Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas traditions and decorating at my place

As the countdown approaches to Christmas Day, I have been starting the traditions at our place. In the lead up to Christmas, I bake almond bread and make chicken liver pate. For many years, since Year 12 in 1984, I made apricot jam from dried apricots, but can't see that happening this year. Our Christmas tree seems to go up earlier and earlier each year. One year we might just leave it up. Last year it was up in September. This year it took until November to be found and 'erected'. This was because our eldest usually puts it up, however, she moved out of home this year and has a new tree at her new place. Last year the tree wasn't put into the tree box, but into the trampoline box, so remained hidden until I had a mother look! We open presents of new pyjamas on Christmas Eve after attending church and wear them to bed that night. Christmas morning is usually at my mum's, but she moved out of town this year, so bacon, eggs, fruit and champagne will be breakfast, then a late lunch of ham, turkey and vegetables followed by an afternoon snooze if we are lucky. The kids tend to be in and out of the pool all day.
Do you have family traditions at Christmas?
I have taken a few photographs of my Christmas decorating around my place. Enjoy.

You would be excused for thinking I was Santa's washing lady. The Santa hats and kid-sized Santa outfits were looking a bit on the grubby side. Now nice and fresh.

My nativity set that I sewed a few years ago.

My ancient old angel looks a little stunned at the top of our gorgeous white tree. This year the theme is pink, gold and white.

our beautiful white Christmas tree adorned in pink, gold and pearl coloured ornaments

The Christmas tree shaped arrangement of Christmas cards on the door of the cupboard in our entry foyer.
(Please excuse the angle of the photo. I can't seem to upload photos taken portrait sytle and then edited. This photo was taken landscape then cropped).

Joseph looking adoringly at Mary and baby Jesus.
Wishing you all the joys of Christmas and the fun of Christmas season decorating.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken Liver Pate

One of my Christmas cooking recipes is chicken liver pate. It is delicious served with water crackers or toast triangles with quince paste. The recipe comes from the NMAA Cooks red cookbook. I have my own copy now, however the recipe came from my Aunt's copy many years ago. The cookbook was originally printed in 1975 and I have a 2002 copy. The cookbook is available by mail order from
250g chicken livers
125g butter
2 tbsp cream cheese or cream
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp snipped chives
1/4 teaspoon mixed herbs
salt and pepper
more butter for topping

chop livers and cook slowly in 1/4 of the butter.

until livers are nearly cooked 

add the rest of the butter to the pan along with the chopped herbs, cream or cream cheese, brandy, dash of nutmeg and salt & pepper

cook for about five minutes

decant into a container to blend the pate to your desired consistancy,
then pour into ramekins.

melt some more butter and pour onto top of ramekins. I like to add a sprig of fresh herbs. The butter will set and the pate will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. I also cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

Rosemary & thyme focaccia

In issue one of 'Baked &Delicious International Classics to bake at home' magazine is the recipe for rosemary and thyme focaccia. I bit the bullet and made some of this style of bread and it was delicious. The kids loved it. It is best eaten the day it is made, although I did slice some up the next day and added a garlic butter.

450g strong white flour
2 tsp fast action yeast
sea salt
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped plus a few extra sprigs
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sift flour into large bowl with yeast and sea salt. Add chopped herbs, olive oil and water and using dough hooks make into soft dough.

once the dough is kneaded for ten minutes, leave in a warm place for at least an hour
unitl the dough is doubled in size

knock back the dough and divide into four portions and roll out to four oval shapes about 1cm thick, place on oiled trays and leave again for 20 minutes

poke rosemary sprigs into the surface and scatter with sea salt. Drizzle with oil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

there you have first ever focaccia made from scratch. It was time consuming, but well worth it for the taste.
This recipe was from the first issue of Baked &Delicious magazine.

....Donna Hay deliciousness! Giveaway on posie patchwork

Donna Hay 'Deliciousness'....not sure if that is a word, but it certainly works with Donna Hay foods and products! For one chance, or more, pop over to Posie Patchwork's blog to see the great competition for Donna Hay Brownies and Christmas Issue Magazine.
I love the Donna Hay range of boxed mixes....they are certainly no fail and I adore her magazines. My tradition has been to buy the annual kids' I might have to start another tradition of buying her Christmas edition. However, if I am super lucky with this competition, I won't have to buy it this year!
There will be some more of my Christmas baking posts coming soon,
smiles and hope your Christmas baking is going well.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baked & Delicious prize

