Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am I am I am

This lovely image of Sylvia Plath can be found at

What do you think about inspirational quotes and sayings? I know that my husband approaches them with some derision but I often find (mostly) literary quotes that say such a lot to me that I am compelled to type them up and blue-tack to the wall above my desk. I don't mean inspirational quotes of the 'SUCCESS'-emblazoned-on-a-photo-of-the-sunset variety (but they're fine too, if they talk to you) but more a couple of words or lines that help me to understand something about myself.

It is sometimes seen as something of a cliche to be a fan of Sylvia Plath, the angsty woman par excellence, but I have to say that I have been in love with her words and ideas since the poem "The Applicant" was on our reading list for Year 12 English Lit (some mumble-mumble years ago). I know of course that she was also a very flawed individual (but who isn't?) and certainly her fate is not one that I covet. But the words...the words. Yesterday I was reminded of a few lines from The Bell Jar which went - kaboom - straight to where I am right now:

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am."

Just now I discovered that I am not the only one with a deep love for Sylvia's mots juste and I also found that some people go way beyond sticking a piece of paper over their desk. I am not one for tattoos but these are amazing and touching examples of how words can go straight to the soul -

Words from the poem "Tulips"

These images can be found at the following link

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

B is for Blog

This one is from The Doubtful Guest

This is from The Gashlycrumb Tinies

All of these images were sourced from various spots on Google. Obviously, I don't own them, so please contact me if there are any problems associated with their use here.

Very recently and quite by accident I have discovered the brilliant work of American illustrator and author Edward Gorey. Last week I found a book of postcards of his drawings in an op-shop for 50 cents. Completely quirky and eccentric to the point of being rather surreal, I absolutely love his drawings. I especially like his use of rather upright and prim looking Victorian people in bizarre situations. And I think I may be in love with the famed Gorey Cat.

What do you think?

Monday, August 29, 2011

I want candy

Absolutely beautiful Spring weather yesterday (though we have a few more days of winter to go). I went out into the backyard and was completely dazzled by the blossom on our fruit trees which seem to have really come out in force over the past couple of days. For some reason the delicate, sweetly pretty and light-as-air petals of the blossom put me in mind of the frivolous, pastel-coloured decadence of the 'shoes and candy' scene from the film Marie Antoinette. One of those films you either liked or loathed I think, I enjoyed the spectacle of it while suspending disbelief and without weighing myself down too much with concerns about historical accuracy! I saw it in the cinema one New Years Eve and then again on TV while we were in Oslo. Lots of fun (until the Revolution, of course).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fields of Rye and Cornflowers

I am still feeling rather under the weather, so again my post will be fairly brief! I have seen the lovely photographs of turn-of-the-century rural Russia before but Tiny Happy reminded me of them this morning with a link. This is a field of rye and cornflowers in the early 1900s. Do head over to the link and check it out for yourself - the full image is so lovely (

Thank you so much for all your kind suggestions for battling sinusitis. Much appreciated! Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A brief pause and some bloggy goodness

A brief post today because I have sinusitis and so am feeling a bit sniffly, headachey, ever so slightly grumpy and generally under the weather. I just wanted to mention that the very talented Sefarina over at Windleben is holding a great blog candy raffle of one of her beautiful pieces of art. Head on over and check it out (but please don't win because I want to - haha) -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Good Things

Spring is here! Or at least, very, very close. A beautiful day today - bright blue skies, beaming sunshine and a warm rub on the back whenever you go outside. My dear mum picked the bouquet above from her garden and gave it to me to celebrate spring. In one of my grandma's vases, I think it sums the current cheerful mood up very nicely!


Fabulous op-shopping today and quite unexpectedly so. I needed to go to the bank and the chemist and so I popped into two regular and but always terribly fruitful thrifting haunts, only to emerge with a quite considerable bag full of goodies. Not least of which was three of the quite collectible and deliciously vintage Shirley Flight and Sally Baxter books. I am looking forward to reading these, though Sally's expression on the cover of The Holiday Family worries me slightly. She looks a little too pleased about that caravan careening down the cliff.


