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, 31 January 2016

I'm not a food waster.

In our family food is never wasted.  I usually cook just enough for hubby and I but if the recipe calls for four servings and I can't adjust it, the two leftover portions are used the next day.  We LOVE leftovers in this house.  I made a wombok cabbage salad this week and served it with a pork cutlet. Because I was using up leftover wombok cabbage (from my Kimchi)  the salad ended up being very large, and as it was dressed with a lemon vinaigrette I wondered what it would be like the next day but I can assure you it was even better the second day, this time served with roast chicken.

Recipe: Wombok Cabbage, Raddish, Chilli, Peas, Mint, Parmesan Cheese Lemon Vinaigrette

We love snacking on cold meat.   It can be anything from grilled steak, grilled pork or corned beef and just a little protein can take the edge off your hunger.
If a leftover stays in the fridge too long without being eaten we give it to the dogs.  Our dogs eat what we eat, interspersed with dry food, and that has never changed.  They are very healthy dogs and not overweight.  The big plus is that we never have any vet bills.
I use the freezer a lot for leftovers, particularly cakes, muffins and slices.  I usually freeze half of what I cook and I always have something to pull out of the freezer when unexpected guests arrive.
This week our gardener gave us mangoes from her parents mango farm.  They are huge.  I have made a large batch of fruit salad that we have been devouring but as they are so large one is enough for a fruit salad. They have been sitting on the bench looking at me so today I decided to cut them up and freeze them for use in the middle of the year when mangoes are scarce and overpriced.  Mangoes freeze beautifully so they can be used in mango cheesecake or even muffins.  Of course Mango Daiquiri would also be nice :-)

Huge Mangoes!

Ready for the freezer




Thursday, 28 January 2016

I don't do sympathy

I was reading an article in a magazine recently about the novelist Jackie Collins.  Jackie sadly passed away after battling breast cancer.  The only people that knew that Jackie had breast cancer were her three daughters.  The reason that she didn't tell anyone else was because, and I quote "I think sympathy can weaken you".  I wrote down this quote because I agree one hundred percent with Jackie Collins.  Just lately we saw the passing of another great person, David Bowie.  The world was in shock because no one knew that he was even ill.  Heck, he'd just produced another Album!  But I dare say that he had the same philosophy as Jackie Collins......sympathy can weaken you, and when you are battling cancer you need every bit of strength in your body to help you heal.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, the first thing I said to my husband was "Please don't tell anyone".  You see it is hard enough to deal with the cancer without the sympathy of friends.  Sympathy weakens you.  Of course friends and family found out that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I did try to shut myself away from people as much as I could because......sympathy weakens you.  I also started to screen the phone calls from friends because the calls I disliked the most were from friends who started to cry whilst talking to me.  I wanted to scream I AM NOT DYING but that would have hurt my friends feelings greatly so I remained quiet, but, sympathy weakens you.
Some people seem to become addicted to sympathy. They get so much attention and sympathy from their pain that they continue to find reasons to be in pain. Those people are usually not positive thinking and we all know the power of the mind over body can cause some remarkable changes in our body.
I am just not a very sympathetic person I'm afraid.  My motto is "just get on with it", but I don't think that makes me a hard person.  I would rather help my friends in other ways if they are going through a bad time.  Instead of the shoulder I would prefer to deliver a hot meal to their door or invite them for dinner.  To me that is more constructive, but.....what do I know.





Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Happy Australia Day!

Today we were invited to an Aussie Pie Day to celebrate Australia Day.  What a great idea!  Everyone took along a favourite pie and our host cooked up mashed potato and mushy peas to go with the pies.  The perfect accompaniment.
We had everything from Tandoori Pie, to Chicken Pie to traditional meat pies and they were all very tasty.  

Not the greatest map of Australia but you get the idea....

Can you see the map of Australia?  Very clever

Five varieties and pies and mashed potato and mushy peas.  What a spread!


As usual we ate too much and as I write this blog I'm thinking that there will be no dinner tonight as my belly is still full.



Our hosts took turns in entertaining their gorgeous little granddaughter while the rest of us continued to eat and eat and eat!

Cute hats!


I forgot to get photos of dessert but I can assure you the trifle and cheesecakes were also delicious.  It was a lovely way to spend Australia Day and I hope that we continue with the pie idea and make it our Australia Day tradition.






Monday, 25 January 2016

A birthday party.

