Thursday, 20 December 2012


First things first, our front door has finally turned pink.....or magenta:

In our house, the colour terminology depends on where you went/go to school. Pink may be considered a particularly feminine colour yet magenta, of course, is manly as it's the colour of valour, of blood spilt on the battlefield. It's all about  perception. The girls in our family are happy with pink, yet the boys console themselves with magenta.

The sample pot that I had decided on, way back in the dim reaches of time, turned out to be all wrong, so the painter had to randomly conjure up this precise mixing up a bit of this and a bit of that. Of course I had to endure lots of eye rolling when I explained that I was a simple girl and all I wanted was bright pink that could be passed off as magenta.....after the requisite four coats were applied he admitted that he was 'quite chuffed' with how it ended up. Me too, I love it. And in case you were wondering, so do the boys.

Why does our tree always undergo a dramatic growth spurt just at the beginning of December? I'm sure that it grows centimetres at this time every year, moments before we lug it inside to be all loved up. This was our tree, the first year it did Christmas with us.....nine years ago:

And this is how it looks this year:


So, while we've been wrapping presents and we made Turkish Delight and all day I've been in denial about how much gelatine, or rather gronund up animal hoof and horn, is actually needed to get it to set. Yuck/yum.....I've also been reminiscing about Christmases around our tree, which for the rest of the year sits forlornly potbound in a corner of the garden struggling to receive the attention that it craves. Miraculously, this year it has performed again and has now outgrown the whole family....and that's no mean feat.

In a blur of daydreams of Christmases past, I've been thinking about that first year when we lived over the river in a different house, when the not quite one year old was covered in the horror that is a bad dose of chicken pox and how the fairy sustained scorch marks on the pink tulle layers of her dress when she ventured too close to  the cooktop in the only just finished in the nick of time kitchen.....about the year when all of the hints and innuendo paid off and there was a pink KitchenAid under the tree....and about all of the hysterically funny dress up concerts over the years that it has inspired our children to perform.

So then, because Christmas is such a bittersweet time for tripping down memory lane, I started remembering all of the people who have helped us celebrate our own version of Christmas around this very same tree. About how, against all expectations, we have been so fortunate to have four amazing children to share our lives with. And about how my dad won't be joining in. This will be the fifth Christmas that he's been gone and while it's not as raw as the first...or even the second...there is still such a sense of absence always present in the shadows. For me, the magic of Christmas seems to be equally about the creation of new happy memories to add to the memory bank and an opportunity to unashamedly dip in and reclaim old ones.

My heart goes out to anyone reading this who has lost a loved one this year and who will be experiencing their first Christmas without them. I remember so vividly what it feels like, I think it's because Christmas rolls around, without fail, year in year out and acts as a prompt for hope for the future and an opportunity to indulge in recollections of the past.


Sunday, 16 December 2012


My husband usually goes to work on Saturdays and I spend the day in a blur of chauffeuring children between sport/dancing/parties. Yesterday, the stars aligned and he had the day off and with the children on school hols.....some of the day was ours to do as we pleased.  Because we live in Hobart, between showers, we all headed down to Salamanca, to the market:

And then, we ventured further afield, out to Berriedale to another market, MoMA, on the lawn at MONA. When we arrived, one of the mums from school was offering tastings of the sparkling that she makes for Moorilla, which is the MONA Winery. Yes please. There was also a chap demonstrating how to skin a rabbit, wrap it in prosciutto and turn it into a delicious meal. The theme of this years markets are 'Let's eat invasive species, like weeds and Bambi'......yesterday it was Peter Rabbit's turn. Apparently, one solution to solving the problem of introduced rabbits which have become pests and decimate the landscape and our native animals ecosystems, is to eat the problem. Makes sense......the children did comment that it smelt yummy.

We've been spending a bit of time on the lawns at Mona lately:

How could you not, as going to MONA is like entering a portal and slipping into a parallel universe where the outer Hobart suburbs have somehow morphed into being the ultimate in cool, and even better, fuelled by great food and wine.....and art.....and a soundtrack.

