The heaters are finally off at Benedict House and the windows open to breathe the fresh air. The lilac is in bloom and the herbs and vegetables thriving. The Spring menu is out and garden seating. Casual cotton caftans are in.
My favourite seat in the garden to watch the vegies grow
The rooms at Benedict House are a bloom with wonderful silk flowers as well as fresh flowers. Vases of reds and creams, perfect for Christmas, are bountiful in the red room. Also there are table decorations, berry runners, wreaths and a range of decorations. French ribbons are in stock for wrapping of that special gift.
Christmas is looming once again!
Silk flowers for a stunning natural theme this season
Jessica Shelton has taken up residency at Benedict House for the remainder of 2012.
Her modelling career has been put temporarily on hold as she recovers from a broken foot. While she is catching up with family Jessica is helping customers at Benedict House with their accessories styling. Customers are most welcome to come out to Benedict House with their garments to seek advice on jewellery designs and styling ideas.
Jessica has worked in Milan, Paris and New York since the age of 16. She has experience in all fashion genres, both formal and casual. She has appeared in magazine issues of Harpers Bazaar, Grazia, Italian Marie Claire, and V Magazine. Her relaxed approach is endearing and creates an easy repour with clients.
We have an extensive display of jewellery at Benedict House varying from one off pieces as well as a range of contemporary styles. Customers can have jewellery made to order for their specific outfit.
The retail experience at Benedict House is the antithesis in many ways to the online experience. The holistic approach is one of involving the customer in a creative experience. The senses are aroused by the hands on displays, a relationship between maker and buyer, raw materials and with the added aromas from the kitchen and garden. Quietly contemplating under the shade of the Irish strawberry tree is just one part of a unique experience at this award winning venue in Queanbeyan.
Come and say Hi to Jessica!
‘Travel is at its most rewarding when it ceases to be about your reaching a destination and becomes indistinguishable from living your life’
Great Trains to the Eastern Star
I will not bore you more with travel stories today except I would like to share some photos of Agriturismo La Striscia, on the outskirts of Arezzo in Tuscany. I stayed alone in one of the five apartments where I felt most welcome but also very free.
In sharing the converted farm and vineyard with others, strangers became friends. With uncommon languages, good wine, good food, we listened to each others opinions long into the night. Not necessarily a luxurious place but it was very creatively designed by Italian actress Ilaria Occhini. For me it made 5 star luxury hotels pale into insignificance.
On a recent trip to Melbourne, I was given a large collection of vintage buttons, fur trimmings and haberdashery. The collection came from the studio of Laurie McCarthy, well known shirt makers. The hand made Liberty print buttons have never been used and are beautiful quality. They were originally intended for Liberty blouses in the 1960′s.
After being inspired at the Florence fresh food markets I am planting the zucchini seeds on this rainy day. The zucchini flowers were abundant in the supermarkets in Umbria and very reasonably priced compared to here.
The round zucchini’s were often stuffed with herbed meats. I am hoping to have a big crop this summer so they can feature on our summer menu.
I am preparing the Christmas group functions menu now as bookings are rolling in for Nov/Dec social groups and end of year work lunches. The courtyard is a delightful spot if the weather permits. I’m gathering suppliers of the freshest ingredients for our festive salads and berry pavlovas. Best to book early so we can be prepared!
Some parts of Umbria reminded me of the bush in Australia even though it is so much more densely populated. The small two carriage private trains reminded me of the Moree-Croppa Creek motor rail! I would have conversations with some of the locals – neither comprehending the other – both using the hands like a musical conductor, smiling and nodding in agreement.
The small private train trip to Todi, described by Hemingway as ‘the most perfect place in the world’ was delightful. Assissi has the magnificent cathedral full of Giotto paintings. I have been studying them since I was 15 and I was completely overwhelmed – bringing me to tears. The university city of Perugia came alive with the annual jazz festival attracting musicians and spectators from around the world.
The coffees are so good one has to drink espressos and short blacks. The men and women dress so smartly one is pleased to be incognito as a ‘tourist’. ‘Bella Figura’ is alive and well, the men in particular – very smart in their dress. I could not resist sneaking candid shots.
Jazz festival in Perugia
New Orleans jazz band in Perugia
Noemi of Marsciano shares her freshly made bread
Shopping and gossiping
Sweeping the verandah at the Assissi Cathedral
Todi - the most liveable place on earth?
Custard powder was never in my mother’s pantry. The only custard our family eats is the one we make ourselves – eggs, milk, vanilla and a little sugar. Stirred simply till it coats the back of a wooden spoon it is great comfort food served with tarts or crumbles in winter. It is a healthy alternative to ice cream for all the family. We enjoyed it cold with sliced banana as children.
The humble pear – a versatile fruit and always well priced in their long growing season. Painters of the still life genre have been painting them for centuries and each year I cannot resist the bright green of Packham and the warm tones of Bosc.
When the painting is done I cook them up in red wine, brown sugar and cinnamon, put them on tarts with frangipane filling, make them into a crumble with blackberries or slice them thinly for a salad.
The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood. ~ John Burroughs
Good afternoon all,
My goodness I am feeling the dark evenings, dark mornings and dank cold this year. Does the feeling come with age? The only consolation is that one does more indoor creative things. TV is not worth watching, one may as well make stuff. Our crochet classes with Roxanne are full with people who are doing just that!
A few tough old Alyssum plants are the only colour in the garden. Don’t mind the bare trees showing their structure.
Time for Tea and time to Tango this Sunday – drop at 3pm in for tea tasting, paintings of tea cups. Discussions on the benefits of home made herbal teas and High Tea (booked out) I will be hanging the watercolours of ‘tea cups’ that I painted in the Summer.
I have to surprise many of you in saying that the renovated Royal Hotel in Queanbeyan is the place to be on Friday evenings. It’s hard to get a table for dinner after 6.30pm. Just wait for the summer when the doors open and we sit in the evening air on the Italian furniture due to arrive in spring. Worth a visit.
Tis the season of the persimmon. John from next door brings me boxes and this old fashion fruit is giving many people delight. Rocket grows throughout the winter and Frank brings us freshly picked rocket for our salads.
Buderim Ginger Cordial – dropped into Ginger and Lemon tea, can be most comforting on these cold nights. Brings heat to the chest says Natalie – who waitresses here on the weekends, teaches bead making on Wednesdays, makes hair accessories AND mothers three young children and broody hens. If you see her around here have a chat to her but you have to be quick as she does not linger for long.
My son Fergus was training for the ‘Four’ but his rowing partner Drew Ginn injured his ribs and eventually was forced to retire. This impacted on Fergus’ selection– and he has now been named as a ‘spare athlete’ – which is a reserve in our terminology. It has been a long and stressful selection process for him – from April till June. He is over there now, in a positive space and hopefully feels some reward for his 8 years of training!