Friday, September 29, 2006

wallaby rissoles anyone?

Personally I dislike convenience food.

I would rather walk home in the rain without a coat than resort to cooking from packets and jars. OK, maybe that was an exaggeration, but it conveys my abhorence of plastic food - I like cooking from scratch with wholesome, real ingredients. (I come from a long line of supercooks, so I have a lot to live up to)

There's just one problem with all of that. I work, and every now and then I come home too exhausted to even look at a saucepan, leave alone use one to create a culinary delight. Then and only then do I resort to pasta sauce from a bottle... It's edible. If I can find the energy to add a few vegies and a tin of tuna it works wonders in the taste department and is even more edible.

Well tonight I found a solution to my can't-be-bothered-cooking woes: convenience food that tastes great and might even be healthy!

Wallaby rissoles.

Yeah I know. Those cute, cuddly little wallabies... how could we even consider eating them? Well let me tell you, they taste delicious! And the meat is lean and healthy compared to other red meat. You can't go wrong.

I found these culinary delights at a shop called 'Casalinga'. The owner has always dreamed of owning his own butchers where he could sell gourmet sausages that he makes himself. Recently he bought this store and started producing sausages to his heart's content. I went in the other day and tasted some of their cabana... I had no idea cabana could taste so good, having only ever experienced the supermarket variety. When I spied their rissoles, I decided that if they were as good as the cabana I was going to have to go back.

So tonight I toddled in, made my purchase and came home to cook. The excitement in the air was palpable... not bad for a Friday night at the end of a long week in which Frank and I have both caught nasty colds. The rissoles sizzled in the pan as I threw together some vegies before the moment of truth. The first taste.

Ooooooh. Delicious. Delightful. Delectable. Were these rissoles maybe made in heaven? I might have thought so, except I'm not convinced that cute, cuddly wallabies will come to such a grizzly end in heaven!

Wherever they were made, these were seriously good rissoles. Convenience food at it's best.

So no more slaving over a hot stove for me! 'Casalinga' here I come for ready-made rissoles. I'm almost looking forward to being exhausted after work again, just so I can get some more.

...then again, it just doesn't seem right to cook from a plastic bag...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

in the kitchen

I've just cooked another cake - I love cooking cakes!

Today I made a Hazelnut Chocolate Cake from the Woman's Weekly "Quick-Mix Cakes" book. (Thanks Mum - I make a couple of cakes a week and nearly always use that book!) Yummy, yummy.

The good thing is that I don't have to eat the cake - Frank does. So I can have the pleasure of cooking without moments on the lips converting to lifetimes on the hips. Thankfully the moment on the mut doesn't seem to convert to lifetime on the gut for Frank either, so it's all good.

The Kenwood is going well, though if it was designed to save me time in the kitchen, it's a dead loss. I'm so fascinated with the whole idea of something else doing the hard work that I stand and watch. It's like I've regressed to childhood - standing there gawping as the 'planetary K beater' does its thing. I love it!

Question. This recipe used nutella and sour cream... does that mean I can use sour milk in a recipe and it will still taste OK? Our milk seems to go sour well before its use by date, and try as I might, I rarely use it all in time. What to do with sour milk? There's only so many scones you can make and eat. Is it feasible to use this milk in cakes? If you know the answer, please leave a comment!

delightful rain

As I write, dark rain clouds are looming, threatening to rain down on us. How exciting!

Usually winter is the wet season here, and last August we had the biggest floods in thirty years. Not this year - Tasmania has had it's driest winter on record. And I hadn't even realised.

All eyes have been on the mainland, with predictions of the worst drought on record, debate over water recycling and reports of towns running out of water before summer even arrives. I totally missed that Tasmania is also in drought - we seem to be the lushest, greenest state most of the time.

But now there are rain clouds hovering. These aren't the first. We've had night time rains for almost a week now... not that they did much at first. Strong winds whipped the moisture away almost immediately. Then came Sunday - it rained most of the day. Beautiful soaking rain. You could almost hear the earth sucking up the moisture. Slurp!

I didn't run outside and dance in it, though I kind of wish I had. I'm feeling a bit crusty and dry on the inside and could do with a good soak. Time to jump into God's shower of love I think, and soften up my hard places until I become a nice person again.

cyber snub

The world of blogging can be terribly harsh.

I've been so excited by all this - writing down random thoughts and events, growing deeper as a person as I reflect on innumerable small blessings, reading other people's blogs and venturing into the world of cyber friendships.

But it's a harsh world out there and I have been snubbed. Sitemeter has revealed the truth.

