Friday, 31 August 2007

satisfied but not satiated.

I think we've already established that I love laksa a little more than most foods, and perhaps a little more than is reasonable. So everytime I walked past the Brasserie's menu on Grote St I couldn't help but salivate over the mention of a vegetarian laksa. And at the bargain price of $25 a bowl, my brain went 'ooooh, it must be amazing' rather than a normal person's brain which would go 'twenty-five WHAT for glorified vegetable soup?'.

This weekend Tom was over and I talked him into accompanying me. I booked in advance and checked that they still had the mythical laksa but then when we got there, NO LAKSA.

Which I was quite disappointed about.

But still, we had a really nice meal. It turns out they have a focus on local produce, each dish featuring a different local ingredient. This makes sense considering the restaurant is located in the Hilton, and would serve a lot of international customers.

We started with a terracotta-pot baked bread leavened with Coopers Sparkling Ale yeast and served with olive oil, Coriole kalamatas, and pink Murray salt. I had a goat Massaman curry for mains and Tom had kangaroo with quince. We shared a side of asparagus topped with a poached egg and parmesan cheese, and we also had the recommended accompanying red wines. For dessert, Tom had a sticky fig pudding, and I had a local honey-flavoured creme brulee which came with vanilla granita and a candied basil leaf.

All in all it was really very good. The atmosphere was relaxed, the waiting staff were helpful and friendly, and the food was great, without being too boring or too poncey. At $45 each (with Entertainment Book discount) I guess it was a little pricey but it wasn't nearly as expensive as lesser meals I've had around the place, and I felt it was excellent value for the quality. All of it was great, but I was completely blown away by my dessert, which I'm tempted to try to replicate. Yum-o.

Now if they would just bring back that laksa...

Thursday, 30 August 2007


You Should Learn French

C'est super! You appreciate the finer things in life... wine, art, cheese, love affairs.
You are definitely a Parisian at heart. You just need your tongue to catch up...

Phew! Thank goodness I didn't pick the wrong language. That would've been a real personal disaster...

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

marvelling at the technology.

Screenshot taken from my computer, of me live on the telly in Melbourne (where I am not).

If they can do this, surely world peace and self-cleaning bathrooms can't be too far off?

Monday, 27 August 2007

pondering the big questions.

Those crazy French, they don't use "quotation marks" to indicate speech, they use «guillemets».

I guess this means they can't use finger quotes, (join me in my happy dance, won't you?), but what do they use instead I wonder? Sideways double Vulcan salutes?

«Vivez longtemps et prospere!»

This would go a long way to explaining why the French are so much cooler than the English. It's built into their punctuation.

It could also clarify rapper hands. Maybe.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

in love with the jelly, in love with the jam.

Apparently, this is the best apricot jam in the world, or so the internet says.

What was I to do but try some? Unfortunatly it cost an arm and a leg to have it shipped from America, but for the best jam in the world, splashing out once is ok, right?

After ordering it though, I started having second thoughts. It's been hyped up, it can't possibly be that good, it's too expensive, it'll arrive and I'll be disappointed...

Well baby, I'm not. It arrived on Friday and I made scones to test the jam on, and guess what? It IS all it's cracked up to be. These were the best cotton-pickin' jam and cream scones I've ever tasted.

And better still, the nice boys at We Love Jam sent me an extra jar for free, for having enough faith to order a jar all the way across the Pacific, so there's still a little left.

We Love Jam? I love jam too.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

hanging out for the weekend.

I read this after reading Hannah's review. Annoyingly, she writes better than me (why did I bother with that Arts degree again?), so you should probably just go and read what she wrote. (Aside: I never knew she was a 'reader' too- it's quite odd in a nice way to find out that you have more in common with a good friend than you thought).

Anyway, suffice to say I didn't fall in love with Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm, but it was amusing and quaint, like a cross between Jane Austen and Evelyn Waugh, and I expect it will improve with re-reading. Also, I couldn't find it in Borders, so you may have to borrow it from a friend, like I did. There is a film with Kate Beckinsale & Ian McKellen which is apparently quite good, but I haven't watched it yet.

I was kind of miffed to find that one of my favourite teenage series has a fifth book and I didn't even know. But it turns out that this one is much more recent, first published in 2006, ten years after what I had assumed was the final in the series (it had an epilogue and everything!). I'm glad I wasn't that out of the loop, but it still doesn't fix the fact that this edition doesn't match all of the others. Oh well. Book and cover and all that jazz.

