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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR for 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR WISHES TO ALL MY READERS...

I would like to wish everyone a fun and festive New Year filled with family and good friends, peace, contentment, new goals and achievements, good health, adventure, a sense of fun and excitement, some moments of reflection, and an abundance of kindness, joy and happiness ...enough to last the whole year through!
I really appreciate you popping by and taking the time to read my blog...It means such a lot to me.
I love to see all the locations across the globe and maybe soon you'll join me for a natter.
I hope you'll continue to visit in 2012!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Simple Woman's Journal

FOR TODAY Thursday 29th December 2011
Outside my window...
There are four beautiful, double-headed, deep pink, hibiscus flowers from a large bush. There are also the large blue agapanthus pompoms fighting for attention. And just reaching up to the window are white rose buds...they're not out just at the moment because the first flush of flowers have been and gone, but I did as my Grandmother taught me and dead headed them after the first flush....and da-dah... lots of new ones have appeared. I can see the side gate and beyond the sun soaked trees, gently swaying, a blue sky overhead and a few wispy clouds.

If you're a regular reader of my journal you'll probably be aware by that description that I'm in another room today. I'm not only a day late posting this journal, but it's the end of the day and not the beginning.I'm in the dining room with my back to the french doors.
I am thinking...why does my son have to play his music so loud....although usually I have mine playing at 115dB (translated means high decibels like a loud rock concert!) It's a good job this isn't a recording blog because depending on the music, I'm singing as loud!
I am thankful...for sunlight!
In the kitchen...dinner is cooking hence I can finally nip here to post. There are a few mince pies left but the sticky toffee dish is empty....yep...empty! There could be tears tonight? The dishwasher is battling to keep up with the onslaught of dishes, but doing a stirling job!
I am wearing...Jeans, t-shirt, bare feet and damp hair. I'm fresh out of the shower after pottering around the garden today.
I am creating...hopefully a dog that looks like a shih tzu. I decided upon hearing that the temperatures are due to rise towards this weekend to give Muffin a clip. I also gave her a bath so I'm waiting to see the result once she's dry :-?  I think it will be an ongoing creation because every time I catch sight of her, I see a section that needs another little snip!
I am going...to join my daughter outside on the loungers. Possibly with a cuppa to make the most of today's sunlight as it starts to sink. I may even manage a sundowner? Well it is Christmas after all.

I am wondering...where we will be having lunch tomorrow. We're being taken out to lunch in the city and with so many restaurants catering for every culture....who knows what delights are in store?
I am reading...A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. It was my mystery book club present. I've only just started to read it so can't really comment too much. I do like the writing so far. It has been the number 1 New York Times bestselling novel. 


The curtain rises in 1907 during a Wisconsin winter "cold enough to sear the skin from your bones." Ralph Truitt, the wealthiest man in town, stands frozen in place on a train platform, but inside he's burning with the unsated desire of 20 solitary years.

Ralph is waiting for his mail-order bride, a woman he requisitioned through a classified ad: "Country businessman seeks reliable wife. Compelled by practical not romantic reasons. . . . Discreet." That may sound as horny as Sunday school, but Ralph isn't entirely what he seems, standing there on the platform with "his eyes turned downward, engraved with a permanent air of condescension and grief." Inside, the 58-year-old widower is startled by the intensity of his desires, consumed with thoughts of sex and murder and madness in homes all around town. "Sometimes his loneliness was like a fire beneath his skin," Goolrick writes. "He had thought of taking his razor and slicing his own flesh, peeling back the skin that would not stop burning."

When Catherine Land finally arrives, looking prim and dour, she isn't what she appears to be, either. She threw her extravagant party dresses out the train window a few miles from town, and she has hidden jewels in the hem of her black wool dress. She's not even the woman in the photo she sent Ralph during their summer of tentative correspondence. And she's carrying a bottle of arsenic and "a long and complicated scheme."

Poor Ralph has some awfully bad luck with women: the matrimonial equivalent of sailing to Europe on the Titanic and flying home on the Hindenburg. "This begins in a lie," he tells Catherine sternly as he picks up her bags. "I want you to know that I know that. . . . Whatever else, you're a liar."

All Ralph wants -- or pretends he wants -- is "a simple, honest woman. A quiet life. A life in which everything could be saved and nobody went insane." That's so hard to attain when your new bride hopes to poison you straightaway. But damned if he doesn't almost die in a spectacular riding accident while bringing her home from the station. Poor Catherine finds she's got to nurse Ralph back to health before she can start killing him.

