Wednesday, 30 October 2013

About my home town

One of my blogger friends recently asked me to tell her a little about where I live.  Well this is not an easy thing to do, how much do I say,  I do want to protect myself  but, I also want to connect with her and others that read my blog.  This is what I have decided, I don't need to give my address or tell too much about my shire, but I can tell you about my State.    I live at the bottom of Australia, the only place further down and across the waters of  Bass Strait is the island of Tasmania.   My home is in the state of Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, we were settled by the British and most of our ancestors were criminals who were shipped from the motherland England as convicts to settle this great land, although  my ancestors are mostly Irish   My home town is Melbourne it has a population of about 4 million people, I live in a shire about 50 kilometres on the outskirts of Melbourne.  Our shire has a population of roughly a hundred and twenty thousand people, with about a half of the community under 38 years old.  This area was once farming land, the original road through the shire was the Cobb and Co., coach road used to access the gold fields of Ballarat.  The Shire sprang up around the pub and coach office. The outskirts of the shire are still farming but are becoming required for housing.  Victoria's weather is classified as temperate, basically meaning we have very hot summers, mostly dry heat, occasionally it will be humid but this is rare, it has been know to reach 47 degrees celcius in the middle of summer to cold and hopefully wet winters. We have experienced fifteen years of drought but this winter has been kind to us.   Our winter tempretures usually vary between 1-2 degrees celcius to about 12 degrees, this of course varies, especially now we are feeling the changes due to global warming.  I love my town, Melbourne has bush on one side and open beaches with cafes on the forshore where most spend their time in summer.  On the other side of the city it is suburbia and housing,  but then if you want to ski during the winter it is only about one hundred kilometres to the snow fields.    In the summer we are not far from  the world renowned surf  coast of the Great Ocean Road and the beaches of  Bells Beach, Lorne, and Anglesea.  Melbourne is a lively young city, we have the Yarra river which winds it's way through the centre of the city, and has become the hub of many shops, cafes and water sports.  The sport mostly played is Australian rules football in the winter and Cricket in the summer,  and let me tell you everyone who has a club they support is very passionate about their team.  Not far from where I live there are kangaroos, koalas, wombats, beautiful wild birds, parrots, galahs, cockatoos etc, and of course the dreaded snakes.  If you look very carefully along creek beds you may come across a platypus or two, not as many as there used to be.     Kangaroos are taking over parts of this country, they are breeding in large numbers and are now being culled for their meat, which by the way is delicious, little fat and high in protein.  Snakes are some of the most dangerous in the world, and we have many.  
This was taken not far from my house overlooking  farmland
The city of Melbourne has many high rise buildings,  wonderful museums, art centres, theatres, hotels and of course the scorned casino. Most of us live in single story dwellings, we do not have cellars or attics, but saying that,  a lot of the earlier heritage terraces around the city do. The photo on the right is not typical, most people live in suburbia, I think I am very lucky to live outside what is called the green wedge, the land between the city and my shire. This area is becoming smaller as more land is needed for housing, but I am happy as I drive home that I can enjoy the scenery around me and unwind.
My home is a single story house with a garage attached to the side, it has three bedrooms two living areas and two bathrooms, I have a small yard, just enough land to have a garden and a small vegetable plot.  Diane, I hope this has given you an insight into my town and where I live. I have been told Melbourne reminds people a little of Seattle if that will help, not sure.
I took this photo from a hot air ballon eleven years ago, it is early in the morning, with the sun just rising.  We were coming over the city from the east, down below is the Yarra river and the tennis stadium in the middle of the photo with the some of the city buildings beyond.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Shy little boy

Noah waiting patiently for his Dinosaur birthday cake
I am already missing my eldest son and his boys, although I am tired and have loads of  washing to do and floors to clean I miss them.  Noah is so shy when I see him, it usually takes a few days for him to respond to me and by that time, it is almost time for them to pack and go home.  I know it is because I only see him a few times during the year and he is still young, and this will change as he grows.    Isaac is almost six years old and I always receive  huge cuddles from him, he is more outgoing than his little brother, although I can remember when he was little it would take a few hours for him to warm to me before I was able to speak to him and give him a cuddle.    I'm  looking forward to the next visit, I have a flight booked for April next year, but I think they will be down here to visit before then.    Here are a couple of photos of  Noah and his dinosaur birthday cake that his daddy made for him.   Sorry for the photo quality, I forgot the flash.

