Friday, 29 February 2008

soup di loop

Pip of Meet Me at Mikes has put out a call for soup recipes and I am up for the challenge! I am a major fan of soup when it comes to cooking - one pot wonders that taste even better as leftovers and freeze with ease - and yet I never order it when eating out. Maybe because I know I can cook it easily at home? Except the amazing soups at Bo De Trai, including the full moon special, "beep soup". It's really fake beef and noodle soup, but their sign has an unfortunate misspelling.

My soupy contribution for the evening is (drumroll....)

Indian Spinach soup
Start by frying up the spices: A teaspoon of mustard seeds, your desired strength of chilli, a tablespoon of fesh ginger ginger and 2 bay leaves. I also use asoefetida powder but just as a substitute for onion, which I guess you are more likely to have in the cupboard.
Next add the spinach: one packet of frozen or bunch of fresh. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach has wilted.
Add a paste of one tablespoon of flour mixed with a cup of cold water, then quickly add a can of coconut milk. Stir until it comes close to boiling then simmer for ten minutes.
Add salt to taste and you're done!

While I'm on the topic of cooking, I guess I may as well show you some dessert too.

It's just apricots and a dob of thick custard on little squares of puff pastry. Nothing special but very easy to make, good for little snacks and I like the way they looked all lined up on the tray.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

this is . . . me taking a picture of myself in the mirror with my favourite accessory

Phew! What a mouthful!

I wouldn't say that Olive is necessarily my favourite accessory (I do have a rather serious bag fetish) but at the moment she is my only and constant accessory. The sling that I carry her in has definitely reached the status of favourite baby accessory, too. It was completely indispensible in Tokyo, where we abandoned all use of the so-called "small" pusher that we had bought in Australia before we left. Baby carriers are so common in Japan, in fact, that public toilets have cubicles with a high chair on the wall that mothers can unstrap baby before relieving themselves. There now, isn't that exactly what you wanted to know? How do I get myself so side-tracked?

Back to the topic: I like to carry Olive with me wherever I go. It keeps her happy because she's close to me and it means that I'm much more mobile than using a pram. I keep thinking that Olive will be too heavy to carry soon but my muscles seem to be growing at least as fast as she is. Maybe I should make myself another sling using more interesting fabric but hey, I live in Melbourne - the black has served me just fine.

Friday, 22 February 2008

side tracked

I have started back at TAFE two nights a week, studying tapestry and design. It is so nice just to be around adults and talk about somehing other than babies - the fact that we are talking about textiles makes it even better!

Anyway, I was supposed to be practising my drawing skills and adding to my visual diary this week. But rather than drawing flowers I somehow ended up making a pile of pins and hairclips instead.

I think I might need to move my drawing area away from the sewing supplies. They are too tempting!

Who else would I use as my model?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I went to the Victorian Tapestry Workshop today and just had to tell you about it straight away. It was so inspiring!

We also saw colour samples and the painting being used for the Dame Elizabeth Murdoch birthday tapestry but I was so excited I forgot to take a photo! What an amazing birthday present - really taking the handmade pledge to another level!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

this is ... what makes me laugh out loud [easy version]

I laugh when Olive laughs. One thing guaranteed to make her squeal with delight is animals, especially dogs (she even pulls stuffed dogs off store shelves as we walk past) and her most favourite dog of all dogs is Wa Wa (Woof Woof) from the Japanese children's show, Inai Inai Ba (Peek A Boo). Enjoy!

this is ... what makes me laugh out loud [difficult version]

A tricky topic for me. Because after daughter Millie died, I cried every day for more than a year. I kept a sense of humour, but it was a very dark, wry humour, and probably more than a little bit morbid. Which is where Curb Your Enthusiasm comes in.

