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.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

What I'm Reading ATM

I pride myself in being an avid reader and would go as far as saying reading is one of my longest and most favourite passions which began from the instant I realised I could read.

I'm a little ashamed that I haven't kept my blog up-to-date with my current reads...and I have omitted many 'reviews' of books I've read over the past months but I will attempt to remedy that in the future with a list of what I have read since my last "What I'm Reading ATM" post. (Gosh...has it really been more than twelve months!!)

When I mentioned to a friend recently, that I have not read Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind or seen the movie she couldn't believe it and insisted on loaning me her copy of the classic.

I had just a few days earlier started reading Tolstoy's Anna Karenin (another classic I've not as yet read) (and which I'd picked up for two dollars off a social page garage sale). 

When I realised that Gone With The Wind is a hefty tome of a book (and exceeds the page count of Anna by something like two hundred pages), I put Anna aside and commenced on Gone With The Wind  so I could return it to its rightful owner sooner rather than later.

I have to admit surprise to the book's easy and instant engagement with me the reader. I have read over two hundred pages of the one thousand plus pages (filled with minuscule print) and I continue to want to move forward and to have revealed to me more of Scarlett's un-ordinary life and irascible character.

What I find amusing is how fashionable the names of the characters have been in the twentieth century...Rhett, Ashley, Cade, Brent, Scarlett, India...well, if I'd seen the movie or read the book earlier I would have know why...and there I was thinking these names were so contemporary...as if someone had pulled them out of thin air.

Mitchell writes with ease and I can just darn hear the drawl of the Southern belles and beaux and even more so of their many, many, slaves. 

I realise now that I have been depriving myself by not having read the book and will hold judgement on the movie until I've seen it.

Is there a 'classic' novel title missing from your life's book list that you have put off reading...for whatever reason...or insist on not reading? Why?


Friday, 17 January 2014

Heat Wave

We have been sweltering these past few days. Top temperatures have been hovering just below 39 oC.
Outdoor activity has become almost negligible unless performed before nine in the morning.
So I thought it would be appropriate to share this ice cream recipe I have fallen in love with.

 It is a very simple recipe and there is no need for an ice cream machine, which is great because I don't have one and don't really want another kitchen appliance.

I love it too because it's egg free and there's no messy syrups to make.

I haven't purchased store bought ice cream for months now, since I discovered these easy instructions.
It's a great recipe to make with Little Miss Six because, as she told me when I asked her if she'd make scones with me, no thanks Nanna, you do it because I get bored. 

I have made this at ten o'clock at night and believe me...it's done and dusted in fifteen minutes! Just long enough to hold a six year old's attention span.

Home Made Ice Cream |

Stay at Home Mum 

600ml cream  (I usually use pouring cream but I have also used Jersey Double Cream by Moo & More when I can get it.)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 can Condensed Milk
Using an electric mixer beat cream until it begins to thicken.  
Adding the vanilla continue beating until a light whipped cream forms.  
Slowly add condensed milk and keep beating until mixture thickens and becomes a nice cream.  
Pour into a container and freeze until hard.(At least for 6 hours).

(I like to use a ceramic dish with straight sides for pouring my ice cream into.  Then I cover with a sheet of baking paper cut to size before placing in the freezer).

(And I always chill my beaters, bowls and dish beforehand.  It's a good idea to serve the ice cream at least five minutes before you need it to allow it to soften a little.)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

This Month In The Garden

January 2014

The above palm hasn't been doing too well in the incredibly dry hot weather we've been having this summer. I'm not sure whether this has anything to do with the many flowers it's produced this year.

The second time it's flowered and I think the flowers are more spectacular this time around.

The gerberas are struggling too and the blooms much smaller than in previous summers.

Leptospurmum always intrigues me with it's delicate foliage and flowers.

Banksia Serrata has also flowered well and is now sending out new shoots.

Isn't the bark of the banksia tree intriguing? 

Light and dark pink (above)trigger plants
grow all through our garden.

I'm not a hundred percent sure but I think this is a juvenile geebung.

