Friday, October 31, 2014

31:10:14 Recycling

Our Primary School had it's Spring Fair this month. It had a great selection of stalls particularly of things made by teachers and parents within our school community. This is something Rhiannon just couldn't resist. It is two encyclopaedias that have been bound together with an old belt and then a small succulent has been "planted" in it! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

30:10:14 Cake pops

My friend Cathy bought me a book on making " Cake Pops" a few years back but it too until this week for me to dust it off and have a go. It is a time-consuming few hours in the kitchen but the result is fun. 

These were for Gareths cake stall fundraiser in school and he said they didn't last long!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

29:10:14 In The Pink!

Byron's work had a morning tea fundraiser and they were asked to wear pink. Byron went through everyones wardrobe and gathered as much pink as he could to look the part. The nail varnish was provided by the girls and finished off the outfit a treat!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

28:10:14 Weekly Walk

I do a weekly walk with a friend while the kids do sports after dinner. We walk through some beautiful back roads and hidden oasis of calm in our local town. This week she insisted I be in the photo, I couldn't persuade her to join me for a "selfie" Maybe next week!

Monday, October 27, 2014

27:10:14 Belated Birthday Breakfast.

I had a great catch up with Anne today. Her birthday present to me was for us to have breakfast together at a local cafe. It took many, many attempts to set a date that we were both free but today the planets aligned and we had a wonderful few hours together. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

26:10:14 Trillionaire

As a bonus for consistent good effort one of the high school teachers is know to hand out some financial rewards every now and again. Sian was the lucky student this week. She was given fifty trillion dollars...
I know who I will be looking for a loan from next time the moths are flying out of my wallet!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

25:10:14 Lakeside drink

Stopping for a quick drink on our evening walk!

Friday, October 24, 2014

24:10:14 Thick as thieves

Gareth loves his time with Murphy when he gets in from primary school. Murphy is always delighted to see a new playmate after the quiet of the day. There is still an hour before the girls get home from high school. An hour of undivided attention! 

Make the most of it boys as we are counting down the weeks in this final term of 2014. Next year will bring big change. So for now we are treasuring each and every day...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

23:10:14 Strawberry harvest

Don't get excited. 
It's only one strawberry! 
Not enough to make a pot of jam. 
Not enough to make dessert for a family of five. 
Just enough for me to eat quietly here on my own while everyone is in school or work! 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

22:10:14 The Far side of the lens!

I'm more comfortable taking the photos in our family than being the subject of them. My husband Byron surprised me when he emailed this shot to me. He had taken it on his phone as I walked ahead of him on an evening walk with Murphy. He said I don't feature enough in the photos on this blog so I'm sharing this one with you! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

21:10:14 Whole Orange Cake

A friend celebrated a special birthday this weekend. There is a monthly girls night out tonight and we plan on celebrating her birthday at it. We know she says she doesn't want any fuss but secretly we think she does and so we are going to make a fuss whether she wants it or not! 

I've made a whole orange cake which involves throwing an orange in the food processor along with sugar, eggs, melted butter and flour. Easy and yum!

I can't wait to see her face tonight. Lets just hope she actually turns up or we will be sending her photos of us all having a wonderful time celebrating her by proxy!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

20:10:14 Happy Birthday Natalie.

Today's photo is the finished result of Rhiannon's gift to her friend Natalie who is celebrating her 15th Birthday today. 

She stretched watercolour paper and when it dried she painted Natalie's name in script with a paintbrush and liquid latex masking fluid. Next she wet the paper and then gently splashed different shades of blue watercolour paint that she had watered down. The droplets merged together and covered the paper and the latex. When the entire page was completely dry the latex was carefully peeled away painstakingly slowly. This revealed the original white paper. Once framed this looked so beautiful and so unique. 

I am constantly blown away by my amazing 14 year old and the ideas that she dreams in her head and then manages to create in reality. She really is so talented and artistic. 

And so today we wish Natalie a wonderful 15th Birthday. We hope you have a great day (even though you will be in school for a big chunk of it!) We hope you like your gift that is as unique and special as you!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

19:10:14 Birthday Blue

Rhiannon had blue paint out today as she made a gift for a friend who's 15th birthday is tomorrow. With some watercolour paints and paper, some liquid latex art masking fluid and a great idea in her head she set out to create a very unique gift. I can't wait for it to dry so I can take a photo and show you!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

18:10:14 Mirror image

On todays walk Murphy met his mirror image. This dog was almost exactly the same size as him and had a similar length of coat. They were fascinated by each other and just stood nose to nose for ages looking into one anothers eyes! I would have loved to have been able to read their minds for that moment in time!

