once more unto the proverbial

I’ve vowed many (many!) times that I’ll never knit another jumper. To be fair, it’s not like I’ve made a ton, or have even attempted a ton. But I invariably lose enthusiasm and abandon these endeavours and feel guilty and full of Failure.

But madness overcame me when I was knitting the cowl^^. I was enjoying the process of sitting about knitting each evening and I found myself searching for jumper patterns.

Eventually I landed on this lion brand fringed cable sweater, which appealed to me quite a bit. I’m all about the simple blocky shapes right now. OF COURSE I will be making this without the fringe or the coloured blocks – neither of which are my jam AT ALL. Honestly I can’t even imagine what inspired those design elements.

accent madness!

Naturally we cannot obtain the requisite yarn in the antipodes without incurring great expense, so I cast about for an alternative and after a good deal of dithering settled on rowan hemp tweed in plum.

I bought a ball and after waiting to complete aforesaid cowl (a rare exercise in restraint), knitted my gauge square. I then laundered it because never let it be said that I don’t learn lessons about hand knitted garments growing ridiculously after washing. Well, eventually I learn those lessons.

test square

All was good, so last week at lunchtime I strolled down to morris and sons to grab the vast number of balls to make the thing. Alas, in the space of two weeks, the several billion balls on the shelf when I purchased the test ball had reduced to two balls. Rats!

Undeterred, I ignored this sign from TheUniverse and had them request some from another store. After a follow-up visit (admin clearly not being in yarn stores’ wheelhouse). I eventually suggested I just swing by the Newtown Store and collect it myself on Friday evening – which gave me a fabulous excuse to leave SML on time. I’d not visited that store before, but it is completely adorable and appears to have superior stock.

I am now in possession of a giant pile of yarn and am planning my attack on it.

I am giving myself twelve months to complete this or it really will be the last time.

Will of course report back.


^^ Cowl notes for Future Me:

Very warm and snuggly and not at all useful for the recent spell of hot autumnal weather.

Yarn: rowan brushed fleece in hush | Pattern: the catchily named cabled cowl #90589AD

fluffy and slightly wobbly

could have done with this in japan in january

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may projects: update 2

It’s been less than stellar couple of weeks. I’ve not been kicking terribly many goals at SML or at home and everything seems to be really difficult.

I had quite a few Action Items on the agenda this weekend and then did *something* agonising to my neck/right shoulder when I jumped out of bed this morning which put paid to a lot of that. I carry my stress in my neck and clearly TheUniverse is telling me I should just relax. Thanks Universe!

Anyway, how’s May coming along?

+ Yoga 2x per week | practice headstand 5x days
NO! Random aches and pains and complete exhaustion have made it pretty easy to avoid classes. Headstand, yeah, nah.

+ Meditate 5x mornings per week
YES! This has had absolutely no measurable effect on my mental state. Though maybe it has and it would be much worse if I hadn’t? Will keep at it – because what else would I do to time the coffee in the mornings?

+ Exercise bike 3x per week
NO! I did ride yesterday after work – for a grand total of 2x this month.

+ Eating: intermittent fasting 3x days | no work biscuits | no chocolate | fruit-only dessert during week
YES! | YES! | YES! | Hell no!

+ 2 dates with Don
Partial. The play we missed last weekend due to … well, I’m not entirely sure what it was due to … was intended to be the second date. Oops.

+ complete Total Japanese CDs 6 and 7
YES! I was surprised to discover there is only one CD remaining, I thought there were 10 in the set. I should make a plan for what’s next.
Watashi wa nihongo ga heta desu

+ Endless embroidery: complete years 11 and 12
OH RATS! Completed year 11 today and thought I’d scored a YES until I see now that I’d also committed to year 12. Pah!

pleased with how this is coming along

+ Knitting: finish cowl (have changed pattern) | knit tension squares for planned jumper – I know, I said I would never attempt a jumper again (remind me of this when I abandon the project)
YES! | YES! And bought a whole bunch of yarn yesterday for that jumper. In the words of a quite bad film: Never say never again.

unblocked cowl. fin. (yikes the lighting in the palace is dire)

+ 2x lunchtime visits to MCA (Project Sulfur has relocated to the good end of town – there is no excuse not to visit)
Partial! One week remaining to go sit in the library (having decided that 2x MCA in a month was too much) at lunch and look at pretty books.

