Saturday, February 24, 2018

Yummy Favourites

I haven't done a recipe for a while; and on Facebook, I've had a few people ask me to pass on the ones I cooked up on Thursday just gone. So, here goes! 

Mushroom and Spinach Spaghetti

Ingredients:

Mushrooms - sliced (not too thin)
Garlic - I slice mine thin, but crushed is just as good.
Baby Spinach
Paprika
Salt and Pepper
Parsley
Butter
Spaghetti - thickness is on taste.

Method:

Boil up the spaghetti and then in the last few minutes, cook up the mushrooms in the butter with the garlic, paprika, parsley and salt and pepper. Just before it's all cooked up, add in the baby spinach and put on the lid and turn off the heat; letting it steam the spinach and finishing off the cooking.

Serve up the spaghetti on plates with the mushroom and spinach on top. It's delicious with garlic bread and a touch of parmesan - or on its own the way it is. 


Baked Custard

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons of raw sugar
4 cups of hot milk
ground nutmeg (optional)

Method: 

Whisk eggs, vanilla essence and sugar together. Heat the milk until hot - not boiling - and then pour gradually into the egg mixture while mixing it. Pour this mixture into a lightly greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle with nutmeg (optional). 

Stand ovenproof dish in a baking dish with enough boiling water to come up halfway up the side of the ovenproof dish..

Bake, uncovered, in a moderate oven about 45 minutes or until the custard is firm.

You can also add rice to the bottom of this dessert and it'll add a deliciousness to it. 

Serves 6.

Recipe can be made a day ahead and served cold.
Microwave - not suitable.
Freeze - not suitable.
Store - covered in the fridge.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Rainy Days

I love rainy days... and also rainy nights.

During the days, the overcast clouds cool down the days and tune down the feel of the day; there's no glare, no sunburn, no feeling of boiling in your own sweat - it's a sedate way of spending a whole day doing whatever you do wherever you are.

And rainy days seem to last forever! They take so long to get going because of how they carry on, and they just seem to keep going on all day with the hubbub of the rain hitting the roof, gurgling down the down the downpipe and into the storm water drains... cleaning our gutters, streets and making the lawns and gardens green and healthy again.

Yes, I do love the rain so much I could just go on about it.

A good week of rain for Brisbane is a great way to spend time around the house. It's lovely to catch up on the reading, or to sleep the night away. Personally, I love to get in and watch a few movies... I know that's so cliche, but really, it's just a great way to while away the good old wet day here, while Mother Nature is taking care of my garden for me.

We have another few days of this rain - rain which is so badly needed around Brisbane - and I'm not complaining about it. It's going to be great to catch up with sleep, cleaning and anything else I need to do around the house. What do you do on days like this? Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Great Friends

Over the past few years, I've made some new friends online and offline. One of these friends is Tutasi. She's from the United States and visits Australia to be with her husband every few years for a couple of months.

The first time we met up was about 2 years ago, and we had only about 3 weeks to hang out with each other; and I drove her around parts of the south side of Brisbane to show her around.

Man, we had fun!

This past December, she came back from the Mid-West, and she's here for 6 months! We've picked up our friendship from where it left off from. This year, we've started having a Lady's Day Out every Thursday (or whenever we can once a week) and when we do, we take off around mid-morning and we have coffee and go looking around at shops, op-shops and other places, parks and other wonderful areas of Brisbane... the day isn't planned. But we have a great day!

Her hubbie is a nice guy, Tim, who loves it that she gets out and about with somebody here and thinks it's great she's made a such a great friend out of me. And while we're out, Tutasi and I go op-shopping for things around their house, so she can add touches to their place which is hers and hers alone. He was a little resistant to start with, but has started liking the changes because it's made life easier for him.

I think it's great when you have friends who not only open a new world to you, but they also see you as a new world as well. 

Tutasi sees me as part of her family; and Tim loves it that we can talk on end about everything about life and everything going on in our minds - as she knows I'm living alone in my life and when you're traveling alone in life, you need a great friend to chat to for hours. 

This is one of the reasons why I haven't been on here for a while. I've been out and about with Tutasi and enjoying a few outings, going to art school and having days out with friends. I have to apologise for not posting as often as I normally do... but it's just how things have happened. 

I've been op-shopping and donating my unwanted things. I've been throwing out rubbish and going through a few other things that I don't need, and the house is looking better and better as time has gone on. I promise to come back in here and chat to you all and keep you posted on what's going on more than I have been. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Stinker Of A Time

Over the past week or two, it's been so hot that I haven't been able to do too much around the place. But I have been getting in and decluttering bits and pieces of my house - which is a good thing - and doing smaller loads of laundry as well.

