“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Muffins Grooming at Dog Diversity

I certainly set myself a challenge yesterday, but little did I realise that the challenge would be so immense. I know to drive through the city shouldn't have been an issue, especially when you rely on the sat nav to guide you. They can be invaluable - well, that is until they get confused and keep changing their minds....{is that possible? ....machines changing their minds?}
Anyway, after rerouting I didn't really go wrong but it was a little hairy at times. Its not ideal for example when the sat nav tells you to turn right when your in the middle lane with two huge trucks either side of you.
I think Muffy picked up my stress vibes because the trip was taking way longer than our usual visit to the parks or oval. She knew something was afoot. But we finally got to our destination.
Much relief all round I can tell you.....Muffin was a little nervous especially when she realised I was going to perform the procedure! My course tutor was so patient and took showed me each step meticulously explaining what was needed and how to complete each cut, clip, comb and snip!  And I did all the cutting....eek!


Once you complete the course they give you a DVD of the step by step guide to Do-It-Yourself dog grooming, so that you always have a reference if you forget any of the techniques. I also felt so confident (that's thanks to my tutor) that I bought these scissors. They have little teeth so you can cut without making steps in the coat - not a good look whatever the breed.

Here's my tutor....{if you read this then I apologise for not using your name - I remember it sort of rhymed with Neesie. Just let me know and I'll amend the post to show your name : D }



The other little pooch with the Mohican's hairstyle is 'Fritzel'. Again I hope I've got this little chaps name right. 
Can you believe that he came from the same puppy farm as  Oscar  He's so cute and obviously will have a much happier life now.
I realised that I was actually holding my breath with each cut and snip of the scissors, so no wonder I was shattered as we came to something like a shih tzu puppy cut. I couldn't believe that we had been so engrossed for nearly two and a half hours! At this stage I had Muffin resting her head on my arms and desperate for a snooze.  
We had such fun though (well I'm not sure about Muffin but I did) and my tutor even produced Muffin ribbons showing me how to make the little bows. Muffin is modelling them above. How cute is that?

I love this logo....

If your interested in learning to groom your own pet take a look at Dog Diversity

As we were heavily involved with the technical details of not having Muffin look like a dogs dinner or been clipped with a knife and fork (down to my inexperience and nothing to do with the course) the sky's darkened and the heavens opened. Was it Divine intervention....I shouldn't meddle in things that other's are quite capable of doing without my input....no it was one of the worse storms that Melbourne has experienced this year. Poor Muffy....as if she wasn't suffering enough already.
We had to make a dash for the car with the rain lashing down and thunder and lightening flashing across the sky. As your probably aware dogs aren't too happy in thunderstorms and Muffin is no exception. I had to put the radio on loud each time there was a flash and talked the whole way back to try and calm her.
It was a terrible drive back home with gridlock rush hour traffic and floods everywhere. Some of the underpasses where so deep in water that four wheel cars where making bow waves which were a worry. I'm not sure my car can swim! :{
I have never been so glad to get home and I'm sure Muffin felt the same.

Muffy crashed into her bed as soon as we got into the house and didn't want to show off her new look.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Simple Woman's Day book....


















Outside my window...
The sun is shining through the branches of the large tree. We're supposed to have rain today but the sky is clear but there's a strong wind blowing so maybe that will bring the clouds later.
This is a lovely bedroom to wake up in due to its position - if the suns up it shines in and starts the day with all sorts of possibilities.


I am thinking...
This is the first time I'm trying this Simple Woman's Day book and I'm not sure I'm doing it right. I like the idea so hopefully it will work. Here's a link if you'd like to try creating your own or just to read so more Simple Woman

I am thankful...
For my health today. I've had few issues over the last few years but it seems that I've now got myself in a better frame of mind plus the wonders of the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies have me on track. What wonders modern medicine can perform.

In the kitchen...
There's no baking, so what have I been doing with all my time?

I am wearing...
My PJ's and robe with a dunna (duvet) as an accessory. I really must get up and start the day. There's so much planned.

I am creating...
Absolutely nothing and that's something I need to sort. I keep trying to get back to my painting but there always seems to be something else to take the time.

I am going...
I've made an appointment for a special class today. Its a grooming course so that I will be able to groom Muffin myself. Eek! I know heaven knows what she'll look like but the course tutors advise me that they'll let me lose under instruction but they can always tidy up at the end if necessary. There may well be material for a future post here.

