Friday, October 30, 2009

Spring in the Garden

Gosh I've been away from here for ages! What has been happening in my life over the past month? Probably not a great deal of interesting stuff really, just general family nonsense with great boring potential for others. We did put in floorboards in the September school holidays, my bestie Kim visited from NSW then too (more about her at a later date) so September was a great month.

October was not the best month really, as three of the four of us had gastro - but not me luckily. I just got the disrupted sleep and a dose of the queasiness, which was more than enough thank you very much. Both the boys got the vomits in the middle of the night which appears to be the best time to have it really, makes it delightful to attend work the next day.

We had the school sports, which was Tom's last one at primary school. He had his literacy & numeracy testing for college a few weeks ago and coped just fine. A great friend of his will be joining him at the new school as well as his current school friends so he couldn't be more excited really. Jack is grooving along at a great rate of knots, and he is feeling more grown up now that Tom will be leaving him for a new school as Jack now has the responsibility of taking notes and newsletters back and forth to the school office. He will also be in the Senior Group for the next two years of school - and it's hard to be more grown up than that in the scheme of things.

So here are a few gratuitous garden shots from today. It's looking rather pretty isn't it? Spring is a great time of year in our garden, but in a few weeks time this will all be a brown dust bowl. Hopefully we will all be safe from fires this summer fire season, I don't want anyone in Australia to go through what some communities went through on Black Saturday. Perhaps it will be inevitable in our climate and with fire bugs waiting to pounce - but I hope it will not be so. Lives are too precious - both human & animal.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cakes.

The boys and I so had fun this evening, making these simple, yet delicious chocolate cakes in a mug. They are really self saucing puddings to tip out into a bowl, and are very simple to make , as the ingredients are common to every pantry.


4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add the dry ingredients to the mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

Enjoy - we certainly did! This recipe is really simple, really tasty, and a fun activity for the kids, which is not too messy (which is really important at times!!) A handy hint though - mix it in a bowl, not in the cup.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In praise of the slow cooker

I must confess that I am so in love with my slow cooker. I love everything about it. I love doing all the work in the morning - not that there is too much work to do really, it's so simple to use. I love the results at the end of the day. I love the fact that the boys love the food made in the slow cooker and really eat well at those dinner times.

Yesterday I made a beef and red wine stew. I loaded it with onion, carrots and peas. What a miracle, eight hours later, and a perfect meal is served. The house was filled with the divine aroma, and we were all starving by the time it was dished up, just with plain rice and a matching red wine.

What I also like to do is to cook roast cuts (although definitely not pork with the crackling still on) in the slow cooker while I am at work in winter. By the time we all get home the house is just full of the aroma, and the meat falls off the bone and is so tender. It's a great invention, and I am thrilled to have one, couldn't recommend it higher.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Roy the Devon Rex - Master of the House.

Roy rules this house with a little (but lethal) iron furry fist. We do whatever he wants, and are grateful for the privilege. Even the dogs are terrified of him and he does terrorise them regularly. He seems to resent any time the dogs have with us, and he is known to chase the dogs (who are significantly bigger than him) away from his people to get all the attention going.

The boss cat.

He loves playing soccer with marbles, which is delightful to hear at 3 am on the kitchen slate. He hogs the bed, often jumping in and out several times, with never a care or concern in the world about the humans trying to sleep. He can catch mice well, but will only eat the head and then vomit the head up next to the body, next to our bed, for us to find at times when we least expect it.

Roy & Jeremy enjoying a sunny morning

He loves a good pat in the sun, we can slap his bum, shove him around and he thinks this all a universal decree to make is day bliss. And he is probably right about that in all honesty - we live to serve Roy.

Check him out at :

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lunch with the Aunts & Uncles.

A few weeks ago we all caught up at Mum & Dad's for a lunch with most of Dad's siblings. The family came out to Australia from Holland over 50 years ago, post WW2. They initially stayed at the Bonegilla Migrant camp (apparently the kids enjoyed in way more than my grandparents,) and then the family eventually settled in Creswick.

Aunty Anne, Uncle Peter, Aunty Wendy, Uncle Ken(standing), Aunty Jan, Dad(standing) & Uncle Matt

It is amazing what parents will do to ensure a better future for their children. I cannot imagine gathering the family, jumping on a boat and setting off into the great unknwon, to a place where there are no other relatives or friends. It is exceedingly brave. I wonder if I had to - would I be that brave. I hope so. I hope I never have to find out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Briards at Point Addis.

