Mini Foodie Tour of Trentham & Daylesford

Ok, so we actually went for this little trip in March but it’s only been recently that I’ve been able to play on my new computer to blog about ALL THE THINGS.

It started off one Friday evening with me saying “I don’t want to spend all day on the computer tomorrow…”

Oh, the irony.

To which the Manbeast replied, “Well, what would you like to do?”

To which I replied, “I have no idea!”

To which he replied, “That’s not very helpful!”

And so it continued, with me looking up all the farmers markets or events in the usual places we like to go, only to find out that they were happening either the week before or the week after our intended visit. Much annoyance. Eventually the Manbeast got fed up with the to-ing and fro-ing over where to go and decided to make the decision for us and surprise me with a trip to Somewhere.

As it turned out, Somewhere turned out to be a little foodie tour of our favourite country spots, Trentham and Daylesford and some of the surrounding areas in the Hepburn Shire.

So our first (and longest) stop was in Trentham and wouldn’t you know it? There was a farmers market on.

So while we listened to the fun music…

… we shopped. And we bought food…

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

Real peanut butter made with real peanuts. Giant cookies and cured gourmet meats… Omnom!

What I didn’t take pictures of was the jerky and the home-made raspberry jam that we also bought. Hand-made and local produce really is the best.

But then I found a stall selling shortbread. Real shortbread. Made by real hands in a real home kitchen that’s probably much neater than mine…

Look at the magnificence that is the shortbread:

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

The shortbread shortly after I got it home… Yes, there is a piece missing. Call it ARTISTIC LICENSE. And I was hungry.

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

Another gratuitous shortbread shot. Drool. Oh, the flakey goodness. More drool.

Our food adventures weren’t to stop there as the Manbeast was also taking me somewhere nice for brunch. And as it turned out, we were going to Redbeard Bakery.

OMG.

This is my new favourite place, ever.

The food… ALL THE FOOD!

Seriously, it’s a lovely little cafe bakery with a great range of produce to buy and goods to devour on the spot.

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

Redbeard Bakery

But the highlight of brunch, and indeed the entire day out was this, the Vanilla Slice.

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

Behold, the custardy goodness! Yes, I attacked it before I took a photo of it. I couldn’t help myself.

I had an existential moment over this vanilla slice.

Or it might have been an orgasm.

I’m not sure which.

It was bloody good, though.

After recovering from the vanilla slice moment, the Manbeast whisked me off to a few more places (which fortunately had nothing to do with food as I was extremely full by this stage) but I will save those images for another time.

Now, one cannot go to Daylesford without visiting the Chocolate Mill. All year round (except February), the Chocolate Mill is a must-go destination for those who love good Belgian chocolate. And they have a great little cafe that does the nicest hot chocolates.

Our recommendation is the dark chocolate for hot chocolates. It’s the yummest by far.

Renlish.com - Trentham & Daylesford Food Tour

The Manbeast “posing” with his chocolate… and the sign to more chocolate… which I ate most of before thinking to take another picture. I suck as a food blogger.

So if you’ve made it all the the way to the end without drowning your keyboard in drool, tell me what you think! Do you know any other places (in Victoria) worth a visit to go and stuff my face at?

I’ve already got a certain chocolate factory in the Yarra Valley on my list…

The Weekly Bindi – Week 6

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

Watching the birdies from the couch.

So, we had a bit of a scare this week.

On Wednesday evening after popping in on Mum on the way home from work, I was greeted by a scene out of a horror movie.

Pools of very bloody bile everywhere.

It seems that Bindi’s tummy irritation flared up in a huge way again and she had thrown up all over the house.

My little Bindipuss wasn’t quite herself. She was wandering around the place looking a bit off. No winding figure eights around my ankles trying to trip me up as I walked down the hallway. No trying to herd me towards the food bowl. No noise.

It was the “no noise” bit that worried me the most. Anyone who knows Bindi knows she is a vocal cat when it comes to when she thinks it’s dinner time (aka ALL THE TIME) so for her to be near silent and not begging for food? Was not good.

Upset, I wandered around and cleaned up all the mess, getting increasingly distressed as I found each new puddle – the next one slightly bloodier than the last. I could track her movements through the house.

So the next day we were off to the vet for a new round of investigations and ended up bringing her home again with some new meds which, while they had the advantage of settling her nausea, also totally killed her appetite and even will to drink anything. I had to force-feed her water with a syringe to make sure she stayed hydrated because I wasn’t about to let a repeat of the near disaster of two years ago happen again. Three more days of this and I couldn’t take it so Saturday morning I took her back to the vet and cried “TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH HER!”

He couldn’t really give me an answer – the little shit of an animal was, by all outward appearances, fit as a fiddle. She didn’t even have a temperature. So of course the vet was looking at me as if saying, “Woman, you are wasting my time” while going through the motions of telling me everything that he didn’t think was wrong with her. In the end we mutually agreed to take her off the medication (with the exception of the gel for her hyperthyroid) and see if her appetite came back. So long as she wasn’t throwing up anymore, she was in no danger of expiring.

