Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stunning Beach House in North Narrabeen

This Beach House is perhaps one of my favourite on Sydney's Northern Beaches.  Beautifully finished and presented, with all the gorgeous coastal icons you would expect from the best. Louvre windows, black butt flooring, ceiling fans and plantation shutters, a stone clad fire place, window seating and smart stone kitchen bench tops including an island bench.  There is even a walk in pantry with work bench, for the discerning cook.  

The large north facing backyard featuring a pool, and extensive decking, all overlooked by a lovely balcony to the rear of the house, complete this home as a wonderful package, which would suit any sector of the market from families with kids, to retirees.  You have to see this one.  I promise you will find it hard to leave.  For all her details and a floor plan look here.

Hope your week is travelling well.

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Feathered Nest Friday

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream

It's that time of the year again, when it's a race between us and the cockatoos to get to these little organic sun kissed orange bombs first.  The cockatoos got most of them, but we got more than enough to hand over many bags to the neighbours and have enough for ourselves, and not to know what to do with them all. It's reminiscent of the time mum used to fill up my dolls pram with lemons.  They came from our lemon tree, which is now sadly a shadow of its former self, due to 45 years of borer attack and just plain old age.  Mum and I would walk around the neighbourhood handing them out to anyone who was interested and in those days, interested they were.  They are the same streets and by and large the same neighbours, but I did it this year with my daughter and plastic bags, which are sadly more readily available than in the 1970's. 

To think the orange tree had its inception in a pip dropped by either bird or human many moons ago.  Consequently, the orange tree that resulted at my mother's back door by pure luck, has given us so much over the years in good old fashion food production.

The oranges are not as sweet as shop bought ones, but I love them, because they are completely guilt free in terms of additives.  I can happily grate the rind into an array of dishes, as they have never had a thing on them except rain water and sunlight.  So no chemicals what so ever.

But what to make?  I have been adding oranges to all manner of dishes at the moment.  This one turned out to be Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream.  Berries are not really in season at the moment, so I used frozen berries, which I think are great and very reasonably priced.  I am also love love loving rolled oats right now.  It's amazing how my winter palate demands them.  I am addicted to porridge at the moment and I will bring you my breakfast recipe soon.  It is to die for and  that is saying something, as I have never regarded myself as much of a porridge eater.  It sure is helping me loose weight too, because it is so filling.

Look at all that superb lusciousness.

Mixed Berry and Orange Crumble With Coconut Cream
serves 6

700g or 4 cups frozen mixed berries
1/3 cup brown sugar
Juice of one orange.  
1/3 cup plain (all purpose flour)
60g or 3 tablespoons butter chopped
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of pecans chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Rind of one orange finely grated.
Coconut cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180 C/350F
In a pan over a medium heat, place berries, orange juice and  1/3 cup sugar. Heat through to allow the sugar to melt and the fruit to defrost.
Decant into 6 x 1 cup ramekins, so they are 3/4 full of berries and juice. 

To make the crumble, combine the remaining ingredients except the coconut cream, in a bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the ingredients to form a mixture resembling bread crumbs.  Distribute the crumble mixture evenly amongst the ramekins.
Place on a baking tray and cook for 25 minutes, or until crumble mixture has lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling through.

I served the crumbles with coconut cream with a few berries whizzed through it, which actually was not necessary.  Coconut cream on it own would be just as good.

This is quite a healthy, nutritious and filling dessert.  I hope you'll try it and let me know how it goes.

One of my friends is now referring to me as 'The Orange Fairy', I guess it's better than being known as the green one......... ha ha.. 

For more of my simple recipes have a look here and here.

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Metamorphosis Monday

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Cute Beach Cottage in Avalon

A Cute Beach Cottage in Avalon

If I was a single girl or a DINK with around $1,000,000 to spend, this cute beach cottage would be it.  Beautifully presented, private and north facing, this open plan cottage ticks all my boxes.
Positioned in a sort after area in between Avalon and Whale Beach, this little beauty is worth a look.  Particularly if you were thinking about buying a unit.  Why do that, when you can have this gorgeous abode for about the same money?

Go here for her details plus a floor plan.

