Thursday, August 26, 2010

the old ways

Last night I made wontons for the first time after thinking about doing so for awhile, man they were good - and incredibly easy to make! (much easier than I thought they would be anyway).

mmm wontons but alas, not mine (so didn't think I'd be blogging about them!) Image: What Did You Eat?
So as I sat wrapping and folding (they are easy to make but like any good food, took time to prepare), I started thinking how this must be a lovely rite-of-passage or bonding experience for Asian mums and kids (well let's face it, most probably Asian mums and daughters) sitting together and learning the 'old ways' of preparing traditional dishes, and I did kind of wish I had a surrogate Asian mum or auntie to sit and learn this from (instead of Auntie YouTube).

This is such an important part of our childhood and adolescence, but of course we never realise this until we are adults as well. I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my mum, rolling dolmas (mine were always the fat ones), skewering meat for kebabs until our fingers were red from the capsicum paste or folding spinach and feta boeregs (you could just tell which (wonky) ones were mine), usually chatting about inane stuff but now I realise what special times these were. My mother probably had to beg me or threaten starvation if I didn't help, and at the time I probably saw it as a major chore but I do reminisce about these occasions fondly. I have retained most of the knowledge with regards to the dishes themselves but I have decided to get cooking lessons whenever I am with my mum (she lives interstate). Especially in Australia with such a multi-cultural population, if we don't get these recipes down now we might lose them, definitely if your mum puts her own 'secret' ingredients in.

I so far have got my favourites down - although they still never taste as good as mum makes - why is this so? I am following her instructions to the letter... But maybe this is the problem, she never uses measurements and weights - always does things by eye, so this may be something that comes with practice...hopefully. Still got many recipes to go but getting there.

One of my aunts was born in Calcutta and we always got to eat her amazing curries at the bring-a-plate family get-togethers we had so many of when we were younger. Some time ago, I decided I was not only going to learn the old ways from my own mum, but from others as well so I had wonderful thoughts of spending an afternoon with my Auntie J in her kitchen, grinding spices and learning to make traditional curry from an expert. I approached her about my idea and she said to use a jar as it was just as good and she had been doing so for years! I was devastated! All those spices! All those aromas!

Alas, it was not to be, but it has not put me off my mission. There are many foods that are certain aunt specialties (I am thinking of your mamool Auntie Z!) and I can envisiage many afternoons in kitchens soon. Plus I have a Punjabi mate who makes a mean curry so I might just have that sorted too.

Tabouli (Image: Down to Earth Recipes)
PS. Just realised there have been no recipes or tips in here after all my waffling on about the old ways. Here is one of the best tips I've been given, it's for making tabouli: rather than soak the bulghur in water, chop the tomatoes up first and mix in with bulghur, let sit and the grain soaks up all the tomatoey juicy goodness, and makes for soft tasty bulghur in your home-made tabouli! This tip was from my Auntie A - thank you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yo Gabba My Gabba

My name is Sandra and I like to DANCE!

This was the status update of one of my mates on FB recently (you made me laugh A!) and it got me giggling, but also got me thinking... is Yo Gabba Gabba not the coolest kid's show to come about since the Muppets??

DJ Lance Rock (Image LA Mag)
First, there is the ever groovy DJ Lance Rock. His dance antics in his luminous orange trakkies are a joy to watch alone, not to mention the orange furry hat and nerdy glasses - he is one cool cat.

Then there are his mates-in-a-boombox... Muno the lumpy cyclops ('he's tall and friendly'), Foofa the pink one with a flower on her head ('she's pink and happy'), Brobee the stripey green one with strangely long arms ('the little green one'), Toodee who looks a bit like a blue cat ('she likes to have fun') and Plex the retro yellow robot ('the magic robot'). They each have their own little realms in Gabbaland. The show is a mixture of animated and musical segments, with a central educational theme running through the whole thing (eg. Birthday, Space or Differences).

The Gabba Gang (Image CID Entertainment)
The show is different because it was devised by musician & writer parents as opposed to network executives. It was created by Christian Jacobs (from the band The Aquabats) and Scott Schultz after they themselves became parents in 1999 and were disappointed with the children's television programming at the time (so don't blame them, still disappointing for the most part, with a few bright spots here and there!).

The awesomeness comes through with the retro video game styling, the fact that kids are constantly told to get up and dance, how great music is, the bright colours and simple message for kids each time. Plus there's the Super Music Friends Show! Each episode usually features an indie band singing a fab song, like The Ting Tings singing 'Happy Birthday' or Hot Hot Heat with 'Time to go Outdoors', this is the segment I watch for!

Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba (Image via
Yo Gabba Gabba also have loads of friends come on and do a Dancey Dance, like Elijah Wood and Jack Black, or show us their Cool Trick, like Rhys Darby doing his robot moves. This and the music makes the show popular with kid's parents as well the kid's themselves, and apparently popular with teens due to the high calibre of musical acts they feature.