Last weekend we met up with some of our dearest friends for a small briard outing at Point Addis dog beach, and we had a wonderful day. The weather was terrible leaving Ballarat, but as it got closer to the beach the sun turned up and it really was quite warm. I was very clever in taking gum boots and extra clothes for the boys, because, despite their assertions to the contrary, they manged to get quite sodden, and collected half the beach water in their boots.

Liana, Oscar, Tom, Coco, Tania, Iggy, Jack, Curtis, Annabelle, Rei, Matisse

There was absolutely no one else on the beach to be seen, so there were no concerns about dog brawls or having to watch out for other children near these large dogs. We had a BBQ (I managed to forget my sausages) but there was enough for all to share between us all. We have about 3 gatherings per year, with the next one being at the Royal Melbourne Show - where the briards will be stars of course. Coco & Iggy won't be showing, but Jem & I will be there as a support crew for all the others, as well as the official photographers (naturally).

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Hollie.

My Hollie & me.

I sit here today quite maudlin. Down in the dumps. Saddened by the fact that Hollie & I worked our last shift together yesterday. We had her farewell dinner last night & it was a terrific night, full of laughter, tears, joys, sadness & many funny stories of all our work days together.

What will I miss about her?

I will miss her laughter, her telling us all off when we are politically incorrect, her sense of joy in all things, her optimism, her intelligence, her sense of style, her belief in the good in all people, even when they do not deserve that belief, her love for her family & friends, her dog, her boyfriend Ben, her vulnerabilities, her love for me & my family, & her hugs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Australian Briard Forum 2010 Calendar Preview

Here's a sneak peek of the winning photos.

Aren't they so cool? These photos have since been edited to PERFECTION and I'm taking them to the printers today. Hopefully the calendar will be up for sale in about 2 weeks. I desperately want them available for the Melbourne Royal (September 22) where a lot of our briards in Victoria will be shown, and will save the buyers on postage. I like to be able to hand them out personally to see how people react seeing their puppy in print. The winning entries are so yummy - great calendar again this year. The profit from the calendar sale is the main source of income for Briard Rescue, which is so important to have to help a briard in need unite with a new home as quickly as possible. Luckily it doesn't happen too often, but when it does it is so hard for all involved. It can be very stressful as you would imagine.

A bit of brightness for today

I love spring bulbs coming to life after a dark winter - not that this winter is in any way over with hideous weather forecast for our region over the next few days (high winds, rain, potential for houses to blow away). It is however a day of very blue skies and a mild breeze currently.

The colours of spring are just bright and joyous, and the smell of the jonquil is so delectable. What a happy morning. I'm downloading music, with my current favourite being Lisa Mitchell. The album "Wonder" is terrific - highly recommended. I'm also taking the Australian Briard Calendar 2010 into the printers at 12 30pm. It will be another great calendar as the photos are really top notch. We hope to sell them all to raise money for Briard Rescue - you may all buy one if you wish and they will be on Ebay - handy hint.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My friend Rachel.

It's funny how people just explode into your life in a kind of a maniacal thunderstorm whirlwind way, and just make you fall in love with them. You just can't help yourself, but you just find yourself feeling lucky to be part of their lives & grateful to be able to call them your darling friend, secure in the knowledge that you can tell that person absolutely anything & you won't be judged, just loved back in return.

This is my Rachel & me.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A new start.

I can feel spring tip toeing nearer, the days seem brighter & a bit more cheery. The grass is green, the bulbs are coming out. It all gives me hope of a brillaint new future, all sparkly & bright. So, to celebrate, I started a little herb garden yesterday, borrowed heavily from my gorgeous and inspirational friend Libby. She is always upbeat, funny, quirky and she lives her life to the full. I've learned a lot from her.

So to plagiarise her life a bit, I have replicated her herb pot. In the middle is a bay leaf tree, and surrounding that is coriander, parsley, mint & basil. It all looks so pretty and fresh, and I'm not sure that I won't kill it all off, but at this point I feel almost positive that I won't

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beautiful Camellias.

We have beautiful camellias don't we? These babies are enormous bushes (or trees), technically about 2 storeys tall, and they are part of a large planting of 8 camellia trees, all different colours, from deep red to really bright pink. They surround a small bit of decking, which I want to expand to go all around the house. However, if I do actually do that I will have to rip out the camellia trees, which totally sucks. What to do? I want both the decking and the camellias. How do I get to have it all?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Food fight!

