postcards from usa… sun, sweat & freaks

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Today was a hot summers sweat-rolling-down-your-back kinda day. I forgot to put sunscreen on my feet and they now have a fabulous sandal pattern, in a soft shade of crab shell. (I know, who gets burnt feet?) ‘Twas totally worth it though. Saw strawberries as big as apples at Santa Monica farmers market, saw the skaters, freaks, destitute, tourists, show offs, and everything else in between along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Muscle Beach and Skate Park. They still have a freak show at Venice Beach, and the bearded lady stands out the front to entice you in to see the two headed pig, sword swallowers and more! We kept walking. And walking and walking, I think we walked about 15kms today! We dipped our toes in the cool soothing waves, along with thousands of other beach goers on this Labour Day long weekend. There was a ride in a beautiful old Merry-Go-Round (cos you’re never too old for them), up in the Ferris Wheel for a slightly sweaty palmed nervous ride, then saw Santa Monica Pier glowing in the late afternoon sun. It was the sweetest end to a hot summers day by the beach.

postcards from usa… santa monica

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On a balmy summers Saturday night we walked along Santa Monica Pier and watched the sun set over the beach. It felt surreal and dreamlike, partly from the jet lag and partly because we were no longer talking about when we would walk along Santa Monica Pier, we were actually doing it… what a buzz! Buba Gump Shrimps, churros, fairy floss, fortune tellers, fisherman, singers, dancers, swimmers, and some dude with two massive snakes around his neck, all attracting their own crowds… all the while, the happy and sometimes freaked out screams from the thrill seekers on the rides at Pacific Park, filled the air. A pretty cool end to my second Saturday night this week!

my smile inducers… august

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I finally heard from my son yesterday after quite a few weeks of no contact… I’m such a worrier when things go quiet. He’s volunteering at an animal refuge in Bolivia and tells me ‘things are fantastic’. He’s been travelling since January and it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing him. But I’ll be meeting him at Machu Picchu soon (OMG I still can’t believe it!), and he’s so so happy and that makes my heart smile!

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My gorgeous daughter and her lovely fiancée have decided to get married in Iceland… by themselves! And although this makes me a bit sad that I won’t see her getting married, there are two things about this that make me smile. One is that there’ll be a big party to celebrate when they get back and they will be wearing their wedding outfits so I’ll still get to her as a beautiful bride. And two is that I’m so damn proud of her doing it her way. As you can see from this cute photo, she loves adventure and travel. The fact that her wedding will include both of these things is testament to her living her dream and following her big beautiful heart. Heart smiles all ’round.

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We are blessed with a lot of lovely Leo women in our family, so August means lots of yummy birthday cake and a family birthday gathering. My amazing sis made all of those cakes! And I can vouch for 3 of them, they were delicious! I couldn’t eat the cup cakes for my sweet nieces sweet 16th birthday as they weren’t gluten free, otherwise I would have had four pieces of birthday cake! Flourless Chocolate Brownie cake, Pavlova cake and Persian Love Cake smiles.

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Hubby has been getting lots of orders in for his Stockman Leathercraft hand plaited belts lately. He’s been plaiting non stop every night when he gets home from work. I love that people want to buy his beautifully crafted belts and it makes me smile when he has that ‘I just sold another belt’ smile on his face. There’s something special about that feeling when people appreciate your craft, it makes your heart smile.

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I’m finally ready to list my Popping Candy Blanket in the shop. I think if I wait to take the photos that I’ll be happy with, I’ll never get my stuff listed. So this baby is in the shop, ready or not! I have to laugh at myself being so pedantic about my photos. I need to accept that I can’t take the best photos of my finished products for the shop, but I do the best I can and should just get over myself wanting them to be perfect. So I’ve been doing a bit of smiling at myself lately, and given myself a good talking to about unrealistic expectations. Tell me, do you do that? You know, shake your head at yourself and have a bit of a giggle?

