Thursday, December 31, 2009

wombat's holiday

wombat had a great time in paynesville (i think it's the first trip that she hasn't ended up with red, raw feet that she licks constantly-- we think it's either from salt water or something in the garden). she got to go "swimming" twice in the lake (and then her legs and belly were bathed with neem soap which seemed to keep her itch free). she's a bit top heavy- when she grabs the ball her head goes under and her bottom goes up and the back legs splay out:
fetching the ball (watch her back end as she grabs it: video

worried she's gonna get kicked off the couch that she wasn't supposed to be on (she didn't get kicked off but she wasn't allowed to use the pillow anymore):
fetch in the backyard:


waiting very patiently while we started christmas lunch (that only lasted a couple minutes until we did the christmas crackers, then she refused to come out from under the table:
opening her pressents
she did very well at opening gifts and after she finished opening her own she walked around the room helping people get theirs open. it was pretty cute.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the food side of christmas

(also the part of christmas i forgot to take photos of)
i feel like we did nothing but eat for 4 days. it was good though. christmas eve we had a feast of nibblies at zac's aunt and uncle's place in paynesville after we arrived from our drive up from melbourne with nanna. there was lots of vegan stuff in the nibbly things-- marinated mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, homemade hummus, homemade white bean dip (which i will be making when i get the ingredients off zac's mum), vegan sausage rolls (made by zac's aunt), vegan sushi, homemade pita bread chips, garlic and herb cheezely......
christmas day lunch included a nut loaf and a thanksgiving loaf (basically stuffing made into a casserole-- sooo good!) as well as salads and veggies and other good stuff (a very filling feast).
boxing day was another christmas dinner to celebrate with lea and jay who arrived that day. mostly nibbly things that had been left from the last 2 feasts plus plus some amazing guacamole (very lemon-y with tomato chunks). the food was so good i didn't mind still eating it.
a couple meals we ate out with family at local places in paynesville. we went for lunch at the fickle fig. there wasn't anything vegan on the menu but the pumpkin and rocket salad was easily made vegan without the cheese and it was really nice (and surprisingly filling).
we did breakfast at alma's cafe in paynesville. we both ended up ordering toast with sides of mushrooms and baked beans. simple but nice (they also included a side of baby spinach i think cuz they thought our plates looked boring).
the nite before we left we were still feeding on leftovers (there were still a couple pieces of nut loaf and thanksgiving loaf in the fridge when we left even though i'd snacked on it several times). i always feel a bit bad that we never take anything to christmas lunches/dinners but i guess there is already WAY too much food and we would just end up adding to that.

2 great ideas

i've been going through a lot of coriander (cilantro) lately (mostly for salsa). the problem is that i'm not growing it in my garden right now and it cost about 2.50 for a bunch (i think-- i don't pay too much attention but i just know every time i grab it i think i could get a whole punnet of seedlings for not much more or a packet of seeds for probably less). i do stick it in a cup of water in the fridge and it seems to last a week or more but i still seem to end up putting some in the bokashi bucket from every bunch (i was freezing some but now i just have a bunch of little baggies of freezer burnt coriander because you can only really use it in cooked dishes when frozen and i don't cook with it often). its too hot to try to plant it in the garden now so i figured i'll just have to pay the price for fresh but i walked into aldi's and found this today:

its hard to tell from the photo but its a bunch of coriander planted in a little pot so it'll probably keep a lot longer than the cut stuff-- and it was only $3! i've got it in the fridge (with water in the orange tupperware container under it) right now because it's 34C but on cooler days i'll keep it in a nice light spot.
the other great invention is the bread maker. not only cuz i can make bread with very little effort (although occasionally i like to do it by hand and in the oven) but i can make bread on 34C days and not add to the heat in the house by having the oven on for hours. next project i have to get going while it's nice and hot is a batch of alcoholic ginger beer (i just gotta remember where we got the coopers ginger beer home brewing syrup cuz they didn't even carry it in the large home brew section at the huge beer shop in yarragon).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

hot

way too hot for 8am:

we did actually sleep somewhat well. i soaked our sheet on the bed in water. unfortunately i couldn't get it wring out very well so it was a little too wet but it kept us cool (and everything is completely dry now).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

