Saturday, 19 June 2021

Fire appreciation!

I invited friends to enjoy a fire appreciation evening a few weeks back, which sparked (hah!) the purchase of a new fire pit - cos ours had rusted through (after nearly three years of excellent service).  The replacement was a $50.00 Facebook marketplace find, with a welded safety edge and legs.  How good is that?

We still had plenty of firelighters and wood from our Byron Bay weekend, as well as some old furniture pieces from a recent clean-up.  We dined on BBQ-ed sausages, corn on the cob, "space potatoes" (baked in foil) and a lovely salad made by our guests.

Nick and I achieved our 700th geocaching find during the week, so dessert was a celebratory cake (in fire theme) - after some giant marshmallow toasting.  Once all the cooking was done, we added magic flame packs to the fire and admired all the pretty colours.

We had giant sparklers as a finale but Mr Dog was very weird with those - and seemed to think he needed to protect everyone.  (Well, I assume all the barking and dashing about was due to alarm.  He was definitely excited and not in a good way, so we put the pack away again)!  

It was a great night and really enjoyed sharing it with friends.  Now that the weather is cooler, there may be opportunity for another evening under the stars in the not-too-distant future.  We might even drag the camper trailer out for some backyard camping - maybe!

I found lots of cake inspiration by googling "free printable campfire cupcake toppers".  After all the browsing I decided on one larger cake, dusted with icing sugar "ash". I used a mix of lollies and biscuits for the fire. The coals were orange, red and brown smarties as well as raspberry jelly sweets.  The firewood was Arnott's TeeVee Snacks Malt Sticks and some thinner chocolate Pocky sticks.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Exhibition rocks!

Even though the focus of our recent Canberra trip was to visit the Botticelli to Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery (!), we were also approaching 700 geocaching finds and wanted to increase our tally while away.

There were caches quite close to our accommodation but this site seemed more interesting and we set off to find it.  


The information at the site described William Branwhite Clarke as the father of Australian geology.  His research formed the basis of the first geological map of New South Wales, published in 1880.  (We'd visited the National Library the previous day and wondered whether some of his maps may have been held there).  

From the creek we walked along the Majura Cycleway, a lot further than we intended - and we were very pleased an Uber driver responded to our pick-up request, quite near the Australian Federal Police training centre.  It was mid-afternoon by the time we made it back to our room (after stopping at a shopping centre for late lunch) and we needed a nap before our evening attendance at the Van Gogh exhibition!  (By the end of the day we'd walked more than 10km and a radox bath was greatly appreciated).

I've done a bit more research about Woolshed Creek since returning home.  I found this article.  We actually drove past the shale/sandstone uncomformity en route to the National Gallery!

Monday, 31 May 2021

Magic time away ...

We packed some of my fancy firelighters, a box of kindling and a couple of bags of firewood for our Byron Bay trip.  

There was a firepit on site, which we really appreciated!  

Nick was in charge of lighting the fire and gave my firelighters a great review.  (He lit them from both ends). 

As you can see the colour-changing flame powder was an excellent inclusion and made for superb fire gazing! We have used this or a similar product previously but these packs were extra magical - lots of colours, which continued for ages.  We were very impressed!

My initial plan had been to stay in Lismore because the focus of the trip was to view the Max Dupain exhibition at the Lismore gallery.  When looking for accommodation though, I spotted this lovely old van set-up in Byron Bay - so we booked it instead (and then discovered we were right next door to friends)!

Nick had received a leg injection earlier in the week and suffered an adverse reaction, which caused a lot of pain.  We managed a few activities but not as much walking as we'd usually do - though he very determinedly hobbled around the Lighthouse and down to the most easterly point of Australia's mainland!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Firelighter fun!

Vaughan and I made basic firelighters when we lived at Clarkefield.  They worked well, all made from materials already on hand.

Kerry and I made far more beautiful versions when I visited New Zealand in 2016.  We'd gone for a lovely ramble first, picking up little pinecones, seed pods and various other interesting dry vegetation. 

It was a wonderfully peaceful, meditative activity arranging our finds into muffin cases - held in place with melted wax.

Nick and I have booked a few nights away at the end of the month.  Our accommodation has a firepit but we'll need to take wood.  I decided I'd like to bring some special firelighters (along with sparklers and colour-changing flame powder)!

I picked up dry grasses and bark yesterday, then found pine needles and pine cones once home again.  We had dried jacaranda in the backyard.

In more recent times Kerry made larger firelighters using paper cups.  

When I checked at home, there were heaps of Christmas cups which had red chevron stripes.  Some of our old address cards had the fire motif, so I trimmed those and used some double-sided tape to cover the "Merry Christmas" wishes.  Of course, the cups will be burned so it didn't matter that they were out of season but I like the revamped version better!