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Making this custom blanket order, it makes me smile every time I pick it up. I haven’t worked with pure alpaca for a while, I’ve been using a lot of alpaca blends, or wool or cotton. But pure alpaca is such a delight to crochet with. And what makes my smile beam from ear to ear, is knowing I’m heading to alpaca-yarn-city soon! Our trip to Peru is not far off and my hubby is under strict instructions to pack light so he can take an empty suitcase which I will joyfully fill with alpaca yarn! He’s got a new nickname for the trip, Alpacapacker.

So many reasons to smile, I do feel very lucky that these smile inducing things are going on in my life right now… And what about you? Is there something that’s been making you smile lately? Are they heart smiles or regular smiles or both? Add your link on the froggy below so I can pop over and see what’s making you smile or hashtag #mysmileinducers on Instagram.

Wishing you smiley days and happy hearts…

flashbacks & granny squares

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I’m on a bit of an old photo thing aren’t I? This one is different though as I’m playing along Kidspot‘s #voicesof2014 #flashbackfriday. Every week a new theme is chosen by bloggers and this weeks them is “matching”, chosen by moi! So this is my sister and I in our most matchymatchy outfit I could find. From the dress, to the bonnet type thing on our heads, to the baskets, to the shoes, to the hair style. I still remember these dresses and the baskets and even the thick rubber soled shoes (the soles were pink & white striped). Obviously, this was the seventies and we would have been looking pretty damn fashionable for the wedding we were going to.

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On the craft front, I’ve been crocheting granny squares like there’s no tomorrow. Originally I was going to join up with the lovely Kate from Foxs Lane and her Grannyhottie, which sounds way weirder than what it is. It’s actually a super cool crocheted granny square cover for your hot water bottle. But once I started crocheting these granny squares, I just couldn’t stop.

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So the Pixelated Series began. This will be the Pixelated Ocean Blanket and there’s another that I’ve started too. It’s lovely pinks and purples and oranges and is inspired by the colours of a pretty old fashioned flower. So I will be darning lots of ends next, luckily I’m actually starting to enjoy this part of the blanket making.

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This gorgeous colour combination is the next blanket I’ll be making. A lovely custom order blankie with the most luscious quality merino wool and alpaca yarn. Such a soft fluffy squishable mix, I just can’t wait to get started on it.

Well that’s me for now, I’ve been sick as a dog with nastyarse flu for the last couple of weeks so I’m just getting back into the swing of everything and slowly catching up. There’s really nothing like being on the couch for a week to make you appreciate even half decent health is there?

How about you, are you well? Have you managed to dodge the lurgies over the winter? Or are you enjoying the tail end of summer somewhere sunshiney in the world?

Wishing you sunshine, good health, and flashbacks that make you smile.

grandparents and granny stitch

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My Gran… isn’t she beautiful? The picture on the left was taken at a spelling bee… she was such a smart cookie. On the right she is going to the Footy… to see her beloved Bombers. Yep, that’s how smart they dressed to go the Footy in those days. Just look at that gorgeous hat with the feather… so stylish.

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My Grandma… isn’t she beautiful? She’s such a cutie in the one on the left… arm around my Grandpop and the wee girl in the bonnet is my mum. On the right she is with her dad… looking like the sweet country girl she was.

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What a stunning wedding party… I’d like one of those sailor shirts now! Unfortunately my Grandma & Grandpop don’t have any wedding photos as legend has it the photographer they booked got drunk and didn’t turn up!

I’ve seen a lot of beautiful old photos lately and I feel very lucky that we have so many. All the photos are showing the wears of time, so dad has digitally removed some scratches and blemishes on a few special ones… a labour of love for their funeral services. Grandpa left us last year and Gran just a few weeks back. Grandma passed a few years ago now and Grandpop followed six months later. They were all able to see their grandchildren grow into adults and even enjoy their great grand children… how great is that?!

