To me Christmas seems a long time ago. In one sense it was, as the family Christmas was on 19/12, a week before. I had little that needed to be done before the official day. This weeks seems to have been in slow motion and I have had to constantly stop to work out just which day it is. Summer holidays. Festival of Sydney through January.
Even Christmas to the rest of the family seems to have been calmer as one DIL put it.
I made a very definite decision to have Christmas Day to myself. I enjoyed it. I went to church in the morning where we sang lots of carols and had a light morning tea afterward. Many were away with their families so there were few children out. As we greeted each other, I had my hand kissed! Let me say it's been a very long time since that last happened.
I returned home and had a lovely meal of prawns and a couple of pleasant salads. I spoke to all the rest of the family and wished them a happy Christmas and spent an afternoon reading etc. I totally enjoyed it.
Boxing Day was lovely. My friend picked me up about 10:30 and we went to Blaxland in the lower Blue Mountains to friends of his. Well his friends originally, but I've now known them for some time and been away with them. The four of us were teachers although only one is still teaching. They have a very pleasant house on five acres. 70's style but very comfortable and done up to suit them. The husband now works translating and writing and his wife is a school librarian.
We sat outside seeing if we could name the birds as they flew past. Leftovers from Christmas was our lunch and we sat and talked, listened to music, told jokes, used Facetime to speak to their daughter in London. The afternoon went on and eventually there was another simple meal. It was a lovely day catching up with them and my friend walked me to my door at just before midnight. It had been a very satisfying day.
Son and DIL with whom I lived gave me a Samsung digital photoframe. I've heard such things can be frustrating to set up. I opened it yesterday and put it together. Drat! It would not run from USB cord and computer. It wanted an update of firmware or drivers. The link gave only something for Win XP. It's been some years since I used Windows and I don't care if I never have anything to do with it again. There is a program to simulate windows on an Apple, but I didn't want to go that way, I love my Mac. I hunted and searched on forums to find updates for a Mac. Nothing. So today I bought a big USB memory stick and transferred some photos to it as a trial. After a bit of fiddling and pulling out plugs and replugging others, the thing works. Now I can load up the stick with more photos.
It's far from quiet here. There are often lots of ibis and gulls who feed from the rubbish bins. Lately the cockatoos have decided this is their territory, although they don't have same eating habits. About twenty of them have been flying around screeching for the last half hour. The other birds have left and the cockies will leave a few cockatoos on watch, obviously where the phrase originally come from. A few sweeps over the place for the next few days will guarantee no ibis etc for the next ten days or so.
Something sunny to match the day outside. It started off quite damp but has turned into a beautiful day. I even dried washing outside on the balcony. Tomorrow, Christmas Day, should be reasonable too, I think. I saw an article where the weather bureau said that not only was it Sydney's coldest and wettest start to summer in over fifty years, but also that this month we have been colder than Melbourne, Hobart or Launceston. It's felt pretty cold a lot of the time.
So, to see the sun and some blue sky today is glorious. We had a good day last weekend with the family together. The rain held off, although it was very grey all day. We didn't get to the beach but enjoyed a meal together and then the grandchildren played backyard cricket. They used Master Six's set with tiny stumps and a small wicket. No one suggested backyard cricket, I think this might be a genetic trait in Aussie kids! LOL. The game just happened.
I'll be at home by myself tomorrow. Don't feel sorry for me, this is a conscious decision I have made with no pressure on me. Both sons with children asked me to lunch, but both are going out mid-afternoon. Neither place is easy to get to by public transport on a public holiday, especially for just a short time frame. Other son is away for several days. I'm happy to be here, I have prawns and other food and drink. I will have a quiet day and think about the get together last weekend.
Church will be at 9:30 tomorrow and I'm planning to get to that. I'd go to the midnight service tonight too if I still lived with son and DIL a few minutes walk from the church.
On Monday, friend and I were going to have lunch or dinner. We hadn't made up our minds. He rang the other day and we are going to friends of his for lunch and dinner. I haven't seen these friends for a couple of years and will be glad to catch up. Lovely people, easy to talk to and we all have a lot in common. They live in the Blue Mountains so it will be enjoyable there too.