I am wondering...
If I'll be able to find the place for my course today. Never fear, I have my sat.nav. so I'll plug myself in a follow the instructions. It's always kept me right previously so I have great faith.
What a brilliant techy invention it is....especially for woman.

 I am reading...
Empty Cradles (Oranges and Sunshine) by Margaret Humphreys.

In 1986 Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker, investigates a woman's claim that, aged four, she had been put on a boat to Australia by the British Government. First incredulous, Margaret discovered that this was just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Up to 150,000 children, some as young as three years old, had been deported from children's homes in Britain and shipped off to a 'new life' in distant parts of the Empire, right up until as recently as 1970. Many were told that their parents were dead, and parents were told that their children had been adopted. In fact, for many children it was to be a life of horrendous physical and sexual abuse far away from everything they knew. Margaret and her team, reunited thousands of families before it was too late, brought authorities to account, and worldwide attention to an outrageous miscarriage of justice.
It has been an incredible read....and one which has really brought home to me the stark contrast to my experience coming here. My OH actually came as a 10 pound pom back in the 60's and to think that on the same ship that he was travelling there may well have been some of these children!

I am hoping...
That my OH's survival training goes well today and he arrives back in one piece. He's done this training so many times over the years but its always good when the box is ticked and he's back safe and dry.

I am looking forward to...
Christmas so much because my daughter is coming to visit....WHOOHOO. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

I am hearing...
My laptop whirring away with the tip tap of my fingers flying across the keys {I really shouldn't be here now}
The wind rattling the windows and flapping of the shutters. It really is gusty out there.
Muffin's incredibly loud snoring especially from such a little toot. I'm always amazed at how loud she can be especially after sleeping all night. She's still content to stay curled up for now...until she hears me going into the kitchen.
And finally my son's bathroom door - phewph...he really needs to get moving if he doesn't want to be late.

Around the house...
Hopefully my sunglasses which I've misplaced. I've looked but they're hiding so well. I'm just hoping that they're here somewhere and not left in some shop or cafe.

I am pondering...
There's a quite a few family members and friends that are on my mind at the moment for various reasons.

One of my favorite things...
Hmm....this is a hard one and I'd like to give it more thought...but I'm self-conbusting here all wrapped up so
it would have to be either my books or the collection of old family photographs. Oops that's two isn't it. Oh well, I'll give it more thought next time.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Contact some of my friends that I've been promising to ring since last week.
Finish off cutting the lawns and tidying the garden. Plus plant some more veggies and flowers.
Some baking...I've got so many recipes still not done and the list just keeps growing.
Get organised for Zac coming to stay ie try to block up any openings to the pool. I'm not too sure how he'll react to the water so won't be able to keep my eyes off him.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


Muffin before she's clipped by me....poor thing :-{

Crêpe Recipe.....

I thought Masterchef would inspire me and true to form, I seem to be constantly thinking about recipes at the moment.
I had an abundance of milk at the weekend, so requests for milkshakes and crêpes came flooding in from my OH and son. I did intend to take photo's to accompany this post, but unfortunately no-one would comply with my requests to be arty and in their words 'mess about'....they just wanted to eat them! I whisked about one and a half litres of milkshake, but it still disappeared too quickly. I normally make a mango milkshake but this week I had bought 3 punnets of strawberries from the market...so strawberry won. The trouble is my son doesn't like the pips so call me soft or stupid, but I stood and sieved the whole mixture. I must admit it did look better and tasted delish.
As for the crêpes, I mixed double the quantity and I still had to referee, making sure that everyone had the same amount.

{The mixture reminds me of a mysterious newly discovered solar planet}

I could say we had either berries, strawberries, brandy syrup, chocolate or numerous other suitable accompliments but both my guys just like them simply with either maple syrup or honey.
They stand watching whilst I cook and collect them as soon as they leave the pan, so its a race but I'm beginning to get sneaky...I try to start cooking to get a head start....but they suddenly appear when they get the whiff of crêpes in the air.

