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.  Thelma 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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quiet weekend stroll

OMG - my feet hurt and I am losing one of my big toe nails.

No biggie.  We didn't have much on over the weekend so decided to walk 60 kms.  (Actually we walked 66 kms as we were one of the first teams out and the route wasn't marked properly so we went the long way.)  Again, no biggie!

Why the weekend stroll?  To raise money for a very important cause - the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse in Sydney.   

All up 1,214 walkers raised over $3.4m for the In Patient Care Programme at the Lifehouse through their fundraising efforts.  Such a staggering effort and achievement and I for one am so proud I was part of this event.  And I am very proud of my team members - we were fierce and strong - and determined to get the job done as a glass of wine was waiting!!!!

Our team was a hoot - a mix of women brought together through two sister-in-laws, Georgina and Bonita.  During the months leading up to the weekend event groups of us met up and we definitely got to know one another completely and utterly during that time - walking and talking our way through the streets, lanes and beaches of Sydney.  We'd pick a meeting point and simply walk, walk, walk.  Those lucky enough to join Georgina and I always got a tea stop - being the nanas we are, we had to stop at some point for our English Breakfast tipple!

Boy oh boy, were we fit by the time we stepped out on Saturday, toned and ready to take on those 60kms! 

The weekend itself was full of highs and lows - with many injuries. The weather was not kind - it was searing hot on the Saturday and pouring with rain on the Sunday. Best of both worlds I guess? 

It was the best feeling arriving at camp on Saturday afternoon.  A hot shower, cup of tea and massage later and we were ready to collapse on the grass in the shade and rest up.

The organisers were amazing -it was a very slick camp site - and the afternoon and evening merged into one.  The dinner was delish and the entertainment hilarious.  Our ever resourceful team laid out a feast of the most beautiful snacks and wine - which went straight to our heads and forced us off to our tents!

We slept soundly and were the first team out at the crack of dawn. (I was the cheeky first walker through the gates - having endless early morning smart-arse energy!!!!).

The 30 kms back seemed quicker - as a return journey always does.  The rain didn't worry us - it was such a relief after the searing heat the day before.  

Our immediate group were fit as a fiddle and returned home in record time. 

Some of the others were travel sore and had injuries the poor loves, so they hobbled back, but we all crossed the line in some shape or form.

Just thinking about crossing that finish line makes me teary. All our families were there, cheering us across the line.  We all cried - it had been such an emotional time - plus we were all pretty drained and had-it!  We all waited for the last of our group to come through - and man did we holler them in - it was such an achievement and the last of our group were pretty injured with twisted ankles, blisters and bleeding toes.  Glamorous?  No.

Then the ultimate - Georgina and Bonita's darling husbands had their boat moored at Darling Harbour and a few of us plus our families climbed aboard and sailed off into the harbour.  

The champagne and water view were equally stunning!  What a way to end an amazing weekend - in true Sydney style with friends and family out on the water.

Perfect!  When we finally got home I sunk into a hot bath and fell asleep!  Thank God B yelled out to me - it could have been a fatal end!

Will I do it again next year?  Probably not.  The effort involved to train and raise the money - $2k per person - is massive.  It is a lot for one person and I just don't see how I could put the training time in again.  

I will definitely do it again however - it was such an amazing event - and such a special time training and walking with true friends - I just need a year or two in between weekend strolls!

It's time to launch back into other work and life projects - between the cookbook the year before and then the charity work - life at the ranch has been on a back burner.  It really is time to focus on other projects, hang up the serious walking shoes and hope my big toe nail doesn't fall off.  Ohh and unpack - we only moved house the weekend before - again, no biggie!

(Post-script did - wwwwwwwww!!!).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Meet Blossom

How divine is my birthday present?  I adore her and have called her Blossom as I love listening to Blossom Dearie while working and the name seemed perfect for such a gorgeous girl.

We've been out for a spin around Centennial Park first thing - and she was very well behaved!  Blossom is going to make me a very happy cyclist - as long as I stay out of the way of road ragers.

Part of me wonders if she should really move down to the country as she'd be perfect for riding down the country lanes and it would make sense to bring my not-nearly-as-gorgeous Trek mountain bike up for city riding.   For the next few weeks I think she needs to stay close by so we can go for city spins as often as possible.  Perhaps she will relocate when we are down in Exeter for the summer break?

We tried Sooki in the basket but she was not impressed with the concept one iota!!!!  Fair enough.  She can stay grounded!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bliss in Paradise

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

So are the dogs.

B has headed back to the city to work while the dogs and I are staying until next Friday.  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 been busy in the garden 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!).

How funny are 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 to re-acqaint myself with the kitchen he couldn't find the effort to follow me.

Big call for the white stalker. Usually he is right on my heel, following me close behind  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 foodie fraud.

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

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, I 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 so that 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 (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.  

Massive fail.  And massive stoopid idea.  I ended up throwing it all out.

