Friday, May 21, 2010

WELCOME MUM!... and secret someone...

It's been a while... I've been busy trying to get work done (with a super duper slow remote connection..ragh!) amongst getting the apartment ready for my mum's arrival today, washing loads of laundry, grocery planning & shopping, getting the oil changed on the car & getting it inspected, painting things, cleaning, organizing, cooking..etc.. how can I be so busy? I don't even have children yet...don't want to think about it!
It's been non-stop! Here are a couple of the projects I was working on, they were fun although last minute and a little rushed. 

Two shelves a friend let me borrow, I painted and put up all by myself :) need to add some books to them..

Wooden coffee table I spray painted this nice leafy green colour to match the flowerpot & also a framed picture in the dining area. I chose thyme, mint & a white flower to put in the pot but need to pot them properly today. I'm taking those fake flowers in the big vase back to Walmart and just going to use some foliage from outside.

Last night we had a nice meal I suppose because it's our last alone for the next 3 weeks.
We had roast sweet potato with a garlic, ginger & honey marinade, juicy green beans topped with crispy salty pancetta pieces and a deliciously seasoned chicken breast topped with a pesto sauce & parmegianno-reggiano cheese. Very tasty! oh and I also made up a refreshing lemon, ginger, honey & mint cooler.

I wish I had photo's of the fried nutella filled pastries I made the other night on a whim.. they were to die for! dusted with powdered sugar.. yum! I will be posting a couple of recipes soon that a friend requested. One is for a mushroom & thyme risotto and the other is for a cool & sweet strawberry salad with sugared almonds and a lemon poppy seed dressing. I bet there is going to be lots of yummy cooking going on with my Mum in town..

oh and I think I may be getting another secret visitor or two... :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Big Weekend...

This past weekend was perhaps one of the best, if not the best weekend I've had since living here in Lumberton. We had a good night Friday. We dressed up and went out to dinner with Marshall's Dad. I ate fried crawfish tails - very tasty, but not something I'd order often because of all the oil! We met with our friends and attended the play at the Port Arthur Little Theatre. The play was 3 hours long, a little miserable however it was a great night out. I enjoy the experience of going to a play, musical or the ballet much more than seeing a movie.
I took a lot of photo's this weekend so I figure I'll let them do the rest of the talking and just post a couple of captions.

So, first off Saturday morning we ran some errands regarding Marshall's visa application then it was off to the Mediterranean Festival! 
You can tell in this picture that I am happy to be there - it's a real smile!! The whole place smelt wonderfully delicious and comforting. It brought memories of my Greek great grandmother to mind and the delicious treats she would make us. There were also some middle eastern smells that made me reminisce about the few months I spent working in an Indian restaurant - the Curry Hit! yum!

Very tasty dolmades, basically just some meat and rice seasoned and rolled up in grapevine leaves with a bit of lemon juice. They are scrumptious!

Marshall enjoying his beef kebab..
Then we went to visit Marshall's Uncle in Vidor and took a ride on a moped. It was amazing... such a beautiful afternoon, a perfect day, a cool breeze, sunshine. Happiness :) 

fun on the moped!!! I really want one!

In the evening we relaxed with some lemon tart (recipe to follow), blood orange soda and a movie - we drag our mattress into the lounge room and sleep there, it's my favourite thing :)

Lemon Tart recipe from book 'Luscious Lemon Desserts
The 'You Could Be In Paris' Lemon Tart

serves 10 

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pinches of salt
6 large eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Stir in one tablespoon of the lemon zest and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl or your food processor. Pour the butter into the bowl in a fine stream, mixing with a fork until well blended and it holds together when pinched. If using a food processor, blend the ingredients and then pour the butter into the feed tube and blend for roughly a minute.

Empty the mixture into an 11" tart pan with a removable bottom and press it with your fingertips to evenly line the sides and bottom.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until it is a light golden brown. Allow the crust to cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

Process the remaining one cup of sugar with the remaining one tablespoon of lemon zest in your food processor for about 2-3 minutes, until the zest is finely ground.

