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    Vegan freakshakes in Canberra

    Posted in Canberra, Lifestyle
    April 30th, 2016

    Freakshakes! They originated from Canberra’s very own Pâtissez, and burst from Australia, onto the world stage, with great media hubbub in July 2015.

    …and now there’s a vegan-friendly version at both Canberra stores! It’s now going to be a permanent fixture on the menu but the flavour option might change every month or so.

    Currently, the Vegân Freak is:

    “Lychee coconut shake – raspberry coulis – coconut vanilla bean mousse – coconut chips – lychee, raspberry & coconut icecream pop (holy mother of vegans this thing does not taste vegan).”

    Vegan freakshake at Patissez Manuka, Canberra, Australia

    So sweet, so coconut

    I had a Vegân Freak yesterday (not quite as sexy as it sounds! But almost…) at the Canberra Manuka store.  I was a bit worried about the lychee element as I’ve tried to avoid eating them after seeing a particular scene in We need to talk about Kevin. But they were tricky to detect in the shake, so that was for the best.

    I had told the staff I found out about the Vegân Freak from Vegan ACT. I heard them saying to each other something like, “It was through a secret vegan society!”. I’m sworn to secrecy regarding whether I can confirm if SVS exists or not.

    Oh the shake was so overwhelming. So much sweetness, so much coconut (this has also been mentioned by others, too). I was determined! I was hardcore! But I failed (softcore). I had skipped lunch but it still didn’t work, and I was so hopeful that I’d do better than my last competitive eating foray. But I just couldn’t finish it, so very sad and I so hate food waste. My gameplan was based on the architecture, starting at the top. I ate the icecream pop, then 50% of the mousse, then super-sculled most of the liquid. And then I felt as overly sweet as Shirley Temple (the child actor, but I guess also her namesake beverage). The shakes are the smaller size compared to the “origin” freakshakes, but there’s still so much in a serving! The description describes it as “not tasting vegan” – I don’t know what to say about that, but it does have a really overt cream-fat kind of taste, so it’s kind of accurate?

    I appreciate that Pâtissez now offers a vegan freakshake option, and it’s also encouraging for there to be an something for those with dairy allergies. Apparently Pâtissez are developing a vegan chocolate freakshake for Winter – which is so good, we don’t need everything to be fruit-based! (there are some other great flavour suggestions on their facebook page). It would also be beneficial to have some vegan beta-testers. I volunteer as tribute!

    When I went to pay, they said, “1 vegan freak?”, and I said, yes, thinking of Bob and Jenna Torres’ book, Hello my name is vegan freak: being vegan in a non-vegan world.

    Vegan burger at Patissez, Civic, Canberra, Australia

    Best vegan burger ever! (sorry Mum)

    Today’s follow-up (quality assurance!) visit was to the Canberra City (Civic) store, I had the only vegan main option, the Veg Head burger with fries and Pâtissez special sauce:

    “Herby chickpea, corn & sweet potato patty, charred zucchini, roast capsicum, grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, vegan aioli, house marinated fetta cheese.”

    Damn, it was the best vegan burger I’ve had (in case my Mum’s reading, it’s not as good as your bean-patty one! But if you’re not reading, then it’s the best). Like, even better than the one at Red Lime Shack in Adelaide. It was so good. I did ask the Pâtissez staff a lot of questions, and confirmed that the chips were fried in cottonseed oil, and that the aioli is done on a soy base (not sure if this is a fortified type, though). Staff were obliging, but I think that there needs to be a quick FAQ or better team-briefing, given that many people with allergies will often opt for the vegan menu item and have questions.

    Vegan freakshake at Patissez Civic, Canberra, Australia

    The beast, legend & challenge.

    My friend E had the Vegân Freak, so we could compare it with my yesterday-version at Manuka. I sternly warned her that I couldn’t even complete it, but she said she was “born for this”.

    And annoyingly, she truly was! (but reassured me that it was due to my coaching). The evidence is as follows…

    Completed Vegan freakshake at Patissez, Civic, Canberra, Australia

    Damn, she did it

    Yesterday, I found that the trick after my shake-fail was to get some vegan chips from Grill’d to get a good savoury/salt balance (very soon after!).

    As a modified version of the ye olde technique of McDonald’s dipping chips in a sundae, E utilised some of my Pâtissez burger side-fries as freakshake dippers. I think we need to register this an innovative concept for the IDEAS BOOM. I hope Pâtissez will think it’s a good idea to start serving a tiny cup of chips with freakshakes! (you’re welcome!)

    Freakshake Google trends graph showing interest over time

    Freakshake Google trends graph

    It can be tricky to find out about freakshakes, as I think the term has now been copyrighted or trademarked by Pâtissez, and they recommend tagging with #Patissez and #FreakShakes

    When I was trying to get a trend graph from Factiva, I found it a bit complex (because of the terms) and experimented with advanced search commands like freak and shake* near each other, or dessert-topped shakes, but I didn’t really get anything satisfyingly representative, so the image above is from data source Google trends. You can see the clear peak in popularity in July last year, and then it all gets a bit muddied with the varying names, etc. …and it didn’t seem to allow truncation symbols, so I used both freakshake and freakshakes, in addition to Pâtissez. Even if the interest doesn’t continue over time, it looks as though the cafe is continuing with innovative food offerings – I’m hopeful that will result in more vegan options, too!

    The freakshake phenomenon is just part of the Frankenfood portmanteaus, and it could possibly be compared with the vegan Plant-based Disgrace in Sydney. I’m keen to try the Disgrace, but given my lack of success in finishing Vegân Freak, I might have to share it with a few other people.

    As always, this post isn’t sponsored and all food etc. is at my own cost. I’d love to know if you also thought the Vegân Freak was super intense! Or if you’ve been lucky enough to eat the Disgrace.

    Canberra underpass art walk from 5 years ago

    Posted in Canberra
    February 29th, 2016

    *Begin crumbly old Canberra voice*

    Back in my day, there wasn’t much for the young folk to do. So it was easy to remember bad public art or silly wayfinders. At the old underpass near the Hyatt (leading to the National Library), there was a strange Noah mural which was partially obscured by a rambling travelling story. Apart from that, your Mum would say not to hang out in underpasses but never really explained why.

    Jesus mural (July 2011)

    Jesus mural (July 2011)

    Then in mid-2011, there was a magic burst of art treasure in this underground den. Majestic seers and creatures by Abyss, and heaps of other pieces all through the tunnel. I’m sorry to be unsure of the other people who made this in just one night, but maybe a good hunt through the screaming wall would garner results.

    Your time is limited but your imagination is not (July 2011)

    Your time is limited but your imagination is not (July 2011)

    It’s sentimental, but I still remember the feeling of walking through, the wonder at all these new shiny creations. I loved thinking of all the public servants (including me) that were going to see it all (on the way to their offices), and be inspired for the rest of the day.

    Create (July 2011)

    Create (July 2011)

    And then the crushing beige cover-ups afterwards. Reminds me of a legend of an art gallery director who would add a layer of brown paint in order to “antique” paintings, also called “gravying” (in rather poor taste).

    Rabbit detail (July 2011)

    Rabbit detail (July 2011)

    Even though these are from a long time ago, I hope that with the new Street Art Coordinator, there will be support for reinvigorating Canberra’s urban spaces. And so that questionable religious murals won’t stay up for more than 10 years and act as a navigational aid for hapless young Canberrans – rather, that they can work out where they are with engaging and beautiful changing art.

    Health food shops in Canberra

    Posted in Lifestyle
    December 31st, 2015

    Just in time for healthy new year’s resolutions! Canberra has some wonderful (but not always easy to find/know about) health food shops and places to bulk-buy or bring your own containers. Make sure you check they’ve definitely re-opened after the holidays!

    I have a theory about the proximity of health food shops and art galleries – a good opportunity to improve your entire health and outlook…

    South Canberra

    Mountain Creek Wholefoods

    Dry goods at Mountain Creek

    Mountain Creek Wholefoods, Griffith: A classic favourite. Extensive, intense tea range and lots of health shop products, dry goods that can be measured out (hot tip: there are even barrels under the counter), and a separate area with lots of eco-gifts. Great range of frozen goods and a lovely café to boot.

    Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.

    Closest gallery: M16 artspace

    Let's be natural

    Just part of Let’s be natural

    Let’s be natural, Mawson: The giantest health-food shop! Their display of bring-your-own-container goods is overwhelming. Lovely vibe and they have the easiest discount club, it’s an automatic percentage off every visit, you don’t have to remember anything. I think there have been yoga classes in the past as it’s such a big space, and beauty treatments are also available.

