Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breakfast with Obama

No we didn't have breakfast with Obama, but we did have a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast at Obama's hotel - the one where he stayed during his 22 hour stopover in Canberra recently. The hotel looked to have recovered from the onslaught of Obama and his entourage and was coping well with the crowds of Canberrans lining up for the breakfast buffet.

We took a walk afterwards to help our over indulgence settle. It was a relaxed way to celebrate a relatively quiet weekend before the next few weeks of social mayhem leading up to Christmas.

Ella is fascinated with all the flowers out at the moment after our mild, dampish Spring. We reckon this is the biggest dandelion seed we've ever seen in Canberra. Ella can never resist spreading the dandelion seed joy.

We ended up at the Katie Bender memorial opposite the old Canberra Hospital site across the lake; a happy group of climbing rocks for Ella and all the other little kids, but filled with sadness for those of us who remember the tragic events of 2003 so well. It is another reminder of how lucky our family has been over the years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

cupcakes, Kylie, k.d. and Picasso

Ella was extremely motivated to make a batch of cupcakes with me this week. I was fairly unprepared, head full of a heavy cold, sleep deprived and the dishwasher full and running with all my best equipment, but I did my best - with lots of help and encouragement from my offsider.

Getting the mix into the patty pan was the most fraught time - and we had to do it all so quickly!!

But we did it, and Ella's verdict was - perfect (even before it was cooked). We took our time icing this batch afterwards (pale pink with silver cachous). A perfect way to spend the morning.

We headed off to Sydney that afternoon. While Rob drove I was able to catch up on some sleep, in between blowing my nose.

After admiring Juan the Spanish sparky do his usual careful job of installing some more lights at 8/85 we took the opportunity on Friday to see the other Spaniard... the Picasso exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, drawn from the collection of the Musee National Picasso in Paris.

We were lucky enough to visit the beautiful Musee National Picasso in Paris back in 2005 (wasn't Rob's hair long then?) but it was still good to see this carefully curated collection of work in the NSW gallery spaces. Visitor entry is timed so there was plenty of space to view the work - and not the hordes of school children like there were in Paris. I think the beautiful bronzes were my favourites in this exhibition (we'd loved them in Paris too!).

Saturday morning we visited the Eveleigh Farmer's Market in Darlington and had our breakfast prepared by Kylie Kwong - steamed savoury pancakes with organic egg and veg and organic pork dumplings with ginger tamari. This breakfast was worth the trip to the markets...such a thrill..... as it is so difficult to find a seat for a full meal at Kylie's Billy Kwong restaurant in Surrey Hills.

And seeing k.d. Lang and Sass Bang Boom on Saturday night was just wonderful too. She was in fine form.....very relaxed, gently whimsical and funny...and that amazing voice and musicality.

We loved the audience too......lots of female couples, very stylishly dressed. The word is that more men are starting to come to her concerts in Australia this time around. My guess is that a lot of men here (especially older men) are only just coming to terms with the gender bending aspects of k.d. Lang's persona. Go k.d., go Kylie, I say (and go cupcakes for that matter too)!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Catch up

Although the past month has been full of birthday celebrations and travel tales we've still enjoyed some great times at home with Ella.

One wet and rainy Thursday morning at the end of September we all discovered how much we still loved the Easybeats She's so Fine (thank you Grandpa). Ella loved Little Stevie's wild introduction and used all her dance moves through the endless repetitions of the song's limited lyric line.

And then more wild times at Floriade in mid October as Ella experienced her first ferris wheel ride high above the beds of tulips (she loved it!).

And then a lovely afternoon with the P families - more birthday love for me as well as the company of two gorgeous boys - and some birthday cake.

J&J&E were meant to be with us too but we found out they were waiting at Canberra Hospital for Ella's split ear to be attended to (caused by a fall against an architrave in the hallway). After an 8 hour wait she had two beautiful neat stitches installed in her ear- which in no way made up for the horror of waiting 8 hours to be treated.

But less than two weeks later she was fully recovered and back in her beloved Erindale Pool - for swimming lessons.

