Monday, 28 June 2010

where we are at

We've had a relatively quiet few days around here, with the duo sick with an intestinal bug and then Mia having a nasty reaction to her twelve month imms {a week later!} there have been many days that we have just stayed in.

learning how to play

After reading this post by Mommy Coddle a few weeks back, I have been inspired to invest in some 'age appropriate' games. I bought our first one while out and about on Friday night, and am very impressed by how quickly Angus has grasped the fundamentals. As he is not reading yet, we wait until he has narrowed it down to one person, then he tells us and we show him which person we selected. He doesn't really have the gist of winning & losing yet, for the moment it's just about guessing the other persons selection. I have another package awaiting pick-up at the post office with a few more games too.

straight {direct sown} carrots

nearly ready

I managed to steal some time out in the garden, and was pleased to pull two 'straight' carrots out of the few that were 'direct sown' ~ just goes to show that it is possible. I also discovered that my other broccoli is just about ready, one is slightly bigger, so that will do us for this week, then hopefully the smaller one will be ready for next week. Then it's just a waiting game to see if they produce any more heads, I've never done this before so am only basing this on the reading that I've done.

the lettuces bolted

It was also nice to get my hands a little dirty, my lettuces have all bolted, so I ripped them out for the compost. It's nice to start seeing some gaps in the garden, soon it will be time to start planning for my spring planting ~ and that I am very excited about.

it worked perfectly!! woo hoo!

and last but certainly not least, I finally got around to making my very own lemon meringue pie. I had a conversation with a friend last week about our love of the humble pie, and then a few days later saw a fellow-bloggers post about her attempt at one; so I just had to spend some time to satisfy my own taste-buds.

my slice

Thankfully mine worked beautifully, so I was able to enjoy a slice for afternoon tea on Saturday. On Sunday we shared the rest of the pie with family and friends ~ who hopefully appreciated my efforts as well.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Tuesday

arm sized handle

This week I decided that Angus & Daisy could do a day in child-care instead of a 'choose-day' as I needed some space to get a few things done. When I finally told them that they were going to childcare, they were besides themselves... with joy!

This is a direct contrast to how we finished childcare a few weeks ago, but I think that they have missed going, and they have missed their carers and friends there, so it was nice to see them. It also reminded me about the importance of balance ~ again. So I think that going forward we will do 2 or 3 'choose-days' depending on my energy, then a child-care day... hopefully the best of both worlds.

knitting bags

While they were gone, I got busy and knocked up a couple of these, fully lined, zip-up bags. I spotted them last week in Nay's ravelry favourites, and agreed that they would be just perfect for toting around my current {small} knitting project.

knitting

They were a cinch to knock up, and unlike many of the other tutorials around, this one does not have the inside seams exposed, perfect for a neat-freak such as myself.

current project paraphernalia

So tonight I filled it with my current knitting paraphernalia and happily stepped out to meet up with the girls.

Monday, 21 June 2010

I have a dilemma...


My little boy turns 5 next month and all except for his first birthday we have celebrated with family only. My argument has been that we will tackle 'kids parties' when he is old enough to ask for one.

Well this year he has asked. He knows that his birthday is coming up, and he is expecting a party {probably because Mia's 1st birthday is so fresh in his mind} and he has told me who he wants to come... he has named some family members and some of my friends, and T*, L, H and S... who are four boys in his kinder class.

Now my dilemma is this; I am happy to throw a party for him, and given enough time I will probably be able to find a theme and a venue {home or otherwise}, but... I don't know what the protocol for inviting kinder friends is.

The problem is that even though I see the other mothers at kinder in passing, I haven't actually formed any friendships with other kinder families, so I feel a little awkward about just inviting the kids that Angus named, also given another five minutes he would probably name more kids. Another thing, at least one of those kids hangs with a fairly entrenched group where the Mum's are long standing friends {at least it seems that they are} and if I invite that kid and not the others, where does that leave us? ... will that kid decline because his mates aren't invited? or will Angus be ostracised because he didn't invite all of them?

