Monday, July 16, 2012

Spanky & The Zookeeper go to Fiji!

One count down over, another starting.

Its been two weeks since The Zookeeper and I returned home from our Fiji trip. We had such a good time. We did everything we wanted to do (rest, read, swim, rest, eat, rest).

This was about my 8th time to Fiji, while it was The Zookeepers first.

We took the Saturday midnight flight out of Melbourne, which left about an hour late, so we where both very tired by the time we boarded the plane, and promptly slept the whole flight (4hrs).

We arrived in Nadi somewhat refreshed and happy to be in warm weather (25deg at 7am rather than the chilly 5deg it was back in Melbourne!). We took a taxi to the marina, had breakfast, looked around at the shops and brought a few food things from the small supermarket. Then it was a 45min boat trip out to Musket Cove Island Resort.
Beach at Musket Cove Island Resort
Sitting by the pool
 It was so nice to arrive at the island, you instantly felt like “this is real, we are really on holidays”. We where shown around the resort and taken to our room. We where in a ‘Hotel room’ which is the top floor of a house (bottom floor is now office space), and there is only 6 ‘Hotel rooms’. The rooms where large with plenty of space for the two of us (even if there had been 3 people it would have been fine). We had deck space as well with table and chairs. It was a short walk to the restaurant and pool area and for the price we paid we where happy with it.
Musket Cove Island Resort, Hotel Room - Ours was the corner right one
Inside the Hotel Room
 We really did spend our days doing very little.

We walked a lot of the island.    

 Snorkelled out at the sand bar.

Resting after snorkelling

Enjoying the 'Snorkel' trip

Did a dolphin trip, saw dolphins & snorkelled/ swam some more.
The Zookeeper snorkelling

 Swam in the pool.
Enjoying cooling off while having an internal heater of a baby
 Ate at each of the restaurant/cafĂ© options the resort offers.  
Swam in the ocean. 
Sat by the pool. 
Sat by the ocean.
Doing a good whale impersonation
The Zookeeper also made a very good dent in the cocktail bar drinks menu.

Not all cocktail drinks that where drunk where captured in photo......

After 8 nights at Musket Cove Resort, we packed our bags, enjoyed a last dip in the ocean and took the boat back to the main land.

We spent the next 3 nights at the Terrace Apartments on Denarau.  I chose this place to stay at because it was a short walk across the car park at the marina which gave us lots of option for meals and would be a bit quieter than some of the larger resorts nearby.
Pool area at the Terrace Apartments 
After hopping off the boat and collecting our bags, we just walked over to the apartments. Check in was easy and although our room wasn’t ready yet, we where fine with that as we where happy just heading back over to the marina to get some lunch.

Our room was a nice one bedroom apartment, on the ground floor and at the end of the complex. The pool was a nice size, and there was generally enough lounge chairs around it for everyone.

On one of our days, we took the Bula bus ($8Fjd) around Denarau to check out all the resorts. It was nice to get an idea of what they all look like, checking out their pools and restaurants and shops. It was a good way to spend a couple of hours.

We really enjoyed having the marina such a short walk away. We went over for lunch and dinner every day. For our lunches we ate them all at Lulus, as there was a nice variety and the price was good. For dinners we ate at Indigo’s (Indian) twice as it was just so yummy! We also had a dinner meal at Condos, which offered typical bistro type meals.

While staying at the apartments, we made use of the Spa facilities. We got pedicures and on the travel home day we got shoulder, neck & head massages after checking out of our room – just to keep us in the relaxed mode as long as possible!

We enjoyed a few hours in the warmth of Nadi International Airport before boarding our flight home, where The Zookeeper realised that although our flight over was a lovely 4hrs, it was going to be 5.5hrs going back home.......

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Brownie crunch

For Granddads birthday party, I decided to make some brownies.

I love brownies. I love them a lot.
I can not eat nuts, so I like it when I find a good brownie recipe that doesn't require nuts in it (most of them end up really good because they always have good amount of chocolate in them).

For the birthday party, I decided to experiment and combine two of my favourite foods - brownies and choc chip cookies.

I made two types. I tried brownie on bottom, cookie on top and the opposite (cookie bottom, brownie top).

Almost everyone at the party tried both, and the general opinion was that the brownie on the bottom, cookie top worked best (although all where happy to eat it the other way around!). It was just that with the cookie on top, it baked a bit better and had a better 'crunch' to it.
Cookie on bottom, brownie top

Brownie bottom, cookie top

So, here is my recipe for a Brownie Crunch (brownie bottom, cookie top):

Brownie Part:
- 90g Butter
- 80g Dark Chocolate
- 1cup caster sugar
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1/2teaspoon Vanilla Essence
- 1/3 cup Plain flour
- 1 tablespoon Self Raising Flour
- 2 tablespoons Cocca Powder
- 30g Dark Chocolate, chopped, extra

Cookie Part:
- 70g Butter
- 1/4cup Caster Sugar
- 1 Egg (an extra egg may be needed if they are small)
- 1cup sifted Self Raising Flour
- Choc Bits (up to you how much you use & what type)

What to do:
- Turn Oven on slow (about 160deg C).
- Line a slice tin (approx 20x30cm) (I just use baking paper).
- Make Brownies part - Melt butter & chocolate in saucepan until smooth (don't boil!). Cool 'til just warm. Stir in sugar, Eggs, Vanilla, Flours, Cocoa. Add extra chocolate.
- Spread Brownie mix into tin.
- Make Cookie part- Cream Butter & Sugar together. Add egg & flour, mix. Add Choc bits.
- Either spread Cookie mix over top of Brownie mix, or roll into balls and place them over brownie mix (this allows the brownie mix to break to the top in areas).
- Put into oven for around 50min, or until firm on top.
- Cool in pan, then cut.

