Sunday, 26 April 2015

Craft Projects In Progress

Over Summer I tend to avoid anything that makes me hotter, and that includes having a big pile of wool on my lap! So it's been a while since I posted any craft updates. The weather has cooled down enough now, that I just want to snuggle underneath a blanket and, well, make a blanket!

Here are a few squares from my granny square blanket. I haven't decided on a name for it yet: I've been calling it Granny Galore, Granny Land, Big Granny, etc. I don't know how to join the squares together yet, but that's some way off at the moment.

Next is a shawl that I started a few months ago. It's made with 'straight granny' (I'm sure there are other names for it too), and it's my first time working with this pattern. I'm enjoying watching it taking shape. The green is the Bendigo Woollen Mills Bloom that I bought and blogged about a few months ago. The variegated twist that slowly changes from grass green to sage green is absolutely delightful to work with, and I only changed colours because I didn't want to use it all up too soon!

Last week I suddenly had the urge to make/own a scarf in a filet or grid pattern. I nearly rushed out at lunchtime and bought wool to start one, until I realised that I was already half-way through one! So I dug it out and started working on it again. I have to concentrate slightly more on it than the others, to make sure I crochet the bobbles in the right spots. On the other hand, I'm much further into it than I am the others -- about 75% -- so knowing I'm much closer to finishing it is giving me motivation to continue.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I Planted Some Bulbs

Today I planted some bulbs in preparation for Spring. I didn't plant any last year as they seemed to be a bit too complicated for a newbie like me. This time though, I took the plunge, but I made sure to choose Naturalising bulbs. As I've just learned, these are bulbs that you can leave in the ground over summer: they don't need to be dug up and stored.
I should also apologise in advance for the quality of the photos -- it was a very dull day.

Most of the bulbs were a lot smaller than I imagined they would be. I ended up only planting two out of the four packs, as it kept raining on and off, and the spots for the other two required more preparation. That would have made me more wet!

Here are the Dutch Iris bulbs. Everybody uses a spare bonsai pot as a container, not just me ... right?

This is the spot where I decided to plant the Freesias:

I was surprised to find that there are a lot more roots under there than I thought there would be! I guess they must belong to the fern. I couldn't dig any deeper, so I used the handle of my scoop to make deeper holes, then pushed the bulbs into them.

Then I covered it all up again with soil and leaf litter. I'm not posting a photo of that because it looks almost exactly the same as the second-last photo!

So, when Spring comes, we will see if my endeavours have come to anything.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Noob Reviews : Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars

This is the second in my occasional series of tabletop game reviews. My first one was on Junior Monopoly: My Little Pony. Also, if you're interested in games, Husband has started blogging about them here.

Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars was another game that Husband got me for Christmas. I love Godzilla, so I was very excited to receive this -- especially when I saw that there were figurines inside! I think his quest to get me addicted to tabletop games is working....

This post also gives me another chance to show off our new games table!

The Game:
Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars is based on the classic Japanese Godzilla series of movies. The monster, born from radioactivity, rampages through Japan, fighting other monsters or the foolish humans who try to kill him. Inevitably, destroying any cities that happen to be in his way.

(l-r): Ghidorah; Megalon; Rodan; Godzilla.

The board represents Tokyo, already half-destroyed by Godzilla and the other Kaiju monsters. Before the game starts, the board is filled with buildings, parks and ponds for the monsters to destroy. Tanks and Personnel Carriers are also placed on the board. The configuration of these is different depending on the scenario. Husband and I played "Destroy Tokyo!", which uses the simplified combat rules and is recommended for first time players. Each kaiju is issued with a card that has health and energy trackers, not to mention a cool portrait of the protagonist. Several Action Cards are placed along one side of the board.

Godzilla is ready to rampage!

Players take turns destroying Tokyo at their whim. Players may move, destroy a building, attack another kaiju or attack a Personnel Carrier/Tank, or all of the above during their move, until their kaiju's energy has run out. For each building, park or Personnel Carrier/Tank that a kaiju destroys, he scores Destruction Points. The taller a building is, the more Destruction Points the kaiju earns from destroying it. Personnel Carriers and Tanks can attack the kaiju back but, being weak humans, their attacks don't tend to do much damage.

The plastic building tiles have adorable stomp-prints on them!

Hmmm, what to attack next??

At the end of each round, a die is rolled to determine the Action for that round. The card corresponding to the number rolled is actioned. For example, all tanks from that point onwards will be fitted with bazookas and are twice as likely to hit the kaiju. This aspect of the game adds an interesting twist, and can range from a minor inconvenience to a major, game-changing pain.

Rodan attacks a building, with matching action and screeching!

All of the buildings have been destroyed, there's nothing left but to attack each other!

Each scenario has different conditions for winning. In the scenario we played, the first to score 35 Destruction Points wins. However, we were having so much fun that we decided to make it 50.

Oh look, I won! But only by one point!

++ It's Godzilla, what else can I say?
++ The board and tiles are very detailed, with buildings, rubble, craters and other assorted destruction. The building 'blocks' even had monster footprints imprinted on them. So cute!
++ The kaiju figurines are also very detailed and fun to play with.
++ There are several scenarios with a choice of simple or standard combat rules. While we've only played one so far, I'm thinking they will add variety to the game and extend its playing life.

