Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hospital days

Hello, I’m back! This week saw me spend an unexpected 2½ days in hospital. Nothing serious, but I had a bit of an infection. Woke up early Monday shaking uncontrollably with a fever – I could barely get myself out of bed I was so cold (but in reality, really hot!). Scared the hell out of my poor hubby though (thanks babe for looking after me!)…& scared myself a bit too. Luckily, our nearest hospital emergency is only 5 minutes drive from our place & even luckier, there wasn’t a single person waiting to be seen!

Have never had to stay in hospital before. The last time I was only in for a day having my wisdom teeth out. This time I ended up sharing a ward with some lovely ladies – my bed neighbour & I had similar bugs & came into emergency within hours of each other. We had a lotta laughs about how all dignity is thrown out the window in hospital, esp. wearing those glamorous gapey hospital gowns! You should have seen us make a trip downstairs in them to the common food area to buy some ice blocks – we were the only patients there…my neighbour in her high-heel wedges (it had been her birthday the day before – she was wearing her party shoes!) & me in my flip-flops! Oh well, there’s something about everyone being in the same undignified boat!

It was an interesting experience. As much as you’re lying around in bed all day, it’s bloody tiring. You don’t get much sleep day or night…everyone getting up in the night, the snoring, the nurses & their torches checking up on us all the time, the 2am & 6am wake-ups to take our obs and have our drugs. Plus, I had a complete lack of appetite. I even refused one of my fav desserts, baklava (made by mum) and my fav junk food…cheese Twisties. Everyone was like…”Nicky, you MUST be sick!!”. Hospital food was appalling (think really bad camp food, reeeally bad), but the scary excuse of roast beef & shepherd’s pie was replaced by my mum’s yummy chinese home cooking: won ton soup, sweet corn soup, chicken rice with shiitake mushroom & lap cheong (chinese sausage). Mmmm, that’s more like it. Thanks Mum – what would I do without you when I’m sick?? I also learnt some valuable life skills like mastering the art of taking a shower when attached to an IV drip.

I’ve got to take it easy I’ve been told. V. hard for me since I’m not good at relaxation – I always need to be doing something! I’m a potterer. But now, it’s meant to be a time of rest, catching up on my magazines & lying around watching DVD’s! Thanks Tiff for holding the blogging fort. And for the (trashy) magazines & cheese Twisties. You’ll be glad to hear part of my appetite is back…I’m already hoeing into them. That’s definitely a good sign. N

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Year of Cakes Gallery- March

Three of Martha's apprentices have managed March's Cardamom Coffee Streusel Cake so far. You can have a peek at their efforts here. This one was the easiest by far. So if you have been contemplating joining in, this is a great place to start, before the next scary layer cake! You can find the recipe here.

Although I wasn't a big fan of this cake... you can see that it was still a victim of a bit of afternoon grazing! T

Monday, March 27, 2006

Routine Breaker

I was feeling pretty proud as I had got through much of my "to do list" today. Got the boy off to the airport without hassle, walked the dog, put on the washing, returned the hire car, switched to green energy (for only the cost of a cup of coffee a week) & checked the accommodation for the upcoming trip. General work-from-home routine duties achieved, a big tick!

Thought I would email a friend in Hong Kong that we would be passing through. Discovered that he has emailed us first. The reason we haven't heard from him since early Jan was that he had been taking care of his girlfriend that had been in the coach accident in Egypt on Jan 31. She has lost her dad & her brother and has been in hospital since then. A similar accident happened to some Australians 2 weeks earlier, so somehow I missed the news that some Hong Kong-ians where involved in another. He hasn't seen his family, done much work, moved into his new apartment.... none of the routine duties acheived... It got me to thinking about how much importance we place on these things, the feelings of failure when the house isn't clean, haven't got any excercise done... but really they just aren't that important after all.

