Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Geeze, are Michelle Williams and Spike Jonze the cutest couple, or what?


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Liberty love

Gargh! It's the zeitgeist. I started writing this post on Friday night and got distracted (easy to do when one is housing a dairy). Come Saturday morning, the Sydney Morning Herald's Spectrum segment is hailing Liberty prints as being 'in' (garrrgh!).

Anyways, my intention was simply to confer my love of Liberty. Not just their pint-sized petal prints, but their abstract-patterned silk scarves, their jewellery and silverware and, most of all, the luxurious, stylised art-nouveau designs from William Morris (who's a bit of a hero of mine).

Liberty's miniature florals are why I want to take up quilting, and also why I've always loved the designers Cacharel. William Morris is why I started collecting vintage silk scarves (I use the term 'collect' loosely - my collection is not very extensive). His 'Hera' feathers, his cheeky 'Strawberry Thieves', his lovely 'Ianthe' print. I want this, this, this, and this. Lordy me, if I were to set foot in the Liberty store, I would not be responsible for the mad clamour that would ensue.


If there is one thing in this world that I loathe, it is those flipping blower-things that people use to remove leaves and grass clippings from their driveways. Maybe I'm missing something, but WHYYY?!

There are about one hundred better solutions to your garden debris problems, none of which need wake me and my family up on a Sunday morning. The primary one being: if you are too bad-backed/unimaginative/lazy to use a broom yourself, go retro and pay one of the neighbourhood kids 20 bucks to get in and do it for you. Voilà! A tidy yard, fresh air and exercise for today's youth and minimal carbon emissions.


Le chien est dans le four

You know you like a blog when you buy the book version. Which I did for Christmas - Pat received a copy of 'Stuff White People Like'. Which I bought because I think the blog is amusing, despite not knowing whether Pat also thought it so. Bad girlfriend.

Anyways, it's kind of embarrassing...actually, very embarrassing...when it comes to completing the checklist at the end. Vegetarian? Tick. Lover of vintage clothing? Tick. Brings along own string bags when grocery shopping? Tick. Moleskine notebooks? Yes. Tick. The latest on my long list of 'whiteness' is bilingualism (see #78). Where will it end?

So yes, I'm attempting to bring up a little bilingual. I like to think that, having graduated in Modern Languages and Linguistics, I am exempt from the White Person connotations in my quest. (Exempt? SWPL is messing with my mind.) French was my major and it's what I speak best (everything else is pretty woeful), so French is what Babushka gets.

I've been speaking French as much as possible, describing everything from the neighbour's cat to how I brush my teeth, and learning children's songs to sing to her. This site has some of my favourites - I put them on while I'm in the shower, they keep playing in a loop so there's no chance of them not becoming firmly lodged in my memory.

But, major or not, I have a feeling that I'm probably doing more damage than good. The poor girl will be getting every article wrong (in a language where vagina is a masculine noun and the slang for penis is feminine, well, it gets confusing), have only a very tentative grasp of the subjunctive, and she'll probably end up swearing like a tiny French pirate.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


This could be my favourite movie. I used to think that it was impossible to name a favourite, but this is one I can watch over and over and still grin the whole way through it. I love Göran and his beard so much; I love Anna and her insistence on lower-half nudity, Klas with his bad haircut and his nervous crush on Lasse, friendly old Birger and the little boy Tet, who wears girls' shoes and plays 'torture' (where he and Stefan enact Pinochet's regime by pretending to electrocute one another. It shouldn't be funny, but it sort of is). And Erik, I love Erik and his socialist angst.

But it's the end scene, the soccer one, that kills me. No matter how cynical, cranky or melancholy I may feel, I'm always left feeling cheerful/calmer and/or hopeful that there is still some good left amongst us miserable human beings.

Oh, and the soundtrack is rad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Classics: The Women's Weekly Cookbook

One of the things I found most difficult when I moved out of home was that I no longer had instant access to my mum's slightly-faded, much-loved copy of The Australian Women's Weekly cookbook. While there are plenty of recipes that make my stomach turn (gelatinous tomato ring, anyone?), there are also some real gems. Case in point: the classic Baked Cheesecake.

