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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Haunting melody...

Over the past few weeks I've been learning a wonderfully sinuous neo-classical dance to this beautiful piece of music by Lisa Gerrard. I just can't seem to get it out of my head...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This week...

I finally got around to starting the swirly scarf I first mentioned way back here. I've had this wool for ages but have never been quite sure what to do with it (an impulse buy when it was on special). Even though I'm a crochet novice things seem to be coming along nicely.

I've also been checking out this lovely book by Silvena Rowe. I saw it reviewed in Epicure yesterday and loved the sound of Silvena's artistic take on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Recipes mentioned in the review include Pink Peppercorn Meringues with Mulberries, Rose Petal Ice-cream and a tomato salad flavoured with pomegranate seeds, sumac, cumin and pomegranate molasses - yum.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the cusp...

Originally uploaded to Flickr by Los Cardinalos

The events of the past couple of days have left me feeling quite flat. I like to know whose running the country when I go to bed on election night but no such luck this time. It's like going to the footy to see your team win and coming away with a draw -you haven't actually lost but you haven't won either. It's very unsatisfying for all concerned!

I'm not cool with this limbo thing. I like a bit of certainty. Today Spring was definately trying to make its presence felt but there was sun, rain, wind, clouds, blue sky and rainbows. The moon is just about full...but not quite. I'm glad tomorrow is Monday.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Idle hands...

Image via the purl bee

You know what they say people, the Devil makes work for idle hands so I plan on keeping mine busy. Here's a few places I've found inspiration...

- I've already made three of these great crochet cuffs from over at kootoyou - one in black, one in orange and one in pink. I'm planning on doing some more in cotton and maybe 4 ply wool for a lacy-er look.

- I'm definately going to invest in Joelle Hoverson's (of Purl Soho) new book More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. You can see some of the patterns in the picture above.

- I've also been checking out iCrochet a new blog full of links to other people's crochet projects (I think it has been set up by the indefatigable Sarah London.

- Finally, I'm having difficulty deciding what to make from this amazing list of baby knits in the last Whip-Up newsletter. I really like the look of some of those kimono jackets.

What are you doing to keep your hands busy?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Do You Know Rosie Flo?

Today the kids both got new colouring books. Not just any colouring books mind you but Rosie Flo's and Johnny Joe's colouring books. Illustrator Roz Streeton first started making these incredibly imaginative drawings for her young daughters. They have a lovely Victorian/Edwardian feel to them just like those amazing illustrated catalogues of household items people used to order things from last century.

Unlike other colouring books where all the drawing work is done for you, with Rosie Flo's children get to personalise the characters by drawing in their own face, arms and legs. It's amazing what a difference this makes - check out the Rosie Flo Gallery to see what I mean.

These cute drawings by Isabella are from the the 'Kitchen' book. Isabella likes to do the drawing first then follow up with a colouring session. Henry is all about colouring. He had so much fun creating this lolly shop.

I know what we'll be doing tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pin-up Girls

I recently finished reading 'Our Girls: Aussie Pin-ups of the 40s and 50s' by Madeleine Hamilton, a fascinating account of the women who posed for pin-up photos both during and after World War II. The book looks at the changing motivations of these women and is full of wonderful details of the era gleaned from first-hand accounts, fan letters, photographs, newspapers and magazines.

What comes through most strongly during the Second World War section is that many girls posed for photographs out of a sense of 'patriotic duty'. These girls were not models but ordinary girls who were seen as representing 'the flower of our young womanhood' - fit, tanned, simple and direct. These were different, pre-feminist times. Names and addresses were published alongside photographs of pin-up girls and many girls recieved mail from servicemen both in Australia and overseas. Some were 'adopted' as company mascots and entered into routine correspondence with soldiers. They also received lots of local fan-mail which some girls found amusing -others found it intrusive.

After the War things changed somewhat. Some girls decided to pursue fashion and photographic modelling professionally although for most girls the beauty and beach contests sponsored by local newspapers during the 1950s merely represented a moment in time between 'girlhood and marriage'. Addresses continued to be published and girls continued to recieve fan-mail. Looking through some family photos yesterday I came across just such a letter! It was dated 6 May 1963 and was addressed to my 22 year old mother (before she met Dad). It was from a boy called 'Les' and starts:

'I hope that you will forgive me for writing this letter to you but I saw your photograph in 'The Herald' last week and as I will be in Melbourne next week I am taking the liberty of inviting you to come to the pictures with me on Thursday evening.'

