Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.
Author Unknown

Our Christmas Tree went up last week.  I have found that trees go up in South Australian houses much earlier than I was used to on the east coast. This is due to The Christmas Pageant being held on the second Saturday of November as Father Christmas is welcomed to The Magic Cave at David Jones.  So we have been enjoying the festive season for a little while now and with my little ones in the house I have to say I really do enjoy it.  I don't mind the tree going up before December anymore.  We seem to have a much more relaxed feel for Christmas and more time to make all the lovely decorations, gifts and cards we enjoy in the lead up to Christmas.

So here is our tree from the eyes of our nearly five year old. 



and Bottom.  Ess said to me as she showed me the photos she'd taken independently while I was off busying myself with little Eee.

We have also transformed our IKEA catalogue into a beautiful stylised Christmas tree inspired by little Lilly via Mel's blog.  Thankyou Lilly for your inspiration for a fun and thrifty way to recycle and decorate.  You will find her tutorial on her Mum's blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Music and Language Skills

Follow this link to view a 3 minute video showing some segments from a Kindermusik for the Young Child class.  Also, more importantly some independent research showing how the early study of music impacts the development of language.

Early music education is definitely very important for our little ones.  Music training has a pervasive effect on the nervous system.  Music is a fundamental part of education.  If you are fortunate to be able to study this privately this is magnificent.  I hope our schools here continue to value the importance of music education.  I wish it stood alongside Maths and English in primary schools rather than being just something special you went to another room for.  For its best effect music education needs incorporation in the classroom into everything children do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pavlova Magic

"In 1929, Herbert Sachse, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, created the dessert Pavlova to celebrate the visit of Anna Pavlova to Australia. This dessert later became Australia's national dessert."

"This was made by a Chef to give to a famous Ballerina who visited Australia as he wanted something as light and dainty as her."

I'm not sure how much "light and dainty" there is about my Generous Gentleman, or whether he could be considered a "ballerina" (except perhaps when he is washing dishes for me!), but this is what I whipped up for him recently upon request.  We also had lots of freshly picked strawberries from Beerenberg Farm, Hahndorf, which needed to be used in as many ways we could think of.  We have eaten lots of fresh strawberries, lots on the top of pavlova and also lots as Strawbet, a favourite dessert of Ess's which we make with our Extraction Juicer using pure strawberries - yes strawberry sorbet with no sugar.  It is absolutely delicious and yet another "miracle" produced by my wonderful Generous Gentleman.

The Pavlova was magic!  I was very pleased.  Despite it being Australian and my husband's passion for them, they are not something I make often.  In fact this may be my first - or my second.  To be honest I simply can't remember the last time I made a pavlova. They can be temperamental.  You want them to have a crispy outer shell and nice marshmallow centre.  So to a recipe in his "Essential Dessert Cookbook" I went and proceeded to beat away as follows.

I placed 4 egg whites in a large, very clean and dry glass bowl with a pinch of salt.  I let them reach room temperature and then beat slowly till they were a frothy foam.  The speed was gradually increased until the bubbles in the foam became small and evenly sized.  1 cup sugar was added gradually and beaten until it dissolved.

Using a metal spoon 2 tsp cornflour and 1 teaspoon white vinegar were folded in to make the desired marshmallow centre.  The mixture was smoothed onto a baking tray lined with paper to 1" high.  The baking in a warm oven 160degC lasted an hour until it was pale cream and crisp on the outside.  Mmm.  

It rose while baking but sadly sank on cooling. I believe this is normal and evidence of the lovely meringue centre.  Can anyone correct me on this?

Nevertheless, the pav was devoured and deliciously enjoyed by my Generous Gentleman and little Eee. Curiously Ess was not so fond of it - we cannot work out why. Perhaps she does not like the flavour of the egg whites.  She and I don't fare too well with eggs and I could concur with her that it is not MY favourite dessert.  Still I really enjoyed the fruit and the crispy shell.

Yet we dedicated this to our Generous Gentleman in honour of his birthday - yes it is never too late to celebrate.  His was mid-winter while he was away and we never really did get to celebrate properly as the house returned to a state of new order on his return.  He loved it - over and over. I was very impressed when he offered some to our guest as well.  That's self-sacrifice for you.  The meringue will last for ages so I only prepared half at first.  I don't think he wanted it to last at all.

