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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sweat like you mean it…

So…the word is, I’m exercising.

Two days ago I went for my first running interval training session. I got home exhausted and ravenous. I raided the fridge all Nigella-esque midnight feast style and demolished a left-over roast chicken. I’m not sure if that defeated the point of going in the first place.

Tonight I returned home even more exhausted and with aching muscles everywhere. Are you supposed to get sore shoulders when you go jogging? It seems totally ridiculous to me.

Anyway, tonight I resisted the alluring calls of the fridge and sat down to do a quick email check before hitting the showers. Whilst waiting for the inbox icon to tell me if I had any new mail, the most incredible thing happened….I felt a trickle down my back. At first I thought it was just a clothes label tickling me….but oh no peeps, this was a real life sweat trickle. I was sweating like a real-life jogging girl!!!

I worked pretty hard to get that sweat happening….holla!

P to the S… and before you’re all like, whatevs – I sweat when I hang the washing out. I’m simply not a sweaty person. So this, my friends…is big. 

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Kugel Who?

Hot on the heels of the declaration of my new running career…today I have indulged in yet another chocolate cake. Sigh. This is the last of them, promise. Last night I made rich chocolate kugelhopf cake for my friend’s birthday today.

It was a great way to end my indulgent indulging. Happy Birthday Storm!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Couch to 5k – Week 1

Whoever coined the phrase “couch potato” must have been talking about me. I have a well defined ass-groove carved into my recliner. It loves me and I love it. It’s a sweet pillowy heaven that hugs my shapely curves.  Have I painted a vivid enough picture yet? Good. Well, very soon my loving recliner is about to feel the icey coldness of my absence. Yes, that’s right. I’m starting an exercise regime!

Throughout my entire existence I have been prone to fits and bursts of enthusiastic exercise obsessions. In my (much) younger days I played netball for quite a few years. I played the Centre position…very fitting as I don’t mind being the centre of attention most of the time. Our team was called the Kitty Kats and after each game, our coaches gave each player a mini Kit Kat chocolate. I won’t lie and say that it wasn’t a large motivation for playing. But what kind of message was that sending a young, impressionable, budding athlete? Exercise like a crazy person and then eat chocolate? I’m telling you it must have stuck because I seem to reward myself the same way these days (minus the exercise).

That's me at the peak of my athletic career...with the big C on my bib.

So the truth is I’m getting older. And my body doesn’t seem to bounce back from eating binges the way it used to. Enter….technology! Today I downloaded the Ease Into 5k app. Its designed to get me from the warm embrace of the couch, to running 5 km’s in just 8 short weeks. I’m going to tell you straight up this body is not the body of a runner. But I won’t let that stop me. Uh ah, no way.

Starting tomorrow…(tonight I have to cook a chocolate cake for my friends birthday and yes I will lick the bowl) I will be lacing up my runners for the first of my runs/walks/panting/hobbling home exercise.

Wait! What’s that I hear? It’s the eye of the tiger, its the thrill of the fight….

Wish me luck blog-o-sphere!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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5 Life Lessons I Want My Kids To Learn

Ok….so I don’t have any children. Not yet anyway. But I plan on having a couple someday and there are a few vital life lessons I want to teach them. For all of you who are parents reading this, you’ll probably shake your head and say…that girl should never reproduce. Well you could be right, but remember, you have the wisdom of hindsight.

1. Roller Skates Get Brothers Into Trouble

I was once lucky enough to receive a pair of white roller skates with hot pink wheels. I thought they were the bomb diggity. But the very first time I wore them I had a massive, calamitous fall and not only grazed my knee severely but also scraped my roller skates. Not even a day old and they were ruined.

Subsequently, bad things would happen when I wore them. Once skating around and my Nanna’s house, my younger brother was poking around in the bushes and found a big, wild rat. Not content to leave it alone, it bit him on the hand in the soft fleshy part between your thumb and forefinger. And it didn’t let go. So there was my bro, screaming madly and turning around in a circle trying to shake the rat loose. I was on my roller skates and was flailing around wildly not sure what to do. I had to skate away to find my Nanna. By the time I got to her, the rat was gone and my brother had to go to hospital for a tetanus shot.

Another time, I was happily skating around at home while the same brother was playing around with an ant’s nest and petrol. All of a sudden a big fireball went up and the flames were making a bee-line for my brother holding a petrol can. I had to skate around the front of the house were my parents were to raise the alarm…have you ever tried skating on grass? It doesn’t work so well.

My skates have retired to a box marked – Troublesome Roller Skates (do not wear).

