Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well, I Never!

Posted by MANDI at 8:12 PM 5 comments
I just did something I never thought I'd do up here in Red Dirt Central. After nearly two years, and just two weeks before we leave, I made Hubby bring the dryer out of the shed and set it up for me!


It has rained here since Tuesday night. Sure it's stopped for an hour or so, here and there, but it has been grey, gloomy (reasonably, unseasonably and fabulously cool) and wet for five long days. In fact, we've had over 100ml in the last 24 hours alone. We have the tiniest of back patios that gets soaked with every shower and nowhere to dry clothes. We do have a line strung up in the shed but that only goes so far and, with no breeze in there, anything on it takes ages to dry. After five days of putting off the washing because, "the rain can't last too much longer" we had hit desperation point. The toilet-training toddler had no underwear and was most displeased, the school-going lad had no uniforms and was becoming quite anxious and the parents-who-work-to-feed-clothe-and-keep-the-offspring-well-shod were in dire need of appropriate apparel. Hence the cry to Hubby.


Now I have a couple of loads of clean washing, each person in the house has been appeased, and the best bit (which I'd forgotten)... after they've been in the dryer, there's no need for ironing!


The rivers around here aren't the only water bodies in danger of flooding. Here's a picture of the pool this morning. The water level usually sits just under the top section.



Saturday, March 29, 2008

Scrapping Overload

Posted by MANDI at 2:02 PM 2 comments
My brain has just accepted the fact that all my scrapping supplies are going to be in storage for the next three or so months (don't ask! - if the situation is the same in another week I'll fill you in but I'm really crossing my fingers that it won't be) and has gone into scrap overload.


I finished the double page layout from the Midnight Madness event.







And I made a few cards while watching tv last night. I was watching Love Actually, which I've seen at least 20 times and have on DVD so I already knew when to laugh and when to cry which meant I could pay minimal attention to the tv and still know exactly what was going on LOL.










Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Blogs To Read!

Posted by MANDI at 5:05 PM 2 comments
Friends of ours recently moved 'up North', they're still a good few hundred kilometres away but a heck of a lot closer than most. Anyway, the she in the partnership has an absolutely gorgeous blog full of the most spectacular pieces of art she has created. Go check out Colour By Numbers and ooh and aah over Sam's creations. Tell her I sent you :)
Another blog that I'm loving is The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I found this one a while ago and it is gorgeous (that word again!), has delicious recipes, lots of wonderful pictures and clearly explains each and every step. Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman, also has another blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. I can only tell you how great it is at the moment because it's being made-over but it is totally worth checking out when it's up and running again.
And the final one for today is the blog of a fabulous and very lovely man I met at the Perth Bloggers Meet. I'm very much enjoying Belongum's Weblog and hope that you'll click over and check it out too.
I made a new recipe over the weekend, but as I'm still recovering from a tummy bug I'll save the food talk for another day.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Here's Proof

Posted by MANDI at 3:30 PM 5 comments
Proof that my parenting style for Offspring #2 is far more relaxed than it was when Offspring #1 was that age.



Just look at the chocolate and candy goop smeared all over her little fingers and face. No further evidence is required!




Saturday, March 22, 2008

Some Scrapping At Last

Posted by MANDI at 1:16 PM 3 comments
For someone who loves scrapping and has an enormous collection of scrapping materials, my efforts this year have been dismal to say the least. However, I did make it to a Midnight Madness event with some of the local scrappers last night and produced two single layouts along with an almost-finished double layout. I had a great night catching up with everyone and, as it happens, saying goodbye to most of them too.


Here are the two single pages I completed last night.






Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blah

Posted by MANDI at 10:18 PM 5 comments
Yeah, I should post today. I made a new dish for dinner last night - it was okay and worth posting, I just can't be bothered writing about it. Maybe later.
Work is doing my head in. Yet another mess to clean up today. A mess created by the very same person who has created the last 3 or 4 or even 5 that I have had to clean up. It's not the end of the world but that's not the point. This one came to my attention as I was collecting the kids after work and had to be dealt with there and then. Hubby was out (and not able to be contacted) so the poor kids had to be dragged around as I made phone calls, did some begging and finally got it all sorted. We eventually got home at 6.30 with a very (un)healthy dinner from McDonalds that we ate in front of tv. Three and a half weeks till I finish; I have heaps of stuff to do before then and at the moment it can't come soon enough. Tell me again why I felt the need to work till the last minute and why I have such a ridiculous need to leave it all running perfectly?
If you hear a loud noise from up Red Dirt way it's probably just my head exploding!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Chicken Pie

Posted by MANDI at 8:10 PM 2 comments
Different versions of chicken pie seem to have made fairly regular appearances on the menu of late. What can I say? It's easy, it's great to make the night before you want it, and I usually end up with leftovers - sometimes for the next day's lunch and sometimes even enough for an easy word-day dinner.


