Sunday, November 7, 2010

Topsy Turvy Tomato.

This is my experiment of the weekend, & apparently the tomatoes do quite well growing like this as they don't get too many bugs or rot on the soil. We'll see how it goes, I do hope that it grows & prospers. I have heard that you can also grow strawberries this way - has any one had success with this type of growing? I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy 13th Birthday Tom xx

Happy 13th birthday to our eldest son, Tom. Well, it's not for a couple of more days yet, but he has eight of his school friends here for the day (yes, I must be insane!). Actually, it has been quite a pleasant day as they are a really great bunch of guys, very well mannered, polite & there has been not one fight or argument that I have heard. Who said the youth of today were a lost cause? These guys give me hope for the future, & I'm not at all disappointed in the friends that Tom has chosen. One of his teachers once said to me that you judge your son by who his friends are - from what I can see Tom is doing just fine. Happy 13th birthday in advance Tom, I love you lots & lots, & am so proud of the man that you are becoming xxx

Da boyz!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday to Coco & Iggy xx

Wow!! The baby girls are five! Who knew that those squally puppies would grow up to be the lovely young ladies that they are (well, mostly are) now. Happy 5th birthday to the two briards who have enriched our lives & expanded our friendship group to include the most wonderful other briard families whom we now call our dear friends.

Baby Iggy

Baby Coco

I'm not sure where I got the following list from, but it sums up the briard beautifully:

GET A BRIARD BECAUSE THEY: (Half truths... followed by the real meaning)

  • Don't shed........ "What are these little balls of hair on her?"
  • Are very smart........ Knowing and doing are 2 different things.
  • Are alert....... When you are near a can opener.
  • Are gentle....... Only breaks 1/2 the things she knocks over.
  • Are interesting looking....... Learn to say, "It's a Briard" 999 times in rapid succession.
  • Like to sleep near their owners....... Buy a bigger bed.
  • Like to travel........ Buy a bigger car.
  • Like to stay by your side....... Buy a bigger couch.
  • Like to be with you constantly....... Build a bigger bathroom.
  • Are an education pet....... Learn the meaning of the word bigger.
  • Aren't timid....... She's begging from the neighbours again.
  • Are playful....... "See my black & blue marks?"
  • Have strong teeth...... "See my scars?"
  • Worked for the government during the war....... She chewed up the mail again.
  • Have a thick coat....... Pick broken comb teeth out of the carpet.
  • Keep their toys in one place....... "Where are my shoes?"
  • Look cute with a toy in their mouth....... "Where is the cat?"
  • Are good watch dogs....... Make a lot of noise at 3am if there is a prowler or a squirrel in the yard.
  • Are constant companions....... "Get out of here, I'm busy!"
  • Are fearless...... "The skunk got her again".
  • Are good herding dogs....... "She's got the cat in the closet again"
  • Have excellent memory....... When it's convenient.
  • Work well with verbal commands....... "Doctor, I think I have laryngitis".
  • Have good hearing....... "That's right, I'm talking to you!"
  • Are economical....... "We can't go out to dinner, I've got dog school".
  • Are easy to house train....... Brown spots give the lawn contrast.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cinnamon Buns - a taste sensation!

My dear friend Annie has given smoking & has taken up cooking, which is the equivalent of the Universe turning upside down as she does not cook anything. My world is clearly a changed place because not only is she cooking but she is actually baking - it's totally unheard of!! Given that a baking novice was bragging about baking the best cinnamon buns ever I thought it best to give them a try, & I am so damn pleased that I did as they are SENSATIONAL!

I cheated & used the bread maker to make the dough (I had to add 1/2 cup more water than listed in the recipe given) & the dough was falling out of the machine after rising so well. The rest of the process is really easy & I recommend that you all make a batch - you won't be disappointed. Click on the title above where the link will take you to the recipe web page. Enjoy!!

The buns in the tray after rising.

Just out of the oven.

Ready to eat - so delicious!!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"The Book Thief"

As you know, I am in a book group here - marvellous women, lots of fun & laughter & sometimes, the occasional chat about our books.

I finished reading "The Book Thief" today, & you MUST read it, it is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read.
Written by Markus Zusak, the narrator is Death, telling the story of how he collects the souls of the dead during World War II.

Death focuses on a little girl named Liesel & her life as a foster child who cannot read, but learns after she stole her first book, which she found near the grave site of her little brother. The premise sounds just awful, but trust me, this is an EXQUISITE book.

I found it very hard to try to read the first time, given the style of writing he uses as the character Death, but I gave it a second go, & am so glad I did. It is heartbreaking in it's descriptions & yet so uplifting & beautiful - you must read it & let me know what you thought of it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spring has Sprung!

