Saturday, January 26, 2013

Would You Like Fries With Your Milk?

On the Gold Coast McDonald are now trialling selling milk at their stores. You can read the article about it here. They're packaging this action as something altruistic and benevolent. It's you and McDonald against the evil duopoly of Australian retail. Excuse me???

I don't live in Queensland and I've never been to the Gold Coast. Are there really that few independent retail outlets up there? There seems to be no shortage of IGAs elsewhere. I see the role of the IGAs as akin to what Don Chipp described as the role of the Australian Democrats (remember them?) which was "to keep the bastards honest." The duopoly may have a monopoly on the retail market but, as long as the IGAs exist and we keep them in business, then retail remains a little more fair, anyway. I certainly don't see this as the role of a multi-national. In my cynical opinion, McDonald is doing this for one reason and one reason only: more money. And what's worse, they're cashing in on people's fears of the duopoly.

Picture this, you have to dash out and buy milk so you go to good old "Maccas". You really only intended to get milk but those fries smell so good. Some people will just buy the milk, others won't. And for every customer that buys fries while they're there, McDonald has made a sale it wouldn't have otherwise made. I think it's opportunistic.

What I will applaud is McDonald's decision to sell Norco milk. This is a company that is still locally owned. If you think about it, though, the same people who are concerned about the duopoly are probably the same ones who care about buying local milk. That is also a clever strategy by McDonald.

On the upside, however, if someone is concerned about the duopoly and buying local, they're probably not going to be interested in helping McDonald profit either. It can call itself "Maccas", package itself as being "true blue", sell lamb burgers and local milk but, let's face it, we all know it's a multi-national company and probably worse than either Coles or Woolworth.

One thing is for sure: if I'm ever forced to buy milk at McDonald in the future, I'll be buying it without fries and won't be upsizing!


Monday, January 21, 2013

What Did I Get For My Birthday?

I've written several times about gift giving and its inherent stressfulness. What about receiving? What did I get for my birthday? What kinds of things do I like to get?

  • Husband, Teenage Daughter and Teenage Son bought me a new gold chain to replace the broken one which had held my Star of David. (I have signature pieces of jewellery I wear everyday and my star is one of them.)
  • Teenage Daughter also gave me a handmade notebook to carry in my handbag and a purple scarf.
  • Teenage Son also gave me a block of chocolate.
  • Dear Old Dad and My Lovely Stepmother and The Father-in-Law all gave me money.
  • The Boyfriend gave me chocolate. He had discreetly sussed out just what to buy over lunch the day before.
  • The Girlfriend gave me a bunch of flowers. They were hand-picked and a few are still alive over a week later.
  • One of my besties came over the evening of my birthday with a bottle of champagne and announced present was pending. After noticing the mismatched glasses I served the champagne in she turned up a day or two later with a new set of champagne glasses for me.
  • Another bestie with whom I don't usually exchange gifts dropped over yesterday with a soy candle she had handmade for me.
  • Another dear friend gave me a basket of homemade edible treats, most of which are already gone.
What am I going to do with the money? I already spent some of it on a second-hand Anne Rice novel and a red hat. I need new make-up so I'll spend some on that. That will still leave me about $40. I think I'll go op shopping!


What's For Dinner?

What’s on the menu this week?

  • Left over Hokkien Noodle Salad made with a mixture of veggies from our garden and those left over in the fridge
  • Steamed chicken fillets with couscous tabouli using couscous from the pantry, a lemon in the fridge and herbs from our garden
  • Zucchini Fritters and tomato/cucumber salsa and sour dough toast using up some goat’s curd cheese, sour cream and feta in the fridge, veggies from our garden and left-over bread from the freezer
  • Fish, Moroccan potato wedges and garden salad using potatoes from the fridge and salad makings from our garden   
  • Fried Rice using rice from the pantry, eggs from the fridge and veggies from our garden

I spent next to nothing at the shops this week! Husband is quick to remind me, however, that the water bill is going to be enormous since we haven’t had enough rain yet for the rainwater tanks to be a viable watering option. I counter this with the fact that one can’t put a price on freshness and nutritional value. Then I realise I’ve just shot myself down because I was the one gloating about how much we’d saved at the supermarket.

