Friday, February 29, 2008


Pina wrote about words today and it's strange because that's what I wanted to include too, words.

When we lived in London on the tube they had poems reproduced on the walls, from current and years before, written by various travellers. They've started to do something similar on our trains here in Melbourne. Two displayed on the wall of the carriage I rode in on the way home from work today read as follows - I wrote them on the back of my ticket.

Mind your feet
under the concrete
history sleeps

and the other

Between me and the moon
the fog
leaves only fence posts

Are they haiku's - I forget the criteria for one and I'm too lazy to look it up!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Ella found it on the beach near the Pass at Byron.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Geoff gets out to gigs semi regularly but the last time I went was about 2 years ago to see the Shins at the Corner Hotel. Last night we went to see Feist at The Prince of Wales. I was heavily pregnant with Leila last time she was here in an even smaller venue, after the release of Let it Die. We really discussed it but I couldn't contemplate standing up for hours at that time. Last night was great, didnt get to bed until after 1am but am glad we made the effort. I felt a bit naff taking photos but thought it would be fun to share them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I visited a favourite shop of mine today and stocked up on fabric. I find that I have to shop to a definite list, definite projects at least, otherwise it's all too easy to buy oodles of fabric simply because it's all so delicious without "needing" them. Perhaps if I had buckets of cash I could have a store cupboard full of these lovelies, but really I do try and limit myself somewhat.

The last doll I sold went to a lovely lady in California and she's commissioned me to make another doll - my very first commission! She let me know what colours she'd like and I hope she likes the choices I've made for her. It's hard when choosing with someone elses wishes in mind - what I think may be exactly perfect may not meet the image she has - but I'm sure we'll meet at a happy ending.

Part of me really wishes I had the drive to push the dolls more - that I could really get them out there. I think they're gorgeous, I take such pride in the making of them, really believe that they are made beautifully, but until they take off I'm not sure that others feel the same. It's not a financial thing as I would certainly not get rich making them, it's just such a thrill having someone buy what you make and be happy with it.

I know I've spoken of this before, but I just love the idea of making a living from my own talent. In my mind it's a cafe, that's always been the goal, but it's still a few years off. Once both girls are in school that's the time I could focus on starting a small venture of my own. Again, it's not a financial desire, although obviously I'd want to do well, it's just the sense of satisfaction from steering my own destiny. I'm not sure how it is where you all live but there is a huge difference between a good and a poor cafe. There are many who simply buy everything in - they all stock the same cakes, the same biscuits, they're all mass produced, all bland and showing no passion. I want a cafe because I love to cook and I love to make people feel special with the things I make. I want a cafe where the muffins and biscuits are baked a few times during the day. The specials are not what the wholesaler had a glut of that week so reduced to move, but they're seasonal items made by me according to what was delicious. It won't be a huge place, but it will be warm, welcoming, kid friendly, quality focussed. I will be sure that everyone gets a hello when they arrive and a warm goodbye when they leave. The place will look good, smell good and sound good. You'll feel so let down if you visit and we're closed, you'll make a note in your diary of our opening hours, you'll tell all your friends about us. That's the kind of place it's going to be.

After dinner performance

Don't all little girls love to dance? Mine certainly do. This was an impromptu performance post a lovely dinner in Banglow on holiday. There wasn't a huge crowd, but those who were there didn't deter her.

We love music and dance in this house, although aren't gifted in either category - the adults that is. The love of it doesn't imply a talent for it. I have a good ear and am good at harmony and was involved in choir and madrigals throughout my high school years, but am not particularly soulful even though tuneful. Geoff has amazing knowledge of music, passion for it, but isn't a singer or musician in any form, at any time.

Ella seems to have a love of and gift for music and dance, but who knows what that will mean over time. This week we started a dance class for small girls with a friend of hers and she loved it - we'll go from there. It's hard to know, don't you think, how much to encourage or push a child's interest in something or gift for it. I draw analogies to child stars in various fields, from Tiger Woods to Tatum O'Neal - how much was child driven and how much parent driven - are there 4 year olds truly passionate about golf or is an interest pushed by parents? I am a bit of a dabbler, always have been, and don't have much application to things, it's something I really dislike about my personality, I don't have much staying power and I hope the girls aren't like that, only because I dislike it in myself. I certainly want to encourage interest in all things and don't want to push, but would hope for more dedication that I myself have shown. Not sure if you can "encourage" those traits though, if they're genetic, or a disposition. What do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

My opposites

I have one of each. One is super blonde with blue eyes. One is super brown with brown eyes. While on holiday I had both girls with me in the wine shop while Geoff was off getting something else. I noticed the check out lady looking at me oddly and thought perhaps she didn't like the girls amongst the bottles. When I went to pay she continued to look at me, and the girls, oddly. Eventually she asked "are they both yours?" gesturing at the girls. I don't take offence at such things, but I did find it amusing that someone would actually ask. The answer, by the way, is most definitely, yes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

PIF Thankyou

Last year I was lucky enough to be one of the 3 to "win" Tanya's PIF exchange. Seeing what beautiful products she makes I felt lucky, but on returning from our holiday I realised just how lucky I was.

