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

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas 2015

So Christmas has now come and gone and as somebody posted on Facebook today....

We had a wonderful christmas at Toowoomba this year with Mum and John.  Even though Mum has not been well these past few months she managed to put together a fantastic christmas for all the family.  We loved her Apricot Balls, Chocolate/Macadamia Balls and best of all the PLUM PUDDING!  John always does christmas breakfast and this year we had poached eggs, ham and then to finish we have Johns Special Fruit Salad!  John cuts all the fruit the old-fashioned way into small pieces....the way I love but never have the patience to do!
My two sisters and their families managed to travel to Toowoomba at various times over the Christmas break.  On Christmas Day the Albert family joined us for lunch at the Federal.  It certainly is a mighty feast and I defy anyone to say that they did not enjoy it.  We had seafood (Oysters, Prawns, Calamari and LOBSTER) and then all the hot dishes including Turkey, Ham and Pork and a variety of vegetables.  I must admit that I filled up on the seafood and main and did not get to the dessert table but everyone else said it was a huge variety. After lunch we all went back to Mum's place for Secret Santa and then afternoon tea. We all said our goodbyes late in the afternoon.
On boxing day we had the Coy Family arrive.  I haven't seen my darling little great-neice since she was just a few months old and now she is THREE!  Oh my!  She is just so adorable.  A little shy at first but she soon warmed to us.  Philip and I put together a couple of salads for lunch and finished with my sisters special trifle with mum's plum pudding, custard and ice-cream.  Once again I experienced that wonderful (not!) feeling of not being able to move after a meal!
We all sat around and watched Isabella (Bella) open her christmas presents and is there anything more wonderful than the look on a child's face as they open presents.  If you could can it, it would be worth a mint!
It really was a lovely Christmas break for us.  It was great to catch up on each others news but as always the time seems to just fly out the door.  I look forward to catching up with family maybe a little more often in 2015.  I understand that there is going to be direct flights from Cairns to Toowoomba shortly so that will be welcome.
I hope that anyone who reads this post also had a wonderful christmas with friends and family and that we can all look forward to christmas in just 363 days!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Whatever Happened to Santa Claus?

Santa Claus has gone missing and those at the North Pole are worried.  Could someone have stolen Santa, or worse!
This is the setting for the "party" that we went to on Saturday night.  Twelve players each hard a part to play and as we acted out our parts, hidden clues and messages were revealed as to Santa's disappearance and whereabouts.
What a great night we had.  Our friends Colin and Maree hosted this christmas party with a difference and everyone really got into the swing of it.  The hosts had set the room up to look like Santa's toy shop with presents scattered here and there.  Fantastic. And then there were the costumes.  Everyone had gone to so much trouble in replicating there character.  They really where splendid.  We had the mad scientist, Dr Dee Struction (played by Philip) The Chinese Lady, Lei Ying Lo (played by myself), Italian Mafia Man Tony Mascarpone, Postmaster Patch Elf, The Toymaker, Mrs Claus, The Swiss Banker, a Russian Princess, US Senator, The Irish Leprechaun, Santa's Daughter Calamity and Santa's Son.   Then there was the Security Officer, the Movie Star and the Singer.  Wheeww!  Quite a cast.
During the three part play we enjoyed a three course meal.  Everyone brought a plate so that it was not too much of a burden on the host and hostess and the food was so very tasty and delicious.
I'm not going to tell you what happened to Santa Claus (that was revealed at the end of the night) because you never know.  You might be invited to one of these fun parties one day!

Here is a collection of photos from the evening.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Ulysses Butterfly

I've written before about the beautiful Ulysses Butterflies that hover around our garden intermittently.  They are certainly prolific at the moment with lots of pollen laden flowers to choose from although they seem to prefer the pentas.
They are extremely hard to photograph as they never stop moving and when they do eventually stop to gather pollen they close their wings so that you can't get a photo of their magnificent colouring.
I chase them all around the garden trying to get a photo but have found the best result is to stand in one spot on the verandah and just take photos with a high speed shutter.  Of course I end up with dozens of photos but there is usually one that might be OK.  Here are my attempts today.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Photography Club Awards Night

