golden autumn days

daisys in sun

rose and grevillea

quinces

seal

rose

coming along

spinach

fu

flora and ruben

geese

finished

half done

scones for lunch

Each morning this week, we have awoken to heavy dews and windows opaque with condensation.  When we first venture out onto the porch, the air is crisp and cool, but this autumn sun  … the higher it rises, the more golden and warm it becomes.  By the time the chores are done, we have shed our jumpers and reached for our hats.  The calendar may declare it to be autumn but by golly, it seems the whole continent is holding tight to the warmth of summer and just does not want to let go.

The maples that frame our porch still have ALL their leaves with only a few turning red.  Yes, the daisies are abloom but the roses are still putting out fat luscious buds.  There may be quinces at the farmgates, but the bulbs and African Flame Trees have decided it’s time to flower!  And today, that sun was so strong, the veggies that haven’t been eaten by rats (yay to the worst rats our corner of the valley has seen in years!) were wilting.

Sigh … there’s not much we can do to hustle along proper autumn weather and so we make the most of these glorious golden days and keep our fingers crossed.

Today, Julian set off early for the airport – he has workshops to run in Sydney – and I set up my paints in the veggie garden to keep decorating the guinea pig house.  Today – the Moominvalley Horse.  According to Noah – who’s read all the novels and big hard covered volumes of cartoons – this wonderfully silly horse has no name.  It’s just the horse.  But it has a fabulous mane, tail and flowers scattered across it’s body.  And almost always, a slightly manic and disdainful look.  I love it!

I adore Tove Jansson’s art.  So much imagination and whimsy.  I wish I could grow her weird and wonderful trees and flowers.  I wish there were Moomins and their friends in our forest, complete with gushing streams and little bridges. Her stories and art are full of such a heartwarming eccentricity and so many of her characters seem beset by anxiety!  Makes me feel right at home :-)

Next up will be the Mymble’s Daughter lying amongst the flowers with her book – that will go across the front (and one of the images that I would love to have tattooed on my arm – should I ever get a tattoo).  And on the last side – well it just has to be Noah’s favourite – Snufkin.  With his pipe standing on a wee bridge almost hidden by trees.

However, today there were visitors to prepare for and so the minute the last strokes of navy were added to the horse’s ears, Noah and I quickly set to work.  The porch was tidied, swept and washed.  Fresh straw was laid in the chicken house and nest – and two of this morning’s eggs returned so the littlest visitor could collect them (unnecessary – turned out those chickens are taking their newly acquired egg laying duties very seriously and had laid a couple more!).  The banana lounges were set up under the white cedar for the grown ups and the dear little cane chair that was mine when I was small was pulled out of storage, dusted off and given pride of place.  Bathrooms were cleaned.  Scones were baked (the recipe I’ve used for the last 15 years – Nigella’s Lily’s Scones from “How to Be a Domestic Goddess”).  And all just in time.

We gave our visitors a tour of our wee farm – fed the rabbit and guinea pigs, laughed at the ducks and geese, picked carrots, collected the eggs, chatted with the goats who are always happy to talk, and spent a lot of time keeping track of Fu.  “The Fluffy one” was the littlest one’s hottest favourite.  Then we had our picnic under the tree.

By the time they left, Noah and I were so tired all we wanted to do was flop on the sofa – but there were parcels waiting for us at the Post Office – Rhonda Hetzel’s new book “The Simple Home”, Tone Finnanger’s new book “Tilda’s Toy Box” (it is utterly divine and I want to make everything), a new honey pot for the kitchen, and a tshirt for Noah.  Mail order is definitely one of the perks of living in the country :-)

We are so far from the shops that there’s no regular dropping in as we pass.  Instead, even though we shop locally for as much as we can, every couple of months we pop in small orders to some of our favourite online stores – books (I like Booktopia – Australian owned and operated, excellent delivery times), eco homewares (I adore Spiral Garden (they have Taproot at a great price with Australian shipping and a lovely homewares section), Greenharvest (their egg brush is my favourite kitchen tool), Eden Seeds (I will happily just read the catalogue in bed everynight), and Bee Eco Wraps (just amazing!  transformed our food storage) Noah’s into tshirts, Julian has a passion for vintage tools, and I confess, special bits of fabric and wool find there way here too (Little Woollie Makes is my favourite for wool – she has everything I love, and I’m addicted to Clair’s Fabrics – really nicely curated collection).  Then –  as we don’t have a mailman that comes to our gate, our parcels are left at the local postoffice in the nearby village and when we drop in for milk, the lovely owners always know whether something is waiting for us.  We love it! It’s just so quaint and old fashioned compared to living on a tram line in a huge city.  I’m so glad we’re here.