My cardigan has changed from being in a muted grey after the cheap wool debacle to a rich variety of hues (it's advertised as being faux fairisle). It's slow going because I have had a flare-up of tendonitis in my wrist but I am enjoying just knit, knit, knitting in garter stitch.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In Praise of Grannies

It may be getting warmer (slowly) and in fact in sounds like we have a pretty lovely weekend on the way weather-wise but cosy, warm dishes are still on our food agenda. Last night I made the Sweetcorn Chowder from Natalie Oldfield's Gran's Family Table. I love the concept of this book - recipes inspired and collected from her gran, Dulcie May Booker. You can find out more here - There are a number of recipe books around our house which belonged to my Grandma - some even handwritten - and they are really precious to me.

The chowder was good - and there's enough left over for lunch (yay!) - but I'm not sure that this photo quite does it justice. If I was a food stylist I'm sure I would have at least wiped around the edge of the bowl!

50g butter
4 small sized onions, diced (I used two)
4 medium sized potatoes
4 tomatoes, diced (I used one fresh tomato and a can of tomatoes)
800g creamed corn
1 litre chicken stock

Melt butter into large saucepan. Add onions and fry for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add corn and stock. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Serves 6-8.

I think the sausage pie might be my next venture from this book. Mmmmm! Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Once Upon A Time...

Ivan Bilibin, The Firebird from Vassilissa the Beautiful
Image sourced from

The image above and those that follow are all from Vassilissa the Beautiful. Individual titles weren't always listed.
Image sourced from

Image sourced from

Image sourced from

Vassilissa in the Forest

I love to discover new music. There are always old favourites but I still feel a sort of teenage excitement upon finding something new to listen to. Yesterday, by way of the often convoluted path that I take through the tangled web of the Net, I discovered In Gowan Ring, a one-man acoustic group (can one man be a group?) from either the US or Canada. He's been on heavy rotation by way of You Tube since then. Check him out if you like your music folky.

The slightly otherworldly sound of In Gowan Ring has put me in mind of fairytales and in particular one of my favourite fairytale illustrators, Ivan Bilibin (Russian, 19th-20th centuries). Beautiful, surreal and slightly sinister. Like all good folk stories and fairytales.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Round our way

The skies are still rather foreboding around here at the moment. It is windy today, cold and spattering rain.

As always though, there is the comfort of thrifted goodies! I found this plate at a flea market in Copenhagen and I think I have finally found the right spot for it. I'm not sure that I want to find a spot, though. Once everything is put away, the holiday really is over!

I have also developed a strange penchant for thrifting ceramic money-bank pigs. The one above is a souvenir of Munich and the one below California (clearly). Such cheery little fellows!

And spring is on its way. The plum tree is beginning to blossom...always a lovely sign as the seasonal wheel turns.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday bites

So now we know what happened to all those 50s girls and women without wasp-thin, Betty Draper waists. This is another horror from what I'm now referring to as the 'when vintage goes bad' advertisements (see last week for a couple more). I have often wondered what women who didn't have tiny waists or couldn't pour themselves into girdles actually did for clothes...they were given the depressing and all too probably demoralising title of a 'chubbie', it seems.


Deliciously simple fried rice on the cooker last night. Boil rice then fry it up with sliced bacon, spring onion, red capsicum, egg and soy sauce. Just comfortingly right for a day beleaguered by a sinusitis-borne headache.


My cardigan knit has ground to a halt - scuppered by lousy wool that is fuzzing up already. As I said yesterday, I will order some better quality wool from the Bendigo Woollen Mills but does anyone have any other suggestions as well?


Some deliciously good sunshine today and the loveliest warm breeze greeted me when I opened the front door this morning. It's clouding over now but spring is definitely sniffing our shoes.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Making It Handmade

I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Making it Handmade last night, a short film by Anna Brownfield focusing on the Melbourne's local craft scene. As well as being really encouraged by the number of crafty folk there obviously are around town, it gave me a lot of food for thought about what crafting in the twenty-first century actually is about - and it's quite a long way from the common cry that crafters want to be like 1950s housewives. Certainly crafting women today are reclaiming the skills of other generations but because they choose to, not because they have to because it is their perceived womanly duty (to paraphrase Gemma Jones, who was one of the interviewees).

As an extension of this, I am thinking today about how I can make what I make in more environmentally friendly ways and with more of the 'cottage industry' ethos in mind. As it was pointed out by Rayne Fahey (again to paraphrase), there's not much point going to the trouble of making it handmade with cheap acrylic wool from China when there is gorgeous local wool products to be had (from the Bendigo Woollen Mills, for example, as was also pointed out - I've just been to their website - beautiful looking yarn)

So my thoughts at the moment are crafting with more of a conscience - not just moving away from buying to making by buying to make. It might cost a little more, I don't know yet, but I'll try buying more local supplies and even perhaps making my own beads for my jewellery making. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Ironically enough, all this coincided with a visit to an enormous local shopping mall yesterday, which my husband and I emerged from irritable and dismayed by the buy, buy, buy mentality.

