Friday, January 29, 2010

An Elephant Ate My Computer

...if only it was that easy! Big problems yesterday with our PC. Things are grim & it's currently being assessed in the Emergency Department. I heard the Tech. mumble those spine-chilling words Hard Drive & Mother Board, so a likely admission straight to Processor ICU once a 'bed' becomes available looks inevitable. I'd set time aside over Christmas to back everything up to an External Hard Drive for inclusion in my 'Run Millie, Run' Important Documents Box in case of bushfire. So when the Tech. said yesterday, 'And I suppose you haven't backed-up', it was with a certain degree of smugness Mr. Smarty Pants received my reply. I can use my work laptop but everything is routed through our Server in Japan & it's such a painfully slow process. During the time it's taken to load an individual blog site, I've done a load of washing & prepared a 5-course meal. It's high time work bit the bullet, dipped into their Mattress Money & installed a Server in Sydney.

I'll still blog, but they'll be short & sweet posts (was that a collective sigh of relief I heard?!). But I just won't be able to get around as much I'd like, so I'll miss you all. Hope your weekend is just fantastic.

Oh & a big hello to Karen, one of The Hedge's most regular Followers, who's recovering from eye surgery. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, but while you're still under Dr's. orders, make sure you milk it for everything you can!!
Image: Bilia

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tub Terroir

Where would we be without our laundry tubs, that most highly under-rated piece of household equipment. And as I do love an architect with a sense of humour, this little beauty caught my eye in a flash. Thinking about some of the 'challenges' I've thrown at my beloved tubs over the years, I'm sure this ever-so-practical model would have no trouble being used for:
  • Gutting & scaling 6 dozen fish straight from the esky after a big day out on the boat with Da Boys.

  • Rinsing thousands of buckets of disgusting nappies.

  • Washing all 95kgs. of Miss Pyrenean Mountain Dog.

  • Soaking all the filthy BBQ plates & racks.

  • Rinsing the dirt from the many baskets of MOTH's beautiful freshly dug spuds (Tassie Pink Eyes are his specialty).

  • Cleaning the paint from the Super-Long roller brushes.

  • Soaking a King Size blanket & doona.

  • Hosing down a screaming, wriggling, slippery mud-covered toddler.

  • Soaking the entire Little League team's footy guernseys.

  • Holding 4 bags of ice, 6 dozen beer & a dozen champers on Christmas Day.

  • Rinsing the hardened crud from hundreds of buckets of MOTH's Secret Recipe plasterboard & cornice cement.

Image: Pursley

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Renee With Love

As much as I would want it otherwise, I don't have a creative side to my personality. I am happiest analyzing, mentally deconstructing, then reconstructing & presenting solutions. I'm a 'Thinker'. And over the Christmas vacation I was doing a lot of thinking on the beach. Thinking about this blog.

What's it all about, where is it going, where do I really want it to go, the content, the format, the look, but more than anything I was thinking about you. The loyal band of blog brothers & sisters who are The Laurel Hedge. Those of you who have been here since my first post, who still come by each day. I adore you, each & every one of you. Then those who've followed a trail here through others & have stayed as well. Lovely, lovely people that you are. And then there are those who will come by in the future & join in, an exciting thought. I have a responsibility to you all & that's what I was thinking about the most. Not that it worries me, quite the opposite. I really enjoy the ritual of thinking about & writing a daily post. It's added a balance to my left brain world that was missing.

But what I truly enjoy the most is seeing what others have to say. And that got me thinking some more. What is it that attracts me to their blog, what makes me want to become a regular reader & most importantly, what, if anything can I contribute. I guess it's only human nature to wonder if a comment I left did make a difference. Well this week I had my question answered here at Renee's post. The criteria for The Real Award is as follows:

This is an award is for those who are brave enough
to expose just enough to
reach, touch, and possibly help someone else
to see something differently.

I am giving this award to only 3 blogs.

The only requirement is authenticity.
Use these awards wisely.
And do a post on the award telling why you wish to pass it on.
Please link the award on your sidebar to this post.
*Then the meaning of this award will not get watered down or changed.*

And believe me, when I see this award on a blog,
I will STOP, READ, and LISTEN to the message,
and the messenger.
Maybe others will too.

OK this means that I have to think again & I've been doing lots of that. I want to ensure the criteria of Renee's beautiful Award is carried forth. So here are the three blogs that to me fulfil Renee's criteria perfectly. These 3 friends, through their postings and comments (like Renee said so kindly about Willow, Deb & myself) have touched me in ways they will never know. And they are authentic.

