Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

…and here’s to the Year of Slow Living!  2011 has started promisingly for us, with the last few days being very relaxed.  As previously posted, we had planned a quiet New Years’ Eve at home, with homemade pizzas on the BBQ (thanks to Jane and Jonesy for the beaut pizza stone!).  The only alteration was the swap of red wine for white – as in Melbourne, we had a very warm 31 December and, unlike our place in Melbourne, no air-conditioning here!  Despite struggling to stay awake until midnight, we dug in and were able to see in the New Year with half a glass of wine and a pat for the dog.  Party animals that we are, we were in bed by 12.15, and, briefly before falling asleep, marvelled again at how quiet it is here at night…even on New Years’ Eve!

My New Years Resolution is to become inseparable from my camera, in order that I can illustrate my stories here more effectively.  We’ll see how that goes…

One of the nicest things about living here has been the visits from friends and family.  Lunch tends to be an all-day affair, beginning in the late morning, while dinner results in a houseguest and company for breakfast the next morning too!  While we are not that far out of the CBD (I have to keep reminding myself that many of our neighbours commute every day to Melbourne for work) guests don’t tend to do the ‘quick drop-by’ on their way through from another commitment.  We have the luxury to sit and chat for hours over meals and those intervening periods well filled by another glass of wine or a cup of tea.
So it was when my sister and brother-in-law came to have lunch on Sunday.  Arriving soon after 12pm, they were taken on the requisite tour before sitting in the sunshine out the back, admiring the new vegie patch and tucking into warm olives with fresh rosemary from the garden, and brie with freshly baked gluten-free bread.  That rolled into lunch, followed by a walk to stretch the legs and the stomach in preparation for dessert that my sister had brought with her.  Already failing in my resolution to take more photos, credit to Lauren for taking some snaps of her delectable Angel Food Cake with Poached Strawberries and cream (photo below).  Oh so good – we polished off the remainder for dessert last night – still fantastic!  Coffee in the lounge rounded off the afternoon.  What a pleasant way to spend a Sunday!

On Monday – Grant’s last day of holidays before heading back to work – we decided to do a bit of a tour (with Jessie in tow) of the local towns and villages surrounding us.  We started in the very picturesque village of Malmsbury with a picnic lunch in the Botanic Gardens.  As we sat by the artificial lake, eating and drinking, watching the ducks on the water and the children in the park opposite, I realised I had left my camera at home again…what a pity, as the day and the surroundings were so beautiful!  From Malmsbury, we drove through Taradale and Elphinstone (two very small historic villages) before taking the road towards Daylesford, aiming not for Daylesford itself, but for the Chocolate Mill on the road between Daylesford and Castlemaine.  Grant has mentioned the Chocolate Mill many times since we moved, mentioning that it is famous for its Hot Chocolates (served in white, milk or dark chocolate) and that they have recently been awarded Victoria’s Best Hot Chocolate.  I finally took the hint, and so we ended up there yesterday afternoon, and, yes, the Hot Chocolate really is all that.  We ordered both a milk and a dark hot chocolate, in order to ‘share and compare’.  Trumps for dark chocolate.  Our final stop of the day was Trentham, where we had a stroll down the main street.  Intrigued by a truffle shaver in the window, I stopped in at Idyll Foods, where I found a small but rather delicious range of fresh fruit and veg as well as pantry ‘essentials’.  The shopkeeper, speaking with another customer, pricked my ears when discussing local winter truffles, and how Trentham was a truffle-dog training centre, and that they hold a truffle festival in July each year.  Have already marked it in my diary and will ensure an adequate report ensues.  I limited my purchases to some gorgeous looking kipfler potatoes and nectarines that I could smell from two metres away.  Back home, I cooked up a simple dinner, with those kipflers (roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper) taking pride of place next to an unassuming but rather satisfying brown-rice bake and tomato and herb salad.  Pleased to report that I remembered to get my camera for recording that!

This morning, as I was watering the vegies (a rather unrewarding job before the seeds begin to shoot!  I feel like I am just watering the dirt at the moment) I saw the first shoots on my broccoli seedlings.  These are currently being raised in a seedling tray, and will need a few more weeks there before I can transplant to the main vegie patch – but at least it feels like a start!

This weekend is the first that we will be able to get to the Kyneton Farmers’ Market – will be sure to take my camera and post lots of snaps.  It will be lovely to be able to walk with the puppy to a farmers market and home again with all our goodies!

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