Monster in the Kitchen

This post is probably going to be boring for anybody who isn’t me, but I am utterly thrilled – I’m making sourdough starter. It’s just flour and water, carefully tended, but it will eventually (hopefully) give me springy, chewy, tasty bread. It sounds completely gross, but I’m basically colonizing wild yeasts from the flour and the air and growing them into this living culture, kind of like yoghurt. I got the recipe from Breadtopia and will be attempting my very first loaf of bread later this week. Someone I know took about five attempts before getting an edible result, but I’m kind of hoping I’ll be a sourdough prodigy and magically get it right first time… I’m so looking forward to this bread! Nathan and his work colleagues have been making fun of the whole thing though – “the grossest thing I’ve ever heard” according to one of them. He’ll be eating his words (ha) when Nathan brings fresh sourdough to the office though. Apparently I’m growing monsters in the kitchen, and I guess I kind of am. The starter ‘breathes’ out little carbon dioxide bubbles and grows a bit every time I feed it. Some people online kept their starter going for more than five years, some people even took it on holiday with them so it didn’t get neglected. So, we have named our ‘monster’ – Candy, short for Candida, which is also the name of a type of yeast.

Sourdough starter

Look at all those bubbles! Apparently, I can also use this stuff to make hot cross buns, crumpets and pizza dough. But what I am most excited about is: making a loaf of bread from scratch, chopping up homegrown garlic and parsley, maybe even making my own butter from cream. Then putting together my own garlic bread that is completely ‘me made’. Nathan doesn’t really get it, but this kind of thing gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment.

At this stage, I’m aiming for a loaf of bread by Friday afternoon. I have to figure out exactly when to start, because it needs 12-18 hours to rise (or prove?) before I can even start baking. Wish me luck – hoping I’ll have triumphant photos to share!

Edit: We have a name change. Candy is now known as The Yeastie Boys. And I don’t know if I’ll have bread on Friday after all – this dough doesn’t seem to be rising at all!

Wedding Weekend

We went to a wedding on the weekend. A big one. Every gorgeous pink and white flower in town. All the hand appliqued lace onto custom fitted tulle. So many bridesmaids. Flower girl dresses so voluminous they could barely fit through the door. The reception took up an entire ballroom at an upscale resort hotel. And then there were more details: gold charger plates and hot pink napkins! cheese platters with candied baby figs! not one wedding cake, but three! foil printed invitation suite with pretty envelope liners! tiny bottles of fancy tequila! five and a half hours of professional photography! champagne topped up as soon as I took a single sip! somebody to place my napkin on my lap and roll it up neatly every time I left the table!

It was all so lovely and dramatic and huge and detailed that I couldn’t help but feel like the smallest, dowdiest, mousiest, most ‘not a big deal’ bride ever. Part of me wants to be The Biggest F*cking Deal for just one day, but then I picture myself having a total meltdown like Carrie Bradshaw in the bridal shop in season four, screaming “get it off, get it off!” while ripping at the giant meringue of tafetta and tulle around her. I still don’t know what we’re going to do, and at this point we’re about ten and a half months out. We need to get our skates on.

But back to the weekend – I don’t know how to describe it properly, but I’d never seen a dress before with lace placed onto tulle in such a way that it was seamless all over, and the motifs created perfectly symmetrical patterns over the bride’s shoulders and arms. It was amazing, even Nathan couldn’t stop talking about this dress. One of the groom’s family members from New Zealand performed the haka for the couple, which was super exciting. We danced and danced, we did the Elaine and got many strange looks, and Nathan did his famous mobile phone advertisement interpretative dance (it’s all about the facial expressions, I’ll film it and share some time!). The music was good, the food was really good (no chicken, yes!), everything was perfectly lovely. I would be lying though if I wasn’t looking around at such a grand affair wondering what people would think of my more modest plans in comparison.

There will still be champagne. Everybody will be well fed, there will be good music. I guess we will get bonus points for having ultra cute canines in the bridal party. At the end of the day, the core of it will be exactly the same – a promise and a party. I will bet that I was noticing every single detail on the weekend more than anybody else, looking at it all through ‘bride glasses’, and that everybody else only really cared about the “I do”s and whether they were having a good time afterwards.

Moral of the story: whatever we plan will be great, because at the end of that day, we’ll be married. And that is the goal, that’s the point of it all.

Also, some photos:

curls

I curled my hair while I was still in pajamas and Nathan took a photo – the juxtaposition of this with the photo in my last post is too funny. He calls it ‘Little Bo Peep’, I call it ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’. Also, it took literally about ten minutes for all those curls to fall out. The perils of straight hair!

pretty

See? It was really pretty. The centerpiece was crowned with a huge bunch of ranunculus (ranunculi?), so top points from me. Plus they positioned the cheese platter right in front of my place card, so I’m pretty much indebted to the bride and groom for life.

every time

He does this…
Every.
Single.
Time.
anybody tries to take a photo of him.

Lucky he’s cute.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

bathroom selfie

When you get your hair done and it looks and feels utterly fabulous, and the sun is shining for a brief moment so you decide to walk the fifteen minutes back into town. Then you get blasted with wind and rain the whole way, but you’ve already resolved to walk and if you tried to catch a bus or a taxi, you’d still have to wait in the rain regardless so you may as well walk. Then you have to walk around with rained-off makeup and crazy hair, looking like a scruffy madwoman because you didn’t bring a hair brush. Then you have to go to three different chemists to find the specific vitamins you need. Then it’s the longest wait ever for a bus, and a woman practically sits on top of you while you are waiting, elbowing you and dropping donut crumbs all over your shoes before you can get away. Then those pesky magpies haunt you all the way from the bus stop to your front door. Then you find a slip waiting on your doormat letting you know that you missed the mailman and there is a giant package waiting for you at the post office, which you will have to carry back if it ever stops raining.

