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November 2005
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January 2006

On the Sixth Day of Christmas....

Galah_coasterIt’s not that I am wishing my life away, but waiting 2 years for the second and third parts of the Odalisque trilogy is such a long time. What an unexpected joy then, to find Book 2 of Karen Miller’s Duology ( is that a word??) Kingmaker, Kingbreaker : Innocence Lost in the book shop yesterday. I think it was yesterday. I am in the lost week, where I don’t know whether I am in 2005 or 2006 yet. I also have a cold in the head so I am all hot and cold and unable to think very coherently…. I have only read 58 pages but I plan to finish it today. I am not a New Year kind of person. I will have a cup of tea, read my book and go to bed early I think. Numb3rs is on tonight – I love Numb3rs, especially the spelling, which annoys ACMA no end. A whole show about numbers, with equations and derivatives and calculus and everything.

Back to Innocence Lost : it is a book in the same vein as Fiona McIntosh, Trudi Canavan, Kate Forsyth, Glenda Larke etc a great Fantasy read with all the prerequisites in place and enough twistsYou_heel_you_cad  and turns to keep you hooked. The image of the cover didn’t pop up from Amazon in my Reading List in September, I have no idea if the ISBN is connected for this one !! If it’s not, I’ll take a photo.

My friend the Lovely Rosie has found The Labradors’ blog is up and running again. There was a conniption and I couldn’t log in. Apparently my password died. Graham from Blogger Support fixed it for me after I began my campaign of emailing him songs and poems about The Labradors’’ plight every day!!! Rosie knows that 2006 is the Lunar Year of the Dog. How cool is that!! Not that every year isn’t The Year of the Dog at our house!!!

We had a walk in the rain today, and I must buy Harki a new collar. I keep forgetting. She has a grass seed stuck in her fur, in her ruff, but I pulled it out. It was just burrowing into her skin. Vundy The German Shepherd had a seed that burrowed right into her skin. Her body tried to reject it and made a great big lump,: you could feel it under her skin. When the Doctors operated they found a tiny grass seed at the centre. I still have it. ( Yes I’m macabre)

All the knitting I could manage yesterday was heel flaps and heel turns. I picked up one set of stitches for the foot, but that was all. I finished the coaster for a present. I had a great deal of trouble making it stay in place until I realised I was trying to put it into the top.

Popcorn Snacks

  • 125g butter

  • 3 tspn grated lime or lemon zest

  • ¾ tspn chilli powder

  • big crystal salt

  • 1 tspn vegetable oil

  • 1 cup corn to pop

Put the butter, zest, chilli and salt into a small saucepan and allow it to melt. Set aside. Place a large saucepan on medium heat, and add the oil and corn. Cover with a lid and then shake a little every now and then till no more corn will pop.

Pour into a bowl and toss in the flavoured butter.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas....

Don’t fiddle with the layout of your blog. I did, and then I had to republish and move everything back to where I thought it was!! New Year coming…. might ring in a few changes… No!!! I have decided I like the status quo!!!

2_noel_socks_about_to_be_in_a_flap 2 Noel socks about to have their heel flaps started. I had to do extra rows as I was watching Law & Order Ornery and in a yoga kind of way I knitted too many rows on one sock so I had to knit a few more rows on the other one this morning.  The socks are very nice.  I have knitted 17 cm for the leg, I hope that is long enough to be longer than short.

Yesterday afternoon I went with ACMA and ACMA’s sister to see Harry Potter IV again. It was even better the second time , though at first it was too hot in the cinema and I felt more than a little boogelly, but then the air-con kicked in and it was cool again. There were too many small children : and by small I mean not much more than Kinder age. Harry Potter is not for little children in the same way South Park isn’t. Then we had a nice cup of tea and I went home. It has been cooler the last few days but now it is warming up again. The Labradors and I are hiding inside. We didn't wake up till after 8. Well, they were awake a lot earlier and finally woke me up proper at about 8-22 am. They wanted to go and get the paper : it is a ritual where we all go into The Forbidden Zone, and I go out the gate.

I have added quite a few more green things to my collection : some little green woven boxes. They areLittle_boxes_not_all_the_same  all beaded and embellished and one fits inside the other!!!

I am making a coaster with birds cross-stitched in it. I have 2 pink and grey galahs. They are small and simple so I must finish it and give it as part of a gift today.

Coconut Ice

This will last all year. I kid you not. I made my mum some last year for Christmas and she found some in an airtight container in her fridge in December this year, ate it, and it was fine. I really don’t think there is much to go bad in Coconut Ice!!!

