Monday, 24 December 2007

Have a Very Merry Christmas!! / 'Six White Boomers'...

Well, I'm all blogged out. So that just leaves me to wish family, friends, fellow-bloggers (and the computer-illiterate - hi dad), and everyone else a 'Very Merry & Safe Christmas'
from all of us!!

Cheerio for 2007 - see you in 2008!

Or as they say in Wales (!!!)....(amazing what you can find out through the internet).......
'Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda' !!!

(..that better be 'Merry Christmas' in Welsh!!)

The pressies are wrapped; the kids are watching 'The Grinch' and I'm off to make gingerbread men now. (of course...recipe to follow)
I'll just leave you with a great Aussie verse/song that's become a classic in the Land Down Under.....and one that we had a great time singing at the Jenolan Caves Christmas Concert. (OK, I'd had a few glasses of wine so I did the actions, definately no photo)...

Six White Boomers

One of Santa Clause's favourite songs. By Rolf Harris & John D. Brown .

Early on one Christmas Day, a Joey Kanga-roo,
Was far from home and lost in a great big zoo.
Mummy, where's my mummy, they've taken her a-way,
We'll help you find your mummy son, hop on the sleigh.

Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.
Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
.. On his Aus-tra-lian run.

Verse: Up beside the bag of toys, little Joey hopped ,
But they had'nt gone far when Santa stopped.
Un-harnessed all the reindeer and Joey wondered why,
Then he heard a far off booming in the sky.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Pretty soon old Santa began to feel the heat,
Took his fur-lined boots off to cool his feet.
Into one popped Joey, feeling quite OK,
While those old man kangaroos kept pulling on the sleigh.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Joey said to Santa, Santa, what about the toys,
Aren't you giving some to these girls and boys.
They've all got their presents son, we were here last night,
This trip is an extra trip, Joey's special flight.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Soon the sleigh was flashing past, right over Marble Bar,
Slow down there, cried Santa, it can't be far.
Come up on my lap son, and have a look around,
There she is, that's mummy, bounding up and down.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Well that's the bestest Christmas treat that Joey ever had,
Curled up in mother's pouch all snug and glad.
The last they saw was Santa headed northward from the sun,
The only year the boomers worked a double run.

Chorus: Six white boomers ...

Right...where's the Berocca.........

Jenolan Caves Christmas Concert 2007

We had a wonderful time at the Jenolan Caves last weekend - exploring the Imperial Cave followed by an incredible carol concert in the Grand Archway with friends.
The children were from Lapstone Public School Choir - they did an amazing job despite being very tired by the end of the concert!

It wouldn't be a Christmas celebration without the story of the nativity; it doesn't matter how many times I watch it - it's just so beautiful.

Recognise Bonita from Play School?? (And some funny old guy in red...)

You can't get better acoustics anywhere in the world than at the caves - the sound is awesome. (Except if I was singing...)!

Caves House. Just being at the Jenolan Caves always reminds me of Matlock, in Derbyshire for some reason - a place I always enjoyed visiting.

It's hard to capture the wonder of the caves and all the incredible rock formations, and underground river which glowed a pale blue due to the chrystals. Our guide was very informative and told us some fascinating stories....don't want to spoil it for you - just visit the caves!!

The performers at the concert appeared in various spots right up in the grand archway - and with the special lighting and sound, added to the surreal atmosphere.

There was even a little Christmas market & musicians during the day which they are hoping will get bigger & better each year.

Donna Hay Magazine

Here's one magazine worth buying - the Donna Hay Christmas magazine. There's some great festive treats including the special icecream recipe on the cover - great for Christmas 'down under', as well as some yummy macadamia cookies and heaps more....

Christmas Table

I love setting the table nice for special occasions - especially Christmas this year, as its the first one we've had at home for a few years. We're usually camping by the Hawkesbury River.
It doesn't have to cost the earth - I like the challenge of looking for alternative ways of doing things while pinching idea's from the glossy mags. (Then I put them back on the shelf!! - I'll be banned from the newsagents sooner or later)

A piece of old lace (read net curtain) plain white tablecloth and a piece of blue & white fabric - Spotlight sales are great for these.

An old teapot and some foil wrapped chocolate hearts & coins, sugared almonds and candy canes complete the setting with some scented candles, and wired -blue -beads (check local $2 shops) wrapped around some napkins.

