Good Question Audition – X Factor 2012 – Singing Wild One

These girls were quite a surprise.  Not only did they look the part, they could actually sing!


Garden Goblin Resurrected

We have just had some trees removed from our front and back yards.  Hidden amongst the ferns was this funny pottery face made by my stepson when he was at school.  It looks like a strange tree face from somewhere like the Enchanted Forest, and it has lost some of its teeth over the years.  We have now resurrected it and placed it on the base of a huge Bangalow Palm we had to cut down because it was too close to the house and kept dropping huge fronds on the roof and in the old Black Bean tree, where they would get stuck.

He has some leaves stuck inside so it looks like he has been having a meal.

Looking slightly sinister but quite at home on the palm base
Close-up. Leaves from his meal inside.

Zucchini Bread

I am posting this recipe for zucchini bread from as it is quick and easy to make, healthy and a good way to use up leftover zucchinis (also good way to get children to eat vegetables).   I love zucchinis and in Australia they are relatively cheap.  They are a versatile vegetable and can be fried, baked, stuffed, grilled, BBQd, and made into soup or souffle.  My mother made a zucchini loaf (I will have to search for her recipe) and a delicious zucchini soup.   It is also a nice addition to a salad with chopped tomato, cucumber,  mushrooms etc.   It is low in calories and contains folate, potassium and Vitamin A.   You can also add grated carrot to it and/or nuts and seeds if wished.  I like it just spread with butter.  It contains 4.5gms fat per serve and is high in fibre and protein.  It is also a good way to save money when you compare buying a slice of similar carrot cake or banana bread at a cafe.

Zucchini bread

Zucchini bread

Photography by Rob Palmer

Preparation Time

15 minutes

Cooking Time

50 minutes

Ingredients (serves 10)

  • 300g (2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
  • 250ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Fresh ricotta, to serve
  • Honey, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a 20 x 10cm loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, zucchini, oil, egg, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Cut the zucchini bread into thick slices. Spread with ricotta and drizzle with honey.


  •  You’ll need 2 medium zucchini for this recipe. To freeze the bread, thickly slice, cover in plastic wrap and foil then place in a sealable plastic bag. Thaw overnight or toast straight from frozen.


    Australian Good Taste – February 2012

    Australian Good Taste – February 2012, Page 30
    Recipe by Gemma Luongo

The Rise of The Secret Smiling Assassin

I was chatting with a friend today about relationships and friends and we both suddenly realised that we had both had encounters with “secret smiling assassins”.

These are people who give all the outward appearance of being friendly and interested in your life and/or relationships, but all the while are sharpening their little knives so that they can implant them firmly in your back or between your shoulder blades at the first opportunity.

I had a friend like that at school.  Well, she actually became my best friend eventually.  We shared many interests – horses, dogs, boys and clothes.  I even lived with her and her husband and little boy for quite a while when I first came to Sydney and she lent me her clothes (she was a great dressmaker and artist) and helped me with makeup etc.  I should have realised that her choice was not necessarily the best one for me when I was mistaken for a hooker in my false eyelashes and fishnet stockings and offered a substantial sum of money to perform a sex act,  when I thought I looked sophisticated and mysterious.

And then the knife came out.  I found out that she had been having an affair with my boyfriend behind my back, and what was worse quite a few of my friends knew and decided they didn’t want to tell me about it.  Suddenly some of her generous behaviour didn’t seem so generous anymore.  I found myself questioning her motives for the first time.  Did she really want to be my friend, or was she grooming me for the ultimate betrayal?

At first I was angry and hurt and had fantasies of cutting all her beautiful long hair off (it was her crowning glory and hung down past her bum), but after a while I began to see things a bit more clearly and a pattern emerged.   She was always trying to get me to try on her clothes and then expressing surprise that they didn’t fit (I was not as svelte as she, in fact I was quite chubby) although shes was a talented dressmaker (she had even done it professionally) so she should have had some idea about dress sizes.

She would invite me over and invite some of my male friends as well, and then make derogatory comments about their clothing and lack of style after they left, although she would be nice as pie to them while they were there.  She always made nice comments about my boyfriends though, and encouraged them to drop round for coffee if they were in the area.

Finally she encouraged me to talk about myself and was especially keen on hearing about any relationship problems, whilst she never contributed any information about herself.  I thought at the time she was genuinely interested, but realised in hindsight that she was gathering information to make her attack.

Needless to say we are no longer friends.  She used to call me up and profess to be sorry, and I even went horse riding with her years later and slept overnight at her house, but I never felt that ease and closeness I had when we were at school together.  I just didn’t trust her anymore and if you can’t trust someone you can’t be friends with them (well at least not in my book).   Occasionally I hear something about her and wonder how she is and whether she is still the same or if she has learnt something from all this.  I don’t feel angry anymore, just sad that we lost the closeness we had as teenagers when there was no competition between us and the only time either of handled a knife was at the dinner table.

woman wearing fishnet stockings and a miniskirt
woman wearing fishnet stockings and a miniskirt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)