Friday, July 29, 2011


I was sorting through a jar of buttons and became distracted by how pretty the colours were once separated. So much so, that I forgot why I was doing it and just started making piles.

I think the way the sun is sparkling today has a lot to do with the distraction. It's hardly spring but for the last few days it's been warm enough to leave the doors open during the middle of the day and lose a layer of clothing.

Spring is definitely in the air. A feeling enhanced by the daily happenings in my window dove's nest.

Turns out there are two babies. They are now so big that the mother barely fits in the nest herself and sometimes watches them from a nearby branch. This hazy photo doesn't do the nest justice but the fault lies in my somewhat dirty window, which I won't clean right now because it's so close to the family I'm worried it'll be too disturbing for everyone.

What's even more alarming is the currawong who shows up several times a day looking at the nest, which I assume it wants to raid (they do that). The mother dove flaps at it and tries to chase it away but being about a third of the size, it's a big ask. Luckily, I'm much bigger than the currawong and run outside and throw lilly pilly berries at it, which the mother dove seems happy for me to do. She doesn't leave but the currawong is off in an instant. It's as if she knows I'm trying to help.

Now, The Husband and The Child have nicknamed me Mother Bird. Hopefully, between us two mother birds we'll be able to keep the babies safe until they can fend for themselves.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tea time

I have an old cushion that refuses to age gracefully, and remains new-looking regardless of several years service on our sunny back deck.

After filling the laundry tub with 100 no-name tea bags and hot tap water, I dunked the cushion cover in and left it for several hours. Old cushion now looks old. Much better.

No matter how many times I removed The Cat from the before shot, she would dart back into frame. So be it.

To see what others are doing today in their creative spaces go here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stamp of approval

I love stationery, and I know I'm not alone. Latest addition is this stamp and grey ink pad, $12.95, from Kikki-K yesterday.

Will use it to make notes on documents, because while bill-paying isn't fun I figure it doesn't have to be ugly.

Other ways I'll use it include as school book labels and inside books in the same way as a This-book-belongs-to sticker.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Despite my favourite market haunts being almost washed out over the last couple of weekends, I did manage to pick up this glass scoop, $10, from Rozelle Markets. Initially thought I'd use it for flour but found I didn't want to part with the old cup I was already using.

So I popped it on top of a cabinet I have in the kitchen to think about later. Found myself dropping rings into it when I wanted to cook. Earrings started to find their way there too, as they tend to irritate my skin after a while. It wasn't meant to be a permanent arrangement, more of a holding pen till I tidied up. But I like the way the scoop sparkles in the sun, so it's staying for now.

For a look at lovely vintage finds of others this week, go here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Early bird

Turns out my window dove is a mother bird, which explains why she sat on her nest all last week through the pouring rain.

As I raised the blind early this morning, I noticed the nest was empty - or so I thought - but did note that the dove had made her nest extra cosy with lots of fluffy padding. As I was looking, she flew back into the tree and started poking around and that's when I saw the fluffy padding move. Fluffy padding enjoyed a breakfast of regurgitated something, which is what's going on in the photo above, before becoming fluffy padding again after being sat on.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wet weekend

Living in Sydney is like living under a shower you can't turn off at the moment. It's rained solidly for three days and is set to rain again tomorrow. So this weekend will be spent indoors as much as possible and in front of the fire.

House has been cleaned (well, most of it) and mantelpieces prepped with candles and eucalyptus bunches and there's a pile of crochet throw rugs on the couch.

Of course, there's a school event at the crack of dawn on Sunday so have my trusty raincoat and gumboots at the ready. I bought this raincoat in Ireland a couple of years ago and could have made a small fortune by now if I'd brought a container-load home with me as I'm always asked where I got it when out and about. Avoca is the answer, which doesn't help as it's an Irish company. Clearly, the Irish understand weather.

I wish I had a mini one to offer my window dove as her nest is soaked. Every now and then she gets up and shakes herself like a dog and droplets fly everywhere. It's a bird's life...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Branching out

Despite being only a few hexagons away from finishing a Japanese cotton throw rug, I can't keep away from fiddling about with spare balls of wool. There's something lovely about working with the stretchy, forgiving woolly stuff that cotton just can't compete with on a cold winter's night.

There's something just as lovely about short, little projects that I can pretty much knock off during an episode of Masterchef.

The Japanese throw is my third large blanket in a row and as much as I love the finished products I'm craving the crafting equivalent of a few Donna Hay fast-and-simple style projects right now rather than a three-week French cassoulet.

So I'm experimenting with the book 300 Classic Blocks for Crochet Projects, where the instructions are given in diagram and written-word forms. Not a Japanese syllable in sight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tea for one

I love the idea of herbal tea but, to be honest, the taste of it never seemed to live up to the promise. Even so, every few months I'd pick up another brand or mix in the hope that this was the one. No luck, as each still had some sort of bitter aftertaste reminiscent of sucking on a mossy rock I just didn't like.

