Tuesday, 26 June 2012

To The Horses

I meant to do this post a couple of weeks ago but it completely slipped my mind.
So, with a departure from the usual, let's start the week off with a little music.

Meet Miss Lanie Lane!

I saw this photo and it was an instant girl crush. This cutie patootie hails from Sydney and has been writing songs for as long as she can remember. She started seriously
 playing the guitar before she hit her teens, learning the basics from her dad and brother, 
before venturing down her own path. Lanie's style has been described as swamp blues, country, roots, rockbilly, and even pop (huh?), but it's her smoky vocals and dirty, blues guitar that got my attention.
Lanie's Triple J Unearthed entry
At the beginning of 2011, Lanie won a slot on the Sydney Big Day Out line-up, thanks to Triple J’s Unearthed competition and hasn't looked back since. Her debut album, To The Horses, was recorded and mixed in a total of four days at a studio in Sydney, with all four musicians playing in the same room. Lanie likes to record this way because she feels it helps to maintain the rawness of the sound and the band doesn't lose energy doing endless retakes.

Photo: Facebook.
Miss Lane writes in the same way she chooses to record, quickly, and manages to find inspiration in all manner of places - 'Betty Baby' is about her battered old guitar. There is a great story about her song '(Oh Well) That's What You Get for Falling in Love with a Cowboy', as told by the lady herself at her live show:

Our songstress awoke one morning and her man said to her: "You said the strangest thing in your sleep last night." As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she responded with a smile "Yeah, what did I say?" "You said: Oh well, that's what you get for falling in love with a cowboy." Lanie had no idea what she'd been dreaming about but a seed had been planted. Lanie's man left the apartment to forrage for food and when he returned the song was finished! He was gone less than an hour.

I was lucky enough to secure two tickets for the second of her three sold out shows in Melbourne last month and seeing her live has just made me love her all the more. She's softly spoken and genuinely appreciative of the audience, but for me her most charming trait is that she's a dork. It appears she had an ongoing bet with friends and her dare for the evening was to make a noise like a Wookie. I'm afraid to say she wasn't very good, but she still threw back her head and gave it a red-hot go. How could you not love her?!

She even signed my CD.

Lanie Lane is now touring regional Australia with her solo show 'On My Own Track'.
Visit Lanie's website for more LL love!

- Tamara

Friday, 22 June 2012

Gluten-Free Fun

Different people do different things when they can't sleep: Solanah sews herself some pants, some of us unpick seams (you know who you are), but me, I like to bake. It's usually something fairly quick and easy like biscuits because I have them done within the hour. Of course the dishes are always left for the morning.

All week this week I've been craving shortbread, not so much for their rich, buttery flavour but for the gritty texture. Weird, I know. Sadly, I have an intolerance to yeast which means no dairy and no sugar, among other things, so store bought shortbread wasn't an option. In order to satisfy my craving, I was going to have to make my own.

Eating yeast-free is very restrictive, no to mention lacking flavour, but I find many gluten-free recipes cut out most of my 'no' foods. As a result, I have several GF cookbooks but for some reason I've never been game to try any baking. Best to start with something simple, like these tasty little Almond Biscuits*.

175g  Dairy-free margarine
40g    Fruit sugar
135g  Rice flour
40g    Gram flour (chickpea)
30g    Ground almonds
1/2tsp Almond extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lay sheets of baking paper on two baking trays.

Place the margarine and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until margarine has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 4-5 minutes until the mixture has caramelized slightly and become syrupy.

Sift the flours and ground almonds into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the sugar mixture, add the almond extract and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until mixed.

Spoon the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, onto the baking trays to form 14 - 16 balls. Press down each ball with the back of a spoon to make a biscuit shape.

Bake in hot oven for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned. Take the biscuits out of the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

My biscuits got a little over-browned - we have a fan-forced oven and I often forget to adjust the temperature - but they are satisying my texture craving quite well. They're so good in fact, I've been thinking of experimenting with adding some spices the next time I make them. Judging by the way I'm munching through them, it's likely to be real soon.

Have a great weekend!