{Once again is this a new moon perhaps?}

My cast iron frying pan is perfect for cooking crêpes. But have to confess its a little tricky trying to photograph them cooking as they're done in an instant, once the pan gets up to the correct temperature.
As I mentioned above there was not chance my boys would wait whilst I tittervated the crêpes....
they just disappeared within seconds....hence having to copy someone else's photo : (

 { Copyright © 2005 David Monniaux }

I must get on with this evenings meal...and hopefully I'll get back with more recipes AND photo's soon.
Crêpe Recipe

4oz Flour
1 oz Vanilla Sugar
1 oz melted Butter
pinch of salt
2 Eggs
8 fl oz Milk

Method
Sieve the flour and salt.
Mix the eggs, sugar and half of the milk.
Whisk into the flour.
Add remainder of the milk.
Fold in the butter.
Allow the batter to stand for 2 hours.

Note - If you want a really light batter, seperate one of the eggs and beat the white. Add it to the mixture just before cooking. It may be necessary to add more milk to this mixture.

To Cook
Lightly coat the bottom of a well prepared crêpe pan (a good frying pan will do) Cook quickly on both sides.
The crêpes may be stacked and reheated - they also freeze extremely well....but I never get a chance to do this!

For all the following recipes the crêpes may be prepared in advance.

Crêpe a la confiture - {with jam}
Cook in normal way and spread with jam, roll up a dust with icing sugar.
Crêpes au citron
Cook, fold in quarters. Serve with wedges of lemon and sugar, may also be served a l'orange.
Crêpes Normande
Re-heat the crêpes in butter. Spread with apple puree. Fold in half and sprinkle with caster sugar and
flame with calvados.
Highland Mary Pancakes
Re-heat the crepes in butter. Spread with marmalade, fold and flame with whisky.
Crêpes Suzette
Make a suzette butter by mixing the following.....
100g Butter
100g Golden Caster Sugar
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 12 large oranges)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 tbsp Grand Marnier
2 tbsp Cognac

For the sauce, heat the butter and sugar in a deep frying pan (about 25cm/10in) over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to dissolve. Turn up the heat and bubble quite fast, until the mixture starts to go brown and caramelise (about 4 mins), stirring only towards the end. Pour in the orange juice and add the orange and lemon zest, letting the mixture bubble for 3-4 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the Grand Marnier and cognac, heat for a few seconds and lower the heat.
Put one crêpe into the juices and holding it with a fork coat it well in the mixture. Fold it into quarters and push to one side of the pan. Continue the coating and folding with the remaining pancakes. Serves 2-3 Crêpes per person with the sauce.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Junior Masterchef - Series 2 begins.....





I am sooooooooooooo excited that a new series of Masterchef started last night here in Melbourne. This is to be the second series of the Junior Masterchef Challenge and if last year is anything to go by, we're in for a treat with these cheflets!
I keep saying it but I just can't get over how these kids can cook.....I mean REALLY cook. I'm in awe of them.
I just wish I'd started to experiment in the kitchen as early as some of these kids. It's amazing to see what they can do. If you don't believe me take a look... mastercheflets
All of the presenters are superb and aren't in anyway patronising. They are so encouraging and adding their little helpful hints along the way, so its not just soft and fluffy stuff.
If the contestant fails to be picked they all leave with presents so it softens the blow at missing out on progressing further in the competition. So there's not too many tears, but I must confess I had a tear when they were picked and you saw their pure joy being hugged by their family. It's on again tonight so I'm away to hide the remote....
Its mine....all MINE.....MMMwwwwwhhhhhhaAAAaaaa! {evil laugh}...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Rivoli Cinema to see 'The Help' Movie

There's a lot to be said for spending time with your friends, having a girlie fun time and yesterday was no exception. We met for a late lunch at a restaurant near to the cinema. Whilst getting updated on our news since we last met, we ate some really tasty food. Multi-tasking at its best, eating, drinking, laughing, chatting and breathing all at the same time. Oh yes and listening. The poor waiter had difficulty getting a word in edgeways as you can imagine.
Once sufficiently satisfied on both the culinary and conversation side, we heading into the cinema. Whilst I waiting for some of the girls I thought you might like to see this incredible Art Deco building. I was there poised for quite a time because so many people were walking about and cars passing plus a coach pulled up just outside, but with some determination I managed to get my shot. 


The Rivoli has had over $16 Million spent on refurbishing, enhancing the art deco architecture.
If your interested in seeing more, take a look at The Rivoli

Here's the Grand Staircase....

The staircase features the original banisters that are one of the many surviving unique features of the theatre and evoke the grandeur of the past.

And then there was the film....
I'd enjoyed reading the book so much, so was a little wary that I'd be disappointed with the film, but thankfully it was so well done. I laughed and had a tear which I thought I'd masked, but then I realised that we all had become emotionally involved and there were a few moist eyes. Some of the characters were spectacular.