My brother and sister both were impressed with the tapestries I had framed for them. I'm glad of that.
Have a great time everyone and I'll be back in a few days.
Busy, busy, but who isn't at this time of the year?
I've actually not much more to do, just need a few groceries etc. Our family do was last Sunday, hastily re-arranged to my son's place instead of the beach. It actually didn't rain but was fairly gloomy all day. Much better to be under shelter than to need to move in a hurry. It was a pleasant day and we all enjoyed ourselves. All the children played cricket with Master Six's set. Not a present but he was thrilled to have what seemed like a whole team to play with him.
On Monday late afternoon, early evening really, we had a cracker of a thunderstorm here. Very heavy storm with lots of lightning and big claps of thunder rolled in from western Sydney. DIL who's an SES volunteer in her area was called out to a number of distress calls.
After it had gone, there was almost sunshine. I looked out to see a very peculiar, very pink light all around. Then I saw a rainbow going into the sky with an almost vertical arch. There was no corresponding right hand to the arch, just the ascent. I knew I would not have time to set up big Nikon, so grabbed my phone and hoped for the best. As I took this first picture I realised there was a double bow to the rainbow.
I have seen a few photos of this but have never seen a double arch in all my life. This photo has been downsized a bit, although you can enlarge it by clicking. However, I haven't retouched it in any way at all. That really was what the light was like. Very eerie.
I'm glad to be home. Have spent two days at son's place minding grandchildren. I must be getting old, but I was very glad to return to my quiet tidy place last night. Miss Seven screams. And screams then some more as if she was being murdered. Admittedly, her brother hit her with a plastic baseball bat, but she'd already chased him for some minutes wielding the bat herself. Unfortunately she seems think screaming is a good response to anything at the moment.
They have a newish puppy who didn't know me. He barked and barked whenever he came near me. Hearing aids amplified his barks far too much. It was good to be home.
I finished my pink sock several days ago and have started the next one. Fortunately I haven't done much on it as It was moved in the bag I took to son's place and I must have pulled out a needle. I think I'll rip it back and just start over, it' only a few rows lost.
Here are my pieces of beef with prosciutto for tomorrow's Christmas family lunch. Before and after. I carefully spread the spinach, cashew and parmesan dip on the top, although I think almost any flavour would have gone with this, wrapped it in the prosciutto and fastened it at the back with toothpicks. Not really mentioned in the recipe, but it seemed to need something to hold it together.
The recipe called for a 1.5 kg fillet of beef. The larger of these pieces was 800 gm. Instead of roasting at 200° C for 45 minutes I used 190° for just barely 30 minutes. Since replacing fan element in my oven, I think it runs hotter, so I have to make adjustments.
It smelt amazing as it cooked. I'd had breakfast but enjoyed the smell of the prosciutto cooking. As I took it out of the oven to rest, a piece of crunchy broke off, all by itself (yes, really!) It was very nice. I'll let it get quite cold and decide then whether to slice it here or take it in a couple of big pieces. I think unsliced would probably make an easier journey than sliced which might fall apart if not carried carefully.
My brother usually brings a terrine, often duck, so I decided to be fancy this year. His terrines which he makes himself, are always beautiful and one year he gave us a container of duck fat for roasting vegetables. They were amazingly good. I see that Coles now sells small tubs of duck fat in the meat cabinet near where they sell duck fillets. It's really good for roasts.
I haven't made bread for some weeks now. I don't eat a lot of it and just didn't get around to getting any. I was given a loaf of a good brand as part compensation for a mix up in my fruit order and I bought a loaf from a bread shop. The good loaf was OK and the other wasn't, but I think I'm spoilt by eating homemade bread usually.
This is mostly multigrain flour with the amount made up with some strong bread flour. I added a handful or so of pepitas and it tastes very good. I had milk which needed using so that's the liquid instead of water. I glazed the top of the loaf with the last egg I had and this has given the golden shine to the bread.