Have a great weekend Beach Dwellers.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tips on How to Have A More Affordable Ski Holiday in Australia

High Noon  Super Trail  Thredbo

Hello Beach Dwellers
A few of you who have never skied before, have asked for some tips 
 on how to have a more affordable ski holiday in Australia.  If you are purely here for those tips, scroll down.

The Pool and Spa at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel

First up is my personal experience of the early 2014 ski season.  It sure is shaping up to be a memorable one and when it's like that, I want to be amongst it.

The  shot above and below by and large, define our fabulous 2014 ski holiday. There was me, trying to keep up with a kid who thinks he's bullet proof.  I also realised the mantle has passed to the next generation of skier in our family.  A faster one, who is currently short on style and big on guts. He was always ahead of  me on the slopes and one thing is for sure. I saw more of the back of this kid's head the whole holiday, than I ever have before.   Note the time on the clock.  Yes that would be 8am.  The first lift didn't open to the public until 8.30am, and we would be the ones waiting in the queue to get the first chair up each morning. We also skied to practically the last lift most days.  In consequence, I have been sleeping in the whole second week of the holidays, just to catch up.

  For my boy, the style will come, as it always does with mileage under your skis, but the confidence he gained on this latest trip was priceless.

In my efforts to ski as though I am still 25, I did this to my head. I apparently broke my neck skiing in 1991, although I didn't know until it had healed, so I guess that's an improvement and I should be thankful.  The cut being on my face though, was a bit of a bummer, as I don't need anymore scars or wrinkles on there than I already have.  The Strei Strips may have been an over kill type placebo, but I wasn't taking any chances and I now have more empathy for a little kid who needs a band aide for a cut, when it will clearly make no practical difference at all.

Although the fall that caused that cut, psyched me out for an hour or so, it wasn't as bad as it looks and has healed nicely.  I am hoping once it fades, I will forget it ever happened.  Both the Beach House Brat and the Ski Patrol guys were lovely and helped me get my shizz together on the mountain.

 Having skied since I was 4 years old, I practically never fall over, but kept doing so a lot these holidays.  It was out of character, so I went and changed my hire skis and that made little change.  I finally realised my skis were probably too short and I couldn't see the front of them over my goggles and kept crossing the tips.  I kept doing the full face plant and hitting my fore head.  Until that time, I had resisted the new trend towards adults wearing helmets.  My theory was that I have survived for 44 years without one, so why do I need one now, but as a result of three head hits, now I am a convert.  Also next time, I will be adding a few centimetres to my skis, in the hope that it will make a change for the better.

Up until the head injury, the Biggest Beach House Brat was hot on my heals.  After that I told him to go ahead and he just waited for me at the bottom.  Having your kids enjoy a sport which has defined so much of your life, is such a pleasure and the fact you can do it together, makes me very happy. Which brings me to my next point and why you are really here.  For tips on how to get your family into skiing in a more affordable way.

The truth is skiing is an expensive sport.  But don't let that put you off.  I can honestly say I have had some of the best times of my life engaging with the lifestyle, so it is definitely worth exploring, if you have the slightest inclination to do so.

There is no doubting the financial costs involved, but there are a few tips you can use to make it more affordable. 

1.  Choose to go in the shoulder season.  In Australia this is June or September.  As I said in my last post, June can be very unpredictable in terms of quantity and quality of snow (this year is unusual).  So try the first or second week of September.  The lift tickets and accommodation rates drop by about 30 % at that time and so do the crowds.  Yay.

2. Wait until the snow falls before you book.  Which ever way you look at it, even in the shoulder season, for a family of four (2 adults and 2 kids), you will need to budget at least $1000 per day if staying on snow.  That will include lift tickets, lessons for the kids, accommodation, ski hire, park entry and food.  If you are going to be spending that much,  you want to be sure there is some reasonable snow in the resort before you even put your hand in your pocket. 

3.  Check out the last minute accommodation deals on wotif and search for hot deals in  resorts such as, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham (Victoria) Perisher or Thredbo (NSW).

The Winterhaus at Thredbo Fire Side
Mount Hotham has a Hot Deals page here.