The letter goes on with Les explaining a little about himself and suggesting that they meet in front of the Myer department store in Bourke Street at 7.30pm (I'm not sure whether or not the newspaper mentioned that Mum worked at Myer or whether it was just a convenient central meeting place). I'm pretty sure Mum would not have turned up for the date and I wonder what my grandparents would have made of it.

Ah, the secret life of parents!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Five Things That Made Me Smile...

Image: bricolagelife

1. Seeing someone knitting in public. She was knitting a very fine blue-and-white striped sock quite unselfconsciously chatting away to her non-knitting friends while they ate lunch.

2. Going to a staff meeting where a digital presentation without sound was being played and having someone jump up and play an impromptu soundtrack on the piano.

3. Watching Henry's little face beam as he realised he could reach a whole range of shelves this week that were previously unreachable.

4. Dropping into Meet Me At Mikes to buy a crochet hook like this one only to find Pip in the window taking down all the lovely envelopes from The Envelope Project - we had a nice little chat.

5. Finding out a little more about Sandra from bricolagelife over here and visiting her shops over here and here. You should take a peek too.

Hope you've had a great couple of weeks too!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Apples Ain't Apples

Originally uploaded to Flickr by *clairity*

'Australia smelt of apple. Ripe, green, crisp apples.
A smell so sharp and sweet it made my teeth tingle.'

Queenie visiting the Australian pavillion at the British Empire
Exhibition in the book 'Small Island' by Andrea Levy, 2004

I loved these sentences the first time I read them. For me childhood does smell of apples (and horses and freshly cut grass, dirt roads after the rain...). My mother always used to tell me that when she was pregnant with me she had strong cravings for apples. I'm not sure what kind of apples but there never seemed to be a shortage of Granny Smiths and Jonathans around the place.

I still love my Jonathans (although like many people I've been seduced by the delicious Pink Lady) so I was dismayed to read the other day that Jonnies are in danger of being phased out of production because they don't store well. I'd never really given much thought to natural things 'going out of production'. For some reason I've always been aware of new varieties coming through but not of old varieties disappearing.

Last week I stumbled across an article in the Epicure section of 'The Age' about the Santos Museum of Economic Botany at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The museum first opened in 1888 and was set up as an educational institution designed to show people what could be grown in the new colony. After a long hiatus the Museum was recently restored and re-opened. One of its chief attractions is a collection of almost 350 19th century papier-mache apples and pears with names like Schwarzenbach's Summer Pearmain, Coulon's Reinette and Beauty of Borshop. Lovely aren't they? But as the journalist explained,'They sit in a musuem case, and like the dodo and the thylacine, these apples are long extinct...these models are now ghosts of flavours and aromas we will never taste or smell.' What a melancholy thought.

So if you love your apples do try out new varieties but don't forget your old favourites and if you're planting fruit trees maybe give the heritage varieties a go? In the meantime you might like to make this 'Caramelised Apple Upside Down Cake'. It's kind of a cross between a tea cake and a Tarte Tartin and can be served hot as a dessert or at room temperature with a cup of tea!

Caramelised Apple Upside Down Cake


1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2-4 apples (depending on size)


1 1/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
80 grams butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
few drops of vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk


1. Preheat oven to 190C.

2. Peel and core apples then cut them into 8ths.

3. Melt butter in 20 cm round cake pan and spinkle with brown sugar. Arrange apple slices in a nice pattern on top of the butter and sugar making sure to cover the entire surface.

4. To make cake, cream butter and sugar together then add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.

5. Sift in flour and baking powder, alternating with milk. Mix to combine then pour mixture over apples .

6. Bake for 45 mins or until skewer comes out clean when tested.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The start of something big...I hope...

This is my first fumbling attempt at a granny square. I've been teaching myself using Pip's book and online tutorials. As you can see I had a bit of trouble with the corners and with changing colours but I figure practise makes perfect! I'm hoping to work my way up to making something like this or this for Bella. Bella has seen me make enough rugs to know that this one won't be warming her until next Winter but she's cool with that.
Are you making anything at the moment (or making plans to make something)?