Sunday, January 29, 2012

By Broulee Beach

We spent the day by Broulee Beach yesterday,

soaking in the sand and the sun,  

sights and sounds, 

the colours and textures.

There were sand pies to be mixed, 

time for solitary exploration 

sandcastles bedecked with star-shaped shells

rock pools to paddle and wade in

fish to attempt to catch in our bucket

sand angels to make

and vistas to enjoy

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lamingtons: Butter or Sponge?

Fresh Butter Cake squares waiting to be made into lamingtons,
 if they aren't consumed first.

There are some times when you just wish you still had your Granny around to ask a few questions.
Do you find that?  As I'm getting older and have a more mature perspective of the world, shall we say, I find myself wanting to ask my Granny a few more questions than I had thought to before she died when I was about 20.

Creaming the butter

When growing up I took for granted the fabulous lamingtons my Granny made for the family to share on picnics out on the farm.  I just devoured them.  We all did.  They were fabulous.

Little Eee loving helping with creaming the butter and sugar 

As I grew older I realised there were other sorts of lamingtons you could buy from bakeries and also supermarkets.  I never really took to those at all.  I have however come across a few and eaten a few as they are a favourite sweet of my dear Generous Gentleman's.  They always left a metallic taste in my mouth, and still do.

Ess helping sift flour into our bowl

So when the opportunity arose to take the family to the Great National Lamington Bake Off in order to celebrate Australia Day we all jumped at the chance.  I was curious to see what it was all about and how a chef might interpret the lamington these days.  My girls love baking (and tasting of course) and my lovely husband just loves eating lamingtons.  So it was a match made perfectly.

Fresh golden butter cake with the recipe I transcribed
at the age of about 10 years

When it was discovered that two out of the three chefs were baking a sponge cake for their lamington a question arose concerning the original and authentic lamington.  Would it have also been a sponge cake or would it have been a butter cake?  Granny always made a butter cake for her lamingtons and I have assumed that the spongey light and fluffy cake was made by the bakeries and supermarkets.  However it seems that some others consider the sponge base is a more authentic lamington.  Or perhaps they prefer the light and fluffy sponge cake?  It seems that the CWA baked a butter cake for their lamingtons as well.  I am yet to find an example of the sponge cake being used for lamingtons by the older generation, apart from mass production for school fetes and the like.  What is your preference?  

For the results of the bake-off take a read of the Canberra Times article.

Waiting for icing and coconut

Now I'm on a mission to bake lamingtons with my family in the fashion of my Granny's, to share with them the tradition I hold such fond and vivid memories of.  I'll ask them which cake they choose as their cake of preference: butter or sponge?  I already know my choice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

This Time Last Year 2

This time last year we were actually staying in a house, relieved from small expensive apartment accommodation for two weeks.

We were house-sitting for a couple who were visiting Russia in order to help build a kitchen and follow God's lead to share their lives with the people over there.  In being a blessing to those people, they were also truly blessing us.  At a time when we were very stressed about the cost of accommodation in Canberra, before we had even left Adelaide, we were offered this house to sit for a couple of weeks.  We saw it as a gift in a financially challenging time. Yet this contact has proved to be pertinent throughout the year.  You see, at just the right time, the owner of this home would pop in to see us or he would make a phone call to see how things were going for us.  He would speak words God had laid on his heart and we knew they were meant for us.  In hindsight it is very easy to see how our journey was known by God before it commenced.  In hindsight it is very clear that we were held in the palm of God's hands right from the very start.

This time last year we had actually found a house we believed we could call our home.  We had travelled the various areas of Canberra searching houses with a budget in mind.  This house was seemingly the best house for the price.  Later it would become clear there was a reason for this.  It was a new house, almost complete.  We put an offer on it which was quickly accepted.

A year ago yesterday I made an inspection with my unenthusiastic girls and three-month old baby in tow and noticed that a fence was being erected, and not quite in accordance with the way the real estate agent had told us it would be built.  It was much shorter, not fencing off the outdoor living area, making a very tiny yard space.  In hindsight perhaps we should have tossed it all in at this point.  However we had no reason not to believe that we could extend the fence ourselves, placing a fence in the position we chose, to create more yard and some privacy for our outdoor living.

This fence would prove to be both our nemesis and our escape route in weeks and months to come.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Year Seeds are Sprouting and Shooting

On New Year's Day my girls and I planted seeds in our new garden.

You can see their homes on the right in the picture above, a little sheltered spot by the Meyer Lemon we believe, planted here by the previous owners.

I just love the way Ess made labels from shells we have collected over the years.
These flower seeds came from a packet named "Rockery Mix".
Lots of alyssum will shoot I suspect.

