beef bone broth – it’s worth it


We are finally starting to get a chill in the air in Brisbane (happy dance, happy dance!), so the slow cooker came out of the pantry last week. First cab off the rank was a bone broth.1.5kg of beef bones at the organic butchers cost around $12. (In case you’re a local, TMP – formally The Meat-Ting Place – in the shopping centre on Flockton Street in McDowall has certified organic meat and terrific service).

Roast the bones in the oven for an hour – about 200-220 degrees C. Take straight out of the oven and into the slow cooker along with any vege offcuts you’ve kept aside. I used one brown onion, a couple of carrots, about 3 stalks of celery, 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 3 bay leaves. Some people add ginger and garlic – but I leave that for when I use the broth instead.

Cover the entire lot with filtered water and put the slow cooker on low. To get a gelatinous broth, let it simmer for 24-30 hours. It took about 6 hours to even start to simmer and the smell was really quite light – not like how a pea and ham soup stinks out the place!

I lost very little liquid through the simmer – and also didn’t have much fat scum to scoop off the top. I suppose it depends on the bones. I took out the large bones and veges and allowed it to cool a little in the cooker bowl before pouring out through a strainer to remove the solids.

At this stage, I wanted to get it cooled down and into the fridge as quickly as possible – it’s a meat product after all. So I filled the sink with ice and put the large bowl of strained liquid on top to get the temp down and get it into the fridge. Overnight the fat floats to the surface and solidifies. It’s then really easy to cut the fat around the edges of the bowl and lift out – leaving the wobbly broth. ** Don’t throw out the fat! Put it in a spare jar and keep it in the fridge to use for bbq-ing meat and veges.

I kept some broth in the fridge for dinners over the next few days, but froze the rest for future use. I don’t really have any ‘specialist’ equipment – so I used silicon cupcake patties and a small banana loaf tray. These both worked really well. I bagged up the frozen broth to stop freezer burn and they are all ready to go!

I will use it as a stock for soup or any liquid absorbing grain – cous cous, rice or quinoa etc. It’s awesome for adding to spag bol or making sauces and gravies for meat dishes, but it’s terrifically tasty and satisfying as a meal on its own. That’s how I like it – heat it up and add an egg or spinach or any vege really. Voila!



MLB games and division tracker for the Red Sox 2017 season


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I don’t know how other fans of Major League Baseball keep a track of how their team is going, so I’m making up my own notes as I go along. The handful of diehard fans I know in Australia keep across their team’s performance by visiting the MLB or various other sports news websites, but I haven’t seen anyone else’s notes/teambook at all. I can’t be the only one putting pen to paper, surely!

Here’s my first few pages for the Red Sox season this year. I do the box score for each game and have a little room to write the most important take-away from the game – like a one line summary. I want to get more of a handle on how my team is doing in both home and away series against each team they play, so I started to colour code them – but I think it’s a bit busy. I’ll go back over these pages and draw a box around each series which might show them better.

Start of the 2017 Red Sox regular season games

The bit I am struggling with most is keeping track of where the Red Sox are placed in the American League East division. I drew up a kind of AL East summary page to try to see how they are sitting within the group, but I feel like it’s still too busy as a visual snapshot… I might have to tweak it and see if I can simplify it some more. Originally I thought of the five teams going vertical, but it got a little Tetris-y.

AL East summary page – it needs some work to clarify it more I think. Maybe go vertical instead of across the page after all?

Any ideas for improving my notes would be appreciated and I would love to see your team notes if you keep them!:)


print your social media photos


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I don’t get many photos printed anymore. I scroll through them on a small screen instead, which isn’t the same. Having an actual album in your hands feels like such a luxury. 

Once a year I download my Instagram piccies into a little square soft cover album. I go to the cheapest photo book site, a lot of them do it, some of them can even interface with Instagram and automatically load one square photo per page. There’s no need to write text within it. It’s quick. It’s simple. It’s clean and crisp. 

I don’t print photos from other social media – not Facebook or Twitter.  Instagram is where I put the visual stuff. 

I’ve just got round to doing my 2015 Instagram which should arrive soon. What I love most about doing this is that it’s a visual overview of what grabbed my attention last year. There’s definitely a pattern in what I find notable, beautiful and funny and it changes each year based on where my life was focused.   

