Monday, November 29, 2010

Offline again

G'day mates,

We're going on vacation tomorrow and until Sunday. We'll be in Cairns, Queensland. It is almost all the way north and very close to the Great Barrier Reef National Park.

I haven't been to the beach much in Australia since we're still "settling in" and we try to make our weekends more productive than relaxing, so I'm really looking forward to this.

I found a casual job at a cupcake shop. Don't get too excited it is nothing glamourous, in fact there is a really stupid hat and lots of cleaning involved. I am still looking for a more serious job but it is a tough time of year around christmas, there's very little hiring they tell me. But I also got tired of sitting at home so it's nice to get out every once in a while and earn a little moolah. I will also be volunteering at our local food cooperative starting next week.

But enough about work, I need to pack for the beach.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What day is it?!

Get ready for another ranting post.

This week went by in a blink!!! We spent last weekend in lovely Melbourne and after we got back I went to take a nap and woke up on Friday. It is Friday already!!?!? Basically I missed out on free movie Wednesdays and on Thanksgiving.

Would it be ok to just eat too much just like any other day of the year to make up for it?

This week I have been unpacking more and more of our clothes and it has me feeling aweful about it. Normally I have a rule about clothes and that is if I haven't worn in one year, it goes to the donation bin, this keeps my closet updated and uncluttered. But then I have clothes that I keep to wear only once a year, or under very special circumstances. Like the "paint-tshirt", do you have one too? An old raggedy shirt you are saving for that day when you get up and feel like painting a room or a piece of furniture? Yeah right...

I also have a few "beach-tops", even though until now I hadn't lived near a coast for 7 years... And let's not forget the "pj-tshirts" which are a stack of ugly, yet comfortable and publicly appropriate shirts that I keep in case I sleep over at a friend's house while traveling. WHAT?! Yes, I am ridiculous and irresponsible and until I write it down it won't be fixed, so I am writing it down now. I am going to sell and donate a bunch of clothing items that I paid a lot of money to have shipped overseas. I wonder how much paint shirts sell for these days...

Do you guys also have clothes you save for specific random purposes?

Also I got this treasure in the mail today...

Now, is that what you call a wise marketing decision?

(Probably since now she got free publicity on my blog...)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Traveling with Quantas

Most airlines: "We will be serving refreshments in a few moments"

Quantas airlines: "We will be serving morning tea in a few moments"

Checking the emergency procedures on Quantas Boeing 767 aircraft:

Please refrain from using cel phones, beepers, other kinds of radio transmitters and gremlins.

We sure hope you enjoy the oxygen mask in case of cabin loss of pressurization.

"weeeeeeee oxygen masks! lol!"

Children sized life vests are available in case of an emergency water landing. By emergency water landing we mean water play time. Also available for children are water guns, floaties and trained dolphins.

"Mommy can I keep my vest in heaven? - Yes you can Timmy, now go play with the nice sharkies"

Always have an optimistic attitude when faced with death!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weird dreams series #67

I dreamed I was falling through a seemingly bottomless dark abyss and there were cupcakes all around me. Finally I saw the bottom and realized it consisted of sharp rock, stalagmites and more cupcakes.

Right before dying a sweet death I woke up in a jolt, then wiped off all the buttercream and cake crumbs off my face and onto the pillow. Took one last gulp of cherry chocolate ice cream milkshake and went back to sleep.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Garden update...

Harvest day!

I know what you are thinking: daaaaaaaaannnnnng guuurl!

The coriander grows insanely fast, followed by the lemon thyme, the parsley and the basil. The rosemary is lagging way behind, it honestly grows a bit too slow.

My herbs are alive! All of them in fact! they are alive AND delicious, to the point that the pests love them too!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was freaking out in my last garden post. I spoke to some garden avid friends and also went to my local nursery to discuss the matter of pests. The inevitable truth of the matter is, if you have delicious leaves growing outdoors, somebody is going to want to eat them. I just need to be on top of my garden to control the spreading of pests so I get to eat the herbs before they do!

Each herb has a different loving critter. White flies love my coriander and basil, aphids (the tiny green ones I spoke of before) are fans of the parsley, there are teeny little light brown worms (unidentified as of yet) who feast on the lemon thyme and fortunately the rosemary hasn't had any pests so far.

I am now using 2 products on the garden: the first is the extract of the pyrenthrum daisy, in spray form, which has been used as a pesticide for centuries. This controls all of my present pests and it works quite well, they start dropping dead and becoming compost within 10 minutes of spraying. The extract of the daisy is not meant for human consumption, and the manufacturer recommends not to harvest the day after spraying. Therefore I usually spray immediately *after* harvesting (about once a week). Alternatively you can also plant the pyrenthrum plant around and in between your plants and this will keep pests off, but the nursery didn't have those seeds, just the spray.