Meredith @ Count It All Joy. For ripping the sugar coating from the challenges of mothering a big brood of very active, inquisitive & loving kids. And for having the courage to share your doubts & vulnerabilities in the most exquisite of ways.

Carolyn @ Little Bear Studio. For true grace in all things. And for the positive contributions you make to others through your generous comments & considered observations.

Heidi @ Heidi Claire. For being Phyllis Diller's zany love child. And for making me run the gauntlet of every emotion in my body in 3 seconds flat with one of your brutally honest & soul-searching posts.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day Passion

.....passionfruit that is! It's the height of the season & they are spectacular. Ripe, plump, juicy, sweet, highly perfumed & only $2.99 for a bag of 12. MOTH & I have had many a pleasure over the kitchen sink this past week, slurping away at as many passionfruit as our tummies will allow. So because I'm passionate about our amazing country, I thought I'd celebrate this special day with the joys of passionfruit & the Banana & Passionfruit Curd Pavlova is on the menu here at The Hedge today.


Passionfruit Yo-Yos with White Chocolate and Passionfruit Ganache
Makes 24
180 gm. butter, softened
90 gm. pure icing (powdered) sugar
80 mls. (1/3 cup) passionfruit juice (see note)
225 gm. (1½ cups) plain flour
100 gm. (2/3 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
White chocolate and passionfruit ganache
90 mls. pouring cream
45 mls. passionfruit juice (see note)
2 pieces lemon rind removed with a peeler
180 gms. white chocolate finely chopped

1. For the ganache, combine cream, juice and rind in a saucepan and bring just to the boil over medium-high heat. Place chocolate in a bowl, strain over hot cream mixture, whisk until smooth and refrigerate for 4 hours or until thick.

2.Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add juice and combine. Add flours and mix until just combined, then turn onto a floured surface, form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3.Preheat oven to 180C. Roll out pastry to 8mm thick and, using a 3cm-diameter cutter, cut rounds from pastry and place on baking paper-lined oven trays. Press scraps into a ball, re-roll and repeat. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just golden, cool on trays for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4.Spread half the biscuits with a teaspoon each of ganache, sandwich with remaining biscuits and stand until set. Uniced yo-yos will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
Note: To make passionfruit juice, blend passionfruit pulp in a food processor to crack seeds, then strain through a fine sieve. Twelve passionfruit yield about 1 cup of juice.

Lemonade and Passionfruit Icy Poles (Popsicles)
Makes 12
500 mls. (2 cups) Traditional Lemonade (Schweppes) or Bitter Lemon soft drink (Soda)
12 iceblock (popsicle) sticks
12 passionfruit, pulp only
1 vanilla bean, coarsely chopped
200 mls. sugar syrup (see note)
2 limes, juice only

1.Divide lemonade among twelve ½-cup capacity dariole moulds or disposable cups and stand for 10 minutes to allow bubbles to subside. Place on a tray and freeze for 2-3 hours, then insert an iceblock stick into each one and freeze overnight.

2.In a food processor process the passionfruit pulp and vanilla bean to crack passionfruit seeds, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Measure 210mls. of passionfruit juice and combine with sugar syrup, lime juice and 2/3 cup water. Refrigerate until cold, then divide among moulds or cups with lemonade and freeze overnight. Unmould and serve.

Note: To make sugar syrup, combine an equal quantity of sugar and water in a saucepan and boil for 1 minute. One cup each of sugar and water will make 1½ cups sugar syrup which will keep indefinitely refrigerated in a sterile container.

Banana and Passionfruit Curd Pavlova
Serves 8

2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), plus extra for dusting
6 eggs, separated (& yolks reserved for passionfruit curd)
2 egg whites
330 gms. (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 bananas, thinly sliced
Melted butter for brushing
To serve:
pulp of 2-3 passionfruits
Passionfruit curd
250 mls. passionfruit pulp (about 12 passionfruit)
55 gms. (1/4 cup) caster sugar
150 gms. salted butter softened & coarsely chopped
300 mls. thickened cream

1.Preheat oven to 120C. Line two oven trays with foil. Brush with melted butter, dust with cornflour, shake off excess and set aside.