Don't worry: I'm not giving anything away. Neither of these two steely people are playing straight with the other, and Goolrick isn't playing straight with us, either. The floor collapses in almost every chapter, and we suddenly crash through assumptions we'd thought were solid. Goolrick keeps probing at the way people force themselves not to know something -- not to believe the truth -- in order to fulfill their deepest longings.
I am hoping...that the temperature doesn't rise too high whilst my daughter is here. At the moment it's perfect. Don't forget she's usually in Scotland so if the temperature hits 30c she's likely to melt.
I am looking forward to...carrying on with my blog into the new year. 2012 will hopefully be a very good year {not only for me and my family but for all my readers and their families}
I am hearing...as previously stated loud music so I can't hear if there's anything else...oh yes, my son's now singing! LOL ; D

Around the house...are my family...what more could you want?
I am pondering...We had a drive further out into the country earlier this week and it brought back certain images of the worst bush fires ever recorded, which happened nearly three years ago. The black, charred remnants of trees with the new fresh green growth underneath are a stark reminder.
The day the disaster happened {February 2009} is now known as 'Black Saturday'. The landscape is still scarred and clearly visable. It must be a constant reminder for people who live or have lived in the areas concerned. I wonder how people coped and are coping. I've attached a photo below and a link.
One of my favourite things...starting to read a new book.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Lots but I'm running out of time to even begin to list them. I've been back to this post four times today and I've still not posted it....eek!  
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

This photo was taken near Kinglake. We just stopped the car to appreciate some scenery and noticed the forest walk. No signposts, litter bins, picnic benches....just a beautiful walkway. The birds were amazing and very vociferous. I think this fern portrays the regrowth and regeneration taking place after the disaster on Black Saturday. But I do wonder about the people that the disaster touched...I wonder even this long after the tragedy, how they are managing? When I saw the scene below it really struck me...
The beautiful scenery but with the caravan and container, probably still being used whilst a new home is being constructed. I wish everyone who has been affected by the disaster a safe new home filled with happiness and joy.
And that's it for this week . . . my day book, although a day later than usual. Don't forget to pop over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries : D

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

....and Breath....sigh....

There's a quiet lull in events today {phewph} which seems to be just what is needed.

Christmas was a big success and everything proceeded to plan which was wonderful. No culinary catastrophes or dining disasters thankfully.
The weather added a further surprise ~ no scorching sun or high temperatures ~ but thunder and lightning with bucket loads of rain, which actually added to the Christmas mood. We flung open the French doors in the dining room as it was still humid and enjoyed the light show.
Although Muffin wasn’t too happy as you can imagine.
We may head out for breakfast before visiting a winery or a place of interest today.  But at the moment we’re just sitting here having a cuppa discussing the options.

I thought I'd let you see the front lounge parlour {as my OH call's it, possibly just to annoy me}
I didn't light the candles for the photo due to the sun streaming in through the window.

I’m very proud to report that we actually had some of our own produce on our Christmas plate.
Potatoes and carrots!

Here’s the initial unveiling...note my OH has to don his wellies (gumboots) before proceeding. It seems to help with the harvesting apparently  :-?

It's always a thrilling time with the uncertainty....will there be anything there to see and even more importantly anything edible?

I'm not sure that the huge fork is necessary but he's happy!

Look...whoohoo...there we have quite a good crop again.


I thought you might like to see a manger with a difference, as a little update.
Hasn't she done well....?



When I caught sight of Muffin’s reindeer toy this morning it made me wonder how many feel a little like it...he certainly looks like he’s over indulged.
As you can see by the state of it ~ much fun has been had...

That's it for today...need to get on....
still no final destination organised yet for today's outing but if we find somewhere that's interesting I'll take some photo's and post again soon.
Enjoy your day :D

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Snowman Soup

I feel slightly naughty nipping online to post today. My OH, son and daughter have just gone out on bikes for a quick calorie burning exercise ride before tomorrow's onslaught of sticky toffee puddings, and poultry, plus, plus plus...... whilst they're out I thought I'd come and see if you're okay for a quick natter.

It will be a very quick chat today because obviously there's a million and one things waiting for me...

I rose this morning at 6am for the military manoeuvres to the local veg shop, butchers, bakers but I gave the candlestick maker a miss ; D
Everyone who had the same idea as myself...of a quick early dash...appeared cool and calm being organised people brandishing nothing but their wish list and 'cool' bags ready to nip in and out before the madness started. The early bird certainly got the goods this morning.
I'd finished rounding up all my orders by 7am, so felt rather pleased with myself. It was a lovely time of day and cool too so no hassle with the heat.


Mr Snowman candle holder....one of my favourites
Hardly in keeping with a hot Aussie Christmas, but I'd still like to show you something that I saw on Karen's lavender and loveage blog. Thanks Karen for the idea ;D

The 'Snowman Soup' gift....I loved the idea and had great fun making them for little friends.



I had to make a few tweaks with being in warmer climes such as making sure everything was individually wrapped ~ I wouldn't want to hand over to the children melted marshmallows and squidgy chocolate chips....hmm....but that kinda sounds like an idea for another recipe?
Oh yes...the recipe....nearly forgot to give you that...
1 mug, preferably with a Christmas design
25g sweetened instant hot chocolate powder
6 chocolate buttons, or chocolate chips
10 miniature marshmallows
1 small candy cane
I wrote on the label the following message which I thought was fun....

“I was told you've been good this year,

I'm always glad to hear it!

With arctic weather drawing near,

You'll need to warm the spirit.

So here's a little Snowman Soup.

Complete with stirring stick.

Add hot water, sip it slow.

It's sure to do the trick!”
Hardly appropriate really for an Ozzie summer Christmas but it keeps everything on the traditional theme. If I'd have had more time I might have tried to tweak the rhyme, but then hot soup in summer...hum? Maybe that's something to think about for next year.
Anyway I did say this was going to be a quick post....so I must dash...
Santa will be here before I know it....Have fun and enjoy!
MERRY CHRISTMAS
and
A HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Unexpected Visitors Land for Christmas....