We've all been home today, the boy's teachers had an education day, Jem & I are working the weekend.

Mum & Dad dropped off the Buddha, very pleasant day. Watched a movie.

So, I decide to cook a lovely meal, table formally set, lovely vino.

We had quickly seared pork fillets in garam marsala, cumin & butter, with lightly steamed beans, broccoli & carrots, and then garlic mashed potatoes.

So why did the three men in my life all suddenly smear their faces with mashed potato & then beat the living beejaysus out of one another?

There is no respect in the world I am sure.

There's a Buddha in the Garden.

I am SO excited - my parents got us an early Christmas present! I have been eyeing off this Buddha statue for months, but just didn't have the cash to buy it, nor the justification for doing so. Mum & Dad went to the nursery, and discovered that he was on sale (because the business is closing). They then made a ridiculously low offer for him - and bought him! How fantastic for me. I just love the way he looks in my garden and I can see him from the house.

It makes me feel all calm just to sit there and watch him. Which is not a bad thing really. Sometimes I just find myself buzzing around the clouds with how fast life is. It will be nice just to sit in the garden and chat with the Buddha.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tom's Baby Gift

When I was pregnant with Tom a friend of ours made this beautiful cot patchwork quilt. I love the fact that so much work went into this, from a woman I really didn't know at the time - I think I had met her once or twice, but our husbands had been longtime friends.

Unfortunately for us, somehow we have managed to lose contact over the years, probably not helped by the fact that we live in different states. Plus, I think I just assumed that the guys would work to maintain the friendship, and that us girls would tag along. However, I've learned that men sometimes don't do this work, but that girls do.

So, to my dearest friends (and you know who you are), even though we may live in different neighbourhoods, cities, states & for some, different countries - I love you very much, and want you gals in my life forever, you are part of me and my family and I am so thankful to be your friend.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lazy Weekend

I returned to work last week from being off for the school holidays with the boys, and what a shock to the system that was, although now of course I feel that I haven't been away at all. The plus side is that I adore the people I work with. I'm very lucky to be in a good team where we do actually care about one another and look out for one another.

However, this has been a great weekend at home, despite the fact that Husband is a work for the weekend. I've raced through all the drudgery early on both days, so the afternoons are relaxation time. We had a soccer match yesterday - we won 7 - 3, and Jack scored a goal, total brilliance of course, and then we watched "The Terminator", and both boys loved it. It is a good film. Today we're just bludging around, and I'm just waiting for the final of "Masterchef" at 7 30pm. I never thought I'd get hooked on that show, but I am totally sucked in. Tomorrow I'm on an ADO, so I'm going to Melbourne to visit with my wonderful friend Libby and her 10 weel old son, Lachie. Can't wait - and will post photos of course!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My beautiful ex-tree

My day was totally ruined yesterday by the untimely upending of my most favourite tree in the world. It was a Eucalyptus Ficifolia, and is pretty hard to grow in this part of Australia, due to cold temperatures in winter, with many frosts.

This was it last summer - isn't it just glorious. Each Autumn we do a mass plant out of about 20 of these, with usually about 5 surviving each time, so at least we have more, but they are still small, and will have quite a few years to get to the brilliance of this one.

Unfortunately, this is my tree today. We had huge winds here yesterday, and this was one of a few trees damaged, but unfortunately this one will not be able to be saved, as the roots are out. What a damn shame - it was indeed a beautiful tree.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two current fave things.

I have been given two gorgeous items that I just adore.

This first one is a scarf from my wonderful friend Kim, who lives in the Blue Mountains. She posted it, just out of the blue, and I feel very lucky. The colours are black & purple, and it is so pretty to wear - probably not the most sensible scarf to wear in a Ballarat winter, but I think it's just grand. It would be so perfect on a special night out with a great frock attached.

