Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ching ching!

on our way home from london, we stopped over in hong kong to see my side of the family. in the instant that i saw my relatives, the six long years between drinks disappeared - a very comforting feeling indeed.

we stayed in tin hau, a relatively quiet neighbourhood on hong kong island. tin hau is dotted with excellent hong kong style cafes (think congee, or rice porridge, for breakfast and noodle soups for lunch) and the most fantastic dessert house, ching ching (i kid you not).

that's right: a house of desserts.
and so many to choose from: from classic tong yuen (rice dumplings) in ginger syrup, tofu fa, red bean soup and my absolute favourite, black sesame soup. you can choose to eat the desserts hot or cold, or you can add semolina pearls or tong yuen, or any combination that you desire.
the first night, i ordered black sesame soup that included coconut milk and semolina pearls. this was smooth and silky, with sweet pops of pearls in each mouthful and a lovely nutty taste from the black sesame. mmm.

elmo ordered red bean soup with mango pieces (of course). the mango was absolutely delicious. how i would love to live in a tropical country - think of all the fruits!
we returned later to sample the mango pudding and the tofu fa - equally silky and delicious.
we were in heaven!

eating aside: a mere two weeks in london and paris were not enough preparation for the excesses of hong kong.

the buildings are BIGGER.
the number of people: HUGER.
the shopping centres: HIGHER.
the smog: SMOGGIER.
it's a vibrant, bustling, elbows-out, get-on-with-it kinda city.

and though we barely embraced consumerism while we were in london or paris, we shamelessly lost control in hk at muji.

muji is a japanese lifestyle store that offers everything from furniture to fashion to food. there was something about the clean design and practical simplicity of their products that we couldn't resist.

we confess: we want to live a muji life!

elmo found this and immediately declared his love for it.it's a portable speaker, almost measuring 3cm across, that is charged via a usb port. this cute little cube flips out a plug that fits very sweetly into your mp3 player of choice. for its size, the sound is pretty good. and so far, we've got through a leonard cohen concert without losing power.

i can just imagine: elmo as dj at all our summer bbqs...

Monday, December 07, 2009


we have returned from a lovely two weeks in london where we met elmo's new nephew, mr x.

last time i visited europe, i felt like i was in a theme park: 'i guess i better see the [insert famous icon/building] since i'm in [insert big city]'.

so, other than a few days in paris, it was a nice change to just hang out with the locals in east london and spend time with the newest member of the family...
mr x and his mum, L, took us to their favourite local haunts including a fabulous shop that sells fresh, buttery, flakey croissants near the columbia road flower market.

and what a gorgeous market too: i just loved the stallholders with their sing-song 'two-for-a- fiver', 'three-for-a-fiver' chorus as we strolled through their lovely roses, tulips, black eucalyptus plants and many many more. they all looked so beautiful - i so desperately wanted to take some plants home with us!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I'm also excited that plants are waking up in the spring air.
One rosebud, taking a stretch, about to bloom..
And some mint for summertime Pimms...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tell Mama All About It

You may or may not have noticed a slight proliferation in toy related posts.

Yes, it is that time in life when folks all around us are sprogging.
As one former, ahem, backbencher used to say: one for mum, one for dad and one for the nation?

It's fun. We get to play with the kiddies when they're well behaved, and then we return them as they become spewing/pooing/crying... well, babies.

This is for Tamsin's 1st birthday this weekend, Mama Bear from the Softies book.
I debated with myself: is it right to present the apron on the bear?
I wouldn't want the 1-year old to think that a woman's place should be in the house, apron in tow, ready for domesticity. I spose you could use an apron for...woodwork? ....or something else associated with little boys.

[I can already hear my siblings groaning at me...GROAN]

Would a 1 year old even register this thought? Even subliminally?

Feel free to tell me that this is political correctness gone mad (my siblings would), and I should get over it already!

Though, I quite like how the apron is reversible...

Rewatching: Flight of the Conchords, Season I
Relistening: Sunday Night Safran podcasts

Sunday, October 18, 2009

good golly miss polly

Deja vu: another Softies toy- this time a Miss Monty from the Miss Polly pattern by Nest Studio.

