Monday, October 31, 2011

Island Bench Entertaining for a Girls Night In


Just a quickie from me today.  We had a little shin dig here at the Beach House on Friday night.  I had the girls over for drinks and I have to say it was so much fun.  I primarily put that down to the lovely unpretentious company of my true friends, but also it was a little bit about the island bench in my kitchen.


I literally threw together a few platters and even though the photos don't show it, it was a kind of make your own baguette.  It worked wonderfully.  All the food was simple, but very fresh.  As the guests arrived, I threw a butterflied leg of lamb on the BBQ and just plated up everything else as the girls chatted around the bench.  I didn't miss a thing of this party and really enjoyed being part of my own party for the entire time.


The girls put together their own baguette.  I got a phone call the next day saying, 'I have just been down to the village to get some smoked salmon and a baguette, because I was craving it after last night.


For the lamb I made up a yogurt, mint and garlic dressing and also had a bought Bearnaise sauce option.  The greenery was snow peas sprouts.


After a light main meal, I cooked another batch of the French crepes I had made that morning for breakfast.  Get the recipe here.  Please trust me, these are so simple yet impressive.  Everyone wanted the recipe and I was able to say, "It's on the blog girls."



Love these girls, we all have young kids and some a little older and we have been through the wringer together.  We know most of each others secrets good and bad.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

 PS. Thanks to Mr Beach House for pouring the drinks, taking this photo and sticking around to be your charming self.   All the girls think you are lovely.....err hmmm.  They obviously don't know all my secrets do they darling ?...ha ha !!!!!!!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Breakfast at the Beach House


Well gals, if this ship's going down, we are jolly well going to eat well as it does.  I've been watching this lovely standard mulberry tree in my garden, through the seasons ever since we arrived at this little post war built cottage.   I have often tasted the berries in Spring, but never included them in my recipes.  Well yesterday dear reader, I got out there with my pearls and diamonds on and picked a little bowl of these sun kissed babes.  Mr Beach House assures me we are not quite up to selling my jewellery yet, but I'm keeping it close to my person just in case...... ha ha !!!!!


I believe the tree was planted by the previous owners of the Beach House, who were avid gardeners and I can only thank them from the bottom of my heart, as to the joy this lovely specimen has bought me over the years.  This is the tree that keeps on giving.  It is  a focal point of the garden and I have never done a thing to it to help it along.  I often gaze at it through my kitchen window with absolute pleasure though, if loving a plant has anything to do with its performance.


It is often a race between the birds and I, as to who gets the best berries, but this year they are just oozing with sweetness and are a great anti oxidant hit being such a deep red colour, so there's plenty for everyone.




Well as you know, we are currently short of a buck, although Mr BH assures me it is just a hick up, so I have stopped losing sleep over it, but we are not wasting a thing here. So, I decided to smother these little red bundles of joy all over our breakfast this morning and it was a real hit.


I made the French crepes from a recipe I obtained from an American blogger who has moved to France and is living the same dream I am pursuing.  She is a big American Blogger , whom I believe is able to fund her French life off of her blog......wow!!!!  You can find out about her story here at  designmom.com



I even got the Beach House Brats to go and pick a few leaves for the photo shoot, while I was cooking the crepes.

Crepes
Makes 12-16  thin crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Tblspn of Vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter, plus more for greasing the pan

Combine flour, salt,  and milk, then beat with a whisk until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, melted butter and vanilla. 
If you’ve got time, refrigerate for one hour and beat again before cooking.


Method

Put a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add tiny knob of butter or vegetable oil. Ladle about 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons batter in the skillet and swirl to coat in a thin layer. Dump any excess batter back into the bowl.
Once the batter’s dry on top (less than a minute), flip the crepe and cook about 15 seconds longer. The crepe should brown only slightly and should not become too crisp.
Repeat the process until you’ve used up all of the batter. Enjoy!

Adapted from a recipe by Ashlea Walter, who was guest posting at designmom that day. Find her at http://besquirrely.com Ashlea said that after making these crepes she would not go back to making American style  ones.  So I implore you to try them if you want to reach or maintain Domestic Goddess status at your place.



Man these crepes are easy and are sooooooooo good.  The Beach House Brats love them drizzled with a little honey.  But you know what?  I only had a mouth full cause I'm dieting aren't I !!!!  But there have been a few complaints around these parts lately about the lack of sweet stuff at the Beach House,  so in order to keep the troops happy  I put this together in literally 10 minutes.  There was even enough to make it into the school lunches.  I'm having a girls night in tonight with a few local girls I have met along the way through my kiddos and I think these are on the dessert menu.  So I'm off to get into party mode.  Have a great weekend.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Letter From France



Well there's been a break through. I finally realised why I was getting very little action on the house swap site I have joined. Instead of posting that we live in Sydney, I put in my suburb instead. That's because by some quirk of nature in Australia, when you write your address, you don't include the city in which you live. So I just wrote my suburb, then New South Wales (my State), and Australia. That's the funny thing about Australians, we assume that we are the centre of the universe, when the reality is that the majority of the planet knows nothing about us at all.  No wonder I wasn't getting any offers, as no one knew I was located in Sydney until they clicked on my profile, which as we all know in blog land, has to be pretty "sexy"  to even catch someone's interest.


