Yikes, these newsletters come around quickly don’t they? I am definitely not the type to prepare many newsletters in advance and post them diligently each fortnight. No, I am more of the “SHIT! That essay is due tomorrow!? Who wants to go to the pub?” type of writer. So each fortnight, I text my partner in crime and say “I haven’t started the newsletter...you?” If anyone has some tips on how to get more organised for deadlines, please tell me your secrets. I can prove this was written on the Friday it was due because the Socceroos drew 1-1 with Denmark last night (possibly another reason why I didn’t start this yesterday).
From My Bookshelf:
Simplify Magazine – a digital publication for families.
This is a gorgeous gem of a magazine and not just because its digital which means my loungeroom and bedroom that scream “magazine slut!” can breathe a little easier with out the mountainous stacks of mags I seem to accumulate rather quickly (I’m a sucker for good paper). This mag is beautifully presented in sparse, minimal design, with gorgeous photos and incredibly interesting and thought provoking content. Don’t be put off by the families bit, it’s for anyone wanting a life that is simpler, slower and less cluttered. I have read a few issues so far (I signed up for a lifetime subscription for just $20!) and each issue is a different theme, like technology, minimalism, play and health & wellbeing. You can dip in and out once you download the issues, and there are clever tips, recipes and think pieces on the sort of stuff that I worry about...family meal times, kids and technology, too much stuff, stress and overwhelm...you get the idea. It’s great for a quick read every now and again when you can’t quite commit to the length of a novel, or you have had enough trashy mag rubbish. Find it at www.simplifymagazine.com
Native Kate Herd & Jela Ivankovic-Waters
This lovely thing arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago –a gift from Rolesy, just cause- and I haven’t been able to put it down since. I love natives which is lucky because I inherited a garden filled with them. Who doesn’t love a wattle in bloom giving colour to the landscape in the middle of a bleak winter? The smooth pinkish trunk of a lemon scented eucalypt perfuming the air after a summer storm? Pretty silver dollar gum leaves, the daintiness of a leptospermum in bloom and what about those eremophilas! There is so much loveliness on offer and perfectly adapted to flourish in our harsh climate. I am constantly searching for native colour and form to add to the garden but I certainly learnt the hard way: I spent years, time and a lot of money trying to grow beautiful ornamentals, exotic shrubs and flowers only to have them perish at the first hoary frost, scorching summer day or thousand strong mob of ewes helping themselves to my smorgasbord of plant life. I’ve embraced the environment I have to work with (after a couple of years in denial, to be sure) but what I like most about this relationship is that even when I am not really working on it, they're happily looking after themselves. I honestly gave little thought or attention to my natives this past summer and they positively thrived on the neglect. This book has renewed my passion for gardening again and has given me loads of inspiration to work with. These gorgeous winter days are perfect for getting out amongst it: tidying the beds and planning for spring planting. They're also good for just daydreaming about doing those things over an inspirational book and a coffee on the couch if the chill of an arctic breeze on your cheeks and a frostbitten nose are not your thing.
I spoke about enamelware last week and this week I am continuing on with the vintage kitchenalia theme. The flour sifter. Mine is a beat up aluminium one with a green wooden handle for turning the sieve. I still use it because it seems to get every last bit of flour through with creating a cloudy white mess all over the bench, every last scrap goes in the bowl, and there is something very satisfying about the simple act of turning the little handle and watching the flour fly through to the mixing bowl. I have the fondest memories of standing on a chair by my mother in the kitchen while she baked and being allowed to do the very important job of sifting flour. Even if it doesn’t need doing, or its already been done, it’s a job a child can easily manage without too much disaster.
This typewriter belonged to someone in my father in law’s family and years ago I found it whilst scavenging through an old shed: a favourite past time of mine and a hobby that has uncovered some wonderful treasures (in my eyes) and some not-so-great stuff (see last newsletters Old Timey post). It has been a fixture in our home since that day, and was used at our wedding reception complete with a typed letter thanking our guests for their attendance and their kind contribution toward our Wishing Well. A couple of our friends then cleverly replaced it with a letter thanking our guests for their attendance, and for their kind contribution toward our honeymoon fund. Har dee har har. (Let it be known here, for those of you that did contribute, I can honestly say we did NOT use any of it for our honeymoon. We gambled it all on black one boozy afternoon at the local pub, but honeymoon? No.)