So a lovely day was perfectly ended with cups of tea and reading.  Noah cooked supper.  The animals were tucked into bed.  The cool night has drawn in.

Maybe tomorrow it will feel like autumn.  Whether or not, there will be loveliness for sure.

the laziest quilt ever

with tree I made a quilt this last week.  From beginning to end.  All the ends are stitched in.  It’s washed.  Dried in the sun.  Now lying on my bed, waiting for me to hop in and snuggle down.

whole quilt with branch shadows( btw – the strange black blobs you can see smooshed across the quilt are actually the shadows of our oak tree branches )

 It wasn’t very tricky :-)  Mum and I went out to Gail B’s last Tuesday to find the perfect fabric for a quilt she’s making for a lovely old family friend – Jill.  Jill requested the colours of the sea and sun – she lives at the beach.  We knew we’d find plenty to choose from at Gail’s so off we trotted.  And you know – how could you possibly go to a patchwork store with so many bolts of gorgeous fabric and not buy any?

Well I can’t.  I tried really hard.  Truly I did – I even had several bolts of Tilda’s new range in my arms and then put them all back  But whilst Mum was having Jill’s fabric cut (there were 18 bolts to cut from) and I continued to browse, I stumbled across this old Alexander Henry fabric called “Indochine”.  Oh!

towards the shed top left hand corner

I adored the colours, the patterns and the beautiful girls – they remind me of paper dolls and I want to make outfits to wear like theirs.  So I bought 1.6 metres and then figured it would be better to buy more – its ALWAYS better to buy more – so bought another 1.6 metres and Mum and I figured that she could also buy 1.6 metres and then we’d split my second 1.6 piece down the middle lengthways and then each add the half to our whole piece and voila!  We’d both have a lovely big square panel.

Mum, of course is going to be terribly clever and good and make her pieces match.  I am terribly bad and just whacked mine on.

sewing the threads

( that there’s a needle – nothing as easy as identifying loose threads that
haven’t been finished off and stitching them in whilst
the quilt is hanging in the brilliant sunshine on the clothesline
)

the borders

We didn’t buy any fabric to go with it at Gail B’s.  Thought we’d drop into our lovely friends at Darn Cheap for that.  And sure enough we found this fabulous swirly fabric – by Alexander Henry no less, but printed several years later – that was the perfect perfect perfect match.  And a gorgeous lipstick red for a wee frame.  I love Darn Cheap :-)

circles

In the narrow red stripe I practiced some linked circles – some turned out a wee bit wonky but hey! I’m getting better!  I might even try a recognisable shape sometime soon.

three little maids the tree again

( our tree is so luscious this spring – and thick and humming with bees – that I have to keep including it – swoon worthy it is – and if you KNOW what it is,
do let me know – I haven’t a clue. )

red shirt purple shirt

On the back – why a vintage blanket of course :-)  It’s a double bed size and I hardly had to cut a scrap off.  Well a little bit – but what I did will be perfect for the lovely Spring banner I hope to make tomorrow.

folded over the back all those squiggles

I do adore how the quilted stitches embed themselves in the wool.  So pretty and so very very very tacticle.  Love.

colour and texture

And here it is on the bed.  Perfect!

You know – here’s a dreadful confession for you – since Julian’s been away and I’m still waiting on grad offers (next Tuesday at 9am!) and distracted beyond belief – I’ve moved on from crossword puzzles and computer mahjong, and have been frittering away the hours reading … Regency Romance Novels.  I know.  I know.  It’s dreadful.  They are dreadful.

But wonderful too in that dreadful kind of way.  Truly!  They are almost like Jane Austen – same era, same kind of characters, same clothes, same balls, same phaetons … but of course the writing is very different and there’s all this stormy romance!

