Yarn pOrn!

Time to flash my stash! (This is just half of what I got since arriving but never mind…)

Btw, did I mention that I’m planning to get some more roving? I just can’t decide if I should or not!


100% new wool merino (Orange Sherbet) 100% new wool merino (Lime Spring Lorna Laces Cornucopia (Ravelry Destash buy) Handpaintedyarn.com (Verde Oliva) Handpaintedyarn.com (Celtic Tale) Handpaintedyarn.com (Freesia) Phildar Lambswool Phildar Preface (Multi red) Phildar Preface (Brown)

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…the house smells like garlic now.

Now, it’s not because I ate a boatload of garlic. Neither did I buy ten kilos of the pungent bulbs. It’s just that after making my usual rounds at the balcony, I discovered that my kalanchoe was heavily infested with aphids and then those flying bugs around my ginger and other houseplants which I thought were innocent might actually be flying aphids!!!!

Apparently infestations start off with a couple of flying aphids which will move from plant to plant. The last thing I want is these pests near my roses so after sacrificing my kalanchoe to a massive prune (I had to lob EVERYTHING off. *sob*), I scouted the Net for non-toxic pesticide and discovered that aphids dislike chives, cloves, anise, lavender and hear, hear, garlic. Garlic is used because it contains naturally occurring sulphur which acts as an antibacterial agent and fungus preventative.

Of course there are other alternatives like Orange Spray which uses orange peel and water or Yarrow Tea which utilizes yarrow plant and brewed coffee. But because I don’t really have oranges or yarrow at hand, I settled for the Garlic Spray recipe instead.

One site called for one crushed garlic bulb to be added to two cups of water and the mixture ought to set for a day or two before straining for further usage. Another called for crushed garlic soaked in oil for a day or two before adding some to water and dish washing detergent. My recipe has a slight adjustment to it – I crushed half a bulb of garlic in some water and add some dish washing detergent before spraying all my plants with the stuff.

The results? The house smells a little like garlic but guess what? ALL the flying aphids are dead!!!!!!!!!! HURRAH! What’s next? Orange & Lemon Spray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more information on natural alternatives to pesticides, go here and here.

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Another hobby!

Orange Sherbet goodness!

I know. I know. I really ought to stop picking up so many hobbies but seriously, when you are not working (writing about things like Austin Air air purifiers do not count!) and have heaps of time on your hands, hobbies are one of the things that keeps a person sane…not to mention occupied.

Anyway, this isn’t really a new hobby. I picked it up last year but somehow shelved it aside when work got crazy and never quite picked it up again when the wedding plans came like a storm. The fact that I left my DIY spindle and rovings at home after I moved to Switzerland didn’t help one bit at all!

Nevertheless, of lately, I have been getting that spinning bug and well, almost all my readers know that once I get a bug, it’s only a matter of time before I succumbed. I put some of my hard-earn moolah into getting a custom-made handmade spindle from Spinsanity. Shannon is a gem and excellent with her hands; she makes the spindles by herself and paints them as well. I got her to paint mine with a sheep…I know, how typical!

So while waiting for my spindle to arrive, I stopped by the local hypermarket (20 minutes bus ride to and fro from town) to purchase some squishy soft roving. They were for felting but can be used for spinning. These little babies come in either 25gms or 50gms and I ended up getting 200gms. After separating them and then braiding them into four bundles, they are now finally ready for some serious spinning. Oh, there is also my shopping cart over at Handpaintedyarn.com which contains three 100gms rovings. *drools*

Ok ok…I should stop.

Btw, I am experimenting with my photo displays so do bear with the change in text.

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About a month later…

…and after unpacking (almost everything is out of the box except for the six arriving this weekend via my father-in-law) plus some sprucing up, here’s a look at the place now. The paintings you see in the photo(s) are gifts from my mother-in-law who is a painter by profession.

All photos were taken with a Canon Powershot 1S and a fisheye lens, courtesy of Nil, of course.

The dining and living areas Another look at the dining and living areas The living area & balcony The master bedroom

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The American holiday!

Visa-issues aside, Nil (and I) have been thinking of make a trip to the US – it has always been on his list, the whole Grand Canyon exploring thing among other stuff – and after my parents’ trip last year to the States, well, lets just say that he brings it up at every opportunity he gets!

I’m still trying to delay it because of the whole visa thing; it’s pretty difficult for Malaysians to obtain a visa and once you’re rejected, you can forget about ever applying again…or so I have been told.

Sure, I would love to check out the States but for purely selfish motives – I want to do more yarn shopping!!!!!!!!! This would probably entail me bugging him to head over to the West Coast instead of the East. He may not jump on the idea; after all, this hubby of mine is pretty selective when it comes to travelling. I don’t think he’ll even bite if I try to feed him this “Orlando vacations” thing. Theme parks are just not his style…even though he did enjoy the water slide at Sunway Lagoon.