  • 125 g copha

  • 500 g pure icing sugar

  • 250 g coconut

  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

  • flavourings : vanilla, chocolate, cherry, rosewater, orange blossom, coffee, peppermint etc

  • colouring, if desired

Melt copha gently in a pan over a low heat. Mix the coconut and icing sugar. Add the egg whites, copha and flavouring. Mix very well indeed. Yo can divide it and colour half pink or green as you like. Press very firmly into a tin lined with Gladbake. Refrigerate till set.

You can add melted chocolate, or a little coffee dissolved in some water, a tspn of vanilla extract, orange blossom or rose water, chopped cherries and some cherry brandy…the list is endless. I once made a triple layered coconut ice with chocolate, coffee and vanilla.  I like this much better than the condensed milk version. It is grown up Coconut Ice.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas....

Diy_bandage_and_noel_sock_2 I can’t knit any more of the First Noel Sock until there is measure-age, so I took a deep breath and then pulled the middle out of the ball and wound 50g of yarn for the second sock. It all seemed to go well, sock 1 and sock 2 doing fine, not big tangles or knots and I can make ACMA try on one of my socks at Harry Potter today. I think this is the fourth time she has seen it, but only my second. I still have The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe waiting in the wings….

I have a hole in at least one of my fingers – the left index – from pushing the point of the needle to move the stitches. I also had no bandaids. I have run completely out of bandaids, so, I did Girls’ Pharmacy and used a strip of calico and clear craft glue and made a Point Repellent Bandage!! It worked really well, better than a Joanies_mum_made_these bandaid in fact!!!

Two people have been killed in a car crash near Deloraine, this is very sad BUT the little boy wasn’t wearing a seat belt. What were they thinking??? 6 tourists in a giant 4 wheel drive, overtaking on or near a gravel verge, and the child in the car wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

I have more lovely decorations : these were made by Joanie the Labrador’s mum How green are they???!!! Even a shiny green dingle bell!!

It is so cool, it is almost cold!!! The Labradors and I are in Troll Heaven. We can think and function  really well!!!

Chicken Stir-fry with Pesto

  • 2 tbspn olive oil

  • 600 g chicken, thinly sliced

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

  • ½ red and ½ green capsicum, sliced

  • 250 g mushrooms, sliced

  • 200g baby spinach

  • 1 punnet of tiny tomatoes, halved

  • 150 ml thin pouring cream

  • 2 tbspn pesto

Heat 1 tbspn oil and fry the chicken and onion for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside, add remaining oil to pan and cook the capsicum and mushrooms for 2 minutes, then add the baby spinach and tomatoes and cook till spinach is wilted.  Mix the pesto and cream and then add to pan along with the chicken and onion.  Stir gently till heated through and serve with rice.  You could substitute any flavouring – olive or tomato tapenade etc…

On the Third Day of Christmas....

Acmas_socks_have_begun All’s quiet on the Western Front. The Labradors have been fed and Harki has stopped her mad leaping-about-I-want-to-be-fed dance. I think there may be napping.

There is knitting. Last night I knitted ACMA’s first Christmas Sock, henceforth known as the Noel Socks ( That’s The First Noel, not the name Noel) I have poked a hole in my finger again with the sharp and extremely dangerous pointy needles. Damn, bandaids again : they hinder my knitting.  I knitted the rib and 51 rounds!!!  This morning I knitted another 9 to take the length to 60 rounds. She would like her socks to be longer rather than shorter so there will be Cinderella style trying on of socks to ascertain the necessary length.  The yarn is Regia 4-fadig Ringel Color , ordered via Lisa from Germany this year. The Knitting Coven is planning another order a little later on next year. I am tempted to start the Dr Who Zippy-Uppy Cardigan. I need to do some trial knitting to find my tension and then work out all the numbers. What joy!!!

This morning it was 18C when I woke up : no wonder I was hot. We only need 3 more degrees to reach the maximum. (Speaking of maxis, Wild Oats has broken the Sydney to Hobart record by just over an hour and taken Line Honours.) I wrote all the dates into my new Buffy Diary. It is an every year diary, so you have to write in all the dates. I don’t mind, really. It is a small price to pay for having a Buffy Diary. After this one I have 8 more : 8 more years to live then. I must find more Buffy Diaries if I am toTiny_swiss_deccos  live!!!

The vdM’s went overseas and bought me back these really cute Swiss Christmas Decorations.  They are tiny wooden ones. Now I have a ‘tree’ I will have to hang them on it next year.

