Sunday, June 27, 2010

Counting Down....

25th - home having fun - tick... complete

26th - out and about having fun - tick... complete

27th - home having fun - tick... complete

28th - work.... soon to be ticked...

29th - work...

and then......

This isn't exactly how my birthday will look, as it is mid winter here... still I love gardens and eating out doors... and maybe my new garden will look like this.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Edwina would be proud!

Edwina the Dinosaur, that is!

She is a firm favorite of Mr S' and she just loves making chocolate chip cookies for everyone... even Reginald Von Hoobie Doobie!

Every time we read it, I get roped into making chocolate chip cookies. I have tried several recipes, but so far the one that I used today is the best. They are extremely moreish. Way too good unfortunately.

I used both white and dark chocolate.

As usual, Mr S supervised and lent a hand with some of the weighing, tipping and mixing. He is also a dab hand at licking the spoon!

The recipe comes from Tanya Ramsay's Family Kitchen . I am not a great Gordon Ramsay fan (too much anger for my taste), but Tania's recipes (particularly with little ones in mind) are really very good. The book is highly recommended.


The Briars

Mr S and I went for a walk in the woodland at The Briars today. It was a cold day, only about 13C, and we didn't go far. Less than a kilometre there and back. We visited two bird hides, didn't see much however, just one lone duck swimming on the lagoon in the wetlands.

Prior to starting off, we swung by the Visitor Centre and got a very friendly reception from the Ranger on Duty. She spent some time with Mr S, showing him the stick insects she had on display and the 3D model of the property, including the route of the walk she recommended for us. There was a stuffed wombat and live long necked tortioses too, both of which captured Mr S' imagination. Particularly, as we are reading Wombat Stew at the moment.

Although I tend to think of these things as a bit naff, seen through Mr S' eyes, it was very exciting.

I loved this lichen. It was just dripping from the Meleleuca in one small section. I guess the environmental conditions for it were just perfect in that little spot. It was very wet and very protected from any winds.

On a better day, I think Mr S and I will have another go. Next time I might take his push bike, so when he gets sick of walking I can push him along.

When he gets older I will take him up to the house and see all the Bonaparte treasures. But he is a little young for that yet.


Friday, June 25, 2010

It's my party...

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

I just love that song - every birthday I think about it.

I am currently planning my birthday festival. I have taken leave next Wednesday and Thursday - and given I have Friday off already - it means I don't go back to work until the following Monday 5 July - yeah!!!

I think on Wednesday Mr S and I will have lunch together in the city at one of my favorite restaurants and go to the latest exhibition at the NGV. Afternoon tea somewhere else with great cakes - maybe Acland Street or Babka in Brunswick Street? Then a 6 o'clock play "Wombat Stew", followed by dinner somewhere nice too...

I think I will make myself a birthday cake on Thursday... something really special!

Perhaps something out of my favorite birthday cake book I think

I have made the four layered chocolate cake on the cover before - it was delicious. So might give that another go?

And on the weekend have dinner with my brothers and their family! Not sure where, but somewhere family friendly.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I desperately need to restart my vege garden. So on Sunday afternoon Mr S and I went to Heronswood. I also thought it might almost be counted as part of my 20 mile radius quest! I guess it doesn't really, given that I have been there before, and the quest is about finding new things. But never-the-less we had a fab time and bought lots of new seeds. We had a great time choosing, and Mr S managed to get a freebie pack of carrot seeds!

And I found a pamphlet about Mornington Peninsula Gardens - so Ashcombe Maze at Red Hill and the RBG's Australian Garden at Cranbourne are now on the list!

And Mr S had a lovely time running around - just being free and happy!

And we made friends with the scary Garden Monster!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The best chocolate pudding I have ever made!

I jest not!

This pudding is seriously good.

And dead easy to make!

How could that be?

It is a melt and mix batter, scoop it into a baking dish, press in the broken up pieces of a Caramello block of chocolate, cover it all in a mix or cocoa powder and brown sugar, and finally pour hot water over it and whack it in the oven. 40 mins later... self saucing gooey chocolate pudding!

(Edit: I should have mentioned that this recipe is on the cover of the July 2010 issue of the Super Food Ideas magazine. Their photo is much more artful, with the pudding sprinkled with icing sugar and raspberries! We did actually eat this with raspberries, and they did add something to the taste.)

I love winter...

Well, I love winter... sometimes, to be more accurate.

I have spent the last day or so moaning about how cold I am... but I went out into the garden today and all that cold weather has triggered a winter collection of wonders.

the first of the winter Galanthus

I am a bit of a galanthophile... I am tempted to say 'snowdropper' but it wouldn't be accurate. Funny thing is, I didn't know about snowdroppers until I became interested in galanthus... the things you find out!

Winter Cheer is one of the oldest Kniphofia's in cultivation. I love the other common name 'Red Hot Poker'. I would sometimes give anything to be able to poke some people with something red and hot. I have a list of people in my mind who could quite frankly do with a damn good poke. It conjurers up the images of medieval torture... Can you tell I have had a difficult week?

I also found the last of an autumn flowering clematis called 'Freckles' for obvious reasons.