On Sunday just gone, we had a huge, violent storm hit Logan City and it destroyed a lot of places, knocking out a lot places - including mine - for over 12 hours. Fortunately for me, and my neighbours, my power was back on just before dawn on Monday morning. So, we didn't lose any food in our fridges. 

But there are people out there who are still without power - even today.

The heat has become something which has hit us really badly here in Australia and we're hoping it disappears fast for us to enjoy the sun, but not the heat so much. Yeah, we need to enjoy the outdoors without our gardens dying on us.

Well, with this heat, I'm reading again, and have been working in the home office a bit more with the air-conditioning on, but really, I just wish it wasn't so hot and sticky. There are things I'd like to do around the place - like wash and clean my car, mow my lawn and weed my garden - without collapsing from heat exhaustion. But I guess those things will have to wait until it cools off. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Back to the Real World

Yesterday, I went out to my art class and hadn't even left the unit complex when I saw a Dad walking his two kids out the front to see them off at the bus stop. But he had given one of them his phone to play with - the youngest one - and she proceeded to walk all over the road, in front of my car. Of course I stopped, waited until she was pulled of the road by her Dad and then crawled past. But she was out in front of my car again before I knew it with the phone up in front of her face not looking where she was going.

Now, her Dad became very frustrated with her and took the phone from her, pocketing it and telling her to watch where she was walking - which didn't do anything for her sense of direction. She took the phone from his pants pocket and started looking at it again (he didn't know she had done this). By this time, I was at the car gate waiting for it to open; and the little girl walked straight into the back of my car with the phone in her hand! Her Dad snatched it from her and walked around the driver's side and told both kids to 'come around here' but they walked around the passenger side of my and in front of my car (just as the car gate cleared my car) and ran to their Dad, who yelled at them. He spotted that his daughter had yet again had in her hands his phone! He grabbed it, put it away - again - and then smacked her, then her brother who asked him why he got smacked. The Dad told the older child it was for not doing as he was told (following his father's direct orders) and the youngest for taking the phone when he had confiscated it from her more than once and not watching where she was walking. 

Now... I watched this whole thing and am wondering exactly how are we going to bring up children to understand that those blue glowing screens aren't the end all and be all of everything? 

Okay, I have a smartphone and I use it a lot, but I don't go wandering around with it glued to my face all the time or have it plugged into my ears. I'm also on the computer and on the internet - but only for a certain amount of time. 

There has to be something done about the generation of children we're bringing into this world, as they're going to wind up so engrossed in their computer world that they won't understand or know what's going on around them. 

Seeing how I was brought up in the 1980's where computers were in their infancy, and now they fit neatly in our pockets, I think it'd be a great idea if this generation of children were introduced to a few days a week where they were disconnected from the Wifi completely just so they didn't have the convenience of Facebook, Google or texting their friends. This is so they are forced to get their backsides outside and to breath some fresh air and not air-conditioning, to pick up a real book, get in and and get their hands dirty with some gardening or taking out the rubbish without throwing an all-out tantrum that they're going to miss out on something online... oh yes, that all-famous FOMO. 

And before anyone jumps on here, telling me that's not possible, well, I have at least one day a week where I'm not online. I don't have Foxtel or Wifi in my house and I have recently gone without data on my smartphone and found it rather refreshing to not be bothered by endless texts or any weird phone calls from scammers (yes, they need to know if you've got data to actually call you - strange but true). It was nice, quiet and interestingly mind-clearing to not have data on my phone for a week, simply because I couldn't afford it. 

I seriously think it's time we all turned off our phones and computers for a day and dragged our families out into the real world kicking screaming to breath some air, look outside, turn our faces up to the blue, blue sky (which really isn't blue, but an illusion - I'm not going into here) and enjoy the lovely thing called Nature. Yes, we seem to be missing out on that lately. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We Are What We Eat

Mainstream television bores me. Really it does; especially the advertising for what we feed our children!

I mean, who would go out and buy pre-prepared popcorn in a bag for your own child for the lunch when you can easily make it for them at home? I know, I know, it's quicker and easier to just pop it into their lunch box all ready and sealed. And they just love the salty taste.

