Wednesday, January 27, 2010


How does one become a food stylist? It's one of those professions that I think is somewhat exotic, mainly because it seems so unattainable, something that an elite few do. I base that on nothing whatsoever, aside from my own, sometimes warped, ideas. It's one of those vocations that I wish I'd known of to consider when I started working. Of course my 17 year old self didn't really give much consideration at all to what I wanted to do, let alone consider arranging food for a living. That teenage self seems so terribly young and uninformed now.

At times my 40 year old self wishes I'd realised sooner the things I'm good at and that I enjoy, but honestly I think more than anything I believe in time and place. The things I have now are only here because of what's come before. I really don't regret decisions once they're made, perhaps I really believe in destiny...

Very ripe nectarines and plums equals a delicious tea cake.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The first half of the day spent at the beach. Fish and chips and icy poles.

Happy Australia Day, from my family to yours.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Preparing from tomorrow's national celebration. The colours of the flag, the idea to decorate with our idea of Australia, the outcome wasn't quite what any of us had in mind, but they'll be delicious all the same.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Ella's cooking family dinner tonight. Her first choice was for dessert, chocolate mousse. I'm not a fan I must confess, of most chocolate desserts, but her father is and she and her sister follow suit. As a result of my lack of interest of things chocolatey, there has been no mousse in their life. Can you imagine her joy at finding that it contains all her favourite things - chocolate, cream and sugar! We've used Molly's recipe and agree, although very chocolatey it's not cloying and quite light.

Main course is a roast chicken, the first dish I prepared when I was a child, with roast potatoes, beans, broccoli, carrots and corn. It will be a plain salt and pepper chicken, as Ella isn't "fond of herbs", but there will be tarragon in the gravy "because that's Dad's favourite".

Friday, January 22, 2010


The garden's looking pretty good right now. Basil is going gangbusters, perhaps I'll make pesto for dinner?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I met my lover after work tonight.

Our girls went to my parents for a sleepover and we met here. I arrived earlier than he, ordered a glass of rose and waited. I gazed and thought and imagined and remembered and hoped moving forwards. A conversation with a girlfriend after a viewing of Bright Star earlier in the week reminded me that I (and he, my husband) am a traveller, a dreamer, not a settled, contented person. I remembered our numerous trips, the trips we still want to take that are currently on hold, I remembered what it is to be a lover, rather than a wife.

We drank, me a little more than he, we ate, we laughed, we kissed and I was happy.

On the way home I spied a perfect photograph. A battered yellow velvet armchair sat on the naturestrip beside a bus stop in front of a very large, very empty block on which horses graze. It was 8:30pm and and I told my love that we must rush home, he must get changed and we must return, he in casual clothes to sit in the chair reading a book under the streetlight. My love looked at me in horror. He would have done it if I'd insisited, but his vision is ever so slightly different to mine. So, I don't have the image, I have the words, and I share them with you.

Photo from here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A resolve I've had before, which I stray from quite often, is using items from my garden and store cupboard to make a meal before I venture to the shops. I am on a buy less more often approach. I'm wishing I lived in France and could go to the market morning and afternoon, but failing that I'm trying to buy fresh every other day only. Most of our kitchen waste tends to be vegies that I don't use when I do a "big shop" and it doesn't get used because, frankly, I don't fancy it.

So tonight, using only what I have on hand, Spanish tortilla - not truly Spanish in terms of size (the true version is much deeper/thicker but uses twice as many eggs) but just as delish; zuchs from the garden cut into chunks and flash fried with lots of garlic, lemon and fresh dill, then the other side are what I call Greek beans. Again, garlic fried gently in oil, topped and tailed green beans, either freshly chopped tomatoes or some passata, cook gently until they're soft (not just al dente). Adjust sauce with salt, pepper (lots) and sugar (which I sometimes feel the passata needs only for balancing) and lots of chopped parsley. Serve the beans at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Those toes I shared with you last week, that little one is having a birthday on Thursday so we've been sewing for her. Given her young age I thought I'd try a Poppy doll, as my own dolls have a lot more little pieces to chew at and threaded hair can get a bit gross from too much sucking.
The pattern is very simple to make, in fact I have three more waiting to be dressed, the sewing takes no time at all and it really is a satisfying pattern to make up.
A couple of things I thought I'd mention. Firstly, you don't need to spend over $50 on Doctor's flannel. I'm sure it's gorgeous to work with, but I couldn't warrant the expense - I used as I do for my own dolls, a good quality calico, choose one with a nice close weave, and that will set you back between $3 and $6 a metre. I've also used a cream broadcloth for one of the ones waiting in the wings and it works just as well. Ditto for the stuffing - of course natural is always lovely, but pure wool tops for stuffing are around $25 - $40 per kg and synthetic stuffing is only $12.00 a kg. I know it's not always about price, I like the nice stuff as much as the next person, but I wanted to point out that less expensive options work just as well.
The pattern itself, take some care with the neck. Any doll that you make where the head and body are separate will be a weak spot. Perhaps allow yourself a little more length on either piece to work with and be prepared to fiddle. Sew it on half way, then stuff in more to really firm up the neck as well as you can, before finishing off.
Both my girls are waiting on theirs, Ella's with brown hair and plaits as Christie did for hers. Leila's doll has green hair, not quite sure what else she'll end up with, but both want scarves and hats for the cooler weather, so stay tuned.
PS In linking to Christie I realised I forgot Poppy's blush - better get on to that!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Despite the warm weather we've had, our tomatoes seem to be very slow to ripen this year and when there's any orange showing at all the possums have generally been faster than me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