Family photo,   Isaac helping Noah to cut the cake

Gluten Free Orange cake

The house is very quiet, so quiet that I have turned on the radio for back ground noise.  My eldest son and his family left this afternoon for their trip home.  This week has passed by so quickly, so much has happened and has been celebrated.   The son who does everything received the keys to his new house and has been able to show the family where he will be living, the new carpet has been put down and they are now ready to move the furniture in.   Last Friday would have been my late husbands birthday, my eldest son suggested we all go out for lunch and celebrate this, and have a nice day together.  We chose the old blue stone homestead "Eynnesbury" which has been converted into a restaurant, the old farmland that surrounds the house now has a golf course and a housing estate.  It is a lovely place, we enjoyed a relaxed lunch and the children had a run around on the lawn under the trees while we had coffee.   My eldest son Darren had invited family over to celebrate Noahs 2nd birthday on Sunday, all the food was organised except the gluten free food for my sister and neice.

My friend Jenni gave me a recipe for an Orange and Almond gluten free cake which she often bakes for her family.  Not sure how this would taste I was nervous serving it, but as you will see by the photo I need not have had any worries, so I can recommend this if you need a moist and also delicious cake for a celebration cake.

Orange, Almond Gluten Free Cake:

2 large Navel Oranges
6 eggs
250gm Almond meal
250gm castor sugar
1tsp baking powder
Cook the whole oranges in water, making sure they are covered for 11/2 - 2 hours until they are soft.  Cool, and then place in food processor and blitz until soft and pulpy.
Preheat Oven to 170 celcius
Butter a 22cm pan, line base and sides with baking paper and dust with almond meal.   Whisk almond meal, baking powder, and castor sugar until well combined.   Beat eggs on high for 6 minutes until light and fluffy.  Scrape the orange puree and almond mix into the eggs, fold together.  Bake for 1 hour, brush with apricot glaze or dust with icing sugar.  I dusted with the icing sugar and then decorated with strawberries.  Thankyou Jenni

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Embroidery for a new bag

A few weeks ago I bought a pattern for a bag, I thought it was about time I had a new one, the bag I currently use to carry all my quilting things in would be about fifteen years old.  The pattern I chose is one by Gail Pan called "Friendship Daisies"  if you know me you know I love daisies, and so, when I saw this pattern  I knew it would be mine.
I have made a start on the embroidery, it is all in a navy blue, a bit unusual but I really like it.  It is a simple pattern, backstich with some french knots, this won't take very long to finish but,  I won't be doing much sewing for the rest of the week,  because my eldest son and his family will be arriving from interstate this evening.   I have been busy this afternoon putting my sewing machine and everything else away.   My youngest grandson will be turning two this weekend, I am not sure where that time has gone, I'm think as we grow older that the time speeds up.  My son has  invited the family over for a birthday celebration on Sunday, it will be so good to see everyone together.    Oh, the big news for this week,  the son who does everything and his wife will be picking up the keys to their new house, it is going to be an exciting week for all of us. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Some little tarts

I rolled out the pastry I had over from the fruit roll and had enough to make two dozen little jam tarts, or so I thought. ( the recipe for the pastry is on my previous blog)  I don't know why, but, every time I make these I always put too much jam in them and they overflow the tart cases and make a complete mess of the pan.    I only have one small tart pan so after washing this and then realising I would not have enough jam to make another dozen,  I took the eggs from the fridge and with some red onion, sun-dried tomatoe and grated cheese I made a dozen little savoury egg tarts as well.  These have been cooled and stored in the freezer.  I do have to admit to having a taste test of the apple and fruit roll and one of the jam tarts with a cup of coffee this afternoon, very yummy.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Left over apples

This morning I noticed I had four apples left  in the fruit bowl, tomorrow will be my shopping day and because I'll be buying fresh fruit for the coming week, I knew I would have to do something with these.  I  decided the easiest thing to do was  to cook them with a little sugar and I would store them in the fridge, but, you know how it is, once you start to think about it all sorts of things come to mind.    As I was cutting the apples  I realised I still had plenty of butter,  I had some dried apricots and
some dried sultanas.   If I made a pastry I could make a pie, then again what about a fruit roll.  With the decision made I found my pastry recipe, added the dried apricots and sultanas to the cooking apple, once they were cooked I set aside to cool and worked on the pastry.  While this was cooking in the oven, I had enough pastry over to make some jam tarts, these will be good for the grandsons tomorrow after school.