I found this recipe on the web - some kind soul posted the lemon version here and I am forever grateful. I have printed it out and it now lives on the side of my fridge, for easy access. Do yourself a favour and make it as soon as possible.

Classic Baked Cheesecake:
(my version)


* 250g plain sweet biscuit crumbs
* 125g butter, melted
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten
* ½ cup castor sugar
* 500g cream cheese, softened
* 250g ricotta cheese


1) Lightly grease a 22cm spring form tin.

2) Combine biscuit crumbs and butter in a bowl (I make the crumbs by crushing biscuits with the bottom of a glass).

3) Using a glass, press crumb mixture evenly over base of tin.

4) Refrigerate crust for 1 hour (I often skip this step, and no dramas).

5) Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and thick.

6) Add cream cheese and ricotta. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy.

7) Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes.

8) Cool in oven with door ajar, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
*n.b. make sure door is ajar, not closed! I made a belated birthday cheesecake for my brother a few days ago and left it closed. Hello, baby-brain! Result: burnt (though still fairly edible) cheesecake.

9) Decorate with cream and strawberries, or as desired. Sometimes I make a thick caramel with water, brown sugar and a bit of thin cream and smooth that over the top for a caramel cheesecake. I've also been known to add blueberries. Happy days.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fad Cops

Just stumbled upon this blog, I rather like all the pretty pictures:

La Garçonne Noir

In particular, I think a recent post says what I was sort of trying to say in my last post only much more eloquently (as usual).

It's scary (for me, anyways) to think that things that may be under the radar today could so easily make their way into the spotlight of popular culture and mass consumerism next week. I don't want to sound like a complete lower colon and I am absolutely not a cool person or a trendsetter or anything like that, but here's an example: RayBan Wayfarers. About 5 years ago I lost or broke my pair of sunglasses (I only really have one pair at a time) and had to improvise. Rooting through one of my dad's many boxes of miscellania (full of such delights as childhood wind up toys, Groucho Marx spectacles, kangaroo-scrotum coin purses...) I found two pairs of original Wayfarer knockoffs, one tortoise-shell, one black. Their inherent, Top-Gun cool, the absence of a pricetag and that they were not the bug-eyed, Nicole Ritchie-esque sunnies so en vogue at the time made me pleased to have lost my previous pair. Not long after, Sienna bloody Miller started wearing sunnies of the Wayfarer style. Then kids at uni and work started sporting a new incarnation of knockoffs. And then they began appearing in different colours - red, white, spearmint..
(You know a trend has had its 15 minutes and then died if Mischa Barton is in on it)

This was was all supportable until a fried of mine, a self-confessed, hard-core hipster, pulled me up on it. "Are you only wearing those because they' fashion (those last two words dripping with distaste)?" I could have punched him. He, with his purple keffiyeh and skinny jeans. Instead, I fled to the comfort of eBay and found myself an attractive, unassuming pair of retro specs with faux snakeskin-look. And the other day at uni I spied a girl wearing something similar. Gargh!

There are plenty of moments when I wonder why the heck I still bother caring about something as supercilious as fashion. When I think that, realistically given my tree-hugging ways, I should just revert to wearing hand-hewn organic hemp or bamboo creations, regardless of how flattering they may be. Yes, my wardrobe does contain some such items. (I've even got babushka in on the act, having recently procured a few organic garments from Purebaby. But that's another post.)

And then there are moments when I feel like fashion is the most immediately gratifying way of expressing myself. I watched 'The Duchess' the other day (quite liked it) - in it, Georgiana says something about men having so many ways of expressing themselves, whereas women have only their dresses and hats. Not that that is the case today, of course, but women using the way they dress to assert their individuality and creativity is not an entirely new idea, I suppose.

This post is reaching essay proportions. Time to stop. Byeeeeee!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obsession du jour: Space Age

A snippet of a conversation with a friend this morning goes something like this:
Me "Yo Mark (referring to Mark's planet-covered hoodie), that's a cool hoodie."
Mark: "Thanks."
Me: "I love planets!"
Mark: "Yep, planets are coming in, man."