I'm looking forward to our book club meeting to discuss in detail both the book and the film. It'll be fun hearing all the other girls views. Aren't Book Clubs wonderful? I'd love to hear what your currently reading or if your in a book club, what you get up to? We're needing idea's for our next read...
Happy Reading Everyone :-)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thunder and Lightening

We had quite a thunderstorm last night, which was a complete surprise to me.

I'd enjoyed a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 20's, but I hadn't seen any forecast about a storm coming. What a surprise when an incredibly strong wind preceded the thunder and lightning. Muffin freaked out, but at least she didn't run under the bed this time. Thankfully it didn't carry on through the night, but I did wonder how much damage might have occurred to the garden.

(I have to confess this isn't one of my photo's of lightning hitting 120 Collins St Melbourne, October 1994
.....courtesy of skyscrapercity.com)

So I did a tour to peruse the garden this morning...and remarkably I didn't find any damage. Well, masses of wisteria petals floating on the pool - which I'd already cleared twice yesterday, but nothing else thankfully. I can't help thinking whoever decided to put the wisteria so near to the pool should be made to come and clear it! But then by the look of the thick twisting trunk, I think it was here long before the pool.

So look what I found..... whoohoo...my beans have produced flowers already!



They are an early season variety but I never thought they'd flower after only a couple of weeks.


And then look at my broccoli.....it looks like the cayenne pepper trick won the battle with the beasties.


Its a real nutritional powerhouse. Along with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, notably vitamin C, folate (folic acid), and potassium, it contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of cancer, so we'll be ready for anything after eating a portion of this.

Now to soften the edges.....here's a real cutie. When I look at this pansy I see a face with a very swish hat.
Hmm....is it just me then? I know the minds a very strange thing at times....and I swear I haven't touched a drop since last weekend....honest!

For anyone who hasn't seen the sun lately or is missing it already....how about this beautiful pansy flower. Like a huge sun ; D 



I'm off tomorrow to have lunch and a visit to the cinema with some girlfriends from my book club. Our next meeting is due early next month and we'll be discussing 'The Help' by American author Kathryn Stockett, so we are going to review not only the book but the film too. I'm really looking forward to seeing it although I've heard mixed reviews. If you have any comments on either the book or film I'd love to hear from you....

I know I'm neglecting my baking but I'm having difficulty fitting everything in....I have been cooking but not organised any posts yet...I'll try to do better I promise ; )

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Oscar's Law

I have been meaning to post an update on Muffin's progress...after her 'Op'.
She actually recovered extremely well, so well in fact, that she suffered a dislocated knee on Friday running on the ovals. But after another trip to our lovely local vet, she's on the way to a full recovery - hopefully. I say hopefully, because we're supposed to be keeping her quiet and not taking her for her walks until at least Wednesday, to try and give the knee time to repair, but try telling her that!

She's definitely getting cabin fever already and is extremely feisty. She's insisting on playing football and constantly bringing her ball to our feet and her poor toy dog has been positively savaged.

Looking at her here makes me thing its time for the summer 'teddybear' cut, but I'm always a little wary about doing it too early. Remember its Melbourne after all. Supposedly the temperatures are forecast to be around the high 20's for the next few days, so I think we may be safe.

I can't help thinking what a pampered pooch she is.....she's devouring a lamb bone here.


But then not all dogs have such a life.
On a serious note.... there was a protest rally held today in Melbourne against puppy farming.
For almost two decades Debra Tranter has dedicated her life to exposing the mistreatment taking place in secluded sheds across the country. She sacrificed her 90K job, suffered burglaries, and assaults and even has an 'if Mum gets arrested and goes to jail' plan for her kids.
She came up with the idea of Oscar's Law.

Here's Oscar.....

Oscar was one of a number of dogs who were rescued from a puppy factory in central Victoria where they had been neglected to the point they required urgent veterinary care.
Oscar’s Law Campaign is in memory of all the ‘Oscars’ hidden away on factory farms treated as breeding machines to supply the pet industry.
For an update on Oscar and more information please go to Oscar's Law and make a difference. The power is in your hands

Friday, 16 September 2011

Look what I found....

If your looking at this blog from the UK or somewhere that's just had summer, then maybe you should look away especially as a little bird told me the UK summer hasn't been the best. Maybe September will turn into what my Mother used to call an Indian Summer. I hope so, especially with Autumn already underway.

