Posts from — October 2012

Sweet Little Something 0

October 19, 2012

An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments. Have a great weekend!

From Hannah:

From Ria:

In: Food, From Hannah, From Ria, Sweet Little Something

Conkers 2

October 17, 2012

So I think it’s clear how envious I am that you 1. are going into summer and 2. get to take these fun outings to fabulous markets and festivals and try amazing food at all of them and 3. eat perfect avocados. I guess I could manage that last one, but still. Not fair.

It’s been glorious here for months–literally the driest since the turn of the last century–but this weekend the rain began. Oh, the West Coast rain.

But there was a break in the weather, so little e and I went across the street and checked out the trees in the park.

What resulted was a kind of small photo essay about conkers. Did you ever play conkers as a kid? I’m not an expert or anything, but I know it involves a lot of violent smashing of horse-chestnuts into one another. Okay, maybe not exactly violent. Smashing, yes.

But there’s something so satisfying about holding conkers in your hand–the shiny, brown roundness. And they do make a nice knocking sound when you have three in your palm. DH tells me they can be used to scare  away spiders from basements (not that we are afraid of spiders–in fact, I worry they will have nowhere to live if not in our basement). I don’t think it’s an actual fear-the-conker thing, but maybe a to-us-undetectible odour that drives them away?

Little e and I brought a few conkers home and played with them in the studio, where she tried enthusiastically to jam them all in her mouth at once, which I did not allow. Can you imagine if we all still explored the world with our mouths? There must be a Saturday Night Live skit about that somewhere…

What games are you introducing B1 to that you played as a child?



In: From Ria, Kids and Parenting

A Sydney Sunday 2

October 15, 2012

Well, another blue-sky day in Southern hemisphere paradise; thought I’d tell you all about it so you can book your plane tickets. Oooh, I know, the cheek of me! You started it, posting photos with Fall leaves and making me nostalgic for North American Thanksgiving (pout, pout) Over on this side of the globe we started the day with this:

I know! You’ve never seen a more perfect avocado, right? It’s art, for goodness’ sake. Not a single blemish or brown spot; nothing like the avocados I had growing up in New Zealand. This is the Cinderella of avocados and I’m used to very, very ugly stepsisters. So, with an inappropriate amount of rapture, I sliced it on to toast and dusted it with salt and black pepper.

Next stop was the Concord Carnival, a cousin of Ferrogosto and just a short drive away. Majors Bay Road, the main street was closed off to traffic and transformed into a festival of flags, stalls, food stands, magicians and stage acts. I stacked my babes into the Phil n Ted’s, bunk style, and made a bee-line for the food. Of course. There were cannoli, there were “chips on a stick”…

And then there was a gozleme stand! Hooray! Vindicated for bypassing the last one I stumbled across at Orange Grove market I chose a spinach, mushroom and cheese number. Why? Well, it seemed the most authentic but truth be told I have no idea! They had ‘cinnamon & sugar’ on the menu, which was hard to avoid (because my tooth is irreperably sweet, sigh) but I stuck with my choice. Then I watched them roll out the dough, pile on the freshly chopped spinach and mushrooms and slap it out on to the hot plate with a generous dousing of oil.

I drooled as other people got their orders before me and tried to distract B1 from begging for yet another balloon by pointing out the different steps of cooking gozleme. Her look said “Mama, I’m two and a half, I have no interest, puh-lease. Go blog about it.” B1, not yet talking or producing acerbic expressions, gave me a reassuring gummy grin. Bless her.

Served up with a thick wedge of lemon I was suitably impressed by The Gozleme. It’s somewhere between a Parisian crepe, chewy damper bread and…something else I cannot place. The outside is charred, slick with oil and salty, the inside is soft and chewy, the fillings fresh and not over cooked. It’s a little sweet too, perhaps that’s what reminded me of damper bread? Adding the lemon took it over the edge – perfection. I’ll be ordering it again and next time I’ll be getting one savoury and one sweet. So there.

Home time, post gozleme; babes and Mama exhausted. Of course I had to pick up a little something food related for later. Three chutneys by Posh Nosh (beetroot, spicy tomato, apple, sultana & cranberry). Lucky I have a stash of aged cheddar in the fridge just begging to be accompanied. Baths, books, negotiations with B1 over just about everything, nappy changes, and now, finally, it’s just me, a warm night, my cheese and my chutneys.

Hope your Sunday was just as lovely. I’ll stop pouting about your pretty Fall now. HUGS, Hannah x

In: Food, From Hannah, Kids and Parenting

Sweet Little Something 1

October 12, 2012

An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments. Have a great weekend!

From Hannah:

From Ria:

In: Sweet Little Something

This Old House 1

October 10, 2012

Well, inspiration is clearly contagious. I LOVED the little tour of your new place! The sight of your couches, which I sat set eyes (and bum) on in Kitsilano, made me very nostalgic, and your description of work space and family memories made me spring into action with my camera and find some everyday beauty around this old house of ours. Don’t you just love how creativity is its own engine? I recently watched this TED talk with my students about the idea that nothing we do creatively is original. Thanks for the idea-worth-stealing!

I don’t know about you, but I love doors.  Gates, windows, fences, but old doors especially. Our house is over a hundred years old so we have some antique bits and pieces. One thing we have a-plenty is doors. Like, when we moved in we found five doors in a stack in the basement. The ones currently in use are mostly original and a bit warped and badly painted, but I love them.  I went first to the back door, maybe because it’s the one we use the most and it opens onto our deck and studio. Who doesn’t love morning light coming through glass?

And here is the front door with the World’s Tiniest Closet beside it. This door sticks and has to be closed just so for it stay closed, but I remind myself that’s part of living in an old house. Ever since I started writing (way back in the early grades, when poems all rhymed and stories were told by animals), I’ve been fascinated by the character that old places bring to fiction. Every trip to Europe as a kid further solidified my love of old things. I ended up being a bit of a new-places-snob in my early twenties, though since then I’ve found a balance. But don’t you love the way a place imparts its history and age and flavour on the people who live in it? Maybe that’s where the urge to travel comes from for me.  Or why I very often write about places I’ve been to but don’t live in.

Next on the tour: the piano window. I have no idea why it’s called this. Someone who knew our house years ago called it that and I took it to mean they knew something I didn’t about old windows. Plus, I like the name. It’s old-sounding.

It’s the only original window glass in our house–the imperfections make the scenery outside waver charmingly. That’s part of DH’s collection of ceramics from his art school days in front.

And speaking of DH…you’ll remember how important this little room is. The Coffee Lab is hopefully going to get a facelift (and tummy tuck) over the winter, but front and centre will always be Our Lady of Coffee, the Ventrano. You might remember this little snap shot I posted recently, which I’m sure you know is not my handiwork, given that I don’t drink coffee. DH hones his latte art skills in the Coffee Lab every morning and pretty soon Little e will be entering her apprenticeship beside him…

Speaking of Little e, before she becomes the world’s shortest barista, I think she’s considering a hobby in shoe rearranging.

Finally, in my search for homegrown happiness, I came outside to the studio, where we’ve had parties and book launches and play dates and evening-tea-and-cake chats. DH is a little more fastidious about cleaning up the toys in here, but I liked the look of the happy chaos, so I just took the photo. Thanks for the continued inspiration, my friend. Let’s keep in coming!



In: From Ria, Kids and Parenting, Writing