Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still stitching....even though I'm riding.

I know what you're thinking...how can I write this blog if I'm cycling my way from Yarrawonga to Marysville? Well, that's because I am super organised in advance. So, while I am peddling away, you can keep up to date on my stitching activities and upon my return I will have so much to tell you...

So, in the mean time let me fill you in on my stitching...

I love the detail of things and stockings are no exceptions. I've taken some close up photos of some of the details of a couple of stockings. The trinkets, I feel, really make the stocking. Plain also looks lovely too, but I guess I do enjoy a little bit of 'bling'. I have to say, these stockings are always a talking point.

Have a look at the details and see if you can pick a favourite.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cross stitching, needle work or sewing

As you know I really enjoy my needle work and it has been a growing passion over the years. I’ve tried knitting, dressmaking, and cross stitch. My favourite evidently, is needle work. I love my cross stitching and a favourite has to be the Christmas stockings.

The new Shepherds Bush Christmas stocking has just been released. This year it is a girl pattern named Sadie. She is really gorgeous and I am sure will be a real incentive to get the needle and threads out and start stitching. Take a look at Sadie. Remember to click on page 2 to order her. (you'll notice page numbers located down the bottom of the page).

Our little group of stitchers that meet each week are all stitching Christmas stockings. Some of them have already completed one and are onto another. One of the girls has been flatout stitching and she is just about to complete her 4th.

One of the fun parts is choosing a colour pallet and fabrics to match with the colourings on the pattern. Here are a couple that I bunched together and photographed. Just lovely really...

The girls that cross stitch are doing such a great job. Here are couple of samples of their work.

With the lead up to Christmas, many of my girls have been stitching to finish stockings for gifts for Christmas, so I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Final Preparation for the Bike Ride

I can't believe that after all the training and spin classes that the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride is almost upon us.

I have spent much of today packing and repacking. We have a limit of 20kg each person, including our camping equipment. Everything bought has been with weight in mind and I am surprised at how we are well under out limit.

All our bags have to be tagged and lined with plastic bags, in case they get wet, and I am certainly wondering how 5000 bike rider's equipment is going to be transported daily... a logistical nightmare, I imagine. As I am not taking a handbag because of room and weight, I am using one of my great travel wallets from the shop. It holds all of the travel documents and cards that I need. Another great find from RAPT UP , is the shampoo bar, it eliminates having to take shampoo, soap and conditioner. When room is of the essence, it will fit the bill.

We will be leaving Mildura at 8am Friday morning, and drive to Yarrawonga. There are seven in our group, half of us are on mountain bikes the others are on road bikes. As no family or friends are to follow the ride by car, there was the problem of how we were going to drive back once arriving in Marysville. My very kind brother-in-law in Melbourne, offered to bus it up to Yarrawonga and take the van back to Melbourne and then meet us in Marysville on day 9.

Once there we have to register and proceed to the camping ground to set up. Saturday morning the ride begins at 9am and our first day is 71kms to Dookie. The terrain looks OK for that day. It's the next day that could be concerning ( big hills ). You will have to wait for my blog updates after the ride to see how I fared.

The bags are packed, the bikes serviced, the excitement growing. RACV Great Vic Bike Ride - Yarrawonga to Marysville... HERE WE COME.

Friday, November 19, 2010

With the help of Friends

Having David working away has been a hindrance with the gardening project, but some wonderful friends helped me transport and plant the lawn mentioned in my last blog.

It was huge effort, and with that in mind I invited them to dinner the next night as a thank you.

The menu was fairly simple, the main meal one that I have served on many occasions, but always enjoyed.

We started off with an antipasto platter followed by The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad from Jamie Oliver and ending with a Lemon pavlova roll served with marinated berries and orange cream.

The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad.
Serves 4 - 6

4 whole chicken legs ( I did use more as mine were small )
1 loaf of ciabatta bread torn into thumb size pieces.
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves roughly chopped.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
12 thin slices of pancetta.
1 clove of garlic.
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil - drained.
75g freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche.
Juice of one lemon.
Extra olive oil.
2 - 3 cos lettuce.

Preheat the oven to 200cel.
Place the chicken in a snug fitting roasting tray with the pieces of torn up bread.
Sprinkle with the rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Mix with hands to make sure it is all well coated, then lift the chicken legs up to the top, so they sit above the bread. This way the bread soaks up all the lovely juices and you end up with the best croutons.

Cook the chicken for about 45 minutes until nicely cooked. Take out and drape the chicken and croutons with the pancetta and cook for a further 15 minutes until nice and crispy. When cooked remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While cooking you can make the dressing. I use a small kitchen whiz to make the dressing.
Whiz the garlic and anchovies first, then add Parmesan cheese and the creme fraiche, lemon juice and three times as much olive oil as lemon juice. Add extra olive oil if the dressing is too thick, it should be pourable.

Wash and tear the cos lettuce. Pull the meat off the chicken bones and toss with the lettuce, pancetta, croutons and the yummy cheesy dressing.

I serve it on a large oval platter which makes it easy for serving.

It's always a winner.

The dessert was one I often made a long time ago so I have revisited it.

The Lemon Pavlova Roll with Marinated Berries and Orange Cream.

4 egg whites.
3/4 cup Castor sugar.
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
1 teaspoon to white vinegar.
1 teaspoon of cornflour.
Extra Castor sugar.
1/4 cup of lemon butter.

Marinated Berries.

2 cups frozen or fresh mixed berries.
2 tablespoons of orange flavoured liqueur. (I used cointreau.)
1/4 icing sugar.

Orange Cream.
1 300ml carton thickened cream.
2 tablespoons icing sugar.
1 teaspoon of grated orange rind.
1 tablespoon of orange flavoured liqueur.

