A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Eve - 2012

Well, in 2012, the world didn't end, as the Mayan's predicted. So I'm hoping for a bright new beginning for 2013.
For some reason, I'm feeling quite nostalgic today.  The past few weeks have been difficult, while I first struggled with pain which turned out to be the precursor of the herpes zosta virus; shingles.  
As a result, my build up to Christmas was more one of inertia rather than the usual one of hustle and bustle. Despite this, no one seemed to suffer (except me - ha ha!). Christmas eve was spent at our Beautiful Daughter and Grand Daughter's house where Son In Law (visiting from the UK...yes I know... another long story)cooked dinner for us all, including Second Son and Youngest Son.  Afterwards we went for a night walk to visit exotically decorated homes with lights to delight children of all ages.  We got caught in a storm and had to take cover under a carport until the worse of the rain was over.
Christmas lunch was an extended family affair at my Baby Sister's new house, forty minutes drive away.
I was so happy that the sweltering days we'd been experiencing suddenly melted away into a drizzly cool Christmas Day.
The Christmas lunch was attended by eighteen family members.  We all contribute in some way to the meal, which means less pressure for the host.
Today, I'm preparing to spend the night in the city, with my Youngest Son and Mr Honey Pie of course.  We will bring the new year in with a bang...literally...on the foreshore of Sydney's marvellous harbour.

Hopefully, this event will also help distract our love-sick Youngest Son! (His girl friend is visiting family overseas.)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my regular visitors, especially those you have taken the time to leave comments.  And of course a big thank you to Robyn who has hosted the 366 Day Photo Challenge.  I haven't lived up to the total of 366 days of photographs...but I have tried my best!  It was a fun experience and has been a great motivator to blog most days!
I'm not sure if my photography skills have improved but I do know that today I know a lot more about the camera than I did this time last year.
I  wish you all a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous new year and look forward to catching up with my regular blogging 'friends' in 2013.

Happy New Year from Sydney

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Day 365/366

Meet Clover...our Grand Daughter's pet cat.
She was very happy to see us this evening, when we went to feed her while our Daughter and Grand Daughter are away.  We will visit her again in the morning.
Believe it or not, she's 'recovering' from a phantom pregnancy!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Day 359/366

Banksia Serrata
Blue Mountains Australia

My photo challenge has slowed down drastically as I endeavour to recover from a bout of shingles.
What bad timing.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Day 357/366

The oregano in my garden is doing so well that it's over-run the marjoram.
I've no choice but to transplant a bit of marjoram into its own container.

I prefer the  subtle taste of marjoram to the oregano's more earthy flavour.
I especially love using it in omelettes and brothy vegetable stews.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Day 352/366

On Friday, while in Canberra, Mr Honey Pie and I had lunch at a little coffee shop called Ona.
I though I'd share this blackboard sign we saw out front.
(By the way, I've got no idea who Mick is!)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Day 351/366

Our house and bushland opposite was buzzed by police helicopter for quite some time today.
No news was forthcoming from our Local Area Command, which is a little worrying.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day 349/366

Lake George, on the way to the nation's capital, Canberra.
Bilk Gallery was our destination to see a very clever jeweller's work.
You can find out more about Mark here and here.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 347/366

I've been busy.
Potting marmalade...

Sewing pouches...
(Instructions here and here)
(My Grand Daughter chose three fat quarters from her mother's stash and asked me to make the pouches for her Mum for Christmas.  The orange and pink ones are my prototypes).

and paper crafting.

Once I get my database sorted and my Christmas card labels printed I will start writing up my Christmas Cards.
These are handmade too...
here is a sample...

