27th January, 2017

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January 27th, 2017

Hello!  My favourite thing about this week’s newsletter is my 14 year old daughter Amelia’s Friday Five Favourites so, if you read nothing else here today, skip down to her segment towards the bottom of the page. Before you get there, here’s the other stuff:


1) Watching: RIP Mary Tyler Moore.

Here’s a list with links to the 12 best episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (apart from the famous and oft-listed Chuckles Bites the Dust) on Vulture from a few years ago. “The show, which featured Moore’s character asking for equal pay to her male co-worker and going on the pill, became a paradigm of the women’s liberation movement and is credited with inspiring women to break the mold confining them as wives and homemakers. ” — HuffPo.

2) Listening and looking: An Illustrated Talk With Maurice Sendak  from the New York Times interview. Illustrator Christoph Niemann added some magic to this already emotional, beautiful, recorded conversation between interviewer Terry Gross and the late, great Maurice Sendak.

3) Inspiring: Cinplex’s best use of colour of all time. A top ten of brilliant films that use colour as almost another character. Lovers of film and colour design will enjoy this a lot.

4)  Coveting: With Phil being in Dallas this week, I am hankering for cowboy boots and this is only reinforced by a little Messy Nessy inspiration – University life in Arizona in the 1940s. Rodeo!

5) Saying thank you: This is where I get a little (and only a little) political. If this doesn’t interest you, skip on to item 6 or maybe 7, but I have my leanings and I can’t in good conscience ignore them. It has been an epic and important week in the history of Women’s Rights and Feminism. There is so much I could link to, but I will keep it to these three things: Firstly, up until recently, it might have been easy to sit back and complacently think that not every voice matters. You are not equal. I’m sorry reminds us of how important it is to acknowledge how easy we’ve had it thanks to those who have taken great risks. It also reminds us of how much more there is to be done.  Next – right here I am going to link to the Socialist Worker article Don’t shame the first steps of a resistance which highlights some thoughts about standing together in the days after the Women’s March on Washington (thanks Peg).  Lastly, a reminder of the gaping holes in the movement so far with Beyond Walking and Talking, Post-March Postmortem with Portland Women’s March Organiser Margaret JacobsenOkay. End political post. (Not the end of political motivation, however.)

6) Listening: A new pop anthem for the times; MILCK’s Quiet.  And here it is being performed by MILCK and a group of women who rehearsed together online before meeting as a flashmob in Washington at the Women’s March last Saturday.

I have also spent the week flashing-back and listening to Alt-J’s This Is All Yours from 2014, mostly because I love, love, love this song – Warm Foothills

And if you are keen – here’s a playlist on Apple Music of all the songs I have mentioned in the Small Batch List to date.

7) Cooking:  It’s a week of days. Robbie Burns Day (Wednesday), Australia Day (Thursday) and Chinese New Year (tomorrow). Okay, quite honestly, we didn’t actually celebrate or even remember Robbie Burns Day until Jamie Oliver reminded me with a haggis recipe in my inbox. Coincidentally we have been eating good Scottish porridge each morning this week. Apart from making the mornings even more desperately rushed, it’s making life kinda delicious. Here’s Jamie’s page on lots-of-ways with porridge. (I’ve been saying that with my excellent fake scottish accent all morning.) We go the half milk / half water route, and I also add a wee spot of brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon while it’s cooking up. We then serve it with a generous blob of applesauce and a glug of thick cream. Required: When serving it, I always say “thistle set you up for the day”, again in my excellent fake scottish accent.

And Australia Day? Again, we did not actually celebrate the day and continue to question how appropriate it is to celebrate this date at all… but it has made me think of home and, as always, that leads to thinking about pavlova, of course. Despite the Winter still creeping around our bones here, I am dreaming of summer fruits.

Here’s the basic pav recipe I follow… and above are some suggested variations on toppings – Back left: strawberry, basil and black pepper (whoa!). Front middle: raspberry, berry sauce, pistachio and peach. Back right: mango, passionfruit and pineapple. Gah! Yum.

