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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Girl Power Bronte-style...

The Bronte sisters like you have never seen them before...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Praise of Nannies

Images sourced from:

As a child I often wondered what it would be like to have a nanny. Not just any nanny mind you - not like those absent-minded nannies in 'Peter Pan' who leave their charges behind in Kensington Gardens - I mean a magical nanny like Mary Poppins, Phoebe Figalily or Nanny McPhee.
From a child's point of view the greatest drawback of parents is surely that they are always so busy - not now darling, in a minute sweetie - whereas a nanny's sole reason for being is to pay attention to you! Imagine if that nanny could also clean up your bedroom with the click of her fingers, take you on outings through chalk drawings or make your pet donkey dance - bliss.

My first nanny-crush was undoubtedly Mary Poppins (of the Julie Andrews variety). Her bottomless carpet-bag, magical umbrella and extremely turned out feet fascinated me. Next came Phoebe Figalily (Juliet Mills) in the the 1970s television show, 'Nanny and the Professor'. Do you remember her? Unlike Mary Poppins, Phoebe Figalily's magic was less showy - no magic umbrella or stick just an uncanny ability to foretell the future.

Nanny McPhee is a recent but very welcome acquaintance. Like Mary and Phoebe she has that wonderfully British ability to remain calm in a crisis and turn seemingly impossible situations to her advantage. I also love the way they empower their charges to come to their own conclusions. All three have an air of mystery about them - where did they come from and how long have they been around? Of course we will never know and perhaps it's not that important anyway. I just can't wait until the wind changes again bringing Mary Poppins back to Melbourne.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Envelope Project

Here is the envelope I'm sending Pip over at Meet Me At Mikes. It's not much but I know it will be received in the same spirit it was sent - that's what Pip's like. I first started reading Pip's blog way back when she had her shop in Richmond. I used to drive past the shop on my way to work and admire her quirky window displays so out of character with the rest of the street. Without Pip I wouldn't be blogging and I wouldn't have meet the lovely people behind Cooking Up A Storm In A Tea Cup, Curbside Style, Maybe Next Week, Cloudbusting, Katiecrackernuts and Style Wilderness. So thanks Pip - hope you like the envelope!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feeling tarty...

Gordon Ramsay's Cherry Clafoutis on Gluten Free Day.

Lately I 've been on a bit of a dessert bender which is a bit odd really as we are not traditionally a dessert family. Most meals end with fresh fruit but the cold weather has sent me into a baking frenzy. It all started innocently enough with a little Gordon Ramsay cherry clafoutis. I've made many clafoutis before but this one is definately the best. I think the secret ingredient is the almond meal. Many other recipes are really more like a baked custard but the almond meal really lifts the dish.

I do love almond meal and always have it in the fridge so it was only a small step to making a chocolate tart with almond pastry. Lo and behold the recipe yielded far too much pastry so of course I had to use it to make a lemon tart which disappeared faster than I could whip the camera out!

Last night I made Sticky Date Pudding - the first but probably not the last for the year. I used Jamie Oliver's Sticky Toffee Pudding as a starting point but I chopped the dates rather than puree them and replaced the caster sugar with brown sugar and the Ovaltine for orange zest. The result was delicious but as usual I forgot that we are not a family of 8 and I now face the prospect of eating it again today (how terrible).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pure joy...

These are the moments I would bottle if only I had the recipe...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Study in Black

Silhouette portrait of Jane Austen

'Poised', 2010 by Rebecca Mayo. Cotton screenprint with mistletoe dye, felted recycled jumper, thread and paper in found frame.

'For the Love of the Sea', 2010 by Jen Kee

Roman historian Pliny the Elder tells a lovely story about a Corinthian woman, who farewelling her lover by firelight, catches a glimpse of his profile on the wall. Desiring to capture the image she reaches out and grabs a piece of charcoal from the fire filling in his shadow. I love the idea of this romantic pre-photography way of capturing a beloved's image.

