Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Wrap-Up

In the weeks up to Christmas I had my usual fun of cooking up a sweet storm. I like giving my family a plate of homemade treats.  On the menu this year was Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti, Vanilla Shortbread, Ginger and Orange Biscuits, Vanilla Fudge, Toasted Muesli, Strawberry Jam, Caramelised Onion Chutney and Pickled Beetroot.  The chutney, muesli and  beetroot were extras for my kids.  :-)
I love that I have the time nowadays to enjoy the packaging and wrapping process.  A stash of pressies and plates of goodies ready to pack into the car for the trip to Perth.
We had a wonderful Xmas lunch at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  The food was delicious, the company was great and the weather was good.  Thanks Pete, Cathy, Steph, Matt and Dylan for having us, it was a nice afternoon :-)
On Boxing Day morning, on our way back to Torbay, we stopped in at Paul's house along with Michelle for a second mini Christmas, this time with the company of two special little granddaughters!  Here are Michelle and Paul.
And here are Riley and Stevie in mid unwrap.  There were lots of lovely girlie goodies to be had.
Here is big, grown up, six year old Stevie who is starting Year One soon! 
And here is big, grown up, four year old Riley who is starting Pre-Primary soon!
And here we are, happy after a splendid couple of days after staying with mum and dad (thank you for your hospitality! xx)  and seeing all the family.  It was a really good Christmas. :-)
We arrived home on Boxing Day later afternoon to find Patience at the front door.  "Where the hell have you been?"  she demands, "There was no breakfast this morning!" We obliged with a handful of Kanga Mix.
Lucy was up near the door too, waiting for her delayed breakfast.  She occupied her time by giving her 'newly out of the pouch' joey Ghost a nice big wash.  We've called him Ghost as his head was almost white when he was a tiny pouch joey, and even now he is very pale compared to the others.  So Ghost seemed like a good name.
The stoic and very very well behaved Neo was glad to be home.  He is such a good boy in his carrier in the car.  Not a peep out of him for the five hour trips.  He enjoyed sprawling himself on his tower when we got home.
And the he decided he was irritated with his journeying and took to booping me with his paw as I walked past.  See that slightly crazed look.....  back to normal!
We were blessed with some lovely gifts.  We are very excited about the voucher for a scenic flight over Albany (including an extra 15 minutes so the pilot can fly us over our own property - how cool is that!) - thanks mum and dad!  Michelle spoiled me with a mug with my favourite poem (Desiderata) on it, pretty little blue and white plates and fridge magnets, my favourite Raffaelo chockies, nifty silicone bowl covers that look like lily pads, and the best exfoliating glove in existence (yes lovey I take your point, I felt like I had been flayed when I used it for the first time ha ha). Thank you darling girl xx  And thank you Michael for a voucher to our favourite shop - Dan Murphys! :-)

 I spent this morning playing with my present from Paul, he gave me a vacuum sealer, which is a brilliant present considering that I spend a lot of time freezing our veggies when we have plenty.  Look Paul, I did some runner beans today!  I'm experimenting with different versions, some unblanched, some blanched, some cut up, some not.  It will be interesting to test them out and see if there is any difference in texture and taste.  Thank you Paul, this will get used and used and used! xx
Yesterday Steve was ordered to stay at home, (he can be tiresome to take shopping like most men)  and I spent a pleasant four hours (I know! Marathon!) toodling around Albany shops spending some Christmas money from Steve.  Couple of t-shirts, a new bag, a tiny bottle of Anais Anais perfume and this gorgeous metal bread bin.  I happened upon it at an Emporium unexpectedly, and it called out my name and said 'buy me!'.  And I did.  And it only cost $11 - bargain!  Then I hit the Spotlight sale and replaced our ancient,'to go straight to the tip' bedding.  Looking forward to sleeping on a 'topper', with my head on a new feather and down pillow,  and under a pure wool quilt tonight!
So, after two days of family and fun, spoiled rotten with gifts, we look ahead enthusiastically towards 2015.  Happy New Year everyone!  xx

