2 November, 2008

I bought some gumboots. I’ve not owned gumboots since I was 6…

But I saw these at PipDuck‘s Floriade stall, and was smitten.

I didn’t buy them then and there. I waited a couple of days to think about it. They weren’t exactly cheap, and I wasn’t aware that I needed gumboots until I saw them!

They’re Tamara Henriques, from the Antique Prints range.

Inspired by an antique toile found in a wallpaper museum in France, this traditional pattern is truly a boot of beauty. A classic rococo print with a contrast gingham trim.

What do you think? I was also quite taken with PipDuck’s Noisette boots.

I’ve been wearing them in the garden, and I’m most pleased with the result! Much less soil and woodchip in my shoes, and my calves aren’t sprayed by the hose. (I even got to wear them out to the letterbox during a storm a little while ago!)

I did some pruning this morning, using the secateurs DrK brought me back from his recent European trip.  (My boyfriend went to France, Belgium and England, and all I got were these lousy lovely secateurs…  And some Versace perfume. From the Duty Free shop.)

They are pretty stylish secateurs – and they cut really well (much better than the el-cheapos I bought myself).  They came from the Victoria and Albert museum; the pattern is ‘Anemone’ design, from a 1897 a wallpaper. There are other pieces in the set, and they’re available online from Amazon.


dirt under my nails

3 October, 2008

DrK and I moved into our home the weekend after Christmas, last year.

Summer was deadly hot in the yard. There was absolutely no shade, and the black pavers and woodchip did little to cool things down.

I planted a few veggies near the back door over summer, just to see how they’d go. I’ve since decided that wasn’t the best place for them, but figure they can stay there for a little while longer.It’s springtime now, and DrK went gallivanting around the Western Front for two weeks, so I decided to get busy in the yard!

As you can see in the pic, our back fence isn’t straight – perfect for a raised garden bed! (Thanks to mum for snapping the uber-flattering photo…)

I cut the sleeper to size, dug a shallow trench then hammered in 3 star-pickets on the garden side before nailing them to the sleeper. There was lots of checking levels with the spirit level and measuring distances from the back wall.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

In the middle is a Manchurian Pear. They get beautiful white blossoms in early spring (we’ve missed them this year, but I am very much looking forward to seeing them next year!) and flame orange leaves in the autumn.

I also planted some Australian native violets, which will act as ground cover, and some slightly taller yellow Aquilegia to either side of the pear.

A couple of days later, I picked up a crimson Aquilegia, which I’ve put in behind the pear.


12 September, 2008

I was looking on etsy for a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ postcard that DrK could hang in his office.

I found said postcards, but also stumbled across HomeStudio.

HomeStudio is the Etsy location for art and creativity of Mark and Stefani, husband and wife.

He is an artist and furniture designer. She is a jewelry designer and entrepreneur. They live in southern California with their two young daughters.

“We began selling Scrabble Tile Pendants in early May, 2008. They are a collective effort. WE enjoy making them together for YOU and hope YOU share them with friends and family.”

I bought two of their tiles (and due to a great deal they had at the time, was able to pick a 3rd for free… They currently have free shipping): Keep Calm, and a Yoda quote.

They’re lovely little pendants. Very light (unbelievably light… it’s been a while since I played scrabble!). On the back of the pendant you can see which letter the original scrabble tile was.  Cute!

There are a range of styles available – words/phrases, birds, animals, flowers, patterns, and ‘quirky’ or ‘cool’.

I’ve been wearing them to school this week, on a black leather strap.

I was standing, talking to a year 9 class yesterday, as they waited to go into the computer room. Suddenly one of them said “Do or do not? What does that mean?” Another kid read the rest of my pendant (from a metre away or more). They were all thoroughly confused. One correctly guessed that it was a movie quote, but I refused to tell them which movie it was from, or who said it. Towards the end of the lesson I got called up to fix a computer problem.  “It’s Yoda!” yelled one of the kids from the back of the room. “We looked it up!”

Pretty, and educational, too!

My ‘free’ pendant was Bird on a Wire.

As I mentioned earlier, HomeStudio is currently offering free shipping — internationally. You’ve got to love that!


11 August, 2008

I hung my William Dobell print for the Orient Line. My maternal grandparents (as well as DrK’s grandparents) came out from Scotland on an Orient Line ship, though twelve years or so after this advertisement was first used. I’ve picked up a few Orient Line pieces in the last couple of years – some original 1920s magazine adverts, and some china.

This print is hanging in our hallway just outside our guest room, and is visible from the dining ‘room’. I figured narrow print, narrow wall.

Eventually, I think I’ll get it framed, but I like it as is for now.

I used Magnart to hang it.

I saw the Magnart system on Dooce a little while ago, and managed to track them down in Canberra at The Framing Store.

I like that they don’t distract from the print. They’re sturdy, but non-permanent.

Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Baked Lamb Shanks

3 August, 2008

Incredible is right!

This is the third time I’ve cooked this dish, and it just keeps getting better. I’m especially proud of the fact that I don’t need to buy herbs for it – I have rosemary, sage and thyme growing in my garden!

It’s from Cook with Jamie. Mum has some of Jamie Oliver’s earlier books and I’ve made a few recipes from them, but Cook is a back-to-basics kind of recipe book. Jamie writes about which cut of meat is best for which purpose, and how to cut your veggies like a pro. I suppose it’s true to Jamie Oliver’s style – good food, done simply.

serves 4

6 sprigs of rosemary
150g/5.5oz cold butter
15 fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalk
sea salt and ground black pepper
4 lamb shanks, French-trimmed
12 cloves of garlic
2 large carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 leek, washed, halved and finely sliced
olive oil
2 wineglasses of white wine

Heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

Wiz the butter, leaves of 2 sprigs of rosemary, thyme and most of the sage in a food processor, then add some salt and pepper.

Use a knife (and an exploratory finger) to create a hole – then expand this to a ‘pocket’ – in the base of each lamb shank. Use said exploratory finger to stuff the herb butter into the pockets you’ve made. (I generally find I have a little butter left over – I rub this over the base and outside of the shank.)

Tear 4 long (arm length – or more, if you’re like me and only have little arms) strips of alfoil (tinfoil) and fold each in half. Split the carrot, leek, onion and garlic evenly to form a pile in the middle of each piece of alfoil. Rub the shanks with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper before placing each shank on top of a pile of veggies. Add a sprig of rosemary and a couple of leaves of sage to each, then pull up the sides of the foil. Have a helper add a good glug of white wine to each parcel (I lack the dexterity to do this step on my own; you may fare better than I), then seal the foil as best you can around the bone.

Place the shanks in a roasting dish, bones sticking up, and then into the oven for 2.5 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes. Jamie recommends a side of steamed greens, but I’ve never included those – we’ve always had enough to eat without more vegetables.

Today it took me about 30mins from picking the herbs to putting the dish into the oven. This is down from about an hour, the first time I made it. It’s great to be able to get it in the oven, then forget about it for two and a half hours.