We were astounded to see the progress she had made since last swimming season. She launches herself through the water with great confidence, floats on her back, can "swim" for 3-4 metres using all the right overarm strokes (but not breathing yet).

She really likes and trusts her teacher - diving to the bottom of the pool on command........

......... to retrieve objects.......

...and does very tricky dolphin dives.......

......pure happiness.

Ella is loving the warmer weather and all the growth in the garden..especially when it means she can collect bouquets of flowers in her favourite colours: red and pink and orange roses and purple daisies and petunias.

Us girls visited one of the open gardens in Farrer last weekend - a fund raiser for the acquired brain injury foundation.

We'll have to do this again when the opportunity arises. Ella LOVED the garden - all its meandering secrets and spaces, the silky bantams.........

and Edward the aged black cat.

We stayed for ages, enjoying the late Spring sunshine and the delicious tea and scones served with homemade grape jelly (we sat under the grapevine from which the jelly had been made) with oodles of whipped cream.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Our Sydney reunion

The sisters' (and spouses) annual Sydney reunion weekend began last Thursday afternoon. The morning's steady rain and cloud cover disappeared just as we set out from Coogee for Tamarama and the 15th Sculpture By The Sea exhibition on the Tamarama to Bondi coastal walk.

These steel Easter Island figures on Tamarama Beach were an arresting sight as we started our journey of sculpture discovery.

This was the first time we had visited this exhibition on opening day, and in this beautiful late afternoon light.

.........even though the rain earlier had caused some rough seas and the closure of Tamarama beach.

We especially enjoyed Sculpture By the Sea this year. We always feel very happy anyway to be together at the start of our reunion weekend, but this year the standard of works also seemed to be higher than usual.. with quite a few highly crafted works in metal - including this amazing piece with all its plumbing references.

........very aptly placed on this vantage point overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I am always inspired by my stylish sisters (and their spouses). It's great fun to share some quality time together in Sydney - away from our work and other responsibilities.

Rob and I were excited to see this work by the Yirrkala artist whose work we had admired in Darwin last month.

It must be an enormous job to install the sculptures in this setting. This one still had a few finishing touches to be completed. It made us realise it would be interesting to visit the site in the week before the opening to observe some of the installation processes.

As we got closer to the end of the exhibition we were all starting to look forward to our first celebratory drink and meal together at the Bavarian Bier Cafe on Campbell Avenue, Bondi Beach (the first of many great celebratory meals together this weekend).

Ros (and the other sisters) always enjoy some retail therapy in Sydney, so while we spent most of the day on Friday exploring the new(ish) Westfield in the CBD Rob and Pete took a long drive north all the way up to the oh so exclusive Palm Beach.

Rob caught Pete gazing out to sea at beautiful Avalon Beach, on the way up the coast.......

which seemed to be a magnet for surfers today.....

......and a fully restored 1956 Ford Thunderbird (much to Rob's delight).

On Saturday we spent some time exploring the vibrant suburb of Surry Hills...... time for another visit to Brett Whiteley's studio in Raper Street (first time for Ros and Pete).......

....and a wonderful lunch at our new favourite Polish restaurant Alchemy in Crown Street, and time to explore some of the funky independent stores and galleries in this buzzy suburb.

On Sunday we were able to find our way (eventually) to the wonderful Artisan Eveleigh Markets in Darlington in the morning, then lunch at the Fratelli Fresh Cafe Sopra in Walsh Bay. I would rate our meal here as the best of the weekend but the setting was a bit frantic and Italian to be a relaxing experience.

We all agreed it was a fantastic long weekend. Ros had the chance to eat some sublime gelati, and spend some quality time in David Jones. We all enjoyed Midnight in Paris at the gorgeous Randwick Ritz and Ros and I even squeezed in an extra chick flick at Bondi Junction on our last night (I Don't Know How She Does It). We had lots of time to laugh, drink beer and good red wines, share music and endless family folk lore (and all those styling tips).

Can't wait for our next reunion weekend!