Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In the garden

I'm not quite sure what these beauties are, but they're completely self-sown and popping up everywhere! So peaceful to take a moment out, and watch them blow in the breeze.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

100 Blogs Today!

( photo from )

My 100th blog today! Hip, Hip, Hooray!
And what a lot of fun it's been.

In keeping with the celebratory mood, here's one of my favourite songs, "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose", from one of my favourite singers, Eddi Reader. Hope you enjoy it.

Thank you so much for stopping by at the Wood :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rainy days

We have had a very wet weekend. But I for one am not complaining. As I think I have mentioned to you before, we live in a very dry part of the world and once summer comes, raindrops will be something of a fond and distant memory. So I am quite happy to hear the continual pitter-patter of rain on the roof and windows and to be basically limited to indoor pursuits for a couple of days.

To pass the time as I watched the rain fall, I stitched together Billy the Dog who's a little wonky and probably wouldn't pass the inspection of a halfway decent stitcher but I think he has rather a sweet disposition (for the pattern, see Miyako Kanamori's Sock and Glove); I baked a very nice chocolate cake which disappeared not long after this photo was taken (; I pottered about the house practicing with the settings on my digital camera (orchids courtesy of my Fellow Traveller) and I watched some very busy earthworms make their way through the rain...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Down in the Sleep-out

When I was a child, I loved to go down to my Grandma's Sleep-out. I'm not sure what they're called in other countries but here this word refers to a little shed in the backyard. Not like a garage but rather a little, free-standing, additional room. My grandmother did all of her sewing and knitting in there and all sorts of creations subsequently emerged from that tiny room, so I always saw it as a pretty magical place. Also, it was full of things. Balls of wool, reels of cotton, bundles of cloth, jars of pins, lengths of ribbon, tins of bobbins, boxes of buckles, brightly coloured yarn samples, an assortment of tape measures, old socks to be darned, shirts to be patched, jumpers-in-progress, nearly-finished doilies. Now, I would love to make it into my craft room, but for the time being it's become more of a storage room. But its day will come again! Especially while there are so many remnants of Grandma's creative endeavours still in there...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Coffee O'Clock

Working mostly from home, I think it's good to have a bit of structure. It works for me, anyway. I don't draw up timetables and go overboard about it, but I like to have some goals each day at least. One of the less serious but no less key parts of each workday for me is my mid-morning milk coffee. Oh yes. And it has to be in my Pooh-and-Piglet mug or it's just not the same... What's the one thing that keeps your day rolling along?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fancy Nancy

My good blogging friend Meg over at Land of Meg ( has sent me a present! How very, very kind :) And it's a knitting nancy. Have you used one? Apparently it's also referred to as a bizzy lizzy, French knitting or, in German, a Nahliesle. My favourite moniker is Meg's, however - a fancy nancy. Apparently they have been used as far back as the Middle Ages and can make all sorts of things. What I am really hanging out to make, though, is socks. I have wanted to make socks forever but the thought of knitting them the regular way with four needles on the go at once has made me break out in a cold sweat every time I've considered it. But Nancy, you may be my ticket to sock heaven...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Salad Days

We're getting closer to summer in this part of the world and so my thoughts are turning to salads. Several months ago I read about the New York Times list of 101 salads and a number of the American blogs I was reading at that time enthused about the list: This was in the middle of winter here, when all I wanted to do was set myself up on the couch with a doona, a bowl of mashed potato and a side order of hot chocolate. Salads?, I thought, what be they? But now... so, on the weekend we tried salad number 1 and salad number 13.

Number 1:

Basil leaves
French dressing

Number 13:
Basil leaves
Shaved Parmesan
Balsamic vinegar

Number 1 disappeared before the camera could be brought out. I took a shot of Number 13 (above) which is not a great photo as you can see but if food could appear in an action shot, this would be it. The slightly shimmery, 'in motion' effect of it suggests (I think at least - my Fellow Traveller suggests it's simply blurry) the fact that my FT was hovering next to it, waiting to spoon some onto his plate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Time Traveller

