Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Goals

Unusually, for me, I have given a lot of thought to my resolutions this year.  I have decided not to set resolutions as such but set up to 11 goals each month; it being 2011 and all.  Some goals will take considerable organisation, effort and development of new skills; others are quite straightforward.  A lot of the focus is on making projects I have wanted to do for a long time a priority.

So for January:
1.  Walk for 1 hour a day
2.  Read my E.M. Forster Omnibus - comprising Where Angels Fear to Tread, A Room with a View, Howard's End, A Passage to India.
3.  Make all the bread products we eat during the month.
4.  Do tax paperwork (Have been putting this off!) and make appointment with Accountant
5.  Practice Petite Valse (Paul Juon) on the piano until I am profficient.
6.  Paint toe nails once a week (treating myself right!)
7.  Watch It's a Wonderful Life
Self Development
8. Learn a poem.
9.  Finish Ginger's dress and sew my knee quilt
10.  Finish Ginger's Simple Pink Jumper
11. Finish Scrapbooking Ginger's pictures to end June 2010

Now that's done, I am off to watch the Edinburgh Military Tattoo!

Happy New Year All!

Post Christmas Days

So much reading has been going on here.  DH has been absorbed in Nicholas Monserrat's The Cruel Sea, and Ginger has been positively devouring (in a literal sense) her board books.

Books Ginger pulled off the shelf.
5 minutes later different books off the shelf
For my part I have been tearing through my stash of Christmas books.  It has become a post-Christmas tradition for me to spend the lead up to the new year wallowing in Alexander McCall Smith's latest offerings. 

Such a gentle way to see out the old year.  Only The Double Comfort Safari Club to go and then another 12 month wait to spend time with his characters again.

I have also been digging into my other Christmas gifts, two of Annabel Langbein's cookbooks - The Free Range Cook and Eat Fresh: Cooking Through the Seasons.  I loved watching The Free Range Cook on ABC; set in beautiful New Zealand.  Good thing DH pays attention to these little (subtle?) hints!  So many meals from these books are featuring on my new year's menu plan.  Lucky they are all about fresh, unprocessed ingredients, as according to DH 2011 is the year of looking after his body!

On next fortnight's menu:
  • Lamb, Rosemary and Apple Sausage Rolls
  • Green Bean and Peanut Noodles
  • Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart
  • Baked Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken
  • Chicken and Mint Salad rolls
  • Couscous with Beetroot and Almonds
  • Silverbeet, Feta and Pinenut Roll
Yum Yum!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ginger's New Doll

Ginger’s custom doll from Little Jenny Wren arrived in the lead up to Christmas.
A present from her Gran.
The doll
is just beautiful. 

Ginger thought so too.

Her shoe is worthy of further inspection!

Now living on a  high shelf until her best friend learns not to eat her. 
And, perhaps, thinks of a name!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Retromummy Competition

Retromummy is hosting a competition with a lovely prize.

Do check it out!

Ginger Makes Her Stand

Well, since I last posted a {This Moment} photo Ginger’s development has taken off. 

In the space of 4 weeks she did her first rolling (7 months), crawling (7 ½ months) and pulling up (8 months). 

Her pulling up has progressed rapidly to the stage where she can crab walk along and between furniture.  No coffee cup is safe and, oh, the poor dogs!

Here she is last week. It is actually cold enough in our corner of Queensland for her to need all those clothes, despite it being the middle of Summer!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas and its immediate aftermath

Well, Christmas has come and gone - and I never got on here to blog in the leadup to it.  The leftover roast pork is gradually being eaten up, as is the pudding and remaining Christmas baking.  Had a lovely Christmas day with just the three of us.  Up early as Ginger rose at her usual 5am.  Awestruck by her presents!  Played with the wrapping paper rather than the toys but has spent the last two days giving them a thorough working over.

Ginger heads for the pile of presents (I hasten to add not all intended for her).
All for me!
Made it to church and then DH baked a lovely roast and made his final pudding and brandy custard preparations.  Lunched at 12 and the roast pork (free range, don’t you know) was a definite hit with Ginger! 
DH also did potatoes a la Jamie Oliver’s Christmas with butter, Clementine juice (in our case orange) and sage.  Yummy. 
Pudding was a success – despite it not being his Grandma’s official recipe.  We asked her for her recipe as we had so enjoyed a pudding she made a couple of years ago when we spent Christmas in England, she posted us one and the pudding was made; only for her then to tell us that she didn’t follow any particular recipe in making her puddings.