Philips birthday is now done and dusted for another year.  I think it was one of the best parties we have ever hosted and it was all to do with the wonderful friends that we invited.  They truly are the friends I want to grow old with!
We started on Saturday, the day after Philips official birthday.  We asked all our friends to meet us in the Presidential Suite at the Pullman Reef Hotel.  I have written about this hotel on previous blogs.  It is one of Cairns best kept secrets.  Of course all Pullman Hotels are outstanding but the staff just cannot do enough for you at this place.  I asked that we have enough glasses (champagne, beer and wine) for 17 people and it was done.  I asked that all the mini bar be cleared out of the fridge to make way for food, and it was done.  I asked for enough coffee cups, plates, cutlery and platters to feed everyone for breakfast Sunday morning and it was done.  Nothing is too much trouble and to really top it off they sent a magnificent bottle of champagne and chocolate truffles to our room for Philips Birthday.
So we all met in our suite at 4.30 pm for a "get to know you" as some friends did not know others.  (By the end of the night it was like we had all been friends for a lifetime).  At about 6.00 pm we did a quick tidy and then walked the short distance to the Spirit of Cairns for our dinner cruise.  I cannot praise this cruise enough.  From the moment I booked it the staff have been magnificent and on the night we could not fault anything, except maybe that they ran out of oysters.  Admittedly though, one of our crowd could have feasted on nothing but oysters!  The cruise took two and a half hours but the night just went so fast.  We ate talked and some of us danced the night away and didn't even really notice that we had docked until they told us that it was time to leave the ship!
We headed back to the Reef Hotel and a couple of our group wandered into the casino.  A friend and I carved up the dance floor for a couple of dances but as it was so noisy and busy we all decided to head back to our suite.  I have to report that the couple that headed into the Casino picked up a cool $1000 on the black jack table in fifteen minutes! Wish I was a gambler. Not.
Back in the room we put the music on and just enjoyed the balmy night out on the balcony.  We eventually headed back inside to the dining room and sat around the large table and once again toasted Philip with a hearty rendition of "Happy Birthday to You".  It probably was a bit loud at that hour of the night as we did have security come to our door and asked us very politely to move out of the dining area and into the lounge area because the people in the room next door (against the dining room) had complained.  ("Insert" guilty face).
I was in bed by 12.30 as most of our guests had left by then and I don't know what time Philip came to bed.  He and another one of our friends talked into the small hours.
We asked everyone to join us again at 8.00am for a continental style breakfast, which they did, and it was once again a time for catching up on each others news.  We finally checked out of our room about midday after we had said all our goodbyes and promised each other that we would keep in touch. Sadly life gets in the way and we don't always keep in touch but as it is with good friends even if you haven't seen each other for a long time you just pick up where you left off....











Friday, 22 January 2016

Happy Birthday.

Today is my darling husbands 60th birthday.  Quite a milestone and seems incredible that I have helped my hubby celebrate 39 of his 60 birthdays.  Whheeww.....that's a lot of birthdays and parties.  We are, of course, going "all out" in celebrating this birthday with not one but two birthday parties.  The first one will be tomorrow when we will have 15 friends, travelling from all over Australia, to help us celebrate in Cairns.  The next one will be a low key affair with a bbq lunch at home.  The reason we are having two parties is because of the variety of friends that we now have.  There are our long term friends from the west.  These are the friends that had kids the same age as our own. Our kids would have sleepovers at their place and vice-versa. Then we have the friends that Philip went to school with.  These men have a most remarkable bond from their boarding school days.  Who would have thought that they would all remain in close contact and also remain close friends.  Then we have the friends that we have made since we moved to Julatten.  Each and every one of our friends are extremely important to us and I sincerely hope that we have shown them how much we appreciate the friendship.
So getting back to Philips 60th birthday.  I am such a lucky person to have found my soul mate in marriage.  We have produced two gorgeous boys who we love with all our heart.  We have had our ups and down, sad and happy times, trials and tribulations.  But through it all our love has strengthened.  I love my husband with all my heart and I am so much looking forward to the next stage in our lives. xxxxx



Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A hearty breakfast.

Today we woke to a rainy morning.  This means one thing to me......no walking!  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the walk once I get going.  It's just the "getting going" that's difficult.  So I jumped out of bed at our normal time of 6.00am and made us both coffees and settled back into bed with my iPad.  I was skimming through my Facebook feed when I came across a recipe that looked quite delicious for breakfast.  
It was so simple.  Grease four muffin tins (mine are silicon) and place a round of bread in the bottom of each one.  I used a cookie cutter.  Then I wrapped a piece of bacon around the edge of the muffin tin.  Next step was a teaspoon of cream into each case and then break an egg on top of that.  Season with salt and pepper and pop into a pre-heated 200 degree oven for 10 minutes.  If you don't like runny eggs cook them a little longer.  I tipped the eggs onto a bed of rocket dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and put a little sprig of parsley on top and Voilà!  They were delicious!