The vegetable garden is a bit of an embarrassment and I really need to think about getting some raised beds. 

Some little or not so little creature is munching on plants that are not enclosed. (I've got a feeling it's a wallaby...feasting on the tender shoots of some taller plants so may not be so small...) 

Herbs continue to thrive as long as they are enclosed.

But really, the overbearing heat of this summer means I'm spending more time indoors tending my African Violets.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Lost World

Little Miss Six is spending a week with Mr Honey Pie and I while her mum is at summer school.
The weather was perfect for the sand sculptures exhibition in Windsor.

Earlier this summer we were hoping to go to see the Sculptures by the Sea but because the weather was so exhaustingly hot we didn't quite make it. 
This was a nice alternative and well timed to come after the rush of Christmas and New Year Celebrations.
Afterwards we had fish and chips down by the Hawkesbury River.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Kek Lapis

Over Christmas, our eldest, newly married son and his wife spent a week with us.  They flew over from the west.
J's sister likes to cook and she made some treats especially for us.
This treat was amazing...I have never seen such a creation. It is called Kek Lapis and baked over and over as each layer is cooked and added to.  In Indonesia the cake is traditionally made for special occasions and festivities.
Some recipes use up to thirty egg yolks.

It has a nutty flavour which probably comes from the multiple golden layers.

Will I be attempting this creation?  I think not...I will definitely leave it up to the experienced.
J's sister D spent hours baking the cake for us and the rest of the family oohed! and aahed! when I opened up the box as we have never seen anything like it before.

Needless to say it was a hit.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


It's new year's day.
Day one of another year.
The first day of January 2014.

When I was sixteen I remember earnestly discussing George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, with my then high school peers. 1984 seemed an eon away.

And now, it's 2014. I re-read Nineteen Eighty Four last year...that is 2013.  Forty five years later I find the story depressing.

New year's day I find depressing too...the older I get. How I feel depends on how I spend the day. Or rather, how I spend new year's eve.

New year's eve December 2012 was dramatic, exciting, and fantastic. It was dangerous, unpredictable and invigorating.

Mr Honey Pie and I spent the eve with our youngest son, jostling for a prime position at his apartment car park from which we viewed the fire works display on Sydney Harbour. Arriving at my son's apartment was a life threatening event and I could write a short story on that day alone.  But it taught us a lesson which I felt would ensure we could still spend new year's eve in Sydney this time around, but better prepared.

That night, after the fireworks were over, we went to bed, but the rest of the city partied on until two in the morning, when miraculously someone must have flicked a switch to give way to complete silence.

We woke to a hot morning, the sun glaring into the apartment off the glistening waters of Lavender Bay.

Our favourite coffee shop was closed, perhaps they too had partied all night and needed some time to recuperate.  Eventually we managed to find another cafe for coffee and breakfast.

Perhaps I'm biased but I believe Sydney to be the best location in the world to bring in the new year.

My association with new year's eve and Sydney go back a long time. Our Mum often took us in to the city by train to witness the event.

When I married and had children Mr Honey Pie and I took our kids into the city on a few occasions to carry on the tradition.

Eventually though, what used to be a family event for many Sydneysiders, new year's eve became one to avoid as drunken revellers took to the streets.  The word had got out not only to the growing population of the largest city in Australia, but to the rest of the world too.

For many years, as young people flock to the inner city to live and tourist numbers to Sydney increase we avoided the harbour over this holiday. 

Then Mr Honey Pie landed a job which meant we, as a family, were entitled to spend new year's eve not only in Sydney, but on the harbour. Yes on the harbour.  Over the ten years that he held this employment we managed to visit our capital city four, five, maybe six times to see in the new year.  

When we could, we took extended family with us.

When the Olympic games came to Sydney we sailed out onto the inky water, one September night, to view the fireworks display celebrating the games coming to our city. That was in the year 2000.

What a year that was. Both Mr Honey Pie and I were employed in the marine industry and were closely involved in various ways with the organisers and sponsors of the games.  Every day that year, I travelled into the city to my office by train.  I breathed the Olympic games for  months before and after the event. 

