Sunday, December 30, 2012

Knitten: Wristies

I sent my mama some pink Murray River salt for Christmas. She likes salt. She salts pizza, apples, even potato chips. It seems there's a bit of a conspiracy at Lay's wherein they've only been salting one side of their chips. My mom licks each side to determine which is the salted side, then salts the other side.

Anyway, that has very little to do with this post. I grabbed a box to ship the salt in, but there were a few inches of extra space and I didn't want the salt to be knocking around in the mail. What to stuff it with? I had some extra chunky yarn left over in my stash, so decided to make some really quick (really, really quick) wristies for her. I imagine her wearing them at pool tournaments, cuz she's a stylin' lady.

Here I am attempting to model them. Not much luck with the camera.

And here's Mama with her gifts. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book belt hack

After I'd purchased most of my Christmas gifts, I finally gave in and bought myself the diary I wanted (with employee discount, wot wot!) We also sell book belts that hold your notebook or diary closed while it's in your handbag, and they have a little loop for a pen. After using the diary for a week or so, I decided it needed a belt.

Sadly, the belts we sell aren't intended for my size of diary (A6). The belt fit around my diary vertically but was slightly tight, pinching in the plastic cover, and it meant that any pen in the loop pointed horizontally across the diary.

I decided I could improve on that, so I undid the stitches and pulled belt apart, keeping the pen loop intact. I shortened it a bit so it would fit horizontally on my diary, then restitched it. But all I had for thread was what Hugh's mom left in the sewing machine she gave me, which didn't include gray, but did include a lovely bright blue. Once I'd stitched around the leather rectangle, I couldn't stop. I personalised it!

Everything in this picture makes me happy.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Received mail: sketches from John

I love getting letters from John! He writes about everyday things, and he often includes sketches of his surroundings. Love it!

I also got another sweet card from Jody. Keep it coming, guys!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Merry Christmas! (Meant to post this before Christmas, but our Internets were broke-sauce. They're much better now, though!)

I asked my wonderful boyfriend for moccasins for Christmas, which I thought were a bit pricey. He got me moccasins and an iPhone 5. An iPhone 5. I am the luckiest (read: most spoiled) girl in the world.

So Merry Christmas everyone! May you have lovely celebrations with family and receive awesome gifts! (And I hope the gifts I sent arrive soon!)

Here is a photo of our hideous tree before decoration. Look at all those baby branches! It's like a new tree is trying to grow out of the older one. According to Hugh, this is what Christmas trees always look like. Oh Australia...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hard Rubbish

When I first arrived in Adelaide and we moved into our new home, Em and Hugh kept reminiscing about when they lived in the richer part of town, and "hard rubbish" day would come around. Apparently, "hard rubbish" is big stuff, like furniture or paint cans or sports equipment that you don't want anymore, but can't throw in your normal bin. When I was a kid, Pops would borrow a truck and take items like these to The Dump, which was always a thrilling adventure for us. But around here, they save them up until hard rubbish day comes along, then they put everything out on the curb. In rich neighborhoods, apparently, you can find some really nice stuff.

Hard Rubbish season arrived in our neighborhood in November. It started slowly at first, with a few items in front of a few houses, but within a week, our sidewalks were littered with huge piles of junk. It was awesome!! It is considered totally socially acceptable to rummage through someone's hard rubbish. There was one pile down the street I was hoping to scavenge from, but a woman with an SUV (called a "ute" around here) pulled up seconds before I got there and started chucking all the good stuff in the back of her car.

Still, I found some killer stuff. For my first find, I was a little nervous at nicking people's garbage, so I made Hugh come with me under cover of night. It was a little, white nighstand made of solid wood with nicely turned-out legs. Hugh was skeptical that there could be anything decent, but he agreed that this piece was actually quite good.

A couple days before garbage collection, when the piles had reached lofty heights, I discovered a kids' cardboard suitcase. The pattern on it reminds me of Amy's baby blanket, Gigi (or was it Geegee?)

