Monday, August 30, 2010

Wandering about Whiteley

I have recently been spending a bit of time with a medical professional who has a reproduction of this painting in her rooms.

Brett Whiteley needs no introduction to most Australians, being one of the most successful, award winning and prolific artists of the 20th century.

This Archibald Prize winning 'Self Portrait' was painted in 1974.  That is the artist in the mirror.  Through the window to the left is his beloved Sydney Harbour and in the foreground a distorted odalisque in the manner of Matisse.   I could look at this painting for hours and hours.   Brett Whitely died, alone, of a heroin overdose in a motel near Woolongong in 1992 at the age of 53.  He flies in the fact of my visual artists live long lives theory.   

He said 'art is an argument between what a thing looks like and what it means'.

Here he is in the 1960s with his wife Wendy and their only daughter Arkie:

Arkie was a beautiful woman, creative and gentle.  She is famous for appearing as an actress in Mad Max, and for zealously guarding her father's legacy.  She died of adrenal cancer in 2001 at the age of 37. I remember seeing a story about her in one of my mother's Australian Vogues in the early 80's with a feature on her completely white and pastel apartment in London.  White and shabby chic long before everyone else started doing it.

The only one left in this little family was Wendy Whiteley.  She said this:

“you can go two ways with grief. I could have given up and slid into an abyss of depression, or become suicidal…..I just felt an overwhelming desire to do something positive…doing something creative, right here, would be the most freeing thing I could do”.

So Wendy created a garden at Lavender Bay in Sydney.  She planned and designed it and has cared for it for years now.   The garden is not hers, it is on public land.  But it is known to locals as Wendy's Secret Garden. 

The garden was overgrown and unkempt and filled with old railway parts and carriages.   This tree is a Moreton Bay fig, a wonderful climbing tree which is prolific in Sydney.  Willy wagtails, kookaburras and parrots chirp and chatter away whilst magical bendy paths go hither and thither.  This is secret Sydney at its best.  Surrounded by high rise buildings, a little place of peace.

How wonderful is her positive and creative approach to the vicissitudes and tragedies which life has thrown her way?

(Images: (1) Gallery of NSW (2) John (3) The Age (4)(5)


Friday, August 27, 2010

196th Post - Cath Kidston Giveaway

I wasn't planning on doing a giveaway for this post.

(outside of case)

But life got in the way.  What happened was this (in chronological order).

1. Some weeks ago, I ordered a Cath Kidston IPhone case from the UK.

2. My replacement work IPhone to replace the one I dropped and smashed developed a completely battery that wouldn't charge.

3. I got new replacement IPhone and IT ordered me a new IPhone 4 (presumably stop all the property damage).  They said the new phone might 'take a while' to arrive.  I promptly forgot all about my pending new phone.

4. I had small but terse email tiff with Cath Kidston over slowness of delivery of my order.  ('How can you charge so much and take so long to deliver your stuff? Australia is not the moon' That kind of tiff.)

5. My new IPhone case finally arrived on Wednesday (I do generally find that things arrive the day after a complaint about slow mail service is made).  Hooray.  It was beautiful and fit snugly.

6. I enjoyed my IPhone case for 1 whole day.

7. On Thursday my IPhone 4 arrived.  I then discovered that my 24 hour old IPhone case does not fit new IPhone.

8. I cried.   Well not really, after all it's only a phone case.

So, here's the deal.

If you want this amazing case -  used for one day only - it is very simple.  

(inside of case)

This is what you need to do:

1. Leave a comment below. 

2. Become a follower if you are not already.

3. Live anywhere in the world.

I will draw it in 7 days.  

Happy Weekend. xoxo

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Rainbow Gratin

My attraction to this dish could be to do with my obsession with rainbow things.  Or it could be because chard is a relative of silverbeet, and silverbeet is my first (green vegetable) love.

How beautiful does this vegetable look? I love it.

Anyway I am making a special effort to cook lots of recipes from Nigel Slater's Tender.  Rather than elaborate meat and sauce dishes, I am going through a little phase of plainly grilled meat with interesting vegetable dishes.   Last night, I cooked this gratin, with some Canary Island potatoes (kipfler potatos boiled then sauteed in their skins until wrinkled, served with mojo picon - a roasted capsicum sauce) and with a simple fried chicken breast.  Quite the reverse of my usual approach to cooking, at least with non-Asian dishes.  

