Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Picture books for grown-ups...

My neighbour has all sorts of wonderful books which she kindly lends to me.  Today she dropped over some lovely books - what I call "grown up picture books"...

While I'm sure my neighbour has gained inspiration from these books I think she also has "the gift" when it comes to knowing what looks good.  Her house was featured in one of the Australian Country magazines a couple of years ago and her garden is full of surprises.

So I think I'll go and put the kettle on and settle down with one of these "grown-up picture books" and fingers crossed I might pick up a few ideas.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Rescue" by Anita Shreve

"Rescue" is finished....yay for me!!!

Can't say too much about it as one of our bookclub rules is that we aren't allowed to discuss the book before our get together.  Sometimes we do break that rule tho...

Let me just say it was good to read a story that was nice and simple.  I didn't need to keep turning back to refresh my memory about which character was doing what and neither did I have to read a whole lot of facts.  Looking forward to our get together and seeing what dessert Judy has made, oops I mean discussing the book.

Did you get any new books for Christmas?  One of my gifts was a book voucher, so I am looking forward to spending that.  I know it will be tricky because if you don't choose wisely you can't return it, but I'm up for the challenge....

Now to get one of those books finished that I've been reading forever...

PS We were lucky enough to have 2 toddlers to share Christmas day with this year.  Here is my 15 month old great nephew exploring my sister's Christmas tree..Christmas is so exciting with young children.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Time out....

Richard and I took some time out from all the Christmas "stuff" earlier in the week.

We went and walked around the magnificent Botanical Gardens in the heart of the city.

Didn't even attempt to hug this tree.

Being a tactile person I had to touch this to see that it really was prickly.

I've probably got room for a pond this big in the garden but what's my chances?

We had quiche, wedges and salad for lunch overlooking the water.

I love water features.  The best I've managed in our garden is a couple of bird baths
and a clam shell for the puppies to play in.

Hope you've had some time out too this week.
Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Mum's 80...

Last weekend we had the joy of celebrating my Mum's 80th birthday.

My niece organised an absolutely divine birthday cake for her. 

Fortunately there weren't 80 candles to light otherwise it would of needed more
 than my 2 sisters and I to get the job done.

Mum enjoyed the company of her old and new friends.  Her sister had surprised her earlier in the week from England and of course her daughters (except for the eldest who lives in England)
 and their families were there too.  Mum says she intends on being around for at least 20 more. 
I wonder how many additions there would be to our family in that time.

PS  I've made a spectacular start with the new book for the month.  I'm nearly half way through it.  The best things is that I want to get to the end to see what happens.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bookclub - "Committed"

Interesting book I chose for bookclub - not!  I finished it 5 minutes before the girls were due to arrive at my house for our monthly get together and that was with a bit of skim reading.

I kept picking it up to read so hoping that the "story" would start but Elizabeth Gilbert spent a lot of the book investigating the concept of marriage.  Some of the facts were really interesting but all I wanted was a good story and I wasn't alone.  One of us even said the book was a bit self indulgent by the author. Most of us finished it with very little time to spare, well except Judy who's still reading.

Having said that we all had turned down page corners to mark spots for the little gems that the book contained and we did manage to answer some of the discussion questions I had printed off from the internet.

I love this one, talking about having children:  "Yes, you lose a lot of your freedoms.  But as a mother, you gain a new kind of freedom as well - the freedom to love another human being unconditionally, with all your heart...." and then asking her mother about the best time of her life - "To be perfectly honest, the best part of my life began as soon as you kids grew up and left the house..."  At the end of a busy day with the boys, work and house I think I know what she means.

The best couple quote would have to be after Elizabeth and Felipe are at the end of their tether with each other and Felipe just says "Let's just be careful of what we say to each other for the next few hours...these are the times, when people get tired like this, that fights can happen.  Let's just chose our words very carefully until we find a place to rest."  So true, haven't we all said things that as soon as they leave our mouth we wish we could take them back.

In hindsight I don't think this book was a good choice for bookclub but more for a solo read.  I also think that if I'd read it at another time I may have enjoyed it more.

And what did we have for dessert?

A very yummy Cherry pavlova...

Next book is "Rescue" by Anita Shreve.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No words necessary...well maybe a couple.

This is my nephew's "office" today.

I think Mother Nature has forgotten which season we're in.

More thunderstorms to come tonight.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Empty nest

Just like this nest in the vine out the front, our house is empty this week.