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I have such wonderful memories to treasure… I’m lucky our family was close and we had lots of birthday parties, Christmas days, afternoon teas and so very many other special times together. Making rock cakes with Grandma and Grandpop throwing real rocks in the mix. Grandma’s homemade baked rice pudding with peaches. Grandma teaching me the piano when I little, then my kids the piano when they were little. Gran taking my sister and cousins and I to the theatre to see Peter Pan. Gran’s nectarine tree in the old house. The smell of Grandma’s homemade soap. The smell of Gran’s handcream. Gran & Grandpas sheep called Sean. Playing pool very carefully on Grandpa’s new pool table. My cousins and my sister and I wearing matching dresses on Christmas day that Gran had made. The taste of Grandma’s freshly dug new potatoes at dinner. Grandma’s homemade biscuits with passionfruit icing. Gran’s lemon slice and birthday sponges. ‘Working’ in Grandma & Grandpops shop. Watching my daughter jump up and join Grandma in her linedance class. Receiving texts from my 90 year Gran! I could go on forever but I don’t want to bore you… maybe I already have… Suffice to say that grandparents are precious and the memories we’re left with live in a very special corner of our hearts.

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This Wreath-of-Love was made for my Gran with blooms from my Dove Cottage garden. Pretty bright pink Camellias, pale pink Camellia buds, one special Abraham Darby Rose, Lavender, Rosemary, Jasmine buds, Mile-a-Minute, Happy Wanderer, Daphne and Salvia.

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And now to something a little brighter… My Popping Candy Blanket is finished and will pop into my shop soon. I absolutely loved crocheting this blanket and am pretty sure the Granny Stitch is my favourite stitch ever. It’s just so comforting and rhythmic and humble. And versatile, not only in what kind of pattern you use it in, but how you use colours with it. I really like the effect of the white main colour, and a single row of different colours in between. But now I’m ready to start a new project… oh how I love this part… forming the idea and picking the yarn and the colours.

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A happy little stash of blankets… that makes me smile. And if you were expecting the ‘my smile inducers’ post, I’m sorry. I’m lame and fickle and undisciplined. I know I said I was going to do that each month… but you know, I really didn’t feel like writing a list of smiley things today. Not that I’m not smiling… I am. I have a lot to smile about… really, so much! So the smile inducing post will pop in from time to time, just not to a set calendar.

Do you have any special Grandparent memories you’d like to share? I promise you, they won’t bore me.

And if you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents around, give them a hug.

And if you no longer have your grandparents around, I’m giving you a virtual hug right now.

Wishing you blooms in your garden, and time to make sweet memories with your special ones.

foraging for mushrooms and yarn

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Yesterday I had a road trip of the best kind… with blue skies and rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cows and trees. My hubby Charlie went foraging for mushrooms… I went foraging for yarn.

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Charlie got to meet the very cool Ro Anderson from Whole Larder Love at his mushroom workshop… in a forest bursting with pretty light and mushrooms.

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A bunch of lovely folk went foraging in this beautiful forest, then Ro cooked them up an amazing feast on a campfire and a brilliant little bush kitchen set up in the back of his ute.

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Not only did they all learn heaps about what mushrooms to pick, where to look, and what not to pick, they got to eat the most amazing food at the end of it all.

You can read a bit more about the mushroom forage and see some more photos I took on hubby’s blog, Stockman Leathercraft if you like.

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Meanwhile as Charlie searched the forest floor for mushrooms, I road-tripped my way to Bendigo Woollen Mills and found myself some gorgeous new blues and greens in wool and alpaca… I’m so predictable aren’t I? I just can’t help but be drawn to these colours over and over… I find them a colourful and peaceful mix all rolled in together, and that’s a combo I can’t resist.

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Speaking of colourful… My Popping Candy Blanket is nearing the finishing line… except I’ve got about a billion ends to darn before I can crochet the edge. So I’ll try to resist the urge to start a new blue/green project… I’ll be busy darning ends for quite some time I think…

How about you… darning any ends? Busting to start a new project? Been to any beautiful forests lately?

Wishing you ripper days filled with good clean country air.