Saturday, 28 February 2009

Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff

I'd forgotten I'd written a review for this book. Rel reminded me when she emailed to say it had been posted. My goodness...where has my head been? In packing the car and getting my quilt blocks and cutting completed by Wednesday, I'd say! I tell you, I'm so ready to move on to some embroidery!

In any case, my review for Rachel's Secret has been posted at here at Relz Reviewz. I loved BJ's style and the story itself was refreshing in the midst of all the other wonderful stories about the Amish people that I love so well.

I was trying to post a picture of the cover but after about 7 tries I've given up. It kept freezing on me.

Friday, 27 February 2009

There's No Place Like Home

We've had a fun day, considering we had officially 'evacuated! I don't know, I reckon we just had a day out....with the car all packed up as well!

We managed to successfully purchase long pants for Miss Sunshine as well as some other essential attire for her. WOOHOO! We bought saucepans. We looked at cookbooks but by then Mr Busy was beyond being corralled by the constraints of polite shopping centre behaviour so we left. In between, of course, we visited the food court and had lunch. Along with a number of other families from Our School. One of those we saw was one of Mr Busy's teachers. She seemed to think holding Our School at the shopping centre might've been productive, given the number of us wandering the halls there!

And then we visited with some very special friends who happily welcomed us for the afternoon and evening. The kids had fun and insisted we keep talking so they could finish watching a Vegie Tales movie about Jonah.

There were, apparently, no new fires today despite dire warnings from the CFA. We're relieved that all is safe and well in our little corner of the world and that we can sleep in our own beds without worrying at all.

The kids did much better with their packing this time. One little suitcase each and a couple of very little bags for shoes etc. They did well.

Random Musings on Quilting, Fire Safety & Whatever!

This week I have discovered the pure delight of a sharp needle in the sewing machine and a new blade in my rotary cutter. Did you know that you shouldn't need to press down hard as you cut? I didn't, so old was my rotary cutter. In fact, I'm not really sure how I acquired it ~ but today it has a new blade. I feel like a new woman! I should've replaced that blade 10 months ago before embarking on my Block of the Month quilt.


We are enacting our fire plan today. Ours is to leave. Today we're leaving before any threat appears. All the schools in the Dandenong's have been closed by the Education department because of the predicted severe conditions. Our School had already made that decision on Wednesday. We have some shopping to do for Miss Sunshine....and my saucepans :) So we'll do that, have lunch and then we're spending the afternoon with some friends at their place.

Dh & I have had many discussions since Wednesday about his perception of the level of what has thinks is panic in the community. Normally we wouldn't leave on a Total Fire Ban day. There is a rather close fire to consider now, though. It's a little too close for my comfort. There have been a couple of small fires this morning, apparently, up the hill from us. I just think it would be very silly to stay when we all feel uncomfortable.

In any case, we've had a lovely little sleep in and once I get dishes done and some bills paid etc we'll pack up ONE little overnight bag each and head off. You can bet my quilt blocks will be amongst the items we take though!


I am going to buy two saucepans today. Yes I know that sounds incredibly boring....BUT.... I have one saucepan with no lid. One with a lid that has not handle (very tricky, let me tell you) and all my saucepans have cracks on the underside of the handles. So I am excited about replacing my sad bunch for a bright shiney new...couple!

The other day I also found my way to the Borders email newsletter, and upon subscribing, was given a 20% off voucher. I'll be going to find myself a new cook book :) A bookshelf full is never enough. Actually, I should take some old books down to the second hand cook book place and see if she'd like to buy any. I have a whole shelf of books I never look at.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Char Kway Teow

I tried making Dh's favourite Chinese dish last night ~ Char Kway Teow. It's a rice noodle dish with prawns and Chinese sausage. Since the girls were out for dinner it was the perfect (read: cheaper) night to give it a go. I've saved a little serve each for them to try though.

The only time Dh can be swayed from ordering this if we are buying Chinese food is if it's not on the menu in that restaurant or we're having Yum Cha. He's that single minded and enarmoured. So when he came across the recipe in the Herald Sun over the holidays you can be sure he ripped out and handed it to me to give it a go. It's only taken me two months to get my act (and my wallet) together! Prawns aren't cheap here.

