Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

HaPpY HaLLowEEN!

It's Halloween! It's Halloween! The moon is full and bright

And we shall see what can't be seen On any other night. Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls, Grinning goblins fighting duels

Werewolves rising from their tombs, Witches on their magic brooms

In masks and gown we haunt the street

And knock on doors for trick or treat

Tonight we are the king and queen, For oh tonight it's Halloween! 

Jack Prelutsky 


 BHG

WiShIng eVeRyOnE The HaPpIesT aNd sPooKieST HalLowEEn....hAvE a piEce oF TaMrA DaViS's PuMpkin pIe fOr Me!





Best  wishes,
Natasha In Oz 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

Yippee it's Friday!

Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

I love Fridays as I'm sure most people do. Here are my top 5 reasons why I love Fridays:

1. I can sleep in on Saturday morning
2. Cook's night off! We normally have fish and chips, pizza or indian take-out for dinner (or even better, like tonight, we go to Grandma and Grandpa's house!) 
3. My favourite renovating shows are on TV
4. I can have a glass of wine and relax...no homework to check, no school bags to pack, no gym bags to find...bliss!
5.It's Foodie Friday!

Thank you to Michael at Designs by Gollum for hosting this weekly foodie event. Not only do people share some amazing recipes but they post the most stunning pictures too. I can't wait to get my new camera!

Today I would like to share a recipe for Strawberry cake. I love strawberries and we seem to have an abundance of them at the moment and they are so sweet and juicy. I had so many at one stage though, that I knew I had to eat them quickly or they would go, well, yucky. So I tried to find some recipes for a strawberry cake but they all required packet cake mix and strawberry jello mix and I had neither of these things. Finally I just adapted a recipe I already had for a banana cake and here it is...

First, I preheated the oven to 325/170 degrees.


I wanted to use my heart shaped tin so I lined it with baking paper and sprayed it with oil just in case.

I placed about 2 cups of strawberries that had been cleaned and hulled in a microwave safe dish with 1/4 cup of water and zapped them for about 2 minutes on medium heat. These measurements are not accurate because I used a very large punnet of strawberries that I purchased from the markets a few days before.

I then put 3 cups self-rising wholemeal flour, 3/4 cup white chocolate chips and 1cup of white sugar in a mixing bowl with 1/2cup of vegetable oil and mixed these ingredients together.  When the strawberries had cooled down a little I added those to the mixture along with 3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and 4 large beaten organic eggs. After mixing everything together I poured the batter into the tin.

Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

Here is a random picture of my coffee cup...my kids bought it for me for Christmas one year.

Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

I baked the cake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes...you always have to check these things yourself...I tend to use the old "stick the skewer in the middle of the pan" trick but many people favour the "top springs back when gently pressed with your fingertips" method.

When cooked to perfection I let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

Then I placed the cake on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, top side up.

This cake needed to be shared-it was huge-way to big for my little family of 4. So I packed it up to take to my parent's house to share it with my family.

It would have been delicious with some frosting of some kind but I just iced it with a basic icing made with powdered sugar and water and covered it with more strawberries and served it with vanilla bean ice-cream. The cake was still a little warm so the icing didn't stick, but I really suggest serving it warm.
Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday


“Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.”    

William Allen Butler (US Lawyer and writer) 


Strawberry Cake ~ Foodie Friday

We shared this strawberry cake between 6 adults and 4 children and look at what was left at the end of the night....I don't want to boast but it really was yummy!

It was so nice to see you today-thanks for visiting me in my little corner of the world Down Under. See you over at Designs by Gollum for some more foodie delights!

Best wishes for a happy weekend.

Natasha In Oz 

Please join me each weekend for the Say G'day Saturday Linky Party!
You can also visit me at PINTERESTTWITTERGOOGLE+,


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award and a tablescape

Welcome dear friends to NatashainOz.com Thank you so much for stopping by today-it's so lovely to see you!

A few days ago I was given The Kreativ Blogger award by Ange  from Signed by Ange. Thank you so much Ange- this award really means a lot to me as a new/learner blogger. Your beautiful blog is inspiring and I love reading about your life in France.  

Signed by Ange  is truly gorgeous ( I even try to read the French bits!)....You must go visit!


Apparently the Kreativ Blogger Award comes with some rules. I have to:
1 Thank the person(s) who has given me the award (Thank you my dear Ange!)
2 Copy the logo and place it on my blog


3 Link to the person who has nominated me for the award
4 Name 7 things about myself that people might find interesting
5 Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers
6 Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate
7 Leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know they've been nominated....

