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Christmas and new year’s activities seem so for away now.  As I’ve taken a fair chunk of time off work, we’re now in a summer holiday frame of mind.  Some things we’ve been up to:

  • Reading: bedtime stories.  Rex is old enough to enjoy chapter books, and we’ve worked through The Hobbit, Stig of the Dump and Harry Potter.  I’m now addicted to Harry Potter books and trying to track down the rest of the series second-hand.
  • Watching: movies!  I saw Tangled with Rex, and The Tourist with Mr. Foxy.  Enjoyed them both immensely.  I saw the 3D version of the former, and there was a most delightful moment in a scene where there were lots of lanterns floating in the sky.  Rex leapt to his feet and reached out to touch one that seemed to be at arms reach, and I noticed that all the other kids in the audience were doing the same!  Magic indeed!  And I was loving the good old-fashioned escapism of adventures in Paris and Venice with the impossibly elegant Angelina and hapless yet dashing Mr. Depp.
  • Listening: to Dickens, and I always seem to turn to the Amelie soundtrack lately.  Plaintive, wistful, charming and olde-world-French.
  • Eating: too much chocolate.  But at least the latest new family meal idea has proved to be a winner – pesto made with handfuls of parsley, baby spinach and walnuts with a small clove of garlic and a few glugs of olive oil.  So great to see the vegie avoiders getting a burst of leafy green goodness.
  • Sewing:  transforming trousers with torn knees into shorts, for both large and small.
  • Making: Kirsty’s crochet granny shrugs in small girl sizes.  A fun and not too taxing project for the holidays.
  • Despairing: at the cruelty of nature in sending devastating and seemingly worsening floods to our northern neighbours.  Even more bitter following so many years of drought.
  • Anticipating: a road trip to country Vic and urban NSW, our first holiday as a family of five!  We’re leaving tomorrow, and are still madly packing!

Happy new year!

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I’ve made some mention already of the beautiful new book Sunday’s Kitchen.  A wonderful combination of social history and recipe book, it documents food and lifestyle at Heide, the home of influential art patrons John and Sunday Reed.  Sunday was a talented, intuitive cook interested in european styles of cookery before they were widely popular in Australia, and made an art of growing and preparing food and keeping house, along with fostering and feeding some of the greatest Australian modernist artists.

I was lucky enough to take part in the test kitchen for the book, and through good timing, MY cake appears in the book on the desserts chapter heading and on the back cover!!  The recipe is Von’s Heide Fruit Cake, by Evonne Harris, wife of poet and John Reed’s publishing partner Max Harris.  Von  made this cake to bring on the train from Adelaide to visit Heide.  I used Evonne’s actual recipe, which has since been somewhat standardised in the book.  It was fun to interpret and recreate.  It is an unusual light fruit cake with ground almonds and cherries, and is topped with marzipan (which I have never made before).  Von’s final instruction (which doesn’t make it into the book) was “Paint an artwork on the top”, with her daughters note that Von always drew a face.

Well, in the interests of historical accuracy, I had to comply – and what better than a face from an iconic Heide-associated artist?

Lovely Mr. Foxy-Woxy

Born Melbourne, 1959

(After Gethsemane by Joy Hester)  2009

brush and blue food colouring on marzipan

22 cm. diam.

(since devoured by the artist, cake-maker and staff of Heide Museum of Modern Art)

Well, Mr Foxy said he was better at drawing than I (which is probably true), and that he should do it.  It did look fabulous, and was a great hit with the staff at Heide.  The cake itself was also enjoyed, with many who don’t normally like fruit cake saying that they liked it.  The painted top is not included in the book, but I love that you can just see an intriguing touch of blue in the photographs.

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This weekend I have been:

  • in the thrall of the shawl … household chores and personal grooming remain unattended as the Shetland Triangle grows.  This is really an easy and addictive knit, just as others have said, even in the dreaded 4 ply.  I’m up to the 8th repeat and don’t even need to consult the chart any more.  I may just get it done in time for my aunt’s 80th birthday.  I just hope it blocks out bigger than it looks now.  I think I’ll aim for 10 or 11 repeats like Bells and Suse.

spring 001a

  • In preparation for the looming return to work, a haircut and colour, and shopping for some basic wardrobe pieces here. (Still in denial about the work thing)
  • Enjoying the garden after lots of rain and sunshine.  (The mystery flowers are starting to bud and indeed look like poppies)
  • Coping with thrills and spills as increasingly active and daring babies attempt new feats.  Cutest one was when both were walking along pushing chairs.
  • Baking Jennifer’s breakfast biscuits.  What a great idea this is for the time poor!  Second time with this recipe, this time substituting mashed banana for peanut butter, almond meal for bran and sultanas for chocolate.  (Strangely I used powdered milk instead of protein powder because I was improvising).  They really are satisfying, yummier with the chocolate of course, but still a good fast breakfast option.
  • Drawing, cutting and pasting with Rex … inspired by Amy’s idea, I just drew these quickly.  It was fun to make the faces and talk about if they were scary or friendly or sad or whatever.  Rex enjoyed cutting, choosing and sticking down the features and kept saying “Let’s make another one!”.  He knows about Halloween from watching Yo Gabba Gabba, but I guess this was more in the spirit of Mr Potato Head for us non-Halloween-celebrating types.

