Sunday, 31 August 2008

This is...

Just had a quick squiz at Three Buttons - and noticed that this weeks "this is" theme from Handmaiden is your favourite fabric/craft shop.

I have to join in this week and sing the praises of my favourite.

Although I adore Patchwork on Central (especially as it is a coffee and walking distance of my house) and think Winterwood felt is the BEST, I must implore you to visit the not so pretty "Darn Cheap Fabrics" in Glenhuntly (and Heidleberg and Newport).

The stock is always changing, and every week they seem to have more. They have a brilliant and ever expanding selection of trims and notions and of course the cheapest silks by the metre you will ever find.

It is a bit of a mixed bag - with bits of everything - but always worth a visit. Even though it is all new fabric, they are largely a remnant business, so everything is technically salvaged and recycled. Which is great for the eco conscious - and a little easier than trawling the op-shops when you specifically need hot pink rick rack!

As far as the "Aladdin's Cave" of fabrics go - I hear that the Job Warehouse actually lets people in the front door these days. I was fortunate enough not to be forcibly removed (as have some of my designer friends who mistakenly tried to "browse") but found the quality not worth the asking price. Still, I'm sure there is some amazing stuff there. And apparently browsing is not forbidden anymore!

Literally cut up

Got a call from Southern Health two weeks ago saying its been well over a year since I was put on the wait list for surgery and was I still interested..?

Interested? Not quite the word for it really. I wasn't really interested in getting the condition in the first place but there you go. But now that I've got the chance to do something about it it well - yes I am quite interested thanks for asking.

It made me wonder how many folks do say "Nah, don't think I really can fit in a heart by-pass with my schedule - what say we give it a miss!"

Admittedly mine is a condition that is neither terminal nor life threatening, and even though I do try to be very careful with the term "need", I think it does count as "needed" (But not quite like how I need a cobalt blue Kitchenaid). I know that without intervention the condition will ultimately result in increasingly debilitating pain, possible infertility and potentially ruin a perfectly good marriage.

So worth doing I'd wager.

Unfortunately as I discovered at the pre-admin clinic shortly thereafter, surgery did not necessarily prevent any of these things. But things should improve. Three cheers for qualified optimism!

The inspecting Doctor (and the cast of thousands that "needed" to inspect my most private of parts) said there had been a cancellation and would I like to be scheduled for the 27th?

Well "like" is again a term most folks don't readily associate with being cut open, but having spent so long dreading the phone call right before I started a new job or right before my wedding, I was relieved that it was finally going to happen.

I will spare you the details of "bowel" preparation for surgery, suffice to say it was both worse, and not as bad as I expected.

My poor Dad probably knows more than he would have liked about my reproductive organs and sexual history, but he was outstanding company during the long wait for theatre.

By the time I made it to the recovery ward my bits felt like the Ikea car park - with everyone having had a visit. This was not a teaching hospital but I think they shipped in a herd of 4th years just for me.

The coincidence of all coincidences is that one of my best friends was also (unexpectedly) under the knife at exactly the same time. Fortunately for her, she at least got to take home a baby. Though two lucky viewers/research organisations did get to take home a show bag of my dodgy DNA. May I serve as a warning to others.

Jms and Dad are well deserved co-recipients for the "Man of the Year" award for my post-operative care. Having become an invertebrate (delightful effect of the morphine) they had to pour me in and out of the car/bed/chair and put up with me falling asleep mid-sentence.

Jms commented the following day that my pupils were still completely dilated. That might explain how I got the glow stick (just a hallucination) and the fluro wristband. No wait - that's the "don't stick anything nasty into this already dodgy arm" band. With the matching "allergy" red hat and arm band combo (and rather humorously "Bee Stings" written on it - just in case they had an apiary problem in theatre).

And so much for not driving a car for 24 hours - its Sunday night (4 days post -op) and I am only just able to sit in a chair without falling over. Lord knows how you'd do this with a new born.

Thank goodness the last few months have me well trained for sitting on the couch. This time staring wistfully into the distance and wishing I was in Sydney. Holding the latest member of the Dobbins clan, Phoebe Arbella. All 9 pounds and 10 precious ounces of her. Our "in utero" flower girl is finally here.

