December 16th, 2016

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The holidays are damn hard for those far from home. In an attempt to not be too maudlin, but also acknowledge my deep love for Australia, I am putting together an all Aussie edition of the SBL. So much good stuff! A whole continent’s worth, in fact.

Speaking of Australia, and being a long way away, I also want to say HAPPY 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY to my parents … who hit the big 5-0 this weekend. I love you both so much. Role models, friends, inspiration, motivation and so dear to so many people. Andrew and I (and Phil, Kath, Amelia, Lily, James, Libby and Michael, all the Rogersons, McDonalds and Stephensons) are perhaps some of the luckiest people on the planet to call you family. Have an excellent celebration, we will be there in spirit(s).

xox

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Looking:
The instagram account of Australian artist Adam Lee is such a good behind-the-scenes record of an artist’s life and practice. Divinity, natural history, historical inspiration through to contemporary music and film inform the work of an artist who is gathering world recognition and appreciation. I would stick some of these pieces in my “coveting” section or a “wildly dreaming of having these hang on my walls” section, because they just blow my mind and I would love to see them in person.

He has a solo show, LAMENT ASUNDER (All Is Dark Is Midnight To Me), coming up at Station in Melbourne, January 24 to Feb 18.

Aside from Station, he is represented by Angell Gallery in Toronto, and Beers Gallery in London. Take the time to marvel at his work on his website.

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Remembering, Not Remembering, Parading:
This is an image (above) from my childhood – Father Christmas on his float at the 1974 John Martin’s Christmas Parade in Adelaide. I had almost forgotten this entirely. I may not have been at this particular parade but was definitely there through most of the late 70s. I would crane to see over the crowd to catch a glimpse of the two little girls chosen to be Christmas fairies riding on the back of two float-bound fibre-glass rocking horses, Nipper and Nimble. In the sweltering heat, standing next to my BFF Dan, who looked exactly like a 7 year old Luke Skywalker, I would think “ONE DAY THAT WILL BE ME” –  along with every other kid in the crowd. It seems it’s still a big deal.

One of the major draw cards of the parade for a long time was a life-size mechanical elephant, Nelly, who was introduced in 1950 but quickly became notorious for breaking down. If Nelly still existed in the parade in the 70s I have truly repressed this memory, which is not surprising because look at her terrifying chimpanzee brass-playing passengers.

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“She is the perfect robot and wonderfully lifelike. Her eyes have a cunning gleam, her trunk swings almost to the ground, she has the intriguing shuffling gait of the real article and her hide has that concertina carpet bag character peculiar to elephants. Live elephants occasionally become obstinate. Nellie is tractability itself. Press one lever and she does one thing; another control, and she does another, all under perfect command. Externally, Nellie is a work of art. Internally, she is a mechanical marvel.” — The Advertiser, October 14th, 1950

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Reading:
Lily just received Richard Roxburgh’s chapter book Artie and the Grime Wave from my folks. You might recall that I posted about the fabulous TV show Rake earlier this year, and Roxburgh is the sparkly star. He is also a hilarious author and illustrator, and this book is must for the 7-12 set. Mum also recommends the audio book, read with lots of personality by Roxburgh himself.

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Listening:
I am quite loving Tash Sultana from Melbourne – this bedroom recording of the loops and layers of Jungle will having you moving.

Last week, in a small bar in an icy Canadian city, I danced to a band playing a cover of this song – Chet Faker’s No Diggity. And I gotta tell you, I love this cruisey version so much. It’s not all that new, but I’m sharing it anyway because dancing in a Canadian pub to an Australian song fits my theme for the week.

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iPadding:
David Hockney Current
at the National Gallery of Victoria. Clearly this is not strictly Australian, but the show is on at an Australian gallery until March 13, 2017 and man, I wish I could see it. In the video above, David Hockney reflects on the show. It’s worth looking at for the first 20 seconds alone to watch him walk through the gallery. I just love what he has been doing and at such scale. The work seems to vibrate with the colour and electricity that helped create it. Luckily I have Melbourne friends so instagram photos of the gallery keep popping up and it’s a joy every time.

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“People from the village come up and tease me: ‘We hear you’ve started drawing on your telephone,’” Mr. Hockney said in a quotation displayed in the exhibition. “And I tell them, ‘Well, no, actually, it’s just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.’” – from the New York Times

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring David Corbet
Dancer and Doctor
Most often found at Davidcorbet.com and Twitter.

