Saturday, May 9, 2015

No Bake Clinkers Slice

Earlier this week, via Facebook, I discovered a very dangerous blog called Bake Play Smile.  The particular link was for Lucy's (the author's) "Easy No-Bake Bars & Slices".  The name says it all, really.  Dangerous, I say... dangerous!  Her blog should come with a warning label... a big flashing neon warning label!

I had to (yes, had to!) print off all the slice recipes attached to the link so that I can attempt them all myself.  I will not be weighing myself before, and definitely not after, making all the slices.

I loved Clinkers growing up, and still do, so of all the slices, the Clinkers Slice stood out and became the obvious pick for the first slice to attempt and here it is:

I'm pretty proud of myself, seeing as I  only realised as I went to make the slice that I didn't have the right equipment for the second step.  Most of our stuff is in storage at the moment, while we wait to move into our new house at the beginning of next month.  My food processer is included in the items in storage!  Not to be discouraged, I decided to (no)bake on and do it by hand.  Unfortunately I didn't even have a rolling pin I could use to crush the biscuits, so it did take a little more time and energy, but I got there in the end, albeit with more chunks of biscuit than is probably ideal!  Then the clinkers... thankfully I had put my good Global knife set aside to be with me at this temporary accommodation, or else I would have been in all sorts of pain.  As it was, my hand was sore hand chopping all the required Clinkers (they are hard little lollies when you start chopping them... I guess that goes with the name ('clinker' has a number of meanings, including cement!).  I finally managed to finish them and it was very satisfying tipping them into the bowl, ready for the next step!

The rest of the steps were a piece of cake, thankfully!

In addition to Step 7, I also added coconut oil to the chocolate, as Lucy suggests in her "How to Cut Perfect Slices" post on her blog.  Boy, that coconut oil smelt delicious!  And it worked a treat, so I'm very glad I took the time to buy and add it to the slice.

After I left the slice in the fridge overnight, plus much of today as I was out and about all day, I let it sit for 20 minutes before attempting to cut the slice (I'm very good at following directions exactly!).  I don't think I did too badly, but need a bit of practice to get it even prettier.  Having said that, it's the best looking slices I've ever cut!

In regards to taste, it's very yummy, but I'm disappointed that I can't taste the Clinkers as much as I thought I would.  That could be because of the disbursement not being as thorough as it would have been, had I crushed them in a food processor like I was suppose to.  I look forward to making them again once we're in the new house and I have my food processor back.  In the meantime, this slice will not be left uneaten!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grandma Ellie's Legacy

A long time ago (3 years ago, almost to the day!), I received a precious parcel from my aunty in the USA.  Having never really knowing my grandma (she died when I was very young, and lived in the States, while I lived in Australia before she died), it was a wonderful connection to her and I felt closer to her.  Previous to receiving the package, my aunty had also given me Grandma Ellie's recipe tin.  One of my favourite recipes in the tin was her brownie recipe, which is so easy to make and everyone who tries it, falls in love with it.

Included in the list of people falling in love with it, is a dear friend of mine.  She is a chef by trade and has recently started a new job at a cafe attached to a nursery in Cairns (beautiful cafe; if you're in Cairns, go and check it out: Vines at Limberlost!).  So, you might be wondering what this has to do with Grandma Ellie's brownies... well, my friend loved the brownies so much, she asked me for the recipe (which she won't share with anyone else in the cafe - they are her special items!), so that she could make them at the cafe.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to go in there on a day that she had made them, before we moved away from Cairns, but she did forward me a picture of them in the display cabinet, as she promised she would!

Although I call them Grandma Ellie's brownies, she insisted on calling them Nelle's Brownies.  In any case, I know what they are, and where they have come from, so this is very special to me.  I am so excited that Grandma's legacy shines through in these yummy brownies and it means so much to me that my friend insisted on having them in the cafe.

Apparently the brownies are "getting quite a reputation" at the cafe.  So, if you are in Cairns and can pop into the cafe, hopefully the brownies will be there in the display cabinet.  Order one, and know that you actually know the beautiful story behind the delicious dessert you definitely won't regret trying!

I'm Back, Baby!

So, it's been almost one year since I've posted on my blog.  And I stopped feeling guilty about it.  When I was blogging regularly, I had a lot more time on my hands.  But working 4 days a week, and a full time mum, wife and many other things, I realised that blogging just wasn't a priority, so I didn't even keep thinking about it, let alone feel guilty for not writing.

However, circumstances have changed and I'm hoping to start up my blogging again.

