Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hints of Winter

When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters.
~B. Cybrill

Almost bare twigs against dull dark skies...

Greening of the Adelaide Hills which remain so brown and dry throughout summer...

The green and gold carpet covering once dirty brown paths...

Lichen-covered tree trunks...

Warm woollen jumpers, little legs clad in warm tights, and my little hooded popkin...

New season oranges, direct from the tree, a little earlier than last year.

Very chilly air, was Ess' contribution, as we discussed this topic as a family.  With temperatures ranging from 6°C min to 13.9°C max on this day, this is very true.

All serving to remind us that winter is just around the corner...

See you then.

Friday, May 29, 2009

On being a Toddler

for little Eee

Some days you just need to be held.

Some days you just need to rest your head against your mother's breast.

Some days you just need to be rocked gently till you fall asleep on your mother's lap while you tickle your lips with the tag of your favourite teddy.

Some days you just need your mother's undivided attention.

So while the market produce remained on the bench and in the esky,  while the half-prepared final meal of the day remained in the frig, while big sister Ess resolutely gathered everything she needed for our afternoon snack (which you refused), your Mummy gave you her undivided attention.  She sang, she hummed, she rested with you.

No more whinges, no more crying, no more angst.

Simply a warm, content little bub, nestled down in Mummy's lap, then cradled in Daddy's arms beneath his jacket, bundled off early to bed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One Scarf Finito

We used to fly past shoppers in the town centre and especially in the winter, wrapped up in our duffle coats, woolen hats and scarves we used to get so warm that there would soon be coats unbuttoned, scarves trailing behind and rosy cheeks by the time we got to school.  ~Karen Elkins, as posted on

It's not yet duffle coat and woollen hats weather but this morning proved a little chilly for us so far at 7.5degC upon my waking.  My little Ess certainly felt it as she prepared for school.  I was very glad I could present her with her new scarf to wear to warm her chilly neck.  She has declared it is a little spiky and I have assured her that the cooler it is, the less she will feel the spikiness of the wool.  However I am not too impressed that an acrylic yarn made for children, which felt soft as a ball, should knit up to feel spiky.  I just hope that Ess enjoys wearing it, that it keeps her warm, that she doesn't lose it at school today.  Yes it remained around her neck even upon arrival at school.  This must be a good sign.  It should return home if lost as I devised a simple way of naming the scarf using some beautiful ribbons as a tag.

This lovely ribbon is designed by Nic in Germany and is available at

You can just see Ess' name tag which I have ironed onto the tags on the inside.

Homestay Mama, the first picture is especially for you - the finished scarf.  Trust you enjoy!  Ess is holding a beautiful gum blossom and inspecting it, no doubt to see whether any fairies remain.  We think however that they have departed.  You see their job is over now.  They have tickled the petals of this blossom with the tiniest feather imaginable until they simply burst open into full blossom.  This blossom had even fallen to the ground - no doubt waiting to transform into a fairy drinking cup (after those petals wilt and die).

Sending you chilly greetings from Adelaide.

A Curry from Scratch

Chemicals, n:  Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.  ~Author Unknown

The desire NOT to eat chemicals is one of the main reasons I cook everything we eat from scratch.  Yet for a long time I was unable to find a recipe for a curry which didn't contain some curry paste, spice mix or blend which was not standard in my pantry.  Now, thanks to inspiration from a recipe of Karen Martini's my search is over.  Originally I cooked this as per Karen's recipe as it is simply so delicious.  However as eggplants increased in price I decided to try the vegetables I had on hand.  As the lamb I purchased contained more fat and gristle than our lovely lean kangaroo meat which I have spoken about previously, I now use kangaroo meat almost invariably.  Of course it may not be readily available in your part of the world so use your meat of choice or try no meat at all and add some chick peas, I usually add these also.

A Curry from Scratch

2½ teaspoons chickpea flour (besan)
600ml water
300ml plain yoghurt
2 heaped teaspoons (tsp) cumin seeds
2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
2 heaped tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 onions, sliced, lengthways
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 long red chillies, sliced on the angle
a thumb of fresh ginger, finely sliced
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tsp salt flakes
1kg kangaroo, beef, lamb or other meat
vegetables ie 3 potatoes, 1 sweet potato, 1 wedge of pumpkin, 3 carrots (anything you desire)
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
20 curry leaves, optional
chick peas to add bulk, optional

Tomato and Lime Chutney
4 large tomatoes, diced
juice of 2 limes
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tsp salt flakes
½ tsp celery seeds
1 large red onion finely diced
4cm piece fresh ginger, finely diced
2 tablespoons nigella seeds

