Friday 30 September 2011

My mom´s 2nd book was published today

I can proudly announce my Mom´s second novel was unveiled today - "Mae Preta" - "Black Mother"

The previous one was called - "O meu pecado"  -  "My sin" .
Both novels have been self-published as unfortunately it´s very hard to get a book published at her age, and being an unknown as well. But she persisted and fought for what she wanted to do.
I am proud of her, because not many years ago she didn't even know how to work with computers, now she  uses it on a daily basis, to  write her books, internet, etc
She is already working away at a book of poems and another novel.
Also just over a year ago she started a blog, long before I started mine which was just 3 months ago.
I have given her a little help lately with her blog because I have more knowledge about html coding, etc, etc, but the bone structure was originally there already, so all this is a great achievement for someone in her 70´s.

Both novels are in Portuguese, although she would love to have them translated into English one day.
They are both set in Africa, where we spent most of our lives.
Well done to you Mom!!

The bigger book is the one published today, the grey one was published 2 years ago.

Thursday 29 September 2011

50th Post and my first batch of Laundry Liquid

Two milestones to commemorate today!
The first being the fact that it´s my 50th post, since I started blogging 3 months ago. Not bad I think, I never thought I would get to this stage this quick.

The second one is the fact that I have officially become "green". Although I have for some time just used the "Earth" range of cleaning products, I had never attempted to make my own cleaning agents.

Thanks to Rhonda who has lots of home made Green cleaning recipes, I decided to try my hand at making my own Laundry Liquid..
I bought all ingredients on Wednesday when I went shopping, and bought a copy of the  "Women´s Weekly", which is actually the most loved Australian monthly (not weekly) magazine, and to my surprise there was an article about Rhonda and how to have a simple life and the laundry liquid recipe was in the magazine too.

The ingredients used
So here it is in case you would like to try it.
It´s simple to make, takes about 30 minutes and the ingredients are available in the supermarket.

Laundry Liquid
1 1/2 lt water
1 bar of laundry soap, grated on a cheese grater or 1 cup Lux flakes
1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda or bicarb soda)
1/2 cup borax

10 litre bucket
Wooden spoon for mixing
Bottles to store the mixture

1 - In a medium saucepan add water and soap. Stir over medium heat until soap is dissolved. Add washing soda and borax and stir until thickened and remove from heat.

2 - Pour mixture into a 10 litre bucket then fill the bucket with water from the tap. Stir to combine the ingredients. The laundry liquid will thicken as it cools.

3 - Store in clean plastic or glass bottles, but do not fill to the top - mixture needs to be shaken before each use.

4 - Use 1/4 cup or 1 laundry scoop of mixture per load or monitor to see what works for you.
It´s suitable for top and front loading machines. This liquid will not make suds.
Cost: $4,50 for 10lt.

Boiling away
The 10 litre bucket

The finished product

If you use fabric softener, you can replace that with 1/2 cup white vinegar in the final rinse.                                                    

Good luck to you all, I hope you try it, as we should all be doing something to help our planet as well as benefiting our wallets.
I cannot wait to try my new liquid on my next washing day.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Kings Park Spring Festival 2011

After the stormy day we had yesterday, I woke up to a sunny day. Because I had the day off, I thought it would be a great idea to visit the Kings Park Spring Festival.
As per my previous post about this festival held every year in September, the last day was today, so I called two friends and the three of us went to Kings Park. We had a wonderful day, the park was full of school kids on a day out, the wildflowers were beautiful, the colours amazing, the birds, the ducks and ducklings, the soft green grass, ...all added up to 70 photos in a couple of hours!!
Western Australia is the state with the greatest percentage of wildflowers in Australia, with over 12,000 species, 60% of which are not found anywhere else in the world!

View from the Botanic Gardens to the city across the River Swan

 Grass tree
Can you spot the bee?

