Cooking a fresh piece of silverside in my big boiling pot on the stove. I have added pepper corns, and a spoon of raw sugar and a large dash of vinegar and I will bring it to the boil and simmer for two hours and then left it steep until it is time for dinner.

I love to eat fresh hot silverside with my mother’s mustard pickles, but alas and alack I have none. Poor mother, now well into her 80s finds such projects more and more difficult. I shall have to take out her recipe and make mine own. But not today.

Today mustard may have to do. Or perhaps cauliflower in white sauce. Thoughts to think.

knocking on grandma’s kitchen door

It is September and my mind turns to making the family christmas fruit cake. We prefer a christmas cake baked with dried fruits and lashings of brandy or sherry. I had a recipe that everyone voted their favourite about 10 years ago, but when we moved in 2002 (it was a year of multiple moves and at one stage the family was living in three different geographic places at one time and half our belongings were in storage) and I have never been able to find that particular recipe since. My fruit cakes are still voted eater friendly, mainly because I drip feed them brandy in the three months leading up to the big Christmas Day I think!

Daughter2 has lamented the loss of the original recipe a little too frequently lately, so I am sending out a global request for asisistance.

Go to your cookbooks ladies and gentlemen, knock on the door of great aunts, or grandmother’s and rifle through their kitchen drawers. Please find me a tried and true, knock your little Christmas stockings off, dried fruit cake. Prefer without too many nuts, but can handle that.

The prize – well the Flamingo Dancer family will sing your praises, perhaps for generations to come. I promise to lock the recipe into a digitial file and backed up on an off site archive so as never to again be without our prized recipe. I only ask that it is a recipe that has been trialled and voted good enough to eat again!

Notebooks and pencils to the ready, dear readers! Christmas fruit cake recipes must be found and shared!

street walking

A lovely spring Sunday morning to walk . Today on my walk I discovered:

  • A fluffy brown persian cat on the footpath sneaking up on two galahs sneaking seeds off the road. The galahs took fright when they saw the cat, and the cat took fright when it saw me, and I laughed in the  warm sunlight with the light breeze.
  • The mushrooms were starting too shrivel and die not that the rain showers are decreasing. I guess that is the cycle of life.
  • I saw some ant trails across the earth footpath near the park. The soft earth had been disturbed as they built tunnels and homes I guess. It looked like a form of ancient writing and I stopped for a moment to see if I could decipher the meaning of life from their work words but nothing came to me. Their secret is safe for now.
  • The spring perfumes of the trees permeates my walk and it is fun trying to guess which particular tree or flower is the source of the joy.
  • I noticed that a practioner of traditional chinese medicine and acupunture has taken up residence in a nearby street. We have quite a few chinese nationals relocating to this area, the majority from Hong Kong. There are a number of such businesses in the area, all run from private homes.
  • I noted that I walked faster today over the same route.
  • I noted that I think I need the rountine of doing things in the same order each day to assist me to achieve them. Both days I have had breakfast and then gone for my walk. One sets in motion the other and so I don’t have to think about it so much and then I don’t have such an opporuntity to procrastinate and that as we know is my achilles heel.
  • I note that I think about what I do, why and how more already. Is this getting into the moment?
  • I am worried that all this is easy when I am on holidays. How to achieve it when school starts again in a week will be the challenge.

Dear Diary 3: Chasing the Big Yellow Taxi

Dear Diary,

Saturday was a good day. It made me happy.

 I went for a walk, I finished sorting through my clothes, and culled 5 trash bags for St Vincent’s de Paul, and I put aside a few things that were never me, in fact I must have been channelling my sister when I chose them, and so I will gift them to her, should she choose to accept them. After taking out 5 trash bags of clothing and transferring winter jackets to Daughter1’s vacant bedroom I expected to see room, day light even.

 In fact I did for 7 or 8 minutes until I started hanging up all the clothes strewn about the room and stored in plastic laundry baskets. As stated previously, I have inherited quite a few items of clothing as Daughter2 downsized herself. It is a nice state of being believe me, but I had not been motivated to actually find homes in the closet for any of it.

