Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


L, P and S have lots of cousins - 11 at last count. The newest member of the team is Oscar,  six weeks old and the second boy for my baby sister. He arrived in a flurry, far quicker than his two crazy aunties, on a madwoman's midnight dash across the mountains, could get there. We pulled up outside the Orange Base Hospital just after 2am and he was already two hours old.

Oscar came to visit on the weekend and he needed a welcome gift. I quickly finished off this sweet little cardigan started many months ago for no-one in particular, but perfect for this tiny boy to see out the last chilly days of the year. It's the chunky knit cardigan by Erika Knight knit in Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran. And I finally rolled out the brand-new sewing machine to applique these happy clouds onto a onesie for summer.

Welcome, little nephew xx

Monday, September 27, 2010


It took four months of struggling along with this sleep-challenged baby - reading everything under the sun, trying technique after technique, hoping things would improve with time and eventually resorting to every sleep aid you can imagine - before I finally asked for help. I was pointed in the direction of Tresillian. A few weeks after the referral was organised, a lovely nurse called Louise came to my house and gently tried to get to the heart of the issue. We talked about how hard it was to settle S, how some nights it would take two hours or more to get her off to sleep, how she would wake every hour or two through the night to feed, how her day sleeps lasted half an hour, if we were lucky. But worst of all, how there was no consistency to this chaos, because where one night she could moan and cry for hours before sleeping, the next she might go off without complaint and sleep for an age (always the night P decided to play up!) Louise left after a couple of hours with the recommendation to begin the babies on some food. I followed her advice but saw little improvement. Three weeks later Louise returned, saw the increasingly dark circles under my eyes and suggested we come in for a four-night residential stay. I nearly wept with gratitude. I was told to call the following day to be given the date for my pre-admission interview, at which I would be given the date for my stay. The interview was set down for a Wednesday another three weeks later. The clock ticked. The sleeping didn't improve. The circles got darker. Finally the interview, and the date I was given for admission was ANOTHER FOUR WEEKS in the distance. Deep sigh.

I was put on a stand-by list and over the coming weeks received no less than four calls offering me a place "tomorrow" or "on Friday" or, in one case, "this morning." Each time it was either impossible to arrange at such short notice or the babies had a lurgy of some sort. So I clung to my admission date and looked forward to it like it was a holiday or a spa retreat.

That date was September 26 - it came and went on Sunday. And still I am at home. Because of the persistent snot. As a 'well-baby facility', they can't admit us until the colds and coughs and conjunctivitis have passed. But not to fear...a  new date has been set...ANOTHER FOUR WEEKS away. Shitty shit shit.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Granny's Slice

My Granny gave me my red hair and my love of knitting, but as far as I can remember, she wasn't a great cook. She did, however, have a couple of things in her repertoire that we always looked forward to. One was her tomato chutney. Another was her french onion dip. And then there was her chocolate caramel slice. Unfortunately, no-one thought to get these recipes off her, and in the houseful of possessions she left behind, no lovingly hand-penned notebook full of culinary secrets was found, so the recipes went with her to the grave. I've baked a few different versions of Granny's slice, and this one by Bill Granger is as close as I've found. The base isn't as dark as Granny's, and I am sure she used copha in her chocolate layer. But as far as flavours go, it's spot-on. In her waning years, long after my sisters and I had barged in and taken charge of Christmas and all its trimmings, Granny was always asked to bring her slice. There was rarely any left on Boxing Day. So it's become a tradition to bake Granny's slice, or some variation on it, at Christmas time.

Last Friday, I found a tin of condensed milk in the back of the pantry, and when the three o'clock sweetie cravings hit, I decided to get baking. When they hit again yesterday, I thought I'd try out a new recipe. But instead I baked Granny's slice again. For tradition's sake.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The green stuff

We are drowning in a sea of snot. Probably courtesy of L's preschool again. We had the privilege of paying them $82.50 to keep her home with us on Monday. And she's nearly better, but tonight will be night three of snuffly congested babies who struggle to sleep. I'm hoping summer brings some reprieve - it feels like every second week this year we've been hit with something. At least the babies don't seem to mind too much this time. A few weeks ago they were miserable with fevers and conjunctivitis to accompany the snot. This time it's just the snot. So much snot.