Pudding with garden variety Holly  – homegrown cherry tomatoes and rosemary
Grandma's Christmas Pudding
(makes a huge quantity – we made a third of this amount )
225g raisins
225g currants
225g  sultanas
200g mixed peel
225 shredded suet (we used copha )
500 demera or muscova sugar (we used brown sugar)
225 fresh bread crumbs
75g  plain flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
40 blanched chopped almonds
1 carrot grated
1 cooking apple, grated
2 lemons, grate the rind and squeeze the juice
3 eggs, whisk with the brandy
150 mls brandy
knob of butter

Add all to a large bowl.
Mix very, very well and leave to stand for a while.
Butter the pudding basin and line the base with paper.
Tip in mixture top with disc of paper and pleat foil to cover the top, tie on.
Cook in the top of a steamer or on a trivet for 5 hours.
Check regularly to make sure it doesn’t boil dry
Store for a month.
Cook for a further 2 hours before eating !!!

Wintery weather made it perfect for a hot midday meal.  The rest of the day, boxing day and today have been occupied with reading (Christmas loot), knitting, planning for the year ahead, playing with toys, bread baking, general pottering and watching the rain streaming down our window!   A delicious way to conclude the year. 


Sunday, October 3, 2010

St Francis and the Rascal Dogs

Tomorrow is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, so our church had a service today where you could bring your pets for a blessing.

My husband told me not to take our dogs.  My mother told me not to take our dogs.  They had a point, our dogs are rather anti-social beings.  Right up until last night I was not going to take the dogs.

But this morning, I decided I couldn't let the dogs go unblessed.  So, I took our dogs AND Ginger by myself. 
Monty (white) and Abby (tan)
It is raining and foggy here, so by the time we reached the church door both dogs were covered in red mud.  Abby was actually much better behaved than usual.  She was quite the sweetie and very lady like as we made our way to the front of the church - we always run late.  Incidentally, have you noticed the walk of shame all latecomers are subjected to, the only seats left are always at the front of the church. 

But Monty, oh my, he barked and huffed through everything.  Fortunately one of the other parishners took Ginger for me as I had my hands full with Monty.  I held him in a death grip for the entire service.  One, to keep the mud off my clothing (semi-successful) and two, to stop him attacking every other dog in sight.  He rather has a Napoleon complex.

As soon as the service ended we were out of there.  No coffee and cake for us today.  Everyone I passed told me how brave I was to bring both the dogs and baby by myself.  I don't know if brave is the word I would use.  More like crazy.  But, the dogs did get their blessing, as did the sleeping Ginger and as for me, I missed out on Communion!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seven Little Australians

I have been watching the excellent TV adaptation of the Australian childrens' classic Seven Little Australians.

The series was filmed in 1973, but the new DVD release has been remastered by the National Archives of Australia.  I got my copy from the library.  There are 10 episodes in all.

The Woolcot Family

I remember reading the novel, by Ethel Turner, as a young child.  How I cried when Judy dies saving the General!  It is one of those novel moments I will never forget.  Seven Little Australians obviously dates from the era when children's stories didn't have to have a happy ending.  It was written in 1894.

Please don't send Judy away!

I post-date the original release of the series but I don't think it has dated at all.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

And, yes, I cried in the final episode!

You can see some snippets from the series here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

{This Moment} - Ginger Sits

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
Soule Mama

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mum's Quilt

I have been trying to come up with homemade birthday ideas for some important people in my life.  My Mum has been asking for a quilt for a couple of years and I finally got around to making her one.  Admittedly, she actually has the first one I made but only because she salvaged it when she learned I was going to put it in the dogs' bed.  It was my first sewing attempt and it shows:)

It really came down to the line on this quilt; I got it finished before Mum's actual birthday but having to post it across the country means it was a little late.  I think it should have arrived today so I am probably safe to post pictures here.

I learn so much each time I make a quilt.  On this one I learnt that a walking foot is really essential - I have bought one now!  For those of you that are as ignorant as I, without a walking foot the bottom layer of fabric will feed through your sewing machine faster than the batting and quilt top.  This causes the fabric to bunch up.

Now all I need to do is work out how to bind a quilt properly.  I might be following the instructions in an old Better Home and Gardens article, but something is definitely not right as all my binding ends up on the back of my quilts.  Any hints would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Silverbeet or Swiss Chard 4 Ways.

Our silverbeet plants are profuse producers.  In recent weeks we have been making an effort to actually use what they produce, as so often before the leaves have wilted on the plants!