2. Getting Hurt Builds Character

Ok so I’m not advocating you let your kids deliberately get hurt. But hopefully I’ll be able to let my kids be adventurous without fear. Fear is such a disabler.

Given room to fly...

At a very young age we were encouraged to learn how to ride motorbikes, build tree-houses, drive an old beat up mini-moke around the property, water ski, play in the dirt and generally let our imaginations run wild. My brothers once built a homemade skate ramp out of old tin (yes, obligatory eye roll for the danger which lies ahead). It was an accident waiting to happen with its dodgy engineering and razor-sharp edges. I was the one who ran up it, slipped and put a rather large gash in my thigh. I still have the scar to prove it.

My older brother also dislocated both my shoulders whilst trying to show me some karate moves. But that’s a whole other story. (Thanks Karate Kid movies, thanks a lot).

3. Working Hard Isn’t Always About the Money

My parents worked incredibly hard to turn 5 acres of dirt into a wonderful family home. For over 20 years they landscaped the gardens and turned it into a beautiful place full of serenity. A lot of my childhood was spent helping them. We’d pick up rocks (oh the rocks) to make long rambling rock walls. We’d help make garden beds, trim trees, wheel dirt from here to there. At the time I didn’t see the sense in it but when they sold it only 5 years ago, they left behind not just a house but a magic place full of wonderful memories….and thousands of rocks.

We never got paid pocket-money to do that work. We were doing it to contribute to our family environment. Subsequently, I’m leaving some backbreaking work for my kids to do when they eventually come along. I see….in-ground swimming pool – dug by hand. (Encino Man anyone?)

4. No-one Likes a Dry Spring Roll

My parents were dinner party royalty. I have fantastic memories of them hosting glamorous dinner parties in typical 80’s flamboyance. Particularly seafood Mornay served in half seashells. Ooh la la! But they encouraged experimentation in the kitchen and loved to get us involved.

One of my earliest kitchen memories is of me standing on a chair to reach the large wooden chopping block. Me up one end and my mother up the other. It was spring roll making time! Mum would get the spring roll mix together and I would be in charge of keeping those spring roll wrappers moist! It was important job which involved a tea towel and a water spray bottle. Mum and I were a well oiled spring-roll-making-machine! A double act which continued throughout the years.

I contribute my love of cooking and dinner parties to them. Something I will hopefully pass on to my kids.

5. Flat Tyres Are the Least of Your Problems

When I was 17 and got my provisional licence I convinced my parents to let me take my girlfriends on a road trip to the coast. They were hesitant but finally agreed. I asked my father to show me how to change a flat tyre if I got one on the trip. I memorised that procedure like a madwoman.

My first car - 1979 Corolla

Thankfully the road trip produced no flat tyres. It did however, wield a broken starter motor. Which basically meant that turning the key would not start the engine. The entire trip home was spent push-starting the car to get it going. I had to put the car into second gear, hold down the clutch and get my girlfriends to push the car fast enough to let the clutch out which would hopefully bring the engine to life. A complete embarrassment for a bunch of 17-year-old girls. But you know how I knew how to do that? My formative years of being allowed to drive an old beat up car around our property, that’s how.

Yes yes, I know not everyone can learn to drive at age 10…but what I’m saying is, the more I can hopefully expose my children to, the better equipped I hope they are to take on the unexpected challenges that life throws at them.

So, big words coming from a childless woman right? Check back in on me in a few years….we’ll see how my life lessons are panning out. Viva la roller skates!!!

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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I am the undead.

Well I felt a bit like that yesterday – I was at home sick. I sat in my soft clothes (those clothes that are the most comfiest and softest of all) on the couch under my homemade quilt. I dedicated my day to the tv hoping I would find some escapism there. I ended up watching the following movies:

  • Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (Sooooo dramatically angsty and over the top. Whatever, I’m still Team Jacob)
  • Abduction (Continuing my Taylor Lautner fest….he was the only good thing about that movie)
  • Zombies of Mass Destruction (Oh Lord…see below)
  • The Changeling (I only watched 30 mins of this one when it was nearly at the end. That was 30 mins too long)

Zombies of Mass Destruction – I managed to watch the entire 89 minutes of this movie. I even had a bonafide ‘laugh out loud’ moment when the first zombie attacked without warning, fantastic. But other than that, it was pretty terrible. But isn’t that what a good zombie flick is all about?

I have a slight fascination with the undead. Well specifically, the zombification undead…not neccesarily the vamparific undead. Although I like them too. I try to imagine what I would do if my little town went all hungry for brains on me. Like would I stay at home and board all the windows and doors up, hoping to be rescued? Or would I go all militia on their arses and find a sawn off shotgun? I’d like to think I’d do what was necessary.

