Friday, May 30, 2014

Quiet time, gentle living

It's been a sad, gentle time of it here - as I've been taking things quietly and spending a lot of time right here in my favourite spot, the kitchen/dining room where I tend to do most of my writing, reading, planning, working and studying… plus a lot of thinking and remembering me wee mum.

Usually the dogs are sitting right there on their bed curled up into each other - but they have just dashed off to chase a pesky bird that swooped into the garden!!!  They have been a constant source of cute company and each day we are thankful we still have Woody with us - that has been the miracle of the year - even the vet can't believe he survived his illness.

Endless cups of tea have been sipped here - some work done, study completed - I'n nearly done with the course - only a few modules to go so the end is in sight.

We have decided on a whim to take off to the States for a break in the school holidays coming up.  We are all well overdue for an adventure and in much need of a complete change from the year we have endured so far.

I'm getting quietly excited about our trip - it involves visiting a much missed friend who upped sticks and moved to Cleveland - cannot wait to see her and the fam-damily!

Better get some work done and trip planning organised - we are so lastminutedotcom with these sorts of trips - makes it all the more exciting in many respects - but the list of chores to do is huge - best I get stuck in.

First, I'll head off to yoga - I need some gentle namaste to get into the day!

Friday, February 28, 2014

My wee mum, June

On top of our worries with Woody, my poor wee mum took a dramatic and sudden turn for the worse and sadly died in February.

Monty and I spent a week with her in January which was a blessing as we got to spend lots of quiet time with her which made her smile but we knew something wasn't quite right - she seemed so frail.

She had no idea how ill she was poor love - none of us did. It happened so suddenly and right to the end she fought hard but the poor thing was riddled with cancer - it came back with a vengeance after so many years of great health.

The only solace I have is that she is (hopefully) with my two brothers.  I am not a strong believer in any shape or form but I do have some faith and hope that this is the case.

She missed them both so much - and John's death four years ago really was the start of her demise.  She became very reclusive and just plain sad.  It was too much for her - to lose Stevie was hard enough, but John as well was unthinkable.

May she rest in peace and be gardening as she loved to somewhere beautiful.  Every time I step into my garden I think of her.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Woody Woo

We've had a horrendous Christmas and start to 2014 sadly.

Poor Woody is very, very ill.   He collapsed at the end of Dec and has been living at the vets since then.  We bring him home at night as he needs constant care to be carried to go anywhere or to eat or drink as he is so weak.  So far he has had six blood transfusions to try and get his protein levels up as they are dangerously low.

The poor pooch is miserable - and so is Sooki - she has gone into a depressive decline without her brother by her side.  She won't come out of Monty's bathroom when Woody isn't here and is too scared to go for a walk without him.  Poor little love. She's allowed to sleep on Monty's bed at night since Woody is downstairs with me keeping an eagle eye on him during the night,  She comes down in the morning and gives him a little peck on his nose - it is so sweet.  She knows things are bad and is being gentle - a first for her as she is still so puppyish.

As for us - we are all basket cases.  The idea that we could lose him is too much to bear.  The vet has called in a specialist who thinks he could have an autoimmune disease that is destroying his gut.  Poor thing.  We are starting him on serious meds to see if they can help stop the decline and help heal his gut.

Fingers and toes are crossed.

(Footnote - the meds worked!  Woody has made a dramatic recovery - and has put on some weight and since April he has been up for going for long walks again.  He is on meds for life which is a small price to pay as he is with us - and healthy again.  As for Sooki - she has made a dramatic return to being seriously cute and naughty at the same time!!!  She remains his partner in crime and best friend and sticks to him like glue. Super glue in fact.   She has also taken a turn for the worse when out walking as she growls at any dog that even looks at Woody - she's super protective but it is a tad embarrassing when she makes a major fuss - and a worry when it's a massive dog she's taking on.  Woody and I are not too happy with this turn of events.  Hopefully she'll settle down!  So a ray of sunshine in a pretty grey cloud that has been 2014 so far sadly).

Friday, December 6, 2013

Where has the year gone?!!!!!

Oppps….. I seemed to have stopped playing about with this blog.

Not quite sure why as I was enjoying blogging and friends asked about the hibernating snoooooore that became terminal over here?????

Life got busy I guess with very little time to do much else but get on with living this past year….

