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My Pear Tree House

Musings on design and craft inspirations, fabulous food, books, art and life in beautiful Melbourne

Last Build Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2018 05:04:22 +0000


12 things to do for a cancer patient

Thu, 03 Mar 2016 06:16:00 +0000

I thought it might be useful to set out my (very personal) thoughts about what one can do to help a person with an illness like cancer.   So much is written about what you can't and shouldn't do (including by me) that it is necessary just occasionally to focus on the positive (and easy) steps one can take.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, my life, which had previously been busy and outwardly focussed, was transformed overnight to a tiny dark world.  My new life could be depicted like a stripped down pictogram,  with coloured lines for the car trips connecting the key focus points - hospital rooms, the chemo ward, appointments with various medical professionals and my bedroom.  My family and friends, pale and stunned, all had different ways of responding to my diagnosis.  They all knew that like any traumatic event, cancer is an intensely isolating and lonely experience.   This list is intended to help bridge the isolation gap and provide some positive ideas about what to say or do when you have a friend, co-worker or family member facing a cancer diagnosis. 1                       Offer specific stuff. Or even better, don't offer, just do. We all say at times of distress 'please just let me know if there is anything I can do'.    I found it difficult to respond honestly to this question.   My usual surface answer was 'Yes of course I will, but there is nothing which needs doing at the moment, it's all under control.'  The honest answer would have sounded more like 'You know what I would really love is for someone to give the garden a good weed.   Or clean the toilets properly.  And my oven - it really is filthy.  Do you think you could fix that for me?'   Because strangely, the little things which one should just let go when being treated for cancer were, to me at least, even more annoying than they otherwise would be.   I spent so much time at home during treatment that the state of the house became a real (but I acknowledge, out of proportion) concern to me.  So, if you want to provide practical much appreciated help, book a cleaning service for a few hours and let me know when the cleaners will be arriving.   Or send around some home cooked lasagne for me to feed the children.    Much as my children loved the million serves of 2 Minute Noodles I dished up during chemo, I think even they would have appreciated something a bit more nutritious from time to time. 2                           Keep it simple. If you speak from the heart and keep it simple it is difficult to go wrong.   Don't overcomplicate things for fear of saying the 'wrong thing'.  Cancer is complicated enough.   It was often the unembroidered statements which helped me the most:    I am sorry.   This is just awful.  I am here for you. I am sorry you are going through this.  I love you.  For me, the mere knowledge of your friendship and love was enough.  It is not your words which heal me, but your articulation of a basic human response:  I am sad about this horrible thing which is happening to you.  In a similar vein, if you don't know what to say, say so. Even a motor mouth like me is occasionally lost for words. In fact, I was in shock for weeks after the diagnosis.     There is no real need to fill up that space with platitudes or clichés.   When you said to me: I am in shock and I don't know what to say, I felt less alone. Because after all, I am really no different to you: I am just a human being who doesn't want to die.         3              &[...]

I am back, briefly

Thu, 04 Feb 2016 06:26:00 +0000

I am back, brieflyHello, dear readers.It has taken me about 45 minutes to log back into blogger.  After such a long hiatus Google freaked out and sent me all these emails warning me I was being hacked.  Who would have thought Google would decide to annoyingly consolidate everything into one big non user friendly account with a 1990s style interface.It has been so long I almost forgot both my user name and password, which is not helped by the fact I have 5 separate email accounts not including the home one. And I found more than 400 emails in my inbox, admittedly a rather large number of spam (not I don't want to 'collaborate' with you on my blog, sorry), but others, I am embarrassed to say, from dear internet friends emailing to check up on me and share their stories. To those who wrote and to whom I haven't got back to yet, I am dreadfully sorry.   I pride myself on being responsive and organised, and indeed, I get at least a 100 emails most days at work, and end the day with only a couple in my in box (not perfect of course, just slightly OC). As luck would have it, I am having a non superstitious month, and I have a few little thoughts and writings I have put together about cancer, post cancer and all of that stuff.  I have put this off because I was pretty certain that continuing to write about cancer would curse me with a recurrence.   I am now slightly more philosophical about these thingsNone of my writing tends to feature any of the following words:journey or cancer journey remissioncourageouspink.I will explain why in due course.In the meantime, it has been 3 years since I posted. My how the world of blogging has changed. No more blog rolls.  Hardly anyone comments any more.   It seems like a less generous, inclusive space, but I am sure that that is just the natural progression of life.  People are busy, and they find new and different ways to distract and entertain themselves. Most bloggers have moved to instagram, in my case, exclusively.  And so, what that means is that I feel more like I am writing for no-one and no body, and that is a good thing.  So really  it has come full circle.  The other anniversary which has passed by is my 5 year anniversary post my diagnosis.   And yes, I seem to be still here. I spent that day, a day I had been dreading, and anticipating, in equal quantities, in central England in a tiny honey coloured stone village called Easton on the Hill,  and here is what I posted to IG. Today marks 5 years since I was diagnosed with a breast cancer I was told was very aggressive. My children were 3 and 8. I was given a special pamphlet to help me explain 'cancer' to a boy who had just started kindergarten. I spent the next four weeks in total shock and denial. I had two major operations and then started two years of various treatments including chemo and Herceptin. And I don't even have room to list all the temporary and permanent side effects and issues arising from that treatment. I didn't really expect to be here to be honest. Being a patient in some ways is easy - you just let the system take over and you always feel supported (even though in some ways it is like attending your own funeral - so many flowers!). Being the family member or friend is much harder - so I would like to thank all those who brought food and champagne, wrote me notes, told me my newsreader style wig looked great, gave me the names of a great Chinese doctor and naturopath, sent me poems and DVDs and magazines and books, pushed me to keep exercising and just generally stood by me. Not just at diagnosis but six months and two years later. There were some friends and indeed family members who vanished never to be heard of again. But I guess that is more about them than me and other friends with cancer tell me this is quite common. I was lucky to get world class health care and to have an oncologist with both a sense of humor and great percept[...]

