Monday, 29 April 2013

Last gasp of summer

It's Monday and it's one of those rare days you get late in April when summer is arm-wrestling winter, producing the most glorious weather.  In fact, it's been like that for the past few days.

On Saturday evening my daughter took me along to the Sydney Theatre Company while my son-in-law took on the baby-sitting chores, bless him.  I regretted wearing my wool jacket and quickly took it off once we were inside.  The new play, Fury, was written by Australian Joanna Murray-Smith and directed by Andrew Upton (Cate Blanchett's husband).  It's an excellent production and add to this a beautifully balmy evening, a venue on the harbour waterfront and a civilised wine bar/restaurant on the premises to ease us into the evening, what more could you wish for?

Sunday continued along the same weather path and it was too good to spend the hours indoors.  I gladly accepted an invitation to join some of the family for brunch at their favourite plant nursery which was a short drive away.  We adults indulged in spicy Moroccan baked eggs which came in sizzling cast iron dishes ... delicious.

The resident fish were obviously just as happy with the weather as we were.  Our six year-old grandson showed remarkable restraint when he came across a bin of dolphin shaped watering cans, just his size.  He REALLY WANTED one.  His mother asked how much pocket money he had saved and it was calculated that the purchase would take half his savings.  He pondered it for about 30 seconds and decided that he could live without it after all.  Wish I had the same restraint.

I know winter is just around the corner and I really should be making some of these little jumper dresses, but it's difficult with those warm breezes wafting through the air.  Mind you, tomorrow I will probably be screaming for my thermals.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


What inspires you?  Or rather, who inspires you?  When you get to my age you can recall so many people who have helped shape you into the person you are today, for better or worse.  My parents were   the first to influence me, encouraging me to stretch beyond what I thought I was capable of.  Since that time there have been all those stepping stones - a loving husband, remarkable children and extraordinary friends, all who inspire me every day.

Over the past few weeks I have been wondering if I should slow down a tad, give myself a break from my little business.  After all, I am at an age where many folk are in retirement villages or (gasp) nursing homes.  Then this morning I discovered this remarkable woman.

Her name is Ann.  She is 81 years old and she has just won the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee.  Eighty-one.  My goodness.

This morning I sat in front of my computer watching the final episode of the series.  I was so excited that I had to pause the programme while I rushed into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.  The three finalists were aged 27, 48 and 81 - quite a wide range in ages and each was so inspirational in her own way.

But it was the winner Ann who had the ability to fire up my lagging enthusiasm.  Even better came the last postscript in the programme ...

She is now a quilter!  

If you have an hour to spare, do yourself a favour.  Make a cup of coffee, put a cushion on your computer chair, sit back and be delighted.

To complete my day, I had an early morning visitor who dropped by just as I finished watching the video.

It also happens to be Anzac Day - a time to remember all those in the armed forces who sacrificed so much so that we can enjoy this wonderful life we have today.    They are my ultimate inspiration.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


The last time I bought a cake mix was probably somewhere in the mid-Seventies when I was a young mother desperate for time.  I still haven't bought a cake mix, but one did come in a foodie show bag we bought at the Sydney Easter Show.  There it sat among some questionable packets of such tempting dishes as fried noodles, Blue Dragon stir fry sauce, roasted seaweed yakinori (premium no less), and my all-time favourite, Mumbai mushrooms and potatoes stir fried with onions and tomatoes.  Maybe they will sit in the cupboard until they pass their use by date and I can hurl them with a clear conscience.

But the cake mix was different.  It was the creation of Adriano Zumbo, the Pavarotti of the pΓ’tissier world.  With a birthday on the horizon, I decided to take a chance with this packet cake.

Oh my goodness.  Let me preface this by declaring that I have never met the man, nor is this a paid commercial, but I think I am in love with Adriano.

This is no ordinary cake mix.  This is chocolate heaven on earth, albeit with a heart attack waiting in the wings.  There is real chocolate inside this box.  You add three eggs and way too much butter than is good for you.  You bake it slowly in a bain-marie.  When it is cool you smother it in a chocolate glaze. It is an extremely dense and gooey cake, but so light that you don't feel guilty eating it.  Mr Fudge was mighty impressed with his birthday cake, but more was to come.

Last night we had dinner with the Young Fudges and knowing that Grandad was a steam train buff, they persuaded their mother to help them make him a cake that he would remember always.  Well, it was a huge success and there was even enough for us to take home for the next day.

On the drive home it morphed into the Scary Cake Monster.  But not quite scary enough not to be eaten with gusto.  And a cup of coffee.

Monday, 8 April 2013


It's only about two hours north of Sydney on the freeway, yet it's years since we have been to Newcastle.  And my how it's changed.

We arrived about an hour before the younger travellers and discovered a cosy cafe adjoining the museum for a snack.  The sounds of an orchestral recital taking place in the museum came wafting through the walls to entertain us - a lovely start to the weekend.

There's an eclectic mixture of old and new, with the inner city and mall retaining many of the old buildings while the waterfront area abounds in new and classy developments.

Children bring a new perspective to places visited, as they seek out areas an adult would perhaps pass by without a second glance.

Their imagination can turn the simplest objects into playgrounds full of adventure.

It's difficult climbing onto a giant hook when you are six ...

... so much easier when you are on the cusp of eight.

But when you are three, you just have to grin and bear it.

Our three year-old has us all puzzled.  Is he right-handed or left-handed?  His mother and great-uncle are certain that he's a leftie like them, but the rest of us are keeping an open mind.

Our weekend was complete when we returned home to find a couple of email messages that our daughter was featured on the Frankie Magazine blog. We were so happy for her.

However, her niece and nephews make sure she keeps her feet planted firmly on the ground.