Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Cake

I had a graduation for one of the lovelies today - and the request was for the easiest cake ever - a chocolate cake with rainbow ice cream layers.

I made the ice cream in three flavors - mango, raspberry and blueberry (with real fruit of course) and the cake was a regular (but fabulous) chocolate cake.

I just swirled frosting (vanilla and chocolate) on top and left the sides exposed to highlight the ice cream colors. So it doesn't really look like much, but I am hoping the triumph was in the flavor more than the appearance.

I left before it was cut but here's hoping it was what my lovely wanted.

Dreamers Dream

We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let our dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days till they bring them to sunshine and light.

Woodrow T Wilson

Art: "Dreamer" by Melia Dawn Newman

Final Week

5 days to go ...

Happy Birthday Anony

Yes the photographer extraordinaire has clocked up another year. Check out her photos here and here. Anony is a shy little butterfly who likes to protect her identity (hence the "Anonymous" moniker) so I again provide a masked photo for all of her friends and fans to delight in :-)

Photo: "A Masquerade" by redLilith

Photo Challenge - Irreplaceable

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two More Sleeps

Saturday is fast approaching - too fast really.

Yes I start writing for my NaNoWritMo challenge in just two sleeps. Am I ready? No idea. Am I going to shirk the challenge? No way.

I start typing furiously on Saturday and by the end of the month I will having something of a novel sitting there.

So I am counting down with a strange mixture of nervousness and excitement.

The Sisterhood

Those who weep recover more quickly than those who smile.

Jean Giraudoux

When John passed I saw a grief counsellor when I got concerned about how much crying I was doing. He determined I was perfectly normal and assured me that it would pass, or at least diminish, as time went on.

I did a day shift last Friday and driving home I realized I was driving home to John. Was it because it was a Friday, or was it because it is spring and coming into summer ... no idea and it doesn't really matter. I got home and had a lovely little weep and then, feeling better, got on with things. And the counsellor was right - I think of John every day but don't cry anymore, and when I do it is weeping, not the "my heart is going to physically break" wrenching tears that crushed me initially.

Yesterday the lovely Val caught me on the one occasion I was out of bed (yes the back was giving me gyp again) to show me a new book she had just received. The lovely Kinsley had designed the cover before he passed in January. It was absolutely stunning. And there were the weepy tears in her eyes - she was having one of those moments too.

How special to be able to share my journey through grief to let her know that it really will pass, to hear her speak of sweet things about Kinsley, to stand there as two women hugging and speaking without words.

Photo: "Tears" by Marissa

Friendship Is ...

A companion loves some agreeable qualities which a man may possess, but a friend loves the man himself.

James Boswell

Photo: "True Friendship" by kimcats

I Got Another Present

Yes Miss Weasley has been sending me care packages again. This time (one of my favorites) LIQUID SMOKE!!!! Yippee, dance, dance dance

We can only get one flavor (hickory) and brand in Australia so not only is this a new brand, there is both mesquite and hickory.

You just gotta know what I had for dinner last night :-)

So very, very blessed :-)

The Final Week

6 days to go ...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election Count-down

7 days (and counting)

Purpose and Passion

There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality.

Jonas Salk

Photo: "Walk in the Clouds" by Simon Gleeson

Photo Challenge Updates

Sigh, if all goes well, this time next week I will know who the next US President will be. I guess it will be a positive result either way because it will definitely be "bye-bye Bush".

In any case, this is about photo themes so I better get to the point....

This week (31 October): Irreplaceable
Friday 7 November: Sunday
Friday 14 November: Water

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Steak with Stroganoff Sauce

I had this for dinner about 10 days ago - absolutely delicious. Again I divided the sauce recipe by 4 (because there is only one of me) and I reduced the cream content to about 1 teaspoon. If you use the cream as described, the sauce will be much lighter in color than mine. My steak was also smaller than the recipe suggested. I served my steak with an undressed big salad rather than the pickled red cabbage combination in the recipe for no other reason than that is what I had in the fridge.

4 x 200 g scotch fillet steaks
1 Tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
Sea salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
20 g unsalted butter
Pickled red cabbage, watercress or other salad leaves and mustard, to serve

Stroganoff Sauce
25 g unsalted butter
400 g small Swiss brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 garlic, crushed
1/2 Cup brandy
300 ml beef stock
1 teaspoon Vegemite
200 ml thickened cream
1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season the steak with the salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frypan over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add the steaks to the pan. Cook each steak for 2 minutes each side for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate. Loosely cover with foil and rest while making the sauce.