Boab Tree that was transported 3200km from the North of WA to Kings Park
As well as flowers, there was Aboriginal music and dance too...
A variety of wild flowers
The little duckling in the bottom picture had a hard time jumping from the water to join his Mom, but he made it!
Vast expansions of grass and lots of school kids on a day out.
A lot of tree have these plaques honouring soldiers who died in the various wars.
Synergy Park - a Kids paradise -- lake, barbecue facilities, climbing frames, gigantic pre-historic animals in wood

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Cookies Baking Flop

With all the rain we have had lately, it feels as if we are back in Winter and not Spring.
So feeling like some home baked goodies, I looked on the net for a Lemon Biscuit recipe using Gluten free flours. The ingredients included normal Gluten Free flour and Tapioca flour, but only after making little balls with them and putting them in a round baking tray, did I realize I had left out about half a cup of flour.
Anyway, I thought it wouldn´t make a difference as I had no trouble rolling the little balls, they weren´t too soft.

Well...half an hour later when I took them out the oven the batter had spread all over and some of it had fallen off the baking tray onto the oven, so instead of lots of cookies I now had a huge round cookie!!
This had never happened to me before, probably because I had never left out a major ingredient, but it still tastes  nice, although we will be probably be eating more than 1 cookie at a time.

I will leave you with a photo of my funny flop. I wonder if this has ever happened to any of you out there?
Next time I will certainly not forget to add all the flour and I will then post the recipe and some lovely photos of them.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Sustainability Fiesta 2011 - Hulbert St, Fremantle

Hulbert Street, just off Douro Road in Fremantle is the most environmental  sustainable street in Perth.
Now in it´s 4th year, the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta was held this weekend - 24th and 25th of September.

This event was started by the owners of The Painted Fish, (sustainable low-term accommodation) a couple with a passion for sustainability who managed to transmit that passion to the rest of the street.

The street residents are a very tight community -  lots of houses have solar power, water tanks, some grow their own vegetable gardens, own chickens...and even goats, make honey, preserve their fruit and vegetables.
So on this special weekend, this cul-de-sac is closed to traffic, and stalls are set up along the street selling plants, seeds, organic produce, second hand clothing and shoes, second hand books, food stalls, companies selling sustainable products like solar panels, water tanks and solar ovens. The owner of an electric car proudly talked about how it has saved him lots of money, buskers play their music, and experts talk about sustainability of course!

Start by cycling there...
With a view to encouraging people to live more sustainable lives, a few of the street residents even thrown open the door to their homes, and they have written information all over the house to enable visitors to wander and learn at their leisure. They share what has been done and what are their future plans to reduce their footprint.

This year´s poster (above) advertising the fiesta is based on a painting by local artist Tim Darby, with a pizza oven, which is a feature of Hulbert street, where the residents hold a weekly Wednesday pizza night.
They also hold Street movie nights!! Wow, that is a community worth living in.

I also noticed a lot of activities for the children - face painting, crafts, wood work - where I saw a lot of children banging some nails with small hammers into small pieces of wood.

Entry is by donation, and a lot of volunteers make this event successful.
If you live in Perth and  haven´t yet visited this fair, you will have to wait till next year, but you will certainly learn something and feel inspired to start your own sustainable journey. It certainly was a great day out.

Do you have this type of fair in your city? Or do you live in such a close knitted community like Hulbert Street?
Hulbert St, knitted street pole

A knitted wheel barrow
Old goffer (electric car for the elderly) to which an old armchair was adapted.

A sustainable kitchen with wood fired oven.
Plenty of preserves on the shelves

A vegetable garden on the street verge
Vegetable garden

School kids drove around this bathtub electric "car" selling raffle tickets
An old wicker couch gets used as a planting container

Chickens on side passage

Another street vegetable garden 
Pots made out of rubber tyres

Friday 23 September 2011


Rice Pudding -  Arroz Doce  (in Portuguese), is a typical Portuguese dessert. Traditionally it used to be served at wedding receptions or Christmas gatherings, but who needs to wait for a special occasion to have some creamy rice pudding?

There are a few variations to this recipe, some with eggs, some without, some made with condensed milk others with normal milk, more or less sugar... they are all delicious.
It has been a while since I made Rice Pudding, in fact I think it was for Christmas last year.
How time flies...we are almost there again.

I had a 1 litre bottle of milk in the fridge that was just past its use by date, so I thought it would be the ideal way to use up the milk.

