Tap dancing!

When I was a little girl growing up in Canberra, I really really REALLY wanted to learn how to tap dance. I’d grown up watching Fred and Ginger,

ginger-rogers-fred-astaire-swing-time

Gene and Debbie (and Donald),

Debbie Reynolds Gene Kelly Singing in the Rain

Anne

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and the great Eleanor.

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However, being a little Spanish girl growing up far away from home, the only dance lessons my mother let me attend were flamenco, which I enjoyed thoroughly, don’t get me wrong. But tap… Ahh tap had always been this dream, for decades… until now. I am proud to say that I am a student at the Sydney Dance Company! Located by the Harbour Bridge, the moment you walk in you feel you are stepping into the set for Fame (minus the leg warmers, apparently they’re not that cool). There’s a great vibe and all sorts of people, joined by their love of dance. Just so you can get a sneak peak into what a class looks like, they have their own vimeo page, which includes a video of a tap lesson similar to the one I’m attending. If you are in Sydney and want to have the best workout whilst listening to swing (heaven?), then look no further.

NOTE: None of the photos are mine. The Swingtime photograph is from here, Singin’ in the rain from here, Kiss me Kate from here, and Rosalie from here.

Churros

I come from a family who loves to sleep and loves to eat. We all loved a good lie-in on weekends, except my dad. You see, his love of food was bigger than his love of sleep. So one of his genius ideas was to lure us into getting up early and helping him cook breakfast. And we’d cook churros, for the 6 of us, and any friends staying over. There was always someone staying over. But how do you manage to wake up teenagers early and make them cook breakfast? Bribery. Of the worst kind. What he’d do is he’d make the dough for the churros and fry one. Just one. Cover it in sugar and come to our rooms and make us try it, while still half-asleep. This is what the dough looks like:

churro dough

It was a masterful stroke, because he’d say something like “Ohhh I’ve made churros for breakfast. Come and join me”. So we’d get up, follow him as if we were under some sort of spell and then, then surprise SURPRISE. The churros had not been fried yet in olive oil! So we’d obviously help, by that point we were starving and our body wanted more churros. Image of churro being cooked below:

churros being fried

By the time they were ready, we’d all managed to get up and sat around the table, eagerly awaiting this feast. We only had breakfast together when there was churros.  This is what the finished product looks like:

Cooked churros

This past weekend I made churros for the first time since my dad passed away. A group of us got together at a friend’s house in Sydney. I provided the recipe, but he had a churrera, the machine where you put the dough in so it comes out in that great churro shape. And how did he source a churrera in Sydney? Well, he’d had it for over 15 years. It was a present from my dad as our friend would join in the churros fun like another member of the Robledo clan when he stayed with us all those years ago..

In case you were wondering, the churros were delicious, and we ate them the only way one possibly can… with thick hot chocolate!

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Initials

For those of you who read designer blogs and frequent their enticing Pinterest board equivalents, I’m pretty sure the headboard below is somewhat familiar:

Otomi headboard

It was posted on Design*Sponge over two years ago, and like everything that they feature on their website, the Otomi-inspired pattern on the headboard became famous overnight. Handmade by Otomi Indians in Hidalgo (Mexico), Otomi textiles are crafted from cotton muslin and decorated in colourful embroidery. I think anyone who sees an Otomi bedspread lusts over it, with its luxurious embroidery and fantastic imagery. And it’s the latter that inspired me to paint in gouache some very special Christmas presents for some very special kids. The oldest brother’s name starts with an L:

L initial 1

His gorgeous sister’s name with an E:

E initial

And their newborn brother’s name also starts with an L:

L initial 2

I spent a wonderful Sunday with them yesterday and was happy to see an initial displayed proudly in each of their rooms 🙂

Don’t rain on my parade

Yesterday was my beautiful sister Reyes‘ 40th birthday.  I was unable to attend the surprise party her husband had organised for her (she lives in Spain and I’m in Canada). Instead of sending her a video of me, to be projected on a screen, saying how much I missed and loved her, I thought Barbara Streisand would do it much better. “Don’t rain on my parade” is one of the many songs that are part of our family soundtrack, and so it was the perfect choice. Together with my wonderful friend Adam who lives in the UK, in just 3 days we filmed and edited our own music video of the song. Needless to say, Reyes (and my other siblings as well), started crying with laugher and ended crying with sadness when they watched it. Here it goes:

And here’s the inspiration for our video, as it appears in Funny Girl!

