Blueberry & White Chocolate Muffins

ONE OF life’s greatest pleasures is to relax in the garden, with a cup of coffee and a good book.  To add an extra element of indulgence, I love to whip up a batch of these family favourites – my Blueberry and White Chocolate Muffins.  Either fresh out of the oven or reheated later on, these muffins are a wonderful addition to any morning or afternoon tea.  Delicious and superbly easy to make, I’m delighted to share them with you.

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

2 cups of self-raising flour
1/2 cup of raw sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
250ml milk
80g butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla
1 punnet of fresh blueberries
1 small packet of white chocolate buds (approx 100g)

Equipment:

12 x 1/3 cup capacity muffin tray
12 large paper muffin cases

Method – How it’s done:

Preheat the oven to 190°C
Mix the flour and sugar together in a large mixing bowl
Place the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla in a mixing jug and whisk together until well combined and creamy.
Pour the mixed wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together with a large spoon until well combined.
Add the blueberries and white chocolate buds, and gently stir these into the mixture – blueberries are delicate, and they break easily!
Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin cases.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave the muffins to cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes, before lifting them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

The only thing left to do is enjoy!  If you have the patience to let them cool completely before eating one, you’re better than me!  These muffins keep beautifully in the fridge (in a sealed container) for about a week, and you can pop them into the microwave for about 20 seconds to have them piping hot again.  Enjoy on their own or with a dob of butter, I’m sure you’ll be as addicted to them as I am!

STORY: Debbie Foale
PHOTO: Jocelyn Watts

Work from home – live the dream

BEING your own boss.  It’s a dream that most of us have – shrugging off the shackles of the daily grind and work from home.  And the good news is, anyone can do it!  I know, because I did it … and if I can do it, so can you.

For me, the catalyst to leave the 9 to 5 existence was for family reasons.  However, I didn’t count on all the other benefits that have come with working from home.  Being able to spend extra time with my husband.  Giving myself a half day off every week to run errands.  Being able to stop for an hour to have a cuppa with a friend.  Being able to choose to work on a rainy weekend, then taking a little time on a sunny weekday to ride my horse.  I’m sure that you can think of any number of ways that your life would be richer if you had the freedom to work your own hours!

Without doubt, walking away from a regular salary is probably one of the most daunting things you will face.  However, thoroughly researching your potential business can help you gain the confidence you need to make the massive change in your life.

My tips for those who are thinking about starting a home-based business:

Do your research

Identify your market, and research potential clientele and the income that your business could generate for you.  Consider what demand you may have for your business, and what competition is out there.  Think about things you can do to set your business apart from everyone else.

Talk to an accountant

It is vital that you speak to an Accountant, before launching your new business.  An accountant will be able to give you guidance on the most appropriate way to structure your business and manage your cashflow.  Your accountant will also be able to advise you on what establishment and ongoing costs can be claimed on your tax, and what can’t.  It is important that you have a good understanding of how a business is run, from a “under the hood” perspective.  There’s a lot more to running a business than producing goods and/or services and selling them!

Talk to a business coach

Don’t be afraid to have a yarn to a business coach who can help you to decide what you want to achieve and then help you to actually do it.

Check with your local council

Depending on what sort of business you want to start, you may need to check with your local council to ensure that you are permitted to do the type of work you want to do from home.  For example, if you want to set up a panel-beating shop in your back shed – there’s the chance that Council will have something to say about property zoning.  If you’re planning on working in a home office (like I do), there’s generally nothing to worry about – but ask the question if you’re not sure.

Do your sums

New businesses generally take a little while to gather momentum, before your hoped-for income starts rolling in.  One of the things you should think about is whether you have sufficient cash reserves or another income coming into the household to cover your living expenses whilst your business is getting going.  Money pressure is one of the biggest stresses in life – make sure you have contingency plans if things take a little time to get rolling, so that you don’t hobble yourself before you start.

Hedge your bets

If you can, an excellent way to start a home-based business is to get it started part-time, whilst you are still working.  Whilst this wasn’t really an option for me due to the nature of my profession, you may be able to trial your business idea by working it on weekends or at night.  This can help you get a bit more of an idea of how it could work for you before making the leap.

Set yourself goals and guidelines

Set yourself realistic goals.  There aren’t too many business opportunities out there that can make you a million dollars in your first year, so be kind to yourself and focus on building your business steadily.

For most of us, starting our own business is the culmination of a dream.  It’s a means to getting us to where we want to be in life, and to achieve a lifestyle not generally available when you work for someone else.  By taking your time to think it through, do your research and implement your plans carefully, you are setting yourself up for success.  Believe in yourself, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve!!

Debbie Foale DipFS (FP), JP (Qual)Edendale ContractingParaplanning, Training & CompliancePhone: (07) 4123 3573 Mobile: 0422 813022
 
– By Debbie Foale

Lure Noisy Miners with fruit and nectar

ONE OF the joys of living on the Fraser Coast is being able to work in and around the garden pretty well 12 months of the year and be able to study and enjoy the multitude of wildlife and birds on offer, such as the Noisy Miners.

The simple selection and placement of trees and shrubs will open your garden to the splendours nature with the most prolific being birds.

One bird species that is frequent in this area are the Miner birds (not to be confused with the Myna bird).

Of the four varieties of Miner Birds the most common to us is the Noisy Miner  also known as the Micky or Soldierbird.  Noisy Miners are one of the most animated and aggressive species to visit the garden. They are especially noisy when a predator such as a goanna, crow or the household cat wonders into the garden and will fly around the intruder calling loudly and snapping its beak at it, which is possibly why it is also known as the Soldierbird’

Noisy Miners have adapted well to suburbia and our leafy gardens and green lawns.  They’re easily identifiable with their incessant chatter call of “pwee pwee pwee’”  or the chuckling “weedidit weedidit weedidit”.

Feeding mainly on insects in the upper tree covering they do enjoy fruit and nectar and will feed from a bird feeder placed near a tree.  While they’ll have a go at most fruits they are very partial to PawPaw.  Trees such as Banksia’s and Grevilleas are  a great way of providing shelter and nectar for our Miner friends,

These little blokes are real entertainers when it comes to bath time, taking in turns to dive bomb into the bird bath or even the family pool and then retreating to a nearby fence or tree branch whilst they preen and clean their feathers.

A close relative of the Noisy Miner is the Yellow Throated Miner. Almost identical to the Noisy excepting for a yellowish patch on the  foreneck and a more pronounced white rump. It is not unheard of on the Fraser Coast but lives predominantly in drier area’s to the west of the Great Dividing Range.  A keen eye is needed if you are to spot the difference.

Miner birds have been wrongly linked with the introduced Myna bird which is of the Starling family and considered a pest  in many areas.
The Myna bird was introduced into Australia from south-east Asia in the 1860s and can be found in many parts of the country.  They are a similar size to our native Miners but black to dark brown in colour with larger yellow feet  and have a bandy walk.

– By Don Watts

Don Watts of Maryborough attracts Noisy Miners (top) to his garden with pieces of fruit in a bowl. This is its cousin, a Yellow Throated Miner, which is more commonly seen in Western Queensland where this fellow was photographed by Jocelyn Watts in Charleville.

Don Watts of Maryborough attracts Noisy Miners (top) to his garden with pieces of fruit in a bowl. This is its cousin, a Yellow Throated Miner, which is more commonly seen in Western Queensland where this fellow was photographed by Jocelyn Watts in Charleville.