Christmas is the usual time for unexpected guests to arrive unannounced. Family, friends and neighbours may pop by for a quick visit and hopefully you have stocked up enough on nibbles and party pickies to cope with the influx. But I never thought we’d be receiving the three guests that literally landed yesterday.

I was busy pottering around the garden {as you do at Christmas time :-/ well you do in Australia} whilst nattering with my daughter nearby, when she suddenly became aware that three pairs of eyes were peering down on us!
Over head were three ‘Tawny Frogmouth Owls’ They were perched in the tree overhead with amazing camouflage plumage that mimics the bark of a tree. They were hunched down nestling on a branch and looked uncannily like a tree stump. You hardly notice them so she did really well spotting them.

The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)
Here's two sharing their perch....


And the third one was a little further up the tree....
It's amazing what you learn when you blog....for a start I now know that they aren't actually owls at all!
I can be forgiven I suppose because the name 'Tawny Frogmouth Owl' sort of leads you to believe that they are actual owls. In fact they are birds that are awake at night. They don't have strong talons like owls and don't hunt like owls at night either. Frogmouths generally remain sitting very still on a low perch and wait for food to come to them....a little like the boys in this house ;-)
They catch prey with their beaks and sometimes drop from their perch onto the prey on the ground.
If you've been following my posts recently you may have heard about my abundance of snails and hey guess what Frogmouth's eat ...yep, you guessed right...snails! Happy days all round....
They also feed on rats, mice cicadas, beetles, frogs and other small prey. They catch their prey with their beaks rather than with their talons, another way in which they are different from owls.
This poor chap {or chapess...I've no idea} had had a very hard day impersonating a tree stump and was just beginning to rouse himself as the sun started to set. Look at the size of that mouth...

Tawny Frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies.....ahhhh.....and they breed from August to December. They usually use the same nest each year, and must make repairs to their loose, untidy platforms of sticks. After mating with the male, the female lays two or three eggs onto a lining of green leaves in the nest. This is the bit I like....both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them until they hatch about 30 days later. I've always thought that it would be better for us humans to share the incubation period ie four and a half months each. What do you think?
The chicks move to the edge of the nest and direct their droppings over the edge. I'm not sure you really wanted to know that sort of detail but there it is...... About 25 days after hatching, the chicks are ready to leave the nest and lead their own lives. Imagine that you're offspring leaving so young...terwit terwhoo!

Here's what they sound like.....Frogmouth

I think this little chap is so cute....and he knew the camera was on him....


So you've had a little light relief from the Christmas capers but its time to get back to it I'm afraid, but remember.....
Stay calm and don't lose your head....


Don't worry all you bird lovers out there....I promise no animal was harmed in the creating of this post!
Have fun ; D

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Simple Woman's Journal


FOR TODAY Wednesday 21st December  2011

Outside my window...Have a guess? No not the usual blue sky and fluffy white clouds...today I can report we have a complete grey blanket. It has obviously followed my daughter from Scotland!
At least the still air gently coming in through the open window is warm though.
I am thinking...I need to scoot about this morning to get as much done as I can. With spending the majority of yesterday chatting, I need to tick some more off my list.
I am thankful...that we will be able to spend our Christmas all in the one nest. Although I'd like all the rest of my family here too, I have to be content for now. Other family members are suggesting potential dates for visiting next year, so that's exciting.
In the kitchen...chestnuts. I'll be making the chestnut stuffing later. I use a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me for our first married Christmas together.

I am wearing...my pj's. My daughter nipped through from her room once my OH left for work this morning and we've had a nice cuppa, cosy tucked up in my bed. Also my son's just visited us for a quick natter as he missed his train, so has a few minutes before the next one's due.
I am creating...recipes for the Christmas meals. I know I should be done and dusted by now but I've seen so many wonderful recipes and idea's that I keep changing my mind. Tomorrow is the cut off point for requests and final decisions will be made.  

I am going...into the city for lunch today and round up the last of the presents.

I am wondering...about donating a Goat. Because I'm not in the UK this Christmas with the majority of our family, there isn't the usual gift giving for everyone, so I think this is a good way of spreading the Christmas spirit.

I am reading...'Bound Feet and Western Dress' by Pang-Me and Natasha Chang. It's been a busy week so I haven't managed to finish it yet. I picked it up from the charity shop a few weeks ago.


"In China, a woman is nothing."
Thus begins the saga of a woman born at the turn of the century to a well-to-do, highly respected Chinese family, a woman who continually defied the expectations of her family and the traditions of her culture. Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last emperor and the Communist Revolution, Chang Yu-i's life is marked by a series of rebellions: her refusal as a child to let her mother bind her feet, her scandalous divorce, and her rise to Vice President of China's first women's bank in her later years.

