My accidental visit to the former Burnley Theatre

In my hunt for some cheap-but-cheerful outdoor furniture, I found myself going to Swan Street Sales, at 365 Swan Street, Richmond. I didn’t like their replica Tolix tables at all when I got there but all was forgiven because OH MY GOD, it’s an old cinema that closed down after television arrived in the 1950s and has been a furniture warehouse ever since, slowly crumbling:


The salesman was so pleased at my clear fascination with the place that he took me around the whole building (including the off-limits staff area) and showed me lots of the old features. Look, projector-related holes!


The holes in the walls for the projector picture to go through to the screen. I want to call them projector boxes but I’m not at all sure that IS what they’re called


A bit of fancy plasterwork falling out of the ceiling


One of the box seats (this one’s been repaired; it apparently cost them $20,000 and they said “yeah, not worth it to do any more”)


I approached it from the other direction and I’m never in that neck of the woods (I was on my way to visit the Johnston Collection) so I wasn’t prepared when I walked in. If I’d come from the other way, I would have seen the facade and been forewarned:

Richmond Burnley Theatre

If you’re wondering why this pic doesn’t look like it was taken with an iPhone on a winter’s day, it’s because it’s from wikimedia…

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Visit to the Johnston Collection; plus random appreciation of East Melbourne

I’ve been meaning to go check out the Johnston Collection for years. It’s a house museum that is regularly re-done to show off different parts of its collection but unfortunately, I only found out that it even existed during my exhausted months of pregnancy and then, what with the small child and all, I haven’t had a chance to go since. I took the other week off to get some precious R&R time to myself, however, and finally made it. Woo!

The museum is kind of mysterious. Partly that’s because they are not part of the National Trust but rather operate under their own trust; but also, they’re prohibited from advertising its address as part of its permit, since they’re in a residential street. Visitors have to book in advance, meet at a nearby hotel at a designated time and then take a shuttle bus to the property.

However, since they name the property as “Fairhall” on their website it’s perfectly easy to look up on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Which is what I told my partner to do, should I fail to return home afterwards. I may have mentioned organ harvesting.

I have precisely two photographs to show you of the property, as they actually confiscated our phones and indeed our bags, before the tour. I considered telling them that parting a Gen Y from her phone was cruel and unusual but since I was the only person present under 60, decided to just go with it.

Here is the front of the house:

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And its heritage plaque:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.20.58 PMWait, I lied. I have a third photo, which is of the floral arrangement in the bathroom, which I partly took because I wanted to look up what these flowers were, but mostly was taken out of relief at having my phone back:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.21.15 PMI very much enjoyed the museum. They have all sorts of stuff, such as: a collection of English Regency-ish era miniatures that made me feel like I was in that scene in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy is sneakily checking out Pemberley while Darcy isn’t there; an impressive antique furniture collection, including a French desk from the early 1700s that is allegedly the one King Farouk of Egypt signed his abdication on but which Mr Johnston used to just use as his desk and put his feet on and stuff; a bunch of genuine polar bear skin rugs that made me uncomfortable; and (temporarily) a whole lot of crazy shit that Richard Nylon has done for them, since he’s the latest in a long line of creatives asked to re-do the collective for display.

Said crazy shit included a bed covered in porcelain statues of dogs and a dining table covered in a “corpse” made out of antique crystal glassware, to give you an idea. Also he made a bunch of hats for the statuary. As you do.

I did kind of felt a bit rushed going through. I didn’t feel like we got to really linger anywhere like you can in other house museums around Melbourne. I wanted to examine the miniatures and look at the furniture and not be on a tour. But it was what it was, and it was interesting.

Walking back to the car, however, was also very interesting, as the architecture in that part of East Melbourne is stunning. I mean, look at these:

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An old church that was converted into apartments after a fire.

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My god, this Art Moderne apartment block is just begging to be used in some 1940s murder mystery…


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And this one is just waiting to be used in a 1960s period drama

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This one just needs to be mine.

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There is also a stunning block of flats on Powlett Street that is just mindbogglingly beautiful but I couldn’t stop the car when I saw it due to traffic. There are some shots of it here, though. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous.


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I went to paperlicious and I loved it

I went to Unleash Creative‘s Paperlicious event last month and it was lovely.

Paperlicious lightbox with mooses

I wish I knew who made those moose statues, they’re pretty spectacular.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.17.11 PMMy god, the food. And the pretty way it was displayed! And the washi tape cross stitch backdrop!

