Friday, December 27, 2013

The Great Australian Road Trip

This Christmas we ended up taking an unexpected drive to Townsville. From Brisbane, that's a 2,600km round trip. 

In my childhood, my parents often took us on long camping holidays, so I'm no stranger to 8-10hr days in the car. And in those days, there was no air conditioning! We drove so many places, I was lucky to see so much of this amazing country. 

As a road trip veteran, I immediately took steps to make this holiday drive as comfortable and cheap as possible. Here's my best tips for long car trips - sans children, anyway. 

- plan your route using online road condition information. In Qld for example, there is still a lot of flood recovery roadwork happening, which adds to your travel time. 

- pack lunch, drinks and snacks. Seriously, this will save you so much in servo food. At least $50 a day for us, I estimate. Fill a thermos with hot water and take coffee, tea and milk for a cuppa on the road. Pack the esky full of ice and get cheap drinks from the supermarket if you prefer something cold. Carry plenty of water, no matter where you're headed. 

- make frequent stops; every two hours is recommended. Pull out a sandwich and have a cup of tea from your thermos. Admire the scenery at one of Australia's many lovely roadside parks or rest stops. OR take advantage of our fabulous network of Driver Reviver stops. You can get road/traffic info from a local while you're getting a free cuppa!

- check your tyre pressure at your first fuel stop. Properly inflated tyres will give you better fuel economy.

- if someone is in the back, a pillow is a great idea for any long trip. 

- think about music. I cannot stress this enough. Take as much music as possible. We now take not only a big box of CDs, but an adapter cord that allows playback of our iTunes libraries from our phones through the radio. 

- get a phone charger adapter for the cigerette lighter if you don't want to arrive with less than 20% battery.

- keep your camera in the car with you. You never know when something awesome will appear to take a photo of! If it's in the boot, you might miss capturing that animal/sunset/mountain view. 

- wear comfy and non-restrictive clothes, and slip-on shoes. You'll thank your past self at the end of the long day. 

- if driving at dawn, dusk or at night, keep a sharp lookout for wildlife, particularly kangaroos. 

And most of all - embrace the experience and have fun! A lot of people don't get to see much of this beautiful country of ours so you are privileged!

Got any other goo road trip tips for me?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Surely Sarah's Christmas Blog Round-up

As I haven't blogged much about Christmas this year, I thought I'd put together a post bringing together all the lovely blogs I've been reading recently that cover the subject nicely. I hope you find them as entertaining, helpful and interesting as I did.

Happy reading! And if I don't get to blog between now and then - have a Happy, Simple and Relaxing Christmas!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fighting Food Waste: Mince Pasties

Recently I had some uneaten burrito mince and some sausages in the freezer. It was a Saturday night and the pantry was a bit bare, so I googled a bit to see what I could do with my leftovers.

The answer that appealed to me most was - pasties! I had bought some puff pastry on a whim a while ago, not sure what to do with it but this was perfect.

Please forgive the photography in this post - I am aware it is a bit horrid. It was night and I was using my phone. A food blogger I am not!

Anyways, here is the method I used:

 1. Got out some frozen peas, carrot and corn.

 2. Chopped up the sausages into small bits and fried the lot in a saucepan until it was heated through and the veges were mostly cooked. Seasoned with salt and pepper. My mince already had a packet of burrito seasoning in it, but you could add curry power or paprika or ground chilli to taste.

 3. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into four squares. Scooped a little of the mixture onto each square.

 4. Fold each square into a triangle, crimp edges with your fingers. Look at that beautiful crimping! Ha ha. Transfer to lined baking tray. Brush with a little milk or egg so they brown up nicely.

5. Bung them in a hot oven for a while. I'm very sorry, I can't remember for how long. I'd recommend giving it ten minutes then checking!

These parcels got the thumbs up from fussy hubby, so will definately be making again! I was so happy to use up the things that a year ago, I actually would have thrown into the bin.

Got any new food waste-busting ideas for me?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Farm Photography

When I was up at my parents' place a few weekends ago, I got out the Nikkon and went around trying to find some new things to photograph. I particularly wanted to try small things - macro photos if you will. Well, it is hard. Clearly I need to do some sort of reading on the subject!

Ick alert: there is a photo of a daddy-long-legs spider below. I've put it at the bottom so you can skip if that freaks you out.

I am so proud of this one. Have you ever tried to take a photo of an ant? They never stop moving!

Do you see the bird? I have no idea how bird photographers capture anything. Talk about flighty subjects.

The moo-cows weren't being particularly friendly. But this shot does show quite well how horribly dry it is out there at the moment. Farmers need rain!

My mum has managed to successfully grow frangipani, despite zero-degree winters. I'm so impressed!

Tail light on an old car my brother keeps in the dairy. I'm not sure, but I think this may be the Falcon ute that I learned to drive on!.

Daddy Long-Legs Spider

Do you do any macro photography? Or animals? Any tips?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Summary - 1st December

This week I have been...

Reading - All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull. A memoir of the author's life when she moved to Tahiti. It's pretty cool.

Tidying - my patio and yard. A huge job, but one that is very satifying.

Loving - those moments when you stop and just breathe. Like when I saw this beautiful Moreton Bay Fig at the markets today. What a glorious elder of its kind.

Watching - a mish-mask of television including The Walking Dead, NCIS and Sleepy Hollow. I like to pretend that Ichabod from Sleepy Hollow is James Norrington from The Pirates of the Caribbean's long-lost brother. (Don't blame me, it was on tumblr).

Dreaming - of landscaping my pool area with terracotta pots and minimalist spiky plants.

Thinking - a lot about Christmas. I wrote a guide to a Happy Homemade Christmas last year, would like to do something similar this year, but I'm not going to be doing much homemade stuff! So I might just curate some great other blogs that are doing it.

Baking - my own pizza dough! For the first time, I was insanely pleased with it. I also made a banana loaf today, finally used up all those over-ripe bananas in my freezer.

Hanging - out at the farm. Went and saw mum and dad last weekend, did some deep-breathing and chilling out. Going up to the farm recharges my batteries. I took some photos, which I have the intention of blogging but are still on my camera...

Looking forward to - work winding down after we complete end-of-month accounts this week. More scrapbooking in two weeks. And then some time off!

How's your week been?


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