Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Exciting day at my local

... playground, that is, not pub. "Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities" is filming for a few days in and around my town. Here's an article in the local paper. I stopped this morning at the playground, to sit and feed the boy, and had a bit of a stickybeak. The crew was setting up, the actors were drinking tea, the extras were standing around, as extras do. Richmond Park is a great old fashioned park, with picket fences, orginal grandstand and bandstand, and pretty garden beds... so I guess it's a good location for a 70's country town feel.

Matthew Newton wandered around looking very spiffy in a 70's suit, and Roy Billing (looking a fair bit older and wider than in that photo!) got all perplexed about something to do with wardrobe for the next scene. Lots of cast were wearing "Vote for Don" badges... which, now that I've looked it up, obviously refers to campaigner Donald Mackay, played by Andrew McFarlane.

Anyway, it was interesting to see a bit of the process going on, and it reminded me how much standing around goes on!

Monday, 27 October 2008


I've baked a few batches of these recently, and was waiting until I got them right before posting about them... but I don't think I'm going to, really, so here you go anyway. It's an American recipe for "Blondies" (a non-chocolate alternative to "brownies", both of which we in Australia would normally just call a "slice"). I found it here at Cookie Madness.

They look really good, and they have a great texture and taste, but I just can't get rid of this weird aftertaste in my mouth. Not so much an aftertaste, even, more a weird feeling, like strange invisible dry bits are stuck around my mouth. I don't know what it is - maybe I'm not browning the butter correctly, or not taking it out of the oven at the right moment... I don't know.

If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears... I really like these, apart from the weird mouth feeling!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bloody Shakespeare

I just came across this article in the SMH about the new Bell Shakespeare play Anatomy Titus Fall Of Rome. It sounds (and looks!) fabulous, and if I wasn't broke and was more able to get out at night, I would be there.

It's a play written by German playwright Heiner Muller, based on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, and it seems to take both Shakespeare and war really seriously. I love Shakespeare - and I hate war - and it's been so long since I've seen any, live in a theatre. I especially love when companies successfully take the text of Shakespeare and set it in a relevant modern perspective.

Ah, I really feel the need now to ramble on for ages about the glorious-ness of Shakespeare's poetry and stories. However, I have neither the time nor the energy for that. Another time, perhaps.

Friday, 24 October 2008

She's an *Artist*

I have to admit, I only believe the answers to this type of quiz when they tell me what I want to hear... (bugger, I lost the proper code for the answer, it's a quiz on one of those quiz sites)

"Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...
12% Logical, 41% Spatial, 41% Linguistic, 29% Intrapersonal, 24% Interpersonal, 14% Musical, 25% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 41% Naturalistic!
"This area has to do with vision and spatial judgment. People with strong visual-spatial intelligence are typically very good at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects. They have a strong visual memory and are often artistically inclined. Those with visual-spatial intelligence also generally have a very good sense of direction and may also have very good hand-eye coordination, although this is normally seen as a characteristic of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
Careers which suit those with this intelligence include artists, engineers, and architects."

In other artsy-fartsy news, here are a few random photos I've taken recently:

Sunday, 19 October 2008

A little more sewing

Just a quick share.... I finally got this little handbag done. It's a present for a little friend's 3rd birthday... which was over a month ago! Better late than never, I suppose. The girl in question has more clothes than all my family put together, I think, so I didn't want to make her clothes. I had no pattern for this so I just made it up as I went. It certainly wouldn't pass as a real handbag, but for a 3-year-old's pretty little something, it'll do nicely.

And another Lazy Days skirt using the free pattern from Oliver + S. Also for a birthday gift, for a 4-year-old girl. The party was yesterday, lunchtime, and I whipped this up first thing in the morning, with plenty of time to spare. The birthday girl was far more enamoured with the boxed gifts of plastic Doras and Princesses actually, but her mum was appreciative!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Some DVD/movie rambles...

I used to think Jack Black was just one of those weirdo comic guys who made a living out of being stupid. I knew he was a great musician, too, but... meh.

