Bye bye birdie

20 May

The best thing about life at the moment…friends, freedom, not being chained to a desk anymore, being fit, being healthy, no stress, new opportunities, challenges, and finally finding happiness again! I am no longer chained to my past. I have exorcised it with a big FU and although this is ongoing and I will always have ups and downs about it but I no longer let it control me. The old bird couldnt fly, but now I will soar!


Almond Rosewater Shortbread

8 Jan

Today was full on in the most relaxing sort of way. We (my running partner, and niece) went for another walk down Barrett’s Lane and had a chat to the lady on the corner who’s chickens keep laying eggs in hidey holes around the garden. I’m thinking a midnight raid might uncover a secret cache of dozens of eggs since she can’t find where they are hiding them. Of course, I wouldn’t! We played spot nature things on the walk back and I made it to 20 as a calf followed us half the way. We (with my niece, not just my running partner and I!) played Bertie the Beetle and each of us made up the rules in turn…which I didn’t win just as an fyi. A stray dog ran into the house terrified when the thunderstorm hit and we spent the next 1.5 hours looking for it’s owner knocking on doors and traipsing up and down the main street of town enquiring at all the main shops…the pub, the cafe… and came back home before venturing to the post office and pie shop. Okay, that’s all the shops there are in this town. The dog took a liking to my running partner and followed him around so obediently we started planning on a new addition to the household. Fortunately once the storm was over and he was well rested he took off home! Water aerobics at the local pool was canceled due to the aforementioned storm and in between I made almond rosewater shortbread. Which is the subject of this post. So, I adulterated the recipe which wasn’t the traditional kourabiedes recipe anyway but rather a simplified version…without the alcohol. And I used high fibre flour and coconut flour instead of plain flour. And they came up a treat. Since they passed my 2 year old nephews taste test I figure they must be good! ‘So, here’s the recipe from, with my substitutions:

180gm soft butter
3/4 cup icing sugar mixture
100gm almond meal
3/4 cup plain flour (here I substituted for half high fibre plain flour and half coconut flour which is easier to digest and mighty tasty!)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp ground cloves
extra icing sugar to dust biscuits

Step 1: Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Line baking trays with baking paper or brush with melted butter to lightly grease. Use an electric beater to beat together the butter and icing sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the almond meal and sift the other flours and ground cloves into the bowl. Stir until well combined.











Step 2: Use your hands to roll heaped tablespoonsful of mixture into logs and shape into crescents by pressing finger into the side and place on prepared trays, about 3cm apart.







Step 3: Bake in preheated oven on shelves 2 and 4, swapping trays halfway through cooking, for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden. Remove from oven.







Step 4: Set aside on trays to cool and firm.








Step 5: Brush shortbreads with rosewater and dust heavily with icing sugar, turning to evenly coat in the sugar. Set aside for a further 30 minutes or until completely cool.













Step 6: And then eat with a cup of tea…I’m making chai!








It’s Time for Glasses – Struggling with Multifocals

20 Oct

About a month ago I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer and went and had my eyes tested. Because being able to see street signs before you’re right on top of them would save me some frustration from having to do u-turns, and others from the frustration of me decreasing my speed suddenly in my attempt to avoid having to do a u-turn. So in the best interests of everyone I had my eyes tested.

This is not the first time I’ve been in to have my peepers checked out though. The first was when I was a young thing (oh, way back then!) when I had a lazy eye. My mum swears the first time it happened was when they arrived home from hospital with my new younger sister. They walked in the door and I looked at them and turned one eye in crazily. I think there was always an inference I was jealous of my sister. I’m pretty sure I was just trying to focus on that little ugly pink monkey they’d strangely decided to bring home. Okay, shes not ugly, and she doesn’t look like a monkey but that’s just between you and me, she doesn’t need to know. Anyway, after some years of wearing a patch and being mortified about said patch because quite frankly it didn’t make me look like a way cool pirate, it just confirmed my nerd status with the rest of my classmates, and then an eye operation to correct the lazy eye, and okay, nerd scale went down and cool scale went up, slightly, after that, and then eye exercises which I only pretended to do because there was no way that lion was going in that cage no matter how many times tried, I finally ended up in glasses at about age fourteen. The thing was I really, really wanted glasses at the time. So I pretended I couldn’t read the letters. And I finally got my wish and they got me glasses. Except I never actually wore them. Because it turns out when you pretend you need them when you don’t you can’t actually see out of them. I’m pretty sure that to this day my mum thinks my eyesight deteriorated because I never wore my glasses as a kid. Turns out though that my deteriorating eyesight had nothing to do with that and everything to do with…getting OLD!