Yesterday we were up at 4.45 am to get the boys to the school so they could travel to play in the National Schools Volleyball Cup.  Five buses of students left just after 6.30 to travel the 750km to Melbourne.

Unbelievable how quiet and empty the house feels. Beds have been stripped and all bedding washed and hung out to dry...although that may take awhile considering we keep having thunderstorms.

Not everyone coped well with the early morning start...finding it necessary to have a little nap in the afternoon.  Hope you're enjoyng the weekend.  I love thunder and rain so I'm as happy as a pig in mud.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thundery Thursday

Today was a wonderfully wet and thundery day.  I love listening to the thunder but someone who lives in our house doesn't....

Lulu isn't too keen on thunder and she tried lots of different spots to hide in but that thunder just kept on thundering.  Julius on the other hand...

was only concerned about finding someone to throw what's left of the ball.  All thoughts of thunder were momentarily forgotten when Darcy and Fudge from next door, who also dislike thunder, came over for a surprise visit.  They tried getting through the fence and under but kept getting stuck so Tom and I went and got them.

and yes Julius is still carrying his ball hoping that someone will play...  Now a little sunshine please to dry the washing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday

There are so many blogs I enjoy reading.  I've noticed that many do certain things on certain day e.g "White Wednesday" where they photograph white things and post them.  I've been trying to think of something for Wednesday too.  I did think "Wine Wednesday"  where I could road test a bottle of wine for you or "Whine Wednesday" where I could tell you my woes but I've decided on "Wonderful Wednesday"...So I walked around my garden for something to photograph and this is what I found...

My first zucchini flower on the first zucchini seedling to survive past 3 weeks in my garden.

The apple tree has little apples on it.  Last year we didn't harvest one apple from the tree.

The first flowers opening on the passionfruit vine.  Can you see the bee's bottom
just poking out?  His legs were covered in pollen.

And last but not least, the first harvest of peas.  Not many but yummy.

PS  I'm about a quarter of the way through "Committed"...mmm...not sure about it yet.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mission complete...

Every year for work I need to get 6 updating points so I can be accreditated for the next year.  Tomorrow is the last day for an online workshop that is compulsory this year and is also worth 3 points.  I've got 4 points already from other workshops I've been to this year and now finally I've finished the compulsory workshop too - with a day to spare!  That means all points accrued - yeah.

I'm a "last minute" person.  I try not to be but it just comes naturally...I used to think it happened after I had children, but upon reflection I can remember preparing accounts the day before a meeting, typing minutes up just before the next meeting (something I'm still guilty of), buying the birthday present on the way to the birthday party etc., way before children came along.  I do sometimes get my ahead of myself and finish work way before I have to.  I must admit that it does feel good and I feel like I'm then free to do whatever I want with the time I have spare.

So what will  I do with my one day spare this time - well obviously, blog and read more of  "Committed'.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A weekend with women

After spending last weekend with none of my girl friends I had the pleasure of their company yesterday.

I started the morning with cricket at Callington.

Callington is a small rural town about 20 minutes up the freeway from where I live.
A small cricket club who often rely on younger boys playing in the next age group so they can field a team.
They are also one of the only clubs who run a canteen for Saturday morning cricket.

I really enjoy watching the boys play cricket on Saturday.  I especially love playing cricket at Callington
because of the

Egg and bacon sandwiches

Kanmantoo bacon and free range eggs. Mmmmmm

Every so often a train rattles past on the tracks behind us - well the only exception so far has been when I took this photo!

I spent the some of the afternoon preparing and cooking the bbq for the club in the evening.  More time spent with girls...

and yes I am a messy cook...don't ask me how I got the back tiles covered in stuff...

and yes we had wine and bubbles to drink...and I know I'm not the best photographer in the world but maybe i'll blame the camera or maybe the bubbles...

The only thing missing, music, but that's only because the juke box ate my money.

PS by the time we went home it was dark...lovely day with lovely girls.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert

How could I not choose this book for my choice this month.  I did say I wasn't being original - I chose "eat, pray, love" when it came out. 

The funny thing is I didn't even know this book existed until yesterday - obviously the publicity machine isn't working too well in "the hills".  I researched so many books on Tuesday and Wednesday night as I really wanted a book with a Christmas theme but had no luck finding one that sounded ok and was available at the library.  I said to Richard before heading off to work that I was just going to walk into the bookshop and the first thing that grabbed me was "it".