 A year or so ago I was quite sanctimonious and adopted the policy of one thing in, two things out. Then it became one thing in and one thing out. Then it became, everyone and everything jump into the pool. Party on! Clothes started to cover the chest at the foot of our bed, until it threatened to obscure my view of the television. Instead of hanging it up I would randomly throw myself at the pile to flatten it to an acceptable view over the top level. Problem solved.

 Not quite. Then clothes started to cover the wicker chair in our bedroom. Shortly after that started the laundry basket creep. I have no issue with doing the laundry, hanging it out on the clothes line, or bringing it in at the end of the day. My issue is with sorting it. I place this fault squarely at the foot of the day itself. By the time the clothes have dried it is often the end of the day. By the end of the day I am tired.

 I have been a good person and hung my clothes outside and not used any energy except the sun to dry it, so bonus marks for me. This however makes me tired, along with the other 14,352 other things that I do each Saturday which is laundry day and everything else domestic day. So I gather in the laundry while dinner is cooking and it gets dumped in the corner of the kitchen until I carry it upstairs, to our bedroom.

 There in lies the problem. Who wants to spend Saturday night sorting and hanging clothes? I mean, there is sitting to do and television to watch and hums to hum. So one week bleeds into another and soon one basket grows into two and three and, well you get the idea. Once the Everest has risen I am no Hillary to climb it.

 So. Yes the big so. So this holidays I committed myself to having my clothes sorted and hung by the time school started again. Two weeks to sort and complete. Easy, right? It was Wednesday before I even thought about it. I rephrase that. It was Wednesday before I even wanted to think about it.

 Think about it I did, but not in a motivational or positive way. It was more to concoct reasons why now was not a good time to start. Obviously procrastination, my Achilles heel, was not serving me well.

 Wednesday I finally faced up and started. I cleared 4 bags and put them into my car immediately and drove to the charity bin and dumped them in. It must be a holiday thing as there was a veritable traffic jam at St Vinnie’s of middle aged women dumping off trash bags of clothes. I wanted it out of the house before I either changed my mind and decided that I couldn’t live without the paisley print from 1978; or the bags meandered and spread across the front foyer waiting to be deposed of.

 Action taken, superior moment of exaltation and glee for Flamingo Dancer. I emailed Daughter2 telling her how wonderful her mother was and she replied with the required applause. Life was indeed good.

 That was it until Saturday and I thought, hell this is not going to go away, and hell I have publicly committed myself to this program, now called Chasing the Big Yellow Taxi {aka you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone!]  by the family to explain the strange behaviour of mother and wife.  So back upstairs I go.

 I cleared one more trash bag; then the big moment. I started to rehang the clothes! I was good as I even turfed out any hangers that were starting to rust, or with clips that no longer clipped.  I did it in two shifts with little rests in between and time out to cook muffins. When I got to the point where I couldn’t give a stuff any more I stopped for the day. There is work left to do, but a major step has been taken.  I have a full week to complete the task so at this stage I am feeling ….happy? Domestic Goddess superiority is warm and fuzzy!

 Dear Diary, one question I ask of thee. Why is that no matter how carefully I stack the coat hangers that they still become entangled with each other? Is it just to frustrate and irritate me as I suspect? Why dear diary, why?

Dear Diary 2

Dear Diary,

Someone said that every great journey starts with the first step. I suspect it was Groucho Marx. Before I fell asleep last night I committed myself to starting my day with a walk.

I know from experience that if I don’t do the walking in the morning that by evening I have provided myself with a plethora of reasons not to actually do it. Neither my flesh, nor my spirit, is strong. I did procrastinate a little, so obviously that little commandment needs closer attention!

First off I had breakfast and a cup of tea. Then I checked my blog comments…then I checked the weather and damn it looked as though the rain that has been falling off and on all week would hold off, so all excuses evaporated.

In the past I have never had the right clothing to wear and often walked wearing jeans or less than attractive track pants, but Daughter2 has dropped a couple of sizes and so I inherited some very nice gym gear from her. She separates things into piles for mother and for sister so I get clothing she deems age appropriate so Flamingo Dancer is not walking the streets dressed as lamb rather than mutton. Or in the case of flamingo dancers would that be chick and hen? Whatever, I look damn good in my second hand clothes.