I love my brownies to go in the fridge after I've made them (or even the freezer) as I just like the way it makes them taste - makes them a bit firmer. I'd like to say it helps them last longer, but we wouldn't know that, because they get eaten so quickly (even with 50% of people in the household being diabetic - strange that!).

Most people have a 'fave' choc chip cookie recipe - this is just one of the few that I have in my recipe book and I choose it because I felt it would make just the right amount of cookie.
The Brownie recipe is just half the amount that I would use normally to make a normal brownie mix.

All this is making me hungry.....

(note: all measurements are in Australian Cups/spoons)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


During the week, some rattling around in the kitchen could be heard.

Maggie got called out to, but didn't come, so going to investigate, this is what was found.......

It was empty and in the 'to go out in the bin' pile, but she still had to investigate.....

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy 85th Birthday Granddad

This week, Spanky's Granddad celebrated his birthday.

The family held a birthday party for him last Sunday, with almost the whole family in attendance.

Chicken Sandwiches

It was an afternoon tea, we took with us some chicken sandwiches (they where gobbled up very fast!) and also some brownies.

Lucille even got a special sandwich for after the party as he was going off to a swimming competition.
Lucille with some yummy sandwiches

It was really nice to catch up with everyone in the family. A couple of cousins came over from Adelaide for the party and all the cousins went out on the Saturday night for a catch up & some drinks.

Grandma & Granddad

Our branch of the family -
Lady L, Spanky, Mr President, The First Lady
Patrice, Grandma, Granddad, Bubbles, Lucille

All the Family that was there

We made sure to get a photo of just the two (?three) of us before we went home...... 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fiji Again!!

The countdown is on!

In just over 3 weeks, The Zookeeper and I (Spanky) are heading off on a nice tropical holiday.

A girls only trip.

This came about around 2 months ago, when I decided that I wanted/needed a mini holiday in the sun, as i didn't take any time off over Christmas & New Years. If Bubbles and I both went, it would obviously cost us twice as much as just one of us going, so with his blessing, I asked The Zookeeper if she would be interested.

Interested indeed! she already had 2 weeks leave booked for June so it would all work perfectly!

I quickly booked our flights as Air Pacific had a sale on. We are taking the lovely midnight flight out of Melbourne on a Saturday, and coming back home on the Thursday of the following week - 11 nights away.

The plan was to try and not spend too much on this trip, but still get out to an Island. The Zookeeper asked for a couple of things, if possible: walking tracks, food options (she's Vegetarian), a pool, a beach, some sort of village/day trips. Most importantly, she wanted to be able to sit in a pool drinking cocktails!

So, think cap on, i thought of Musket Cove Island Resort and it's 'hotel rooms'. Patrice had stayed in these a number of years back, and although they are basic, they are not bad. So, i hunted a few other options, but these seemed the best choice. For around $130AUD a night we get a large room, king bed, single bed, lounge area, fridge, kettle, private bathroom, fans, aircon & deck. Seemed good for us. we plan on picking up some food stuff on the mainland before we take the boat out. The island works well due to the other resorts on the island, so there is other restaurant options. The island is large, so plenty of walks & other beaches. There is a pool, and lots of day trip options as well.    First 8 Nights sorted!!


Beach at Musket Cove Resort, Fiji

For the last 3 nights, we are heading back to the main land. I have booked us in to the Terrace Apartments on Denarau. This gives us a 1 bedroom apartment, with bedroom, bathroom, lounge, kitchen & deck. The reason i chose these Apartments over the other resorts at Denarau is that they are across the car park from the Marina. Meaning when we get off the boat, we can just walk over to them, and also for meals we can use the small supermarket and also the many restaurants at the Marina.
We plan on spending one of the days using the Bula Bus ($7FJD) to visit each of the resorts at Denarau, checking out their shops & checking out the resort themselves.
Terrace Apartments, Denarau
Hopefully it will be a really nice holiday, and that The Zookeeper has a good time on her first Fiji visit.

(Dont feel too bad for Bubbles, he's off to England and Copenhagen for a week and a half just before i head off to Fiji)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Miss Maggie turns 2!!

Today Miss Maggie turns 2 years old!

She is very much loved by us and all our family.
10wk old Maggie

Mischief Maggie

Miss Muddy Paws
We where wondering how the roof of the
dog house got paw prints on it! 

We love taking her to school on Sundays, where she works hard and enjoys seeing all her friends.

Maggie loves Fridays when the garbage bin man come around, because the bin man means that shortly Grandma (The Teacher) will be around to pick her up and take her for a play date (and see gets to see Bonnie & The Golfer as well).

First beach visit

 Road trips with Miss Maggie are always fun. She doesn't mind where we are going, but is always keen to explore when we get there. She loves the visits to the 'Country Club' where she can get in the pool and play on the equipment. She enjoys getting in the car with Bubbles and going for a drive to the YouYangs and going on a 2 hour bush walk.

Looking much older than her years
 She is a funny girl when she is let in the house after we get home from work. She comes inside and starts 'talking' to us - we are sure she is telling us all about her day and asking how we could go off to work and not spend the day playing with her!

She has become Spanky's watcher lately. Spanky will go do something in the kitchen, and Maggie will be right there with her the whole time, underfoot. She wont leave her side until she goes and sits on the couch, but then she stands in front of her waiting for Spanky to tell her what she wants her to do (either sit for a scratch, or go lay on her mat).
Post knee surgery
Christmas time at Dog School

As life is, its been a busy, full on last two years. It wont stop in the future, but its nice to have Maggie along for the ride!

With Bonnie at the 'Country Club'

Still enjoys resting in the garden
Big girl now