Monday, April 30, 2012

Sour and Sweet

Sick babes, babes with fevers, babes coughing and vomiting, babes waking relentlessly through the night, but worst of all, all of this looking like getting in the way of a very special celebration.

The fog lifting, temperatures restored to normal, and a five-star hotel room booked at the very last minute.

A little girl crying as we dropped her and her sisters at the grandparents' house - "I don't want you to go."

Five seconds later, skipping down the street, sans children, to catch a train into the city.
Checking into our lovely hotel room. 
Knitting. In bed. Whilst watching 'Downton Abbey' on DVD. In the afternoon!!!
Dinner at an amazing Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown.
Realising, with a brief swoon of romance, the synchronicity - we'd honeymooned in Malaysia. Awwww.

Waking at 6:30am all of our own accord, without any assistance from small people.

Breakfast buffet.


The reunion.

The reunion.

"I missed you, Mama. Did you have a nice university?"

Weren't we cute back then? Look how young we are, and how well-rested. Happy 'university', my love xx

Friday, April 27, 2012

this moment

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bedside Knitting

If there's one thing I know about hospitals, there's usually some good knitting time to be had. This was true of our little sojourn last week. Luckily I'd shoved some yarn and needles into my bag when we left the house to see the GP. Several hours later, cosied up in a hospital room, Pearly sleeping restlessly on the bed beside me, I managed to cast on. It's a scarf, one of two requested last year for a pair of little friends to wear to school on winter mornings. I didn't get them finished then. I didn't even get them started. But here is one almost complete, ready for its matching hat. It's  a diagonal rib pattern, easy-peasy, and pretty to look at. Reversible too. I've added a little keyhole to keep it snugly tied at the neck.

I'm slowly devouring this beautiful new book that I was lucky enough to win in a giveaway over at Vanessa's blog. Vanessa is a real proper foodie, and I can't believe she was willing to part with it. I thought it would be just a recipe book, but each chapter has a fantastic bio about the particular cook - people like Nigel Slater, David Thompson, Neil Perry and Maggie Beer. I love this stuff. I love reading about food, why people love it, how they came to make it their life. It inspires me. Lots more hours of indulgent food-reading time for me!

And finally, a finished project. These Fetching mitts are a birthday gift for a friend. I love the colour, and the cables. Best post them off before I change my mind and keep them for myself.

Ravelry notes here.

Joining in the Yarn Along at Ginny's blog.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hospital Kitchen

Pearl's appetite left her ever so fleetingly last week. She wasn't interested in much at all, but she devoured the jelly that arrived on her hospital tray. I wasn't surprised - it's the food I most closely associate with being sick. When I was a kid, it was Aeroplane Jelly in the little box. Just add boiling water and wait. Here's my apple and raspberry version.

In a saucepan, bring a cup of apple juice and a big handful of frozen raspberries to the boil. 

Remove from the heat and smoosh up the berries with a whisk. Then whisk in 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatine. Once that has dissolved, add another cup of cold apple juice and stir. You can increase your quantities - as long as you have a teaspoon of gelatine for every cup of juice. Add more gelatine if you like your jelly firm, but this gives the perfect amount of wobble, in my opinion.

Strain to remove the seeds.

Pour into your chosen receptacle/s. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.

Consume on the kitchen floor within arm's reach of Mum (being careful to avoid noticing the streaky mess of the oven door).

Mmm, tastes like 1981.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pearl Time

I had all sorts of lofty ideals when I was pregnant with my pair about how our family would handle the twin thing. I read lots of books and agreed with them all about how important it would be to foster my babies' individuality. We succeeded at many things. On only a handful of occasions have the girls been dressed in matching clothes, and then usually at bedtime. And I almost never refer to them as "the twins". They've always been "the babies", "the girls" or just Pearl and Stella. Or Stearl and Pella, if I'm having a bad day.

But the one in which we scored a big fat fail was the idea to spend lots of one-on-one time with each of them. I remember the fervour with which I discussed this plan with the GM. It will be really important, I said, that we each get a chance each week to get out of the house with each baby, on their own. To foster and develop our relationships with each of them as unique and beautiful individuals rather than part of a unit, like. 


This on top of my determination that Lola's life be disrupted as little as possible by quite possibly the biggest thing that can disrupt a two-year-old's life - not one but two interlopers. That we get lots of one-on-one time with her away from the babies. And of course, the GM and I would need to have lots of one-on-one time with each other to nurture our relationship as friends and lovers as distinct from parents. Uh-huh. Oh, not to mention lots and lots and lots of special solo time, each of us, on our own, so that we could return to our parenting role with renewed patience and vigour.