1.  Replace the bechemal sauce in your favourite lasagne recipe with a mix of ricotta cheese and cooked, processed silverbeet.  I wash my silverbeet, roughly chop it and then sensor cook it in the microwave.  Once it has cooled a bit I process it to a fine dice in the food processor.

2.  Use it in a canneloni filling.  Just mix ricotta, some grated parmesan and some processed silverbeet and stuff into your tubes.  Cover with a tomato passata (we used homemade) or favourite pasta sauce, put a little cheese on top and bake for 1 hour in a 180 degree oven.

3.  Make Rhonda's Silverbeet and Ricotta pie!  Recipe here.  We used a shortcrust pastry rather than the filo because we had a legacy box of pastry mix from a former house sitter.  If you want to go this method, just blindbake the crust for 1/2 hour than follow Rhonda's instructions.

4.  Make Jamie Oliver's Spinach and Lemon Linguine.  Just replace the baby spinach leaves with silverbeet.

Recipe is from Jamie Magazine Yearbook 2009/10

400g linguine
6tbsp olive oil
50g fresh breadcrumbs (we used Panko)
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large red chilli (optional), chopped
600g baby spinach leaves, washed
grated parmesan to serve

Boil a pan of salted water, add the linquine and cook according to packet instructions.  Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the breadcrumbs for a couple of minutes until golden.  Transfer to kitchen paper to drain, then mix with the lemon zest and set aside. 

Heat the remaining oil in the pan, add the garlic and chilli and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until the garlic egins to turn golden.  Add the spinach and cook until it had wilted, seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste.

When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving a little of the cooking water, and add to the pan with the spinach.  Stir in the lemon juice, adding a little of the reserved cooking water to loosen as necessary.  Lastly, sprinkle over the breadcrumb and lemon zest mixture, then serve, with parmesan, if desired.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home At Last

"November 12th - Home yesterday and am struck, as so often before, by immense accumulation of domestic disasters that always awaits one after any absence" - Provincial Lady by EM Delafield

The provincial lady certainly knew what she was talking about. I am finally home after a much longer absence than originally envisaged. We had 6 weeks in the UK taking Ginger to meet her grandparents and great-grandparents. Then upon return we learnt that DH would have an extended absence, so I hot footed it to the West Coast with Ginger to spend 5 weeks with my parents and grandmother. It was nice to be spoiled!

But, what domestic disasters awaited us when we got home! Mice had moved in and attacked our store cupboard - fortunately it only cost us one bag of flour. But, the droppings were everywhere and they had even nested in our foot stool - so that needs recovering now. And our dog sitter had allowed the dogs on the bed. With the red clay we have here for soil that meant red dog footprints all over the flannellette sheets, the cotton blanket, quilt cover and pillow cases. Fortunately many hours of scrubbing by yours truly and the wonderful Spring sunshine of last week has restored them to their former whiteness.

So, the last week has been spent gradually restoring order to our nest. I still have a pile of filing to tackle and deep spring cleaning to do; but undoubtedly that will happen in due course. I intend to make the most of our lovely spring weather - while it lasts - to get lots of washing done (so many cloth nappies gone through each day!) and let Ginger have plenty of tummy time in the speckled shade. She seems to be able to do more time on her tummy if she only has a nappy and singlet on. She certainly needs her tummy time - the determined little critter will not roll over by herself. At 5 months she has only rolled tummy to back once!

Monday, May 31, 2010

A New Mum's lifesavers

While not yet ready to be dispensing sage advice like a seasoned mother, 2 months of being a mum seems an appropriate juncture to identify my current baby sanity savers!

If you are traditional cloth nappying......the snappi-nappy. It replaces the nappy pin and is so easy to apply. About, $5 at Coles.

If your baby insists on being held....all the time....the ergo baby carrier. It leaves your hands free to get on with some of the necessities of life. Mommy Coddle brought them to my attention. And they are brilliant. I can highly recommend the Australian stockists Babes in Arms. They got it to me overnight, and we are out in the country. If you purchase the insert for it you can use it with a newborn. Baby girl always looks so snug cocooned in it and settles almost immediatly.

If, like baby girl, your baby wants to sit up and see everything....the Mother's Choice BabyCino bouncer. Target has these marked down at the moment.

And, if you want to get smiles out of your baby....a $1.50 bottle of bubble blowing formula.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Comfortable Saturday

I love the title of latest novel in Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series The Comfort of Saturdays. Saturday around here was very comfortable indeed.