To be honest I am feeling a bit anxious about seeing him now. Silly isn't it...T

Sausage Sandwich Saturday

On the north side of the (our claim to fame) Harbour Bridge, under its shadows the Kirribilli Markets appears once a month. This Saturday we joined in with the clusters of about 200 stalls on the bowling green... and had a great time! I don't know about you, but it is always a shock to the system getting up at 5:30am and having to think logically about what you are packing into the car. It was a lot like going on a road trip... every time when we see the sunrise we realise it is one of the best times of the day, and think about doing it more regularly. But, we know that really isn't going to happen, don't we!

Packed on our stall was our tees, softies and bags... you can see the stories that inspired our prints pegged on the front of the table, and in the background there is the Harbour Bridge. Despite the odd short downpours of rain we were lucky to have mostly blue sky.

What we found really interesting was the tees that the boutiques bought for their customers weren't necessarily what people were buying! It was really great to get a bit of different feedback, we even picked up two stores that might like to stock our "rescued softies". On Saturday we waved goodbye to Elvis, Amelie & Yumi... off on their adventures to their new homes.

We too headed home, tired, happy & full of sausage sandwiches! T

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tie One On- March Challenge

I was planning on posting about the Tie One On challenge on Friday.... but, I got stuck in the passport office for four hours with surly passport staff in continuous slow motion. What I noticed (I had a lot of time to ponder the office) was the chirpy background video ...perky people were explaining how important and fabulous it was to get an Australian passport. In the beige room it actually seemed interesting the first time it played.... after the bizillionth (my favourite over exaggerating number) I think I could parrot it word for word. Crazy scary woman syndrome had set in! So posting was the last thing on my mind when I stumbled home.... and rewarded myself with a lemon polenta cake!

Back to the challenge! This month for Tie One On we had to make aprons for one of our softies! When we read this Nicky gave me one of "those" looks. The look meant "you have way more softies than is possible for one human to own, you're doing this one"! Yay!

Bert & Ernie cannot be separated... I mean they live together on 123 Sesame St. They both demanded aprons... with colours to complement their current outfits! I tried to convince them that camo was much more cool, but they wouldn't have it. To continue the Sesame Street theme they also wanted a "B" for Bert & an "E" for Ernie.

As soon as they got them on they wanted to bake Donna Hay's Triple Chocolate Cookies.... Cookie Monster is very happy! And now I am waiting for them all to help me with the washing up! Not holding my breath. T

P.S To the fabulous Miss V, don't you be laughing at me!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Mini-cakes of gold

There seems to be a reason why I’m always drawn to staying in the Latin Quarter in Paris. While it is close to the sights and the Seine, it is also home to several food markets and fabulous boulangeries. So on our recent trip, it just so happened that our rented apartment was located just around the corner from rue Monge, the location of one of Paris’ premier bakers, Eric Kayser. With stores all over town, his original store is located on this street; in fact, he has 2 stores almost adjacent to each other, one of which is an organic bakery.

Muji dog couldn't wait either....

It was a regular breakfast stop of ours and as we joined the queue (& there was ALWAYS a queue here), we deliberated over what to have. There are an amazing array of breads full of different fruits & grains - the pain aux figues was incredible (check out Oswego Tea’s review of it here), the croissants buttery & crisp. But the mini financiers were a revelation! These little almond tea cakes were originally created for financiers in the late nineteenth century and were baked in little rectangular pans to resemble bars of gold! You can still see these versions at patisseries all over the place. Eric Kayser had 3 mini versions in semi-hemispherical shapes…almond, pistachio & chocolate (above). I just couldn’t resist & needed to try all 3!

They were buttery, nutty, chewy morsels of cakey heaven! I could compare them to friands, but that wouldn’t do them justice (& I’m not a big fan of them anyway). These little financiers were in a class of their own. There’s no way you can stop at 1, so we didn’t….they were only bite-size after all! N

Maison Kayser
8 rue Monge & 14 rue Monge (Organic)
75005 Paris
Metro: Maubert-Mutualite
Open: 8 rue Monge – Wed-Sun 7am-8.30pm. 14 rue Monge – Tues-Sun 7am-8.15pm

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Month of Softies - March 2006

For March’s Month of Softies, the theme was the interesting “A room of one’s own”….a softie inspired by a room’s colour/feel/theme. Hmmm…what to do, what to do?? Given I’ve got a grey colour scheme with some splashes of red happening in my lounge room, I was thinking along these lines. So thanks to some marle grey jersey fabric Tiff discovered amongst her fabric hoards and her Aranzi Aronzo book for inspiration, I was on my way!