This petticoat was made by my Aunt Ria, and she apparently sells heaps of them, plus other delectable items from her market stall on the Sunshine Coast. How pretty is this? I'm thinking of wearing it as a dress, with black stockings and under top. I love the colours. Apparently she has a huge range of them and they are her best sellers, and you would get away with them more as dresses in Queensland (again not practical here in Victoria at the moment.) I might have it mainly as a nightie though :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Ikea Fun

Well, we went back to Ikea, bought the one chair we needed and it looks great in it's rightful spot, I'm very happy indeed (I'd want to be happy for the time/petrol money invested in getting the damn thing). We had the big discussion on the way to Melbourne about the bathroom and laundry renovations (way in the future) and saw some great products at Ikea, and much inspiration was had. There were really great huge single sinks and tubs, so we have a lot to think about. We're going to pull out a wall (between laundry & office which is unused & collects junk), build in a step up wet area (with grey/black tiling) and convert the rest into a storage & large larder area, with wooden floor boards

On the other hand, this was my best buy of the day (bought 3 of them). Terrific flat cat cushions to go on the couch. They are so odd & weird & cute and look fab on the couch. I do need to go back and get two more though - will head back with Mum who has never been to Ikea! That will be a fun trip, as I do like shopping with Mum.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Ikea Trip

I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the wonder that is Ikea, and I must say that I have been well and truly converted. I do hate the way that there is only one way in and out, and that you have to see everything that's there when you really don't want to, but I love it all the same. It's such a pity that it's a 4 hour round trip to get there though - drives me nuts.

I do REALLY love this toilet roll holder. Imagine having two boys learning to use the toilet in the proper manner - the fallout kills me - hence my adoration for the toilet roll holder which lives up on the wall, way above the toilet. Bliss. Every mother of a boy should have one in their repertoire.

I saw spice holders like these at my friend's home last weekend (hi Isaac, Brooke, Benau - adore you guys). So of course, I had to get my own. Brilliant things they are indeed, and I do need to get more. I find I use spices more with these in such easy reach, and you can clearly see when you're running low on supply. Handy hint though, grab the tub firmly to take them off the fridge as the lid comes off easily. Not pleasant.

And to my wonderful new dining chairs. They are so simple and elegant and fit in so well with my 100 year old rustic table. It was such a bloody shame though that on the day Ikea only had five in stock, when I need six, so I have to do a special trip there tomorrow to get one damn chair - did I mention the four hour round trip? But, the chairs do look terrific, but I cannot stand to have one odd one out. Ikea here I come !

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Afternoon Tea

I'm still on holidays, and still enjoying being a domestic goddess. I'm enjoying keeping house, doing the vacuuming, ironing, cleaning, baking, and I think this is because there is no rush to do it, like on days off. I like planning dinner - what a decision! Don't even mind doing the washing up.

We had a busy day yesterday, both boys off & away, one watching a Star Wars marathon with a friend, and another at a birthday party at the pictures - he saw Transformers 2. I didn't even mind the two trips into town to drop off/pick up.

I've managed to create more tee shirts/art work on RedBubble for sale ( ) and this has also been fun. Why didn't I win Tattslotto though, could do this full time, without complaints.

So, to afternoon tea - my latest fad is chocolate mud cupcakes, but I add chopped up almonds - too nice for words!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Charlie & Me

Number One niece has been here with us for the start of the school holidays. She is smart, gorgeous, interesting & funny, and we have enjoyed her company so much. It's been great for me to have another girl in the house (she did her fingernails last night and that was really quite sweet to have girly stuff happening) and there is all sorts of girl talk and sharing of (some) girl secrets. I don't see her often enough, we lost contact for a while, but no more!! She's pretty cool.

We went to the Pompeii Exhibition in Melbourne, moving experience, and very sad too, did some shopping at Ikea, watched Slumdog Millionaire. Oh, and I sewed her favourite jeans back together, they were like a torn patchwork (but she's wearing them now & I am so clever, just ask me). Bardot jeans are not to be sneezed at, and will be worn to death. She is no longer allowed to wear them horse riding.

I love her. To bits. I love it when she's here - come back soon Charlotte!

Miss you front and back.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Death of Celebrity.

Wow, Farrah Fawcett-Major and Michael Jackson both died today. I wonder what legacy they will leave.

Farrah leaves behind in my mind sunny, beautiful, cheerful thoughts, plus I am in awe of her bravery to film a documentary of her battle with cancer over the past three years. That takes some resilience to allow others to see you at your worst, when in Hollywood image is everything. May she rest in peace, sincere sympathy to her family, this was not the end she deserved.

And Michael, whose music I grew up with and loved. And yet his image is tarnished by the (unproven) allegations of child abuse. I feel for those children of his, as lord knows what sort of a life they have lived (were they even schooled?) and I have no doubt that the Jackson family will make the care of those kids a huge melodramatic legal circus (how much money would be involved to have those kids in your clutches?) But then again, perhaps, I will be proved wrong. Maybe there will be dignity for Michael eventually. Vale Michael.