Friday, October 17, 2014

17:10:14 Tea break

Fasting on a work day is usually easy. The busy pace of the hospital keeps me focused on my patient care and doesn't allow much time for focusing on my rumbling belly. The one time that temptation calls is when the kitchen ladies do their morning tea round. They push their trolleys around the ward giving the patients a hot drink and whatever home-made treat has been rustled up in the kitchen during the morning. Occasionally there are some extras that are left in the staff room to be shared and enjoyed. Sods law is that 9 times out of 10 this happens on a fast day. 

When yesterdays morning tea was homemade scones with sugar sprinkled on top and a generous dollop of jam my mouth was watering. I so nearly gave in and broke my fast. Instead I decided to be strong and wrapped one of the scones in a paper towel and put it in my locker. Today was a non-fast day and I enjoyed every single crumb of my scone with my morning cup of tea. It tasted twice as nice as it would if I had eaten it yesterday because there was no guilt attached! Well worth waiting for!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

16:10:14 WhatBerries???

In Ireland in Autumn the hedgerows were often covered in Blackberry briars with juicy Blackberries nestled in amongst the prickly thorns. Here in Australia it is Spring and a huge tree that we walk past on our evening stroll with Murphy has these juicy deep purple berries hanging on the branches. There are no thorns and it is a proper tree rather than a twisted hedge of brambles. The berries are sweet and look just a bit longer than the round berries of my childhood. 

I've seen ice-cream flavours here in Australia called "Loganberry or Boysenberry" and wondered if they were a different name for the same thing or a different variety entirely. The fact that these berries grow on a thornless tree is what makes them so different and I was wondering if any Australians out there know the answer...?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15:10:14 Card from home

I love this card that arrived in from a friend from Ireland! It was a "no reason" card which is the best kind to get! 

Everyone who grew up in Ireland learned this phrase in school. 

Can you guess what it means?!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

14:10:14 All that glitters...

Murphy was hanging around my feet today as I did some spring cleaning. I sorted through a few drawers and came across a Valentines card from a few years ago. It was very glittery. I didn't notice it fall to the ground but Murphy did. He was very quiet for the next while and when I turned to look for him he had eaten chunks from each corner and had a fine sprinkling of glitter all over his face and dog bed. 

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk and he stopped by a tree to do his business. As I bent down with plastic bag in hand ready to scoop away the poop I was in for a surprise. It also was sparkly and glittery! You don't hear puppy bragging like that every day... My puppy is so cute he even poops glitter!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

13:10:14 Cousin time

"The cousins" came for a visit this weekend. Here is a photo I sneaked just as Sian finished plaiting  little Cara's hair and lifted her to look at it in the mirror.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

12:10:14 Kerry Apple Tart

A big slab of "Kerry Apple Tart" 

I don't know if this cake is known by other names but this is what I grew up calling it in Dublin. It is a simple madeira cake with lots of pieces of tart green apples mixed in and a liberal sprinkling of sugar on top. It is poured into a simple oven tray and cooked until it is firm to the touch. 

This was a great addition to our picnic bag today as we spent the afternoon with a few families at the local park playing until the sun was low in the sky. Making the most of the beautiful warm weather before some very bad storms that are on their way to us tomorrow. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

11:10:14 Birds eye view

We heard a big bang one afternoon and found a large bird stunned on the path around our house. After a couple of minutes he recovered and flew away. When we looked at the footage of our security camera we were able to see what happened. 

This bird is a Channel Billed Cuckoo. It is the largest cuckoo in the world and weighs up to a kilo and measures over half a meter from beak to tail. It is a bird that is disliked and chased by birds because the male distracts local birds from their nest and encourages them to swoop on him (as this bird was doing) and in the meantime his female partner throws out the current eggs in the nest and quickly lays her own in their place. 

This cuckoo wasn't planning his escape route very well when he swooped and hit our bedroom window!

Friday, October 10, 2014

10:10:14 Whisky Appreciation Night

Byron and some friends went on a wine tour in the Hunter Valley and talked about having a "Culture Night" in each person's house over the coming year. This week was Byrons turn and he wanted to do a Whisky tasting evening. 

