Thursday, 25 December 2008

To you and your kin...

Merry Christmas all! Wishing you baskets of goodies, plates of treats, and hearts full of love.

I will be back to posting properly soon.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sorry I haven't been posting. We're all sick, and it just keeps going on and on... I can't quite muster the energy to be eloquent enough to post anything.

I have seen Australia, and mostly liked it. I wish more people would go to see it so they'd stop rabbiting on about it in the news. Hopefully I'll remember enough about it to blog about it soon.

*cough cough*

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mini Cakes

I probably really don't need to blog these as they're just simple vanilla butter cupcakes with plain icing. However, I was really pleased with them, and I love the photo I took of them, so anyway...

Talitha was really pleased with these cakes, too. 48 mini-cupcakes, to take to school on her birthday. Plus, the teacher was thrilled that I made enough for both kindy classes, plus teachers. 10 points for me!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Chocolate and Orange and Racing Cars

For the big girl's family birthday celebration, I made this recipe from the good ole Australian's Women's Weekly "Cakes and Slices" book. It's called Orange Yoghurt Cake and it's great because it's a little bit interesting, but the flavour isn't too complicated so as to be too much for young kids. It also turns out firm and moist, and stays that way for a couple of days.

Oh, before you start, note that this takes 2 hours to bake,and needs a fair bit of preparation. I'd forgotten that, when I headed into the kitchen at 9pm the night before the birthday. Oh yes, it was a late night. The things we do.

Orange Yoghurt Cake
125g butter
1 tbs grated orange rind
1 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup mixed peel (I left this out and just added a little bit extra orange rind)
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup plain yoghurt

Grease a pan. The book says a loaf pan but, meh, use whatever pan takes your fancy. I made a double batch which was plenty of a loaf pan and a ring pan. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

Cream butter, rind and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light & fluffy; beat in egg yolks one at a time. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in peel. Stir in half the sifted flour & half the combined juice & yoghurt, then remaining flour & yoghurt mixture.
Beat egg whites in small bowl until soft peaks form, fold lightly into mixture in 2 lots. Pour into pan. Bake in slow oven for about 2 hours. Stand 5 minutes before cooling on wire rack.

Now, just so you know, the mixture should not look like this. This is what it looked like when I put it in the pans & into the oven the first time.
Then I turned around and saw the egg whites still in the bowl on the bench. Oops! Quick!

Out of the pans, back in the bowl, in with the whites.... and this is how the mixture should look:
The recipe calls for orange icing, amde simply with butter, icing sugar and orange juice. However, I opted to use some luxurious Scarborough Fair (fair trade) orange chocolate and make up a choc-orange ganache type frosting.

I kinda made it up as I went, but basically.... put the chopped chocolate with some cream in a heatproof bowl above simmering water. Stir until all chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Still over the heat, add some icing sugar and keep stirring just till it gets a bit thicker. Take off the heat. If you're anythging like me you'll now spend ages adding a bit more cream, a bit more sugar, until it looks just right.
This frosting goes quite crusty as it cools down so get that cake covered, and enjoy the dollops left in the bowl (not too much though, especially if you've used rich dark chocolate like I did)!

The finished cake:
Racetrack and cars entirely optional, of course. :)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

My amazing daughter

My beautiful, firstborn, precious baby girl, Talitha, is 6 years old today.

She doesn't like it all that much when I call her "baby girl", but tough luck. She is and always will be. :) She is my sweet sunflower, craving attention and always, always, reaching for the brightest spot in the sunshine of life.

Here she is with her birthday present, a Tonka truck. She was thrilled to bits about it and was quick to ensure it got a good workout.

Happy Birthday, beautiful girl.

In the garden

Or, mostly, in pots!

I'm finally getting my act together around here and trying to get a bit of a garden going. We've always had a mandarin tree and two passionfruit vines, but they're no work at all really, apart from a bit of watering and fertilising whenever the fancy strikes us. I bought Noel a Wollemi Pine last Christmas, because he grew up very close to, and loves, the area to which they are native. Plus, we just love the whole "living fossil" aspect of having one of those beautiful trees... even though ours is in a pot, so very small.

Apart from those, though, the garden has been languishing for a while, with overgrown lavender bushes, sparse daisies, and a few native bushes in annoying spots.

I'm keeping the lavender, for now, because I will use the flowers to make smelly things for Christmas presents. But last week, I pulled out the daisies, chopped back a couple of the natives, hacked into the soil with a mattock, and dug some blood-and-bone into the soil. This week I'll add in some manure and in a couple of weeks I'll sow some carrot seeds, as well as plant out these:

On the left there are fresh new tomato plants, just springing their way up. I'm pretty late to start planting from seed, but in this area tomatoes grow pretty much all year so it shouldn't matter. These sprouted only a few days after I sowed them and they're growing happily on my kitchen window sill, alongside some random flower seeds and those two pots of parsley my mum gave me (with stern instructions to "keep them alive!").

