Saturday, September 10, 2022

RIP Queen Elizabeth II - 1926-2022

The news of the Queen's passing has come at a shock to the world when only a few days ago she was welcoming the new Prime Minister Liz Truss.  What an honour for Liz Truss to have met her, and for the world to have those last beautiful images of the Queen standing in front of the fire place with her famous smile, it seemed very fitting.

Getty Images

Whether you love the Monarch or not, you can't deny the Queen was an incredible human being who had a great sense of humour.  To be working right up until 2 days before she passed away goes to show the incredible service she has given for the past 70 years.  One thing I can say is she had an incredible stylist and make up artist and she always looked beautiful.

She was also known for documenting her own families life with lots of images of her taking photos throughout the years.  I love that Kate loves photography and documents their life even though the Royal Family has official Photographers.

I actually wrote to the Queen back in 2015 as part of something that came up for my son's school assignment.  Here is a post about it.  It was really funny looking up online how to send a letter to the Queen and I was a bit nervous about it however I did it anyway and I got a reply on official Buckingham Palace letterhead.  I've taken my address off the envelope however when it arrived in the mail I was so excited.  This is as close to the Royal Family I have come.

Here are some photos of the Queen with her camera.

I think everyone loved the Queen and she will certainly be missed particularly by the British people.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Around here

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and that means 15 days until my Birthday which means my "Birthday Tradition Photo".  Here's another blog post from back in 2017 about it.  This year it will be 17 years I've been doing this project and it's very dear to my heart.

On the craft front I have finished quilting my "Big Patch Quilt" so I just need to cut some binding and attach that to the quilt.  I also purchased this Homestead Quilt Pattern by Amy Kallissa which my friend and I are going to do together as she has never made a quilt before so I can show her the ropes.  She does sew so it will be pretty easy to teach her.  This will probably be a January project as I want to finish my Quilt and the Baby Quilt before I start.   I'd like to pay to get this one professionally quilted as I don't want it just to be straight rows of sewing.  The biggest impact will be the fabric choices.

This year my family and I have planned a day in Toowoomba to see the Carnival of Flowers.  We went every year for years and years however the last time we went was in 2017 so we are looking forward to seeing some lovely gardens for inspiration.  This is a huge event for Toowoomba and in 2019 it attracted 294,000 people during the 10 day invent and injected more than $20 million dollars into the Toowoomba economy.  I think the first year of Covid the event wasn't on and the 2nd year they ran it over the whole month of September instead of having people attend in the normal 10 day period so the crowds were less.  Here's a few photos from around here.

A bouquet of home grown lettuce and parsley wrapped up in newspaper for my friend.

Also gifted my friend some home made sourdough.

I bought more fabric and made this up as a quilt top for my niece's baby due in December.

Home baking carrot cake recipe.

Recent BBQ at our favourite bush location.

My beautiful 16 year old dressed up for an event.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Around here - Escape to the Chateau

One of my favourite TV shows is "Escape to the Chateau" and it's on Saturday night at 7.30 pm.  I record it and then when I head to bed Saturday night I'm look forward to watching this show.  In 2015 the Strawbridges were living in London and stumbed across Chateau de la Motte Husson, a derelict 19th century fairy tale chateau in the Pays de la Loire with 45 rooms, a moat, orangery, 12 acres, 7 outbuildings in France which had huge potential so they packed up their life and escaped to the Chateau.

They moved to their new home in a foreign country, in the middle of winter with no electricity, sewerage or heating and two young children in tow but they fell in love with the Chateau instantly.  After decades of neglect, the Chateau needed hard work and dedication to bring it back to life.  It was a renovation on the grandest of scales.  The filming of the show is currently in it's 9th season which will be released at the end of 2022.

They run a wedding business at the Chateau and during lockdown life everyone else they could no longer host weddings and events so they had time to do those larger renovation projects.  Dick retired from the Army and also is a qualified engineer which certainly helps with all the renovations and maths cals that need to be done.  Angel is very creative and used to run Vintage Patisserie Company in London and loved icing cakes.  She can turn anything item into some decor item for their Chateau and is extremely creative.

They have two kids, Arthur who is 9 and Dorothy who is 8 and they were very little when they moved from the UK to France to begin their big adventure.

After some time they renovated one of the outbuildings into an apartment for Angel's parents who also live at the Chateau.

I was on IG on Tuesday night and saw that the Strawbridges are coming to Australia and New Zealand for a week long tour and will be coming to Brisbane.  I love this show and I thought that's quite an experience so I turned my computer back on and booked myself a seat for the show.  I have no idea what it will be however I think it's a sit down talking chat about their life in France and the big adventure that is "Escape to the Chateau".  It's not until February next year but I am so excited for this evening chat with them.  Apparently Australia and New Zealand was one of the first countries to adopt "Escape to the Chateau"

The Chateau.

The Walled Garden.