    Parking: Free (specific time limits), very close.

    Closest gallery: Mawson Gallery

    Greenway organic, Tuggeranong

    Front window of Greenway organic

    Greenway organic, Tuggeranong: Interesting ingredients, staples like nutritional yeast and dairy-free ice-cream. Lots of dry goods for dietary requirements e.g. celiacs, as well as frozen food and a wide range of chocolate bars. They get new products in a lot, but it can be worthwhile to phone to check that what you need is in stock.

    Parking: Free (Don’t park at Homeworld as it’s very expensive, usually Hyperdome is best as you can get a few hours free), relatively close. Or nearby on-street parking near the restaurant strip exit.

    Closest gallery: Tuggeranong Arts Centre

    North Canberra

    As Nature Intended, Belconnen

    Through the window of As Nature Intended

    As Nature Intended, Belconnen markets: Lots of what you’d expect in a health food shop plus fruit and vegetables and delicious cakes (see the cabinet). Really good vegan frozen food options, and lots of beauty products. Similar to Mountain Creek as it has a café component (very big) but many more meal options.

    Parking: Paid, nearby carpark.

    Closest gallery: Belconnen Arts Centre

    ANU Food Co-op

    Through the window at the Food Co-op

    ANU Food Co-op, Acton: Community-based, non-profit cooperative with bring-your-own-container options. Also sweets, vegan cheeses, unusual vegetables and fruit. Similar to As Nature Intended and Mountain Creek in that there’s an in-store café (the lunches are great value and generally vegan).

    It has been around for ages, I don’t remember when it was in the Union building, but before the current bricks-and-mortar, it was in a transportable building near the Law Courts, and prior to that, a different transportable near the current site.

    Parking: There is a loading zone out the front, but it’s more polite & good karma to park in the proper spots. There is a useful map on the Co-op’s website.

    Closest gallery: Drill Hall Gallery

    Naked foods, Braddon

    Peepshow at Naked foods

    Naked foods, Braddon: I must admit, I was surprised when this opened, given the long-standing ANU Food Coop isn’t too far away. This is on my “to visit” list, as I never seem to get there during opening hours – “The store is set out in the style of a lolly shop – but the wares for sale are anything but.” – …and I’m like a little kid leaning my head on the glass trying to open sesame the doors.

    Parking: Paid, nearby or up the road.

    Closest gallery: KIN Gallery (check out the Hamlet in general)

    and the best for last…

    Canberra Organic Food Collective, Dickson: Grass-roots, affordable organic dry foods. Bring your own container options, it’s easy to decide what you want to order from the price-list (kilogram quantities).  The only place I’ve found in Canberra that sells real, genuine, potent cinnamon. Worth it for that alone, but also other good spices, rice, nuts, beans and more.

    Parking: Free, on-street.

    Closest gallery: ANCA


    There are a few health food shop chain stores in Canberra (Go Vita, Healthy Life), but they are pretty easy to find so I haven’t listed them. You can also buy health foods in giant containers at Costco (dates etc.), but I didn’t visit there as I balk at paying a nightclub cover charge, let alone a discount shop admission fee. I have found that Supabarn have really well-stocked and unusual “health food” aisles, too. And some places I’ve missed are in this fulsome list from Vegan ACT.

    For fresh vegetables and groceries, there are lots of good independent places like Choku Bai Jo, the regular farmers’ markets (North and South), Fyshwick markets, Organic energy, markets at the Botanic Gardens, and more…

    As always, this post is not sponsored (my own time, money and opinions), but probably contains some South/North Canberra bias! All photos are from today apart from the Let’s Be Natural one (taken in April).

    Homesick festival

    Posted in Lifestyle
    July 17th, 2015

    The Scandinavian Film Festival is only running in Canberra for 9 more days (it opened on Tuesday), so it’s a short time to see all the Norwegian features. It has four Norwegian films: Beatles, Homesick, Out of Nature and Underdog. Apart from enjoying the movies, hearing the Norsk pronunciation really helps to get a sense of the language (and I need all the help I can get!).

    Tonight I saw Homesick (De nærmeste) (it screens again next week), you may have seen an intimate shot from it in the Festival’s promotions.

    Poster at Palace Electric

    Poster at Palace Electric

    Before I saw the movie, I was really thinking of the concept of homesickness, and how it relates to my heritage. The story was a lot more confronting than I expected – and I had planned to see it again as Norwegian practice, but I won’t be doing that and definitely not with family! I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just say that generally I thought that Charlotte had a unique vulnerability and an abandonment pattern. The motif of family jewellery was really powerful, with the circle of a necklace symbolising group membership. It was very challenging, I felt more awkwardness in it than a satisfying “Nordic melancholia”. I noticed a few different words though, so it wasn’t without benefit.

    SKI jumper

    SKI jumper

    One good thing about the movie was seeing another moviegoer in this wondrous and totally relevant home-knitted jumper. He said a friend made it 20 years ago. The front had SKI knitted in navy, little Vs picked out on the white woolly snow expanse. He didn’t understand why I was so enthralled with it, I can’t really explain it either.

    I’d like to have a proper immersion experience in Norwegian culture – I guess the point of this is that not every part of a country will be what you want to watch. It is odd to feel homesick for a place you don’t really know – a sort of hiraeth. My family is Norwegian, and having grown up in Australia, I’d like to have a better sense of Norway to help resolve my anaemic cultural identity. It’s existing in that interstitial space between, when your name means people regularly ask about your background but the answer never satisfies, it’s the pieces that don’t match up. When I worked in hospitality (15 years ago), an older colleague said he gained such a feeling of connection when he went back to the “mother country”, seeing behaviours in context which then increased his self-understanding. I didn’t grasp the significance at the time, but he said that one day I’d be overcome by a nostalgic longing for my heritage. He was right.

    Fiona Watson has said that homesickness can be triggered by anything: “You see an image and it immediately goes straight to your heart.” Mary Jaksch highlights the importance of visiting the landscape of your parents and grandparents: “I now know where I come from, and have reconnected with my roots.”

    City News' Canberra Confidential

    City News’ Canberra Confidential

    Recently the City News’ Canberra Confidential column chortled at Visit Canberra being a bit “excitable” for tweeting about resources for researching the wartime experiences of relatives (family history research and geneaology). They must never have felt the satisfaction of discovering how your ancestors met (on an overnight boat trip, and married the next day), gaining knowledge about future propensity for medical conditions (sitting at a table-full of people, all with intense party tricks due to hypermobile joints), the spookiness of seeing your features in an ancestor’s portrait or learning about your namesake. Perhaps documenting and preserving your family story isn’t what everyone would choose in a holiday, but for some it’s a definite drawcard for visiting Canberra (the AWM, NLA, AIATSIS, ACTHL, NGA and more). Increased traffic to these institutions shows that for many people, family history and genealogy IS exciting. Genealogists (tourists and locals) contribute to Canberra’s economy and have a deep appreciation for our cultural institutions, collections and their services.

    If  it’s not exciting to learn about the past, the success of Who do you think you are? as a television program must be an anomaly.

    I have a searing hope that I might visit Norway again soon. I like the idea of carrying places within us, “…keeping the old environment alive inside…” (this quote was in a very different context, but it’s from van Tilburg, M. & Vingerhoets, A., Psychological aspects of geographical moves: homesickness and acculturation stress, Amsterdam University Press, 2007, p. 106). In the meantime, I’ll hope to enjoy the other movies in the festival and keep watching Desperate Housewives with Norwegian subtitles.

    Peak Canberra

    Posted in blogjune
    June 8th, 2015

    I had a #PeakCanberra long weekend – Mad Max movie, lyra at circus class, OBD markets, Sweet Bones brunch, Urban Sketchers sketch-up, Ethiopian restaurant, vegan caramel slice from our charming guests, and the Medieval Fest at Old Parliament House. I even patted 2 cats today on a walk. I also got a 92 combo in Pokemon Shuffle.

    It was pretty good but of course that’s prettified to not include a fire evacuation, cooking, driving, gym and errands (returning library books etc.). I’ve just realised that prettified is so much like petrified. I don’t mind scaring or ossifying the beige tape of life into stone. The beige tape sculptures could be made into a Vigeland park for the damned.