So I headed off after work, stopped at the library to, surprise surprise, "return a book" and there it was in the "hot read section".  I was so excited - rushed over to the bookshop and right at the entrance was a whole display of them.  Had a quick read of the blurb and then rushed over to Target to see if they had the book cheaper - wahoo - $9 cheaper.  It was my lucky day.

I so enjoyed "eat, pray, love".  Haven't been able to watch the movie yet tho - not sure I quite saw Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert so that's been a bit of a block - maybe when it comes out on DVD.  Fingers crossed I enjoy "Comitted" too and more importantly "the bookclub girls" do as well. 

Now, I've got 4 weeks to plan dessert.

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend and think of me as I cook another BBQ for the cricket club this time with my girl friends helping and some bubbles.

PS  Our front cover for this book is prettier and more romantic looking than the one above.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh yes...

Oh yes...

"Marley and me" finished with 20 hours to spare

New book chosen with 5 hours to spare.

Bookclub tonight.  We're meeting at one of the local pubs for a change.  So we'll have some champagne, some chatting about the book, a little dessert with hot chocolate and then the reveal of the new book.  All I can say is, while it's a new release, I haven't been original....

? ? ? ? ? ?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh no...

2 more sleeps to bookclub and it's my turn pick the next book.

Oh no I haven't finished this book.

Oh no I haven't chosen the next book.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A womanless weekend

One of the best things about the weekend is catching up with my girl friends.  Doesn't matter what season it is, whether the boys are playing football, cricket or volleyball, I can always rely on catching up with one, two, three or more of the girls on the weekend.  All was looking good for the usual catch up and on top of that seeing another friend on Sunday for afternoon tea.  Wahoo!!!  Lots of girl stuff which is very exciting when you live with all males. Then... a 20/20 cricket carnival thing happened. 

As the Secretary/Treasurer for the local cricket club I thought I would do the "right thing" and volunteered to help Richard and another committee member in the canteen on Saturday.  Why not it was only one day... Well it started as soon as I got home from work on Friday - Richard in a bit of panic, local butcher had his phone off the hook, could I go down there and order the sausages.  Oh and while I was out could I get the serviettes, onions, sauce and soft drink.  I spent Saturday morning cutting up onions and then off to the butchers for the sausages and supermarket for bread.  Up to the cricket, helped set up the canteen, stocked the fridge, cooked, cut more onions, served... and then early afternoon all called off due to rain - great come back tomorrow. 

Back again Sunday and yes the sun shone so the boys managed to play all day.  Spent most of the day by myself as it wasn't that busy...tried to read more of "Marley and me" in between customers and cooking.  I think I managed about 20 pages.  Wasn't an overly exciting way to spend the weekend but didn't mind because that's what you do when you're part of a committee and made sense really as most of the committee were in the teams to play cricket.

What I really really really missed was seeing my friends. I spoke for about 10 minutes to one of the other mums but then had to go and cook more sausages, other than that the only other women I spoke with was about "onions or no onions" or "turn left for the toilet".  No girl friends, no chit chat, no afternoon tea with my friend just boys, balls and boxes...would I do it again...of course I'll just make sure I have some girl time lined up for the evening.

Oh and guess what, we won't be having sausages and onions for a very long time in this house.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Dreamer's Dictionary

I had one of those dreams last night.  You know the ones, where they are so real that when you wake up it takes awhile for you to realise that you have been asleep and dreaming. 

Some of the books on my bookcase belonged to other people but the oldest book I've got that I bought is "The Dreamer's Dictionary".  It's easily 25 years old and in my twenties I checked it after every dream.  Not only did I check it but my friends frequently called me to interpret their dreams.  "Hey if you're coming over bring your dream book, I had a great dream last night".  So my dream book and I became a twosome.  Every time I remembered my dream first thing I'd do in the morning is analyse it.  It has bought me comfort after a bad dream and many laughs.

Poor book doesn't get consulted much these days but I wouldn't part with it.  I've had others but this one is special...it doesn't have either cover, is yellowing with age and has got that old book smell and I love it.

Sweet dreams and you know where to come if you need to know what your dream means...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cooking books

We have 3 companies that deliver books to work, parents get to have a browse and purchase if they want.  Depending on sales, Kindergym gets to choose some books to the value of 10%, which we then put away for our raffle.

This is one of the best cook books I've bought from the book displays.  The recipes are sorted into sections:

breakfast and brunch
quick snacks
children's meals
marvelous melts
wonderful wraps
comfort food

This cook book is one that I've probably used the most out of all the cook books I've bought.   It has some great recipes but do you know why this book is worth every cent I paid for it?  It has one piece of advice that has saved me soooo much time and mess:

"Line an electric frying pan with baking paper and pour olive oil on top..."