I had my first sleep-in since baby girl arrived, albeit with two rises to cater to her ladyships demands for food.

Having discovered a nice local bakery last weekend, DH went out and got fresh croissants.

I actually got a hot cup of tea...even if it was very rushed because madam wanted to be fed yet again. I am advised this must be the 6 week growth spurt!

Fortunately we had lots of lovely spreads in the house. Mmmm, passionfruit butter!

And, DH even picked up The Weekend Australian too so we had quality reading material to peruse for the rest of the day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Time for Centering

This early morning was a time for centering.

Time to take a break from the ever-present nappy buckets and washing pile.
Time to enjoy the crisp Autumn weather.
Time to hit the dirt track for a walk with baby girl and the dogs.

Time to take in the breath-taking scenery of the distant ranges.

Time to spot a kangaroo or two off in the distance.

Time to enjoy the butterflies dancing over the track.

(It is that yellow splotch in the middle of the picture!)

And now refreshed, perhaps, time to sneak a cup of tea before baby girl wakes again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's Cooking: Cabizza

We are trying to stretch the dollar a bit around here at the moment and have been trying out some budget friendly meals. I thought I would share those we enjoy on this blog.

Fotunately, I have Nanna's cavernous recipe folder to find some inspiration for these sort of meals. It does seem that older style menus were much friendlier to the wallet with the focus on simple, fresh ingredients. We tried Cabizza last night and it was a hit. The recipe says it serves 6 to 8, but I assume that is as a side as this quantity merely served my husband and I as a main meal. But, my husband was hungry!

CABIZZA (originally from the Sunday Times)

1/2 medium cabbage (shredded)
2 tspn vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 cup plain flour
2 medium tomatoes (finely sliced)
6 spring onions (finely sliced)
2 slices ham (chopped)
3/4 cup grated low fat cheese

Brush the base of a large saucepan or frypan with the oil. Cook cabbage and garlic until just tender. Cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs and flour. Press evenly over base of lightly greased 30cm pizza pan or shallow dish. Bake at 210C for 10 minutes. Place tomatoes evenly over cabbage base. Sprinkle with onions, ham then cheese. Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes until cabizza is browned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What Ya Readin' - Singled Out

I have been dipping in and out of Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson for some time. The time lapse was not because I wasn't enjoying the book but because I had a very short late pregnancy concentration span!

I was holding my place in the book with my Persephone High Wages bookmark (which came out with the last biannual). I didn't realise the irony of this until I read Simon's post on High Wages. It turns out to have been a most appropriate choice!

Obviously, as the title indicates, one of the saddest aspects of the first world war highlighted in the book is the number of women who either lost their lover / fiancee / husband in the war and never found anyone else to fill the gap left in their affections, or those who never found a lover at all. Which is worse, I guess, comes down to whether you hold to "love and lose" as preferable to never having loved. The stark reality, though, was that for those women of age during the war and those that came of age at the war's end there simply were not enough men left to go around. The issue was even more pertinent for middle and upper class women as, relatively, the officer class ( with whom they were likely to find their mate) suffered much higher casualty rates than their men. Nicholson gives the reason as the officer's leading the men into battle, as well as the simple fact that many working class men were not healthy enough to join up in the first place. I remember my high school teacher commenting on the irony of this not being healthy enough to go and die!

Singled Out has the tagline "How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War". But, I don't think the word 'survived' goes far enough to explain what some of these women did. Yes, some did just survive on low wages and without the fulfillment of their dream to marry and have children, but others embraced the freedom their inability to marry gave them and went on to establish thriving careers and enjoyable home lives.

Nicholson highlights the change in perception of unmarried women from "surplus women" to valued contributors to society. On page 323

Not being married allowed....[women] .... to play to their formidable strengths. They were pioneers. Single women like this changed the world they lived in. And there were so many of them: scientists, teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers, artists and explorers. The vivissitudes of life - ridicule, prejudice, disappointment - had not subdued this parade of indominatble ladies. A thread of determined ambition ran through them. They would fly, they would discover, they would build, educate, help, cure, protest, transform.

Singled Out tells the story of many of them - both famous and forgotten. My favourite story was that of Gertrude Maclean who set up the Universal Aunts business for " capable ladies with all the auntly virtues: good health, time to spare, maturity and a can-do attitude" (p. 299).