    Horse from Canberra Beijing Garden


    For Sunday morning’s sketch-up (Canberra Sketchers Group – Urban Sketchers Australia), the weather was not the best. As Sharon said, “I think people will get the idea, as a group, we are as tough as old boots, but the next meeting place has an indoors option which I am sure will be warmer.” …even if the group is as tough as old boots, my toes were freezing! So I drew a little bit in the Canberra Beijing Garden, then piked and went inside the Hyatt, listened to the piano-man, drew a few roses and then left early. I have sternly told my feet to “think like boots, become boots”. Leonie had a bit more focus and anti-freeze!

    Lax as I was, I was pleased to attend because I came up against so many psychological barriers to actually going – it was cold, it was morning, I couldn’t find a proper bit of drawing paper, my pencils sucked, all my Winter clothes were in the wash, and I was late. However, I remembered advice from Alicia, Having Cake transformational coach, about the importance of imperfect action. She has written a bit about perfectionism on her site. So, I turned up and I coped, wearing Mr S’ heavy winter coat, unsuitable shoes, dreadful lined paper and the only pencils I could find (I pulverised the tip of my pastel pencil while I was trying to find the Chinese gardens).

    Despite all these things, I had a pleasant time, found the gardens themselves, met some nice people (including another new person – thank the goddess!), thought about my focus on “the perfect drawing materials”, saw some waterbirds, made up a murder story about a boat (it has a cover on it that looks mummified), focused on the sculptures and saw details that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and admired the Hyatt’s carpets (the patterns in the large rug areas look a lot like stylised tyre skid patterns). It was worth the imperfection.

    Family portraits at BAC

    Posted in blogjune
    June 6th, 2015

    Recently we visited Echoes in Time, Vivien Lightfoot’s exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre, with Arlis/ANZ last week (this is the ACT chapter of the Arts Libraries Society Australia/New Zealand).

    James Shepherd and Ann Thorn by Vivien Lightfoot

    James and Ann by Vivien Lightfoot

    The family portraits are really the next step in genealogy, a visualised family tree based on photographs of Lightfoot’s forebears. There was no image of Ann Thorn, so her face is an enticing blank canvas. I was thinking about how much information we lose through death – the exhibition begins with family from 1800, it’s surprising that there’s only one person who has no remaining documented likeness.

    Making the ceramic forms and conducting the research, like all family history, was a labour of love, and would have grown the relationship between the artist and her ancestors, across time and space.

    It’s the last day of the exhibition tomorrow – it closes at 4pm. It’s well worth seeing just to appreciate the strength and depth of family connections.

    Rose mattress

    Posted in blogjune
    June 29th, 2014


    Hello possums.


    In the Adelaide hills, rose plants are being put in large enclosures (cages) to protect them from the possums. My mother-in-law calls the possums “those furry bastards” because they savage all her plants (and thirst after roses) even though she planted some natives specifically for them. She blames the population explosion on the people that feed them bread and honey – if you don’t bring an offering, they bite your feet through the sandals. I guess toes can look pretty appetising, like human sausages with a little ridge cap nail on the end. A delicacy.


    Free range rose in Canberra

    Gaol-striped rose


    I love these striped Floribunda-type roses – they remind me of carnation experiments at Questacon. When I was little, a science fair had them all lined up, each stem sucking up different colours to change the petals. The best rose-lust blog is Rosomanes by Masha.


    There is something poetic and Magritte-like about keeping a rose in an aviary, like a songbird with clipped wings.


    There is a lot of development in the Adelaide Hills area, so this is removing one structure for possums (gum trees with delectable blossoms) and replacing it with a new structure for the plants (rosy gaol), all so that we can have a new structure for people (houses in an area where they can admire what’s left of the “natural” scenery). As Lindy Stacker (wildlife care volunteer) says, “People wouldn’t have noticed possums 50 years ago because they had a habitat,”.


    Foster possum in Canberra

    Possum snooze


    One of my friends fosters orphaned or injured possums. In Canberra this is through ACT Wildlife (go to their site to donate), but other Australian states/territories have different arrangements and organisations. There are some useful tips from RSPCA ACT and TAMS.


    I was surprised to see that possums even like the taste of Andrew Bolt’s garden:


    Having a curtain of flowers turned into a ghastly skeleton has broken my heart…”

    (Bolt, A. (2012, June 25). Cracking from paws and effect. Herald Sun, p. 13. Retrieved from Factiva.


    A life and death sentence for delicious roses (and possums).



    Cosy wintry markets

    Posted in blogjune
    June 28th, 2014


    Warming and cosy, this was the promise from the Mid Winter Markets at Belconnen Arts Centre. The bad weather cooperated and made sure that after a rainy dash we were ready for hot mulled wine and in a scarf-buying mood. The only way to improve this rainy day outing would be to have an indoor fireplace, non-gelatine marshmallows and an expansive shag rug (next year, perhaps?).


    I bought a small dragon saucer from Paul Dumetz, it will be handy for earrings. Ms L bought some arm snuggies from one of the many knitters, plus a necklace from Barbara McGann of PaperArt and the Tiny Gallery.


    Hillgrove Pottery tiny houses

    Buy a new house


    Hillgrove Pottery’s tiny ceramic houses (some with metallic roofing) were adorable and very popular – how could you resist, at $2 each with the sign “Buy a New House mortgage free: now you can afford the whole street”.


    There are drunken houses on their facebook page, perhaps a less reliable housing option than the small ones. A shining beacon at the end of the grim tunnel of Canberra’s housing situation, at least if  you’re Arrietty.


    Macrame by Annette Boyd Art + Design

    Macrame sculptures


    I loved the handmade macramé sculptures and hanging pots by Annette Boyd Art + Design, there was quite a crowd of people enjoying reminiscing about “old macramé” and legwarmers. These ones are beautiful and there are much better pictures on her facebook page showing a previous macramé display at The Front.


    In my work library, I’d seen the catalogue for Unruly orchestrations exhibition which is at BAC till tomorrow, so I was pleased to have caught it during the market day. I was most looking forward to Sandra Burr’s artist book Unruly creatures, documenting street art with a focus on non-human animals. Her booklets on the table were divided into many categories, and I’d liked to have spent longer looking at them. I recognised a few walls which have since been covered over – as social history maybe the photos/artist books could be included in the ACT Heritage Library’s collection? You can see more Canberra graffiti photographs on Jack Crash’s The Screaming Wall.


    It was fun to get out of the usual market groove and see different local handmade products and enjoy the live music. I’m looking forward to next year’s markets, or maybe they could have an end-of-winter one too.



    Vegan cake in Canberra

    Posted in blogjune
    June 24th, 2014


    Cupcake lust means that I often forget to take a picture of pretty cakes before desire takes over. Here are my unscientific findings – I was impressed by the six factors for tasting mayonnaise in Gladwell’s Blind: the power of thinking without thinking, but I haven’t worked out a cupcake scale. More testing required.


    Following, what I hope is an almost comprehensive list of vegan cake sources in Canberra:


    Sweet bones vegan cupcake

    Pretty patterns


    Sweet Bones (Braddon): Very high-profile vegan business in Canberra. Fancy swirly icing and a fair amount of cake in the patty pan.


    Raw vegan cake at The Front Cafe Lyneham

    Fruity passion


    The Front Gallery and Café (Lyneham): Fairly recent vegan caterer, with wonderful local raw cake made by Celeste of Raw Capers.


    Veganarchy (Bus Depot Markets, various): Gabby’s vegan cupcakes are wonderful, the best flavour is chocolate peanut butter.


    Crafted3 (Canberra Farmers Markets, various): Natalie’s vegan meringues are fantastic (I used to get them with fruit at Mornings in Paris, see below). Cupcakes are on my to-do list.


    Cake Cabinet (on order): Creative luxe cakes made by Nie-kiewa, check out the “In the Cabinet” galleries and prepare to be amazed.


    My Rainbow Dreams (Dickson): Not really a cake, but their walnut and choc chip biscuits have just the right mix of salty and sweet. Honorary cupcake.


    The Green Way Organic (Hyperdome in Tuggeranong): Not a café, but they stock Naked Treaties which include raw cake and imitation raw chocolate bars (“nickers”).


    I haven’t yet tried the cakes at Jazz Apple Café (Civic), or the sweets at V Spot Café (Civic – apparently they have Naked Treaties and maybe some Raw Capers products).


    …my very favourite veg* places tend to close down, so I keep my favourites close like a gastronomic spirit animal (they might be mentioned here but I haven’t given them the f-word). My last favourite place was Mornings in Paris (Nicholls), which closed earlier this year and had just the best homemade vegan icecream. Before that it was Bernadette’s Café (Ainslie) which I think closed in the 2000s, and prior to that, it was the Ridge Organic Restaurant (Farrer). Actually the last one hasn’t closed, but it was vegetarian and now it isn’t. If they have vegan options, I might go back there one day.



