Friday, March 30, 2012

Glasshouse Mountains

Mt Beerwah

Last weekend, we took the boys on a small bush walking adventure to the Glasshouse Mountains. There are 12 mountains that are actually the cooled plugs of ancient volcanoes. Erosion has taken away the outside of the volcano over millions of years, leaving the solid magma behind, which explains their distinctive shapes. (I cannot say the word 'magma'  without - in my head- using Dr Evil's accent. Just me? Hands up)

Someone once told me that they are called The Glasshouse mountains because of the amazing fauna that grows there, it's just like being in a glass house. This isn't true! Captain Cook named them because the shapes reminded him of the glass furnaces of his native Yorkshire. There is some pretty awesome flora and fauna though, and there are several rare and endangered plants that are only found in this area.

You can read the Aboriginal legends about the Glasshouse Mountains here.

Mt Coonowrin
Our bush walk turned out to be a lot shorter than we expected, as recent rains had made a lot of tracks unsafe. We went along the boundary walk of Mt Beerwah, which was a wet, but interesting few hours. It's so, I don't know.....relaxing? refreshing? soul replenishing? to be surrounded by untouched bushland. The calm, still, lush greenery both soothes and ignites at the same time. I tried to soak up that feeling, and hold a piece of it within me.

But I lost it somehow on the trip home.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

7 Quick Chaos Notes

This is the rug I bought recently for the lounge room. Boring? Yes. Easy to clean, goes with everything, a joy to sit on, inoffensive to the eye? Why, yes! We love it. I do not love that stool, or it's twin, but they are necessary to our life at this point in time. What colour do you suggest that I paint them? Or do you have a different suggestion? Please, don't hold back.

Despite being separated at birth, the kettle and the espresso maker are still not sure of each other..The coffee pot seems a bit aloof, doesn't he? Lucky he makes a great coffee.

Roast Chickpeas.

1 - toss chickpeas with some olive oil and sea salt.
2 - roast for an hour until dark. These could have been darker.

Verdict: Delicious, low carb snacking. 

Santa bought Mr BC a home brew kit, and although it makes a great beer, the most popular brew so far is non alcoholic ginger beer. I'd love to try some different soft drinks containing elder flower, or blueberries, or other stuff that grows in my garden. If anyone has any recipes or experience with this, please let me know!

Yesterday was my birthday, and my wish came true when the family gave me this beautiful lamp made of Himalayan Rock Salt. No, really, I have wanted one for ages. I love them because they are beautiful but they also produce negative irons that clean the air of all sorts of nastys, which is handy if you live on a busy road (check) or suffer from allergies (annnnnd, check).

Mr BC created this culinary masterpiece of chocolate mud cake with a peppermint fondant filling & a topping of gooey choc icing and assorted berries. He belongs on Master Chef.

Today at the hardware store I was lucky enough to be standing next to a large rack of plants at the exact moment they where marked down to 21 cents each. Yes, they are a bit sad, but at that price I can coax them back from death!

What have you been up to this week?


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheeky thing!

I like to cook to the seasons, but who knows what Mother nature is doing with the weather lately. It was scorchy hot summer at the start of the week and yesterday felt like winter. We are in Autumn, yes? Apparently....

Anyhoo - lets get the slow cooker out, I'm cooking Beef Cheeks. Yes, you read that right. You can find them at Woolworth's near the pet food section, but don't let that put you off. I think it is respectful to make use of the whole animal, rather than just eat the good bits and throw the rest away. And they are yummy. And they are very inexpensive. And they are trendy. 4 points! Booyah!

Assemble your ingredients - celery, onion, carrots, red wine, olive oil, crushed tomatoes & herbs. I love this wine, it is super cheap at less that $3 per bottle and is great for quaffing at the park. The herbs I use are garlic, as well as fresh thyme, rosemary and bay leaves from my garden.

The star of the show - beef cheeks. I was lucky to get them on sale for $1.50 each, that's a saving of 50%! Told you they where cheap..use at least 1 cheek per person. Everyone will want seconds and you won't be unhappy to have leftovers anyway. It freezes pretty well.