Dick, Dorothy, Arthur & Angel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Around here

New craft project to make a baby mat for my niece who is having a baby in December.  I haven't gone for baby colours but picked this kit from Scribbly Gum Quilt Co.  I've also got the sewing machine out to firstly finish my Big Patch Quilt that I started August two years ago before we had other family things come up that needed our attention.  I haven't got that much left to do and then I need to put the binding on so I'm determined to finish this before starting the baby quilt.  Susan from Hopewood Home makes the most stunning quilts and the way she puts fabrics together is incredible.

I haven't made sourdough bread in a couple of months because my daughter was bringing home the leftover bread from her part time job.  I hadn't feed my starter so it took a good week of trying to get it to come back to life and it's looking great now so starting making bread again.  I use Elaine Boddy's Master Recipe, timeline and cooking from a cold oven and it's the best and easiest process I've seen over the years.

I made up this paste to clean my white coffee cups that had tea stains in them.

My white tea stained coffee cups "before" I left it on a while and then cleaned them.

My white tea stained coffee cups "after"

Dinner with homemade coleslaw and home made dressing and a home made salsa to go with salmon.

Home made sourdough bread.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Around here

Around here we are in Week 4 of the school term and I can't believe it's August already which means it's only 6 weeks until my birthday on the 15th September.

My sister from Perth has booked a trip to visit us early October so we are looking forward to that.  She was last here December 2020 when there was a time Queensland let residents in from WA.  She ended up having to quarantine at home for 2 weeks when she got back because Queensland ended up having Covid cases here whereas we only quarantined I think for 3 days.  I was going to go to Perth mid September for my Birthday and use my airline credit from April 2020 [beginning of the Pandemic and my Niece's wedding was cancelled 3 weeks out and I wanted a refund but was only offered a credit]. 

In June I waited on the company's chat on my computer for 2 hours with a stupid bot telling me every 15 minutes that my call was important.  Then after 2 hours it says if you are not flying in the next 24 hours don't talk to us and that was the end of the call.  The customer service is totally disgraceful and they don't care about you as the consumer.  After waiting for 2 hours it said you can use your credit but you need to call us all of which could have been mentioned a the start of the chat, yes 2 hours earlier.

I attempted two days in a row and basically gave up.  The whole airline industry and them keeping our money is outrageous.  Mine is only $600 however I should have been refunded that 2.5 years ago and have that money sitting in my account so I could book another ticket if and when we could travel.  If I find a cheaper flight I can't use the credit or you loose the lot.  My friends have more money tied up in credit with an airline and have equally distressing stories of them refusing to refund the money and they make it so hard to use the credit as well.  Anyway that's enough about my attempt to fly to Perth in September.  I think the credit is due to expire at the end of this year so I will need an extension which may take another 2 hour phone call or more.  Unfortunately I booked through a third party Webjet and I would never ever do that again, I would book directly with the airlines as Qantas would have issued me a refund because the flight was cancelled altogether.  It had been 7 years since I had been on a plane so I just jumped onto the comparison site and booked it.  Mind you, had there not been a once in a lifetime Pandemic I would have been on the plane and my Niece would have been married and this wouldn't have been a problem however lesson learned, check prices and then only book directly through the airline.

I had some very sad news that my friend of 30 years passed away two weeks ago. We are all in shock and it was only 7 weeks from when she fell ill to being in palliative care.  I raced up to the hospital to say goodbye to her however she had basically been unconscious the whole time but I'm so pleased I went up to the hospital but it still doesn't seem real.

I met her as she was a Beautician and lived in the same area as me.  We both bought and sold our houses at the same time and then we renovated our new to us houses.  We both had Thermomix's and and swapped recipes.  She knows of my whole family and I know of hers.  I saw her every fortnight and it was a big catch up on life and I got my nails done.  She was a friend first and beautician second and was such a kind person who did everything for everyone.

One minute she is perfectly fine and the next she is not and I'll never see her again.  Something was on TV the other night and I thought I must tell her and then I remembered she's not here.  She's only 4 years older than me and it was completely out of the blue.  Her funeral is tomorrow and it's going to be very difficult day and I'm not looking forward to it.  I know funerals are a celebration of life but honestly on the surface it doesn't feel like that because she should be here for another 20 years or more.

I did my Photo a Day [Project 365] in 2009 and got her to do one in 2010 and below is a photo she took of me for her photo a day project.  I was looking through my emails from her and came across it again.  She was also an amazing baker of cakes and cookies and at Christmas time I always ordered a Gingerbread Men for James, Sienna and I.  We will honour her this Christmas by making them ourselves although her icing skills are very professional and it was a hobby for her outside of her beauty clients.

Here's some other things that have been going on recently.  Family BBQ to our favourite place about 10 minutes from home and we love a wood fired BBQ.

Can you spot the Kookaburra in the tree.

