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

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Thelma and Louise....visit to Edinburgh

In true 'Thelma and Louise' style my In-Laws (both Mother and Sister) have taken a road trip up to visit my daughter in Edinburgh, Scotland for the Bank Holiday weekend. This would normally necessitate in a 3 to 4 hour drive from their home in Cheshire. But they haven't driven there before.

After 6 hours we did begin to wonder if they had driven off at Lands End....in true 'Thelma and Louise' style, but after numerous phone calls and redirections they finally made it safely to my daughter - 8 hours travelling in total! The reason for the delay by the way was a truck had lost its load just at the junction they needed to exit. Typical.

Phewph....hopefully it'll all be worth it.
(Photo courtesy of http://www.booking.com/city/gb/edinburgh)

Just now its Festival time in Edinburgh from 21st August to 3rd September so you'll have to hurry if you want to catch the fun. Here's some information about the Festival

With my daughter able to show my blog to her visitors, I thought I'd send my Mother-in-Law a little surprise today. I know the journey here is just not possible for her now, so I thought I'd send a little reminder of her time spent living in Perth back in the late 1960's. Its the vociferous Magpies and if you have never heard them before it really is a unique sound to Australia.

Unlike the UK magpies these babies are huge, noisy and can be aggressive. They are a favourite of many Aussies and I've know so many people feed them by hand. Personally looking at those beaks makes me think it’s not for me. Apparently they love mince!

My Mother-in-law used to describe to us how she would wear a pan or colander on her head, whilst hanging out the washing, especially at nesting time. The Magpies would swoop and dive making the task hazardous without suitable head gear. I can just visualise when she hears they're song again, she might want to dive for cover. Magpies singing

Still nursing the sick here today, but at least the suns shining.... hopefully it is in Edinburgh too =D
Have fun together everyone XxX

Monday 29 August 2011

Coughs and Sneezes....

My other half has always been generous, but I do wish he hadn't been over this last weekend. No I haven't been showered with gifts, chocolates, or flowers. Instead he's passed on his horrendous cold...and it wasn't Man Flu either. That I could have coped with. No, this one was full blown sneezes, snivels and sn** (lots of cold systems shall we say and leave it there).
What a household....and then there's Muffin still wondering 'what the....happened'! She's doing okay, but I think she keeps forgetting that she's had surgery and starts to dash only to come to an abrupt holt! Twisting round to see whats attacking her side. She just sits and looks at me with them huge eyes....until I give in a carry her. The trouble is she could get used to this - I'll have to be careful - do something twice for her and its a habit.
Poor thing, we haven't ventured out for her walk since last Friday, so cabin fever will be setting in soon. Maybe we'll be able to manage a little walk tomorrow.
So I wondered around the garden with my camera again today. The gardens certainly bursting into life.

 I love the light shining through this 'Bird of Paradise' plant.

 And guess what I was wrong about the Wisteria....its not white after all....
I really should get on with some housework...look at this cobweb.

I'm quite glad I didn't see the owner :-(

I feel like something sweet...hmm....I had thought to bake some cookies, so I'll have to see if I can muster up some enthusiasm

Friday 26 August 2011

Spring has Sprung DownUnder

I'm trying to keep busy this morning to distract myself...not always a hard job to do, but today is particularly challenging. Why? Because I did book Muffin in for her 'little Op' as the vet receptionist described today's procedure. So without breakfast nor her walk I dropped her off at the surgery. She's certainly switched on when she wants to be and she knew immediately that something was afoot.
So how to keep busy.....? I wanted to be on hand so thought I'd wonder around the garden checking out all the new spring additions would be a pleasant way to while away some of the time.
I wasn't disappointed....Azalea's seem to be a favourite of the previous owners and I must say they are looking spectacular in all their glory just now.
Unfortunately I don't know which variety they are...

 But they all seem to be enjoying the beautiful sunshine

I'm also so pleased to have a wisteria here because I did plant one back in Scotland and then left to go abroad, so I never even got to see it flower. I think this one here will be white but I'm looking forward to the display once the curtain rises.
 I brought this pot of Jasmine from our last place and it looks like its settling in nicely.

I love the way it twists and raps around the support...I'd better not stand still for too long

Even the fern's are putting on a show....with new shoots unfurling in the centre.

 What hairy shoots....

Then look what I spotted at the top of this climber....I thought it was going to be an ordinary climbing rose bush but then I spotted the flowers right at the top....wow I think this one is going to be a stunner!

I had to take a chair and precariously balance with my camera on full zoom to reach this shot.
Good job I didn't have a little drop of something to calm my nerves this morning - I was wobbling enough without!

