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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas...

Thanks Francesca for reminding me about this lovely Christmas treat!

What a lovely surprise I had when I logged on this morning and saw this post over at Cooking Up A Storm in A Teacup. I think you can tell from Deb's words just how much we value the friendship we've forged this year. When I first started this blog 12 months ago I really had no idea that I would meet so many wonderful, warm, talented and generous people. People like Deb, Lucy, Francesca, Tracey, Sandra, Estelle, Fourth Daughter and katiecrackernuts who have inspired me, made me laugh, made me feel welcome and most important of all taken the time to regularly comment on my posts. In fact, a big thank you to everyone who has read, commented or glanced at these pages over the year.

As the days and hours whiz by I'm thinking this may be my last post for the year. There's a pavlova to make today; roast chicken, stuffing and vegetables to prepare for Christmas Eve; presents that still need wrapping and children whose excitement is so contagious I can think of nothing more wonderful than just sharing this precious time with them.

I'm pretty sure we all want the same thing for Christmas - a day filled with love, laughter, good food, an afternoon nap and no family faux pas so that is what I wish for you. Have a happy and safe holiday season and I'll see you all again very soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A little bit of Italy for Christmas...

A bit fuzzy but you get the idea!

Like many people I decided to make sweet treats as Christmas gifts for friends this year. It's been was touch-and-go as to whether or not I'd be able to find the time so I wanted to make something quick and easy (preferably made from ingredients I already had in the cupboard) but exotic enough to stand out from all the gingerbread and shortbread. For some reason I seem to have an enormous variety (and quantity) of nuts in the house at the moment and I always have cocoa and spices at hand so panforte seemed the way to go. Then I read Lucy's funny post about her panpepato experiment gone wrong and remembered how good (if ugly) panpepato can be.

I didn't have time to shop for specific ingredients so I adapted Antonio Carluccio's Panpepato recipe from 'Carluccio's Complete Italian Food'. I didn't have any hazelnuts so I upped the amount of almonds I used and as I'd bought some glace apricots last week for some unspecified Christmas cooking I used them instead of mixed candied peel.

Panpepato (Peppered Bread)

170g blanched almonds, toasted & chopped
85g walnut halves
55g pine nuts
55g raisins (soaked in a little Muscat then drained)
60g cocoa
100g glace apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ground coriander & nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
125g honey
enough plain flour to bind


Preheat the oven to 160C/325F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl adding enough flour to form a stiff mixture. Using wet hands form mixture into a round loaf and place on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes (you'll know when it's cooked because your kitchen will be filled with the a wonderful spicy aroma) and leave to cool, dust with cocoa and serve in thin slices with coffee or dessert wine.

How easy is that? If you need a last minute gift to take to someone's house over the holiday season this could be just the thing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Four Simple Goals Update III

Image via

Time for another update on the Four Simple Goals Project. Way back in September my first goal was to 'bring music back into my life'. I'd envisaged doing that by finally getting the iPod I got LAST Christmas up and running but that still hasn't really happened. Instead I've found inspiration in some unlikely places.

The first place was my car. For the first time in my life I have a car with a CD player (sure it has iPod-compatability too but I digress...) so I've been able to drag out all my old, unloved CDs and play them end-to-end to see if there is anything worth saving. Turns out there is and I've been mentally compiling flamenco, big band, 60s and indie pop playlists ever since.

The second place was watching Glee and listening to the Glee CDs with the kids. The great thing about kids is they have no pre-conceived ideas about what's cool and what isn't (Henry took a 'Chicken Dance' CD to daycare last week and a Debussy CD this week). Through Glee they've become very excited about KISS, Madonna, U2, Lady Gaga, The Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald which I think is great.

The third, and perhaps most unlikely place, was the Rock Chicks concert where I saw Nat Allison wielding the most beautiful guitar in the world - the Gretsch White Falcon. I simply could not take my eyes off that guitar (which is almost as big as Nat!) and went home and dragged out my own acoustic number for a bit of a strum. Like many things (the tennis racket, sewing machine, flamenco shoes...) my guitar has spent way too much time in the cupboard over the years. I used to love playing guitar alone in my room and it seems my newfound enthusiasm has rubbed off on the kids because they've both asked Santa for guitars! Who knows perhaps we'll start our own retro band...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You Know Christmas Is On Its Way When...