But I do remember when I went to school that my Mum prepared my lunch, morning tea and snacks at home. She did cheat a little with an Uncle Toby's muesli bar or a Poppa, but these things were really healthy. They weren't filled with so much sugar they weren't overly sweet - my parents ate them as a snack at work too. Mum made my sandwich of a chicken and mayonnaise - and we didn't put an ice block in our lunch box. None of use were poisoned and we all survived eating it - yes, even in the heat of summer.

And yet, I'm surprised to find that things go off so much quicker now than they did when I was younger. I think it's because we were much tougher back in the 1980's - or is it that the food we ate had less additives? I'm not sure.

The thing still remains that we are cheating our children out on good, home-made foods which are high in nutrition and are much better for them. I'm not saying that when I was younger junk food wasn't advertised, nor am I saying it wasn't throughout the schoolyards as much either. 
There was kids at school who ate boxes of jelly crystals and Chupa-chups for morning tea and then packets of chips for lunch and that was it. They were the kids I shared my lunch with - giving them half of my sandwich and some of fruit (an apple or banana was always included in my lunch) and they didn't mind it. Actually, they always asked if I had anything when they were hungry; and a lot of the times, I kept a half a sandwich aside just in case somebody wanted it. 

That was the sad part - there was always somebody I went to school with who wasn't eating properly. Their parents didn't give them lunch money or didn't prepare them a good lunch at home. And it still continues today.

Parents just seem to think that when they have children that other people will feed them at school... but really, it's every aspect in life that parents need to think about in their child's life - not just their home life. 

Feeding their children the right food at home as well as at school - and not just any food will do - is the biggest decision a parent will make. It shapes how their children will turn out as a person. Will they be healthy? Will they eat nothing but junk food? Will they be lean and healthy or fat and eating Pizza Hut and McDonalds? It's entirely up to the you - the parents - on how your child turns out.

Sure I ate Hungry Jacks and takeaway food for a while. But over the past decade, I've looked at what I've been eating and realised that there's nothing like a really good home-cooked meal where I know exactly what's gone into it. 

Yes, I am what I eat. I do have a splurge once in a while, but it's not often. I never eat McDonalds, Hungry Jacks or Kentucky Fried Chicken anymore... it's not worth the huge amounts of salt or sugar they put into the food or the sleepless nights I'm going to have for a week or the mouth ulcers for the next two weeks (yes this happens to me), or the dry skin either. I'd rather eat what I have bought at the green grocers and cook it here at home. It's better to know how to cook my own meals. This is something I've been doing for years now, and I love it. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Another Year On...

It's 2018 and already my art classes have recommenced. All those great photos I took at Brunswick Heads before Christmas - from all angles and at all hours of the day and night - have become something of a wonder to Aaron (my art teacher). He loves the different areas and colours I found there; and how much I love the place comes through those photos. He's impressed to say the least... and has said to me that he has to teach me to paint faster if I want an exhibition next year.

This is something I can do - I know I can.

The heat has been getting to everyone - especially those poor people in Sydney and Melbourne. It's been horrible there! And we've been getting some really sticky here in Queensland as well, but not as bad as our southern friends; who are melting in the heat.

Well, I've been helping out the poor wild animals around my garden by feeding the possums - as it's been so dry here - and a young little mickey bird landed on my window sill yesterday calling out. I don't have a container for water on hand - but I will look around for one after this, just so they can run around and jump in it in the shade. 

Yes the heat is really bugging a lot of the animals here. I hope you do your part and help them.

Otherwise, I've been decluttering my home again, trying to read (rather unsuccessfully) and I'm also working on making sure I save more money (yep, like I promised last year). Anyway, must be going. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Friday, January 5, 2018

It's A Heatwave!

Yep, it's heating up big here in Australia, and it doesn't look as though it's going to stop... it appears to be getting hotter.

So, it's five days into the New Year; and I thought it was high time I jumped on here and told you all what I've been up to.

First off, I'm a little injured - not badly - just muscle soreness from twisting the wrong way; that's all.

My car's power steering pump finally gave up on me on Tuesday while I was out dropping a friend off at her place at Crestmead and I spent the longest ten minutes of my life struggling to get my car around round-a-bouts and corners and through traffic lights! It was like driving a damned tank!

So, I thought to take it to my folks' house to grab Mum's car - but that was a bad idea that night... the car's power steering came back for one last punch and scared me, and... well, let's just say it didn't end up well with one of my neighbours. We had a good chat and I ended up taking the car to my folks' house early the next morning... I was so tired that I went back to bed and slept for another few hours. 

But the heat really hit me bad; and I found that Mum's car's steering felt strange... so I left it for a bit and yesterday went and looked at the power steering fluid. It was almost empty. 

