Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are you on the bus? *

I especially love the blue one...
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Item from Etsy shop: Ajs Patterns

Lately I have been getting in touch with my inner hippie. I have been scrolling through Etsy's vintage shops for far too long looking for maxi dresses, patchwork skirts and flowing handknits. Perhaps it has something to do with identifying with the era I was born in or maybe it is just listening to too much Judy Collins at the moment? Or maybe the clips of Life on Mars I have been enjoying all over again on You Tube? Whatever the case, the advice to tune in, drop out and turn on can never be bad advice for a stress monkey like me!

Do you remember the 70s? Or the 60s? Or perhaps you're just a hippie at heart?

Classic Maxi dress updated
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Item from Etsy shop: HippieGypsyBohemian

Gorgeous original Jean Muir dress
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Item from Etsy shop: Martin Mercantile

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Item from Etsy shop: Ruby Chic Boutique

The lovely Judy Collins
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* The American writer Ken Kesey, in relation to the 1960s Counterculture, said "Now, you're either on the bus or off the bus. If you're on the bus, and you get left behind, then you'll find it again. If you're off the bus in the first place — then it won't make a damn."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food glorious food

Yummy doings from a fairly chilly weekend. Plain cake with tinned plums on top and soda bread. Both pictured here straight from the oven. Soda bread is very good with cream cheese and avocado on top! It's just like a giant scone, really.

The Polish restaurant on Saturday night was excellent too - potato blintzes, pierogi (Polish dumplings) and goulash, with hawthorn berry vodka to wash it down. Oh my.

What's been emerging from your kitchen lately?

Friday, March 23, 2012

And Other Stories...

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While I was at our local library yesterday, I found Puffin by Design by Phil Baines, all about the wonderful book covers of the Puffin children's imprint of Penguin books. How well I remember these books! Flicking through Puffin By Design, I realise how many of them I had (and loved). Did you have any Puffin books? I was actually a member of the Puffin Club!

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I especially love the little note on the cover of Hazel Evans' Things to Do - "Have fun with odds and ends". Do kids still do that? I hope so.


The weather has taken a wintry turn here in Melbourne. Very blustery winds and hail on the way, apparently. We are eating out at a Polish restaurant on the weekend and it seems like just the sort of weather for some hearty European food!


I really enjoyed the "Arctic" series with Bruce Parry which was on TV here recently. Reindeers, Russian grandmas making home remedies with things they'd picked in the forest...I do hope I get to see the Northern Lights one day. Have you seen them?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ring, Ring

I keep meaning to tell you about the terrific ring making course I went to the weekend before last. As you may know, I make and sell a little bit of jewellery, so I was really looking forward to gaining a few more skills at the 'Make a ring in a day' course at the CAE. It was a really enjoyable day! The teacher was extremely patient and encouraging and there were all sorts of tools to play with...soldering irons, ring buffers, hacksaws! I hadn't realised it but I think - quite unexpectedly - I am becoming a rather practically minded person. I was quite surprised with how my ring turned out - it was a good deal better than I thought it would be!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday nights in

Usually my husband cooks the mains and I am in charge of cakes, biscuits, puddings and other such desserty things. On Saturday night, though, I thought I'd give my new cookbook - Russian, German & Polish Food & Cooking by Catherine Atkinson and Trish Davies - a bit of a go. A lot of it was cooked in butter so it's all probably 'sometimes food' as they say on Sesame Street. But, it has to be said, cooking in butter makes things very tasty and it all turned out quite yummily, even if the chef says so herself. Potato pancakes, braised celery with cheese and asparagus. Not too bad at all. I am yet to convince my husband to try what I have been given to understand is a Russian style of serving tea - black tea with a spoonful of cherry jam mixed in. Personally, I love it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Be who you are

Shells at Rømø beach on the western coast of Denmark. Photo by me, last year.

It's funny but when I was a child, I didn't read Dr Seuss. I've just found a rather good quote of his, though, and I thought you might like it.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

Apparently, dancing for twelve minutes is a way to beat writer's block. Having had a birthday not long ago, I went in search of some music from around the time of my arrival. Think I could bust a move or two to a bit of T-Rex... How about you? What gets your toes tapping?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wild and Precious

A lovely photo I took last year in Germany, while we were visiting with Bodecea.

Lately I have discovered the beautiful poetry of the American writer Mary Oliver. She writes so joyously and so compellingly about nature; its myriad, minutiae activity and its huge importance. I have Why I wake early from our local library. Have you read her poems?

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Some wonderful thoughts from Mary, which give me so much to think about in just a handful of simple but beautiful words.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I made a plain cake with tinned pears in it on Friday night to take to dinner with my parents. All the pears sank into the middle of the cake! It tasted fine but I had actually hoped they would perch on top and look pretty like some sort of swish tarte tartin in a French bakery... I tried again on Sunday with tinned peaches and I was quite pleased.

I am reading a lot of Romantic poetry at the moment while researching my novel-in-progress and in doing so I stumbled across the film about John Keats which was made a couple of years ago, Bright Star. I love this scene, with a room full of butterflies. What a lovely notion.

We're having something of an Indian Summer here at the moment. Summer proper really seemed to have died away - I was putting extra blankets on the bed and getting the jumpers out of mothballs - and yet we're now having a spell of temperatures hovering around 30 degrees (celsius).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Living on ice cream and chocolate kisses

I have been working on...gulp...a novel lately. I have been writing short stories for quite a while but this 'bigger' idea has been just sitting there, nestled in my brain, waiting for me to do something with it. It's a bit of a scary undertaking to imagine writing 60,000-odd words of fiction and, as a result, I have scared myself away from the whole concept on several occasions. But lately I have armed myself with a number of very interesting books on writing to give me faith and fortitude as well as some all important structure. The best one so far has been First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner, if you're interested.

To keep me company while I poke and prod at my imagination, I have been giving You Tube a fairly serious workout. I had forgotten entirely how good Billy Bragg is (sorry Billy)! I used to love listening to him in the 80s and 90s. Have you re-discovered any old faves like that recently?

And...lastly, but by no means least(ly)...Happy International Womens Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bear with me (sorry)

I have always had something of a penchant for bears (my large legion of teddy bears bears (!) witness to this). I was so sad when I heard that the polar bear Knut had died at the Berlin Zoo. There is now another polar bear 'star', Siku, who lives at the Skandinavisk Dyrepark (Scandinavian Wildlife Park) in Djursland, Denmark. There's a webcam set up at the Wildlife Park which captures Siku's sweet cavortings ( and I found this lovely 'highlights' clip (below) ~

I realise that zoos do an enormous amount to understand and preserve animal life but I do wonder also that animals wouldn't simply be best living in their own environments. Perhaps this is too simplistic. What do you think?

I have also recently become aware of the Free the Bears organisation, which helps many of the appallingly treated bears in Asia ( Such beautiful animals.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hey Hey

Sad news today that 60s pop star Davy Jones has died. I so clearly remember watching The Monkees on Sunday morning tv when I stayed over at my grandparents house, with my grandmother sitting beside me complaining about 'this modern music!'.

And how well Davy Jones summed up that sweet, boy-next-door 60s look when he was in The Brady Bunch.

Didn't you just long for your favourite pop star crush to turn up on the doorstep and ask you out? Innocent days :)