Sunday, 20 December 2009

La France & Italia with Love & Stress


So...I have not written for a while, but I reckon I have a grand excuse - I have just been on the longest holiday I've ever had...6 weeks...lame to many, but Woo Hoo to me!

2 weeks in a spectacular, just-like-home apartment in Paris with our fabulous kids and then 4 weeks driving around France and Nthn Italy. Here's a little movie my son made for me of our joyous family time in Paris...Sadly, because it contains music from "Amelie" it has been blocked. : (

I updated friends and family on Facebook and thought I would pop those compact, off-the-cuff-traveloguey, crap grammar (I was on HOLIDAY!) bites on here...so here they are starting at the end of our 2 weeks in Paris.

Sick of being sick in Paris, (have the FLU!) can't wait to pick up shiny new car tomorrow and head off for 4 weeks with no itinerary with Mr Ian, but will MISS the chillies and our incredible Parisian dream home away from home ♥

Day 4 on the road...Loving the car...GPS is s NIGHTMARE...signs and maps the only way to go...Have wasted hours and hours following fucked directions from an electronic MORON. Anywho, so far -Lille/Fromelles/The Somme/Abberville/Amiens/Hornfluer/Trouville/Deauville/Bayeux & Rennes.

Found where Great Grandfather Patrick Rahilly died & his name on memorial :( Met amazing artist Lietitia and shared a fabulous evening with her in stunning old bar in Amiens Saw the biggest gothic cathedral in the WORLD & felt like an ant Saw John the baptist's petrified head Stayed in a nut-OTT-decorated Chateaux Adoring Autumn splendour in France Eating FAR too much butter, cheese, croissants and baguettes!

Craving Vietnamese food and crunchy salads...my insides have butter overload!

Medieval and Gothic Chateauxs, Villages and Churches everywhere we go...Spectacular Autumn splendour across the countryside that we drive through...this trip is AMAZING ♥

Do NOT want to return to the stinkin' hideous WRONG time of the year/this planet is rooted HEAT in Melbourne...after enjoying such a splendid and glorious Autumn in the Nthn hemisphere.

Blew the budget on expensive mega restaurant in Avignon...and got the snippy, quintessential, arrogant, bastard waiter to boot...SO wanted to slap his mincing, judgemental face!

Italia...here we come! Piedmonte 1st - the Slow Food region of the WORLD...and Autumn is peak food season...Oh Madonna...and my pants are already tight!

1st day in Italia makes me sad that I have never been before...drove Nth from the coast as soon as we crossed the border into spectacular Autumn coloured and STEEP rocky snow capped mountains with rivers of aqua coloured water (no wonder that's what they call it!) and after up and up hairpin-bend madness we were IN the deep fluffy aquamarine snow...A completely alien landscape, yet glorious.

We are staying in Cuneo in Piedmonte. Our hotel is proof that Italians really DO do it bigger and better ha ha 95 euros for beautiful, recently re-furbished room with mega King size bed, stunning black-marble bathroom, 50 inch flat- screen TV, free Wi fi and breakfast of organic, local produce.

It's ONLY the 1st day in Italy...but it's been PERFETTO so far...and now off to EAT!

France V Italy (warning, rash generalisations follow) France = quiet talkers, beautiful countryside, rich, complicated food & courteous drivers Italy = hilarious animated LOUD talkers(that's where I get it!) spectacular countryside, fast and furious fuck-the-rules drivers and the food - Oh Madonna...SOOOO full-on, spectacular and flavoursome and delicious and and and ...

Turin/Torino what a spectacular citta and hardly any tourists...SO glad we came...ringed with snow capped mountains, piazzas and churches and towers and old old old everywhere and modern art scattered surprisingly around every corner.

