Saturday, 12 May 2018

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

This is one of those super simple recipes.

With only 5 ingredients, it takes just a bit of chopping and then a simmer on the stove.

It is also incredibly flexible so if the recipe looks vague, it is because it is and it doesn't matter. Adjust the recipe to suit your own taste and what you have on hand.


1.5 tablespoons Thai red curry paste- Alter the quantity to suit yourself. This amount gives just a gentle kick.
2 medium gold sweet potatoes. These 2 weighed 1.3kg -  I like the gold ones because of their taste and they are always available and usually cheap. Also easy to grow. 
1 onion- brown or white
1/2 cup coconut milk- This will give a subtle coconut flavour but can be substituted with cream or yogurt.
1 cup water- I like my soup so thick that the spoon almost stands up in it. Add as much as you want to make it as thin as you want
Pepper, herbs to garnish- I used cracked black pepper and continental parsley for this batch. This parsley is the only herb growing well in my garden at the moment so I used it.

1. Heat curry paste in large saucepan on medium heat until it becomes aromatic
2. Add onion and fry for a couple of minutes 
3. Chop sweet potato and add to pan
4. Add water and cook until sweet potato is tender
5. Turn stove off
6. Add coconut milk
7. Blend using stick mixer or blender
8. Add more water if too thick
9. Ladle into a bowl and garnish as desired
10. Serve with buttered toast. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

Gluten-free Peanut Slice

This recipe re-emerged when I gave an old recipe book to Catherine. The day after I gave it to her she presented me with an envelope of hand written recipes that had been lost within the pages of the book. I had forgotten all about this incredibly simple, gluten-free delight.

Here is the recipe for the peanut base. It can be topped with any sort of chocolate topping that you want. A thin layer of melted chocolate or a frosting would be great. I have included a link below for a simple and old fashioned icing made with cocoa. This is a good one if you want the icing to set so the slice can be cut and packed in layers in a plastic pot for travel. 


375g raw peanuts     
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (white or raw)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Mince peanuts in food processor
2. Add baking powder and whiz to mix in
3. Beat eggs until thick and creamy
4. Mix in sugar and beat again
5. Combine egg mix and peanuts
6. Line base of brownie or slice tin (27cm x 17.5cm x 3cm) with baking paper
7.Spread mix in tin. Smooth surface

8. Bake at 180celsius for 35 minutes 

9. Take care not to overcook as it can easily become dry and hard to cut.  
10. Ice while still warm in tin
11. Once cool, tip out of tin and cut
12. Store in an airtight container. 

Click here for a Simple chocolate icing recipe.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Modern DIY Garden Sculpture

I like garden art but not the sort that I used to see out of the Vauxhaull window when I was a child. Concrete gnomes and tyre swans are not for me. Neither are grecian ladies with urns or little boys relieving themselves in a pond. 

My style is much more ecletic. I also was born with the "diy" gene so I spend hours pouring over others ideas trying to convince myself that I too can make them with my very limited skills. But I have to be optimistic and have had some success in the garden art department. I have always had  passion for Japanese lanterns; the stone variety, not the paper ones. When we decided to build a Japanese lantern at our current property I had to have a lantern. Australia is not very much into this so purchasing one proved to be not only very costly but almost impossible. So I made one out of concrete. 

Once we had worked out the shape and containers it was a simple job. Inside the light box is a lamp which is wired into the string of garden lights that runs the length of the garden. 
The question is, should we dig this up and take it with us or make another one? 

I am collecting ideas for garden art that I will be able to make myself. To be included in the list, they have to have most of the following criteria:

  • simplicity
  • 'gentle' in the landscape
  • a bit quirky
  • easy to make. 

This simple sculpture from Sprawlstainable adds height, colour and also provides illumination at night. The instructions make it look easy. 
The spikes are made out of pvc piping which have some bend in them when they are long. 

The use of metal piping would provide greater sculpture capability. Copper is an expensive metal to use but has a quality about it that it irresistible. 

This copper coil from Suzy Homefaker shows just how much potential there is with copper. 

This Raintree Sprinkler is divine. It isn't however for us. Care to conserve water will be required and this tree is not very appropriate. A large proportion of the water would be blown away in the breeze as it is a long distance from the ground. 

In keeping with the metal theme, these  tubes would create some height in a new garden. They are simple and show off the unique succulents beautifully. What a lovely metal garden edge they would create. 