On Saturday the Douglas Photographic Club held it's end of year Awards Night.  This year we decided to try Palmers Golf Club for our annual dinner.  We weren't disappointed.  The two course dinner was an alternate drop of either Roast Pork or Roast Turkey followed by either Pavlova or Mango Cheesecake.  The meals were very delicious and beautifully presented.
The photography club group are a great bunch of people.  Of course our passion for photography is what draws us all together but I love that the spouse's are also included in the outings.  We have a lot of activities planned for 2015 so that is exciting.  Some of the activities include camping so we are keeping our fingers crossed that our camper will arrive early in the new year.
I received an award for "Most Supportive Club Photographer" and "Outstanding Achievement" and Philip received the award for "Most Humorous Spouse".....  not entirely sure what that means!  The gorgeous ceramic gold fish where made by a local.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cairns Taipans versus Townsville Crocs

On Friday we were invited by Irelands Holden (Cairns) to join them in their corporate box for the Taipans/Crocs NBA game.  As we had never been to a game before, we jumped at the opportunity.  Oh my gosh!  What an experience.  The game was neck and neck for a good part of the game but in the end the Taipans ran away with the game.  The twelve seat corporate box was so close to the side-line that you could count the sweat beads on the players brows!  We were wined and dined and had a great time.
There is a rivalry between Cairns and Townsville that has been going on between the two cities forever and not just sporting.  It goes way beyond that! When we lived in the west Townsville was "The Big Smoke" for us.  We really looked forward to our twice yearly visits where the women could visit all the department stores and the men would find a mans toyshop.  We stayed at a motel and we had takeaways nearly every night.  It was, to us....bliss.
When the boys started boarding school at Townsville our trips became more frequent but our love of Townsville never waned.  The smell of saltwater after the smell of dust was food for the soul.
So when we moved to Julatten and Cairns become our "Big Smoke" our hearts were torn between the two cities for a long time but gradually Cairns has won our favouritism.
I personally think the rivalry began when Townsville was granted an International Airport in 1980 making it the first regional international airport in Australia.  Cairns was granted one shortly after.  But the Townsville International Airport was short-lived as Cairns become more popular with international tourists and the Townsville International Airport was closed.  I don't think Townsville ever forgave Cairns for supposedly "stealing" it's airport.  This is just my opinion.
I tried to take some photos of the basketball game with my iPhone but I am hopeless at using it.  Give me an SLR any day!  Here is one that is just OK.

A sea of Taipans supporters!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Buffalo Flies

The cattle are extremely restless and irritable at the moment and it is all because of the tiny little buffalo fly.  They have attacked the cattle with a vengeance and they bite, they really REALLY bite and they are not fussy whether it is a beast or human.  Some cattle are more susceptible to buffalo flies than others and we cull them from the herd as soon as possible.  The cattle that are badly affected are left with sores where the cattle bite.
The recent rain has brought the flies out in force.  It is not an unusual situation and in order to keep the flies at bay we tag the cattle with buffalo fly ear tags twice a year.  The tags are only effective for 12 weeks so by tagging twice, the cattle are covered through summer and into autumn.
It doesn't take long to tag the cattle.  I have the easy job of keeping the cattle up to Philip and he has the harder job of head-bailing and tagging.  We have three small mobs of cattle on our little block so we are finished well and truly before lunch.  It is such a rewarding job.  When the cattle come into the yards they are continually tossing their heads and tails to try and chase the buffalo fly off their back and within five minutes of tagging, the flies are all but gone.  It all makes for happier cattle.

The flies are in plague proportions and hover over the cattle waiting to attack.

Can you imagine how the cattle must feel with all these little flies biting them!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Rosella Jam

We have had quite a magnificent crop of Rosellas this year thanks again to thoughtful planning by the gardener.  It only takes four cups of rosellas to make my jam recipe so that was my agenda.  It is a little bit of work to make the jam.  You first need to wash the rosellas throughly as little insects just love hiding deep inside the flowers.  Next you need to separate the flower from the green pod.  The pod is where the pectin is.  I find it easiest to run a knife around the bottom of each flower and they seem to separate quite easily.  Next step is to boil the pods until they are soft.  I was running out of time and didn't cook them quite as long as I should so in the end my jam was a little runnier than I would have preferred. After boiling the pods you then strain and add the juice from the pods to the flowers along with just enough water to cover them.  After that it is simply a matter of adding the sugar and boiling until the jam thickens.  The last step is to spread that delicious jam onto a well buttered piece of toast and ENJOY!