So the inclusion of the fact I live in Sydney has immediately netted the desired result.  It was with great joy that I opened my email yesterday to a beautiful email in French, that went like this:

Cher Carolyn,

Nous sommes français, mon mari et moi aimerions aller dans votre pays. Nous serions intéressés par un échange de maison en 2012 C'est notre premier échange.
Nous arrivons a la cinquantaine et commencons a nous faire plaisir par des voyages
Nous sommes actuellement en congé sabbatique afin de visiter quelques pays et de nous faire de nouveaux amis.
Notre maison est très agréable à vivre. La région est magnifique et nous y mangeons bien . Vous pourrez visiter la Normandie qui est à moins de deux heures de Paris.
notre voiture est a votre disposition
Seriez vous interessé ? et si oui sur quelle période?
Nous attendons votre réponse avec impatiente.
Cordialement


My school girl French allowed me to understand most of the letter. Before responding, I checked the authors' profile and it said they only spoke French.  My French is terrible, as you will see below, but I thought it only courteous to write back in French and I want them to know how I feel and they possibly wouldn't understand if I wrote back in English, here's what I wrote:

Dear Brigette et Eric
Merci pour votre email sympa.  Nous sommes tres interesent rester dans votre maison.  Je voudrais Julliet/ Aout/ Septembre pour un de trios mois.

Mon Francais est tres malade.  Parlez vous Anglais?
A cet moment c'est difficile faire un decision.  Peut etre nous decidons en Janvier ou Fevrier.  Je veux discouter avec mon mari.
Cordialment
Carolyn
Sydney Australia


I would love to go to Normandy, I read a couple of wonderful blogs written from Normandy, so I know a little of the region.  I also got out the travel books and this is one awesome place.  It's known military history stretches for over 1000 years.  From the Norman conquests by the vikings, to the launching of the last invasion of English at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  To the D Day landings of 1944.


If that wasn't enough, there is the intense cultural history in terms of food and architecture.  It's only 2 hours from Paris and is located next to the sea.  Well who in her own right wouldn't want to live there for several months, if not a life time?


But the other thing that happened to me yesterday, was that I did Mr Beach Houses BAS.  For the uninitiated, that is the Business Activity Statement for the September quarter, which is basically then submitted to the Government  with a hefty tax cheque attached.  And that's the down side.  The bottom has dropped out of the boat building market.  Competition from  China, the fact that boats are a luxury item and the general economic downturn, has meant that our income has reduced by 75% this quarter, with no end in sight.  Going through the numbers yesterday really brought it home to me, that we are in trouble.  At the moment all we are doing is squirrelling together enough each week to pay our wonderful employee, who we so don't want to lose and putting food on our own table each week.


I don't want this to sound like a sob story, cause it's not.  We will be fine..... we still live in paradise in our own home and are all pretty happy.  But how ironic that on the day I get the first genuine offer to swap houses with someone in a beautiful region of France, that our true financial position is made very clear to me.


I wonder what it all means.  I am determined to get back to France......so watch this space.


In the mean time, here are some shots I have pulled up from my photo library.  The weather has turned foul again, to match our financial status, so the photos I wanted to shoot didn't happen.


 I bet when the sun comes out I'll feel a whole lot better.  Healthy happy children and a husband who's doing his best to keep all the balls in the air.  Hey, I'm the lucky one here!!!!!




Have a great day gals.  I feel better already.  You're a true pal if you got this far.
Today I am partying at
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Monday, October 24, 2011

My Dream Beach House


Ok this one is a little rough around the edges, but I prefer to think of it as a rough diamond.  This is my kinda house.   I just love this original Aussie Beach Cottage.  It oozes that casual and relaxed beach house feel that is a way of life around these parts.


Externally I would go pale grey with white trim.  The sandstone is gorgeous and apart from a new kitchen and possibly bathroom, the photos don't show it, that would be it.


This home has been in the same family for 40 years and I would love it to be in mine for the next 40 years.  I have no idea of price, but I am guessing $4-6 million owing to its Palm Beach location.  If you would like to live the dream have a look here


I'd love to change these tiles to Sydney sandstone. and soften the weatherboard with a few strategically placed large French potted urns.


 I would change the internal wall and window colour to white.  Dulux Fair Bianca is my colour of choice at the moment. A shame to paint over all that lovely art deco wall paneling, but I think it would greatly improve the light and space of each room.


The period detail is so me, I love it.  That gorgeous window seat would be the perfect home for my nautical stripe cushions.


The old sandstone fire place would be a great winter warmer, after a wind blown family beach walk. 





This home even has a 1 bedroom self contained unit, which I'd rent out in an attempt to cover the hefty mortgage.  Right that's it....I'm off to talk to Mr Beach House....I'm sure he'll see it my way.... Ha Ha!!!!


I always tell my clients that when a prospective  purchaser walks into your home they have to see it as their own, in order to seal the deal.  Well I can see this as my new home, even from the pictures.  This one has my name written all over it.
 Have a great week people.
Today I am partying here
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Heaven and Hell on Earth


Heaven is where the police are British
The chefs are Italian
The mechanics are German
The lovers are French
And it is all organised by the Swiss


Hell is where the police are German
The chefs are British (sorry Jamie)
The mechanics are French
The lovers Swiss
And it is all organised by the Italians
Anonymous except for the bit about Jamie


Well we have our problems too Down Under, but there's nothing a day in the great outdoors can't fix.  Here's my take on a day we spent on Pittwater, last Saturday.  We bumped into the Beach House Brat's God father and ended up on the back of this boat for the afternoon.  Lots of laughs and basically just sheer Heaven!!!

The Basin is on the western foreshore of Pittwater and is accessible by ferry,  which launches hourly from Palm Beach.  Here's the ferry time table.  There are gas BBQ's, camping and toilet facilities available at the Basin.  Please note, landing at the Basin even for the day, you will incur a small fee per person, as it is part of the Ku ring gai National Park. 

 There is a shark netted lagoon which is perfect  for swimming October to March.  And an historic building known as Beechwood Cottage which can be hired for functions.


There was some wild life on shore as well.












It also seems it was a day for lovers.




Have a great weekend everyone.  This weekend I'll be seeking out more of the same in and around this little coastal enclave.

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