Sure enough, a day later and with no extra meds in her system, she’s now picking at food and getting noisy again.

The relief is, of course, short-lived. Noisy Bindi is very, very annoying.

But I’ll still take Noisy Bindi over Scarily Quiet Bindi any day.

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

“Are you really gonna take more photos, Mum? I. Don’t. Think. So.”

And since she was posing so nicely, I managed to get another nice shot of Dugite before she decided to go “Nope, nope, nope” and wander off again.

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi

This cat always looks like she’s thinking “Fuck you, human.”

Bead Soup Blog Party 2014 – The Big Reveal

Well after a week’s delay, here we have the results of my Bead Soup.

And… It’s not finished!

*hangs head in shame*

At least not finished in the way I’d like it to be, even though I kind of love it the way it is. Alas and alack, I realised too late that I didn’t have the bits I needed to finish it the way I wanted to and due to issues like me being unwell and the cat being crook, it just didn’t come together as planned. However I did stick with my initial design and went for simplicity. Peruzi beads really do speak for themselves and I didn’t want to take away too much attention from them by adding too much in the way of embellishments.

I will definitely be updating this necklace in the coming days so I can show what I REALLY had in mind for it, but for now I’m happy.

My necklace with beads and focal by Peruzi Beads

My necklace with beads and focal by Peruzi Beads

You can find the complete list of participants for the 8th Annual Bead Soup Blog Party right here!

You can see the absolutely magnificent job my BSBP partner, Tracy, did with the beads I sent her right here! She’s done an amazing job and made some stunning jewellery with what I sent her.

Just in case you need a reminder, this is what I sent Tracy:

Renlish.com - Bead Soup Blog Party 2014

Bead set, connector and toggle by Peruzi, Swarovski crystals in Fire Opal and Padparadscha, and a strand of purple toned Czech crystas=ls.

The Funnies

My dad posted a joke on my Facebook wall the other day.

It was one of those jokes where you could see the punchline coming from many, many, many miles away…

An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a Hawaiian and an Alaskan), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovak, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, a Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and 2 Africans
walk into a very fine restaurant.

“I’m sorry,” says the maître d’, after scrutinizing the group…

“You can’t come in here without a Thai.”

I just… Well, yeah.

shirlyv

I dressed up. In public. With other weird and wonderful people.

This momentous occasion was called Supanova and OMG IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

Picture, if you will, a 35 year-old newly converted convention groupie squealing like a school girl who’s just seen a penis for the first time.

Yeah.

That’s me.

And you still can’t get the grin off my face for love nor money.

I’ve been to a convention before and to be honest I wasn’t that taken with it – though that might have had something to do with the organisation of the event itself and the general people it attracted. I wasn’t really sold.

Then a friend of mine said “Come to America to DragonCon!” (another blog on that later) so I thought I’d get some practice in for that as well as geeking out with some other friends at a local con first. And of course my friends knew about my steampunk outfit and insisted that I wear it.  Considering how much I loved wearing it the first time for Anya’s wedding, I was more than happy to wear it a second time – so long as they dressed up too.

Yes, there is always a caveat with me.

It wasn’t without some trepidation that I drove myself into Ascot Vale a couple weeks back – and not without some difficulty, too – do you have any idea how tricky it is driving in a corset? I had to reposition all my mirrors because suddenly I was sitting up very, very straight. But anyway, yes… trepidation, self-consciousness, etc, etc, etc. I was feeling all the Bad Things™.

I need not have bothered feeling shy or out of place once I got there.

The first people to walk by me were Capt’n Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones and a Xena (Warrior Princess) in full regalia.

Renlish.com - Steampunk Friends

Me and Sandy in our steampunkiness. My theme was explorer/collector and she was a tinkerer.

Supanova was like something I had never experienced before. It was a place where people could revel in their fandoms, be their favourite characters and stretch their creative muscle. My efforts (and my mother’s efforts) with my own costume paled in comparison to some of the others who were there.

Alas and alack, I didn’t have my camera with me (sort of forgot in the excitement of everything) and so I don’t have any pictures but but a few that were taken of me by other folk. But these links will give you a good idea of the costumes and creations that were wandering around en masse throughout the day…

Slippery Photography – SupaNova 2014.

OzGeeks Supanova 2014 gallery.

Reg Kg’s Supanova Flickr set.

Anyhoo, aside from all the costume fun and madness, there was much shopping to be done. And boy did I shop. Foolishly I’d only taken about $40 with me to the con because; “Pfft, what am I going to buy?”

Huge mistake.

So after an ATM was located, about $250 made a lovely whooshing noise right out of my bank account. I don’t mind though, I got some beautiful artwork from a bunch of Australian artists – everything from a book of dragons by Emerson Ward to a beautiful Doctor Who print done in Mucha style created by Striped Designs and a fantastic print of Ash from Army of Darkness by Adam Nichols.

