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5 November 2012

Country Gardens, Country Hospitality & Frankie ♥

I am often asked to review books and say 'no' to most of the requests. Then Country Gardens Country Hospitality came along and I said 'yes'. I don't say 'no' to be contrary, it's because the majority of the books I'm emailed about don't interest me.  I wouldn't read them and I don't recommend anything that I wouldn't use myself. When this book arrived, I read the introduction and knew my intuition had stood me in good stead. This is part of it:

"... when I walked into Heather Roll's house, her dining room table was groaning with homemade slices and cakes that her gardening community had made for the launch of my latest book, which was taking place the next day. And when I arrived at the venue for the launch the following morning, each round table was set with beautiful arrangements of roses that had been picked from local gardens. It was impossible not to be deeply moved by such generosity.
...
Country cooking is most often a celebration of what is grown locally: livestock raised with integrity and with tender, loving care; eggs from backyard chickens; fruit from home orchards; vegetables from the garden. Produce is swapped and shared with neighbours, or snapped up at farmers' markets."


This book is beautifully presented, it felt very familiar to me and I loved reading it. The author, Holly Kerr Forsyth, travelled around Australia in 2010, during the drought, visiting the families and gardens featured in the book. In each home she visited, country hospitality was rich and abundant and old family recipes shared. Such recipes were: pink elderflower syrup, raspberry sorbet, French bean salad, apple and walnut cake, and many more. I don't know the people featured but I know what sort of kitchens they run and that they enjoy good wholesome food. These are country folk who most probably share my values, I feel like a neighbour to them.


Having written my own book I know how focused you need to be to write a book such as this. A book that endeavours to give a clear account of each family home and garden, and the food that is frequently produced there.  Country people in Australia are different to city folk and Holly Kerr Forsyth has captured that difference.  There is an eagerness to provide hospitality to visitors and a connection to local community that is often lacking in larger and busier places. This is a good book, I recommend it to you and although I was going to have a book giveaway, this one I'm keeping for myself. :- ) It's published by The Miegunyah Press, an imprint of Melbourne University Publishing Limited.


Another true gem I came across this week is the magazine Frankie. You and I both know I'm not one for magazines nowadays and most of the time I'm either at home, or wandering around completely oblivious to the commercial world around me. This week, while waiting for Hanno to finish his visit to the doctor, I wandered into the newsagent at Montville and there Frankie was, waiting for me. It cost ten dollars but I could not resist buying it - the cover is unlike anything I've seen on a magazine and I couldn't walk away. It looks and feels like a hand-stitched sampler. I thought it might be a new magazine but on the inside cover, it says it's the 50th edition, AND it's a Brisbane magazine! Why didn't I know?

I'm going to make one of these.

Walking back to the car I had a chance to look through it before Hanno returned and I was hoping it would not disappoint. It didn't. It's full of clever articles, the layout and design is innovative and beautiful, and even though I'm in my mid-60 and definitely not the demographic they're after, I loved it. They even have an advert for Etsy in there. Crikey, homemade strikes back. I loved Pui Pui Tam's An Open Letter to the man who threw the pie at my head and I've bluetacked the I've choreographed a special dishwashing dance for you poster to the side of my fridge.  I might do that dance during my days of solitude that start today, but I'll write about that tomorrow.

Sure there were things I rolled my eyes at, and there were parts where I thought, not again! When you're my age you realise that the wheel is never reinvented, it's refashioned, recycled, rehashed, repaired, renewed and revamped.  And they've certainly done that but in a genuine, original and authentic sense that is aimed at a generation much younger than mine. I haven't finished reading it, in fact I've only read about a quarter of the entire magazine, but it has won me over well and truly. I might not buy every copy but I will buy it when I can.

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This is the inside back cover.

I often hear from my contemporaries that younger generations are lazy and dumbed down. I suppose some young people are like that (I know some older people are), but my own sons and DILs are that age, so is my editor Jo and her husband Eli, so too are Greg and Soph who visited two weeks ago, and Katie and Reuben who will visit next week. They aren't lazy and they're certainly not dumb. I reckon Frankie represents them. Their lives are focused on sustainability and truth, with a touch a whimsy and vintage nostalgia thrown in for interest's sake. They get it! and I think Frankie gets it too.

32 comments:

  1. Both books look wonderful. I also bought Frankie for the first time this week, because a fellow blogger is featured in it, and I was also drawn to the front cover, and the quality of the paper and then the articles and then well just all of it. Beautifully presented and more a book to be treasured rather than a mag!

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    1. Kate, is the fellow Blogger the Daylesford Organics mob? I'll be reading about them today. Loved your farm furniture the other day, BTW.

