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I'm A Table








Katie ❀ Melbourne, Australia

dreamer ✧ crafter ✧ artist ✧ cook ✧ reader ✧ gardener ✧ collector ✧ list-maker ✧ Forest Girl
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Works in Progress

GeoMushroom I


Grannyland Blanket


Swedish Christmas Shawl


Lammily Tank Top


Mixtro Monster


Polkadot Coathangers
(Set 3)


Kimono Lady Needlepoint


Couch Armrest Cover





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June 29th, 2016



Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the latest film by New Zealand director Taika Waititi. The screenplay is based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. I thoroughly enjoyed Waititi's last film, What We Do in the Shadows, and in fact it was my favourite movie of the year last year, so I was looking forward to seeing his latest one.



Ricky Baker is a 13-year-old with a reputation for being a juvenile delinquent. He has never known his parents and has only lived in a series of foster homes. As he is dropped off at a remote farm in the bush, he is warned that if this latest foster placement doesn't work out, he will be sent to a juvenile prison. The farm belongs to Bella, a kind-hearted Maori woman, and Hector, a gruff bushman with a shady past. After a few false starts, Ricky settles in happily at the farm.

After a tragic series of events, Ricky and Hector find themselves forced to camp out in the bush for 6 weeks. When they try to return to civilisation, they discover that Hector has been accused of kidnapping Ricky, and a reward has been offered for his capture. The two go on the run with their dogs, chased by the police, a crazed child welfare officer and a group of hunters. Ricky becomes somewhat of a folk hero, and finds just as many people willing to help him as catch him.

Moments of poignancy and sadness are interspersed with a series of increasingly over-the-top chase scenes. The eventual ending sees all of the characters (the ones we like, anyway) finding happiness in a quiet, not sickly-sweet kind of way.



Hunt for the Wilderpeople has the same offbeat comedic sense as Waititi's previous films. I found it dragged a little as the action became more farcical, but the strong characters more than made up for this. Julian Dennison's portrayal of Ricky is brilliant -- the cliched rebellious teen just looking for somewhere to belong is made individual by his quirky character traits. Sam Neill as the other half of this odd couple plays subtle comedy as well as he always does. The only criticism I have is that the comedic and tragic scenes seemed to alternate with a predictable regularity. Several scenes which have not much to do with the overall plot expose the movies' being based on a novel, though I found they helped me to empathise with the characters.

I noticed references to several other New Zealand films, and I'm sure there are plenty more that I missed. The stunning New Zealand scenery contrasting with the slightly cheesy 80s-inspired soundtrack provided another level of comic absurdity. The 'Ricky Baker' birthday song was adorable and I found myself singing it for days afterwards. I was relieved that the cinematography avoided the stereotypical mountainous scenery we saw in Lord of the Rings and focused instead on New Zealand's forest and desert landscapes. Another lovely touch was the division of scenes into chapters with the titles appearing in a quirky font on the screen.

The film is not suitable for younger children as it depicts survival situations, scenes with guns and some violence involving animals. It is not a pure comedy as the television advertisements make out, but is much deeper and I think would be enjoyed by both adults and teens.

Would I watch again? Yes!




June 21st, 2016



All photos today are of my own house and belongings.
Perhaps you might think I have a lot of stuff?
But it was much worse before, trust me!


The KonMari method of de-cluttering has taken the world by storm in the last year or so, but in case you haven't heard of it, I wrote about it here and here. I'm more than halfway through KonMari-ing my house now, and I'm very pleased with how well the method works for me. Here are 8 reasons why I think that is:

1. IT ACKNOWLEDGES THE EMOTIONS
Many de-cluttering books and shows take a 'hard love' stance on the subject. They envision a frenzy of throwing things out, with garbage bags full of unwanted clutter lined up on the footpath. To me, it seems quite cold and heartless. Anyone who has seen TV shows like Hoarders can clearly see what an emotional toll the process has on the homeowner. In these shows, having an emotional reaction is usually depicted as a weakness to be overcome. Even when a psychologist is brought in to help the subject, his or her struggles to deal with the process are swept aside when a group of hard-nosed de-cluttering experts turn up armed with rubber gloves and a huge skip. In contrast, the KonMari method is gentle. Marie Kondo says it's important to acknowledge (she uses the word 'relish') the emotions that come up during tidying; this actually makes the decision easier, not harder. The decision to keep or discard is made by asking yourself whether the item makes you happy. KonMari asks: does holding the item make your heart leap and put a smile on your face? If so, then keep it!


