Wednesday, February 17, 2021


My mother...circa 1938

                                            My brother, Graham...with his first born...1967

Graham and me...early 1948




For me, February is a month filled with memories...bittersweet memories. 

17th February is the birth date of my late mother, Elma Flora Hay.  28th February is the birth date of my late brother, Graham. 

Graham snuck into February...with a roar, no doubt...managing, by the skin of his baby gums, to leap over a Leap Year. 

My mother and brother unfortunately passed away in their mid-fifties.  Mum was only 54; and, Graham, 56...far too young.

Birthdays were fun-filled days when I was a kid.  Our celebrations weren’t overboard, extravagant celebrations like some we read about today where an embarrassing amount of money is lavished on outlandish parties.  We didn’t have money to splash around, but, somehow, my brother and I missed out on little.

Clowns weren’t required to be in attendance at our parties. My brother and I regularly acted like clowns, or were entertained by the clowns when the circus came to town.  Like clockwork, Wirth’s, Bullen’s and Ashton’s circuses visited Gympie every year, setting up the Big Top at Nelson’s Reserve.  When the circus came to town, we were among the excited crowds gathered together to watch the circus folk set up. In awe, we watched as they unveiled the animal cages while nonchalant elephants crazed nearby.  Front row, ring-side seats awaited us in the evening.  One year an elephant escaped when the animals were being off-loaded from the train.  To our surprise, and enjoyment, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw an elephant wandering along the street at the upper end of the one in which we lived!  That definitely was not an everyday occurrence!

Also, it wasn’t necessary for my brother, or me, to run away to join the circus. We created our own at home                                                                                

Our tiny family unit...Nana, Mum, Graham and me...didn’t have money to throw around willy-nilly, but as I said above, we never went without.  We always had clean clothes on our back; shoes on our feet, food on the

 table and in our cupboards.  There was no car in the garage (no garage, either), no telephone, and no fridge. Our ice chest did a sturdy job of keeping food cold.   Come Christmas, Easter and birthdays all the special treats imaginable were laid out for us to enjoy.  Good table manners were a must. 

One of my friends whose surname coincidentally was “Friend”, was ever-present at our birthday parties. She never failed to leave her table manners at home. Without regard for others, she’d greedily reach across the table, not caring who she reached in front of, to grab the largest, colourfully-decorated fairy cake before anyone close to it had a chance.  Like our turkey in the backyard fowl house, she’d gobble it down without a second glance.  The out-of-reach fairy cakes weren’t her only targets.  Nothing was out of her reach.

Graham’s and my Christmas and birthday presents were many.  Books played major roles in our bounty. We received four or five books each as part of our gifts. We always found a copy of the annual Coles Funny Picture Book, with the rainbow on its cover, in our loaded Christmas stockings/pillowcases.

Naturally, throughout our childhood years (and beyond) Graham and I fought like cat and dog as many siblings do. Nevertheless, we loved each other. He was “there” for me, and vice versa. 

During my teenage years he kept a big brother, eagle-eyed, beady eye on me, warning off would-be suitors...or admirers.  (Being crafty, I found a way around his surveillance, of course...knitting, crocheting and quilting had nothing to do with it).  

Like our red-haired mother (a prime example of the reputation gained by fiery red-heads), Graham, although not a red-head...he had dark brown hair...was as fiery as Elma, our mum.  He inherited our mother’s slightly wicked, fun sense of humour, too. 

Having a sense of humour, and being able to look on the bright side of life, even when burdensome dark clouds hovered perilously assisted greatly...among the good and bad times; the happy and sad times...bittersweet memories....

Chocolate Fairy Cakes: Preheat oven 190C. Line 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. Sift 280g S.R. flour, 1/3c cocoa and 1/2c caster sugar into bowl. Lightly beat 4 eggs; add eggs, along with 250g melted butter, 1-1/3rd c milk and 200g melted dark chocolate, to dry mixture; mix until combined; then spoon into cupcake foils. Bake 10-15mins. When cool, spread each with Ganache: Melt 200g dark chocolate and 1/2c cream together; remove from heat; cool. Pipe/swirl over top of fairy cakes.

Rainbow Cupcakes: Preheat oven 180C. Beat 85g softened butter with 100g caster sugar; add 1 egg. In another mixing bowl, mix together 130g plain flour, 1tsp vanilla, 1tsp baking powder and pinch of salt; then stir in half of dry mixture into wet mixture; add 45ml milk; beat. Add other half of dry mixture and another 45ml milk; beat until batter is smooth and well combined.  Fill 6 cupcake cases 3/4 full; bake 20–25mins. Remove from oven; cool 30mins before decorating.  Once cooled, remove a teaspoon of cake from the middle and push half a strawberry into the hole (or a whole strawberry if it is small).  Frosting: Beat 25g softened butter with 110g cream cheese until smooth; add 50g icing sugar and 50g mascarpone. Beat until it’s very smooth. Divide mixture between 5 bowls; add a few drops of blue, pink, purple, yellow and green food colouring to each bowl. Mix in each colour well with a soft spatula. Fill the one piping bag with all the colours.  Once cupcakes have cooled, make rainbows on top with the multi-coloured frosting in the piping bag.  





