Sunday, September 21, 2014

masterchef and the Show today

We've been to the Royal Melbourne Show many times over the years and the decorated cakes never fail to entertain. I certainly couldn't see myself eating one but they are great to look at and admire.

This year there seemed to be an obsession with yarn bombing all the animal figures which looked pretty cute but was EVERYWHERE.

I was very excited to be able to walk through the Masterchef kitchen, where the show is filmed.
B was less keen but humoured me: the queue really wasn't very long......

The photos aren't great but I loved seeing all the different bits of the set. The pantry! The judge's table! The clock! The benches! The couches! Yes I know this is pretty sad of me.
Some of this year's contestants were there and Alice from a couple of years ago.

Other random Show photos below: we walked our legs off, had our CWA scones, saw some WOMEN wood chopping for a change and had a great time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

note to self: no more Tudors

As I noted on Instagram this morning, I feel like I've read about 387 books about the Tudor royals, especially Henry VIII and his six wives. I managed to read 180 pages of The King's curse while I was away last weekend and have read about 130 since then but I still have a way to go.
 Unfortunately at about the halfway mark I felt like I was re-reading EARLIER Philippa Gregory Tudor court novels ( like The constant princess) but I do want to finish this, even though there's no suspense - I already know who's getting their head chopped off, who doesn't, and how many more pregnancies end badly ( all of them). Despite all this, I love the history so much it's not a chore to read. Gregory's novels have been described as romance thinly masked by history but they are enjoyable. If like me you never studied this period at school you certainly learn a lot. The last Tudor novel I will read is The mirror and the light, Hilary Mantel's third book in her Wolf Hall series.
It's not finished yet: good. I have too many brand new books from my favourite authors sitting ready to go.


Small trip to the local op-shop this morning while I waited for a prescription to be filled and I found a $2 tin for my long spaghetti (above) and a glass bowl for the sea glass.

I'm giving away more than I buy at the moment which is very freeing.
Using up bottles of things in the kitchen and bathroom and have given away armloads of books and clothes. I've bought exactly EIGHT new items of clothing this year. I am a bit low on summer clothes but am going to try to keep it to four things only between now and December 31, to take it up to a total of a dozen. It hasn't been hard because I don't go clothes shopping for entertainment, except in op-shops. I must count how many op-shop things I've added this year - actually not that many, but I'm not entirely sure. All the new things I've bought except one fast fashion item I should get some years out of. I do wear things to death/rags/holes.


Apart from tomorrow, I have a week off work.
My work partner is going on six months leave from October 30 and is then just coming back in March to retire! I thought I'd better have a little break before she goes.
I'm not going anywhere except into my garden, hopefully every day. I've already made medical appointments for Monday and B and I went out for breakfast today. We are going to the Show on Sunday with J and his girlfriend: S is giving it a miss this year.
Other things to do: get the machine out and finish the doily tablecloth; cut out a skirt and some pyjama pants; pay bills, get my tax papers together and make an appointment to do it: I have to pay this year so I'm putting it off.


This week the spring garden has sprung into life: Mr Lincoln has eight rose buds, the willow and maples are leafing up and everything is green, green, green. Last job for the day apart from making a pilaff for dinner is to throw some dynamic lifter around the fruit trees. I pruned the lemon tree really REALLY hard: it was covered in citrus gall wasp and looked terrible and has not produce a lemon this year so I figure the prune will mean kill or cure. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

sewjourn is not just about the sewing

I'm not really much of a sewer but I get invited to go to Sewjourn anyway: I feel very lucky, but for me the long weekends are about much more than the actual sewing.

Last weekend was so calming that I'm still in relaxation mode. Today, two days after coming back someone remarked how well I looked. Trying to hang on to the slowed-down feeling as long as possible.

Trying to analyse it, I realised that on these weekends  I get to do all my favourite things, with no expectations by anyone to be anywhere at a certain time or be responsible for anyone else except myself.