Hello?! Somebody stop me...my intestinal tract is in overload...how do we NOT eat in Italy? My real life: lunch = sandwich and dinner is rarely followed by dessert, but HERE to hell with that! Sadly, it doesn't appear that the 3-4 hours waddling a day is making any difference. Thanks La Stupenda Contessa

Verona - che una bella citta! Now in Venezia having our tiny minds blown...oh and the eating continues...I don't have a muffin top it's more like a giant souffle top! ♥

Oh and...can someone please organise one of those hydrolic lifters they use to get obese people out of their apartments, to be at the airport when we get back? Thanks

The Venice we are experiencing is EXACTLY like the one in "Don't Look Now!" Moody, misty, hauntingly beautiful with echoes and shadows around every corner and hardly any people...I am keeping my eyes out for tiny people in red capes. ♥

Getting lost in Venice - it appears that is part of the mystery of Venice...Nth/Sth/East & West all just disappear.

I'll tell ya something for nothing...Italians LOVE a tile!

Ciao Lucca and Bagni di Lucca e la Famiglia...here I come!

A perfect day in the town of my father's family, Bagni di Lucca...blue skies, Autumn glory, mountains and flowing river and I met the hilarious and very friendly cousins!


So my crime against Art & Culture is this..only a day in Florence, CLEARLY there is nowhere near enough time to appreciate the gazzillion galleries and churches and piazzas and palazzos and and and....SO I am watching Italian Big Brother...Oh Dio Mio...THE BEST!!! Huge hair, hysterics, hugging, hand-action talking with tears, tantrums & total over-the-topness from BOTH sexes! It's brilliant entertainment.

Here's the thing: "the end is drawing near" and just quietly I am just a wee bit OVER the monuments, art, sculptures, architecture, churches, palaces, bell towers, piazzas and the reasons why they are there and who designed, created or commissioned them. Is that wrong?

I am still amazed at the insane amount of ancient hill-top walled villages and loving the spectacular Autumn countryside and the FOOD and WINE.

SORRY?...CAN'T HEAR YOU, I'M IN ROME! A lot of ancient broken bits everywhere...gloriously sparkling sunny day. Got to love a city where the police fang around in Allfa Romeos! Booked a table for dinner and didn't have to spell my surname. Loving toughing it out nonchalantly stepping on to the road Wogarina style in front of 4000 cars, motorbikes and buses!

*%#!*%#!! !- the sound of my brain snapping at the whole Vatican/Sistine/hall of maps/museum experience - absolute over-the-top massiveness in every way. thanks Rome...we really liked you...we have eaten the best food in fab little places that we have stumbled upon...and NOT expensive at all...this arvo had farewell drinks in a brilliant little bar near the Campo di fiori...been amazing ♥


Firenze, San Giminiano, Sienna, Roma, Bangers then Melbourne and Taswegia! It all just FLEW by and is now a blur or mixed memories and thousands of photos!

There's NO place like HOME There's NO place like HOME!!! Hello Melbourne and GEE THANKS for nothing ROME...after we were SOOOOO happy with you, you ruined everything - flight cancellation NO assistance 48 hrs of torture to get home and we have NO bags WHERE are our bags???!!!

The Age "Melbourne" Magazine - all about why people love Melbourne, The 25th anniversary edition of Good Weekend, The Sunday Age "M" Melbourne inside out supplement...all read cover to cover...all making me feel so "HOME" and happy and totally, 100% in love with this city...and on the political front...Thank-you Liberal party for some of the FUNNIEST, most entertaining boys-behaving-badly EVER!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Shepherd's Pie My Style



PIE BASE
About 4-500gs of left-over roast lamb finely chopped
1lge onion finely chopped
1 stick of celery chopped
half a chunky carrot finely chopped
6 sml-med sized mushrooms chopped
big handful of baby spinach leaves
1 red chilli finely chopped
1tbs Italian herb mix
3 lge cloves of garlic chopped
2 tbs tom paste in half a cup of water
half a cup of red wine
1 tbs w'shire sauce
salt and black pepper

Pop the onions, chilli & garlic in a largish fry-pan with a splosh of olive oil & fry until onions are clear then add lamb, mushrooms, celery and carrot and italian herbs. Cook until the lamb starts to colour up with golden crispiness. Then add the w'shire sauce, red wine, tomato paste and salt & pepper and let simmer for while...
Once most of the liquid has evaporated tip the lot into a lovely dish suitable for sticking in the oven...make sure you leave room for the topping!