Watermelon & Feta Salad (Family Circle 1/06)

  • 500g seedless watermelon, chopped

  • 270g jar marinated feta, drained but keep 2 tbspn of the liquid

  • 12 black olives – or your favourites*

  • 1 tbspn red wine vinegar

Toss the watermelon, feta and olives in a bowl. Mix the vinegar with the drained feta marinade and drizzle over the salad. Serve chilled with lost of ground black pepper.

* I like the olives from The Mill Providore  down the road!! They are very expensive but come stuffed with chilli or feta etc. Yummy!!!

On the Second Day of Christmas....

Opulent_green_wine_glasses Our house is an old house, well relatively, from 1930. It has all those 1930s things : bay windows, intricate glass and woodwork, and wooden flooBayswiss_xmas_tree_1rs. In the kitchen, however, the floor is slate and I am forever dropping things on the floor and breaking them into tiny, tiny pieces.  Consequently, I am always happy to receive cups and glasses for presents. ACMA gave me 4 beautiful dark green wine glasses. They are in the dining room dresser and they are staying there for quite a while until I work up the courage to use them!!! They are so opulent and  gorgeous!!

We don’t have a Christmas Tree as Peri Naughty tends to want to chew things, but now I have 2 ‘trees’ : One from Joanie’s mum from Bayswiss and one from Auntie J -  a conical wire confection  that ACMA and I are going to bead like mad with lots of green breads and sequins later on. People were in general aghast that we had no tree, so next year they can be all relaxed and comfortable instead of alert and alarmed.

Harki lost her collar on Christmas Day when we were walking. She has lost so much weight that it just slipped over her head. Today she has to have a makeshift collar. They both need new walking collars, they don’t wear collars at home as I worry they will get them caught on something while I am out. The Labradors are micro chipped, Wire_xmas_tree_or_dunces_hat so if they are lost, someone will scan them and ring me.

Tortilla “Lasagne”

  • 6 flour tortilla

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • 250 g mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 red and 1 green capsicum, sliced

  • 1 cup of cooked chicken, ham, turkey - whatever is left over

  • 2 tbspn olive oil

  • 400 g tin chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tbspn tomato paste

  • 1 tspn dried oregano

  • 100 g grated tasty cheese

  • 400-500 ml cheese sauce ( home-made or bought)

Heat oil and fry the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, paste, oregano and any seasoning – salt , pepper and a little sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Now, place a tortilla in a baking tray and then start layering the vegetable sauce and the meat and the tortillas, building up layers. Finish with a tortilla, spoon over the sauce and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake at 200C ( 180 ff) for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, warm or cold with a salad and garlic bread. A great way to use up Christmas leftovers.

On the First Day of Christmas....

On Christmas….when The Labradors play with their new toys.Harki_plays_with_her_horsie_toy

Christmas where the gum trees grow,

There is no frost and there is no snow,

Christmas in Australia’s hot,

Cold and frosty is what it’s not.

When the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here,

Christmas time is near.

Here we have no snow: I abhor snow people in all their ways, shapes ands forms – they are just notI_love_my_chewy_bone_says_peri  right here. I sing traditional carols and songs but I like the Australian ones just as much. We eat turkey and vegetables and plum pudding but there are prawns and other seafood, pavlovas, salads and lots of fruit. We dress for the Summer, we hope for cool weather on ‘the day’. We have barbies and at 9-30 pm it is still light. We stay outside and we go on holidays ( not me, but real people do!!) The school year is over and everyone is on holidays from work and school  : proper weeks long holidays. The ABC closes down its Current Affairs and I am without proper AM, The World Today and PM. The regular broadcasters are off  having a good rest.  We shop and cook and wrap in the heat. We sit outside cafes in the sweltering heat sipping cool drinks and eating snacky food. We go to the pictures because it will be cool inside. There are giant sales but we try to avoid them,  rarely succeeding. My_christmas_card_2005We lounge about listening to the Boxing Day Test and the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Hobart prepares for the onslaught of the yachties and their QLD.  (Quiet Little Drink – an oxymoron if there ever was one)  We get ready for the start of the new Tennis year and  bemoan the lack of good Aussie players and the way all the sport interferes with our lives!!!

I start thinking about next Christmas and what I might make. I plan for when I will see my friends before they have to go back to work. I nap during the heat of the day and stay up late hoping for a cool breeze. I long for Winter. We all think about how few clothes we can wear and still be decent. I soak my feet in icy cold water and the Labradors play with the hose and dip in their paddle pool.