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  • Enjoying re-reading after many years my deluxe copy of The Little White Horse.  So charming to revisit a childhood fantasy world.  I’m really enjoying the descriptions of domestic detail and can understand why I loved it as a child.  I’ve always preferred pretty pictures to action and adventure.
  • Thinking about the impending first birthday of my beauties.  I have bought a gorgeous book for each, but would  love to come up with another gift.  If time allowed, I would make dolls based on these characters (such is my obsession).  Any ideas for a nice gift for one year old twin girls?

Hope your weekend was full of delights …

Joining in with Loobylu, see here for more reliable hot and not lists than the following …

tokyomart collage

 

HOT   NOT
     
Flowers appearing in the garden to be picked by little hands and given proudly to mummy   Babies waking constantly at night
     
Picking a rose bud to put in a vase in the kitchen so I can look at while doing the dishes   Having to do the dishes.  A lot.  (We do have a dishwasher now, but it’s still hard to keep on top of it.  And don’t get me started on the laundry …)
     
Trips to the market for mangoes, strawberries, basil and Mr Pitta pitta bread   Having to go back to work in three weeks!  This means having to get up at 6.30am to have any hope of arriving there on time, made more difficult by the interrupted nights mentioned above.
     
Japanese biscuits and edamame   Almost any other food that four-year-olds liked last week
     
Origami (well, isn’t it?)   A distinct lack of household organisation
     
Rediscovering childhood favourite books … like The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge.  Obscure even when I first borrowed it from the library in the early 1970’s, but now made into a (less subtle) film so back in print   Being sprayed with baby food as babies decide that it’s good to practice blowing raspberries during mealtimes
     
Being set to embark on a new knitting project, maybe this or this   A self-imposed deadline to complete a shawl before my aunt’s 80th birthday
     
Dottie Angel’s challenge   Probably having to spend money on (larger) clothes for afore-mentioned return to the workplace

 

october 004a

 

october 013a

Inspired by Michelle‘s Veg Wednesday posts …

444px-Waldorf-Astoria_1904-1908b

Joseph Pennell (U.S., 1854-1926)
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Thirty-Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue (original location).  c. 1904-08
drawing on brown paper : colored crayons over pencil sketch ; sheet 29.3 x 23.1 cm
Library of Congress
Image via here.

The camera was charging so I couldn’t take a photo of the real thing, so here is a picture of the Waldorf itself.  I love Waldorf salad, it somehow seems classic yet whimsical at the same time, and I am always happy to revisit it when I remember it.  It’s a boon when there isn’t an otherwise cohesive collection of ingredients on hand – I actually prefer some limitations as it often results in more creative menu-planning.  (My Veg Wednesday forays are more about including more vegetables in our diet rather than being strictly vegetarian.)  So this is what we had the other night based on what was on hand.

Oven-baked risotto (inspired by a Donna Hay recipe for pumpkin risotto from The Age years ago)

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/2 cup water or wine
  • 2 medium zucchinis, grated
  • kernels from 1 medium cob of corn
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 30g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan

Combine everything except cheese in a lidded casserole/oven dish.  Overlap some foil over the top of the dish and put on the lid.

Bake in moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes, until all liquid is nearly absorbed and rice is firm but tender (al dente I guess).  Be careful not to overcook or it will be mushy.

Grate in some parmesan, stir and replace lid for a few minutes.  Serve with more parmesan.

Waldorf Salad  (You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but this is what I did)

  • celery, finely sliced
  • red apples, cored and diced
  • walnuts
  • just enough mayonnaise to dress

Combine all ingredients.  Serve in a bowl lined with cos lettuce leaves if you like (I actually used some iceberg).  Stephanie Alexander also includes orange segments in the salad, but I haven’t tried this.

Stephanie also mentions that the salad can be dressed with sour cream.  Although usually one for a chef-approved shortcut, I couldn’t resist the lure of homemade mayonnaise.   I made mine with 1 egg yolk, salt, a small squeeze of lemon juice and 100mls oil (1/2 e v olive and 1/2 peanut as I find all olive oil too strong).  I used about half of this for my salad.