I'm not really someone who cares a lot as to whether something is 'in' or not (and I passionately detest the use of 'in' as an adjective), but lately I find I actually have the time to care. I know what is meant when one 'Rodarte-ifies' a knitted jumper. I am excited that my giant knitted scarf was finished in time for Missoni's Fall 2009RTW collection. I could recognise a Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton 'Spicy' shoe from a mile away, and it's driving me mad.

I must remedy this, and I'll do so in the only way I know how: find the nerdiest antitheses of fashion that I can think of. Which isn't easy, given that pretty much everything around these days was in fashion at some point or other. It's as though we have arrived at the end of fashion, and the only thing left to do is to try and re-invent everything in new (or as new as is possible) ways.

And so, my current obsession: the Space Age. Next chance I get I will wear my planet t-shirt (which I nicked from the wardrobe of my ex-husband, which he used to wear as a pubescent, bespectacled youth. How's that for nerdy?). I will listen to my Space Age Lounge CD
and watch The Jetsons And I will take my white golf shoes (I think they are golf shoes?) to my trustworthy cobbler and get them re-coloured in silver.

I agree with Mark. Planets are in (even if only for me).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How do you know when to stop?

I've been feeling anxious lately about something that I know, in a logical way, is a pretty stupid thing over which to get my undies in a knot. I had a baby not 11 weeks ago, I'm enjoying my time as a new mum immensely, and I'm also a bit tired and a bit overwhelmed. A lot of responsibility has just landed smack bang! in front of me and I'm only just back into my old shorts (I missed them so much over summer).

So it's probably completely normal to feel as though I don't want to further test my fertility. I'm sure new mothers everywhere wonder whether it would be possible to produce even more love and affection than the (already) enormous amount they feel for their existing child. Not to mention enough energy to run around after a little kid whilst simultaneously feeding/burping/changing/making comical faces at a newborn. I imagine that the natural conclusion to all this is that one child is plenty, at least for the time being.

But the thought of stopping right here, now, and continuing life with just the three of us seems more and more appealing. When I think about this as an option, I feel as though a weight is lifted. Coming from a big family, I would no doubt feel guilty about not providing Babushka with a sibling (or a few). It wouldn't be because I didn't enjoy making her - I enjoyed pregnancy (although not in the deeply primal, earth-mother way I thought I would. I just had moments where I thought it was...quite nice). By all accounts I had it very easy . And the birth..well, I was very much more than lukewarm about that, it was beyond incredible and I still get teary thinking about it. And there's nothing to say that it wouldn't be easier a second time.

When I hear talk of women 'wanting it all' (the 'all' referring to both motherhood and anything else a woman may want: career success, financial gain, achievement of personal goals, happy relationships..), I think, "Damn right! In this day and age we should be able to do anything we want!". But the reality, at least for me, is that it would be easier said than done. I think it would end up being a bit of a juggling act, and I'm terrible at juggling. I'd like to be able to be a devoted mother to my little girl while also remembering that I can have a life, too...and it seems as though this would get progressively harder with each subsequent child.

Imagine how much easier it will be to travel and live in other countries with only one child to organise. Heck, even going to the beach or on a bushwalk would be much easier with just one. Maybe this makes me selfish; in the words of a selfish person, I don't particularly care (or rather, I do care - that's why I'm worrying about it - but I'm trying not to care too much).

Fancy Fruit

My current obsession in the land of tea is a blend from the local tea-orium (?) with the delightfully camp name of Red Fancy Fruit. It's made with rooibos and 'summer petals' (sadly, I'm not sure which ones exactly). Red tea is my favourite due to both it's lack of caffeine and it's supposed iron content. And it tastes good (a relief after years of pretending to like green tea).

I'm addicted, and the nice part is that I'm not actually addicted (no caffeine!). I've just discovered that I can purchase 1.1kgs of red tea for about $40 on Natural Health Direct. That sounds like good value to me...and then all I need to do is scavenge some 'summer petals', chuck them in with the tea, and voilà! I've got myself some Red Fancy Fruit.