These little books are a small and tangible reminder of an instant snap shared, that would otherwise not be savoured beyond that one fleeting moment.  


happy new leap year…thinking about the extra 24 hours

So I’m thinking the potential of that extra 24 hours we get this year could be magnificent. 

What if we could all plan to make it worth something extra – not just another workday (cos Feb 29 falls on a Monday) but a day we achieve one discrete but amazing project for the common good. 

Something to ponder…

#oneextraday #liveyourbestday #best24hours  


bound by shakespeare 


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Not three days ago I was standing in the house Shakespeare was born in. I walked the streets of Stratford Upon Avon all day under skies threatening to rain. I went to his daughters house where I ate from a mulberry tree over 150 years old, grown from a cutting from her fathers garden.  

 Not two weeks before that, I was watching Benedict Cumberbatch deliver an epic Hamlet. His Hamlet (I hope). I’ve only just written up my journal from that performance, but won’t write it here. I don’t know how to summarise those 12 pages and as the show is still in preview and tweaks are ongoing, it doesn’t serve any purpose.  

  The week before that I saw Richard II at the Globe itself in Bankside. Tremendous. The way the Bard did it himself.  

 And now, first day in America, I wander through Central Park to rest the senses and happen upon a line of people waiting for free tickets to the very last performance of the Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park season – Cymbeline. I’m on holidays, so what’s an hour or two standing in the queue to me? The people around were lovely and chatty and once they knew I was here for the first time, they were full of recommendations for the creative arts they encouraged me to see or do before leaving. I loved that and am very grateful. 

It was a lovely walk back up to the Delacorte Theatre (in the middle of Central Park) for the 8pm start. Just on sunset. Gosh the cast have some fun with this. The opportunity to play multiple roles – or indeed the one role pretending to be another one – was seized with both hands. Terrific pace, playing to the crowd in the best tradition of Shakespeare and those voices! God the company can sing.   

  If you’re ever in New York – and they are playing at the Delacorte – I’d encourage you to queue for the tickets. It’s sponsored by donations, so all 1800 seats are free.  By the people. For the people. 

A late finish would normally have little old me a bit nervous about a walk back to the hotel – but check out my body guards. Never safer 🙂


Shakespeare wrote some of the most extraordinary lines that – even 399 years after his death – we can say off by heart. The truest of them all for me, especially this trip seems to be,  that “all the world’s a stage”. I seem to find my way amongst those who love him wherever I’ve gone.  


Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – London


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For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings

Richard II

And you can do just that at the Globe theatre – for the princely sum of a fiver. Groundlings pay just £5 to see a play at the Globe so if you have a strong constitution and can take whatever weather old Blighty throws at you, it’s the way to go.

Tickets for seats – lets actually call them what they are – “the MOST uncomfortable wooden benches you don’t really sit on, you perch on, and all your blood runs down to your toes til you feel sick and giddy and overwhelmed with vertigo” – cost quite a bit more, upwards to £50 depending on how close your level is to the stage.

Currently Richard II is playing at the Globe and it’s very good. There’s actually lots of humour and I thoroughly recommend it if you have the time. Also playing (but I haven’t seen) are Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It – two of my faves playing through til September but not on every day. Tickets go quick, so do book – their online site works well. The Globe is really easy to get to – it’s a lovely walk along the Thames from Waterloo Station. Try to get there an hour at least before hand to have a pint at the pub next door before the play.

Make sure you rent a cushion for £2 and you can rent a “seat back” if you’re on a middle pew and don’t have the back of the section, or the front balustrade, to lean on for a change in position. Also note, if it’s a hot day – the back rows of the seated sections catch and hold a lot of the heat and it gets muggy – very muggy. So bring in a bottle of water. There is an intermission – make the most of it to stretch your legs.

Photos are allowed before and after a performance, but obviously not during.


Treading the boards at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The Globe is one of those magic places to make a pilgrimage to. A play here is quite something – it’s performance to its very core. It would be hard to find actors playing more up to the crowd than in this arena, and of course the history, the restoration of the building itself and the playwright who’s name it bears all draw a crowd for good reason.image

national gallery – London


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If you get a near it – and you will because it’s so central – take the time to go into the National Gallery at the top of Trafalgar Square. It’s free and it has PLENTY of seating right in front of some of the most celebrated paintings OF ALL TIME!!!! Feel free to read that again in Kanye’s voice.