In the alternating voices of two generations, this dual memoir brings together a deeply textured portrait of a woman's life in China with the very American story of Yu-i's brilliant and assimilated grandniece, struggling with her own search for identity and belonging. Written in pitch-perfect prose and alive with detail, Bound Feet and Western Dress is the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of customs and duty.
From the Back Cover
After long afternoons spent with her great-aunt Yu-i drawing forth her story, Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, a first-generation Chinese-American, paints an unforgettable saga of a woman, born in Shanghai at the turn of the century to a highly respected, well-to-do family, who continually defied the expectations of her class and culture.
'In China, a woman is nothing,' began Yu-i over tea and dumplings. 'This is the first lesson I want to give so that you will understand.' Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last Emperor and the Communist Revolution, Yu-i led a life marked by a series of rebellions that changed the course of her life, including the first and most lasting: her refusal to have her feet bound. And as Yu-i confides her innermost dreams and demons, Pang-Mei comes to understand something of her own ambivalence regarding her Chinese heritage - and the ever-present tug between familial duty and desire.
Bound Fee and Western Dress is an exquisitely written dual memoir that tells the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of custom and tradition, a deeply textured portrait which braids a woman's life in China with the very Western story of a young woman's search for identity and belonging.
About the Author:-

Pang-Mei Natasha Chang was raised in Connecticut. She received her B.A. in Chinese Studies from Harvard and a J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law. She practiced Law in New York City before moving to Moscow, where she currently resides with her husband. Bond Feet and Western Dress is her first book.

Although its quite a thin book due to the timing, basically if I'm sitting comfortably then I tend to fall asleep ~ I haven't made much headway yet. But I can say what little I've read has been really interesting. The binding of feet for instance is truly unbelievable and if you want to read more follow this link. foot binding There's some photos too for the not so faint at heart.

I am hoping....that the sun will come out to visit today.
I am looking forward to...every day so that I can make the most of our family being together.
I am hearing...the lorikeets as usual but also the magpies are very noisy this morning. My daughter snuffles...obviously she's bought a little something else with her from Edinburgh.

Around the house...there's an air of anticipation. Santa's near to circling the building. The lights are twinkling on the tree. The cupboard's are full of tasty treats and culinary delights.

I am pondering...why you never see a baby dove (or pigeon for that matter). We've recently had two nests here in our garden but I've never seen the babies. I believe they look like only their mother could love them.
One of my favourite things...having my daughter snuggled up close whilst I'm posting this. She's the one that inspired me to start blogging in the first place. She's always on the other end of the posts on the other side of the world, so its especially nice for her to be here watching the creating.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Total enjoyment and pandemonium. Bring it on.... 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...There are three for this post actually...well it is Christmas after all!

Why a photo of a crowd? What is causing the commotion?

Lets take a closer look.....


 Why a ferret walking in the park wearing a santa hat of course....


And off he goes to enjoy the rest of his day!
My daughter saw this unusual sight as she walked along The Mall on her recent trip to London.
And that's it for this week . . . my day book, although a day later than usual. Don't forget to pop over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries : D

Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas is coming....whoohoo!

I'm hoping you've been as busy as I have and haven't noticed my lack of posts lately. Or maybe you've been devastated. Nah I thought not...
Anyway, I'm almost there and beginning to have the frame of mind if I don't get there, well it’s not life threatening and we'll have a fantastic time anyway....do I sound convincing :- /

Nah...I didn't think so....

But really I am nearly there and hopefully I'll post some photographic evidence to prove it. The trouble is that I'm seeing wonderful wonderlands out there in blogdom. They keep giving me more ideas and jobs to do....plus I can't get to read all of them and I'd like to. I suppose if I gave up sleeping this week I might manage them all.
I'm not sure I'll be in some of these blogs league, but I love seeing all the difference traditions and ideas. I'm beginning to feel quite contented with my decor though.

It's at this stage where you have to be firm and say enough is enough. Besides I have to concentrate on the food now.


Look where the magic Elf landed today....I think that's a prime spot. I'm going to have a quiet word with him just in case he isn't aware that I've been a very good girl this year  ; D

Although my Christmas present is already loaded onto the sleigh and is heading this way....this is where I have to calm myself because I'm beginning to feel sick with anticipation....Yep my daughter is about to arrive. {Breath....breath.....} I imagine there are masses of relations passing between here and the UK over the next week and everyone is as excited as I am.....well maybe not!

 
I've even put in a special word for the weather to be cooler at the beginning of the week and slowly warming up just to let her get acclimatised. It can be a shock from Scotland to here, but thankfully it'll be perfect this week. Around mid 20 degree's celsius heading up to 30 degree's for Christmas Day. Perfect...But then we have to remember it is Melbourne and that could all change with the wind direction.
Maybe  I should have had a little word for a flurry of snow for Christmas Day...well you never know???!?! ;-)

Well I'm off to bath Muffin...she's going to be thrilled  ^..^

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Simple Woman's Journal


FOR TODAY Wednesday Thursday 15th December 2011

Outside my window... There's no easy way of saying this and I apologise if you're in your winter months, but the sun is shining so brightly. Blue skies with whispy white cotton ball clouds are floating overhead. The grapevine looks like we may get some grapes {not sure what they may taste like though}, the Wisteria has decided to flower again with beautiful purple lanterns. The pool is clean and ready for any takers...who may be brave enough ~ temp only in mid twenties today. The BBQ has been cleaned and is ready for lots of action too!