Monday, April 13, 2009

(Wo)man of the cloth

Lovely Lies over at Anemone has inspired me to write a little about my preferred method of mess-mopping: cloth nappies!

Way back when little Babushka was the size of a pear, I decided to start thinking about practical things, such as where she would sleep, how she'd get around, and what sort of nappies we'd use. Although, the nappy question didn't require a great deal of rumination in the end - I'm pretty sure I've always been pro-cloth. My own parents were staunch members of the cloth brigade, even though at any one time at least three out of the four of us would have been wearing them (I'm reaching new levels of admiration for dear ol' ma and pa people every day!). The image of an old wooden clothesline with those lovely white squares in the sunshine is one of my favourites from childhood...

Anyway, enough sentimentality for the moment. I haven't had the misfortune to come across anyone who has challenged me on my choice or been negative about it, although I have heard from those who have. I've been enormously lucky - marvellous Jen and Carolyn have been great help, supplying us with pilchers and Snappies and washable liners. Carolyn's daughter Annie runs nappy workshops up in Newtown which I'd love to attend (who knows if I'm actually doing anything right!). Here are a couple of facts from the Oz Cloth website, another great resource for anyone who chooses to be a material girl:

* Disposable nappies have 2.3 times the water impact of cloth nappies
* Organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo (used in many modern cloth nappies) are farmed in more earth-friendly ways including the minimisation of use of water, chemicals and pesticides
* On average, washing cloth nappies for one baby is about equivalent to flushing the toilet four to six times a day.
* Reusable nappies have a lower energy, fossil fuel and emissions impact compared to throwaway nappies

This website also contains links to articles and studies regarding the environmental impact of both cloth and disposables, including this interesting piece from the Women's Environmental Network about Proctor & Gamble's 'greenwashing' of their disposable nappy products.

So far, we've been using 'standard' cloth nappies, i.e. the large squares of cotton towelling fastened with a pin or a Snappi, with a nappy pilcher and a strip of microfleece as a washable liner (thanks Jen and Carolyn!). We also bought a Pea Pod a few weeks ago - these claim to only need the absorbant bamboo insert at night, but I find that the Pea Pod by itself isn't terribly effective (my daughter's ablutions are no different whether it's night or day) and they're a bit expensive. I'm considering buying some AIOs (All In One) on eBay, but for now what we have is sufficient.

That's not to say that we don't bend and use disposables occasionally. We used them when we went down to Narooma as I didn't fancy schlepping a bucket full of soiled nappies on a five hour trip in a hot car (and with Anouk's cradle we didn't have a lot of space). And now that I'm trying to avoid using the car, if I'm walking into town or to the doctor's with Anouk in her sling I take disposables as they're lighter and easier to pop into my satchel. But I actually enjoy using cloth for the rest of the time - sure, they can be a b**ch to launder and it gets tiring, but they're also so much cuter on a baby :-)

PS: some other useful cloth nappy links:
All About Nappies
Modern Nappies
Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne

Purple scarf

I finally finished the purple scarf I've been knitting (for what seems like years) a few weeks ago, and last week we finally had a day cold enough to wear it!

Here's a closeup (including a sweet little pin I found at Husky op-shop many years ago, before the Great Op-shop Drought. It lives on my black satchel - Pat has the same and we need something to tell them apart). One day, I'll branch out and knit something more involved than a scarf. Although I probably need the skills to do that first.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm rather keen on...

...these beautiful leggings. I remember loving leggings about 15 years ago when I was still in primary school - I'd wear them with oversized knit jumpers and bright, baggy t-shirts, hmmm - and my love has never really waned. These ones are not only an amazing colour, the fabric is made from reclaimed soy fibre (left over from soy milk and tofu production). I love that there is a high-waisted version (maybe it's a reaction to not having a huge pregnant belly anymore, but right now I can't think of anything more comfy than a high-waist. I've been wearing giant Bonds cottontails to bed...although that may be a subconcious method of contraception). I want to buy the three-pack...

(photo from etsy store Bobelly)

Feeling catty...