For the Stroganoff sauce, return the steak pan to medium heat and add the butter. When melted, add the thinly sliced mushrooms and the garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring, or until mushrooms have softened. Add the brandy and cook for a further 1 minute or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the beef stocl, Vegemite and thickened cream, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced. Remove from heat and stir int he parsley.

Divide the steaks among 4 plates, ladle over the Stroganoff suce and serve with pickled cabbage, salad leaves and mustard.

From: Delicious August 2008, pg 92

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vase of Flowers

Nostaligic Saturday - School Days

My first school readers that I remember were the Dick and Dora series. And we can't forget the all important of Nip (the dog) and Fluff (the cat). They ran a lot. They jumped a lot. They saw a lot. They opened up the world of word to me.

I know the modern readers are a lot more entertaining and educational. They even have real color photos but I still yearn for the simplicity of life that included Dick and Dora and their little adventures.

From Dick and Dora, it wasn't long before I started on the SRA lab. Oh, I loved those cards and I whizzed through them as quickly as I could. I sucked up all of the facts they taught me. I relished the fictional stories. I am sure I was the first to finish the box (although my memory may be putting a golden glow on that specific aspect of my life).

Every now and then something wil happen in my world and I will remember I got my initial knowledge of the subject from SRA. I wonder if all of my old favorites are available in today's boxes?

I love my books and still voraciously read as many as I can but I have never forgotten the joy of learning to read, of realizing there was a whole world of entertainment and information that was opening up to me - and to grab it all I had to do was to open the book and turn the squiggles into words.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Salad

I made a new salad last night to go with my little piece of steak. I was playing with ideas in my head and, somewhat surprisingly, it worked really well.

The salad was watercress, pear, freshly ground black pepper and a little grated Parmesan. It was fresh, light and lively.

I was originally thinking blue cheese and while I still think that would be fabulous, I didn't have any so went for the Parmesan which also worked out well.

Photo Challenge - Bad

Or should that just be "naughty"?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Need A Man

For the best part of my life I am a happy, independent woman.

Okay so I need help lifting heavy things (but that is because of my back)and it is nice to have a tall person around (but that is because I am short) to put my smoke alarms up ... hint, hint Loni ... but I do pretty well by myself on the whole.

But today I need a man. There is a mouse in the house. No I am not doing the standing on a chair screaming thing but I am sure it is written somewhere that setting mouse traps and disposing of the body is men's work.

I am not really into the demarcation of household chores (I live by myself remember) but I am sure that having babies is womens work, cooking the barbecue is mens work. Mending shirts is womens work, changing the tyres is mens work. Wrapping the Christmas presents is womens work, organizing the capture of vermin is mens work.

This is not to say that each is not capable of the other's tasks - they are handy skills for us all to have, but surely "we" are more capable of some things more than others. Or maybe I just don't want to pick up a dead mouse ....

I Gotta Present

Miss Weasley has been thinking of me again and sent me a deck of recipe cards. Sigh .... I am in heaven :-)

Do You Remember Hobbytex?

I was trawling through my junk mail yesterday when I came across an advertisement for Hobbytex! I haven't heard or seen anything of that since .... well the mid 80's!.

I used to go to Hobbytex classes on a Monday evening when I was 8 - 10 (ish). Part of me absolutely loved it, and part of me was intimidated by the need to produce art "exactly like the pictures".

Now I have checked Wiki, thinking I would add a link for the uninitiated but it doesn't appear there! Yes I have found something NOT on Wikipedia. But I have found the Hobbytex company page.

And I have learned that Hobbytex is an Australian company and they have been going since 1968? And rather than being something incredibly exotic (which I thought it was when I was little), it is "just" fabric paint in a ball-point tube! And they now have an extended range of products (we only did wallhangings) but the have tablecloths, scatter cushions, runners ... well you get the idea.

A forgotten piece of my childhood continues on. Just perfect :-)

White Flowers in the Garden


You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your 'friends'.

Art: "From Love to Friendship" by Samantha

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Imagination Is ...

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein

Art: "Mermaid Picnic" by Karin Turner

Election Count-down

13 days to go ...

Wednesday Lunchtime

We went from cooking a Malaysian banquet today to a Hunt and Kill menu in a matter of minutes. For the uninitiated, "Hunt and Kill" is to check out what you have floating around the kitchen (fridge, freezer, pantry, herb garden) and create something from that.

