Sunday, 20 December 2009

Cultural Coffs

Okay, maybe time for a teeny weeny blog. For all the time that S and I have been together (and even before then) I always wanted to stop to look at the Big Banana and S always told me we would on 'the way back'. You see his parent's used to live in Qld and so we'd travel up from Sydney in the holidays. The only flaw in the plan of seeing it on the way back is that there wasn't a turning lane and we always raced on past. I swear the car used to accelerate as we got closer.

And so my desire to go just got more and more intense, particularly coupled with my obsession with kitschy big things. I love them all and the cheesier the better. The Big Banana became my holy grail (having already seen the Big pineapple, earthworm, crayfish, merino and cow). So when S told me we were going to stay in Urunga on the way to QLD I knew I would have to go to the Big B. And we did. And it was spectacularly crappy. The inside of the banana smelt well funny, but I think that was because a man walked through before us and farted. The tours didn't seem to be running and the shop was a compacter's nightmare. The staff unfriendly, though the choc coated banana was alarmingly freudian, but rather tasty. As S complained about the sheer crapulence of the place I told him if he'd taken me years ago I could've got it out of my system.

And of course where do you after such a successful touristy outing? Why the Clog Barn of course. Jack and I wanted to go there for the model trains (photos to follow) and S just wanted to run screaming from the place. Not sure why, maybe he doesn't like clogs.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

I have been terribly remiss in not posting regularly (especially for anyone just busting to know about the reunion and my gangrene - I am so old school I'm practically from the dark ages). It's been a tad busy at our place and we are currently heading north for Christmas and (gulp) about to go offline. I promise there will be lots of posts soon -just as soon as we escape the land of the Johburgers and return to civilisation. Bring on the safari suits and the non ironic prawn cocktails.
Have a very festive season.
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Thursday, 3 December 2009

O christmas tree!

Yesterday Jack and I put up the tree. Unlike the lovely little Christmas DVDs that Jack has been watching this didn't involve us going to a Christmas tree farm and selecting a real, live tree, it meant me going to the spare (aka junk) room and unearthing the fabulous fake tree that I had stored neatly (ie. hurled on top of a big pile of crap). We dusted it off, removed the tinsel, sneezed a bit then started to decorate it.
Jack got very excited and amidst all the "wow!'' and "pretty cool!" started singing his very own version of jingle bells which was so cute I filmed it. Luckily I also captured his tinsel hurling technique (I think he gets that from me).
Last year he was more interested in deconstructing the tree, but this year the decorating was a big deal. Garn gave me all her ornaments so it was lovely to think of her as Jack and I hung pigs and ducks and crocheted snowflakes on the tree.
Jack is asking lots of questions about Christmas and mentions the 'present guy' (aka Santa) all the time. He and S even wrote a letter to Santa asking for 1) a firetruck and 2) a tractor and I think he'd also like a name change. When we ask him what his name is he now says," Jack Thomas Edward Duck Gordon...which for the uninitiated are names of tank engines. He must be very advanced. I didn't try to change my name until I was at least 7 (to Diane!).
The video is below or on youtube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

a new do

The next morning I was getting my haircut and in the nostalgic spirit of the weekend (no, I was not getting a blue rinse or a chignon) I decided to visit my Mum's hairdresser. Why should that be nostalgic? He's been cutting my Mum's hair since I was in high school and he actually used to cut mine. Yes, he was partially to blame for those big boofy hairdos but you know it was the eighties and I was a willing participant. It's only now that I look at the photos and go Ack! See below.
Mum and Dad chauffeured me into to Surry Hills where I had a thoroughly relaxing time chatting to Peter about vampires, posh beckham, gossip girls, salt and pepper tofu and about how completely stupid women's shoes have become. In no time I was transformed with a sleek new do (not a *sniff* 'country' cut as my mother would say) and ready to go for a walk around surry hills (my destination the pocket sized source of delectable baked goods the bourke street bakery).
I asked Peter (or Gareth if he has gone ahead with his threatened name change) if I could take a pic of him for my blog. He demurred, saying"no, no, you don't want to take a photo of me...oh alright" and suddenly there he was oh so casually leaning against the door frame. I took a photo and once he approved it I headed out into the sunshine in search of sourdough and possibly a gumby or two. (I found the bakery but not the gumbys, only some very fetching moomintrolls and some rather ferocious dinosaurs).

