Sometimes, you just get lucky, right time, right place etc…

Yesterday I decided to wash my car, no biggie for most of the population, but for me it’s a once in a blue moon kind of affair.
Busy with the pressure cleaner and noticed what looked like a bit of string hanging down from the front passenger door… I’ve got 3 young kids – it could be string…
Oh shit, not string. Mouse tail. OK, starting to freak out now, I hate, hate, hate mice and we have lots of them at the moment. Give it a massive hit with the pressure cleaner…will not budge. Must investigate.
Open door of car, peer up under the bottom edge of the door, mouse’s head is stuck in the drain hole between the edge of the door and the seal, give dead mouse a bit of a poke with the end of the pressure cleaner nozzle.   Nuh, still will not budge. Shit, shit, shit, this means manual extraction – the type that involves my hands actually touching the mouse. With stomach roiling, I go over to the shed to get some rags to enable hands to not actually touch aforementioned mouse. Knees now a bit wobbly and stomach definitely recoiling at the thought of the impending procedure. Huff, huff, 1, 2, 3, just do it. Will spare you the truly horrid details, mouse successfully removed. Very lucky indeed. Yuck, is a very large understatement.
How on earth is this a lucky thing, you may well ask? If I’d not decided to wash the car yesterday and left it for another day or two, said mouse would have started to decompose and removal would have been even more hideous, and the stench in my car…unthinkable. Only those that have lived through a mouse plague can understand the magnitude of this. Complete disaster averted, very thankful indeed.

Image courtesy of http://lauriejess.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/the-art-of-yarn-bombing-crochet.html

Today, husband, kidlets and I trundle off to our local footy and netball for a day out. Best day, as usual and really I don’t know why we don’t do it more often…again, 3 very young kids…sometimes (well, actually most of the time), it is just easier to stay home.
Anyway, day is drawing to a close and I get myself settled at a table with some friends, cider in hand, happy as a clam, chatting away.
Jacqui (super-excellent lass), is telling the other girls about my #100happydays challenge and my (this!!) new found blogging habit. Feeling a wee bit flustered with the attention, Jac brings up my recent post on Facebook about Yarn Bombing. Other girls are none the wiser to what Yarn Bombing is all about, except Kate (bless her, she googled Yarn Bombing after my post), so I then googled it for them and showed the girls what I was talking about.
Boom!!! Major excitement ensued as we chatted about where, when, how etc. Oh lordy, was I in 7th heaven or what?
I had actually decided to forgo the YB saga as I had not gotten any response to my post and decided I would just do some all by my lonesome, here on the farm, for my own enjoyment.
And now, I have this posse of incredibly enthusiastic, wonderful women all a-flutter for a spot of Yarn Bombing.
Fortune is just around the corner, you never know where or when it is going to strike…
Good things come in 3’s, so the saying goes. Got my eyes wide open for the third.
Stay tuned for Yarn Bombing updates…
Cheers
Carmen

My Top 10 Kitchen Utensils – of the manual variety… Plus One…

There are some things I just could not do without in my kitchen and some things that are sentimental favourites. Here is the what and why of my Top 10 Kitchen Utensils….

My all time favourite things in my kitchen are not all that special, except to me, I use most of them everyday, sometimes several times and for multiple applications, quite simply, I could not function with out them.

I haven’t ranked them one to ten, so I’ll dive right in with the first, from the bottom in the photo.

All 10 overhead

The Humble Peeler – I love this peeler – it is about 7 years old now and still has a wickedly sharp blade, the toughest Queensland Blue is no match for this monster and it makes quick work of kilos of apples and pears for Reggie’s fruit blends.

Then comes the antique Bone Handled Salad Servers – I love these guys.  Anything that makes it to the table in a bowl for everyone to share, salad, veggies, casserole, whatever, gets these plonked in it.  They are beautiful and perfect in form and function.

The Wooden Spoon – duh, this is a no-brainer, multi-purpose plus.  I love this one especially for it’s flat edge, perfect for de-clumping cooking mince, stirring custard, wielding overhead chasing kids ogre-style, prising reluctant ring-pulls up from tinned goods, I could go on for ages.  I think there must be about 6 lurking about my various utensil pots and drawers, but this is my go-to-guy, every time.

