Archive for June, 2010

From the kitchen of Christine

Menu One

Culin of leek and smoked salmon

Potato Gratin
Veal escalopes with jambon and cornichons

Cheese plate

Frozen meringue and summer berry pudding


Menu Two

Hor d’oeuvres with homemade olive tapenade

Twice cooked lamb
Summer ratatouille

Cheese plate

Mini rice puddings with summer berries, fromage blanc and cream



A Summer Holiday

When one arrives for an internet-booked holiday, there’s an element of the unknown. What did they mean by “sleeps six”? Were the pictures reliable? At the most, one expects the host to provide a front door key and give instructions for the dishwasher. Christine and Christophe did immeasurably more than this. On our arrival, they ushered us into a storybook stone house,  purchased along with our neighbouring abode as dilapidated sheds, and slowly but surely restored to glory. Burgundy is stunningly beautiful; fields dotted with wild poppies spread around a patchwork of tiny villages made entirely of stone. It was as if modern life had simply been superimposed over a medieval backdrop. According to Christophe, the farmers in the village spend the winter co-habiting with their livestock in sheds adjoining the houses. Boggles the mind a little… Our gite looked much like my favourite shop, The Shed. Christine’s paintings adorned every wall and bunches of fresh flowers were arranged on each shelf. A pair of Liberty curtains hung in one of the bedrooms. I could tell we were destined to be friends.

Over the course of the week, our two hosts peppered us with gestures of welcome. Christophe conducted visits to local winemakers, drew maps, poured aperitifs and illuminated French life generally. Christine’s kindnesses seemed boundless. Some gestures were small (lending me her daughter’s French magazines, picking bunches of lavender and thyme to dry), most were much bigger (leaving a delectable meal on our return from Paris, leading an expedition to local markets, buying a Burgundy cook book as an “early birthday present”, conducting cooking lessons in her beautiful kitchen and serving the results as leisurely five course meals). Christine is without doubt my favourite thing about France.

Other highlights:

Tour of Chateau de Cormatin, which looked as if its seventeenth century owners might just be about somewhere…

Regaining my schoolgirl French (thankyou Miss Valenti) and a surprising amount of vocab from years of learning ballet (thankyou Miss Danielle)

Eating croissants with Christine’s own jam made with the produce of her cherry tree and blackcurrant bushes

Revisiting Paris, taking in the breathtaking Musee d’Orsay and buying knives from E. Dehillerin.

Going to bed with the sun at 10pm

The incredible produce market at Chalon, where cream was dispensed from watering cans and local farmers mingled freely with their consumers.

Taking leisurely bike rides and stumbling upon ruined castles

Finding no time left for knitting, sewing or reading

Discovering a love of terrines








Happy birthday MavisandFrank

Oh la la Liberty Bunting

I can hardly believe it. Today my little Etsy store MavisandFrank turns one. It started with a borrowed sewing machine, some pretty fabric, a little boredom; a way to rescue my brain from becoming something resembling the texture of cooked eggplant. Though it’s been tough and tiring at times, my little enterprise has been a lifeline in these first few months in Germany. Simple things have become harder (buying beads, filling out customs forms), but I still get a little thrill each time I send a package off on a long journey to somewhere I will probably never go.

In other news, we’re now home safe from a glorious week in beautiful Burgundy (more tomorrow, I promise). Oh, and Australia has a new Prime Minister…

Oh la la Liberty Bunting by Ravenhill

Taking candy from a baby

One European practice that still seems strange to my antipodean sensibilities is the custom of offering gifts to babies and children. Rose is regularly presented with all manner of goodies from local shopkeepers. Often it’s a piece of cold meat from the deli counter, or a small treat from the bakery. Usually however, it’s a highly inappropriate but enticing gift, such as a lollipop. The gift is not put through the net of parental decision, it’s almost always pressed directly into Rose’s waiting hand. So far this hasn’t been too disastrous. Wrapped in their noisy plastic wrapping and gleaming prettily in the sun, lollipops have made quite good makeshift toys. Until now. Today when our friend at the pizza place presented Rose with a shiny red pop, somehow she knew instinctively that this was no toy. She began tugging and pulling at the plastic. The striving increased in intensity, accompanied by grunts of appeal for me to unleash the prize within. Given that we were in public I took a calculated risk, figuring her chubby fingers were safely feeble… and then suddenly the wrapper was off. You may guess what ensued. As the sideways glances gradually ceased and her cries of protest at last died down, I realised that we’d crossed a line. And we can never, ever go back.