Well done Bronald!

Thursday, 28 August 2008


In anticipation of the change of seasons and THE GREAT SHEDDING, Gir and Trout are at maximum fluffitude. It may yet be a white Christmas in OZ.

Must. Resist. Snorgling.

There's claws in dem dare hills (and infinite sneezes)

Monday, 25 August 2008

3 4 A Cause!

Over at Mikes the Mirabel auction is on!

Round 4 has started including my not so little contribution (yes the largest one is about 40 cm high)

Put in a bid if you're able - Great value for money with three times the cuddle of your average softie!

As a free gift with purchase is the knowledge you are helping a wonderful organisation. Yay!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Simple pleasures

There is a microwave oven in the house. For the first time since I was a teenager and living at home. It's on loan from the relocating MIL.

Jms and I don't know how we've survived this long without one.

I've regressed to my favourite after school snack. Rice cake + cheese + 10 seconds.

Mmmm. Melty polystyrene joy. Perfect while I catch up with the interwebs.

My only nod to personal culinary development is that at least it's Emmenthaler now rather than Kraft single.

Reminds me of some vases I've seen. Perhaps the Transglass vases by Tord Boontje? Or maybe I've just eaten too much cheese.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

4 years in the baking

My husband thinks I'm a geek for making these biscuits. Like he can talk. Mr Magical Cardboards.

I've had these earmarked in my recipe folder since - well possibly Barcelona. The last time I actually watched the Olympics. Before I became "too cool" and uber intellectual for major sporting events and "national pride". To be Aussie equaled Ocker and thus the cultural cringe seeped into my everyday life.

Fortunately I eventually realised that being so exclusive cut you off from what was going on and the reality was that while you were busy poo-poohing something, you were actually missing out on all the fun.

Besides (appalling channel 7 coverage aside) it's rare to have such an abundance of "good news" on the TV. (Good meaning celebration of human sporting achievements not the glossing over of human rights abuses/pollution/poverty etc in China). If you step back and analyse the "news" you could reasonably assume that we, as a nation, seem to be thoroughly addicted to the trauma and appalling in this world. It is as though only the shocking can rouse our interest. That only the painful can be real. I vehemently disagree.

Happiness is NOT superficial.

It doesn't have to be all sunshine and lollipops, to quote the great (?) Leslie Gore. We just need a little more balance.

Perhaps some Very Silly biscuits.

Fiddly, silly biscuits at that.

With stupid amounts of artificial colouring.

Biscuits, that despite the fiddle and the inexplicably blotchy icing, were perfect and delicious. Worth doing again regardless of sporting events.

So, its almost over for another 4 years. We can go back to our regular programming. We can stop sooking about our position on the medal tally, the "they spend more than us" keeping up with the Jones' type behaviour and remember that we are actually, in the scheme of things, a very small nation. That our achievements are fabulous regardless of what happened last time or who did better this time. That participation is the reward not the precious metals. I'm sure the athletes would agree.

And that perhaps the Arts deserves a piece of the funding pie too.

Mmmm. Pie.

Olympic Rings Biscuits
(recipe from Cadbury newsletter "A Taste of Chocolate" circa 1992)

125g, butter softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup grated dark chocolate
1 cup plain flour
1 cup S.R. flour

Icing sugar and food dye (use Cocoa for black)

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Cream butter and sugar, add egg and vanilla and beat well. Then mix in chocolate and finally the (sifted) flours.

Mix will be quite tacky and crumbly. Form a ball with hands and either refrigerate before rolling out on a well floured surface or place between two sheets of baking paper.

Roll out to about 6mm thick. Refrigerate again till firm. Cut out circles using a large circle biscuit cutter. Then cut out centers with a smaller cutter (these can be cooked as small biscuits or added to dough to make more rings).

*I forgot till this step that I didn't actually own round cookie cutters so I used a well floured upturned Whisky glass and a narrow shot glass. These were fine and actually made really nice large biscuits*

Place rings on a lined baking tray. Cook for 12 - 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown at the edges.

