Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I think I need an intervention

I have a confession to make.

I have quite a significant collection of cookbooks.  Some of them I haven't even cooked a recipe out of (I really like the pictures though - does that count?).  Many a time I have fritted away an afternoon drooling over recipes in the guise of 'working out what to cook for dinner'.  Food porn I call it.  That's one reason why I love Celia's blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial - her pictures (and her recipes) are very drool-worthy! 

The LOML would like it immensely if I would reduce the number of cookbooks I own.  Likewise the number of gardening books.  And novels.  (what can I say, I'm a reader!).  Unfortunately for him, I don't like his chances.

So today I'd like to share with you some of the [many] cookbooks that regularly jump off the shelf at me....

This is my high school Home Economics textbook.  It's been many years since it was used as a textbook but the dog-eared, food spattered pages are testament to it's regular use.  I find it has all the basics in one place - pastries, biscuits, cakes, casseroles - that I then adapt according to what I have in the fridge and pantry!  Best of all I got it for $4 when the school library had a cleanout.  Nice.

This one is a present I got for the LOML for his birthday a couple of years back.  He doesn't cook but I was tired of getting him presents that he would never use (eg money clip, electric shaver) so that year I got him Jamie and told him he could pick any recipe out of it and I would cook it for him.  Me wanting the book had nothing, absolutely nothing, at all to do with this present decision!  I am still yet to make a recipe chosen by the LOML......!

This is my bargain market find - only $5!  It has the best dark fruit cake recipe - very much a favourite of the LOML.

This one the LOML bought for me when we got back from Thailand last year.  He bought it for the pictures scattered throughout - a very visual reminder for us of our trip.  I love it because of the recipes.  Everyone's happy!

This is another one that entered my collection just after we got back from our Thailand trip - I bought this one.  It has some amazing curries.  The hardest part is choosing just the one to cook.

And finally this is the book I turn to most when I am feeling creative or when I am craving something sweet!  Just flicking through its pages satisfies my every desire!

So that's it for today.  Like I said, I own a lot of books - certainly too many to be taking photos of them all and posting them here!  One of my favourite recreational pursuits is to stand in front of the cookery section shelves of the bookstore and flip through the pages of every book.  Probably not appreciated by the bookstore staff but if I had lots of money I'd buy them all!  I also love the cookery section of the library though the disappointing thing is that I have to give them back!  Oh well....!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A precious gift

My friend Velvet Couture recently posted about the gift of time.  Such a precious commodity and so relatively easy to give, yet one that is taken for granted every day by most of us.

It got me thinking about time I spent with my dad when I was younger.  

The clearest memory I have is when my brother and sister and I went camping with dad the first Christmas after he and mum split up.  Two weeks camping in a National Park in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  Just him and us and two of our cousins.  Two whole weeks.  It was the first time in my ten year old life I could remember having his complete attention - he was all ours - with no work or business or farming distractions of any kind.  

Camping, fishing, cooking on the open fire, singing along to the pop songs on the car radio, melting marshmallows on the ends of sticks, riding our bikes, swimming, hiking.....two weeks of absolute fun that has stayed with me all these years and still makes me smile.  When I think about it, I can only remember another handful of times where it was just dad and I but they are special times, times that I always remember with warmth.

What makes this time spent with dad so extra special is that we lost him six months ago to a heart attack.  He was only 58.  There are no more opportunities to spend time with him, laugh with him, joke with him, play cricket, watch the football on telly.  No more chances to create new memories and relive past ones.  No more time.  All I have left is the precious few memories and the rare photo to remind me.  But those I will treasure in my heart all the more as the years pass.

Since he passed I find I am more aware of, and cherish more, the special people in my life and the time I get to spend with them.  Every day is precious.   I try not to pass up opportunities to see them, to be with them, to share good times and bad with them, to tell them I love them and how important they are to me....I just never know when those times will run out.  

So thank you Velvet Couture for your wonderful post - and for all those fun years at Oriel Park!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Tough decisions

A couple of weeks ago the request was made.

