Sunday, 31 July 2011

Home made always tastes better...

We hear that a lot.  Home made always tastes better than shop bought...  But do we really believe it?  Or do we think, deep down, that shop bought, because it's shop bought, has to be better?  I know that kids have a hard time accepting that something that's home made is actually superior to anything shop bought.

I think it's because we say it tastes better.  It doesn't necessarily taste better, but it certainly will taste different. 

For me, home made is always better, because I know what's gone into it.  How much sugar, butter, cream, eggs etc.  I know the eggs are home laid, from the girls out the side.  Most of the time whatever I make is cheaper, although if I factored in electricity and make time, it wouldn't be... 

So - why am I rambling on like this???  I know I'm sick, but no, I'm not running a fever (I think anyway).  Last weekend, my brother showed me how to make home made apple pie, and gosh it was good!  Pastry from scratch, pie apples (ok, it was all we had) and some spices & sugar.  55 minutes, from start of process through to taking the pie out of the oven.  And it was great!

Did it TASTE like the store bought ones?  Nope - it didn't.  I like their pastry better, but I'll also bet that the pastry we made was an awful lot better for our waistlines than the store bought pies. 

My brother, Mick, feverishly working on destroying my kitchen while Ken looks on in the background with a drink (onya!!) and the gorgeous Lorraine is cleaning as fast as Mick's messing...

He did make a mess, but the pie was good!

Here it is - sprinkled with some caster sugar, decorated with leaves & some cinnamon.  Mmmmmm...

High Top Apple Pie

1 cup self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
125 g of butter
Custard powder

Rub the butter into the flour untill it looks like sand.  Add milk to the flour until you have a dough that doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl.

Knead till smooth (< 5 minutes)

Combine 1 large and 1 small can of pie apples together in a bowl with sugar to taste and dried fruit (if you like it)

AND - here is the secret to the difference between a good pie and fantastic pie - add custard powder to thicken around the apple as it cooks

Roll out the pastry till thin, either put it into a deep pie dish, or onto an oven proof plate, fill with apple mix, cover with pastry. 

Make an egg wash (egg & dash of milk) and wash the top of the pastry. Sprinkle top of pastry with some caster sugar and cinnamon. Bake on 220 degrees for about 40 minutes. bake in a moderate oven untill its golden brown (aprox 45 min to 1 hr)
serve with thickened cream

Saturday, 30 July 2011


A couple of weekends ago, we went to the Gold Coast to celebrate Ken's Niece's 40th birthday, which was held at a hotel at Broadbeach.  We had such a fun time!!! 

It was most interesting to see who was there though - I'd even go so far as to use the term bloody amazing!!!  I won't go into too much detail, but let's leave it as one person's ex husband and new girlfriend turn up together...  How's about that!!!  I don't have a problem with someone having a new girlfriend, but to take them to a party where ex wife is going to be, when the split is actually quite new?  Bad taste in my view...  (there's more to it but I don't want to go into too much detail...)

Henrik came to me this morning asking where his long sleeved jumper was - the one he had worn when he came here to Australia.  I have a feeling it's gotten mixed up with other stuff down the coast.  Kids!  There were 6 of them staying the night, so it turned into a large slumber party for all the boys in the lounge/dining room.  When I got up on Sunday, I had to go and take a picture - check this out!!!

The beds.  None of them made, or even thinking about being made...

All on computers, phones or other electronic equipment. 
Note the piles of clothes in the back left hand corner of the room....
So - is it really any wonder that clothes are missing???  No, I don't think so either!

I've not been well the past week, and I came home from Melbourne on Thursday afternoon last week and drove immediately to the doctors.  I have a severely infected throat, and it has inflamed my whole face.  Antibiotics, panadol, asprin forte later, I felt much better, but it's not budging yet.  Grrr.... I've drank enough lemon & honey drinks to turn into a lemon!!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A minute's silence...

Norway  held a minute's silence yesterday at 12.00 noon for the slain victims of the terrorist attacks on Friday. 

Henrik, our Norwegian exchange student had three friends who were attending the youth camp, and if he hadn't been in Australia, he and his girlfriend would have also been there. 

Thankfully, all of his friends and family are safe and unhurt by the tragedy. 

12.00 noon Norwegian time was 8.00 pm in Queensland, so we lit three candles & had our own minutes' silence. 

There are times I truly don't understand mankind, and this is another example of it.

Friday, 22 July 2011

When life gives you lemons.....