blast from the past

I know that you have all been eagerly awaiting news on the reunion. I got a little distracted there for awhile but I'm back now, gangrene free and ready to blog.
I flew up on the Friday before my reunion with my bag crammed full of suitable clothes and goodies from our local licorice factory. I was looking forward to offloading the 3kg box of licorice.
On Friday night Mum and Dad and I were going to an Italian restaurant called Pendolino in the Strand Arcade. My parents went there on a whim recently and rediscovered a family friend called Rafaello. We first met him years ago (when I was in high school) when he was working at Il Perugino and he spilt a coffee on me. Then when he left to start his own restaurant in Paddington, my mother bumped into him when his car broke down and she just happened to be walking past. When I was in Italy (such a long time ago) my parents left a message to call that restaurant (Il Tratt RaRo) one night as they'd be there for dinner. They noticed that there was a flurry of excitement after the phone rang and all the staff were taking it in turns to talk on the phone. It was only when Andre the chef started gesticulating in a way that conveyed a big curly head of hair that my parents twigged it was me on the phone and that they were footing the bill. I do vaguely remember the call. I was just around the corner from the Piazza San Marco in Venice. I'd just received a parcel from my parents (pre email and blogs) including a very funny leunig cartoon about Helen Demidenko.
I was supposed to visit Rafaello's mum in Italy but overcome with shyness never made the call. Consequently I spent my whole trip carrying around the handtowels that Garn had crocheted for me to give to Senora Pignetti and brought them home with me. I did end of visiting the lovely Luisa in Milan and had a lovely time. Here brother owns a deli in Mosman. Is there a recurring theme here?
After my parents serendipitous rediscovery of Rafaello, we all decide that the next time I visited that we should go to Pendolino. Of course to catch up with Rafaello, but I was also excited about the food (I'd heard good things) and the olive oil.
I was not disappointed in either. After giving Rafaello a surprise we were seated and given a little lamp to help us in the ambient low lighting. Three kinds of olive oil and bread were placed on the table. Before the reunion I had been on the south beach diet (yes I know that that is crazy) and I hadn't had any bread or pasta (or sugar or alcohol) for weeks. The bread was delicious (though I was afraid I might puff up like a balloon as soon as those carbs hit my system) and the olive oils divine. I particularly liked the olive oil with blood orange and we decided to purchase a bottle to take home with us. After much agonising we made our selection, Rafaello chose our wine and we were enjoying a beautiful meal. Our favorite dish (which we all ordered) was the handmade duck ravioli with proscuitto and orange.
In spite of all my hard work at the gym and dieting I was very keen to have dessert. Surely with only a day to go I'd be okay. Several desserts were taking my fancy and Dad was doing his usual 'I just want ice cream' tantrum (so unbecoming). Rafaello decreed that he should have the semifreddo (which is after all an ice cream of sorts) and agreed that of he didn't like it that he would bring hm gelati. Mum and I ended of sharing a chocolatre fondant (which always reminds me of Gary on Masterchef saying to crushed contestants,"Is it a chocolate it a yummy chocolate pudding...yes" thanks Gary) and Buffalo Milk Ricotta Fritters with sour cherry ice cream. They were fantastically scrumptious. The chocolate fondant was of course wonderful but the fritters were unusual and moreish, particularly with that ice cream. And the semifreddo? I only got to try a little bit because in spite of the tantrums my father somehow managed to eat it and his gelato. After a lively conversation with some reluctant Queenslanders at the next table and acquiring our oil we went home feeling very pleased with ourselves.
btw according to my parent's wacky scales I actually lost weight after our meal at Pendolino.
Could the desserts have had negative calories? They certainly felt like they were doing me good.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

And another birthday

On Sunday another someone special had his birthday. And he got two bones and an extra special dinner. And extra pats from Jack.