So as far as I can tell, there are two types of zombies:-

  1. The slow-moving, slow thinking, falling apart at the seams zombie; and
  2. The incredibly fast, incredibly strong (still a bit brain-dead – ha ha) zombie.

There are a lot of classic zombie films but I’m going to look at a few I like…and one of the best has got to be Shaun of the Dead. Besides my slight crush on Simon Pegg…this movie is hilariously funny and takes the mick out of the genre. Zombie Type – slow-moving.

What about the Resident Evil franchise? I’ll happily waste a couple of hours watching Mila Jovovich kick some butt. Does that woman ever age? And won’t the Umbrella Corporation ever learn from its mistakes? I don’t think so…we’re getting ready for the fifth installment of that one. Zombie Type –  fast-moving.

Of course I also got in on the 28 Days Later action and the subsequent 28 Weeks Later follow-up. I think what we learnt from that one is, those zombies will starve to death given the appropriate amount of time. So definitely find a place to hole up for a month. Zombie Type – fast-moving.

What’s next….ok how about a Will Smith hero action zombie thriller I Am Legend? What makes this one different is poor Will is left all alone in the world with only his dog for company. And those undead don’t like the light. The first time I saw this movie I definitely was glad a deadly global virus hadn’t taken over. It scared the bejesus outta me. Zombie Type – fast-moving.

And lastly – Zombieland. I stumbled across this one accidentally and I totally give it two dead thumbs up. It’s a zombie flick for those of you with a quick wit and dry sense of humour. I loved Woody Harrelson in this. Zombie Type – fast-moving.

So kids, what have we learnt from all this?

  1. Keep a good store of dry goods in your pantry;
  2. Learn how to use a weapon for self-defence (slow-moving zombies can be killed with vinyl records);
  3. Know how to spot the signs of the burgeoning undead…blank stare, pallid blotchy skin, a penchant for human flesh;
  4. Do what’s necessary to survive. Once your best friend, husband or sister turns…they aren’t really themselves anymore and will substantially benefit from a swift beheading.

Stay alert, stay human.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Tune In...

 

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I’m green…like the Hulk!

Ok, so I’m not turning into a raging green monster with bulging muscles and torn off pants. Well, not right this second anyway (the last week has been debatable). But I am green…with envy.

My good friend has just escaped and gone on a tropical North Queensland holiday for 5 days. And today, whilst I was sitting at my desk, looking out to rainy miserable weather, she thought she’d send me messages with pictures of her swimming under a waterfall, wearing summer clothes and generally having a super fun time. I’m ecstatically happy for her but feel its rather dud that I’m not on my own tropical holiday.

The only thing I could think which may cheer me up some, was to look back at some pictures of my own north Queensland holiday…and pretend I was still there. So here is a picture of me and a friend scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. The groper fish is particularly charming but looks like he’s rolling his eyes at yet another telly tubby looking tourist. Pffft! (I’m the one on the right…in case you couldn’t tell).

Holy mother of coral! Here comes another one!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Its a pirate pants kind of day.

Ahoy there m’hearties!! What the heck are pirate pants?

Well really they’re called Thai fisherman’s pants. But someone in this house (and as there is only two of us, you can guess who that is) has nicknamed them pirate pants instead. This morning I put them on and walked out to be greeted with “how ya goin’ pirate pants?”

So why is it a pirate pants kind of day? Well, as your becoming accustomed, here is the list…

  1. They are unbelievably comfortable. And today is Saturday and I don’t have to leave the house…for anything.
  2. They allow for a lot of aeration so they’re perfect for when its warm.
  3. It is warm! Today has a tropical feel about it. The temperature is beautiful, if not a little steamy, and its threatening to storm.
  4. They are one size fits all…so no matter if I’m having a fat day or thin day, they work.
  5. They’re easy to dance in. Yep, pirate pants allow for customary “clean up the kitchen” dancing.

In case you’re still scratching your head. Here is the real 411 on them. Thanks Wikipedia…

Thai fisherman pants are lightweight unisex trousers that are made very wide in the waist, one size fits all. The additional material is wrapped around the waist and tied to form a belt. They are usually made of cotton or rayon. Although traditionally used by fishermen in Thailand, they have become popular among others for casual, beach, and exercise wear as well as for backpackers and pregnancy.

An unexpected bonus from writing this post is that I found a pattern to make my own pirate pants! Stay tuned for that friends.

 

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Holly Hobby

 

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Get in on my tart action!

No seriously, you’ll want to.