Outside the Croyden Bowling Club, I found an awesome lawn bowls bag (the mustard yellow suitcase-looking thing). Inside, there was a film canister full of chalk and these rulebooks. I loved that Ms. Kath Wood highlighted the bits about bowling etiquette.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reading: The Happiness Project

I recently grabbed the book, "The Happiness Project," by Gretchen Rubin, from the library. We sold it at Anthropologie, and a co-worker recommended it, and now we sell it at my current job, too. In fact, the owner of my current company loved the book so much, she commissioned a special collector's cover for the book and created a companion journal so people can organise their own happiness projects.

I'm only a couple chapters in, but it already has me thinking about changes I can make in my life. I don't think I'll go whole-hog on a year-long project, but I have outlined roughly 12 areas of my life that could stand some improvement, and identified some goals within each area. They're those thoughts you have now and again, "I should start doing [x]" or "I need to do [y] more often," and when I sit down to write them down, there are loads of them! My goals are not new, it's just the first time I've identified them on paper and tried to work on several of them at a time.

One of the goals on my list, which I already do pretty well, is to read a book at least once a day. Living in a foreign country (i.e. not having many friends) and working only part time gives one quite a bit of spare time, and I've been getting through a few books lately. I don't need to read for any specified amount of time, I just need to read. So it's great that Pip from Meet Me at Mike's has suggested a bit of a read-along for a book called, "I Capture the Castle." I just requested it from the library and will read it after I finish the Happiness Project, though that might take me a while because I am actually taking notes and stopping to think about a lot of it. Thinking about improving your outlook on life is fun! So is reading! Yays!

Monday, December 17, 2012


As of 30 minutes ago, all presents are in the post! Yay! There is no way any of them will arrive in time for Christmas (boo), and the postage cost as much as the gifts themselves, and I also haven't completed writing Christmas cards, but at least one thing is done!

I really enjoyed picking out gifts for each recipient, and I felt good about getting it all done fairly early, and I was happy that I had enough money for it all! I want to keep buying and making suitable gifts tailored to each recipient as long as I have the cash, but I have to acknowledge that I probably shouldn't be spending as much or more on regular postage than I spent on the gift itself. Sigh. Oh Australia, you are so expensive, but worth it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Slanguage: chockers

Today on the bus, a driver came over the radio asking:

"Does anyone know why Marion Road is chockers today?"

Chockers is the cute-ification of chock-a-block, which we all know from Colin's backpack in "Love, Actually" means "packed full." In other words, Marion Road was "packed full" of cars (or perhaps condoms, hard to say).

Chockers is supposedly used in the UK as well as Australia, and according to The Almighty Internets was naval slang from the WWII era.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Finished object: Red Gum Beret

I knit this beret a couple months ago with the "flowering red gum" wool I got from the Royal Adelaide Show. I'd wanted it to be quite slouchy and long, and the pattern (from the purl bee) I followed seemed to fit the bill. But when it was done, it really was just a beret. I was disappointed and shoved it in a drawer for two months.

Now that I go back to it, I just see it for what it is, not what I wanted it to be, and I like it much better. I'm still not sure if I'll wear it (I'd have to wait six months for it to be cold enough, anyway). So if anyone wants it, call dibs. As you can see, it looks fantastic on men as well as women!

(By the way, in my head, I'm pronouncing it the British way, "bare-ay." A sign I've been out of America too long.)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Finished object: Snowy Christmas Stocking

I finished my Christmas stocking. Generally, I'm pretty pleased with it. The heel and the toe are a bit odd, and floppy because the contrasting wool is a totally different weight and thickness to the main wool. Maybe someday, if I find a better wool, I'll replace them, but I think this stocking will serve me just fine for the upcoming holiday season!

