Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wanted: stove, working condition

And it was shaping up to be such a fantastic loaf.....

The other week I was at the library, returning the books that had somehow slipped my attention and were now overdue and looking for new ones to replace them, when I came across the River Cottage's third book on bread.  Of course, having read good things about it on other blogs, I immediately put that little gem in my bag before it anyone else could snaffle it.  I'm like that in the library - furtive and incredibly swift in my selections!

Anyway, back to the story at hand.....I have since had two attempts at creating a masterpiece of yeast and flour (truly, santa brought me a breadmaker last year - I'm lazy!) inspired by Daniel Stevens' passion and while the first was a dismal failure (think tasty but very dense floury brick), the second was shaping up to be something truly amazing!

I had loved and attended this dough like nothing ever before.  And it responded with gusto.  I even took it to the shop with me because I worked the afternoon and I didn't want it to rise too much without me there to punch it down (delicately, because I love it sooo very much!) and because the shop was heated and home wasn't -see how much thought I had put into it!

It was such a beautiful loaf too, rising so deliciously at the end there in its tin placed so strategically on the floor in front of the fire (the warmest part of the house), close but not too close....

And that's when it all went pear shaped.

I should have expected it, really.

It was going so well until then.


So, you know how my hotplates have died a sad and horrible death?  Well, add to that now the oven.

Black smoke and a horrid electrical smell coming from the back of the oven that had only minutes before finished baking the most perfect pizzas ever (that's right, ever - so said the LOML and we all know that he never exaggerates!!!) greeted the LOML as he went into the kitchen to answer his phone.

On the one hand, I'm so very glad that he did go in (who knows what could have happened if he hadn't - our house is built from 60 year old hardwood timber - a tinderbox if ever there was one!) but on the other hand......why now, of all times?  Why could this not have happened two weeks ago?  Or even the night before, long before I had invested all my love and attention into my wonderful loaf...!

RIP Westinghouse Macquarie.  You've served well and will be sorely missed.

So I now have a stove that is purely cosmetic and serves only as an additional benchtop in my kitchen.  No cooking to be had, just for looks this sucker.  Dated, early nineties looks to boot.  Not good for any kitchen.

I am distraught.  Totally distraught.

I don't know why and I don't know how but my days of baking are at an end - temporarily I hope because there is only so much a person can do with a two burner camping stove fueled by an 8.5kg gas bottle on the bench.  Of course, now that I have no oven, all I want to do is bake stuff.  Cakes, biscuits, name it.  Of course.  That was always going to happen.

And I won't even go on about how I smashed one of my best baking dishes the night before - one that has been with me since I first moved away from home.  It's not the sentimental side that got me, it's that it was a great shape and I got it cheap.  And  now I have to go and get a new one and pay too much for it.  

I think I'll just have another red wine....

* on a side note, I managed to save (barely) the loaf by manhandling it and manually proofing and baking it in the breadmaker.  Not for long enough the proofing it turns out, but at least the end result was edible.  Sad, so very sad.

God help me if the electricals in this house ever give up the ghost (touch wood - always a very real possibility in a house of this vintage.....).  It'll be BBQs by candlelight all round.....I think I'll just book into a (five star) hotel until it's all better.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I went into the world today....

....and this is what I saw....
 Busy bees.....
 ....on the shallot and broccoli flowers.
 More little potatoes sticking their heads up through the mulch...
Broad beans and garlic thriving nicely....
 Some nosy girls...
 Daisies sunning themselves in the glorious winter sunshine...
 Jasmine flowers telling me that spring is not that far away now....
The camelia tree doing its thing....
 and mandarines by the treeful....
 A bunch of bananas hanging in through the frosty mornings...
Lavender flowers poking their heads out above the chicken fence...
 My first attempts at growing cauliflowers waiting to be picked for dinner...
 as are the peas....
.....and another busy bee hard at work pollinating the broad beans.

