Monday, December 31, 2012

Quick trip to the coast

I like to take every opportunity to get near the ocean - my one gripe about Canberra is that it is so far inland. I love the sea - being at the beach, swimming, splashing in the surf .... everything about it except being in a boat ON the sea. Because that makes me puke. So when friends invited us down for an overnight stay  we packed ourselves up and left. Doesn't that make it sound easy? Putting enough things together for 4 of us for 48 hours took about three days and completely filled the car ... and even then we forgot the kids' boogy boards.

But it was worth it. This is a little beach we went to on the first day - it was a windy day and this was the most sheltered choice. This photo looks quite deceptively sunny, it was about 20 degrees in the air and about 14 degrees in the water. Not that the ocean on the south coast ever gets very warm - straight from Antarctica I think. The best thing about this beach was as I was splashing about squealing (it was COLD) two perfectly synchronised dolphins leaped high over the wave in front of me and landed back down before playing in the breakers for a couple of minutes. Just breathtaking! Luckily I didn't see them before they leapt - there is nothing like seeing a fin attached to a dark shape in the water to have you levitating back on to the sand. I have lost bowel control because of dolphins before now.

Our friends were renting a house right on the lake - on one of those big peninsulas that have lakes on either side open to the sea and then wonderful surf beaches at the end of the peninsula. The house was lovely and felt like a beach house with a great big deck out the front for sitting. And sitting some more. And having a beer, while sitting. The boys had ice blocks.

On the second day we went to another beach that was patrolled - it was a bit rough and the beaches had rips, so I prefer the safety of lifesavers, especially with the kids. It wasn't exactly tropical, but I had a wonderful swim and splash in the surf - caught enough waves on a (borrowed) boogy board to get my adrenalin rush, and got dumped by enough of them to get a bellyful of salt water and sand in my gussets. After being largely motionless for the last month because of this stupid toe, it was nice to be out of breath for a while. Although that might just have been the icy water.

Just looking at the pictures there makes me wish I was back there! We might have to do another flying visit in the next week or two. It was a three-hour drive because of the traffic and a couple of snack stops ... but I'll do that to get my saltwater fix.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yay for christmas

We had a lovely christmas. Ate too much, drank too much, gave the children too many presents... so now we're fat, hungover and broke. Yay! I'd do it all again tomorrow. Christmas Eve we didn't do much - a tiny bit of last minute shopping and then dipping the cherries in chocolate. It's a family event.

We had christmas morning at home, just the four of us, with a traditional breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup, and opening our presents. The boys got new baseball bats and wiffle balls to practice with (this is the last known sighting of this ball, we think it's just through the neighbour's fence but we can't quite spot it).

Then we went round to friends for a wonderful lunch/dinner - one on-going feast that lasted many hours. It was very relaxing and we had a wonderful time. The food was amazing.

And the wine was flowing, so Boxing Day was spent a bit bleary-eyed and quiet.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

String piecing

I don't know what brought this on but I felt like some plain old string piecing. On paper. It's not really strings because I used 2 1/2" strips, so they are all the same width, and I'm doing 16 lights and 20 darks and then I'll put them together somehow. Normally I find these blocks really boring to make, but for some reason, they are hitting the spot at the moment.

Here's a light one. And below is the back of a dark one before I take the paper off.

I ripped all the paper off while watching TV - it's a good brainless task to do while plonked on the sofa. Zelda the Fattest Cat in the World thought that I was making all these little strips of paper for her amusement. Every time I added one to the pile she claimed it with a big sharp claw ... and every few minutes, just for fun, she'd rustle them all up and bite them. When I was finished and wanted to tidy everything up I had to get my husband to lure her to another room (with food of course) or she would have ripped my arm off.

Friday, December 21, 2012


We had a work afternoon tea yesterday - for the end of the year, and to farewell some people, and generally just because ... My workplace has about eighty people, which is not huge but enough so that you can go weeks or even months without seeing some people. So social events are lovely, and because I have been there for YEARS and YEARS I can always find someone to chitchat to.

So I was wondering what to bake while procrastinating on the internet and I saw the Cracker Bark on  Tammy's blog.  The recipe is over on Mennonite Girls Can Cook, which is not a website I am familiar with - I tend to steer away from anything that lets you request a prayer on the front page because it  generally heralds a quick descent into genuine crazy ... but if you stick to the cooking those mennonite girls are just fine. I used Salada crackers, which were perfect. And I didn't use the peanut butter chips - I'm not sure what they are, my local shop certainly didn't have any, and we have serious peanut allergies at work - so just covered it with toasted almond flakes and the choc chips.

It was delicious, and even better than delicious, it was different. No-one had had anything quite like it before, and the mix of salt and caramel and chocolate was a real hit. I pointed half a dozen people in the direction of the recipe so hopefully someone else will make it too! Thanks Tammy!!!

I love finding something that is a bit new in the cookery world - popovers are something I make regularly and most people haven't had them before - such a simple concept and so yum. Especially with jam and cream ....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In which I question my sanity

As you know, dear readers, I have two boys. My world is pretty blokey - cars and trucks and fart jokes.    This is fine by me - I did kind of want an adorable little dress-up pink baby but they do tend to turn into young ladies with minds (and mouths) of their own a year or two before boys. Well, as far as I can figure from watching other people's children.

Anyway, this Christmas we are going to friends, who have two daughters, one of whom is into Barbie. So I got her a Barbie, and I brought it home ... and it had not been in the secret present stash for more than two minutes before I got Miss Barbie down, ripped her out of the box, emptied out the dance-school scrap bag and started making that skinny blonde some clothes. It was overpowering. I am going to have to buy another Barbie to give to the actual kid.