Like snow covering a city...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Received Mail: Save the Date

Yays! I'm ridiculously excited for this wedding. I adore my sister, I adore her chosen spouse, I get to take my boyfriend home to meet the family, and I get to wear a hat! The color scheme is white, black, gray, and purple, like the Royal Ascot scene in My Fair Lady, and I can't wait to start shopping for a dress. This wedding's gonna be OFF THE HOOK!

Amy, Diana, Becky, and John made the cards themselves using an assembly line. LOLs.

The puppy card is from Jody. I've received three lovely letters from her in the past couple weeks. I love mail! And this puppy is so cute. He actually reminds me of Jody when she was little. I think there's a picture of her somewhere where she's looking up at the photographer with that exact, quizzicle look.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

omg surfing!!!

Scoping out the surf

Moana beach (waves no good)

The boardwalk to South Port

Carrying all dis stuff

The river, just before it meets the sea


Time to get ready!

Awkward posing

Let's go!
Guess what?! Bodyboarding is so much fun! The waves were itty bitty, but I caught a couple good ones thanks to my wonderful teacher. Mostly, I just enjoyed being in the water on a gorgeous morning. It was totally like a Qantas ad. I could definitely get used to this. Dear Family, I may never come home again.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The other day, I used the phrase "damn skippy," as in "damn straight," and Hugh thought I was making up Australian slang. Apparently, "skippy" is a word that is very, very occasionally used to refer to a kangaroo, and he thought I was swearing at a kangaroo. LOL! Separated by a common language.

While we're on the topic of language, I offered some mushrooms and peppers to Em's boyfriend today, and he responded, "Thanks! But if you say 'peppers' instead of 'capsicums' in public, they might revoke your visa." Capsicums. Silly Aussies.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving already??

Um, it's Thanksgiving tomorrow?! Crap! I thought I had another week! I was sure Thanksgiving was the last Thursday in November, but Wikipedia informs me that it is, in fact, the fourth Thursday in November. Silly me for making that mistake!

But who am I kidding? It's not like I would have organised anything by next Thursday, anyway, though Hugh has expressed an interest in celebrating. We celebrated last year, in Edinburgh, with a big feast at my friend, Devon's, house. I made him wear a kilt :-) He made a yummy experimental pumpkin pie and he is hoping to improve the recipe this year. I guess I'll have to warn him that he has about 24 hours to do so...or we could just pretend Thanksgiving is next Thursday!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Work in Progress: Chunky Socks

This is my favorite wool in the whole entire world. I'm pretty sure this color has long since been discontinued, but I would swim in pools of this wool if I could. It is the softest yarn I've ever touched. And it's my absolute favorite color.  I would knit every single project out of it if possible.

Sadly, I have not actually had any luck turning it into something. I first made it into a scarf, with an improvised (i.e. very simple and boring) lace pattern. I finished knitting it but didn't block it or weave in the ends for a year and a half. I moved it from one continent, to another, to yet another. And then I realised that I had never finished it because I didn't really like it.

So I undid the whole thing, and tried making socks. Several false starts only to abandon and undo them.

I tried making fingerless gloves. Three false starts, then I finally started getting somewhere with them. But the guage was much too tight, and so were the gloves. Undo.

Then I saw a pattern for long, chunky, cabled stockings in a book. They were beautiful. This yarn was born to make them.

Except I ran out of wool on the toe of the second sock. That was two months ago, and I'm still debating what to do. I'm leaning towards shortening both by a couple cable repeats and hoping for the best. Since it took me three days to figure out how to do the heel properly, and I'm not sure I remember how I did it in the end, I'm a bit wary of undoing it all. But this yarn deserves to be made into something beautiful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finished object: Summer breeze top

My Cap Sleeve Lattice Top is finished. It is rather wide and rather short.

Still, I think it works! I kind of want to make another one, and luckily, Jody asked me to make her one! I'll make it thinner (103 sts was way too many for a small) and extend it lower so your belly doesn't poke out. Then maybe I'll make a dress one for autumn...

Hugh and I got a bit silly during the photo shoot.