Early September 2011, I entered a competition to win a subscription to 'Baked & Delicious International classics to bake at home' magazine, on the blog of Veronica at 'someday we will sleep'. She wrote a funny post on baking with children that  I could completely relate to, having four children of my own:  how-to-bake-cupcakes-with-your-children-giveaway/
 Fast forward to November and some parcels have arrived. Each magazine comes with silicone bakeware. There are ten recipes each issue, all of which are illustrated in glossy colour. Three of the recipes have step-by-step coloured photos and intstructions and there is at least one recipe in each edition to follow in which to use the cookware. To see more details on the magazine, extra gifts and subscription details, see
  My goal is to bake something from a Baked and Delicious magazine and share my cooking each week on my blog. Have a fabulous week and stay tuned for some cooking inspiration. Smiles, Alannah

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Purple pumpkin giveaway

It's GIVEAWAY time again! Want to top up your stash, or maybe try out Purple Pumpkin embellishments for the first time? Well, here's your chance to get your hands on some goodies before Purple Pumpkin's next sale in September.

 Head over to

Personally, I would love to win this prize as I am so looking forward to some scrapping as soon as my University term is over.
smiles and hope your day is full of smiles!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

there will be a sale at a lil somethin

Have you seen the new blog a lil somethin?  Gorgeous boy embelishments created by Wendy and Susan.  Click on the link, and mark in your diaries. smiles

a lil somethin giveaway.

Susan and Wendy at a lil somethin have a giveaway on their brand new blog.  Check out the great boy embellishments they have!
smiles, and have a great week

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts (again)

Welcome to another post for the battle of the blogger butts.  Miss eight took this photo of me this morning, in my new dress which was reduced from $40 to $10, and doesn't need ironing, so I have worn it a bit this week in the glorious weather we have been having.  I felt well enough to walk Friday and Saturday mornings  and was sort of pleased to see 73.1 this morning, which is a gain up from 72.7 from a couple of weeks ago.  Not too bad going considering I have been too sick to exercise. Fingers crossed no more bugs decide to visit again! Have a great week, smiles, Alannah

Sunday, April 24, 2011

more of my attempt at Battle of the Blogger Butts

This last week has not featured any sweaty exercise, although I have walked along beaches, flown kites, and been in the lovely outdoors with the most glorious April weather here in Central QLD.  I haven't weighed myself this morning, but I feel about the same.  Thank goodness Easter is here and those tempting hot cross buns will leave the shelves until January 2012! The Easter Bunny left quite a stash, though!  I am still not well enough for long walks, but am planning a short one this afternoon!
smiles, and have a great week.
My gorgeous niece and I down at the Marina for her birthday

Grasstree Beach, a gorgeous place to visit.

Flying kites at Grasstree Beach.  Next time, we will go down onto the sand at low tide.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts continues....

Another week has passed, and it was such a big one for me.  All four kids and I are still sick, and I have been away for study reasons.  A walk on the beach one afternoon was all I could manage, although this morning I weighed in at 72.7, so loss of a hundred grams! Apparently, it is not safe to exercise while you are sick, so I am trying to take things easy.
This is my husband and I enjoying our champagne and cheese platter last week for our wedding anniversary.

Have a great blogger butt week! smiles, Alannah

Friday, April 8, 2011

another Battle of the Blogger Butts

As I take a break from studying anatomy today, and feeling like my gluteus maximus is getting bigger by the day, it is time to reflect on my efforts in the past week.
Last weekend I was in Brisbane for a conference, and did join a few friends for a morning stroll, and also joined some other friends for a wine at the RSL down the road! On Wednesday, DH and I met with  another couple and drove a couple of hours to enjoy breakfast at a cafe, then took the Red Rocks Walking Trail and finished up with a late picnic lunch.  Unfortunately, poor choice of ice cream resulted in food poisoning once we were home again! Catching the flu going the rounds and still feeling squeamish has put a dampener on exercise....add in most of the family sick and it such a happy place...NOT! This morning the scales flashed 72.8, so pretty happy with that! Yesterday was our 22nd Wedding Anniversary ( I was 12 when we got married!), and because we are all under the weather, we stayed home and enjoyed a roast pork with vegetables ( I love roast potato) and opened and finished the bottle of Moet I got duty free on my holiday.  Chocolates from Darell Lea were also enjoyed!  Today, all the soft centres are eaten and the kids have just left the hard nougat ones for me!