Myths and Mistakes

Wed, 23 Jan 2013 00:15:00 +0000

It has been so long since I posted I have had to seriously consider whether I should in fact close this blog down.  What happens when you delete a blog?  Can it be found floating around the ether?  It seems a shame to remove it completely.    8 pm Fairhaven beach.  A rare still day. It has also been so long since I posted that I am starting to get vast amounts of spam comments to delete. (Why do the autobots target inactive blogs?  Seems counter intuitive to me.)  The other mystery of course is why do I lose followers when I don't blog?   Come on guys.  Hang in there. Surely infrequent posts are better than clogging up your reader with crap?  I usually ask for no Xmas presents, but my husband ignored me and this is what he gave me. A giant herb pot.  And still alive, last I looked.  So, I thought I would pop in to say, I am still here, alive and well (touches large piece of wood). I have just had the most wonderful holiday down at the beach. We had a full four weeks away, which is the longest period of time I have had away from Melbourne since 1998.   So long that we returned to a completely dead garden.  Well the trees are fine, but the lawn, lavender, grass trees, jasmine and bay tree are dead or on the edge of death. So sad.  Perhaps we should have planned better.  But I didn't think Melbourne would have four weeks of no rain.  So long that when I returned I really noticed all the cars and buildings were really close together, and felt cramped and busy all of a sudden.  Amazing what a change a few weeks in a different environment can make. We spent our holiday swimming in the scary surf, doing Nippers with the children, cooking, roasting marshmallows, watching the tennis and cricket and old James Bond films, eating and drinking and sleeping.  Oh and reading. Roasted eggplant, mint and pomegranate seed salad.   I read a book every couple of days ranging from slightly trashy to sci fit to classic.   It was completely perfect.  Wine, driftwood and trashy paperback ('Sister' - I wouldn't bother with it) I should say that I am not a particularly beachy person. I burn really easily, and I just had to stand on the beach, wearing hat and SPF30 mind you, for a few Nipper sessions for all my freckles to pop back up again.   And my hair.  Oh dear.   I just had to give up on getting it straight and shiny, and popped it back most days.  At least I have hair to complain about.  I can now finally say, 18 months after it started growing back, that is is almost where it was pre-cancer.  It takes such a long time to get back, much much longer than I had expected.  540 Nippers posing for the news helicopter to protest lack of government funding for the surf club  And I also indulged my new addiction to Kundalini yoga, thanks to my Atlantan friend Jenny for the tip. I love Maya Fiennes so much I feel calm just looking at her face: This book is brilliant by the way.  Easily available on line.  I cannot emphasise enough how much yoga has helped me over the last few months. I really struggle with meditation - my mind races (yes I know the point of meditation is to control this) and it is very hard to get complete uninterrupted quiet in the house.  Yoga does require quiet but it is so much more doable with loud children around, and I still manage to get into quite a meditative state.   I highly highly recommend it.   And of course, you can do the Maya Kundalini yoga at home.   I prefer this to finding a yoga class which suits me (why are they always on Tuesday mornings or Saturday afternoons?) I wrote a little article last year for the sometimes maligned Mamamia site.  It is about the myths which float around about cancer patients.  Mamamia annoyingly changed the title to 'Mistakes' which people make[...]


Wed, 03 Oct 2012 05:18:00 +0000

As a lawyer I get really annoyed about inaccuracies, misrepresentations and wrong information being given to me. There is a lot of it out there when it comes to cancer. But I can only post so many post anonymous comments on the Daily Mail in response to people who comment that anyone who has surgery and chemo for cancer is a fool or a 'Sheeple'.   I would like to help people sift through all that stuff.   I don't want people to feel bad about their treatment, or guilty, or God forbid, as if they have not been positive enough.   Cape Otway by me  So I would like to mention my little Cancer FAQs at the side. I have just updated it, after leaving it un-updated since last November, which is way too long when you have a potentially life shortening disease.   The reason for the delay is this. The longer I left it, the more superstitious I became that the very instance I updated it to say all is well I would have some catastrophic relapse into Cancer World. The same strange conviction has meant that I have not had my oven cleaned since December 2010, because the day I was diagnosed with cancer was the very day the Man Came To Clean the Oven. He did a great job by the way. But I feel that if I get him back, I will get cancer again.  (In case you are wondering, yes I have cleaned my oven in the last 19 months.  But myself, and not very well.)From Anna Spiro's Instagram feed.I know this is regressive, just like being a 16 year old and having some strange lovestruck repetivite thoughts like 'If this tram comes and if the boy is on it and sitting down the end then that means he likes me'. But I can't help it. I have so little control over my life in some ways that if one way of getting that back is to have some little superstitions and phobias, then so be it. At least I don't have PTSD, which, truly, some people do get following cancer treatment.Anyway, there it is.  Have a read and you can see where I am.From Facehunter's Instagram feedI am also in another place at the moment, the world of Instagram. I must confess, I am finding Instagram a great place to instantly connect with people, in a way which is really simple, and uncomplicated.   You can locate me on Instagram here .  I have included in this post some favourite images from the last little while.   Fear not, you do not have to be inundated with images of 16 year old girls doing their nails. There are some wonderful images.    From NatGeo's feed To be honest, Instagram reminds me of blogging when I first started.  Before it got a bit cliquey, and a bit complicated, and a bit too much about branding, and advertising and making money from your blog, and counting stats, and linking, and etc etc.  Is that negative? I don't mean to be.  I am just finding that I seem to have the time to post images to Instagram and I don't seem to have the time to blog. Feel free to follow me, but even better, go to Followgram and or sign up for Instagram if you have a smart phone and check out all the other amazing images, like Greenbeen below, who posts her fantastic breakfasts every day. And if you have a feed I am not following, please let me know.  I still find the Instagram search function hilariously beta.   What I have found is a whole collection of Japanese people who post pictures of their very elegant, very charming cats.   I cannot resist.via Ryukutora's Instragram feedStay happy, dear readers.xo[...]

Blue and White Scarves

Fri, 24 Aug 2012 04:35:00 +0000

Still looking around, in a general, aimless way, for some more things for the beach house.   No, I do not move fast.  I want to frame a scarf, which is of course a not very original design world idea.  Just check out Pinterest for all the gazillion examples of this look. Specifically however I would like blue and white and ideally a map.I love this the most, from Table Tonic (only available in store) which Louise posted on Instagram yesterday:I actually have a couple of Hermes scarves, as I mentioned in this post, which I contemplated wearing when I had no hair.  You know in the end I never wore a scarf when I was bald.  I just did not like the people staring which went with it.  The expression of someone who looks sad and shocked and sympathetic and pitying all at one time and then quickly tries to disguise it because they feel bad is something you only want to see a few times. The sadness for me is that the colours of my scarves, given to me by my mother, really don't suit me. In fact when you browse Hermes designs, some of them are just not that easy to wear.  Maybe that is why people have started framing them.Here is another with a map in it (actually looks like the same designer as the one above):(via Absolutely Beautiful Things)The ones I like tend to be older.   Like this:This is from 1969, design by Francoise de la Perriere.Or this one, from One Kings Lane, which is a 2000 design.And this amazing collage (sorry lost source), has some beautiful little blue and white in it. I can see this is going to be a long term project.Weekend in Melbourne this weekend.  Lots to do including:take children to see Bravefish curry for dinner tonight. buy bedside table for son's under bed storage for son's room.clean out dining university reunion dinner tomorrow night. take bags of clothes to the Salvos.get some sleep. do a bit of work. Have a lovely weekend.   If you want to see what I cook I will try to remember to post it on Instagram. [...]


