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

Friday 25 February 2011

Rollerblading Revival

To say my family are slightly nervous about my next pursuit is an understatement. That maybe because its been too many years, especially for me to divulge here, since I last participated in this kind of activity.....
I'm talking Rollerblading....
In my mind, I'm still a natural with the ability to do turns and curves, but in reality I'm afraid this is still to be perfected. I'm hoping its like riding a bike....everything will click into place and away I'll go.
It all started when I came across the blades in one of our freight boxes and I've had it in mind to give them an airing since then.
It's a box on my list that has to be ticked.

With having a cycle path so near to the house it'll be perfect. Well, I have a confession to make...it wasn't only the sight of the blades that sparked off my interest. It could have had something to do with a tall young guy whoosing past me one morning, whilst I was out walking Muffin. I couldn't resist watching his technique in his Lycra shorts.
It just looked such a good form of exercise especially for the gluts!!!
Truly, if his were anything to go by anyway.

I think my family's nervousness could be the fact that the creek runs extremely near to the cycle path in parts. Glug...glug....glug

I remember when we lived in Qatar, there used to be a young girl who lived near by and she had her dog pull her along - not sure that'll work with Muffin, for the following reasons...
(1) She's only 4.6 kilo's and I'm a big lump compared to that.
(2) She constantly stops abruptly in her sniffathon and that could be disastrous.
(3) She's a diva and she would be horrified I had even thought she might be suitable.

Ahhh....the open road.

Bring on the buns of steel!

Thursday 24 February 2011

How Dare They....?

It was a beautiful morning with sun, blue sky and a perfect temperature....
just what we need before the start of autumn next week.
It certainly wasn't the sort of morning that you would want spoiling by an invasion!
I'm not talking of the little green men or the body-snatching kind - no just small, wrinkly, furry greedy insatiable hungry grubby kind!

I've been painstakingly taking tender care of my plants over the summer months, and none more so than my vine. Call me naive but I'm hoping that I might actually produce a grape from it one day soon. (It might well be ONE grape if I'm lucky) Hope springs eternal....

Anyway, but look what horrors I found....

It's necessary to just comment here that I can appreciate the beautiful colours, patterns etc of these creatures - BUT NOT ON MY VINE

I love to have butterflies hovering around the garden and so therefore a small thought passed through my head, that perhaps I should leave them to evolve, but then there are so many my plant would be stripped. They've got to go!
I know we share this planet but please not my vine.....

I tried to identify them by going online, but unfortunately the more I looked at numerous photo's the more sickly I began to feel. Breakfast began to talk back to me. Especially after watching so many of them inch there way along the leaves....gulp.
If anyone knows more about them, or what I can do to evict them, other than snipping off all the munched leaves, please let me know.

Tuesday 22 February 2011


We have been having a considerably cool summer here in Melbourne this year.
In fact, we're nearly out of summer....eek! What a thought.
It really brought it home to us last night as we sat outside having dinner, we commented amongst ourselves on how like a UK summer it had been - decidedly chilly - but ever hopefully that the sun would shine. Thankfully most days it does but there's been a really chilly nip to the air recently.
With unprecedented amounts of rainfall too, it shouldn't have been a real surprise to see this fine specimen on my walk this morning.

I've never been brave enough to just take a chance or pick from the wild (but I know a few people who do and seem to be fine) but I'm not really sure about mushrooms and therefore a little nervous about picking them...
I'll just admire them through the camera lens.

Safe but sure.....and buy from the market!

Sunday 20 February 2011

Man's Best Friend...

All shih tzu's should come with a warning.....
do not get too close, especially within reach of the tongue.

and Muffin is no exception....

Tuesday 15 February 2011

As if by Magic....here's one I prepared earlier

Abracadabra...and here's the cake that came from the Kitchenaid 'Wishing Well'....(see previous blog if your confused)
Lemon Squares

Its the first time I've baked these little lemon treats, but they have been well received, and they've only been out of the oven for about an hour!

