Friday, 31 August 2012


So yesterday afternoon, inspired by the gorgeous blog Hugo & Elsa I attempted Welsh Cakes for after school tea. It's true, as promised, they were deadset easy to make. My problems arose when I was sidetracked with homework and accidentally burnt the bottoms of the first batch in the frying pan. A thick black smoke pervaded the entire house. Happily, the next lot worked. Initially I didn't follow the recipe and left off sprinkling them with sugar. Mistake. With a scant dusting of sugar they were elevated into the realms of warm doughnut territory yet were even better as they were studded with dried fruit and lemon peel. They were delicious. Make them.

Then, smelling distinctly of burnt Welsh Cakes, I left my house at 5.15pm, yes in the middle of feeding frenzy mayhem, and went out. My husband came home early and cooked the children's dinner. I went to town to Fullers Bookshop's launch of The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book:

There was wine and food and adult conversation......about food. And a rendition by Maria Lurighi of Barbara Streisand's 'People who need people' with the words changed to be about people who write cookbooks.

This is the book that you want if you want to be able to make everything from scratch, cultured butter, feta cheese, cured bacon and sausages etc. I know what I'm going to be making on the weekend......clotted cream. Or do you think it really should be something that you reserve for only eating in Cornwall, when you are tucking into a Cornish Cream Tea?  Might try anyway.

Let's face it, these three know what they are talking about as Matthew Evans and Ross O'Meara make incredibly good bacon which they sell at their shop A Common Ground and various markets around the Hobart traps and Nick Haddow makes the amazing Bruny Island Cheese. If you don't trust me about the cheese, we sent a selection of it to friends in France (yes, I'm serious) and even they were impressed.

Reading this book has caused me again to want to become self our garden in the middle of town. Once upon a time, when I had less children, I was self sufficient in eggs, lemons and lettuce. I wanted a cow. My husband said no. The chooks that we had rescued from a battery farm were given away when we went to France and haven't been replaced. I look after four children, one husband, two decrepit beagles and approximately a thousand worms yet I long for more chickens.....and a cow.

I took a turn around my garden. I'm still self sufficient in lemons:

And cumquats:

And fingers crossed, this year in quinces, too. Surprisingly, after a long winter of neglect, my vegetable patch isn't looking too bad:

Over winter it has been colonised by self seeded coriander and this strange greeny, purple lettuce like plant which has a crunchy, peppery taste:

I think it too self seeded after a punnet of asian greens bolted to seed. Does anyone out there happen know what it is? Of course, the silver beet that I planted is doing nothing, and I couldn't find any trace of the rhubarb. Never mind, as I was somewhat consoled to discover that I have quite a good crop of potatoes coming on:

In amongst the weeds. I also discovered the first artichokes of the season:

Which I usually pick as flowers:

Although I see in my new book that I could turn them into preserved artichokes and keep them in a jar in my pantry. I'm tempted.


PS So tonight I will be venturing out and about in the beaded Ventilo.....unless I get a last minute swing towards one of the other choices. Thanks so much to Heidi for pointing out the perils of wearing the see through top to a school do! Heaven forbid.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Help! Friday night is the cocktail party at my daughter's school and I'm struggling with what to wear. As Polly says to Fanny in Love in A Cold Climate 'Do you think about dresses and hats all the time, even in church? I do too'. Me those brief moments when I'm not thinking about who needs to pack what into their school bag, the precise timing of school pick ups and after school activities and of course the eternal what's for dinner.....etc etc etc. And maybe not in church.

So here are the choices.

1. The By Malene Birger ostrich feather skirt:

My immediate inclination is to dig this out of the wardrobe again for yet ANOTHER wear.....although so far this year it has already had outings to an 18th:

To the Glover Prize opening:

and to my friend's birthday:

Yet I'm still trying to convince myself that I could possibly get away with it just one more time as Friday night will be a totally different audience. And after all, two of the outings were in Launceston.....which is more than 200kms away in the north of the state. Hmm.