Another happy tale of seed germination lies in these strawberry plants:

The seeds from these came from store-bought strawberries which were made into a smoothie, which, when drunk, left hundreds of those tiny seeds in the bottoms of our cups. "Aha!" I thought. "I see fresher strawberries in our future!" So I fished them all up, dried them out and sowed them in some wet cotton wool. They took a few weeks to sprout but they're doing well now. Hopefully at least a few of them will last the distance and we'll get some yummy fresh berries in summer!

One passionfruit vine is going "gangbusters", as Noel would say. A few days ago I counted 33 fruit on there, not including the tiny ones with flowers still attached. I'm hoping they all ripen around the same time so that I can make some passionfruit jam for Christmas pressies.
I'm loving the idea of using our own plants and bit of my own effort to make useful gifts for people I love!

More passionfruit flowers. Aren't they lovely? I'm finding it fascinating to watch the progess of our vines. They are little hubs of activity, with insects all over and flowers in different stages. I've been taking photos every few days of two specific flowers, to track their progress and observe the process they go through.

I've also filled up a whole bunch of pots on my front verandah with seeds of various flowering plants. Useful plants are great, but flowers are wonderful too! I'm looking forward to a big bright show of colour next to my front door. Just look at these little guys reaching out to find the light...

Friday, 14 November 2008

I'm still excited

This SMH article has me feeling less worried about the state of "Australia". Particularly, this quote from Luhrmann :

"There was always a struggle within me. There's the way Titanic ends and
there's the way Gone With The Wind ends.
It's neither of those. It's an ending specific to this moment and it's what I want the film to give out and what I need in my own life. It's what I want to feel.
On that level, it's completely personal."
Excellent. :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Pondering Australia

Sorry to have neglected the blog for a while. Noel and I and the kids have all been sick... and it's no fun having to be the mum when you're sick!

I'm looking forward to Baz Luhrmann's new film Australia in the next few weeks. I've been anticipating this one for a long time, having attended a casting back in March 07 , for extra work (at which I was unsuccessful because, as you may recall, I was too big for the 1940s costumes).

I'm a huge fan of Baz. Strictly Ballroom was always one of my favourite films (in fact it was THE favourite for quite a long time, even when admitting that would have meant social ridicule...). So obviously I'm really hoping this one is another piece of wow-worthy cinematic artistry. Baz has stated that it's a departure from the Red Curtain trilogy, a different step into more epic and "landscapey" tales rather than the theatrical bent of those three. (I'm paraphrasing, obviously, although I'm sure Baz wouldn't mind the word "landscapey" too much.) So I'm not expecting it to be the same, but I really am hoping it'll be just as good.

I'm getting a little worried.

A friend linked me to the trailer and pointed out to me how "Americanised" it looks. This is a story set in the Aussie outback, talked up for over a year as this huge, epic, Aussie-est of Aussie films... and I have to say, my friend's comment that it's "an American film about Australia, for Americans".... rings true, just a little, after seeing the trailer.

See for yourself, if you haven't already. The worrying part is the cowboy-esque way Jackman's character comes across (that saloon-door shot is straight out of an American Western!). Drovers may be pretty much the same things as cowboys, but I don't think any Australian would imagine them behaving like one. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's worrying me (except those darn saloon doors!), but despite all the landscape, the indiginous boy, the locations... it just feels like an American trailer for another one of those "America saves the day" films.

Howver, I am still holding out hope. I have faith in Luhrmann's vision and the fact that he dedicates so much time and passion to making the film he want to make. Don't let me down, Baz!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Just quickly...

Noel and I watched the final DVD that Hayley lent to me - Closer. Don't ask me to review it because I still don't know what it was about. I mean, it told the story of two couples meeting, falling in love, faffing around, eventually finding their rightful place in the universe... but that doesn't quite seem to be its point, exactly. I'm sure they were aiming for something, but I don't know what that was. Great acting, though, and I'm beginning to think that you can never get too much Jude Law. Lovely chap, he is.


I made another little handbag, for one of Talitha's friends. I made this one differently and it turned out much nicer. Two handles, neater edges and a better job of the lining. Yay me. :)

Americans. Please. Do the right thing. We've ALL had enough of the crap. We're all watching you and we all need you guys to make the right choice, okay? Go vote! That is all.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Exciting day at my local

... playground, that is, not pub. "Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities" is filming for a few days in and around my town. Here's an article in the local paper. I stopped this morning at the playground, to sit and feed the boy, and had a bit of a stickybeak. The crew was setting up, the actors were drinking tea, the extras were standing around, as extras do. Richmond Park is a great old fashioned park, with picket fences, orginal grandstand and bandstand, and pretty garden beds... so I guess it's a good location for a 70's country town feel.

Matthew Newton wandered around looking very spiffy in a 70's suit, and Roy Billing (looking a fair bit older and wider than in that photo!) got all perplexed about something to do with wardrobe for the next scene. Lots of cast were wearing "Vote for Don" badges... which, now that I've looked it up, obviously refers to campaigner Donald Mackay, played by Andrew McFarlane.