With a little person's birthday (Big Boy of 4!) quickly approaching, books were consulted and plans made for a cake to suit the grown-up-so-quick-but-still-mums-baby-ness of the occasion.

Trucks and trains were dismissed, as were his older sister's sage suggestions of pirate ships, hidden treasure chests, spiders, swords, pigs, cats, dolls (?) and poodles (basically, every page of the Women's Weekly Kid's Birthday Cakes book was put forward!).

The choices were narrowed.

A dragon.  Or a snake. 

Or a dragon.  Or a snake.

Mmmmm.....this could take some time.

A few days passed.  I needed a decision.  There was cake to be baked.

Eventually the message was received.  Dragon is GO!  I repeat, DRAGON IS GO!

But not just any dragon.  No, we're talking Dibo the Gift Dragon.


That's what I said but after a quick google revealed his colourful visage, plans were finalised and ingredients purchased in preparation for the creation of a masterpiece in sugar icing.
Dibo the Gift Dragon (ABC2 if you're interested....)
So.....(drum roll please....)...I give for your viewing pleasure.....

......the Dibo cake!!!!! (the crowd goes wild!!).
Pretty good likeness I reckon!
I must say that I think it turned out pretty well.  Considering it is only my second 'real' decorated cake outside my decorating course I am actually stoked at the result!  As was the recipient. 

The best part according to a little person on a MAJOR sugar-high (said with a mouthful of jelly beans and a handful of lollie snakes) was Dibo's mouth - solid sugar, no surprises there!

Apparently when that sugar-high wore off there was peace across the land and order was restored quick-smart! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

On My Mind: Bale-ing out

Yesterday I had two bales of mulch delivered.

Very exciting.

I have been waiting for a week for these to come (long story, not the best experience in customer service but it ended happily so all is well) - so have my veggie seedlings that have not long been planted.

After waiting so long, it didn't take me long to get stuck in. 

So for your viewing pleasure, we have.........the start....
They are a bit wonky looking because they were water damaged - as in, completely submerged in the floods.  We got them at a GREAT price so I'm not complaining one little bit - and really, their job is to hold in the moisture so it can only help if they start moist!
...the middle (I had to stop for a sit-down - I was in desperate need of something to eat and a BIG drink of water)....
Being wet (all the way through!) it was a big job having to lift and pull and drag the layers apart - much harder than if it had been dry.  And of course the wind was blowing a gale - always is when I am moving mulch!
...and finally the end....(HURRAAYYY!).
I really hope this one isn't as wet as the other....
Stinky, sweaty and absolutely shattered, I then called it a day and headed for a hot (HOT) shower and a rest.

So what will be on my mind today?

You got it!  Mulch!

(I have a feeling I will be very sore tomorrow!!)

This On My Mind photo feature is lead by Rhonda at Down-to-Earth that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to sharing our lives through photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Red Wine, Italian Style

Last night the LOML and I had our good friend out for the night (who may also play a part in the asking of the Pertinent Question....).   Twas a good night - delish slow-cooked casserole, fresh bread, partnered with good conversation and lots of laughs.

Anyway, he has just got back from a quick trip to the US, England and Italy.

And this is what he brought back for us.....

A bottle of Castello Do Oliveto Chianti Riserva

Just saying the name makes me want to wave my hand in the air and have a good looking waiter bring me pasta carbonara and some bruschetta....!

Of course, this is totally not helpful in any way, shape or form for my pledge to limit my alcohol consumption....!  But hey, it's a gift - cannot be refused!

Now to work out what scrumptious goodie I can whip up to serve with it....and what 'special' occasion warrants popping the seal.....!

A pertinent question

This morning I was confronted with this.....

...not a big deal in itself but it got me thinking....

Do members of the masculine homosapien variety possess a chromosonal inability to change the toilet roll?  Or do they just not see it (you know, hunter/gatherer argument, they are too busy looking waaaaay out on the horizon for the beast to kill for food that they fail to see the vegetable growing at their feet)?  Or is it just, dare I say it, laziness?

Buggers me.

I do know that the toilet rolls live next to the toilet, within arms reach of the empty roll, so it's not like changing the roll is a big job.