But look there's lots more to come from further down the plant. Lucky me =D
For anyone out there whose more interested in veggies than flowers here's a little segment for you....
If you read my post about something eating my broccoli well let me tell you the cayenne pepper trick worked. They're really coming on now.
So thanks to Rhyleysgranny http://teandwheatenbread.blogspot.com/ for her help in saving my broccoli.

Now I must show you these little babies! I haven't used them before but I think they're rather ingenious.
They are so practical for planting your veggies and I'm hoping the little wee beasties don't get to know what's inside.....

There's even Velcro flaps that allow you to go in through the bottom. Plus drainage holes for any excess water to escape. How clever. Maybe they've been around for a while (and I know I have too) but I've never seen them before.
Take a peek inside......

Yep, my tatties (that's potatoes to anyone who hasn't been to Scotland) and they're doing really well so far.
Plus I used a bag for finger carrots. I'm really looking forward to harvest time ; D

Although the sun is out and the temperature is warming up nicely we still haven't reached the official start of Spring here in Melbourne....that will be next week on 1st September.
Which is good because the salad will need a little longer to come to full fruition.
Happy Days....

Phewph...only two hours to go before I collect Madam Mufftypup....now what can I do next?????

HOT OFF THE PRESS.....Breaking news......Update.....
Madam Mufftypup has returned home safe and sound minus some feminine bits and two teeth. Still looks cute though even with wibblywobbly legs!

Tuesday 23 August 2011


Look who I caught in the act of trying to find a few warm rays first thing this morning....she's such a hot house plant! Although I suppose its only to be expected after all she is from the Middle East, so its no surprise that she's had enough of winter and ready for a little warmth....
She also loves the hairdryer blowing hot air on her and will always appear when I'm doing my hair for a quick blast. I'm surprised she hasn't found and hovered over the ducted heating vents! Well I don't think she has anyway, unless I've just not caught her.

(I love the light and shade in the photo, although it gives the impression she's in prison)
For the last few days thankfully its beginning to feel like spring. But then that gives me an added worry......In a whispered voice.... because before the sap rises any further I've now got to be brave and ring the vet to book her in to be desexed!
SHOCK, HORROR yes, I know its taken me this long to finally give in to the fact she's never going to be a mum. No granddogs for us :(
We always thought we'd find a match for her at some stage, but it proved too difficult in Qatar and then once here, every shih tzu we've met has been cross bred.
As you can imagine she's been very popular on her walks, but its all going to have to stop. Hopefully her cuteness will maintain her admirers but keep her out of trouble. I think Zac will remain faithful but we'll have to wait and see.
It's such a shame because I think she'd be a great mum, well as long as she got to the chicken first! 

I know when I finally manage to make that call and book her appointment, I'm going to be in a terrible tizz until its all over. I'll have to make sure I'm really busy that day.....

Sunday 21 August 2011

Chocolate and Orange Cake

As promised I finally got to baking today. I know I've been very remiss lately and believe me there have been grumblings from within the ranks. But that's all sorted now.....as we speak my son is yet again helping himself to a hefty portion.
I had numerous oranges spare and have always had a liking to Chocolate Oranges - the kind that you "tap and unwrap" - so I decided to make a cake which combined the two. I came across a Nigella Lawson recipe for a flourless chocolate orange cake, which I thought sounded pretty good and as we all know Nigella can certainly deliver on the no fuss, but incredible, delectable goodies to devour at leisure.

The easy way the ingredients are all sqwished in the food processor certainly made me feel I was cutting corners but the result was superb. So easy!

I made a few adaptions along the way and added melted good quality chocolate over the top and drizzle down the sides.

It was so moist and beautiful with a dollop of Crème Fraiche

I have to tell you this was one of the easiest cakes I've ever made and the result was perfect.
Here's the recipe......

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake 

1 Large Orange (or 2 small)
6 Eggs
1 heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder 
1/2 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda
200g of Ground Almonds
250g of Caster Sugar
50g of good quality Cocoa

As a variation you could always add a few drops of Cointreau into the orange mixture!
1.Put the oranges in a saucepan with cold water and bring to the boil before reducing the heat. 
2. Simmer for two hours or until soft. 
3.Drain the water from the oranges and set aside to cool.
4. When cool cut the oranges in half and remove any large pips.
5. Grease a 20cm spring form baking tin and preheat the oven to 180 degree's C (350 F)
6. Pulp the oranges in a food processor before adding the eggs, baking powder, bicard of soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa.
7. Process all the ingredients together until you have a smooth batter but not too much. You should still have a batter flecked with oranges.
8. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 1 hour.
9. Check the cake after 45 mins as you may need to cover it with foil to prevent burning before the cake is cooked all the way through.
10. Let the cake cool in the tin before removing.
11. Most important point......ENJOY! =D

Friday 19 August 2011


My friend and I were out walking with Muffin and Zac today, when suddenly we came under attack from above the tree canopy....or so we thought. It wasn't the usual hazard of the Noisy Miner birds that tend to swoop as near as they can to your head. (If you’re from here you'll know exactly what I mean) But this was something all together different.

