almost happy new year - noosa part 2

30 Dec 2009

Almost Happy New Year to every-one. I can't believe I've managed to go a week without posting. It's been quiet in blogland with most of my favourite bloggers taking a break for Christmas. It's back to work for me next week so I thought I may as well get back into my normal routine.

I drove back from Brisbane in driving rain on Monday. It was challenging doing the 12 hour journey in 1 hit and I'm so glad I stopped to take photos on the journey north because there was no point stopping on the way home. Since I've been back I've started sorting the 2009 photo files and the piles of paper that accumulate by magic and yes, that was the sound of a vacuum cleaner you heard from my place at 8.00 a.m. before heading to a cycle class. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the bathroom before the gym class - one of the benefits of being an early riser I guess.

I'm going to leave you with a few more images of Noosa. These were taken a week ago before the rain set in. My friends rent a beachfront apartment every year at Christmas and it's now a tradition that I meet them there for lunch. I was waking so early we decided to meet for a walk to Hell's Gate in the Noosa National Park before having a late breakfast/brunch.

This was the view we had on our walk and if you look really closely you can see some young lads who were harvesting rock oysters. We waited and watched them hard at work and I stopped to take a few photos.

Once we showered and changed it was time for brunch at bistro c. I had the scrambled eggs on toast with a side order of mushrooms. I figured after a 7 kilometre hike I had earned a hearty breakfast.

As you can tell I really love Noosa and although I'm a Brisbane girl through and through, I've never ever stayed at Noosa. I'll have to rectify my error soon. The first time I stepped foot on Hastings Street I was 16 and I've been a fan of Noosa ever since. I've stayed at Caloundra and Coolum on the Sunshine Coast on a few occasions and although we always holidayed at the beach, we were a Gold Coast Family, more specifically a Broadbeach/Kurrawa Family.

That's enough waffling from me so I'll close here. I hope you all enjoyed spending time with your families during the holiday season. Enjoy your New Year Eve celebrations, however you choose to spend them and I'll be back in 2010!


Macadamia Shortbread Stars

23 Dec 2009

All I can say is that even when I'm on holidays, I don't know how to relax. In the past few days I've driven 1000 kilometres from Sydney to Brisbane; had lunch with a friend at Spoon Deli; driven to Noosa and back to go on an 8 kilometre hike with a friend followed by a tasty brunch at Bistro C and been to a 5.55 a.m. gym session. I must be crazy!

Here is what Noosa looked like today - yes this is what Christmas looks like in Australia. For all of you who are blanketed in snow, try not to be too envious.

Back to the reason for today's post. I usually make mince pies for Christmas but this year life was too busy. With limited time and lots of baking to do, I decided to make some shortbread cookies instead. I adapted this recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes, which I found in the Sydney Morning Herald, by using toasted macadamia nuts instead of ground almonds or hazelnuts.

I grew up with a Macadamia Nut Tree in the backyard, planted many years ago by my father. In fact the tree you see in the photos is the very tree. The Macadamia Nut is native to Queensland and was imported to Hawaii more than a century ago. I've always loved macadamias and as children we used to collect the fallen nuts and crack open the tough shells with a brick. It's a lot easier these days to buy them from the market.

The mixture is very soft (in fact I added a few extra tablespoons of flour) and needs to be rolled out between plastic wrap or greaseproof paper. In the spirit of Christmas I decided to cut the cookies into star shapes.

Once out of the oven you need to liberally dust the cookies with icing sugar before cooling and storing in an airtight tin. The cookies are very tasty and the challenge is to stop eating them all before presenting them to your family or work colleagues.

The Macadamia Shortbread Stars were very popular at work and thankfully I had the foresight to save a few to photograph. They were devoured pretty quickly and with none left, I was up at 5.00 a.m. last Saturday whipping up a batch of cookies to take with me to Farmer Andrew.

I've taken lots of photos since I've been home but the time has come to relax a bit and take a break with my family. I'll be back next week when I return to Sydney. I hope you all enjoy the break to celebrate the holiday season with your family and friends.

Until later,



wide open road

21 Dec 2009

Greetings from Brisbane where I'll be spending Christmas week. I'd planned to post some Christmas treats today but I was inspired by my road trip from Sydney to Brisbane and decided to post some of those images instead.

I enjoy long distance driving which is a good thing because it's a long drive between Sydney and Brisbane. I load up the car with healthy snacks, prime the i-pod with driving tunes (Powderfinger, Crowded House, Paul Kelly, P.J.Harvey and Hunters and Collectors) and sing all the way whilst counting the kilometers as they tick over.

I stayed overnight with Farmer Andrew in Dungog on Saturday night before making an early start on Sunday. We had a bbq and watched the lorikeets, parrots, galahs and cockatiels swooping through the trees. It was a beautiful golden sunset so I took a few last minute photos of the garden in the golden hue.