...the kitchen is filled with the heady aroma of ginger and cinnamon, cardamon and cloves...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Roll Up, Roll Up!

Images via Windham Fabrics

I've been doing a lot of work on circus lately so it was a lovely surprise to see an article about circus history (and puppetry, toy theatres, pantomime and the Ballets Russes) in the recent Selvedge magazine. One of the things they mentioned was this incredible range of fabrics inspired by the circus poster collection at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, and made by Windham Fabrics. Aren't they just gorgeous? A bit of digging also led me to this fascinating story about how the Museum acquired some of its nineteenth century posters. They were pasted to the side of a house in 1883 when the circus came to town and found during renovations in 1991 (they had been covered over and protected from the environment). If you're at all interested in how paper conservators go about there business you can find out more here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vanilla Choc-Cherry Cheesecake

One of the things I love about Summer is the arrival of stone fruits - nectarines, peaches, apricots and especially cherries. It just wouldn't be Christmas without cherries. A few years ago I bought this cherry pipper (or is it pitter?) and my life changed for the better. You know how it is when you find a fabulous gadget and you wonder how you lived without it?
Recently I was asked to bring a cheesecake to a Christmas party so I decided to make a vanilla and chocolate swirl one. Being a novice cheesecake maker the top of the cheesecake cracked outrageously so I improvised a cherry topping and if I do say so myself it was the right decision. The cheesecake itself was quite sweet so the cherry topping gave it some much needed bite.

Vanilla and Choc-Cherry Cheescake

200g Nice biscuits (any sweet biscuit would do)
105 g unsalted butter
500g cream cheese (room temperature)
200g light sour cream
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g dark chocolate


500g cherries (pitted and halved)
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon cornflour


1. Line a 22cm springform pan with baking paper.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Crush biscuits in a food processor then combine the crumbs and butter. Press into base of pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water (don't let water touch the bowl). Allow to cool.

4. Preheat the oven to 160C (140C fan-forced). Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition then mix through vanilla extract.

5. Pour half the cream cheese mixture into base. Spoon in melted chocolate then top with remaining cream cheese mix. Use a skewer to swirl the chocolate around without over mixing.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cheescake is just set. Turn off oven and cool in closed oven. Chill for at least 3-4 hours (or overnight).

7. Place water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add pitted, halved cherries. Mix one tablespoon of cold water with one tablespoon of cornflour (or arrowroot). Add to cherries and stir unitl thick. Allow to cool slightly then pour over cold cheesecake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.

As this was the first time I'd made this recipe (and it was a boiling hot day) I took it to the party still in the tin so didn't get any good photos but here it is with its enormous cracks...

and with its glossy topping...

I'm pleased to say that when we did unmold it it stood up proud and was roundly praised by all who tried it so if cheesecake is your thing keep this one in mind?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Do You Remember Bruce?

Traveller, bon vivant, writer, collector, fantasist - Bruce Chatwin was my literary idol in the late 80s/early 90s. I was at university at the time studying archaeology and art history dreaming of becoming a curator (perhaps after I'd travelled the world and written a book or two) so you can see why Bruce was my man.

Chatwin was a bit of a literary rock star at the time, 'feted for his looks as much as his books'. A true renaissance man he worked at Sotheby's as a porter as a young man and quickly earned a reputation for having 'the eye'. He became one of the youngest ever directors of the venerable auction house before leaving to study archaeology and pursue a career in writing. When he resigned from his job at the Sunday Times he reputedly sent a telegram simply stating, 'Gone to Patagonia for six months'. Knowing Chatwin this is probably an apocryphal tale - he was never the most reliable of narrators.

His first book, 'In Patagonia', ostensibly a travel book, is a slippery beast (as much fantasy as fact) and although the bookstores are now groaning with books of 'faction', Chatwin was one of the first writers to really push those boundaries. He took this to new heights in 'Songlines', the book he wrote in 1987 about his travels in Australia and his theories on nomadism. After that I remember waiting with bated breath for the release of his subsequent books and I felt the same way when I heard about the recent release of 'Under the Sun: Letters of Bruce Chatwin'.

