JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

I am fifty something and I love my family and the life I live. I'm an optimistic person by nature and I try to find a positive for every negative. I'm not a vegetarian, but the animal I eat is. I enjoy cooking, photography and scrapbooking. Since living here I have become a gardener and take immense joy in the beauty of my garden. My husband and I feel that we are the caretakers of the land rather than land owners. We run a grass fed Droughtmaster Stud on our little piece of Paradise and the cattle are a never ending supply of photo opportunities.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Cooking under Pressure

I was given a pressure cooker by my husbands father when his second wife died.  His wife cooked with it all the time and the meals that came out of it where fabulous. However,  I remember all too well the explosion in my family home when mum used one, and one of my friends has a hole in the ceiling of her kitchen when the lid flew off the cooker.
I was very nervous about using the cooker and it sat in my kitchen drawer for a long time before I built up the courage.  The first thing that I cooked in it was a piece of corned meat and I was pleasantly surprised at the tenderness of the beef and the small amount of time that it took to cook it so I started cooking all my corned meat in it.  And that's all really.  It wasn't until I picked up a little cookbook in Coles called "Pressure Cooking" - the new way to cook fast - that I decided to  experiment a little bit more with the cooker.  So I cooked up Osso Bucco that I would normally do in the slow cooker.  And it was at this time that my pressure cooker decided to die.  The seal was just too old (who would know that you are supposed to replace them every year!) and the cooker would not build up pressure.  As I had only allowed an hour to cook the meal, it was not great.  So I decided to buy a new one.  That's when the dilemma  started, do I go electric or cooktop.  There is a huge difference in price, the electric being the cheaper. I decided on the cooktop one because the electric defeats the purpose of being energy and time efficient.
The meal I cooked tonight was Green Chicken Curry.  It took 20 minutes with about 5 minutes of prep time and the chicken was extremely succulent.  The pressure cookers of today are much more user friendly and very safe to use.  Mine has a timer that tells me when to reduce the heat under the cooker and when the meal is cooked.  No more guessing any more.  It came with a beautiful cookbook by Suzanne Gibbs and I have promised myself that I am going to use it regularly.  I will keep you posted.

All shiny and new!

Ingredients for Green Chicken Curry

And 20 minutes later, the end result!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Blue Worms and Blue Snakes

You might remember my last post about the elusive blue worm.  Here are some photos courtesy of our tour guide - Paul Curtis.





I showed DH the photos of this worm and it has also fascinated him.

We have a garden waste pile in a corner of one of our paddocks, a place where all our garden trimmings are stacked.  DH turns it over every couple of months and the mulch is very beneficial to my garden.  Today DH was turning it over with the tractor when he came across what he thought was the blue worm.  He called me and I quickly collected my camera for some photos.  It was a sort of blue colour but it soon became apparent that it had scales, and eyes, and a forked tongue!  Yes....it was a snake.  We realised this after we had picked it up and put it in a container for photographing!  A quick google search revealed that it was a Slaty Snake.  They are non-venomous but are very aggressive.  This little chap was only just out of the egg as he still had part of it attached to the end of his body.  Here are some photos:










Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Is there a pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow?

I don't know about a pot of gold but to photograph a rainbow is a golden opportunity!
We were just outside Cooktown when this rainbow appeared.  DH quickly pulled off the highway so that I could get these photos.  This is by now means a perfect rainbow as it didn't stretch right across the sky but it was certainly beautiful and vivid.



Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Fungi fascinates me

Whenever I go into a rainforest I am always on the lookout for fungi.  It intrigues me with its beautiful shapes and colours.  I don't know anything about them but I have a book coming from Amazon.com (thanks to my son and DIL!) that should explain them to me.  The book has six hundred species explained but I wonder just how many species there actually are.
I went to Mt. Lewis on Saturday as a participant in a photography guided tour.  Our guide, Paul, was very knowledgeable and was able to point out many interesting things for us.  We were in search of the blue worm that Paul had spotted at Mt. Lewis a few days prior, but alas, none on our visit.  Paul did email us all a photo of the half metre long worm.  I think I would die of fright if I actually came across one but I will keep my eyes open.  They grow up to two metres in length and have about the same circumference as a snake.  They are also fluorescent blue!

A lovely little rainforest stream that we came across.  

However, back to the fungi. On this trip I saw varieties that I had never seem on previous trips.  They are so beautiful and in a myriad of colours. I took dozens of photos and these are my favourites.





It was hard to capture the size of this one.  It was about 20cm wide.  A giant!

After Mt. Lewis we went to Rifle Creek near Mt. Molloy where we came across these native grevilleas.  The colours in them are simply beautiful.


Our last port of call before the tour ended was to Abattoir Swamp.....I know.....terrible name!  It is a bird lovers area with a lovely swampy lake that is normally home to hundreds of variety of birds.  Sadly we didn't get to see any.  I think early in the morning or late in the evening might have been the best time.

We ignored the warning and walked the boardwalk at Abattoir Swamp.  It was however, very treacherous !

A the end of our tour we enjoyed mandarins, picked in the morning, from our tree.


Monday, 13 May 2013

Dinner at Cooktown

We stayed at the Seaview Motel in Cooktown and the manager of the motel recommended that we dine at 1770 restaurant, just a five minute walk away.  We weren't disappointed.  It was one of the freshest seafood meals we had eaten in a long while.  The restaurant has its own boat, anchored right at its doorstep,  that supplies all the seafood.

