I love melbourne (laneways)

Did you know that school holidays start today in Victoria?  The official very last day of school for 2014.  9am – 1.30pm isn’t much of a school day though, is it?

With this in mind, yesterday I celebrated my very last solo 6.5 hours for six or so weeks with a ‘trip to town’ as my Nanna used to say (I think I inherited my shopping gene from her).  I ticked a few things off my ‘to do’ list and met Clive for lunch.  And basically had a lovely time.  ALL … BY … MY … SELF.

In a nutshell.  I alighted at Flinders Street, walked down Degraves Street and Centre Place through to Collins Street.  I walked  through the Block Arcade and had a bit of a detour down Little Collins Street before wandering through Royal Arcade to Bourke Street.

Then I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t going to be me as I saw the lines for the Myer windows … and headed in to H&M (my first visit).  Followed by The Emporium.  Then I went up Little Bourke Street to Queen Street.  Hello Clive’s work!  Then back down Lonsdale Street to Hardware Street.  Lunch.  Home via Melbourne Central.

Here’s some of the cool stuff I saw …

Little Cupcakes in Degraves Street has little cupcakes. And it’s got a quirky mix of old stools, and old cameras and books on the shelves.


This is a super bribe shop for a mother with children in tow.  Perfect if you are catching the train at Flinders Street.

For about 6 months I did an after work silversmithing course at CAE and regularly popped in to Degraves Espresso for a coffee.  Funny how even at 10am in the morning it feels seedy.  It’s got a bit of the Fitzroy pub thing happening.  Love the emerald green chairs.

And I noticed this sign … Is was too early in the day … probably … right?


Okay, how gorgeous are these? As you know I am currently into dangles.  And these necklaces made out of painted metal tubes, combined with some wooden beads caught my eye.  Some of the metal tubes are etched with little pictures. They are really interesting.   And the brand is Cloud.  Lynette, who owns Fokus (the shop window I saw them in) told me the person behind the brand is a graduate from RMIT.  I am not sure my photo does them justice.  Some are for wearing. Some are for dangling (or wearing by giants).  All are for admiring, don’t you think?  You should pop past and see them in real life …IMG_8246-0

The Block Arcade floor is lovely isn’t it?



And this is one of my favourite jewellery shops – The French Jewel Box.  I always window shop here.  I want that little art deco ring on the right …

And window shop here … and think of my work friend Gervase (she LOVES Haighs).


Shoe detour … I tried these on in Cinori. And I popped in to Zomp too (also in Little Collins Street).


Okay, some Babushkas.  I always visit this shop in Royal Arcade. It’s been there forever. It’s just nice to have an eastern european thing in the middle of everything else … it makes the world smaller, you know?


Whoa, H&M scored big time didn’t they?  How amazing is the GPO when you look up?


And speaking of amazing, are these not THE most inviting chairs in the whole wide world?   In the window of the UGG shop in Little Bourke Street in The Emporium.  I want to get in, and never get out.  Ever. Imagine if they added one of those little pull down blind-things that they have on the IKEA kids swivel egg-chair equivalents …

And then I visited Uniqlo also in The Emporium.  I nearly bought these.  Clive loved Moomins when he was little and has indoctrinated the kids.  If Clive actually reads this post I bet the kids will be getting Moomin t-shirts for Christmas – THIS IS A TEST!  The t-shirts are only $12 Clive.  Size 6, 8 and 10 would be perfect …


So, by now it was about 12.30pm.  And I needed to be home by 2.30pm.  So I rang Clive to see about lunch, and he said he was out, but to meet him in chambers in 15 minutes.  OK.  A slow walk up Little Bourke Street (I could manage that).

Here’s what I noticed …

Some street art in Warburton Lane.  Nice.

An impressive chair collection on the roof of Brother Baba Budan … this looks like the place to go?


And loads of cool bikes in the bike racks in this neck of the woods … and the old fave, Wilkins and Kent, with a new supply of Samantha Robinson pottery in store …



And finally I arrived at Clive’s chambers (ignore the mess – Clive’s busy …).  Hello again little kangaroo-man.  I love this work by Geoffrey Ricardo. It makes me laugh every time I look at it.  And the colours are super.  Pity it’s not on the wall at home …


And finally, lunch.  Clive suggested ‘soup’.  It really didn’t sound like my thing. Not at all … I said laksa would be OK. He said that this soup had loads of mussels and I’d like it.  I still wasn’t excited … but he does go out to lunch every day in the city, and I guess he knows me pretty well after all these years … so I agreed.

He took me to Brothl.  Good name for a soup shop huh? I knew it was going to be OK when we rocked up and the chairs out the front were made of black plastic crates with groovy home-upholstered tops.  And … then the plastic crates were also used for storage inside.

I admire that sort of multi-using! And the lights were all twiggy!  And how cool, to sit IN THE KITCHEN and eat lunch.  It was just like being in the back room of Pellegrini’s watching your lasagne come out of the oven (but it was soup obviously …).


And then the water arrived in jam jars – I’ve never chosen to drink from a jam jar, but it proved quite a good vessel.  And the food arrived …  Oh, delicious!  Seriously, it was super-duper good.  You should go there!


And … so ended my ‘trip to town’ holiday day. I’m happy.  And ready. Let the children’s holidays begin!

playdough inspiration


Kids toys are super to buy second hand. Often you can buy a box of great stuff that would cost a fortune for $5 or $10.

And really, I don’t think anyone could object to second hand playdough accessories, for example.  Who cares if someone else has used them?

How cute are the people/monsters Elise’s kids have created using these eyes, hats, hands and feet …

It is ideal to look out for boxes of toys like these at 1.your local school fete and 2. op shops run by old ladies who haven’t bought toys for a long time.  Cos sometimes it’s hard to believe plastic costs as much as it does …

If you are into playdough, here’s a tried and true recipe (thanks Mezzy our family kinder teacher) …

Playdough Recipe

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 1/4  cups boiling water

Mix all the dry stuff.  Mix the oil and water (making sure it is boiling, boiling)  and add any food colour to this.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon, then knead the dough as soon as you can (without burning your hands).

green beans – abla’s great recipe

Julius is a Dad from school who owns Elgin Printing and he kindly donates printing to Art4All each year.  Elgin Printing is, obviously, in Elgin Street, Carlton.

And every time I think of printing, and Julius, (which I do more than you’d imagine lately – only because I am in the depths of organising Art4All again) I think of my most favourite restaurant on Elgin Street, Ablas, and then I think about these green beans.

Or, perhaps I could start this story from the other end …

Here is one of my most favourite recipes that I make all the time.  I love it because it is simple, delicious and you can eat it hot, cold, or at room temperature which is so super handy for visitors.

It comes from Abla Amad’s cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen. Ablas is a super lebanese restaurant on Elgin Street, Carlton, named after the owner.

I haven’t been there for a couple of years, but I often think about it when talking to Julius from school who owns Elgin Printing which is just down the road.  And I wonder if he just pops in there sometimes … I would if I worked nearby.

So … to the recipe. I cooked this last night (notice the pot??!). This recipe is from memory, so I hope I get it right. 20140715-201641-73001170.jpg

Green beans with Olive Oil

500 g green beans, topped and tailed if necessary

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

1 onion finely chopped or sliced

1-2 fresh skinned tomatoes (I just peel them with the peeler or even keep the skin on) chopped or tinned diced tomato is good too

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

In a pot put the olive oil and onions and cook for 10 minutes (put on your timer so you cook them long enough because it tastes better in the end). Note, the onions will be swimming in olive oil! Add the beans and allspice and cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

DONE!  Soooo good.