Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Olive


Dear Olive,

This has taken a long time, I know. Here you are, already nearly six weeks old, and how you must have been shivering away up there in Toowoomba without your cardigan. I had a few false starts - wrong pattern, wrong gauge, wrong needles, you know the sort of thing. But at last it is finished. Ta-da!

You have been born into a fine family, with a gaggle of siblings and fabulous parents. Your mum is my oldest friend and, as you're probably finding out, she's a woman who knows what she wants. She had three requests for this cardigan.

1) White or cream in colour - check!



2) Long sleeves - check, check!



3) A single button at the top - check, check, check!


I had to make some adjustments to meet all of these requirements, given the pattern is a short-sleeved cardigan with three buttons, but I'm quite pleased with the result. And it's always a treat to work with Baby Cashmerino. Oh, such lovely yarn.

It's been sitting here for several days drying from the blocking, and each time I look at it I think how lovely you'll look wearing it.  Can't wait to meet you, little one!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mass Hysteria


Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever be the mother of twins. There was no reason to expect it and, unlike a bunch of friends who have since confessed to always wanting them, I certainly never, ever wished for it. So much about having two babies at the same time is crazy. Sure, it's wonderful and amazing and a miracle and I'm the luckiest woman alive and, aww, aren't they just the cutest things etc etc. But it's hair-tear-outingly, mind-jellyingly hard work most of the time with moments that would break the most stoic of souls.


I know temperament has a lot to do with it. If I'd been given two placid, self-sufficient creatures, things may have been different. I'm sure there are twin families out there who have a dream run. I got one baby who was a brilliant sleeper but has grown into a needy little thing during the days, always wanting to be held and usually only by Mummy. And the other baby was - thank God WAS - a dreadful sleeper, yet will pass most of her day pottering around minding her own business, happily flicking through books, nursing her dollies, arranging things. But when she's sad, she's really sad. Heartbreakingly sad. Weeping real tears, burrowing into your chest, arms around your neck kind of sad.


And together, they're a mixed bag. I've caught moments of beautiful sisterhood, sharing and genuine concern. They bring each other toys, sit together on the step, exchange sultanas. They even (very) occasionally kiss and cuddle. It's beautiful. But for the larger part, they're like the teenagers I expect they'll become, fighting over clothes and chores and space. Pearl, my sweet, tiny, delicate Pearl, has recently begun to get great delight in marching over to Stella and whacking her on the head. Or pushing her over. Or, most recently, pinching her. And any reprimand by me is met by her gutteral giggle, followed by another whack/push/pinch and another giggle. Meanwhile, Stella melts into tears of honest-to-goodness devastation.

And sometimes, like today, they're overcome with a kind of mass hysteria, working together like a terrifying unit of destruction bent on torturing me. As I tried to cook dinner, they turned their joint attention to emptying every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen. I can keep up with one of them, but I've only got two arms. No sooner did I get them out of there and clean up the mess, they were taking turns climbing onto the couch and jumping on it, laughing hysterically until I raced to move them - over and over again.


And then the tears. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, one's despair will be matched by the other just because. Stella cried throughout her bath. Pearl joined in. Then at bedtime, Stella was having her once-in-30-nights meltdown at bedtime, crying her eyes out. Pearl appeared to be asleep, but as soon as she noticed me comforting her sister, she decided to join in, screaming like someone was pulling her fingernails off. The cry-off went on for over an hour.

And now they sleep like a pair of matching angels in mismatched cots.

This afternoon, amidst the chaos of the cupboard emptying and couch bouncing and whacking/pushing/pinching, I sat down on the step to pause. Instantly, two little girls turned as one and ran to me, leaping together into my arms for a cuddle. It was a fleeting moment in a madcap day, but ultimately what it's all about, I guess. I would never wish for anything but this pair, these individuals. It's just, in my fantasies, I get them one at a time instead of the bulk delivery. 


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mountains


I took my littlest girl on a trip to the Blue Mountains today to meet an even littler girl - five-week-old Edie.


She's quite lovely, a perfect, snuggly koala. Note her beautiful green vest.


We had lunch, drank coffee, wandered through the shops, drank more coffee.


It was all too much for some.

Friday, May 27, 2011

this moment


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
Via Soulemama.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hat




There's been a little bit of knitting going on, and a tiny bit of sewing, but not much finishing to speak of. Today I needed to work on something I could complete in one sitting. So I made this hat. In the pattern it seemed to have a much lower brim. Perhaps it's my fabric choice (Ikea), but it just looks like an everyday sun hat. I was aiming for something more wintery, enigmatic...noir? 

Anyway, she models it well, don't you think? And, even better, now she matches the cushions on our couch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bribery/Reward


We made a deal.



And she was rewarded.

Friday, May 20, 2011

this moment



{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
Via Soulemama.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wide Load


If we don't want to take the car, this is how we travel, me and my three. Our Mountain Buggy Duo is a tough machine. Fully laden, there's 10 kilos of baby in each seat, plus another 18 on the footrest when the Showgirl tires of scootering, which is often. Not to mention the shopping, the scooter, the travelling snacks...

