Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Slow School Scarves

Having re-read yesterday's post, I feel I should say, in the interests of truth in reporting, that I don't actually walk around the house knitting. Not in a lost, wandering, 'Downton Abbey' kind of way. But if I'm enjoying knitting something reasonably manageable, often with an unreasonable deadline, and those pesky children of mine are requiring my attention AS THEY SO OFTEN DO (she says gazing dryly over the rim of her martini glass), then I find it a good way to keep knitting and attending to their 'stuff' rather than having to constantly put down and pick up my needles. You know.

If I was knitting as consistently as I perhaps led you to believe, then what excuse have I for the almost year it has taken me to knit this scarf and hat? Hmm? They were a request from a dear friend for her two school girls - scarves and hats in navy blue to wear while waiting for the school bus on chilly mornings. The girls survived one freezing winter without them, and now, on the brink of another, finally they are done. And it is a testament to my love for these girls and their mum that they have them at all because, really, I don't enjoy knitting scarves. Oh, how they go on and on forever in such a repetitive fashion.

A big thanks to my cooperative model...
Still, I am glad to have been able to knit these girls something useful, and even more glad that I am finished. The hat is Amanda Soule's 'My Hat of Choice', and I worked up the scarf with a similar simple lace pattern. The yarn is Cascade 220 in Midnight Blue. Ravelry notes here.

Still thoroughly, and at a snail's pace, enjoying Stephanie Alexander's memoirs.

And joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Little Cardigans and Lunatics

I was asked a question today that I'm asked often: How do you find the time to knit?

We were at playgroup and her two-year-old was running riot with my pair, who were, naturally, decked out in an array of handknits. (I'm often reminded on these occasions of this card that I received once from a very rude relative - hello, Unc.) Anyway, I proceeded to launch into my explanation about how I find it easy to knit while doing other things, most especially watching TV, but also in waiting rooms, sitting in the passenger seat, at the park, when reading and even sometimes while working at my day job. It was at about the point where I was describing my method of tucking the ball of yarn in between my boobs so I can knit whilst walking around the house that I noticed her eyes had glazed over and she had the look of someone trapped in a conversation with a lunatic and wasn't sure how to extricate herself.

And it occurred to me...some people just don't get the knitting thing.

Rather than worry about that, I thought I'd show you the end result of my attempt to knit a little cardigan in a week. I managed to finish the knitting in time for Hannah's visit, but there were still the ends to weave in and the blocking, so she left without it. Never mind - that's what Australia Post is for.

Ravelry notes here. The pattern is called Helena and it's knit in some Jo Sharp DK wool, colour Orient. Lovely, yes?

And just to settle any rumours about the extent of this knitting obsession, here's the latest addition to the stash. Cascade yarn, mostly chunky 128, with some 220 thrown in for good measure. I have big plans for this haul. Big.

So tell me, lunatic? Or not lunatic?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And the Winner is...

Earlier this evening, just before settling in to watch the Eurovision final on SBS, I asked the GM to do the honours and draw winners in our grand prize giveaway. He put on his best tracksuit pants and did interesting dances between each draw to add gravitas and a touch of dignity to the occasion.

So, without further ado, the winners are as follows:

1) First out of the 'hat' (which was actually a bowl) was Jode. She requested the Biggest Morning Tea merchandise pack for her budding teen chef. It's heading your way, Jode.

2) Second out was Gillian, who lives all the way over in England!!! Gillian took a shine to the mitts and mug cosy, so, Gillian, in about a week or so when they're finished, they'll be winging their way to you.

3) Third out was none other than Shirley, who had her eye on the Craft Queen gift voucher. As much as I'd like to wrestle it from you, Shirley, I'll do the right thing and step aside.

4) Next out was my friend Beth, who is a very clever lady wanting to put the glorious teapot tapestry under glass on her tea tray. Can't wait to see the finished product, Beth. 