There's also a good Spring skiing deal (from 31 August 2014) for Thredbo, where 1 kid stays and skis free per full paying adult (Maximum 2 adults per booking). It appears the adult ski lift passes are also included in the accommodation package.  The package starts from $354 per night (must stay 7 nights) and is slightly more expensive for the 3 and 5 night packages.  That is fantastic value and details are here.

If possible, opt for packages that include full board, as dining out in ski resorts can be very pricey and lately, a bit hit and miss. Much of the accommodation in Perisher and a lodge called Boali in Thredbo, offer breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your accommodation package.  We stay at Boali by choice, as the food component makes it very good value for money.

We also love the Lodge style accommodation, because there are usually other kids to play with yours and interesting people to talk to in the communal lounge area, fire side. 

Thredbo also has savings of up to 20% on Winter lift, lesson and rental products, if you purchase online, 7 or more days in advance.

This year we stayed at Winterhaus, which was good as well, and offers a full breakfast in the accommodation package.

At the Ice Bar at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel for some Apres Ski
4. You can also rent a self contained apartment and take all your own food.  There are small supermarkets on snow, but as you can imagine they are quite expensive.  So bring everything you need with you.  If we stay self contained, I always pre make all the food and freeze it, as the last thing you feel like doing after a day on the slopes, is feeding the family.

5.  Search for more affordable resorts such as Mount Selwyn or Charlotte Pass.  The skiing is not as advanced as the more popular resorts and Mount Selwyn has no snow making, but if there is good natural snow, these resorts can be a great place for a family skiing holiday. 

Mount Selwyn has a "New to the Snow?" page here.

6. Alternatively choose to stay in feeder towns, which require you to drive into the resort daily.  Towns such as Jindabyne ( NSW 25 minutes ), Cooma (NSW 1 Hour) or Bright (Vic 1 hr 20 mins) or Mount Beauty (40 mins Victoria).  They are a shortish drive into the snow, but the accommodation is more affordable.  Personally I think there is nothing better than staying on snow to get the full atmosphere of the alpine village and I have always regretted staying down the mountain when I have.  It's a classic case of "You get what you pay for."

The Station Resort in Jindabyne is aptly named.   The ski tube, which goes to Perisher from The Alpine Way was supposed to begin from this resort, hence the name.  In typical half hearted fashion, that part of the line was never constructed, but the budget resort is still there.  Check here for any good deals.  They currently have an accommodation package that allows kids to stay free in June and September if accompanied by two paying adults. And mid week rooms for $99 per night, subject to availability.

7. There are also camping options, such as the Jindabyne Holiday Park or tent and campervan style camping at Thredbo Diggings.  Remember that you will not have drying room facilities in a tent, which may mean climbing into wet ski gear the next morning. Also if you are in a tent, the weather may defeat you, so you have to retreat to the car to sleep.  A BYO camper van would be best in high Winter at the Thredbo Diggings.

8. Rent your skis in Cooma, Berridale or Mount Beauty rather than on snow.  The benefit is they are more affordable, but if you want to change your boots or any other part of the equipment, it can be a complete hassle.  There are plenty of places to rent in the feeder towns, just look out for the signs.  I also suggest renting your snow chains here.  In the Winter months they are required to be carried and produced on demand, in the Kosciousko National Park, by all non 4WD vehicles during the ski season, which runs from June to October.

9.  As for ski clothing, I don't think you can go past Aldi's May sale.  The gear is fantastic quality and incredibly affordable. I also noticed today, Woolworths has a good range of Thinsulate parkers and ski pants ($30) on sale at very reasonable prices as well.

 I have also bought kids' ski suits at charity stores and garage sales for around $25 for an entire ski suit.  It can be expensive to set yourself up at first, with goggles, ski gloves and thermals, but once you have it all, it can be used again and again.  At Thredbo they want you to use helmets, so they included them for free in your ski hire package.  Try to borrow what you can, if you are trying skiing for the first time.

10.  Instead of booking for a week, try for 5 nights and four days skiing. Mid week from Sunday night and departing Friday, is a good option and the midweek crowds can be lighter too. This is probably enough to give you a good taste and to determine whether you are going to continue with the sport.

