Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stuff I like

One thing I love about the Net is that, if I am ever fed up with my work, I can always take a quiet moment (or two!) to just skim through pictures of things I like. For no reason at all. Just to look at nice things and indulge a current enthusiasm for a little while. Such as Norwegian Forest Cats.

Or beautifully melancholy Victorian mourning jewellery...

Or beautifully melancholy Victorians...

Or the lovely Lizzie Siddal who modelled for (and painted with) the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood...first Rossetti...

Then Millais...

Or I can even bring all my fads together at once...

And what surf around the Net would be complete without an over-the-top 80s soundtrack?

What stuff do you like right now?

Monday, March 28, 2011

It begins...

Come the cooler weather and it's time to start baking (and eat, eat, eating) again...this bread looked lovely and tasted pretty good. It just needed about 10 minutes more in the oven. So if you decide to make it, I would say leave it in the oven for about 70 minutes (their original suggestion of 45 minutes was way off - I had already amended that to 60 and still it wasn't quite cooked!) So, here is the recipe for Pumpkin Bread ~

500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped

  • 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Butter, to serve (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 9cm-deep, 9cm x 19cm (base) loaf pan. Line base and 2 long ends with baking paper.

  2. Cook pumpkin in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Using a fork, mash until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes.

  3. Add flour, fennel seeds, oregano, butter, milk and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Using a spatula, level top. Sprinkle over rosemary. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean (cover with foil if over-browning during cooking). Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Lift out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with butter, if using.

Mmmm. Sugar, salt and water. Can you beat it? This is salty toffee. Combine 1 cup of caster sugar and a quarter of a cup of water in a saucepan. Gradually increase the heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to turn caramel brown. Pour mixture over a lined baking tray, sprinkle with sea salt flakes and allow to cool before breaking it up. Be careful though - mixture is very hot - I have the blister to prove it where I "just thought I'd try a little bit of it".

Friday, March 25, 2011

Autumn is here

Grey skies abound...

Beautiful Hawthorn berries are in abundance...

Little insects are battling to get about in the wind...

And summer crops are going to seed...

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fresh Produce

It's probably not going to get any fresher than this. My husband picked some carrots from our vegetable patch for dinner last night and we didn't realise that this little fellow had come along for the ride into the kitchen! He very happily investigated the carrot tops while we prepared dinner and then, when we came back into the kitchen later to do the dishes, he had curled up on the table for a nap. My husband gently carried him back into the garden to continue his slumber in more familiar territory. I love our veggie patch!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Desperately Romantic Teaser

I got this idea from the wonderful Sullivan McPig over at - It should really be played on a Tuesday since it's called Teaser Tuesday but since I have started reading this great book on the weekend, I thought I would play it today. First, you post two 'teaser' sentence from a random page in the book you're currently reading and then the book's title and author. Want to play along?

"I was thinking of you and your brother, and wishing that I could see you and hoping so much that you were better: then I began to wonder how our three lives would run on together, and then, all of a sudden, I felt so strange!"

Page 257 of Desperate Romantics by Franny Moyle. It's about the Pre-Raphaelite art movement and I thought it would be a bit dry but it's really engagingly written. It was recently made into a tv series (as you can see from the book cover above).

Monday, March 14, 2011

To Japan, with love

The thriving streets of Tokyo, by night and day

Beautiful deer at Nara, close enough to touch

Votive trees at one of the main temples in Kyoto


The Emperor's Teahouse, Tokyo

A lake full of water lillies, Ueno Park, Tokyo

These are some images from our trip to Japan in 2008. As I have mentioned before I fell in love with the place. Such busily alive cities, dotted with quiet spots of incredible beauty and spirituality. An amazing, unique country.

My heart goes out to Japan in the midst of this terrible, terrible tragedy. I hope that they can begin the recovery process soon and never lose that incredible, individual spirit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Music to edit by

Lately I have been preparing for publication my thesis, which I finished writing five years ago. Yes, that's how long these things take. As you can imagine, the topic is a little stale for me now. I don't hate it and I am pleased with myself to get it to this stage but going over the minute details of several hundred five-year-old footnotes, for example, has been a little on the tedious side. To help me along, I have been scouring You Tube for as many upbeat and often downright silly 80s clips as I can lay my hands on to play while I do it. I am very sensitive to my environment and to noise, but if I like a song, I am quite happy to have it playing along quite close to my ears as I work. So that's by way of explanation for...


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Evening light over the most sincere pumpkin patch

Night falling

The beginnings of a pumpkin

Pumpkin flower

Evening light

The pumpkins are getting so great around here at the moment, they need an old rubbish bin to support them!

I love our backyard but I especially love it as the sun is going down, which at the moment is at about 7.30 p.m. There's something so soothing about the light as the day draws gently to a close.

Linus: He'll come here because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch and he respects sincerity.
Sally Brown: Do you really think he will come?
Linus: Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world.
Sally Brown: That's a good story.
Linus: You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.
Sally Brown: Welcome to the 20th century!

~ From the movie "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Wise Old Owl

I took a photo of one of my favourite owls from my little collection the other day (below) and I was instantly reminded of a nursery rhyme that my grandma used to say to me...

The Wise Old Owl sat in an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

After doing a little googling, I found that it was also used during World War Two (above) to discourage soldiers from divulging state secrets (along the lines of 'loose lips sink ships' and all that).

Do you remember any rhymes or stories like this from your childhood?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Around about the place

The passionfruit vine that just keeps on giving - we have so much passionfruit around the house right now. Passionfruit on yoghurt, in cereal, on its own...passionfruit cake is next, I think.

I am pleased that this little rose I planted when we moved in has picked up so prettily. Maybe one day it will rival its big sisters planted by my grandma...

Is this a weed? I have no idea. I kind of like it!

The lone fig. I am hoping one day to have a fig tree as big as my parents one (where this little guy came from) - theirs is about 10 feet high. I think I can, I think I can...

A beautiful, beautiful rose from the bush my grandma planted in 1948.

It has become quite a bit cooler here over the last few days, with a few reasonable showers of rain. Apparently it will warm up again this weekend, but the garden is loving a little respite from summer.

Have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ode to Autumn 2

Burne-Jones, The Seasons ~ Autumn

Having lately become addicted to Aputsiaq's beautiful site, A Polar Bear's Tale (, I thought I would continue my homage to Autumn with a little bit of art and a little bit of music.

Millais - Autumn

Such a beautiful meditative season.

If you could choose a piece of music to suit your favourite season what would it be? Or perhaps a poem?

To Autumn ~

John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ode to Autumn

The first day of March and summer is definitely on its way out. The air is noticeably cooler, the skies begin each day overcast, the cardigans have come out of the wardrobe and the birds are milling anxiously around the yard to be fed, rather than sitting languidly in the shade avoiding the glaring sunshine. I can't say I am especially sorry. I am not a fan of summer as you know - it's too boisterous a season for me here in Australia. I love the colours of the rustling leaves and the gentle afternoon sun of Autumn. They say you are most inclined towards the season in which you were born, and so it is for me. What's it like where you are?