Thu, 09 Aug 2012 07:03:00 +0000

(at bedtime)P (five year old): can I stay in this house forever?Me:  Of course, how long did you have in mind?P:    Until I am all grown up and me and Immy (big sister) have fallen in love with different people and we all live here together.  Me, Immy, the person I love and the person she loves.Me:  What about mummy and daddy?P:     You'll be dead won't you?Me:   I bloody hope not.  (Note: bloody is not a swear word in our house as it is authentic Australian slang).P:     (looks puzzled)Me:   For example - look at Heddy, your grandmother. She is my mummy and she is still alive and I am grown up aren't I?P:     Yes.Me:   So there you go, when you are grown up, I should be alive too.P:     Why do people die? Me:  All living creatures have to die sometime. Sometimes they get sick, sometimes they just get old. The trick is to make sure you fit lots of life into the space between being born and dying. P:    When will the Queen die?Me:  I don't know for sure.  She is pretty old though. Over 80.P:     Why isn't the Queen in the Lympics?  It's in her country.Me:  I think she might be a bit old for running and swimming.P:     It will be good when she dies.  There will be no one to boss us around anymore.Me:   Not sure about that.  Prince Charles will become King Charles and unless we become a republic he will be our head of state.  Last time I looked he was pretty bossy.  About organic things. And architecture.  And the youth of today. P:   What's a head of state?Me: Never mind. (Note to self: need to better explain way constitutional monarchy works to children). P:    I don't want you to die.  Or go to work tomorrow. Or leave me.  Ever.Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer, something has been worrying P.   I know that this is an obvious thing to say, but I am constantly looking for signs that the fear he must have had to begin with is going away, at least a little.  After all, it has been almost two years now. In my lawyerly way I tried to pin his worry down to something specific, which I would then try to minimise or alleviate.  Was it losing my hair, vanishing to hospital for days on end, talking about my sore shoulder, being tired, being a bit sick or being unable to lift him properly anymore?   I have never lied to him about my diagnosis, and used my best efforts to explain bad cells and good cells and chemo to him.  I was always pretty vague about the surgery I had, simply because it was such an assault to my body that I really don't think he should be exposed to that at such a young age. Of course that was just way too complicated an approach.  He is five.  He doesn't care about any of that stuff.  He couldn't care less about my hair or my surgery or my blood counts or my bone scans or my fear of recurrence. He just wants me to be alive.   Sometimes the simple obvious answer is in fact the correct answer.  I understand clearly now that he is in contact with a visceral fear of abandonment or loss in a way that I certainly was not at his age.  I don't think I even thought about death once until I was a moody 12 year old listening to A Forest by the Cure (thank you Robert Smith for giving me some great black clothes wearing/goth/moping around teenage years. You were just the backdrop I needed).  Here's another one to mope to: allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />On a lighter note, we have been building up quite a collection of ecologically sound bedtime reading, ranging from this classic:I love the Lorax still, complete with the Truffala trees and Thneeds. &[...]

Where I Work

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 09:01:00 +0000

(no, not here, this is an undemolished house around the corner from home) If had been sitting in my current office working away as a solicitor in 1935 (most unlikely given my gender) this is what my building would have looked like:The National Trust has just released an app which tracks demolished buildings of Melbourne.  Like every city, there are many, although we demolished maybe more enthusiastically than others.  Save for the English of course.  Bill Bryson points out in his book At Home that literally thousands of magical country homes were demolished in the middle of the last century, a sad fact now the subject of a site which Lisa pointed me to in a recent post. The building above was used by the US General Macarthur as his residence during WW2, and also played host to Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell.It was demolished and replaced with the current high rise. Almost too sad to think about, that such a building has gone for good.There are plenty more where that came from.  Remember the 1950's? I don't but apparently old things were considered ugly and out of fashion, and people wanted new clean lines.   There were very limited heritage controls and so people could buy large blocks of land, demolish the inconvenient Italianate mansion located on it, and build a lovely orange brick block of flats.Here are some no longer with us, just in my area:(Alta Vista, South Yarra, 1859)(Corrabert, Toorak) (Leura mid 1800s, Toorak)(Norla, Irving Road Toorak)So many memories and people laughing, all gone.But fear not, there are many buildings which have survived.(Ripponlea in the suburb of the same name)and many more still in private hands:(Coonac in Clendon Road Toorak)(Miegunyah, Orrong Road Toorak) (Images via the Age, National Trust (thanks!)I have a very personal reason for feeling sad about demolished houses.I grew up in a pale pink 1920s house, which we sold when my parents divorced.  To me that house was happiness incarnate.  I still dream of it.Eventually, it sold and then sold again.  A few years ago I happened to drive past, and the wreckers were there, busily pulling it down.   I pulled over, a stared in unbelieving horror.  The gingko tree we climbed on, the ancient pear trees, the morton bay fig, the terracotta roof, the slate verandah, all gone.   A little bit of me died that day, I tell you. And what is there now?  A large block of neo Georgian neo Tuscan neo Palladian apartments.     What can you say?Happy post next time, I promise. [...]

Emergency Winter Food for Children

Sun, 22 Jul 2012 21:47:00 +0000

After last year, where I took 45 (officially noted) days of sick leave (which felt like double or triple that amount), it has been very busy at work. I have child care constraints at the moment (is everyone in Europe or is it just my imagination?) so I have had to be creative with the last minute pick up from after school care.  With complaining \ hungry \ tired children, getting them fed \ bathed all in time to go to bed at 7 pm is a bit of a challenge.(How amazing is the colour of this camellia? Instagram and its Bad Photography Concealing Filters love my camellias!)Fast food is a must.   I am a night before person, which means that I try to  have dinner ready to go in the fridge the day before if I am not going to be there to cook it slowly.  So so much easier that way.   But last week disaster struck - my daughter had a friend coming for a sleepover and the food had been prescribed in advance (spaghetti bolognese, white bread only, Tic Tacs and icy poles because she doesn't like ice-cream) and at the last minute I had neglected to defrost the pasta sauce. So I turned to my emergency bolognese sauce. Emergency Bol Sauce for Screaming ChildrenIngredients2 - 4 high quality pork sausages or chipolatas (not with fennel or chilli)some butterSplash of milkA cup of tomato passata3/4 cup of stockMethodSqueeze the porky meat out of the sausage casings.   Gently melt the butter in a fry pan, add a splash of olive oil and some crushed garlic if you want.   Fry the sausage meat, breaking it up with a fork.   When the sausage meat is lightly browned and broken into even tiny bits, put in a splash of milk (sounds gross but Italians do it and it keeps the meat moist).  When the milk has bubbled down, add the passata and chicken stock. At first it will be runny, that is fine.  Cook it down until the sauce has the consistency you want. I like my bol sauce a bit runny and not dried out.Serve proudly with spaghetti and Parmesan. When I first went to Paris in 1992, my lovely friend Penny took me for hot chocolate at Angelina's Tearooms in the Rivoli.  The hot chocolate blew my mind, so much better than the watery cocoa I had previously had.   There are a number of different ways to recreate proper hot chocolate, but I like this the most.  It is quick and not messy.   I have forgotten where I got this from, possibly Orangette.   Only proviso is that you really do need a stick blender to get it smooth and frothy. Semi Authentic Super Quick Hot ChocolateIngredients (this serves two, can easily be doubled)2 cups of milk2 tablespoons of water1 1/2 tablespoons of caster sugara handful of chocolate chips which is about 1/4 cup.  Or more to taste but these won't melt as well. MethodPut the milk, water and sugar in a saucepan.  Heat gently.   Watch it, when milk boils over it is horrible and messy.  When it is just about to boil there will be little bubbles around the edge.   Take it off the heat and put in the chocolate chips.   Assuming your pot has high sides you can do the next step in the pot.  Get your stick blender and whizz away.  The movement and heat will melt the chocolate, and the mixture will become frothy and smooth and thick.Drink and enjoy.  [...]