Back to the typewriter…
When I was a child my Nana bought me an electric typewriter for Christmas and I spent day upon day typing the first page of Alice in Wonderland over and over. Yes, I spent hours honing my typing skills that would sadly, for future employers, never come in very handy later in life. I am still a crappy administration type person and thank the makers that be for ‘Clippy’; that smiley paperclip fella who comes up and asks for help when my cursor has been idle too long, or when nothing I write seems to make any sense whatsoever. I still have ZERO idea how to do a spreadsheet and I am not even sure what number the latest Microsoft Windows program is operating on. Hell, I don’t even know the right words to describe the stuff about the computer stuff I am trying to explain. I. am. hopeless. (and now, I guess I’m not in contention for any potential “office type work” that may have come my way as a result of this little admission.) Anyway, I loved writing little stories for no one in particular and fiddling about with margin sizes and capitals, switching back and forth between the red and black inks with that beast. I still love the noise of one clunking along and that ding that reminds you that you’ve gone as far as you can go and need to zip it back along its tracks to the other side. It’s only when I think of having to tap away on one, trying to write a masterpiece, or even just a Bunch of Fives, that I am terribly grateful for technology. Even if I am the hugest self-confessed dolt when it comes to navigating my way through a world that’s developing faster than my brain has the capacity to keep up with. Clearly it is still living somewhere back in the 90’s with Clippy-boy keeping it company where I fear it will stay for the remainder of my life and, soon enough, to the annoyance of my children.
I put this up on my Insta stories a few days ago but nobody has the answer for me. This little felt brooch is the cutest thing I ever did see. It usually lives on my big grey winter coat but I have taken to wearing it on my jumpers lately as its colours seem to just go with anything. The little bunny face with one open eye reminds me of Japanese comics which heavily influenced my illustration and comic art back in the 90s. It was handmade by a Japanese girl who had a stall behind me at the Canberra Handmade Markets about 4 years ago. I wanted to buy every single brooch she had, they were so beautifully made, every stitch was perfect. A little bead for an eye here or there, and a killer combo of tones with a little dash of whimsy. I have absolutely no idea what the business name was, and I asked on instagram if anyone knew who it was. If you have seen them at any markets, please let me know because I want to get more of these little sweethearts. Sooo cuuuute!
Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know that my feed is definitely not beautifully curated nor in any way cohesive. Anyone that knows me in real life will know that that is a pretty apt description of me personally on a daily basis. I do enjoy finding a feed that stills my mind and has been thoughtfully put together with a little less slapshotted-ness than mine. I’ve been following @historyphotographed for a while now and it perfectly indulges my love of both history and popular culture. It is filled with wonderful photos of famous people doing ordinary things, and ordinary folk doing extraordinary things. I could pore over the details and faces of these photos for hours if only someone would give me a few extra’s to play with. There are unbelievable pics of huge industrial construction feats like the building of Hoover Dam, a scruffy haired Abraham Lincoln sans beard. Lumberjacks felling enormous trees in 1915 and the tiniest and most heartbreaking hand of a starving child being held in the palm of a missionary’s hand in Uganda. There are loads of candid photos of the rich and famous of yesteryear and incredible photographs captured of momentous occasions in history. And, just in case you were looking for some inspiration for a nightmare tonight, I’ve included a picture of the first Ronald McDonald from 1963 below. To be honest I'm not sure if he got better or worse but they have managed to consistently keep the ‘creep factor’ to a solid 10 throughout the years so well done for that, I guess.
Time for a High Five! Here’s what’s been belting out of my kitchen this fortnight as well as the bathroom when my boys take off with the bluetooth speaker.