So our delicious menu was:

Beef and Mushroom Pie
Chicken and Vegetable Pie
Macaroni Cheese
Big Garden Salad

I was doing something else constructive when we served lunch so I forgot to take photos (doh) and I forgot to send the recipes home (doh) so YesWeCanCook will be updated on Saturday night when I am at work and have time to do such things :-) Or maybe Friday evening depending on how busy Friday gets ....

Anyway, despite my doh's, I had a ball, my lovelies learned something new and ... well have I mentioned that Wednesday lunches are my favorite days of the week?

Photo Challenge Updates

Does anyone realize there is only 10 weeks left in 2008? Time flies when you are having fun I guess :-) I guess that means we only have 10 more themes for the year until we hit the bright and shiny 2009.

And speaking of themes....

This week (23 October): Bad
Friday 31 October: Irreplaceable
Friday 7 November: Sunday

Happy clicking folks :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


For me, a hearty "belly laugh" is one of the beautiful sounds in the world.

Bennett Cerf

Photo: "Boy Laughter" by mayoran

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Magic Moments

No contest this week (although I do have a few to choose from) cooking with the lovelies on Wednesday - great food, funky music, a bit of dancing, lots of laughter. Life was perfect for those moments :-)

And, I hasten to add, I have a pretty good week overall so please don't read this as it was all downhill after Wednesday :-) I have sung, I have danced, I have cooked great, healthy food (at home as well as work), I have caught up with friends, I have had sleep. That's all I want most of the time :-)

Happy People

The happiest people don't have the best of everything ....
They just make the best of everything they have ...

Quote from Miss Weasley
Art: "Circle of Friends" by Janice Burns

What Must It Feel Like

To carry the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people on your shoulders?

an extract from an email sent by Miss Weasley

Or, my words now, "What must it feel like to carry the hopes of the nation, of the world, on your shoulders?"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Have Gotta Laugh ... Don't You?

World record sandwich? Iranians eat evidence

Iran has failed to register what it said would be the world's largest sandwich in the Guinness Book of World Records after people rushed forward and began eating it - before it was measured.

Event organisers had planned to stuff the 1,500-metre-long sandwich with 700kg of ostrich meat and 700kg of chicken, and display it in a park in the capital Tehran.

But as the sandwich was being measured, chaos ensued. The giant snack was gone in minutes, a witness said, leaving the three Guinness representatives present with a dilemma.

One of the event's organisers said video footage of the sandwich would be sent to Guinness officials.

"We still think the sandwich will be recorded in the Guinness book because of all the evidence and footage that we will send them," Parvin Shariati said.

- Reuters

Story From ABC

I Believe I Can Fly

Fences are made for those who cannot fly.

Elbert Hubbard

Photo: "Mary Poppins" by Tyzra

Hypocrisy Plus?

Each year someone from the media industry presents the Andrew Olle Lecture. Andrew was a brilliant journalist that was taken from us far too soon as the result of a brain tumor in 1995. Previous lecturers have included: John Hartigan, Senator Helen Coonan, John Doyle, Harold Mitchell, Kerry Stokes AO, Eric Beecher, and David Williamson.

This year they chose Ray Martin. He chose to speak on the abandonment of serious journalism by the commercial networks. I have thought about this for the past 6 hours. I initially thought it was some sort of ridiculous joke that the world had conspired to play on me. But it isn't.

I do understand that Ray was a real journalist for the 10 years that he worked for the the ABC. I could even begrudgingly concede that some journalistic skill is required for 60 Minutes, when he worked for about 7 years.

Then any integrity he had as a journalist began to be eliminated as he took over the Midday Show in 1985 with his fluffy interviews of celebrities, authors and the other forms of light entertainment that was the bread and butter of the show. Yes there was the odd politician that came on but the Midday audience was housewives* - hardly the place for anything too deep or controversial.

From there he descended into the gutter journalism of A Current Affair, a salacious "current affairs" program that does in depth stories like parking ticket scams, the effect of ill-fitting bras (lots of breast shots in those stories) and the latest diet fad. He held this spot (a little on-and-off) from 1994 to 2005.