waitin for the change


it's 9:30pm and it's still 33C out. the change (and a bunch of rain) is supposed to come tomorrow. hopefully the rain will wait until after we get to paynesville but i'd be happy if the cool change came now (especially since the house is probably still much warmer than the 33C outside).
i also just noticed on the forecast the overnite low: 26C!!!! ugh.
i got bitten by this guy earlier this evening:
i'm pretty sure it's a black house spider (which isn't poisonous). i had just come in from the garden and was standing behind the couch when i felt something prick the side of my foot. i rolled my foot a bit to try to rub the pain and when i looked down i saw something big and black next to my foot. at first i thought big, black bumblebee type thing but when i looked closer (it was curled up a bit) it was a spider! i realized a minute later that it was still alive so i got a clear glass bowl to trap him under and identify it. i think i may have stopped him mid-bite when i rolled my foot. there's no swelling or anything-- it just went a bit red and hurt a bit. i don't know if he came out from under the couch and i just happened to put my foot a bit to close to it and scared it or if it got a lift into the house from the garden on me and just happened to fall and then bite me at that point. i'm just glad it wasn't the redback that i found in the garden yesterday.


Friday, December 18, 2009

FINISHED!

another year done and another batch of kids ready to head off to school after the summer break. i'm ready for my 5 weeks off. it's been a long year.
the end of year thing kinda bugs me with the amount of gifts parents give. there are 5 staff in our room so obviously to get us all something can cost a fair amount so there's a few things the families tend to do. some get us large boxes of chocolates or other baked goods (which instead of splitting up and just taking a few pieces of each thing-- especially since me and 1 other co-worker are vegan-- we each take a couple of the gifts. i manged to find 2 things i can eat/drink and my vegan co-worker took a couple things she can re-gift or use for a cookie exchange she has to go to tomorrow). other families just get the main teacher a large gift and then get us little things to thank us. unfortunately most of the time it's little boxes of cheap chocolate (not vegan) or soaps (that usually aren't vegan). a few families had a great ideas this year which we all LOVED. about a dozen families collected up money together and then donated it to oxfam and got us a few oxfam unwrapped gifts. the children from those families then drew special pictures which were copied on a high quality colour copier (i didn't even realize they were copies until i saw we all had the same pictures) and bound them together in a little book for each of us.
other families got us something for our room at work. one family got some a whole setup from the friendship tree and another got us a large potted plant. i like those sorts of things much better than the homemade food or little packets of chocolates. another great gift idea was a little box of spices from the oxfam shop. they were spices that i'm sure all of us use and the money from it's purchase goes towards supporting farming communities in sri lanka.
i think next year i may try to teach the kids what the word vegan means from the start of the year (although i can't tell them about the horrible lives that the animals that become their food have i can teach them what i do and don't eat as a vegan and of course they all go home and tell their parents everything). it was a bit annoying that even the couple of parents who did know we were vegan still gave us home made baked goods and just said things like "sorry it's got butter in it." i don't really need the gift. just a thank you is nice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a bit of everything

after a 39C day yesterday, today our high was 25C (and that happened at midnite, i don't think it's been above 21C since sunrise). this afternoon we've had some thunder showers and hard rains come through:
wombat actually turned down a trip to the park across the street. i suited her up with her jacket on, got my jacket on, got her harness and muzzle on and walked out the door. the rain started coming down pretty hard and wombat just stared out at the rain from the covered area of the driveway and refused to move forward (usually she's happy to go for walks in the rain even if she won't go out in the backyard in it). i unlocked the front door and she happily bounded in right at my heels. now she's sitting in the hall in a very similar position to this:

this is my tower of dukkah.

i decided to make a little something for my co-workers in my room for end-of-year/christmas. dukkah ended up being what i came up with. quick, easy, not expensive and will work with all the different diets in our room. i got the recipe off the sbs website while searching for dukkah recipies online (a commenter stated that it is the best dukkah recipe ever). i printed off a little discription card to attach to the jar so they would know what dukkah is/how to use it if they aren't familiar with it (the wording i used is what's at the top of the recipe webpage). it is really nice tasting dukkah. i was hoping to get some little jars from an op shop but i never really got a chance to look for them so i just ended up getting a couple sets of $2 shop spice jars with fluro lids. now i just gotta write on the greeting cards i made with a photo i took of a snowman decoration i have (i realized after i printed them up how unaustralian they are for christmas/summer but that's ok cuz i'm mostly canadian anyway-- even if i come from the part of canada that rarely gets to make snowmen).
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go green