So three years ago I go and see my doc, who is lovely, but his sense of humour amuses him more than me. Okay, I find him pretty funny. Except about the age thing. I tell him I think I need my eyes tested. Well, it could be a good idea at your age he says. Hmmm. So I get a referral to an eye specialist. Who tells me it’s normal to have deterioration at my age. AT MY AGE! But softens the blow by saying I’m still young enough to avoid glasses for the time being and my eyes aren’t that bad. He then let me out the door with blurry vision eye drops in and I had to negotiate my way to the train station through the darkening streets where the street lights became a blurred line of blinding starbursts while a freakish congregation of squawking birds screeched at me as I passed them. I somehow survived this Hitchcock moment and made it to the station without getting run over or pecked to death.

Three years later though and I’m back to the optometrists who tell me I now need specs due to my age related sight deterioration. Age related. At least the old lazy eye not being as strong as my good eye thing is a factor too and its not just about my age. Or maybe it is and I’m just looking for an excuse.

But here’s the thing. I need long and short distance help. So, they put me in a pair of reading glasses and a pair of multi-focals. But I’ve spent the better part of the past four weeks rotating my head from side to side to try and get the focus right through the reading bit. Shame about the crick in my neck. But that’s not important. At least I can see road signs just fine. That bit is great. And I can see through my reading glasses just fine. That bit is great too. It’s just all the other bits. Like trying to see stuff on my dashboard without circling my head around like a game wheel, or reading through the multi-focals without having to turn my head at a weird angle to read through the bottom of them. I noticed this tricky reading through the bottom thing when I picked them up but they assured me it was just about getting used to multi-focals. Except the weird head turning thing didn’t go away after one, two, three or four weeks. I closed my left eye and read out of the right side perfectly. I closed my right eye and couldn’t see a thing. I tried it again. And again. And again. Still blurry. So I got retested. And had the multi-focals realigned. And the script is being adjusted. And I now wait two weeks to see if making me new glasses will help.

So, it’s back to u-turning for a couple of weeks, and I’m now off to see my physio about my hip. Which is NOT age related. Or maybe it is. But if he knows what’s good for him he’ll use words like elite sporting related overuse even if it has more to do with age than any real athletic prowess.


The glasses that work.

Tulip Time

2 Oct

In the outer east of Melbourne there was recently an explosion of colour. Any flower enthusiasts will probably know what I’m talking about. The tulip festival at Tessalaars in Silvan.


At $22 per adult entry, and lacking kids myself I was a lone entry, I thought the price was a bit steep but children under 16 are free so for an outing with the kids its actually pretty good value. The parking was extremely well organised and the colourful flying flags along the roadfront means it’s easy to find as you come along Monbulk Road.

Before you even get inside the gates you will be able to spot the huge array of tulips growing. Reportedly there are over half a million tulips and the color range needs to be seen to be believed. I’ll do my best with a few photos. The nice thing about walking along the tulip beds was that it’s hard to know where to look. Tulips of every colour are on display and dotted thoughout are art intallations from various artists.20140930_105016

There were a huge number of people too, who to my surprise stepped into the flower beds to take photos amongst the tulips. I say surprisingly though because people were respectful of not crushing the flowers and I didnt see any damage as a result. And I must say it’s tempting to climb amongst them for a photo op as the flowers are so beautiful.

And once you tire of looking at the tulips…actually I jest, I reluctantly took leave of them, there’s a range of activities, mostly involving eating as there is no shortsge of food and drink on offer. There’s gift stalls, a concert area from what I could see in the distance, baby animals, and various crafts.

My only disappointment, not being a keen gardener, was that there weren’t any tulip bulbs actually for sale. But since they’re all in flower it’s not really possible to sell the bulbs until the flowering period is over. A brighter spark than me might realise that without having to have it explained!

20140930_110641But having seen them in all their splendid glory I think I might be visiting their website to get some of those bulbs…at the right time of year of course. I think it might be time to consult a gardening almanac!


Winter Woolies

19 Sep

Chunky cream scarves are way cool. Everyone should definitely have one! I’ve had a skein of cream coloured pure wool in my knitting stash for about a year now having bought it at one of my favourite wool shops, Sunspun, which is a small shop in Malvern packed with beautiful wools that cry out for me to purchase them even though I already have more wool than I can possibly knit into anything useful in my lifetime.

