Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Special Birthday

This weekend I'm in Brisbane to help celebrate my sisters 40th birthday. She wanted a flower theme because she believes flowers are Gods way of saying 'I Love you'. So it was an early start with a trip to the flower markets for real flowers, then the day spent decorating the garage with flower helium balloons and then sticking home made foam and fabric cut out flowers on the walls. I love the simplicity of the decorations and they made the evening colourful and happy.

The other neat thing about her party was that she asked for no gifts but that we should all buy our outfits at a charity store. It was heaps of fun with some people coming in themed outfits (like 70's or 80's) and others dressing to the nines in wonderfully fancy pre loved outfits. Others even went to the trouble of accessorising... I won the best accessorised outfit with an honouring comment for purchasing the items at different charity stores. The funny thing about the evening was that no one was ashamed to have their price tag hanging out - proud to boast a dress value of $7 or necklace value of $1.... Great Idea and Heaps of fun.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Week Before...

Taking inspiration from Karen at Bookbath's 'The Week that Was' - where she posts photo's from the previous week... here are some photo's of my previous weeks journeys to Brisbane and Melbourne....

Sofitel Brisbane

Melbourne - South Bank

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dinner Party

After spending the last few weeks away from home for various different work functions and training, I was home this weekend - yeh! And I spent most of Saturday cleaning the house, and preparing a Lebanese Feast for my partners Birthday celebrations with friends. I enjoy the challenge of finding a theme and creating things I've not done before. I have to say this was a simple challenge - the Lebanese use a yummy mix of lemons, garlics and soft spices like Cinnamon and's simple to prepare, and there's plenty of opportunity to be a bit creative. I also simply enjoyed going to the garden to collect the salad ingredients.

The meal was delicious!!

  1. Flat bread and home made Hommous
  2. Fattoush Salad
  3. Spiced Rice
  4. Marinated Chicken skewers
  5. Hazelnut Date Loaf

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest we forget

It's the 11th day of the 11th month, and this year is also the 11th year of the millennium - 11/11/11. In Australia, we Remember them on the 11th hour.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place, and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.

we are the dead. short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie,
in Flanders Fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders Fields.

John McCrae

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday Fillins

1. In November, I most look forward to roses blooming, parrots in the garden, and eating strawberries from the the bush.

Today the sun is shinning...phew!

3. It's right there,
in the window....... (the one with the wagging tail)
Today. I wish you all peace of mind.

5. Water,
taken in moderation, can not hurt anyone (Mark Twain)

6. Take one, but don't tell your what my grandmother used to say!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to
resting well, tomorrow my plans include going for a bike ride, eating strawberries from the bush, and Sunday, I want to go to the beach!

To see more Friday Fillins click here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Visiting the Gong

I've had a strange couple of weeks, travelling with work and busy with my voluntary roles, and living without the modern technology of TV's, stereos and portable telephones. I had the computer replaced by insurance and the other electricals are on their way. So things are becoming normal again (what ever that means as we lead up to Christmas!)

Anyway - this weekend I've been in 'The Gong' (Wollongong) for some training, and I took these photo's this morning on my phone while I was out walking. Thought I'd share this beautiful coastline with you too. It was a lovely way to spend the morning, and to allow the rolling waves to take away the cares of the world, so I could just sit with the creator and be in awe!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Off line for a week or two

I want to apologise for my recent absence. Our house was recently hit by an electrical serge and many of our communication devices were damaged. Just waiting for WiFi to get up again. Until then I can only post when I'm out at a WiFI Hot Spot. More Soon.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Monsoon Wedding

In 2007 and 2009 I travelled to India with my friend Chris to volunteer as an english teacher at this girls school and hostel in Tamil Nadu. (The school is managed by ODAM and receives part government funding for students up to 8th standard). We fell in love with these beautiful girls and made a commitment to continue to support the school as we could. Since 2007 Chris and I have hostel an annual fund raising event, either an Indian dinner or Indian Movies to raise enough money to fund the girls school uniforms and other necessary school items.

Next week Chris is off to school again, this time without me and with a new recruit. It's both sad and exciting for me to help them in their preparations. I'm really excited that Chris is able to go again and Lin wants to go also. I'm sad that I wont be there with them.