The Georgians and Victorians loved it too as a sort of cheap, DIY verison of portraiture. You may remember the scene in Emma Thompson's film version of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility where Marianne lovingly traces Willoughby's silhouette. There are many historical examples in museums like the V&A but I think it's great that artists such as Jen Kee and Rebecca Mayo (above) are still using the idea to inform new works of art.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bedside Bound...

These are just a few titles I'm looking forward to adding to my already very long list of books to read.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Part 2: The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Basketball Net

Woke up bleary-eyed after a restless night. Tea wasn't going to cut it this morning so I opted for a strong mocha. I looked out the window to see what state the basketball net was in just in time to see a small bird alight on the hoop. Within seconds the bird had severed what was left of the net from the hoop and left it dangling in a nearby tree. Who did this little critter think he was?

I needed help and I knew just where to find it. Enter Simpson & Day's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia.

Hastily thumbing through its contents I found just what I was looking for. The bird in question was a female Red Wattlebird, its habitat listed as 'forests, woods, suburbs'.

According to Simpson & Day, the Red Wattlebird (a member of the Honeyeater/ Australian Chats family) is at the beginning its breeding season. So the motive may well have been creative not destructive - I'd been on the wrong track all along. Somewhere nearby I hope there is a very warm nest made from twigs and red, white and blue man-made fibres waiting to become the home of some lovely little Red Wattlebird chicks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Basketball Net: Part 1

It was a day like any other. Sitting at the kitchen table, I was sipping my customary cup of tea looking out at the garden when my eye was drawn to something strange outside. At first I couldn't quite put my finger on it but I knew that something was not quite right. Then I saw it - the sad remnants of the basketball net hanging forlornly from the basketball hoop.

I first noticed that the net had been damaged after the Great Hail Storm of early 2010 but that didn't explain the current sorry state of the net. Cautiously, I ventured outside to see if the culprit had left any clues but the clues were few and far between - no debris on the ground, no footprints, no fingerprints. Damn they were good. Determined to get to the bottom of things I drew up a list of suspects.

Suspect No.1 - 'Boom Boom' Bella so-called because of her fiery temper. Height 120cm. Motive: known to blame the hoop for her own shortcomings. Overheard to say, 'the hoop is too high' and 'the net keeps getting in the way'.Opportunity: Plenty (but lack of height a disadvantage).

Suspect No.2 - 'Happy-Go-Lucky' Henry. Height 115cm. Motive: Unclear - never shown any real interest in the hoop. Opportunity: Small, rarely unsupervised.

Suspect No.3 - 'Towering' Tom. Height 5' 11". Motive: Unclear - purchaser of said hoop. Opportunity: Plenty (with height on his side).

The more I studied my list of suspects the less likely they seemed to fit the bill. The gradual nature of the disappearance seemed to rule them out for starters. How could I not notice members of my own household systematically sabaotaging sports equipment in my own front yard? I needed to sleep on it. Perhaps tomorrow I would see things in a different light.

Camellia Hat

Inspired by my amazing camellias I made this little hat for my neighbour's new baby girl, April. I hope she likes it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Five Faves

Here are the five things that have me excited this week.

1. News of a breast cancer vaccine. This could actually be my 1, 2, 3, 4 &5! What a fantastic breakthrough. I cried when I heard the news.

Bag via Sarah London via Creative Knitting magazine

2. The vibrant world of Sarah London and her amazing eye for beautiful crochet and knitting.

3. This fabulous scarf on The Royal Sisters blog - perhaps I should make one? I've also been enjoying Michelle's other blog Loving the Vintage.

4. It's Winter exhibition season so I 'm excited about seeing the Titanic exhibition at Melbourne Museum, the ABBA World exhibition at Federation Square and the European Masters from the Stadel Museum show at the NGV.

5. I'm also loving the blog Elegant Sufficiency where journalist Stephanie Wood writes so beautifully (and generously) about food and life.

For more Five Faves inspiration head over to Meet Me At Mikes!