Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Minor Victory, on the Pug Front

Every day this week I have got an email at work from Mr Mel (works from home) along the lines of "the pug's in the bad books again, he's #*#* on the concrete".

To explain, the pug doesn't like getting his feet wet, so when it rains, which it's done all week, he won't cross the wet grass to get to the palm tree to use the amenities so to speak, he just relieves himself on the concrete in front of the garage, under carport roof.

By the time I've got home I'm faced with one annoyed Mr Mel, and a pug very happy to see me, who doesn't get why Mr Mel won't come play like usual.

I asked Mr Mel if he'd done the 'angry voice' with the pug to let him know it's not a game, and that he should be doing his business up the back where he knows he should. Mr Mel has been reassuring me he has been, but with the pug being my dog originally, and Mr Mel not being a dog person till he met the pug, I had my doubts.

So last night I got home to same situation, I stormed out the back, grabbed the pug by scruff of neck, walked him up to the evidence, pointed at it and said 'naughty naughty dog' in a really growly voice, the pug absolutely hates that voice and whenever you say naughty like that to him his ears drop, and he looks sheepish, he knows he's in trouble.

So I gave him a few naughty dogs (after he tried jumping on me wanting to play after not seeing me all day), and closed the curtains so he couldn't see us.

Later in the night, we've opened the curtains again, and there goes Mr Pug, off his bed, crossing the wet grass, up to the palm tree, and does his business.

So I have a bit smile, turn to Mr Mel saying 'woohoo', his response? 'Bleeping little bleeper wouldn't listen to me would he', then he started smiling, so I think under the male ego hit, he's enjoying our minor victory.  
Butter wouldn't melt!
Till next time,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have I Said How Much I Hate BAS?

I don't think I have, so I'll say it again I HATE BAS, HATE HATE HATE IT.

The worse thing of running a business, especially a small business, is all the paperwork, it is just depressing.

I work full-time, and Mr Mel & I have a business that we both work at/in (home based), his working it full-time, I'm doing it whenever I can. I'm also in charge of the paperwork side of it, the evil MYOB & more evil BAS.

I usually work around a 9.5 - 10 hour day at work, and when I get home don't really feel like getting stuck into spreadsheets, MYOB, tax, filing etc, so inevitably I end up a couple of days out from BAS deadline, running around like a headless chook.

So needless to say tomorrow 28 July is the deadline for the next BAS, and I'm one headless chook.

Ahhhhhhh, at least it'll be over soon, for another couple of months!!

I've promised myself, and made Mr Mel keep me to it, that over the next 2 months I'll get caught up on all the paperwork, so next BAS isn't so bleeding painful!

We shall see.
Till next time,

Update 28th July - I finished the BAS last night around 10pm, after 2 coffees, a bit of foul language, and some unappreciated laughing from Mr Mel!!   Till next time we meet evil Bas.........

Monday, July 26, 2010

Easy As Pumpkin Soup

Since meeting Mr Mel back in 2005, I have had to listen to his constant running down of the majestic pumpkin. Until he ran into my Easy As Pumpkin Soup......

My favourite is the Kent, probably because I grew up on it, our meals as kids were meat (generally chops), with potato, pumpkin & peas. Because both of my parents worked, I was the vegie prepper, and I loved it, I still love chopping/prepping food for cooking.  I would battle with the biggest knife we had (yes not the safest thing to do as a 10 year old on her own with younger sister), and would carve pieces from the whole Kent pumpkin. 

Kent Pumpkin, aka Jap Pumpkin

On Sunday morning we were up and at it doing some household chores, I was washing clothes, Mr Mel washing cars, Mr Mel called out what do you wanna do for dinner. I couldn't be bothered getting dressed more than I was, to go out, so searched through the kitchen. Sitting in the fridge was 1/2 a Kent pumpkin, and in the freezer some left over home made sweet potato chips, and some sourdough rolls from a few weeks back.  So I thought pumpkin soup, this was at around 11am, by 12pm we were sitting down having a delicious lunch, sooooo easy.