It's been 20 years since Chatwin died from complications associated with HIV/AIDS. He was only 48. Unlike his contemporaries Iain McEwan, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie who have been able to cement their reputations and ensure their legacies Chatwin was really only at the beginning of his career. Perhaps his early death and the fact that his books are devilishly difficult to categorise (his novels are punctuated with arcane facts and his travel/ autobiography/ history works often reads like fiction) helps explain why he has slipped into relative obscurity? I haven't read any Bruce for many years and I hope they really do stand up to the test of time. I think it's time I found out - perhaps you'd like to join me? Do you remember Bruce?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surprise, surprise...

Look what I found when I got home today! Is there anything better than receiving a 'brown paper package tied up with string'? My good blogfriend Deb sent me this bottle of pomegranate syrup just so I could try out her recipe for Fesanjoon or Persian Chicken with Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce. Wasn't that thoughtful? If you haven't already checked out Deb's site you really should. It's full of warmth, wit and a wonderful sense of joie-de-vivre (as I'm sure Deb is too).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Know Christmas Is On Its Way When...

...the deadline for getting your Softies for Mirabel to Pip is fast approaching. We just finished this little awake/asleep fella today. I did the sewing and Henry did the stuffing - most satisfying. While we were working we talked about the fact that not all kids have lots of toys/food/family to make their Christmas special. Henry thought that was most unfair and so do I. When we'd finally finished I wasn't sure whether or not Henry was going to make a fuss about keeping it himself (it's happened before) but not today. He simply held it at arms length and said, 'there, someone for a little kiddie to love'.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let the book wrangling begin...

Look at my lovely new bookcase. Tom made it a few weeks ago as part of our book wrangling project. Books have always been a bit of an issue in our house(s). With over 3,000 books between us we have so many 6 ft bookcases scattered throughout the house that we've basically run out of wall-space. That means limited opportunities to hang any kind of artwork, mirror, photos or whatever else it is that 'normal' people put on their walls. It also makes the place a bit dark.

This new floor-to-ceiling bookcase takes books from almost 3 of our standard IKEA bookcases so we now have a bit of breathing space in the house especially in the entry hall. Now we just need to re-paint the room and the bookcase the same colour (so that the bookcase recedes into the wall) then build 3 or 4 more. Once we've got this lot under control I'm planning on adopting the one in/one out principle to make sure we don't end up back where we started. How hard could that be??

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Elegant cowls...

Image via Loops Yarn

Image via katy elliott

Image via Nothing Elegant

Image via Whip Up

I realise that it is absolutely not the right time of year to be lusting after winter woollies (well not here in the Southern Hemisphere anyaway) but I keep running into these amazing cowls. To be honest I'd never even heard of cowls until recently but now I can't seem to get away from them! One of the things I really like about cowls is the way they use interesting buttons, corsages and decorative pins to keep them closed - very swish. I don't recall seeing people wearing cowls around the city this winter but perhaps I just didn't notice. We Melbournians do love our scarves but we seem to prefer long and loopy over short and neck-hugging.

If you're somewhere wintry now and would like to knit one there are hundreds of free patterns online but if re-purposing is more your thing you could try the clever 'Upcycled Scarflette' pictured above which is made from a re-fashioned cable knit jumper.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Four Simple Goals Update II

Originally uploaded to Flickr by Flor A

You may remember that some time ago I pledged to complete Four Simple Goals before the year is out. One of those goals was to get more sleep. My aim was to go to bed by 10.30 every night. As any mother of small children will tell you chronic sleep deprivation becomes the norm after a while and you find yourself regularly struggling to get 6-7 hours a sleep a night (especially when a certain someone wakes you up at 6am every single morning). By this time of year, however, my body starts to tell me in no uncertain terms that that is just not enough - I start to feel more anxious than usual (and that's really saying something!), I develop eczema and I start to find the constant juggling of work, home and family more of a struggle than usual. At times I've been so concerned about not getting enough sleep that I've jettisoned reading in bed in favour of half an hour more sleep. Before long I realised that all I was reading were newspapers and magazines (and blogs!) and that it had been many months since I'd read a book cover-to-cover.