11.  Divide and conquer:  That's what I did this year.  It is much more affordable for one parent to take one kid at a time.  This year it just worked out that way for us.   One child was staying at grandma's for the first week of the school holidays, attending an acting course.  Mr Beach House had to work and my eldest and I were at a loose end.  I thought what the hell, the snow is fantastic and it's only money.  I knew we'd have a fabulous time and I would worry about the details later.  I guess it's a matter of priorities and if you really want something, you just have to make it happen.  For me it's all about the experience, I would rather go without new clothes and all the other trappings of life to have a ski holiday and fantastic time with my kid.

12. A great tip is to accept that you are going to be spending serious money, but know that you are also going to have serious fun.  My dad always said that the difference between a good and a bad holiday was about $500.  He's been dead for 15 years, so it's a bit more than that now, but I say 'yes' to that and why not?  If you want it bad enough it's there for the taking.

The Black Bear in Bar is great for some Schnapps

A much needed pit stop

I hope these tips help you to get on snow as it is sooooooo worth it.
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Weekend Rewind

Monday, July 7, 2014

Thredbo Top to Bottom

Top to Bottom at Thredbo

When there are predictions of 70 cm snow fall over night, followed up by another 50 odd centimetres the next day, in Australia, I start to sit up and take notice.  That is northern hemisphere type precipitation and most unusual for Winter Down Under.  Often at this time of year in Aus, it is just grass with dribbles of man made snow beating a path from the top of the mountain to the bottom, if you are lucky.  In my 40 plus years experience, of skiing in Australia, the good natural snow usually comes in the last week of July, or first week in August and if it hasn't come by then, it's not coming.  However, things were looking very very different this year. 

Do you remember 1981?  I recall catching Ramshead chairlift through a snow cave at middle station and the liftie literally laugh crying as he dug, that he was "Never going to get out of the here".  It was fabulous and then in 1982, there was absolutely no snow and we cancelled and went to Surfers Paradise instead.  Well with some serious low pressure systems still beating down on southern Australia, 2014 is shaping up as another 1981.  Here's hoping anyway.

Before I booked, I was following all the NSW and Victorian resorts' websites all day and I could stand it no longer.  I got on wotif, found some reasonable on snow accommodation for 5 nights, pressed the 'Buy Now' button and we were away.  The room was described as 'Budget', which meant it was a dog box with a share bathroom, free wifi and a full cooked breakfast, but under these snow conditions it's amazing how happily I reverted back to my ski bum days of old.  If the snow was going to be good, who cares what the accommodation is like, was how I was thinking.

With conditions this good, it was time to get the snow chains out.  This year with the odds being high that I would actually have to fit them, I decided to see if I could do so by myself.  Mr Beach House had to work and would not be joining us on this adventure.  I got them on by myself, but it had been several cars since we had used them and clearly they didn't fit. That bit was easily fixed by hiring some that did in Cooma, but I sweated on the concept of having to fit them alone in blizzard conditions, half way up the mountain whilst in charge of my inquisitive 11 year old son at the same time.  I have always been a lucky person and although chains had to be used by other skiers all of Saturday and Sunday morning, we arrived on Sunday afternoon and got through chain free.  Although it was still snowing, the road had been cleared by then........ Phew.  Getting into our car space was less easy and the lovely lodge guy where we were staying, spent an hour digging us in, whilst I unloaded the luggage in a tricky double parked manoeuvre, scrambling over snow drifts in inappropriate shoes.  I didn't care. I was there and it felt good.

  The Beach House Brat ran off to play in all the snow as soon as we arrived, without helping.  I told him in no uncertain terms, that would not be happening when we had to cart all the stuff back up the hill upon leaving.

Before we left Sydney, I also tried on my mum's vintage European apres boots from the 70's.  I used to hate these as a kid, but it's amazing how handy they were in a very slippery Thredbo for the week. I was thankful I had resolved to toss them in the car at the last minute.

This was what we arrived to on Sunday afternoon.

This is what we woke up to on Monday morning. With a big high pressure system sitting across most of Australia, the beautiful weather continued.  What was delivered for the week was 4 beautiful blue bird days, with fabulous snow and sunshine.

This is just a taste of the shots I took. 

Note the steri strips on my forehead.  Next up!!!!! How I got those, plus a whole lot more.

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