Not that I have a problem with (always) changing the roll. 

I'm just asking.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The day after the day after the BEST day in the world!

I remember reading somewhere someone saying they felt sorry for those people out there who don't drink at all because when they woke up in the morning, that was the best they would feel all day.

Today, I am feeling GREAT!  I could climb mountains, I could fly to the moon, I could do anything!

Yesterday, not so much.

Completely self-inflicted so no sympathy required, I am still shaking my head at myself for having too much to drink.  Haven't done that for a long while and now I remember why.  Stupid really!

Anyhoo, it was lots of fun at the time and the LOML and I laughed and laughed and talked and laughed some more, and then it was time for bed and I realised as I stood up and tried to walk that the world wasn't wobbly or rotating quicker than normal - it was me.  Bummer.

Nothing that a good night sleep and many litres of water couldn't fix!  Oh, and eating the world (that's right, the WORLD!).  How I still managed to fit dinner in considering the quantity of food I ate yesterday astounds me!

Here's to limiting my alcohol consumption for the next few weeks!  Cheers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

D-day (S-day)

Last night was S-day  - Sleepover Day.

It went EXTREMELY well.

I went over and picked up my neice and nephew at 11am (they had been counting down the hours, then the minutes, then I was greeted as I pulled into the driveway by 'Aunty Shelley, Aunty Shelley, AUNTY SHELLEY!!!!!). 

Oh the excitement!  They had their bags packed and on their backs.  They were in my car without a backward glance at mum and dad - byeee!.  They were ready to start their sleepover!!!

First up we headed down-town for some groceries (missing essentials for baking of goodies for the afternoon), followed by lunch at a fast-food 'restaurant' (I felt sick afterwards and wished I had taken them home for a sandwich!), then home to start the fun stuff!

First off....we made some bread dough....which eventually became jam/ vegemite & cheese scrolls...

Thanks Picnik for the photo collage capabilities!

Then some little people went and played in the rain....the mud puddles actually!  Oh the mud - I was scrubbing it out of ears and noses and eyes....and as for their clothes, well, mum has a good supply of Napisan so not my problem!!!

Then we made some biscuits....
The licking of the bowl is the BEST part of making biscuits!

Icing the bikkies - thanks Cattle, Kids & Chaos for the idea of using syringes for the not messy!
 And finally we made dinner (pizza.....yummmmm!).

Then we made a 'tent' in front of the telly (well, Uncle Phil did, Aunty Shelley was DONE for a little bit.....!)

And put on a DVD and fell asleep (little people fell asleep that is!).  All as per the plan!

In the morning we woke up and cooked bacon and eggs for brekky....
Aunty Shelley did the eggs - the bacon cooking was a shared task.....

....before heading down to Nan's to wait for mum and dad to sober up enough come pick up their children.

We found out after the fact that a little boy didn't last the distance of the trip home (out like a light) but a little girl was ECSTATIC and recounted the whole weekend, complete with actions and photos, for mum and dad's viewing pleasure. 

I totally LOVE my neice and nephew!

And as I sit here now with my glass of 'something alcoholic' (eg. some bad, nasty, Queensland-er stuff but oh so....alcoholic!) reflecting on a wonderful weekend, I realise I am TOTALLY ready for bed - those kids have worn me out completely!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sleepover day is here!

It all started between my sister and I weeks ago.

While she and my BIL went to the races to support fundraising for their daughter's school (I know right!) we would look after the kids.  Originally just for the afternoon, I then suggested a sleepover (I had a feeling mum and dad would be feeling quite poorly on Sunday morning!!) and it was quickly (not even a pause!) accepted!

But we didn't tell the kids.

Instead, on Tuesday I sent them an invitation.....

On Wednesday I got a phone call from my neice.  'We just got your card, can we really come over for a sleepover?'.  Indeedly you can!  We are going to have sooooo much fun!  I don't think you realise how much fun we're going to have?  'Yes I do, it says on the card that we need our shoes and our hats and our aprons and that we're going to cook pizzas for dinner and make some biscuits and play soccer in the backyard and build a tent in the loungeroom.....' 