Recently, I've seen a few of his films and really enjoyed his performance. I mentioned Kung Fu Panda a while ago, and last weekend (I think? I'm so tired lately, I've been getting days mixed up!) I watched The Holiday, which Hayley lent to me - kind girl that she is, helping me with my to-watch list. :) And right now, King Kong is playing on TV. I was watching it for a while and was surprised by Black's great characterisation, but the commercials started to annoy the whatsit outta me. I'll just rent it to watch properly sometime.

I really really enjoyed The Holiday. Not just Jack Black; all of the lead actors were interesting and truthful and just very good. (I really wouldn't make a good film reviewer, would I? Yeah, this film was...good...) I loved Jude Law's performance in particular - well, I must admit I just rather loved his character... sexy young single dad who plays in fairy tents with his daughters, what's not to love? Kate Winslet was her usual beautiful, complicated, "ballsy" woman - and when I say 'her usual', I don't mean that in a bad way at all. If I ever see her playing a boring, predictable Pretty Girl I will be very disappointed. Cameron Diaz surpised me actually; I don't usually like her in films all that much. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps I just have an image of her as the stereotypical skinny Hollywood girl, but anyway, in this I thought she really shone. I believed her more than I have before.

Hmmm... what else have I watched lately... Girl With a Pearl Earring, again thanks to Hayely, with Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. Both very pleasant people too look at, no? Very nice, too, to watch them get all flirty and close-but-distant and almost naughty. It was a nice film, but I did like the atmosphere and dynamic between those two more than the actual storyline. It would be nice to see a bit more of this slightly more meaningful work from Johansson, rather than the often shallow and teeny-bopper-friendly stuff she does.

I just checked my To-Watch List, thinking I could tick off Pearl Earring (but it's not actually on the list. Oh well.), and realised I haven't watched any of the films on it yet. What a slacker! However, I do have Closer in my possession (Hayley again!), so will be able to tick that off sometime soon.

Gosh I'm tired. And I haven't even started work for the day. Tsk tsk.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What the...

Anyone who knows me even vaguely knows that I adore Johnny Depp. I see myself as quite a devoted fan, I think I know him fairly well. I love his acting, his personality, his generosity and his eccentricities. So today, after reading reports from Disney's big production announcement day, I feel like I'm in the twilight zone.

Firstly, Johnny's playing the Mad Hatter in Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Yep, heard the goss about it, and that's not surprising.

2nd, there will be a Pirates 4 and Johnny's signed on. It doesn't surprise me that Disney would do it, but it does kinda confuse me that Johnny will. An awful lot of people have had enough of Captain Jack... and I guess we just never expected Johnny to do so much of the same character. So yes, I'm baffled. He is one to surprise us, but now he seems to be surprising us by NOT surprising us... which, hold on, sounds awfully Captain Jack-esque, doesn't it...

3rd, The Lone Ranger. Johnny will play Tonto, the native American sidekick. Whoa! There's one out of left field! I don't know about in the US, but here, the Lone Ranger is an old character that people make fun of. Like, we laugh AT him, not WITH him, and that is exactly all of the information I know about him.

I adore the idea of Johnny playing a native American again (as he did in The Brave), and from all reports this is going to be a pretty grown-up take on the Lone Ranger. I do feel sure that it'll be fabulous, but wow, what a bit of randomness.

4th, and the most surprising to me, Johnny appeared at the announcement with Disney boss Dick Cook, dressed as Jack Sparrow, with a Lone Ranger feather in his bandana. I don't even have words for how weird that is.

I imagine Johnny's heading in more of a "big studio movie" direction because it means he can be home in LA more, seeing the children more, and making films they can appreciate. Plus, Vanessa and their kids mean the world to him, and as someone suggested on a Johnny forum I was reading, privacy costs A LOT of money for "celebrities" these days... so why not whip out some box-office hits to please all the new fans he's aquired since Pirates? He's worked bloody hard for over 20 years to get where he is now, he's got the clout and the money to make whatever choices he desires.

It's just Johnny doing what he does best.
"I don't pretend to be Captain Weird. I just do what I do. "

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lookit, lookit!

