Tuesday, 31 March 2009

ABC kids (Italian style)



Earlier this month I was soooo thrilled to discover that Misseri Studio had decided to start a YouTube channel. These guys really kicked off my life-long love of animation.

For those of us who spent their afternoons suckling at the cathode nipple during the seventies and eighties - hopefully these vids will bring back some good memories.



I dare you to resist singing the AEIOU theme song on loop (to the increasing distress of your friends and loved ones).



And just because he was so fantastically animated - I also present a bit of La Linea.



In true Italian style - there was an 'Adults Only' episode La sexilinea. Cicciolina was definitely not a cultural aberation.

(Until I looked her up on Wikipedia I didn't know but she used to be married to one of my favourite artists Jeff Koons - curiouser and curiouser).

But I'll let you find that one for yourselves. We have standards here.

Albeit not very effective ones. But standards nevertheless.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Souper Sunday - late edition






















Ahh - I could blame the house guests for posting this late - but that's just being petty. Besides, they really loved the soup.

I will spare you the vegan rhubarb and apple crumble that followed (just a bit too odd). Vegan desserts are definitely not my strong suit.


La Sfarrata with Rosemary oil
(adapted from Jill Dupleix, The Age Epicure)

1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Olive Oil (Extra virgin)
1/2 cup lentils (Australian blue are great)
1/2 cup pearled barley
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
Sweet Chilli sauce (optional)
1 x 400g can cannellini beans
1 x 400g can chickpeas
Salt & Pepper

Rosemary Oil* to serve

In a large heavy saucepan heat the oil and lightly cook the onion, celery and garlic.

When softened, add the lentils, barley, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the lentils and barley are soft (about 30 minutes). I also add a good slug of sweet chilli sauce. It takes the edge off the acidity of the tomatoes, and adds just a hint of warmth to the soup.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans and chickpeas. Add to pot and simmer gently for a further 30 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. This soup is great fresh - but like most hearty soups - it is even better the next day.

*To make the Rosemary Oil:
Pick a decent bunch of rosemary. Carefully pick off the green leaves and place in a mortar, discarding the woody stalks. Generously drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a good pinch of coarse salt and some freshly cracked pepper (adds both flavour and acts as grist to release the oils). Pound with the pestle for about 5 minutes. It will make a pretty unsightly concoction - and the rosemary will not break down much (unlike when making a basil pesto). It should start to smell great and the oil will start to take up the colour of the rosemary. You may need to add more oil (the leaves do soak up a lot). Let it "ruminate" for a few minutes then carefully scoop it out and place it into a fine tea strainer set above a small bowl. Let the oil drain off and using the back of a teaspoon press the leaves to get as much oil out as possible. Discard the spent leaves.

















You should now have tablespoon or so of bright greenish oil with a darker sediment. It won't seem like much but it is quite strong and very pungent. The oils are very volatile and will deteriorate after a few hours - so you only need enough to drizzle on your soup (about 1 teaspoon per bowl).

To serve - ladle the soup into large bowls and drizzle with the rosemary oil (and more pepper if desired). A bit of freshly grated parmesan might also be nice - but not essential.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Lights Out...






















Earth hour approaches!

Queen B candle at the ready - perfect for some carbon neutral scrabble.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Little Things






















We all like to collect something. Bills, dodgy boyfriends ... wrinkles.

Throughout my life I have spent many an hour engaged in the thrill of the hunt - looking for that one item to add to my collection.

When I was young it was rabbit figurines, then later it became lego, game+watches and transformers.

Years later I met and moved in with a collector and then it was glow-in-the-dark things, children's books, more lego, fisher price toys, coins, action figures, stamps, comic books, Japanese pottery, ceramic kettles, robots, CDs, DVDs, fabric and notions etc etc until the collections became a collection all of their own. Collecting for collectings sake. Compulsive and automatic.

We started to run out of room. And dusting took forever.

All this stuff became burdensome. Like a weight around our necks. It had to stop.

It was just stuff. And more stuff did not equal more happy.

