Tuesday 30 August 2011

The happiest refugee - a book

I just finished reading a very inspiring book called - The happiest refugee - written by Anh Do, a well known comedian in Australia. 

Image result for happiest refugee anh do

The book is about Anh´s life story from the moment when at the age of 2 he stepped aboard a wooden boat -  9mt long by 2,5mt wide - carrying 40 people to flee Vietnam after the war.
On their 5 day trip, they were twice raided by pirates who stole their food, jewellery and boat engines. They were eventually rescued by a merchant German ship who delivered them to a Malaysian refugee camp.
In 1980 his family was taken in by Australia under the Refugee plan.
His Dad thinking that they were going to Austria, had previously been collecting warm clothes and blankets at the refugee camp, and they were quite surprised with the 30ºC heat when landing in Sydney.

He always had a survival spirit in him, and at the age of 14 he started breeding tropical fish to sell and help his family. Later he had great success selling American-Indian artifacts at craft markets.
Wanting to earn a lot of money to help his mother, brother and sister (his Dad had in the meantime left them), he studied for a Law degree, and at the same time studied for an Arts degree.
When offered a job in a law firm which required a 65 hour a week working schedule, he decided to do stand-up comedy for a few hours a week instead, as he never really liked the competitive nature of the people who practiced law. So he had to work very hard and do a lot of gigs, to earn the sort of money he needed to buy his Mom the house he promised to buy her.
In conjunction with his brother Khoa Do, who is a film director and professional speaker, he has starred in some of his movies, was named Comedian of the year in 1999, has taken part in various TV comedy shows, came in second place on "Dancing with the Stars" and does a lot of motivational speaking engagements.

The book touches on everything:  from war, pirates, courage, language difficulties, racism, alcoholism, divorce, comedy, tragedy, hope and love. One minute it makes you laugh, the next minute you have tears in your eyes. The funniest part of the book for me was at his engagement party, when his whole family show up at his fiancee´s house, who lived in a very rich Sydney suburb. His Mother and uncles are carrying the traditional Vietnamese barbecued pig, but when they see the size of the house, his Mother panics and wants to go and buy an even bigger pig, as the metre long pig is surely not big enough to impress the future in-laws.
She feared that the bride´s parents would think that Ahn and his family weren´t rich enough to take care of their daughter in the manner she was accustomed to.
Another funny moment is when they have to slice up the pig and the Vietnamese women cannot find a meat cleaver in the kitchen cupboards. Having tried various knifes unsuccessfully, they look for a heavy object to force the knife through and settle on a frozen chicken for that.

Their dad´s motto was "There´s now and there´s too late" and that´s how Ahn has lived his life.
Have you read a book that has inspired you?

Footnote: Anh´s brother Khoa was named "Young Australian of the year" in 2005 for his leadership, compassion and will to inspire Australians on issues that affect the community. He is very involved with under-privileged youngsters, especially in the Vietnamese community in Sydney.

Friday 26 August 2011

Daffodil Day

This year marks the 25th year Daffodil day is celebrated in Australia. It´s a national fundraising event to help cancer research, prevention and support services.
This year Daffodil Day aims to raise $9,5 million across Australia, with over ten thousand volunteers raising money through the sale of daffodil pins, pens and key rings.

At the GP clinic where I work, we also had a little box with things to sell which the Cancer Council had sent us a couple of weeks ago. One of my colleagues, Emily had the lovely idea of baking mini cupcakes with yellow icing, which we had on the counter. Patients could have one and most of them made a small donation to the Cancer Council. It´s a good initiative and easy to participate and of course we had a different day, brightening the waiting room with our yellow clothes and yellow balloons.

I wonder if this initiative is celebrated in other parts of the world?
Don't you think it´s a lovely idea?

Emily and I wearing our yellow clothes

Emily´s mini-cupcakes
Box of pins, pens and key rings for sale

Wednesday 24 August 2011


I had a nice surprise when I checked my blog this afternoon on my return from work.                                       Piglet in Portugal , a recent blogging friend, had awarded me the LIEBSTER AWARD.

                                                   Thank you Piglet for the lovely thought :)

The Liebster award (“Liebster” is the German word for friend or love) originated in Germany.
The aim of the award is to bring more attention to blogs with fewer than 200 followers, that people think deserve some additional attention.  
These are the rules in accepting this award.
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.
5. And best of all – have fun and spread the karma!
6. Right click on the award image and save it to your hard-drive and then upload it to your blog.
 Don’t forget to add it to your sidebar….

