Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

We're having a barbecue at home and then walking to the highest spot in the area to watch the early fireworks, sparklers in hand lighting our way. Here's to a great 2011 for us all. x

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Where in Sydney can you stay on the harbour - and I mean a few metres from the water - for $45 a night? Answer: Cockatoo Island.

We decided to take ourselves and extended visiting family over for a night. While we packed most of our food, we bought a bottle of red from The Island Bar to accompany our AC Butchery sausages, and some very good lattes from the cafe the next morning to add to our breakfast.

Cockatoo Island camping is for anyone who doesn't like camping. The showers wouldn't be out of place on the pages of Inside Out, and there are power points in each roomy cubicle for hairdryers. The very clean and modern camp kitchen has a big fridge, electric barbecues and boiling water on tap, which was great for the grandparents who were keen on a cup of Twinings Camomile and Spearmint before bed.

That's our tent, so you can see we were right on the water's edge. Even the ferry ride over is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Breakfast bowled over

I've gone all Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and have started making my own muesli. It's easy, tasty and I know what's in it. Also looks good in this jar, $6.95, from The Essential Ingredient.

All I do is toss together some rolled oats, bran, dried fruit (last batch was blueberries, raisins and figs), pepitas, chia seeds (seems to be the new goji berry) and hazelnuts I've given a quick roast.

In the morning I soak some in a little in apple juice and then add yoghurt, fresh berries and my own LSA (linseed, sunflower and almond mix). Happy till lunchtime, if accompanied by a mid-morning latte. x

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rugged up

With the sun being on strike since Boxing Day, the family took themselves off to the cinema today leaving me at home alone. Oh, the pottering possibilities...

I decided to dig out a crochet project that I'd been ignoring as it wasn't working out. I had been attempting to do my own version of a throw rug I'd seen on Dottie Angel's blog but wasn't crochet savvy enough to work out how to join the strips, above, as I went (the fact that I wasn't working in the same stitch didn't help, I tell myself) and didn't like the bulkiness when I tried to put the strips together in a more traditional way. Had done enough, though, not to want to pull it apart so just kept ignoring the whole thing.

But I wanted to crochet. So I pulled out the beautiful Japanese book that anyone interested in crochet would have already seen and gave crocheting a hexagon a go. It took a little figuring, but I finally cracked it. I'm now going to use all the Jo Sharp cottons I bought, unravel what I started and make a hexagonal rug.

The simple pleasure of achieving something small (but very tricky to me) while watching a feel-good movie - It's Complicated with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin - just happened to be on TV just as I sat down made the afternoon so pleasurable that I didn't care we'd missed out on the beach for two days running.

Clovelly's not going anywhere and I'll have the rug forever (if it gets finished!).

The light is quite appalling today as the colour of these Jo Sharp cottons are brilliant and deep. (The fact that the lighter green one is called Shamrock should give you an idea.) If it'd been a sunny day, though, I'd still be a crochet avoider...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day sales

I don't usually go in for the Boxing Day sales but the Mother-in-Law's in town and she's always keen to hit them. Not that she needs me to hold her hand. Quite the contrary, as it would be quite the hinderance for her fossicking through the racks with only one.

I traipsed along to pick up some more of the cotton/bamboo Turkish-style Hammam towels, $34.95, Country Road is doing this season. Had being eyeing off similar towels at Toast among other overseas sites for ages but shipping prices from the UK made buying them a silly prospect.

When I first saw them in Country Road I immediately bought three with a dark grey stripe. Today I scored another two in what CR is calling Nutmeg at the great price of $22.72 each as towels are 35% off at the moment. Bought the last two the Pitt St Mall store had in this colour so am on the lookout for a third for the Child.

They're also marked down online to about $26 but adding on the $10 delivery fee makes the whole deal less of a bargain, but still less than walking into a store and paying the full price.

Love these towels, not only because they look great but because they're large and quite thin (yet extremely absorbent) so take up so much less space in the cupboard than regular towels. Don't even mind too much that some of the fringe knots have unravelled in the wash.

Have plans to re-knot while sitting in front of the TV one night. The Husband and Child will no doubt smack their foreheads in disbelief but I'm thinking it's a small price to pay for a nice, neat row of knots that will greet me from the bathroom every time I open the door. Or maybe knot.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Last-minute gift idea

As I was leaving the last Eveleigh Farmers' Market for the year last Saturday, I spied this basket of herbs for just $20. Containing nine herbs and a lettuce in a great old basket it was too good to pass up. Where could you buy all the individual elements for less than $20? Not anywhere around me that I know of.

