Category Archives: Wednesday Weekly Blog Challenge

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things To Do In The Spring

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Welcome again to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in
. Check out the site to see who else is playing along.

This week’s topic needs a bit of adjustment because it’s autumn here and spring for us is a whole winter away.

Favourite Things To Do In The Spring Autumn!

Where to start? Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year because the days are usually mild which makes it great for doing things I adore, like golfing and lunching and generally being out and about and soaking up those warm rays before the winter cold arrives. Activities that are a tad curtailed thanks to the world health crisis.

But there is one thing I love to do in autumn that hasn’t been affected (much) and that’s cooking. So many opportunities!

Autumn is fig time, one of my favourite fruits. Which means I can make fig, prosciutto and mozzarella salad or simple desserts like honey roasted figs Bake With Anna Olson by Anna Olsonor fig and hazelnut tart. And mandarins come into season too. They’re lovely to eat on their own or they’re great in this mandarin, pistachio and chickpea cake. Yes, chickpeas! It’s delicious, I promise.

Apples come into season too giving the perfect excuse to make crumble, tarte tatin and other goodies. I’ve been binge watching excellent television series “Bake with Anna Olson” and recently bought the companion cookbook and now have lots of new apple things and more to try. Rah!

Autumn is also the start of the Australian Rules Football season. The Hein house becomes veeeery noisy on Sydney Swans Sydney Swans on tellygame days. I love my boys and like to dress up in my fan gear and cheer loudly. I know they can’t hear or see me through the telly but that’s not the point. It’s the vibes. And I do my best to send plenty of good ones their way. Although last season my vibes must have been duds because we were a bit disappointing. That’s okay. I’ll just try harder this year. Assuming the competition continues. It’s uncertain at the moment. (It’s now on hold.)

I also like to cook footy food to enjoy with the game. Things like celebrity chef (and my crush as discussed here) Home made samosas and bhajisRick Stein’s delicious Cornish pasties or my own made up little beef pie recipe. Or spicy satays, barbecued ribs, hot and sticky chicken wings, and Indian inspired feasts with homemade samosas and vegetable bhajis (pictured left with raita). And Jim makes a mean barbecued steak sandwich, dripping with onions, egg and bacon. All completely bad for you but pffft. Who cares? It’s footy season!

March brings us St Patrick’s Day too. A perfect excuse to stock the fridge with cans of Guinness and Kilkenny, along with the occasional bottle of Australian sparkling shiraz – a lovely autumnal drink. The beers also remind us that it’s time to break out our favourite beef in beer recipe. Delia Smith’s, from her Winter Collection, is awesome.

Casseroles need homemade, slow-rise bread. I came across a recipe for a A slice of cheesy mustard breadno-knead version years ago and have been using it ever since. But if I’m in a hurry I make do with this soda bread recipe, which I shared on my now archived blog series Friday Feast. Or, with more time, I make this focaccia, although I’m very keen to try Anna Olson’s focaccia recipe to see how it compares. If it’s like any of her other stuff, it’ll compare very well. Total new-born Anna fangirl, that’s me.

Hooly-dooly, I nearly forgot to mention Easter! The traffic tends to be diabolical around here then, with everyone heading up the north coast, so we usually stay put and stuff ourselves with seafood, footy and multiple rounds of golf. Chocolate too, although not too much – I can’t remember the Secret France by Rick Steinlast time we bought Easter eggs – and hot-crossed buns. I’ve been making this recipe for years but this Easter I’m going to put Anna’s to the test. I can’t go around buying new cookbooks and not use them, can I?

Speaking of which, I have Rick Stein’s new Secret France cookbook to play with too. Squeee!

So that’s me and my autumn loves. It’s handy that the weather tends to be excellent for golf because if I cook all the things I’m hoping to, I’m going to need all those walky miles, swings and more to wear them off. Golf also gets me outdoors and I don’t know about you, but this self-isolation is starting to send me a bit kooky.

What are your favourite things to do in autumn?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Types of exercise I enjoy

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

This week’s topic is going to be short and fun. A bit like me, really.

Types of exercise I enjoy

Oooh, this one is easy-peasy and won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s read any of my bios.

I am a golfer.

Not a very good golfer, mind, but I’m out and damn proud.

Playing Golf at Port Fairy Golf Links

Golfing in the winter at Port Fairy on Victoria’s wild south-west coast. Golfers do it anywhere.

It can be a dangerous sport though. No, don’t you laugh. It can! I’ve given myself a few injuries in my golfing career.

One of the most dramatic was a black eye when the ball I struck hit a tree branch which broke off and clobbered me in the face. I dropped like a schoolcase and was convinced my eye had burst because of the masses of liquid pouring from it. It hadn’t, thank god. It was just watering. The black eye was impressive though.