Cleaning Up

Fri, 29 Jun 2012 02:09:00 +0000

I have mentioned before that due to distractions like chemo I did nothing at all to the house last year.  So this year I have been on a cleaning and sorting frenzy.Last weekend it was my daughter's bedroom's turn.I am not exaggerating when I say I have found it hard to even go into this room this year before the cleanout.  My daughter is a magpie who collects everything and piles it up into further piles in her room. I am concerned she might end up on an episode of Hoarders.    There were dozens of certificates, photos of lost cats and Johnny Depp and netball posters tacked onto the wall. I had to resort to the old fashioned way to let her permit me to clean out the room: bribery. Off we went to the vintage poster shops in High Street Armadale, and returned with this:My daughter is in love with all things Tintin (better than Twilight I figure) so this seemed perfect.   Of course there are some remaining pockets of hoarding in the room, but it would be wrong to get rid of all of it.  Hence these little cuckoo nests of bits and pieces:Time for some more camellia boasting. So many different kinds.  I am loving our winter garden.   If you have a boy you will relate to this:Yes, Lego minifigures.  We are obssessed. We buy them on Ebay and in little packages from the toyshop.This is an extremely small sample.  If you look closely you will see that the Joker is missing a hand.  My son has started removing the hands from the bad guys.  Do you think that is a bad sign?I love Lego. I could happily do it all day.  Here is some grown up Lego I bought just for myself. And here is the real Farnsworth house.This post is for my dear friend Aussie New Yorker, who said I never post any more.  It's true, I have been inattentive to my blog.  But life gets in the way. ...xo[...]

Good Things Autumn 2012

Tue, 15 May 2012 03:53:00 +0000

Our garden is mostly a winter garden, due to all the camellia trees, and they are just coming into flower now:It is only when I attempted to paint a camellia that I realised a flower like this was not just pink, but also purple and grey and white and blue and even orange.  If you like camellias I have a board devoted to them on Pinterest. I have been on a cleaning and sorting frenzy recently, mostly because nothing has been done in that department for at least a year.  I have now done the linen press, the wine \ storage room, the Cupboard of Doom, the hallway bureau.  Plenty still more to do like garden shed, garage roof storage, chests, etc.   Anyway, I came across some old children's jumpers.  All coincidentally in pink and green, my favourite combination.   Like so:(via Style Files)(via Decorpad)I can't bring myself to sell second hand clothes.  I either keep them because they are tiny or sentimental, re-use them for something, or give to the Salvos. I think I will make another patchwork blanket from them, like this one I did for my son:It is a bit worse for the wear but he does love it.   These blankets take a long time to put together, I think it  is something to do with the stretchiness of the knits.  Maybe I need an overlocker?  Anyway, I expect it will be draping our dining room table for the next 6 months.Autumn has been very late this year, too much chlorophyll in the leaves or something but finally the maples are beginning to turn orange.I have been also doing a huge amount of new cooking.  With ingredients I have not used much before, like farro, and freekah, and lentils, and millet flour, and red and black rice, and steel cut oats, and amaranth flour, and coconut oil and cacao nibs and spirulina and activated nuts and bee pollen and more - the list is endless.   I have been completely inspired by these cookbooks:Brilliant tip - you mix the kale and coconut and roast it for a bit and then add to your carbohydratey item like rice or couscous or farro.   Divine. MaAny of you will know that Supernatural is by Heidi Swanson, she of 101 Cookbooks blog, and the one above left by Beatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande (see my side bar).   I have a bit of a prejudice against cookbooks by bloggers don't ask me why I know it is irrational, but anyway these are both brilliant and highly recommended.   It all started for me when I stopped eating sugar, which is about 12 months ago.  Because when you stop eating something you have to fill the gap with other food products, like eggs and bacon and also some healthy things.  I think I will do a little post on this at some point.  I sound terribly pious and boring not eating sugar, but really truly, it has been No Problem At All.  And has sorted out some real health issues for me.  And given me very clear skin.  There was an article in the Age late last week about a deal a fashion distributor has done with some denim designers including Paige and AG Adriano Goldshmied.  From now on, sites like Revolve will not be able to ship these jeans to Australia and we will have to pay double or triple the price from shops here.  These are my two favourite jeans makers.  This story got more than 900 comments, and I can assure you they were not in support of this move.  I don't mind paying a bit more to buy in a shop around the corner, but double? Triple?Just as well I bought these jeans a few months ago. They are a dark teal colour and I love them, Very comfortable and soft and strangely flattering, which is not something one can often say about 'cigarette' jeans.  These are by Adriano Goldshmied.I can't do bright pink jeans though.  I just can't.   I remember [...]

Three Ways with Plums

Thu, 19 Apr 2012 23:44:00 +0000

I was at a meeting this week and someone made a (reasonably tasteless) joke about getting cancer from a power line.  People laughed awkwardly.  So did I.  I looked around at the meeting attendees and it struck me.  No one here knows I have had cancer.  And they can't tell by looking at me (although why they think I would choose to have hair this short I don't know but there are lots of women around with Voluntary Short Hair and they look great).  If there is one thing I have loathed over the last 16 months it is the occasional look of pity or shock or embarrassment I have received when people realise I am being treated for cancer (the wig was a giveaway).   This is a good place to be in, I can tell you. Something I have done in the last five years which has improved my life by an amount I can even measure in percentage terms (I would say 5%), it would be using one of the duopoly supermarket people to home deliver all my heavy horrible groceries like milk, mineral water and nappies. In an attempt to further limit pointless driving around I have just started using these people to deliver organic fruit and vegetables to me. The delivery includes a mystery box of what is in season (and presumably cheap). I think this is something people do perhaps more in the US than here, but I am loving the surprise of it. So what to do with two huge eggplants? Or other vegetables I don't otherwise usually buy like mushrooms. Last time round I got a big batch of plums. Plums remind me of my childhood, I think the plums we had then we a bit different - purple inside rather than orange, but nevertheless, I love their juicy sweetness. (chopped plums, mint, chilli and spring onions)The first thing I made was plum tabbouleh, with burghul (ie the traditional way).  The plums contrast very well with the grain.  Lots and lots of olive oil and lemon juice and salt and you can eat a whole large bowl No Problem At All. This idea came from Nigel Slater' Tender Volume II, which is a cook's guide to fruit.  I have written before about Nigel, and his brilliant cookbooks.  (Nigel is on my dream dinner party list. He would be joined by Anthony Bourdain, Ian McEwan, Malcolm Turnbull, Henri Bernard Levy ands the lead singer of Muse (yes, all men. Why not, it's my dream.)).Then I made a pudding-ey cakey plum cake with cinnamon and honey.  This was okay but not amazing but I think I may have overcooked it.  A variant on his recipe is here.  Finally, plum chutney.  Very easy - chopped up plums, onion, cover with splash of water, some malt and apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds and cinnamon.  Cook slowly for an hour. You may need to add more water and check at the end to make sure it is sufficiently sweet \ sour. Brilliant with pork. Happy chutney eating to you all.  [...]