Beware!  It may also give you a cold to go with it!!!

For years, I've wondered why people raved on about honey and lemon drinks.  Having never really tried one, I obviously didn't get it.  Even now, I'm not sure if I've even got the recipe right, but it tastes good, I'm on my third cup for the past few hours, and it does actually seem to relieve my sore throat....

So - for other non believers, give it a go... 

Honey (about 2 teaspoons)
Freshly squeezed Lemon (I love lemon, so I've been putting in about 2 tablespoons I guess)
Pour over boiling water & mix well

That's it.  I was tempted to put a shot of Irish Whiskey in it too but the sad thing about being sick is that I didn't have the energy to get up and go find it!!!

I have been given so many lemons lately by all our neighbours, who's trees are absolutely bursting with their fruit.  They are so much nicer than store bought lemons too - they are just FULL of juice - one lemon is worth two of the shop ones.  I have frozen a lot of their juice in ice cube trays, and then I popped them all together in a large ziplock bag & stuffed them into the deep freeze.  Hopefully I'll have enough for the whole year!!!

On other news, the oven blew up today.  I was chatting to my girlfriend Gai, who lives in Mt Isa.  I put the oven on to cook the vegetarian lasagne, and after about 3 minutes there was a loud POP and the whole thing stopped working.  :(

Ken came home from work, we had dinner, and then he got his tools out and went to work on it.  First he pulled out the element, thinking that was it.  Nope.  Then he unscrewed the light bulb cover & it was full of the exploded light bulb... AHA!!!  No, we don't have a new one - bugger.  BUT - the oven will work without it if you take it out, even though there'll be no light in it.  Better than no oven though!!!

ESPECIALLY with our Christmas in July dinner party on Saturday night with the Curry Nighters!!!

So far we have:
-  Mulled Wine
-  Devils on horseback
-  Mini Quiches (cheese & chive)
-  Roast stuffed leg of lamb
-  Roast Turkey
-  Baked Ham
-  Baked Veggies
-  Fresh bread rolls
-  Home made apple pie
-  Steamed plum pudding
-  Chocolate Coffee Truffles

Mmmm.... can't wait!  There's 11 of us, which is a really good number - two tables and I actually have that many chairs, plates & knives & forks!

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Grrrr.....  kittens!  Who'd have them.

As you know, I'm crocheting a dishcloth for the DTE dishcloth swap.  I already have a couple done, but I was trying a new pattern.  (I was almost going to write recipe!!!)

Last night I did another few rounds of the dishcloth - this one is different from the others because it's worked round, not across like all the others I've done. 

Anyway, I finished what I was doing, and popped it into the basket & sat it on my bed to do some more of when I got into bed last night, before I went to sleep.  I hopped into bed (I used the electric blanket for the first time last night - mmmmm!!!) and picked up the dishcloth and hook, and thought "gee, it's a bit light" and then I found it. 

Dishcloth  no longer attached to ball of cotton.  Nibbled off.  Chewed through. 


Now I have to join it, so I really don't want that one to be my gift - "here's your half chewed dishcloth".  Great. 

I don't even have a culprit, although I think it'd be Stripe as she was at the top end of the bed, and Spot was at the foot end of the bed.  But I don't know. 

Lesson:  don't leave yarn lying around where kittens might see it.....


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The world didn’t open up and swallow me!!!

So – this past week, I’ve been concentrating on putting and chucking stuff away.  Lots of stuff.... 

I have completed the spare bedroom – put all my craft things away etc.  I’m still not overly happy with how I have them organised, but it’s a lot better than it was, and at least you can now also move in that room!

I have put all the things away in the second China Cabinet.  It was fun putting things on the shelf and thinking about how they came to be in my life.  A whole shelf wound up being dubbed the “family” shelf – it has all the things that remind me of my family on it.  A setting from my late Grandma’s everyday dinner set, a couple of tiny little cups & saucers that were in her pantry, some glasses from the 1991 family reunion held in Ceduna... 

The booze got put back into a cabinet – and it’s ALL IN ONE PLACE now!!!  How good is that!!!

Last night I tackled the “to leave” pile.  It was really interesting.  I had become a little detached from the pile because it had been sitting on the table for nearly a month now.  I looked at it every day, several times a day – it was right “in my face”...  maybe that made it easier.  Anyway...  it wasn’t that hard.