2. Whisk eggwhites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually adding sugar until thick and glossy and sugar dissolves (4-5 minutes). Add cornflour and vinegar, whisking until just combined. Spread half the meringue into a 19cm x 28cm rectangle on one lined oven tray and smooth top with a palette knife. Repeat with remaining meringue on other tray and loosely peak top. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 100C and bake until meringue is dry and cracks when lightly pressed (30 minutes). Turn off oven and cool in oven with door ajar.

3. Meanwhile, for the passionfruit curd, process pulp in a food processor to release pulp from seeds, then strain through a fine strainer to yield 250ml juice. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, add reserved egg yolks, sugar and butter, whisk to combine. Stir continuously over a saucepan of simmering water until thickened (3-5 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap, set aside to cool, then refrigerate until firm (2-3 hrs).

4. Lay banana slices on top of flat meringue. Whisk cream until soft peaks form, then fold in curd and spoon mixture over meringue base. Top with remaining meringue and serve drizzled with extra passionfruit pulp.

Passionfruit Semifreddo
Serves 10

8 egg yolks
250 gms. caster sugar
250 mls. (1 cup) passionfruit juice (see note)
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
juice of 1 lime
300gms. double cream
150mls. pouring cream, lightly whipped
pulp of 2 passionfruit, plus extra to serve

1. Whisk egg yolks in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (5-7 minutes). Meanwhile, stir sugar, passionfruit juice and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer until syrupy (4-5 minutes) and add to egg yolks with lime juice, whisking continuously until mixture is cold (5-6 minutes).

2. Combine creams in a bowl, whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into passionfruit mixture, fold in pulp, spoon into an 8cm x 22cm plastic-lined rectangular cake tin, smoothing top (there may be mixture left over), freeze overnight until firm. Slice thickly and serve with extra pulp spooned over.

Note: To extract passionfruit juice, process pulp in a food processor, then strain through a sieve (discard solids). Eighteen passionfruit yield about 250ml juice.

Matt Moran's Baked Passionfruit Tartlets
Serves 6

3 eggs
1 egg yolk
150 gms. caster sugar
150mls. pouring cream
200mls. strained passionfruit pulp, from about 20-30 passionfruit
icing (powdered) sugar to serve

Sweet Pastry:
225gms. unsalted butter
100gms. icing (powdered) sugar
375 gms. (2½ cups) plain (all purpose) flour
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

1. For the pastry, mix the butter, sugar and flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add the egg and combine until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to 3mm thick and use to line six 8cm-diameter tart tins, then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Line pastry-lined tins with baking paper, then fill with pastry weights, dried chickpeas or rice, and blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. While still warm, fill any cracks with leftover pastry, then brush the insides of the tartlet shells with the beaten egg yolk and return to the oven for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 120C. To make the filling, lightly mix together the eggs, egg yolk and caster sugar in a bowl until sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cream and passionfruit juice and then strain through a fine sieve into a jug. Pour the filling into the tartlet shells and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just set – the filling should still wobble slightly in the centre. Leave to cool to room temperature.

4. Just before serving, dust the tarts with icing sugar and caramelise with a blowtorch or under a very hot grill.

Images & recipes: Gourmet Traveller

Monday, January 25, 2010


On Saturday, while fossicking around in a wardrobe for something else, I stumbled across a storage box that had escaped the Great Magazine Purge of 2006. Grabbing a coffee & a comfy seat, I just couldn't resist a quick flick through before tossing them in the recycle bin. The year was 1998, an eventful year for many things - President Bill Clinton said 'I want to say one thing to the American people, I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky', Apple introduced the iMac, 76 million viewers watched the last episode of Seinfeld, Google was launched, Ginger Spice announced that she was leaving the Spice Girls, Viagra received FDA approval, France won the World Cup & President Bill Clinton said 'I did have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky'.

And it seems we had a love affair with colour in our homes. Not just one colour, but as many as we could possibly use in one room with 4 walls. They say everything that goes around comes around, but I'm fervently praying to the God Of Interior Design please, please, make sure this look doesn't undergo any form of 'resurrection' - the shock would be all too much for me!!

Pink walls, yellow walls, red curtains, green tablecloth, blue glasses & brown & black floral pillows.

To quote the Home Owner - 'It has been fascinating explaining to people what we have done. Their lips curl up.....but then they see it!

I'd love to know how long it was before this kitchen received a 're-do'. If you are the present Owner, we'd sure love to hear from you.

Red rules here.

'In the dining room I decided to go completely over the top.' she said. No further comment is needed!