But on the bright side, your hair will look good again once it dries. Two little dogs were very glad to see you. And you found an amazing pugs-in-bow-ties print dress, and it was even on sale.

Spring

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The ranunculus are blooming! It was a mixed pack, so it’s always fun to guess which colour each individual bud is going to be. The peachy/raspberry ones are my favourite. We’ve also got snowdrops all over the place, yet I never really planted them there. There was a lone snowdrop in our lawn a couple of years ago and I moved it to the garden bed. It grew into a clump then got forgotten about when we turned all the soil over. The tiny bulbs spread everywhere and now they are growing like mad. Not sure if I approve.

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I pruned the roses so hard that I was scared they were going to falter, but they loved it. Every bush is growing back so vigorously with really lush leaves, and no hint of black spot. Once we rip out the horrible old yellow daisy bush this weekend, there will be room for a new rose – Grandma got us a Cécile Brünner (an old fashioned pale pink rose) for our birthday. Apparently it has a gorgeous scent.

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My long suffering wisteria is covered in buds, more than any other year. It’s a surprise because I haven’t given it any special attention. Now I just hope I will be at home when they decide to put on a show. It looks like there is going to be a cascade of purple flowers right outside our front window – I would really like to be home for that.

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I have seed trays going: red cabbage and romanesco broccoli (it’s an heirloom type that is lime green and grows in spirals). Growing garlic will, I’m sure, be super rewarding when we get to harvest it. But it takes forever – literally about eight months. I’m growing these guys in different beds so I have something a bit quicker to look forward to – I think they take about 10 weeks. I don’t think there is anything we will be able to do with a glut of broccoli other than eat it, but with the cabbage, I’m planning on making some sauerkraut and maybe kimchi. Even if I am a bit paranoid about preserving things in jars.

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My Japanese maple is getting so big, and I love seeing it with all this new, fresh green growth. It used to be flanked by a little pond and waterfall that I would love to re-establish, but facing opposition from Nathan and Dad, but I think every garden needs a little fish pond. I would have to research it though. It’s startling how much the climate has changed in the last five years. A 45°C day was a total fluke five years ago, and now we can expect a run of them every summer. It’s shocking that we don’t even consider 30°C particularly hot anymore. I don’t know how fish would go in these kind of conditions.

This weekend, we have new lavender to put in, plus some salvia, euphorbia, some climbing roses for an arch, and some other little random plants. Oh, and our birthday camellia from Dad. Plus neverending weeding. It’s hard and it’s frustrating that Nathan never wants to help, but I hope it will be worth it. A beautiful garden gives such a sense of satisfaction and harmony, I will never be one of those people that can just have a bunch of rocks and a few sprigs of whatever was labelled ‘low maintenance’ at the landscaping center. I need lush, blooming things; plants that smell gorgeous; things that attract bees and butterflies; places for fairies to hide.

I Forgot!

birthday

Totally forgot my obligatory birthday post! On Tuesday, we turned 29 and 33 (yes, it’s on the same day). We went out for lunch, some special tickets arrived for me and Nathan bought himself a new toy. We had ridiculously expensive cheese and champagne that we could never normally justify, but when it’s TWO birthdays in one, we can justify it. Posie and Rupert got twiggy sticks and we watched Independence Day. It was extremely low key, especially compared to the extravaganzas we have managed other years. But kind of like when we got engaged, it was nice to just be at home with our beloved little companions. It was cozy.

Before we get to me, happy birthday firstly to Nathan. He always moans about how I stole his birthday; I prefer to tell the story that I’m the best birthday present he ever received. I know he would love to have a day all about him, but if I have to share with anybody, I’m so glad it’s with him. You know how you want to feel special on your birthday? I feel like we don’t just double the special-ness, we multiply it. We waltz around in our own little “why not? it’s our birthday!” bubble and always figure out a way to make it great for both of us. I love sharing the day… I hope that one day Nathan will quit being grumpy about it and realize how cool it can be.

As for turning 29 – I haven’t made up my mind about this one. I always sort of thought I would have things together by 29, but the further I go, the more I realize that nobody ever feels like they have everything together, all areas of their life working perfectly at the same time. No matter how old they are. But this new number next to my name is making me hyper-aware of new things, and I’m not sure if it’s all constructive. I’m suddenly regarding my hair, my wardrobe, everything, with a critical eye – would a ‘woman almost in her thirties’ wear that? Is that appropriate for a woman of your age? It’s a bit ridiculous, especially given that I’m always guessed to be younger than I am. If there is a limit or a threshold, I’m not there yet.

If I have to be 29, I might as well enjoy it. Bring on all the good things that will happen this year! 29 will see me finishing Honours and starting the PhD, going to Bali and Japan, renovating the hell out of this old shack, getting my groove back, and best of all, marrying my Ultimate Grand Super Birthday Twin. Our constant joke now is that if we ever have a baby, we should aim for them to be born on our birthday (because these sorts of things are totally within our control, right?). The ultimate hat trick would be to have twins on our birthday, or to have two separate children, four years apart, both born on our birthday. I think those are realistic, achievable goals!