Monday, 29 September 2008

Let sleeping ferrets lie

We're a cynical lot here. We're known for putting people in their place; enthusiastically decapitating those proverbial tall poppies. So you can imagine when I found out that there is a new deli in Junee and it's called the Sleepy Ferret I was delighted and perplexed in equal measures and could not wait to mention it in the blog. I even found out that the owner has a blurb in the local paper and after reading the latest one and not knowing quite what to make of his recipe for duck eggs cooked with whole garlic cloves, blood orange and prosciutto I couldn't wait to, well, give them a savaging all for the sake of a few laughs. I mean why would you call a deli the sleepy ferret?
Then I went into the shop. I was pleased to see they have tarts from the very good Quinty Bakery and also a small selection of organic veg. And some cheesecakes that I feared just looking at would put me into a diabetic coma. Not much else. But the owner was so nice and has such good intentions that I just don't have the heart to be mean. He told me all about his plans (alfresco seating for coffee & tarts) and when I didn't have the right change told me to bring it back another day. I'm thinking that wouldn't happen in the city, but maybe I'm wrong. So it's good that they're having a go. God knows we need a deli, not just in Junee, but Wagga too.
It just seems that around here whenever someone sets up a restaurant or deli, they try really hard but just don't quite get it right. Like the two top restaurants in Wagga. If you're going to be gastronomically ambitious, please get the spelling on the menu right. Burr blanc indeed.
Anyway, back to the Ferret. I asked about the name and he said it comes from a photo of a butcher shop in South Australia from the 1950's. The shop was named after the aforementioned ferret and had a window crammed full of rabbits (how Garn would've hated that) I guess that's why he was sleepy. As the deli is in an old butcher shop that's the connection. Hmmm. Well, it is memorable.
So I'm going back tomorrow to pay my outstanding debt ($5) and buy some Quinty sourdough.
I'm intrigued about their weekly dinner deal. Seven meals (main and dessert) for $70.
S remains reluctant to try it but I'm keen to find out what you get for that small amount of money. I'll keep you posted.

it's in the can...

As I mentioned the watering can has been a big hit. Actually now that spring has well and truly sprung Jack loves to be outside, and even when he's inside will climb up to look longingly out the window.
He may need to work on his watering can technique. As you can see he carries it pointing down, so by the time he's carried it from the tap to the garden bed all the water has dribbled out, usually onto his shoes, and it's time to refill again. Hours of fun!
The bottom photo was taken after Jack was standing too close to a leak in the hose. He seemed surprised and puzzled by this and didn't move till we told him to, even with the water spraying his face. Still, it made for a cute photo!

Mr Sandman

As I mentioned on the Clontarf post, Jack has discovered sand. We don't have sand as such here, just dirt. Sydney however has lots of sand on lots of beaches and also in the play table at my parents. It also has wheels that spin and whizz sand everywhere (As if Jack needed any help!) and buckets and scoops. Jack and his grandma had lots of fun.

And while S and I enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Gamin de Paris, Jack and his grandparents went to the park and did a spot more retail therapy. Jack got his new outfit (including his nifty shoes) and a watering can which has been a big hit. I have a feeling it will feature in some upcoming posts.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Retail Therapy in Mosman

