Thursday, 26 April 2012


My husband's getting sick of hearing about yoga so here's my attempt to change the subject - yet I'm sure he will point out that I couldn't even refrain from using the 'y' word in the first sentence. Habits, eh?

So, it's been chilly in Hobart. On Saturday night we had dinner in front of the fire:

The menu was inspired by the south of France - even better, each course actually came from France, admittedly in a jar or a can.

It doesn't look particularly appetising yet, trust me, it was delicious and so incredibly simple to prepare. Entree was Foie Gras with brioche and toasted fig seeds:

Again, a big thank you to Nicole from Espondeilhan for providing us with the goods!
Followed by main course of Cassoulet with Toulouse sausage and confit de canard:

My husband likes to make this yet it consumes almost three days of work by the time you cure the duck legs in salt and then cook it submerged in duck fat, make the Toulouse sausage with the sausage making attachment on the Kitchenaid, and slowly simmer it all together with white beans. Or you can just open the tin and cook it in the oven for half an hour. If you are tempted and you live in Hobart you can buy it at the Wursthaus Kitchen at Salamanca - where else - and Peter will even probably sell it to you speaking French if you ask.

I have been obsessed with reading this tale of a Melbourne family who bought a chateau in Normandy:

So I made the French Flourless Chocolate Cake on page 280 for dessert:

I wish there was a recipe to follow for acquiring your own chateau in France. Sigh.

Needless to say we ate a lot of fruit and vegetables on Sunday to compensate for what we had done to our constitutions with this typically French feast.

Have you been admiring my Laguiole cutlery with the distinctive bee on the handle:

Did you know that the Laguiole bee is not trademark protected and that it can legally be manufactured anywhere in the world? That means that Laguiole cutlery that you buy at Your Habitat or Peter's of Kensington almost certainly doesn't come from the village of Laguiole in the Midi-Pyrenees famous for making knives. Ours does, we subjected the children to a day in the car to get there, ate the local speciality aligot in a restaurant in the town, bought the cutlery and Felix, who gets car sick, had the obligatory vomit down the windy mountain road to prove it.

On Monday night the whole family went to the boy's school art exhibition:

Our children over the years have been dragged around to so many exhibition openings of other artists work - yet on Monday it was their turn as they both had work included in the show. This was Felix's piece:

And Toby worked on this.....along with his whole kindergarten class:

On Tuesday there was no more posing around at art exhibitions, there was cross country to be run:

It was a long way.


Thursday, 19 April 2012


Yesterday, I had to do double Bikram Yoga classes to have any chance of completing the 30 day challenge. It's fair to say that I wasn't relishing the prospect. I diligently went to the 9.30am class and worked on my habits. Later, I made it to the 7.30pm class with one minute to spare. Because en route I somehow filled my diesel car up with unleaded petrol. A rather extreme form of sabotage, I know. Now I have experienced first hand what fate befalls you if you happen to do this and it is all BAD. Although luckily, I didn't turn the key and engage the engine or it would have been CATASTROPHIC. Thank goodness for small mercies. Instead of a new engine, my car only had to be towed and drained.

So last night I had to resort to a taxi, and sobbed the whole way to class. The taxi driver had helped me to roll my car away from the bowser and into a parking bay so he was understanding. Ben's final words to me before I entered the hot room were that I needed the yoga. I thought I needed a stiff drink and a lie down. I wasn't sure how the class would go. Curiously, it was one of the strongest classes I have done for some time. My balance in the standing series was right on - I even managed to pull off two sets of Standing Bow pose without falling out even though I was head spinning and my skin felt prickly. And neither did I try and distract myself from all of this unpleasantness by rubbing my nose or adjusting my pants. Habits be gone.

Today in class (I taxied again) I felt weak and like I was going to vomit. But I'm still on track for the challenge.

Look what else happened yesterday. My chairs came back from the upholsterer:

This is how they were when I bid on them at auction out at Gowans. You really needed to smell them to realise how bad they were. They reeked of cat pee.

Haven't they have been miraculously transformed? The chesterfield sofa was another auction find - from when Leo Scofield was selling off his furniture at his Georgian pile at Kempton last year. 

Thursday, of course, is pre auction viewing day out at Gowan's. I didn't make it today due to car trouble.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Did you know that if heated to a high temperature olive oil becomes carcinogenic? Me neither. Am I the only person who didn't know this? Luckily some friends were talking about it at the park while our children were running riot. Now I know. I must say that I'm somewhat perturbed by the amount of times I must have been unknowingly exposed to the fumes. Why isn't this fact included on the label? Cigarettes are covered in scary health warnings - why not one line on olive oil bottle?

