepted his invitation to add an extra three egg yolks to make a total of eight yolks. Mmm, yolky goodness! I couldn’t find the instructions for my icecream maker, so had to wing it. It seemed to take about as long as I remembered, but the result was a little bit runnier than it should have been, although still very very tasty. Seriously, I could eat this icecream until the cows come home. Mooooo!

And on that note, the rest is best in pictures:

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

greetings from caffeine central

We're not sleeping much at 40-things central, but we are planning and hoarding supplies. For pinata:

Huzzah! It's not for a party, but I shall endeavour to "pinata like mad" instead. And for item #36 - design and make some interesting (not stereotypically girly) clothes for Martha, this:

I’ve also been thinking some more about the meaning of item #36. Now I want to clarify, I don’t have a problem with pink and purple. I don’t care if Martha wants to wear dresses or flippy skirts all year round. In fact, right now she's wearing pink jammies with baby elmo that say she's 'naturally cute'. Any gifts in this vein are gratefully received. But as she gets older I’d like her to have a choice. What’s wrong with all the other colours? And what’s wrong with wanting it to be easy to find clothes that don’t constantly proclaim, after the age of six months, that she’s “cute” or “pretty” or a “princess in training”? Sure she can be a princess. But why is that all she should aspire to? I guess it’s more about my dislike of putting kids into boxes and the implication of limiting their choices. This applies equally to boys.

A few months ago Elliot and I went shopping for pants. I asked him what colour he’d like. He said orange. Well of course he did. And of course he was really disappointed when all we could see were grey, black, and blue. His little lip-dropping disappointment face is something to behold. Happily a few weeks later I did find a source of lurid orange tracky pants - thanks Target and your trusty fleece section! But more often than not, his clothing choices are limited, just as the girls are, to a bland palette. So I shall be amending this list item to say make some fun clothes for Martha and Elliot.

In my effort to clarify what I meant by non-stereotypical clothes I collected a suite of photos which are stored in two folders, “clothes I like” and “what we’re not”. Given you can see hundreds of examples of “what we’re not” at a glance in any clothing store, I’ll limit my examples to these:

which are fairly self-explanatory. Toddlers and tiaras, anyone? I've found, to my delight, that there are a bunch of good sources online for clothes more to my liking. Some, like this store, are explicitly unisex in approach. Their philosophy is one I applaud, that all kids should be free to wear colourful fun clothes regardless of gender. Here are some examples of things in my hurrah you get a tick folder:

So perhaps what I'm talking about is actually an issue of availability and price; the type of clothes that make me despair are cheap and they’re everywhere. This leads me to wonder whether I’m a niche market in this respect. Which I think is a nice way of saying “you're nuts and no-one else cares about the things you do”. Or is this a chicken and egg problem - do the shops stock predominantly girly crap because that’s what parents really want? Or do parents buy this because that’s all there is available at cheap prices? Another issue to explore is that of sustainable and ethical clothing, and what we’re trading off in terms of resources and other (unseen) people’s exploitation to be able to buy mass produced t-shirts for $5 a pop, but that’s a subject for another day.

I have also found some companies, usually small ones created by mothers, who print clothes for girls with empowering slogans. While I think we’re coming from the same place, and I love the advocacy of strong, brave girls, I’m a bit uncomfortable with feeling that I would be using Martha as a wee billboard to advertise my own political opinions. And while I naturally think my opinions are ok, how is this any better than the princess branding juggernaut? You may say though, if I care about this distinction, why bother at all? Am I not just projecting my own preferences onto her by not wanting her to be my principessa all the time? (Actually, that should be her daddy's principessa, according to the t-shirt slogans.) Or alternatively, why not just put Martha in boys clothes and be done with it? At this point I stopped analysing the issue for fear of my brain imploding.

Now because I’ve again made myself feel like a humourless feminist mother, and what’s worse, one who’s bleated on about what are aptly referred to as “first world problems”*, I’d also like to share a few other sites that are supporting the empowerment of girls around the world:
* (which is not to say they aren’t important or serious issues, particularly if we delve into the area of sexualisation of girls at ever younger ages, but I can’t seriously spend too much time worrying about pink ruffles and not feel like a pillock when there’s: sexual slavery, forced marriage at twelve, abandonment of girl babies, genital mutilation, rape routinely used as a weapon of war and suppression of dissent, girls being denied an education, gender-based violence in the home etc etc bloody etc)