I took a back route to Brisbane driving along Thunderbolts Way which takes you through the Great Dividing Range to the New England Highway via Walcha and Uralla. In case you're wondering, Thunderbolts Way is named after a local bushranger who roamed the area. I love this part of the drive because I have the road to myself and Thunderbolts Way reveals so many unexpected treasures. I stopped the car a few times, which is rare for me, so I could take a few photos.

The first gem was this sweet little church. The wedding photographer in me couldn't resist it. Wouldn't this be the perfect location for a sweet country wedding with photos in the adjoining orchard?

It was about 6.00 a.m. when I took this series of photos so the dew was still on the ground. Back into the car until I spied the trees on the hill and stopped to take some photos of the highway, the trees, the roadside flowers and the curious cows watching my every movement. 

They were not keen on being photographed and legged it as soon as their image was taken.

The last image I named 'The Wide Open Road' after the classic Triffids song of the same name. I was singing the song loudly as I drove along this stretch of road and no, I wasn't driving when I took the photo.

I'll be back with some Christmas baking on Wednesday but before I do, I'll leave my Sydney readers with a question. One of my blog readers has asked if I teach photography classes. Is this something that would interest my Sydney readers?  Teaching is a very large part of my day job and whilst I haven't run any photography classes to date I've been thinking about doing do.

If I have sufficient Sydney readers interested, I'd be happy to run a small group class for 4-5 people. The course would be a combination of both theory and practical sessions and would cover topics such as exposure, lighting, composition and design, colour management, image processing etc, etc. Practical sessions would be on location and you choose the theme - interiors/food/portraits/travel. You would need access to an SLR camera on the day, either digital or film and ideally a laptop as well but doable wihout and there will be homework! The course would be run over 2 sessions on separate days to give you time to work on your images/complete your assignments.

I know the comments page isn't particularly user friendly so if you're interested please send an email to info at

I'll be back on Wednesday with some Christmas treats so until then,


Friday Favourites - Cooper Park

18 Dec 2009

That's it. It's offical. I'm on holidays. No more work for Jillian until 2010!

I'm leaving you with this photo I took in Cooper Park about 3 weeks ago. A stand of these trees lines the entrance to Cooper Park in Bellevue Hill but once again I apologise for my botanical ignorance but I don't know the name of this tree.

The trees are only in bloom for a short season in summer and I love the hot pink colour of the flowers. I'd love to know the name of the tree so if there is there any-one out there who can help me out please leave me a message in the comments section.

I'm going to have an early night because I have a long drive ahead of me this weekend. Have a great weekend and I'll be back again on Monday.

Until then,


Little Miss B - almost four

16 Dec 2009

I spent Sunday afternoon with Little Miss B and her family. She's growing up so quickly and has developed a whole range of poses that would rival anything seen on ANTM. She can certainly do fierce and her twirling is a sight to behold.

Later in the day I was told that we'd be playing fairies. I cried off explaining I couldn't take her photo and play fairies as it's awfully hard trying to manage a camera whilst wearing wings.

I call these wings, 'training wings' as Miss B has a much larger pair. I wore these last time we played fairies.

This is my favourite image of Miss. B from Sunday - a slightly dishevelled fairy, completely unaware of the camera for a change.

Only 2 more more working days left for me for 2009! It's been such a hectic few days with lots of Christmas get togethers and a baby shoot. I've eaten more in the last few days than I have in the last month so I think it will be a slice of watermelon for me for dinner tonight.

I'll be back again Friday before heading on a roadtrip to spend the holiday season with my family. So until then,



Rockpool Date Tart

14 Dec 2009

I've been clipping recipes from magazines since I was 12 and they're squirrelled all over the place. This clipping has been in my file for a long time now as it must be at least 15 years since I last baked the tart. I read somewhere that the date tart has returned to the Rockpool menu after many years absence.

It's a simple tart in many ways but complex in others. The filling contains just a few ingredients  - eggs, sugar, cream and a vanilla bean  - but it makes for a very rich custard. If you've ever eaten custard tarts at yum cha, it's quite a similar taste. 

The date is a bit of a surprise but it really works. I also think the tart would work equally well with prunes soaked in brandy or tea.

The recipe is exceedingly generous with it's quantities. I made a 5 egg yolk custard mixture and it made sufficient filling for a long oblong tart and 4 small tarts. I'm sure a 4 egg custard mixture would be more than enough to fill a 23 cm round tart shell.

The Rockpool Date Tart  is a magnificent creation but it's not an every day dessert. It's best reserved for a special occasion.

It's a really busy week for me, so I'll do my best to post again mid week but if I don't you'll know why - too many Christmas festivities and lack of time.