Down the Path

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:24:00 +0000

Down the (newly granulated) windy path, and past the forest of iron bark gums*:Up through the bend, under the shade of wattle trees: Across the railway sleepers and down the little steps:Lies a green circle of grass, for playing soccer, running under the sprinkler and lying in the sun.(tanbark will soon be overrun with lots of Australian native grasses)And on the other side, a dark little shed, just ripe for conversion into a little study.  Or studio.A place to work, if we have to.  Or write, if I want to.George Bernard Shaw's writing room. This is where GBS wrote many works including Pygmalion. So many writers need solitude and separation from the real world.  This writing hut is so clever, because it pivots on a kind of Lazy Susan to make the most of the sunshine and also to change his aspect.  It has a little sloping roof to deal with snow.   He called it 'London' so his staff would be telling the truth to visitors when they were told 'He has gone to London'. Virginia Woolf's writing shed (converted from a toolshed) at Monk's House in East SussexEnglish firm Scott's of Threapston makes a writing shed based on both Virginia Woolf's and Shaw's.  This is the interior of the Woolf style (from Remodelista).  I love the forest green austerity. Something more dramatic (and unrealistic) via RemodelistaThis is actually a little home.  via Busyboo.comOf course I would have to shingle the roof.  Or would I? (via a million boards on Pinterest)This was made using recycled wood and cost $35.  Via Canadian House and HomeWhat do you think?  I am guessing the shed needs to be lined, and floored, and electrified (you can tell I am no carpenter).  Has anyone ever done this?   Any tips? * We have just had the garden redone at the beach.  It was not a dramatic change, we kept all the trees but did some little paths and a fire pit sitting area, and the grassy bit.   But it makes such a difference. [...]

Turquoise Eggs

Fri, 06 Apr 2012 22:39:00 +0000

Amazing as it may seem I have managed to reach the ripe old age of Over 40 without ever making any colored Easter eggs. That deficiency has now been rectified. I made these yesterday.I used gel food colouring which is more expensive that the liquid but I am told it lasts a long time - I bought a set of 8 colours for the rainbow layer cake I made last weekend for my son's birthday. I managed to take no photos of its multi coloured amazingness but the colour was certainly intense I can assure you.For these eggs I used the teal colour and also violet.  I soaked the gently hard boiled eggs for at least an hour, in water with a bit of vinegar.  (I have learned through experimentation that the way to hard boil eggs is to cover with cold water, bring to a boil then turn heat off and leave for 14 or so minutes -this seems to stop the shells cracking).As is sometimes the way with these kinds of exercises I appreciated the result more than my family who said variously:'Isn't that a waste of eggs?' (husband)'I don't eat hard boiled eggs.' (daughter)'Yum when can I eat them are they chocolate?' (son)But I still love them.We are down at the beach for Easter. Yesterday was boiling hot and we swam in the surf. Then there were windy storms, and today it is cold.  We will have the fire lit before Easter is over.Happy Easter.  xo[...]


Mon, 02 Apr 2012 22:48:00 +0000

One of the many books I read during my chemo purgatory was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  A great book for sleepless nights wondering about the random nature of life. (designer Lyn Morgan's Greek Revival House in Savannah) (living room) I first bought it at university, prompted I am pretty sure by the rave reviews of my friend Aussie New Yorker but I never quite got to it.If you have not read this book, it covers the author's lengthy stay in Savannah, at the time of the four trials of antique dealer, Jim Williams, who was tried for the murder of local good time boy (and his assistant), Danny Hansford. I so loved this book, the humid, creeper clad decadence of the Savannahians, and their eccentric cross dressing, backwoods bars, corrupt politicians, secret affairs, all night parties, internecine rivalries, and the two unforgettable female characters - a local voodoo high priestess and drag queen (the Lady Chablis - formerly Frank).  The writer describes the shady world as Gone with the Wind on Mescalin, one of the many lovely turns of phrase sprinkled in the book.   I particularly liked Mandy Nichols' observation that it is so much better to be on the 'edge of a party'.This book is a great exploration of the darker side which hums beneath every city, town and village.   As Minerva the voodoo lady puts it - 'Dead time lasts for one hour -- from half an hour before midnight to half an hour after midnight. The half-hour before midnight is for doin' good. The half hour after midnight is for doin' evil.'This is Jim Williams' house (Mercer House, now a museum I think) which he loved to live in because it annoyed all the 'right people'. Here are some typical houses from the historic quarter:(via Young House Love)(via Pinterest)For all of Lyn Morgan's stunning house in Savannah, go here.  It is quite divine and the antithesis of the dark antique filled rooms of Jim Williams.  You can read more about him here.  [...]


Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:36:00 +0000

Have you seen this UK magazine?  It is difficult to track down here in Australia but it is worth it. There are only two editions a year, and it is heavy and thick and glossy and decadent like an Italian Vogue, and packed full of fantastic interviews, great fashion, amazing photography and lots of dreamy things.   To me, it is exactly what a magazine should be.   I am off to Amazon to try to find a cheap subscription. On the cover is Christy Turlington my favourite secret crush supermodel.  I loved her in the 80s, I love her doing her yoga thing and I love her being a mother.     To me, she has always seemed very unaggressive and gentle.  No tantrums, no odd surgery. (by Peter Lindbergh)(by Sofa and Mauro)It was my birthday this week and I received yesterday a lovely little package in the post which looked like this:It was from Jane, fellow lawyer and blogger, of Planet Baby.  So thoughtful in this day and age to take the time to make a gift, wrap it, write a card and post it all.  Just blows my mind really.  Thank you dear Jane it is much appreciated (and you have a lot of challenges at the moment) and here is the gift, a divine Liberty heart, sitting for moment against a bronze Buddha we bought in northern Thailand a lifetime ago. I am becoming scarily addicted to Instagram. I know I am hardly cutting edge in this, but I do love it so. [...]

