Sunday, 25 August 2013

Cheap Tricks to Make your Life Easier

Sue over at Our New Life in the Country posted the following link today and some of them are just so simple yet so effective.  Take a look.

50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World

Once you have read through some of these amazingly simple ideas keep going down and click on

The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photo's 


Top 100 Pictures of the Year - 2012

Good find Sue.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land Of Oz

Red Cross Cake Bake

What to do when someone sends you and invitation to Sunday afternoon tea drinking cappuccinos and eating homemade cake, biscuit and slices to raise money for Red Cross?.  Arrhhh, let me think for a nanosecond, that would be "Yes Please".  "Would you like to order some cakes to go home as well?" Oh, I don't know.....Too Right I would.  These were not hard decisions to make.  Especially when the people sending the invitation were a mother (Karen) and daughter (Marlena) team renowned for some pretty spectacular cooking.

Carrot Cake

Who is a lucky duck having this in their home.  Oooo  Arrrhhhhh  
I had three large mugs of cappuccino in three hours (i had to wash to cake down with something) and made the mistake of going straight to a supermarket with no toilet facilities.  Those of you at a certain age will understand that this was a BIG mistake.  I was literally hopping up and down at the deli, hanging on, causing much laughter.  I shop at the local IGA which is 500m from my house so to disgrace myself there would have found me looking for another supermarket.  How inconvenient.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lovely Sigrid donated the lemons for all the Lemon Syrup cakes.  Lemon season is in full swing here in Oz at the moment and i feel a curd coming on.  

Lemon Syrup Cake - my favourite with a big blob of thick cream.  

Flourless Chocolate Cake - it must have been good as there wasn't much left at the end.  

Some of the eggs for these cakes came from our girls at the Shoestring Garden coop.  They have been producing some mega eggs lately.  The largest was 92gms!!!!  Ouch.

I think I'm going to be drowning in cake this week as i threatened my staff at the factory that anyone not placing and order wouldn't get paid this week.  So Karen and Marlena are making a special delivery to the factory tomorrow to bring all the orders for the men to take home to their families.  Browny points for all and the Red Cross get a good donation,  Win Win.

Stayed tuned, next weekend I'm going to Karen's house for a demo party for Thermomix, sold by Marlena.
I'm torturing myself because i cant afford one but I'm being very supportive and taste testing all the food they produce so efficiently.  Gosh, i sound like a pig.  Very smart animal pigs!

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land Of Oz

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Pet Cremation - Q and A

This seems like the most extraordinary choice of topic considering that we lost our beloved friend but its also a way of letting those who supported me know that Hey! I'm OK.  

Peppy died just over a week ago and this week we were given his ashes in a lovely wooden box that Tom picked out. It is plain and simple with a small plaque with his name engraved on it.

We placed Peppy's box on the piano with his photo and there his ashes rest.  It actually gives me comfort.  I didn't think it would as i still find myself looking for him underfoot.  Though we miss him, it seems to have settled us having him home.

I hoping that if i share my experience i might help someone else through a difficult time.  I'm questioning my reason for doing so but perhaps this presentation of facts is part of my healing process.


When you are faced with making a decision about how to treat your deceased pet's body there are several choices that you can make.  At the time we were at the veterinary hospital and Tom literally made the decisions on our behalf as we were not capable.

Home Burial

This is chosen by many people who wish to bury their beloved pet at home in their garden.  Many choose to plant a bush or to mark the grave with a plaque or stone.   My friend Noelle sent me a photo of one in her garden

and a plaque which she offered to me when she first heard the news.

If you choose this option then over time the body follows the natural process of decomposition as with humans.  I knew this was not what i wanted to do as i am currently digging up the backyard for garden beds, fruit trees and putting in a chicken coop later this year.  Had everything been established and i knew where things were going to be then i might have made this choice.

It is also the cheapest option and for many after exhaustive veterinary bills following their pets illness or accident this is their only choice.