I read some aloud to Abby last night – she was rolling on the floor, clutching her stomach, gasping for air she was laughing so hard.  I know.  They are a bit like that.  But anyway – they are passing the time and I’m now in love with Colin who appeared to be a rake but was really deliciously honourable, and want to come back in my next life as Minerva the sharp tongued geologist who despite her blue stockinged ways was actually wonderfully witty and passionate.  Of course she was!

However, it has made me think that Julian needs to work on his Regency romance skills so tonight, when he told me he missed me, I demanded that he describe what he missed. Now any good Regency rake would be able to do this – they wouldn’t even need prompting – and I waited with bated breath for something similar to the knee weakening descriptions I’ve been reading the last few days – something lovely about my hair, or my eyes, or my voice. What did he tell me … he missed my new quilts.

What!  What! My new quilts!!!!! Geez Louise!  I’ll have to lend him “A Week to be Wicked” so he can get some tips from Colin on how to make a lady swoon.

I replied – I don’t know if that’s very romantic.  You tell me regularly that quilts aren’t really your thing!  He explained – Ah but I love your creativity.

Oh … well that’s a little bit better :-)  A bit like when Colin told Minerva how much he admired her dedication to dirt, digging and fantastical lizards.

on the bed

icelandic jumpers and a bedside table full of books

basket in sun

joining Ginny and her yarn-a-long!  I highly recommend checking out the other lovely people who link to this – you’ll see so much prettiness :-)

You know me – always longing for the sun and warmth.  And yet I do sooooooo love knitting and the wearing of all this knitty goodness.  The current knit that I am just desperate to finish is the Lopi sweater I am knitting for Abby.

It’s in a beautiful wool – an old old yarn – Cleckheaton’s Angora Supreme – that we found in the bargain basement at Wondoflex a few Saturday’s back.  Initially, I passed over the bundle of 8 balls for just pennies (can’t quite remember but it was less than $30 and there’s 140m on each ball so a wonderful buy) but then I figured it was lovely quality wool and a great price so I picked it up after all.

When Abby saw it, she was delighted!  Hawkeye purple she tells me – she being a dedicated Marvel fan.  And she thought it would be super with some white and lilac and dark lilac for a Lopi sweater.  And she was right.  She always is – has an eye for colour this one.

As per all the Lopi patterns I’ve tried, the body knitted up lickety-split.  They are such wonderfully simple patterns.  And oh how I love that simple, repetitive, meditative knitting.  Round and round and round and round.  Then the sleeves – up they went.  And then onto the yoke.

Now the yoke has certainly been time consuming – intensely patterned with sometimes three yarns in play at once.  But I do love stranded knitting  – my challenge is keeping it loose enough at the back.  Once all those strands are layered, it does make for an exceptionally warm jumper.  Like wearing a jumper WITH a shawl.  Perfect.

the arch bicycles bicycle seats

It did feel a bit funny the other day – sitting on the porch, my cardigan discarded, lapping up that sun like a cat – with a big hefty pile of Icelandic knitting on my lap :-)

knitting with ipad

When I looked down into my basket, I was also struck by the contrast between my vintage basket, my Lopi pattern (same as has been knitted in Scandinavia for generations), my vintage Cleckheaton wool … and the iPad.  I almost always knit from the iPad these days.  Whenever I pack my knitting basket, the iPad gets slipped in too.  Isn’t it brilliant!  I just love being able to browse Ravelry – I start by looking at everything and then wheedle it down, adding my search criteria one by one.  Then buy my pattern, download it and bam!  I’m off.  Can’t imagine knitting any other way. So totally different from when I first began knitting and we had to rely upon those cardboard folders of patterns – purchased from the shop, one or two at a time.  And rarely exactly what I had in mind anyway.  Now – the whole world sits there at my fingertips.  The truly wonderful upside of being connected to this new world.

coming along

As for reading … I’ve been re-reading “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.  This book is so densely packed with fascinating information that I am forever discovering something new and tweaking how I cook for my family yet a little bit more.  These days, I’m especially keen on cooking suppers that can be served in these dear little pots.  We found 12 at the opshop the other day.  They are Denby Gypsy – apparently very rare in Australia – haven’t been able to find any others on the old ebay.  So we’re eating lots of soups and stews – we even had our porridge in them the other morning and I must say, they keep the food very hot.

