Soupy soup

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Well, it’s blowing a bit of a gale here! I’m looking out my back windows and watching the autumn leaves cascading to the ground, and zipping through the air, so strong is the wind. The rain has stopped for the moment but I don’t think it will be long before the plants will be receiving another soaking. It would be WRONG to have anything other than soup for dinner, wouldn’t it? Is there anything more hygge than sitting in front of the telly on a cold, wintry Friday night, feet in uggs, sipping soup in mugs?(ooh, that’s a nice rhyme!) Pumpkin soup is the soup of choice here when everyone in the family is home. This is the one I’ve made for tonight. I left out the turmeric and put some fresh ginger in instead. I always feel virtuous including pulses in my soups. I think it makes them more of a meal, and there’s something very nourishing about them. But every meal needs balance, right? So…I’ve also made the ol’ trusty Bill Granger brownie. I tell you, this is such a super easy, fail safe brownie recipe – apart from that one time when I was baking it at 7.30 in the morning in the rush to have it ready for a school morning tea and used two eggs instead of four. That was a sorry sunken mess! But when I have my sanguine mummy hat on, it ALWAYS ends up crusty on the outside, fudgy in the middle. I used white choc bits today instead of the dark chocolate. I like the butterscotch-y flavour the white chocolate adds to the gooey chocolate centre. And I sprinkled in a pinch of salt instead of the vanilla.

Keep warm, fellow Melburnians! And happy weekend to everyone!

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Taking Stock: April ‘18

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Hey gang! Do you see those two small magnolia little gems? And the statice in the front? I PLANTED THEM! Yep, I did. With a little bit of help from my dad because he has a shovel. I actually found out the day after we planted them that I have a shovel too but because I garden so infrequently, I had actually forgotten I had one! Anyhoo, since the rediscovery of my shovel I have planted three more little gems and a camellia – for some winter colour. I don’t know what’s come over me but all of a sudden I feel the enthusiasm for giving the house a good sprucing up. The STUFF in the roof is being sorted, donated and pitched, the outside light my man has always disliked is being replaced, and I’m wandering around inspecting flyscreens and cupboards and *nodding* ‘hmm, that needs to be repaired.’ Maybe it’s a reverse nesting thing that happens when the big ‘M’ hits! Aah, hormones! You do keep us entertained! So, in amongst all this reorganising and beautifying of my environment, I felt it appropriate to do a bit of a stocktake of life.

Eating: homemade creamy chicken soup. LOVE!

Making: lots of cups of tea for everyone in the house. Gosh it’s taken a bit to get my head around having the family around during the week this year! My man is working from home LOTS more, the boy is doing his thesis so not many uni hours, and the girl is in and out – but I’m trying to embrace it because I know moving out days may be on the horizon.

Cooking: chicken with basil and tomatoes for dinner

Drinking: peppermint tea

Reading: Call My By Your Name for book club. I haven’t seen the movie. Have you? What did you think? And I’m flicking through Frankie and Look What We Made

Hearing: the dishwasher sloshing, the pool filter whirring

Watching: quite a lot of Harry Styles clips because my girl keeps shoving them before my eyes! Which is fine! He seems talented, and nice, and plays a good tune. She went to the Melbourne concert and touched his suit! I asked her how it felt – ‘expensive!’

Seeing: a beautiful, blue autumn sky

Noticing: the stillness of the day outside

Disliking: the mess the corellas have been making of our streets. They have been carpeted with the pecked over remains of the pods from the plane trees. And the pods themselves! Out on my morning walks, I’ve had to be careful walking under the trees as the birds are sitting up there, pecking away, sending the pods raining onto the footpath.

Cringing: at the very thought that Trump could be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize over the whole Korea thing. I was reading in the paper this morning about how his unorthodox approach may have brought the two Koreas together and persuaded the North to demilitarise – although we do have to wait to see if this actually happens.

Wondering: whether to watch season 2 of  The Handmaid’s Tale. I loved the first season and the book but now that it is going beyond the novel’s end, I’m not sure if I risk spoiling my memories by watching season 2. I did read somewhere that Margaret Atwood gave it the thumb’s up, so maybe? Have you watched it?