Here is my Christmas Card for this year. It was very easy and very effective. Inside The Labradors put their Christmas Song. You have to sing to the tune of ‘Six White Boomer’ by Rolf Harris. The Boomers are Kangaroos!!!

Two Labrado-ors, Golden Labrado-ors,

Chasing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.

Two Labrado-ors, Golden Labrado-ors,

Oh, watch out here they come!

Early on one Christmas Eve, a sunny afternoon,

Trees and presents fill over half the room!!

Harki and Peri listen hard, and then they give a Woof:

Santa and his reindeer have landed on the roof!!

Oh, Two Labrado-ors, Golden Labrado-ors,

They’ll get what they want, they have been so good!!

Two Labrado-ors, Golden Labrado-ors,

Love Santa like they should!!!

Harki can see Santa’s sack, and so can Peri Naughty,

There are heaps of presents, I think I count forty.

Santa’s in and leaves the gifts and out the window quickly,

Avoiding happy Labradors is very, very tricky!!

Oh, Two Labrado-ors, Golden Labrado-ors,

Wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Harki and Peri and me, of course, too-oo,

Send Christmas Joy to You.

Only 364 days till next Christmas!!!!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Vintage_embroidery_thread                                   Be Warned - there are a lot of pictures!!!!


64_fat_quarters_from_acma Auntie Captain Mrs Archer and I have ‘done’ Christmas!!! On Thursday we had both, discretely, decided we would swap presents on Friday as there was a lot happening and Friday was going to be cool. Here are photos of just 3 of my presents, which are too numerous to mention!!!  (64 fat Quarters, vintage embroidery thread in pristine Dr_who_books condition and Dr Who books to name just 3)…..I foolishly left The Labradors’ presents behind, so they will have to wait!!!

I made ACMA a Quilt and a little Christmas wall hanging and I will be knitting her a pair of socks too!!!! I have also finally taken an Advent Calendar photo and  a bauble one too!!!

Advent_calendar Last night I went to ACMA’s house for Christmas Drinks. There were about 20 people and we just had drinks and nibbles, but it was a very convivial evening.  Yesterday I just drank bubbly!!! It is a jolly good thing that I only ever have one glass, because the police were Random Breath Testing on the way home. I can never blow hard enough to make the machine work!!!


Today I went to the vdM’s for tea. It was excellent!! Excellent food, and conversation and presents. It was lovely to see them all. We proclaimed we should get together more often. It was Bauble_wallhanging cool today : windy, hail, some sun, but mostly cool, thank goodness.

Christmas Day:

Today the Labradors had a Christmas Walk and then special Christmas breakfast with liver sprinkles and then a Christmas bone. They were in Christmas heaven!!! Yesterday BE Niece declared she needed a Tarzan costume, so this morning I whipped up a prototype a la Pebbles from the Flintstones. It was way too big, but it was pinned to within an inch of its life and she wore it all day. I went to ACMA’s Mum and Dad’s fro a most delicious lunch.  There was Christmas jollity and then a leisurely swing on ACMA’s mum’s new outdoor swinging seat!!! We sat and chatted after lunch and I didn’t get home till after 7 pm. The Labradors have finally got their presents after all my forgetfulness. They were allowed to have a chewy bone, and after a half hour of Acmas_presents_for_the_labradors Acmas_christmas_wallhanging snoring, they have finally gone to bed.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Goodnight!!!

Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas day.

Peri_loves_harki_and_the_house Look! Look!! It’s my Gingerbread House!!!! I finally picked it up and it is at home waiting to be given away as a present!!! I hade forgotten what it looked like after all this time, but there it is in all its ‘glory’.

No wonder I was so hot yesterday : it was 33*C. 33!! That’s about 98*F. That is very hot!! Today it is a more civilised 21. I wasn’t going to take the Labradors for a walk this morning, I was recovering from the heat,  but they looked at me with those big brown eyes, so expectantly and hopefully, that I succumbed!!

As you can see, Harki has been ‘helping’ with my ChristmSee_harki_help_me_sewas Craft again. She is poking her tongue out too!!! This is the start of a 'thing' for ACMA and since the photo I have made it right to the binding stage….it is a 'thing' to behold!!! I will easily finish this tomorrow, as I only have to bind it. I finished something else last night and added some sparkly things, as she likes shiny things.

I still have to make another Advent calendar!!! And I still have 2 or 3 wall hangings to make but I feel fairly on top of it now. I will whip up a few more batches of fudge and truffles this evening and make the Very Chocolatey Frozen Dessert Cake tomorrow and then I only have BE Niece to go!! There are still a few things to make for people I will see after Christmas, but I can think about them on Monday!!!

