Tuesday, 30 December 2014

brunch on the mountain

After glazing madly the past week - including Christmas afternoon/evening - I feel a little more relaxed.  This weekend marks the last of the “big holiday markets” of the Christmas/New Year season.
With an assortment of clay goodies fired and waiting to cool in the kiln on Sunday morning, hubby and I took a drive around the mountain on our quest for coffee.
We were not disappointed.
Rounding a deep corner, we happened upon a quaint little place that is under new management.

There are cafés a plenty in these parts. Some are favourites, which we frequent regularly. Some aren’t placed very well and/or don’t appeal. Others don’t pull a good coffee, so we tend to avoid them.

But, when the sign for a café includes the words, “scrumptious” and, even better… “snuggery pre-loved bookshop”, well, of course, I’m in!!

Snug. Snuggle. Snuggery. What better invitation does one need?   Especially when a long time dream of mine used to be owning a coffee/bookshop with big comfy couches and booths to while away a rainy day.

The little old wooden cottage, enveloped by gracefully aged deciduous trees and gardens, has always looked inviting. Now, even more so.

Entering through the gate, which is guarded by stone eagles, we were greeted by real life cheeky white cockatoos gathered above, shrieking to alert the café staff that customers have arrived.

'allo, 'allo, 'allo!

When we walked through the wooden door into the warm, welcoming front room, I gasped with delight… a Christmas book tree!

just makes one smile

Having much admired the photo of a similar tree at Elephant's Child, I didn’t think I’d be so lucky to see one in person.
I love it!  Hubby thought it was, “pretty cool” also.

This quaint cottage café has great ambience, with bookcases throughout, filled with second hand books (available to buy at great prices), a fireplace in every room, comfy chairs and tables with patina and thankfully, great coffee.  That’s a very good sign.


We wanted to stay a while, so hubby decided to treat us to brunch.
The menu has so many choices, and I had a time choosing. This is no bland, standard, same as everywhere else, fare.
I mean, how good is it to see a menu that offers “thick doorstop toast”…?  No meagre slices here, folks. But good quality, home cooked food with local produce, cage free eggs, and options to adapt for gluten free, vegans and vegetarians.

As we arrived just on opening, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and could choose from any of the rooms in the charmingly rambling abode. We chose “the nook”.

Christmas-time in Australia is usually hideously hot, sticky and uncomfortable – I’m just not a high summer lovin’ girl.  But we are fortunate that the mountain still offers very cool nights and brisk, chilly mornings – at least til January. Then, the climate here invariably catches up with the rest of the country.
So, it was a very pleasant surprise to find fires burning in some of the charming little hearths, “to take the chill off the morning air”.

I can imagine how lovely this place will be on a cold, wet, winter’s day.  Heaven.

After a generous, hearty morning meal of fat, juicy, tender portobello mushrooms topped with a sauce including chopped, sweet button mushrooms and spring onion, a small side salad and crisp French toast, I took the opportunity to explore and take a few pics while hubby sat back and relaxed.

Now, who doesn’t love to suddenly come across a knight in rusty armour?

how awesome!

As someone who loves scrabble, I thought this is, ahem, a novel idea for a book cafe :)



a cosy, sunny corner

I have to admit that I'm not (and hope never to have to be) a kindle or electronic reading device owner.
I will always prefer to hold in my hands a "real" bound book - especially one that has that particular mythical, magical, musty smell that an electronic device just can't replicate - such things will never arouse the senses like the tattered, dog eared, richly illustrated, earl grey tea tinted pages from tomes of old.....  achoo! Bless you ;)

It’s wonderful to be able to peruse the bookshelves, and be encouraged to sit in a cosy corner to read while sipping a coffee, specialty tea or - oh my - a hot chocolate made with no less than fifteen generous pieces of luscious Lindt couverture chocolate, sitting silkily in the bottom of a tall glass of hot milk!

I’m so glad that the youthful, silly days of almost starving myself to stay a tiny size 8 are well behind me, and I can relish (without guilt) such luxuries :D

And, life is waaay too short to pass on this..... their “signature dessert”.

Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream.  Decadent.  Delicious.  Deadly.
Perfect at anytime.
Of course, I ordered it.  And, it was as good as it looks, only... better  :)

Their menu is vast and enticing. There will be many visits needed to try dishes and drinks that appeal to me.   Like the Irish coffee, which I’ll wait to order on cold, frosty, winter days to sip slowly by the fire. Then there’s the Frangelico Affogato…. 'cuse me while I stop to stare out the window and plan my next visit...

For tea lovers, there is a great selection of bespoke teas. Even I was enticed by their specialty teas, one with the tempting name, “Fields of Gold”.  The menu describes, “amazingly fresh and uplifting herbal and fruit blend including chamomile, strawberry, cherry pieces, berry leaves, lemon peel, peppermint, lemongrass and vanilla”.

There’s something for everyone, and all without the often outrageous prices found in some chic inner city cafés.

This little gem on the mountain also has options to sit outside and enjoy deep, cool shade from lime green elms and verdant oaks.

A wander in the garden reveals little delights…

On our way out, I did a double take.
Is that? Could it be? Yes. A creature I had often seen in books, but not in life.

A Sphynx cat.

This very handsome, one year old boy is called ‘Dante’.  Really, what a great name for a cat.
Dante’s owner sat with her coffee as she monitored his investigative amble through the garden.

He was very well behaved, not remotely interested in running away and returned to her to be placed back into his special carrier, ready for his trip home.
I was asked if I’d like to hold him, and I nodded enthusiastically.
Now before anyone says, “ewwwww, that would feel strange.” I have to say that Dante felt like... sensuous, warm velvet. An utterly unique and delightful tactile sensation, and I can understand why Sphynx are loved by those who have them in their life.
Dante really was quite the cuddly, deeply purring charmer.

And so ended a delicious brunch on the mountain at a magical little place, which just so happens to be called Brunch Café-Restaurant.
If anyone living in Victoria, Australia or anywhere in this big, wide world, wishes to visit the Dandenong Ranges and experience more of the magic the mountain has to offer, I highly recommend a trip to Brunch.

You might even see me there… I know I’ll be haunting it regularly ;)


I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!
May 2015 be kind to you all, and I sincerely wish that good health, peace and contented happiness bless your homes and all who live within them.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas wishes...

for those dreaming of a White Christmas

for those dreaming of a Beach Christmas

for those dreaming of a Quiet Christmas


for those dreaming of a Safe Christmas for loved ones


for those dreaming of a Magical Christmas


for those dreaming of Peace on (this tumultuous) Earth


as you wish upon a star, may your wishes come true

I wish for you all... good health, joy, love, laughter and hugs ~
especially for your furbabes  :)


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Dog Days - December

The emotional life of the dog is highly developed - more highly, indeed, than that of any other animal.
~ George Romanes 

While I agree most definitely in part with this quote, I must say that, I don’t believe “emotions” – anthropomorphically speaking – are reserved just for dogs.

And I’m absolutely sure most of you have experienced extra special relationships with many beautiful sentient creatures. Animals possess senses and knowing far beyond the limited range of our own.

I have loved animals who have displayed a very wide range of emotions.
Like my dear and incredibly intelligent British Alpine goat “Ella”.  Now, she was special…


Just in case anyone has wondered where I've disappeared to, I have been on the mad market merry-go-round for the past few months now, and feel drained and exhausted.
No matter how much stock I made for each market, I would sell most of it, leaving me seriously short for the following (pre-paid) stall.  Each week saw me doing overtime to come up with a full table for the weekend.
Many late nights at my studio table, staring out the window from time to time into the inky forest blackness, while the world slept.
I've existed on chocolate and coffee to get me through :)

And, it’s not over yet.

With my last Christmas market done and dusted yesterday, I must now produce for the huge New Year holiday market in January.
Having but two weeks to prep, make clay, speed dry (candling), bisque fire, glaze madly in an assortment of delicious colours, glaze fire, assemble and pack - in time for the eve of the market.
All this with Christmas smack bang in the middle. Gulp.

I’ll put in long hours, push through moments of delirium and sleep deprivation, and manage to stay on top of things – just.
Believe me, I’m not ungrateful, but…

… right now, at this very moment, all I really want is to be this cute kitty, blissfully content in the arms of an angel on a swing…