Thursday, December 17, 2009

Photographic Memory

I was going through some old picture folders on my computer the other night and came across some photos I had taken whilst visiting my grandfather a few years ago. My parents, youngest sister and I had gone to visit him and attend the local show. I distinctly remember taking these in the fading afternoon light (using the sepia setting on my camera for some reason) and being quite happy with the images I took.

I particularly love the one of the old water tank, as a few weeks after we had visiting, it was destroyed by a spring-time hail storm and the one of the old outhouse door.

As a child, when we would visit my grandfather, my father would regale my sisters and I with stories involving this outhouse. Once they had installed an indoor toilet (apparently my grandfather got sick of having to get up in the middle of the night to take my grandmother and aunts to the toilet as they were too scared to go outside by themselves at night), my uncle and father turned the building into a science laboratory of sort - they would collect interesting specimens of this and that and store things that they didn't want their little sisters getting hold of. Once such specimen they stored in there was a preserved baby echidna. I can't remember the exact details of how they came across the echidna, but it mustn't have been preserved very well, because I remember my father telling me about the day the bottle exploded, spraying glass and the contents all over the outhouse and about how angry his mother was for "keeping that thing in there".

A visit to my grandfather's house was also never complete without opening all the cupboards in my fathers and uncles and aunts bedrooms. The contents never changed, but each visit brought new discoverys. Clothes (very vintage and at the time I was too young to appreciate this), books, photos, records. You name it, it was probably in those cupboards.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget...

On this day in 1918, at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed that ended World War 1. The following year, King George V dedicated the day as a day of remembrance for those members of the armed forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the war.

Remembrance Day now commemorates all those who have made this sacrifice serving their country. The poppy is used as the symbol of Remembrance Day because of Canadian John MacRae's poem, In Flanders Fields which tells of the poppies blooming across the fields in Flanders (the site of some of the fiercest fighting during World War 1). The red colour of the poppies represents the blood that was shed during the battle.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them
Lest we forget.

On this Remembrance Day, wear your poppy proudly and take a minute to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could live in freedom. Lest we forget.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town...

Hmm, yes, I know that it is only the beginning of November but decorations are already up in the shopping centres and I feel that is only a matter of days before the endless loop of Christmas Carols are played to enhance your shopping experience at this time of year. My sister noticed a certain smell beginning to permeate the air (she does work in a chocolate shop) and this inspired her to note all the things she loves about Christmas time. I thought that this is an awesome idea, so here it is, the things I love about Christmas time...

1. Christmas carols.

My parents have this great CD of Bing Crosby carols that we listen to while decorating the tree, eating Christmas lunch and generally when we feel like it during the Christmas season. When I was a kid, I used to have a cassette of Christmas carols as sung by Disney characters. I absolutely treasured this tape and would play it over and over. I was devastated when the tape was eaten by my tape player. I have searched high and low for a CD of the songs, but to no avail. My family also has a tradition of watching the Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, all sitting in the lounge room with a big plate of Christmas treats, including homemade fruit mince pies, truffles and rum balls. Heaven!

2. Presents.

Buying, wrapping, giving, receiving, I love presents. I love the thrill of shopping for the perfect gift for a loved one, wrapping it beautifully and then seeing their face as they open it, bleary eyed early on Christmas morning.

3. The tree.

Each year, my yearning to decorate the Christmas tree gets earlier and earlier. But I sit on my hands and wait (im)patiently til December 1, and then it's out with the boxes of decorations and on goes the Bing Crosby CD for the tree decorating extravaganza. Now that I've moved out of home, my boyfriend (who loves Christmas time just as much as I do) and I have our own tree but I love to go over to my parent's place and help to decorate theirs too).

4. The lights.

Oooh, Christmas lights. I love driving/walking around the neighbourhood looking at all the lights, especially after a summer storm and all the lights are extra twinkly because of the rain drops.

5. The treats.

Rum balls and cookies and shortbread, oh my... And the list goes on, fruit mince pies, stollen, white christmas, truffles, candy canes... I love them all - especially the home made ones... Especially the ones made by my nan - she is the best cook and she always makes the delicate almond shortbreads just for me. Love you nan :)

6. The traditions.

Getting up super early on Christmas Day, having my little sisters crawl into bed with me at 4am bringing their stockings so we can sit under the covers and inspect everything, sneaking out to the tree to see how many presents were left by Santa, not opening presents until Dad has made his cup of coffee, taking turns at playing "Santa" and handing out the presents, setting up the Nintendo 64 and having Mario Kart tournaments all day with Dad repeatedly getting his ass kicked, wearing the colourful paper hats that come from the Christmas crackers, eating so much food that a nap after lunch is warranted (this is probably also due to the fact that we got up at 4am). Some of these traditions have fallen by the wayside as we have grown up (especially the getting up at 4 am ones) but we still always play Mario Kart and always eat way too much at lunch and we have also developed new ones, such as all sharing a drink or two (which makes for interesting Mario Karting).