-- Husband and I felt there weren't enough park and pond tiles. We wanted more to be able to destroy in the city!
-- Some pond tiles had ponds on both sides, and other tiles had a pond on one side and exploded rubble on the other. The instructions didn't adequately explain why this is.
-- The scenario we played was a bit short. There was still plenty in the city to destroy when we reached 35 Destruction Points. (On the bright side, however, the game was so fun we wanted it to go longer!)
-- It's just a small thing, but the Rodan figurine doesn't stand up very well on its own. We glued it on to a base, but now it doesn't fit back in the box properly.

Final Comments:
I found Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars to be a very enjoyable game. It would be a great addition to the games cupboard for fans of Japanese pop culture, as well as fans of general destruction of stuff. We will definitely play again.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Outdoors ... Fail!

Last weekend I (perhaps somewhat naïvely) decided that Husband and I should go on a picnic and forest walk at our local Gorge. We'd never been there before, but we drove past it on our way to a birthday function last month, and I thought it might be a nice place to visit. To prepare, Husband made some curries which he packed into our Tiffin picnic set, and I made sausage rolls for entree. I won't post the recipe as there isn't one, but here are some progressive shots:

We had some trouble finding the picnic area as the GPS kept wanting to take us around to the other side of the gorge. Eventually, after going down some bumpy dirt roads, we found it. There was already a large group there who looked settled in for the afternoon. Thankfully we hadn't brought anything that needed cooking on the single barbeque that was there. Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of the curries or of our picnic spread at all. The place was infested with wasps that kept flying in our faces and trying to land in our food, so we scarfed down our food as quickly as we could. It was also a little disconcerting when members of the other group kept staring at us as they walked past to use the toilet that was situated not far from our table.

I'd also wanted to go for a walk on some of the walking trails that the Intertubes had promised were there. The last few times we'd gone bush (Chiltern National Park, for example), the walking trails had been nicely signposted with the name of the trail and estimated time to walk it. Nice and civilised. However, there were no signs whatsoever and we couldn't really figure out where the walking trail started -- or even if there was one at all. It was a little disappointing. As we were walking back to the car to drop off our picnic equipment, we were still in the mind to possibly try and find the trail. Just then however, about 8 more cars-full of rowdy families arrived. That made the decision for us. We got in the car as fast as we could and went straight back home!

I did manage to get a couple of photos before we fled, though:

Perhaps I've been conditioned from a young age, or perhaps I just spend too much time on Pinterest, but I can't help thinking that the Australian bush is ugly compared to the majestic Redwood forests of the U.S., or the damp, moss-covered pine forests of Europe.

Next time, we might visit our local Scrubland, or our local Culvert.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

My March…

The weather is starting to cool down and the days are shorter. It's dark again already when I get up for work. The plum tree is starting to drop its leaves, but many of the other plants in the garden seem confused. Some are growing vigorously after the recent rainy weather; while others are still hunkered down as if they're expecting more hot weather soon. Maybe they know something we don't!

The night-time background when I
check the weather in the morning.

On a more personal note, I've made some changes at work. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to apply for a promotion, and I received it, which was quite nice. However, since then, some changes occurred that I didn't anticipate and the situation has become increasingly stressful. All of this was affecting my home/crafty life as well, as I was too tired to do any arts and crafts, and the eczema on my hand, which gets worse when I'm stressed, was preventing me from doing any fibre crafts. So a couple of weeks ago, I did what any self-respecting sensitive artistic type would do -- I asked to go back to my old position. Since then, I've been much happier, more motivated to write and do art, and my eczema has started healing up.

What I've been painting ...
After a break of about a month, I've started art-journalling again. Even with my hand in the state it's in, I can still hold a texta and do some scribbling. I'm interested in the concept of Asemic Writing (marks that look like writing but are actually not). So I've been writing passages using my scribbliest handwriting, deliberately trying to make them unreadable. Often the words are snatches of phrases that I've heard while watching TV. Later I like to cover them with semi-transparent layers of paint to make them even more difficult to distinguish (and mysterious, hopefully!).

What I've been obsessing over ...
Earlier this month, I finally found my notes on creating my own writing system. I'd been working on it on-and-off for several years, but when I moved house, the notes got packed away somewhere. No matter what I unpacked, no matter where I looked, I couldn't find them. I was getting very frustrated indeed! Finally, one weekend, Husband and I made a last-ditch attempt to find them. Finally he found them in his wardrobe, in a shopping bag full of electrical cables. I was overjoyed! Since then, a fair portion of my spare time has been spent in continuing my research. I'll dedicate a post to it soon to explain the project in more detail.

What I've been reading ...
I've taken up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein again, which I started over a year ago. I find it hard going, not because of the comma-sparse, semi-stream of consciousness style, but because of the endless name-dropping and repetitive episodes recounting evenings spent with a revolving-door of various famous people. At other times, I remember that Stein wrote this supposed 'autobiography' of her life partner Alice B. Toklas, which does nothing but talk about Stein herself throughout. The audacity of it amazes me -- it's as if she wants to prove that she can self-aggrandise along with the best of the male artists and writers of her generation. Then there are the poignant moments, like the mother who wanted to return to Paris in the middle of World War I to bring her son's overcoat to him. At the moment I'm about half-way through; I don't know how long it will take me to finish!

What I've been photographing ...
Enough words; I'll leave you this month with some more photos I've taken in my daily walks in the city.