Hello and welcome to the second Bunch of Fives. A huge thankyou to all those who enjoyed the first one. If you know anyone who might like whats here, please forward it on and tell them to subscribe (at the bottom of this page). Go on, you will be doing them a school holiday reading list favour
From My Bookshelf:
There’s an important saying in our house that my husband started fostering once he realised his girls were now old enough to understand reason and simple explanations about life and just ‘stuff’ in general, and that is “girls can do anything”. It has become a mantra for whenever our children feel overwhelmed by the trials of life. There is no underlying chauvinism to his wisdom; he is purely trying to encourage strength and resilience in his children and for them to know that they are capable little beings and that anything is possible in this world for them. And so it was that my heart swelled with joy one recent afternoon when he appeared with an armful of books he had bought especially for his little ones (can I just add my heart also died a little too, because books are one of my favourite things in life and not ONE was for me, but I digress…)
“Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo is filled with the achievements of (surprise surprise) 100 inspiring females who overcame many hurdles to leave their mark in history. Each night the hubs reads to his girls about these remarkable women be they artists, sportswomen, scientists or activists; he then sits and answers all of their questions with patience and enthusiasm - two virtues I am seriously lacking by this time of night. I am hopeful that our world is on a huge trajectory of change with regard to the treatment of women wherever they are, whatever they may be doing, and that my girls will know no boundaries when they establish their place in it. You’ll find this book in all good book stores, but if you live locally, go to The General Store in Young and get yourself a copy. If by chance they don’t have it in stock, Bridget or Ainslee will happily order it in for you.
Love Of A Laminex Table by Kate Shelton
My husband’s sister gave me this book a few years ago. While essentially a cookbook, Its full of gorgeous nostalgic stories of growing up in the bush on an isolated farm near Moree. Kate Shelton describes how her food journey began on their property in the early 1950’s, and goes on to write about the house and farm, the kitchen and the types of food they cooked in the old AGA stove. This was true self sufficiency. After attending boarding school in Sydney, then university and travelling the world, Kate returned to Australia to teach and ended up opening a cafe in Benedict House, an old convent in Queanbeyan in the ACT. Its a cookbook that weaves a story of a country girls life interspersed with delicious recipes fro Kates childhood. Theres even a section at the back that describes how to entertain at home from a recipe guide to the issue of time management. I love these sorts of cookbooks that tell a story, that are so much more than mere food writing. To top it all off, the photography is beautiful. Lots of close ups of old bread boards, door hinges, enamelware and vintage china. I believe Benedict House has since closed but if anyone has the inside scoop, let us know what the latest is with this historic building.
I often find myself sifting through this shed looking for things to put on walls or to fill the empty spaces in my home. I love how organised my father in law is with his stuff and how it’s all grouped together in neat little bundles. Everything has its place and I understand, completely, why he gets so frustrated when his sons don’t put things back where they live in his well-organised workshop. I live with one, so I feel his pain very deeply. I am fascinated by old technology and the way farmers used to go about their work. I have vivid memories of sitting in the dirt watching on as my father used one of those huge needles to sew up hessian grain bags, lugging them over his shoulder to the shed once he was done in the middle of a blazing summers day wearing his Stubbies shorts, hobnail boots and that Greg Chappell floppy hat that farmers all seemed to sport back in the day. They just don’t seem to make them like that anymore and I miss those days. Now it’s all air conditioning, automatic steering, mystifying science and fancy farm wear that supposedly signifies some kind of success in the field, if you’ll pardon the pun. It amuses my father to see old stencils, branding irons and sieves adorning the nooks and crannies in my house, I know exactly what he is thinking as he passes them by shaking his head and laughing to himself. Tis true what they say, one man’s trash is his sentimental daughters treasure.
My mum is an antiques and collectibles nut, especially for kitchenalia. She has a certain colour or theme in mind when she puts her collections together like old wooden rolling pins or linen tablecloths with a crocheted edge. Every now and again she finds something a bit different and might pass it on to me which is how I got this old apron. Its made of calico and has the funniest and most exquisitely detailed embroidery of Prince George and a scroll that reads “Souvenir, Prince George, Sydney, 1934”. I can imagine a very excited young monarchist sitting quietly with her needle and thread, picturing the handsome prince visiting Sydney, taking extreme care with every stitch on his little pink face. Unfortunately she must have jumped the gun because as I was googling old Prince George and his Sydney visit in 1934, I couldn’t find anything about it except for a Prince Henry the Duke of Gloucestor visiting Sydney in 1934. Turns out old George was a bit weary from his tour of South Africa so he sent his brother instead. He was a prince too but poor old Marg (or Barbara or Daisy or whoever made the apron) would have been pretty miffed that the embroidered name was wrong. Either way, it still amazes me that women spent so much time making these little keepsakes for such events. In this day and age, I can’t imagine a keen knitter making a Jenny Kee style jumper to commemorate Prince William and Princess Kates visit to Australia.