Whatever happens, these two people have touched my life in all sorts of ways, and the world will miss them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family Dinner, BBQ in the rain.

It was Jack's birthday recently (he had a fabulous weekend might I add, whilst I was dying of swine flu (possibly)) and I've just been trawling through the photos.

These 2 are my absolute favourites!!

My brother Chris is a brilliant cook, and he cooked us all dinner on the Saturday night, Mum & Dad came over also. We had prosciutto wrapped lamb chops, with a chilli mash and spinach. He and Jem cooked the BBQ in the rain, under the umbrella, with the obligatory beer and dinner was totally delicious. I nearly popped from over-eating, but I so enjoyed myself. To have everyone there was great, heavenly for me.

After dinner, Chris and Jack decided to have a wrestle at the table, as you do, and it almost ended in tears and vomit, as we were all laughing so much.

Excellent fun, far too many photos, happy times indeed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

No internet

Oh my goodness - I have just survived 5 days without the internet on at home.

5 days.

I survived!

I did lots of other stuff though - caught up on reading, on housework, and hung out with the kids a bit more. And it was really nice actually.

The internet provider was not THAT helpful in getting things connected a bit quicker though, I don't think it was high in their list of priorities, until I rang the local ABC and asked them if they could find out why it was out for so long for me, because I had no answers from my multiple phone calls over the 5 days.

Amazing - one hour after the local internet service provider manager was interviewed by the local ABC as to why we were all out around here - it was magically turned back on. Go figure.

Now to get my rebate.....:)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The lazy black dog.

The lazy black dog is named Coco, and she is hilarious.

Yesterday I washed her bedding and put it in the sun to dry. I also out some frozen bones out to thaw for her and her sister Iggy.

Coco couldn't be bothered doing anything too vigorous, so she grabbed her frozen bone, lay on her wet bedding in the sun, and licked her bone gently until it was warm enough to eat. She didn't even have to lift her head!

This all takes brains I'm sure. Please say yes!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I've just found out that a very dear friend of mine (Ling) is now engaged to her boyfriend of many years (Guy) and I am so inordinately happy for her. She is a wonderful person, gorgeous, smart, funny & I am SO HAPPY for them both. It's funny isn't it? Such a simple thing - they love each other, want to be together forever, and it has just made my day. I'm all teary, and I'm not even tipsy.

My dearest Ling. You were are brilliant work colleague, and now you are my lovely & adored friend.

I wish you and Guy many happy years together, may your lives be blessed & enriched by each other.

Biggest of love to you both.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Couch - woo hoo!!

Finally it has arrived, after 8 weeks of (almost) patient waiting. Isn't it lovely? It is also rather slightly huge, much bigger than I remember! I've whacked it all together but Jem has to put all the lock in connections together when he gets home tonight at some ridiculous hour.

Thank goodness for the Government stimulus package, without it the couch would not be here. See - we work hard to stimulate the country's economy. We are proud of ourselves. And thrilled with the couch.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Impending Birthdays

Youngest boy has a 10th birthday pending. I have one shopping day left, and he has left the birthday present list to the totally last minute (no pressure). As I speak he is perusing the Lego website, clarifying any possible pressies and the cost of them. He is finding $70.00 - $100.00 bargains, none of which are for certain are available in Australia, but all are now ultra important. It's hilarious really - he is so cute and how can I resist his charm? We are so busy planning a 3 day celebration of his life, we have great Uncles and Aunts attending - this is how important this child is. And he is. I love him with all my heart and soul. PARTAY!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Changing blog email addresses - what a palaver.

Who knew the rules - had to create a new email account to post as me and not as "Jeremy Bannister Photography". Probably not necessary, but I did want my own ID here.

Taken me hours but worth it, now I exist as me as not as an extension of our other blog.

It gets like that doesn't it, with bank accounts and stuff? When we married he was automatically joined to my car insurance (he didn't have any), got my rating without a prob and then all the mail was delivered in his name (grr). He managed to get a loan in our names, without me signing anything, but in reverse that would have been impossible.

Anyway, let's see if this post is signed off as me.

The first post........

Well, finally, it's all about me!

This life I have is pretty fantastic, I have so much to be very grateful for. My husband is a good guy & I adore him big time. He is a terrific Dad who loves us all to pieces. The boys are funny, nice people who will be funny, nice adults. I am indeed blessed & have nothing to complain about.

I do however like to complain, so this will be the spot to do so. I'm looking forward to it.