from failblog.org:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

eggless nog and heat


i accidentally used some firm tofu in the fridge instead of the silken tofu to make sour cream so i wasn't sure what to do with the silken tofu that i had bought specifically to make the sour cream with. then i remembered my favourite holiday treat- egg(less) nog from how it all vegan. i made a batch this afternoon. i forgot i was almost halving the recipe though and put in the normal amount (so almost double) of vanilla extract. i think i might put in extra vanilla from now on because it worked well.
it's a bit hot today. how hot? hot enough to do this:

the second (warped up) bottle was in the top of the recycle bin in the backyard. i'm sure our backyard was hotter than the 39C temperature with all that heat and sun on our mostly paved yard and corrugated iron fences plus the lid over the recycle bin probably turns it into an oven but it's gotta be pretty warm to melt plastic (although they do use plant based materials in their packaging so maybe the plastic has a lower melting temperature than most plastic).
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Friday, December 11, 2009

gnawing


i pulled the dead lemon tree out of the garden the other evening-- it just kind of happened. i was working around it and bumped it with my hip and it seemed to move really easily so i just grabbed and gave it a bit of a pull and it was out (i had tufts of grass that were harder to get out than the tree was). i called zac out to show him what i did and he just asked "now what do we do with it?" i figured we'd just saw it into smaller lengths (with our little hand saw) and put it in the green bin. i called wombat over to show her and right away she started gnawing and continued on for probably almost 10 minutes (she slept well that nite). she was a happy girl with that stump. i was a little worried she might get splinters in her mouth from it but she seem ok and she had a good time. maybe i can teach her to gnaw around the middle parts to help chop it up.
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consumption and stuff

a couple weeks ago my work had a parent information nite with a great topic and a guest presenter that i have been to a couple of her workshops at conferences and really enjoyed them. i decided to go the the evening and it was really good. the topic was consumption (great topic for families going into the holiday season). part of the evening included the 20 minute video "the story of stuff"-- it's a great video that is worth the 20 minutes and you can either watch it on the website or download it for free)
one minute of the movie:

it was interesting what a lot of the parents had to say too (we had some group discussions afterwards).
just before i left home to go to the meeting zac came home saying he NEEDED some musical related thing (i can't remember what it was that nite because most of the time it changes every couple weeks). fortunately he doesn't go out and buy most of this stuff he says he needs but i did come home with this fact for him (from the video): in america (and i'm sure that australia is similar although probably a bit better) 99% of things bought are not used 6 months after purchasing and are just thrown away. just looking around our lounge room i can see several things that we haven't touched in months (and i don't even want to think about the stuff in the spare room). it's amazing how much stuff we've gained (especially since i moved from canada with only 2 large bags and have only brought over photo albums and a few other special items since then) even when we do try to be careful about what we buy.
i've even tried to be much better in what we give to others in gifts over the past year. i'm only buying books, fair trade toys (sold from local shops) and handmade clothing (either by me or local person) for children and we're trying to get more meaningful gifts for people (i.e. photo gifts). i'm also trying to buy a lot more from small local shops (and we have some great shops around the area).

muffins and mexican


earlier this week i made a batch of zucchini spelt muffins from eat, drink and be vegan. i love these muffins (i think i've made them 3 times this year and i almost never bake anything). the banana in them makes them really moist and sooooo good!
i've also finally started making fresh salsa. whenever we're in canada we eat a LOT of fresh salsa from the deli section of supermarkets (and we get it at every mexican place that has the option of fresh salsa). it's so good but i've never actually made it even though i knew it was pretty simple. i found the perfect recipe in vegan planet (tomatoes, shallots, garlic, lime juice, cilantro/coriander, salt, pepper and an optional chili). i don't think i can go back to the stuff in the jar now.
also mexican related- we went to the vegie bar last nite with a friend (and got SOAKED riding in just after the worst of the torrential downpour). i'm sure the burrito has almost halved in size in the last few years. it's still really good and i still get it pretty much every time we go. i think this may have been the first time i've got it since i went vegan and i did miss the sour cream a little (although i did have a very generous serving of guacamole which was nice). i wonder why they chose not to put any vegan cheese in the vegan option (it's all over the vegan supreme pizza so i'm sure they could put it in a burrito too). they also have a new system for seating people. they won't seat you until your whole party arrives (our friend was next door finishing a coffee he got while waiting for us) but they have a new bar area with a courtyard on the north side of the building. you can go over there for a drink and sit on nice comfy couches while you wait and when a table is available after your party is complete they come and get you. great idea when they're busy (which they always seem to be).
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

