Monday, August 31, 2009

In the lotus position

The weekend saw me attempting to make a stamp from the weird and ever-so-slightly-creepy lotus root. I ended up with my fingers covered in paint and feeling very much as though I had returned to kindergarten, but I did make some prints which I quite like and might incorporate into a card or two and it was kinda fun!

Also, some yummy buns, which sort of morphed into giant cookies (too much dough per blob!) From one of my grandmother's cookbooks, I bring you Feronia's 2009 version of the 1936 Commonsense Cookery Book bun:

1/2 lb flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ozs butter
2 ozs sugar
1 egg
3/4 gill milk
Pinch of salt

Combine flour, baking powder and butter. Add sugar. Beat eggs and milk together then add. Add salt. Mix into light dough. Divide up on baking tray. Bake at 200 degrees celsius for about 20 minutes. But check them regularly - they can burn quickly once they get going!

I also added nutmeg and sultanas just prior to adding the egg and the milk. For '3/4 gill milk' I added enough to mix it all into a light dough. Yes, that's right, I guessed :) I also dotted a couple of them in the middle with jam before putting them in the oven.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Almost Spring...

Scenes from my (almost) springtime garden, beginning with the magnolia tree which my grandmother planted in the 1950s and which is truly the pride of the front yard, through to my newly installed herb pots at the front door.
Have a happy and peaceful weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The more it blows, tiddley-pom

Here, the wind still blows, tiddley-pom. We have (so far) managed to avoid power blackouts but the gusts seem to be picking up again outside. The gum tree branch above was in motion when this photo was taken (I promise), though I am not sure I've quite captured that. At least the otherwise bleak sky shows signs of promise...

But, time to retreat with a book, perhaps? - check out my book review at Lesen Lesen -

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"My name is Feronia and I've been taken back to 1981..."

Wild, wild weather here at the moment. In other parts of the country, it's unseasonably warm but here, unseasonably cold and windy. Power blackouts are predicted for later today and tomorrow so don't be surprised if the Wood falls a little silent for awhile! As an antidote to the bleak weather and as an extension of my current enjoyment of Ashes to Ashes, here's a little bit of the Nolan Sisters on Japanese tv in 1980. I loved the Nolans, especially this song! Does anyone else remember them? And so early 80s...the haircuts, the jumpsuits, the slightly-lame-but-still-catchy tune! I can just imagine Gene Hunt (Ashes to Ashes) having a secret groove to this! And You Tube - what a font of the long-forgotten! I've also been tuning in there for Bucks Fizz and Adam and the Ants while watching the trees blow...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Every Day a New Beginning

Back on deck and feeling a lot better, thanks in large part to a course of antibiotics. Thank you for your kind wishes! While taking some enforced time out, I have been dipping in and out of a lovely little book by Stephanie Dowrick called Every Day a New Beginning. A lot of what she says seems simple and yet is difficult to take on board. For example:

It is not a failure of self-encouragement to feel sad. Sadness is appropriate in many situations. Sadness can also be a useful invitation to look into a complex situation more deeply.

In this sweet-and-sour year I've been having, I've found this to be very true. As trite as it may sound, in sadness, one can also realise how much there is to be happy about. I think that sometimes we need that jolt, that plunge into the depths, to realise what is really around us. Have a Happy Monday :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Archie hearts Veronica

Who knew? Archie Andrews is to marry Veronica Lodge. I had no idea that things had got to this serious stage. In today's newspaper, it's reported that in the long-running Archie comicstrip, Archie has finally made his choice between Veronica and Betty Cooper (she's the blond one on the right). I was a huge fan of the Archie comics when I was a kid, but I haven't really kept up with them since. Obviously. Last time I looked, he was deciding who to take to the sock hop.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Creative even in illness...!

I seem to have been attacked by a cold/sinusitis/tummy-bug combo. Yay me! But, you will be relieved to learn, my creativity has not been felled by this conspiracy of germs. Quite the opposite. Had a fiddle around last night and came up with two cards which I am quite pleased with - especially the blue one with the very cute stamp (see it in close-up) and, since teaching myself to cast on on the weekend, I have also been knitting madly, and in my favourite colour - is it chartreuse?
And, by the way, for those of you who are craft and especially cardmaking minded, check out the blog candy giveaway at Claire's lovely website:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thank you, Betty Crocker!

So, here it is. "Traditional White Bread" courtesy of Betty Crocker's Breads, 1974, and prepared by our head breadmaker on Sunday (and, as you can see above, now gone):

2 packages of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
6 to 7 cups flour
Butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in large mixing bowl. Stir in 1 3/4 cups warm water, the sugar, salt, shortening, and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour. (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched).

Punch down dough; divide in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into a rectangle, 18x9 inches. Fold crosswise into thirds, overlapping the 2 sides. Roll dough tightly toward you, beginning at one of the open ends. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge firmly to seal. With side of hand, press each end to seal; fold ends under.

Place loaves seam sides down in 2 greased loaf pans, 9x5x3 inches. Brush lightly with butter. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place loaves on low rack so that tops of pans are in centre of oven. Pans should not touch each other or side of oven. Bake until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from pans. Brush with butter; cool on wire rack.