Even if art isn’t your “thing”, you will know what these paintings are and by whom. You will. Trust me. You will have heard of these artists – because they’ve been referred to in modern culture so many times – THAT’S how very good they were.

My main man Van Gogh is here – but not his Starry Nights which is my favourite (not only because of the Doctor Who episode with that magnificent speech by Bill Nighy that was superb!) but his Two Crabs which is my second favourite work of his. His Sunflowers is also here – more well known than his other paintings and certainly the focus of the tat in the gift shop. But for mine, Two Crabs is glorious. The colours get me every time. He painted this the year before he took his own life.


Van Gogh – Two Crabs and Sunflowers

Works by Degas are here – his beautiful dancers.


Degas – Ballet Dancers

Monet and Manet – side by side even so you can get the differences straight 🙂 Renior, Dürer, Constable, Talouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Cezanne…honestly. This is the who’s who of the age AND it’s only one section of the gallery.

While away an hour or two. Sit and sketch from some of the very best. Have a coffee in the cafe and come back for another few hours. It truly is a magnificent place – even the ground you walk on is beautiful.


The stairwell landing mural.

The Underappreciation of Rest in Today’s Society


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This article explains the first half of my holiday. A noisy brain, internal rules about what I “should do” instead of what I needed to do. I particularly like the point on rest not just being physical – and slthough difficult,  stopping the mental, spiritual and emotional angst/business is necessary.

I intend to be more mindful of my negative inner talk and reverse it for the second half of my time away.

The Underappreciation of Rest in Today’s Society.


views of London – the Sky Garden


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If claiming the high ground is important to you – or you find some perspective helpful – the Sky Garden might be for you. There are plenty of places that will charge you for seeing London from their dizzying height – but the Sky Garden does it for free.

The Sky Garden is at the top of the building affectionately known as the Cheese Grator. It’s on Fenchurch Street near Monument Tube but it’s an easy 10 minute walk from Bank Tube (and a few others).
imageYou need to book your free ticket on their website – Sky Garden website – and give them all the details for security and a bag search airport-style on arrival. I didn’t have my water or apple/snacks confiscated so I don’t think they are too strict.imageThere is a small walkway on the south side (that’s the Thames side) open to the outside, though the staff monitor the wind speed and will close it if it gets dangerous. There are some lovely fern garden beds to walk and sit amongst that are constantly sprayed with mist to ensure the humidity and moisture stay constant.
imageThere is a reasonably priced cafe – the coffee wasn’t too bad for London! – but if you go up late in the afternoon, the cocktails are a little pricey.

There are also some more pricey restaurant options up on alternate levels – but as you’ll see in the photos – these are set back from the main windows of the building. Check their website if that is more your style. imageThere are other options to get high in London – but they will all cost you something. The Shard is considered the best – 69 floors up and £25. You can go for a spin on the London Eye (£20 plus) or the Emirates Air Line back from Greenwich will set you back around £5 one way. You can climb Primrose Hill just off Regents Park or Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath – they are free excepting a little sweat. But then they are miles away and will give you a view of the city skyline, not a view down to the winding Thames.

Happy travels.

solo travel


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Sometimes traveling on your own can be lonely. I can miss the sound of voices conversing with me. But if I hang out in a tourist spot for a few hours, hearing the banal drivvle that some call conversation cures me of that quite quickly. 

Traveling solo is practically permission to focus on what people are actually saying to each other AND I get to guess the reasons why. How parents talk to their children. How lovers – old and young – talk to each other. The passive aggression. The controlling superiority. The waspish snap of judgement. The indifference. 

And then like a light in the midst – a dad and his son walk through the throng holding hands. He’s pointing out what there is and why it comes to be here and they learn something new together. Smiling. Awesome. 

Give me deep conversations. The ones with meaning, not glib opinion. The debates and connections, not the trivia and shallow observations. I want the stories of living a life, not the tasks and to do lists. And to hell with those speaking to hear their own voices. They seem to be everywhere.  I imagine them talking in movies – pointing out something that no one else can possibly miss because it’s 40foot tall in front of us all. 

You can keep the endless roundabouts of two people agreeing with each other – fine tuning their identical points of view with an insignificant nuance.  What do they end up with?  It’s boring and pointless. They haven’t solved the problems of the world, but they certainly look pleased with themselves. 