So what's changed? Well, I can honestly say that most nights I am at least on my way to bed by 10.30 (stopping to tidy the living room, take off make-up etc) if not actually in bed. Interestingly, what I've found since I've been reading in bed again is that I drop off to sleep much more easily if I've spent some time in someone else's head. Without reading I just turn off the light and lay awake ruminating over the events of the day and worrying about things that may never happen in the future - very counterproductive. It's still a bit of a struggle to keep myself from wandering around the house doing odd-jobs at midnight but I think just being conscious that I have a choice has to be a good thing.
Are you a bit of a worry-wart too? Do you ever worry about not getting enough sleep?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Posh Pram Blankie

Now that my new little nephew has taken receipt of his blankie I can show it to you too. I used the same pattern as I did for this one but I made it a bit smaller so that it wouldn't be too bulky to use in the pram. Unfortunately I'm too far away to wrap my arms around him at the moment so this will have to do for now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

You Know Christmas Is On Its Way When...

Image from dnamuse

...the shops are full of panettone. I know you can buy panettone at specialist places thoughout the year but my addiction is such that I wait until it is absolutely impossible to avoid. I like it for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and supper. See my problem? I can polish off one a week if I'm not careful and I'm sure that's not how they were designed to be consumed. Should they be shared perhaps?

Maybe the secret to moderation is to only eat panettone (hot cross buns, mince pies) that you've made yourself. Perhaps this year I'll give it a whirl using this recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller. What do you think?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eat Your Vegies...

Image via The Kitchen Maid

Recently I've come across some outrageously, delicious looking, sweet recipes using vegetables. Who could resist things like the Spicy Parsnip and Pecan Cakes from The Kitchen Maid or the Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Frosting from The Nearsighted Owl? If that's not enough, just in time for Halloween, there's this spicy, sweet Pumpkin Pie I saw over at Petits Plaisir de la Vie.

I love my vegies anyway and would be just as happy eating this delicious dish from Cooking A Storm In A Teacup but we all know people (big and small) who need a little leg up with their vegetable intake don't we?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spoilt rotten...

Originally uploaded to Flickr by Theresa Thompson

Yesterday was my birthday and I had a lovely quiet day at home playing lego with Henry, reading and having a little nanna nap. Not that exciting for a birthday but as we tend to celebrate birthdays over a few days rather than just on the big day I felt free to do whatever I wanted. I think it's a lovely way to do things and as we all have October/ November birthdays it pretty much guarantees days full of happy celebrations from now until Christmas!

Birthday celebrations started Friday night when I got home from work to find two lovely cumquat trees in half-barrel tubs on the verandah. Saturday we had dinner at a great local restaurant (they are few and far between in out neck of the wood). We had Red Snapper with celeriac remoulade and grilled asparagus; chicken roasted with fresh thyme and served with a quinoa salad; slow cooked lamb meatballs and homemade dips and breads. For dessert we had caramelised popcorn sticks with chocolate amaretti dipping sauce and an amazing creation called a 'Ginger Wagon Wheel' which consisted of two pieces of chocolate-edged gingerbread sandwiched with fluffy marshmellow and a shock of glace ginger paste in the centre - sensational. No kids menu, starched white napkins and great coffee. When we got home I was given this book:

On Monday my friends at work took me out for afternoon tea with homemade banana cake and last night we celebrated again with chocolate ripple cake and more books. I've been coverting these for a while now...

You can have a bit of a look inside 'Recipes From An Italian Summer' here and Tessa Kiros' new book here. Talk about spoilt rotten...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Melbourne Reef

Image via Style Wilderness

Have you seen this amazing feat of crochet? It's called the Melbourne Reef and it's been created using a thing called hyperbolic crochet (very mathmatical). I noticed that kootoyoo has been at it too. It's hard to believe that this thing of beauty and diversity is made from scraps of wool, recycled plastic bags and old video and audio cassettes isn't it? If it's captured your imagination like it has mine I suggest you pop over to Style Wilderness to see more amazing photographs and find out more about this mind-bending blend of maths and handicraft.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Five Faves - the Swinging Sixties

Pip from Meet Me At Mikes is doing a musical Five Faves so I thought I'd sing along. Over the past year I've been working on an online Australian music timeline so I've spent lots of time listening to music from the 1950s onwards (pretty sweet job I know). Here are five of my all-time favourite 60s songs (not Australian I know - except the Easybeats - but my research takes me far and wide)!

