Sunday, 30 March 2008

Poivron, Courgette and le petite Aubergine are good friends

There I was cursing the hot weather - and now its gone!

Today it feels like we've skipped Autumn altogether and Winter is sneaking in the back door and quietly stealing the bed covers.

I'd planned to make Ratatouille a la Ratatouille (big ups to Smitten Kitchen for ideas) during summer when all those provencale vegies were in abundance. But what with the general hotness and my general cooking malaise (as a bride-to-be I refrained from going on a "dress diet" unless of course takeaway pizza 4 nights a week is considered a viable weight loss program). So indeed I had neglected to make hay while the sun shone.

But its seems I have been given a last minute reprieve. I stopped in at Macro on the way home from Yoghurt and there were lots of perfect wee eggplant and good looking zucchini at not crazy off-season prices - so with thyme fingered hands I present dinner. (I did take a photo pre-cooking in all its multi-coloured glory but alas the light was a bit wrong and the resulting picture rather sickly - not exactly a drawcard when food blogging. So I redirect you to Smitten, again).

Pretty yummy - and not that watery mush ratatouille often can be. I did a slow roasted version some time back - but this is better (and far less oily). The moghrabieh though is still a little undercooked. Damn you wacky ingredients!

It makes me want to watch the movie again. "Little chef" is now a term of endearment for the dog when he tries to help when I am cooking (ie. be under foot) or when the cats are making biscuits on my pillow at night. I love Pixar. Their partnerships have brought out the best in Disney. And put those Crappy Sheet penguins to shame.

PS. Happy Birthday Dr Jimothy - hope the skiiing was good!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Goldfish, Lincoln Logs and the Misanthropic Prophet

Don't get me wrong I think Easter is great (even with the flu - 5 days and counting!)

But it always reminds me of this - one of my many favourite Bill Hicks routines.

WARNING: Some of us Hick's fans can be a little overzealous and some a little "Metal" - so try to look past the power chords and over use of bad visuals. Oh that and the extreme language, absolute adoration of pornography and illicit drugs.

But his words always remain true.

There was a time when I was offended by the blatant sexism and drug use (as a feminist teetotaller should). But I have since learned to get over myself and listen to the beauty (YES beauty) within his monologues. Yes there is rage and bitter despair, but there is also profound wisdom and love.

A soul unfortunately too sensitive to survive in this demanding world.

We miss you Bill. May your weed be sticky and your women big breasted.

Peace Out.

Friday, 21 March 2008

What time is is?

That last post was a biaatch to edit - too many photos/blogger preview not actually "wysiwyg". I should have split it in to two - but alas my Flu addled breen could not compute anything that logical. I should have just snoozed on the couch and watched Scrubs DVDs like a good unproductive sick person.

Note also my timely case of the flu - 1 week before the work sponsored flu vaccination day. I am SO clever.

Speaking of timely - I present my latest craft offering.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

My work was taken over by a much larger company and although all our patternmaking will eventually go computerised our team still does it manually. This is not usually a problem, but we have also moved offices and instead of having large patternmaking tables each and a separate cutting table, I have been reduced to sharing a table with the senior patternmaker (and both our computers) and still expected to make patterns and cut samples manually. Very ho-hum and not very "worksafe".

Sooking aside, to make my work systems run more smoothly with less space I though it high time I made my pin cushion ergonomic, and reduce the need for bending and twisting every time I needed a pin. Not exactly rocket science. Wristband pincushions have probably existed longer than I've been alive (I refer you to my cleverness as stated above).

A girl I went to RMIT had a watch shaped one that her Nana crocheted for her that was too cute. I was impressed beyond measure and thought from then on that this should be the only form they take.

Given that now I work in an office filled with real live Anna-Wintour-wannabe fashionistas, even entertaining the thought of trying to keep up is preposterous. (Initially I proclaimed I would wear make up and high heels everyday - the heels didn't make it out of the house on day one, the lipstick lasted 3 days). My penchant for wearing jersey dresses and flat boots belies my deep love of high fashion and avante-garde design. And who knows, one day I just might slouch around in Junta Watanabe jersey dresses and Sergio Rossi boots. Till the day I obviously have more money than sense, I figure the best course of action is to run in the opposite direction and wear my hand-quilted, vintage fabric heart on my sleeve, or wrist as the case may be. So geeky, overstuffed and silly Gucci pincushion it is.

And quite frankly I'm glad I was too lazy to change the white thread on my machine. The seam "grin" looks like perfect minute marks.

And Cartier would have been my brand of choice (with a blue button winder) but again laziness overcame the desire to hand stitch in cursive. Call it my first project in the up-and coming companion book called "Cutting-corners Sewing" for the can't be arsed crafter. Probably not in a bookstore anytime soon.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Russian Tidbits

There is a shop near my house by the same name - that has all manner of interesting yumbly things. Walking past always reminds me of the smell of my Granpa's kitchen - strange smelly socks cheese and cured meats.