At last

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 23:26:00 +0000

This morning I had my final Herceptin treatment.As much as I love the ladies in the oncology suite I fervently hope I never have to set foot there again until the day I die of natural causes at the age of 84.  I made them a plate of chocolate gingerbread which somehow seemed inadequate (not to say unhealthy) for all the great care they had provided to me. I feel like I have run a particularly gruelling torturous marathon. I sat down the other day and did my 'out of pocket' medical expenses table for the accountant (thank you, evil Medicare and health insurer for not paying me for any of my Chinese medical expenses and no it is NOT a lifestyle choice).It made me feel quite unwell to revisit all I have been through.    It was almost like going through it again.  And of course I felt relieved that I was even around to be doing an Excel spreadsheet of medical costs. Because that is what people say don't they?  That we should be thinking 'well at least I'm not dead'.  But really you could say that about any crap experience. It doesn't make it any less horrendous.A particularly satisfying rainbow down at the beachWhen I look at my treatment course I find it hard to believe I found the time to keep working.  And cooking. And being a wife.  And raising two occasionally temperamental children who have been through something no child should have to (as much as I tried to keep on an even keel and keep it hidden, they knew, as all children do, that things were not quite right last year).  I certainly didn't have the time to write here as much as I could have or should have.You see, it's not just the chemo which is distracting.  It is all the miscellanea, or paraphernalia which comes with a cancer diagnosis.As a test, I thought I would see if I can remember what has in fact been keeping me busy since 20 December 2010. And lo and behold, I could.  Engraved on my soul, I guess you could say:two major operationstwo breast biopsiesone MRI2 CT scans2 bone scansone liver ultrasound.two mammogramstwo breast ultrasounds4 x fortnightly AC chemotherapy (average length - four to 5 hours)12 x weekly Taxol chemo (average length 3 hours)12 x weekly Herceptin infusion (with Taxol)15 x 3 weekly Herceptin infusion (average 2 hours).5 heart scans (MUGA and EKG)1 stereoscopic biopsy. 4 self injections of Neulastin (for blood count)6 x injections of Zolodex (don't ask)11 surgical consultationssimilar number oncology consultationsmonthly acupuncture and Chinese herbal consultation with the Professor.countless, and I do mean too many to count, blood tests. And I hasten to point out my treatment was relatively straightforward with very few complications. It's a full time job, having cancer.   These things take time.  Getting the referral, booking appointments, sitting around waiting waiting.  Drinking something awful or having blood taken and waiting a bit more.   Trying not to stare too much at the other people.  Burying my nose in a book or my IPhone.   Waiting a bit more. I have sat in many waiting rooms.  Waiting rooms with nothing but four year old golf magazines. Waiting rooms with ugly flower paintings.  With silly background musak. With morning TV.   With people sitting staring at the wall trying to come to terms with unspeakable news.  With people crying.  But I have also made wonderful friends, and shared many many jokes with all kinds of people, because when things are black one can often still find a reason to smile.  THANK YOU ALL for your words of encourageme[...]

Nautical Shelves

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 01:57:00 +0000

So long since I posted! I have been shaken out of my reverie by a kindly follower who emailed to see if I was okay.  Thank you.  The truth is, I have been enjoying life with a minimum of injections and doctors appointments, so much so I have slipped away from here a bit.   Only one more treatment to go.  I am counting down the days till the 26th of March.  Yes it's true, I have been having intravenous treatment for that long - 15 months.  But I do realise that if I tell people about the cancer and then don't blog, it may make people think the worst. Fear not, dear readers.   Am feeling fantastic.  But am sorry for lack of comments.  Really I Must Do Better. I have been doing a little project at the beach which took longer than it should due to delays with the wallpaper samples arriving. It is very simple, but makes my son's very plain little room a bit more perky.Here is his little bed:Longtime readers will remember I made the boat pillow during a Sunday afternoon burst of creativity.I have found Pottery Barn and the Land of Nod to be invaluable online resources.  These places probably seem basic to readers from the US but for mine simple reasonable quality children's linen which is not festooned with superheroes or Thomas the Tank Engine is not easy to come by here in Australia.  This cover is an all in one padded doona.  Really easy to clean, and lies flat. There are some shelves in this room where we keep books and clothes.I got some sample wallpaper online and lined the shelves like this:It doesn't intrude into the zen whiteness of the room, but it really make the shelves a focus point. The wallpaper is by Thibaut and Ralph Lauren.   UK wallpaper sites are happy to send lots of samples to you, sometimes for free, sometimes for a small fee. In other news, I have joined Twitter.  Not 100% sure why, as I always said I have nothing interesting to say in less than a short paragraph.  But we shall see.  It does allow me to spy on people I have long been a little bit secretly obsessed with like Anthony Bourdain and Bret Easton Ellis.  Feel free to follow me.  I will not be bombarding you with tweets, I can assure you.  Next on the list, Pinterest. xo[...]

Bunkroom Redo

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:43:00 +0000

I finally got round to taking photos of our bunk room.  It takes a long time to fix up these rooms when you are only doing it on the weekends, with lots of breaks for rest.   It also took weeks for this wallpaper to arrive from the UK, as they had to do a new print run *.  (Ralph Lauren Great Harbour from the Family Places Collection) Remember when we bought the house this room looked like this:Because I don't know what I am doing I didn't use a proper undercoat so ended up painting the walls about 5 times.   But that was good because it gave me enough time to spot the gaps where the insects and spiders come in (there are many cracks unfortunately, and because it is kind of a basement room the creepies love to come in and sleep.  Not mentioning that to the children.) You may recall the many problems this room has: very low ceiling, funny shape, structural pole in middle of one side, and that triangle window.They had painted the wall around it to look like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon cover, so I felt a bit bad painting over it but needs must. I got some great advice for this window, including a square blind and plantation shutters.  Here is what I have done.(Curtains come from Pottery Barn, they are a lovely sage green) That's right, nothing.   The reason for this decision is that once I had painted the room and wallpapered this wall I thought it would just be better to leave it as is, with clean lines.  It is not a room which gets used all the time, and the light is not an issue. There was also a financial reason.  Because of the shape the plantation shutter would need to be custom made (the window is 1 metre each side).  The quote I got was $1650.   For one shutter.  (I sent it to my husband to give him a nice fright and he emailed me back 'No.  For the avoidance of doubt, no.'  I love that expression.)So it is just going to be a nudie window for now. (this rug is from Freedom Furniture) Here is a detail of one corner, note gaps, and corrugated iron ceiling which I love, it is very Australian). At the other end of the room I have put in a 'low line' 3 bed bunk.   Here is my son demonstrating the top level.   The bunks work pretty well, although you can see it is a slightly awkward fit.  I found some green ticking linen from Provincial Home. Here is the other end of the room.  So far no furniture, I need a side table or something here.  The chairs are temporary. And in case you are wondering, this is the view from triangle window.  The driveway, some gumtrees, and a bit of ocean.   This is actually the very first room I have painted and redecorated from scratch!  It felt good.  Happy Australia Day!* if you live in Australia you will know that a lot of websites will say 'Cannot be shipped to Australia' or some such, because the supplier has some tie up with a business in Australia.  This wallpaper had the same prohibition but I thought I would order it anyway.  And it must have slipped through their systems because it did eventually arrive![...]