It looks somewhat Christmassy, perhaps I'll revisit it then.   But onto my Christmas cake next - possibly the world's best Christmas cake containing dark chocolate, apricot nectar and some sweet sherry.  Oh yes and some fruit as well :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ways to Love a Child

Give your presence more than your presents.
Laugh, dance and sing together.
Listen from a heart-space. Encourage. Understand.
Allow them to love themselves.
Say yes as often as possible.
Say no when necessary.
Honour their no's.
Touch gently.
Build lots of blanket forts.
Open up.
Fly kites together.
Lighten up. Believe in possibilities.
Read books out loud. Create a circle of quiet.
Teach feelings. Share your dreams.
Walk in the rain. Celebrate mistakes.  Admit yours.
Frame their artwork. Stay up late together.
Eliminate comparison.  Delight in silliness.
Handle with care. Protect them. Cherish their innocence. Giggle.
Speak kindly.  Go swimming. Splash.
Let them help.  Let them cry. Don't hide your tears.
Brag about them.  Answer their questions.
Let them go when it's time. Let them come back.
Show compassion.  Bend down to talk to children.
Smile even when you're tired.  Surprise with a special lunch.
Don't judge their friends.  Give them enough room to make decisions.
Love all they do.
Honour their differences.
Respect them.
Remember they have not been on earth very long.

Author Unknown.

This poem speaks for itself doesn't it.

I was very touched as it was read to me this morning at the School Transition Visit of my darling first-born daughter, Ess.  She is entering the world of schooling next year and I am very glad that the school she will be attending values children highly and wants to share ways to love them. I am looking forward to a good association with them. Hopefully a longish one.

Enjoy your precious little ones as we approach this Christmas season and remember the importance of your "presence not your presents".

Teaching Kindermusik for the Young Child again

I have decided to teach again in the new year.  It will just be one class - the one Ess will participate in.  I intend on gathering some of her friends to make a small class.  If you are around our area and would like to join in please contact me via email or with a comment here so we can be in touch.

The class will be held here on Tuesdays at 3:15-4:15pm commencing 3 February 2009.

For further information have a read about Kindermusik for the Young Child on our website.

Kindermusik for the Young Child is my favourite program of all that Kindermusik offers.  It provides little ones with the opportunity to really get involved in learning the rudiments of music in new ways.  They begin to understand symbols and hence start to read and write music of their own.  They develop their already keen aural perception of music.  They have the opportunity to take what they hear internally and reproduce with their voice, to various instruments to create melody, rhythms, accompaniment etc.  They create ensemble with their peers and enjoy what music making is truly about - self expression with a unique language understood worldwide.

My aim in teaching is to develop in children a lifelong love of music, as well as a passion for learning.  I intend to nurture bonds existing within the family by being informative for parents so that the family environment is a place, which is supported by Kindermusik, to arm wholly developed children to participate in our world in a fully interactive and integrative way.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Roo and Root

"Kangaroo is one of the healthiest meats around. The farming of our native meat has little to no impact on the environment, it's cheap to buy compared to beef and lamb and when you know what to do with it, the taste is delicious."  Judy Davie, The Food Coach

I am convinced that we would all benefit from eating more kangaroo.  It is a lean meat, it is not expensive (I paid $14 for 2 kg last week) and it tastes delicious.  So I recently converted our family favourite, Beef and Beetroot Casserole, from Beef and Beet into Roo and Root.

It is absolutely delicious, I can vouch for that.

Roo and Root Casserole or Beef and Beetroot Casserole

1kg kangaroo meat or 1kg skirt steak (braising steak)

4 tabs olive oil

2-3 onions

3 bacon rashers

2 garlic cloves

2 tabs tomato paste

1 bunch beetroot

2 cups beef stock

1 cup red wine

2 rosemary sprigs

3 fresh bay leaves

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook meat in batches.  Be very careful not to overcook kangaroo so ensure your heat is high and you get beautiful bits of brown on the edges, but still pink inside at this stage.

Heat oil, add onions, bacon and garlic. Cook for 6-8 mins.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Trim ends and stalks from beetroot, wash thoroughly.  Cut into thin wedges.   Add to onion mixture with stock, wine, rosemary and bay.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Return meat to the dish.  Cook slowly, tightly sealed, in the oven, in your pressure cooker or your lovely waterless cooking Nutrimax Pots, as I use, for 2-3 hours.

The kangaroo industry should be burgeoning as the meat provides a nutritionally valuable meal.  Hopefully negative perceptions will decline with less reruns of 'Skippy' on TV and greater hygiene measures along with higher nutritional awareness.  I know my family is very happy to have it on  their plates.  I expected it to taste much more 'gamey' than it does.  I have eaten it restaurants where you do perhaps expect your food to have a different, more gamey flavour. I had not until recently tried to cook it at home for my family.  Now I have succeeded in this and will do so again.

Here are some more facts about kangaroo for our health which have all been gleaned from The Food Coach.

Kangaroo meat is lean, low in saturated fat and provides Omega 3 fats and all the essential amino acids necessary for wound repair and cellular growth. It's also a great source of iron and zinc. 