No letters or parcels from the Postman today. I saw him zooming down the hill and heard him come back up again, but nothing for us. There are still 2 delivery days though because at Christmas the postman comes on Saturday too!!

Coconut Cherry Truffles

  • 125 g butter

  • 320 g ( 2 cups) pure icing sugar

  • 60 ml cream

  • 200 g (2 cups ) coconut

  • 125 g  red cherries, chopped

  • few drops of red food colouring if you like

  • 200 g dark chocolate, melted

Melt the butter, then stir in the cream, icing sugar, cherries and coconut. Add the food colouring if you want to and then mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for about an hour. Roll into balls and then dip into the melted chocolate. Refrigerate till set.  Devour immediately.

Oh come, all ye faithful.....

             The_front_door_of_acmas_gingerbread_hous              Today we are featuring Aunty Captain Mrs Archer’s Gingerbread House for your delight and entertainment!!! I took photos today for her. The roof stays on now, she is an architect surpassing all others!!

There would be photos of my house, except I forgot to collect it!! It was too hot and I lost the plot. We are all hiding inside now away from the heat, waiting and hoping for a storm!!! The Labradors got a whole box of biscuits from the GardyGardeners for their present today.  Last night the Madcages gave me a lovely mini book with facts and sayings about kitting and a voucher to spend at Spotlight ( the store that can be nAcmas_cake_backamed, at the moment!!)

I have not knitted a thing for days as I have been Christmas Crafting. I made another Advent calendar for the GardyGardeners, but, once again, I forgot to take a photo. I will lose my mind before Christmas actually arrives at this rate.

Things to do:-

Boycott Blue Ribbon products : in 2003 they illegally sacked workers and now, three years later, despite the High Court ruling, the workers are still locked out, without pay or any benefits. Blue Ribbon has been found guilty and they should pay the workers what they are owed. This is not demonstrating fair play or a concern for the workers, who did nothing wrong.

Too_many_sprinkles_are_never_enough Think happy thoughts for my friend who might be having her last Christmas. She has just about exhausted all possible options. They ask for people’s prayers, so think of them whatever your religious persuasion.

Make a *****. Yes, I still have to make ACMA her super special surprise. I think she is starting to be afraid. Each year I make her a present to inspire fear!!! Nothing like fear and loathing to keep you on your toes.

I have posted my last card. I think some people may get 2!! Who knows???? I still have  an Advent Calendar, 2 wall-hangings and something for BE Niece to make. I also have the Christmas Truffles to roll into balls and wrap. I will deliver them all on Friday.

Today is the last day of school for the children, and tomorrow the last for the teachers. Although I miss teaching all the time, on days like this I miss it most : all the fun, the tiredness, the sadness of your class leaving and the excitement of meeting the new. There were always parents who wrote the loveliest letters, thanking you for all your work. This year a boy ACMA and I taught for 2 years was one of only two people in the state to score 99.95/100 on his TCE ( Matric, Years 12 exam) Nick is a great person, with an excellent sense of humour. I remember especially how Nick and his friend spent quite a lot of time ‘mixing’ different shades of black, and naming them : Black, Dark Black, Ebony, Night Black, Medium Black etc …. If you are reading this ever, Nick, thank me for not telling the papier-mache story!!!!!!!

Not long to go now, I am counting the days till Christmas is over and we can all relax!!!

Bah Humbug!!!

Santa Claus is coming, to town...

The_santa_swag_complete I have knocked over two more presents!!! I have finished the SANTA Swag and Amanda-Moo’s ornament. I also bought The Very Last Weather Photo Calendar from the BOM shop in town. The Madcages really wanted one. Two years ago I won a Jacqui Brown Weather Calendar in a quiz as they had sold out. Last year there wasn’t one. I had just not bothered to go. The  meteoS_arologists thought they had sold out but minutes before I went in the found one lurking in the cupboard!! How lucky is that???

It is very hot today. Too hot to do much at all. I feel hot-boogelly. At least there is a bit of a breeze. The Labradors had a longer walk today  : 22 minutes!!! We usually are 20 minutes on the dot. Harki ran through the bush and left Peri and I alone, together. She came out way up near the big Dam Amandamoos_ornament signs. Peri is very agitated when Harki isn’t there, she looked for Ntaher

frantically and it was like a reunion after 20 years, not 2 minutes,

when they saw each other!!!

Oh, the new Serenity film can be pre-ordered. It comes in a special tin with special extras!!…….but not till February next year.