We have had a hard rubbish collection in our area this week. These collections only come around bi-annually and they're a very good opportunity for you to get out onto the curb anything that's been cluttering up your house/garage/yard for the last six months. By the time the council trucks arrive though, there really is just rubbish (that is, of the icky old mattress variety). The weekend prior to the collection, trucks, mini-vans and four-wheel-drives circle the area, vehicles stop, people leap out, inspect what you've left on the grass, take what they think they can use and drive off again. Some people even come prepared with tool kits to loosen parts from your old fridge/dishwasher/electric fan to use on theirs. We put out an old fridge - with the door removed as is mandatory - and someone took the fridge but not the door. Hmmm. One man's meat, as the saying goes. It's a lot like op-shopping. Everyone has their own use for something. Everyone sees these discarded objects in their own way.

While we were deciding what to throw out, we re-discovered my grandfather's prized radiogram. Made in 1966, it picked up only AM stations, but being a modern machine, it does have an inbuilt record player. I am rather shamefaced to admit that we had left it languishing in the driveway, under the protection of the car-port. We simply couldn't see where we could put it when we first moved in. But now, dusted down and carefully polished, it has pride of place inside once more. It's not working at the moment, so we'll have to get that sorted out. But what I want to know is, when we do get it fixed, will it still be 1966 inside that radio?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day

Daffodils can cheer up anything...even our grey bathroom walls (a leftover of my grandfather's 1950s renovations)!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Robin's Nest

Time once again for some nostalgia. I discovered on a weekend visit to the DVD store that "Robin's Nest" is now available on DVD. Did anyone else watch this in the 70s? It was the spin-off from "Man About the House", with Richard O'Sullivan reprising his role of the abundantly-sideburned Robin Tripp. As with "Man About the House", I have to say that it has aged pretty well and there are certainly still laughs to be had. I've been working my way through season 1 these last few nights. I also saw that "Mind Your Language" is now available too. Good thing we're getting closer to Christmas...old Thames TV shows make excellent stocking fillers!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tales of the Orient

This is my entry for this week's Simon Says Challenge over at The theme this week is "oriental". In putting it together, I was thinking lots of red since it is a lucky colour in China, a couple of my favourite cherry blossoms on the Yuzen paper underneath for Japan and a newly acquired Asian sticker in the middle... I wonder if it will win? All the other cards are really lovely and being a newbie to cardmaking, I think it's fun just to give it a go.

Monday, September 14, 2009

No matter how long the winter...

...spring is sure to follow.
Some scenes from my springtime garden over the weekend - a bee bonds with the lavender; the tiniest of tiny plums begins its journey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

For the cold-necked amongst us

My neck warmer is complete! Now, I do not profess to be one of the world's great knitters. This is the first knitted piece I have ever made for myself and sure, there are some dodgy stitches in there, but I like it and it does its job. It's so warm! It fits snugly around my neck so that I can stay toasty when I am wearing collarless jumpers or long-sleeve t-shirts, I love the green and the buttons are some gorgeous Japanese ones a dear friend gave me for my last birthday. Orders for the Feronia Neck Warmer are now being taken! (just kidding...)

Have a lovely weekend. The weather is warming up here - 25 degrees celsius tomorrow! - and I'm going to get my weekend off to a good start by sharing Japanese Bento boxes (yum!) with my family tonight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If you're feeling a little down, just sit back, relax and watch...

Well, if this doesn't give you a boost today, I don't know what will! It certainly cheered me. Thanks to Loobylu ( for posting this on her blog and alerting me to its very cute existence! The music is apparently by a group called U900.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In a jam

I always thought jam-making was hard. My grandmother made jam for much of her adult life and it was beautiful jam. Apricot, plum, raspberry and her much sought after three-fruit marmalade. Often the ingredients came from her own backyard (now our backyard). Often relatives and friends would appear at the front door with a bag or two of something in the hope she would turn it into jam. And she would, but it was quite a production. Vast amounts of water, vast amounts of sugar, the big, cumbersome jam-making saucepan would come out of cupboard. Jars would be sterilised, words would be muttered under the breath...

But me? Despite the impression I may sometimes give here, I'm a woman of my era. I found the following easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy jam recipe in All Cooked Up by Donna Presley Early and Edie Hand (yes, it's an Elvis-inspired recipe book but don't let that put you off).