So this week we held our annual event, and so far we've raised the same amount of money we did last year. This year our money will be going to fund the purchase of bunks and mattresses for the older girls who have for the past 5 years been sleeping on the floor.

We had 75 people come to see Monsoon Wedding in a local art house theatre where we could start the evening with Indian nibbles, make a small presentation about our school and draw our raffle before the movie started.

Monsoon Wedding was a fantastic movie, with all the colour of Indian Weddings, and three (maybe more) love stories being threaded together. The arranged marriage of a fathers only daughter brings him untold amount of stress, however his love for his daughter and her orhpaned cousin is just beautifully portrayed. The Bride coming to terms with changes in her life realises her soon to be husband is the right man for her. And the wedding decorator discovers his own love for the family's servant as the chaos of the wedding unfolds.

You too can donate to ODAM here.....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lemon Tart

My partner doesn't like lemons. In fact every year he threatens to remove the lemon tree. However the lemon tree persists, and produces the most delicious lemons. Usually I just cut up the lemons and freeze them for cooking with later, or for adding to a jug of iced water on a hot summers day. But I do like to cook with them also.

This past weekend I tried a new combination of recipes to make this Gluten Free Lemon Tart.

For the crust, I followed a recipe by Jules that had very few ingredients and an easy to follow pdf guide and youtube. Normally pie crusts scare me, and trying to find a gluten free option is even harder. But this one seemed relatively easy to make, and while I haven't cut it yet, it looks like it's worked out well. I would say though, that I think I used too much butter, and next time I will use the scales..

For the Lemon filling, I referred to my all favourite cookbook by Stephanie Alexander, the Cooks Companion. (just found it online here, but I prefer to cook from the gorgeous book itself). Now I have tried the filling and it's to die for..... cant stop with one taste test!!

Nice served with cold cream.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

1. Why do I love spring mornings?
2. I hope it's here to stay.
3. By far the most important ingredient in citrus tart is lemon!
4. One of my best friends is American. I do miss her alot!
5. But when I think of her I smile.
6. I have had a craving for lazy Sunday afternoons with champagne and prawns for the longest time.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my man cooking dinner, tomorrow my plans include lunch with a dear and special friend, and Sunday, I want to cook this citrus tart.

For more Friday Fill-ins...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Recent Reads

An Englishman in Paris was an easy read for me while I was travelling in France. It's funny - largely because I can see myself in it, and it also provokes some self examination. He pokes fun of the french to some extent, however he dmonstrates how it all begins to make sense - the way the french see things, the way they do things - kind of becomes 'normal'. As a foriegner in France recently, I enjoyed Sadlers stories as I tooo experienced them, and I noted just how much it become 'normal' after onyl 7 weeks in France.

This is the story of one mans journey of discovery as he spends a year in educate himself in the mysterious ways of the continent...Abraisive and tender, naive and in the know, An Englishman in Paris is a sharp, hilarious and afectionate loook at our [UK's] nearest neighbours and the nature of foreignness.

I particularly enjoyed his retelling of the story of how he became accepted by the local blokes at the local cafe. The bar at the cafe made out of metal becomes known as 'la zinc' becomes the centre of his afterhours discoveries. In chapter six, Sadler reflects 'most evenings round about a quartier to eight a group of local commercants - butcher, fishmonger, wine merchant - meet at the bar for an aperitif. I envied their particular French kind of comaraderie. They'd kiss each other several times, tweek cheeks, pummel shoulders, and thimp backs as if they were trying to dilodge a trout fishbone. I'd love to be bruised by mes copains.... Well, there comes a time when the local blokes accept l'etranger. Later in the book he retells 'the club looked at each other and nodded in agreement. I had passed the test........ and they winked at me'.

I think many foreigners long to be accepted by the French, and Sadlers story captures the fragility of that possibility. One needs time, committment and passion to persue the friendship of the French. All of which I too have found true and I believe I have (on occassions) passed that test.

My first book for this years Japanese Literature Challenge - Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of the World. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed Mrakami's work, although I think this work (one of his earlier ones) was quite different to many others I have also enjoyed. I've previously blogged about how I have enjoyed the surealism and fantasy of Murakami novels. While I think those elements were present in this one, I dont think they were quite as bizzare.

