Friday, December 30, 2011

Number 10 garden update

The garden's looking a lot better than it did on Christmas day!

MONT worked like a Trojan to get it cleaned up so all the off cuts could go into the green-waste bin.

We went from this...

To this ...

and this..... this...

and this....

to this....

All the hedges and shrubs had to be trimmed because they'd been so badly broken and shredded and the trees also took a hammering, the hail was so strong I watched as large lemons were knocked from the tree and hurled to the ground. Now I just have to get onto the Insurance Company to see about getting my car assessed for the hail damage and for someone to come and look at the damaged plaster and cornice in the living room...

Still,  there are a lot of people who fared much worse than we did, so I guess we can be thankful we still have  drive-able cars and a (relatively) weather proof house

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In between anger and something else

It's almost 2 weeks since I lost my job and getting used to being home indefinitely, or at least with no foreseeable conclusion to this hiatus, is taking some getting used to. Part of the reason it feels so strange is that I've been working pretty much non-stop since I was 18. But it's something I'm going to have to adjust to

My last day at work was uneventful but interesting. There was no big send off. No card that the staff had signed. No morning cake and coffee. No drinks after work. Nothing. In fact, just four people came to say goodbye. That's it. The people I worked most closely with were nowhere to be seen. They left the building before I finished. Gone.

The really interesting part was unfortunate. When I was handed my final documents to sign it appeared that even after 12 years, they still hadn't learned to spell my name correctly....not to mention the smile on the person's face who handed them to me, sort of like he was giving me a lovely present.

I guess everyone goes through a range of emotions when this sort of thing happens. When I was told about my impending departure I was a little numb...when I was handed the miss spelt documents I got angry and gave them back to be corrected.

Now, I'm in between anger and something else. Bewilderment, resignation maybe?

Not sure exactly but while I know I have a lot of time on my hands right now, I still feel like I'm just taking a break so need to get a lot of things done. Quickly.

I'll start looking for a new job in February, probably when everyone else is looking as well, but I have a feeling I'll be going in a whole new direction...what that direction is I'm yet to work out. What do they say about destination and journey? ...well, I think the journey's going to be interesting.

At least I hope it is.

Right, well that's the last I'll be saying on this subject. I'm sure you don't want me bleating on and on about my there you have it. Time to move on wards and upwards and time for new beginnings

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We fared OK

Like so many people around Melbourne, Boxing Day was spent cleaning up

Fortunately we didn't have a lot of damage, not like some who lost cars and who had rivers of water flowing through their homes.

While we had a little bit of water inside, our damage was mostly confined to the garden

It just looked like MONT had gone through the yard with a large whipper-snipper and trimmed all the plants

Not too bad I guess

A couple of days of sunshine and then a couple of soft showers to freshen things up and it'll look like nothing we were very lucky!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Well that was a Christmas day that won't be forgotten in a long time.

Late in the afternoon, the skies opened and we were drenched.

Then, it started to hail

Massive hail stones, some as big as golf balls

People in some suburbs reported them as big as tennis balls.

Here at Number 10, they weren't quite that big but they were loud

As they hit the roof they sounded like machine gun fire. Rapid machine gun fire. ... and it just kept coming.

When I went inside I noticed there was water all over the floor. It had hailed so badly that it had clogged up the gutters and the water had nowhere else to go, so in it came

...all down the walls between the lounge and dining room and onto my sofa.

Not good.

The garden was the worst affected though. The ornamental grapevine and all of my lovely violets that i had been nurturing for months, all flattened and shredded...the fig tree had a lot of it's leaves ripped off and the silver birches in the front yard also hit quite badly.

Then it started all over again!

Fortunately that's about all the damage, apart from a few "dings" on the car...but if that's the worst thing that happens to us this Christmas, then I guess we're doing OK.

Some of the residents at Number 10 just didn't know what was going on

Just another Christmas in Melbourne huh?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Not long now before the "big fella" takes to the skies and starts checking out all the chimneys...
It's hot here in Melbourne with the sun shining and the flies buzzing....and even though it's going to be warm again tomorrow, like so many Australian families, we'll be having the usual hot Christmas lunch

I really do hope you have a wonderful Christmas that brings you peace, happiness and joy... and I hope 2012 is an even better year for you than 2011.

Love lots. Laugh lots. ...and cherish those around you and think about those who couldn't be with you this year

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and comments over the past year. It's been an absolute pleasure meeting everyone in this very special "bloggy world" of ours.

Have a great Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2011


This little guy was a gift from my brother this year

My brother and I only get to see each other maybe once or twice a year seeing he lives in Queensland and I'm down here in Melbourne, but he knows me well. Very well.

I think she/he looks pretty good on the twiggy tree.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas tipple

I love a nice chilled glass of champagne. I also like a nice chilled glass of white wine. But I also like something a little special a cocktail or martini. Not your dry, gin and vermouth type, but a slightly sweeter one.

So I introduce to you a Green Apple Martini....and I have  to tell ya', it's FANTABULOUS!!!

I saw the recipe for it in the November edition of Delicious magazine (pg 104)

So off I toddled to the shops to buy the ingredients.  I had to hunt for the Monin apple syrup, but the liquor is readily available at many of the larger liquor outlets, best to check first though

I eventually found the Monin syrup at Cedar Hospitality supplies in Brunswick Road Brunswick here in Melbourne. Now this is a great place and worthy of a dedicated post all on it's own. It sells anything and everything related to kitchens and cooking. More on it later.....

Now to the Martini:

You'll need:

30 ml shot of vodka
30 ml shot of sour apple liquor
3 teaspoons apple syrup

Place the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice, shake it up and strain it into a nice glass, then place a wafer thin slice of green apple in the glass and you're good to go.

