Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Allergy free brandy, fruit and chocolate Christmas pudding recipe (baked like a cake)

This is a very large heavy pudding cake so if you don't think you'd be able to eat so much halve the ingredients below. Alternatively, use the previous pudding cake recipe for one the size of your average bundt cake.

  • 375g sultanas
  • 375g raisins, chopped
  • 300g currants
  • 50g prunes, chopped
  • 100g dried figs, chopped
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g glace cherries, chopped
  • 250ml brandy
  • 250g Nuttlex or lactose free butter, chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange marmalade
  • ½ cup cooked apple
  • 2 tsps No Egg, whisked with 60mls water until thick
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 2 cups Orgran plain flour
  • 1 cup Orgran self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, extra

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C fan forced.
  • Grease and line a large cake pan with Nuttlex or olive oil spray and grease proof paper.
  • Combine the sultanas, raisins, currants, prunes, figs, apricot and cherries in a large ceramic bowl.
  • Pour over the brandy.
  • Cover with cling wrap and set the fruit aside overnight, stirring occasionally. If you’re making the pudding in a rush then set it aside for an hour at least.
  • Use an electric mixer to beat the Nuttlex or lactose free butter, sugar and marmalade in large bowl until pale and creamy.
  • Add the No Egg mixture, beating well to combine.
  • Add the apple and beat until blended.
  • Add the fruit mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Add the melted chocolate, flours and cocoa and stir until combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the bundt pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.
  • Decorate with glace cherries or nuts as desired.
  • Cook for 110-120 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
  • Remove the pudding from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Set the pudding on a plate.
  • While still hot, drizzle extra brandy over the top of the pudding.
  • Cover with aluminium foil and allow to cool completely.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Allergy free gingerbread biscuits recipe

  • 1¾ cups Orgran plain flour
  • ¼ cup Orgran gluten free gluten
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarb soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • 1½ tsps ground ginger
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • 2 tsps Orgran No Egg whisked with 80mls water until thick, or 1 large egg (if possible)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps molasses
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1½ - 2 tbsps lactose free milk or water
  • 3 drops vanilla essence

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Line two baking trays with grease-proof paper or aluminium foil.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice.
  • In a separate bowl, blend the No Egg mixture or egg, sugar, molasses and maple syrup, beating until creamy.
  • Add the dry mixture about bit at a time, beating gently until just blended.
  • Using a rubber spatula, continue stirring until the dough comes together and separates cleanly from the inside of the mixing bowl.
  • Squeeze and press the dough until firm and smoothly textured and stop immediately once the dough is smooth. Do not knead as there is no real gluten.
  • Place the dough on a single sheet or cling wrap.
  • Roll out the dough until it is about a ½cm thick, keeping the rolling pin as clean as possible throughout to prevent the dough from sticking (a marble rolling pin is best).
  • Once rolled, use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.
  • Space the cookies at least 2cms or so apart on the baking trays.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them cool on the pan for 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix the sugar with the milk or water, adding a bit at a time, until very smooth. Stop adding milk once the desired consistency is achieved (soft enough to pipe).
  • Decorate the cookies by piping using icing piping equipment or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off.
  • Allow the icing to dry on the cookies before serving.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot

If Only They Could Talk
James Herriot

Fresh out of Veterinary College, and shoulder-deep in an uncooperative cow, James Herriot's first job is not panning out exactly as expected ...To a Glaswegian like James, 1930s Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges. On the one hand there are his new colleagues, Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, two brothers who attract a constant stream of local girls to whom James is strangely invisible. On the other he must contend with herds of semi-feral cattle, gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo...