This little bear is the first softie that I’ve made all by myself! Given I’m still on my “L’s” (learners) in the sewing department, there was a little trepidation on my part when I sat in front of the sewing machine. It was a slow, sometimes frustrating process, but it was fun seeing her all come together in the end, especially when I put her red candy-striped dress on (made from some leftover fabric I used one year to wrap Christmas puddings).

She is currently lounging on the couch, feeling very comfortable amongst all my grey & red cushions. Although she just whispered to me, she wouldn’t mind some more little friends….we’ll just have to wait til I recover a bit! N

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kylie Kwong's Dad Rocks!

When I was about 12 years old my family lived in Hong Kong for 15 months. My memories are filled with exotic & fascinatingly gory markets, the cute sweets in corner shop, weekend island trips & the star ferry. A favourite gastronmic memory is the spaghetti bolognaise at the club!

Although I have often wished that I was Italian there is something special about the gooey, salty & sweet Hong Kong version. Mum & Dad's friends are members of "The Club" and I would always look forward to seeing them because there was always something exciting happening at their place and we would go to dinner at the aforementioned club. I have no idea which club, but that's were you find this pasta.

Kylie Kwong is our Chinese-Australian celebrity chef. I have a couple of her cookbooks and in one she includes two of her dad's recipes... one of them is spaghetti bolognaise, and it has just the right stickiness & flavour. The page is covered in spurts and splats because I go back to it so often! In the blurb next to the recipe Kylie says she thinks it is the soya sauce mixing with the tomato paste that gives this great flavour.

So it is Europe meets Asia... and I even cook it in a wok! Yum! T

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Woo Hoo!

A big congratulations to Loobylu for winning the best Australian or New Zealand blog in this year's bloggie awards! You may recall Loobylu was our first experience of the world of blogs... no wonder we got sucked in, the first blog we discovered is obviously the antipodean's best! T

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Year of Cakes - 3 down, 9 to go!


It’s true that our confidence in tackling Martha’s recipes has increased over time, although as we found in the last 2 months’ attempts, that confidence was sorely tested when the experiences turned into baking marathons! Surely we could ask in absolute confidence….how hard can it be to make March’s Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake?? It’s just a tea cake, right? Well, you’ll be glad to hear that the cake didn’t get the better of us this time…we could actually take the pictures well before midnight….in daylight!

The cake had only two main components: the streusel and the cake. Firstly, we baked the cardamom pods in the oven until they were fragrant. We have never used whole cardamom pods before & were surprised by their aromatic aniseedy & almost minty fragrance. After the pods had cooled, we needed to finely grind them. Now, we’ve found with Martha’s recipes there’s always some key piece of equipment we never have! Without access to a spice grinder, we had to use the next best thing…a handblender. So Tiff starts whizzing away, but uh-oh, what’s that scary noise it’s making…hmmm, better stop that, don’t want to bust the thing! So, out comes the mortar & pestle for a bit of manual handgrinding!

After pestling the pods to a finely ground spice, we added this to both the streusel mix and the cake batter. We were mildly appalled at the amount of butter required for the streusel alone. Neither of us are manic calorie-counters, but no amount of baking over the years has dampened the shock when we find out how much butter is needed in some recipes. It’s usually met with a gasp & a look of shock…followed by “ok, whatever!?” Here’s a pic of the streusel mix before being mixed with our version of a pastry blender; namely, Tiff’s hands. Yes, substitution was necessary cos this was another piece of equipment we didn’t have, but we admit we didn’t actually know what a pastry blender was!