The series follows Pagan, a 'Christian Arab' in the 12th century, from signing up as a squire to get himself off the streets, to fighting in the crusades, to becoming a monk and so forth. Pagan's wry worldview is hilarious, and the books are a fun way to learn about the era. They're well written - easy enough to read for teenagers, but not so simplistic they're boring to adults.

Pagan's Daughter is set soon after Pagan's death, and follows his illegitimate daughter Babylonne in her escape from her strict Cathar family, and her relationship with Pagan's protege Isidore.

Unfortunatly, I didn't really enjoy this one as much as the others. It didn't really feel like the plot was going anywhere, and none of the characters were developed much, except for Babylonne herself who just felt like a poor-man's Pagan to me. There's still some funny moments, and it's a quick and enjoyable read, but it was just a bit of a disappointment compared to the earlier books.

I would highly recommend the series on the whole, but unfortunately this book felt like a bit of an afterthought.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007


I'm a little worried The Bill might be heading towards another big character shake-up. They've recently changed the title credits - not the music, just the pictures - and they've taken out any recognisable people shots.

I finally tracked down the Bead Hive only to find a big sign saying it's moving again. It's shifting back to Pulteney St. It'll be next to Ikeguchi.

I tried Sarah's on Leigh St again - no better I'm afraid. I had the $12 lunch salad, and it had too many ingredients, each with something different and fancy done to it. The end result was that it was too oily, and it felt like the chef couldn't see the forest for the trees. Sorry Sarah, but two strikes and you're out.

I realised last week why I've been SO cold at night: my bedroom window has been open. It's been banging away for years and I never thought to check it, I just thought it was the house 'settling'. What an idiot.

I noticed last week that my favourite honey icecream (you know, the one that used to come in a big salami-like packaging 20 years ago) is Golden North. This means you can't get it in Melbourne, let alone France. Quel dommage!

I finally understood a segment of the SBS French news. A story about Philippino prison exercises. Yes really. The YouTube video is here - absolutely hilarious.

And one more video: this guy was on Letterman playing music with rollerblades and water filled bottles. It's awesome.

Monday, 13 August 2007

starting, with trepidation.

I took this beautiful yarn mentioned here over to Mag's, because once I remembered I had it I really really wanted to use it, and I needed some advice.

I used her yarn winder to ball it up, and had a minor drama when it kept breaking. I think a moth had been chewing on it! Hence the million balls in the photo. But since there is nearly 1km of it, I think the larger balls should be enough to work with. (I'm also thinking I should re-consider my stash storage. Maybe zip-loc bags, or maybe I should investigate some kind of natural moth-repellent).

The guru's advice was to double the wool and do another so-called. I really wanted to do something lacy with it though, as a replacement for Mum's magenta lacy scarf which I will not be able to borrow in France. So I'm ignoring her at my peril. She thinks that it will drive me mad and I will give up, and she may yet be right. But sometimes it's good to find these things out for yourself.

I'm trying this Feather and Fan Stitch/Old Shale (which apparently my Nanna made me a cardi out of when I was a baby) on teeny weeny 2.25mm needles. The pattern's really pretty simple (and has built in wavy edges) so I'm hoping it will be ok:

Row 1: knit
Row 2: pearl
Row 3: 3(k2tog), 6(yo, k1), 3(k2tog)
Row 4: knit

(Excuse my random Year 10 maths logic pattern describing. Not to mention the gymnastics photo.)

This is the teeny swatch I knitted. I've since frogged it, and cast on again 6 repeats of the thing, which is turning out quite wide, but I think it will be ok since it's such light wool. If it works out, I was thinking of maybe just having some wide plain sections in between the fan pattern. If it really is goes well, I might try and put in some of the little diamond shapes from the magenta scarf too. We'll see though. I'm a bit concerned that it might disrupt the nice wavy effect of the ends.

Btw: the wool is from Fibreworks at Horsham: 2ply/100g/900m /Colour # 15. Their website is l-a-m-e, but it does give contact details.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

filling in the Secret Pal survey.

I signed up for Secret Pal 11 and I'm supposed to fill in this questionnaire and post it. I'm so excited to find out who my Secret Pal is and get planning!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I prefer natural fibres. I figure, what's the point of making something with your own hands if it started in a lab? I covet chunky, organic, textured, handmade and variegated yarns, and I HATE feathers. Yuck!