Pan Books Ltd


Rosy's scrawlings on If Only They Could Talk
This book is the first of the series of James Herriot books that was later converted into the TV show All Things Bright And Beautiful. Whether or not you've seen the show you'll be familiar with the tune at least. The books and show were so popular they've entered our culture much like Dr Doolittle, another veterinary tale. Like many recent great stories that haven't hit the cannon list yet the books seem to have dropped from the popular reading list all while becoming a bit of or shared consciousness. This is quite a shame as If Only They Could Talk is not only an interesting read for all the veterinary information but also for its odd structure. It is also full of quirky and comedic situations and shines a light on the life of a rural vet.
If Only They Could Talk is the story of a year in the life of a newly graduated rural vet at a time when cars have just taken over from horses as the main mode of transportation. James is employed rather quickly by a vet named Siegfried Farnon in a little village made up mostly of farms and a pub or two, as far as I can tell. His employer is extremely odd, rather charismatic and has the memory of a fish. He also has a brother who's as lazy as they come but he puts so much effort into being lazy that his aptitude for intellectual activities is proven. From here the cast of quirky characters, including an overly fat and joyous Pekingese, expands. These characters, whether farm owners, high society ladies or pub guests are the centre of a very long series of short stories that reveal the life of James Herriot the vet's assistant. Each little story is only a few pages long, woven together with the next to create a meandering tale without real aim that seems to mirror the country in which James practices.
The writing style is a little jagged at times and there's many a veterinary term and medical condition included that can make you squeamish. There's also one reference to a gay man in very out dated and offensive terms but this doesn't seem to come from any ingrained reaction in the writer. Otherwise, the story rolls along like the hills, gently taking you into places and situations you're never likely to be in nowadays, unless you're a farmer. Veterinary science and practice has come a long, long way, as has farming, mortuary and abattoir work. Reading of how it once was is extremely interesting as there aren't that many sources readily available for looking into this past lifestyle.

I'd recommend this book to: Animal lovers, vets and those interested in becoming a vet, historical and comedy novel enthusiasts. I'd also recommend this book to anyone except those a little too young to read about more realistic animal birth scenes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My blackboard making project: not fiction or food but definitely for fun

Today's project was an odd one. I took an old and very beaten up frame that had no straight pieces to it and two broken corners, glued, nailed and cleaned it until it was reasonably respectable. Then I cut up a piece of masonite, sanded it back and gave it two coats of blackboard paint. I had to fix the masonite into the frame rather permanently in order to make the frame's parts straight. Then I attached loops on all four sides so that it can be hung however it is needed (kids don't consider upsidedown and rightsideup in the beginning). This is my space saver blackboard. Draw on it and hang after.

Now for the clock... I have to wait for the mechanism before I can really work on it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Johannes Cabal The Detective by Jonathan L Howard

Johannes Cabal The Detective
Jonathan L Howard

For necromancer Johannes Cabal, dealing with devils, demons and raising the dead is pretty much par for the course. But when his attempt to steal a rare book turns sour, he is faced by a far more terrifying entity – politics.
While awaiting execution for his crime, Cabal is forced to resurrect an inconveniently deceased emperor. Seizing his chance, the cunning Cabal engineers his escape, fleeing the country on a state-of-the-art flying ship.
But the ship has more than a few unpleasant surprises, including an unwelcome face from the past and the small matter of some mysterious murders. Cabal may work with corpses but he has absolutely no intention of becoming one. Drawn into a deadly conspiracy, is he shuffling dangerously close to the end of his mortal coil?
Johannes Cabal is back – a little older, a little wiser, but just as sharply funny, cuttingly sarcastic, and unexpectedly violent as ever.



Rosy's scrawlings on Johannes Cabal The Detective
I previously recommended the first book in the Johannes Cabal series. If you read the first book the experience should be more than enough to get you reading the second. If, however, you didn't read the first because of the satanic elements and have a general dislike for the paranormal in fantasy then you might just want to skip it and read the second. I found that this was possible as there's only one repeat character aside from Johannes (obviously) and all you really need to know is that her soul and her father's were in jeopardy thanks to Johannes, for the most part. That makes for a little tension and discord and there's where the character relations start. One tiny detail that might help is that Johannes brother had been a vampire after his death. There's a couple of vampire references and that's why Johannes' not all that pleased to hear them. Otherwise, this story is as good as the first for introducing Johannes and creating a world that appears only in this book (I say this not having read the 3rd book yet).
While the previous book delved deeply into necromancy, Hell and a bet with Satan this book concerns itself mostly with politics, impending war, a locked room murder and much more (which to mention will begin to give away the goodies). Necromancy does take place but mostly as the cause of and solution to (in part) Johannes' problems. So, for a book that's part of a dark comedy fantasy series the story is rather more detective in genre than expected. This doesn't translate as a break from the strange world of Johannes Cabal in the first book as the states entangled in high-tension politics are fictional as is the murder setting, which is a passenger aeroship, a construction somewhat similar to an Avengers hovercraft that's flying over mountains rather than the sea (Of interest, the boarding crafts fly like insects.).
The writing of Johannes Cabal The Detective isn't as easy to read as that of the first book, Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, largely because of the number of unfamiliar names: of states, weapons, aeroship structures etc. I mention this only as I noticed the unfamiliar words made it harder to read aloud to my bub (we sit on the front porch, watch the road and trees and I read aloud). If you're reading silently though, you should have no problem at all. The language is bubbling with words you'll rarely run across, which winds into the dark and dry wit used to emphasise Johannes' cynical take on the world.