Anyway, it was interesting to see a bit of the process going on, and it reminded me how much standing around goes on!

Monday, 27 October 2008


I've baked a few batches of these recently, and was waiting until I got them right before posting about them... but I don't think I'm going to, really, so here you go anyway. It's an American recipe for "Blondies" (a non-chocolate alternative to "brownies", both of which we in Australia would normally just call a "slice"). I found it here at Cookie Madness.

They look really good, and they have a great texture and taste, but I just can't get rid of this weird aftertaste in my mouth. Not so much an aftertaste, even, more a weird feeling, like strange invisible dry bits are stuck around my mouth. I don't know what it is - maybe I'm not browning the butter correctly, or not taking it out of the oven at the right moment... I don't know.

If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears... I really like these, apart from the weird mouth feeling!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bloody Shakespeare

I just came across this article in the SMH about the new Bell Shakespeare play Anatomy Titus Fall Of Rome. It sounds (and looks!) fabulous, and if I wasn't broke and was more able to get out at night, I would be there.

It's a play written by German playwright Heiner Muller, based on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, and it seems to take both Shakespeare and war really seriously. I love Shakespeare - and I hate war - and it's been so long since I've seen any, live in a theatre. I especially love when companies successfully take the text of Shakespeare and set it in a relevant modern perspective.

Ah, I really feel the need now to ramble on for ages about the glorious-ness of Shakespeare's poetry and stories. However, I have neither the time nor the energy for that. Another time, perhaps.

Friday, 24 October 2008

She's an *Artist*

I have to admit, I only believe the answers to this type of quiz when they tell me what I want to hear... (bugger, I lost the proper code for the answer, it's a quiz on one of those quiz sites)

"Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...
12% Logical, 41% Spatial, 41% Linguistic, 29% Intrapersonal, 24% Interpersonal, 14% Musical, 25% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 41% Naturalistic!
"This area has to do with vision and spatial judgment. People with strong visual-spatial intelligence are typically very good at visualizing and mentally manipulating objects. They have a strong visual memory and are often artistically inclined. Those with visual-spatial intelligence also generally have a very good sense of direction and may also have very good hand-eye coordination, although this is normally seen as a characteristic of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
Careers which suit those with this intelligence include artists, engineers, and architects."

In other artsy-fartsy news, here are a few random photos I've taken recently:

Sunday, 19 October 2008

A little more sewing

Just a quick share.... I finally got this little handbag done. It's a present for a little friend's 3rd birthday... which was over a month ago! Better late than never, I suppose. The girl in question has more clothes than all my family put together, I think, so I didn't want to make her clothes. I had no pattern for this so I just made it up as I went. It certainly wouldn't pass as a real handbag, but for a 3-year-old's pretty little something, it'll do nicely.

And another Lazy Days skirt using the free pattern from Oliver + S. Also for a birthday gift, for a 4-year-old girl. The party was yesterday, lunchtime, and I whipped this up first thing in the morning, with plenty of time to spare. The birthday girl was far more enamoured with the boxed gifts of plastic Doras and Princesses actually, but her mum was appreciative!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Some DVD/movie rambles...

I used to think Jack Black was just one of those weirdo comic guys who made a living out of being stupid. I knew he was a great musician, too, but... meh.

Recently, I've seen a few of his films and really enjoyed his performance. I mentioned Kung Fu Panda a while ago, and last weekend (I think? I'm so tired lately, I've been getting days mixed up!) I watched The Holiday, which Hayley lent to me - kind girl that she is, helping me with my to-watch list. :) And right now, King Kong is playing on TV. I was watching it for a while and was surprised by Black's great characterisation, but the commercials started to annoy the whatsit outta me. I'll just rent it to watch properly sometime.

I really really enjoyed The Holiday. Not just Jack Black; all of the lead actors were interesting and truthful and just very good. (I really wouldn't make a good film reviewer, would I? Yeah, this film was...good...) I loved Jude Law's performance in particular - well, I must admit I just rather loved his character... sexy young single dad who plays in fairy tents with his daughters, what's not to love? Kate Winslet was her usual beautiful, complicated, "ballsy" woman - and when I say 'her usual', I don't mean that in a bad way at all. If I ever see her playing a boring, predictable Pretty Girl I will be very disappointed. Cameron Diaz surpised me actually; I don't usually like her in films all that much. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps I just have an image of her as the stereotypical skinny Hollywood girl, but anyway, in this I thought she really shone. I believed her more than I have before.

Hmmm... what else have I watched lately... Girl With a Pearl Earring, again thanks to Hayely, with Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. Both very pleasant people too look at, no? Very nice, too, to watch them get all flirty and close-but-distant and almost naughty. It was a nice film, but I did like the atmosphere and dynamic between those two more than the actual storyline. It would be nice to see a bit more of this slightly more meaningful work from Johansson, rather than the often shallow and teeny-bopper-friendly stuff she does.

