Friday, 29 May 2009

Gunlom, Kakadu

While we were up in the NT visiting Mum and her partner, we went camping in Kakadu National Park. Specifically, we camped at Gunlom, after staying overnight at the Mary River Roadhouse.

I cannot recommend Gunlom highly enough. It was simply stunning. The camp ground itself is lovely - full of beautiful gums and pandanus. However, the real highlight is the access to two amazing swimming spots.

The closest swimming spot is a large waterhole, surrounded by high cliffs and fed by a large waterfall. You just have to wander about 100 metres from the campground - along a shady tree-lined path - to access this one. The water is emerald green from a distancec, and crystal clear up close. You enter the water from a small sandy beach and find that it is full of beautiful fish that will swim all around you. (There are also some fresh water crocodiles, but they, mercifully, kept their distance.)*

If you decide to climb the steep hillside near the camp for about 45 minutes then you will reach the top of the waterfall. Here there are a series of cascading waterholes, the last of which is called the 'infinity pool' because the edge just disapears into the horizon. Once again you enter the water from a small sandy beach and then you have your pick of little pools of water that seem to represent an ever changing array of greens and blues, depending on the light. It really is something special.

After all of this climbing and swimming, you can return to the campsite and warm up the cool evening with a camp fire. (All while pretending that your headlamp is a camera.)


*Parks staff clear the area of the more dangerous saltwater crocs prior to tourist season and then continue to monitor it throughout the season. Of course, one may still decide to pay a visit and so you do have to swim here at your own risk... Apparently the crocs can't get into the upper waterholes though.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Mothers Day weekend (almost EDIM Photos 6 & 7 and more)

Weekend highlights: some face paint :: a 'bit' of sorbet (yes! that is chocolate, dairy-free sorbet) :: some running :: more autumn leaves :: kooky entertainment :: some dancing :: a little bit of reptile & amphibian love :: a giant slide :: and some cuddles.

I hope that you all had a lovely weekend and I hope that all of you mothers had an especially lovely Sunday.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The library, creativity and writing

I went to the library the other day to pick up a lovely pile of books that I had requested. It still amazes me that I can just borrow so many fabulous books for free and then go back and do it all over again.

Anyway, the highlights of my big haul were:
Sewing Green, Betz White
Sew Pretty Homestyle, Tone Finnangar
How I Write - The Secret Lives of Authors, Dan Crowe (ed.)
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose

In amongst the pages of these books I have been finding so much inspiration.

First, Sewing Green is lovely. It is a Melanie Falick book (like Weekend Sewing) and it is really nicely styled and clearly laid out. The writing style is also very readable and a lot of the projects look really lovely.

[UPDATED] I was initially sad that my favourite (6) projects all involved felted wool, because I had yet to find any instructions for felting without a clothes dryer (and we do not own one). However, several people have now informed me that you can felt wool just by washing it on the hot cycle of your washing machine. So, now I am sad that I want to buy yet another sewing book (despite my complete absence of free time in which to sew). You can see some of the felted wool projects that I am referring to on WhipUp, where Betz shares some applique tips.

Another cool project is the lunchbag and sandwich wrap (neither of which use felted wool). Betz has kindly shared the sandwich wrap tutorial for everyone on her blog, so you can try that one for nothing.

In addition to the project, I was so excited to read a little section of the book that featured Wendy Tremayne and her swap-o-rama-rama concept. Put simply, she started up this concept where people attend a clothing-swap-with-a-difference. People rock up with a bag of clothes to swap and pay a small entry fee and then inside the venue there are a range of project areas set up where they can learn to alter, embellish and personalise their newly acquired clothes (the swapped ones from other people's bags) by sewing, embroidery, applique, screen printing etc... Then at the end of the day they hold a fashion show for everyone to show off their new creations. How cool is that?

I actually spent a good portion of that night plotting and scheming about how I could possibly get something similar started up here in Canberra.

The section on Natalie Chanin also made me want to get her book: Alabama Stitch.