Strawberry and Fig Preserves

1/2 cup water
3 cups peeled and mashed figs
3 cups sugar
2 boxes strawberry jelly crystals (gelatin)

Bring water to boil. Place figs in water and boil for 2 minutes. Combine sugar and jelly crystals in a bowl. Add to the figs. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterile jars and seal.

In my usual creative (ahem) approach to cooking, for the figs I used dried figs, fairly finely cut. For the sugar, I used caster sugar. And I added water to the jelly crystals and sugar in the bowl before adding them to the figs. Last night, as I poured it into the jars, I was predicting it wouldn't set. I told my Fellow Traveler that I would buy some vanilla ice cream today because we would be eating it as a sauce. But guess what? It set. And guess what else? It's pretty good. As my FT summed it up so well at breakfast this morning: "Mmmm...figgy."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Time for tea, girls

Well, Dad loved the card I am happy to report, and the sherry and sultana cupcakes morphed into a sherry, sultana and chocolate cake which I'm afraid I don't have a photo of because it was gobbled up by those assembled - which is perhaps better proof of the pudding than a photo!

Over the weekend, I discovered the novels of Elsie J. Oxenham. Do you know her? She wrote about 90 novels for young adults up to her death in 1960 and she still has quite a following, including a number of local chapters of 'Abbey Girls' here (some of her best known books focussed on a group of girls living near the ruins of an abbey). Yesterday I was delighted to find Strangers at the Abbey in amongst some old op-shop books I'd bought months ago with a view to selling them online, and I can't wait to get started on it. I read We're in the Sixth! by Carol Ann Pearce last year, another novel set at a girls' school, and I am about to finish its sequel, St Kelvern's Launches Out. I find the ordered, sensible world of these English girls' boarding schools to be a very soothing place to immerse myself in - though I am absolutely sure their real-life counterparts are nothing like them! - and I am keen on any book which makes regular mention of stopping for tea and cake. In my mind's eye, I imagine a place peopled by friendly, straightforward characters like Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) in Foyle's War!

I also love the fact that there are people out there that are so passionate about these books that they form clubs around them. Are there any Barbara Pym fans out there who would be interested in doing the same?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lake Wobegon Days

It's Father's Day here on Sunday, so last night I made a card for my Dad (Thursday night cardmaking creativity strikes again). He has been a huge fan of Garrison Keillor and the Lake Wobegon tales for many, many years so I thought perhaps a Wobegon themed card might do the trick. Do you know Lake Wobegon ( It's a made-up rural town in Minnesota, peopled by a strange but endearing assortment of characters. So I went with a kind of a cutesy-vintage-small-town thing with the card too. My Fellow Traveler and I went to Minnesota last year and I thought 'I wonder if I'll find anything Wobegon related for Dad...?', not really imagining that I would, or at best thinking I would have to go to the radio station where "A Prairie Home Companion" (the radio serial about Lake Wobegon) is recorded and beg, borrow or steal a pen or a coffee mug or something like that. Imagine my delight when I discovered the Lake Wobegon Store in Minnesota's massive Mall of America! I think I was their best customer that day...

I am also planning to make Dad some yummy-sounding Sherry and Sultana cupcakes so I'll let you know how those go too. I am trying to make rather than buy gifts at the moment, in preparation for Christmas. I'm considering a bit of a one-woman crusade against materialism, actually. Personally I would far prefer something small from the heart than something big from a store. Wish me luck with it! Once the Christmas madness starts, I think it may be a short-lived mission... :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I heart Japan

As you may have gathered, I love all things Japanese. So I was delighted to find From Japan With Love on one of my recent Net surfing expeditions ( I ordered two gorgeous rubber stamps from their Etsy site - one of some bamboo shoots and another of a Japanese maple leaf - and they arrived (very promptly!) today, all bundled up in a cheerful little parcel which, as with all things Japan, showed a lovely eye for detail. Check out the sweet inner envelope covered in little characters and even the airmail stamp has cherry blossoms. Thank you From Japan With Love! I can feel some serious cardmaking coming on...

In other news, my neck warmer is nearly done - yay! - and I was struck last night just how similar it is in colour to a Packham pear...