On Thursday afternoon Mum and I went shopping. Well what else should two Mosman principessas do when they are feeling sad? We went to this great little shop and a woman who must be the love child of Prue&Trude and Patsy from AbFab zhooshed me well and truly.
First she enquired if we had an unlimited bank account a our disposal (we did not). She smiled bravely and carried on.
First she tried me in some lovely linen. Think Jemima Goldsmith on holidays in Marrakech. Except that I'm probably about two feet shorter than Jemima and so instead of looking willowy and elegant I looked short and crumpled. hmmm.
The amazing Ann tried again. "Darling, I think it's time for the Mela, and something in Kalamata." I smiled and awaited my destiny in the change room. Ann swooshed towards me with an armful of garments and in no time I was transformed into a Mosman yummy mummy (sans the bugaboo and attitude). I listened carefully to her sage advice, "it's all about the ruching, darling!" nodding as she imparted her wisdom. She bravely turned a blind eye to my very hairy legs and my hobbit feet.
The Kalamata was working (and so good for those people whose toddlers like chocolate) but the suggestion of an aqua shift was rejected on the grounds that it was my sister in law's colour (she too has been zhooshed by Ann). A 'melon' shift (pink!) was suggested and we were happy. Actually I think Ann was ecstatic. She swept off to find some beads with which to accessorise the ensemble. She hurtled back towards us clutching some dinosaur design beads, the colour of which she said was so perfect that it made her nauseous!
Mum and I were laughing our heads off and having a wonderful time as she whisked me out of the change rooms in search of matching earrings. She stood back to admire her handiwork and ordered me to "pull your stomach in - shoulders back - FABULOUS!'
Then white jeans were suggested (yes, for me the mother of a toddler with the aforementioned chocolate fetish). "Machine washable darling - don't worry about it." Added to the white jeans was a white shift. I falteringly suggested that this seemed like a lot of white but was informed that you can never wear too much white. Just to humour me though a lightweight jersey hoodie was conjured up and added to the mix. It was the colour of lime splice and I was ready to hate it, but it looked marvellous.
In the meantime other shoppers were glancing enviously at us getting the full Ann treatment. One woman tried to cut in but only got a few hints, not the avalanche of wisdom that we were treated too. Another woman requested a size 12 pant, but when the sales assistant went out to the shop to get the requested size she was told that the lady was a 14 and never a 12.
Mum and I had such a fun time and the amazing Ann was so hilarious, it took our minds off everything and I got a couple of new outfits too. Fabulous Darling!

And Clontarf

On Friday afternoon we went to Clontarf to meet up with my friend Fairy and her children, the fairyette and Jasper. Fortuitously for both of us, Fairy was down in Sydney, staying with her Mum for some R & R; well that was the plan anyway. So we arranged to meet and had a lovely time chatting and watching the kids play in the playground there.
And Jack discovered sand...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

More memories of Garn

I keep on thinking of more things about Garn.
Garn liked it when we called her the Rose Kennedy of our family, though our family is not quite so dysfunctional and definitely not cursed. She was our matriarch. So when Craig was serious, really serious about someone he'd met, she was duly taken to Forster to meet Garn and was approved of (as was her daughter Chelsea who Garn thought was wonderful).
Garn approved of Simon, before he'd uttered a word or done a thing, she noted his well polished shoes and decided he was okay. Things like shoes and gloves were important to Garn and she gave me some beautiful leather gloves that I still wear in winter.
I liked the way she picked up crumbs with her forefinger after eating a particularly good scone or piece of cake.
She called Craig 'Greased Lightning' and I was "Kookie" and she always said, "Wash your hand Jeffrey!" before every meal.
Before she got sick she was always crocheting or knitting something. Her crocheted rugs were always made from oddments of yarn, resulting in some crazy colour combinations. She crocheted around he edges of about a million facewashers and gave them to family and friends. Lou got Garn to teach her how to crochet and I wish I'd done that too.
She was so generous. I remember her cooking Gramma pie for her friend Les in the Blue mountains and going to visit him.
She loved living in the country and reading Country Style.Whenever the country style would arrive she'd put it somewhere where she could see it. Never opening it straight away so she could relish the anticipation of a new magazine. Every Sunday she'd watch Landline and then on the phone she'd ask me if I'd been watching too. And she'd laugh when I used a farm expression and say "you're in the country now, kookie!"
She was a demon with the ironing board. Could go through a minimum of two cans of fabulon in one session. We knew to avoid her ironing spot because it was always as slippery as a patch of black ice. Nothing was safe from her iron. Sheets (Garn thought there was nothing more luxurious than sleeping on ironed sheets), pillowcases, hankies and even underpants all felt the heat of her steaming iron.
Such was her love for a good fish meal that she'd make us queue outside the Snapper K Inn at Manly at 5 so we'd be first through the doors at 6pm. She didn't want to miss out and we didn't.
She told me only a few months ago that she thought my father was a marvellous man and thought Mum was so good to her. And in spite of everything she still thought highly of those people over the ditch that in the end did so little for her.
Her funeral was sad, but we also laughed too as we talked about her and ate cake and looked at her photos. It was so nice to see people that had come from Canberra and the Blue Mountains, from lots of places because they had such fond memories of Garn. Just like us.

