Friday, August 31, 2012

Conversations with Minty on cocktail Friday...

Minty [whining]: muuum!
Me [exasperated]: I heard you the first 30 times
Minty: no that was 7 times
Minty [showing me the lego aeroplane she had built]: mum this aeroplane has exempting hair
Me: exempting hair?
Minty: yeah, so it's soooo powerful!
For those of you playing along with cocktail Friday tonight's cocktail is a screwdriver...


45ml vodka
60ml orange juice
slice of orange to garnish

Pour vodka and orange juice over ice in a highball glass.  Cut orange slice in half and sit both pieces on the rim of the glass.

Happy cocktail Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In which there are dirty tiger suits...

His vocabulary is still somewhat limited.  It's not unusual for him to announce that something is 'purple' when it is in fact clearly red.  There are times when I have absolutely no idea what he is saying (usually during one of his full scale emotional breakdowns tipped off by the smallest inconvenience).  But we are gradually reaching a point where his language is coloured by his personality and sparkles with creativity.  When he wakes in the morning he will hold up his fingers to correspond to the number of weetbix he wants and says, 'I want to eat these guys.'  As he points to one finger he tells me, 'you can feed me this guy, and I'll eat these guys'.  I am enchanted and in awe of his whimsical imagination.  He tells me of tigers who need to go to the laundry to wash their tiger suits that button down their middles, and of a fox that lives in our microwave and helps to warm our porridge with its bushy tail.  He spends his day building 'traps' about the house to capture the magical creatures that live only in his mind.  I wish I could visit inside his head and somehow bottle the whimsy that resides there.  I'm sure it holds the seeds of a wonderful children's book!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On being 30 and turning to jelly…

So I just turned thirty - which probably isn't a big deal since I've been acting middle aged since I was about 12 and most of my friends are pushing 40 but somehow it inspired a bit of a birthday funk.  Probably not helped by waking up with a bout of viral conjunctivitis on my birthday (a thoughtful birthday gift from the kids!).

With a new decade looming it felt like some sort of mega-new-years-eve style event in which I should make some resolutions.  So here are my resolutions for my 30s, the things I'm going to try and do now that I'm all grown up...

Make my bed every day (I'm ashamed to admit this task has long been neglected in our household).  I think making an effort to keep our bedroom nice will be a mood lifter.  Now I'm not talking about anything extreme like hospital corners - just a shake of the doona and general 3 minute room reset after I get dressed in the morning.

Like Jelly.  For some reason I never liked it as a child but now that I'm all grown up there is something about the theatricality of a moulded jelly that really appeals to me.  I recently bought mum Wobble, a cookbook dedicated entirely to the art of jelly making.  I have to confess I have no idea if mum even likes jelly but I really wanted this book for myself (it really is a bad habit of mine, purchasing gifts I actually want to keep!  So don't be surprised if you end up with a retro eames pencil sharpener on your next birthday… you've been warned!)  Anyway, I digress, mum made me an awesome mandarin and vanilla bean jelly for my birthday lunch.  It was like a very sophisticated version of something from an Enid Blyton book, because you know jelly is a requisite food on any of her fictional tables.  (As noted in this amusing excerpt from the Wishing Chair, 'Then came the supper.  It was so queer.  The long, long table was spread with plates and glasses and dishes, but there was no food at all, no, not even a yellow jelly.')  So this year I'm hoping to put jelly on the table when we're celebrating, because really is there anything more delightful?

Introduce cocktail Friday.  I'm instigating this as a little rewarding adult 'me' time.  With a little help from this gorgeous little book, I'll try a new cocktail every week this year.

Create a beautiful garden.  I'm by no means a gardener.  Up until now leaving a plant in my care basically amounted to a death sentence for the poor leafy friend.  Maybe it won't be any different this time around since so far all I've done is begin to wage a war on all the weeds that have taken up residence in my garden.  But I have dreams of apple trees, herb gardens, hollyhocks and foxgloves (I'm not sure if I even really know what a foxglove is but with such a magically evocative name I'm sure it must be fabulous!).  It's funny how the older I get the more I end up becoming my parents.  I think I've mentioned before that my dad is a passionate photographer.  For years I didn't take a single picture and refused to even consider photography as a worthwhile endeavour.  Now it's absolutely one of my favourite hobbies.  The same could probably said for gardening.  Whenever dad has a free moment you can usually find him somewhere in the garden.  I'm hoping some of the skills might have magically rubbed off on me!!

Never eat McDonalds again.  I know it's bad for me and I could make (or buy) a much nicer burger that actually resembles real food.  I'm going to fight the lure of my childhood memories of the golden arches.

That's about it.  I'm not sure how long my resolve will last on all of these.  Maybe only a few weeks!  If anyone is interested I'm blogging over at food fanatics today with a post on kale.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In which it snows and we play indoors...

There's been a fair bit of wild weather around these parts this week.  The wind is fierce and whistles and creaks around the house in a very disconcerting way.  It has been bitterly cold and this morning I awoke to find patches of snow outside my bedroom window.  All this amounts to plenty of indoor play for the kids.  I thought I'd give you a look at a few of the things I've been doing with the kids to keep them occupied and thereby stop them from killing each other.

Earlier in the week I took the kids along to a performance of the Magic Flute by Opera Australia at one of the local primary schools.  I love opera so it was a bit of a treat for me, even if it was geared at the kids!  We all adored Papageno the panpipe wielding baritone, so today we decided to make our own little panpipes out of straws.  I guess this activity was vaguely science based since we observed how the different straw lengths create different notes as the air vibrates the tubes.  Minty loved doing this since it required very minimal help from me!