Chop the carrots, onions and celery and saute in a little olive oil until the onion is cooked and lightly caramelised, then put them into the slow cooker with the herbs. I think the best way to get flavour out of your slow cooker is to use your fry pan, it's the caramelisation that gives richness of taste.

 I've read a lot of recipes that say to remove the thin membrane from the beef cheeks, but in my experience it is a difficult job that makes no difference, so I don't bother. These cheeks are extremely tough, which is why they are so good in a slow cooker - all those tendons cook down into a gelatiny richness. Nomm...

Sprinkle the cheeks with flour then flash fry to brown the outside, we are only going for flavour. Add them to the slow cooker with the crushed garlic, a tin of crushed tomatoes and about a cup of wine. Use the wine to deglaze the pan first, so you don't lose any of that awesome flavour. Now put the lid on your slow cooker, turn it to slow, and get on with your life for 6 hours.

Sometime the sauce might seem thin, just sprinkle in a spoon of flour and stir to combine, before serving with mashed potatoes and green veggies of your own choice. The meat should be so soft that you can cut it with a spoon.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's like Sizzlers at home but better

Sometimes I like to put different things on the dining table, to cater for everyones different tastes. I try and stick to a theme - Asian, Mexican, Italian, whatever I feel like cooking, etc. I've been playing around with this idea for ages, and recently I finally had the time and the need to meditatively chop chop chop for a while. This is what was put on the table for Construct Your Own Salad Night;
  • crispy Iceberg lettuce
  • sliced tomatoes
  • chopped cucumbers
  • cubed feta cheese
  • grated Cheddar
  • Kalamata olives
  • diced, roasted pumpkin
  • bean salad - bean mix, shallots, garlic, tiny bit of olive oil
  • warm pan fried bacon
  • warm slices of chicken schnitzel
  • shaved mild salami
  • thin slices of red capsicum
  • sliced button mushrooms
  • a perfectly ripe sliced avocado
  • crispy Chang noodles, just for a laugh
  • a nice loaf of organic sour dough bread, with butter
  • a small selection of salad dressings.
It was a great way to get the boys to try new things - Monkey Boy loved the capsicum and The Gentleman was surprised at how much he liked the bean salad. It was also nice that everyone could design (and redesign) their own salad from say..Chicken Caesar to Greek to Italian..whatever you liked. BLT salad anyone? Why not.

I also made a delicious Croatian Berry Pie, from Feast magazine, but everyone was too full to eat it!

Some people ate it for breakfast the next morning.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Pause for a moment

It's late at night, and the TV is playing quietly while the rest of the house sleeps. The rain has finally stopped and the neighbours new rice paddy is full of loud frogs. The tree at the front of our house has been cut down today, exposing our little house a little more; the traffic isn't as loud as I thought it was going to be.

Mr BC is not asleep, he naps at all hours and then works to different time zones. It started years ago and was hard to adjust to, now it is a hard habit to break. It's OK, it works. It's why he can work from home, it's why his time can be flexible. It's good. Rather than spend hours in traffic he can spend time with his family and put more into his work, talking with people all over the world. We are lucky.

Today, The Gentleman beamed with pride while his teacher gave him a glowing report. He is very persistent, he always tries his best, he never gives up. His reading is improving in leaps and bounds. He is great at math. He is well mannered, and beautifully behaved. Earlier, he had spent the afternoon playing star wars Lego with a mate. He showers tonight at the speed of light so as to not miss the start of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Then we read a book on policemen and he goes to sleep.

Monkey Boy burst out of daycare his usual exuberant self, having had a great day. His arms open wide to wrap around my neck as he leaps into my arms for his giant hello cuddle. Today he has developed hives (who knows what the allergen is, it's Ranga skin) but it hasn't slowed him down. At all. He eats a huge dinner then has a long, loud bath before doing a nudie run around the lounge room. He's had a dose of antihistamines and is sleeping soundly.

Teenage Daughter and I went shopping today - we had some good coffee at Cibos and slunk around T2 drinking up the samples, sniffing the different blends and marvelling at the ingredients. We did a little more grieving over the closure of Borders. She bought a cool tote while I bought a new stove top espresso maker, a water jug, and a large pack of groovy tea towels. Teenage daughter likes to tease me about my love of brightly coloured tea towels. We layed hands on everything in the Oxfam shop.