I just checked my To-Watch List, thinking I could tick off Pearl Earring (but it's not actually on the list. Oh well.), and realised I haven't watched any of the films on it yet. What a slacker! However, I do have Closer in my possession (Hayley again!), so will be able to tick that off sometime soon.

Gosh I'm tired. And I haven't even started work for the day. Tsk tsk.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What the...

Anyone who knows me even vaguely knows that I adore Johnny Depp. I see myself as quite a devoted fan, I think I know him fairly well. I love his acting, his personality, his generosity and his eccentricities. So today, after reading reports from Disney's big production announcement day, I feel like I'm in the twilight zone.

Firstly, Johnny's playing the Mad Hatter in Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Yep, heard the goss about it, and that's not surprising.

2nd, there will be a Pirates 4 and Johnny's signed on. It doesn't surprise me that Disney would do it, but it does kinda confuse me that Johnny will. An awful lot of people have had enough of Captain Jack... and I guess we just never expected Johnny to do so much of the same character. So yes, I'm baffled. He is one to surprise us, but now he seems to be surprising us by NOT surprising us... which, hold on, sounds awfully Captain Jack-esque, doesn't it...

3rd, The Lone Ranger. Johnny will play Tonto, the native American sidekick. Whoa! There's one out of left field! I don't know about in the US, but here, the Lone Ranger is an old character that people make fun of. Like, we laugh AT him, not WITH him, and that is exactly all of the information I know about him.

I adore the idea of Johnny playing a native American again (as he did in The Brave), and from all reports this is going to be a pretty grown-up take on the Lone Ranger. I do feel sure that it'll be fabulous, but wow, what a bit of randomness.

4th, and the most surprising to me, Johnny appeared at the announcement with Disney boss Dick Cook, dressed as Jack Sparrow, with a Lone Ranger feather in his bandana. I don't even have words for how weird that is.

I imagine Johnny's heading in more of a "big studio movie" direction because it means he can be home in LA more, seeing the children more, and making films they can appreciate. Plus, Vanessa and their kids mean the world to him, and as someone suggested on a Johnny forum I was reading, privacy costs A LOT of money for "celebrities" these days... so why not whip out some box-office hits to please all the new fans he's aquired since Pirates? He's worked bloody hard for over 20 years to get where he is now, he's got the clout and the money to make whatever choices he desires.

It's just Johnny doing what he does best.
"I don't pretend to be Captain Weird. I just do what I do. "

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lookit, lookit!

My Beryl (3 years old) was shopping with me a while ago and picked out this pink fabric, requesting that I make her a skirt. I took it home with the best of intentions, but just didn't get around to doing it.

So, while both girls were away at Nan's last week I thought I'd make the time to get it done. In the interests of peaceful sibling co-existence, I thought I'd better make one for Talitha, too, so I called and ask what colour she'd like. "Rainbow, mum." But of course! The spotty fabric was the closest thing to rainbow I could find.

These skirts are super-easy and quick to make (hooray!). I used the free pattern from Oliver + S, which I discovered a few weeks back when Amanda Soule, whose crafty/family blog is the best thing ever, made a whole bunch of them for her little girl. Thanks so much Oliver + S, and Amanda Soule, for the great inspiration and help!

The two skirts took me a couple of hours, with interruptions from the two males of the house. The most fabulous thing is the way the hem is done with a length of ribbon, so it turns out very neat and a little bit special-looking. I think my waistbands are a tad dodgy, but overall they look pretty nice to me. My girlies were very pleased with them, so that's good enough.

It really pleases me to dress my children in clothes I've made them myself. It's one of those things that really makes me feel like a proper mum. Which is a nice way to feel. :)

Friday, 10 October 2008

Chomp, chomp!

My girls are staying at my mum's place, for a holiday, so Noel and I (and Charlie!) had a bit of a date last night. We checked out the new Malaysian restaurant down the street and ate satay chicken skewers, nasi goreng, and sizzling something-or-other beef, all of which was completely delicious. We shall definitely return.

And so, what better way to finish off a romantic date than to watch a movie about modern-day vagina dentata, complete with cringe-inducing sexual moments and gratuitous bleeding penises? Oh okay, there probably are better ways, but anyway...


I'd read lots of interesting reviews of this film from US film blogs, so was intrigued. Noel, well... once he heard there was a film about a tooth-encrusted vagina chomping its way through blokes' bits, he just had to see it. But of course!

It's a decent bit of entertainment, actually. The characters are well-drawn with quite enough (perhaps almost too much) background. Dawn is a devoted Christian teenager, dedicated to purity, who has never so much as touched herself. She has a similarly devoted group of friends, until the boy she fancies reveals that maybe he's not so much into the chastity thing... at which point we learn, in a charming, ahem, disgusting way, that Dawn has teeth. And (cue scary music) chaotic, painful shenanigans commence. The plot kinda loses itself once the chaos begins, unfortunately, but there's enough gore, suspense and hilarity to keep it plenty interesting.