I arranged my shawls in a box from Ikea so I can see them
every time I open my wardrobe door. Happy.


2. IT DOESN'T USE THE 'C' WORD
I found it interesting that in the title of her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Kondo uses the word 'tidying' instead of 'de-cluttering'. This is the case throughout the book as well. Konmari never uses the word 'clutter' or 'rubbish' to refer to possessions, and she is careful to use terms such as 'discard' or 'retire' instead of 'throw away' or 'get rid of'. The book has been translated from Japanese, but I think this careful use of terms is very deliberate. As I learned from the Fluent Self method of self-care, the words we choose are very important. Words like 'de-cluttering' and 'getting rid of' tend to create an automatic resistance in people's minds. Gentler, more respectful and positive words make people more amenable to following the method.


Body wash and face mask samples are all grouped together in the bathroom.


3. IT'S NOT MINIMALIST
It seems that many people have misunderstood the KonMari method, thinking it promotes a lifestyle of minimalism. It doesn't. The method merely says to keep all of the items that make you happy. KonMari says not to feel bad if you want to keep something. This means the item sparks joy and you should keep it. Recently on NHK TV there was a special called Tidying in New York with KonMari (I believe it's on YouTube now). KonMari was helping a young woman with her apartment. The girl became visibly upset at the thought of having to throw a box of things away. I think they were drawings that she had created. KonMari then said to her, "but if you don't want to throw them away, you don't have to!" Her face cleared and she beamed. The drawings made her happy, so why get rid of them? The aim is not to have as little as possible, but to live in a space where everything in it makes you happy.


All of my books are unpacked now! And Husband's too!


4. THERE ARE NO NUMBERS
Many other decluttering methods focus on numbers: you should have no more than so many of each item. Articles on clothes are particularly big on this -- to build a 'capsule' wardrobe, you should have 2 shirts, 2 pants, 2 skirts, etc. The KonMari method doesn't put any limits or absolutes on anything. If you had 43 handbags and 38 of them spark joy, keep those 38. (Not that that's a specific example from my own life or anything, ahem.) If, for example, you don't keep any skirts at all because you don't like wearing skirts anymore, that's fine, too.


Makeup has been sorted, duplicate colours weeded out,
and arranged in trays and a basket from Daiso.


5. IT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT EVERYONE'S DIFFERENT
The 'does it spark joy?' method of deciding what to keep acknowledges that everyone is an individual. As Marie Kondo says, everyone has a different understanding on what the appropriate amount to keep is, so there's no point in specifying numbers. The important factor is whether or not you feel comfortable being in that room. Some people prefer a minimalist room, others love being surrounded by their treasured items. The KonMari method allows people to express their personality. If you have 50 kitten figurines and 48 of them spark joy, then it's perfectly fine to keep all 48. Keeping 48 kitten figurines might seem completely bonkers-crazy to one person, but totally normal to another. It's up to you to decide what's right for you.

6. IT WORKS FOR COLLECTORS
Speaking of kitten figurines ...
Many people who collect things for a hobby can't put their finger exactly on why they do it. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, only emotion. Other methods of decluttering often don't acknowledge this urge. Nobody needs 20 teapots, or 3,500 troll dolls. Sources that tell you to discard excess items or throw away things you haven't used in a year aren't helpful for someone who has a valuable and treasured collection of original boxed Star Wars figures. Asking yourself if this item really makes you happy is a much more appropriate way of going about discarding when it comes to collections.


Now my stud earrings are arranged in a lovely vintage dish instead of the
ugly fishing tackle box I packed them in to move house.