Sew Pretty Homestyle has also been fun to flick through, although I must admit that it is really not my style. It is very pink, if you know what I mean, and I would never put a fabric cover on my coffee plunger or place heart-shaped cushions in my entryway. However, there are still some nice projects tucked away inside and I could use fabric in any colour to make them and so I may still draw some inspiration from this book.

How I Write is a collection of passages from writers about how they write - accompanied by a photo or two. It has Will Self's wall of post-it notes and quite a number of talismans from other writers.
I am enjoying reading it - in much the same way that I enjoy flicking through the Guardian's Writers' Room series (which, randomly, popped up on Loobylu yesterday). However, I don't think that I would buy it either. It is not sufficiently practical to want to use over and over again. (That said, it would make a fabulous 'coffee table book' if I had a coffee table!)

Finally, Reading Like a Writer is probably the most useful book of the lot. It is not as pretty or fun as the others, but I am finding it really really instructive. Prose focuses on the art of close reading and the importance of really getting to know the basic tools of the writing trade: words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. To illustrate her point(s) she uses lots of short exerts from other (very skilled) authors and her explanations of what they have done and why it works is incredibly clear and helpful. I think (hope?) that this book is going to help me write a better thesis and may even help me write other pieces of work in the future. AND, I think that I also may end up buying this one (with no guilt!), because I think that it is a book that I will turn back to over and over again throughout my life.


Wondering about my photos for the last few (May) days?

Well, my camera battery died on Wednesday and then I kind of ran out of steam. This may have something to do with P. still being completely out of action (he has injured his back quite badly) and me being a little overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for Lily, Midnight, P. and the house... I may get back to my photography soon though. Perhaps tomorrow?

In the meantime, I hope that you have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Personal trainer (EDIM - photo 5)

I have been saying for some time (OK, 2.5 years to be exact) that I need to get fit again. I have been saying that I will get up in the morning and go for a walk/jog/run, that I will do yoga classes again, that I will go for more walks during the day, that I will...

Anyway, the fact is that I haven't done anything (aside from my daily dancing sessions with Lily) and I am really quite unfit.

But now my sloth time has officially come to an end. You see, I have a new personal trainer and he takes my fitness so seriously that he has moved in with us for 5 weeks. Not only that but he is forcing me to go for a run every morning and then for several more walks during the day.

It's actually been quite good. Despite the dramatic reduction in my already scarce free-time and sleep, I feel pretty good.

The real question is: will I keep it up when he moves back to Sydney?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Long day (EDIM - Photo 4)

Oh dear. Today was a long one. Lily did not nap. Sadly this was not for want of tiredness... Argh.

To add to our joy, poor P. really really hurt his back and came home incapacitated.

Now they are both in bed and I am waiting up to take Midnight for his last walk of the day before collapsing myself. The touch of my pillow is going to be the best feeling in the whole wide world.

[Oh, BTW, above is a photo of my dirty dishes - which seemed to somehow sum up my day. Don't complain now. At least it isn't Lily or leaves...]

Walking with Grandpa (EDINM - Photo 3)

My Dad came down from Sydney yesterday to bring Midnight (his dog) to stay with us while he and his partner take a holiday in Europe. To Lily this was like Christmas. First, she got her beloved Grandpa in the house for a whole day. And now she gets to keep Midnight at our place for a good few weeks.

We took Midnight for a walk last night and I snapped this shot of her holding Grandpa's hand and watching Midnight run around like a "mad fool". I think you can see the sheer contentment in her eyes.

Also, for good measure, here is another shot of the autumn leaves - this time from our neighbourhood. I am really enjoying this process of focusing a bit more on my photography. Now I just have to take photos of something other than Lily and leaves...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Every day in May - photo 2

Yesterday evening I went for a walk around the lake with my good friend Angela. Canberra is a pretty beautiful place in Autumn and it is especially so around Lake Burley Griffin. The reds, yellows & oranges of the leaves look glorious set against Canberra's eternally blue sky. Then it all gets reflecting in the lake and the result is really quite special.