 I pinned up and tacked all the doilies for my tablecloth and I took some clothes to mend: took up some shorts, mended a shirt and sewed some snap fasteners on a shirt. I spent a long time in the beautiful town book shop. The next town was having an "all town garage sale" with 35 households selling off their stuff. Five of us went over. ( I only bought a ceramic for S, a funny little cookbook and a big empty glass jar. Sue, who runs a vintage shop called Bruthen Bizarre bought up big: her car was filled to the top with things). I made lunch for everyone on Saturday. I got into my bed in the middle of the afternoon, read and slept. I had a BATH: I haven't had a bath in years. I read 180 pages of my book. There is no wi-fi and I don't take a phone so there was no internet. No radio and we don't turn on the television. It is so....peaceful. It was sunny and the town was filled with daffodils and trees full of blossom. We took turns making meals, emptying the dishwasher and making cups of tea. Janet made a huge tin of melting moments and we scoffed them. We sat down for "family dinners" at night, and Saturday lunch. There is talking, talking, talking, but there are friendly silences too.

Here are some photos from the weekend. Thank you for having me fellow craft campers.

creepy doll bought for Sue's shop

Linda and Suse studying the garage sale map

blue skies

tacking the tablecloth

Sewjourn garden view

quiet Sunday morning reading

bought this junior version of P&P for S

Linda bought two chairs, $5 each

blossom time
Suse's studio photo I stole from instagram. I am pinning in the background.
the house

Friday, September 12, 2014

friday books: Margaret Pole and the terrible Tudors

If you're not interested in Tudor history STOP READING NOW.

( I'll write about another book down below but the first cab off the rank is Phillipa Gregory's latest novel, The King's curse).



 This portrait above of an unknown sitter is commonly believed to be Margaret Pole, one of the few  members of the Plantagenet royal family to initially survive when Henry VIII's father seized the throne from King Richard III after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Margaret was the cousin of the legendary "Princes in the Tower",  as well as being cousin to their sister, Henry VIII's mother. Confusing?, yes, they were all related, which is why Gregory called her series about the War of the Roses The Cousin's war . The King's curse is the last in that series, dealing with the life of the last Plantagenet.

Her first series about the Tudor times in England is called The Tudor Court Series: The other Boleyn girl is the most well-known, but there are five others and I've read them all: books about most of Henry VIII's wives, his daughter Elizabeth I and her rival Mary, Queen of Scots - another cousin!

I haven't read all the Cousin series because they weren't as interesting to me as the Tudors, but I remember poor Margaret's fate from the TOBG and wanted to know her back story: how she survived as long as she did with Henry seeing a conspiracy to unseat him behind every curtain.

I've only read a little but I'm enjoying it: teenage Catherine of Aragon has just arrived from Spain to marry Henry's older brother Arthur. Did you know Henry had a brother? Nor did I until I fell down the rabbit hole of Tudor history a few years ago. They should teach it in schools: makes Game of Thrones look like the teddy bear's picnic.


I read another of the little 40 page Penguin specials, the very slim volumes of essays, fiction or non-fiction published as mini-books to read in one sittting.

This one, A story of grief, by Michaela McGuire, is about the reaction of people in Melbourne to the rape and murder of Jill Meagher in 2012. It is not about the crime or the perpetrator or even the victim, but about the way the city reacted, grieved, and dealt with this shocking crime. I don't think anyone who was living in Melbourne at the time will forget that week. People were fearful: everyone trying to help find her and then grieving openly when the poor young woman's body was found and her killer apprehended. I read this essay with tears in my eyes, remembering that terrible day.

McGuire writes well about her personal reaction as well as the media coverage, the collective grief and the issues around women's right to live their lives without fear. I like this series very much: I'm not sure if they are still being produced but I will chase down some more to read. They are also available in ebook format - as e books they are only $3.99 as opposed to $9.99 for the hard copy and I think much better value as the ones I've read have been 50 pages or less.

Off to craft camp for the weekend. I'm taking Margaret Pole, Sonya Hartnett's latest Golden boys
and a memoir about a man and his wife who spend three years or so watching every episode of Doctor Who ever made.... don't say my tastes aren't eclectic.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday night bullet points

  • Here I am blogging at night, very unusual. I simply ran out of time today: then there was the Extreme Weather and hoping the roof wouldn't blow off or leak which was distracting late this afternoon. Shady was frightened by the noisy hail on the tin roof out the back and hid in a pile of clothes on S's bed.