People watching and listening – now I can spend hours doing that. 

organising the planning to journal the travel


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Step one. Dream of where to go. 

Step two. Save like a mad woman. 

Step three. Deliberate on which planner to plan trip in. Hum. Hah. Try a few different sorts out. Gather supplies. Create templates. Try them out. Tweak them. Try again. Bin them. Google and Pinterest and Facebook planner groups. Drool and rub hands together. 

Step four. Shop for cute accessories to go with possible planner options. 

It’s not just me is it?

… Is this thing on?

Yes it is 🙂


Life. Life takes you on twists and turns. When once you had time, something sweeps you up and takes you away…

So here we are. Some 3 years on since my last post, the urge to write has come back to me. I have stories to tell, ideas to discuss, and fun to have. I’ve met some cool and amazing people and learnt a low. So, shall we?

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Baked Relief – love to the west from Brisbane


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Baked Relief is a call to arms that was born from the Brisbane floods. It started as a rallying cry from Digella’s blog across twitter and Facebook for those who still had power connected to put it to good use and bake some food for those out helping sandbagging or cleaning flood effected properties. Those that could drive, collected and delivered food to SES crews whenever and wherever they could.

Baked Relief continues to coordinate the spread of a little thoughtful kindness and support to those not expecting anything from anyone.

If you’re in Brisbane, and you are in a position to participate – putting together a box of essentials for a farming family out west to have an old fashioned smoko (that’s aussie slang for a morning or arvo tea break), then I’d encourage you to follow the link to see the particulars.

In my experience, good people don’t ask for help- they just get on with it. Farmers are doing it tough with the drought and a box of comfort from a city slicker shows we are thinking of them.


paid for with blood, sweat and tears


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It’s a thing here in Australia that sports clubs and community associations host sausage sizzles at polling booths. It’s a cheeky barbecue to raise some much needed funds. I’m sure it happens in other countries, but it’s a tradition down under.

The sausage of democracy is your reward for exercising your responsibility as a citizen. You cast your vote to help decide who runs the rules around here. Then you buy a snag.

It costs a paltry $2 – and you get optional onion (it’s not an option though, lets face it – eat the onion) and your choice of sauce for free.

But think on the true cost of it.

Generations of the poor rising up against the rich to have fair representation.

Decades of fight from women prepared to chain themselves up for their right to be heard when even their husbands wouldn’t countenance their point of view held any value.

The centuries of being dismissed by a white majority refusing the basic respect and dignity to even be counted as a human being.

You can keep your fancy Michelin star menus. The humble sausage of democracy is the most expensive meal you’ll ever taste.


it’s voting day in Queensland


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I’m off for my Sausage of Democracy at my local voting location. I never look forward to running the gauntlet of pamphlet pushers and assorted delusional manipulators that stretch from the carpark to the booths. I swear some of the zealots think their Jedi mind tricks will work on me. As if. You can’t kid a cynic, Sweetie.

Just as a general shot across the bow, I publish my daily horoscope. Take it how you will.

Aries horoscope for Jan, 31, 2015

You may be feeling the need to get something off your chest, perhaps to tell someone what you think of them. This could be cathartic, Aries, if you go about it in the right way. If your goal is to repair a relationship or to stand up for yourself, then you need to be clear and also compassionate in the delivery of your message. If you are angry, hostile, or resentful, your words will only be met with defensiveness. If you reach out with the goal of a positive outcome, you can have a positive impact.

Copyright (c) The DailyHoroscope by FortunesFoundry

And people wonder why I’m an angry woman


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The Australian newspaper’s obituary for the late Colleen McCollough is a disgrace.

Two days ago we lost one of our most celebrated female authors. Throughout her life, Ms McCullough:
– earned a living as a teacher, librarian and journalist
– spent ten years researching and teaching in the Department of Neurology at Yale Medical School
– her novel the Thorn Birds has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and
– she was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree by Macquarie University.

And this is how our national paper leads the remembrance and celebration of her life, her achievements and her contribution to our nation…


Fuck whoever wrote this.
Fuck whoever approved this to print.
Fuck journalism standards in Australia.
Fuck how this paper/reporters/society values and quantifies the entire life of a woman – distilling it down to how she looked while she lived it.
Fuck them all sideways.
#everydaysexism #itstopswithme

celebrate your wins and remember what’s important


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2014 was a bit of a struggle. It sucked a little personally and it sucked a lot for people I know. I think it would be good to have a visual reminder of what holds my family and friends together when the tough times come around.