This was a first effort from a new-ish recipe book. That is, I've had it awhile I just hadn't got around to using it yet. It's one I saw and couldn't resist (though I did wait till the price was heavily reduced as justification LOL) and though it has lots of interesting ideas none truly fitted what I was after until now. I also have to admit that I just don't love the way the recipes are written - I like them all laid out nicely in order so I can get organised and know what has to happen next. No, it's not hard to follow these recipes it just takes a slightly different brain to the one I have. I made a couple of slight changes to the recipe - I only had 1 1/2 cups of stock and I used just under 1 cup of sour cream in the place of the whipping cream. Oh, I added corn too.


Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie
3 Ways With... Ross Dobson


Have your oven hot and ready at 220C. Heat 60g butter in a frying pan. When sizzling hot, add 1 chopped carrot and 2 chopped celery stalks and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add 2 tablespoons plain flour and cook for 2 minutes (it should thickly coat the vegetables) but be careful not to burn the flour). Add the chopped meat from half a barbecued chicken, 1/2 cup peas and a handful of chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley. Stir around for a minute then add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup whipping cream. Season well and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Spoon into an ovenproof dish and top with some puff pastry, trimmed to fit the dish, or a layer of potato mash and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Last Ever Junket!

Posted by MANDI at 9:01 PM 7 comments
Perth was great. When I checked into my hotel I was told that I'd been upgraded to an executive suite - I guess it pays to write nice things about the place in the feedback forms ;) The room wasn't any bigger than when I stayed there last time but I was on the top floor and had a king-size bed. It was exactly as wide as I am tall! It was also super comfy.
Work went well - I did my presentation and, apart from stuffing up the timing, it all worked out okay. I received a lovely, and completely unexpected, farewell from the WA team. It was nice to know that while I have stressed out about every little thing and don't think I've achieved all that much even though I've been working my butt off since I opened the branch in November, my bosses are very impressed with what I've done and had some very nice things to say about my efforts. I haven't been working with the organisation for very long so was pretty much expecting a 'see you later' and nothing more so was quite chuffed with the farewell speech and bottle of wine at our meeting.
The socialising was good. Four of my friends came and met me for dinner on Monday. Finding a restaurant that's open in the city on a Monday night was difficult so I'd made a booking at one place mostly because it was right near my hotel and across the road from parking for the others. I've eaten there before and the food's fine, in fact it's one of my fave's for coffee and cake when we're out shopping, but dinner is a different story. I arrived before them and knew it was a mistake right away. I was at least 30 years younger than anyone else in the place and there was a man singing and playing keyboard who should have been locked up, or maybe used as some sort of 'what not to do' for potential singing stars. The music he was murdering was right from the era of most of the diners but way before my time and, frankly just really annoying. Anyway, I politely told the waitress on the front counter that we had changed our minds (she didn't seen real surprised and was very nice about it) and we went across the road to an Italian cafe. The food wasn't flash but I think it was a better choice than the first restaurant LOL. I had a nice night and it was so nice to see 'the girls', even better knowing that I'll see them again in just a few weeks.
I did a bit of shopping - a couple of winter-type things for me, quick (and small) presents for the kids and hubby - but didn't really have much time to spare during shopping hours. Normally this would have been a bit disappointing but... it wasn't so bad seeing lovely things and knowing I'll be back to buy them next month!
On Wednesday night I met up with some Perth bloggers. I found Karen's blog through Iris and check in on a semi-regular basis. When I last dropped by she had posted about a blogger's meet that was happening while I was in Perth and was really easy to get to from my hotel. I ummed and ahhed before sending her a quick email to ask whether I could join in. She very kindly welcomed me along and was as lovely in real life as she is in her blog. All up there were about 20 bloggers, mostly from Perth, and it was an interesting and entertaining night. I met a couple of bloggers who, like me, blog for themselves and don't necessarily have huge amounts of technical knowledge but learn as they go or as they need to. I met bloggers who speak a whole different language but recognised that I don't and were kind enough to speak s-l-o-w-l-y and give me some good tips for things I have been trying to do or want to have a go at doing. And of course there were the obligatory couple who were too cool and couldn't be bothered talking to the newcomers. That said, the vast majority were friendly, warm and very welcoming and I am looking forward to checking out their blogs and saying hi.
That was my last work trip and I can't, at this stage, imagine I'll have another job that requires plane travel, hotel stays and much drinking of wine (no, wait that last bit was just an added bonus!) so it was a bit sad to have it come to an end. On the upside, as the plane was landing, I thought, "Well, that's the last time I'll ever fly into Red Dirt Central!" I do still have one more trip to Port Red Dirt but that will be a day trip and it's not for a couple of weeks.
Oh, and I found another reason to love blogging. As I said at the beginning of this post, I had to do a presentation about my branch at the WA team meeting and had written a few notes but was taking it fairly casually - not too much to report and I'm leaving anyway, so why get all uptight about it? - until the team leader's meeting the day before when I heard what the others were doing and had a not so silent panic! Cut to that night in my hotel room attempting to put together a speccy, technologically fabulous presentation with little or no material. Lightbulb moment! Lots of my 'red dirt' pics are on my blog. Lots of photos of my kids are on my blog. My presentation is about kids/education and what we're doing in the Red Dirt branch! And because I'm up here no-one in Perth has ever seen my kids to know that's them in the photos. Insert feverish efforts and much evil laughing and... I had a presentation I was pretty darn proud of. Yay for me. And a really big YAY for blogging!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

