Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cord Edged Coasters: Free Crochet Pattern!

It seems to me that half the people I know are really tired right now, and I am right there, yawning along with them.

On Thursday, in my half asleep haze, I watched a couple of old movies (Babe, Pollyanna) while my fingers hooked up an incredible EIGHT coasters.

I then used Snapchat to turn them into pictures to send to my friends: 

I thought I would share the incredibly simple pattern with you.

I used a ball of 8ply (DK) that I scored from a secondhand shop years ago for $2, and then dyed. Out of the 99.7m (109yards) I just managed to eke out eight coasters.

Here are five: 

Cord Edged Coasters

This pattern uses US terms!
UK/AUS terms are in italics, eg: (triple crochet!

Yarn: I used DK weight yarn

Hook: I used a 4mm (G) hook

Start: Make a loop to crochet into, you could do a magic loop if you want to. Because I wanted to get the most out of my yarn, I made a slip stitch (leaving a very short tail), chained 4, then slip stitched into the first stitch to close it.

Round 1: chain 2, make twelve double crochets (triple crochet) into the ring, slip stitch into top of first double crochet (triple crochetto join.

Round 2: chain 2, make two double crochets (triple crochet) in the same stitch, and in each stitch thereafter. Slip stitch into the top of the first double crochet (triple crochet) to join. (24 stitches in total)

Round 3: chain 2, make one double crochet (triple crochet) in the same stitch, and two double crochets (triple crochet) in the next stitch. Repeat this pattern of one double crochet (triple crochetand then two double crochets (triple crochet) (1, 2) all the way around. Slip stitch into the top of the first double crochet (triple crochet) to join.  (36 stitches in total)

In the next round, instead of doing double crochet (triple crochet), we make single crochet (double crochet). 

Round 4: Chain 2, make one single crochet (double crochet) in the same stitch, a single crochet (double crochet) into the next stitch, and two single crochets (double crochet) in the stitch after that. Repeat this pattern (1, 1, 2) all the way around. Slip stitch into the top of the first single crochet  (double crochet) to join.  (48 stitches in total)

Now, the bit that feels really weird! We are going to do reverse single crochet (also called crab stitch) to make the edging. This just backwards crochet. I am left handed, so usually I crochet in a clockwise direction. For reverse single crochet, however, I crochet in an anti-clockwise direction. 

There are lots of video tutorials already on the web. I have embedded one at the end of this post.

Edging: chain 1, skip the closest stitch, and reverse single crochet all the way around for that lovely cord-like edging. Finish it off by cutting a tail of about 10cm (4inches), threading it only a needle, and making a couple of stitches that mimic the previous crab stitch. Weave in ends.

Now make yourself a drink and use the coaster!

This pattern is for personal use only. The pattern may not be distributed or sold. Items made from this pattern, however, are yours to do what you wish with, including selling.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I'll Lend You A Child

A little while ago I came across this beautiful poem. It is for all parents, irrespective of whether or not you have lost a child - or, as this poem puts it, had them "called back". 

"I'll lend you for a while a child of mine," He said.
"For you to love the while he lives and mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and should his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief."

"I cannot promise he will stay; since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in My search for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love, not think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?"

"I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord, Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child will bring, the risk of grief we run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, forever grateful stay;
But should the angels call for him much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand!"

Edgar Guest

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In the Garden: There is Life!

After a week of anxious waiting, yesterday I was thrilled to return home from work to teeny tiny beetroot sprouts!

Today, there were finally signs of life outside in the "real" garden too.


More beetroot!


Since taking these photos another snowpea and a bean have poked out too. YAY!

Meanwhile, I have six tomato plants and a chili plant on my kitchen windowsill. 

Behind them, the view to the garden - my little tiny veggie garden!

And the strawberries? Between the three plants are growing more than thirty strawberries! Woohoo!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Almond Crumble

Dedicated readers and faithful family members may remember that a long time ago, I made almond milk.

Recently, I have started making it again, as Julian has decided to cut dairy out of his diet (he is fairly sure he is mildly lactose intolerant). 

I have simplified the recipe for almond milk even further:

  1. SOAK: 1 cup of natural almonds overnight in plenty of water
  2. BLEND: Drain, rinse, and blend in fresh water (a few cups)
  3. STRAIN: Though a muslin cloth (a clean hankie works perfectly), add water to make volume anywhere between 1 to 2 litres
Easy peasy!

The only problem is that making almond milk at least once a week leaves me with lots of almond meal. As in, mountain of meal.

I know there are lots of recipes for using almond meal all over the internet, but my almond meal is quite coarse (a stick blender only gets so far). While I think it would still work for the various recipes, I have another issue: lots of these recipes call for ingredients that my budget frowns upon. Glares, even.

So, here is a quick, easy and versatile recipe:


Now, first things first: after making the almond milk, I usually toast the almond meal a little to dry it out. I try to get it fairly close to its original dry weight (1 cup of almonds is 150grams - after soaking though, it can be close to 300grams). I recommend NOT skipping this step. Also, it smells nice.

