A Window on Italy: The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence

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PERSIAN SIBYL

Artist unknown, after Giovan Francesco Barbieri, known as Guerano  after 1648

The Corsini Collection,  portraying 600 years of the family history, left the Corsini Palazzo, a  magnificent Baroque palace to travel to Auckland, New Zealand and then Perth, Western Australia for the first time ever and is currently on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

PORTRAIT OF BIANCA CAPPELLO, MORGANATIC WIFE OF FRANCESCO DE’MEDICI

Alessandro Allori after 1579

Featuring artworks by Botticelli, Mantegna, Tintoretto, Pontormo and Caravaggio and many others, the collection is a snapshot of an eminent Florentine family history from a time when Florence was the centre of culture and the arts during the Renaissance.

Morganatic relates to or denotes a marriage in which the spouse of lower rank, or any children, have no claim to the possessions or title of the spouse of higher rank. No, I didn’t know, either!

 

HOLY FAMILY

Fra Bartolomeo  1511

The family agreed to the exhibition leaving the palazzo to travel to the antipodes as they felt they owed a debt to the allied forces of Australia and New Zealand who forced the German troops from their part of Italy in World War II. The family also benefits from curatorial research and restoration of some of the works prior to the exhibition.

PORTRAIT OF MAFFEO BARBERINI

Caravaggio 1597

As the Germans approached, the family drove the artworks to their country villa for safety. The collection was concealed behind a rapidly erected false wall with the portrait of Saint Andrea Corsini at the front. A German lieutenant, smelling the  fresh plaster, shot into the wall. The bullet holes remain, unrestored, in the Saint’s forehead.

The collection included decorative objects and furnishings from the Corsini Palazzo, a hand written recipe book, kitchenalia and textiles plus designs for ceiling frescoes and the chapel dome.

The dining table is set just as it was for a banquet held at the palazzo in March 1857.

Recipe book “Recipes for Tidbits” written by Antonietta Corsini 1864-1881

 

PORTRAIT OF PRINCESS ELENA CORSINI                          Pietro Annigoni   1950

Princess Elena Corsini was responsible for saving the family collection from the German Armed Forces 1944. Traditionally the men were collecting these artworks, but during the twentieth and twenty first century it’s the females who are responsible for the collection. Both Countessas Livia Branca and Elisabetta Minutoli Tegrimi  traveled to the opening of the exhibition.

PORTRAIT OF COUNTESS LUCREZIA MIARI FULCIS CORSINI

Luciano Guarnieri  1964

 

Today is Teach Your Children to Save Day intended to encourage children to develop the regular habit of saving money.

 

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Macarons, Melting Moments and Quick Dinner

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Family treats. These macarons were so delicious. The plain white box wasn’t quite as glamorous as Laduree’s pale green and gold one but the contents were very good and we really enjoyed all the flavours.

I’ve never tried making macarons but there’s many recipes online if you want to try making them yourself. Macarons have a crunchy exterior and a melt in your mouth interior and are made from almond flour, egg white, and sugar and filled with butter cream, ganache or fruit curd.

A macaroon is a different biscuit and is based on coconut, plus egg white and sugar but no flour. It often sits flat with a pointy top and can be dipped in chocolate.

I’ve been making this recipe for Custard Buttons for years. They are always popular and are quick and easy to make. Some people call them shortbread and when I’ve glued them together with icing they’ve been called Melting Moments.

Process 125gm room temperature butter with 1/3 cup of icing sugar (powdered sugar), 1/4 cup custard powder and one cup of plain flour.

Then roll the dough into walnut size balls and place on baking (parchment) paper.

Press a fork on top of each ball to make a pattern. Cook in a 150C (300F ) pre-heated  oven for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool.

When the biscuits are ready they go slightly brown. They smell wonderful while cooking.

The biscuits are delicious with tea or coffee and keep well. I sometimes pack them in cellophane packets and put them in boxes as little gifts.