+ blog 4x per week
OH HELL NO! Future Me is going to be very annoyed when she reads back through the archives. Sorry, Future Me, I hope you’re a better place than I am now!

+ attend to ghastly nails 1x per week
Ah! I thought I’d forgotten something.

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my twelfth, don’s fifth, joan’s fourth, joe/frank’s third and bessie’s second

Our federal election was held yesterday. For those unaware, voting is compulsory in Australia and a whole bunch of traditions have sprung up around it. Polling places are often at schools and church halls who often use the occasion for fund-raising – holding sausage sizzles, cake stalls and other such things. It can be a fun day out.

Joan started off proceedings early last week by voting at Australia House and being part of history by experiencing the first election sausage sizzle in London.

joan chooses not to have onions on her democracy sausage – i consider this an abomination

We were not quite so exotic and trundled down to Stanmore Public School. This is not the closest polling place to us (there is one a block away), but has a superior sausage sizzle and cake stall and it was a lovely afternoon to get out into the neighbourhood.

i would have preferred a slightly fatter sausage but delicious nonetheless – onions under sausage as is right and proper

election relish – this was a new offering and completely delicious

book stall find – australian self-improvement book from 1974! definitely warrants a post of its own

The election date was kind of badly timed as Don and I had tickets for Sydney Theatre Company’s production of cat on a hot tin roof which we’d purchased well before the election was called. I had a post drafted in my head about how this would be the first election for many years (over 25 years for me) where we’d not sat feasting on cheese and bikkies**, watching the results come in and shouting at the television (or shouting at the computer when I did not have a television).

At 3pm we got back from voting, checked the tickets for the start time so we could plan our departure and saw that our tickets were for the matinee. The matinee that had started at 1:30pm.


Tradition maintained^^.

hastily gathered feast

baked camembert – first time we’ve done this, will not be the last

We’ll draw a veil over the election result (but I did predict it, so never let it be said I’m not plugged into the zietgiest – crazy as they might be).


** The menu has slightly varied here and there over those many (many) years. For the recent state election it was hummous, lamb and pinenuts with pita bread / pita chips. There was also, on several of those previous occasions, copious wine consumed.

^^ Yikes! My election feast photography has definitely degraded in the past four years!

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may actions: progress update (abandoning all hope of coming up with a catchy title)

Maybe it is the onset of the freezing weather or the intense new colleague at SML or the increasing madness of Project Sulfur, but May has seen me completely exhausted by day’s end and not much use for anything. As a consequence I’ve made rather less progress than I’d hoped on my Action Items.

+ Yoga 2x per week | practice headstand 5x days
YES! (first week) NO! (second week) | NO! One day only.

+ Meditate 5x mornings per week
YES! This week giving a trippy new app a whirl: non – all crazy sounds and vibrations not dissimilar to a spinning washing machine. I still don’t know if it is actually doing anything.

+ Exercise bike 3x per week
NO! Once only. Still don’t know what the barrier is, though likely exhaustion. But seriously, it only needs 10 minutes, what am I doing?

+ Eating: intermittent fasting 3x days | no work biscuits | no chocolate | fruit-only dessert during week
YES! | YES! | YES! | Partially – caved on teddy biscuits after a long, long day. All went slightly downhill from there.

+ 2 dates with Don
Partial! Quite lovely lunch date at Yayoi last Sunday on the journey to find a replacement kettle.

+ complete Total Japanese CDs 6 and 7
Partial! Completed CD 6 today. First lesson of CD 7 down. Definitely a great use of commuting time.
Watashi wa neko ga suki desu.

+ Endless embroidery: complete years 11 and 12
Partial! First 100 of year 11 complete. Also need to track down those two lost red stitches!

+ Knitting: finish cowl (have changed pattern) | knit tension squares for planned jumper
NO! But in progress| NO! But have a couple of test balls waiting until I complete the cowl.

+ 2x lunchtime visits to MCA (Project Sulfur has relocated to the good end of town – there is no excuse not to visit)
ONE! It was very pleasant.

