Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Easter Adventures

We are heading off over the Easter Long weekend for a spot of camping with friends.  We are heading off the a previous camping spot but unlike the photo below I am pretty sure Easter will be a lot busier.  I have handed in all my University assignments and now I can just take some time out and catch up on some reading.

What ever you are doing I wish you safe travels and a period of rest. 

I will see you next week with some updates on our plans to move to New Zealand, because yes things are finally happening.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Is Summer Over Yet?

Is it just me or are you a bit over summer too?

This summer just seems to go on and on here in Queensland and quite frankly it is holding up my favourite season Autumn.

I love the warm but not hot days and cool nights that we get here in Queensland in Autumn and I am hoping that April will bring just that as so far March has failed to deliver.

Sadly the future is looking a little bleak in regards to cooler weather.

How is the weather at your place?

What are you looking forward to in the coming seasons?

Monday, 21 March 2016

Celebrating With Family

Over the weekend we celebrated my nephew Max's second birthday.

He has been attending a few other parties lately for other friends from day care so he was well aware of what a party involved.
In fact he was so excited about his upcoming party that on the day before he was told that it was just one more sleep.  That was all well and good until he had an unexpected afternoon nap and woke up saying "Max party, Max Party".  Whoops.  His parents then had to explain that one more night time sleep until his party. 

We all gathered in a local park in the shade of giant fig trees for a morning tea. Max celebrated with both sets of grandparents, extended family and friends.

Max and his Grandad

My sister in law and brother in law did a great job with the cakes decorating them with Max's favourite TV character Peppa Pig and her friends.  Don't ask me to list them as I am not up on kids TV.

 Max was very pleased with his cake and blew out the candle in one go with out showering the cake in spittle (quite an achievement for a 2 year old).

We were joined by one of Hubby's cousins who was in Australia from the UK and it was lovely to see her and catch up.

Have you celebrated with friends or family recently?

Friday, 11 March 2016

5 Year Bloggaversary

Wow it has been 5 years since I started writing in this space.  I really want to thank everyone who follows, stops by and takes the time to comment.

There is going to be a lot happening for us over the next 12 - 24 months so I hope you stick around for the ride.  Over the next month there will be quite a few big steps forward for us towards our move to NZ and we think that in the next month we might even have a date (well a week) locked in for the move.

Thanks again everyone it means a lot.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Braised Beef with Red Dates

This is a favourite recipe in our house and has never disappointing guests.  It is rich and tasty with lots of shitake mushrooms and Chinese red dates.
Chinese red dates are not related to common dates so if you cannot get hold of them then leave them out.  You can get them in most Asian grocers and they come dried, fresh and candied and may also be known as jujubes.

This dish is best made with a stewing cut of meat that has lots of connective tissue so that the meat is succulent and unctuous.  I used shin beef this time and it was amazing.

These are the dried Chinese red dates and you can see they are nothing like common dates.  They do have small seeds but they are not too hard (a bit like peppercorns but not as big) and I generally let people know to expect them so they do not get a fright.

The recipe uses Chili Bean sauce and I have included a picture so that you know what you are looking for.  It is a really tasty sauce and will add a hint of chilli and lots of flavour to any dish.  Some supermarkets sell it and Asian Grocers.

Traditionally the recipe uses yellow rock sugar but any sugar will do.

Braised Beef with Red Dates

2 Tbs Oil
1 kg Stewing Beef
4 Cloves of Garlic
4 Tbs Grated Ginger
2 Tbs Chilli Bean Sauce
2 Diced Tomatoes
3 Tbs Shaoxing Wine 
2 Tbs Yellow Rock Sugar (or other sugar)
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Oyster Sauce
500 ml Beef stock or water
16 Chinese Red Dates
1 Packet of sliced dried shitake mushrooms

Crush your garlic, grate your ginger, dice your tomatoes and measure all the other ingredients into a bowl.  
Heat a heavy based pan to a medium high heat and dice your beef into large chunks.  Once the pan is hot add the oil and brown the meat in batches and set to the side.  Return all the meat to the pan once browned and then all of the other ingredients.  Bring to the boil then reduce to a low simmer and cook at a low simmer for 2 - 3 hours or until the meat is melting and tender.  When finished the dish is ready the sauce will be reduced and thick.
Serve with rice and steamed Asian greens.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Family History Revamped

Over the weekend Hubby has been doing some restoration work on a 123 year old door knocker and door knob that once graced the door of his grandmothers house.
They were made in England by A Kenrick and Sons, and according to a local restoration company, A Kenrick and Sons had the contract to supply all window and door hardware for the colony (Australia).  Can you imagine?  One company supplying all the door knobs, hinges, window latches and locks for all of Australia.
Sadly that house burnt down in 1994 but Hubby's dad rescued the door knob and knocker and has had them stored away since then.
With our planned move to NZ and our plans to build a new house we have been gifted the door knob and knocker to take with us.

It was in it's raw metal state and thankfully was in amazing condition considering it had been through a house fire and with all the paint burnt off and no rust other than a few little surface spots Hubby had a great place to start his restoration.

The Door Knocker and all its parts - In it's raw metal state

The Door Knob - In it's raw metal state
Each of the parts was given a clean with a wire brush to remove an loose dirt and rust.  The parts were then given a coat of rust converter/primer just to ensure the items were preserved.

The final  coat is a black satin enamel and I think it looks amazing.

Hubby had to be careful not to apply too much paint so as not to loose all the amazing details.

Now we just have to wait for a door to put it on (which hubby is also going to make one we get to NZ) and a house for the door to go in.

Have you restored anything recently?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Back To University

Well it is time for me to hit the books again for another semester so for this first week back I will be absent from here for the next week just while I get back into study mode and get going.

I am still studying by distance through Massey University in NZ and am taking 3 subjects this semester: Writing and Inquiry (an academic writing course), Critical Thinking and Psychology as a Natural Science.

I am still working as well so hence I need a week to get back into a routine and working out how I am going to fit it all in.

See you in a week.