Monday, February 28, 2011

Hummingbird




I'd thought I might get away with a single cake for my pair's first birthday last weekend. Their big sister had other ideas. If she'd had her way, there would have been a fairy and a butterfly. At the last minute, I came up with the idea of a pair of love birds, two turtledoves, twin chickens - you decide. I thought I was a bit clever - two cakes, but only one real effort.


For the recipe, I returned to an old faithful, aptly named the hummingbird cake. It's a beautiful indulgent cake, usually done up as a triple-layer, cream-cheese-icing covered passionfruity, banana-y, pineappley decadence. I'm not sure where I got the recipe. It's handwritten in an exercise book I diligently filled out and took with me when I left home. It makes loads of batter and I've been known to divide it into two tins instead of three and make two separate, more modest cakes - one for me, one for neighbour/friend/birthday person/postman.


It's so easy to make AND it's dairy free - that is, if you stop before you get to the icing part. But why would you?


Hummingbird Cake

3 cups plain flour
2 cups caster sugar
1.5 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon bicarb soda
2 mushy bananas, mashed
1 440g tin crushed pineapple (in natural juice)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease three 20-22cm tins and line the bases with baking paper. Mix all ingredients with electric beaters and distribute into tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
125g butter
250g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
500g icing sugar
several passionfruit

Microwave butter and cheese for a minute. Beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and beat again.

When cakes have cooled, layer them three high with cream cheese frosting between. Smooth remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Just before serving, top with passionfruit pulp. Slice and enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Summer Days







The last Sunday of the summer. Nudie paddling in our luxurious courtyard pool. Even Pearl got into the spirit...eventually.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time



So I thought to myself, "Gosh it would be nice to have a bit more time."
Time to knit, time to cook, time to wander and to sit about doing nothing.

We went to the markets, and suddenly I have all this thyme on my hands.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boystuff








We are a touch top-heavy with girls in this house. The boy cousins - Oscar, 6mths, and  Henry, nearly 3 - came to stay this week to even things out. Boys are good for:

:: Turning half a ball of reasonably expensive wool into a really cool art installation in the backyard;
:: Single-handedly devouring a fruit plate meant for three in less than five minutes;
:: Really awesome train tracks;
:: Dancing with girl cousins in fairy dresses;
:: Watching telly together (in fairy dresses);
:: Trips to the park right before the storm;


It's exhausting stuff.

(PS I've joined the cool gang with my new Hipstamatic. I'm a late adopter.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

PS



365 days ago, at about 7:30 in the morning, I popped along to my local labour ward to have my waters broken. I was 37.5 weeks pregnant and, as much as I had wanted it all to start in its own time, by that stage I was over it and needed to not be pregnant anymore. I'd told anyone who would listen that it would all be over by midday. Hey, second babies are meant to come quicker. Induced labours are meant to be shorter. Twins are meant to arrive faster. 

365 days ago, at 7:30 in the evening, my waters remained intact. A series of stuff-ups, mix-ups and balls-ups meant not a jot of progress had been made. I'd spent most of the day hooked up to various monitors and, before even the first contraction, I was exhausted. My team - two sisters, an uncle and the Garbageman - all rallied around, but I was just about ready to pack it in and go home.

365 days ago, at about 10pm, my obstetrician made an appearance and was finally able to do what two midwives and a hospital obstetrician had failed to do - break my waters. At the point of giving up and trying another day, I had to dig in and muster the strength for labour. A very young anaesthetist stuck a long needle in my spine to set in place an epidural line - it was my doctor's concession to my desire for a drug-free labour. Having the line in meant the drugs could be administered in a hurry should there be any problems with Twin B. Of course, having that line in also meant I couldn't be in water for any of my labour, something I'd found indispensable with my first baby. And it also meant that having already gotten through the worst bit, ie, the needle, it might be harder to resist the drugs when it came to the crunch.

365 days ago, just before midnight, realising my two little Aquarians would be Pisceans (and obviously were meant to be all along), I was hooked up to a syntocinon drip and the contractions finally began. There may have been screaming. There may have been swearing. Someone may even have demanded the drugs and been talked down by a very calm and intuitive midwife who insisted I was so close I should just hang in a bit longer.

Cut to six hours later when,  in the dim light of the labour ward room, with many, many, many hospital staff looking on, my little Pearl arrived, as naturally as I had hoped. And 40 minutes after that, under the bright and sterile lights of the operating theatre, with even more people present, Stella was delivered by emergency caesarean. Little trixie trixter thought she'd stick her shoulder down rather than her head, and all the prodding and pulling and pushing and poking in the world couldn't turn her.

365 days. My, how the year has flown.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby Vest #586





We're getting ready for a very important birthday (or two) around here. And we've had visitors for a few days to fill our days and nights, so things have been busy. But still there has been knitting. This little vest rushed off the needles in record time, destined for a good friend's first bub. It's a fantastic seamless pattern knit in the newborn size, which is completely tiny. The yarn is an organic cotton in the softest blue to suit either a boy or girl.