On Thursday I got another phone call, 'Aunty Shelley the news said it's going to be stormy on Saturday but we have to play soccer in the backyard with Uncle Phil but we can't if it's raining?'.  No worries little dude!  We'll just play in the rain and then when we come inside we'll straight away have a hot bath!  It's all good!

On Friday morning (early - too early for me!), another phone call.  I can't really remember what was asked (like I said, too early for me!) but I remember saying something along the lines of 'No worries little dude!  It's all good!'.  And then I went back to sleep....

On Friday night, another phone call.  'On the card it says to bring our aprons but we can't find ours so I'm going to use mum's but Nicko won't have one, will that be alright?'. No worries little dude!  He can just wear an old shirt!  It's all good!  See you tomorrow!

I was so certain the phone would ring at some unGodly hour this morning with a little person on the end asking 'what time are you coming to pick us up?  How soon can you get here?  Why aren't you here yet?'  that I put it on silent!  I needed all the sleep I could get last night because I doubt there will be much tonight!

They are soooooo excited it is unbelievable!
But we are too.  We love having them over and this time we have lots of fun stuff planned! 

So the big question is, who do you think will have more fun, them or us?

Friday, March 18, 2011

A little piece of history - saved!

The other day I was in the right place at the right time.  Rarely does that happen for me so this time I was excited!  

Being in the right place at the right time meant that I was able to save a box of magazines from being thrown out.  Not just any magazines though, these are special!

.....Australian Home Journal 1958-1960, Australian Women's Weekly 1970's, New Idea 1970's,  Women's World 1970's plus a whole lot from the early eighties (complete with Lady Di and Fergie on the covers)...all in fairly good condition considering where they had been stored (you don't want to know!).
Pages of pattern previews....and the Australian Home Journal comes with 3 (yes, 3!) FREE patterns!!!

Just a quick flick through a few on the top of the pile and I knew they had to come home with me!  

It's interesting to see that while the wording may have changed, the ideas behind marketing to women hasn't!

I'm like a kid in a candy shop - I don't know where to start!!!

This On My Mind photo feature is lead by Rhonda at Down-to-Earth that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to sharing our lives through photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Run, Forrest, Run

Actually it's more like Run, Kirsty, Run!

And run she did.

This is my littlest sister winning the Australian under 15yr 400m title.

I'm going to be sitting in the grandstand watching her at the olympics one day.

What a champion!

She amazes me in so many ways.... :)

Thank you for the music

I go through my day with a non-stop soundtrack on repeat on the go in my head.

There is always music going on in there.

Sometimes it's a song, sometimes a tv ad, sometimes a radio jingle. 

Sometimes it's just one line repeated over, and over, and over.  Drives me batty.

See me walking?  You can be guaranteed I'm walking in time to the beat I've got on playback.

Did you spot that move?  Yes, I'm dancing to the funk.

Can you hear me?  No, that's cos i don't sound so good out-loud (but in my head, I could be Aretha).

Today, this is what has been on repeat.

This song goes off though the one in my head is the Rockwiz version - loud and rockin!

Dan Sultan is the bomb.  I went and saw Bran Nue Dae just to see him sing. 

Today I'm just glad it's not the Neighbours theme song.  That was the other day.  I don't watch Neighbours at all but somehow I know all the words to the theme song. 

That day, I could have killed someone.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cooties, cakes and dragons

Today I'm feeling a little....bleh.  I think I'm coming down with the cootie that the LOML had on the weekend.  Of course, mine won't be anwhere near as bad as what he had.  I don't yet have the high fever but I've got the 'am I hot? or am I cold?' thing on the go.  I'm also a bit space-cadety.  Bugger that I'm about to go into the shop for the afternoon....who knows what could happen.

Despite starting to not feel so good, I'm going with the denial method of dealing with it.  I've had two panadol for the headache and numerous vitamin C tablets for the achey throat/ flu-like feeling - other than that there's not much else I can do at this stage.  Hopefully my immune system will do it's thing and fight the good fight.