So mum took pity on me and bought some lovely cream pure wool (so that I can someday complete my own scarf with the wool I bought) and knitted me a scarf, complete with wool flowers. I am spoilt and my neck is loving my newest wooly accessory in this new bout of freezing Melbourne weather.

The pattern is easy, on size 9 needles. Cast on 27st, kn 3 rows. Row1: knit. Row2: k3, purl to last 3 st, knit 3. Row 3: kn3 (yfd kn 2 tog…) yo last sts. Kn2. Row 4: repeat row 2. Last 2 rows form pattern. Knit 136 cms. Knit 3 rows garter st. Cast off loosely.


Probably not enough time left for this winter but it’s a good time before it gets too hot to get your knit on and create one for next winter!

It’s Tea-time…Again!

12 Sep

I don’t mean to make this blog about tea. But I felt the need to mention a new tea I’ve found at one of my local cafes (The Village Foodstore, if you’re ever in Heathmont I recommend it). So I tried something called Melbourne Breakfast.  I much prefer English Breakfast to Earl Grey. But this Melbourne Breakfast is even better. It helps if you like a slightly sweeter tea. It’s very refreshing for a mid afternoon pick me up.


I’m ready for the rest of the day. Bring it on!

You Can’t Beat Real Chai

11 Sep

Over the years I’ve mentioned my love for Chai on and off. And continuing on from my previous post where I was in Queensland and unable to find a decent cup of chai I thought I would share how I make a cup of chai. I don’t profess to actually making the chai itself but I do consider myself a bit of a chai snob. Because I find there is something extremely satisfying, calming and rewarding in settling down with a pot of chai sipped in contemplation.

IMG_3357So after a disappointing two weeks in sunny Queenland with my favourite person in the world (who, btw, is not a chai lover!)… Let me clarify that. It wasn’t a disappointing two weeks because I was spending it with him. It was a disappointing two weeks because I didn’t have access to making my own chai and had to rely on cafe bought chai lattes, which I knew as soon as I tasted them they were of the powdered or syrup variety. You know that the situation is bad when you find yourself looking for a Gloria Jeans as the best option for a chai latte. Not that there’s anything wrong with their chai, it’s very popular, but it’s not real brewed chai which is my favourite. So even though we had an apartment (our indulgent holiday for 2013 and 2014, not having had a real holiday for two years) we had decided that we would buy food supplies for breakfast and lunch only and everything else we would go out for as it was too difficult to not over-buy ingredients and end up at the end of the fortnight with food left over. The other hindrance is that in a unit like this there are limited kitchen items. Just basic stuff like a dinner setting, glasses, cups, cutlery, a few frypans and saucepans, etc. But nothing extra…like a teapot! So it was out to cafes every time I wanted a chai. And considering the quality of the chai available in the area I wasn’t able to indulge my passion very often as the disappointment was too great.
So, I have come home and consumed a rather large quantity of chai now to make up for it. I use T2 Chai on a regular basis. Over the years I have found other brands which are extremely good as well, usually from specific tea shops rather than commercially made teas in the supermarkets. But I use T2 Chai as my fall back tea for everyday use. Not that I have one every day. I somehow manage to limit it to one or two days a week!
A chai blend is made up of black tea and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and black pepper. And different recipes may add even more spices such as star anise and fennel. And although I profess to being a chai snob I realise that I do take shortcuts by buying an already made up tea/spice blend and not actually brewing it in a saucepan. One day I will make my own blend and brew it on the stove top as per traditional methods but in the meantime I thought I would share how I currently make my tea because it is quick while still maintaining a real chai taste.
I use a teapot with a wire basket to hold the tea blend as I find it the most convenient to clean afterwards. I then fill the wire basket in the teapot with 2 teaspoons of the chai blend, fill the teapot with boiling water, and allow to steep for 4-5 minutes. I then fill my cup, or more recently I have taken to using a tall double-walled tea glass, with milk and warm the milk. It’s important to get the ratio of milk to tea correct too – traditionally chai is a sweet, milky spiced tea so about two thirds milk to one third tea. Once the tea has steeped to the strength I like I pour it into the warmed milk, add honey, and it’s ready to go.
Mmmm, and that is my small piece of heaven for the day.