And for dessert, chocolate chip cookies from the River Cottage Family Cookbook.  These were at the behest of my young sous-chef and they were REALLY good.  (And the book is too.)

knit 059a

As started by Pip, earlier in the week …

knit 090a

  • Making :  my Ravelry Bendigo Woollen Mills Group swap project
  • Cooking :  kid-friendly chili con carne
  • Drinking :  filtered water, and interested in this new product
  • Reading:  my new copy of Handmade Home, just arrived
  • Wanting:  more consecutive hours of sleep
  • Looking: at nice magazines, like Selvedge (thanks Michelle) and Inside Out
  • Playing: an audiobook from the library, England’s Mistress
  • Wasting: too much time browsing Ravelry
  • Sewing:  only things knitting/crochet-related of late, but would like to get a sewing nook set up one day (or like this one)
  • Wishing:  for more time and energy
  • Enjoying:  sunshine and signs of spring, amongst the high winds
  • Waiting:  for a too slow internet connection to load pages
  • Liking:  browsing Etsy for gifts, now that the exchange rate isn’t too bad
  • Wondering:  how long the babies will sleep and if a routine is possible
  • Loving:  my vintage granny-square blanket on my bed, the gift of a friend and found in a Darwin op-shop, rediscovered in the linen cupboard
  • Hoping:  a large-enough house in a reasonable location could become ours before too long
  • Marvelling:  at the beauty and cleverness of my three babies
  • Needing:  a good old tidy up around the house
  • Smelling:  (until recently) jonquils
  • Wearing: my February Lady (if you’re a Raveller, here’s mine here)
  • Followingthe Uniform Project – inspirational accessorising, for a good cause
  • Noticing:  that clutter is quick to collect
  • Knowing:  that my moments of peaceful pottering will end soon as the kinder run is nigh
  • Thinking:  that the characters populating everyday life in 18th century Britain and Europe was actually much younger than we imagine – people started working independently as young as 10 or 12, heads of state and politcians could be in their teens or 20’s.
  • Feeling:  lucky that I don’t live in 18th century England
  • Bookmarking:  recipes and activities in The River Cottage Family Cookbook 
  • Opening:  my parcel from Fishpond
  • Giggling: at babies blowing raspberries, in unison and at length
  • Feeling:  tired but generally content

KNITTING 378a

Small bikkies to more experienced bloggers, but a landmark for me … as of today, over 1000 people have mistakenly stumbled upon visited Chez Pinry in the last 3 months since I started!  As this blog was brought about in response to the spirit of sharing and inspiration fostered by the knitting/craft/creative housewife-type community, I find myself in a position of being able to give something back in a small way …

I recently purchased Kids Knitting and on first looking through it I was reminded me of the thrill I felt as a child when I realised I could make things.  I had a flash-back to one of my earliest knitting projects made when I was perhaps 5 or 6 – a green garter-stitch vest for a doll.  There are some lovely projects and activities that I would like to try (including the simplest explanation of wool dyeing I have ever seen) with or without kids.

Thanks to Fishpond, I also have a copy of Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick to give away!  If you would like this book, please leave me a comment by next Wednesday, perhaps telling me about a knitting or craft project you remember making as a child.  The book recipient will be selected on Thursday via the age-old method of the small-child-picking-name-from-a-hat variety.  This will be stringently supervised by whoever-is-at-home-at-the-time.

I’m sorry that I can only send the book to Australian residents (as o/s postage will be more than the cost of the book), but if a lovely person from beyond our shores is selected first, I will come up with something lighter (perhaps knitted) to send them …

Thanks for visiting …

orlando

Something that may have been obvious to others, but that I have only recently realised, is that having a child allows, no, compels you to remember/re-live aspects of your own childhood.  So many things long forgotten, it is a bittersweet experience to recall what caused you great fear or joy as a child.   My son has recently had a few difficult nights, and we’ve been talking about dreams.  I still remember quite vividly two of the nightmares I had as a child that distressed me greatly.  In one, my mother delivered my brother and I to a wicked witch, who put us in a cage (a la Hansel & Gretel).  I can still see the image of my mother walking away as I cried out.  (No, I did not have abnormally cruel parents!)   This is obviously a fear of abandonment which must be a basic fear of many young children, when their parents are their whole world.  It makes me mindful of letting my child know that I love him and will always be there for him, even if we have difficult, angry times together. 

On a happier note, having children makes you want to share with them the things that filled you with wonder when you were a child.  I always enjoyed books and had a lot of the Little Golden Book or standard fairy tale type of books.  But one book was special, and I remember poring over it for ages and immersing myself in it, such a vivid and imaginative world did it portray.  It was one of the Orlando the Marmalade Cat books by Kathleen Hale, and I’m not sure what happened to it.  I have occasionally looked for her books in secondhand shops when I think of it, and have purchased a couple of recently re-issued editions on-line.  But the other day I actually found this one in my local secondhand bookshop, probably the same edition as I had as a child!   It is so different to books today, yes, dated and even non-“P.C.”, but incredibly eccentric and fanciful.  Rex has shown an interest in these books already as bed-time books, and I hope that they may continue to delight him with their charm and whimsy.

orlando2

The books were written and illustrated during the 1930’s-70’s, and the illustrations have the look and colours of 1930’s lithographs.  And in case you were wondering, “The Frisky Housewife” is a department store that Orlando and his family opens and runs, as

“It’s high time”, said Orlando indignantly, “that shops sold what people want to buy, instead of what the shops want to sell…”

orlando4

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