TOPPING
2 med sized potatoes
half a large sweet potato
20gs butter
splosh of low fat milk

Boil up the potatoes and sweet potato until a knife goes in nice and easy, then mash them up with the butter and milk and some salt & pepper. Plop on top of your waiting pie mixture and gently spread over the top. Use the tynes of a fork to make a lovely pattern all over the top.

Pop the dish into a moderate oven 180C or 350F and cook until the top is golden and you can see the juices bubbling up the sides.

YUMMO!


Saturday, 12 September 2009

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Happy

A couple of happy sun-basking skinks and some forget-me-nots
Oh now THAT makes me smile

Is It Hereditary?

I was going through some old photos and I came across this one I took of my Nonna and Nonno's grave in the M.G.C. - the good old "dead centre of Melbourne" a few years ago.
I do LOVE the way wogs do graves - a photo or two, a nice bit of marble and a spot for the flowers.

Anywho, the thing that struck me when I looked at the photo, was the choice of roses on one side and Mary on the other. I have no idea who selected these...probably Nonna herself as the grave was originally Nonno's - it took Nonna 40 years to join him!
I must have noticed these things before, but had forgotten all about them.
It struck a chord because I have a thing for roses and Mary...and I've never really worked out why.

I collect old tins with roses and old plastic roses and old pictures and prints of roses, old crockery with roses, actually anything ye-olde with roses and it's mine...new stuff does nothing for me.
The Mary thing is also about old...I collect old prints and images of her and I have MANY...WHY? I do not know. I MUST admit she is someone I wouldn't mind sharing a wine or 20 with to get the low-down on what really went down, back in the day. I reckon she'd crack up over the whole "virgin birth" bit and poor old Joseph just getting tagged as the guy who lead the donkey!
I don't do religion (in my book too many wrongs are carried out in its name) yet interestingly, I DO find myself Hail Mary-ing my heart out when the plane I'm on is about to take off or land!
I cannot recall seeing things with roses in Nonna's home or more than a couple of your standard Mary images there either...but when I saw them on the gravestone...I realised there had to be something going on!



Saturday, 5 September 2009

Spring-a-Ding-Ding

Here in Paradise, yes, PARADISE - just outside Sheffield Nth West Tasmania,
Spring has well and truly sprung.
Our family of swallows has returned and are busily preparing a new spit & mud & stick abode for their new arrivals. The flying lessons are my FAVOURITE part of following this close-knit clan's daily life. The little ones crouch on the edge of the nest and Mumma and Dad show them just how it's done...whizzing around and around in a small area in front of the nest. One of the babies always tries to bully the others in to going first and one is always nervous-nellie-last-to-fly...too funny, teetering on the edge almost going and then piking over and over and over again. I don't know if birds can smile but I'm SURE I have seen it, actually more like grinning as soon as they have finished their 1st venture in to the world of flight...they take off again and again and again..."look at meeeeeee! Weeeeeeee!"
Being a lover of Autumn and it's fecundant glory and promise of Winter with its chilly, rugged, slatey greys and sparkling blue days...it always astounds me how Spring surprises me. New life and daffodils, freesias, jonquils and grape hyacinths everywhere. the chooks happy and fluffy-bummed and busy busy busy producing orange yolked eggs.