Here is a rainbow chard gratin, which is easy, cancer beating (so they say but then by the time you find out it's too late isn't it), and makes me happy.

450g rainbow chard (leaves and stems)
1 cup thickened cream
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
Freshly grated parmesan

Wash and chop the stems into little squares. Boil some water, lightly salt it, and cook the stems until just tender,. This step is super important because they must not be undercooked.  Dip the leaves into the boiling water until they wilt.  Drain the chard. If the leaves are huge, chop them a bit.  Mix the cream and mustard together in a bowl.  Put the chard into a buttered gratin dish, top with cream, mix gently, top with parmesan and then bake in 180 over until browned on top.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inspiration Boards for Children

I have been looking for a place to keep all of the various odds and ends which seem to scatter themselves around the house and thought I would do an inspiration board for the children.

I wanted to use Homasote, as demonstrated by Ally in her divine board.  Unfortunately Homasote is a proprietary product only made in the US.

If you want to give a manly supply person from Bunnings a good laugh, call them and ask them if they stock Homasote, as I did.     I then looked at soft board and other types of board.  I then gave up and bought two cork boards from Office Works for $20 each.

They were the wrong size (rectangular rather than square), so I had to cut them down.

I felt that our scary saw was worth a photo.  I have used it before  but I have never before noticed the supreme irony of its packaging.  Yes that is right, it has a graphic image of a crocodile on the cover, and yes it is called 'The Irwin'.    I felt that was rather bad taste but at least the animal featured is not a sting ray.

Once I cut the cork board down I stapled my fabrics around the back, making sure to pull them very tight as I went.

This fabric is an Alexander Henry by Kelani. I thought it had a touch of Jonathan Adler about it.

And here they are completed.

I haven't finished pinning bits and pieces to them, but here they are now.

This was really quite an easy project, and the children love them...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fabric covered thumb tacks....

I have looked and looked and cannot find any decent pins or tacks for my inspiration boards.  It is a real gap in the market.   I was beginning to think maybe it was me, not the global market for ugly thumbtacks, when I found a couple of tutorials on how to cover them in fabric.

This felt a bit Christo-esque and weird, but I think they look pretty good.  

A quick trip to to buy self covering button at Lincraft later, here they are:

I am particularly pleased that I managed to get the babushka face on to one of them, 

The original idea came from here

An Australian adaptation is here.  I think on reflection I really need to make buttons bigger so the tack head fits inside.  Maybe next time.

I do wonder to what ends one would go to cover up ugliness in pretty fabric?  I may have reached my personal limit here. 

And the day after a Federal election in Australia where we probably have a hung Parliament and potentially months of political uncertainty, I think these little pointy tacks, enticing on one side and prickly on the other, are very apt for the times.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Pretty

I bought the August \ September copy of Vogue Living yesterday.

Of course whilst I am not buying any magazines for a year, I make an exception for this one because I post it to Raina in Colorado.   So it is not really for me.    Incidentally, I had a real magazine buying urge on the weekend and I sated it by looking at the Vanity Fair website.   Easy.    

I don't know what has happened to Vogue Living but it is much improved.  Well I do know actually, they have relaunched it and have a relatively new editor.   It is thicker (over 1 centimetre - wow!) and mercifully not nearly as Sydneycentric as it has been in the past.

(Did you know my husband invented the term 'Sydneycentric'? Every time we hear it in the media or in conversation he says to me 'I invented that term 20 years ago.  And I get no credit for it at all'.  But I digress).

This Vogue Living has a feature on John Derian's two homes, and a special on Istanbul, including the home of a Turkish designer called Zeynep Fadillioglu.  This is a  bedroom in her house:

And then the south of France 'bolthole' of Jaqueline Morabito:

This bathroom..... I love the way the bath and basin are part of the walls and floor.

If I could have my way in my house all our walls would be rough plastered.  (Apologies for bluish pics, having tech problems today).

