Sunday, April 28, 2013

Picnic in our MG today, Tallowa Dam, Kangaroo Valley

My aim for this year is to do new things, go places I have never been before, to mix it up and not spend all my time at work.

Despite working long hours over the past few weeks I feel rejuvenated by several relaxing weekends in a row.  This weekend has been no exception.

We own a beautiful 1968 convertible MGB.  We have kept her running for 20 odd years but lately can never seem to find time to drive her. Only a few years ago she was my everyday commuter car but she is too old for that now. Unfortunately we have tended to go the other way and she just sits in the carport collecting cobwebs.

But no more! We cleaned her up and took her for a spin.

In the spirit of seeing new places we headed out on a stunning autumn day and visited Tallowa Dam in Kangaroo Valley, a little over an hour from home.  We were so pleasantly surprised by an easy drive along a sealed road to a dam with great picnic facilities.

We saw kangaroos, fairy wrens, silver eyes, herons and a massive goanna. The dam is beautiful.

There were many many people out paddling on the dam, some seemed to have camped overnight somewhere along the shore.  We are committed to getting kayaks this year and are excited to have discovered such a lovely place to take them, so close to home.

We spent the perfect relaxing Sunday, with a picnic of cheese and crackers, native raspberry paste, sparkling Italian wine, talking and reading in dappled sun and shade overlooking this beautiful place. Aah, this will sustain me all week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Signing up for a creative pen pal

I have just signed up to a Creative Pen Pal link up at The Craft Revival Blog.

I have an email pen friend, Sammi - we have been writing for years and years and both really value the friendship.  Sometimes its a quick thinking of you line, a photo of a pet or a long rambling letter.  Whatever the correspondence its a great connection that I love.

I thought I'd build on this experience and reach out for another pen friend. This time the link is likely to be overseas which will add a different element to discussions. And it has been designated as a snail mail connection. I have a box of letters and post cards that I have kept since I was a child. Looking through them brings back so many memories and wonderings.

So I've put my hat into the ring and signed up. Where will the journey take us? You never know but not knowing has a charm, a mystery. So, are you going to sign up? Do you have a penfriend already? I'd love to know what you think about this?

The offer closes tomorrow, Friday 26 April if you are interested.

How exciting!! And thanks to The Craft Revival for your generous time making this happen!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spinach and ricotta cannelloni recipe and left over frittata

After a week of stunning, crisp Autumn days it has turned cold and wet. In fact the rain is pouring down. We are sitting inside with the fire on. It is time for comfort food.

Cannelloni is one of my favourite treats. It is very easy to make, best for a weekend day though when you can put it in the oven hours before you intend to eat it, to ensure it cooks right through.

You will need:
1 packet cannelloni tubes
2 cans tomato puree
1 packet silken firm tofu
1 small tub ricotta
parmesan cheese, grated
spinach or silverbeet, sliced

Steam the spinach until tender.
Drain spinach, then mix with the tofu and ricotta in a large bowl.
Spoon into cannelloni tubes.
Pour half a can of tomato into the bottom of a lasagne baking dish.
Arrange the filled tubes into the dish.
Pour the rest of the tomatoes over the top, being sure to cover everything well.
Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
Cover with a lid or sheet of alfoil/tinfoil. 
Bake in a hot oven until the pasta is soft.

Notes: the tofu can be admitted if preferred: double the amount of ricotta. I recommend the tofu however as it adds protein and also changes the texture of the cooked filling - I think for the better. Don't tell anyone there is tofu in this recipe and they will never know!

There are only two of us and a whole packet of tubes makes about 6 serves so I freeze left over individual serves: perfect for lunch, or dinner when you get home late from work. It reheats really well: you won't know the difference from when you ate it straight from the oven.

The bonus here is a frittata recipe. I often find after I fill all the tubes that I have left over filling. 
Mix a couple of eggs, add some feta cubes, sun-dried tomatoes and basil into the left over cannelloni filling. Pour into lightly oiled ramekins and bake. Great with salad or for breakfast.

Our thoughts return to Boston today

Our thoughts go to everyone in Boston this week. We visited last October and found it a pretty, very livable city, with friendly people.
The only kind of terrorist action we experienced in Boston was guerilla knitting. This delighted me.
I love how people decorate their houses for the seasons in Massachusetts  We visited in Autumn, one of my favourite seasons and the one we are enjoying now. 

The Constitution, The US Navy's flagship against the backdrop of the financial district. 
The contrast of old and new works well in Boston.

I was fascinated by the story of Paul Revere as a child so was delighted to visit his statue, house and grave.
Beacon Hill and the Charles River from the Mass. Ave Bridge on our walk to Harvard and Cambridge. They were preparing for a run that day too.

I loved this diner, so quaint (sorry, but true), authentic, friendly.  We discovered it by chance and enjoyed a hearty breakfast before leaving Boston, driving to Concord and Deerfield.

Dear Bostonians, we feel for your suffering and are glad the terror seems to have ended. I wanted to share a few photos of our experiences which were so enjoyable. We hope you feel peaceful again soon.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Relaxing weekend on Jervis Bay

We spent a wonderful, relaxing weekend on Jervis Bay, walking, swimming, kayaking, 
wining and dining.

Jervis Bay is only about 1 and a quarter hours south of where we live yet we had never been. It is a popular holiday destination for people living in Sydney and Wollongong. The two main towns that we visited: Huskisson and Vincentia, are quiet bay-side towns that must swell dramatically in the summer. Luckily we visited out of peak. They remind us of towns up north and how they were when we were kids: places like Pottsville and Kingscliff that have been overrun with tract housing, hotels and large villas. 

We walked along Nelson's Beach on a cloudy afternoon, 

and famous Hyams Beach the next morning in bright sunshine. 

I was pleasantly surprised to be able to swim and read in the sunshine in April. 
The bonus was not getting sunburnt.  The water was crisp and invigorating.

We also visited St George's Basin a large lake with an ocean inlet. We kayaked out to and around these two islands. 

The basin is full of seaweed. Howard observed that it was like looking down on a forest from the air - I've never seen water plants like it but yes, that's exactly what it looked like.  There were tiny fish darting and water birds including cormorants, egrets and black swans who rose to the air clumsily when we quietly paddled past. The shore and bottom of the lake were strewn with half shells - I have never seen that before.

Kayaking around the bay and the basin provided a unique way to experience the place, so quiet, so gentle and wow just awesome. I can't wait for our next adventure.


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