I first met David when standing on the beer-soaked carpet of the Empress Hotel in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy just after his 90s band, Cuddlefish, had played a set. We later worked together on music reviews and laughs at Melbourne University’s student magazine and have kept in contact over the years. I’m sad to say that I have only seen him dance once in all this time but that’s on my wishlist for the future. Maybe a Canadian tour is in order? Thanks David:

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I feel like I might have done a little bit of arm twisting to get onto Claire’s Newsletter, but nonetheless here’s a short list of some favourites.

1. I have no idea who Dave King is other than he’s a drummer with an “instructional series” on YouTube that features “tips, tricks, inspiration, and industry secrets”, the first episode I watched had me in tears. Part sociocultural philosphical lecture, part stream of consciousness, part drumming – what’s not to like?

2. I’ve never really liked OKGO’s music that much but I have always admired their videos – that combination of science, maths, primary colours, and clever ideas never fails to make me smile and provides an element of wonder. And somehow they keep managing to make them more and more interesting. I thought the use of zero gravity was a bit of a pinnacle, but they’ve just released a new one using high frame rate shooting to capture almost the entire 4 minute clip in 4 seconds. Impressive. For something from a completely different realm, but no less impressive, The Avalanches and Soda_Jerk have made this sample based bit of art – The Was – and a good read on it is available too.

3. The ocean. My work can be pretty stressful at times, and I’ve struggled with finding a bit of balance in the last few years. But there is nothing that makes me feel better than spending some time in the ocean. The water where we live is still a bit cool, but going for a bodysurf regularly helps keep me sane. Being in the swell and surge of the ocean and catching waves always gives me some perspective on my worries and the world. If you haven’t seen Come Hell or High Water it is a beautifully shot documentary about bodysurfing that explains something about what it’s like to be in the water.

4. One of my favourite things in medicine at the moment is the new Hepatitis C treatments (well, actually not that new, but the Australian Government has only made it available on the PBS from March this year – which subsidises the cost, making it accessible). It’s a form of Direct Acting Antiviral therapy that has an excellent cure rate and a low side effect profile. This has changed the face of Hep C treatment. It used to be that Hep C treatment could only be undertaken by Hepatologists or GPs who had done further training, but now it’s available for prescription directly from your GP – again, what’s not to like? More people have been treated in the months since March than in the last few years.

5. Kicking the footy. I grew up not liking Australian Rules Football. I was a fairly nerdy kid and did like sport but found AFL too rough. So I never really followed it until my son started getting into AusKick (and my daughter does now too). After a few years I became quite obsessed with footy. It’s an amazingly fast game that requires elite level running, precision hand/eye/foot control, agility, poise and strength. And working as a team. I really don’t think there’s anything else quite like it. The AFL is launching it’s first national women’s league next year, which is great for the game. My son has become a pretty good footballer and won a best and fairest award last year – that’s him in the picture. Anyway, come and have a kick sometime. It’s fun. https://www.instagram.com/p/7chisNN940/

6. I know it’s meant to be five but I also wanted to mention my dad. And my mum. Dad has had a torrid time in the last 18 months or so – being diagnosed with bowel cancer, having major surgery and being extremely unwell, recovering, feeling well, traveling the world, and more recently, sadly, having a recurrence of his cancer. After finally recovering from the surgery last year I wanted to do something special for them – and somehow through the interwebs I stumbled on Orly Faya. She paints people into the landscape. I love my parents dearly, and it is so so painful to live with knowing that my dad will die due to this cancer in the not too distant future. At the same time, I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with him and have such joy about his life and what we still have to share. So this sixth favourite thing is simply life, and what it so often unexpectedly brings… to challenge us, to inspire us, to move us, and to constantly change us if we can be open to it.

Thanks Claire for a chance to share my favourites.

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Delighting

Five Australian delights for a Friday

1) I am so happy to find RockWiz on SBS On Demand after setting up an account (or signing in through Facebook) you can almost smell the atmosphere at the old Espy hotel where they film the weekly music quiz show. “Rock music’s most famous faces continue to mix it with the best local trivia buffs. Host Julia Zemiro asks the questions and Brian Nankervis adjudicates over the mayhem.” Uh oh, I’m never going to finish this newsletter now that I’ve found this.

2) Anyone in Australia want to make some quick cash? I went to a candy-import store last week to look for some Cherry Ripes for the kids’ stockings. No luck. The owner of the store told me that if he had a Cherry Ripe import business he would be the richest man on Vancouver Island… Instead of immediately establishing my own import business, I looked on Amazon. $7 USD for a bar? Hey you Aussies! You are sitting on a cherry-filled, dark-chocolate-covered gold-mine!

