Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memories of cooking with Dad

I had an apple turnover for afternoon tea. It was the last of a batch I made to feed people over the weekend.

They are tasty treats but they are special because they are one of the very few things my Dad taught me in the kitchen. Dad can cook well, but he is busy and Mum is a fantastic cook, so he very rarely does it. The treat when I was little though, was when he used to make apple turnovers and when I was about 12 he taught me.

I now realise this was a cunning ploy on his behalf as once trained, I made them EVERY Saturday night pretty much till I moved out of home. As I got older, even if I was going out, I would feel guilty if I didn't make them before I went.

Over the years I embellished a little. Dad used to make two giant ones and cut them up and we would all fight over the crispy corners so I started making "single serve" version and have since made mini ones for various events. They are simple to make, very tasty but more over every time I have one I think of all those Saturday nights with my Dad in the kitchen.

Lisa's Dad's Apple Turn-Overs
2 sheets puff pastry each cut into 4 squares
1 can pie apples
caster sugar, about 5 tablespoons but depends how sweet you like it
cinnamon, however much you like
a small handful of sultanas

Mash together pie apples, sugar, cinnamon and sultanas.

Divide between squares of puff pastry (there is usually a bit too much apple for the pastry, eat some cold!). Fold over into a triangle and seal the edges and poke a couple of steam holes in the top with a fork.

Place on greased baking tray, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake at about 180-200 degrees until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

You can make mini ones by cutting the pastry into 9 squares. You will get three sheets of pastry out of one can when making mini ones.

They are great hot or cold so make some and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A hot shower

The cold weather continues -6 this morning and when I turned on my shower only a tiny dribble of very cold water came out. I stared at it with horror, this could mean only one thing, there was a frozen pipe somewhere and my morning shower was going to be ruined!

However as I stood there contemplating the options the ice must have shifted and a lovely stream of hot water came out, allowing me to enjoy one of my favourite things in the world (and really the only thing that gets me going in the morning) a nice hot shower. I do try to limit the length in respect of all our water shortages, but a good hot shower first thing in the morning is good for the soul.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Brrrr the beauty of frost

It was -4oC this morning - brrrr. But that cold makes for a stunning frost which sparkles when the sun hits it. I especially love frost tinged rooves. They give a house that iced gingerbread house look.

But I must admit, said frost is definitly best enjoyed from inside a heated house with a hot cup of tea in hand!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I'm worn out. I spent the day working like mad in the garden. Winter gardening is funny, you work for ages, but it is basically tidying, pruning, cleaning up really. So at the end, everything looks neater if you knew what it was like before but not really spectacular.

However I know, hidden beneath that new mulch lies the seeds, bulbs and plants that in a few months time will have my little courtyard bursting with colour. It is very satisfying, in a kind of hidden way!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm in love - with my vacuum cleaner

Last night I finally bit the bullet and decided to replace my dodgy vacuum cleaner. Sick of it not working I went the whole hog and got a Dyson. Oh my god, the difference. Embarassingly I had to empty it 3 times when doing the house but the carpets look so much better.

Oh dear, I've crossed another line into adulthood - I'm excited about cleaning products!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mmmm massage

What better way to end the week than with a massage. I favour Chinese accupressure because I like to be pummelled but whatevere you like I hope you are finding a relaxing way to wind down tonight.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our new PM - Julia Gillard

Today we have our first female PM. No matter your side of politics, if you liked Rudd, like Gillard, agree or don't agree with the challenge or just don't care about it at all, I think it is an incredibly significant day, and one that I have to admit I didn't think I would see so soon.

I've liked Julia Gillard for a long time. I have been so cross when she was called "deliberately barren", criticised for her empty fruit bowl or had her hair scrutinised. She is obviously an intelligent, determined woman who I think has been doing a great job. It probably helps that we share a passion, which is the opportunity for every child to receive access to the same high quality level of education. I really believe that no child in a country like ours should be stopped from reaching their full potential because they don't have access to education, and I know that it is a view I share with Julia.

Earlier today Peter Beattie made the comment that right now we have two female premiers, a female Governor-General and a female PM. Given that women make up more than 50% of the population, it is about time too!

So yay for finally reaching this momentous point. I'm hoping (in vain I know) that people will focus on her policies not her hair and clothes but I am a happy camper today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Unexpected Bargain

I went shopping at lunch, not for anything exciting, just a new polar fleece. But because I value warmth extremely highly, I decided I would fork out for an icebreaker fleece. If you haven't come across icebreaker before it is a New Zealand brand of 100% merino products, is gorgeous and lasts forever but is a little pricey. And while it is an attractive fleece, it is still really just a black, zip up top, so handing over hundreds of dollars always feels a little hard.