One day I followed a link and discovered another woman who had listed 'grocery shopping' as one of her interests. She was being sarcastic, but curiosity got the better of me and I found my way to her blog. It interested me enough to keep going back, so I popped in and out of her cyber home, reading bits and pieces about her life (does this border on voyeurism?). One day she installed sitemeter and discovered she had an Australian reader. "Drop a comment," she said, "we'd love to know who you are!" So I did. I left a small comment explaining how I came to read her blog. I left a couple of other comments a few days later, and she ended up visiting my blog and leaving a comment there. My first real cyber space friend (most of you I know in real life, so you don't count!).

Shortly after this I installed sitemeter on my own blog. (beware - you are being watched! That's if I can work out who you are from the random locations logged!) And my cyber friend has not returned to my blog since this time! I have remained faithful and read her news, but she has not read mine. Is my blog not interesting enough? Is my life so boring she can't bear to read it? (Maybe she's just so busy she doesn't have time to read the blogs of virtual strangers!) I have been snubbed in cyber space.

Then there are the people who have asked questions on my blog - but never come back to read my answer. Or those blogs that have numerous readers leaving endless comments, while one faithful friend comments on mine. Sob... (can you hear the violins)... I just can't bear it. The pain is too much. Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.

Oh OK, it's not that bad. I admit it's crazy expecting people to keep up with someone they don't know on the other side of the world and I have plenty of real life friends so what's the loss of a cyber pal here and there? But is my blog really that sad - or is it just plain sad to invest so much emotion in a virtual world? Hmmmm.

beauty in the detail

The other day I discovered that pittosporum trees have flowers. I've always thought they were a fairly nondescript tree, their value being quick growth that provides an excellent screen (you can see how our neighbours backyard is pretty well screened out here!). Not the kind of thing that makes me love a tree. I like the noble oak or lush chestnut myself - the pittosporum does little for me.

Until I discovered their flowers! Tiny, dark purple flowers that bloom along the whole branch. Frank has since informed me that these flowers develop into berries. I had no idea that they even existed!

I wonder how often I do that in life - drift along through tedious days, completing endless duties and meeting nondescript people, all the while missing the detail each contains?

Too often I suspect. Right now I feel like I've been sucked into a vortex of busyness. I can't cope with the details of everything that is going on, so I screen it all out and focus on the broad picture. Sadly, I miss the beauty in the detail.

Time to get off the merry-go-round, breathe deeply and savour the detail of life and the beauty it reveals!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

big weekend

What a weekend! Doesn't come anywhere near our trip to Swansea, but still a big weekend with lots going on.

It was our church anniversary - five years! Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like much when compared to other churches that have been around forever, but we're proud of it. Some pretty rough stuff happenned along the way, but we still made it to five years in (almost) one piece. Yay.

That kind of event has to be celebrated, so we devoted two days to the affair, beginning yesterday afternoon with a bush dance. We danced the day away before enjoying a meal and slide show together. (For once I took real homecooked food instead of ducking over to the supermarket for last minute sausage rolls - sweet potato frittata, which provided variety in a table full of shepherd's pie!)

This morning we sang praise and thanks to God for getting us this far, built a pile of stones to remind ourselves of his goodness, and thought about the importance of moving forward. Then we ate cake! Shaped-like-a-church cake. Yummo. And played games like pass the parcel and team pictionary. And ate more cake. It was good. Exhausting, but good.

Now I just need another weekend to recover!
It's a good thing that anniversaries only happen once a year!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

blogging changed my life

Doesn't that title sound just like a 'That's life' heading?! ['That's life' is a trashy Australian magazine full of ridiculous real life stories] Well this, my friend, is better than any 'That's life' article you have ever read!

Yesterday I realised that I am not depressed anymore! Not even a little bit!

Two years ago I was so depressed I didn't care if I didn't wake up in the morning. Now I love life and look forward to fitting as much as possible in every day... I put this down to blogging. Oh, and spiritual direction! And ultimately God...

So yesterday afternoon I went to my spiritual director. I go every month or so and review life and the issues I am facing. Then I identify where I think God is at work, or speaking to me. Then I plan how I will spend time with God and listen for his voice over the next month. Throughout the session the spiritual director asks pointed questions that help me process all of this.

At first these sessions were one big dump - this is hard, that is hard, I can't cope, where is God, what should I do, on and on and on. Gradually I've been identifying just where God is working
in me and my situation.

Along the way I have experienced God breaking into my world, sometimes quite dramatically. Now almost everywhere I look I see him at work. It truly is a delight.