Thank you so much Tanya. I must now get a move on with my own PIF IOU's.

We're Back

Home again and the pace starts to revert to normal, routines return. Although it's nice to be spontaneous, drag bedtimes out a little later, be relaxed about swims after dinner, all the treats that are holidays, I think we all find the return to "normality" somewhat refreshing. The girls were so happy to be home, renewing acquaintances with toys, their rooms, just so obviously happy to be back in their own space.

We'll return to days that aren't marked by pastries with breakfast, morning and/or afternoon tea at a cafe, special drinks, icecreams after dinner, special snacks with drinks.

Byron was, as ever, relaxing. It's not as it would be without two small girls, you don't linger over drinks at the pub as much as you would have, we couldn't laze on the beach for long as the sun was simply too hot for them, in fact we couldn't sit together for any period of time whatsoever. Ella is a water babe and wanted to be in the surf every moment while Leila, it turns out, is a beachcomber. We tried a tip from my mum and put her on the hard sand first and it didn't bother her at all after that. From that moment on she was off, without a backward glance, collecting stones and shells for every moment we were there.

Geoff went for a run or swim most days and I had a lymphatic facial for an hour on the 3rd day and an hour's massage on the last day. We all had our treats.

Brunswick Heads hotel - I think the best pub in the whole of Australia. Dinner at Fresca at the Bangalow Hotel - delicious prawns we could have eaten until we burst. Espresso Head still makes the best coffee in Byron. Ella adored Macadamia Castle! Harvest at Newrybar inspired me to knock our house down and build from scratch, although I found the food and coffee a little disappointing.

We're home again but the holiday isn't over. We'll have a catch up washing, tidying, getting organised day today, but Geoff has another few days at home this week, so we're determined to hang on to our holiday feeling a little longer. I have other news to share, but have to wait a few days to do so. I must confess that I didn't take so many great photos, I feel I've lost the knack with scenery shots and I know a few friends were keen to remember Byron via me, so I'm sorry if they disappoint. The snaps in this post are all taken before sunset on the first day after fish and chips on the foreshore in front of the pub.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beach Baby Beach

Ella loves the beach. She loves the sand, she adores jumping in the surf with her daddy.

Leila freaks out when you put her on the sand. She claws at your legs and tries to climb up you like a cat sometimes does up a curtain.

Tomorrow we're heading to Byron Bay for a week and we were hoping to spend a lot of time on the beach. When we get back I'll let you know how successful we were.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Favourite Passage no 1

I have favourite books. I also have favourite passages and usually one is from the other. Lindsay mentioned something the other day which made me think about these favourite words and start looking them up. I can't say why they move me, but they all do. This one brings me to tears.

From "The Snow Leopard" by Peter Matthiessen

"Lovely in person and spirit, a gifted writer and wonderful teacher with a passionate, inquiring mind, exceptionally intelligent and kind - such was the view of all who knew her well. One friend remarked, "She has no mud on her soul". Yet at times, there was an above-life quality as if she were practising for the day when the higher state that she aspired to must come. To live with a saint is not difficult, for a saint makes no comparisons, but saintlike aspiration presents problems. I found her goodness maddening, and behaved badly. My days with D were tainted with remorse; I could not abide myself when near her, and therefore took advantage of my work to absent myself on expeditions all around the world - once I went away for seven months. Yet love was there, half-understood, never quite finished; the end of respect that puts relationships to death did not occur.

The sword light on the peaks brings back the snows of Courchevel, in the French Alps, where we went skiing just a year before D died. It was a happy trip, and gave us new hope for the future. From Courchevel we drove to Geneva, from where she would fly to America the next day. I was on my way to Italy, to sell a small farmhouse in the mountains of Umbria where she refused to go.