Happy birthday lucky dog.

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

The gee -gees

Last Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day, so of course I wore a hat to work. Actually I so enjoy wearing them that I took spares for co-workers to wear too. Amy wore this fab pink number that Jack rather likes to wear when he's dancing. This became obvious when as I handed it to Amy I noticed some peanut butter smears along the rim. She wore it nevertheless and looked smashing or as one library patron exclaimed, "Gorgeous!"When it came time for the race we gathered around the telly and I handed out my spares. Jen wore a tiara (nice), Helen wore the cowboy hat and Brian wore the Pirate hat. Then after three and a bit minutes the race finished and some of us took off our hats and we all went back to work.
I must say people may be a tad worried because that was my third day back at the library and out of those days I'd worn some sort of headgear on two. Well, you have to wear a hat on Melbourne Cup Day and as for Halloween, I went low key and wore cat ears and handed out chocolate eyeballs. Delicious.

Another Birthday

On Saturday there was another special birthday for a friend that is roughly the same age as the Caterpillar (give or take ten years). I met Louise when I was working a the bookshop and it was always such a relief to have her visit with her warped sense of humour and hilarious anecdotes. I really have no idea how we got any work done at all.
We got her invite and I arranged a babysitter (thanks Diane) and S and I togged up and went out. And it was great. I got a few photos after the speeches and before the cake and in between two renditions of happy birthday, one for Louise and the other for her Dad who is ninety. I also made her this as a present which she thought was hilarious.

I think she's taking it to melbourne next weekend to go shopping. As you do.

Pillar Party

Last Friday we travelled into Wagga to go to a very special birthday. The Very Hungry Caterpillar turned forty. There must be botox or something involved because he's aged very well. Wagga library had a special storytime in the gardens, where Michael, Nerida and Kim worked their usual magic (they are so good). At one stage Jack started to cry and I wondered what he was fussing about - tired? cranky? Turned out a fly flew up his nose and I only know that because he sneezed it out about four hours later - ugh.
After the stories there were glorious platters of fresh fruit (not the naughty foods that also feature in the book) and games but the play equipment (particularly the swing) beckoned.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is so clever in a really simple way. It's only after reading it about a gazillion times like I have that you begin to appreciate the colours, the counting, the nutritional education (and the benefits of a detox) and entomology. Obviously Jack agrees because when we came home I had to read it again and again and again. And then he told everyone about the 'Pillar Party' he'd been to.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Reunion Mosman High 1989 (yes, twenty years ago)

My reunion is looming - just over a week away and I have mixed feelings about going. It will be nice to catch up with some people but...
My curiosity is just too great to stay away.
I had a bit of a preview in October when I caught up with a schoolfriend Nick and his lovely wife Katherine in Sydney. They live in England so Nick (aka Sooty) won't be coming but I will be his eyes and ears. I forgot to take a photo of Nick for the blog (too busy talking) so I've got one from our year 12 formal.Nick is posing with Lindy Edwards. She is on the missing in action list. It's quite large list and some people that I'd really like to see (or see how they turned out) are on that list.
In the vain hope that in the next few days those people may google themselves and say,"Reunion! fantastic!" I'm putting their names on here with an email address to get in contact with the reunion organisers at
Michaela Bennett, Karl brennan, Yvonne Chan, Jeffrey Dalton, Tim Duguid (aka Lantern?), Lindy Edwards, David Fletcher, Amanda Goode, Melissa Hall, Michelle Hampton, Tim Haughan, Cathrynne Henshall, Shelley Hill, Anthony Ho, Samantha Ingle, Rachel Kalcher, Lee Kerr, Elias Khedi, Raymond Mulcahy, Jason Murphy, Craig Miles, Sara Norris, Campbell Patterson, Ian Phillips, Mandeep Rana, Anthony Saunders, Michael Shitab, Lisa Sniderman, Mike Serio, Paul Sorensen, David Stein, Karyn Stockley, dave Thornett, Simona Thornett, Bernard Webber, Ben Wong, Hyun-Jung Yi and Julian Young.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A correction and a word of advice

