May 2011 Archives

Bella Vista

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So Windy had some Entertainment Book vouchers that needed to be used.  By today.  So the sweetie and I went to Bella Vista in Belconnen (thanks Windy!).  The poor sweetie was feeling a little delicate though, having had a pretty bad headache all day :(

Bella Vista is a little pricier than it used to be, and the serving sizes seem smaller too.  But always yummy.  We got two specials off the board - a chicken/bacon/mushroom/rice thing in a parmesan bowl, and a veal sausage thing wrapped in prosciutto.  We swapped half way so we both got half each :)

Bella Vista
Bella Vista
After such a small meal, we both got desserts as well - I got a cheese cake and Stu got chocolate gelato.

Bella Vista
Bella Vista
Yum yum yum :)
In yet another attempt to get our step count up, and to do a walk I've wanted to do for several years, today did the Mount Majura to Mount Ainslie walk.  Not that there's actually a defined trail.  In fact between the mountains there's tracks criss-crossing all over the place.  Definitely a two-car job (unless you really want to walk all the way back again as well!)

You can't drive very far up Majura Road before the road is blocked
Gate blocking the road up to the top of Mt Majura
They didn't have enough chains so used lots of padlocks instead
Chains (locks) on the gate
Pretty cool view of the airport, but not many planes, it being a Sunday and all
Canberra Airport
Looking toward Dickson and Black Mountain
Looking toward Dickson
Looking toward Belconnen
Aircraft radar at the top of Mount Majura
Radar on Mount Majura
Obligatory spider shot for Tony ;)
It was quite crowded around Mount Majura, lots of walkers out and about
Top of Mount Majura
We just need to go straight over there - no need to go down first, right?
Mount Ainslie from Mount Majura
Spikey flowers
Spikey flowers
Spikey flowers
Virgin Blue 737 taking off
Virgin Blue 737
Now here's something you don't see every day (anymore)!  There were a whole heap of them near the top of the trail on Mount Ainslie
Old-fashioned ring-pull
Made it!!
Mount Ainslie sign
Aircraft beacon on Mount Ainslie
Aircraft beacon on Mount Ainslie
Canberra airport from Mount Ainslie
Canberra Airport
Obligatory Black Mountain Tower photo
Black Mountain Tower
Houses of Parliament, so to speak
The fountain was fountaining
James Cook fountain
Canberra Centre and part of Civic
Canberra city
Magpie portraits
So this was the whole trip around the mountains, showing where you have to park on the north side of Mount Majura as the red waypoint at the top.

Majura to Ainslie GPS track
Here's a close up of the walking part itself from the top of Mount Majura (top) and Mount Ainslie (bottom)
Majura to Ainslie GPS track
The GPS track of the walk itself is here if you want to look at it any closer.

8.4km, ~13000 steps, nearly three hours of walking (with lots of stops for photos).


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Whoops... my "Whoops" blog entry the other night was my 3000th blog entry.


Who knew eight and a half years ago that I'd still be blogging now?? :)

Well after spending a week and a half doing the edge and fish in the jigsaw, last night I did all the balloons.  In just one night.

Life Jigsaw - hot air balloons
Progress today was much slower - just sorting all the blue pieces and starting on the water.

Life jigsaw progress
We also did our food shopping, and have some lamb shanks in the slow cooker :)

Had a true dog-followed-me-home story today .. 

This was after the crappiest day at work I've had in a long time.  Tired, unbelievably crappy software (which I'd rant and rave about, but I'd probably get fired), got on people's nerves, got depressed.  So left at 3:30 and walked home with Tony.

A couple of k's from home, this dog came up to us, and ended up hovering around us as we walked to rest of the way to Tony's place.  No collar (although evidence of one) and just running all over the place, including the road :(  When we got to Tony's place we got him through the gate - but he just jumped right out!!  But got him back in again and Tony kept him entertained so he stayed.  I continued on home.  Good news is, the owner found him cause Tony posted some details online.  Apparently the owners had taken off the collar that morning because he had a bit of a rash, but he jumps fences - doh!  


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Yet another evening staying up far too late doing the jigsaw and not getting anything useful done.  Although we did go out for dinner (the Dumpling Inn has shiny new menus) and do our shopping and watch the end of Masterchef.

Actually I can blame the proxies for keeping me up late... think the new patch is going to cause more problems than it's meant to have solved.. friggen friggen >:(   Hoping they come back otherwise I'm gonna have an awfully late night :(


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So we thought we'd do a cleanup at work.  Just a simple one.  Tidy up a few configs.  Easy. 


It's gonna take me days and days just to even document what we have (because a lot of it has simply never been documented before).  And *then* when we know what we have we can do the tidying.

