A Parenting Mistake Of Sorts

When my youngest daughter was transitioning from Primary to High School I made a massive mistake in gifting her the book, 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.

Why was this a mistake? Because both our lives became book-centric involving visits to book sales and secondhand outlets in search of the books on The List. It became our” thing”. My child is the one you see lugging a suitcase on the train to enable her to bring purchases home from the Lifeline Bookfest. Her greatest joy comes from spreading her purchases on the floor all around her, similar to how we emptied the contents of our Easter Showbags all those years ago and sat enthralled as we surveyed all that was on offer.

She’s been home these last few days and is still chasing books from The List. Plus, thanks to the ABC television program of late last year we are now also chasing the books from The Books That Made Us.

Cat Balou’s time in Qld went all too quickly and we’ve cooked together, chatted non stop, laughed, and drank coffee ( as well as lots of bubbly things). Walking home from a Cafe one morning she spotted a table on someone’s front lawn with a sign advertising Free Books. Move over Cathy Freeman – I’ve never seen anyone move so fast! Another twenty books for the Little Community Library. Excellent work.

We walked up to the Little Community Library one afternoon where she of course insisted on alphabetising the contents. She also located another entry from The Books That Made Us compilation which she celebrated like a medal winner on the Olympic podium.

The local Op Shop was another adventure (because Mo, I need a book for the plane ) where said child, 34 years of age, located yet another read from The List. WOW, this is turning into an exciting holiday, she says. Only 300 more books to locate.

This is one happy daughter.

Until she spots a lone book on a display shelf.

Mo, have you been donating any books here, she asks. Yes, Cat Balou, sometimes I do that. Books are meant to go round.

Mo, she says, Mo, is that my book that I lent you and asked you to return before Christmas? And is that my copy of the Booker Prize winner you were supposed to send to my sister for Christmas?

An expensive little visit to the charity store as I was required to buy back many of the books I had donated in recent months.

My payback came when reminding her that a new edition of the 1001 Books had been recently published adding almost an extra 100 newer novels since her copy was released twenty years ago. More books to collect, kiddo, said with a smirk from mother.

The house is quiet once again and we are living on pots of tea, cheese and biscuits, and left over San Choy Bow. Cat Balou has returned to her 1 bedroom, 1 reading room unit in a trendy pocket in the nation’s capital and my Wizard Of Oz jigsaw puzzle which scares the bejesus out of her is back on display.

Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.”
– Clementine Paddleford

“Miss you heaps.”
– Mo

The Books That Made Us and Ham

Late last year Australian actor, Claudia Karvan, hosted a three part television documentary that explored the stories that have shaped our nation’s identity in Books That Made Us.

Courtesy of the ABC

Claudia met with some of our most beloved and brilliant writers, including Booker Prize winners and best-selling authors and writers who have penned seminal stories, such as Richard Flanagan, Alexis Wright, Helen Garner, Tim Winton, David Malouf, Kate Grenville, Christos Tsiolkas, Thomas Keneally, Liane Moriarty, Trent Dalton, Kim Scott, and Melissa Lucashenko.

Did anyone watch this series?

I had read a handful of the books listed over the years though my Zoom Book Club have determined that we will read from the Books That Made Us List over the coming months starting with Kate Grenville’s “The Secret River.” I’m loving it!

A fellow Little Community Librarian in Western Australia – Leah’s Little Library – has massaged a Reading Challenge to better reflect Australian culture. I’ve attached if you are looking for direction in your reading this year.

With a house full of people and dogs my holiday reading has been pathetic with the TBR once again out of control. I had a date to visit the Lifeline Bookfest in the city later in the month. Maybe it’s just as well it has been cancelled because of you-know-what ( which we refuse to give a name in an endeavour to reduce its power).


And the really good news?

The Christmas Ham made it through to January 10th. So two things : 1) I never want to see ham again and 2) let the ham and vege soup making process begin.

Traditions : New & Old


When I was a child the dinner table was the source of good food for nourishment of the body as well as the venue to share the days events, whether they be local, national, or international, as nourishment for the mind. That hasn’t changed any with a number of visitors sharing my table over the past few weeks to celebrate and commiserate the last 12 months. We’ve been able to solve the problems of the world over Turkey Pies, play Trivia over Ham Croissants and to solve each and every crisis in the world over Sweet Potato Casserole ( courtesy of blogger Murisopsis).

No Christmas seafood this year as the thought of queuing for three hours in the middle of a Pandemic held no appeal. Cross that Christmas tradition off the List.

We were sharing our earliest memories of Christmas one night and my brain went back fifty years to making White Christmas with a cousin on Christmas Eve. Never ate the stuff myself – far too sugary – but the memories of mixing, taste testing, and family are vivid. It was a tradition throughout childhood.

With the arrival of the first grandchild the mother was interested in instigating such a tradition for little Harry Kilom for next December when he is more human and less  “pooh-and-spew.” A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

The child’s aunt, Cat Balou, last year instigated a calendar featuring said child with a new meme for every month which was distributed amongst the family.

