Monday, February 28, 2011

Note to self...

.....when chopping chillis, do NOT rub eye.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friends rock

Last night we had some friends over for a BBQ. 

We had such beautiful weather during the day that it would have been criminal not to!

Our guests last night were Mr & Mrs Paddy - once customers, now good friends.  A good time was had by all, lots of laughing and joking and eating too much followed by the BEST (that's right, the best - I'm putting it out there!) Pavlova I reckon I've ever eaten.  Given that both Mr & Mrs Paddy are kiwi's I shouldn't have expected anything less (though Australia lays claim to the pav I'm sure it originated in New Zealand!).  Div-ine! 

Obligatory food porn shot.....yummm....blueberries, strawberries, passionfruit,
cream & chocolate on a pavlova shell....double yum!
I restricted myself to only one serving knowing that any more than that and the sugar rush would have me awake until dawn.  The leftovers are currently sitting in the fridge tempting me - eat me, eat me, EAT ME!!!  Must....resist.....

Anyway, having Mr & Mrs Paddy over got me thinking about friends as I drifted off to sleep.....the LOML and I don't have that many friends, we pretty much keep to ourselves, but those we do have are keepers.  Genuine people we have gathered into our lives over the years who enrich us and make us better people.  Some we've known since the dawn of the ages, others have only come into our lives in the last year, but good friends all.

I also got to thinking about how different our friends are - from each other, and from us, yet our 'common-ness' connects us.  Regardless of our backgrounds (where we grew up, where we live, what our life goals are, what our religious beliefs are etc) it seems to me that we are linked by our mutual respect and acceptance of those differences. 

Last weekend we caught up with our Muslim friends from Jordan (for coffee that saw us leave 6 hours later!), this weekend our New Zealand friends who are contemplating Australian citizenship, next weekend we're hoping to have dinner with our devoutly Christian neighbours.  It makes me feel so good to have such good people in our lives - different in so many ways, and yet so much the same. 

I consider myself very fortunate in my friends.  xxx

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ooh baby, baby

ooh baby baby, how was I supposed to know, that something wasn't right here....

This morning I am looking after my adorable baby nephew for my SIL who has some chores to do and will get them done a whole lot quicker if she's flying solo. 

a few days old..little angel

He is my newest nephew and, at two months old, is good enough to eat (not that I would, but he is so squishable!).  He and I just had a 'discussion' over sleeptime - he was very vocal, proposed some well rounded arguments, however I won and he's currently out like a light, sleeping sweet baby dreams.

I am fortunate to have a sister and SIL who are happy to let me, and the LOML, be active in their children's lives.  Why is that so important?  Well, the LOML and I decided a number of years ago that having kids of our own wasn't something we wanted.

For a whole number of reasons (there's one to upset EVERYONE in the world I'm sure) we, as independent, mature adults came to the mutual decision not to have children.  For some reason, this seems to upset a lot of people.  And they can get quite nasty about it too.  So without going into the reasons (unless, you know, you want to be offended.....), here is an example of how conversations regarding our progeny (or lack of) have a tendency to go....

     Other:  How long have you been married?
     MeComing up 8 years

     Other:  How many kids?

     Other:  Give it time, you'll get there.
     MeNo time needed, we're not having children.

     Other:  You'll change your mind.
     Me:  No.  We won't*.

     Other:  Don't leave it too late.
     MeNever too late.  Not having kids.

     Other:  You'll regret not having them.
     Me:  Always a possibility, but I doubt it.  I'm willing to take that risk.  I'd much rather get to the end of my life regretting not having children than regretting having them.

     Other:  But you have to have kids.
     MeSays who?

     Other:  But you're married...

     Other:  Tha's just selfish.
     MeYes.  Yes it is.

....and so on, and so on, and so get the picture.

For our own reasons we are not having kids.  End of story. 

Not because we don't like kids - we do, we love kids.  Just not enough to have our own.