I am thinking...How could I have got the days mixed up this week and completely missed posting my journal yesterday....what a numpty! I hope I haven't confused anyone.
Come to think of it I did have a mince pie that was laced in brandy....hic!
I am thankful...that my Christmas decorations are done {well almost} and I can concentrate on other things that need my attention.
In the kitchen...fresh pasta for tonights dinner. Muffin in the doorway gruffing that its time for dinner ^..^

I am wearing...Linen capri pants with a vest. Metallic ballet flats with little bows on top. Hair tied up {couldn't face fighting with it this morning}

I am creating...my Christmas menu. I need to write everything down these days. I find that way once its on the paper my head doesn't hurt so much anymore ; )

I am going...to create a culinary delight for our evening meal.... Fresh pasta.

I am wondering...how many more places can the magic Elf find whilst he's here visiting?

I am reading...'Bound Feet and Western Dress' by Pang-Me and Natasha Chang. It's been a busy week so I haven't managed to finish it yet. I picked it up from the charity shop a few weeks ago.


"In China, a woman is nothing."
Thus begins the saga of a woman born at the turn of the century to a well-to-do, highly respected Chinese family, a woman who continually defied the expectations of her family and the traditions of her culture. Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last emperor and the Communist Revolution, Chang Yu-i's life is marked by a series of rebellions: her refusal as a child to let her mother bind her feet, her scandalous divorce, and her rise to Vice President of China's first women's bank in her later years.

In the alternating voices of two generations, this dual memoir brings together a deeply textured portrait of a woman's life in China with the very American story of Yu-i's brilliant and assimilated grandniece, struggling with her own search for identity and belonging. Written in pitch-perfect prose and alive with detail, Bound Feet and Western Dress is the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of customs and duty.

From the Back Cover
After long afternoons spent with her great-aunt Yu-i drawing forth her story, Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, a first-generation Chinese-American, paints an unforgettable saga of a woman, born in Shanghai at the turn of the century to a highly respected, well-to-do family, who continually defied the expectations of her class and culture.

'In China, a woman is nothing,' began Yu-i over tea and dumplings. 'This is the first lesson I want to give so that you will understand.' Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last Emperor and the Communist Revolution, Yu-i led a life marked by a series of rebellions that changed the course of her life, including the first and most lasting: her refusal to have her feet bound. And as Yu-i confides her innermost dreams and demons, Pang-Mei comes to understand something of her own ambivalence regarding her Chinese heritage - and the ever-present tug between familial duty and desire.

Bound Fee and Western Dress is an exquisitely written dual memoir that tells the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of custom and tradition, a deeply textured portrait which braids a woman's life in China with the very Western story of a young woman's search for identity and belonging.

About the Author:-

Pang-Mei Natasha Chang was raised in Connecticut. She received her B.A. in Chinese Studies from Harvard and a J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law. She practiced Law in New York City before moving to Moscow, where she currently resides with her husband. Bond Feet and Western Dress is her first book.

Although its quite a thin book due to the timing, basically if I'm sitting comfortably then I tend to fall asleep ~ I haven't made much headway yet. But I can say what little I've read has been really interesting. The binding of feet for instance is truly unbelievable and if you want to read more follow this link. foot binding There's some photos too for the not so faint at heart.

I am hoping....for a white Christmas ~ HA! But I can almost guarantee that I'll not get one...but never say never. Remind me sometime to post the photos from the hailstorm we had here in Melbourne in March 2010.

I am looking forward to...yeah...5 sleeps to go! I'm saying nothing more but if you've been reading my posts you'll know ;D

I am hearing...the welcome decoration hanging on the outside of the door handle, gently tapping the frame as the breeze passes. The ticking of the clock...so unusual to have a quiet house at this time of the day. Don't worry they'll be music playing soon. The laptop whirring as it tries to cool down. Muffin's gruffs trying to get my attention.

Around the house...there's the anticipation that something's about to occur. Just a few more tweaks and we'll be ready. Whoohoo bring it on.....

I am pondering...why there are so many snails and slugs in this garden trying to eat all my plants! I counted 26 on the lawn the other evening. Where are they all coming from and why don't they go!

One of my favourite things...is remembering all my childhood Christmas memories plus all the new ones shared with my own children.
Unfortunately there are a few people no longer here now but I hold on to their memory and smile as I
reminisce about all the special times we shared together.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Completing my menu and planning for the festive frenzy. I've checked in with the Butcher and Veggie man so they're waiting for my order. Bless.
I just need to sit still {without falling asleep} and write out my plan of action. Easy peasey...lemon....Gulp!  

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

This photo was taken near Avimore in Scotland last winter....

If you want snow and haven't got any yet hopefully this will help. Or if you're roasty toasty and need to cool down then the icy water and beautiful snow laden trees may help too. But on the other hand, if you're in the middle of blizzard's {Sorry Canada} then I'm sorry I'll post some sunny photo's next week to help keep you cosy.
And that's it for this week . . . my day book, although a day later than usual. Don't forget to pop over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries : D

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Take time to think....

I thought it might be time to stop and perhaps take a leaf out of Santa's book....