I must confess, I am jealous of this Miss Monty: she will live with Miss Leila in Karratha, a mining town way waaaay north-west in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Before I went back to uni, I travelled from Perth to Exmouth, some 1500 kilometres along the coastal highways of WA . The expanse and deep colour of the west coast ocean is something to be savoured - breathtaking clear greens and blues us East Coasters simply miss out on.

We slept in swags on the beach, committed small sins against the environment by going sand boarding (beware of this activity if you don't encourage sand going where sand should _really_ not go), and climbed majestic gorges in Karajini National Park. The absolute highlight was snorkelling in the Ningaloo Marine Park at Coral Bay, a small town that sits just near the Tropic of Capricorn.

Maybe it's because these experiences are all pre-Phud, but I can't help but associate a sense of calm and warmth with this part of the world. Perhaps all the Melbourne Spring rain is just making me a bit nostalgic for some sunshine?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This winter, we finally made the pilgrimage to Logan's Beach, a whale nursery in western Victoria, in the hope of glimpsing a Southern Right Whale. In anticipation of a long wait, we had brought along a thermos, a couple of books and even Scrabble.

In the end there was no need: as we joined the other whale watchers at the lookout, we immediately spotted four cows and two calves.
It was amazing how close these beautiful creatures were to the beach. Most of the time, you can really only see the top of their long black bodies (maybe you can see a whale about a quarter of the way down in the photo above), but we did the occasional fin when the whales were body rolling or, more magnificently, a glimpse of a whale's mouth as she skyhopped.

Although the weather turned the next day, to the pleasure of all us crazies braving the wind and rain at the lookout, we managed to spot a tail (more images here). The whales will head to the Antarctic soon, but are in Australian waters for a few more weeks if you're keen.

Of course, my favourite thing to do on a country road trip is visit the local op shops and markets. We bought fresh produce, a bucket of honey and a large assortment of CWA-style biscuits and treats - think anzac biscuits, jam drops, yo-yo biscuits and jelly cakes (our absolute favourite). Oldies but so good(ies).

We also picked up a couple of plates: the first with a sweet floral design, maybe to serve jelly cakes?
And I love the pattern on this oven proof plate. It's oval in shape and the perfect size for steaming a fish in the wok.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Doffing bonnets

I finally graduated a couple of weeks ago, and received a pot of gorgeous roses from m's and ms k (thanks guys!). These lovelies sit proudly on my balcony, greeting the morning sun.

After such a lengthy thesis submission/ examination / revision process, it's easy to overlook the simple fact that being awarded your degree is an achievement to be celebrated, the official coda of your university life. So it was a good opportunity to take a step back, be grateful for making it to the end, and thank family and friends for their support and endurance - not only during my studies but also of the ceremony itself (mum didn't waste time: she crocheted a baby blanket for Elmo's new nephew who arrived on Monday in London).

After the ceremonial bonnet doffing to the chancellor, we joined the other graduates snapping photos with their families on the sunny university lawn. I reflected on all those years spent on the lawns: skipping lectures to lie on the grass on a nice day, sitting with a coffee under my favourite tree or rushing through on the way to a seminar. It was an immeasurable feeling to think: I Do Not Belong Here Anymore.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

ground control to major tom

elmo is about to become an uncle for the first time, so we are sending this cosmonaut over to london, all wrapped up in a kitschy australiana teatowel i picked up at the vic market. the pattern comes from the softies book and was a breeze to make.

we had been to see the Blackeyed Susans at the Forum that afternoon, so i spent a few hours listening to old susies ceedees while making Cosmo. i think this is why his smile looks so sly, like he knows something we dont know. yet.

one down; three more toys for three new bubs due before the year is out.
back to the sewing machine...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips @ Festival Hall
29th July 2009

My two hopes for this gig: Wayne Coyne in a bubble strolling over the punters (check), and a live rendition of Race For the Prize (woohoo, check!).

We used to listen to The F'lips every Friday afternoon in the lab. It was the perfect way to end the working week and, of course, we secretly hoped that Coyne was singing about us and our research when he says:

Two scientists were racing

For the good of all mankind

Both of them side by side

So determined

Locked in heated battle

For the cure that is their prize

But it's so dangerous

But they're determined

We can dream can't we?

