Friday, November 30, 2007

Magnolia Evening

Magnolia - Day Two

The bloom opened again this morning and it must have tasted really good because there was a constant stream of bees visiting it!

I took this photo from the front porch.

Miss Weasley's Greatest Gift

Miss Weasley has let me be a part of these gorgeous people's lives.

D-J (as in THE best J in the whole wide world) is an incredible young man. I could tell 'cute' stories about him but I respect that he may not want them posted here so instead I will just say that when work gets tough, D-J is the person my mind wanders to - he is only a fraction younger than the young people I work with but there the similarity ends. D-J is a real gentleman and it is an honor to know him. Oh, and can beat me at bball - and has been able to since he was three (which is about the age when he grew taller than me).

J-Bear will soon be the new bearant of Cheryl. I have never really shared my bears before (aside fro the wonderful C and J who are still fostering some for me), let alone give them to a new home but if there is anyone who I would trust to love and care for Cheryl, it is J-Bear. J-Bear will be living in America with the family soon and on the day she arrives, Cheryl will be there waiting in a pink box, with a purple blanket with her name sewn on with sequins (and the rest of traveling requirements that J-Bear has provided).

Miss J-May is an absolute bundle of love. She is smart and fun. She is caring and compassionate. She is an incredible human being. It was J-May who insisted on sleeping with me when she came to visit one time and then rolled over during the night - forcing me out of bed. So I moved to another bed, she followed - as did the the rock and rolling. Everyone knows the song "there was two in the bed and the little one said 'roll over, roll over', so they all rolled over and I went splat!" (well that is our version of it anyway :-)

So D-J, Fishface and Turkey Breath - welcome to my blog :-)

Whoops, better explain that last one when J-Bear was very very little I came up with the theory that you could say anything you wanted so long as you did it in the right tone of voice - for example I could read her the newspaper instead of a bedtime story if the highs and lows of my voice were right. J-Bear caught me doing the same when J-May was little and, after she got over her moral outrage, joined in. So the three of us share the names Turkey-Breath and Fishface as terms of endearment - after it it is not what you say but how you say it :-/ ... I think you just had to be there :-)

The Montezuma Experience

When we were on holidays, we took it in turns to select our eateries so on Friday night I selected Montezuma's - a Mexican style restaurant. As a bonus we had a coupon for a discount too.

The photos of the meals on the outside of the restaurant were stunning. The atmosphere was bright. The decorations were simple but fun. The place was very clean. On a back wall was a tv with a loop of photos taken from celebrations at the restaurant - lots of good food and smiling faces. Our wait staff was excellent.

I don't eat out very often - usually I scan menus and then go home and cook my favorite ideas - but when I do I try to order something that I wouldn't normally have at home. With this in mind I made my selections.

We ordered a variety of dips and stuff for starters - they were absolutely delicious. Maybe not entirely authentic but most Mexican food we eat is really an Australian version of Tex-Mex anyway so no real complaints. The chilli was fabulous - still can't identify one specific flavor but it made the dish.

And then came the main course. Miss Weasley selected and received the most awesome combination - an excellent selection on her part.

Mine ... well I can't remember exactly what it was called but it had "Mole" in the title which was a good start and described itself as chicken with an Aztec sauce and 50 odd herbs and spices (or something like that). The story was something about a nun creating the dish a few hundred years ago to honor a Bishop or Cardinal or someone equally important visited they pueblo .

I can tell you now the nun *really* didn't like the Bishop. And I mean *really* didn't like the Bishop. This was the absolute worst tasting meal I have ever had! And even when I scraped the sauce off the chicken it was dry. Did I send it back, no I smiled and thanked the wait staff very much - I mean the dish (apart from being dry) was EXACTLY as described on the menu. And was I being a doormat in not insisting on something different - no it was just that this ended up being the most hilarious time I have had with Miss Weasley in ages - and well worth any price.

Apparently I was pulling some faces as I kept nibbling, trying desperately to find a redeeming feature of the dish and Miss Weasley kept having fits of laughter which gave me equally strong fits of laughter. And by laughter, you know the one you have when you are desperately trying to suppress the laughter :-) All in all it just disintegrated into one of those times when both of us are having giggling fits, while trying to keep a straight face when staff or other patrons looked our way.

We had the best night - and I would genuinely recommend it to others - just avoid that one dish. Oh, and our coupon wasn't valid - it was for another Montezumas a couple of towns away :-)

Miss Weasley and Me

Miss Weasley has sent me her holiday snaps so indulge me while I post another couple of holiday memories. This is one of the very few photos of me and Miss Weasley so I thought I should start there...