Not necessarily go surfing but to stop and sit awhile or better still to take a breather whilst out walking. Clear the chesticles, mind, soul and all that.
I can say that today because yesterday I finished dressing the tree and baked two batches of mincepies. Whoohoo ;D
So the weather was perfect this morning....sorry I don't mean to gloat but it was! The sun was shining  but it was cool, crisp and clear. So do you need a break from the festive fever.
Come on and I'll shall show you some things I saw on my route.....

Get the kettle on...sit down and take 5!


I'm surprised that this photo came out at all really because the fungi was sitting quite high up the tree and I had to capture it with my arms stretched up and on tipytoe. Not bad eh?


This Jacaranda was certainly enjoying the morning sunshine too.


I remember the first time I saw a jacaranda was in South Africa. I don't think I'd ever seen anything like it before. The street was lined on both sides giving a spectacular sight.

I thought this tree looked like a chap that had some comment to make as I passed but managed to hold back...or is that just me??? Eek...I must check my medication!

There was a bush bearing fruit but I'm not sure what it was...?

If anyone can shed some light on what it is...shout up....
here's a close up of the fruit to help...


And here's the Agapanthus growing randomly near the railway line.

nearly done...ahhh....


And just to show I wasn't telling any porkie pies...here's my mince pies to prove it.
I haven't put the recipe on today but if you would like it just let me know and I'll add it on....

I'm always transported back in time when making my mince pies, to a time when I needed a chair to reach the table top in order to help my Grandma make her's. She used to make them for the whole family. I remember thinking there were hundreds but maybe that's just in my memory. I do know the exact amounts but there were lots. Her kitchen became a hive of industry with flour puffs, icing clouds, and a good pinch of laughter.
Perfect memories...... :D

Right that's it for today...off you go....get busy peeps! Tea break's over.
Have fun....

p.s. Oh my...I really do need to check my medication...I thought it was Tuesday today, otherwise I'd have posted my Simple Woman's Journal. Oh well that'll have to be tomorrow now. Merry Madness!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Its all written in the book...

So how was your weekend? Yeah mine too! Phewph.
By Sunday afternoon I was losing the plot....and needed to stop the madness for a few hours.
It would have been nice to chill on the beach as the temperature was quite high as well as the humidity but I never managed that.....



For one thing the Christmas tree lights that were working when I tested them, decided they didn't want to play once I'd spent about two hours placing them strategically on the branches. I may be slightly exaggerating? Anyway I had to go on a shopping trip that wasn't planned but still came home without any....don't ask?
We also had a Christmas evening with friends booked at a fabulous Italian restaurant on the Southbank called Scusami. All twelve of us raved about it. The Artisan Pasta starter was my OH's favourite and the Duck was fabulous, I can recommend it.
It was also Muffin's birthday too, but she didn't get an invite nor had a pooch party...poor thing. The thunderstorm was the main event for her so she wasn't happy. Or maybe she's reached that age where you'd rather not have a birthday or changing the numbers around works better!

She's still a cutie and ready to play at anytime so she's doing well.

I've had great success with my 'to-do' tick list today and finally my Christmas cards are winging their way to the four corners of the world... my purse is feeling extremely lighter. I think it's probably the only thing that does lose weight at this time of year!

I was thinking yesterday when organising my cards etc that I suppose in our modern technological age that we happen to be in ~ whether or not we want to be ~ we will see the art of keeping a stylish delightful festive book possibly disappearing. Mine notes down all family and friends details ie addresses, gifts given and how to plan and organise events...it helps to keep me sane. Or as sane as I can be!
We'll have entries in our mobile phones and computers....but I like my traditional practical record book! Am I being stubborn and showing my age maybe? Don't answer that on the grounds that it might incriminate me!
But this book is stored carefully away in my Christmas storage boxes with all the other decorations...safe and sound, only to appear to keep me on track with my festive organisations. I can't remember last week never mind if I sent a card to my Great Aunt and if I did what was her address? All these questions are answered so there's no anguish over the finer details.
I know it’s all written there...on beautiful gold pages with tips, tear out shopping list pages, a plastic wallet for receipts instead of tucking them away in some safe nook or cranny, that I can never find! I've also just found a letter to Santa from my son written years ago when he was just a little toot....priceless.
There are lots of beautiful sayings and Carols written in it too, some I'd never heard before. So I thought I'd share some of them with you....
I have a list of folks I know,
All written in a book,
and every year when Christmas comes,
I go and take a look.


And that is when I realise
That these names are more a part
Not only of the book they're in,
but of my very heart......          
~ Author unknown



Don't shake that package,
don't peek 'neath the wrapping for a better view.
And don't ask too many questions;
It might be for you.                 
~ Author unknown


The holly's up, the house is all bright,
the tree is ready, the candles alight,
rejoice and be glad, all children tonight!   
~ Peter Cornelius

I'm heading back to dress the tree now....hopefully to complete it this time.
Have fun and whatever happens...just keep taking long slow deep breaths and enjoy! ;D
        Merry Monday!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Snow Soup...

