Saturday, April 30, 2011

anachronism (1 of 2)

We ventured out this weekend. I was amazed myself.

We had a five day break at the end of school holidays, for Easter and ANZAC day how wonderful, even just thinking about it coming was a little shiver of excitement. Especially seeing as the Autumn weather was perfect on each and every one of those days!

Phoenix and Beatrix's school is turning 125 this year, and they are celebrating it next week by dressing up and doing some activities from the era. There will be a period costume part, and I thought seeing the the Gold rush days of the 1850's in Victoria up-close and personal would give me inspiration. Sovereign Hill, open air museum and object of many a school excursion, here we come.

Two hours drive later, but amazingly enthusiasm un-dampened. Kids good, Aaron good, only got a little bit lost on the way. Maybe 100ks extra, maximum, but we made a great drive/navigator team and the kids made up "we're lost and we're gonna die of starvation" songs, so fantastic really.

I had always remembered the boiled lollies of Sovereign Hill, from the excursions with school when I was younger. So when I saw the shop, I said We have to take the kids in here! Phoenix walked ahead with my Nephew, really excited. He had his own money, and he's a careful spender. Can I buy something? Please?

I say yes and they are off like a shot, coming out with one of those comic-weapon-sized lollipops I have always said he couldn't have. Good on him.


I love the people, like the fella who sat and played the harmonica. There are those who wonder the street like they are going about their business, almost oblivious to your presence. It is really like you are watching them but they don't see you, it's a little eerie.

Like a movie sceneharmonica

Of course they will speak if you ask them a question.
California purple2 women

See what I mean they really look like they are actually going somewhere, I imagine them whispering about their weekend at the club,about how hung over they are, how can you talk of such things in a gown like that.
New York bakery womenpeacocks

It's a wonder these horse drawn carts don't take down a pedestrian, my son Phoenix had to dash for sweet life as one came round the corner. I laughed.

Even these two little lovelies, visitors like us but American I think, dressed the part. As did my husband, despite my constructive criticism. One of the mine workers said it was a "fine hat," but they get paid to say that.

Holly was her namepeacock

It was just nice, too, to just be together, doing something nice.

dirty hands and lollypop

Circe was already a happy little camper on this whole outing, with an apple lollipop she wasn't letting go of, but really good and easy. There was one time she was so taken by the peacocks she too would have walked away, a bit too far really. And she leant really far over machinery a few times. And the trampling horse thing, like with Phoenix. But man did she hold on to that lollipop, and that dandelion, and she wasn't going to sleep either until this thing was all gone. At like nine o'clock. But good the whole time, really.

Dandelion  should have been her nameDandelion and peacock

Another really good thing were the houses, you could walk through the little dwellings of various types. From the surprisingly cosy canvas tent with wooden roof and fireplace, up to proper houses that Aaron says we couldn't have afforded if we lived back then. And they were pretty small.
Wash house
A walk through the cottages, looking at the furniture, it might make you thankful for your Boshe or your Miele. I am glad for the advances we have, but I love the simplicity too. Like the all-wooden trough, sides and all, man I 'd love one of those.
Bluesimple lightwash

But it was getting late, since we'd left the house two and a half hours late, and there was still lots to do.

(2/2) Soon to come.

Friday, April 22, 2011

pom poms are meant to make you smile

On one of my weekly op-shop trips I found a wonderful bag of tapestry wool, all made in France, and of varying colours, the whole lot cost me two dollars. My little heart instantly saw the pompoms of my childhood.

So to work I set, cutting out cardboard doughnut shapes. Each length of wool was eight metres, the thicker wool working out the best otherwise I'd suggest ten metres. Each one takes about 30 minutes. You can work with two metre lengths at a time, this is easier.

I get carpel tunnel so this was not a great exercise for me! Luckily Beatrix (my ten-year-old) had a friend staying the last two days, well these two were like Nannas on my porch chatting and giggling whilst threading the pompoms. I couldn't resist the urge to bring them tea and warm brownies.

no way, random

Thank you Soule Mamma for these yummy brownies from Smitten Kitten.

Seeing as this pom-pomming went on well into the afternoon and early evening I easily whipped these up whilst baby napped and the rest of the crew were over the road first at one neighbour's baking cake and then at another's watching a DVD together, gotta love my street.


Ohh back to the pompoms, so pleasing, some feeling so full and round and soft. I enjoyed seeing them pile up and then line up, enjoyed looking forward to them ultimately being a garland for my bedroom. Anticipation builds.

puff IIIpuff Ipuff IIpuff IV

I strung them, we hung them, and we admired our work. Even baby said "cute."


Well little did I realise Miss three Eliza Lou didn't think too much of this whole whooo-haaa. When we'd all finished fussing, she secretly went into my room and pulled them down.