Pondering: ageing! Maybe it’s because of the ‘M’ thing. Maybe it’s because lots of my friends are hitting the big 5-0, and some the big 6-0. It’s weird. My body still feels the same, and I don’t think I LOOK much different, but apparently the insides are telling a different picture. One of my friends is in the process of having her cataracts attended to. Isn’t that something that happens to old people? I look at pictures of my mum when she was my age – I’d made her a grandmother by then (we were both child brides 😉) and she looked much more mature (though not old) than I THINK I look. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people in the street are looking at me and thinking ‘oh, yep, she’s nearing the seniors club.’

Thinking: I need to sort out my trolley full of wool

Opening: my front door a lot so that I can keep putting things on the nature strip for the hard rubbish collection

Looking: at lots of pictures of the royal family. And I don’t care what anyone thinks! Okay, William and Harry have never had to contend with living in poverty, but they had some crappy family stuff to deal with at a young age and it seems to me they’ve turned out to be pretty well-balanced people. And so I’m happy to see them making their own happy families. There’s nothing wrong for feeling happy that other people are happy, is there?

Wishing: the council would do weekly green bin collections in autumn. I have SO MANY BAGS of leaves that I’ve raked up and cannot fit into my bin. Don’t get me wrong. I love autumn, and I love my colourful fallen leaves but they can get slippery underfoot so I need to have a way to be able to get rid of them regularly.

Liking: that my man is feeling better. Bit of a tummy bug over the weekend so good to have that out of the system.

Feeling: chuffed to have sold a few of my weavings! One has even made it’s way over to New York! Love thinking that some of my work is in one of my favourite cities!

How’s your April been, chicks? Has the spring/autumn cleaning bug hit you too?

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Nice things for your Sunday

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It’s a grey and drizzly day in Melbourne – and I am LOVING it! It’s been warm for quite a while so it’s lovely to have some freshness in the air and some rain falling from the sky. I was planting in my garden during the week – yep, that’s right, this non-green thumb was in the garden! – and the ground was SO DRY. My new little plants that I’ve taken to talking to will be loving this weather. I’m sounding like my dad, wandering around the house saying ‘It’s good for the garden’!

If it’s an ‘inside day’ for you too, you might want to check out these clever people for some Sunday sighs and inspiration. Or you might just want to check them out anyway!

  • Look at these AMAZING embroideries! You can also read an interview with the clever Cayce here
  • I love these paintbrush portraits by Alexandra Dillon
  • Terrarium cupcakes? Yes please!
  • This is a clever way to recycle old dolls, Although maybe be careful with the placement if you’re the type to go for wanders in your house in the wee hours!

Enjoy your Sunday, gang!

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Easter chillin’

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What are you doing this Easter? Are you heading out of town? Are you in your pjs watching Netflix? Are you drinking tea and eating your body weight in hot cross buns and chocolate eggs? I’ll probably do a little bit of all of that.

There’s something very quiet and calming about the Easter break for me. Is it the same for you? I’m not a particularly religious person but I do like to treat Good Friday as a quiet day – a day to potter at home, read, craft, spend time with the fam. Today my boy and I had a chat for a couple of hours. So lovely! Don’t get that opportunity often when they’re grown ups!

For us, unlike Christmas, there’s no fancy meals to prepare, no rush to clean the house for visitors, no preparing to take off on holidays. Easter is a nice few days to mooch around and inhale a big breath before heading forth into the coming cooler months.

Enjoy your Easter, chums, whatever your plans are!

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Taking Stock: March ‘18

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Gang! How are you? Long time no blogging! I don’t know what I’ve been doing with myself to have so much time pass and apparently nothing to blog about. Maybe if I take stock, à la Pip Lincolne, I’ll work out what’s been going on.

Eating: tuna pasta

Cooking: stewed plums. Autumn means plums, yes?

Drinking: wine, tea

Making: the weaving in the photo. It was my first commission! Woohoo! Gave one of my weavings to a friend’s daughter, her grandmother saw it and thought she’d like one too! Delivery is happening tomorrow so I hope she likes it 😬

Watching: Homeland, my footy team on the telly. I always feel like the year is really underway once the football season starts

Reading: Forest Dark. I borrowed it from the library and when I went to renew it they said it was on reserve and renewing was a ‘no can do’. Second time that has happened to me! So I had to go and buy book so I could finish it!