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Birthday Girl

I just had a quick visit to Perth, to visit a special little girl who is a big, grown up six! But first I had to make some pretty cupcakes to take with me.
Here she is , Stevie the birthday girl, opening presents.  Happy Birthday gorgeous girl xx
 And here is another gorgeous girl, Riley, posing with her owl necklace. xx
 And here is daddy Paul.  Thanks for hosting the little party Paul, it was great! xx
 And here is Michelle and Michael. Great to see you both!  xx
 And mum and dad.  Glad you could join us!  xx
 Me and mum.  I am rather perplexed at my very high hair, a trim is in order....
The next day involved a catch up with friends.  Cori and I tried a selfie whilst having breakfast at a very nice place called Food For Me in East Vic Park.  It was great to see you Cori and thanks for the home grown olive oil, can't wait to try it! xx
I caught up with the sewing girls, Angie, Anne, Wilma and Leanne for our annual Christmas lunch and exchange of yummy homemade goodies.  Thanks girls, it was wonderful to see you all! xx
I have to stop now, I've had to be brief.  Steve got his Christmas present yesterday, a new XBox, and although Paul very kindly installed all the games for us, the machine very quietly overnight did a big update and used 95% of our month's internet in one night! So I'm doing this blog post really quick before  BigPond realises that we've probably already gone over our limit and puts us onto dial-up speed ha ha  And it's only 29 day to go until the new month.....  ah well :-) 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Pageant

Since we have got braver re crowds since surviving the Anzac commemoration intact, we ventured into town on Saturday evening for the Albany Christmas Pageant.  :-) 
We parked down at the harbour and walked into town over the pedestrian railway bridge, I love the town view from this bridge, it looks over Stirling Terrace which is filled with period buildings.
This is the view looking down the main street, York Street, whilst we awaited the floats.  It is such a pretty town.
I think every large flat-top truck in Albany was commandeered to hold a float.  There were pre-school floats with little people dressed as animals, shepherds and other colourful creatures.
There were primary school floats with little people dressed as creatures of the deep.  Not sure about the big person, Mrs Pirate Pete perhaps?
 There were church group floats with lots of pretty little angels flying by.
 There were dance groups walking between the floats regaled in colourful costumes.
 There was a Rock 'N Roll dance group float of people twisting and jiving in their big, twirly skirts.
There was an interesting float of sisters in red, the background of which I did not discover.  They were a colourful highlight!
 A colourful dragon wound its way up the hill courtesy of the Tai Kwon Do group.
 A beautiful, balloon festooned float went by, I think it was the Philippino Community Group.
 My favourite float, Trail Blazers, went by with a huge toothy shark atop.
 And they were pulling a trailer of pirates and mermaids on their pirate ship!
And the final float was of course the big fellow himself, Santa!  And running alongside were Santa's elves, throwing lollies into the crowds.  The sudden descent of little kids to ground level to find the lollies was rather amusing!
After the floats had finished, the crowd made its way up the hill to the new town square, where there was entertainment and food. 
 The duo Zap Circus dazzled us all with their daring fire twirling show.
A pair of young lady trapeze artists did amazing things with their very lithe and flexible bodies.  The girl at the top is standing on the feet of the hidden one below, the only thing keeping her on the trapeze!
 Steve soaking in the atmosphere at the town square.
As it got darker, the Town Hall was lit up, doesn't it look lovely.  Moi is standing in the bottom left corner.
Then the major, Dennis Wellington, did a brief speech, announced the float prize winners (Trail Blazer third, Philippino Community second and one of the playgroups was the winner), and then it was the turning on of the christmas lights on the huge tree outside the library.
 We slowly made our way back down the hill to the car.  I turned and looked back up the hill with a smile at the pretty street and the happy crowd.  It was a great evening.  :-)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Don't Poke Your Tongue Out At Me!