The huge draw cards for Supanova (and other conventions like it) are the appearances of the stars of the various geek and cult shows, past and present, that turn up to do panels/talks, autographs and signings. It’s all very cool and exciting. Sadly though, I am a book geek and not really a TV geek (unless you count Firefly or Game of Thrones or Big Bang Theory), so when it comes to meeting authors, I am extremely fangirly.

So imagine my shock – and subsequent joy – when one of Sandy’s friends said that Traci Harding was at Supanova.

Ahem. Guess which fangirl did NOT read her convention guide?

I knew Jim Butcher (of Dresden Files fame) was going to be there and I had been looking forward to meeting him but I had no idea Traci was going to be there too. I very nearly went into conniptions. Traci Harding was probably one of my favourite authors when I was in my last year of high school and all through uni and my early working days. Her books got a little weird for me after a while though I’ve since rediscovered a love for them – just in time for the release of the Ancient Future omnibus to be released.

So, yes… This happened:

Renlish.com - Traci Harding

Me. And Traci Harding. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

She was adorable and so nice. And my mother will not forgive me for not taking her along – never mind the fact that she was in Canberra that weekend!

Anyway, shortly after my run-in with my ultimate fandom, a girl from one of the publishing house stalls called Sandy and I over and asked if our costumes were Steampunk.

I am fairly certain the look on my face said; “I mean, really? You have to ask?”

In any case, we said yes and she was all, “Do you KNOW Michael Pryor?! He’s all Steampunk too! Can we get a photo of you all together?”

I didn’t know who Michael Pryor was but Sandy, who is a big fan of his, certainly did and she filled me in as we waited to meet him. Steampunk author? OH, HELLS YES.

So then this happened:

Renlish.com - Michael Pryor, Sandy and Me

Michael, Sandy and moi!

He was absolutely delightful and I am definitely looking forward to reading his novels.

It feels great to have a substantial TBR pile again. Books are my happy.

And I’m fairly sure that the girl at the Dymocks stand thought I was insane because I went back about four times to buy books to be signed. Hee.

And of course somewhere in between all of that I also met Jim Butcher (who is windswept and interesting) and a little-known NZ-come-Aussie author by the name of Ged Maybury who was just so cute and adorable in a sad puppy-ish kind of way that I had to buy his book without even knowing anything about it.

Renlish.com - Book Loot!

THE LEWTZ! Many books!
Top: Traci Harding – The Ancient Future
Middle Left: Michael Pryor – The Laws of Magic (Book 1)
Middle Right: Ged Maybury – Into the Storm’s Domain (Book 1)
Bottom: Jim Butcher – Changes (Dresden Files Book 12)

So yes. Supanova. Much fun.

Quietly going to see if I can get to the Sydney one in June…

The Weekly Bindi – Week 2

It’s still “this week”. I don’t really have a schedule for TWB, though I will aim for a Sunday/Monday night posting. It’s the end of the week now, though, but it still counts! Also, I don’t think I mentioned in my intro TWB post but any picture on any device counts. Cats have relatively short lives. If my cat’s going to do something cute I will take a picture with the nearest device able to do so, whether it’s my camera, my phone or my computer. (Which explains this week’s picture.)

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi, Week 2

A calculated move – reaching over to type means that she’ll get a belly-rub along the way.

Since starting her medication and obviously feeling better, Bindi has been slightly less neurotic and way more snuggly, particularly with me. I suspect it’s probably got more to do with the fact that it’s starting to get colder but I’ll take what I can get!

I took her for another blood test at the beginning of the week to see how her thyroid was reading now that she’s been on medication for a month and a half and yay, she’s completely normal. As in middle-of-the-range normal. Like a cat without a thyroid problem. Fortunately her kidneys are still in great shape too – hyperthyroidism in cats can often mask a more serious problem, that being kidney disease. The cat’s system is working so hard and fast to keep going that it actually helps with kidney failure, but once things are working normally, the kidneys can go kerplunkt too.

To be honest, I saw a change within a few days of starting the medication, even though we had been told it usually took at least two months for improvements to be visible. I thought it was my imagination but after two weeks even the Manbeast was asking me if I thought she looked better. She’s all glossy and she doesn’t feel so fragile. She’s even moving better too.

Our next step is to decide whether we want to go the radiation treatment for a permanent cure (or at least a 95% chance of permanent cure) or keep on with the ear gel. The radiation treatment will be around the $1500-1800 mark all up. The ear gel is a daily treatment for the rest of her life at about $100 a month. Both are big costs. I have friends who balk at the idea of spending that much on a cat; they look at me horrified when I tell them that I spent several thousand dollars on her when she was ill a couple of years ago only for her to get better on her own for the most part.

Yeah, there are some who would let nature take it’s course and I understand that. But I want Bindi to live the best possible life she can for as long as she can. In any case, I’ll let you know what we decide in a couple weeks.