Easy huh?

Because we had four drinks to make at a time, MONT made it up in a jug, just to make it easier, naturally.

Hope you like it...we all sure did

Please note: This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all of these ingredients and have not been reimbursed for any of these items.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas x 2 and a deliciously wicked recipe

We have two Christmas celebrations at Number 10 each year.

The first is the Saturday before Christmas Day when Monts' girls and their husbands and all the kids arrive to have a nice meal and exchange gifts

I call it the "Festival of Meat" because I seem to cook just about every beast there is... all the food groups are represented.

This year I did my usual glazed ham, a rack of beef and roast chicken, with seafood on the side, as well as vegetables and salad.

Dessert this year was:  cheese cake and fresh raspberries with home made ice-cream and a rich chocolate mousse cake that can be frozen!.

Now, by all accounts, this recipe shouldn't work, or at least not work as well as it does.

It's simple. So simple that if you can turn on your oven, work the microwave and open the door to the freezer then you can make this rich dessert.

A friend at work passed it on to me. I'm so glad he did.

These are the things you need

20cm round cake tin

450 grams dark chocolate
4 eggs
145 grams unsalted butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon plain flour

First off, line the cake tin with baking paper (do not grease it) or silver foil, with enough hanging over so it can cover it later. Just note, this will not work out as well if you use a larger cake tin. A smaller one will be OK, but using a larger one means you'll end up with a rather flat and solid cake.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Melt the butter and choclate together in a bowl in the microwave then let cool to room temperature.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy and fluffy
Fold in the sifted flour, then the room temperature chocolate mixture
Pour into the lined cake tin and put in a 180 degree oven for 20 minutes until the top cracks and it's still a bit wobbly. Do not leave this in the oven thinking it's undercooked because it's wobbly. It's not.

Let it cool in the tin then cover it with the foil and put it in the freezer overnight

To serve the next day, take it out of the freezer at least an hour before serving, then invert it onto a plate, cover the top with berries and serve with cream or ice-cream. Or both!

Now, it's pretty darn rich so you only need a small sliver on your plate, but you can always have more than one. That's what I did.

What's also good about this dessert is that it's the perfect thing to take to a party because it travels so well!
You can make it the night/day before, pop it in the freezer and while you're driving to your celebrations it's thawing out in the back of the car.
Told you it was easy

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's not you... it's me...

It hasn't been an easy week.

While foofing around finalising the Christmas celebrations, I got called into my bosses office and was told that, after almost 12 years, I no longer had a job.

Nothing wrong with my work, no, it's fine and dandy, in fact glowing references all round...sorry to have to do this, it's not nice and we really would like to keep you because you've been so reliable and capable, etc etc etc...but at the end of the day, we have to let you go due to cost cutting

New management will do that to ya. The business has been humming along for years without any major hassles, but then someone thinks they can do better, come in and make changes that impact on peoples' lives

The thing is though I didn't hear this from "new management". It's not interested in passing on the bad news....they get someone else to do it. That way they avoid any "unpleasantness".

One thing that's always intrigued me. Why is it that the people doing the cost cutting always earn more than the workers they're sacrificing?

It will be interesting to see just how it goes under this new guess, not as well as they predict. Shame really because I have some terrific and very talented friends still there.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Christmas Cake

I like my recipes to be easy, but I also like them to pack a bit of a visual punch...and this delivers on both counts.

It's an easy Christmas cake recipe that I first got from New Idea...and adapted it just a little.

The first thing you do, preferably the night before you plan to make the cake, is soak 1 kg of mixed dried fruit, with half a cup of brandy. Actually, you can use whatever alcohol you like. It's basically to help preserve the cake so you can make it well in advance and store it in the lead up to Christmas

The next day, line your cake tin with at least two layers of baking paper.  This helps to protect the cake from burning

Then in the bottom of the tin, place in 1 cup of brazil nuts, a good sprinkling of almonds and I also added some chopped fruit medley and some halved macadamias

Easy peasy

Now.... cream together 250 gr butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar

Then add 4 eggs and a large glob of marmalade. I used some Rose's lime marmalade I had in the fridge. Now if the mix starts to separate, don't worry, just add a tablespoon of flour to bring it together..

Next, mix in the fruit and liquid

...and then add 2 1/2 cups of plain flour and a teaspoon of mixed spice. I used cinnamon and Nutmeg....and fold it all through

Spoon it into the cake tin and smooth down the top

It's going to take about 2 1/2 hours in a slow oven, about 150 degrees,(fan forced)

Always make sure you test it with a skewer or sharp bladed knife to make sure it's cooked right through the centre though

Once it's cool, invert the cake onto a nice plate or cake stand...and there you have it

Mine was a little overcooked on the bottom, I think I'll put three layers of paper on the bottom of the cake pan in future, just to give it a little more protection

Hope you like it. I know we're going to enjoy it next weekend when the family's here for the annual
"Festival of Meat".
More on that later in the week.

1kg mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup brandy (or other alcohol)
250gr butter
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup brazil nuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
half a cup of almonds
half a cup of fruit salad medley (optional)

Christmas-just around the corner

Welcome to Christmas 2011....come on in

It's been pretty busy around here.

I spent the weekend planning and foofing

I put up our Christmas tree...or should I say our "twiggy tree"

 I also put a smaller, simpler version on the front deck...just for a change

...and even had room for another small one in the hallway

The main one isn't quite as symmetrical as last years, but I like it

and who said things had to be perfect, right?

I like the pale green for a change out the front. Adds a bit of a contrast albeit a soft and pale one

Only one strand of lights this year...I thought it was enough.

...and my beautiful bird is back. All is right with the world, or at least at Number 10