If I don't need it as an emergency Christmas gift, I'll plant the herbs in my own garden and use the basket in a similar way another time.

If you're stuck for a last-minute present this would be easy to make at home, either with herbs or something like a red geranium (there's lots of good-sized ones around for about $10 at the moment). All that's needed is a basket, some coco or coir fibre (available from garden shops and Bunnings), potting mix and a plant.

Use the coco fibre to line the basket, fill with potting mix, stick in plant, water, done.

Tip: If the basket has a tight weave that you can't see through, use a plastic bag that's slightly bigger than the basket to line it rather than the coco fibre, poke some holes in the bottom and cut off excess at top once the potting mix is in. Thicker, department-store style bags are perfect.

Merry Christmas x

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cracking Christmas

The Child and I bought some very tasteful silver bon-bons for the Christmas table. We then decided to make our own for a homemade touch. You won't find an eclectic selection like ours at David Jones, unless there's been an explosion in Santa's Cave, which is exactly why we love them.

Here's how to make your own:
1 Cut rectangles of paper 30cm x 20cm.
2 Using a tracing wheel, like those used for tracing over paper sewing patterns (Spotlight have them for a couple of dollars), create a line of small perforated holes about 10cm in from one of the 20cm edges (this is so the paper will tear neatly at an end when pulled rather than exposing the less-than-festive looking loo roll).
3 Glue a bon-bon snap about 1cm from a 30cm edge. Snaps are available in packs of 12 from craft shops. We got ours at Spotlight.
4 Place three emply toilet rolls lengthways on paper and roll tightly before using craft glue to seal edge.
5 Only the middle roll will stay inside, the outer two are just being used to shape the cracker. By pulling the outer two out a couple of cms and gently pushing back and forth, you'll scrunch the paper down so that ribbons can be tied to seal off the contents. Tie a ribbon only at one end for now and remove the roll.
6 Add chocolates, hats, jokes, Christmas confetti whatever you like (the Child wrote the jokes for ours and we left out the hats).
7 Remove remaining end roll and tie off.
8 Decorate to heart's content - or to the point of a coronary like we did.

Tip: Keep to a few colours for best results. The only reining in I did of the Child was to ask her to stay within a red/white/natural palette.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas tables

As homes editor of Notebook magazine I had a concept of '5 Christmas tables' for the December issue. I commissioned stylist Marie Nichols and photographer Craig Wall to turn my idea into a reality and then wrote the story. We all oohed and aahed over the shots and left them with Notebook's art department to turn into a beautiful layout.

The December issue of Notebook was never printed as the magazine closed. If you'd like to see what we did take a look here as the images and words have turned up on News Magazines' homelife website. The lovely Craig and even lovelier Marie have been credited but I seemed to have missed out. Never mind, I'm glad to see all our hard work wasn't completely wasted.

Smells like old people

"Smells like old people," said my daughter when we popped into Mitchell Road Antiques and Design Gallery in Newtown yesterday. If she's thinking of elegantly, delicately gardenia-scented well-dressed and beautifully coiffed older people I'd have to agree. If not, she's being a little harsh as only 11-year-olds can be.

Mitchell Road is one of my favourite haunts as there are always gems to be found in the massive space. We were there Christmas shopping for vintage-loving friends like myself and came away with a few kitchen pieces that will once again mash spuds ($6), beat cream and eggs ($20) and hold sugar ($15). The jar is an old Bushell's jar so it's having a tea-change.

I've been after one of these Australian-made stainless steel Swift Whips ever since finding one at a holiday house we stayed at last year. It's so quick and easy and slots in beautifully between a whisk and my Kitchenaid.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Playing tag

I love paint test pots. I have a rather large box full of them left over from photo shoots, bought for painting terracotta pots, stools, magazine files (I'm willing to paint pretty much anything around the house) and picked up when I was helping various friends choose new colours for their walls.

Dug out Resene White Pointer and White Linen, Porter's Gardenia and Dulux Linseed and gave these Officeworks tags the home treatment. Very happy.

Tip: once the paint has dried put a couple of heavy books on top of the tags to flatten as the wet paint makes them curl a bit as they dry.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Testing times

Waiting patiently but excitedly for my soon-to-be beautifully designed banner. Just like a child at Christmas. Patient may be stretching it. For children, not me. x