7. IT'S RESPECTFUL
For those who lean towards an animist view on life, the respect with which Marie Kondo treats her possessions will be familiar. Before she begins tidying a client's house, she greets the house and asks it to show her where it would like everything stored. She advises that when discarding an item, to thank it for its service. This allows you to discard it with a clear conscience instead of guilt. Finding a permanent spot in the house for the remaining items is also very important. She says: when an item has its own place, it's happier, and this vibe spreads to the whole room and its occupants.


I finally found all of my dangly earrings and the stand to display them on! So happy!
The stand is on an open bookshelf opposite my bed so I can see it all the time.


8. IT'S NOT FANCY
Marie Kondo doesn't give advice regarding particular types of storage systems. In fact, she advises against purchasing elaborate storage 'solutions' for the home. This, she says, only leads to acquiring more because excess items are out of sight and you may forget you have them. She herself uses old shoeboxes and other re-purposed things to store many of her items. What's important is that when you open a cupboard door, you can see everything you own, and it makes you happy. Your storage can be as elaborate or simple, expensive or cheap as you want it to be.



I have some more posts in the pipeline on the KonMari method, such as tips, how I deviated from the method (gasp!!), and how it has changed my life. Has it? I'm not sure yet. Stay tuned to find out!

June 10th, 2016

Hobonichi Planner Unboxing

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I'm now the proud owner of a Hobonichi Techo. Hobonichi is a range of diary planners from Japan. They are coveted because of their sleek minimalist design, and more importantly, their high-quality River Tomoe paper. The paper accepts watercolour well and doesn't bleed through with most pens. This makes them perfect as a daily art journal.

I first heard about the Hobonichi Techo last month when I subscribed to Rainbow Holic YouTube channel. Kaila had a series of videos called 'Hobonichi with Me'. I was instantly struck by, not only the cute art, but the design of the planner that combines a daily planner with an artistic practice.

I really, really wanted one! But it was halfway through the year, and the thought of having to wait 6 months to start one of my own was, well, I have to admit, a little heartbreaking. Imagine my pleasant surprise on learning that Hobonichi also sell a 6-month version of the planner, called the Abeku. Not only that, but the July-December 2016 version was going on sale in just a couple of days!

I hesitated for a while, but by the time the Abeku went on sale, I'd managed to convince myself to purchase it. It was relatively expensive for a half-year planner, but on the other hand, I thought, the daily format and beautiful paper would encourage me in my goal of drawing more often. The coincidence that Hobonichi offer a 6-month version, and I heard about it just before it went on sale ... I was convinced it was a sign! I made the purchase and waited anxiously for it to arrive. The wait wasn't long though -- it only took 4 days from Japan to Australia.

My Hobonichi came in an excitingly large, yellow package styled like an old-fashioned gift bag.



Inside was a sleek sky-blue coloured box, and the planner was inside that. The Japanese version comes with several free gifts -- a tri-colour pen, a tissue holder and a poster. Everything was packed in clear plastic bags.



There was no packing material inside the box and everything rattled around a little bit. I don't think this mattered too much as everything was made of durable materials and was wrapped in plastic.



The Hobonichi Techo comes in two sizes (A5 and A6). I decided to purchase the smaller size for my first. I didn't purchase a cover or any other accessories, as I wasn't sure if I'd want to settle on the smaller size in the long run. Plus, it might be fun to make a cover myself.





The planner has month-at-a-glance and week-at-a-glance pages at the front, but the main body has one page per day. At the end are sections to list addresses, favourites books, movies, etc. as well as recipes, and other information. Much of it is in Japanese so I can't read it, which is a bit of a shame, but I like that the main pages of the diary are in Japanese. I love looking at texts in different languages and it gives me a chance to do that every day.






I couldn't wait until the end of the month to use it, so I wrote in the dates for birthdays and events for the rest of the year, and did this painting in the front:




I'm quite happy with the painting. It's been a long time and I'm very out of practice. I'm very happy with the Hobonichi as well so far; hopefully that will continue.

June 4th, 2016

Can I Grow Rosehips?

