Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Yarn Along



I recently came across this blog with its weekly 'Yarn Along' - knitting and reading - and thought I'd dive in. You see, I've only just rediscovered the joy/love/exhaustion of the unputdownable book, having received a little shipment from my favourite online book place a few weeks back. First there was 'Room' by Emma Donoghue, and now this - the best rollicking good read I've had in ages. The sort of book that I think about all day, look forward to all evening and then, when bedtime is nearing, pulls me in and holds my attention, even when sleep is wooing. I've had a few very late nights with this book in the past week. And it's a book about farming, of all things! It's so well-written and like a long pointy finger beckoning to the large part of me that wants to get out of this big city and do the country thing. 

And as for the knitting, well, there's always knitting. This one's a hat, but it's a bit of a secret, a surprise for someone who pops in here occasionally. So I won't give too much away. Suffice to say, I'm loving working with this beautiful yarn and that twisted rib is making me very happy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

this moment


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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Winter Harvest


I said to the Garbageman, "If you're serious about getting out of the city and living the rural life, prove it - grow some vegies." So he did. He and Lola planted spring onions, broccoli, carrots and Tuscan cabbage (cavolo nero for the fancypantsies).


Brave folk, planting their first garden as winter approached. 


Brave but successful. Yesterday they harvested the cabbage. Two whole plants worth. It looked like a fine bunch of leaves. "Two's enough," I said.


I blanched it, then sauteed it quickly in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Simple, delicious fare. Of course, those two hearty bunches quickly wilted to a very small pile of greens on the plate.


Luckily there was some roast pork with crackling, rosemary potatoes and creamy cauliflower to go with it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where's the Love?

MasterChef season is well and truly upon us. I admit I'm a fan. It's that few months of the year when every time I cook I imagine a big orange clock hovering overhead and two short blokes and a really tall one strolling past, occasionally, with their eyebrows raised.

Last night, George Calombaris's mum Mary was a guest judge. She talked about that old chestnut, cooking with love. Ah, love. It's an important ingredient in every meal, I know. I've tasted it many times, and I've tasted its absence too. As I watched, I nodded along. "Mmm, yes, Mary," I heard myself saying. My mind wandered off thinking about how important this cooking-with-love thing is, and I found myself wishing to bring a bit of it back into my kitchen, to see the results on the faces of my family as they eagerly ate every nutritious, love-filled morsel on the plate. Mmm. Yes, Mary. Yes.

You see, I'm not sure I cook with much love these days. At least, not all the time. I cook with a lot of stress (background screaming), frustration (what can I cook tonight?), apathy (who cares what I cook tonight), boredom (how many ways can I add carrot and zucchini to meat and make it presentable?) and despair (where's the number for the pizza place?). 

Today we made Anzac biscuits. Quick, simple, lovely Anzacs. No appliances necessary. Just chuck a few dry ingredients in a bowl, melt butter, do the sciencey bit of adding the bicarb and watching it fizz. Mix, drop onto a tray, bake.

Still, there were a million other things to do - washing to be folded, dinner to be started, lunch to be swept off floor, cold coffee to be (finally) drunk, blanket to be located and wrapped tenderly around dolly as she slept in shoebox cradle - so I rushed it and, damn, I forgot the love. 


I forgot the love and I took my eye off the ball and something went wrong and the mixture seemed too wet and my Anzacs melted together on the tray into one homogenous mass that I then had to actually cut into biscuit size pieces like a pissaladiere.



The result - square Anzac biscuits. Oh dear, Mary.


(They actually taste delicious. If I could work out what I did wrong, I could remake them and call the recipe my own, and maybe win a future spot on MasterChef. I'll call them Squanzacs. Maybe there was a bit of love after all.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Purple



I don't think I'll ever be a full-time knitting blogger -  there would be such large blank spaces between posts. Although I usually manage at least a few stitches each day, it's still a sloooooooow business. I put a few other projects on hold to finish off this cardigan. It's another In Threes, like the one knit previously for Stella. This one is in a size 5 and is about to be handed over to Lola's preschool to be auctioned off at their fundraiser this weekend.


