Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy B-Day...

Dad! It's a bit late coming (his actual birthday was several weeks ago. Bad daughter!), but better late than never, I s'pose.

One of my earliest memories of my Dad is of him teaching me to swim, and later, to snorkel. I still love both (although I don't do enough snorkelling these days). We're always saying that we'll get our scuba-diving licenses together - maybe this summer we'll finally stop talking and actually do it?! Here's Dad at one of our favourite swimming spots (secret location is highly classified!):

He's been going down the coast to the same South Coast holiday spot since he was a baby, and so have my brothers and I. He is utterly in love with the place, and so are we.

Dad has a wicked sense of humour, very dry and often sarcastic. He's very much an environmentalist with a strong social conscience, and his fierce intellect and penchant for cryptic crosswords is intimidating! I wonder if I would have found the motivation to knuckle down and finish my degree (while 8 months' pregnant!) without his quiet encouragement.

(Here we are with two of my brothers, Dave and T-Bone)

No tribute to Dad would be complete without mentioning what a marvellous grandad he is to Baboushka. If ever a grandfather has been besotted with his grand-daughter! And she has a special soft spot for Dad - together they read stories, explore the backyard, have big squeezy hugs, chew on all manner of toys that he brings over (well, Babs does most of the chewing), and playing in cardboard boxes!

And now for something serious..

Last night, Baboushka gave Pat and me a very unpleasant scare. While Pat was changing her nappy, she started choking (on what, we're not sure - probably a bit of vom-vom) and was having difficulty breathing. Pat called me in, I called 000, but thankfully Pat had it sorted before they even picked up. And then I burst into tears and Baboushka, safe and happy, started giggling (cheeky monkey).

In the scale of things, it was pretty minor, but it scared the life out of me. I'm still feeling very serious about the whole thing (light-hearted posts will resume shortly). In fact, I don't think I've ever been so terrified. I was fairly concerned a few months ago when Baboushka's newborn screening tests came back with positive results for both Phenylketonuria and Homocystinuria - false positives, as it turned out, but for a few weeks there, every time I thought about it my heart sank. But this had nothing on the thought that my little girl could... well, it's best left unwritten.

This is an element of motherhood for which I was pretty unprepared. I knew I'd worry and fret, but the extent of these feelings is completely new to me. So here is a question for everyone out there, parent or not: how do you deal with these sorts of feelings?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coco Nut

Speaking of outfits, here's mine from yesterday (or was it the day before? They all start to blend):

In the spirit of making more of an effort, which itself is in the spirit of having finally gotten a Flickr account and joining the groups Wardrobe Remix and The Uncommonly Fetching Mamas, I went to the skirt I fondly think of as The Chanel Skirt. It was my mother's - she looked like a minx in it but claims it no longer fits - and I was more than happy to give it a new home.

This outfit was in the spirit of all sorts of things, it turns out. The spirit of thrift is another one. The skirt was gratis, the tee was cheap (American Apparel, purchased off eBay for further thriftiness), the belt was another maternal hand-me-down (thanks, Ma!) and I nabbed this beret from my Dad.

And how could I forget the spirit of Chanel herself? Yes, the beret was chosen mainly for it's ability to cover lank locks-in-dire-need-of-a-wash, but I like to think that it, the skirt and the ubiquitous ballet flats are a subtle nod to Coco herself. Just in time for the movie!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Mademoiselle Lady Finger recently wrote a great post (an essay, even!) on personal style. One of her ruminations stuck out: "If I asked you to slip on a pair of jeans, a simple top, a pair of flat shoes, and any accessories you liked, what would you come up with? No doubt you'd come out looking vastly different to the next person, but how?"

I want to see this put into practice! So I'm going over to Polyvore to pick my outfit...

(okay, yes, this was really just an excuse to play on Polyvore)

...and here it is! Well, this is what I'd choose if I had 20 minutes and an unlimited budget..

I'm a wee bit shy about tagging people with something new, so anyone who wants in on this little social experiment, be tagged!

Australiana (+ my favourite colour)

Today on Thriftin':

A recent op-shop mish uncovered such treasures as an old Arnott's tin, a blue enamel, er, implement for heating milk (and re-heating coffee!), a light green Woods Ware teacup,

...and four pretty turquoise teacups, two sandwich plates (one a Grindley),

...and two Australiana linen teatowels

5 months

Good gracious me, it's gone fast. And yet, at the same time it feels like I've been a mum for much longer.