5) And last but not least (the GM did an extra special dance for the finale) was Claudia. Claudia wanted the mitts, but as they were already won, I'm sure she'll be happy to settle for her second choice, the Loani Prior tea cosy book. 

So, ladies, email me your addresses and I'll get everything sent off in the next few days (or weeks if you're Gillian!)

Congratulations and, again, a huge thankyou to everyone who donated their hard-earned to such a very good cause, as well as supporting my little endeavour here last week. It was such fun, wasn't it?

Now, will someone tell the kid up there that the tea party is over?

Friday, May 25, 2012

this moment

 {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.

Via Soulemama.

A Very Bloggy Thankyou

The kettle's boiled dry, the tea leaves are all steeped out, one glance inside the baking cupboard reveals we're clean out of flour, sugar and chocolate. An enormous thankyou to everyone for your support. I don't have much solid evidence to base it on but I think we succeeded in having the world's biggest bloggy morning tea ever! Yay for us. The tally stands at $850 from a total of 29 donors. Aw, thanks, guys. What an effort.

A round of applause for the tea sets who took part:

Big thanks to my official real-life tasters. Lettuce for dinner every night next week, my loves.

If you missed them, you can find all the recipes here:

And finally, for those who donated, be sure to let me know if you're interested in the giveaway, and if so, what. I'll draw winners over the weekend and announce them next week.

And finally-finally, of course there's still time to make a final pledge. Click on that button (aw, that button!) on the right. I don't think the Cancer Council will say no to your dollars even if I've put all the teapots back in the cabinet.

Well, after all those warm beverages, something tells me there might be a glass of the cold and bubbly stuff at the end of this day. A Very Bloggy Champagne and Canapes, anyone?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wholesome and Oaty

These tasty little bickies are full of goodness, yet yummy enough to seem like a treat. Just like choc-chip cookies, without the choc. Perfect for the little fairies in the house. 

You need:

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
80g soft butter
50g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g oats
1/2 cup sultanas

You could use your mixer for this, or just go with muscle power. Whisk egg, sugar and vanilla until thick and pale-ish. Beat in the butter. Add flours and baking powder. 

Stir through the oats and sultanas.

Form into teaspoon-sized balls and place onto lined baking trays.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes until lovely and golden and crispy-chewy.
Serve to your children after naptime and tell them it's a treat for good behaviour...

..or excessive cuteness.

Recipe adapted from 'Apples For Jam' by Tessa Kiros.

Tea Party

Have you noticed that it's been a bit of a child-free zone here this week? Nice, huh? As much as I've been enjoying all the grown-up chit-chat we've been indulging in, I thought I'd better let the girls out of the cupboard under the stairs so they can join in the fun for a few hours. We're setting up for an old-fashioned teddy bears' picnic complete with rainbow tea, magic fairy cakes and some wholesome oaty sultana cookies. Hope you can make it. Bring your kids if you have any spare. If you don't, you're still welcome, but can I recommend ear plugs? 

Fairy wings and princess crowns optional.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coffee Cosy

We may be in the midst of A Very Bloggy Morning Tea (the world's biggest, I'm led to believe), but it is still Wednesday, which means it's Yarn Along. Conveniently, I have the much-hyped mug cosy finished and ready to show you. It's one of the giveaway prizes, ready to be tucked up with a pair of mitts and shipped off to a lucky winner. If anyone else wants to join in the fun, you're most welcome. We've been raising money for the Australian Cancer Council and are well on the way to doubling the original target, all while drinking lots of tea and coffee, not to mention eating cake (and cake and cake).

It would have been nice if I'd photographed a theme-appropriate book to go along with the mug cosy. Something like 'Teapots Through the Ages' or 'Leaves and Bags: A History'. However, I'm still enjoying Stephanie's memoirs, and with all the baking this week, very slowly at that.

I'd like to stay and chat but that biodegradable cup up there contains a soy latte. I'm off to enjoy it before it goes cold.

Head over here to read about the giveaway.

And head over here to see what everyone else is knitting and reading this week.