A friend of mine has been doing this forever – and I’ve finally got around to stealing it. Here’s her way to celebrate your wins and hold on to what’s truly important.

Every good time – anything you celebrate – grab a momento and write the date/occasion, where it happened and if you have room – who was there. It doesn’t really matter what it is – napkin, card of some sort, Polaroid photo or in my case starting Christmas, a cork from a champagne bottle. You can mix and match – or drink champers all year 🙂 Place each momento into a glass jar/bowl/vase or even novelty oversized martini glass so you can SEE IT – that’s the key.

When times are tough, you’re missing loved ones or your worries take over, you can pick out a good time and smile.


An open letter to Gérard Saillant (oh yeah Jean Todt too)

A Former F1 Doc Writes

Dear Gérard,

Imagine my surprise at learning that you were in my hospital last week. You actually got on the train from Paris to come here to Liège! It’s a pity you didn’t call me ahead of the visit – we could have had a cup of coffee. Or you could have beeped me to say hi once you got here. But I guess that actually being face to face with someone is not your style. Come to think of it, it never really has been, has it? You did fire me via email!

Imagine my surprise to learn that despite having heard nothing from you or your boss since being fired, YOU ACTUALLY CAME TO MY HOSPITAL BECAUSE OF ME. You made an appointment with the Dean of my medical faculty, to speak about me. Then travelled 2 1/2 hours . . . for me. I’d be flattered if…

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planning pages for gifts and penpals


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Yes! Penpals. Remember them? I love letters. I love getting them and I love writing to people I hope like getting them too. Social media makes keeping in touch easy, but that contact can be reactive, quick and non-committal. It can also be a bit depressing really. I want more.

I want to write a ‘decent’ letter – you know, one that someone will pour over for a while and hopefully not find boring. Pages and pages of news and tidbits that the recipient will read over a good strong brew, they’ll  smile and exclaim at what’s been going on and they’ll want to write back a reply. That’s the type of letter I want to get! Yes I could call, text or email but a letter! with a stamp and everything – now that’s magic.

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century. I watch period movies where people keep letters tied with a luscious ribbon and keep the parcel safe and cherished for years in an ornate box. They read and reread until parts are complete in memory. I have a lovely box I keep all my correspondence in – birthday and Christmas cards, the odd postcard, but I don’t have many letters. That makes me a little sad.

The PDF document linked below is what I’ve created for anyone to print. I use a type of planner called an ARC. It’s a discbound system and I’ve set up an A5 ARC (similar size to USA junior size) as my gift/Christmas and penpal organiser.

The document pages are set up on an A4 page so it prints 2 to a page and should print back to back with a margin big enough to be punched to fit discbound/rings or whatever type of organiser you use.

ARC penpal gift pages (A5)

I hope you find it useful :). Happy letter writing.


This Might Be the World’s First Book on Color Palettes

At Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France you will find an 894-page book from 1692 dedicated entirely to color. One A. Boogert is credited as the author to this fascinating manual written in Dutch. According to Erik Kwakkel, Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints; explaining how to mix colors and change their tone by…

quick white chocolate fudge with cranberries and pistachios


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Two blocks of good quality eating white chocolate. Half a can of condensed milk (a whole can will work but it makes it a very soft fudge). One teaspoon of butter and one tablespoon of vanilla essence. All into a saucepan on medium-low heat and stir continuously until all melted together and starting to ‘dry out’ and get a skin on top. Take off the heat and stir through a big handful of chopped cranberries (as much as you like really – the mixture is too sweet without them). Pour the lot into a lined square cake tray. Cover the top with chopped pistachios and push them into the top of the fudge. Refrigerate until set. IMG_6640.JPG


mars bar slow cooker fudge


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I was given a slow cooker so I am trying out as many different types of dishes I can to get a handle on what it does well and what it doesn’t. This is my first try doing fudge in the slow cooker, because you know…fudge.

Experts tell me, you put two blocks of chocolate, one can of condensed milk, a knob of butter (optional) and “flavourings” into the slow cooker. Leaving the lid off, put on high for 2 hours and stir every 15 mins…

That last bit kinda defeats the purpose of a set and forget slow cooker, don’t it? Oh well, put on a good movie you love and know all the words to and get cracking.