An artist friend of mine, Brigita Ozolins,  had set up 'The Chapel' in the teepee like structure with the gold pyramid on top:

If you live in Hobart, you've probably seen Brigita's work before, David Walsh commissioned a permanent work for inside his museum and she also has a work in situ on the ground floor of the State Library of Tasmania, in amongst the newspapers.

Yesterday, Brigita was doing bibliomancy readings inside the grotto that is 'The Chapel', under the gaze of an antique engraving of a long departed Thylacine surrounded by fairy lights and leaves and seeds. She had a stack of books covered in brown paper that she was using to perform divination. I waited my turn and wrote my question in the book......'What am I going to cook for dinner tomorrow night?' This is a question that I eternally ponder. Not a day goes by where I don't ask myself this pressing nice to have it answered for me. The lady who had her turn before me asked 'Are my children going to lead happy and fulfilled lives?' Hmm. I wonder what her answer was.

Brigita read my question, guffawed (not sure whether good or bad sign) and then consulted one of her weighty tomes. This is what she wrote in answer to my question, then folded it and sealed it in an envelope:

'Agitation within robs one of reflection and clarity of vision. The right thing, then, is to keep still until balance is regained.'

Profound. I had time to think about this as I walked back across the lawn to be reunited with my husband who was lying on a beanbag in the kids tent being jumped on by three of our children. I showed him my piece of paper and told him my interpretation, what I think the message is.....that it's obvious that I should ease off on my housewifely duties. Have a well deserved rest. Sounds logical don't you think? He then asked me if it would be possible to slack off any more and how could I do any less. Isn't he an outrageous tease.

Anyway, it's now 5.45pm tomorrow and I still don't know what's for dinner. Anyone got any ideas?


Friday, 7 December 2012


Frankly, I find this time of year just a little bit unsettling. It's the excess and the gratuitous commercialisation of Christmas that doesn't sit well with me. Scarily, next week it's the school holidays and I'm way behind on the Christmas preparation....although I have been to the health food store and bought all of the organic dried fruit for the Christmas pudding that we make every year out of the big orange Stephanie Alexander tome. It was meant to be made in November so that it could steep, oh well. Deep breath.

Anyway, I still need to wrestle more suet off the misogynist butcher down the road, who has had to wait for a new beast to come in so that he can remove whatever fat is left on it's kidneys. Suet is hard to get and in high really is like asking him to remove a particular part of his anatomy and sell it to me in a little plastic bag. That's how reluctant he is. Apparently, according to the same butcher, and this is a tad gross, yet I am a firm believer in knowing exactly where your food comes from so that you can decide if you actually want to eat it or the abattoir they remove the organs and the fat from the animal straight away to help cool it down. So, that means that most of the kidney fat goes into the bin before it gets to the butcher. As he then continued to lecture me...'most meat at other butcheries arrives already cut up in a plastic box.' I can't help but think that kidney fat is better in a Christmas pudding than thrown away in a bin. I have also ordered a free range, organic ham because I just can't bear to think about pigs in sowing crates suffering to become a Christmas ham as part of people's festive doesn't seem so festive to me.

Anyway, having just been to prize giving assembly and seen our 11 year old daughter awarded with a prize for spirituality, I've been pondering how to put more meaning back into our family's Christmas.....rather than just losing it in the whirl of drink and consumerism which you are encouraged to overindulge in.

Pushing the pram up the hill on our walk home after assembly we passed our local gift shop Rose's Cupboard. In we went and despite Tobes exclaiming at the top of his voice that his teacher doesn't like tea towels, I purchased three gorgeous and most importantly, locally made Dish Pig tea towels:

One for each teacher, as a thank you for their help over the year. Aren't they gorgeous, they look like a vintage scarf and would be beautiful framed or made up as a cushion cover.

While I was at it I also assuaged my conscience and bought environmentally friendly cards made from recycled cardboard and vegetable based ink and I'm thinking of taking up Mother Down Under's suggestion and having my children make wrapping paper.....although I recoil in horror at the thought of the mess.....we still have green paint on the dining table from when our eldest painted a plate.....8 long years ago.