Even the entrance stairwell has the patina of age.

Happy weekend to you all.  Spring is coming to Melbourne and the sun is out and I have lots of little projects to do around the house this weekend.

And thanks for your thoughts and nice comments about my son's night terrors.  I have turned the heating off in his bedroom and it is making a huge difference.  He is cold, but happy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zombie Days and Inspiration Boards

Anyone with children will remember those first days, weeks and months of new life, when a tiny little sweet smelling but slightly alien like bundle of squishyness first enters your world.  Those drained, dazed days where you stumble from one incompetently carried out task to another, desperate for sleep but still buoyed by the love you feel for this little creature.

With children of 3 and 7 I thought those days were gone.   But I now have a son who almost never sleeps for more than a couple of hours at a time. 

And it is not that he is not trying to sleep.  But he is interrupted by nightmares and night terrors.   

Both of my children have had night terrors.  If you don't know what they then you are fortunate.   My husband gets them too.   Wikipedia gives this description:

night terror, also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder characterized by extreme terror and a temporary inability to regain full consciousness. The subject wakes abruptly from slow-wave sleep, with waking usually accompanied by gasping, moaning, or screaming while waking. It is often impossible to awaken the person fully because they are so concentrated on waking, and after the episode the subject normally settles back to sleep without waking. A night terror can rarely be recalled by the subject. 

So, little P has these, and then also has trouble getting back to proper sleep, and then wakes hourly, it seems, and has a cough, and talks and sings in his sleep.  And gets very overtired, and then we start again the next night.

It is one thing to have no sleep when one has a little baby and is not working. It is quite another to try to function at work and look after other children and run a house on no sleep.    

I think that half his problem is that he has a big heart and a very very active imagination, filled with Bionicles, dinosaurs, bad robots, good robots and all things in between.  I need to find a way to calm him down, to slow down his mind so that bed time becomes a time of peace and calm.   

One idea I have is to remove all Merlin style stimulants pre bedtime.  Maybe I have let him get too involved in playing Knights and Horses, or robots fighting but he is just such a boy that he loves to be this way.

I thought I might use the idea of the ubiquitous inspiration board (and I do mean ubiquitous - Google it to find exactly 1 trillion happy wedding inspiration boards) to create a little place in his room where all the calm gentle things he loves have a place.

I love these three dimensional textural boards, and I thought I might try this for P:

I think rather than being inspirational, these are more like memory boards.   It might include a special drawing, some shells found at the beach, photos of family, tiny toys and other little treasures. 

This last one, by Cobi Ladner, makes me think of Anna Spiro's style. 

So, a plea from a desperate lady.  Apart from making sure he is not getting overtired, do any of you have tips on how to manage night terrors and nightmares in a 3.5 year old? 

(Images (1) House and Home (3) SculptressStudio.Blogspot (4) (5) StaceyStyleFiles.Wordpress (6) Thomas OBrien via Paloma 81) 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Winter Series - Cashmere and Orchid Oil

I have been so caught up with other things that I have neglected to finish off my Winter Series.

In this one, clothes and smooth skin.

When I was packing for our recent winter holiday, I noticed something slightly embarrassing very striking about my clothes.

They are almost all grey.   5 years ago they would have all been black.  Now grey dominates.   How many grey cardigans and scarves can one person reasonably have?

In my case quite a few.  Here is just a small cross section of what I have been wearing during this cold and exceptionally rainy winter:

So, along with my Year of No Rubbish Purchases comes a supplementary resolution - no more grey clothes. 

In case you still want some grey in your life, these are the places in Melbourne for grey cashmere and merino wool knitted things:

8 Inkerman (cashmere and cashmere on sale now)
Sambag (ballet shoes, bags and knits)
Skin and Threads (fantastic basics in plain colours, great quality)
Pink Zebra (US brands like Joie and J Brand and lots of cashmere)

If you are like me, you have skin which, alien like, peels off in sheets the minute the cold weather starts.  I have tried various lip balms over the last 20 years, and I can honestly say that this is the very very best.  

