Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hedonistic delights

This week has been one of hedonism of the food variety. It was my birthday on Wednesday, so the days have been filled with lunch and dinner dates in honour of the occasion. Tueday night we (Mother and Father Dotty, and I) were invited to the neighbours for dinner and, ever needing a reason to get into the kitchen, I offer to prepare to dessert. Enter Mango and Peach Coconut Pavlova:

YUM! The base was a recipe spied amongst Wabiwabi's ever-so-lovely ponderings, which I prepared with great excitement and shaped into one giant macaroon. And just as she said, it was delectable topped with fresh cream, mangoes and peaches, and a wee bit o'lime just for good measure. It was so good all males present had second desserts, and all ladies sat, as ladies do, and wished they too could be uncouth enough to gobble down two giant helpings of joy.
With Mother and Father Dotty gone exploring the northern-most tropics yesterday, I declared it the perfect time for a night of Italian feasting and fun, inviting some of my very best ladies to dine with me for the evening. And didn't we dine! There was course after course of delisciousness to be had. And still so much left over! Darling Wabi shined with a scrumptious pinenut tart and a crunchy asparagus salad, and the other lovelies brought food treats aplenty to temp all tastebud. And me? Well I racked my brain and, in true Dotty style, decided at the last minute that Italian Food Forever's Chicken Oreganata, and Orrechiette with tomatoes and pecorino would be our fate. It was a tough choice, because every recipe was completely droolworthy. Look:

Does it not make you want to race to the kitchen and cook yourself perfect pasta?
Cut to today and, after cleaning the kitchen from last night's events, I pulled out my green mixing bowl and matching spoon and set to work on a bounty of baked treats, including these:

I discovered the recipe for these brownies years ago on A Spoonfull of Sugar, pilfered the recipe and never returned, only now discovering the blog still exists and is still unbeleiveable fabulous.I took the basic recipe, changed it to suit myself, and created a brownie that not only never fails, but is always greeted with sounds unbecoming of any self-respecting person. They cook in 30 minutes and come out crispy and crunchy on top and gooey and chewy in the middle. 

Country Fair Brownies A La Dotty
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar (any you have on hand will do, I've tried the lot)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 flour 
1/2 cup cocoa
250g compound chocolate buttons

Beat butter and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla nd mix well. Sift in flour and cocoa, ensuring the mixture is thick, similar to cookie dough. Break in chocolate buttons and any other additions and stir well. Pour into well-greased ceramic baking dish and bake at 180C for 20mins then turn oven back to 160C until brownie is crisp on top and a few crumbs still stick when tester is inserted.

Ps. I've made this mixture with gluten free flour many times and, not only does it work, I think it tastes better. The gf flour makes it chewier and more fudgey, just make sure to add extra flour if needed to keep the consistency nice and thick. I've also added all sorts of fruit and nuts and it only seems to get better, so feel free to get creative.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stairway to heaven

It's been almost three months since my knee surgery now, and I'm finding every day it gets just that little bit stronger. I still have days on end where in aches, and I can't bend fully or put too much pressure on it, but it's getting better slowly.
Problem: For the past two weeks I've been having dreams I'm running downstairs. The horrid thing is I can't yet walk downstairs let alone run. It's driving me nuts! Every night I catch myself halfway down the stairs and subconsciously remind myself to slow down. My bloody knee is taking over my dreams! When I wake I find myself yearning to have more freedom, desperately wanting to spring up the stairs to the backyard, run after Darling Dog, or simply be able to sit on the ground without having to use military precision to stand back up. It's like my own dreams are taunting me. (Okay, probably a bit of paranoia there, but seriously, no more stairs dammit!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What I like about you

As you've probably noticed from my new blog layout, I'm quite a fan of the "too much is never enough" style of decorating. This is in constant conflict with my need for all things to be practical and useful. The downfall comes when I see cute figurines and crocheted amigarumi characters and think "being incredibly cute and cuddly is a practical use, yes?" Ah...not really. But sometimes you just have to give yourself over to the fun and fabulous and forget about the fact that it's only going to take up space, or it's going to be impossible to wash/iron/breathe in.
My latest impractical crush is tulle. Layers and layers of it. I've always been a fan of frou-frou frocks and sweet ballerina skirts, and embelishments always look better when they POP! And what pops more than endless layers of tulle swinging from your hips.