Lemon Squares
(makes 20) Preparation time 10 minutes, Cooking 30 minutes

250g plain flour
a good pinch of salt
70g icing sugar
175g unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

For the topping

2 large unwaxed lemons
4 large eggs
230g caster sugar
45g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
extra icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350F, Gas 4)

Grease a 28cm x 23cm x 4 cm baking tin or roasting tin.

Put the flour, salt and icing sugar in a food processor.

Dice the butter and add to the flour with the vanilla essence.

Process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Tip the crumbs into the prepared tin and spread out in an even layer.

Press down firmly using the back of a spoon to make a firm base.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until pale golden, then remove from the oven but leave the oven on.

Grate the zest from the lemons and squeeze out the juice.

Put in the food processor with the remaining topping ingredients and process for 10 seconds to make a smooth, thin batter.

Pour the lemon mixture over the shortbread base, then return the tin to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until just set.

Remove and leave to cool completely.

When cool, cut the lemon-topped shortbread into 20 squares and carefully remove the tin.

Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 4 days.

Not suitable for freezing.

Red Sexy Aid.....

How sexy is this aid?
Yep, I thought that would get your attention.....but this isn't an aid that should be hidden away in a drawer or cupboard. It demands attention and should be proudly exhibited on a kitchen work surface.

Its the Kitchenaid Mixer of course.

I know they've been around for years, but its new to me and I love it. I've wanted one for ages but never got around to buying one, but thankfully my other half decided to finally tick that particular box.
I'm not under any illusions that he's solely done this for me. The fact that after unpacking the mixer, he just stared into the bowl, as if gazing into a wishing well and a cake would magically appear convinced me it was also on his wish list.

Well, I suppose it will appear magically for him...but for me they'll be some input, but I'm sure it'll be a pleasure.

Am I sad? Possibly, but then I'm not alone, because my daughter has confessed to 'having feelings' for her newly purchase Kitchenaid too!

The Kitchenaid Story:

Like many home appliances, the standing mixer has industrial antecedents. In the 1908, engineer Herbert Johnson was observing a baker mixing bread dough with a metal spoon; soon he was toying with a mechanical counterpart. By 1915, his 80-quart Hobart mixer was standard equipment on all U.S. Navy vessels, as well as in many commercial bakeries.
World War I intervened before Hobart could jump into the residential market, but by 1918, company executives were testing models in their homes. "I don't care what you call it," legend has one of the executives' spouses espousing, "all I know is it's the best kitchen aid I've ever had."
The name stuck. The first 5-quart countertop KitchenAid mixers were not cheap:$189.50, or about $2,000 in 2002 dollars. Weighing in at 65 pounds, they weren't convenient, either. But that all changed in 1936, when pioneering industrial designer Egmont Ahrens trimmed the mixer down and chopped the price to $55. The iconic Streamline shape has changed so little that Ahrens' bullet silhouette is patented.
In the early years, retailers were slow to take on the KitchenAid mixer. To counter their reluctance, Hobart established a direct sales force made up primarily of women who went door to door offering demonstrations of the new food preparation tool. With the creation of citrus juicer and food grinder attachments in 1919, KitchenAid mixers were on the road to becoming the versatile "food preparation tools", as they were subsequently styled. Today's KitchenAid stand mixers can be converted to anything from a pasta maker to a sausage stuffer or grain mill with the addition of optional attachments.
The mixer's mechanics remain virtually unaltered, too. An attachment made in 1919 -- the pea shucker, for instance -- will fit on today's model. Tens of millions of KitchenAid mixers have been manufactured at the same Greenville, Ohio, factory that produced the first one in 1919.


Sunday 13 February 2011

Mirka Mora at Heidi Art Gallery

Yesterday, I was finally able to use my son's Christmas present.