I used a block of dark chocolate and one of milk. I used the knob of butter because I forgot to spray the cooker pot with canola oil…oops. I added about 6 mini mars bars and let it rip.
By the 45 minute mark, the mixture was melting well together. By the 1:30hr mark, it was getting a skin on top that mixed back in when stirred but I bailed at that point fearing it would get gritty and gross. I poured the fudge into a lined slice tray to cool and chill in the fridge.

Today I sliced it up. It was set solid but still a little tacky. The flavour is not too sweet and the consistency is quite treacly-if that makes sense.

I don’t think I’ll do slow cooker fudge again. I like the hard icy type fudge, the sort you used to get at school fetes. Nowadays fudge seems to be more creamy and smooth and this recipe ended up similar to that.


a weird kind of insomnia


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It seems there’s a small window of opportunity to wind down to sleep…and I keep missing it. I’m tired. I’m not wired and my mind isn’t racing. I’ve done my journal today so all possible angst is out on the page. I’m sure I can fall asleep once my head hits the pillow and yet, I find myself poodling around the house doing I-don’t-recall-what and it’s past 2am. A third wind takes me, if you will. Why do I keep stuffing up my body clock?! Mondays hurt all the more for it. I haven’t been dreaming of late, so it can’t be fear of that. Weird. Anyway- G’Night.

a winter’s night sweet hit


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I’ve never done a mug cake before as most of the recipes I see have an egg in them. This one doesn’t and has turned out really nice, light and moist.

Ingredients and Method

3 TBsp milk (I used soy)
1 TBsp extra virgin olive oil
1 TBsp sugar/stevia alternative

Whisk these together in your mug.

Add 3 TBsp self raising flour
1.5 TBsp raw oats
0.5 TBsp cocoa powder
And a dollop of Nutella on top

Stir these til mixed in. Nuke in your microwave for 1 minute.



Choccie Oat mug cake

4 Keys To Mapping Out A Better Career Path | Fast company


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I love articles like these. They jog my head out of the status quo and back into thinking proactively.

It’s said that you are most affected by and mirror the 5 people you spend the most time with. If those 5 people are happy to chug along without driving or striving, then it’s up to the individual to break their own mold.

4 Keys To Mapping Out A Better Career Path | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

Stuck in the Comfort of the Familiar? How to Start Living With No Regrets : MOMeo Magazine


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A good checklist to keep in mind. In short – feel the fear and do it anyway.

Stuck in the Comfort of the Familiar? How to Start Living With No Regrets : MOMeo Magazine for Work-at-Home Moms: Business Tools | Parenting Advice | Mom Lifestyle Tips | Mom Blog | Mom Forum.


Living with anxiety: finding a way to get through the day

Shumpty Speaks

I suffer from anxiety: I do not hide from it and I am honest about it.  That does not make it any easier to live with! Of late, I will concede, I have on occasion let my anxiety get the better of me.  I forgot the very simple strategy to dealing with anxiety that I have been using for the last 3 and a half years and was letting my anxiety, for want of a better term, win.

I did not even realise it was happening.  That is a the scariest thing.  After a couple of weeks feeling off I sat back and reflected on what I was doing differently and then discovered that I had not been going through my anxiety minimisation ritual / strategy.  Now that I am back using this ritual I thought I would share it.

So, here is my strategy for dealing with anxiety or an…

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not talking


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I’ve been realising how little I actually speak to other people when it’s up to me. Today I spoke small talk to two shop assistants – pleasant enough. But when I think about it, that’s the first time I’ve said anything to anyone since Saturday. Four days without speaking. I’ve communicated a heap – on twitter, farcebook, instagram, texting etc. I’ve written two long letters – yes, with pen and paper! – full of love and longing, but I haven’t spoken out aloud with or to someone else. I have sung a little, but that’s just me normally around the house and I never sing around other people. Is that weird?

wicked vans cop a pasting – about time too


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Wicked vans are your cheapie rentals for backpackers to self drive around Australia. They pride themselves on being outrageous and edgy with their graffiti like paint jobs. More and more, the slogans they are painted with are misogynistic and offensive. One couple decided to repaint their van…And it’s brilliant.



