That’s a Wrap: November 11, 2018

The week in photos

What I read…

I giggled my way through Richard Glover’s The Land Before Avocado – a wise and funny look at Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. As one of the review states, “The Land Before Avocado explains why this was the cultural revolution we had to have.”

It also, in my humble opinion, should be required reading for shock jocks the likes of Ray Hadley and Alan Jones and anyone else harking back to the good old days…but don’t get me started on that.

I also requested and received an advance copy for review purposes of All The Tears In China, the latest in Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair mysteries. Keep an eye out for it – it’s fabulous.

What I wrote…

It’s November so I’m deep in nanowrimo territory. As I write this blog I haven’t yet done today’s words, but am currently sitting at 18605 words – that’s on target. Just.

What I blogged…

With just a week to go until the official release date of Happy Ever After, I’ve been posting a photo a day from The Milford Track to Instagram. Why? Because Milford Track and Queenstown feature as locations in this novel.

I even wrote a blog post on my Milford experience. You can find it here and if you’re after a preorder for Happy Ever After, you can get it here.

I also popped up something new on my very neglected Sunny Coast blog. More on that below.

Finally, I even managed a couple of posts on my astro site – something I’ve neglected for the last few months. Yep, with this much procrastiblogging I must be in first draft mode.

What I cooked…


I had one of “those” days yesterday – where I was tired to the bone and to the brain. Like my brain had run out of space and important things were beginning to leak out of it. So I hit the kitchen.

I had an aha moment a few weeks ago about why I enjoy baking even though I don’t eat sugar – although I drink plenty of it in its fermented form. When I cook I like to take the recipe as an indication only, but when I bake the measuring and weighing actually helps my brain calm down and find a semblance of focus.

So, what did I make? Piccalilli, for a start. We love piccalilli at Christmas. It’s the perfect accompaniment for hams and cheeses and given that it’s tough to buy a good one I decided to make it..

I also made a berry-topped no-bake cheesecake slice and strawberry ice cream. It’s a really bad photo of the ice-cream – it really is quite creamy.

If you want the recipes, you can find the cheesecake here, the ice-cream here and an approximation of the piccalilli here.

Where we lunched…

A new (to us) Mexican at Alexandra Headlands. Juan Fifty. The food was great, the decor bright, and the vibe Sunday sessiony.

The best part? Locally brewed craft beer on the drinks menu. This one is the Larry pale ale from Your Mates brewing company.

So, that was my week…how was yours?

Sentence a Day – October

I know that I say this every month, but where has October gone?

It was a month that had some pretty big highlights – a glamping trip to the Scenic Rim and a celebration for my father’s 80th birthday – and also a lot of business as usual. It was a month of serious rain – storm season has definitely arrived here in South East Queensland – and sunny blue skies and perfect beach weather.

Just a couple of lowlights – a chronic ankle injury and an attempted fraud on my credit card which has led to the cancellation of said card as I was about to get on a flight to Sydney for a week. Talk about inconvenient! #dontgetmestarted

Anyways, without further ado, let’s wrap this month up.

The month in photos…

The month in sentences…

1.Words at the Surf Club, some great finds at the 2nd hand bookshop and Careful What You Wish For (aka Book No. 6) finished. Plus it’s the Monday of a long weekend.

2. Walk, work, gym, work – just another ordinary Tuesday.

3. Ankle seriously sore – I’ve self diagnosed it as a tendonitis.

4. A big day in the office and more ankle pain.

5. Off to the Scenic Rim and glamping at Ketchup’s Bank. Lunch at the Scenic Rim Brewery and stroganoff cooked in the camp kitchen for dinner. Heavy rain outside, but we’re toasty and warm in our tent.

6.  More rain, unusual yet fun wine tasting, and more gourmet delight cooked outside in the camp kitchen.

7. Rain cleared to amazing views this morning. Home again.

If you want to know more about Ketchup’s Bank, check out my post…here.

8. Back to business – walk, whale spouts, work.

9. Hubby in Brissie for the day, massive storm this afternoon – the two aren’t connected.

10. Thunderbolts and lightning – another massive downpour and new phones all round. Wonder of all wonders we no longer have to take our calls on the front lawn.

11. Managed a walk before the rain started. Seriously messy stressy day work wise.

12. Rain, haircut…that’s all.

13. Torrential rain for most of the day – even the cane toads were sheltering on the back step. Spent the morning at the markets in the mud and the afternoon going through slides for Dad’s album.

14. Managed a walk before the rain started again. Spent the day working on Dad’s album – except for procrastibaking triple chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

15. Torrential downpours to start the day. there’s beginning to be a pattern here…

16. Finally a walk before work and there’s a strange colour in the sky – it could almost be blue.

17. The sun is out properly. Hooray.

18. Ankle pain almost unbearable on walk this morning – think it could be time to see someone about it.

19. Caught up on some strategy stuff this morning, podiatrist, lunch date with my daughter at moo-free burgers. And my diagnosis of tendon damage was spot on. Self congratulations all round.