We decided, resolutely, that we had owned it once, but now it was time to let it go.

Slowly, bit by bit, the collections were broken down. Stuff was given away, sold at markets, put on ebay, taken to the op-shop. Given to those who needed it - or just wanted it more than we.

Some stuff was difficult to let go of. So some stuff was allowed to be kept.

My inner collector went back to basics - to where it all began.

My grandmother's minature tea set. Some cheap, made in Japan, badly painted little thing that as a small girl I coveted with all my heart.

Not only was it small - the teapot worked! Cute and practical. I was smitten.

Eventually it was gifted to me. It is the foundation of my new collection. A collection so small it fits into a little box. Less than half a shoe box. Not burdensome at all.

A minature collection. Of Little Things.

There is only one rule for this collection. It must not only be minature - it must also be functional. It must do the thing that it's full size counterpart does.

A teapot must pour. A pencil must write. Simple.

So here are my Little Things:






















2 inch tall Little Golden Book. Appropriate title for such a small book, don't you think?

My Granpa's Lilliputian dictionaries. He carried these with him during the war. They are a bit fragile now and the spines have split. Mainly because as a small child I used to obsess over them. Typical. Survived months of living rough, criss-crossing Europe in the Polish Free Army.

Only to be nearly destroyed 30 years later by a precocious 4 year old.

I believe the world's smallest comic book - actually the business card from Lambiek, the world's best comic book shop in Amsterdam.






















Cards anyone? We could get a game of Canaster going - but they are a bugger to shuffle.

Perfect for a bit of 3 card Monty in a flea bag coffin hotel.






















My tool kit of sorts. All working. Five cent coin for size reference (19mm). I declared the pocket knife going through Swiss customs. They laughed at me.

I haven't used the pencil yet (because I haven't found a sharpener small enough).

















Smallest wooden block set - comes in a matchbox. Not made any more apparently - choking hazard much?






















All that remains of my once 180 strong miniature fragrance collection. Amassed after spending my Uni days as a Fragrance Consultant at various department stores (i.e. one of those annoying, overly made up types that insist on giving you pieces of cardboard drenched in stink as you enter the store).






















Real leather baseball, tarot cards, my smallest Japanese tea set (not an actually working teapot, cheats - I know), small sewing kit - for small holes only, Barbie doll coat hanger and the smallest set of Maneki Neko I have found (only beckons small treasures - lost buttons, beads and such like).

And of course my little rubber ducky...

















Thanks Pip for an awesome theme that I just couldn't resist!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cato's first Doll Quilt






















I just got back from an appointment with my pain specialist. It seems that if my current drug regime and daily activity management system (ie. spend my days watching TV) don't improve matters the next step is Ketamine injections and a 9 day hospital stay.

Surely I must have miss heard? He is a low talker after all.

But NINE days? C sections don't even keep you in for that long.

I must have got it wrong.






















So perhaps the bright side of this encounter is that maybe I am actually only going deaf. Add it to forgetful, vague and the fact that putting my socks and shoes on is a task I need to ready myself for (thongs are the #1 thing I am going to miss about summer).

Old before my time, unless I just caught a bad case of the geriatrics from the hydro pool. Because let's face it, I am the youngest client there by about 30 years.

Not that there is anything wrong with being old. Really, I love old people (except of course if, god forbid, I am stuck behind you at a shopping centre).

I do intend to be one one day- and heartily embrace my codgerism with a gnarled shake of my fist at the young kids walking on my lawn. But I did hope to at least experience middle age before I got there.

I want my crisis and sports car too!






















(edit: someone didn't forget to take the bitch pills this morning I'm afraid)

In the meantime, the highlight of my weekend was a four year old's birthday party - which left me completely spent for the rest of the weekend. I almost fell asleep during the dystopian bloodfest that was the Watchmen movie. Then again it was a matinee session. Traditional nap time at chez Trickle.

Slumber aside, I did enjoy the movie - even if it did stray from the original comic book (Hazzah! Nit picking - the unmistakable vestige of the comic book geek).