The clothes have been washed more than once so I actually look like a hardened athlete, well at least from a clothes aspect. I don’t look like those poor people that one sees every new year walking in their crisp new gym clothes that they just purchased due to a new year’s resolution that everyone, including themselves, knows that they won’t maintain a week.

The shoes. Now my shoes I am really proud of as I have two pairs of the world’s most comfortable shoes in the world. One is a brown pair that I bought for $20AUS from Kmart about 8 years. Daughter2 calls them my old lady orthopaedic shoes and well may she be right. I think they are dainty and unassuming; she thinks they are embarrassing and ugly. I am the one wearing them however. I have worn them on many walking escapades and my feet are never tired at the end of a day and I have never, ever had a blister or a sore spot. I love my shoes, though I notice that I am wearing a hole in the toe of the right shoe which I appear to do with favourite shoes and so I may have to see if I can find more of the same.

My other pair is a little newer. I can’t remember when I purchased them. In fact I forgot I even owned them. We used to have a big cane basket where everyone threw their shoes and after the daughters moved out it lay dormant for a year or so I went through it and called various owners. No one claimed the white sports shoes and after awhile it slowly dawned that the shoes were mine. Repressed memories obviously!

The white shoes were the shoes of choice today as they have a little more toe room and I have a sore toe at the moment. Well, it is not actually sore, the nail is coming off, but that is a whole ‘nother post that is not going to happen.

So I booted up and told Mr FD I was off to discover the big outside. I think he teared up for a second as I suspect he thought I had finally lost my mind, but he soon recovered, obviously thinking it better to humour me in case I turned dangerous. In fact he made encouraging comments like “you are a better person than I”, much in the same vein as one adopts when waving loved ones off to war.

I thought about finding a pedometer lost in the bowels of a drawer or a cupboard so that I could feel superior when I achieved those magical 10,000 steps, but soon gave up this idea as:

1. I was never going to find that pedometer in the near future, or maybe even in this lifetime.

2. I am very competitive. If I walked 6 steps today I would have to walk 16,000 tomorrow. If I didn’t I would feel guilty and beat myself up about my failure and not appreciate the fact that I walked 6 steps, which would be about 5 more than I walked the day before. Not going to enhance my happiness now is it?

So I set off in my second hand clothes, my shopping mall shoes (the expensive white ones, I think I paid around $50AUS for them, also at Kmart) and minus any fancy smancy sports equipment and I walked around our neighbourhood.

There were lots of positives. I got a thrill to note that we have one of the nicer gardens in the area. This also saddened me as considering the little effort we put into our garden the rest of the neighbourhood should be ashamed. Why do people spend $750,000 AUS and up on a new house and then allow the yard to go to weed and rubbish? I am not saying that anyone has to maintain a garden, in fact don’t start one if you don’t have the time, the energy or the inclination to maintain it. Put in gravel and a birdbath and call it a day. Don’t insult nature.

I also saw 3 wild ducks in the play park. They were skirting the half basket ball court and I imagine that they were just waiting for the rest of the team to show up for the game. Mushrooms were also in full bloom, thanks to the showery weather of the past week. Dull brown and grey ones but still pretty to examine and admire.

A couple of houses were up for sale. Well one was actually for auction and one for sale. Not many houses in our neighbourhood come up for sale, but the few that have in the 8 years since the area opened up, always seem to be the same ones. Why is that so? Why do some houses sell and sell again and others never get sold? It is almost that there are negative forces at work in some homes, or bad feng shui that chases people away. These are the type of things I ponder as I walk.

I ended with an uphill route back to our street and a good feeling of accomplishment. No chariots of fire theme music met me as I walked back up our drive way, Mr FD did not leap from his chair as I opened the door, though he was eager to hear what the big outside was like these days. I did come home with a sense of having taken the first step.  I did feel happy. In fact minutes later I am still feeling happy. There might be something in this after all…

Dear Diary, do I have to do it again tomorrow though?