My Beryl (3 years old) was shopping with me a while ago and picked out this pink fabric, requesting that I make her a skirt. I took it home with the best of intentions, but just didn't get around to doing it.

So, while both girls were away at Nan's last week I thought I'd make the time to get it done. In the interests of peaceful sibling co-existence, I thought I'd better make one for Talitha, too, so I called and ask what colour she'd like. "Rainbow, mum." But of course! The spotty fabric was the closest thing to rainbow I could find.

These skirts are super-easy and quick to make (hooray!). I used the free pattern from Oliver + S, which I discovered a few weeks back when Amanda Soule, whose crafty/family blog is the best thing ever, made a whole bunch of them for her little girl. Thanks so much Oliver + S, and Amanda Soule, for the great inspiration and help!

The two skirts took me a couple of hours, with interruptions from the two males of the house. The most fabulous thing is the way the hem is done with a length of ribbon, so it turns out very neat and a little bit special-looking. I think my waistbands are a tad dodgy, but overall they look pretty nice to me. My girlies were very pleased with them, so that's good enough.

It really pleases me to dress my children in clothes I've made them myself. It's one of those things that really makes me feel like a proper mum. Which is a nice way to feel. :)

Friday, 10 October 2008

Chomp, chomp!

My girls are staying at my mum's place, for a holiday, so Noel and I (and Charlie!) had a bit of a date last night. We checked out the new Malaysian restaurant down the street and ate satay chicken skewers, nasi goreng, and sizzling something-or-other beef, all of which was completely delicious. We shall definitely return.

And so, what better way to finish off a romantic date than to watch a movie about modern-day vagina dentata, complete with cringe-inducing sexual moments and gratuitous bleeding penises? Oh okay, there probably are better ways, but anyway...


I'd read lots of interesting reviews of this film from US film blogs, so was intrigued. Noel, well... once he heard there was a film about a tooth-encrusted vagina chomping its way through blokes' bits, he just had to see it. But of course!

It's a decent bit of entertainment, actually. The characters are well-drawn with quite enough (perhaps almost too much) background. Dawn is a devoted Christian teenager, dedicated to purity, who has never so much as touched herself. She has a similarly devoted group of friends, until the boy she fancies reveals that maybe he's not so much into the chastity thing... at which point we learn, in a charming, ahem, disgusting way, that Dawn has teeth. And (cue scary music) chaotic, painful shenanigans commence. The plot kinda loses itself once the chaos begins, unfortunately, but there's enough gore, suspense and hilarity to keep it plenty interesting.

The acting was mostly pretty impressive. The standout performance, I thought, was John Hensley as Brad, the rebellious stepbrother. His characterisation was right there. Not at all self-conscious or hesitant in his performance. Jess Weixler, as Dawn, was a good solid lead, too. She did a good job of playing the self-righteous goody-two-shoes without overdoing it.

Anyway. This film definitely wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. There are some pretty graphic gory shots, although it does tend to fall into comedy at those moments which lightens it up a little.


My gripe for the day - why oh why do "Behind the Scenes" docos on DVDs hardly show anything that could actually be classified as Behind The Scenes? Hmmm? I'm so sick and tired of watching the same old interviews with cast and crew, explaining over and over the exact things we've just watched in the film! I don't need, or want, to hear the plot, characters, or setting of the film - I just watched it. When I click on the intriguing little title in the menu "Behind the Scenes" I really do want to see some behind-the-scenes footage. People setting up shots. Actors being made up. Gruesome makeup being applied. Directors discussing a shot with camera operators. Okay? Okay, thank you.


Thursday, 9 October 2008

Happy squishy-ness

Okay, my face may or may not be streaked with tears right now, but if it is, it's all Connor's fault. I followed his link to this beautiful video of people dancing all around the world.

I see things like this and I am boggled to think how any one group of people can ever think they are more clever or important or advanced or *good* than any other group. Humans, hey. We are wonderful, and we are rubbish. But we are all the same.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hey, photographers

Yes, Hayley, I'm looking squarely at you.

How do a take a photo where the tree looks like this:

but the sky looks like this:
Is it possible?