The easy part is accepting the award the difficult part is choosing 5 other bloggers to pass the award on to.
So please pass it on to the next 5 deserving bloggers!!

1 -   - a blog about an American in Cape Town, South Africa

Lovely Light

2 -     Emily, a young crochet fanatic from Perth, Australia.


3 -  -    Hollie, blogs about her ideas and projects in home decor blog


4 -    - Debs shares her experience with living and working with coeliac disease and shares Gluten free recipes. 

5 -       - Amanda is a young designer from Perth who I met when we both did our blogging course.

 amanda alessi

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Panacota with Rhubarb Compote

As per the previous post - On my mind - weekend renovations, this Sunday our friend Tony came around to help hubby with the laundry plumbing.

While they toiled away, I started preparing lunch and close to lunchtime our son  Michael went to get our friend´s wife to join us for lunch.
I made stuffed chicken breasts (a Jamie Oliver recipe that I had recently seen on TV) ,white rice and Eggplant Parmigiana.
For dessert we had Panacota with stewed rhubarb, Gluten free Apple cake, and an Almond cake brought by our guest.

(forgot to take pic of the whole pudding in serving bowl)
Here is the Panacota recipe as everyone loves it.
(Recipe given to me by my sister in law Grace).
Below is the recipe for the Rhubarb compote.

 800ml low fat fresh cream
 250ml milk
 90 gr sugar
 1 teaspoon coffee essence (I usually use vanilla essence)
 1 tablespoon Philadelphia cheese (or cream cheese)
 100 gr white chocolate
 4 teaspoons powdered gelatin

 Boil the cream with the milk and add the coffee essence and sugar.
 Remove from the heat and stir in the broken pieces of chocolate, making sure it dissolves well.
 If it doesn´t put the pan over very low heat for a couple of minutes until it´s all dissolved.

 Out of the heat add the gelatine that has been previously dissolved in half a cup of cold water.
 Stir well and pour into a pretty serving bowl and let cool before putting in the fridge to set for 
 about 4 hours before serving.

 When serving pour over the warm Rhubarb compote.
 (You could also make a topping using 100gr of frozen berries, three spoons of sugar, 
  bring to boil and pour over dessert).
                                             _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

 3 stalks of rhubarb cut into small pieces
 1/2 cup sugar
 2 teaspoons mixed spice 
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 3 tablespoon sugar, extra

 Put rhubarb and sugar in a small pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 
 about 10 minutes or until tender. Take from heat and stir in the mixed spice and cinnamon 
 and the extra sugar. Spoon over the Panacota while still warm.

Enjoy it!!

Friday 19 August 2011

Laundry renovation

Linking up with the regular Friday feature at Rhonda´s Down to Earth, "On my mind" are the renovations we are planning for our laundry.
Our good friend Tony will come on Sunday to help change the plumbing, so my very clever hubby and son can install the new laundry sink and new front loader washing machine and counter.
Then Michael, our son will do the tiling, I will do the grouting and painting .... 
I will post pictures when finished, right now this is what is looks like.

Laundry when we bought the house
We now have a broom cupboard and wall cupboard, wall tiles removed, but no sink yet

This is how our laundry looks after the renovations.

Weekend SMILE - photos of my cats

I´m always photographing our cats - they bring a smile to my face, whenever I find them in a funny position.
I have probably taken more photos of them than of my children during their growing years.
Of course digital cameras help the process...before we had to finish the film of 24 or 36 photos, then take them to the photo shop to be developed, where we found a few of them would be useless, and there was no turning back to that moment!!
So smile, as I smile, while you look through a few of the funnier moments of my cats.
What makes you smile about your pets?

Have a great weekend!!

Twiggy, Mommy and Shelley sleeping
Mommy, Twiggy and Fluffy entangled in the wicker chair

Mommy and Fluffy watch the world go by...

It´s cold out there - Mommy and Twiggy keep warm
Twiggy on top of a ladder where I hang potplants in the garden

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Early morning visit to the Dentist

This morning I went to the dentist to finish the crown procedure that was started two weeks ago.
The first time the dentist had to anesthetize my mouth to prepare the tooth -  he removed some of the outer surface, made a mould of it to go the lab, chose a colour to fit with the rest of my teeth, and then fitted a temporary crown. This was all quite painless of course and I just had to refrain from eating or drinking hot things for a couple of hours until I regained feeling on my gums.
This is not me of course, just to show the rubber mat!