While Tiff was streuselling, I started mixing the cake, which was pretty straightforward. We then spooned a layer of cake batter into Tiff’s newly purchased angel cake tin (ok, so this was one piece of equipment we thought necessary to purchase!). This was followed by a layer of crumbly streusel and then another layer of cake batter, before topped off with the rest of the streusel. Wow, there was a lot of streusel – we were really looking forward to those crunchy crumbly bits!

The pre-baked cake:

Into the oven it went…and the smell wafting out of there was amazing! But even more amazing is the fact it was only 12 noon! Don’t believe it, we can actually sit down to a leisurely lunch with a friend while the cake bakes! So leisurely we were…lunching & chatting on the balcony that we didn’t hear the timer go off until I yell out….”THE CAKE!!!??” Tiff bolts to the kitchen, takes it out…some hesitation follows until she says, “It looks good!” Phew! A burnt cake wasn’t on the cards today….

After some trickiness to get the cake out of the tin requiring 3 pairs of hands, 2 spatulas & a lotta concentration, we were quite pleased with the result. Here it is:

Martha’s Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake

Our Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake

And the taste? The cake was moist (thanks to the yoghurt), the streusel sweet & crunchy and overall, the cake had a nicely spiced cardamom flavour that wasn’t at all overpowering like we feared. Good with a cup of tea. But to tell you the truth, we felt there was something missing. Something moist and juicy. We thought the cake would have been nice with some chopped apples or pears folded through it, or as Tiff suggested, maybe accompanied with some poached pears with custard poured over the top! Or ice cream! Mmmm…now you’re talking!

Next month…the Spring Shower Almond Petits Fours…my favourite kind of sweet little treat! N

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sewing 101

I’m learning to sew. Thanks to the needs of our business & Tiff’s creative sparks, this last year has seen me sitting behind a sewing machine many a time. Only problem was, I needed much direction each time. Lots of “Help Tiff, I don’t know what’s wrong with the machine” or “Tiff, can you please re-thread the machine for me”. And lots of warnings from Tiff to keep my fingers away from the needle, we don’t want any nasty accidents….

My only experience with a sewing machine previously was Textiles & Design classes in Year 7. Apart from that, I do know how to hand-sew on a button & take up a hem (although I’m a little slow with this). It wasn’t til seeing our softies take shape into the lovely creatures that they are that the enjoyment factor from sewing really took hold. I’m not gonna take much credit – apart from cutting out the shapes, fabric & sewing on some of the faces…Tiff does the rest! So I really wanted to learn sewing from scratch.

Once a week, I head off to the nearby high school for my 2-hour “Learn to Sew” classes run by my local community college. I’m in the 6th week of the 8-week course. I’ve learnt a lot including understanding some sewing terminology, reading & cutting a pattern, adjusting the pattern to my size, how to sew a zip (managed this one on my 1st go – yes, was v. proud of myself!!) & other sewing tidbits. This week we learnt how to do a buttonhole. But I have to admit, I still find it all a bit daunting. Especially reading pattern instructions…all that sewing lingo! The course is almost over & I still haven’t finished my simple (!?) A-line skirt. So much to remember when you’ve never done this before! But there’s a great camaraderie with my fellow classmates…lots of empathetic laughing at our sewing blunders & lots of cheers when we get it right!

It’s all girls in my class, so my question is…where are all the men? Are there any men out there who sew as a hobby?? N

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Birthday Suit Song

This was too much fun! I was surfing Jay Lassiter's blog and found this treasure! It is a tool to find out what was the No.1 U.S song when you were born (don't know the Australian). Mine was Elton John's Crocodile Rock. Okay... I am a bit dissapointed, but after I got over it I tried out everyone else's birthday I could remember. If you want to play go here! T

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bag lady of Japan

Can a girl have too many handbags? I think that I probably have too many... and the reason I think I must have reached this point is because I don't seem to be able to rotate through them all. They all seem to be lurking at the top of the wardrobe. I didn't consciously collect them, it is because the bags in Tokyo are irresistible, the bags were so different... On each trip a few more came home and voila a collection! I can't show you them all, because that would be embarrassing! So here are a few...