Someone send me some of those 37-hour days, please. Maybe nine a week. Uh-huh.

Not counting the hundreds of hours of 'special time' we've spent with Stella in the midnight hours, or the dozens of hours (a day, it seems) I spend with Pearl hovering just to the right of my elbow, one-on-one time with these babies of mine has been a hard thing to come by. And I admit, I've always put the chance for a solo coffee or a solo movie or even a solo supermarket trip ahead of precious ambles in the park with just one of my children, if a spare hour or three has ever arisen.

Until last week when, thanks to the meningococcal scare, I was gifted two awful but very lovely nights alone with my Pearl. Yes, the cannula in her arm was a nightmare, painful for her and a pain in the arse for me every time she moved and set the alarm a-bleeping. Yes, the hourly visits from the nurses to check her temperature were traumatic, not from anything they did but because Pearl thought the worst and would scream and cry until they left the room. And, yes, seeing my little girl lying there covered in red welts, feeling sore and sad and sorry, was heart-breaking.

But it was two nights (Daddy got the daytime) of her and me, cuddling and snuggling, watching 'Playschool', reading 'Nurse Nancy', singing songs, sharing toast, and holding hands across the bed rail. Uninterrupted by the day-to-day. Time standing still.

And I've come out of it with boundless new love and patience for this brave and funny little girl.

Of course, I'm OK if we don't have to go to such extreme measures to find special time together in the future. But however it was delivered, helped immeasurably by the happy outcome, I'm grateful for it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Doctors and Nurses

Sorry for my absence. We've been playing doctors and nurses for real this week after a violent skin rash followed by high fevers saw my Pearl in hospital being treated for meningococcal disease. Thank goodness the blood tests were negative. And while the cause of it all is still a bit of a mystery, tonight we are grateful to be home in our own beds and all together again. My little girl is a bit mopey, and still very blotchy, but she is going to be fine.

Now, if we could just stick to the make-believe version of doctors and nurses, if you wouldn't mind.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oh, Jamie

Have I ever talked about Jamie Oliver's slow-roasted lamb shoulder here before? It would surprise me if I haven't because I talk about it a lot in real life, and have cooked it about a thousand times. I'm reminded of it now because yesterday we spent the day with my in-laws to celebrate Greek Easter, which usually involves lamb of some kind, often a whole one on a spit. And a couple of Greek Easters past, when the whole family has been at our place, I've rolled out my Jamie Oliver special (naturally to standing ovations and heartfelt cheering from the crowd.)

It's the perfect easy meal for a large group (or small) and once it's in the oven, you can head out for a few hours and forget about it, as we did a couple of weeks ago when some lovely people were due for lunch. Just make sure the oven's working properly so that you don't come home 20 minutes before the guests arrive to discover the lamb still raw, as I did one Easter.

Here's how easy it is: All you need is a lamb shoulder, or three. I find one feeds about four people. Jamie's recipe says to use a 2kg shoulder, but I've yet to find a butcher here who doesn't smirk at that request - they're usually a little over a kilo. They must breed their lambs large in the UK. I like to leave the shank on, but it's up to you. You also need a big bunch or rosemary and a head of garlic, broken into cloves but unpeeled.

Whack the oven up to its highest setting. Slash the skin of the lamb, and massage in some olive oil and salt and pepper.  Lay half the garlic and half the rosemary in a baking dish and put the lamb on top. Put the rest of the garlic and rosemary on top of the lamb, then cover the whole thing with foil so it's sealed tightly. Put it into the hot, hot oven, then turn the temperature right down. Jamie says 170 Celsius. I often do it even lower. And leave it for four hours.

See? Easy. When it's ready it will be falling off the bone and you can pull the meat apart with a pair of tongs. No knives necessary. Serve it with whatever takes your fancy - I like roasted veg and some nice green beans. You can make a gravy with all that garlicky goodness left in the pan, but it hardly needs it. Put everything on a big serving platter, dump it in the middle of the table, let everyone serve themselves...and stand back awaiting the applause.

I've always said Jamie's one of the good guys. This recipe is proof.

Now, don't get me started on his fish pie. Oh, Jamie...

(The recipe is in this book.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Lovelies

Some loveliness from the week:
1) Surprises bursting through the lawn.
2) No-knead bread. So good. So easy.
3) Feeling a little less anxious about the fast-approaching winter.
4) More floral discoveries in the garden.

