Friday, January 28, 2011

{This Moment}

{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.

Inspired by Soule Mama

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day to my fellow Australians. 

We took advantage of the public holiday to get some jobs done around the house.  DH stripped and re-varnished our outdoor furniture, we sorted through tools and hardware items inherited from my Granddad (only took us 15 months to get around to it) and I baked and baked and baked. 

First, was molasses cookies using this recipe.

Then, a yummy boiled fruit cake.  A hit in our family and neither of us are big fruit cake fans.

Easy Boiled Fruit Cake

500g (1lb) mixed fruit
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
250g (8oz) butter
1 tbs golden syrup
1 tbs coconut
2 tsp cocoa
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp instant coffee powder
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour

Combine mixed fruit, sugar, water, butter, golden syrup, coconut, cocoa, soda, mixed spice and coffee in saucepan.  Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then brint to boil, boil 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; cool completely.  Stir in beaten eggs and sifted flours, mix thoroughly.  Spread evenly into greased and paper lined, deep 20cm (8in) square tin.  Bake in slow oven 1 1/2 hours or until cooked when tested.  Cool slightly in tin before turning out.

I'm not sure the exact origin of this recipe - but it was passed down by my Nanna.  Presumably it came from a women's magazine some years ago - it did win Mrs K Renfrey of Auckland a $10 first prize!

And finally, a couple of loaves of bread.  I tried out a new recipe that didn't seem to rise so well.  Still tasty but  a little squat.

Fortunately Ginger was entertained at the back door watching DH doing his work, and then conveniently took a long nap so I could work unhindered.  It is all cut up and frozen for DH's future morning teas and weekend breakfasts.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The week before the great Queensland flood of 2011 hit, it was my birthday.  Events intervened and I never ended up posting about it.   DH took the day off work and we went for a picnic (between rain showers).  He made a lovely rhubarb crumble cake from The Free Range Cook which we discovered, after having taken the time to allow it to cool, is actually nicest hot.  We used yummy homegrown rhubarb.

DH forgot to get wrapping paper so used the Weekend Australian instead!

From left: books from my parents and DH, a knitting stitch kit from my best friend, body wash and electric vaporisor from DH.  Custard tart is from DH too and the only actual surprise as I picked all his other presents for him.

Doesn't that rhubarb look like candy.

Mmm, cake.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Australian Reading....

I was asked by deapatriaeamicis for some Australian literature recommendations.  I have mulled over it for the weekend, discussed it with my husband and have come up with the following list.  Some are by Australians about Australia, while others are by Australians but about life in other countries.  Though some were written for children I think they are universally considered classics.  Most of the authors have written other books, I have just listed ones I have read.

Here they are in no particular order:

I can jump puddles by Alan Marshall
The Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele (he wrote many others including Storm Boy and February Dragon)
The poetry of Banjo Patterson - my favourite is Mulga Bill's Bicycle (also Waltzing Matilda and The Man from Snowy River)
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
The Power of One by Bryce Courtney
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Cloudstreet by Tim Winton (From my home town of Perth!)  Still recall the final line of the book which I learnt for my tertiary entrance exam "I sink into the sun, the moon, the stars of who I really am.  Being Fish Lamb.  Perfectly.  Always.  Everyplace. Me."
People of the Book, and March by Geraldine Brooks
The Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce
The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
My Place by Sally Morgan
My Brother Jack by George Johnston
And, a personal (modern) favourite is Coronation Talkies by Susan Kurosawa

Friday, January 21, 2011

{This Moment} - Ginger with balloon

Inspired by SouleMama

{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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Cup of Tea Anyone

Not related to the title but a couple of great posts I have read in recent days:

A Home Blessing on Taking Time

On cleaning tools on Like Mother, Like Daughter

A poem on Beauty that Moves

Back to the title now....I have been reading Paul Lonergan's Little Book of Thrift.  He has something interesting to say regarding tea (p. 36)..........

The main difference between loose teas and bagged teas is the size ofthe leaves.  The bigger the leaf, the better chance the essential oils and flavours have of coming out.  Tea needs lots of room to expand and swirl in order to get the best flavours out of the leaf, so by definition, a loose tea is superior.  Typical budget tea bags are filled with the tiniest pieces of broken leaves, called fannings.

I far prefer loose leaf tea, and though it only works out marginally cheaper than pre-bagged tea, I think the flavour and fun of going to a tea shop and picking my tea makes it worthwhile.

Cup of tea, anyone?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yoghurt Making

One of the small changes I have made this year (well, really in December of last year) is to make our own yoghurt.  I picked up a yoghurt maker at Aldi in the middle of last year for $15 (I am still bitter that it dropped to $9 when on clearance - but you win some, lose some) with the intention of making yoghurt but wasn't keen on using the pre-mixed sachets as I like to know what is in my food!