Bye for now,


Friday Favourites - A Touch of Blue

11 Dec 2009

It's Friday and I've survived another working week. I have a hectic weekend coming up and lots of Christmas do's next week so I'm glad I only have one working week left for 2009. Yes - I'm going to be taking a 2 week break from work. Don't worry, I won't be taking a 2 week break from blogging but I will be posting less frequently.

I'm leaving you with a touch of blue, a beautiful hydrangea from the garden. My friend Natalie celebrates her wedding anniversary next week and her wedding bouquet featured hydrangeas, as they bloom in Sydney at this time of year.

I'd like to thank Holly from decor8 for featuring my photos of Bison Australia on her blog this week. I love to see all the countries from which my blog readers hail, although I have to say I don't recognise the names of some of the countries.

Have a safe weekend and I'll be back next Monday,


Shopshoot - Bison Australia

9 Dec 2009

Last week I visited Bison Australia's Sydney store, located on Oxford Street Paddington. I spied the store on my way to Paddington Markets and as soon as I saw the amazing colours on display, I walked straight into the store and asked if I could photograph the shop.

I spent quite some time photographing the shop and chatting to Sarah, the shop manager. In the end only my grumbling tummy letting me know that lunch was long overdue, dragged me away from the store.

Have you ever seen anything so gorgeous? I'd love one of those little orchid pots, but which colour to choose?

Thanks again to Sarah for putting up with me whilst I photographed the store and to Brian Tunks for allowing me to photograph the store.

See you again on Friday,


Passionfruit Ice Cream

7 Dec 2009

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Well actually I rarely eat ice cream. It doesn't agree with me at all so when it's hot you'll find me eating fruit sorbets or gelati.

I was looking for ways to use some passionfruit I'd bought. I thought about making passionfruit jelly but I didn't have enough fruit for the recipe. I walked into the tearoom at work on Friday and there was the inaugural Donna Hay magazine, featuring semifreddo recipes. I photocopied the feature and took it home with me.

The quantities were large so I halved the recipe and added more passionfruit to the mix cos you can never have too much passionfruit. I put the mixture into my deep freeze on Saturday and by Sunday morning it was just softly frozen and hasn't hardened since then - just perfect for serving.

And the taste - AMAZING! Sorry for all the capital letters but this ice cream is just so yummy I keep finding reasons to photograph it so I can lick the spoon. I've been looking for a copy of the recipe online and can't find the original recipe but there is something similar on Donna Hay's website. Try it as is or substitute cream for the coconut cream.

I'll be back on Wednesday,


Friday Favourites - travelART 2008

4 Dec 2009

The past few weeks have been very busy as I've struggled to meet a self imposed deadline. For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you may remember I took a trip to Europe in 2008. Due to various reasons I didn't make a travel album when I returned. I had a few back to back weddings to shoot and by the time they were edited, it was Christmas. I took the files with me to work over the Christmas break but found whole countries were missing from the dvd I took home with me so it didn't happen.

Time passed and eventually I realised that if I didn't impose a strict deadline the album would never be created. The book company I use were offering a 20% discount but the book had to be uploaded by midnight November 24. I spent a week working on the lay-outs, then worked through the night editing the lay-outs. 9.30 p.m. November 24 I started to upload the files to the printing house but soon realised the files were massive and they wouldn't arrive before midnight.

At least the book is finished but I have to admit my proof reading was pretty sketchy so I'm hoping there aren't too many typos and the photos are centred. I received an email yesterday letting me know the book has been published and it's on it's way. If it looks any good, I'll take some photos of the finished product. I've attached a few of the lay-outs of what will be a vertical 8x10 inch book of my travels.

Meanwhile I've just starting planning my trip for 2010. Have a great weekend and I'll talk to you all next Monday.


Paddington Markets

2 Dec 2009

During the weekend I drove down to Wollongong and took my camera with me hoping to take photos from the Sea Cliff Bridge. As I drove along the highway near Bulli Pass I looked out over Wollongong and saw nothing. The whole place was covered in a dust haze, so that put paid to my plans. Happily I'd taken my camera with me when I went to Paddington on Saturday. I didn't take many photos but enough to give you a taste of my time there.

I haven't been to Paddington Markets in about 6 months - lots of reasons but mainly because I've been busy doing other things. The markets are in a bit of a mess at the moment. Some kind of construction is going on so many of the regular stalls are not where they should be.

With a bit of searching I found what I was looking for - Samantha Robinson's ceramics stall. I first learned about Samantha 3 years ago when I bought one of her white porcelain vases for my sister's birthday present. Her work then was mainly white and blue but now it's bursting with colour.

The rest of my time was spent trying to get my bearings and locate some of my favourite sellers. In my travels I found these great lights which I'd not seen before.

In my travels I found these great lights which I'd not seen before.

I also arranged my next shopshoot when I was roaming around Paddington but you'll have to come back next Wednesday to find out, which shop I shot.

I'll be back on Friday, so until then,

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