Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Colours of Summer

The tomatoes and smaller capsicums are from our garden, as are the lemons. We can't claim those luscious apricots as our own, or the huge peppers. But what a gorgeous array of colour is exploding in the various bowls I have dotted around the kitchen this week! It's the sort of vibrancy that an Australian summer does so well.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dormouse Dreaming

If this is not the cutest thing ever...a dormouse snoozing and snoring, courtesy of the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Hope you've got a lovely weekend planned. I will be knitting - despite 33 degrees being predicted! - and reading Barbara Pym.

By the way, is anyone else having problems leaving comments on Blogger blogs?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Feeling hot, hot, hot

Summer is in progress in earnest here in Australia. We are expecting 34 degrees today and tomorrow. High 20s and low-mid 30s for the rest of the week. Bleh! 25 degrees is about my limit. After that, if there's heat for any length of time, the house just heats up and up and won't cool down. We don't have air-con but we do have overhead fans and I try to seal the heat out wherever I can. But, as you can see, it still sneaks its way in... everywhere in the house is bathed in a glowing orangey light this morning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"This fascinating terrier..."

Image of Miss F.S. Sterling with King Charles St Anthony Sun Spot from the Library of Congress.

I am not really a 'dog person'. I don't dislike them (though big ones give me the heebee-jeebies) but I don't actually own one either. Last night though, while trying to tidy up our considerable book shelves, I happened across The West Highland Terrier by Holland Buckley. Written in 1911, I picked up a reprint of it some years ago when I was hooked on Hamish Macbeth and his little westie, Wee Jock. The photographs of beautifully dressed Edwardian ladies with their little bands of westies gathered round are so sweet and the very serious photo of Mr W. Baker, Honourable Secretary of the West Highland White Terrier Club is just splendid. The dogs' names are lovely too -

Morova and Mora
Dazzler Sands
Tiny and Jean
Minnie and Flora

This little book is such a sweet expression of how much people connect with and love animals.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Colour my world

Image from www.jakesdirect.com

I am fixated on the colour green at the moment. I don't mean that loud, glaring apple green that seems to be so popular right now but soft greens, sea greens, heath greens, the muted palette of green taken from nature. I've seen it in tweed material, and in wool (the likes of which is also often described as 'tweed' in colour) and also in that very beautiful, gentle thing that is sea glass.

Image from blog.ounodesign.com

Image from http://knitting-loop.yarnshopping.com/

Image from www.sourisbythesea.com

Image from www.seaglassjewelry.com

I would love to do some beachcombing and find some more of my own seaglass but it is hot here in Australia right now, so every beach is packed to the gills. Not ideal for peaceful beachcombing or for getting to the prettiest bits of seaglass first! If you're in southern Australia, do you have a favourite beach?

What's your favourite colour? Where are you finding inspiration right now?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some Days are Diamonds

I've had a bit of a funny week. While it started off very well with a great short course at Writers Victoria, the next couple of days were consumed by some considerable professional disappointment. But I am starting to feel better now and a little more 'on track'. This is due to a combination of -

1. When it first happened, swearing quite a lot for a couple of minutes to no-one in particular in the privacy of my own home
2. Calming down and talking things through with my sweet, sweet husband and dear mum
3. Sleeping on it
4. Cleaning up my study so I was not a) surrounded by clutter b) surrounded by stuff to remind me about what had just bombed out
5. Having a little bit of good old-fashioned sulking time while I was on my own (just a little bit, though)
6. Finding stuff to make me laugh
7. Getting stuck into a new work project
8. Making the best bread and butter pudding ever (so good I'm going to make it again for my parents tonight)

What do you do when you've been through one of life's knocks?

Easy Bread and Butter Pudding

6-8 slices bread, crusts removed
3 eggs
3 tablespoons caster sugar
300 ml cream
Apricot jam

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Spread the bread with apricot jam and sprinkle with cinnamon
Cut into triangles and arrange in greased oven-proof dish
Whisk together eggs, sugar and cream
Pour over the bread and bake for 25 minutes

This recipe is from http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/ I used fruit bread instead of plain bread, I didn't cut the crusts off or cut the slices into triangles and apparently any jam is fine (doesn't have to be apricot).

As a character in one of the hilarious You Tube comedy clips I've been watching would say - "So good, right?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Girl who finally succumbed to the Bestseller

I am not one for bestsellers and blockbusters. I am probably just being pedantic, but I don't like to be told what I should like. I like to find that out for myself. So it is that I have side-stepped Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who played with Fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest. But last Saturday night, SBS (our foreign film channel) screened the 2009 Swedish production of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And. I. loved. it. It was quite long, but I stayed gripped from beginning to end. The plot kept up a great and engaging pace, and I loved the character of Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace).

I'm not sure if I want to see the American version of the same film which is currently in cinemas, because I loved what I saw as the 'Scandinavianess' of the film, especially that stark grey-blue natural light which is well displayed in the brief clip below. Perhaps I should see the later version, just to compare and see if there is such a thing as 'Scandinavianess' or whether I just read that into it with from my own biases and understandings of what I expected to see.

Do you think that films (or books) from different countries have different characteristics to them?

My mum, who loved all three books, is bringing me books 2 and 3 today so there is some happy reading ahead. Just as well, since our weather has taken a rather unsummery turn and it is currently raining and struggling to get to 19 degrees!


I'd better get a bit more used to reading bestsellers and the like (rather than just my nichey faves!) because I have decided to take my writing a bit more seriously this year, so I need to know who (and what) is making a success of it! I went to a course at Writers Victoria (http://writersvictoria.org.au/) on Monday and it was brilliant - very, very encouraging. If you are literary-inclined, I would heartily suggest you pay them a visit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I found this beautiful bowl at the op shop today. It's made a lovely addition to my little collection of Russian folk art bits. I'm not sure if it is in the 'Khokhloma' style (any thoughts anyone?) but it is just so lovely. I like that it is not pristine either - it looks like it has been used and loved.

Speaking of love, I have extended my yarn love to encompass mostly just green yarn and a particular shade of green at that. This is 'Rowan felted tweed aran' and I just love, love, love this tweedy green shade. I am looking at Fairisle and Aran knitting patterns at the moment - in other words punching well above my weight, skills-wise.

I am looking mainly for laughs on TV at the moment and I think I am finally into The Trip. Are you watching it? It didn't grab me at first and it still has moments of 'patchiness' for me, when I'm just not sure where it's going, but I do love their (apparent) ad-libbing.

We saw The Iron Lady on New Years Eve. Have you seen it? I knew next to nothing about Margaret Thatcher and this film gave me an interesting perspective on her. I couldn't say I warmed to her necessarily, but the complexities of her character were certainly well drawn out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Backwards and in heels

My sweet fella and I don't dance. So don't ask us (ha-ha). That was until...last night. We went to our first swing dancing class! My lack of coordination has been a well known fact since I was at primary school and my husband has two (self-professed) left feet but we have been thinking of swing classes for a while. We enjoy the music and it just looks like fun. We went to a Swing music night a couple of years ago, though, and it scared us to death. Everyone was moving so fast and they all seemed to know about a million different steps. So we retreated from that idea. But, new year and all, we thought we'd give it another try when we noticed that there were classes on offer not five minutes from where we live. So, we are baby, baby, baby swing dancers. One of the teachers very kindly and patiently walked (danced?) us through some very basic steps while the rest of the class leapt expertly around but it was fun. And we're going back next week.

Any new activities for you this year?