How was everyone's weekends?  I had a wonderful weekend doing all sorts of exciting things.  On Saturday morning the Postie delivered some long awaited pillowcovers from my sister.  The material was a Christmas present, but she only got a chance to sew them after I left for Berlin.  And now they are very happily sitting on our new couch.  

The package also had two Caramellos and a Cherry Ripe - perfect sustenance for a trip to Ikea (we are now proud owners of a rug, amongst other things).  Back from Ikea we had just enough time to put on our 'Sunday best' for the Opera.  It seems like an eternity ago, but back in November, Matthias bought me Opera tickets of Christmas.  Wagner's Rienzi with a chorus of 100 was really very spectacular.  And the cocktails after the performance made the night extra special (highly recommend trying a Gin Tai).

All-in-all a lovely weekend.  What did you get up to?


I want, I need, I have to have...

Message Cookie Cutters! It's so ridiculously over-the-top, but still - I *heart* them.  The 'set' comes with standard messages, plus extra letters so you can design your own message.  I have images of boxes of biscuits delicately wrapped with tissue paper, with whitty words and phrases.  I'm sure after it's first outing it would be abandoned to the back of the 'baking' cupboard only to resurface during a massive spring clean, or worse, just before moving house.  But still, I nearly bought it online today...


Fresh snow like a fresh coat of paint draped over the streets of Berlin. When the sun pokes through the clouds, the light is just 'Winter perfect' at the moment - a cool glow with the faintest warmth reminding me that Spring can't be that far away.


meat pie

I forgot to mention - but Matthias had his first meat pie on Tuesday! How anyone can live in Queensland for a year and not have even heard of a 'Meat Pie' is beyond me.

Me: We have to have a Meat Pie
M: What's a Meat Pie?
Me: Well, it's pastry with mince meat inside it.
M: Good. Let's try
Me: But you have to have it with tomato sauce
M: You mean ketchup?
Me: No, tomato sauce. Ketchup is different
M: But it says Ketchup on the bottle
Me: Well, it's really Tomato Sauce
M: (looks perplexed but dutifully squeezes healthy dollop of said sauce bottle onto pie)
sometime later...
M: You Australians are funny with your words, but this is actually quite good


Aperture Priority

Manual mode can sound a little intimidating to many new camera users.  One way to make the transition from always shooting in automatic to manual is through aperture priority and shutter priority.  There are also occasions when you might decide to shoot in these modes even if you are comfortable with manual features.  

As a quick re-cap:
Shutter speed is how quickly your shutter opens when taking a photograph
ISO is how well your camera absorbs the available light
Aperture is how wide your shutter opens when taking a photograph and controls both the light and the depth of field in a photograph.  

Shutter Priority:
In shutter priority the camera gives you control over the shutter speed, but adjusts the ISO and aperture to get a correctly exposure photograph.  One time you might use this is if you wanted to achieve a 'movement effect' in you photograph.

In this photograph I wanted to capture the movement of the sign.  By adjusting my shutter speed to be slower than the spinning sign I created movement in the photograph.  I allowed the camera to adjust the aperture and ISO to correctly expose.  Other situations where you might use this would capturing water movement (waterfalls, taps, rain etc) and to create a sense of hurried movement (the classic is on a busy street or train station).

Aperture Priority:
I use aperture priority more often than shutter priority and it is often the easiest way to step from automatic to manual.  Aperture priorty allows you to set the aperature while the camera will adjust the ISO and shutter speed to correctly expose the picture.

Here, I was interested in capturing only the details of the XXX  so I set my aperture to f/XX.  The camera adjusted my shutter speed and ISO to correctly expose my picture.

In this photograph of the landscape I wanted the opposite to happen so I set the camera to a small aperture.

Remember to pay attention to what shutter speed the camera selects.  The camera will not know if you are using a tripod or have shaky hands. If the camera has selected a shutter speed that is too slow for you, you will need to adjust your aperture or ISO.  Which one you choose will depend on the photo. Mostly I try to adjust my ISO first and then aperture.

Aperture priority is pretty great.  In fact, for a long time I wondered why you would bother with manual mode at all.  Next week I'll tell you why.

