Bonjour ~~~

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I still remember the very first response I gave my parents when they asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?”…….”mmmmmm I want to play violin or do paintings on a bridge in France”.  You should see how far their jaws dropped! I just love France! It is a place rich with Art Culture: Paintings, Architecture, Literature and so much more.

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Anyways, for those like me who don’t have the luxury or time to hop on a plane for a 21 hour flight, there is another way to get a taste of France – at Manningham Art Gallery’s current exhibition “Encore”.  Art pieces are created by both Australian and French Artists who have been travelling, drinking, sharing their thoughts on pottery for the last decade.

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I personally get very excited when I visit an exhibition based on a theme, it is always fascinating to see how an individual artist interprets the same topic in different ways. You will find a wonderland of art work reflecting all the seasons and many parts of France, from colourful flowers blooming in spring to sculptures expressing all shades of beauty, and much more.

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Like a particularly bright star in a beautiful glittering night sky, one single piece in the exhibition caught my immediate attention during the event, an orange/green tone raku bowl! The first thought that came across my mind was Princess Ariel from Disney’s Little Mermaid sitting on a shiny rock by the shore. Photos do not do it justice but the bowl has a touch of shine which is similar to nacre (also known as mother of pearl) commonly found in the inner layer of some sea shells.  Reading the artist’s profile, I learnt that her collection is about her experiences in the West Coast of France where she spotted broken boats, rust, shore, moss and beaches etc.  Looking at her art piece, it was like I was brought halfway across the globe.  I could almost smell the salty breeze and feel the refreshing ocean spritz crash across my face.  This is certainly my personal favorite of this exhibition!

If you have time in Melbourne, do drop in and take a look.  It is a rare opportunity and an encore worthy event.  Drop me a line to tell me what spoke to your imagination there.

For more information, check out http://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/encore

Simply Sweet Surprise!

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I love making every present I give to my friends during the festive seasons and special occasions.  The effort and that personal touch you put in can be worth a lot more to some people than expensive gifts you can buy off the shelf.  Well Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and it’s always nice to surprise my hubby with a little something edible.  Given I pack my hubby’s lunch every day, it’s easy to surprise him by sliding in an extra snack box.

This is a simple heart shape rum and raisin cookie tailored to his taste.

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Ingredients:

  • 125g butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoon rum
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup raisin for decoration

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and rum into a bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine them until it becomes creamy.
  3. Add the egg and milk until well combined. Sift in flour and baking powder, this is when you can get your hands dirty.  Knead until mixture turns into dough.
  4. Roll the dough to approx. 1cm thick and cut out shapes with your favourite cookie cutter.  Decorate the cookies with raisins.  I tend to add the raisins on top rather than mix it in with the dough, because they can easily get burn at the bottom of the cookie while it is baking.
  5. Place the cookies on the tray and into the oven for 12-15 mins or until it is golden brown.
  6. Allow cookies to cool down completely before placing them in a container.

If you get a chance, do try to have a cookie or two while it is warm.  It is sensational when it is fresh out of the oven.  This is a cookie with a soft centre and rum flavour is fairly subtle.  If you prefer stronger flavour, you may consider adding a few more teaspoons of rum.

I hope you enjoyed my first post.  This is my first time laying out detailed instructions in writing rather than telling a friend over the phone.

Anyways, I wish everyone a lovely Valentine’s Day!!