Anyway, this is what I've been doing this morning....
I've finished off the cake I started icing the other week.
I must say I'm pretty happy with the result.  Not too bad for a first effort after the training course.  Some of the finishes don't bear close scrutiny but considering I don't have all the necessary tools for finishing, not a bad effort at all if I do say so myself.

I am stoked with the way the flowers came out though.  Seven second rose is what they're called and while they take a little longer than 7 seconds to make, they don't take anywhere near as long as you would think!  I also totally am in love with the shimmer powder - v. glam!

I don't know what I'll do with this cake - I don't eat fruit cake myself (and there is waaayyyy too much sugar icing for the LOML).  Most likely I'll give it to my mum.  Then she can decide what to do with it!!

Dibo the Gift Dragon
I'm about to start on another fruit cake (to keep on practicing and hopefully mastering those skills)....maybe later in the week.  I also have my nephews birthday cake in a fortnight.  He has requested Dibo the Gift Dragon.  I'll have my work cut out for me.  Good thing he's only a little tyke so really anything with coloured sugar icing (the more the merrier) will be the best thing ever!

Watch this space for photos of the Dibo cake (and stories of the resulting sugar high)....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweet, sweet poison

These two books have changed my life.

Towards the end of last year, as I was downing my third V for the day (I know, terrible), I came to the realisation that something had to change.  I wasn't sleeping properly so was always tired, I was moody, I was eating the world and I was having three V's a day (!!!) - the first by 9am (and no amount of justification that I don't drink tea or coffee can remove the terrible-ness of that!).  I was also spending a stupid amount of money on these sugary/caffiene/guarana drinks (and that's with buying them at the supermarket in 4-packs, as opposed to individual cold cans from the cafe) and they didn't seem to be having the same kick they did when I first started drinking them.....someone had themself a habit!

Not long after this light-bulb moment, I was wandering around the bookshop (my favourite all-time pasttime) and David Gillespie's book Sweet Poison jumped out at me from the shelf.  Well, it didn't actually jump out but it certainly caught my attention.  I read the intro (always a good indication as to whether I will like the book) and couldn't stop reading.  At least 40 minutes later I'm sure the sales girl was seconds away from doing an Apu "Ahhh, Mr Homer, this is not a public library.  Please get out."  So I bought the book.

I think I read it from front to back in two days (while at work - shhhhh, don't tell!) and it really struck a chord.  Without going into to too much detail, David's book is about his experience eliminating sugar from his diet, losing weight in the process.  He has done a lot of research into sugar in our diets (from a 'everyday' person point - he is not a scientist/ nutritionist/ dietician/ medical practitioner etc - he's a normal person) and some of the things he found out were enough to put the heebeejeebees in me and make me want to change my way of eating.

Then I found his second book, the Quit Plan, which made it so much easier to put into practice.  So into practice I did put it.  Five rules - easy to understand, easy to implement - that made all the difference.  It was coming up to Christmas and New Years so I struggled a little with all the temptations on offer around that time of year but was able to get right back on track after a few little binges (normally after a binge I would give up but not this time).

I kept at it and on top of it for about 5 months and felt the best I ever have in all my life.  As a bonus to feeling great (fitter, firmer, not as hungry, better skin, sleeping through the night) I lost a little weight.  Not my original intention, to lose weight, but it was a bonus.  I just wanted to kick the sugar cravings throughout the day and be able to go to a restaurant without looking at the dessert menu first!

The last couple of weeks have seen me start to waiver in my sugar-free-stance.  I'm consuming softdrinks and sweet cakes again, not in the quantities that I was but I seem to be unable to resist the temptation.  I find I'm craving something sweet to eat at odd hours of the day and have a headache most afternoons.  And my pants are getting tight.  Time to take action. 

So these are the five easy rules that are guiding my life again, effective today:
  1. I will change my attitude: I am being beating my addiction, not depriving myself of sugar. 
  2. I will not snack on sugar.  End of story.  (I now know how much sugar is in a can of V and it is SCARY!).
  3. Once a sugarholic, always a sugarholic: I can't afford to have even a little.  (This is the big one for me - honey on toast in the morning is not an option).
  4. I won't concern myself with fat content other than to steer away from low-fat foods. (Low-fat = high sugar).
  5. Party food is for parties.  (Parties don't happen every day, so NO).