'Adorable' use of of purple to accent the skirting (base) boards against the blue walls.

Busy is as busy does.

I'm too dumb-founded to make any comment.

Interesting (read as overwhelming!) use of a purple/blue mix in the kitchen. Accented by the yellow curtains, one green & one yellow chair & an orange pillow thrown in for good measure.

'Hmmm, blue walls, yellow chair upholstery, dark wood armoire, lamps, granite sculptural piece, side tables, mauve sofa, old trunk, leopard print pillow, harlequin pillow, pink pillow, blue pillow, red gerberas, black & white check throw & zebra print rug - did I forget anything?'

All the furniture was HUGE! Oh & what a unique look we have here, each of the sofa chairs is a different colour.

BIG yellow chairs against the murky red walls.

More BIG chairs & BIG coffee tables & the compulsory dried flower arrangements.

More BIG chairs & a mind-blowing purple wall.

This sofa is SOOOO BIG, I would have had to take a running leap/jump just to land my backside squarely on those fat pillows & then would probably roll straight off again!

Any fess-ups as to what you were doing with your rooms in '98?

Images & with a big apology to New Zealand House & Garden.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

George & Millie's Awards

MOTH & I saw George's new movie Up in the Air yesterday & absolutely loved it!! In fact MOTH was so caught up in it, he didn't wriggle in his seat once. So in recognition of this once-in-a-lifetime event, I need to give George the No Wriggling Award for services to theatregoers everywhere. Let me know a time that's convenient & I'll organize a presentation luncheon - anyone interested? And kudos also to Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner for adapting Walter Kirn's original novel so eloquently. The script was tight, punchy, ever so thought-provoking & with just the right amount of quirkiness. A must see.

Thank you to the lovely Rita over at A Refocused Life for my Happy 101 Award. Rita's blog is so stylish & elegant & her posts are always such a treat. If you haven't been over to visit Rita, stop reading this & head over right now!

Thank you to Jeanne from Collage of Life for my Kreativ Blogger Award. Jeanne came onto the Blog scene last year & posts on her adventures relocating her family from one side of the world to the other. They make for fascinating reading.

I've always said how much these Awards mean to me, so thank you again to Rita & Jeanne for your thoughtfulness & recognition. Can I direct you to a previous post 'Thank-You's' here. The list of things that make me happy & things that you didn't know about me are there in great detail!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Perfect Accessory

A sweet little Weekender on a beautiful lake & a funky retro speed boat with a dash of aqua - just perfect.

Not too flash & slick, it would be the perfect bolthole for recharging the batteries.

A simple kitchen that wouldn't demand too much from me.

A fishing rod or 3 to hang over the side.

And some chairs out on the deck for sitting & watching life on the water.

It's been a good week, going back to work has been fine & the FY '10/11 budget process not too painful. A relaxing & happy weekend to you all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sorry I Missed You!

It's Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under today & it's the biggest day of the year for our little village. The race starts in lovely Unley (our old neighbourhood for 16 years),winds its way south along the coast, through the McLaren Vale wine area, up into the Hills via Meadows & Echunga & finishes here at the Stirling Oval. But not before Lance & the boys ride up gorgeous leafy Avenue Road, just at the end of our street twice on their final laps. All very exciting, but as I'm not a fan of the Deadlie Treadlies, elderly men in one size too small lycra shorts who should know better or crowds (an estimated additional 60,000 people all crammed into the main street today), it might be a good day to make an early exit down into the City & reappear about dinner time. For those of you interested in seeing the boys riding in the spectacular Adelaide Hills, go here for live feeds.

Image: MCCN

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MOTH's Girl

'Millie, Millie, get down here quick, OMG, OMG I can't believe it!'

'What's happened MOTH - you sound sooooo excited. Have we won a prize in Lotto?'

'No, no it's much more than that. See, here in the local paper. OMG, OMG I can't believe it!'

'Yes, MOTH you've already said that twice. Now get a grip & tell me what's going on.'

'It's my girl Justine, she's coming to the Hills!'


'See, here Mills, she's doing a guest appearance at the Library, I have to go.'

'You mean WE have to go.'

'OK, OK whatever, just get the tickets.'

And so I did the hour's round trip up the Freeway to Mt. Barker & picked up 2 tickets to Justine's Master Class 'Discover the Secrets of Romantic Cooking' for 2 reasons. 1. Just to make an old man very happy & 2. This is worth at least 2 Blog posts! I hope that poor girl has a bodyguard with her, 'cos MOTH's determined to give her a night she'll never forget!