The acting was mostly pretty impressive. The standout performance, I thought, was John Hensley as Brad, the rebellious stepbrother. His characterisation was right there. Not at all self-conscious or hesitant in his performance. Jess Weixler, as Dawn, was a good solid lead, too. She did a good job of playing the self-righteous goody-two-shoes without overdoing it.

Anyway. This film definitely wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. There are some pretty graphic gory shots, although it does tend to fall into comedy at those moments which lightens it up a little.


My gripe for the day - why oh why do "Behind the Scenes" docos on DVDs hardly show anything that could actually be classified as Behind The Scenes? Hmmm? I'm so sick and tired of watching the same old interviews with cast and crew, explaining over and over the exact things we've just watched in the film! I don't need, or want, to hear the plot, characters, or setting of the film - I just watched it. When I click on the intriguing little title in the menu "Behind the Scenes" I really do want to see some behind-the-scenes footage. People setting up shots. Actors being made up. Gruesome makeup being applied. Directors discussing a shot with camera operators. Okay? Okay, thank you.


Thursday, 9 October 2008

Happy squishy-ness

Okay, my face may or may not be streaked with tears right now, but if it is, it's all Connor's fault. I followed his link to this beautiful video of people dancing all around the world.

I see things like this and I am boggled to think how any one group of people can ever think they are more clever or important or advanced or *good* than any other group. Humans, hey. We are wonderful, and we are rubbish. But we are all the same.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hey, photographers

Yes, Hayley, I'm looking squarely at you.

How do a take a photo where the tree looks like this:

but the sky looks like this:
Is it possible?

I'm rather fond of that 2nd one, actually, but it would be nice if the tree was just a little more detailed.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Caramel Banana Cake

Clearly, I am insane. After complaining about the heat on Friday (it got to 32C in the house before I cranked up the air con), I turned on the oven, and the girls and I did some baking. Yes, insane - but I had a few bananas that were really going to be beyond useable if I left them any longer, so banana cake just had to be the order of the day.

This recipe's from a 1987 "Cakes and Slices Cookbook".... which I just realised is also an Australian Women's Weekly one - what would my kitchen be without the Australian Women's Weekly?

Here's the recipe - I used yoghurt because I didn't have any sour cream, and it turned out a successful, moist cake, but the cream would make it much better I think.

Caramel Banana Cake
125g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp bi-carb soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbs milk

Grease a loaf pan. Heat oven to 180C.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl, then beat in eggs one at a time.
Transfer to large bowl. Stir in banana. Stir in sifted dry ingredients with half the combined cream and milk, then stir in remaining halves. Stir until smooth.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour, stand 5 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.

Caramel Icing
60g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs sour cream
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Melt butter and sugar in saucepan. Stir constantly over heat without boiling for 2 minutes. Add sour cream, bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar.

NB: You need to work quickly with the icing and get the cake covered before it cools too much because it goes sticky and clumpy when it cools. Also, it is disgustingly sweet, and even I, with my very sweet tooth and ability to guzzle sugary treats with joyous abandon, can't eat as much of this icing as I normally would.

(Sorry about this crappy photo. The light in my kitchen is dodgy and my dining table was covered in piles of laundry. Talitha (5) took the first two photos; evidently she's the photographer today!)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Choc-coated Wholemeal Cookies

Okay, firstly, this is ridiculous. It's early October, it's not even midday, and it's 29 degrees C in the middle of my house. I am far too tired for this kind of heat right now.

Well, at least 2 people want the recipe for those cookies , so I suppose I should post it! Like I said, it's from the Australian Women's Weekly book "Cookies". Have a look for it if you love cookies, it's packed with great cookies and biscuits, some healthy and lots... well, not. I'll post the original recipe and add the changes I made in parentheses.

Wholemeal Rosemary Butter Rounds
125g butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups wholemeal self-raising flour (I used 2/3 cup white self-raising and 2/3 cup wholemeal plain flour)
1 cup walnuts (I didn't have any so I used some crushed peanuts and some hazelnut meal)
2/3 cup raisins, halved (I used sultanas - halving them isn't as tedious as it first sounds!)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (I left this out)
1/3 cup orange juice
2/3 desiccated coconut (I used shredded)
2/3 cup rolled oats (I just plain forgot to put these in and it still worked fine!)

Preheat oven to 180 C / 160 fanforced. Line baking trays with baking paper.
Beat butter, rind and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until combined. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in flour, then remaining ingredients.
Roll rounded tablespoons of mixture into balls, place about 5cm apart on oven trays; flatten slightly. Bake about 15 minutes. Cool on trays.

Makes about 30.