I think I might make that second cultural visit to the Customs House Library. I dropped in one evening last week to pick up a book and it was really lovely and very restful and soothing. I’d love to take an hour to flick through a couple of books.

+ blog 4x per week
NO! see: collapsing on the couch at the end of each evening.

+ attend to ghastly nails 1x per week
YES! Still ghastly. Maybe I need to ramp up the frequency a bit? Maybe I need a professional manicure?

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a lesson in this somewhere

Here in ThePalaceOfLove we have very hard water. Or is it very soft water? Despite my advanced years I can never get the two straight in my mind. Which ever it is (hard, I think), it leaves white spots on the stainless steel pots and makes for occasionally crunchy laundry.

What it also does is leave our lovely clear kettle with a rather brown and mangy interior after continued use, so that it barely resembles the very nice product photograph below.

I’ve tried all manner of cleaning methods over the years – mostly involving scrubbing with various products, some natural, some not. The outcome wasn’t all that great no matter what product I used. And despite having rather skinny hands, I’d always end up with a bruise or two from trying to get at the bottom.

I eventually tried boiling white vinegar in it a few months ago and the results were spectacular. Finally it did look like the product photo! YAY! I was delighted.

I’m not the sort of person who cleans the kettle on the regular, but had resolved to do the vinegar treatment at least quarterly. And this weekend was that time – the second time I’d tried this method.

I filled it to around half way with vinegar and set to boil. Because it’s clear, I could watch the magic happen and it honestly is pretty magic to watch those stains disappear as it heats.

Until … the vinegar hit boiling point and erupted from the kettle like a boiling white vinegar fountain – all over our television and amp remote controls which live in a bamboo box on an occasional table next to the kitchen bench. All over the kitchen bench and floor. The bamboo box made a lovely boiling vinegar bath for the remotes (and some pens and other miscellany).

Vinegar Disaster illustrated below:


I dived for everything and managed to fling it all into the sink. Then quickly yanked the batteries from the remotes and set them to dry on a towel. Then mopped up what seemed to have turned into about 20 litres of really quite hot white vinegar.

Why this vinegar fountain didn’t happen the first time I tried this is a scientific mystery for another time.

But much later I boiled the kettle and everything was peachy – and so clear and shiny! Hurrah!

This morning when I staggered sleepily downstairs at some ungodly hour to feed the ravenous cats, I flicked on the kettle and all was not peachy (though still clear and shiny). The kettle did nothing. The power on that side of the room was out. Odd. Wandered down to the fuse box and saw the breaker had tripped. Flicked it back on, came back and switched on the kettle. Power out again.


Vale shiny kettle.

Let’s hope those remotes fare better.


In separate incidents I also broke a mug, inadvertently threw my tea-pot insert into the bin (which I didn’t find until hours later) and had a couple of single anniversary stitches fall out of the endless embroidery (will be a devil to work out where they came from).


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april review (has there ever been a more uninspired title?)

Almost a week into May, but closing the loop on those April intentions – mostly because Future Me will be annoyed to look back and see that I didn’t.

+ yoga 3x per week
Partial – made it to 2 per week, which I’m hoping to stick with for this term. I’ve decided that I need to stop waiting to be passionate and enthusiastic about attending yoga and just show up – rather in the manner of how I approach SML.

+ exercise bike 3x per week
Started strong, tailed off to nothing. After an initial burst of enthusiasm, we’ve all ignored the bike. This comes as no surprise to anyone.

+ no more SML biscuits – such a waste of calories
YES! Resistance even in the face of iced vovos.

+ renew chocolate ban – moderation is impossible
YES! Clearly self-banning is the only way to do this.

+ complete Total Japanese CDs 5 and 6
Partial – completed 5 and a little of 6. I have a listening routine on the way to SML – disrupted by those magical 10 days off.

+ finish to end year 10 in the endless embroidery (currently at year 8)
YES! Holy goodness I might just complete this by June!

+ get out into the neighbourhood more
Partial – need to do more, but walked about a little during the holiday. I spend way way too much time indoors – needs to stop.

+ intermittent fasting 3x per week
Partial – Easter put paid to this! Far (far) too many hot cross buns consumed.

