Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I've Found A New Home

Posted by MANDI at 8:12 PM 0 comments
Yep, I'm giving Wordpress a try. Not althogether thrilled to pieces by that at the moment but give me time and I'm sure I'll warm to it. Here's where you can find me now.

Hope I see you over there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Still Broken

Posted by MANDI at 2:12 PM 5 comments
Well, the blog is still broken and I can't work out how to fix it. It won't do what I want, I can't load any photos and I seem to have lost half the buttons I need when writing a post.

I'll keep trying for a bit longer but... I'm a little bit afraid this might be the end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oops!

Posted by MANDI at 9:43 PM 6 comments
I just broke my blog. I'm doing my best to get it sorted out but, with my somewhat limited technical knowledge, it might take a while. Please bear with me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chuffed

Posted by MANDI at 8:08 PM 1 comments
I'm really feeling rather chuffed with myself right at the moment. First day back at school after two and a half weeks of sleep-ins, pyjama days and a complete and utter lack of rushing and I managed to get everyone ready, packed and out of the door on time. I worked today and for dinner we had a delicious Beef and Red Wine Stew that I'd popped into the freezer a couple of weeks ago. I'm working again tomorrow and dinner for then is taken care of too - Spag bol that I made over the weekend and froze for Wednesday night. School clothes have been laid out ready for the morning and I've bought fresh rolls for tomorrow's lunches. My organisational skills appear to know no bounds.

Don't worry, it's only the first week of term. I'm pretty sure we'll be hitting the tinned baked beans and toast for dinner, rummaging through the ironing basket and resorting to lunch orders at some point through the term.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Dreams For A Little Girl

Posted by MANDI at 5:51 PM 3 comments
Offspring #2 has decided that she will be a doctor when she grows up. She's also decided that she will have a pink 'Herbie car' ie a VW Beetle, and a pink purse. These aren't new plans, she's been talking about them for at least the last four months.

Today she added to them. Her latest plan is that she'll live next door to me so we can have "lots of cups of teas together" and "we can talk to each other over the fence". Sometimes I'll even be allowed to go to her house for dinner, though I might have to cook it because she'll be very busy working, "being a doctor and fixing all the people who are hurt".

Those are big dreams for a tiny little four year old and of course she's going to change her mind a million time between now and actually being a 'grown up' but I'm loving these conversations.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cheesecake With A Twist

Posted by MANDI at 3:13 PM 0 comments
I'll freely admit that while this recipe had me excited it also had me a little perplexed. How on earth do you make a cheesecake without gelatine, or some sort of setting agent? Without a crust? And as for serving it warm? Well, that's just plain weird. But... this is easily one of the best desserts I've made. I took it to our Christmas in July dinner and it was absolutely delicious, perfect for a wet, cold winter's night and totally simple to put together.


Sticky Date Cheesecake
from The Australian Women's Weekly Cheesecakes Pavlovas and Trifles



This cheesecake can be served warm or at room temperature
1 cup (170g) dried dates, pitted, chopped
3/4 cup (180ml) water
3 x 250g packets cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2/3 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 cup (40g) flaked almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
2/3 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar, extra
1/2 cup (125ml) cream
100g butter, chopped


Grease a 23cm springform tin; line base and side with baking paper
Combine dated and water in medium saucepan; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Strain dates over medium saucepan; reserve liquid, cool dates.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to moderately slow (160C). Beat cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth; add egg, sugar and spices; beat until combined, fold in dates.
Place tin on oven tray, pour cheesecake mixture into tin. Sprinkle with almonds and cinnamon sugar. Bake in moderately slow oven about 1 hour, or until firm. Cool in oven with door ajar.
Stir remaining ingredients to reserved date liquid in pan, stir over heat until butter is melted; simmer, uncovered , 2 minutes.
Serve cheesecake with warm sauce.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun In The Kitchen

Posted by MANDI at 7:54 PM 4 comments
Offspring #2 had a friend to play today and, as it's school holidays I thought we'd do something a bit special and fun. I'd promised her that when this particular friend came to play we could do some cooking and when I came across these gorgeous little cupcakes I knew we had to make them.