My recipe is:

  • 1/2 peeled and chopped Kent pumpkin (about 3cm cubes)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & chopped as per pumpkin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ricebran or grapeseed oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock

- in a large saucepan, sweat onion, with garlic, mustard seeds & curry powder in grapeseed or rice bran oil, just till really starts to smell yummy, no colour
- add pumpkin, sweet potato & stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 mins
scoop out all the pumpkin & onion with a slotted spoon into food processor
add a couple of ladels of left over stock from saucepan (tip out the rest, or freeze to use again later)
blitz in processor till smooth
pour processor mix back into saucepan
- on low heat, add 1/2 tub (I think it's about 125ml) cream, grate about a 2 teaspoons of nutmeg, add salt and pepper to taste, not too much cause add it in when serving too, mix it all together
- once all mixed and warmed through serve, with a crack of black pepper over the top, and a spoon full of sour cream if you like, we've had it with and without
- next day might need to add a bit of water/milk to thin it out, but not much, I like it thick, but depends on taste

I put my faith in the pumpkin and am pleased to report that my pumpkin soup has become a favourite of Mr Mel's, I've even got him eating pumpkin risotto, enjoying caramelised roast pumpkin, and sharing a pumpkin & goats cheese salad with me when we head out for dinner.

Conversion complete :-)

I've also made a lovely pumpkin soup grating then sweating the pumpkin, but this ones alot quicker.

Till next time,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can We Do It - Update 3

The third of my monthly updates on our 'Can We Do It' goals/challenges:
We bought our home in July 2009, settlement was 13 July 2009, so we're just passed our 1st year anniversary :)  We're aiming to have our mortgage paid off in 7 years from starting out, which would make it July 2016.

Start of mortgage - 13 July 2009
As at today (23 July 2010) - mortgage reduced by $110,103
% of home owned - 52.38%

We locked away our redraw so we can't redraw it, and had our minimum recalculated, so we'll be paying more off the principal each week. If we can continue on the track we're on with the mortgage, even allowing for a year or 2 of 1/2 wage for me (hopefully with kiddies), we should meet or beat our 7 year deadline.  

Other debt
Our total non mortgage debt includes a car loan (as part of mortgage package, at same interest rate), and a VISA we've since closed.

Start of car loan - 10 May 2010
As at today (23 Jule 2010) - reduced by $580.62
% of car owned - 3.52%

Start of VISA - 1 Dec 2009
As at today (23 July 2010) - reduced by $3,961
% of VISA paid - 80.50%

Total non mortgage debt (May 2010) - $15,633
As at today (23 July 2010) - reduced by $4,541.62
% of debt paid - 29.05%

My weight covers a few areas, getting healthy & fit, getting my body in the right place to conceive (and fit in a near 'normal' wedding dress!!). I am easily distracted from weightloss, so hoping this blog can keep me on the straight & narrow!! C'mon me, you can do it!!  We've been talking wedding options over the past few weeks (even though Mr Mel hasn't proposed yet!!!! don't get me started!), so have to keep on keeping on!!

Weight loss as at 1st March 2010 - 0kg 
Weight as at 23 July 2010 - 8.6kg 
% of goal weight loss achieved - 15%

At end of financial year, our business is actually going better than expected, equates to about .6 of Mr Mel's previous wage, which we're happy with after our first year, when Mr Mel only started working on it full time from mid Feb this year. We have some plans and ideas, so looking forward to implementing and/or researching further in the 2010/11 FY.

Mr Mel has picked up a bit of extra work, he's very happy, and quite busy, the .6 of previous wage is creeping up :)

Till next time,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sydney Good Food & Wine Show

Mr Mel and I gave ourselves a long weekend, and headed to Sydney on Friday for the Good Food & Wine Show at the Exhibition Building on Darling Harbour (16-18 July, 2010).
We left home at about 6.45am and got there at around 9.30am, it had a 10.00am start, luckily I had booked our tickets online, so didn't have to line up with the hundreds wanting to buy at the door.

I booked us in to see Gary & George from Masterchef at 10.30am, and they were great. So much more personality than on the TV. Unfortunately they had a late start, and I think we got a bit of a condensed show, we saw Aaron from Masterchef in the wings before the show, however he didn't come on stage.