A bit of ultra violence was a interesting counterpoint to an overload of PINK. And ballerinas.

















I had to turn my fabric collection inside out and trawl the scrap pile to find enough appropriately coloured patterns.

Fortunately the finished product only had to be 25 x 35 cms - so I really didn't have to find that much. But even then I only just made it.

(There is a reason why I don't fill these posts with pictures of my fabric collection. Shades of navy blue and black anyone?)

Putting myself in the mind's eye of a 4 year old girl who is Angelina Ballerina obsessed, I thought that mice with miniature tutus would make me lose my shit.

















Of course, I didn't quite factor in just how long a little bit of embroidery would take with my sewing arm ailments. But it was worth it.

Even if after the careful pacing of the project each day, it still left me up late the night before and dipping into my painkiller cache.

Please don't tell Jms (I promised him it wouldn't come to that).

Um, hang on - he reads these posts too.

Even after a severe chastising from a very disappointed husband: Still worth it.

Because it is soooo cute. Because it made the birthday girl's eyes sparkle. Because it got immediately taken to the bedroom and I was told it was 'very special'. Too special even for the pram for which it was intended. No - its going to be hung on the wall with her other favourite things.

And here was I truly expecting it to end up trampled on the floor, covered in cake crumbs like most toys at a small child's birthday party do.

















Dodgy machine quilting aside (alas no walking foot) this was a lot of fun and very satisfying to make. I now completely understand the myriad doll/mini/art quilt collectors and flicker groups out there.

This could be a new obsession - perfectly suited to one who has a very short window of opportunity for work and the attention span to match. And as for pink - I think could be hooked.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wordless Wednesday



Friday, 13 March 2009

Completely (t)riveting






















I had the fortune of going to Bendigo today. Along with half of Melbourne it would seem.

It's hard to imagine having a burning desire for a trivet. Which, as it happens. I do. It must be the hallmark of affluenza.

Then again, those folks in their adobe huts are probably completely sorted on this front - and are tsk-tsking as we speak.

Given the theme of this weeks crafting exercises (and the other bird projects I had on hand too naff to share) I thought I'd make myself a trivet.

















Indeed isn't this what every good host finds themselves doing at 10 pm the night before they have special guests coming for dinner?

But there WILL be hot dishes - brimming with hot food.

So I need something to put them on.

















I started drawing bird patterns that might be suitable - but everything was becoming samey. So I tried something a little more modernist rather than cutsey.

I'm not sure it works.

But then again it will be hidden by smouldering (messy) food. It may not even survive it's debut aesthetically intact.

In my 'night before crafting' after a long day I also discovered a few things about industrial grade wool felt:

It is REALLY hard to cut. Hence the plethora of laser cut stuff out there.

You can't dry felt stuff to it. Broke several needles, literally hammering this one home.

You can't hand sew through it. Unless you have needles made of diamond tipped titanium and an index finger of STEEL. But you can bob around the surface and perform some semblance of embroidery.

For a moment it looked like it was going to be awesome - but now I'm just tired and wondering what the hell I am doing still at the computer.

Perhaps it will look better in the morning.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Niwatori hai!






















Let me keep this short. I am too tired and grumpy for words.






















I don't actually own any Japanese craft books. But if I did, this is how I imagine they would interpret a log cabin hen.

Lots of yummy linen in subtle, neutral shades. Wooden buttons. Contrasting thread. Recycled kimono silk.

















In this case, scaled up from a pin cushion size, to something large enough to hold the door open.

1.5 kg of wheat in this baby - that's one hungry chicken.

















Enough pretty, cutesy craft here.

New rule. In our house you have to be useful.

As self appointed law maker - new rule does not apply to me. Something to do with absolute sovereignty, as I recall.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Bird

















Bird belt buckle by Fosterweld





















Aksfile Nani Bird by aks















Fill in the Cat from NEL



















Alexander Girard's Bird courtesy of AskArt

















Fig Bandit courtesy of my backyard

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A blue bird of happiness






















Woot!