Ok here we go....Some stuff about me:

1. I love my family. My husband is my best friend and my kids are my world.
2. I have 2 younger sisters and I am very bossy.
3. I love to travel and and my favorite places are Manhattan, Beverly Hills (I LOVE LOVE the Farmers Markets and the Grove over there), Honolulu, London, Paris and Singapore.
4.I love reading the horoscopes every day - I am a Scorpio.
5. I am addicted to blogging. Even though I haven't actually met the people/bloggers that I visit I really feel as though I have made some wonderful friends in the blogging world. This is the best thing about blogging for me.
6. Every year I start playing Christmas carols in October and I put up our Christmas tree in the first week of November.
7.My favorite dim sum/yum cha dish is chicken's feet. 

And now, I would like to "tag" the following bloggers for the 'Kreativ Blogger' award. I must say that I found it very difficult to pick only seven as so many bloggers have inspired me, guided me and provided me with hours of entertainment and a wealth of wisdom.

Thank you of course first to Ange and thanks also to....

Nat from Girls are made of...
Brismod from Fun and VJs
Lori from Life as Lori
Ange from Chair Up
Julie from Working on a Dream
Mimi from In the Middle of Nowhere
Linda from Coastal Charm

Now to my Tablescape entry for  Between Naps on The Porch's  weekly adventure into table settings. Thanks Susan!

I haven't actually set my table this week as I am busy re-organing rooms, cupboards etc to accomodate some guests! Our dearest and wonderful friends from Ohio are coming to spend 2 weeks with us over Christmas and I am SO excited. We have spent some wonderful Christmases with them over the years (one of them was truly white!) so I really want to spoil them and make them feel at home. I am now decorating their bedroom and decided to create a special bedside table for them.


I don't want to clutter it but I wanted to make sure it looked special with a few added Aussie touches.



This framed picture is of the Brisbane observatory
 

 

Not an Australian timepiece but they deserve something beautiful like this Waterford crystal clock form Ireland.


I think it looks pretty cozy at night...
 


The picture on the note pad is a reproduction of "Male and Female Goanna" by R Saunders


Don't worry, I will change the flowers before they arrive! Maybe I can find something that won't make them sneeze like some Eucalyptis.


I hope they will like it!

Thanks again to everyone for visiting today - don't forget to go and visit my lovely Kreativ blogger friends!


Best wishes and Happy Halloween to all!
Natasha in Oz.

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam,
May luck be yours on Halloween.
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Welcome to another "Outdoor Wednesday"

Today is...."Outdoor Wednesday", a linky party hosted by Susan from A Southern Daydreamer.  Thanks so much, Susan, for hosting this special "show and tell" event. I love looking at all the other postings and at the moment I particularly like the posts from America; it is so amazing at this time of year because while I am posting pictures of sunshine others are posting pictures of snow! If you would like to see what other people have posted please click HERE.

I have only participated in this event twice and my first posting was all about Spring . Spring time in Australia is normally spectacular, evident in this picture from my Spring posting of the Jacaranda tree in our front yard:


However, the weather here has been a bit strange lately. We are in the midst of another drought so many plants are flowering out of season.We also experienced some very bad dust storms so the storms we had the other day were indeed a blessing. The problem is, the sky is still grey and big black clouds are constantly hovering overhead but we haven't had any more rain.

Look how grey the sky is-doesn't the Jacaranda tree look sad today?


I just wish those grey clouds would go away for a while so we can have some of that gorgeous Spring-time weather again! Come on sun, you can do it.....



Oh no....don't go away again.....


Well, I guess the sun won't be coming out today! Maybe tomorrow...

Happy (Outdoor) Wednesday to everyone.

Best wishes,
Natasha In Oz 

Each season has its own wonder, its own special place, and purpose in the pattern of creation. (Source unknown)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A good day

Today is a very good day....

Today I read that a code of conduct has been established as part of a national strategy on body image. A report has been prepared by a government-appointed national advisory group on body image. 

The group is chaired by former Cosmo editor Mia Freedman and includes, amongst others, model, television producer and wife of Lachlan, Sarah Murdoch.

This new code will be urging the use of healthy weight models, realistic and natural images of people and disclosure when images of people have been digitally manipulated. 

As a mother of a teen girl and tween boy this is very good news, especially when my kids recently saw this frightening image that was used for a Ralph Lauren advertisement which I retrieved from the Huffington post website:


And just last week, Ralph Lauren was again in the press, this time with the English paper The Telegraph sharing an image of model Valentina Zelyaeva. The image appeared in a shop in Sydney and on the clothing label's Australian website, with her waist digitally squeezed to appear impossibly skinny ....

