Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wendy's Secret Garden
About ten years ago I read the biography of Australian artist Brett Whiteley and thus began my continuing fascination with him of course, but mainly his wife Wendy.
I wish I knew Wendy. I wish I could knock on her door and have a glass of wine with her in the late afternoon. I'd be wearing something black and baggy...and a turban, so we'd kind of match.
She is often called a 'cultural icon'.  While she is probably most famous for being Brett's wife and muse, she would have probably been well known, her own right, without him.
She comes from a long line of notable and creative characters. Her grandfather, Sir George Julius was the co-founder of the CSIRO, and her great-aunt, Kate O’Connor, was an extremely eccentric and larger-than-life painter who lived in Paris most of her life and wore a bright red wig.

If you don't know much about Brett and Wendy Whiteley, look them up. They are insanely interesting.
Brett died in 1992, but Wendy still lives in the house they shared in Sydney's Lavender Bay.
Originally, I was trying to find photos of Wendy's house. It has been one of my influences with high white walls and ceilings and timber flooring, to create a backdrop like an art gallery. However, I couldn't find any. Her house was photographed a few years ago for Vogue or one of those magazines. I remember she had a gorgeous zinc coated table in her kitchen.
While looking for pictures of her house I came across photos of her garden. The garden has been established for quite a while now. She built the garden on public land near her house after Brett died, then later their only child, the very beautiful Arkie. Brett and Arkie's ashes are in the garden somewhere, but only Wendy knows where.
Since I have discovered my new fondness for gardening, Wendy's garden interests me more now, and I'd just love to visit it.
Here are some photos. Can you believe the view?!

This is Wendy with her house in the background.

She always wears a turban or some sort of head dress. It reminds me of Little Edie with her perpetual skarf.
I will visit this garden myself one day soon. That's an excellent list actually - 'Places to Visit'. I'll write it down.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Get some pork on your fork!
I'm not on so much of a Debbie Downer now. My gloom at Mary's departure has lifted a lot.
For dinner tonight I made my favourite of the moment  pork belly with Vietnamese noodle salad.
Pork belly is soooo delicious. It's not difficult to cook at all - a monkey could do it. Most pieces of pork belly you buy are already scored, but if your piece isn't, just cut it through the skin in a broad cross-hatch pattern to make it easy to cut after it's cooked.
Rub the skin with plenty of salt (preferably Maldon, or good quality salt)  and let it sit for half an hour before wiping most of the salt off.
Put some oil in a metal baking pan and then put the pork belly in the pan, skin down. Bake it at 220 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn it down to 190 and cook for about another one and a quarter hours for a 1kg piece.
Then turn it over so the skin is facing up and bake until it goes crisp - maybe another 20 or 30 minutes.
When I turn my skin side up I put my fan forced grill on in the oven and it crisps up in no time.
Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing up to serve.
I make a simple, quick Vietnamese style rice noodle salad. Cook your rice noodles, then add sliced cucumber, carrot, iceberg lettuce, mung bean sprouts, mint, coriander ( or just a few of these things ). Dress it with a splash of fish sauce, lime juice and a spoonful of soft brown sugar. Throw in sliced chili too if you're in the mood.
It's such a yummy dinner. You could really jazz it up further if you're having a dinner party. Top the salad with fried, crushed peanuts and add a few prawns, for example.

Yesterday was Friday and for dinner we packed up a barbecue and in 15 minutes we were here.

Bellbird Grove is so close to where we live, and yet it's half way to Mount Glorious. I love being able to escape the city pronto, when the urge arises.
We have been doing a lot of painting - the outside of our house, lower level, still needs painting. We've also been doing a lot of gardening. I'm loving the garden because everything seems to grow so well at the moment.
Our main bedroom has been bugging me. It really needs something done with it, although I haven't been able to find any ideas really. I like this....

and this....
Ha! Just kidding. I really need to do some research though.

I really love Don & Betty Draper's bed - sorry about the raunchy photo, it's all I could find.

I've found this bed head on Ebay, which just needs recovering......

