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!"

Happy Birthday to Z!

On the day after Thomas we had an early birthday celebration for my brother (forty!). Craig, Lou and Scarlett came over to Tuscan Villa for lunch and we were also joined by my cousins Chris and Geoff and my Auntie Judith. We gave Craig some Sea Monkeys and a pop up Sound of Music book, which he seemed to be delighted with, understandably. The Sea Monkeys were inspired by our tragic past experience. When we were young we got some and popped them in water and day after day checked their tank for movement but there was nothing. It was years later that mum admitted that she had sprayed fly spray right bear the little critters at that fragile time in their lives. And the ones we got for Craig were piratical sea monkeys - even better. Just imagine the size of those eye patches.

And as for the pop up Sound of Music? As soon as I saw it, I knew it was perfect for Craig. He has a heightened sense of kitsch and I knew that he would truly appreciate the spinning Maria with vast mountains in the background and the pop up Nazis.

Jack and Scarlett ate their lunch at the little table in the living room and from the dining room where we were all squeezed in (in the nicest possible way) we could hear much giggling and chatter. Scarlett, unimpressed with her meal of lasagna took the opportunity to transfer most of it into Jack's plate. I don't think he noticed.

We ate and ate (antipasto from Fourth Village followed by Chermoula lamb rumps and salads), while they played and played. We finished with a tart or two....

(as you do) and Jack and Scarlett enthusiastically helped to blow out the candles. Then after all that hard work they decided to have a bath.

After the bath we adjourned to the courtyard for cheese and Jack and Scarlett played some more till it was time to go.

Little big day out

Before we went to Sydney for Thomas, Jack and I went to the Little Big Day Out in Wagga. It's an event the council puts on every year and the library, museum, art gallery, theatre and lots of council departments take part. There were balloons, fire engines, balloons, stalls, balloons, music, balloons, races, balloons, games, balloons, colouring in, balloons and a disco. Did I mention there were balloons? Jack tried to get as many as he could handle and then got me to carry them. He had a flavoured milk and a cupcake and then tried out the spooky disco at the library. He loved the bats and spiders but loved the skittles most of all. He did become disturbed when a baby drooled on one of the skittles but he soon got over it. Outside once more he played with the Lego at the toy library stand till it was time to pack up. Official tally: 1 cupcake, 1 chocolate milk, 1 boogie and three balloons.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Last Friday we drove up to Sydney to see Thomas Live on stage. To say that Jack was excited was an understatement. All week we'd been doing the countdown (how many sleeps till Thomas?) and when Jack woke up on Friday he bellowed, "FRIDAY!!!"
We made sure that we arrived in plenty of time at the Acer Arena, parking next door in the handily located parking station and joined the throng massing towards the entrance. We paused to admire the poster for the upcoming Wiggles concert (on Mum's birthday - wouldn't that be fun?) and made our way inside. As S and I paused and goggled at the prices of the merch Mum purchased two programmes (one for Jack and one for Scarlett) and we found our seats. Then my brother and Scarlett appeared (who made a beeline for uncle S) and Jack and Scarlett inspected the ceiling (I have no idea wha was so fascinating, but there was lots of gesticulating and perusing) and had a catch up. Nonno reappeared after a short absence with Thomas caps

and these wild spinning light Thomas things. Big hit!

And the Show? Jack was delighted when the trains stared appearing, pointing and enthusiastically calling out their names (my son the trainspotter) but it did go for a looooooong time. And then it stopped for an interval (so Craig could buy churros) and then it stared again. At this point Jack started crying and saying, "no, no," and in between the songs you could hear the wailing of small, overstimulated children.
We were pleased when it finished and we could head back to the car park and get him home for a nap, except that when we got there we found puzzled parents wandering around holding small tired Thomas lovers. We were duly informed (by a sort of weird game of chinese whispers) that there was a bomb scare and we could not return to our cars. What is scarier a bombscare or an arena full of frazzled parents and their feral offspring?
We headed off in search of food, but with all those 'masters' getting ready to compete and other parents having the same idea we didn't have much luck. After Jack had a meltdown we decided to take a chance and try the car park again. We sailed on in, no police no security and reclaimed our car. Jack was asleep before we drove out the exit, no doubt dreaming of Thomas.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Road Test #2 great cookers

On Thursday Amy and her gorgeous daughter Bethany took time out from their busy schedule to come and visit us. Knowing they were keen cooks or as Bethany would say 'cookers' I asked if they'd like to help test another recipe from Sabrina Parrini's Little Kitchen.
After some discussion over tea and pinwheel scones we decided to make gingerbread. I liked the idea of testing it because it differs lightly from other recipes with ingredients like cardamon and orange and lemon zest. The ones in Sabrina's book were in the shape of snowflakes dusted with icing sugar but we decided to go with rabbits, ducks, butterflies and bears.
Bethany had great fun with the flour sifter while Jack just tried to introduce a steam engine into the proceedings at different times. The recipe seemed quite easy, in spite of my being a tad vague, and Bethany assured us that the dough was very tasty. She (and Jack) checked several times just to make sure. We couldn't wait so we immediately rolled out some of the dough and cut it into shapes, while the remainder rested in the fridge.
They turned out really well and were tasty, with the lemon and orange giving the gingerbread a nice flavour and cutting some, but not all of the sweetness. Now when Jack is 'making a cake' and I ask him what the ingredients are he says, "butter, sugar, flour, eggs, ginger..." That's my boy.
Thanks to Amy and Bethany for visiting and helping us out. Enjoy your holidays.