DH ordered the Salt and Pepper squid for entree and the beer battered barramundi for main.  I ordered Scallops with chorizo and red pepper for entree and grilled Coral Trout with potato and baby spinach salad for my main.  It was a truly memorable meal and I would recommend the restaurant to anyone making the journey to Cooktown.

I gobbled these mouthfuls of deliciousness so fast that I forget to get a photo!  You just have to imagine how they looked.  The scallops were still attached to the shell so I asked how the chef cooked them.  Apparently they are cooked  by passing them through a very hot oven.

Loved the presentation of DH's main meal.  The plate was covered in newspaper and greaseproof!

This coral trout was incredibly fresh and tasty. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mothers Day at QT Resort Port Douglas

QT Port Douglas  had their first birthday on Saturday so they celebrated with a birthday party - of course! The party started at lunch with a BBQ and lots of kids entertainment followed by the "young at heart" celebrations from 6pm.  QT have a great locals deal in the off-season.  $159 gives you a deluxe suite, welcome drinks and breakfast for two.  We decided to take advantage of the deal and help them celebrate their birthday and to help us celebrate Mothers Day.
We first stayed at QT resort in 1990 when it was a brand new Raddison Resort.  It was lovely back then and if it is at all possible, even better in 2013.  The place has had a complete makeover and it is remarkable.  It has a latin feel but in a retro style.  The rooms are beautiful and large with a separate bedroom and a very spacious ensuite. 
 
Loved this desk chair!
The "mini bar".  Have you ever seen such a variety! I could not resist buying the "Pick-up-Sticks"



It's the little things that make the difference like these wooden bananas on a wooden tray

The retro continued in the ensuite

I loved these little bottles and footstool
We had breakfast in Bazaar restaurant.  The restaurant is surrounded by a water-lily filled "moat" and it is a tranquil setting.  What a wonderful way to start the day!
Our stay was all too short but QT resort is a place that we will most definitely return to.

The lounge bar

Lounge by the pool?

Looking towards Bazaar restaurant from the entrance to the resort


Setting up for the entertainment (pole dancer) on the outside deck. 

Breakfast buffet in Bazaar Restaurant

Bazaar Restaurant Buffet

Even the tea and coffee area in Bazaar had a retro feel!






Friday, 10 May 2013

Cooktown and the annual Solar Eclipse

We decided last month that I would book accommodation in Cooktown to get a little closer to the annual solar eclipse that traversed the top of Australia.  Last year we were right in the path of the solar eclipse here at Julatten but unfortunately for us it was cloudy and we missed the total eclipse.  As it is now May I thought that the chance of having cloud cover at Cooktown would be minimal.  Alas, I was wrong.  Once again it was cloudy.  At Cooktown we were never going to see the  "ring of fire" as we were too far south of the path. The best we would get was a 92% sun coverage.
We positioned ourselves on Grassy Hill lookout right beside the lighthouse and along with a handful of other camera enthusiasts we waited for the moment.  We couldn't find any solar glasses for sale before the eclipse but fortunately for us one of the Canon professional photographers very kindly handed out glasses for everybody at the lookout.  He had travelled from Italy and was an eclipse chaser.

This was the weather that greeted us in Cooktown on Thursday evening.  Wet and windy!




The morning started out well with sunshine

But the clouds started to rolling in.....


and this is the best photo I could get.

This is just interesting.  Nothing done to this photo except cropping.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

A day in the Daintree Rainforest

Yesterday we were lucky enough to have our monthly photography club meeting at one of our members property in the Daintree.  It is a passionfruit farm but they also have many acres of natural rainforest.
One of our club members is an avid bush walker.  She is quite elderly but where she goes on her bush walks, angels fear to tread!  We all went our separate ways to take some photographs.  I tended to stick to the passionfruit vines where I wouldn't run into any taipans but once I saw the photographs that our elderly member, Joan,  came back with I just had to go where she had been.  She warned that the track was slippery and steep but I was determined.  I was not disappointed when she showed me the fungi that she had found.  They are quite beautiful.
I've really got to try and walk without the fear of stumbling.  You miss so much around you if your eyes are glued to the ground in front of you.  Joan tells me that she just stops and looks around - a lot!  I am the sort of walker that thinks the photograph will jump out at you if you just keep on walking.  I must change that attitude.  Here are the photos from the day.

Anyone for passionfruit?

I am fascinated by fungi and these were beautiful.

Fungi that looked almost lacy

All the little spores are quite visible

Simply amazing

These looked like miniature "Venus Fly Traps"



Friday, 3 May 2013

Butterflies

I love butterflies.  I chase them with my camera in hand from one end of the garden to the other, tripping over plants, stumbling over rocks and even running into trees.  Anyone watching me would think that I am clean mad, but I am forever in the pursuit of the perfect photograph.  Alas, it elludes me but today's photo wasn't too bad.  I would love to photograph the magnificent Ulysses butterfly but they are speedy, and I mean really speedy.  I think I will have to invest in a super zoom to get the photograph of them that would grace my living room wall.

When our eldest son died suddenly and tragically, we had a small monument made with the inscription:

"Butterflies live moments not months, and have time enough"

and that is another reason I love butterflies.  They remind me of Kurt.