In addition to finding him extremely funny, I appreciate the fact that Larry David is not afraid to broach the topic of death. Because, strange as it may seem, people don't generally want to talk about dead babies. And before you get scared away too, let me reassure you that I am heading to a better place. You see, after Olive was born I concentrated very hard on being CALM and CONTENTED. And most of the time I managed. But then I found Elsa Mora's blog and I was totally blown away by how much she FEELS. And I realised that her enthusiasm and excitement is only possible because she also allows herself to acknowledge those things in her life that are difficult or make her sad. So I let myself feel again. I cried for a week, then I got angry, and finally I am starting to feel a little more human. I am even excited(!!!) - and about tapestry, of all things :)
Thank you, Elsita.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

this is ... Sunday lunch

This is a tricky "this is" for me because lunch is very much a do-it-yourself deal in our house, and usually ends up being leftovers or a series of snacks. This week, though, we managed to get to La Panella Hot Bread shop on High street in Preston, where they have a good range of cheap and delicious vegan hot foods and sweet snacks. So today's lunch is fake meat pies. Mmmmm.

While I'm on the topic, I may as well mention some of our other favourite vegan suppliers. Not that I'm out to convert anyone - it's just in case you're curious or having trouble feeding your veggo friends.

A great fake meat supplier is Vincent's Vegetarian Supermarket in Footscray. They have a huge range of frozen, foil-packed, canned and dehydrated mock meats - even vegetarian intestines!

We are blessed with lots of Buddhist vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne - perfect for vegans who on't eat garlic and onion. A few of our faves are:
* Vegie Mum at 27 Village avenue in Doncaster. The complete package.
* Bo De Trai at 94 Hopkins street in Footscray. A unique dining experience - not exactly lavish but great value and always delicious, even on those days that they bring you the wrong dish. But be warned - they close early (about 8pm).
* Enlightened Cuisine in Southbank. The closest we get to a fine dining experience.
* White Lotus at 185 Victoria street North Melbourne. The tamarind fish is my favourite dish ever!! and the owner is extra friendly.

And for dairy-free sweet snacks and desserts, you can't go past the kosher grocers like Alex's at 831 Glenhuntly Road in Caulfield South or Kraus foods at 62 Glen Eira Road in Elsternwick.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

project runway footscray

I have been watching Project Runway Canada and for some reason got it into my head that I, too, could design and make a dress without a pattern. Because they make it look so easy on the show. But perhaps it is because most of the contestants have had years of training and experience. Plus they didn't have the problem of trying to fit boobs that change size according Olive's next feed. Anyway, I wanted to make a cool summer dress that I can breastfeed in, figuring that if I go to the effort of making such an item, we won't have any more hot days. And so far, it has worked a treat. The dress aint that great but the weather sure has cooled down :)

Does my head look small in this?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


The figs are ripe. Which is great, except that the tree is yielding enough to fill a whole shopping bag each day. I have eaten them raw. I have made jam. I have made baby food. I have made fruit cobbler. I have given them away in ridiculous quantities and am considering putting up a "free figs" sign at the front of the house.
Does anyone out there know of a good use for figs?

Saturday, 2 February 2008

this is ... my collection

This is ... my collection of snowdomes.

Or at least, part of my collection. I would have needed to dismantle most of the dining room to capture them all in a single photograph. I'm pretty sure it was the kitsch value that first drew me to snowdomes but they have also been a good way of fuelling my travel bug. My favourite type are the old-school style: plastic dome with blue background, 3D plastic insides and snow (not glitter).

The Kryall Castle dome (at the front on the right) deserves a special mention as the first dome I bought when it was snowing. Which is quite remarkable given that it is located only an hour from Melbourne and it was September at the time.

But my absolute favourite snowdome is of the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna.

Which brings me to another of my obsessions: Hundertwasser is one of my favourite artists and I have been lucky enough to be able to see several of his buildings in person, including:

The Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna. His first major architectural project which he also personally helped to build. Can you see the wonky floor (supposed to be more organic) and trees growing out of the walls? The trees are fed by the apartment building's sewerage and drainage system.

The Spittelau, a heating plant in Vienna.

The public toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand. This is the women's but I also got my partner to take photos of the men's urinals. He said he got some very funny looks!

Another incinerator, this time in Osaka, Japan. I hadn't done my research and we just saw it by chance on our excursion to the aquarium. Next time we are there I want to catch the bus out there and go on the tour!