You can get loads of vintage in Tokyo. I think great big container ships filled with the stuff leaves the western world bringing second hand goods from couture to kid's stuff to Japan. This reversible bag was made from a kid's pillow case and a pair of Levi's. This was the beginning of my stash.

My boy got this one for me Osaka... he actually got me two of these Verda bags. The colour combinations are fantastic, they are reminiscent of vintage packaging. A lot of things in Japan use these comforting and happy colours... I am not sure if it is because they feel they missed out on the 60's and are recapturing the spirit now or something. Totes are also really popular... there is a little store in Daikanyama that only carries totes, they call them the purest form of bag!

The most kookiest bag in the collection is this acorn bag, with a little mushroom for good measure! The fabric looks like it came from the 70's... I have never had the gumption to carry this in Australia, we are so conservative in the fashion stakes and I think I would stick out as the kidult that I am!

This bag is one of my favourites. We were walking through the laneways of Harajuku and saw lots of bags with appliqued dogs on bags on a stairwell. Up on the first level we found a room filled with them... In the background was the hum of a sewing machine, someone was crafting in a back room. The shop assistant told us that everything was made there... a funky artisan with their own shop, their dream come true, I had to support them! Sadly the last time we were there the shop had gone... I hope they had just moved on to another location. T

Monday, March 13, 2006

Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies – Lime Flowers

In terms of sheer quantity, there's nothing I bake more than cookies. Or as we call them in Oz…biscuits or biccies. While I love baking all types of desserts, with just the 2 of us in our household, it’s very hard to finish off a whole cake or tart in 1 or 2 days when it’s nice and fresh. Ok, so it might not be THAT hard…but we’d need to call in the Fat Controllers pretty fast! And so, this is where biscuits fit in perfectly. They have a longer shelf life & are so versatile:
  • sometimes the dough can be frozen so you can whip up instant biccies;
  • they make handy thank-you gifts when friends & family have us round for dinner/celebration;
  • they have a low-guilt factor when you just need a sweet little treat to lift your spirits in the afternoon (assuming you limit yourself to 1 or 2);
  • fabulous with a cup of tea;

….well, the list could go on!

So this last Christmas saw the purchase of the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine. This is my new best friend – it’s serious biccie heaven. I saw it at the newsagency one week but didn’t buy it; when I went back 2 weeks later it was no longer on display…a mini-panic ensued within until the newsagent brought a copy for me from out the back. Phew! The newsagent said to me ‘There must be something in there you really wanted to make’ – such was the look of relief on my face!

It’s a great mag – I love the pictorial index for each biccie & there are over 100 recipes, split up into categories like “Soft & Chewy”, “Crisp & Crunchy”, “Light & Delicate” (my current fav), “Cakey & Tender”, "Rich and Dense" etc etc. I’ve barely made a dent in the recipes having only made 4 different ones…it is seriously overwhelming trying to decide which ones to bake!

Over the weekend, I made the “Crisp & Crunchy” Lime Flowers to take to some friends who had invited us over for dinner. This was the second batch I had made, as I had frozen half the dough a couple of weeks ago as they made a lot of biccies. They are quite moreish – buttery, sweet, crisp & crunchy like Martha says with a lovely lime tang. Mmmm. So the dilemma now is…do I bake these again or do I go for one of the other 100+ recipes?? N

Saturday, March 11, 2006

In the playground of Lost & Found!


There is one good thing about being disorganised... and that is discovering stuff you misplaced, like the $10 I found in my pocket this week and these little lovely scraps of fabric I found in a box.