Hearing: thunder. It’s going to be a pretty stormy night judging by the radar

Waiting: for my boy to come home from work

Wondering: what to cook for dinner tomorrow. So many meals to think of…

Planning: to go the bookshop this week, maybe buy some magazines, have some quiet reading time, visit Opendrawer

Pondering: my next weaving design

Buying: wool from Wool and the Gang. My man gave me a voucher for Christmas and they have a sale on at the moment so more bang for my buck!

Marvelling: at how social media can create new friendships. Discovered one of my fave weavers who I follow on Insta goes to the same yoga school I go to, her son goes to the same school my boy went to, and we have a mutual friend! We’ve had a chat and will have a catch up! Lovely!

Liking: that daylight savings will end soon. The mornings are becoming very dark!

Loving: the autumn colour

Knowing: the next couple of months will be spent raking up leaves. I look at the trees in my front garden and think, ‘ay, ay, ay, so many leaves, so little space in the bin!’

Wishing: the council would start the street leaf collection earlier. I don’t think they start until mid-April and by that time so many leaves are already carpeting the footpaths

Celebrating: my mum and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary. Such a long time, yes? Dad used liquid paper in his card to Mum to signify some of the rough patches and things they would rather have erased! Funny man! But they have stuck together through all the icky bits. Pretty admirable.

Remembering: to buy Easter eggs for the egg hunt – because even when you’re 21 and 19 the egg hunt is still an essential part of Easter! The Easter Bunny received a scolding when the egg hunt was neglected a couple of years ago. Oops!

Hmm…still don’t quite know why I haven’t turned my mind to chatting to you, lovely blog buddies! Has anything interesting, happy, exciting been happening in your world?

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Have you read…? January reading

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Gah! It’s already nearly the end of February so I have been a TAD SLOW getting these posted! Oh well. Better late than never! Here’s what had me flicking over pages in the first month of 2018.

Goodwood by Holly Throsby

I read this book whilst down at the beach and it was the perfect holiday read. Goodwood is a small community in rural New South Wales. Life is uneventful and uncomplicated for the residents of Goodwood until two of its residents disappear – the beautiful and inscrutable 18 year old Rosie, and one week later, the local butcher and pillar of the community, Bart. Greenwood is rocked to its core as the residents and local policeman, Mack, attempt to discover what has happened to the two. Could the two have been involved with each other? Why did Bart not seem to want to discuss Rosie’s disappearance with his wife whilst the rest of the town was abuzz with speculation? Was Rosie’s violent stepfather involved in her disappearance? Or Lafe, the leering uncle of Rosie’s boyfriend? Why was $500 stashed in a hole in a tree trunk by the river? Throsby has populated her novel with deftly drawn, idiosyncratic characters, who, together, create a community that feels very real. The resolution is uncomplicated, as befits the town, yet satisfying.