- Seven Nation Army: The White Stripes
- Roving Gambler: Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones
- Beamer: Coach Bombay
- They Say Im Doing Just Fine: Michael Kiwanuka
- Loretta: Gillian Welch
I have been getting stuck into a whole heap of podcasts lately as I chase my tail in circles every day, fooling myself that I am actually cleaning my house. My latest ‘podcession’ (you heard it here first-pretty sure it won’t take off but feel free to drop it if you want) is Heavyweight; each episode begins with the host, Jonathan Goldstein, calling the same old exasperated friend and prattling on to her about something inane that ends with her hanging up on him. It sets the tone for the humorous and quirky way he guides his subjects through their past dilemmas, regrets, what if’s…the ‘heavy weights’ they have been carrying for years, sometimes a lifetime. He considers himself an “interlocutor” (a word he is very fond of using yet constantly grapples with when it comes to its pronunciation) and often acts as the middle man for his subjects whom, I'm sure on occasion, wish he wouldn’t. He’s more a muddling, meddlesome pseudo psychiatrist trying to resolve past issues but- strangely enough- he has a pretty decent success rate. I think what I like most about it is that the stories are so relatable; bullies, first loves, sibling rivalry, exclusion, stuff that we have all dealt with to varying degrees at one time or another. There is a great story about a suitcase of youthful love letters found on a Brooklyn sidewalk written over the course of five years, and Jonathan’s quest to track down the author and recipient. And then there’s Moby. A veeery interesting story about the “baldheaded, bespectacled, castle-dwelling, multimillion record selling, Moby”, titled Gregor.
The episodes are relatively short (range from about 25-45 minutes each) and the jumble of characters he interviews provide the listener with all the feels. I highly recommend it, and just like we have done with music entries in the past, I have listed below five ‘series’ style podcasts I’ve loved or am loving atm;
- Serial (series one)
- Alone: A Love Story
- Unravel (events still unfolding)
Doughnuts. Bloody doughnuts people!! I made doughnuts FROM SCRATCH yesterday and they were freakin awesome. Even the kids liked them. I made proper dough with yeast and butter beaten in cube by cube, and then I let it rise, shaped the doughnuts, let it rise again, and then fried those bad boys! I cannot believe they worked because usually when I get a sudden urge to bake, it’s never as good as it looks in the photo, or I am a bit let down by how long it actually takes. But this was a success. I was so happy with my spoils that I took them into the school and gave them to the staff and students. I think that’s what baking is all about, what’s so satisfying about it. It’s the sharing of the finished product that brings joy to more than just the cook. Now I know that doughnuts are full of fat and sugar but how lovely do they look, all glazed and sprinkly? I got the recipe from the latest issue of Lunch Lady magazine (total fave mag) and it was surprisingly simple, if only a bit time consuming. Next time I won’t make them so big but I have plans for fancy grown up ones with flowers and pistachios on them...
My fella is back to life on the road again and I'm back to life as a single mum during the week; it sucks but the upside to this arrangement is that I have complete control over the remotes from 8pm onwards and have managed to find something on Netflix to binge watch now that the first series of Wentworth has come to its bloody conclusion on the ABC (Yes, I know…it’s up to series 20-something and I am way behind the 8 ball but I'm not wealthy enough to have Foxtel, so this is how I do things.) My new indulgence is called GLOW (Glamour Ladies Of Wrestling) and it’s the perfect cure for those lonely nights and it pairs very nicely with a glass of cab sauv and some Doritos. In short: it’s a comedy about a down and out director trying to find fame with a group of (very) amateur lady wrestlers. Enter brilliant 80’s soundtrack, spandex outfits for days, gravity defying hairdos, glittery monobrows and the standard down-on-your-luck back story of each character and you have a hilariously scripted, clever and (fleetingly) touching series. Based very much on everything ‘B grade’ it is actually way ahead of the class. It explores the dichotomy between exploiting women and empowering them, female friendships and the ‘sisterhood’. To date they have only made one series however I'm fairly certain it has been picked up for a second season; at least I hope it has because I can’t wait to see these gutsy women rise and literally fall again.