Later, Husband looks at me across the table, smiles and says, "I can garden and cook well!" as we munch on our steamed chicken and couscous tabouli. I nod in agreement because my mouth is way too full of food to speak.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gifting and Regifting

Before I begin today's post I want to let you know that the lovely organic cafe where we ate in Hahndorf is The Seasonal Garden & Cafe. It doesn't have a webpage but, if you're on Facebook you can find it here

In the lead up to Christmas I read several blog posts about the merits of buying and giving second-hand presents. It wasn't something I'd ever done before. Frankly, it was something I was embarrassed to try. That embarrassment stems from my anxiety about gift giving. Generally speaking, if I'm not 100% sure that someone will like the present I give I buy a gift certificate. There is nothing wrong with gift certificates; I love getting them. I prefer to give and receive personal presents that show that someone really knows what I like. I guess it's a way of saying to someone that you know them well.

I've always had mixed feelings about regifting, as well. Part of me thinks it's insulting. Even though once you give a gift it's out of your hands, it upsets me to think someone may want to give away my gift. As you can tell, when God was giving out self-esteem I was on a toilet break and missed out. I've stored many a gift I've received over the years for fear of giving it away and offending someone. Either that or I've furtively gone to an op shop in dark glasses and head scarf to donate it to charity, hoping the giver doesn't shop there.

Yesterday, however, I had an "a-ha moment". It all started earlier when I decided to buy The Girlfriend a Stephen King book for her birthday. Now, she has only been The Girlfriend for four months so I didn't want to scare her with an expensive present; I just wanted to give her a little something to mark the occasion. Books are not cheap here in Australia but the young lady enjoys to read and we'd already given her a little bracelet for Christmas. Teenage Son asked subtle questions and ascertained that she loves second-hand books. You probably gathered from yesterday's post that the book shops we went to were second-hand.

As I sat making her card yesterday evening it occurred to me that books are meant to be read and shared. It's great to keep favourites but it's also great to pass books on. Why let them sit and gather dust when they could be in circulation for countless people to read? I realised that, not only did I not care if The Girlfriend regifted, donated or sold the books after she'd read them, but I'd be happy for her to do so; that way others could enjoy the books. I further realised that she wouldn't care whether they were second-hand or not, only that she now owned two of the books on her wish list. The Girlfriend was thrilled when she got her present this morning and I received a heartfelt hug from her.

That wasn't all, however. I then began to extrapolate that thought to all gifts. I sit here typing, wearing a second-hand dress my daughter bought for me for my birthday just over a year ago. (I picked it out.) It's pretty, cool and comfortable on our very hot day. I have another one bought at the same time. There is no way I would have let Teenage Daughter buy me two new dresses - too expensive for her. It simply didn't matter that they were second-hand; they were exactly what I wanted. I've never had a problem with other people buying second-hand presents; I just couldn't imagine doing it myself. I didn't want to offend anyone. Now I realise though that it isn't about where the gift is purchased; it's about the gift itself. So, from now on, I'm going to be more watchful on my visits to op shops because you never know when the perfect gift for someone may appear.

As for regifting or giving away gifts. I don't care about that anymore either. The gift may not be a book but, if I give someone something they don't want, need or like, I hope they will pass it on to someone who will.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Mixed but Delightful Day

Yesterday I accidentally got to spend a wonderful day with Teenage Son. He was meant to go elsewhere but it fell through so I suggested he may want to come with me birthday shopping for The Girlfriend. I had a list of Stephen King books that she's keen to read.

The catch was that he had to sit through my forty five minute naturopathic appointment.

He brought his book and when my irises had been read, I'd been massaged and punctured with needles, Teenage Son and I set out. Our first stop was Maisie's Books on Jetty Rd at Brighton, a short walk from my naturopath's rooms. Whilst we had fun browsing, we couldn't find any of the books we wanted.

