Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Number 1!!

I've been playing games on the It's Your Turn website since April '01, and today, for the first time, I am number 1 for Backgammon on the Open Turbo 100-hour Ladder!! :) :)

Here's the proof:That's right folks, out of 288 people, I'm number 1!!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taronga Zoo

B and I took the day off work today to spend some time together. B is going overseas for two weeks on Sunday, so we wanted to spend some quality time together before he goes. So today we decided to go to the zoo!

The zoo has a pretty good view as well ... here's the Sydney Harbour Bridge ...

And a closer shot of the Opera House:

We saw giraffes:

... and a tiger:

... and a baby elephant:

awww :)

We had fun, there were heaps of people there due to it being school holidays, but we didn't have any trouble getting around, good time had by all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sins of the Past

I have a secret to confess ... I have long been a fan of the TV show Xena, Warrior Princess. In fact, we own all the seasons on DVD. So, seeing as I'm loving the idea of a project after reading Julia and Julia, and now having also seen the movie, I feel like a project of my own. I will watch each episode of Xena, and blog about it. Fear not, it won't be the only thing I blog about, as it's not like it is the only thing happening in my life. But, it seems like a fun thing to blog about, and it will help me get back to blogging on a regular basis.

So here goes ...

Season 1, Episode 1

Title: Sins of the Past

The very first episode .. and what an episode. It starts with Xena trying to make a new start, to turn her back on her evil warrior ways, forsaking violence ... which lasts about 10 seconds (at least the forsaking violence part). She happens to get in the way of some other evil dudes, who have just kidnapped some women from a local village. And here is where Xena and Gabrielle meet for the first time. Xena saves the women from the evil dudes, the local village for some reason tells Xena to rack off (very ungrateful), and Gabrielle is sold on the idea of joining up with Xena, even though Xena could care less and tells her so.

Gabrielle nicks off in the middle of the night to follow Xena, after an amusing conversation with her sister Lilla ... (NB, the following conversation is not a direct transcript, just my memory ... and I'd had a couple of glasses of chardonnay so it may not be 100% accurate)

G: I want to become a warrior
L: You, a warrior, I can beat you up!!
G: You're very strong for your age ... anyway, you know I'm different to everyone else in this village
L: I know you're crazy ...
G: call it whatever you like

Renée O'Connor is just brilliant as Gabrielle, very funny indeed

This episode also had the character Draco (played by the guy from Water Rats), who is in a few future episodes. Xena wants to go back home and Draco explains that after her evil warrior days she can never go home again. She tries anyway, her Mum snubs her, and then Draco and Xena have a fight. Which for some reason had to be fought on some very flimsy scaffolding ... which was in a pub ... and we're not sure what the scaffolding is for ... and it falls apart in about 2 minutes into the fight.

Xena of course wins the day, doesn't kill Water Rats dude, they both live to fight and partake in witty banter for another day. Xena's Mum forgives her, and then Xena tells her that she can't stay for long and nicks off into the sunset with Gabrielle (why she can't stay isn't clear and this turns out to be a recurring feature in Xena episodes, as soon as she is happy somewhere she has to move on ... )

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chicken Cacciatora

One of the good things about finishing my course is that I have more spare time on my hands to do other things I love. For instance, cooking a new dish. I was reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, and it struck me that it had been a very long time indeed since I'd cooked anything new. After a bit of debate with B, and trawling through recipe books, I decided to cook a recipe in one of my Delia Smith books.

Chicken Cacciatora was the end result, from Delia's book How to Cook, Book two

After doing this recipe, I can now add jointing a chicken to my cooking repertoire! :)


Serves 4

1 x 3lb (1.35kg) free range chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 largish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1lb 8oz (700g) ripe red tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, bruised and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
10 fl oz (275ml) dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

You will also need a lidded casserole dish with a capacity of 6 pints (3.5L)


First of all heat the oil in the casserole over a high heat and season the chicken joints with salt and pepper. Then, when the oil gets really hot and begins to shimmer, fry the chicken – in 2 batches – to brown it well on all sides: remove the first batch to a plate while you tackle the second; each joint needs to be a lovely golden-brown colour all over. When the second batch is ready, remove it to join the rest. Now add the onions to the casserole, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they are softened and nicely browned at the edges.

Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes. To do this, pour boiling water over them and leave them for exactly 1 minute before draining and slipping off their skins (protect your hands with a cloth if they are too hot), then chop them quite small.

When the onions are browned, add the garlic to the casserole, let this cook for about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, tomato purée, rosemary, bay leaf, white wine and white wine vinegar. Now add some seasoning and bring it up to the boil, then let it bubble and reduce (without covering) to about half its original volume, which will take about 20 minutes. Now add the chicken pieces, stir them around a bit, then put the lid on and allow to simmer gently for 40 minutes, until the chicken joints are cooked through. This is good served with green tagliatelle, noodles, rice or a simple vegetable. (I served with rice, worked well)

The finished product:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting back in the swing of things

Hey, I'm still alive peeps! Been super busy with the PT course, which finished up recently. That's right folks, I'm now a qualified personal trainer, lookout!! :)

I start at a big gym in November. It doesn't quite feel real. It just doesn't seem that long ago that I was procrastinating over doing the course, then finally applied, got in, four months of course, done!

What I didn't expect, and what has been such a huge bonus, is the fact that the class I was in, was absolutely awesome. It was a great group, and great friendships have been formed. To the point where now that it is over, we all feel a little lost, we're missing seeing each other so regularly. Guess that is normal after seeing them three times a week for 4 months!

New beginnings ... for once I'm really looking forward to the future.

In other news, B is going away overseas for two weeks the middle of October, and I'm quietly freaking out about being by myself for that amount of time. I keep telling myself, "I'm 36, I'm a strong, capable woman. I am not defined by my husband, I can be enough by myself, I'll be just fine!"

Planning on catching up with lots of friends, and keeping busy!