The Great Gatsby Review

This film has received quite mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. However, I’ve got no idea what it was actually about. I haven’t read the book, which I will now add to my list of books to read, so perhaps that’s why. I know that things happened in the film, and I understand the storyline, but, what was it actually about?? I don’t know.

The acting was passable. Leonardo DiCaprio was definitely the stand-out cast member. Poor man looked like he just needed a hug, really. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy was a bit  – insipid? Completely lacking strength of character? Perhaps Daisy is supposed to be like that. Tobey Maguire was good as Nick Carroway, though I couldn’t help thinking of Mary Poppins saying “Close your mouth, please, Michael. We are not a codfish.” Joel Edgerton made a good bully.

The technical aspects of the film I thought were quite good, especially the costumes, beautiful Art-Deco sets and scenery, and the score. I though how the music was edited was wonderfully done. I know that’s a feature of the Baz Luhrmann films to have the modern music, and I really believe the made it work. Also, props to whichever company did the credits. I saw the film in 2D, but on the big screen, they still looked pretty amazing.

One thing that annoyed me in regard to the costumes was that no one dressed for dinner. Perhaps someone can fill me in here, but, at that time in England, everyone was still dressing for dinner, and you would definitely NOT show up to an evening party in a boater hat. Was it that much more casual in the States, or was this aspect just ignored? So yes, I liked the costumes, especially in the party scenes; I’m just not sure how historically correct they all were.  Daisy’s headband at the party was brilliant, and my favourite accessory. My favourite costume was Jordan’s black party dress.

Overall, I would recommend this film, even if just to see what all the hype is about. Enjoy the parties, Gatsby’s fantastical house, the flappers, the fireworks, the drink, but no need to think too much. And don’t ask questions either. The character’s do enough of that. If you still don’t get it (as I don’t), probably just read the book to see if that makes things any clearer (as I will).

(Picture belongs to Warner Bros).

Lasagne á la Stella

lasagne ingredients

This is a rather simple recipe for a fairly traditional lasagne. If I may say so myself, it is quite scrumptious. I must admit, missing from the above ingredients photo is the nutmeg, sugar and parmesan cheese.

Serves about 8

Peel and finely slice the brown onion, and wash and finely slice the 2 celery sticks. Put them in the pan (I use an electric frypan) with a good splash of olive oil. Peel 3-4 cloves of garlic, depending on the size, and using a garlic crusher, add them to the pan, along with a pinch of ground nutmeg. Turn the pan onto a low-medium heat, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to brown and the celery softens. Then add 500g of pork mince and 500g of veal mince and turn the pan up to a medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the meat has browned, stirring every minute or so.

While the meat is browning, peel 2 carrots and wash 1 zucchini. Grate them coarsely on a box grater. Once the meat is fully cooked, add the vegetables to the pan, along with one jar of passata and a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes. Fill the empty passata jar about with about a cup of water, put the lid back on and give it a good shake, then tip the tomatoey water into the pan. This makes sure there’s not waste! Give all your ingredients a good stir. Add the leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped fresh basil leaves and a good pinch of dried oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I don’t use any salt, as I believe there is enough in the tomatoes), then pop the lid on the pan, and turn it down to a low heat to keep warm.


Pre-heat your oven to 190°C/375°F/ gas mark 5. For the white sauce, place a 500g tub of ricotta cheese into a bowl, along with a 200g tub of sour lite cream, 100g of fresh mozzarella cheese, diced. Mix the cheese mixture together with a spoon, then add a good splash of milk in order to loosen the mix.


Assembly time! Use a large, high-sided roasting pan. Put about 6-7 ladles of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan in order to cover it, then a few spoonfuls of the white sauce, spreading the white sauce out slightly. Cover with dried lasagne sheets. Follow this process for another 2-3 layers, depending on the size of your pan/how much meat sauce you use each time. Making sure you have at least a third of the white sauce left for the top layer, put the white sauce directly onto the lasagne sheet, then add another 100g of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and a few good handfuls of parmesan cheese. Place your lasagne on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately (but it also makes delicious leftovers for lunch the next day).



Where is the start is near the end, and the end close to the start

The Podcast with David Astle and Mark Forsyth that I mentioned yesterday has got me thinking about the Dictionary, and how it’s laid out. Obviously, it’s done alphabetically. However, as a result of this:

‘Centre’ is near the start, but at least ‘middle’ is in the centre.