    Art lunch in Parliamentary Triangle

    Posted in blogjune
    June 19th, 2014


    Vegan fare has made leaps and bounds since my last “Vegan in the Parliamentary Triangle” update (April 2014) on vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. I’ll do an actual, thorough update towards the end of the year, as I haven’t had time to go to lunch everywhere yet (plus it’s only been 2 months!).


    Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery) still has vegan quinoa salad on their everyday lunch menu. It’s great that this item has continued and I hope this is due to the statistical significance of the vegan dollar. Plus their across-the-road neighbours, National Gallery of Australia is now catering to vegans!


    Vegan curry of the day at NGA cafe, Canberra

    Curry of the day


    The exciting development since my April lunch-around (mentioned above) is that the NGA Café (National Gallery of Australia), now offers “vegan curry of the day” as an everyday $15 lunch menu item. I haven’t tried it that often to be aware of the different types available, but it’s been good 2 times, so signs point to positive.


    Custom vegan dessert at NGA cafe, Canberra

    Custom dessert


    If you’re organised and can phone ahead (preferably the day before), vegan dessert can also be arranged (I think it’s usually less than $10, might depend on the day).


    Today’s dessert had syruped strawberries, almonds and quinoa cream – sort of a healthy rice pudding.


    Previous custom vegan desserts have been similar quinoa cream based desserts with fruit and crunchy bits (delicious but unknown). Rumour has it that there may be a possibility of getting vegan mudcake sometime.


    I would rate the curry as meeting the requirements of 3 Canberra Beanies (convenience, health factor, cost). I would rate the dessert as an almost 3 (maybe 2.8?), because it would be more convenient if it didn’t require pre-order.


    Now that there is the achievement of vegan savoury items on the regular gallery menus, I hope that vegan desserts are the next frequent feature, not just for vegans but also our dairy-free friends.



    When Woden was Braddon

    Posted in blogjune
    June 18th, 2014


    Having grown up in Canberra, I remember when Woden was trendy, and actually called Woden Plaza before the corporate W took over. There was a giant fountain area near Centrepoint Plaza (did it get removed because of the fish?), the mindbending Camel Train shop in the interchange, the Cosmopolitan Twin Cinemas and Snake Pit nearby plus the bowling alley.


    The Camel Train was my favourite place – slightly forbidden and just so full. There’s a wonderful photo in the Canberra Times (1992, May 5) that shows how crowded it was with jewellery, candles, clothes, everything. I think it opened around 1982 (before that it might’ve been Aladdin’s Cave, a rug shop), and I’m not sure of when it actually closed. Some of the more recent uses of the space have been as a Christian book shop and now a mini-mart.

     Sculptured Form by Margel Hinder, Woden, Canberra


    My focus was so much on the Camel Train and the fountain that I never really connected with Hinder’s sculpture (look closely in the picture in that link, you can see a maroon sign for the Camel Train on the right! The photo was taken from the fountain side, you can see the steps leading down). In the photo above, the fountain and steps used to be in the same location as the fancy paving.


    Now that the sculpture is under maintenance, I chastise myself that I didn’t love it more when it was free range. It is much easier to feel the pain of art that is a battery hen, a sense of loss. There is a sticker on it which says “Please don’t litter your mind”. I look forward to a cleaner and happier sculpture being free at the end of August.


    The artsACT site notes the benefits of keeping the sculpture healthy:

    “By polishing the aluminium surface to a soft patina, and allowing it to bulge around the middle, the sculpture resembles a large soft heart, appearing to be made of several chambers but actually one connected and vital whole.”


    Woden’s heart in a cage.


    Snake pit in progress, 1994, Woden, Canberra

    Koala ghost


    The Snake Pit was painted by community groups. This “in progress” shot dates from 1994, from a 2005 report on ACT Government public art.


    Snake Pit, Woden, Canberra

    A bit sad


    Here is the Snake Pit today – the entry is where you used to get into the movies. Capital Yarns even spun a tale of Snake Pit Armageddon, perhaps that’s what happened.


    I have fond memories of the bowling alley too – I wonder how the space is used now, it is in the weird island building in the middle of the interchange – as well as the cinema. It was a magical place, just like our beloved Electric shadows. It is easy to love the past when you’re no longer in it.


    We weren’t actually allowed to hang out in Woden very much, because of the horrifying missing person case of Megan Louise Mulquiney that is still unsolved. Her unknown story is really the only truly heartbreaking part of the place, I’m not really sure what else to say. Please click to see her profile on the Missing Persons website.



    Sunday session

    Posted in blogjune
    June 8th, 2014


    A lovely Braddon/Kingston date with L, we devoured vegan choc peanut butter smothies from Sweet Bones and admired the charming upcycled furnishings from guerrilla gallery, The Lost & Found Office (above the Hive).


    Lamps at The Lost and Found Office, Braddon Canberra

    Lamps at Lost and Found


    My favourite things were the insect lampshade and the Alicia Kane ceramic muglets for succulents. Ben and Bobbie of Lost & Found said they’re going to do events like “Canberra on the Couch” conversations.


    Graffiti and ceramics at The Lost and Found Office, Braddon, Canberra

    Zap! at Lost and Found


    Our next stop was Old Bus Depot Markets, but we were sad because Veganarchy was away so we were deprived of the best vegan cupcakes in Canberra. One stallholder had a dazzling collection of gemstones including Australian amethyst, plus ammonite fossils that are millions of years old. As Mary E. White of the Canberra Lapidary Club says,


    “The stone you picked up and held in your hands was indeed a talisman. It had the power to open doors for you to enter a new and fascinating realm, and to tell you something about the ancient prehistoric world in which it had its genesis.”


    Stewie the dog



    I only reached a 2 on my #PatADay score, but they were both unbearably cute small dogs. Stewie in the picture got his name because “He’s a baby who wants to take over the world”. He was a sweet, but rather uncooperative model!



    Snip snip

    Posted in blogjune
    June 6th, 2014


    A recent haircut for the grass near Questacon and Reconciliation Place (Parliamentary Triangle, Canberra). The stark contrast of the “before” and “after” sections reminds me of an exhibition (years ago) at ANU’s Photospace Gallery where the artist documented hair growth (I’m sorry, the details elude me).


    Before and after grass near Questacon and National Library

    Before and after


    I was standing between Questacon and the National Library – the area won a 2012 AILA National Landscape Architecture Award for design (click on the link, their picture has the same area on the right, 2 years has been a big growth spurt for the hedge!). The National Museum of Australia has a great recording (and transcript) of a conversation on the Layers of significance within Reconciliation Place.


    This week Canberra was featured in an article in The New York Times, which also mentioned Reconciliation Place and the National Carillon.  The National Capital Authority is a relevant information source, but their website is down, luckily Pandora has archived the site. The Canberra Guide also lists all the works of art. Creative Spirits also discusses the perceived purpose of Reconciliation Place.


    If you’re interested in conservation and native grassy ecosystems, the Friends of Grasslands conducts advocacy, monitoring and grasslands site visits. They are mentioned on the NCA site but I can’t see the context at the moment, it could be in terms of advice or site visits? The best part of their site is the name of their forum, “Grass half full or grass half empty? Valuing native grassy landscapes”. Oh my goodness! It is one of my deepest wants that their catering involves heaps of wheatgrass shots over the 3 day program. And that they don’t use random grass clippings. It could be a new boutique flavour sensation.



    Australiana in the Lodge

    Posted in blogjune
    June 3rd, 2014


    A delightful article from Vogue’s guide to living (1967) has “an exclusive picture essay” and presents “the first photographs of the Prime Minister’s Canberra residence since it was recently redecorated” (p. 56).


    The Lodge article cover page

    The landing flag


    Mrs. Harold Holt [Zara] acted as her own decorator, infusing the house with Australiana including Australian pearl shells as ashtrays (admiring visitors had to order their own shells from the Dept. of Fisheries), cameo-carved emu eggs, paintings and drawings by Australian artists, and a giant draped flag on the staircase landing (spotlit at night).


    My favourite part is the bright pink bedroom which has beds that Mrs. Holt found discarded in the garage of a government building in Sydney. A sister dumpster diver!


    The article is worth hunting down for the fantastic retro photos, but sadly these older Vogue articles are either not digitised (or let me know otherwise!) or only available through the subscription-based Vogue Archive.