Pour the sugar into a bowl and add the eggs, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth.

Beat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to soft peaks and then whisk the cream into the sugar/egg mixture until just blended. Pour this mixture into your still warm crust and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center.

Allow the tart to cool completely.

Just before serving, dust generously with powdered sugar, cut into wedges and enjoy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dressing UP!

19th April 1926: Two Parisian women dressed for the theatre in simple outfits with detailed decoration. (Photo by Seeberger Freres/General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

I will be attending a play tonight, Frankenstein, at the Little Theatre in Port Arthur, TX. Marshall told me that Frankenstein is one of the best books, if not his favourite, that he's ever read. Like most women I imagine, I began pondering on what to wear to the play hours before hand... do I wear a dress and heels? That is what I think would be most appropriate. However, we are going with another couple and what if they dress casual,jeans perhaps.. then I would feel kind of over dressed.. What if Marshall doesn't want to dress up? Shall I just wear jeans too? Hmm... this started my thinking about how much society's dress standards have dropped over the centuries. I'm referring to the dress standards I suppose in Australia, the US & Europe.. just what I've seen.

I believe we are suffering from a gradual disappearance or terminal lack of etiquette, in the way we dress, interact with people, table etiquette, speech and just general good manners. We have become lazy, disrespectful of others and especially ourselves. I think having respect should start with oneself. I believe we need to have integrity & respect for ourself in the way we dress, speak and act and then in how we treat others. I specifically want to direct this blog post toward the way people dress and present themselves these days.

Take a look at that picture above taken in the mid 1920's when women dressed up to go to the theatre. They were modest, not excessively showy but elegant and although their hair is neatly tucked under their hats I imagine they had their hair combed or tucked into pin curls. A friend and I went to the cinema's sometime last year and whilst waiting in line I was deeply disturbed and offended by the dress of some of those waiting in line with us. Teenagers were barefoot, clothing was sloppy and hair was all over the place. In fact.. what alarms me most is seeing young girls & boys purposely messing up their hair so it looks as though they just got out of bed because it is the "in thing" right now. I recently read an article written by a lady named Joan Collins. She wrote "we have all turned into putative slobs, spending our days in baggy tracksuits and T-shirts. I think standards have slipped," she says, "If they continue slipping, we'll all be walking around barefoot with a minimum of clothes, and lots of tattoos and piercings."
Well, can she be any more correct? People have become sloppy in their grooming and in themselves. They're more interested in being on the internet for hours, in texting, emailing and watching t.v. Literally spending hours inside, not dressing up for anything and when it comes time to go out to eat or go to the store or even to the movies with friends people will just stay in their sloppy attire. I have even seen people go to wedding receptions in jeans or shorts!!! shorts??! We are all so busy our clothes have changed to reflect this. Gone are the days when women would dress up for their husbands of an evening, or where men would wear pants that actually fit them & not hung around their knees or were so incredibly tight they might burst something... how uncomfortable. A skirt & a blouse and a little makeup seem too much effort for most women these days. Sometimes it is tricky to be glamorous, even exhausting! Especially when the norm is, quote "At the school gates, the "slummy mummy" uniform of jeans, trainers and no make-up. Anything beyond that is viewed with suspicion."

The fashion styles of today don't help this crisis. People don't know how to dress anymore & don't know what to wear for their body type. I have seen far too many very overweight women & girls in too tight, too revealing clothing that it is very unattractive. Not comely or tidy in any way. Plain ugly and indecent. Magazines, t.v, fashion designers are pushing this grungy look of not caring. Women are lost. Men and women, boys & girls are just following along with the dress-down or dress-less attitude of the world right now. I see so many boys with pants around their ankles, the crutch between their knees and girls with skirts or dresses so short if they bent over you'd see their....! Short skirts and ugg boots, tank tops with underwear showing, men dressing like women and women dressing like men. It is atrocious! 