Singled Out makes revealing reading and I think would be enjoyed by anyone who reads literature of the 1920s and 1930s. After all, many of the women who wrote then - including Richmal Cromptom and Elizabeth Goudge - had been 'singled out'.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easter Decorating

This is the final Easter post for this year - I promise. I do like decorating a bit for each of the holidays/seasons. I think my time at college in the US gave me the bug. I just loved the Easter flags that everyone had hanging of their letterboxes and the fact that the whole town seemed to be at church on Easter Sunday. If we ever get a US posting I am having an Easter Flag!

I think Australia has become a lot more secularised and Easter here is celebrated mostly as just a commercial holiday. Church attendance is certainly up on Easter Sunday, but not dramatically.

Anyhow, I decorated a nook in our dining area in the Easter Spirit. I was very disappointed not to be able to put up the decorated eggs we bought in Austria a few years ago, but they are delicate and this room attracts a fairly strong through breeze.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Cooking: Easter Egg Nest Cake

As you may have guessed from my last post, our Easter plans went a little awry with the early arrival of baby girl. My husband's biggest gripe was that we had already planned the menu and bought the foods for the Easter weekend! Anyway, none deterred we decided to have our Easter feast subsequent to getting home from the hospital.

One of the recipes we had planned to make was the Easter Cake from the Nigella Lawson Feast Cookbook. You can find the recipe online here. A chocolate overload, but oh so good!

First.... open the two bars of chocolate necessary for the cake and topping. I love the gold wrapper contrasting with the rich, dark chocolate. I always have aWilly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory moment when I see that - you know the scene when they sing "I have the golden ticket".

Then chop the chocolate. Or, if you have just had a cesaerean haul in your husband to do the heavy work of chopping.

Bake and smother with chocolate cream. Note: I would probably halve the amount next time from what is called for in the recipe as this is a very rich cake. Then pile on the candy chocolate eggs. And, enjoy. Utterly divine!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome to the World Baby Girl!

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.
1 Samuel 1:27

Well, we can't believe we have had baby girl with us for just over two weeks. She was not the delivery from the Easter Bunny we were expecting but was the very best we could have asked for!

After just 2 weeks, it feels like we have never been without her. It also feels like I have never had a full nights sleep:) DH finishes his paternity leave in the middle of next week and I can't believe I will be wholly and solely responsible for her during the day. We are still feeling our way forward with tentative toes, learning as we go and it has been a joint effort attending to her thus far.

It truly is possible for there to be love at first sight because I have loved baby girl from the moment I saw her. And, there is that feeling of fierce protection because I want to protect her from everything that could ever hurt her, always. Baby girl, at two weeks old, I love:
  • the way your downy hair feels under my chin when I nurse you.
  • that you sometimes grip my finger with your hand while you feed.
  • the little smile of contentment you give when you wake up and find that you are being held.
  • your perfectly formed finger and toes - I can't believe your big toe is the same size as my pinky fingernail.
  • observing you watch the light bounce off the wall.
  • the little squeaks and squeals you make while you are sleeping.
  • watching you enjoy your bath, bouncing off the sides just like we saw you doing in the 12 week scan.
  • the little owl like expression you give when you are being burped.
  • watching your little cheeks and arms and legs getting chubbier.
  • the way you open just one eye to check out the world while you are dozing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Ya Readin Junior: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

As we continue to be lashed by wind and rain, and surrounded by fog here in south-east Queensland......five days and counting..... the dogs and my existence has taken on a cabin-feverish aspect. I have only been out for food and community commitments. And, the dogs are desperate for a walk....but I am not braving the driving rain. We even had to debate whether we could make it to church on Sunday the fog was so thick. We did in the end, but after one aborted early attempt.

Fortunately today something to break the monotony of the days- a parcel arrived from my mother-in-law in the UK. Mostly, it contained the makings for baby girl's nursery curtains but there was also the most delightful book. I just have to rave about it in case anyone else has a baby they are buying for!

Well known Australian author Mem Fox has teamed up with UK Illustrator Helen Oxenbury in '10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes". The words are gloriously simple, but the sentiment is beautiful. There is lots of repetition of words - so perfect for young listeners. The Penguin Books Australian website has a sample of the illustrations. I hadn't heard of the book before but it turns out it was on the New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks.

The premise is every child around the world has, " as everyone knows" , "10 little fingers and 10 little toes"; and your own special child also has "3 little kisses on the tip of their nose". Too lovely.