    The Lodge, Canberra: an exclusive picture essay. (1967, Summer). Vogue’s guide to living, 1, 56-63. Photographs by Kerry Dundas.



    Vegan in the Parliamentary Triangle II

    Posted in Lifestyle
    April 30th, 2014


    An update on finding vegan food in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Parkes ACT, Australia. Previously tried and tested in my post of June 2013.


    With over nine months since last battling for vegan fare, you would be forgiven for thinking there was ample gestation time for a new veg*n establishment. Nay! So here’s a summary of what you can get from the existing non-veg*n places – not entirely comprehensive, but there are limits to being a vegie legend in a lunch break.


    Old Parliament House Terrace Café (prev. The Kitchen Cabinet with Ginger Catering, who are now at the Arboretum) is now under new management (Restaurant Associates), so they no longer sell farm vegetables or vegan chocolate (disappointing). There is a vegetable wrap but I’m not sure about the condiments.


    Pork Barrel still offer basic pizzas (but on a special occasion, a great beetroot tart), Coffers (Treasury Building) and Café Milieu (John Gorton building) still offer sandwiches and basic rice and vegetables).


    Salad at National Library's Bookplate

    Library leaves


    Bookplate (National Library) still have custom salads (pro tip: ask for hummus), but all the ready-made salads have meat (including the grazing plates). The less formal Paperplate downstairs (not open on weekends) has ready-made wombok noodle salad and couscous broccoli salad that are both vegan, but you’d best check the dressing ingredients on the day.


    Salads at National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Cafe

    Portrait greens


    Portrait Café (National Portrait Gallery), like OPH, is now under new management. The previous people (Broadbean Catering formerly known as Portrait Catering, now at National Museum) offered custom salads, lentils and zucchini balls, but they preferred a phone call ahead. The good news with the new management is that they have something on their menu that is already vegan! I can’t overstate my excitement about this development. It is a jewelled quinoa salad with sultanas, toasted seeds, confit garlic, herbs and preserved lemon. Brian the friendly besuited manager even checked that the confit was vegan. The heirloom tomato salad can be made vegan sans feta, but it wasn’t as amazing as the quinoa. Be wary of the chai latte liquid mix, as it contained honey (at last check).


    NGA Café (National Gallery) no longer have their vegan cupcake, and continue to occasionally have vegan items (as surprises rather than standard). With some prompting they can make a custom vegan salad. On special catered occasions they’ve made wonderful veg*n things but they just aren’t on the everyday menu. Be wary of the chai latte powder mix as it may contain dried dairy products, but if the lovely Amanda is at the counter, she can make a delectable chai tea (make sure it’s the chai tea bags) with soy milk on the side or in the teapot.


    Galileo Café (Questacon) have sesame crackers and fruit cups, and are willing to make custom vegan wraps in quiet periods (i.e. not the school holidays). The manager Lianah was very accommodating and happy to check all ingredients.


    At the other end of the triangle, Hideout had no vegan options, I asked if they’d consider stocking Veganarchy cupcakes, which would be delicious and worth making the trek.


    Double drummer had lentil and pearl barley salads, as well as lots of ingredients for fresh juices. It was so busy that I didn’t get to ask about the options – make sure you check the salad dressing first.


    The café at National Archives has a vegetable wrap, be careful of the hot chocolate as it has milk products in the mix. Across the road, the café at Prime Minister and Cabinet building has sushi, salad and boiled vegetables.


    Vegan course at Waters Edge restaurant, Canberra

    Lakeside Lushness


    It doesn’t really abide by the rules, but I went to Waters Edge for Xmas dinner and they made some wonderful vegan dishes (modified versions of menu items). Waters Edge and the Hyatt (haven’t been back since the last post) are the most expensive on this list.


    Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and others. I haven’t included establishments that aren’t in reasonable lunchtime walking distance of the cultural institutions, I would like to go to Maple + Clove for their focus on handmade and nutritious food, but the person on the phone was quite firm about not catering to vegans.


    Please remember that it is safest to check that menu items are definitely vegan and allergy friendly, and that they haven’t changed since last check – and let me know of your experiences with vegan food in the Parliamentary Triangle.

    It’s encouraging to see the progress at the Portrait Café, and that their staff are happy to verify that menu items are genuinely free of animal products. I’m really thankful that they’ve actively responded to feedback. I’ll provide another update in the future, I’m hopeful that there may be more good news of permanent vegan menu items (not just salad!) to plant-power the Triangle masses.



    Gardening in the heat

    Posted in Lifestyle
    February 8th, 2014


    I toiled away in the heat today, for a harvest of potatoes and some fetid compost. The plants could have kept going for a little while, but the hot spell had made them faint in their enclosure. I couldn’t contain my anticipation as I dismantled the “cat-proof” fence. Witness Ms. Cat’s squinty-eyed disapproval of the boundary line.


    Ms Cat hates the fence

    Ms Cat hates the fence


    The cats did work out how to get in through a gap, but the wire was still better protection than last year’s attempt to grow potatoes in a tractor tyre. Those plants lost the will to live after Mr. & Ms. Cat both thought it was a pleasantly private place to attend to their needs. After that we called it the “shittery” because it was a horrible wreath of awful. Understandably the plants preferred the great nursery in the sky. Later I read theories about tyre chemicals leaching into the ground, so I washed the tyre and gave it to a friend for her dog (not as a toilet, you attach hessian on the top to make a hammock).


    Potato crop 2014

    The monster mash


    It was quite exciting to discover all the potatoes hiding under the sugarcane mulch like savoury easter eggs. I scrabbled through the ground like a mole and continued the excavation, there were so many layers like dirt chocolate with crunchy bits (my favourite pre-veg*n chocolate was Bertie beetle which had similar textural surprises).


    I had been told that piling up the mulch near the potato plants would make it easier to harvest. Lies! Although this shouldn’t be considered a thorough scientific study as all our plants grew from potato scraps in the compost. It was sheer luck they were in roughly the same area to make for convenient fencing.


    Avocado crop 2014

    Avocado surprises


    I made a great find with four sprouted avocado seeds! I put them in a container for the windowsill. I just checked them – they haven’t grown anymore, but a worm had hidden inside one of them during the 8 hours since the relocation. Protip – leave the avocado seeds on the edge of your garden to give any earthworms the chance to crawl out. I’ll have to see if he’s vacated the premises in the morning. There are more instructions on growing avocado plants on Australian avocados site. I always feel tempted to write “avocadoes”, like a deer herd of green fruit.


    Tomato crop 2014

    Small & imperfect


    The reason we let the potatoes go was because we planted tomatoes two years in a row, and I freaked out about crop rotation. Some of the tomatoes didn’t know they were banned this year so they still woke up. Of course I didn’t realise that potatoes and tomatoes are family, so that was a bit of a waste of time. Anyway, we grew tomatoes in pots this year. Compared to our past bounties, this year’s crop has been quite disappointing. The heat is sort of an excuse, but there are a lot of other gardens in Canberra that have done better.


    Ms Cat with peglegs

    Ms Cat with peglegs


    Mr. & Ms. Cat have reached their own goals for the season, having killed 2 ½ cucumber plants (the third was mostly killed by the heat), 2 zucchini plants and at least several potato plants. How are they so nefarious? They like to dig, or just squash a plant by sitting on top: “It was in my spot”.


    You can see Ms. Cat likes to guard the stump near the black zucchini, “the last of his kind”. She’s a pirate cat with a pegleg on each front paw. Miaowyarr.



    Ampersand Duck studio visit

    December 9th, 2013


    The ARLIS/ANZ ACT chapter were very lucky to visit the studio of Caren Florance: book maker/designer, artist and letterpress printer.  Caren collaborates with writers and artists to produce traditional printing adventures (fine press volumes, chapbooks and broadsheets) and the less conventional (zines, mail art, artist’s books and digital works). Florance’s personal practice is undertaken through Ampersand Duck, “a private press with a twist based in Canberra” (Ampersand Duck (April 2008). Snail Mail One, p. [1].).


    ARLIS/ANZ with Caren Florance

    ARLIS/ANZ ACT chapter members with Caren Florance


    Finding the stories and process behind Caren’s beautiful letterpress creations was a revelation and rekindled the joy of touching deckle-edged, feathery papers of her books. Poetry married page through traditional printing, from heavily embossed imposed words to letters gently kissing the surface of the paper leaving ink remnants and memories. We saw works at the zygote stage with setting the letters and proofing, through to completed bound books with poetry by Rosemary Dobson and a typeset artist book with linocuts by G.W. Bot and poems by Anne Kirker.

