Thursday, 28 April 2011

Something in common with Wills and Kate!

Seeing as wedding fever is beginning to get a grip I thought that I would jump on the bandwagon
and include my little story...

You see, I have something in common with the Royal couple...


When Prince William marries Catherine Middleton on Friday he will give her a wedding band
made of Welsh gold.
Well, almost sixteen years ago in a little village chapel in Wales I got married...
...and my wedding band is made from Welsh gold.

Not pure welsh gold (unfortunately I don't have that kind of spare cash!),
but it does contain some of the very precious gold mined in Wales.
 If you look closely you can see the word Heritage and next to it a daffodil.

The gold in my ring was mined from Gwynfynydd in North Wales.  The Queen was presented with a kilogram of gold from Gwynfynydd on her 60th birthday in 1986 so who knows, maybe Kate Middleton's wedding ring will be made from the same gold from the same mine as mine?

The mines were still active back in the day when I got married so I have a percentage of Welsh gold in my wedding band. As time has gone on the percentage that is included in the rings has decreased whilst the price has increased. The last two major gold mines closed at the end of the 1990's.
I guess at some point in the near future there will be no more Welsh gold...

Better keep looking after it then!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easter weekend olive picking

This Easter we did something different, something we have never done before... 
We packed the car and headed south for 8 hours to drive through some wonderful countryside.
The reason for the drive was to pick olives....
Hundreds, no, thousands,....better make that hundreds of thousands of olives!

(My Mediterranean friends guessed right from the clue in my last post).

enthusiastic kids on the first morning of picking

We were lucky enough to be invited to share Easter with some friends
and their extended family on the olive farm.
My crash course in olive picking went something like this:-
"Pick the black ones, not the shrivelled up sultana looking black ones. Leave the green ones."

Olive trees have no thorns and no nasty bugs  - bar the odd wasp nest. The olives come off easily and it was a surprisingly relaxing activity. Sometimes we picked in groups and had giggly conversations through the leaves, other times we picked in pairs and sometimes it was nice and relaxing just to pick a tree and get lost in the monotony of the task and let your mind wander.

On the first morning all the children were so excited that they rushed out not long after it was light and started filling the white buckets with olives. This excitement however, was relatively short lived and most of the day we heard them playing somewhere in the middle of the olive groves, lost in their own little make believe worlds. They were always around for the food stops though!

the kids are here - it must be time to eat!

This was proper country living... We were outdoors almost from sun up to sun down. We would work away and then the call would be heard that morning tea was served. The ute would appear with hot drinks and a selection of goodies. Everyone would gather around, fill up, then back to work until the next call for lunch. This was taken under the big shady tree and would be a hearty soup, or a sausage sizzle and there was always a bottle of two of wine to share.

lunch being prepared by the very capable elders.

 The afternoon shift was usually the quiet one where I enjoyed the peace and tranquility of just being far away from home. I could listen to the conversation around me, eavesdrop on the children's princess game that was being played just around the corner, or try and shut everything out and concentrate on the gentle rustle, rustle plop sound of olive picking.

Once it got too dark to see the difference between green and black we would call it a day. It's almost addictive stuff and each evening we would keep going until it really was impossible to see. With children bathed and in their pj's the adults would then sit and ponder the day over a meal. It was a real privilege to be part of the big family gathering.  I loved listening to the reminiscing of the older generations and hearing about the history of the area.

sunset over the olive grove

On Friday and Saturday around 500kg of olives had been picked and then on Sunday these were crushed to make roughly 70litres of  oil. This will need to stand for a while until it clears and then it will be ready to consume.

from the tree to the oil...
Sunday was a slight change of routine as there were other jobs for some of the men to do. Some of us went to the local church for the Easter Service and then even more family came back to pick. Even 94 year old great Nana pulled up a chair and picked! At one point there were four generations of one family helping out. Well, four and a half if you counted the pregnant belly of one!!

Since I've been in Australia I've picked up the odd new word or phrase and this weekend the new word was  - 'jaffle' We were having 'jaffles' on Sunday and they were to be cooked in the fire! For the non Australians jaffals are a toasted sandwich that you cook in an enclosed cast iron press and boy do they taste good! Champagne and jaffles around the fire - what a combination! and what a great evening to end a memorable weekend.

Sunday evening jaffles. (note the ugg boots to keep warm)

Grateful for good friends and the opportunity to explore the Australian countryside.

linking up with Sarah for
Good Life Wednesday
Good Life Wednesdays

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I've been to see Autumn...

...and she was beautiful.

