Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas is coming.

What a wonderful weekend we had here at Bellavista. We worked through the heat on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to complete the final structure of the Great Wall. Now its just a case of back filling and preparing the beds for planting. With the heat that we have had of late I am in no rush to plant but the next few weeks will be spent preparing the soil. No photos as yet. Its too dark and wet right now.

Yes, that's right....wet !!!!! It has been sooooo long since we have seen rain up here but the last three days have brought afternoon storms with accompanying rain. Only about 7 or 8 ml each time but at least I don't have to water and I am sure that the plants thrive better on rain than on any watering that I do.

Sunday and Monday, the winds that preceded the storms brought with them swarms of flying bugs. Huge beetle like insects. I was not quick enough to get out the camera but I doubt whether any photo that I took would have done them justice. On Sunday night, after the storm had passed, the Gorgeous Boy and I had to go out and remove a fallen branch from the electric fence and found the branches coated with the bugs....all making merry! I guess after surviving the strong winds and heavy rain, procreation was the next thing on their minds.... you never know if you will survive the next storm!!!!!! ;-)

Today, I began my preparations for Christmas. Since I moved to Australia over thirty years ago, I have never enjoyed Christmas in the way that I used to in England. My mind still cannot adjust to a hot Christmas. I yearn for crisp cold weather....where fairy lights sparkle in the night sky and you rug up to venture out Xmas shopping. Hot spiced wine with mince pies......oh, I could go on forever. Its just not the same. My Darling Husband is truly one of the best. One year he humoured me and lit a log fire in the fire place of our old house....while the airconditioner belted out cold air. Bless your heart Sweetheart ....it just wasn't quite the same.

The fact that Christmas has become so commercial and is being pushed down our throats by the shopping centres and the media from October onwards is also such a turn off. The spirit has gone.

For more years than I can remember I have switched off to Christmas....trying to ignore it until the last possible moment and then rushing around at the last moment to make it up to my family. The Christmas decorations were never put up until just a few days before the day, cards to family and friends barely got sent out before December 20th. Bah humbug. The lions Club always helped me out with their ever reliable Christmas cake. Yes...every year I promised I would make my own but would inevitably put it off until it was too late. Then Christmas day would arrive.......the feeling of love for all...peace on earth, would come to me. But crickey....forcing those roast Turkey dinners down were hard work while the sweat dripped off me. (I don't do...hot...very well!!!!)

Well.......I have done some serious thinking this year. Maybe, just maybe, I have been going about it all wrong. So..........

Its December 1st and my Christmas tree is up and decorated. I will go out this week and gather bits and pieces to make some table decorations. I have my Christmas cards ready (many purchased years ago and they never made it out the boxes!) and over the next week I will write out our family news letter and send Christmas greetings to all our friends and loved ones. I think I may even have some nice Christmas music to play to get me in the mood. I may even start doing some Christmas cooking. Mmmmm.

and......look what I have found today. I began this quilt over five years ago while I was living in Malaysia. It was a mystery quilt put that I together with the quilting group that I belonged to. Most of the hard work is done. All it needs now is to be machine quilted (if I attempt to hand quilt it....it could take another five years!!!!) and then I will bind it.

YES....its beginning to feel at lot like Christmas :-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A moment to reflect.

Its been a busy couple of months. I can't believe how fast it has flown. A time full of family and friends, a time of ill health, jobs completed, some still to finish. It has been hectic to say the least but now it is time to slip back into a comfortable routine. Even the dog is exhausted with it all :-) He is laying under the desk as I take the time to catch up on all my favourite blogs. It feels as if I have been catching up with family news as I read back posts of my favourite blogs and see what everyone else has been up to. One common thread is that everyone else has also been busy with "life" and not as regular with writing so I don't feel altogether slack.

Mama completed her five weeks of teaching prac. and achieved excellent results. Well done darling....you worked hard for it. While she was teaching The Princess and I came down with the most awful virus with hacking coughs and no energy. Three weeks later I still cannot seem to shake of the exhaustion. As an asthmatic we were very worried about The Princess but with plenty of rest she was lucky to avoid another trip to hospital. Into the second week of being unwell, Mama and the gorgeous Boy also succumbed to the virus. I am not sure what our neighbours were thinking but the sounds coming from our house must have been awful. Still.....it is a thing of the past and we are all on the road to recovery.

During the past couple of months we were fortunate to have plenty of visitors to the Farm. Nods and Cherry and Lauren came to visit ( luckily before we became sick) dr K, Richie and his Mum came up for a weekend. My girlfriend of forty seven years came over from France and stayed for a week.

Gilli and I met when I started senior school and we have been friends ever since. She has been one of the family, to me, my brother and my parents. The sister I never had. She is a true and loyal friend. Months can go by and I hear nothing from her......years go by and I don't get to see her and then our paths cross and it is as if we were together yesterday. Mind you I think I kinda blotted my copy book this time LOL. I drove down to meet her at the airport......I hadn't seen her for around five years. As she got off the plane and walked towards me I was taken back with her resemblance to her late mother. The first words out of my mouth (and sometimes I have NO control of my mouth....it just works of its own accord ;-) )were "my God you look just like your Mum" Now I guess that isn't what every girl wants to hear and actually it wasn't quite true. She still looks like Gilli but it was that hint of something that I was not expecting. You know that as the years pass we will all age and change a little. When you see people regularly, you don't get to notice the change but it is still there. Your subconscious expects them to look as they did last time you saw them. It is that split second when your mind adjusts to the change. As I said ....my brain and my mouth are not always in sync.

It has been a wonderful week catching up with all that has happened to her and her extended family over the past five years. I have enjoyed the time so much....each day was as if I had seen her every day of my life and as I dropped her off at the airport to continue her trip down south there was no sadness, just the knowledge that when we next get together it will be as if she had climbed back into my car.......we will continue our trip through life !

While she was here, Gemini and the Great Dane also came to stay for the weekend. They have returned from their "round the world" cruise and I was keen to hear their news. With so many tales to tell I think we barely scratched the surface. I am sure there will be many more wonderful memories that we will get to hear about.

I am down in the city at the moment. Killing a little time while the Gorgeous Boy is at a business meeting. As soon as he returns.....around 7.30pm we will put Tiggy in the car and head up to the farm. We can't wait until the morning....we just want to go home. To wake up to the birds singing. No sounds of traffic and civilisation. Time to slow down again and smell the roses.

No photos today......just reflections. Tomorrow is a new day and I am looking forward to working towards finishing the "Great wall of bellavista"......thats one job that has been going on far too long....sigh

Still I gotta say........... "Life is good" :-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am back !

Its been a while since I have found the time to sit down and post. Some days I think that I just don't have the time to write anything.......always have plenty to say though ;-) Today I decided that it is better to be brief than not to write at all.

One of the reasons for being so tardy of late is that I am playing Mum/Nanna full time at the moment. Mama is busy doing her final prac for her post graduate teaching degree and I have offered to take over the reigns of her house to give her the freedom to "give it her all"! Five weeks commitment....two down and three to go.