3) Please Like Me on Netflix Is Amelia’s recommendation for this week. Twenty-something Australian bitter-sweet comedy which makes me feel a little homesick and a little nostalgic. A little worrying note – I was tempted to turn on the subtitles because I CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE PEOPLE AND THEIR FUNNY ACCENTS! (even if they are my people – I need an Australian visit!).

4) Australian flowers for your legs: Beautiful tights (and other accessories) featuring vibrant Australian flora. “Building on the tradition of contemporary Australiana, Julie White’s images of native flora and fauna capture the mystery and excitement of the bush, the desert and the sea, with an exuberance that is entirely her own.”

5) Christmas in Australia – in 1958 from the National Film and Sound Archive.  Bizarre creepy santas, bush picnics and a cookie-cutter all-white sanitised christmas experience. This was obviously in a time before rampant skin-cancer, the collapse of the white-australia policy and also flies… Where are the flies at the picnics?

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I’m taking a bit of time off so I’ll be back with more Small Batch Listy goodness in 2017. Happy holidays to you and yours. Thanks for reading! Thanks for looking past the typos and the errors. I’m off on a ferry across an icy straight to enjoy some Star Wars, so there’s not time to proof read.

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was from A Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon & Garfunkle or the Bangles.

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December 9th, 2016

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December 9th, 2016
I’ve been laid low with a wintery cold this week, but I rallied to do this newsletter-in-brief, because I love you.

I really do.

You, gentle readers, have turned my 2016 around in ways you can’t imagine. Just so you know, I appreciate every subscribe and every read. I love every email and suggestion and kind passing comment in the coffee shop. I have been surprised by the enthusiasm and support that I have received even though it’s just an email newsletter. I am so happy to be publishing.

Sick and sentimental!

Okay… Here are some good links:

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Looking:
This is the instagram account of Sean Charmatz, a storyboard writer and director at Dreamworks and creator of Secret World of Stuff… a series of short animated gems that will make you smile. (Thanks Amelia!)

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Attending:
I wish I was attending Shiny Fuzzy Muddy craft fair in Vancouver this weekend. If you do, drop by Julie MacKinnon Ceramics and tell her I said hi! She makes the most lovely stuff. And while you are there, sign up for one of her workshops – or get yourself on a mailing list – because they are the best.

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Watching
We are lucky to have the small film studio Hek’s Half Acre Studio here on Salt Spring Island, headed up by the multi-talented auteur Keith Picot: “The silent films on my [youtube] channel are all written, directed, edited and cast by myself..along with building sets and props. The films are, on the most part very short and of a slap-stick nature. Some have been commissioned as advertisements whilst others have been made for the sheer joy of the creating.”

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Local businesses collaborate with Hek’s Half Acre Studio to create whimsical, 1930s style, silent black and white film advertisements featuring a cast of characters made up from employees and other locals. When going to see a film at the local movie house, Keith’s movies are often the opening act, and it’s not unusual to be watching one and look over into the faces in the audience and see, if not the stars themselves, at least friends and relatives pointing and laughing.

All Keith’s movies are so well done, with so few anachronisms, that it’s hard to believe that they were created just recently. (Oh except – look, there’s the guy who is my favourite service clerk at the check-out, and there’s the guy who knows which fruits are the ripest in the produce section. Oh! There’s Rob! And the other Rob! And there are Julie’s kids! And Julie’s dad! My favourite coffee shop! Jana’s shop! etc etc.)

I love seeing all the familiar faces in the latest Christmas offering Lucky’s Letter, and Keith is an epic talent.

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sbl091216_listening Indie-pop band Milo Green has released the new song We Kept The Lights Onthe sounds of which makes me feel a little nostalgic for the 80s.

Do you ever listen to Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour  weekly on BBC6 music? If not, you should. Host and Elbow front-man Garvey has eclectic tastes and always great guests filling in for him when away on tour. I just found out last week that C Duncan has a new album and liked the track Garvey played. Atmospheric and soporific! Party!

Speaking of Elbow, they will have a new album out next February. The first track is Magnificent (She Says). I do say.

 

 

 

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Five Friday Favourites- guest-starring Daniel Bogan

Web nerd and lazy illustrator wannabe (and yes that’s really my last name).
Most often found on Twitter and at The SetUp.

Thank you to Daniel for taking some time out of his busy life to write this up for me!

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1. The Apple Pencil
It’s the closest digital thing I’ve found to drawing with a pen on paper – every time I pick it up it continues blows my mind (at least until I have to charge it, anyhow).

2. A Fortunate Life, by Albert Facey
The fascinating autobiography of an Australian living through some amazing hardships shortly before World War I, we were forced to read this in high school and so of course I resented it, until I discovered my probably-accidentally-not-returned-school-library copy a few years later and re-read it. I want to come back to this one every decade or so.

