A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunset Spectacular

I just wanted to share with you the most spectacular night sky I think I've ever seen.
Right here, in our back yard.

Skies such as these have been spotted all along the south east coast of Australia tonight.
I hope you enjoy the photographs.

Everywhere A Sign #2

On our road trip, in 2010, we came across a number of novelty road signs relating to our unusual wildlife here in Australia.

But until this year, I didn't know we had elephants at Scotts Head!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Everywhere A Sign #1

On our recent road trip Mr HP and I came across a few engaging signs which I enjoyed photographing.  
I'm going to share a few of them on my blog. Most of the signs have their own unique story behind them while I found others self explanatory but a little bizarre (in my humble opinion).

There's a place in Australia (well, one could hardly call it a town, or even a village... perhaps a settlement) called Innamincka. It's up the Strzelecki Track (yes, here in the desert the roads are called tracks)from Lyndhurst.  Mr HP and I visited Lyndhurst in 2010. That was an experience in itself. In the outback, communities are ruled by the elements and 2010 had experienced a late wet season. In the northern part of Australia it said that there are only two seasons in a year: the wet season, and the dry season.
The wet season occurs in the spring/summer months, and the dry season in autumn/winter.

 Because of the late wet, many of the roads were closed in the winter of 2010 and this  limited the places we could visit.  For us, in 2010, Lyndhurst was the end of the road (although I walked along it for about a hundred metres...I wasn't coming all that way to say I hadn't been along the Strzelecki Track!)

So four years later, we arrive in Innamincka along with what must be scores, if not hundreds of other tourists.  Here we find a Trading Post, and a hotel. There are coin operated showers and a toilet block in the car park.
 On the outskirts of the 'town' there is an 'airport' as well as a town common which is a free camper's haven alongside the Cooper's Creek.  It's a fisherman's dream to fish along the river's bank and entire families make this a destination.

At Innamincka, the hotel, not surprisingly, is called Innamincka Hotel.
The Innamincka Hotel has a beer garden which is called....outamincka bar & beer garden.

At Innamincka, there's a bar called Outamincka...

The play on words took a while to click but when it did, well, I thought it was cute!

Unfortunately, being not yet lunch time, the bar was closed so we partook of morning tea in the hotel, where everything comes with a sprinkling of dust...and an enormous amount of generosity as you can see from the size of the serve of ice-cream I received with my affogato...

I asked for an affogato....

...but then, the size of my serve of ice-cream may have something to do with the temperatures out here...in the desert...

You can see the shower block, on the right behind the screen.  A number of concrete water tanks have been transformed into 'buildings' to house the toilets and showers.

because it looks like the roads aren't only closed because of the wet,
 but also during the summer because of temperature extremes(40-50'C)!

And oh!...we have a saying here in Australia...avagoodweekend and don't forget the Aerogard.. the flies are so bad out here they would carry you away if you let them!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Winter In The Desert

We're back from our road trip and I've been neglecting my blog along with everything else.
Monday 14th July saw us back in Sydney.  
It was a great trip, but what can I say but it gets cold out there in that darn desert in the middle of winter!
Then we spent Friday night in the city...Sydney University to be exact, to attend our darling future DIL's graduation. If we thought it had been cold before...we were now experiencing an Arctic Blast!
So guess what...I came down with a flu so bad I've been in bed ever since.
I'm blogging this from my bed.
Mr HP has brought me breakfast-in-bed; porridge (screwed up face...I eat it because it's GOOD for me), and an affogato.  Thanks Honey!
Blogging while we were away was almost impossible...well impossible for about seventy five percent of our trip.  I know readers from other countries might find it incredulous that here in Australia there are places that are so remote that there is no mobile telephone coverage unless you use satellite telephone. Also our major telco appears to have a monopoly on certain regions of our vast country so that unless you have an account with them, well, you don't get coverage.  We had planned to buy a pre-paid  SIMcard from them before our trip but, well, we just didn't get around to it.  Even so, I'm not quite sure how much blogging I would have achieved via a pre-paid but in the end, well, we just made do.

So, I'll bring you little snippets of our amazing trip over the next few days, weeks, and maybe even months.