But get this… The ball landed on the green and when I’d finally recovered I putted it in for par (a good score, for those non-golfers out there).

I also managed to smack myself with my own ball once. I was on the eighteenth tee and had had a bad day, but it was the last hole and with it came a chance to redeem myself.

Yeah, right.

My tee shot hit a concrete path edge and ricocheted straight back at me, leaving barely time to turn aside. The ball struck me on the shoulder like a bullet and oh, the pain! It was so bad it outdid the ignominy of being whacked by my own ball.

I don’t usually lose my temper on the golf course but I spat it after that. Picked up the horrible white thing and trumped to the clubhouse in a (perfectly justified) huff.

When the bruise came out it was patterned with golf ball dimples. Very pretty. Not.

Then there are the golfer’s and tennis elbow injuries and the countless times I’ve banged the steel head of my putter into my shin or ankle bone.

Black snake basking in the sun

A sunbaking blacksnake at my old golf club Glenmore Heritage Valley, NSW.

And snakes. Snakes love golf courses and being Australia they’re not harmless snakes either. I came within a foot of running over a taipan with my buggy in Townsville (north Queensland) once. My other half nearly had heart failure. Mind you, so did I when saw how close I was.

See? Very dangerous sport. But excellent exercise.

You should try it.

No, really. It’s fun. Promise.

What’s your favourite exercise? Book reading doesn’t count!

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: My Celebrity Crushes

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It’s time again for the Long and the Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge.

Week five brings another cool topic

My Celebrity Crushes

Like for most of the world, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth is a maaaaajor crush for me. That man… sigh. So, so beautiful.

But here’s one out of left field. I’ve had a crush for years on celebrity chef Rick Stein. I have most of his cookbooks and have eaten at his famous seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall and if I don’t get to Bannisters Port Stephens this year there is going to be trouble in the Hein house.

Me at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow

Me at Rick’s Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall. It’s England, so naturally it was raining the night we went.

I also embarrassed myself badly when I met him in person at a cooking demonstration.

This was back in the 2000s, before Rick decided to spend half his life in Australia. I’d learned he would be hosting a cooking demonstration in Port Melbourne at the Essential Ingredient to promote his new book Seafood Odyssey.

At the time I was living in Newcastle, a thousand kilometres away, but no way was I missing this. I resolved to drive down for the demo and conned my Melbourne based girlfriend Carol into coming along.

It was fabulous! I still remember the dishes he cooked and how chuffed I was when he was discussing substitute fish species for Murray cod and mentioned mahi-mahi but couldn’t remember its other name. Me, having been on a recent fish-cooking frenzy, remembered it was also called dolphin fish and called the name out, earning me a small accolade from Rick. Oh, the flushy-niceness that caused!

Then came the booksigning.

I was so excited that when it came to my turn in line and Rick asked me my name all I could do was giggle. Not a proper giggle, but one of those dopey teenage nerr-hee sounding things that makes you want to smack some sense into the giggler.

It was appalling. Anyone would think I was in the presence of Chris Hemsworth dressed as Thor instead of a celebrity chef. A very nice and erudite celebrity chef, I must say, but still.

Eventually I pulled myself together and told him my name and how to spell it, while Carol stood on the sidelines damn-near wetting her pants laughing at me.

Me with my personally signed Seafood Odyssey

With my precious signed copy of Seafood Odyssey.

Not my finest hour, but pfft! I got to meet Rick and that copy of Seafood Odyssey is one of my most treasured books.

Okay, so I’ve embarrassed myself revealing my celebrity crush. Who’s yours? Come on, we’re all friends here. Share away!

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Best Book, Movie or TV Couples

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Yikes! It’s nearly the end of January. This month just whooshed by, didn’t it? Must be because we’re having so much fun with this Long and the Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge.

Week four sees us with another interesting topic

Best Book/Movie/TV Couples

Hooly-dooly, where to start with this one!

Best book/movie/TV couples? Gawd, they’ve been a bazillion of them over the years. Gorgeous heroes and heroines who’ve left me feeling sappy and gooey and warm and fuzzy.

I’m going to blow my own trumpet and say that all my book couples are best to me. I love every one of them, but my absolute worst crush was on Lachie from Heart of the Valley. Far out, I adore that man. Tristan from April’s Rainbow runs a very close second for crushiness.

Enough of me glorifying my own characters. Time to move on to others.

Okay, I’ll nominate Joan Wilder and Jack Colton in Romancing the Stone. That film has everything. Laughs, drama, intrigue and a gorgeous romance that leaves me grinning every time I watch it. Hugely entertaining and with all the feels. A classic.