This means that I am spending all week down in the city. The Princess comes over to our little Granny flat when she awakes in the morning and joins us for breakfast/showers etc and we head off to school. Then back home to clean both homes and work on the gardens until 2.30pm when its time to pick up the little one.......afternoon tea/ homework/ trips to the park...you know the story. Then dinner to fix for us all....showers and bedtime stories.

I am desperately missing my time up at the farm so on Wednesdays after I have drop her off at school I head up here to check on the chooks, water the gardens etc. Three hours driving for two and a half hours here in my little part of paradise. Am I crazy ? Yes.... but its worth it.

Friday I hand the reigns back to Mama and scurry up here as fast as I can. So much to do...so little time.

The GB and I are STILL working on the great wall. This weekend we have dug out another seven post holes. We always knew that this stage and the next one would be difficult for a few different reasons. One reason was that somewhere in the proximity to which the GB would be drilling with his trusty post hole boring attachment on his tractor was the main power line from the shed to the house. After some discussion with the builder it was decided that since we were only drilling 800cm and the cables were supposedly 900cm underground we would be OK. An added insurance would be the blue tape that covers the said cables. If we proceeded cautiously we would encounter this first. Hmmmm. I held my breath as he drilled, heart in mouth. Quite rightly so, it would seem.

The photo that I took shows that on one side of the hole are both the telephone cable (400cm down ) and the power cable (just under 500cm down) and NO BLUE TAPE!!!!! Fortunately the GB was using a smaller auger than was used by Tony the bobcat driver who dug the bulk of our other post holes. He was manually widening the hole when he encountered the cables. This was one of those days when I think we are just so blessed. I shudder when I think of what could have happened.

On that note I am off to bed to rest up for another busy week ahead. Hope I can get back here before too long :-) Night all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Guess what I have been doing today!

Yup...there are only so many days that you can put this job off before you look in the cupboard and "ooops...not a thing to wear". Its been a busy few weeks, what with one thing and another. I have been able to keep up with the laundry but the ironing!!!!! Well, its just one of those jobs that begs to be deferred. I only iron the bare necessities nowadays but this pile took me most of the day.....there are a lot of tablecloths and napkins hidden in that there pile!!!! Oh...and the pillowcases!!!! Did I really wear all those pairs of trousers? What was I thinking ? Jeans don't need to be ironed....note to self......wear jeans more often. The poor Gorgeous Boy was running very short of business shirts....it had to be done.

I managed to do a few loads of laundry (and ironed all of those as well) before I called it a day. Tomorrow I am planning to tackle the "total house clean". After two dust storms in the past week everything....and I mean everything...has a fine coating of orange dust over it. Yikes......I have house guests arriving on Thursday and Wednesday I will be busy running errands and getting the car serviced. Do I feel pressured...sure do :-(

This is not a very clear picture but I took it on Saturday afternoon as the sun was going down. It was so hazy with the dust in the air that you could look straight at the sun and barely see it.

We worked all weekend on the "Great Wall" and I have to say, its looking pretty good. Next step will be back filling it. Will I make it in time to plant the potatoes on the full moon? Who knows, but it wont be from lack of effort!

I picked up a the October copy of "Gardening Australia" from the supermarket last week and it came with a free copy of "Choosing Eden". Written by Adrienne Langman, it tells of the journey that she and her husband have begun towards self sufficiency in preparation for the aftermath of "Peak Oil". It is a thought provoking book and in my opinion well worth the read. Here at Bellavista we are working in the same direction but I do have to say that we have not put half the thought and research in to it that she and her husband Larry have. One thing that I wholeheartedly agree with her is that we do need to skill up. Being a "baby boomer" I still remember how many things were done "in the old days" but there are areas that I need to learn more about. Just as well that my favourite hobby is .....learning new things :-) With this in mind.....I have spied another cheese making course coming up in this area. Tomorrow I will make a few phone calls and see if I can book myself in. Off to bed now. Night all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Progress report on the Great Wall of Bellavista.

I can't believe its been so long. I really have been slack. I have so much to say (as always) but not much time to sit down and type at the moment.

Firstly.....The Great Wall of Bellavista......is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. It really helped that dr.K and Richie came up for the weekend and lent a hand. I don't think they realised what they were in for when they suggested coming up but they worked like little Trojans. The Gorgeous Boy and I had all the posts installed for section one......the longest run of sixty metres. The four of us spent the weekend putting in drainage, levelling off (the GB likes everything to be perfect....ah...so tiring!!!!!!) and laying the first two rows of planks along the entire length. We managed to do about twenty metres of two more rows and work ceased when we ran out of planks AND screws. Still, now I can at least get to work back filling the first twenty metres so that we can plant some more potatoes on the next full moon. My life has become a little Lunar of late....not that I don't run around like a "lunatic" at the best of times LOL!!!!

I do think that this latest project has been jinxed by the weather. I suggested to the GB that we begin the Great Wall well before the summer heat really set in. The first week we worked on it, we had a heat wave....hottest spring weather in years!!!!! What happened this weekend....the temperatures soared into the thirties again. This time with hot dry winds. What is summer going to be like this year!!!!!!!

This is where we were at before the weekend......I have not had time to take an updated photo. Tomorrow maybe!

Not much work was done last weekend as we went down to Brisbane and joined friends, on the Sunday, at a "street party" of sorts. Part of Albert Street in the CBD was closed to traffic and set up with tables for a dinner presenting Stoneleigh Wines. Four or five different restaurants participated and it depended on where you were sitting, what type of food you ate. We were fortunate to have an Italian based menu. Five different Stoneleigh wines were served, each complementing a different course.

We had a sparkling champagne style wine with the canapes while street entertainers wandered in our midsts. Then we were seated and dinner was served while a band played in the background. Our table was served

Anti pasta Platter with crusty bread
Sauvignon Blanc

Pasta with Calamari tossed with rocket and chilli
Pinot Gris

Osso Bucco with Mediterranean vegetables
Pinot Noir

Oooops...by this time I couldn't remember what the wine was....must have been good!!!!

Cheese board comprising of local cheeses with rain berries

Some yummy little chocolate coated balls of something delish but it was getting late and the wine was obviously getting the better of me!!!!!!

The company was wonderful, the weather was fabulous and the entertainment was good. We did take some photos but none that did justice to the evening. Am I not just the slackest blogger!!!! ;-) The event was planned as part of the Spring Festival and I would certainly put my hand up to go again next year. If I am lucky enough to go....I will take notes I promise LOL.

Note to self........diet is not progressing well.....question...wonder why!!!!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

How time flys.

When I sat down on Monday to catch up with reading my favourite blogs and write a new post of my own I saved this photo for the next days post but wow...its Friday again. Where does all the time go? This is one of our new orchids. I don't know its name......I guess for me, its not important to know the name....just to revel in the beauty. Whenever I walk past the fernery I spy this beautiful yellow bloom sitting right next to an everyday pelagonium. To my mind they are both beautiful, one for its delicate blooms and the other for the vibrant colour that just plain cheers me up :-)

Tuesday, I went on my computer early to send an email to a friend only to discover that I had been "hijacked" and someone had sent an e mail to all of my contacts....on the face of it they were just promoting an i camera. Was it more sinister than that or are we all just a little paranoid? Who knows, but for someone like me who is not particularly confident with the many uses that the computer has to offer, I was down right annoyed. I changed my password and phoned my "computer guru" down in the big smoke for advice. He suggested that I send another e mail to all contacts to warn them that the first had not been from me so that they could check to see if their computers had been "violated". Well that pretty well blew all morning. Do I have the time to waste cleaning up after someone has been rude enough to a) trespass on my private space on the world wide web and b)impersonate me for their own purposes. NO I DO NOT! Whats with these people? They seriously need to get a life of their own. Grrrr.