Then there's the predicament of what to wear with it? Maybe the transparent black Wheels and Dollbaby shirt and the fishnet tights might be a bit too much? Fine for a naughty 40th but on this occasion do I really want the headmistress to see my bra?  Although I could always wear a jacket.....

2. The By Malene Birger bronze strapless dress:

It too has recently been out and about in Hobart:

and was exposed in the local paper:

......yet you can't really  see the dress. The main problem is that I wore the exact same outfit to the mother's the same daughter's school. Again, it was accessorised with a black skivvy, black jeans and black jacket. So, I'm thinking that if the weather is warmer I could ditch the jeans and the skivvy which would make the dress unrecognisable. I'd have to keep the jacket....because it's not quite strapless weather down here just yet....honestly, it was snowing last weekend.

3. And then there's the sentimental choice. The Armand Ventilo beaded dress:

This was my birthday present the year that I turned Paris. Sigh. It was hanging in the shop window just around the corner from our apartment. It was love at first sight. Most days we'd walk past and I'd draw my husband and children's attention to the fact that THIS was what I would like for my birthday. The problem was that in Paris they put the prices in the shop window and back then our exchange rate was dismal. One day Mimi and I ventured inside and tried the dress on. The shop assistant told us that I looked 'comme une princesse'....of course Mimi told her father who then had no choice other than to buy the dress. Here I am wearing it, on my birthday, in the Place Vendome:

After we had eaten this for breakfast, washed down with champagne:

And before we went to Le Grand Vefour for lunch. We had organised the babysitter months before....our regular babysitter, who lived just around the corner from us in Hobart, was conveniently going to be on her gap year and in Paris at the same time. Serendipity. Although in the days leading up to our reservation she wasn't answering her phone or emails. Panic.....even though we had literally bumped into her on the Rialto Bridge in Venice just weeks before and reminded her. Luckily she materialised and we swanned off to a sublime lunch:

I sat in the seat with the Josephine de Beauharnais plaque. She, of course, once had a dress made out of real rose petals. I don't. I have to make do with what's in the wardrobe, so do I go with the feathers, the sequins or the beads?


Tuesday, 28 August 2012


This morning it was a little bit sunny here in Hobart so I put on last summer's $20 leopard print espadrilles and my purple J Brand jeans. Here I am standing on the zebra skin rug:

It seems like in the last five minutes, my baby has moved up to the biggest size of Nature Babycare nappies. So fast. There's no denying that when you have children you can see time passing right before your very eyes. At the speed of light. I've tried pretending that it isn't happening.....yet my eldest daughter can fit into my shoes.

This was the view from my shopping trolley last week:

And this was the same view this time last year:

As Stevie Nicks sings in Fleetwood Mac's song 'Landslide' '........Children get older/I'm getting older too'........and I'm nearly forty one.....already. My age is a dead giveaway by my embarrassing taste in music.

Anyway, all of my anti ageing hopes for the future are vested in Bikram Yoga, my Clarisonic and vegetables. Fingers crossed they produce nothing short of miraculous results. Although in the last couple of weeks I've had cause to question doing Bikram Yoga 5-6 times a week in a room artificially heated to 40 degrees. It may have caused all of those tiny spider veins on my legs exacerbated by pregnancy to astonishingly vanish yet it is also responsible for giving me rosacea. From time to time the heat brings on a nasty red rash on my face which is difficult to shift.

Luckily, we have a fantastic health food shop just around the corner:

So I visit it often. So often that the staff there can identify all of my children by name. Curiously enough today I came away with dishwashing liquid, organic oats and......memory booster loose leaf tea. A spontaneous purchase. It says on the packet 3-4 cups a day. I hope that it works too.


Friday, 24 August 2012


Yesterday, I went to the hairdresser. Oh the luxury of two hours where magazine consumption is de rigueur. And where they bring you cups of tea. The bliss. Sitting in the salon in Hobart, I started reminiscing about having my hair done in France. Because, can you believe that for colouring hair,  while Australian hairdresser's favourite kitchen roll is aluminium foil, French hairdresser's use cling wrap instead. Strange but true.