I used Cascade 220 again, this time in 'Mystic Purple'. I love the colour so much, I've just ordered some more of it - probably for another cardigan exactly like this one. For exactly this little girl.


Now, take it off before it gets all grotty...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Group

By all accounts, mothers' groups can be a bit hit-and-miss. I can understand why - it's a bunch of hormone-fuelled, sleep-deprived, often hysterical women having very recently undergone an enormous, incredibly emotional life change, all in a room together with any number of screaming babies and boobs ahoy. In the midst of something as big as new motherhood, finding people going through exactly the same thing can be affirming, empowering, even lifesaving. But it can also be a lesson in destructive compare-and-contrast, judgement and bitchiness. And the mere fact of having babies exactly the same age can't always win out if the women are people you have nothing else in common with.

My mothers' group, I'm pleased to say, was all hit. We started as a group of maybe a dozen, which soon whittled itself down to about half that size. A couple have moved out of town but keep in touch. And the remaining four of us have become firm friends - friends of the regular girls' night out, morning play date, Thursday afternoon coffee and whinge, Australia Day barbecue.


This weekend we marked our fourth anniversary, as our babies all turn four in the coming weeks. We met, as we have in previous years, over coffee and cake in the park, and watched our not-so-little kids, and lots of new additions, frolic in the winter sunshine. They're a gorgeous bunch, and I had a fleeting teary moment as six nearly four-year-olds ran screaming across a lawn (chased by a horrible ogre), remembering us all sitting, bleary-eyed, in the community health centre with our newborns in our arms.

We met once a week for four weeks, formal gatherings hosted by a jaded community nurse who had long lost the ability to look interested as a group of women asked the same bunch of questions and told the same stories she'd obviously heard a million times before. When I was pregnant, I hadn't even thought I'd join a mothers' group. I didn't think it was my kind of thing. However, when I was discharged from hospital, I was swept along on the ride that is the efficient, well-resourced local area health system. I was visited at home by a midwife who offered to sign me up and I thought, "What the heck." 


From such blase beginnings, my Tuesday mornings soon became the highlight of my week. We moved from the community centre to a local cafe where the laid-back owner let us lounge over a single latte for hours, and provided floor mats, and eventually a playpen and highchairs, for the babies. He was heartbroken when, after a year, those Tuesday get-togethers ended as several of us returned to full-time work.

Most of us were professional working women in our mid to late 30s and married, though we did have a single mother, a new stay-at-homer - even, in the early days, a lesbian. There was cultural diversity - our kids had Greek, Korean, Indonesian and English grandparents. It seemed like a typical inner-west Sydney mix.

We were, formally, a 'new parents' group, and several dads were regular participants. They quickly became used to all the "vagina talk", as we called it, and knew when to wander off to order another coffee. I'm not sure how involved the were in the running tally we kept regarding who would lose their postpartum 'virginity' first. Suffice to say, the dads have formed a strong group too over park playdates and beer nights.


I feel blessed to have this group in my life - blessed for our adult friendships and those of our kids. I remember turning up to our Tuesday morning gathering less than a week after my mum died. Looking back now, it seems a bit odd. I was probably supposed to be holed up at home wallowing. But at the time I didn't want to be anywhere else. I wanted normal. I wanted these women, coffee, babies, conversation, crying, laughter. x

Friday, June 17, 2011

this moment


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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Up and Down, Round and Round





They may only have 10 teeth between them, but as far as bathtime fun goes, the new toothbrushes are a hit. 

Someone in particular takes the job very seriously.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Flower Girl





The invitation said: "Dress - flowery". I feel confident she met the brief.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mamma Mia




She'd been wanting to go back to the museum for a while. It was a miserable wet day today so we (and half of Sydney) decided to make the trek. A happy, unexpected bonus - an ABBA exhibition. Amidst the photos and costumes and other memorabilia, there was an opportunity to go onstage and sing, karaoke style, with projected animated images of the ABBA members. Some of the performances were hilarious, whole families with much-rehearsed renditions of 'Dancing Queen'. My girl had two goes - first with me and then with Daddy. Our go was a bit of a flop, but she was prepared the second time around. She went backstage, chose 'Mamma Mia' from the small selection, then walked confidently onstage and stood silently at the microphone as the soundtrack played and the Garbageman did the rowboat and other fine moves in the background. I cried with laughter. Then we got to the chorus and she clung to the microphone like she'd been performing onstage all her life and sung out in a clear voice, "Mamma Mia, here I go again, my, my, how can I resist you." And on and on. The song ended, the crowd applauded, she bowed and came off stage. It was one of the funniest and most endearing things I've ever seen. She's a natural!

