Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas and after

Cherries, Barbie, strawberry pavlova

Vegetarian baked ricotta with anti pasto, ravioli stuffed with mushroom and goat's cheese, potato salad. Up at the meat eaters' end, a baked ham.

After Christmas, Bundeena... Bonnievale Beach

More beach - very hot!

Post beach lunch - delicious!

Hopeful Basil but no handouts...

Another hopeful - Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, always living in hope to the point of sneaking into the house!

Christmas, Boxing Day, were wonderful. Now a few days at the beach and some good weather to go with it. Happy New Year, everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Bundeena NSW

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Greetings

I finally managed to put up my Christmas tree! Whew! I thought I'd never make it. The angel looks a bit tipsy! I hope she lasts the distance.

The tree, now very fragile and tatty, is very precious to me. When my mother and Grandparents left Vienna, Austria, in 1931 to make Australia their home, they brought their little folding tree and glass ornaments to remind them of wintry Christmases past. I'm not sure if it was the tree they used in Vienna or if they bought it new. If it was new then last Christmas it was 80 years old! As are some of the ornaments. Each year Nana and then Mum bought one or two new ornaments, as I have done since inheriting the tree. There are about 10 original ones left and the majority are over 50 years old.

Over the years there have been minor catastrophes such as a sudden gust of wind blowing over the tree, cats being determined to play with the ornaments and once, my fault entirely, I put chocolates on the tree and of course my dog Bindi thought they were for her, just an accident waiting to happen.

This morning the little children came to examine the tree, admired it then settled down to make Christmas cards. I THINK they understood that the tree is just for show not exploration, but this tree has had a long and good innings and survived much. It really is time I stopped being precious about it. I wonder if one of these children will carry on the tradition of the Viennese tree...

I wish you a very merry Christmas or festive season, and I trust that 2013 will bring good health, peace, happiness, love and much creativity to us one and all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Wamberal NSW

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Summer time bits and bobs

December is summer time but around this small continent (or very large island, take your pick), the weather is weird. Heatwaves, bushfires, mini tornadoes, torrential rain, and ... snow!  The evening news shows fire fighters desperately trying to save homes, and the next item shows children making snow angels. I only have sand angels to show you, and not the lying on their backs kind.

Summer time is perfect for eating outside and these kids have a savoury tooth. Give them a tray of cornichons, cottage cheese and Jatz and they're very content. This was Cilla's choice for afternoon tea.
Summer time is Jacaranda season and everywhere the hazy blue of this fantastic tree stands out in gardens and as street trees. This row is in Oxford Street, Paddington, in the middle of Sydney. Just heart lifting.
Summer time in our garden is time for Agapanthus, towering heads of blue and white, nearly as tall as me. But even more gorgeous are Kaz's Gardenias, big, creamy blooms nestled into the most vivid and shiny green leaves.And the luminescence of those buds...
Summer time is Christmas shopping time and I spent a day in Hornsby, a place I haven't been to for nearly 40 years. I went to school there, and shopped there when my children were babies but it always seemed like a cultural desert and there wasn't much to take me back. Probably completely unfair of me but, I was stuck there for a day last week, and to my amazement I found an enormous shopping mall with shops that I found quite interesting. Perhaps this is a sign that I've been in the back blocks too long when I find a shopping mall interesting.

The two most interesting features were outside the mall. One was an art gallery and workshop for disabled people which had a stunning exhibition of weaving by a woman without sight, speech or hearing. I need to go back there to learn more about what they do and, I don't know, somehow offer some assistance.

The other great thing was an automated water sculpture. Dinahmow sent me photos of one she'd seen, I think in NY, so I was surprised to see this one here. Water flows, things move, water splashes and falls and gurgles, and the sculpture itself is quite charming. Australian birds, reptiles and mammals are featured, along with a clock and much more. Here is a glimpse from one angle - each time you move you see a different scene, and a detail of some shags, a lizard on a Monstera leaf (not Australian) and some nymphs.
Summer time means quality time with my grandpup Basil Beagle. I'm always up for more of that.
Summer time, winter time, any time is time for new books. I found this couple in Berkelouw's Oxford Street book store and I have a feeling I need to read them. They are, I think for young adults, and just from glancing through they reminded me of The Various. Now if that means nothing to you then you possible don't read slightly off beat young adult fiction, but if you know what I mean then just have a look for them and see what you think. Maybe the next time someone asks what I'd like for Christmas I shouldn't go all vague - I should say Wildwood please. And if anyone thinks I have strange taste in books, please remember that I seriously collect children's books AND I keep reading my favourites over and over. And over.
I think that's all the photos. I have so many subjects I want to post about but the world keeps interfering in my life and when I sit at the computer once in a blue moon my mind goes blank and I end up just dithering on. Hmm, probably safer to keep dithering. Ranting is my other mode.
Don't forget I love to hear from you, by comment or email.

