Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Menu Australian style and a White Jacket Rant

Like most of the planet it would seem I will be watching the Royal Wedding tonight.

The Wedding will be telecast in the evening here which makes it ideal timing to watch with an English style meal.  I have been a bit slack and instead of inventing dishes or looking through cookbooks, I just trawled the Internet for some Royal Wedding inspired dishes which are not too hard to cook.


First up is a chilled cucumber soup with garlic prawns, in a nod to the very English tradition of cucumber sandwiches.   It is not exactly the weather here for cold soup, but needs must.  

 To me there is nothing more English than lamb and peas.  Which suits me because it is also a quintessentially Australian dish.   I have been eating lots of lamb lately in a probably forlorn attempt to boost my red blood cells.  My favourite way to have lamb is as 
cutlets or possibly a rib eye.  To go with this, the pea dish below, possibly some asparagus (also very English) and some boiled new potatoes with lots of butter and Malden salt. 

This is a dish of peas, mint and salted yogurt (which can be substituted with goats cheese). 

Dessert is a bit tricky.  I have found a lovely recipe by naughty Sophie Dahl for rice pudding with plum compote but I fear rice pudding may just be a bit English boarding school.   Perhaps summer pudding with lots of beautiful berries would be better.  I think the most traditional dessert would be Eton Mess but I am not in the meringue making mode today. 

Finally, to drink.   I don't drink spirits but this is my metaphorical tipple today - elderflower and gin sherbert.     


Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, is invited to the wedding.   Ms Gillard is very very fond of distracting, unflattering, flappy white jackets.  It may seem to a casual observer that she just wears the same one all the time, but in fact she has 9 (yes 9) different ones.  Here are two of them.   I think that sometime in the past someone told her she looks great in that white jacket, and she has taken the message to heart. 

So my message is:  Please do not wear a white jacket to the Royal Wedding.  Please.   It seems that this issue is of major concern to many bloggers, perhaps we need to get a life?!  See Mrs Woog's take on it here

And before I am accused of being sexist for commenting on a female politician's clothes when I wouldn't on a man's clothes, let me say this:  any professional person should dress in a way which does not distract from the message they are delivering. That applies in all spheres.   Yes, it is easy for men to wear suits, but it is equally easy for women to wear simply stylish non distracting clothes which fit (case in point: Senator Penny Wong).  I am not criticising our PM's taste (although it is dubious), I am criticising the way her clothes don't fit her, and distract from what she does.   And if a male PM wore bell bottoms, a brown suit and a plaid tie with a mullet haircut (which I think is the male equivalent of some of Ms Gillard's outfits), then that person would be equally criticised. 

Enjoy the wedding......

(Images: (1) BBC Food (2) (3) Notebook (4) BBC Food (5) Jamie Oliver))


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Copycatting Sequins and Frills

Although I do a lot most of my clothes shopping online, I still would like to support local designers.   And I do, as much as possible.   And I, like anyone, love the convenience of visiting a local boutique and picking up a lovely knitted top or some such.   (My husband jokes that I have enough 'little knitted tops' to stock a whole store and that lots of $79 tops do add up to quite a sum over the years) 

I popped into Witchery yesterday to be confronted by a sea of biscuit, buff, beige, dark caramel, mushroom, sand, taupe, umber, ochre and khaki.    It was really quite frightening.   

In fact I think what has happened is that Witchery and Country Road have hired a colour consultant from the Australian Defence Force, who has bulk dipped all the new seasons range of clothes into big vats of their uniform dyes.   Who wants to get around looking like an army off cast?   Or as if you have stepped off the set of a Bruce Willis action thriller set in Iraq?  I don't.   

The only people who can wear these kinds of clothes are lithe olive skinned Eve Mendes types.  Not me.

But the fact that Witchery looks like an army disposals store wasn't the most alarming thing about my visit. The most alarming thing was this:

(Witchery new season) 

(J Crew last season and also still available in slightly new design new season)

(J Crew Last season - Witchery also have something like this but I have no image for it) 

Then I went into the new Kids section and found these:

(Witchery new season girls tulle skirt)

(J Crew girls tulle skirt)

 (Witchery girls zip through top)

(J Crew girls wave cardigan)

Let me be clear: I know that there are very few new ideas in fashion. I am sure it is a hard slog churning out a range four or five times a year, and these hard working designers need to source their inspiration in lots of different places.  And that may include a High Street retailer from the US.  I also know very well there is no copyright in an idea, and ideas are everywhere, just waiting to be adapted and changed.   And people ripping off J Crew is not a new controversy - see here for example.

And of course no doubt the original idea for a sequiny T shirt came not from J Crew but from the Lanvin catwalk or some such. I guess I just feel oh so slightly affronted. I want to support these Australian businesses.   But when there is no longer any style differentiation between these brands and the cheaper (often better made) US ones then the decision kind of makes itself doesn't it? 

It may just be me. I could blame the chemo for making my brain really annoyed by obvious creativity bypasses.  Or do you agree? 

Weird Chemo Side Effect no 2: my hair has started growing back!! Only half way through chemo too.  It may yet fall out again, but it is kind of exciting. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Morning in The Life Of...

6.45 am - Small Ironman son runs into our bedroom shouting 'Is it morning is it morning is it morning?'  My usual response: 'It isn't morning until mummy says it is' doesn't cut the mustard anymore. Small Ironman climbs into our bed for a cuddle.   Lies on his back wide awake asking questions about his day and telling us about Tom and Alex and other little friends in a loud non-morning voice.   

6.50 am - Run to Pharmaceutical Cornucopia (PC) on kitchen bench and take one tablet of PSK (which is otherwise known as Trammune or Trametes Versicolor (a kind of common mushroom) and must be eaten 30 mins before food).