Image 1: News Image 2: She Said Image 3: Yahoo

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reality Bites

Vacation fun time is over & I'm heading back to the cut & thrust today. Budget negotiations for our new FY (April '10-March '11) begin this morning. As usual it will be interesting to see what fanciful figure is handed to me first up & then what we actually bed down on Friday. Wish me luck, I feel a bit of a stoush coming on.

Thanks to everyone who left lovely comments on the Guest Room Reno. yesterday. MOTH & I were surprised & delighted at the response. We're happy with the results, so it was a wonderful bonus to find that you guys are too. Once the Bathroom-From-Hell next door to it is complete, we're more than happy to take bookings a la Basil & Sybil. Now that would be fun!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Guest Star

The Guest Room looks fab with its new headboard & I've been remiss by not giving it a wrap-up. But as I recall, I became somewhat distracted the week in November it all happened, something about seeing a Radiologist & an Orthopaedic Surgeon in a hurry. So, here it is in it's prettiness (well I think so anyways!).

For new Hedgies who may be interested, I posted a fairly in-depth discussion on the project here. Of all the rooms we've tackled so far, this is the one that feels like I'm in a whole different house. I'm still on the look-out for the right throw pillows for the bed, but I'm sure they'll find me soon. I always knew this house was going to be a challenge & I know people have thought us quite crazy. But the vision is still as strong as ever.

This house is slowly but surely emerging from its cloak of '70's dark brown glumness. The constraints of a tight budget & demanding outside work commitments has slowed progress this past year, but I reckon we're doing OK. Not too bad actually for Mr. 61 & his 'ol 54 side-kick! And I'm also happy to report, there has been considerable progress in the Bathroom-From-Hell over the past couple of weeks - but I'm moderating my excitement for the moment & so should you.

The bedside table is nearly 30 years old, was a Franco Cozzo look-alike in dark brown with doors & scrolly-things which I ripped off in a fit of pique one day. It held the sound system in our old house & I hated it, but once I stripped it & repainted it, it seems very happy to be 'repurposed'.

BEFORE - the room as we saw it at the Open Inspection with the previous Owner's stuff.

AFTER - quite a dramatic difference!

The 2 prints on the wall left of the curtains were a wedding gift 14 years ago from great friends. The frames were looking a little tired, so I refreshed them with new ones from Maison d'IKEA.

I cherish the note our friends wrote on the back.

I used Toiles De Mayenne Bandol Stripe Small for the bonded roller blind.

And the same to make a long cushion for the blanket box & had the edging piped on the diagonal.

The blanket box is another 'repurposed' item. It was the boys toy box for ever & ever & I just repainted it from a yukky reddish-brown to white. The child who the box was bought for is turning 30 next month, so it's given me great service!

The mirror was a good buy at the post- Christmas sales.

The bedhead fabric is Toiles De Mayenne Verola Stripe Wide - Oyster.

While pretty ugly, the original 1972 built-in wardrobe was functional & very well built, so MOTH saved it. However to give the room a better configuration for furniture placement, he relocated it.

.....from this wall where the mirror & blanket box are now this wall facing the window. The brushed silver wardrobe door hardware is still original 1972, they looked OK, so we just used them again. MOTH did build a plaster board bulkhead to give the whole thing a finished look. Otherwise the top of the wardrobe would just be a dust collector.

This was the empty wall the wardrobe was relocated to. MOTH getting rid of the hideous, unsalvagable nylon carpet for me.

Just before receiving a first coat of primer.

As I mentioned in the original post, MOTH had been pondering the ceiling for some time, & about a second after I took this pic, he turned to me & said 'That's it, I've decided to build a new frame, drop the ceiling & install down-lights.' And so he did!

I'm delighted with the fabric choice & so grateful to Miss Richfields for her gentle guidance. We have been friends since our kids were babies, so she has my number well & truly & knows how to 'manage' me!

Now that the Christmas lilies have all gone, things are pretty light-on in the garden, so the good old Agi's got a run.

This pic is for Ange who queried whether I did all my Domestic Goddess chores in my pearls & evening dress as depicted in my Home Page photo. As you can see Ange by the disgusting old t-shirt, no make-up, bad, bad hair & the absence of any pearls, the answer to your query is a loud NO!

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