Highlights since April in a nutshell - we stumbled across and bought an amazing place in Woollahra just after my last post and then spent most of the year working on the move - due to the longest settlement in the history of property.  We moved in finally late October - after doing some minor renovations on the place and we LOVE our new digs. The house and garden exude a very zen energy which we adore.  (Yes another garden to add to the large ramble down at Paradise - this one is a lot easier to manage thank the lord!).

The dogs love to dart about the book stash here - they run about for ages and then fall over in a heap - best exercise ever!

The kitchen has been my favourite place to hang out, as always, and I have whipped up some culinary gf magic here.  Thermal the Thermie and Ken the Kenwood have helped a lot in our adventures!

The pooches have settled in and have been super relaxed in their new abode - long may that continue!

On top of getting ready for the move and making changes at the new house, I decided to add some study into the mix and started in July with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC.  It is a part time course that you complete online as well as having coaching calls with a small group of students.  It covers a whole range of different nutritional theories so is right up my alley.  I graduate in July 2014.

I have been loving the course and have met some amazing people through it - which has been an added bonus. Some live here, some in NZ and a lot in the US - so it definitely has an international flavour to it!

And in between study, freelancing, life and all that stuff we have taken any slim chance we have had to pack up the car and head back down to Paradise…..

It never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful Exeter and the surrounding areas are - not to mention the Old Nursery - we have been so lucky to discover this slice of heaven.

The air is so clear and crisp down there - as soon as you get to the gate you feel life's stresses melt away and you can't help but relax … and then face the ivy, periwinkle and forgetmenots.

Hard to forget them when they multiple rampantly throughout the place, along with the rabbits, possums and wombats.  I won't mention the snakes - too much for some to handle!  At least they stay away and leave the dogs alone - the seem more scared of them which is hysterical as Woody and Sooki don't do scary well - both too cute for that caper.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bliss in Paradise

Three days straight gardening down in Paradise and I am one popped Jossie.

So are the dogs.

B has headed back to the city to work while the dogs and I are staying until next Friday.  Yup - Friday - a whole week in Paradise!

Moo has gone off to boot camp for a week so I'll head up to the city to meet him off the bus then we'll turn around and head on straight back down for two more weeks sifting quietly in the country.

It's been so divine here and now that it is a bit cooler we have hit the garden big time to catch up from a severe lack of effort due to the hottest summer ever and the enticement of hammocks and the Christmas stash of books to work our way through.

Two days of pulling ivy out (it's wildy rampant) and even the dogs were pooped.  (Not that they helped - they just darted about chasing one another 24/7.  If only I could train them to dart back to the house and whip up a much needed pot of tea!).

That's the two partners in crime last night - Woody was snoozing vertically on a cushion - he couldn't be bothered moving to get more comfy. (Hard to see in this shot - but he was pretty much butt down head up!).  Even when I got up (dug myself painfully off the couch) to go re-acqaint with the kitchen he couldn't find the effort to follow me.

Big call for the white stalker.  Sooki was comatose - not a murmur from her until we all headed to bed.

I took a break from the garden this morning and headed into town for supplies and a tipple of tea or 5 with a gorgeous friend who lives nearby.  We solved some world problems over that pot of tea let me tell you!  Add in some yoga afterwards to stretch out some crinkly muscles - ahhhhhhhhh!!!!

Namaste xxx

About that pot of tea Woody?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The woes of caramel slice

There is something incredibly funny/sad/wrong about my baking experience in the kitchen of Palazzo Josamina today.

Considering I spent last year and most of this year toiling away on a cookbook, today's chapter suggests /confirms I am a fraud.

If it wasn't so damn funny I wouldn't even write this - but even I can see the humour in the fails of today.  Fail. Fail. Fail.

So here's how it goes - I put my hand up to whip up some gf baking for Monty's sports day at his new school.

Three loads of caramel chocolate slice to be precise.

It started out ok - I didn't drop the pans getting them out of the cupboard.  Pretty much went to custard pretty soon later (!).  (And there was no call for custard in this recipe - it was all my own doing).

I decided to use my (newish) Thermomagic to weigh all the butter - we were talking about 50,000 grams for three slices - so I dug about in the fridge and got all the odds and ends of butter out.  Perfect, had just enough. I left it sitting there and got on with something else - involving a cup of tea and gossip with a gf if I recall.

Back to the slices. The base requires coconut.  Monty abhors coconut (so he says).  The fact he'll eat anything cooked with coconut cream etc makes his aversion in my eyes all a bit 'whatever, talk to the hand' if you ask me.  I got out the coconut.