That's all, just "line...with baking paper".  How simple is that?  So so so much easier when you're cooking schnitzel or anything that has a habit of sticking to the bottom of the pan - that just about covers all my cooking.  When you've finished cooking just pick up the baking paper and put it in the bin, the pan just needs a soapy wash, no scrubbing or soaking.  I did learn the hard way tho that you can't put baking paper under the grill - well unless you're 'flame" grilling something.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marley and Me

I've started reading the book for bookclub - "Marley and Me".  A friend told me to read it with tissues.  Just what I need, a book to make me cry, but then I thought about it and decided to get straight into it cause we all know that on a bad day even a sooky television commercial can make me cry. One sad moment already, but hey I was having a good day when I read it so no tears. 

We're lucky enough to share our lives with 2 puppies - Julius and Lulu.

Julius the Blue Heeler X

Lulu the Kelpie/Doberman X

Julius was 8 months and Lulu 3 months when we bought then from the Animal Shelter in April.  Julius had been hit around by his previous owners so is terrified when visitors come to the house or if we go for a walk and there are lots of people around.  Lulu would just like to love everyone.  We've been having visits from a dog trainer to help us help Julius with his behaviour when people to visit.

Lulu loves to steal toilet rolls and they have ripping good fun.

And just like Marley, they've grown...

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Beauty Mirror

I'm the youngest of 4 girls.  There's 7, 10 and 12 years difference between me and my sisters.  So while I had sisters I didn't get to do the "sister thing" really until I was older and the age gap wasn't so noticeable.  I did get to hang around them alot, tho I think not always their choice and I can remember a few bedroom doors shutting in my face.  Sister number 1 got to take me as a 4 year old on her dates with her boyfriend (now husband).  My brother-in-law said I would whinge to go with them and then whinge to go home...lucky them.

I remember when sister number 2 got a trendy hair cut when I was 11.  I know I said it looked nice but having her cut my hair in the same style wasn't really the best of ideas.  I went from having long hair in pigtails to short hair with wispy bits around the nape of my neck.  Of course the boys at school took about 5 seconds to give me a new nickname "Coconut Head".

Sister number 3 had the joy of sharing a bedroom with me until number 2 got married.  I hated sleeping in my own room and use to creep into hers and hide.  Sister number 3 also had to supervise me after school.  I've heard many times what a pain I was - I don't remember being painful so obviously it didn't happen.

But let's get onto the "Beauty mirror"...  Sister number 1 had a special mirror.  It had 3 light settings - normal, day and night, each light gave you a different perception of your skin and helped you do your make-up to suit the occasion.  I loved the "normal' setting - it showed up every bit on your skin and if you turned the mirror to the other side it enlarged your face, just what you needed when you plucked your eyebrows.  I haven't thought about the mirror for years until Wednesday when by some fluke of light my bathroom mirror became that beauty mirror of my sisters.  Unfortunately it wasn't the soft 'night' light but on normal and the enlarged side.  It was a not so gentle reminder that the picture of me in my head doesn't quite match the picture in the mirror.  Where did those 'grandma' hairs come from, when did my skin get blotchy and lines - who drew those????  It did force me to have a serious chat to the boys...I'm not fussed if I need to go to a nursing home when I get older but they must make sure that someone plucks those 'grandma' hairs off my face when I can no longer do it myself. Will they remember?  Fingers crossed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bookclub - "The Slap"

We had bookclub last night at M's house.  Sadly I missed the first part of the get together - taking minutes at a cricket meeting while standing up at the cricket nets!  In fact I missed most of the chatter about the book - got in a couple of comments tho. 

Bookclub really is the highlight of the month for me.  While we are different in many ways we all blend together, a bit like the ingredients in a fantastic dessert.   Although the dessert's not quite the same if one ingredient is missing.

M made a chocolate cake for dessert - served with cream.  It was divine in it's simplicity. No fussiness just beautiful, light and fresh.

After dessert and a cuppa V unveiled the next book - "Marley and Me" by John Grogan.  It's always a bonus when you haven't read the book before nor have I seen the movie.

I'm looking forward to reading it as we have 2 puppies who are forever up to mischief but also bring us a lot of love and joy.

Hope you all get to eat a divine piece of cake this weekend.

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