October 17, 2014


IF you happen to follow me on Instagram you will already know that last weekend was a great weekend. A really great weekend. I was outside. I was with great people. I was doing great things. 

Outside was sunny and warm. 

The people were all women who, despite their busy family and work lives, were prepared to work, work hard, and be happy doing it.

The thing was Girl Guides and more than that, the thing was giving girls and young women the freedom and space to be themselves, get muddy and mucky and stink a little, to try things they hadn't tried before, to meet people they hadn't met before, to play, to lead, to be in charge, to be out of their comfort zone and most of all, to have fun.

What could be better than that? 

Another great weekend this weekend. You betcha. Happy weekend people.

October 06, 2014


NOW this is more like it. This feels lighter: more colour, more throwing back the doona, leaping out of bed and embracing a sunny day. This is more 'spring'.
THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: A sweet, freeform softie that would be a lovely thing to make for Pip's annual Softies for Mirabel. I have every intention of joining in this year.
THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Warmer weather means outdoor tables piled with things to eat while moving about chatting or taking a turn about the garden. My mum is considered queen of the 'cheesy potato', but these are a step above and beyond: cheesy 'spinach' smashed potatoes.
THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: I love handcrafted jewellery. If I am travelling, I will look for a piece of jewellery from a local maker to bring home with me - costs being not too prohibitive. It's a small memento that will be used. I am not travelling to Portland anytime soon, so I will just have to covet the Oleria earrings from afar.
THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: I saw frames just like these in one of my favourite Central Coast haunts, Piccolo Pear. They were set with beautiful antique laces and embroidered collars, but this is pretty neat too. Does anyone know a stockist for frames like these?
#flashback: Pinning still hadn't resumed this time last year, but I was crafting up a storm for UNICEF.

October 01, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || tiled bird

SPRING! The first month of spring, and what a glorious start to the season it's been. The wattle was magnificent, the weather of the past two weeks has been glorious and our family has had an extra special reason to celebrate - a spring baby. All the family was gathered around our table on Sunday and it was lovely to have the three generations together and the promise of many more big family gatherings.

I READ Tom Rob Smith's The Farm. It was a book club choice and one I had to push through. I found too many flaws in the plot and the ending was an anti-climax.

Another book I found myself pushing through was the Walking Book Club choice from July: On Looking - Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes. I'm glad I did persevere. Alexandra Horowitz' guided walks around her New York block seemed a rather dry premise for a non-fiction read but the expert eyes she employed to guide her on her walks were really quite fascinating. That, and I had a number of long car trips to help keep me focussed on the narrative.

I WENT TO My old uni. I drove up to work with the University of Newcastle's equity and diversity unit and meet students from Waratah Technology High School. It was such a great day listening to students, all of whom came to Australia as refugees, talk about the impediments  they face to learning and education - a child's right, no matter the circumstances.

I LISTENED TO Really, nothing new. A few old favourites: Cat Powers, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, you know, the kinda music you can play loud and dance along like no one is watching.

I ATE I made a return to Vibewire's monthly Fastbreak series this mon
th and one of the event's sponsors is Black Star Pastry. Seriously good pastries and coffee. Forget the sweet treats, go the savouries: poppin' with flavour.

I SAW The Code. The new ABC drama has me hooked. I'm keen to see Gone Girl this long weekend.

I MADE I started on a new knitting project and I need to finish off a few craft projects for a coming Girl Guide camp.

September 28, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || vietnamese mint and turmeric
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || terra permaculture outdoor classroom
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || hand drawn class notes
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || new season asparagus spear
MY past few Saturdays have been spent hanging out at the most glorious community garden, with the most glorious people and learning about permaculture design.

It's a course of study I've wanted to do for years but it's a big time commitment - essentially two solid weeks, or, as I am doing, every Saturday up until the end of the year. I've put it off, claiming I could do better things with that time, but even though there are plenty of other things competing for my attention, I am thrilled to have signed on. Class days are spent outdoors sharing packed lunches, cups of tea and baked treats; getting your hands dirty; stretching the grey matter with a little biology, chemistry, ecology, research and analysis; and, working with like-minded people who all want to save the world not add to its problems.

And it's made me look. Like, Really Look. Not just at my own back yard but further afield and consider the principles of permaculture as they apply to my work, my workplace, my volunteerism and my family. I'm buzzing with ideas to share and tapping into my creative side, which has always needed a little external stimulus to get me really going.

It's even made me drag the pencils out - something I haven't done for two years. maybe more. During class I take photos and listen, and maybe knit rounds of a new project I've started on, but when I come home I pull it all together with pictures and dot-points of what I've learned

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || permaculture class notes week one

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || permaculture class notes week two

What new things are you learning, or yearning to learn?
Image No. 2: Terra Permaculture

September 19, 2014


A NEW edition to the family today. Patrick Eric, born to my stepdaughter Amy and her husband, Wade.

September 16, 2014


DON'T tell me how many days we've got until Christmas. Yes, THAT dirty 'C' word. Every year I promise I'll be better organised to handcraft gifts that are well considered, ethical and adored by their recipients. Yet, every year I am hard pressed to write a few hastily gathered words on store-bought cards and buy gift vouchers for the nearest and dearest. Every, damn year.

The only tradition I have managed to stick to is the making of a tree decoration for each of my step children, and a pav for the Christmas table.

For the former I've managed to score a bunch of craft magazines, with Christmas projects to boot, and a stash of fabrics and buttons - all from a recent op shop haul.

The magazines were 50c each, the fabric a fiver, the buttons a gold coin or two and that lone punch glass was scored from the freebie table. That should help keep the Christmas budget in check.

Now, off to crack the rust off my sewing scissors.