+ actually use the teeth whitening kit I paid a small fortune for at the dentist over 6 months ago
ABANDONED. Ouch. Never again.

+ buff ghastly nails 1x per week – because they really are ghastly
YES! They are still ghastly (so many ridges and white patches) – but slightly less so. Clearly needs to be a long-term project.

+ embrace the analogue – use laptop, tablet and phone with purpose and shut down after use
YES! Surprisingly pretty good with this. It’s appears to be quite good for the mental health. I’m currently running with the entirely unoriginal theory that while the Information Superhighway used to be a delightful escape from Real Life, this has very much flipped in the last 10 years and now Real Life is the escape.

+ meditate on non-yoga mornings
YES! Still don’t know if it is effective, but good use of time while waiting for the coffee to brew.

+ blog minimum 4x per week
NO! And all that holiday time at my disposal too.

+ read minimum 4 books over the Easter break
ALMOST! I read two library books. I (re)listened to a whole lot more – the very fluffy and very comforting Cherringham from start to end.

All up – not an entirely bad result.

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achieving achiever


900 days

I should celebrate with something.

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may actions

My April reset met with varying levels of success, which I’ll report on in another post, but it was successful enough that I’ve decided I’ll give it another crack in May:

 +   Yoga 2x per week | practice headstand 5x days
 +  Meditate 5x mornings per week
 +  Exercise bike 3x per week
 +  Eating: intermittent fasting 3x days | no work biscuits | no chocolate | fruit-only dessert during week
 +  2 dates with Don
 +  complete Total Japanese CDs 6 and 7
 +  Endless embroidery: complete years 11 and 12
 +  Knitting: finish cowl (have changed pattern) | knit tension squares for planned jumper – I know, I said I would never attempt a jumper again (remind me of this when I abandon the project)
 +  2x lunchtime visits to MCA (Project Sulfur has relocated to the good end of town – there is no excuse not to visit)
 +  blog 4x per week
 +  attend to ghastly nails 1x per week

Should be enough to be going on with, but not enough to be insurmountable. Sadly no magical 10 days off to accomplish some of the more meaty items, but we’ll see how it goes.

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peak gadget?

If you have been visiting here for a while, you know that I very much want to incorporate more quietness, more mindfulness, more chillness, more whatever-ness and less stressfulness into my life.

So when an item promising a simple, effective mindfulness aid and a reminder to hit pause was featured in the most recent kickstarter “projects we love” email, it will come as no surprise that I clicked through.

And gosh!

Who wouldn’t benefit from adding an electronic rock to their life?

electronic rock (my annotations)

Electronic Rock will retail for £60 (AU$110.04), but can be yours for the bargain introductory kickstarter price of £40 + £10 shipping (AU$73.36 + AU$18.34).

For this bargain price you get:
+ your electronic rock
+ a wireless charging rock
+ a book of 30 scripts to better engage with your electronic rock
+ access to the exclusive, curated electronic rock community
+ “and finally, you will also have access to specifically designed ‘Getting to know your Pebble’ support materials”.

electronic rock (my annotations)

I think you will agree that Electronic Rock is Quite Superior to this Analogue Rock which I just grabbed from one of the pot plants on the lower balcony.

analogue rock (my annotations, don’s bedside styling)

Analogue Rock does not come with a wireless charging rock; nor does it come with scripts to assist engagement with him; there is no vibrant, exclusive community to plug into (plug! hah!); getting-to-know-him materials are not provided (though possibly I could find out more about him on wikipedia**). He does not pulse with pretty patterns.

However Analogue Rock does have the benefit of not costing $100 and in my opinion is rather more attractive than Electronic Rock.

Indeed you could set a periodic reminder on your phone or calendar, hold and gaze at Analogue Rock for a bit and possibly get the same effect Electronic Rock is seeking to provide for a significantly reduced cost.


In all seriousness, I do absolutely support whatever it takes to achieve good mental health and I’m sure the product design and intention comes from a very good place. I suspect though, that your $100 could possibly, maybe, be better spent elsewhere – a few yoga sessions, a meditation class or two, a GP appointment for a therapy referral.

