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Category: News

Talking Frames

The other day a friend and I spent ages on the phone discussing frames — picture frames. I know — thrilling isn’t it, but hey! that’s my life at the moment.

She was having trouble deciding how to frame an original print she’d bought. And since she lives in rural Australia, there wasn’t a lot of choice. And some pictures she’d bought already framed, but the framing chosen actually detracted from the picture instead of highlighting it.
Hence the long discussion, with various photos flying back and forth on email as we talked.

I have quite a few paintings and prints in my house. Some were bought back when I was a student, and I was lucky in that a good friend of mine worked part time in a picture framing business owned by his family. He framed all my prints and paintings in his spare time, for the cost of the materials, and he did it so beautifully they have stood the test of time — I still love them.

I also used to spend a lot of time poking through junk shops and found a number of old picture frames. The one above on the right I found in an old shed in the country, full of junk that was for sale and I bought it for a few dollars. It was filthy and coated in dark oily grime but I could see it had real potential —it was hand carved from a sold slab of wood. So I scrubbed off the oily grime  and then scraped out every little carved indent with a pair of nail scissors.  And it came up a treat. I found a pencil drawing in a magazine that reminded me of a photo of my mother as a school girl, and popped it in the frame — where it remains to this day.

Another old frame I found has a beautiful decorative border. The glass is also slightly wavy, which means it was made back in the days when glass was rolled out. I got it very cheap because the corner was damaged and also it was really old fashioned but not regarded by the seller as an antique — just junk.. I loved it and I don’t mind the damaged border — it adds to the frame’s story. That’s a bit of it on the left. I used it to frame a Gauguin print of two Breton girls, and I think the frame suits it perfectly.

On the right and below is another old frame I bought years ago. It’s beautiful and quite large, and I love the  gold highlighted acorn pattern around the edge. You can see a close-up of it below.

The frame is still in very good condition, but for some reason I have never found a picture for it — no idea why. But since the discussion with my friend I am now on the lookout for the perfect picture to go in it.

What about you — do like to scour junk shops in search of  treasures? Found any you especially love?

Baking bikkies.

I’m continuing on from the previous post about Chocolate HobNobs and Digestive biscuits, with a little bit of history and a few recipes. To start with, here’s how Digestives got their name.

In 1839, a pair of Scottish doctors added some sodium bicarbonate to the usual biscuit mixture of flour, sugar and butter. This was thought to have the same fundamental properties and health benefits you might find in an antacid and thus would aid digestion.They had invented the Digestive Biscuit. In 1892, Alexander Grant developed and patented the original, prototypical recipe for McVitie’s digestive biscuits.

For those of you who can’t buy HobNobs or Chocolate Wheaten Biscuits, I’ve dug out a few different recipes for you to try. Sadly I’m not planning to bake any of them myself. I’ve put on a few extra pounds in the last few weeks, so I’m trying to lose them again, and thus will restrict myself  to calorie-free virtual biscuits with my cuppa.
But if anyone does try any of these recipes, take a photo of your bikkies (or cookies) and email it to me, along with a link to the recipe you used and any comment you have about the final result. I’ll post them here, as I’m sure people would love to hear about them.

This recipe got a lot of likes online. It’s for digestive biscuits, and you can add  the chocolate topping at the end.

Fellow writer Erin Grace made the bikkies in the photo. Don’t they look delicious?  It’s a shame we can’t taste them. Here’s a link to the recipe she used.

For those of us who have gluten intolerant people or vegans in the family here’s a gluten-free vegan recipe for Chocolate HobNobs  that looks pretty yummy. 

And finally, here’s a Jamie Oliver recipe for homemade digestive biscuits.

Doing Vital Research

I’ve just done some important research (cough cough) and I know you’ll appreciate my dedication.

I’ve been reading some English books lately — rom-coms, some of those those “woman escapes from rotten old life and starts a new one along with gorgeous new man” books, and also cosy-ish UK crime novels, and in each one of them the heroine kept munching on chocolate hobnobs. The universe was clearly sending me a message!

So, naturally I had to discover what this important aid-to-literature was. (I’m conscientious like that, dedicated to my craft!)

I found them in the biscuit (cookie) aisle at my local supermarket. And lo, I found there was an English version (called unsurprisingly Chocolate hobnobs) and an Australian one, called Chocolate Wheaten Biscuits. They looked the same, but a search on-line explained the difference: The wheaten bikkies are made with wholemeal flour and baking powder, while hobnobs are made with rolled oats and white self-raising flour.

But my task was to try the hobnobs — brave of me, I know, because  in all these books, the heroines were clearly  addicted to chocolate hobnobs. The things I risk for you, my readers!

The verdict? They were very nice. The oatmealy base made you feel as though you were eating something healthy, and the chocolate topping was your reward for being healthy. Obviously.

I don’t buy biscuits as a rule — because they just seem to disappear  — I know, strange! And a bit spooky! — but now I’m wondering whether I should have been more scientific and bought  a packet of chocolate hobnobs AND one of chocolate wheaten biscuits so I could properly compare them.

What do you think? Should I test both kinds?  Are you impressed with my dedication to my craft?
Do you have a favourite (favorite) chocolate biscuit (cookie)?