This was our 'dressed up' night on the way to Alfies :-)


The last month or so seems to have been really busy what with work and going away on holidays and the rest but I didn't really realize how much time I had not spent in my garden until I looked at it yesterday. Yes the parsley had started to flower and I wanted it to go to seed but ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Magic Magnolia

A Magnolia Morning

My neighbor's magnolia opened this morning. Just sharing ....

Spider, Spider

I found this spider on my garbage bin yesterday. I know the photo isn't great but I wanted to share it anyway. I had never seen one like this - and especially since it was sitting smack, bang in the middle of its cross!

Am I Free and Do I Want To Go Sailing?

Was speaking to the world's most eligible bachelor (WMEB) last night - didn't have a long chat because he was being whisked off by one of his many admirers for a night of hot Latin dance - but he did invite me to go sailing with 'the gang'. They leave Perth on Friday morning, head out past Rottnest and then cruise to Lancelin for the weekend.

Now I have had to decline because I couldn't possibly get to Perth before lunch-time :-) and I certainly don't want everyone waiting for me on the dock (well that is my story and I am sticking to it). I passed on my regrets to WMEB but suggested he could come by and pick me up and go for a sail after they get home from Lancelin. He thought sailing to Broome would be good although I am advocating a Pacific island of some sort.

I have had similar conversations with WMEB over the years and it is always fun, yes I get taught to sail in exchange for chefing during the voyage (that is definitely a win-win for me) - and obviously landing somewhere fabulous.

Part of me desperately hopes that the joke remains just that - it is so wild and scary, and the other part of me considers the possibility of a spur of the moment, wild and scary sailing adventure and smiles wistfully.

I sailed with the WMEB and friends a couple of times when I lived in Albany - there was a tradition of moonlight harbor sails on a Friday night. They were incredible! Especially because the girls didn't actually have to sail, we just sat and ate strawberries and counted stars.

At moments like this I truly realize what a great life I have had :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

All I Want for Christmas ....

I love getting loot - really I do but as Christmas approaches I am again in the position where there really isn't anything that I think of to put on my list so .... without assuming that anyone was doing a present run (appreciating that family reads this blog too), if you were going to lavish me with gifts this festive season, I would like to 'get' something from the Oxfam or Tear Fund catalogues.Prices start from $5 for school supplies to $6500 for a water sanitation kit

For those unfamiliar with the process, you 'buy' me a cow or a tree or some vegetable seeds or condoms or a water pump or a pile of poo or a pair of shoes or some soap or whatever and instead of the present being sent to me (who has so much) it is sent to a family elsewhere in the world (who really needs it). This encourages self-sufficiency, the provision of food, the ability to raise money for education and health care and and and and .....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A REAL Local Hero

Bernie Banton passed away overnight. I know there will be many tributes that will flow in as the day progresses but at the moment I have no words but only tears. Rest in Peace Bernie and may that same peace extend to all of those who loved you. It was truly a life well lived....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Salad Days

I know it sounds a little silly but I do like to have a feature salad each summer. It isn't that it the only one I make, it is just one I feature (if only in my own head).

Two years ago I had my potato salad, last year was a tomato, basil and bocconcini mix and this year I was working with my version of Nigella's watermelon salad from the Forever Summer book of a few years back. Then I saw something very similar featured in a magazine so I figure everyone will be making it (big doh!) so..... here is my new feature salad for the summer :

Mango and Snow Pea Salad

2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
60ml (1/4 cup) rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tbs caster sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly shredded
1 small red chilli, seeded, sliced
2 mangoes, peeled
200ml light olive oil
1 telegraph cucumber, very thinly sliced lengthways
2 cups snow pea shoots
75g fresh mint leaves (or parsley)
6 spring onions, finely sliced

Place the ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, lime juice, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and chilli in a bowl. Set aside for 30 - 60 minutes to allow flavours to develop.

Place the flesh from one of the mangoes in a food processor and puree, then add the oil and process until smooth. Thinly slice flesh from the remaining mango and add to a bowl with the cucumber, snow pea shoots, mint and shallots.

Stir mango puree into the ginger mix and drizzle over the salad.