What do you think?

PS Making It Handmade will still be on ABC 2 I-View if you live locally.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let's get Hygge

From Bombshell Bettie's Vintage

From Thrush

From Mrs P's Brain

From jenniejune

From Chisholm Block

From Bombshell Bettie's Vintage

From Pineapplemint

When we were in Bergen, I kind of got a little bit obsessed with traditional handknitted Norwegian jumpers (sweaters). There are a number of shops offering them along the main shopping area there (the Bryggen) and I went into one shop in particular several times to admire their wares. I had already bought four pairs of wool socks there (which are the best socks I have ever worn in my life) but they also had the most gorgeous jumpers and cardigans. As you know I am something of a handknit nut anyway but these ones were something else. The colours and patterns were so lovely, the knit so perfectly nubby to the touch. But...they were about $400 a pop. So, no sale.

Now, my knitting is getting along. Kinda. In fact, the cardigan I mentioned starting yesterday, started well last night. But I am not hopeful of knitting a Norwegian style jumper anytime soon. So, I turn in a familiar direction - the world of vintage. Etsy has a number of beautiful vintage Norse style knits for sale and while they are not up in the hundreds of dollars, they are still fairly pricey to send from the US and Europe to Australia (fair enough too, these things are heavy with woolley goodness). Thus, I am pondering, vacillating and generally umming and ahhing and all the while hoping that one of these delicacies will surface in my local op shop. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When Vintage goes bad...

My husband just emailed through some old adverts that someone sent him and while some are really quite funny, others are just kinda creepy...


I have a real desire to knit at the moment. I have become a lot more interested in knitting this year and I am learning a lot about it - different tensions, different stitches, different sized needles. I have even finally taught myself how to cast on! But now I want to knit something substantial but it's got to be simple. My adventures in moss stitch and to a lesser extent purl have been holey disasters so far. What I'm thinking is a garter stitch cardigan for myself. What do you think? Garter stitch I have down pat and making something for myself will give me (ahem) plenty of motivation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The inner pictures of the soul

The Dance of Life


Two Human Beings


I bought so many souvenir postcards while we were away. I have no idea what I'll do with them all. But they are lovely to look at, nonetheless. I found the little paper bag with the Edvard Munch postcards in it yesterday, from Oslo's Munch-Museet. Often bleak but in spite of this - or because of it - rather amazing and singular in appearance and style.

"Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye... it also includes the inner pictures of the soul."
~ Edvard Munch

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Some pretty calendula to brighten up an otherwise grey day.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Posh Nosh

Do you like restaurants? I have been to some wonderful ones, but I am always a little bit skeptical of them when they have received 'rave reviews' in the newspapers. I like to decide whether it's a good restaurant for myself. Silly, I know. Having written a few book reviews over the years though, I do feel that reviews are such subjective things. Last night, we went - on the the suggestion of the others in our party - to one of the restaurants that is currently very popular. Nothing fundamentally wrong with the food but such small portions for the cost. Perhaps nouvelle cuisine is another 80s fad that's made a comeback! And paying extra for any sort of accompaniment (and I do mean any sort - not even so much as a lettuce leaf)? Ouch! A little mean spiritedness there in my opinion. But perhaps there's something about such dining experiences that I just don't get. It wouldn't be the first time! I'd love to know what you think - and do feel free to tell me if think I'm being an old curmudgeon!!


What did tickle my taste buds was the dish I made from Smorgasbord & Scandinavian Cooking by Ingrid Svenson (1974) on Saturday night. I had a go at 'Pork with Apples or Pears', replacing the pork with chicken and opting for apples and pears. I fried up some sliced chicken fillets, golden delicious apples and packham pears, set the lot cooking and then added sultanas. I used olive oil and butter to cook it all in - I thought butter might help it poach a little more. I have always been a little undecided about meat/fruit combos but I think the trick is to let the fruit cook thoroughly and get lovely and soft - rather than being reminded of crunching into an apple while also having a mouthful of chicken! The end result - served with boiled potatoes - went down very well, with my sweet husband even going up for seconds. This afternoon, if I get time, I think I will give Cheesecake Slice from the same book a go.