There are two ways that this can be done.  You can call a pet cremation service directly or it can be arranged by your Vet.  You have the choice of having the ashes returned to you or not.  If you do not wish to receive ashes then your vet will arrange disposal by cremation.  Note that it maybe with others animals and it may not be immediate.

When we received the above box, it came with some literature that explained the process of cremating animals.  You would think that it would have upset me but it didn't.  It answered some nagging questions.

The Facts About Cremation of Pets

If you have chosen to receive your pets ashes then each pet is cremated individually. The literature states that you always get the remains of YOUR pet.

The cremation can be viewed and their is usually a place where family can gather for a ceremony if desired though actual burial would take place elsewhere.

It takes approximately one hour for small dogs and two hours for a large dog.   They have different cremators for different animals and can do from the smallest to a horse.

Cremation is simply a hastening of natural processes by a clean, sanitary and entirely modern method which is quickly effected by a clean, intense heat that returns the body to its original elements.

After cremation the calcified bone fragments and body ash that remains are carefully gathered and sealed in a container. We were told ours was in a small metal box.  If you have not chosen a special receptacle then this is what you would receive.  If you have then it is enclosed in your choice, carefully packaged and presented to you.

Ashes are available in around 7 days unless other arrangements have been made.

There is no law preventing the burial or scattering of cremated pet remains.

Cost - The vet charged us $444.30 for Euthanasia and After Care.  This included the injection, cremation and receptacle.  Our vet is Wendy from Greencross Vets - Werribee.  She was kind, patient and despite the late hour, in no rush for what was actually a lengthy period.  She was thoughtful enough to give us a small pouch with his hair.  We could have chosen to simply walk away once the decision was made but Tom stayed with Peppy till the very end.

The cremation was provided by Pet Cremation Service - Lethbridge.  You can visit this site and see the different receptacles, prices and perhaps glean more detailed information.

A Poem  - To those whom I loved and Those who Loved Me

When i am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You must not tie yourself to me with tears
Be happy that we had so many years. 

Roses given to me by my sister, Glenda, to cheer me up.  

I know that there would be many people saying "Oh for God sake, its a dog" and if that's how you feel about your pet then i respect that.  I'm only asking that you allow me the same courtesy and respect my/our choices. Thank you so much to the many people who left comments, who visited, who sent flowers and even chocolates.  I think perhaps the best gift was from one of the engineers at work who arranged for his wife to come in on Friday afternoon with his 1 year old and 4 year old and spend time with me.  So much joy in little packages.  How could anyone not smile or be happy in their presence.  He knows me well.

Some of you would have noticed that I'm back commenting on your blogs or Facebook and being my cheeky self again.  I'm thinking about this blog and which direction its taking. It seems to be jumping all over the place now that I'm not doing regular workshops, which i miss. This, i am told, is blog suicide.   I may have to spread my wings and sign on for a few more courses relevant to the garden just so i have something interesting to write about.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land of Oz   

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Goodbye my Angel - Rest In Peace

This is a sad post.  I can barely write it through my tears but there are people who should know and i cant keep speaking about it.  I've cried so much my eyes are almost swollen shut and i need to recover and move on not just for myself but for Tom and Hubby.  Our hearts are broken in our little family.  Last night we had to make the decision to euthanize our darling Peppy.   I wrote There is an Angel in my Home way back in February.  I guess to understand our grief you would need to read how much this little dog meant to us.  He was so much more than just a pet. He was our child and gave us so much love and comfort through many difficult times for 11 years.

He was taken to the vet for tests because it was mentioned a few months ago after he had his teeth cleaned that he displayed symptoms of Cushings Disease and that we should have him tested within 6 months.  While we were away he was drinking large volumes of water and uncharacteristically urinating in the house. I wasn't sure if it was just the stress of our absence.  So just to be safe i took him to the vet.  The result was positive but also showed that he had critical diabetes brought on by the Cushings and would require twice daily injections and extreme monitoring everyday for the rest of his life, starting today.  Treating both at the same time was going to require almost full time care and once the inflated cortisone caused by the disease abated he would then require treatment for arthritis as well.  