We get some funny looks. Bumpy roads are tricky, as are local footpaths on garbage bin day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Autumn Love






What an incredible run of perfect autumn days we're having here in Sydney. Blue skies, colourful leaves, crisp air. Loving it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chocky Rocks







As she gets older, it's getting ever so slightly less frustrating cooking with the Showgirl. I try to channel my calm inner-earth-mother as packets of flour get dumped on the floor, eggs are cracked onto the benchtop, and fingers and a certain tongue are dipped in everything. But how can I resist when she insists on helping, pulling her little chair around into the kitchen to stand at the right level to mix and stir and learn and create.

Today we made Chocky Rocks. This recipe is handwritten in the book I left home with - a selection of recipes to take with me into my adult life. I made them over and over in my teen years - they're basically chocolate chip cookies, with the addition of cornflakes.  Some are mixed into the batter and become chewy with the moisture, then the cookies are rolled in more cornflakes resulting in a lovely crispy coating. And, as we learned today, the cornflake coating job is just perfect for not-quite-four-year-old hands.

Chocky Rocks

250g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups self-raising flour
200g dark chocolate chips
4 cups cornflakes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat. Add vanilla. Stir through flour, then mix in chocolate chips and 2 cups of the cornflakes. Form into walnut sized balls and roll in the remaining cornflakes to coat.

Arrange on a lined baking tray with space between - these babies spread. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lovely and golden. Eat soonish - the cornflakes go a bit chewy within a day or so and make them seem staler than they actually are. Still yummy, though.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Carrot Cake


After ballet this week, my three girls and I popped into a local cafe for coffee, milkshakes and a slice of carrot cake. It was good, and today when my lovely friend Sophia came by to babysit, I was inspired to bake her one. This is from the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. It's a beautiful read and the few recipes I've tried out so far have been delicious. It's got a long list of ingredients and there are quite a few steps in the process, but the result is completely worth it. This is a seriously good cake.

Here's the recipe with my variations:

70g walnuts (I used pecans)
1 cup self-raising flour (Oops! Just realised I used plain - I didn't even notice!)
1/8 teaspoon each of baking powder, bicarb soda, ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, salt
2 eggwhites
1/4 cup of sugar for eggwhites
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar for egg yolks
2/3 cup light olive oil
125g carrots, peeled and grated (about one big one)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease and line an 18cm round tin.

Place nuts on a tray and bake for 4-5 minutes. Chop roughly. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.

Beat eggwhites in electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Slowly pour in 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until soft peak stage - being careful not to overmix. Transfer mixture to a bowl.

Put the egg and yolk in the bowl of the electric mixer with the 3/4 cup of sugar and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until mixture doubles in volume. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil. Careful it doesn't split.

With a spatula, carefully fold in the flour mixture, then the carrots and nuts. Finally, very lightly fold through the meringue. Don't mix it too thoroughly - you should see streaks of meringue through the mix. Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Make a cream cheese frosting by beating 2 tablespoons icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of softened butter until pale and smooth. Add 150g cream cheese and mix until spreadable.

Allow cake to cool. Slice horizontally through the centre and fill with the frosting. Dust the top with icing sugar and eat.


Three people sampled this cake today. This much is left. Those are some big servings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Medley



Because I sang it almost every night for about two years, and because it was such an integral part of bedtime, and because she has very recently stopped asking for it and I'm afraid it will be lost forever, I thought I should record here, for posterity, the bedtime song medley. It evolved and grew over many nights, starting when she was around two years old, finally solidifying into this (and absolutely in this order with no variations and definitely no attempts to shorten, cull or edit):

1) Incy Wincey Spider
2) Mary Had a Little Lamb (two verses)
3) Baa Baa Black Sheep
4) Row Row Row Your Boat
5) Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
6) Open, Shut Them, Open, Shut Them
7) One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive
8) Silent Night
9) Edelweiss
10) I'm a Little Teapot
11) Our own version of the 'Sesame Street' theme song

AND THEN there would be any number of bonus tracks, including You Are My Sunshine, Zippedy Doo-Dah, All the Single Ladies (yes, Beyonce), My Bonnie Lola Lies Over the Ocean...

Now that she no longer wants the medley, I'm glad to have that 20 minutes of my evening back. But I do kinda miss it. We're working on a few different show tunes now - usually only one per night, thank god! The sun'll come ouuuuuuuut, tamarrrrowwwwww...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bliss


:: Bliss is going to the supermarket with a soy latte instead of three small children.

Friday, May 6, 2011

this moment


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
Via Soulemama.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pixie





I got back my enthusiasm for the red hat. Here's the finished product. The pattern is called the Stella Pixie Hat, so no prizes for guessing who gets it - though Pearl took it for a trial run to the park yesterday, with great success. The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug, a sock yarn with very subtle colour changes. I think there's enough left over to knit another one, and I'd like to try and adapt the pattern for a thicker yarn. It makes for a mighty cute result, so I might have to whip up a few for new baby gifts.

I actually started another Stella Pixie Hat while I was pregnant and put it aside somewhere unfinished. I'll have to dig it out and try for some matchy-matchy twin photos.

In the meantime, do we have to have a little talk about how gorgeous this kid is? I'm allowed to say that, right?

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