September 10, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || grey booties from a free revelry pattern
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || beets, goats cheese and rocket on a santa
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || not the bag i bought but i love it
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || pattern envy *sigh*
YOU'D think my first proper 'spring' post for 2014 would celebrate a little more colour but the Pinterest palette has been simple of late, which is a notable shift for me. I love colour, I am usually a riot of colour - a please-pass-the-shades cacophony of colour. I can't explain it.

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: How teeny tiny are these booties Leisl has made? They were whipped up, from a free Ravelry pattern, for her daughter's teacher, who's expecting. Man, my kids' teachers really lucked out on the gift-giving front. 

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: Everything else here might be monotone but I've been trying hard to look after my health with a daily walk or run and a diet of natural foods from all colours of the rainbow. I was just reading yesterday how good raspberries are for me and have been downing a thick rainbow smoothie every night. I haven't tried this sandwich combo yet but I have plenty of fresh rocket in the garden and beets are good for roasting right now so will try this out for an easy Sunday supper this week.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Why is it so difficult to hunt down the perfect bag? Seriously, there are millions of women out there needing handbags to fit with their work, social and family lives, that are secure enough to have on public transport, that fulfil domestic cabin luggage requirements, have hardware that won't fail you as you move forward to take an offered handshake in an important business meeting, that are a picture of ordered and sensible compartments designed to help you navigate to your phone as it screams for attention in a crowded and uncomfortable lift and not, as I have found, a bottomless pit in which sandwich wrappers, your tax receipt filing system and old shopping lists have made a home? Why, oh why, is this so difficult?

This bag I love but it's not going to work? Why? Too thin: there's no gusset to expand for the packed lunch. The hardware: I had a handbag I loved with these 'button' style notches to alter the straps but the buttonholes stretch against the weight of contents and constant use and, bam, that bag will drop like a sack of potatoes - and in my experience - at a time when maximum humiliation is guaranteed.

This bag, also pinned after much trawling of Esty, is the one I have ordered. Wish me handbag luck.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: Wallpaper envy. Actually, just pattern envy.

#flashback: Not a great deal of pinning happened this time last year, but it was the first month of documenting my monthly craft endeavours.

September 01, 2014


I HAD to consult my diary to check what I was doing in the early days of August: they feel so long ago. I squeezed a lot in but it was good squeezing and needed to be done before the end-of-year hysteria snuck up on me. I always think I can see that person later, or fulfil that commitment in a month's time, but September rolls around and, BAM!, game on. So, I booked a weekend's down time with my partner in Mudgee; checked in with a work project in Canberra; and, made time to see my nana, my aunt and my sister's family, all of them in Queensland. Logistically, it was all a bit tricky - and tiring - but well worth it. 

I READ Reports, strategic plans, briefing notes … on repeat. It's the time of the year when the organisation I work for and the organisation I volunteer with shuffle through the strategic planning cycle. It's been head down, bum up and read. The writing phase starts this month.

I WENT TO Canberra, Mudgee and Brisbane.

Mudgee. Glory be. I needed that break. I booked the beautiful Perry Street Hotel and tickets to the Mudgee Readers Festival in June, so you can imagine, by August I was well and truly hanging for a weekend country retreat, complete with the smell of burning ironbark wood fires, big blue skies and wide streets. 

Perry Street Hotel reminded me of hotels in Vienna I stayed in earlier this year, and rightly so because apparently they're modelled off the hotel aesthetic of nearby Berlin. It was a real treat to see what was - when I lived in Mudgee, a derelict former Mechanic Arts Institute - done up and restored with a nod to its dance hall past and the trades once taught inside it. It was also a treat to potter around the long-running Mudgee markets, poke about the op shops and catch up with friends for a pub meal.

Days before the Mudgee trip, I was in Canberra to visit the Museum of Australian Democracy's Play Up exhibition. People, get yourselves and your wee ones to this. The school holidays are looming and you'll want to get in on this action. I have reason to be biased: Play Up is all about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the particular Article of that Convention that says all children have a right to play. Yup, you've been invited to the nation's old Parliament House AND it's a museum AND you can play there - all day. Want more? This lady and this one have had a hand in it. See. FUN! GO!

Speaking of wee ones, I also went to Brisbane this month and got in some tickles and cuddles and my first ever watching of Frozen with my nephew and niece. Nice.

I LISTENED TO My girl crush Anita Heiss speak about her new book, Tiddas, at Mudgee Readers Festival. It's a small local crowd this one but she didn't mind. She chatted and shared and gossiped and gasbagged, queried and questioned with the best of them.

I ATE Simply. My favourite meal all month was a cheese platter, with quince preserve, honey, macadamia nuts and wholegrain crackers, a few olives and a hearty Mudgee red on the deck at Logan Wines. My second favourite was a salad my sister threw together with salmon, fetta, avocado, fresh rocket, a dollop of aioli, a squeeze of lemon juice and a little cracked pepper. Served up with toasted flat bread and sides of hummus and olive dip, it was simple and delicious. 

I SAW A lot more sunsets than I saw a month ago. Through most of winter, my train travel through Sydney's northern suburbs meant I didn't see much of a sunset. It was just skyscrapers and a blackening sky. But we've edged closer to spring and I am now out of the city and crossing the Hawkesbury River by the time the sun sets. Those sandstone cliffs, that river, that sky. Sigh.

I MADE Baby shower bunting, but I didn't take a photo. Gah! It looked a lot like this, but blue. Yup, a little boy will join our family soon. He's due in the coming fortnight.

September. Phew. I need more daylight hours. I need to open the house wide to sunshine. I need time in the garden and I need to soak up some sun. You?

August 28, 2014


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


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.