It seems we have a new family tradition with the creation of another calendar with a monthly meme for the coming year.

Here’s to Family, Fun and Tradition, both new and old, for the New Year. Blogging Family included.

Salute!

How To Make Gravy & Granita For Xmas

It’s December 21st which means that it is time “to make gravy”.

It is also time to watch the best ever Christmas movie ever : Die Hard. I ‘m going to order this decoration for next years Xmas tree.

The house is spic and span and has been totally rearranged to avoid any accidents and collisions. Smashed wine glasses on a toddlers head conjures up such awful visions. Likewise I don’t fancy a trip to the vets so the garden too has been organised so that the grandfurbaby is unable to munch on chillis.

I will however be making a canine version of a croquembouque using meat balls and peanut butter to occupy the pup and I also have an oversupply of palm fronds for him to chew. The only issue is that he likes to play with the possums during the night which means I’ll be getting up three or four times a night with him. It’s harder than having a newborn in the house.

Meet Paulini and her joey

It remains wickedly hot here. Argghhhh, the memories of Christmas’ Past when the paper hats from the bonbons disintegrated on your head through perspiration…….

Not a sweets cook, never have been, so the Lychee and Coconut Granita sorely tested my skillset. I served with mint leaves, though my guests suggested berries or passionfruit as an accompaniment.

Blend together : 1 x tin of lychees including juice
1 x tin of coconut milk.
Pour into a metal tray and freeze.

( Tip: I froze over night. Do not serve immediately to anyone with dental issues. 3 hours in the freezer is probably sufficient. )

Dessert complimented my Xmas Placemats beautifully.

Merry Christmas and remember…..

It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas…

So, to borrow a phrase, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….The days are long and hot, cicadas chirp throughout the evening, and the kookaburras and magpies start their birdsong from 3.30am onwards. Oh, and the grass needs cutting on a weekly basis. It’s exhausting I tell you.

Ronan Keating’s version…..

Refusing to go anywhere near a shopping centre and the humidity is preventing any reading of real worth. This means resorting to DVD’s because I just cannot view anymore tragedy on the telly. Thank goodness for the local Op Shop which also serves coffee and Hummingbird Cake for $8.

This week I found a copy of all time favourite, Valiant, a delightful computer generated epic set during World War 2, and covering the exploits of carrier pigeons. With its references to the White Cliffs of Dover, Andrews Sisters, the Dambuster theme song, and a cute white mouse working with the Resistance called Charles De Girl it goes way over children’s heads.

The movie ends with Valiant and his fellow members from Squad F being awarded the Dickin Medal with a message then displayed commending all the animals that in real life saved thousands of lives during World War II.

Forty five minutes of pure pleasure. Chew on that, Spiderman.


I did venture to the dark side, also known as having crossed the Brisbane River in a northerly direction, to enjoy carols performed by the Brisbane Army Band. Brilliant and a great wake up call to get into the mood.

This weekend a friend has volunteered to play guinea pig as I attempt fellow blogger’s ( Valerie AKA Muriopsis) Sweet Potato Casserole recipe as well as a tropical Coconut and Lychee Granita.

If all else fails I have this to fall back on. $5. Bargain.

Some Anniversaries.

It’s coming up to 3 years since I retired and 4 years since  I downsized to my pocket handkerchief sized home.

Do I miss working? Not on your freakin’ life! I’m busier than ever pursuing my own interests. The Pandemic may have played havoc with retirement travel plans but my appreciation for my own country and its history gained from travel around my home state has more than made up for any disappointments.

Even my weekly evening walking group has me learning about new nature reserves and parklands within a 10 km radius of my home which I never knew existed previously.

Three Paddocks Park and Mangroves

My only issue with retirement is that the cycle of waking up with the chooks continues. I’ve stopped fighting it and now just tend to enjoy the mornings with an early pot of tea and listening to birdsong. Btw, have you met Max?

I had a skip bin over the weekend to help with the decluttering. Four years and I already needed to offload 4 cubic metres of “stuff”. Whatever….

So now I have a Craft Room/ Sewing Room as is expected of retired ladies, except that I neither craft nor sew. Whilst I was in Mary Kondo mode I came across some cute jars that I had been hoarding, possibly one of the kids school projects, I’m thinking.

They are now the vessels for homemade Rosemary and Garlic infused oil which I think will go down nicely poured over fresh baked bread and a glass of dry, crisp white.

Does that count as a Craft?

Aussie Cuisine

Fellow blogger Cupcakecache, an American lass with a strong streak of curiosity, recently asked for information about Australian dishes. Hopefully this blog will go towards sharing some iconic Australian party foods that many of us have loved since childhood. Please feel free to contribute……

Every childhood birthday party has FAIRY BREAD on the table. We are no longer supposed to call it Fairy Bread because of political correctness (as is the case with our Fairy Penguins), but who gives a rats. It is what it is: Fairy Bread.