20. Markets this morning and first mango of the year. Weird mushrooms growing in the rosemary.

21. Wander up Maple Street in Maleny, browse in the 2nd hand book shops and lunch at Brouhaha Brewery. Sunday done well.

22. Slow walk on my damaged and taped up ankle, but otherwise business as usual on this blue blue Monday.

23. Another cracker of a day. Happy Ever After sent off for formatting.

24. Ankle slightly better so I took the tape off – possibly a mistake. Fabulous morning that made logging of for work extra hard. Whales spouting away on the horizon.

25. Gorgeous day…and work. That’s all.

26. Happy Birthday to my long-suffering and wonderful husband. Love ya to the end of the blue and back.

27. Off to Sydney and overnighting at my old neighbours…and a rather large night it was!

28. A tad dusty this morning – I’m too old to be mixing drinks. Big family celebration for my Dad’s 80th.

29. Official happy birthday to the old man. Thanks for being the best dad ever. In the actual office for a change.

30. Lunch with my brother and drinks after work with a colleague.

31. Unexpected catch-up with an old friend.

What I read…

It was a light month on the book front. Aside from a few genre romances:

The Girl I Used To Know, Faith Hogan

Billy, Billy Connolly

The Man I Think I Know, Mike Gayle – one of the best books I’ve read this year.

What I watched…

The final episodes of Rake – I think this could actually be the end…

Pacific, with Sam Neill – I’ve really enjoyed this.

Pine Gap – the first episode was really disappointing, but then I got hooked in.

Unforgotten – Series 3…I’m just 2 episodes in, but it’s as good as the previous 2 series.

How was your month?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

That’s a Wrap – 21 October 2018

Ok, it’s been a mad few weeks work wise – both in the day job and with writing projects – but I’m finally getting my head above water…I think.

Storm season is well and truly upon us – in fact as I type the sky has darkened again and my phone screen is full of severe storm warnings. We have, however, had some gorgeous blue in contrast to the rain – which, of course, we need. Check out this great pic of our local falls by @thephantomphotographer.

The week in pics

What was painful this week

I finally found my way to the podiatrist this week to attempt to deal with the ankle pain that has, of late, caused my morning walk to be more of a hobble – and a painful one at that.

At the moment it’s taped up and I’ve had to stay off it for a few days. It’s apparently a combo of:

  • underlying ankle weakness – my ankles have always been unsteady and hyper-flexive,
  • carrying too much weight,
  • my back and hips being out of alignment – as a result of me not finding a chiro or osteo since we moved,
  • trainers that have lost all their support,
  • living in thongs or bare feet, and

….well, my eyes began to glaze over at that point. Throw in a sustained effort to double my daily steps over the last 6-8 weeks and all of a sudden we have an overuse injury.

It goes without saying that I need to lose weight, but in the interim, I have to have some painful therapy on the affected calf muscle.

I’ve had this exact tendon issue in the same ankle/ lower calf a number of years ago when a booking under the influence led me to think that I could maybe learn to run. I got through it then, so will get through this one now – although I am, of course, 6 years older and nearly 10kgs heavier.

As far as wake up calls goes, it’s a good one.

What I wrote

Coming soon

I’ve finished the proof for Happy Ever After, written the blurb and acknowledgements so it’s now ready to go off for formatting – which, of course, is the point where I question myself. I am, however, very proud of this book. It’s a stand-alone, so not part of the series I’d been working on, and different to what I usually write. As I said, I’m super proud of it and hope you enjoy it too.

In the meantime, I have the structural edit back for Careful What You Wish For, so will get started on the re-write for that this week. I’m scheduled to start the draft for It’s In The Stars on November 1. It’s the last in the chick lit series that began with Baby, It’s You and will tie everybody’s stories together. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

What I cooked

I’m putting together an ebook of the recipes that I’ve used in both Happy Ever After and Wish You Were Here, so my daughter’s workplace is getting plenty of morning teas.

This week they got a plate of these chocolate choc-chip cookies.

Tomorrow they’ll be scoring this oaty ginger slice that Max cooked in Wish You Were Here.

What came out of the Sunday Lunch Decision Bowl

Brouhaha Brewery in Maleny.

We took a stroll up Maple Street and checked out the second-hand bookshops and then shared a pizza and some pork scratchings at the brewery. Perfect.

What I’m looking forward to

Hubby’s birthday on Friday and then Ms T and I are heading to Sydney to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday with the family.

Linking up with Denyse in Life This Week...

Sentence a Day – September

Ummm was that September? Seriously? Why wasn’t I given warning?

September brought deadlines, plenty of work, and a few highs. I missed doing my morning walk just twice – once early in the month when it was (sorry Mum and Dad) pi$$ing down; and again last week – when I had to be on the 6 am train to Brisbane for work. Over the month I clocked up 339,523 steps. Given that’s an average of over 11000 steps a day, that’s a tick on my list of 101 things in 1001 days. Unfortunately, it’s also brought a return of an old Achilles tendon over-use injury which I’m now trying to manage while still keeping moving. That’s a whole other very boring story.

What passes for Spring here in South East Queensland is almost over – but the bottlebrush, other natives,and the flowers on the Thai (Holy) Basil have been lovely.

Ok, before we get into October – which is full of deadlines, birthdays and various other things – let’s wrap last month.