Anyway, Snowgum is having a 20% of sale for members, so I headed there, picked out my top and went to pay. I figured with my 20% off it was ok. As the assistant rang up the sale she asked if I had any reward points, I didn't think so but she checked and I had so many, that with the discount I ended up paying less than a third of the ticketed price!

What a surprise, I'm completely chuffed. Now I can enjoy the snuggly warmth of thick, soft, devine merino wool but can still afford to go out to dinner on Friday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Common Courtesy

Today I had lunch with my Mum. We were at a cafe that has a "penned in" area of tables and a few tables on the edge of the general pedestrian area. We were in the pen, but at the edge. Next to us on the outside were two women having lunch with a little boy who looked about 1. While they were eating, he threw a toy and a man walking along, stopped, picked it up and gave it back to the women.

Both Mum and I commented on how nice it was of him, before realising that we had just made special notice of what should be a common courtesy. It only took him a second to stop, but at the same time we also watched people going out of their way to step around a plastic bottle at the top of the escalator when the bin was right next to it.

So while the nice man gets a smile, everyone else gets a grrr - a bit more courtesy in the world would be very nice to see.

On a completely smiley note I wore a swishy skirt today. It makes me feel all girly and I love it. Plus it has pockets. You just can't go wrong with a skirt with pockets!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nom, Nom, Nom

Today we had a staff meeting. We get lunch at staff meetings (I know, my workplace is fantastic) and usually it is sandwiches. I never make myself a sandwich but I do enjoy ones that are made for me.

But everyone was getting a little tired of sandwiches so this lunch we got pizza - and not any pizza, fantastic gourmet pizza from Debacle. For those who don't live in Canberra Debacle is a great pub that makes amazing food including really excellent pizzas. They do 2for1 pizzas on Tuesdays and the ques are huge. I used to work around the corner and am very familiar with their wonderful offerings. Before Debacle, I was a bit of a pizza racist, not happy with the mixing of the cultures, but they lured me into a love of tandoori chicken on pizza, and even won me over to seafood pizzas (who doesn't love a pizza with whole mussels in the shell on it).

So not only did I get lunch (I had forgotten it was staff meeting day, so getting lunch was already a great surprise) but I got a great lunch of gourmet pizza goodness. I would have taken a photo of the gorgeous array that arrived on the conference room table, but I work with a host of male engineers, and believe me, they didn't last long enough for a photo.

Luckily I'm dancing tonight, so will work off the slices but what a yummy surprise lunch!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A sweet present for a sweet boy

This is a present I took to a baby shower today, isn't he gorgeous? He is soft and squishy and just perfect for little hands to hold.

He is from a local artisan, sold through a local handmade shop. I love that people still make beautiful handmade things. This little giraffe will go to a small boy who I'm sure will love him, and I think it is wonderful that in an age when so many things are mass produced, you can still find something made with love for a special little person.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Market Shopping

This afternoon I did some shopping at a local fresh fruit and veg market. It is out of my way but I love going there. It isn't just the wonderfully fresh produce on offer or the delicassies at the speciality shops, it is the atmosphere. It is full of grosers spruiking their wares, chatting up the older ladies, flattering the young ones. There are kids running around helping parents choose fruit and people discussing how to turn this week's specials into meals. Shopping at a market is much more than just buying food - it is an experience.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Crunchy Days

Yesterday was cold, wet and windy, but as is often the case after rain, this morning proved to be one of those days when with the dust washed from the air, leaves and grass still gleaming with moisture and the sky clear and blue, the whole world seems just that little bit more in focus.

My colleague terms it a crunchy day. A day where the crispness of the air makes everything seem that bit cleaner, sharper and with a solid hard edge. It is an atmosphere thing.

In contrast I love those afternoons, especially towards the end of summer, when the late sun catches the dust in the air turning it gold. Everything looks softer, warm and gently burnished. There was an old Nescafe Gold ad which perfectly encompassed that warm, relaxed feel, you can imagine lazy days, sipping a cocktail as the the sun slips down, the golden light deepening into a summer twilight.

But the crystal clear of a cold, crunchy winter morning has a particular effect of making you feel just that little bit more alive, putting even distant hills into sharp focus. It is as though you have stepped out of a bubble into the real world and the cold air on your face only makes it more hyper real.

Today is a crunchy day, and I'm enjoying it enormously.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A cozy bed

It is cold, wet and windy today, so the perfect day to embrace the wonder that is an electric blanket.

Electric blankets seem to divide people. Some people seem to hate them with a passion. I put this down to urban myths relating to the old dodgy ones that could burn your house down. I however am at the opposite end of the spectrum. I think they are wonderful.