One Of My Favourite Desserts

Posted by MANDI at 1:15 PM 5 comments
I love Banoffee Pie and have tried a couple of different recipes. We had friends to dinner last night (the round of 'last dinners' has begun) so it gave me a chance to try one I'd had floating around for awhile. This one's pretty good, though it's very rich so just a little slice goes a long way.


Banoffee Pie
Australian Table, November 2007


1 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
125g cold butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg yolk
395g can sweetened condensed milk
60g butter, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
3 bananas, thickly sliced on the diagonal
whipped cream and grated nutmeg to serve

1. Grease a 22cm loose-based flan pan. Sift four into a large bowl and rub in butter, using fingertips, until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar. Add egg yolk and 1-2 tablespoons cold water and mix with a metal spatula, until mixture comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 200C (or 180C fan-forced). Roll out pastry between two sheets of plastic wrap until 5mm thick. Ease into prepared pan, press into sides and trim edges. Chill for 15 minutes. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and filling and bake for another 15 minutes, until golden. Cool.
3. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk, sugar and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan on low heat. Stir for 10 minutes until golden. Cool.
4. Pour caramel into pastry case and chill for 2 hours, until firm. Arrange bananas on top (I drizzled melted chocolate over the bananas - banoffee pie needs a touch of chocolate!). Spoon whipped cream on top, sprinkle with nutmeg and cut into wedges to serve.


In other news, I'm off to Perth with work for most of the week. Dinner with the girls on Monday night, dinner with the two staff I just hired (Yay for me!! I finally managed to hire staff for Port Red Dirt) and a possible meeting with some Perth bloggers on Wednesday night. I'm going to be way too busy to work LOL. Fingers crossed, by the time I get back to Red Dirt Central we'll have some news on housing for when we move and the removalists will have given us an uplift date.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Words, Glorious Words

Posted by MANDI at 8:09 PM 3 comments
Offspring #1 has always had a fairly extensive vocab. We could say it's because his mum used to be an English teacher, reads constantly and loves big words but it's more likely that she just never shuts up and he has inherited the 'chatterbox gene' LOL. In the last few weeks some new words have cropped up - one we loved was 'disappointing'. Apparently Miss Teacher uses it quite a bit when the kids aren't quite doing what they should. He has had a wonderful time shaking his head and muttering it at his little sister when she does everything from spill her drink at dinner to chucking a wobbly in the shops. Also making an appearance was 'impressive'. A nice contrast, he uses this one when I've made something particularly tasty for dinner or when the aforementioned little sister creates an artistic masterpiece and is demanding praise. Rounding out the list last weekend was 'astounding'. This one threw us for a loop as we couldn't quite track down the source but we enjoyed it anyway, especially when every bit of information we told him was met with an astonished shake of the head and, you guessed it... an enthusiastic "astounding!"
Added to his ever expanding vocab he has been bringing home 5 new words each week and we drill him on reading them and spelling them. They are the beginning-reader-type words that the kids need to recognise. They are very simple and the kids are encouraged to sound them out. We've also started asking him how he would use each word in a sentence, partly because I want to check that he is sure of what the word is - it's easy to mis-hear a word and then get it wrong for years and years - and partly because his efforts just crack us up. One of the words in this week's list is had. He did a great job of sounding it out, said it effortlessly and wrote it very nicely. Then I asked him to put it in a sentence. He looked at me for a moment, cocked his head to the side and then came out with (in a forlorn little voice) ... "I had a future." I praised his efforts, sent him to pack away his homework and ran straight to tell Hubby where, I must admit we fell about the place laughing . #1 might not think learning is that much fun but Hubby and I think it's hilarious!
 

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