Char Kway Teow

vegetable oil
500g green prawns (peeled)
3 cloves garlic
2 packets fresh rice noddles
6 Chinese sausages (lap cheong) thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chilli paste (sambal oelek)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
2 large handfuls fresh bean sprouts

120ml light soy sauce
15ml dark soy sauce
15 ml oyster sauce
15ml fish sauce
30g sugar
5g white pepper

  1. Combine sauce ingredients and mix well.
  2. Heat work as high as possible. Add oil and stir fry prawns with garlic until fragrant (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add flat rice noodles and Chinese sausage; toss for a few minutes.
  4. Add chilli paste and kway teow sauce and toss for a couple of minutes before adding the eggs; continue to toss.
  5. Finally, add chopped chives and bean sprouts. Toss briefly and serve.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

We're Fine

We spent the night safely tucked in our own beds right here at home. We have a family member and friends who evacuated and have spent the night with family or friends down the hill. The fire is now listed as contained although large and the number of fire trucks attending is quite small compared to yesterday. I've heard a number of helicopters go over this morning though.


Before all that 'excitement' I manage to get four and a half Courthouse Steps blocks completed. I'll finish that last one today and change the needle in my machine. YAY. It's so blunt now! Then I think I have three other machine pieced blocks to finish plus the hand pieced one I'm half way through. I feel good about being all done by next Wednesday.

I was having a little look around Cinderberry Stitches the other day. Natalie is working on a deliciously yummy project right now. I'm inspired to get back to some embroidery.....after my quilt blocks are done!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Something I Never Thought About

It has dawned on me this afternoon...we've never done a 'fire drill'. Not just an ordinary house fire kind of drill, but a bushfire emergency kind of drill.

With plumes of smoke coming from just over a very close hill this afternoon and fire trucks having just whooshed past our house we have enacted our fire plan. I picked up the kids from school and we've come home to pack essential items. Everything is near the front door ... just in case the wind changes and the fire heads this way.

What have I discovered? The girls have no idea what constitutes "essential". It has been rather comical, albeit a little frustrating. Come tomorrow you can be sure I will be working on a 'Kids Bushfire Packing List'. They will each have one and I will not be going through the tears and tantrums that we have had today!

And so we wait. I don't think we'll be going anywhere.....then again who can know. On a completely unessential note, and I hope she won't me my saying this. But if things go a little pear shaped I'll keep my friend Rel from Relz Reviewz up to date.

Monday's Menu Plan....Etc

We've managed to while away another weekend rather pleasantly. I was very tempted to head off down the hill to anywhere that has a General Trader shop to replace some saucepans that need to hit the recycling bin. I am rather taken with Scanpan's new 'Impact' line. Stainless steel with glass lids. Perfect. However, shopping with children isn't so fun. I also had a hankering for 'Maggie's Table' and 'Nigella Express' or 'Nigella Feasts' cookbooks the other day. A trip to Borders might be in order there. Definitely a trip requiring no children!

So I will stick with my nearly dead saucepans another week and continue my little fascination with 'Maggie's Kitchen'.

Monday: Chicken in Fig Bath (minus the figs I think!)
Tuesday: Char Kway Teow
Wednesday: Lamb Moussaka
Thursday: Honey Lemon Chicken
Friday: Fish & vegies
Saturday: Chicken Wings & salad
Sunday: Roast (whatever's on special)

Dh visited a local orchard the other day so I have an overflowing abundance of apples. I think some stuffed baked apples for dessert may be in order this week. Maybe a Plum Clafouti as well...seeing as how he bought a big bag of those too. Beautiful big juicy blood plums. Mmmmm.


Today is another high fire alert day in my area, with two big fires still going in our vicinity. Mostly it's to do with the wind speed and direction more than heat I think. In any case, the CFA website has listed communities closer to us for high alert. A good day for being close to home with the ABC radio streaming live online and having my little fire box & photo albums all prepared. Not to mention a couple of children's wardrobes where clothes need to be re-folded and put into neat piles ~ where they and I can find what they need quickly.