In the dark winter afternoon, in the old quarter of Geneva, we discovered a most beautiful bowl in a shop window, seven elegant thin black fishes in calligraphic design on old white and pale blue; the bowl, fired at Istafahan in the thirteenth century, seemed to float in the hands like an old leaf. But it was too expensive, and I found her something else. Next morning, her plane left an hour before mine, and in this interim, carried away by the drama of our parting, I telephoned the antique shop and arranged to buy the Istafahan bowl, which was eventually sent on to Italy to be carried home. The delicate thing was a symbol of a new beginning, and I meant to surprise D with it on her birthday, but when that day came we quarrelled, and the bowl, put away for a better occasion, was forgotten altogether as the reconciliation was followed by new crisis; an exhausted decision to divorce was made on a late summer's morning just five months before her death. That decision was firm, we made it calmly and were both relieved. The very next day, acting on an imperious inner command, I made a commitment to D, this for good. She understood; sipping coffee in the sun, she merely nodded.

It seems to me now that this mystifying command was related to an earlier intuition. For several years the certainty had deepened that my life was rushing toward a drastic change, and the strength of the premonition made me wonder if I was going to die. I had spoken to a few friends of the foreshadowing, and was working intensely on a book on Africa, knowing that very soon the work must stop: I wanted to finish while all research and impressions were fresh in my head. The book went to the typist on the day before D's first entry into the hospital, in late November, and I did not write again for nearly a year.

In the autumn, D had begun to suffer from obscure pains that the doctors could not identify; she grew thin, wide-eyed, very beautiful. She came home from hospital in early December, when no clues to her pain were found, but two weeks later metastatic cancer was discovered, and she entered another hospital just before Christmas. She was frightened and depressed, and wished desperately to know that the love I felt for her was not just pity, that it had been there in some measure all along. I remembered the Istafahan bowl.

On Christmas Eve, I had gone home to patch together some sort of Christmas for the children, but I forgot to bring the bowl back to New York. Had I given it to her earlier, she would have understood just what it meant; but by January, D was in such pain and heavily sedated that any sort of present seemed forlorn. She scarcely knew friends who came to visit; what could she make of a bowl she had seen just once, on another continent, a year before? I had missed a precious chance, and I remember that as I propped her up in bed, coaxing her to concentrate, then opened up the box and placed the bowl in her hands, my heart was pounding. I could scarcely bear to watch how D stared at the bowl, grimacing in the effort to fight off the pain, the drugs, the consuming cancer in her brain. But when I prepared to take it back, she pressed it to her heart, lay back like a child smiling, eyes shining, and in a whisper got one world out "Swit-zerland!"

She Amazes Me

Leila babe is only 13 months old, what she can do amazes me. She is far too knowing and much too cheeky for someone so young.

She is very much a girl. She loves to dress up in any item of clothing she can get her hands on. In these it's her sister's skirt as a poncho and Ella's kinder hat to finish it off.

Lead Time

I like a lot of lead time when organising things. Ella and I start talking about her birthday party in the early part of the year and it's not until October.

I am a list person. I love organising dinner parties, parties of any kind, any "event". I dream of owning my own cafe one day and know I'd be a success. I do wonder if a job working for a catering company wouldn't be perfect for me, if I had my time over.

Coincidentally as well as being my mother in law's 70th this month, my own mum's 70th is in late April and I'm already getting organised. These invitations are rather low key, but I think they're cute.

Belated Recipe

Back in December I mentioned that it wasn't Christmas for me without panettone. I promised a couple of people the recipe back then but it's only today, when I have none left in the freezer and I'm about to make some more, that I'm getting around to it. You see, it's not just a Christmas thing for me, it's an everyday treat.

The recipe I used is, amazingly, from a Donna Hay magazine and it's been brilliant. I say amazingly because overall I find that her magazines are representations, ideas or assemblies rather than true recipes - this one is an exception.

Panettone (adapted from Donna Hay issue 12)

2tsps dried yeast
1 cup (250ml/8 fl oz) warm milk
1tsp caster sugar
3 1/2 cups of plain (all purpose) flour
pinch salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g softened butter
1 tbs finely grated organge rind
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup sultanas
milk for brushing

Place the yeast, milk and sugar in a bowl, stirring to combine. Leave for 5 minutes until foamy. Sift half the flour and hte salt into a bowl and add the yeast mixture stirring until fully combined. Cover and place in a warm spot for 45 minutes or until spongy and risen.

Add the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, then stir in the remaining flour and the soft butter. Place the dough in the bowl of an electric mixer and using a dough hook, knead for 8-10 minutes. Alternatively knead the dough by hand for 10-15 minutes until springy, soft but not sticky (add a bit more flour if needed)
My note here, I do this by hand and it is a little hard to work with to begin with and offputting if you're unfamiliar with the recipe. It kind of separates, goes rubbery and looks like you've done something wrong. Be patient, work the dough, add a tbs of flour at a time if it's really unmanageable and it will come back.