a few favourites

just a few of my favourite ornaments on the tree
my canada ball from my mom:
my julian apple (from the town in cali where me and zac met/worked for 18 months-- they were known for their apple pies from the local orchards):
our alaska bear from our 2005 very quick but fun road trip from vancouver to palmer, alaska and back to visit my friend from university):
montana moose from a christmas i spent in montana so i could attend my friend's wedding just after christmas (the same friend who now lives in alaska)
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Monday, November 30, 2009

daylesford and hepburn springs

somehow we managed to wait almost 2 years from our last trip to hepburn springs but we finally made it back again. it was a good weekend of relaxing, lots of good food and a couple good walks. we stayed at the continental house (the conti) where we've stayed a couple times before.
somehow i didn't end up taking any pictures of the food (even though my camera was at my feet most of the time).
friday nite we went to jasmine thai in hepburn springs. we'd been there once before and it was good. this time when we arrived the waitress was too busy to seat us but she gave us menus and told us to head to the middle room where there was a table for 2. we went in and there was a (loud) group of 8 filling most of the small room and then our table just next to them. when we looked at the menu we had a moment of panic because under the heading "vegetarian" it said "non-vegan". that wasn't there last time. i looked down further and it stated that any item with an asterisk could be made vegan on request (and there were several items that could be made vegan). service was a bit slow (i'm assuming someone or a couple people didn't show up to work or something because you could tell the waitress was running off her feet and she actually told a guy at the next table a few minutes after he ordered a coffee that no one could make the coffee for him right now so if he wants caffeine he should just get a coke). when we did get to order i got stir-fried veggies with cashews in a sweet chilli sauce and just as zac ordered the waitress (who was vegetarian) highly recommended we should get the crispy fried tofu that was on the specials menu. zac decided to go for it. it was a great choice-- best crispy tofu i've ever had. it came mixed with stir fried vegies in some sort of red (curry?) sauce. soooo good!
the next day we went for lunch at the himalaya bakery in daylesford and both got smoked tofu pies. the filling was tasty but a bit dry. when you eat the pie there (not take away) you get a nice chutney with it so that took away the driness (it also came with a nice side salad).
unfortunately the conti banquet was cancelled on saturday nite because just us and one other couple had signed up for it (all the other guests at the completely booked up conti were there for a wedding in town on saturday nite). we ended up getting the only vegan item on the menu at the electric sitar indian cafe (a chickpea and lentil dahl which was really nice and filling and perfect for a rainy evening).
we ended up back at the himalaya bakery for lunch on sunday. zac just got a piece of garlic fried bread for lunch (and then another smoked tofu pie to go as we were leaving). i had the himalaya open faced sandwich with white bean dip, tomatoes, avocado and roasted red capsicum (bell pepper)-- really nice.
we went for a walk saturday afternoon and got caught in a thunder storm (fortunately the lightning stopped when the storm got overtop of us) but i got a couple picutres when i didn't have to hide my camera under my waterproof jacket.



arty shot of one of the many mineral water taps in hepburn springs (i didn't intend to take the picutre so i moved the camera while the shutter was open):



sunday we walked around the lake.
a duck at the lake:


i don't think i've ever seen water flowing down here before because the lake has always been too low:


lilly pads:
views on the ride home from a moving vehicle:





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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

made my evening

our dog is wondering why i keep laughing while a look at the computer screen. if only she could understand pictures.....

more at faildogs
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

cuteness


she looks so sad. she's not as sad as she looks though-- she's in begging position (lying near zac's feet while he eats) and watching as he's lowering the last peanut down for her to eat.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

comfortable

the cool change has arrived!!it came with a few rumbles of thunder in the middle of rest time at work (for the kids, not us-- although i had a relaxing time today at rest time once the few sleepers dozed off and the others were settled quietly listening to a story on tape). now it's a nice comfortable 25C (instead of the 37C it was at lunch time) and drizzling lightly (it'd be good if this change brought a nice downpour of rain to wet hot, dry gardens). i've had a friday afternoon margarita and the house has cooled to a reasonable temp. i'm happy.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