How is that for colour? That's more what I was expecting from my blueberry icecream - I had to share it's so gorgeous. Can't decide if I like it more dressed with parsley or undressed, purely in terms of colour.

In terms of flavour, it's a roasted beet salad with a yoghurt dressing. Sharing the table with it tonight will be eggplant fried with chilli and mint, dill and broad bean pilav and Moorish kebabs. An unplanned trip to the Boroondara Farmer's Market was very fruitful. Along with a Coldstream Pinot (one of the ones from our trip Lena), I expect it to be delish!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The sweet toes of a dear friend who turns 1 in only 9 days.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Our summer silliness today involved Ella and I taking it in turns to be the yoga instructor and make up moves for each other to do. I showed Ella a sun salutation and she thought downward dog hilarious. She then went on to show me some real moves, apparently ones she learned watching Waybaloo? This in turn led to taking turns at being the real life model for the other to sketch.

Real life drawing is another thing on my list, something I've always wanted to try but expected to be really bad at. I find the proportions really hard and I find it so tricky drawing what I see when the lines on paper become so flat and even shading doesn't help. I was therefore quite chuffed at this attempt of mine. It's Ella, in the "om meditation" position and I think you can actually recognise it for that. The face and ribbon, they're Ella's contributions.

We're in the East of Melbourne and the cool change came through about 40 minutes ago. Thank someone for that!

Monday, January 11, 2010


On a 43C day, the only logical thing to do is make icecream.

I used a basic method from Gordon Ramsay, a creme anglaise of 6 egg yolks to 250ml cream and 250ml milk, 50g of sugar, vanilla and I added a generous amount of lemon peel to infuse as I cooked. Sieve when cooked through then cool. Blueberry was our flavour of choice, although we only had 300g rather than 500g in our freezer, which explains the somewhat grey tone of the finished product! Heat just to pop the berries, blend and for us again sieve (my girls are not fond of "bits"). Cool.

Cobmine both cooled bowls (after the eldest child has tried to remove alone from the fridge and spilt down her front, the fridges and all over the floor) and churn eating direct from the bowl as it starts to solidify. Delicious.

I hope there's some left for Geoff.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


The heat made us a little crazy here today. We were out until lunchtime, but then cooped up inside for the afternoon. By the time it was cool enough to be outside again the sillies had taken over, even poor Geoff was dragged into our silliness. Looking like this we then went for a walk, possibly more to the amusement of ourselves than to our neighbours.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


When I was a child I could never understand how my parents could drink hot drinks in hot weather. I do recall that my mum said that hot drinks actually cool you down. Whilst understanding the principles behind that explanation my own need to drink hot drinks in hot weather is more medicinal, I simply cannot function without my morning coffee.

Friday, January 08, 2010


They left today and by now are lying on the beach on Hamilton Island.

I didn't get to see her yesterday and last night I babysat so they could go for dinner as a couple. I didn't cry last night, when she walked me to the car just before midnight. I managed to avoid tears also when she said it hadn't been long enough and she hadn't said all she'd wanted to. I do feel teary now though.

I wrote her a card and amongst the things I said was that I hadn't managed to say everything I wanted to, it's hard to squeeze 7 years worth of thoughts into a few days. I also hope it isn't another 7 years before we're together again. It's these thoughts that actually hurt. It was so normal having them here, life felt so rich with her around. I guess it's loneliness I feel, it's that feeling of being understood and loved all the same that is infectious and hard to let go of. It's nice to feel affirmed as a good and friendworthy person. So, my darling Lena, I so loved having you here, I wish I could have thought on my feet more so I could have shared every thought I've ever meant to share with you, but there just wasn't enough time.