God Only Knows - The Beachboys
Friday On My Mind - The Easybeats
No Milk Today - Herman's Hermits
Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks I Call Your Name - Mamas and the Papas

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In My Pantry...

My friend Deb over at Cooking Up A Storm In A Teacup has kindly invited me to take part in her meme, Orderliness and Harmony. In anticpation (and because I'm on a bit of a Spring cleaning binge) I had a bit of a poke around and threw out a few things that were past their use-by date (always the same things rice flour, custard powder and yeast). I'm certainly not into aen-like simplicity but even though it looks like everything is crammed in but I know exactly where everything is to make all my favourite foods - a very comforting thought.

1. Nigella Lawson keeps a secret stash of pigs ears in her freezer that she deep-fries for a crispy, solitary snack. Do you have anything similarly sordid in yours?

Well no, not really, but one of the things I love about Nigella is her willingness to expose her unbridled gluttony to the world. I have been known to partake in one of Nigella's other snacks (small handfuls of freshly grated parmesan baked in the oven until crisp) but my freezer is quite small and holds few surprises. Once you add some soup, casserole, chicken breasts, beef mince, frozen fish, icecream, raspberries, blueberries and icypoles it won't accept much more.
2. What foods would I always find in your fridge and why?
Eggs, parmesan, marinated feta, broccoli , tomatoes and bacon. There are other things but these are the universal family favourites - a mixture of fancy and commonplace. I also have a ridicuously large number of sauces and condiments. I try not to use too much bacon but we all love it so! I've never been much of an egg eater but the kids really love them scrambled, boiled, fried and hard-boiled and after many years avoiding them I've come around to their way of thinking. The parmesan and feta are their to turn simple into special and broccoli is the only green vegetable we all agree on (I'm a big fan of green beans too.)

3. Do you have a standby, never-fail recipe that you like to have the ingedients on hand for unexpected guests?
My favourite standby recipe is Honey-Roasted Sweet Potato and Bacon Risotto. In my experience a lot of people seem to be afraid of making risotto. I'm not sure why as I've always found it very easy and satisfying to make. I think the secret is realising that the rice should still have a little bite to it so you don't over-cook it. I roast the sweet potato tossed in honey while the rice is cooking and I also fry off the bacon separately then add them both towards the end of cooking. I find it can all get a bit too salty if you fry the bacon off with the onion at the beginning of the recipe.

4. What is your favourite comfort food?
It would have to be something warm. Revenge may be a dish best served cold but as far as I'm concerned that's about the only thing that is. There's something about cold food that leaves me, well, cold (although I am going to make an effort to improve my salad repertoire this Summer). Comfort food for me would be something lovely and warm served in a bowl - Lamb Shank and Barley Soup, risotto, tuna pasta, beef casserole on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes - something like that. If I did have to nominate a coldish food dish I'd say something very simple like sun-warmed, vine-ripened tomatoes and basil on hot buttered toast (see how I got the hot in there?).

5. Do you have a chocolate drawer or secret hoard of sweet or savoury snacks?
You mean there are people who don't?! I'm going for quality not quantity these days and favour Green and Black's Maya Gold, dark chocolate flvoured with orange and spices. I'm also partial to Lindt's mint, orange or ginger chocolate blocks and I'd never say no to a Mint Slice. They're all kept on the very top shelf of the pantry so even I have to do some exercise to access them!