Anyway, we’ll see how it goes. Right now, we have a budget to think of not to mention other family commitments. Life is really different when you’re married, y’know.


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Walking through farmland…

This Malaysian has a very different view of farms prior to coming to this country called Switzerland. The only sort of “farms” I was exposed to were more like paddy fields and orchards or dusuns. Most of the chicken and pig we do get in the country are bred commercially; and because they stink, you can’t really find them unless you go out of your way to look for them. Even when you do find them, they don’t exactly smell great. Most of the time, these breeding places stink to high heaven and the air is just stagnant.

In Switzerland, the countryside is dotted with plenty of farms with equally a lot of acreage. You can run into dairy cows, cattle, chicken, and horses just about 20 minutes (by train) outside Neuchatel. There is also a riding school nearby (where I used to live) but still, nothing beats seeing these farm animals out in the fields grazing away. Wait till you see a dairy cow stare you right in the face!!!! Those eyes and lashes are just mesmerizing…not to mention the fact that they can grow to about six feet in height from head to hoof!

A lot of these farms consist of a barn that houses things like horse supplies (or others), equipment, animals and naturally the house where farmers live in. In some instances, it can be just one big building; most of the time, it’s a plot of land with two large buildings next to each other. I am not too sure what the statistics show but many of the farms I saw during my hikes feature gardens where farmers grow some vegetable and seasonal fruits like strawberries.

Unlike Malaysian commercial breeders, these farmers allow their herds to graze in open fields; even the chickens have their own little space to run around in. The open grassland and wind helps minimize the smell of ammonia – cow dung is a fantastic organic fertilizer in case you were wondering. You’ll find that some farmers may even recycle dung for their vegetable and fruit crops.

I remember encountering the stench of a now-defunct pig farm in Puchong where my mum’s relatives were staying but surprisingly, walking through Swiss farms was a “breath of fresh air” (pun intended). Sure, you will find dung sometimes on the dirt path but the air smells of grass and not pee or anything else, which makes the hiking experience all the most enjoyable!

So honestly, if you’re ever in Switzerland and you have time for a hike, go for one and discover a little bit more about farming the Swiss way…at least from an outsider’s perspective.

In case you’re wondering why I would run into a cow during my hikes, be aware that hiking trails in Switzerland allow you to cut right through the middle of pastures and farms…but more on that another day.

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At the market…

Seasonal strawberries!!!

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there is a grocers’ market at the plaza just next to Place Pury, the centre of Neuchatel.

Unlike Malaysian markets which can get pretty big and messy, the centre only houses about 10 to 15 odd farmers with a variety of vegetables, fruits as well as artisan produce like cheese and bread. Meat is not sold at this market as cleanliness and hygiene is a big thing in Switzerland – you can find those at the local boucherie/charcuterie (butchery/delicatessen) nearby.

Nearly 100% of the produce sold at the market is grown locally and sold by the farmers themselves. You will find at least four to five different varieties of fresh lettuce, onions, potatoes, radish, carrots, aubergine (eggplant), capsicums, garlic, cucumbers and courgettes among other things. The fruits in season at the moment are strawberries and cherries but you can still find oranges, apples, and pears for sale.

In case you think this is all just about vegetable, it isn’t. On Saturdays, artisan produce come on sale – these include nuts, spices, bread, wild mushrooms and of course, cheese. Most of the cheese in nearby retail stores are commercially produced. The ones available are the market are made by small farm owners and/or imported in from neighbouring France (goat cheese is something you won’t be able to find in Switzerland).

And flowers…there will always be flowers on sale. There is a dedicated florist selling seasonal flowers and herbs but almost every farmer will have a little bit of blooms on for sale. These range from roses to lilas (I am not too sure what the English name is) as well as fresh herbs like chives, rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme.

The farmers are pretty friendly but do note that some French will be handy when asking for prices and quantities. It was my first time alone at the market today and I am definitely proud to say that I made it out just fine! Oh, and of course with three types of lettuce, eggplant, capsicums, courgettes and strawberries for the week. I might go again on Saturday with my father-in-law and Nil…I’d love to check out the flower stall!

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When one reaches a mental block…

Dark spring Pablo in the making!

Even though it’s freeform, it isn’t all that easy blogging about popcorn machines when it’s hardly about making popcorn or buying a machine for that purpose. You’d be surprised to know that there are vendors out there for cinema machinery and equipment online – yes, I know you can find them offline but these machines in differing styles – contemporary, branded, antique, theatre-style, etc.

After cracking my head for a few minutes, I got distracted by Mr Bean’s Holiday and a new project. I know I’m not supposed to cast on any more knitting projects until I get rid of my toe-up Monkeys but I simply couldn’t resist!!!!!!!! So yes, here’s to another sock in the making…

On a completely unrelated note, the weather is supposed to hit an all high of 29 C but it’s just been sunny and breezy. I hope it continues on this way; I’ll die if it gets any warmer than 30 C!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m just not a “hot weather” girl.

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