To add chocolate coating: Melt 100g dark chocolate of your choice (I recommened Maya Gold of course!). When biscuits are cool, use a flat knife to spread chocolate on the underside of each cookie. Place in refrigerator until set. Store somewhere cool... move to Tasmania, perhaps, to keep yourself cool, too...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Better Cookies

I grabbed myself a block of (slavery-free) Maya Gold chocolate, and set about finding a cookie recipe with which it would be a good match. I didn't quite find one, but I adapted the Wholemeal Rosemary Butter Rounds from my Australian Women's Weekly "Cookies" (excellent boook! I also have the one called Chocolate. My kind of cookbooks). It includes orange zest & juice so I figured, without the rosemary, it was a perfect match for the orangey, spicy chocolate.

The cookies are quite busy, actually, with wholemeal flour (though I used half white), nuts, coconut, raisins, oats, plus the zest and juice. Awfully healthy-sounding, yes? So the dark chocolate was an exellent addition. The 100g block, minus two pieces promised to the girls, was just enough to coat 30 cookies.

I was quite pleased with myself when I tasted how well they turned out. If anyone wants the exact recipe, I can post it for you.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Ah dear.

I know I haven't posted for aaages again, sorry. It's because, you see, I had this post all planned out for the Friday before last, which was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, involving lots of Captain Jack Sparrow... and then I didn't get a chance to watch Pirates of the Caribbean to help me write the post and so I didn't have it ready and so... it didn't happen. And then everytime I thought of catching up on here I remembered that post and remembered how it wasn't done and I felt bad about it and really still wanted to post it anyway but then it just got far too late to bother and....

... and now you have a little glimpse into how my whacko brain operates sometimes!

I still will get around to that Pirates/ Captain Jack post, and one just detailing the reasons I love Johnny himself, sometime soon. Just thought I'd let you know I'm still around, meanwhile.


I made some great choc-chip cookies a couple of days ago, and my goodness they were good. But gosh, they totally messed with my head because I used Nestle choc-chips. Nestle (the company) makes me want to throw up because it's such a revolting selfish greedy exploitative company and I NEVER buy their products (Noel had bought these choc-chips). I buy organic fair trade chocolate like Scarborough Fair or Cocolo or Green & Blacks' Maya Gold. But anyway these Nestle ones were in the cupboard so I used them, and man I'm so annoyed about how good they tasted! I was stuffing myself with these scrummy bites of chocolate that people literally SLAVED away to produce. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Speaking of which, I just remembered about a good place to buy fair trade chocolate products for baking or just general eating purposes (no choc-chips but there is cocoa powder and raw cacao): Cacao Power


I took the kids to a free showing of Horton Hears a Who today at the library. What a good fun film. Gotta love Dr Suess.

A person's a person, no matter how small!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Treats for dinner again

Who needs real dinner, when you can have pancakes instead?

I had all the pancake-making fun to myself this time...

because the girlies were busy with their own mess...

Ah yes, the house was in need of a good clean up that night. Just the way a home should be.

Monday, 15 September 2008


My husband, with a whole bunch of my friends, is currently sitting in the State Theatre being fabulously and, no doubt, hysterically, entertained by the brilliant Bill Bailey. I am at home trying desperately to get a crazy bubba boy to sleep so that I can get some work done so that I can pay some flippin' bills next month....



I've been asked by an old college friend to help out on her short film in a couple of weeks' time but I'm going to have to say no. Because bubba boy is still just a bubba!

All the saying no and being home and not doing anything about a career is kinda getting me down lately. I need another one of those reminders that they're only small for such a short time, and I'm only young, and there's plenty of time for careers later...

And now he's staring up at me from his favourite cuddly spot, and you know what? I wouldn't give this up for all the careers in the world.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Anyone having a birthday party?

Because, oh my goodness, I need a reason to make this stunning chocolate layer cake with cream cheese frostings. Yes, frostings.

Or, someone could make it for me. Either way, I'm good.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Another delicious meal inspired by Chrissy...

I've linked you to the crazy culinary creator Chrissy before, I know. But seriously. Go to her blog and try some of that food. Oh my goodness, you will not be disappointed.
I had a night to myself last night (which means Noel was away; I still had three kids to feed but they are so much less fussy than him!) - and it was shopping day, so I took the opportunity to buy myself some nice ingredients and have a bit of a feast!
To begin, Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta. Noel wouldn't go near smoked salmon if you paid him... and as it turns out neither will the girls... but oh well, all the more for me me me! I just followed Chrissy's recipe there and added some boring button mushrooms (sorry love, the budget just doesn't stretch to fancy mushies when it's already stretching to smoked salmon!).
It really doesn't look all that pretty in the photo, does it? Trust me, it's good stuff.
For dessert, pudding! Self-Saucing Sticky Date Pud, to be precise.

Unfortunately mine didn't turn out as big and saucy as Chrissy's, perhaps because my dish was very shallow and wide. (I need to get me some better casserole/pudding/baking... ah, all sorts of dishes!) Nevertheless, this pudding was as delicious as big is big (to quote a children's book I've been reading lately). And the girls, who were "too full" to eat any smoked salmon with their pasta, wolfed it down in about 3 seconds flat.

