Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twisted tale

During dinner with friends recently, I was complaining about how I couldn't find a simple hose tidy that wasn't a twee reproduction number in heritage colours, plastic or just plain ugly.

I was invited to take a look at their hose tidy as, if I liked it, they had a spare one as they had been given two by female friend's parents yet were only going to use one. Friend's husband, The Cameraman Who's Always Right, while a generous man in every other way, can be a teeny bit of a hoarder and tried to pretend it was still in storage (they'd been renovating). No it's not, was his wife's reply that came accompanied with an eye roll.

I managed to get it into the car and drilled it into the wall early next morning before he could invent some dubious reason for its return, such as using it to keep his camera cords neat.

Came from a market in Canberra (don't know which one, unfortunately) and I love it.

Monday, January 30, 2012


My collection of natural cleaning brushes is growing. At The Bay Tree last week, I added two types of brushes that I haven't come across before (if you don't count plastic components - if you do, of course, they're everywhere): a scrubbing brush and a thin bottle brush.

Best of all, at Orange Grove markets on Saturday the stall that sells my beloved natural dishmops was back - but without the dishmops as she'd sold out. This stall is a bit like Brigadoon - you never know when the mists will part and reveal her wares to the human eye. Luckily, though, she takes orders.

Next time I see her I'll also pick up one of the Tumut Broom Factory's millet brooms she carries. I didn't have enough money on me on Saturday - they're $45 - as fruit, veg and a bunch of eucalyptus was my priority.

Now I have to use my scrubbing brush rather than just admire it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking up

The Child and I decided to take a morning to check out the Laneway Art exhibition. The blow-up PVC sculpture, Donut, above, is supposedly referencing "European and Indigenous depictions of time travel and healing" as well as the the "circular branches of Aboriginal healing trees" and "contemporary pop culture: a 'pie in the sky', something unattainable yet delicious". Luckily I'd read up beforehad as I was able to pass on this information rather than tell The Child it was something that floated over from the New Year's Eve fireworks and got stuck between the buildings.

What I found most interesting was the exhibition took us to five laneways in the city that I didn't even know existed (six artworks, one lane I knew). Rather than rushing by, we walked in and looked around and discovered pockets of Sydney that have remained hidden from me all my life. I now know of somewhere to get takeaway sushi midweek and then sit in the sun away from the crowds as well as the bowels of Westfield.

The experience reminded me of a story I wrote years ago when I was a staff writer for the now-defunct SHE magazine. It was all about simple pleasures and solutions. One that's stuck with me is to take the time to look up sometimes instead of just ahead. Whenever I do this I always notice something new (to me).

And you don't have to live in a big city for this to apply. You may be walking under a lovely bird's nest in a tree every day but never noticed. Just make sure you look back down before you cross a road...

On another note, the experiments from Favourite Cakes, the book I blogged about last week, continue. So far, we've made Honey Syrup Cake, Vanilla Angel Food Cake with Fresh Berry Icing, Chocolate Roulade with Berry Cream and Apricot Blondies, above. All good. All easy. All chosen and approved of by The Child.

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bags it

Picked up this calico bag yesterday as I wanted needed it to carry home all the lovely stonefruit (today's favourite: white peaches) available right now. Much better than the fruit getting bruised rolling around at the bottom of the bigger bag I take to the markets.

I got it at Jodie McGregor Flowers in Annandale for $3.95 and I'll be going back to get a few other designs. They're from Apple Green Duck and available online here.

I already have another of their bags, the hampi, which is cotton and rolls up so I pull it out of my handbag whenever I'm caught short at the shops - much nicer than the ubiquitous synthetic ones. Their animal-print calico bags, I think, would be perfect for kids' book bags.

Hand-on-heart this is not an ad. Just lovely products.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Friday Night Lights

At the end of last year, the first season of Friday Night Lights ended on free-to-air TV. We wanted to know what happened so we bought season two on DVD. Then we bought season 3. Seasons 4 and 5 aren't available on DVD in Australia but we sniffed them out and bought them digitally from iTunes.

So to say we've been having a little bit of a televisual marathon is somewhat of an understatement. But now that we're done, we're in mourning. Life after Coach Taylor is taking a little adjusting to. What would Tami Taylor do? (Coach's wife) seems a bizarrely appropriate question to ponder at our place at the moment when faced with a dilemma.