During the long Easter weekend we had an invite from some lovely friends to share the holiday with their family down in Tamworth. It was a glorious weekend full of great company, good food, good wine and days filled with sunshine...sounds a bit idyllic - actually it was! I will post later on this week about what we got up to during the break, but in the meantime I want to share some shots of Autumn.

 We travelled from Brisbane inland and picked up the Cunningham Highway and then the New England Highway across the border into New South Wales. The journey took roughly eight hours, but to be honest it didn't seem too long as the scenery was just a delight. I mentioned a few posts ago that I missed the changing seasons here in Australia...well I had obviously never been on the New England Highway when I wrote that!
We seemed to go for miles and miles, oops, kilometres and kilometres without much traffic. We stopped a few times to refresh and have a drink and a stretch and then back in the car to ooh and aah at the Autumnal collage in front of us.

Having visually feasted on the journey down to Tamworth we were greeted with another breathtaking landscape when we arrived. The view below is what we saw with drink in hand whilst sitting on the back deck of the house...

The sunset was particularly beautiful and I will share that and other photos of what we did.
Here's a little clue...

Any ideas?

Back to reality in the morning. The school uniform has been washed (but not quite ironed), the supermarket shop has been done, roast dinner is being cooked as I type and from the lovely New South Wales sunshine I'm looking out of the study window at the grey sky and rain...oh well.

Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend break,
 I'm looking forward to catching up and reading what's been happening.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Want to live up the mountain?

This morning Sibs and I went for a drive up the mountain to catch up with sis-in-law (aka Dr Doolitle).
It was her birthday over the weekend so we took up a small gift, some hot cross buns and some chocolates for morning tea.

Their place is only about 20km from us yet it feels like another world the higher we climb and weave up that mountain. We pass through some forest with ferns so tall that you could be mistaken for being in a jungle or a tropical rain forest....wait on, it probably is a tropical rain forest!?

After a very pleasant morning it was time to come home to get on with some preparation for the Easter weekend. On the way down we noticed a for sale sign and pulled over to have a better look....

Seeing as the house was for sale I thought it was okay to take some photos. This one is with a bit of a zoom, otherwise it would just have been a bit of a spot in the middle of the trees.
It's pretty secluded with the most amazing view down as far as the port of Brisbane.
From the outside it's a little contemporary and industrial looking for my taste- but I think I could manage those views!

In the interest of research I had to have a look at the real estate web site when I got home. It has 5 bedrooms in a separate wing,  4 bathrooms and garage parking for 6 cars. Now for the interesting bit - it boasts a home theatre with blackout ceilings and walls, and a home office with finger print entrance security. It sounds very James Bond doesn't it? It will be going up for auction in May. Auctions are very popular for house sales here. Thankfully we didn't have to go through all that when we bought, but I did go to a few auctions just to get a feel for the market and as a 'just in case' so that I knew what it was all about if we needed to buy this way. I can imagine that it's pretty stressful whether you're a buyer or the seller. Many auctions are held on site so the house can be full of people just there for a nosy...

Here are a few of the real estate agent shots -

the only thing to do with a location like that is an infinity pool.

that looks suspiciously like a library - oh dream!
As I was driving away I thought about the different styles of houses that surround me. I wondered if it might be interesting to share the variety here?  Must put that suggestion in the 'we should box'!

I'm taking a little break from tomorrow to enjoy the long Easter weekend.
We have a really fun activity planned, something quite different....

Happy Easter all,
Pasg Hapus i bawb,

it's a Wednesday, so I'm linking up with
Sarah at 'a beach cottage'

Good Life Wednesdays

Monday, 18 April 2011

school holidays and easy pancakes

The start of the school holidays...and it's raining!

That's OK because in my book, the first day of any holiday is for relaxing
and when it rains, you have to relax even more...

We are creatures of habit in this house and even though I wouldn't stop the world to keep to a routine, I do try my best to keep some things going. One of our 'traditions' is to stay at home for the first morning of the school holidays and make something nice for morning tea .
This morning was no exception with the only difference that we had a few more kids in the house. 

On the menu this morning was pancakes.

They are so easy to make and these little ones are particularly popular.

You just add a bit more flour than usual so that the batter is slightly thicker and holds its shape.

225g plain flour
2 eggs beaten
300ml milk
1 teaspoon of melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder

Sift the flour  and baking powder into a bowl or large jug,
make a well and add the beaten egg, milk and melted butter.
I then use a blending stick and whizz it around until the batter is smooth.
If I have time I will leave it stand for about 30 mins...