He did loads of research about what foods were the best match for each of the six Scottish "Classic Malts" and between us we planned a menu and sourced the ingredients. We were very lucky to find a Scottish butcher who made his own haggis, Scotch pies and black-pudding. Everything else was made in our kitchen. 

It was a brilliant night and one that will never be forgotten!

Course One:
Served with homemade Soda Bread and Sea-Salted Salmon delicately smoked with beech wood chips.

Course Two:
Served with homemade Scotch Eggs layered in pork meat seasoned with fresh parsley, chives, a pinch of nutmeg and paired with a homemade Mustard Sauce.

Course Three:
Served with authentic Scotch Pastry pies handmade by a Scottish butcher to a secret family recipe.

Course Four:
~ OBAN ~
Served with traditionally made Black Pudding, pan fried and accompanied by Tatties and Neeps.

Course Five:
Served with Oven Baked Haggis, piped into the room on a silver platter and accompanied by the traditional “Toast to Haggis”

Course Six:
Served with Chive Oatcakes and a selection of fine cheeses
20 Month Aged Cheddar
Triple Cream Brie 
Full Fat British Blue Stilton

Thursday, October 09, 2014

09:10:14 Shade

A nice bit of shade after a big walk!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

08:10:14 Oh Murphy...!

Holidays are over. The final school term of the year begins today. In the interest of being "real" let me share with you what I found when I got home from the school run!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

07:10:14 Us time

A date day with my lovely Mr B! A big walk followed by coffee then lunch. It's good to have a little bit of  "us time" every now and again.

Monday, October 06, 2014

06:10:14 Haute Couture to go!

I love seeing my kids be creative. 
Why buy a necklace to match your new dress when you can make one out of polished crystals and thread. 
Add a bit of bling and hey presto. 
Ready to wear!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

05:10:14 Origami in minature

Rhiannon has been working on some creative craft ideas today. Do you remember when I saw these origami cranes in John Hunter Hospital a few months ago? When we saw these tiny glass bottles in a craft shop yesterday we were inspired to try to make our own versions of them!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

04:10:14 People who look like their pets...

Sian thinks Murphy and I are looking more and more alike...

I've no idea what gives her that idea...?!

Friday, October 03, 2014

03:10:14 Back burning

Back-burning is common in Australia in the lead up to the summer. Firefighters burn areas of bush to clear the dead leaves and scrub so that unplanned fires later in the summer do not sweep out of control because they run out of fuel when they hit a strip of previously burned forest. 

Even though the fires are lit in controlled conditions and are essential it still gave me goosebumps driving through the smoke between work and home today. Seeing multiple fire trucks and dozens of fire-men along the bush near our home made me aware of what a major fire could mean to us as a family if it happened unexpectedly. 

I am grateful for the work being done this week that will protect us over the coming hotter weeks. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

02:10:14 The emotional cook.

The more I read about healthy lifestyles the more I hear the expression "emotional eater" 

Am I an emotional eater? Today tested that theory. 

I came away from work in a pretty low mood. There were some tears in the car which I wiped away quickly before pulling up the driveway. It's school holidays so the kids were home and a cup of tea was ready for me in the kitchen. 

Today is one of my 5:2 fast days. I was hungry and craving cookies. Had it been a non fast day I'm sure I'd have dived into the fridge or pantry. I had a friend calling in for a cuppa and a chat so I decided to bake. 

Sugar, butter, eggs, flour, coconut. I weighed and measured, sieved and mixed. The messier the kitchen got the calmer I felt. The smell of the cookie dough, the feel of it as I rolled it into balls in my hands. The texture of it as I pressed the balls into disks on to the cookie trays. The smell as they cooked and turned golden brown in the oven. The warmth as I slid each cookie off the tray with a spatula. The satisfaction as I watched my friend and the kids pick them up warm from the cooling rack and tuck in. 

I didn't eat any. Not a crumb. I didn't have to. I felt calm and happy. Yes, I think I know what I am now...  

Not necessarily an emotional eater but definitely an emotional cook!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

01:10:14 The forgetful cook

I made a dinner last night that we hadn't had in a while. Thai chicken basil stir fry. 

Chicken breast, onion, coconut milk, fish sauce, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, chillies, garlic, courgette, mange tout, broccoli.  All stir fried together and served with steamed rice. 
It was good. But somehow not quite as good as I remember it being before. 

It took me until I was halfway through the meal before I realised what was missing...