Friday, November 16, 2012


My man bought me a wetsuit today!!! I've wanted to be a little beach bum/surfer girl since I was a kid. I always resented that my parents left southern California before we were born and raised us in rainy grey Seattle. Why couldn't I have grown up in the sun like my cousins? Oh, because L.A. is gross, fair enough.

But now I live in Ausland, and I'm dating a (sometimes) surfer boy, and I have my very own wetsuit! So exciting! I'm kind of terrified of actually going out in the water, but I'm sure I'll be a total natural! Nerdy, uncoordinated scientists usually are, right? I really must start going to the local swimming pool and practicing my strokes...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Work in progress: Christmas stocking

I've wanted to make myself a Christmas stocking for years. Last year, I bought Hugh a knitted stocking from Anthropologie, and I decided I'd use some of my current wools to make myself an imitation.

Hugh's stocking from Anthro

I started with a variety of wools and stitches, but then I decided I was really in love with this one thick and thin wool. The colors make my heart sing.

Inspired by the look of this stocking from Knit Collage, I set out to knit a plain stockinette stitch with my lovely wool. It's so beautiful! The white bits soften the colored bits like snow covering a city. Seriously, it's gorgeous.

Buuuuuuut, I made the leg too long and ran out of wool for the toe. In hindsight, I should have just ripped it back, shortened the leg, and finished it. But no. I decided to see if I could knit the toe and heel in another wool, like lots of Christmas stockings are done. Unwisely, I knit the heel in a floppier, thinner wool that looks a bit sad. I cut several rows worth of the wool and knotted it in place, so I'm pretty much committed to the heel, but now I don't like it! Sigh. Someday I'll learn...Photos soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Some thoughts

Ugh, haven't posted in a while...again. It seems the more I have to say, the less I want to say it. I could claim that I'm keeping really busy, and that is the truth lately, but I still spend loads of time staring at my computer screen and could totally write more blog posts.

Some thoughts:
  • Em's boyfriend has moved into our flat, so we're now a nice cozy group of four. He's really nice and funny and very energetic. He's the type of person who wakes up at 6:30 on his days off (i.e. crazy person).
  • Those socks I wanted from Cath Kidston: Carina sent them to me all the way from England cuz she's the bestest! She bought and sent them the weekend before moving to Malawi. If I was moving to Africa indefinitely, buying socks for a silly friend would be low on my priority list, but like I said, she's the bestest!
  • I cleaned and examined my new sewing machine, and cleared off my desk and have it on display there, but still haven't worked up the nerve to figure out how the darn thing works. Baby steps.
  • I have new friends! They're from my Social Crafters group. Awesome!
  • My new friend, Kimberly, who's American, gave me an old bike. Yay, new bike!
  • Hugh found a cuter, vintagey bike on ebay and bought it for me. Yay, second new bike!
  • Pinterest does not like my blog layout. I quite like the layout, but it does make posts without photos look really boring, and so I end up not posting about things I don't have a photo for (egs. exciting events that I participated in but didn't photograph). And yeah, Pinterest won't let me pin my posts/photos because it can't recognise them. Now, I don't really think many of my posts are Pinterest-worthy, but I'd like to have the option to pin (particularly for pretty mail). So yeah. I think I'm going to have to go back to a more standard (read: boring) layout. I'm delaying this because it'll require me putting a bit of effort into a background photo, or an eye-catching header, or something. As I know nothing about graphic design, or html, or art, or even drawing, this might not turn out well.

That is all for now. Hugh wanted me to say, "Hughie says 'hi.'"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


And I realised just after writing the last post that I didn't put addresses on the postcards that I sent. I put stamps on them! My last two stamps, actually. And I wrote the recipients' names. But no addresses. Smart, Kusems.

Outgoing mail: Three birthdays and a ballot

I made a birthday card for my Pops using images of trains and trams and travel-y things. There were also birthday postcards for Jody and Aparna, and my official King County absentee ballot. Woot woot!

I love that monster postcard.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I voted!