Wow, spring is finally here! How lovely to be just wandering around the garden: the weather is mild, the smell of all the is blooms filling the air, & I'm seeing all the flowers & the bulbs smiling at me. We've had so much rain lately in the region, with lots of awful flooding wrecking people's homes unfortunately. Jeremy took some fantastic photos of the Creswick flooding, you can have a look at the Ballarat Courier's photo gallery here:

I took some photos of the garden just now, so I thought it best to share xx

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Australian Briard Calendar 2011

Can I just tell you how excited I am about our 2011 Australian Briard Calendar? How sensational is that cover? That baby briard is named Nanook & what a little stunner she is. What a perfect cover girl, what a model to show how truly beautiful the Briard actually is. All beauty & brains (well perhaps not our two as they are quite daffy, but they are very beautiful).

The members of the Australian Briard Forum started producing our own Calendar here in Australia to help us fund our Briard Rescue Service. It was too much to expect that the Rescue Team, who work so hard to help briards in need, should also shell out the costs of doing so in an ongoing manner. They would say that they did not mind, part of the love for the breed, but it was just not right.

So here is this lovely Calendar. The photos are taken by the owners & then submitted for the "Calendar Competition" in a bid to get a page. Luckily there is a team of people available at my work who do the selection process as I believe that this makes it as unbiased as possible. I think they have done a marvellous job this year as we had 282 photos submitted - huge!

If you would like to buy a 2011 Australian Briard Calendar ($25.00AUD plus postage), you can buy it either on Ebay or via this link:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Original & Mineral - 7 Day Miracle Moisture Masque

I have been converted! No, really I have. It's almost a religious experience - for I have discovered the joy-for-my-hair that is the product range from "Original & Mineral". My Hairdressing Salon, the wonderful team at Paul Tabbitt Hairdressing in Ballarat have been stocking & using the products for quite a while now, but with me being the sceptic I am, I was quite dubious about all the snake oil claims of how great these products are for my hair (sorry to my darling Paul, I do believe you now - kisses xx You know I am a snarky old woman at the best of times).

I have been using this "Seven Day Miracle Moisture Masque" religiously now for about 6 weeks, applying it once a week. From the first use I noted a change in my hair that it was smoother, softer - less fly away frizzy really, which is such a relief for me, I turn afro at the drop of a hat. Consistent use has made a world of difference to my hair & how I feel about myself, so now I have joined the cult that is O & M. I also love the hydrating moisturising conditioner & use that daily. Paul Tabbitt Hairdressing is the only Ballarat stockist, so for all you other folks not in Ballarat who wish to give it a go I suggest that you contact the staff at Original & Mineral as I'm sure they would help you out with posting product if you needed them too (well, clearly I cannot promise that but I would assume that they would let you know where your nearest stockist is).

They are also fun to follow on Twitter, my faves are:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our Briards.

With all the mentioning of the briard beads & the briard earrings - I forgot to mention the actual briard dog - apologies to you my dear audience! A briard is a rare breed of dog, with first real records (read: tapestries) being kept of the breed in eighth century France:


Our briard litter sisters, Misses Iggy & Coco, came to us in 2005, from the last litter bred by our now very dear friend Irena (Trilby Briards) in NSW. They arrived together via plane, bundled up in a crate, two tiny little bear cubs, who were just so sweet & snuggly. Briards have a need to be with their humans at ALL times, preferably on top of you - I don't think they realise (nor do they care) how large they actually are.


The history of the breed in Australia is very interesting as it only commenced in 1974 - if you are interested have a look at: for further information. Given this short space of time, the breed has quietly established itself, but thankfully not to the popularity levels of other breeds. Briard litters are never advertised - it's all word of mouth from people in the know, or by people who are interested in the breed tracking down a breeder (also not very common) & placing themselves on a very long waiting list.

Misses Coco & Iggy having a ponder at Moggs Creek Beach

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Briard Rescue Earrings

Thank you to all who contacted me about the Briard Rescue Beads! You are all very kind, & the Briard Rescue Team does so very much appreciate your positive feed back - again, thank you xx It is lovely to know that those who do not have our breed of dog still think that what we have made is pretty cool & worthwhile.

So, to brag again I thought I should post up a picture of our Briard Rescue Earrings. Do not look too closely at the photo as I do wear these earrings to death & they could do with a damn good polish (should have done that before we took the photo - *slaps forehead*)

The paw prints are pressed into the earrings themselves & the paw print model is a very handsome briard named Teddy who lives in N.S.W. Again, they are solid sterling silver & are quite heavy to be perfectly honest, but I became used to the weight quickly.