On saturday evening I drove back to the showground to pick up my entries, my certificates and my winnings (I should've taken the armoured car). The Pavilion was abuzz with people doing the same. I decided to get my sewing first. The Head stewardess said, "Oh darling! We loved your bag. Do me a favour next year enter eight more things!" I think she was channelling Jeannie Little but I was nevertheless quite chuffed until I heard her saying the same thing to someone else.
I walked over to the cookery section to pick up my sadly unloved cake. A woman there seemed to feel it was vital that she told me what the judge had said, so much so that when her phone rang and I tried to make my escape, she grabbed my wrist and would not let go. I gave in and waited but I did get some funny looks. Was I an apprehended cake thief?
She told me that my presentation had let me down (Hmm? Didn't they notice my fancy plastic plate?) but that the cake did taste good. So they do taste the cakes, that's a relief. They take a tiny little sliver out, like a core sample of earth. You can sort of see it here. It's like the slice of cake Posh would cut if she was on a food binge. Apparently the issue with mine was the crack. I had a feeling about that when I made it but then aren't all cakes baked in loaf tins supposed to have a crack, especially lemon syrup cakes so all the lemony goodness can soak into the cake? I think next year I'll try something else instead of just cooking it ten degrees lower as she suggested.
I then picked up my winnings. Six dollars and then splurged on a DVD for S for the night.
By this stage the cake was a bit dried out, but you know it's cake so I cut a piece for Jack for morning tea. He turned to me and said, "This cake is old Mummy."
Everyone's a critic!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Showtime again!