When I first found them gone and then found them impossible-to-fix tangled up and shoved under a pillow, I was so upset and cross at her. I just couldn't understand why she did it. I sat her down, sat her down for the longest time out she has ever had, ever. I felt she needed to understand that she could not ruin something another person had made. Not just that I'd made, but that Beatrix and her friend had made.

I was really cross.

I felt really disappointed in her, I am still trying to understand whether there was a reason or not. At some level, though, I am now thinking have I taken this all a too seriously and too much to heart. They're just pompoms for goodness sakes. Pompoms are meant to make you smile.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Musk 2/2

natural companion to al fresco dining
Our arrival here at Musk was one I had looked forward to. I'd noted the corrugated iron shed on our last visit here. Rusted, weathered, a little neglected, before us now was the same weathered shed defined and led to by a gate woven with found sticks and twigs. The shed now stood at one with its surrounds, quaint, quirky, and showed a love for the place it sat on, a home away from home, the freedom to shrug off the weight of the city after a week at work.

I could see my neighbours heart and soul here, I knew she had sold and gotten rid of a lot of her belongings to be at this point now. I admire her for that.

I could see why she escaped to this place so often and why she would do so on her own. I fell in love this space every window pane and ledge, I loved the sturdy confident sound of the french doors closing on the walls of the rough iron shed. The interior light and relaxing calm, a sienna painted wall. Art deco mirrors on the walls matched beautifully with a pale green three piece 1920's twin settee and armchairs, that had belonged to her grandmother.

We settled in after the long drive and watched as the rain ended any effort to unpack the car. "Shall we have tea", someone said.

My neighbour whisks out her delightful flourless orange cake laden with vanilla bean orange syrup, ohhhh I know how good this cake is. I don't ever make it cause she makes it so well. This time it is so fragrant and even more yummy, I didn't think that cake could get any better.
too good
Dinner was a simple mix of meats cooked on the bbq and some salads my neighbour had earlier prepared. She'd invited some mutual friends we hadn't caught up with them in 3 years. Eight children now played indoors and ate dinner half retreated to the caravan to play trouble. Us adults ate and drank wine and had our second cake for the day. Two cakes in one day how good is that.

Our visitors gone, getting quite dark, and a car still to unpack. That is never fun and this time made worse by the incessant rain. As sleeping arrangements were made the floor soon lined with sleeping bags mattresses and donnas one big slumber party, not really there were some tears, too tired a little constipated maybe from fear of composting toilet and crayfish caravan. We had made jokes about he ghost of the crayfish caravan earlier and well it sits beside the toilet, mmm not a good idea.

I retreated to the caravan with circe in arms, The rain pelted down and sounded even louder in the caravan, Circe loves the rain. She feed and was soothed off to sleep, she didn't mind the caravan the porta-cot or anything. I plugged in the monitor none the less, went back to help out to return here in a short while to sleep.

Morning saw our breath visible in the cold crisp air. The drizzle leaving glistening beads in our hair which sparkled in the warm sun. The distant sloping hill hazy, a mist filtering the morning sunlight, beads of raindrops suspended on barbed wire, rusty iron against soft gum trees, gallahs and kookaburras making a ruckous. I like a good national anthem as much as the next person but this is where I get all clucky about this beautiful country.

I cannot write this without talking of the beauty of cooking on a fire outdoors. I love it everything tastes better, even if the plates or cups are speckled with dirt. Our neighbour normally does a toast breakfast well we influenced her to treat us to a yummy breakfast of pancakes. We all helped of course, even Beatrix getting to cook her own for the first time ever. When you camp pancakes are a treat and ones with sliced banana and honey made from their bees right there are just the ticket.
We even fried up some eggs, tore off some dill and served it up with crispy bacon.
I drizzled mine in lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt, WOW never knew how good that combination was till now. Hot tea is another down right necessity and doesn't it taste so good had sitting damp and cold licking sticky honeyed fingers.
There were dishes to be done in the outdoor sink, I like the rituals of this kind of living, they are basic and enjoyable out here they don't seem so mundane.
it's a double burner
perfrection in three
We all took a drive out to the surrounding areas Newstead, Creswick, Maldon, and Castlelmaine, This was a pleasant drive the terrain here is hilly, beautifully lush and green where the rivers run through. Castlemaine is a lovely old gold-mining town. Some buildings untouched, it's a real step back in time coming to places like this.

The drive was long and tiring I'd woken at six am, luckily the driving was able to be shared, that helped.

We returned tired and ready for a hot tea more cake, the kids were well and truly ready for their smores. for those who don't know smores are toasted marshmallows sandwiched hot between chocolate and Grahm crackers in our case Granita biscuits.
We even let them have them before their sausages in bread.

