Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Too Much Cake

A long time ago, way back when I had only two toddlers, I decided to make a cake for my eldest daughter's second birthday. I wanted it to look like her favourite picture from her favourite picture book, "The Baby Catalogue" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I almost had a nervous breakdown trying to create a wicker basket texture in the icing and felt as though I had failed miserably. 

Little did I know then that I was setting myself up for annual birthday requests to conjure a birthday girl/boy's dream in flour, eggs, butter and icing.

Growing up, we would pick a cake from the classic Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book and my mum would recreate it beautifully - to instructions. We had the piano, the train, the clock, the paint pallet, the typewriter - so many!

My kids mostly seem to want to create original never before thought of cakes. Usually I take it as a challenge. Get excited...then stressed...then really stressed...then lick my fingers too much while using icing, then feel sick, I'm racing the clock, I'm spending  zilch time with the kids, I'm having structural disasters, there are cake crumbs flying everywhere and I'm feeling high on glucose like I've been snorting icing sugar. 

There have been Dolly Varden cakes, Eiffel tower cakes, swimming pool cakes even a Grotto of chocolate crackles to house a Virgin Mary statue. There was Shang from Mulan, a duckling,  Mr. Potato head, Trotro, My Neighbour Totoro, trains and more trains.

Now I think I retire. I'm a complete disaster in the food colouring and icing confectionary department. I can't handle it any more.
All the birthdays come at once. In the last month I have made a swimming pool, an Olaf the Snowman from Frozen and a ten layer Princess and the Pea bed. 
(The princess and the pea was a ten layer cake - five cakes bakes separately) in different colours. The bed ends were pretzels I dipped in chocolate and put together)

It takes up too much time and effort and stress! I don't think I can do it! I'm no good at it! I AM that pinterest disaster person! I'm over it! I DON'T EVEN EAT CAKE! I AM ALLERGIC TO CAKE! I AM A CAKE-TASTROPHY!
Yet I know that when next year comes around and a little voice  says, "Please Mum can my birthday cake this year be the Taj Mahal in meringue" I will probably say yes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

book review: "Child of Twilight" by Carmel Bird

*This review is on my goodreads profile  and I read and reviewed it as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
"Child of Twilight"  by Carmel Bird. Published 2009 by HarperCollins.
Hail Carmel Bird,
Full of wit,
The word is with thee.
Blessed are you among women writers
And blessed is the fruit of your pen, “Child of the Twilight”
Holy Carmel, mother of story,
Pray for us readers now
And at the hour of our page turning,

“Child of the Twilight” is a story spun by nineteen year old Sydney, an IVF child in search of her place in the scheme of things; an identity within the “curious nature” of her origins. She tells us she “constantly peers into the lives of those to whom I would be related, if I were related to anybody at all”. And here she finds “Roland the Good, Cosimo the Archivist, Diana the Manipulator, Rosita the Spinster, Corazon the Fertile and Rufus the Virile.”

Touching all the lives is the miraculous statue of the Infant Jesus, The Bambinello, at the Franciscan church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. The statue was prayed to by Sydney’s mother, Avila, and also by a distant relative, Callianthe, mother of Father Roland the Good, who visits the statue only to find it has been stolen. The mystery is deepened rather than solved by the involvement of the trickster priest, Father Cosimo, suggesting the statue may have, in fact, simply chosen to leave. 
Back home in Australia, Father Roland is the priest at the school where Corazon (the Fertile) Mean, year 12 student, collapses from an ectopic pregnancy while in the art room, in front of her teacher Rosita the Spinster. Sydney then adds the “Mean” family to the mix as the story branches out to cover the past and present of the lives of the family of characters, while still riffing on the history of miraculous statues, the science of reproduction and the mysteries of faith.

The “free floating”, drifting nature of the narrator (or “Navigator” as she refers to herself) gives her a playful omnipotence, at once connected and disconnected from the tree of the characters, telling us important things brusquely and teasingly hinting at others as she leaps from branch to branch with the litheness of a woodland sprite.

The story twists and turns, folds and unfolds, eventually completely entwining with such deftness you hardly have time to catch your breath. I at once wanted more – more detail, more characters, more wonderful words – while still admiring the perfect restraint of it all.

The constellation of characters past and present, living and dead, dance in an intricate and whimsical tale of faith, magic, science, mystery, love and loss. The book delights at every turn. Read it. With Carmel Bird, you are in the hands of a masterful story teller.

Carmel Bird is an exceptional Australian writer who has written fiction, non fiction, short stories, essays and how to write manuals. Her blog is the blue lotus.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A farewell quilt.

As you have probably guessed from the previous post our retiring school principal, Dionne, is an extremely well loved and respected member of our community. Some of the crafty parents at the school wanted to put our efforts towards creating a keepsake for her. This is what eventuated.
A sumptuously warm plum coloured quilt made from recycled jumpers.