I decided to be smart and whizz up the shredded coconut until it was so super duper fine he would not even detect it in the base - so with 'I am so smart arse' abandon, I threw it all in the thermie(not so)magic and hit whizz.

1 sec later (yup - they really are amazing machines)I  took off the lid and said hello to a strange gluggy sludge.

Shite - slap in the head -  I forgot to take out the butter.  The butter that was still wrapped in paper and foil.

Shite.  Shite.  Shite.

With the idea of walking down to the shops upon me, I decided to be whizzy myself, and melt it all down then sift out the paper.  (Ok desperation was kicking in - I know it wasn't a great idea).

Massive fail.  And massive stoopid idea.  Tipped the lot out.

Then, faced with melted butter all over the kitchen I reached for my trusty at the ready detol spray and gave the entire area a good old spray down with it.

Hmm - that's a funny smell.  Checked bottle - had used the puppy's 'pee inside eradicator spray' by mistake!!!  Nice one.

Cleaned kitchen again w detol spray.

Then headed out to the shops to acquire more butter - wilted but still determined for a tidy result.
Home.  Nice one - locked myself out with oven still on. (Hope Capt Security B is NOT reading this).

Thanks be to God (and that nice new Pope) for a neighbour being home.  I clambered over the gate to start afresh.  (Yes Cpt Security - I left the back doors open to the courtyard!!!).

Note to self - surprisingly those docile ditzy do-dah dogs do bark at intruders. (In a 'have you got a treat' sort of way I might add).   That's a good thing.  And a big 'whatever talk to the hand' to the cranky neighbour upstairs who loathes the poor cute as anything little pooches.  She's a nutter (and yes I do  hope you ARE reading this).

Feeling the need to get this thing done - I went to make the caramel.  Duh - forgot I needed butter for that too and no people I didn't think to buy enough of it.

Back off to the shops I dragged myself (with keys) this time.  (And dogs to appease nutter.)  Success.  It'a all done and looking fabulous.

I really hope that boy of mine appreciates the effort I have gone to, making his gf slice - wow betide if he detects coconut in it.

The good thing is I am also starting to like the aroma of the pee eradicator spray in the kitchen.
Could someone please tell me how on earth I survived the year of the cookbook?!!!!!!

Ohh - and once we sample it - if I have used salt instead of sugar I will simply re-name it salted caramel slice and NOT stay for sport on Saturday.


Friday, February 22, 2013

A labour of love

The fruit of last year's major labour has finally arrived!

Yes, that;'s her - Cuisine du Coeur - featuring nearly 400 pages of delicious recipes, photos and anecdotes.  Truth be told - after all that work, blood, sweat, tears and loud snorting laughs, it seems weird having a copy in my hands after all those hours.

Here's a cute pic of Monty tucking into some divine mango sorbet.  He had a ball on the photo shoot - as did Georgina's and Bree's kids. It was a good thing they are all so divine and got along so well - the six of them spent many hours together after school as we got closer to the wire and had to put in so many extra hours proofing, editing and re-designing the pages.

It was a pretty amazing project to work on.  We learnt a lot and each of us fell into our beds from sheer exhaustion at the end of most days.

(Another) truth be told, it took up many many, many more hours than I ever thought.  We all disappeared from life as we knew it for most of 2012 but it was also a lot of fun with great snorting laughs along the way.  The core group of us are a tight little team.  Battle weary sure but tight - and that says a lot - these projects can ruin friendships.

Here we are - Georgina, Bree and I with our gorgeous pressies at the launch - and we were even smiling (thanks to the bubbles before the photos...hic).

(Bizarre fact - it was not all plain sailing - we (actually our children) experienced the very weird Curse of CduC - with four injuries to four different children along the way.  (And no - I am very quick to say here it did not involve any mothers venting frustration in the wrong direction) Poor Poppy broke her leg, Monty sprained his ankle (twice) and Jackson then went and broke his foot, right before the Xmas hols. This year Julia has broken her foot.  Four different cookbook families, four injuries - how weird/funny is that?  Just waiting to see what happens to the Hancock clan - their time is nigh.  Sorry Heather - but it's fate).

And for the record,  Nope. Nada.  No way jose.  We have no intention of working on a sequel or on another cookbook for a very long time.  It's time to get back into the loves we had and maybe/actually start cooking again - and put those recipes through their paces!

Bon appetit!