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About 6 months ago (the timing being not at all coincidental, when you switch hemispheres) I read a post on The Woman Who Married a Bear about gathering rosehips, and making syrup and other beautiful things from them. I wondered, can I do that? I have 7 rose bushes, and I don't even know if they grow rosehips. All the sources I've read on caring for roses focuses on the flowers. They say to prune off the rose as soon as it finishes flowering. (If you haven't already cut it for displaying or giving away, that is. Or bathed in it.) This doesn't allow the rose plant to grow its fruit, the rosehip.


The Flamingo just won't stop growing.


I looked up some information about rosehips. I can't remember where I read it now, but it said that all rose varieties grow fruit, however some grow larger and sweeter than others. It went into a long list of varieties with botanical names and, I have to admit, it made my head swim a little bit. I decided to just let my roses grow this year and see what happens.


The Hot Chocolate is the most vigorous. The Circus Gold in the background is still flowering.


The results were very interesting. All of the bushes grew visible rosehips, but some were larger than others. The largest and plumpest rosehips were on the bush that I watered the most over Summer, the Flamingo. The smallest and saddest looking ones were on the bush I only watered a couple of times (variety unknown). It's the one furthest from the tap, and it always looked to be doing fine when I checked it, so I didn't bother to water it.


Another nice rosehip on the Hot Chocolate.


It makes sense, when I think about it, that roses would grow better fruit when watered more, just like my fruit trees. I'll be more conscientious with that next year. I'm not sure yet at what point the rosehips should be harvested; I'll have to do some more research on that.

The only drawback of growing rosehips of course, is that the gardener has to put up with an ugly-looking bush for a few months. But it's just a reminder that nature isn't always pretty.


The rose furthest from the tap (variety unknown).


June 2nd, 2016

My May

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The weather really turned cold by the end of the month. We've broken out the extra blankets, and there are frost warnings already. There's been a lot more rain. I heard about the 30x30 Challenge, which is to spend 30 minutes outside every day for 30 days, starting on 1st May. I wanted to do it, but then it rained for 3 days straight, with barely a 30-minute letup, so I decided to wait until Winter is over before trying it. Of course, I want to spend as much time outside as I can, but at this time of year it would be quite difficult to do it every day.

What I've been sorting ...
My KonMari adventure has been continuing. I've almost finished my clothes, and most of my accessories. I've unpacked a lot of boxes in the last few months, but there are still quite a few things packed (or lost??!) which mean I can't gather everything in some categories together to KonMari them.

I'm also pleased to say that I've unpacked all my books now, which was No. 96 on my 101 Things in 1,001 Days list.


My hair decos. Not too many?


What I've been making ...
I finally finished this crocheted mushroom. I wanted to make one as part of the Mori Girl Challenge, and, I have to admit, this project did double-service. I had two Geocaching Travel Tags to send off. The Travel Tags can be attached to any small item you like, and the tracking code turns it into a trackable item. It's then placed into a geocache for other players to pick up and move to another cache. There's more information here for the interested.
One of the fun things about creating a trackable is to attach something to it that will be fun for other players. And that was the problem! I didn't know what to attach them to. Being me, something handmade was preferable, but I'd been procrastinating for months because I couldn't think of anything. Then an idea struck me: make amigurumi mushrooms!
I (quite cleverly if I do say so myself) embroidered the tracking code under the cap of the mushroom but unfortunately I can't show it to you. It's against the rules. Otherwise anyone could log the trackable when they aren't actually in possession of it.

At this stage, I've almost finished the second one. I used a different pattern so I might write a separate post with my thoughts comparing them.



I also started a new design for a knitted monster plushie. I've made crocheted ones before, but I wanted to see if I could design a knitted one. I ran out of steam though, when I couldn't decide how to do the arms.




What I've been dreaming of ...
Not so much dreaming, but meaning to get around to it. With the rainier weather, the garden is greener than ever. I've started to notice dandelions popping up all over. They're one of the few wild plants I can recognise and know to be useful. There's a wonderfully informative post on The Woman Who Married a Bear on the very topic, so it just remains for me to give it a try.




Selections from Instagram

Mulled wine and drinking games for the Eurovision Song Contest:



I planted a tree! Well, more of a small shrub, really.



