Thursday, April 30, 2009

Return to Wollombi

It's been almost a week yet much has happened... Last Friday was one of those horrible long days that would never end with a dose of thank god its Friday as I finally got to trudge home. It was a long week stuffed full of deadlines, I didn't take a single lunch break all week and there I am at ten past five arguing with my manager as to whether or not I could leave twenty minutes early... by quarter past an agreement was reached, do this small ten minute job first and then you can go... so there you go I wind up with a five minute early mark and I should be grateful... 

The weekend involved Saturday markets, a bushwalk, dinner with friends, Sunday back home to visit Mum and Dad and help move furniture for the painting work they are having done. 

Then finally the Monday to look forward to... no work to go to... just escaping to the wilderness of Wollombi and one of our favourite places - the wild edge retreat up there. I had forgotten just how nice it is to wake up amongst the gum trees and the flittering little birds. Peaceful but all too short a trip... and now a week has passed since that last Friday and I'm still tired, but for different reasons not quite understood... perhaps it is merely a longing to be back in that serenity... Sitting on the verandah of Keith Tulloch's winery on a wednesday afternoon when the rest of the world seems so far... and then having to leave, and return, to all the mess and disorganisation I left behind and wondering where to pick up the pieces of my scattered mind... 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pumpkin for one

I bought a rather sweet little baby pumpkin at Fratellis the other day, it was so adorable I wanted to do something interesting with it and also try to keep it whole rather than just chop it into chunks and turn it into wedges of roast pumpkin or blended into a soupy pulp. 

One thing that surprised me looking through my cookbooks was at how few references there were for pumpkins, some books didn't even have a single recipe featuring it. Jamie had some under 'squash' but my mums trusted hand me down copy of Delia's complete cookery course didn't have a single mention of pumpkins or squashes... am I missing something here? Why the unpopularity?

Anyway I had a baby eggplant which I diced into small little cubes and some tomato also diced and some chopped anchovies, (I would have added onion and rice but I'd run out of room by then) some seasoning of oregano, salt, pepper and a dash of cardamon and I squashed all this into the centre of my deseeded pumpkin... It ended up being just the right portion for one, warming without being too guiltily fattening... 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travesties and Caterpillars with an appetite for mint

I pattered out to my balcony this morning to water my plants (in the painting lull I decided to allow them the freedom to enjoy oxygen and sunlight before being returned to the bath tub to live in exile.) 

I was rather shocked to glance down at my mint, surely it couldn't have died overnight, but there it was all bare sticks without a single leaf on it. Closer inspection revealed it wasn't some sudden heart attack but there was some stubs of leaves with definite chew marks. Something had had quite an extensive nibble of it. 

I am quite a tolerant person, when leaves of basil turn up with large holes missing I just shrug and say that is part of nature, the insects are entitled to contribute to my small little eco system of a few herb plants in a pot... but this... this was overstepping the mark...

I managed to find three culprits, large bloated caterpillars of a bright neon green, their appearance was quite absurd really, just little balloons of bright green that when squished just turned a more liquidly translucent green smudge. To completely destroy every single leaf on a plant is to deprive that plant of its ability to grow. How can it photosynthesis after such abuse. And so I declare my balcony garden to no longer be a neutral territory for insects to congregate within, trespassers will be squashed.

On a lighter note we saw a great play tonight 'Travesties' by Tom Stoppard... brilliant fun, so many ideas and linguistic tricks bubblling in there that it is hard to get a grip on just what your thoughts are... the first thing we said to each other was more along the lines of "geeze, imagine trying to learn all those lines... impressive" indeed I think the actors certainly had to work hard for their money on that one. But it was great

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Farewell Summer

I have to admit now that summer is definitely over, it is cold and wet, I trudge home in the dark shivering and huddling in on myself. I shall very soon abandon the freedom of my sandals and switch to stockings and boots. 

One thing I am already beginning to miss is the fruit, the season is so short, I really loved all the peaches and nectarines, lychees, mangos and figs. 

For Christmas I received a fantastic fruit hamper from a client at work (a career milestone I think to receive such a thing finally) and it was a joy to eat. 

I bought a couple of plums on the weekend but they were disappointingly floury so I had to stick them in a pan with a splash of cointreau to make them delicious again. 

I am rather sad not to have had the chance to make another custard fruit tart again. I made one for a party and it was gobbled up far too quickly so I only got one piece! (There is a picture of it here with the slices of yellow peaches, white peaches and plums laid out ready for the custard (made from scratch, no powdered stuff here) to be poured over the top and put back in the oven to crystallise into its yummy glory. 

Also on the baking line there is a photo of my hot cross bun cupcakes I made for Easter.

So in raise your glasses in honour of the summer gone and perfect picnic weather...

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Shannon Garson Nest

Now to the fun stuff... nesting...

I've always loved the imagery of a nest, those beautiful intricate lines woven across each other. The nest is spectacular visually, it draws you in and you can just admire it for long stretches of time, always picking up new details within it. 

The notion of nesting in terms of the domestic space is also appealing. I've flown the big nest in which I grew up as a chick and now I start the process of gathering together the twigs and branches to form my own nest. On the phone to my mum I will joke about going shopping for 'twigs' or items for my new household. I have completely ignored a whole years worth of clothes hanging on racks in favour for a nice cushion (cushions are a warming factor so this technically counts as a feather) or a lovely ceramic vase or bowl such as the above piece. 

The piece is by Australian ceramicist Shannon Garson. I bought this at Planet not long after I moved in so its a nice little motif for my own nest. Contemporary beautifully designed objects is one of my passions and I am slowly collecting up some nice examples. I will post up some more examples of what I have collected so far in due course. 

I chose to call my blog A well feathered nest due to this dual inspiration I find within nests, the creativity of their form and their sheltering aspect of warmth and protectiveness. My blog is to be about creativity and domesticity

Motivation to Blog

So its been more than 6 months now since I moved out of the home nest and into my own place. At this point I should be organised... but I'm not... The inside was actually all looking just right for Christmas, the balcony took a little longer but by the end of January it had taken shapen too... and then the painters came. 

The apartment I moved into is going through a process by which the entire building is to be repainted. They were starting on my side so come February all my balcony things have moved in amongst the rest of the place, it is a more crowded nest now and frustratingly progress has halted on the painting and we are in limbo whilst painters argue with building managers. 

I in turn feel my own life falling into that same stasis of waiting for the paint to dry. The novelty of having lots of reading couches and extra chairs clogging up the space in a hodgepodge has worn off now. The nest is looking messy but what motivation is there to make it all gleaming and tidy if these large objects so misplaced continue to remain so. 

I've never been good at keeping appointments in a diary, I've also stored them in my mind and never missed a beat... but things are getting on top of me and I am losing track of all those threads, I missed my hairdressing appointment, the rollover of my term deposit account and quell horrer... a performance at the Sydney Theatre company. Obviously I need to start keeping track of things on paper somewhere but being so unused to it I forget to put things in and the cycle continues. 

Negative mutterings aside I was glancing through some old notebooks and remembered a rather productive time in my life when I was keeping a blog of sorts (before the term took off) and how it took me out of the mental bog I was in back then and I wound up with some good pieces of writing in the process.

I was also reading some interesting and inspiring blogs on Sunday and thought, well why aren't I doing this sort of thing anymore. So here I am.