Wednesday, 22 December 2010

More to show you

My elder son is staying over Christmas, the first time he's been back for a couple of years. Just as I finished the last post he arrived home from a two day fishing trip and with fish! Two beautiful snapper Pagrus Auratus caught this morning. He and Yin are planning how to cook one right  now.

I'm worried about the factory fishing that is destroying the oceans, but can't resist a hand-caught fish. These will be cooked and eaten with respect.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Christmas cards

I've been slow to put things into this blog, but working fulltime and travelling in to Melbourne to do so is really tiring. Can't wait to finish - at 4.30pm Christmas Eve!

Meanwhile some Christmas pleasure is being squeezed into the evenings. I finished all my cards for the new year and here is a batch drying on the cake rack.

Finishing them off last night I almost missed the solstice moon. I'd forgotten about taking things easy, taking time to look around me in the frenzy of festive preparation.

These cards rather reflect me at the moment, a bit jangly and speedy.

Monday, 13 December 2010

A treat

At Lakeside Farmers market a great treat - real char siu bao (steamed sweet pork buns).

Yin and I had one each then came back and had another one each!

Look how shiny and soft  and tempting it is,

the steamed bread was just right and the filling was sweet and rich.

I took my second bun down to the lake to admire the swans.

But once I was spotted in turn


the whole family turned up to share with me. Sadly I had eaten it all up.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Signs of Christmas and holidays

I start anticipating Christmas when cherries from our local orchards come into the shops.

This year I'll be working right up to Christmas Day.

I am planning a simpler celebration, but I will make my Stained Glass fruitcake

It has glace angelica, apricots,cherries, peach, pear, and quince, brazil nuts marinated in rum and apricot jam and dates.
You cut it in thin slices and the fruit makes the slice look like a stained glass window.
I might make a pudding and ginger bread and shortbread too.

Right on cue the last of the iris, the ones with the hint of brown in their colouring, are flowering among the weeds and the mint. The weeds have greeted the recent rain with joy.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Clearing up for summer.

Jasmine fills the house with its creamy scent tonight. I pruned back the vine covering the letterbox and have filled three buckets with the flowers. I love its heady perfume.

The flower scent is particularly strong as I've closed all the windows. Outside the evening is thick with smoke. People have been burning off the past couple of days, getting ready for summer and the fire season. I have pruned and cleared and mowed, getting ready too. Wendouree Fire Brigade came round on their annual fundraising and I've got my calendar up by the door.

And just for Suzanna here's a link to the picture of the trees at Trentham - you can see the flammable material that accumulates around them.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Bare foot weather

Breakfasting in the gum tree in the park 

Egrets visiting again across the road. The grass is just humming with insects now.

This evening I went barefoot walking the dogs. My feet were happy on asphalt and cement and grass and warm, dry clay.

Saturday, 6 November 2010


A tide of wind is bringing clouds from the south. I was weeding and looked up into this, looming over the back garden.

I read recently how massively heavy these clouds are, although they seem to float so lightly, they are great galleons of water.

Then I went out the front and watched this coming towards me, over the parkland.

 The dogs hate this blustery wind and were barking to get inside, so I retired to the kitchen and cooked gnocchi. Lovely stuff, so easy to make and so light and delicious to eat.

The gnocchi were as light and fluffy as the clouds seem to be.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Good things this morning

Rain on the nasturtium leaves.

I found my  purple iris in bloom.

The lilac I picked from over a neighbour's fence
while walking the dogs this morning.

My new set of tin badges.

The artichoke forest. It is so gloriously huge, the leaves stand taller than I am, and it is getting huger.

And breakfast.
Breakfast isn't a thing, it is an event. I got up slowly this morning and I pottered and I made the bread and walked the dogs in the rain and I visited the iris and the artichokes and the nasturtium.
I had passionfruit to put on the yoghurt and Yin got me a cuppa from Espresso. I took a very long time over brekky, and I wore the green beetle badge, the one with the red eyes.

Spring vegetables

A basket of globe artichokes and rosemary from the garden.

I forgot to look into the artichokes this week so some of the artichokes had become a little larger than I prefer, but it is spring  and everything is wildly growing.I cooked the artichokes with lamb in a slow simmered stew.