First Person by Richard Flanagan

I have never read any Richard Flanagan books before so I was keen to read First Person when it was proposed at book group. In the early 1990s, struggling Tasmanian writer, Kif Kehlmann, is employed to ghost write the autobiography of Siegfried Heidl, a conman who has defrauded the banks of 700 million dollars. Heidl becomes an increasingly frustrating subject for Kif – he leaves writing sessions abruptly for meetings and interviews, he refuses to divulge details of his early life to enable Kif to write his story, or to show any repentance for his actions. A further unsettling aspect of their relationship concerns the warning Kif is given by his friend, Ray, Heidl’s bodyguard, who warns Kif not to reveal details of his personal life to Heidl as he has a way of insinuating himself into people’s lives. When the relationship between Kif and Heidl comes to an end, we follow Kif’s subsequent writing endeavours beyond the world of books and into the world of television. The novel owes much to Flanagan’s own experience of ghost writing the autobiography, Codename Iago, of fraudster John Fridrich. There can be no doubting the quality of Flanagan’s writing but the story? The consensus amongst our book group was that it was a bit ‘meh’. In a meeting between Kif and his publisher, Gene, that takes place about two thirds the way through the novel, Gene tells Kif that whilst he has some ‘interesting things’ in his manuscript ‘something needs to happen.’ And that is exactly how I felt. Nothing was happening. It was a continual cycle of Kif meeting Heidl, Heidl running off, Kif’s book going nowhere, and Kif becomingly increasingly frustrated, as was I! Maybe that was the point – to make me feel as frustrated as Kif. There were, however, some interesting observations made about trust in the novel. Heidl explains to Kif how trust is ‘the oil that greases the machine of the world.’ He observes that people we don’t like we still trust; that people who profess to know their professions – who lead the world – we trust. But what if they don’t know what they are doing? Heidl suggests that they are ‘the real conmen’. And, for me, the issue of trust in a world of reality TV – the world Kif comes to inhabit – and social media, is an interesting one to ponder. So would I recommend it? If you are happy to read a novel purely for writing style and language, yes, but if you want an engaging story, perhaps go for something else.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature is the second novel by award winning writer, Jane Harper. Aaron Falk, the federal police officer who featured in The Dry, returns to investigate the disappearance of the acerbic Alice Russell during a team building hiking camp in the fictional Giralang Ranges. Falk and his partner, Carmen Cooper, become part of the investigation team as Alice has been assisting them in revealing the money laundering activities of her employer, BaileyTennants. Force of Nature is structured in a similar way to The Dry switching between chapters which focus on the investigation, and those which detail the unfolding events of the hike. As with any good thriller, there are a number of possibilities to keep the reader guessing as to who could be responsible for Alice’s disappearance. Could it be the son of the late notorious serial killer Martín Kovac, who dumped his victims’ bodies in the Giralang Ranges? Maybe Daniel Bailey, Alice’s boss, who was seen talking to her alone one night at the camp? What are we to make of the injuries to the face of Alice’s boss, Jill Bailey? What about the message ‘…hurt her…’ left on Aaron’s phone from Alice the day before she was reported missing? And there’s a red herring thrown in for good measure too! For me, the ending was not quite as satisfying as that of The Dry but it was a page-turning read along the way so I finished it a pretty content reader!

How’s your reading year going so far? Have you read any of these? What did you think?

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Taking Stock: January ‘18

52FA7955-F41F-4C28-B6D7-AA5FD97762A3.jpegToday was one of those days where I woke up feeling a bit flat. Do you have those too? There was no reason for me to feel down in the dumps but I just did. Maybe it was hormones? Australian Open hangover? Lack of sleep after the heat of the past couple of days – and yep, we did lose power at our place. Sweaty, sweaty, sweaty with no air con! So I thought, as I was out on my morning walk, feeling like I was about to burst into tears 😩, that it might be a good time to take stock to give myself a bit of a rev up!

Cooking: well, about to start cooking bolognese because cool weather means a more hearty meal.

Drinking: green tea at the moment. And I’ve also been drinking water with fruit chucked in it. Yep, it’s a 2018 thing happening in my kitchen. Today’s combo – pineapple and lime.

Eating: the ice cream birthday cake from my girl’s birthday yesterday. That necessitated a quick trip to my mum’s to pop it in her freezer during the power blackout.

Making: a weaving with purple wool to pay homage to ultraviolet being the Pantone colour of the year.

Reading: about to start Force of Nature which I just bought at the local bookshop with my babysitting money from this morning’s work. Thought it might pep me up!

Watching: lots of tennis! But now we need to find something else. Maybe Search Party? I did see Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri the other day and it was great. Frances McDormand… LOVE!

Listening: to birdsong with my little people this morning. How much fun it is to see kiddies observing the world around them!

Hearing: tv in the background. My man clacking away on his keyboard.

Knowing: it is our wedding anniversary on Thursday. 26 years. I think that’s a long time.

Hoping: everyone has a happy, healthy year.

Wanting: to see all the movies – I, TonyaThe PostSweet Country. It’s Oscars season and this year there seem to be some really compelling movies out there.

Wondering: how to develop my creative endeavours this year. A few classes, inspiring excursions, looking through books in the library?

Loving: this new ad campaign for CGU Insurance. I know that sounds completely weird to love an insurance ad, but it’s so great to give applause to migrants after the many negative messages that are presented in the media. I hope it brings a bit more humanity into people’s hearts.

Liking: the freshness in the air after some pretty humid days.

Laughing: at being called ‘a legend’. Chuffed!

Looking: at the photo of one of my weavings hanging on Shani’s wall. It makes my heart sing to see it in its new home!

Feeling: super happy for a friend who has just announced she’s having a bub!

No reason for me to be feeling slumpy at all! Lots of good things happening here! I hope your 2018 has started swimmingly. Maybe you want to take a leaf out of Pip’s book and take stock as well?

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