While shopping yesterday I bought a container of what is really a beetroot pesto. Beetroot, cashew nuts and parmesan cheese. I had two medium thick slices of this bread, spread with the beetroot pesto. Along with some fruit, this made a pleasant lunch.
Yes, that's Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac you can see. It's the hardcover anniversary edition which has more in it than the smaller paperback edition which I also have. I bought this copy last Christmas, I think. Each time I read her work, I find more in it, or I see more clearly what she is describing.
I was wondering what to take to the family lunch at the weekend. There'll be lots of BBQ things and I wanted to avoid anything with gluten in it.
I found this recipe for beef wrapped in prosciutto in an email from the Butcherman from whom I occasionally get meat ordered. I used his business when I had the canteen. The meat is around the same price as supermarket for ordinary cuts of meat, but it's much better butchered and packed. Fancy cuts and restaurant style cuts are dear, but meat's dear anywhere these days. Have you seen the price on cutlets? Not on my shopping list anymore, I'm afraid.
I couldn't find a beef fillet near the size suggested so bought two. I'll have to be careful not to overcook them. I'll do them tomorrow and take it up as a cold meat.
After I'd bought the beef, I found a largish pork fillet. I think I would have preferred that but the other was bought. The pork was cheaper too.
I've been fiddling with my camera and trying different things. This is just a normal photo and settings but it's taken from the roof garden here. You can see how there is a garden courtyard on each floor. The roof garden is really five floors up. What you can see is the fourth floor or level 3 counting the ground floor by itself. I'm on level 2 (third level) and my front door would be in the very right hand bottom corner below this level.
There's a bit more cover on my level as the walkways across from one side to the other are covered.
Cherries are on of my favourite fruits. Unfortunately the season is just so short that they are gone while I'm still getting used to them being available. I like the variety shown here, Ron's Seedlings, big, fat, juicy and flavourful. Unfortunately their season is even shorter than the general cherry season. This year's summer is weird weather. I took these photos in early afternoon and some look as if it was dusk with very dark clouds. As always, you can see more detail by clicking to enlarge. Last night was chilly and I pulled a light cover over the bedclothes.
We are having our family get together on Sunday and it was to have been at Pearl Beach. However the forecast is for about 21° C and rain from late morning. We have changed venue to son's place for lunch. He's about ten minutes away. If it fines up, there may be a trip to the beach later. We thought about temperature, then clouds and rain and considered a cold breeze off the water so changed.
I'll be glad when this is over. We all have a good time, but it's been hard to organise this year with date changes, people changes, food preferences and so on. we started the organising in what should have been plenty of time, not this year.
I was out late last night minding grandchildren while son and DIL went to SES dinner. She has belonged for over five years now and has most of the qualifications for many types of emergency work as well as floods, fires etc. It was a strange coincidence but my silent number landline was rung early in the morning. Charities are allowed to ring private numbers. It was fundraising for SES. I said DIL belonged and my support was minding grandchildren when she was called out, sometimes for a week or more in floods up the coast or fires in Victoria and other places. She couldn't do the SES work without my contribution so I consider it as valid as financial aid.
Miss Seven whose thundery face appears a couple of posts below, has finally decided reading is fun. She read me quite a long book last night. I asked her if she'd read it before. No. She did a creditable job in working out new words and read along without a finger under the line or the lips moving as she said the words to herself, so a vast improvement.
I did some sock knitting while I was there, but jabbed myself in the finger with the point of a sharp Harmony dpns. It's OK today but a bit tender.
I have been knitting on the pink sock and am almost down to the toe but this is a more interesting photo. Clicking will enlarge it.
This truck has been broken down in the truck lane of the service station outside for over six hours now. I've glanced out many times to see a couple of men disappearing into its innards, but the truck still cannot move. A large tow truck was brought in, but not large enough. the small white car belongs to a mechanic called in to help.
I'll be watching with interest later on. This service station sells lots of fuel and has at least one delivery everyday. The problem is that the truck is parked over the covers to the underground tanks.