I'd recommend this book to: those interested in murder mystery and political fantasy stories, black comedies and steampunk. Also, anyone who read the first book should greatly enjoy the second.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Allergy free pineapple, passionfruit and coconut pudding recipe

  • ⅔ cup Orgran self-raising flour
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut
  • 50g Nuttlex or lactose free butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 60mls water until thick
  • ⅓ cup lactose free passionfruit yoghurt
  • 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, diced
  • ½ cup caster sugar, extra
  • 50g Nuttlex or lactose free butter, extra

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Grease a ceramic baking dish with Nuttlex or olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, rice flour, caster sugar and coconut.
  • Make a well in the centre.
  • In another bowl, crush the pineapple pieces, strain and reserve the juice.
  • Add the melted Nuttlex or butter, No egg mixture, yoghurt and crushed pineapple to the flour mixture.
  • Stir until just smooth.
  • Pour the pudding mixture into the baking dish.
  • Place it on an oven tray.
  • In a small saucepan, gently heat the reserved pineapple juice, extra sugar and Nuttlex or butter until syrup forms and the Nuttlex or butter has melted.
  • Spoon the warm syrup over the pudding mixture.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden and puffed.
  • When serving, flip the pudding to be bottom up.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Allergy free Chocolate pumpkin pie recipe


  • 1 cup Orgran all purpose flour
  • ½ cup Orgran self-raising flour
  • ½ cup cornflour
  • 125g Nuttlex
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 40mls water until thick
  • ¼ cup cold water


  • Pumpkin, cooked (approx. ½ a large pumpkin, 1 medium, 1½ small)
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 100g Lindt 70% dark chocolate, chopped or quality cocoa
  • 6 tsp Orgran No Egg whisked with 120mls goat’s or lactose free cow’s milk until frothy and firm


  • Peel, seed, and dice pumpkin to fairly uniform sized pieces.
  • Bring the pumpkin to boil in a large pot and simmer until cooked through (soft).
  • Drain the pumpkin and then replace into large pot.
  • Allow pumpkin to cool while you make the pastry.
  • Grease the pie dish.
  • Combine the pastry flours, Nuttlex and sugar in a large bowl and rub the Nuttlex through until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Add the No egg mixture and ¼ cup cold water.
  • Combine until the pastry just comes together.
  • Roll and press the pastry together until smooth.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
  • Place remaining pastry between 2-4 sheets of cling wrap or baking paper.
  • Roll out until large enough to fit the pie dish.
  • Peel away the cling wrap from one side, flip the pastry into the pie dish, shape and cut away any excess.
  • Set the pastry base aside to rest.
  • In a blender, puree the pumpkin until smooth.
  • Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla essence, mixing until smooth.
  • Melt the chocolate pieces over a pot of simmering water.
  • Stir the chocolate (or cocoa) through the pureed pumpkin mixture.
  • Slowly and carefully fold the Orgran No Egg mixture into the pumpkin mix until evenly combined. Do not over stir as you want lots of tiny bubbles to remain in the mixture.
  • Pour the chocolate pumpkin mix into the pastry, level with a spoon if necessary.
  • Decorate or leave plain (I happen to be able to eat hazelnuts so I scattered some over the top.).
  • Cook until the top begins to crack: approximately ¾ hour-1 hour at 180°C.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You by The Oatmeal Matthew Inman

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You
The Oatmeal Matthew Inman

Blurb's most popular cat comics, including `How to Pet a Kitty` and `The Bobcats,` plus new and never-before-seen cat-themed works.