Monday, 29 October 2012

My country treasures

Almost at the end of my long holiday and I've been sorting out my treasures, those purchased and those gifted. My motel rooms looks like ... hmmm, it actually looks a bit like some of the junk shops I've been haunting. My photos are taken on my iPad and are of a quality that makes me long for the next (or even the one about to come out) iPad. I thought I'd have an iPad3 by now but Apple shops are very thin on the ground in country Qld and NSW. So, apologies for the bad pics.

This is a heap of loot from various antique, second hand and junk shops around the country. Copper, brass, rusty steel, EPNS - all treasures to me. Lucky we're not all the same, huh!

A plastic sewing case, still with original instructions for getting it open. It will hold all my waxed linen thread reels for book binding and other thready pursuits.

My collection of electrical insulators grows. I've been reduced to keeping them in the garden because there's only so many insulators one small house can hold. Here there are three brown, two blue (much prettier blue than in this photo), one large white. And alongside are some railway ties, a large bolt and a thing for tightening bolts. Heavy and very rusty.

Leone gave me this large wasps' nest that blew down in her garden. There are 12 layers of nest, very beautiful. Uninhabited of course. Thanks Leone.

B at RustSmith gave me a bag of metal off-cuts, a meditation word "Grace", a bicycle cog and one of his fabulous leaves. Thanks B & F. Great to see you again.

And - just stunning, is this RustSmith cascade of coloured metal leaves. I've seen them on B's website and thought they were wonderful but to actually see them in reality! I had to buy one; only problem was choosing. I also bought a pair of earrings with tiny versions of these leaves. I left Maleny Qld a very happy shopper.

Here I'm sitting by a creek, ducks and magpies close by. Behind me is a small flock of sheep keeping company with a group of cattle egrets (birds). The sheep are greyish white, the egrets are pure white and they all look wonderful against the green of the pasture.

Following the advice of a couple of friends I have added the ability to subscribe to my blog by email. This is right at the top on the right above my profile. I've found I have a much better chance of keeping up with favourite blogs if I can get an email reminder. What do you think?

Location:Gunning NSW

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Gwydir River

On this incredibly hot summer ... Oh, wait, it's still spring ... day, I'm lucky enough to be sitting by the Gwydir River, in a patch of shade, bird watching. Bingara is a lovely little country town, pop. 1300, with some great Art Deco buildings and a really nice attitude. And this wonderful river.

The sound of birds is almost raucous, parrots, friar birds, ducks and many more competing for sound space. The river, now running fast and brown, shows signs of flooding earlier in the year.

At my feet are coloured stones, red, blue, grey, orange.

On the other side of the river there are horses, mares and foals and a couple of Clydesdale draught horses - and a donkey.

Now I'm off to add a few more birds to my list.

Oh, before I go, I must say how delighted I was to visit Fiona of Paper Ponderings and Barry of RustSmith. So good to see Barry well again. I came away with wonderful things, leaf earrings, a leaf cascade, and some very much appreciated loot for my scrap workings. Thanks to you both - always so good to see you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Gwydir River,Bingara,Australia

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Out on the Central Slopes and Plains, NSW

Last night of our trip and homeward bound tomorrow!

After the cold nights in Orange we expected warmer weather as we went west but a chilly wind reminded us that spring was in its very early stages. It was wonderful to be back in Trangie, after nearly 30 years away. With my kids I lived (and worked) there in the 70s, which seems like a lifetime ago. Trangie is a farming community, growing cotton, sheep and beef cattle, wheat and barley. Jen and I stayed with our friends Jenny and Neil, on their property "Inglewood", out of the Trangie township.

Jen, Neil & Jenny, and myself.

Looking from the garden across to the paddocks.