    Caren also supports emerging artists through the Ampersand Duck Broadside Residency, by providing graduating students an opportunity to work in the studio and produce an edition of prints using handset letterpress. The studio is filled with work in progress by the residents, as well as completed books and prints by established artists. Nicci Haynes, an artist friend, has condensed the whole of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake – you can see it in the poster behind the cat below. Sadly we didn’t get to meet the other cats on this occasion.


    Materials in the studio of Caren Florance

    Materials with Nikki Haynes’ Finnegans Wake print


    We are delighted that many posters, artist’s books, zines (and even more!) made by Ampersand Duck are held at the National Library – they are also in other public and private collections nationally and internationally. One of the zines even has a view of Studio Duck, compare it with the photo from our visit (at the top):


    A view of Studio Duck as documented in Snail no. 2, November 2011.  Behind the zine: an Ampersand Duck poster.

    A view of Studio Duck from Snail no. 2.


    Thank you Caren for welcoming us to your studio and providing an insight into your working process. We look forward to having more artist studio visits during our 2014 program.

    To find out more about Ampersand Duck’s letterpress universe, see her site and personal blog. Or explore the various print offerings!



    Drugs library please with a cherry on top

    Posted in Lifestyle
    December 6th, 2013


    The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) has lost its funding, so their library is also out like the baby with the bathwater. ADCA provides a drug resource service (National Drugs Sector Information Service, NDSIS) to support those working to prevent or reduce the harm to individuals, families, communities and the nation caused by alcohol and other drugs. This includes non-government agencies (such as those addressing homelessness); government departments, police and prison services, health professionals, professional organisations and more.


    Identifying and disseminating this supporting evidence is a large task done by some of ADCA’s 15 staff members: librarians, library technicians and experienced library staff – it’s a small yet important organisation. This national information clearinghouse for the Australian alcohol and other drugs field was established in 1974, and the huge collection has made an invaluable contribution to our health legislation. In addition to assisting ADCA clients, another benefit (Shelling, 2006) arising from the continual task of collating and curating this information is the DRUG database through RMIT, Informit. Without monthly database updates, the reduced currency of the database will have detrimental impacts on the health professionals that rely on it to provide contemporary research outcomes, meaning that they cannot provide the best patient care.


    Jane Shelling (Manager NDSIS at ADCA), discusses the important role of the ADCA library:


    “Perhaps the biggest benefit of working for this NGO [ADCA], and the reason staff retention is so high, is that you truly belong to a special sector. The NRC [National Resource Centre, now NDSIS] is assisting people from all over Australia who are working in varying capacities to help those with alcohol and other drug problems. Many are not well paid and are themselves working for a non-government agency but are passionate about their work and grateful to library staff who help them with research and information gathering.” (Shelling, 2008, p. 11).


    In a presentient article, Shelling also observed the growing trend of library closures in the addiction field in the US, and how in Australia, “…librarians need to speak out, advocate within our own organisations and out in the real world for quality information, libraries, and LIS professionals… Infiltrate and promote at all opportunities: special libraries are worth the effort not just to LIS professionals or researchers but to everyone. Find your voice and make it heard.” (Shelling, 2012, p. 3).


    We all need to find our voice to stand up for ADCA library, as without their contribution, people working with those most at risk will be deprived of evidence-based research assistance. The ADCA library has such a diverse range of clients because “…alcohol and drugs can touch all parts of society.” (Shelling, 2012b), and it is to everyone’s benefit to maintain this service.


    The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is waging a campaign against the defunding, going directly to Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s home town of Young, NSW tomorrow during the National Cherry Festival. It is hoped that this presence will highlight the damage caused by the decision to cease funding ADCA’s vital work. Please join ALIA in fighting for ADCA library! You can find out more about the campaign, visit the National Cherry Festival this Saturday 7 December (tomorrow!), tell others about the issue with the hashtag #saveADCA, and sign the petition, or text “save the books” to 0426 143 349.


    If this isn’t enticing enough, the National Cherry Festival itself has a wonderful program so you can display your ADCA library support at all the different activities. I can testify that the Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships are a highlight, registration is at 2pm on Saturday. Here is my less than successful attempt from 2009 – I have spared you the most graphic shots. I took my strategy from a portly young man competing before me. Perhaps I shouldn’t have viewed him as a mentor, as he was a bit unwell after competing in several heats. It’s a long story!


    Wilders Bakery Cherry Pie Eating Championships 2009, Sonja

    Amy (Cherry Queen 2009) watches the carnage


    My thoughts and best wishes are with ADCA and their staff, I hope that the festival stall on Saturday will contribute to a revision of the funding decision. Remember to tear yourself away from the pies, and find out more about ADCA library at ALIA’s stall, then even visit Young’s own South-West Regional Library branch (open M-F 9-5 and Saturdays 9:30-2).





    Shelling, J. (2006). ADCA recommends… alcohol and other drugs resources for the health library. Incite. 27, 25.


    Shelling, J. (2008). Working for a Non-government Special Library. Incite. 29, 11.


    Shelling, J. (2012a). Collective amnesia – are we complicit in the closure of special libraries?. Incite. 33, 3.


    Shelling, J. (2012b). A push technology personal librarian project. Australian Academic & Research Libraries. 43, 135-145.



    Woodland zweiheit

    Posted in Lifestyle
    November 24th, 2013


    During our Hawai’i ceremony, I felt breathless like the Cure’s Love Song, the sun shone through the leafy canopy and the forest so kindly bore witness.


    I walked towards him at the waterfall, the celebrant said the words, and my partner gave the most wonderful and thoughtful vows. We exchanged leis which were made with an orchid called “Sonia” (purely a coincidence!).


    Wedding shoes Hawai'i

    Pink podophilia


    Thank you to Frieda Gayle, such a wonderful and thoughtful celebrant, who even hiked to several areas to find the perfect place and really did organise everything!


    Many thanks to Shawna Lee for taking us to the rainforest and the beach, and for your heartfelt hula and beautiful photographs. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical ceremony, and we are so grateful for all your assistance.


    Wedding hair by Rhubarb & me, flowers by The Snail and Petal

    Mother Barfoed with roses


    Yesterday we had a family celebration at a rural property in a Canberra valley, with thanks to Leonie for letting us picnic and croquet on her lawns. It was lovely to share a quasi-wedding experience with my family, as our Hawai’i ceremony was really an announced elopement.


    My dodgy photos won’t do justice to the beautiful flowers and food, so I’ll link to Leonie’s professional photos when they’re available. I’m looking forward to seeing the family photos, but I’m a bit worried about the couple ones, as being photographed is one of our areas for improvement.


    Quiche by Veganarchy

    Quiche by Veganarchy


    It was a very relaxed affair, but I think that’s because everyone contributed towards the day – there was even a gift of a hand-built deck in our backyard, so we’ll always remember this moment in time when we play on it. We also had a nice moment opening cards from overseas family, who also sent a traditional Norwegian spoon for sharing porridge. I’m sad that I didn’t take a picture of the food before it started being demolished (a good testament for vegan catering!) and melting in the sun –it was also amazing that the layered cake survived the trip in the bouncy Terraplane.


    Mum organised all the details – making the cardboard table pad, stamping the cutlery napkins, finding tableware and furniture, even down to hand-quilting a hot pink rug. Intense! I think it stems from her project management expertise. I am so thankful for her caring and organised nature and to spend this special moment together.


    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet

    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet


    We forgot to bring our board games (carcassonne and dominion), but my father and brothers had set up a croquet lawn, so we enjoyed pretending to be in Wonderland. Somehow one of the brothers Barfoed managed to break one of the mallets, I didn’t realise it was such a violent sport.


    Sonja with croquet mallets

    Mallets with unknown collective noun


    It was nice to see all the furry cows and hear the kookaburras’ songs. There was a spot in the forest that reminded us of our ceremony spot in Hawai’i, a funny connection between such different landscapes.


    Sleeping groom with boutonniere by The Snail and Petal

    How to plant a flower


    You can see below, Mr. Cat on my veil (made by Effie Dee), and the largest earring contains one of my Grandma’s gallstones. She always said they should be made into earrings (my previous post provides context), so artists Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith have been transforming them with silver. When the series is complete I’ll share better pictures. It was really gratifying to fulfil my Grandma’s wishes and feel like she attended, in a way.