Andrews McMeel Publishing


Rosy's scrawlings on How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You
For anyone familiar with The Oatmeal none of this book's contents will come as a surprise. But for fans of the site there is some new material in this book so it might be of interest. For those who aren't familiar with The Oatmeal you may think this book can be easily compared to 101 Uses For A Dead Cat. In sarcastic humour and comic format yes, but otherwise the two books are quite different. How To tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You isn't entirely about how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you, for one. It is more about the often complicated and demanding relationship between humans and cats, including some behaviour reversals just for laughs. 
How To tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You is a book suitable for giving as a gift or for having about the house as the semi-risque comic book to be sneakily read by early teens (or yourself, if you aren't a teen). This book would also be appreciated by nearly every office worker I know because of the long Bobcats section. The Bobcats are two office working cats named Bob who wreak havoc about the office, alternatively like cats and like humans. The rest of the book is dedicated to house cats in there natural state, including their need to be as wild big cats and their desperate attempts for attention from those addicted to computers. If you own a cat or adore them from afar How To tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You is a book that will have you snickering.
The art style of the cat comics is exactly the same as those that appear on The Oatmeal: created on a computer rather than hand drawn. The images are large, colourful and bordered as though they were on a screen still. Most pages have only one panel on them and in general, only up to three or four are grouped together, making the images bold and clear.  

I'd recommend this book to: teens who have a catty friend/enemy/housemate, office workers and computer addicts with cats. Or cat owners and wannabe cat owners in general.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.
But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

William Morrow


Rosy's scrawlings on Horns
I bought this book prior to the movie but read it after. I haven't, however, seen the movie at all and I think I'd like to keep it that way. Not for the movie possibly lacking but for liking the way I imagined the characters as is. That and I feel that some of the psychological tension may be lost for more straight horror in the interpretation. I'm sure I'll see the movie at some point, given that the hubby collects horror movies like I collect books, and I doubt I'll be disappointed but I am expecting quite a few differences. In cases such as The Hitchhiker's series I've no problem with changes but normally I tend to hold on to whichever I run across first for a while, letting it simmer in the mind, before approaching a new version.
Horns is a story that falls squarely into horror but after that it is a blend of murder mystery, paranormal horror and psychological thriller. The story is divided into sections and time distorted much like a Tarantino film, except with fewer manipulations (no-one divides up time quite like Tarantino). With all these elements in play the story takes a little while to build up. I personally found some sections far more engaging than others, either due to the pace or the sub-genre of the section. I suspect others will feel the same but may prefer different sections to those I picked. For me, the psychological sections were less engaging as I've read and watched many a thriller with a sociopath or psychopath - they have become the main way killers are written nowadays despite their numbers in real life being less that your plain old greedy or hateful criminal. I rather preferred the paranormal elements, which largely left me guessing what was about to happen purely because I've not run across quite this type of paranormal story before. Demons and angels and gods and devils abound in paranormal fiction, sure, but the paranormal parts of Horns do have an intriguingly different take on such characters. As to the murder mystery, while you don't have to wait until the end to find out who did it, seeing the mystery through Ig's eyes is more than enough to keep you satisfied. In all, I found that the blend of genres and sub-genres was really well done as it keeps you reading, even when certain sections slow the pace. There are, however, times when you might want to skim a section to reach the bit you're most interested in. I don't suggest doing so though. Just keep on reading. You'll appreciate doing so when the story wraps up.
The writing style is smooth, vivid and colourful, making it easy to imagine what's happening in the story despite the blending of several genres and sub-genres. Characterisation, emotions and motivations play a large role in tying the story together and these also happen to be the most interesting aspects of the story. The actual horns and the other changes to Ig's physical form are fun to follow though, as is the mystery of the moon. All in all I'd say this book is a fun, engaging book well worth reading.

I'd recommend this book to: lovers of horror, psychology, murder fiction, as well as those interested in christian mythology, demons and devils. I'd also suggest this book for anyone interesting in reading horror for the first time as the blend of genres allows for an easy leap into the paranormal.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Allergy free chocolate sour cream cake recipe

  • 2 cups Orgran self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 110g lactose free butter or Nuttlex
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsps Orgran No egg whisked with 160mls water until thick
  • 2 tbsp low fat lactose free cow's milk or goat's milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250mls lactose free cream
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp icing sugar

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. 
  • Spray the inside of a cake or loaf pan with olive oil spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder.
  • In the separate bowl cream the butter or Nuttlex and the sugar.
  • Add the No Egg mixture and beat until combined.
  • Stir through the milk and vanilla essence.
  • In a small bowl, quickly whisk together the cream, lemon juice  and salt to make sour cream (will not thicken further).
  • Stir the butter mixture and sour cream into the flour mixture.
  • Pour the cake mix into the cake pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Allow the cake cool for 15 minutes then invert the pan and remove the cake.
  • Let the cake cool completely.
  • Place the icing sugar in a sieve, shake the sugar over the cake and serve.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King

The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Laurie R King

1915. The great detective Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honey bees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes - and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protegee and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. In their first case together, they must track down a kidnapped American senator's daughter and confront a truly cunning adversary - a bomber who has set trip-wires for the sleuths and who will stop at nothing to end their partnership.