It was an exciting time for me. And I had made sure I brought in the new decade, century and millennium the previous new year's eve by being on the harbour to enjoy the celebrations and fireworks put on my the Lord Mayor.

Just like, as a sixteen year old, I found it hard to look ahead to 1984, today it's hard to believe that the year 2000 was fourteen years ago.  

So much has happened in those fourteen years.  

My father never got to see the Olympic Games in Sydney, although he was there in September 1993 to hear Sydney declared the winner to host the 2000 Olympic Games.
The words in the heavy accent of Juan Antonio Samaranch "The winner is Sydney" are quoted to this day.  In 1998 my dad used the first three words of this now famous sentence to open his speech at my sister's wedding...that brought a laugh from his captive audience.

My brother though, made it to the Olympics only to leave us tragically in 2008.  

Since 2000 my family has seen grand parents become great grand parents; aunts and uncles become great uncles and great aunts; mums and dads become grand parents; sons and daughters become husbands and wives, mums and dads. And so the cycle continues.

Even though we experienced two devastating bush fires in the Blue Mountains in 2013, on a personal level the past year has especially been a memorable year for us.

My mum turned eighty, I turned sixty and our second son turned forty. We celebrated two baptisms and Mr Honey Pie, with some good ground work on his part landed himself a new position within walking distance from home. Our Grand Daughter started school, our eldest son married and our youngest became engaged.

Which brings me back to new year's eve 2013.

I had held out hope to be in Sydney on that night. With our youngest son and his fiancée and Mr Honey Pie, the Sydney Harbour Bridge on our right. Sydney Opera House on our left. Circular Quay directly in front of us. No car parks or jostling crowds this time. The perfect view, sitting in our own space, literally metres from the action. 

I'm still trying to figure out why I was the only person out of four that wanted that. That wished for it.  Just one more time.  To feel the explosions reverberating through my chest. To hear the unified oohs and aahs of the city as one more massive shower of colour opened out onto our city.

Instead we watched it on television. About seventy kilometres away from the abrasive city crowd. Not quite the same even if we now own our first ever big screen TV. 
Because that's what three out of four wanted.

On new year's day 2014 I had lunch with Mr Honey Pie, our youngest son and his fiancée at home, in the Blue Mountains.  A long, long way away from the probably still sleeping city of Sydney.

It was a delicious lunch of Thai style coconut chicken with salad and wraps.  Made for us by our future Daughter-in-law. Sometimes, I just have to go with the flow. And although a little disappointed (I'm going to allow myself that), I didn't feel one bit depressed.

Bringing In 2014

This festive season has been very much about family.
Most nights have seen nine of us for dinner.
We brought in New Year 2014 with a Dutch tradition.
Mr Honey Pie and I cooked Oliebollen - or Dutch new year doughnuts.

Here is the recipe, passed down to me by my Mother-in-Law:


2 1/4  Cups(350g) S.R. Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups (275g) dried mixed fruit
1 cooking apple, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 cups water


Sift flour, salt, sugar & ground ginger.
Add mixed fruit & grated apple & combine thoroughly.
Make a well in centre & gradually mix in water & essence till you have a smooth batter.
Drop heaped dessertspoons-full one at a time into hot fat (375 oF - 190 oC)
A mixture of 1500 mls vegetable oil to 250g butter is best. 
Cook until golden brown (about 8 min.)
Drain and when cool dust liberally with icing sugar.

There are many various recipes for Oliebollen, some made with yeast, which I have never tried.
I have attempted to make these with gluten free flour but, alas, am yet to perfect a good conversion.
Last night I realised I had no almond essence so used vanilla instead with good results.
Also did a batch which is apple free and found it to be quite nice.

To all my followers and random readers...I wish you a happy, safe and prosperous new year.

And although I gave up making new year's resolutions about fifty years ago (simply because I had broken them less than a month after making them), this year I have made one.

It is a practice I began early last year and which I want to continue into 2014 and beyond:

I will say less and listen more.

Do you make new year resolutions?

Comments Welcome

I welcome your comments; they are little personal notes to me. I enjoy reading what each of you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.