It wasn't the usual CD, Cookery Book or Perfume (although there's nothing wrong with any of these presents and I would have gratefully accepted any one of them) but this present came without wrapping, no tell-tell lumps and bumps, or perfumed smell - just a thin envelope.

I was intrigued....

Inside it contained an invitation to have the honour of meeting Mirka Mora, at the Heidi Museum of Modern Art for arvo tea (afternoon tea for people outside of Australia).

(The Heidi Museum of Modern Art)

It was brilliant to sit amongst Mirka's paintings and listen to her reminisce about various times in her life. She is an incredible inspiration, not only for her Art, but to live life to the full. The only time the smile evaporated and reluctance came across was when the curator mentioned her lucky escape from entering Aacuschwitz and the Germans, but then she beamed her smile across the room proclaiming how lucky she had been. I was left with the impression that she could have talked for hours, in her beautiful Parisienne accent about so many interesting times, and I for one would have happily sat and listened, as I'm sure would the rest of the visitors in the room.

We later moved on from the Gallery for tea, sandwiches and cakes, taking a leisurely stroll through the gardens.
Mirka took time with everyone and her personal charisma shone like a beacon.

Signing autographs and even impromtu drawings, whilst constantly entertaining everyone with her wicked sense of humour and infectious smile.

The painting of the rear glass windows at Heidi.

The afternoon light coming through the window is perfect to show off her work.

I love this picture of Mirka.....

A little information....
Madeleine 'Mirka' Zelik was born in Paris in 1928 to a Jewish Lithuanian father, Leon Zelik, and a Romanian Jewish mother, Celia 'Suzanne' Gelbein. In post-war Paris at the tender age of 17 Mirka met her future husband, Georges Mora. They soon married and their first son, Philippe was born in 1949. Two years later the young family emigrated to Australia where they became the centre of a flowering artistic and intellectual Melbourne. Mirka had early training in mime and drama but it is painting that has been her focus. She had two more sons but still managed to pursue a successful artistic career. She works in a range of media including drawing, painting, embroidery and doll-making, and has made numerous public artworks including mosaic murals at Flinders Street Station. In 1999 she had a major retrospective at the Heide Museum of Modern Art which was seen by 16,000 people. In 2002 she was made Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. She lives in Melbourne alongside her son William and his family, and continues to paint daily

To find out more about Mirka and her amazing life...

Wednesday 9 February 2011

It's a Dog's Life.....

My other half had no idea of the cunning plan that was afoot this morning....
Muffin jumped up onto the bed at the sound of the alarm, like a greyhound out of a trap. I know thats hard to imagine of a shuh tzu, but believe me she was on a mission.
Immediately, she greeted him with such enthusiasm you could easily have been mistaken that he had been out of her sight for at least eight months and not quite eight hours!
After lots of fussing, finally my other half managed to drag himself out of bed.
Upon re-entering the bedroom after his shower, he realised that he had been had.....
There was an incentive to get him out of bed....it involves a warm, cosy, soft place to carry on the snoozing.....Ahhh....Egyptian Cotton!
Believe me, I didn't touch the covers - this is how she arranged them. Not sure whose top dog but I can make a good guess.

And to think there's a saying "its a dog's life" well, in our house at least, its a pretty good one.

Monday 7 February 2011

Gardiners Creek Overflow

I've seen many unusual sights since my move to the Gardiner Creek area, from streakers and men dressed in French Maid's outfits running through the undergrowth (possibly some dare, or stag night antic - moving on swiftly) but this past weekend, really left local residents and myself in shock. After a heavy thunderstorm lashed down on Friday night, which came unannounced, the creek rose to unprecedented high levels and overflowed in several parts.

These are not crop circles but the imprint from large water tanks. If you look into the distance you can see where the tanks were carried by the water flow.
Here's a close up.....

The power of nature never ceases to amaze me.
Its when you witness sights like these, that you appreciate it strength.