3. Café coffee
You could save a few bucks and make it at home, but I love befriending the people at the local café – that little buzz from becoming a regular, people knowing your drink, knowing the people that make your drink, being a small part of a community.

4. Angry women singing
The first concert I ever attended was Babes in Toyland at The Metro in Sydney, and that was it for me. Hole, Bikini Kill, L7, and all of their friends, screaming into my ears forever, loudly.

5. Being a dad
Finally, someone my own mental age! It’s the best.

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:

1) The 25 Best Films of 2016: A Video Countdown. This montage of clips from the year’s great movies makes me want to go out and make all the films… or at least see them. David Ehrlich, senior editor at indiewire.com, counts down his favourite 25. (thanks Jason K)

2) So much Cate! So good. Cate Blanchette plays 13 different characters in Manifesto, an installation at Park Avenue Armory, New York. Artist Julian Rosefeldt gives us (warning, artspeak:) “a collage of artistic declarations from the past century reinterpreted as poetic monologues to provoke timeless questions about the gendered, social, and political contexts that shape the artist’s role in society.”

3) “Seager’s challenge is that she has dedicated her life to the search for the smallest lights.” The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth – The star-crossed life of Sara Seager, an astrophysicist obsessed with discovering distant worlds.

4) A Late Style of Fire – Larry Levis, American Poet:  “The question every artist faces: What am I willing to give to my art? The answer, for the rare few whose work outlives them, is everything. The brilliant writing and troubled life of Californian Larry Levis came to an abrupt halt when he died at age 49. Is self-destruction required for a serious life of art?” – this documentary looks fascinating. While I swore to myself that I would not mention snow in this newsletter, here is my friend Carrie Cogan’s favourite poem by Larry Levis which she sent me today. I love it. And the snow. And Carrie. In a Country.

5) Peppermint Bark – this is the one recipe I feel compelled to share every single year. Make this! A lot of it. You won’t be sorry. (Don’t make this if you happen to teach one of my children, you know who you are. Well, do, if you want even more).

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Thanks for reading! Hopefully next week I will be back to my sparkly self. Or at least get my voice back.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was from Kate Bush’s song Dream of Sheep.

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December 2nd, 2016

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December 2nd, 2016

A sign of the times: I have just seen that Dolly Magazine has decided to stop producing its print editions. First published in 1970, Dolly has been the absolute bible of girl-teen culture in Australia for 46 years. I, for one, discovered many things in those pages – that kissing could involve tongues (what the what?!), that court shoes look quite excellent with three-quarter length jeans with zips, a slouchy sweatshirt looks totally rad cinched in with a belt (well, duh), and that Mel Gibson was at one time very hot, and very cool.

I am sad about the demise of print magazines. Of course it’s seemingly inevitable and probably better for the environment, but there is nothing quite like curling up with a magazine and a cup of tea in your favourite arm chair while Wham! plays in the background.

Fortunately there are a couple of fabulous print mags around that I hope will not disappear any time soon. While they may never have Nicole Kidman’s perm on the cover, or the answers that Dolly Doctor gave us about strange rashes and unwanted hair, they are still lovely to collect. I highly recommend Frankie magazine, also from Australia, and the creatively inspiring Uppercase magazine, which exists in print edition only. I love both these publications, as not only informative and entertaining reads, but also as beautiful objects to be held and treasured. Vive le print publication! Next year I might even introduce a little Small Batch List small batch zine. Because I don’t think I can resist.

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Looking:
Do you know Nathalie Lété? She is a French illustrator, artist, ceramicist and designer whose beautiful and quirky art and homewares can be found in stores, homes, galleries and cafes around the world. Her painterly approach is naive, timeless and lush. I have a set of her elaborately decorated dinner plates that come out on special occasions and I dream of her wallpaper. Her instagram is full of her work, her family life and her world travels. Enormous amounts of her stuff can be found on her website.

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Listening:
Hey – I do like this song; Allan Rayman’s 22.25. Apparently he is a mysterious R&B artist who barely exists on the internet. It doesn’t matter. This song speaks for itself.

Laura Marling has a new song – and a sexy video to go with it. Soothing is the first track from her new album, Semper Femina, which is not out until March 10, 2017.

Oud music (a new weekly segment?!) – not new, but new to me – Hamza El Din’s – Assaramessuga (Childhood) from 1965. I discovered it this week when listening to the Dinner Party Download – musician Fantastic Negrito picked this song to play at a dinner party because as he says:
“…it’s so festive, simple, and primitive, in a sense. And it feels like they would have played this a thousand years ago at a dinner party. It sounds as old as humanity. And it still resonates to the present day.”