1.  Deep Teal Dupioni Raw Silk Wrap from Bonzie. It's not tulle, but I had to show you how cute it is.
2. Made to order bridal skirt also from Bonzie's Etsy shop. (She's amazing, check her out.)  
3. "Blushing in Pink" gown by Ouma. I'm completely in love with this too.  
4. "Formal Affair" ballet style adult tutu by Princessdoodlebeans, who makes these as well.

I'm also a little too in love with blue, in all shades and patterns. When I was seven I convinced my father to paint my room in what Behr paints are currently calling fountain spout (I'd love to know who gets to choose the names). When asked why I chose that colour I shook my head sadly: so that I could be surrounded by the sea all the time, of course! I got sick of that colour after a few months but still love being surrounded by anything that reminds me of the sea. It's my happy place and blue is my happy colour, especially when it comes in the form of cute stuff.

1. "Water and Fire" feather earings by Hayashibeads. She crochets as well, look!
2. Navy vegan wrap boots from Toms. I've been wanting a pair of Tom's for ages, not only are they super funky, they were founded for a cause greater than themselves.
3. Wedding cake love bird toppers and place card set by Little Vale, who also makes stuff like this.

What secret obsessions are you harbouring at the moment?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Comments don't work anymore :0(
I wish I was more computer literate...

House of pretty

I did it! I finally did it! You may have noticed that my blog has been undergoing some changes lately. I've been trying to make it more 'me' and less blogspot but, with a far lower than average computer IQ, it's taken a while to get there. A long while. Now it's done, and I'm so happy with it. It's very colourful, very overpatterned, and very much like my life in general (lots going on but not much really happening).
I have to thank Wabi for her attempt at helping me. Sadly I suffer from the same affliction as she does, making it impossible for me to settle for anything outside what I have originally imagined, even when a better option comes along. I'm glad I didn't settle because I'm completely in love with it, which I think will make a huge difference. I've always been drawn to pretty things and find that I work better, and create better, when I have a creative, pretty, decorative setting. And I think this covers all these categories just nicely.
Time to get on with the rest of my life...

Monday, February 15, 2010


I'm 26 in a bit over a week, and I've been single for nine years (GASP!). Yes, I realise this is a long ...very long...exceedingly long time (it's like a prison sentence). I'm not saying I haven't had...moments, they just haven't eventuated into anything more. And yes, this lack of lovin' has been, in large part, my own fault. See, the first guy I dated was (for the most part) a bastard - but he was also pretty damn amazing sometimes. Being my first boyfriend, he also won the ability to set the standard for every single guy that would come after him, and he set it mighty high.
And therein lies the problem.
You see, now I have this list of attributes a guy must tick off before he is considered worthy of more of my attention. I'm not saying the whole list has to be checked within the first ten minutes, there's just certain goals to be achieved before moving to the next level. (And I've just compared my lovelife to a video game...) Before I go on, I should probably state that not all things on this list are conscious decisions. In fact, a number are attributes I honestly thought I disliked, until someone pointed out the very opposite to me ( Apparantly I'm into big noses. What's that about?).
I'm rambling.
The thing is, I've realised recently that I need to stop using this list - consciously or not - when considering a guy because, clearly, it's not getting me anywhere. Problem: giving up the list means I'm settling, and I don't want to settle dammit! I'm sure there's a 6'1, bronzed, brown-haired/eyed, buffed, surfer boy out there who can sing, dance, play the guitar, and deal with my mood swings, all while being incredibly understanding, funny, intelligent, kind, sensitive, and honest. And I'm sure he's totally happy to settle for a short, chubby, redhead, with no current job, a dodgy knee, and an uncertain temperement, right?
I also realised a while ago that maybe beggers really can't be choosers, and if I don't lower my standards just a few inches I may very well be the crazy cat lady I keep joking about becoming. I think I've got a rather bad case of hypocritocrisy.