Olivers Chocolate Pudding

This is our all-time favourite family when we had our roast turkey dinner yesterday there was only one choice for pudding; (none of us like the traditional plum pud!) and its alot quicker & easier to make.
You need 1 cup Self Raising Flour, 2 tbsns cocoa, 125g butter, 1 cup caster sugar, 2 eggs, half tspn vanilla and 2 tspsns milk.
You;- sift the flour & cocoa onto a plate. Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs & vanilla. Fold in flour & milk. Spoon into dish (I use a large ceramic bowl - you need plenty of space for it to rise). Spread top evenly.
You then pour a chocolate sauce onto the top of the mixture. You need 1 cup soft brown sugar & 2 level tbspns cocoa. Mix together and stir in 8 fl oz hot water - stir until smooth then pour over cake mix. Bake 190 degrees c for about 40 mins. Serves 6. This is lovely served in little teacups with fresh cream or icecream.

Scents of Christmas

This was my Kris Kringle pressie from work - so of course, I had to make a special trip... to the candle shop in Leura. (one of mums favourites too)!

Vanilla & Nutmeg candles for the table.

...And these lovely Berry & Honey Sorbet candles for the glass votive.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Bonfire Toffee

I can almost smell the night air of November 5th when I munch on this delicious toffee that Bec made for my birthday. There's an excitement that's hard to describe about bonfire night in England and next to Christmas, is probably the day I miss most.
You need 4 tbspn water, 100g butter, 300g raw sugar, 2 level tbspns golden syrup, 1 level tbspn black treacle.
You;- put all the ingredients into a pan. Heat slowly, stirring, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan. Boil gently for 2 mins. Uncover. Continute to boil, stirring occasionally for 10-15 mins (or until a little of the mixture dropped into a cup of cold water seperates into hard & brittle threads). Pour into a buttered 6" square tin. Leave until hard. Turn out onto a board. Break up with a small hammer. Enjoy!!

My Treasures

Here's the amazing windchimes that Zac made for me at school, in metalwork class. They make a beautiful sound when the breeze catches them; he was so proud of his hard work that he woke me up really early 'cause he couldn't wait any longer to hand over his precious gift! That's love for you!!

This beautiful knitted angel was sent to me from my cousin Sue in the UK. I love handmade crafts - they're my greatest treasures. The little bells on her shoes really finish her outfit off.

Check these awesome shoes out - they're actually made of clay; mum sent them from NZ; I was totally gob-smacked by the detail in them, I'm sure I had a pair similar when I was little.

So I'm feeling very spoilt, and very grateful that my life is filled with such loving, caring and big-hearted folks - thank you, and I love you very much.

My Birthday!

Not telling....don't ask...I've stopped counting anyway.
I got some lovely cards and flowers; Bec made me some bonfire toffee - which always brings back wonderful memories for me of November 5th in England; Guy Fawkes night. I'll post the recipe - its very addictive stuff! Zac made me a lovely windchime in metalwork at school, and Dan got me an apple ipod - which is the best invention ever (once he showed me how to use it) as I can now listen to all my favourite music without having to switch cd's; the best feature being that it plays all the songs randomly. With a new camera off my wonderful hubby, I don't mind getting older if birthdays are as good as this one!!

More Shortbread

If you want to make the 'traditional' shape, it's very easy to do and you can just use the same recipe as before. Best Ever Shortbread
Cut out 2 x 20cm circles from baking paper and put them onto a baking sheet. Split the shortbread dough in half and roll each half out into a ball. Place it in the middle of a circle and press it out until it covers the baking paper. Pinch the edges, cut into wedges and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for about 35 mins at 160 degrees c. Break into wedges when cool.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Set it free....

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it will always be yours. If it doesn't come back, it was never yours to begin with.
But, if it just sits in your living room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your telephone, takes your money, and doesn't appear to realize that you had set it free...... You either married it or gave birth to it!

Yummy Quiche

Filling enough to make a complete meal, if you use a nice deep quiche dish and serve with a green salad and crunchy bread. Make up two lots of the pastry so you can serve a quick weekend lunch as well as a tasty week night meal. I had some fresh asparagus in the fridge to use up, so I sliced it up and put it on top. Use whatever veggies you have to hand.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees c. In food processor, blitz 1, 1/4 cups plain flour with 1tsp sugar and half tsp salt. Add 125g cold butter, cut into small cubes. Process just until it looks like breadcrumbs. With machine running, add up to 1/4 cup cold water. Stop as soon as dough holds together. Roll into a ball and flatten to a disc. Wrap with cling film and put in fridge while you make filling. Chop 175g rindless bacon and 2 onions. Saute together in 1 tbspn olive oil until golden brown on edges. Meanwhile mix together 6 lge eggs, 300ml cream, half cup milk and a good pinch each of nutmeg & pepper. Roll out pastry to fit, running knife around top of dish to ensure none is overhanging the edge. Place 2 cups of grated tasty cheese into pastry shell, then cooled bacon/onion mixture and finally egg mixture. Bake for 1, 1/4 hours. Allow to cool for at least 15 mins before serving. Great hot or cold.