Later, I headed down to the city to babysit the Princess while Mama went to do a workshop and stayed down for a couple of days to get my computer "checked" and run a few errands. Its good to be back home again. Today, the Gorgeous boy and I resumed work on the retaining wall. Six more posts installed today. Hurray! It would have been more but we had to do extra work digging out the holes where rocks had diverted the auger on the bobcat. Poor GB was attacking the subsurface rocks with the crowbar and the sledge hammer. My puny attempts with the crowbar were nowhere near as effective but I do a good line in laying on my belly with my arm down the holes hauling out shattered rock ;-) We make a good team. LOL. I think (hope) that we are over the worst of it as the next holes seem to be quite sandy. We will find out tomorrow !!!!!

I had best go to bed to rest this old body 'cos who knows what tomorrow has in store.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Eye of the Storm.

The last couple of weeks have been very busy and today is the eye of the storm. Peace and quiet reigns. Ooooh its lovely but I know there is more to come. The thing is....while its been busy....its been good so I can't say I regret a minute of it.

The Gorgeous Boy and I have been working on our latest project....the retaining wall. It took a while to line everything up. Measuring, moving fencing, ordering supplies and then the work really began.
Here he is with the trusty tractor leveling off all the rubble that had washed down the bank in the last couple of years.

We had to wait a few days for the bobcat to come in and drill around sixty post holes. It was too tight a squeeze to try and do it with the tractor. Then a day to shovel all that surplus soil back on the bank where possible until my arms became so sore that I found it easier to shovel it into a wheel barrow and barrow it out of the way.

The next day the GB levelled off the holes and lined up the posts while I mixed the concrete. We managed to concrete in place twelve posts. Three to four mixes of concrete per hole....it takes a while. Unfortunately work has been put on hold as the Gorgeous Boy had to fly out to Abu Dhabi on business.(or was it just to have a rest LOL!!!)

I used the time that he was away to spring clean the house as we were expecting a visit from a very dear friend from our days in Kuala Lumpur. During that week the bookcase that was being built for us for the lounge room was delivered and installed. Great excitement.

We are so pleased with it. It has been a long wait. It took me a whole day to bring over the books that had been stored in the shed....clean them up and arrange them on the shelves. We have a few spaces to fill!!!!! We could also do with a little time to sit and read some books !!!! but that's a whole other story! Since we plan to be here for a looooong time....I don't see any problem.

I picked up our house guest from the airport on Friday and spent the whole day and half the night chatting and catching up with all that has happened in four years. The Gorgeous Boy arrived home on Saturday. We spent a wonderful weekend taking our guest to visit mutual friends near Noosa and sight seeing and with more friends dropping in for pizzas yesterday. GB took our guest to the airport this morning to complete her journey to Kalgoolie to visit her daughter and family. So today was a quiet day up here at the farm. I managed to read two weeks of my favourite blogs that I haven't been able to get to and now I'm ready to get back to work.

We have had 6ml of rain so far today so I think the first job tomorrow will be fertilizing the vegetable beds and the citrus. Oh....and the retaining wall is waiting for us :-) Time to go and cook dinner. S'all for now.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly!!!

Not the most flattering pose on my part but isn't the machine just the star of the show. I couldn't resist showing her off. Its my birthday on Thursday....and yes, this little baby is my birthday present. What more could a girl ask for (she rolls on her back laughing!!!!)

On Thursday night we (the family) will all gather together for dinner at our favourite Greek restaurant in West end. We all love Greek food which is good but what is so special is that every one keeps the day free to celebrate together with whoever is having the birthday. That means more to me than anything.......I hope it never changes. Family is so special and I certainly do love mine. I'm one lucky Gal :-)

This past week I have been sprouting.....not me personally....remember I'm losing weight albeit slowly. I have two batches growing. alfalfa sprouts and mung beans. The alfalfa is growing just fine on a wet paper towel and I have already harvested some for my lunch today. Its the mung beans....beansprouts, that are driving me crazy. Periodically I get out my jar and have "another go"! I am ALWAYS disappointed. I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I rinse them daily, drain them, sit them in a dark cupboard but they just don't look good. I have to say...they almost look as bad as the ones in the supermarket. Old and tired.

When we lived in KL (Malaysia), twice each week a small truck would drive into our apartment forecourt and an old Chinese couple would roll up the canvas sides and display their wares for sale. The freshest fruit and vegetables I have ever seen. Poh Lai and his wife Hua Toh spent the week visiting apartment blocks...their produce was always just perfect, I don't know how they did it but I was just so pleased that they did.

Hua Toh was always ready to share recipes and cooking hints with me but it was the bean sprouts that won me over. They would be in water, in a white plastic pail with the lid on. She would scoop out whatever I needed, drain them and wrap them in newspaper. They would remain fresh for days in the refrigerator. I have experienced perfection.....I want it again....and I am just so darned cross that mine are not anywhere near as good. What am I doing wrong?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Playing with toys.

We unloaded the Log splitter today. What fun :-) I spent an hour or so splitting logs and we are well set up for the next week or so. I have been trying to upload a photograph of the log splitter but seem to have a problem so will try later. It is an Ozzito and works really well. We are very happy with it. Since we had such a good supply of chopped wood the Gorgeous Boy decided to light the wood fired oven. Roast Pork for dinner. Delicious as usual. Thank you Darling :-)

With the dry weather lately and the wind the gardens are drying out quite quickly. I'm back to watering which I don't really mind as it is very relaxing (unless I think about all the other things I should be doing.

I did take lots of lovely photos of the snow peas and broad beans but I can't seem to upload those either. Must just be my night!!!!! Think I may just call it quits for now and try again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peoples day at the Ekka.

Yesterday was Peoples day at the Ekka. Apparently, despite the concerns of Swine Flu it was a record day with huge crowds. I guess the good weather has helped this year. I heard this on the radio today....we didn't go there. The Gorgeous Boy and I are not fond of crowds. Which is probably why we are so happy up here at the Farm....miles from anywhere :-) We were however down staying at our city place.

We picked up the Log Splitter on Tuesday night, its still in the back of the car as I need help to lift it out...its sooooo heavy. I hope that once we unwrap it, it will be more "manhandle able". I'm keen to start playing with it :-) Roll on the weekend.

We decided that Wednesday would be a good day to go and visit the "Caboolture Historical Village". I had been there before with Mama and the Princess and was most impressed. I wanted to show the GB around. We decided to take the Princess with us as she had the day off school. It was a great day. We spent nearly four hours wandering around the old buildings and still haven't seen everything.