Oh yes, it was good.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Some weekend films

My Noel, darling man that he is, is a bit of a nut. Those of you who know him will cheerily agree with me - but you won't get away with saying it, like I can.

Anyway, he likes to hire a few DVDs at a time, because our local place has special deals where it's cheaper to rent 3 new releases plus a couple of weekly ones. The problem is, he always gets 3 overnight ones, and always M or M15 rated films. So, we have to watch three movies in one night, or else try to occupy the (movie-loving) children so that we can watch a couple during the day without them seeing anything too grown-up.


This weekend it was Vantage Point , The Bucket List , and Jumper.

So memorable was Jumper that I racked my brains this afternoon trying to think of the 3rd film we watched, then finally asked my B, who remembered "the boy who fell in the water!" I suppose you could say it's hard to remember a film when you see two on an otherwise busy day... but nah, it's just not that memorable. The characters were a bit blah, and several of them kept making decisions that just didn't make sense in their established persona. The scenario of the conflict (a war between "jumpers" and people called, I think, "paladin") wasn't set up well enough for me to grasp what the bell was going on.
It was a very interesting concept, though, and I quite enjoyed the first part where the young bloke figured out his nifty ability to teleport himself wherever he fancied... but after the fun of that wore off, the blah set in.
Oh, and NOT good to watch while curious little girls hover about asking questions about people dying and guns and such...

The Bucket List was all lovely and feel-good and Nice. Jack Nicholson kinda freaks me out (how does he DO that?) but he is, of course, brilliant. And whatshisname... Morgan Freeman... I always forget his name... is, too. It was actually really refreshing to see the portrayal of a relationship between two older men. I do get pretty peeved at the general stereotype of men as macho, distant, unemotional types. It's nice to see something different - whaddya know, it isn't only young women who have friends to be there for each other and laugh and do stuff together! Well done, Hollywood.

Vantage Point was another awful choice to watch during the day with the kids up. However, the main comments we got was "why is he doing that again?" and "ooh she's getting ANOTHER ice cream!", as the events kept replaying from the various points of view. Noel got a bit annoyed with the repetition but I really enjoyed it. I liked the suspense-but-not of knowing what was about to happen but trying to figure out more of how or why it was going to happen. I was completely hopeless at any of the figuring, but I enjoyed trying nonetheless. :) And I was completely tricked - as I always am by tricky twisty plots.

That's been it of late. I have been watching far fewer DVDs because I work on the computer in the evenings now (I'm working as an online researcher for the UK service Any Questions Answered), which totally eats up all my movie time. Such is life.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


Dontcha hate it when bloggers don't blog as often as you want them to?

A comment from Sarah made me realise how long it's been since I last posted anything - sorry! And thanks, Sarah, for the reminder!

I've been cooking and sewing and doing various bits & pieces that I've been meaning to blog about but, gosh I'm tired lately! So, it never happens.

I have a quiet day tomorrow so I'll try (really!) to get a bit caught up.

Friday, 22 August 2008


I was all set to write a post about how lovely the weather is lately and how I'm enjoying watching the flowers beginning the bloom and the trees coming back to life... and then it turned freezing cold and poured with rain just when we had to walk to the post office today. Just as well the girls love their boots and umbrellas!
Ah well, the fresh blooms are still pretty when they're wet!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A Spot of Afternoon Tea

I had a troop of (well, three) kindy kids coming round for an after-school visit, plus their mums and younger siblings*, so needed something good-looking enough for the kids and impressive enough for the mums!

I reckon these banana cupcakes did just fine. I had three bananas becoming blacker and blacker on my kitchen bench and finally got around to using them. Mmmmm, sticky-sweet, gooey, brownish banana-mush...

Any old banana cake recipe does the trick, and I just used plain butter icing (though lemon is always nice too). And my B chose the sprinkles to help make them look boo-ti-ful:

*I do not recommend this. Especially on a Friday afternoon. If you must invite more than one friend around, make sure you know the kids and mums, so that you know they're not likely to throw rocks, break doors, and generally act like crazymen let out of prison...

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Most Australia Ven!

At our house at the moment, thanks to the Olympics, it's all about the national anthem (aka Australia Flag Song!). Here's B's version (with a little help from Miss T):

Australians all in arly choice,
For we are young and free,
With golden soil we sing to choice,
Our land is good by sea...
Our land is all in arly choice
For we are young and free...
In histy page in arly stage,
A most Australia Ven!
In joy for 'stralia let us sing,
A most Australia Ven!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Just read a beautiful script.

I received an email from a lovely fella from the Sydney International Film School, asking me to audition for his short film. I had a read of the script and it's beautiful! A thoughtful and mostly visual religious theme ending with a very thought-provoking image.

My little C is still such a bubba, though, and I wouldn't leave him for the three whole days it will take to film. So, I had to tell him I can't audition this time. Hopefully this little bit of attention I've been getting in the last few months will continue when Bubba Boy is old enough for mumma-free time!