Thanks for your understanding and acceptance of our life choice. :)

*as always there is a footnote.....we, as mature adults, always reserve the right to change our mind, for our own reasons, without judgement from others.  Not that we will.  Just saying, you know, in case....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating my way around the world

A menu board in Chiang Mai - $1AUD was roughly 28Baht
Last year the LOML and I had a year of fun and fitness.  Well, that was the plan.  We had lots of fun.  The fitness truly was an ideal - that didn't quite happen.  Oh well.

Anyway....the fun!  Oh the fun!

In May last year we packed our backpacks and headed to the airport armed with a one-way ticket out of Australia and no plan.  If you had asked me even 4 years ago if I could do that - travel without having every minute of every day planned in advance with backup plans in place 'just in case' - I would have laughed at you.  But I've changed.  Oh how I've changed!

The LOML has always lived by the seat of his pants, making things up as he goes along, enjoying the moment and living each day as it comes.  And he's rubbed off on me.  Gone, well at significantly decreased levels, are my worrying and pre-planning to death ways.  Now I too can enjoy the moment.....and in what better way than travelling the world with only three changes of clothes, a one-way-ticket and a list of places I'd like to see! 
mmmm...Pad Thai & Chicken Coconut Milk Soup
So we headed out in May last year and came back about 8 weeks later (was going to be longer but I got homesick and we came home - but didn't tell anyone and surprised them all by just turning up at their door!).  Along the way we went to Thailand - spent most of our time there - and it was AMAZING!

The people are so beautiful, friendly and giving, and the countryside is spectacular.  We spent most of our time in the north in Chiang Mai - definitely going back there!  While there, after LOVING all of the food on all of the menus, I decided to do a cooking class.  It took a whole day and I learned how to make different curries and soups and desserts, and best of all, I got to eat them all at the end!  YUMMMM!!!

Once we got home I was able to cook for the family and show off my skills.  My talented metal-worker-brother even made me a trivet to fit on my gas cooker to hold my wok - to be paid off in the delish currency of 'real-deal 'curries!  Needless to say Thai night at our house is never missed and is WAY better than anything the local takeaway shops can offer.....
Penang Curry & Sticky Rice with Mango


Saturday, February 19, 2011

My magical escape

Don't cha know it's magic.  Oooh baby it's magic.

I've said it before, I'll say it again...I'm a reader.

Give me a good book and a comfy chair (optional - I can read ANYwhere) and you've lost me.  Don't bother talking to me cos I won't hear you (just ask the LOML).  Well, chances are I will hear you but just not when you are talking.  I'll respond about 5 minutes later when my brain computes what you've said.

I've always been a reader.  I remember being 6 or 7 years old and coming home from school after the mobile library had been (very small school - council library had a bus that would visit once a fortnight) with a PILE of books.  All read within days and then re-read numerous times before the bus came again.

Back then my books of choice were horse-related.  I loved horses.  Eventually I got my own horse Bobby and that just fanned the passion even more - when I wasn't riding I was reading!

What do I read now?  Magic.  Wizards and witches and demons and elves and lots of mystical happenings.  Now, even though I love reading magical fantasy novels, I don't go in for re-enactments or role-playing or computer games based on the books.  I just like to read. 
I also want to point out though that I've been reading 'magic' books (the book shops call them fantasy novels) LOOOONNNNGGG before Harry Potter came along and introduced a whole new generation to the escapism brought on by a good wizard fighting evil powers that want to take over the world.

Back to my story.....

The first book that turned me from horses to wands was this one.....
The book that started it all.  This is the 'New Revised Edition' I was given for my 16th birthday - I also have the original version of my first read.....
 A friend of my mum's had given her a book to read and she, not being that interested, put it into the crap cupboard (like the crap drawer but higher and a lot riskier to search through!) so she could forget about it.  I came home from high school and, in a moment of teenage nosiness, found it.  What started with a quick read of the first few pages to see what it was about (why is this book here? Where did it come from? Who does it belong to? How come I don't know about it?) ended 3 hours later when mum came home from work and found me sitting on the floor in the kitchen under the crap cupboard still totally absorbed and in another world.   And so it started......

I now have the whole collection of that series (and a new one has just been released!!! I am SO excited!!!) plus a heap more by different authors.  I read them all too.  The LOML can't understand that.  'But you know what is going to happen?  Why read it again?'. 