Today, after sitting on the chair, being fitted with the blue plastic goggles and the bib, the dentist removed the temporary crown, fitted the final one, and then it was adjusted by biting, moving the teeth back and forward, to check it is the right height, etc.
But because I had two fillings to be done as well, midway through the procedure he administered some anesthetic into my gum and then continued working on the crown fitting.

After he was satisfied that all was in top shape, he proceeded to fit the latex green mat over the area where he would be working. The dentist cuts a little hole to fit over the tooth where he will be working and it apparently is better for the patient, as it protects us from swallowing the debris of the drilled tooth, or from breathing in any chemicals used in the fillings and protects our gums and tongue from harm from the drill.

Even though it´s meant to be good for us, I really hate when the rubber mat is fitted to my mouth, I can´t stand the taste of the rubber! I can´t even chew bubble gum for over 10 minutes as I start to feel nauseous.
The rubber mat has the same effect on me, so I really have to try and float away into an island dream holiday to take my mind away from  it.
I hadn´t been to the dentist for about 2 years, and luckily now he has a big TV screen on the ceiling, so while the patients lie there, they can be entertained with the shows.
Last week I watched the Morning show, but this morning they had a boring music concert that wasn´t doing the trick for me!

So I really had to try hard to imagine my dream island and its transparent blue warm waters....while my saliva was running down to my neck...
See you next year Dr!! (I have to say to his credit that he is a very nice young dentist and I never feel pain)

My dream island holiday in Bora Bora...

What are you thoughts on this latex rubber mat? Does your dentist also use it?

Monday 15 August 2011

Carnac Island

Sunny Sunday and we are off to Fremantle to join our boat owner friends at the harbour.
Laden with picnic baskets, fishing rods and snorkeling gear (our friends are certified divers), we jump on the beautiful yacht and settle into a seat for our trip to Carnac Island.
Carnac Island is just 10km away from Fremantle, a nature reserve full of seals, sea lions and birds.

You can go ashore, which I didn´t as I don´t enjoy swimming in cold water, but hubby and our friends ventured inland and walked close to the seals.
Be careful, because they are wild animals, although they do look so cute. Some of them swam close to the boat and I wish I had a better camera to take close up photos of them.

I stayed on the yacht reading the newspaper - silly me, after 10 minutes I had a massive headache because the boat was rocking, and didn´t feel too well the rest of the day.

Everybody came back, we had our picnic and then the fishing started - but the fish caught was far too small and they threw it back in the water.
It was a fun day, the only downside being my headache, so I know not to read next time!
We are lucky to have an island so close to Perth, where you can go for free and still see beautiful wildlife.
And of course we are lucky to have friends who own a boat as well, don´t you think so?

On the way to Carnac Island

This one came close to the boat!
Hello friends!!!

Arriving at Fremantle Harbour, with restaurants and bars near harbour
Another yacht on the way back to Fremantle

Putting the boats away on their "shelves" in Fremantle Harbour

Saturday 13 August 2011

A day in the garden

After a sleep in, I woke up to a beautiful sunny day - the maximum temperature was 23ºC, and in just over 2 weeks we will be starting Spring.

People are already wearing shorts and T-shirts. Oh, I think they were already wearing that throughout winter, I was one of the those that had my arms and legs covered.
But today I put on my jeans and T-shirt, and after breakfast went shopping, made lunch and then went out into the garden to pick weeds.

Weeds? Yes, boring job, but unfortunately with all the rain of the past weeks they seem to have sprouted everywhere.

Our front garden is once again lovely and green after so much rain, but the weeds compete with the grass, so don´t know if there is now more weeds than grass, or vice-versa. Of course, the fact that the neighbours on either side have not cleaned their weeds does not help, as any wind will blow seeds our way!!
In Summer, on the other hand, because of the lack of water we don´t water our lawn, so our front garden is reduced to brown grass with bare patches everywhere.
I´m seriously considering removing all the grass and making some sort of native garden with lots of gravel and stones, mulch, succulent plants, cacti....
I´ve been looking at online photos for inspiration and I think it will be a lot better than wasting time picking weeds out every winter or having an ugly brown patch in summer!

In our back yard I have already planted a little patch with succulents and I really enjoy looking at it through my kitchen window.

The roses were pruned as it´s pruning time....and I picked the last 6 nectarines from our nectarine/lemon tree.