Watching a good series on DVD (or digitally) is incomparable to putting up with ads and timeframes dictated by the networks: the experience far more engrossing and satisfying.

I was dubious about watching a series about a high-school football coach based in Texas, to say the least. But then I heard an ABC radio broadcaster, who's known for having zero interest in any sport, let alone American sport, give it the thumbs up, I recorded the first episode and eventually became hooked.

Happily, the makers knew the show would end after the fifth series and so all the storylines wrapped up beautifully making the whole thing feel like a mega-movie.

I'm starting to think I may need a pair of cowboy boots in my wardrobe.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life's a beach

We're attempting to do something most mornings of the holidays so we can justify doing nothing in the afternoons. A favourite something is a swim in the Pacific at our Sydney beach of choice, Clovelly.

Coming round the bend of the aptly named Ocean Street always puts a smile on our faces.

Past Clovelly Bowling Club, which must be the best-situated bowling club in the city.

We had a rock-star park right at the top of the path that leads to our favourite spot at the beach, only possible midweek. Usually it's The Husband's job to drop us off here while he scours the area.

For anyone who doesn't know Clovelly, it's an almost paperclip-shaped bay with sand at one short end and open to the ocean at the other. To the sides, the rocks have been concreted over to form platforms that make the water accessible to all. This was done during the Depression to provide jobs for the unemployed.

The result being Clovelly Beach is like a huge ocean pool where the water reaches the concrete edges like an infinity pool at high tide and you can dive straight in. At low tide, there's lots of ladders to help. The sandy end is mostly used by families with very young children and the sides by everybody else.

To the other side of Clovelly Bowling Club is Waverley Cemetery, which has got to be one of the best-positioned in the world. Standing here gives an idea of the shape of the coast, as you can see the sand of both Bronte and Bondi Beaches to the north.

Have a lovely weekend. x

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Favourite Cakes

As I have a lot of cookbooks, I don't generally look at books specialising in just one aspect of cooking, such as sweets, as I figure I've already got hundreds of cake recipes I've forgotten about in the back of books I already own. But our local bookshop was having a sale and I remember being given a small book by this author, Julie Le Clerc, some years back that I rather liked.

Flicked through Favourite Cakes and knew these recipes were easy and tempting enough for The Child to want to make herself. So far, we've made (okay, she chose it and I actually baked it) the Honey Syrup Cake and have the Vanilla Angel Food Cake with Berry Icing earmarked for today.

The Honey Syrup Cake was a huge hit - tasted like a fresh, moist Honey Jumble biscuit minus the icing - and The Child, who usually values chocolate cake much highly above all others, declared it one of her all-time favourites.

What's nice about this book is that most of the ingredients are simply listed in cups, tablespoons and teaspoons, which I find nostaligically refreshing in this age of celebrity chefdom and molecular gastronomy.

Pass me an apron and call me grandma.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Floral tribute

2012 has finally reached STSP and I've been celebrating with Australian natives. My absolute favourite botanicals for their sculptural, rough, wild beauty. They always remind me of beach holidays where banksias line the bush paths that lead to the sea.

So when I saw a set of vintage placemats at I Like Birds last week for $12, there was no doubt these were coming home.

It's said that Australian soliders sailing home from WWI could smell home before they could actually see it, thanks to the smell of euclyptus wafting towards the ships on a sea breeze. Don't think that's actually true but a nice myth worthy of the mighty gum tree. And they're as easy on the eye as they are the nose when they're flowering. At the top is a sprig of flowering gum, a bunch of which I picked up at Orange Grove Markets in Lilyfield for $15 (best inner-west markets for flowers by far, in my opinion).

Pre and post Christmas I kept picking up branches or bunches and at one point I was lucky enough to have some in every room. I didn't manage to snap a pic of all the Christmas bush we had around the place, which is unfortunate as nothing else, apart from cherries, says December like it.

The sturdier branches even look good when they're finished, not that I've actually finished with these just yet. They'll be put away and retrieved come winter as kindling for the fireplace. Try doing that with peonies.

We're still in holiday mode here and will be throughout January, so I'll be posting three times a week instead of five during the school holidays.

Hope you're having a wonderful start to 2012.