Recently, though, my eye was caught by the almost Florence-Broadhurst style packaging of Pukka tea, which I spotted at a local health-food shop. Thinking I'd probably wasted $7.95 on a brand of British tea, I brewed a cup of chamomile and vanilla once back home. I loved it. So much so, that I've tried two other flavours and have been equally delighted.

I'd prefer to be enamoured with an Australian brand, really I would, but with the rain absolutely beating down all of last night and still now, if someone tried to remove the cup of three-ginger (uplifting and warming) from my hands right at this moment I might have a toddler-style tanty.

I'd need a further cup of (delicately sweet and soothing) chamomile and vanilla to calm me down.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Someone left the pegs out in the rain, Donna Summer-like, and the wooden ones couldn't take it so I needed to top the peg bag up. Should be easy, I thought. Will grab something not-too-offensive from the supermarket next time I'm there.

Silly me. When did pegs become available in shocking pink? Elsa Schiaparelli would turn in her grave. Pink on its own would have been do-able but the manufacturers seemingly thought that too subtle and chucked in (or up) fluoro blue, council-vest yellow, neon orange and an uncharacteristic murky green too. Wearing sunglasses every time I hung out the washing didn't appeal.

Visits to various shops and hardware stores turned up nothing better.

I'm fussy about anything laundry related, I admit, so I had no option but to ignore the whole situation. So, for two months, there's been a peg shortage in this house. Problem resolved as of yesterday.

Now, green and gold isn't a colour combination I normally go for, unless the Olympic Games are on, but these pegs had something to offer the others didn't: they're made from recycled plastic and each individual peg is also recyclable and clearly marked as such. So, home they came.

Eco Force pegs, $3.99 for a pack of 24, from Coles. Even the plastic packet they come in is recyclable.

Rose gold

Have been on the lookout for some inexpensive but pretty camping cutlery to replace the plastic-handled stuff I turn my nose up at every time I see it. Have picked up some nice bits and pieces over the last month or two but believe I struck (rose) gold with these from Rozelle Markets last weekend.

As they'll be out of sight in our camping basket, which won't get used until at least spring, I've slipped them into the kitchen cutlery drawer for now. Not sure they'll ever leave. They'll possible never see the great outdoors, instead serving a life sentence in cutlery jail. At Her Majesty's pleasure, at the very least.

Now I just need to fix myself a nice up-do so my crown won't slip.

Edited to add that I'm belatedly linking up here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cinnamon bun cake

It's actually called Ruby's Coffee Cake, which is a bit of a misnomer as there's no coffee in it. Rather, it's a cake you'd have with coffee - or in our case afternoon tea on a cold Sunday.

It's from the Frankie magazine book Afternoon Tea, which I bought when it first came out not because of the recipes but for the granny-chic styling that was thin on the ground back then.

I've picked up the book several times but, to be honest, none of the cakes actually appealed that much as many of them look like things I'd pass over at a church fete. But not having made anything from it in four years bothered me so, against what I thought was my better judgement, I made this cake. It was really good and tastes like a cinnamon bun. The Child is now a big fan.

If you also have this book tucked away, the recipe is on page 76.

Tip: the recipe calls for a round tin but I used a loaf tin because I was worried about it being too dry to be cut into big chunks. It's not, but still think it's better suited to a loaf tin.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Heart felt

Have finished the woolly wire addition to the mantelpiece nature-table, and I'm pretty happy.

After twisting some garden wire into a basic but wobbly heart shape, I twirled some wool around it and then got out the trusty hook and double crocheted over the entire shape to add some texture.

While I suspect my heart doesn't strictly meet the found-objects old-school nature-table requirements, the wool is non-dyed naturally coloured yarn - there are five grey suffolk sheep staring at me from the band around the ball to emphasise this point - so I'm including it.

Heart-felt thanks to the scary yet slightly confused-looking sheep. So unlike The Cat who assumes everyone wants to take her photo.

See what others are up to in their creative spaces today here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ice, ice baby

With freshly baked bready pretzels, apple streudel and Belgian pancakes scenting the scene, a bunch of us sat with gloved hands wrapped around frothy coffees watching our offspring ice skate in the frosty open air. All perfectly reasonable apart from the fact we were on the sand at Bondi Beach. To be precise we were at the Bergstation, part of the Winter Festival that's on in Sydney at the moment.

As waves thundered down not far from us, it was quite a bizarre sight made even stranger with the knowledge that the Bergstation had been closed for a few hours the day before because the ocean was so rough that it was feared waves may come crashing over the top.

Lifesavers have been replaced with icesavers for the moment and they darted about scooping up fallen children or reversing anyone going against the flow. The one above was just checking The Child was alright before darting off like a solo Torville and Dean to avert another possible crisis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Brush with fame

"Desire is the root of all unhappiness," recited The Child as I reached for my purse to buy a magazine and a beautifully crafted wooden bottle brush. Why she came home quoting Buddha after attending a chocolate master class yesterday still hasn't been explained but in an attempt to be at one with the world I ditched the magazine and just bought the brush. At least I got a smile with the eye roll.