However if you cannot resist acquiring an Electronic Rock please report back.

Since collecting him from downstairs, I find I like carrying Analogue Rock about, he gets nicely warm when held for a while. Already I have anthropomorphised him. He sparkles in the sunlight. I might take him to SML with me.

** I have no idea if Analogue Rock is quartz. I’ve always thought of this kind of rock as quartz. I apologise in advance to any geologists reading.

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five days in

The past five days (still five to go!) have been super-relaxing and pretty satisfying. We haven’t done a whole lot of getting out and about, but there has been a bit of cooking, a bit of pottering, a bit of catching up on chores, a bit of sitting about, a lot of golf (for some), a bit of knitting – and we’ve completed (or are in the process of completing) some long overdue Palace-ly maintenance.

Yesterday I attended to the garden (otherwise known as the couple of pots on the balconies) – re-potting, added couple of new plants, wrangling the faux compost bin**.

As part of this I bid goodbye to the lemon tree and I hereby swear that I will never again attempt to grow one – lemons in pots simply don’t thrive for us and are a magnet for any pest that happens to be wandering by. Despite my no passengers vow of years ago, amongst other non-productive plants, I now have a couple of goblin trees which I hope will eventually provide some partial shade for the herbs.

remember these? the plant at the back right is where we’re at exactly 3 years later

And on the upper balcony:

these started life as identical teensy self-seeded figs in Glebe – amazing the difference the size of a pot can make

It all looks very tidy and pleasing. I’ve come to terms with the idea that life right now means I’m not going to have a terribly productive garden.


Don has spent the last two days filling those holes left by the air-conditioning installers. We contemplated having this done by a professional, but I’ve read enough home improvement stuff on the InformationSuperhighway which suggested this was something we could tackle. My view is that our hard-earned is much better spent toward dinners or holidays (or into the fund to have the carpet replaced).

And we did tackle it! Of course, when I say we I mean Don. I’m fairly sure I also could have turned my hand to it, though probably not anywhere near as efficiently.

progress shot!

Achievement unlocked! And the repairs will be one of many delights for future owners to discover.


While Don was occupied repairing holes, I attached a motion controlled light inside the deep cupboard where we store our pantry goods. We did have a tiny battery operated light, but it had to be turned on and the light was pretty week. This new light has changed everything – so bright!

I took the opportunity to write down the sauces, vinegars and oils, so that I can attach a list to the inside of the cupboard – should save a rummaging through every time we are preparing a shopping list:

+ tarragon vinegar
+ chinese cooking wine x 2
+ light soy sauce
+ dark soy sauce
+ raspberry vinegar
+ sherry vinegar x 2
+ mirin x 2
+ chinkiang vinegar
+ apple cider vinegar
+ fish sauce
+ cooking sake
+ white vinegar
+ malt vinegar
+ white wine vinegar
+ balsamic vinegar
+ oyster sauce
+ rice wine vinegar
+ maggi seasoning sauce
+ HP sauce
+ verjuice
+ worcestershire sauce
+ flaxseed oil x 2
+ peanut oil
+ chili oil x 2
+ sesame oil

We have almost as much vinegar as we have sugar.


Each morning of the break I’ve been sitting down for an hour or so and attempting to get my head above water on SML admin tasks that had very much fallen by the wayside. This is pretty important stuff which has travelled with me for years into a bunch of different roles and which makes absolutely no sense for me to perform. It’s quite detailed, meticulous work and stopped making sense for me to do this about 2 roles ago (I’m all about fluff and big picture now), but for various quite boring organisational reasons I’ve held onto it. But no longer! I’ll be jettisoning it permanently to Arnie-long-ago-minion.

It might seem a dreadful waste of my TEN GLORIOUS DAYS but Future Me will be delighted that I’ve put in the time. As soon as I get back to the office I can start finalising the handover. And it would have been a really dick move to flick Arnie about 6 months worth of backlog. I really want to set him up for success – and never, ever have to do this myself again!

The sitting down quietly each morning has been a pretty good discipline actually. I’m calmly ploughing through things in a way I would not be able to in a regular workday. Maybe I need to do this with personal projects?


** five years and still going strong! Strong in a quite slimey and stinky way.

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