I love 'round.' It avoids the need for sharp and accurate corners. These concrete spheres create simplicity and a feeling of tranquillity. The garden glove has instructions for these and many other spherical garden features. 

Here is another quirky way to present succulents and add height with these concrete spheres on stilts.
A mystical glow is created with these hollow gold candle holders

Terracotta pots are fabulous. Cheap and cheerful, they can become much more than a single potted marigold. The instructions for this dome and a sphere are on iCreative Ideas
I love the simplicity of this couple that I found on ARCHITECTUREHD.
If I am to have a birdbath this is what I would like. Made by the very talented  Toni Armeni 

 Need a bit of quirk? These tin can owls are simple to make and are a creative way to use up pet food tins and containers that usually go to waste. Anyone could make these. 

 Everyone needs somewhere to sit in their garden and take in the view. Instructions are hardly needed for this concrete block and timber bench.
This ostrich, created by John Doll is almost 2 metres tall. 
I love scrapyard animals. The pieces used create a personality. Here are a couple of birds made out of shovels, reo and other left overs. 
All I need to do now is decide which one to make first. 

Saturday, 28 April 2018

We have broken ground!

We are off and digging! What more could we ask for. There is a sign, a portaloo and a water tank full of water. 

Here is a bunch of photos and a video so you can watch the build with us and give us lots of ideas about landscaping. 

Majestic piles of dirt perfectly frame the portaloo. 

It was a glorious Autumn day which shows off the portaloo nicely.

View from the top of the driveway. It curves to the right as it descends down the hill.

Dirt, glorious dirt! 

The view is amazing. 

My mind is in overload with landscaping questions. The block is naked so I have free reign. Well not exactly. John has a fear of gum trees crashing through the roof and fruit trees that are too large to harvest. I will collect some ideas for trees and ask you all for your opinions. 

Progress report coming again in a couple of weeks. Please follow my blog so you don't miss an episode. 

Trust me, I am not doing the earthworks. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

Colour selection for a new home

We have been "working" on this house build for many months now but alas, no start date as yet. The weather in south-east Queensland has been particularly unfriendly this week that little would have been done on the build even if construction was underway. 

The decisions have all been made so we can relax a bit and just wait. 

Here are some of the colour choices we have made.

Roof. Our current home has a black roof. It looks fabulous but I have always been a bit suspicious that it doesn't help the house stay cool in the summer so it's a "no" for our new roof. I wanted a colour that will blend into the landscape and there will be a lot of roof visible from the road so why not go green? Green roofs seem so out of date so it's also a "no" to green. When there has been little rain for weeks the block looks more like a sandy green so after much discussion, internet looking and samples arriving in the mail, we have settled on COLORBOND Surfmist ®. This will also be the colour of the rendered external walls.

According to the Colorbond website, Surfmist "embodies qualities of freshness, purity, timelessness and independency. Snow, the mist from the sea and surf, pure white sand, and the billowing sails of yachts all remind us of this colour." Yes OK, today I am going with snow.
Gutters. We wanted a contrasting colour to create lines and liked the idea of black so COLORBOND Monument®
it is. A "strong, confident colour that is unashamedly a city colour." Yes, very sheike. As you can see by the photo, a whole roof would look brilliant and also feel brilliant if living in a southern state or close to the arctic circle.  

John and I love timber. It's look, feel and smell. We will have big wooden pillars on the porch and verandah posts. There is something about timber that is raw and natural yet defined. 

We are also practical. Our current home has a floating wooden floor. Looks great but we continually worry about the scratches. It also gets mopped with steaming, soapy water. Something that should never be done as it opens the pores, just like a steam room. 

The tiles we have chosen for the hall, dining, lounge and kitchen are timber look. Is this cheating? Um, maybe but they are also beautiful.

I have taken a photo from National Tiles to demonstrate just how beautiful timber look tiles can be. The photo does not do them justice, but this is Nordic Latte, our chosen colour. 

There is not much more to say about colour. The rest of the house will be the modern, 'on trend' colours of nothing really. Off-white, black benchtops, white cabinetry, black bathroom floor tiles. 

Let's hope next week is a bit more interesting than this week has been in house building world. 

Remember to follow my blog if you want to be alerted when something interesting happens. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Patience is a necessity when building a house

This fortnight has been frustrating in the house building department.