Plus they have cool merch, check out Lucas' funky Muno socks from my friend L...! Too cute.

Very cool Muno socks - thanks L!
And remember, "Listening and Dancing to Music is AWESOOOOMME!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sisters' Market day

Why have I not gone to one of these earlier??? Sisters' Market runs every 2 months from Brunswick Town Hall (also sometimes in St Kilda) and I finally got to one of them thanks to a tip-off from A - thanks A! Had seen them advertised periodically but never found out what they were - so glad I made it last Saturday!

The market consists of local designers and manufacturers selling their crafty goodness. Everything from retro lamps, funky jewellery to cool kids threads and yum aromatherapy candles. I only had an hour to get around this one (not to mention a strained wallet) which was a bummer - next time I come for a good long while and money to spend!

Some of my faves:

Retro Print Revival

Retro Print Revival's stall at Sisters' Market
Tamara Watts finds all those funky ceramic retro lamps everyone is coveting and pairs them up with these great original prints on her custom-made lampshades. How fab is this butterfly/bronze one? Wish I had a spot for it in my tiny house...

love love love!

zee&me's cute stall at Sisters' Market
Such cute prints on these tees for kids! And awesome designs for boys. So often I find all the best kid's clothes out there are for girls, boys get stuck with the 'Monster' ones so I was chuffed to see the gorgeous threads for boys by Rosemaree Russo and Melissa Serratore, local girls who have been doin what they do for a year now. And the feelgood factor is there too with all product sourced ethically and no cheap labour used. Bonus!

How cool is this Whale design for boys, too cute
Maxymoo Designs

Just loved these little canvases from Maxymoo, so perfect for little people's rooms, I could not buy any as I would have had to have them all and made an awesome collage on the wall of the boys' room. Actually, now I'm thinking...

Fab canvases from Maxymoo

Tracey Hanson has been hand-painting these little canvases for 5 years, and she also has two small boys (although they prob aren't so small now). As she explains on her site, because little people's worlds are already so busy, she wanted to design kid's art that goes back to the fundamentals, strong colour with bold graphics - and it works!

The Maxymoo stall, Sisters' Market
Wood hangings by Maxymoo

cherry stew

This one is mine!
I loved Madeleine Somers work, I so nearly bought this purple pic but just had no cashola (sorry Madeleine!) plus these are all very limited edition, she mentioned this was the last of the gorgeous purple linen she used - hope I can grab it at your next market! (hmm maybe I'll email you...)

cherry stew at Sisters' Market

Madeleine is a Melbourne girl who makes this fab clothing, quilts, cushions and accessories all with sweet prints and lsuh fabrics, I have a thing about bare trees so just love these designs - will definitely be back!

So sweet! Dress by cherry stew
So many more great stalls here, too many to mention and the fact that I had limited time meant a bit of rushing on my part - poo! But never fear, I shall return! (And just in time for xmas pressies people...)

PS the Bretzels were tasty too!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Toast and Miss Marmalade

Went to Miss Marmalade for brunch on Saturday - first time we have done brunch anywhere since the boys came along. And this was only made possible by the back room with play area at this fab little caf in Brunswick.
Funky lighting at Miss Marmalade
I know, I know, there are heaps of cafes with little play areas around, but often they are in the corner of a main part of the cafe, and the kiddies aren't really away from other diners here. There are plenty of mums who think their lively little sprogs should be tolerated by all and sundry, but people (including myself) go to cafes to have a leisurely meal, not be entertained by other people's kids no matter how unruly they are.

Comfy-but-cool interior of the front dining area
This is the nice thing about Miss Marmalade - the play area is in a whole other room, so kid-free peeps can still hang out the front in peace.

The boys in the play area in the rear room at Miss Marmalade - yay for space!
Quirky art in the back room
Coffee was great, breakfast was yum (I had the corn fritters and hubs had the big breakie of course - both very tasty meals) and the boys were pleased with their sourdough vegemite toast. Have been back a few times since and the coffee has been consistently good, kids area relatively free and staff friendly and super accommodating. Plus the park nearby is rather convenient for a run-about just to ensure little people are well and truly ready for a nap on their return home.

So it wasn't a long and leisurely brunch, but it was still out of the house on a Saturday morning and someone else cooking breakfast for us - spoilt!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the pros and cons of parenthood

Just read an article in the Sunday paper entitled 'Motherhood a piece of cake? You're kidding' by Jo Case, which was a response to a previous article in last week's Sunday paper, 'Is motherhood really that hard?' by Jacinta Tynan.

(A quick disclaimer, this post isn't technically about design, but it is about parenting and writing, which is a kind of design no?)