Look, an opera cloak. For when she goes to the opera. This was the most fun I have had sewing for MONTHS.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

As usual

As usual, the onion says it best. Jeez.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baby quilt

This is for a work colleague who is having another little boy (well, his wife is, but you know) - I think it was yesterday! I haven't heard how it went, hopefully all OK. These people who forget to let their work know the INSTANT they have a baby, such self-centredness. Anyway, this is obviously quite a straightforward single block - I think everyone was making it last year but I can't remember what it's called. I tend to save photos of things that catch my eye in random places and then flick through them when I need inspiration. It works well on the inspiration front, but quite poorly on the record-keeping and ever-finding-things-again front.

You can see I got my husband to hold this one up - one of the advantages of having him chauffeur me around. Hang on a second sweetie, can you just hold this, then we can go, promise. On toe news, it is improving markedly. I drove myself into work today, which was fine, although the walk from the carpark building to my office is just slightly too far. I took it real real slow, lurching from side to side. I looked like the zombie apocalypse.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not much happening here

It may not surprise you to hear that it's been a pretty boring few days chez Lynley. In fact I have left the house once since Tuesday and that was yesterday for baseball. I'm still not driving. And, like an invalid, I got dropped off at baseball, propped up on a folding chair and given the score sheet ... actually that's the same as every week, scoring is my allotted task.

It's quite simple for the under 10s, you just have to keep track of outs and homes; but even that can challenge my level of focus. They are still at the age where the parents get REALLY excited if anyone connects with the ball, and then remembers to run to first and not just stand there watching the ball go up ... and down... And then if anyone actually makes to it second or third, let alone home, there is hollering and shrieking and wild applause like they'd won the world series. Which makes it a bit difficult to keep track of which little kiddie makes it over the plate in the end, and whether they've had two or three outs.

Luckily if you get it a little bit wrong no-one seems to mind. I hear stories about crazed and competitive parents but I have yet to meet one. I was worried one week when I realised I'd let the other side have five outs (there are no umpires, it's all done by consensus) but the other team manager said "no worries mate, we're not playing for sheep stations" which seems a nicely Australian take on a very American game.

There has been some quilting. I have to work the foot pedal with my left foot, which took a little bit of getting used to. I've been sewing since I was seven (35 years!!! argh!!!) and the connection between my brain and my right pedal foot seems completely hardwired. It took a few false starts (and worse, missed stops) but I can do it, although it still feels weird.

I re-trained myself to use a computer mouse with my left hand when I was getting pains in my right wrist (I told everyone it was because of work, but it was actually The Sims) and it's feasible once you get over the initial awkwardness. When I was 19 I was swimming a lot for exercise and I read an article in Cosmopolitan or some other equally reputable source that said that if you always breathed on the same side you'd get hideously overdeveloped muscles in one side only in your back and you'd never get a boyfriend EVER. So over a few weeks I changed to breathing on alternate sides - just a couple of near drownings - and it was the best thing I ever did for my swimming. It's a much more even and relaxed way to swim.

God, can you tell I haven't had many people to talk to this week? I'm blathering into my blog. So the sewing I've been doing is the Moth in a Window quilting - I've made each block into a little quilt sandwich and I'll join them together in the fullness of time. I haven't made all the blocks yet, but that involves getting up, which I've been trying not to do, so I'm just sitting and quilting. It's quite satisfying because I get to use up ugly fabric on the back and all those little pieces of batting!! I have tubs full of bits that I am finally getting to use.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December, already??

I know the calendar doesn't lie, but really? December? We have a tradition (more of a house rule) that we put our Christmas tree up in the first weekend in December. The boys would have it up from August, and I wouldn't bother at all, so it's a compromise. The boys did all the hard labour this year, and it looks wonderful.

They did all the decorating because it turns out I have a broken pinky toe. My foot kept hurting so eventually I went to the doctor, who sent me for x-rays after muttering darkly about Broken Foot and Six Weeks in Plaster ... which meant I was very relieved to find out it's just a broken toe. But it would explain why it hurt so much. So I avoided having to have a plaster cast, but I am supposed to spend the next two weeks not walking or driving.

It's really hard not to walk!!! I'm going to work from home for the rest of the week, which is easy enough as I have a desk job, remote access to all the emails and documents, and a team with my mobile on speed dial. It is hard not to want to keep doing things ... although I should not whinge about HAVING to stay on the sofa and watch television while my meals are cooked and the washing is done :) Poor husband of mine.

One job I can do is digitising the vinyl - recording all of our old albums into a MP3 file and onto the computer. It is so low-tech that I have to do the recording in real time and actually listen to each album as it plays through and gets recorded. The boys were fascinated by this bizarre concept of vinyl, and grooves, and a stylus. I couldn't explain to them how it worked with any degree of accuracy so we googled it and all learned something.

The albums themselves are a bit of a laugh. My husband worked in the record section of a department store while he was at school and university, so has a fairly decent collection even though I question his taste. If I roll my eyes at anything in particular he says it was a gift. Surely not. We both deny responsibility for the one above. "Why did you buy that?" "I thought it was yours?" "Mine! God no, I would never buy that" etc.

This is one of my favourite albums, not because of any musical merit but because I had it on constant rotation for about six months in 1985 and then never again - so every song takes me straight back to the delights and horrors of life as a 15 year old girl. Strangely, I still know all the words to every song. Ask me what I read yesterday in the very useful "Practitioners Guide: Capacity Assessment of Anti-Corruption Agencies" and I would stare at you blankly - but apparently there is plenty of room in my brain for three verses and a chorus of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".