Last year we saw them and Matt plus Poh and a few other contestants came on stage, was a shame they didn't do the same this year, but still very enjoyable. And yes I have a slight crush on Georgie Porgie :-)

After the show we headed to the other end of the hall, to try and dodge the crowd of sheep filing out of the auditorium, up here for thinking :)

The highlights for us:

  • going toe to toe with Hamish from Otway Estate Brewery, I'm from Warrnambool, close to where their brewery is, they say they're based at Barangarook, but it's really Colac, and everyone knows you only go through Colac to get to Warrnambool!  It was an amusing stoush, Mr Mel was shaking his head, in between laughing.  The beers were ok, Mr Mel thought they were a bit light, but I didn't mind them.
  • some gorgeous & different sausages from Market Town Family Meats
  • a surprisingly tasty chicken & bacon risotto made in a rice cooker with a McCormick mix
  • Baileys coffee, 3 samples later tasted even better, yummo
  • Petersons Champagne House, I'm a member but always have a tasting when out, great staff, great bubbles
  • Birch & Waite mayo, bleeping beautiful stuff, and the girls were helpful, not pushy
  • Honey from Beechworth Honey, I love honey, after tasting everything (about 10 versions) we went home with a fig & ginger creamed honey and a blackberry honey, delish
  • Bondi Chai Latte, we loved it last year at the show, loved and bought some again
Things didn't really enjoy:

  • people space cadetting it while dragging trolleys, people don't you realise you take up triple the room when you drag your trolley at arms length???
  • weird English guy flogging brooms, he seriously looked like they'd got him off the street in London and shoved the broom in his hand
  • Super Shammy - enough with the Americans flogging these, sooooo sick of them, even if they're Super Amazing Buy 1 get 12 free Shammys
  • Playboy Energy Drink - what the?  lots of 8 - 15 year old boys lining up to get their photos taken with the bunnies, by their mums no less!

Last year we met Ben O'Donohue, and got to taste Manu's (drool) spelt risotto, we didn't see any celebs in the hall area this year.

Not sure if we'll go again next year, we'll maybe give it a year off, then do it again in 2012.

Till next time,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hello Bright Sparkly Gorgeousness Thing

After 18 years driving old cars (my cars 1991 - bought a 1980 car, 1994 - bought a 1987 car, 1999 - bought a 1992 car, 2004 bought a 1996 car), I, well we have bitten the bullet and bought a new car.

At this stage I'm calling him/her 'Bright Sparkly Gorgeousness Thing', I'm sure we'll shorten that quickly :)

We bought a 2007 car in April, and got an excellent deal on it ($5k under what current listed for on Carsales & Redbook), so when my 1996 Mazda blew a radiator ($600), then blew a water pump ($700), then blew something else enginey (we didn't get fixed), we thought that'll do, and decided to get rid of it and get a 'new' 2nd car.

Little did we know a few weeks later did we know that 'new' 2nd car would actually be a New 2nd car :-)

We sold the Mazda through Gumtree, I listed it last Wednesday, warts and all, said needs mechanical repairs, etc etc, and low and behold 9am Sunday we got a call, they came to inspect at 11am and we were waving the Mazda goodbye at about 11.30!

We went round to the local dealers, we'd done the same a few weeks ago, and had put together a list of options. We've been researching madly, speaking to friends in 'the business', and came to realise that a new car isn't as awful as we'd always thought.

We ended up with a Hyundai i30, we got a 2 litre one for the price of a 1.6 litre, and negotiated a discount off that, plus got tinted windows & metallic paint thrown in. It has a 5 year unlimited km warranty, plus an additional 3 year dealer warranty.

It's got room in the boot for a pram & shopping (for the near future hopefully!), and NRMA rated it the best car under $30,000 in 2008 & 2009, plus it has a high safety rating. So while we said we'd never ever buy a new car, we have. Our offset has taken a bit of a hit, but we're happy with our decision :-)

Here's Mr/Ms Bright Sparkly Gorgeousness

Till next time,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy Birthday House :)

It's amazing how time flies, it's 12 months today that we settled on our home. We put the offer in on 7th April 2009, and due to issues with an unapproved extension that had to go through council approval before we didn't end up settling until 13 July.

During those 3 months I stalked the local council website, they listed DA's on their site, and drove by the house at least every 2nd day or so, just to make sure they were looking after it :-)

This Saturday, 17th July, will be 12 months since we moved in, and we have a bottle of our favourite bubbles Dolce Per Tutti from Petersons Champagne House, to toast our first House birthday/anniversary. We bought 2 bottles in Jan 2009, cracked the first one on our verandah the day we moved in, and will be repeating the dose this Saturday :-)

We have made a few improvements since moving in, we've replaced the fan & lights in kitchen, had an island bench, with stone benchtop, made for the kitchen, and have redesigned the back yard.