Home Remedies

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 00:24:00 +0000

I have been a most neglectful poster so far this year.  But I have had a wonderful holiday down at the beach, so much so that when I returned to work I forgot my main computer password and even what day it was.   One of those fantastic sandy salty beach holidays where the children tumble exhausted into bed each night, and we watch no television and read books and gaze at the sea for hours on end.   Just perfect. I promise to post pictures of our bunk room, and some of the house next time round, I just have to remember to take my camera down with me. Real non holiday life has been a bit of a shock this year, because the Herceptin which is infused into me every three weeks has been giving me some trouble.   You may recall Herceptin is the wonder drug with no side effects, which I am on until April (a year in total).   I have such a minimal kitchen. Every now and then I hanker for a kitchen like my gran's. Like this. I don't get angry about much these days, at least I try not to, but I was unreasonably enraged at my dashed expectations.  Particularly because I have been on Herceptin for 6 months now with very little impact, so I really thought I was coming to the end of the pain and discomfort.If there is anything worse than a cancer drug with lots of scary well publicised side effects, it is a cancer drug which you are assured has No Side Effects but in fact does.    Each weird ache and pain convinced me I had something unspeakable like secondary bone cancer.  BUT 30 seconds of Internet research demonstrated I am not crazy, and that Herceptin does have some well known side effects.  It is just that those side effects are still denied by many nurses and doctors.   Pink fridge courtesy of an automotive painterThe side effects vary, and obviously not everyone gets them but mine are constantly runny nose, thin nails, and terrible joint pain.   The first two I can live with but the joint pain, which also featured when I was on Taxol, is stabby and painful, severe enough to wake me at night and particularly bad in my left shoulder and collarbone and wrists and ankles and in my feet when I first wake up.   My joints crack when I move them. It is like being 90 years old.  It is technically arthralgia, not arthritis because there is no swelling. The last thing I want to do is take more pain killers.  So I thought that before I resorted to Panadol I would try some home remedies.  And whilst I was researching this, it occurred to me that there are a few bits and pieces from my pantry which I now use regularly which have really helped me.  I use these in conjunction with good old nuclear grade conventional medicine.    And exercise.  Being a recent convert to exercise, I feel a bit preachy going on about this, but strenuous weight bearing exercise has really helped me over the last year, and definitely helps with joint pain. All I need now is for my grandmothers to come back to life so I can chat to them about what they cooked up in their kitchens. Apple Cider Vinegar.  ACV is meant to be a cure all for many things, but particularly good for joint pain (arthritis, gout and all others).  Sounds too good to be true doesn't it?  You take it as 2 teaspoonsful in a standard glass of water, I think warm is the best.  What I am about to tell you will amaze you. I have been taking ACV this way twice a day for a week now, and my joint pain [...]


Wed, 14 Dec 2011 22:51:00 +0000

Before we had children we used to eat, literally every week, at a restaurant called the Bengal Tiger, which kicked off my obsession with Indian food.   Once we had children we cut back on the endless restaurant dining and so I had no choice but to cook Indian at home, which I have done, almost every week, ever since.There is something very life affirming about Indian food.  The orange chilli powder, the musky clove and cinamon smells, the saffron yellow turmeric, the grinding of spices, the slow slow braising of chicken, the snowy fluffy rice, all those pulses and grains, the little dishes filled with yoghurty condiments and spicy salads.   And of course there is no such thing as 'Indian' food just as there is no such thing as 'Chinese' food.  So you can endlessly discover new dishes. (some of my Indian cookbooks)Which is why all I really want for Christmas is this book by Christine Manfield:And then one day, off to Agra I will go, to do something like this:(courtesy Brandon Van Slyke *)On Saturday it will be a year exactly since my cancer diagnosis.  On that day I will be heading off to my hairdresser to address my unsatisfactory way too short mousey brown boofy hair.  As much as my hair is driving me berko, as I keep saying to myself, at least I am not dead.   My Oncologist Who Doesn't Believe in Remission** (and who also told me that cancer is just the wrong form of energy, which is why I love him) doesn't want me to dwell on this awful anniversary, and I think that makes sense.  Last year, unusually, I had bought all my presents and even set the table for our twenty person Christmas lunch a good 10 days before Christmas, unheard of for me. And then the next day I had the diagnosis. It was as if on a subconscious level my body knew what was about to happen.  If nothing else, this year has completely convinced of the powerful mind-body connection. Not that you can cure yourself by positive thinking, no not at all.  Those who read this blog will know I do not believe in that at all.  Rather that there are so many things our bodies know, we just have to listen.  This is our Star Wars Advent Calendar.  I know.   Unbelievable isn't it.  Who would have thought that Star Wars was so Christian.   But my goodness the children love it. So to the point, which is that last night we went on our once every 9 years trip to the opera.  It was La Traviata, by Verdi.  You know, the One with the courtesan (ie prostitute) Violetta who sacrifices her love for her penniless young man Alfredo only to be reunited with him and then dramatically drop dead from consumption.  That one.   And I sat there and thought, really, so much of last year has just been about surviving.  Getting out of bed and making it from one day to the next.   Dreading the little twinges.  Over Googling recurrent secondary breast cancer.  Lying in bed at night, sleepless, convincing myself that I am fine, and just a very lucky person.  Wondering if I will even be alive to see my already slightly moody daughter become a teenager.  Hoping I will be around to teach my son the correct way to treat women and to make sure he doesn't break his neck playing football.   Next year, I hope, will be more about living.  So it needs to be more about swimming and sunshine:(Byron Bay - courtesy Adrian McGruther*) and pointless beautiful things: And whilst we are enjoying Christmas I want you to think, [...]

The Hair Question Part 2

Mon, 21 Nov 2011 23:50:00 +0000

I have never considered myself particularly vain.  No more than the next person.  Not straining to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.   Reasonably happy with my laugh lines.  Not a face full of makeup person.  I have always believed that what lies within is so much more important than the exterior.  That is what I try to teach my children (who are taught otherwise by so many fairy tales - ugly people are bad, beautiful people are good). But I have to say, losing my hair was a challenge almost as great as being diagnosed with cancer in the first place. And it was not just because I didn't look that great without hair.   Let's face it, who does?  I don't have a round face so I concede I may have looked a tiny bit better than some others, but still. It was just that I missed feeling like myself.  I have always had longish (shoulder length) hair.    I felt colder with no hair.  I had nothing to run my fingers through, nothing to fuss with.  Nothing to wash and blow dry (well I admit that part was good).  Nothing to tie back, or clip up.    When I wrote this post I was full of ideas for head scarves.  In reality, I never wore a head scarf.  Not once.  I did wear hats, and I was given some lovely ones.  And I wore my trusty wig.   I have been wondering why, and I think the answer to the question is quite simple.  I didn't want people to know I had cancer.  You might think that is strange given this blog.   It's not that my cancer was a secret. I just really didn't want the flash of pity I would see in people's eyes when they saw my hairless state. So I went with the Big Con of the wig.   And really it is amazing how many people did not realise it was a wig.  Even now, people who have seen me regularly all year find out and can't believe it.(My Wig Disclosure Policy was as follows: if someone who didn't know about the cancer (some clients, cafe people, school people) commented on my hair more than once (including comments like please tell me the name of your hairdresser), I would tell them it was a wig. I felt mean about this because I could see the surprise in their eyes but I think if someone has commented twice on how nice your hair is you can't keep up the charade of pretending it's yours.  This situation happened to me just last week with the divine girls who run the before school program for my son.  I could see them thinking: WTF?  This woman we have seen three times a week all year has had chemo for cancer and wears a wig?!)In fact as it turns out I never lost all my hair.  Just about 90% though.  And in the mire of chemo treatment you tend to lose track.  But I never shaved it off.  I just couldn't bring myself to do it.   And it is true it does grow back very quickly.  But the inbetween stage from pixie and cute to normal is just interminable. I always said I could cope with hair loss if I kept my eyebrows.  Then when I lost them I said I could cope with that if I kept my eyelashes.  But they went too.  And do you know when that happened?   In a cruel twist, my brows and lashes went, almost overnight, about 2 weeks after chemo ended.  I had read that might happen but thought I would escape that fate.   I have learned that you really need eyebrows you know.  They add definition and structure.  &nb[...]