Also, protocol seems to be that you are not supposed to invite just a handful of kids, lest the others feel excluded. So do I then invite the whole kinder class of 24 kids, parents and siblings which will result in a few things: 1. finding a venue to host approx 50-75 people which is going to be expensive {which we can't afford}, and wasn't really the feel that I want to go for, and 2. invite everyone and find an appropriate venue, and then find that most people don't come because they figure that everyone got invited so there is really no obligation for them to turn up because they are not really that special {umm, I'm guilty of this one when an invite goes out for all the kids}...

Or, do I invite just the kids that Angus has named and risk him being ostracised for not inviting every one... or invite no one except family again so that we don't upset anyone {except for the birthday boy who has specifically asked for these people}.

What would you do?... If you have found yourself in this situation, and have successfully negotiated the murky waters of kinder / school politics, any suggestions would be appreciated.

At this stage I am thinking of inviting everyone in his class and then having the party on a weekend day, at a park somewhere with a sheltered picnic area, that way numbers won't matter and weather won't be overly important either... maybe somewhere like here? {unless I can find something closer to home}. Oh my!

edit: I just had another idea! maybe I could have a party in the park behind our house, it has a sheltered area and a massive bmx track? yes, that could work?... still any suggestions are most welcome!

* names have been excluded for privacy reasons.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

solstice celebration

lit...

For the last few years we have celebrated the winter solstice with baking, lantern making and dinner at my parents house. This year we decided to do something different.

ready to go...

The Collingwood Children's Farm have a massive bonfire each year to celebrate the solstice, and they have food stalls, a giant lantern walk, fire performers and, of course, the bonfire. We decided this year that Angus and Daisy are at an age where this experience would be quite magical.

the best food stand!

As we hadn't been before we didn't really know what to expect, but soon after arriving we realised that a waterproof-picnic-blanket would have been a very good idea. Then Cam mentioned that there was the blue plastic tarp in the back of our car {which I had packed up neatly after easter holidays and stowed in there, then forgotten about} so while he headed back to the car, we made our way to the hot chocolate stand then bagged ourselves a good spot by the fence where we could see the fire {when they finally lit it} and more importantly, the fire performers.

wood fire pizza for dinner

spectating

The fire performers were excellent, and really funny and friendly with the children. At one point the lady above, after swallowing her stick of fire, turned around to the wide-eyed gaggle of children watching her and assured them "don't worry, it's not really real"... she then proceeded to hold her hands in the other stick of fire that she was holding "see it's not real!"

fire-hooping

It was so cool to be able to see someone actually doing the fire-hooping ~ such a visual feast, and of course I have such as appreciation of the skill involved after my little dabble in normal hooping!

whoosh!

... but this guy above, I really think that this was the pinnacle for the kids. They were all hanging off the fence, through the fence, up the tree(!) and then this guy comes out with a fire stick burning at each end, whirling and twirling, and then every time he threw it straight up in the air, each end would go "whoooof" and a big ball of flame leapt up. Very exciting.

performing

One thing that I thought that we would do was the giant lantern walk, and it really did look spectacular with the scarlet lady leading the way, and then as the night descended the giant lanterns really glowed, but, my kids were just not interested at all. So I think that we'll save that one for next year...

scarlet lady... leading the lantern walk

giant lantern

Then as the dark finally closed in, and the thrum of the crowd reached it's peak, the drummers adding to the frenzied festival feel, the lights, the fire, the smell... finally, finally, they doused the massive pile of wood with much accelerant and...

big bonfire...

lit it!

It was spectacular, with sparkes and flames roaring high into the night sky.

We stayed for a little longer until the fire settled, then we wended our way out through the crowd to our peaceful little car, and headed home for baths and bed. Lights in their eyes, reliving the excitement and the sites. This is exactly the thing that traditions and childhood memories are made of.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Choose-day

Scienceworks

where we came from...

We made our way across the bridge today {a highlight} to visit the wonderful world of scienceworks.

scienceworks

I haven't been there since I was a kid, but I've heard many good things, and the details on the website looked promising, and, well, it was pretty much as far as the budget would stretch this week anyway... as soon as I paid for my ticket I headed straight for the Itty Bitty City, not really knowing what to expect, but as soon as Angus and Daisy spotted the 'digger-dozer' I knew we were on to a good thing.

digger dozer

After the dozer they moved along to the ship, both loading the cargo into it and driving the thing... if we hadn't, eventually, moved them along, I think that they would have played here all day.

the ship

lifting

However, the peeks at the general admission section below were too tantalising for Angus, and eventually we made our way down-stairs.

launching

The down-stairs stuff was fun, but it was very busy and noisy, and mostly my kids just zipped from one display to another, poking and interrupting... they had a ball, but I think that they will get a lot more out of it in another year or two.