You have a fabulously cheeky sense of humour - you really crack me up, my little gulab jamun!

You love pointing at different things (and sometimes making a 'peace' sign, teehee)..

..and you're getting very good at letting us know what you want. Oop, cuddle time!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


A picture of Angelina Jolie looking tired! Don't get me wrong, she looks fantastic, but it also looks as though she's been running around after children and maybe missing a bit of sleep. In a world where Paris Hilton (reportedly) gets paid ridiculous amounts to travel to Australia to attend some party for New Year's Eve, it's nice to see Angelina not letting her celebrity get in the way during her speech for World Refugee Day.

My year(s) without meat

When I started blogging, I decided that it would be best if I took a strict position against describing my dreams. I have very vivid, Lynchian, sometimes lovely, sometimes hideous and always perplexing dreams. It's rare that I don't remember what I got up to in the Land of Nod, and I really have to restrain myself from inundating poor Pat (or anyone else I come across) with my nocturnal adventures in the morning. Regardless of how interesting I think mine might be, other people's dreams are just not very interesting.

I'm so sorry, but today I'm breaking my little rule! Last night's is still right there in front of me, it was one of those dreams that is so real it's palpable. A lot happened, and I'll spare you those details, but the bit that stuck with me went like so: I was at my Dad's, he wasn't home and for whatever reason, I took a big steak out of the fridge, ripped the strip of fat off, and proceeded to cook it and eat it. The whole while knowing that I don't eat meat but not being able to stop, as though I were in some sort of trance. It made me feel ill, and a few mouthfuls in I spat it out. Then I got myself into a panic about hiding the evidence and went out to buy Dad a new steak.

What the heck was that all about?!

It's coming up to two years of going sans meat, and I admit that I really struggled that first year. I was a top-to-toe eater when it came to meat - there were a couple of things I didn't like, such as tongue and possibly eyeballs (I never tried them), and I wasn't too fond of most things that came from a pig, but give me liver or brains or sweetbreads or gizzards and I'd eat them with the same enthusiasm as I would a scotch fillet or a dozen oysters. Two of the things I missed the most were sashimi anything and daube de boeuf. I used to regularly visit Sel et Poivre in Darlinghurst and, despite the duck leg confit, the foie gras and the charcuterie, I almost always ordered the same thing: a dozen escargots, the daube with pommes purée and a crème brûlée for dessert.

Somehow, after a year of pining for the flesh of every animal imaginable - wild boar, doe, octopus, pheasant, eel! - I got over it. I stopped missing daube and raw fish, I stopped wondering if it would be okay to 'treat myself to whatever meat I wanted just once a year, on my birthday', I stopped considering Sanitarium's canned tvp as a veritable option. I'd felt like such a terrible, fraudulent vegetarian, so it was a great relief to finally feel as though I didn't miss it. I still have fleeting moments of nostalgia and sometimes I'll chat along happily about how much I liked my merguez spicy and my roast beef bloody. Occasionally I'll even pass on recipes for my old favourites, like roast chicken stuffed with preserved lemons.

Even though I'm content in my herbivorous ways nowadays, the dream I had last night would've come in much handier 2 years ago..

Anyways, here's to happy eating!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everyday everybody

As someone who gets a kick out of seeing their own name in the phone book, I am delighted to have been featured on Chantelle's wonderful blog, fat mum slim!

Her Everyday Everybody interview idea is a great one, don't you think? Thank you for having me, Chantelle!


I've been tagged by Amanda of L-Plates!

The rules: 1. Respond and rework; answer the questions on your blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, add one more question of your own. 2. Tag eight other people.

What is your current obsession?
Becoming a librarian. I find black-rimmed glasses, topknots and pencil skirts ridiculously sexy. (A wise reason indeed when considering a career move.)

What are you wearing today?
Umm… a hand-me-down Aran jumper from my dad, black vintage broomstick skirt, Explorer socks, tan cowboy boots (men’s, naturally), and the usual topknot-with-bits-flying-everywhere (due to curious little hands pulling it).

What’s for dinner?

Risotto with roast pumpkin, English spinach and goat’s cheese (see below).