One of the things I really miss about city living, maybe THE only thing these days, is the ability to go out any time or day of the week and see live music. It doesn’t happen much anymore and if it does it is planned months in advance as opposed to the late night, last minute decisions I was able to make pre children. Enter Adrian and Gabrielle Capra of Art of Espresso fame. This couple are HUGE music lovers and responsible for hosting some of the most memorable (!?) nights I’ve ever experienced in our little town of Young. These guys have hosted some of Australia’s biggest rock icons in their café for what has affectionately become known as the ‘Espresso Sessions.’ Tim Rogers, Adalita, Henry Wagons, Dan Kelly, Kim Salmon, Bill Chambers and Abbey May (to name just a few) have performed for the districts music lovers with live and super intimate gigs over the past few years. Recently the duo were responsible for bringing The Waifs to town for a sell-out gig at the Town Hall just cause they can; and when they say they can, they do. The Capra’s are a formidable force and have brought so much happiness to my soul and countless others with their musical offerings. Plus (and it’s a BIG plus) they roast their direct trade coffee on site and believe in doing business ethically and sustainably, supporting farmers and their families that grow the coffee used in store. I also have it on good authority that it is some of THE best in town. Take a moment to read about their story, philosophy and wonderful initiative and if you're ever in Young, drop by and try one of their signature blends. Peace and much respect, guys, and ple-e-e-ase keep on doing what you are doing.
Yes, that's us just hanging with Tim Rogers and Davey Lane post gig at Art of Espresso. Ain't no thing.
My fella and I went to Sydney back in November to our first Opera House forecourt concert. Trev is not a huge fan of Sydney but I am and if I was going to get him there for a night it had to be for something special. And special it was. Paul Kelly has been part of the Australian landscape for such a long time that I remember him on the little battery operated radio we had playing at the Barmedman mineral pool during a small schools swimming carnival when I was a kid. I can still remember picturing that taxi driving though a sugar cane field with a scared looking bloke in the back seat, driving To Her Door. From then on, his familiar yet unique Aussie drawl would continue to pepper my youth with a soundtrack that I didnt really mean to connect with, its just that when I look back one of his songs always seemed to be playing somewhere. I really got into his music again about 10 years ago and became a firm fan of his incredible story telling. So we ended up at the Opera House on a wet Sydney night (have you ever seen Kings Cross, when the rain is falling soft) to experience the magic of Paul Kelly on stage. It was one of the most incredible performances, along with the Bull sisters who compliment him perfectly, and a great support act from the legend Steve Earle (the clincher of the deal to get my husband there). The rain cleared up as the show began, the ferries honked and the bats flew overhead silhoutted against the towering Sydney CBD skyline. And that Opera House...is there any building more beautiful? He played all the ones we wanted to her and a stack of new songs that sounded so like him you could be forgiven for thinking they were old ones. I found out on Facebook that all our friends saw us on the telly during the live broadcast. I remember waving like mad at the camera as it panned past us with a huge grin on my face. I am determined to keep that feeling alive by getting out and seeing live music as much as possible because there is nothing like it. We are super fortunate to have so many other live music fans in our community....(see Ambers post re Art of Espresso) so we get plenty of opportunities to do so. Make the effort to get out and see people perform live whether it’s at the Opera House or the local pub. It supports our artists and it creates memories for a lifetime.
My birthday falls on New Year’s Eve which was a great thing when I came of drinking age cause there was always something to do, and I could charm- or con- just about everyone in the pub into singing ‘happy birthday’ in my honour cause the night was all about me, thanks very much. That all changed in my twenties when NYE became something that was planned the night of the NYE you were actually celebrating (a full year in advance! WTH!?) when everyone was on a high, and full of love and great expectations for the coming year. The raucous pub singing has now been replaced with an awkward break in play; where half of the party is completely into singing the birthday song to you and the other half are clearly and unapologetically out, mumbling through the words in obvious annoyance that their festivities have been interrupted just for you and your forty-something self. Yes, it’s sung out of pity now (if at all) cause it’s New Year’s Eve, baby! Hell, I hardly care anymore.
These days I am happy hanging with good friends and listening to good music in a pub-less environment on the eve of a brand spanking new year, however, I have found on occasion the music situation can get a bit heated between friends after a few bevvies. Enter Clare Bowditch plugging the ultimate NYE playlist a few weeks back, taking your party’s potential aggro showdown between the two (usually) guys that fancy themselves as Molly Meldrum and Glenn A. Baker. I follow this gorgeous creature on Instagram; her lust for life, that huge personality and that silky voice of hers are so intoxicating. Yep, MAJOR girl crush. She has put up a link in her bio for a playlist that has something for everyone. OK, so there may be some questionable choices in there but I guarantee you will somehow find yourself knowing most of the words anyway and doing a bit of fist pumping and squealing, “OH! MY! GOD! I LOVE THIS SONG!” when OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya’ or Starship’s ‘We Built This City’ hit your earholes. For her insta account @clarebowditch and click on the following for the NYE Playlist because, can you believe it, another one is coming already!?