This is where I hurt myself. I twisted the wrong way as I closed the bonnet of the car, and well, pulled a muscle in my back. I'm sore as hell. But, I've been doing Yoga stretches all day... and last night I had a hot shower, stretched out the back muscles straight afterwards before going to bed, and today? Gotta say, the more I move, the better it feels. 

But I'm digressing

Um, I don't like driving a car where something 'might' go wrong if I think it's not right. So, I went and got it looked into at a place near me called Napa - it's Autobarn but not Autobarn - and the guys there were really cool, helping me find the right stuff but said yep, it looked liked it had a leak. Told me to advise Mum to get it looked at asap.

Anyway, I was on my way home when I thought to take the car for a good ol' drive... and called up Tutasi - a friend of mine (the same friend I dropped off on Tuesday) and she jumped at the chance to head out to the op-shops and look around for furniture for her and window shop for me... I'd already spend some money in the past few days; so didn't really need anything big.
We browsed through some Super Stores and she found some lovely towels and spotted great wardrobes she really needs and kept an eye out for curtains for her step-daughter's bedroom. We found some great-looking old wardrobes, but curtains were another thing.

Well, we headed home at around 3:30pm after a good day out. I had found a bottle to put my leftover Limoncello in - which was scrubbed and sanitised within an inch of its life - and then I found some gorgeous placemats to replace my peeling ones. I'm so pleased with my purchases. 

Now, this weekend, I'll be pulling down the Christmas Tree and putting away all the decorations into their respectable boxes and the townhouse will go back to everyday living.

I'll be back into declutter mode.
I'll be back into looking at packing things away to hopefully move.
I'm looking at what to paint for the following year.


Yep, this year is going to be a busy one! 

How about you? How's your year going to turn out for you? What are you plans? Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Chilled Weekend

It's not long now until the end of 2017... and really, I can't wait to jump into 2018; as I get in and get ready for it all.

There's a huge list of things to get done!

* A home office to organise.
* Clothes to sort out for the year.
* Craft Gear to organise into boxes.
* Art School to attend.
* A garden to fix up - again.
* Decluttering to do around the house.
* Books to edit the get published.
* Markets to attend as a retailer.


Man, the list goes on!

Is your next year going to be as busy as mine? I find that as the years go flying by, I'm busier and busier in my life; and that's a great thing.

Well, I'm hoping to also be out of the townhouse and into a proper house - sooner rather than later. I've lived in a townhouse complex for far too long. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

This Year - 2017

It's been a bumper year in the life of me and my family - and my friends as well!

January started out this year - as it does in every year - and really I had absolutely zero idea what I was going to do with my life this year. There were no plans, no work I was going to do, no books to work on, no paintings... nothing really to help me kick me into gear. But I decluttered parts of my house during a heatwave, followed Peter Walsh's 30 Days of decluttering... and that was great. I have learned so much from Peter that I don't just declutter in the first month of the year, I keep on decluttering throughout the year - and now, this year, I've been decluttering for over 5 years; and this month, I start up a blog called 'A Work In Progress'... it's slow getting off the ground, but it'll pick up soon. 

In February, I join the Logan Artists Association and begin taking art classes. I've wanted to go to art school for a long time; and it's something I wanted to do improve my artistic ways. I want to be able to work with other artists as well as with my niece, Riley, in the future as I learn more about different ways to paint and draw. 
During this month, my Dad turned 70 and the Queen Beez Craft Group turned 25... two big milestones right there where I was able to attend both parties. I also took part in an interview with SBS about how Muslims are living in our society; then was told that it was going to be shown this November. 

