Monday, 19 November 2012


You could set your clock by my day to day, term time routine, so repetitive is my behaviour......although if you did you'd no doubt be running just a little bit late and invariably quite bored. During the week, the first thing that I do once my pulse has recovered from the panic induced by breakfast and school run preparation, is to go and lie in the hot room on the mat and do a Bikram Yoga class. Here I must apologise for forgetting to announce the winner of the Bikram Yoga introductory pass without further ado.....drumroll please....the prize goes to my newest follower A Smaller Pond....if you can email me with your details then we can organise your first Bikram Yoga class.

In the short window of time after yoga and before picking the children up from school, time which is enhanced by the fact that this is when my almost two year old conveniently has her nap, last week I spent it gardening:

Which has been reaping rewards as look at some of the flowers I've picked:

And finally, hurrah, the peonies are flowering:

Before we moved in, our house had been uninhabited for 18 months. The garden was choked with waist high ivy so I really had no idea what was underneath. In the year that it took for me to work my way around pulling the ivy out by hand, I was rewarded by red shoots signalling herbaceous peonies. I'd hit the gardening jackpot. Subsequently, I've planted two more peonies, one of which has been in the ground for FIVE long years and has never flowered. I had been hoping that this might be the year.......however it's not to be.

Our suburb has an annual streetscape prize which is awarded to a house which has beautified it's appearance. I'm disappointed to say that we've never won despite SERIOUS house and garden tarting up efforts. I'm thinking that the very front garden has let us suffers from the tyranny of distance as it's way away in the bottom of the garden, so it tends to get overlooked. Years ago, it used to be the home to an assortment of massive, self seeded cotoneaster trees and carpeted with the dreaded ivy. Having done away with the cotoneasters and waged a constant battle against the ivy, we planted hedges of box and Magnolia 'Little Gem' which are just starting to join together.  I used to have a hedge of white lavender in the middle yet last year I replaced it with the white flower carpet rose in an attempt to fill in all of gaps and smother any weeds which dare to show their ugly heads. As there are a lot of gaps while the plants are little, there have been a lot of weeds.

I used to have a chap who helped me with the garden yet he's upped stumps and because my husband is determined not to become my new garden helper, I've been carrying the can solo. Yesterday, he let himself be talked into a bit of a gardening session and we gave the front garden a good weed:

Last month a gardener around town quoted to undertake this task for a jaw droopingly huge amount of money as he said that it would take two men a whole took the two of us two hours.....AND I trimmed the hedges.....AND planted more roses.

I may have been gardening but all I've wanted to do is sit around and read this book which I am utterly besotted with:

Paris, travel, history, food and restaurant recommendations it's all here and written in such a charming conversational style. I've just finished the chapter about Orleans and Joan of Arc and couldn't help giggling when Ina recounted how on arrival in France before she set out on the Joan of Arc trail, she booked herself into a health spa in preparation for all of the delicious food she was anticipating eating. I've been known to do a similar thing myself.....I once did the cabbage soup diet for two weeks before our first trip to Italy as I knew that I was going to be consuming an awful lot of pizza, pasta and gelati. It worked. I will be sad to finish this book yet have Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford sitting on my bedside table all set to go, so that should be some consolation.

Maybe because my head has been full of thoughts of Paris inspired by this book, on the weekend we gave up our curry fixation and I cooked a French meal instead.....although how French it is exactly is questionable as the recipe came from a Rick Stein cookbook. Anyway, it was Duck Breast in a Chocolate Sauce with pommes puree and it was delicious and easy. So, if you are tempted to cook this all you need is a duck breast per person which you brown in a pan for 2 minutes on each side and remove to a plate. Then add a roughly chopped carrot, onion and garlic to the duck fat left behind in the pan and sautee, stirring occasionally for abut 10 minutes. Then pour in almost an entire bottle of red wine.....I purposely bought a bottle of Languedoc red from our local bottleshop which is from the part of France Rick said inspired the recipe and because if was only $15.....with a couple of bay leaves and a few thyme sprigs. Let this bubble away gently for about 10 minutes and then put the duck breast back into the liquid and give two more minutes each side. Remove the duck, cover and put in a low oven to keep warm. Strain the liquid and get rid of the chunky bits, then put the liquid back in the pan and add a handful of squidgey prunes (you may need to soak) and 15g dark chocolate. Reduce to a nice saucy consistency and then spoon over the sliced duck breasts. I didn't take a photo as it was late and it looked too brown and not particularly appetising, yet trust me, it tasted sublime. To make the pommes puree, all I did was make mashed potato with extra milk and an electric hand mixer to make them extra fluffy.