When I last wrote, I was living in Cairns, working for MAF.  My family and I are now living in Melbourne and I'm not working at all!  Big Spring took a call (he's a Lutheran Pastor) to a new position within the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA).  He's no longer a pastor of a particular parish, but a pastor involved in families, children and youth ministry Australia and NZ wide.  He was able to choose to be based out of Adelaide or Melbourne and with all of our families located in Victoria, it made sense that we chose to be based in Melbourne.  We moved down two weeks ago, today!  We are currently in temporary accommodation while the LCA go through the process of purchasing a manse (house) for us.  It's a little frustrating not having all our things (currently in storage), but we did get about 10 boxes of extra personal items to use while we are in this place (a fully furnished house), so it feels a little more like 'home'.

At this stage, I'm not looking to get back into a paid job.  I'm actually looking forward to being at home a lot more; I'll have more time for baking and experimental cooking, which I absolutely love doing, but wasn't able to as there just wasn't enough time or energy.  It also means that Little Spring will get the best of me, instead of a tired, busy, grumpy mummy after school.  I never felt that she got any quality time out of me.  I'd be getting home from work (picking her up from after school care on the way home) and just when she wanted to play with me, I'd more often than not have to decline as I needed to clean, cook dinner or collapse on the couch and just relax for a minute.  It wasn't ideal and I felt horrible.  But now, I can get a lot of that done during the day, ensuring that when she gets home from school, we can have quality time together.  And I just LOVE that and our relationship is blossoming more and more!

Basically, this means that, although I might not be blogging on a daily basis, I do hope I can blog more regularly than I have in this past year.

So, welcome back to me and more importantly, welcome back to my regular readers... however many or few that may be!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Perhaps a not-so-happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day isn't as easy for some as it is for others.  For many years I struggled with it, while we struggled to get pregnant.  Now that I'm a mum, it doesn't fill me with such dread, but I am acutely aware that this day will not be quite the celebration for everyone.

To the woman whose deepest desire is to be a mother, but can not fall pregnant;

To the mother who has a child who she had to say goodbye to too early;

To the child who has lost their mother;

To the mother who is separated from their child;

I know that there are no words to comfort you during this time, but I pray that you do find the peace you need today.

To the woman whose deepest desire is to be a mother, but can not fall pregnant, I pray that God grants you the desires of your heart and fills your womb with a baby.  If this is not God's will for your life, I pray that God gives you peace and comforts your heart.

To the mother who has a child who she had to say goodbye to too early, I pray that you are surrounded by people who understand your pain, who know that your beautiful child will always be in your heart and that your child can never be replaced.

To the child who has lost their mother, I pray that you find peace in your heart.  I pray especially to the child who's dealing with their first Mother's Day without their mother.

To the mother who is separated from their child I pray that whatever it is that is keeping you from your child, that God would work a miracle so you can see your child or at least be able to be in contact with them.

I know that I have not covered all scenarios that cause Mother's Day to be not so joyous for people, but you are still in my prayers.  I can not fully know how you must be feeling, and will not pretend to understand.  But I can and do pray for you; for those of you who I know, and for those of you who I do not know.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me  all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Girls' Weekend in Sydney Day 2

We all woke up on Day 2 with an adventure in mind... we were heading up to Channel 7 to look in on Sunrise being filmed live, with a hope to meeting the crew like we did last year.  We even had brought some gifts for them... a couple of souveniers from Cairns and framed limericks for each of them.  And we did get to meet them and present them with their gifts...

After Sunrise, we were then able to meet the lovely hosts of the Morning Show.  Larry and Kylie are always so friendly, but Kylie really made such a big fuss over the gifts and it just made us fall in love with her just that little bit more!  Don't worry, Larry was still his very charming self!

We then took advantage of our time in the city and did some shopping and lots of walking.  It was then time to get back to the hotel and prepare for the start of Colour 2014.  We had something very special organised for the first night!  Last year, we allocated colours to ourselves and used that as a bit of a theme and we decided to continue that again this year, but taking it up a notch!  One of our rooms became a hairdressing salon as we set up a process for colouring our hair!  The effect was pretty good, although I think my hair turned out more yellow than green!

These were our allocated seats for the night.  Unfortunately a little disappointing, being so very high up and right to the side, but we tried to make the most of it and decided to try our luck at the 'public' seating at the next session.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Girls' Weekend in Sydney Day 1

Last year 4 friends and I headed down to Sydney for the Hillsong Colour Conference, plus other adventures on a girls' weekend.  We had so much fun, that we decided to do it again, adding one more lady to our group!

Once again it was an amazing trip, which I can't wait to share with you here.  So, without further ado...

We excitedly set off on our big city adventure and were greeted by this limo for our transfer to the hotel:

We got dressed up for a lovely dinner out:

Following dinner was the highlight of the evening... off to see The Lion King stage show.  Here's what I wrote on FaceBook regarding that amazing evening...