DH and I relaxing under a tree during our long walk.  It was super windy, but otherwise the weather was great.  When we were nearly back to the car, the men went for a swim in the ocean.
The Red Rocks Walking Trail map.
Next week I will be out of town for four days of University residential college, however, there is a lovely walk planned along a beach near where I am staying.  Hope you all have a great week.  smiles, Alannah

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts update

Welcome to my Battle of the Blogger Butts post, number I have no idea.  While I didn't join some of the participants at the Blogger Conference, I have seen some photos and hear that a good time was had by all.  In the last two weeks, I have exercised, only walking, as I can't seem to get to that gym, although I do have a membership.  What I have found works for me is crawling out of bed into my Lorna Jane gear and walking the streets with my neighbour.  A 6.45am start and then a walk for just over thirty minutes still gives me time for a shower and encouraging hurry up words to the kids and then the school run drive. Weekends are a later start at 8am or even a 3 or 4pm walk for around an hour.  I recall at least nine walks since the last blog post, and a weigh in at 73kg, which although is up a bit from last post, still not too bad.....and muscle is heavier than fat! DH's birthday on the 21st was a lunch time movie and then a salad at the pub next door to the theatre.  Last Friday was a dinner out with some school mums, where I had the goat's cheese salad, which had a tiny piece of goat cheese, some eggplant and lots of baby rocket.  My weakness at the moment is creme brulee, so I had that too....yummy! As I had a lovely mum drove me home, I made sure that I drank more than if I was driving....therefore two small Sav Blanc glasses of wine later.  This morning's morning walk was good, and I using walking and chocolate as my stress releases this week.  My degree is stressing me out, as is a sick boy with high temps, and the usual life with teenagers, and four kids! ( I am sure you all know what I mean) . Here is a photo taken by DS 5yrs before dinner with the girls.  smiles and have a great week, Alannah

Friday, March 11, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week ten

Hi all,
how can my weeks go so fast?  Last Saturday I was 72.4, in the morning, before having the duck and the Sav Blanc at a lovely restaurant with long time friends for lunch.  Some of those same friends came over on Sunday afternoon and we had the easiest and nicest greek feta and basil homemade dip. Couldn't walk on Monday as needed someone home with some of the kids! Tuesday I walked, and also on Friday.  I can't remember what happened on Wednesday! There were plans for Thursday middle of the day walk, even dressed in gym clothes and joggers, but it was only through a car park! Pouring rain this morning and a little sick girl in my bed, meant no morning walk. I have been more aware of food serving sizes, and ate lots of lovely vegetables this week.  Scales are my friend today with a 72.1 reading.  Have a great week everyone! smiles Alannah
here is another photo from my holiday, taken on my birthday in Ireland.  This the town my paternal grandmother left at eighteen to move to Australia

Friday, March 4, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week nine

Good Morning,
This past week I have walked twice, in the mornings and boy, did it tire me out.  This afternoon I am planning on a walk, and have just teed up a date at our swimming pool with DS (5).
I ate lots of chocolate this week, and did lots of study, and was surprised this morning to be at 72.4, after weighing myself on Tuesday at 72.8. Here is a photo taken on my birthday at Bunratty Castle in Ireland, last month, wearing my new wrap.  I won't need to wear it in my home town, although it will be great when I travel to colder places again! Have a great week, smiles, Alannah.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week eight (or better late than never)

Hi there, I am back!
My apologies for the lateness of my post, and also the omission of weeks six and seven. My holiday was overseas to visit some lovely friends in Abu Dhabi and London, and then a short tour around parts of Ireland.  I went by myself and left DH home with the four kids! I did not pack my joggers, although I did do some exercise!  I strolled around a mosque and walked up sand dunes;  ran alongside trains to the correct carriage while carrying heavy shopping bags; walked kids to school;  climbed many stairs at  train and tube stations; walked streets looking for shopping opportunities and places to eat; strode along many airport concourses; dragged two heavy suitcases and climbed many winding staircases in a few medieval castles.  I ate lots of seafood chowder, drank lots of wine and champagne and did not waste any time sleeping! I was awake for 42 hours straight on the flights home, so came home a little too tired to exercise.  I am pleased to say I have walked for the last two mornings for 45 minutes each time, and my starting weight was 72.8kgs, so actually a small loss from before I went away. Here are some photos to bore you all!  Dinner of Indian in London, dressed in an abaya in Abu Dhabi (so want one for fat days), out in the desert, wine drinking in London, afternoon tea in Harrods.  smiles and have a great week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week five

Well, another week has nearly passed.  I am early with my battle of the blogger butts post this week as I am going on holidays tomorrow.  I promise to keep a diary of my exercise and will post when I get back home. 
Sunday 30 Jan starting weight 72.9
Monday 31 Jan morning walk.  The road was slippery from light rain, and I slipped and fell onto my left knee, which has gravel rush and is soooo sore....the hazards of exercise!
Tuesday 1 February morning walk, although I had a sore knee!
Wednesday 2 February no exercise
Thursday 3 February morning walk
Friday 4 February morning walk