My other great discovery this winter is this facial oil.  My mother gave it to me for my birthday in March.  It sure beats the pink vinyl handbags she otherwise tends to give me.   (Sorry mum).  This stuff is amazing.  I don't know what blue orchids are, but they have stopped my alien skin peel in its tracks.  

I am now addicted to all things oily.  Any other face oil suggestions?  Let me have them. 

This is my last Winter Series post because the daffodils are out, and spring is in the air.  In spite of the drizzly endless rain.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flowery Florals in central London

The new edition of Lonny contains a story on Cath Kidston's London home. 

Now many seem to like that red living room. Others have some criticisms of this edition. I do like a good on-line evisceration, check out My Favourite and My Best and If the Lampshade Fits for some entertainment.

But what I liked the very most was this brilliant Mies Van Der Rohe style super modern extension to her old home.  I love the contrast between ancient and new, especially that view out onto the old brick wall. 

This part is not at all what I would expect of Ms Kidston.   Let's face it a little Cath Kidston goes a very long way.  I am glad she takes my advice and applies her lovely florals in moderation.  

I love glass boxes.   Partly because I live in one at home.  There is something about the combination of large walls of glass and a grassy outlook.  Here are two more I rather like:

Farnsworth House by Mies Van Der Rohe

The Glass House by Philip Johnson (1949)

The other room I loved was her master bedroom.  This is quite a conservative room, and I think that is okay.   It is still really restful, incorporates a wonderful antique really well, and still has little modern touches.  I can relate to this mainly because I actually don't want my bedroom to be faddy and super trendy.  I also agree with her view that the bedroom is a place for very special things.  Just don't keep them in your bedside table drawer.  That is very first place the burglars look.  Trust me, I know.

And this is her red living room which is certainly eye catching but am not sure I could live in it.  I like her art work though. 

Whenever I am in London I visit one of her shops.  She also ships to Australia, although the shipping costs are extortionate.  I tend to prefer her little bags and accessories rather than the major items like bedlinen.

In particular, I love her IPhone cases.  I have searched high \ low for one which will assist me to stop confusing my phone with everyone else's

I have also just ordered this wallpaper, to cover a hideous brown Ikea shelf in my daughter's room.    I am doing wallpaper outside, and paint inside the shelves.   Mainly because I think it will be easier.  I will show you once I have done it. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Sunny Spanish Fairytale

Once upon a time there was an Australian girl who travelled around continental Europe with a backpack, some sturdy shoes, a beaten up copy of Let's Go and a Walkman packed with up to the minute musical compositions by The The, Black Box, Nirvana and New Order. 

By and by she found herself sitting on a bench in Parco Sempione in central Milan, on a cold crisp blue day.   She spent some time wondering whether to visit the Dead Christ by Mantegna in the Brera, her favourite painting in the whole wide world, or perhaps some shopping in the Via Montenapoleone.

In spite of her father's admonition to never speak to strange men, she soon found herself chatting to a young man from Florence, in Milan on a weekend holiday.  They had much in common.  Soon they were travelling a little together, to Livorno,  Pisa and in Florence and walking everywhere in the cool crisp sunshine.  They spoke of books, and the strangeness of language, and philology, the study of historical linguistics and of corruption in Italian politics and the wonderful taste of salty cured meats.

(warm salad of roasted capsicum, onion, garlic and tomatoes)

Like all adventures, it had to end sometime. 

Melbourne seemed very boring and pedestrian on her return. A bit sad and lonely, the girl simply had to go back to Europe, this time to Madrid in winter, where the boy was now living, to stay in a little apartment near Calle de Toledo. The days were spent in the crisp blue coldness wandering around the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and shopping in Calle Serrano and the nights were spent dining at 11 pm, drinking gin and tonics and dancing till the sun came up.

(chicken in onion and sherry sauce, saffron rice)

There is a certain time of year in Melbourne, in August, when the sun shines, and the air is sweet, cold and clean.  It reminds the girl of that time in Madrid.   In memory of that time, the girl sometimes cooks a Spanish feast for lunch.

(sweet lemon doughnuts)

All dishes thanks to this cookbook, which is really growing on me:

The end.

(image (1) via La Femme Blog) 
Related Posts with Thumbnails