Welcoming in 2016

Goodbye 2015 - thanks for the adventures, lessons, and connections.

Had to smile as I arrived at the beach today to a camel greeting

I just never know what is going to appear on my daily walk

Happy New Year, hope it's full of wonders, new sights, friendships, love and health & the occasional camel ;) - By the way, if you're in Port Macquarie, you can see a camel or go for a camel ride on Lighthouse Beach.

Books, Robert Frost Poetry and Morning Tea

There's no place like home for Christmas and we've been enjoying our local area. Recently a friend asked me to join a local writer's group. The group meet every week for morning tea at Flynn's Beach Book Cafe.

Now book stores happen to be one of my most favourite places to visit, and oh my, when I went inside, I felt as though I'd been transported into one of those book shops that you'd expect to see out of a novel or a wonderful movie set.

I was wandering around taking pictures of the lovely arrangements Ann has dotted around the place, and noticed A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost.

It's amazing how many lovely places are around, yet unless we wander off our usual routes, we may never find them. I have been driving past Ann's book cafe for years and would never have known what a magical place was lurking nearby.

Each week Ann has a different display for our delight, complete with fresh flowers that she grows herself. This is one corner I could disappear into for hours.

Flynns Beach Book Cafe - 3 Flynn Street Port Macquarie.

Christmas 2015

Love seeing the thong tree appear at Lighthouse Beach... Here it is in all it's Christmassy glory - the Christmas Thong Tree 2015. If you happen to be in Port and you'd like to find it... head down to doggie beach... keep going past the camels... and before you make it to 1st totem, you'll find it.

I'm looking forward to seeing the smiles of delight, as people discover the tree again this year. Thank you so much to Mary who creates the tree (and Santa's Little Helpers who assist).

Candy - loves her beach walks

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Christmas House Sit in the Greek Islands?

Heartwood Creek Greek Santa...

I haven't been to the Greek Islands at Christmas, although I'd love to experience it - from the postcards that I saw when I was there, it looks like it might get pretty cold at times. On a trip to the Greek Islands, a few years ago and we minded the most gorgeous little villa perched high above the town of Mykonos.

It was one of those memories that will stay in my heart forever. Of an evening we could look down at the sun setting over the harbour. It was a bit of a hike into town, but we didn't care it was marvellous. We used to use the goat tracks to wind our way up the hill of a night back to the villa.

A little Christmas creating this year

Christmas Baubles to colour, if you're taking part in the current colouring in craze! You are welcome to print the baubles out and colour in.

One night there was no moon to guide us, and with only a cigarette lighter to guide our way (you'd have thought we'd have bought a torch instead) we wove our way back home. Hubby in the lead, I followed close behind, when there was a sudden stop and scream at the feeling of hot breath in the front. Turned out that hubby had come face to face with a donkey on the path. He'd been bent over trying to see the way over rocky terrain, and in that position came face to face with the local. Ah fun times to remember.

Greek Christmas Carols from Crete and Peloponnesus

Since visiting them, the islands have never been far from my heart, I could have put down roots and stayed there. It was one holiday I never wanted to return from. I have yet to see any images that truly capture the light and beauty of the place.

My kitchen bookshelf - the statue is a Heartwood Creek Santa

I just had a text from a friend wondering what to bring for Christmas lunch, which got me to thinking not about lunch, but about Christmas treats. One of my favourite recipes is for Greek Christmas Cookies - Kourapiedes. A while ago now I happened upon a rather magical cookbook called Falling Cloudberries. The title attracted my interest and then once I opened it, I knew it was coming home with me to live at my house. Tessa's book introduced me to these treats and I've made Tessa's recipe many times. They are melt in your mouth wonderful little bursts of buttery delights and friends just can't get enough of them, once they start.

"Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes, by Tessa Kiros is a gem. The cookbook is full of personal touches and stories. It is a beautiful collection of family anecdotes, history, and traditions all documented with stunning photography, unique illustrations, and a warm dialogue that will simply pull you in. This book trailer will let you into Tessas exotic multi-cultural family gathered around meals, food and fun."
If you are looking for a lovely Christmas present for someone who loves to cook, who also loves soulful stories, you couldn't do better than Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. Apart from wonderful recipes, I adore how Tessa has woven into the book her family history and images.

I treasure how people share and create their traditional recipes, and especially at Christmas. This is Irene Mina sharing her recipe and you can find more at Thursday for Dinner.com

South West Rocks

The last thing I expected to see as we wandered into the gaol at South West Rocks was a kangaroo at the entrance - and a toddler about to pat it. The toddler's mum was looking fondly on as her little one was about to reach out to touch. I could almost hardly breathe when I saw it.

Have you ever seen a kangaroo rear up on it's tail and box someone? I have, and I've seen what those talons can do too. One of our dogs once got too close to a kangaroo many years ago, and had her neck sliced open. Luckily for her, the vet managed to sew her up again, and finally sent on her home to us 3 days later.

Needless to say, I didn't want that toddler to experience what I had witnessed previously. So folks if you happen to see a kangaroo, do take notice of the signs that are usually nearby, if you are in a tourist spot, that say that they are wild animals and to not touch them. If there are no signs, please remember this post!

Anyhow, problem avoided, we wandered on into the goal at a respectful distance from the kangaroo, to see the exhibition of Sculpture in the Gaol 2015.

