Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Bunch of Old Sickies

We're a bunch of old sickies at the moment. Coughing and sneezing and wheezing, with watery eyes and achy bones.

The winter lurgies have definitely hit.

I'm planning on an early night in flannelette pyjamas with Vicks Vaporub on the soles of my fluffy bed-sock-wearing feet. A hot water bottle sounds like a good idea too.

Tomorrow I am attending an all day web-authoring seminar (for work) which I should enjoy, so long as I can get out of bed!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Farewell Michael Jackson

Despite the controversies of recent years, when I think of Michael Jackson I prefer to think of the amazing work he did in his youth, with Off the Wall and Thriller.

I also think of the sweet, wistful boy who sang like an angel.

I hope that he has finally found peace.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hot Chocolate

A family movie night in winter just isn't complete without steaming cups of hot chocolate smothered in whipped cream and decorated with a fat marshmallow (or two).

While sometimes I make hot cocoa the old-fashioned way; by heating milk, cocoa and sugar in a saucepan on the stove; this time we used Cadbury drinking chocolate and heated the cups in the microwave. The marshmallows are Savings brand from Coles, and despite being a generic, are bigger and fatter than the name-brand.

To lower my domestic goddess status even further, I have to confess that the whipped cream came from a can -- it tasted good, though.

What is your favourite hot winter drink?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Thrilled to Bits

Yesterday's blog post was missing something, wasn't it? When I wrote about rugs and roses and other ways to cheer up a dark place like my living room in the winter, I didn't say anything at all about lighting.

And lighting is so important. Most people who know about such things (and I am afraid I am fairly clueless about interior design) say that table lamps provide much better ambience than ceiling lights. Especially when those ceiling lights are fluorescent strips or halogen down lights.

I agree about the importance of table lamps, it's just that I don't own any. I have been looking to buy lamps but either the price is too high or the quality is poor.

Then today, when I arrived home from grocery shopping mid-afternoon, my husband told me that there was a garage sale across the road (how did I miss this?) and the man was selling two lamps which my husband thought I might like.

I crossed the road, visited the afore-mentioned man, and did a great deal on two vintage table lamps with off-white pleated shades and heavy alabaster bases. They had been his parents' bedside lamps for many, many years, he said.

The shades are lighter than these photos indicate; the bulb makes them look yellowish.

Well, I am thrilled to bits, and I think my room looks s-o-o-o much better.

What do you think?

Friday, 19 June 2009

Roses and Rugs

You can never have too many pillows, cushions and throw rugs. At least, that's what I think.

And on these cold, wintry nights, rugs and pillows are even more important. They are living room essentials.

The house we are renting is particularly cold and dark. The windows are small, the eaves wide and the rooms are painted in dark colours. When we buy a house, natural light is one of the top items on my list of priorities!

Our dark leather sofas definitely benefit from the addition of colour. I have added pink, cream, green and white accents with a rosy theme.

With its red rose leadlight windows, a rosy theme was the obvious choice in this room.

The rose pillow above is a European pillow in a Laura Ashley design. My youngest son and I snuggle against these pillows each evening, a rug over our knees, while he practises reading out loud.

I bought this cushion at a closing down sale. It is decorated with pictures of pink roses and an antique washbowl and jug.

I chose the rose pillow above because I like the photo of the rose on it. It's actually an outdoor, canvas pillow but I keep it indoors. One day, when I have a front porch with white wicker furniture, I will take this cushion outside and lean against it as I sip my iced coffee on those long, summer evenings.

Some of the smaller items in the room are the chess board, which is used almost every day,

a silver bowl of rose-scented pot-pourri,

and some books and magazines to read before the fire on those cold, dark nights.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Light a Scented Candle

As the days grow shorter and colder, it is easy to feel as dreary inside as the weather outside. Here in the Southern Hemisphere we don't have Christmas, New Year's Day or St Valentine's Day to bring cheer and happiness to the colder months.

On such wintry days, lighting a scented candle (or two ... or three) can make all the difference, turning gloomy into warm and inviting. Add a steaming cup of soup or hot chocolate and a flickering fire, and wintry weather can become a real celebration.