However, with my pile of  'projects' forming a mountain and threatening to fall down and crush me, I'm loathe to get something else that's not ready to just go into place. I love that bed head though. Maybe I could allow in one more, than shut the gate....and lock it on all further projects until I clear the back log?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Farewell to Mary Agnes
Our friends from across the road moved back to Melbourne today, taking our little ex-dog Mary Agnes with them. They have a two day road trip ahead of them.
Inspired by the Jack Russell our friends owned, we decided to buy one too. About ten years ago, we took a trip out to Gatton on a Friday night and met a man at the KFC there, who let us select our puppy from the four he had running around in the boot of his car.
He said she was placid, which she wasn't. The following day we were having breakfast at Tognini's in Milton, mainly to show off our new puppy, when a lady walking past stopped suddenly. 'Is that a Jack Russell?', she demanded.
'Yes', I said proudly. 'Good luck!', she scoffed and marched off.
Mary has a piercing, frantic yap, even now, as she's approaching her tenth birthday. As a little puppy, one of our neighbours would often put a note in our letterbox saying how she barked while we were out. It got to the point where Mary went to live with my sister.....for about four years! It was meant to be six months, but when I said we could take her back, I was met with resistance. She's a lovable little thing.
When my sister moved into a townhouse Mary had to come back to live with us. The problem with this was, that we had a cat and no fence.
Since our friends dog had just passed away, they were keen to look after Mary for us. The three of them fell in love, and that is how my little dog has come to move two states away.
I feel a bit teary actually. It's amazing how humans get attached to some animals, and eat others!

This is the little mutt...and she is tiny. I've always kept an eye out for a Jack Russell as small as her and have never seen one.
I keep looking over at their house, which is in darkness. I feel abandoned. Will she think about me?
Maybe this is karma?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Getting frocked
This morning we whipped up these little apple tea patty cakes. They were 'delicioso', as Dora would say.
When you're a mother you need to be able to whip up a dozen patty cakes (or cupcakes as the Americans call them) in record time.

I've made thousands of them I think. Whenever I go shopping I throw a couple of bags of the generic brand cake mix in vanilla. These normally cost about 67c.  With this mix you can make about a thousand different varieties of cake.
With these, we mixed it up and put it into the patty papers, then sprinkled them with diced fresh apple, brown sugar and cinnamon, then baked.
You can add cocoa for chocolate cakes, throw in some mixed frozen berries and white chocolate, add lemon zest, coconut, mashed banana, whatever, whatever.
Now, I have been collecting old frocks for years. I thought you may be interested to see a couple.
This one below has a doubtful heritage since I bought it on Ebay one night. You could say I was drink-bidding, similar to drink-dialling but more expensive.

It may have come from America? It's the most gorgeous shade of salmon pink.

I happened to have this little ostrich wrap thing that goes with it. Don't worry, I'll never wear it out.

One Saturday morning I was at the West End Markets at about 6.30am and came across a girl newly arrived from Sydney who was offloading some vintage stuff to get some cash. I bought these three pieces from her.

I really should have put this black and gold one on the mannequin, it definitely needs a body in it. I call it the 'Russian dress'.

These little purses were all Euphemia's, Doris' or Gwennies?

These skarves were Gwennie's. I presume they are good fakes. Gwennie treated herself, but I think these would have been ott. One is a Chanel and the other is a Hermes with little hot air balloons on it. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A sunny Saturday
Post-flood the weather has actually been the sunniest we've had all Summer. We headed outside and finished painting one side of the house, then we put in some hedge plants.

As you can see, I moved the gardenias I'd bought for the pots at the back door downstairs, and put them in the ground (hmm, that sentence needs a bit of work, but hopefully you know what I mean). We'll see how they go there.
The hedge plants are our trusty murrayas. We aren't fantastic gardeners, so we have to largely stick to what we know.
All the rain, as much of a curse as it has been (a mad understatement), has actually made everthing grow madly. Even things in pots are looking spiffy.

Soon we will be turning out attention to a neglected corridor which needs plants and turf, and attention in general. All in good time though.

Lotus from Red Phoenix Style ( gave me this award.

I dón't want to blow my own trumpet, but it's not easy being stylish while banging on about guinea pigs and hedge plants and lentil dahl. I think 'stylish' may be a bit ott actually.
Now I have to detail seven interesting facts about myself, as I understand. Since I couldn't think of any interesting ones, these will have to suffice.

Fact 1
I love American sitcoms. My favourite is The Nanny. There I said it. I even know every word to the theme song....She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens, til her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes, what was she to do, where was she to go, she was out on her fanny.....
Whilst The Nanny may be my favourite, I believe Seinfeld is actually the best. People will still be laughing at that in 50 years.

Fact 2
I have been looking for the perfect nude lipstick my entire adult life. Frustratingly, last year I found an old one of my mother's which was from Avon, but (this is the frustrating bit) I couldn't read the name on the bottom, it was so old. If anyone knows a good one for a fair skinned, blue eyed brunette, please don't hold it back.