Yesterday I spent ages at my sewing machine, mending things and refashioning some things - a new neckline for a favourite shirt and a dress that has sat in my wardrobe for ever. I bought a new rug for the lounge room which I love. The boys love sitting on it, Mr BC calls them a couple of Ali Barbars, on their magic carpet. I also bought some curtains that will be hung this weekend, after we vote. Saturday night we are having a family adventure, going to Roller Derby; Sunday we are going on a bush walk if the rain stays away.

Right now I feel lucky, and loved. I love my home and my family.

It's a moment to savour.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mr BC Catchs Crabs

Mr BC has started fishing in the last few years, & he loves it. Sometimes he brings home a fish or two, and yesterday he bought home a mud crab! It was in a crab pot that had lost it's ID tag, & had blown from it's moorings, probably in the recent storms. This happens alot to crab pots.

Mr BC noticed it had a crab in it, so he bought the whole shebang home.
Gosh those monkeys where excited!

The Mud Crab really didn't want to get out of that crab pot, but if it had of stayed there it would have slowly starved to death.

Once it was out it was determined to get at Mr BCs fingers with it's claws.
Those claws can easily remove fingers, so Mr BC was being careful..

En Guarde!

Time to give the Monkeys a quick science lesson.. which point we discovered the Mud Crab was a Genny, or female. As huge and delicious as this crab looked, it had to go back. It's illegal to even have one in your possession.

Picture from here.
 This photo shows the difference between males and females, the female is at the bottom.

Back to where she was found. Good bye, Genny.
Go and make some boy babys we can keep!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Good, the Bad, the OMG.

Very Good.
Spotted on the school run: this gorgeous Mum styling it up in her Mix Apparel!

Umm, not so good?
Look Darling, that Mummy is a pole dancer!

Don't let those two apples fool you.
Monkeyboy, please tell us what your favourite colour is?

My favourite colour is BACON!



Monday, March 19, 2012

Kumera Burger

On the advice of Mama's Thyme, I cooked Kumera Burgers the other night for dinner. Yum!

Mama calls them The Veggie Burger that Will Change Your Life, and she might be right. I don't know if it is the same as winning the lottery, or finding out you really are an adopted princess, but it's pretty close.

Original recipe from here, via pinterest. I used this as inspiration, and adjusted the recipe to what I had in the kitchen. Basically, just mash some roast sweet potato/kumera with some tinned legumes (I used a bean mix, actually), salt and pepper, tahini, a bit of flour & some thyme. Put it in the fridge for a little while to firm up, then form into Patty's, coat in bread crumbs & pan fry.

I topped them with some home made salsa, avocado & sour cream. They where delicious!

I was surprised that there was no egg in this recipe, and then realised it was a vegan recipe, so that's why. The pattys where pretty soft but it wasn't a disaster, we didn't need spoons. If there where any left over they would have made great sandwiches the next day!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Say Hello Workshop

This time last week, I was excitedly looking forward to the first ever Say Hello Workshop, an event hosted by the team at Say Hello Blogger Events. I was going to learn all sorts of fabulous blogging ideas, have some questions answered, catch up with friends new & old, and have an all round amazing time.

I feel really lucky that Hello Blogger holds these things in Brisbane, because my budget & time constraints mean I generally miss out on all the fun that goes on in Melbourne & Sydney. I'm not bitter! I'm lucky!

I left early to get to super trendy Tennerife - a beautiful historic suburb on the Brisbane River close to the city. I was lucky enough to get probably one of the few free off street parks within walking distance of the tres chic London Club, where the workshop was being held. As I got out of my car I noticed another lady parking behind me. "Excuse me, do you know if this is a free parking zone? I cannot see any signs.." I asked her. "Are you going to the blogging workshop?" she replied. It was Anke, from Knights at my Kitchen Table and Herbology ! How lovely to meet one of my favourite bloggers before the day even started! (neither of us got a ticket). See? Lucky.