I started at one end with butchers’ paper and simply started putting the stuff into boxes.  I took a couple of glasses that I got before I was married (1993) and wrapped them and put them in the bin – time for them to depart completely!!!  Everything else was boxed up.  About 6 boxes later, all with “to leave” written on them so that there’s absolutely no confusion. 

I was chatting to my gorgeous friend Miss Michelle later on last night and we were talking about how it hadn’t hurt, it hadn’t been that hard, and maybe it was even “cleansing” – you know, like “out with the old, in with the new” sort of stuff.  I think she’s right...  (have you still got the graduation glass there Miss Michelle or have you tossed too???!!!)

Surprisingly, the world didn’t end.  I wasn’t struck down by lightening.  The earth didn’t shake or swallow me up, and here I sit this morning, proof that I survived.   Cleansed. 

I don’t fathom why we feel the need to keep this stuff that has no meaning, had no good memories or just clutters up our lives.  I don’t get it.  I certainly do have the habit of keeping stuff like that, which is exactly what this whole journey is all about, but I still don’t get it. 

My strategy at the moment is bursts of 15 minutes, and JUST DO IT.  The tick principle – get on with it.

Big week this week – Auditors at work, and we’re planning for the Curry Nighters next function, Christmas in July which will be on Saturday night at our place.  It’s shaping up well so far, 11 or 12 people and lots of great food and wine to be had.  Can’t wait!!!

Is there something that you’ve been hanging onto that isn’t doing your life any good?  Maybe it’s a person or a habit...  Is it time for it to depart???

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Finally I feel like I might be getting somewhere!!!

It's been a busy old time the past few days!

Our Norwegian student, Henrik, arrived safe and well on Saturday.  Unfortunately his luggage didn't!  Everyone who came from Paris on the Etihad flight had no luggage.  No worries they say - it'll be here tomorrow...  So I rang Sunday afternoon - it was arriving in Brisbane that night but "we'll have it to you first thing tomorrow morning"...  Hmmmm - then it was promised at 7.00 pm.  It arrived at 8.00 pm.  Is there no wonder that people get frustrated with customer service?  If we had been told the truth in the first place, all would have been SO much better!

We went on Sunday to an outing with my work colleagues.  I wound up sitting in one of the trees for a photo - everyone was joking about how it would be if I, the Safety Manager, fell out of the tree... Gotta tell you - it was a bit scarey up there, but I survived!!! 

I'm in the yellow shirt...
Then last night I got stuck into the china cabinet in the formal dining room.  I emptied out the box that had what was left of those items, and put it all out on the dining table.  I then washed a few things and cleaned a few others, and put them away.  I have enough space now in that cabinet that I have been able to put some things that are in boxes on the bottom shelf, so they are off the top of the cupboard, which makes it look so much more streamlined!

I had a wonderful time with one shelf that is designated "family" - so my Grandmothers place setting from her everyday dinner set, a vase Uncle Jim & Nancy gave me, some other bits from Grandma's house etc...  It's become my favourite shelf!!!

I have to go back and revisit the spare room as my friend Belinda stayed on Saturday night, so I had to pack everything up so she could get into the bed.  I need to go and lay it all out and resort it and put it all away now.  That needs to be done soon, so that Chris & Lorraine can sleep in the bed on Saturday week!!!

So - just a quick post from me today.  All is well, but I am keeping very busy just putting away and tidying. 

Friday, 8 July 2011

On my mind... Convenience - what next!

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Most days I get an online catalogue sent to me from Peters of Kensington in Sydney.  I always look at them and have bought from them too from time to time when I need gifts, or some kitchenware etc.  I’m always interested in what products are available, what’s new, what’s not selling (you can identify them because they’re always really cheap!!!). 

Today a new product caught my eye.  A Soup Maker.  You can check it out here:
"Simply prepare your ingredients, pop them in the Soup Maker, choose from either a smooth or chucky consistency and then walk away letting the Soup Maker do its thing.

Like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, the Soup Maker will transform your ingredients from soup rags to soup riches. There’s a mixing blade attached to the lid and a one litre capacity in the jug. You can also choose to manually blend your soup to get it to exactly the right consistency you prefer.

So turn to the Soup Maker from Morphy Richards to make your soup dreams come true."

What is happening in the world where we need a soup maker?  What happened to a saucepan or a stock pot to make soup in, and then either a stick blender or a food processor to puree it?  Or have we come to a society now that wants convenience so badly that it’s willing to pay $150 for a soup maker? 

