I love travelling through the Queensland countryside. (Well at least when kids aren't bouncing off the walls of the car from slushy-induced craziness, or fighting over who is looking out of whose window, or announcing they are about to burst with wee, poo, spew or a combination of all three).
Anyway, so most of the time I enjoy it.
And one of the reasons is that we get to break the journey with amusing little stops along the way.
(Thus preventing dramatic announcements of impending poo, spew or wee-bursts; but possibly inducing slushy craziness).
Every time we visit my parents in Wondai, my Dad says we should stop at 'The Stop Shop', a little shop on the side of the Bunya Highway at Memerambi. We're always in a hurry to either get to Wondai or get the bloody hell home before someone throws up or develops a sudden case of gastro, so usually pass right on by.
However, this time, I told the kids we'd stop, Dad having promised delicious Italian ice-creams would be available as a reward.
(I am pretty sure there was some mention of free ice-creams by telling the owner "Colin sent us", but the owner seemed very nonplussed by the information and proceeded to charge us all the same.)
No matter, the ice-creams were divine, and were certainly very generous in size. I'm not sure how much they cost, but we bought 3 two-flavour ice-creams, some healthy bits and pieces and a drink for $21, so I'm assuming they were country prices.
Unlike the city ice-cream shops, the ice-creams weren't exactly displayed to their advantage and I had to physically lift Miss 7 up so she could see the flavours.
And unlike the city, there were no free tastes.
Luckily we all enjoyed our choices!
(And yes, we will be back. I just hope the coffee machine is working next time...)
The Stop Shop at Memerambi, the South Burnett
It sells everything but the kitchen sink. Oh and a few things like bread, cigarettes, papers and milk. (We managed to slip in, despite the 'no animals' sign.)
Nice and spicy
Just what the larder ordered ...
Mmm - ice-cream. And no preservatives or nasty colours in these
Even a broke single Mum's budget can stretch to eating out occasionally. Especially if there's one of those friends to budget-hunters everywhere available - a discount shopper docket.
I was alerted to the presence of a very popular neighbourhood restaurant/cafe called The Pepper Lounge, by my good friend and fellow social media fan, @appletartlet.
@appletartlet swears the Black Pepper Lounge does the best eggs benedict in the western suburbs, but so far, I'll have to take her word for it.
However, I've been there on several occasions recently and even taken the kids. Already well-priced, eating there is a bargain if you use a shopper docket which allows you one main meal free if another one plus drinks are paid for.
Not much on the menu appealed to picky Miss 7 except for dessert. But if you can't have dessert for lunch when you're seven, when can you? She loved the grown-up presentation.
The dessert was so rich, she ended up taking some home for Ron . (Later On).
Mr 9 was thrilled at the look and taste of his Kid's Carbonara ($8)
No, you can't have a taste Mum. It's mine, all mine ...
The proof was in the eating. C's only complaint was that the serving was too small, so when we returned recently, the chef had no problem rustling up an adult's version of the meal.
I love the prawn, rocket and mozzerella pizza. ($14). So light and delicious, I could easily manage it in one sitting, meaning no pizza for Ron.
If you go: The Pepper Lounge is at 19/62 Looranah Street, Jindalee. Ph: 07 3376 1011
The staff are always welcoming, and bottled water is always provided. They have been wonderfully patient with the kids, especially Mr 9.
My parents and sister still live in the South Burnett, where I grew up in a small country town.
Back then, I was able to ride my bike to and from school, and entertain myself for hours riding through the bush, yabbying with my brothers, or walking the dog to visit my Nana.
Oh course, childhood isn't quite so innocent these days, and my kids don't get to experience the same pleasures.
But we do visit their grandparents whenever we can, despite a 4-5 hour drive (depending on stops), and it gives the kids an idea of what my childhood was like.
Playing on the computer on the divan in Grandma and Pa-Pa's sun room.
On the way there, we stopped at a roadside stall to buy strawberries. Oh my Goodness, they were so delicious the kids practically inhaled them, and we had to buy three more punnets on the way back. These were outside a house in Harlin. It gave the kids an instant education, on that quaint old-fashioned custom called the Honesty Box. C. couldn't get his head around it. "What if people don't put the money in? How do they know people have paid?" he kept asking.
Hmm, which ones look the juiciest?
We often stop at Fernvale, for morning tea/breakfast. There is an awesome playground, relatively clean public toilets, and yummy hot pies, sausage rolls and donuts. This time we tried some of their 'famous' rainbow bread. (It tasted like normal bread actually).
Do you celebrate Christmas in July?
This is my first winter as a single Mum and I thought it would be a fun family tradition to start with the kids.
For readers from the northern hemisphere, Christmas in Queensland is hot. Damn hot!
So eating a traditional festive meal is not exactly fun.
Generally, our families tend to gravitate towards a menu featuring loads of seafood, fruit, and salad, with barbecued ham and/or chicken. Traditionally, we eat by the pool or inside in the air-conditioning, and there's always backyard cricket afterwards.
It’s still delicious, but it’s not like the traditional Christmas lunches you have throughout Europe and America.
So in July, our coldest month of the year, many families and restaurants celebrate Christmas in July.
A hot meal of turkey and ham, with pudding for dessert, is much more enjoyable when the weather is cool, preferably enjoyed by a log fire.
Santa usually makes an appearance with small gifts for the kids, crackers are pulled, carols are played, and everyone has a relaxing time.
This year, we’ll probably do a Christmas in July at home.
However, cashed up Queenslanders might like to take a trip to Thulimbah, near Stanthorpe, where Bella Rosa’s Tearoom, Cottage and Garden Centre is offering a Christmas in Winter lunch.
Bella Rosa’s is set in a historic building which was used as a butcher’s shop in the 1900s, complete with some of the original fittings and an old worlde atmosphere.
And everyday in June (okay that’s gone), July and August, Bella Rosa’s is putting on a 5-course meal, including roast meats, plum pudding and all the trimmings. Adults are $55 including a gift from Santa, with a special kids' menu for $20.
There’s a cottage with a log fire if you fancy staying longer.
Bella Rosa’s also offers chocolate making workshops (Mr 9 put his hand up for that one), and delicious high teas.
For details, go to their website.
Bella Rosa's has a stall at the Ipswich Handmade Expo, held each month at the Bundamba Turf Club.
Here, you can sample some of their decadent cakes and biscuits ... including the world's first jamdrop pizza! (Trust an Aussie to think of it...)
Jam Drop Pizza
Mr 9 has Asperger's Syndrome, and often has trouble sleeping, so I bought him one of these $10 crosses to help comfort him at night.
And finally, you don't see calenders like these too often! I think this would make the perfect gift for the woman who has everything, don't you?