SURF IT!!

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Surf it!

 

Couchsurfing is a world of fun!!

This, friends, is geography, social studies, LOTE and (ahem!) socialization all in one glorious, rich, natural learner package. And it’s free. No expensive curriculum required. But you do need a.. ah.. couch.

If hospitality is your thing, it’s easy to set up a profile at couchsurfing.org.  There is space to describe skills you have to share and things you’d like to learn.  Someone in your house learning Spanish? Mention it in the skill share space, and you could find yourself with a native speaker to practice with. Have a passion for music? Mention it, and play with musicians from around the world.

After writing a profile, you can either sit back and wait for people to ask to stay with you, or you can browse people who have posted requests to stay in your area.

Here is Max. He spent a long, long time learning all about biology.  He came to stay with us for three days; three very fun days of sharing our culture with a first time visitor to Australia. Did you know Germans don’t eat banana and walnut sandwiches? Or how they feel about the world wars?  We know things now about Germany that you won’t read on Wiki.

 

Here we are at the Daisy Hill conservation centre: Max is meeting his first koala.

Max

 

 

 

With Juls and Daniel, two German musicians with lots of personality!

juls and daniel

 

 

While there ARE baddies out there, there are also a lot of interesting, gifted, generous people in the world.  This is a wonderful way to meet them, and to share a little of the Australian way of life with an international visitor.

 

Go on.. be daring! :D

 

 

couch surfing

 

Serious Chocolate Announcement

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chocolate

Here’s the answer to one of life’s most burning questions.

It’s probably been keeping you awake nights, too…

“How to make gluten-free, dairy free, sugar-free, low carb chocolate?”

(I knew you were agonising over it!)

The search for the holy grail of chocolate recipes has taken me down some stoney paths, friends, but today.. it was all sweetness.  Here’s what you need:

1/3 cup xylitol (or natvia, or truvia, or erythritol) ground in blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. You want it as fine as possible, or just use your favourite un-crunchy sweetener.

xylitol

Despite the blender treatment and a go grinding by hand, the xylitol gives a crunchiness that doesn’t sit well with me, but the rest of the house voted the crunchiness was actually desirable. (No accounting for tastes!)

xylitol

I cup cacao butter

This beautiful stuff is the reason your chocolate will set firm, and stay firm, and not need to live in the freezer as it would if made on coconut oil or regular dairy butter.

cacao butter

I  cup cacao powder  This is very taste-yourself-y, depending how strong and chocolately you like it.  Start with a cup, and add more until it tastes chocolately enough. Don’t feel guilty about being liberal.  As a source of antioxidants raw cacao leaves berries, regular dark chocolate, and drinking chocolate for dead.

cacoa powder

nunaturals powdered stevia  a few hefty shakes – also have to keep tasting and adding until it tastes right.  Hard work, all that chocolate tasting..  Naturally if you have a favourite sweetener you’re happy with, there is no need to add the extra stevia.  I use it to add extra sweetness while keeping the carb count low. (Xylitol is low carb, stevia is carb free)

Melt your cocao butter in a double boiler, or a bowl over hot water.  Don’t get any water into your cocao – water and chocolate don’t love each other.

Under no circumstances, ever, add the xylitol now, thinking it will melt.  It won’t.  I know this to be true. :P  (It will go back to even bigger crystals than before you ground it up, and if you’re not real quick to notice, it will turn into toffee right there in your cocao butter.  It’s safe to trust me on this.)

cocao butter melted

I transferred the melted cacao to a food processor (because, ahem.. of the, ah.. crystal toffee issue I mentioned) but feel free to make your chocolate right there in the bowl you melted the cacao butter in after taking it off the heat.

Add a cup of cacao powder and half of the xylitol and whisk! Whisk!

Have a bit of a taste.

Not sweet enough? Not chocolately enough? Add more cacao powder, and more sweetener until you reach the point that you try the mix, and have to restrain yourself from taste testing right to the bottom of the bowl.  When you reach that point, ADD MORE SWEETENER.

Yes, you read that right.  Add a bit more.  Because without being able to give you an explanation, my chocolate experiments have been consistent in this one thing: it tastes much sweeter before it sets.

Add any flavourings you fancy: peppermint oil, orange oil, cinnamon, vanilla, nuts.. whatever moves you.  I was going for straight up, but you be as creative as you like.

Now, friends, if you prefer MILK chocolate (“though goodness knows why you would?!” says the Lindt 75% dark girl) you can add coconut cream at this point.  It will turn your mix kind of fudgy, but it will still set firm – though with an ever so slightly less smooth texture and without the gloss of the dark chocolate.  Of course, if you don’t care about gloss on your chocs go right ahead and toss in the coconut cream.  The Bluestocking household is evenly divided on the for/against adding coconut cream, so I recommend if in doubt, pour half your mix in as dark, then add the coconut cream to the rest of the mix.  Hedge your bets.