The Snow Storm by Edna St. Vincent Millay
No hawk hangs over in this air:
The urgent snow is everywhere.
The wing adroiter than a sail
Must lean away from such a gale,
Abandoning its straight intent,
Or else expose tough ligament
And tender flesh to what before
Meant dampened feathers, nothing more.
Forceless upon our backs there fall
Infrequent flakes hexagonal,
Devised in many a curious style
To charm our safety for a while,
Where close to earth like mice we go
Under the horizontal snow.

One of my on-going goals is to read more poetry. I love the romance and the rhythm of poems. I somehow regret not having being taught to read poetry at school as I think it often evokes a raw emotion and 'soul' that other written forms don't. So in this light I'm introducing "A poem on Thursday" as a challenge to myself. To start it off, a poem by Edna St Vincent Millay. Edna St Vincent Millay was the first women to win a Pultizer Prize for poetry in 1923. Last night as I was coming home from my German class, a snow storm blew in - the wind blew fiercely and three inches of snow fell in a few short hours. Somehow this poem seemed apt.


Wall Stickers

I've just bought these lovely wall stickers for our bathroom window. I wanted to find something that still let in the light, but gave us some extra privacy during the winter months while the Oak Tree is bare. I initially thought about curtains or giving the windows a light white-wash, but then I struck upon the idea of wall stickers (or window stickers as the case might be). A quick Etsy search and I was inundated by designs, styles and colours. It was a tough choice, but I ended up settling on the wind- swept flowers in the first photo.

The rest of the photos are just eye-candy. Happy Tuesday!
Janey Macpress
Wall Design

Australia Day

Image from: V--ster (Flickr)

'My' Australia is a lot more like the images above, than the sterotype you see on TV of the outback and the beach. And when I think of Australia, I think of
long, flat roads through the wheat-belt between Melbourne and Adelaide; summer hats, sunscreen and beaches. I think of a warm winter sun, and a vicious summer sun. I think of suburbs and cars and beers with friends. Good coffee, seafood, chilli, coriander and a fusion of tastes and smells that comes when cultures merge. I miss being able to order my Ciabatta bread with a Tandori Chicken filling and my Barramundi with a Thai-inspired chilli, ginger marrinade. And while I am proud that today Australian's celebrate Australia Day in a way that I didn't as a child, it makes me sad to think that perhaps, maybe, our flag and this day is being used to mask a xenophobic nationalism that I not only don't understand but find abhorent. But enough said.

Happy Australia Day everyone!
Hope you enjoyed your BBQs and beer,

your Lamb and Pavlova.

I hope the Cricket was on, with the sound turned down

and with tripleJs Hottest 100 turned-up.


tomato sauce for a lazy friday

I have long admired the recipes on Smitten Kitchen, but I've never cooked anything. Until now. You see, while the receipes are delicious and her pictures incredible, the recipes always seem a little unobtainable for a weekday meal and I tend to turn to hardcopy recipe books, not the internet, when I'm looking for a 'special' meal. But then the other day she posted about "the best" tomato sauce. No garlic, no red wine, not even any sugar - just onion, tinned tomatoes and butter. Well, on a lazy Friday night with a bottle of red wine, my knitting and a movie, I had to try it.
It is incredibly simple. And whilst not the best tomato sauce (I reserve that for my Mum's roast cherry tomato sauce with roast garlic, olive oil and basil), it comes pretty close. And believe me, it couldn't be simpler.

800g whole tinned tomatoes (best you can find)
70g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into two

Pour tinned tomatoes (including juice) into a medium saucepan. Add onion and butter. Allow to simmer for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to break down the tomatoes. When the fat floats to the top of the sauce, it's ready. Discard the onion, salt to taste and serve.
Delicious and so, so easy. Pretty sure this will become the base of all my tomato sauce recipes from now - I'm considering making some more today and freezing it. Yum!



Gooseflesh is an arist with a wonderful blog. She has just commissioned this stunning coral work - a light - for a private residence. All of her work is done in crochet. Crochet! I love it. It takes the world of crochet leap-years beyond granny squares and doilies. She has loads more pictures of her work on her blog - go over and have a look - it's beautiful.


baby, it's cold outside!