I have a fab one that has settings from 1-9, a boost function to get the bed nice and hot to jump into and a 12 hour setting which keeps you cozy all night. I really don't think there is much quite as comforting as getting into a lovely pre-heated bed - it is the perfect recipe for a good night's sleep.

Making me even more appreciative of it is that tonight is the CEO sleepout, where various CEO's, politicians, etc sleep out to get a bit more of an appreciation of what it is like to be homeless. I really find it hard to believe that in a country as affluent as Australia, there are still people who on a miserable night like tonight will be, have no place to go. It seems such a failure of society, and I'm proud to support social change when I can.

So tonight as I get to curl up in my heated bed while listening to the wind and rain outside, I'm really going to reflect on what a truly lucky pampered person I am and at my good fortune to be in this position.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That winning feeling!

I have had such an exciting day because - I WON A COMPETITION.

I need to start by explaining that normally I'm really not lucky. My Mum and sister are. They win on scratchies or little lotto prizes or other little things like that. Mum is particularly lucky, she wins raffles, has won a painting and has even won a couple of big prizes. In the 80's my parents built a house and after moving in were completely broke so couldn't afford curtains for the whole house. Well just then Mum won enough money to put in the curtains and even upgrade her nearly dead car. And then a few years ago on a terrible day spent at a hospital, Mum won a brand new car which my Dad still drives. So there is plenty of luck in my family, I just don't normally share in it.

Not that I don't try. I enter competitions as a hobby. Really, seriously. I am a dab hand at 25 words or less. Numerous charities have me on their mailing lists, I even subscribe to those Boystown house raffles. But up till now $2 on a scratchie was an amazing result.

But today, I got an email from the Vogue website where I won a competition and I get - wait for it - jewelery!!! No idea what it will be like, but I won it so I will love it. If you can't tell I'm on a real high right now!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shoes, shoes, shoes ...

I really like shoes - no scratch that I love shoes.

Luckily I have the great fortune to share my love of shoes with several colleagues so that if I wear a particularly nice pair they are noticed. But more importantly it means my shoe calendar is appropriately admired. It is one of those picture a day types, except that each picture is a stunning shoe.

Having been off sick and then with the long weekend I got to admire several beauties this morning, the purple feather and wood sandals, the hot pink extremely high stilettos and the lime green 1960's sling backs

But the winner was today's shoe - a gorgeous 1940's stacked heel, peep toe slingback in navy suede with a pom pom on the toe. Completely outrageous and I would wear them in a second.

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Sleeplessness

This morning I got up at 4.30am and snuggled on the couch under my sleeping bag with a cup of tea to watch Australia vs Germany in the Football World Cup. Aside from one or two moments, there wasn't a lot to smile about in the game. But what I did like was that while I might have been alone in my lounge room I was in the company of hundreds of thousands of Australians, right across the country, all of whom had woken up at ungodly hours to watch a game of football. Nation bonding at its best!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blue Wren

I am just watching a blue wren hopping about my courtyard. I tried to take a photo but he refused to stay still long enough. He is so cute with his bright blue feathers and small gaggle of brown females and best of all he is cleaning up the insects.

My parents only live about 5 minutes away but the ajoin reserve parkland. As a result they have masses of birds while I, in townhouse land, have few. Mum keeps a book of all the ones she spots and has dozens listed. They also feed the magpies (which we have done for almost 20 years at this point so they are very tame) and the rosellas. Yesterday I popped up there and would have stood for at least 5 minutes watching the rosellas having a bath before they spotted me and yelled at me to fill up the bird feeder.

Anyway having grown up with that abundance of bird life means I really miss them and is why Mr Blue Wren's visit is making me smile.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kitchen Time

I spent most of today in the kitchen cooking for others. I love to cook and it is even better to cook for friends and family. I made chocolate mousse to take as dessert to a dinner tonight and a couple of trays of spinach and ricotta cannelloni to freeze to give to friends who have just had or are just about to have babies. My full fridge and freezer are so very satisfying.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tea, Sun, Bliss

As I've mentioned I have a cold. I'm really not that sick, just sneezy and snotty so am working from home in a bid to keep the germs away from the office.

I just took a moment out from work and sat down in my favourite armchair in the sun to enjoy a cup of tea. I do generally love tea, but a hot cup of tea, in the sun on a cold day when you aren't feeling your best is gorgeous - a real comfort moment. And now I'm feeling a whole lot better!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Joshua Robert

Friends of mine welcomed their son into the world today. Joshua is a little boy who will grow up surrounded by the love and saftey every child deserves. Not only does he have two wonderful parents but a magnificent extended family even further enhanced by a huge group of supportive friends. It is just so wonderful for a new life to come into a place where he will be so loved. I wish that family all the luck and love in the world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I'm home sick with a cold which isn't much to smile about but my gorgeous Mum came by with a yummy lunch and best of all some tulips. They are the traditional red and yellow ones and are sitting there on my dining table with their fat green steams looking gorgeous.

