Over the last couple of weeks, the most mundane things around the house are making me sooky. The passionfruit vine, after all these years, giving me two passionfruit. The white jasmine overloaded with blooms. The view from the front window. My new back sitting room......... Then there is the other side. The messes I can't be bothered cleaning up. The unfinished paint job in the front room. Piles of paperwork everywhere. Boxes of buttons stacked in the kitchen. Half-finished leather bags scattered over the kitchen table. Unfolded washing piled everywhere........ Interestingly the 'con' list is rather long. Maybe that has to do with living somewhere for 16 years. It becomes more of an archeological dig than a home. Maybe I should get "Time Team" in to do a survey and dig a few trenches through the strata of my life. It would save having to sort everything and pack.
3 more sleeps........... (Not functioning very well.)
The trip to Bendigo also involved Castlemaine (where I got sprung/sprung people I knew at the Salvo op shop- my, we are all predictable!) and then on to 'pre-view' day at the Fryerstown Antique Market. Fryerstown is about 10km out of Castlemaine and is a tiny little hamlet along a curve in the road. The antique market pops up as a dusty tent city for about 4 days around the Mechanics Institute and is kind of like the better Camberwell Market stalls on steroids. Friday is the best day to go as it's kind of lazy and everyone is relaxed, it's crazy busy on the other 3 days. It was hot, dusty work though. Of course I forgot to go to the bank before I arrived (Fryerstown doesn't stretch to a hole-in-the-wall, in fact I don't even think it has a pub) so there was a limited budget. Seven art deco lightshades and 3 tin boxes later I stumbled back to the car. (There are 9 shades in the photo in case you think I can't count, already had 2 in the car.) Now need to find about another 10..........
Yesterday was a long day. There was a crew from Channel 10 in the studio filming a segment for All in a Day's Work (it's on the morning program). It took 4 hours, which in the scheme of things isn't that long but you wouldn't believe how tired and brain dead I was afterwards. So today, after a bit of business inn the morning, I got in the car and went to Bendigo- again. This time I remember to go to the Bendigo Art Gallery to see The Long Weekend- Australians in Paris exhibition. It is small but very well worth taking the trip to see. It might also be because I am total besotted with the whole between the wars era at the moment. The Agnes Goodsir portraits are just fabulous but I really fell in love with the Bessie Davidson interiors, in fact all the interiors painted by women artists are just luminous. The colours are so manky and subdued, teals, dirty greys, khakis and eau-de-nils offset with glowing corals, geranium reds and pinks and amazing inky blues. I want one!
Above is Hilda Rix Nicholas' studio and in the exhibition it is partnered with Bessie Davidson's studio painting (which I can't find an image of, so I've included Madame Roy instead), in amongst the muted male cityscapes they just sing.
Bendigo Art Gallery is one of those regional galleries that really put on a good show. The goldrush inspired purchases are a hoot, everything from over the top carved Australiana sideboards, Victorian Grand Tour marbles to one of the funniest- a painting by Herr Schmaltz, and it definitely was! Oh and for our dear Ramona, they have a delightful miniature on ivory of Madame du Barry. A really fine little gallery.
Even though I am about as wired as one can possibly be at the moment (in the strange place of just being unable to concentrate and over thinking and just sitting on my bed doing nothing staring into space and .............. you get the idea) I have managed to get a few things started. (There has been a few interruptions which I'll tell you about later in the week.) When I was away last week I spent up big on alpaca offcuts and spent monday and tuesday chopping and stitching. Have go 2 big throws ready to be backed, not totally sure with what yet, one is hanging on the wall over the leather machines. They are all shades of alpaca with 2 hand-dyed indigo blues as contrast. I like them, they have turned rather nice in the abstract department and I have to say even the backs look great (I forgot to take a photo....). Alpaca can often be quite scratchy but these have a really nice handle.
I think that's the way the quote goes (I will check later and revise if I need to). Everything with the shop, has so far been strangely easier. No fighting for the lease with 100 other people, no nasty negotiations, etc. Makes me somewhat fearful! There is however a spanner in the works over the name. Even though I did a search and checked it, the mighty Department of Justice, Consumer Affairs Victoria, Registration Branch has decided in their infinite wisdom that the name I have chosen is too much like another- so I am in the process of begging a review and putting up lots of sane and highly logical reasons as to how unlike the other and suitable my shop name is. Fingers crossed I don't get someone reviewing it who decides I'm teaching them how to suck eggs. I can write a good letter when I set my mind to it.
And yes I know that the rest of the quote is 'would smell as sweet' but sometimes its so hard to make a second choice.
Finally I can post the news. This is going to be my shop. Shocked and stunned. Excited and scared. Overwhelmed and under the doona. 1st of February I get the key and begin writing a long list of what needs to be done.
Yes, your Honour, I did take the rhubarb. It was just growing there and no-one seemed to be interested in it, so I, you know, like, harvested it.
I just couldn't resist the allure of the garden grown rhubarb at Musk Creek. I bought back about 900gm and decided today to experiment with it. I'm not a huge lover of rhubarb, in fact would rather leave it than eat it if you put a bowl of it in front of me (no correspondence will be entered into the beauty of rhubarb, do not try and convince me it is manna from heaven, etc, etc. Read on though......).
I have been making rhubarb jam over the last year and everyone loves it, so I thought the experiment would be the oven cooked jam that often appears in its raspberry form in quite a few cookbooks. Everyone seems to rave about this technique but the problem is the jam that is produced by this method must be kept in fridge, so I kind of think it isn't 'proper' jam and that this technique is for amateurs (yes, I am being bitchy, I happily admit it!) and is all show, lacking in substance (meow).