So what do you do.  Do you think about yourself and your need for him or do you think about his quality of life and a future of vet visits, probably blindness, twice daily injections that would require two people so someone could hold him down, daily pills which he usually spits out or vomits.  All so that we could hang onto him for a few more years.  

In the end it was Tom who made the decision.  It was his dog after all.  He comforted us, talked us through the decision that we all knew must be made, asked us to leave, stayed with Peppy till the very end, arranged the cremation, chose a box and then using my card, paid the bill.   I know he is as heart broken as us and I've seen the pain in his eyes but he had this ability to compartmentalise his emotions when needed and put them aside whereas I'm so fully immersed in them that i cant find my way.   So thank you my wonderful son.  Mum and Dad really needed you this time.  

So here i am today, off work, trying to pull myself together.  Hubby had to work but i know he is hurting just as much.  Peppy wasn't there beside my bed last night. I couldn't hear is gentle snore.  He wasn't there at 5.30 at my feet in the kitchen hoping for a piece of cold meat.  He isn't under the desk right now sleeping on my feet while i try to type this post.   He's just gone.  Just like that.  One day here and the next day not.

So farewell my darling boy.  We will all miss you very very much.

  Thank you to my friends and family for your blessings.  

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Organic Licorice and Chocolate - For Medicinal Purposes, of Course!

On our Road Trip, Tom and I did a day trip to the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory.   It has been a favorite tourist destination for many years and featured on an old video of Australian train journeys that Tom played repeatedly when he was pre-school age.  It was a must see destination and also an easy couple of hours drive for Tom along some pretty rural (read bumpy, pot holes, lose gravel) roads from where we were staying for the week.

The factory is located in an old flour mill in Junee, NSW and is operated by Green Grove Organics.  Owned by the Druce family since 1918.  In 1962 Green Grove Organics became one of Australia's first organic farms and holds a Level A Certification.  They are world renowned.

All the ingredients used in the making of the licorice, chocolate and confectionery at the factory are certified organic products.  Even the wheat grown by Green Grove Organics is ground by a modern day stone mill for use in the making of the licorice, flour and bread mixes.

I did do a recording of the tour but being my non techy self, somehow i lost it so i will have to give you what i remember and even then, i am disadvantaged by the middle aged muddle that is going on up stairs.

I believe, that there are four main ingredients in licorice:

Root Powder from the licorice plant root - this comes from California as there are no certified organic licorice plant growers in Australia.  I tasted a sprinkle of the powder and it starts out slightly salty and then the aniseed flavor really hits you on the tongue.   I was smiling away politely through the presentation while my tongue was doing a slow burn.

Organic Wheat or Spelt - grown on the farm. .


Molasses - this is what makes it black.

All the ingredients are mixed in big vats.  These could  be seen through glass windows.   The workers were simply going about their business as we gawked on.  It is then cooked and sent to the extruder which kneads it and makes it into long tubes about as thick as a 20 cent piece.  It shrinks as it cools and by the time it reaches the "Chopper" is the thickness of a 5 cent piece.

They were not running the machines when i did the tour but they were in operation when i first arrived. There was this massive stomp stomp stomping going on and as shown below long tubes of licorice where chopped into smaller pieces by a large guillotine, manually separated and dusted with flour to keep them that way.

Who need medicine?   There was previously thought to be a link between men with low libido who ate licorice but you can put that one to bed, so to speak, as there is now research to show that there is no connection.  Just don't show her your black tongue before going in for a smooch.

The chocolate is produced in Germany and they use all of the cocoa bean rather than adding other ingredients.  It is smooth and dark and maintain all its nutrients and is therefore good for your health, especially when it is organically produced.  

