Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

I would like to wish you all a very joyful Christmas and much happiness and great health in the New Year.
Enjoy your holiday and please take care when travelling.

Happy Christmas,
Love from Sue

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Austin's First Birthday

Our youngest grandchild, Austin, turned 1 yrs old yesterday in Ottawa, what a Love he is...

Much love to you, Austin, from Nana and Grandad in Australia

Just adding this pic of him eating his first birthday cake, it made me laugh

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Knit Before Christmas

I just have to share this with you, it made me laugh and gets better each time I read it...

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
Was unfinished knitting not under the tree.
The stockings weren’t hung by the chimney with care
’cause the heels and the toes had not a stitch there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
but I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep; he was no help at all,
And the sweater for him was six inches too small.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my needles to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tripped over my yarn and fell down with a crash.

The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how much I still had to go.
Out on my lawn, I heard such a noise,
I thought it would wake both dad and the boys.

And though I was tired, my brain was a bit thick,
I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick.
But what I heard then left me perplexed-ed,
For not a name I heard was what I had expected
“move, Ashford; move, Lopi; move, Addie and Clover
Move, Reynolds; move, Starmore; move, Fraylic–move
“Paton, don’t circle round; stand in line.

Come now, you sheep wool work just fine!
I know this is hard; it’s just your first year,
I’d hate to go back to eight tiny reindeer.”
I peered over the sill; what I saw was amazing,
Eight woolly sheep on my lawn all a’grazing.

And then,in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa’s feet coming across the porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet,
And as I turned round, Saint Nick, I did meet.

He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe
And his clothes were handknit from above to below.
A bright Fairisle sweater he wore on his back,
and his toys were all stuffed in an Aran knit sack.
His cap was a wonder of bobbles and lace,
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.

The scarf round his neck could have stretched for a
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
The back of his mittens bore an intricate cable,
And suddenly on one I spied a small label.
SC was duplicate stitched on the cuff,
and I asked “Hey Nick, did you knit all this stuff?”

He proudly replied “Ho-ho-ho, yes I did,
I learned how to knit when I was a kid.”
He was chubby and plump, a quite well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself for I’d thought up a plan.

I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew he was tied to a chair.
He spoke not a word, but looked in his lap
Where I’d laid my needles and yarn for a cap.

He quickly began knitting, first one cap then two;
For the first time I thought I’d really get through.
He put heels on the stockings and toes in some socks
While I sat back drinking Scotch on the rocks!!

So quickly like magic, his needles they flew,
That he was all finished by quarter to two.
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me.
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed past the moon
“Next year start your knitting sometime around June.”

-Author Unknown

Zucchini Pancakes or Fritters

I made these two nights ago and they were tasty and fluffy, quite nice cold too if you have leftovers.

You'll need ...

2-3 cups of grated zucchini
1/2 cup of wholemeal flour
1/4 cup of parmesan or cheddar cheese
3 finely chopped spring onions
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Make a batter by mixing the whole lot together and shallow fry until brown on both sides, serve and enjoy.

This next recipe comes from The Thrifty Kitchen by Suzanne Gibbs and her daughter, Kate Gibbs. I have made a few changes.

Crispy Coconut Oat Biscuits

You'll need

250 gms softened butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 T treacle or golden syrup
1 cup bran, I used oat bran
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup of white flour
1 t baking powder
1 cup of dessicated coconut
1/2 cup seeds or chopped nuts
1/2 cup sultanas

Cream the butter and work in the sugar, egg and treacle or syrup
Fold in the remaining ingredients and knead lightly
Shape into golf ball sized balls and place on greased trays, press lightly
Bake at 180C for around 20 minutes

I made 20 last time and they are lovely big biscuits which freeze well.

Speaking of food have you tried Narelle's Apricot Slice yet? It lasts well, requires no cooking and makes a beautiful gift, my apricots are waiting in the pantry! I can't believe I don't have a photo but you can enjoy looking at Narelle's pics :)

I'm laughing because a certain Funny Bunny just ran in here as fast as he could and went straight back out again! Yesterday I spent some time looking at vintage rabbit images on-line...this one was painted in 1503, it's a hare I believe and I really like it...Elizabeth is painting Twitch at the moment but having lots of trouble with the variations of colour in his coat. I can't wait 'til she's finished.

