Gluten-free Ginger and Coconut Cake

4oz butter – melted
2 tablespoons golden syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs – beaten
½ cup coconut
2 cups gluten-free self raising flour – sifted
2 level teaspoons ground ginger
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon mixed spice
pinch of salt
½ cup milk
(shredded coconut and flaked almonds
for topping)

Add the golden syrup to melted butter while still warm and stir in the brown sugar.  When the mixture has cooled, add the beaten eggs and mix well. Stir in the coconut and add the sifted flour and spices alternately with the milk.
Pour into a greased and lined 18cm square cake tin.
Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the batter and then scatter with flaked almonds.
Bake in a moderate oven (160°c fan forced) for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Using gluten-free flour makes this a nice light textured cake.

Add a comment

Cartier Exhibition at the National Gallery, Canberra

This beautiful dolphin bracelet, photographed at the Cartier exhibition in the National Gallery of Australia, is just one of more than 300 spectacular items on display.  With loans from royal families and celebrities, as well as jewellery from the Cartier collection, this is a must-see destination on your visit to Canberra.

With thousands of precious stones, this snake necklace has so many moving parts. It can curl around your neck just like a real snake.
The two crocodiles can be worn separately as brooches or together as a necklace. Made from platinum, white and yellow gold and many precious stones – emeralds, rubies and diamonds – these glittering pieces of jewellery are quite breathtaking.

The Scarab brooch – made in 1925 from gold, platinum, diamonds, ruby, emerald, citrine and onyx – is reproduced here on a magnet bought as a memento of our trip to this amazing exhibition.

Add a comment

Bonsai at the National Arboretum in Canberra

Pictured above are just a few of the beautiful bonsai plants we viewed in the National Bonsai and Penjing collection of Australia.  Situated at the National Arboretum in Canberra, this collection – the best bonsai exhibition in Australia – has trees from almost every country represented, including Chinese elm, cedar, maple, banksia, angophora and paperbark.
This amazing exhibition, which is carefully tended by enthusiastic and very knowledgeable volunteers, usually has about 80 bonsai on display.
Australian natives make up about 20 per cent of the exhibition, and I was particularly impressed with the banksia bonsai (which is featured above).


Add a comment

Camellia Sasanqua

Our garden has no camellias at the moment, but we were able to photograph these beautiful sasanqua flowers which tower over the fence of our neighbours’ property. The branches of the camellias, which are laden with flowers, hang over the dividing fence and make a lovely background as well as providing privacy.
Camellia sasanqua is a species of camellia native to China and Japan. It is usually found growing at altitudes of up to 900 metres, but is quite happy in the suburbs of Sydney and the Central Coast (which are almost at sea level).  It is an evergreen shrub growing to 5m tall, and in late summer and autumn is covered with delicate flowers. Sasanqua flowers tend to fall after a day or two, leaving a beautiful carpet of colour.

1 comment

Collectable Owls

Owls come in all shapes and sizes, and those pictured below are no exception.

The white raku-fired owl has a lovely crackled surface and is decorated with a pretty blue pattern.

This antique wooden owl has been highlighted with gold paint. It is intricately patterned and carved from solid wood.

Made from a blend of resins and fillers and hand painted, the third owl is very well detailed and coloured. It is one of a series of wild life wall figures by Bossons Artware (Owlet No 57) and was made in England.

Hand painted on a smooth river pebble and designed as a paper weight, the fourth owl has remarkably detailed features and very soulful eyes.

Add a comment

Mt Ettalong Lookout

Mt Ettalong Lookout is a 1.4km return hike which takes about 30 minutes to complete. This short walk, with great views and easy access through the bush, takes you from a large water tank along an old trail to a fenced lookout platform with views over Umina Beach. 

Numerous unofficial lookouts lead off the main trail, revealing stunning coastal scenery. Great views can be seen from this rock platform overlooking Pearl Beach, with Lion Island and Pittwater in the distance.  

Banksia integrifolia (above), commonly known as coast banksia, are growing in profusion in this exposed area near the lookout.

The Grass tree Xanthorrhoea, which grows from 1-5m in height, is a uniquely Australian plant. In the above photo the grass trees grow happily among the rocks and look amazing with the spreading branches of the Sydney red gums.

Add a comment

Interesting Teapots

These enameled and hand-painted limited edition teapots are miniature in size. The teapots are 85cm tall (including the lid) and 100cm wide from spout to handle. The centre teapot features five frogs and numerous dragonflies, and has an attached brass tag with the following information: “certified original by C. Maddicott. © 1996“.

This small Raku-fired teapot – made on the Central Coast of New South Wales – is light green with a beautiful red coppery glow. It has a tiny spout and a miniature lid, but is not fully functional (the raku-firing does not achieve high enough temperatures to make the clay waterproof).
The small brass and enameled ornament is an incense stick holder.

An antique carved wooden teapot stand makes an ideal display space for my  cast iron Japanese teapot.  A pair of Japanese teacups, beautifully glazed in teal green and white, complete the setting.

Very decorative, this pretty little teapot is covered on both sides with pink flowers and buds. The butterfly on top – nestled in a flower – forms the handle of the removable lid.

All of the above teapots and cups were gifts from my family and friends. They make an interesting addition to my teapot collection.

Add a comment

Pagodas at East Gosford Japanese Gardens

A gift from Edogawa, the Japanese garden is situated in the grounds of the Gosford Regional Gallery and was officially opened in September 1994.
With a Japanese pavilion, tea house, well stocked Koi pond, pagodas and  beautifully manicured gardens – all linked by meandering pathways – this is a lovely setting to enjoy art and nature.

Add a comment

460 Gallery and Sculpture Park

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Greenway Chapel and Memorial Garden, located between Gosford & Kincumber, is set in an idyllic bush setting that once was the site of the ‘460 Gallery & Sculpture Park’.
First opened in 1988, the sculpture park consisted of 16 acres of landscaped area with a lake, streams, a bridge and lawns featuring large scale outdoor sculptures by leading Australian artists.
Most of those features remain and can be accessed while enjoying a stroll around the park (situated to the left of the chapel carpark). There is no definite walking track but the large sculptures invite you to wander around the grassy area and take a few photographs. Sadly the two small galleries (which used to showcase paintings and pottery) are no longer open.
There is a pleasant walled courtyard garden and extensively landscaped grounds around the Greenway Chapel, which is also worth viewing.

Add a comment

Owl slideshow

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Made from Feeneys buff raku clay, these little owls were hand-built.
Pinch pots were used for the bodies. The feathers and wings were formed separately and attached using an old toothbrush to roughen the surface. The face was patterned using pottery tools, then the eyes, beak and feet were added.
The speckled surface showing through the glaze gives the fired pottery a rough stone-like appearance.

Add a comment