  • We have been patiently waiting for information from various sources but information is dribbling in slowly.
  • We are patiently waiting for a date for the building to start.
  • We are patiently waiting for the water connection so there can no longer be anything holding things up.
  • We have been slowly sorting through 'stuff' at home trying to make decisions while we patiently wait for the next steps.
I have revised my "let's move in during the winter," to "let's aim to have Christmas here this year." I have been advised not to be a pessimist so I will be very excited to move in during cool weather with plenty of time to be settled before Christmas. Note, specific date or even month not documented. 

All in all, not a lot of progress so let's skip to the fun part and start planning the landscaping.
Frangipani Tricolor
When we first bought the land I envisioned a short driveway to the garage and path to the front door. Ahhhh, no that's won't be it. The driveway is more than 30m long and the house is halfway down the block. 

My original plan was to landscape the block in front of the garden fully with garden beds overflowing with large shrubs, ground covers and the odd small tree. The back of the block is for fruit trees, shed, chook house and a vegetable garden. 

So why change course now? 
  • Because the front yard is HUGE and will require many, many more plants and a lot fitter version of Anne to keep up with the maintenance? Yes and yes.
  • Because I can't picture how it will all look in the end? Yes.
  • Because I am concerned about drainage and the possibility of all the plants sliding down the hill in one of the many vicious thunderstorms that form over Hoya? Yes.
  • Hibiscus Aussie Pearl

After lots of thoughts and lack of confidence in my ability and persistence to create something I am truly proud of and enjoy that won't look like a dug up, neglected sheep paddock, I have decided I will be sticking to the plan so let's crack on with it. 

This has given me an excuse to start collecting plants right now. So I have. 
Donkey's Ears

The garden will have the theme of "Australian Cottage," and no, you won't find it in a book. My vision is for the gardens and landscape to look well filled and a bit messy with colour sprinkled throughout. A mix of natives and exotics. This will be fun because they don't always play well together. 

I have put photos into this post of some of the plants that I have already collected for the front gardens of our Home in Hoya. Our current home is  starting to look like a nursery but I can't resist plants. 

Watercolour Rose

I bought 3 Watercolour roses from the clearance trolley at Bunnings. They were scraggly and  bit yellow but I couldn't resist. A month later after some food and plenty of water, all 3 look brilliant. My vision for this is to planted together in a row along the side of the driveway.

Plumeria Pudica

Plumeria Pudica has beautiful and long lasting brilliant white flowers. The leaves are also a weird club shape. The plants themselves are bare at the bottom so I plan to plant these in the centre of a garden bed with low shrubs to cover the lower parts of the plant. I have only 1 of these but should be able to grow more from cuttings. 

Japanese Black Pine

Japanese Black Pine. I first saw one of these at the Mt. Coot-tha Botanical Gardens in the Japanese Garden and fell in love. They are elegant, angular and prickly all in one hit. They are also very slow growing and not easy to find. I have had this plant for a few years now and its growth has been slow. It will take pride of place near the front door. 

Frangipani Darwin Yellow

Frangipanis are back in fashion and come in an ever increasing range of colours.  I have bought a few but most are from cuttings that have fallen off trees that I have been able to access by fair means or foul. Darwin yellow has brilliant yellow flowers and a spicy fragrance that is different to other Frangis.

Hibiscus Citrus Mist

Hibiscus Citrus Mist is one of the range developed by aussie colours. Check out their range here:

John bought me 3 babies. They are not easy to get. 

I will post more photos of my growing plant collection as I acquire more plants and they are happy to be photographed. 

Now let's get started on building a house. 

Friday, 16 February 2018


People are fascinated by cults and I am one of those so this book took my eye at the library. But it was more than this. The front cover drew me in. A photo of a young lady walking along a jetty towards rippling blue water and beautifully framed by mountains in the distance.

The book presented with a casual style but I was quickly drawn into the word of Cassie, a young lady who departs with her boyfriend on the adventure of a lifetime. Relations between them are not and a disagreement sees them separated once they arrive in New Zealand. It was easy for Cassie to accept the offer of a lift from a group of smiling individuals in a beat up old van.
I have always found it difficult to believe that people get sucked into a cult but this book gave me the realization that it could and does happen. The cult members treated her very well while at the same time ensuring that the outside world appears hostile and that individuality is not required or accepted.
The feelings of despair and determination that her parents must have been feeling are palpable and ultimately it is her father’s pending early death that opens a window wide enough for Cassie to squeeze through and go back to her family.

This is a story about belief in family, faith and loss. They are on every page. It is a book that is difficult to put down.

I borrowed image of the book cover from where the book currently has a star rating of 3.7/5. Check out the site.
The other beautiful photos have been labelled as free for reuse on google.