Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Long Weekend Away - Amamoor State Forest

Over the Australia Day long weekend we managed to get away for a few days camping.  Over the weekend there were a few showers but for the most part it was hot and fine.

We went to Amamoor State Forest which was somewhere new for us and about 2 hours from home. We were really happy with the campground as there was lots of space and it was well maintained, plus the creek was suitable for swimming which was just what was needed on the hot days. 

There are 2 campgrounds, one where we were that allows for dogs and the other dog free plus a day use area that was packed on Australia day with picnicking families.  The campground allows for over 200 people but there were only about 60 people there so there was plenty of space for all.
There are flushing toilets but no showers which we can live without as we have a camping shower and they were really clean and tidy.

Like many campgrounds we have stayed at we found a few of the fire rings and fire pits contained half burnt cans and aluminium foil which we cleaned up.  It is well signed that you need to take your rubbish home but for some reason there are people out there who struggle with this concept and think that burning your rubbish is the answer.  It makes me mad but I am not sure there is a lot I can do about it.

We swam 3 or 4 times a day with our little crocodile dog and it was so nice to cool off in the clear creek.

Our little crocodile

The State Forrest is also the home of the Gympie Music Muster and there are a few permanent structures around.  A couple of them had some sort of vine growing up them that was attracting butterflies by the thousands, in fact there were butterflies everywhere the whole weekend.  It was amazing.

Around the vines the butterflies were swarming and I wish I had a better camera to get a good shot of them but these will have to do.

All the black dots are butterflies and there are about 5 times as many
 as you can see but they are fluttering in front of the foliage.

The Blue Tiger butterflies loved the vine what ever it was.

We also had this little guy hang out on the tent for a few hours.  He really was quite beautiful especially the glassy wings like little pains of glass.

 We also managed to get in a bushwalk early one morning before it got too hot.

How did you spend your long weekend/weekend?

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.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Slow Living December 2014

Wow I am runnig really late with this post, any way better late than never I guess.

Linking up with Linda who is now our gracious host having taken over from Christine in hosting the Slow Living Nine.  I love joining in each month and reflecting on what I have achieved, it is also great to hear what everyone is up to and share in their achievements.
With Christmas this month a lot seemed to revolve around getting ready for the festive season.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
We are still drowning in and eggs so they have made it into many meals lately. We have had lots of ham and salad but finally the ham is nearing the end.

I also made a big batch of Orange and Almond Biscotti.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
This month we started to make a dent in the 379kg of beef in our freezer and the meat quality is fantastic.  There will not be much else getting stockpiled in the freezers for a while as they are full to the brim.  We are even storing meat at Hubby's parents house.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
I am still reducing the clothes I own and sending them off to the op shop for someone else to enjoy.  And I am adding other random items to the box for the Op shop too slowly but surely we are de cluttering the house.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
I have started a search for a good herbal/natural insect repellent so if anyone has any suggestions let me know.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The garden is producing lots of herbs, the zucchini have almost finished due to all the rain creating fungal problems but the cucumbers are coming on, there are spring onions, tomatoes, capsicum, water melon and eggplant.  

And weeds, oh my goodness the weeds and grass are invading and taking over.

Grrr so many weeds

Golden Nugget Water Mellon coming along nicely

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
December was all about creating in the kitchen with new dishes being trialed and sweet treats being created.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I have read a stack of books lately.  One of the was "Free The Bears" whick was a great quick read about an inspirational Australian Grandmother who proves that one person can make big changes to the world we live in.  You can check out the website here.

Enhance Community
This year Hubby and I volunteered at the Opening Ceremony of the Woodford Folk Festival.  In return we received free tickets for one day so we had a great day out soaking in the atmosphere of the festival and listening to some great music.

Our participation in the opening ceremony

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
Well how could you not enjoy December with so many excuses to get together with family and friends.
Hubby and I enjoyed a delicious Christmas Breakfast with my friends Sandra.

My date and goat milk panna cotta with baklava (a Christmas only type of treat)

Hubby and I out for breakfast

Then we spent a great night at a friends farm for New Years Eve.  The hmans and dogs all had a great time.

What have you been up to?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy 2015

Well here we all are in 2015 hopefully well rested after the festive season.  For any readers out there who are in bush fire areas of South Australia or Victoria I hope you and your family are safe and remain so during summer.

We had a lovely low key Xmas with Hubby's family, which was also our nephews first Xmas.  He is just learning to walk so was very pleased with his activity trolley from his grandparents.

Unwrapping with his Mum

Look at me go

I was fortunate to receive some fantastic gifts of things that I wanted and had put on my Santa list.  A Santa list made up of a range of items you would like ensures that your husband and family have the opportunity to choose things that fit into their budget and are items you really want rather than them having to guess and give you something that just creates more clutter in your home.

I received some lovely tapas bowls from my best friend and from Hubby's family 2 books from my list of 5 that I have had on my wish list for a while.

I have already finished "Wild Fermentation" and I will tell you more about that in another post.  I also received some cheese mould for making cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.

Hubby gave me a dehydrator which is something I have wanted for ages so I am looking forward to trying it out.

We really try not to get too carried away with all the Christmas hype and we absolutely do not attend any of the post Christmas sales.  I know that these sales are designed to part you with your money (or max out your credit cards) and encourage frenzied spending where the retailers hope you will get carried along with the hype.
Tonight on the news there was a report that Australians spent 27 Billion dollars on their credit cards alone in December, this is compared to the total spent in all forms in September this year which was 24 Billion dollars.  There were sound bytes from shoppers admitting they had maxed out their credit cards in the post Christmas sales and now they were going to struggle with the expenses of their kids going back to school.  What kind of crazy messed up society things that this behaviour is ok, normal, or acceptable.
Well I for one am sure glad to be someone who is not obsessed with shopping.  We are really trying to minimize unnecessary possessions and although it is not easy I do find that it gets easier with practice.

How was your Christmas?  Did you manage to avoid the Sales?