6. What's inside your store cupboard? I wonder if like me you too squirrel things away like a little mammal preparing for a hard winter? Or maybe you favour zen-like sparsity. Don't you just love nosing inside someone else's cupboards?
Another thing I love about Nigella is that she frequently takes us into her enormous walk-in pantry for a squiz. I'd love to have a walk-in pantry a la Nigella but what I have is one big cupboard. In it keep all the things I need to make all our regular favourites - tins of tuna, cans of diced tomatoes, chickpeas and beans and bottles of pasta sauce also rice (basmati, arborio, brown and sushi), pasta (spaghetti, fusilli, risoni), couscous, polenta, stock, onions, garlic and potaotoes. I keep spreads in here too (Vegemite, Marmite, peanut butter, honey and Nutella) and all manner of liquid potions (Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, mirin, sushi vinegar etc) as well as things I use rarely but like to have on hand like orange blossom water and rosewater.

One whole shelf is, of course, dedicated to dry foodstuffs for baking... sugar, flour, rolled oats, coconut, dried fruits, seed and nuts. We also have an indecently large variety of breakfast cereals that perch on top of said cupboard. Zen-like sparsity? I think not but not incedible extravagance either.

So there you go a quick trip into my pantry. What's in your pantry? Do you keep your fruit and vegetables in the fridge or the pantry? What's the weirdest thing you've got in stock? I'll be tagging some friends soon to share the contents of their pantry with us too so stay tuned...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

'Kindred spirits are not as scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world'.

Anne to Marilla in 'Anne of Green Gables'

I'm more than happy to agree with Anne when it comes to kindred spirits (as blogging teaches me everyday) but I'm not sure I'm as comfortable with the idea of multiple soulmates wandering around out there! Check out this new song by Ben Folds and Nick Hornby. Don't be fooled by the catchy tune - this song packs a punch. You can find out more about the Folds/ Hornby project here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Image via

Have you been following this story? This exquisite Roman bronze ceremonial helmet with full face mask was found on farmland in the hamlet of Crosby Garrett in Cumbria earlier this year. Until recently it has been on display at the local Tullie House museum just near Hadrian's Wall. When the owner decided to sell the helmet, Tullie House undertook a fundraising campaign asking people throughout the country to donate to a fund designed to keep the helmet in Cumbria. The estimated asking price at the Christie's auction was 300,000 pounds. Within weeks the museum had raised a staggering 1.7 million pounds much of which was made up of small donations by members of the public.

As a curator myself I would say the museum's representatives went along to the auction quietly confident. Imagine their dismay when the bidding soared past their best offer and the helmet was whisked away by an anonymous phone bidder for 2 million pounds? What a crushing blow for the people of Cumbria (and the rest of the country) who had tried so hard to keep the helmet where it was used in Roman times and where it lay in wait for hundreds of years until a man with a metal detector came along. Life just isn't fair sometimes is it?

The Circle of Life...

Originally uploaded to Flickr bybill barber

On Friday I found out a friend has a family member in palliative care so I baked something nice for them - ridiculous I know but in the face of death everything seems a little ridiculous...

On Sunday I went to my youngest sister Rachel's wedding. It was a balmy Spring day by the beach and the bride and groom looked blissfully happy especially when they announced that another baby was on the way...

Today I'm waiting with bated breath for a call to say that my sister Angela has had her baby. They say that nothing is certain but death and taxes so the arrival of babies is always a welcome respite...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Songs I Can't Get Out of My Head - The Night Last Night

I heard this song on TripleJ last week (you can hear Ronson here interviewed by Richard Kingsmill) and I can't get it out of my head. Not the best quality video but as it's only a new song there's not much out there yet. Mark Ronson is best known as a turntablist and producer of such people as Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Robby Williams and his new album 'Record Collection' draws on the talents of many of his famous friends.

PS: If you've received this post by email and can't see the clip just click on either the title of the post or the 'Bird With The Golden Seed' banner at the top of the email to go straight to the blog to view.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The dark side...

I've gone over to the dark side... Not only am I crocheting instead of knitting but I'm using acrylic yarn. I've always been aware of a bit of an 'us' and 'them' thing between knitters and crocheters although hopefully there's not too many knitters in the world like the crazy couple in this hilarious clip. Many knitters - and I include myself in this - also have a bit of thing about using acrylic yarn (too squeeky, doesn't always wash and wear well) but the very talented Sarah London and Lucy from Attic24 have convinced me that the world won't stop turning if I indulge in a little acrylic stitchery.