6.52 am - Have shower.  Showers are quite fun at moment, with almost no hair.   I don't have to worry about getting it too wet.  Or washing it hardly ever.  And the water feels lovely on my head.  Son sits and talks to me in non-morning voice whilst I shower.  Son has no volume knob, it seems, so I have given up asking him to use inside voice.

7.00 am - Get dressed into clothes laid out night before.  Son very concerned I am dressed before him. 'Are you going to work today?' I tell him going to hospital to have more bad medicine.  'Oh' he says, losing interest immediately.  'Can I watch some TV now?'

7.05 am - Return to PC and take 3 tablets of Reishi, another kind of mushroom.    This is in tablet form because fresh Reishi not cleared to come from Japan yet due to earthquake.  Get son milk to drink whilst the Avengers is on.
7.08 am - Make peanut butter on toast for son.   Present toast to son.  Son cries because toast not in exact square shape.   Cut crusts off to make squarer.   Present for second time. Son says he has changed mind and now wants Vegemite and 'yellow butter' on an exact square toast shape.  I ask 'are you serious?' Son laughs demonically, his little kiss curl hanging over his forehead in manner of nursery rhymne boy.

7.12 am - Gargle with some Maldon salt dissolved in water.  This is to prevent ulcers.

7.14 am - Go into daughter's bedroom.  Daughter sound asleep and spread out across bed with bed coverings all askew, university student style.  Daughter is only 8 though.  Tell her time to get up.  Bribe her with toast and raspberry and vanilla jam.  Daughter moans and says not hungry and really really tired.  Wonder what daughter will be like as 13 year old.  Or 18 year old.

7.16 am - Take one tablet of green conifer needle oil.    I take these three times a day.  They prevent thrush and so far have worked really well.

7.18 am - Give Pepper the cat breakfast.    Pepper smells his breakfast disdainfully (it's too cold) and walks away, tail held high.

7.20 am - Ask son why he has not eaten second breakfast.  He says he has changed mind again and doesn't want his square toast.  I say 'I am not a restaurant.  Or a cafe.  Or even a greasy spoon type place desperate for customers.   No more breakfasts'.  Son's bottom lip starts to stick out.  I offer him Greek yogurt with passion fruit. Son smiles and says 'Yummy yes please'.

7.22 am Take
Codonopsis.  This is a Chinese herb known as poor man's ginseng, which can strengthen the immune system and help white and red blood cell counts. I take it as an extract dripped into a glass of water.

7.25 am - Re-enter teenage style daughter's room and turn light up really bright and tell her it is definitely absolutely time to get up.   And breakfast is on table and getting cold.

7.27 am - Eat cereal, half heartedly because it doesn't taste of much, just a cardboardy texture.  Drink beetroot and carrot juice.  Appreciate again the magic of the pointless huge juicer my mother gave me 4 years ago which now gets lots of use.

7.30 am - Take little homeopathic ball thing. Suck slowly.  Not sure what this is for, to be perfectly honest. Stare a little resentfully at husband sitting in relaxed fashion at kitchen bench reading IPad.

7.32 am - Do makeup.  Cover freckles with lots of Nars foundation.  Use really excellent Chantecaille magical skin creams for chemo skin.  Think again how much I love Mecca Cosmetica and the lady who has sold me all this great stuff.
7.40 am - Hear husband asking daughter to get out of bed.   Hear husband forcing her to get dressed.  Hear husband spending lots of time picking correct cream socks for her, and getting the seams around the right way and the shoe buckles done up tight enough (otherwise they 'hurt').

7.45 am - Put wig on, ruffle it and smile.

7.50 am - Dress son.  Persuade son that he can't wear Batman, Spiderman, Soldier or Superman costume to kindergarten. Son says loudly 'I am NOT wearing long sleeves ever. I am NEVER cold'. 
Allow son to wear shorts and short sleeved T shirt even though quite cold outside.  Grab small backpack shove in lunchbox and dump at door.    Grab daughter's lunch box shove in school bag and dump at door.

7.52 am - Drink lovely coffee made by husband.  Think about how looking forward to sitting down for three hours during chemo.  Notice daughter has not touched her breakfast.  

7.55 am - Assemble handbag must haves including Kindle, IPhone, wallet, book with cancer notes, cards, invoices, receipts, referrals etc.  Put nail polish in bag.  Take nail polish out again, concerned doing nails during chemo might appear flippant.  Decide do not care because never otherwise sit still for long enough to do nails.    

7.57 am - Go into daughter's bedroom to check she is ready to go.  She is sitting on the floor counting her pocket money. 'Mummy will the shops accept pence? What about Bali money?  What about Singapore money? Where can we exchange it?'  Then she shows me the rearrangement of her wardrobe, with lined up shoes in rainbow order.  Then shows me her redecoration of the dolls house, with a new piano room, and an outdoor camping area. Then remember we have forgotten PE bag and Library bag and cello and piano books.  Feel pleased am not dragging all that to school.  Wonder about possible deterioration of daughter's back when she is older. 

8.00 am - Gently heat up one cup of Chinese herbal drink, painstakingly made by me every three days.  This needs to be drunk half an hour after food.  My Chinese doctor has told me the ingredients but as he just wrote out the Chinese names they don't mean much to me.   Helps my digestion no end, however. Drink it quickly because doesn't taste very nice.  Feel pleased taste buds not very effective at the moment.

8.01 am - Kiss all and sundry good bye and drive to East Melbourne for chemo

(This morning was brought to you by my homeopath and Chinese Doctor and Percy, Imogen and Martin.)  
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