The second product I am successfully using is an eco-fungicide whose active ingredient is potassium bicarbonate. This is to treat and prevent powdery mildew and other forms of fungus (which you may not readily see on the ground, but can live attached to the roots or cause discoloration of the leaves). The fungicide comes in powder form and I dissolve about a teaspoon in 1 litre of water and spray it once a week (on a dry day). The fungus sometimes originates from overwatering, too much humidity and not enough air flow. I always let the ground dry completely before watering my plants again, but if your plants are outdoors and potted like mine, you simply cannot protect them from rain.

{harvesting your herbs}

Using some sturdy scissors cut the coriander and parsley at the base of the stem. More stems will grow from the ground up. The thyme and rosemary should be cut at the base of that branch, as more leaves/branches will branch off at random places. The basil grows strikingly like a binary tree, from each leaf two more will grow. Thus it is best to cut it at the base of the leave.

{storing and eating}

I soak my herbs in water for at least 20 minutes to make sure all uninvited guests will drown. Then I carefully inspect each leave and stem and in batches give them a couple of spins and rinses using a salad spinner.

The best way to store herbs in the fridge is wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a ziploc bag or tupperware. I read that you can freeze them for up to 3 months as well, and if you would like to dry them, it is best to do that right before the plants are blooming, when they are at their richest in delicious natural oils. I think I will try to do that when the time comes.

This post was very wordy and less picturesque, but I hope it was at least interesting and useful to someone out there...

Friday, November 12, 2010

1960's chest revisited

Remember my Italian treasure chest?

Pretty much everyone agreed that the old paper inside had to go, and go it did!

It took me a while, and it is FAR from perfect, in fact it was really awkward to cut and glue at times, and for some parts I ended up using many pieces of paper to cover a single area... I didn't want to do a DIY on this precisely because I sucked at it so much, I'm the one who needs a DIY!

One thing I can say is that it smelled... well... like it was 50 years old. You know that old musty grandparent house smell? Yeah, well it took about 6 sprays of Febreze (the Aussie version anyway, it's called Oust) to get rid of it, always letting it dry completely between sprays.

Hope you like it.

Have a nice weekend!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More cupcakes!

We are attending a barbecue tonight which will also be attended by lots of men. And since there aren't a lot of men out there who appreciate vegetables, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a couple of salads. I made a lot in hopes that there will be left overs and then I can eat them for the rest of the week... But who wants to read about salads anyway, let's talk dessert!!!

I also really wanted to make some cupcakes for tonight because... well who needs a reason for cupcakes?

These are chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting. The original recipe is completely vegan, but with mine I used real butter and cream cheese in the frosting instead of vegan substitutes.

Also just wanted to mention that using cream cheese makes the frosting super creamy and requires half the sugar than traditional recipes = creamier and not so overly sweet!

Check out my new carrying case, it holds up to 24 cupcakes. More goodness for everyone.

And on a side note, I was in a rotten mood last Tuesday and was super rude to my boyfriend and everyone who got on my way. Instead of getting angry M got me this:

Best. Boyfriend. Ever.

Monday, November 8, 2010

DIY cake stand

I saw this DIY on a different blog, but for the life of me I can't remember which one. I looked it up and it is actually a semi popular DIY, so no ground breaking techniques here.

What you will need:
  • A plate (any plate you like, mine was $0.50 from a thrift store)
  • A candle holder (any candle holder you like, mine was $0.50 from the same place)
  • Strong glue: I recommend super glue or epoxy
Clean your plate and candle holder and make sure they are dry.

Apply glue according to directions (fast if you can, since it will dry quickly) on the edge where both items will come together. Place the plate on top of the candle holder and apply some pressure. Best it is when you place a heavy book or cutting board on top and leave it for 30 minutes while it dries.


By the way we finally got our shipment from Zurich and I was able to retrieve all of my bakeware. Of course I immediately had to make cupcakes to display the cake stand in use. 

These are peach bourbon cupcakes (recipe here) and in my humble opinion they are scrumptious. The perfect hint of bourbon and peaches all in one. The recipe was for 12 cupcakes but my cups were a bit bigger than the norm so only 8 came out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

garden help!

So my herbs are growing at an excellent rate, and I have even enjoyed some basil and thyme already but now I have a problem :-(

There is a funny white mould or mildew growing under the parsley, but only under this one, the other herbs are fine.

What is worse, there are pests on the parsley too, teeny weeny little green guys. I don't even know if they move, but they are there.

This was a short lived success...

Edit: yes, I did look online already and it could be a number of things... I think I'll go to the nursery again and ask for help.