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Ha! I’ve just typed the heading to this post and I’m wondering if it will make it to the final cut. Maybe I’ll leave it – it’s what came into my head when I looked at the photos I wanted to share, plus it really is how I feel at the moment.

After six months of daily Headspace meditation and ten months of daily walks, I’m doing well and enjoying a sense of balance. In addition, I’m feeling much more resilient to stuff that happens these days, if that makes sense…

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Serendipitously, Sydney has been at her most charming in the last month and it’s been a joy to get out and about, exploring all she has to offer. Pete and I caught the train to town for Vivid 2017

The Opera House was transformed into a living coral reef…

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Pete’s cousin Richard did the electrical work on Supernova, so of course, we had to make a special trip in to see that…

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The MCA was again a canvas for moving light and colour…

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A small alleyway was turned into a sea of light and colour in Tidal

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Pete and I try to visit a new precinct each year, and this time we walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens. The waratah light sculpture was a standout…

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Light of Thoughts – a stylised interactive “brain” – was made all the better by a chance meeting with the young Chinese artist who created it…

He was justifiably proud of his work!

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While Vivid was on, we had family visiting from overseas.

Young Rachel, my nephew Nick’s partner, became an instant kindred spirit. She used to work as an assistant curator in Contemporary South-East Asian Art, so you can just imagine how excited I was to have someone to drag to art galleries with me! We visited the White Rabbit Gallery, then trekked over to the MCA. On the way, we stopped at Hat World in the Rocks to buy Rach a Breton, to protect her from Sydney’s occasionally terrifying seagull population. Naturally, I had to get one too (can’t resist a good hat!)…

The MCA is my happy place – I try to go whenever I can. At the moment, French-Algerian artist Kader Attia has stunning pieces on display.

This untitled piece, created from 116 stained glass fragments, was one of my favourites. It can be viewed from the front…

…and the back…

This interesting untitled work was created from an ancient sculpture combined with neon lighting. Both Rachel and I would happily have taken it home…

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Sydney’s street art scene is growing, and we passed some fabulous works as we meandered through the city…

Aboriginal elder Jenny Munro, as painted by artist Matt Adnate, graces the wall of the Novotel hotel…

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When I heard that a portrait had been painted of Fighting Father Dave Smith, I made a special trip to Martin Place to view it.

Dave and I go back a long way – I have wonderful memories of him sitting in my college room, decked out in his bike leathers, talking to me about God. Even in his early twenties, he was the least judgmental Christian I’d ever met. He’s spent the past thirty years fighting – in the ring, taking on churches and governments; always defending, always preaching, always faithful and always driven. Oh, and more than a little bit crazy. When I last saw him (it must have been ten years ago), he told me I was welcome to join the Fighting Fathers, but I’d have to get the tattoo.

It’s a joy to see him honoured for his enormous contribution to those in need. This artwork by Archibald finalist Luke Cornish aka E.L.K. has captured him perfectly

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Are you still reading?

Let me end this long rambling post with a couple of early morning photos.

The sun rises later in winter, producing amazing light which changes over the course of our daily walk. This photo captured every aspect of the weather that morning – the fluffy white clouds and blue skies reflected in the sea, the band of grey storm clouds looming in the distance, and the golden shoreline, lit up by the first rays of the sun…

And finally, a photo which provides an apt metaphor for where I’m at right now.

Big Boy and I were out walking in the drizzling rain last week and as we turned to head home, we saw this magnificent rainbow. I can’t remember the last time I saw one so complete. I’m always incredibly grateful for the time I get to spend with our eldest son and seeing such a glorious sight was icing on the cake. It only lasted for ten minutes, before the top of the arch started to fade.

Getting wet and cold? That was insignificant by comparison.

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Wishing you all a very happy week, lovely friends! ♥

A final (unsolicited and unpaid) plug for my friends at Cash Palace Emporium in Leichhardt which closes at 5pm tomorrow (Sunday 25th June 2017).

They are quite literally giving stuff away now. I’ve just popped in to say goodbye and came home with these gorgeous indigo cotton scraps as a gift…

I’ve bought some wonderful pieces of clothing at 50% off, but the greatest treasure for me has been the unusual vintage and ethnic fabrics, like this adorable old kimono cotton…

I’ve replenished the juggling ball bowl three times now, using their Japanese prints…

It’s impossible for me to leave without actually buying something, and today it was this labradorite ring, set on a thick band of sterling silver, reduced to just $30(!!)…

If you’re in the area today or tomorrow, do pop in for a visit. Luke is manning the shop this weekend and he’ll do a really good deal for you, just so that he doesn’t have to move it all next week. Elaine and Rini are working at the Quilt Fair in Darling Harbour – everything there is 50% off as well.

No affiliation (I never do paid adverts or promos) but these guys are sooo nice and I’m keen to support them. Plus, you know how much I love being able to share a bargain with you! ♥

Cash Palace Emporium
139 Catherine St
Leichhardt NSW
(02) 9569 5977

Whenever I visit the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale, I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to view this astonishing collection of contemporary Chinese art. The gallery is owned and funded by Judith Nielson, the exhibitions are curated by David Williams, and entry continues to be completely free.

The Dark Matters is currently on display, showcasing select pieces with a primary focus on black, white and grey tones, with only the occasional splash of colour. Williams has curated a cohesive, brilliantly presented exhibition, with artworks perfectly complemented by their surroundings.