Over the eight months that we were in France I only went  to the hairdresser's twice. Initially, because I was too terrified that my French wouldn't be up to not only making the appointment but then, once I was in, ensuring that I didn't accidentally ask for short, brown or curly hair which in all honesty just doesn't suit me. Luckily, I made friends with Nicole who conveniently had a very similar hair do to me - blonde highlights, longish with straight layers. She facilitated the whole thing with her hairdresser in Beziers and it was the best hair I've EVER had. Disaster averted. Later on, after I had given birth in French, I deemed myself linguistically ready for anything.....even a cut and colour at a swanky Parisian salon under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower where I would have to negotiate the whole show myself. Mercifully, it worked.

So, back to the magazines. Flicking through the August issue of 'Harper's Bazaar' I was reassured that puffer's really are in fashion. See, there was a whole page dedicated to how to wear them:

Admittedly, not the stock standard black Kathmadu puffer sported by most Hobartians and that I too have in my wardrobe, yet surely the same rules apply? I wonder what mine would look like teamed with my Stuart Weitzman black patent leather wedges. Or do I need to shell out the best part of $6,000 for the Burberry Prorsum puffer to carry this look off? Might have to workshop the Kathmandu. One of the founder's of Kathmandu calls Tasmania home and Wikipedia says that she is the fourth richest woman in Australia......I wonder if she has the Burberry puffer?

The same magazine also had a double page spread showing fabulous things do while spending a weekend in an Australian capital city. And lo and behold, Hobart was included:

Because, Hobart now has MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art.....built by ultra eccentric Hobartian, David Walsh, who loves art and is very clever at gambling and winning mind-blowing amounts of money. Enough to fund both the art and the museum.....reputedly $180 million dollars worth. But now the Australian Tax Office is on to him...they've changed the rules around gambling profits so David owes them $37 million. It really is worth the trip to Hobart to see MONA....which, is free admission if you can produce a Tasmanian Drivers Licence (or a second head, so they say) and $20 for everybody else.

Coincidentally, we went on a family outing to MONA, on Sunday. My husband and our eldest son rode their bikes down our driveway and all the way there and back....40 odd kilometres:

The rest of us went in the car. The children insisted on seeing their favourite artworks. Of course the boys are enamoured with Wim Delvoye's 'Cloaca'....a digestive machine which is regularly fed and ultimately produces, yes, you guessed it.....poo:

(Source: The Mercury Online)

 and Erwin Wurm's 'The Fat Porshe':

(Source: The Mercury Online)

The girls prefer the soundproofed room where TV screens show 30 fans singing Madonna's 'Immaculate Collection' album all at the same time.....and with abandon:

However, this time we really went to see the new exhibition 'The Theatre of the World' curated by a Frenchman using David's collection and various bits and pieces from the TMAG. Truly, could you ever believe that in Hobart you would ever see a Picasso and a Damien Hirst in the same place at the same time. It is amazing. Put it on the list and go to MONA.

And of course, no article about Hobart these days is complete without a mention of Garagistes and quite rightly as it really is a fabulous food experience. I can't believe that we haven't been there since January.....might have to put it back on our list.

So when you're finished with art and food, this article suggests that you should spend the night at the beautiful Islington Hotel. I have daydreamed of staying there.......escaping for a night, away from the rigours of domesticity, to the Islington. Yet it's just too close to home.....let's face it, it wouldn't be quite the same experience if the children wandered up the road and materialised at the door. So escape, for us has to be further afield. And I'm liking the suggestion of the Freycinet Peninsula.....husband if you happen to be reading this, let's go.


Saturday, 18 August 2012


So, of course I made the fatal mistake after writing my last post and found Rupert Holmes' 'Escape' otherwise known as the 'Pina Colada' song, stuck in my head. For two days now it has been my constant accompaniment.....on the yoga mat, in the car doing the school run, cooking dinner, in bed last thing at night......EVERYWHERE....there has been no escape. Looking on the bright side, mercifully, it's not something by the Wiggles. My children are sick of hearing me sing it out loud '.....I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne.....' If somehow you don't remember the song or the lyrics, here they are.....and Happy Christmas, thank me later! 