Mocha Brownie Stop Me Now

Many people declare theirs to be the very best brownie recipe. I make no such claim. I mean, how could I prove it? So while it may not be the best, this one is entirely appropriate for a coffee kind of day.

You need:

200g dark chocolate (the better, the better, if you know what I mean)
200g unsalted butter
1/2 cup strong black coffee
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20x30cm baking tray. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over low heat. Stir through the coffee.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, cocoa, flour and baking powder until it's a sludgy mess.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour into your baking tray. Ignore lumpy evidence of your failure to sift cocoa. Bake for 50 minutes.

Try to wait till it's cooled down enough so you don't burn your tongue. Cut into small squares - it will feel like you're showing restraint even if you eat 20 pieces. If you can't get through it all in one day, it's especially nice, and entirely different, after a night in the fridge. Declare it the best brownie you've ever eaten, even if you can't prove it!


You coffee drinkers have been waiting very patiently, what with all the tea we've been sharing this week. Today we're all about the real stuff. It's feeling a bit 1981 here this morning, isn't it? These were my mum's best coffee cups. I remember them coming out at the end of many a dinner party (when no doubt I was supposed to be sleeping) after the salmon mousse and chicken cordon bleu had been cleared away. If I'd been true to that theme, we'd be indulging in a chocolate log with our coffee - chocolate supermarket biscuits soaked in orange juice then sandwiched together with jam and whipped cream, the entire concoction smothered with a final coating of cream and doused with chocolate shavings.

Instead, we'll enjoy a small square of rich mocha brownie, circa 2012, on the side of our coffee. I hope you've brought your stitching. It looks like it's going to be cold outside today, so let's stay inside near the fire where we can knit and natter the day away.


There's still plenty of time to donate to the Cancer Council and win some lovely prizes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Orange and Walnut Cake

Now, who was asking for the recipe for that delicious orange and walnut cake we shared earlier? You're going to want to bookmark this one. It comes via Nigella, but I've tweaked it so you can make the whole thing in the food processor. Easy. So yummy. Especially while still warm from the oven.

You need:

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a 24cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the walnuts until finely chopped.

Add the flour and baking powder and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer this dry mixture to a bowl.

Ask the chief egg-cracker to crack the eggs. Put them in the bowl of the food processor and whip them until frothy. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing until pale and thick. Return the walnut and flour mixture and pulse to combine.

Add the juice, zest and oil, and pulse until just combined. Beware small orange thieves.

Pour into your cake tin and bake for 55 minutes or until lightly brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool slightly, then place atop your fanciest cake platter. Dust with icing sugar and sprinkle with some more orange zest. 

Enjoy in the sunshine on a crisp autumn day, whilst sipping herbal tea out of fruity cups and discussing your latest craft project with lovely like-minded souls, all in the name of a terribly good cause.

Jasmine and Oranges

Welcome back! How lovely to see you again. Come in, come in.

I was inspired by the glorious autumn colours today so I've gone a bit fruity and herbal. I'm serving jasmine tea in my favourite retro orange tea cups. Yes, out on the lawn. Off you go. If you find a sunny spot you shouldn't be too cold. There's a delicious orange and walnut cake too. Help yourself!

Thanks to all your donations, we've already hit my fundraising goal of $500. But I say why stop there? Let's keep going and see if we can double it. And if you haven't already, head back here to be included in the giveaway.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Very Bloggy Giveaway

It's nearing the end of day one of my Very Bloggy Morning Tea. Thanks for all your encouraging words and generous donations. We're already well over halfway to my fundraising goal. Hooray!

I thought I'd better share the details of the promised giveaway. Thanks to some very good and kind folk, I've got five great prizes:

1) A copy of Loani Prior's excellent book 'Really Wild Tea Cosies'. I have her first book, 'Wild Tea Cosies', and I love it! Even if you're not a knitter, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book just for the incredible pictures and ideas.