These were so easy but looked fantastic. I cheated and used a cake mix for the cupcake part - chocolate, of course. Then it was a simple matter of topping them with some green icing, rolling the edge in a little tinted coconut, popping in a lollypop 'flower' and using a halved spearmint leaf lolly as the leaves.


The girls had so much fun decorating them and were, justifiably, well pleased with their efforts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

No Time To Blog

Posted by MANDI at 7:56 PM 2 comments
I have the mums here for knitting - they're busy with difficult things like jumpers (sweaters for you lot in the US) while I'm onto yet another scarf. At least this one is with fluffy pretty wool so it'll look a little bit different from the other 932 scarves I've made.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Mid-Winter Christmas Feast

Posted by MANDI at 6:18 PM 1 comments
As my readers from other lands are no doubt aware, here in the land Down-under Christmas falls smack in the middle of summer. Most of us have fond (or not!) memories of sweltering through a stinking hot Christmas made even hotter by the ancestors need for a 'proper', ie cooked, Christmas dinner. Imagine, if you will, all the stresses of hosting Christmas for the family while dealing with our summer days of 35-40C temps and cooking the full roast dinner, with steamed pudding to finish. Urrggghhh. I'm very happy with the current trend of salads, cold roasted meats and fresh seafood followed up by dreamy cool desserts like my favourite pavlova.
But... such a dinner has it's place and part of the fun of our Christmas in July dinner was to have all the warm dishes we simply don't want in the middle of summer. And my word, did we ever meet that requirement!

My soup course, though a little spicier than I'd anticipated, was well received and just perfect for a wet, rainy winter's night. Some natural yoghurt took the edge off the spice and Turkish Bread Croutons were something different to top the soup. I will definitely be making this one again.

I doubled the recipe for our dinner party but have provided the original version here. The photo is from the leftovers that Hubby and I enjoyed for lunch today.


Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea Soup
from taste.com.au - The Very Useful Winter Book


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
500g carrots, peeled, sliced
6 cups reduced-salt chicken stock (I added some extra water)
300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1/2 small lemon, juiced
Turkish bread croutons, to serve

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and carrot. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes. Add stock. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
2. Add chickpeas and simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.
3. Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring, until hot (do not boil). Ladle into bowls. Top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper.

Turkish Bread Croutons
Halve a Turkish loaf lenghtways and chop into 2cm cubes. Spray lightly with olive oil spray. Place on a tray and bake at 200C for 10 minutes or until golden.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Posted by MANDI at 4:40 PM 3 comments
No, I haven't gone completely loopy. I'm off to a Christmas In July dinner with a few of the neighbours tonight. There are five households involved and we 'made' the couple with the biggest house play host. Sounds mean but theirs is they only place we'll all fit comfortably into (and they volunteered for that very reason!). We've divied up the menu to come up with five courses and are taking/making a couple of things each - I've made two new recipes which is a bit risky so I'm hoping they'll be well received. The first is a Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea soup that, from this afternoon's taste test, is delicious but rather spicy. The second is a Sticky Date Cheesecake. That's the one I'm not sure about. It can be served warm or at room temperature and has a warm caramel-y sauce to pour over it. Fingers crossed it's going to come out of the tin okay otherwise everyone will be getting a scoop of gloop in their dessert bowls!
We've got enough food to feed a small nation, Christmas Crackers, Secret Santa gifts, drinks on ice and kids spending the night with their grandparents. Now I have to get myself showered and prettied up and then it's across the road and down a bit for FUN FUN FUN.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And The Winner Is....

Posted by MANDI at 3:46 PM 1 comments





Congratulations Donna! I'll be in touch to organise your voucher. Can't wait to see what you get with it.

Many thanks to Buyster for providing the voucher for their online store for this giveaway. And many thanks to all of you for leaving such gorgeous comments - you guys rock!