Last week I made these great overnight oats for the kids which they loved.  I made 6 of them and it only took me less than 10 minutes and then they can have something ready to grab for breakfast.  My son has some early morning Uni days so these are perfect.  The recipe is from Nic from Simple Home Edit.  You can find her on IG here and she has some great time saving delicious family recipes.

This beautiful orange trumpet vine is starting to flower everywhere at the moment and this is on my side fence however in our neighbourhood there is lots of it over fences and walls and looks stunning.

I did my Soap Making Workshop with Carrie of Riverbell Cottage held at Vitalia in Brisbane.  I went to Carrie's home back in July 2021 and did a Homesteading Course with her and she gave me some of her wonderful Sourdough Starter.

I made a big batch of these biscuits using Rhonda's recipe from Down to Earth blog.  I confess I ate way too many of these because they were so delicious.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Around here - Miracle Spray Recipe

I'm getting super organized with my DIY cleaning and have made some more laundry powder this morning which takes me less than one minute in the Thermomix to make.  I make it in batches and I made 4 batches so all up less than 10 minutes work and I have a large container of home made laundry powder.  You can get the laundry powder recipe from this blog post and if you don't have a Thermomix you could grate your soap or use a food processor.

On the back of the Lectric Washing Soda packet you will find the recipe for "Miracle Spray" which was featured on our A Current Affair TV show a while back.  This is an all purpose cleaner to cut through grease and grime in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry - or anywhere around the home.


  • 1.5 Litres of Water [1 cup of this needs to be boiled]
  • 300ml vinegar
  • 60ml dishwashing liquid
  • 25ml eucalyptus oil
  • 30gms [ie 3 dessertspoons washing soda]


  • Mix washing soda with 1 cup of boiling water to dissolve.
  • Add remainder of ingredients and pour into a 2 Litre bottle.
  • Decant into spray bottles as required.
NOTE - Do not use on aluminium.

Making your own cleaning products at home are super cheap and once you have the ingredients, super quick as well.  Additive Free Lifestyle have a DIY Made Easy self paced course that you can do with lots of information about harmful products that are in the supermarket cleaning products.  Lots of recipes and you have immediate access.  As soon as the girls released this course I bought it and refer to it all the time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Around here - No Knead Focaccia Bread Recipe

I found this recipe via Babymac Blog and Beth's teenage daughter was making this regularly.  It's called "Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia"  There seems a lot of steps in the post however in reality you mix the yeast and add your dry ingredients and then leave that in the fridge overnight.  Then you pop it on a tray and let it rise for 1.5-4 hours and then bake it on 230 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

I made it on Sunday night and took half next door to my neighbour and got a text the next day.

 "Thank you so much for the focaccia - we nearly finished it last night - Jess's words, I don't think Dad can top that!!"

Their daughter is in Grade 5 and their Dad is a chef so that message made me laugh and of course goes to show it's a great focaccia recipe.  He mows my front footpath every week and I'm so lucky to have such lovely neighbours so anytime I can do some baking and share it with them I do.

A few weeks ago it was raining and they rang me to see if I was home because he had made a big pot of chicken noodle soup so turned up on the doorstep with a container for me.  Just having that one beautiful family who looks out for you is priceless and it means so much to me.

The recipe calls for melted butter and garlic to be poured over the top after it's cooked however I opted for home grown rosemary and sea salt to go into the oven which is a favourite in our family.  There seems to be a lot of oil olive used in this recipe to pour into the bowl before you put your dough in and then into the tray you cook it in and then after it's baked.  I would probably only use half of it next time as there seemed to be a lot of oil.  


  • ·       2 and ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ·       2 teaspoons honey
  • ·       625gms bread flour
  • ·       1 Tablespoons Morton kosher salt
  • ·       6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands
  • ·       4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • ·       Flaky sea salt
  • ·       2-4 cloves of garlic and/or Rosemary Sprigs


Step 1

Whisk the dry yeast with honey and 2.5 cups of lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit it for 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add 625gms bread flour and salt and mix with spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry steaks remain.

Step 3

Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. This puppy is going to rise! Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. If you're in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.

Step 4

Generously butter a 13x9" baking pan, for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches, or an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet, for focaccia that's thinner, crispier, and great for snacking.

The butter may seem superfluous, but it’ll ensure that your focaccia doesn’t stick. Pour 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil into centre of pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into centre of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.

Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (like near a radiator or on top of the fridge or a preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.

Step 5

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 230 degrees. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.) Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won't need to do this if using a baking pan).

Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan). Drizzle with remaining 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt [Rosemary if you are using it]. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.

Ready to go into the fridge overnight - cover with cling wrap first.
Next day pop some olive oil in the tray and pop the dough on top and flip over once.

Here it has been proving uncovered on the bench for about an hour and a half so it spreads.

Now use your fingers and pretend you are playing the piano and poke holes by touching the bottom of the pan.  This is the description in the recipe which I found quite cute.

A close up pic of the surface.

Ready for the oven with rosemary and sea salt.

On a cooling stand.