Rosellas washed and ready to be prepared

Pods separated from flowers

All that marvellous pectin from he pods

Bottled and ready to eat...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

On owning a HSV Senator Signature.

HSV stands for Holden Special Vehicle and right from the very first moment that we sat in our new car we have felt pretty darn special.  The HSV Senator Signature is awesome.  I don't think I have ever driven a more powerful vehicle that feels so incredibly safe.  It is luxury with a capital L and powerful with a capital P.
My love of V8's came from my father.  He was always a Holden man and gradually worked his way up through the Holdens.  When mum and dad were first married they owned a Holden Ute.
The ute looked much like this one.
It was probably a great car for a couple but as the family grew to five it became too small.  I still remember the times that we visited our grandparents on their farm at Pittsworth.  We always stayed for dinner so consequently the kids crashed out as soon as we piled into the car.  How did we all fit?  Well, one of us would lie on the "shelf" behind the front seats, one would curl into a ball on the floor at mum's feet and mum would nurse the youngest.  It probably took us a couple of hours to drive home but we kids never complained!
The next Holden that Dad bought was a Station Wagon.  Oh my gosh...all that room.  We all loved that car to bits.  Dad's final Holden was a V8 Statesman.  I can still see the pride in Dad's eyes as he brought that car home from the dealership.  Dad put so much love and care into his cars.  Not a week went by without them being washed then tyres and oil checked.  You can understand why Dad kept all his cars for more than 10 years.
So getting back to our Holden.  HSV's are hand built.  The core vehicle is sent over to the HSV factory from Holden and is then stripped right back.  It is then re-fitted with HSV components.  From when you place your order for your HSV to when it arrives is about twelve weeks.
But the real joy of owning a HSV is that you are made to feel very special.  Within a couple of weeks of owing our car, this arrived in the mail.

A very large box!  When we opened it, this was what we found.....

OK...so it was a very large box for what was inside (cap, pen, key ring and leather note book) but it was the thought that counts.  There are about 3500 HSV's made each year so that is a lot of gifts!
And just to make us feel even more special, we had a phone call from the Holden Dealership (Irelands Cairns) to ask us if we would like to join them in their corporate box this Friday to watch the Taipans versus Crocs basketball game!  Would we ever!
So after all this would we ever buy another HSV.............in a heartbeat!

I wash our car every week...... thanks for the inherited pride Dad!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Masterclass Cooking Class

We went to a Masterclass Cooking Class using Chef's Tool products on the weekend.  I had never heard of Chef's tools but after going to this demonstration I'm hooked.  Ben Milbourne who hosts Ben's Menu at 4pm each weekday on channel 10 is an ambassador for the product.  I didn't know that before this demonstration but I did wonder about the non stick cookware he was using.
The cookware is very good quality.  I would put it up there with the old Bessemerware and we all know how many years they stood the test of time.  The cookware is expensive but good quality is always expensive.  They have two size pressure cookers that I was impressed with but as I already own a pressure cooker I turned my attention to other things.  I really needed a small saute pan so I purchased that along with some silicon spatulas and a good size chopping board that I will use to serve a cheese platter.
In order for my host to gain more points I booked a party for the last week in January.  I would really love the large saute pan and by hosting a party I can purchase this at a very low price.  Win.
Our demonstrator cooked a delicious Chicken, Leek & Fetta Risotto in the large pressure cooker and a Sticky Date Pudding with a Butterscotch Sauce in the large Saute Pan.  The meal was so so delicious!
If you would like to know more about the product HERE is the website and if you want to purchase any of the products let me know and you can add them to my party order.😊😊😊

This Risotto cooked in a matter of minutes inn the pressure cooker.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pieroth Wines

A few months ago I posted about a wine tasting that we had at our place.  HERE is the post.  I'm very pleased to report that we have almost finished the wines that we ordered and they have been spectacular!  I don't normally drink red wine but after drinking the reds that we purchased I am now a  devoted lover.  It turns out that the red wines that I have had previously have been "rough reds" because the wines that we purchased from Pieroth are so smooth that they glide down the throat.  The Pieroth wines have very few preservatives so consequently are lower in alcohol.  Almost all of the wine bottles are corked and there really is something special about the plop as the cork is removed.
My favourite so far has been the Parliament of Owls - Cabernet Merlot - 2013.  It is such a "ladies" wine as we found out at a recent party when we produced a bottle!