I also decorated the fernery a bit more with this gnome from Daiso:




May 28th, 2016

Divination

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I've always been interested in divination, as long as I can remember. I love reading about different types of divination from all over the world, and have tried several myself, though I wouldn't call myself an expert in any of them. I recently acquired a new treasure, so I thought I'd do an overview of the sets I have and methods I've tried.

AMETHYST RUNES
I've had this set of Norse runes since I was a teenager. I chose amethyst because it's said to be the crystal most associated with psychic and intuitive activities, but mostly because I love the colour purple. At some later stage, I embroidered the runic alphabet onto the bag. At one point about 6 years ago, I was using them fairly frequently and even did practice 'swap' readings for a couple of other people in online forums. This set was packed away for a long time after I moved house, and I only found them recently. I feel I would need to cleanse the crystals before using them again.




WOODEN RUNES
This runeset is made from Ash wood. I purchased it from Green Woman Crafts on Etsy about 6 months ago. They came in a hand-sewn pouch, which made them feel even more special. I daresay I like them even more than the crystal ones. They have a warmth to them, and on a practical level they also sit flat when I lay them out. I've been getting back into practice by drawing a rune most mornings for the past month or so, and I find that I often get insights from them.




GODDESS RUNES
These runes work on a system from a book of the same name by P. M. H. Atwater. I won't comment on the claims made in the book today. At the time I bought it (again, when I was a teenager) I didn't know any of that. It just looked like interesting to try, whether the method was an ancient one or not.
I made the runes from stones I found around my parents' garden. The method is to cast all of the runes plus a blank one which represents the querent. They are then interpreted on how close they are to the querent stone, moving outwards in a spiral. I haven't used these runes for a long time, but I can say the casting method appealed to me and seemed more intuitive than drawing them out of a bag.



I recently discovered that Norse runes can be cast as well, and I want to find out more about that and try it.

I CHING
I Ching (The Book of Changes) is a Chinese book of divination. As I learned it, three coins are tossed. The heads-or-tails outcome is either yin or yang. The coins are tossed again and the second outcome either stays yin/yang, or changes to the polar opposite. (Hence the Book of Changes). Together, the two results form a six-part hexagram which corresponds to one of 64 poems in the book.
It's been years since I've used this method, so forgive me if I remembered some of the details incorrectly! As you can see, I used some ordinary 10c coins, which I marked with texta for clarity. I do keep them in a nice box, though. Dice, sticks, marbles or various other tools can also be used.



I Ching is a little different to other methods, as instead of an individual interpreting the outcome, the book is consulted. The text is a Chinese classic and has remained unchanged for 2,500 years. The intuitive part is not so much in interpreting the results, but applying the advice in the poem to the querent's particular situation.

JIAOBEI
In English these are known as moon blocks or kidney blocks. The pair of wooden blocks are flat on one side and curved on the other. They're a quick way to determine the answer to a question. Often people will use them to determine whether it's an auspicious time to consult the I Ching as well. The blocks are held in the hand, then dropped to the floor, and the answer stems from whether they land both curved side up, flat side up, or one of each.
I bought the set from an Asian grocery more out of curiosity than anything else. I haven't used them very much so far. The method is so simple and the outcomes so few and clear, it almost seems like cheating!



LENORMAND CARDS
These are my newest treasure, and I haven't used them yet. Lenormand Cards are named after Madame Lenormand, a famous French fortune teller of the early 19th century. I only heard about this method a few months ago. There isn't a lot of information about them out there, and I haven't done a lot of research yet, but as I understand it, the method is this: the cards are shuffled and then all 36 cards are laid out in a grid. One card represents the querent, and the rest of the cards are interpreted depending on how close they are to the querent card.

The Lenormand Cards may seem similar to Tarot cards, but they have some important differences. I could never relate to Tarot, I don't know why. I was given a set as a teenager, but never used them very successfully, and ended up giving them away. The Lenormand method seems to use more intuition, almost like a card-based version of rune casting. As I don't know much about them so far, I'd love to hear opinions from anyone more knowledgeable than I am!