Now that you have your lightly toasted almond meal, we are ready to begin making our almond crumble!

Gather together these ingredients, bearing in mind that this is more a guideline rather than a strict recipe where things MUST be certain amounts:
  • almond meal (approx 150g/1 cup)
  • desiccated coconut (approx 70g/0.5 cup)
  • brown sugar (approx 40-70g depending on sweetness desired - 0.3 t0 0.5 cup)
  • butter (approx 70grams - I like a decent amount, as I "taste test")
  • Other indredients such as finely chopped walnuts, or spices such a cinnamon
Stick all the ingredients in a bowl and use your fingers to rub in the butter. Have numerous samples! Yum! When the butter is all rubbed in, the consistency should resemble course breadcrumbs.

Now that you have made the basic crumble, there are various uses for it. So far I have used it as a topping for apple crumble and for apricot crumble...

... just bear in mind that in tends to burn rather easily, so keep an eye on it, and perhaps cover it with foil for part of the baking time.

I have also used it as the filling for butterscotch spirals - seriously good! Make a batch of scone dough*, roll it into a rectangle, spread with creamed brown sugar and butter, top with crumble mixture, roll up, slice, place in ring tin and back in hot oven.

*I use a basic scone dough recipe from the Central Cookery Book (a Tasmanian classic). This recipe looks similar, though add in a teaspoon of sugar for sweet scones (or just put in a pinch of salt). A lot of scone recipes use far too much sugar. 

Any other ideas how this crumble could be used or adapted? Leave a comment below so I can try it!

And follow me on pinterest - I repin lots of creative things :D

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In the Garden: Seeds Are In!

My mother-in-law came over yesterday to help us dig our garden. We added lots of poo into the soil! Sheep poo and cow poo - yummy yum yum yum! We found three worms; hopefully more will turn up now the soil has all been turned and manured.

My two helpers did an excellent job digging up and weeding, but not such a good job when it came to smiling for the camera:

And here is is all dug! Down one side are bamboo support poles. Soon they will be covered with climbing beans and snow peas. 

Since taking this photo, the top pole, which goes across the top of the three teepees, has also been tied on.

As you can see from the above photos, there is a huge pine tree at the back of the yard. When we were digging up the dirt we found lots of pine roots. At first they were just discarded, but we found a fantastic use for them: ties for the bamboo teepees. I love the rustic look of the pine roots being used to tie the bamboo poles together.

The majority of the garden has been planted now. Only the snow peas need to be sowed, and the celery transplanted. 

Here is the garden, all sown and planted (minus snow peas and celery):

Oh, humble beginnings! Soon this will be a thriving patch of deliciousness!

Already planted, we have:

  • climbing beans 
  • silverbeet (the colourful variety)
  • dwarf beans
  • two heirloom varieties of beetroot
  • loose leaf lettuce
  • spring onions (all SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY seeds accidentally dumped in one area!)
  • zucchini (this may not germinate, the soil may be too cold)
  • lettuce seedlings
  • Asian greens seedlings (the names of which I can't remember, except that one of the four types is red mustard)
  • parsley and sage (shown below)

As it is such a small patch, I cheated a little when planting the rows of beans and beetroot. I figured that as beans can be planted 10cm apart, I would do the rows much closer than the recommended 50cm. As I will not have to walk between the rows, the closer group planting ought to be more than fine.

Most importantly, the strawberries are thriving. I am looking forward to the first ripe strawberry so much!

Inside, the tomatoes have blossoms forming and the capsicums and chili plant are doing well. Just today I repotted some basil seedlings, which will also be kept inside. No doubt the next post will have pictures of all the indoor plants.

Grow plants, grow!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Two Babies

Warning: this post concerns babies who died far too young. You may want to consider skipping this post if you find this subject upsetting.

 Today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. 

Unfortunately, my husband and I are rather well qualified for talking about losing babies. 

In August 2012, only 14 or so months ago, I found out I was pregnant. I cried, I was so thrilled! In October, at the dating scan, we found out that baby had died. The egg had been fertilized by two sperm, and though the tiny new life began to grow, it died very early on. I have nothing to remember that baby by, except the photo of the pregnancy test and some condolence cards from a few friends. And a name.

Even though we did not know if the baby was a boy of a girl, we named the baby Jeremiah. It means “God will raise up”.

This year, on Easter Tuesday (the beginning of April), I found out I was pregnant again! Excitement tempered with a huge dose of nervousness and fear was the order of the day until we actually saw the tiny, wriggling baby that was cozy and happy in my womb. After seeing the baby, thoughts of miscarriage fled.

And we did not miscarry this baby. Instead, at 23 weeks and 6 days, our tiny son was stillborn. Wow. I don’t even know how to describe the mix of overwhelming love for our baby, the joy at seeing him and holding him, and the sorrow and grief at knowing this was the only time on this earth where he will be a physical part of our life.