Days like this remind me what a wonderful world my own backyard is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monster Spud

Yesterday being such a glorious day I just had to head outside and enjoy the sunshine.

While I was out in the garden pulling out the weeds that seem close to taking over, I found some potatoes that were good to go.

I LOVE homegrown potatoes!

Check out these monsters!  
That big one weighs 1.2kg - what on earth can a person do with that much potato in one hit?!?!  The smaller (!) ones at the left back are about 500g and the little ones at the front are normal size.  That's a whole lot of potato right there!  

I'm thinking a big batch of gnocchi is in order.  Or mashed potato for the next 3 nights!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Moving (in) day

What a day!

I am exhausted.  Physically tired, mentally done in, ready for a hot hot shower before slipping between warm flannelette sheets to smother myself with doonas and blankets in an attempt to keep all the muscles that haven't been used in the longest time from hurting too much tomorrow.

What have I been doing, you ask?

Helping my mum move house.

Into our house.

Into our spare bedrooms.

Yes, my mum now lives with the LOML and I.

Nothing to get freaked about - my mum and I get on great, as do the LOML and my mum (many a night they have continued chatting and telling stories long after I'd given up and gone to bed).

In an attempt to save money and get ahead, both on mum's part and ours, mum has moved from her rental house (which, truth be told, was actually only down the road - same street, unintentional from the start) into our two spare rooms.  

Those spare rooms have spent the last 2-3 months separated from the rest of the house by a marvellous hanging artistic creation that doubles as a insulating curtain (read: spare blankets delicately hanging from nails in the wall and held precariously together with an artistic arrangement of pegs).  Nice.

So no longer is half our house empty.  Well, unused - those rooms certainly weren't empty.  They held a surprising amount of 'stuff' that has now had to be absorbed as unobtrusively as possible into the rest of the house - a difficult task in itself.  I always knew this house in its original, mid-1900s condition had no storage (c'mon people, a cupboard!  Just one cupboard please!) but not as much as I now know!  And I don't have that much 'stuff' anymore - despite what 'one-shirt, one-pair of shoes, photos are unnessecary' LOML says.  In my ten years with him I have decreased my hoard significantly to a point where any less than what I have and I run the risk of being offered vouchers by charity!

And now it is the end of a very big day and the house feels warmer than it has since we moved in and mum is happy and relaxed and the weekend is shaping up to be a goodie.

Here's cheers!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Practical Mathematics







Bad Hair


It is very cold today.  

This photo was snapped inside.  I rug up even more when I venture outside the (relative) warmth of these walls.  That hasn't happened very often today.

Did you know it is quite a challenge to type whilst wearing woollen gloves?  Given the time this has taken including typo corrections, it would have been more efficient for me to just remove the gloves and risk frostbite and then quickly warm up my frozen fingers by the wood stove.  Oh well.

Monday, July 18, 2011

There's a bear in there....

and a chair as well....
there are people with games......
and stories to tell.
Open wide, come inside,
it's Playschool!

That's Benita in the back row holding Little Ted and John in the front row holding Humpty.  I love you all!!!
I read in the paper the other day that Playschool turns 45 this year.  45!  How amazing is that!  Could the ABC even begin to count the number of kids who grew up (and are still growing up!) with Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty Dumpty, Jemima and the owl and the pussycat, and looking through arch windows (always my choice), and learning the time via the rocket clock (oh how I looked forward to the rocket clock)?  I seriously doubt it!

I grew up in the time of Benita and John H.  My favourites.  Even now the sounds of their voices brings a smile to my face and a warm fuzzy feeling to my heart!

Cars made from cardboard boxes, stretched out arms becoming plane wings, pillows and blankets making tents......goes to show that all the fancy pants toys in the world can't beat those age old heroes of a cardboard roll, cellophane and some pipe cleaners to entertain kids for 30 minutes every weekday afternoon!

Happy birthday Playschool!  Thanks for the memories!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This cough can just bugger off anytime soon

So I'm still getting over my head-cold-thing that hit me about four weeks ago.  