And yes, I do know that hypocritocrisy isn't a real word. But then this post is all about my own little world isn't it?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bake me away

When I was a kid, my brother and I would spend the best part of the weekend running amok outside. We lived in a small country town next to the macinery firm dad ran, and had unhindered access to all manner of tractor, plough, ride-on mower and farm thinga-ma-bob. On Sunday afternoons, after a full day of yabbieing, "driving" tractors, and (ahem) aquiring and selling golfers their own golf balls (we were wicked children), we'd scramble inside, grass-stained and sunburnt. And that's when the real fun would begin.
See, Sunday afternoon was baking afternoon, the time when my mother would roll up her sleeves and restock the cupboard with afternoon tea and lunchbox treats, and we got to help. Now, there's nothing too shocking in that, most kids have helped their mum bake cookies at one time or another. The reason I share this is because it was the start of a life-long love, a love that may just rival that I will have for any man. Ever.
When I was six...and ten...and even fifteen, cooking was a time I spent helping my mother with chores. But it was also a time we could spend learning each other, and teaching each other things. My mother is a smart woman. She understood that bakeing wasn't just about flour, sugar, and butter, it was about learning new skills, creating something yourself, and giving something to others that you can't find in any Oreo or Tim Tam.
The great thing about cooking is that, when it's done purely for the love of it, it is an experience well outside the chore we often make it. We cook because we must eat. But we can also cook to give those who eat our food, a little taste of ourselves. My days of climbing tractors and ripping off golfers may be over, and the timing may be less Sunday afternoon and more whenever the urge kicks in, but the excitement at watching a cake rise, or a mayonaise thicken is still the same. And the feeling of satisfaction I get when someone 'Mmmmm's at the taste of my brownies is pure joy.
I spent almost an hour today gasping and thumbing through the cookbooks in my local department store. It felt like a mere ten minutes. Among the treasures I would gladly have sold a limb for was a book by Monica Trapaga that sums up a large chunk of why I love cooking.

She's Leaving Home is a bunch of Monica's family's favourite recipes, stories, and cooking tips, originally created for her daughter when she left home. Luckily, she has also decided to share it with the rest of the world. The recipes that fill the book are accompanied by family annecdotes and some super sweet illustrations, and seem to swell with the love and fulfillment they surely have provided generations of her family. 

Outside of the book, Monica is a seasoned entertainer and a veteran of Australian children's television. For me, this adds to the charm of the book. As I skimmed through the stories and glanced at the pictures I couldn't help but remember sitting a-top a beanbag with a warm anzac, watching Dr Monica and Miss Polly put Jemima Dolly straight to bed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's a jungle out there

Hi there. I've been away for a while. Not anywhere special, just not here. But I have been making new friends, and they'd love to meet you.
Thessalonius Tortoise is a lovely young Greek boy. He loves swimming, hanging ten on the EAC with Nemo and Crush, and just chilling in the sand. He originated from Roman Sock's pattern, but something went a bit awry, and he ended up a little fatter and a wee bit more staionary than her little fellas. But still ever so cute.

And then there's Ermintrude who came about all by herself. She's a sweet little Elephant with a bendy trunk, who loves trumpeting loud and long. She's a big fan of roaming wild in the open plains, and says her idol is none other than the King himself, Babar.

Oh, I almost forgot, she's also good at flying, but only when nobody's watching.

I haven't spent all my time just makeing friends tho, there's also been improvement in my doily ablilities. AND Ta-da!

I took the pattern for this bow tie, ammended it a bit, and turned it into a sweet little clutch. I love the sweet, yellow-flowered lining too and only wish I'd had enough to make a whole bag out of just that.