Bye bye for now,
Love from Sue

Monday, 17 December 2012

Santa Came to Tee-ball

As it was the last matches before a Christmas and summer holiday break a special visitor arrived on a huge shiny motor bike...he parked the bike and shouted "Hallo everybody" and then broke into a gangnam style dance much to our he lined up the two teams and wished them a very happy Christmas before tossing a big bag of lollies/sweets to each child and a fair few of their younger siblings;

Jess waits her turn, Ally and Olivia are just behind her...

Our wonderful couch, Caroline Crouch, had already given out bags containing chocs, sweets and a huge balloon and the season ended on a high note.

I can't thank Caroline and the other coaches enough for all the hours they put in voluntarily  to make childrens' sports a reality. They are a fantastic!!

Enjoy your week,

Thursday, 13 December 2012

December 12, 2012

It was my birthday yesterday...12/12/12. I was born in 1956 and turned 56 yrs of age...the numbers were very unique. It was also our 11th Wedding Anniversary and despite some-one only "giving us 6 months" we've never been closer.

Thunderstorms were forecast but we went out anyway, up to the New Moon Restaurant in Northbridge for a Dim Sum lunch. We were seated quickly and served green tea and then the dishes started coming. Ginger duck, chicken and mushroom in a steamed rice parcel wrapped in a lotus leaf, chilli mussels, steamed pork dumplings and almond and prawn was all delicious and eaten too quickly to photograph, sorry!

Then we walked up to the State Library. They sell their unwanted books so we browsed through them but at $6 and $8 each they were still too expensive. I loved their Christmas Tree however...

Some of the books for sale...

It began to rain heavily while we were in there so we scuttled across to the Art Gallery...

An animated French film was playing on the big screen outside PICA... we paused to watch for a minute or two...

The Art Gallery itself was wonderful as always but the gift shop prices astound me, $675 for a 60cm wooden horse made of blocks??? $199 for a wire rabbit?

Back on the train it appeared that a huge storm front was following us home...the sky was breath-taking as the forks of lightening crackled through the layers. When we got home I grabbed the camera and took a few pics...

and lastly what grand-daughters do when they come for a quick visit...they are both fascinated by my sewing table and pins and needles and sorted my pin cushion...

Hope your week is going well,
Love from Sue

Monday, 10 December 2012

Santa, Santa In Your Sleigh

...goodness me, I loved this the first time I saw it ages ago...the Archbishop of Perth posted it in a local newspaper...

Christmas Tree

It's taken 2 days to put the tree up this year as I lost interest on Day 1 after I'd set up the actual tree. Joe helped by hanging an ornament on it !! Day 2 and I had much pleasure unwrapping the many hand-made decorations and remembering how they came to be here...

Some-one we know and love was most intrigued..."You're setting a tree up inside just for me?" He nibbled a few leaves before realising they were plastic and he even pulled an ornament off! Yesterday he just snoozed under there as if it always been here in the house...

It's shopping day today, Gordie and I are going out to Spud Shed in Baldivis as their prices are so very good and the range of fruit and vegies is huge. They've bought a mango farm in the north-west so have been selling nice mangos for 50cents each recently, potatoes are 69c/kilo as opposed to $3 in the supermarkets!

This afternoon Joe has an appointment in Fremantle and he wants to have a walk around the shops etc so that will make a change for us home-bodies.

Do enjoy your week,
Love from Sue

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Drive To Narrogin

On Thursday I went with Gordon, Jess and Livvie to the funeral of an elderly relative in Narrogin. It's almost 200kms from here, up through the Darling Ranges at Jarrahdale and then down the Albany Highway to Williams. After many miles of driving through jarrah forests it was delightful to see the first fields of wheat and realise that we'd entered Western Australia's vast wheatbelt.