This has been a crafty saga of epic proportions.

Not so much in the actual drama, but in the long winded, takes for ever to get to the point, type of epic sagas (James Joyce, I'm looking in your direction).

I'm ashamed to admit this, but this little guy (technically a bower bird) has been kicking around unfinished since (ahem) May 2005.

I'm not proud of it, and I will surrender my craftster's license immediately, if not sooner (wait, no membership - no union or regulatory industry association - we are a bunch of brazen, anarchic mercenaries aren't we?)






















I digress.

Up until 24 hours ago, it was a discarded prototype from a children's mobile I was commissioned to make for Gorman. I sewed over 8 of these not so little buggers and I guess after all that hand sewing, I kinda shoved this one to the back of the cupboard to forget about.

But when I went through my stash of linen for another project, I remembered this guy was kicking around somewhere. The linen side has a beautiful silver foil sheen - too nice to throw away (as I had obviously decided at the time) but there was not enough of it to fashion into something else.

















So when he was resurrected from the scrap box about a week ago - he really was looking quite forlorn. Not only a rejected colour way (brown), he had barely any stuffing, no binding and a had been left half unpicked because he was the wrong shape for the final design.

Well the baby-poo brown pinwale cord had to go (now replaced with a deep midnight blue cord). And at the 11th hour I found a really lovely liberty print in a matching blue. Digging further in the scrap box I found just enough silk bias binding to finish it - and voila!

Elegant and cute at at the same time. Just like me.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Make a little (felt) birdhouse in your soul






















They Might Be Giants lyrics aside, I'd firstly like to celebrate the small matter of Jimmy Trickle being the last blogger user on earth to dispense with the template header.

Hence, I humbly present to you my Powerful Owl totem, who will hopefully keep a stern eye on all things at chez Trickle and keep me in check. At least at night anyways. I wouldn't want to interrupt his beauty sleep. He should help with the rodent population too.






















Secondly, I would like to celebrate a return to all things crafty - with a week - yes, a WHOLE week - of daily completed craft projects.

She's serious folks - this is a publicly stated attempt to extractus digitus and finish some of those little craft projects that have been lying about the place 95% complete. And the theme is all things avian (being as I am obsessed with particular motifs).

Mind you, before you go and get yourself in a fervent lather - I should highlight the fine print:

a) I am only counting weekdays (cheats); and

b) it is important to note that I have not specified that they will be MY completed craft projects (spoken like a true ex-lawyer).

Yes - should I find I have bitten off more than I can chew (highly likely) or that daytime naps prove too attractive (extremely likely) I will dispense with my contractual obligations by presenting you with the doubtlessly superior, bird themed works of others.

Oh she's crafty (to quote the Beastie Boys).






















But without feather ado (aaaiiieeee!) as it is Monday, and the start of the working week for those not fortunate to have a public holiday, I present you with my little felt birdhouses.

These were actually a Christmas decoration I started back in October. Given that my Christmas tree is only one foot tall, it was a slightly ill conceived idea. But they are, nevertheless deserving of existence, in spite of this fact.

The genius of the creation (if I may say so myself) is that the perch is made of a cinnamon stick. So they make up for being 'twee' to grumpy husbands by spicing the air with an amiable scent.

I've also put a a handful of cloves in there to give it some olfactory kick (potpourri would justifiably, warrant the serving of divorce papers).

See you tomorrow with, to quote the comedic mastermind Daniel Hall:

"shouldn't unless mean more?"

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Souper Sunday - French Onion Edition























I was planning to start Souper Sunday with a different recipe, but when I was at the market yesterday there were the most awe inspiringly large onions that I quickly changed my mind.

Large shiny brown asteroids of goodness that practically begged to be made into soup - and just about put my back out as I loaded them in to the trolley.






















Onions ARE the bane of my cooking existence to peel and slice - so for this recipe if you only have to prep 4 big ones it seems a lot less tedious and hard on the eyes.

In fact as I sat on the couch and watched TV whilst Jms peeled and chopped them, my eyes hardly hurt at all.

