Monday, September 20, 2010


One of my favourite places in Sydney is the Bourke Street Bakery. I've never actually been to the original in Surry Hills, but I used to go to the Broadway branch all the time when I worked in Haymarket, and then the Alexandria branch when I worked in Rosebery. And I used to dream of a branch opening in Marrickville...and one day a couple of years ago it did! Alas, now I'm no longer living there, so it's not my local anymore. Probably a good thing - on both the waistline and the wallet. It was very easy to pop in for a coffee and a pastry and leave 30 bucks worse off (throw in a loaf of sourdough or olive oil bread, a muffin or two, maybe a sausage roll or bacon and gruyere quiche or chorizo and thyme roll for lunch...) 

Last year they released a cookbook and, to my amazement, it includes recipes for all of my favourites. I thought they might hold a few things back, but I guess things like bread and pastry are labours of love and most people would be inclined to buy them rather than bake them. The sourdough, for instance, needs about five weeks work before you even turn the oven on - the weekly feeding schedule would rival that of a newborn baby!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the muffin recipe included in the book has become a regular treat in this house. It's full of butter and buttermilk, which may explain why they're so good. I usually make the raspberry and dark chocolate ones as described, but I've also done them with apple and rhubarb. I reckon they'd be good with just about anything. I'm not sure what the legalities are of reproducing recipes in blogs, but this one's for the Toowoomba readership (I know it will be appreciated by my long-distance baking buddy!)

Preheat oven to 190 degrees. It says to grease and line two six-hole tins but I use a regular 12-hole one (and the recipe makes enough for about 24). Sift 400g plain flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder, then add 300g caster sugar and mix. In a saucepan, melt 310g unsalted butter, then remove from heat and stir in 480ml buttermilk. Whisk in 3 eggs. Then pour this over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. 

That's it! 

Then you add your yummy extras. These ones have 225g chopped dark chocolate (choc chips work just as well) and 225g raspberries (I used frozen). Spoon into paper cases, sprinkle the top with raw sugar (this is important - they're not nearly as nice without it) and bake for about 25 minutes or until they're nice and brown and yummy.

Eat and enjoy!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Arriving in the mail this week from my favourite yarn shop, this little bundle of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece - I love how the colours go together, even though I chose them individually.

And this stack of organic cotton by Debbie Bliss - Eco Cotton in the red and teal, and the softest blue Eco Baby. With several friends expecting autumn arrivals, a spring and summer of baby vest knitting is on the cards.

I almost forgot - these two skeins arrived the week before from The Yarn Cafe (now Evoke, I think). As far as I can tell, the owner hand-dyes the yarn herself. I've been eyeing off her online shop for months, and a little sale finally convinced me to dip my toe in. There's an alpaca/silk blend in a beautiful mix of reds called 'Merlot' and, in the green, my first ever purchase of a sock yarn - Bluefaced Leicester wool in 'Brassica'. I'm not sure I've got the patience for socks, but I keep coming across great patterns that use sock yarn, so now there's some in the stash for when the time is right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conversations #1

L and I are always chatting, and I'm always saying to myself, "I must write that down," when she says something particularly funny or insightful or bizarre. So I thought I'd begin a conversations series to record some of our special exchanges.

In the car on the way home from swimming -

L (age 3): Mummy, you're like a worm.
Me: (slightly offended, yet quizzical) Really? How's that?
L: You're really straight.
Me: (even more offended, sudden memories of high school, thinking I might cry if she tells me I'm square too) Oh, is that right?
L: Yeah, you're really tall and long.
Me: (relieved) Oh, I see.

This is the kid who was playing with a little girl in the park the other day and, when I went over to check on her, she said, "Mum, this is Charlotte. Charlotte, this is Greer." And that's her in the picture up there having a picnic with her teddies and dolls. (She's worn the Santa hat to bed two nights in a row now.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The vest

I may be developing a thing for baby vests. It's partly to do with how quickly they knit up - sleeves are, without fail, a boring undertaking - and partly to do with how damn cute they look on a little torso. This pair were knitted well before P and S came along. In fact, I'm pretty sure I began the brown one before I was even pregnant. The pattern is the Pebble and the yarns are a glorious Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in 'Emporio' and a Cascade 220 Heathers in a green whose name I can't remember.

P and S have worn these all autumn and winter, and they're still going strong. But as the weather warms up, I'm turning my attention to some lighter cotton knits. I just got my hands on a couple of patterns - Eden's Adam and Milo by Georgie Hallam, as well as these little vintage numbers. And there may or may not be a little package of organic cotton heading my way, as we speak, from my favourite wool shop - Tangled Yarns in Brisbane. Now if I could only find a few spare hours in my week to knit...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This Little Girl

This little girl, who refused to follow her twin sister out the 'natural' way, arriving by emergency caesarean instead; this little girl, who has been proving her individuality ever since; this little girl, who has been sleep 'challenged' from the start, though we've often used less polite terms to describe it; this little girl, who is the happiest little creature I've ever met, except at bedtime, and can smile a 1,000-watt smile and scream a 1,000-decibel scream; this little girl, who has tested my sleep-deprived limits and brought me to tears on more nights than I can remember; this little girl...slept from 8pm till 6am last night.