My son who was bashed and mugged on October 19 has been back at work for two weeks now but on reduced hours. He's been working twenty hours a week and this week that was to increase to twenty seven. He was planning two long days and three shorter.
However, he was barely at work yesterday when the police rang and asked him to come in to see if he could identify the mugger from a line up. It seems that while the police had not heard of the mugger with a skateboard when son was mugged, the fellow has been emboldened and done several more. He was finally shown on a surveillance camera.
Son went into the city feeling so churned up he could not eat even an apple for his lunch. He's fairly sure he could tell the right guy, although two were very similar. I can understand the churning stomach - mine still turns over when I see a skateboard. He was very upset and sounded dreadful when I spoke to him. The doctor gave him a certificate for two days off. He said it all came rushing back.
There's been no rain today and the next two days should be fine. However the rain is forecast to return on Sunday. It would. Lunchtime is family get together at the beach.
Rain, rain and more rain. Throw in a few thunderstorms, one at 4:00 am this morning and there's the weather for today. Thunder is still rattling around. My brother's suburb had 72 mm of rain in a few hours last night and I think we would be following that closely.
I was planning on going out to local shops but don't really need to, so why bother? The stick blender I used for yesterday's aioli is on the way out, quite rapidly I think, and I'll get a new one. Just not today. The mixer is third hand so I think it's probably done its dash.
Here's the pink plain sock. Just plain, round and round and round with little thought to anything.
The yarn is the Moda Noir from the big place no one likes much. I bought it when I was out at Penrith with Lynne to get tapestries framed. It was reduced to $2 a 100 gm ball. Who could argue with that? It's OK to knit with and will do for everyday socks. I used some of this same yarn in a small shawl last year sometime. I wasn't happy with it then as there were many spots in the black and grey mix which had no dye on them at all. This ball hasn't suffered the same way, thank goodness. As you can see, I'm well down the foot now.
I was watching the men's hockey championship from Auckland yesterday on channel 2 before dinner and got quite a lot done on the sock. I've been watching the matches all week and have seen four or five. I enjoy hockey and used to go with DIL when she played goalie in top Sydney grade matches. Men's hockey is much faster and more cut throat. although I could name some teams from the Sydney competition for whom winning was everything, regardless of how it was achieved.
Wow! It's stopped raining. That doesn't mean much, there could be another cloudburst by the time I reached the bus stop two minutes away. Think I'll wrap presents. The family get together is next weekend at Pearl Beach. Weather was supposed to be fine but week's forecast has rain now. #3 son and family live a few minutes away from the beach, so we have a backup plan.
I am not at all experienced with night photography, I think this is the second time I've tried some. However, last night I stayed up to see if I could get anything at all from the eclipse of the moon. Clicking on the photo will give a bigger picture set into a darker area which makes it easier to see.
It was a bit amazing that any moonlight could be seen at all with the cloud cover we have had lately. The first picture was taken a bit after 11:30 pm from my balcony. I don't have a proper tripod and I think that would have improved the shots as it's hard to hold the camera for time required. There was a lot of ambient light around from street lights from the highway, McDs, service station etc. There was a fair number of clouds which gave their own problems with the light.
The succeeding photos are about five minutes apart and the eclipse is nowhere near finished. However, the cloud cover was beginning to drift over the moon and I was getting cold on the balcony, so I gave in and went to bed.
I've made mayonnaise before and while it's fiddly, the taste is superb. Today I added garlic to the mix and turned it into aioli. Very nice it is too. Just as well it's fiddly to make. I could eat a lot of it but make it only a couple of times each summer. If I buy mayo, I buy the Thomy egg type. A jar lasts quite a long time, but this is much nicer than even the dearer supermarket brands.
Two or three egg yolks. I used three.
tablespoon or so of lemon juice. I used a quarter of a large juicy fresh lemon I had already cut in fridge.
pepper and salt to taste.
a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard. I used a heaped teaspoon but that was what came out on the spoon.
finely chopped garlic. I used three small cloves.
1 cup of olive oil or a mix of olive and other oil to lighten the taste.
Put everything EXCEPT the oil into a container, deeper rather than flatter makes it easier to mix. Mix with hand mixer or whisk etc thoroughly till very well blended.
