Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: just a little tree

So we didn't get around to making our Christmas tree until last night, and it's still a work in progress.

Tree ingredients include: fencing wire, white electrical tape, galvanised bucket, a garden stake, set of LED lights and a bag of quick set concrete (not shown!) All comes to a grand total of $67
Stage 1: attach the wire branches to the stake and set in concrete overnight. Stage 2 will be tonight, the fun bit of attaching all 20m of LED lights and covering any green bits of the stake or the wire with white tape. I'll keep you posted.
P.S. If you're not big on Christmas, perhaps come back to my blog in January, you may have noticed by now, I'm a trifle obsessed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday's Menu

Lamb souvlaki and soup. Had to have the souvlaki with out pitta bread, as the ones we had bought were a little green when we went to use them!
New York Times salted choc-chip biscuits. Still perfecting the recipe, we became addicted to them on our weekly visits to the C & C cupcake factory market stall. Now that Michelle and Jo have moved onto exciting new adventures, we have have to feed our own addiction.
A lunch date with Rob at Tricycle, we ate this chicken slaw (delicious mayonnaise) and little cakes with coffee. I admit to not being great company- sinus pain from hayfever was sending me a little batty last week, so my mind was all over the place.
Dinner at Mum and Dad's on Thursday.
The return of the cheese platter, a nice goopy soft cheese with a layer of truffles, a blue cheese called Fourme d'Ambert and a 24 month old piece of Parmigiano Reggiano to nibble on with a walnut and fig Pigeon Hole baguette.
One of Rob's students gifted him a grow your own mushroom kit, so we ate oyster mushrooms with rib-eye steak, and vegies.
I made the easiest chocolate cake ever, a prune version of Nigella's store cupboard chocolate cake. Any cake with a ganache icing is a winner for me.
Finally chicken wings and chips for an easy Sunday night dinner.
Again, after looking back at our week, I think some green vegetables are in order!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our life...

The end of the working week found us shopping, first at Bottega Rotolo for cheese, and Christmas treats such as glacé clementines and chocolate with nougat in it. If you're a local and haven't visited them you have to check out their Christmas goodies.
Next was the Mother's market in Battery Point for jam, melting moments and brownies from C & C cupcake factory. I have to admit the melting moments didn't make the end of the street! I also bought a cute brooch for a friend for Christmas and an elk for the window from Dick & Dora.
It was a lovely evening, Rob spent some time outside raking the grass, I couldn't help myself and wrapped a few gifts, with all my new accessories. Last year we left all the wrapping to the last minute. It started off neatly, but soon disintegrated into hastily wrapped and scribbled tags. So with good intentions I plan to do them as we buy them this year.
We've decided to have categories for our presents for each other and Rob's daughter. The categories are: need, want, wear, eat, drink, read, play, write and watch. (We don't get the last few!) I'm feeling pretty smug as I have 4 of Rob's 6, and know what one other is (he does too- I wouldn't dare buy his scythe for him!) Do you have any present traditions?
Today has been grey and a bit damp. After the gym and a little shopping, we met a guy at Margate to check out the pavers we hope to buy in the next few weeks. Having the terrace paved will make the hut feel really complete. We're planning on having different sized sandstone pavers. That's what we're planning for our holiday, what fun we have!?
Then in Margate we stopped to pick up some (18) fence posts, although we had the trailer, I think Rob meant to go and get them tomorrow, so we didn't actually have a rope. My worst fears were realised when, as we drove onto the main road, one of the posts rolled off the top! Luckily it just ended up in the gutter. After sheepishly retrieving it, a nice guy gave us a piece of rope, so we safely got them home.
So Rob has been out in the rain all afternoon (he couldn't help himself) digging post holes whilst I stayed nice and dry stamping gift tags and baking a chocolate prune cake.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Flowers, my phone manner, Christmas and an anniversary

Just a paper daisy today for my Friday Flower pic. Things are still a bit dull at the hut garden.


So somehow my week has disappeared again. Yikes, I've only got two weeks of work left until my month off, so I'd better get my skates on, I still have to write a 12 page newsletter for distribution and organise a media event, as well as hand in my annual work plan (6 months late!)

Last night we had dinner at my parents house. Truthfully, my mother doesn't really like to cook, she finds it stressful, but last night it was nice to just have dinner with them and my brother who still lives at home, rather than the whole clan. She made an "Italian Beef" casserole, and was quite adventurous with the dessert, a orange and lemon flavoured custard with risoni pasta, topped with a meringue with currants and almonds in it. I've never had anything like it before. I quite like the currants and almonds in the meringue, and the custard was tasty.

In our after dinner conversation we started talking about people who dominate conversations, or just simply talk too much or too long on the phone. Rob said, well you can always use Hazel's classic line, - 'well I'd better let you go now, bye.' I was stunned for a second, and asked him do I really say that? Apparently I do, all the time. Driving home, I ran recent phone conversations over in my head, then I asked Rob, do I use it on you? There was a little pause. Yes. I started apologising, I felt a bit sheepish really, perhaps everyone realises this is my captain subtext (to borrow a Coupling term) for I think you're talking too much, I'd like to go now! He laughed at me, and said it was ok, he didn't take it personally, but rather admired that I managed to make the other person feel like they had so many more important things to do! My only excuse is, that I'm not really big on talking on the phone, I don't really enjoy it, so I guess I'm trying to minimise my phone calls.

