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August 2008
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September 2008

Boys will be boys

This morning I made the most of the beautiful Spring light and got the boys into some Townmouse clothing for another website photo.  All was going well.


Stop it, you're choking me.


An elbow to the face will fix you.


Oops, that was a bit harder than intended.

Now we're off for a scooter ride to enjoy more of this lovely weather and to forget past grievances.

Highly recommended

I'm no food stylist, unlike these two amazingly talented women at Canelle et Vanille and Tartelette.  (Go and take a peek, you'll be blown away by their beautiful creations and wonderful photography.)  And I'm no chef either.  Which is why I love the recipe for this brilliant orange cake so much.

Orange cake1 

The recipe came from a 1995 Australian Gourment Traveller.  An article featured the magazine's recipe pick of all the great desserts.  The best Tiramisu recipe, the best Lemon Tart recipe, the best Muddy Mud Cake recipe, and the best Orange Tea Cake recipe.

I guarantee you will love this recipe, and it's very easy.  I think it's the beating of the egg whites that makes it so yummy.

Orange cake

185 g butter (or 1lb, 6.5oz)
185 g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 3 oranges
3 large eggs, separated
185 g self raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup orange juice
julienned rind of 1 orange to decorate

Beat butter, sugar and orange rind until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks.  Fold in flour in 2 batches, alternating with orange juice.  Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form and fold gently into the mixture.

Spoon into a buttered and base lined  9 x 22cm (3 1/2" x 8 1/2") loaf pan and bake at 180C (356F) for 45 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  Stand in tin for 5 mintues before turning out on a wire rack to cool.

For icing, stir melted butter and enough orange juice into icing sugar to give a spreading consistency.  Spread cooled cake with icing and scatter with julienned orange rind.

(Folding in the egg whites separately gives a crisp crust and makes the cake light.)

The grown up version

I guess you could say this is the grown up version of the Townmouse beach top.

Beach top 

This will also be a very handy top to wear over jeans.  For my first attempt I made it in some light weight, inexpensive cotton.

Beach top detail 

As is often the case,  the sample garment in simple fabric is often my favourite.  Sewing curved seams with gathering is a little tedious (well at least compared to children's wear which I always design to have flat seams).  But I've already transferred this pattern to cardboard, as I have a feeling I will make it again.


Will grew up on a family farm about two hours from Melbourne - a beautiful, magical place.


Will's mother is an extremely talented designer and gardener.  She rescued the 100 year old garden in the mid '70s from the overgrown and rundown state the previous, elderly owner had left it in.

Farm_wisteria walk 

The farm was sold two years ago.  Keeping a large garden in a near perfect state was not something Will's parents wanted to continue with into their seventies.


I was lucky enough to enjoy it for the 12 years Will and I were together before it was sold. 


I have missed it, but it's only since I've taken up botanical drawing that I really yearn for it.


How I would love to sit with a sketch book, drawing flowers in situ, in any corner of that garden.  At this time of year the riverbanks and the wildgarden beyond the walled garden are a sea of yellow as the daffodils come into bloom.  Our corgi in the photo above is sniffing along a huge bed of hellebores.


Now I have to track them down in the florist if I want to sketch them.  I'm really kicking myself that I didn't take up this enjoyable pursuit 5 years ago, so I could have spent lazy weekend days drawing the many varieties of beautiful and unusual plants to be found there.


I had my last drawing class for the term on Tuesday.  We have a few week's break and then I will start another class with a new teacher.  I'm hoping to put in a lot of practice before then with my watercolours - I definitely need it.

Gorgeous ideas

I picked up this book at my local quilt shop on Saturday.  


It has so many lovely images in it. 


I think it's the choice of vintage looking fabrics that makes every item so appealing.


There is a softie pattern for the rabbit in the book.


Red shoes get me every time.


I love the red cross detail on this little bag.


A numbered version of this would make a cute advent calendar.


Another Christmas sewing project.


I got my copy here.

The before shot

To top off what was a very busy week I had a painter in the house making a start on our front sitting room.  Yay, after only 4 and a bit years in this house the decoration of this room is finally underway.

Sitting room before

The Loro Piana fabric is with the curtain maker and will be ready in a month.  We were going to wallpaper the walls in a lovely oyster coloured silk to warm the room up, but I couldn't quite swallow the $10,000 price tag.  No, that wasn't a typo. 

Paint colours Instead, the painter is applying two shades of Porters Paint and using an additive called scrumble to achieve a textured or silk-like effect.  We have one wall finished and so far it is coming along nicely.

Now that our sitting room project is in train I have been revisiting my file of magazine clippings. 

Sitting room B 

It's amazing how many sitting rooms with bay windows and fireplaces there are in English homes that are almost identicial to ours.   Our sofa will sit in the bay window, much like the image above.

Sitting room C 

I like these French style upright chairs and neutral tones in the above room.

Sitting room E 

I think trimming curtains like this is a clever way to bring expensive fabric into a space when on a budget. 

Sitting room D 

Our fireplace has no chimney breast, as in the image above.  It makes it difficult to put built in shelves or bookcases on either side of the fireplace.  I'm still not sure what we'll do about that.

Sitting room A

Bribe them with chocolate

It always works.  I needed a few shots of these linen shorts for the website.  So with the enticement of a chocolate treat, Tom obliged.

Thoughtful tom 

This corner of the dining room has great natural light.  The French oak shutters have taken up residence in our main living space to hide unsightly stereo speakers.  They make a nice backdrop for these French inspired short longs, or long shorts.

Love this

I love this map wallpaper!  Isn't it great.

Map wallpaper 

There's a wonderful children's wear shop in Melbourne's South Yarra called Noah's Aeroplane.  The lovely Annabelle, who owns the store, is a former children's nanny (she looked after my cousin's boys many years ago) so she's known to sit with your children at the toy table while you browse her great selection of labels.

The above photo is of her former office space at the back of the store.  She is converting it into further shop space that will stock quality pre-loved clothing.  The concept is not quite up and running yet, which is why you can see boxes in the foreground.  But the wallpaper is a great start, don't you think?  It immediately drew my eye into this other room.

So local readers, if you have good quality children's clothing you'd like to recycle, drop in to see Annabelle at 42 Toorak Rd.  You'll be tempted to shop while you're there - I always am.