This is the quickest, easiest brunch or dinner. I sliced a leek very finely and when it was cooked, added baked beans. Meanwhile, I cooked two rashers of nitrate free bacon for each person, fried two eggs each and made two pieces of toast and served dinner within twenty minutes of starting the process. Bit different, but we loved it!

Today is Scrabble Day, so grab your triple scoring tiles and enjoy!

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Aravina Estate, Meelup Beach and Easter

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ARAVINA ESTATE

We enjoyed day trips while we were at Bunker Bay. Aravina Estate was recommended to me by a friend because she thought I’d like the garden.

I loved the garden! Set amongst bush land, vines, a lake and attractive buildings, the garden is gorgeous, even at the end of summer.

Also a small collection of cars and motoring memorabilia. To get to the cars and surfing exhibition, we passed through their shop, featuring gorgeous homewares, beautifully presented in a lovely space.

A very nostalgic wander around the Surfing Museum. This region is recognized world wide for its surf and beach lifestyle and is close to where I grew up. My husband found a picture of a surfer girl he said he knew in 1963!

Coffee out on the veranda. Tempting lunch menu but too soon after breakfast, so settled for coffee and the view of the lake and gardens. The wine we tasted was very good, too, and the staff were very helpful.

Finally, wandered  back to the car park through the lush green garden.         So glad we went there and will return.

MEELUP

Meelup Beach is a small, peaceful and protected bay and very popular for swimming, even early in the morning.

A group of artists sketching at the beach.

EASTER TREATS

Louis doesn’t eat chocolate but was very keen on eating his Easter Bunny.

This pretty wrapper for a block of chocolate is a gift from the very talented Mimi, from her blog A Tray of Bliss. This is one of four wrappers she has offered as downloads.

In a year when St Valentine’s Day ( I’m thinking chocolate ) and Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent ( a time to give a treats) fell on the same day, so too Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day share the same date this year.

April Fool’s Day is commemorated by playing tricks on people, who are then the April Fools! There’s many conflicting theories about the origin of April Fools Day, but most agree the pranks should end at noon. The most widely accepted theory is it began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar, but some people forgot or didn’t know, so they celebrated the New Year at the beginning of April.

 

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Bunbury Regional Art Gallery PAINTING THE TOWN

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PAINTING THE TOWN

Bunbury Townscapes from the City of Bunbury Art Collection.

These artists’ impressions are an important representation of the development of Bunbury during the last 100 years.

All these paintings are watercolours except Ron Appleton’s St Mark’s Church, Picton, which is done in acrylics.

Frank (Charles) Norton 1916-1983

BUNBURY 25th FEBRUARY 1973

Bunbury is a regional city about two hours drive south of the capital city of Western Australia, Perth. I grew up in this region. On the way back from our  break at Bunker Bay we visited the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery.

Ron Appleton (1908-1999)

ST MARK’S CHURCH, PICTON, 1968

Like many regional councils, in the 1940s, BRAG benefited from a collection of art works donated by WA philanthropist, Sir Claude Hotchin. More recently, twenty two works of art were donated by Alcoa of Australia.

Sam Wheeler (1875-1939)

BUNBURY HARBOUR, MONDAY SEPTEMBER 28th, 1903

The Gallery is housed in the old Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, a beautiful building in the centre of the city. The building still has traces of its former incarnation with a nun’s cell on display and the Chapel Gallery.

Leith Angelo (1904-2000)

UNTITLED

BRAGs has a collection of over 300 botanical water colours by Bunbury artist Rosetta Kelly  (1916 – 1940). This is a significant record of the wildflowers of the south-west of the State. These art works are slowly being restored and exhibited.

Ivor Hunt(1903-1971)

THE SCHOONER

Today, Good Friday, marks the beginning of Easter for Christians. It commemorates the crucifixion of Christ and many people attend church services and traditionally eat fish. We also eat hot cross buns, the crosses reminding us of how Christ died.

Easter Sunday celebrates His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. We eat eggs to signify new life and more hot cross buns. My husband would like hot cross buns every day of the year. Lots of families spend Easter Sunday together.

