Dearest ana,

Thank you for the mulled wine recipe! I think I may have even spoke to you of my intentions to make it when I was over visiting you (so many months ago, now! sadface!), but even now with the recipe I am STILL yet to get around to making some. I have such romantic notions of hot, spicy winter drinks, but never get around to it myself. I have fond memories of drinking hot apple cider at some German fest in a US city about 6 years ago, and drinking mulled wine in one of Melbourne’s hidden bars (directions: go down this alley, then that smaller alley, then another and then past the dumpster and the hidden adult shop, then up the stairs where you see the hanging plant, and when it looks like you’re in a candle-lit thrift store, ask the barman for some mulled wine!).

At any rate, despite being told of a delightful spice shop only a couple of suburbs away from me, the demands of the silly season have not allowed me a long enough leash to get there. Also, my kitchen here is tiny so I have misgivings as to just how much space I have to undergo such a venture… And then my thoughts lead to, “well, I could do it in my parents’ ginormous kitchen in their country house”, but then I remember that it’s summer here, and that when I visit them generally it involves less cooking of winter foods and more floating in the pool, staring at the sky and the forest.

Seeing as you gave me a picture, here, have one from me, too–of the country house in question, because I absolutely want to drag you here one day and make you go bushbashing in the proper wilderness (well, proper compared to where we went in France, but not so much in the Australian scheme of things):

At top of property

That’s my parents’ house with the orange roof in the valley; the photo is taken at the top of the cleared bit of hill behind the house. If you keep going back you reach the forested summit, then you can go back down another hundred or so acres through dense Australian bush until you get to the more rainforesty valley with a creek running through it. It’s quite glorious. Anyway, this is where I’ll be spending a bit of my time off at Christmas.

Which brings me to my crafty things. As you probably know from my Ravelry feed, I generally don’t branch out beyond scarves and shawls in my yarn crafting. This is mainly because I don’t have the attention span to see through a pattern for a complex garment, but unfortunately the result is that I have since gifted many a scarf to my friends and family and am running out of hand-crafted things of that ilk to give. Still, I like to try and do something hand-crafted with my gifts each year – last year it was fancy gift tags; this year I’ve crocheted little ornaments to decorate presents with:

Crocheted heart ornament decorated with a button A pile of crocheted heart ornaments

I used this tiny crochet hearts pattern, starting with some fairly heavy-ply red acrylic yarn (Smoothie DK, I think)–which, by the way, was very annoying to crochet with as the hook kept splitting the loose ply–and then using a much smaller hook and some mercerised cotton to do a chain and border in gold. That gold yarn was a pretty great find; all the photos here have the iPhone camera’s super-saturation, but it’s actually quite a lovely natural colour that I’d like to do more with–perhaps something like a crocheted basket?

So, hopefully they’re well received, my plan is to attach them to the charity gifts I got for my family. And I have a few spare for other miscellaneous giftees, too.

Other than that, gah, I think I’ve achieved nearly all of my christmas shopping and planning and whatnot. I hope you are feeling just as mellow over on the other side of the world.

Oh! Here is another reason for you to come and visit and chill at the country house: octopus statue loitering in my parents’ hall–

Octopus #1

<3 Me