1.  Put flour and water in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add yoghurt and whisk until smooth. Set aside. 
2. Heat a large pot and toss in seeds and cook for 1½ minutes or until fragrant.  Add onion, garlic, chilli and ginger with a splash of oil and cook until translucent.  Stir in spices and salt and cook for a minute or until fragrant. Add meat, then vegetables, stir for 2 minutes, reduce heat to low and cook covered, for 10 minutes. 
3. Add tomato and yoghurt mixture and bring to a simmer. Add curry leaves, then reduce heat to low and cook, half-covered, for 55 minutes or until meat is tender.  I am sure this would cook easily in a pressure cooker.  I use my Nutrimax pots for this.  They cook quickly and seal in all the good juices of the meat and veg.

To make the chutney: 
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve curry with chutney and basmati rice.

The chutney really adds to the delicious flavours of the curry with its fresh pungent flavour yet I do not always have the necessary ingredients (ie tomatoes). I have made it with tinned tomatoes which is OK.  Sometimes I simply don't have the time to prepare it and noone complains.

Another great addition would be Julie's Breadmaker Naan.  I will certainly try this with my current batch of curry sitting in the frig to feed us for the next few meals.  This curry definitely improves with age so make it a day, or a few, ahead.

One final word.  This recipe is an absolute hit with my young girls.  Ess likes to eat the meat and rice but not the veges therein, so I cook the corn and greens for her especially.  Little Eee, now a very fussy toddler eater, has not eaten tea for weeks I swear, but devotedly devoured three or four bowls full of carrot last night (thinking it was pumpkin no matter how hard I tried to tell her how yummy the carrot was).  Prior to those "bowls-full" she had downed some kangaroo meat before I had even sat down to eat myself.  Now that is impressive.

Now over to you, let me know of your successes, or otherwise. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Washing Woes

What do nudists wear on casual Fridays?  ~A.J. Esther

We might know by the end of this week!

Washing machines are a wonderful thing aren't they.  When you can put the clothes in, walk away, carry out other pressing tasks and walk back to it to hang the washing to dry.  A great time saver! 

I have huge lamentations about mine at the moment.  It is certainly giving me grief.  Rather than freeing my time, it is taking it in its entirety.  (Sigh)  Each load requires checking once started to ensure the old Simpson is actually agitating.  When I return from my school walk to hang the clothes I am finding a load only half spun out, if that.  Yesterday it took until lunch time to actually spin my second load and by then so much drying time had simply evaporated.   Oh the woes of a house managing mother!

More time is consumed researching the apparent minefield of new washers, contemplating whether to give away top loaders and move to a front loader, deciding whether it is worth spending an extra grand on a good machine or sticking to about one grand for a middle of the range brand.  Choice reports are usually great for me and I buy what they recommend but currently there are so many conflicting reviews.  What Choice recommends others have found to be totally unreliable.  Finally, I decided on a Bosch (a highly reliable brand) only to read Choice's test scored it at only 59% for dirt removal.  Now excuse me, but isn't dirt removal exactly what I want my machine to do??  Oh yes, but I do want it to be gentle on my clothing, to be efficient in water and energy use, to rinse effectively, to not cost a fortune.  On and on it goes.

At this exasperated moment I feel my time and money might be better spent simply purchasing one of the above delightful vintage machines.  They sell at auction for about $50 it seems.  I do love living simply.  I love cooking everything we eat, I love drying my clothes in the sunshine, walking rather than driving, growing veges where I can, making toys and playthings for my daughters.  But could I really be happy day after day facing the prospect of washing my family's clothing in such a laborious and time consuming way?  I love the freedom a washing machine usually gives me, the ability to multitask, to have time and the ability to research on the internet and also blog to share.  I'd much rather be sitting here typing and reflecting than trying to wring my clothes piece by piece only to discover there was no remaining drying time as the cooler, shorter days contain less and less sunshine and less and less time to dry my clothes.   Yes a washing machine must be part of my modern simple life.

I am grateful for modern technology.  Lots of good has been brought to my household, lots of other still remains outside our doors.  I know that once I finally complete my research I will have a machine which frees my time and cleans my clothes satisfactorily.  We are spoilt for choice, aren't we, so much choice the freedom to choose becomes a chore.  I do love the research though.  I like to do it thoroughly. I won't risk grabbing a lemon quickly from the shelf.