As they went off to sleep this evening Angus yelled out "Mum?"... "I had fun today at Scienceworks, can we go again tomorrow?"

An excellent outing, I highly recommend this one, it was fun!

Next week?... they are booked in to childcare, I need a break...

Monday, 14 June 2010

lessons learned in the garden

big beets

I'm the first to admit that while I hoped that my garden would produce all sorts of wonderful, tasty, home-grown goodness; I didn't delude myself into thinking that it would actually happen. So I am sure that you can imagine my delight now that we are able to harvest some tasty winter vegetables. The beetroots have been making their way into our Sunday roast, baked along-side the potatoes and carrots {delicious} and this lot was destined to be pickled and included in Cam's workday lunches.

broad beans, mini cabbages & de-formed carrots

The middle bed is looking pretty lush for a winter garden. I'm growing broad bean, but am yet to convince myself that I actually want to eat them. I planted the 'broad bean paddock' with a vague idea of making salads {or something} out of the beans when they are small and sweet, and any others that get to big can just stay on the plant and be chopped up and used as green manure... then I read that you can't eat the crop as that defeats the purpose of adding all the nutrients back into enriching the soil. So for the moment I'll just watch then grow and decide when the time comes.

In the middle I have planted six mini-cabbages, which appear to be growing ok... and along the edge are all of the carrot seedlings that I transplanted. An interesting exercise, that in hind-sight was a rookie mistake... apparently, no matter how careful you are when you transplant carrot seedlings, you will always damage the plant resulting in deformed carrots ~

de-formed carrots

um, check!

They do taste ok, but the shapes that come out of the ground are a bit of a worry. So next time that I plant carrots {and trust me when I say that I have not been discouraged by this experience} will be in the form of seed tape. Some strips of newspaper, some flour glue, a bowl of seeds and some tweezers, and my next batch of carrots will be of the correctly spaced direct sow variety.

broccoli...

In the other big bed is my pride and joy {now that the spinach is finished} the broccoli. I grew this from seed, and am suitably impressed by how large it is getting {the other two are a little smaller because I could never decide which one to thin, so they both got to grow and are competing with each other; and I still can't rip one out}.

I am so looking forward to trying this broccoli, as I have spent so much time defending this plant from white cabbage moth caterpillars. Until I harvest the head though, I don't think I will know if I was successful or not, so far I can't see any grubs in there, but as I'm not using any pesticides only cutting it up will show for sure.

lettuce

So still lots of things being learned, even though my garden has slowed significantly during this colder weather, it's nice to see that it's still pretty green and lush out there.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

filling growing bodies

banana muffins

Try as I might, I just can't seem to fill my kids up at the moment. Every time that I turn around one of them is asking for food! I give them a sandwich and a piece of fruit before we step out to run some errands, and next thing one of them is complaining that they are hungry. I feel like I spend every {well most} waking moment in my kitchen...

Something that I have done a few times lately, when I'm at my wit's end listening to the endless pleas for more food, is throw together a quick batch of banana muffins. Technically they are banana cupcakes, but we skip the icing in the name of expediency; they don't even get a chance to cool before they are all gobbled up.

My recipe makes 9 cupcakes and is so easy-peezy...


115 grams of each, butter, self-raising flour, caster sugar. 2 eggs, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.


Mix together until well combined, about 2 - 3 minutes, then add 115 grams of mashed banana and mix in. Divide evenly into a muffin tray lined with 9 patty-pans.


Give the kids the bowl to lick {in a bid to pacify them} while the cupcakes bake in a 175°C oven for 20 minutes.


Once cooked, place cupcakes on cooling rack {within reach of little fingers} and let ravenous children eat them just as soon at they don't burn their fingers on them. Pray that this will stave off their hunger pangs for an hour or so.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

rainbow cake :: how to

cake





slice

Now before I move on and commit the Rainbow Party only to the realm of memories and archives, I thought that I would share some more details about the cake. Thank you to all of you who left beautiful comments on my post the other day, and truly if you also make this cake, just be prepared for the collective in-take of 'Wow!' breaths as you cut into it and reveal the surprise. It's was enough to make my heart sing for days.