I'd started to recover after about 8 days - enough to get through (slowly) a 3km walk on the treadmill without collapsing from lack of oxygen - but then it came back.  Not as bad as first time around,  for which I am eternally grateful, but back it still came.  Sore throat, lethargy, blocked sinuses.....oh the joy.

And now it's four weeks after the first recovery and I have been left with a cough that starts as a tickle on my tonsils and then progresses to an all-out struggle for breath cough fest.  Combine that with a general struggle for breath the rest of the time that Ventolin can't seem to ease and I'm about ready to scream (though that would bring on a coughing fit so maybe I won't). 

I probably shouldn't go on about how much I'm over it.  In the biggest way imaginable.  It is winter after all and there are so many cooties being passed around by the ferals that cough and sneeze in public without covering their mouths (not to mention the lack of handwashing in toilets - DON"T GET ME STARTED!!!!) I'm surprised I'm not reading about a record number of hospitalisations.  

I've reached the point where I'm at a loss as to what more I can do to shake it.  Any more Vitamin C and echinacea and I think I'll turn into an orange flower.  Lemon juice shooters before breakfast take some getting used to but like anything, do it long enough and it becomes habit.

Sleep has been broken into 2 hourly stints at night - being woken from a deep slumber by a dry cough is so not fun.  It's been so regular that the LOML is now sleeping through it.  That's scary.

I must admit to self medicating with a glass of red wine with dinner each night.  My theory is that it relaxes my cough reflex.  Whatever I reckon!

I'm looking forward to being well again.  

Any day now would be lovely thanks.

In other news it seems that there will be an absolute gaggle of babies making their way into the world by the end of this year.  So many people I know are preggers (not me!).  The latest - my good friend Posh Tosh - will be welcoming a new addition to her not-long-married coupledom in December.  Happy news all round!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Extreme Knitting

I have a sore hand.

A sore hand caused by knitting for too long into the night yesterday.   

Clearly I'm holding my hand/arm funny or not moving it enough while I'm in action.  

The LOML tells me it's a result of extreme knitting - when needles go wild!

What a nutter!  And I'm married to him!

I'm sure it's just because I'm using muscles I haven't used for a long time and it's taking a bit of getting used to.  It'll ease up soon I'm sure.  Nowhere near as an exciting explanation as his I know but the truth rarely is!

In the meantime, I'll tell everyone it's an injury resulting from extreme knitting and let them form images in their minds of me knitting while swinging off from a craggy outcrop on the side of a mountain!  Adds to the mystery.....!

Hardcore knitting right here in my lounge room most nights of the week!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A timely reminder

Do you have a Will drawn up?  A legal document outlining how you want your earthly possessions to be shared and split among the people you love (or don't love)?  Is it current? Or does it have your ex listed as the sole beneficiary despite you now being remarried with four kids?
The reason I ask is that my dad died suddenly and very unexpectedly last year and, while his Will is current (having been re-done when he remarried in 2009), it is in the process of being contested (not by me).  

This upsets me a lot.  A whole lot of reasons abound but first and foremost I see that dad's Will outlines his wishes to ensure his widow is supported and looked after following his death.  I respect that and totally agree.  Of course, having two previous wives with children (who may or may not believe they are entitled to a cut) adds a whole new potentially  (nothing potential about it - it's real) combustive element to the mix, but dad's Will outlines his wishes and I respect that.  I have a strong support for the strength of a Will in our legal system, particularly a Will made by a person who was fit and healthy and focused on his new future and who had no reason to think his Will would ever be needed anytime in the near future.  I also like to believe that my Will will be upheld as I am upholding his.

I also firmly believe that should the claim against his estate be successful, karma will be enacted.  And Karma can be a mean bitch whose bad side I don't want to get on.

Likewise you don't get to cross my dad and get away with it - you couldn't do it when he was alive and I doubt you'd be able to get away with it now.