The Rhubarb Experiment
equal parts rhubarb (chopped into 3cm-ish lengths, washed and drained) and sugar (I also added some shredded lemon rind to the rhubarb) place separately into 2 non-stick or over-proof glass dishes big enough for the ingredient to line the bottom shallowly (not so important for the sugar to be so thinly spread) cook in pre-heated 180ºC oven for 20 minutes, don't stir just leave remove from oven and tip the sugar over the top of the rhubarb and stir through the moisture from the fruit will be release as you stir and the sugar will melt into it bottle immediately into sterilised jars
'So did it work?' I hear ask. The reason for doing the jam this way was because of the relatively small quantity of fruit and because I wanted to see if this method would help retain the colour of the rhubarb. Yes it worked......... and the flavour was amazing! I dislike the 'nung-nung' (say it with your nose screwed up and you will understand what I mean by the taste) taste of rhubarb but the baking changed the flavour, made it more sublime and clean, and developed the perfume into something absolutely heavenly. This 4 jar vintage is going under lock and key! (Admittedly it could have been the special nature of this batch of rhubarb!) I've read about baking it for desserts and I think I might just be a convert to 'rhubarb-il-forno' (correct me on the spelling), I'm thinking served with marscapone.................. The jam will I think be saved for special afternoon teas, perhaps on scones but I'm thinking as a filling for one of my special high-top sponges (maybe even in a ginger fluff sponge......hmmm)
I was a bit wired and overwhelmed this week so I ran away.
Normally I like to stay at Tasma House at Daylesford (I know Daylesford is a bit naff but its green and often cooler- temperature wise- and I get to go for long drives out to places where the sky is big) but the damn 'Saddle Club' production has taken over most of the accommodation there for the next 6 months so I had to opt for Musk Creek House. It's always a disappointment when you have to stay somewhere else when your heart is set on a favourite place. I have a bad habit of wanting desperately to redecorate places I stay at, to throw 1/2 the furniture out the door. So of course Day 1 I was a bit out of sorts but then I discovered I had a housemate for the stay- Miss Personality Musk Creek 2008.
Yes, I am a severe cat tragic, you all know that but Miss P was a wonder. She had me in hysterics for the 3 days I was up there. eg 1: finding a saucer-sized huntsman in the sun porch,rolling on it, purring and smooching it and then eating it, leaving 2 legs uneaten. eg 2: sitting on the bench outside and giving my arm little nips if I ignored her. eg 3: running up birch trees and hanging off the trunk until noticed. I know- you had to be there.......
As you also know I am a sucker for the green. Filtered light and flickering leaves. This where Musk was perfect. The creek runs along the back of the property and it has a bit of a micro-climate happening. There were herbs in the garden and the birch trees and fruit trees and lavender and rhubarb. This is the view from the verandah but there is also a second part of the garden that backs on to the other house for rent that is part of this property. The Musk Creek Hollow has wonderful big plate glass windows looking out on the birch, really nice. Both properties at Musk Creek are actually quite nice to stay at (even if I do want to re-decorate...........)
Finished the tam o'shanter on sunday. It's a bit big but really cute. Hey, it's a prototype, ok?! If you don't know what a tam is then go here . (And its not the noun for someone doing an 'Om Shanti' prayer, as someone I knew once thought).
So the New Year came around and I realised I needed to get my hands working. First project up was to make 1st birthday monkeys for Spike and Rocket. This year's monkeys are going to be made from possum wool socks, a joy to make and just too cute (even if i say so myself). As someone who makes for a living, a professional crafter it was actually really nice to make the first project of the year something to be given away.
Next up I finally decided I needed to go to the studio and work. None of this lying around the house! Three very productive days and then the hot, boiling, putrid hot weather set in and I didn't leave the fan for 2 days. Whilst I was being productive I finished 2 milkmaid's jackets and 4 linen skirts, 2 of the skirts have had their handwork done and the other 2 are sitting on the kitchen table.............
I am letting myself off working when the weather is 40º+. I am not made to take these sort of temperatures (I don't think even hot-weather-loving-Andrea could deal with the hot-hot-heat we have been having). Today's sunny with cool breezes weather has been spent designing a hat for winter. I have been obsessed with tam-o-shanters for 4 years and am definitely going to do one for this winter. I don't want to knit all the buggers so I'm on the lookout for knitters that I can kidnap, lock in the cupboard and force feed with wool for the next three months so I have a nice range of tams to sell.
It's amazing how much more alive I felt as soon as the cool change came in....... mmmmm. I like things green and the light filtered. Not a beach person at all- to glare-y and bright.
So I got through NYE fine and dandy (bad headache and all) and no evil-neighbour-techno-party! Really for Brunswick St it was kinda quiet. Joy-oh-joy.
Am avoiding the studio even though I have been going through severe creative COLD TURKEY. The house is still a mess, there is still piles of paperwork to be done and I am feeling exceedingly nervous about 2008. Weird. There are things that need to happen this year and I have to say I am both wanting to bury my head in the sand and wishing they would just happen and be over and sorted. It will be ok, it must be ok, gulp...........
Really I should probably venture out into the Big World. (Going to the greengrocer and newsagent's doesn't count.) The hot weather has really kept me close to home and I should take advantage of the cooling breezes today and go out. (But if I go out I'll just spend money- happens every time!) Hmmm- what to do? Spot wants me to join her on the bed- cheeky kitty is loving the company at the moment!