Grease and line a 25 x 30 cm Swiss roll tin.
Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Add Castor sugar one spoon at a time till all dissolved. Fold in essence, vinegar and cornflour. Spread into prepared tin and cook in a slow oven 150cel for about 20min or until slightly brown and firm to touch.

Cover a wire rack with baking paper, sprinkled with Castor sugar. Turn meringue onto paper removing the lining paper. Spread with lemon butter while warm and let cool.

Marinated Berries - Combine all ingredients and let stand for 30 minutes.

Orange Cream - Beat all ingredients in a bowl till soft peaks form.

Using paper as a guide roll meringue from long side. Cut into pieces and serve with the berries and cream.
It was "to die for".

It was a lovely casual night, washed down with a couple of good bottles of wine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to the Gardening

It seems weeks since I have been back out into creating the garden. We have had a lot of rain over the past few weeks which seemed to appear just when I was all set for a big gardening day. The rain has been wonderful though, making digging easy.

I am sick of the red dirt blowing around the house, so when there was an offer of a large amount of Santa Anna Couch, I jumped at it. With the help of some friends, we dug it up transported it over to our house and now I have started to lay it. It is the perfect time to get the lawn in, and as it's hardy and quick growing. It should cover a good area in no time.

David is working away at present and not here to do some of the larger jobs, which means I have to do tasks that I can manage. Transplanting lawn is one I can do. The list of jobs for David is growing by the day and it will certainly be no rest for him when he comes home. I have been laying a pieces of lawn everyday and now have only one large section to complete.

We had large areas of Santa Anna Couch at our last property, and because we know it is hardy, quick growing and drought tolerant we have decided to use it again. It's also good when you have dogs around as it is very resilient

Although we have had lots or rain over the past couple of months, living with a drought for 10 years, makes you realize that we can't waste water. It is such a precious commodity. All of our garden is planned with that in mind.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Port To Port Cycling Race

Last weekend I competed in the Port to Port Cycling Race from the Mildura Wharf to Echuca with an overnight stop at Swan Hill.

You ride as a team and I was in the mountain bike team named the Dirty Dozen and we were using the ride as a training exercise for the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride at the end of November.

Teams come from all over Victoria to compete and there were some serious riders amongst the 300 plus riders.

All teams were on the road from the Mildura Wharf and then you could decide how far you would ride before you got in your support vehicle. Our team was riding for 20kms, then in the support vehicle for 20 - 30kms and then back on the bike. Most of the other teams rode longer distances than us, and some teams rode all the way.

There were two compulsory stops to Swan Hill. One at Wemen, the other at Boundary Bend.

Our first stop was RedCliffs, where we all managed to get there easily. We then bussed to Hattah and then rode again. The going was tough as it was a strong head wind and I was mighty glad to complete the 20kms and climb in the bus. We continued like this to Boundary Bend for lunch.

The going continued to be tough with the wind and the temperature, which was about 27Cel. We arrived at Swan Hill after riding 90kms out of the 250kms. We all were very tired and a bit sore and I was wondering how I was going to get back on the bike the next day.

Our overnight accommodation was in the dormitories at the Pioneer Village. Our catered dinner of pasta arrived at 7 pm and by 9pm most of us were in bed exhausted.

Up at 5am,(I must be crazy) and was surprised to be not sore or achy at all. All of those spin classes must be paying off. We had breakfast and were on the road by 7am.

The ride to Echuca is only 153km's and there were two compulsory stops at Cohuna and a service station 30kms out of Echuca.

The riding appeared easier today. Not sure if we were accustomed to it but we all rode strongly. The conditions were a bit easier but there were times when we were confronted with strong head winds.

We arrived at the oval in Echuca at 1.30pm tired, hot but elated that we rode so well. We completed 70kms today, and that took us to 160 for the weekend. Many teams commented to us that we done it tough as it is extra hard on mountain bikes versus a road bike.

We climbed in the bus for the 4hour ride home tired but very happy and proud that we completed the ride fairly easly with no injuries, sore spots or bike worries.

The weekend gave me the confidence to know that I can tackle the big ride in a few weeks.

It was a wonderfully organized weekend with Police, ambulance and lots of volunteer marshals all working together. Peter Mills from Body Business Mildura was the tour director and a great job was done by him. Thank-you to all for a great happy and safe ride.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad Times

I don't think anything prepares you for the loss of your parents. You just feel so lost, and there is the sudden realization that we are the next generation and the head of the family that we have created.

Our dear Dad passed away on October 17th 2010. He has been in care for three years in an aged care facility, and we have all been watching him slowely decline for the past 18 months. I had visited him on Saturday afternooon and there was no indication that would be the last time I would speak to him. Early Sunday morning I received a call that he had taken a turn for the worst and went straight out there. The moment I saw him I knew his time was coming to a close.

I have only one sister, she lives in Melbourne and she made a quick dash by plane, to be there to say our last goodbyes. The same as we had done 10 years before when we lost our Mum. We sat with him all day, along with his eldest granddauaghter, we talked to him all day, told him we loved and what a lovely Dad and Pa he was. At 11pm he slipped peacefully away from us to begin his journey with Mum once again.

Times like this make you reflect upon your life. Dad was 89 years old and has lived a good life. My sister and I are lucky to have had a very happy childhood, family holdiays were a must and our weekends were spent playing tennis at a local tennis club that Dad was one of the founding members. He was loved by his five grandchildren who he and Mum loved with a passion and the kids have many wonderful memories.

We laid him to rest at the Merbein Cemetery at a graveside service. It was such a lovely morning, warm, birds chirping, and as sad as it is that he is no more in our lives, we know he is at peace with our dear Mum.