At least I know what I'm doing for the next few days.  And a few days in the week after that.  And a few days in the week after that ...

Other than that, my life has consisted entirely of jigsaw.  I can't help it.. it calls to me!!
So spent the better part of the weekend doing fifteen minute chunks of various activities.

Mainly: the jigsaw, reading news feeds and tidying.

All you do is set a timer for fifteen minutes, go do the activity, then when it goes off, reset it and go do another one of the activities.  Actually achieved quite a lot in the end.  Although from the completion state of the jigsaw, the tidiness of the house and the number of unread news items I still have, you'd never know.  hrmmm.

So it seems the rapture didn't happen yesterday.  Which is hardly surprising, given the Bible is quite clear that noone will be able to predict an actual date.  It'll come like a "thief in the night" so best be prepared anyway.  Just sayin' :)

Nearly missed my bus the other morning taking photos of cobwebs covered in fog...

Foggy cobweb
Foggy cobweb

And the moon behind the clouds tonight was pretty cool

Cloudy moonrise


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So Canberra has a couple of new pieces of public art. 

First up, Belconnen's owl...

Belconnen Owl Sculpture
Belconnen Owl Sculpture
Belconnen Owl Sculpture

And then there's "Buckbeak" .. (that's what Stu's colleagues call it) .. with a freaky eye that glows in the dark

Civic bird sculpture


And don't tell anyone, but I might have accidently just a little bit bought Life today..

You're a Star!!

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Ok that's what I said to the sweetie when I handed him this...

Stellated Dodecahedron

Isn't it cute!! :)  I suppose the picture doesn't really give you an idea of scale, but it's pretty little, because I made it out of a single piece of paper cut from one A4 sheet of paper.  I haven't had a stellated dodecahedron in years.  I used to have one hanging in my window at Como.  And one painted silver that was totally spectacular.  Those ones I had to draw the nets for myself! Gah! Give me the cheat's method of the internet any day ;)  If it didn't take like an hour to make them and be so delicate I'd make them as Christmas decorations :)  I made it from the net on the first page of this PDF, but you could make a little bigger using the split page version.

The other thing I made on the weekend was my first sonobe model - a simple sonobe cube.  I followed this pattern for putting the cube together, although this pattern to fold the sonobe units.  There seems to be a couple of different ways to fold them.. hrmm.

Sonobe Cube

Day today was ok.  Sorted tax nonsense.  Really need to get an accountant methinks.  Anyone recommend any good ones in Canberra? 

Oh, and nearly forgot .. AMAZING RACE AUSTRALIA!!!!!! SQUEEE :)
Feeling quite anxious tonight, stoopid tax crap I have to deal with :(

Last night we went out to Yass for dinner - Annie did a lovely slow-cooked lamb casserole.

Kids photobomb

Today was an attempt to get our step count up by climbing Black Mountain.  Takes pretty much exactly 10000 steps to walk up and back (and around a bit at the top) - who knew?

Black Mountain Tower
Black Mountain Tower
Canberra from Black Mountain Tower
Yarralumla burnoff
Gridlock Interchange

Black Mountain Walk by GPS

Canberra from Black Mountain Tower
Canberra from Black Mountain Tower
Canberra from Black Mountain Tower
Canberra from Black Mountain Tower
Canberra from Black Mountain Tower

Had a late lunch in Civic afterwards, and found Life for $385.  I soooo want to get it, even though we don't actually have any walls in the house big enough to mount it on :(  (and the sweetie doesn't want it mounted in the house anyway :( ).

Hate Sunday nights.  Hate being a girl.  Hate dealing with accounting/financial nonsense.  Can I go home now?

Last night when we were in Civic we went past the games store and found the 32000 piece jigsaw they have for sale there.

Ravensburger 32000 piece jigsaw
I've blogged about this jigsaw before.  I really don't think I'd want to do it.  Too much solid colour.  Although.  I did find a blog recently about someone that's currently doing it.  As I also discovered doing my last Ravensburger, in which the two halves were actually completely identical, they discovered the sections are identical.  So when you've done one, you can build the next one right on top of it.  Which means if you've sorted out your pieces, you can just pick them up and put them in, because you know *exactly* what shape you're looking for.  That would make it *soooo* much easier to do.  But cheating somehow too heh.

Besides, the thing is 544x172 cm big, and ~20kg.  And $595.  !!

No, I'd still much rather do this one.

Life jigsaw


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The sweetie and I decided to go out for dinner tonight.  I wanted to go to Ardeche to show him that they do a cassoulet.  Unfortunately it's minimum four people, and two days notice.. doh!!  But we went in anyway.