Ok....now I can start.....because today I wanted to rave about Spring. Its positively bursting out all over here. The birds are twitter bating, by the way I've been using that phrase since watching 'Bambi' with my kids and not from current Twitter jargon - yep I'm that old. The wisteria is positively vibrating with the loud buzzing of so many bees visiting, and there's the drone of lawn mowers getting everything ship shape ready for the wonderful weekend that's promised. But don't forget this is Melbourne so you always have to be cautious. Reportedly the temperature could reach the high 20's....whoohoo.

AND look what I found on my rounds this morning.

My first tomato....this variety is 'Patio Totem'

I've got a few other varieties such as 'Pink Pearl' and 'Italian Toms' and there's lots of flowers so things are looking good.

I also found this lilac tree....I had no idea until the flowers appeared because it was just twigs when we first arrived here. There's nothing more exciting than getting to know a new garden. Well maybe there is thinking about it, but its still exciting to me.


There's just so many surprises and hopefully many more as the seasons change.

So its the start of the weekend again....how brilliant.
Make sure that you have a fantastic time whatever your planning, no matter what the weather decides
See you next week.....; D

P.S. I did bake cookies this week and intended to post, but even though I used cutters they looked nothing like they were supposed to. I gave my OH and son the game of trying to guess what they were. Even when I mentioned they were supposed to be farm animals they failed miserably. So its back to the drawing board, but in my defence, it was a new recipe and the amounts weren't in Imperial measurements.
I may post a photo to give everyone a laugh.....they're still being eaten though....x 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Rainbow Lorikeets

Something had the Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) very excited this morning. As I walked Muffin through the nearby reserve the noise and chatter from a large flock overhead was near deafening. The Rainbow Lorikeets we perched high up in the trees and boy did they have a lot to discuss. I would have loved an interpreter to tell me what all the excitement was about.

I just can't get over how vivid and brightly coloured they are with their red, green, blue, yellow, and orange feathers. Positively flamboyant.
They also fly like the Falcon HTV-2 at incredible speeds darting, twisting and turning through the trees without a care, screeching to each other as they go.... 

On a previous walk I took this photo because I just couldn't believe that the lorikeets would actually use this tree trunk for a nest site. Its so low to the ground but obviously its safe enough because they popped back in before I managed to take they're photo. But I'll keep my eyes open when passing to try to capture them peeping out. They looked so funny watching me... watching them... watching me!

One of my new neighbours feeds all the local birds in her garden with a seed block.....
so guess what I had to get......
Yep, I'm hoping to attract the lorikeets into my garden. Plus the cockatoo's too!

There was an article on the tv tonight about Cockatoo's which have been taught to speak by their owners and then subsequently escaped....they are now passing on their language skills to other birds!
I must admit I didn't recognise any of the chatter this morning, but maybe thats a good thing hearing what some people have taught their birds to say!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Quick Tea Break....Phewph

I really wanted to post a recipe today but unfortunately when I cooked  last night the light wasn't good enough by the time I finished, so I'll make sure I start earlier in future....
So its just a quickie today as I'm trying desperately to cut the lawns. Its perfect weather for gardening so I'm making the most of it plus this weekend is supposed to be getting warmer so I'd like to have all the work done (ha! as if....) and then to sit and enjoy the fruits of my labour. Maybe we'll even christen the pool....eek!

As an update from the House Move, here's a few of my plants from the old house that seem to like the new place. Last time I posted a comment on my grapevine it looked very poorly. How dare they...? But looks whose doing fine...I just wonder if the beasties moved with it? We'll have to wait and see...

Here's the Jasmine too.

The new garden has both these plants but these are my babies so they have a special place.
The perfume from the Jasmine, Wisteria and Wattle waft beautifully on the evening breeze. I can't wait to be able to sit out in the evening to fully appreciate their splendor.


I just can't get over this wonderful cascade. There's also so many insects I'm wondering if I should start to keep bee's. They would certainly have a feast in this garden. 