The last bunch of roses picked before pruning

Nightfall came and the wind started picking up, black clouds covered the sky, and suddenly it started to rain heavily.
I´m glad I picked those last nectarines, otherwise they would have fallen to the ground and been wasted.

It was a productive day as well a a very enjoyable day out in the "springy" weather.
For someone who never enjoyed gardening I think I´m doing well. I can´t say I have green fingers, still too many failures, but at least my succulent garden is holding up well.
Now, the veggie garden is hubby´s domain; I really don´t seem to do too well in that area, but because he is working interstate and is only home on the weekends, the veggies have been a bit neglected...

View of back yard from the sink by the kitchen window 

What do you think of my backyard view through my kitchen window?
Dishwashing with a view!!     

Friday 12 August 2011

I've Been EveryWhere - Australian country song

I've Been Everywhere - this is a typical Australian country song which I find very funny as the singer mentions hundreds of names of towns in such a rapid way you can hardly understand them.

It was written by Geoff Mack in 1959 and originally recorded and made popular by singer Lucky Starr in 1962.
He later wrote an American version with American cities replacing the originals.
It became a Nr.1 hit in the USA Country Music in November 1962 when Hank Snow recorded it.
It's also been recorded by Johnny Cash (1996), Willie Nelson, The Statler Brothers, and others and used in numerous commercials.

Lucky Starr - I've Been EveryWhere -- Get your lips around this song!


Well, I was humpin' my bluey on the dusty Oodnadatta road,
When along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load.
(Spoken) "If you're goin' to Oodnadatta, mate, um, with me you can ride."
So I climbed in the cabin and I settled down inside.
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand, I said
"Listen, mate, I've travelled ev'ry road in this here land."

Cos I've been everywhere, man,
I've been everywhere, man.
'Cross the deserts bare, man;
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been ev'rywhere.

Been to:
Tullamore, Seymour, Lismore, Mooloolaba,
Nambour, Maroochydore, Kilmore, Murwillumbah,
Birdsville, Emmaville, Wallaville, Cunnamulla,
Condamine, Strathpine, Proserpine, Ulladulla,
Darwin, Gin Gin, Deniliquin, Muckadilla,
Wallumbilla, Boggabilla, Kumbarilla,
I'm a killer.

(Spoken) "Yeah but listen here, mate, have you been to..."

I've been to Moree, Taree, Jerilderie, Bambaroo,
Toowoomba, Gunnedah, Caringbah, Woolloomooloo,
Dalveen, Tamborine, Engadine, Jindabyne,
Lithgow, Casino, Brigalow and Narromine,
Megalong, Wyong, Tuggerawong, Wangarella,
Morella, Augathella, Brindabella, I'm the feller.

(Spoken) "Yeah, I know that, but have you been to..."

I've been to Wollongong, Geelong, Kurrajong, Mullumbimby,
Mittagong, Molong, Grong Grong, Goondiwindi,
Yarra Yarra, Boroondara, Wallangarra, Turramurra,
Boggabri, Gundagai, Narrabri, Tibooburra,
Gulgong, Adelong, Billabong, Cabramatta,
Parramatta, Wangaratta*, Coolangatta, what's it matter?

(Spoken) "Yeah, look that's fine, but how about..."

I've been to Ettalong, Dandenong, Woodenbong, Ballarat,
Canberra, Milperra, Unanderra, Captain's Flat,
Cloncurry, River Murray, Kurri Kurri, Girraween,
Terrigal, Fingal, Stockinbingal, Collaroy and Narrabeen,
Bendigo, Dorrigo, Bangalow, Indooroopilly,
Kirribilli, Yeerongpilly, Wollondilly, don't be silly.

I've been here, there, ev'rywhere, I've been ev'rywhere.

(Spoken) "Okay, mate, you've been ev'ry place except one, and ya don't need my help t'get there."
(Sound of door slamming and truck driving off.)

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Census Night - 9 August 2011

Today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics is holding a Census to collect information about how people live, what work they do, religion, schooling, etc, to enable the Government to plan infrastructure, community services, schools, roads, hospitals, for where they are needed.

It is held every 5 years, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first census held in 1911.
Every household is required to answer the questions either on paper form (these were delivered last week) or online, as it is compulsory.
People staying in hotels, camping places, hospitals or travelling around Australia will also be counted on Census night.

I feel very excited to take part in this Census, as it´s the first time I am being counted in a Census anywhere in the world!!

So goodnight,  I´m off to fill in my details online...