Allison & Busby


Rosy's scrawlings on The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Just a short note on when I read this, how long it took and its perfection as the book to read at the time. I first started this book, a paragraph at a time, in hospital while caring for my new bub. I didn't manage to read much, as you'd imagine, and so the pattern continued for about a week. After that I read a few pages at a time during the midnight and early morning hours while feeding my bub and waiting for him to calm and drop off to sleep. And recently I've managed to read a few pages to a chapter at a time. 2 and a bit months later I've finished the book and have to say I couldn't have picked a better one for broken reading patterns, a reasonable level of stress and weariness, not to mention the general attention deficit parenting causes. High praise indeed considering I couldn't find another book in my rather large collection that would have done the trick of entertaining me, being highly memorable in minute detail and easily read in whatever portion manageable.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice is an interesting piece of crime fiction, especially given the dual trends towards violent murders and serial killings as well as homey neighbourhood crime watch stories. Instead of either, the story focuses on a series of crimes - kidnap through to attempted murder - and the detective work needed to solve them. Crime and detection divide the story into separate books in a manner that is reflective of Conan Doyle's style when writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. The flow of action, inclusive of Holmes' famous abductive and deductive reasoning, is quick but the steady pace by which information is divulged keeps the story as calm and thoughtful as it is dramatic. New to stories involving Sherlock Holmes are several issues regarding the sexes, which are neatly woven into the text. This might seem odd at first but these issues add depth both to the story and to Holmes' character, making him more instead of unbearably warping him. I believe this was made possible by the original Holmes simply not addressing or thinking on women much at all. Unless it was concerning a case.
On the issue of Sherlock Holmes' character, he retains all the essential personality traits and habits, including the violin playing and penchant for costumes and wild studies, but in The Beekeeper's Apprentice he is an aged version and with his age comes some mellowing. But only some. He also has a desire to find and groom his detective successor. As a representation of the original Sherlock there's more than enough to keep the fans of Conan Doyle's works happy. And as an added bonus, Sherlock isn't represented in first person but remains one to be looked upon and studied carefully, this time by Mary Russell who is his pupil and successor.
Unlike other books I'll leave all but the blurb and the beginning of the story (Mary Russell becoming Holmes' pupil) from the review for the very reason that if I mention one too many facts I might well destroy the delightful progression of the story. This is one book that needs to be read with only Conan Doyle's works as reference, if you'd like (the story would be enjoyable without reading of Sherlock in his original format, however). Avoiding in-depth blurbs is highly advisable as clues are dropped as soon as the case begins while the mood and mindset is set right from the beginning.

I'd recommend this book to: those who love stories on Sherlock Holmes and don't mind limited adjustments and progressions to his original character, crime and historical fiction as well as books with a mild, considering mood.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D and Frans Plooij, Ph.D

The Wonder Weeks
Hetty van de Rijt, Ph.D
Frans Plooij, Ph.D

Your Baby's Developing Mind: What a Wonder-ful World!
In The Wonder Weeks, you'll discover the specific dates during their first 14 months when all babies take eight major developmental leaps. And you'll learn how to help your baby through the eight great "fussy phases" that mark these leaps within a week or two. 
Wonder week by wonder week, you'll see how your baby's mind is developing. Now you will know which games and toys are best for your baby during each key week and how to encourage each leap forward. Calendars, charts, and checklists help you track your baby's progress-- and finally make sense of his fussy behaviour.
This is a baby book like no other. It will be your indispensable guide to the crucial "wonder weeks" of your baby's first year.