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quickly Running In... To Whinge

Posted by MANDI at 8:46 PM 3 comments
I've been working the past couple of days while the school-teaching Hubby has been enjoying the school hol's with the kids. Why is it that when he comes home from work it's to a nice tidy house, a nice meal for dinner and the laundry is generally pretty up-to-date but when he's home and I'm working I come home to house that looks like it threw up on itself. Okay, that's possibly just a bit of a bitchy over-reaction but dammit, the house was messier when I got home that it was when I left.
Is anyone else having trouble with facebook? I haven't been able to get in all day and I may well be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Offspring #2 has a cold and has ever so kindly shared it, in varying degrees, with the rest of us. I'm doing my best to fight it but when you're allergic to pretty much everything that contains good doses of vitamin C it does make it a little difficult. I've hit my fallback position- hot tea and buttered toast. On the plus side she's had a cold for three days and hasn't had an asthma attack yet - this is actually HUGE news - it's the first time ever that she's deviated from the regular pattern of 'onset of cold followed two hours later by asthma attack followed by several days of misery and nights of wheezing, coughing, puking and no sleep'. I don't want to jinx things by saying that this is a massive development and we're a teeny little bit excited so I just won't tell you that.

Anyway, whining aside... don't forget to enter my giveaway if you haven't already. It closes at 12noon (my time) Thursday so hop to it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Lovely Day For A Picnic

Posted by MANDI at 8:32 PM 4 comments
We caught up with some friends today for a picnic up at Mundaring Weir. The weir provides water to pretty much all of Perth and, because of the lack of rain in these parts, is looking very low.

Miss Charlotte, who attended my morning tea a few weeks back, was there in all her sleepy, cuddly, 7 or so week old glory. She is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous and my friend C and I fought over cuddles throughout the day.


We had a yummy bbq picnic lunch and the kids played and kicked the footy, explored and even found kangaroos. Sorry, we didn't get photos of them but I'll head back later this week and get some special kangaroo pics just for those of you who I know will be eager to see them. After lunch we took a walk across the weir wall.


And then climbed steps, steps and more steps on the way back.


And we made sure we crossed the road at the safest spot!

And just to prove that sometimes I do manage to be on the other side of the camera... here's me, looking very glamorous (NOT!) on the drive home.

It was a lovely, if freezing cold, day (16C today, but blue skies and sunny for the most part) and a terrific way to start the school holidays.

PS: Don't forget the giveaway. It's open till Thursday.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

No Time To Read

Posted by MANDI at 8:17 PM 3 comments
I have never really understood when people say they haven't time to read. For me, reading is like breathing. A necessary part of life. Without something to read I feel adrift and deprived. I read every single day - thrillers, chick-lit, mysteries, romances, biographies, magazines and newspapers. I re-read old favourites. And re-read and re-read and re-read - some are on my regular annual reading list, some I read every couple of years. The staff at the local library know me by name, the lady who looks after the book department at Big W knows my face and is usually keen to recommend something new or suggest something that she thinks I'll like. Yes, she has an idea of what I like. I'm not sure if that says something about how good she is at her job or how often I'm there, or maybe a little bit of both.
I never really understood it until I hit June. You might have noticed that my reading list hasn't been updated for some time. I've been busy knitting and I really haven't mastered that well enough to be able to read at the same time - I can barely manage to cope with having the tv on while I'm knitting! I've also been working my head off and any spare time I've had has been spent wrangling the kids, sorting meals, trying to keep the washing pile contained in the laundry and of course digging up bricks, pulling out plants and ripping down rock walls. And reading in bed proved pointless - I was so exhausted by the time I fell into bed each night that I kept falling asleep with my book in my hand and clunking myself if the head.
Despite that I have snuck in the odd bit of reading but each book has taken far longer to get through than normal. I finally read a book that I picked up at a second-hand store ages ago. I also hit Chantalle's suggestion, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I really enjoyed so I followed it up with the rest of the Millennium Trilogy. And I've just borrowed Lunch in Paris from a friend and can't wait to get into that. Thank goodness we've hit school holidays and, while I'll still be working a couple of days each week, things will slow down a wee bit. Which means I'll be finding some time to hit the couch with a book.
On a semi-related note, our state newspaper published a list of the top 100 books as voted by its readers this week. I've read about 40 of the 100 which I thought wasn't a bad effort but I was a bit annoyed that the first three on the list are each a series of books. The Twilight Saga, all the Harry Potter's and the Millennium Trilogy all count as one book each whereas, by my reckoning, there are 14 books in that lot. Here's the whole list, with what I've read hightlighted in blue. How many have you read?