When I wear these I get so many comments - which thrills me no end as they are pretty damn gorgeous. I also love the fact that I know the paw print model, and that all of the pairs of earrings made are not quite the same, as they are not mass produced but rather thay are made to order.

For those of you who are interested in the briard dog, please go to:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Lone Pine.

We have been able to purchase a descendant of the original Lone Pine (Aleppo Pine), left at Lone Pine Ridge, Turkey in 1915. This was the last Aleppo Pine left standing after the Turkish Army cut down the other ones to cover their trenches. In August 1915, during a 3 day battle the Australian Army lost 2000 men whilst the Turkish Army lost 7000 men.

Two Australian soldiers kept some of the pine cones. Many years later, luckily, their relatives were able to germinate 6 seedlings. These seedlings were then donated to various towns & war memorials. Since the 1980's many trees have been grown from the Aleppo Pine which was donated to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Now we can all buy the descendants of that Lone Pine. We bought ours recently, but also purchased an plaque to clearly identify it as a very special addition to our garden.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Briard Rescue Beads.

We have two female briard dogs, named Coco & Iggy, who are very gorgeous & very spoilt. They are now almost five & are still wonderfully silly girls. One day they may actually act all grown up (or not). Unfortunately not all dogs are so loved, so I help out with the "Briard Rescue" group, which was formed to rescue & re-home briards in need. This is a wonderful bunch of other briard owners who volunteer their time help out - a burden shared & all that. Funny how a shared belief makes for a "family".

We recently had a bunch of beads made up for ourselves & to also raise funds for the Rescue Group. This would have to be my most favourite necklace, I just love the work in the beads, with a paw on one side & a dogs head on the other. They are sterling silver too - no common muck metal for us.

When we bought our dogs all those years ago we had no idea about the friendships that we would form, initially over the internet (The Australian Briard Forum) & then in person as we got to know people enough to then organise briard parties, where we all just enjoy each other's company (& the dogs of course). We've attended briard parties in QLD & NSW & so many here in Victoria, & consider these people lifelong friends. Our boys still love to go to the parties - I so hope that continues when they are teenagers, because they are loved by these people whom we do consider to be family. We are lucky indeed. Oh, if you want some beads too, you can purchase them here:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Turkish Delight Cheesecake - thanks David xx

Firstly - I must acknowledge the people who shared this recipe with me, for I fear that if I don't my darling friends David & Liana may take vengeance on me (which may actually be great fun - love them to Turkish Delight bits!) Thanks guys for giving me your recipe, although I would have preferred for you (ie. David!) to make me the cheesecake for me, as is our usual custom x

Tah Dah! The Turkish Delight Cheesecake.

We have a very special day planned for tomorrow - a big briard party!! It will be held at Kate's home in Bunyip & we are expecting around 28 people & 11 briards. Everyone is bringing a dish or two to share - I am bringing a green salad, garlic vinaigrette dressing & of course, my copy of David & Liana's Turkish Delight Cheesecake.

Taken from "A Briard Celebration - Recipe Book" - note David & Liana's boy briard Oscar looking gorgeous!

The Recipe.

250gm plain biscuits, crushed to resemble breadcrumbs
150gm butter, melted
3 tsps gelatine powder
1/4 cup boiling water
375gm packaged cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream
3 x Frys/Cadburys Turkish Delight bars finely chopped
1 x Frys/Cadburys Turkish Delight bars finely chopped (for decoration)

Line the base of a 24cm spring form cake pan with kitchen foil. Combine the crushed biscuits & melted butter & press this mixture evenly over the base & sides of the tin. Cover with food wrap & refrigerate for an hour. In a cup place the boiling water & sprinkle the gelatine over the top: stir until dissolved, then leave to cool. Using an electric mixer & a small bowl beat the cream cheese, vanilla essence & sugar together until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Stir the gelatine mixture into the cheese mixture, add the Turkish Delight & fold in the cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared biscuit base & refrigerate until set. Decorate with the extra Turkish Delight.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Eucalyptus Ficifolia - A Survivor!

This is an update to my previous blog post about my favourite tree falling down (July 2009). If you look back at the photos, my tree looked pretty much dead & gone. But, look at it now!

We were just devastated by its "loss". However, luckily for us, we were too lazy at the time to cut it up for firewood - because it has continued to live! It still flowers even though it's lying on its side, & it continues to grow new branches. I cannot believe our good fortune.

