Thursday, 26 May 2011

Illustration Friday - Soaked

Finally, I managed to get another drawing done for Illustration Friday. The topic this week is "soaked". I immediately thought of this rather strange custom they have in Hungary (and apparently other neighbouring countries such as Poland and Czech Republic) where early on Easter Monday, boys will throw buckets of water on young unmarried girls! This couple are Matyo, from Mezőkövesd, and are wearing my all-time favourite Hungarian folk costumes.

Here are some real Matyo people getting into Wet Monday! It all looks like a bit of fun. My father said that in the city, they boys would just sprinkle the girls with cologne, rather than dump a whole bucket of water on them!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Magdalena Bors

A friend from work just showed me these amazing images, which are by Belgian-born photographer Magdalena Bors, who lives and work in Melbourne. 

These are from her 2008 Homelands series, which depicts household objects transformed into landscapes.  Apparently she does it all by hand, which is rather amazing!

 Her latest series, called The Seventh Day, is in a similar vein, with rooms transformed into Australian scenery, such as the Bungle Bungles and the Apostles.  This amazing one above, called Reef, is all made up of jigsaw puzzle pieces!  I love the colours, you really have to click and see it bigger to see the detail.

 Crocheters out there will appreciate Bungle Bungles, which depicts the iconic Australian Bungle Bungle Ranges in the Purnululu National Park, all in crochet. The Seventh Day will be exhibited from 21 May to 31 July at the Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Beauty Alphabet - T

"T" is for Teeth

"Rosy lips parted to reveal gleaming white teeth and healthy gums. Is this a description of your mouth? Too often we see a woman who is lovely until she smiles - then she reveals uneven, dark-coloured teeth.

Regular cleansing - after each meal if possible - and frequent trips to your dentist are the means of ensuring that your teeth are healthy and gleaming. Be thorough about your toothbrushing, and always clean your teeth last thing at night.

We all put off that trip to the dentist we know we should make, but how fatal it often is! Next time you fear you lack courage, just consider the cost of your beauty. People DO notice your teeth. A word to can protect your daughter's looks by taking her for regular dental check-ups. If her teeth are crooked, she can have orthodontic treatment, which will improve the whole contour of her mouth and jaw.

You cannot be too careful with your teeth. You won't need to worry about that upturned nose if your mouth is fresh and sparkling with white, jewel-like teeth."

(from The Argus, 21 December 1950)

These following pages are from a wonderful beauty book I bought when I was in Bendigo a couple of years ago.  Entitled How to Attain and Retain Beauty, it was published in 1935.

I am always rather suprised at how sensible and modern the advice in the 1930s was.  To quote, "We hear a great deal about vitamins nowadays, so much that we begin to think that is is necessary for us to buy concentrated extracts in tins and jars in order to keep healthy.  But our ancestors flourished on natural food and there is no reason why we should not do the same."

Dental floss, which in 1935 was a piece of waxed silk thread, is recommended.  Here is a picture demonstrating how to use dental floss. Goodness me, they really did pluck their eyebrows severely in the 30s.

A recipe for toothpaste is given in The Advertiser (a newspaper from Adelaide) from 1937.

"Take 5 ounces of precipitated chalk, 5 ounces of powdered soap, 2 drachms [about 3.5 ml] of salicylate of soda, 30 drops of rose geranium oil and 20 drops of wintergreen oil. Mix into a paste with 4 ounces of glycerine and one ounce water."

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Mystery Woman - Copacabana

I've temporarily (I hope) mislaid the cord that connects my camera to my computer, so no new photos today. Time for another Mystery Woman post instead! This was the first MW, from The Argus, 17 November 1949. The lady in question was spotted in the foyer of the Copacabana on a Tuesday lunch time.

She was wearing a "buttercup yellow crepe frock printed with a black flower design". The dress had a v-necked draped neckline, cap sleeves and a full skirt. Accessories included a black belt, black suede shoes and gloves, and a black leather handbag. She also wore a natural straw hat with a big black taffeta bow, and a thin line of black trimming under the brim.

The Argus fashion reporter, and the fashion artist Jo Newham, said they chose this lady as their Mystery Woman "because even though you lunch date was late, and you kept glancing at your watch, you seemed unruffled. And when he arrived ten minutes late, you smiled."

The Mystery Woman turned out to be Joan Hay, an unmarried market researcher, with "engagement ideas in the offing"! Joan was going to wear her yellow frock to the Melbourne Cup, but at the last minute decided on a suit instead. She intended to spend her £5/5/ ($225 today) prize money on a light summer raincoat.

I found this in the Barrier Miner (a newspaper from Broken Hill) 27 January 1950. Is this the same Copacabana that Joan was seen at? Scandalous! I think it might be, because I found an article saying it opened on the 28 October 1949, so it must have still been quite new and fashionable. The club was raided in 1950 because it was believed they were selling liquor without a license, but all the confiscated booze had to be returned later, because apparently, when the search warrant was sworn for, there wasn't a Bible present!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Belly Dance Festival

Last weekend, I went to NSW for the 22nd Sydney Middle Eastern Dance Festival. It was the first time I've been to Sydney, and most of our class went, so it was a lot of fun. The festival over three days, with worshops each day, a big performance on the Saturday night, and a student performance on the Sunday.

On the Friday I did Figure 8s and Bodywaves with Hilary, who is from Sydney. She is a Tribal Fusion teacher, so I found some of the moves not very applicable to Oriental belly dance, but there was some good stuff on bodywaves/camels.