I found a tutorial here for the Christmas tree cards (the tutorial is for Christmas tags) and other fun things.
What have you been up to lately?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 345/366

Dinner tonight consisted of stir fried snow peas and spinach from Crop and Swap, baked salmon from our local fish monger and baby carrots from the vegie patch which I cooked in a pouch in the oven.  I made a sauce from white wine, butter, olive oil, lemon juice and thyme then served the lot sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
For health reasons, Mr Honey Pie and I are trying to include fish in our evening meals twice a week to increase our intake of omega threes. 
Atlantic salmon is one of my favourite fish and also one of the most expensive!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Day 344/366

Norman Lindsay style,
Last night,
Christmas Carols Night.
I wonder if Norman would have approved?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Day 343/366

Today was the last Crop and Swap for the year.
At Crop and Swap there is a "Share Barrow" - "For things you're happy to give away".
This is the Share Barrow at the beginning of the morning.
The Share Barrow quickly fills up during the morning and is almost empty again by the time we're all ready to leave for home.
From the Share Barrow, today I took home a magazine called Organic Growing and a potted Jerusalem artichoke.
I left a bunch of lemon grass stems, and a bunch of thyme as well as an empty egg carton.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Day 342/366

Finally, the Christmas tree is up.

This year's tree putting-up has evoked many memories.
I assembled the tree with a colour theme in mind which meant that not all the decorations would be used.
As I packed away the multitude of left over decorations I felt bad and decided that we should have two trees in the house this year.
The second (mini) tree should hold all the decorations that evoked the memories.
Our family had our first ever Christmas three in 1975 when we moved into our first family home.  I have every decoration from that day...and more.  Each year I buy a box of decorations to add to the collection but the ones that hold the best memories are the ones that were hand made by all our children.
Last year...our Grand Daughter added her first hand made decoration to the tree.

And here is the 'big' tree.

With one wrapped gift beneath it.
"Who's the present for Nanna?"
"It's a surprise."
"Is it for me Nanna?"
"Be careful with that, it's glass."
"Well if it's glass, it mustn't be for me then Nanna."
"Well you never know!"

(Don't tell anyone, but I was desperate for pink and gold and silver decorations this year and after I took these photos I went out and bought some pink baubles to replace the red ones!)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Day 336/366

Only 25 day to Christmas and the countdown begins.
In true Australian fashion, December's weather has been sweltering.
My poor Grand Daughter's ballet school had their concert early tonight and had to perform in 38 oC temperatures.  Luckily their usual venue (which does not have air conditioning) is out of action for renovations. Today's venue was air-conditioned but it was pre-set so it only just managed to to keep everyone comfortable while outside it was reaching scorched earth proportions! 
Unfortunately,photo opportunities were not great and the only photos I was able to snatch was of the school group.
The school has organised photographs so I'm hoping to get a pretty shot of our Grand Daughter in her blue tutu.

After the concert we came home to a oven-like house, threw open all the windows and doors with security screens and then went to our Daughter's for coffee, tea and snacks which was also attended by a multitude of beetles, spiders and what ever other bug could squeeze through the tiniest gaps around windows and doors. 


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Day 333/366

I've been building up to a visit to the Blue Mountains Food Co-operative.  
The pantry has been becoming more bare by each day.
Today, I took the plunge.
Well, it wasn't so much a plunge as a very well thought-out and planned outing.  It has to be.
First there's the list.  Which has been been in the 'planning' stage for many months ( and entails writing down run-outs as they occur).
Then there's the organizing of the many containers which have to be clean, weighed  and labelled for content and weight.
Said containers are packed into carry bags -  along with a pencil and a marker which will be used at the co-op to write product codes onto the containers.  The co-op provides pencils and markers but it's more convenient to have my own.
I also pack empty egg cartons and clean glass jars for recycling and reuse at the co-op.
The drive up the hill is about  forty minutes, depending on weather and the always present road works. 
This morning's drive was made in fog and drizzle.

At the co-op I can buy most things in bulk:
A large variety of dried fruits, rices, sugars, flours, pastas, oils, pulses, herbs, teas, spices, coffees,hair care and cleaning products and so, so, much more.
I was going to photograph some of these products in the co-op's wonderfully and efficiently re-organized storage and shelving systems, new since my last visit ...but - when I found these pretty roses arranged on the outdoor setting; provided for people to sit, chat, read or snack, I photographed them instead.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Day 332/366

Bradfield Park, Milsons Point spreads out beneath the pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
These white chairs were set out in preparation for a wedding under the bridge.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 331/366

Spring this year has been very mild.
As far as I'm concerned, that's fine.
I don't handle extremes of temperature too well.
Too cold and I become immobilized, put all my effort into warming up, don't want to leave the house and tend to become forlorn.
During extremely hot, humid weather my energy is sapped and I become a recluse in my own home, sheltering from the relentless sun.
So today was a bit of a reminder of what Sydney summers can become.
This spring, humidity levels, until today, have been at a tolerable level.
A storm mid afternoon only further added the tropical element of today's weather and
I returned home to find the house feeling like a sauna.