                                  

Oh dear....                                                            


How refreshing and wonderful then to see the beautiful and NON digitally enhanced Murdoch, on the front cover of the Australian Women's Weekly . She agreed to remain untouched when editor Helen McCabe asked if a completely non-airbrushed photo could be used for the front cover. The Courier Mail reported that Murdoch said "It makes me mad that we can't embrace the beauty of ageing, because we're all going to do it."

Have a look...
 
I am sure that this is not going to be the norm with celebs but this little "baby step", as Editor McCabe called it, is certainly a good start in trying to help counter "the unhealthy epidemic" of negative body image that affects so many people. 

Yes indeed, this is a very good day!

Best wishes, 
Natasha In Oz.

Beauty isn't worth thinking about; what's important is your mind.  You don't want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head.  ~ Garrison Keillor 
 


Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Kitchen!

Today is Metamorphosis Monday with Susan from Between Naps on the Porch. Susan's "linky"parties have become my favourite parts of the week (she kindly hosts my other favourite event "Tablescape Thursday") and I really appreciate the opportunities that she gives to new bloggers like me to discover new blogging friends and to share ideas-Thank you so much Susan!

I am really excited to be posting another few pictures of our new kitchen. You might be able to see from the before and after photos why this part of the kitchen is one of favourite parts of the whole renovation.

As you can see there are 2 windows in the first photo; the window on the left was the one I posted last week (it is now adorned with gorgeous new shutters). The window on the right is my problem area; I hardly ever opened this window because so it was too jammed and it was also hard to access to clean properly.

Excuse the mess...




So we decided to make a feature of the space.....have a look at the transformation!

That window is till there...aaraggghhh please get rid of it! Let's just put some glass there and voila!

Some new cabinets are born....



How's this for a metamorphosis!



 

 Oh how I love my kitchen!

Thanks so much for visiting today and if you would like to see some more amazing transformations make sure you stop by Susan's place!

Best wishes for a lovely week,
Natasha In Oz 
If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pink Ribbon cupcakes

Welcome friends to Natasha in Oz!

Today I am not actually sharing one of my own recipes but I am posting  gorgeous pictures of Pink Ribbon cakes! There are so many companies raising money for breast cancer research I thought it would be nice to try and support the cause by buying a cupcake!

Here are some yummy pictures to inspire you....

Look at these gorgeous pink ribbon sprinkles from The pink ribbon shop! The  breast cancer ribbon mix includes pink ribbons in two different shades of pink with small cream-colored jimmy sprinkles.







Pink Ribbon Cupcake Pops by Love From the Oven







And finally, the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York is selling pink Ribbon cupcakes with 50cents from every cake being donated to Susan G Komen for the cure.

.
Image from here


I will be cooking up a storm this weekend as it is my Mum's birthday on Monday and we are having a big family party on Sunday. I hope to share one of my recipes next week.




Best wishes until next time,

Natasha In Oz

Please join me each weekend for the Say G'day Saturday Linky Party! You can also visit me atPINTERESTTWITTERINSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK!


Women agonize... over cancer; we take as a personal threat the lump in every friend's breast.  ~Martha Weinman Lear, Heartsounds

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Pink Tablescape!

Welcome friends to Natasha in Oz! Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting me in my little corner of the world Down Under.

In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I decided to go pink for today's tablescape post which I will be linking to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch.


I have used the same pink napkins and Noritake crockery that I used last week but have added some more pink accents with the tablecloth and some little pink treasures that I used as decorations.



The beautiful lillies were given to me by my sister and brother-in-law and the pink tipped cactii ( I don't know its correct botanical name-sorry) came from my garden.


 




I really love our Noritake dinner set. We got each piece from family and friends as wedding gifts.


As usual Susan from Between Naps on the Porch is kindly hosting the tablescape event and I am sure there will some amazing Halloween-inspired tables to view.

Susan's post today is particularly interesting because she has offered some really great advice, advice which could have been written just for me! You see I only have 3 dinner sets and as I was setting this table I thought to myself, "Gee this is going to get boring using the same old dinner sets every few weeks." Susan addresses this very issue and has posted some excellent examples of mixing and matching-you must check it out!

Thanks to everyone for visiting today and thanks also to the wonderful people who have posted comments, advice and hints. I am still learning many things about blogging ( just this week I learnt about feeds but then I also somehow deleted a comment! And what is HTML???) but I am having the best time making some wonderful new friends in cyberspace!

Best wishes,
Natasha.

Early detection is key....if I hadn't found my lump early, I don't know what would have been. I am still here and I want to encourage women to do that on a regular basis - Olivia Newton-John         
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