We hopped in the car for the short drive to Glenelg. It was a warm day so our premier beachside suburb was packed. Having lived there for several years, however, I knew where I was going and where to park. Despite that it was still a pleasant ten minute walk to Glenelg Book Exchange where the owner not only showed us where the Stephen King books were located but took my list and took the books off the shelf for me. I bought a hardback copy of Misery and a paperback copy of Pet Sematary. An Anne Rice I haven't read yet also caught my eye so I grabbed that one, too. When I got to the check-out I learnt there was a 20% discount on all books that day. Things just kept getting better.

We moved to Glenelg in 1981 and Mum lived there until her death 25 fives years later. When we moved there the book exchange was in a smaller shop. Glenelg had everything but department stores and a library. Mum used the book exchange as her library; she'd buy books and then trade them back. Even after the Glenelg library opened she continued to use both places. Needless to say, I was saddened to learn that it's closing. The owner told me he has other projects he wants to work on and the used book business isn't as profitable as it used to be. I was kind of glad Mum wasn't around to see the end of her beloved book store.

Teenage Son and I then went a couple of doors down to a local cafe, Grind It, for lunch. Teenage Son loved it and I suspect it was less to do with the food and more to do with the jazz trumpet numbers coming through the speakers.

On the way home Teenage Son suggested that if I needed any groceries I could stop on the way home. It was when we got to our local shopping centre that things went a little pear shaped as far as Footprints went. It all started when I decided that the best way to cope with turning 50 in 363 days would be to begin a red hat and purple clothing collection*. I told Teenage Daughter who told me there were some cute red hats at our local two dollar shop. I even went there with her and tried one on. I looked good in it. So, I bought one yesterday with no regard at all for who had made it or where it came from. Aaargh.



When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
Jenny Joseph

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Footprints Kind of Day

Husband took a cheese making course some time ago with local cheese producers, Udder Delights. He found out a few months ago through a friend that people who like Udder Delights on Facebook can get some great bargains and/or freebies on occasion so he signed up. Last week he was able to get a substantial amount of cheese for a greatly reduced price. The only catch was that it had to picked up from the Udder Delights shop in Hahndorf last Saturday.

In the absence of our rabbi, various congregation members are leading service at our synagogue. Last Saturday, the children and I did so. Instead of going home immediately afterwards, we incorporated the cheese pick-up into the drive. We filled up on challah - delicious Jewish plaited bread - because it was around lunch time when the service finished and set out for Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.

Driving through the hills isn't the most inspiring experience at this time of year. The landscape is slightly depressing because the grass is dead from the dry and heat of summer. Nevertheless, we were all excited; Husband and I hadn't been to Hahndorf for years and neither of the children had ever been.

We walked the main street for a little while in search of somewhere to have lunch. It was awash in a myriad of small, independent eateries. The one which caught our eyes, though, was the vego, pinko, tree-hugger option. We couldn't go past the sign which read organic local produce. Hahndorf is a Germanic town and many tourists would feel the need for a bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard for lunch. That being the case, the manager greeted us with an explanation of the menu which included a caution that if we wanted a meat based Germanic lunch we should perhaps try elsewhere. We assured her we did not and were led out the back to a courtyard filled with mismatched furniture. We loved it already without even trying the food.

Husband, Teenage Son and I shared two local produce and one salad plate, and Teenage Daughter had toast with tomato, basil and feta. She also helped us eat ours as they were overflowing. The produce plate had cheese, kalamata olives, and two veggie dips that were thick and chunky like chutney. It came with fresh crusty bread. The salad plate was overflowing with a variety of salads from green to bean to potato. A crunchy carrot one seasoned with coriander dressing captured our taste buds. Then the bill came and we thought we might have to do a runner; not because it was expensive but because we thought the waitress had added it up wrongly. She hadn't. Not only was the food wonderful and the vibe good but the prices were exceedingly reasonable. I'd highly recommend it if I could remember the name. Finding it out is a work in progress - I'll get back to you on that.

Following lunch we dawdled to Udder Delights dipping in and out of local food shops on the way. Finally, Husband picked up his cheese and who should we see there collecting his cheese but the friend who'd told Husband to follow Udder Delights on Facebook. That's Adelaide!

In the late afternoon Husband and I enjoyed some of the cheese with local beer under our pergola. Then Husband cooked our dinner using veggies and herbs from our garden to make a ratatouille.

It was a perfect Footprints kind of day.