And after all that....Monday is the perfect day for lots of quilt sewing in between re-runs of 'The Cook and the Chef' over lunch. Perhaps another episode from Little House on the Prairie and some general tidying up and putting away of the myriad of items that end up floating about where they shouldn't. I do love Monday's.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

More 'Maggie' Moments

I've stolen this photo from Maggie Beer's website to tempt you!

We had another 'Maggie Moment' at dinner last night. Chook Legs in Vino Cotto. The kids took one look at the picture and said "oh you're not putting olives in it are you?". No...I wouldn't waste such pleasures on the unappreciative. I also didn't put capers in, or the raisins. Or almonds. I would've loved the almonds, but Miss Sunshine is allergic to nuts. And I used balsamic vinegar instead of vino cotto. It's what I have in my cupboard.

Despite all that the meal was absolutely delicious. The chicken was perfectly tender and juicy and the flavour was soooooo good! I served it with hasselback potatoes drizzled baked in a little bit of cream, green beans with bacon and steamed carrots. We had no plates left so I gathered my little collection of vintage plates and we ate off those. Not only delicious, but beautiful as well. The recipe is online ~ just click on the link above.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Schools Kill Creativity

I am not meaning to be controversial, nor demeaning in any way!!!!

During our staff devotions at school this morning, my daughter's English teacher (Mr B) played a part of a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson. The talk was titled 'Schools Kill Creativity'. We listened to a few minutes of the talk from about 8:40 minutes in, about the hierarchy of education. Sir Ken is hilariously entertaining and I will be listening to the rest of the talk as soon as the kids turn the telly behind me off. Certainly this morning, we all laughed to the point of tears, so entertaining was his expression and so true were his words.

Sir Ken offers good reason for encouraging children to pursue subjects they love, rather than plodding through classes they hate in order to do a job they couldn't care less about. I want my children to be fulfilled by the careers they choose and to enjoy their time at work. I wish someone had encouraged me to follow this path. Who knows what I might have done had I been encouraged to pursue things I was passionate about. Heaven knows I'm not that passionate about typing LOL.

Gillian's story had me in tears. Hers is a story to make us think about who our children really are, rather than seeing them through the lens of education and what society tells them they should be.

If you want to listen to Sir Ken Robinson's talk, you will find it here. Make sure you have no liquid in your mouth and that you have tissues nearby.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Revisiting the Tip

Some of you who have journeyed with me for some time now will remember this post about Mr Busy's tip of a bedroom.

I'm about to head back in there and deal with it all again. He's been very good about keeping his floor clean but oh my, you should see the wardrobe! Things are shoved all hither and thither and if you want something from the bottom (should you know that's where it is in the first place) the whole lot would fall on you. It's also a health hazard. If we needed to leave suddenly because of fire we'd never be able to find his clothes in the jumble on the shelves. The child would be naked. I wouldn't risk our safety to search for his clothes!

So...wish me well. I'm off now to risk my health and sanity to get his room back into order.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Answers Anyone?

I'm very frustrated right about now. I've been trying to post comments on some of my favourite blogging friend's blogs and my computer just won't think. After five or more tries I've given up. Every time we plug the laptop into the modem (because the wireless at home doesn't work for some reason) my computer has a hissy fit. It takes me three or four refreshes to get a page to load up because it just freezes without doing anything. The little icon says it's thinking but I can see it's really not. If anyone has any knowledge about how to fix what is apparently an information overload problem with the modem I would so love to hear it! I'm about ready to throw the laptop into the tip and get violent with my own computer.

My other dilemma involves the kitchen. I know you'll be surprised to hear this, but I just can't seem to come up with something delicious, grain free, quick and healthy for lunches. I get home, look into the pantry and fridge and think "ho hum, it would be easier to just skip lunch". There's just only so much salad a girl can eat, and beyond that I am so completely uninspired.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

More About Food

It seems I'm on a roll with this particular topic this week! I promise, I've done other things too though. I've found the desk under all the papers. I've met with my fellow Women of Worth. I've been to work. In the midst of all that I manage a couple of hours to dine with a friend over a simple lunch.