I must say, I have many friends who dress well and some who could dress better :) including myself. I think there has been a shift from dressing to impress men, to dressing to impress other women. Fashion plays a big part. So much so that it just about dictates what is sold in clothing stores everywhere and leaves very little option for people like myself who do not want to follow the crowd. I think a good question to ask is, 'who am I dressing for?' I believe that true beauty or glamour comes from within. It is not about what you wear. Quote ""If I put on high heels, I immediately feel fabulous. I don't think that it's particularly glamorous to appear as if you have spent three days putting on your make-up. Some pared-down jeans, a simple shirt and trainers is, to me, a perfectly good look that takes little effort. Women who criticise other women for not wearing glamorous enough clothes are not celebrating women for what they are. That's not good in my book."

I can relate to this comment. Looking good can make a woman feel better but I don't believe we have to wear what the fashion guru's say we should. I think taking pride in the way you look, not being vain but making an effort to dress-up can boost self esteem. I believe many women lack confidence and have lost their "glamour" or inner beauty because they want to be like something or someone else. They want equality, they want to keep up with the trends, or they can't afford to and make no effort at all and resolve to wearing ugly jeans and baggy shirts the rest of their lives. 

Making an effort to look your best says that you're worth taking the time to be the best you can be. It says you care about yourself, about hygiene & cleanliness and about your influence on others. It doesn't have to be expensive, in fact, it shouldn't be. It does take a little time, a little self-discipline. But I truly believe that with a little bit of effort to take pride in the way we dress and to do so appropriately (appropriately being the key word here) that we can feel better about ourselves and perhaps even lift the standards of those around us. 

I would like to include this, the 13th Article of Faith written by Joseph Smith. "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

I seek after these things that are virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy. I seek to be the kind of person described in this statement. I seek to stand out from the crowd and endure whatever it is I have to endure whilst in this world and not succumb to the evil or trendy influences that are so prominent & distracting today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

new beginnings....

Well... here is just another example of my bad habit - not completing or following through on something I start... unless it's food.
It's been a while... Spring has sprung and appropriately I've attached a picture of the beautiful bouquet of flowers I picked from a traffic island in the middle of the road last week. I drive by them each morning I drop Marshall at school and think to myself 'gee they would make a lovely bouquet.. free too..'.... so, last week as I was leaving after I had surprised Marshall during his lunch break with balloons & a bag of goodies - for our "UN-anniversary"... it was about 1pm & there very few cars around. I pulled over and ran across into the middle of the island and bent down to pick the flowers trying very hard to look like I was just.. well, smelling the flowers. I'm pretty sure it was illegal... maybe.. I don't know.. I'm a foreigner and there was no sign. hehe.... I am amazed at the many different kinds of flowers all growing amongst each other. I tried to get some of every kind, but there were just too many! All different kinds and brilliantly coloured. So here they are...

I attended my first book club last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, now I wish I had joined in earlier! Last night was held at Stephanie's home and there were 5 of us. It was a lovely time. She served some delicious treats, lemon madelines, blood orange soda and a platter of strawberries & grapes. Yum! I think I counted I ate about.. 7 madelines - I had been craving sugar it seems. 

We each shared words and thoughts about our chosen books - this month we had the option to read a biography of our choice. I kind of decided to join at the last minute so  I wasn't very prepared but had read the book 'How to be like Women of Influence' last year and it was fantastic. It is full of 20 short biographies of some of the most amazing women ever. It is educational, engaging, uplifting and inspiring! I can't wait to read it again as I think I had only read about half way through when I had to return it to it's owner. So now I have a renewed interest in reading.. I like to read and when I do I can't put a book down til I've finished it. I normally finish a book in about 2 to 3 days. I just don't read as often as I'd like because I'm indecisive as to what to read and there are SO MANY good books I become overwhelmed and don't know where to start, so I don't. I think being apart of this book club will give me a little bit of encouragement and really the motivation and will to read. I'm excited! I just recently finished 'The Lovely Bones' and then watched the film. As always, the book was better. It is pretty sad & depressing though so I don't know that I would really recommend it. But it's different, it's original and overall I did like it. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and almost in tears at other times. It was a quick read and now I'm on to 'Trail of Crumbs' by Kim Sunee. I'll start it tonight. I stayed quite late at Stephanie's and little did I know my husband was anxiously waiting for me to hurry home. I arrived home close to 10pm to find him eager to greet me and I was very pleasantly surprised, actually extremely grateful to him as he had spent the time cleaning the house. The dinner was put away, lunch was packed, kitchen perfectly clean, clothes put away AND he had walked to walmart to get us a dvd & pulled out our heavy mattress into the lounge-room to watch it :) not to mention the 2 brownies waiting on a plate for me... after all those madelines I don't know how I fit them in, but I did :)