We had some garlic bread which was very nice, although apparently not as good as last time I went to Ardeche, and shared a bottle of Larida Estate chardonnay (the sweetie got the bigger share, as he'd had work drinks prior and I became designated driver).  

Stu had the risotto special, which was pretty good.

I had the Poulet Ardéchois, which was nice enough, but a very big chunk of meat, and a little bit dry in places.  

We had desserts as well.

Stu got a croquembuche

And I got a lemon tart which was really good.  And I love love love the sugar nets - best part of the meal I think :)

The sweetie finished off by contemplating an espresso

So not a bad night.  


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Didn't have a particularly productive day today :(

Had more success at home.  Got a quote for lots of tree work around the house ($1600 worth though - ouch!).  Finished a 1000 piece jigsaw.  Filed over a thousand photos.  Still a thousand to go.  Finished Monty Python season one.

Some chrysanthemums in the garden on Mother's Day.  They're doing better this year than previous years.
Mother's Day chrysanthemums

One of my danios
All the Toy Story Lego out together, before I put the majority of it away
Toy Story Lego
I like the look Buzz is giving Zurg.  Pity you can't really see it at that size..
Buzz vs Zurg

Picked up three preowned Singstar disks today for $22 each at EB Games.  Except it was buy 3 pay for 2, so the three of them only cost me $44, and then I used a gift card from work, so really they didn't cost me anything! Win!  Came home and played through about a third of Singstar 90s.


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When we started watching Buffy last year, I thought of Giles as Uther, and Angel as Booth.  Now I see them the other way around.  Is that weird?
Other than previously mentioned jigsaws and cooking, didn't do a whole lot extra this weekend (except for breakfast at Black Pepper and shopping yesterday).  Put away most of my Toy Story Lego until I ran out baggies.  And tetrised all the boxes into two Acer boxes.  So a nice quiet weekend at home.  Didn't do much walking though, on account of being sick and all.  

Been looking at more origami .. there's *soo* much I want to make :)
And looking at recipes too.. wanting to try more things.. 
Over 100 pieces of plain black jigsaw pieces?

Eagle jigsaw torture
Eagle jigsaw torture
I could at least see whether the pieces were "horizontal" or "vertical" and for some of them which why up they went.  And last night when the lights were on, I could make out the tiniest variation in shade.  

I did actually finish it last night - it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...

I happened across this recipe for Violet Crumble Cheesecake Slice during the week and was inspired to make it this weekend.

Violet Crumble cheesecake slice
I decided to make a traditional cheesecake base rather than using the waffles.  And I probably added a bit too much "Violet Crumble" on top (I couldn't actually find any real Violet Crumble - I haven't seen the bags of it in forever.  I ended up using a brand I'd never heard of, as Crunchie just isn't the same.  It was ok, better than Crunchie, but not as good as "real" Violet Crumble).

It turned out well enough, could maybe have been a little firmer.  But I did hack the original recipe a bit - I used 500g cream cheese because that was the sized tubs it comes in.  Maybe should have used a bit more gelatine?

Unfortunately I won't be able to take this one to work for morning teas.  Will just have to work our way through it at home during the week :)

Violet Crumble Cheesecake Slice




Biscuit base:

250g pack Arnotts Nice biscuits, crushed

125g butter, melted



Crush a whole pack of Arnotts Nice biscuits to breadcrumb size

Melt 125g butter

Mix butter into biscuit crumbs

Spread mix onto a lined large baking tray

Refrigerate to set



2x 250g packs cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup caster sugar

300mL thickened cream

3tsp gelatine powder

300g Violet Crumble, roughly crushed


Sprinkle the gelatine over 1/4 cup (60ml) of water in a heatproof bowl. Place in a saucepan over simmering water and stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.

Use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, vanilla essence and sugar until smooth.

Use clean electric beaters to beat the cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture with the gelatine and half the Violet Crumble.

Spoon the cheese mixture into the pan and smooth the surface. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Scatter with the remaining Violet Crumble to serve.




Options and Notes

Adapted from





Fresh Ingredients Shopping List

Pantry Ingredients Shopping List

Ingredients in stock


2x 250g tubs cream cheese

300mL thickened cream



250g Nice Biscuits

Violet crumble

Caster sugar

Vanilla essence

Gelatine powder


Anzac Biscuits

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I should have made these on Anzac Day, but didn't actually think of it.  Then Lisa posted a pic of hers from last year. So last weekend I had a go at making some.

Anzac biscuits
They were awesome!!  Most of them didn't last the weekend.  I did hide a few, which I took to work to eat as morning teas all week.

