Thursday, 22 January 2015

A Book Giveaway - Affluenza

A few years ago I posted this post where I had a bit of a rant on my soap box and I discussed the Book 'Affluenza'.  If you haven't read it and would like to then this is your chance.

Last weekend my friend Sandra and I attended the Life Line book fest in Brisbane and I picked a a copy that looks like it has never been opened let alone read.

So if you would like to go into the draw to win this copy all you have to do is leave a comment about the way that you hate advertising/marketing manipulating us to believe we need unnecessary products in our lives.

For me my most recent infuriation is a new Dettol ad for antibacterial hand wash in schools. Ahhh what happened to good old fashioned soap and water.

I will be drawing the winner at the end of the month so make sure you comment before then.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Reducing Commitments

This year we have a lot of plans and are going to be making a lot of decisions about our move to New Zealand.
We do not have a definite time frame for the move but there is still a lot going on in preparation including selling our current home, finalising plans for our New Zealand home, reducing our possessions as there are many things we cannot take, and a whole lot of other things.  We are really trying to sort things out now rather that having to do it all right before we move.

Over the last week I have sorted out all the garden pots that I have.  They have all been washed and sorted into sizes ready to go to new homes.  I have already given all of the my tube stock pots to our local Landcare group, some large pots to a friend and a few to my father in law.  But there are plenty more to give away.

Because of all the different things that are or will be going on this year I have had to make the hard decision to reduce all of the community activities that I have participated in in the past.  In short I am simplifying my life.

The biggest thing I am giving up is the Classic Car show that I have been the event director of for the past 4 years.  I will still be available to the committee for them to check in on how things are done, or processes that I followed but for the most part I will be handing the baton on and trying to let others do it their way which I know will be quite tricky.

It was really hard to decide to give these things up but in some ways it has been a bit of a relief that there are a few less thing to juggle this year which reinforces the fact that it was the right decision.

Have you decided to give any thing up this year to focus on other things?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Super Summer Salad

I made this salad for Christmas and it was a hit.  I have made it again since and it was well received as well so I thought I would share it with you all as well.

Super Summer Salad

1 Cup of Cooked and Cooled Quinoa
A few handfuls of Rocket
1/2 Lebanese Cucumber
1/2 Avocado Diced
2 Nectarines Sliced
Feta Crumbled
1/4 Cup of chopped Pistachios


2 parts Olive Oil
1 part Balsamic Reduction/Glaze
Pinch of Salt
Ground Pepper

To assemble layer the ingredients in the order listed.  You can make up the quantities for everything as you go along, to your taste or based on the number of people you are catering for.

Just before serving whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.  You can use balsamic vinegar instead of the sweeter reduction or glaze but I like the contrast of the sweeter dressing against the saltiness of the feta.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Palisade Fence Building

In our house I call myself the ideas lady.  This generally means I come up with schemes, plans and ideas that I want to implement, and Hubby get roped into helping me bring these ideas to fruition.

One of my recent ideas was to build a palisade fence behind the garden beside our driveway.  

Hubby was none too enthused about my idea but like a good husband he humored me for a few weeks to see if I was serious and then set about gathering the materials needed for the project.

To start with he installed some rails to support the new fence posts.

Rails up ready to go.

Then he collected gum tree branches from work (he is an arborist) and cut them all to the same length.  These were stacked next to the garage ready to be used.

The raw materials

Then it was on to the assembly with No 1 helper keeping an eye on things (and wondering why we would want to attach good sticks to the fence when we could be throwing them for her).

Checking for size

As we worked we tried to mix up the different thicknesses of the branches and each branch was wired to the top and bottom rail.
By the afternoon we had half the fence completed and I was happy with both the progress and how it was looking.  Hubby was still a bit luke warm about the whole thing, but I assured him it would look great.

Half done and inspection completed by No 1 Helper.

It was the next weekend when we finally got back to it and we worked in the light rain to get it finished which, while a little annoying, was a whole lot better than working in 40 degrees.
I am really pleased with how it turned out and a number of our neighbours have commented how good it looks.

The finished fence.

I think it gives the pond garden a nice backdrop.

The pond Garden with the finished fence.

While it's purpose is not a defensive structure it does stop the neighbours cows and horse from leaning over and eating the plants in the garden, and I think it looks great.

Are you the ideas person in your house?
What kind of projects do you come up with?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Orange And Almond Biscotti

This is such a great recipe and once these are baked they keep for ages, so although you may think you only want to do a half batch make the whole thing as it is much easier to do it all at once.
These biscuits get baked twice once as a log and the second time as individual biscuits.  They can end up quite hard (depending on how long you bake the second time) so you need to be careful eating them so you do not break your teeth, but this makes them perfect for dunking.

Orange and Almond Biscotti

2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
1 Cup of Sugar
The Grated Rind of 1 Orange
2 2/3 Cup Plain Flour + 1/3 Cup Extra Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Raw Almonds

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
In an electric mixer beat the eggs, sugar and grated rind until it is thick and pale.  Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix till almost fully combined then add the almonds then mix till well combined.
Turn mix onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly as you shape into 2 logs.
Place one log on each tray and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 15 - 20 minutes.
Reduce the temperature of your oven to 140 degrees.
Using a very sharp serrated knife slice the logs into 5mm slices and place all but the end pieces (these should be cooked enough already and are ready to enjoy while the rest finish cooking) back on the tray are return to the oven to finish cooking.
Bake for another 20 - 25 minutes (or until dry and crisp) turning half way through cooking time.
When cooked cool on a wire rack.

I like to use a mix of grated and zested rind.

The shaped logs ready for baking
The baked logs cooling waiting to be cut.
These are the just cut biscuits ready for their second baking.
As you can see, from the darker patches, they are still a bit raw in the middle.

I find that if there are some smaller slices these cook quicker and need to be removed sooner.
I use a Victornox steak knife that is really sharp and you need to use a sawing motion trying not to press to hard and let the blade do the work.
Because these are really dry they keep really well in an air tight container.
Warn people before they bite into them you do not want broken teeth on your conscience.