Yes, indeedy, I love, love, love Christmas and have already started to count down for this year. I've planned what Christmas goodies I will bake and started making my list (and checking it twice).

What do you love about Christmas?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Place & Yours... Bedsides

I've been reading Meet Me at Mikes for a while now, but only recently became a follower. So when I saw her post about My Place and Yours pop up in my email, I thought it was a cute idea and decided to join in. I missed last weeks, but not this weeks.

So... here is my bedside

Hmm, what to say about my bedside???

Well, its a little dusty and in hindsight, I probably should have dusted before taking the pictures, but hey, whaddya gonna do.

Of the four books, I have just finished reading the bottom two and only purchased the top two yesterday. There's some tissues, for early morning hay fever, a lamp for late night reading, a glass that I use at night when I'm thirsty, earrings and a necklace I wore to work one day this week, my trusty pot of blistex lip balm and my old faithful pink teddy bear (he's not so pink anymore, but at 27 years old, he's looking pretty good).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Silly Old Bear...

I squealed with delight when I opened my inbox this morning. I had an email from Borders telling me all about the new books that were being released soon - and there it was, "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood", written by David Benedictus, an authorised sequel to the AA Milne classic stories about one, Winnie the Pooh...

Why did I squeal with delight and draw attention (in the form of some weird looks) to myself at the office?

Because, as a child, I was mesmerised by the Winnie the Pooh stories, obviously due in part to the Disney cartoons (that I used to watch back in the eighties), but my Mum used to read to me from the books as well. I was so obsessed with the stories that I gave my Dad and his army buddies nicknames depending on what Winnie the Pooh character they were most like (my Dad was Winnie the Pooh of course).

My Mum also used to read to me from AA Milne's poetry books, especially "Now We Are Six". My favourite poem was "Sneezles" which is about when Christopher Robin gets sick. I used to know it off by heart and even today when I was googling it, I found myself remembering some of it.

Christoper Robin
Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
His bed.
hey gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles
Would turn
Into mumps;
They examined his chest
For a rash,
And the rest
Of his body for swellings and lumps.
They sent for some doctors
In sneezles
And wheezles
To tell them what ought
To be done.
All sorts and conditions
Of famous physicians
Came hurrying around
At a run.
They all made a note
Of the state of his throat,
They asked if he suffered from thirst;
They asked if the sneezles
Came after the wheezles,
Or if the first sneezle
Came first.
They said, "If you teazle
A sneezle
Or wheezle,
A measle
May easily grow.
But humour or pleazle
The wheezle
Or sneezle,
The measle
Will certainly go."
They expounded the reazles
For sneezles
And wheezles,
The manner of measles
When new.
They said "If he freezles
In draughts and in breezles,
May even ensue."

Christoper Robin
Got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look in his eye
Seemed to say to the sky,
"Now, how to amuse them today?"

(Sneezles, by AA Milne, from Now We Are Six)

Ahh, the memories... I wish I could live in the Hundred Acre Wood... Maybe I'll just buy the books instead...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Footy Finals Fever

The Grand Final of the 2009 NRL competition was last Sunday.

Every year for a while now, my Dad has hosted an end-of-season and footy tipping competition party at my parent's place for his work mates. They all put in money throughout the year to buy food and drinks and also usually bring along a plate of food to share with everybody. Since my boyfriend and I were going along this year, I decided I would make a cake to take over for dessert. Easy!

Then I got to thinking, wouldn't it be a good idea to take over some cupcakes (as I love making them and everyone loves a cupcake). The cupcake idea then rolled into football themed cupcakes and then football shaped cupcakes. I thought I would use a friand pan to get little cakes that were oval-shaped, which I would then ice to look like little footballs.

I used a vanilla cake recipe from an old Australian Women's Weekly cookbook and then chocolate buttercream icing and fudge icing for the piping (which I'm not very good at by the way).

For some final touches, I printed out the logos of all the teams in the NRL competition, plus the NRL corporate logo and the premiership logo, stuck them on mini-skewers and topped the cakes with them. I also took a photo of some gree
n grass, printed it out, cut it to size, laminated it and used in on the serving plate so that the little footballs looked like they were sitting on the football field (you can't really see the grass in the photos).