The method was simple.  I broke a small commercial firelighter into the bottom of each cup.  Most had a bit of bulrush fluff as well.  Some had some scrunched honeycomb packing paper.  The dried arrangements varied but I noticed they became larger and more elaborate as I went along!  When I started to get too precious about placement, I reminded myself that they were all going to go up in smoke anyway!  

We have a lot of cake candles, so I decided to give each firelighter one of those also.  I'm liking the end result.  Cheap entertainment for sure!

I don't know if I'm wearing the same jeans as I was in 2016.  The top is different but very similar.  Obviously great options for firelighter construction!

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Two-up on ANZAC Day!

Nissa flew in the day before ANZAC Day and one of our first morning's missions was to make ANZAC biccies together.

Our free-standing oven had some issues, so we baked about 65 biscuits in the benchtop turbo oven - seven in a batch. Each group only needed about 12 minutes cooking time, so swapping out trays was a bit fiddly but otherwise all worked well.

I've just checked and our Yowah fuel stove ANZAC biccies were made using smaller "trays", though we could fit several trays in the oven at once.

Once all the biccies were baked, we packed up some to take with us for a later lunch picnic.  

Given the public holiday, I planned to pick up some picnic supplies at a large IGA in Boonah, en route to Lake Maroon.

Not long before departure I thought to ask Nick for some pennies.  He was able to find some as well as a scrap of wood - and I printed off two-up rules from the internet.  I printed off two sets of rules, cos the first set talked of three pennies which seemed like three-up, not two-up! 

I'd never played before and neither had anyone else.  We modified the rules a bit, so as to play at our picnic table.  

No money changed hands, only buttons!

Erin wasn't keen to play, so watched our antics while doing her knitting.  

Bandit didn't play either but tried hard  to join in - and his noisy barking added to the hilarity!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Life's a picnic (or a cafe lunch)!

After our splendid January adventures, February was busy getting back into our normal work and school routines.  As always, there were outings but those were not really in keeping with the scope of this blog.  

Nick and I also enjoyed a lovely weekend away - though the focus of that break was his performance at the Songwriters Showcase.

There was lots of rain in March and we took advantage of a dry day for a school hours picnic, fairly close to home.  We dined well on wraps made with leftover roast dinner meat and vegies - and Bandit was happy we'd packed a treat for him also!

A few days later I made scones and packed another lunch for some exploring further afield.  I had thought we might try to see somewhere new but after huge hilarity at the GPS "assistance" we ended up back at Atkinson Dam where we've visited on a few other occasions.  There was a bit more water after all the rain and it was very pleasant to sit watching the little birds flit about.

In contrast to those organised picnic outings we had a wonderful, impromptu adventure this week.  We headed to our local Bunnings (less than 10km up the road), made a small purchase - and then decided it was too nice a day to spend at home, so continued in a westerly direction! 

We didn't have a plan but enjoyed blue sky, sunshine and lots of pretty scenery as we drove along. We chanced on a wonderful lunch spot, the Nash Gallery & Cafe at Esk, with many birds chattering away (and stealing leftovers when they could).

There were a couple of local art exhibitions at the two information centres we stopped at.  We'd called in at Esk at other times but hadn't previously visited The Condensary at Toogoolawah, which caused some discussion as we parked.  It really was a former condensed milk factory - Australia's first!  As well as the exhibition there was a small history display in a former bomb shelter inside the shed - and we looked at that also.

We headed back slowly, poking about in a few opshops and finding a few bargains.  By the time we arrived home in the later afternoon we'd made a 180 km round trip, substantially bigger than our original/planned 18 km quick loop to Bunnings!  

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Sew Civilised!

There's sometimes a cross-over between here and my other blog, Hamby Home(in)stead. 

I made two padded drawstring bags the week before we came away, as well as a set of simple laundry bags. Our bunker trip was their first outing - and all four worked very well!

We'd stopped at a great bakery in Toowoomba on the way out to Miles, so enjoyed specialty croissants on arrival, using our owl mugs and mug rugs.  (The spotted saucers and orange milk jug were at the bunker).  

The owl mugs were used again for the next morning's late brekkie, with more excellent croissants - and often during our stay, sans croissants!

We'd used dry bags for our washing on last year's wing-it wanderings tour (and a grocery bag while on our anniversary splurge!) but I wanted something smaller/nicer for our shorter road-trips.  We'd originally packed for a four-night stay and I wasn't sure if the bags would be large enough but they seemed a good size. (They are intended for light and dark, rather than his and hers).

When we extended to an extra night, we took our washing up to the laundry.  The dark bag was full and we did that load, then went out for some more exploring.  There had been a few spots of rain as we drove back but when we reached the clothesline, most of our washing had been retrieved for us.  How good is that?!