However, what I like even more is watching the sun set after such a perfect blue sky day. The slow decent into nighttime is just stunning. I remember when I was feeling especially homesick, while living in the States as a teenager, I would see the sun setting over the lake in my mind and yearn just to look at it again. Odd, I know. But there you have it.

And, because I couldn't chose just one photo, I'll leave you now with a few more images from our walk. I hope that you are having a lovely weekend!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Every day in May - photo 1

I took Lily into town last night to ride on the Merry-Go-Round. I love the Merry-Go-Round in Civic. I have such fond memories of riding on it as a child and I am really enjoying reliving those memories with Lily.

She has recently decided that she wants to ride on her own horse (instead of sharing one with me). I think it's great, but I'm still terrified that she is going to fall off...

After our Merry-Go-Round ride we had dinner at Sizzle Bento - "really veggie udon* and agadashi tofu". It was yum. Then we wandered past Mooble and P. and I both ended up with new tops (him a lovely organic cotton zip-up top in "Kermit green" and me a black icebreaker thermal).

It was actually a very successful shopping evening for me. Earlier I went shopping all by myself (after dropping Lily off at P.'s office to destroy things and generally entertain him and his workmates). Ah bliss. After trying on about 20 million items of clothing (all of which were too big), I actually managed to find some pants that fit me (cords, not jeans) and a new jumper/jacket (it is one of those really long jumpers that is kind of like wearing your dressing gown out - how comfy is that!).

*Their normal veggie udon soup has fish stock in it and so the munchkin-women that owns the place calls our version "really" veggie udon in order to distinguish it.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Every day in May - a photo

Claire over at Loobylu posted the other day about her plans to do something creative every day in May - inspired by Elena's habit of painting every day in May - and it got me all inspired to do the same.

Since I will be camping in Kakadu National Park for a few days this May (yay!), I thought that the most realistic plan for me would be to commit to taking at least one photo a day in May. I will attempt to post one up here every day, but some days this won't happened (especially when I am camping)... Still, I think that it is going to fun and hopefully I'll end up with some interesting images to share with you.

What about you? Would you like to do something creative every day in May? Maybe in the kitchen? Maybe on your sewing machine?

Spicy bean burgers

You might remember that I made some spicy bean patties on the weekend. Well, we ate them for dinner on Wednesday evening and I am happy to report that they were very yummy.

So, I thought that I would share the recipe with you.

Bean patties:
1 tbl olive oil
Half a red capsicum (red pepper), finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a handful of button mushrooms, diced
1 can of kidney beans (or equivalent dried and soaked if you are far more virtuous and organised than I), drained and rinsed
one tomato, diced
2 potatoes, washed, diced and steamed
1 tbl tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped coriander
salt & pepper to taste
1 tbl wholemeal flour
Oil for brushing

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Heat oil over a medium heat and then add the capsicum. (Note: you could happily add some diced onion and garlic at this stage too. We just can't eat it yet, because it makes Lily sick.) Stir for a few minutes and then add the spices. Stir around to coat spices with oil and then add the mushrooms. Let them cook until they have browned a little and then add the beans and potato. Cook until the potato has slightly browned and then add the tomato and tomato paste. Stir for a couple more minutes and remove from heat. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Place the mixture into a bowl and mash. When there aren't too many lumps left, add the coriander and mix through. Shape into balls, roll in flour, and then place on a greased baking tray and flatten slightly. Brush lightly with oil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until brown and slightly crispy (on the outside).

Tahini sauce:
2 tbl tahini
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Place first three ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. It will have thickened considerably. Now add water and shake again. Repeat until it reaches desired consistency and then use to pour all over your burger.

For the burgers:
Sourdough bread (or bagel, or...)
Grated beetroot
Grated carrot
Sliced cucumber
Sliced tomato
Mushrooms, fried in olive oil & sumac
Tahini sauce

Assemble and eat.


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