When cold, ice with icing that has been coloured with blue, red, yellow and green food dye . Add cocoa to the icing mix and make as dark as possible for the black rings (tho' bear in mind it may not set rock hard if you add heaps as I discovered). You could just use melted dark chocolate instead.

Makes 20 large biscuits.

Marketeering Racket

These girls all went to market on Sunday. During the now obligatory last minute trip to Spotlight, I fell under the evil spell of their printed cotton fabric sale. So instead of 4 sets I potentially over committed and slated 7 in total.

And yes I was sewing up till 10pm Saturday night (Jms was a champion "stuffer") but I finished them, every single one. As I cursed slightly wonky faces and unmatched side seams, Jms reminded me graciously that that is the whole point of being handmade.

And I think I finally get it (yes I'm a bit slow at times). Ordinarily I finish a project and think "meh". But this time I was really proud of the results.

Unfortunately due to the usual erratic Melbourne weather factor, there was a lower than expected turn out at the market. But I did sell a couple and they garnered lots of positive comments. As soon as they return from Jean-bean's house I will post photos of the remaining for anyone who is interested in giving them a home.

Monday, 11 August 2008

More Matryoshka

Can't say I didn't warn you.

Though rather than threesomes I'm trying to instill a bit more of the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) in my life.

So pairs it is. I really liked doing the larger doll - and will do some more eventually (especially on request) but these guys have a deadline and trying to finish eight smaller softies seems a lot less arduous. Plus I'll have four finished sets rather than only two or three, which when trying to pad out a market stall is a very serious consideration.

"Oh pairs" was a name I trifled with initially, but I guess I've watched too many English TV shows where the aging Dad has run off with the nubile Nanny. So the "au pair" homewreaker connotation is far too strong in the face of a flimsy pun. These girls are far too cute to have to carry around such baggage.

So hopefully, if my arm holds out, these wee lassies will be joining my friend Jeanni who is having a crafty stall at the May Armstrong Childcare Centre's Childrens Market on this Sunday (17th August).

(mind the quick plug)

It is the Centre's main fundraising event of the year (I think entry is $3, kiddlies free) and there will be all sorts of entertainment, crafty bits, cakey bits and some pre-loved bargains - all for a good cause.

It's at Phoenix Park in Malvern East - a park with THE best kid's playground in Melbourne (but then what would I know, I'm just an adult). Well worth checking out anytime of year if you are in the area and have some rug rats of your own. In fact I'd be tempted to "borrow" some just for an excuse to visit. Do a good turn for some frazzled folks you know and steal their kids for the morning!

Starts 9am, with more info here.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Time for Tea (Cake)

Hankering for a little bit of something - with a scantily clad pantry - I actually made these up in 1/2 an hour from start to 'licking buttery fingertips' finish.

Dodgey-arm egg white whipping included!

Tea Cake (made as 12 Cupcakes/Friands)

1 cup S.R. Flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
30 gms butter
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, separated

Extra butter
Cinnamon sugar

Beat the egg white till soft peaks form and whip in sugar, vanilla and yolk. Meanwhile melt the butter and add to milk. Mix in with egg mixture and then fold in flour gently.

Pour into greased cake tin (or cupcake pans) and bake at 180*C for 30 minutes or till cake tests clean (for cupcakes it should only take about 10 - 15 mins).

Brush cooked cake with more melted butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.

Note. I had a wee apple hanging about - which I peeled and chopped up (1 cm x 2 cm ish chunks) and placed a chunk in each pan before baking.

Oh so many shades of yum (practically begging to be eaten while still warm) with a nice cup o' cha!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Belles for Mirabel

Sheesh. Two weeks went by just like that (snaps fingers).

I was planning to deliver these folk to Mikes last week, but alas, my arm has deigned otherwise. And damn it, every time the sun came out, I found myself wandering off to the park with the dog.

I regret nothing.

I also did some chain stitch embroidery on the backs (poxy photo warning) to emulate the real thing. I think I want to play around with patterned fabrics next and I might even try making some with actual little headscarves ...

I can see these getting more and more elaborate if I get half the chance!

The Winterwood felt is divine to work with - definitely worth the trip across town. Next time I might just buy every colour they have in stock. Though that might be just a tad greedy.

(Group hug)