So, I've realised that as much as I love this song, I actually do have a few problems with some of the lyrics.

Let's start with the beginning of the chorus......'If you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain'. I'm sure that I have had a Pina Colada, yet I can't pinpoint exactly when. Let's face it, Hobart really doesn't have the climate for Pina Colada drinking, it's far too it must have been somewhere warm, yet usually when we go on hols to exotic climes we are too busy drinking our duty free quota of Bombay Sapphire and tonic. And on the odd occasions when I have found myself on a tropical island, I try to make a pact with myself and drink drinks by the pool out of a coconut. However, when wearing a bikini, I'm not inclined to go for something laced with coconut cream. So, I'm confident that regardless of not being a big Pina Colada drinker in the past, I would like Pina Colada's......yet getting caught in the rain is another story all together.....rain makes my hair go curly and that is NOT a good look.

Then we move into 'If you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain'. Again, more fundamental problems here as I am SO into far this week I've been on the mat five times with possibly another turn tomorrow. And I'm hoping that I still have maybe, just possibly, half a brain.

Followed by 'If you like making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape'. Where to go with this....I have four children....yet midnight is a bit too late for me, especially when I have to get up so early in the morning, EVERY morning. Enough said. Where, I wonder, are the dunes on the cape? Must be somewhere conducive to this kind of behaviour....again, it's too cold in Hobart, where the wind blows directly from Antarctica. Even at night in summer, it is too cold to venture outside without at least a cardie.

And finally, 'I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne'. Again, more issues. I'm afraid that I am into health food. We have the best health food shop around the corner in the village and I venture there a couple of times a week....usually to ask about such burning issues as whether vitamin B helps prevent a hangover or if it's true that Flaxseed Oil boosts your metabolism. Every day I drink this:

However, on weekends I try to drink champagne....except that the price is a tad prohibitive. I long to be in France where you can buy it at the supermarket for AUD$30....sigh. Of course I couldn't take ultimate advantage last time I was there as I was pregnant and the French have a zero tolerance to drinking during pregnancy. Even champagne. Yet, I cling to happy memories of being in France ten years ago and making a pilgrimage to Champagne...Moet, Veuve Cliquot, Laurent Perrier.....where non vintage was retailing for around AUD$20. We were like children in a lolly shop. It wasn't until on the plane home that we started to panic that we were going to have to leave it all at Australian Customs as the import duty would be too expensive. Somehow, the baby in the pram got us through. Surely it's a good thing to be into health food.....and champagne?

Anyway, seeing it's Saturday night, and before I totally wind up on the subject of 70's disco music, I thought that I'd share one more song and confession......I still nurse the fantasy of donning a strapless tiger print frock and doing the Jerry Hall cameo in the 'Lets Stick Together' clip:

Don't you? Enjoy what's left of the weekend!


Thursday, 16 August 2012


Yesterday, was another one of those mornings. Despite my utter dedication to my washing, and I kid you not, I recently made the washing machine smoke....admittedly rinsing yoga child couldn't find a shirt and another shorts. My husband's stress levels went up and names were called in the heat of the moment. Then suddenly the house was empty and I was left in the kitchen with messy hair, in my bathrobe doing the washing up and feeding the baby porridge. Then it was time for Bikram Yoga. Don't think this was a freak one off occurrence, this is EVERY weekday morning in our house.

Later.....while I was pegging out the washing my husband sent me a sms 'Does "my baby" and "my washerwoman" want to have lunch?'. My instant reaction was to work out what I could rustle together to feed him before he materialised in the kitchen. But no, he meant lunch as in where somebody else does the cooking.....and a glass of wine.

Conveniently, Flathead Fish Cafe is just around the I rang ahead and booked the highchair. Because we needed it. This is "my baby":

They have a $21 two course lunch menu. I had the Thai fishcakes:

And a fish pie:

Did I mention that there was wine? It was all delicious in the way that food cooked by somebody else always is.