So with that uncomfortable realisation shared, I'm looking forward to the weekend. We're going to make a Christmas tree. That's right, we're going to get some wire and tape, and a pot with some rapid set concrete and we're going to attach the little led lights to the branches. Fingers crossed it works.
I've been finding little decorations for my red theme. Some little red stocking garlands to hang up around windows, and some cute reindeer for the tree. Also some of my recent online purchases have started to arrive, some stationery love from Kikki.K (had to be very disciplined there) and some wrapping paper and accessories from the Wrapping Paper Co. Oh yes, I've got it bad and there's still 30 sleeps until Christmas.


Indulge me with one more photo. This day last year we drove down to the Huon valley, a little nervous, but very excited, and picked up this ragamuffin. She was a bit naughty in the back of the car, barking and trying to play with a shell-shocked Nigella. We got home and she took over the backyard, claiming all the toys and running around like a crazy thing. She has grown up in many ways, but Claudia certainly lived up to her kennel name "Mistress Very Sassy"! Despite her attitude and chewing habit, she does make us laugh, she is a very good snuggle dog, a companion for Nigella and us, and we wouldn't feel a complete pack without her now. Wonder what the next year will bring?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: approaching storm.


An approaching storm in southern Tasmania. Photo of course by my talented husband, Rob Wiltshire.
Join in the wordless fun at Sarah's blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday's Menu, and our weekend

Our life returned to it's normal pace on the weekend. Like anybody living on a bit of property the grass on our block had taken off over the last couple of weeks, after the combination of frequent rain and the warmer temperatures. Sadly after one day of brush cutting our not-so-trusty brush cutter spluttered to a halt a couple of weekends ago. I was cleaning the windows at the time and could hear Rob fiddling with it, pulling the trigger, cleaning a filter, pulling the trigger, I was waiting for him to kick it into the dam, but he was apparently resigned to the fact it would need to be serviced. (It was serviced last year at great expense so we were more than a little disappointed with it dying already). I know like Michelle he has a scythe on his wish-list for Christmas, but we really needed to cut our grass now! Apart from looking so untidy, I was getting increasingly worried about the dogs and snakes.
So we took ours to the doctor (a new doctor mind you) and next door is a place where you can hire them. So the drone of a 2-stroke was our weekend companion, it took Rob 10 hours over 2 days to cut the grass around the hut, down the drive, in the orchard and garden and around the nut orchard. It looks so much tidier. I know we'll need to do it again before the whole thing gets cut for hay but it made me feel a lot better.
So whilst Rob was busy outside I baked a carrot cake on Saturday and our first Christmas cake on Sunday. We took a moment to marvel at the colours of the sunset on Saturday night, and over the weekend I kept finding the dogs snuggling each other. It was pretty darn cute, although I'm not sure Nigella entirely approves of the adoration from Claudia! She tolerates it.

The menu at the hut this week: salmon on soba noodles, a salad with Asparagus and new season pink eye potatoes, I made red pepper pesto (with almonds) then stirred it through pasta, we had a chorizo, potato, zucchini and ricotta frittata and finished off the working week with a quick lemon linguine.
We always start our Saturday morning off quite virtuously at the gym for a weights class, but then it quickly deteriorates from there, with a visit to Jackman & McRoss for small white chocolate and peach tarts and cream buns. We picked up some lamb shanks and were tempted by a tasting to buy some wagyu beef sausages.
So Saturday's dinner was a simple one of sausages, Pigeon Hole bread and home made chutneys. Rob roasted the shanks in quince jelly so we ate them last night with roast potatoes and some beans. With enough left over lamb for souvlaki tonight and lamb soup tomorrow!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Flowers

No new flowers in our garden this week, but it is looking promising on the lily front, just hope that the terrible strong winds we've been having at the hut calm down soon, as they're a bit vulnerable to the gusts that hurtle down the back of the hut into the garden.

So given my present preoccupation with all things Christmas I thought I'd share one of my favourite native flower photos that Rob has taken. It always makes me think of an icy-pole for some reason.


Blandfordia punicea, or Christmas Bells, is a large tufted native species that grows in button grass and damp heaths on very nutrient poor soils, ranging from Bruny Island, south-west Tasmania and reaching Rocky Cape.