So where does blogging fit in? I love sharing my life with the world (or at least imagining I am - I don't get so many hits as all that!) so I gaze around all day wondering what might be a 'blogworthy' event or thought. Sad, very sad I know... I'm just slightly obsessed. Frank has become a blogging widower and I have lost my moral high ground in claiming to be a football widow. It's a good thing blogging has helped to change my life!

As I have gazed around wondering what might be blogworthy, I have discovered God in a myriad of places - he's literally everywhere, speaking, working, blessing. It's amazing and I am overwhelmed by his love and interest. Who can be depressed when every day holds multiple treasures from God?

Thankyou blogging, and thankyou spiritual direction for helping me to see how much I have.
And thanks God that I'm not depressed anymore - it's great!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

happiness is...

It's superficial, it's trite, but these things brought me happiness yesterday:

New flywire doors! The sun was shining, insects were buzzing. It was a perfect day! And when it's perfect outside you just have to bring some of it inside - throw open the windows and doors! What you don't want to bring inside are those buzzing insects. Fix in place some flywire doors for the perfect solution - which is exactly what Frank did.

He has been industriously constructing these doors and attached them yesterday - perfect timing for a perfect day! Thankyou Frank.

A Kenwood Kitchen Chef! Courtesy of wedding gifts. (Thanks guys) Yay, no more mixing cakes by hand - I never can get them to be smooth looking like the recipe demands! I can even make frosted icing now. Just too exciting - though I have to admit I like my cake-mixing toned arms! (The mixer works a treat - Spicy Ginger Cake produced to rave reviews. By myself anyway!)

A washing trolley!

For months I've been lugging heavy baskets of clothes to and from the line... but no more! I now have a basket to do the lugging for me. How good is that?? Pretty good I think!

That's my trite and superficial list... I realise that many people don't have the opportunity to experience any of this, and that serious, terrible things are happenning around the world and these things pale in comparison but...

Friday, September 15, 2006

better than a shopping spree

I'm still deciding if I love it when the Bible says something relevant to my life or not - it isn't always nice or easy to take. Like this reading from Psalm 4 (in the Message).
How long will you live crazed by illusion?

Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more," they say.
"More, more."
I have God's more-than-enough,
More joy in one ordinary day
Than they get in all their shopping sprees.
At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.
This was particularly confronting because two nights ago I went to a Laura Benini shoe party. Oh la la! These leather shoes were just beautiful! The idea is to choose a style you like, then you select the colour and style of the leather and five weeks later you receive your custom made shoes. Add in the comfort factor and you have an irrisistable combination! I saw about seven styles I liked, but I restrained myself and only ordered two pairs. (that sounds a lot better than telling you how much I spent!)

How to get at least one more pair without spending too much money? Have my own party of course! A friend from work and I decided to co-host and if enough shoes were sold, we could both get some free shoes. Not bad.

Not bad - until I got home! Frank was less than happy to host such a party in our house.

One, how many pairs of shoes do I need? (Such a boy question!)
Two, do I really think it is OK to use my friends to get more shoes (that I don't really need)?

I talked breezily about how a girl always needs more shoes, and it wasn't using friends, it was giving them the opportunity to share in a wonderful product.

And then God spoke - about illusions, and shopping sprees and about him being more-than-enough. I just can't argue with that - he is more than enough and I don't really need those sexy little shoes. (where would I wear them anyway?!)

So that is the end of Cecily's shoe party. Sigh. But God is my more-than-enough so that's OK!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

fascinating fennel

My love affair with fennel is continuing... I bought some more. Not because I want to be a posh grocery store snob this time. Just because I've decided it is a fascinating vegetable that somehow doesn't seem like a vegetable but is a vegetable. It sat in the fridge the same as the last fennel while I deliberated over how to cook it, until yesterday I found another recipe and cooked it up. Yummo! It tasted delicious, so I have to share.

Fennel and Lentil Bake (doesn't that sound SOOOOO delicious!)

40g butter
one medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
180g lentils
400ml water
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
450g fennel
bread crumbs
grated cheese

  1. melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until soft
  2. add the bay leaf, lentils and water and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender and gold coloured, remove the bay leaf
  3. add the lemon juice and salt and pepper, and blend lentil mixture until smooth
  4. meanwhile, chop the fennel bulb roughly, saving some small leaves
  5. microwave or steam fennel until just tender
  6. transfer fennel to shallow, greased baking dish and pour lentil mixture over the top
  7. sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese over the dish
  8. bake in 200C oven (preheated of course!) for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown
  9. eat and enjoy
When I removed the bay leaf, I realised it was a kaffir lime leaf. Still tasted good. I couldn't smell if they were bay leaves or not, so I put one in anyway. Obviously my sense of smell leaves a lot to be desired!