125 gr short grain rice (I use Arborio rice)
250ml water
pinch of salt
1 stick cinnamon
lemon rind strips
500ml milk
150 gr sugar
25gr butter
3 egg yolks
grated lemon rind
ground cinnamon

Boil the rice in salted water for 10 minutes. Warm the milk with the cinnamon stick and a few strips of lemon rind. Strain the rice and add the warm milk and simmer until rice is cooked.
Add the sugar and butter and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
Beat the egg yolks in a cup and add a bit of the warm rice mixture, mix well and add to the pan.
Remove the lemon rind and cinnamon stick and add some grated lemon rind.
Simmer for a 2 or 3 minutes stirring continuously.
Pour into a shallow platter or into individual bowls. Decorate with ground cinnamon and enjoy!!

                                               * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Because I wanted to use the 1lt milk I doubled the recipe, but not the sugar or eggs - I just used 200gr sugar  and just the 3 egg yolks.
It´s great to be eaten the same day when it´s creamier, as it dries out a little bit the next day.
I´m very fond of puddings, more than cakes actually, so any excuse to make a pudding or sweet thing for dinner is a good excuse.
So give this recipe a try this weekend, I promise you will love it.

Rice has just been added to the warm milk with cinnamon and lemon rind
Anyone want to taste?

Wednesday 21 September 2011


I had a day off work today, and had the weather been nice and sunny the plan was to go to Kings Park (Botanic gardens) to see the wild spring flowers and then go to Ikea, a bit further north from where I live.
Unfortunately the past few days we´ve had rain and more rain, so when I woke up today and the skies were once again grey I had to change my plans and just went to Ikea.
I had to get a few things to finish off the laundry cupboards such as door handles, like the ones we used in the kitchen units and door hinges.
But of course I don´t need an excuse to go to Ikea, I love to just look around, to get ideas for decoration, to look at their cool storage ideas...
I took a few photos of bathroom stuff, as our next project will be our 
tiny en-suite renovation.

I had also been wanting to buy a kitchen stool - "Urban" - that I had previously seen on display but it was out of stock on my last visit, and today they had it. I think it goes very well with our kitchen island.

Isn´t this stool elegant?
After putting together the stool , I decided it was time to use up the lemons I had been collecting over the last few days, lemons that had fallen to the grass due to the rain and wind.
Some were badly bruised, so they went straight to the bin, but others were good enough for juicing.
Out came my food processor that has a citrus juicer attachment, I cut the lemons in half and juiced enough lemons to fill 3 glass bottles.

 I also zested 15 lemons to make Limoncello Liqueur as well, so another use for the lemons was found.
I´m not a drinker at all, but I´m quite partial to a sweet liqueur, so I can just imagine a nice shot of ice cold Limoncello in summer will go quite well after a nice meal.

Limoncello Liqueur

Zest of 15 lemons, 1, 700ml bottle of vodka, 2,5 cups water, 2 cups sugar
Pour the vodka in a jar with the lemon zest and keep in a cool dark place for about 10 days. 
Boil the water with sugar until it is thick and syrupy. 
When cool add to the jar and wait for another 10 days. Then pour through a sieve to discard the peel and pour into jars. Keep in the fridge, as it´s always best served cold.

I will let you know how it tastes when it´s ready!!

Plenty of lemons to be juiced

Lemon juice and at far end the jar with the Vodka and lemon zest for Limoncello

Sunday 18 September 2011

Follow up on RUOK day

Watching a re-run of Australian Story on Saturday (first aired on ABC TV on 12th September)
I was amazed to see Saturday´s episode was on Gavin Larkin, the founder of RUOK day, that Australia had just celebrated a few days ago.
In fact I hadn´t even know who had started RUOK Day until I watched this program.

Gavin Larkin and son Gus (photo from ABC tv)
Gavin used to be a highly successful advertising executive who three years ago used his high-profile contacts to create a national day of awareness for suicide, by encouraging people to check on the welfare of friends, colleagues and family. He had lost his father to depression and suicide when he was 26.
With a terrific advertising campaign he achieved in the first 9 months what would have take the public mental health sector nine years to achieve!!

