grandin-ThinkingInPicturesNewIn 1947, there was no name for autism.

In her early years Temple Grandin had doctors completely stumped, and kids who were mentally ‘challenged’ in that era would ordinarily be institutionalised. Her mother was adamant; this wouldn’t be the fate of her daughter. She spent many years going through psychological testing, therapy and analysis. Speech therapy helped her to be able to communicate, but it’s still a constant challenge for Dr Grandin to assimilate with the world in her public life.

Spending a holiday on a farm with family members when she was a young girl was a pivotal moment for this extraordinary woman. Temple discovered she could empathise with the livestock far better than she could with her fellow man.

So, her name may be somewhat familiar to you. She’s known as one of the first autistic people to write an autobiography, and is a world renowned animal behaviourist.

In the US, she helped to revolutionize the abattoir industry. Creating a far more humane situation for beasts meant a better product, and by achieving this brought great respect from those in positions of power.

There’s a great BBC documentary, The woman who thinks like a cow, and a HBO film on Dr. Grandin if you want to see more, and numerous books of both autism and animal behaviours if you want to read more.

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

Hardcover, 206 pages

Published April 30th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)

ISBN0547636458 (ISBN13: 9780547636450)



Netflix_logo.svgNetflix came to Australia in March after being in other countries for years. It seems to be new and wonderful to those of us who don’t have cable TV, and I’m sure we’ve all heard our favourite UK and US vloggers, bloggers and friends talking about watching something on it numerous times.

I signed up and I’m part way through my free trial month. There are new films, TV shows and documentaries being added daily because let’s face it, at the moment we probably don’t even have a quarter of the titles on offer that other regions have.

I thought I’d have an occasional natter about things I’ve found in the catalogue, maybe you’ve seen it; maybe you have thoughts on things I should watch next.

Rita-Danish-Series-Netflix-1-12-15Rita is the first international (Dutch) TV show I’ve watched on Netflix.

Rita is in her element when in front of a classroom full of teens. However in her personal life she just can’t keep her ducks in a row. There is some adult content so probably not great for young teens, but for the older teens and adults with a sense of humour, you’ll be barracking for Rita by the end of the first episode.

The opening sequence is of Rita, (played by Mille Dinesen) smoking in the toilets and adding to the graffiti on the walls of the stall. This not only sets the tone, but gives us a quick snapshot of the character.

I snort-giggled at least five times in the first ten minutes, and I quickly worked my way through the two seasons available.

The cast is incredible and I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Lise Baastrup (Hjordis).

I give Rita a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Have you seen the program and if so, what did you think?


Mandy Wrangles_2_tnNow that the weather is starting to cool in our part of the world, I thought it would be a good idea to check out a warm dessert this month. Everyone loves apple pie, and I’ve used this recipe more times than I can count. While I found the original recipe in a Mrs Field’s Cookbook (yes, she of those amaaazing cookies fame), I’ve Mandy-ised it a bit over the years, playing around slightly with ingredients and quantities~Mandy


apple pie 2

What You Need:


3 cups of plain flour

Grated lemon zest from one large lemon

1 cup of butter (please don’t use margarine!)

Aprox 6 to 8 teaspoons of ice water

apple pie 5


8 to 10 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and then thinly sliced

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 cup of white sugar

½ cup of brown sugar (packed tightly)

½ cup of cornflour

1/3 cup of chilled butter, cut into small cubes


You’ll also need one large egg for the egg wash, a little more white sugar to sprinkle on top and butter to grease your pie dish. I use a 22cm ceramic dish, though a tin one is fine.

apple pie 4

How It’s Done:


Mix the flour and lemon zest together in a large bowl – a wire whisk is easiest. Add the butter and either cut it in using two knives in a crossing motion, or if you’re a bit slack me, throw it all in the food processor for a quick spurt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Slowly add the iced water one teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together and you can push it into a ball. Divide the dough in half and flatten both halves into disks. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and pop into the fridge for at least an hour, or until it firms up.


In a large bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon and cornflour. Again, a whisk is the easiest way to do this efficiently – you won’t need the processor! Add the apple slices to this mix and toss with a spoon until the apple slices are completely covered.

At this stage, it’s a good idea to get your oven preheating. Set it to 200 degrees Celsius.