If you quickly glance at the itinerary above you will see it was a jam packed day, so I made sure to get there early - even so I was one of the last to arrive. I've gotta tell you, don't be late in Brisbane, no one ever is. It might be acceptable (even expected) in Sydney, but not here.

After registration & a quick coffee, we took our seats and Danielle welcomed us to the workshop, with a quick run down of what to expect.

The London Club was a good choice for the workshop, it had free wifi (yay!) it was intimate without being cramped, & it is very stylish. At times it got a bit noisy with the kitchen sounds, but we all coped pretty well.

First speaker was Melissa from Suger Coat It, who talked us through blogging basics & finding your niche. I've been blogging for almost 2 years but I'm still a total noob, and Suger had some valid & interesting information. She spoke about her own blogging journey and the lessons she had learned about blog design, tracking your stats, monetising your blog, and had some great information about identifying and settling into your niche. The thing that really resonated with me was this phrase Make Yourself Proud. Words to live by, Dude.

The next speaker was Kelley from Be a Fun Mum, who spoke passionately about Creating Content & Building Audience. Kelley spoke about the concept of Wells - as in a well will attract more cattle than a fence. You are a well, so keep yourself replenished, so that you can attract readers. I like analogies like this because I am a visual person, it makes perfect sense to me that I am a well! It's all about believing in yourself, investing in yourself, & finding your voice so that you can give value to your readers. Don't let your well dry out!

Sharing this segment but focusing on Social Media was Jacqui from CRAP Mamma. Jacqui is a delight to chat with any day so it was great to hear her take on finding balance within social media and family life. Treat each social media channel as it's own identity is clever advice, but the main thing I re-learnt here was to categorise my time, prioritise, and set a task and stick with it. This was drummed into me years ago but I've been juggling so much lately trying to accommodate everyone and everything I've fallen into the habit of spinning my wheels and going nowhere. Do you do that to? Please, it's not just me, surely?

Next up was a double act of Zoe from Little Harp Photography and A Boys Mumma, and Danielle from Five Little Reasons. They had some great information on taking better photos (backgrounds, perspective, laying down on the grass, standing on tables, different focus elements, setting the scene, telling a story, online tools) but the most important bit of information I learnt? "It doesn't matter what equipment you've got, LEARN HOW TO USE IT PROPERLY'. Light bulb moment, people.

After question time it was time for lunch and mingling! Lots of delicious tapas style nibbles floated around the room while we all got a chance to catch up.

Hello Sheri!

There where some fun props to use and have your photo taken. I've noticed that Bloggers are not shy when it comes to getting in front of the camera..well, some more than others.

After lunch, we quickly ran back to our seats so that the Zoe and Danielle Photography team could impart some more wisdom about editing.

Then Maddie from Lil Magoolie sent us all into an orbit of graphic artist envy with her ah-mazing design skills. Lots of oohs and ahhs, you should go over and check out her beautiful blog. She was actually talking about Design, branding, Getting Sponsors and Working with Brands, and she really spoke intelligently about remaining professional while maintaining your own voice, and the importance of quality readership.

The next speaker was Sass, from Life of the Bees, I cannot believe I didn't get a photo of her! Obviously I had learnt nothing! Sass's blog had moved me to tears many times with her journey of being a foster parent, and it was lovely to finally meet her. She spoke about Blog Design which was super important for me - I might be a visual person but I don't always have the technological chops to back it up. She went through different platforms & designs, & shared some brilliant sounding websites to go to for help. I'll be mentioning her name!

Danielle, our esteemed hostess & blogger at Hello Owl, then spoke about Blogging Trends, and took us on a tour of some luminaries in the blogosphere. Kind of like a celebrity tour bus, but we where in a pub..The main thing that stood out with the most successful blogs is that they all have a complete package - they all offer a well rounded experience of social media, great blog design, they know their niche and they engage their audience. I loved it. It's good to have role models. Dan didn't take up much time because the next speaker needed lots of time..