A perfect pincushion

My husband puts up with a good deal for the sake of my craft. Pins lying around the house do not fall into that category. His relationship with sewing really deteriorated one day when he stepped on a pin cushion. The plucking of pins and needles from the foot of one’s husband is a regretful task. I wonder, would he have stepped on one of these?

Linen  pincushion - crochet motif

Linen pincushion – crochet motif by Namolio

pin cushion (56)

Pin Cushion by moniamano

pin cushion

Pincushion by olivebrown

Strawberry Cupcake Pin Cushion

Strawberry Cupcake Pincushion by jacksbeanstalk


Hedgehog Pincushion by strawberriesandcream

Vintage Scottish Wool Tartan and Recycled Denim Pin Cushion

Vintage Scottish Wool Tartan and Recycled Denim Pincushion by ecozee

Pincushions for the sewing enthusiast

Pincushions for the Sewing Enthusiast by karmologyclinic

Heart Pin Cushion

Heart Pincushion by ThePitbullBarNGrill

Blue Velvet Teacup Pincushion - Fit for a Queen - Five Matching Pin Toppers

Blue Velvet Teacup Pincushion – pincushioncrazy346

Pincushion Ring - Red Velvet

Pincushion Ring – Red Velvet by madeinlowell

little linen pincushion

Little Linen Pincushion by PrarieSeed

Tomatoes - Set of Two

Set of Two Tomatoes by seventytwostitches

Emery Pincushion - Felt Cup of Hot Tea

Emery Pincushion – Felt Cup of Hot Tea by dottyral

World Cup Woe

The words “wir sind aus Australien” are usually greeted with interested nodding and bemused expressions. Today they elicited outright laughter. Disinterested as I am in professional sport, it was rather mortifying to witness the complete annihilation of the Socceroos by Germany last night, on German television no less. For each spectacular goal, our apartment complex erupted with horn blasts, whistles and cheering. Stuttgart is awash with German regalia, all of which seems designed to remind any resident Australian of their defeat. This is hard to shrug off, even for even the most unpatriotic expat. In all this there was a little comfort. It was given the briefest coverage possible so I may have just imagined it, but it seems Hewitt beat Federer yesterday. C’mon.

Pocket money

I think I’ve figured out why Europe’s economy is in strife. Everyone’s having trouble finding their small change. I now realise why the Australian government took away my carefully saved copper coins in the early 90s. One and two cent coins are the most troublesome things on earth. Every few weeks, I gather up the shrapnel collecting in our dish, our wallets and pockets, and discover that I have several kilograms worth. I then lug this down to one of Botnang’s three supermarkets to diligently use it up. Of course, counting out any amount in copper coins is an agonising process. My clumsiness with the coinage coincides with the German style of grocery shopping, whereby one must unpack their groceries, move through the checkout saying “hallo” to the checkout person, produce bags and repack their groceries, pay and take change and (crucially) move away from the checkout to make room for the next shopper, in the space of around thirty seconds. When it comes time for me to pay, I feel the eyes of every person in the room boring into me as I fumble with handfuls of change. The seconds tick by. I panic, drop coins and eventually thrust a note into the waiting hand. I then head home with my original coin collection, plus the handful I just received in change. Being clearly foreign and looking a little pathetic, I’m usually favoured with patient smiles and piteous glances by my German counterparts as all this unfolds. Nevertheless, it’s enough to leave me feeling about the size of a one cent coin.

About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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I Make…

Handmade Baby Shorts in Liberty's 'Cordelia'

Handmade Necklace in 'Fairford' $21

Handmade Bead Necklace in 'Wiltshire' $21

Handmade Bracelet in 'Fairford' $15

I Took The Handmade Pledge!