Armed with this new confidence I headed down to Spotlight to buy some cheap and cheerful acrylic yarn. Acrylic yarn comes in a seemingly infinite range of colours and at between $2-$5 for a 100gram ball it's a steal. It's very difficult to find truly colour-saturated wool and when you do you often need to take out a second mortgage on the house to pay for it. So far so good. These are the colours we bought although we didn't end up using the yellow.

The blanket I made is Lucy's Granny Stripe Blanket made from continuous rows of treble stitch clusters. It's dead easy and grows incredibly quickly. I've made mine a bit smaller than Lucy's -more a large lap blanket than the double bed size she made. It only took a couple of hours a night while watching TV (box set of 'Bones') and voila, two weeks later I had this...

I haven't sewn in the ends yet or crocheted a border but it's already in high demand in the living room. I'm not used to buying such large balls of yarn (I'm used to wool in what now seem small 25gm balls) so I have oodles left for further projects...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Swirly Scarf

Thanks for all your great comments about growing blueberries! I think you should all go out and buy one or two and we can grow them together, comparing notes as we go. As I mentioned in my reply comments, the tag on the plant said that one bush can supply 3-4 kg in a good season - that's a lot of blueberries! I'll keep you posted about our successes/ failures and hopefully by mid-summer we will all have blueberries coming out our ears -or not.

On another subject entirely some time ago I mentioned that I wanted to crochet this swirly scarf - well here it is elegantly modelled by Isabella. As it is the first thing I've ever really crocheted (apart from edging on knitted pieces) I'm really thrilled with the result.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Four Simple Goals Update

At the beginning of September I pledged to complete Four Simple Goals by the end of the year. I've been a bit slow getting started but this weekend I finally cracked Goal no. 4 - ressurect the vegie garden. Taking advantage of this weekend's glorious Spring weather weekend we traipsed off to Bunnings to buy some seedlings, seed raising mix and compost. I wanted to plant an edible garden so we only bought things we love to eat - tomatoes (Grosse Lisse, Sweet Cherry and Roma), strawberries, blueberries, rocket and dwarf lemon and orange trees. We also planted lettuce and beetroot seeds and added mint and parsley to our herb garden. The kids had a great time planting the seeds in yoghurt pots they'd been saving all week and I'm very excited about the possibility of keeping us in blueberries over Summer. Have you ever grown blueberries before? Any tips?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stringing a few words together...

Exterior, National Gallery of Victoria promoting the Stadel Museum exhibition (I haven't had time to see that yet either!)

Sometimes it's hard to find time to string more than a few words together (or worse still to take photos, upload them, find and insert links etc) while still having time to play with the kids, go to work, get some crafting done and keep the house running. It's been one of those weeks...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kids In The Kitchen...

Every school holidays we try and spend at least one day together in the kitchen. We choose a number of different things to make none of which take too long and all of which give us lots of breaks in between stages. Yesterday we started with cupcakes. I think you can tell from this photo just how excited Henry was...

Of course licking the beaters is one the best fringe benefits...

Although licking the icing off is pretty good too..

After a bit of a run around outside and a trip to the supermarket we made pizza dough. The kids loved the kneading process and kept checking to see if the dough had risen over the next couple of hours. Look at the concentration on those little faces - Junior Masterchefs in the making! The Hawaiian and Margherita pizzas they made were delicious...

...and we finished dinner with the kids favourite desert, 'Frog In A Pond' which we made earlier in the day while the cupcakes were cooling. We let the jelly set a little too long so they were more 'Frog On A Pond' but they do look sweet don't they?

Run Caz Run...

Originally uploaded to Flickr by By id-iom

Today I went for a run. I've never been for a run before. Ever. Tom always jokes that in all the years he's known me he's never seen me break into a run. I always joke that he never will but lately I've had an unexplicable desire to feel the wind in my hair. I just couldn't work out how to fit it in. Henry already gets up at 6am every morning and I just can't bring myself to get up any earlier than that and I don't fancy running after dark so today we ALL went for a run. I was totally amazed by how far and how fast the kids could both run! We ran much further than I thought we would before the kids had to slow down but once they had a little rest they were off again. We all had so much fun that we've decided to make it a regular weekend activity. Who knows - maybe next time I'll even catch up to Isabella.