Obviously, this is taken from an American book, so adjust any measurements according to where you are (inches, oven temperature etc.) I don't think my Fellow Traveller followed the recipe quite to the letter, and good results were still very possible! His advice: knead it well. And if you have any questions, just let us know.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Well, we had a very crafty afternoon here at the Wood yesterday. I finally mastered casting on (I know - I'm a bit slow - but hey, now that I'm out of the gate, there's no stopping me!), I spent an hour with the sewing machine and made a couple of cute little herb bags and best of all my dear Fellow Traveller returned to his breadmaking! He used to make bread when we first moved in together and I can remember the odd delicious loaf over the last couple of years but sadly, despite pleas from his bread-loving public, nothing. But, yesterday, two loaves! One was demolished with leftover cottage pie while we watched Stephen Fry in America and there is one left...just waiting in the bread-bin...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spring is coming!

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday night cardmaking

Something about Thursday nights...I made three new cards last night while plonked in front of the telly on a diet of "Inspector Rex", "True Beauty" (you know you're watching it too) and Louis Theroux. I know. Too much tv. But if you're being productive at the same time, it's ok. Right?
Anyway. Again, we're Japanese themed but this time the other part of Japanese culture I loved so much while I was there - pop culture. All the little characters and cartoon figures. Hello Kitty. Little baubles with faces and big eyes hanging off the ends of mobile phones. Loved it just as much as the ancient culture which is also much in evidence there. Just for different reasons.
So, what I did was simply cut out some shapes of Japanese paper (is it Yuzen?) and slap on (it's a technical term) some Momiji stickers. Oh, and up top is a snap from Ueno at night, where we stayed in Tokyo.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pondering Posy

Have you ever read the cartoons of Posy Simmonds? I first borrowed Mrs Weber's Diary from our local library when I was about 10 (so, a long time ago!). I didn't really understand a lot of it, but I loved the way she assembled her assortment of characters and wove a series of stories about them, all through cartoon squares. It fed my own creative urges to invent 'little worlds' through writing. It only dawned on me much later that her charm and brilliance also lies in the fact that she is a delighfully wry and astute social commentator.

Above is my humble collection which I have mostly assembled by ordering them from here and there online (they never seem to be in secondhand bookshops locally) and I have to admit that when we were in England in 2000, I considered borrowing one on a fairly permanent basis I hadn't seen before from a public library (I didn't do it - my conscience got the better of me). I did, however, find her take on Madame Bovery at Waterstones on the same trip and was prepared to fork out 20 pounds to make it my own on what was an otherwise penny-pinching journey...the things we do for Posy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Crafternoon

Did a fun thing on the weekend - went to a 'crafternoon' organised by a friend of mine. Perhaps you've been to one too? My friend who hosted it made lunch and then the four of us worked around her dining room table on different craft projects - two of us made cards, someone knitted, someone else embroidered. And it was really nice. I made a cake halfway through the afternoon, someone else made some cookies and so we broke for coffee and nibbles and then resumed our crafting. And I couldn't help thinking that this was something that women have probably been meeting together to do for a very long time. But probably not to the background music of Morrissey, before you think I'm overdoing the retro thing a little too much :)

I was not thrilled with the cards I made. One I gave away that night to a nephew turning two. One of my crafting buddies suggested I give the second card I made to someone I didn't like! The third one, above, I kinda like.

Also, a moody-black-and-white-Elizabeth-David-omlette-and-a-glass-of-wine shot of some eggs I took on Friday, getting into domestic goddess (!) mode for Saturday, and finally, a cheery yellow quince who is going into the pot for crumble tonight.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Three good things

Laurie, over at Crazy Aunt Purl, suggested finding three good things about your day in order to lift it out of the ordinary. Good idea, I thought, in amongst a week of rewrites from the work I got off my desk just last Friday. And, lo and behold, I found my three things for today in one place: the op-shop! First of all, the gorgeous little fella at the top, second, an American Woman's Day from 1965 and third, several bundles of great 1950s fabric. Each for the staggering sum of $1!
The bear's expression leapt right out at me from the op-shop shelf - cheerful but not inanely so, and ears just a little endearingly large. I am a sucker at the moment for anything vintage, so the magazine had to go in the basket and the fabric will force me to learn to use my sewing machine properly if only to have a go at making the vintage style clothes which I have lately been coveting on Etsy...
So what are your three good things for today? And what do you think I should name my cheery little red bear? The answer that he (he's a he for sure) likes the best will receive a set of handmade greeting cards :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

Excitements! I have just learnt while casually flicking on the telly during my lunch break that the sequel to "Life on Mars", "Ashes to Ashes", has finally made it to Antipodean tv screens! Next Monday it begins! Yay! If you're reading this in the UK, please don't scoff in a smug fashion and tell me what happens. And the same goes for those of you in the US, by the look of this clip. The point is, it came to us eventually, and this little time travel buff is very happy :)

PS I have just realised that today's blog title oddly matches yesterday's...

Monday, August 3, 2009

A dreaded sunny day...

As the Smiths once sang in "Cemetery Gates": "A dreaded sunny day, so I'll meet you at the cemetery gates." Sunny days are not really dreaded here (they're too rare!) but it was a nice if windy day yesterday when my Fellow Traveler and I took a stroll around the massive old cemetery in the centre of our town. As you can see, I took my camera and attempted a few artsy-fartsy black-and-white shots. Cemeteries really are quite fascinating places to walk around, especially when they have headstones going back a few centuries.