What happens when five internationally-recognised street artists, an Ethiopian cafe owner, a truckload of helpers and a volunteer with an extraordinary vision get together? Read this article I wrote for the City of Maribyrnong to find out.
Want to write but don’t know where to start? Are you lost in a mess of notes and half-started pieces? Or are you holding onto your manuscript because it just might not be good enough?
Join the other procrastinators and get on the road to redemption. Part bookish boot camp, part self-help group, this 12-step program I'm running at Writers Victoria will help you get over the most common organisational and personal hurdles to writing.
It’s hard going working out what to eat most days. The weather, what’s seasonal, and what’s at hand in the fridge and pantry all play their part.
Today, it’s cold outside – rain threatens. It's the last day of autumn and we're talking about lighting the fireplace for the first time this year. We have the whole afternoon ahead of us at home, a rare treat. This calls for a cook up. But we are low on supplies – with only a few hardy veges, and the usual staples of pasta, rice and some legumes in the pantry. I have been known to rustle something up with much less, but today I'm not feeling terribly inspired. I hanker for comfort food, but what exactly?
I head down to the local food market with my daughter, searching for inspiration. We walk around the Asian grocery, the butcher, the fish monger, the chicken shop. At the latter, I see a handmade sign, ‘’Broiling chicken – make you feel healthy. $4.40 a kilo.” I can’t help but smile. With an advert like that, how can we resist?
We take our chook home, wash her, and in the stockpot she goes; along with around four litres of water, the head of a celery, a few carrots, a couple of onions and herbs from our garden. When the water comes to the boil, I divest it of the scum that rises to the surface. An hour or so later I strain the stock into two pots. I add a mixed legume mix to one of the pots; around half an hour later, I add chopped carrots and celery, some tinned tomatoes. And around a half hour after that, zucchini, a handful of pasta and rice, some herbs. I come back to it regularly, checking, stirring, sniffing. A little extra water here, some seasonings there; but otherwise, it’s taking care of itself.
A few hours later, I am pleased with the results: two decent-sized pots of soup, one of which I dispatch off to my in-laws; eight tubs of stock to see me through the next few weeks of improvised meals; and a few tubs of soup for freezing.
The rain hits our tin roof outside, but inside the broiler has saved the day. I’m now ready for winter. Bring it on.
Pink-eared Ducks, Stilts and Raptors: Amateur birdwatchers Ros and Thomas Nataprawira wax lyrical about the thriving feathered bird life in Melbourne's inner-western suburb of Footscray. Check out their story in this post I wrote for the City of Maribyrnong News.
This time, he is one of the finalists for the Head On Landscape Prize 2015. To find out more about the Head On exhibition being held in Sydney until 31 May, visit Head On Photo Festival at #headon15.
To see more of the clever photographer's work check out his Instagram acount: @viewfrommygarden or visit his website.
Now enough gushing -- here's the image that got shortlisted...
It's a long way from Burma to Braybrook. Recently, I had the honour of meeting Jacob Thang, an enterprising refugee from the Chin State who has set up his own business in a bid to help himself and others from his community find work. Read about it in this post that I wrote for the City of Maribyrnong.
For weeks. tomatoes from our garden had been sitting in a large glass salad bowl, ripe and fulsome. As I used each one of them up, and my husband George stopped bringing more in, I put them in progressively smaller bowls. Finally, there weren't enough to fill a bowl - there were only three little (now ever-so-slightly mottled) tomatoes left. I didn't want to use them, for to eat them was to finally acknowledge that summer was behind us. Yes, the calendar said that summer finished a full month ago, but those tomatoes spoke louder than any silly old wall chart.
I was in denial, despite watching the plants in the garden yellow and shrivel up, with only the most stubborn tomatoes hanging onto the vine. George started talking about clearing the summer vege beds, making way for the autumn and winter produce. Then, last week, the weather got about ten degrees cooler in one foul hit. Summer was definitely over. But still those tomatoes sat, waiting on the bench while I dealt with my post-summer existential crisis.
A few days ago, I got a nice email from one Leonie Andrews. Leonie is the author of the blog Voted with our forks - where she celebrates gardening, foraging and cooking - but most of all, she honours the seasons. She told me she was reading my book Afternoons in Ithaka, and that she had tried the fig-sap ricotta recipe that I'd included within it, and she was inspired to blog about it. And thank goodness for small mercies, the recipe worked. But even more pleasing was that she went on to make my beloved 'tomato sandwich', using her own homegrown tomatoes, oregano and homemade bread and cheese. When I saw the photo of her sandwich, something shifted in me. It made me realise anew that this is what the seasons are all about. Each one has its distinctive features and joys. As if to seal the deal, later that evening, our son carted in two huge pumpkins to add to the collection already piled onto our butcher's bench. The universe had spoken - it was time to open my heart to Autumn and say goodbye to Summer.
I washed those three little soft summer tomatoes, cut them in half, and with a little flourish, added them to the fry pan to flavour the lamb skewers that I was making that night. Just like that. They turned in a delicious, sweet sauce that begged to be mopped up with crusty bread.
I felt very evolved after that -- perhaps there's a lesson here about enjoying each moment, and about embracing the transitory nature of our lives and the world that we live in.
Now, what to cook with those pumpkins?
Photos by George Mifsud. To see more photos from our garden, see George's Instagram account at @viewfrommygarden
I love stories. And more and more, my work involves hearing them, recording them and sharing them. Does my work help pay the mortgage? It's getting there. No one said it's easy running your own business.
The perks? Being home when my kids come back from school. Hearing rosellas from our garden when I tap away at my keyboard. Doing some really interesting projects that I find meaningful. And not having to ask anyone to have time off if I need to take a family member to the doctor.
The downside? Cash-flow. Not being able to say hi to people at the water cooler.
I love that I have to live off my wits to make a living. Not knowing what's around the corner excites me (in a nervous kind of way!).
I was reminded recently that it takes guts to run a business. And charisma. Money? 'Phhah, you don't need that', said my source. 'I started with nothing...'
The advice was dispensed in Footscray. While standing on a showroom floor. By someone you will quite possibly recognise. Read on.
I remember crusty just baked bread, rubbed with juicy tomato flesh, swimming in a puddle of thick green olive oil….
So you want to write about your life, or that of a loved one, but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe you have a few ideas, a bunch of notes, or perhaps even a few chapters? If you want to kick start your memoir, join me for a day workshop in Box Hill (15 March) or a weekend workshop in Aireys Inlet (18-19 April). Of course, there will be food involved. Check out my workshop page for more details.