And that was all the loveliness I could capture before I dropped my camera and broke my loveliest lens. Very unlovely indeed.

Hoping for many more flowers and some easy (and cheap) repairs this week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

this moment

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Flowery Yellow

Bringing some sunshine into our days (not that there isn't plenty shining outside lately), a new-old bread bin, and a floppy little smock top made from an old pillow case.

I'm never entirely sure, when I dress the littles in this stuff, if they look cute or just like I've draped Granny's linen closet all over them. Stella styled it up with a necklace made by big sis, and not one but two handbags. She likes to accessorise.

Yep, definitely cute.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Small Things

Sometimes knitting just goes on and on. No matter how many stitches you knit, how many rows you complete, still it continues. Indeed, sometimes it never ends.

But occasionally there are teeny things, quick and easy things, satisfying smallish knits that reveal the finish line within the first few centimetres. Just what the doctor ordered during these madcap days of late.

I'm working on some Fetching mitts in brightest orange, remembering how much I love cables and wondering why I shy away from socks when a mitt is just a sock for a hand, let's face it. These are for a gift, and with another half hour's work this evening, I should have a pair ready to wrap.

I'm still going on my cowl, remembering how much I don't love moss stitch. Well, I love it to look at, just don't love to do it. Ah, well. Round and round we go, two balls of wool in and only one to go.

And perhaps it's a bit late now, but here's the trio of bunnies made ready just in time for Easter morning. I used leftover yarn from this vest and that cardigan, and this is the pattern. The facial expressions are all their own.

Settling in to read Anni Daulter's new book, Naturally Fun Parties for Kids, which arrived in the post today all shiny and new. I'll be reviewing it here in a couple of weeks, which is quite exciting, don't you think?

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Long Weekending

I do believe we achieved everything we set out to (if you ignore the vegetable garden putting-together bit). What a weekend! Glorious autumny-ness all around with blue sunny days, but enough chill to require the fire late yesterday. We ate and ate and ate with old friends and new. There was a visit from the Easter bunny, and new jammies for little people. I spent plenty of time in the kitchen - lots of this bread and another attempt at that unbelievable tart. Knitting was achieved, oh, yes, it was. And we rounded it all off with a visit to the 'seaside' with some dear old pals today.

Any chance we can have a long weekend every weekend?

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This will be the first weekend in about 170 years (it feels) that I don't have to work. Four glorious days!  I plan to:

~ enjoy lunch with friends on Friday
~ enjoy lunch with more friends on Saturday
~ have fun visiting new local friends on Sunday
~ turn the compost
~ put together the raised vegetable gardens that have been sitting there for weeks
~ finish sewing three pairs of Easter pyjamas (before Sunday)
~ sew eyes and noses and tails onto three little bunnies (before Sunday)
~ knitknitknitknitknit
~ read a couple of new magazines and maybe finish my book
~ cook and cook and bake and bake
~ eat some chocolate
~ soak up the glorious autumny-ness all around me at the moment
~ enjoy my lovely family
~ unplug from this wonderful, and time-stealing, online world.

See you in a few days.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Giggle, Giggle, Whack!

Yesterday, I lay curled in blissful darkness beneath a blanket. I could hear someone counting in the background. They got to 10 and, within seconds, the blanket was pulled off me and there were one, two, three giggling girls on top of me. 

"Found you, Mummy!"

It was one of those moments you want to pause, grab hold of, file away, then press play again and have it go on and on and on forever. Infectious giggling, all of us, for what seemed like minutes. The pure delight in their eyes. The love. The joy.

Then Pearl whacked me across the side of my head.

And that is what my days are like lately.

Pure bliss...and then a firm and fast plummet back to reality, whinery, whingery, moanery, screamery, "She pinched me"-ery, all-day-ev...ery.

But once again, it is Wednesday, Yarn Along day, and there is not only a finished project to show, but one I'm very proud of because I made it up as I went along...and it worked! Kind of. It will need some tinkering, so it's a good thing I have another two-year-old to experiment on.

The pattern is a basic circular-yoke, short-sleeved top with a pair of buttons at the back, though it would probably look just as cute worn with the buttons at the front. The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic 8ply in 'Elm' and the buttons came from here.

There has been lots of other knitting going on too - a trio of Easter Bunnies for the giggling gerties, and a winter cowl for me. I'll show those off next week when they're (hopefully) finished.

Ravelry notes here.