Saturday 6 August 2011


One of our lemon trees, packed with fruit
We have two lemon trees in our backyard - one is a Meyer Lemon tree and the other is a half lemon/half mandarin tree, and doesn´t usually bear many of either fruits. 
In the last couple of weeks, due to the rain and some wind, a lot of the fruit fell to the ground,  so most days I would pick half a dozen from the ground and throw them out. We are now down to the last 5 or 6 mandarins...

But our main lemon tree is once again laden with fruit, it´s branches touching the soil.
Some days I will pick lemons and take a bag to the clinic where I work, so people can just take a few lemons home, or otherwise I put a box by the street verge so people walking by can take them, as it´s a pity if they go to waste.

I´m always trying to make things with lemon - lemon pie, lemonade, lemon cheesecake, lemon jam, chicken with lemon...
Today I decided to try Lemon Butter, a recipe given to me by my former work colleague Jan
The finished product : 6 jars of lemon butter

LEMON BUTTER (or Lemon Curd)

Grated zest & juice of 4 large juicy lemons
4 large eggs
350g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, cut into small lumps
1 dessert spoon cornflour (to thicken)

Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium sized saucepan, then add the rest of the ingredients & place the saucepan over  medium heat. 
Whisk continuously until the mixture thickens, about 7-8 mins.
 Lower the heat to minimum setting & let the curd gently simmer for a further minute, continuing to whisk.
 Pour lemon curd into jars, filling them as full as possible.
Cover straightaway with lids while still hot.
Label jars when cold.  Will keep for several weeks, stored in a cool place.
Makes approx 3,  350ml capacity jars.

(I doubled the recipe, reason why I filled 6 jars)

Sami´s lemon butter

And here is the proof, it tastes good and I have a few jars to give away to friends as well.

Thursday 4 August 2011


Australians have the habit of shortening words or giving different names to things. Some words in the Australian English are influenced by some of the Aboriginal languages – like yakka (work) and  cooee (a call used by Aborigines in the bush).
Their way of speaking can also be a bit difficult to understand as many people tend to assimilate syllables and omit the consonants and speak with a nasal accent – like Paul Hogan in his Crocodile Dundee movies, which further complicates the non English speaker.
Shortly after we arrived in Perth, we attended a work function at my husband´s company. While waiting outside with some of his colleagues, one of them started telling a story about a “chook” that he had put in someone´s car and how that person was horrified at the mess the “chook” made. 
Everyone laughed and laughed, but we just stood there not having understood the joke at all, but not wanting to make fools of ourselves!
A few days later I had the opportunity of asking a friend what a chook was, and she said it was a chicken!! I would have never guessed!

Here is a "chook" restaurant in Perth

Here are some of the most used words in everyday language:

Arvo – afternoon  (I do have a pet hate about this word being used in the news, as I find proper English should be used!

Aussie – Australian

Bathers – swimming costume

Barbie – Barbecue    (Let´s have a barbie with some snags (sausages)
Brekkie – breakfast      (Brekkie, brickie and bikkie - are quite similar and confusing to me)
Brickie – brick layer
Bikkie – biscuit
Chrissie – Christmas
Ciggie – cigarette
Digger – originally a miner in the goldfields, now used to refer to an Australian soldier
Dunny – toilet or outhouse
Esky – insulated food/drink container for picnics (cooler box)
Garbo – a garbage man
Kindie – kindergarten, pre-school
Lippy – lipstick
Maccas – McDonald´s (hamburgers)
Mozzie – mosquito
Ocker – a lay about, casual no worries attitude to life
Pollie – politician
Postie – postman
Pressies -  presents
Pushie – bicycle, pushbike  
Rellies – relatives
Shout – to buy a round of drinks  -  Once I went out with 2 colleagues and one of them said "It´s my shout", and I asked her "what are you shouting about"?  That´s when she explained "she was buying the drinks".
Sickie – taking a day off being sick
Smoko –work break, even non-smokers have a smoko, to eat or have a coffee
Sparkie - electrician
Tea – evening meal  (dinner is the mid-day meal or lunch)  
Uey, uy  or  youee – to make a U-turn while driving
youse - plural you. “Why don’t youse come over for a cuppa this arvo.
And the list goes on and on!! It´s like learning a new language...
I certainly don´t use most of these words in my daily vocabulary but I have become familiar with them. I think when you speak a language that is not your mother tongue, you tend not to use the "strange" expressions that are native to that language, as somehow they just 
don´t sound as natural when spoken by a non-native.
Can you match some of these funny expressions?