Tuesday night we went to a Thai restaurant with friends who just became grandparents the day before, so we had to toast new baby with champagne.  Had a lovely pork with ginger and shallot dish, and satay chicken too.
Friday night we went to some friends for a delicious dinner party, with trio of dips (including homemade eggplant dip), lamb, chicken, roast veges, couscous. Dessert was mini profiteroles with little chocolates, all washed down with Sauvignon Blanc, champagne and liqueur.
Needless to say, this morning I sent my walking partner a text: Too tired, slack and a little hungover to go for our walk this morning. Sorry.!
Finishing weight this week was 73.4, and I blame all the food I ate, the alcohol I drank and hormones as well. 
I know I will be drinking on my holidays, and eating food I am not used to, but I will be thinking of the blogger challenge too!
smiles and have a great week.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week four

We are up to week four of the blogging, and my apologies for the late post.  Yesterday, I made a 24 page mini book for my mother for a family reunion, which took from 11am to 6pm. Mum had to make decisions on photos to include and exact wording, so it took a long time!
Sunday 23 February, I was 73.0kg, and went on an afternoon walk and swam 25 laps
Monday 24, morning walk
Tuesday 25, morning walk
Wednesday 26, Australia Day, a very long afternoon walk
Thursday 27, no exercise today
Friday 28, another day off exercise
Saturday 29, huge walk on the fitness trail up steps and some work on exercise stations
Sunday 30, suffering from yesterday! Weigh in today at 72.9, so loss of 100grams!
have a great week! smiles

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Purple pumpkin giveaway
there is the sweetest collection of purple pumpkin products in a giveaway on their blog....check it out!

smiles, and Happy Australia Day to all!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week three

last Sunday, I weighed in at 73.3
Monday was our third DD's eighth birthday, and I didn't exercise. Unfortunately, our second eldest DD was very sick, so DH had her at the dentist and the hospital all day.  I took the birthday girl, her little friend and our DS to the movies to see Tangled.  The kids had softdrink and popcorn, and I had my water and some popcorn I pinched from DS.  You have to be very quick to steal food from a four year old boy! I did have some white wine, when we ate a late roast lamb, but after the day I had, I did deserve it! BTW roast potatoes are my weakness, even more delicious cold the next day!
Tuesday: morning walk
Wednesday: afternoon walk around our Marina with my friend
Thursday: morning walk
Friday:  my walking partner went away this morning, so no walk together.  I also had a headache, which has just about gone, now (Sunday).
Saturday: with my friend away, there were plans of a swim, (didn't), then plans for a walk were foiled by rain (again).
today is Sunday, and I was a bit shocked to see my weight as 73.0, so a loss of 300grams for the past week.   Planning to walk with eldest daughter this afternoon.
School is back tomorrow, and my baby starts prep. I am planning on a session at the gym.
The two youngest kids are back in their bedroom, with beautiful polished floor, freshly painted walls, clean sheets on the bed, and mess (good while it lasts!)

Here are DS and DD in their bedroom, we will see how it goes with the beds that close together.  In the past, we have had a bed under the window, and the other bed the other side of the chest of drawers!  Also, the weekly photo taken of me after church on Sunday! smiles and hope you all have a great week. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Battle of the Blogger Butts week two

After all the exercise last week, my starting weight for week two is 73.5, a loss of 200grams!
This week I have been continuing with lots of exercise:
Monday 10 January: workout at the gym
Tuesday 11 January: evening walk
Wednesday 12 January: morning workout at the gym. This was a really hot day and my gym is not air-conditioned, so I walked and ran on the treadmill, did some rowing, leg presses, preacher curl weights and then went home for a lovely cold shower! (DH stayed at the gym, so instead of having a swim to cool off, I showered, then went back to collect him)
Thursday 13 January: morning walk and 20 laps of the pool
Friday 14 January: morning walk and 21 laps of the pool
Saturday 15 January: tackled the big walking track behind KMart, although this time took different turns, so didn't have to walk back to the car along the highway. Home to cool off with 25 laps of the pool.
Today is Sunday, and there may be a late walk.  My weight this morning was 73.3, so a loss of another 200grams.  This is typical of the way I lose weight....very slowly! It is DD's birthday tomorrow, so I want to be home in the morning when she wakes, and we are having roast lamb for dinner.  I don't think I will exercise tomorrow....perhaps a few laps of the pool with the kids..(does that count????LOL)

The other news I have is that the bedroom (and cupboard) of the two youngest has been sorted and completely cleared to repaint the  walls and repolish the floor.  This is the start of a renovation of the whole house. This is such a HUGE job.  The little kids slept in the loungeroom last night on mattresses, and I am using the cleanup and paint purchase as my excuse for a late posting.  The photos  show me before my afternoon walk in my studio, and the other is helping DH with the curtains, and then DS polishing the floor, just like Daddy.  Can you see the difference in the floor colour from just one sand?  The floor is high grade cypress pine, and DH polished it when we built 16 years ago!  Have a fabulous week. smiles.