2) Thanks to my great friend Nicole (she's my dealer), I've got a $50 gift voucher at Craft Queen to give away. Nicole specialises in beautiful ribbons, buttons and papercraft supplies. You've seen her buttons on many of my handknits - here, here and here are some examples. I could use this gift voucher several times over, let me tell you. But I won't. I'll give it to one of you instead.

3) An Australia's Biggest Morning Tea merchandise pack which includes a mug, tea towel, apron and oven mitts signed by ambassadors Manu Fieldel and Pete Evans. Cool and useful!

4) A pair of glorious orange mitts knitted by me. Not the ones in this photo, but a pair very much like them which don't yet exist but will very, very soon, I promise! There'll also be a matching mug cosy - photos of that soon!

5) Finally, the lucky door prize, this is a glorious thrifted teapot tapestry that will look gorgeous framed and on the wall of one lucky winner, or even made into a cushion cover, if you're that way inclined. I don't know who made it, but I'm guessing they like a cuppa as much as the rest of us.

Here's what you have to do to be in the running. Just pop over here and make a donation, if you haven't already. Then leave me a comment here to let me know which of these prizes you'd like to win (you can nominate more than one). I'll draw the winners at the end of the Very Bloggy Morning Tea. You can also let me know via email -

You don't have to be a Typically Red follower to win (though you're entirely welcome if you so desire), just a generous giver of money to very good causes. It doesn't matter the size of your donation, either. But if you're a blogger and you'd like a second chance to win, help me spread the word. I'll be endlessly grateful.

Oh, and just so you know, I don't see any of the money. It goes straight to the Cancer Council via their fundraising page. It's all above board, people!

Good luck! And see you tomorrow for more tea and cake.

Vanilla Pear and Raspberry 'Little' Cakes

I promised you the recipe for these delicious little tea cakes. They're a bit of a twist on my favourite muffin recipe.

First you'll need to poach some pears. You only need a couple for the cakes, but do what I do and make a whole lot. You can keep them in the fridge and have them on your muesli for breakfast and with yoghurt for dessert.

Peel, quarter and core your pears. In a saucepan, bring a litre of water and a cup of sugar to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add a lemon, quartered. Scrape the seeds out of a vanilla bean and add the whole lot as well. Then toss in your pears. You can add some more water if you need to. Simmer until the pears are tender. You can tell by piercing one with a knife. It should slip in easily, but not too easily. The cooking time depends entirely on the ripeness of the pears. It may only take a few minutes, it may take much longer. Set the saucepan aside to cool, then transfer the pears and cooking liquid to a container and refrigerate.

Now you can make your cakes.

You need:
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
160 g unsalted butter
1 cup natural yoghurt
2 eggs
1 cup raspberries (frozen is more than adequate)
a few poached pear quarters, cut into a large dice

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and sugar. Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool, then whisk in the yoghurt and the eggs. Pour this mixture into the dry mixture and stir just enough to combine.

Stir through the raspberries.

Spoon batter into a lined half-cup muffin tin. Top each cake with a few pieces of pear.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown and cooked through.

Enjoy with a cup of earl grey, in the company of good people, in aid of a very good cause.

Earl Grey

Well, good morning. Welcome. Come in. No, that's fine, you can keep your shoes on. Or take them off if you feel more comfortable. Make yourself at home. There's a pot of Earl Grey brewing on the sideboard. Help yourself to a cup. Oh, thank you, it is a gorgeous tea set. It belonged to my Granny. I'm just off to grab the vanilla pear and raspberry 'little' cakes out of the oven. Of course you can have the recipe. I'll be sure to write it out for you before you go.

That? Over there on the right? Oh, that's my button. I made it myself! You just click on there and throw your spare change in. All funds raised will go towards the Cancer Council's research, prevention programs and support services.'ll have the chance to win some great prizes here on my blog. I'll give you all that information a bit later. But in the meantime, pull up a chair.

Ooh, I think that's the doorbell again. Just a tick...


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