1.Markets, hair, homemade focaccia. That means another tick in the 101 things to do list.

2. Happy Father’s Day to the two best fathers in the world – mine and my daughter’s. Walk on the beach followed by curry pots of yum at Noosa Beach House.

3. Dolphins and a walk – is there a better way to kick off the working week?

4. Rainy start and some moody cloud action on the walk.

5. Pi$$ing down this morning so no walk. Doggy Day Spa visited Adventure Spaniel.

6. Walk in the rain and work. That’s all.

7. Sun’s back out today, and so am I – writing words at the Surf Club. (As an aside, I really think they need to make me the writer in residence…)

8. Markets, house-cleaning, and experimenting with a French menu for dinner – Cervelle de Canut and Poulet au Vinaigre.

9. Friends over for lunch on a gorgeous blue day.

10. Cracker of a morning. I have a colleague (and friend) here from the Sydney office working out of my home office all week.

11. Another blue day with whales doing their blowing thing not far off-shore.

12. Fabulous having a work colleague who wants to cook with you – we put together the aromatic stock for a home-made pho during our lunch break and she stayed for dinner to help us eat it.

13. Whales again this morning, the project we were working on completed, and pho even better second day. It’s been nice having someone else to talk to in the office other than Adventure Spaniel – who, I must say, always agrees with me.

14. Picnic lunch of fabulous Mooloolaba prawns eaten at the top of Alex Hill to celebrate Friday – and managed a few words.

15. Best whale viewing yet this season. I walked over to Alexandra Headland beach this morning and two whales were breaching and putting on a fine display of fin waving and tail slapping. Mesmerising. Made passionfruit pannacotta for dessert tonight.

16. Morning walk, coffee with a friend at the beach, lunch at Palmwoods Hotel (best beer garden so far), afternoon walk, homemade pizzas and some words in between. At the end of the rock wall this afternoon we watched a whole school of fish being chased by a dolphin jump out of the water.

17. Monday Monday – a few clouds, a few showers, and a long day in the office. Nothing more to see here.

18. Meetings and blue skies.

19. First cane toad of the season on the front lawn. Ugh.

20. Cover for Happy Ever After revealed.

Coming soon

21. Words, a picnic at Buderim Park, and a visit to the Garden Centre for a new bay tree.

22. Best ever smoked salmon salad for lunch – all from local produce bought at the markets.

23. Catch-up at the Apollonian Hotel at Boreen Point with some fellow bloggers.

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point

24. Monday. Nothing more to say.

25. Some action of the whale breaching kind off the end of the rock wall this morning, seriously cool clouds, plenty of torrential rain and single ingredient dinner at Jimmy’s at Warana – pineapple, in case you’re interested.

26. 6am train to Brisbane for the day job.

27. Ummmm….

28. Catch up with a writing friend and some actual words.

29. Extreme procrastibaking – chocolate cloud cake, choc chip cookies, Tibetan momos and lamb rogan josh from scratch. Oh, and whales.

30. Thunder and lightning, boom crash opera, Beerwah Hotel for Sunday lunch and draft for book no. 6 declared done.

Photo a day

Pics from our morning beach walk…

What I watched

It was sad to see the end forever of 800 Words. I loved that show – and was satisfied with how they finished it off.

The best show by far of the month was The Split on ABC. This was so addictive that I was wishing I didn’t discover it until I could binge watch the whole lot in one go.

On Foxtel, I’ve been watching Sam Neill’s fabulous Pacific – In the Footsteps of Captain Cook and Tony Robinson’s Coast to Coast about walking the path that goes across the middle of England.

I’ve also been procrastiwatching (again) The Hollowmen on ABC – classic satire by the best in the business and spent a very pleasant couple of hours reacquainting myself with the Kerrigans and The Castle – by the same production company.

Finally, I spent some time that I’ll never be able to get back on Wellington Paranormal on SBS on demand. It started off a tad spoofy and pretty much went downhill quite quickly.

What I read

Not much this month – just 5 books with the highlights being:

  • Belgravia, Julian Fellowes. This is by the guy who wrote Downton Abbey and I got it in the 2nd hand bookshop in Armidale. As an aside, Fellows also played Lord Kilwillie on Monarch of the Glen. Remember that show?
  • A Paris Christmas, John Baxter. I bought this one in the 2nd hand part of Shakespeare & Co when we were in Paris. It was sitting on the shelf just outside the toilet and was marked 5E. A great read.
  • The Turning Point, Freya North – no spoiler alerts, but I read this one with an impending sense that it wasn’t going to end well – normally enough for me to put the book down. Despite that, I couldn’t put it down.

Ok, that was my month – how was yours?

That’s a wrap – September 23, 2018

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Mooloolaba Mornings this week

Down on Mooloolaba Spit, there’s a telegraph pole that was placed there to allow the resident eagle pair (although technically they’re kites…whatever) to build their nest. Each morning when we walk we look for them. Just lately there’s been a lot more activity in the nest and this morning all four residents of the nest were up and standing proud. Yes, they’ve managed to raise two chicks who now appear to be ready to leave the nest – at least mum and dad appear to be ready for them to leave the nest!