This November has been so different from last year.  There was no November rain last year and it was as dry as dry, whereas this year we have had steady, regular amount of rain all month, about 65mm in total.  Which is great, I've had to do very little hand watering, the water tanks are almost full and it still looks nice and green.  The only bad side is that garlic and onions don't like being wet just before harvesting, they tend to reshoot and go soggy and begin to rot.  Hence I had to do a quick harvest day inbetween showers.  Everything is hauled out of the ground and left on the surface to dry out, except that it kept raining!  So after a day I put it all into the wheelbarrow and brought it all under cover to try and dry out.
I am pleased with the garlic, I only planted about 60 this year but they grew fairly well with quite a few good sized globes.  Last year we grew more but they were very small.  It doesn't matter though, the point is to provide us with our garlic eating needs for as close to a year as possible.  Last week I threw away last year's garlic braid with only the last few fossilised globes still hanging off it.
This is the haul of garlic, shallots and red onions.  I also grew some really nice white onions but I've used all those for caramelised onion chutney, yum!  Oddly the only onions I planted that failed completely, right at the start, were the brown onions.  Not a one grew, go figure, you'd think they would be the tough boys of the onion family.
Don't the braids look pretty!  I've got them hanging up on the coat rack outside the front door to try and dry them out more.  I'm a bit worried about the shallots, they were quite damp and some were rather squelchy.  I've tossed any soft ones away and hopefully these ones will dry out and not rot.
The other exciting harvest was globe artichokes!  Just the three but still very pleasing.  I can officially announce that they were delicious, boiled and served with a little bowl of melted butter/salt/lemon juice to dip the leaf ends in, then the delicious finale of spooning out the luscious artichoke heart, mmmmm!
 We have had to take quick action to save any tiny fruits on our tiny fruit trees.  I mentioned last blog about those &%$#@ 28s, the green parrots.  Far out, why can't they just politely take one fruit and eat it.  No, the little hoodlums pull them all off just for the fun of it, and break off tiny branches just for the hell of it too.  I saw red when I saw a parrot quite deliberately biting the flowers off my Feijoa, just for fun grrrrr! So it was off to the shop to buy mega amounts of bird netting.
This year the trees are tiny and most of them will have no fruit, but we have a few precious apples that we'd like to save, so now they are under Fort Knox!  Up yer bums parrots! :-)
The back garden is coming along nicely.  Steve thought he would get a break when he finished building the terraced garden bed walls.  Hmmm, no darling, you were wrong.  We have had a temporary fence around the back garden for quite a while now, just chook wire and star pickets.  The roos have respected this.  Until now.  Can you see that kangaroo bum in the centre of the photo?  That is Patience, the old female who waits patiently out the front every morning for her couple of handfuls of breakfast.  Except now she has decided that she would like to live in the back garden and eat all my plants.  About half a dozen times a day and night I'd look out to see her in there.  It was a careful job to remove her too, not wanting to panic her.  If you'd been here in the dead of many a night you'd have seen me out the back in my nightie, with a torch, herding her quietly towards the open gate.  Far out. 
 So Steve has had to pick up his downed tools, and start on the permanent fence around the back garden.  He is going great guns too, one side and almost the back done.  He builds beautiful fences, he uses pine poles as uprights and also as fence toppers with a sturdy wire mesh to keep things out.  It's pretty high and rather formidable looking to a kangaroo I should think, Patience hasn't been seen in there for over a week now so crossing fingers!
 It's all starting to grow out the back and looking rather nice.  It is sunny in the mornings then shady in the afternoon which makes it a lovely place to sit after a hard morning's work.  I don't usually park my car there, nor are those two gates remaining there, but that is the side of the temporary fence, so the car and gates are the barriers to persuade Patience to stay out until Steve finishes the proper fence.
These are the steps from the back door up to the clothes line and back part of the garden.  I really like how they look, and the growing plants are softening the lines of the timbers.  He's a clever boy that husband of mine :-)
This is the side of the house from the front looking to the back.  I love how my yellow pokers are flowering right behind our Easter Island head, makes him look like he has a headdress.  :-)
We had a visitor up near the back door, he scared the crap out of me actually.  A beautiful blue-tongued lizard was hiding behind one of my pot plants.  PS - got the name wrong, it is a Bobtail, or Shingleback, the scary blue tongue mesmerised me :-)
 He wasn't particularly conversational.  And was not very appreciative when Steve gently got him onto a spade and released him back into the bush.  Their gnarled, multicoloured skin is somewhat reminiscent to a dinosaur in my eyes.
Speaking of eyes, we both went and had long overdue eye checks.  Steve just needed the next strength up of his readers, but my eyes have gone to crap.  So, I've had to take the step up to multifocals.  It takes a while to get used to them I've discovered, but I think they way the glass just knows when it's sunny and turns dark is way cool!
 I finally finished the quilt for my father-in-law for Christmas.  I hope it brightens up his nursing home bed.
 Do you remember the excellent wooden book statue Steve made me a year or so ago?  This is a current photo of it.  It sits out in all weather and we were interested to see how it went.  I love it, it is cracking, has spider webs and algae on it and is ageing beautifully.  It has become incredibly interesting and I love seeing it every morning when I visit the chook yard.