‘End’ is near to the start, as is ‘close’ and ‘finish’.

‘Beginning’ is relatively close to where it should be, as is ‘commence’, but ‘start’, ‘outset’ and ‘opening’ all come in the ‘second half’, which, thankfully, is in the second half.

Maybe I think too much.

Things I like: Autumn edition


We may have only two days of autumn remaining before it officially becomes winter (despite it not being scientifically winter until the solstice, but however you like to organise your seasons, Australia…). So, while autumn remains, I can freely write about my three favourite things about my most favourite of seasons:

1. The colour. Colours, particularly in nature, in the autumn seem so much more true and strong than they do at any other time of the year. This is partly to do with the light, but also to do with changes in the soil, lengthening days, etc (has anyone else noticed how a rose that is a pale orange in spring goes almost middle-pink in the autumn? Hopefully this isn’t just our garden…). As well as beautifully coloured flowers, you also have the changing autumn trees, which make all the suburbs, the city, everywhere you go look beautiful before the starkness of winter sets in.

2. The weather. Get those umbrellas out! Come autumn, it finally gets cold and rains! After a long summer, and, this year, a nine-day heat-wave in the middle of March, the cold change was most welcome. Also, as it’s usually quite dry over the summer, during autumn people are less likely to complain about the rain, stating ‘it’s good of the garden!”, rather than “when will this rain ever let up!”, as they’re saying by September. In autumn, we get days of beautiful sunshine, patchy clouds, gusting winds and pouring rain, and best of all, being Melbourne, these can all happen within a few hours of each other!

3. A change of clothes. You can finally put away the t-shirts and shorts, the sandles, sunhats and summer dresses and bring out the jumpers, coats and scarves. I’m particularly fond of my Tom Baker 4th Doctor scarf. It’s wonderfully long and warm, and the autumnal colours in it match the season perfectly! I’m actually wearing it now, as I write this.



Weta at Te Papa

Weta Workshop announced on Monday that it will be creating an exhibition for Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington, for the Centenary of World War I. The ‘trench-experience’, which will be created by Weta Workshop, overseen by Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor, will be a recreation of Quinn’s Post trench in Gallipoli. The FREE exhibition will open in April 2015.

It sounds like another very good reason for a trip across The Ditch.

Things I like v1

I have a number of interests, not all directly related, and I like to share them. Also, in my internet browsing, I stumble across many articles, videos, etc that take my fancy. So here, I shall write about them. I’ll only write down three at a time, or I may run out! So:

1. London, 1926. This video is fascinating, showing just how much London has changed in the last 87 years. The City in particular is MUCH different. It’s rare to see films this early, in this high quality, and in colour. Amazing footage.

2. I came across the link to that video on the website of food creative Rachel Khoo. I will admit to only discovering Rachel last weekend, after watching her program “Little Paris Kitchen” on SBS On Demand. I loved the first episode, and am very much looking forward to watching this week’s episode on Thursday night, on SBS ONE.

3. Why read dictionaries? Why indeed. Well, that question is answered in this wonderfully entertaining podcast from the Sydney Writers Festival. Aussie ‘word-nerd’ David Astle and Brit etymologist Mark Forsyth discuss all things words and origins. The podcast is also available through the Apple Podcast app. Definitely worth a listen for anyone interested in words and and their history (or just history in general).

Starting out

Constellation (n):
1. a group of fixed stars whose outline is traditionally regarded as forming a particular figure

2. group of associated  persons noteworthy in some way

– The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary

Like many children, when at primary school, I liked to look up my name in the dictionary. Of course, in a classroom full of Jessicas and Emilys and Bens and Lukes, I was generally the only one to have my name in the dictionary, albeit with an ‘r’ tacked on the end, or else found in other words, usually space-related, such as constellations, with its meanings given above. It is hopefully not wishful thinking on my behalf that this blog will become ‘a group of associated posts, noteworthy in some way’.

What will I be blogging about? My interests, mostly. Things I see and do and like.

I like
-cooking and recipes
-going to the theatre, especially ballet, musicals and orchestra
– history, mainly early 20th century
– listening to classical music
– reading and writing (or else I wouldn’t be blogging!)
but what I write about will be wide and varied (hopefully).

I also have a 9-month-old kitten, Pippa. She will most likely feature in a number of posts, too.

Pippa portrait