Fact 3
My favourite food is Vietnamese. For me, it is like medicine, all those fresh raw vegetables, lean meats and deliciously salty sauces. There is no big night out that cannot be corrected the next day with a huge bowl of clear Viet soup.

Fact 4
When I was a teenager/young woman I wanted to grow up and be the Editor of US Vogue. When I was a teenager/young woman, Anna Wintour was the Editor of US Vogue. I have in fact, worked very briefly for Australian Vogue, but that didn't quite scratch the itch.

Fact 5
My father only has nine toes, although I hasten to add that he was not born like this. He had a motobike accident as a young man and curiously his second toe (next to his big toe) was cut off.

Fact 6
If I could go back and live in another decade, I think I'd choose the roaring twenties, sans 1929 of course.

Fact 7
I have been with my husband for twenty years this year. We started 'going out' when we were 19, and we got married a week after I turned 26.

That's it. Told you it wasn't very interesting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blog luv XX

These are some of  (but not all) the blogs that I am a big fan of.
This belongs to a friend of a friend. She's obviously a very talented gal. Beautiful colours and funny stories.
As you probably know this belongs to my super talented friend EAP. There's plenty of snippets of her beautiful house and some great befores and afters.
This is my cousin, Fiona's, blog. She lives in the bush and is annoyingly talented at pretty much anything she tries; mothering, photography, artificially inseminating cows, things like that.
Most of you will know this one. Witty, glamorous, always good for a laugh.
I think this blog has changed it's name now. It used to be Posie Gets Cozy.  Alicia Paulson is a clever little Amercian girl who whips up all manner of things, food and crafty-wise. She has published her own books now.
For a bit of fashion.

I have been doing a bit of soothing trawling lately and these are some of my latest op shop finds.

Anchor Hocking Royal Ruby Vase ($1), manufactured between 1937 and 1976. Hasn't been cleaned yet, but it's still pretty.

Cute little Anna Sui cocktail dress ($15) with little cherries embroidered over it. Made in the US.

Silver candlestick ($5), nothing special but I really like it.

Megan Park grey/green silk dress ($15) from last Summer's collection. Megan Park could roughly be described as the UK version of Easton Pearson, even though technically I think she is Melbourne born. What I would like to know is if this is what some woman has thrown out, what has she deemed good enough to keep??  It's beautifully made and I love the cream beaded detailing around the neckline.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh, the Places You'll Go!
by Dr Seuss
(This is one of my favourite books ever, hardly a children's book, but something every adult should certainly have. I feel the need to have a read every now and again.)

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. and you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Whevever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. Bust mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.

Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play again you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 per cent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So....get on your way!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tom & Eric Show
When I woke up this morning I had no idea I'd have two extra mouths to feed in the household by the time I went to bed, but that's how it's panned out.
This morning my husband called me from work to say someone he knew, knew someone who had a daughter who was going overseas and was giving away her two guinea pigs, hutch and all.
All our children asked for for Christmas was a guinea pig, or a guinea rabbit as they call them. They received two toy ones which squeak and carry on, but it's not quite the same as having a real live pooping one.

Needless to say, they were delivered just after lunch. The brown one is Eric and the white one is Tom. One is named after Mr Baby and the other is just a name we liked. They smell like celery, carrot and manure. I actually plan to harvest their manure for our vegetable garden when we get it going. I think it would be super dooper fertilizer. They're like tiny cows, I might even end up with a whole 'herd' of them. I think they're proper name is Cavia?
They are nervous little things. They seem to think they've landed in Brazil and might be at any time, sauteed for entree.
One thing I learnt today about guinea rabbits is that they make cats seem the most attentive, affectionate animals ever. I think I just won't expect much from them and I shouldn't be disappointed.
Our friend from over the road had dinner with us tonight. He brought Mary with him of course. They both leave for Melbourne on Tuesday morning. They will both be missed.
We'll have a bit more of a special dinner on Monday night, but for tonight I still dragged out these pretty placemats. They are actually made of rubber or plastic.

Remember we got these yellow and white striped awnings last year, but only along the back of the house? Well, the sun seemed to changed direction a bit once it got to Summer and we needed to get them down the side too.

They also offer a bit of privacy.

We almost got a storm this afternoon, but it seemed to blow away before we got too much rain. I thought a shower may be helpful for people to wash the mud off things and to soften it up again so it's easier to remove.