Very gradually, no more than a teaspoonful at a time to begin with, add the oil. Beat very well till blended. If you put too much in, especially at the beginning, it won't emulsify but will sit separate as a layer to the other ingredients. Keep doing this till oil is all added and well blended and mixture has thickened.
I had some rye mountain bread. I used two pieces of this each spread with aioli. A slice of ham and some salad stuff. Roll up each bit and enjoy. Finished off with some cherries in the sun.
Just in time too. Sun has now gone, it's too dark to read without a light and the rain is pouring again. There's thunder around too.
I'm actually knitting a sock. A sock! Will take photos tomorrow or when light is better. Apart from a couple of pairs of baby socks, I haven't done a sock for a long time. Just plain sock. round and round, no real effort or thought going into it. I'm well down the leg on the first sock now.
My calendar popped up the reminder that it's been four years since I walked out and left my husband. He had actually told me some time before that he considered himself no longer married to me as "I wasn't the person he was supposed to have married." Much twisted thinking went into that. Eventually, that and abuse and infidelities got just too much for me to cope with and I left.
Right on Christmas, it was hard to cope with everything, and I spent a lot of time knitting and trying to get myself back together. I knitted fourteen (I think) pairs of socks in the souther Summer of Socks challenge in the weeks leading up to leaving. Very soothing, no brain knitting.
I spent the next year settling down and started seeing a lawyer after that. He was very good but took some months off to deal with a major tragedy in his family. Things were finalised last year and my house was sold, although the settlement did not come through till February this year. I bought this place and have now been here eight months. Now I live by myself for the first time in my life and have had to make a lot of adjustments. I'm trying to be always tidy and to put things back immediately I have finished with them. I know that's easy for some, but I'm not that sort. However, if I make the mess, who else is there except me to clean it. Put my keys in the same spot and don't go outside without keys and phone. Eat properly at the right time. All things which are just plain sensible and good for my health, safety and mental well being.
So what does the nativity scene have to do with all this and the anniversary? My husband did not approve of such things, he seemed to think they were superstitious or something like that, so I never had one. He had a violent temper and I wasn't going to risk anything by provoking him. I bought this last year but this is the first time I've put it up in my own little place. It's missing some of the more traditional characters that some sets have, but I like it and the curves and colours.
The little angel on the right obviously is not part of the set. She was perhaps the last thing my mum bought for me and on the box she had written, "For your Christmases to come." Mum was amazing with presents. She loved giving things away and spent a lot of time searching for exactly what she wanted. Right up to the day she died just before her 90th birthday she could tell you all the birthdays in that particular month and what she had bought. This was not only for immediate family but grandchildren and great grandchildren, a large circle of friends and all their children and great grandchildren whom she treated as if they were her own family. This little angel is handmade.
After the Christmas when she gave me this, she had a fall and a stroke along with a couple of other nasty illnesses. Much to her disgust, she entered a nursing home as she needed care we could not give. She needs two people to support her standing as otherwise she crumpled to the floor. Six months later, she had a major stroke and never regained consciousness, and died some eighteen hours later.
So lots of thoughts have been running through my mind these last few days.
Well yes, definitely a page from grandma's brag book today, but why have a book and not brag? LOL
Youngest granddaughter who is Year 1 won an award for the number of awards she's won through the year! I hope this is an encouragement to her. As the youngest in the family, she coasts a bit, knowing that her elder sister may well pick up the slack for her. She's not inclined to exert herself either for much the same reason. However her teacher seems to manage her quite well.
Here she is on Grandparents' Day at her school. Miss Seven has a temper and has been known to throw the occasional tantrum. This is in her class presentation an hour after her father took her iPod Shuffle from the collection of treasures she had put on display in the classroom. Pupils had to bring things from home in a small container which showed something of themselves to others. Well the iPod Shuffle definitely does that, but taking it to school without permission was not a wise thing to do. It would have been stolen as all the displays were easily accessible to anybody in the room. School, BTW, does not allow such things to be brought.