- Tamara

*Recipe from The Best Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes by Grace Cheetham.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A Full House

It was a full house this Saturday at The Astor and if attendance is anything to go by, it was a huge success. It was great to see so many people turn out to support FOTA and help keep this grand, old theatre available to the public. Both the upstairs and downstairs seating areas were packed to capacity and it was standing room only by the time we arrived. The popcorn was long gone too.

No matter. I still got the chance to see one of my all time favourite movies on the big screen and sing along to the songs with the rest of the Bowie fans. When I went to a screening of Singing in the Rain, the audience applauded after every dance routine. It was wonderful! The Astor's that sort of place.

An Art Deco lounge.

The terrazzo tiled floor of the foyer.

The Ladies Powder room.

Detail of movie poster display window.

The Candy Bar

The Astor neon sign,
still working after all these years.
If you haven't had a chance to sign the petition the save The Astor yet,
I hope these pics have inspired you get to it!

 - Tamara

Friday, 15 June 2012

Protect the Astor

The Astor Theatre has long been a favourite place for me and for the seventeen odd years I lived in the Windsor / St Kilda East area, it was never more than 10 minutes away. The heritage listed Art Deco theatre has been screening films almost continuously for seventy five years and is now the last of the single screen cinema palaces in Melbourne. 

I have many fond memories of late Saturday nights watching films from one of the ancient couches at the back of the stalls downstairs, feeling like I was sitting in my own home. The stalls haven't been open for years now, but I have found the perfect spot in the dress circle - it's a double seat! It was wonderful if you were there with a date; we'd cuddle up under a blanket, watching romantic classics like Roman Holiday. Sigh. Alarmingly, its future now under threat.

The Astor Theatre, Windsor.
Photo: The Argus newspaper, 1936 (?)

The property was purchased in 2007 by a nearby private school and while the building has been allowed to continued to operate as a cinema, they have not been offered a new lease. There is talk of the building being turned into a school performing arts centre and uniform shop! Heaven forbid!! If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting The Astor, you can understand the horror of the situation.

Tomorrow, Saturday 16th, the Friends of The Astor are holding an event for Melbournians to come out and show their support for this grand, old cinema. Between midday and three o'clock, there'll be the rolling of Jaffas down the aisles, free popcorn (until they run out) and a screening of the awesome Jim Henson classic Labyrinth. I don't think I've ever seen it on the big screen so I'm a bit excited. I do hope my favourite seat is available.

So, if you're in Melbourne and have a free afternoon, get on down to The Astor and help keep its Art Deco glory open to the public. My overseas readers can show their support by signing the 'Protect the Astor' petition here.

- Tamara

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

For the Love of Vogue

Although the winter weather has well and truly set in, I find my thoughts turning to floaty, feminine blouses. In the last two days I have washed no less than four pieces of fabric, but can't decided which one I'd like to use first. Then there's the pattern...

I've mentioned previously just how much I love Vogue patterns; they have such lovely design features, the instructions are very clear and the illustrations always get my attention. I particularly like their 1940s blouses and have quite a few in my pattern collection. These are some of my favourites:

Vogue 6422

I have some deep purple satin with a floral print in my stash which has been ear-marked for this one.

Vogue 5269
I don't have any fabric in mind for this one, but I do love the satiny stripes, not to mention the classy little tuxedo collar. Tres chic!!

Vogue 5024
I love this day-to-evening style blouse with its radiating tucks at the neckline; the perfect fabric is yet to make itself known.

Vogue 9860
This is another simple but elegant blouse; the version with the waist tie can be made with a sexy split opening at the back. Like I said, it's all in the details.

Vogue 8976
And then there's this softly tailored day blouse. This is the blouse I've been daydreaming about, either version would do. I've several fabric choices, most of them blue, but I'm not sure which one I should go with.

They're all so pretty.
Which one would you choose?

- Tamara

Friday, 8 June 2012

Desperately Seeking

As yet, I've not heard from my anniversary giveaway winner:


Dylan, there was no email address in your comment so if you're reading, please send me a quick email misteebelle(at)gmail(dot)com with your contact details so I can get your gifts in the mail.
Have a good weekend everyone!
- Tamara

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Country Manor House

The weather this weekend was not great for touring, but by Sunday I really needed to get out of the house. I had seen an 'open house' advertised and being a free event, it was a great idea for a budget-conscious outing.