Tuesday, February 09, 2021





Love is in the air. Love is all around.  Can you feel the love tonight...or today?  

14th February, Valentine’s Day, isn’t far away...which means, of course, it’s time to drag out those silly love songs.

Do you believe in magic?

Time after time the midnight train to Georgia is worth travelling on when a man loves a woman (or vice versa).

“Back in my arms again, we will be happy together, baby love!” She yelled as off to the chapel of love she raced. With a vision of love set firmly in her mind, she searched here, there and everywhere. 

“I got you, babe!  There ain’t no mountain high enough to stop me from being close to you. You’re my shining star!” She shouted, time after time, while running along the banks of Moon River.

“You’re the one that I want! You are so beautiful!” Her words echoed through the clear Chelsea morning air as she paused to dip her toes into the shallow water.

“My guy!  I’m crazy for you...forever and always! How deep is your love? I will always love you! You are the sunshine of my life! Memories of the first time ever I saw your face. All night long I felt like dancing on the ceiling. You can lean on me! I can’t stop loving you! I can’t get enough of your love. babe! Reach out, and I’ll be there!  Let’s get it on! You’re my soul and inspiration!”

Like an unchained melody this magic moment, and others like it, is similar to the moment the eyes of two strangers in the night meet across a crowded room. 

From the first “Hello”, the power of love is an eternal flame...a wondrous thing.  

God only knows! There’s something in the air.  The sea of love cannot be denied when dancing cheek to cheek, dancing in the dark, or dancing in the moonlight. Save the last dance for me!  

Chasing cars for a kiss from a rose is truly, madly, deeply crazy.

Oh!  The way we were? Sugar! Sugar! Are you lonesome tonight?

Valentine’s Day should be carefree; a romantic, fun day of wine, roses (or milk and honey), and loads of chocolates...a day that should be about this crazy little thing called love.  It’s a day to forget worries, and not worry.  Persistently, they will make their appearance again the following day/days.

A bunch of dandelions or, perhaps, some blooms you’ve nicked from your neighbour’s garden may suffice.  It’s the thought that counts!  However, don’t get caught with your hand through the fence.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money. A couple of Freddo Frogs will do; not the Freddo Frog Slimes, though. That might be pushing your luck. 

Start the day off on the right foot (or left foot; either will be the right foot) serving breakfast in bed...on a tray, of course...not on the bed. If you’ve a tendency to be clumsy, stick to serving breakfast at the table out on the deck overlooking the neighbours’ garden...the scene of your crime, while you were being a midnight rambler. 

I won’t be upset if my two furry true loves don’t serve me breakfast in bed.  Actually, I will be upset if they do!  

Remember, my funny Valentines, love is all the various shapes, forms, sizes, species and genders. Open your heart...all you need is love...and a box of chocolates!

What the world needs now is love, sweet love...loads of it!


Valentine Hearts: Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 18cm x 28cm rectangular slice pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang a long ends. Place 150g chopped butter and 180g chopped dark chocolate in medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring 3 to 5 mins, or until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2c caster sugar. Set aside 5 mins.  Whisk 2 lightly beaten eggs into chocolate mixture until combined. Add 1-1/4c sifted plain flour and 2tbs cocoa powder. Whisk to combine. Fold in 220g chopped, frozen Caramello chocolate. (Tip: Freezing the chocolate makes chopping it into squares easier and ensures whole chunks are in the brownies). Spread mixture into pan. Bake 20 mins or until top is firm to touch.  Cool completely.  Use a 5cm heart-shaped cutter to cut brownies. Serve dusted with cocoa.

Cupid Cherry Cupcakes: Preheat oven 176C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.  In bowl beat 2tbs veg oil, 6tbs softened unsalted butter, 1/2c white sugar and 1/c packed light brown sugar until fluffy. Add 2 large eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat in 2tbs vanilla extract. In separate bowl, combine 1c plain flour, 6tbs unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2tsp baking soda, 1/4ts baking powder, and 1/4tsp salt; stir with whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with 3/4c milk, begin and end with flour mixture. Beat until well blended. Spoon 2tbs of batter into muffin pans; bake 15-20 mins. Remove cupcakes immediately from pans; cool on wire rack. Use point of sharp knife to cut a small well in centre of cupcakes; fill with black or regular cherry preserves. Replace top portion; top with frosting. Garnish with fresh cherries dipped in chocolate if desired. Frosting: Beat 1c softened unsalted butter on until fluffy. Gradually beat 3c icing sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2tbs heavy cream until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Beat in 1/3c cherry preserves. If frosting becomes too loose or curdled looking, add more icing sugar, 1tbs at a time until frosting comes together.