Grass Tree

The eagle was one of my favourites, sadly the image hasn't come out too well. Lots of glare that day bouncing off gaol walls, and my iphone camera didn't seem to like that very much. Either that or it was my photographic skills - nah - must have been the glare.

I had a few fantasies about bringing this bell come home with me. The sound was just wonderful, and all through our visit it was so lovely to hear other visitors ringing it, over, and over again.

More highlights were the local school children's sculptures in the individual gaol cells.

The view from the watch tower is fantastic and we watched whales jumping and divers playing in the sea. What a spot for a tower - bit of a waste really, what a great house location it could have made.

We were ready for a stop off and headed to South West Rocks. We are always looking for pet friendly stop offs and discovered Malt and Honey Cafe. If you are passing through it is a great stop off - the food is really lovely and I had the best Chai tea I've ever had.

Magical Houses Made From Bamboo

"And when my father built Green School in Bali, he chose bamboo for all of the buildings on campus, because he saw it as a promise. It's a promise to the kids. It's one sustainable material that they will not run out of. And when I first saw these structures under construction about six years ago, I just thought, this makes perfect sense. It is growing all around us. It's strong. It's elegant. It's earthquake-resistant. Why hasn't this happened sooner, and what can we do with it next?" Elora Hardy....

You've never seen buildings like this. The stunning bamboo homes built by Elora Hardy and her team in Bali twist, curve and surprise at every turn. They defy convention because the bamboo itself is so enigmatic. No two poles of bamboo are alike, so every home, bridge and bathroom is exquisitely unique.

In this beautiful, immersive talk, she shares the potential of bamboo, as both a sustainable resource and a spark for the imagination. "We have had to invent our own rules," she says.

View Elora's amazing buildings: Ibuku.com
Ibu means "mother," and ku means "mine," so it represents my Mother Earth, and at Ibuku, we are a team of artisans, architects and designers, and what we're doing together is creating a new way of building.

Coffee and Klezmer

The power was out for the day, apparently the local substation needed upgrading.

So we set off to have our coffee at The Lighthouse Beach Surf Club Cafe...

it was a gorgeous morning and the little lemon curd tart was very delightful.

Isn't it nice when people put a little bit of love into their work?

OK you two where's mine?

Later on off to see The London Klezmer Quartet - I had no idea what to expect. The room was packed and a great night was had by all. If you've never heard Klezmer music either, here is a youtube video of the group playing...

Visit the London Klezmer Quartet.com website click here

Energy Bites - Almond, Date & Coconut Truffles

I don't know about you, but I've got a sweet tooth and my weakness is chocolate. Seriously don't leave one near my vicinity, or it will disappear. I don't know what happens to them, they are there one minute, and then gone the next. So it was with a great deal of thanks that I discovered date truffles also known as energy bites. They make a great alternative to chocolate or sweets, and they rapidly became one of our family favourites.

Almond and Date Truffles:

  • About 2 cups raw almonds - process in a blender till ground
  • 15 or so dates - chop them and make sure you remove the pits
  • tahini - a couple of tablespoons
  • a couple of tablespoons carob powder
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • Coconut to roll the balls in
  • After grinding the almonds, simply add everything and blend together
  • Roll the date mix into small balls and then roll in coconut - keep in the fridge or freezer.

    A while ago I discovered Deliciously Ella's Blog. If you love food, especially healthy food, she will inspire you to head off to the market for new ingredients. I enjoyed seeing the variations to the energy bites that she added.

    If you haven't discovered Deliciously Ella's blog yet click here - you're in for a treat! I'm looking forward to trying out her recipe.

  • Don't send a man to the grocery store

    I headed down to the beach this morning for my walk and on the way noticed a huge Woolworths van delivering food to a home. I think it's so great that we can now hop on the internet, order our week's shopping, and have it delivered. I haven't done it yet, but it must be so helpful if you're working or not well or just fed up of waiting in line at checkouts. And on the subject of shopping... have you seen Jeanne Robertson's comedy routines? If not, she is great fun...

    Time for a giggle - Don't send a man to the grocery store. I think Jeanne needs to do another comedy routine... Don't send a woman to the hardware store... but that's another story.

    2015 - Happy New Year

    Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.
    Middle age is when you are forced to. ~ Bill Vaughn

    Happy New Year!! I don't know about your area, but the streets around our area were so quiet. No noisy parties to be heard anywhere, however, I did wake up at midnight (we must be getting old we'd rather go to bed early on New Year's Eve and read a book than go out) to a frightened, shaking doggie scratching at my face - she'd woken up when she heard the distant fireworks and was having a bit of a panic attack. Happy New Year! Poor little sausage, we had a cuddle till the fireworks stopped and all was well again. So how was your New Year's Eve, as exciting as ours?

    Our New Year's house sit bookings are already filling up, so the year looks like a lovely one with trips back to mind favourite puppies and houses. We decided to stay at home over Christmas this year, and just as well as my mum broke her hip at the end of November, and so we were busy running back and forth to hospital to see her. In between times, we enjoyed watching the kangaroos who visited at our back fence...

    Photos taken at our back fence.

    They can be quite comical to watch - having a good old scratch

    I sometimes wonder how those large joeys fit in their pouches

    And I wonder what they think when they look at us watching...