I’m off to see Frazey Ford this week – you know this song, right?

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Papercutting (OMG-ing)

Paperholm, A growing paper city, daily models by Charles Young
“Paperholm began in August 2014 as a daily project by artist Charles Young. One new object is designed, made, photographed and uploaded each day.  All of the models are made using 200gsm watercolour paper and PVA glue. This method allows for rapid construction and exploration of diverse areas of architecture, pushing the possibilities of this single material.”

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald

Boss lady, repair enthusiast, maker and remaker of fun things
Most often found on Instagram and at The Daily Fix.

I first met Erin in an elevator in the Melbourne University Student Union building in 1997. If you remember that elevator you will know that friendships were made within because it was always a life-and-death situation. There was always a chance the doors would never open again. Plus it took so long to get up just one floor that conversation was a total necessity. Anyway, she told me she liked my hair, so I knew I had a friend for life. I am pleased she agreed to come along and share some of her favourite things, because she always finds the best stuff.

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1) OK Go’s music videos
OK Go’s music videos make me cry happy tears because they’re so good, and because so much joy, creativity and planning goes into making them. Whenever they release a new video it feels like Christmas. If you’re new to OK Go, start with Here It Goes Again, aka the treadmill video, which propelled them on their crazy creative path 10 years ago. Most people don’t remember their song titles – their newest, most ambitious video will be known in future as ‘the one filmed in 4.2 seconds‘ — but the videos are pretty unforgettable. My favourite is the one with choreographed umbrellas, filmed with a drone, but I also love the one in zero gravity, the one with dogs and Ikea furniture, the one filmed through a glass floor, the 18-hour time-lapse one and the optical-illusion one! If you have kids you can watch all the videos together, then watch the making-of videos that go with them.

2) Olympia
Melbourne artist Olivia Bartley, aka Olympia, is my favourite music discovery of 2016. I saw her play twice at a music festival in Tasmania – the first a rocking set where she shredded on the big stage, and the second an intimate late-night set, outdoors in the forest, under the stars. It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Her debut album Self Talk is consistently good from start to finish –  Smoke Signals is the super-catchy single, but my favourites are piano ballad Biscuits and Self Talk, a song about Lawnchair Larry and the stories we tell ourselves. She is funny, too, and often posts weird animated videos like this and this on social media. She is destined for superstardom.

3) Visible mending
Visible, colourful, fun repairs are now a thing, which is great news for those without the time and/or talent to mend things perfectly. It’s hard to say which I like more – visibly mending something or scrolling through #visiblemending on Instagram (it’s my happy place). We also feature visible-mending projects on my site The Daily Fix, over here, if you want to have a go yourself. (Warning: it’s addictive!)

4) Magic letterbox
Leah Harcourt sells letterboxes with space at the front for creating dioramas. Since we got a magic letterbox, neighbours and strangers have been stopping by more often and we just got our first fan mail. Eee! It’s so much fun. You can see what all the magic letterboxes are up to here (the T-Rex playing the piano is particularly good).

5) My Son, The Prince of Fashion
This article, by Michael Chabon for GQ, is the best thing I have read in ages – a tale of self-discovery and of a father discovering what makes his 13-year-old son tick. I love a well-crafted story ending and this one is magnificent! I am still thinking about it weeks later. {runs off to reread it now}

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

1) Wes Anderson’s Christmas ad for H&M

2) Jamie Oliver’s Hassleback Potato recipe: When I watch this video, all I can think of is Homer Simpson saying “gahhhh” and drooling… delicious roast potatoes with thyme-infused oil and hazelnut breadcrumbs. Maybe even better:  yorkshire puds.

3) 52 Science-Based Facts About the Creative Mind: Just ignore the points about the high chance of creative people being psychopaths and neurotics (or put a positive spin on these minor facts) and find out just what works, and what doesn’t, for a creative soul.

4) Shetland, on Netflix: If you liked Broadchurch and want to spend your next couple of weeks sitting on the couch rugged up in some kind of knitted jumper, sipping scotch while the fire crackles nearby (yes please), then Shetland is for you. If you watch it with me, you will have to put up with me saying over and over; “good grief, can you believe that this is where my people are from?” and  “Not even a shrub! There’s not even a shrub on those islands!”.  Here, the author of the original book series, Ann Cleeves, talks about how Shetland provides a “brilliantly atmospheric backdrop” for crime writing. So – let’s go! Just in time for tea on a Sunday, I think.

5) This animation about a little boy with autism is beautiful.  (thanks Ward)

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Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was Anne Frank.

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