His name is Theodore John.

God’s Gift; God is Gracious.

This time, we have photos, presents, a blanket I crocheted, a burp cloth and bib set made of the same material he is wrapped in even now, a grave we can visit. We have the memories of the smiles, the delight, the joy, the devastation, the despair, the heartbreak. Oh, what a bittersweet thing, to hold and love your tiny still baby.

Losing a baby is something that you cannot understand until it happens to you. You can imagine it, but you cannot understand it. Not really. And when it happens to you, you know your heart will always be a little bit more vulnerable and broken, because part of it stayed with the tiny child who stole into it when they came quietly into this noisy world.

You know the tears will never really stop. Sometimes the tears are sweet as you recall the first time you saw the tiny feet that belong to your child. Sometimes they are bitter as you see yet another woman about to burst with child, or a newborn being cradled by its mother.

But we are not alone. So many mothers and fathers have walked this wild road before. Some keep it close to their chest. I don’t know how they do. I know it is impossible for me. This post is for me. It is for my husband. It is for our mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. It is for our friends. It is for our future children. It is for the women and men like me, who talk and share and write. And it is especially for the women and men who hold their bittersweet memories tightly. Cry a little, laugh a little, your baby is always yours, and you are always their mum, their dad.

Tonight we will be lighting a candle at 7pm and letting it burn for an hour, taking part in the International Wave of Light, a worldwide event that remembers the tiny lives snuffed out so quickly.

We will be lighting one for our two babies, Jeremiah and Theodore. We will probably have a bit of a cry, and we will probably smile over precious memories. Crying, smiling, even laughing... it is all bittersweet and completely precious.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Garden Begins

The table in my loungeroom has been hijacked by a tarp and plants.

Strawberries! I am looking forward to these fruiting so much! There are three varieties in this pot: Tioga (at the front), Strawberry Delight (pink flowers - squee!), and hokowase with the long stems.

Growing up, my family always had a vegetable garden and fruit trees. Without them, we would definitely not have been eating as well as we did, as my Dad (a Vietnam Veteran) struggled with anything more that casual work (as many VV's do).

Since getting married, my husband and I have lived in units, and could never grow anything apart from some herbs in pots. Finally, though, we are in a house! With a yard! A biiiiig yard! We moved in way back in May, and at last I am getting myself into garden-making-gear.

On Sunday my mother-in-law and I hit the shops and bought garden gear. About time too, as we are half way through spring. As you can see above, we have seedlings, seeds, manure, hot pink gardening gloves (a necessity). We aimed for veggies that mature within 8-12 weeks, as my husband and I are most likely moving house at the end of summer. 

I have also been making some origami newspaper planters (here is a smaller version). 

I can't wait for fresh tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, crispy beans and capsicum! This is going to be a delicious summer. 

I still need to dig the garden, however...

'Like' my page on facebook! And follow me on pinterest! I am much better at staying active on them ;-)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cross Stitch Bookmarks

It is one of my favourite school memories: grade five, in a country school, learning to cross stitch.

My teacher that year - now long retired (that makes me sounds old, doesn't it) - was wonderful. I remember one time, the year before she taught me, walking into her classroom, to be confronted by a huge cardboard castle wall. 

The year I was in her class, she did what she no doubt did every year, and invited parents to come in and teach us skills like bread-making and cross stitch. I remember the first thing I ever embroidered, a little train. I still have the pattern. 

This all sounds very nostalgic, doesn't it. To be honest, I often find cross stitch repetitive and, if the pattern is confusing, frustrating. But it is so pretty!

After some life changing events that took place about a month ago now (which I have not yet shared here), I was feeling the need to do things. I needed to keep my mind and hands occupied. Last Christmas, my mum gave me a cross stitch kit for a bookmark featuring a blue wren, and last week I did it. I did it ALL. Even the sewing up. It was a cross stitch miracle! I love it so much. The blue wren perched on a twig of heath is simple and perfect.

I shared it on facebook, because I am a sharing, caring show-off. (That is why I have a blog!)

Two days later I found two more unfinished bookmarks. All the cross stitching was completed, but the sewing up needed to be done. Another miracle took place as I finished them both that very day. Ah-mazing! 

I now have a cross stitch bookmark collection! And a very messy floor from all that fringe-making!

I actually nearly completely ruined the one with all the pink and yellow and orange flowers. I also don't really remember making it! I think my sister may have done most of it and I finished it. I really like the material I backed it with, a vintage fabric that was passed on to me by a friend. 

Only this bookmark was finished like this, the other two were sewn like a tube then turned right way out and given a fringe (much easier!).

I am feeling so inspired now to do more cross stitch! I have another kit, with lambs and butterflies and flowers, and a kit for a REAL embroidery that uses all sorts of stitches!

I want to know, do you cross stitch? Do you remember learning? Have you recently shared a crafty project on your blog - I love craft and I want to see it!