After lunch, and back at it, in between picking the boys up.....same 2.30pm and the other 3.30pm, I went to the shop for groceries. I'm ashamed to admit that recently I have really started enjoying songs they dredge up and play at the shop....'If you like Pina Coladas, getting caught in the rain....' and then yesterday 'My baby takes the morning train.....'. While I was singing along emptying the basket (to my four year old's utter embarrassment) it took me right back to the very early 1980's and singing those very same lyrics into my hairbrush at boarding the age of about eleven. Who would have thought that those lyrics would one day echo my reality....except for the bit about the four children and all of that washing and cooking etc? Time doesn't really go slowly by. Oh, and we don't have commuter trains in Hobart. Maybe I need to ditch the bathrobe and find a turquoise pantsuit instead.


Monday, 13 August 2012


Yesterday was my husband's birthday. Celebrations began at 8am when we all headed down to the river to watch him indulge in some of his favourite behaviour:

It was a race. He came second......there may have only been two boats.

We took him home and gave him lunch. This is what I did with the Mount Gnomon Farm organic free range pork chops:

I turned them in to 'Pork Chops with a Mustard Sauce'.

If you are tempted, then all you do is dust thickly cut pork chops with flour and brown them in a frying pan. Remember, assuage your conscience by only using organic free range know my thoughts on this. Then, in a big, deep pan with a lid, you fry some free range bacon and when crispy add the chops and a good glug of white wine.....remember you have to cook with wine that you are prepared to drink. Let the wine bubble and then add a big bouquet garni......I use whatever's good herb wise in my garden and yesterday it was bay leaves, rosemary, sage and parsley. Then add enough chicken stock to almost cover. Bring it all up to simmering point, put on the lid and put into the oven heated to175 degrees and leave it there for an hour and a quarter. At this point you can stop and leave it to finish off later, in which case you would just reheat it and start again from this point. Take the chops out and put them on a plate, cover in foil and keep warm while you reduce the liquid that's left in the pan. When it's a nice, sauce like consistency add a couple of big dollops of creme fraiche and let it bubble. Then finish off by adding Dijon mustard to taste......I'm heavy handed and use about 2 tablespoons and a big handful of chopped parsley. Just make sure it doesn't come to the boil again or it will separate and that would be bad.

Et voila:

It was delicious. We drank champagne....the children lemonade. I stood on a stool and got down the Wedgwood dinner set that was a wedding present and the Laguiole cutlery......knowing that later I would have to spend an hour at the sink washing it all by hand.

I cheated and bought a Jean Pascal Tasma Cake:

Layers of biscuit, chocolate cake, custard and chocolate mousse with a praline crunch in there as well......all covered with a gleaming chocolate ganache. If you live in Hobart and have never tried a Tasma cake, I recommend that you give Jean Pascal a call and order one.

The children had made peanut butter cupcakes......early on Saturday morning, so that the smell had dissipated well before one of their friends, with a serious nut allergy, came over to play:

The beagles know who is an easy target. 

I love birthday''s mine next.


Friday, 10 August 2012


This morning, before I'd even opened my eyes, I was wondering if anyone would notice if I did the school drop off in my bathrobe and ugg boots. My husband has been in Melbourne, so for two mornings in a row I have shouldered the burden of baking biscuits, preparing lunches, cooking breakfast (porridge with berries for three and a boiled egg with fruit salad for the other), making sure they eat said breakfast, overseeing school uniforms, doing hair and driving them to school, singlehandedly. Usually, we job share and I do all of the above except the getting them dressed part and my husband drops them at their respective schools en route to the time for me to get my first load of washing out, clean the kitchen and get me and whoever is at home, to the Bikram Yoga studio. Getting four children and myself dressed in time to leave the house at 8.15am this morning proved impossible. I was hard at it for over an hour and didn't take my eye off the prize for one minute, yet this was how we left the house:

Oops, that is the AFTER shot, taken an hour later, when were finally ready to brave a trip to the butcher and the Bikram Yoga for me today due to the chicken pox. Anyway, prepare yourselves, as here comes the BEFORE shot:

Messy. I had the brainwave just before leaving the house, that if I donned my puffa jacket over the top of my bathrobe then anybody unfortunate enough to see me driving my car, five minutes down the road, would never even guess the true state of my dishevelment. As I have mentioned before, puffa's are an essential piece of clothing in Hobart, they are de rigueur on the school run. And today I wore mine.....with my bathrobe and my ugg boots....luckily I didn't have to get out of the car. I hope my husband doesn't read this.