So here’s the story. My friend has started hardcore fundraising for the RSPCA. She bakes sweet treats and sells them at our place of work and donates all the proceeds to the charity. As I love ‘fluffies’ as one of my friends put it, and baking, I volunteered my services.

CARAMEL TARTS – Makes 12

  • 150g melted butter
  • 240g plain flour
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 20g butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Preheat oven to 180C.

This recipe works really well if you have digital scales and silcon tartlet cases. If you don’t have 12 tartlet cases (silcon or otherwise) you can use a silcon muffin tray.

In a bowl mix melted butter, flour and sugar. Stir until it combines. Divide into 12 portions. There is no need to rest, knead or roll out this dough.

If using individual tart cases, shape each portion into a ball, place in the middle of the tart case and start pushing out the pastry in a circular movement until it covers the entire base. If using the silcon muffin tray, it will take a bit longer to work up the sides and go about halfway. Make sure its not too thin. Bake for 12-15 mins.

To make filling combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a pan over low heat. Stir until smooth and slightly golden. Do not boil.

Fill cases with hot caramel and return to the oven for 5 mins or until caramel browns around the top.

Cool completely before removing from cases. Eat, indulge, smile, happy.

A sweet tart is always worth the effort.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin!

My friend has the loveliest herd of goats. The littlest one is called Emily-Lucy. She’s very cute but doesn’t like posing for the camera. However, this guy couldn’t get enough. I didn’t know goats had chinny hairs.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Holly Hobby

 

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Pear & Apple Paste – Make Your Own Fruit Cheese

If you love a good cheese platter…then don’t stop reading!

For Christmas last year I decided to make some pear and apple paste or fruit cheese. Along the same lines as quince paste, you know, the stuff you serve with a nice strong cheddar or blue cheese? At the time, I didn’t think it was such a great success but still gave it to my nearest and dearest. Little did I know, it would turn out to be such a hit. But more of that later…now on to the making.

A gift of apples...

I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of homegrown apples from my friends tree. She even picked them and delivered them to my door. Thanks Mrs B. She said they were not great eating apples but were fantastic cooking apples. I thought about making my own apple pies or maybe some apple sauce but then I remembered  that how great the paste was.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1kg cooking apples (granny smith or the generous friend kind)
  • 1kg firm pears (the green ones not the brown ones)
  • 1kg caster sugar
  • 500g water
  • 1 clove
  • preserving wax (sold in preserving or home-brew stores)
  • small serving pots

You will need to peel, chop and core the apples and the pears. I did this by hand the first time but it took forever. This time, another good friend of mine lent me her little apple peeler thing and it worked an absolute treat!

Apple peeling the easy way.

Works for pears too.

Put the chopped apples and pears into a big pot with the water. Simmer away for about 12-15 mins. Once softened, removed the clove and push through a sieve or blitz in the food processor to get a fine consistency. Measure out the fruit. The recipe says use 750g sugar to 1kg fruit. But I say do it to your taste buds. The first time I used 1kg sugar and yeah, it was sweet but tasted great with strong cheese. This time I forgot to weigh my fruit so guessed and put 750g sugar in.

Return to the heat and bring to the boil and then simmer for 50 mins or until fruit thickens and becomes glossy. Now be careful at this stage because it gets really thick and looks like a volcano erupting. I think its best if you half cover it with a lid. I did sustain a hot apple lava bomb to the face last time.

Its a hot fruit volcano.

Once its cooked out, turn off the heat. Oil your little dishes with some spray or wipe with olive oil. Spoon the mixture in to the pots but leave about 1cm at the top to put on the wax. And make sure there are no high spots, it will make it hard when trying to cover with the wax.

Use lots of different dishes or the same. It really looks good in little espresso cups.

Melt your preserving wax as per the instructions and spoon over the hot fruit. Leave to set. You can then store them in your pantry for up to a year they say. Of course, mine won’t last that long. And I kept mine in the fridge. But that’s up to you. When ready to eat, run a knife around the wax seal and it should pop off.

It takes 3 days for the fruit to set. And last time I tried it at the 3 day mark. And that’s why I thought I failed. It tasted like overly sweet baby food. However, about 6 weeks later I had one lonely pot left so I took it on a trip to visit my little bro. Fearing the worst, we popped the wax seal and tried it. It was DELICIOUS! So that’s the trick, you need to let them sit for at least 6 weeks to develop in flavour. We thoroughly enjoyed it with a kick ass cheese plate.

I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but really it’s not. And because it lasts for such a long time, you could make one big batch a year. Now…will I be able to wait 6 weeks for this lot?

Ooooh la la...the finished product.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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