A bit of research yielded Which Name?'s recipe.  Which, I like a lot.  This is my fourth batch and three have been a success. We won't talk about the fourth - as I still don't know what went wrong.

The process for me is simplified because of my yoghurt maker which means once the yoghurt starter has been stirred in I just transfer the liquid to the yoghurt maker and let it do its thing.  I do have to refill the boiling water after 12 hours and give the process another 12 hours to get my desired consistency.So planning in advance is essential - do not wait until the yoghurt pot is empty to make your next batch; or people have a tendency to eat your starter yoghurt in the meantime:)

I figure this change is saving us money and a lot of packaging! Besides, homemade yoghurt is so yummy in the morning with homemade granola - though that is a post for another day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sewing Dresses

I have got a little bit of sewing done lately.  It is slow going though as no sooner do I start the sewing machine than Ginger stirs from her nap or night sleep - this despite the fact I have moved the sewing machine to the furthest corner of the house from her bedroom.  And, trying to sew while she is awake - let's just say that pedal holds a powerful attraction for a 9 and 1/2 month old.

What has been finished is two little dresses following a pattern by Oliver and S that appeared in Sew Hip a couple of years ago.  These are size 2, so won't fit Ginger for quite some time yet, but she truly has enough clothing to be going on with in the next couple of sizes anyway.

They sewed up in a couple of hours - and I am a slow, relatively inexperienced sewer. 

With some of great-Nanna's lace stash

With red jumbo ric-rac

Monday, January 17, 2011

Flood induced food shortages have lead to a bit of impromptu meal planning here. 

Saturday's dinner was so simple but delicious.

Inspired by Jamie's Dinners (thats Jamie Oliver's Dinners - the cook book) it is a baked sweet potato stuffed with bocconcini and home grown basil, topped with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil.  Yummo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sometimes we just know

Sometimes we just know that God touches our life.

Sometimes we just know that we have a guardian angel watching over us.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone      Psalm 91:11-12

We live just north of Toowoomba.  Anything other than a basic grocery shop requires a trip to Toowoomba.

On Monday afternoon a wall of water 7m high swept through Toowoomba wreaking devastation and causing deaths.

On Monday morning Ginger and I were in town running errands for an hour while we waited for our dogs to be clipped.  We stopped at a cafe for a coffee and baby cino.  The cafe is gone.  We stopped for petrol.  The footage shows the wall of water rushing past the petrol station.  We drove along Ruthven street.  There were piles of cars swept along that street by the raging torent.

The thing is - that appointment was originally for Monday afternoon.  At 2pm.  When the wall of water hit.

I changed it.  Because I didn't want it to interfere with Ginger's afternoon nap. 

So many other times I have left inconvenient appointments as they were.

Why did I change this one?  I'm in no doubt it was God's work. 

We do have a mighty God.  A God who is mighty to save.

All Monday night I lay in bed thinking of the 'what ifs'?  What if I hadn't changed that appontment?  What if we had been on Margaret Street, or Ruthven Street as we were earlier in the day?  How would I have got Ginger out of the car  (she still faces backwards)?  What would I have done in those moments of panic? 

All I can do is say thanks that my little family is safe.  Blessing. 

That our close friends are safe.  Blessing. 

That our home is safe and relatively dry.  Blessing.

That God will heal those that grieve for those that have lost their lives.  Grace.

That God will comfort those that have lost everything.  Grace.

That this whole experience makes me more aware of the preciousness of everything I have.  My Faith....My Husband.....My Daughter....My Parents.....My Life. 

Our time on earth is finite.  Events like Monday remind us of that.  So its up to us to seize the day and make the most of it.  Suddenly those things we have put off, put on the back burner become more critical. 

I have plans to make, things to repriorise but most of all I have a baby daughter to hug and hug and hug.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those in Toowoomba, Murphey's Creek, the Lockyer Valley and now Brisbane.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Books Read 2010

Well, I am a little late on this one....I suppose I should have put up a summary of what I read in 2010 on the first of January.  My reading was rather down on previous years in 2010 due to the arrival of Ginger and the fact that I no longer have almost 2 hours on the train a day.  Though, when I come to think of it, my reading was quite down in 2009 due to morning sickness associated with Ginger which ruled out any sort of reading on said trains!

Anyway, my reading for 2010 consisted of:....