My sister told me a new trick, add some vodka to the water and it is supposed to keep them upright. I didn't have any plain vodka so lets hope that grapefruit vodka does the trick just as well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ugg Boots

Can I just muse today on the wonder that is an ugg boot? Mine wait for me by my bed. First thing on these cold winter mornings my feet go in and as soon as I'm home from the office, off go the heels, on with the uggies.

Mine are two tone pink numbers, although really there are a lot more tones than that because over the years they've had various types of food dropped on them, been worn outside in the garden and I will admit, have even made it to the local shops once or twice. They are not in pristine condition.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a shoe girl, I love my gorgeous and large collection of dainty heels, they make me feel glamorous when I head out of the house. But at the same time at the end of the day I just can't wait to kick them off and put the ugg boots on.

They are getting on a little, but that just means that the sheepskin inside has worn down to fit the contours of my feet perfectly. It will be a sad day when I finally have to say goodbye but I don't think that will be awhile yet.

Ugg boots - one of the best sides of winter.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two strong legs

Today as I popped out to do an errand I saw various people with mobility issues. There was a severely obese young woman struggling to walk, a woman in a wheelchair and an old man with a cane. It made me thankful for my youth and health.

We rarely think about our health unless it isn’t good, so today I’m positively focusing on just how good it is to be young and healthy. Good health is a serious blessing and worth thinking about because our actions can help us maintain it. I was a sick kid, so I really appreciate every day of feeling well, strong and healthy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Sunday Stroll

I live near a lake but all too often it is just a backdrop. Today I got out and about around it. It was a cool cloudy day but the sun would make nice appearances to warm things up. It was so peaceful sitting there watching the ducks and swans do their thing. The autumn leaves have disappeared but the bare branches against the sky were just as beautiful in their own stark way. Just the perfect winter arvo.

Girlfriends - where would we be without them

A late entry today as the last of my friends have just left from my girls night. True friends are a joy for the soul and my bunch are absolute treasures.

We try to catch up for a girls night regularly, but this one has been somewhat delayed, so it was eagerly awaited. They are the best nights, all about eating, drinking and gossip. This night was filled with laughter, hugs and many, many smiles. We did allow two boys along, being 4 weeks old and one week before birth, we considered they wouldn’t remember too many salacious details.

So hug your girlfriends close, they will give you strength when you need it, a shoulder to cry on when required and will share a margarita and taco any time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Random Presents

Mum gave me two presents the other night. Not for any reason, just because she saw them and thought of me. She is an extraordinarily sweet and thoughtful Mum. One was a shopping bag that folds up tiny in your handbag. It has giraffe print and holds a pile of stuff. It’s great.

The other is a set of post-it notes. They are sitting on my desk and I smile every time I see them because they have a great quote from Betty Grable on them:
“The practice of putting women on pedestals began to die out when it was discovered that they could give orders better from there”.

I just love that. I’m waiting to find a time to write a suitably officious note and stick one on a colleague’s desk. I think they are going to be special occasion post-it notes!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mmmmm, doughnuts

Imagine a sucrose covered ball of fat soaked dough. Not appetising? Well how about a handmade, raspberry jam filled Italian doughnut, heated in the microwave so the jam is warm and the sugar coating slightly melted. Yeah, that got the mouth watering didn’t it? That was my little treat this afternoon, bought for me so that I didn’t even need to use up one of the thousands of unnecessary calories walking to get it. Need I say more about why it brought a smile to my sugar encrusted lips?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The warmth of the winter sun

Canberra is known for cold winter nights. What it isn’t known for is the sunny days that accompany them. It is one of the joys of living in Canberra to sit outside under crystal clear blue skies, in crisp still air, warm in the sun. If you have never done it, it is hard to appreciate just how nice that contrast is, but today, only the second day of Winter and I got to have my lunch in that gorgeous winter sun. A cloud drifting across the sky was quick to remind us that it really is only about 12 degrees, but soon the sun was back and my little half hour of basking was a lovely relaxing point in the day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shiny Shoes

Today I wore new shoes for the first time. If one was to think negatively about them you might be concerned about comfort, potential blisters etc. But I just reveled in the joy that a brand new shiny pair of shoes can bring. All day I stepped a bit lighter in their unblemished perfectness. And no, I didn’t get a blister!