Now I'm no Margaret Olley in the still-life department but I do like the way the little jug of pencils beside my computer has been turning into a vision of domestic utilitarian loveliness of late. (Clearly, if the last sentence makes sense I'm not being arty enough.)

So my wooden bottle brush is nestling next to my dish mop, beetroot slice, paint stick and paint-tin lid remover. The only thing missing is a pomegranate.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The best of winter

Went a bit retro primary school on the weekend when tidying up the lounge room turned into fiddling with things, as it often does. Everything was taken off the mantelpiece and we introduced a bit of a nature-table feel to it. (The wooden cow was made by The Child in her technology and design class at school.)

It's lovely at night with the fire blazing below and the candles twinkling. It's a work in progress, as I can see it needs another element, which I'm working on with some wool and wire. If all goes well, I'll post a pic later. If all doesn't go well, I'll forget I ever mentioned it.

As we're heading into the third of the six coldest weeks of winter, it's fun to embrace the weather rather than fight it. We sat in front of the fire yesterday afternoon, cups of tea, warm milk, freshly baked cake, Cat snoring. Perfect afternoon.

The nature table approach (a rather fancy term for leaving sticks, stones and leaves lying about) is starting to encroach upon other parts of the house too. We visited the house some friends have just bought on the weekend and came home with a bunch of rosemary from an enormous bush that grows in their garden. I love rosemary used in a vase just for how it looks but don't often get my hands on big enough bunches.

The rosemary love doesn't stop there either as when it starts to dry out we'll either use it to cook with or throw it on the fire. Smells good, looks good, tastes good. Is good.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My cup runneth over

The people at Ikea are smart. Nothing to do with clever design at affordable prices, the vanilla-scented tea lights or even the anemic-looking hotdogs that kids seem to love (which is all about the self-serve sauce, surely). No, for me, it's the Daim chocolates.

We are now the proud owners of 400g of weekend happiness for just $9. Okay, now 350g and counting (down).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Like a surgeon

I love this old shopper, which hangs in the hallway. In summer, it contains sunblock and lipbalm and is grabbed on the way out to the beach. In winter, it's empty and becomes the bag of choice for trips to the corner shop, library and deli.

One of the handles had been coming loose for ages, which I conveniently ignored. But as that's no way to treat a (bag) lady, I lined up some craft glue, jute string and a tapestry needle to patch her up. Pretending I was starring in an episode of Grey's Anatomy, I asked The Child to scrub in and pass me the crucial implements - needle, stat! However, my upturned palm remained empty and I realised I was alone in the field. Never mind, I stitched the limb back on and declared the procedure a success.

To see what the genuinely creative are up to today head here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A little ray of sunshine

"It's not spring yet, is it?," asked The Child when she opened her curtains this morning. All because, there, on the otherwise bare-branched tree that grows outside her window was a single fully opened pink cherry blossom sparkling in the bright winter sun. Just the one.

Spring may not yet have sprung. But it does seems to be having a little think about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'Molten lava' cakes...

...are it turns out just a fancy name for soft-centred chocolate puddings. So I dug out a recipe I've had for ages but never tried. My mistake.

They are ridiculously easy and quick to make, which suits The Child just fine.

Soft-centred 'molten lava' chocolate puddings
  • 200g chocolate (we used 100g of Green and Black's milk chocolate and 100g of their 70% dark chocolate)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps flour
Melt chocolate and butter over some simmering water on the stove.

Mix eggs, sugar and flour together before adding the chocolate mixture.

Bake in four ramekins or small pudding bowls (of about a one-cup capacity each) in 200C oven for 15mins.

The puddings should have a set top and be nice and gooey in the middle.

Great with ice cream, cream and some berries.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy days

The alarm will not ring for two whole weeks. At 8.30 this morning, I slipped back into bed for a second cup of tea and a few chapters of my book. As long, luxurious lie-ins are mandatory during this time, I love the school holidays almost as much as The Child does.

The weather is crisp and today's schedule has nothing more to it than a coffee with friends followed by baking some sort of 'volcano cake' as described by The Child. When pushed for a few details, she produces a recipe for a molten chocolate cake.

Oh yes, we can do that. Day sorted.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Harden up

Popped into High Tea with Mrs Woo in Paddington a couple of weeks ago and left with this handprinted linen tea towel, $26, by Laughing Bird, a little studio based in the Blue Mountains area of NSW. Native flowers with splashes of teal blue against lineny white was just too much for me to resist. So home it came.

It's now hanging in my hallway on a pretty ordinary coathanger until I source something better, but it does the job for now.

As the linen is quite stiff, the tea towel is hanging nicely but some wouldn't. If you'd like to do something similar, try the old stylist's trick of using masking tape to line the edges at the back as this gives a bit of structure or body.

If you've ever bought Oxford pillowcases (the ones with a border all round) and wondered why it didn't sit perkily on your bed like it did in the glossy brochure/editorial/ad, now you know.