We were invited to Pieroth Wines christmas wine tasting last weekend. We tried more than 20 different wines (including champagne and liquors) and rated them as we went along.  It was extremely hard to choose wines as they are all truly excellent. 
Pieroth had a special deal going whereby if you bought 10 cartons of wine they gave you another 4 cartons for free. It was a good deal because they allowed us to make up a joint order with our friends.  The wine worked out to be just over $23 per bottle. That really was a good deal and we won't have to buy any more wine for a very long time!  We are all looking forward to receiving our cartons of wine before christmas.
 Philip and I loved the Prosecco and chose that as our "freebie".  The plan is to take a few bottles to Toowoomba for drinking over the Christmas period.  

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Drafting Cattle

Philip and I spent the morning drafting cattle.  It's a job that I don't particularly like.  All the years that we lived on a cattle station I very rarely helped in the yards.  My father-in-law was a bit of a stickler for a "women's place is in the home".  Not that I minded as I enjoyed cooking meals for all the hungry workers.  
Some folks are "inside" people and some are "outside".  I am definitely the inside type.  I have always been the station book-keeper and enjoy the role and I thoroughly enjoy knocking up a meal.  Craft comes in high on the list of hobbies along with photography.
Back to the drafting.  It was all my fault that we were even drafting in the first place.  You see while Philip was at Julia Creek it was my job to shift the three mobs of cattle each day.  We have twelve paddocks on our little block and in order to run the number of cattle that we want we have to operate a rotational grazing system.  By doing this we are looking after the health of our soil, grass and cattle.  As soon as the cattle have taken off the top third of the grass it is time to move.  
We have had very little rain here at Julatten over the past four months and that is very unusual for the tropics.  When I moved the cull/weaner mob into what we call the house paddock I also gave them the lane to munch down on for additional grass.  The only thing that I forgot was that this mob would only be one gate away from our breeder mob.  Now, some of the cull cows are cycling so the bull in the breeder mob managed to push his way through the gate to get to those cows.  Consequently I now had two mobs joined into one!  Not quite a disaster but we really did not want those cull cows pregnant again.  As it is we are certain some of them will be!
So back to the drafting.  It didn't really take us all that long.  It's just slow because we are checking off a list and because all these cows have calves at foot it is imperative that we get the draft right.  There is nothing more frustrating than finding a cow calling for a calf that has found it's way into another mob!  Anyway, all is well and the three mobs are now all back in their rightful place.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Cooking Class at Candy Cafe

My friend Kate and I have been going to the Cairns Cooking School classes held at Candy Cafe in Cairns.  They have been good but not as good as the Spirit House cooking school.  Spirit House was a more hands on class with participants preparing everything from scratch.  You can read about Spirit House HERE.

The CCS classes have all the ingredients pre-prepared for you so it really is only a matter of throwing it all together.  However, the recipes we have made have been very delicious and the recipes from the class we went to this month are definitely "keepers".  A bonus is that participants are given a glass of wine while cooking each course because everybody knows that one must have a glass of wine whilst preparing meals!

Our work spaces are very well laid out with each participant having their own single burner and all the utensils needed for the recipes.

The first course was Roast Chicken, Rocket and Rockmelon Salad

Second course was Peppered Pork Cutlet with Lime Wasabi Risotto

And the last course was Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Lychee Lime and Strawberry Compote.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Lunch Paleo Style

If you ever get a chance to visit one of the Paleo Cafe's you really must do so.  The one in Cairns is the original cafe and it is owned and operated by Marlies Hobbs.  She turned to the Paleo way of eating after the birth of her dairy-intolerant son.

Paleo itself is a new word for a way of eating that we have always embraced.  Living on a remote cattle station in the north west of Queensland, with the nearest "fast food" being more than a six hour round trip and the local supermarket an hour and a half round trip, meant that I had to, out of necessity, become a proficient cook able to use whatever was in the pantry, fridge or freezer at the time. Our diet consisted of grass feed meat, fresh fruit and vegetables.  No preservative packed food for us.  I did have a reasonable vegetable garden but had most success with herbs.  Anyway, I am once again off subject!