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day
when it's cold outside I've got the month of May"

I'm told it's the Siberian wind, but Wow it's cold outside. Maximum of -8 today. *yikes*. I don't think I've seen the sun or the blue sky since I arrived two weeks ago. It's all grey and cloudy and even the snow has turned to compacted brown ice. I've taken to singing the 'My girl' song as I walk too and from work. It's become my "I'm cold and everything is a very monotone grey, but at least I can sing and imagine the winter away" song.

I'm still learning about this winter business. It's taken a while, but I'm getting better at picking the temperature when it falls below zero. Previously I had thought that 'cold' was 'cold'. Well, to my Australian friends, it's not. There is a noticable difference between zero (cold) and -8 (bloody cold). What I haven't learnt yet is how to dress stylishly for work when it's bloody cold. Thankfully Berlin has pretty slack dress codes. Today I'm wearing thick wollen socks under my jeans, snowboots, shirt, cardigan, jacket... and when I go outside... puffy winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf. I look like a puffy green mushroon. What I want to look like is this:But this is, unfortunately, is not warm enough. Not even close. Where are their hats, scarf and mittens? And... tights will never (ever) be enough warmth on your legs in this weather (trust me, I tried). And highheels !? That, my friends, is a one-way trip to the emergency department.And while these two lovely ladies are not nearly well enough clad for winter either, I'm at least hoping to channel a bit more of them, with a touch of sophicated "business women" (aka previous picture) into my winter wardrobe and slowly, slowly become someone who not only understands the difference between cold and bloody cold, but can also dress fantastically for both occasions!


over-staying your welcome

A funny thing happened on the weekend. We had a guest - our first actually - and although we don't have much furniture yet, we do have coffee, a blow-up mattress, shower and oodles of love to give people who visit. So despite it being Matthias' birthday - and initially wanting to do something special together on Saturday - we invited this guest to our Oyster lunch at KaDeVe (which he ate with gusto) and then kindly offered to take his (heavy) suitcase back to our house while he visited some other friend of his in the afternoon.

Perhaps you can imagine where this sorry tale is going - but you will be surprised how badly our guest tripped up. You see, we also invited him to a dinner which was planned with a nice group of Matthias' colleagues. He came - but arrived 40 minutes late - by which stage we had already ordered and we all had to squash around the table to accommodate him. He then proceeded to talk exclusively to a very nice (but oh so impressionable) blonde. As the night went on it was clear that our guest would not be returning home with us. In fact, to be strictly correct, when we looked around for him he had disappeared without saying good-bye. Some rather cross text messages were sent with the suggestion of bags being left outside (Wie sind nicht ein Hotel!) but by morning we were feeling slightly less cross about the matter and let him into our appartment to collect his belongings.

Well, that in itself was a mistake as finally our guest had no where to go and would like to stay until his train departed - wouldn't it be nice if we had a chat since we didn't get to last night (!!) As you can well imagine I wasn't at all in the mood for chatting and declared that I would take a nap. To my complete shock and surprise our guest thought a nap would also be good for him. He would take one too - on the air mattress that was still blown up.

There are no words for my surprise. We are not off to an auspicious start in the guest department. But I'm interested - what are your house-guest horror stories?



I have a new love in Berlin and she is called the 6th floor of the KaDeVe department store. Better than Lafayette, or Harrods or anything I went to in Japan - this is the mecca of all gourmet food floors. Beautifully arranged gourmet delicacies that had me literally salivating and wanting to make salads with elderberry infused vinegar, or Himalayan Salt flakes spiced with Saffron, or try some of their Apple juice - as if freshly pressed Apple juice was not enough, at KaDeVe you can choose between three different varieties of apple! Dinner anyone?


old-world romance

Matthias almost always helps me put on my winter coat when we go out. And when we get to whereever we're going he lets me sit down while he hangs our coats up. He also opens doors, carries my suitcase and brings me flowers. And while I consider myself to be an emancipated women in most respects, all the emancipation in the world can't stop me from loving the old-world romance of it all. Makes me feel all mushy inside.


what happens

This is what happens when you get very excited about knitting something because you need it. And instead of being methodical and thinking about yarn and needle selection you rush head first into the project with some wool you have on hand (which perfectly matches your beanie, and contrasts so elegantly with your winter coat and therefore will be *ahem* perfect no matter what you do).