29.9

i think the temperature forgot to go down overnite (closeup below)
i did not sleep much. big cup of coffee next to me. it's gonna be a looooonnng day (the high for today is 34 or 36 C--we're pretty much there already and it's not even 7:30)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

lots of food

we've had some good meals and snacks the last couple days. unfortunately i never have my camera on me so there's no photos. friday nite we ended up eating at the east brunswick club on the way home from drinks with zac's workmates. i got the philly cheese steak and i was impressed. zac had the fish and chips. i had one bite and it was good but i think i was mostly tasting tartar sauce. zac was a little worried it was actual fish (i think he's forgotten what fish tastes/looks like) but he said it was good. last nite we went to mr. natural pizza on the way home. we've been talking about trying that place since we lived on brunswick st. when i first moved here. until yesterday we'd never done it. we got the vegan-ized bezalya pizza- potato, olives, onion, capsicum (bell pepper), roasted pumpkin, tomato, parsley, lots of herbs and spices, some chilli and lots of cheezly. sounds like a big mix of flavours but they went really well together. we decided we'd go have a picnic in the park. unfortunately the cool change had hit a couple hours earlier and it was kind of cold sitting in the grass in a singlet (tank top) at dusk (when i looked up yesterday evenings temperatures it was about 18C but it felt pretty cool after the weather we've had lately). the pizza was really nice though-- we'll be getting that again (and we are in their delivery area so the 1 or 2 times a year that we order pizza i think we might have to go with them).
we've had some good snacks too. we stopped by grumpy's green for a beer yesterday afternoon. they've redone their menu. there still doesn't seem to be much for the mains that's vegan (although i think they can make a few of the items vegan on request). i got one of the small snacks-- vine leaves. the first one i had was extremely salty (and i like my salt) but the others were good. zac had some flat bread with garlic oil/balsamic vinegar and salt to dip in. looked good (although plain as flat bread looks) but i didn't try it.
last nite zac made some popcorn for us. he does it in a large pot with a lot of oil on the bottom and usually a couple cloves of garlic (he can't get enough garlic). it's always very generously sprinkled with salt. i started sprinkling nutritional yeast on mine. soooo good (and it adds something nutritional to otherwise oily, salty corn). the nutritional yeast kind of tastes like "popcorn" salt i used to use in canada (a "butter flavoured" salt).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

almost a bit cold

today only got to 29C (and only for a short period of time). it was 23C when i rode home at lunch and back to work. it almost felt cool riding my bike(and it felt a little cool riding in this morning when it was only about 19C). a bit scary that 25C feels cool. i'm sure it's not gonna stay in the 30s all summer (we're in big trouble if it does). i've even had no problems sleeping the last 2 nites with the warmth (the first few nites weren't very good at all). i'm sure i'll freeze as soon as nites start going down to the low/mid teens again.
it's supposed to be back in the 30s the next couple days. fortunately i have tomorrow off (i'm really not liking the evapourative cooler in our room at work-- it cools nicely but i just feel sticky and my hair feels big and frizzy from the humidity it creates) but i have to go in on saturday to meet next year's kids (i think we'll be heading to the beach as soon as i'm done with that).

Monday, November 09, 2009

summer

i think summer has hit (almost a month early). it's been in the mid 30s for the past couple days and again tomorrow (and then 29-35 the rest of the week). its always a bit of a shock when the heat first arrives. i had some flexicar credit to use (some of it i won, the rest was compensation for our issues getting to my citizenship ceremony) so we decided to go to the beach for the day yesterday. we were thinking barwon heads but then we decided that maybe we could find somewhere a bit closer that we hadn't been before. we ended up going to point cook and altona. point cook was nice, i'd like to go back when it's not so hot (we tried to walk a trail near some "wetlands" but the sun felt like it was burning right through our skin). we went to the beach there briefly but there were a lot of annoying children/pre-teens that were with a large picnic group so we decided to see what altona beach is like. it was very busy with the hot weather but the water looked much cleaner than st. kilda. there were lots of large tidepools with warm water too. we may have to go back again (and try stafan's pizza which is very vegan friendly and apparently worth the trip to altona).
birds at point cook:

tree at point cook: view of the city from point cook: i was a bit worried how wombat would go with her change of routine today. this week is the first week it is definitely way too hot to walk her after work. her normal routine involves me coming home, ignoring her for several minutes then a few minutes after i say hello to her and give her belly rubs and pats we go for a walk. if i try to wait to long she starts asking and then demanding a walk. i think she realizes a walk would not be fun right now. she's settled herself by the front door just sleeping and watching the world go by. she hasn't asked or hinted that she would like to go even once.
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