Any comments welcome from those who are also in the washing machine market.  Please tell me you have just bought a machine which you absolutely love!  And of course - all the details.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sharing My Musical Heritage - Part Two

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.  ~Gustav Mahler

Once again my lovely brother, David has posted some music and written about the musical heritage we share.  So I thought I should let you, my devoted readers, know again in order for you to feast your ears.  [Oh, I should tell you, David thought that you might prefer to listen to his own song Unchangeable Truth rather than his Awesomesauce after my last musical post.  I think I agree!]

The first piece in David's new post, Past Life Melodies, is very evocative of the Australian Outback and uses wonderful vocal techniques to carry you there.  Sarah Hopkins is renowned for delving into the world of harmonics in her compositions.  I think I agree with David about the title of the work however.

Go, have a listen!  Take some time and space with you, let the music surround you, immerse yourself, be renewed, energised, feel the music, the goosebumps.  Feast yourself on the lovely harmonic singing at the end of the piece - created purely with voice.  Enjoy the music!

The next track is Great Southern Spirits which takes you right to the heart of our nation, to Uluru.  Once again you will hear some wonderful harmonic singing.

Meanwhile I am off to my nappy change:

After my nap and before I can play
A nappy change is always well on its way.
It's the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm of my day.

No, not mine, my darling little Eee's.

A happy musical sunshiny weekend to you all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Native Autumn Blossom

Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.  ~Lydia M. Child

One could be forgiven for thinking there are no flowers blossoming in Autumn along our pathway whether walked upon or driven along.  Where leaves remain on the evergreen, it all does look so very green.  While some may spot the yellow wattle it certainly does not spring out from its hiding place to greet us with bright blossoming smiles.

Until you look closely...

Hidden away, amongst the lovely green leaves, is such beauty.  Some rarely seen, even in Australia where these flowers are native.

The pincushion flower, the Hakea Laurina, holds a special place in my heart.  My mother planted a hakea tree right outside my window and it grew in place for many years.  I think I cried when she cut it down, at least inside if not seen.  You see as a child it had taken a place in my heart I never thought could become void.  I assumed the blossom would always remain.  We do that as children, don't we.  We love something without realising there is a chance it might ever be lost, thus not celebrating its presence, its rarity, its beauty.  We take it for granted with wonderfully innocent, gay abandonment.

Now the Hakea has resumed a special place in my life, in this location.  I delight in sharing it with my girls.  I wonder what the fairies might be creating today with this lovely collection of very soft pins?

As a child my mother told me of the fairies who drank from gumnut fairy cups at toadstool tables at the bottom of my garden.  Yet they were not these delightful pink gum blossoms so prolific here in South Australia.  Gum blossoms of my childhood were cream and white.  (A little like this one.) I still marvel at this bright pink colour and wonder if my girls feel the same sense of wonder as we collect them as gifts for friends, for new fairy hats before they become fairy cups after the petals wilt, for looking for tiny fairies within, for counting the ants which crawl out, for tickling.

Now here, the grevillea, such beauty hidden amongst the bushy leaves. Yet its location is known exactly by the bees and the honeyeaters who gather and nourish themselves.  Some might consider the bush quite scraggly (I think that is perhaps why there were none in the garden of my childhood) yet its simple beauty is stunning.  It's hard to look closely as the bees are prolific yet its delicate shapely form of lines and of curves, so graceful, so feminine, so pretty.

There are certainly more...perhaps for another day.

Oh that I might always see Your beauty.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sleepy Magic Mushrooms

Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.  ~H.F. Hedge

"Is she asleep yet?" one little mushroom whispered to another as they lay nestled in between the covers and the soft pillows on Ess' bed.  "I don't think so," replied the other, "let's rest and wait a minute longer."

The magic mushrooms were waiting for the house to be quiet and still.  They had a story to share, as they always do at bedtime.  However if you listen too hard and try to hear them speaking you might miss the story.  They always share their stories after you have fallen asleep.

"Aaahh, I hear the gentle soft sound of her snoring.  She has finally drifted off.  What story will we tell her?"  The mushrooms conferred and decided to tell The Story of Love.  Ess was quite certain this was the story she'd hear as she drifted into dreams holding her new little lavender scented mushroom last night.  This morning, first thing, she declared this was so.  Perhaps tonight will be a fairytale or ...

I made four, yet didn't realise the connection with our family until Ess had pointed it out and delivered a mushroom to each of us for each of our sweet, sleepy dreams last night.  I must say, they worked - we all slept well last night and indeed the children slept in!