Oh. My. Goodness! How am I ever going to get to sleep tonight? I'm on such a buzz from the Lion King. A-maz-ing. Like a childhood dream come true. Crying at the beginning in awe of the costumes and squealing with delight that where we were sitting (box seats!), is where the show started... One of the characters stood right beside us while the spotlight shone on him/us while they sang the opening 'credits'! A truly wonderful night that I will never ever forget. 
 An inundation of photos to follow, but I can't help it!  It was a magical night that I will never forget!

An unexpected surprise as part of the Box Seat seat experience!

An amazing view from our Box Seats!

I can't believe that one of my friends was actually able to capture this moment.  A little naughty, but I'm so grateful she got this picture!  This shows the very beginning of the show, with the character right there beside us (that's my head to the right!)

Some fun after the show... the Rafiki character is from the Madame Tussauds exhibit, not the real thing!

And that was the end of Day One in Sydney.  To start off on such a high, it was going to be hard to top that!

Stay tuned for further posts on our adventures in Sydney!

Scammer Warning 01

When I get scam emails, I get so angry.  Firstly, because they're actually trying to get my information illegally, to rip me off.  Secondly, and this is the worst, because someone innocent is going to fall for the scheme and have their identity and/or money stolen and that really gets me mad. So, I thought I would do something new on my blog and start to update you on scams I get, and point out why they are scams, to try and educate people and stop these scammers from succeeding in their shady business.

I have to say, these scammers are getting clever in their schemes.  Yesterday I received the following email (click on it to enlarge):

It looks pretty legitimate and I had to do a double-take when I first looked at it.  However, there were a number of things about this email that started to ring alarm bells in my head:

1. I never ordered either of these products.
2. The price for these products was too high to seem to be actual purchases.
3. I've never noticed the line on iTunes receipt before, talking about my account being hijacked.
4. No legitimate business ever asks you for financial data in an email.

So, instead of clicking on any of their links, I went to my online bank statement to see if any money had been taken from my account, supposedly to buy these products under my iTunes account.  The receipt date was 28th April, so there should have been an amount on my online statement within 2-3 days of this transaction.  There was none, so I was able to breathe easy knowing that no one had hacked into my iTunes account.

My next train of thought was getting angry with these people trying to scam innocent people.  This receipt looked like the real thing and it would be easy and understandable for people to fall for this.  I want to protect people from getting scammed, so please spread this post to everyone, to ensure they are aware.  Below is a legitimate email receipt from iTunes, with a "spot the difference" explanation underneath (again, click on it to enlarge it).

i. = iTunes
s. = scammer email

1. (not shown here).  The email address that sent the email:
  • i. was sent from an '' email address
  • s. was sent from a random email address (which I didn't think to get a copy of as an example before permanently deleting the email like I do for all scam emails)
2. Order number:
  • i. is different from the receipt number (in the subject line) and contains numbers and letters
  • s. is the same as the receipt number and does not contain letters
3. Billed To (1) (Address):
  • i. states my email address and current postal address
  • s. only states my email address
4. Date:
  • i. Titled: "Issue Date" and only has the date stated DD/MM/YY
  • s. Titled: "Receipt Date" and has the date stated MM/DD/YYYY and the time
5. Billed To (2) (Payment Type):
  • i. States the type of card used (i.e. MasterCard, Visa, AMEX) etc. with the last four digits of the card
  • s. States my email address
6. Heading:
  • i. "Tax Invoice"
  • s. "Receipt"
7. Headings of items purchased:
  • i. "Item" "Seller" "Type" "Unit Price"
  • s. "Item Number"  Description" "Unit Price"
8. End notes:
  • i. Does not not mention if your account has been hijacked and does not ask for personal/financial information
  • s. Gives a link to go to if you suspect your account has been hijacked and advises "you will be asked some specific questions about you and your financial data to prove you actually owned the account".  This line out of everything should set off the BIGGEST alarm bells.
There are some other differences at the bottom of the email, but the ones stated above are the major ones to look out for.

NB: Regarding number 4. and 6. The differences could be partly to do with whether you purchase in Australia or the USA.  The scammers will have used an American email to make up the receipt, so the title "Receipt" might be legitimate there and the date format used by them is in the American format.

Please pass this information around, especially to friends and family who are more vulnerable to these sorts of scams, who aren't very internet savvy.  Stop the scammers from succeeding!

Unfortunately this post is showing the scammers how to improve their emails in future, which I am sorry about doing.  However, if it stunts their success even a little in the meantime, then I feel I've done my job educating everyone on these scams.  Each time I get a scam email, I will be posting an update here on my blog.