I’m finding it hard to keep my head above the rushing waters of life at the moment. I’m procrastinating, wishing I was relaxing at a favourite soul spot; my mum and aunts’ shared block on the north-east coast of my beloved birth state Tasmania.

Back to your essay Phoebe, back to your essay…

Happy (Belated) Yeaster

I’m a bit late with Easter recipes, but I finally made the perfect Hot Cross Bun and felt for posterity I should share it (anyway, better late than never… Right?). The final recipe was a bit of an accident; following a recipe from Taste.com.au I accidentally grabbed the self-raising instead of the plain flour and didn’t notice until I was kneading the dough. The result was a bun light and fluffy as a commercial one without the gluey mouthfeel.

So, ingredients were: 4 cups of self-raising flour; 2 sachets of dried yeast (14g in total); 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice; pinch of salt; 1 1/2 cups of raisins or similar dried fruit; 40g butter; 300mL milk; 2 eggs – lightly beaten; and 1/3 cup of water.

Combine the flour, yeast, the 1/4 cup measure of sugar, mixed spice and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan then add milk and heat until lukewarm. Add to the flour mix then add the eggs. Stir until the dough begins to come together.

Now comes the fun part – kneading! Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic (add in extra flour if the dough is too sticky). I usually leave the dough to rise in the mixing bowl (once I’ve roughly scraped it out then lightly greased it with vegetable oil) in a warm place – like in a sunny spot by a window, covered with a clean tea towel or plastic film.

Next, line a baking tray with baking paper. Then another fun bit – punching down the dough, then kneading again. Knead in the dried fruit until it’s evenly distributed through the dough. Roll dough into a thick sausage then cut into about 16 pieces, roll into balls then place about 1 cm apart on the tray. Leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

If you want to add a cross, mix 1/4 cup flour, vanilla essence and orange rind with enough water to make a clingy paste. Slash the top of the risen buns to make a cross, then pipe the flour paste into the split.

Put the Hot Cross Buns in a 190°C oven for 20-25 minutes. Once they’re in the oven, heat the 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/3 cup of water until sugar dissolves. Leave to boil for a couple of minutes then brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

You just can’t beat fresh Hot Cross Buns warm from the oven, halved and topped with melting wedges of butter.

The Art of Walking

Yes, it’s true. I’ve sadly neglected documenting the trials and tribulations of starting an Etsy shop because I (guiltily) thought I hadn’t done anything. But the tactic of ‘one foot in front of the other’ I normally have difficulty mastering (I’m more of a ‘feet flying madly out of control’ person) has actually worked. In amongst job searching and assignments (and yes, I am currently writing this because I should be writing an essay) I’ve made progress almost accidentally.

Firstly, I’ve ordered and received my fabric for the tops. Hooray! The fabric is a gorgeously soft bamboo jersey with a small amount of spandex. I ended up getting it online for a decent price (I love ordering online – when it comes in the mail it’s like getting a present from me) and the delivery was surprisingly prompt.

Speaking of price, I’ve done a groovy Excel spreadsheet to tally my costs and calculate a selling price, then checked whether the price was viable with another impromtu bit of market research. And, yay! All my numbers looked good (plus they added up to the right amounts… Ha! Attractive numbers…).

I’ve also drawn up some belt designs. I had a look in the local textile/craft stores; there’s not much in the way of plain, well priced belt buckles so I started trying to think of other belt fastenings that would suit the lighter look of fabric.

I sketch for pleasure in sketchbooks with thick white paper, but for clothes and accessory brainstorming I prefer black paper as it shows up coloured pencils beautifully and throws simple sketches into strong relief. I did these basic workings for some belts with a really soft white pencil; the excuse of using beautiful art supplies motivates me to actually get my ideas down.

So my next move is to purchase materials for the belts, then look at branding and product presentation. Step by step.

Fleshy Fiberglass

I joined my cousin Leila and friend Elle for a Saturday outing to the gallery a couple of weeks ago. Both Elle and Leila had asked me separately if I wanted to go to see an exhibition – I didn’t recognise the artist’s name, but I was keen on a change of scene for the weekend.

The exhibition was of Ron Mueck’s work, ‘hyperreal’ (Hello Baudrillard – well, if I can’t use my Bachelor of Arts to reference French cultural theorists obsessed with Disneyland, what can I do with it?) sculptures of the human form.

The pieces are eery – if I looked at them for too long, I felt more and more certain that I was going to see one of them move. This extraodinary life-likeness isn’t even disrupted by the pieces’ scale – amongst others there was a giant seated naked man (I came up to his hip) and two tiny old women (about the length of my forearm). If anything, the scale makes them even more strange; there’s no other word for them but ‘unheimlich‘, roughly translated as uncanny. There is a real strangeness in looking a pieces I know are inanimate sculptures when I could swear they just moved while my back was turned.

It’s so rare to find art that make you feel physically affected, but these pieces were technically and emotionally amazing. Definitely a Saturday well spent.