Anyways, enough about the eagles…

Where we explored…

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point

Sunday lunch was at the Apollonian Hotel in Boreen Point – about an hour drive north of where we live on the Sunshine Coast, but just 20 minutes or so from Noosa.

The Apollonian, first licensed in 1868, is a fabulous place for a bit of a Sunday sesh, but we were meeting some fellow bloggers and their husbands: Jan from Budget Travel Talk, Jan from Retiring Not Shy and Sandy from Tray Tables Away.

Food, wine, beer, sunshine and lots of travel talk. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

What I announced…

Coming soon

The cover for Happy Ever After. I love this cover and I truly love this book – and can’t wait to get it out into the world. If you want to know more about it, check out this link.

What I wrote…

I’ve finally finished drafting my 6th book – snappily titled Book No. 6. It’s no. 2 in my Careful What You Wish For mini-series. I’m now in the process of going through it making sure that the dots are joined and all the scenes run the way that they should. I write by the seat of my pants so there’s usually quite a bit of re-working through that I need to do.

I also blogged something about strawberries.

Buderim Village Park

Just up the road from us with great picnic and barbecue facilities and a pretty impressive outlook.

In the kitchen…

Ten acres spelt bread, Gympie fresh goat’s cheese, Noosa Red tomatoes

We tried out a new laksa paste from a local producer. The next best thing to making it ourselves – except of course, that it’s quicker. Super yum.

Oh, the green on the top of the soup is sliced snow peas because I don’t like bean sprouts but wanted some crunch.

We also took the kitchen to Buderim Park on Friday and prepared Bun Cha – Vietnamese pork noodle salad – outside.


There was also this salad I put together on Saturday using produce we’d picked up that morning at Kawana Waters Farmer’s Markets:

  • Smoked salmon
  • Noosa Reds cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber and leaves
  • Avos from the organic avo man
  • Yoghurt from Maleny Dairies
  • Lemons

What made me go eeeeuw…

The first cane toad sighting of the year on the front lawn.

That was my week…how was yours?

That’s a Wrap – September 16, 2018

Wow, I haven’t done one of these for ages and, with the amount of other work I have on at the moment, I probably shouldn’t be procrastiposting now either. Not to worry – on with the week.

How’s the weather?

Sunrise is now well before 6 am and Spring is definitely in the air. On my walk yesterday morning I watched some whales breaching not far off the Headland. They’re on their way back down to Antarctica, but seeing them is always a sign that the weather is warming up. What amazed me was the number of people watching their phones rather than the whales – and trust me, these guys were putting on a show and a half. Aside from the breaching thing, there was quite a bit of tail slapping and fin waving going on.

The banksia is in full colour and is full of birds every morning.

In the herb garden the Thai, or Holy, Basil is also in flower and attracting huge numbers of bees.

In the Kitchen

I’ve been experimenting with different noodle salads at least once a week – all part of the trying to eat a little bit healthier thing. This week it was Bun Cha – little Vietnamese pork patties with vermicelli noodles, a herb salad and a spicy dipping sauce. Very yum.

I had a colleague from Sydney working out of the Buderim Office this week, ie our home. We had a ridiculous amount of work to get through so booked out the meeting rooms for the week ie the dining table.

On Wednesday we cooked pho bo from scratch. We put the stock on during our lunch break – using a heap of beef short ribs and bucketloads of spices. We loved it on Wednesday night and enjoyed it even more for lunch on Thursday.

At the markets this week I bought a bag of passionfruit and turned them into passionfruit and vanilla pannacotta.

And yes, we’re still buying strawberries – direct from the farmer – despite what is going on in the supermarkets.

Using some of the berries we had in the freezer – a mix of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – I blitzed up this instant ice-cream that I heard about on a Gary Mehigan podcast. It’s 500g frozen berries, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 egg white all in the blender and blitzed. It comes out like soft serve.

Where we picnicked…

On Friday we took some fabulous Mooloolaba prawns, salad and bread rolls up to the Headland and looked for whales. We didn’t see any whales, but we did have the best lunch!

What I wrote…

With all the policy writing that went on last week, I’m running a few days behind in finishing my draft of the Tiff book for my editor. To say I’ve struggled with it would be an understatement.

In other news, I have the copy edit back from my editor but won’t start on that until I’ve finished with Tiff. The way that I’ve been struggling with the Tiff book even a copy edit seems preferable to work on at the moment!

I’ve also got a few concepts back for my cover for Happy Ever After. My faves are:

My pick is No 1 – I love the colours – but I’d love to know what you think.

Ok, that was my week – how was yours? 


Sentence a Day – August

August was a month that began with us still on our road-trip through NSW (you can find part 1 here and Part 2 here) and ended with business as usual. In between was a head-cold that I’m still not entirely over – a touch of asthma is still lurking around, but not enough to stop me from my morning walks.

Aside from the road trip and Eucumbene, the highlight for this month was a single ingredient dinner at Jimmy’s. This month the ingredient was pumpkin and it was featured very yummily in each of the four courses we were served. We’ve already booked in for next month!