Started coughing Wednesday night.  Just a cold it would seem this time.. none of the fluey type aches.  Just lots of goop .. *sigh*

Mall Bird

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A peewee got stuck in the food court at the mall the other day.  No idea if it ever got out..

Mall bird
Mall bird
Mall bird

Black Pepper Caesar Salad

I've been wanting to do this for ages, and I've done it sporadically but not in any formal fashion.  I wanted to have a little review section for my favourite salad - caesar salad, that I often have when I'm out at cafes.  Because they do vary quite a lot and whenever I eat them I'm thinking how I can blog them.  Tragic I know ;)

For the purposes of my reviews I will comment on the most popular variation of the salad we get here, which includes cos lettuce, croutons, bacon, parmesan cheese, egg, anchovies, and sauce.

Location: Black Pepper, Belconnen
Price: $14.00

Lettuce: cos, all good
Croutons: non-existent (unless they were just breadcrumbs that were mixed in with the sauce)
Bacon: really generous, nicely cooked, winner there
Parmesan cheese: almost non-existent, only saw one tiny piece
Egg: one poached/coddled? on top
Anchovies: check, given to the sweetie
Sauce: good flavour, good amount.

So a pretty decent version of the salad.  The generous helping of bacon made up for the lack of parmesan cheese. Would happily have this again.

So this was dinner tonight.  And here's what I've been working on for a recipe template.  The idea is it has the actual recipe, as well as a section for variations and notes, and finally a shopping list to make it easy for menu planning.

Not that I ever follow recipes like this directly, I tend to improvise somewhat and tend not to measure out things (except when baking cakes etc).

This is Alan's recipe for beef stew (he didn't include the paprika or sour cream so technically his isn't a stroganoff), with the variations added to make it a stroganoff.  He also always does his in a big electric fry-pan.  Until tonight that's always how I did mine too.  But thought would try it tonight in the slow cooker - better surface so doesn't need as much stirring and easier cleanup.

Pretty much my favourite recipe of his.  Just the other day marked ten years since his heart attack, and apparently he's still going strong...

Alan’s Beef Stroganoff




1kg chuck steak, diced

500g bacon, diced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bag mushrooms, sliced

1 tin diced tomatoes

1 pack cream of mushroom soup

4 tbsp flour

2 tbsp mixed herbs

2 tbsp paprika

150g sour cream

200mL red wine

1L beef stock




Brown bacon and add to slow cooker

Brown onions and garlic and add to slow cooker

Brown mushrooms and add to slow cooker

Put flour, soup packet mix, herbs and paprika into a plastic bag with no holes and mix

Add chuck steak to bag and coat in the mix

Brown the steak and add to slow cooker

Deglaze the pan with some red wine and add to slow cooker with a goodly amount of wine

Add the remainder of the flour mix to the slow cooker

Add tin of tomatoes to slow cooker

Cover with stock

Cook on high for four hours or low all day


At the end, add the sour cream to lighten the stew


Serve with rice and/or peas and corn



Options and Notes

Red wine is optional, as are several of the ingredients, including the bacon and the tomatoes.  Use garlic to your taste.

It doesn’t matter too much what order you brown the ingredients

You can do this in an electric fry pan too – brown everything then turn the heat down to simmer, stirring every so often




Fresh Ingredients Shopping List

Pantry Ingredients Shopping List

Ingredients in stock

1kg chuck steak

500g packet bacon




Sour cream


Tin diced tomatoes

Cream of mushroom soup

Red wine (eg Shiraz)


Mixed herbs


Beef stock


Ok, apart from the spammers, the only person that's commented on my blog in the last ten days is an author.. is anyone still out there..? :)
Quite a pleasant weekend.

Yesterday was just pottering around the house.  Didn't do much in the way of housework though.  Don't actually know what I really did all day .. hrmmm...

Today was a sleep-in, then out for breakfast/lunch at Black Pepper, then our shopping, and suddenly it's 3pm?  Put on dinner for tonight and read news feeds and didn't do much else.

New Masterchef tonight.  And kicking myself that I didn't go watch all the rest of the Junior Masterchef episodes that I didn't see - because now the only episodes online are from the two main series and the celebrity one, but not the kids :(

I've been working on my own sort of recipe book (at the moment a series of word documents).  Trying to standardise the format and start to actually collect some of the things that we cook to make it easier for menu planning.

And now, just for fun, a few pics from recent weeks...

Some "fairy" bugs flitting around a tree on my walk home.  I saw them the first day and thought that would make a good photo.  The next day I actually stopped and pulled out my camera.  Didn't get any very good pics, this was the best of them.
Fairy bugs
A cockatoo in flight
Cockatoo in flight
A Balloons Aloft balloon - the EU balloon
EU Balloon
EU Balloon

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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