The original recipe called for the addition of chicken (as you can see in the picture) but I think it works just as well without. Mind you some cubed haloumi cooked until golden in a little butter would be a great addition if it was going to be served immediately now I think about it ;-)

Monday Sports Report

Okay so last week's report was deadly dull and boring and if I am going to continue, I need to make the whole thing more .. Mountaingirl :-) And thanks to the ABC for help with research on these fascinating sports :-)

Zorbing (done by Zorbanauts of course) is done in a zorb (the big ball).

The first site was set up in Rotorua on New Zealand's North Island, and since then zorb has rolled into Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. To date there doesn't appear to be a World Champion Zorber but I will keep my eyes out :-)

Cheese rolling is a sport conducted in England at Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake at which time the runners plunge down the course in pursuit of a big wheel of the region's famous Double Gloucester cheese!

Originally at midsummer, the festival is now held on the last Monday in May. Results of the 2008 Championship will be posted in due course. If you wish to follow up the results from 2007 - or get any more details on this exciting if not painful sport, check out the official website :-)

Bossaball is a brand new sport born in Belgium early in the 21st century. The game is is like a combination of beach volleyball and competitive trampolining, with a live South American soundtrack thrown in.

It's played on a specially designed inflatable court that features a round trampoline on each side of an adjustable volleyball-style net. The entire court and surrounding area are heavily padded for safety and the trampolines are circled by a big red barrier called the bossawall.

Bossaball has quickly become popular in Europe and South America and the portable court has allowed it to be played on beaches, in schools and at music festivals.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Late Matt Price

News just in with the very unfortunate passing of journalist Matt Price. I read him now and then but I saw him most often on ABC's "The Insiders".

Wiki has a good article for those who have missed this man's witty and insightful contributions. His blog will stand as tribute to his journalistic skill and ability to comment on both the serious and quirky side of politics.

I know he had a brain tumor but I haven't found any other details as yet.

He will be greatly missed.

Exit Stage Right

I don't agree with his politics or with his economical ethics but I do admire Pete for not standing for the leadership.

He has been screwed by Honest John so many times and his 'best' opportunity at leadership is a very poor second best at a presently sinking ship.

He may not have much personal dignity left (and will have even left after the economy implodes over the next few years as his chickens come home to roost) but he is choosing his destiny rather than having further failure (he wouldn't be Opposition Leader in 6 years time if he stands now) foisted upon him.

Just as Labor did in 96 (and for the following 10 years) there will be much blood letting and power tripping in the Liberals as they rebuild and reinvent themselves. Pete is right in leaving it to a new generation - even if it means he misses out on the dream of leadership.

Vale Democrats

The Democrats didn't make it through this one. Now it is my personal opinion that Meg Lees killed the party when she screwed their supporters over the GST - it has been all downhill from there. Mind you Cheryl's ridiculous move to the ALP and ongoing leadership problems haven't done them any favors either.
So who will keep the bastards honest now (for international readers 'Keeping the Bastards Honest' has been the Democrats slogan)? Looking at the Senate it appears to fall to Nick Xenophon...
I liked the Democrats for one main reason, they were never going to become a major party but until the last few years they did a great job when they had the balance of power - appearing to genuinely work for Australia rather than any specific alliance tot he majors.

Election Ramblings

Yes it is (for some) over for another three years - hang in there Kim (seat of Swan) they are still counting :-)

I am finding the Senate outcome very interesting. If the figures continue as predicted, the Coalition will have 37 seats, Labor will have 32, the Greens will have 5, Family First will have 1 and Nick Xenophone (South Australia) will be an independent. If you look at the general voting trends, the conservatives will have 38 votes (Coalition plus Family First) and the Left will have 37 votes (Greens and Labor). Nick's vote is going to be so very very crucial. Looking at his overall policies, I could see him leaning left more often than not (hung Senate) but he is no flunky. Nick has the reputation of being a solid independent and I am not sure that the Left can assume his vote will just fall their way. I think they are going to have to vote for it issue by issue, or even bill by bill.We may actually have a real 'house of review' forming here rather than the pitiful farce that is the present case.

Nick reminds me of Brian Harradine - I didn't agree with much of his voting but he was a genuine independent who was trying to get the best for his state. Barnaby Joyce (although aligned tot he Nationals) is another person with the ability to stand by his convictions.

On a positive note, from my perspective anyway, Pauline missed out on her latest run
for the Queensland vote. I think Australia would be better for that. It is interesting when you look at the swings in individual seats that the One Nation vote (appreciating that Pauline is no longer aligned with One Nation) almost vanished whilst general swings went to the ALP and, in many cases, the Greens. That leaves two possibilities - One Nation voters went Liberal and Liberal voters swung left OR (my personal preference ha ha ha) One National voters skipped the Liberals and went straight to the ALP or Greens.