The weather is currently gorgeous – blue skies and mild late winter days. The sun is up by 6 am and the morning shivers don’t last long. It’s a beautiful time of the year.

Hubby looking for whales

Anyways, without further ado, let’s wrap this month up.

1.Canberra. Caught up with my mother-in-law, pho in Dickson, and dinner with friends at Walt & Burley in Kingston – when did Kingston get so happening?


2. Canberra – coffee with Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit, catch-up with a friend, dosa for lunch at Dosa House in Garema Place, and a wander around the Art Gallery.

3. An icy start for our drive to Eucumbene. Day 1 around the campfire and the Clancys are already on fire – metaphorically rather than literally. Culinary hit of the day was the steamed dumplings.

4. The wind howled all night – as the wind down here can do. Into Jindabyne for a wander and a tasting at Wild Brumby Distillery before an afternoon of prep and cooking around the campfire. Golden syrup dumplings cooked in the billycan went down a treat.

5. While the other Clancys went looking for snow I had some serenity time outside in the cold reading my book. Jaffles with the lot on the menu – ie leftover time.

6. Began the drive home – as far as Cowra today via a snowy Kiandra, and stops in Tumut and Young.

7. Big 600km drive to Armidale via Wellington and a forgettable lunch stop at Werris Creek. A visit to Boo Books in Armidale and dinner at our fave – The White Bull.

8. Home the long way via Gatton, Esk, Kilcoy. Dog and daughter seemed pleased we’re home – although the dog was a tad more obviously pleased to see us.

9. Nice to wake up in our own bed. Back to work and a huge load of washing – all of which smelt of the campfire.

10. A sort of sleep-in before the monthly visit to the hairdressers. I also got a notification that my little astro blog is in the top 50 astrology blogs worldwide and no. 2 Australian Astrology blog. I think that’s probably a good thing. It’s also a reminder that I need to invest more time and effort into it.

11. Markets this morning. Oh, and I made an orange and almond cake.

12. Yum cha at the Plaza for a friend’s birthday.

13. It was Monday and it was blue – does that make it a Blue Monday? (That’s one for the New Order fans – and shows my age.)

14. Drinking heaps of hot water with lemon and ginger to try and ward off an impending head cold. In other news, there’s a butcher bird singing gloriously on next door’s aerial.

15. The head cold has a hold – first one in a couple of winters, but I fear it’s so bad it could be man flu. I prescribe myself whisky and chicken dumpling soup.

chicken dumpling soup

16. Feel like total crap and took my first sick day since about 2011. In other news, adding substantially to Kleenex’s revenue.

17. The head cold has turned to asthma and breathing and talking at the same time is a challenge I’m not quite up to.

18. Feeling a tad better today so made strawberry jam – as you do.

19. Decision Bowl lunch at Junk (Maroochydore) today, beach roads closed due to Sunshine Coast marathon, ordered Vietnam photo books, and Rake is back on telly.

20. Sunrise is getting so early – I think we might have seen the last one for this year.

Random trivia: Did you know that each colour of Bassett’s Jelly Babies – there are 3 million of them sold in the UK every week – has a name? And they all start with B. Don’t say you don’t learn anything from this blog.

21. Happy 50th to my sister. Wishing you all the best Tommy…

22. Recipe and foodie website launched – a new place for all things foodie. Welcome to the Brookford Kitchen Diaries.

a random shot of yoghurt and strawberries

23. Clarity around the new project that I’m not yet ready to talk about…watch this space. Roads and parking already closed around the beach in readiness for the Ironman 70.3 this weekend.

24. Friday = work on my novel day. Some words written – many more deleted.

25. Markets and a walk down to have a look at Flinders Fair. Gotta love the fete days at these posh schools – they absolutely have their priorities right with the largest space given over to the bar.

26. Astro get-together, lunch at Nguyen Bros, and rain – we need it but.

27. Roads and parking still closed around the beach after yesterday’s Ironman. All this disruption for one race that lasts half a day. Oh, and dolphins. Mondays are always better with dolphins.

28. Single ingredient dinner at Jimmy’s tonight. The ingredient? Pumpkin.

29. Cracker of a day which apart from my morning walk was spent mostly inside at my desk.

30. Dolphin sightings again this morning on the walk, work and a homemade tom yum soup for dinner.

31. Lunchtime sausage sandwich on Alex Hill. A lovely way to end the month.

What I’m reading:

I read six books this month, but the highlights were two memoirs by British food writer, Nigel Slater: Toast and Eating For England

What I’m Watching:

  • Jack Irish (ABC) Series is now ended, but I think still available on iview
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway (ABC) Series is now ended, but I think still available on iview
  • Rake (ABC) Yay, Cleaver’s back!
  • 800 Words (Channel 7)
  • Detectorists (ABC) Earlier series is on Netflix
  • The Split (ABC)
  • The Chefs Line (SBS) (Catch up on SBS on-demand)
  • All Aussie Adventures (It’s time to hit the road) (Channel 10)

Sentence a Day – July

July started in Melbourne and ended up somewhere very different. In between were work and writing and all the usual stuff of life. Some sun, some rain, some cold, some warm…no time to be bored. Anyways, here’s the month that was – in one (or more) sentences a day.