Monday, 11 August 2008

More light play

Noel took the girls to work with him on Saturday, giving me some time alone with the small boy. I got some work done in the morning (I have a job working from home! More about that later.), then took advantage of the mild sunny day to get some exercise and fresh air. Ah, the simple pleasures in life...

Charlie fell asleep in the pram... well no, he didn't fall asleep in the pram, pigs might fly, but I fed him to sleep and he stayed asleep when I put him down which is the good bit... so I grabbed my chance to whip out the camera and play around.

This was a beautiful stark winter tree. Shots of the whole tree turned out boringly ordinary, but I liked a few of my close-ups.

I love how this tap turned out blue-ish. It didn't look blue at all in real life...

I mentioned in the comments of my previous photography post how much I like over-exposed images in photography. This next one definitely falls into that category and I love it. I think it looks like either a painting, or a really old film photograph.

I couldn't quite get the lighting right in this one because, well, there was a tree in the way! So, just imagine that the lower seed pod is a little brighter and the higher one is a little darker...

This one is also boringly ordinary... but i just wanted to show off the beautiful blossom trees I see everywhere 'round here...

Best Roast Lamb Ever.

Huge thanks to the gorgeous and inspiring Chrissy of You'll Eat It And Like It for posting this amazing recipe for a delicious "legga" (as she calls it).

Our neighbour, friendly and generous girl that she is, gave us a leg of lamb that she didn't have room in the freezer for. What a fabulous gift, hey! So yesterday I invited her 'round to help us eat it.

I've never cooked a proper lamb leg before (only those roll roast things and they never turned out very well anyway), and I prefer my meat *really* well roasted, until it's tender and falling apart, so I thought Chrissy's Greek-style legga sounded perfect and easy.

I didn't have any oregano as called for. I only had parsely, basil and coriander, and I don't know much about herbs so I just decided in my random way that coriander seemed like a better match than those other two. On it went with the lemon, salt, pepper and lots of butter...

Really, there can never be too much butter!

Into the oven for hours and hours.... yum yum yum. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the done deal! The house was a tad chaotic when I was serving up, and then we all tucked into it quick-smart.

By golly it was good. When I started to cut into it I thought I'd just about die with foodie pleasure. It was SO tender and juicy and just fell apart under the knife. We stuffed ourselves and then Noel and I kept going back to pinch the extra bits off the bone (our neighbour was too polite for that!).

I see many more lamb roasts in my future...

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Do English people ever ponder the insanity of their historical monarchs?

I just watched The Other Boleyn Girl. It's a very good film - I was particularly impressed with Scarlett Johansson, whose acting I haven't seen much of before. I'm just having a bit of a boggle, though, over the frequency and nonchalance with which they used to chop one another's heads off.

It's a wonder the monarchy has survived at all, really.

Proper review coming tomorrow perhaps...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Milky goodness

This blog is about creative stuff, right? Well, what could be more creative than making, storing, and supplying all the food my bubba needs to thrive? Creative, in the purest sense of the word. Quite brilliant, I reckon. Almost as brilliant as creating the bubs in the first place!

Talitha feeding bunny while I feed Beryl.
It's World Breastfeeding Week, as I was just reminded in this post by the very talented Kate at Picklebums. I actually have a badge that says "I make milk - what's your super power?". I really should find it and wear it this week.

Beryl getting the very best party food!

Charlie's another booby-loving bubba.

So there you go. Now you know that I will definitely never be one of those movie stars desired for her cleavage more than her talent - so let's hope I have enough talent! :-)


The cake was good, but not spectacular. Moist and moreish, but to be honest I was expecting more from those lovely passionfruit. Ah well, it fed and pleased everyone, and that's what counts. :-)

Monday, 4 August 2008

Apple Passionfruit Cake

This cake was inspired by my friend Hayley the Crazy Baking Girl. I pretty much followed the recipe she used there, but I used self-raising flour instead of the flour plus baking powder and salt, and I used Granny Smiths rather than Pink Lady apples.

I also added some passionfruit I'd collected the day before that were just begging to be used in something scrumptious. We love our passionfruit vines, and there's not much nicer than using food from your own garden to add a bit of extra meaning to your baking.

I had four HUGE Grannies so I cut myself a heap of circles to arrange on the top rather than try to mix them all into the batter. Just look at the appley goodness:

I have to admit here than I broke the cardinal rule of cake-baking by taking it out of the oven halfway through the cooking time to drizzle the passionfruit pulp on top. It didn't completely kill the poor cake, but it did mean the cake took a lot longer than it should have.

In the picture the passionfruit seeds on top look scorched, but they actually seem to have stayed quite tender and sweet despite that. If I do this again, though, I'll probably abandon the idea of trying to bake the pulp on top and just drizzle it over once the baking's done.

The cake is waiting patiently on the bench for when my mum visits tomorrow... I'll be sure to let you know how it tastes...