How to really grow food in your backyard Here I share with you the secrets that have transformed me from a gardener with a not-very-productive vegie patch, to growing most of my family's fruit and veg.
Traditional Foods My health has dramatically improved after changing my diet for a more traditional way of eating, as advised by Sally Fallon.
Food Flower Poster Forget the food pyramid! It was developed by the agricultural industry, not by nutritionists. Instead, print this Food Flower poster, which shows a visual guide to choosing nutritious and satisfying traditional foods.
Finally - I have spun enough yarn, and plied enough together, to try knitting something. Here's my sample, using "rabbit tracks" lace pattern. I've never done any lace knitting before so am very proud of myself for figuring out how to do this. I tried the bottom half of my sample with the recommended needle size - 5.5mm, and then went up to 7.5mm for the top half of the sample. I'm liking the openness of the top half, though I'm biased towards that because bigger needles mean it will knit up faster and I'll use up less wool!
I've already unravelled this sample and started knitting what will become a thermal singlet to wear under my clothes in winter. Wish me luck!
Here's some progress on my spinning. I've spun two balls of angora thread as fine as I possibly could, and now am in the middle of plying them together with the spindle. I'm not sure how fine this will translate when I'm knitting, but hopefully fine enough. This thread is very uneven though - the bit in the photo looks quite good, but wound on that spindle are all sorts of fat lumpy sections.
I've been looking up on the net how to knit lacey stitches, and have decided to start with a test square of rabbit tracks pattern. If it goes well, I'll try making up a pattern based on that for a singlet. I know this is pretty ambitious for a rather inexperienced knitter like myself, but I reckon I've nothing to lose by giving it a go. If it doesn't work I'll unravel and make something else.
Everyone tells me Angora is far too warm to use it by itself. It should be mixed with something less warm, like wool. But I have yet to meet a garment that is too warm for me, and with our efforts to keep the heater off in winter, and the amount of time I spend outside in the garden on freezing cold days, I am DYING to meet the garment that is too warm. Bring on the Angora socks, the Angora singlet under my top!
Today my lil boy turns from six to seven. Last night I told him his birth story - it still grips him, and every year he gets a bit more detail. I can't believe I've been a Mama for seven years - it feels both incredibly quick and like I've been a Mama forever.
My biggest challenge with this year's birthday has been to make it Riot-friendly (ie it fits with my project of reducing my use of everything to 10% of what the average person uses), while still somehow seeming magnificent and extravagent.
My first step was to ditch the wrapping paper. I went to the op shop and bought some cloth (actually bedspreads, table cloths, sheets, pillow-cases) that I felt made an appealing and co-ordinated bunch, colour and pattern-wise. I bought a few soft floaty scarves too, to use as ties. I cut my cloths into various sized pieces, going for a fair bit bigger than each present, to make them as versatile as possible. Some of the scarves I used exactly as they were. One of the "scarves" was actually a very light sarong, and I cut it into strips. I wrapped each present much as I would have if I was using paper, and fastened them with sewing pins instead of sticky tape. I did my very best effort with this, because I knew I had to really sell the idea to Paula and Jesse.
They were both absolutely delighted when I set up the pile of presents. Paula is thrilled to think we will be using these cloths and "ribbons" for all our family birthdays and Christmases from now on. Imagine if we did this with our wider circle of friends and family! If everyone did it, we'd all end up with a gorgeous array of fabrics and ribbons. Maybe we'll start a trend....
As for the contents of the presents, they weren't as Riot-friendly as I would have liked. I don't buy Jesse much new stuff through the year, and for his birthday he really longs for some bought toys. This is his extravagence and I didn't want to deny it to him. Some of the smaller presents were things that are also educational, like a ream of recycled paper, some good pens for drawing with (he runs out the ink of his pens too fast, at the rate he's been drawing lately) etc. One of them was a hot water bottle cover, which I made for him. I'll post that in my next entry. I always try to include something handmade, but tonight when he rated his presents from favourite to least favourite (though he loved them all), the hottie cover was rather far down the list, considering the effort that had gone into it. Of course, it's less exciting than Lego... but hopefully next winter he'll enjoy snuggling into bed with it.