Because...... I can escape and be taken on an adventure even though I know the outcome.  I must admit I do read fast, very fast, and because of this I tend to skip sentences, sometimes paragraphs.  So by re-reading, I tend to pick up those missed bits ('wow, never read that bit before!').  I also love the characters and the storylines and the adventures......I love it all!

Right now I'm reading this one......
.....and I have to say (as I told the LOML last night) I can't actually remember reading it before.  Fancy that.  A book I've had for years, decades even, that I haven't read.   Jackpot! It's like finding $50 in the pocket of a jacket that hasn't been worn since last winter. 

This one is about number 4 in the series - I think I have two more to read after it......wonder if I've read them?  Can't wait now.....

What do you read?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let's talk about sex.... the garden.

RELAX...not about me having sex in the garden - phew!!!

No, let me tell you about the vegetable sex that is currently going on out there in my yard.  Naughty stuff!  Truly outrageous! Ris-que!

To set the scene.....the sun is peeking out behind the clouds, the breeze is blowing gently rustling the leaves of orange trees in a glorious morning tune, the birds are tweeting, the bees are buzzing.....and the pumpkins are getting DO-WN with it (cue Barry White 'my darlin I, can't get enough of your love baby'). 

Well, with this sort of reproducing-enticing scenario, they should be all over it.....but they're not.  The male flowers are all out early, blooming and ready for action but the ladies, well let's just say they're just not that keen for it.  I don't know what's been going on this last week or two but all the female flowers have been withering on the stems - not a fruiting to be had. Very disappointing. 

So I took action. 

I got involved.

I joined in.  (GASP)

This morning, after I'd fed the chickens, I assisted in some pumpkin-rumpy-pumpy.

Once some 'ladeez' were spotted, I selected the healthiest (and best looking let's be honest) male to be seen and helped them get jiggy with it (eyes closed of course!).  Finger's crossed my 'intervention' sees some results.....

I must note that these pumpkins are survivors - they have come up on their own so I'm hoping they know what they are doing cos I wouldn't have planted them this close to autumn with the expectation of success.....will just have to wait and see.....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I did it!

I'm a reader. 

If I'm interested in doing something that I know nothing about, I read anything and everything I can get my hands on before I have a go at it.  Annoys the LOML to no end but then he's a doer - a doer who has little time for instructions and usually ends up having to do it all again because he did it wrong the first time (that's where instructions help!).  Gotta laugh.

My very first batch of homemade soap!
Anyway, for a while now I've been interested in making my own soap but with all the reading, I got scared off by the warnings about caustic soda/ lye and haven't done anything about it.

And then I read Rhonda's blogpost, followed by Christine's, and decided there was no time like the present and if it didn't work out first go, that was okay.  Just do it.  (there is a lot of internal dialogue going on in my head at times like these - hard work convincing myself!).

Anyway, I did it.  And it worked!  First go! How exciting!

So I am now the proud creator of soap!  Woohooo!

Now for the next batch......

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let them eat cake!

I've been doing a cake decorating course one night a week for the past few weeks with a few more to go - loving every minute of it and learning SOOO much.

To put some of my newly-learned skills into practice I made my niece's 7th birthday cake over the weekend......she had picked out the design ages ago from a book on my shelf (I suspect the two little dollies were a big influence on the choice of this cake....!).

.....this is what it turned out like......

What do you think?  I'm pretty happy with the result considering I did it the night before.  With a bit more time I could have got the layers a bit neater and smoother (the cake itself was so soft it was hard to do anything!)....certainly a learning curve.  Watch out next year!

No matter what I thought of it (and I always see the faults and flaws in stuff I do myself) my niece was thrilled and absolutely loved it.  And really, that's all that matters.  :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

I went into the world today, and this is what I saw....

My passionfruit vine FINALLY starting to fruit....

Zucchini seedlings popping out....

Three little gifts from my girls....


A delish cucumber, making an appearance seemingly overnight.....
.......what a wonderful world to wander in...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I've got a bun in the oven

Well, actually, I've got eighteen buns in the oven!
I love fresh bread.  I love the smell, the taste, the way it looks..... ......mmmmmm!

one of my first loaves...