Tonight we're having a 'Maggie Meal'. We are having Braised Waxy Potatoes and Herb Crusted Flathead. Without the fennel. I couldn't find any regardless, but I just don't think my adventurous children are quite that adventurous. We'll have carrots and green beans with that I think. I think I've finally made it out of my exhaustion enough to enjoy cooking, even though we got home late.

I'll let you know how they taste, but the smells in my home right now is perfectly delicious. Maggie's recipes are always simple and yet beautiful.

Monday, 16 February 2009

My Brown Rice Method

Lisa from The Tin House asked me how I cook my brown rice. Rather than having to fossick through 'comments' to find it again, I thought I'd post it. Particularly since the method I use delivers a rather good result. Nice and light ~ almost fluffy.

I had my BIL lug a copy of 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon all the way from the US. He was oh so glad to be rid of the hefty volume. I was giddy with delight at receiving it and spent many a morning over breakfast devouring its contents. I've learned so much from this book. It's not just a recipe book. It is chock full of fascinating information that has seen me completely rethink healthy nutrition for our family. For those of you in the US, you should be able to find it in the library. For those of us in'll need to go to great lengths to get your hands on a copy. But I promise it is one of those things that is worth the effort.

Basic Brown Rice II

2 cups long grain or short grain brown rice
4 cups warm filtered water plus 4 tablespoons whey, yoghurt, kefir or buttermilk
1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
2-4 tablespoons butter (optional)

  1. Place rice, and water mixture in a saucepan. Cover and leave in a warm place for 7 hours.
  2. Bring to a boil, skim, reduce heat, stir in salt and butter and cover tightly. Without removing lid, cook over lowest heat possible for about 45 minutes. (keep an eye on it ~ you may need more water).
  3. Drain in a colander. I use hot tap water to rinse before serving.
  • For those with milk allergies, or like me, don't usually keep the acidic dairy ingredients mentioned, you can use lemon juice or vinegar instead. I always have vinegar in the pantry so that's what I generally use.
  • The soaking time has no effect on the end result. You just won't get the benefits soaking gives. The rice will still turn out just as well.
The reason for the long soak, is that this will neutralise enzyme inhibitors. The rice is then easier to digest and increases the amounts of vitamins, especially B vitamins. This also helps protect against developing allergies, diseases and mental illnesses. That is the very basic reason for soaking the grains. However there is far more to it and the information is in the book.

Monday's Menu Mayhem

I'm sitting here enjoying a cup of tea and a lemon muffin from the other day. Bliss. Pure, silent, tasty bliss. It wasn't intentional, but I think I'm going to enjoy quiet Monday's and a little sweet treat just makes it all that much nicer.

This morning my 'Maggie's Kitchen' cookbook joined me for breakfast, so I'm feeling a little more inspired with my meals than I have been. I've been so tired over the last couple weeks that meal inspiration has been pretty low on my radar.

Monday: Chicken Curry, brown rice
Tuesday: Herbed Flathead, potato, salad or vegies
Wednesday: Char-grilled Lamb Chops, potato, vegies
Thursday: Shepherds Pie
Friday: Pot Roasted Chicken with apples
Saturday: Pasta Bolognaise
Sunday: Gnocchi

Ugh. I've just shopped and only now realised I've forgotten some things. Oh well, better now than right when I needed the items!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

'Brittan' by Debra White Smith

My review for the last book in the 'Débutante' series by Debra White Smith has been posted here at Relz Reviewz.

Friday, 13 February 2009

It's Official

It's finally signed, sealed, delivered....and returned.

Yes, I am officially a member of someone's staff! I managed to scrape a school key out out of them last week and this week I have:
  • A pigeon hole that has a pretty pink, typed name tag (the colour that denotes non teaching, non admin staff). I had taped my name to the bottom of a spare one in that row so I wouldn't miss out on stuff...and people have used it. Including my daughter ~ you'd think it was hers.
  • A letter of offer which outlines conditions and pay. I have signed it and returned it.
The receptionist keeps looking at me and grinning because I'm really allowed to 'come and play' now, rather than just pretending! And I have the perfect balance between being able to still do 'parent' stuff as well. Like being able to go to morning cuppa time.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Sew Lunch-a-Lot

A perfect Thursday for me is a morning of stitching with my favourite stitching friends, and then lunch. Anyone will do, for lunch, but today it was with Dh. That's always a bit special.