I've suddenly realised that Christmas is only 37 sleeps away (thanks to my iPhone Christmas app - ok you can stop laughing now!)
That fruit I started soaking a couple of weekends ago might have to transform into some cakes this weekend. I have just ordered some Christmas cards from here, and some wrapping paper from here.
We're starting a modest stockpile of presents in the spare room.
Apart from my honeycomb decorations we might have just had some inspiration on the tree front. I saw a cute twiggy Christmas tree covered in little LED lights. I wasn't so impressed with the price tag, so after buying a set of 200 LED lights from BigW we're going to attempt to make our own tree. Watch this space (I hope!)
I'm still on the lookout for two pairs of angel wings- if anyone has seen any (that aren't too extravagant) let me know.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday's Menu

Today I'm a little bit excited, as finally our window seat will be complete. You may remember about two months ago we had the timber frame installed. We were smitten, it was beautiful and functional with the book shelves and drawers for storage. We organised the foam cushions pretty quickly too, and it has become our favourite spot in the hut. We casually draped some throw rugs over to protect the foam from the puppies and then were a bit slack about lining up the upholsterer. He took the cushions away last Monday and I've just organised for them to be delivered this evening.
We bought some new throw rugs that will match and some red pillow cases for the cushions. I can't wait to see it all together!

So quickly our menu this week-
Salads with cheese, or latchet fillets and boiled Nicola potatoes, or asparagus, avocado and home grown beets. Another spring vegetable risotto. We headed out to lunch at Written on Tea during the week for some of their fried green beans with pork mince and chilli. We hadn't been there in ages and they were delicious if a little too spicy for me.
I was a bit too self-conscious to take photos at the drink party or the lunch at the vineyard, but our ocean trout gravlax was delicious on top of some Pigeon Hole Sourdough with horseradish cream. It's our favourite recipe for entertaining.  Rob's sisters had also made blini with smoked trout, roulades, sushi, rice paper rolls, and a few other hot nibbles, so there was no shortage of food.
On Sunday we had a late brunch of Mount Gnomon bacon, Wursthaus sausages, tomatoes and eggs on the Weber, which set us up for the whole day really, we just had a bowl of tomato, vegetable and pasta soup for dinner.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Our lunch at Josef Chromy's was quite delightful, the sky a perfect blue, the water shimmering, the vineyard in the distance. The family took over a section of the cafe, cousins chatted, Rob's sisters worked out Christmas for us all. We shared antipasto platters at each table, then I had the trevalla and Rob had an absolutely huge steak, perfect cooked. Everyone was relaxed and after coffees we all stumbled out into the sun and we headed off to Hobart, via Evandale, the Nile and the Colebrook road. The midlands were incredibly green, our only stop was the Ross wool shop for some new ugg boot liners for me. I can't tell you how heavenly new plush sheepskin is, try it!
But as nice as our time up north was, there was a constant tug at my heart for the hut. Silly to admit but true, our first night away from the hut together. As we drove down our long driveway, I felt immediately better, just seeing the hut at the end in the evening light.
We have only lived here for four and a half months but it is the homiest place I've ever lived in. It perfectly reflects our taste and style, and we can just "be". Not to mention we missed the peacefulness at night (if you don't count the frogs).
I love our weekends here, but am always reluctant to head to work on Monday!
Hope you had a lovely weekend too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday Flowers...on Saturday

We drove up to Launceston for Rob's Father's 80th birthday yesterday. Last night was the first party, drinks and nibbles. Today we're heading out to a restaurant for lunch, I've got a new skirt and shoes to wear, if I'm brave I might even post a photo!
Today's flowers are some peony roses my mother in law has in a vase. Quite beautiful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: we've come a long way in a year

This time last year, we had one dog and a concrete slab! Join in wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday's Menu

What a weekend hey? (Sorry for those of you not in Tasmania, the weather was quite perfect, warm days and evenings- even got up to 30 on Sunday!)
Highlights this week food wise- chicken wings and asparagus cooked on the BBQ, the most tiny, perfect egg and ham roll from the Pigeon Hole Cafe for breakfast, Roast pork with roasted fennel and carrots, some more French and Spanish cheese, bubbles over to celebrate our visiting friend, and new season nicola potatoes.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Sarah Watt, the Australian film director and animator from cancer. I really loved the movie Look Both Ways. I think of her children, Clem 18 and Stella 13, and her husband William McInnes, and think how desperately unfair life is sometimes. Today I listened to a recent interview with William on ABC National Radio and he was still so positive about the time he had left with his wife and had not the slightest indication of bitterness or self-pity. I can honestly say that if I was in a similar position I'm not sure I could be that brave or act with such grace.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Flowers

I updated my camera app on the phone yesterday and it's been misbehaving ever since. So my picture of the sage flowers is a little dodgy. Luckily by the time I got to work an update to fix the update was waiting in the app store.

I walk past these every time I head to the laundry/shed hut and out of the corner of my eye I think it's Lavender, even though I know we didn't plant any!

While we wait for our little box hedge to grow around the hut, we have co-planted with herbs, so far we have tarragon, sage, basil, thyme, coriander, mint and parsley. Also some beetroot for the leaves in salads. All are growing well except the basil which is being hammered by slugs, despite Rob's beer traps and frequent night time raids to squish them.

Looking forward to a slow weekend, a good friend is coming down from Northern Tasmania to stay for the first time. We have another pork shoulder to slow roast, some French cheese to eat and I'm debating what dessert to make, chocolate pudding, lemon tart or a steamed pudding.

Hope you have a relaxing weekend like I plan to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

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