Over the past year hopefully we'll be able to get a built in wardrobe put into the 2nd bedroom, repaint that room, get a dishwasher, and redo the front garden.

Till next time,

For any Pug Owners/Lovers

For anyone who reads and doesn't know, Mr Mel & I have a pug, well I had him before Mr Mel came along, but the pug has happily adopted Mr Mel, which was lucky!

This is Mr Pug

Whenever I need a smile/giggle I go to one of my fave Youtube clips, Odie the pug who says I Wuv You on the Montel Show, it's sooo gorgeous, and soooo typically pug you just have to love it, so for anyone who's not enjoyed Odie, here he is Odie on Youtube.

Till next time,

Friday, July 9, 2010


Back over the June long weekend, the Hunter Valley Gardens held 
Of course with Mr Mel & I being a little bit foodie, we had to go.

We sat at the stage and watched a cooking demo by Chris Cranswick-Smith of Emmilou Tapas in Surry Hills, and Janelle Bloom of Ready Steady Cook, it was a good show, but for the life of me I can't remember what Chris cooked, he was miked up and all I remember his him dropping the 'C' bomb when he couldn't get one of the items on the plate. Everyone in the crowd sort of looked at each other, saying 'did he really say that', I don't think Chris even realised he had, but I'm sure he does now, as his wife was sitting in the front row!

Following that piece of stellar entertainment we :

  • sat in on a Beer & BBQ matching class from James Squire, beer was a bit strong for me but Mr Mel loved it
  • lined up for 1/2 an hour for a bratwurst that was magnificent.
  • tucked into some beautifully savoury Peruvian sweet potato donuts.
  • tasted lots of dips/sauces/jams/tapenades/dukkas/honeys/olive oils.
  • fell in love with lemon myrtle cheesecake, sooooo delish, we bought some of the lemon myrtle powder
  • sat on the grass with a Ethica coffee listening to Irish folk music.
  • tasted about 12 different wines, most we'd tasted before, but never pass up free wine :)

the main stage, where Chris dropped the C bomb!
about 5 mins before he dropped it!
Delicious Peruvian Sweet Potato Donuts
James Squire Beer & Barbee demo
The chilli kransky was temporarily sold out, we went with the bratwurst, delish

After we'd eaten and drank our fill we walked around the Hunter Valley Gardens, the odd thing was it usually costs $25 to get into the Gardens, Flavourfest was $23.50, with full access to the Gardens!

Some pics below from around the gardens.

All in all a terrific day, and we'll go back next year.

Looking forward to the Chocolate Festival in early August!

Till next time,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Masterchef Mushroom Risotto - our attempt

Yes Mr Mel & I are Masterchef tragics, we watch it every night and cook things that catch our eyes. We've tried the pumpkin risotto from Season 1 (delish), and this season: Frangipane Tart (lovely but I'm proving to be pastry challenged), Pork Ribs (finger licking good).

Last weekend we tried our hands at one of the Master Class recipes, George's Risotto with Wild Mushrooms & Mushroom Powder, altho we didn't make the mushroom powder.

Here in our small country town the mushroom selection isn't huge, altho since Masterchef came along, have noticed alot more range in the fresh produce. The recipe asked for :

Slippery Jacks - we replaced with Swiss Brown

Pine Mushrooms - we replaced with big field mushies
Swiss Brown - we had, yay
Nameko - replaced with Buttons
Oyster - replaced with Shitake
Enoki - we had

We also made the mushie stock from scratch, we had to replace the Madeira (noone in town stocks it) with a liqueur Verdelho we had. The stock was really intense after it was reduced, very strong flavour, but I think it was worth the effort, plus I've never made stock before, so it was good to do it. We've frozen the left over to use with couscous/polenta.

We didn't have Carnaroli rice, so substituted with Arborio.

I really enjoy the process of risotto, it's good meditating time, just adding stock, agitating away for an hour or so.

The risotto was lovely and creamy, with a good gutsy flavour, the mushrooms for the most part were very tasty. Have to say the Enoki mushrooms were nothing special, if anything they were a negative in the dish, found their texture offputting, and their flavour wasn't anything to write home about.

