Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A sense of occasion...

It's not even March and already the stores are winding up for St Patrick's Day. And Easter. And Passover. I saw these beauties in Ralph's today. Mmm mmm. See the creamy ones? They're not even stacked in the fridge. They're all on a table by the Guinness display.
I was hoping there'd be St Pat's Day M&Ms to show you, but no such luck. The Valentine's Day pink and white ones have been replaced with Easter ones, some of which are speckled and egg-shaped. You can always tell what you're supposed to be celebrating by the nature of the M&Ms in the supermarket - or at least by their packaging.

:: While we're thinking of green icing, or, more accurately, green blobs on synthetic cream icing, I want to share with you a recipe I heard recently for a summery dip for strawberries: equal parts of strawberry cream cheese and marshmallow cream. Yep. I had never heard of - or even imagined - either of those ingredients. The second, it was explained to me, is 'like liquified marshmallows'. Bear in mind that the strawberries in this part of the world are sensational - as big as ox hearts and SO delicious and flavoursome. And sweet. All they need is a bowl of REAL cream.

:: Okay - I have turned the heel on sock number one. Aren't you all excited? And that's the pattern for the cardie I'm aiming to knit next. From a Debbie Bliss book.

:: I have a pot of roo paws by the pool and they never cease to amaze me with their gorgeous colours and velvet stems. I had a banksia, but it died - I don't think banksias take kindly to being out of Australia. The kangaroo paws, on the other hand, just love it.

:: The forecast for Wednesday, when I arrive in Chicago, is now a maximum of 6 degrees Celsius, with falling snow! The minimum forecast is zero, and as I get in at 10pm, that's probably what I'll be dealing with. Brrrr! I shall be packing tomorrow and getting out all my old woollies!

Monday, 26 February 2007

Hooray for ...
Well, as the Oscars have just finished on the telly here, my mind turns to the most glamorous carpark I've ever seen (above), at The Grove shopping centre in Los Angeles - this is where you wait for the lifts. It was Christmas time, hence the fabulous arrangement of poinsettias. But the chandelier is always there! (Don't forget you can click on the pics to see bigger versions.)
Earlier that day, I'd been in Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, with Dace, checking out the ritzy shops and gawking at the cars that drove by - and the facelifts that staggered past.

:: I've had an extremely idle day - we walked the dogs, read more weekend papers (Helen Mirren's house is listed in the LA Times real estate section - you can lease it for a staggering $40,000 a month), and I successfully turned the heel on my stripy sock and am now roaring towards the toes.
Then the Oscar brou-ha-ha started at about 3.30pm and I am such a sucker for it all that I watched the lot, from the red carpet to credits.
The commentators noted that some of the women who had recently ditched their menfolk were looking particularly glamorous - very true for Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon, who had the best dress as far as I'm concerned.

:: The lovely Kate Winslet corrected the minuscule Ryan Seacrest when he referred to her friend Ricky Jarvis. "You mean Rickey Jer-
VAY ," she winced.

:: From Hollywood to a wilder and altogether less artificial part of the west coast ... here are a couple of pics that Simon took on Lily's glorious and very appropriately named college campus.

Above: Mack, Marnie and Lily on the path to the campus beach, about three minutes away from Lily's dorm building. The forest is dense and has an atmosphere all its own.Above: This is what those two signs on the tree say! Lily speaks very fondly of the campus cops. They are extremely diligent, and competent, and love their work.

:: Just thought you'd like this one - Lily and I on the moving footpath at the San Diego Zoo. The zoo covers the side of a deep canyon, and by the time you've walked down to the very bottom - where the pandas all live - you are very glad of the moving footpaths that take you back up to the top.

By the way ...

Just a quickie to tell you that if you click on the photos, you'll get a much bigger version to look at.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

White stuff

I'm getting in a snowy frame of mind for my trip to Chicago - I can't wait!

The pic above is of Crater Lake, in beautiful Oregon. Simon was there about three weeks ago with
Mack and Marnie, after they'd visited Lily at her college in Washington.

Mack (left) just loved the snow - he especially liked
stomping through it in his welly-boots and then stopping to admire his tracks.
:: Meanwhile, just up the road, it's Oscar party time! I met a woman yesterday whose daughter was in LA from New York to organise an Oscar party - she works for a big national hotel chain and she's doing Forrest Whittaker's - huger than huge.
This notice was in today's LA Times and I thought you'd find the information useful. It's reassuring to know they close the streets in LA for the Oscars just like they do in Perth for the Skyworks:

:: It was a beaut day today with sunshine and a cool breeze - perfect for lolling about the house, reading the papers and generally doing nothing much.