Old cattle race at Inglewood.

On Sunday we all went to the Mungery Picnic Races - a race meeting on a real country race track. The track is in the middle of a huge paddock, and the punters and onlookers gathered under shelters which protected us from the sun but did nothing to keep the wind at bay. Each group of people set up an amazing array of food for lunch, an example of true country hospitality.

And they're racing...

That's our tent with the Australian flag proudly flying. And another look -

So now we are in Mudgee, very different terrain, and here along with the grain crops and livestock, there are excellent vineyards. Jen and I visited Lowe Wines where we tasted wonderful wines and heard about the ground breaking organic wines they produce.

Acres and acres of vineyards as far as the eye can see.

Masses of wisteria cover the vineyard fences and pergolas. This white wisteria was stunning.

My tasting glasses! Of course we bought some wine...

Back into town we visited The Brewery for lunch and beer tasting. I was ready for a rest after this! The food was marvellous and the beer excellent.

I'm not much of a beer drinker but these were all really nice and I did buy some Porter which The Brewery served with dark chocolate.

These copper brewing tanks were just beautiful, and someone must work pretty hard at keeping them looking so sparkling.

Tomorrow morning we'll be on our way home to Wamberal for me and Gloucester for Jen. This has been a wonderful trip and my heartfelt thanks go to Jen for her unfailing sense of humour, great company and all the hours of driving.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mudgee, NSW Australia

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Travelling in New South Wales, Australia

Half way through our trip to visit friends and family, Jen & I have spent a few days in Orange, enjoying cold nights and delightfully sunny days. Spring in Orange and surrounding areas means magnificent gardens, and the cameras were snapping wildly as one fabulous vista followed another. The garden of our hosts follows. First Australia's marvellous Snowy River Wattle (Acacia boormanii),

a grove of Silver Birches underplanted with daffodils,

hedged Magnolia,


hedges of Photinia (red) and Camellias (green) for wind breaks.

We also went to the Japanese Gardens at nearby Cowra, where the cameras were again whirring. Here are just a few vistas.

Coming from the NSW Central Coast as I do, our winters are just not cold enough to support ornamental blossom trees such as these. Camellias and Wisteria do well but most of the plants in Orange and Cowra here like a chilly winter. Today we are in Western NSW at Dubbo and tomorrow go on to Trangie, on the edge of the Far West. Hotter, drier, very, very different.

Location:Dubbo NSW

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Recipe Book Project, Spider alert and Springtime

September brings the latest edition of The Recipe Book Project, an invitation to iPhoneographers to submit their photos and recipes for how they made them. As usual, I'm running late, but my photos are here, all taken on my iPhone 4. And this is where the spider alert comes in; this spider is a female Golden Orb Weaver, one of many who grace our garden throughout summer. Fairly harmless, though a bit scary if you blunder into the web.
I put a photo of wisteria through Tiny Planets to make the swirl. In PhotoBlender I added the wisteria swirl and the spider, blended in Hard Light, then found a frame in Snapseed.
I blended (in PhotoBlender) a photo of an arum lily with a different photo of the same spider and chose Color Burn, then framed in Snapseed. Spiders over... Now to Decim8 the cat!
I love Decim8! This is a photo of Dr. l'Orange, put through several random Decim8ions. Framed in Frame Magic. So simple!
Freshwater Beach, NSW.  And still they come! I need help with this one - I can't find where I got these UFOs! Dave, any ideas as to which app I've used?

A bit of springtime in Wamberal. Wisteria blooming everywhere you look...
Crab Apple putting on a brave display for a very young tree. My childhood dream was to have masses of apple blossom as I read about in Anne of Green Gables and my three crab apples are my fulfilling of that dream.
Crucifix Orchids are everywhere, red or orange. Gorgeous against the beautiful Eucalypt bark.
I've just spent a few days at Bundeena near the beach. As usual the garden is filled with Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, all vying for the chook food, along with Topknot Pigeons, Rainbow Lorrikeets and Noisy Mynahs. Marilyn Red Chook will have none of it and moves them all on with gusto.

I'm taking off on Monday for a country trip with my friend Jen, visiting friends and relations and apparently taking in picnic races in one country town. There should be plenty of photos of that...

Don't forget to visit Dave and the others taking part in the Recipe Project. And of course, leave me some comments, please.