Hard to believe that it's been a year since we went to the Junee show. After the confusion of last year, I swore that I would be prepared with my entries but yet again it was a last minute rush. The information in the booklet is kind of confusing (though me getting a booklet is progress) so I called one of the stewardesses but that just left me more confused. In the end I called the show office and placed my entries by phone with a woman who sounded a little bit scary. On Thursday night, after my first day back at work what was I doing? Putting my feet up, having a glass of wine? I was making Garn's lemon cake to enter in the Cake - any variety section. My taste testers gave it the thumbs up but I was worried that it didn't look like show quality. The thing with baking for shows is that the cake or biscuit or baked item is cut in half and ogled from every angle but nary a crumb passes the lips of the judges. Put salt in the cake instead of sugar? No problem. Biscuits taste like poo? As long as they look good, well you get the idea. It seems crazy to me, but then so is the thought of all those nice cakes sitting there going stale.
Early on Friday morning I dropped off my entries (a cake, a cot quilt, a bag and a little green monkey). In the pavilion, pandemonium was the order of the day and as I waited I caught a glimpse of some of the amazing creations.
When we told Jack we were going to the show, he thought we meant a show on stage like Thomas, so we explained that there would be rides and animals. When we parked the car and he glimpsed the showground he exclaimed,"party!party!" a much better way of describing it.
The first thing Jack spotted was a Thomas show bag, but we told him we'd come back after the rides. S thought Jack would like a go on the big slide. We paid the money and Jack hopped on. Then he looked up and turned around and hopped off again. The guy kindly gave us our money back and suggested some smaller rides. I can understand his reluctance - look how high it is. We saw a big caterpillar thing and thought Jack might like that. Does anyone else find it weird that you enter through the caterpillar's bum? He disappeared inside and we could catch glimpses of him some of the time but at others we weren't sure where he was. Pretty soon I could hear a plaintive little voice coming out of the grub's bum wanting out. He tried another slide and seemed to have more luck with that. Then he tried this ride and this one, which he really enjoyed. Then he had a go at those clown thingies, but we chose the (slightly) less traumatising version that had Mickey mouse and friends. He also tried his luck at this fishing game and won a small plastic truck that fell apart after exactly 3 seconds and a spongebob squarepants ball. Then, in danger of burning through all our dosh we decided to look in the pavilion. We searched and searched for my cake and finally found it shoved into a corner. We admired the fruit and veggie creations made by local kids and then we checked out the sewing. I was wondering if yours is the only entry in a category if you automatically get first prize (like some restaurant reviewing that I do) as S had suggested last year when I won first prize for chocolate muffins. Lo and behold there was my quilt with a first prize certificate and my bag and my monkey! Three firsts!Talk about your cup running over. I took some photos, but the bars hindered any good shots (that's my excuse anyway).
My friend and blogger Amy arrived with her kids and we were introduced as Jack and Mr and Mrs D. After we stopped looking for my in-laws (though I've never heard them called that) we realised that was us. I'd been thinking about this lately, when talking to Jack about my friend's or his friend's mums. Do I call them Mrs ..... like my parents always taught me to or do I go with first names. I'm not sure how I feel about being called Mrs D (old?) but I can understand where Amy is coming from - teaching her kids to be polite. After each ride we made Jack thank the operator and I have to say they looked surprised.
We ducked back into the pavilion to admire the cakes (and saw some we missed the first time). Jack spotted this one (I can't imagine why) and we also admired (tittered) over these ones (Amy had to explain to me that this one was a butterfly). I'm not sure about this one but does it have boobs? Then we walked past the beautifully fragrant roses to have a look at the wool and wheat and drawings. By this stage Toby was very keen to go on a ride, so we decided to do just that. We toyed with the idea of the trampolines but then settled on the dodgems. At first it looked like it would just be the 3 cars with Jack, S, Amy, Bethany, Toby and Jossie, (I was fulfilling my role as official blog photographer) but then people appeared from everywhere and all of a sudden the gentle little spin around the floor became very bumpy. Jack's initial smiles disappeared after some not so accidental collisions and so he and S made a hasty retreat. Amy and her crew battled on, turning in circles and having a ball.

Jack's tears were quickly stopped with the purchase of an ice cream and a freddo bag (don't worry the freddos will be rationed out over the next two weeks). The kids all had an ice cream and Amy and S and I (in spite of our diets) got a sausage sandwich. Mindful of my reunion related dieting regime S suggested we share one (outrageous!) but then when I saw that the sanger consisted of not one but two slices of bread and two sausages I had to concede that it may have been the better option. Amy even stopped to take a photo of hers for her blog and we joked that Lorraine from the food blog notquitenigella would be jealous. If you want to see a pic have a look at Amy's blog. Somehow we managed to eat them all and then we admired the baby animals (ferrets!) and vintage cars and then we called it a day, leaving Amy and her clan to enjoy the Beaut Ute competitions and all the other delights of the Junee show that lay in store for them.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

New wheels!

Even though certain people think we live high on the hog with our seared salmon or our lamb backstraps we actually lead a pretty simple life. We don't want to end up with a bratzilla so we joined the library and the toy library and encourage Jack not to be grabby (though when it comes to chocolate...).Last Saturday as we were driving into Coolamon to go to the library and Ajanta cafe we noticed a garage sale, and then another one. It turned out that the GIANT COOLAMON GARAGE SALE was on and we were in luck. As we drove past a house we noticed some bikes for sale, including a small one that would be perfect for you know who. We stopped the car and went to investigate.
The bike was an amazing $5 and Jack couldn't wait to get home and try it (though saying that he still had time for cake). We bought trainer wheels yesterday, but in the meantime we took turns pushing it and he loved it yelling out, "Again! again!"