We stopped for a short break at a roadhouse that has these two gentle alpacas and took a few photos...Olivia was cautious at first...

This is the bridge and the Albany Highway... the countryside is already very dry

I took 3 photos at the cemetery, it's hard to convey the heat, dryness, utter stillness and quiet, no buildings in sight and it is still a beautiful place in it's own right, Narrogin averages 44C in February ...

Went to tee-ball yesterday and Olivia won an encouragement award, she is a very quiet achiever and quite different from Jessie, both are equally wonderful ;)

I haven't posted for a few days after reaching my space limit on Blogger so have taken the plunge and bought some more GBs. Others have been removing photos and re-sizing them but I really didn't want to do that so I should be safe for another 10 years now!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend,
Love from Sue

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Thai Red Curry Paste

We had family holidays in Bangkok and Phuket over 20 years ago and the happy memories of fresh and fragrant meals has always lingered. Tastes of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar and chillies which are carefully balanced to produce unique dishes.

I've never made my own curry paste as some of the ingredients are hard to find but this recipe from AboutThaiFood looks quite do-able. There are also green and yellow pastes as well as massaman from the south which has added spices.
As well as being the flavour base for luscious curries made with coconut milk the pastes can be added to omelettes, used as a marinade and added to fried rice.

Last night I made some basic meat patties/burgers, simply mixed these ingredients together and shallow fried them, they are wonderful on the BBQ too.

500gms of minced meat, I used beef but any meat will do
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions
2-3 tablespoons of red curry paste
1 teaspoon of fish sauce

What makes them and many other foods very special is this easy condiment...sweet and sour cucumber relish:

boil for one minute the following
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 vinegar
3T water

pour over finely chopped
1/2 a cucumber
1/2 a carrot
1/2 an onion
fresh coriander

Garnish your food with chopped peanuts, fresh herbs and serve with jasmine rice for a very different and delicious summer time meal.

Another special treat to use some red curry paste is the Thai fish cake called Tod Man Pla...

500gms of white fish fillets
1 egg
2 T red curry paste
1 t sugar
1-2 t fish sauce

Process this until you have a smooth paste and mix in a very finely sliced spring onion and 1/2 cup of very finely sliced green beans/french beans, the Thais use snake beans!
Shape into patties and shallow fry, again serve these with the cucumber relish.

There are so many wonder Thai recipes that you can easily make at home. I find them especially good in summer when appetites are jaded by the heat. Look on-line for recipes or bring home some cookery books from the library...happy eating!

Love from Sue

PS the photos are actually Mum's taken in Kota Kinabalu!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Camila and her Tibetan Singing Bowls

We had a very enjoyable visit yesterday. Our friend, Camila, is off to India next week for several months to join a yoga and meditation retreat so she came to say goodbye and also to show us these amazing singing bowls. Camila is learning how to use the vibrations from the bowls as a massage technique, their sound is so hauntingly beautiful and I'm sure a massage would be an incredibly relaxing experience.
After 7 years of study, interrupted often by overseas travel, Camila has gained her degree in psychology and continues to seek and question much of Life. She and Joe played a game of chess after we'd enjoyed tea and cake and a demonstration of of her wonderful Tibetan singing bowls and a sweet little South African thumb piano.

I took a few photos...

Joe feeling the vibrations through his hand...

Camila placed the kalimba or thumb piano on her closed up wooden chess board to get a better sound...

As well as bringing her own interesting experiences to share with us Camila was keen to know how we spend our days as retirees. When I explained how involved I am with the DTW forums and simple living she was very interested and will come and learn to make soap and do some simple sewing with me when she comes back next year. Rhonda's whole orange cake was much enjoyed too ;)

So with a hug (and some soap and a knitted washcloth to enjoy) she was gone. We'll follow her travels through facebook and wish her every joy in India.

Do you have plans for the weekend? We've had 3 days of storms which is so unseasonal but they seem to clearing now so a little gardening is on my agenda.
Bye bye for now,
Love from Sue

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Home-made Sandwich Meat

Being French and Canadian means Joe has a deep abiding love for what he calls "cold cuts". As you see from my link they also contain ickiness in the form of nitrates, animals fats and too much salt so I have been wanting to make something at home to satisfy his taste buds and my conscience.