The Caithness Bunch
Heres an instagram account that all you flower lovers and gardeners need to follow. @thecaithnessbunch is the account of Edwina Sinclair from Temora. She takes beautiful photos of her bunches of flowers that are all grown on her farm. Every single one! I am amazed at every bunch she makes, picking out the beautiful roses and ornamentals through to the less obvious ‘weeds’ or grasses. Edwina supplies flowers for all occasions including weddings, birthdays and corporate events. She has a true artists eye for putting together colour combinations and keeping an element of interest in each bunch either through contrast or structure. Whenever I put a bunch of flowers together I am lucky to find a small sprig of jasmine and maybe a handful of gum leaves to stick in a jar so when I see clever people with a knack for floristry like Edwina does, my hat is off to them. Go and look her up, and support a local creative small business. You will get a happy dose of colour in your instagram feed too!
The silly season is here in full force around my house and this year I am feeling it with an ‘energy’ I haven’t felt for quite some time. There is a LOT going on about here at the moment and I kinda suspect that I was in a bit of a boozy fug 12 months ago when I excitedly put my hand up and declared that I would host Christmas AND Boxing day at ‘Clearview.’ I am sharing the edited version of my Instagram post from a couple of days ago in the hope of providing a snapshot as to how that wonderful idea is actually panning out in reality:
@rolesamber I've been trying to breathe deeply today and relax into the Christmas spirit instead of being tightly coiled and ready to explode at the slightest bauble that's out of place. However... I also decided that today might be a great day to try and string 30 mts of fairy lights and I LOST MY *FREAKING MIND. I lasted half an hour -which is pretty good for my very short fuse -but when I found myself half way across the garden wondering what the hell I was going to do once I finally got it all untangled anyway, I screamed at the proverbial mo fo, threw the rest of the jumbled mass of plastic on the ground then went in search of alcohol. 11am wasn't too early was it? Well, yes, it kinda was. So I had to make do with a zooper dooper and some soothing words from my 4 year old. Better than any wisdom found at the bottom of any empty bottle, any day. #perkoswentberserkos #ediebopschilledherout
I wish you all a wonderful, stress free, tangle free Christmas. Find joy in the small things and take a minute, even a second, to be thankful for everything that surrounds you. Just breathe and step away from the fairy lights and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT even think about going to IKEA between now and the big day. I did, and it was a very special kind of hell, first day of the school holidays on a Saturday morning and all….but that is a story for another day. But if you are interested in hearing all about it and other stories of my life in all its glorious ordinariness (really selling it, aren’t I!) you can follow me on Instagram @rolesamber
Santa Claus. St. Nick. The man in red (I think I made that one up). Whatever you like to call him, he is kind of a big deal around this time of the year. I get into it because my kids are of that age where I see them marvel at how Santa got that trampoline into his sleigh and all the way to Quandialla. And how they pull their behaviour into line when I say ‘Santas watching...’ (mostly). They also write their cute little letters to Santa asking for whatever it is they are into this year, and ask questions about how Santa does what he does (he’s magic, you know). Except this year, one of my kids has learned the truth about Santa. My eldest started asking questions about an article he saw on the internet that was titled “How to break it to your kids that Santa isnt real”. Come on people! Kids read stuff on the internet too you know!! I pulled him aside and asked if he thought Santa was real. He said “I think so. Maybe...” I didnt know what to say...I didnt want him dropping another clanger in the car in front of his little siblings ears again, but I didnt want to ruin the magic either. So I told him. And he CRIED. Well, not cried but tears welled up and thats even worse because you can tell they are trying not to! So I tried to back pedal with “well, Im not sure, I think Santa maybe leaves some presents and Dad and I leave others that say they’re from Santa...bla bla...(digging a deeper hole).” And I said we would discuss it with Dad later and see what he thought (HELP ME TREVOR!) Anyway, my little man woke up early this morning while I was doing my emails and told me he didnt really care that much now that he knew Santa wasnt real. I told him that I found out at his age too, when my mum thought I was asleep and proceeded to list out loud the presents I was getting. And then on Christmas morning they were all there from Santa. It was one of those moments where your kids take another little step to towards growing up. But I felt a little closer to him as we now had a secret to share that his siblings weren’t in on. And that was special too. Now to prepare myself for the Easter Bunny talk...