Preheat the oven to 190C or 375F. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and stand for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and add the dried fruit and orange rind.
My note here again. The recipe says that you then make it into your individual panettone, but I like to let it rise again with the fruit, so I leave another 45 minutes I guess - but you can just let it rise in the bags/tins.

Chop the mixture into 6 roll into a balla nd place into a muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity). Allow to rise ina warm place for 45 minutes brush each with milk and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and baked through.
My note again - I certainly get a lot more than 6, more like 12 for me, in those muffin tins.

Enjoy every morning for breakfast toasted with lashings of butter and a hot cup or tea or coffee on the side.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


My favourite fruit are white nectarines.

My favourite vegetables, I have two, are asparagus (steamed with butter and salt) and fennel, shaved thin in a salad with olive oil, balsamic, plenty of salt and pepper.

My favourite perfume for years has been Chanel No 5 for daytime, Coco Chanel for nightime and Clarins Eau Dynamisante for straight after the shower.

My favourite facial products are made by an Australian company called Aesop.

My favourite non alcoholic drink is coffee, a strong cafe latte with 1/2 a sugar. I have at least 3 a day. My favourite non alocholic drink would be a toss up between a delicious glass of champagne (or good Sparkling Australian) or a full bodied red like a shiraz.

My favourite season is winter - still wonder how we ended up on the wrong side of the world.

My favourite flower is a gardenia. To this day I regret that my mother talked me out of having them in my wedding bouquet saying the perfume was too strong.

My favourite time of the day is morning and my favourite meal breakfast. I'm not a nightowl - never have been.

My favourite travel destination - there are so many for so many different things - but New York, Vancouver, Paris and Antwerp would be four of them.

My favourite singer for years has been Sarah McLachlan, since living in Canada back in, gosh,1992, but I don't listen to her as much now - still love the memories that her music evokes. Current favourites include Feist, Frou Frou and The Kings of Convenience.

Favourite thing - travelling with my loved ones.

Favourite dream - having enough money so that Geoff doesn't have to work anymore and the four of us can just hang together all the time. Life, the boring bits like work and bills, gets in the way of being together I find.


It's my mother in law's 70th birthday next weekend, but the family celebration was last night. We had a catered dinner at my sister in law's house.

Can you believe that we had four digital cameras with us last night and progressively, ours being the first, they all failed on us. Darn the rechargeable battery, we just don't seem to have any luck with ours. No whole family photos, none of my own little family which I wanted so much. We never get one of the four of us together and the one time I felt photo worthy (I had my hair done yesterday!) the gods were against me!

I think Helen had a nice time, as long as she has her family around her, the job is 99% done.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


An artist uses what is to hand.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Delicious Jerk

Have these ingredients sitting around? Delish dinner last night from December '07's Delicious magazine - a must try.

The Pleasure of Green

In September of this year we will have lived here for four years, time has gone fast. This is our first home and it was a compromise in terms of location. The house itself is a good size, but it's on a subdivided block so our back yard is very small but our front the same as all our neighbours. We weren't concerned when we bought it because we knew that although we'd love a huge yard, not everyone likes the maintenance so didn't anticipate any problems onselling.

It wasn't exactly a feature - the back yard. We bought the property from a couple with one young child who had removed all the mature trees from the front yard to feng shuie and left the back yard alone. I could see exactly how I wanted it to be from the moment we first looked at the place - a green oasis.

The old lady who lived here when the block was subdivided wanted to still be able to bring her car onto the property and therefore she concreted the whole back yard - the whole back yard. It was covered in pressed thick, thick concrete from the house to the fence in all directions. It took us the first two years to remove it, concrete cutting, sledge hammers, layer upon layer of horror.
This is what it looked like previously - everywhere.

This is what it looks like now.

The Virginia Creeper covers the next door neighbour's horrible steel shed. The Pittosporums are now almost high enough to cover the unit next door. The wisteria on the screen at the end now shields the roller door and the grasses along the house, well, they're lovely and green.

I can't tell you the sense of satisfaction I get walking out here now and seeing the greeness of it all. I hardly ever water, although I couldn't even if I wanted to, and somehow it all stays really lush - I guess I chose well with the plantings. It's almost exactly as I imagined it, although that's not to say there still aren't things I'd like to change - aren't there always with works in progress? The washing line - where on earth can I hide that?!