Easter Monday is a holiday in Australia, a time for resting and reflecting and this year, enjoying the last of summer, although it is autumn, but still hot.

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Easter Planning

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Easter is celebrated in autumn in the southern hemisphere and the change in temperature is very welcome, except it hasn’t happened in WA, yet! It’s so very hot.

This is the first time I’ve made a layered cake and it was very easy but took a lot of time as I didn’t have two same sized cake tins. I made a double mix of butter cake and then divide it into four lots and added food dye.

I tried to make the dyed batter similar in colour to the speckled chocolate eggs used in the decoration. I used a very simple butter cream between the layers and to cover the cake then added the eggs.

This cake was delicious! And pretty.

 

Decorating boiled eggs. Bought a packet of coloured Sharpies and was keen to try them, so cut out two rabbit templates and lightly glued each one onto a hard boiled  egg, dotted blue around the template and then peeled it off. Quick and easy decoration, once you’ve cut out the template!

 

Blue and white shrink wrap boiled eggs. I got these from EBay.

Hello Easter Bunny. He used to sit on my desk at school but now he’s on our dining table with the other Easter themed decorations. Louis, our dog, doesn’t eat chocolate so he has his own Easter Bunny ready in the cupboard for the day. Wonder how long it will last?

 

Other table decorations. Our other favourite part of Easter is hot cross buns. We’ll make them for Easter Sunday.

How do you celebrate Easter? What special things do you do and eat?

We have just had Know Your Neighbour Day in Australia. The theme this year has been ” The Importance of a Supportive Neighbourhood for Children and Young People” The idea is to focus on encouraging  all Australians to support safe and welcoming communities for children.

 

 

 

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Pullman Bunker Bay Resort Break

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We’ve just spent four days at the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. Checking in was easy and pleasant. The resort is at Bunker Bay, on a beautiful stretch of white beach. Dunsborough is the nearest town. Busselton, Yallingup, Cowaramup, Gracetown and Margaret River are all quite close.

The en suite was spacious and looked out onto a little courtyard..

We had a studio villa. It was a good size with everything we wanted, including a kitchen area

Outside the door near the kitchen was the tiniest, secluded seating area.  Surprisingly, there’s no Nespresso machine or similar in the villa.

Quiet and calm with lots of nice views around the resort.

Walkway to the beach.

The resort is bordered by the Cape Naturaliste National Park and other bush land. I couldn’t really enjoy walking at night as it is very dark and there is poor lighting around the resort and but no light pollution, either, so lots of stars in an inky sky.

Gorgeous dell en route to the beach.

The beach. White, clean, private and beautiful.

My haul of things to read plus a passion fruit. They are delicious at the moment.

Sand dunes at Bunker Bay Beach.

The accommodation, the staff and the position of the resort were so lovely, as was the breakfast. I really enjoyed the poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and smoked salmon with capers and lemon. My husband also liked the “make your own” muesli. We had villa catering  (room service), dinner from the bar menu and dinner at the restaurant and couldn’t recommend any of them. Best to either go to one of the many restaurants in other towns or prepare your own dinner using ingredients from one of the plentiful sources nearby.

Today is St Patrick’s Day. My parents married on this day 68 years ago. We ate a green iced cake to celebrate.

Yesterday was World Sleep Day, intended to be a celebration of sleep but also focusing on how to get more sleep and emphasizing how good sleep is important for well being.

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Cottesloe Beach and Sculptures By the Sea

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To Cottesloe Beach to view Sculptures by the Sea and to get my regular dose of vitamin sea! This is the 14th  annual Sculptures by the Sea on the iconic Cottesloe Beach, featuring the works of 73 artists  from all  over the world  including Denmark, Slovenia, England, Japan, Thailand, Singapore , Chile, India, Spain, America, Indonesia, Iran, China and, of course, Australia.

Here you can see such a range of themes and media, from a crocheted cat, a dog walker surrounded by dogs, a tent made from recycled toys, an enormous eggplant (aubergine), a skin diver appearing out of the sand and so much more.