1. In Melbourne but heading home today. In other news, due to some over-eating of the truffle and dairy kind (not together) my tummy is complaining.

2. Thai Boat Noodle soup for lunch – it was medicinal.

3. Dolphins at play this morning – just splashes in the distance with the light catching their shiny backs. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think the rain has stopped.

4. Swedish Death Cleaning – Dostadning – is a thing…so, apparently, is work.

Random fact: Swedish Death Cleaning is about gradually getting rid of your stuff. The idea is to minimise the amount of clutter that you leave behind for others to deal with some day. According to the idea of dostadning (try saying that ten times in a row) your treasures will be a burden to someone else someday.

5. Beat the rain with a walk – some really cool cloud action to start a busy work day.

6. Friday and usually my day off the day job. Today, however, instead of writing words as I go through the usual monthly de-greying regime, I’m still doing corporate stuff. Don’t ask.

7. Inspired by Masterchef this week I’m doing Rick Stein’s butter chicken for dinner.  As an aside, beetroot powder is a thing – and it’s a fabulous colour.

8. My brother and his family arrive this afternoon. Decision bowl lunch was at Uptown Gastro Pub in Maroochydore – food was good, but service slow.

9. Blue skies, fish and chips on the beach with the Lyons Den for lunch, and slow cooked 5 spice lamb for dinner. Other than that? Work…of course.

10. Walk to Alex, work, and the Lyons Den leave on stage 2 of their holiday.

11. Road trip itinerary nailed. In other news, it was flipping freezing – yes, even in Queensland.

Random whine: When trying to book a double room in one country town that will remain unnamed, I hover over the fine print to see that the 2nd person in the room will cost an extra $20 a night. Yes folks, the 2nd person. The one sharing the same bed. Not a 3rd person who would need extra bedding, that would be fair enough, but the 2nd person. Essentially that makes it $20 for the 2nd towel. Now I’ve seen everything. As an aside, I booked the other motel in town. Rant over.

12. Rainy start to the day – not that it mattered, I was stuck inside working.

13. Ms T off to Yandina for house-sitting, and some words written in the best office in the world.

14. Markets early on a cold morning, an afternoon walk on the beach, tried the new gelateria at Mooloolaba Wharf, and a Bastille Day menu. And pelicans at the boat ramp…I love pelicans.

15. Corbins was drawn out of the decision bowl but closed today, so La Canteena and beers in a bucket for lunch instead. Five coronas for $25, we couldn’t say no.

16. Another cracker of a day, hubby to Bribie Island to farewell Uncle T as he heads back to England. I, on the other hand, didn’t leave my desk.

Random thought of the day: Never in the history of calming down has someone calmed down by being told to calm down. Just saying.

17. Cold start for our walk, blue skies, stuck at my desk for the rest of the day.

18. I was a guest judge at the Brisbane Office bake-off comp – a tough job, but someone had to do it. The three winning entries are below.

19. Blue skies and work…that’s all. Fires up around Peregian painted the sky tonight.

20. Sunshine Coast Velothon this morning so roads closed and unable to get to the beach for our walk. Instead, we walked a different route – from Currimundi to Shelly Beach…8kms return.

21. Saturday morning beach walk and a cruise ship moored just off Mooloolaba Beach – Mooloolaba certainly dressed in her fancy pants for the occasion. Back down at lunchtime for prawns in the park. In other news, the white chocolate cheesecake I made was pretty fantabulous. You’ll find the recipe here.

22. Mad Mex Cantina drawn out of the Decision Bowl for Sunday lunch – Ms 20 is ecstatic, me not so.

23. A blue sky start to Monday. Walk, work, and a rainforest walk at lunchtime – complete with a catbird that sounds like a baby crying.

Random fact: the pink and yellow flowers are lantana – which is a noxious weed…it’s also pretty.

24. Take yesterday and repeat – without the rainforest and the catbird.

25. In between work we started putting together pantry pack for Eucumbene.  Yes, we really are taking paella rice, saffron and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on a “camping” trip. The culinary competition is real folks.

26. There was a dolphin playing metres away from us this morning. A pink sky and dolphins – the day can’t get off to a better start than that.

27. Even though it’s Friday and my day off, I worked.

28. Got up early to watch the Mars and Moon show in the sky – it’s not every day you have a total eclipse under skies that clear. As for the rest of the day? Packing and cleaning – I can’t stand going away with a dirty house or any dirty clothes in the laundry.

29. Off on our road trip. Tonight’s scheduled stop is Narrabri in North Western NSW – and 666 kms away. The verdict? Narrabri is a lovely town – a very comfortable stop – but I can’t get over just how dry the country is…it’s heartbreaking.

somewhere between Moree and Narrabri

30. A lot of nothing for much of this morning’s drive. With a huge observatory at Coonabarabran, they’re a tad space-obsessed along this stretch of the Newell Highway.

at Gilgandra

We called in at The Dish just outside of Parkes. The last time I was here I think was back in about 1976 or 77. It hasn’t changed that much – but the visitor’s centre is very impressive.