The Comfort of Saturdays - Alexander McCall Smith
The Lost Art of Gratitude - Alexander McCall Smith
The Snack Thief - Andrea Camilleri
Mrs Tim of the Regiment - D.E. Stevenson
Forbidden Fruit - Kerry Greenwood
The Private Patient - PD James
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
Jigs and Reels - Joanne Harris
The Four Seasons of Marriage - Gary Chapman
The Terracota Dog - Andrea Camilleri
Heavenly Dates and other Flirtations - Alexander McCall Smith
Corduroy Mansions - Alexander McCall Smith
The Willow Cabin - Pamela Frankau
Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House - MC Beaton
Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance - MC Beaton
Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell - MC Beaton
The Turtle - Doreen Wallace
Single Out - Virginia Nicholson
Friends in High Places - Donna Leon
A Trick of the Light - David Ashton
Miss Hargreaves - Frank Baker
Dying to Tell - Robert Goddard
Echoes of War - William Reviere
Death in Holy Orders - PD James
At Some Disputed Barricade - Anne Perry
High Wages - Dorothy Whipple
The Men and the Girls - Joanna Trollope
A Taste for Death - PD James
Bone Deep - Darian North
Love on a Branch Line - John Hadfield
Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon - MC Beaton
The Runaway - Elizabeth Anna Heart
The Camomile Lawn - Mary Wesley
Henrietta's War - Joyce Dennys
Onions in the Stew - Betty MacDonald
The Optimistic Child - Martin Seligman
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg
Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came - MC Beaton
The Good Wife - Elizabeth Buchan
My Child Won't Eat - Carlos Gonzales
Bella Tuscany - Frances Mayes
Burning Bright - Tracy Chevalier
Rounding the Mark - Andrea Camilleri
White Gardenia - Belinda Alexander
Something Wholesale - Eric Newby
You are Your Child's First Teacher - Rahima Baldwin Dancy
Catch Me a Colobus - Gerald Durrel
Toad of Toad Hall - AA Milne
Cry, The Beloved Country - Alan Paton
Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate - MC Beaton
Kate and Emma - Monica Dickens
Resistance - Agnes Humbert
The Paper Moon - Andrea Camilleri
All Our Wordly Goods - Irene Nemirovsky
Victorian London - Liza Picard
Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary - Ruby Ferguson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The Charming Quirks of Others - Alexander McCall Smith
The Dog Who Came in From the Cold - Alexander McCall Smith
The Importance of Being Seven - Alexander McCall Smith

And countless picture and board books - imagine the list if I included them!

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Small Change - January 2011

I have decided to join Hip Mountain Mama's One Small Change challenge.  The challenge is to make one small lifestyle change each month towards a more environmentally concious lifestyle.  Turns out living a greener lifestyle is also a more affordable one!

My change for January is to take shorter showers.  We have put our Queensland Government issued 4 minute egg timer in the shower and are sticking to that time limit.  We have also decided to hold each other accountable if a shower seems to be taking longer than it should! We have been guilty in the past of ignoring our friendly egg timer.

The trick seems to be to get in the shower and do everything you need to do (takes about 1:30) and then stand and enjoy your last couple of minutes. We have also found having breakfast before our shower cuts out shower time because we are no longer using it to wake ourselves up.

I'll progress in one month.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Local Wildlife

Living in the country we get plenty of visits from local wildlife - spectacular coloured parrots and pink and grey galahs (my personal favourite) are often in our backyard.

But, our constant and noisy neighbours are the local green frogs.  We have several living between the bricks in our house.  One has taken up residence in our bedroom wall and croaks all night long.  Poor thing must be looking for a mate. Nonetheless, I think if I wasn't so tired from Ginger's nightwaking that I could sleep through anything, I would be seriously starting to object by now! 

Anyway with the flooding rains here in Queensland over the last few weeks they have come out of their hideyholes.  DH attempted a relocation of our bedroom frog.  Unfortunately, judging by the racket last night, it seems he found his way home again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

9 months

Today marks 9 months of having Ginger in our lives!  I can't believe how much she has grown and changed over that time.

At 9 months:
  • She is 7.55 kilograms and 70 cm long.  That puts her at the 15th percentile for weight and 50th percentile for height.  Pretty much where she has tracked all her life.  I think her percentile for weight would be a bit higher on the breastfed chart, the Child Health Nurse thought around the 25th percentile.
  • She is wearing a mixture of 3-6 month and 6-9 month clothing; gradually transitioning to the latter.
  • She is crawling everywhere and is into everything.  Pulling books off shelves is a favourite pastime, as is going for the rubbish bin and the dogs water bowl.  She is driving the dogs up the wall by chasing them all day.
  • She can pull her self up and coast along the furniture.
  • She has 6 teeth.
  • She is not sleeping well.  We still have several wake-ups a night, and rise for the day at 4:30-5am!  Sometimes she will have an hour to 2 hour nap in the day.  Other times she ready to keep rolling on (even if Mummy is ready to fall over).
  • She is doing much better with solids than at 8 months.  Her favourites are apples, apricots, peaches, cucumber,crackers and roast meat.  But all of the above - ONLY IF SHE CAN FEED HERSELF!
  • She likes to share everything - one bite/suck for her, one for you or the dogs.
  • She loves music and bounces along when I sing or play the piano for her (nice to have an appreciative audience).  Music also works wonders as a calmer - if she is grisly in the car, the instant her music goes on she is quiet.
She is such fun!  I couldn't imagine my life without her.