Rugby: Memo to the QRU / Queensland Reds on the fan experience

Shumpty Speaks

Last night saw the end of the 2014 Super Rugby season for the Queensland Reds. In a season where the membership of the Reds hit 55,000 (obviously this number includes single / three game memberships) it is strange to be writing a post about improving the fan’s experience. However, having attended all but one home game this year: the matters I intend to raise are things that have been floating through my mind all year.

Whilst the Reds are to be applauded for their obviously excellent membership drive this year, in the context of a poorly coached and under performing team going onto the field, here are 5 things they or the QRU must improve on to improve the fan’s experience AND keep all those members coming through the door:

1. Stop playing music / chants in the middle of play

I have never experienced this at any other Australian…

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Ipswich Cup Day: Best Bets

Bets are on for the Ipswich race day today.

Shumpty Speaks

The biggest sporting event in Australia today is not a game a soccer or rugby: it is the Ipswich Cup. The jewel of the winter carnival coming from the Ipswich Race Course just a stones throw from my childhood home, this is one of the greatest days on the sporting calendar.

I have been to many an excellent day of racing at Ipswich on Cup day and whilst it is always a difficult day for the punter there is always, also, some value to be found.

My brother-in-law has a theory when it comes to races on Ipswich Cup Day: just back any horse with Jim Byrne on its back. Normally I laugh off this theory but, as you will see from my tips, I have a feeling it is going to be a big day for Byrne at Ipswich.

Best Bets:

Race 1: Number 9 La Tikka Rosa


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Stradbroke Handicap Day: Best Bets

Moriarty indeed 🙂

Shumpty Speaks

The winter carnival continues at Eagle Farm this weekend with Stradbroke Handicap Day.  Here are my tips for another of the great days on the Australian racing calendar:

  • Race 4:Adebisi (2) (e/w)
  • Race 6: Brazen Beau (1)
  • Race 8:Knoydart (10) (e/w)
  • Race 9:Moriarty (1)

As always:

  1. Please gamble responsibly.
  2. All care is taken with these tips however, obviously, no responsiblity for losses incurred.

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stir crazy


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It’s been a while since I wrote anything, either on here or in my journal. Which is a bit nuts. My journal let’s me mull things over and get it all out of my head until it makes some sense, so to stop that goes to show how muddled I’m feeling. I’ve had an early stage skin cancer removed from my lower leg and it’s not healing at all well. So now I’m house bound and going nuts with doubts and worries. I’m concerned about using up all my sick leave (whilst acknowledging how lucky I am to have a job that lets me ‘earn’ sick leave entitlements). I worry that I’ll need it for something really serious in the unforeseeable future. I am mentally bashing myself up for not ‘doing more’ while I have my leg in the air. Not writing. Not reading. Not improving. Not earning. Not cleaning. Not learning. Not working. Not. Not. Not. I actually sat here today kicking myself along with rewards – if I sit still for two hours, I can surely water the plants. While I sit for a few more hours, I can compare home and content insurance to see if I can make a saving somewhere. I got $50 off. So that’s a win, right? It’s a little bit scary how consumed by the negative and how foggy I’m getting. I thought I’d have more resilience than this. Doing nothing is not my forte. I have to have a plan. I have to have something to do. As the great man says…


white chocolate malteser slice



Forgot to write this one up – it’s not as sweet tasting as you’d think – but then a little goes a long way 🙂

Dry ingredients are: 2 cups of rice bubbles, a packet of smashed up arrowroot biscuits, 1 cup of halved maltesers.

Wet ingredients are: 125g butter, a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Put the wet ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat until they start to bubble. Mix stirring for a minute and add to the dry ingredients. Note: mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl before you add the wet stuff – it’s easier.

Press the base mix into a lined slice pan. Use the largest one you’ve got to spread it thin – once cool, the thicker this slice is, the harder it is to cut.

Melt a packet of white chocolate melts in the microwave and drizzle over the top – add more halved maltesers and pop the lot in the fridge to set.


white chocolate malteser slice

white chocolate malteser slice

salted caramel fudge


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Nearly forgot I made this for a caramel loving friends birthday. Gird your loins and don’t make it on a hot day – it takes a half an hour of constant stirring. Make it the day before you need it to give it time in the fridge.