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Ha. Most of 'my' needles are actually my mum's (or possibly even my nanna's), and they live haphazardly in a long Nike box, that must've come from someone with big feet a long time ago. It lives at the top of the linen cupboard. The few that I've bought (mostly circulars) are either in there too, or they're randomly in with my yarn which lives in an old wicker picnic basket. Thank God for my needle gauge.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

It depends when you count 'starting' from. I remember learning how to knit with my Nanna when I was very little. It was just an activity then - I don't remember having the objective of actually 'making' anything. My first finished object (a scarf), was maybe 3 years ago, when I was bored playing in a musical pit, and wanted something to keep my hands busy, but nothing so taxing I'd forget to count the rests. Then I decided I liked it, and started knitting with the end result in mind. Margie helped me with a beret, and the rest, as they say, is history. I guess I would fall somewhere between beginner and intermediate. I like interesting lacey patterns, but I pretty much apply them to scarves.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Mais oui! I'm not putting a link up to my amazon wish list though, because then the internet will know my full name, and I'm a little paranoid. If you already know my name you should be able to search for it. But here are my Etsy favourites as a consolation prize. I seem to have expensive taste though, and they're not very knitting related, so they're probably only useful for ideas anyway...

5. What's your favorite scent?
My favourite smell in the world is clothes freshly washed with apple Cuddly fabric softener. I love the smell of jasmine, freesias, Easter lillies and jonquils, but in terms of synthetic scents, I suppose I tend to like fruit flavours better. I wear DKNY Be Delicious (which is supposedly apple flavour, although I think it's more like watermelon) which is one of the few perfumes I've found that doesn't end up smelling too 'powdery' or acrid on my skin.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Just one sweet tooth? I have 28! I'm not really a fan of licquorice or marzipan, but other than that, bring it on! I especially like trying new sweets (and foods in general) from far away - local specialities that you can't get here. I suppose if I had to choose a favourite, it would be Cherry Ripes.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I've never spun, but I like making all sorts of things. Mostly I make jewellery (small earrings, big necklaces). I took a silver jewellery course a while ago, which was great, but mainly I make beaded earrings, because it's much more accessible and doesn't require expensive equipment. I also like making things out of beautiful paper - postcards, origami (mostly cranes, but branching out is on the to-do list). I randomly make other things when inspiration hits, but I don't know how to sew.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Yes, I listen to most music on my iPod so MP3s are fine. I love music, but kind of got out of the loop when I did a classical music degree and listened to nothing but bassoon all day. I'm not fussy about style (although I'm not really into country, bubblegum pop or rap, though I'm a sucker for a funky groove); I mainly just like upbeat music that makes me happy (how lame does that sound?). Ben Folds is my fave. Lately I've been listening to Belle and Sebastian a lot, and I can't seem to get my thumb to stop pressing 'repeat' on Camille's 'Ta Douleur', and Free Design's 'Love You'. I just bought Louis Armstrong's 'Cool Yule' from iTunes - 5 months before Christmas! What a dork!

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
In general I'm not fussy, but for clothes I like bold colours as pastels wash me out. I wear a lot of maroons and magentas, but I wouldn't consider myself a girly pink person. I also wear a lot of brown, and this year I'm loving pairing accessories in opposite-ish colours: pink & green, yellow & gray, orange & blue.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I live with my family, but I'm (probably) moving to France later this year. I have one fluffy cat and two very tall brothers.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear a LOT of scarves. I'm getting into hats, but they tend to look bad on me, so it's a bit dicey. Berets seem to be pretty safe, although I'm not sure whether that'll make me blend in or stand out in Paris? It rarely gets cold enough for mittens here, and I've never worn a poncho.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Yes, I'm a scarves lady. I think you've probably guessed that already. I like being able to try out funky new patterns or stiches within a standard format. And also not having to worry about whether it will fit. I usually like plain patterns with funky yarn, or fancy patterns with plain yarn.

13. What are you knitting right now?
In the planning stage right now...deciding on my next will be a scarf...

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Love them!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

You know I have no idea! I've never had to buy enough needles to develop a preference (see question 2). I like circular needles because it feels like my knitting's less likely to fall off, but I guess it depends on the project. I get more of a sense of satisfaction from straight needles as you can see it growing better.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Neither. I kinda don't mind doing it by hand though.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Oh, a couple of years? I started knitting a Port (a local football team) scarf for Tom. I should've known that wasn't going to work out (go the Crows!).

