Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roll On

So tonight my dear friend Laura and I had our first Victorian Roller Derby League experience, and I have to stay that on the whole it was pretty damn awesome. I will admit that I am one of those people who really only became aware of the sport after I saw the movie 'Whip It', which I love because one, Ellen Page is a Babe (haha get it -_-) and two, I really dig Drew Barrymore. So when Laura spotted a poster advertising a local roller derby event at the Showgrounds, she and I both jumped at the chance to see first hand if it was as intense as what we had seen on the small screen.

And boy, were we pretty impressed! We discovered pretty quickly that this was no light skate skirmish, these girls packed a serious punch (although not literally cos apparently that's against the rules and will earn you a stint in the penalty box).
My blurry iPhone photos really don't do it justice, but I'm going to post them anyway to give a rough idea and add a bit of colour.

The blue team are the Victorian Roller Derby All Stars, and the green team are the Bat City Rollergirls, from the U.S. We were of course cheering for the blue team, even though I preferred Bat City's colour choice (I have a penchant for green).
The other great thing about this sport is the fact that every single team member is represented by their own choice of pun; my personal favourites were Skate Bush (!) and Sirius Mischief (I'm not sure if this was an intentional Harry Potter reference, but I'm going to assume that it is, for my own amusement). Sadly, this was the last event for the year, but both of us are really keen to go back when the season starts up again in 2012.

Another amazing thing about roller derby, or at least this particular roller derby event, is that they also have a lot of cool stalls selling not only merchandise, but alternative hand made accessories, clothes, and skate equipment. There was also a stall that had a huge collection of animal onesies, which Laura and I squealed and fawned over for quite a while, until the very nice assistant, dressed as a turtle mind you, allowed us to try one on.

How fucking cute is she?!! Seriously. The company selling them is I Can Say I've Seen It, and they have some really cool stuff in their ebay store. I am so going to be asking for a unicorn one for Christmas.

After all the dizzying excitement, Laura and I were both starving, so we met up with Laura's boyfriend Rian in the city and went for dinner in Chinatown, at the Deng-Post Cafe. And look what they serve their duck pancakes on.

Again with the cute animal shaped things! If I could have these as every one of my plates, I would. The owner was also really friendly and attentive, and the food was great, I would highly recommend it; it's times like these I love living in Melbourne.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dinner Mark Two

So I know it's nearly a week ago now, but I made dinner again last Sunday! Hooray!

I am rather proud of myself, and am determined not  to make this one of those things where I begin with all this enthusiasm and then loose interest and stop/

I made, with only minimal help from Lovely and my parents, I might add, Creamy Pumpkin Risotto and for desert, Gin and Walnut Icecream. And it was really yum.

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto This recipe is a combination of Ruby's pumpkin risotto recipe and a recipe my mum found in a Woman's Weekly Magazine.
Serves: 4
Prep Time: It says 50mins, but to be honest it took me about an hour and a half :/

- 1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2cm pieces
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5L of vegetable stock
- 50g of butter
- 2 medium onions (300g), chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2cups (400g) aborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sav Blanc :) )
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I used more but I looove parmesan)
- 2 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, or 180 fan forced.
2. Combine pumpkin and two tablespoons of the oil in a large oven tray. Season with salt, and roast for about 25mins
3. Meanwhile, bring stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan
4. Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan; add onion, cook until soft but not coloured. Add garlic and rice and stir for one minute. Add wine, simmer uncovered, until liquid is evaporated.
5. Add 1/2 a cup of hot stock to the rice mixture; cook, stirring over medium heat, until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the pumpkin, and continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, until all the liquid as been absorbed (this is tedious, but keep going)
6. Toast the pine nuts in a shallow pan, add to the risotto along with the parmesan cheese.


Walnut and Gin Icecream 
 I found this recipe in a Frankie magazine. I love that magazine so much, I actually look forward to the new issue of Frankie day. Start this one early, cos it takes about 6 hours to freeze.

- 3 egg yolks
-1/4 cup of caster sugar
-1/4 cup of gin
-1/2 cup of golden syrup (I used honey cos we had no golden syrup, which worked, but I'd still stick with golden syrup
- 500ml of cream, chilled
- 3/4 cup of broken up walnuts

- Combine egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until pale
- Then beat in the gin and golden syrup, followed by the cream.
- Beat until soft peaks form (this take quite, but stick at it! Keep going until it looks like whipped cream)
- Fold in the Walnuts, and pour into plastic container and freeze.