soup potOn the fiction front – I’m adoring Karen Joy Fowler’s “We are All Completely Beside Ourselves”.  Oh my goodness – the narrator is so utterly relatable.  I find myself nodding and laughing and wincing along with her.  And I’m also reading William McInnes’ “The Birdwatcher” – totally different, set here in Australia starting in Melbourne then moving up to North Queensland.  Both are landscapes so very familiar that it is a very poignant read – I love reading about environments I have lived in – such a connection.  And the characters are very appealing – it’s not literature, but it’s a lovely read and I really enjoy McInnes’ voice.  I have Inga Simpson’s “Nest” to pick up from the bookshop tomorrow – also set in North Queensland and I think I shall need Ian McEwan’s new novel “The Children Act” too.  Very pertinent but more about that next week!

Now – I’m off to bed on this cold cold night – The Birdwatcher awaits me.

 

if you should happen …

… to swing by Bootville, in the mid-afternoon, when school’s out early, the late winter sun is setting the back garden aglow, and the sweet scent of jasmine is wafting across the grass, don’t knock at the front door.  Come down the side, and through the gate – we’re in the garden!

take off the shoes

kick off your shoes … it’s okay, the dog hasn’t chewed a pair in years.  She’s so grown up now :-)

saved one for you

we’ve saved you a chocolate and raspberry sponge from Aviv’s!

picture book trying to count seeds

pull up a corner on the picnic blanket – we’re reading a lovely new picture book (yes, we still love and buy picture books!).  It’s all about what happens when you decide to throw caution to the wind and dare to do something a bit different.  With fabulous pictures.  And it’s Japanese.  And it’s by Mitsumasa Anno – what a gift to the world he is!

Fu chewing her stick

Fu will come bounding up every few moments to tell you all about a yummy stick she’s just found or an evil pigeon with dastardly plans she was brave enough to chase off.  To protect us, of course.  She’s not afraid of evil and dastardly pigeons.  It’s her job.

pencil case filling a new notebook

Abby’s writing a new story – currently planning out all the characters and locations – so she’ll probably ask you to contribute a name or an occupation – the crazier the better.

playset paper dolls and book

Perhaps you’d like to pull out whatever it is you love to do – bit of knitting, a good book, some stitching. If you’ve come empty handed you’re welcome to play with my new Pride and Prejudice paper dolls.  But I reserve the right to pop them all out.  You can put the stands on – they’re a bit tricksy.

proposals lizie darcy tableau

Aren’t they gorgeous!  And Fu didn’t steal a single one.  I told you she’s getting grown up at last.

writing novel reading

Then, whilst Abby gets down to the nitty-gritty of her tale, I might sneak a peak into my new novel.  You don’t mind do you.  I had to buy it.  As you can see, it’s called “We are all completely beside ourselves”.  This is one of my favourite phrases!  I use it ALL the time.  I am regularly completely beside myself – usually with delight, anticipation, or anxiety.  My response to Abby’s tales of school is usually “Goodness, the teacher must have been beside herself”.  When Mum tells me what the extended family are up to, I reckon they’re completely beside themselves as well.  Even my patients’ families are beside themselves – well of course they are.  As for the patients – they’re usually too sick to be beside themselves.

See – I had to have it.  And it’s by Karen Joy Fowler – I was completely beside myself with delight when I read her “Jane Austen Bookclub” especially when the only guy in the club suggested they read the Master and Commander books.  Practically leapt out of bed I was so beside myself at that point :-)  “Yes, yes, yes!” I shrieked to Julian, “Of course the Master and Commander books are utterly perfect for the Jane Austen fan.  Karen Joy Fowler and I are kindred spirits!”

“Uh-uh,” he replied.  He very rarely gets beside himself, completely or not.

And when the sun tips just that bit far to the west, and the air becomes colder and damp, we’ll traipse back inside and have a nice cup of tea.  You can choose which Moomin cup you’d like.  If you really want to endear yourself, I’ll let you unpick the remaining 12 windows in my patchwork house that need their curtains hung, whilst I “hang” said curtains.  It will be a lovely afternoon, I promise.

You just have to remember, if it’s mid afternoon and the late winter sun is out and the jasmine’s flowering – we’ll be out the back.