Garn's Lemon Cake

Garn's funeral was yesterday and I made her lovely lemon cake to take along. It brought back some happy memories of Garn. My niece Chelsea ate four pieces. Garn would've liked that.
I told the story about when I was working at Lansdowne Publishing, how Margaret Fulton came for afternoon tea so we were all told to bring something. Naturally I took Garn's Lemon Cake. Margaret brought along a similar cake made with oranges instead of lemons, but rather like Margaret herself, it was a bit dried out and not very nice. Garn's was much better.
As I mentioned this cake was very popular with friends and friends of friends so I thought I'd put the recipe on here for people who have lost the recipe or never got a chance to try it.
4 oz butter (at room temp)
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2/3 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup SR Flour
1/2 cup plain flour
pinch baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup castor sugar
Combine softened butter, lemon rind, sugar, eggs, sifted flours, baking powder and milk and beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth and changes to a creamy yellow colour.
Pour into a well greased loaf tin and bake in a moderate (180 degree) oven for 45 minutes.
*Special Garn Tip: tap tin on bench a few times to shift any air bubbles
Leave cake to cool slightly in tin. Combine lemon juice and sugar in saucepan. Stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil (keep an eye on it), then pour over cake in tin. Leave to cool then remove from tin and dust with icing sugar.
Also good served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, 15 September 2008


My lovely grandmother, known to us all as Garn, passed away last night. Garn was a Shirley. Her first name was Lois but she went by her second name Shirley. There's a group of women in Australia called the Shirley Club whose motto is fun, friends and food and the only criteria is that you have to be called Shirley because being a Shirley means you just naturally enjoy those things. I remember seeing the Shirleys on TV setting off on an adventure in their minibus, laughing and chatting and I thought how Garn would fit in perfectly with a group of 'shirls'. Garn was outgoing and generous and made friends wherever she went, at her garden club, with her neighbours. She was the kind of person that people always asked after.

When I was little I got a her a monogrammed hanky for Christmas. I searched until I found the perfect one and was perplexed be her reaction when she opened the parcel. Garn laughed till she cried and she showed it to everyone. Everyone else in my family started laughing too. Between hoots of laughter she would gasp, "G for Garn!" and start off again. Puzzled I laughed along with everyone and it wasn't for quite a while that I realised that she was laughing because the initial on the hanky I had bought was G. Well, we called her Garn, what other letter would I have chosen? And Mum told me today that when she was at the home today it was in her drawer with her things.

Garn was funny, naughty. I remember the first time that I asked what was for dinner and Garn answered,"pigs arseholes and cabbage." I nearly fell over. Garn rarely swore but I could see how delighted she was by my reaction. Apparently it was something her mother used to say to her and she had reacted in a similar way. She was not big on political correctness, much to our delight as we'd giggle away at something she'd said.

Garn was the queen of custards. I remember the bone handled knife she would use to swirl around the dish of custard to spread the nutmeg just before it went in the oven. Then when the custard was cooked the knife was dipped in to make sure the custard was just right (it always was). She made baked custard, rice custard, bread and butter custard, all of them so delicious. Without realising it, whenever I went to visit Garn I would sniff the air as I walked in to see if I could detect the warm smell of egg, vanilla and nutmeg. And Garn's piece de resistance for special occasions was Garn's pudding. It was a tapioca custard that was topped with beaten egg whites, whipped into soft peaks. It was always served in a cut glass bowl, the egg whites were always flavoured with a hint of lemon essence and there were always sprinkles. Craig and I would compete to see who could devour the most pudding, leftovers were not an option. Tummy aches sometimes were. The sound of an old fashioned egg beater will always remind me of Garn.