Saturday, 16 January 2016

Bringing out the good china.

Do people still "do" afternoon teas or is it a dying tradition.   I know that my mum does a wonderful afternoon tea.  A variety of slices, biscuits and usually something savoury is laid out on the table that has been carefully laid out with the best china.......Royal Albert Old Country Rose.  The teapot is filled with loose leaf tea and the tea is always made with rain water brought in from the outside tank. Of course the teapot itself is part of the Country Rose collection along with the sugar bowl and milk jug.  It is special.
We certainly kept the tradition going when I lived in Julia Creek.  My group of friends would take turns in "doing" afternoon tea.  The food was wonderful but the thing that was most important was sitting down with girlfriends and chatting.  You can imagine that living in a fairly isolated community this was extremely soul soothing.  My days were filled with the mundane jobs associated with running a cattle station and very rarely did I get the opportunity to sit down and chat with another woman.  My world was surrounded by men so the get togethers with my girlfriends, understandably, was very important.
I was recalling these times today and I glanced at my cupboard filled with the "good china".  My beautiful "Queen Ann" tea set has not been used since I moved to Julatten.  Times change, friends change but I decided it was time to dust off the tea set and start using it.
I made myself a pot of tea, with loose leaf, and water straight from the sky.  I cut myself a large slice of sponge cake that I had made earlier in the week and carefully placed it on the plate.  It looked almost too lovely too eat, but eat it I did.  And that cup of tea.  Why is it that drinking from a bone china teacup makes the tea taste just so perfect.
I have made a promise to myself that I am going to bring out the good china at least once a week and treat myself to this wonderful tradition more often.



Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ooops!

There is a saying "buy in haste.......regret at leisure".
I am unfortunately a person that does things impulsively.  This also extends to my purchases.  If I want something,  I get it.  I can't see the point in waiting.  Waiting annoys me.  This personality trait is one that I have tried to curtail over the years with varying degrees of success, but I am getting better.  At least now when I want something I do my research before purchasing.
But just before christmas the old impulsiveness took over again and I purchased a cane setting for the verandah.  You see I thought the verandah looked sterile and that it might be nice to have a couple of chairs scattered around. I bought the cane setting it at a little shop in Mossman at a very large Mossman price. I have since seen another one in Cairns for exactly half the price.

I should have know that the calico cushions would be subject to mould ...


and I should have known that it would be difficult to remove said mould.  This is what happened when I washed the cushions.....


.....they completely disintegrated and who would have thought that the cushions would be filled with tiny pieces of foam.  It was such a mess both in the washing machine and outside the machine!
So when I was in the Reject Shop yesterday I came across some cushions that I reckoned might be a good replacement for the cushions that the washing machine had destroyed.  They were just $7 each so no big deal if they didn't fit properly.  Lucky for me I think they look pretty good.  



I left the calico cushions on the two seater chair and topped them with some black and white chair cushions but I had to throw away the calico cushions from the single chairs.  I think the red and black works well though.
"Buy in Haste......regret at Leisure".  I will try to remember this saying Mum.




Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A trip to Cairns

It's been six weeks since we had the panel beating done to our car.  Those who read my blog will remember this post back in October.  We had to replace the bonnet of the car after that little incident and then we hit a kangaroo coming home from Cooktown in November.  We were shattered that we've had so much panel beating done to our car that is only over twelve months old! Anyway, I digress.  We had to take the car to Cairns today to have the paint protection re-applied after the panel beating.
When we go to Cairns we ask for a courtesy car because we always seem to have a large list of jobs to do and places to go. We were down in Cairns by 8.00 am so the first thing on the list was.......breakfast!  You need a hearty breakfast when you have jobs to do (says me) and our breakfast today was just the thing.  Philip ordered a big, really big, protein breakfast.  Sausage, steak, bacon, eggs, toast, tomatoes and just to make it extra healthy.....a hash brown. All this for $18!  Such a cheap meal.  I had a lighter breakfast of Ciabatta Toast with avocado and poached eggs.  It was very delicious and at $15, also very cheap.  We must remember this place.
As the car was going to take most of the day we decided that we would take in a movie after we had completed our jobs. I wanted to watch "Star Wars" to see what all the fuss was about but I just couldn't talk Philip into that one so we decided to go and see "Joy".  Jennifer Lawrence plays the part of Joy Mangano........the woman who invented the miracle "twist" mop.  This is a true story and the story should have been a good one but it sadly lacks depth.  There are so many parts of the movie that are unnecessary and yet it seems to cut short on the parts of the story that should be told.  But that is just my opinion.  There are probably heaps of people that would disagree.
Our jobs didn't take as long as I thought.  I even had time for the Reject Shop.  I  love the reject shop. I managed to get most of the things on my list from this place, plus a few more, even a nice set of curtains for the spare room.