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  2. That sounds a very interesting magazine, Rhonda. Love the cover! In regards to your comments about the younger generation, I have had the extreme pleasure to work with quite a few younger folk in the community co-op I'm with and I'm very happy to say that they get it. They really do. Their desire for a simpler way, to have good food on their tables and to raise their families the way they do is commendable - and very encouraging.

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  3. Thanks for the book recommendation, it looks lovely. I too have that copy of Frankie, I don't buy every copy, but this one looked good, so I bought it. Another great magazine is Peppermint, which focuses more on sustainability and ethics for the fashion conscious. I consider myself one of the not lazy and not dumb younger generation. I'm 31, a (stay at home) mum of two girls aged 6 and 3, doing what I can to keep our footprint as light as possible.

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  4. I love the look of the Holly Kerr Forsyth book, right up my alley so I'll pop it on the Christmas list. Have you read her Remembered Gardens book? It is the history of women gardeners in Australia, an absolutely delightful read for history and gardening buffs. Like Kate, I bought Frankie for the first time this month and have enjoyed all the cool, hip young things!

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    1. I haven't seen Holly's other books, Alison. I'll have to look for them at the library.

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  5. Thanks for letting us know about the book. I'd recently seen Frankie on another blog & like you thought it was new. I haven't seen it before & i haven't noticed it at either of the 2 paper shops i go to. Hugs,

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  6. Hi Rhonda, I am a big fan of the Frankie magazine and I, too think I may be out of their demographic but it is a fun interesting read and that cover was hard to resist! Don't know if you have got to the cake receipe secion yet but I have made 3 of them and they were all great. I do love a moagazine with nice cakes to make in it. Really enjoy your blog and book.

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  7. The young lady that I work with is an avid reader and when she is finished pouring through it delightful pages she generously allows me to borrow it. I love this magazine and I think you are correct.."they get it"

    hoping Hanno is feeling much better

    love Elsam

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  8. That book looks wonderful (I'm still regularly pulling out the Kate Herd one and I think this one looks just as graphically beautiful). I had never heard of the magazine but I will keep an eye open for it as one of my true weaknesses is certain magazines - I'm not a magazine nut but when the couple I subscribe to rock up in the mail box I actually have a mail box dance for that exact moment (much to the bemusement of passers by):D

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  9. Hi Rhonda,

    I doubt I'll be able to get Frankie here in America, but I just know that if I could, I'd most likely enjoy it.

    Can't help but comment on "An Open Letter to the man who threw the pie at my head". For my 30th birthday, I hid in the bushes and threw a pie in my husband's face whenever he got home from work that day. One of the most fun things I ever did! Of course, I had to run from him after I threw the pie, LOL. That was 36 years ago and our children still talk about their wacky mother. Hmmmm, I just might do it again whenever I turn 70 in a few years.

    I'd love to read the Open Letter out of curiosity to see what it's about.

    Love from Diane in North Carolina

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    1. LOL Diane, I love it! I think you should do it for his 70th. It will keep him on his toes. ;- ) Send me your email address, I've just taken a photo of the page, I'll send it to you. love Rhonda xx

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    2. How wonderful of you to send me the page! And yes! I think I will throw another pie in Jimmie's face on his 70th birthday. That will be in July of 2013.

      My email address is jimmiepatrum@gmail.com.

      Thanks so much!!

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  10. So pleased you enjoyed Frankie. It's my favourite magazine and I'm fortunate enough to have a subscription. With two children I never manage to read it cover to cover but there are always articles in there that feel like they were written just for me. The beauty of Frankie, I feel, is that they don't have a set demographic. I'm an early 30's stay-at-home Mum and there's always enough content in there for me to keep waiting for the next issue.

    Have a lovely day,

    Sara

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  11. As you Rhonda,I love the cover of Frankie this month. My girls and I have been regular readers of this magazine for a while. (Another good one is Peppermint magazine.) I liked this month's so much I bought one for me and one for my daughter.

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  12. Wow love the look of the first book, looks like something you could sit and peruse over a cuppa tea many times.
    I had a quick look of Frankie at the supermarket the other week but didn't have the time to see if it was something I would get value out of or not. I LOVE the cover it's just devine!

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  13. It has been ages that I have looked at a magazine I have been excited about...even gardening magazines can't tell me what all the blogs I follow know about. I love the sound of this magazine and will on the lookout for it.

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  14. Frankie is a great read. I also loved 'our little farm' (p.39), and '50 things we think are ace' made me smile :)

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  15. I saw the Frankie magazine the other day but I had no time to stop while I was at the shops! I knew it was a good one haha, I will have to get it when I'm out next :)

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  16. I got this issue of Frankie just for that amazing cover as well! What blew me away was how they printed the INSIDE of the front cover to look like the back of the embroidery. What attention to detail.