Garn was a real old school domestic goddess, what with the pressure cooker and the rib sticking stews with dumplings, the custards and cakes and coconut ice at Christmas and of course the ultimate in naughtiness, fried scones. So delicious. She made a Lemon cake that became very popular with my friends who all asked for the recipe and always called it Garn's Lemon cake. Whenever I went to visit Garn and Pa, Garn always tried to feed me up. She'd make me sit in the sun with a book and bring me morning or afternoon tea, her lemon cake with a glass of milk. She had the most amazing pantry absolutely chock full of food, row up on row of cans. Just in case.
Garn loved her garden and gardens in general and when we visited the Blue Mountains for holidays and after she and Pa moved there, we would go on long walks, where she'd tell me the names of trees and flowers and we'd hop onto a bench to peer over the fence at Reg Livermore's wonderful garden.

I remember simple things with Garn, eating banana sandwiches in bed watching Carson's Law or Sale of the Century. Looking at her collection of buttons and beads. The voluminous nighties that she'd leave out for me to wear when I stayed over. Her monkeys that I was never allowed to take home (they now belong to Jack). How she looked gorgeous in pink. How she taught me how to look after my nails and when I was little helped me blow my nose. How she loved a 'nice fish meal'. Her Dame Edna glasses and her beautiful hair. She always felt better after it had been 'set' with soft curls. No wonder the ladies at her nursing home called her poodles.

When I was at Uni, Garn and I went to Honolulu for a holiday. We had a ball eating at all you can eat for 3.99 breakfast buffets, shopping, drinking cocktails and watching the TV Shopping network. We couldn't believe that such a thing existed.

At home Garn would take the back seat, singing in the kitchen while Pa fussed with his records and tapes. She'd lalalah along with the music and occasionally tell Pa to be quiet when she thought he'd said enough. She loved Magpies and saved scraps for them which she'd fling to them from the back door while she called to them in her distinctive sing song way.

She always spoke about her parents with such love and respect. Her father was a schoolteacher in the Bega Shire. He once sold a pig to a neighbour then unhappy with it's treatment reclaimed the sow, not realising that when he brought it home it was now pregnant. He felt he'd done well out of the whole transaction and Garn would've been happy as she always adored pigs.
The bits that Garn told me, the bits that I remember sound like she had an idyllic childhood. Picking fruit off trees (and getting a bellyache because they weren't ripe) , owning chickens, climbing a tree because someone said she wouldn't be able to and going for a joyride in Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's plane.

Garn had lovely handwriting and would send me letters telling me what the weather had been like and what she'd been doing. Invariably there would be a newspaper cutting or two about something of she thought I'd be interested in. For awhile it was the shenanigans of the AFL player Wayne Carey and she seemed to delight in keeping me up to date with his exploits. And on the back of the envelope there was always a stamp of dancing pigs that I bought her in 1991.

I know that when Pa met her he said she had the best legs on the tennis court and she was a great player. She always hoped that we might show some of her skill, but in spite of the lessons I remained a mediocre player.

She had a way with words. A large bottomed person would be "two pigs fighting under a blanket", a mini skirt was a 'bum freezer' and my favourite expression was 'the last shakings of the sugar bag'. I still remember her telling me I had good, sturdy thighs. She meant it as a compliment of course. She also used to tell me that I looked like Grace Kelly.

When we had Jack she told me that she thought that Simon and I were great parents. She said she hadn't been sure if we would be but we were. And she made me promise her two things. One that I would never walk so fast that Jack couldn't keep up with me (I don't think that will ever be a problem) and two that I would never make Jack take elocution lessons. I think I can manage that.
Goodbye Garnie, we're going to miss you.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

a walk in the park

Jack was out of sorts the other day. Not happy inside the house but not happy in the yard. So I took him across the road to the reserve. I may have mentioned that my father was worried about Jack missing the big parks in England, but the reserve is not bad, I just don't think he'll be running around there in bare feet come summer.