Remember the BBC television series Hamish McBeth? It was on in the 90s and starred Robert Carlyle as police constable Hamish McBeth and his terrier Wee Jock. The tension between Hamish and local journalist Isobel Sutherland was brilliant. I was so addicted to this show. The Scottish setting and accents were fabulous, and it was so damn quirky! Loved the show and loved this couple.

Ballykissangel boxed set I could probably add Irish series Ballykissangel in here too. The relationship between Father Clifford and Assumpta Fitzgerald was deliciously forbidden. I loved that too. Until the final episode, which I won’t tell you about in case you ever see the series, but what the producers did was UNFORGIVABLE. I cried for a week!

Another couple I adore is Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie O’Hara from Jilly Cooper’s Rivals. Rupert is so naughty yet he’s also completely Riders by Jilly Cooperirresistible. Riders, in which Rupert is introduced, is one of my all-time favourite reads and Rupert behaves very, very badly in that, which makes his comeuppance in Rivals all the more delicious. A super-rake felled by love? Poetic and oh so satisfying.

As I mentioned at the start, there are countless couples I’ve adored over the years. These are just a few, but I would love to hear yours.

Who are your favourite TV, book or movie couples?

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: New Hobby I’m Trying (or would like to try)

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It’s week three of the Long and Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge and today’s topic is an interesting one indeed.

New Hobby I’m Trying (or would like to try)

This has given me great pause for thought. I haven’t taken on a new hobby in ages. My favourite pastimes are cooking, reading, morning walks, restauranting and golf, and there never seems to be enough time for anything else.

I did get very enthusiastic about cross-stitch several years ago. Sewing was another hobby for a while. I even went through a phase of making my own shirts and dresses, but it didn’t last. Mostly because I wasn’t very good at it.

One thing I do want to do this year is learn about distilling and have a go at blending my own gin. Local distillery Earp Distilling Co. has recently opened a classroom and are taking bookings for their “Spirit School” and I’m keen to have a go. I’m not much of a spirits drinker but I do enjoy gin and what fun to blend my own. I could label it Cathryn’s Curlies or something, or Hein’s Howler if my writing isn’t going well.

The Farmers Wife ginIn the meantime, I’ll just continue slurping this. The Farmer’s Wife Gin comes from another local distillery, about 45 minutes north of Newcastle on the Buckett’s Way, and is very, very tasty.

Just doing my bit to support local rural businesses, you understand.

I also want to get back into making my own limoncello and orange liqueurs. I started doing this when we lived overseas and continued when we moved back to Newcastle. I stopped when we relocated to Melbourne in 2012 and have yet to take it up again. Now’s the time. Making liqueurs is fairly easy, fun and they make lovely gifts, and it’ll give me a great excuse to make my favourite limoncello plum tart recipe. It’s scrumptious. I’ll have to remember to share it when I do.

Other than that, I think 2020 will see more of the usual – cooking, golf and checking out local eateries. Travel too, I hope. And books. There’ll be plenty of those for sure!

What about you? Are you going to be hobbying this year? What hobby are you keen to try?

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

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Happy birthday to meeeee. Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeee!

Eh hem.

Moving on to why we’re here

It’s week two of the Long and Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. If you missed the first week, or are interested in how the challenge works, check out last week’s post here.

We have another fab topic this week.

Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

I should just list all the books in my to-be-read pile. There’s enough there to keep me busy until July at least. But let’s ignore that. Shiny new unbought books are so much prettier.

Hmm. That won’t work, because there are two on that TBR pile that I’m excited about and intend to read very soon.

The Work of Art by Mimi MatthewsThe first is The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews. I really enjoyed her Christmas story A Holiday by Gaslight (my thoughts here) and this one has me intrigued.

Second is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I want to see what all the fuss is about.

The other books I have in my sights are

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’ve adored their previous books and read quite a few of Kaufman’s other titles too. I know this will be brilliant. I’ll probably buy Aurora Burning when it comes out too.

King of Scars by Leigh BardugoKing of Scars by Leigh Bardugo because Grishaverse. Luuurve.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. What can I say? She’s awesome.

The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes. His first book, I Am Pilgrim, was 700+ pages of un-put-downable thrill-ride goodness. I couldn’t rave enough about it and even sent my dad a copy before I’d finished. It’s been a long wait for the sequel (since 2013) and in September it’ll finally be here. Ooh, I can’t wait!

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. The Lie Tree and Cuckoo Song were amazing (I talk about them here and here in My Favourite Reads), and this sounds just as good.