It was like being in a crafty playground! Nicky and I made these hair accessories:


On Friday I discovered that all types of bakeries have popped up on Broadway (Ultimo, not New York)... This is not what you expect to find along this polluted main road, but there they were burden down with lots & lots of glistening goodies. Beb is the French patisserie, which is the only place in Sydney that I know that produces macaroons... so 3 chocolate macaroons came home with me and a lemon creme brulee tart also tagged along! Then I stumbled along Bread Story an East meets West-style bakery which has funny named pastries like Heaven, Flossie Hottie... I got a soft wide bun with a Yam/ Taro filling. Not pictured are the custard swirl & red bean long bun that... um, disappeared... somewhere! T

P.S Just discovered that Grab Your Fork has written a review of lots of these bakeries, and ate a lot more than me!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Italian for a day!

The stork dropped me in the wrong place. I was so meant to be Italian... The whole way of life makes me happy. Of course the food is fantastic, but I think it is the generous spirit, the feeling of family... and still being able to tease each other is what is so appealing (not unlike my Indo-Chinese heritage really). My dream holiday is to go on one of the Gourmet Safari's to Italy, hang out with some villagers, bottle tomatoes and zip around on a red vespa.

Monday was the best day, I had no inkling of it in the early morning but through a series of fortunate events I was Italian for a day! Mum rang just as I was about to head off to Nicky's for some serious T-shirt business.... "Tiff the Italian lady up the road just rang me and asked if we want to bottle tomatoes"! I was quickly onto Nicky describing this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to drive by and pick her up... get ready!

We entered Ana & Joe's house through the garage where we were welcomed by dozens & dozens of red ripe tomatoes... the juice started to spurt as we washed & cut them into quarters. While Ana gave us directions on how not to waste any bit of the fruit, the virtue of a sharp knife, the need to pass on traditions and marital advice, she chopped up 3/4 of the pile. Nicky, Mum & I were pretty slow, but it was hard to concentrate on the sharp knife and listen to the juicy bits of advice at the same time!

After the cutting, came the boiling... apparently this is not essential, but it makes the process of sauce making that much easier. The crusher or processor... not sure what the machine is called, but it turns the fruit pieces into pulp. This was the second best bit. There was juice spraying everywhere as we turned the handle (a bit like those organ grinders you see in the movies) as the fruit was crushed and separated from the seeds and skin. Joe had the end of what looked like a bed post for us to stuff the tomatoes down the shoot... a bit of Italian ingenuity! After an hour or so we were tired but we now had two gigantic pots of sauce... shimmery red gold.

Here I am covered in sauce processing the fruit.

Winding again:

Still winding:

Fresh basil from the garden was stuffed into the bottles ready for Joe to fill them with sauce.

I thought that the sterilizing would be done by putting the bottles into a pot and boiling them in lots of batches. Boy was I wrong! Italian ingenuity strikes again! In the backyard was an old metal drum with a wood fire underneath. In went the bottles then covered by old clothes. I thought this was a bit weird! Washing & bottling, 2 birds, 1 stone and all that! It was actually to prevent glass spraying everywhere if one of the bottles should explode!

The best bit was lunch. Ana made a gigantic pot of the sauce, fresh basil, garlic and "too much to mention" amount of olive oil. With spaghetini & Parmesan it was just bliss. Ana also insisted that we all had a glass of Annie's Lane Cab Merlot, her favorite drop! Suddenly we realised it was already three in the afternoon... the day had almost gone. We were trying to leave but weren't allowed until we had freshly brewed coffee & an amaretti biscotti.

Ana has promised us she will teach us how to make cannelloni lasagne... Can't wait to be Italian again!

I think Nicky wishes the stork dropped her in Paris! Ana told me she wished the stork dropped her in Australia! Where do you wish the stork dropped you? T

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cakes

Want to see some other attempts at Martha's Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake? Then click here! Anne over at Butty glirl is going to attempt hers in March (but you can see her piping prowess on her lemon cake in the gallery) and you can also check out Buzzville's results! Yummy interpretations around the globe... kinda funny to know that people in different cities are tucking into the same dessert and eating leftover chocolate mousse! T

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Teeing off

Part of having our own t-shirt label means getting our heads around the whole creative and production process…from finding the initial inspirational stories…to designing the prints, sourcing the fabric, having the tees manufactured and dyed, getting our designs screenprinted….to when we deliver the final product to the stores.