What’s the last thing you bought?
Cheese! A trip to the Highlands in not complete without a visit to The Cheese Store in Bowral. I got some St Agur blue, half a log of Soignon chèvre, and a wedge of Brie.

What are you listening to right now?
Siouxsie and the Banshees, cockatoos in the gum trees out the back, the hum of the computer.

What are you reading at the moment?

Love in the Time of Cholera, Mother Tongue, The Weather Makers, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. And my favourite blogs, of course!

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

I’d go to France, to the little village I lived in a few years ago, the sweetly named Chevreuse. It would be during the village brocante, with the main street closed to traffic, and I’d spend the time nabbing old velvet curtains and vintage posters, while eating a slice of tarte Tatin and swigging a glass of Jurançon.

Which language do you want to learn?

I’ve always wanted to learn a minority language, like Quechua or Breton or Basque. More practically, I’d love to get better at Spanish and German.

What do you love most about where you currently live?

Wollongong drives me nuts – I keep leaving, only to find myself back here. However, I do love the escarpment and the old bush tracks that crisscross it, and the proximity to the South Coast. But the best thing about living here is that I live in the same neighbourhood as my dad and two of my brothers.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
My emerald green brocade formal gown. It was $60 from an antique shop and the lovely lady who sold it to me threw in a pair of handmade earrings as well! How lovely.

Describe your personal style?

Disheveled, boot-wearing, vintage-loving geek.

If you had $300 now, what would you spend it on?
I’d head to Net-a-Porter or The Outnet and splurge on a beautiful dress for special occasions. This Anna Sui, or this one by Diane von Furstenberg, or this Acne dress, or this one or this one from Antik Batik...

What are you going to do after this?
Make a cup of tea and check on the little one.

What are your favorite films?
Anything with subtitles. Movies always seem that much more interesting when they happen in a foreign language.

Whose work/designs are you inspired by?

I'll have to copy Amanda and say Surrealism. When I was younger, I was distraught that the Surrealists had already been and gone – I’ve always thought I was born 80 years too late. I also love William Morris and the Pre-Raph pack, Roy Lichtenstein and the Bauhaus.

Do you collect anything?

Books. I've just started collecting the Penguin Classics. And vintage silk scarves. And I have more teacups than I ever actually use.

What makes you follow a blog?

Humour, eloquence and ladies in cute clothes.

Do you like to comment on blogs or just lurk?

I try to comment as much as I can – I’m ridiculously happy when someone comments on my own blog, so I like to pass that happy feeling along :-)

What’s one thing you dream of doing?

Living overseas, in lots of different places. So that a) I can practice the languages I know and learn new ones, and b) to give Baboushka an appreciation of the wider world.

What is your biggest regret?
I’m not really one for regret, although when my husband and I broke up a few years ago, I wish I had been better behaved, more diplomatic and generally nicer about the whole thing.

What's the one place you'd like to visit before you die?
The one place?!? Mean question. It’d have to be either the Yucatán, to explore relics of pre-Columbian civilizations; northern India and Nepal, to visit Buddha’s stomping ground; or Tanzania, to see Rift Valley and the Ngorongoro. Or Scotland, to traipse the moors with Braveheart-type music playing in my head.

I'm going to tag:

apricot tea
Skylark and Son
Strawberry Koi
Vegan and Vintage
Vintage Stories

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ooh, I love this cake. It used to be my 'thing' - I made it often, sometimes several times a week during school holidays, and while I flirted with a few other favourites (like Walnut Torte and Double-choc Brownies), Chocolate Zucchini Cake was default dessert. Until I discovered cheesecakes, and began devoting my baking time to first perfecting the classic New York and then experimenting (Nigella's Lime and Chocolate is divine, but that's another post).

The other night, out of nowhere, I was stricken with an incurable craving for my old Choc-Zucchini friend. Well, not quite incurable - I made one and, by the next night, it had been completely demolished.



* 2 cups flour (I used wholemeal spelt - I reason that this makes it an essential part of my diet)
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* pinch cinnamon, pinch nutmeg
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup buttermilk
* 2 or 3 raw zucchini, shredded
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
* icing sugar

1) Grease a 10-inch cake tin. Preheat oven to 180°.

2) Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa; set aside.