The root system had just bent with the tree & there is still enough soil over the roots to protect it. It even survived last summer really well in this condition as the photos show. The dogs quite like to shade in it, can't say that I blame them as the flowers are beautiful.

We have planted out the same species en masse along our neighbours fence line to create more privacy, & the majority of those ones appear to be surviving quite well, even with the drought & water restrictions. One day, a full row of them in full bloom will be a sight to see.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spiders In The Garden.

It's a frosty, crisp, wintry day here & it's appears that the spiders are enjoying the morning sunshine. How glorious is our garden today? Magnificent.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Random Act of Kindness From Across The Globe

As much as I know that this will annoy my dear friend Stella, I am going to put her photo here.

She will totally hate this photo being here, but she will just have to accept the fact that I want to pay her a tribute for being such a great friend, & for always being here for me, even though she lives on the opposite side of the planet. We met 14 years ago (at my wedding) & have just been "together" since, despite the differences in time zones. Apparently we are quite similar according to those who know us both quite well, which I am really happy about
, because I very much admire & love her. She is warm, kind, intelligent, feisty, funny, gorgeous to look at - the entire package really.

Stella in her allotment in the UK

We have had a hard few months here in our family, with the poor health of some of our loved family members being the main concern, with all that that involves.

These are the beautiful flowers she & Peter sent last week, just to be lovely. How lucky am I to have her in my life? A good friend is a true gift & we need to take care of all our friendships. Sometimes they do take work, sometimes they are just easy, but if they nurture your soul & enhance your life then they are worth it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Our Beautiful Fishtank.

The fish tank - from the lounge room

This is our fish tank, which lives in the wall cavity in between the dining room & the lounge room. When we first moved into this house all that was there was a series of bits of wood, which made the room look a little bit like a prison cell. After a few months of contemplation we decided to put a fish tank in there & we thought we were so BRILLIANT. However, it turns out that the people who built the house had a fish tank there too - the second owners ripped it out & put the bars in. We are the third owners. It also turns out that we know both lots of previous owners - so much for country anonymity!

The fish tank - from the dining room.

Obviously we had to get the tank made up to order from a local glass shop. It took them four goes to get it right. The first one leaked straight away, the second one bowed out when the water was added & the third one exploded out into the dining room after a night of water sitting in it. Thank goodness there were no fish in that one at that point, & thank goodness we weren't sitting there eating at the table. I cannot tell you the mess it made - shards of broken glass, 80 litres of water & thousands of tiny black stones all over the floor, but at least it wasn't into the lounge room, which at that stage had carpet in it. The tank is a source of joy for us, it's just so peaceful to sit at the table, having a nice dinner & a glass of wine, contemplating this mini lake with family & friends.

Friday, April 30, 2010

April Book Club

I belong to the best book group ever, no lie. It is made up of women from diverse backgrounds & beliefs, & I thoroughly enjoy myself each time we catch up. There are 16 members, all wonderful in so many different ways, & all of whom enrich my life. We are a changing bunch - we have babies, start new careers, start new relationships, get married, buy houses & lose those we love. The really cool thing is that we do it all together, each month.

I thought that as a new rule for myself I should do a monthly book review, just to allow myself to waffle on. What a surprise!

The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas

I loved "The Slap". What a spectacular book, based on the story of a Melbourne family BBQ where one man slaps someone else's child. There are interwoven stories from the view of the different characters, & the subsequent fallout from that one event. The thing is - how would I react? Would I react like the Mother of the child? Would that make me right? A great read - I highly recommend this book

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

This book is the extension of a final lecture given by a professor faced with his imminent death from cancer. It is a true story, & the basis of it is awe inspiring. Apparently some Universities in the USA have their professors to this as a regular thing as part of their job, but Randy really was giving his "last lecture" & wanted a record for his young children. I made it to Chapter 8 & could do no more, not from sadness or distress, I just found him to be a boring writer. However, if I was his child, I would be blown away by the record of his/our story.

The Gift - Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern wrote the book "PS I Love You" which I totally loathed, but persisted in reading to try to "get it". I should have realised that "The Gift" would just be as awful, but I could always have been wrong? Nope. I wasn't. What a load of shite - far too many words wandering aimlessly on a page. I made it to Chapter 4 & gave up. I cannot even begin to tell you how I wish I could get back that 30 minutes of my life. A dreadful book.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Today is ANZAC Day here in Australia & all over the world. So, along with thousand of others in Ballarat, we attended the local Dawn Service & my Dad joined us. It never fails to move me, I always manage to cry, the playing of "The Last Post" is just exquisite. It is also very moving to be standing in a crowd of people, silently, with all honouring our history, just being united in support of the Armed Forces who fought so that we have the freedoms that we have today. We has nice weather, of course it was cold (it is Ballarat) but there was no rain & only a slight breeze. Perfect!