This tree trunk was lifted and placed right into the middle of an oval. On a personal level, we had water cascading down our interior hall wall, and an improvised shower through our spotlights in the bedroom. Thankfully, not the one's over our bed.
I'm not sure I'd like that kind of water bed!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Nelson Mandela - Robben Island

I was so relieved to hear the news that Nelson Mandela (also known by his clan name "Madiba")
was recovering at home in Johannesburg, after spending a few days in hospital suffering from a respiratory infection.
He contracted tuberculosis in 1988 while in jail on Robben Island and also had a respiratory infection eight years ago, so now at 92 years of age, it certainly causes some concerns.
Not only is he the former president but he is also a huge iconic figure throughout the world.
It brought all my memories back of my trip to Robben Island, when I was last in South Africa. I'd like to take you there too.....

If you ever travel to Cape Town you must go and visit the island. I can highly recommend the tour.

Robben Island South Africa

Here's a link to some history of Robben Island and timescales
My arrival....(unlike previous 'visitors') allowed me through the entrance wearing my shoes along with all my other trivial accessories

Previous 'visitors' couldn't.....They were also made to wear shorts, no socks or underwear whatever the weather conditions.

Nelson Mandela's cell where he lived for 18 of his 27 years in prison - just 5 meters square

He was imprisoned in 1964 and was the 466th prisoner to arrive that year. The prison administration's scheme of numbering prisoners was to follow the sequence number of the prisoner, therefore "Prisoner 46664" was imposed on him by the prison for over 25 years.

Today your tour guide might well be a former ex-political prisoner. This gives you the opportunity to hear first hand about life and conditions that makes it a price-less experience plus bring it all very much from a museum into reality. Its also a rather emotional insight.

The board to the left of our guide gave the details of an actual previous inmate.

Prisoners' diets were determined by their race.
The main proportion of any meal was mealies (corn) sometimes supplemented with rice or beans.

Nelson with Walter Sisulu in the prison yard, 1966.

At Robben Island Prison, inmates were required to sit in the sun and break up rocks by hand. Nelson who served 27 years in this prison, suffered damage to his eyes from the glare.

The limestone quarry was used for hard labour of maximum security prisoners like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.
Conditions were harsh – limestone dust caused lung damage, the rock was blindingly bright in direct sunlight, and there was only a small cave to shelter from the elements. Rock was broken from the quarry face manually, and then broken down into small pieces to be used as road gravel.
The men used their time in the quarry to teach each other a variety of different things, from languages to history to current events.

In 1995 over 1000 ex-political prisoners attended a reunion on Robben Island. As they left the prisoners added a rock to a reunion cairn which had been started by Nelson Mandela. Previously, visitors would be allow to disembark from the tour bus, but that is no longer the case. They began to take the stones as souvenirs.

Later in his sentence Nelson Mandela fought for permission to grow a garden on Robben Island and succeeded.

In his words: “To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.”
The simple act of gardening helped Nelson Mandela sustain his longer–term perspective, re-emphasised a sense of responsibility beyond himself and provided a link to freedom.
Powerful stuff!

“Today when I look at Robben Island, I see it as a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit, rather than as a monument to the brutal tyranny and oppression of apartheid. It is true that Robben Island was once a place of darkness, but out of that darkness has come a wonderful brightness, a light so powerful that it could not be hidden behind prison walls… '
Nelson Mandela

This little chap was enjoying the sunshine and oblivious to all the visitors.

The view across to Cape Town and Table Mountain, on the return ferry back from Robben Island.

During his imprisonment in 1974, Nelson began writing clandestinely his autobiography 'Long Walk to Freedom'.
To millions of people around the world, Nelson Mandela stands, as no other living figure does, for the triumph of dignity and hope over despair and hatred, of self-discipline and love over persecution and evil.

'Long Walk to Freedom' embodies that spirit in a book for all time.

One of the most remarkable lives of the twentieth century.

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