Monday, September 11, 2006

not enough containers (or 'someone's gotta do it')

Frank and I have just returned from a wonderful weekend away!

We have an arrangement that every few months we will make time to relax together, taking it in turns to organise the whole event. We've had two romantic escapes now - I organised a weekend in Cygnet in May, while Frank was in charge of arranging this weekend. For weeks he's been playing "pick the destination" games, always finishing by informing me we were going camping on the South West Coast. I was fairly confident he was leading me down a garden path but I couldn't quite pick where we would end up - it could have been any one of hundreds of delightful Tassie locations!

And did he ever blow me away! We ended up staying at Piermont Retreat, just south of Swansea. It was breathtaking. Truly breathtaking! The whole weekend was a gift.

We stayed in a seaside spa cottage with a 'neutral magnetic field' designed to encourage rest (it seemed to work for us anyway!). The cottage was delightful - polished wooden floors, open fireplace, leather lounge suite, cathedral ceilings, dishwasher, enormous spa. Sound heavenly? That's just the cottage, wait until you hear the rest!

Step outside and there was the beach just 100 metres away. Delightful sand, fascinating shells, smooth stones, delicate pinky mauve seaweed (plus plenty of ugly bull kelp), pretty pink flowers. On Saturday we walked along the beach in the wind and showery rain, drinking in the beauty - there we were, right on nature's doorstep. Bliss.

But wait, there's more!

The beach opened out onto Great Oyster Bay, which lies between Swansea and Freycinet National Park. On the other side of the Bay were the Hazards, an enormous outcrop of granite rock (visible in the first two photos). They hovered on the horizon, sometimes lost in the mist of sea rain, and sometimes so clear it seemed we could almost reach out and touch them. As the sun moved across the sky, and the clouds came and went, we saw the Hazards dressed in their many moods. Our favourite was when a rainbow draped itself across the mountain.

Just when we felt our hearts could not hold any more happiness and delight, the seagulls came out to play! These gulls were enormous, and each dusk they came out to engage in an evening feeding frenzy. They would soar over the water, rise slightly and then plunge into the waves to collect their dinner. Over and over scores of birds dive bombed into the water one after the other, with the Hazards providing a stunning backdrop. It was incredible, and I just stood amazed while time stood still.

On Saturday morning I was reading Romans 5 in The Message and I found this (v3-5):
We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit. (emphasis added)
That's how I felt this weekend - life isn't perfect, but here was a moment full of so much joy and pleasure that I can't round up enough containers to hold it all! Tiny flowers in the grass, anemones in the rock pools, graceful water birds rising above the water, loving husband who spoiled me... words cannot capture how beautiful this weekend has been. I am in awe that God would pour out so much blessing on me. What a wonderful, restoring, inspiring weekend.

Thankyou God (and thankyou Frank! You scored big time!)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

just a minor detail ...

Two Saturdays ago Frank and I went for a drive along the Tamar River. It has to be one of my favourite places in Tasmania - which is why we got married along the Tamar in January!

Our wedding was nearly eight months ago (I know - unbelieveable isn't it) so we decided it was high time we went and personally thanked the people who helped make our day special. Armed with yummy chocolates we headed north and before long (courtesy of a business quote) we ended up at Green's Beach.

Frank and I love relaxing together at Green's Beach, so we took the time to stroll along the sand, bracing ourselves against the bighting wind. Cold wind aside, it was wonderful to be outside enjoying some fresh air and engaging with nature instead of being stuck between four walls. We took great delight in searching out the most beautiful stones and shells on the beach, watching the waves come in and drinking in the beauty of God's creation.

As we walked we had to be careful exactly where we placed our feet, since September sees Green's Beach turn into a breeding ground for the Pied Oystercatcher. Apparently these birds 'build' nests in the sand and lay their eggs - the only problem being that they are pretty makeshift nests that are easy to miss and step on. Everyone is asked to walk close to the waterline. We didn't see any eggs and I don't think we accidently stepped on any! But we did see a Pied Oystercatcher couple - they could even have been courting since they ran shyly away from us!

Follow this link to read more about Pied Oystercatchers (since I can't work out how to incorporate a photo from the webpage at this exact point in my discourse!):


After an icecream (yes, it was freezing, but it just isn't a proper trip to Green's Beach without an icecream!), we hopped back in the car and continued on to make our thanks known. Koukla's Cafe at Gravelly Beach was first. We handed over the chocolates, and they handed back thanks for being such a calm bride! An obligatory raspberry sundae later, and we were on our way to Freshwater Point Homestead to catch up with Michelle and Rob who had so graciously hosted our wedding affair.