Then, faced with melted butter all over the kitchen I reached for my trusty at the ready cleaning 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 cleaning 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. (I hope Capt Security B is NOT reading this).

Thanks be to God 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.   That's a good thing.  

Feeling the need to get this thing done - I went to make the caramel.  Duh - forgot I needed butter for that too and #@# I didn't think to buy enough of it.

Back off to the shops I dragged myself (with keys) this time.  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?!!!!!!

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 toiling away editing and agonising over every last detail.

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 cookbook launch - and we were even smiling (thanks to the bubbles before the photos...hic).

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 lives we previously had and maybe/actually start cooking again.  We have some new recipes to put through their paces!

Bon appetit!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Australia Day

We had some fun today!!!  As we were up in the city and not down in paradise this weekend, Moo was up for the Havaiana Challenge at Bondi Beach (where you purchase a giant inflatable havaiana and take to the water to try and beat the record for the most bodies on floaties linked up out on the water.  Bondi missed out on the record by a few bodies but bet it's own record - so all was good in the beach world.)

Bondi was a sea of people, bands, and of course giant yellow and green inflatables - it was hysterical!

We stayed on the beach for a few hours with friends then wandered off to the obligatory mecca for all things frozen yoghurt - Twisted - Moo's favourite place in the world hand's-down (for the moment).

Salted caramel frozen yoghurt with baby M&Ms on top pretty much rocked his socks.  (Did it for me too when I begged for a taste).

Then we ventured home to sort out the doggies and to pretend we were staying to play (sorry dogs - we had a bbq to go to - at Scooby Doo's house).

Scooby was beyond excited to see us - she clearly remembered her weeks in paradise and wondered where the treats were?  Also her pint sized wrestling mates - she kept sniffing about to see if they had come as well.  Sorry Scooby - their dance card was full!!!!

(We will have to organise a play date for them all again sometime soon....maybe....they all go mad - i need to take some multi-vitamins to gear myself up for it!)

I have woken up to a very odd - and not often heard sound this summer - rain!  Thank you God - it is so much cooler and so incredibly divine to hear the pitter patter of big fat thirsty droplets falling outside.

I think I might potter about home today and then re-discover that old friend of ours down the road - the Verona Cinema.  We have a list an arm's length long of films we want to see - so might as well get stuck into crossing some of them off.  It'd be rude not to.

Enjoy the weekend - we plan to!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Doggie tales

Usually when I creep downstairs early to have that first words can't describe how good it is cup of tea for the day, Woody is right on my heels, following me down, only to collapse at my feet and snore off into some sort of doggie bliss.

Say goodbye to the lazy life, my friend.

A month on from that day we fell truly, madly, deeply for Miss Sooki (Soukeeee) and life has changed as we knew it.

There is a whole lot more action around these parts. She completely 100% adores her big brother and her favourite thing to do is follow him about, copying his every action and she wrestles him to the moon and back.  (They're doing it now).  And the good news is he has had a change of faith.  In those early days he left the room or headed for the hills if she came near him.  Now he goes looking for her as soon as he is up and he appears to be rather fond of her - although - typical male - he plays his cards close to his chest most days.

(Note to self - so ironic for me that she stalks him so stealthily considering he stalks me 24/7.  Make that 25/8 - he stalks me in his sleep I reckon.  The flip side to Sooki being smitten is that as soon as I move - I now have two fluffy body guards on heel.  Nothing beats coming out of the bathroom door and falling over them both!  Dang dogs.)

Back to doggie life - Woody's napping days are over - they wrestle the day away and then both collapse after their dinner - snoozing from sheer exhaustion.  It's hysterical.  It also means Woody no longer prowls around at night - he is one pooched pooch and snores a good eight hours.  She often sleeps with her paws over her eyes - perhaps she needs an eye mask as all princesses do?!

Our past month has been fairly low key - a lot of lazying about in paradise in the heat that soared beyond any temperature i can ever remember.  Keeping the dogs in check - and we had three as we were looking after Raffles who I am convinced was working under cover and really was Scooby Doo (the name sticks).  The three pooches had a ball - the trio wrestling was a sight to see considering Scooby was three times their size.  

We're back up in the city now as Moo has returned to school - and that's a whole new story - a new school so some big changes afoot but it all seems fine so far - he even plans on doing homework this am - and it's Sunday - wonder if he'll remember last's night's declaration when he stumbles down?!!!!!

As for me - today I plan on teaching Sooki how to walk like a real dog on leash.  She's pretty good as it is - but then has a hat trick of grabbing Woody's one near his neck and pulling him up the street while he tries to put the brakes on.  She gets him in a neck lock and tugs her heart out.  And she doesn't let go without a fight.

Poor Woody - looks as if she is going to be a bossy one - he is so used to being loved and adored and now this tyrant has entered his realm.  We might have to build him a man cave - he's going to need it!

Still - how could you not adore that little face?  She is pretty damn cute.  Smitten?  We all are, even Woodster in his own way.