That's my tea break over so I'll have to dash back outside....no rest for the wicked ; )
I must be very naughty...that's all I can say!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Another Silk Painting....Tree Frog

As I mentioned previously I'm experiencing being an empty nester this week, which has me thinking about what I'd like to do with my time moving forward.
The trouble is there's so much out there it can be a little daunting, but one of the things I'd like to do is get back to painting.
Whether it be silk painting, which at least I've had previous experience of, or maybe I need to try all the other different mediums out there, I'm not sure yet.
When I discovered this house had a studio {which was a wonderful but complete surprise} it made me think its a definite sign or tap on the shoulder....I've always dreamed of having a studio but never thought I'd ever get one - so it would seem ridiculous if I didn't use it. Right?

Here's a peek at another of my old paintings.....

He still makes me smile and I'm hoping he'll inspire me  : D
Tropical Fish Painting
Whatever your planning to do with your time this coming weekend...have fun and enjoy x

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Chilli con Carne with a 'Splayd' on the side.....

Today's post has a retro feel.
I've cooked a Chilli con Carne which I suppose is very '70's but I'm trying to cook all the warming foods in my repoirtee before the heat hits. The days have been warm but the temperature in the evening drops dramatically, so this kind of food is perfect for just now.


I wish I could say these were my own chilli's but my plant looks very sick at the moment. I'm not sure its going to survive....but you never know. I'm always hopeful. 

One of the reasons that I wanted to do this Chilli con Carne post is that I can sing the praises of these wonderful implements.....'Splayds'. If by some chance you've missed them then you've been seriously missing out.
Someone and I just wish I could remember who...bought us a set as a wedding present.....and we've been using them numerous times a week since. I've had a few sets over the years so that we always have enough on hand but we've only got two left of the original set : ( I haven't a scooby where they disappeared but I suppose at least that's one each. How do I know they're the two originals? Because they look and feel so different. They're even heavier too.
So whomever bought them for us....they were the perfect gift for a wedding present.


They have the fork, spoon and knife all together in one utencil. How ingenious. Someone had a good day when they had this lightbulb moment.

Chilli con Carne - serves 4
2 medium onions
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
2 level teaspoons chilli powder
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin (or crushed cumin seeds)
455g /1lb chuck steak minced or best minced beef
200g /7 oz sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
2x 400g /14 oz tins of tomatoes
1/2 a stick of cinnamon
2x 400g / 14oz tins of red kidney beans, drained
Sea Salt and freshly Ground Pepper

If you are to cook the chilli in the oven, preheat to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2. An alternative method is to cook on top of the cooker. Simmering gently for 1 1/2 hours. Both methods work well.

Chop the onions and garlic or blitz in a food processor until finely chopped. Then fry in a little olive oil until soft. Add the chilli powder, fresh chilli, cumin and a little seasoning. Add the mince and continue to cook, stirring until browned. Ensure you brown and not steam the mince. Blitz the sun-dried tomatoes in the processor with enough oil to loosen into a paste. Add to the meat along with the tomatoes, cinnamon stick and a wineglass of water. Add additional seasoning if needed.  
Bring to the boil covered with a lid then turn the heat down to simmer for 1 1/2 hours or transfer the pan to the oven for the same amount of time.
Add the kidney beans 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. They're already cooked so will only need to be warmed up.
Serve with rice or lots of fresh crusty bread, and a crisp salad.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Random Ramblings

I've got such a lot of random thoughts to list today, so this post may well end up complete gobbledegook. But then having a natter over a cuppa can sometimes cover vast subjects, so hopefully you have your cuppa at the ready and are sitting comfortably for a few mins....

Firstly, I feel I really didn't do justice to the fact that Melbourne was voted Best City in the World to live in. Well, my excuse is that it was Friday night. I'd also have had to spend days travelling through the city to cover all what’s available here and still I'd probably feel I'd short changed it.
But then if your reading this in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide then you’ll probably be glad I scooted over that fact : )

Anyway.....moving on quickly (it’s a dodgy subject here - lots of rivalry between city's as to which City is the best)

Yesterday's sun and temperature just lit the flame under the Wisteria. Whoosh....lots of flowers appeared. The perfume is wonderful too. By the way, the two windows are to my OH's work shed. Sheer bliss, he can tinker away for hours in there. Peace......


The sun also produced these little flowers. I'm thrilled because the freesia's that I bought at the Melbourne Flower Festival last year have started to flower too.


Talking of which...peace that is.....we became 'Empty Nesters' over the weekend. I know you're supposed to long for the day when you've done your job and your chicks have flown, but I'm not sure I like it. Oh yes, there's good bits, but in general I found it a little strange and I'm not sure I like it.
It's only for a short time, but it’s given me the feel of what's to come.....Argh! I'm going to have to get on with all those projects I've been putting off. They'll be no excuse soon.