And these are not dandelions, they are yam daisies or murnongs, the staple food of the first people to live here. Cattle and sheep and agriculture and mining have just about wiped out a plant that once covered the basalt plains.
A friend who cares for a native vegetation reserve to the south west gave me these and they are flourishing. Next year I'm letting them out of the pot and into the garden.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Good timing

I want to try knitting cotton this summer, and luckily my neighbour wanted to clear out some stuff including a few balls of cotton yarn. 
I have three baskets of knitting yarn now - but I'm not hoarding. I am finishing off the blanket! One basket will be empty very soon.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Pick me up

A tough meeting tonight. I'm drinking home-made lemon and ginger tea so I have the energy to deal with it,

then I'll splash on some home-made orange-water for some extra zing.

And when I come home I'll work off the discouragement by reading about sensible, happy  people doing great work overseas and in Ballarat too

And I'll stop being so peevish and cheer up.
About time too, say the doggie people in the house. 

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Grey and gray

After years of playing with the brightest colours I could find,  I'm turning to white, quiet greys and shadowy colours. Cloudy, rainy day colours. This evening a harvest of recycled old shirts, cut up and washed, is drying inside.




White wool blankie

Lovely white wool, soft springy garter stitch, a luxurious pile of pure white woollen pieces. I've been knitting these off and on for a couple of years. You can always find white wool (and navy blue wool) in any Op shop.

This evening I began to sew together all the knitted squares. I'm going to have the light, white, wool blankie I've always wanted for coolish summer nights.

Then this niggling thought - what if I edged it all round with that long strip of red and white cotton gingham I found recently?
It wouldn't be pure white any longer.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

White iris

This morning was crispy with frost, and my white iris are blooming. I found these old fashioned iris flowering along the roadside in Piggoreet, and brought a couple of corms home. It has taken two years for them to settle in and flower. Maybe they like this colder spring. My deep purple and my amber-gold bearded iris haven't a bud on them yet.
A hundred years ago Piggoreet was a thriving township of several hundred families, with schools, pubs, churches and shops.  There is nothing left now, just paddocks and here and there some scattered old fruit trees and remnants of old gardens.
Near the town is a water race built of rocks by Chinese miners, snaking like a stone dragon along the creek valley.
A hundred years or so ago, someone brought these snowy flowers to the new mining town and planted them and loved them. Now they are  flowering  for me.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Spring snow

Snow is so rare in Ballarat it is exciting when it falls. Snow has fallen at least once every spring since I moved here, and I have been hoping to see it this spring too.
Sadly, this year the snow fell on Mt Buninyong, a small mountain just 15 minutes away - you can easily walk up it - and by the time I heard about it, it had melted. So I didn't get to walk out in the snow this year, or watch it swirl past the window or gather it up in my hands in wonder.
I am  including a link to some pictures of the snow on Mt Buninyong because I use this blog  to make notes for my own almanac of the seasons that make up a Ballarat year. Spring snow is one of our seasonal pleasures.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Animal blessings

We took the dogs to the Ballarat Italian Association today to be blessed. The association had a luncheon in honour of St Francis of Assissi and Father Rupert held a brief service to help us all appreciate our animal companions, and to bless the animals. Paddy and Kitty had a great time and did a  lot of barking.

Peppy the cat was not so enthusiastic.

but was blessed anyway.

Then we had a long, long lunch. The members always cook wonderful meals for club events. Since Yin joined they have had Chinese lunches as well as Italian ones. Today we had bruschetta with pesto and really good salami, lasagna - made by Ray, including the sheets of pasta - and  gelati.

It was a day of sunshine, happy children and beautiful animals.  And good conversation.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Birthday season

It's birthday season here - three birthdays each exactly a week apart. Jesse's is the first. He wanted eight-jewel duck, chicken & silky beancurd in salted fish sauce and Yin's amazingly delicate dim sims. Not exactly a classically composed meal but we enjoyed it. Notice the blur of hands as everyone serves and eats and talks at high speed. And notice also the still point in the room - a dog who loves duck.

After the meal.