The seed heads are just forming and in a few weeks they will be fluffy balls of woolly charm. I think clematis has a split personality. On the one hand the flowers are very serious and elegant, and on the other the seed heads are full of fun. Any way the progress of this plant from flower to seed is delightful to follow, and in the middle of winter something to look forward too.

I also found this Angel's Trumpet - I just can't remember off hand if it is a Datura or a .... something beginning with 'B'... I will come back and edit the post when I recall the name, which is bound to be later tonight. I am very fond of orange in winter. I dislike it in the garden during summer. At that time of the year I want cool colours... but in winter I love a warmer palate.

(Edit: Brugmansia sanguinea - told you I would remember :) )

Lastly I found a lovely little pot of Cyclamen coum. Last year this little pot was crammed with flowers. It is just too early to tell what will happen this year. The flowers are just appearing. But they are very sweet.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday Night

I took myself off to Bell Shakespeare's King Lear on Saturday night. It was terrific. I have never seen King Lear before and I'm glad I did. I love Bell Shakespeare's productions. Very elegant. Very dramatic in a minimalist kind of way. I had never seen John Bell act before. He is very powerful and sexy. I really believed his characterisation.

It was a bit weird going by myself. I was going to go with my very good friend Felicity, but her back is playing up and I didn't want to hassle her. There will be lots of other times.

My brother and sister-in-law minded Mr S. He had a terrific time with his cousins. I went back and stayed over night, and most of the next day. My sister-in-law is a great cook and very generous. Lots of good food and company. A lovely holiday weekend. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

20 mile radius

Listening to Cast On the other day made me think about exploring my own local neighborhood.

I have lived on the Mornington Peninsula for some years. I do 'kinda' know it. Some of the restaurants, wineries, beaches, shops, some of the other attractions (Herronswood, The Maze, parts of the national park, Seawinds). But do I really know the area?? Not really... not deeply...

So I thought I might do some more exploring - under some catagories:

* food and wine
* natural environment
* built environment
* art and craft

I have done some initial research and it turns out there are heaps of things I have never done - but there are also heaps of things I haven't done for a long time.

For instance I have never been to the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park in Langwarrin, nor have I ever visited Mulberry Hill, home of Joan Lindsay (of Picnic at Hanging Rock fame)and now owned by the National Trust. I haven't been to the Red Hill Brewery and I haven't walked the complete artists trail between Portsea and Sorrento. And while I have been to the Mornington Regional Art Gallery, I haven't visited for quite a while...

So I am going to make a list. But the rule is I have to visit one new or old local thing every weekend and make a post about it! For at least the next few months

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Podcasts and other things

Now that I have an iPhone, I have been listening again to the podcasts by Brenda Dayne called Cast On.

She is funny and incisive. If you have experience either knitting or creating things then you will probably appreciate just how sharp her observations are. I spent the hour laughing and nodding. It is a great mix of art and the practical. Anyway it is highly recommended.

The lastes issue - number 91 - is called How to be a Poet. It is a reference to Wendell Berry's poem of the same name.

I have also cast on myself for the first time in 2010! W...whooooo!

A very modest winter hat for Mr S. I am modifying a Debbie Bliss pattern to make it - a rolled rim with a stalk ending. I am knitting it in Sublime's Cashmere Merino Silk DK in dark navy. It feels beautiful. I have used it before. The down side is it is fiddly to knit with, particularly difficult to achieve an even surface and it doesn't wear so well either. But it is lovely and soft and will be great for a hat. It is for kindergarten.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cup Cakes

I seriously love cup cakes. Not the highly stylised ones that fill glossy magazines and are the subject of monographs, but the old fashioned honest ones from my childhood. Just a bit bigger than bite sized. Modest. With icing and sprinkles or cherries.

I used to make the Women's Weekly version. They are lovely, but ask you to sift the flour 3 times!! They make light little cakes, but they are a bit fussy to make.

Recently I discovered a new recipe in Tessa Kiros' Apples for Jam. It is dead easy to make. A basic but very rich and thick butter cake batter. The little cakes keep for up to 6 days - if you can stop from eating them.

Mr S and I had a good time making them yesterday. He helped with measuring, pouring, and mixing. Although there were a few arguments, mainly about who was in control of the spoon, not pouring the flour everywhere and not banging the scales! I am such a spoil sport! :)

Friday, June 04, 2010

My New Backyard

I am starting to imagine what I might do with my new garden...

The soil is very sandy. I haven't done a pH test yet, but at best it will be neutral, but more likely to be alkaline. I will need to do this before I buy more plants.I have already got a small collection of bits and pieces. I have dug up some things from my current garden, and I need to take lots more cuttings.

I am thinking of having a silver pear hedge down the fence line (Pyrus nivalis). And keeping the colour range to silver/white, blue/purple and yellow/orange... but in reality I will probably slip a bit... I already have some red plants... Camellia 'Tinsie' and some red Alister Clarke roses - Nancy Heywood and a few others.

I really like Nancy Power as a designer. She does lots of Californian gardens.

I like the combination of formal and wild. But of course my garden will be different. There is a slope that I have to deal with for a start. So I am busy imagining and planning at this stage. It is a daunting task. But enjoyable too I think.