I forgot to take a picture, because I was so eager to eat it. So just imagine a collection of creamy looking goop that eventually freezes and looks like icecream :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Discovering the Podcast

A couple of months ago, Lovely introduced me to the world of podcasting; I know I know, I'm very very late to the table, BUT better late than never. Anyway, lately I've been enjoying NPR's All Songs Considered Podcast, because it's introduced me to a lot of great music I wouldn't have found otherwise (I've tried music blogs, but my internet is too slow and I get impatient trying to sift through the backlog of videos looking for something I might like.)

Having said that, here's some artists that I was led to by said podcast and enjoyed so much I looked them up on the internet, and will probably buy their albums at some point.


If Bjork and Joanna Newsom had song babies, it would probably sound something like Ólöf Arnalds. I really love this song, although the first song I heard her sing on the podcast was a cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire, and it was so beautiful, but I couldn't find it on youtube.
This clip is quietly terrifying, but I couldn't stop watching. I now also really want to go to Iceland.


I liked this song, Abducted, as soon as I heard it, and I remember because I wrote the name of the song and the band on the back of a bus ticket so I wouldn't forget. I like how cheery it sounds, but then you listen to the lyrics and you realise it's a very sinister song; I really enjoy songs like that, maybe that's why I'm so obsessed with Florence at the moment.
The clip is also a bit scary, but it has a nice twist at the end.

Zola Jesus

I wasn't so bothered with this song at first, but since I listened to that particular episode, she's really grown on me. Her songs feel like they've crossed galaxies to get to my speakers. This clip makes me think of a desert on the moon (even though you can see the actual moon from where she is a number of times), and I reckon she could teach Lady Gaga a thing or two about the effectiveness of subtlety, but I guess that's not really her deal.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do :) 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bright Eyes - The Hi Fi

So you probably don't remember, but I posted a video a while back of the first single from the new Bright Eyes record, The People's Key, called Shell Games. I also wrote a note underneath, and it went along the lines of "Oh my gosh, if this means they're going to be touring I might die."

Well, I am now speaking to you from beyond the grave through this magical thing we call the internet, all because my wish came true; they are touring Australia, last night I went along, and I died.*
But I thought I would send out this last message before I depart into the next life, where every day will be a Bright Eyes concert, except I will always have the perfect view and that when he reaches his hand out to crowd, I will be close enough to touch it.

I remember very clearly the first time I heard Bright Eyes; I was in high school, I was going to turn sixteen that year so it would have been 2004. It was a beautiful sunny day, close to the beginning of summer, and a dear friend of mine, who had just gotten one of the very first iPods I had ever seen, said to me "I found a band I think you might like." He handed this big white brick with a black and white screen over to me, and said, "His voice takes a little while to get used to, but the songs are amazing." I trusted him completely, because this was a time before podcasts and music blogs and even triple j, where he was my only musical yard stick; if he found something and liked it, more often than not I was bound to like it too, and then beg him to download the album for me, because his parents let him use whatever file sharing program was around at the time (mine did not). There were only two Bright Eyes songs on there, Something Vague and A Perfect Sonnet, which he played to me in succession, watching intently for my reaction. At first I remember thinking 'This guy sounds like he's going to burst into tears at any moment." But a few weeks later, he sent them to my computer via MSN messenger, and I listened to them again. And again. And again. Soon I was begging him to send me whatever Bright Eyes songs he could find, and so my obsession began.

Last night I realized that so many of my teenage memories, like the one I just wrote down, are tied to Bright Eyes songs.
So when Conor and his band walked on stage, with his hair all in his face and a hoodie underneath his button up shirt, and they started up the opening of 'Four Winds', not only was I overcome by the power of that song, but by the memory of singing along with the aforementioned dear friend, having to fight to get it played at his own birthday party, and how it made us want to look up the Whore of Babylon on Wikipedia.
For pretty much the whole set, I felt like I was being emotionally assaulted, but in a good way; each song was tied to an old memory that resurfaced like a friendly ghost, taking my hand and taking me back to times and places I hadn't thought about in a while, but still hadn't forgotten. Something Vague took me back to that exact moment in 2004, while 'The Calendar Hung Itself ' led me to a family road trip where I, seventeen and surely,  had that song on repeat as we drove through fields upon fields of yellow grass. 'Lover I Don't Have to Love' nursed a friend's broken heart, and Road to Joy was just for me, for all those times I'd needed to be picked up off the ground.

In terms of the performance, it was loud, but not obnoxiously so, it was intense, and it was emotional. At some points Conor seemed like he was not quite there, but the part of him that was in the room with us gave us everything, throwing himself about and screaming his lyrics into the microphone; it was the perfect lesson in rocking out and still sounding FUCKING AMAZING (see Faker on how not to do this.)