Tonight’s stop is Cootamundra – 582km from Narrabri.

31. Tumbarumba. Even though I’ve never lived here if anyone ever asks me where my roots are it’s in this town – despite having been born in Sydney. It’s where my father was born and where his parents were born, lived their lives and died. The history of this town and the history of my family are so closely intertwined. Anyways, I’ll tell you more about that later.

Sugar Pine walk – about 20kms out of Tumba

What I watched:

  • Secret City (Netflix) – OMG this had me hooked.
  • Nanette (Netflix) – because everyone else was watching it.
  • Jack Irish (ABC)
  • Doc Martin (ABC) – I’m very late to the Doc Martin party
  • Masterchef…of course

I started watching the latest series of Poldark and am ashamed to say that I’m a tad over it. Not that I’m over Aidan Turner or the random shots of him emerging from the sea…no sirree…but I’m getting a tad tired of the story. Don’t throw anything.

What I listened to:

Other than my usuals, new podcasts for this month:

The Washing Up – a rundown of reality food programs with a heavy leaning to Masterchef at the moment. Don’t listen if you haven’t watched the episodes.

Wrong Skin – a podcast put out by Fairfax. Man, this is confronting and interesting. It’s an investigation into an unsolved death and a missing person in the outback, with themes of traditional law and relationships banned under those laws.

What I read:

I read 9 books over the month. My favourite reads were:

The Marmalade Files, by Chris Uhlman – political satire at its best and the basis of Secret City.

April in Paris 1921, by Tessa Lunney

The Hidden Cottage, Erica James

The Comfort Cafe series (I devoured them all – pun intended – over the month) by Debbie Johnson.

I’m on a road-trip at the moment and am blissfully wi-fi and cell-phone reception free – yes, those places do exist. I’ll respond to any comments when I’m back online.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

Sentence a day – June

June is done and we’re into the middle of winter. I suspect that I’ve acclimatised as I’ve really felt the cold so far this winter. Don’t look at me like that, the nights can get a tad chilly! Besides, I’m writing this at the airport in Melbourne where it’s really cold. Anyways, enough of the complaints, let’s wrap up June – in a sentence, or two, a day.

1. The morning spent writing at the Surf Club and the afternoon spent baking cookies and lasagne. This is what the first day of winter in Queensland looks like.

2. Friends up from Sydney for the weekend. Made a French Savoury Cake to go with tonight’s bubbles.

3. Fish and chips on the beach for lunch.

4. Monday morning walk, work, lunch at Korean, and a sad goodbye as my friends head back to Sydney.

5. Walk and work.

6. It’s cold – yes, even in Queensland. It’s a wear your uggies to work kind of day. Luckily I work from home. (As an aside, this isn’t me working…)

7. If you can’t say anything nice, talk about the weather – I worked and it rained.

8. Hairdressers, more rain, some baking, and some words.

9. Woke to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain had died. He travelled the way I like to travel – street food, real culture, to the gritty soul of a place.

Street art from Hosier Lane – I’m disappointed that someone has tagged this.

10. Lunch at Saltwater and finished binge-watching Collateral.

11. Queens Birthday holiday in Sydney so I have the day off – sort of, I still did a few hours. Anyways, a walk this morning and a picnic up at Mary Cairncross Park. And a photo of One Tree Hill.

12. Way too nice a day to be stuck inside working…just saying.

13. Take yesterday and repeat.

14. Back to back meetings and friends up from Sydney for the night.

15. Nambour Show Day so a public holiday. Dinner at Maroochy Surf Club with friends and a big win on the meat trays.

16. Off to Sydney – where it’s cold. Unplanned drinkies tonight with a girlfriend to watch the Socceroos.

17. Took a long walk around the city, lunch at the Opera Bar, and a look at my fave tree. You can read about it here. Shivered through the bus ride home.

18. Wind is icy this morning and I think I’ve put on every layer I brought with me. Good to see my colleagues in the office, and dinner in Castle Hill with friends.

19. Woke after a bad night feeling completely wrecked – too many late nights I suspect. Rainy and cold getting into work this morning and a weird pink sky tonight on the commute home.

20. There was an accordion player busking in Wynyard tunnel this morning playing “The Final Countdown”. Not only was I singing it all day, but it was weirdly uplifting. Out for dinner with friends – I’m way too old and tired for all this gallivanting on a school night.

Wynyard Tunnel

21. Heading home after work today. Jetstar flight right on time. #winning

22. Lunch at The Dock, blue skies and coffee with a friend.

23. My first attempt at homemade crumpets declared a success.

24. Can’t be faffed driving around looking for a carpark in Noosa so a redraw from the Decision Bowl had us having lunch at Rice Boi. Good result.

Pork bao

25. Ms T in Sydney for the week. I’ll see her in Melbourne on Friday.

26. Fun fact – in Cantonese wonton literally means “swallowing cloud” because they float in the broth like small clouds. That piece of trivia is much more exciting than my day – which was grey and a busy one in the office.

27. It’s raining again – some half decent words were written to try and get me out of the timeline tangle I’ve written myself into.