On the final leg home, Tobes and I chatted about how it would be  good idea, on the first day of the school holidays to head into town to the bookshop and choose some of our favourite books to put under the ABC Giving Tree for children who might not be waking up to presents under their tree. With this plan in place, I feel a bit better about the whole Christmas carry on now. Especially as the children and I are determined that first and foremost it is going to be a happy day...and let's face it that's all that I want for Christmas.

I have spent the rest of the week toiling away writing an article for the next issue of Tasmanian Style magazine. I thought I'd blow the old cobwebs out and revisit the field of expertise that I dedicated  years and years of my youth to training in, by writing about the incredibly talented Hobart based painter, Nicholas Blowers who shows in Hobart and in Sydney. We have one of his works on our living room wall and love mother thinks it's depressing and of course she'd be right as his main concerns are collapse and decay:

I must say it was a surreal experience having Nick come over for a coffee and a chat about his work, on the sofa next to his actual painting and to hear all about where it was painted and what his inspiration was. And then he cast a critical eye over other paintings by other artists that adorn our walls....and I had thought I was meant to be interviewing him. Anyway, it was hard work.....way back before I had children, how did I ever think I was going to write an Art Theory based doctorate. How did I ever get a third of the way through and present papers at conferences and create lectures based on it? How. They may as well have given me a lobotomy when I had a caesarian....four times over. Saying that though, I'm quite happy with how the article turned out.....although it has to go to the editor next, fingers crossed.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Monday, 3 December 2012


Well, on Saturday night can you believe that I discoed while Blondie sang 'The Tide is High' just metres away on stage:

This was a slice of wish fulfilment in my otherwise mundane life....let's face it, earlier in the year I'd dressed up as Blondie to go to a party.....where I watched my husband and his friends dance to Cold Chisel......with a mop. Anyway, tick, it's now off the list.

Doesn't Deborah Harry look amazing for 67....she is only just younger than my mum, who would never in a pink fit get up on stage in a blonde wig and rock and roll her old heart out. I think she's amazing, she still has an incredible voice and  she still does the punk rock with aplomb.

My fab old school friend, who still knows all the lyrics to the rap in 'Rapture'.....all these years later.....drove down with her husband and children from Launceston. In the car she demonstrated her talent to a captive audience.....her husband was flabbergasted and could't believe that they'd been married for 10 years and he'd never known that she possessed this skill.

To embrace the spirit of the 1980's, before venturing out on the town, we made pina coladas. Sadly, they didn't work.....I think I may have followed the wrong recipe.....or perhaps the poor excuse for pineapple available in not very tropical Hobart wasn't ripe and sweet enough. In hindsight,  I should have added extra pineapple juice. Anyway, we managed to get ourselves ready and fed and jim jammed up our combined 6 children in time for the babysitter's 6.15pm. We then hotfooted it down to Garagistes to see if we would be lucky enough to score an unreserved table:

We were running to a strict time schedule so the dreaded pronouncement that there was a 45 minutes wait caused momentary angst....until we mentioned that we were en route to the Blondie voila, 5 minutes later we had a table.

I love everything about Garagistes, the food, the communality, the buzzy vibe and the fact that it's in Hobart. We had an amazing meal there earlier in the year when it was just the two of us. Now that I've had dinner in a group of four, I think that the whole sharing concept works better with only two people as honestly, between four people, you really only end up with a minuscule taste on your plate. It was still delicious and booked beautiful, see:

Poached spanner crab, fenugreek and buttermilk.

Marinated calamari with sea herbs.

Broad beans with pea custard.

Poached striped trumpeter and nasturtium.

Pink eye potatoes with slow cooked egg.

And slow cooked pigeon with beetroot.

All week I'd workshopped what I was going to wear and this was how it looked on the the loos at the Derwent Entertainment Centre as in the rush I forgot to take a photo before I left home:

I'd momentarily toyed with completing the look with silver jeans yet when I couldn't find any in time I had to make do with the Victoria Beckam Denim white jeans already in my wardrobe, a Winter Kate top, Kate Spade jumbo jewels necklace and Dinosaur Designs beads......of course I left the concert kitted out in a Blondie tee shirt. As you do.