That's it.

Add a small amount of butter to a flat bottom frying pan or griddle and either spoon the batter into the pan or use one of these nifty pancake pens to make the job really easy.

I love this pancake pen (Wheel and Barrow $20). If you're adventurous you can make all sorts of shapes of pancakes with it.

We once tried an "S" - it looked good in the pan, but it was a little tricky to flip!
The ingredients above would make approximately 40 small pancakes, give or take a few.
The three kiddies that were here this morning devoured about a dozen each in a wink! I had some frozen berries in the freezer so we added some of those. In true Nigella style there was also some chocolate sauce left over from a dinner party that we had last night so I let them finish that off too....they were pretty happy chocolate faced kiddies after that!

I had to quickly get these few on my plate before the whole lot went.

I have learnt that a house full of kids can be easier than just the one at times of rain and school holidays,
so this morning Sibs and her little mates ran round playing all sorts of make believe games and left me to my own devices.

This afternoon we all headed to the movies to watch "HOP". It's a fun Easter movie with a few laughs. There's nothing too scary, nothing too sad and the bunny is kind of cute. I quite enjoyed it myself.

We have a day of no plans tomorrow...sounds good to me.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Hamptons comes to Brisbane

cafe at Hamptons Home Living

I had a spare few hours this afternoon...Some very precious few hours to myself.

Sibs went to a birthday party and I went browsing through Paddington. This is a suburb just next to where I live and it's full of gorgeous little boutique type shops, some antique places and various cafes. I love the fact that there are old run down little workers cottages just next door to beautiful homeware shops. It's full of surprises. One of the reasons that I was keen to spend some time there this afternoon was to visit a new shop. I had driven past a few times and had annoyed a driver behind me the other night because I went past a little on the slow side so that I could have a nosy... So to prevent any potential accidents whilst driving past I thought it was time to visit.

This new place is called Hamptons Home Living.  Even the name sounds tempting doesn't it? Well it doesn't disappoint. It's like walking into a delightful show home full of all the things that you love. The set up is elegant and comfortable with lovely things in every corner. It's cleverly styled almost like a home with a living area, some kitchen things displayed on a long table and even a styled bedroom....I just wanted to move straight on in. Then at the back is a wonderful veranda overlooking the city where you can sit and relax with a magazine and a coffee - bliss....and this is exactly what I did. (Oh, and a rather nice macadamia chocolate brownie found it's way onto my table too!)

Tania and Luke the owners were really welcoming and friendly and I'm sure this place is going to be a great hit. Soon they will be opening their kitchen so us locals can enjoy breakfast on the veranda - sounds good to me.

So this evening I'm sitting here with a glass of wine, Sibs and three friends are quietly watching a dvd,
my new candle smells divine,
and life is good...

purchased from Hamptons Home Living 

Enjoy your weekend,

Friday, 15 April 2011

What do you see through your window?

artist Lynn Miller

A young couple moves into a new neighbourhood.

The next morning while they are eating breakfast,

the young woman sees her neighbour hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean", she said.
"She doesn't know how to wash correctly.

Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbour would hang her wash to dry,
the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a
nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

"Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.
I wonder who taught her this.

The husband said,
"I got up early this morning and
cleaned our windows

source unknown

And so it is with life.  
What we see when watching others
depends on the purity of the window through which we look.

I think I'll wash my windows this weekend!
Happy Friday.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

thinking about my blogging style

The other day my husband was reading through my blog.
He said that he thought it was good...but a bit twee!
A bit too pretty and flowery and "isn't life great" twee!

When quizzed, he explained that I only really wrote nice things.
This has got me thinking...
Why do I write a blog? Why do I share certain things and not others?

(He also asked why I referred to him as 'husband', so for the record he's called Neil!)

Anyway, back to  - 'I only really write about nice things'. Umm... yes?

I chose to blog so that I could share the amazing life that I think we have here in Australia. Of course it's not perfect, but I don't think anyone is at all interested whether I'm having a bad hair day, or the fact that I got out of bed on the wrong side.
I think that I write about everyday day things. I will occasionally share some challenges, the downs as well as the ups of life, but he's right, on the whole I do only blog about the good side of life. I suppose blogging for me is a controlled diary. I only share parts of my life that I choose...

So just this once, (with tongue in cheek) to balance things  a wee bit and so that I don't give the impression that life is always rosy here, prepare yourself for a few glimpses of some of things in my life this week....


Both ipod and iphone are still working but there was a nasty glass splinter yesterday...
On the subject of glass -this fog light has had a crack in it for a while and it's now well and truly in need of repair...just add it to the list of car repairs.