Next time I'd definitely use less butter, G & G seem to love it, the mushies were swimming

Both Mr Mel & I agreed, we liked the pumpkin one better, we wouldn't rush back to cook this one again, but I liked the stock, so will probably make that again.

Oh and we had a go at making Scones too, the less said about that the better (think flat little round bread rolls!)

Till next time,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rockwiz - Newcastle show

Now before any fans of the terrific show Rockwiz get too excited, my camera was having issues and our seats were closer to the back than the front, so my one measly photo is quite pathetic, but it kind of gives you the vibe :)
Mr Mel & I are big fans of Rockwiz, yes Mr Mel has a crush on Julia, but hey I can't blame him, she rocks!

Back in early April we went along to the Rockwiz tour show at Newcastle.

Guests were Adalita from Magic Dirt, Angry Anderson, John Paul Young, Megan Washington.  Instead of the normal 2 celebs, there were 2 teams of 2 celebs, and they did half the show each, then all came back at the end for a song.

One of the audience who got on stage was a singing teacher, she was brilliant, stole the spotlight, another guy was a classic, tone deaf, but sang his heart out, albeit looking at the floor!

The spontaneity of the gags/humour/general flow was brilliant, we were laughing our heads off and singing along, was a terrific night. Everyone in the crowd were just so into the scene and music, the massive stadium had quite an intimate feel.

Julia, Brian and the Rockwiz crew sang one of my fave songs 'Come On Up To The House', was spine tingling, loved it.

All in all a huge thumbs up for the show, I hope they do it again soon!

Till next time,

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mmmmm blackberries - update 6th July with photos

One of the blogs/sites I regularly visit is The Pioneer Woman, I long to one day have a property where we can raise kids and livestock, and I can spend alot more time on things I love, rather than working the 55+ hours a week I do at my job, where I end up squeezing in the things I love in the time left over.

Don't get me wrong I love my job (for the most part), but I do long for a simpler or should I say less job focussed life.

Anyway I digress, I was just looking at Ree's site, and on the right there is a lipsmacking photo of blackberry iceream being made.

Now while I admit to having quite a few weaknesses on the food front (remember I'm a tad over 'ideal' weight!!), I have an absolute obsession with blackberries.

I grew up in country Victoria, we had blackberry bushes on our lane, my sister and I would regularly come home from picking berries for mums jam with 1/2 a bucket and purple faces/tongues/hair (yes I was an albino child).

On the property Mr Mel and I will one day own, I will be planting some blackberry bushes, sure some call them pests/weeds, but I'll have none of it, they are delicious little bursts of goodness.

So the point of this post? On the Pioneer Woman site I've just found a recipe I will be making this weekend:

Blackberry Cobbler
- it just looks divine, sure it won't help me with my 'Can We Do It' weight loss, but bugger it, I'm making and enjoying it this weekend :)

Not sure if I can post pics from the PW site, so here's a gratuitous shot of some gorgeously scrumptious blackberries.

I shall be back with photos & review :)

Update 6th July - Well I made the blackberry cobbler, only problem there were no fresh blackberries so I remembered I had a couple of bags of blackberries in the freezer, only to find when I was ready to start cooking, they are mixed berries, oops!

The recipe was ultra easy, I think using the still frozen berries was a bit of a mistake, they didn't sit up high in the batter like in the recipe photos, and sort of mushed and sunk to the bottom while cooking, so my photos look nothing like Pioneer Womans!

I whipped up some cream (yes not great for my weight loss challenge I know), and it was delicious, had a lovely crunchy top due to the sprinkle of raw sugar, and the sponge was tasty, as you'll see from the photos it didn't 'plate up' very appetising, but looks were deceiving!

I have printed the recipe and it's made it to our 'folder of stuff we like'  :-)

The cobbler ready to go in the oven, note the clumps of frozen blue/black/rasp/berries, I think they were the main issue with the end result looking a bit odd, and being a tad messy to serve.
The cobbler fresh out of the oven, it should have had little blackberries poking through all over, but they sort of mushed into the middle and bottom, still tasted lovely!
I actually liked the end look, found it quite organic looking, like a landscape :) A closeup of the centre.
And served up for a special treat for DP & I, the cream took forever to whip, but was worth it!

Thanks Ree, your recipe was delish :)

Till next time,


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