After reading about all the chilliness out there yesterday, not here though I hasten to add...another hot one today. But it made me remember an old soup recipe that a friend passed to me. I haven't made it for quite some years but thought the title alone was appropriate for the current season...Snow Soup!
Forgive me for not making it and posting my own photo's {I borrow the one below from ifood.tv } Its not a soup kinda day here....fresh prawn salad is on the menu.
Anyway, back to my story...by the way, did you get yourself a cuppa?....I'll wait for you.....okay ready.... ;D
So we were living in Brunei at the time and had been invited round to our Kiwi friends house for dinner. She had prepared snow soup as a starter {even in Brunei we tried our best to create and carry on the Christmas traditions} The soup was so unusual and as you do we had to guess the ingredients.
Some we managed but some were a complete surprise. Its a very simple recipe that hopefully you'll try and enjoy.
The colour of the soup can vary but the picture below is very like I remember only mine was smoother. My son doesn't do bits in his soup!



SNOW SOUP
Recipe (I'm afraid I can't remember how many servings but think possibly 4 going by the amounts below)

1 cup of raw potato ~ chopped
1/2 cup of onion ~ chopped
1/2 cup of apple ~ peeled and chopped
1 large diced banana
1/2 cup of celery ~ chopped
1 1/2 cups of good chicken stock
1 cup of cream
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 tablespoon of curry powder

Method

1.Using a large saucepan soften the onion first then add the chopped potato, apple and celery. 

2. When softened add the banana and lastly the chicken stock.

3. Cool ingredients.

4. Taking care that the ingredients are cool enough ~ liquidize (or vitamize as my friend described it)
5. Take care by placing a cloth over the top in case steam escapes.

6. Once smooth place back into the large pan.

7. Finally add the cream, butter and curry powder.

It's that simple....plus you can have fun with the family trying to guess all the ingredients.
I hope you enjoy it ;D




Thursday, 8 December 2011

Just a quickie......

I'm going to do a very quick post this afternoon...basically because it's been one 'humdinger of a day'.
I haven't sat down since I first walked Muffin this morning. Not even for a cuppa! I know I thought I might be ill too!
I've been extremely busy as I imagine you all have too, but I did make some progress....phewph!
{in a hushed voice...I bought some pressies so I feel so much better now}
And...I'm quite pleased with myself because I bought my first Nutcracker...I say first because I'm not sure if they'll be a little army of them at some stage? I've been seeing them out there in blogdom and wondered why I'd never bought one before....well now I have.
I've yet to find him a new home but he is very smart and quite blingy, so will look stunning wherever I put him I'm sure, especially with a little greenery around him.
I'll no doubt post about him later...once I find him a good spot.
Unfortunately the Christmas tree is still bare but I'll get to that tomorrow. I just couldn't make it today, so I'll hopefully get the new set of lights tomorrow and tick that off my list .....diddledeedee....diddledeedee.....

I've also been hearing from quite a few of you, that you're feeling the winter chill and wanting some sunshine. I have to say we've had a warm one today....temperature reached 31 degree's C. I know you don't want to hear that but it has its downfall. It makes it really hard to shop in that kind of heat...thankfully the mall's all have air conditioning.
Nothing for it though after all that foot work once I got home but to cool and rest the weary feet.....ahhhhhhh.....

If you're in the heat stay cool....if you're in the cool stay cosy ;D

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Simple Woman's Day Book


FOR TODAY Wednesday 7th December 2011

Outside my window...Your going to hate reading this if you're heading into winter but there's beautiful sunlight with a gentle breeze swaying the branches of the tree's nearby. I'm searching but I can't see a cloud ~ sorry.

I am thinking...I may have ruined a friends blog this morning when I left a comment. In fact I left four in error. I was very moved by what she'd written and replied before thinking things through properly then my laptop started to have a tizzy fit and when it sorted itself out there were four comment entries. Grrr!
Anyway, I won't feel offended in any way if she deletes them ~ honest!

I am thankful...for wonderful friends in my book club. Yes, we're a Book Club but there's a little more to it than that. We had a brilliant night out celebrating the end of a great reading year last night. Hence a latter post {Yawn.  :O }
We had great fun exchanging surprise gift wrapped books each with a number allocated. We then each picked a number in turn and matched the book with the number which determined which surprise pressie we received. It was great to see all of the beautiful books which will provide some great reading material plus a lovely meal too with great company. A great night.
There's been lots of ups and downs in each of our lives over the last few years but we've all been there for each other. Supporting and listening when needed. Sometimes you just need a friends ear.

In the kitchen...a pack of butter sitting ready for a session of baking. I took it out of the fridge earlier but I can't leave it too long {in a hushed voice so that those in cooler climes won't hear me} because it'll melt!

I am wearing...a vest, mid calf jeans and bare feet.

I am creating...hopefully a beautifully festive home for the Christmas holiday. The tree is up but not dressed yet ~ its all in its nakey ~ so that'll be today's job.

I am going...to buy more Christmas lights. I know I've got four sets for the tree already and surprisingly they are all working when I tested them yesterday ~ which is miraculous. But I need one large set so that I can eliminate all the wires and plugs. Besides I can use the old ones in the kitchen. I love to decorate my space as that's where all the magic happens....well, hopefully.
Besides you can never have enough bling at Christmas time.