I've been a fan of Veggie Mama's for a while and it was awesome to finally meet her, not that we got that much of a chat...Stacey spoke about the legal side of blogging, and as she is both a professional journalist and a University lecturer on just this subject she would be the one to know. Everyone was spellbound. Everyone hung on her every word. Everyone was scared shitless. A few of the things I learnt from Stacey;
  • Copyright is instant and automatic, you don't need to mention it.
  • Proper attribution is not just saying 'Pinterest'. Find the owner of the photo.
  • Defamation - we do not actually have free speech in Australia, we have implied right.
  • Defamation can be many things. It can be a facial expression (I'm screwed!)
  • It is not illegal to take a photo of someone in a public space. We do not own our own image.
  • Recipes cannot be copyrighted, only the instructions can.
Yikes! Needless to say, at question time, the floor erupted.
After Stacey had calmed us all down with the voice of reason, and everyone had asked lots of questions about meta tags and SEOs, it was time to go. Sad face. To be honest I don't think I could have jammed any more information in my head..

We all received a present for coming, beautifully wrapped & garnished with handmade brooches from the talented and super nice Gillian at Tessie Girl.

They where almost too pretty to open but when we did - surprise!

A gorgeous diary from Mi Goals, some clever little nail files for your purse from Virtu and TS, and a Lotta magazine! Feeling Lucky...

Melissa and Danielle then went on the draw the winners of the lucky door prizes. Lots of talented people/ gorgeous brands had donated something to be won, and you had to put your business card in a large vase to be in the running. I don't have business cards, so I had cheekily created one by tearing the corner off my notebook.

One of the offerings on the Door Prize table. This is a gift bag sewn from an Enid Blyton book, and I think it contained a handmade clutch and a hair accessory. I'm not sure, I couldn't stop marvelling at the awesome that was a bag made from an Enid Blyton Book.  The whole thing was made by Trudie at Vintage Vow and Journey to Bloss, who is a clever clogs. Earlier in the day I had had a chat/brainstorming session with Trudie about business cards and alternatives with some very interesting ideas thrown about (stay tuned..).

Anyway! Later in the day, when my brain was fried, the first winner of the lucky door prize was drawn and announced - to be ME! I was too busy chatting to Zoe, who had to say "Ummmm, I think you've won a prize" What a der head! I was so vagued out I didn't even listen to what the prizes where, so I chose at random.

And this is what I chose; a $100 gift voucher from TS clothing, which came with a tote bag, a makeup brush kit, and a laundry bag. See how lucky I am!?

And that's about it! It was an amazing day, I learnt a lot, I had heaps of fun. Thanks for reading this epic blog post...Oh wait! Almost forgot!

It wouldn't be a Hello Bloggers Event without a boob grab would it?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Haunted Clocks

We have these 3 old clocks, passed down from Mr BCs ancestors. They are beautiful, but we don't use them as we would never remember to wind them up, we are so used to this digital age.

My Mother in law looked after them carefully, having them restored along the way, before bequeathing them to us. I plan on passing them on, one to each child.

This one belonged to Mr BC's great grandparents, it is the oldest & most valuable. It has already been claimed by teenage daughter. It lives in her room peacefully & quietly. (Just like teenage daughter)

This one belonged to Mr BC's beloved Poppa, or rather, it was a wedding present to Nanna & Poppa. (Mr BC carries a photo in his wallet of of him, aged about 6, with his Poppa, both smiling ear to ear in conspiracy. Thick as thieves.) This clock sits on the fridge by the back door. It isn't wound up, it never tick tocks, but occasionally it will chime loudly for no apparent reason. I do believe in spirits & I often think that Poppa's spirit is still around, watching over his dearest (& only) grandson. The clock seems to chime when one of the kids are having a tantrum or there is a loud argument going on - everyone stops what they where doing & stares wide eyed at the clock, & each other. Works a treat. Thanks, Poppa!

This clock belonged to Mr BC's great grandparents on his mothers side, it was a wedding present to them also. I cannot remember winding this clock in the past 3 years, but in the last 2 weeks it has been tick tocking away, keeping time & rewinding itself, which I didn't think it was able to doesn't chime but tick tocks loudly through our little wooden house. I've caught both Mr BC & Teenage daughter standing in front of the clock, watching it suspiciously.

Freaky deaky.

Do you have any heirloom type items in your house? Do you think they are haunted?
Do tell.

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