A few hours later when you cast off, having convinced yourself that it looks small because all the ribbing will give it a lot of stretch, you find that it is, well, too small.
So then, you do what you actually should have done in the first place which is find a pattern that suits your yarn. So today I'm beginning this - Dashing - from Knitty Spring 2007. Hopefully it'll work.


twenty four hours

What a difference 24 hours makes! I always find long-haul flights slightly disorientating. You board a plane, spend countless hours watching movies and occasionally sleeping, have layovers in sticky, humid places that regardless of the time of day/night are, well, sticky and humid and then land in another time zone and climate. No matter how much mental preparation you do, nothing really prepares you for the change, especially when you jump from 38 degrees to -2.

I briefly ventured outside today to pick up my residence permit (yippee!), but I'm planning on spending the rest of the afternoon snuggled up inside drinking coffee and knitting some much needed mittens.



Images from the National Gallery of Victoria. Taken on trip to see the Chinoise exhibition with my mum on one of my last day's in Melbourne.


a green phase

In what is perhaps my most ambitious project to date, I have started knitting a gorgeously, delicate, lace cowl. I've never knit with lace-weight before and it's more challenging that I thought, even on 4mm needles. But after starting the thing no less than 3 times in the last month, only to rip it out again, I am happy that I decided to presevere and "just see what happens". Because what happens is this (below) the beginnings of my cowl.


street scenes

Because for me, no trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to Brunswick Street. Not all the photos are my own unfortunately. I intended to take lots - the weather was delicious and there was lots of people and movement about which would have been perfect - but I got so distracted with doing everything that I love to do when on Brunswick Street that I forgot.

But the people watching was just as good as I remember...
The coffee smooth, rich and strong...
and, of course, the shopping!


Kris Kingle with a twist

Every year a group of my friends get together for our annual Kris Kringle present swap. It's a ruthless, cut-throat game where no gift is safe until the last person opens their present and all the gifts are on display.

The game goes something like this;
- A price is set (this year $20) and everyone buys a present, wraps it and puts it in the middle of the table
- An order in which the presents will be opened is decided. We've had many over the years.. youngest - oldest, tallest - shortest, postcode... but settled on pulling a number out of a hat this year
- The first person chooses a present and opens it
- The second person chooses a present and opens it

Now, here's where the fun starts.

The second person can choose whether to keep their present OR swap it with the present that is already open. There is no negotiation, no ifs or buts, if the 2nd person wants to swap they can
- The unwrapping continues like this with every subsequent person being able to choose whether to keep the present that they've opened or swap it with something that's already been opened. Only after the last person has opened their present is the gift in your hand safe
It's fun and at times ruthless. And if you really luck-out you can always hope for a better draw next year... I think I did pretty well - the Nina Simone Essentials CD - perfect Jazz listening for back in wintery Berlin.

PS. Stu, you made the blog!



The sun is shining and I want to be outside - but my head is pounding, my nose is running and my lungs are protesting vehemently about the bugs that have decided to make them *ahem* a temporary home.

I blame it on too much of this
and this
followed by a very wet New Year's Eve which looked something like this (but with much more mud). As one of my sister's eloquently put it "It was very, very hot, then is was very, very wet"
So today I will sit in bed and dream about the music - Moby, Datarock, Emiliana Torrini, Washington, John Steel Singers, Little Red, Hilltop Hoods, Xavier Rudd - did I mention Moby? And so many more... amazing!



One last post about Christmas before moving well and truly into the new year. Yesterday we all drove down to Anglesea for my mum's family Christmas. I couldn't resist posting these three pictures.
What happens when your Mama catches you with your hands in the chocolate bowl... again.
A successful plum pudding ablaze with brandy - just as delicious as the one we ate in South Australia on Boxing Day.