I think they looked great and they went down a treat with all the guests at the party. I've supplied the recipe for the cakes and icing after the photos.

For the Vanilla Cupcakes

You will need:
125g butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

3/4 cup caster sugar

2 eggs

1 & 1/2 cups Self-Raising Flour, sifted

1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to around 190-200 degrees Celsius. Cream b
utter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time, until combined. Stir in half the flour and half the milk until combined and then add the remaining flour and milk. Pour the mixture into your tray (I used a friand pan to make the football shapes) and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

For Chocolate buttercream icing

You will need:
3 tbsp butter
1 cup icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder


Mix the icing sugar and butter together (I use an electric beater to make it cream better) and once mixed, add some milk to make it creamy. You may need to add more butter or more icing sugar depending on the consistency of the icing you were after.

The fudge icing was ready-made in a tube, that I found in the baking aisle of the supermarket.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Attack of the killer handbag...

My handbags attacked me today
Tumbling out of the wardrobe in a mess of sequins, snakeskin and patent leather
Maybe they didn't like how they were stacked
Maybe they wanted to be used instead of the comfy cardigan I was really after
Maybe I have too many
(Don't tell my boyfriend I said that)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Things that have made me smile today...

Here are some things that have made me smile today:

* Having a cuddly sleep in, even though it's Monday
* Seeing more photos from my cousin's wedding last Friday on Facebook
* Buying this months RealLiving magazine (love it) and reading it on my lunch break
* Being let to the front of the supermarket express lane by a lady who told me that I should be spending my lunch break enjoying my time off, not standing in line at the supermarket

The first and last ones made me smile the most. A sleep in on any day is good, but knowing that today is Monday made it so much better. And, the last one is like getting a compliment from a stranger - you're not quite sure if you should take it or not, but it makes you smile nonetheless.

What has you smiling today?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maybe it is chocolate...

So, I know I said in my first post that this blog was not going to be about my adventures with chocolate cupcakes, but... I made a batch last night for a colleagues birthday and they looked so cute that I had to post about them. The recipe I use is so quick and easy, I thought I would share it with you.

Ahem, to make gorgeously easy chocolate cupcakes, you will need:

1 cup self-raising flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
90 grams butter, melted &

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

And, it all goes together like this:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Line your muffin tin with paper cupcake cases.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl.
Add all the other ingredients and beat well for 3 minute.
Divide the mixture amongst the cases and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Ice them with chocolate buttercream icing like I have, or dust them with icing sugar to serve.

Don't they look cute?

I'm thinking of adding some raspberries to the mix next time to make choc-raspberry cupcakes, or making little fairy cakes, with chocolate cream. Yum!

Oh, and PS, the cakes were a big hit in the office this morning. Very, very happy engineers all round.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bargain Hunter

Today I went shopping to pick up the Father's Day gift for my dad. I also picked something up for my boyfriend's father, as he had to go into work today and wouldn't have a chance to get anything before tomorrow. I got the presents and realised that I needed wrapping paper so I ducked into the $2 shop just up the road from our place as it's always cheap and has a great range of papers.

I found some great wrapping paper - a plain blue and a stripy blue. I also had a look around the rest of the store while I was in there. I found these really cute citronella candles in holders for just $3 each which will look great on our patio when we finally get an outdoor setting.

Citronella candles in holders

I also came across these rattan balls in packs of 15 for just $7 (I've seen similar p
acks for upwards of $30), which I have been wanting for some time to put in an empty fish bowl (we have enough fish and I hate seeing the empty bowl just sitting there).

The decorator balls

There is a Trade Secret store in the same complex as the $2 shop and when I had finished there I decided to take a quick look around in Trade Secret as well as I usually find some good stuff in there. I wasn't disapointed.

I have been looking for red clutch for a while and while browsing today I came across the perfect one. Originally $60, it had been marked down to $24.95 and then marked down further to a grand total of $4.86. There was no way I could walk past that so I snapped it up immediately. It will go perfectly with this red necklace and I'm planning to use it when I go to my cousin's wedding later this month.

The red clutch and necklace

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Little Things

"enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they're big things" (Robert Brault)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Boots

I was out shopping on Sunday morning, looking for some new work shoes, when I stumbled across the sexiest boots I had seen in a long time - black suede ankle boots, with a little frill on the front.