I wasn't thinking about purchasing a set, until I saw these Viking Lenormand cards, designed by BC Artworks. I couldn't resist. I also purchased the optional pouch to keep them in. I'm looking forward to giving them a try.




May 24th, 2016



Death In Brunswick is a classic Australian novel written by Boyd Oxlade and published in 1987. It is a dark comedy with shocking situations and odious characters which remind me of the stories of Chuck Palahniuk.



Carl is a deadbeat in his late 30s. He works as a cook at a pub; his brutish boss only tolerates him because the pub is required by law to serve food. After Carl's mother has a heart attack, Carl offers to have her stay with him for a couple of weeks, despite his better judgement. While there, Carl's mother badgers him on everything from changing his name, to getting back together with his ex-wife (who she doesn't realise is a lesbian). Carl only bears this because his mother has told him she has left him a large sum of money in her will.

The story alternates between Carl and his best friend, Dave, who has to wrangle his overbearing wife and three children, while putting up with his racist, lazy colleagues at his job as a gravedigger. Despite all of these burdens, Dave is happy, a fact of which Carl is envious.

Meanwhile, Carl has fallen in 'lust' with Sophie, a waitress at the pub, who, despite being only 17 years old, has a past of her own. Carl makes plans to get a better job and rent a nicer house for Sophie and himself, but everything falls apart when there's an incident one night in the pub's kitchen.

Death In Brunswick delves into the seedier side of inner-suburban Melbourne in the 1980s. It has a uniquely Australian voice, and a witty dark humour that appealed to me. Not only that, but I lived in Brunswick for five years, so I know well the street names mentioned in the book. I even went to the cinema that Carl and Sophie went to, before it closed down. Having worked in the public service, I can also picture well the old-school public servants working resentfully under a highly-regulated Government system.

The novel is quite short and ends with only a hint of more in the plot, which leaves the reader to flesh out the ending for themselves. Far from finding this frustrating, I liked it, as it prevented the story from becoming too long and tediously obvious. I would read more by the same author, and I'd also like to see the movie based on the book, which came out in 1990.

May 22nd, 2016

Mocoro Robotic Mop Ball

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After seeing it on an old episode of Eat Your Kimchi, I couldn't resist getting a Mocoro ball, which allegedly sweeps the lint from your floors. Our house has hardwood flooring throughout, so the Mocoro is perfect ... if it works!

It was almost obligatory for me to buy a pair of balls, so I could make the jokes that naturally stem from such a product. I purchased them from this ebay shop; the price was $25.20 for two, including postage. They came from Laos and arrived within 10 days. The parcel was a bit crushed on one side, but the products inside weren't affected.





The Mocoro balls come with a set of 4 different coloured microfibre covers. The covers zip off for easy cleaning.



Each needs 1 AA battery to work. Inserting the battery requires a screwdriver. According to the box, the battery should last for up to 5 hours. I hope this is true as replacing the battery is quite fiddly.



There is an on-off push button on the side of the ball. I was worried that this would get pressed accidentally while the balls are rolling, but this wasn't the case. The balls have a weight inside them, which causes them to jiggle and roll around in random directions. At first my balls didn't move around very much. I posted a short video here on my Instagram. (You can also hear the sound they make.) They seemed to serve more to distract the cat than anything else!



However, just as I was composing a lukewarm review in my head, one of the balls shot off down the hallway, all the way into the bedroom and collected a good amount of lint from under the bed!



Surprisingly, the Mocoro balls work!



However, you will still have to sweep your floor! Because they move around in such a random way, there's very little chance the whole floor will be covered. Plus, I haven't tried cleaning the covers yet. It may well be easier to just sweep. The Mocoro Robotic Mop Ball is more of a novelty than a useful cleaning product, but it's fun.

And, you know, balls. Teehee.

May 20th, 2016



This post is very behind the times, I apologise.
At this point, I'm mainly writing it for my future self as a reference.


Over the last few years our (that is, Husband's* and mine) celebrations for the Eurovision Song Contest have become increasingly elaborate. We both love cooking and trying new cuisines, plus the weather is just starting to cool down here in Australia, so it's the perfect time for cooking, eating and drinking.