The little chap above, on the other hand, revelled in today's excessive warmth and made the most of the temperature by basking in our front garden, front feet firmly planted on the garden hose, for full benefit.
He or she...I'm not sure which...has become a regular in our garden over the past two or three years, so much so, that it recognizes us and trusts us to the point that we have to be mindful of its presence, watching our step for fear of exterminating the little creature.
As you can see from the above photograph, I was able to get pretty close without the dragon even flinching. (I think this is an Eastern Bearded Dragon.)
But like me, in the colder months, the dragon's activity will fade and visits to the garden will cease, to resume again in spring.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Day 330/366

Is that a month to Christmas?

As promised here is another picture of Sydney...approaching the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The pylons, Mr Honey Pie informed me, are just for show.  
But they do house various tourist outlets.
The pylons are 89 m (292 ft) high, made from concrete and clad with granite.
They were designed by Thomas Tait, a Scottish architect.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Day 329/366

Because I took so many photographs on Wednesday afternoon, I thought I would continue to share a number of them over the next few days or so.
Here we are on the approach to Sydney CBD, after leaving the ANZAC Bridge.
Cockle Bay is to the left, and out of view.
Cockle Bay was the site of the first brick making venture in Australia, or as it was know then, Botany Bay.
Sydney Tower peeks above buildings belonging to various financial institutions.
This tower is a member of The World Federation of Great Towers.
On the right is the IMAX theatre which boasts the largest screen in the world. 
But I think the winner in this photograph, is the sky.
When Sydney shines...she knows how to shine.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Day 328/366

ANZAC Bridge

ANZAC is the acronym for Australian New Zealand Army Corps.

This bridge replaces Glebe Island Bridge.

The ANZAC Bridge is the longest span cable-stayed bridge in Australia. The bridge is 32.2 metres (106 ft) wide and the main span is 345 metres (1,132 ft) long. The reinforced concrete pylons are 120 metres (390 ft) high and support the deck by two planes of stay cables. Initially the stay cables were plagued by vibrations which have since been resolved by the addition of thin stabilising cables between the stay cables.(Wikipedia).

ANZAC Bridge is my most favourite bridge in Sydney, yes, more favourite than the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Every time we drive over this bridge, a immense calm flows over me.

I like to think that it's got something to do with 'pyramid power'.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Day 327/366

Movember in Sydney takes all kinds!
Sydney Gala Parte is held at Luna Park to mark the end of Movember.
We were here yesterday afternoon.
What a glorious afternoon it was on Sydney Harbour.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Day 326/366

I've been picking a small handful of blueberries from my garden most days.
I have two small plants in pots, under nets, to stop the birds from eating them before I do.
They are doing so well I've decided I must get a couple more plants for the garden.
That way I will have two small handfuls of blueberries at least every other day.
Blueberry plants prefer acid soils so are suited to mountain gardens.  For pollination to occur at least two plants are necessary.

One cupful of blueberries provides you with twenty five percent of your daily average allowance of manganese, twenty four percent of your daily average allowance of vitamin C, and thirty six percent of your daily average allowance of vitamin K.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Day 325/366

Today was the first day of the new me.
That is, I've decided to use a daily planner to make better use of  my time.
I quickly learnt that the best laid plans don't always go to plan!
My car battery died, my 12 noon appointment never showed and I never made it into the garden to try and capture the amazing bird life that's been visiting lately.
So...here's plan b...an edited close up of the pendant in the Queen Street Gallery.
As I said earlier, it's made from discarded plastic bottles.
Remember the 3 Rs
Reduce, Recycle,Reuse.
Hope you've had a fun day!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Day 324/366

Today's mission was to land on the moon.
(Or Grand Daughter had a sleep over last night).