In February 2010, at the age of 41 he was diagnosed with an aggressive lymphoma and given a 50% chance of survival.
But worst was to come, when a few weeks later his 11 year old son Gus was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
With the help of the another famous Australian, neurosurgeon Charlie Teo, Gus was operated and is in a stable condition after a few rounds of chemotherapy.
Through all of this Mr Larkin has continued to lead RUOK Day from his hospital bed, even checking himself out to attend the launch of the second year event.
Despite having a bone marrow transplant from his brother, his lymphoma has not been cured and he is now receiving palliative care at his Sydney home. He was given weeks to live in July, but was determined to be around for the third year of RUOK Day on September 15th.
He continues to be very positive and inspiring, although he has taken a step back from his role at the helm of the organization. His kids will certainly be proud of their amazing DAD.
And Australians should also be proud to have such an inspiring MAN who set up such an amazing and helpful organization.
Thanks to ABC and "Australian Story" for broadcasting such interesting and inspiring stories.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Four Birthdays for Three Cats

I´m not the type of person who celebrates the birthdays of my pets, I usually never knew when they were born anyway!
But I know exactly when our 3 younger cats were born - 4 years ago on 17th September 2007 (They were 8 of them then). Click on above link to read the post on how our family adopted these cats.
It was then a cold rainy day and they were born under some bushes by my son's bedroom window, and a few days later I brought them all in and housed them in a box with some blankets.
This is just a reason to post a few pictures of my cats, and show you how cute they were.
Well, all baby animals are cute, not just my kittens.
They will just be getting their normal cat biscuits, and some lactose free milk that they love, no special treats for them, they won't know the difference...

In the box inside the house where I put them at 2 days old

Mommy feeding some of the kittens (the dark on in front is our Twiggy)

Venturing out into the world outside the box!

The whole bunch sleeping on our (former) horrible lounge carpet

Aren´t we a cute trio?  These 3 were adopted

Thursday 15 September 2011


       ARE YOU OK?    

Today, 15th September 2011 is RUOK day. 

This initiative was started in 2009 and aims to prevent depression and suicide, by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and to help stop little problems turning into big ones.

The aim is to get everyone across the country to ask family, friends and colleagues: "Are you ok?"
A couple of weeks ago at the clinic we received RUOK cards with the above logo and a message prompting people to ask questions and help people open up and unburden themselves. 
Feeling isolated or hopeless is a contributor to depression and mental illnesses which can result in suicide, so having regular conversations with the people we care about can protect them.

Although I´m not a very talkative person, I do try to communicate with the patients and when I see someone coming out of the doctor´s rooms with tears in their eyes, with whom they have obviously been unburdening their problems, I give them a smile or touch their hand. Probably not enough, but I don´t really know these people personally, and a roomful of people is not the right place for them to open up.
I have been lucky enough not have personally known anyone who has committed suicide, but know it can be a devastating event for the family left behind.
Most people when asked if they are ok, respond "Yes" even though they might be suffering, sometimes it takes more than that simple question for them to open up. All they need is someone to listen to them, you don´t need to offer solutions, just a friendly ear and a hug.
A conversation could change a life!  (go to link to see how to start a RUOK conversation)

When someone asks you “RUOK?” … 

what’s your answer going to be?

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Lemon and Almond Friands

Always on the lookout for a recipe with lemons to use up my constant supply from my generous lemon tree, I came across this recipe for Lemon Friands.

I didn´t know but Friand is the name given to a bite sized sponge cake traditionally made with a nut flour, usually almond flour. They were quite easy to bake, are moist and very tasty.
So next time you have a friend for tea, try these, they were gone in a flash!!


140 g  butter320 g icing sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
3 tablespoons rice flour
150 g ground almonds or almond meal
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
5 egg whites, lightly whisked

2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180ºC and grease a 12 muffin tin tray.
Melt the butter over low heat and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
Sift the flours and Icing sugar into a bowl and stir in ground almonds or almond meal, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Add the lightly whisked egg whites and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into the tins and bake for 15 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
Remove from oven and let cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out.

You can sprinkle Icing sugar over them and serve, or otherwise you can make a lemon glaze to drizzle over the friands.

Lemon Glaze: 

75gr Caster sugar
40gr butter
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
juice of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 lemon