I asked afterwards how she knew to sing into the microphone so well. She said she'd seen the man do it on the computer. It took a moment to realise she's talking about this - her latest favourite. Funny kid.

And after that, I'm feeling like queen of the housewives. I cleaned weeks worth of scunge out of the shower with nothing but bicarb soda. Amazing - it works so well! Then I cooked a scrummy Moroccan chicken tajine with roasted vege couscous. And then I sat in front of the telly and made some yo-yos. Yes, yo-yos. There was a time in my life when making a yo-yo was not even on my radar. But we have a 'flower' birthday party to go to tomorrow so what are you gonna do? Lola L-L-L-L-Lola...

Friday, June 10, 2011

this moment



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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fishy




I remember reading somewhere not long ago that Geoff Huegill could swim 50m butterfly when he was three years old. If my three-year-old is ever going to become an Olympic swimming champion, she's certainly not giving me any hints. Swimming lessons have been nothing short of torture, with fleeting glimmers of hope. On a good day, she gets through the class with a concerned expression and the occasional yelp. The rest of the time she's whining, crying, even screaming as she clings to her teacher's neck and demands not to be let go of.

It's a small class - four kids and the take-no-prisoners Natalie, whose confidence that she can break through to my Lola hasn't wavered in the year and a half we've been with her. (Because despite how hard it must be, I can tell from how she is with my girl that she loves her. And it is reciprocated.)

But there's a big block. Lola loves the water but needs to be able to touch the bottom, or hang onto the side or someone's neck. She doesn't believe that she can float. We've had periods of confidence where she's loved to jump in from the edge over and over again. But the fear always returns. 

If this were ballet or clarinet or soccer, I wouldn't hesitate to remove her. There's no way I'm going to push her to do something she doesn't want to do. But for me, swimming is a non-negotiable. It's about survival. Which is why we persist despite everything.

And I've tried everything. Star charts, bribery, reverse psychology, reasoning, begging. Yesterday, something novel for a change - I took her to the pool, kissed her and said I'd be back in half an hour. The bubs and I passed the time in the cafe and, when we returned, there was my little girl standing on the edge of the pool, clapping her hands over her head - "Crocodile, crocodile, standing on the wall, one two three and in we fall" - and she dived in and dog-paddled a couple of metres to the teacher...who then turned her around, pushed her off, and my girl paddled back to the wall. She started to sink a bit at the end, but came up grinning from ear to ear. 

I'm looking forward to my soy latte next Wednesday while Lola learns to swim the length of the pool!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Caught in the Act




Just helping herself to the fruit bowl...

And yes, she climbed up there herself.

(Apologies for the crappy iPhone picture quality)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deluxe Set


Things making me smile in recent days:

:: This glorious late Mother's Day present sitting on my desk awaiting many, many uses;

:: Lovely girlfriends, great Lebanese food, sore throats from all the talking...and a slightly sore head the next day;

:: The Garbageman in an Elvis suit;

:: Snuggling with a newborn...and watching a dear friend falling in love with her baby;

:: Another dear friend's big announcement and the anticipation of a fabulous wedding.

Friday, June 3, 2011

this moment



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

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stuff She Says


What this kid has been saying lately:

:: On the costume her sisters will wear to her birthday party: "They won't wear a costume. They can come dressed as babies."

:: On the prospect of a pirate party for said birthday: "Yes, but I don't want to say, 'Arrrr, me hearties.' I just want to talk like a normal person." 

:: Often, for lots of reasons: "Isn't it wonderful?"

:: On being warned by me to be careful while jumping repeatedly from couch to floor: "I'm a superhero. I have the power."

:: Upon spilling most of her breakfast on the table and floor: "It's OK, Mummy, it doesn't have to be a problem."

Thank you, therapist.

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