Prepare a 20cm square slice pan greased and lined with baking paper.

In a saucepan, put a 400g can of condensed milk (I use the 99% fat free/skim one), a cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of liquid glucose, 1/4 cup of golden syrup, and 125g chopped up butter.

Let the stirring begin.

Warm this over low heat until the sugar dissolves so you don’t get a gritty fudge. Don’t let it boil – but keep it stirring for about 10 minutes.

Then ramp up the temperature a bit to a low medium heat/simmer stirring all the time. On my electric stove it took another 8 minutes to get to a soft bubble.

Now keep stirring like a mad person while it’s bubbling for another 8 or so minutes. You’re looking for the mixture to thicken and darken a little. Watch the heat on the bottom of the pan though – I had to lift the saucepan off a few times to moderate the temp.

Take the pan off the heat and drop in the white chocolate (200g) in small pieces and …you guessed it, stir til it’s melted through.

Pour your fudge into the slice pan. Mine ended up about 2cm thick all around. While it’s warm, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of good quality salt flakes over the fudge. I used pink Himalayan salt.

Leave the fudge to cool for an hour and then cover with glad wrap and put into the fridge.


one baby step


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I find it tough to stay positive through the drudge of my real-life workday. Staying mindful of what I want that would be better for me gets a little lost in the knee-jerk required to fix the perpetual drama of the day. And none of which adds to me achieving my goal for a more inspired life.

So this morning, I began with deciding on one small step I can do today that keeps my mind out of the humdrum and reminds me of my bigger picture. I plan to do it at lunchtime so it’s scheduled and is something I’m now looking forward to. Usually any break I take out of the office involves crossing off a chore on the to do list.

What’s your one step on the road to what you really truly want? Big dreams come true one little piece at a time. Chip away at it.

queenslanders curse – melanoma


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You know that little freckle on your lower inside calf? On the part of your leg visible when you sit cross-legged on the ground? The bit you hardly ever put sunscreen on because you wear long skirts and work in an office and are really only out in the sun when you’re walking to and from public transport on your weekday commute? Yeah, let’s talk about that one.

When you go to your yearly skin cancer clinic scan (and you DO GO TO A YEARLY SCAN, RIGHT?) and you strip down to your undies and get gawped over by a specialist – make sure they look at it if they don’t catch it themselves. My Doc caught it. And it came off that very same visit. A local anaesthetic needle and a few minutes razoring off a piece of me for biopsy and come back in a week for the results.

What you probably won’t expect is a phone call the very next afternoon rescheduling your follow up to a “surgery timeslot because it’s obviously cancer”. Faaaaarrrrk. Don’t do that, Receptionists. Don’t say that.

So you excuse yourself from your open plan desk and rush to an empty meeting room to ask for more info as you madly text your go-to friend who texts back saying find out more info. Then leave your workplace. Just leave. Talk to your doctor on the commute home and be assured if it was seriously bad cancer, he’d have you back in that day to cut it out.

Spend your week staying calm. Rely on the doctor. Heal your biopsy site and journal your heart out.

Go to your surgery, driven by your go-to friend who knows to talk to keep your mind off things. Stay cool while you get needled, carved and stitched. Make small talk about the embroidery skills of the Doc you’re trusting. Limp out. Keep your leg up for a few days. Look after yourself and know that whatever the next results say, that if further action is required, KNOW that you’ll do it. Whatever it takes.

It’s better to know, ladies and gentlemen. It’s better to be checked, have some news and deal with it, than it is to have a nagging worry in the back of your mind and avoid it. Living with your head up your butt isn’t living.

It’s always better to know. Always.

banana sultana & oat balls of happiness


I just made these lovely little snack pieces. The original recipe was posted here by Not Quite Nigella.

Plump up 1/2 cup of sultanas in some hot water. I also rehydrated some cranberries. Mash up two ripe bananas in a bowl and add in 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and about 3 teaspoons of agave syrup (for sweetness). Mix in the sultanas with this to get a wet mix. Roll into balls and roll these in more oats and coconut. Voila – healthy snacks for the working week.


the end of mango season


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Another summer of homegrown goodness, and it’s all come to its inevitable end. No more mangoes. All gone. The last few have been chopped up for one last day of snacking but the rest must be frozen for posterity. Cryogenic mango will save the day in the months to come. – the trick is to use them wisely.