I'm rather fond of that 2nd one, actually, but it would be nice if the tree was just a little more detailed.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Caramel Banana Cake

Clearly, I am insane. After complaining about the heat on Friday (it got to 32C in the house before I cranked up the air con), I turned on the oven, and the girls and I did some baking. Yes, insane - but I had a few bananas that were really going to be beyond useable if I left them any longer, so banana cake just had to be the order of the day.

This recipe's from a 1987 "Cakes and Slices Cookbook".... which I just realised is also an Australian Women's Weekly one - what would my kitchen be without the Australian Women's Weekly?

Here's the recipe - I used yoghurt because I didn't have any sour cream, and it turned out a successful, moist cake, but the cream would make it much better I think.

Caramel Banana Cake
125g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp bi-carb soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbs milk

Grease a loaf pan. Heat oven to 180C.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl, then beat in eggs one at a time.
Transfer to large bowl. Stir in banana. Stir in sifted dry ingredients with half the combined cream and milk, then stir in remaining halves. Stir until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour, stand 5 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

Caramel Icing
60g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs sour cream
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Melt butter and sugar in saucepan. Stir constantly over heat without boiling for 2 minutes. Add sour cream, bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar.

NB: You need to work quickly with the icing and get the cake covered before it cools too much because it goes sticky and clumpy when it cools. Also, it is disgustingly sweet, and even I, with my very sweet tooth and ability to guzzle sugary treats with joyous abandon, can't eat as much of this icing as I normally would.

(Sorry about this crappy photo. The light in my kitchen is dodgy and my dining table was covered in piles of laundry. Talitha (5) took the first two photos; evidently she's the photographer today!)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Choc-coated Wholemeal Cookies

Okay, firstly, this is ridiculous. It's early October, it's not even midday, and it's 29 degrees C in the middle of my house. I am far too tired for this kind of heat right now.

Well, at least 2 people want the recipe for those cookies , so I suppose I should post it! Like I said, it's from the Australian Women's Weekly book "Cookies". Have a look for it if you love cookies, it's packed with great cookies and biscuits, some healthy and lots... well, not. I'll post the original recipe and add the changes I made in parentheses.

Wholemeal Rosemary Butter Rounds
125g butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour (I used 2/3 cup white self-raising and 2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour)
1 cup walnuts (I didn't have any so I used some crushed peanuts and some hazelnut meal)
2/3 cup raisins, halved (I used sultanas - halving them isn't as tedious as it first sounds!)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I left this out)
1/3 cup orange juice
2/3 desiccated coconut (I used shredded)
2/3 cup rolled oats (I just plain forgot to put these in and it still worked fine!)

Preheat oven to 180 C / 160 fanforced. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Beat butter, rind and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until combined. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in flour, then remaining ingredients.
Roll rounded tablespoons of mixture into balls, place about 5cm apart on oven trays; flatten slightly. Bake about 15 minutes. Cool on trays.

Makes about 30.

To add chocolate coating: Melt 100g dark chocolate of your choice (I recommened Maya Gold of course!). When biscuits are cool, use a flat knife to spread chocolate on the underside of each cookie. Place in refrigerator until set. Store somewhere cool... move to Tasmania, perhaps, to keep yourself cool, too...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Better Cookies

I grabbed myself a block of (slavery-free) Maya Gold chocolate, and set about finding a cookie recipe with which it would be a good match. I didn't quite find one, but I adapted the Wholemeal Rosemary Butter Rounds from my Australian Women's Weekly "Cookies" (excellent boook! I also have the one called Chocolate. My kind of cookbooks). It includes orange zest & juice so I figured, without the rosemary, it was a perfect match for the orangey, spicy chocolate.

The cookies are quite busy, actually, with wholemeal flour (though I used half white), nuts, coconut, raisins, oats, plus the zest and juice. Awfully healthy-sounding, yes? So the dark chocolate was an exellent addition. The 100g block, minus two pieces promised to the girls, was just enough to coat 30 cookies.

I was quite pleased with myself when I tasted how well they turned out. If anyone wants the exact recipe, I can post it for you.