Coming up tomorrow is Chinese New Year and I can’t stop thinking about steamed pork buns. I’ve never made them and I can’t decide if I am brave enough to try now. Dare me?


Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Amelia McCluskey

Student by day, epic sleeper by night. 14. Hilarious. My kid.
Most often found at school or looking at YouTube in her room.

Amelia took a little time out of exam week to write this for me. Like a true millennial, she sat next to me on the couch and composed the whole thing on her phone. Thank you, Amelia. You are one of the sweetest human beings and an absolute gem.

1) Frankie Magazine
I discovered Frankie Magazine on a sewing summer camp 6 months ago. Every day at lunch time, after we had spent several hours hunched over sewing machines, making clothes and sweating like the Dickens, the camp leader took us into the woods where she lay down on a picnic blanket and fell asleep for 45 minutes. She brought a cloth bag with her full of magazines for us to look at while we waited for her to wake up, and in this bag I found three issues of Frankie Magazine. An Australian publication full of photography, fashion, pictures of things you didn’t know you wanted and fantastic articles by fantastic writers, Frankie comes out with six issues a year, and it is always chock-full of excellent stuff. On the days when I come home from school and see that sealed plastic bag with my name on it and a thick, beautiful issue inside, I am forced to spend hours not doing my homework. I flip through the pages and jot down names of ceramic artists and shoe-makers so I can look through their etsys and drool later, hoping that one day Mum will give me a little more allowance so I can afford those robins-egg blue clogs.

2) Improv 
I saw my first improv show when I was in Grade Four. One of my friends was having a birthday party and had chosen to take us to see the high-school improv team perform in the evening. I don’t think I even understood what improvisation was at the time. I mean, at that point I was still telling my best joke, over and over again. (“Why are pirates scary?” “Because they ARGGGGH!”) Onstage, the kids performed a scene where they were all a giant stapler. I was totally awestruck. The idea that they were working cohesively as a group to create a completely made-up scene on the spot astonished me.

Now that I’m in my first year at the high-school, I actually get to be on the team, rather than just seeing some of the members in the grocery store and wishing I had the courage to ask them for an autograph. It’s so much fun. Soon my team will be going to compete against the other schools in the region and, maybe one day, we too will make a giant stapler.

3) My Ukulele
I’ve recently discovered how much I like writing my own songs, and my ukulele is the perfect instrument to sing them to. (I call her Stephanie. She has been known to steal boys’ hearts and make grown men cry.)

I love the Ukulele for how small and easily transportable it is, and for how easy it is to pick up. For beginners, the only notes you need to know are C, G, Am and F, and you will instantly be able to play pretty much any song. (Riptide, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Little Talks, the list goes on.)

Stephanie will always hold a special place in my heart, although secretly I’m saving up for this babe (she’s electric).

4) Watching TV With the Fam
My constant running commentary through pretty much any show that I watch is incredibly entertaining. (Mum and Dad might disagree.)

Even when I’m home alone, I won’t hesitate to make clever observations and tell tangential stories, only to realise there’s no one sitting beside me on the couch. (Even so, that doesn’t stop me.) Recently I have been loving Mozart in the Jungle, Please Like Me, Gilmore Girls, West World, The Crown and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

5) BØRNSDopamine 
Dreamy, talented and a little bit full of himself (for good reason though!) singer and occasional ukulele player Garret Borns’ album Dopamine (on Spotify and on iTunes) was probably my favourite of 2016. The songs Electric Love10,000 Emerald Pools and Fool are all must-listens, but first check out Seeing Stars which isn’t on this album but is a song that makes Mum and me clutch our hearts and sigh every time it comes on in the car.


– – – Previous Friday Five Archives – – –


See you next week!

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week it was from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (one L one T – I still remember that from grade 9 exam prep) but you you knew that, right?


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