The beach is stunning with over a kilometre of clean white sand, views of Rottnest Island in the distance and ships heading out of Fremantle Port and  cool grassed areas shaded by Norfolk Pines. There’s plenty of food across the road including icecreams,  fish and chips, coffee and cake and cafes and restaurants. The icecreams were particularly attractive as it was 36 degrees C (97 degrees F) the day we went.

The beach is such a good place to view these sculptures. You don’t need to get dressed up, it costs nothing, you can get very close to the artworks and touch them, it’s easy to get there and park and when you’re hot from wandering around, you can have a swim in clear, clean waters.

Luckily,  the Fremantle Doctor, the sea breeze which occurs during summer, had arrived by the time we went to the beach. The breeze is called the Fremantle Doctor because of the relief it brings on hot summer days, blowing in from the Indian Ocean.

Sit on the grass and enjoy the artworks and the view and the constant parade of people.

It’s hot in Australia, although we are into Autumn, so everyone is encouraged to use sunscreen. Supplies are placed regularly along the beach.

Sculptures on the grass, the beach and the groyne, and one up a tree.

 

The white, yellow and red structure on stilts isn’t a sculpture, it’s the Surf Lifesaving lookout.

This clever “cubby’ is made of a thousand recycled toys and welcomes children to enter and relax with more toys and soft rugs. The perfect child’s hideaway.

Yesterday was International Woman’s Day, commemorating the movement for women’s rights as well as being the catalyst for change.

Just for some contrast, today is Barbie Day, marking the doll’s debut at The American International Toy Fair in New York, in 1957.

 

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Making Bread, A Curry, Some Art And A Gift For You!

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I was intrigued by a recipe for bread cooked in a slow cooker, so gathered the ingredients and began making it. It was a warm day and the yeast mix began foaming quickly.

When the yeast mixture was frothy I added the flour and began kneading it.

Put the shaped loaf in the slow cooker which I had lined with baking paper then scattered chopped rosemary on top.

Two hours later and a delicious, aromatic loaf was cooked and ready to eat. The original recipe suggested putting the loaf under the grill for a minute or two to make the top more crusty but we couldn’t wait. Search online for a similar recipe if you are interested. I actually prefer oven baked loaves.

Fresh, warm bread and butter. Wonderful.

Officially, autumn has begun in the southern hemisphere, although the temperatures here are still hot, but slowly dropping. The most obvious change is it gets darker a little earlier. We don’t have day light saving in Western Australia so it is light until quite late in summer.

Our reaction to autumn is to make curry! This chicken curry was also made in the slow cooker.

Some chicken dipped in seasoned flour and lots of spices.

And six hours later, a feisty and delicious curry.

We served it on pasta as there was a good amount of sauce. Enough left for the next day, too, and the flavour had matured beautifully.


To mark autumn I made a new pen and glasses elastic holder in red for my diary. As many of you know, I’ve written in my diary every night for many, many years and described how I covered them, printed the marbled front and back lining paper and also the elastic holder here.

The garden is bursting with blooms and very pretty.

Went to the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at the University of Western Australia and really enjoyed their current exhibitions, especially the FLORA pictures from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art. This small collection reflects on the uses of flowers throughout history in decoration, in medicine, in love and death and as part of the ecosystem.

One of my favourites was this Margaret Preston’s “Jug of Flowers” print shown above. I really liked Nora Heysen’s painting “Gladioli”, too. Also at LWAG are Zadok Ben-David: Human Nature and In The Shadows.

( Image used by permission LWAGA.)

This is eucalyptus youngiana, a eucalyptus endemic to Western Australia. To celebrate the first anniversary of my blog I have a printable for you! It is a botanical painting of eucalyptus youngiana which I did some years ago. I wanted to give you a gift which is unique to Western Australia so I searched through so many of my botanical paintings until I found this one. I hope you like it. Please feel free to download and print it for personal use.


To print, click on the image and a printable page will appear, but please be patient as it loads slowly.