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I don't think I have a favourite holiday, but my favourite day of the year is the daylight savings day (can't remember if it's the beginning or the end, too tired to work it out) where you get an extra hour's sleep in. Bliss.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I consciously collect postcards (both written on ones sent to me and blank ones). I kind of collect beads I guess, in small quantities to be used in earrings at a later date. Same with pretty papers. I seem to be developing quite the collection of little retro alarm clocks, but not intentionally. I've always thought I'd like to collect teapots, but haven't started yet. I suppose the thing I collect most of is rings: I love chunky bright rings. I've never really thought of it as collecting, because I just see ones I love and buy them, but I suppose that's what it is!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Not really - I tend to leap from project to project randomly, rather than plan it out. I don't have any subscriptions. Those crazy handspun chunky variegated yarns around on the internet with the random stuff woven in always catch my eye, but I've never ordered any. I can just imagine them as a colourful winter scarf.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I've been meaning to learn to crochet from my Nanna for ages now...

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Nope. Some things are better handmade, but for me, I'm not sure socks are one of them. Also, they seem kinda fiddly...

23. When is your birthday?
April 20. I'm in my mid-20s.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007


I used to think the book was always better than the movie; now I suspect I probably just prefer whichever I came across first, especially if I came across it when I was young and developed an attachment to it over the years.

That's how it was with 'The Princess Bride: I've known and loved the film for years, and I'd always wanted to read the book. When I realised that William Goldman was not just a one-hit wonder (as I'd assumed), but actually an incredibly respected author and scriptwriter (his most famous movie is still 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'), I wanted to read it even more. Last Friday I came across it in Borders, and I read it on the weekend.

The story in the film stays very close to the book, although, like The Neverending Story, the book goes on a bit after the film ends. What's different about the book is that William Goldman says that he's not writing the story himself - only abridging S. Morgenstern's Guilderian classic down to the 'good bits', the way his father read it to him as a child. It's quite a clever idea, and I guess these days you've got to find a way to make a fairytale stand out, and it's a fun way of actually pretending that it's a true story (the author's name always undermines it otherwise). However, in the end, I found the annotations about the bits he'd 'skipped' distracting. I just wanted the story.

It's possible that my imagination has been too strongly coloured by the film - I couldn't imagine the characters any other way than they appear in the film, and as I read familiar scenes I imagined those from the movie. Perhaps the book is better than the film after all, and I'm just not in a position to judge. I did enjoy the bits where Goldman described the backstory of some of the characters - it made them come alive more, both in the film and the book.

It's a great book, but if you've already seen the movie, I'm not sure I'd recommend rushing for it. If, on the other hand, you haven't seen the film, read the book first, and then tell me which you prefer.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Monday, 6 August 2007

deciding what to knit knext.

I was thinking about doing a lengthwise-knit random-stripey Karin/Heidi chunky holey scarf next. I had these three wools in mind in my stash, but when I pulled them out I realised it is just not going to work.

The wool on the left I've decided is just a bit too Barbie colours for me, and doesn't quite match the others.

The one in the middle is my perfect colours - magenta and maroon shades, but not too girly - but it's 2ply, and I can't see that working with the others somehow.

The right-hand yarn is cool and bizzare - it's like a ladder of ribbon filled with (100% synthetic) roving.

Shall I take the ribbon-yarn into Lincraft and try and find some plain coloured wool that I can alternate with it? I could, but I'd kind of like another funky wool to alternate, as well as the plain, and the city shops have such lame wool these days.

What am I going to do with the lovely middle wool? I don't think I'll ever knit socks, and what else am I to do with it? Maybe a really skinny really long tube scarf for Summer? Maybe in some cool holey lacey pattern? Is that possible?

And the one on the left...well... I think it's just going to have to live in the stash for a while, until I find something un-Barbie-fy-ing to pair it with.

Maybe they'll all have to go back into the stash for a while... Maybe I will knit another Branching Out for my Ma like I've been promising myself for so long. It's just going to require some talking into, because it's certainly not what you'd call a relaxing knit. And I'd have to stop being indecisive and actually pick a colour. Or maybe I'll order some Manos del Uruguay and knit another So-Called scarf. (My Ma will need a replacement for when I take mine to Europe). That would also require some talking into, because that wool, it's not what you'd call cheap.

Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

happy and sad.

Happily: OMG the Hairy Bikers have my spice tin!!! I saw it on the telly last night! I'm, like, 1 Kevin Bacon step from SBS fame!

Sadly: My new teapot is not at all well. I guess all that crazy cracking was not such a good thing after all. I noticed yesterday that tea was seeping out through the cracks, making it look like a yellow bloodshot eyeball teapot. Gross.