3) In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until light in color and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy; beat in oil.

4) Beat in the sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. (The mixture is quite liquid, and I thought it would turn out badly; as it was, the cake was just the right amount of moist and dense, happy days!)

5) Fold the shredded zucchini into the flour mixture along with vanilla and pecans (if using). Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a clean knife inserted in center comes out clean. (My cake took a bit longer, maybe 15 minutes or so.)

6) Cool in tin on rack for 10 minutes, then remove from tin to cool completely. Sift confectioners' sugar over cake before serving. (It is even better served with some thickened cream drizzled over. Which kind of cancels out the health benefits of the sneaky serving of vegetables..)

Bye-bye, lovely weather

This is from about two weeks ago - we decided to enjoy the unseasonably delightful weather by going for a stroll through the local botanical gardens. I forgot the camera, but Pat dutifully took some pictures of us back at home, basking in the last of the daylight. For some reason, I'd decided to make an effort and replaced my usual shorts and thongs with my new high-waisted jeans and espadrille wedges (thank you to Pat for recording this rare event). Actually, neither of those were actually new - due to my being allergic to paying RRP for anything (except, possibly, milk and bread) I got them off eBay.

Now, the weather is looking more like this:

Ooh, some more autumnal shots. If you look closely, I think there is a rosella right in the centre..

And now, off to Bowral again. Brrrr...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Elephant Boy

St Pat and I have been taking a heck of a lot of photos of late, so I'll stick them up with appropriate commentary and that should get the mojo back..

Last week, us three bundled up and went up to Bowral to visit Pat's lovely mother. The Southern Highlands are just beautiful this time of year, but, mild-weathered coast-dweller that I am, I'm not used to the cold. However, this means that I have an excuse to wear my favourite coat of all time (a $20 op-shop splurge. I remember being hesitant due to the hefty price tag; thank the gods that good sense prevailed). To date, the only other place it has seen frequent wear is mid-winter France.

We (well, I - Pat and his mum have part-anti-freeze blood, and Baboushka was swaddled in so many layers she resembled a beach ball) braved the icy cold and walked into town to Elephant Boy, a marvellous cafe with book-lined walls and coffee served in bowls.

We also journeyed to The Cheese Store for some raclette (yay, winter!), and I did a bit of thrifting (sadly, not much was uncovered, just a few books).

Back at the homestead, we got cosy in front of the old stove and drank tea and knitted and chatted and ate sticky date cake from the Gumnut Bakery (apparently, their motto is "Life's short - eat dessert first". Ah, a bakery after my own heart!)

We'll be back there next week - I'm working at the Bowral Art School for the first time. Good God I hope they have powerful heating..


I seem to have misplaced my blogging mojo. Add to that a weekend spent (where else!) down at Jervis Bay, and you have a serious lack of posts! Something that I shall remedy right now.

In the meantime, here is Baboushka's current favourite YouTube clip:

Dammit I can't embed the thing here. So click here.

Handy in case you have a baby/small child who needs settling and favours both the Jazz Age and French house.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I didn't do this on purpose:

Speaking of subliminal messages, lately Baboushka and I have been leaving the house in matching outfits. Accidentally, of course. And although dressing in this manner makes me feel deeply unsettled, the thought of changing either my or Baboushka's clothes is possibly even more unpleasant.

Anyway, that particular day we were heading out to have lunch with my mum, so I made her take a photo to document me and my eerily small, bald doppelgänger (who was feeling a bit teary, possibly because we were matchy-matchy).

The Redhead

I feel I've been receiving subliminal messages lately to dye my hair red. Tori Amos has a new album out. I've been re-watching Six Feet Under for the hundredth time (okay, maybe seventh) and as infatuated as ever with Clare's Pre-Raphaelite locks. And now I can't stop listening to La Roux (who, it is said, draws inspiration from possibly my favourite redhead of all time, Annie Lennox).

I'm even going to look past the grammatical glitch of her pseudonym (it should be 'La Rousse') in my admiration. Look at her cool threads! :

(pictures via Google - yes, back to Google image-pilfering. Too tired/hands too full to snap anything this week)

If I'm going to shamelessly style-copy with the hair, I may as well go and find myself a cameo pendant to boot..

PS: although something tells me I won't do anything to my hair, and The Bobble will continue its reign..