This conversation prompted me to wake up in the early hours of Saturday morning when the realisation struck that I should clean my oven. It's always smoking. Not any more. I'm ashamed to admit how long it's been since I last cleaned it. With baking soda and elbow grease it took me most of the weekend to work over both ovens. Look how clean and shiny they are now:

I'm happy to report that I did more than just clean the oven on the weekend. The boys went camping so the girls and I got to engage in some unencumbered by boys shoe shopping. I am working on giving my boys a well rounded education by subjecting them to stints in ladies change rooms and extended shopping trips. I know that it may take some time until they participate in a docile manner. Yet I'm committed to the cause - but then sometimes it's just easier to go without them. Saturday was such a red letter day. Both girls came away with a new pair of shoes. Look how happy they are:

I know that I have previously stated that Milly was walking. I may have been a tad premature. Maybe it would have been more precise to say that she could walk. However now that she has new blue shoes with flowers on them she walks much more than she crawls. And you can hear her coming.

Have you seen the date? It means that I'm now officially over the half way mark in the Studio New Town Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge. I know that I'm not meant to think about anything during class, yet today, at about Standing Bow pose, I started thinking about 'habits' that Anna talked about yesterday. I am only too aware of the habits that I've nursed along ever since I started doing Bikram Yoga classes three years ago. I'm going to put them out there in an attempt to do away with them forever. They are wiping sweat from underneath my nose and pulling my shorts out from my derriere. I know, not pretty. Tomorrow I am going to abstain from this detrimental, repetitive behaviour and I'm under no illusion that it is going to be easy. Especially as tomorrow I'm going to do not one but two classes. Look out.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


So in the end all it took was a pep talk by Anna last night while I was rocking my second Bikram Yoga class for the day (to make up for having time off over easter) for everything to be OK. For most of this week I have been a very reluctant starter for class and was beginning to wonder if my peevishness was ever going to evaporate. After all, the 30 day challenge hasn't even reached the half way mark yet (it's still three days away not that I'm counting or anything). Anna reminded us that when Bikram says to 'kill yourself' before class he doesn't only mean physically. He's saying kill yourself with a capital 'S' for self. Kill your Self. You have to remember to leave everything at the door including your ego so that your mind and body can work in harmony. And let me tell you, my mind had been giving it to me big time. Yet, last night in the hot room, Anna's words made sense to me and somehow I managed to defeat my pessimistic voice - miraculously my outlook on the 30 day challenge and on life during the school holidays seems much better.

It also helped that today I initiated events which saw me have an hour and a half all to myself. Oh the decadence. It was exhilarating, and not only because I squandered the time in a cafe drinking strong gunshot green tea which gave me a serious buzz since I have been abstaining from caffeine.

It hasn't all been yoga and school holiday torture, I have been having a bit of fun. We spent easter here:

 There was no tv let alone wi-fi. Our children got back to basics including park equipment challenges:

playing under the sprinkler:

long walks in the countryside:

and by night, serious scrabble competitions:

 Oh, and the easter bunny came:

Luckily he has a predilection for Lindt.

We got back to town in time to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Here we were on our wedding day, way back then:

We celebrated by getting a babysitter and went out to dinner a deux at Ethos:

I can't believe we have never been there before. The food was delicious in an unpretentious tapas style way:

My dessert had two of my favourite ingredients in it - rhubarb AND quince, although you can't really tell from this photo. It could be almost anything really:

And seeing that I'm on the subject of food, it was a red letter day today when I opened the post to discover a jar of foie gras sent all the way from the south of France by our fabulously considerate friend Nicole:

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. It's more than just foie gras though, its with armagnac and has toasted fig seeds to sprinkle on top. Can you imagine how delicious it is going to be? But wait, there was more as Nicole also thoughtfully included nougat, chocolate olives and samples from her children's afternoon tea supply:

Australian quarantine had obviously had a lovely time opening it to check that there was no risk. Happily they didn't confiscate anything. So Toby got to eat his individually packaged crepe which he was deliriously excited to discover came ready rolled with Nutella inside:

I wish we could buy those in a packet at the shops here.


Tuesday, 3 April 2012


The party has been and gone and it was an overwhelming success. The birthday boy, and I use the term loosely as he was turning ninety, was radiantly surprised. Mercifully his stent held up so he got to hang around and enjoy the festivities. Can you believe that none of the children gave the surprise away - a big ask when you are dealing with Tobes who usually can't help himself. At one stage we even used Mimi as a decoy to detract attention away from guests walking up the driveway by getting her to stage an impromptu Irish dancing display.

I am happy to report that there was more than enough food, even though I endured kitchen catastrophe - which saw gougeres fail to puff and one tray of camelised onion pizzas burnt beyond recognition. How nice does the afternoon tea table look:

Can you believe that the guests put away all but one bottle of a case of bubbly? Not bad going for a group of oldies attending a very vocal teetotallers afternoon tea birthday party.  So much for the tea. I was surprised, especially as we had managed to rustle up 28 teacups, few of which got a go.

Before the party on Sunday, I managed to sneak in a session in the hot room as it was also the first day of Bikram Yoga Studio New Town's 30 Day Challenge. Three days in and so far it has been without incident. I wonder how I will feel tomorrow when I have to rock a double to make up time so that I can have a few days off over Easter to play with my family and eat chocolate. Probably really hard. Bring it on. As Bikram says 'Never give up. Never slack off. It is only through disciplined willpower that physical health, mental peace and Self-Realization can be achieved'. Twenty seven days to go.