28. Missing my Nan today – she would have been 100. Man, she would have loved that – any excuse for a party!

29. Did you know that Speedo, the Aussie swimsuit company, was founded in the 1920s in Sydney by a Scotsman – Alexander McRae – who was born in a small highland fishing village near Loch Kishorn? Neither did I. In other news, off to Melbourne for a long weekend with MsT. Flight delayed, dumplings for lunch, best plate of pasta in recent memory for dinner, and something simply stupendous for dessert – but you’ll need to tune in on Thursday for the details.

30. A walk up to Brunswick for the best pizza ever. Seriously. Shopping this afternoon and continuing the Italian theme for dinner at Cecconis. Oh, how I love this city…I truly think I could be Italian…just saying

What I read

June was a huge reading month – all of the above. My read of the month? Lisa Ireland’s The Art of Friendship.

What I watched

  • Masterchef (of course)
  • Collateral (on Netflix)
  • I’ve just started watching Secret City on Netflix and am hooked. Canberra has never looked so interesting.
  • Shakespeare and Hathaway (ABC)
  • Poldark (ABC)

What I listened to

Aside from the usual podcasts I listen to while I’m working, I’ve discovered Branch Out – the podcast from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. It’s for research purposes.

How was your month? Read, watched or listened to anything great?

Sentence a Day… May

Banks of the Seine
The banks of the Seine

The first week of May saw a continuation of our France road-trip and the final stage – in Paris.

Then it was back home to work – and save for the next adventure!

What else? I got the structural notes back from my editor and somehow managed to finish the rewrite this month. This book is determined to write – and rewrite- itself.

Anyways, here is May in a sentence – sometimes two – a day.

Le Marais
Exploring the Marais district

1. It’s a public holiday here in France for May Day. F dropped us off just outside of Paris and we caught the metro in. Spent the afternoon exploring Le Marais – where we’re staying – and the banks of the Seine. Love this city.

2. Lots of ticks in boxes today: Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co bookshop, the Left Bank, Latin Quarter, a cruise on the Seine, Galeries Lafayette.

3. A great first half of the day with the markets at the Bastille to start, a walk to and through Pere Lachaise Cemetary (with the world’s funniest accidental guide). Second half not so great – a wander from Champs Elysee through the posh part of town and down to Place de la Concorde. That part of town is really not me – too much money, too many people and too many pickpockets.

Bastille Markets
Bastille Markets

4. Paris redeemed herself today with Promenade des Plantees, the artistic viaduct, flower markets and ice creams at Ile St- Louis. I’m in love with this city again. It’s not goodbye, it’s a bientot.

5. Off to the airport at 7.30am this morning and on our way home.

6. Saturday and Sunday spent on planes. Finally walked through the front door at around 7 pm. Why does Australia have to be so far away from everywhere?

7. It’s our 24th wedding anniversary – and a public holiday for Labour Day. The two are not connected. Spent the day washing clothes.

8. Back to work – do I have to? Oh, that’s right, I have the next adventure to save for. Stood on the scales & rather than the OMFG moment, I had an OMG moment of a different sort – I’d lost half a kilo…in France! There could be something to this French paradox…

9. Mammogram this morning (all clear) followed by work.

10. Craving pho so indulged at lunchtime.

11. Hairdresser this morning (greys be gone) and a good start on the rewrite of One More Dance/HappyEver After/Book No. 5. (My editor’s notes came back last week.)

12. Markets followed by brekky at Jimmy’s. Life all back to normal.

13. Mother’s Day and lunch at Corbins – yum cha with a difference.

14. Back to work Monday and finally some blue skies for this morning’s walk.


15. Take yesterday and repeat.

16. Some good progress on the novel rewrite in the best office in the world.

17. Managed to sneak a walk in before work and before the rain started.

18. A stormy morning cleared to a fab Friday. Back to the Surf Club for more words.

19. Markets this morning, house-cleaning & the Royal Wedding on TV. Saturday taken slow and easy.

20. Relatives from Gloucester (UK) called in today. I made a lemon and thyme cake in the bundt tin – the recipe is a keeper and will make it into the next novel I think.

21. The day is so beautifully blue it seems a pity to be inside working.


22. Mum and Dad here from Sydney for the rest of the week – hoping the good weather holds.

23. Canal cruise in Mooloolaba and a drive up and down the coast to show Mum and Dad around.

24. I had to work so hubby and daughter took Mum and Dad out to the hinterland for a look around and a picnic.

25. Lunch at Sum Yung Guys for a friend’s 60th.

26. Markets this morning & then whipped up a batch of lemon lime & bitters scones (the recipe is here) for morning tea before taking Mum and Dad to the airport – we’ve had a great few days.

27. Astro club at Golden Beach followed by lunch at Woombye Pub. Parmy and rissoles – you can’t get much more old school than that.

28. Do I have to go to work?

29. I repeat, do I have to go to work?

30. Noosa to buy some gifts, lunch with hubby at Betty’s Burgers, and work on the novel this afternoon.

31. A beautiful morning with a pod of dolphins playing just offshore. Another big day in the day job. In other news, I finished the rewrite on One More Dance/ Happy Ever After/Book No. 5 tonight.

Ok, that was my May – how was yours?