As we walked along the pathway under the trees, loud thuds reverberated. Numerous heavy objects were falling from overhead. We rather foolishly went in closer to investigate - which could have resulted in injury - what we found were cones.....LARGE CONES.

What a noise they made when landing but then when you look at their size, it’s not so surprising they made such a loud noise. I dread to think what would happen if they happened to land on you....lights out probably?


Another dog passing by at the time thought it was a great new game....he was quite a large dog so therefore had no problem picking one up in his mouth. Then off he went...very happy with his new toy. Muffin and  Zac just looked on with envy. See size does matter! There's no way either Muffin or Zac could pick up one of those in their mouth.

And so who was to blame for all this commotion....a group of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo's (Calyptorhynchus funereus)
What a noise......

 After standing watching the antics for a while and dodging the fallout, we collected four to take home. I have never seen such big cones in my life. No wonder the cockatoo's were excited.

It was a great feast.
Here's the largest....

I couldn't resist getting the scales out when we got home....it weighs a staggering 425g!!!

I think we were right to be cautious with those falling from a great height don't you?

Thursday 18 August 2011

Where have all the 'Grow Bags' gone?

I wonder if anyone can help me?...Is it right that you don't have 'Grow Bags' here?
I've asked at numerous Garden Centres and retailers, but everyone looks at me strangely....or is that just me!

When I've grown tomatoes anywhere other than here, I've always used 'grow bags' which contain the correct nutrients etc for healthy prolific growth, especially tomato grow bags. Everything they need is already supplied in the bag.
So for now, due to the lack of a grow bag I've come up with the next best thing that hopefully will work...

{Variety...Patio Totem}
Just cutting holes into a compost bag and planting the toms there. I'm not sure how they will fare but hopefully they'll not notice the difference. As long as they're watered and fed, hopefully we'll have a good crop. I note that I'm using the word hopefully a lot : {
Fingers crossed at this stage....

{Variety...Patio Totem}

I've also planted snow peas and broadbeans....yum yum.....I thought I'd got runner beans too. but alas they must have fell through the trolley...I'll just have to go back again!

I noticed that the beans are next to this tree....which might help towards the climbing...plus it looks like its going to keep a close eye on them for me.
All we need now is for the sun to come back and do its bit... : D ... yay!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Hanging Flower Mangers.....

I would just like to know who changed all the clocks in our house to go quicker? Somehow every day seems to fly by faster and faster?
Its such a struggle to cram everything in, but today I did manage a big tick on my list. Finally I got to purchase the plants for my hanging baskets....well, hanging mangers to be precise.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned my silver soft top before...that's what my OH bought for me a while back, he told me to go into the garage to see my present..a silver soft top...you can imagine how quickly I ran to the garage and my delight to find a wheel barrow there instead of a shiny new sports car!
What a great way to spend a few hours today....totally engrossed in nature.
The mangers plus the liners were purchased a while back in the UK and came to join us in our freight.

Here's how I plant them up.....
1. Because of the difficult shape and the balancing act that's needed, I always prop them up on a plant pot to secure whilst planting. I've learnt this lesson over many years of the mangers tipping and then annoyingly losing the compost, plants and fingers!  

2. Now here's the secret that will necessitate in me killing you once I tell you.....
The main problem with hanging baskets is that they dry out and its quite a challenge to keep them moist enough throughout the summer months....especially here in Oz.
I think that's one reason why they aren't as popular as they could be. Especially with recent years and the water restrictions that are in place. So to combat this, once the outer lining is in place next spread out inside a large bin liner. The strong black refuse type. This will retain the moisture.
3. Then pour in a small amount of  compost initially....

And now on to the nice part....planting the plants.

4. I have seen so many hanging baskets here, that only have the plants spouting out of the top of the basket.
This just doesn't do the holder justice. There's so much more area that can maximise the impact if its used.
I tend to start near the bottom and equally distribute the plants around. Mixing the varieties as I go.

You will need to cut through the liner and the bin bag but only a little snip will suffice. Then comes the tricky part. You can go from the inside out through the hole or vice-versa...either the roots through from the outside or the leaves being pushed out from the inside. Confused......? It's difficult to describe sorry. You will need to be very careful not to crush/damage the delicate new shoots.

6. At this stage as you go along you should add more compost to cover the roots. After every level of plants add more compost.

7. Once all the sides have plants in place and the compost is up to the top I tend to place 3 larger plants in the centre that will give height with the trailing ones around the outside and down the front.