Best ever Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 160 degrees c. Cream 125g butter and 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar together with electric mixer. Add three eggs, beating well between each one. Fold in 1, 3/4 cups self raising flour and 75g pecans. Stir in 3 mashed bananas, half cup milk and 1 tspn vanilla until combined. Pour in and bake for 1, 1/4 hours or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Rest for 5 mins before turning onto wire rack.

Oh Little Drummer Boy

Little Drummer Boy!

The words and music to the Christmas song Little Drummer Boy was composed by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone in 1958. The lyrics of Little Drummer Boy consist of 21 rum pum pum pum' - a major part of the song and therefore presenting an apparently easy task for the lyricist! However, Little Drummer Boy has been a huge hit for several artists. The most notable rendition was created by the most unlikely combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie. This version of Little Drummer Boy was a massive hit for the artists and was in fact Bing Crosby's most successful recording since the legendary White Christmas.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Home grown Beans

I'm now picking a good handful of beans/peas every couple of days to throw into whatever meal we're preparing; which isn't bad for such a small veggie patch.

The best Shortbread in the World

I don't bother with mince pies or Christmas cake, even though I love them - I'm the only one that will eat them and I don't want to be mistaken for a snowball (not until after Christmas, anyway). But as everyone loves shortbread, I don't mind making a few big batches of this wonderful recipe from Jamie Oliver - very easy.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celcius. Butter a 9" square tin. Cream 250g butter and 3/4 cup of caster sugar until light & fluffy. Add 2 cups sifted plain flour and 1 cup of semolina, cornflour or rice flour (or combination) - whatever you have. Mix very lightly with a wooden spoon and then your hands until you have a smooth dough. Transfer to a floured surface and roll it out until it's about 1" thick all over. Press the dough into your tin, poking it into the corners with your fingers - don't worry about it looking perfect. Prick all over with a fork then stick it in oven for 50 mins until light golden. Sprinkle with more sugar while still warm. Allow it to cool slightly then cut into 12 chunky finger-sized pieces.
You can also add orange/lemon zest, vanilla essence or a bit of lavender to the dough for a yummy twist.

Salvation Army

As they say....thank God for the salvo's. They play carol's every year in our street - I even got to put a request in this year! My absolute favourite carol - 'Little drummer boy'. It was a real treat to sit on the kerb and listen to them play. They do an incredible job though, and are always there to pick up the pieces for those whose lives have fallen apart - no questions asked. They should be acknowledged for being the real heroes in our society....

An Aussie Night Before Christmas By Yvonne Morrison

'Twas the night before Christmas;
there wasn't a sound.
Not a possum was stirring;
no-one was around.
We'd left on the table
some tucker and beer.
hoping that Santa Claus
soon would be here;
We children were snuggled up safe in our beds,
While dreams of pavlova danced round in our heads;
And mum in her nightie, and dad in his shorts,
Had just settled down to watch TV sports,
When outside the house
a mad ruckus arose;
Loud squeaking and banging
woke us from our doze.
We ran to the screen door,
peeked cautiously out,
Snuck onto the deck,
then let out a shout.
Guess what had woken us up
from our snooze,
But a rusty old ute
pulled by eight mighty 'roos.
The cheerful man driving
was giggling with glee,
And we both knew at once
who this plump bloke must be.
Now, I'm telling the truth-it's all dinki-di,
Those eight kangaroos fairly soared through the sky.
Santa leaned out the window to pull at the reins,
And encouraged the 'roos, by calling their names.
'Now, Kylie! Now, Kirsty!
Now, Shazza and Shane!
On, Kipper! On, Skipper!
On, Bazza and Wayne!
Park up on that water tank,
Grab a quick drink,
I'll scoot down the gum tree.
Be back in a wink!'
So up to the tank
those eight kangaroos flew,
With the ute full of toys,
and Santa Claus too.
He slid down the gum tree
and jumped to the ground,
Then in through the window
he sprang with a bound.
He had bright sunburned cheeks
and a milky white beard.
A jolly old joker
was how he appeared.
He wore red stubby shorts
and old thongs on his feet,
And a hat of deep crimson
as shade from the heat.
His eyes - bright as opals -
Oh! how they twinkled!
And, like a goanna,
his skin was quite wrinkled!
His shirt was stretched over
a round bulging belly
Which shook when he moved,
like a plate full of jelly.
A fat sack of prezzies
he flung from his back,
And he looked like a swaggie
unfastening his pack.
He spoke not a word,
but bent down on one knee,
To position our goodies
beneath the Yule tree.
Surfboard and footy-ball shapes
for us two.
And for dad, tongs to use
on the new barbeque.
A mysterious package
he left for our mum,
Then he turned and he winked
and he held up his thumb;
He strolled out on deck and his 'roos came on cue;
Flung his sack in the back and prepared to shoot through.
He bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates -
'Merry Christmas to all, and goodonya, mates!'