The inspiration for the cake came from here, but the idea of a coconut-less coconut cake with lemon icing just didn't fill me with glee, and after watching the video I was also a little concerned that the icing would 'fall off'... so instead I used my trusty vanilla-vanilla recipe that I have been using to make cupcakes for years.

Vanilla-Vanilla 'Magnolia Inspired' Cupcake Recipe

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups self-raising flour
1¼ cups plain flour
250 grams butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C
2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside
3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until light and smooth.
Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. About 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
With each addition, beat until incorporated, but do not over-beat.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
4. Divide batter into 6 separate bowl, in equal parts {I used a ladle to get roughly the same amount in each bowl}
5. Dye each portion of batter a different colour of the rainbow, using food colouring. My layers were red, orange, yellow, green, blue, mauve.
6. Line the base of a 20cm spring form pan, and grease using cooking spray.
7. Pour in one portion of coloured batter and spread evenly.
8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, but check regularly. {I covered my pan with foil part-way through cooking to prevent the top browning too much} Cake is cooked when an inserted skewer comes out clean.
9. Remove pan from oven and cool in tin for 5 minutes before cooling completely on wire rack.
10. Repeat steps 6 to 9 for each other colour.
11. Once layers are completely cool, stack in rainbow order, with icing between each layer. Fill gaps on the sides with more icing, then spread icing up the sides and over the top. Decorate at desired.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing
INGREDIENTS
250 grams butter, softened
6-8 cups pure icing sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

METHOD
1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and them milk and vanilla.
2. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creams, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to spread evenly without 'running' {note: you may not need to add all the sugar}

I hope that this all makes sense, and if you do make one of these, I would love it if you left a comment on this post so that I can go and have a peak. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

choose-day

Collingwood Children's Farm

they're off

I still have a bit to learn about being flexible. It's so easy to fall into the trap of fixed thinking, even in the early stages of implementing an idea. "We are going to have 'choose-days' and we are going to have fun", and "we will look forward to them". It's all good stuff in theory...

On Monday Angus came home from kinder and he was fine, he played happily for a few hours, then he fell sound asleep on the couch {which is not normal for him}. When he woke up he was scalding hot to touch and was running a temperature of 39.5°c, he was feeling cold and shivery, and told me that he hurt, although nothing specific so I think that it was just fever aches. We gave him some panadol and put him to bed early. My 'choose-day' was starting to look a little shaky, maybe a pretty picnic in the yard with all those left over helium balloons?!?

feeding the goats

When he awoke on Tuesday morning he was back to normal, no fever, no aches, just a grumpy little boy who had gone to bed on a empty stomach the night before, who was now ravenous {and did I mention grumpy?}

yuck!

I gave him something to eat, which I eventually enticed him to consume {and amazingly enough his tummy ache went away!} and reasoned with myself that a trip to the farm couldn't possibly do any harm. If we all rugged up against that chilly winter air, then a walk in the fresh air might do us all some good. Not to mention that I had another reason for going and wanted to pre-purchase our tickets.

yucky hands

We made our way there ok, although I did think that we were about to turn around in the car-park and go straight home, but both Angus and I came good and we made our way down to the farm. We got our tickets and headed straight to the guinea pig enclosure, which seems to be one of Daisy's favourite places. She sets herself up with one guinea pig and cuddles and cuddles and cuddles. There is no sharing, and not much stroking, just cuddles. Every time I see her in there I am tempted to get her one of her own, but only for a moment!

running

Soon after, we met up with Julia and made our way slowly around the farm. There were goats to be seen and fed, lots of goats. Luckily our children were happy with goats, because all of the horses were otherwise pre-disposed, and the sheep were few and far between, but there seemed to be lots of goats!


and a little pony who was happy to be fed, and I was able to provide a little boy who was more than happy to feed her.

feeding the pony

Next week I am planning on visiting here, but of course I will try to be a bit more flexible in my thinking on this one, and we'll just see what happens...

A few more photos here if you are interested.