The Wood turners were there for a morning workshop so we went in to see what they do. I love wood......it smells so good and it looks beautiful when its worked. In my early twenties I did a woodworking course at the local college. I made a book shelf and a drawing board stand for my brother (a budding architect). I have often thought about doing more. So many things to do...so little time...sigh. I have brought home the application form to do a course in wood turning. I think it will be great fun. I just have to check to see if I can fit it into my schedule.

We went for a ride on the minature train......

Aren't they a gorgeous couple....The princess and her "Garbie". I, of course, took a back seat. It was a great little ride and the station had all the original ticket office equipment. The Train driver, who is a volunteer, doubles as the conductor and came along and "punched" our tickets.

They have an original school house with the Teachers house next door. A hospital, a Police station with the "lock up" out the back. The Printer was there fixing up an old printer which is still used. We saw the Cooper making a small wine barrel which will be sold when it is finished and many, many more old homes and businesses. The funny thing was, that when I saw many of the "old" household items it was like going back to my past (I didn't think I was THAT old but I guess I must be.) Things like the flat iron....I remember my Father pressing his Police uniform with one when I was young. The mincer which was clamped to the bench in one of the old kitchens was just like my Mothers mincer that we used every Christmas to mince the fruit for the Christmas pudding and the kitchen scales are just like the ones that I brought over with me when I came here to live. They have been sandblaster and repainted but sit on my kitchen bench and are still used whenever I dig out an old recipe calling for pounds and ounces.

In between times they serve as a fruit bowl...change tray....general spot for putting all odds and ends. A very useful piece of kitchen equipment :-)

We only left because we were getting tired but I will be going back again...that's for sure.

Dinner was a low priority after our busy day so I rustled up some corned beef fritters using the last of the corned beef that I had cooked over the weekend. Corned beef was something new to me when I came to Australia. My English memories of corned beef was something that came in a tin and was a little mushy/flaky that you mashed up with potatoes and made into a pastie. My Mother in Law regularly served Corned beef for dinner so I found a recipe that I have "tweaked" over the years and every so often cook up a joint. Its good hot, great cold with tomato relish and those last little scraps get chopped up and made into fritters. How versatile is that :-)

I have never read a recipe for corned beef fritters so I really don't know how you are supposed to make them. All I can say is that since the first day that I played around with a simple batter and threw in the meat, they have been a great success with my family. There are NEVER any left on the plate regardless of how many I make. I would love to share my recipe with you but you really have to be game to experiment.....I don't know what quantities of ingredients I use. I just keep adding things until it "feels" right and my first fritter is always a test one....do I need to add more milk or more flour?

Cooking down in the Granny Flat is always limited. The kitchen there is very, very small, one small work top, a single sink and just a couple of cupboards, hence no room for fancy equipment. There is an electric hob...I hate electric hobs...I'm a gas girl...hot and fast!!!! It suits our needs but any thing more than basic cooking is done up here at the Farm. So....Linda's Corned Beef Fritters......

Self Raising flour...a couple of cups or so....seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. I go for more pepper...less salt! Beat in two eggs and enough milk to make a loose batter.

Add chopped corned beef and a chopped onion. The batter should look something like this....

As I mentioned...I always do a test fritter. The "taste tester" from this batch was a little heavy and took a long time to cook through so I added more milk to lighten it.

These little babies are just ready to flip out of the pan. Not very glamorous, not the most nutritious recipe in my repertoire by a long shot but quick, easy, absolutely yummy and you can feed a troop for a couple of dollars. They are best eaten hot from the pan so when I make them we don't stand on ceremony. A bowl of tossed salad is put on the table along with a good tomato sauce and they are served straight from the pan to table. I keep cooking until I run out of batter and get to eat the last batch...if I am lucky :-) The above quantity serves four hungry eaters.....I adjust it depending on the crowd or how much meat I have left. I do cook them in olive oil...just enough to give them a good golden colour but not enough to make them "greasy".

There you go kids......That's how Mum does it. Isn't it time I stood down and you guys take over ;-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nothing much to say !!!!

Can this be me !!!!! Nothing much to say ! Motor mouth at a loss for words ! I don't think so :-)

Its been a busy week but I don't feel that I have done anything "interesting". I did score a couple of points though.

Win No 1.

I have finally made contact with someone at the Malaysian Kennel club who knows what they are talking about. Yes, I know it was silly of me to export Tiggy back here to Aus. when we left Malaysia 4 years ago without getting "exported" typed on his pedigree. Silly me. I should have thought about that !!!! After more $s than I am about to disclose (don't even want to add it up....he's worth it :-) ) we went through all the rigmarole.... blood tests, airfreight, quarantine here in Aus etc and I didn't get that little word typed on his pedigree. No one told me I had to!

We have now decided that the time is right for us to have a "son of Tigs" so we are looking for a girlfriend for him to do the dirty deed with. BUT. We only want one more dog so we are looking for a nice girl who will "play" with Tiggy and let us have the pick of the litter for the pleasure. Not too much to ask for is it?

To advertise his many talents I need to register him here in Aus. Problem...cannot Lah! without that little word on his pedigree. Hmmm. contact the MKC they say at the Canine Council. Well they have obviously never had contact with Malaysian bureaucracy!

I repeatedly sent e mails to the MKC for a month or so asking how to remedy my problem...they all bounced back. I phoned them to check the e mail address was correct. " yes Ma'am but send us an e mail to www......." Look I may not be very computer smart but even I know you can't e mail a web site. (I even tried!)

I phoned two more times ( I have to admit I procrastinated doing this....I knew I had to be emotionally strong or would become impatient and lose it and be seen as just another irrational expat) First time I told them the postmaster had informed me their inbox was full. "Give me 30 minutes Ma'am and I will empty it" I gave them an hour...bouncing e mails!!! Second time "sorry Ma'am . Maybe your e mail is too large" Too large!!!!! Fortunately I persisted , asking if there was anyone there who could help me. I was passed over to Shanti. Ahh Shanti ...God Bless you...yes I know I should have told you I wanted to bring him home, yes I realise it would have saved me this problem...what put his "original pedigree" in the mail with 250 Ringgit plus postage and you would type that word on there for me and send it back...Yeah right. I trust the Malaysian postal system as much as I trust a snake in the grass!

To cut a long and frustrating story short, I have a very Dear Friend in Victoria who also lived in KL at the same time as us and understands my dilemma, who is flying up there next Tuesday on business and has kindly agreed to take the pedigree in to the MKC office personally, pay the fee and wait for it to be returned to her with the all important word (exported) typed on it...while she waits! She is such a Darling :-) I sent the Pedigree down to her express certified mail...yes I almost trust Australia Post! Now I just have to take the little fellow in for a short back and sides, a shampoo and set and take a sexy photo of him and set him up on a Doggie Lonely Hearts site. Persevere I say....all that banging you head against a brick wall does pay off with perseverance!