It's worth getting the book if you can, as the illustrations, by Kilmeny Niland are just brilliant, and really bring the poem to life; and the kids will want it read to them over and over again (aghh, what am I talking about, stuff the kids - read it out loud to yourself like I do!)

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...

The day I stop getting excited about all the little joys of Christmas is the day I'll keel over...!! (Just wish the kids would stop rolling their eyes)

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Spicy Bean Burgers

Found a new yummy recipe - the kids couldn't believe there was no meat in these burgers - they taste so good. Thanks to Ainsley for this recipe from his low fat cookbook.

....recipe to follow - too tired to blog any more!!
OK - I'm it is.
You'll need the following;- 1 tbspn vegetable oil, 1 smll onion finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, 1 smll hot red chilli finely chopped, 100g frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or just grab some from your garden), 400g can cannellini beans, 50g fresh white breadcrumbs, 1 tspn cumin, 1 tbspn chopped fresh coriander, salt & black pepper, burger buns and salad to serve.
You;- heat a tbspn of oil in a pan and cook onion, garlic cloves, and chilli for 5 mins.
Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach and place in a large bowl. Mash the beans well and mix with the spinach, breadcrumbs, cumin and coriander (or just use curry powder). Add fried onion mixture and stir well.
Season to taste and with slightly wet hands, shape into 4 round burgers and pat dry with kitchen paper. Grill or shallow fry for a few minutes on each side until crisp & golden. Serve in warm or toasted burger buns with salad and low-fat yogurt mixed with fresh chopped herbs, or sour cream. (I needed to make 6 for our lot - so I also added a tin of corn kernels).

Vintage Plates

I finally got around to picking up some old plates for my stand. It comes in handy in our small lounge as there's not enough space for a coffee table - but it's sometimes good to be a couch potato and reach out for a snack. In red and green it fits in with our Christmas theme too!

...only healthy snacks allowed though as Gavin has to watch his cholesterol!!

Summer Garden

Strawberries are doing well.

As are chillies/capsicums

My 'birthday rose' is in full splendour with two weeks to go!

Recent planting - 4 frangipani tree's; all different colours.

I chopped at the comfrey plants with a spade, and they've all started to flower and shoot up all over the place... great for compost.

Tahitian Lime Tree

Another thing I should have mentioned that is vital for seed raising - that is air circulation. This is my little green-house that I keep some shade cloth over for when it gets too hot.

Another good idea with the polystyrene 'kitchen garden' by the front door, is that when the seedlings are ready to be pricked out, you can pop them in this ready-garden for the next stage. They are well protected from predators, they are handy for watering, and you're more likely to keep an eye on them and plant them into the main veggie patch when they are big enough to take care of themselves. I planted out heaps of silverbeet today as I can't seem to grow it fast enough for our needs.
This is the special pumpkin/melon bed (or rather, large compost heap) down the back that is doing so well thanks to all the rain we've had. I use liquid fertiliser on it every week too. exciting!!!

These are the sweet potato (kumera) plants that I put in a few weeks ago.

I'm sure that insect wasn't on the tomato when I took the photo!! Probably a cicada - they're so loud at the moment; and they're empty shells are all over the garden.

Sweetcorn - trying to plant a few new ones every couple of weeks for regular harvest.

So all in all, and especially thanks to all the rain we've had over the last few weeks, the garden is looking wonderful. Eating plenty of fresh lettuce, herbs, beans and snow peas and looking forward to tomatoes, berries, sweetcorn, capsicum hopefully by Christmas.