Monday, 19 March 2018

The Big 60

I am using this milestone to justify not posting for awhile. No, I haven’t found it a challenge or been stressed out by turning sixty but more that the celebrations have been more like a ‘birth week’ than a birthday. Lucky me!

This is the painting that was commissioned for my birthday. It is by Pamela Irving. I love cats, big bold paintings and the colours are purrfect in our family room. You can read more about Pamela here.

Of course the wisdom in this book from a friend has helped.

My birthday coincided with hanging an exhibition (more about this in another post) and lunch came from the nearest shop. Not something I have often but there is something deliciously decadent about getting take away fish and chips.

No one big event buts lots of  smaller get togethers to celebrate. There was lots of coffee

Some fabulous Indian cooked by my friend Lariane

My favourite pizza

This cake from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

I was embarrassed by the many thoughtful gifts and generosity of my family and friends.
The tone was set by my lovely husband Ray. He very cleverly decided to spread the fun over the week leading up to the big day with a small gift that would just randomly appear on the kitchen bench. It was just so much fun that I had to share it. 

An almond croissant for morning tea (and from my fave bakery)

This magazine for some culinary inspiration

Some new succulents for my collection

A book for bedside reading

A gorgeous and fragrant soap, I love these soaps.

Some flowers. Yellow flowers are my favourite and I like old fashioned flowers such as carnations although they are not fashionable any more.

A voucher 

And cash to match my age.

 Turning 60 was good fun!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

More Cyanotype Printing

These are from the second session. This time it was all about toning the prints. Some very interesting effects created by immersing in a variety of toning baths. I used some of the images from the last class as well feather stencils made from light card. This is a selection of the prints. 

This image of bees was from a macro photo taken by my friend Bron. 

This one toned in tannin and using the feather stencils

Also in tannin but not for as long, the Cyanotype solution applied more randomly and the feathers shifted slightly during the developing process.

This image was toned  in tannin.

These toned in a strong tea solution.

Peroxide bath.

A quick dip into tricleanium and then the tannin bath.

Monday, 26 February 2018

In a Pickle

These only get made when my friend Helena arrives with a bag of her smallish and delicious home grown cucumbers. Today was one such day,  pickled within hours of being picked. They are ready to eat after one day and keep for months. I like them on crusty bread and butter, in sandwiches, with cream cheese and in burgers. A few tablespoons, chopped and mixed into potato salad is also delicious.

It is important to have thinly sliced cucumbers

Salting the mixture draws the moisture out of the cucumbers

The pickling mixture

The cucumber mixture is added to the pickling mixture

Then cooked for about ten minutes until the cucumber turns translucent 

The cucumber pickle is cooled and then packed into sterilised jars.

Pickled Cucumbers
(Bread and Butter Pickles)
Part 1
1 kg small green cucumbers
4 small brown onions (250g)
2 tablespoons salt
Part 2
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 ½ tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds or fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

 Part 1
Wash cucumbers and remove ends. Thinly slice cucumbers on a mandolin or use a food processor.
Peel onions and cut in half and thinly slice to form half circles. Thinly slice cucumbers on a mandolin or use a food processor.
Place cucumbers and onions in a non reactive bowl (glass/plastic/stainless steel). Add salt and enough water to just cover the cucumber mixture. Leave for at least two hours or over night and then drain.
Part 2
Place vinegar, sugar and spices in a pan large enough to hold the cucumber mixture. Bring the vinegar mixture to the boil, stir and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the cucumber mixture and cook gently for 10 -15 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all the cucumbers are evenly cooked in the pickling mixture. The green will turn more olive and the flesh will become more translucent.
Cool until lukewarm and pack the cucumbers into warm, sterilised jars. Pour any liquid over to fill jars but not overflowing.

Seal jars when the mixture is cold. 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Month That Was

As a former teacher, The Australia Day Long Weekend has always marked the end of the summer holidays (but unfortunately not Summer) and despite retiring the habit has stuck. Like many of you I find the lead up to Christmas a hectic time and it seems that each year it becomes more so. Consequently January has been a time to relax and regroup. It is not that I have been doing nothing but more going about things a little more slowly. So here is a snapshot of the the month that was...

In the garden. The colours of Summer, this year not as much red in the garden but plenty of yellow and orange.

An old favourite, this dahlia seems to flower for ages. 

At home with family. The joy of spending time with Oscar and introducing him to my passion.

Out and about.  My daily walk around the neighbourhood or around Lake Wendouree on my trip away.

Creative moments. Lots of altered papers for book making. Some stitching and 

a trip to Fibre Arts for a workshop with Lorie McCown which I wrote about in more detail in the previous post.

Happy times. A wedding for a long standing family friend. 

Sad times. A farewell to my Aunty Rey who sadly lost her long battle with illness. 

Some dining out. Pizza at El Toro, my go to quick meal when I do not want to cook.

A trip to a new vegan restaurant, Face-Plant This

A fun night at the Lorne Hotel. A pop up restaurant featuring Geoff Lindsay’s Crab Club.

Scaled back cooking, simple food. I didn’t give up cooking altogether, however, we worked our way through the casseroles, curries and other foods stashed away. Lots of guests but minimal effort meals and very little baking or dessert making.

The Australia Day BBQ lamb lunch served in a wrap

Easy cooked breakfasts,

Or something healthier 

Gnocchi from the freezer


Crumpets, these have become very popular.

And Stir fry, lots of these with steamed rice or noodles.

Ginger Beef with Broccolini and Beans
500 g thinly sliced steak
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small knob of ginger grated(1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup stock
1 teaspoon sesame oil


2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to paste with a tablespoon of water

1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
250 g green beans
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute
1 bunch broccolini,
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute
1 large chilli, thinly sliced
½ bunch spring onions, thinly sliced

Combine beef, garlic, ginger, soy in a bowl and marinate. I like to refrigerate it overnight.
Heat pan/wok until very hot, add oil and then beef. Toss/stir for a minute or two until brown and nearly cooked. Remove to a clean bowl.
Add onions to hot pan, toss around and allow to cook a little then add chilli. Return beef to pan, add stock, bring the stir fry to the boil. Add beans and broccoli and toss together. Add the sesame oil and then spring onions.
To thicken sauce
Stir in cornflour paste and allow mixture to boil.