After Grandma passed away and her Swiss-german style weiner schnitzel reign that my brother and I enjoyed for so long, came to a healthy close, our traditional family meal became simple rye bread (always with carraway seeds) served with cheeses and a variety of cold sliced meats or sausage.

Oh the sausage! Usually an amazing heart stopping variety that was a smoky concoction of unknown animal variety, spices and garlic that would repeat on you for hours and no doubt be "enjoyed" by all you encountered for the rest of the day.

Granpa was Polish, but he was international in his tastes, so I am yet to identify what kind particular sausage this was. But every time I go to Russian Tidbits I can smell it in the air. Unfortunately I don't speak a scrap of Russian and the place can get pretty jam packed with short but large folk who can be a little intimidating (especially when it seems their only method of communication is yelling at the top of their hoary voices). So I am yet to overcome my crippling shyness to ask for help in selecting and preparing my smallgoods. I usually get completely overwhelmed by the smells and noise (its all a little too close to home) and snatch some cherry jam before I escape out the door and seek refuge on a park bench where I can have quiet sit down to recover.

Anyway. This, by way of random segue, is a little tribute to some of my favourite russian tidbits, in no particular order. None of which are actually edible.

Of course topping the list is my Matryoska pictured above. I had a little a set of three growing up (that was I think was actually Swiss) Unfortunately one of the dogs got a hold of it and destroyed all but the littlest one. My repressed mourning lead me to collect a few "lost" individuals at garage sales and markets along the way (but they are buried in a box somewhere that will not be located). I remember also being obsessed with this clip from Sesame Street. To me the idea of 10 nesting dolls was the ultimate, so I was pretty thrilled when I finally got this set of seven.

And I've had to fight my virgo nature and refrain from pulling the sticker off the bottom.

Next are some great children's books I've also collected over time. I love folk art, and these in particular have such great illustrations.

The first is based on the 1835 poem by Aleksandr Pushkin, published in 1969.

The story is a tale of woe with a simple moral of those who are greedy end up with nothing. The nagging, never satisfied wife really encapsulates the "fish-wife" stereotype. Therefore, not necessarily a book I'd recommend to read to impressionable minds wanting positive role models.

But the water colour art is beautiful, and the palette timeless.

Second is the classic Peter and the Wolf.

The illustrations are by an English artist Alan Howard, of whom I can find little information on the interwebs. But I guess we can't all be famous.

Nevertheless his art is peppered with sweet folky motifs and a wolf who seems more hapless than big and bad. Petulant Peter gets his wolf - with due acknowledgment to the little bird who helps. Grandfather is suitably worried and gnome like. Although the hunters arrive at the last minute the fate of the wolf is relegated to being taken to the zoo - which though unlikely, I must remind myself is a classic childrens' tale (therefore generally completely unsuitable for modern children a la Brothers Grimm). So no room for a sensitive yet realistic denouemont here.

And staying on the petulant theme is this little gem:

Essentially a Russian version of the classic gingerbread man story. He gets made, he escapes (several times) he get's all obnoxious about it and pays the ultimate sacrifice for pride and gets eaten. But the art is very nice. My favourites are the down-and-out hippie wolf (who reminds me of this guy) and the honey stealing bear (who could have stepped out of a Maurice Sendak book). Copyright info here.

And last but not least is Vinni Puh. I adore Winnie the Pooh (or Winnie ther Pooh as Christopher Robin would stipulate). But it has to be "naked pooh" ie. E.H. Shepard - not the awful Disney stuff that makes him to be a pathetic idiot (The difference between simple and simplistic seems to be completely missed by some folk). Anyway, that is a tirade for another day.

Ample people before me have espoused the supreme merits of the Russian animated version and I would just like to include my voice amongst theirs. Quite apart from the exquisite and emotive art, Vinni himself is alive with vim and verve. Again very different from A.A Milne's subtle bear of very little brain, but delightful nevertheless. His machine-gun patois is a little astonishing at first, but soon enough natural and charming (even without subtitles). And the voice of Piglet is perfect.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

29th February 2008, approximately 5.03 pm AEST

I got married!

Its been 8 years in the making. And it was worth the wait.

All the handsewing, the 7am dress fittings, the breakneck visits to Chadstone to buy last minute items (sushi, chicken fillets, suits, sushi, pashminas, shirts, sushi, sandals, lipstick, ever more sushi)

Sleepless nights worrying about having enough fabric, enough time, enough food and enough friends. Preparing for monsoonal rains and antartic winds.

Not caring about any of these things in the end because I got to marry the most incredible man in the whole world.

Witnessed by a small but stellar group of wonderful people - whose mere presence made it the most amazing day of my life.

Smiling, crying, laughing and thinking I'd burst with all the love.

Being blessed with sunshine, sunshine and more sunshine.

Proud to be upstaged by the cutest flower girls ever.

AND the tiniest flower girl ever.

And the furriest page boy ever.

My heart overflows with love and gratitude to all who made it possible.

Thank you.