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Day 323/366

Without intending to, I ended up in Woollahra today; Queen Street to be exact, right slap bang in the middle of Woollahra Festival.
My Daughter, Youngest Sister, Grand Daughter, Mr Honey Pie and I had parked our cars not far from Centennial Park to walk to Crown Street in Surry Hills. (I know, I know, it's a long way and why would you park the car there if you want to go to Crown Street - but it's a long story, a really long story).
Anyway, what we actually did is walk from Ocean Street, along Queen Street to Oxford Street and then caught the bus to Crown Street.
We meet up with extended family at our favourite vegetarian restaurant Yullis for lunch to celebrate three family birthdays.
I wish I had lots of photos to show everyone but in all honesty, not only did I not take many photos, but what I did take weren't all that good.
As part of the Woolhara Festival  retail outlets and residents partook of the festivities by displaying their wares on the foot path or in their front gardens.
The above very colourful 'pendant' caught my eye outside the Queen Street Gallery.
It is made from discarded plastic bottles and it rather appealed to me.

Lunch celebrations lasted for over three hours and then my Daughter, Sisters and Nieces went off to the Coldplay concert in Sydney. 
Other members of the family rode their bikes home.  Mr Honey Pie, our Grand Daughter and I went across the road to the park so that our GD could burn off some energy before walking down the big hill that is Foveaux Street, hopping on the train, and heading for home

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Day 322/366

Finally, I'm up and about again.
The last five days are like a bad dream.
I took it relatively easy today and Mr Honey Pie helped me with replenishing our fruit and vegetable supply at the local markets in Glenbrook.

Besides the fresh fruit and vegetables, I bought myself a box of owls.
Fifty owls to be exact, some of which I used to make the above card for our Second son's thirty ninth birthday tomorrow.

I hope his 39th Year is a Hoot!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Day 321/366

German Creamed Herb Soup is easy to make and a comforting meal.
I've been languishing with what can only be a relapse of chronic fatigue, something I haven't had for quite some time.
Our meals over the past week have been fairly simple but nutritious.
In today's rushed lifestyles, I don't think we give enough credit to fresh herbs for supplying us with nutrients.
I know I'm guilty of, at times, thinking a quick meal can be had from a can or a packet.
Tonight's meal took me less than thirty minutes to cook, the most difficult part had to be chopping the freshly picked herbs.
Here is a link that gives you some idea of the nutritive value of many commonly grown herbs.
I have a lot of difficulty growing fruit and vegetables in my garden but I grow copious amounts of herbs because I can grow them in containers, which are easily protected from persistent wildlife.
At the moment I have more than enough oregano, thyme, lemon balm, sage, lemon grass, bay and kaffir lime.
My rosemary, mint, parsley and rocket is struggling but improving now that the warmer weather has arrived.
Tonight's dish was economical and nutritious and tasted delicious.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Day 320/366

What I'm Reading ATM

1. a small particle or speck, especially of dust.

7 July 2012
I am in love with the word 'mote'.
On Wednesday night, I had almost completed reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.  The next morning I faced the dilemma of carrying one book(Jane Eyre)with me to the train station, and then completing the book within the first fifteen minutes of the trip, so being left book-less for the remaining hour, as well as on the journey home; or carrying two books.

A third option was, I concluded, the best.  I left Jane at home, on my bedside, with Mr Rochester, to be concluded that night.  In my little tote bag (that my daughter had made for me), I carried instead, Captain Corelli's Mandolin.  Well, not his actual mandolin, but Louis de Bernières book!

Is it coincidence that both Bronte and  de Bernières should play with the word so?  Like music to ones eyes so that when I read the word, I envisage sunbeams, sparkling with movement created by the most detested matter known to the humble housewife: Dust.

How is it that the sun can transform a most annoying substance into a ballet of illuminated movement?

Alone, a sunbeam is beauty, add to it motes of dust and it is transformed into a Capella for the eyes.

I discovered motes early in life, memories go as far back as age four or five.  Motes transfixed me to the moment created by the poetry of sun and movement, of light and mote. (For now dust is no longer dust). 

Shake out a blanket, an item of clothing, a rug or feather duster and all you get is a face full of dust.  Catch the same substance in a sunbeam, shake out the duster in sunlight and you get dust motes circling and twirling and glistening gold.