Fruit Roll:
 Peel, core and slice four apples, I used a mix of granny smith and pink lady, add a few chopped dried apricots and a small handful of sultanas, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a little water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the apples are soft.  Cool. (I don't like very sweet, so if you like, add more sugar)

Pastry:                      200g plain flour
                                200g butter
                                80-90mls of ice cold water
                                Place the flour and butter in the food processor and pulse until it looks like large breadcrumbs, slowly add the water, depending on the flour you may need more or less, until it comes together.  Roll out into a rectangle and then place into the fridge for 30 minutes.  Add the filling along the long side of the rectangle, brush the edges with some egg wash and carefully roll away from you while tucking the sides in. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with caster sugar and sprinkle a little cinnamon over. Bake in a hot oven 200 celcius for about 25-30 minutes.  Serve with custard or fresh cream,  Enjoy

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A patchwork adventure on a bus

Saturday was the planned and very much anticipated bus excursion for my Quilting group "The Willows"  we would be travelling to the other side of our city,  to explore and shop at five of the patchwork shops,  that are normally  too far away for us shop with.   It was an early start to the day for us, we were to meet the bus at 7-30am, it was to leave at 7-45am on the dot.   Well, the bus was not there when we all arrived, we waited and we waited,  it seems the bus driver had been given instructions to be at our meet place at 8-30am.  With everyone on board,  our organiser for the day handed us a small bag of goodies, inside was a small pack of biscuits with cream cheese, small pack of crisps, a piece of fruit cake, a roll of fabric and a  raffle ticket.    This was going to be a good day.    First shop on our trip was "Catarina's Country"  where I found some beautiful Northcott fabric by Ro Gregg called  bed of roses, this fabric was part of the quest for a cure, I was dissapointed to find there was only a metre left on the roll but purchased that anyway.    The second shop was "Patchwork with Gail B" in Bayswater,   this shop was tucked away in the back of Gails fathers tile shop and was a surprise, if I had gone on my own I don't think I would have  found this shop.     Our next stop would be for lunch, this is the shop I was most excited to see, "Patchwork Teahouse" in Warburton, it is situated in one of the prettiest areas of our state, lots of tree ferns and gum trees surround the shop and we could hear so many birds.   Being so close to the snowfields they usually have snow in the winter, this would be very picturesque.  We had pre-ordered our lunch and it was almost ready when we arrived, my lunch was homemade pastie with a side salad, my friend had quiche and salad, we both agreed it was delicious and very filling.   I was amazed with this shop, there was so much to look at, their displays of  fabrics and small gifts was wonderful.    I bought a range of Lynette Anderson fabrics from here and could have spent more if I had not decided on a budget.  Next stop was "Stitch N Patch" this was a small shop and was very crowded, not much room for the forty of us to move around the store.  I did purchase the remaining two pieces of Robyn Pandolph fabrics I needed, but left the store without really have a good look.   The last shop was a tiny shop, no more than a shed really which was situated in the back of private premises "A little bit of country"  I had a look around but did not purchase anything.    We all climbed back on the bus for the long journey home.  Oh, the raffle tickets we were given, four prizes were available, but I was not one of the lucky ones.  We arrived home to our little town at 6-45pm very tired but happy we had spent a wonderful day with friends, seen some amazing shops, spent our money and I cannot wait till next year for our next shopping adventure where ever that will be.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Aphids on my roses

This spring I have been amazed at the size of the aphids invading my roses, Some of them are almost the size of elephants, ha ha not really, but they are the largest I have seen.   I have tried all the home remedies and to no avail, I have tried to squash them in my fingers, just had a green mess on my fingers,  I haven't been able to eradicate them.     I was hoping the severe winds we have had over the past week would have sent them on their way,  no, they are back in full force this morning.   This morning I have attacked them with white oil in an attempt to get them under control.   This infestation of aphids is not only here, I also noticed my in-laws roses were infested as well and they are interstate.  I am hoping this spray will be the last time I have to attack them.   Fingers crossed.