What do you do to cheer yourself up when the weather is cold and grey?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday, at sharing time, my six year old son had to talk about his favourite music.

His wonderful teacher, Miss Georgia, told me about it afterwards.

He said he likes the Phantom of the Emperor

and Elvis, especially "Nothing but a Hound Dog" and "Blue Suede Shoes".

He added that he likes Pink, but he also likes blue and yellow and green and all the other coloured singers.

Lastly, he said his favourite song of all was "Candyman", which he sang part of, including a final, whispered, "sweet, sugar, candyman".

The class gave him a spontaneous round of applause.

To think that six months ago he was too shy even to speak before his class!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

How to Make Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Some very special friends came for dinner last night, so I made one of my favourite winter desserts; sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce.

This is not a dessert for dieters, but it is certainly delicious. I served it with Cadbury's vanilla chocolate chip ice cream. Yum!

Here are the instructions:

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce
Pudding Ingredients

1 1/4 cups of pitted dates, chopped
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
60g butter, cubed
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 F). Grease a deep 20cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Combine the dates, boiling water and soda in a bowl.

Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then blend or process the date mixture with the butter and brown sugar until almost smooth. Add the eggs and flour, and blend or process until just combined. (You want the dates to provide some texture, so don't over-process.) Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until cooked through (cover the pudding with foil during baking if you think it's getting too brown on top).

Butterscotch Sauce

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cream
50g butter
1/3 Cup golden syrup

Combine all ingredients in medium sized saucepan and stir over a low heat for 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickend slightly.

Kate's Tip: before removing the hot cake from the tin, poke the top of the pudding with a knife a few times then pour some of the hot sauce over the pudding. It will soak in and make the pudding even more delicious.

Serve the pudding warm with the butterscotch sauce and ice cream.

Then don't weigh yourself for a few days:-)

For more kitchen tips, visit Kitchen Tip Tuesday at www.tammysrecipes.com

Friday, 5 June 2009

Pitta Pizzas

image is courtesy of www.friedchillies.com

Tonight my eldest two kids decided to surprise me by cooking pitta pizzas for dinner.

Pitta pizzas are a great first recipe for children to learn. They are also a great way to use up leftovers.

There is no particular recipe; you get enough pittas to make one per person; add the toppings of your choice, and bake in a hot oven for around 10 minutes.

Tonight our pizzas were simple but tasty: pitta bread brushed with tomato paste and topped with grated cheese and some ham that needed using up.

A great, simple Friday night supper.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Winter Warmers

Parapluie-Revel, c.1922

For a place with such incredibly hot summers, Adelaide sure does get cold in the winter. Especially at night. I am sitting here in my studio dressed in a blouse, jumper, trench coat, trackpants, thick socks and fluffy slippers and I'm still cold.

I'm still adjusting to being a working mum, which is why blog posts have been less frequent of late. I'm going to make a big effort to write more often. I promise.

As well, in the winter there is very little time after work to take blog-worthy pictures before it gets too dark. The house we are renting is horribly dark too, so I am struggling to get decent interior shots. Why, oh why, did the owners paint their windowless dining room blood red? (That was a rhetorical question; there really is no rational answer to it.)

Anyhow, to get winter at our red house rolling (and apologies to those fortunate Northern Hemisphere folk who are entering summer), here is a list of warming wintry recipes that I have previously published here.






I've just realised that I have never published any warming winter drinks. I think I'll remedy that over the next few days.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Old Graves

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The seasons bring the flower again,
And bring the firstling to the flock;
And in the dusk of thee, the clock
Beats out the little lives of men.
O not for thee the glow, the bloom,
Who changest not in any gale,
Nor branding summer suns avail
To touch thy thousand years of gloom:

And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Have you ever visited an old graveyard and wondered about the lives of those who lie there?

Our church, which was built in the 1840s, is surrounded by old graves. Many have been moved to make way for an extension to the church building and are lined up together to one side of the church.

I often wonder about the people buried there, but especially the young women and little children who seemed to die so very often. Childbirth and infancy were such dangerous stages of life.

I wonder what these people thought and dreamed about. Could they have ever have imagined a future where Adelaide became a city of over a million people?

I wonder if these long dead folks are remembered by anyone. Or have their descendants moved far, far away?