Thursday, 23 April 2009

tree change

I am very pleased to announce that for one whole week and I am fleeing this town and heading to the country for some serious fresh air.

It's not a sea change, as I already live by the ocean, but more of a tree change. I'll be swapping Moreton Bay Figs and telegraph poles for Olive trees, Cypress Pines and Eucalyptus.

It's harvest time at Eastridge Olive Grove and we have several tonnes of olives to pick and process for delicious olive oil!

It's a special time of year when close family and friends all stay at my parent's farm to help out with the harvesting. Tom is already there helping Dad & Mum with the pre-harvest activities and I am driving up tomorrow morning with the Cat.

Hopefully, the drive there will be stressfree, unlike last year when I managed to do this to Dad's Landrover...
It is a funny story in retrospect but at the time - rather bloody awful actually! Although I wasn't the one who had to run for several kilometres to get help...Thanks Bean!!

Here are a few shots from last years harvest. I'll be back in a week to take you through the whole process, from tree to kitchen shelf!

P.S Bean we will miss you so much this year. Go Team Slow!! Now with new improved slowness... Bring some European backpackers for next years harvest will you?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

let us eat cake

Mum asked me to make this cake for Nana's birthday. It's the perfect cake for those who aren't that interested in the classic chocolate cake but still like something quite decadent. It's personally a favourite of mine because it combines two of my favourite ingredients - lemon and almond. Winning ingredients in savoury or sweet if you ask me.

It's probably more of a loaf than a cake, it's very dense and moist and rich, unsurprising as it has 4 eggs and a stick of butter in it! So, not for everyday, but we only have a birthday once a year, right?

Anyway - here's the recipe. It's a Nigella Lawson number from her How to be a Domestic Goddess recipe book, so I've made it super fast using the food processor. She wouldn't have it any other way.

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake

The cast:

225g unsalted butter
225g castor sugar
4 eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon of almond essence
grated zest and juice of two lemons

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. My oven is a little on the hot side though so 160 works better for me.

Step 2: Get your zest and juice ready. I love lemons...

Step 3: Cream the butter and sugar until almost white. You can of course use your muscles for this task, but in the spirit of Nigella I opted for the processor.

Step 4: Add in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the plain flour in between each egg.

Step 5: Gently stir in the ground almonds, the almond essence and lemon zest and juice.

Step 6: Pour into a cake tin. I love the new silicon cake moulds as you don't have to grease them and they clean easy and storing them is as easy as shoving them into the corner of your overcrowded drawer. Not that I have messy cupboards or anything...

It's not going to rise much as there is no rising agent in this cake, so fill it to the brim. (Or close to the brim, then use a spatula to get every last drop out of the bowl and into your mouth. Lick it clean if need be. You never know how the end product is going to turn out so it's important that you get something for your efforts.)

Step 6: Bake for about an hour, depending on how your oven goes. You'll know it's done if it's firm on top and a skewer comes out cleanish. I have to cover the tin with foil after half an hour or so otherwise the top burns too much.

Step 7: Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack and rest til cool.

Now, I forgot to take a picture at this stage, probably because I managed to burn the sides a little and it cracked down the top too and was drowing my sorrows with a glass of wine.

But that's nothing a little sprinkle of icing sugar and some decoy decorating won't fix.

Bon Appetit and Bonne Anniversaire Nana!

the view from my high horse is foggy

why is it so much easier to judge people than it is just to accept them, or give them the benefit of the doubt?

It really pisses me off what a monstrous hyprocrite I can be sometimes.

I was in my local health foodstore/organic grocer. I was picking up a few items for dinner and a cake I am baking for nana's birthday. There was a junkie in the store stocking up big time on everything. Juice, fresh food, tea, cheese, nuts, rice, whatever, he was grabbing it. I took one look at him and thought what the hell are you doing in here mate?

I waited patiently behind him at the checkout. He was fumbling in his pockets for cash and then he asked to sign up for the store membership, so he could get a discount. First Name? Dragon. Last Name? Blue. Address? I'm in between places right now.

And in my head I'm venomously ranting - "Good luck you fucking junkie, as if these organic groceries are going to do anything for your health compared to the immense amounts of chemicals you injest with all the heroin/ice you consume daily. And where the hell are you going to cook these organic meals if you don't live anywhere? And who is going to believe your name is Dragon Blue?!"

As I was walking home with my purchases the realization of what an enormous hypocrite I had been dawned on me. Who I am to judge this guy, whom I know nothing about whatsoever. Do I like it when people judge me for what I look like? And how can I pretend that how I live my life is really any better than anyone else? Dragon's probably just trying to make a go of it, just like I am.

We're all just trying to make a go of it, and sometimes we slip up or make mistakes. It just annoys me that I am so quick to forget this fact and so fast to judge others when my own life is far from perfect. It's a lonely ride on my high horse.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

I am game.