This recipe is dead easy - but does benefit from a slow food attitude. Good caramelisation, with an absence of burnt pots, requires an abundance of time, low heat and a steady hand.

Whoever called it stainless steel lied.






















French Onion Soup

1.5 kg - 2 kg large brown onions (approx 4 very big ones)
Olive Oil
Generous knob of butter
Heaped teaspoon cornflour
1/4 - 1/2 cup white wine (or verjuice, tho' quite sweet)
1 litre beef or vegetable stock (I use the Massel "beef style" stock cubes which ticks both the lazy cook and vegetarian boxes)
1 litre water
Black pepper
Salt

Baguette or other nice crusty bread
Gruyere cheese (or anything floating a round in the fridge with a bit of flavour)


Peel, halve and slice the onions.

Melt a generous slosh of olive oil with butter in a heavy based, large saucepan or stock pot. Add onions and stir to coat well. Lower heat, cover and let sweat, stirring occasionally.

When translucent (15 - 20 mins), remove lid, raise the heat a little and caramelise, stirring often (you want the onions to be a nice honey brown - but with no charred bits). This can take a little while - and is really the only part of this soup that requires a little attentiveness, especially towards the end. Like risotto - don't let yourself be distracted by the teev or there will be a (stinky) charred disaster. Though a few darker flecks can be tolerated in my experience.

Eventually everything will start to catch and hopefully get some serious colour - which is when you want to deglaze the pot by adding the wine. But don't lean over the pot unless you want to be temporarily blinded and instantly intoxicated.

Allow the alcohol to steam off , then slowly stir in the stock/water. Add some extra water if you want your soup a little thinner.

Mix the cornflour with a little water to make a runny paste and add to the soup. You can leave this bit out if you prefer a clear broth type soup - but I do it because I think it gives it a slightly heartier, fuller mouth feel.

Simmer for 30 minutes. Generously season with pepper and add salt if desired.

Slice baguette into rounds on the angle, and grill with a slice or two of cheese on top.

To serve, place a piece of bread or two in each bowl and ladle the hot soup over the top.

Bon app├ętit!

Ps. In French the expression "Ce n'est pas tes oignons" (literally translated as "It's not your onions") means it is none of your business. So there.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A bit of colour on the sideboard

Things (hopefully) look a little prettier around here.

Last night I finally managed to add some pictures down the side - as you can see.

If you've been visiting here and wondering why it was so drab - blogger let me delete my pictures, but for some unknown reason would not let me add new ones in. So my new year "spring clean" took a bit longer than expected.

Add to that my best beloved installed Vista on my pooter and wiped my only copy of Adobe Illustrator. Yay. But to his credit, its back in all its updated glory - so I can do some more drawings. It doesn't mean that I will though (chances are I will just trawl through old uni files and change the colours).

The ones I have added are a bit crude and unfinished to my liking (and the resolution on Starry is all grainy - WTF?) but a change from having glaring white backgrounds that will slowly dull your eye sight.

(If you are vaguely interested - the old illustrations are over in my flickr account)

PS. The other half also brought to my attention that most folks don't know about 'hover text'. Next time I post a photo - try moving your mouse pointer over the image. Its pretty cool - and sometimes I even make with the funny.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

A pinch and a punch























The first day of March and officially the first day of Autumn, therefore in my book it's ...

SOUP WEATHER!

(the crowd goes wild with excitement)

Hand me my stock pot man!


Note:
The seasons first foray (above) was vaguely edible, but definitely NOT worthy of promotion. Celebrity chef (and your talentless ghost writer) - I cast a pox on your gourmet salt flakes and I hope your copper pots never polish clean.

I should have twigged at the inclusion of 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric in PUMPKIN soup - the redecoration of one's small intestine to a bright yellow hue being the hallmark of good cooking. If it were Martha Stewart ... maybe.

I remain undeterred and hereby launch what I will refer to herein as Souper Sunday. My favourite soup recipes for your own enjoyment and test kitchen expertise.

Hopefully curse free.