This week I think we all hauled ourselves into our little corner of sewing bliss feeling more than a little shell shocked at the events of this week and all feeling very grateful to be safe and sound. As we sat, the owner of the Quilt Shop has had quilts, quilt tops and myriads of various quilt blocks delivered to her by mail and in person to help with bushfire relief. The finished quilts are stunning and will be auctioned online. They are well worth whatever price they end up going for. The money will go to bushfire relief. The quilts at various stages of completion will be put together and given to bushfire victims. I want to get as much of my own sewing out of the way and then I'll set my mind and my machine to that effort.

In the course of the morning we were asked our opinion of Valentine's Day. Being good Aussie women we all agreed it's a very commercialised day that is more 'American' and therefore not widely observed by us practical gals. My opinion? It was important to me when Dh & I were dating. But now that we're married we can express our love for one another any time. And hence the lunch. Yes, there was a slightly ulterior motive involved. Nonetheless, it was a lunch date without having to source babysitting for children as we would for an evening meal.

The ulterior motive was simple. A cafe in Our Town was sold late last year and reopened today, after a few weeks of refurbishment activity. Dh is the supplier for their coffee and so has spent many hours with the new owner, setting up, training staff, installing umbrellas and barries outside etc. The owner had wanted to meet me so we decided to kill two birds with one stone. Lunch ended up being 'on the house'. A very generous gesture and very much appreciated. It seems many townsfolk and locals to the surrounding area have already been in this morning.


A little fire update for those who really want to know:

The fires in Healesville and Bunyip State Park are a mere 20km apart and the DSE and CFA are working hard to put out spot fires between them and are working on containment lines to keep them separate. Should the two combine we will no doubt have a direct threat warning issued for Our Town. The winds today are North East and as a result we could smell smoke quite strongly this morning. Right now there are Awareness Messages on the CFA incident website but no Alert Messages. There are some little fires that are just being allowed to burn, as a means of fuel reduction.

I'm just starting to think that maybe our 'Fire Box' needs to go with us when we're out and about over the weekend. Maybe I'll send it home with FIL so he can pop it into his little storage room.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Classroom Ponderings

A note on the Lemon Muffins. Use the Simplicity Chocolate cake recipe I posted and replace the cocoa with the zest of one lemon and cook the mixture in muffin pans instead of a cake tin. Voila, it's that simple. The recipe worked fine with regular flour and gluten free flour alike.


Back to my original post....

Admittedly, I am completely new to working in the secondary school. Even then, I've only encountered up to Year 8 ~ so fairly juniour levels, at that. However, in yesterday's Food Technology class I was completely appalled at the behaviour of the Year 8's. The Year 7's, of course, had their moments, but were by and large respectful and obedient.

I cannot imagine a scenario where turning your back on the teacher and continuing your own little conversation while instructions are being given would be appropriate. Yet, there were a handful of girls who did just that all the way through the class. They offered their opinion of why they thought an instruction would not work and proceeded to attempt to give the teacher their advice to change things. I'm not sure when they decided classrooms were democracies where students should determine for themselves what the rules are. They could not seem to understand the concept of common courtesy and that they were being quite rude.

So late yesterday afternoon I was telling a friend about this class and her response was "well, secondary school should be less about rules and more about kids figuring out who they are". Pardon???

Perhaps you could attempt that style of authority with your own children, but when you have 25 kids who require direction to get from point A to point B in a lesson you kind of need some basic rules of etiquette and discipline so that everyone understands what is expected and what the consequences of non-compliance will be. Surely!

Or maybe I'm on a completely lone planet?