This has cheered me up considerably! My brother introduced me to Lisa Hannigan years ago when she sung for Damien Rice. My brother has impecable taste and Lisa Hannigan is no exception.

I love this song. It's my favourite on her album, See Saw. (Which by the way, has the MOST AMAZING knitted, embroidered album cover ever)

I had never seen the music video until today though.

I Don't Know from ATO Records on Vimeo.

Now I love her even more. She's like my Irish Amelie. I think I might watch it a few more times. I'll have a cup of tea and all my troubles will sort themselves out.


I'm a bit down this morning because I went to pick up a print from the photo shop that had been ordered on my Etsy store. At first glance all looked fine. Then when I had a better look in the car, I noticed an odd mark on the print that wasn't there last time I had it developed.

I went back to ask them what it was, in not so many words it turns out the developer has gotten some chemicals on my negative.

sigh. I won't pretend I didn't cry a little. Not only it is one of the most popular prints in my store, I never got a chance to make one for myself. That, and how do I explain this problem to the lovely customer that just ordered the print? Give her a refund I guess and send her the print with the mark? It's small, but I am sure some eagle eyed people would notice it.

Now I've let her down and that's bad for business.

The photo shop has said they will try to clean the negative and print it again but I am not holding my breath for a good result.

I can always take the photo again, but it may never be the same.

* Update - just rung the photo shop. They have fixed up the print digitally. At least the customer will get what she ordered then. Now I just have to take another equally lovely shot. With my broken holga!

Friday, 17 April 2009

belated long weekend post

I think I have put off posting these shots of my brief weekend away because it would mean admiting that I am no longer on holiday. Which means I can no longer eat and drink to excess without feeling guilty. Sigh.

In any case, it was a lovely weekend spent with my darling nammy and these weekends are few and far between now that we no longer live in the same street/state. More sighs.

It wouldn't be a real weekend without a suitcase.

Why go to the shops when the shops can come to you? This combi was awesome, good coffee, amazing shaved ice treats and tasty mexican burritos. Bloody rippa!

Nams and I sunning ourselves after a freezing dip in the ocean.

The clouds started rolling in but not before we all got a good dose of vitamin a and a few swims.

And what better way is there to spend an evening than playing scrabble with some good mates and plenty of easter eggs?

The only frustrating part was that I had all the letters and the spot to make the word 'recliner' except i needed to swap and o for an e, and then I would have used all 7 letters in one go. Still waiting for that amazing feat of scrabble skills to happen...
One day i'll do it...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

can't stop reading

My aim for the weekend was to get some serious reading done. Serious, in that I wanted to spend lots of time reading, not the subject matter per se.

I do love the feeling of being emersed in a book. I love watching the hours tick past on the clock as I turn page after page. I love it when it turns from day into night into day again and I'm still lying there reading. Like I could have been filmed in a time-lapse and if you played it back fast, nothing would change except the lighting in the room.

I just hate when you get down to the last part of the book, and the race for the finish line, because I'm so desperate to finish it I can barely take it in. I can never slow down for that part, it's like a mad dash to the finish line, which I inevitably have to reread to soak in all the details. Especially if it's taken me well into the night, and at say 1am I think, sure, I'll be finished in a bit, then the time between 1 and 2 and 3 feels like 10 minutes has flown by.

Then there's that weird post-book feeling, when you are released from the stranglehold and are obliged to go about your daily life as normal, but all the characters and events and feelings are still ambling (or racing, depending on the book) around in your mind, bumbing in to other thoughts and getting confused with reality.

I had four books set aside for this weekend. 1 down, 3 to go.

That's the second in the Millenium trilogy by Swedish author Steig Larsson, the amazing Mr Kurt Vonnegut (how could you resist a book titled 'God Bless You, Mr Rosewater'? It's like a Salinger title. brilliant.) and the sharp witted Mr Evelyn Waugh. Where to start?! Lucky I have approx 8 hours sitting on a bus to look forward to this weekend!

The sky was amazing this morning. Tom and I got up pretty early for work and the view down to Bondi was so clear and crisp it made me wish I was just going straight to the beach for a relaxing day of reading and one of those divine felafal rolls and delightful rose lemonades from Sabbaba. Now I'm hungry too...

My camera doesn't do the sky justice, but you get the idea.

I hope whereever you are the sun is shining and you have a good book to read.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

off to a good start

Walking to work this morning, I spotted these amazing sunflowers growing outside someone's terrace. So cheerful! I wonder if all the chumps stuck in traffic were cheered by the happy faces of these sunflowers?

How hilarious are sunflowers though?! Did anyone else have a rafia hat with a plastic sunflower stuck to in in the early nineties? I thought I was so stylish.... I also remember having a blue ceramic vase with a bunch of plastic sunflowers in it in my room when I was a kid. Matched the whole blue and yellow theme I had at the time. Complete with those puffy roman-type blinds, what are they called? Ghastly stuff. I can't believe my mum let me. In fact, I think I made her make them for me. Poor mum.