King B Rules!

(yes Miss A I pinched the pic from you - just putting the acknowledgement up front ha ha ha)

At work, plodding through the night when King B starts calling regularly with election updates - and not just Labor is in front - he has percentages, and updates on seats and and and ... all the stuff I love.

Thanks you King B for such a kind gesture - this is one election that is going down in the memory banks for all of the right reasons. So very much appreciated :-)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Learn To Say No...

Tonight is my night of nights - a grand final, birthday and Christmas all rolled into once. Yes it is election night - and my girls night out too. And yes, you guessed it I have been called into work.

I know they are desperate (they must be to let me work this shift as my regular one that starts at midnight and finished at 9 tomorrow - that has never ever happened - but haven't "they" seen the hours I have to work tomorrow - from 5 pm tonight I will have to work 29 out of the following 41 hours) and they called me as a very last resort but I don't know who I am more angry/sad at - me for saying yes or life for conspiring the circumstances.....

I can't even watch the election count.... yes I have organized sms updates, and the computer will be on and I can check that every now and then but it just isn't the same .... it just feels like someone has cancelled my one night of the year :-(

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

Maya Angelou

1400 Volunteers, 200 Homes a Week

Sourced from the Mail and Guardian Online. Click on the link for the full article.

Mona Miller's life will change this weekend. For the first time, she will have a real roof, solid walls and glass windows. Lights will come on at the flick of a switch, water will flow from the tap and she will enjoy the dignity of a toilet.

Miller will move into her first proper home thanks to a building blitz by nearly 1 400 Irish volunteers, who completed their mission on Friday to build 200 houses in a week in the depressing and dusty -- and hopelessly misnamed -- Freedom Park slum.

"It's a solid home, not something that people can drive though," says Miller, shuddering at the memory of the drunk driver who rammed into her shack four years ago, injuring her two young children in the sprawling Cape Town suburb.

"I look forward to hearing the rain on the roof because I will no longer have to get up and put buckets underneath the holes. I'm going to close my doors and sleep for a week," she grins, looking proudly at the builders putting finishing touches to her new mustard-coloured house.

In the biggest project yet by foreign volunteers in South Africa, the Irish bricklayers, plasterers, painters and general helpers worked to make a tiny dent in South Africa's chronic housing crisis.

The initiative, now in its fifth year, was organised by Niall Mellon, a millionaire Irish entrepreneur who bought a holiday home near Cape Town but could not accept the squalor in the townships around the jewel in South Africa's tourist crown.

Since the end of apartheid, the government has built more than 2,4-million homes for needy families. But millions still live in shacks, and protests against bad living conditions and lack of services erupt almost weekly.

"The difference here is that the scale of the problem is such that nobody gets the chance to catch their breath and see what's been achieved," says Mellon.

It's Friday ....

Friday night, finished day shifts, just so very tired :-/

On the way home I kept trying to thing of something quick and easy for dinner and this was what I came up with.

Some steamed rice in the middle. The green veg stir fry has cashews as a bonus and is flavored with kecap manis. The steamed wontons are stuffed with mushrooms, tofu and flavorings. The spring rolls (taste good, look messy) are stuffed with rice noodles, cabbage, carrot, spring onions and mushroom (they were very well drained).

This plate is actually enough for two meals - I might have been tired but I wasn't that hungry :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

One More Sleep :-)

Okay so I have been counting down the sleeps for ages but thought it might be a tad boring to the rest of the world if I posted the countdown but one more sleep is one more sleep :-)

So when tomorrow comes don't forget to vote :-) And if you want to follow Al Capone's advice "vote early and vote often" ha ha ha ha

If you are still undecided, then Getup has a little quiz that will create a personal how to vote card based on what is most important to you.

Have fun and yes tonight will be my last sleep until we have a result :-)

Natural Beauty

Welcome to Coffs

Our local big thing :-)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Di di di di di di di

Just having a flashback to the mid to late 70's when Alby Mangels trundled his World Safari movies from small town town-hall to small town town-hall and the insistently annoying soundtrack of 'di di di di di di di' - if you remember it, you REMEMBER it, if not you just think I am writing jibberish :-)

In retrospect I am not sure whether Alby didn't have a distributor, or whether the "home made" distribution added to the appeal. I do know that it seemed to go on FOREVER - an entire summer if not considerably more of very heavy advertising - and THAT song. And it went on year after year after year after year.... sigh

Does anyone else remember this? Does anyone else remember when Judy Green (eeek I can remember her name) one of the models from Sale of the Century (the blonde one on the left) went on .... World Safari 4 (I think)?