Jack brightened up and did lots of pointing and walking and soaking up the lovely sunny weather. He also wanted to say hello to the sheep that live there, but they are shy (they ran away).

Big Weekend

Down this way this weekend is a biggie. The following are all going on at the moment:
The Wagga Jazz festival,Wagga Antique Fair, growers markets, the big library book sale, the annual Mg Car Rally, the Junee golf club championships and the elections for local government. When it came time to vote yesterday I must say we were at a loss as to who to vote for, particularly as we had to vote for five people. We voted for Lola because she is the mayor and is a woman (though so is Sarah Palin I believe so that logic could be flawed). Also because her name is Lola, and while she's not a showgirl as Barry Manilow suggests, I do believe that she has judged the Miss Junee Showgirl at the Junee Show. But who else to vote for? For once I actually took the how to vote forms from the masses crowded around the entrance to the hall but did that help? Not a whit! Oh well. In the end I voted for a man (who may or may not have only one arm - this is to be confirmed) who said he wanted to be elected so he could practice his public speaking. Fair enough I say. I think the last Mayor of Wagga has similar aims. I would've thought that he could've joined toastmasters or Rotary but S assured me that they are very selective.
And what other delights have Jack and I sampled? On friday I managed to get the last two tickets to see Dorothy the Dinosaur, which is in a theatre near the markets and the library. I wrangled Jack in and out of the bath, made sure he had a nap so he'd be fresh and ready for Dorothy, gathered our belongings and checked the tickets and oh!!! realised that the show was at 12 and not 1pm as I had thought. So we raced into Wagga and somehow got a park near the theatre, and then dashed into the theatre, but no tickets! no purse! what was I to do? The very nice people must've thought I looked honest (or like a woman on the edge) so they let us into the theatre where we saw the second half of the show. And really that was quite sufficient. It was a bit feral in there (yes, as my mother said, different from Edinburgh) with lots of kids screaming and running around. I thought the kid in front of me had an unfortunate haircut but it just turned out to be a set of genuine Wags the Dog ears. Jack didn't seem to notice the audience, he was focused on the stage and keeping an eye out for Wags. I was keeping an eye out for Captain Feathersword but was disappointed that like Santa, he was not able to make it but had sent along a helper also called Captain Feathersword (here's a photo of the imposter dallying with Dorothy). I'm sorry to say that I never got past that, but Jack enjoyed himself. Almost as much as he enjoyed running around the park and the library afterwards. And the markets and book sale? Finished by the time our show finished. And the purse? Under the seat in the car. I've got tickets for Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat on Tuesday at the same theatre so I'll be double checking the time on those.

Monday, 8 September 2008


Our pine trees died. We weren't really sad about that as we'd never been that attached to them. They were just here when we bought the house along with a lot of other rather english plants that weren't suited to our climate( ie thirsty). But they did look unsightly with all their brown droopy needles.
So we did what any sensible person would do and got a seventy year old neighbour who may or may not be related to me in the way that things work in the country, who happens to be handy with a chainsaw to come and chop them down. It was done very quickly with a minimum of fuss and we've had lots of firewood to keep us warm. The neighbour apparently does this occasionally as well as marking lambs, playing golf and shooting foxes. And yes, I'm aware that certain people may think that's cruel but in one day he has been known to catch over fifty foxes and barely make a dint in the local population.
We have to have a bonfire (or two) to burn out the stumps, so I'm sure we'll be stocking up on marshmallows before we do that. In the meantime they make good seats in the sun.