You may recall in an earlier post I mentioned that I had a Kale overload.  Well I found a recipe in the Paleo Cafe recipe book for a Zucchini and Kale Frittata with Capsicum Chilli Jam.  It was so very delicious and took no time to cook for lunch.  I added a few chicken wings so that I was getting protein and all in all I think it was a very well balanced meal.

Lunch Paleo Style:  Zucchini and Kale Frittata, Capsicum and Chilli Jam and Chicken Wings.


½ tsp ghee
1 cup- kale leaves, stems removed and finely shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 ½ zucchinis, peeled and grated
1 spring onion, sliced
7 eggs, beaten
5 tabsp almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
2 ½ tabsp coconut flour
Salt and Pepper

Heat the ghee in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the kale and cook for 1-2 minutes or until just wilted.  Transfer the kale to a large mixing bowl with the carrot, zucchini and spring onion and mix well to combine.  Add the eggs, almond meal, baking powder, coconut flour, salt and pepper and mix well until a batter forms.

Pour the batter into a baking dish lined with greaseproof paper and cook in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until firm and the top is golden brown.
Mix all the ingredients together.

And pour into dish and bake for 15-20 mins.

The recipe says to serve with Chilli Capsicum Jam and I am glad I made the effort because it was super easy and so very tasty.


1 large red capsicum, deseeded and sliced
½ red onion, sliced           
½ long red chilli, sliced
75ml apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
1 star anise
1 cardamom pod
25ml water

Place all ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring regularly.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until capsicum is soft and mixture is thick and sticky.

Chilli Capsicum Jam cooking down.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I've got a Christmas feeling!

Yesterday I decided it was time to make a christmas cake.  I found a great recipe on Baby Mac's blog and you can read it HERE.  Beth's Grandma Dot gave here the recipe so it has to be good right?
So far so good.  I did cut the cooking time back to two hours as I like a bit of moisture in a christmas cake but the smell is divine and it is now wrapped up in a towel and sitting in a cupboard to develop all the flavours.  In a week or so I will transfer it to another container.

Straight out of the oven..
On Saturday I made my way to Yungaburra Markets.  At 6am my friends from Mossman arrived and we were at the markets before 8am.  They are really great markets and not as commercial as I had been told.  I picked up white agapanthas that my gardener wants to use to edge a garden bed, some delicious "quince" paste, baby onions straight out of the garden and a plum pudding!
Doesn't this sound delicious.  It will be perfect on a cheese platter.

I tasted this plum pudding before I bought it and it really is good. 
We spent a few hours at the markets and wandering through the village.  We watched the bikers leave Yungaburra for their annual christmas ride.  They apparently donate a lot of money from this ride to kids in need.  On our way to Yungaburra we had decided that we would have lunch back in Mareeba at Coffee Works.  This was a good decision as we found out that we had to be out of Yungaburra by 12.30pm as the roads were going to be closed for a local triathlon.
This was my first visit to Coffee Works and it won't be my last.  The steak sandwich that I washed down with an Iced Coffee was very tasty with the steak literally melting in the mouth.  After lunch we wandered around the gift shop where I was able to pick up a few "stocking" fillers.
It really was a lovely day spent with good friends and we have all agreed that we will do it again in the new year.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Spring Garden

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The best thing that we have ever done is employ a gardener.  In just 18 months she has transformed the garden from a rambling mess to one of beauty.  We get so much joy from wandering around the garden each afternoon doing a little wedding and watering.

Thanks to thoughtful planting by our gardener in winter, we now have a kaleidoscope of colour this spring.  Love love love the red zinnias!

The yellow day lilies, red zinnias and agapanthus
After a big prune in August the roses are repaying us tenfold.

The jade vine has started flowering again.  The flowers are not as long as the early spring but are still quite spectacular.

My Cottage Garden (sort of!)

The orange tree has already started producing fruit that will be ready for picking next year.

The red zinnias are a stand-out in the garden.

I have so much kale growing that I was able to add it to this flower arrangement.

Decided to bring some of the orchids inside.  I have them planted all around the garden and they are spectacular.