Pour into moulds, and wait ten mins.  Then….

Ta dah!

chocolate buds

Have fun experimenting!

chocolate logs

Oh. And I wouldn’t be being responsible if I didn’t warn you.. if you eat a lot of this late at night (strictly in the interests of health, of course) you may have trouble sleeping.  Packs quite a punch.  If you can eat Lindt 75% with impunity at night, disregard this little heads up.  But if your mind buzzes and your eyes pop after a leeetle too much Lindt, expect the same with this!

This Kind of Day.. .

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Trompe-l'œil

Which kind?

The deliciously girly kind!

There are deep, deep doings in the Bluestocking household, friends.   The Chicklette is having a graduation ball.  Not just any old graduation ball, but a period costume ball.

And what is extra, extra special?  We have wonderful people helping us!

Today we settled on a venue. We went to the nurture-my-need-for-pretty Tea Rooms and discussed Important Ball Details over coffee. We shopped for ball dresses.

Today, friends, was blissful!

bask copy

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups that are… Buttons!

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Image

Hello friends!

See the above little buttons of deliciousness? So much yumminess in such a little, er.. button.

Why are they called Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, then?

I’m glad you asked.

It’s because they should (if you are a stickler for rules and such) look like these..

Image

These pretty cupcake size treats were made by Mercy Campbell, who originally found them over at Prevention, a blog by a clever lady named Nicole. Who also made them cupcake size.

But here’s the thing – those treats looked sooooo goood. AND they contain two of my  favourite foods in the world in one place (that would be chocolate and peanut butter) and.. I had no paper patty pans that size.  And small is cute, right?

Without further excuses ado, here’s how to make them.

Bottom Layer:
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted if it’s cold in your neck of the woods
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 packets stevia or 2 teaspoons of Natvia

Top Layer:
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 packet stevia or 1 teaspoon Natvia

Directions:

Put all the bottom layer ingredients in a bowl, and stir.

Put all the top layer ingredients in a separate bowl, and stir. (Complex, yes? :D)

Here you can choose how dedicated you want to be*.  If you want a pretty, defined line between your two layers, fill your patty pans or chocolate moulds with the bottom layer of mix, and freeze.  Wait for it to harden, and add the top layer. Refreeze.

You eat these goodies straight from the freezer, and if there any left (ahem!) you store them in the freezer, else your coconuty peanutbuttery chocolatey treats will melt back to their original gooey state.

Freeze.. Enjoy!

*It’s peanut butter and chocolate.  No way was I waiting an extra 15 mins.  I half filled each chocolate mould with the base mix, then immediately added the top layer.

Friends, these are yummy.  AND good for you, and quick to make!

The Forbidden History of Terrible Taxes

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Here’s a dose of libertarian thought for the common man. Or woman. Or child.  AND it’s Australian (Hello Aussie homeschoolers!! Great resource here!)

If you go to http://theforbiddenhistory.com/  you can also watch The Forbidden History of Unpopular People: an engaging introduction to the value of free speech.  Now if THIS kind of stuff ever made it to the national curriculum, well… I’d eat my hat. :P

 

Enjoy! :D

 

P.S… There is, restless readers, a real blog post coming.  But this was too good to not post

 

 

The Sweetest Thing

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Augustine suffers the indignity

Hello dear bloggy friends!

You know this already.  But I still have to say…

I have the best blogging friends in the world. :D

The Bluestocking household were invited to spend Christmas at the farm of a certain blogging friend whom I will call Ms H.   Ms H invited us to stay a few days so we could be woken up each night by dogs and roosters and frogs, oops, no.. um.. It was so we could be waterbombed and shot at by small boys with nerf guns,   (It’s awful when posts will write themselves!) One more try…  She invited us to stay so we could grow corpulent and happy eating delectable baked chocolate cheesecake and roast dinners and homemade caramel slice…  (That is the honest to God truth.)

While I’m tempted to tell you a bunch of funny stories about things that went on during our stay,  and the many fun activities Ms H involved us in, I really want to share something that I thought was as sweet as pie.

Christmas in Australia is hot.  (That’s not the sweet part!).  Children were in the pool, or stalking us with water-bombs, grown-ups were sitting in the shade in that lazy, Christmas-arvo kind of mood. A fellow guest brought out a red, wrap around skirt her husband had made for her, with the view to embroidering flowers around the hem. And here’s the sweet thing: she invited everyone to join her.  Can you imagine?! It was so lovely of her to share her new skirt! A bunch of little girls felt ten feet tall being able to help in such an endeavour, and of course conversation flowed more easily because we were working on a project together.