Hopefully this April baby will get a few wears out of the vest before it's too small. I'm very much looking forward to meeting him or her.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vintage Reads


Two lucky finds this past week. I own a lot of cookbooks but this is my first Margaret Fulton. Food styling and photography has come a long way since 1968 (though this, unbelievably, is a 1991 reprint). And as for the Mon Tricot special, "How to Improve Your Technique, Save Time and Create Your Own Designs," says the front cover, so of course I was going to buy it. I'm yet to find the chapter on saving time, but I bet it won't suggest avoiding dropping your knitting mid-row to squash a mosquito between your hands, then picking up your knitting and resuming things in the WRONG direction, and not noticing for a few rows, thus necessitating going backwards to the point of the mistake and finally going on in the correct direction, thus wasting about half an hour's knitting time. Which is what happened to me this evening. It seems to me that avoiding this scenario would be a fantastic way to save time when knitting, and perhaps when I master such techniques I'll look as serene as the woman below - though I can't imagine wearing my hair with those sweepy-over-the-top plaits like hers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vintage New





This 'thrifting' thing is still pretty new to me but I'm fast becoming a convert. I found a pair of old pillowcases at the oppy months ago for 50 cents each. I've found many since, but these were my first and are still my favourite. I gazed at them, I loved them,  but I didn't know what to do with them. Then I remembered a little dress pattern I'd bought when I was pregnant with the twins, thinking how sweet a baby girl would look in it. Today, two and two got put together and one vintage pillowcase, washed but still with the vaguest hint of mothballs, became the Sweet Baby Dress. Lucky I've got a sweet baby or two to put in it. 

Now I think a pair of bloomers is called for.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vintage Pretty




When my first girl was born, my mum gave me a box of beautiful clothes that my sisters and I had worn when we were babies. Some were handmade or at least hand-embellished. Most are entirely impractical. But this little set has been rolled out a few times this summer, perfect for a warm day on those little lily-white limbs. It's green and white striped seersucker with broderie anglaise trim and tiny embroidered roses across the front.  I love how puffy the little bloomers are across the bum. It's lovely to think my own baby is wearing clothes I wore when I was her age. 


Monday, February 7, 2011

Hot


It's been busy around here. And hot. Me and the toothy one took a brief trip interstate to see some lovely friends, then returned in time for THE HOTTEST NIGHT IN HISTORY* on Saturday. After a day and evening with the mercury hovering around 42 degrees, I lay in bed at 2am drenched in sweat as the weatherman reported it was still 30 degrees outside. And after all that, the following evening the temperatures had dropped so much that the kids were rugging up in cardigans.

And on the topic of cardigans, I paid a little visit to my favouritest-est yarn shop, this time armed with an actual list. Of wool to buy. In correct quantities. For planned projects. It seemed a good way to avoid just buying a ball here and a skein there, succumbing to the temptations, adding to the ever-growing stash of idle yarns. I left with a bag of yumminess and a halo shining o'erhead. I've even cast on - a grass-green lacy scarf for moi. And when I finish it, I will forevermore remember it as the scarf I cast on on THE HOTTEST NIGHT IN HISTORY*.

And it was OK to spend the money on that yarn because today I saved myself thousands and thousands of dollars. A year ago I managed to squeeze a baby capsule on either side of Lola's car seat across the back seat of my car. So tight was the fit, every time a door was closed, all of the seats moved across just a smidge. Today, with babies growing fast and four little feet hanging way over the edges of the capsules, I went on a mission to replace them with upright seats. And for a brief 10-minute period, as a very knowedgeable sales assistant wielding a tape measure and a notepad assessed my car with a worried crease in her forehead before telling me it wasn't gonna happen, it looked like I might be in the market for a new, bigger, wider car. Thank the lord, we tried out some display models and were in luck. So now Miss L has her very own super-duper booster, Little P has a swanky new seat (a compact model for a compact child) and Babs has been lumped with the biscuit-encrusted hand-me-down of her big sister (no doubt the first of many, many, many in her lifetime). So now that I'm approximately, let's say, ooh...20 grand richer - taking into account the trade-in, you see - I might treat myself to a new pair of shoes. Seems reasonable.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pearly Whites


She was known as Twin A for 37 weeks and, as expected, she was first born. Alas, for the 11.5 months since, Pearl's younger sister has been pipping her at the post with absolutely every baby milestone. Stella smiled first, rolled first, sat first, talked first, crawled first, pulled herself to standing first and is on track to walk first, and she's always been bigger, longer and chubbier.

But today, this one got in first for a change, finally cutting a tooth. Good on you, little one. Makes this mummy's heart swell with pride.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Bakin'


Such was the heat here today, and despite a morning at the pool, the aircon was barely touching it. This evening I resorted to an old technique that used to cool me down on sweltering nights working in restaurant kitchens. You take a couple of icy-cold eggs from the fridge and nestle them gently in your armpits. It cools you to the core in seconds, and when the eggs lose the battle with your body warmth, just swap them for another pair of coldies. I've never experimented with how hard you need to press your arms against your body to break them - there hasn't been an accident to date. And will the eggs be flavoured or, dare I say, scented, if I put them to use at breakfast tomorrow? I'm not even gonna go there.

Here's another pic for this little project I mentioned last week. This one was a treat - think flourless orange cakes, coconut, vanilla...lemon curd...fresh raspberries...mango... Please, stop! I'm just gonna give one little hint - oh, Adriano.

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