Today is Carers Appreciation Day in recognition of the enormous contribution made by paid and unpaid carers. So, if you know a carer, say “thanks” or send a “thankyou” card  or email.

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Gypsies, Food Planning, French Decor and Finding Your Feet

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READING

Local Libraries are a rich source of recently published books, including Mandy Sayer’s, “Australian Gypsies Their Secret History”, which traces the arrival of the first Gypsies in Australia as convicts on the First Fleet, including James Squire, the brewer, whose company still exists today.

Her meticulous research across Australia reveals the origins of Gypsies and their history in Australia. Interestingly, Sayer’s research highlights their ability to adapt to the host culture while still maintaining their own traditions and mores.

Sayer traveled extensively and records the movements of many families and changes to lifestyle as they leave their nomadic lives and settle. Traditionally, the Gypsies preferred to work for themselves and still prefer to work within their family or social groups.

An easy to read, well researched and informative book.

PLANNING

After reading so many blogs about meal planning written by very well organised and inspirational people, I printed off a grid, made a plan and went shopping. Unfortunately, I forgot we were going to the cinema the very first evening of the plan, so not a great start. Will keep trying.

DECORATING

Also another book from the library, written by Australian Jane Webster, who has written two other books about her family moving seasonally to France where she hosts cooking and shopping events for paying guests. Beautiful photos and inspiring story focusing on the renovation and decoration of their chateau in Normandy.

The cover is gorgeous, but hard to read the title, ditto chapter headings.  The photos accompanying each chapter are very chic, French and beautiful.

 

WATCHING

Went to the cinema to see Finding Your Feet. Full of humour and human frailty  and some sadness; this is a very entertaining film. Funny with a great cast. Some wonderful photographic shots of London, too.

Today is Dog Biscuit Day! Dogs will be pleased, just like every other day when they’re given a biscuit.

Dog biscuits were developed in the mid-19th century by an American, James Spatt. He’d been visiting Liverpool, in the UK and saw street dogs hungrily  sniffing out and eating dropped ships’ biscuits.

Made in London, his recipe included both meat and vegetables. Useful for training, these little treats now come in a wide range of flavours and sizes and remain very popular.

Louis, our dog, has trained me well. He often stops in front of the cupboard where his biscuits are kept, looks meaningfully at the cupboard door and then at me and back at the door, and yes, often I give him a biscuit.

 

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Shrove Tuesday, St Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year

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Crepes leading up to Shrove Tuesday.

The word “shrove” derives from shriven, which means being forgiven. Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. Lent is traditionally a period of fasting, or giving up little luxuries, such as chocolate.

Shrove Tuesday dinner treats.

The ingredients symbolise Easter and Springtime (in the Northern Hemisphere)  Eggs represent creation, flour represent the staff of life and milk represents purity.

St Valentine’s Day this year falls on Wednesday, 14th February which is Ash Wednesday. Tricky if you are giving up chocolate for Lent.

There are so many theories about the origin of St Valentine’s Day, more commonly abbreviated to Valentine’s Day now. It has evolved into a celebration of love.

The exchange of cards originated in Victorian times, resulting from the mass production of printed materials.

Victorians were also very interested in floriagraphy, the language of flowers so their choice of flowers  often conveyed hidden meanings

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival begins on February 16th and ends on the second of March.

No firecrackers for us nor red envelopes, but lots of delicious little snacks eaten with the family at our favourite yum cha restaurant.

This is the Year of the Dog. Dogs are honest and loyal and the truest of friends. People born in the Year of the Dog apparently make reliable partners.

Have you celebrated this week?

February 14th is Valentine’s Day and also, in Australia,  Library Lovers’ Day, celebrating how we love libraries and how they have helped shape our national identity. Libraries result in countless hours of entertainment and knowledge through books, CDs, activities, story telling and access to newspapers and other sources of information. You can also download films and documentaries……and it’s all free.

There is one public library for every 15 000 people in Australia. Drop into your local library to find out the events planned this week and enroll if you’re not a member.

LOVE YOUR LIBRARY

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