Robbie, my second, at 2 days old.
I have to say I agree more so with Jo Case about her experiences of motherhood than I do with Jacinta Tynan. For me it's the constant questioning, yes this is the most amazing experience for me, and for us as parents, to have a small person look at you in the way only a 3 year old could - you are like their own personal sun. How can I see this experience of motherhood or parenting as 'difficult' or 'hard' when I should be filled with joy or find it 'exhilarating and rewarding' as Tynan says.

You know what, I do find it exhilarating and rewarding, especially today writing this as I am after a birthday party for said 3 year old. And as much work and cooking as was involved, nothing could match the joy and rapture that was evident on his face when a roomful of people were singing him Happy Birthday. These are the moments that make it worth it ten-fold.

This is the point though, they are moments. When washing crap out of underpants or trying to make dinner with a 1 year old clinging to your leg and whinging for the food you are trying to make - please tell me which of those moments I should be relishing.

Or the difficulty trying to find a part-time job in my industry. To the point where I have decided to start my own business to ensure I work the hours I want and get to spend at least half the working week with my boys. OK so this is a decision I have made, but I feel I have no choice if I want to stay in the career I started, and put your hands up who reckons starting your own biz with 2 kids under 4 is a good idea? I don't see this leading to blissful rewards and endless exhilaration anytime soon. Eventually, maybe, but you have to have goals yeah?

The above articles both showcase very different experiences, and this is what needs to be remembered, we will all have our very own, unique experience of this parenting gig. Some people will take to it like a duck to water and never look back. Others will find each day as difficult as the last and wonder how they would get through it were it not for the loving embrace of their child.

It would be interesting to see another article by Jacinta Tynan in 6 months time. Or after she has another child if she is so inclined. I also remember how blissful a nine month old is, by himself. An excerpt: "I know our baby boy is only nine months old and isn't even crawling yet, let alone tearing through the house crashing pots on to the floor. I know I only have one child who is healthy and I, thankfully, escaped the cruel curse of postnatal depression, but still I can't see what all the fuss is about." Jacinta Tynan 'Is motherhood really that hard', Sunday Age, 2nd August 2010.

Nine month old. One child. 'Easy' baby. No post-natal depression. Already back at work after paid maternity leave*. Sounds pretty good to me, esp the no PND part. Too many people I know (myself included) have gone through enough feelings of despair after having children without having to be told that "hey it's really not all that bad is it?", way to make us feel better.

I found Jo Case's article more relate-able. And I will be checking out her reading list, namely "The Mask of Motherhood" by Susan Maushart and "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan, and from her descriptions, I should have read these some time ago. From Case's article: "Maushart explained motherhood can be painful and crazy-making, but that doesn't mean you don't love your child. This permission to mourn my loss of self was also my gateway to slowly regaining it." It's nice to know it's not just me.

Wow was this ever a ranty post. Feeling much better now! Got anything you want to get off your chest? Feel free...

* From Jo Case article

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wallpaper wonders for little tikes - Inke Heiland

How very awesome are these funky wallpaper animals? Many many thanks to my friend E for sending me this link - I love the elephant!

Wallpaper Elephant by Inke Heiland

They are by Dutch artist Inke Heiland and are available from her online shop. These have been around for some time now but I think they definitely deserve a post here - great way to decorate a kids room, and not a Wiggles poster to be seen! You could do a whole menagerie...
Wallpaper Giraffe by Inke Heiland
Wallpaper Monkey by Inke Heiland
Wallpaper Baby Elephant by Inke Heiland
The idea blossomed from a wildlife design Inke created for her own son's bedroom. In 2004 she exhibited a collection of animal wallpaper silhouettes, and after an enthusiatic response, Inke went on to create the Wallpaper Tree, which comes in different colourways, depending on the season - love it!
Wallpaper Tree in May 066 by Inke Heiland
Wallpaper Tree in October 007 by Inke Heiland  
PS. These are original vintage wallpapers! No two cut-outs are the same and the patterns are available in limited quantities.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

mila's daydreams

My friend H just sent me a link to this site - I just love it - Thanks H!

My Precious Pearl from Mila's Daydreams

What an awesome idea, Adele Enersen is a copywriter on maternity leave in Finland, and is using Mila's daytime naps as inspirations for her dreams, creating these fab landscapes around her.

Bookworm from Mila's Daydreams
From her blog, Adele explains the scenes created only take a few minutes, from creating the idea through to implementing and editing. Mila is placed into the scene while asleep, the picture is taken and she is put back into bed for minimal disturbance.

Up! from Mila's Daydreams
Up! is my favourite, just want to eat her little feet! Such an amazing blog, full of great images and fanciful scenes with the cutest little sleepy bub. It made me think of my little men, and what they might be dreaming about... love it - highly recommended!