And although I loved the intensity, my favourite moments were all quiet ones; I don't think I will ever forget how the room went dead silent for the whole opening of 'Poison Oak', until the song swelled to its climax and everybody lost their shit. The opening line of 'Landlocked Blues', and the first notes of 'Lua' on the acoustic guitar with also be burnt into my brain forever.
And, sure, his voice still shakes when he sings, but that's just one of the many things I love about him, because all the emotion that fueled the song when he wrote it is right there for you to hear.

Highlights (there's quite a lot of them): Something Vague, Landlocked Blues, Lua, Lover I Don't Have to Love (!!!), The Calendar Hung Itself (!!!!!), Road To Joy, Take It Easy (Love Nothing), Another Travllin' Song, Jejune Stars, Four Winds and Shell Games. And all the rest were damn good as well.

*This is not strictly true, I have just been placed in a Bright Eyes induced coma, and I expect to come out of it in a few days.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dinner Time!

Now for those of you who cook your own dinner every night, please ignore the following post because it may cause you to slap your forehead with your hand or wish upon me a terrible and painful death for having it so easy. Unless there is some sort of baking involved, I am widely known to be a pretty incompetent cook, but I decided recently that the only thing standing in the way of my competency was myself.
So on Sunday night I decided I would cook dinner, not just for myself but for the rest of my family as well. And I did it! I made a two course dinner all by myself!

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup
Lovely and I made this on Cup Day, but it was mostly him cooking and me trying to help :P We found this recipe on Instructables, a website that has instructions on how to make EVERYTHING EVER.

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves of Garlic
1 Onion sliced
2 pinches of Chilli Flakes ( I didn't use chilli cos my family and I don't like spicey things
2 pinches of Ground Ginger
400g of Sweet Potato
400ml of chicken or vegetable stock
200g Creamed Coconut
50g Fresh Coriander leaves chopped (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Coriander or Spinach to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the finely chopped onion and the crushed garlic. Gently fry off for 3-4 minutes until soft and golden brown.
Once the onion and garlic are cooked through add the chilli flakes, ground ginger frying for a further 2-3 minutes.
Then add the peeled and chopped sweet potato cooking for a further 2-3 minutes.
 Now add the stock (hot)  and coconut. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes.
Take care when adding hot liquid to a hot pan.
At this stage if you wish to add the optional chopped coriander leaves then do so.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool before pouring into a blender or food processor.
Beware of adding hot liquids to a blender. Hot liquids can scald!
Blend until a smooth and even consistency.

This recipe I found on a great website recommended to me by a friend of mine, Green Kitchen Stories. There is so much good vegetarian stuff on there, I want to learn to make all of it. But I thought I would start off with this. Baby Steps :) I wasn't quite ready to make a pizza base from scratch, so I'm just going to post the filling, because that's all I cooked. But if you would like to make the whole, because you are a much better cook than I, just click through the link and it will take you to the whole recipe.

Rustic Potato Pizza
3 medium size firm potatoes
2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
2 small spring onions
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
100 g goat cheese
salt & black pepper

Slice the potatoes thin with a mandoline or with a knife. Place the slices in a deep plate, drizzle them with salt and cover with cold water for about an hour. Drain the water, rinse the potatoes and pat them dry on a towel.
Brush the dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Cover it with potato slices, onion, rosemary, 3/4 of the goat cheese, salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the pizza and bake for about 15-18 min until the potatoes are golden and the edges are slightly burnt. Sprinkle the rest of the goat cheese over it and serve immediately.

I guess everyone liked it :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I'm so in love with this album I cannot even tell you how good it is. It will make that joy you're hiding swell within your chest and explode, even if you're in an awkward place like the supermarket or on a train, and if you really need to cry, it can help you with that too. Not since Little Earthquakes has an album spoken to me like this one. I could go on, but I will just say that Florence is a goddess and let you make your own decision about it.

I just found this written in the booklet, a forward by writer Emma Forrest.

"That their might be words to describe un-nameable feelings and melodies to describe those words is how an album can really make us feel less alone in the world. That longing for unnameable things is why we wear band t-shirts so we can recognise each other in the street"

"Your own love story? Your paramour may have had lovers before you. But no one has ever, ever heard this record before except you. Not the way you hear it. The songs are beautiful vampires, asleep in your iPod, coming alive at night, aglow. You can have them on your hours, all that power yours to conduct as Florence Welch used to try and conduct the ocean when she was an awkward chubby little girl
"I'll make a deal," she'd say to the waves, "You stay there. You don't come any closer."

That's it. That's exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn't cos she's clearly the superior wordsmith.

I also recommend you also get the deluxe edition, because not only do you get to read the rest of Emma's brilliant words, it comes with extra acoustic tracks that are just as lovely, and amazing photographs of Florence looking like a red haired Virginia Woolfe. Swoon

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