When we got to the butcher, he of course, made comment that I hadn't been in his shop for some time. I told him that we had been on a self inflicted vegetarian, tee totalling challenge. He was surprised.....especially as he used to play rugby union with my husband and I don't think they understood the meaning of the words 'teetotalling' or 'vegetarian' way back then except as a tease. However, he was somewhat consoled after I paid him $65 for 6 thickly cut, free range, Wessex Saddleback pork chops from Mount Gnomon Farm. Expensive, yet that is what it cost. When you consider that these animals were ethically raised with minimal cost to the environment, it doesn't seem so expensive, really. And, let's face it, it will probably be another week or so before I am back at the butcher.

For some time, we have been worried that our four year old son's future career may be already determined:

If so, then we'll know what to get him for Christmas circa 2030....a tee shirt like this one:


PS Not speaking German, I googled what it actually says on this tee shirt to check that it wasn't anything licentious or derogatory. The translation is something along the lines of 'more attractive than you think'....and this image was part of a hugely popular advertising campaign for the German Trade Union, I kid you not.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


So this morning I had to miss out on my daily fix of Bikram Yoga because one week after being vaccinated against chicken pox, my baby has it. Apparently, contracting the actual disease is sometimes a side effect of a live vaccine. Thank God it wasn't polio....or meningococcal. So, there was no time in the hot room for me today......I wonder if my children will notice when they get home from school. They encourage my yoga addiction as it makes my tolerance threshold to everything that they can throw at me much higher. Honestly, Bikram Yoga is miraculous.

On the way home from the yoga studio, I'm ashamed to admit that I went grocery shopping even though I was wearing my yoga kit and hadn't brushed my hair. I was a tad paranoid as I had had a comment left on my blog last night by someone who had recognised me in the supermarket, last week. Of course you wouldn't read about it, but I actually bumped into this VERY SAME person in a carpark lift in town, later on today. Mercifully, I had gotten changed and brushed my hair by then:

I was hanging out the first load of washing at 8.45am this morning when I received this sms.....'Nice photo in the paper'. Here's the proof:

Funny how a photo in the 'Out and About' section of the paper still makes me jittery......years and years after a group of friends and I went to a party underage. Naughtily, and I know this now that I have my own daughters, we flagrantly lied to our parents about where we were going....only to have ourselves exposed by a photo in the social pages of the paper the next morning. Damning evidence. I'm sure that nobody else misspent their youth?


Monday, 6 August 2012


Once upon a time somebody in our family must have been Irish......but it was a very, very long time ago now....way back in the mists of genealogy. No matter, latent Irishness has now surfaced and is showing up in our eldest daughter's passion for Irish Dancing.

Which is a genre of dancing that you can practice and compete in, here, in Hobart......a place as far away from Ireland as you can geographically get. Amongst all of the Niamh's, Sadbh's and Enya's (yes, I'm not kidding) I'm happy to report that our Jemima held her own, ultimately scoring two gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the Feis extravaganza yesterday:

It is, no doubt about it, quite a spectacle with all of that jigging and reeling. Her father and I have both had a go and it really is quite complicated doing all of that tricky footwork while you keep your arms still and by your side:

Over the six hours that our entire family was in the audience, our boys were very well behaved.....gone are the days when Tobes used to get told off by the lady on the microphone. Now, it's the baby who demonstrated singleminded determination by trying to make a dash for it onto the stage, over and over and over again:

Irish dancing in Hobart has become a bit more sequinned and sparkly in the last two years. Soon our own Irish Dancer is going to reach to the age where they are required to wear LOTS of makeup, a spray tan and a synthetic curly wig:

I didn't realise that as a race, the Irish people's most distinguishing features are tanned legs and curly hair? Did you?