For instance, a 150 gram piece of cooked kangaroo equates to 6.3g iron and 5.4g zinc. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron is 12g and zinc is 8g.

Kangaroo meat is one of the best sources of protein available, with the average cut yielding over 98% of total energy from protein and less than 2% of energy from fat. Compared to a lamb steak that's 33% more pure protein and the same amount less saturated fat. It also contains 25% more iron than lamb and similar amounts of zinc.

Kangaroo is the closest meat to the meat our hunter- gatherer ancestors ate. The animals are reared in their natural habitat with extensive areas to exercise on, hence the kangaroo's low saturated fat content. It also means they are free of antibiotics and hormones. They eat their native diet and exercise far more than their domesticated relatives. As a result, game meat is generally incredibly lean, almost without exception low in saturated fat, a good source of omega-3 fats, high in protein and with none of the concerns surrounding the intensive rearing of farm animals. 

I hope I have inspired you to include some kangaroo in your menu plan for next week.  You will find more delicious recipes here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cupcakes for Christmas

""Pooh", he said, "Christopher Robin is giving a party."
"Oh!" said Pooh. And then seeing that Owl expected him to say something else, he said,
"Will there be those little cake things with pink sugar icing?"
Owl felt that it was rather beneath him to talk about little cake things with pink sugar icing, so he told Pooh exactly what Christopher Robin had said, and flew off to Eeyore

Oh Poor Owl, how could cupcakes be beneath anyone?

Don't these ones look delicious!

I have been making cupcakes. Not the edible variety however, much to my Generous Gentleman's dismay.  One of Ess's Kindy teachers became interested in our projects after discovering we had both been making Felt Food.  She then very generously loaned me the pattern folder she and her friend had been using to compile a generous number of felt food items.  I have been very lucky to be able to copy them.

Now I am on a mission to make as many felt food items as I can before Christmas to give to little Eee as part of the play kitchen she'll receive at Christmas time.

I think these have all turned out very sweetly.  The pink ones are definitely my favourites. They are made from fabric which the flowergirls wore at our wedding.  I love seeing that put to good use.  

Memories continue on in the making and in the everyday playing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Award

Thankyou to Mandy from The Old Dairy for giving me this award.

I'd like to pass it on to the following 5 writers of blogs which I enjoy:

Mette from Erleperle in Denmark.

Erna at Blij als Mij in Holland.

Thankyou all for your wonderful inspiration.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Entering Macdom

You have not been hearing much from me of late as we have made many changes to the way things are running at home.

It was time for a new computer and we were becoming increasingly annoyed with regular system crashes so upon recommendation of my brother and sister-in-law we decided to buy a new Apple iMac 20" and are very happy with it.  Lots of fun, very user-friendly and the price was only a wee bit more than a new PC system.  The Choice Shopper Service is excellent. I found what I thought was a great price and they were able to better it.  I did it all from home (which is great when you have a baby - not too fun dragging them around computer stores).  We only needed to go out to collect our goods.  I am also very happy to read that the iMac is a bit "greener" than some.

We have also finally entered the world of broadband and I am very happy to recommend our local service provider Adam Internet to anyone surfing in South Australia or the Northern Territory.  When I choose a new service provider I look for a company which offers great, supportive and friendly service.  These people have been excellent and I'm afraid I have to give Telstra the big thumbs down!  Telstra tried to seduce me into expensive plans with bundling discounts - none of which were straight forward.  They also tried to tell me VoIP was simply software that you download, not so (well maybe Skype is, but I wanted more).  The Adam salesman told me all about how he also used MyNetFone (which I had previously researched would be the service we'd use) and which modem would suit my needs best. All this despite the fact that Adam also have their own VoIP service - AdamTalk.  I am very happy!

Our VoIP phone service with MyNetFone is excellent.  The calls are clear and we pay so much less.  Our plan costs us $0.00 per month with calls costing 12.5c untimed nationwide and 1.9c/min for most International calls.  If you join MyNetFone you'll be able to call us for free (no they didn't pay me to say that).  If you have broadband you'll be able to cut your phone costs and use MyNetFone's service.  The only thing you may need to do is upgrade your modem. The next thing we'll do is 'go Naked' but we are still unable to in our exchange here.  Sadly we are still having to pay for our landline to run our ADSL service.

So sorry for all the tech talk but you can see where my head has been in all this research.  All my already limited computer time has been about getting our new applications sorted out and also learning how to use our iMac. Not hard, just a bit different.  I do enjoy residing in Macdom or Mactopia as I have also seen it referred to.  Yes this is pretty good.

In Mactopia I'll stay!

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


Blog Widget by LinkWithin