This magic machine will make one litre of soup at a time.  Yep – just enough for 3 people – never mind if you have 4!!!  (unless you like two mouthfuls and that’s it...)  Seriously though – does anyone even make such a small amount of soup at a time?  I always make a huge amount, and then freeze it in 500ml amounts for Ken or myself to take to work for lunch, or I get out two and have it for dinner as a meal with crusty bread...

**steps off soapbox**

My decluttering and organising is going well.  I tackled the spare bedroom the other night, which is where all my craft and sewing/crocheting things are.  Finally I had it all in the one place!!!

I tackled this job by sorting everything.  Sometimes you need to make a bigger mess to get to the end result.  I again put “like with like” – so I put all the zippers together, all the ribbons together (but not ribbons that you would tie a parcel up with – they go with the wrapping paper etc.), all the started but not finished projects together, all the kits and patterns together... I’m sure you get the idea.  I had them all spread out over the spare bed, and in the end I had quite a pile of empty bags, storage tubs and other containers that I had had things stuffed into.  At times it got a bit overwhelming and I was tempted to just leave things in their bag or box, but I kept up the attack and slowly but surely got closer to craft nirvana.  Let me say I’m not there yet at all, but it’s nice having it sorted!!!  Next will be storage so that I can easily access and use things!
It's a bit busy, but you can see I have crochet hooks with crochet hooks, ribbon with ribbon, cotton with cotton etc...

Tomorrow morning our Exchange Student from Norway will arrive.  I woke this morning and thought about him, winging his way toward Australia.  He is 16 years of age, and will arrive via the Youth for Understanding program.  He will stay with us for at least 5 months, maybe 10.  We're looking forward to welcoming him into our family!!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Booze, Potato & Leek Soup, Snakes & more...

Thank you for the comments on my last post on decluttering people from my life.  I think this is something that I need to think a bit further about, and in the meantime, I think I’ve decided to be happy with the status quo... 

The home clean up continues... gawd!  Worse than moving house!!!  My wonderful friend Michelle came to visit me on Saturday, she has recently had shoulder surgery following a work accident, so is “bored, bored, bored” as she puts it!  She very kindly put all the booze into the cabinet in the media room for me while I made a wonderful Leek & Potato soup...

Leek & Potato soup 

  • 2 bunches baby leeks, cleaned & chopped finely (white parts)
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled & chopped into small pieces
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 300ml cream, sour cream or plain greek yoghurt
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Chives to decorate

Lightly fry the onion in the oil.  Add the leeks, potatoes and garlic and stir for about 3 minutes.  Add the stock, simmer for approximately 30 minutes.  Either using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until it is smooth.  Add cream, season to taste.  Pop some chives on top, serve with crusty bread.

I googled several recipes and then promptly made up my own, but boy it tastes good!!!  I had it for dinner with another friend who came over on Saturday night as Ken had gone to work. 

Once Michelle had done the booze, and I’d done the soup, I decided that we could chat in the lounge room while I sorted my past years’ worth of paperwork.  I only do my filing once a year, although I think I will change how I do it slightly from this year on.  I'll put the tax stuff into a box folder as I get it - that'll save me sorting a lot of that at the end of the year. 

I sat on the floor and started sorting the paperwork.  Anything that I might conceivably need for tax went into the tax pile, and that included all the statements from the Real Estate etc.  All the bills that have been paid – phone, electricity, credit card etc., go into the “bills paid” pile.  Super into another pile, Leaseplan stuff into another etc.  Don’t have toooooo many piles!

Then, very technically, take out the “bills paid” that I filed last year and dump into a bag to be shredded.  File all the latest years’ worth of “bills paid” in that file...  I don’t chuck old papers like superannuation etc., I just file that into the file in cabinet.  I don’t sort into date order – I figure that IF I ever need to go back and look for something, it’s not going to be too much of a drama to look through a couple of inches of papers...  Sometime this week I’ll organise the shredding of my now rather full Bunnings green bag...  I like the Bunnings bag because they’re really large... 

Ken has been sorting and chucking too – it’s not often that the bin in the study is overflowing, but it is this week!  Such a wonderful feeling – even though technically I’m not supposed to feel good sending stuff to landfill...  But I do at the moment, because that means that lots of stuff exiting the house...  Exciting!

On Sunday morning, Ken and I went out to Muster to check on the tent.  THE ROAD IS OPEN!!! 
The re-built road, just beyond where the road closed sign was that I showed you a couple of weeks ago.  Massive work's been done here...