We had a session with Kate Pullen on hand lettering our own card designs

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.15.05 PMAnd a session with Paula Mills from Sweet William on water colours, which was really interesting because we were barely allowed to look at the paper, only at what we were painting, and we weren’t really supposed to lift our paintbrush off the paper (I’m not telling which one is mine):Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.11.21 PMAnd the finally a session with Pete Cromer on paper collage. First we came up with our designs:

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.10.55 PMAnd then we painted all the bits. It was oddly satisfying. I’m used to making paper craft with whatever colour paper I happen to have so it was kind of nice to tailor exactly what colours you wanted (that said, we’d kind of run out of paint by the end of the day so we had to make do with what we could find in the bottom of tubes. Still, I was happy with the colour combos I managed):

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When I got home, I expected my child to steal this one (in fact I’d designed it with her in mind) but nope – she yelled for the watercolour and got very anxious until it was propped up on her table. It’s hers now, apparently.

We even got a goodie bag to take away!

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.09.34 PMNot surprisingly, it was pretty much all women; and a lot of creative types. There were textile designers and bloggers and school teachers; and a lot of them were mums who were just happy to have a day spent doing something creative for themselves. Sounded familiar :)




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Allergy-friendly ice cream to turn gay for

A friend has just come back from a trip to Italy. She couldn’t eat much, being an allergy-ridden vegetarian. She couldn’t even have the gelati, as everywhere they went, they added fructose, which would help keep it softer but also make her sick.

Upon hearing this, I demanded that she name an ice cream flavour I could make for her. She named peanut butter, it being her favourite. I promptly made it and she promptly took it home and shared it with her (also allergy-ridden) 17-year-old daughter, who declared that she would turn gay for me for this ice cream.

I took this as the compliment it was, but also texted my friend back that she should tell her from me that she should never let anyone pressure her to exchange sex for food. No matter how delicious.

Anyway, here is the recipe, should it be of use to anyone.

Lisa’s non-dairy, fructose-friendly, low-FODMAP peanut butter ice cream:

2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
4 large egg yolks
1 cup white sugar (this is a lot so feel free to cut to taste, but I wouldn’t go below half a cup)
125g crunchy peanut butter

Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla in a medium saucepan. Put aside to cool slightly while you beat the egg yolks with the sugar in an electric mixer on high until pale.

Put the mixer on low and add the milk to the eggs — the eggs will scramble if you just try to pour the milk in without beating, but don’t beat it too much or the mixture will go all foamy and then it won’t reduce properly.

Pour the mixture back in the saucepan and simmer on low heat until it looks thickened, stirring constantly. It will not go custard-y or coat the back of a spoon like a normal ice cream mixture will, so just stop when it looks thickened (sort of a syrup-y consistency).

Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring until mixed in. Cool in ice bath and then pop in the fridge.

When cold, churn mix in your ice cream machine as per its instructions (I have a Sunbeam Gelateria and it takes about 25 minutes, then a good few hours in the freezer, before it’s properly frozen).

It will freeze pretty solid, so take it out to soften for about 20 minutes before serving.

For those playing at home, this is just a variation on my oat milk chocolate gelati – I used almond milk this time around, both because I thought it would do better with the peanut butter, and because my partner’s off oats.

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I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bacon pie

I have a new American-style cook book. It includes mostly delicious-looking, “normal” recipes for cakes and pies and stuff, which is why I bought it, but then I got it home and had a better look at it and found it included crazy stuff like tomato soup cupcakes.

They do not look like they’d be nice.

However, I found myself intrigued by the Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bacon pie. The preamble assured that though unusual, it was delicious.

And, it transpired, it was.

It was a pie crust, then a layer of chopped banana, then some chocolate mixed with peanut butter and finely chopped grilled bacon, then custard. You decorated the top with another banana and some more bacon.


It was pretty great. Though I will probably leave out the bacon next time. Let’s not go crazy, now.

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Almost a year later…

You might remember this post, when I complained about not having enough time in between work, the small child, and dying from various illnesses, to get everything done that I’ve been wanting to. Well, since I’ve stopped being permanently sick (thanks, sinus surgery!), I’ve actually had the energy to do things like go to work, clean the house a bit, and fun stuff, such as most of the things I mentioned in that post.

So, almost a year later — I bring you, the paper fan/pom pom corner!

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I was going for something like this, to inject some joy to a boring corner of the lounge room.

If you’re looking to make your own paper fans, they’re ridiculously easy and there are a million tutorials online — for instance.

Pom poms are also stupidly quick and simply to make — I don’t now why people bother buying kits, particularly since I just used the years of tissue paper that have been hanging around in my house waiting to be utilised. This tutorial here is good and the Martha Stewart one here isn’t bad either. Mostly whenever I’m learning to do anything crafty, though, I tend read multiple sets of instructions to make sure I know what I’m doing so don’t ask me which one I learnt from, it was about seven of them.