So notorious was this show for aiming for the lowest common denominator of the viewing public (ie the more scandal the higher the ratings) that the scornful phrase "but Ray Martin said so" was born, and still continues to flourish today. It is used in times when a real topic is given the lightest treatment, with an incredibly biased viewpoint that may or may not reflect the truth. Unfortunately many parts of the Australian population consider A Current Affair to be hard hitting news and as such it has to be the God-honest truth. For these people, real current affairs shows on the ABC and SBS are too boring because they use big words and keep going on and on about things. These people also love Alan Jones and John Laws and thought Pauline Hanson was "speaking for the people".

So how Ray then turn around and criticize commercial networks for dropping some of their real news and current affairs programs? Where is this man's integrity - personal and professional?

* No disrespect meant for the term but this was Australia in the 80's.

Contempory Arabic Art

A new exhibition "Edge of Arabia" is about to open featuring contemporary artists form Saudi Arabia. The work is incredible - and utilizes a wide range of media from sculpture to photography.
The website is the best I have seen for an art exhibition.

Big thanks to the BBC World Service for the heads up on this one. Their report highlighted not only the artists, but also some of the issues facing contemporary artists in Saudi Arabia. Artistic endeavours are usually associated with women in the Arabic world - so for the men to step out, not only as artists but as contemporary artists has created a number of social difficulties for them. Add to that Islamic sensitivities to the depiction of the human body in artwork and you start to get a sense of how ground-breaking this all is.

Art: "Talisman X-ray" by Ahmed-Mater Al-Ziad Aseeri

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lemon Chicken with Warm Risoni Salad

In have been playing with new recipes. Actually if I cook just the ones I have ear-marked each day, then I have nearly a years worth ready to go - and that is only from my current magazines! Sigh ....

Anyway, this one is from the October 2008 Super Food Ideas magazine. It is marked as being "Lower GI", " Low Kilojoules", "Low Saturated Fat" and 2 1/2 serves of vegetables. The recipe is for four - I divided it down for me :-)

2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lemon, ring finely grated, juiced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breast fillets, trimmed
1 C dried risoni
350 g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 C finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Place garlic, lemon juice and half the oil in a shallow ceramic dish. Add chicken. Turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, if time permits.

Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions until tender. Drain.

Meantime, heat remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5 - 6 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Cover. Stand for 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms to pan. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pasta, 2 teaspoons lemon rind and parsley. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until heated through. Serve chicken with warm risoni salad.

Life is....

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

John W Gardner

Art: "Beach Colours" by Lisa Lorenz

New Toy

After the tragic death of my food processor I have been trying to figure out what to replace it with. Unable to make a decision, time has just ticked on.

That was until Wednesday when I decided I needed one to make the "Turkey to Morocco" feast. I hadn't budgeted for a professional quality item so a cheapie it was going to be. Being realistic, my old processor was quite adequate. It only ceased being useful because the bowl broke (as opposed to the motor blowing up or something equally as dramatic) and a $50 - $55 price tag was attractive. I even considered grabbing a $10 stick blender at a later date.

BUT, imagine my delight when I found the Sunbeam StickMaster Plus for the same price as a food processor. Instant decision and I have been very happily playing with my new toy ever since. Yes I can whip, blend, crush, mix ... everything a girl could want an in a much more compact version (read "less washing up") than a food processor.

Oh happy days :-)

Photo Challenge - Music

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chicken Cesaer Salad

Treated myself to a plate of salad for lunch - homemade of course :-)

Plumbers of the World Unite

Never under-estimate the power of a plumber.

Yes it was the plumber's from Poland that was going to be the under-mining of the British economy, employment and immigration system.

Now it is Joe the Plumber from mid-west America that is going to be McCain's saving grace. McCain is out there for Joe - in his tax policies, in his employment policies, in his health policies. At the moment McCain's world is revolving around Joe the Plumber.

And obviously a vote for Obama will mean the end of Joe the Plumber's hopes and dreams (the "American dream" no less).

Now I assume McCain knows that there are a few million Joe's out there that want to own the plumbing business that they have worked with for all of their lives. I hope all the Joe's are receiving royalties for the use of their image. If they got $1 from McCain every time he mentioned them, they could forget about buying the business and just retire comfortably now.

So a vote for McCain is a vote for Joe. A vote for McCain is a vote for a genuine war-hero that looked like a big sookie-baby because his feelings were hurt. A vote for McCain is for the man who made a blooper on the debate and was heard to exclaim a loud "Huh?!?" when he got caught out.

Gotta love politics :-)

A Random Day at Gallows


The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.

Abraham Lincoln

Art: "Magik" by kedralynn