Rodale Books


Rosy's scrawlings on The Wonder Weeks
I'm writing this as a new mum with a 7 week old (tomorrow). You might think that I've had little use for this book yet, considering the age of my bub, but you'd be terribly wrong. This book has been the most helpful for me, and through me my husband, in knowing what's coming and keeping cool through the roughest times. While other baby care books spend all or most of their time on things like changing nappies and medical advice and methods of dealing with crying, this book has been the only one I've come across that's told me specifically why my bub might be acting as he does. And knowing why makes all the difference. It elevates my ability to relate from brand spanking new mum with no clue what to do but wrap, attempt to soothe and cry it out to responding to my bub's problems more directly. This started with knowing before he was even born just how he might experience the world. I also had a practical experience lesson during the pethidine drug trip I had to have for the pain that was making me want to throw up (I was c-ed for pre-eclampsia and his head not dropping and as it turned out this was an excellent thing as the cord was around his neck too). While under I heard light and saw music (which happened to be a Fats Waller track that was playing) and when in the recovery room I thought to myself that this must be a touch of the synesthesia that is mentioned to be the newborn's world before the first 'great' leap. The book and my drug trip helped me no end, I have to say. I could understand why my bub was the little dependent bundle he was and not just for the lack of knowledge and know-how. Understanding just what is and what changes and what is to come lets me and my hubby work out what we'd like to do in response before we're backs to the wall, fighting off the flood of screams, soiled nappies, snatched hair, sleepless nights, feeding problems and whatever else that comes along. Because, if you're new to this too, I can already say that the calm definitely comes before the storm and what you know as routine is nothing (or rather usable for that day and maybe, if you're lucky, a day or two to come). Chaos be a bub but The Wonder Weeks gives you a lot of very useful information to steer your collective life by. Instead of always feeling a step or many behind your bub's mood swings and mental changes you can now see those rough times ahead, have all your contingency plans ready, know when it is a good idea or bad to have your bub in someone else's care (mine becomes clingy and easily disturbed when he's otherwise unswayed by much and happy to adventure into other people's arms), know when it might be best not to go to that whatever as while it might be difficult at home it will be ten times more so away from home, when your bub is crying for new experiences rather than pain or tiredness, what sort of experiences might be wanted and so on. Some of the information may seem obvious, other bits you'll never have known or considered and more may be slightly different or N/A (as they say) to what you experience. And the times the growth spurts occur may vary too but if you read ahead this won't be an issue. My advice. As soon as your bub has passed a stage, read about the next and begin bracing yourself. Make that comfy spot on the couch, build yourself a castle, get as much organised beforehand as you can and settle in to being at your bub's moody whims for a while. Soon enough the calm will come and you can read on to the next step while you reclaim part of your life back again.
The Wonder Weeks is written for someone mostly mentally cooked (addle brained) but without condescending them. The layout is spacious, with lots of gaps, breaks in the text and large font for tired eyes. Still, the information is to the point and smoothly delivered. As mentioned, your experiences may vary but this book rarely guides you in how to as it focuses more on why and what. How you deal with the situation is largely left to you, which, I must say, suits my temperament as a new mum perfectly. I like to be able to figure it out myself and do things my way rather than always follow someone else's word. Why? Because me, my bub, my hubby, my surrounds, my supplies, my previous and post routines and my lifelines are all different to anyone else's. Obviously I need to get through my way. This makes The Wonder Weeks a far more useful baby book than most.
There are also notes from mothers (at least a few from fathers could have been included, especially father's on their own - the entire baby care industry and even parent health is very oriented towards mothers to the exclusion of fathers) that may come in handy for balancing your emotions and thoughts. For those who worry, self-analyse and generally tear themselves and their partners (if present) apart for it these notes may help bring a little peace. You aren't alone in your concerns and sometimes just knowing that and reading about what others have done to overcome certain problems will help. If, on the other hand, you're more headstrong, accepting of your own faults and/or have a little inner calm these notes can be skipped or read for the solutions as you please. No way of doing things is a problem although best not tear yourself and your partner (if present) apart as you are your bub's lifeline and best not lose your cool so much you harm your bub. If you think that's about to happen then follow all the normal advice and step away to get someone else's help. Every book and experienced parent and baby care pro will tell you that and that piece of advice is one to follow absolutely.

I'd recommend this book to: every new and some more experienced mums, dads and grandparents. I can even imagine this will come in handy to early childhood workers, older siblings helping to or in charge of minding their younger siblings and anyone else in close contact with a baby for a significant period of time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou by Yamauchi Yasunobu

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Yamauchi Yasunobu

High school boys are really simple and curious creatures. They want one and only one thing: girls. But they haven’t got a clue about them. Male teenagers are dumbfounded by the girls’ thought process, actions, appearance and everything in between. They spend countless hours amongst themselves discussing and arguing their theories which are usually completely off base. If only they had the courage to ask them instead of screwing around and talking about nonsensical things, they might get somewhere.