Here I have a Begonia in the centre with two Fuchsia's either side. Then Ivy added at the far ends of each side balances everything. There's also Geraniums, Petunias, Nasturtiums, and Lobelia to name but a few.

As usual I had my advisor on hand to keep me straight.....

I'll follow up with photo's of their progress and development as they settle in....

Friday 12 August 2011

Bloggerversary....who would have guessed?

Hey...I've just realised its my 2 year bloggerversary this week! Wow... I can hardly believe it.
I started this blog 2 years ago after my daughter encouragement me to "have a go". I'd never even heard of blogs! I know how did I manage?
Anyway, I reluctantly started with great intrepidation, but after slowly pushing myself, and sometimes flying without a safety net, I began to discover I could post. With lots of encouragement from my family, I slowly began to enjoy this whole new world of blogdom. I've learnt so much, but realise I've still got so much to learn...but that's the good thing about it....its a journey.
One thing I've noticed since I started, I've found I look at everyday things in a new positive way, a renewed artististic eye and posts would just pop into my head, sometimes at the most inappropriate times.
I've been amazed that 29 countries have viewed my blog!!! That blows my mind!
I adore hearing from readers and am thrilled if someone leaves a comment. So please come on leave me a message I'd love to hear from you.

(This is my blanket box but I think it looks a little like a treasure chest - which is quite appropriate talking about my blog - the time I spend reading, photographing and writing are very treasured moments for me)

I'd like to thank each and every one of you reading this and for all your support over the last two years, and hopefully your continued support over the coming years.
My thanks especially to my daughter for opening up this world to me, inspiring, encouraging, patience (especially when I became too enthusiastic during our telephone natters) and helping to close the miles between us.
Love you so much it hurts....

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Who ate all the Broccoli?

I'm so pleased with my broccoli... well I was until I checked the new shoots yesterday...

I'd forgotten what a battlefield the veggie plot can become...

And it looks like I'm not winning....

So there won't be broccoli soup here anytime soon. But I have been busy in the kitchen today. The temperature has dropped and its definitely soup making weather. So I've made Pumpkin soup instead.

Can you believe that I actually had difficulty sourcing some fresh pumpkin this morning. Perhaps everyone else has the same idea? It is rather a chilly damp day, so soup is just perfect.

Here's a previous post that shows the recipe I use.....its the family favourite. http://neesienatters.blogspot.com/2010/08/pumkin-soup.html

Monday 8 August 2011

The week starts with a bang!

Wow...Monday mornings certainly start off with a bang here in the new neighbourhood...quite literally. Imagine a scene from 'War of the Worlds' and you get some idea. It’s before dawn, when suddenly a loud vehicle comes crashing through the streets at break-neck speed with flashing lights and grabbing appendages flinging containers wherever they land.

What on earth can be happening? Can you guess? Well, it’s the refuse collection.

I decided that I couldn't possibly take any photos for this post. No matter which way I looked at the bins they just weren't attractive in any way, shape or form. So I decided to just post some pretty pictures of various plants in the garden.

I love the light and shade in this one....

Now this is just showing off....
Note the sun....not bad for winter eh?
I'm just off to the garden centre again for yet more compost and plants. My mission today is to fill my hanging baskets. I'll hopefully post the results when they're done.
What a lovely way to spend the day....
To give you some idea here's one of our gardens from Qatar. Not bad for the desert...

I know I should be cooking in the kitchen and I promise I will soon, but the sun's shining and the temperature is perfect for gardening.
By the way....talking of cooking...Congratulations to Kate for winning Masterchef 2011. 

Thursday 4 August 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever...

I've had such a lovely time this week enjoying the unseasonal warm weather. The temperature actually reached 21 degree's today! Crazy for winter.
So armed with a purse and not afraid to use it, I've visited local garden centres and nursery's wandering in the sunshine, filling trolleys and carrier baskets to the brim, on some occasions only stopping due to weight restrictions. I tried to restrain myself but it was tough. There's always so much I'd like to bring home.
Especially having a garden at last.

Whoever thought to put these little beauties into bright red pots knew what they were doing...
So irresistible
But then I wanted a large strawberry pot to replace one I used to own. Heaven knows where it disappeared to. Lost in one of our moves no doubt.

I did want to put some strawberries into hanging baskets too, so I'll have to revisit the garden centre.
Anyway, I've run out of compost - that's my excuse.

Just look at those flowers....hopefully they'll transform into beautiful, succulent, juicy strawberries soon.
I really must get back into the kitchen soon, there's been grumblings from the troops - "no cakee's" ; (
I know I've been neglecting my baking since the house move, but then the weather is predicted to turn wet next week. I'll make up for it then....
Happy Thursday! 
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