I also picked up a mat to go underneath our bar stools because they were starting to mark the polished floors.

But my favourite purchase from the Reject Shop was a little string of fairy lights that I have placed amongst my favourite photographs that sit proudly on my sideboard.


Lunch today was at Coffee Club.  Philip had a nice healthy caesar salad, while I opted for the chicken sliders.  Philip washed his down with an Iced Coffee whilst I chose the Coffee Frappe.  Not a good choice.  It really tasted odd.  I do love the napkins that Coffee Club provide.


Our last place to visit was Dan's to pick up our drink order for Philips 60th birthday party...........Champagne, beer and wine with a bottle of Bundy Rum thrown in for good measure.  Is  it just me or is Dan Murphys not as cheap as it used to be.  I guess this was their marketing strategy.  Get everyone to go there with very cheap prices and then just gradually increase the prices.  It is the same strategy that Coles and Woolworths use.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Time to oil the verandah.

The weather has been quite dry over the past few days so we decided that it was an excellent time to re-paint the verandah floors with Sikkens.  We try to do this each year as the verandah cops a lot of weather, sun and rain, and that really plays havoc with the timber.  
The painting process takes a few days.  First we move all the furniture on to the western side of the house so that we can paint the other three sides and when those sides are dry enough to walk on we move the furniture back into position and then paint the western side.


We paint by brush and a special "mop" head. Philip does the edges by brush, on his hands and knees, and I have the easy job of following behind him mopping the rest.  It takes us about an hour and a half and the results are always so pleasing.



On another subject I was really sad when I heard the news that David Bowie had passed away after an 18 month battle with cancer.  It was kept very quiet so understandably the world was in shock.  David Bowie had just released a video from his new album  "Blackstar" just three days ago and one of the songs - Lazarus - really talks about his acceptance of death.  One line of the song says "now everyone will know me" is quite haunting. Even folks that have never been a fan will now know David Bowie.

Monday, 11 January 2016

A walk around the garden.

After all the rain we have had recently everything is growing twice as fast and it is almost a full time job pruning and weeding.
The latest addition to the garden is this feature that we brought back from Julia Creek.  It sits proudly in the middle of the pergola.

When I look at this photo it is hard to imagine that there was nothing growing in this area when we first moved here.  Now the pond and palm garden are a living testament to what can be achieved in just a few years.

I spend quite a bit of time sitting by the pond and just watching the goldfish.  I find them very relaxing and calming.

Pinks and mauves are the predominant colours in the garden.  Just love them.

The three magnolia trees bloom almost year round.  I love not only the flowers but the lovely bronze colour on the underneath of the leaves.

An oldie but still a favourite.  All the Hydrangeas in my garden are this colour.

Gorgeous mauve Cats Whiskers

This ginger was given to me by a friend and she said it was quite rare and that she didn't have a lot of success growing it.  It obviously loves our place because it has grown so much that we have to chop a lot out of the garden.

We placed this table and chairs under the Lychee tree and it is a lovely spot to sit if the mozzies don't carry you away!

The common Shell Ginger

At this time of the year the agapanthus keep on giving.

A close up of the flower of the Ivory Curl

We have the Ivory Curl Trees all the way along our driveway.  They are still young but when they are in bloom they will look sensational.

The garden at the front of the house needs constant caring.  We took a lot of larger plants out of this garden last year and I'm so pleased we did.  It now has more of a cottage garden feel to it.

Not much happening in the vegetable garden at the moment but the ginger and turmeric are prolific.

We have been working on training our Avocado tree into a more manageable shape and size by tying weights to the limbs to encourage them down.  Avocado trees tend to go straight up.

The "Lotsa Lemon" tree is laden with fruit.