We did venture outside at one point, when there was a gap in the rain, to stretch our legs.  Minty took along her cloth bag and I told her to collect as many different and interesting types of leaves as she could.  She had so much fun foraging even if it was bone numbingly cold.  When we got home I let her use some of my special copper coloured paint to make leaf prints.  I think these will make gorgeous wrapping paper!

And lastly Minty spent some time drawing faces onto balloons.  I've got a little balloon themed sewing project in the works, which I should be able to show you soon.

I hope you're all keeping warm wherever you are!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In which I make a cursed wishing cake...

As promised, here is part two of the Faraway Tree party…  

I was tasked with recreating the 'wishing cake' from the Land of Birthdays.  The girls fell in love with this illustration in my old edition of The Enchanted Wood.  I was looking forward to having lots of fun piping all those garlands and flowers but sadly things did not go entirely to plan.
The Mr. is away on a 10 day ski trip in New Zealand so I am currently enduring a stint of single parenting (props to those of you who do this all the time - I'm in awe!).  I hadn't had much sleep in the days preceding and on cake-making-day the kids were in a particularly feral mood.  There was a brawl, and a bowl was thrown across the room and smashed into hundreds of tiny pieces.  My nerves were on edge.  I realised late in the afternoon I didn't have all the ingredients I needed so we had to make an emergency trip to the shops with said feral children in tow - more calamity ensued.  

By bed time I thought the dramas were over.  The cake was out of the oven and the house was finally calm.  And then I realised I had lost my case of piping tips.  I searched the entire house, unpacked innumerable boxes and even tried to climb into the roof space to see if they had been accidentally put in long term storage.  All to no avail.  

After a few tears, I got angry and decided I wasn't going to let it defeat me.  I managed to locate one star tip and a fine round tip that I hadn't put away in the case after I last used them.  I wasn't going to be able to pipe the leaves or flowers but I was going to do my best to cobble something together.  5 cups of coffee later, and well after midnight I had something resembling the picture.  I figured I'd pop to the supermarket on the way to the party and pick up some pre-made sugar flowers to stick where the piped ones should have been.

I successfully transported the cake on the almost two hour dive to the party.  Now if you've ever been to Puffing Billy you'll know how twisty the roads are around the Belgrave area, so this was no mean feat.  Just as a feeling of relief was washing over me, on the final roundabout the top two layers of cake slid off the bottom layer and the whole cake went smack onto the cake carrier.  The entire front section of icing smooshed off - the pink piped swag, the garland of silver cachous I had painstakingly stuck on and the perfectly smoothed pale green buttercream below was ruined in an instant.  I waved my fists in the air and said a bad word that begins with F.

Honestly at that point I just felt like throwing the cake in the bin and pouting.  But you know it was a kid's birthday party and I'm supposed to be a mature adult.  So I pulled myself (and the cake) together, stuck those sugar flowers over the gaping icing holes and attempted to feign a party enthusiasm I really wasn't feeling (insert overly theatrical jazz hands here).

I realise the kids weren't at all concerned about the smooshed front, but something about my A type perfectionist personality couldn't really let it go.  Even now just looking at the pictures makes me feel a bit dejected.  I think I had a cakexistential crisis of sorts.  What was the point of all that decorating and heartache laced between the chocolate layers, when it was destined only to be cut and eaten?  Maybe I'll just buy my next cake at Woolworths… 

In case you were wondering what was underneath the icing, the cake was a three layer chocolate tofu cake sandwiched with raspberry filling (due to dietary restrictions of the birthday girl this cake had to be wheat and dairy free).

Monday, August 6, 2012

In which Turi is a gobbledok and we take a train to the land of birthdays...

You may have guessed from my last post that there has been a bit of a Faraway Tree obsession brewing about these parts lately.  This weekend we went to a very special Faraway Tree themed birthday party centred around a journey on Puffing Billy (an old restored steam train).  There are quite a few steam trains throughout the books and the forest around Puffing Billy is very reminiscent of Enid Blyton's enchanted wood, so it really was a perfect setting.

All the children were invited to dress as their favourite character from the book.  Minty decided to dress as Bessie.  For those of you not intimately acquainted with the books, when Bessie visits the Land of Birthdays at the top of the Faraway Tree she wishes for fairy wings that could really fly.  I made Minty's wings in chiffon in a simple gathered Waldorf inspired design.  The skirt was a very quick freehand overlocked number.  It was only about 9 degrees so Minty had to add her coat for extra warmth!  Turi dressed up as one of the three bears (the children visit the three bears to help rescue Jo from the polar bears in the land of ice and snow).  We borrowed a generic animal suit from a friend and paired it with his bear mask recycled from here.  Turi was so excited to be wearing his costume.  He kept whispering to me proudly, 'people will see me'.  They really did look particularly adorable, and lots of random tourists stopped to take their picture while they were waiting for the train!

This post was getting a bit long so I've had to split it into two.  Come back tomorrow for part two.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In which I belatedly discuss the opening ceremony...

On the weekend we had some friends over for a little olympics party.  We showed the (prerecorded) opening ceremony on the big screen and ate thematic British food.  I made toad in the hole, fish and chips and fizzy drinks with coloured life savers in them to represent the olympic rings.  Our friends brought bread and butter pudding with custard and quince pudding.  I think all the kids were pretty blown away, as for most of them it is their first olympics.

My opening ceremony highlights - the dance of 'mortality' choreographed by Akram Khan and set to Emeli Sande singing Abide With Me, the oak tree on the grassy hill, the dove bikes and of course the gorgeous olympic torch.  Lowlights - the Frankie and June section (was all a bit lost on me) and David Beckham on the speedboat (just a bit too smarmy!).  Also that whole section with the NHS seemed a bit obscure and I suspect I didn't really appreciate the political subtext.  

What did everyone else think?  Was it as good as Bejing?