On the upside, I was able to encourage my Year 7 charge that just because just because story writing is a struggle, it should not be the automatic assumption that the current story-in-progress will be "dumb". The draft was a more than reasonable attempt. Heaven knows, I find story writing a challenge. That would entail coming up with ideas, rather than just following instructions!!!!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mmmmmm Muffins

I think I've mentioned that I'm eating very little wheat at the moment...almost none. I have a few deliciously enticing pancakes in the freezer now, made from gluten free flour. Last night I felt compelled to bake a chocolate cake to be used in school lunches. It's only week two and already we have resorted to rice crackers and buttered Cruskits. Poor kids! However, in the midst of my baking I decided I didn't want to be the odd one out with nothing sweet & yummy to nibble on.

The recipe I used for the chocolate cake mentioned omitting the cocoa and replacing it with orange zest. Well....I had a hankering for lemon and had just picked up a nice bag of lemons for $1.50. So I am now enjoying lemon muffins made with gluten free flour. enjoy a muffin without the heartburn!!

They're nicely hidden away in the freezer and were made in two sizes. Regular and mini. Perfect for school recess snacks ;) I can now verify that they defrost beautifully by recess time and are lovely and moist. The gluten free flour has a slightly different texture because of the rice flour, but given the choice between something a little different and nothing, I'm going for 'something'.

Simplicity Chocolate Cake

1 cup self raising flour
1 cup sugar
60g melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Grease and/or line a 20cm ring tin.
  3. Melt the butter and combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix gently with a wooden spoon or spatula until all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
** Omit the cocoa powder and replace with lemon or orange zest.
** For muffins, pour mixture into greased or lined muffin pans and cook for about 15 minutes or until cooked.

This recipe would be perfect for the beginner cook. Miss Sunshine makes a chocolate cake from a recipe similar to this. She does so well, I'm not usually allowed to go near the making of chocolate cakes. Last night she was in bed and the kitchen was all mine.

Quick Update

The map above is from the Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE). I think if you click on the picture you might get a bigger view. Or you can click here

I'm about to run out the door to school, however, a few of you have asked to keep updated on our safety with fires still around.

There are two that we're keeping tabs on. I'm not too concerned about them this morning, as the wind is ENE and it rarely comes from the west. Should that change I'll be getting edgy again. One fire to the south east of us is a little closer than it was, but still a safe distance away. The Kinglake/Yea fires have spread down towards Healesville. I think that is the smoke I see over the Ranges. Again, unless the wind comes from the west, we should be fine.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Menus on Monday

It feels like something that is of a ridiculously inconsequential nature when so many people have lost their homes. And yet, the practicalities of life require attention.

Here's a peek at what will be on our table this week:

Monday: Roast chicken, vegies
Tuesday: ??
Wednesday: Chow Mein (made with rice noddles)
Thursday: Sausage Sizzle at GB (blech)
Friday: Pan fried fish, salad or vegies
Saturday: Quiche, salad
Sunday: Pork & Feta Rissoles, salad, potato wedges

I have no idea what to do on Tuesday. The girls will be out for dinner so it'll just be the 'boys' of the household and myself. I have this insane feeling that I should do something a little bit special for them, but I just can't get past that idea. I'll also only be feeding three instead of five. Quite unusual in our home! If anyone has any ideas for such occasions that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you.


This morning Dh told me of the death of the director of a Christian campsite in Marysville. My BIL knew him. I have a friend who is out fighting fires today and another who works for the DSE, who will no doubt be involved as well. The weather may have cooled, but there is still a fair amount of wind. As I drove to school this morning, I could see the smoke on the other side of the Yarra Ranges.

The fires nowhere near over yet and we are still keeping ourselves informed. The fires over the Ranges are ones we are concerned over. I'm just about to find a map and have a look at their position and consider wind directions, for our own safety.

I'm staying close to my computer, the radio...and settle myself to some sewing. I just couldn't concentrate on anything on Saturday!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Day After the Night Before

Thank you to each one of you who popped by to leave a comment expressing your concern and care for me and my family. We are just fine and quite safe right now. Melbourne has, however, got a new record. The hottest day recorded in ANY Australian Capital city. I could've lived an entire lifetime and not wished to have experienced that one!