25 September 2012
Since writing the words above I have read many more books.
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Captain Correlli's Mandolin (Louis de Bernières)
The Book Thief ( Marcus Zusak) 
Losing My Virginity (Richard Branson)
Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
'Tis A Memoir (Frank McCourt)
The Kite Runner
Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell) 

The War Within (Don Tate)

Nineteen Eighty Four I'd read previously and re-read to refresh my memory.
I found it a very depressing story.

Both The Book Thief and Angela's Ashes are written during the Second World War.

The Book Thief: In this story Death is personified. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Book Thief, Angela's Ashes and 'Tis because of the unique writing styles which drew me in and cast me along effortlessly.  I cried, I laughed, I was torn by the harshness of poverty, cruelty, and despair experienced by young children born into a life they had no choice in.
The war scenes brought home to me what it must have been like for my parents, growing up in a war torn country, during World War II, in way they have never been able to.
The War Within is a story about a different war: The Vietnam War.
I'm finding Tate's writing style a little stilted but the storyline keeps me interested.
Like McCourt, Tate writes a more 'blokey' kind of story which makes me reluctant to recommend them to my female friends for fear of insulting them a little with the sometimes vulgar language and anecdotes. 
Yet, some of Tate's childhood experiences where not far off my own, which shocked me a little because I believed that I experienced many upsetting situations because I was the child of immigrant parents.
Seems that life experiences are not restricted to race.

15 November 2012

Above is a photograph of some of the books I've read over the past months.
I have spent many hours reading on public transport, to and from work, I have spent days in bed with can only be a return of my chronic fatigue syndrome which leaves me little energy to do much.  Sometimes even reading is a struggle and I manage forty minutes or so followed by an hour's sleep.
To 'review' all the books I've read since starting this post would make for an awfully long post.
Some of the books in my list are not mentioned or photographed yet.
For example David Pelzer's My Story and Debra  Byrne's Not Quite Ripe.
Many of the books I've read have similar themes running through them, of poverty, hardship, caused either by war or social standing. Many were about childhood abuse. Some were fiction, many were autobiographical.
One which stands out is Arbella - England's Lost Queen by Sarah Gristwood.
Initially finding it too technically interwoven with references and historic facts I persisted to discover a tragic life so controlled by the politics of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that it saddened me the reader, as I slowly began to understand the lengths rulers, leaders and politicians go to maintain power.
In those days, punishment was brutal and often fatal.
The reading gave me a better understanding of how some of our country's civil and migratory rules and regulations were initiated.  Paranoia was a common enough reason to throw someone of great social standing into the Tower.
Arbella, an orphan and heiress to the English throne was used and abused by those around her. Her marriage, bringing with the possibility of heirs, was regarded as a threat and to be avoided at all costs.
During Arbella Stuart's time, the world was a much smaller place and surveillance of royalty very much practised. Add to that her gender and Arbella did not stand much of a chance.
A recommended read for royalists and non-royalists alike. 

Another book I managed to read was Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell gave me a bit of light hearted relief from all the painful experiences I'd been reading!
More the length of a long essay than a novel, it explored the island of Mauritius and conservationists' attempts to save wildlife in danger of extinction.

The last book I've read, only finished last night is Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer.
I have watched the movie at least three or maybe four times.  It is one of those movies that continues to affect me each time I watch it.
My usual habit is to read the book before watching the movie but with The Kite Runner and Into The Wild it's been the opposite.
Although I like both movies very much, I enjoyed the books much more and they are more in depth.
When I began reading Into The Wild I felt a bit irritated by all the introduction but it is a well written book which intertwines the lives of other historic figures who venture into the wild to find themselves, including the author's own life.
I found it an interesting, insightful book, perhaps not as dramatic and emotional as the movie.  

Monday, 12 November 2012

Day 317/366

Exhaustion has overtaken me so I've had no energy for photography today. 
Instead here is a photo I was going to post on Saturday, that is, until I realised I'd already posted one.
I took this at the Glenbrook Festival on Saturday.  'J' is a natural at entertainment.
Not only did he walk around on stilts keeping kids happy, but later in the day he performed some cool tricks and made us all laugh.  If plan A didn't work, he took it all in his stride and ad libbed his way through a spur of the moment plan B. 
I couldn't help falling in love with him.

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