Collage 2

Best invention ever – Silicon Spoon!  I prefer this over a silicon scraper, mainly because a scraper is so danged efficient, there is nothing left in the bowl for the kids to lick.  There is nothing this baby cannot handle – dough, batter, you name it, it can do it.

This gadget is magic – there has not been a lid invented that this can’t open, from the narrowest-necked bottle to super wide-mouthed jars, this dude has their number.  I have no idea where it came from, it was in the Husband’s junk drawer when we first shacked up.  When I discovered it’s greatness, I think I fell a bit more in love with him (Husband, not gadget…).

Ahh, the Mixing Bowl.  This beauty is over 100 years old and weighs about 10kg.  It can handle the biggest batches of stuff I could ever hope to make, with ease.  I once made a batch of Anzac Biscuits in it that yielded 10 dozen!  Yikes, it took forever to get them all cooked and about twice as quick for them to be demolished shearing time – the things we do.  The glaze, both inside and out of the bowl is worn and crackled with age and use and really is the most beautiful thing.

This Round Cake Tin is quite a new addition to my kitchen and quite frankly I’m not sure how I survived without it.  The bottom comes out of the pan and has a silicon lip bit that means it seals water tight, so the runniest batter doesn’t leak everywhere.  The non-stick coating is so good, that I only use the merest hint of butter or spray-oil for greasing and we are good to go.  I love this, and who doesn’t love a pretty round cake, straight out of the oven?

Collage 1

The Jam Funnel – it was my Great Grandmother’s and a few years ago during a monster jam making session, my mum gave it to me.  It’s dented and battered, but by far the best darned jam funnel in the universe; it has a lovely narrow opening at the bottom, so every jar I’ve ever wanted to put jam in fits just so.  I have 3 new jam funnels (really, why?), that I should just take to the Op Shop as they are never going to be able to compete with this one.

Bread Tins, they just don’t make them like that any more; big, heavy, robust workhorses that just keep on keeping on.  How many hundreds of loaves have come out of them, I have no idea, again they are a family thing, my mum’s before me and her mother’s before that.  They have never warped or buckled, even when I have burnt the bejesus out of bread and plunged them straight into a sink full of water, bread and all.  Solid and dependable (maybe Taureans?).

The Decent Cooling Rack.  Do Not, I repeat, Do Not purchase a flimsy cooling rack.  Hunt around until you find one that is really sturdy, put it on a flat surface and push down in the middle with the flat of your hand, if it touches the surface underneath, it is not for you or your kitchen.  This one takes some serious weight and is a good size, nice and large to fit dozens of biscuits, a couple of loaves or even double as a trivet for my huge cast iron casserole dish.  Just gotta love it.

Collage 3

And here it is, my Plus One.  Half way through writing this post I had an awfully large-forehead-smacking moment!  How on earth could I have forgotten THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in my kitchen?  The Tablespoon – you know the one, your Granny would have had a couple, huge old things that are just the best.  This one feels like an extension of my hand, weighted just right, perfectly balanced.  Whomever owned it before me was also right-handed, see the flat edge at the top of the spoon?  How many hundreds of meals and things must it have stirred to wear the metal away to make the perfect edge?  It has been worn to knife-edge sharpness and is the best tool I have ever discovered for scraping the seeds out of pumpkin.  My Mother-In-Law has given me three (yes, three – lucky me) of them and they are all in high rotation, but this one is always my first choice.  Is it weird or strange to think of an inanimate object as a friend?

Table Spoon

OK, that’s me and my Top 10 Kitchen Utensils.  Please tell me what ranks right up there in your kitchen, I would love to hear all about it.

Cheers

Carmen

 

Day 34 #100happydays

I love stamps – tho I have so much going on that collecting and putting into albums is waaay beyond me. However, I do save all my stamps for mum, she has created albums for all the grandkids.
I received a parcel today in the post, just covered with stamps! The old fashioned way – made the nostalgic in me all warm and happy.