As always, we began on the top floor.

Yang Mushi’s Grinding is a collection of over a thousand hand-hewn, black lacquered wooden blocks. The polished aluminium base makes it difficult to distinguish where each piece ends and its reflection begins…

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Contemporary Chinese art is often full of angst and pain, so it was a joy to view husband and wife Kung Wen-Yi and Ko Yu-Cheng’s Water Drops, a Buddhist-inspired work which “celebrate(s) rain as an analogy for creative imagination”…

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One of my favourite works of the exhibition was hidden away behind the elevators!

Chen Chun-Hao’s Twelve Animals – Rabbit, Monkey, Chicken are “drawings” made with headless nails, hammered in from the back. At first glance, they appear clever, but on closer inspection, they’re actually genius…

The details of the animals  – hair, fur, feathers, mouths, eyes and ears – are all carefully “drawn” by the shadows cast by the nails…

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Chang Nai-Wen’s AIP-PF is a series of three marble sculptures, each enlarging and enhancing the details of the previous one, adding extra “pixels” (detail) with each step, much as a 3D digital printer would do…

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I think art succeeds when it elicits a true emotional response in the viewer. Wen-Ying Huang’s Searching II is an intriguing and haunting work, created on a computerised loom which enabled the artist to “hide” a second image woven with reflective thread, and revealed only when illuminated by flashlight. In its unlit form, it’s deceptively drap and grey.

When I shone a torch over the fabric, I felt shaken and teary – the glowing scene of armed soldiers and someone cowering in fear made me feel as if I’d exposed them with my light. Powerful stuff indeed, at least for me.

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This is just a tiny snippet of The Dark Matters exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery. Because of the focus on black, it’s difficult to capture many of the pieces in photos, so it’s definitely worth a visit in person!

White Rabbit Gallery
30 Balfour Street
Chippendale NSW 2008

Open 10am to 5pm, Wed-Sun.
The Dark Matters exhibition runs until 30 July 2017

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese cloths, used to store clothing, transport goods and wrap gifts. They’re seriously cool, and they may just save the world.

My darling sister bought me this book earlier in the year…

Inspired, I hemmed a basketful of square cloths, declared them to be furoshiki, then proceeded to use them to wrap everything from coats to groceries to iPads to fossils…

A furoshiki has two advantages over a bag…firstly, it can be untied and thrown into the washing machine, and secondly, it can be folded to specifically suit the item in question. I’ve been making them out of my stunning fabric finds from Cash Palace Emporium.

I love that I can go out in a scarf made from vintage kimono silk (please excuse the bed hair)…

…then whip it off dramatically and fold it into a purse…

…or a grocery bag…

…or a flower pot carrier…

This is how I BYO wine bottles to restaurants these days…

I cut the back out of my torn dressing gown and used it to wrap up all my surplus knitting yarn…

My matching scarf and furoshiki wrapped veg gave the neighbours a good giggle…

…and when we were caught short on shopping bags at Costco recently, my furoshiki came to the rescue…

We’ve been making handbags…

…and wrapping gifts…

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My sister reckons she’s created a monster, but it’s great fun and good for the environment. In 2006, the Japanese government created a furoshiki in an attempt to reduce household waste from plastic bags. They provided this instruction sheet with it (here’s the higher resolution pdf)…

If you’re interested, the two books by Yamada Etsuko are fabulous and both are available in Kindle format through Amazon…

The only important thing you need to know is how to tie a square knot – if tied properly, it shouldn’t pull out. It’s worth practising a few times to get it right. Here are the instructions from Etsuko’s book…

If you’re a sewer, this is the perfect excuse to use up some of those beautiful pieces of fabric you’ve been hoarding. Originally, furoshiki sizing was based on kimono silk, which was traditionally 14″ (35.5cm) wide. The fabrics were sewn into pieces two or three widths across.

If you’re making them at home, I recommend 70cm and 100cm squares – the 70cm ones are a good size for wine bottles and iPads and books, whereas the larger ones are great for groceries and shoulder bags.

Let me end by sharing this hilariously wonderful video clip with you – the Furoshiki Samurai is a young man determined to spread the environmental message throughout Japan. Enjoy!

Have you ever cooked with kelp?

The Japanese call it kombu and they use it to make dashi stock, the backbone of many traditional dishes. The Koreans refer to it as dashima (pronounced “dah-sheema”) and it’s readily available in grocery stores like Komart in North Strathfield (providing you know what to ask for).

There are both dried and fresh salted versions available – I found this bag in the Komart fridge section for about $2.50…

It was heavily salted, so needed a good rinse and an hour’s soaking time before use…

I squeezed the water out and chopped up the prepared seaweed, stirring a handful into my sourdough…

It was a huge hit with the boys and the neighbours, with the kombu adding a little bit of salt and a subtle umami kick to the loaves…

Here’s a second batch that I made last weekend. This time I added more kombu – 100g (soaked and drained weight) to my four kilo batch of sourdough…

The leftovers made spectacular croutons…

Kombu/dashima is more readily available in dried form, which rehydrates brilliantly for use in stocks and soups…

My clever hubby tried grinding up a little of the dried seaweed in the spice grinder with flossy sea salt (50/50 by weight) and ended up with this delicious blend. I’ve been sprinkling it on everything from focaccias to steaks – it adds flavour with less actual salt…

Do you cook with kombu? I’d love to know what you do with it!

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