It's 5:39pm and I'm not feeling particularly charitable. Normally, I'm of the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say-restrain-yourself school of thought. But f**k it, this is a blog and I should be writing more, even if what I write is inane and catty. In the blog world, it's all about quantity..

And so, my thoughts are as such: if Kate Moss were a tv show, I'd say she has jumped the shark. I've always loved her; her doe-eyes, her perfectly gorgeous cheekbones, her insouciant cool. But I sort of feel like she's over - all those years of hard partying have left her a bit haggard, sort of messy-looking (and not in that sexy way), and now when I see photos of her out at various nocturnal gatherings I get a 'lost' vibe. As though she doesn't want to stop doing what she's been doing for the last 15 years, but doesn't know how to move on.

Maybe I see this because I've been questioning this sort of thing lately (not my fabulous modelling career and rock 'n' roll lifestyle; no, more the whole being-over-going-out-and-associated-practices thing). I left Baboushka at home with some expressed milk and her dad and went out a few nights ago. My brother and I went to the local tavern for a friend's gig, and even though it was nice to be out and about and enjoying a few Pale Ales, I couldn't help but feel relieved that I don't go out anymore. I think that part of the reason I knew I was ready to have a baby was that I was over it a year ago - I wanted to get off the bar stool and get on with my life.

I really don't want to be one of those mothers who disapproves of everything any other mother does that isn't in keeping with my own philosophy on parenthood (which is still very nascent - a euphemism for blundering along and working it all out as I go), but I do wonder how much time Kate spends with her daughter, given the amount of photos available which show her sans daughter.

Don't get me wrong - as I said, I rather love Kate Moss and would kill to look like long as it was five or ten years ago...

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Today is my brother Tom's 21st birthday! Happy day, T-Bone.

Although there are two brothers and six years between us, we're eerily similar. Maybe he's actually my twin, albeit one who stayed in utero for a while after my exit.

* We're both tall and Children-of-the-Corn-esque

* We both ended up studying languages (he French and Japanese, me French and Spanish) after realising that our initial choices (he Civil Engineering, me Marine Biology) weren't our respective styles;

* After watching the video 'Meet Your Meat' together one afternoon (I was already a vego, he stopped by for a cup of tea), he decided to join me in my meat-free ways. And he's stuck with it, I'm very proud of him.

* We both think that tea is one of the greatest things in the world, and regularly imbibe. We also agree that tea + baked treat of some description is even better (see previous entry re: brownies);

* We share a mutual love of rockpools (which we must get from our Dad);

as well as of a certain 2 1/2-month old

(Tom's a great uncle - here he's helping Anouk with her walking skills)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Obsession du jour: dulce de leche

Ever since reading somewhere that I could make my own dulce de leche (or confiture de lait, a habit picked up in France) by simply boiling a tin of condensed milk, I make it every now and then when I find myself at the mercy of a non-negotiable desire for something sticky and caramelised. That is, I make it if I can leave it to boil for long enough - many an unripe batch of dulce has been prematurely plucked from its saucepan in a fit of impatience...and then finished to the sound of, "well, I wouldn't want it to go to waste..".

When I found a recipe for dulce de leche brownies on David Lebovitz's site, accompanied by this picture:


I thought, "Ooo-ee! Two of my favourite things merged into one deliciously congruent whole! It's time to buy a lamington pan." I made the brownies late last night (my new-favourite time to bake, now that my schedule revolves around my little milkmaid), and, sweet mother of Willy Wonka, they are as fabulous as they look!


Last weekend, we three jumped in our rickety old Ford and headed south (again!) to Narooma. We stopped off at Jervis Bay on our way down, to break up the trip a little bit..

It was Pat's grandfather's 80th birthday. We had lunch at the Tilba Valley vineyards,

(Anouk wore her lovely dress and little pantaloons from Eternal Baby - it's always fun to have an occasion for her to wear something prettier than the baby chesties and nappy pilchers she gets about in when we're at home)

afternoon tea at Pat's grandparents' farm,

and went to Bar Beach the next day. I was extremely cranky at myself for forgetting to pack my swimmers :(