There were a few more people out there than last time, but not a huge number yet.  We checked on the tent, paid the ghost camping fee at the self registration booth.  Believe it or not we tried to pay it online, couldn’t do it because the road was closed (we’d gotten in through Kandanga...) and then we tried to ring up – the woman on the phone would only accept registration for 30 nights and wouldn’t believe us that we CAN pay for more than 30 nights each year just for Muster...  Bureaucracy!!!  Grrr!!!  So – we drove out and filled in the form, and will duly pay for 46 nights camping...  **sigh**

Anyway it was a good opportunity for Ken to see the site, so we had a walk around the site, and found a snake (very dead, and VERY smelly) on the back of the roped off area.  We think it was a Red Bellied Black – but all I know is that it was very smelly!  Ken thought that it should be slightly bigger, to take in the trees at the back, so he’ll head out to the site again this morning and make it bigger (and get rid of said smelly snake...)

Ewww... smelly.  Goodness only knows how it got there!

Ken deciding exactly how much extra space we're going to need...  he's good at stuff like this!  Note in the background there's not many tents yet.

The guy across the road builds a compound like nothing you’ve ever seen.  I’ll take pictures as we go along and you can see – this is what he’s starting with...
Doesn't look like much yet, but just wait and see what develops!!!
Stay tuned for the next exciting Muster installment!

Friday, 1 July 2011

On my mind - decluttering people from my life...


Boy, this is a sensitive one!  How on earth do you decide that you need to let some people go from your life, whether it be because you've simply grown apart, no longer have the same interests, or whatever... 

Yeah, it's hard.

I've done it consciously before, and surprisingly once I actually did it, it was a weight lifted off my shoulder.  The person I'm talking about had grown increasingly negative, had found a partner who was a liar and a fraudster, and generally never left me with a "feel good" experience any more, despite us having been very very good friends for 23+ years...

In the end, it was really silly stuff that tipped it over the edge...  silly.  A funeral that only "certain" people were allowed to attend (and a friend who was shouted at because they wanted to dare bring someone not on the "list"), a eulogy delivered by someone who hadn't seen the person for 5 years, other people in tears who hadn't seen the dead guy for about 4 years, a minister who had trouble talking about him because he had two names....  fraud, fraud, fraud... just like the life.

I was sad because this fraudster had sucked my friend in.  Wholly and solely...  and yeah, I guess love can do that to you, but I had a lot of trouble working it out and coming to terms with it.  In the end, it did my head in and the funeral was the end.  That was 2007...

I've had contact with family members of this person since, and they are all just lovely.  I have kind of had a bit of contact with this person themselves - they sent me a birthday card, which I responded to with a birthday card for theirs.  I got an e-mail asking if they and their mother could visit (8 months early) because they were going on a holiday near where we live.  I have been civil but I haven't been overly friendly and I have struggled with this a bit too.

I've struggled because I don't know if I want this person back in my life.  Yes, we knew each other for a long time, but maybe the time came for our friendship to end.  They haven't made any attempt to be any more friendly with me, and that's fine with me for the time being.

I almost decluttered another friend from my life once...  I stopped calling her.  We didn't speak for about 3 or 4 years, then out of the blue I got an e-mail (broadcast type) that her dad was really ill and she was going to help her mum look after him.  I can't remember how I heard that he had passed away, but when I got that news I think I called her...  I think.  I can't remember actually. 

Anyway, I called and we were talking and she said "I know things haven't been good between us" and my reply was that they hadn't actually changed for me.  I was still the same person, still there for her, still her friend - all that had happened was I had stopped calling.  I had gotten tired of only being the one that picked up the phone and made the effort (we live a long distance apart) and the end result was the long period of time between our discussions...

We're still friends by the way!!!  We talk regularly, although lately it had gone back to being a bit one sided, and she hadn't replied to a few messages I'd left... so just this week I made the decision not to call again, but obviously the call I had put into her partner a couple of days earlier asking what on earth was going on, and that I was "very p*ssed off" not to have had even the courtesy of a text telling me she was ok but just didn't want to talk to anyone worked, as she rang me the next day...

We'll see what happens next on that one.

I guess this latest situation has me thinking about the top situation and whether I want to extend the olive branch or let it be.  It's a tough one.  We were good friends once, but I just wonder if that time has now passed.

Does anyone have any advice on things I can think about when I make this decision???  (or don't make a decision, which in effect is making a decision)