Day34I feel sure someone must have moved a cupboard in the Post Office and found a stash of lost stamps, the oldest one is a regular 37c stamp, with an aboriginal painting!  I can actually remember when is was only 37c to post a letter, back in the day when I was an avid letter writer…

Kinda wish I had taken some close-ups of these guys as the images are Beeeeautiful.

Cheers

Carmen

 

Day 37 #100happydays

Oh the joys of some time spent in the sewing room! Certainly got my happy on today, managed to complete the first of four panels for, what will soon be, a headboard for our king size bed.

The immediacy of digital photography can’t be faulted.  Having viewed this shot for a while, it has become clear to me that the dark blue strip, second from the right, is not working and must come out of the equation.

And am now happy to report I am now half way through the second panel.

Love our unfinished old floor boards as a backdrop, not so much the hideous green walls tho...
Love our unfinished old floor boards as a backdrop, not so much the hideous green walls tho…

 

What was I thinking – I’ve designed the thing to be 3000mm wide x 1200mm high – ridiculously big, but our room is huge with 14′ ceilings, so big works oh so well. Cannot wait to get back to it tomorrow – kidlets permitting…

Cheers

Carmen

Day 36 #100happydays

Lemons, lemons, lemons. Pure sunshine – I love these guys.  Oh and the kids too ;-0

Teaparties never fail to make me happy.
Teaparties never fail to make me happy.

This Lemon Slice recipe was linked to me by a good friend on facebook.  I have fiddled with it a bit and you can find my version here.  The original is by Donna Hay and you can find it here.

Enjoy

Carmen

Lemon Slice Recipe

Millbrae Makes Lemon Slice

Teaparties never fail to make me happy.
Teaparties never fail to make me happy.

This is based on a recipe by Donna Hay (I have included a link at the end of the post).  As always, I can never leave a recipe alone and have fiddled with it a bit, in the base I have substituted half of the plain flour for almond meal (I like the taste and texture better), swapped dessicated coconut for shredded (again for texture), added more lemon zest (this stuff is gold and every little bit should be utilised) and reduced the butter content (as almond meal is so moist, less butter is required).  For the topping, I omitted the extra two egg yolks (bit of a miser with my eggs at the mo, chooks are moulting and off the lay), normally I would use the extra egg yolks and freeze the whites for later (frozen egg whites make better meringues) and added cornflour instead.  This does not make a whole lot of difference, the all egg version is a little richer in flavour.  I also bumped up the amount of lemon zest – again, I cannot bear to waste an ounce of this gorgeousness.

Enough ramblings, here is my version.

Lemon Slice – Base

1 cup Castor Sugar

1 cup Shredded Coconut

1 cup Plain Flour

1 cup Almond Meal

150g Butter – melted

Zest of 1 Lemon

Lemon Slice – Topping

4 Eggs

2 cups Castor Sugar

1/3 cup Plain Flour

2 tsp Cornflour

1 cup Lemon Juice – and the zest from the lemons it takes to get 1 cup of juice

Icing Sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 180C, grease and line a 30cm x 20cm slice tin.

Put the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and mix until it is a well-combined, wet crumbly mixture.  Tip this stuff into your prepared slice tin and press down firmly, ensuring you get it into all the corners and along the edges – you need a firm, tight pack in the slice tin, so the lemony goodness of the topping doesn’t go everywhere.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a lovely golden colour on top.  Leave to cool completely.

Pre-heat your oven to 160C.  In a bowl, place the sugar, plain flour, cornflour and lemon zest, combine.  Add eggs and lemon juice and whisk to your hearts’ content.  You are not looking for any aeration here, just a really smooth texture, with no eggy streaks (well, apart from the zesty bits).  Ladle this mixture over your pre-cooked base and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until the topping is JUST set – a wee wobble is to be encouraged.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool (feel free to hurry this along by putting it in the fridge – I make mine late at night, so the kitchen bench is just fine).  When completely cold, remove from the tin, dust liberally with icing sugar (I mean heaps and heaps, the more the better) and cut into small-ish pieces.  This stuff is wickedly rich and even I cannot eat a lot of it.

If you want a printable version of the Millbrae Makes Lemon Slice recipe, click the green link below for a PDF version.

Millbrae Makes Lemon Slice

Click here for the original Donna Hay recipe.

Enjoy

Carmen