Except the roadsigns pointing the direction were gone, the gates were locked, no one was home. We were left standing with a spare box of chocolates on our hands - and after an icecream and sundae, it just was not advisable for us to consume them as well! How disappointing. Our drive home was filled with regret that we were not able to say thanks.

On arriving home I set to investigating exactly what had happenned. The answering machine still played Michelle's voice, but she never called back. Next stop, the internet, source of all knowledge! Aha... the official website informed me that stage 2 of renovations were underway, and Freshwater would be closed until 2007. Great to know, but how could we pass on our thanks to Michelle and Rob? I sighed deeply, and asked that God might help us to reestablish contact with them.

And he heard my prayer! This week Frank was out shopping when he bumped into somebody he knew - Michelle! She gave Frank their new phone number and address, and we'll be able to catch up, eat chocolate and look at photos together! Isn't that a perfect ending to the story? I'm just amazed at God's interest in the little details of my life. Thankyou God!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

upstanding member of society

I'm patting myself on the back for being an upstanding member of society!

As I was walking home from work today I (again) slipped into a pleasant reveree. The sun was shining and warming my skin, and just being away from work made me feel good. Ahhh.

Suddenly I was jangled out of my said reveree by the sound of metal on metal. "Oh no! An accident!" I cried out internally. But no, there was no sign of an accident. Instead the road was littered with several large pieces of metal, some of them mangled from their fall off a truck. Two pieces lay directly in the path of one lane of traffic, and another was perched on the traffic island. Cars were edging their way timidly through the intersection trying to avoid the debri. It was an accident waiting to happen.

I sped up my pace, came inside and phoned the police. They said thanks - actually I'm not sure that they did say thanks... he was a bit short and sounded resigned to the need to send a car out to investigate. But I still hung up the phone feeling great about my good deed for society!

(I've just told Frank and I feel somewhat deflated now, as he asked why I didn't remove the rods myself! I have defended myself strongly, stating that I would have risked life and limb to venture into the middle of the road! Everyone was still driving straight through and I feel the police were definitely needed to stop the traffic. Humph - so much for feeling great about my good deed!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

staid and stodgy

Yesterday I was awakened to the fact that I am stodgy and staid. I am still trying to come to turns with this in my mind. It is not easy.

I was walking home from work at about 4pm, and a gentle rain was falling. (Thankyou God for gentle rain - this has been the driest winter on record in Tasmania) I pulled my hood up, tucked my chin in and set my nose in the direction of our dry, comforting abode. The pitter patter of the rain served to settle my mind after a particularly busy day and so I shut the rest of the world out and let my mind wander (to everything I had to do this weekend but never mind).

Well, I walked along and tried to shut the rest of the world out! My reveree was rudely broken by the broooom of a car engine and the squeal of tyres. I roled my eyes at the piece of testosterone racing up the street and thought less than gracious thoughts about idiot boys who drive like crazies.

Gradually the rain did its soothing work and my mind settled back into its reveree.
BROOOOM, squeeeeeal
Unbelievable! Another testosterone rev-head raced past.
Broooom, squeeeeeeal
Again!! By the time I arrived home, more than five cars had squealed past me. Every testosterone crazed male in the city seemed to be out!

I'm not quite vain enough to think they were engaging in an ancient courting ritual to get my attention. I suppose it might be possible, but honestly, my uniform just isn't that glam! And if they were trying to impress, they were going about it completely the wrong way. I'm a nurse. I care for patients who have suffered severe injuries in car accidents. Some of them have survived but someone else in their car was killed. Some of them were the victims of other drivers who thought they could outwit Tasmania's narrow, winding roads only to drive straight into my patient's car. I do not find any of this amusing. In fact I find it quite tragic. If everyone would just slow down there would be a lot less car accidents.

(Getting off my soapbox and returning to the story...)

So there I was walking home in the rain while crazy boys used the wet conditions to fishtail up the street - for goodness sake! It's raining! Rain = increased danger = time to slow down.

No? Am I wrong here? Have I missed something? Is it suddenly safe to swing from one side of the road to the other in the rain? What is going on?

Suddenly it hit me. I am staid and stodgy.

C'mon Cecily - these are just young guys looking for a cheap thrill! Give them a break! Follow them with your eyes as they whiz past. Smile indulgently at their youth and exuberance. Wish them well. Stop expecting them to think beyond the moment. Allow them the freedom to express their delight at the rain in their own way. Don't force everyone to conform to your own way of thinking! Don't be so sensible for once.

So there you have it. Staid and stodgy. Thinking like an old woman. Scary! I think I need to put a stop to this and go and do something particularly youthful. Any ideas out there?!