My first 'real' job (full-time job) was in a bakery.  As much as I didn't like the early morning starts (but LOVED the early finishes!) there was nothing better than parking in the street and walking into the shop with the delicious smell of freshly baking bread scenting the air.  Even now, many moons later, I still smile at the thought and my mouth starts watering.

Towards the end of last year I started baking my own bread at home.  I found it very hard to eat non-bakery-baked bread once I left the bakery so went for a number of years not eating it.  Then I had the cravings and decided to give making it myself a go.

Initially I did it all by hand -measuring, mixing, kneading, proving and baking in my kitchen.  I must say I was blown away by the results (my expectations were quite low for my first-time home-bread-making efforts having never done it before).  Once I got some actual 'bread-making' flour instead of the home-brand plain flour from the supermarket the results were even better!
my new BFF
This year Santa got me a breadmaker and the novelty still hasn't worn off!  I'd have to be eating a couple of loaves every week - and that's probably a conservative estimate!  Not so good for the hip-line but without the preservatives of supermarket bread, I figure it's not as bad as it could be.  Talking to other breadmaker owners, they tell me the novelty will eventually wear off and I'll ease up on the bread.

I'm still experimenting with all the different breads and loaves and rolls and buns I can make - and loving every minute of it!  So too is all my family - they love me turning up with a hot loaf wrapped in a tea-towel.  It's a fight to see who gets the crust!

In the oven today are some rolls that I'm taking to a BBQ tonight.  I've played with the shapes a bit but regardless of their look, they are going to taste GREAT!

the finished product! yummm!!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good customers get good service

Everyone seems to be saying it these days, you have to search far and wide to find a place that offers customer service.  Not good service, oh no no no, we're talking about any form of service full stop. 

I've worked in retail for most of my working life - apart from a couple of years working for the government (phew....the office politics....get me outta there!) - and I can tell you that as a customer, you get what you deserve.  Literally.

Now I like to think I give good customer service.  I smile.  I greet you when you enter my store.  I'll even ask how your day is.  And I'll mean it.  All I ask in return is that you smile back, respond politely and actually ANSWER me.  Not too hard, surely.

I've had my fair share of rude and nasty customers and what they don't understand is that you catch more flies with honey.  Eventually they will want something from me - to buy something, to have it wrapped, to have a nice bag to carry it in - how much of that they will get will depend on how nice they are to me from the outset.  Terrible of me?  More flies with honey....

Just the other day I had a nasty old woman (see how my perception has changed?  When she first entered the store, she was just a woman) come in to exchange a piece of clothing that she had bought on sale the day before but that she didn't try on to make sure it fitted.  So she came back in to get her money back cos she didn't like it.  But she wasn't nice about it.

She came in, I said hello and asked her how I could help her.

'I want my money back.  This dress isn't what I want.'  Ohhh-kay.  So we're going to be like that about it.

'I want my money back.  By law you have to give me my money back'.  Uh, no I don't. 

As per the LARGE SIGN on the counter (which she made a point of reading before even starting her tantrum), we don't offer refunds on items that are not faulty blah-blah-blah or because you change your per the Office of Fair Trading regulations blah-blah-blah. 

Thirty minutes this went on for.  Her telling me I was wrong and that she had worked in retail for 30 years and the customer was always right and I had to give her her money back, then me telling her no.  At one point I even pulled out the phone book and gave her the telephone number and address of the OFT for her to ring and confirm what I was saying was correct.  Bitchy, no?

Anyway, long story short.  She left.  With the dress.  And no refund.

What she didn't realise is that if she had have been nice when she came in and not been so intent on attacking me, the shop, the product, I most likely would have given her a store credit.

But I didn't.  Because she was a bitch about it.  And I had the power.

So the moral to the story, never forget that the person behind the counter has all the power.  It serves you well not to piss them off before you get what you want.

Likewise, don't call your hairdresser a bitch before he cuts your hair or tell your chef she can't cook before you get your meal. 

More fool you if you do.
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