Jeremy, Jack, Dad & Tom

I never used to pay much attention to ANZAC Day as a kid as it was not something that appeared to be a focus in our family. However, after J & I married (or even before really) that certainly changed. He grew up the son of a serving professional army man, went wherever they were posted, & is now a fierce supporter of Legacy. In fact this May he will become the President of the local Legacy Branch, which is apparently trail blazing - for his young age & also for the fact that he has never served in the Australian Armed Forces.

Chocolate muffins & ANZAC biscuits, baked yesterday

So, to all who have fought bravely for me & my family, in the past, the present & the future - thank you. Thank you also to your families, who have given of their time to love to support you, I do no think that their roads would be easy sometimes.

Lest we forget.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thanks Mum xx

My Mum has been really rather sick for what seems like ages now, been in hospital twice in Melbourne with a rehab stint here at home as well. At one stage I thought we may lose her, and that was a very scary place to go. I really don't know that I would cope without her, because who else would I turn to? She spoils me rotten, she's my best friend, she's my sounding board and she is my biggest fan. She is the most wonderful grand-mother to my boys and I watch them bloom under her care and love, and they are turning out to be lovely men with her guidance.

One of the hardest things for her recovery is that her movement is restricted, which for my Mum is dreadfully awful as she is one of the busiest people I know. She can't garden, play tennis, run around with the boys, go for drives in that car of more than 5 minutes duration. But, she can help me with my current dilemma! I have book group this afternoon, and the theme is "Easter Bonnet". How perfect! Mum is a crafty bugger - and look at the Easter Bonnet she made for me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Dogs Clearly Love Me.

Look at what I came home to tonight. I even managed to step over it whilst carrying a water bucket without realising it - but I sure managed to see it on the way back to the house. How can I be that blind? Amazing.

Talk about a PANIC, but thank goodness it was really, really dead. It was however right at the back door, so the dogs were just being loving I guess. To me it looks like an ex-brown snake & it was about a metre in length, but I have had it confirmed by an excellent source that it is indeed a juvenile copperhead snake (thanks Jeff xx)

I found a really long stick to grab it & put it in the bin. It was so beautiful - I don't think the photos do it justice, but the colour of it was just spectacular. It had a light green belly, such a golden brown hue on the topside. Poor thing, it was probably out for a nice afternoon meander. Betcha it got a helluva fright.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Re-upholstered Lounge Suite.

Could I be any happier? Our lounge suite has arrived today after being re-upholstered! Doesn't it look just fabulous? I bought it almost 20 years ago from a lady I used to know. Back then it was brown & had no discernable shape, but I just loved it. Man I'm glad I bought it.

I had it reupholstered about 18 years ago (piece by piece due to having almost no money to spare), into a floral tapestry pattern & it was so pretty. It also came back with it's original shape, which I was most surprised & thrilled about, as I had no idea that it actually had a shape. Since then it has survived the husband, 2 baby boys, 2 cats & 4 dogs (2 of whom are still with us), numerous parties & good (& bad) times with friends. It's been with me for so long now, I can never let it go. What a history we have together. Actually, sitting here thinking about it - these pieces of furniture are really the first things I bought that I still have with me to this day. No wonder I am so attached to them. Freaky.

I wonder what the next 18 years involves for this lounge suite & I? Can't wait to find out though! I wonder what I'll be like in 18 years. Might have to re-upholster myself when I next re-upholster the suite.....:)

Cousin Cathie's Wedding

Myself (looking slightly mad) & Cathie (& baby - I think a girl?)

On the weekend just gone, husband & I were invited to the wedding of my gorgeous cousin Cathie, who married a rather yummy English chap, John. The wedding was held in the Ballarat Art Gallery, which is a beautiful venue, with the reception at a local hotel. Cathie is the one cousin who looks like me, so I'm told, & apparently we are both similar in our humour & attitude. I'm happy with that - Cathie is terrific!

Father of the Bride, Me, Aunt & Uncle

The wedding ceremony was brief, which is the way all good ceremonies should be, & I was a bit teary, much to the amusement of my children However, all weddings make me tear up, as they are such joyous events with huge promises for the future.

The wedding favour - what a damn good idea! How nice is this plate?

Congratulations to Cathie & John! Your wedding & reception was a great, fun filled event, but I know that your life together will be one of the best marriages going. You guys rock xx