The book cover reads 'Science fiction, detective story and post modern anifesto all rolled into one rip roaring novel.... tracking one mans descent into the kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and frace, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy. The result is a wildly inventive fantasy and a meditation on the many uses of the mind.

I just dont think it was as full of those contrasts as the cover suggests. It was easy to read once you had the pictures in mind, and it was interesting enough to want to know what all this has to do with each other. But it wasn't as 'out of this world' as some of his other novels.

Still, enjoyable and creative, allowing an escapism one sometime needs in a novel, and infused with the Japanese character.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Menus en France

it's not a menu, but a painting hanging in my cousins kitchen.
I just liked it. It expresses alot about who she is and what she believes
about being in the kitchen. Her motto is 'watch out for exploding soup!'

These are a few menu's from France
The Cafe in the Jardins du Luxembourg

Desert Menu from Chalone-sur-Saone

Sorry It's difficult to read, but it's one of cheapest and elegant places
we found to eat near Montparnese.

This weekend we're hosting a french dinner, so
watch out for more french food photos

Monday, August 29, 2011

Japanese Literature Challenge 2011

It's that time of year - actually I'm a little late - but Dolce Bellezza is hosting the 5th annual Japanese Literature Challenge and I'm signing up.... I love this challenge... it's introduced me to authors and genre's I would not have normally tried.

So my intentions this year include:
  • read more Haruki Murakami
  • read more Banana Yoshimoto
  • read another Japanese Author
  • read another Japanese History
You can see my previous years attempts on my 'challenges' page, where you'll note I'm not a prolific reader, but I have to say I ALWAYS enjoy my Japanese Literature reads.

I recently finished Murakami's "Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of the World", which I will post on soon. If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear from you - even if you have something that doesn't fit with my 'intentions' list....

Until later.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Paris in July - Final Post

Well, it may be the end of July, and the official end of our Paris in July journey, but it doesnt have to end there. We've had a great time with all our passionate Parisiene bloggers, reviewing books, photos, songs, movies, foods, markets, quotes, poems, biographies.... the experiences have been wide and varied. In visiting all the participants blogs, we've all recieved some great new idea's for future reading, listening, eating and viewing. Why wait for next July? I personnally would love to see some of Paris in July continue throughout the year.

For me, I still have three more weeks here in Europe, mostly in France, and that should include another visit or two to Paris. I will, without a doubt, post more aboout the things I'm discovering in France - see keep your eyes open...

I have two other posts planned already - for July I read 'An Englishman in Paris' - review to come, and I want to post also about some exhibitions I've seen here in Montpellier....

Again, I'd like to join Karen at Bookbath, and say Thankyou so much for joining us in this journey - we've been overwhelmed and excited by the passion people have for this topic. It's been awesome and we must do it again sometime..

Le Marche en Arles (Provence)

What can I say, but there's nothing like being thrown in the deep end....
a bus full of French Langauge Students left to fend for themselves in the food markets!
Gorgeous food, fantastic atmosphere, and great fun!

Les Macaroons! miam:)

Les Olives

Le Saucisson

Le Pain
Les Fruits
We had a fantastic day discovering the markets, the old cite, and eating in the local restaurant with a local guide who allowed us to speak french very slowly!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Australians in Paris!

Last weekend I had the unbelievable experience of being an Australian in Paris when history was being made by another Australian in Paris. What a hero! For the past 5 years Cadel Evans has been battling it out on the roads of France for what he final got this weekend – first place in the Tour de France! I saw it happen. I cried. I sang our national anthem. I waved my flag and held my Kangaroo up high with pride. But what did I do for the preceding 4 hours while I was waiting for the race to turn into the Champs Elysees...

I walked around the back streets and took in all that I love....

  • roof tops (with mysterious attics)
  • famous monuments.....
  • no walk is complete without a cup of tea!
  • cobble stones....
  • red awnings

  • Displays of Geramiums
  • les velos.... anyone can ride one of these!
  • churches (in the distance)

And what better way to celebrate an awesome end to an awesome Tour de France! Dinner at Le Train Bleu at Le Gare de Lyon.

And at the risk of boring some..... here's what we're happy for

Cadel Evans (Team BMC) on the Podium of the Tour de France 2011.