I cannot take full credit for this idea however.  I was inspired upon seeing the Night-Night Mushrooms by RosiePose at the gorgeous little shop, little bird, in Port Elliot which vehemently called me in while on holidays recently.  The shop has matured a lot since these pictures were taken and is definitely worth visiting and indulging.

Sharing Music and my Heritage

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  
~Leopold Stokowski

Whether it be that music does not have a photogenic canvas or that I have not yet explored how to upload mp3s to my blog, the result is that I don't tend to share something which is a very important part of my day to day routine here.  That is, singing!  After all, I am a Kindermusik educator!

Singing with a toddler and a young child in the house means there is a beautiful way of dispersing negative attitudes and behaviours and instantaneously converting them into something fun, entertaining and lightening.  Did you know singing releases endorphins? I spend much of my days singing "toys away, toys away" and Incy Wincy Spider, Little Miss Muffet and Baa Baa Black Sheep.  Yet I also sing my own songs to just about everything I am doing - saying (or rather singing) Good Morning to my blossoms and changing a little nappy, cooking meals and hanging out the washing.  I just love this appropriate rhyme:

We are clothes in the washing machine
we wiggle and we giggle until we are clean
then Mama shakes us out to dry
And hangs us on the clothes line high.

and this one:

I'm a little teapot short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my spout,
When I get all steamed up hear me shout,
tip me over and pour me out.

followed by:

Here's a cup, and here's a cup
and here's a pot of tea
Now pour a cup, and pour a cup
and have a drink with me.

Of course bikkies, cakes and muffins follows this.  Do you know the Muffin Man?

It makes the routines so much more fun and also helps a whingey little toddler when Mum is busier than she'd like.

I come from a musical heritage.  I don't remember not being able to read music, I sang with my brothers and sisters from a very young age and regularly directed performances in the home when we were very young.  We were all in the same choirs in our youth and from here is where I want to share something special with you.

My brother recently posted about his (and my) heritage as "a choir boy" :) and has uploaded a couple of songs from albums we created.  So pop on over and have a listen.  It's a treat, the albums have won awards - ARIA awards for classical recordings.  My favourite of his pair is definitely Autumn Song, by Peter Sculthorpe, a contemporary Australian choral work.   Enjoy it before this delicious season is over.  While you're on his site search a little and you're likely to find a few gems my brother has created himself - like Awesomesauce.  Hmm, I think that all the time I am devoting to my children he is songwriting - just a wee bit jealous am I.  Still I would have it no other way.  My children are my gems.  Now back to creating things for them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dainty Delicious Delivery

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton

A small box arrived in the mail.

A little fairy had travelled to school, from me to Ess, to give her an inkling of something special in the air.  Our walk home was filled with anticipation, alongside whinges of aching legs ;).

Once home from school, the box was very promptly reduced to this - lots of spots on pretty pink paper and a pretty fragrant sachet.

With little Eee waiting patiently, Ess hurried to open the box, still keen to know its contents.

At last she saw the words 'Fröken Skicklig' on the dotty rose placemat and exclaimed "Froken Sickling:)".  At once, she knew, these were our gifts from our friend Juliane.

She moved away the pretty pink dotty placement to discover eight delicious petit fours and three stunning strawberries.

They were immediately placed in a "bundle" (as Ess called it) for us to see and to taste, to hold and to smell.  They smell so delicious; of anise, cinnamon, lavender and chocolate.  I could sit and smell one all night long.  Indeed I am certain the smell has lingered on me, or perhaps in my memory, from the play little Eee and I enjoyed with our delicious Petit Fours and the Princess and her Pea this very morning.

It was our pretty little chalk drawings which made our neighbours smile and the planting of a native bush in our neighbourhood which rewarded us with this gift, after participating in Fröken Skicklig's Garden Guerilla Challenge.  Juliane will have another challenge each month so be sure to take a peak at her blog.

Also included in this delightful package were a lavender sachet for each of my princesses, some sweet motifs and a Little Red Riding Hood handwritten card and note from Juliane.

Thankyou Juliane, you are so very thoughtful and we are so very grateful.

Enjoy your weekend.  We will be having royal tea parties here for our friends and family.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

On My Needles

I like making a piece of string into something I can wear.  ~Author Unknown

On my needles at the moment I have a scarf being prepared for my daughter, Ess, to wear to school.  It is getting rather chilly in the morning and as she has been a little unwell with a barking cough over the weekend, I am very conscious of keeping warm.  I wish it was finished. Still, I knit to help me unwind at the end of the day so I will not let thoughts of completion remove the joy of the process of relaxation for me.  A little ironic, is it not, that winding a piece of string around some needles will serve to unwind me. :)

I am knitting in royal blue to complement her school uniform.  She chose the wool trying so hard to keep her hands away from pink.  It is Panda's colourful new range of Toto Kids yarn.  They have a lovely pattern book with many interesting projects yet, true to form, I am trying my own thing.