The massive clean-up continues, and will do so for a long time yet. My friend EAP helped out for a couple of days and wrote about it on her blog, 
A house across the road from us sold last year and the family moved to Indooroopilly into their brand new house, which was flooded half way up the top floor.
There are so many terrible stories emerging that don't make it onto the news. For those not affected there can be an incredible feeling of guilt.
It is terrible to see our beautiful city covered in sticky, horrid smelling mud, roads are cracked and pot holed.
I cannot imagine what you would do if you lost everything you owned, including the family home, and you had no insurance.  Where and how would you start to rebuild your life?
Flood affected or not, the whole experience has reminded people of what truly matters. I look at parts of the 'garden' that are nothing but bare rubble and some weeds, and suddenly I'm not in such a rush anymore. I am just happy that we are all well and safe.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Heading for the hills
Today has been dubbed Salvation Saturday, and thousands of volunteers answered the call for help with the clean-up.
We saddled up the children and headed for the hills. This may not seem very helpful, but as Can-Do says, the clean up is a marathon not a sprint. We are sure there will be just as much work to help with, long after the flood falls from the headlines. Some people will be homeless for months, if not a year or two.
We decided to take a trip through Dayboro, a small village about half an hour out of town, but would you believe it? Dayboro has obviously had a lot of water through the town too.
The creek crossing just before town has been trashed by floodwater, as have the roads. We saw a lot of this.
Mostly though, Dayboro and Mt Mee look as though someone has just rolled out a luscious green carpet. Very picturesque.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I whipped up this (frozen) spinach and ricotta tart for lunch. I use a quiche base of about five eggs and half a cup of cream - then add whatever; smoked salmon and dill, roast pumpking and fetta, caramelised onions and bacon, I could go on all day.

I shall be fully workshopping the idea of cooking with tinned and frozen fruit and veg. The prices are already taking off and potatoes have become a thing of the past for some reason?
I've also noticed the odd person stocking up on Aeorogard. Hot tip! Apparently Listerine, the mouth wash is excellent for keeping sandflies off you if you just rub it on your skin. I haven't tried it, mozzies only bite me if they're really desperate.
Meanwhile, I have been talking amongst my friends about what possessions we'd take with us if we had to evacuate our house in an hour. God forbid we are ever in that situation. What would you take?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The waiting game
Now everyone is waiting for the flood waters to recede. Then the massive, massive clean up begins. Apparently, it will take about two years for things to fully restore. We plan to go and help at Rosalie if we can.
My husband hurt his back filling sandbags and got a bit of heatstroke to boot! He said there were plenty of volunteers from all walks of life lending a hand.
Meanwhile, I found another photo of an animal dodging the floodwaters.
This photos was on ninemsn and it was snapped around Texas on the Queensland/New South Wales border. The fox rode the tyre who knows how far, then jumped off and swam. Clever little thing.
There is something about foxes that I love.
We checked out the water at Rosalie first hand today. I thought the smell would be worse (raw sewerage and all), but to me it smelt like a restaurant the morning after a busy night. Anyone who has been a waitress or chef would know it, it's a not entirely unpleasant smell of slightly old food and stale cooking oil. Maybe this is due to the precinct being full of restaurants??  I'm sure it will get a whole lot 'stinkier' in the next few days.
This afternoon I walked down to Suncorp Stadium. The water is still sitting there too. I used to live in a house a few doors from the Stadium and I noticed it had quite a lot of damage.
Like most people I have a new found respect for our Premier. She has done a wonderful job and shown super human powers by giving a news conference almost every two hours for the last couple of days. No doubt the hoopla surrounding Christine Nixon going to dinner during the Victorian bushfires may be in the back of her mind too.
Anna Bligh has been articulate, succinct, sensible, everything we would want in a leader during a crisis.  The strain is really starting to show, but she is doing a tremendous job. I feel proud of her.
Let's hope the folks in Goondiwindi have a lucky escape from the water.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This photo is of a restaurant which sits on the Brisbane River, called Drift. It used to be called Oxley's and it's been there forever. I went there for lunch when I was a school girl.
It has apparently just 'snapped off', floated down the river, then sank to the bottom. The army is considering whether to deliberately sink the Moggill Ferry and the party boat called The Island, so they don't become floating torpedos.
Helicopters are continuing flying over our heads. It seems our favourite fish and chip shop, Fish Lovers at Rosalie is underwater.
The mayor has just announced the sewerage works has been damaged and raw sewerage is running into the river.
The streets around us are incredibly quiet, even though most people are at home.
We sit and watch the disaster on tv as it unfolds in real time just over the hill.It's almost too much to comprehend.