Win No 2

The Gorgeous Boy has finally admitted that we need a "log splitter". Our latest delivery of firewood is beautiful hard wood and burns really well but is soooo hard to split. I was here by myself the other night and went out to split some wood for the fire. I couldn't even get the axe to make a mark on it let alone split it. We have been talking about buying one ever since a trip down south to visit friends and I was allowed to play with their electric hydraulic log splitter. Ooooh. I loooved it. I know...most girls would love diamonds or perfumes etc. Me, I want a log splitter....you sit yourself on a little stool at the end of it....load up the log....push the button and the log slowly moves forward, splits and falls to the floor....the push of a button I say....oh, the power !!!!!! ;-) After much Gooogling (I love Google!) and many phone calls I have found one at Bunnings. Right on my own doorstep. There was I thinking I wouldn't find one in Queensland....too warm for log fires!!!! They are holding it for me until I can get down there...I am so excited :-) Wood splitting will definitely be easier in our house from now on. Its my birthday this month and I am more than happy to accept it as my birthday present.

Actually, I think the GB is secretly happy as he does get a little worried when I wield the axe.....or the brush cutter with the steel blade on......come to think about it he's not real happy when I get the carving knife out to carve the meat. Me...clumsy...nooooo....I know what I'm doing...I'm in control ;-)

Enough waffling...time for bed....I plan to do some more brush cutting tomorrow morning...OK. I will use the plastic blades, even though they wear down too fast when I hit the rocks ;-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A new garden visualised.

This afternoon, after the Gorgeous Boy and I had finished all the chores, we set to mapping out the new garden beds for the vegetable garden. This will be a major exercise as it involves seventy two metres of retaining walls creating raised garden beds. Since we live on the side of a hill at the beginning of a beautiful valley there are very few true flat areas. A vast slab was cut before the shed was built to accommodate the shed and the house. The shed was erected and then, yours truly changed her mind (lets not go there!!!) and the house was built in a different area. I have to say, everyone agrees that it was the right decision but it did leave us with a very large flat area. We have utilised this, building our vegetable garden there and the "chook hilton". This had of course left us with a fairly significant bank behind. To ease maintenance of this area, we have decided to build an 800cm retaining wall along the base which will enable us to plant potatoes, melons etc which can sprawl to their hearts delight and slow down the never ending weeds. It will also slow down the flow of water in heavy rains, which tends to temporarily flood the vegetable garden.

So, armed with star pickets, a tape measure and some tape we have mapped out the area involved. I needed to "see" it! I can visualise how it will look but I wanted to be sure that everything would fit and there were not going to be any little "surprises" once the work began. A girl can only change her mind so many times!!!!

We are very happy with the results of our afternoons work and we both now have a clear idea of how it will look. The next move will involve the Gorgeous Boy and his tractor leveling off the area and drilling holes for the support posts. We are not kidding ourselves that this will be a simple task as we have MANY submerged rocks, which I have no doubt will be just where we want to sink a post! I am hoping that we can get most of the work done before the hot weather comes. A) we need to get the melon seeds in before spring and B) it gets awful hot out there some days. :-)

We had a load of wood delivered a few days ago, it should last us through what is left of winter. Hopefully there will be enough left to keep the wood fired oven going for a while.

Isn't it lovely.

Last night I made two more jars of preserved lemons. The lemons were on "special" at the supermarket when I went grocery shopping. $1.99 per kilo. At that price I couldn't walk past...they all whispered to me " preserve me, preserve me" who am I to ignore their call ;-) They look beautiful, so bright and fresh looking. I also pickled a jar of radishes.

I have read a few "random" foodie blogs recently written by American ladies who espoused the simple radish as delicious when pickled. I have never seen or tasted these before but since we love radishes here at Bellavista and we have a few growing a little large I decided to have a go.

I brewed up a pickling vinegar. 500ml cider vinegar, 500ml good quality white vinegar and 130g of sugar (courtesy of The Great Dane) and poured it over. Aren't they pretty? They are now in the fridge. I think we may need to taste test then next weekend. You never, never know if you never, never go!!!! That's my motto ;-)

I am off to bed for an early night tonight. We are heading down to Brisbane early tomorrow morning for a "De-gustation Lunch" at the Restaurant Manx with our wine tasting friends. I have looked at the menu and will definately be juggling my diet plan to accomodate it ;-) So sorry Gemini and the Great Dane will not be there to join us. They certainly seem to be enjoying their cruise.

S'all for now.

Friday, July 31, 2009


How I love our veggie garden. Years ago I would never have raved on about the garden, so what has changed? I am not sure. Is it an age thing? I don't think so. I do remember the first success I had in the garden of our first home. When the children were very small, I gardened...landscaped you could say because it was a brand new house with no established garden. I took pride in that garden and rejoiced in its improvements. Then we began our travels...returning between each posting away and attempting to re-establish the garden. The children got older and in between school runs and afternoon activities the garden became neglected. I lost interest. I never imagined I could find that joy again.

When we bought this property about 17 years ago there was much work to be done. Constant mowing and planting the odd tree here or there on our fleeting visits. Now we have finally settled down here...the house is built and the grounds need landscaping. With thirty acres the task is huge but we are slowly starting to make headway. The main task so far has been to establish the veggie garden. Its come a long way in the past twelve months. There has been a lot of hard work (with more to come) but the results are there.

Most days I am here I go over there and potter around. Watering, fertilizing, planting, cropping and of course the never ending weeding! I sit to rest on the bench that the Gorgeous Boy has made for me and admire our handiwork. The birds have begun to visit the gardens now and the bees buzz around the flowering peas and the broadbeans. The chickens have settled in and I can here them scratching around and "chattering" amongst themselves, Tiggy lays nearby basking in the sun and there is an incredible peace. Oh how I love the veggie garden :-)

Before I headed down to the city earlier in the week I took my basket and cropped a few things to take down with me,

it is all so fresh and tasty. What more could you ask for? The rewards are so much more than just a basket of goods. I'm not sure I can put my finger on it....but crickey....life sure is good :-)

I took the time to photograph the jams that I made last weekend. They are all packed away in the pantry now.

but that little jonquil in the vase is still on the bench. I have my laptop on the kitchen bench tonight. Its warm in here with the fire . The perfume is so strong, the garden has come inside with me :-)

I only just had enough jars for all of the jam. While down in the city I found a glass jar supplier and managed to buy a few more trays of jars. There's no holding me down now LOL. I have been preserving tonight but that's a whole other post.

Time for bed now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jam making again.

Here I am late at night still waiting for my Pie Melon,Ginger and Lemon Jam to set. Been there...done this before. Why did I think it was going to be different tonight? I loved the last batch that I made so much that I decided to make a second batch. I still have a couple of Pie Melons left and don't see us growing them again, given that they were an unexpected surprise this year!!!

I also had a basket of limes that a friend had given to me. We only had two limes on our own tree this year and given the attacks by my "furry friends" we are lucky to have those two :-( So...this morning I rolled up my sleeves and got started making this years batch of Brandy Lime Marmalade. I am so pleased with the results. A perfect set and that lovely tangy taste. I have twenty jars sitting on the bench waiting to be labeled. Sixteen medium sized jars and four smaller ones. Its been a good jam making year and I am quickly running out of jars. I even had to go over to the shed tonight in the dark and rummage around to scrape up enough jars for the melon jam. I hope I have enough!