We packed and were ready to take to the road again homeward bound. The rain beginning again. I was so thankful my neighbour offered to drive. The children snoozed most of the drive and on arrival back home only required a tucking into their beds with a hot water bottle, Lucky little sods.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

musk (1 of 2)

We were away this weekend.

We hadn't been away, even for a night, since Circe was born. She's eighteen months old, I think we really needed to get outdoors. And we especially needed to have Circe see the wide open spaces, smell the crisp country air, and to sleep somewhere other than her own cot.

We were invited out to Musk,a small town just outside Daylesford, by our neighbour. We'd been there before a couple of times(each time with the new-season's spanking baby in tow) when there had been a house to stay in.

Because now there wasn't. The neighbours had shifted 50 meters, from a proper two-bedroom-brick building to a slightly-converted shed. Them calling it "the shed" made me not sure how feel about sleeping there, until the offer of a caravan soothed me. But I was ready for the open fire cooking, the raspberry picking, even ready for the composting toilet.
I was not ready for just how cold it was. Or how wet. It rained from our arrival well into the small hours of Sunday.

The rain didn't deter my neighbour from his bonfire. We had noticed the glow well before we pulled up to the property on Saturday. The weather was turning, the afternoon was grey and grim, the fire amazingly orange and huge against the sudden dark of 2:30 pm. Huge, huge and orange, it filled the whole of my view, snapping in the wind.

I pulled half into the drive but stopped and stared, in fear, actually.

Phoenix is our seven year old, and he had travelled ahead of us that morning in our neighbour's car, and has been up to Musk several times without us. He loves it, loves coming back filthy, and my husband tries to avoid washing him, to slip him into bed smelling of smoke so that he can hold on to the feeling.
my eyes!
As I sat open mouthed, feeling the heat prickling my skin from ten meters away, I said to Aaron "Phoenix is never coming here alone again." Me being such a chicken is part of why I love him going up there without us.

Once I'd gotten the courage up to drive the rest of the way in, we were greeted by his bright red cheeks and messy blond locks. The fire makes him a little wild, a little rougher around the edges, I love to see that in him. But it scares me.

Part two, Being there, to come

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recipe Wednesday - just bagels

These bagels are chewy yet crispy when baked, they are fantastic, don't even think you are making them to freeze cause there will be none left.

Just bagels
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup extra water for the dough if needed
(not needed if you put 100 grams berries in)
2 tsp (one sachet) dried yeast
1/2 cup (70g) caster sugar
2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups (2 lt) water, extra
1 egg yolk
1 tbs milk
1/4 cup (60g) white sugar
cream cheese, raspberries, blueberries to serve

0. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

1. Combine water, yeast and two tablespoons of caster sugar in a jug. (Berries if you're using them, too.) Set aside until frothy, which should take five minutes or so.

2. In a big bowl combine the flour, cinnamon and salt and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast mixture into the well, and stir it until the dough just comes together.

Add slightly more water if needed. I found I had to add another 1/2 cup without berries, but it should not be wet at all, just right.

Now for an upper-arm workout: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it. For ten minutes! Stop when dough is smooth and elastic. Put it in a really large bowl and loosely wrap with cling wrap. Find a warm, draught-free place and pop it there for thirty minutes, or until the dough rises by half. (So pay attention when you put it in the bowl how much there is, ok?)

3. Put the extra two litres water and remaining sugar in a large saucepan, put the heat on high bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, or whatever gives you a simmer.

4. Brush oil on a flat tray. Divide the dough in half three times, to get eight even portions. Roll each dough-eighth into a ball and push a gentle-and-lightly-floured finger through the middle. Bagels have holes, you know. Flatten the ball a little and put on the oiled tray. Leave aside for ten minutes to rise a bit.

5. Carefully pop a few of the bagels to simmering water, my pot holds four at a time. Use your judgement but don't crowd them. The need for three minutes on each side, use a slotted spoon to turn the little suckers over. Then use the same spoon to fish them out and return to oiled tray. Keep going until you've boiled every bagel.

6. Finally, in a medium bowl whisk egg yolk and milk together. Brush it over the bagels and sprinkle with sugar. Then into the preheated oven for twenty minutes or so, until they are the stereotypical "golden brown" and are cooked through. (You'll probably have no problems finding a guinea pig to see if one's cooked.)

7. Take them out of the oven and set aside to cool. Here I recommend either an electric fence of some barbed wire to keep little fingers out. Nothing less will work. Serve hot or toasted.

apples and oranges

treasure chestow, my eye!, originally uploaded by various brennemans.

There is monotony in the drives you take everyday, to and from work or school. Of late the mornings are cold, grey.

I pass this house on one of my regular drives, I love it. I love the pop of orange and yellow in an otherwise dull and grey concreted multi-apartment same sameness. Makes me want to paint something orange, makes me think 'this is where the sun is hiding!' Or at least 'these guys are cool.'

brunch behind bagelyou like apples?