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Next, the Dandelyne embroidery hoop brooch! It turned out you had to supply your own backing fabric so I used some raw silk I’ve had sitting around for years. My aunt gave it to me when I was a teenager; she was making costumes for The Australian Ballet at the time and it was left over. I used some of it for an art project I was doing and the rest has sat pleasantly on the fabric pile ever since. It was quite nice to embroider into.

The above is actually my second embroidery attempt; I made the design too big the first time around for the decorative hoop (my own fault, I should’ve marked it on the fabric). I’ll have to think of something to do with that one.

The next step was to hot glue the fabric to the centre piece:

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Then, you just glue the backing piece on. My hot glue gun failed me, however, in between these two steps and I ended up having to super glue the backing on. It refused to sit flat after gluing so I had to use the vice:

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Finished! And yes, of course it was bunting. I may have a bunting issue.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 10.04.05 PMMy child is obsessed with the brooch, btw. “It soft, mummy! It very beautiful! It rolls!” she says, twisting it around and around until she threatens to tear a hole in my cardigan. Ah well.

Finally, kokedama making! Which, like arm knitting, is harder and more annoying than it appears.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 10.00.19 PMYou need to wrap the roots in moss, then you wrap the whole thing in special soil, then in more moss, and finally the string:

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I want to make a whole bunch of them but it’s been so freaking cold in Melbourne, going outside is kind of horrid. I’ll post a pic of them all once they’re hanging happily from my massive pear tree.

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Surprisingly well-known actors in kids shows

I spotted Emilia Fox (AKA Georgina Darcy) playing a minor character in the re-boot of Grandpa in My Pocket the other day. She was only on for about two seconds but they have her in all the ads. This show is not exactly the best one on telly. So that bit of casting startled me because Fox has been in all sorts of things since appearing in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice and I really would have thought she could have done better than six lines in a bad children’s show. But then, I am often startled by who turns up in children’s shows. All sorts of celebrities do cameos on Sesame Street, from Ice Cube to Nicole Kidman to Michelle Obama to Paul Rudd. But then, who wouldn’t want to be on Sesame Street? I mean, Sir Ian McKellen was on with Cookie Monster, just the other day, looking very awkward: SirIanWithCookieMonster But it’s ditto for the also-awkward Bookaboo, only the guest stars are slightly less likely to be America’s first lady. It’s more Meatloaf and Keith Allen, for instance. Oh, and Sporty Spice. But the recurring roles get me the most. David Tennant, for instance, voices a weird fairy creature in Tree Fu Tom (Grandpa in My Pocket is nothing compared to the badness that is Tree Fu Tom, which has me running to turn the TV off if I so much as hear the opening music. Worst. Show. Ever): The right honourable Stephen Fry narrates (some of) the English version of Pokoyo (fine, I don’t really like this show either, but then, I’m not its target audience): And then, of course, there’s Sir Derek Jacobi and In The Night Garden. In case you’re wondering what a Shakespearean actor sounds like speaking gibberish for the amusement of children, it’s wonderful, that’s what it is: They even used his voice for the toys. I know, because my daughter’s Makapaka doll has magnificently round vowels while it sings “Makka Pakka, Akka Wakka, Mikka Makka moo! Makka Pakka, Appa yakka, Ikka akka, oooh. Hum dum, Agga pang, Ing, ang, oooh. Makka Pakka, Akka wakka, Mikka Makka moo!” Here is a hilarious article I found on the 25 questions you will ask yourself while watching in the night garden. Because you will. Or you might do what I do, which is amuse yourself imagining that the actor inside the Iggle Piggle costume is Jacobi.  Speaking of awesome people who narrate things, Julian Clary narrates Little Princess. I have a tender spot for this ludicrous show. My partner has a theory that it isn’t actually about the inhabitants of a castle at all; the “castle” is a mental institution and everyone there is either a lunatic who believes they are royalty, or an orderly just playing along. This is all part of the show’s charm as far as I’m concerned. And, best for last, Brian Blessed plays Grampy Rabbit in the odd episode of Peppa Pig. I love that show and thank god I do, since it’s my child’s favourite. UPDATE: A friend has just berated me for forgetting all about all the local actors who have appeared on Play SchoolJustine Clarke, Alex Papps, Eddie Perfect, Georgie Parker, Deborah Mailman, Essie Davis (who I mentioned in just my last post), Brooke Satchwell, John Waters, Philip Quast. He forgot about Rhys Muldoon and Jay Laga’aia and of COURSE Noni Hazelhurst but I’ll forgive him just this once… With that I will leave you with Noni reading us all a bedtime story…

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