I woke up this morning with a mental list of all the things that I was going to do today...the best laid plans of mice and men huh! I did finally get around to digging up the last of the ginger. The "wobblys" had eaten all the tops but I had a pretty good idea where they were and just needed to dig around a little. The necessity of the job moved to No 1 on the priority list as I needed the ginger for the jam! Sometimes all you need is an incentive ;-) While I was there with the spade in my hand I decided to dig up the turmeric and horseradish which had suffered a similar fate. I was pleased with the amount that I was able to harvest of the turmeric. I think, if I have time, I will slice most of it up and pop it in the dehydrator tomorrow to dry it and grind it up to use later in the year. Sadly I was only able to find a small root of horseradish so I potted it up and will start again from scratch. This time it will join my collection of potted herbs inside the fenced area of the veggie garden.

Lunch today was a delight. The "plan"allowed me 80g of smoked salmon with salad.

Not a very clear picture but you get the idea. Being such a loving, caring wife I am prepared to share my diet with the Gorgeous Boy. Isn't he the lucky one ;-) Actually he is...he got to eat the bread. My plate was the one with the crackers on !!!! No. Its not sour cream that you can see. I wish!!! Just some of the cheese that I made from pressing some of the the low fat greek yogurt that I make. I was "allowed" 3 wholegrain crackers spread with 1 Tb low fat cream cheese. I improvised!!! As an after thought, after I had taken the photo I decided to chop up a little of my preserved lemon that I made a couple of months ago. I sprinkled it on the cheese. Oh yum. It was delicious. I shall definitely do that again.

I just went and checked the jam...its finally ready !! I will go and put it in the jars and head off to bed. Tomorrow I will label everything and shuffle things around in the pantry to make room for today's cook off.

I am limiting the photos that I attach to each post as I am having trouble uploading more than one. Its only a recent problem but my computer is still doing strange things. It seems to have a mind of its own at the moment. I will have to ask Mama or dr.K if there is another way of doing it.

BTW what a stunning sunset we had tonight :-) We are indeed blessed to be here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Diets...Bah humbug!

Yup. That's right......I am officially on a diet. Have been for ten days and it sucks :-( Ten days and I have lost 1.5 Kg. Now that may sound OK but we all know that in the first week if you are good, heaps drop off...cos its all water right? Well its not dropping and I know why I hate dieting. Diet food doesn't taste good. I sit here reading my favourite blogs...most of which talk about food!!!!!and I look at my menu plan...meat and salad.....fish and salad...for a bit of excitement you can eat vegetables. Oh and lets not forget. They give you a "treat" if you are good. A low fat dairy dessert. Thanks but no thanks. I don't often eat dessert but when I do, I want it to taste good not plastic.

I am on this diet for health reasons. I am past dieting for vanity! This time I gotta stick to it! I have to find a way to eat 1500 calories (in the old measure)a day and have it taste good AND enjoy it. I will not be beaten . Its going to be a challenge.

I have been given a "diet plan" to follow and its taken me 10 days to realise that I can be smart about this. Tonight's dinner was Chilli con carne. I perused the recipe provided.

450g lean beef mince
1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
400g can tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon sugar
290g can red kidney beans
Mexican chilli powder to taste
chopped parsley.

Served with 1/2 cup rice
40g reduced fat cheese and a side salad.

Blah..... how bland does that sound! That serves four people so if I cook that up for GB and myself tonight. I have to eat it again another night!!!!! to use the rest up. I don't even know what "Mexican chilli powder"is.

I have this method of cooking. It may not suit everyone but it suits me. We grow most of our own vegetables up here at the farm. Because of that, we eat seasonally. Its no good me planning to cook asparagus if we don't have any at the moment but do have a glut of mushrooms, right? So I head out to the garden in the morning with a vague idea in my head of what meat we might eat that night. ( I buy in bulk and freeze, as I don't go shopping very often.) I look at what is available and plan my menu around whats there. Simple as that. I would add that I do keep a very good store cupboard of staples and am not afraid to experiment. I also cook from scratch. So if we are going to eat chilli I use fresh chillies.

I realised that I can tweak this diet to suit me. Tonight I started tweaking. Into the mix went ground coriander, ground cumin, some smoked paprika and a beef stock cube, ground black pepper, extra garlic and three beautiful shiny red fresh chillies. Sit back and taste. Hmmm its getting better. Sprinkle over finely chopped parsley and coriander. Mmmm. I will go with that for today. On to the plate with the rice and just a little under 30g shaved fresh parmesan ( equivalent calories as 40g reduced fat plastic cheese) all served with a nice little side salad of fresh mixed lettuce,rocket and cress from the garden, cherry tomatoes and spring onions. Oh and lets not forget, a crisp glass of savigion blanc ( I traded 1 plastic dessert and 4 dried dates for that!!!) You know I think I may be able to cope with this. Note to self....if you halve the oil allowed for cooking, you can have a little lemon and oil on your salad ;-)

Its only the start but its given me hope :-)

Now I need to go read some of those lovely blogs and figure out how I am going to cook the yummies I read in less than 1500 calories. Wish me luck!

I won't be too long out of bed cos look whose waiting for me

and the Gorgeous boy is there as well ;-)

Night all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guests at the Hilton.

We have some new guests.....a few months ago we commissioned the building of the "Chook Hilton" The young man who is renting our old family home had built himself the most beautiful bird cage which I spotted while doing the quarterly house inspection. After greatly admiring his handiwork I asked him if he would build me a chook pen. It took a while with many design e mails flowing between us but here it is in all its glory :-) With the assistance of a friend they delivered and erected it in April of this year. I was going to wait until spring before I bought any chooks to live in there. It gets pretty cold and windy up here in the winter and I didn't want to kill off any new babies before they had time to settle in.

These lovely ladies belonged to Mama and the Princess. They are about a year old and have been raised from day old chicks. Unfortunately they are the ultimate escape artists. No matter what we tried they would always find a way to escape their run and massacre the garden beds. Originally there were six of them but one "flew the coop" and was never seen again. Their wings were clipped but somehow they always managed to project themselves into the air and over the fences. Somehow I don't see them escaping from "The Hilton".

A decision was reached....they would move to the country! I loaded them into the dog carrier which we had used to transport Tiggy home from Malaysia. Covered them with some hessian and packed them into the trailer for the one and a half hour drive up here. Into "The Hilton" they went with a strict warning to "toe the line". I full expected them to suffer shell shock from the trip and a certain amount of frustration at being restricted. No eggs were expected for a few days. Bless their little fluffy feathers next day there were four eggs and they haven't let me down since. Mind you.....they do live in "The Hilton" AND get great treats daily from the veggie garden. I just like to think that someone knows who is the boss !!!!!

We are going to build another tall fence around the run so that they are able to safely free range during the day when we are here and also have the added protection of one extra barrier to protect them from wild dogs (which we unfortunately have in the area) when we are away.