Storytime in the park

Before we got sick, Jack and I had an impromptu non-gourmet (peanut butter sandwiches, hob nob biscuits and a banana) picnic in the park with the lovely Jeannie and Bella. Jack kicked his ball around and chose not to make any dinosaur noises and Jeannie read him a story, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, such a good book.
I must've taken the photo just as Jeans was making the hoooo-hooo sound.


Jack has some new Pj's which are decorated with camels (sans camel toe though) and are very funny. Mostly due to the target that is sewn on his bum. Wonder what was going through the mind of the designer that day?

Alfresco Jack

The weather has been slowly improving. Still cold at night but so warm during the day. Warmer than an english summer. Jack wants to spend as much time as possible outside running around, kicking his ball, chasing magpies with Lucky and generally inspecting the property.
One day he took his horseriding monkey along for the ride (as you do) providing plenty of photo opportunities.The monkey (hoo hoo hoo as Jack would say) was a present from my mum about 8 months ago. She purchased it from a fab cafe in Coolamon called Ajanta (good cakes and great retail therapy opportunities). Jack has just worked out that if you push it along and the wheels turn the monkey bobs up and down. Previously it was used as a weapon and had been relegated to a high shelf till it could be used without danger.


One of the things I've been doing in the last month was making a quilt (cot size) to go in the Ganmain Show. Well, it was the one hundredth show and I thought why not? For those who are wondering Ganmain is not far from here or Coolamon, Grong Grong or Mattong. That should make things clear.

So I cut and pinned and sewed and made a binding and sewed it on by hand (first time) to have it done in time for the Show and my prearranged drop off. I had to do that because I wouldn't actually be able to go to the Show as it clashed with the Craft Fair in Sydney.

So I finished it with not a moment to spare and dropped it off and headed off to Sydney. It didn't win any prizes but I was quite pleased with it. I'll be selling it at the Cootamundra fair with some others (hopefully!). The tally so far is 5 bags and 1 quilt.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Dinosaur! Grrrrr!

Jack has taken a shine to Peppa Pig, a British cartoon about a piggy family which is very good in that kids love it but there are jokes for parents as well. How else could we put up with watching it 5000 times? He particularly likes it when George (Peppa's brother) holds up his pet dinosaur and says, "Dinosaur! Grrr!"
You can have a look on youtube though this is a whole episode so you only need to watch a bit to get the idea.

Now whenever Jack sees anything that even remotely resembles a dinosaur he does this fantastic growling noise. I filmed him doing it today while he watched the dinosaur song on youtube. It's a bit dark but you get the idea. I love that he doesn't growl at random but usually in time with the chorus.
The new vid is on the sidebar. I believe it's the one at the top, otherwise you can go to this youtube address
Peppa is also the one we blame for encouraging the jumping in muddy puddles (it's Peppa's favourite thing to do).


I stumbled upon Shelfari a while ago and have finally managed to put it on the blog. It is a bookshelf showing what I'm reading at the moment, though I think if you click on it it will also tell you what I have read since the blog started (the list that used to stretch down beside the posts that was let's face it only going to get longer and longer) and also what I'd like to read...happy birthday to me...A good way for me to remember books that I hear about anyway (it sure beats random scraps of paper - though I have a friend whose husband not only pocketed one of those scraps but somehow kept it for years and then tried to buy the books...sadly all out of print) so now I won't be one of those sad people walking into a bookshop saying,"I'm after a book and it's got a red cover..."


Just a note to say sorry that the blog's been a bit quiet but I was struck down with the dreaded lurgy and besides coughing and sneezing I've also gone a bit deaf. Diane said I should take advantage of it while I can but it's not complete silence it's all muffled and distorted like I've been to a foo fighters concert and stood too close to the speakers (again). Anyhoo, it's not that bad, just really really annoying and I'm sure S is sick of hearing about it too.
I am on the road to recovery as today I made two bags so hopefully I'll have more news and photos (of Jack - I mean who are we kidding here?) soon. For now I have to get dinner (mmm...leftovers).
Oh and if anyone has any ideas on how to unblock my ears do let me know.