However. It is not without a sense of relief and not a small amount of guilt that we are nice and safe in our own home. There are many Victorian communities who have been completely decimated, devastated and consequently displaced by bushfires yesterday and overnight. The closest one to us is perhaps less than 50km away. I had prayed yesterday morning for the Lord's protection over the Dandenong Ranges, where fires ravaged this area in 1983. While we have enjoyed that divine protection others have not been quite so fortunate. And so I am left wondering why we were so blessed when others have not been. Not that I'm complaining!

Having said all that, the risk was gravely high. Had a firebug decided to wreak his evil havoc in my area, we too would have suffered the losses that others have endured. I spent the day peeking out windows. Evaluating the winds. Going out the front to look up the mountain and determine that there were no fires up there. Standing at the top of the back steps to ensure the debris floating through the air was just leaves and not ash or embers. Outside again when darkness began to envelope the sky to the north. The north is where fires would come from on a hot north wind day. After a late night, I forced myself to catch a nap late in the afternoon, but I just still felt edgy.

If you have a moment, please pray for those who have endured the loss of homes, possessions and in many cases, loved ones. There is confirmation of at least 65 deaths and there are areas where police have not yet been able to get to because of ongoing fire and radiant heat. My heart feels so heavy for these families.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Burning Hot Saturday

Today is another scorcher where I live. The forecast is for 44C and at 8am when I went to do my grocery shopping it was already in the mid 20's. The Bureau of Meterology has recommended we all stay home and avoid travelling or using the roads and are warning of Ash Wednesday-like conditions. I have asked Dh to stay put rather than go out to his brother's place. I'm not normally too concerned about Total Fire Ban days but this one comes with particularly hot and very dry conditions (low humidity) that just makes me feel a tad on edge.

I remember the Ash Wednesday fires. I was 11 years old and we were home on furlough at the time. The fires were devastating. The property losses and deaths were awful. My Uncle lived two towns away from where I live now and the fires came right to his back door ~ his home ended up being safe. He chose to save the ancestoral family photos and the dog....nothing else LOL.

So today for us means just being home in our nice cool house. We have some friends coming for morning tea. The other Mum suggested meeting in a which I responded "You've got to be kidding, it's going to be 43C and I'm not leaving my house to endure the heat ~ bring the kids to our place where we can all be cool". They live just around the corner in Our Town. So we have fruit, cheese & crackers and Miss Sunshine is making a chocolate at this earlier morning hour.

After they leave I have a Better Homes & Gardens episode to watch from last night and a stack of books nearly as tall as me to delve into. Some are for reviewing and some are just cos Rel loves me and she's enabling my reading habit :) LOL

Bring on the cool change!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me!

I wasn't going to post today. I couldn't think of anything even vaguely interesting enough and you're all surely bored to tears of my ramblings about school! And besides, I'm tired. I've been busy and it's been warm. By 2pm I keeled over on the couch for a snooze...for five minuts, until our accountant phoned LOL.

However, I do have one noteworthy event to post about after all. Yesterday was my one year blogging anniversary. A whole year. Hm. It's been a good year all told. I've met some beautiful, generous blogging friends from all over the world. You've all enriched my life in various ways that have been inspiring and encouraging.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to say 'Welcome' to people who have come out of Lurkingdom to post a comment, and to those who have added my blog to those that they 'Follow'. It never ceases to amaze me how many places I find my blog listed on someone elses bloglist. It's humbling, to me, that my musing about nothing of consequence is so interesting to others.

I read my first post the other day. Perhaps I have inspired someone, somewhere throughout the last year after all.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

In The Sewing Room

Actually, I don't have a sewing room. I have a fold away cabinet in my family room. You know, I like it like that though. I'm sewing in the room where everyone seems to spend most of their time. And I get to keep tabs on what the little schemers are up to at any given moment. It's not ideal for the work of sewing, but the arrangement works for our family.

However...the local quilt shop has TWO sewing rooms and now that the kids are back at school, I'm back to sewing and have managed to schedule any and all work around having Thursday at least until midday to myself :)

Last night I also was back at my monthly Block of the Month class so I left everything there to come back to this morning so I could keep working with it. The picture above is where I'm at so far. A mind bending method of freezer paper piecing that is simpler in practice than the explanation would have you believe!