Reading the papers, a bit of knitting (second attempt at a sock, above), a few cups of tea. A nap (for Dave). A lovely chatty phone call from Dace and Konrad. Then dinner at a merrily crowded Bondi with Dave and Will, with Aussie music emanating from the new sound system. Wonderful!
Incidentally, if you take that link (in the line above) to the Bondi website, then go to 'Eat and Drink', then to 'Look', you'll see Will's food photographs - his first professional job!

:: I saw the word 'angsted' in the LA Times today:
'In a memo ... Schultz
angsted about "the commoditization of the Starbucks experience" ....'
What a ghastly thing! Why couldn't he simply have worried about it, or fretted over it?

:: There's a to-do here about some children's writer who has won a national prize for a kids' book with - hold on to your bibles - the word 'scrotum' in its opening pages. Something innocuous, like 'The rattlesnake bit the dog on its scrotum'. Well, lordy lordy, has that got the Moral Majority by the short and curlies!

:: Speaking of Dace and the Bible - this is the present my dear friend brought back for me from Las Vegas:

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Friday on my mind

San Diego: Friday, February 23, 2007

Will and his mates have just gone out for the usual Friday night party, Dave's working late at Bondi (dinner with people from LA), so here I am with time on my hands and - yay! - a brand-new blog. What larks!

This week, in between the boring stuff (trying to run the house, look after the dogs, feed us all and keep us hale and hearty), I'm knitting, sewing, quilting, reading, walking, watching telly and calling in at Bondi for the occasional meal.
I've also been out to a couple of quilt stores, had the car serviced, and spent the morning with some of the mothers from Will's school.

Knitting: I'm attempting my first pair of socks, in pretty German wool which is dyed so the socks come out stripy and patterned. You get a pair out of one ball. The first pattern I used - downloaded from the internet at the store where I bought the wool - was incomprehensible when it came time to 'turn the heel'. So I ditched that, unravelled that half-sock and am starting again with a pattern I found in a knitting magazine at Barnes & Noble, complete with diagrams. I'm working with bamboo needles that are not much bigger than cocktail sticks, pointed at each end. They make me feel like a very, very serious and competent knitter - until I get to 'turning the heel'. So we'll see how we go.
I quite fancy some knitted cushion covers, and a big comfy cardie ... but I'm so s-l-o-w ...

Sewing: I just made pillowslips for a pair of big European-style square pillows. The slips aren't easy to find, and the last pair I looked at, in Macy's, cost $80. Ridiculous. Made them in gorgeous stripy red Indian cotton, like a Kaffe Fasset fabric. The pair probably cost $12.

Quilting: I finally have enough fabric to start the quilt I promised Lily when she started college, up there in chilly, frosty Olympia, in Washington. Greens and white. Bought a new cutting mat and rotary cutter, so I'm all set.

Reading: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd; Things I Didn't Know - a Memoir by Robert Hughes; California's Spanish Place Names (what they mean and the history they reveal) by Barbara and Rudy Marinacci; and I've subscribed to The Oldie which is a superb British mag edited and founded by Richard Ingrams, of Private Eye fame).

TV: I've set our very amazing hi-tech digital telly to record the whole series of Grey's Anatomy, because so many people say such great things about it and I'm curious; then there's House, because I just cannot get over seeing Hugh Laurie play an American doctor; and, of course, A-MERRRR-ican Idol, which has just started again for the year - and I'm hooked already.

Though it's been chilly here in San Diego, we haven't had what anyone could call a serious winter. But in the local supermarket there is cheerful evidence of spring's imminent arrival - pots of hyacinths, daffodils, primroses and (pictured at the top of the page) even this glorious snake's-head fritillary, $4.95, which I had to bring home, and which Will photographed so beautifully last night. This is the first living one I've ever seen. It's a flower I've known of and loved from afar since discovering Charles Rennie Mackintosh's wonderful watercolour of it.

I'm off to Chicago next week for a few days - excited not just about being in that fab city, but also at the thought of seeing snow for the first time since 1974, when I was in Paris and sick with longing for Oz.

This'll do for my first post!