Fingers crossed for tonight...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lola got blocks for Christmas last year. They're very shiny, cost a mint and are rarely brought out to play. They're little blocks, great colours and shapes, but dainty and tidy and not quite what I was looking for when I forked over the 70 bucks I paid for them one sunny day last  December.

Last Sunday I came across these chunky vintage blocks at the Rozelle markets. They're heavy and solid, the perfect size for serious tower stacking, and higgledy-piggledy enough as a set to inspire a bit of  imagination. I think they might even be hand-made - you can see the wood grain through the bold coloured paints. In fact, they're exactly what I wish I'd bought when I got those other blocks. And for $8, I'm starting to think this 'thrifting' game might be a bit of fun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


On most of our days, there's a trip to a park. Yesterday's visit to our local to meet new friends turned pear-shaped as two tenacious three-year-olds got into fisticuffs over swings and scooters and sunglasses. And while Lola says she doesn't want to be friends with Maya anymore, I've told her to hang in there because I want to be friends with Maya's mum. No pressure, kid.

Today, we ventured further afield to Sydney Park and kept it in the family - just me and my three girls. In stark contrast to yesterday, Lola played beautifully, shared immaculately, chattered and nattered and made hilarious conversation about all manner of things, and said hello to just about everyone, even stopping a bemused man pushing his daughter in a pram so she could greet them with her enthusiastic, "Hi, guys!"

After playing on the slippery dips and swings, getting grotty in the sand pit, visiting the loos three times and enjoying a strawberry milkshake (Lola), a soy latte (me) and some mooshy fruit (Stella and Pearl) in the cafe, we set off down through the parklands to find the duck pond. And while I'd remembered to pack nappies and cardigans and snacks and water and sun hats and beanies and baby food and blankets and buckets and spades and the scooter, I somehow forgot stale bread for the ducks. So Lola generously shared her rice crackers with them. And in case the enormous pond mightn't be enough for them, she poured a little of our bottled water into her empty sand bucket so they could have a drink. 

We watched a huge eel slither through the water, chatted amiably with a pair of swans, leaned out over the footbridge to check out our reflections and sang 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah' to some ducks as the babies snoozed away in the pram. And after a final slide down the slippery dips, we made our way home.

{photos taken on the iPhone}

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Father's Day

Dear hub,
Happy father's day from your three smiling sweeties. xxx

Saturday, September 4, 2010


We eat a lot of chocolate in this house - the adults, that is. While I love the fancy stuff, my all-time favourite is good old Cadbury's Dairy Milk. It's not uncommon for an entire large block to be consumed in a single evening. So when the habit seemed to be spiralling out of control recently, we agreed to a moratorium. No new chocolate was to enter the house.

It's been a relatively easy transition. I feel liberated at the supermarket as I glide down the confectionary aisle, blinkers on, ignoring the familiar purple blocks on the shelf. It was a bit of a challenge last week when there was a two for five bucks sale on, but still I resisted.

Still, one finds ways to feed the sweet tooth. A tall glass of milk with Milo after dinner helps. And the occasional stint in the kitchen. Chocolate from the baking aisle at the supermarket doesn't count, now, does it?

Friday, September 3, 2010


Went to Ikea during the week to buy a table. Came home with 10 metres of fabric. Who'dathunkit?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I saw The Kids Are All Right today. There's a scene in it where Annette Bening's character says something along the lines of, "If I hear another person talking about how much they love heirloom tomatoes, I'll kill myself." I guess you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Which brings me to the subject of my post - Lola and I planted some heirloom tomatoes on the weekend. We made nifty little seedling pots out of newspaper, filled them with seed raising mix and sprinkled probably far too many seeds into each one. We planted Amish Paste and Ox Hearts. Every year for the past several, I've planted a few tomato seedlings, and the results have been a bit disappointing. This year, with our new, very sunny backyard, I'm determined to get it right. And it seemed appropriate to start from seeds. They've been enjoying the sunshine by day and sheltering in the garage each night. 

I'm not sure how they will turn out. I was so focused on photographing Lola as she watered our new pots, I didn't notice that she was flooding them - the seeds could very well have floated away. We'll just have to wait 10-14 days to see if anything appears. Grow, little tomatoes, grow.


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