Presents

Since I have taken up ceramics, I no longer buy presents for anyone. I MAKE presents. During my last trip to Spain this month, I brought bowls for my mother and siblings as presents. This is the last picture taken of the bowls, which was immediately after they came out of the kiln (and half an hour before I dashed off to the airport afraid I’d missed my flight!):

In clockwise order is a bowl that depicts the church of San Miguel in our village. This is a particularly special parish for my family as it’s where my grandparents, great-grandparents and sister Rocio got married. My mother was baptized there as well. And to make it even more special, my late father did this gorgeous painting of it years ago:

The next bowl depicts another very special building for our family: the Mezquita in Cordoba. My newlywed parents settled in a village not far from the Andalusian city of Cordoba and the Mezquita was always a place of great inspiration for my father’s work. Here’s one of his paintings from 1976:

And here are a couple of images that document the painting of the bowl. First the inside:

and then the outside:

In the last bowl I wanted to depict all of the birds we had as pets while living in Australia. Here’s an image of it still in process:

And although my father did not do a painting of our pets as such, this illustration by Miroslav Sasek from his book This is Australia pretty much captures the relationship we had with them:

Needless to say, my family LOVED their presents.

Happy Birthday Rocio!!!

Today is my amazing sister Rocio’s birthday. The thing with my sister is that she’s the least tech-savvy person I know. The Internet refuses to work in her house, she doesn’t have a smartphone and sees Facebook as the Devil. In spite of all these slightly annoying facts, the truth is that my sister is EXTRAORDINARY. She’s the one who showed me the infinite possibilities drawing/painting can give you: from making my own paper dolls, to designing dozens of paper dollhouses, not to mention discovering the joy of silk painting, making my first stamp with a potato, doing calligraphy with a wooden peg, and planting the seed in my new love for sewing. She taught me all these things, and by doing so, opened a world where art and crafts have ended up being a very important part of who I am.

Love you sis xxx

Header

When I went to Muskoka a week and a half ago, not only was the Antique and Classic Boat Show on, but the Antique and Classic Car Show was also on! Given the age and gender of most of the attendees at both events, it was the quintessential retired man’s paradise for one whole weekend. Even though I don’t drive, I’ve always preferred older cars as opposed to the ones we see on the roads these days. Actually, I think I can pretty much use that statement for a lot of things in my life, but we’ll use it for cars for the benefit of this post.

There was a particular car I recognised immediately, photographed below: a good old Dodge Brothers. For anyone in North America, the brand is nothing special, but in Spain it meant driving in a completely different style, in an American dream kind of style. My grandfather knew this and he was a Dodge Brothers dealer in a small town in the south of Spain during the 1920s and 1930s.

When it came to chosing an image for the header on this blog, I didn’t think it twice and proudly display the illustration of an advert for my grandfather’s business. Unfortunately I don’t know who did the original illustration, probably someone from his town, or maybe even my grandmother, who was an excellent artist.

One of my favourite parts of the advert is where it says “INFORMESE DE QUIEN POSEA UNO”, which roughly means, “for information, ask a person who already owns one”. It’s funny how we rely on the internet these days to obtain so much information, but at the end of the day, whenever we are making a considerable purchase, we tend to ask people who have undergone a similar situation for their advice. The old ways seem to stick with us, if only more of the old cars did as well…!