This year, we decided to do something slightly different. Normally we cook several dishes from the host country, but for three out of the past five years, the contest has been held in Scandinavia. We both loved eating Scandinavian food, but felt we were familiar with it enough now, and wanted to try something else. I had the idea of trying dishes from one or more countries that have had the worst luck at Eurovision so far. After some research and a process of elimination, I ended up selecting Bulgaria, San Marino and Switzerland. (I was going to leave out San Marino as they haven't been in the competition very long, but Husband thought their cuisine sounded interesting.)

And of course, there was a lot of drink, both inspired by the selected countries, and just in general.



In Australia, the Contest is broadcast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights -- perfect for a three-day festival! (Though, as Australia is about 12 hours behind Europe, we have to have a complete media blackout all day Sunday if we don't want any spoilers on who won.)



On Friday night, we had Bulgarian Güveç, a meal cooked in a claypot. I got a little confused and thought the meal had to consist of pork and vegetables, but it turns out that it can have almost anything in it, as long as it's cooked in the claypot. Husband found a recipe with a tomato and mint sauce, and it was delicious. He also made blue cheese dumplings as we had some cheese that needed using up. They went very well with it. We drank mulled wine with almonds and raisins.



Saturday morning we had Swiss rösti with eggs for breakfast, and leftover stew for lunch.



We made rice-stuffed capsicums for dinner, accompanied with crumbed and fried feta cheese (called sirene pane). Both of these dishes are from Bulgaria. For dessert, we had a fruit crumble. We used stewed apricots, which came from our own tree and I froze last Summer. To accompany this, we had orange vodka which I made from this recipe from Kaninchenherz. I didn't take any photos of the procedure as I was too excited, and my hands were covered in juice! But it turned out looking exactly like the pictures in the recipe.





On Sunday, we slowed down a bit with the food and had some cold meats, dips and cheese for brunch, which lasted through until dinner. For dinner, we had Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a Swiss dish, which consists of veal and mushrooms in a cream sauce. It was accompanied with gnocchi, which some sources say was invented in San Marino. It was our first time making it ourselves. It was a lot of fun and not as hard as I thought it would be. We had orange-infused vodka again with dinner, and leftover apricot crumble for dessert.



Here are some more photos which were taken by Husband:







* I asked Husband about a month ago if he'd like to me to refer to him by a nickname etc on the blog. He said 'Husband' was perfectly fine by him. So there you go.


May 14th, 2016



A little while back I posted about the olives that I picked from my little tree and packed in salt to cure. I left them for a few weeks longer than recommended, mostly because Husband and I were too busy and could never quite find a time to give them the proper opening ceremony they deserved. Eventually we just decided to wait until Mother's Day. Husband's parents came over for lunch. Seeing as they have a new olive tree and used a different method to cure their olives which didn't work very well, we thought they'd like to see the jar being opened.



The salt in the jar was quite damp -- a good sign as its purpose is to draw out the liquid in the olives.



I was excited to look inside and see what happened to the olives in the last 6 weeks.



We dumped out the contents onto a tray and I scooped the olives out.



They were very wrinkly! I think they must have been in the salt too long and dehydrated too much. I rinsed the salt off and we each tasted one.



They tasted pretty good! But Husband's parents said, wow, there's not much meat on them! We showed them the tree and they said, no, it's still too small! You're supposed to pinch the buds off the tree as soon as they appear, for the first 2 to 5 years. If you don't let the tree grow any olives, then it will put all of its energy into growing bigger, then when you finally do grow the olives, they'll be bigger and meatier.

To be honest, I probably would have just let them grow anyway, as I'm too much of a softie. And too impatient to taste them!



I found a teeny-tiny jam jar to put the rest of the olives in, covered them with olive oil and put in a few sprigs from our rosemary bush (that was Husband's idea). We are planning on making an antipasto platter for our Eurovision Song Contest party, so we'll probably eat them then.

I nearly forgot to mention -- we dried out the salt that the olives were cured in. It didn't take very long in a slow oven, and now we have olive salt as well! We've used it in soups and stews and it's not bad. With the amount we have, it will definitely last longer than the olives themselves. Irony?