And so over several days last month, me, Tiff & Horlicks got hands-on packing our Winter 06 range for delivery. This involved:

  • Wondering whether everyone else is as vigilant about quality control as we are after going cross-eyed from checking a few too many t-shirts for a hole/missed stitch/loose thread/dye blotch etc;
  • Printer meltdowns as the stories of our tees are printed onto brown paper tags;
  • Sewing machine meltdowns sewing up said story tags;
  • Hand cramps from folding, slicing, dicing & threading swing tags;
  • The pricking hazards of safety pins while attaching swing tags to t-shirts;
  • Wondering what the long-term toxicity effects of spray adhesive are;
  • Folding more tees than we care to count;
  • The challenge of cutting up brown wrapping paper before Horlicks does so with his paws;
  • Inadvertently attaching sticky tape to ourselves, not our parcels;
  • Getting to the post office before it closes.

As you can see, it’s all glamour this fashion business!! But it is satisfying seeing it all come together...well, that’s what we keep telling ourselves before the whole cycle comes around again….

So in all the kerfuffle, I forgot to take a pic of our lovingly wrapped parcels, but here is Horlicks helping us out where he could! N

Monday, March 06, 2006


Rescue Softie #3

Name: Yumi
When she grows up she wants to be: an astronaut.
Favourite dessert: Tiramisu

Yumi's fabric is from the Japanese fabric mill Latanpopo... It features the iconic Great Wave, you can see the foam on her ears. The rest of the material was used to make some limited edition shirts... and some little bits were rescued to make Yumi.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Two of Us- Part 2

Every weekend we get the Sydney Morning Herald, and inside its Good Weekend lift out is a regular article "two of us". As soon as I jump back into the car with the paper I immediately have to read it. When I read there could be an earthquake and I wouldn't care... I become totally oblivious to the rest of the world! My boy hates it...He says I'm rude... That I should be talking to him when he is driving. But I am speed reader, and it only happens once a week! Right?!

So Nicky has already posted her version of the "two of us", and the beauty of this article is that you get to hear from the other person... so here goes!

Tiff: My first impression of Nicky are two things, 1. She had a massive fringe (bangs) and 2. She was going to Europe, traveling at times by herself. I thought that was so cool! The traveling, not the fringe! I have since discovered that traveling is an integral part of Nicky's life! Other than that we were sitting outside a casino at a cafe with our respective partner's school mates and I don't remember much more than that I was feeling a bit grumpy because there are some beautiful coffee places in Sydney and Star City Casino is not one of them!

Well... the next time I heard about Nicky & her partner was when my boy (then fiance) was invited to their wedding and I wasn't! They didn't know that I existed, let alone that we were engaged! I can't remember if someone told them, or if they read the gift card or if they found out when they got the invitation to our wedding a few months later. I love that I didn't get invited to their wedding.. it is a bit of "ammo" when she once again reminds me that I have forgotten something! Heh, Heh!

The details are a bit vague, but over a couple of years we discovered that we both love 1. pattiserie, 2. handbags and trinkets, 3. baking, 4. travelling... and we both hated our jobs! My boy thinks he is a bit of a life coach, he will give anyone who will listen a pep talk. He is also all for getting paid for doing something you love, rather than just dreaming about it on the weekends. Before we knew it Nicky & I were quitting our jobs and starting a T-shirt label for girls called "Art Can Save the World" together.

It still seems a bit weird that we have these jobs, but we have been doing it for two years now! Nicky is very organised. I will sit around and dream up some self titled "brilliant idea" and Nicky will put it on the timeline. I will decide what steps we need to take and she will hound me to take the steps... except if it is baking then she will do everything and I will turn up and stir the chocolate! But if she is hungry then the world has gotta stop! There are these stages to her hunger, first it will start off with "I'm a bit peckish" to "It has just really hit me" which then rapidly progresses to the point she can't possibly concentrate until she eats. I think this process takes, oh, about 5 minutes!