Becci recently made some devon at home following Gooseberry Jam's recipe but I was put off by having to cook it for 90 minutes. Her blog post is interesting as she talks about the different names this product has in different states.
I made this haslet recently but left too much milk in the bread so the texture was rather soft. What I did learn and like was that by processing the ingredients I got the texture I was after, rather like sausage meat.
Yesterday Joe picked up a pack of sausage meat at Spud Shed, he wanted to use some for patties for his was really hard to read the label and then it was really hard to believe it contained 76% total fats! That went back!

So to cut a long story short I came up with this and am very pleased. It probably cost about $10 per kilo to make but we know what's in it and I'll make it again for sure.

 You'll need...
500 minced pork(or your choice of meat)
1/2 cup of chopped bacon
1/2 cup mixed vegies(I used frozen peas/corn/capsicum)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
pinch of nutmeg
plenty of pepper
pinch of salt
1 T apple juice...any juice will do I bet!
1/2 a small onion, chopped
3 chopped cloves of garlic
2 T chopped red capsicum.

Gently fry the onion, capsicum and garlic in a little oil until soft but not brown
Process everything together in the food processor, you want a thick, paste-like consistency
Scrape into a greased loaf pan, cover with foil and bake at 180C for about 45 mins.
Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes
I baked some potatoes alongside it and we ate the loaf hot last night with vegetables
Now that it is cold it is easy to slice and makes a delicious's my lunch, I added a little mild mustard and it was very good.

This post is late today as we had no internet access until about 10.30am when Joe finally re-set everything. It drives me nuts not being able to do that myself.

Hope you're having a good start to your week,
Love from Sue

Monday, 26 November 2012

Christmas Decoration Swap

This year we held our 4th Down To Earth Christmas Decoration swap. Interested members put their names down and the original idea was to create a decoration for tree or ornament for under $5 and post it off to your partner. The emphasis is still on hand-made and frugal and the quality of the decorations is just wonderful. Members can use any medium they're comfortable with such as paper/card/fabric/yarn/beads and glued, knit, crocheted and sewn gifts are the result.

Marnie (Noonee Wilga) was my swap partner this year, she likes to recycle fabrics and papers and came up with these delightful ornaments...I couldn't stop smiling when my package arrived. Marnie also shared the link to the knitted stocking and to some very cute knitted mini jumpers for the tree.

I got busy with my felt scraps and embroidery threads and came up with these to send to her...I forgot to take a photo so have used the one Marnie posted at the forum...I popped washcloth and some soap in too as an extra treat ;)

The owl is from a free pattern available at Juicy Bits Blog  and I drew the other three on paper and made my own pattern after seeing similar items on line. Wee Folk Art are very inspiring.

Tomorrow it will be five week until Christmas, are you making hand-made gifts, cards, tableware?
We're going to really get busy sharing our Christmas ideas at the forum starting today. The mods have come up with some brilliant ideas to share so if you still haven't joined and are looking for inspiration for a calmer, greener and thriftier Christmas you can click on the DTE badge on the right of this page. It's free and the members are truly lovely.

Getting exciting!
Have a wonderful week

Noonee Wilga is Marnie's business name, she is a very busy and talented lady

Friday, 23 November 2012

Priscilla's Journey

Priscilla has updated her blog today, reminding us that it's 12 months today since her initial diagnosis. So much time has been spent in limbo waiting for appointments/results/tests/phone calls but through all this she has remained very strong and got on with making the most of her life.

Let's hope that the next 12 months show a complete recovery...that would be fair methinks!

  Priss's hair is growing back strong and curly and she feels so much better for the loss in weight and better diet thanks to her pal, Shanna.
Megan and Kyra(wearing fairy wings) enjoy Trick or Treating at the local shopping centre while Mommy checks her phone.

Your messages of support and love have helped us all enormously  this last year, no-one could go through this alone so thank you from all our family.

Love from Sue