    Sonja with Effie Dee veil and gallstone earrings by Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith

    The gallstone wish


    We had a wonderful experience at the ceremony and the picnic, and I am so glad that we both decided to speed-date on that fateful night so many years ago.



    Our excellent (and of course highly recommended) facilitators:




    Celebrant: Frieda Gayle, first listing on Kauai directory

    Driver, photographer, hula dancer: Shawna Lee

    Hair & make-up: Chelle at Koloa Town Salon & Day Spa

    Marriage paperwork and local advice: Ellen at The Wine Shop Kauai

    Pizzas: Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers

    Post-ceremony art exhibition enjoyment: Galerie 103




    For both events:


    Dress: Claire at Nocturne Design

    Veil and brooch: Effie dee and her shop with custom made pet portrait brooches

    Tux t-shirt: Millie at T-Bar Canberra Centre

    Gloves: inherited from Grandma

    Shoes: second-hand online


    For Canberra picnic:


    Gallstone jewellery: Lan Nguyen-Hoan & Tarn Smith

    Hair & make-up: Jess and Anne at Rhubarb & me

    Flowers: Anna at The Snail & Petal

    Wedding cake: Nie-kiewa at The Cake Cabinet

    Vegan picnic catering: Gabby at Veganarchy

    Photography (beautiful pictures to come, the ones above are my dodgy ones) and venue: Leonie at Snowgum Studio



    Tusen takk! xxx

    Bridethulu progress

    Posted in Lifestyle
    August 18th, 2013


    I had a busy weekend containing my bridethulu-ness, stemming the flow so it doesn’t ooze out as bridezilla interactions. We’re organising our Hawaii elopement, as well as a performance art reenactment when we return, as a scaled-back way for family to be involved. But this does create two tiers of tasks for the different events (like different tiers of a cake, perhaps).


    To prepare for the Canberra reenactment ceremony, we met Anna at her shop, The Snail + Petal (named after what you find in the garden). She showed us some amazing vines to use as a cake wreath, and grey leaves and pink roses for corsages. Trying to rearrange the flowers when I got back home reminded me that floristry is not one of my core strengths, as reflected by the image below.


    Rose and vine

    Rose and vine


    I went to Goldcreek to find the Extravagant Bra Solutions shop, hopeful of an extravagant bra for our modest do, but apparently the store closed 2 years ago, which was disappointing because I’d hoped to support a small business. The Darling Central Boutique is there instead, and a very kind lady with beautiful skin and perfect purple eyebrows gently and calmly let me know that I was searching for the invisible bra shop, it was like being a Discworld character. I was feeling borderline bridezilla because I had walked up and down the Gold Creek strip hunting for this nonexistent place. At least I found Darling Central! Here is a Gold Creek magpie looking as puzzled as I felt.


    Gold Creek magpie

    Gold Creek magpie


    I trudged over to the Canberra Centre which has had so many changes and finally had bra success, despite changerooms definitely not being the place to discuss asymmetry. Bra shops would also be an entrepreneurial place to have mole checking and pap smears because it feels quite intimate and invasive, better to get it all done in one go. This jewellery store sign caught my eye – I think they forgot the “You love him, he loves you” combo. There is a ring I would like for our ceremony, but I think we’ll be using lollipop rings so that we don’t have to travel with something so small and valuable. The main reason is that we haven’t bought them yet – we don’t have engagement rings either so the jewellers really are missing out.


    You love her

    Forever contract


    After all that fuss, I had to postpone my dressmaker appointment with Claire (Nocturne Design) because of not having the bra ready in time. It will be sewn into the dress like a secret supportive amulet, so I had needed it ready for the appointment. This image is from before, Claire had made a very tiny toile, it’s also a nice way to advertise dress options or have a Barbie commitment ceremony. Or practice ballet poses.


    Wedding dress toile

    Ballerina bride


    The corset is indicative only, the main focus was on the handkerchief skirt which has different panels for more movement in line with the fairy theme. I think it was also so that she wasn’t a topless bride, but I had also suggested to my Mum that pasties would be a good option for a warm environment. She was not receptive to this idea, but I might bring some as backup – what if I’m driven to lose so much weight (by WIC and comments like this) that the corset doesn’t fit? I’ll need to have something to act as camouflage, because my pink bits won’t match the hot pink of my shoes, and it might make the photographer uncomfortable.


    I’m glad to have made some progress towards both ceremonies – we have also gotten our shoes and started to arrange a little hat for me. We just need an outfit for Mr. S, decide cake fillings, and find a spy camera so that we can save money on wedding photography, and buy pink glitter mushrooms to scatter in the Hawaiian forest. I’m stopping listing our things to do because it’s making me feel like more of a bridethulu, so I will go and relax by eating home-made garlic bread in the bath. It might not get the bridal body that others have suggested, but it will prevent me from going over the edge and taking over a seaside town.



    Vegan in the parliamentary triangle

    Posted in blogjune
    June 27th, 2013


    It’s difficult to get vegan food in many parts of Canberra, but especially so in the parliamentary triangle. I propose that the current amenities review of the parliamentary zone result in a vegan food truck or wandering cupcake seller, it could be called govsnack (copyright Cush, @cu5h).


    I’m providing this summary of my experience with cafés and restaurants in the parliamentary triangle in the hope that they’ll recognise the vegan/vegetarian market, without the requirement to phone ahead or make a special request. Look at the success of Sweet Bones in Braddon, only 4 kilometres away from the parliamentary triangle (but with a fair chunk of time trying to find a car park there and one on return).


    I went to The Kitchen Cabinet (Old Parliament House), I’d been to their 2012 Chocolate Maker talk (see if you can find me in the photos!) which was very accommodating to vegans (but then it is pre-booked so it’s a different thing altogether). Today I was incorrectly enthused by their roast vegetables with pine nuts listed on their menu, before their staff member kindly pointed out that it was a quiche filling. Clearly subheadings on chalkboards are not my forte. There was lots of blocks and gift packs of Lindsay & Edmunds organic chocolate for sale, but solely milk or white chocolate combinations. If there was dark chocolate I could have bought it, as Peter is very insistent about not putting milk solids in chocolate (he mentioned this at the Chocolate Maker talk).


    Pumpkins at The Kitchen Cabinet

    Coaches or pumpkins


    Lots of other produce including pumpkins, but I had already used up too much of my lunch break walking around so I didn’t have time to buy, chop, cook and eat vegetables from start to finish.


    Lovely roses outside Parliament House, maybe I could eat them – rose petal icecream and lavender truffles are my top favourite foods of all time.


    Roses at OPH

    Rosy deliciousness


    Here’s a list of other places to eat in the parliamentary triangle, if you want lunch on a weekday. Some of these places have excellent call-ahead vegan options but I hope that they become permanent menu items:



    Promenade Café at Hyatt Hotel (custom risotto if you turn up for lunch without a call-ahead), I have also attended the weekend high tea where I’ve had a separate special meal (everyone else accesses the buffet), there was a chargrilled vegetable sandwich (average) and dessert plate (excellent). Make sure you mention it when you book the high tea tickets.


    Pork Barrel (tomato or mushroom pizza with no cheese, depending on your view of veganism relating to yeast, no call-ahead),


    Coffers at the Treasury building (basic white rice and vegetables, no call-ahead),


    Bookplate at National Library (custom on-demand salads, call-ahead needed. They also do excellent vegan catering with lime-soaked coconut strawberries). Paperplate (LG1 level of the Library) has a noodle salad that could possibly be vegan,


    Portrait Café at National Portrait Gallery (custom on-demand salad, zucchini balls, call-ahead definitely needed, which sometimes goes to their voicemail which means they are very busy and probably won’t make it),


    Café Milieu at John Gorton building (sandwiches, basic rice with vegetables, no call-ahead), and


    NGA Café (National Gallery) inside on lower ground level has an apple blackberry cake (but there were none today, very sad) and occasional dairy free salad. The Turner Tea Room on level one offers cream tea, lunch and high tea – I’m unsure if there are vegan variations on the menu offerings. The outside café might sometimes have vegan soup and bread at the during winter (today was wombok soup, which was apparently vegetarian but not vegan).



    Places I haven’t tried for lunch during the week are Galileo Café (Questacon), Queen’s Terrace Café (Parliament House), Waters Edge, Lobby Restaurant, and the Deck (Regatta Point) and probably some others.



    Sometimes it takes a lot of phone calls, planning and walking just to get lunch. Perhaps instead of parking spaces in the parliamentary triangle, we should convert all the parking spaces into community gardens so there would always be something to eat.