 The day before we started our trip, Tuesday 24th June, it snowed in the mountains.
Our first stop on Wednesday was in Lithgow.
Even the poor sparrows were feeling the cold...here they are, missing out on their usual tidbits because diners were all keeping warm indoors. 
The poor little things, all fluffed up, looked like pom poms.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Call Of The Desert

Going where to find yourself?

There is nothing like a trip to the desert.

Mr HP is busy with maps, itineraries, equipment, and making lists.

Much to my chagrin I've been laid low with the 'flu for the past two weeks.

But the truth is, I can't wait to be in the desert...

But before that...we have to tackle a windy and cold spell predicted over the next twenty four hours.  (A good reason to delay our trip by a day).

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Then I Ran Out of Icing Sugar

...so I Googled: "how to make frosting without icing sugar"  and I took a risk and made a most yummy butter frosting that used caster sugar, milk, flour, butter, and vanilla and here is the result...

As you can see...the cake was a great success...

The cake had to serve sixteen people so I used a double batch of the Foundation Cake recipe and used a 27cm round springform cake tin to bake it in.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nobody Told Me There'd Be Days Like This.

I've over-committed.
I'm exhausted.
I've so much to do, like bake a cake I promised for our family's monthly birthday get together tomorrow.
All week I've fantasied the cake I would bake and decorate for the occasion.
Perhaps a flourless Chocolate Torte...gluten free, layered, then topped with chocolate ganache.
Or maybe a Citrus Hazelnut Cake drenched with a fruit-of-the-forest syrup.
At the very least, I expected  I'd bake my becoming-a- trade-mark Black Forest Brownie cake.
Regrettably, I don't have the stamina for any of the above mentioned cakes.
Sometimes it just has to be a plain, no fuss, cake with predictable butter frosting.
In my early days of wife-dom and motherhood, time-poor  and pre-gluten-free days, my favourite cake to bake was the One Stage Foundation Cake. This cake recipe was easily adapted to make at least six other versions of easily sliced, (when baked in a loaf tin), freezable cakes or deserts.
The beauty of this recipe is that it's as simple as dumping all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beating until a thick, smooth, creamy batter is achieved (two or three minutes) and then baking for around thirty minutes. And voila, a cake.

So that's what's in my oven at the moment.

Here is The Recipe.

One Stage Foundation Cake.

125g margarine or butter (I only ever use butter)
2 x 60g eggs
75ml milk (substitute with soy, lactose free, nut or any other milk you wish)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g (1/2cup) caster sugar
185g (1 1/2 cups) self raising flour, sieved (I never bother)  ( I have successfully used Orgran brand of self-raising gluten free flour for gluten free cake).


Place all ingredients in given order in a mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth (2-3 minutes) or with an electric mixer until evenly combined (2 minutes).  Use cake mixture as desired.

Bake in a preheated oven (190oC) for30 minutes.

Here are some variations:

Chocolate Cake

Replace two tablespoons of flour with two tablespoons of cocoa (powdered).

Sultana Cake

Add two tablespoons of sultanas and some mixed spice to the ingredients before mixing.

Tea Cake

Add a teaspoon of mixed spice to the ingredients before mixing.  While the cake is still hot out of the oven spread some butter over the top of the cake and sprinkle with a mixture of caster sugar and mixed spice (or cinnamon sugar).

Cherry and Walnut Cake

Add 1/4 of a cup each glace cherries and walnuts to the ingredients before mixing.

Apple Cake

Add a can of pie apples (425g) and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the ingredients before mixing.  This cake may take a little longer to bake.  Finish off the top as for the tea cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Grease a ring tin well and place well drained pineapple rings (from a can) around the bottom of the tin.  Place a red glace cherry in the centre of each pineapple ring.  Sprinkle with brown sugar if you wish (this gives you a nice caramelised top).  Pour cake batter over and bake as a above.  Serve cake upside down as a desert.  Hot and with cream.

Hopefully I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Remember it's okay to give yourself permission to scale back on expectations of yourself every now and then!

Comments Welcome

I welcome your comments; they are little personal notes to me. I enjoy reading what each of you have to say. Thanks for dropping by.