    Another magazine that's a must buy for me is Peppermint. Similar vibe, not so controversial in the articles, and just so beautiful to read. It's only published quarterly, and every issue has the print read off the page before the next one is due out :)

    I only buy magazines with a green heart. See you later glossies!!

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  17. Thanks for the hint! Since there's no Frankie here in Europe, I was glad to found it online.

    http://www.frankie.com.au/

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  18. I was surprised (and I must admit a little disappointed) at you saying you coundn't resist the magazine and couldn't walk away. Isn't this just what you tell us to do - to resist spending on frivolities?

    I googled to see what ten dollars is in our UK money and was astounded to see it's over six pounds! I can't afford to buy the Country Living etc. magazines in the shops here and they're half the price you paid for your magazine! Six pounds is a big part of my food budget and I'm sure many of your readers must be thinking the same whether it's six pounds or ten dollars.

    I realise you must have more disposable income now you're an author but feel that this post was hypocritical. Telling us to be frugal and not spend unneccessarily yet you've done just that.

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    1. Christine, I encourage readers to live within their means and I also say to find your own happiness. If I were in your position where ten dollars was a big part of my food budget, then I would not buy a magazine. We have no debt, we "give" each other $10 a week pocket money to spend on whatever. This week I chose a magazine. Having a published book has nothing to do with what we spend; we live simply not because we must but because we choose to.

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    2. Christine, surely you don't mean that one should never spend anything on frivolities? Many of us, even those who are strapped for cash, strive to have just a bit of "discrectionary" money for which we don't have to answer to anyone as to how we spend it. Truly, if you aren't ever able to spend just a bit now and then on something that is not absolutely necessary, I genuinely hope that your circumstances improve to the point where you can have a tiny treat every so often. Try saving a wee bit whenever you can manage it, even if it takes a while, and then spend it on something that is absolutely not a necessity, but a desire of yours. Whether it's $10 or ten cents, being able to spend on a wee friviloty keeps life from being drudgery.

      Diane in North Carolina

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    3. In reply to Christine's quite harsh comments, I would like to say that Christine has completely missed the point. One thing you could never be accused of Rhonda is preaching or telling people what they must do. I think that is why your writing stikes a chord with so many readers and why you have attracted such a large and loyal readership. Down to Earth is my first stop every morning. Thank you
      Helen

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  19. I too bought Frankie for the first time the other day - that cover drew me in and also the fact that Kate from Daylesford Organics was featured. I'm the 'wrong' demograpic too and I must admit I did raise my eyebrows at some of the language that now seems to be in everyday life - and the magazine. That being said, I enjoyed the articles very much. I've made some of those tape measures. The second from the top on the left is grograin ribbon embroidered, the ends tucked in and the ribbon topstitched on the end of a tape measure. Sew a loop at the end, a button to correspond when the tape is rolled tightly and .. voila.

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  20. I let my subscription to Frankie lapse a few months back. But I couldn't resist this cover either :) As a child I devoured any magazine I could (my mother very rarely indulged in magazines). Like the occasional coffee out they have always given me a little highlight to the day. Something to look forward to curling up with as I sip on a coffee. There are some indulgences in life that are worth every cent.
    I've always loved the artwork, the thick paper and the amusing articles in Frankie.

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  21. I am not a magazine buyer, but I have bought Frankie magazine before (I am older than the targeted demographic too), and intend to purchase this issue. The cover is beautiful. It is a treat to buy a magazine that is thoughtful and intelligent, and not an ounce of celebrity gossip on its beautiful thick pages ;)

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  22. Wholly based on your recommendation I bought Frankie for the first time today, it's unlike any magazine I've bought before, I had a quick glance through it will reserve judgement when I give it more time, what I did see looks good. The thing I do love about the magazine (apart from the cover) is the paper it's printed on, such a lovely tactile feel to it and the pull out calender. I have it on my fridge, but for the moment the fun drawing on the reverse. Only one of my family commented on it and I had to demostrate some of the dance moves illustrated, much to their embarrassement - was told "ok enogh" LOL.

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    1. A bit of embarrassment never hurt anyone. Keep dancing Cheryl. XX

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  23. Just discovered from the "find frankie locator" that there's 4 shops in our town that stock Frankie! I must be able to find a copy in one of them to have a look through to see if I like it :).

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  24. I just treked all over town to a store listed in Auckland as supplying Frankie. Stopped by the supermarket on the way home and there it was - right by the checkout! How frustrating!! Nevermind, at least it's available in NZ.
    I'm not sure if I'd buy it again. But what a gorgeous cover. I love the feel of it, and clever design flaps,etc. I would have loved it to include something more crafty. $10.99 here in NZ is an extravagance for me, and I'd rather spend it on something I know I'd read again, and use for reference, patterns, etc. However I'm keen to try the cakes. And I think my husband will enjoy it too. Thanks for the heads up, Rhonda :)

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