On 7 January we saw, with great excitement in my little girls, that the seeds were sprouting

Some were clearly enjoying their new home and sprouting forth all their pretty two-leaved goodness.

Then ten days later on 17 January we find that the plants are really shooting up.  Soon the girls should have real flowers to plant around their little cubby house to enjoy before the frosts come again.

Or maybe they'll be big enough to survive some icyness.  I am still learning about gardening in Canberra where there are frosts from Easter to Melbourne Cup Day (first Tues in November).  The weather is amazing here.  This time last week it was 1.6 degC before dawn (a new record).  There was even some snow in the mountains.  It is summer for heavens sake.  Today it is hot again and we enjoyed an afternoon swim in the local pool.

At this stage also, it appears I have some competition - the lettuce has all been eaten.  Pesky snails I'm assuming.

A fitting way to commence the year in our new home don't you think.  Planting seeds, being thrilled and excited as we nurture and care for them and see them sprout and grow.  And all of this happening in our newly purchased own home.  I do love a bit of symbolism.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This Time Last Year

This time last year we had left our home in Adelaide and were living in a motel room without a car.  The only familiarity we had was each other.  We couldn't search the city to look for our new home so we huddled together in our room crafting together, occasionally walking a little to find some food and explore our new surrounds.  

Canberra had given us a horrid welcome at the airport.  With three children and two adults we needed to ensure we'd all fit into a taxi along with the driver.  So we prepared well and booked ahead as the usual taxi sedan would not provide adequate seating for us.  Apparently you can't book taxis to collect you from the airport (although no-one thought to advise us of this when the booking was made).  They assumed we referred to the Airport Hotel.  Whether that actually exists or not, I am still uncertain.

So on Friday evening at dinner time, bereft of everything familiar, we stood outside the airport with our hungry little girls trying to find a cab which could carry us.  Vans were few and far between, some we saw were apparently on other missions, others were backed up in the queue of cabs waiting to transport travellers and couldn't leave the queue to assist us.  As you might imagine, it was very unpleasant with tired, hungry, homeless children, not knowing where they were, having been uprooted from their home, with tired, stressed parents also not knowing how we could get them to our accommodation.  As we reluctantly considered the extra cost of hiring two taxis which also required us to be split up in an unknown city, we finally found a van which could carry us.  Thus commenced our journey into Canberra.

We arrived at our accommodation after dark and decided to put our littlest pair to bed without tea.  At least I was fully breastfeeding my baby so this didn't impact her greatly.  My middle Eee also rarely eats tea but loves her sleep so we decided sleep was more important for her than a meal.  We found a brochure to order some Italian food from somewhere local, ordered via mobile phone, got locality details and waited.  My Generous Gentleman set out on foot in the dark, in an unknown area to collect our takeaway. We hoped he didn't get lost and that the directions the restauranteur had given were accurate.  Fortunately he arrived anon without too much difficulty and we sat down to enjoy some food in our little motel room which was to become our home for much longer than anticipated.

At least we were together, our possessions were en route, or in storage, simply waiting for us to find another place to make our home.  We would find a place... eventually... little did we know the journey that would be ours in the year that lay ahead.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unexpected Discovery

This is what we found recently on an unexpected pit stop needed by our four year old Eee.

We were actually a little annoyed with her because we had just passed a number of toilets in the town of Braidwood which we had just driven through. Fortunately however we soon found this stop for her to relieve herself and for us to find a place we might return to one day to enjoy a picnic and a time of exploration and discovery.

Here we are at the Shoalhaven River by the Warri Bridge.  When you are driving along the highway and across the bridge, you just don't notice the beauty lying underneath.

So many wildflowers to feast our senses.  Beautiful isn't it!

We were ll so glad we stopped.  Thanks little Eee.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve - Morning walk

Kangaroo - always an early morning visitor

It's quite unusual for me to rise before my children, but I did so this morning.
My Dad is visiting and has been walking around our new neighbourhood each morning.
Today I decided I should join him, particularly as he spoke of heading to the Nature Park nearby.

We spent two hours wandering, chatting, taking in the sights, exploring nature and stopping to take in the finer details of many things through my camera.  The photos will tell much of our story.

Come enjoy a refreshing little walk with us through this reserve.

Everlasting Daisy

Cauliflower Bush - Cassinia ?

Cauliflower Bush - Cassinia aculeata (I believe)

It seems there's a natural spring here, my Dad thinks, 
or perhaps the water is flowing due to the excess rain we have had.

All in all it's a very pretty spot.
Next time I will bring my girls.

They will adore all the flowers,
and the kangaroos will be a treat for them also.

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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