What was on your table this weekend?

PS Have you seen Posh Nosh, the wonderful cooking show satire with Richard E Grant? -

Friday, August 5, 2011

Right here, right now

Two of my favourite blogs, Soulemama ( and Another Beautiful Day ( have both recently listed what they are doing right now, what is occupying and fulfilling them in this present moment. I am trying to learn to live much more in the present moment, and so I give you what's up in the Yellow Wood right now -

Playing:: With beads, yarn and thread. Lots of stuff in the craft basket at the moment but nothing actually getting finished because I am flitting from one project to the next like a drunken bee.

Listening:: To atmospheric to the point of spooky music from Wardruna and delightfully silly and cheerful 80s pop by turn, depending on my mood.

Looking:: At the first delicious little flickers of spring in the garden. The lemons, although traditionally winter bloomers, are leading the charge.

Learning:: About making jewellery. I am considering taking a TAFE course in it. I want to get soldering - oh yeah!

Helping:: Or at least trying to help my poor hard-working and sleep-deprived husband and my dear mum who has just had her cataracts operated on.

Reading:: Spoilt for choice as I mentioned the other day. Lucky Jim is the next one off the shelf.

So what about you?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bueller? Bueller?

I know, I we go on the 80s again. I must be getting old. We spent large tracts of our youth quoting from this film - Ferris Bueller's Day Off - and especially from this scene. Do you remember it?

And I know, I we go with the op-shopping again but I found this cute little stick-pin (above - sorry for the placement - Blogger is being naughty again) the other day and it got me thinking about how they just don't make stick-pins anymore. I had heaps of them in the 80s. Not quite as delicate and ladylike as this one, though. More your Snoopy stick pin. If you really like it, you'll also find it in my Etsy store -

Other than the usual 80s fashion suspects, can you think of anything you used to wear all the time that they just don't seem to make anymore (with the exception of fluorescent ankle socks obviously)?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If only Paddington Bear lived with us

A couple of years ago I found some books in an op-shop called A Glut of Apricots and Peaches and A Glut of...(something else I can't remember). They were by Ann Carr. Well, I wish there had been A Glut of Citrus Fruit too because that is exactly what we have here in the Yellow Wood at the moment! Our lemon and grapefruit trees are going quite mad (who knew winter was their season??) and we have said fruit everywhere. My dear sweet husband made about a dozen jars of lovely three-fruit marmalade on Monday night but we still have citrusy goodness all over the kitchen and plopping ripely to the ground outside. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thieving Tuesday

I'm being a bit of a web bandit today. Librarygirl over at Living in the kingdom of too much has posted two things lately which I have keenly seized upon and bring to you today. The first is a list of unread (and half-read) books which are lurking around my living room at the moment ( I really do want to read them but in the evenings I find my attention is distracted by knitting, stitching or that great evil of mind-numbingness...the tv. So, in no particular order, here is what I am yet to get to -

Robert Rankin, The hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse (half-read)
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
Geraldine Brooks, March
Ronald Hayman, The death and life of Sylvia Plath
Avi, The Mayor of Central Park

Not to mention the books that call to me from the bookshelves every time I walk past -

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
Margaret Atwood
, The Blind Assassin

And the book that went all the way to Scandinavia and didn't get read (how was I distracted by tv in a language I don't understand??)

P.C. Cast, Goddess of Legend

The other thing is this gorgeous item which I have coveted ever since seeing it on the dear Miss Amy Dorrit in the recent BBC series Little Dorrit. Now (and then) referred to as a Sontag, in the 19th century it was also rather sweetly called a bosom friend -

Librarygirl has very kindly included the link to the pattern she used - As a novice knitter I am freaking out at the sight of this pattern ever so slightly but I'll give it a go because I so want one! And just to get me (and you!) in the mood, here is the beautiful opening theme from the recent tv version of Little Dorrit -

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sunshine on a Monday makes me happy

Well, the raspberry cake was a total success - much more moist than the Daffodil cake and tastier too. And who doesn't love a cake that's pink in the middle?


I have now got the soda bread making down to a fine(ish) art...there was nothing for lunch yesterday so I said I'd make bread. We were eating it an hour later!


We're having a little bit of sunshine at the moment (though I can see grey clouds gathering from the study window...) and I am celebrating by throwing windows open and listening to stupidly cheerful 80s music. What do you when the sun comes out?