I can do this. 

I will do this. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rockin Rods

Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Born to be wild!

Today the main street of town was taken over by about 150 Hot Rods for the Hot Rodders Hi Altitude Rod Run - Show n Shine (phew, what a mouthful!).

It rocked. 

There were fantastic cars, great music and dancing in the street. 

What a top Sunday.

The best part - when the Rods fired up their engines.  Aaahhhh the sound, the deep, rumbling, beefy sound....made me a little weak at the knees!  Now I'm not really a fan of hotted up cars, I prefer bikes, but I am always a sucker for a deep rumble whatever the source!

Here are some piccies so you can share the day.....

The band was The Song Dogz and they played from the back of a truck from 9am.  What a Sunday!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You crazy galah

Yesterday afternoon while I was waiting for the LOML to come home from work, I heard a noise coming from the back of the house that sounded like someone was trying to break in.

No need to tell you I shit myself and immediately started thinking which alternative exit I would take to GET ME OUTTA THERE.  We have a number to put this in the next street over so I'm always cautious when I'm home alone.

Eventually I got angry enough (who the hell do they think they are trying to break into my house!?!) to go and investigate.  True, I did so sneakily, tiptoe-ing along the timber floorboards and peering out from behind a curtain.  But investigate I did.

Couldn't see anything from the window so then I had to brave it and go outside.  At least it was still daylight.  If it was night-time, not a chance.

Anyway, this is what was trying to break into my house.....
Note to self: must do something about that mould....
....two pink galahs.

My guess is that they were looking for a place to set up house - a love shack all of their own. 

Unfortunately for them this house is already taken.  And no amount of eating the weatherboards (that's what the noise was) is going to change that.

Bloody nature*.

* running joke in this household - said by the sister of a friend who, after moving to a bushland setting surrounded by native trees, was woken one morning (quite late by any standard) by a number of birds chirping and singing outside her window.  Upon rising and greeting her guests uttered the immortal words 'bloody nature'.  Funny as!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Busy Bee

Goodness what an afternoon!

I have spent the best part of this afternoon in the kitchen and have whipped up some delish goodies for the LOML and I (and a few to give away!).

First off was the roast.  I love a slow cooked roast.  And this one was even more special because it was only for the LOML and I - no guests tonight!  Don't get me wrong, I love cooking for friends and family but when it comes to a roast (especially in my family) it's first in, best dressed.  You snooze, you lose!  But tonight, no fights for the last roast onion, no squabbles over the cripsy roast edges (tip: grab the knife and offer to carve - guartaneed to get the best bits, plus obligatory taste-testing!) - more than enough for both of us with a little leftover.  Yum!  [note: I would have taken a photo but it was gone before I remembered the camera!  Too busy eating - I LOOOOVVVEE a roast!]

While the roast was on the go I whipped up a batch of Hot Cross Buns.  I know, I know, Easter is still a while away yet but I felt the urge to bake some so I did.  Gotta love that the breadmaker did all the hard work! 

In the oven ready to bake.  I think my oven might be ready for retirement - I had the dial on 200 degrees yet the theremometer is nowhere near that!

I also whipped up an Apple Crumble for dessert.  The LOML and I aren't big dessert people (I used to be - the result of a childhood where dessert was used as a bribe to get me to eat everything on my plate!) but tonight is a special occasion (it's Friday!) and this is the LOML pick.  He likes his Apple Crumble cold, served with cold custard.  Me, I like it hot so I will cut myself a piece and warm it in the oven while we eat.

And what is Apple Crumble without custard....  Tonight I've gone with easy and used the packet base.  Though nothing is as good as a real made-from-scratch egg custard.... Another night maybe!

Phew!  What an afternoon! 

I definitely deserve those few red wines I've had with dinner!

So, what's on the menu tomorrow night......leftovers for sure!
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