With so many crafty people participating, was it a case of too many cooks spoil the broth? Never. In fact we proved the other adage to be true: many hands do in fact make light work. 

We enjoyed each other's company, shared our skills and talents - along with tea, sunshine,stories and cake. And their was plenty of warm unspoiled broth too.

Justine washed the jumpers, and then, with my industrial cutting machine, I was naturally in charge of cutting the many 12 cm x 12 cm square (under strict advice from task master Karen to be accurate! Yikes...no pressure.) 

We met at Jenny's warm light filled house and lay the squares out on the huge bench. Next thing multiple hands were rearranging and changing contrasting squares in a fairly hilarious felty crafty game of tetris!

Each row was labeled and stacked then the dueling sewing machines were brought out and lifted onto Jenny's generous dining table (I must point out that everything at Jenny's place is larger than life and of generous proportions - from the huge welcoming front door, to the huge sun-filled windows, to the huge old dog, Betty and most of all to the huge generous nature of Jenny herself.) 

Karen, an experienced professional maker, backed the quilt with a natural coloured linen and made her own bias binding from wool suiting.

Then all hands were on deck for hand stitching leaf designs and squares.Jenny finished it with a hand embroidered message in the corner and a colour co-ordinated bag to keep the quilt in. 
As you can see, Dionne loved it.  
And we loved making it. I learned so much from these women. Community-minded crafty company - the best.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

plarn bombing

We wrapped...

we wound...

we wove...

Joe waited.

We looped...

we laced...

we lashed...

Joe waited.

We hooked...

we hitched...

we harnessed...

Joe waited.

We furled...

we fixed...

we finished! 

Joe was happy!

Our much loved school principal, Dionne, retires tomorrow. My town plarner partner, Kasia and I plarn bombed her a message with recycled plastic bags.

Friday, June 20, 2014


 Swept around BIG beehive.... BIG flowers...

BIG eyes...BIG earrings....BIG pussy bow..( yeah and BIG nose!)...


Eat your heart out Mrs Slocombe!
It has been a week of wearing BIG things....wonder what I'll wear next week...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

june playlist

pom poms in the shape of a number five....

last month is was big skirts, this month it's big beehives, big flowers, big earrings, big eyes and very big pussy bows...
Fargo on TV. Gosh! Golly! It's good!

listening to:
Lindi Ortega (Canadian country singer) Saw her play live earlier this year at the Toff in Town...she's pretty good....some compare her to Dolly...but she's not that good....
For book club I re-read "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. A second reading is well worthwhile. What an ambitious and wonderful book it is.
Also reading two books of short stories.  "Friend of my Youth" by Alice Munro and "This is How you Lose Her" by Junot Diaz

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Queen's Birthday Weekend Queenspiration!

Well. You know it isn't even really Queen Liz's birthday but, with an extra day up my sleeve (kept up there like a carefully ironed hanky) I've been doing some blog housekeeping and visiting early blog posts  - back when I was the shy retiring type. So I'm showing you some of my Queenie things again! This coronation coach which was my mum's.

And you know the rhyme, "I went to London to visit the Queen"?  When I went to London as a nineteen year old I actually did see the Queen. At fairly close quarters too.

A childhood friend, Brendan, was touring England with a special cricket team called the Victorian Crusaders. Part of their tour was to play various teams, including the Queens Guard at a private match at Windsor Castle – really just a back yard cricket match at Liz’s place. I didn’t have a clearance to attend as a guest, but, being young and rather foolish, I decided I couldn’t possibly miss out on seeing my friend Brendan actually meeting the Queen. And besides, I was in the neighbourhood!
So I headed up to Windsor Castle. After wandering around the grounds a bit, I worked out where the cricket field was and literally, like the country girl I am, I jumped the fence.........where I came face to face with a burly beefeater guard. 
After I explained to him the significance of seeing my lifelong friend meet the Queen and telling him I’d come all the way from Australia, well, he....simply let me in. I wandered across the cricket field toward the gathering of people. Brendan couldn't believe it! (I was probably waving at him like a maniac, grinning like a Cheshire cat!)   I wouldn’t say I slipped in unnoticed into the garden party as I do recall wearing rainbow striped leggings with a short black dress trimmed in fur, a big black bouffant bob and false eyelashes.
There I was! At a private bbq in the Queen’s back yard! Then suddenly, there was the Queen. I was star struck and took a couple of terrible photos. Lucky I did though because if I didn't have the photos to prove it I probably wouldn't believe this story myself.
After a while in her presence, the Queen just seemed to be a little old lady – in black patent shoes and bright blue frock. It made me homesick for my granny.
Our re-sew-cool vintage stamp brooch was the brainchild of fellow sister outlaw, Lynne. It works well with our lovely recycled jumper felt and vintage mini ric rac! So "happy Unbirthday" Queen Elizabeth.