On Saturday, I led an expedition with our two youngest children to see the Myer Christmas Pageant. I must say that this year was better than in the past, yet once again, all of the strange Star Wars fetishists donned their kit and had the opportunity to parade down the main street of town:

It did make me laugh, yet there really is something quite nice, unpretentious and very Hobart about the homemade aspect of the Christmas Pageant.....I recognised four of various friends children skipping rope or dressed up in Christmas costumes and waving as and they participated......and the children loved it.

As my routine dictates, I've also been haunting various auctions around town. I missed out with my absentee bids when Mossgreen Auctions came to town to auction off the contents of a house just up the road, which was a shame as they had some very covetable miniatures:

Yet I struck success at Gowans with this hall table which I instantly gravitated to, even though it was in the ugliest part of the shed, because one of the legs looks like that of a lion:

I've put on the upstairs landing.....a part of the house which has previously been very sparsely furnished:

I wonder what I'll find at the auction this week.........when I'm perusing what's on 11.37am.....precisely.



  1. Haha - love the Star Wars marching Christmas Pageant people!! Your garden is looking spectacular. So envious of your peonies. Did you know you can freeze them? Martha said so, so it must be true (in bud, freeze in a plastic bag until you want them out in a vase and then just stick them in water and they'll bloom apparently). We inherited a lot of ivy as well in our garden, which I have worked hard at eradicating. Unfortunatley our neighbour cultivates ivy (along with other insidious creepers), and I have to try to keep it back on their side of the fence. They also cultivate Queensland style palm trees, dead trees they don't want removed so that the possums have a home, and rampant wisteria (which they try to blame on my garden, except that I keep killing it off). I can't say the "borrowed view" from their side of the fence is particularly spectacular. Always tempting to start dipping things in a bit of poison from my side, except it may be fairly obvious where it's death started from. xx

    1. Might have to try the peony freeze thing... will sacrifice one bloom and see if it actually would be fab if it did as then could have peonies for Christmas! Our neighbours on both sides are also keen on cultivating weeds...the dreaded wandering dew on one side and large cotoneasters on the other. We shamelessly poison along our fence line (after I've pulled it all out on our side with my own bare hands) and last year had a confrontation about the cotoneaster overhang.....I was v surprised when they sent someone to prune it back! You do what you have to do I say! Rx

  2. Your garden looks fabulous. Mine is definitely a work in process. Had our first kind of summery day here last week - got to 39 degrees. Have increased the watering and everything mulched up so hoping the plants will get through. By February temps will get to well into the forties. Amazing how it all does OK though as long as it gets watered. No room for missed watering or blocked sprinklers though....

    Heidi - I would be throwing a bit of poison at any ivy on your side of the fence - won't kill it, just slow it up a bit!

    1. So it's hot where you are.....we have really only had a handful of days so far this spring that have reached the twenties! For so long my garden has been a work in progress....this is really the first year that I've been amazed by how good it is looking! Now I just have to get that peony to flower.....Rx

  3. Peonies - so jealous. I may give them a crack, but I don't know if our Adelaide weather is up to it... any tips? Kx (The Blog a House Built)

    1. I love peonies too yet have inherited them by default.....they now grow in a patch of lawn and in the middle of a hedge yet am too scared to move them in case I'm subjected to another long term wait for flowers. In the quest to find out more about peonies am going to an actual peony farm on Saturday so will specifically ask how they go in Adelaide and report back! Rx

    2. Thanks Romy. I don't know if this info will be of any use to you, but I have an (almost) half acre block approx 5 kms out of the city, so lots of spots of full sun, speckled sun, full shade ect ect. I would love to get a peonies growing on the flats of Adelaide (I would also like a kitchen). Kx

  4. Thank you for a very relaxing read! I love the flowers.

  5. Romy you flowers are outrageously beautiful! Lucky thing. You couldn't even buy blooms like that here in nth Qld for love nor money let alone grow them. Love an auction, go well! Jx

  6. I watched the Myer parade as well and loved the relaxed demenour of every participant! Not long after, I saw a woman take a right turn through a red light right in front of a policeman, he pulled her over of course and when she got out to get her drivers licence out of her purse in the boot she was in full costume. The cop was laughing and let her go with a warning. Very Hobart. And I am very excited about my Bikram yoga pass, I will email you.

  7. What a great husband to help in the garden...

    Mine HATES gardening. Today I asked him to help pot 6 huge, hot-pink hydrangeas that Santa bought us for an early Christmas gift (inspired by the V&A's garden) and you could hear the screech of tyres as he escaped down the driveway. So supportive.

    Shall go to Almighty Amazon tonight and buy 'Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford'. Looks fab.



I LOVE hearing your thoughts! Rx