Here is Mem Fox singing it!....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Away with the Fairies


We have had so much rain in Toowoomba in the last couple of days. It has been causing all sorts of flooding issues; both in our storage areas which are soaked and on the roads, many of which are dirt! I believe 87 mm fell at Toowoomba airport on Monday night, which is a record rainfall for the area for many years.

This morning I wandered outside into the mist and rain (which is ever continuing) and I discovered a toadstool. Not an exciting red and and white one like that pictured but a toadstool nonetheless. It got me thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a young child to share stories about the fairies that live under the toadstools with.

When I was little my Mum used write letters to me from Fairy Twinkle Toes and Fairy Almond Blossum. We recently rediscovered a box of the letters when I was back home visiting. Mum's efforts created a very real world for me and I was a very enthusiastic letter writer back to the fairies. What a wonderful gift of imagination it was. I hope I can do the same for our little girl one day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Calender Cards

I had a calender lying about which I had been unable to get rid of because I loved the pictures. It was an old Kew Gardens one Mum had passed on to me. Then on Angry Chicken's blog I saw instructions on how to make cards out of an old calender. So that's just what I did. 5 sheets of pictures (because that is all I had saved) made 10 cards.

It was a quick and easy project; less than 1/2 an hour's work start to finish and very little mess. My two criterias for undertaking any project! Though, as I say that, the kitchen table is covered in cut fabric and has been for the last two days:) I haven't wanted to disturb my arrangement of patchwork squares so we have been eating around it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's Cooking: Lemon and Coconut Slice

Last year when my Nanna moved into a nursing home one of the things I inherited was her collection of recipes. I made this Lemon and Coconut slice the other week and my husband gobbled it down. One of the advantages is that it is no bake; ideal on those hot summer days. And, for us, it mainly uses ingredients we have on standby. It seems to keep for about a week in the fridge - if it lasts that long!

Lemon and Coconut Slice

250g packet Milk Arrowroot biscuits (crushed)
1 cup coconut
grated rind of 1 lemon
125g butter
1/2 cup condensed milk
For the icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar (sifted)
15g butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp hot water
extra coconut

Combine biscuit crumbs, coconut and lemon rind in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan, add condensed milk and stir over low heat until combined. Pour butter/milk mixture over crumbs and mix well. Press firmly into a foil lined 18cm by 28cm lamington tin. Refrigerate.

To prepare icing, combine all ingredients, except extra coconut, and beat until smooth. Spread over chilled base. Sprinkle with coconut. Lift out of tin using foil as a handle and cut into squares to serve. This makes about 24.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Country Life

We have now been living the country life for 2 weeks. It has been quite an adjustment - a new state and very different way of life. We are living about half an hour outside the regional centre of Toowoomba. Our location doesn't even have any mobile telephone coverage and we get the country television stations; no digital signal in this part of the country!

We are told that the Darling Downs is in severe drought, with the dams having less than 10 per cent capacity. However, it has done little but rain and storm since we arrived. And, this is the middle of summer! Many mornings we have awoken to thick fog covering the range. It sometimes takes until 10-11 am to clear. We drove to church last Sunday with visibility of about 2 metres. Slightly nerve-racking when you are turning across a major regional highway. The picture below is the view from off our patio - you might be able to tell there are not many houses around us.

For me the move means not just adapting to the quieter country life but also commencing some time staying home. It is 8 weeks until our baby is due. Having always worked or studied I am finding this aspect of our new life the most challenging as I find ways to fill my days. This came as quite a shock because when I was at work I could always think of ten thousand things I would prefer to be doing at home!

We might have an hour round trip into Toowoomba to do shopping but there are certain advantages to where we are living. We have discovered the local YMCA markets, which are full of fruit grown locally in the granite belt- this being an established fruit growing area.

This week we are indulging in plums - three types from three different growers. The small ones are sugar plums, the large red amber jewels and a large black variety which I can't identify!

The figs currently available are also delicious - like fresh honey. They just melt in you mouth.

The bird life making its way into our garden is also fantastic. Though we are not overly appreciative of the 5:30 am wake up call from the birds using our washing line as their night resting spot!

These Kookuburra's were on our back fence when I got up to make the breakfasts this morning. They had another friend but it flew off when I opened the back door to take the pictures. They seem to live in one of the trees over the fence.

The other afternoon we had a visit from some form of parrot. Only the male was brave enough to make it onto our outdoor table. His female friend was off in a neighbouring tree! You can't really tell from this picture as we didn't want to spook him by getting too close, but his breast was bright orange!