Thursday, June 27, 2013

Winter, Solstice and the Fat Lava Cake

Above: A Fat Lava plate

To celebrate the Winter Solstice last Friday, I made a cake which kind of took on an unusual was a plain cake with a base layer of chocolate icing, then orange icing and then grated dark chocolate on top. As soon as I iced it, I decided it looked like a piece of West German Fat Lava ceramic. I love Fat Lava so this was more than ok by me.

Below: My Fat Lava Winter Solstice cake. Or is it the other way around?

Image from

The light is a little yellow in my cake photo but I think this is quite appropriate given the wonderful creamy-yellow hue of the full 'super moon' on the Solstice. Did you see it?

Not my photo! This image is from the Huffington Post.

It has been so cold here lately which has been absolutely perfect for indulging my passion for 'cozy mysteries'. Yes, this is a real genre of writing! Essentially, they are murder-mysteries which happen in cozy locations. I am just finishing off The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue (the crime takes place in a quilt shop) and last week I read Motif for Murder by Laura Childs (the main character runs a scrapbooking shop). So good for sitting in front of the heater! If you're looking for the bleak gore of a Scandinavian 'krimi' forget it, but these are good reads nonetheless and ideal for the crafty amongst us!

Although last night television was completely choked up with news of our current political drama, telly on the whole has been woeful lately - just when we need it most, on cold midwinter nights!! Our answer has been to download some goodies off itunes and we are currently besotted with Hell on Wheels, set in 1870s America. Have you seen it? We polished off Game of Thrones last week but I will say nothing about The Red Wedding...lest I ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

I am loving this song, a great accompaniment to reading a 'cozy' in front of the heater in the evenings. Taken from the Hell on Wheels soundtrack, it is performed by two great Australian singers, Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson.

Enjoy x

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baking Days and Mondays

This weekend just past was the Queen's Birthday weekend here in Australia. The Queen's birthday is actually in April, but we take a day in June to acknowledge it. Go figure.

The weather is rather bleak at present - grey days for the most part, rainy and cold - and as any owners of old houses will know, it is in this sort of weather that your house starts to look, well, how can I put it...crap and depressing. And so it is here. Everything is cold and damp! Things that we overlooked in the summer are now very, very obvious in the cold, grey light of a winter's day. So, while my dear husband wrestled with covering the windows in plastic insulation strips, I...baked! Well, the oven keeps things warm, right?

I found the recipe for the Bayou Buttermilk Biscuits in a great book I am reading at the moment - Motif for Murder by Laura Childs. I love a 'cosy mystery' and Laura Child's books are always good fun. And's how you make Bayou Buttermilk Biscuits (great as a side with soup - I think they're a kind of American scone, really).

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons shortening (I used butter)
1 cup buttermilk

Combine all dry ingredients. Chop in butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix to form dough. Roll or pat out to a 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into rounds with a glass or a biscuit cutter. Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius) until golden. Makes between 12-18 (I got 18!)  

And this happy chappie below is 'Paddington Bear's Favourite Marmalade Cake' from Jane Brocket's Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. Perfect with tea for toasting Her Maj.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Moomin with a stomach-ache

Just think, never to be glad or disappointed. Never to like anyone and get cross at him and forgive him. Never to sleep or feel cold, never to make a mistake and have a stomach-ache and be cured from it, never to have a birthday party, drink beer, and have a bad terrible.

~ Tove Jansson, Tales from Moominvalley

Despite the fact that I don't understand a word of Finnish, I am a 'friend' of the Moominvalley museum at Tampere in Finland ( - the image above is from there) on Facebook. Recently, they announced that a new guided tour was being launched entitled "Kohdata, vaeltaa, tulla kotiin – olemisen tapa Muumilaaksossa". With the help of Google Translate, combined with my own understanding of the Moomin stories, I am reading this to mean "To meet, to wander, to come home to - a way of being in the Moomin Valley". Any Finnish readers of this blog are most welcome to contradict me (and say hello!). Because the Moomin stories seem to me to be about going out into the world (Moominvalley and sometimes beyond), meeting all sorts of people (or other beings, as the case may be) but always knowing that you have the security of home to back you up and to go back to. Moomin-fans (and others!), what do you think? Just quietly, I think Tove Jansson was something of a philosopher...

Life is all about being alive, in whatever way we may express that. The Moomins get that, and I think I might be starting to as well.

Enjoy x

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bits and Bobs

I seem to be spending a lot of time researching things online at the moment and as I'm sure you know, one Net search can lead to any number of rabbit holes to rush down...

One thing I have discovered is that the Moomin characters I love so much also featured in their own cartoon strips. Did you know that? Have you read them? So now I have a whole other set of Moominalia to collect (yes, I just invented that word)! The cartoon strips above were a part of a very sweet article from the pop culture site Buzzfeed called "50 Lessons that Moomins can teach you about life" (

I am often obsessed with one historical period or another, and when I was looking at these pictures of Edwardian hairstyles the other day, I was struck by how close most of them are (with a little modification) to long hair styles today. What do you think?

But I haven't been deskbound and square-eyed all week. I have also been doing some practical things and crossing a few craft want-to-do's off the list...

This is a little pouch I made from the wool I bought in Beechworth. I attached blue wren and possum charms to it.

And these are some metal bangles I wrapped in fabric and gold embroidery thread. I have to say, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I rather like them! Tomorrow I'll show you a Dr Who style scarf I've just finished which I might, might, might be able to convert into a sontag. I think...

PS Have you heard we are to get a new doctor on Dr Who? Will you miss Matt Smith? I think I will, but not as much as I did David Tennant...