Sun, 13 Nov 2011 20:05:00 +0000

A couple of years back I did a 5 day raw food retreat at this place in northern Bali.  I am useless at these kinds of disciplines.  I dreamed of charcoal-y beef steaks and oven baked potatoes every night, and convinced myself that white wine was a raw food stuff because surely fermentation is not the same as cooking. And if you can't do raw food looking at this all day then one has no hope back in Melbourne.(Massage hut at Puri Ganesha)I do like the pristine clean feeling uncooked food gives me.   And if you like salads it is relatively easy to do quite often. Sunday night is raw food night.   It used to be omelette night.  Or noodles night. I recently bought this book by Kimberley Snyder.  She of the Green Smoothie I have mentioned before. Her eating plan is about beauty and skin health.  I am interested in it for overall health reasons.   Her eating plan is also vegan, which I struggle with.  I did vegan once, and lasted about 10 hours. I know.  Hopeless, right?However, as bizarre as it sounds, her raw cold cauliflower soup is divine.   I won't show you the finished soup because frankly it's not that appetising looking.  But here are the ingredients and they look pretty nice before they are pureed.Put in a vitamiser the following:juice of a lemonhalf or quarter of a cauliflower, choppedhalf an avocadogood splash of tamariteaspoon of turmericlarge pinch of sea salta cup of waterBlend until smooth.  You can adjust the wateriness if you like.  Her recipe involves a teaspoon of miso but I don't have that so I left it out.  I also put in heaps of tamari.  You could also put in some dried chilli flakes. This makes a generous bowl for one or small bowls for two. It's not enough food for me so I also have some of her 'burritos' which consist of celery marinated in lemon juice, mustard and savoury yeast, avocado, sprouts and spinach wrapped in a nori sheet.  Do you have any raw food treats I can try?  White wine counts as raw food.  So does red wine. [...]


Sun, 06 Nov 2011 20:09:00 +0000

We bought a beach house a couple of months back. (Kept that quiet, didn't I?).I will post some pictures at some point. The house is at Fairhaven, on the west coast of Victoria.  An English friend described this area to me as like Cornwall, and the northern beaches of Sydney as like the Mediterranean. I think this is quite apt.  We have certainly had some blustery grey blue weekends down there.     The house doesn't need really any renovation, which was one of my pre-conditions.  I have hung some new curtains and that is it.However there is one room which needed a lot of work. It is the downstairs bunk room, which was used by the old owners as storage.  We need it as occasional accommodation so that we have enough room for the children plus guests. I mentioned in a previous post that I love the Scandinavian grey and white and wood beach shack style.  Of course not all of that is really suited to the Australian summer, which does get hot, even down here.  And I think pure white walls are can be an issue when you have lots of sun glare. So, here is the plan for the bunk room. If I could do a mood board then I would, but I can't, so I am laying it out old style. One wall to be wallpapered in this:(Ralph Lauren from the Family Places range)  Other walls painted in Chalk USA:(thanks A-M - I found this on your blog!)Bunks along one wall maybe like this:Curtains like this:(from Pottery Barn)Floor coverings like this:(from Freedom Furniture)  Other furniture is completely undecided.  Although I have bought this lamp from Ikea because I liked the colour:And I would like some ticking stripe linen like this: (via Toast)  I love stripes in children's rooms. Oh, and here is a shot of the room itself just before we bought the house.   This room has a Few Issues.  It has a very very low ceiling, less than 190 cm.  And a triangle window!   And a strangely positioned woodenly pole.  And the tiled floor is not ideal but I can cover that.  Arrggh...So far it has taken me four coats to paint out that blue stripe. I am by no means an expert painter so that might be why. The wall to be wallpapered is the black one.   And what oh what could I do to cover that triangle window? The best I have come up with is a plantation shutter, but it would have to be custom made. This is where I have got to. Wish me luck! (Images (1) and (5) from My Scandinavian Retreat (3), (10) and (11) Pinterest.) [...]

A New Blog for Jane

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 08:01:00 +0000

It has been pretty serious around My Pear Tree House this year, what with the cancer, and all that. 

(Kaleidoscope Dolls House, dating from 2002, now in the V&A in London) 

I wanted to do something a bit light and childlike.   

So have created a new blog, about Dolls Houses.  Something my daughter can read.  And something to remind us all of being a carefree little child.  

Sadly my little blog has no followers.   

If you are interested in Dolls Houses, please feel free to visit, and follow or subscribe.  (The link is to the left.)

Correction: the link is to the right.  I still don't know my left and right! 


Good Things Spring 2011

Mon, 31 Oct 2011 03:40:00 +0000

(pearl barley and aduki bean salad with char grilled asparagus and salsa verde dressing)This salad, adapted from the book pictured below. This book is so amazing, I feel like stopping people in the street to tell them.    Brilliant warm salads, lots of wonderful baked vegetable dishes and everything in between.  You do not need to be a vegetarian (I am not).  But if you want to reduce the amount of meat in your life (I do) and need decent interesting recipes this is the book for you.  For example, quinoa with parsley pesto, cranberries, toasted hazelnuts and mushrooms, a divine raw vegetable and avocado soup, parsnip and rosemary rolls, baked red onions stuffed with toasted, spiced couscous and oven baked pea, barley and broad bean frittata.  She also has instructions for making your own sprouts from any seed (sprouts are a great super food), labne, yoghurt and tofu.    Buy it! This Phillip Treacy hat worn by Dita Von Teese to Derby Day, in defiance of the black and white rule of Derby Day.   I like Dita, but I have to ask: why do we Australians persist in importing celebrities from 'overseas' to the Spring Racing Carnival?  Are we so insecure that we need validation by a non-Australian?  Or does it make it a truly international day?  The imported guests over the years have ranged from a charming Rex Harrison to a very bored Paris Hilton.    The celebritizing of the races generally is part of the reason I gave up our Victorian Racing Club membership this year.  Read Francesca Cumani's take on it here.  This house at 58 Millswyn Street, South Yarra.    I played in this house as a little girl when family friends owned it. It is now renovated and on the market for (no doubt) A Bomb.Beetroot cheek and lip tint from Ere Perez.  Yes beetroot.  Better on the cheeks than inside the tummy, raw, I think! Great organic Australian makeup.  I also have their mascara. This fondue set.   Doesn't ship to Australia, sadly.(from Jenna at Etsy)This artist.  I love her.  She makes me feel like a little girl again.    And who wouldn't like a tame fox sleeping on their head? (Marisol Spoon on Etsy)I think I am officially the last person on the planet to get Etsy.  I have browsed many times of course but never bought.   In a possibly fruitless attempt to de-plasticise my life I have bought some non plastic lunch bags for the children.  And sandwich bags.  And snack bags.   Coming from all around the globe, and all really good value. I will show you when they arrive. Oh, one more thing.  The children are obsessed with Star Wars at the moment and in a moment of idle googling I came across many people with a similar obsession. To wit:(sorry couldn't find source)At that moment, TK-788 and TR-114 made a pact to never speak of this day again to anyone (from [...]