The weather has been glorious lately. Crisp and cool and beautifully sunny at the same time. I spent a few hours over in the veggie garden today weeding and generally tidying up the area (pictured behind the chook pen). Tiggy was sunning himself close by and the chooks were clucking away in the background.......life is good here at Bellavista :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I am back :-)

Its been ages but I am back. It has been such a busy few weeks but now things are slowly getting back to normal. Thank Heavens :-)

Hi Olive, Good to see you comment and I am sorry that I haven't replied earlier. We have been most fortunate that since the Wood fire oven was built we have not had a complete fire ban here at the farm. It takes a while to fire up so we generally plan lunch and dinner to be cooked in there to make it worth while. The Gorgeous boy is planning to make a wooden door to fit on the front so that we can bake our bread in there. Just another job on the long list of things to do...LOL...Good job we are going to live forever! I hope that you got around to trying the roasted vegetable tart. I used eggplant, capsicum, onion and zucchini with fetta cheese, a beaten egg and a few olives to give it colour.

Hi Mariana, Its good to see you safely back from your trip. I have read part one and two so far and will catch up on the last few days of blogs shortly. It looked like a fantastic experience...these things are not always comfortable ;-) but that's what memories are made of :-) Yes the fudge was truly decadent but so delicious. If it caused you to raid the cupboards for chockies...well what can I say, after all the drooling that I do with your blog :-)

Here is the recipe for the Roasted Venison from a few weeks ago. I must explain that while I do follow recipes it is not unknown for me to add or delete ingredients that I either especially love or don't have in the pantry. So I will write the recipe as it appears in "The Great Australian Venison Cookery Book" with a few added comments.


2 1/2 cups red wine (eg Shiraz Cabernet)
1/2 cup oil ( I try to go a little lighter on the oil than normally recommended but in this case I used the full amount)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf ( I probably substituted curry leaves as I love the flavour)
1 clove of garlic, crushed ( I would definitely have used at least 3 or 4 cloves...no vampires here!)
3 juniper berries ( I used more.....more like 6 or 7)
1 onion sliced

Mix all ingredients together and pour over the meat.. I then marinated a leg of venison for 24 hours. Remove from marinade and pat dry.

The recipe suggested that you rub over 1 dessert spoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of ginger....I missed out this part of the recipe!

Criss-cross 4 streaky bacon rashers over the top of the meat. I also laid a sheet of pork skin over the top of that....the latter was not included in the recipe but I think it made all the difference.

Pour over the marinade and cover with foil.

The venison was then roasted in a preheated 180 degree oven. They recommend 30 mins per 500g plus 30 mins extra. I followed their recommendation but uncovered it for the last 30 mins.

When the meat is cooked it is removed from the pan and allowed to stand, covered.

Mix together I Tb sp of butter with I Tb sp of flour and add to the gravy in the pan. I had to firstly remove the excess fat that came from the pork skin as it was very "greasy". After the gravy was thickened I stirred in the redcurrent jelly. They suggested I Tb sp of this. I probably used a very generous spoonful.

I hope this helps. The verdict is still out as to whether Venison should be cooked a little on the rare side or well done. I had a whole side of Venison to experiment with and am experimenting with different cuts. This roast was very good. I have some steaks to use another time and I think I will try these less well cooked. I will post the results when we use them.

That's all for tonight...I am going to indulge myself and catch up on all my favourite blogs that I have not had time to read in the past few weeks. I'll be back tomorrow if I don't have square eyes from staring at the computer screen all evening :-)

Friday, July 10, 2009

A winters tale.

Life has been very busy for the past couple of weeks and it doesn't look like letting up for another week. I do like to keep myself busy but I think even I have reached my limit. Is it just the weather? Cold and windy ? I think in a past life I must have been a bear because right now all I want to do is crawl into a warm nest for the rest of winter. Since I live in sunny Queensland I think I am either getting old or just becoming a wimp?

Last week saw me spending a couple of days finishing up the books for the end of the financial year, a messy task locating all of the necessary receipts and juggling the figures until everything balances. All done now for another year. Yeah :-) I also spent a couple of days down in Brisbane with doctors appointments and errands. Thursday I came back to the farm arriving just a few hours before our weekend guests arrived.

Cherry and the girls arrived at lunchtime.....well they would have done if they had not done a little unintended detour to "sight see up at the Dam" LOL. Still Girls...its always good to see the local sites of interest :-) We had planned a girlie night in before the boys came up the following night. I had been out the previous day and purchased all the necessaries........movies, popcorn, the makings of hot chocolate and of course the marshmallows, not to mention enough snacks to last two teenage girls for a month of Sundays. Oh and did I forget to mention the very sin full fudge. Mmmmmm. Six different flavours from the "Fudge Shop" they were balanced out with a kilo of strawberries. You gotta have something healthy in there!!!!!!

What I didn't realise is that they had also had the foresight to cater for the evening. We had enough snacks to last ALL weekend. The fire was lit and we curled up to watch the movie Australia, which I though was very kind of them as they had already seen it and Marie Antoinette. I hope they enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

Next day after a very late start there were many cups of tea and lots of catching up to do. Many hands make light work, the dough was made for fresh bread for dinner.

A slice with roasted vegetables and feta cheese was made to accompany the tandoori chicken and salad (which had tasted so darned good last time I made it that I decided it would do well for a light dinner).

The bread went into the oven

and we were ready!!!!!

The Gorgeous boy and "Nods" arrived just as dinner was ready to be served. We kicked off the evening with dry martinis, a drink that featured heavily in the dinner parties of our younger days! A delicious walk down memory lane and straight on to dinner.

We macerated some of the strawberries with a little sugar and aged balsamic and served them with mascapone cheese for desert. The recipe was compliments of Marie from "The English Kitchen" and well worth making. Absolutely yum!!!!!!! Her blog has some delicious recipes...whoever said English cooking was boring!!!

The next day we did intend to take the girls kayaking (the kayaks were still in the trailer!!) but never quite got around to it. We all pottered around the garden as it was a good "moon day" for planting leafy vegetables etc and GB and I explained the principles of moon planting to Nods and Cherry. We hope that they have as much success with it as we do.

We took our guest for a drive around the local area to view a property that was for sale that they were interested in viewing. Unfortunately the real estate agent had shut up shop for the day (such is life in the country!!) so we decided to drop in at the Kandanga Pub for a beer on the way back. The new owners have a cute little girl schnauzer called Milly so Tiggy got to flirt a little before we headed home.

The wood fired oven was flashed up again for another attempt at Pide. I love to use my guests as guinea pigs ;-) Fortunately, this time I followed the dough recipe, and had more success. I am sure that I can further improve on this.

Lunch was very late in being served at around 3pm but with the addition of an anti pasta platter with grilled Halumi cheese, salami, sun dried tomatoes, olives etc we were all so full that we decided that the Roast beef with a mustard crust which was planned for dinner could wait until lunch on Sunday.

Sunday morning breakfast was french toast with mixed berries in syrup and cream. Oh what decadence!!!!! A restful morning for everyone before lunch of the afore mentioned roast beef and vegetables. Desert was a very simple dish of vanilla ice cream with warmed up strawberry and rhubarb jam drizzled over the top. I have to say ...it was delicious...such a good way to use up some of the many bottles of jam in my pantry!!!! Our guests headed home in the early afternoon. It was wonderful to have them here and I hope that it will not be as long before we can get together again.