Between now and next month I have loads of sewing to get done so I can start putting the quilt together. Oh my, I can't believe we're at that point!!!!!! Watch out Court House Steps, you and I have a date at the sewing machine. I've completed four out of twelve.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

God Moments

I seem to have allowed my day to get slightly hijacked...again. With good purpose, I believe.

You know when you look back over a day ~ or in this case, a morning ~ and you can see God's hand in you being in the very place that you needed to be, whether it was intentional on your part or not? Such was my morning.

I'd organised with the science teacher to sit in on his class with Year 7 first thing this morning. The student I'm working with came to school upset and feeling completely overwhelmed. My heart broke as I watched the struggle and the utter helplessness on that young face. So we went and took a moment outside. I had the time, where the home room teacher couldn't take it. A few sips of water and a little chat made a difference. The assurance of others feeling overwhelmed helped too. By the end of class I even saw a few smiles.

My other moment came in the form of just being there for a staff member who has had her work world turned a 'little' upside down this morning. I was actually able to do something useful as well....but a hug here and there just so she knows that she is supported and cared about goes a long way.

My 3am prayer list grows daily.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lemon Raspberry Trifle

Oh what a day! I had intended to post this far earlier....but you know how things change. I ended up getting caught by the Head of Primary for 15 minutes and then had a chat with a friend. I got home to get my dishes done and had an SMS from another friend wanting to drop some 2nd hand clothes off for Mr Busy. And that was just this morning!

Since my hours are not yet concrete until meetings with parents have happened I'm just sampling some Year 7 classes this week to give myself an idea of how I can best help the student I will be working with. Lovely kid that I'd spent some time with last year.

So...without further ado, the recipe. Mmmmmm. It is the perfect summer dessert that will completely delight everyone you serve it to. This has also passed the kid test ~ all seven who ate it wanted seconds!

Lemon Raspberry Trifle

Savoiardi Biscuits (sponge finger biscuits)
Orange Juice
600 ml Cream, whipped
Lemon Custard
1 punnet fresh raspberries

Lemon Custard
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. In a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of boiling water, combine the lemon juice and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add the cream and eggs and stir until the mixture thickens to custard consistency ~ it should coat the back of a spoon (make sure the water underneath is boiling, not just simmering).
To assemble:
  1. Spread a small amount of the custard on the bottom of a fairly straight sided large serving bowl.
  2. Dip the sponge finger biscuits into the orange juice and lay over custard in a single layer.
  3. Layer cream, custard, raspberries.
  4. Repeat step 2 and step 3 until all the custard is gone ~ about 2-3 layers, finishing with the custard and raspberries.
I think I juice about 4-5 oranges. Of course you could use a bottle of fresh orange juice, I just happened to have a number of oranges that needed using. I did cheat with the lemon juice and buy a bottle of juice for the custard ~ it was far cheaper and less work.

I cut the raspberries in half ~ they spread through the trifle better.

Here is a picture of the sponge finger (or Savoiardi) biscuits.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Back to School Menu Plan

This morning in less than two hours, my children will be nicely ensconced in their classrooms, returning their out-of-routine minds back to the industriousness of learning and school life.

They're ready. I'm ready!

The girls are both awake....Mr Busy is still slumbering away, oblivious to the excitement he will encounter. I'll wake him in a few minutes and then I have no doubt that our home will erupt with little-boy energy.

So what does one plan for meals on such an exciting week? A week that is forecasted to remain fairly warm, though nothing like last week?

Monday: Singapore Noodles
Tuesday: Honey Mustard Chicken Scallopine, salad, jacket potato
Wednesday: Pan fried Fish, salad, potato
Thursday: Gnocchi
Friday: Baked Potato topped with coleslaw, bacon, cheese, corn
Saturday: Lamb rissoles, bbq potato cubes, salad
Sunday: Quiche, salad, potato wedges

I can't wait until I feel like eating cooked vegies again.

The Lemon Raspberry Trifle I made for yesterday's lunch dessert was to die for. I will post the recipe tomorrow. The exquisite taste belied its simplicity.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

"For this reason, make every effort to
add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge;
and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in
increasing measure, they will
keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

2 Peter 5-8