  • I am headed off to Sewjourn this weekend with some of the nicest bloggers, ex-bloggers and non-bloggers that you could meet. If you search "Sewjourn" in my "search this blog" area you can read about my past stays there: I'm too tired to do the links tonight. I'm going on Friday. I am hoping to get away from here by lunchtime but I now have to take my child for a CT scan in the morning so it will be after that...
  • I have some mending to take, and my doily tablecloth to finish laying out and fix some holes.The others are immensely industrious and knock out entire quilts and fabulous garments: I'm much less skilled so I take little projects to play around with. Also books, walking shoes etc. Looking forward to this time away so much: you have no idea.
  • The photos are from the latest Woody Allen film, Magic in the moonlight, which B and I saw on Sunday. It was a lovely piece of froth with the most gorgeous 1920s frocks, lush gardens in the south of France and stunning interiors. If you weren't interested in the film you could just watch with the sound off because it's so pretty to look at. Colin Firth does a lovely turn as a 1920s Mr Darcy: I really enjoyed it.
  • Two garden questions: if I pruned my lemon tree HARD now would it survive? It's produced not a lemon in the last six to eight months and I think it needs stirring up.Also the old bulbs in the woodland garden ( there would be about 200 there) are very heavily clumped and only produced about 6 flowers this year. If I dug them all up ( leaves still attached) and just let them die off ABOVE GROUND, out of sight behind the shed, before dividing and re-planting - would that be OK? I don't want to look at yellowing bulb leaves dying off for the next five months and I want to dig over that whole area in the spring.
  •  I just found out that in France "selfies" are called "braggies" which I think is much more accurate and funny and I hope that word takes off here.
  • I have been watching more television than usual: Doctor Who ( of course) but also Utopia on the ABC and the Reality Bites program that follows it, and the kids and I are a bit obsessed with the Australian and New Zealand Amazing Race. We like all the couples who are left except for the terrible racist dumb (dyed) blonde whingeing husband and wife who should have been eliminated last night but inexplicably weren't. I'm surprised you couldn't hear our groans of disgust when they lived to race another day.
  • Still spring cleaning. Did the fridge today: threw out a few antique jars of condiments. Going away, even for only a couple of days always seems to send me into a frenzy of doing things I've put off for ever ( hair cut, bank appointment, washing out the vegie crisper) so I should do it more often.

Friday, September 5, 2014

friday book and beach

I was restless this morning: I knew the fog would burn off and it did. I wanted to see the sea.
B's day off: I made egg sandwiches, wrapped up chocolate digestive biscuits, made a thermos of tea and we drove down to Brighton beach for lunch.

It was just what the doctor ordered: an empty beach except for a handful of dog walkers and some people strolling along. One sole crazy sunbaker in a bikini. I could smell the coconut oil and wanted to give her a brochure about melanomas, not that I had one handily on me.

We had our lunch and a nice walk and collected some sea glass. B has much better eye-sight than me:  he kept spotting pieces that my rubbishy eyes just skimmed over.I think I should probably be wearing glasses all the time now: everything has such a nice soft edge to it and I don't see wrinkles on peoples' faces. I've a week off soon: optometrist visit in that week for sure.


It is Spring, so I am cleaning. I have a lot of (small) rooms to get through. I found all sorts of things in the upstairs bathroom which I've put out to use up: gift soaps, shower gel, nearly used-up bottles of perfume. Tossed old make-up which I don't wear anyway; also expired medicines. I'll get the house in order in the month of September and then relax until Autumn next year.

These are Italian cleaning products from the Mediterranean Wholesaler in Sydney Road. They work no better than the local counterparts but they cheer me up when I'm using them.


I'm re-reading another Barbara Pym book, Jane and Prudence. It is really wonderful. I had forgotten about the Pym Universe, where characters cross various books, their appearance sometimes not making much sense but it's always fun to spot them. In this one Crampton Hodnet's Miss Morrow and Miss Doggett re-appear, living in a village, not in Oxford. They are the same age as they were in Crampton Hodnet but Miss Bird who was 20 or so in that book is now 40, the same age as heroine Jane. Mildred Lathbury who is the heroine in Excellent women is mentioned in passing as having married an anthropologist.  P.D. James did this with Jane Austen's characters in Death comes to Pemberley and I didn't like it at all, but I love it in Pym.


Yesterday while waiting for the kids to shop at Lincraft and JB Hi-fi I read a 50 page book by Sonya Hartnett called Life in ten houses.

I absolutely loved it: she writes a little about every house in Melbourne that she's lived in, and in passing about the different suburbs where they were located, also about her life and the many books she was writing at the time. Some of those houses were bad decisions, some good, and the differences she points out between the suburbs, and even in the same suburb in different decades is just brilliant. Even if you've never read anything by Hartnett ( and I have: The children of the king is one of my favourite books of all time), if you know Melbourne you will adore this book. Highly recommended.


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