Once your dough is firm, prepare some bench space with sprinkled flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out one piece of dough into a circle aprox 25cm in diameter. Gently (very gently) fold the crust in half and then quarters. This makes it much easier to handle. Grease your pie dish and carefully place the corner of your dough into the centre of the dish and unfold, leaving excess dough hanging over the edge. Spoon in your apple filling and sprinkle butter cubes over the top.

For the top crust, you can use one of two methods:

Roll out and then fold the remaining pastry half into quarters as you did the first time. Place over filling, crimp the edges together as decoratively as you can, and add a couple of slits into the top with a knife to allow steam to escape.

apple pie 1


I prefer to roll out the remaining pastry half into a more rectangle shape, and cut into strips. Add strips to the top of your pie in a weaving pattern, which is a little fiddly, but will give you a much more traditional-looking result.

Either way, once done, whisk egg in a cup and brush over the top of your pie, then sprinkle with white sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 175 Celsius for a further 30 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes. It will still be warm, but this cooling time gives the filling a chance to solidify a little, making it easier to slice. Serve with cream, ice cream or custard (or you know, all three…)

PS – if you ever happen to come across one of Mrs Field’s Cookbooks, do yourself a favour and buy it! I have two. They’re fantastic, and oh, so pretty to look at. All recipes have American ingredients, weights and measurements, but I’ve found it quite simple to convert or substitute.


Belinda’s Version

keplinger-the-duffWARNING: There is a fair bit of adult content to contend with, so not for younger readers

I was reading this book with the express purpose of a book versus movie write up; however, after watching the trailer, I don’t think I’ll be sinking money into seeing the film. If the deviations from the book are that obvious in a minute long clip… nope, not going there.

As for the book, I got it read it in less than 24 hours: virtually one sitting. I even took it to dinner at a restaurant to find out what happened next.

Kody has done a great job of making her characters easy to relate to and flawed. The parental units are visible even from the back seat of the storyline. They have their own demons to slay, and I like that they have their own character arcs and aren’t just tea pots.

The general storyline is about Bianca and Wesley. Their ‘enemies with benefits relationship’ is sordid and twisted, beginning when Wesley asks Bianca what it’s like being the Duff of her friendship group. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Between all the sex, and the secrets, there’s a tale of addiction, personal struggles, and the importance of being true to yourself, at any age. On the surface this seems like it would be a shallow fluff of a book, but it surely runs deeper than expected.

A perfect read for the Easter Holidays.

Oh, and let me know what you thought of the film if you saw it.

Paperback, 320 pages

Published January 13th 2015 by Poppy (first published September 7th 2010)

ISBN 0316381802 (ISBN13: 9780316381802)



Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda interviews Lauren Galley as her latest book KISSING FROGS is released. You can read Bel’s review here.


Lauren GalleyThe theme of your book ‘Kissing Frogs’ is to have self-awareness enough to move on from less than ideal relationships. How did it feel laying your stories out for everyone to see?

The thought of sharing my awkward, embarrassing and sometimes scary dating stories for the world to see gave me a little anxiety but in order to get my message across to young girls, I knew I had to find common ground and refrain from preaching. Instead, I felt my stories would be relatable and my honesty might tug at their hearts enough to question their perspective on dating.

How do you think people can go about breaking the cycle of divorce and failed relationships?

This is really tough. I believe breaking this cycle starts from when we are a child. I grew up in a very loving stable home with parents who believed in being in the moment with their children. I learned the values of kindness, right vs wrong and respect from a very early age. Being surrounded by positive mentors gave me the fundamental building block to make smart choices and not be afraid of knowing my self worth.

Did you read any relationship self-help books while you were dating? If so, which ones made you think more positively?

I loved reading books in high school…still do but wish I had more time. I never came across a popular book about dating; one that was written from a peer’s perspective. This is one of the reasons I felt inspired to write “Kissing Frogs.” I didn’t have a big sister growing up and as we all know, girls love reading about others experiences.

galley-frogsFor any guys who are desperate to figure out the ideal first date to keep the pressure off, what would you suggest?

I love this question and I think I can speak for most of the girls out there when I say that a first date should always be without tons of distraction. Movies, busy restaurants and house parties don’t allow us to have great conversations. A lot can be determined on a first date if you ask the right questions and really get to know the person you are considering a relationship with. Keep it simple guys!! A fun picnic at the park, a coffee date, or even something fun like a game of putt putt golf or bowling. First dates can be a little nerve-wracking so do something fun and end with an opportunity to ask those important questions. One last thing guys, never put a girl in a situation that she feels too isolated. Girls want to have fun, talk and feel safe.

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