Friday, 4 September 2009

It's All About Red

Since I was little, I have always been attracted to red.
Perhaps it was Granny and Mum's red lippy that triggered it.
If Granny ever saw me without my red lippy on she would ask what was wrong, because something surely HAD to be if you hadn't bothered to put your lippy on!
Red resonates for me and makes me feel warm, happy, excited, nostalgic and alive.
I have many, many, many things of or featuring red - clothes, shoes, lipsticks-a-plenty, scarves, bags, jewellery, artworks, kitchenalia, ornaments, knick-n-knacks-n-bric-n-bracs (as Darling, Sweetie Edina would say), rugs, furnishings and crockery.
Some of my red stuff...





Sunday, 7 June 2009

Linen-yThings


So, today I played with some of the things I collect. To me it's what makes collecting stuff fun...you get to regress, play and organise.
I'm not a very organised, methodical or logical collector. I am quite spasmodic about it. When the bug hits me I go on the hunt and other times I can come across things I collect and just let them go.
I do love my 100% cotton, stripey, rainbow or plain colour sheets from the 60's and early 70's - harder and harder to find and therefore more of a thrill when I do come across them! Old fashioned quilts & eiderdowns are also cherishable items.
Then there is the 100% wool check blanket fascination also from somewhere around the 70's...not quite sure why, but they are truly wonderful and so much warmer than all those hideous plastic, static-electricity-ridden nightmares around now.
One of my most recent collections is a Bambi/fawn theme...I just came across one one day and then I just found myself fancying them a little more each time I stumbled across another in an op, second-hand or junk shop. Now they are a happy little family on the desk.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Late Night Musing

Watching Lawrence Leung programming Rage - he's ever so slightly annoying, BUT it's causing some bizzare flashbacks!
Pretty in Pink (hello Ducky) and Breakfast Club and then jumped to Recovery and the amazing "where-did-HE-come from" sizzling presence that is Dylan Lewis and my almost religious addiction to watching even though it was my kids who shoulda been and then that led my sozzled brainage (somehow) to Ye-olde-Prince of Wales (POW St Kilda)...I DON'T KNOW...just some booze induced sad old reminiscing I guess...I'm talking pre MINK...the fabulous BOYS bar...pool room out the back...Sailors!..Buzz Club...Oh St Kilda...changes through the ages with memories for ALL!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Zucchini Madness













I, like many others I suspect, have had a hugely successful Zucchini growing season and am trying to come up with fabulous foodie options. There's only so many times I can eat 'em thinly sliced and grilled on the barbie with a squeeze of lemon or lime or chunky chopped and roasted up with garlic olive oil and some herbage.

So...I came up with this SIMPLE but YUMMO loafy type thing.

Here:
preheat oven to 350F or about 180C

3 medium size or 4 small zucchinis - grated & squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 bunch of spring onions - greens and ends off, chop up and use the rest
5 med free range eggs
3/4 cup wholemeal SR flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan
120mls extra virgin olive oil...YES 120!
handful Italian parsley - finely chopped
handful fresh oregano leaves - finely chopped
1 long green chilli - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
salt flakes - good pinch
black pepper - as much as you like

Get yourself a loaf tin or any sort of bakeware with the same capacity and spray it with some olive oil spray or just pour a little olive oil in and wipe it all over with a paper towel.
Mix together all the above ingredients thoroughly and then pour into the tin.
Place in the oven for about 40 minutes.
It's ready when it's all golden and firmish to the touch in the centre.
Slice up and serve with freshly ground black pepper and your favourite salad.

It's delicious cold the next day too!

Monday, 30 March 2009

The FANTABULOUS Ms Karen O

A little bit Siouxie Sioux & Chrissie Hynde with a spot of Gary Numan and Simple Minds thrown in - wearing a Jacket to DIE for!

My Kind of People...

People who do no harm. Honest people. People who care about this planet we all live in and ALL the people who live on it. People who understand that money is NOT the be all and end all. People who do not step over whom-ever they have to, to get where they're going. People who listen. People that give more than they take. Anyone who cares and all those who know how to put together an "outfit", dance and sing and enjoy a cocktail or 20.