    Art signal message

    Posted in blogjune
    June 20th, 2013


    Tonight I went to the opening of Oscar Capezio’s exhibition, The signal is the message at CCAS Manuka. It was destined to be an interesting show, as demonstrated by the invitation which Roman says was shot (but I queried the bullet holes). Exhibition invitations are often quirky and are collected by art institution libraries for artist ephemera files, as well as to provide a history of a gallery’s shows.


    Oscar Capezio's exhibition invitation

    The signal is the message invitation


    Price lists and other exhibition information is also included in artist/gallery ephemera files to provide context and assist with valuations. This price list has a handy map of the artworks. The map prescribed our movement path through the show, but I think that we were meant to look through “Exceed Your Vision” towards “That ‘X’ there”.  A kid accidentally walked on the blue tape of “Tracing Paper”, breaking it away from the wall, but it was quickly fixed and then re-cut to open the show.


    The signal is the message map

    The signal is the message map



    I most enjoyed “The Hunt for Love”, screen captures of poems from the internet pierced by a carved hunting knife, next to “Break Through” (five bullets embedded in a wall).



    If read in order, the list is quite poetic:


    Caught in the Act/ Trophies/ Exceed Your Vision/ That ‘X’ There/ Untitled/ Shot In The Dark/ Break Through/ The Hunt for Love/ Tracing Paper.



    The show is on till Sunday 30 June, opening hours 11-5 Wed-Sun.



    Snail start to blogjune

    Posted in blogjune, Lifestyle
    June 3rd, 2013


    blogjune – it’s the third of June so here is a three day wrap-up! Changing from monthly to daily posts for this month was possibly a little ambitious, but maybe this will further focus my time management.


    I was unwell on Saturday so I was sad to miss the opening of Blaide Lallemand’s painting exhibition at CraftACT’s pod, Lonsdale Street Traders. Make sure you head along! If you’re not based in Canberra, there’s also a video of the interactive paintings.


    To console myself, I watched lots of episodes of Dawson’s Creek, I’m now up to Season 5, episode 4. There are only six seasons so there’s not long to go (then I’ll be beyond consolation). Perhaps I should frame this as a sociological study of the 90s, but my viewing is mostly for nostalgic reasons (and as background refamiliarisation before I watch Apartment 23). It also means that the cats get to hear their favourite sitcom intro song, in addition to increased lap time and being harassed by toy dinosaurs.


    The butterfly and rose were shocked to discover that neither seemed as they had appeared. Darn internet dating!

    Meadow Argus butterfly on John Maddock and sons “Old Rose” plate


    I spent Sunday cooking minestrone soup, chocolate coconut cake and spaghetti veganaise. The vegan chocolate coconut cake was very successful – I adapted a Taste recipe by replacing the butter with cocoa butter (expensive but the value is in the flavour) and milk with soy milk, and flour with hazelnut meal. I also added cocoa nibs. I guess I just can’t follow recipe instructions. Verdict from Mr. Sonja was “delicious”. It’s a lot better feedback than “What happened?” or “Very rustic” (hmm).


    I reduced my tyre changing rookie status, but the bolts were so tight that I had to stand on the wrench. It was like the fairytale where the princess wishes she was heavier (the princesses received their weight in gold as a reward, another variation was choosing between being dipped in oil or gold). It was unpleasant but not as bad as last week when I almost crashed because the tyre burst. Drama, excitement! The biggest reward in changing the tyre was finding a lovely butterfly on the ground, I was sad it had gone to the great nectar in the sky but I do secretly enjoy collecting them.


    Today (Monday) I planned lots of library tweets for the @aliangac account (ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee) and culled a swarm of emails (it’s good to know that cialis is still popular!). While I was at work today there were lots of lovely sunbeams coming in through the windows and I managed to catch all of them around the building with my feline hunting skills.




    Canberra art exhibition opening crawl

    April 12th, 2013


    Last night there were four art exhibition openings in Canberra, all starting at 6pm. Is that a record? I attended them all – briefly – just to confirm it was possible! It took just under 2 hours and only 22 kilometres of travel. The sheer volume of exhibition openings demonstrates that there is a lot happening in Canberra, but perhaps it could be better coordinated – a similar issue to some of the Centenary events’ scheduling proximity. To address this kind of calendar bulge, Genevieve has suggested that ACT-based galleries could plan their exhibition openings with staggered starting times, with a dedicated arty bus for assisted crowd control.


    While the arty bus would need to be a regular, possibly fortnightly, endeavour, it has already occurred as a one-off celebratory occasion. This  project occurred in September 2012 – Craft ACT’s “Capital of Culture” bus tour. I heard it gave a wonderful experience of either North or South cultural tours during Floriade (possibly too much of a time chunk, though), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. The Tour Guide is worth downloading just for the lovely design, but could also be reused as a fun gallery Bingo sheet. Last night’s openings could have had a Bingo sheet! I wonder if anyone else was able to attend all of them?


    Visual Arts Graduate Season 2013

    ANU School of Art Gallery, ACT (till 27 April 2013)


    Artworks by Christina Clarke at ANU SoFA Gallery

    Modern tools by Christina Clarke

    2 artists are exhibiting their Doctor of Philosophy works, with Christina Clarke’s Greek Bronze Age vessel contrasting with James Steele’s photographic works exploring place and identity. There is so much movement and information in the exhibition, with James’ projected images as well as videos of Christina’s process for painstakingly creating a hydria, that it has to be seen in person.


    You can see Christina’s final piece in the 1/2013 exhibition catalogueLM IIIA1 Hydria (2012) on pages 12 and 13 and James’ work on pages 28 and 29. The image on the left shows part of Christina’s process for creating Greek Bronze Age vessels.



    100% Books by Canberra Artists, curated by Ampersand Duck

    Watson Arts Centre, 1 Aspinall Street Watson ACT (till 28 April 2013)


    Signage and artworks in 100% Books by Canberra artists exhibition, Watson Arts Centre

    100% Books with Shells by Genevieve Swifte

    20 artists from Canberra take part in the region’s long history of book production. Each artist is exhibiting both old and new work to show their developing interest in the book form. The exhibition hopes to “…challenge notions of what a book can be in an art context. From fine press through to more sculptural pieces to street press and zines, this exhibition provides a mere sample of the breadth of contemporary book arts.” (Watson Arts Centre, Sales Catalogue, April 2013, p. [1]).


    In the image you can catch a glimpse of Genevieve Swifte’s Shells (2006): Hand sewn boat-like structures, paper, linen impregnated with salt. The salty threads have a rhythmic sense of the tide that simultaneously give movement to the vessels but also anchor them in white space, like the flow of words in a conversation that sometimes get moored in a speech bubble.




    pod, Shop 11, Lonsdale Street Traders, 24 Lonsdale Street,  Braddon ACT (till 21 April 2013)


    FIVEFOLD exhibition installation at pod, Lonsdale Street Traders

    Jewellery by FIVEFOLD artists

    5 contemporary Canberra jewellers have joined forces as FIVEFOLD, an artist-run design collective, and this was their first inaugural exhibition. In the pod space, plinths have emerged like stalagmites bearing glittering trophies as sacrifices to the Lonsdale Street Trader entities. Danyka Van Buuren’s hoops have mysteriously transformed sequins into elegant colour blocks and the other pieces were enticing but tricky to get up close as there were lots of people!


    The exhibition invitation is a very pretty DIY five-fold brooch – I made mine in the car so the crumpled state didn’t fully reach the attractiveness potential, I also didn’t have a pin so I just stuck it down my shirt. Other more organised people had very smooth brooches and one of them would have won a limited-edition handmade Shibuichi sterling silver brooch. There are detailed folding instructions for the invitation from FIVEFOLD’s Tumblr. As a librarian it’s exciting to see unusual invitations, as art libraries collect art ephemera as information on artists and exhibitions. This means that people can see the brooch invitation in the future as a resource to contextualise the artists’ work, and to see ephemera (invitations, posters, business cards) as art in their own right.



    THROWAWAY: exhibition by Holly Granville-Edge

    Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS), 19 Furneaux Street, Manuka ACT (till 21 April 2013)

    Artworks in Holly Granville-Edge's exhibition

    THROWAWAY exhibition installation view



    Holly Granville-Edge’s photos play with the idea of manufactured sentimentality and value in the captured image. The exhibition includes a collection of “dusty junk-shop picture frames scrounged from op shops”, which charmingly contain their own portraits with eerie self-awareness of their new-found meaning and artistic elevation. Escape down the rabbit hole.