Knitwear modelled by Miss Pearl, she who confuses affection with violence.

Still reading, and loving, 'Accidental Tourist'.

Ginny's excellent Yarn Along here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Down Our Country Lane

Some photos taken on recent wanders around the neighbourhood. 
I still can't believe this is where we live now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The One in Which There is (Unintentional) Cruelty to Living Creatures

We have the same conversation often since moving to the country.
"Mum, can we live on a farm soon?"
"I hope so, Lols."
"What animals will we have?" she asks.
"What animals would you like?" I say.
"Can we have a horse?"
"Um...what about some chickens instead? And maybe an alpaca."
"Pigs too?"
"We'll see."
"Can I get a guinea pig?"

We think we'd like to give it a try, owning a little bit of land, growing our own food, both the vegetable and animal variety. Trouble is, our animal track record isn't so great.

First there's the wildlife we've encountered since going rural. The snake nearly had me packing up the boxes and returning to the city. Thankfully, we've never actually seen it, and I'm beginning to think my mantra of "legless and harmless" might have worked.

The possums have been a challenge, noise- and poo-wise, but we're learning to live with them. The mice are another story. I had been hearing them in the walls for a few weeks, and then started to find tiny little parcels of evidence that they were in the house. In the bathroom. Behind the fridge. Then on the kitchen bench! One night, a little browny-grey streak dashed across the carpet in front of me. Aha! You dare to show your face! (He was quite cute, actually). But then, the last straw, tiny poos in the girls' bedrooms. Time to bring out the big guns.

Our previous experience with rodents was in our Sydney home when, after weeks of finding evidence of a night-time visitor, I came across what turned out to be native rat poo under Lola's cot. (That's the common poo of a native rat, not the native poo of a common rat, for those who care.)

The GM and I did what typically wimpy city folk do - we called the pest control. 200 bucks later, we had baits in our roof that, according to Mr Pest, our native friend would eat, which would bring on a terrible thirst, causing him to leave our house in search of water...thus sparing us the horror of a rotting carcass on the premises. I did see ratty, actually, just before the end. I was watching TV one night when he meandered out from the kitchen and stood looking at me. I, naturally, screeched and leaped onto the couch. And he just gazed at me drunkenly (is it my imagination that his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth?) before staggering off and disappearing beneath the space under the dishwasher. Never to be seen or heard of again. Bait had done its job.

Rats are one thing. Mice, I thought, I can handle. I bought a couple of traps from the supermarket, applied peanut butter as instructed, and placed them in out-of-the-way places in the kitchen. The next morning...victory! One trap was full of browny-grey fluff and the other was...gone. What?!

I searched frantically, only to find it a few metres from where I'd set it, in the laundry, mouse enclosed...and ever-so-slightly STILL MOVING!

My first thought was, "Poor thing, how long have you been dying for." And my second thought was, "Shit, now I've got to end your misery." I'll skim over the bit where I leapt about going, "Eugh! Ew! Bleurgh! Orgh..." Instead, we'll skip straight to where I stoically laid newspaper in the sink, picked up the trap with the very tips of my fingers, my head turned away at an awkward angle and only one eye only just a bit open, and squeezed the clasps of the trap to release mousey's tiny body into the newspaper. I then covered him with more newspaper and looked around for something that would end both his and my own trauma, all the while telling myself, "You reckon you could dispose of chickens for the family table, so dispose of this, lady!"

Gum boot, firm whack, story over...thank God. I felt sad, shaken and triumphant, all at the same time. Sorry, mouse. The box said the traps were foolproof and humane.

Of course, having caught two in a single night, we were sure we had an infestation on our hands. Luckily, a few more nights of setting traps have revealed nothing. Perhaps the little guy was alive long enough to squeak, "Run! Run for your lives! This peanut butter ain't all it's cracked up to be."

I was going to include our fish, Balloony, in this story. He's been unwell for a while and I've already sat Lola down once to tell her the sad news, only to find him nonchalantly swimming about his tank. I think as of today it may be over, though.

Does anyone think it might be a good thing that one of the conditions of our lease is "No pets"?

Tomorrow I'll talk about rainbows, butterflies and fairies, promise.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Lovelies

Some lovely stuff from days past:
1) Red shoes big and small
2) A little girl at a big wedding
3) Sunrise over Melbourne. Ahh, lovely Melbourne
4) Fun at home with the biggest cousin
5) Last light of the last evening of daylight savings.

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. 
Wishing you a lovely week x


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