Now today hasn't been especially productive for me as I'm really struggling to work from home. I am finding it extremely difficult to do and very little gets done. I hate Wednesday's because Marshall has a night class he attends after work and I don't have the car and don't get to see him til about 9:30pm. It is a looooong day. I have been investigating various courses of study I'd like to take though and I think that has been productive. I definitely know better now than I did 5yrs ago about what I wanted to pursue. I've almost narrowed it down. 
Well, it's 4.30pm.. time to get out of my p.j's I think, drink up this blueberry smoothie I just made and take a walk outside before it gets too dark. YAY for free HUGE bags of frozen blueberries free from Relief from a sister's brother's blueberry farm... FREE! :) 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 2.

Wow... Just spent 4hrs on my header. yep. 4 loooong hours... but I must admit I am pretty proud of it :) I bet I could have done it in 30mins if I weren't so indecisive. 
Now that all that time is spent I have about an hour before I need to get ready to go to my good friend Meredith's house for lunch. Thanks Mer! :)

I am achieving my daily goals thus far (only been 2 days) .. yesterday as Marshall and I were driving home from Beaumont a car in front of us stopped at the traffic lights and didn't move when the light went green. I could tell Marshall was a little agitated, we drove up beside the car to go around it but by that time the light had turned red so we weren't going anywhere. I rolled down the window and asked the young guy sitting in the drivers seat 'what's wrong?' to which he replied 'something is wrong with the transmission, it won't go into first gear'. People behind him were honking their horns since he couldn't find the button to turn his hazard lights on. I suggested we help him, so we parked our car at the nearby servo, (petrol or service station as we refer to them in Australia) or gas station.. then proceeded to help push his car off the busy road. Lucky there was a Mr Transmission about 2 blocks away. Marshall was pushing from the passenger seat door, I was pushing the boot (trunk), on 105 in Beaumont.. in nice jeans, my clean white and baby blue blouse and sandals, that are not quite heels but more like a wedge... :) I found it amusing and exciting. So I was able to check off my goal of service that day. Not to mention the babysitting I had done all day... which led me to completely fail one of my goals. I had been doing pretty good staying away from sweets, candy, desserts of late but I took a step backwards yesterday. I drove to Vidor to babysit for a friend. I was watching 3 cute little girls, aged about 1 & 1/2, 3 & 5. I asked them if they would like some cereal for breakfast and they each declined, well not the little one. I then went to the fridge and pantry to see what else there was to offer them, you know.. maybe toast, oatmeal, fruit, eggs. Much to my dismay, in fact I was utterly hurt by what I saw since this past week I have watched 2 documentaries about food and health etc... the pantry was FULL.. and I mean, full to where you could not even see the shelves... everything was stacked and piled and shoved in there. Packets of chips, a huge bowl of candy, donuts, little debbie cakes of multiple sorts.. I could go on and on. I don't know if I believe in 'moderation in all things' however this pantry contained waaaaayyyy beyond what I would think is a moderate amount of sugary, fatty foods lacking in any nutritional value. I shut the door. Went back to the fridge and gave them all lil' cuties - you know those little tangerines or mandarins.. whatever you call them. For lunch it was macaroni & cheese.. quick, easy - even I enjoy it from time to time (homemade though) and I include some chicken & broccoli so I feel like I'm eating something slightly better than just refined, bleached flour and cheesy, buttery fat sauce. Seriously.. what is that packet of yellow powder even made from that comes with store bought mac & cheese? It tastes pretty good.. but WHAT IS IT? sigh... well their Mum called during the day to check up and invited me to eat whatever I liked in the pantry even the chocolate from her jar up high... and I did. I am a sucker for chocolate. I probably had about 6 or 7 pieces of dove or giardelli chocolate. yep, I indulged.. and now I have to start over again - NO SUGAR!