Campaspe House, was built by Alexander Goldie and his wife Caroline in 1927. The English style, solid brick residence is nestled among bushland on the outskirts of Woodend and features five acres of Edna Walling designed gardens. The house itself has some lovely Art Deco details; a lead light panelled double front door, loads of perfectly preserved wood panelling, and a terrazzo tiled bathroom.

The Goldie family lived in the house until 1942, when their son, Sgt. John Hunter Goldie, died in a training accident in Scotland. The property was purchased by a company in 1984 and has been used as a conference centre and hotel since. There is now a licensed restaurant and the house and grounds are also available for weddings.

The Ladies Powder Room

The two bedroom cottage adjoining the main house.
I can only assume it was originally used as servants quarters.

The restaurant over-looking the rear terrace & swimming pool.
One of the two manor house bedrooms,
this room also over-looks the terrace & pool.

A quiet corner of the gardens.

The house and gardens are really lovely, but there was one thing which excited me more than anything else...

A mushroom!
I've never spied one of these mushrooms in real life, 
I think I may actually have clapped my hands in delight. 

Isn't he adorable?!

- Tamara

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Happy Diamond Jubilee

It has been mentioned that although Australia has chosen to remain part of the British Commonwealth, very little has been arranged in the way of celebrations for our Monarch's Diamond Jubilee. Well, be that as it may, people are still making their own small patriotic gestures all over the place. 

Perhaps the 'Solar Queen' waving her gloved hand back and forth is not the best example of patriotic pride - I found it mildly amusing but also a tad disrespectful - but the rest of the window display more than made up for it. There were teapots of all shapes and sizes, several bowler hats and canes, and masses of bunting in British colours which were strung from one side to the other.

God Save the Queen indeed!

I hope all my UK readers are enjoying their extra long weekend and try to
Keep Calm and Have a Picnic!* 

- Tamara

*With thanks to The Scotsman sub-editors.

And the Winner is...

Sorry for the delay in posting the winner of my Blogiversary Giveaway; we had no electricity here for most of the day yesterday (nearby building works) and once it was finally restored, the internet decided to crap out. It required changing passwords and such, so I had to wait for Mdblm to get home from work today to sort it out.

I couldn't get the Random Number Generator thingy to work, so the winning comment number will instead be chosen by "Tam's Super-Sophisticated Hairy Hand-in-the Hat Method". Here's how it works:

Generate numbers...

Locate a suitable hat and your nearest hairy hand...
And voila! 

The winning comment is number seven!
Congratulations Dylan!!!
Please send me a quick email misteebelle(at)gmail(dot)com
and I'll get your gifts in the mail ASAP.
Thanks again to everyone for their kind words of congratulations and here's to another
fun-filled 12 months of whatever shiny, pretty ' New Ball of String' takes my fancy.
I'll be back tomorrow with a weekend outing update.
- Tamara  

Friday, 1 June 2012

Gift for a Sweetheart

Earlier this week, the lovely Jessica from Chronically Vintage shared some of her favourite brooches from her collection. It has inspired me to finally get off my butt and photograph my sweetheart brooches, something I've been meaning to do for months.

I've been collecting sweetheart brooches for about three years now and the majority have been purchased from the US, mainly via eBay. I used to wear these brooches on occasion, but when I lost my beloved stirling silver 'V for Victory' pin - complete with morse code - somewhere between home and work, I decided they were better left in their box. I'd really like to display them somehow so if anyone has any nifty ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Not wearing my sweethearts means no one else gets to see them, so today I'd like to share some of my favourites with you. Enjoy!

An Airforce sweetheart

The Allied Forces - I very nearly lost this one too.

A much sort after American heart sweetheart.

My replacement V for Victory pin, the original was much nicer.

A Navy sweetheart.

And the most prized of my collection...
A rare Australian mother-of-pearl sweetheart pin.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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