So I hope the award gives her an incentive for next year's schoolwork. She's quite bright and well capable of excelling at whatever she has to do, not just the things she wants to do. The happier photo was taken at my birthday party in August.
This is Master Six screwing up his nose at the camera. He's a funny little boy with his father's quirky sense of humour. Loves the Goons, Dr Who and similar. This was taken in August, also at my party, but somewhat earlier in the morning. He's the one who believes large spiders have nine legs as I detailed a few posts ago. The ninth is to support their head.
School has been good to him and he's at the end of the Kindergarten year. This time last year he was determined he wasn't ever going to school as his sister, five years older, had told him that "they" would give him homework and he'd be in big trouble if he didn't do it. He used to be easily annoyed and was frustrated. I think much of this stemmed from his then poor speech. Family could usually get what he was saying but not always and frustration at not being understood would cause major behavioural problems.
A year of speech therapy before school helped enormously. He settled in to school quickly and his last report was very good. He's reading well and improving every week and his maths skills are good. Even better, his report said he was the most popular person in class as he was kind and helpful to his classmates, a far cry from earlier times when other young ones could not understand him and shunned him. There is a big certificate on the fridge at his place for having 35 "excellents" in a row and a certificate for participation in the Premier's reading scheme.
His dad, my son, rang yesterday. Finn had an Awards Day yesterday and received the prize for Citizenship in the whole of the Infants School. This carried a book voucher from Dymocks books and a voucher for KFC. So they celebrated last night at KFC. Son, a very god cook, grudgingly admitted it was edible. They hardly ever eat at places like that so it was a real celebration for young Finn who will happily boast today at school, I imagine. Good to be part of the gang, I suppose.
So grandma's brag book is filling up.
Edited to add:
I've just had an SMS from my son to say that Finn's big sister, finishing 5th class has also won the Citizenship Award. Primary School Awards day is today so parents have had to backup school attendance. I wonder if son can back up for KFC again tonight?
Here she is with the two kittens, Monty on the left and Python on the right. She has a good command of language and is quite bright all round. However, right at the moment it is not cool to show intelligence. I hope she gets over that!
This is the girl who jumped on my neck when I was minding her before she was three. At the time, I had a headache from, stiff shoulder and neck muscles and was not very happy when she took a leap from teh stairs behind the lounge onto my shoulders. Her comment, and remember she wasn't three at the time, "You not a happy chappy today, Grandma!"
I hope my parcel to England has a first class seat all to itself and the best of service from plane staff. It can forego any food or drink but should be tucked in neatly. It ought to. I was astounded at the cost. The small vest shown in the previous entry. I have washed and blocked it, a small book and a small light shawl for the baby's mum. All in a padded envelope. Cost was over $30!
It was not really heavy nor large. I have long associated expensive postage with the USA but I thought this was somewhat steep.
The hooded vest from Jussi is finished. Ta da! Well, I still need to find some buttons for each side from my stash, and it very definitely needs a washing and blocking, but I have woven in the ends.
I'm not going out again today and it won't be dry, but I'll send this on its way to a long awaited and joyfully received little boy in England on Monday. After many miscarriages and other unpleasant things, little Richard Charles stayed full term and is now five days old.
I have bought Jackie French's book, Diary of a Wombat, to accompany the little vest. Something from downunder.
I chose a good day to go shopping today. As I said, I have been replacing well worn and fairly worn out items of clothing. I went into Target today and they had 20% off tops and underwear. I found a good everyday top on special and then less 20% so put that in my trolley. Thought of Cindy as it's a pleasant green. Walked around a bit further and five bras in pretty colours, my size and preferred style, fell into the trolley too. Much needed and I'll happily throw out most of what's in the drawer with worn out elastic and droopy straps. That caps off a good week. I was in Woolworths at the beginning of the week and they had Bonds branded underwear, two to a pack, reduced to $4.40 a pack. I bought several packs. Reduced from $14 and all I could see was that the packs were a bit dusty. Woman at checkout said she'd found them too and bought several packs. All sizes just thrown into a trolley near Christmas things.