Good luck to you if you think you can.

So, if you haven't done it already, ring your solicitor now and get your Will drawn up.  If you have a Will, make sure it is current - update it if you need to.  But most importantly, don't wait - you may not get a second chance.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anakin & Oliver

Here's another 'This time last year....' post - though it's actually been a bit longer than a year but you get the idea!

So last year the LOML and I packed our bags and headed out of the country with a one way ticket and two nights accommodation booked.  We started in Malaysia before heading to Thailand and then Lebanon before coming home (earlier than we planned but I got a good dose of homesickness and just wanted to sleep in my own bed.  Of course, after two nights home I wanted to go back!!).

We spent most of our time in Thailand and had the absolute best time in the world.  So much so that we are planning to go back again next year on our way to Lebanon.  While there we may also check out apartments again because moving there to live for a while is not an unviable option.....

But anyway, that's a whole other story!

While we were in the north of Thailand, enjoying the food (yuuuuummmmmm!) and seeing the sights, we went to Tiger Kingdom.  It was a beautiful place, all green and tropical with plenty of hidey-holes behind rocks and under bambooo clumps for tigers to lay and watch the world go by, and big splashy pools for them to cool down during the hot, humid days.

One of the touristy things to do was to have your photo taken with the tigers.  Not just any old photo - no, you could enter the tigers cage, it's very own personal space, and sit behind/beside/on top of the massive 160-200kg beasts of the wild to have your photo taken.

So that's what we did.

After we signed the little bit of paper saying we take all responsibility if, perchance, the tigers take a disliking to us and decide to eat us a little or play with us like a mouse.  Nice.  Nothing like being reminded of your potential, imminent death after you've paid your money.
They started us off with the little ones - baby tigers about 3 months old.  They were cute.  We were there mid-morning and it was nap-time so they were all sleepy and dozy.
3 month old kitties

You'd think a tiger's fur would be similar to a cats wouldn't you?  Soft and clean and nice to stroke.  That's what I was expecting.  It's not though.  It's all tough and wiry and a whole lot oily.  

After the babies, we then ventured up to the stars of the days show - Anakin Skywalker and Oliver.  This was the sign that greeted us.  Not very confidence inspiring.....
Nice to meet you.  Yum Yum.    EEEEEKKKKKK!!!
But we went in anyway.  I love that the LOML pushed me to go first with the patting and posing.  He stood behind both of the handlers and took photos from afar.  My brave hero.
At this stage I was in flight/ fright mode - I was tensed and ready to run....
'Just lie on him - he likes it', Yeah, just before he likes to eat me.  See my stretched out leg - that's to support me so that I can RUN if I need to!
'Pick up his tail. Feel how heavy it is'.  Yeah, heavy enough to hold me down while he eats me!  I had relaxed a little by this stage - especially cos he was distracted with the sugarcane branch!
'Rub his belly, he likes it.'  Yeah, then he'll eat me!  I don't need to tell you how much I freaked out when he lifted his leg onto me - FREEAKKKEEEDDD!
Eventually I made the LOML get in for a shot too though he did keep more than a respectable distance from the tiger and reeeeaaaaacchhed in to touch it!  Meanwhile I'm still sitting up close and personal!  The busload of Japanese tourists that arrived as I was lying on the tiger were very appreciative of my bravery with their oohs and aaahs and madly snapping cameras.  

All up it was a great morning at the tiger park.  I have a whole heap of amazing photos (they are very photogenic these kitties) and best of all I have no tiger love bites to show for my troubles!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chocolate Port Liqueur

OMG.  It is entirely possible that this is my favourite alcoholic beverage EVER.  That's right, EVER.

Chocolate.  And Liqueur.  Chocolate.  Liqueur.  Two of the very best ingredients in the history of best ingredients combined to make a spectacular combination that should be available in every bottleshop across the land but unfortunately I am yet to find it anywhere but Vincenzo's.  [sad face]

I am in love.  Totally, deeply, madly in love.