The experience was so inclusive. Coupled with Ms H’s ability to entertain eight overnight house guests without developing a nervous twitch, it has caused me to re-think how I try to make people feel special.  When I entertain, I plan and plan and stress and stress about it being perfect. Why? Because I want it to be special.  But this visit has shown me that being relaxed, and allowing people to be a part of your life is what actually makes an experience special.  Happy realisation! :-)

Thank you, Ms H and family for opening your hearts and home to a bunch of city folk! ♥

sewing cirlcle

And now, friends, I offer you  Lies People Tell about Chickens and the Joy of Good Friends…. The Sequel! Yes.  Because there is a lot I have to tell you about chickens (and good friends), that the unwary ought to know.  For example: have I told you I have geese?  I do.  Adorable things, geese. Lookie…

goslings

A dear friend gave these to me, and when they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad.. well, they are certainly naughty.  Just like puppies, they get bored if you don’t play with them. Then they find something to play with that you’d rather they didn’t. But as my geese are well  loved  and frequently cuddled, I had opportunity to notice giant, prehistoric looking insects crawling on them. Really, really big insects.  Horrid looking things.

I looked on-line. I rang the vet. I determined to rid my geese of what turned out to be (shhhh…. they are still embarrassed about it.. ) lice. Uh huh.  My geese had nits.

I turned to my trusty, farm wise friend, Ms H.  She informed me that a dunking of the geese AND the chickens was necessary, told me what to buy, where to buy it, and blithely instructed me to fill something with water and pop the birds in.

Well.  This is where I tell you the truth about friends, AND birds who need to be dunked.  Friends who give you chickens, and say that those chickens need to be dunked, and imply that the process is not going to endanger your very life or at least your sanity, are Not Quite Being Truthful.

chook dip   my day

After repeating this process on three geese and four chickens, I spent days wafting the aroma of  freshly washed puppy wherever I went.  Fleas, lice, and probably man-eating crocodiles if I encounter them, will melt before me in a three mile radius for weeks to come, I’m sure, so saturated was I in the “kill any baddies” wash. The moral of this story is that friends who lead you to believe that your birds getting lice is no big deal, are telling whoppers, and that should you ever find yourself in that lamentable circumstance, wear a raincoat! (and goggles, and gumboots, and… )

And that’s it folks.  I hope you are all enjoying  time with family and friends over the holidays. Stay safe!

Lies People Tell About Chickens, and the Joy of Good Friends

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Hello Bloggy friends!

 

I hope you are well and hearty :D

 

Today something delicious happened to me. Yes, delicious.  I have to tell you!

 

But first, do you recall back in January, the very dear Heidi ( alias: Super Secret Agent Chicken Little), surprised the BB household with four chickens?

Chickens generate an enormous amount of fun.  Chickens make great pets (here’s Bloss having a ball with them..)

 

 

They are relaxing to watch, they keep down weeds in the lawn, they eat your left over veggie scraps and if all that weren’t enough for you, they also lay eggs.

But friends, there is a dark side to chicken ownership.  At least, there is if you believe every thing you read  about the purported benefits of chickens.  I have read times without number that chickens will keep down pests in your garden. That they will help fulfil your permaculture dreams. (Yes, I can hear everyone who has ever owned chickens, snickering.) And I am going to expose that claim for what it is: chicken propaganda.

Let me tell you the truth.

 

Chickens, those dear, sweet, relaxing-to-watch creatures, will wait until you are out, and they will EAT your garden.  They will DIG in your garden. They will DESTROY your garden.

Yessssirrreee.

Those sneaky girls will betray you.  If they survive that, they will openly defy you, and right under  your very nose,  will waltz up to your lettuce and eat it clean up.  Just. like. that.

And if that isn’t insult enough, they will abscond to your neighbour’s yard, the neighbours who haven’t given you a moments grief in all the years you’ve been neighbours, and decimate their pride and joy flower garden.  It will happen.  You can take it to the bank.

So, what’s a chicken owner to do?  WELL.  Cue the joy of having The Best Friends in the Whole World.  And I do.  And two of them came over today, and, in an act of something between mercy and insanity, they undertook to fence my chickens in.

 

 

With the help of five members of the BB household, I’m sure you can imagine what a task it was to achieve.  As a bit of a hint… we are so accustomed to doing useful jobs such as fencing, that three of our number were wearing ankle length skirts. (Yes. We have never put up fences before. You live and learn!)

 

Not only did my very dear friends fence in my chickens and in many other ways improve my yard, but they came bearing gifts.. There were little butterfly cupcakes baked fresh this morning, and enough cut jasmine that every room in my house is perfumed.

 

I may have mentioned once or twice before, but it bears saying again…

 

I have the best friends in the world! ♥

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