To distract today, we went to the beach and it was lovely. I wish you could have been there .....

Thursday, January 07, 2010


My new clock. Geoff has the alarm on his side but it's turned away when we go to sleep so the light doesn't bother him. As a result I have to contort myself to try and see the time when I wake, which is usually a couple of times each night. Now I have hands that glow in the dark.

About half way through last year I started making a note of all the books I had read. As I've now moved into a new year and new list, I thought I'd make a note of them here. I've marked my favourites in green.

An Omelette & a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Finding a Girl in America by Andre Dubus
Interesting Women by Andrea Lee
Julia Child. A Life by Laura Shapiro
Lost Hearts in Italy: A Novel by Andrea Lee
Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg (re-read)
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Buddah of Suburbia by Hanif Kureshi
The Dark Man by Paul Auster
The Doorman by Reinaldo Arenas
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
The Girl who played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (unintentional reread)
The Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg
The Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt
What I Loved: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt
Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


We went to Porgie and Mr Jones for breakfast this morning. Good coffee, loved the decor, the menu presentation, a lot of inspiration and great staff.

She really doesn't like having her photo taken. Geoff tried to take some photos of us together this afternoon but she and I both agreed that there was something wrong with my camera as we simply didn't look like that. Her eyes open, mine closed; my eyes open, hers closed; our eyes closed; her tongue out; my double chin showing - you get the idea.

Last day tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I went to the gym this afternoon and towards the end of my workout, whilst lying on my back crunching away, I was, quite obviously, staring at the ceiling. Generic office style ceiling tiles, a stain here and there, but no colour, everyday and neutral.

The link may seem a little tenuous, but I realised that at times life can be a little without colour. It's not that it isn't good, that you aren't happy, but that the colours aren't so vibrant, perhaps that you don't feel quite as alive as you could. From there I realised that's what Lena is to me, she's colour. I know how wonderful my family, my home and my life here are, but the reality is that when she's around she colours my life like no-one else does.

Tomorrow we're having a girls breakfast, shopping and lunch day, then there's only one day left. The hardest part is that it doesn't feel like we've been apart for 7 years. It doesn't feel like they're visiting and I can't imagine how it's going to be when they're gone. I know for sure though, that it's going to take me quite a while to adjust to a life less colourful.

PS The pizza reference? Lena makes my dough into pizza??
PSS I've just noticed this is post 500!!

Monday, January 04, 2010


We ate, we talked and talked and talked. It's all so easy with friends you love so much.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


She won't be happy, I'm sure, but I think she's gorgeous and photographs exactly as she is!
Last night we went, two families together, to dinner in town. The girls are getting along famously, holding hands, each with their respective handbags walking through Chinatown. I can't believe any time has passed, excepting the fact that we both now have walking, talking children in tow! I can't bear to think ahead to when they're not here anymore, but that will be the time when I start discussing travel with Geoff!

Off to the hills today. Taking a meandering route to my parent's place in Healesville. They've kindly house swapped with us for a couple of days so we'll be eating and drinking our way through the Yarra Valley.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


2 is the date although 3 should really be the title of this post. Our baby Leila turned 3 years old today and had her first real party with people other than family there. It was a great success. Leila isn't as fond of attention as her bigger sister, so things like opening presents with everyone looking tend to overwhelm her a little. Fairy Sarah (who I really cannot recommend highly enough) also directed a lot of questions to Leila, but she deferred to her sister every time.

The cake was a hit, the snack boxes for them all to eat during the "show" very popular and the birthday girl really did feel very special. What more can you ask for?

Friday, January 01, 2010


It's Leila's birthday tomorrow. Suffice to say there's been a lot of baking going on around here. I had yet another special cake request and I'm tickled pink with how this has turned out, but you can't see it before the birthday girl so you'll have to check back tomorrow!


How hot was it yesterday? We couldn't face another day indoors so headed to one of the places on our list. If you haven't yet been, do visit Screenworld at ACMI, it's so much fun for children and adults alike. It's most like Scienceworks in terms of interactivity with exhibitions, but not surprisingly it's film focussed. You can email videos you make of yourself in a special 360 capsule home, and the image above is one that transforms your outline into dinasaurs and crazy creatures, complete with sound. Best of all, it's free!
We were just awake for the arrival of new year, although I confess we were already in our jammies. My dear, dear girlfriend and her family are in the country! and she called yesterday from Sydney. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels knowing that they're only in the next state! In less than 24 hours they'll be here, in our house, after 6 years! I am more than a little excited to see this wonderful woman. There will be many photos and many tears too.
Happy 2010 everyone!