I have been in love since the very first (tasting sample size) sip at the Big Apple in Stanthorpe a couple of years ago when my socks were knocked off and I felt quite tipsy all of a sudden (from one small sample glass!!!).  I continue to fall deeper in love with every too-soon-gone mouthful.

Lucky for me our good friends Mr & Mrs H live not far from the Big Apple and regularly pick me up a bottle (or two) when they visit.  Or we pick up a bottle (or two) when we visit.  

A shame for me that visits don't happen as often as I polish off a bottle!!

Though the fact that this (700ml) bottle has lasted me all of 7 days - perhaps it is for the best that our visits are spaced out!!!

I don't need an intervention, truly I don't !!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

This time last year.....

....the LOML and I were in Lebanon.  Up north in the hills discovering his family he never knew he had.

It was a fantastic, emotional, absolutely outstanding trip of a lifetime.  Never long enough but when is it ever.  We will be back there next year for an extended stay.

But anyway, that is not the point of this story, merely setting the scene.....

So there we were, staying in a hotel perched on the side of a mountainous drop, with views across the mountainous drop to the mountain on the other side.  It was magnificent and though we were there about 7 days, at no point did my eyes adjust to the vista - I kept getting all dizzy and confused by the sheer scale of what I was looking at (no exaggeration!).
By this time the LOML and I had been out of Australia for just over a month and had no idea of what day it was let alone the date.  So on this night last year, after a full day of socialising and meeting new people and eating and drinking and making merry, we clambered exhausted into our hotel bed for another night of deep, dreamless sleep.  As I recall there was no moon out that night making it especially dark in our room when combined with the marvellous block-out curtains common to every hotel across the world.

All was going well, as it had every other night - hot shower followed by kicking back on the bed watching hotel TV (I loooove hotel TV!) before finally calling it a night and turning off the lights.  I reckon I lasted a whole 2 minutes before I was dead asleep.  As it should be.

Until about 2 hours later.  

Have you ever been woken suddenly from a deep, deep sleep?  You know that horrible, shocked feeling where you don't know where you are or what you woke you but you know that whatever it is, it's bad and you need to run, right now to save your life.....?

Well imagine if what woke you was the sound of missiles being launched from the roof of your hotel.  

Oh my god the noise.  Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  One after another after another.  

I don't need to describe how much I shit myself.  I remember sitting bolt upright in bed before crawling along the floor (feeling my way around furniture and bags) to the windows to peer out from behind the curtains to see who was attacking us.

Okay so it turned out it wasn't a missile launch but I swear to god I thought we were under attack.  It was midnight, it was absolutely pitch black in the room (I think the power may have even been out - a daily occurrence in Lebanon depending on the time of day so there was not even the light from the alarm clock) and there was a missile attack going on right outside our room.

It felt like it went on forever.  Forever.  It was more like 20 minutes but it was the longest, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping 20 minutes of my life.

After much shushed whispering between the LOML and I as we tried to come to grips with what was happening and how we were going to make our escape (oh my god where are my shoes!!!) we came to the eventual realisation that it was the 4th of July and what we thought were missiles were actually fireworks being launched to celebrate America's Independence Day.  

Good on you hotel.  Thanks for telling us.

So Happy Independence Day America.  This year I hope not to be woken at midnight by a missile attack.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Presents from small people

My beautiful little 4 year old nephew came over for dinner last night, along with his sister, mother and father.

When they got here, the kids ran riot around the backyard as they usually do, kicking soccer balls and picking strawberries, while mum and dad lugged assorted bags filled with jumpers, nibbles and champagne ('Friday' is reason enough around these parts!) up the stairs.

After a while, a little man came to me with his arms behind his back,  'Close your eyes and hold out your hands.'

This is what my present was....
Nothing beats daisies in a jar on the window sill.  Especially daisies picked especially for me :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...