Now doesn't every woman know the health benefits of a piece of chocolate.  It reduces stress and invokes calmness.  At least until the kids start begging for their share.  It has been used for thousands of years as both a sexual stimulant and a soothing balm.  The existence of theobromine in organic chocolate stimulates the kidneys and the central nervous system and boosts the immune system.  The seratonin lifts the mood and gives you a sense of euphoria and the presence of magnesium, iron and niacin release energy to the body. All sounds good good good to me.   They should prescribe this stuff as medicine rather than anti-depressants.

The chocolate is first melted into a thin syrup in a big vat above and it then trickles down into the following mixer that contains the licorice.  As it turns the licorice is coated many times.  Before they purchased this beast it was done by hand and they had to run a night shift to meet demand.

Just above the white barrier you can see the coated licorice - thousand upon thousands of chocolate bullets.  Do not even imagine that these resemble anything like the generic bullets you buy at the supermarket.  I gave one to my Bestie tonight and she literally swooned.  First they are massive, you would only eat two or three at a time, and then they are so so fresh and soft.
They still do hand mixing and so beside this one are three copper mixers.  One for white, milk and dark chocolate.   We watched a worker pour a jug of dark chocolate over the turning licorice and were surprised to learn that he would do this 33 times, waiting 2 minutes between coat, before they were finished.

Even after the final coating they are given another coat of organic polish (i cant remember from which tree it came from) to keep the product shiny and also to adhere the chocolate to the licorice so it didn't flake off.

The next room along was the bar and confectionery room where all those wonderful blocks of chocolates with nuts, muscat raisins etc were added were made.
Giant Freckle anyone???

Chocolate Bars
Rocky Road with so many different extra's i just couldn't decide on one, so i didn't.

Smash Cakes  - these are like pinatas - you smash them and they are full of licorice and chocolates.

We did quite a bit of shopping at the store.  We got a few items as presents for Dad/Hubby's birthday, another bag as a thank you gift for our hosts for the week and another for my work crew.  I was almost embarrassed walking out with so much.  I bought myself a small box of chocolate coated coffee beans.

Graze Restaurant

Now, not finished yet, so don't turn off.   This place has the most wonderful restaurant and Tom and I had lunch.  Wait for it, because you are going to like it.    I ordered the following and loved it so much i just had to speak to the Chef and get the recipe.

Roast Sweet Potato, Ricotta & Macadamia tart

Now this was truly a crime - Tom took a Lamb Burger, with Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar, Aoli and Chorizo jam and turned it into a Cheeseburger - i still had to pay the $17.50 for it but those beer battered chips were really really crunchy.  

Chef Phillip

500gm of Sweet Potato cooked until soft (can be broken apart) but not mushy.

500gm of Ricotta

3 Eggs

1 Teaspoon of Nutmeg - Phillip said that this could be changed to whatever spice you liked but it must be aromatic.  I could definitely smell the nutmeg.

Salt & Pepper.

Top with crushed Macadamia nuts mixed with unsalted butter and salt to taste.

Bake like a quiche.  Skewer must come out clean when ready.  I would have like a little more detail but i think i could muddle my way through.

We found ourselves a seat next to a fire, it was freezing .

While we were waiting we noticed a photographer and a few hangers on that were walking around with plates of food.  I spoke to them later and found that they were from the NSW Tourism Board and were doing a profile on the factory and restaurant.   I took some photo's of my own and you can see it is a place of character.

All the train memorabilia come from the old mill being next to the railway line.  Junee is a historic rail town with a junction and roundhouse still used to recondition locomotives today.  There is a rail museum in town with carriages and engines you can climb into.  

NSW Tourism Board photographer doing food porn.  

Do you think they were handing out licorice and chocolate - seems to cure everything.  

Very Comfortable  - NOT

OK, this is my photographic moment, i love this picture.  Shot with my iphone through an old window frame.  Looks very Tuscan and I'm pretty chuffed with it.  
You can go now and thanks for sticking with me.  If you ever find yourself wandering around the NSW countryside then pop into Junee and have a lovely lunch, tour and then shop till you drop.  Oh,  on the web link above (Green Grove Organics) you can buy online.   It really is worth it and i will never buy a packet of "dead" licorice again.

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz