You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2011.

It’s finally spring, and we just can’t help ourselves.  We’ve spent the last few weekends expanding our garden and filling out our pots and planters.  Every weekend, it’s a plant or two more… Last weekend, we were at a local nursery and spotted some adorable hanging succulents – round little moss balls of dangling joy.  So cool, had to have one, maybe a couple.

Only problem was the shop lady seemed to think this 10″ ball of dirt + mother nature was worth $60, for one! So instead, we brainstormed on the walk back to our house as to how to DIO (do it ourselves).  Then we jumped on the tram, did a little googling in transit, bought the necessary materials for $40,and in 2 hours flat had ourselves 4 adorable little Kokedama.

(plus enough leftover bonsai soil and moss for at least 4 more!)

The process is shockingly simple, but two sets of hands was definitely necessary for the wrapping. Check out the DIY instructions.

Man, I’ve got a travel itch.  It doesn’t take long (its only been a month since our trip to the U.S.), and then it starts.  Gnawing, nagging… Digging in a little deeper until its red and raw and I’ve just gotta put on my walking shoes and go.  Unfortunately I have zero time to escape at the moment, given we’re a man down at work and a new deal seems to pop up every other day.

So for now, daydreams of the summer months to come will have to sustain me.  Like Christmas with K&D and NYE in Sydney. Australia Day camping on the GOR, and a Valentines Day weekend getaway in Tassie.  Then back to back visits from dad and donna (New Zealand here I come!) and Lisa and Matt (a hem… that’s a reminder web-cough in your direction Lisa!) in March and April.  Work? what work??

Sigh.  Can it be December NOW!!?!!  

Until then, more daydreams and a throw back…

This is me on my first international adventure (if you dont count intra-womb travels with the host mother), taking the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, BC. 

Woo hoo! Is that the face of a girl with a passion for travel, or what?

We just saw one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen.  Seriously, my face hurts from 1.5 hours of smiling with unabashed glee and child-like wonder.  Think hip hop meets cirque du soleil meets electronic-jazz-funk-guitar solo mashup meets fast-n-furious drumming meets the best beat boxer you could imagine.  Then you might have some idea…

If you’re in Melbourne, you MUST go to see the Tom Tom Crew.  One week left.  If you live in a major city worldwide, they travel and when they come to your city you MUST go.  And if you just can’t wait to see what I’m talking about, well there’s always youtube.

Woo hoo!! Perhaps due to my laments on the lack of good old fashioned street protests here in Australia, the Occupy Wall Street movement has gone global and is coming live to Melbourne this weekend.  Look for me among the Aussies, I’ll be the one carrying a red, white and blue banner (oh wait…)

This weekend, I attempted to make pasta from scratch.  I resolved to do so at the beginning of 2011, and have been plotting this culinary adventure for the last few weeks, diligently reading and re-reading the pages of a book about pasta making I bought months ago.

Saturday, I bought all the necessary ingredients: “00” flour from the local deli; prosciutto, pecorino and pear for the ravioli filling.  And on Sunday, Steve & I had a cooking date day and big plans for the kitchen.  First up, pasta-making.

I love fresh pasta and it seemed simple enough – make a well of flour, insert 3 eggs and a tbsp of salt, incorporate flour into egg mixture until sticky dough is formed, knead. (so says my book)

In my first attempt, I broke the well. Raw eggs EVERYWHERE! Steve encouraged me to try again.

In my second attempt, I gingerly incorporated the flour grain by grain.  I stirred, ever so gently, the liquid mixture to thicken it with the tipo “00” flour.  A tiny crack in my well formed, but with various stents I managed to avoid the gooey-eggs-running-down-workbench fiasco that ended my first attempt.

I kneaded the dough, pushing and pulling, and yearning for the “elastic and soft” texture my efforts were supposed to yield.  I kneaded some more.  And more…. But try as I did, my dough was neither soft nor elastic. No, it was more dry, rough, and concrete-like. 

I sighed, and stuck a fork in it.

I made a stiff cocktail to ease the pain of my pasta-making failure from supplies on hand (Bombay, fresh pressed granny smith apple juice, lemon juice (around the rim) and a splash of dry red muscato in the bottom).  Umm, yum!  Like a bitter and savory Long Island Ice Tea (without the 12-liquor induced headache afterwards.)

Then I whipped up a tasty white bean dip, and enjoyed a snack with my adult beverage.

Fortified, I dug into dessert.  I had bought 12 pints of strawberries at the market.  

(what?  it was $10.  how could I resist?)

When life hands you a box of strawberries, you must make cake.

We were so stuffed, we decided to scrap dinner (lamb rack) and call it a night.  Pasta FAIL.  Fun cooking date day, SUCCESS!!

I’ve never been a big fan of cannelloni beans, but chefs here love them (in salads, on pizzas…).  I’ve had a can sitting in my pantry staring at me for months, so I decided to give this recipe a try.  Delish.  The beans are so mild that the parsley and garlic really come through, balanced by the lemon juice.  And it’s super easy.

white bean dip

  • 1 can cannelloni beans
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice and a bit of zest
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with french bread and/or crackers, and assorted cheeses.

This is why I love Melbourne; there’s always something on.

Saturday night, Litsa & I took in Vienna after Dark at the NGV International — an art exhibit featuring the likes of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiede and the musical theater of Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen.  As we walked back to the CBD for another glass of wine, we noticed the buildings of the Art Centre lit up in a spectacular show.

The Art of Conflict, a digital light works display utilizing the contours of the buildings themselves as a canvas, fittingly, from The Electric Canvas.

So sweet.

I’ve always loved tulips.  I have countless pictures of me as a child bent down to sniff the elegant petals of spring’s bloom (but, ironically, no pictures of my disappointed face when I realized tulips don’t actually have a scent).

Tulips have a great history.  As any good financial analyst knows, tulips were the source of the first economic bubble (and collapse) in Holland in the early 17th century, trading, for a brief period of time, for 10x the annual salary of an average worker in gold…

…and why not, for a bloom this beautiful?

Growing up in good old North Andover, my family always visited the Stevens Garden is spring for our tulip fix.  The last few years in D.C., the three of us would trek down to the tulip library by the cherry blossom- and tourist-dotted banks of the Jefferson Memorial.  And in Australia this weekend, we visited the Tesselaar Tulip Farm.

The Tesselaars came to Australia from the Netherlands years ago, and started their family farm in the Yarra Valley.  But contrary to public perception, and despite persistent images of the tulip along side clod-bearing maids, the Dutch were not the original tulip growers.  Nay, the Turks are thought to have supplied the first bulbs to the booming Dutch economy, triggering a national obsession, a breakthrough in botanical science, the boom and bust years of “tulip mania” and centuries of associating fields of blooming tulips with spring.

(Incidentially, Michael Pollan’s The Botony of Desire is a fabulous book about the interdependent relationship of man and plant and has a great chapter on tulips.)

Pictures of our day at Tesselaar are on the photos page.

One of the things I loved about D.C. was that there was always someone protesting something.  Especially in Lafayette Park, at the back of the White House, which I passed through every day to walk to the office.  Through rain and snow, you could always count on the anti-nuclear war guys; been there every day since 1981 and still going strong.

Some pictures from a blog called “Ordinary Places, Ordinary People” of NYC street protests.  

You don’t have to agree with the message.  You don’t have to stand out there with them.  But to me, there is no more cherished right of free expression than the ability to stand in the street with a sign and speak your mind.  And I have such admiration for those willing to stand proud and express themselves, even (or perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with the message. 

Seeing these pictures of people lining the streets of lower Manhattan to speak their minds made me proud to be an American today, and a bit nostalgic for home.