The Flaming Lips are famous for their spectacular live shows: dancing furry animals situated stage left and right, "magical spheres" gently punched in the air and regular bouts of confetti/streamers snowed on the happy crowd. To the punters' delight, the band delivered all this and more on Wednesday night. All aspects of our aural and visual senses were assaulted: video projections, strobe lighting, giant caterpillars - you could even feel the bass through the floorboards.

In some ways, all this spectacle might equate distraction and render the band as mere soundtrack. During some parts of the evening, all this fervent energy threatened to outdo the true core of an amazing awesome gig: so, was the music any good?

The music of the F'lips veers from sweet, wobbley melodies and characters (think Yoshimi) to crashing, crunching white noise - sometimes within the same song. The production on the night was definitely not as slick as some of their records, and the songs had quite a rough sound at times. The set included a few new songs, and plenty of sing-a-long moments including: The Fight Test, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and Do You Realise?.

My favourite aspect of this gig how inclusive it felt - Coyne is a charismatic front man and speaks to everyone in the room (even the poor souls on the outer edges of Festy Hall). The energy in the room was simply amazing. I think this is what separates the Flaming Lips from other, more pedestrian bands: it was an incredible, intense experience - the animals, the music, the confetti, it was just so much fun. Everything you might expect from the F'lips. I have been finding random bits of orange and yellow confetti in my jacket and purse the last couple of days, and am happy to be reminded of this wonderful gig this week.

So when Coyne asks us all to join in a mass karate chop during Yoshimi (it's our only chance to karate chop in the evening after all) - who are we to say no?

Monday, July 27, 2009

of late...

it's been really busy lately (what? it's july already?!), so i have come to treasure the time i can spare for some sewing.

* my third attempt at crafting a baby quilt.
i confess that i'm making it up as i go along, but i think i'm improving a little bit with each attempt.
the fabrics are a mix of brand new, op-shopped or gifts from our circle of friends...

with a shinzi katoh frog for good measure...

* recently, i accompanied lise and d-man to ikea when they went to buy a kitchen (as you do).

i went exploring, discovered (apparently) better ways of living and, of course, complete disorientation ensued. do not veer from the ikea path in ikea world peoples!

it was with joy that i discovered the textiles section: this print is from the Gunilla range and i found a matching, plain canvas to go with. i snapped up a half metre of each and had to hold myself back from the other bolts of fabric.

i felt so inspired that i made this bag that very evening. this bag features a magnet snap clasp, a small pocket inside and a hook to hold keys. it's just big enough to hold A4-size documents, perfect for laptop free days to work... huzzah!

i always seem to come away from ikea feeling that life is poorer without a modular/minimalist/flim-flam organisation system.

(ok, alright, i want a clean-living, clutter-free, sweet ikea life, damnit!)

PS: we've been wanting to get out of the big smoke for a while, so we took advantage of a free weekend and went down to the peninsula.

a while back, i did some weeding and planting with a volunteer group.
how amazing is this transformation: compare this to our visit last week

our little grasses are so big...and it's so green and lush! it was very exciting to see =)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sound Relief, MCG

in between drenchings - an amazing glow from the grounds...

Even 25mm of rain did not deter the punters too much, there was a great vibe from the happy, poncho'ed up folks unlucky to be in the open. Each time the black clouds rolled in, we all pulled on our raincoats and continued enjoying the music at Sound Relief, the benefit concert for the Victorian Bushfires.

There were so many highlights from this incredible bill, but it's hard to go past the reformation of Hunters and Collectors, Split Enz and Midnight Oil. Their songs are so ingrained in our culture, it was stunning to experience these songs live. We crossed to the more sunny SCG during the day for the sister event, and were witness to Farnesy singing 'You're the voice' with Coldplay as the backing band.

We soaked up the crowd sing-a-longs: Paul Kelly singing "Leaps and Bounds", an impromptu Crowded House appearance following Liam Finn's drum and theremin solo (the punters roared when Finn jnr began introducing Uncle Nick, and the Finn snrs...), Kylie and "I still call Australia home", Midnight Oil and those distinctive three chords announcing "Beds are burning" and the Hunners' "Throw your arms around me".

A fantastic, exhausting experience.