Randomly wandering subject wise now....I'm a little excited about this next project, although its hardly a project really. Our new Pot Bellied Stove or Chiminea!
We've just bought it ready for when those night are good enough to sit out, but you need a little something to keep the chill at bay (well I'm never happy when the temperature drops below 16C, hence being in Melbourne at the moment and not in the UK). So I'm constantly looking for wood to have a decent stock pile ready.
My sister has had one of these fires for years in the UK and we've spent many an enjoyable evening sitting in her garden huddled around it. Well it is the UK after all. It’s always been on my agenda to get one, so I'm a happy bunny now : D
We just have to wait for the right conditions to christen her.
I reckon it’s a female with that shape...what do you think?



A change of subject again....

I've decided that this garden is overrun with snails. They seem to be lurking everywhere. This little chappie was climbing up the wall by the side of the pool. I think he's got his eye on me. Maybe he knows I know the secret about the Cayenne Pepper! I'll leave them all in peace just so long as they stay away from my veggies. Who ate all the Broccoli?

Here's another but I have to admit I didn't know they could climb tree's too.


I love the light through the leaves.
I have to tell you in order to get this photo I had to balance on a chair again. 
Highrise living for his chap, he's about 7 feet up in this Hibiscus bush.

And here's one thats had a house move.....


"No longer known at this address...,.please forward snail mail".... ; )

Well that's it for this post....cuppa over. 
Chat soon

Friday, 2 September 2011

Melbourne voted Best City in the World

I couldn't finish this week without mentioning that Melbourne has been rated the best city in the world to live in, according to the latest global liveability survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit. 
Melbourne topped the biannual ranking of 140 cities with a score of 97.5 per cent.
What more can I say.....

Here's a few photo's that I've taken whilst out and about in the city.
This is Federation Square....the only form of transport I didn't manage to capture in this photo are the infamous Trams.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground or 'MCG' or 'The G'



The Yarra River

The Laneways - have become particularly notable for their acclaimed urban art.



Flinders Street Railway Station at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets is the oldest station in Australia (1910) although the first station on this site opened in 1854!



Well as I've said before....I like it anyway!
I'm off to enjoy the weekend.....

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Happy Wattle Day

Happy Wattle Day Everyone....1st September is Australia's Wattle Day.
(Photo's taken today whilst on our morning walk)
So that's winter done for us here in Australia (my apologies if your about to head into Autumn - I don't mean to gloat)...and although I heard a report yesterday, which stated that it has been the warmest winter for years, I'm still glad that its done and I'm ready to embrace Spring. That's such a lovely warming thought. One of the things I missed most in the Middle East was there wasn't any real changes in the seasons. I don't mind what weather we're having, just so long as it changes regularly.
Maybe that's why I love Melbourne....no two days are alike! Or five minutes for that matter.

Acacia pycnantha, or Golden Wattle, is a shrub or small tree about 4 to 8 metres tall. In spring large fluffy golden-yellow flower-heads with up to eighty minute sweetly scented flowers provide a vivid contrast with the foliage. The perfume at times is incredible waffting on the breeze. Its flowers have been used in perfume making which isn't surprising because at times, especially in the evenings to walk or sit outdoors the scent can be so powerful.


Its Australia's official national floral emblem, featured on the coat-of-arms. Possibly the best known amongst the Australian plants. With 600 or more kinds of wattles, they can be found in every part of the country, from well-watered areas to the arid Centre to the cold mountain regions. They can be found growing in the most remote areas, from low, spreading shrubs to large, upright growing trees. 

Its very resilient and regenerates freely after fires, which usually kill the parent plants but stimulate the germination of seeds stored in the soil if rain follows soon after. Regeneration may produce dense thickets in forests and woodlands and along roadsides.

The brilliant yellow, fragrant flowers of Golden Wattle make it a popular garden plant. It is moderately frost tolerant and grows well in a wide range of soils provided drainage is effective, but tends to be short-lived in cultivation. It is easily propagated from seed soaked in hot water to break the hard seed coat, and the seedlings can be transplanted to pots of soil mix for growing on before planting out in a lightly shaded or open position.

The individual flowers are always very small and massed together in pom-pom heads or rod-like spikes.

So whatever season your are about to enter....Enjoy!
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