Next up was Oriental Hands and Arms with Josefina, also from Sydney. I really enjoyed this class, and learnt a couple of arm movements that I had never seen before.

That evening was the Royal Wedding, and three of the girls were determined to watch the entire thing in the hotel room with champagne and chocolate. Zoe and I escaped and after walking around the centre of Sydney in the pouring rain for an hour, we finally caved and went to an Irish pub to have a counter meal. Imagine our horror when we realised that there were at least four giant televisions in the room! We managed to find a spot in the corner where we couldn't actually see any of the proceedings. I must admit, I did check out Kate's dress, very classy and Grace Kelly.

Saturday we had a Jewels workshop with Zahraa from Melbourne, who has a great sense of humour, and make the class very fun, which was good, because jewels are very difficult and use lots of stomach muscles in isolation that I've never tried to isolate before. Ouch.

Straight after that we had a veil choreography workshop with Nayima from Adelaide. Nayima is tiny, with a little girlish voice, and is a fantastic dancer. Although this workshop was advertised as for beginners to intermediate level, it was definitely intermediate. So many twists and turns, I had a hard time keeping up!

On the Saturday night there was a concert with the theme Classics and Cliches. There were some excellent performances, so inspiring. My favourites were Tais, a Russian dancer who now lives in New Zealand, and of course my teacher Prue, shown above in the turquoise costume. Doesn't she look gorgeous? The girl in orange is Rishi Fox, who is another lovely dancer from Melbourne.

On Sunday, we all dragged ourselves out of bed and slapped on some makeup and false eyelashes, to perform in the student concert. I think it was one of our troupe's best performances so far!

Finally, Zoe and I scooted off to go to our last workshop, Shimmies and Layering. I was so happy when I realised that it was with the amazing Tais who had danced in the concert the night before! She is really friendly and an excellent teacher, and I learned so many things in her class, even though I was extremely tired by then.

Then after a bit of fabric shopping, it was time to head home. I didn't really see that much of Sydney, no opera house or harbour bridge, but I had a wonderful time, and I can do all that touristy stuff whenever I want to.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Happy Zombie Jesus Day

 Ok, so I'm a bit late with this post, but I hope you all had a lovely Easter break.  My cousin Alice and I decided, at the last minute, to host an Easter afternoon tea party, so I spent the weekend frantically making food.  Of course, I chose to make macarons, which I can tell you now, are horribly difficult to make, and it's probably much easier to just buy them from a reputable cake shop.

image from wani-musician

Macarons, (as opposed to macaroons which are rather plebby coconut, sugar and egg-white little cakes/biscuits popular in England and Scotland), are French biscuits made from egg white, almond meal and sugar.  They are tremendously fiddly to make, and have to be piped onto baking sheets and then left for a while to sort of set, and then you have to watch them like a hawk when they are in the oven to make sure they don't brown or overcook.

The first batch I made, which were lemon flavoured, just went very flat.  It probably didn't help that I was using the French method, where the ingredients are mixed cold, rather than the even MORE fiddly Italian method, where the mixture is heated up to a particular temperature, but for god's sake, I don't own a candy thermometer!  They were still quite tasty, and I had to slap Mr Macska away from them before he ate them all up.

For the second batch, I whipped the egg whites to within an inch of their lives, and the resulting biscuits kept their shape much better.  They look a little lumpy but I only had one of those fancy piping nozzles.  These ones were flavoured with rose water.  The following day, I made a batch of rose water flavoured butter cream to fill them with.  I don't know if it is the case with all macarons, but these ones were incredibly fragile, and several imploded because I was gripping them too hard when I filled them.  It didn't help that my piping bag split down the side in the middle of this.  The verdict:  I will never make macarons again.  Or at least, not for at least a few months!

I also decided to tackle a Simnel Cake, which is a traditional Easter cake in England.  A light fruit cake, it has a layer of marzipan in the middle, and is topped with another layer of marzipan and 11 marzipan balls to represent the Apostles (minus Judas of course!).  I used a Nigella Lawson recipe which I found here.  After the bloody macarons, this was a doddle.  I used half the recommended amount of marzipan because I was feeling cheap, and lacking a blow-torch, I didn't scorch the top (although it would have been fun!).  Cake was delicious, especially a week later, and I don't even like fruit cake that much. Another excellent recipe from Nigella, bless her angora bosoms!

Finally, I also whipped up a batch of Coconut Ice Eggs.  These are the height of tackiness, I remember making them in primary school for Easter.  You make a batch of coconut ice, but leave it all white.  Then colour a portion of it yellow.  Make small yellow balls, and then encase them in white coconut ice, which you shape to look like an egg.  Put them in the fridge to set, then you can cut the "eggs" in half, and voila, they look like a hard-boiled egg!  To make it even more fun, I made some of the "yolks" in pale blue or pink, so when you cut them open, the colour was a suprise. 

Alice made cucumber sandwiches and provided the tea and all the lovely crockery, and Bella made cupcakes, which I then iced with lemon icing coloured pale pink, which confused everyone.  Our friend Milly (who comes from the same village in Tasmania as me, how quaint!) brought the most amazing cupcakes that were baked in silicone moulds that look like tea cups.  By then I was so delirious from all the sugar that I forgot to take a photo, but they looked fantastic.

 On Easter morning, while Mr Macska was in the shower,  I nipped outside and grabbed some ferns from the garden, and fashioned a cunning little nest, into which I put some chocolate "quail's eggs" from Koko Black.  He was very pleased with it, and the eggs were delicious, with a praline centre. Yum!