Monday morning saw us heading down to the city as GB had to go into the office and I had decided that the Granny flat was long overdue for a spring clean and the gardens needed mowing and the trees pruning. It took two days of solid work but was worth the effort. The Princess came over on Tuesday to give "Nana" a hand!!! She shows skills at dusting but was easily distracted and soon lost interest. Its a good job that Nana had a copy of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" on hand :-) She is now convinced that with the right spell she can "magic" all the housework done. Let me know that spell little one when you have it figured out......it will be invaluable. dr K dropped in for dinner and stayed over the night which is always nice.

Wednesday was a busy day of errands. While out I decided to buy the Princess a new outfit. It was a cold and windy day. It is still early winter but I could not find any winter clothes anywhere for sale. All the summer stock is now going out on display. There I was...in the shops...all rugged up with long sleeves and a woolly jacket with a scarf wrapped around my neck and all around me are shorts, sundresses and beach wear. I am sorry guys...I want to buy winter clothes in winter and summer clothes in summer!!!!!! I guess this life is all going a bit fast for me....I think I want to get off....I am so "over "the commercial push, push, push. Give me the simple life any day.

Thursday, Mama, the Princess and I went over to visit my sister-in law for lunch and spent a delightful four hours in her company. We explored her gardens and came home with a bag full of cuttings of some bright daisy like plants (I have to admit....I can name all types of vegetables but flower names sometimes elude me) and some native violets. These I left with Mama to plant in the garden and headed back to the farm with GB after he had finished work for the day. Its good to be home again. Unfortunately, we are heading south again tomorrow for a party and will spend the night near Cleveland. Next week I will be busy running back and forth between the two homes and I am looking forward to returning here at the end of the week with no more commitments for a while. Just to have the time to potter in the garden, maybe do a little sewing and to catch up here "at Bellavista". Mariana at Through my Kitchen window has asked for the recipe for the venison roast that we did a couple of weeks ago. I promise I will post it next time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

They all came home to roost .

What a lovely but busy weekend we have had. The family all came to visit this weekend.

We had them all here on Saturday so GB and I decided that we would flash up the woodfired oven and roast a leg of venison for dinner. It is too big for the two of us so we welcome visitors to share with us. Since he was firing up the oven (it takes about two or three hours to build up a good heat) we always have pizza for lunch on those days. This time I got it into my head to try something different. Pide ! We ate it often when we lived in the middle east and always enjoyed it so with that thought in mind I turned to my trusty computer and "googled" it. I was obviously having one of those "know it all days" and I only looked for inspiration for the fillings. I was planning to use my trusty fail safe pizza dough recipe. I completely ignored the dough recipe supplied...oh Linda...when will you ever learn !!!!

I decided on three different fillings.....minced beef with Moroccan spices to be topped with strips of grilled red capsicum and a side serve of garlicky yogurt.....feta and spinach.... and cheese, onion and egg. The latter had me trekking into the village for Halumi and mozzarella (mistake number two!!!) All that was available was a mozzarella,cheddar,parmesan blend. Ho hum...what to do ? I really, really wanted to try this one so I succumbed to temptation and purchased the only available option. The recipe suggested grated mozzarella and halumi with chopped spring onions, mint and a little oil and seasoning. Bake the pide for five minutes....remove from the oven and crack an egg on the top then return to the oven for a further two minutes. Sounded yum.

The dough was made rolled , filled and shaped...so far so good. GB took over and into the oven they went. Oh dear. My pizza dough is extra special terrific....but obviously only for pizzas!!!! The pide expanded way too fast and burst open. The egg exercise didn't go so well either as number one egg landed on the floor of the oven (the dog got to eat that one) and the other one didn't quite cook all the way through. We ate them anyway!!! We were hungry !!!! Next time and there will be a next time as I wont be beaten. I will follow the dough recipe because they tasted delicious anyway. Hence no photos.

A quick apres lunch nap and the boys went kayaking with the Princess in tow. I went down with them to the creek to watch...way too cold for me to even consider lowering myself into the kayak and have cold water sloshing around my nether regions. It needs to be at least another ten degrees warmer before I will go wading into the water. Back home to pop in the roast for dinner.

We tried a new recipe for the venison this time, marinading it with red wine and red wine vinegar, juniper berries, garlic, chopped onion and oil overnight and we experimented, roasting it covered with streaky bacon rashers and a large slice of pork rind. Yep, you heard right "pork rind". You can buy it in pieces from the supermarket and we have on one indulgent occasion roasted it as an extra with a pork leg roast for those who will not be named who like to eat vast quantities of pork crackling. Mmmmmmmm. Well it may sound excessive but it worked really well and the meat was delicious. Mama made the most gooey, yummy chocolate desert. It looked like a baked chocolate sponge but when you cut into it it oozed out of the middle. Very rich but funnily enough it wasn't too sweet, which was good. With a dollop of cream on the top (may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb!) it was the perfect finish to the meal. You can make that one again sweetheart ;-)

Sunday morning after a full english breakfast...oink, oink! GB and I left the family wandering around the village market and headed down to Mooloolaba for lunch with friends. Great company and a lovely lunch, not only because I didn't have to cook it myself ;-) but I love warm beef salad, which was one of the dishes. We arrived back late in the afternoon and the boys had already lit the fire. What more could you ask for but to snuggle in for the night. It got down to six degrees last night but I was as snug as a bug in my nest. Its all good.

Life goes on......the last of the family departed at dawn this morning and I have been busy laundering sheets and towels all day. Thank heavens for a sunny breezy day. It certainly is the "sunshine state". I hope your weekend was as good as mine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A new baby in the family.

Great excitement....we have a new baby in the family.....well actually its a new car but thats exciting anyway :-)

I came down to the city as I had promised dr K that I would help him pick up his new car. Well that's what Mums are for isn't it !!! He and I headed up to the Sunshine Coast this morning to pick up this little baby.

Isn't it cute :-) Its a "smart car". A semi automatic two seater that will suit him down to the ground. He lives in one of Brisbane's inner city suburbs but travels daily for work between different far flung areas that are not always accessible by public transport. I am pleased to say that GB , Mama and the doc all use public transport where possible but Queensland is not the most green state when it comes to public transport :-( There is plenty of room for improvement. Hence the need for a more environmentally friendly vehicle. Hopefully this will fit the bill.

I left him to drive to work and headed back taking the scenic route through the beach suburbs of the sunshine coast. It didn't take much longer than using the highway and was an interesting drive. The development up in that area has been amazing over the last twenty odd years. Progress !!!!!Hmmmm I am not sure!

This afternoon I popped in to meet a very helpful young man who has been advising me over the phone this week with computer problems that I have been experiencing. It is a little difficult when you are miles away from the city and your computer starts to misbehave! If I could give this man an award I most certainly would. He has been both pleasant and extremely helpful on each occasion. I am not sure if the problem has been completely fixed.....I have changed from internet explorer to mozilla firefox and everything seems to be working OK today. Fingers crossed!

Tonight I can hear the State of Origin match playing out on the TV and everywhere I turned today I saw people wearing maroon so I guess its a pretty important match for Queensland ! Me....I'm off to bed with a good book ;-) Good night.