Top 100 List
1 The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer
2 Harry Potter 1-7, J.K. Rowling
3 The Millennium Trilogy,Stieg Larsson
4 To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
5 The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
6 Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
7 My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult
8 Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris
9 The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
10 The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

11 Lunch in Paris, Elizabeth Bard
12 The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
13 Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

14 61 Hours, Lee Child
15 Dragon Haven, Robin Hobb
16 Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
17 The Silent Sea, Clive Cussler
18 Mao's Last Dancer, Li Cunxin
19 The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
20 Tuscan Rose, Belinda Alexandra
21 The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
22 The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
23 The Pacific, Hugh Ambrose
24 Ransom, David Malouf
25 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
26 Dear John, Nicholas Sparks
27 Magician, Raymond E. Feist
28 The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
29 House Rules, Jodi Picoult
30 Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
31 A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
32 Marley & Me, John Grogan
33 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Jane Austen & Steve
34 Breath, Tim Winton
35 The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons
36 Cloudstreet, Tim Winton
37 The People's Train, Thomas Keneally
38 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
39 Truth, Peter Temple
40 Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
41 Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
42 The Host, Stephenie Meyer
43 The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

44 The Book of Emmett, Deborah Forster
45 Ice Station, Matthew Reilly
46 The Road, Cormac Macarthy
47 The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards
48 Persuasion, Jane Austen
49 Jessica, Bryce Courtenay
50 Atonement,Ian McEwan
51 Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
52 The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet
53 The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo
54 April Fool's Day, Bryce Courtenay
55 Life of Pi, Yann Martel
56 Angels & Demons, Dan Brown
57 The Pact, Jodi Picoult
58 The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

59 Parrot and Olivier in America, Peter Carey
60 Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox
61 Seven Ancient Wonders, Matthew Reilly
62 The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
63 Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
64 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Burrows
65 The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
66 Solar, Ian McEwan
67 Fallen, Lauren Kate
68 The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
69 P.S. I Love You, Cecila Ahern
70 The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

71 Obernewtyn, Isobelle Carmody
72 A Fortunate Life, A.B. Facey
73 Handle with Care, Jodi Picoult
74 Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
75 Dirt Music, Tim Winton
76 It, Stephen King
77 Hourglass, Claudia Gray
78 Tully, Paullina Simons
79 The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
80 Shantaram: A Novel, Gregory David Roberts
81 The Princess Bride, William Goldman
82 Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
83 Requiem for a Species, Clive Hamilton
84 The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory
85 Break No Bones, Kathy Reichs
86 Animal Farm, George Orwell
87 The Six Sacred Stones, Matthew Reilly
88 The Five Greatest Warriors, Matthew Reilly
89 Maralinga, Judy Nunn
90 Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
91 One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
92 Worst Case, James Patterson
93 Once in a Lifetime, Cathy Kelly
94 The Stand, Stephen King
95 Anybody Out There, Marian Keyes
96 The Secret, Rhonda Byrne
97 Temple, Matthew Reilly
98 All That Remains, Patricia Cornwall
99 The Slap, Christos Tsolkias
100 Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
PS: Don't forget to enter my giveaway. It's open till Thursday and you just have to leave a comment over at that post.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

At 625 posts... My First Giveaway!

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 14 comments
Yep, you read it right. I've been blogging for almost 4 years and this is my 625th post. Time flies and all that, hey? Anyway, I recently got an email asking if I'd like to take part in a review or giveaway and since I love you all so much I figured I'd give it to you. I love that you read and (sometimes!) comment. That you offer suggestions for problems I'm dealing with - whether it's the kids, the garden or trying to find something to wear on a rare night out. That you have a go at some of the recipes I try and that some of our fave's have also become yours. I love that some of my real life friends read along and keep up on our news and that some of my cyber friends, or as hubby calls them - imaginary friends - have become my friends too. So, to say thankyou I'm going to pass on a $50 voucher from the lovely people at Buyster for their online store. They have everything from kitchenware to handbags to furniture like these lovely Melbourne bar stools.
So, the important stuff. How do you enter? It's easy-peasy. Just leave me a comment on this post. A comment about anything at all. You could tell my why you visit Red Dirt Mummy, what you'd like to spend the voucher on, or something that made you smile today. Whatever you want to say, I'd love to hear it.
Entries close 12noon, Thursday 8th July (Perth time) and, unfortunately, this is open to Australian readers only.
 

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