Alternative names
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Danshi Kōkōsei no Nichijō
Danshi Kokosei no Nichio


Manga reader sites (free)

Rosy's scrawlings on Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
This manga, mostly known to me by the title Daily Lives of High School Boys, is unusual in its construction. The manga is more like a comic strip in structure, following the short adventures and conversations of three high school boys and later three high school girls. The boys are the first to reveal their idiosyncrasies and idiocy. They spend their time playing role play games, wearing girl's underwear, gossiping and wondering just how a high school boy is supposed to get a girlfriend, not to mention what makes a man cool. Dotted in amongst these stories are ones of awkward 'conversations' about the wind, meant to impress but the timidity and fear of the high school boy's mind is revealed in full. There's much to laugh at in Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou and the girls are just as worthy of being laughed at as the boys. The girls, however, keep creating challenges and battles in order to find out who is the strongest, exchange fierce words with enemies and beat up the unruly boys. All while wondering at the boys' strangeness and at times wondering how they can get a boyfriend.
Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is a long series of comic-strip-like comedies of errors that snatch your attention yet allow you to read the stories at any speed you like. The humour is light and the insights into high school boys and girls amusingly accurate even if they are rather playful. There is a slow culmination of events but it is quite possible to read the strips individually and even start the stories at a random spot, although character introduction and relationship may need to be caught up on.
The art of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou is made up, by and large of a lot of close up stills. The wild action is limited unless the story is, for example, about role play or wearing female underwear (which usually leads to the boys being beaten up by disgruntled females missing said underwear). This leaves many panels focusing on expressions and stances to convey the variety of thoughts and emotions the characters experience. This may seem minimalist for a manga but the illustration style matches the short strip structure of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who like stories that offer little slices of life, short comic strips, anything comedy of errors and the lives of high school boys and girls.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Allergy free rhubarb and apple pudding recipe

  • Melted Nuttlex or olive oil spray, to grease
  • 500g rhubarb, trimmed, washed, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 500g granny smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 125g Nuttlex
  • ⅔ cup goat’s milk
  • 2 tsps Orgran No Egg whisked with 100mls water until thick
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1¼ cups Orgran self-raising flour
  • Icing sugar, to dust

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Lightly grease a 2 litre ovenproof baking dish.
  • Place the rhubarb, apple, lemon juice and ¼ cup of the sugar in the prepared dish and stir to combine.
  • Cover the dish with aluminium foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender.
  • In a large bowl, beat the Nuttlex and ½ cup of sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.
  • Add the flour, milk, No Egg mixture and vanilla.
  • Beat until all the ingredients are just combined.
  • Spoon the mixture over the rhubarb and apple.
  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Dust the pudding with icing sugar.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Allergy free buttered popcorn recipe

  • 2 large tbsps lactose free butter
  • 100g (approx.) unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1-2 tsps salt (optional)

  • Add half the butter to a wok and turn the heat to medium- high.
  • Add the popcorn kernels as the butter begins to melt.
  • Place a splatter guard over the top of the wok.
  • Before the popcorn starts popping stir the kernels a few times to ensure the butter evenly coats the kernels.
  • When the butter bubbles and steams begin rolling the popcorn about the bottom of the pan as much as possible.
  • When a third-half the kernels have popped, drop the remaining butter into the wok and continue rolling the popcorn to distribute the melting butter.
  • Keep the popcorn, popped and unpopped, in motion until the popping decreases significantly then remove the wok from the heat.
  • Pour the popcorn in a bowl and discard any unpopped or burnt kernels.
  • Sprinkle over the salt, as desired.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara

Yuki Urushibara

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi . . . perhaps.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Mushishi
Mushishi is a strange manga for a few reasons. I should say that it stands out rather than being strange, but either description will do. Mushishi is a slow paced, thoughtful and almost free of action. Ginko is a wanderer who tends to walk in and out of small villages, working on a variety of problems caused by mushi. The mushi themselves are almost intangible lifeforms that aren't normally sensed in any way by people but occasionally they cause illnesses or strange abilities, with many a drawback for humans. Ginko is one who wanders because not only can he sense them but he draws them to him. Staying in any place for too long means risking a build up of mushi and a catastrophe of unknown proportions. These storyline restrictions makes Mushishi unusual as the mood, if not the general plot, is almost the antithesis of popular manga styles, which tend to be fast paced and filled with extraordinary action sequences.
The mushi of Mushishi are interesting life forms. They appear like bacterial ghosts and sometimes take the form of humans or beasts that dwell in a slightly different reality or realm. The mushi are what Ginko spends his life dealing with while others with similar abilities to his own tend to kill them. Ginko is a calm force even within the story's world, his laid back and somewhat distanced nature giving him a perspective on life that almost no other shares. All life is worth saving, wherever possible, and so he strives to find a balance for all.
Otherwise, Mushishi  is constructed of short episodes taking place in different towns and villages. The stories are all rather timeless except through the scattered stories that explore Ginko's past. There's a sense of isolation in each story that heightens the ghostly presence of the mushi, making Mushishi a ghost story with a difference.
The art of Mushishi has a sketchy, scratching style that's smoothed over with extensive shading. The landscape looms large and is often haunting for the snow, rough dwellings, dense forests and scraggly trees. Ginko is eternally smoking a cigarette and studying his surrounds with his one eye. The art has a stillness and calm that is strikingly different from most mangas and is a pleasure to read for it.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who like slow paced thoughtful stories, ghost stories, the "tree of life", philosophy and the wanderers life.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Best quotes from Romeo and Juliet for tattooing

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."

"But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?"

"Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow."

"Thus with a kiss I die."

"This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet."

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.” 

“Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake- its everything except what it is!"

“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” 

“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” 

“Oh, I am fortune's fool!” 

"What else is love? It’s a wise form of madness."

“My only love sprung from my only hate.”

“Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.”

“One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun.”

“He that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail.”

“What must be shall be.”

“Ready to go but never to return.”

“How much salt water thrown away in waste
To season love, that of it doth not taste.”

“Thou canst not speak of thou dost not feel.”

"Life, living, all is Death’s.”

“What's in a name?”

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe

Black Lagoon
Rei Hiroe

The story follows a team of mercenaries known as Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia. Their base of operations is located in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand, and they transport goods in the PT boat Black Lagoon. Lagoon Company does business with various clients, but has a particularly friendly relationship with the Russian crime syndicate Hotel Moscow. The team takes on a variety of missions - which may involve violent firefights, hand-to-hand combat, and nautical battles - in various Southeast Asian locations.

Alternative names
Burakku Laguun



Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox, Manga Here

Rosy's scrawlings on Black Lagoon
This is yet another manga I learnt about from the social network grapevine. It came up a few times over the last year or two but I hadn't gotten around to reading. There was one failed attempt to but I must have been in the wrong mood, dropping it after about a chapter. This was a mistake, I admit, but then, the first chapter or so are a little lukewarm compared to those that come. What follows though, will have you hooked both for the ludicrous amounts of guns, blood and explosions, the roughness of the various women, the strange array of characters and the fast pace of the world in which Lagoon Company operates.
It is hard to describe Black Lagoon as it is a story that has many twists and turns, a wide range of characters to track and a series of connected mini stories. The best of stories often have such features and often require the commenter to begin rabbiting endlessly in order to explain the story, so it is no surprise that describing Black Lagoon has me facing the same issue. Suffice it to say that there's a group of misfits making an often violent living as traders/deliverers in a city ruled by equally or more violent groups such as the mafia, ex-Russian soldiers come crime syndicate, The Church Of Violence weapons traders (nuns with guns) and the CIA and other American secret service interlopers. The entire world they work within is corrupt and they fit right in, for one reason or another. Respectable lives for each of the crew members was either lost or never had and they each enjoy their life of violence far too much. The main pair of characters to follow are Revy Two Hand (a woman with severe attitude and a love for guns), and Rock the salary man from Japan who found himself at the mercy of Lagoon Company as one of the packages they traded in. Although saved by Revy, Rock still holds on to a more hopeful view of life. Revy, on the other hand is learning to put up with such optimism, at most. Together they fight for survival and sometimes a better outcome, but nothing much more except for pay.
The art of Black lagoon is a little unengaging for the first chapter or so, probably feeding the mild disinterest I felt with the first attempt. But soon enough the style settles into one that is bold and full of character. There's occasionally a very pretty or cute manga aspect to the illustrations but these generally focus on the younger characters. The action is fast paced and smooth, pushing the story forward and providing much that is visually interesting.  Otherwise, the only strange point is that everyone seems to always wear a set costume.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who love action with extreme violence, gun fights, stories involving the criminal and secret intelligence worlds and those who like to see their nuns and maids sporting big guns and bazookas of the explosive nature. Given the even mix of male and female leads this will appeal to men and women who fit the above but I wouldn't suggest this manga to the young and young at heart.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.