Over the next few months, I attended art school, donated plenty to the Vinnies at Underwood/Slacks Creek and then I looked for some armchairs for the living room and put my large, IKEA lounge on Gumtree... but nobody wanted it. We asked charities to take it but they wouldn't take it because it wasn't perfect. It broke my heart to have to tip it. It had been working very well for over 30 years and there was nothing wrong with it; and still we had no choice. 
I also went to workshops at the Logan Art Gallery and scored a great Easter present from Mum - a Kitchen Aide! How cool is that? I ended up making a brilliant sponge cake with it! 
I started seriously looking at how my house was furnished and making my place into a home I wanted to live in - and not just something I came home to and existed in. So, the next time I move, all the furnishings will be for the next home; and will fit in it.
My family also got to meet Ellie, Gabe and Kat's new little fur-baby. She's such a cutie, but still was getting used to being around people.
Art school continued on through Winter and I also added to my wardrobe with second-hand clothes and other items around the other charity stores. I also started looking for things to shop for this Christmas... yes, I'm a very early shopper.
Then, the LCC came and pulled up the sewer lid in my back yard to look at the drains and if they needed relining... a smelly and weird job. In the process, they wrecked my lawn. So, I had to reseed it and get it growing again in the worse time of year - Winter.
In June, I went to a stocktake sale at Eckersley's and scored myself a Jasart easel at half price! But instead of letting me pay for it, Dad wanted to pay for so he could get me to do things around his place for him. I don't like dirty pool; and told him that it's not a good thing to do to a person.
Also in June, I went to an outdoor art class for the day, took care of myself and made sure I was warm; but 3 days later, I woke up at 4am and found I couldn't speak let alone swallow... yep, I had laryngitis - again! So, there I was quarantined for over 2 weeks inside my house so I didn't spread it around... oh... yay... how much fun is this? Not!
Once I got over the hacking and coughing of Laryngitis, and I was able to sleep through the night, I got in and repotted most of my plants into bigger pots, or back-filled them... then Kat's birthday came around - and it was freezing! - but we had a great time! 
Then August was here before we knew it! It has been 20 years since I had been to the UK and the same amount of years since Lady Diana and her lover Dodi had been killed in the most horrific car accident! I was over in the UK when this happened and I was also there for the funeral... however, the locals didn't treat me all that well, which was dreadful. They weren't the only ones who were taking it badly. 
Triple M hit the big 37 year mark and cut a vinyl and the day it came out, I drove like a mad woman to Garden City to pick up my copy... and the one I scored was the only one in stock. Lucky me! I play it Every two weeks or so; as it's so much fun to hear those great songs.
I also removed my medi-alert bracelet from my arm for the last time. Now, don't get shocked: I went in and got: 'Alert! Epilepsy' tattooed to my right arm instead. Now, I'll never lose another bracelet ever again... it's right where the police and emergency personnel can see it.
In September and October, I made my first batch of Limoncello; and it put me to sleep when I tasted it... making me miss out on the last half of the AFL Grand Finals! Dammit, I wanted to watch that! For the whole months of October, I seem to celebrate my birthday... so I made a sponge cake for my birthday, received a box of chocolates from one of the class mates at art class and enjoyed my day. My birthday was actually on the Wednesday, and so we all went out to a dinner near Gabe and Kat's house... but during the week, I bought some weird and crazy things for my birthday; including Bruce Springsteen's autobiography and a box to put my phone in (which in the last few weeks I haven't used).  In late October, the Pop-Up Store at the Logan Art Gallery started up and my display was in there... and I'm proud to say that it looks wonderful!
November was National Novel-Writing Month worldwide and I got in and wrote a great book! I worked my butt off on the damned thing and finished my 50,000 words! Yes, I was a champion this year - unlike the past years - I made it! I wrote over 3,000 words a day and didn't do any editing; not until next month, which will be good for me to get in and do. 
But during November, seeing I was locked inside my home for a good part of it, I made sure I went out in the car a lot too... it just made sense to keep myself decluttering and op-shopping and looking for Christmas presents - and also shopping for a new tree; a 6footer! - to adorn my home now. 
December has been a huge social occasion after another. First my brother had his art opening, then there was the Logan Art Gallery's Christmas Party, then I went back to art school on the Monday morning again and then there was the lunch for the Queen Beez Craft Group and the following week, I went to the morning tea for the Logan Art Gallery where we got our certificates and presents and other goodies and food and great things as well for the year. And then, I attended the Queen Beez Craft Group's last meeting; and I told them it was my last group for them; as my life is taking in other directions with the Logan Artists Association and I feel my time at the Queen Beez is coming to an end. They were kinda sad about this but asked me to come and see them when I could... I promised I would. Then, there was Christmas... oh boy! Christmas Eve was at my cousin's house and Christmas day was split between my folks' house and Tutasi's family and it was great, stinking hot and there was so much food! And then there was a massive storm which hit just as I got home and pulled everything inside from the car.

Yep, this year has been full of great things, bad things, arts and craft and other wonderful things. Next year is going to be the same. I'm going to be painting more, writing more, gardening more and looking at tossing out more from my house to make it better and better and easier for me to move out of here when the time does come to move out. 

So, this was the yearly newsletter of what's gone on in 2017! It feels like it's been 10 years since the beginning of the year, doesn't it? Here's to the next year of 2018!