Please don't let me be in Mangels-world by myself forever!!!! SOMEONE else must remember .... surely....

Pie in the Sky

I hit the kitchen last night - and made a super beef pie. It was my last non-vegetarian night so why not :-)

The steak was diced and then browned with a little garlic. This was then transferred to a casserole dish. I chopped up an equal amount of mushrooms and added to the dish. In went two diced tomatoes. Then I cooked up a heap of onion - about an equal amount to the beef - in balsamic vinegar. Then add it to the pot. Add a herb or two, a little pepper and a little gravy mix and about 1 1/2 C water. With the lid on I cooked it all for a couple of hours on low. Once it was beautiful and tender I crumpled up some filo, sprayed it with oil and baked until golden.

This was served with mashed potato (that went through my new ricer) and a corn cob.... he he he there was actually two pieces of corn but I ate one before I took the photo :-)

Prezzies for Me

Just a quick post to show you the loot I bought myself while on holiday - two cook books (both heavily discounted), a potato ricer and a mandolin :-) Yes there was cooking magazines as well but they were regular purchases and not treats!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Beach

Ok so I haven't cooked for a week (and I think that was good) but there was no way I was missing out on the beach :-) And yes there is more to come - but I will post them periodically. I know I have been on holidays but my blog is looking 'different' at the moment ....

Bora Rings

I was driving home from Lismore yesterday and went past a brown sign (indicating a tourist site) for a Bora Ring.

Admittedly I was listening to an interview with Alex Miller at the time but I am sure that a white person shouldn't just go tramping onto a Bora Ring just because they are driving by. Shouldn't I be accompanied by an elder?

Now I did keep driving but can someone please clarify the protocol here?


I was introduced to Alfies by Dad and Nedezda when they took me there for fish and chips when I went to the Sunshine Coast earlier in the year. Despite Miss Weasley and I promising ourselves a fish and chip lunch it just didn't happen (the food choices in this part of the world are incredible).

But never fear, we didn't miss out, on Saturday night we headed there for a 'fine dining experience' (looking at the photo, the fish and chip shop is bottom left, the cafe is bottom right and the restaurant is upstairs). It was also a good opportunity to 'posh up' - Dad please note I am wearing the funky headband you sent me (for those who can't quite see them, it has sparkly bits).

This place is magnificent! The first thing I noticed as I opened my menu was that the place is owned by rugby legend Alfie Langer (you learn something new every day). The menu is mainly seafood and is worth raving about.

I had a scallop, truffle honey, and Roquefort pizza for a starter (and you have never had anything so divine) and Miss Weasley and I shared a 'tasting plate' which defied description.

My first choice for the main was king prawns served with a vanilla bean and truffle oil sauce but I opted for a 'special of the day' prawn and bug combination served with fruit (my first bug meal and I had already tried something truffle-y with the pizza). Miss Wesley's meal was just as impressive. We skipped wine but I did notice that the wine list was perfect - and included Western Australian wines (always a winner for me).

And we got all of that for about $50 each. Does life get any better?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Sport Report

I love a challenge and this is my new one - to blog a sport report each week. Now my 'rules' are that I need to report on at least three sports and I can't repeat each sport each week ...

So being the sports-mad babe that I am, here goes ....

NETBALL: Liz Ellis has, after 18 years of playing national level netball, retired as captain of the Australian netball team ( can't find the name of the team). Australian won the world championship by defeating the New Zealand Silverferns 42 - 38.

CRICKET: Darren Lehmann has retired from first class cricket.

On a more positive note, at the time of writing, Sri Lanka is 246 and 3/233 needing another 274 runs for a win :-) And I must ask, why doesn't Australia just play the Ashes and cancel all other Test games? It isn't just that they are boring (and I LOVE Test games more than is acceptable) - I mean is this REALLY cricket? As the world of cricket becomes more commercial and moves towards the one day and 20/20 matches, surely "real" cricket could be left to tradition and not just space filler :-)

TENNIS: Roger Federer has won the Masters Cup he beat David Ferrer 6-2 6-3 6-2