I tried them on - perfect fit. I stood there for quite a long time admiring the boots, umming and aahing over whether I should buy them or not. The price was right
, $20 off the full price. But I had come to buy new shoes for work and these were definitely not practical for work. Hmm, what to do??

I didn't buy them.... on Sunday...

I went back yesterday to admire them, when I noticed that they had a further $5 off the price and I had already dreamed up any number of outfits I could wear them with. So... I bought them. YAY, for new boots...

The sexy new boots

Another recent purchase that I'm rather excited about is a vintage glomesh clutch purse. I found it while browsing an op shop for a tie for my boyfriend to wear to a 70's themed birthday party.

The vintage glomesh clutch

PS - I did end up buying new work shoes, but work shoes aren't that exciting...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Duck Tales

This afternoon, my boyfriend and I thought it would be a nice idea to go for a walk in our neighbourhood. We decided to stroll down to the creek to feed the rather large family of ducks and geese that live there.

So it was shoes on and away we went...

Watching the ducks through the reeds

As I was feeding the ducks and geese, my boyfriend went exploring a little bit further downstream. The ducks and geese were most enthustiastic when they discovered I was going to feed them and they all began to swim closer to me.

Just some of the family that live near the creek

Before I go any further, I should give you all a little insight... I'm scared of ducks and geese. Now when they're in the water and not really near me, they don't bother me. It's when they get close and I can't tell what they're going to do next, that I start to get a little nervous. It all stems from a number of incidents in my childhood involving the ducks at Tarong Zoo and a bucket of chips and the geese at the Gold Mining Museum in Gympie). I also don't have much luck when it comes to feeding animals (there was also an incident at Alma Park Zoo and the deer).

Well, I was happily feeding away, when the geese decided that I wasn't feeding fast enough and they got out of the water and began coming towards me at a great rate of knots. That was enough for me. I quickly got rid of the rest of the bread and hightailed it out of pecking range.

The big, scary geese

Next time, I think I'll feed them from the bridge, not down on the banks, that way they can't come get me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mistaken Identity...

I was over at my parent's house this morning, picking up my little sister to take her to uni for an exam. As usual, a white, fluffy dog came bounding over to greet me. Astro is my dog but because of pet restrictions at the place I live, I can't have him with me (I fear his loyalties have shifted, as everyone now refers to him as my mum's dog).

Mum asked me if I had heard about Astro's latest adventure. I had to admit to her that I hadn't and she filled me in.

My other little sister had taken Astro to the dog groomer's to get his haircut. Having done this countless times myself, I knew the routine. Drop him off, come back an hour later to pick him up.
Well, when my sister went back to pick him up, the groomer proudly brought out a fluffy white Maltese and plonked him on the table. My sister took one look and said "That's not my dog".

Astro has quite a personality and some minor abandonment issues, so normally when we pick him up from the groomer's, he is very excited to see us and can't sit still. The dog that was placed on the table in front of my sister was very docile and sitting very quietly, which tipped my sister off immediately. Again she told the groomer "That's not my dog" (I think this is when she may have started to panic slightly).
In the end they figured out what happened (thank goodness). That morning, the groomer had 3 male Maltese in the salon, all with the same style of hair cut. Two belonged to a sweet, little, old lady and one, of course, was Astro. The little old lady's grandson had come to pick up her dogs not long before my sister arrived to pick up Astro and he had been sent home to the little, old lady's house instead of one of her dogs.
All it took was a phone call and the grandson came back with the two dogs. Astro came back in the store, took one look at my sister and got all excited and my sister knew it was him this time. The groomer was most apologetic and the grandson said that Astro had been having a great time (I'll bet he had, he loves riding in the car and he'd gotten two extra rides).
It was quite a funny story to hear first thing in the morning and I got to start my day with a smile.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I can't believe its not chocolate...

Well, since this is my first post to Yum! Chocolate Cupcakes, I should probably make some sort of comment on what this blog will be about. And surprisingly (or not surprisingly, depends on how you look at it), the blog won't be about my adventures with chocolate cupcakes. Instead, I plan to use Yum! as a way of getting my random thoughts, inspirations and anecdotes out there. But don't get me wrong, I love cupcakes, especially chocolate ones and maybe one day a chocolate cupcake may be the feature of a posting.

Anyway, to kick start the randomness, here's a list of what I'm loving at the moment:

* Cuddles in bed with the boy before heading to work (mmm)

* Black opaque tights

* Peppermint tea

* Masterchef Australia (I am a reality TV junkie)

* Liquorice (the soft kind)