Here in Australia, voting is mandatory. Isn't that amazing? Could you imagine what it would do for American politics if it was mandatory to vote in every election? What is the point of government for and by the people if the people don't participate in it?

Having said that, I hate politics. Normally, I find voting pretty dull, but I do it because it's important. But voting this year is exciting, at least in Washington State. There's yet another opportunity to vote down a Tim Eyman initiative, a measure for the legalisation of marijuana, a chance to support or oppose equal marriage rights for all citizens, and another opportunity to fill in a box for a presidential candidate that I really believe in (voting for John Kerry in 2004 was so painful.)

I was really proud to fill in the "Approved" oval for Referendum 74. Not just because I'm super excited about my little sister's wedding next year, which is gonna be off the hook, wha- wha-!! But because I was raised to believe that love and commitment are good things. I'm also the child of not one but two divorces, so I don't sit around and listen to anyone who tries to tell me about the sanctity of man to woman marriage blah blah blah. C'mon people, I've seen the reality.

Side note: I probably spent the most mental effort debating the marijuana thing. As someone who has never smoked or ingested pot, and who sees no reason to ever do it except in the case of future illness, I don't have a particular interest in it being legalised. The more I read about it, the more the language of the initiative sounded dubious. Some proponents of decriminalising marijuana oppose the initiative because of the specific system that it sets up. It sounded to me that, if I wanted marijuana to be legal, this would not be the system under which I would want it to be legal. It just doesn't sound anything like the utopia that marijuana proponents are hoping for.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Incoming mail: from Thailand!

A new pencil bag from Etsy arrived this week. Sadly, it's a bit too short to fit my colored pencils, but everything else fits well. It's made from strong recycled material that appears to have come from a scientific product of some sort. Awesome!

Bag by Chok Dee, photo by me

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bakker Burke collectibles

There's a store down the road from here that sells random junk and furniture, and I like to stop in there periodically to treasure hunt. I recently learned that it's called Bakker Burke Collectibles (I don't recall ever seeing a sign on the front). I headed over there to pick up a date stamp I had clocked on a previous visit. The stamp only covers the years 2000 up to 2011, but at 50 cents, the price was right. I also grabbed another stamp that said "Munro Bros." for another 50 cents. Cool!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Day Out and About

Hugh told me about a cafe in our neighborhood located in a disused train station. Then I read about it on the thousands, so I decided it was time to check it out. It's called the Loose Caboose and the menu is timetable-themed. And though the building itself is no longer used as a train stop, the railway is still in use for commuter trains, which stop outside the cafe every 15 min. I sat at a long wooden table and had a latte and the soup du jour, which had lots of ingredients, the only one of which I remember was bacon. It was tiz-asty. It's a really cool cafe, and the food was good,'s a new place and they don't seem to have quite worked out the details yet. Hugh's sister went there another day and had a similar experience to me. It was just kind of unclear whether you're supposed to seat yourself, when and where to order, that sort of thing. I'm sure they'll fine-tune everything soon. Also, the food is on the pricey side for a cafe, but it's really tasty and well done, so it's justified. Basically, it's the sort of cafe to go to if you want to relax a bit, are looking for a fancier lunch, and have some cash to burn. In other words, if you're not me. I'm happy to let my man take me there for brunch, though!

After lunch, I headed up to Hindmarsh Disposals to check for free vinyl records (they often have a box with free records and books in front of the shop). I was looking for cool record covers for a project I was planning (and have since abandoned). I grabbed a few, then headed for the tram.

I love the cover of this "Songs of Norway" album! The colors are great. Too bad they put red marks across the ones they're giving away.

The tram is free from the Entertainment Centre through the city to South Terrace, so it is my preferred mode of public transport ;-) I had received an email from kikki.k offering $10 off any purchase (no minimum spend!) and I had a wish list to work from. In the end, I bought a book of assorted stickers and some brightly colored ink pads. I've already used the ink pads loads for my scrapbook, and I just love these sailor-y stickers!