For our label we have to do a bit of research into current events. Which involves us internet surfing about all types of issues from dropping world debt to building of soccer stadiums for kids in Africa. You can find me on any given day yelling at the screen "How can they do this"! My family are all a bit politically aggressive! I think it was a bit of a shock for poor old Nicky to find out that I am a bit of an armchair activist! But she has come along to protests about children refugees in detention with me, now buys enviro friendly toilet paper and switches her T.V off at the power point!

We are still struggling to be good business women and we have lots of projects coming up... which you can be assured, will be timetabled! You can also be assured that we will be either thinking about eating, eating or very full! T

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Two of Us - Part 1

My food passion had early beginnings...

Nicky: I actually can't remember the first time I met Tiff. It was at a kinda reunion dinner in the late 1990's with my husband's old high school friends. Both our hubbies were friends in high school and they had only recently caught up with one another again. So I remember the occasion and the place, but don't remember Tiff being there. It's really funny, cos I'm normally very good at remembering these things and people I meet!

I know Tiff will mention this & of course, I've never forgotten it! Tiff wasn't invited to our wedding in 2000...only Stan was...cos I didn't even know she existed (as explained above), let alone that she was engaged to Stan! I only found out when opening our wedding presents and seeing a card signed by both Stan & Tiff. Oops!! Benny & I later received confirmation of their engagement & subsequently felt really bad when we were invited to their wedding 6 months after ours! We laugh about it as it's so ironic that we're such close friends now.

So then, my 1st real impression of Tiff was on her wedding day, resplendent in a hot pink fuschia number & matching these-are-killing-my-feet heels, with flowing tresses & a flower in her hair. And who could forget their "bridal waltz" - a very original martial arts routine!

I'm not sure what happened next, but somehow our hubbies had been talking about reliving their high school sporting days & decided to take up squash again. With wives in tow, Saturday afternoons were spent at various university squash courts, giving ourselves the biggest workouts of our lives! These were usually followed by dinners together & over time, we realised we had a lot in common...a passion for all things related to food, fashion & travel!

Thanks to the ever-entrepreneurial Stan, he talked the talk, planting ideas in our heads that we didn't have to continue with the humdrum of our jobs (I was a manager in a project management training co. & Tiff was an orthoptist)...that we could actually do something we enjoyed! And after a lot more talking, planning and umm-ing & aah-ing, our t-shirt label Art Can Save the World was born in January 2004. We're enjoying the journey...learning so much about having our own business. Tiff & I have a great rapport & we're always laughing about something or talking nonsense! We also have our different strengths...Tiff is very creative, coming up with the designs & cool ideas; I'm the more organised one, trying to piece things together & work out when they need to get done! My nickname is the Timeline Nazi...

Oh, & it hasn't been all work & no play...we're currently both in awe discovering the world of crafty & foodie blogs out there & on the constant search for new foodie & shopping experiences. And we continue living out my "quality fat" philosophy...if you're going to eat fat, make sure it's Quality Fat eg. a fabulous artisan/home-made pastry vs. the mass-produced variety...otherwise you're wasting fat space! N

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Goodbye & Hello

I love Summer... and it is sad to say goodbye, with this being the 1st day of March. It is not like it is going to be instantly cold, Sydney doesn't seem to have the change of seasons other places have. It just seems to creep up on us. Slowly it will become too cold to go swimming, the days get shorter and all the stone fruit disappears from the market. But I love the beach and I am sure there are a few more hot days left (she types hopefully).

This is my foot... Sorry to scar you with it, but it tells something of my summer. The thong (no not a scrap of underwear, a flip-flop or slipper) tan from hours spent walking in the sun. And what is left of the nail polish I slicked on as I ran off to a wedding in December....

Hello Autumn! Here are a few of the new season juicy pears that have appeared overnight at the market. A promise of yummy buttery and crumbly desserts to come!.. and the hibernation or whatever they do, of mosquitoes and flies, I am not gonna miss those guys! T

P.S Horlicks tried very hard to sabotage these photos! It will be his first Autumn... He will get plenty of pears!