The lovely dent and scratch on the other car happened when a much bigger car decided to change lanes and didn't quite see us. It's going to take 2-3 weeks to repair and can't be fitted in to the garage until almost the end of May!

(I did think of taking some photos of the kitchen after tea and the bathroom after Sibs had her shower...but I have spared you. Just use your was broccoli and cheese soup - very green,
with crusty bread - lots and lots of crumbs!
...and Sibs hasn't quite mastered the art of placing toothpaste directly on her brush!)

I still think in the future I'll be mainly sticking to pretties and the good side of life...
Pahh, what do husbands know about blogging??

captured on a walk last Sunday
A quick note to finish - it usually takes me minutes to write a blog post...this one took ages.
It must be much easier writing about good things! 

Monday, 11 April 2011

a 'we should box'

I have read a few blog posts recently about 'to do lists'. Let me share my version...

Come into a corner of the kitchen and I'll show you...

See that pretty box? That's our 'we should box'.

Do you ever utter the words - "we should..."?
 Well, in this house we kept on saying those little words over and over.

"We should go for more walks on Sundays..."
"We should eat here again..."
"We should do this, that and the other!"
etc, etc.

Quite often during school holidays or at weekends we would ponder the day ahead and try and think of things to do.  So a couple of years ago my then six year old took it upon herself to help with this pondering and so developed the  'we should box'. We bought a pretty box and she wrote out the instructions.

The idea of the box is to put in suggestions when we think or talk about them. Some of them are realistic, some are dreams. (When I looked in the box this morning there is a note that says - "we should all go to Hollywood ", hmm, not sure about that one!)
You know what it's like - you'll get a great idea and then a few months later it comes back to you and you think "we never did that thing". Well this is supposed to capture the ideas and get us to actually do the stuff that we keep talking about!

It's not foolproof, but it is a little bit more fun than writing a list and I like the fact that it involves the whole family. We tend to just write the fun activity type things rather than the more mundane - "we should sweep under the beds" type of chores....Maybe that's another idea for another box??

With the Easter school holidays approaching I will invite our 'we should box' to dinner this week. I think it's looking a bit bare as we have neglected it somewhat recently. It was a conversation with a friend yesterday that prompted me to write this today and re-introduce us to some ideas written during the last few months.

Maybe if  a 'to do list' is just a bit too scary, then a 'we should box' could work for you too?

Good Life Wednesdays
linking up with Sarah at a beach cottage

Friday, 8 April 2011

Flowers and a blog award

 Good morning Friday - how I welcome you!

Today, I'm sharing some flowers from my part of the world. I am only just getting over the fact that flowers in Brisbane are expensive...incredibly expensive.

A few years ago back in cold North Yorkshire, I would think nothing of picking up a pretty bunch of flowers during my grocery trip to the market or the supermarket. The colourful blooms would brighten up our house most weeks.

Until quite recently, flowers have been a special occasion treat here. Then two things happened- one, we discovered a local farmers market and two, we realised that we were allowed to pick flowers from our own garden!!

I would follow the transformation of the garden and watch these beautiful sub tropical flowers grow, bloom and wither - why did I not think of enjoying them indoors...

So during the last few months I have had an impressive arrangement in a tall glass vase that greets me in my living room. It's a constant reminder of my location - these kinds of flowers are so different.

I am no gardener and just about manage to keep on top of our small herb and salad patch so I'm going to put myself out there are say I think these are Heliconias? (Maybe my next Christmas present should be a flowers book)

I am going to dedicate my flowers today to anyone reading who is living away from their home country. I hope you can appreciate and enjoy the differences in your new place.

Just following on from this I also want to pass something on to someone who is living away from her home country...

A week or so ago I was given a blog award....a 'liebster award' is an award for new blogs that someone out there thinks should be shared. It was passed on to me by Linda who writes Flowers on my table. Linda lives in Ireland and is a florist and a decorative artist and through her gorgeous blog we have discovered that we once lived in the same small town - now that's proof how small this world really is. Anyway, Linda asked me to pass on the 'liebster award' to other blogs that I read that I think should be shared.

I would like to pass it on to a talented writer who pens I love books...and other thought on life. Sian lives in Spain with her family and is a teacher (I would love to be in her class). She writes about the Spanish way of life, the books that she loves to read and about the loves and challenges of parenting.

So go and say hi to Linda and Sian, and with a quick link you'll find yourself in Ireland and Spain - enjoy!

 Happy weekend,