May 3rd, 2016

My April

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I spent most of the month at home, except for a few trips into the city to go to exhibitions or see friends. My focus has been on the home -- unpacking, sorting and setting everything up.


What I've been making ...
I haven't done a huge amount of craft, but at least a little more than last month. I made this small mat on impluse. Sometimes I get a random urge to knit something in a basketweave pattern for some reason. I'm slowly developing a small collection of little basketweave mats, doll blankets, etc.



I've also worked a bit on my Grannyland blanket. I have about 15 finished squares now, and the unfinished ones you see here. My aim is at least 25 before I even start thinking about joining them together. I'm having too much fun pairing up colours to stop yet!




What I've been playing ...
I've been on the lookout for new casual games to play. I found out recently that the style of game I like to play most is called 'god games' -- the ones where you control the little people/animals/etc and do things that affect their environment. I especially love the ones where you can name them. When I think about it, it's quite rare in life that you get to name things. Plush toys, pets, perhaps your car. Then there's the ultimate -- getting to name another person. In some of these games, you get to name a whole civilisation!

My favourite new game (despite the characters' names not being customisable) is Godus. In this game, you literally play a god, directing your followers to build a civilisation and sculpting the land to make it easier for them to do so. If you keep your followers happy, they generate belief (the pink bubbles) which you can collect and use for powers like Finger of God and Meteor.



As you can see, the game looks gorgeous. I love the contoured layers of land in different colours. Godus was designed by a team headed by Peter Molyneux, one of the greats of game development -- so great, even I've heard of him! Just to scare the rival tribe a little, I set one tree on fire, and ended up destroying their whole civilisation. Oops.




What I've been sorting ...
I unpacked enough that I was able to give the KonMari treatment to a couple more categories of my stuff: underwear, plush toys and knick-knacks. Well, some of the knick-knacks, anyway. I'm sure I have a lot more to unpack....




Selections from my Instagram ...
A new section, obviously, as I've only been on Instagram for a couple of weeks, this section features some of my favourite pictures from my feed for the month of April:









April 24th, 2016

Potting Adventures

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I was invited to a friends' housewarming this weekend, and I had the idea of potting up one of my plants in a nice pot and giving it to them as a housewarming present. Luckily I already had a suitable pot of the right size in the shed. The bamboo plant is a cutting from another plant which I had been given by a co-worker.



I like to use coffee filter paper to line pots, to stop the soil from coming out the bottom. It's quite strong and very affordable from Daiso or the supermarket.



I probably should have potted this cutting some time ago, oops! The roots have become quite long and grown in a spiral following the shape of the jar it was in. Now it will be a bit more free to grow.



After potting, water in well. Using a cute watering can if you have one!



I added some decorative rocks to cover the soil. Hopefully this baby will grow well in its new home.



I was in the zone, as they say, following that, so I potted up some succulents I'm growing from dropped leaves. The cotton wool developed algae and started looking manky after I left them outside for a couple of days. Yuck! Time to do something about it!



All of the babies come from one plant which I named Doris. I did have Doris at work, and had to take all my plants home when I finished up my job. Doris is quite fragile so I was as careful as I could be, but about 12 leaves fell off. I put them on cotton wool in case they grew, but I wasn't expecting so many of them to catch on! I put the 3 largest ones into this cute pot from Daiso.



I planted the rest into this spare bonsai pot. I seem to have a lot of bonsai pots of different sizes lying around. There's a bonsai nursery not far from my house, and about once every six months I go there and admire all the beautiful old trees, and get some supplies.



Perhaps I should just give in and admit that I'm a pot hoarder collector. I've been using them in the bedroom as containers to store beauty products in as well.

When I went back inside, I took a new cutting from Lucky Bamboo which will hopefully grow into another plant I can give away.



A few weeks ago my friend and her 3-year-old daughter came to visit, and as they left, I let her choose a plant to take home with her. It was such a lovely experience seeing my little friend get excited about her plant. Doing things with plants is one of my favourite activities, and I've realised that I really enjoy giving them away to people as well.
It's not an excuse to collect more pots, really it's not!

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