A slice of buttered bread covered with Hundreds and Thousands.

COCKTAIL FRANKFURTS are affectionately known as “Little Boys”. You must dunk them in tomato sauce to render them edible.

THE LAMINGTON

Australians are very proud of their Lamingtons, which are believed to be named after either Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.

They are made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture.

It is becoming more acceptable to add a layer of cream and strawberry jam between the two lamington halves but I question the need to fiddle with something that was never broken.

Over the summer months when tropical fruits are in abundance the common cry from women planning a soiree, in kitchens all across the country, is “I’ll bring the Pav”.

The PAVLOVA is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is typically covered in fresh cream and fruits, and seems to me to have been designed solely to force people to eat Kiwi Fruit.

The ANZACS may have stood together at Gallipoli and at the Somme but the origin of the pav is widely disputed with our closest neighbours across the ditch.

TIM TAMS are a chocolate biscuit that consist of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. They are insignificant on their own.

However, the TIM TAM SLAM is the perfect ending to any dinner party and consists of biting the bottom corners off the biscuit, lowering the chewed bottom half into your coffee, and then using the biscuit as a straw to suck up the warm liquid.

Personal Recommendation : For Coffee insert Kahlua or Tia Maria.

Lastly, a SHRIMP in Australia is a colloquialism for a vertically challenged human. We throw PRAWNS on the barbeque, never people, and cover them in crushed garlic and white wine, or strung together on a skewer to make a shishkebab. One glass of wine over the hotplate and one for the cook.

Cupcake, I hope this has in some way gone towards strengthening the bonds of international relations.

This Week In Books

The Friday Night Zoom Book Club discussed the debut novel Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos. As the author is an Australian of Greek heritage who has woven his experiences into this novel, at my youngest daughter’s suggestion we went for hellenic themed snacks.

Enjoyed the snacks more than the book.

My Spinach and Fetta Pie

At Primary School Fridays were Social Science days when we would learn about famous people. They were generally male. I clearly remember the famous females: Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale and Daisy Bates. So I pounced upon Desert Queen by Susanna De Vries which I found at the Little Community Library in the local parkland.

Talk about shattered. Other than her work with female aborigines in the early 1900’s old Daisy was essentially a nut job. Married three times, including to Harry Harbord Morant (AKA Breaker Morant) old Daisy never bothered to divorce any of her husbands. As well as being a bigamist she was a pathological liar with grandiose ideas. I’m thinking bipolar. Nah, just a nut job.

Don’t you just hate biographies that crush all your long held beliefs?

In Recognition of the Xmas Ham

The pile of books at the end of the bed continues to grow. Alarmingly. Blame all the house guests.

I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. Lots of fresh seafood, all products of Australia. Why would you buy anything else I have to ask?

Today the house walls have stopped shaking and all is quiet. It is eerily still. I keep listening for a baby ‘s cry. So do we put our feet up on the couch and spend the day reading? Not when there is a ham bone waiting to be boiled for the makings of a hearty broth.

Bizarre really. Millions of Aussies whip up batches of Pea and Ham Soup during the hottest and longest days of summer. Waste not, want not. Everything left over in the fridge gets tossed into the mix, even the scrapings from the Vegemite jar.

I’ve been participating in this Ham Soup ritual since very young. I used to help my mother by pushing the vegetables through the old cast iron mouli attached to the kitchen table top.

Some things have changed over time. Our family ham soup had to be so thick that a spoon could stand up in it. My father would insist. My version is thinner and comes with dumplings. Delicious.

Going into hibernation for the next 72 hours. No tv, blinds drawn, and I will survive on toast and tea, weepy movies and some good books.

Bruschetta is essentially toast, right?

This Week In Books

With summer on the doorstep we are sliding into a heatwave this weekend. Thank God the house is currently spotless and full of both reading material and mangoes.

My Chilli Chicken with a Mango Salsa

The DVD Fairy made a donation to the Little Library last week encouraging a selection of movies not generally considered. These included POMPEII, featuring an abundance of flames and fury with poor little Kit Harrington copping the wrong end of the stick yet again. And then there was OBLIVION which caused a great deal of psychoanalysis on my part. Sci Fi AND Tom Cruise. Why do I self inflict like this?

This facility has become so popular in our local parkland that the Council has agreed to install a separate utility to house books for Little People, allowing them the sensory pleasure of choosing their own books. WOOT WOO!

Read Jane Harper’s fourth novel, The Survivors, based in a small coastal town in Tasmania, unlike her previous books where the harsh Australian outback becomes a stand alone character. Couldn’t put it down though I have lots of “buts”……….

Stephen Fry’s Mythos is a retelling of Greek Mythology and is written the way he speaks making it easy to keep up with who is whom in the zoo.


My garden is beginning to suffer due to the lack of rain ( though the media continues its scare tactics by quoting expected cyclones : Was 15 down to 4). Optimistic, I treated myself to a new addition:

Stay hydrated…….