I am wondering...If I should nip out for some shopping or leave it for another day. All the car parks are beginning to get very full and you need stealth, patience, cunning, precision, and sometimes just good luck to get a spot. It's nearly turning into an Olympic sport!
The local shops are fine though and have piped Christmas music playing along the main street which is a first for me and I have to say makes towards the atmosphere of good cheer. My local shop keepers are all a jolly friendly lot anyway but even more so at this time.
We just need a day of snow {one day should do it....Christmas Day please} Not the 32 degree's celcius that's being forecast.

I am reading...Bound Feet and Western Dress which is one of the books I picked up last week from the charity shop

 
"In China, a woman is nothing."
Thus begins the saga of a woman born at the turn of the century to a well-to-do, highly respected Chinese family, a woman who continually defied the expectations of her family and the traditions of her culture. Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last emperor and the Communist Revolution, Chang Yu-i's life is marked by a series of rebellions: her refusal as a child to let her mother bind her feet, her scandalous divorce, and her rise to Vice President of China's first women's bank in her later years.

In the alternating voices of two generations, this dual memoir brings together a deeply textured portrait of a woman's life in China with the very American story of Yu-i's brilliant and assimilated grandniece, struggling with her own search for identity and belonging. Written in pitch-perfect prose and alive with detail, Bound Feet and Western Dress is the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of customs and duty.
 
From the Back Cover
After long afternoons spent with her great-aunt Yu-i drawing forth her story, Pang-Mei Natasha Chang, a first-generation Chinese-American, paints an unforgettable saga of a woman, born in Shanghai at the turn of the century to a highly respected, well-to-do family, who continually defied the expectations of her class and culture.

'In China, a woman is nothing,' began Yu-i over tea and dumplings. 'This is the first lesson I want to give so that you will understand.' Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last Emperor and the Communist Revolution, Yu-i led a life marked by a series of rebellions that changed the course of her life, including the first and most lasting: her refusal to have her feet bound. And as Yu-i confides her innermost dreams and demons, Pang-Mei comes to understand something of her own ambivalence regarding her Chinese heritage - and the ever-present tug between familial duty and desire.

Bound Fee & Western Dress is an exquisitely written dual memoir that tells the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of custom and tradition, a deeply textured portrait which braids a woman's life in China with the very Western story of a young woman's search for identity and belonging.


About the Author:-

Pang-Mei Natasha Chang was raised in Connecticut. She received her B.A. in Chinese Studies from Harvard and a J.D. degree from Columbia University School of Law. She practiced Law in New York City before moving to Moscow, where she currently resides with her husband. Bond Feet and Western Dress is her first book.

I've only read the critical acclaims so far so can't give my review just yet, but it looks a gripping, moving story. I'm looking to reading it.

I am hoping...to clear my guest bedroom of all the Christmas boxes that I've been rummaging through. There's chaos in there at the moment but its on my list to clear them back up into the store room.

I am looking forward to...I know my daughter is going to get VERY annoyed with me when she reads this {she says you'll all be bored with this section after me posting it so often} and I'm sorry if you're tired of hearing me but I've only got 13 sleeps before she arrives. I'm getting so excited I can't sit still.
: D {Huge Grin)

I am hearing...birds in full voice. There's a blackbird who perches on a tree in our garden and gives a wonderful concert to all who'll listen. There's also a very high pitched chirp that I don't recognise...not sure who that little visitor is? I'll have to investigate. Then of course the Rainbow Lorikeets and Magpies have to have their say....
Muffin's snoozing away and I can just about hear her deep breathing if I listen carefully. There's the odd car too but mostly its very quiet today.

Around the house...At the moment its very quiet and peaceful but as soon as I finish this post I'll have music blasting to motivate me. It always works for me. The more a don't like the job in hand the louder the music. Good job the neighbours are too near otherwise it'd be 'There she goes...Neesie must be ironing again'.

I am pondering...As I walked with Muffin this morning along our favourite walk, I saw so many sights and images that I would love to have captured on my camera....but alas as always I never have it with me when I need it.
It made me think of all the ephemeral surprises, twists and turns that can come passing and effecting our lives that if we don't stop and capture them...they're lost.
That's why I particularly like to do this post every Wednesday. It gives me the chance to stop and take in my surroundings, have contemplation and to re-evaluate.

One of my favorite things...Is having my constant companion Muffin. She never gets tired of seeing me. She is always so forlorn when I leave but ecstatic when I return. She listens to all my natterings without bias or boredom and sometimes even gives a little comment with a soft gruff.
She curls up by my side or feet waiting for my every move.
I never thought a dog would give so much pleasure and devotion. I know I'm a better person since she came into my life.

A few plans for the rest of the week: At the risk of boring you... it's got to be Christmas preparations I'm afraid. I've still got pressies to buy and decorations to finish. The tree needs dressing and I've so many recipes and lists to complete. But I'll get there....I always do its just a case of "'DON'T PANIC"!
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


This is Fergie ~ my daughter's cat {well he's her fianc├ęs really but they pooled the cats}
 She has Chloe ~ a rag doll ~ whom may be featured in future posts but I thought as I always feature Muffin, it was time to present a cat to keep the balance!
Fergie sure knows comfort and where to find it! Purrrrrrrrrr.............
And that's it for this week . . . my day book. Don't forget to pop over to the Simple Woman to check out the other day book entries : D
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