Something else I realised yesterday - I have a lot of respect and admiration for that mother, still do. I nannied for her for about 6 months last year. I was able to see her interact with her children and she was like a Saint.. never ever became impatient or angry. Never yelled, was continually loving, really Christlike. If her messy 2yr old poured the entire bottle of liquid washing detergent over her naked self it wasn't a big deal. She just laughed and cleaned her up. Her youngest was a terribly messy eater, smooshing her food, sandwiches and bananas all over the table, with her hands and feet... but this mother remained calm and would just clean up later. Basically I thought she was 'Super Mum', perfect. She didn't just let her kids do anything either, like get away with misbehaving etc, she would discipline them but it was always with sooo much love and patience. 
Okay, the point is I thought she was perfect, super mum - and I still do admire her loving, gentle nature... but the truth is no one is perfect and you should never ever compare yourself to others or feel like you have to reach some bar set by someone else... because you may not know it, in fact you may never know where they fall short. Where they aren't perfect, but just human. I can't judge or condemn this mother for sometimes feeding her children things I'd never dream of giving my kids, because we're all different and we all grew up differently and were shaped and affected by our own upbringings and have varying attitudes, values & beliefs. I'm grateful for mine, I'm grateful for my mother and grandmothers and the wealth of knowledge they've passed down to me and the wonderful examples they are. Here is a great book I read sometime last year.
It is called 'How to be Like Women of Influence' - if you can get your hands on a copy, do so. You won't regret it. It was one of the most incredible, encouraging, empowering, motivating books I ever read. I have so much respect and admiration for the women in this book and the amazing lives they lived and examples they were. READ IT!

I'd hesitated in beginning a blog because I'd felt like I wouldn't have anything to write about however, I think with "followers" it will encourage me to get something on here each day, even if it's short, and enhance my writing capabilities slowly but surely. Plus I've had plenty of ideas over the past 24hrs for various blog posts.
I have recently watched some great documentaries, or 'doco's' as we Aussies refer to them in our slang... So I have some ideas for following posts. Stay tuned for... 

1. My thoughts on documentaries, 'Killer at Large - Why Obesity is America's Greatest Threat, 'Food Inc.' and 'The Business of Being Born'.
2. Surviving.. err i mean, Living in Lumberton TX
3. newlywed ramblings...
4. some delicious and nutritious recipes!
5. My thoughts on parenting - I am not a parent yet, but I have had plenty of experience nannying and learning from other mothers things that I would or would not like to implement when I am a parent, I would love comments/discussion from all you wise women out there especially regarding discipline.. I'd like to learn as much as I can before I start popping em out!
6. my progress with sewing.... eeek!

thanks for visiting!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The beginning...

13 Goals for 2010

1. Wean myself off foods high in refined sugar
2. Try hard not to feel jealous/envious of others and be more grateful for my many blessings
3. Read/study the scriptures and pray daily
4. Avoid R rated movies and disgraceful television shows
5. Listen to music that uplifts my soul, is edifying not degrading nor grim
6. Read a good book each month
7. Start & keep a blog/journal
8. Try not to criticize myself or others harshly, unfavourably. To not condemn, blame or find fault.
9. Teach myself to sew
10. Love my husband more
11. Exercise daily, even if it's just a 30min walk
12. A daily act of service or kind gesture, kind words or compliment to someone
13. Smile more :)

There are many more goals I have for myself for the short and long term however I choose to list these things that I can work on daily that I feel will help me live a happier, more spiritual and healthy life and also help me to feel more cheerful, grateful and full of love. 

More to come as I slowly become familiar with the world of blogging. 

 <3 Tahlia.