Hmm. There’s a bit of a young adult trend going on here. That wasn’t deliberate. These are just the books that sprung first to mind.

Marry in Haste by Anne GracieBut I’ll also be auto-buying whatever Stephen King puts out and there’ll be books by author buddies Anna Campbell, Annie West and Michelle Douglas, and series that I’m into like CJ Archer’s After the Rift books, and probably a stack of crime and horror novels. I really want to read all of Anne Gracie’s Convenient Marriage historical romance series too. And if Iona Grey has another book out, I’ll be snapping that up with lightning speed as well.

What I do want to do is read more romance. I was quite shocked to see how few I’d read when I went through last year’s reading list. This is not good. Reading romance not only makes me feel good – all hail the happy-ever-after! – it’s inspirational, motivational and helps me with my own craft. Pretty important stuff and not something I should be slack about.

Okay, my lovelies, what are you looking forward to reading in 2020? Or maybe you have the admirable goal of getting through your to-be-read pile?

Let’s share and then we can come back at the end of the year and see how we did.

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: My Goals for 2020

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“Ooh,” I hear you ask, “what is this?”

It’s a blogging challenge!

Let me explain

I was tooling around the internet the other day, as you do, and came across this page on popular romance reviewing website Long and Short Reviews. The page outlined a blog hop that would run for the entire year and had a graphic showing the weekly topics.

How serendipitous, I thought. I’d been wondering what else I could blog about in addition to my regular Teaser Tuesday (returning toward the end of the month) and My Favourite Reads series and these topics not only looked a lot of fun, they’d be easy to do and I could schedule them well ahead of time.

Wednesday Blogging Challenge - topics

Even better, I’d get to share the posts on the Long and Short Reviews site and join in its vibrant community.

Too many wins!

This challenge isn’t only for authors. It’s for anyone bookish. The idea is to share something each Wednesday, gain new friends, and encourage visitors to the Long and Short Reviews blog. And if once a week feels too much, that’s not a problem. You can post as much or as little as you want.

Cool, yes?

If you’d like to play along, you’ll find more information and the blogging challenge schedule here at Long and Short Reviews.

Right. Today is day one and we have a lovely topic to start the year with. It’s brief and pertinent, and something I can revisit at the end of the year to see how I went. All good.

Here we go with week one of the blogging challenge. Enjoy!

My Goals for 2020

1/. Edit and publish Scarlett and the Model Man.

Oh, you are going to adore this book! Scarlett and Sam are so sighworthy. These two are a complete delight and, as with many in the Levenham Love Story series, Audrey Wallace (aka Granny B) gets to poke in her aristocratic nose. Not that I blame her. Surfing dairy farmer Sam is well worth an ogle or ten.

If you want to be among the first to hear about its release, join my newsletter lovelies. Doing so will also give you access to a chain of short stories to savour over a cuppa and other exclusives (the gang absolutely ADORED my free Christmas story Belle and the Perfect Present last month), and it means you’ll never miss a new release. Like this blog challenge, too many wins!

2/. Write Serenity’s Song, the sequel to my Outback Brides book, Elsa’s Stand.

Many of you have asked for Serenity’s story and I’m finally going to deliver. Elsa's Stand memeFor those of you familiar with Elsa’s Stand, the hero of Serenity’s Song (working title) will be Jesse Hargreaves, naughty younger brother of Elsa’s utterly delectable man-of-few-words hero Jack.

Serenity’s Song is going to be my first ‘forced proximity’ story. I bet your mind is boggling over that one. Forced proximity in Wirralong? It can be done, trust me. I make up stuff for a living.

3/. Write a full-length novel.

Something that was on last year’s agenda, too but about which Madame Universe had other thoughts. She can be mean like that.

I have a few ideas I’m mulling over, so I can’t share anything yet. One premise is in the lead but one of the characters needs more nutting out and I’m not sure he’ll/she’ll be ready by the time it comes to write the story. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s better to wait until I have everything properly lined up rather than jumping in.

What I do promise is to share my progress and the occasional snippet on my Teaser Tuesday series. Keen to stay in the loop? Keep your eyes on this blog.

4/. Be healthy and happy!

2018 and 2019 were not the best of years. A couple of annus horribilis, as the Queen would say. But they’re behind us and from where I’m sitting right now, 2020 is looking very bright and shiny. I just KNOW it’s going to be a cracker. My positive vibes are so charged they’re bouncing around like spring bunnies.

So no horribilis-ing here. I’m firm on that. We’re going to have an annus mirabilis instead, loaded with love and laughter.

Which, you must agree, is the most important goal of all.

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Okay, my lovelies, what are your goals for 2020?

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