Cold mornings breaking into warmish noons have been just delightful. The slight warmth perfect for a bowl of rising sweet bagel dough. These chewy crisp bagels were so yummy, I made them for our Sunday brunch.

My Autumn so far been filled with home grown apples, yellow light filled afternoons, time spent washing woolens, sorting everybody's wardrobes, and sewing my baby some new warm pants for the cooler days ahead.

him jimpup cup

And what a cute snuggly corduroy-ey bundle of owlness she is.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


bubbling, originally uploaded by various brennemans.
I am feeling pretty happy this week.

I finally got round to picking up another sewing project, I'd felt like I'd maybe lost the sewing bug. I hadn't, it just got hidden under mounds of washing, yummy crumbles, too many apples (and chestnut spiky thing-ies) to pick up from the front yard, and sunny mornings too good to stay indoors.

But then the afternoon came this Tuesday where one child slept and one was at kinder, I'd prepared madly all morning, the washing was on the line, the table was clear a simple stir fry was on the menu, for dinner. Tuesday is mad for me, I get the kids ready for my one school pick up of the week that a friend does for me. The two little kids and I spend the morning at home together. We dash out at 1.30 to take Eliza to kinder. I won't even tell you how hard it is to keep Circe awake the whole drive there and back. One wink of sleep and it's a power nap, don't like those. I am out again for 4.30 and 5.00pm pick ups from after-care at school and kinder. Yes it's crazy. So a quiet me time in that kinder period whilst baby Circe sleeps is so rewarding. In that nap I managed to make... a strap for a bag.
I'd really wanted another bag, a smaller one for wallet phone and keys. My recently purchased Linen Wool Cotton book had a great pattern for a messenger bag. I altered the size, added an internal mobile-phone pocket, and used linen instead of wool and hemp. I thought it best to make it tailor my needs and petit-ness. Often bag straps in particular are too long if you are too short like me.

Later that night I finished off the bag, there was a frustrating unpicking episode. I ought to listen to my husband, he always says pin it and then turn it out, I hate it when he's right. Despite the unpicking the end result is a well made great little bag
messenger bag - isometric
I love the size and love the orange sugar and spice lining, makes me happy every time I open my bag.
messenger bag - front
Leading up to making the bag this week I had been on the look out for some vintage linens at the op shop. I have my few places I visit weekly, funnily enough I see the same one man each time I am there, I wonder does he realise he sees me every time he's there too. I wonder why he needs 6 bags, does he resell them, he seems to look for specific items. I wonder whether he is as intrigued by why I am buying 3 vintage linen sheets and 4 belts. Of my sheets purchased my favourite is the floral brown and yellow, I am seeing a lining for a black denim bag in that, and a summer dress and skirt for next year. Besides Pip Lincoln will have a new book out for the Summer and I will need fabric for that. The others may become toddler dresses, summer bloomers for Circe and shared with my neighbour.
vintage vantage


I am inspiration found and bound for the drawing board after tonight, Dawn Tan's pop up shop was at Harvest textiles.I had noticed a sign up on one of my many car trips to and from kids too far school from home trips. That day I said "Bea did you see that?"

"hah? what?"

She has her head in a book from the moment I pick her up till well after I get into the house everyday. "Dawn Tan is having a pop up store at the textile place," I say.

Her face lights up when I tell her I will take her. I wonder whether she ought to have her head less in a book sometimes and maybe talk to me on the drive home.
I like taking Beatrix out, she appreciates things some other kids wouldn't. We took along her best friend whom also love the work.

Beatrix loved seeing Dawn's work up close, especially the project on all that she ate for a week. We'd seen this project featured in Frankie. We were so inspired we tried it out for a day, I might add here that she is a mighty talented watercolour-ist my little Bea.
menu I

But I booked a spot for me in one of Dawn's watercolour class, I cannot wait.


After my post last week on Ceres (my local environmental park, organic market- farm) I returned Wednesday to spend another sunny morning and took some shots I promised to deliver!
sign of the times
So if you'd like to see more take a closer look off to the side there at flickr and you will find more on the organic market and get a feel for the place and the kind of lovely laid-back morning one has there.
no deposit trolley system
If you are perusing my blog from overseas note the cost per banana, due to recent cyclone Yasi, ouchh expensive, but hey those poor farmers lost everything.
truth in advertising
This has been some of my week, the weekend involves, more picking up of apples and spiky thigies as a prickle under foot of a 17 month old is nasty. We have a couple of brunches one to attend and one to host, we have a friend's gorgoues son to meet a little better on their visit to Melbourne. There will be some baby swooning on my husband's part I am expecting. I wonder whether I will sneek a moment to make that denim bag some time tomorrow, maybe an extra hour from the end of daylight savings will help, ha that never happens when you have kids.