Anyway - Easter long weekend is off to a good start despite the fact that I am working on Saturday and that Tom is working all weekend as per usual....because there was a bunny on my desk when I got to work! YAY!
And yes, that is my Dark was the night CD. Did I mention already how good it is?!?! Sufjan Stevens, The National, Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, The New Pornographers plus loads more. So good people.

And yes, Brother dearest, that is your mp3 player. Thanks. I love it. Even more now that it has a cosy little cover knitted with bamboo yarn. It was actually a half finished booty, repurposed for the task at hand. So cosy in my hand...goes nicely with a warm cup of soup to pour down my ears!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Dark was the Night

Just got a copy of this AMAZING compilation CD - Dark was the Night. A for awesome, A for Amazing. A for Ahhhhhh!

Seriously, the proceeds go to charity and the exclusive tracks are by the best bands making tunes right now. I'm in love. LOVE.

Here are my top 3! Get thee a copy now!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

rainy days

I bought some new paper crane paper from Kinokuniya. They are the prettiest colours. Colour gradients never fail to make me smile. I loved organising my pencils by shades of colour as a kid. Still do! Organising things by colour and making paper cranes is so calming for me. I scanned some of my paper cranes and some water colours I have been working on and I they have definitely brightened up my rainy day!

It's been raining quite a bit lately. That time of year I guess. Rainy days make me want to stay in bed with a good book and stare out the window. Drinking cups of tea. Cuddling the cat. Listening to Billy Holiday. Or Nina Simone. Funnily enough, "Little Girl Blue" is playing right now.

"Sit there and count the raindrops
Falling on you
It's time you knew
All you can ever count on
Are the raindrops
That fall on little girl blue"

Thursday, 2 April 2009

could i be the 'oscar wilde' of strongly worded emails?

In my day job as Content Manager at an understaffed, start up company website, I have the pleasure of juggling many inane tasks. One such task is responding to support and contact us emails. This morning a little gem of a strongly worded email arrived in our inbox.

Please note the send time.

Sent: Thursday, 2 April 2009 2:24 AM
To: Support
Subject: Consumer Comment -- About Tickets

Comment:This is from your Dylan Moran page:

“...labeled 'The Oscar Wilde of comedy'”
What does that even mean?

Isn’t that like saying the Stephen Hawking is the Albert Einstein of physics? Or Vera Wang is the Coco Chanel of fashion? Surely the Oscar Wilde of comedy is Oscar Wilde?
I don’t know what is worse; saying something stupid, or quoting something stupid. Could you please tell me where you got that quote from or explain to me why you thought it made sense?
If you don't think this is important though, feel free to ignore me. Who cares about this stuff anyway, right?
Wow. Awesome rant buddy. Perhaps you should stop drinking though and hit the sack, it's late, you've obviously had a long day. I myself am a huge fan of Irish comedian Dylan Moran and Irish writer Oscar Wilde, and understand that the connection is dodgy at best. I did entertain the thought that Moran wrote the email himself. But I am sure he probably has better things to do with his time than search for all the dates he is performing in Australia and comment on the copy accompanying those event listings.

Being the strongly worded email fan that I am, I was surprised to find myself on the receiving end, but understood the pain that this tortured soul was going through. I wanted him to know that I do care about this stuff.
So I (perhaps foolishly) replied. I may get fired for being unprofessional. It will at least mean more time for me to spend on my strongly worded emails.
"Thanks for your strongly worded email. We love to start the day with a strong coffee and some feisty consumer feedback.
Your argument has merit, but please don't shoot the messenger. We received this copy from the promoter of the event, we cannot claim to have penned it ourselves.
We don't feel the need to justify why we have published this quote, but thanks nonetheless for your passionate late night response to our product, it fills our heart with glee to know that someone out there has taken the time to pay attention to us.
Keep up the good work."

Maybe it will be the impetus for me to finally open that bookstore I have always wanted to open and employ my excellent customer disdain skills I honed over many years of working in retail.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

irritable brain syndrome

I wish there was some sort of pill you could take for irritability, like you can take for a headache or depression.

I've tried everything, cups of tea, deep breathes, perspective, music, sex, chocolate, sunshine, exercise, fresh air, cleaning, not cleaning, sleep. Nothing seems to be budging this grey storm cloud over my head.


Am I a lost cause? I doubt it. Am I just a whinger? Most likely. Am I boring everyone? Don't answer that.

Evidence of attempts at erasing irritable mood - sunshine, fresh air etc
Don't worry, I didn't try the mushrooms. Just admired them. And imagined tiny little fairies and gnomes dancing around them in a woodland forest with other Enid Blytony sorts of characters from the Faraway tree.

Spotted on Twitter - "1,000s of candles can b lit frm 1 candle, & the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. -Buddha"

Perhaps I need to tap into the happiness around me. Word up Buddha. Peace out!
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