I am exploring texture by knitting a band of waffle stitch (k1, p1, k1 etc...) followed by a band of stocking stitch (knit 1 row, purl 1 row etc.).  The waffle stitch sits nicely and retains its flat shape but is much less soft than the stocking stitch (which rolls in at the sides).  We'll see how it goes.  I hope it is soft enough for Ess.

Meanwhile...back to my needles. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swap Thanks

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say "thank you?"  ~William A. Ward

Today I am the very lucky recipient of a package to my front door.  I am expecting a couple of packages, both from across the seas, this one for me and another which will delight my two little princesses.  So little Eee and I are keenly waiting to hear the knock of the postman on our door as they are delivered.  We were not disappointed.  This package arrived today during lunch and, so as not to dirty the goods with grubby mitts, we downed our lunch in super record time while patting the outside of the package eagerly awaiting the time to clean up and open up.

Inside we were delighted and surprised to find these two sweet little knitted bunnies along with the contents I expected - a kitchen towel and a potholder.  All were beautifully knitted and crocheted (I think that's how she made the potholder) by my down to earth swap partner, Susan.  I love the warm golden yellow she has used... combined with our favourite - pink.  It is all beautiful.  Let me take a second to say a heartfelt "thankyou Susan".

Here is a little peak at what I made for Susan as well.

Enjoy the moments or hours you spend in your kitchen today cleaning and feeding, nurturing and chatting as well as singing, dancing and playing.  If you have a moment, take a little time to read what Rhonda of down-to-earth has written here and here about how these tasks nurture and make us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Treats

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love.  ~Mildred B. Vermont

Mother's Day truly delighted me this year.  

An early bunch of native flowers from the markets came home with us on Thursday.  A present from little Eee and my Generous Gentleman.  How I adore our native blossoms.  Just look at that beautiful protea.  It feels as soft and fluffy as it looks too.

This is the first year that my darling Ess really took it upon herself to make mother's day special.  She continued asking what we do on Mother's Day and what I wanted to do.  She had also hidden some school-prepared gifts in her room for days.  I was required to go on a gift hunt - luckily after I had consumed my self-prepared breakfast (me and grumbly tummies are a not a good combination).

After much discussion we finally decided to head out for a drive through the Barossa Valley as I have long wanted to do that during Autumn.  I am grateful my husband is here this year to drive me around - it was quite lonely last year:(  It was beautiful there with the dry brown hills starting to turn green and the grape vines bearing golden leaves, some almost a deep red - beautiful.

Not the greatest pic, but the only one to put an image to my words.

As we were preparing to leave, I raced from sorting out the car's contents to respond to my daughter's loud outburst of consternation.  

"Oh Mummy... it's a field of mushrooms!"  (I was right by her side by the time she expressed the word "mushrooms", so loud was her initial cry.)

She had seen a sight so beautiful and exquisite, so befitting of the tales we share.  You see the fairies have been visiting again.  This time they have built their houses, plain to see, right outside our backdoor.

Houses of white with a tinge of brown.  A delight to tiny eyes!

Of course we had to tip one over to see if there were fairies living inside.  Such excitement ensued as, you see, the yellow surrounding the eaves of the "mushroom house" are indication that a fairy has been resident there.

It seems the fairies did some baking as well as the day concluded with some beautiful fairy cakes which were transformed into pretty butterfly cakes.  Delightful!

Oh what a joy to bake with my girls and hear the silence of indulgent consumption.

But the greatest joy, the one that really touched my heart was hearing over and over..."I love you so so much Mummy!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Princesses and their Pea

"Good morning my dear, how are you today?"
"Oh I am black and blue all over, I hardly slept a wink.  
There was something very hard in my bed.  Whatever could it have been?"
~ Cee and Ess in play

Hmm...I wonder! :)

I made this sweet little Princess and the Pea set about a month ago after being inspired by Juliane's Giveaway set.  The tiny little pillows and mattresses suited Princess Kate (our Kate Finn doll treasure) beautifully.  The set needed something more however as it was not being played with as much as I would have liked (sigh).  I think this was due to the fact that there are so many components to it - all the mattresses, the pillows, the doona and the princess.  They were all rarely moved from the dolly's bed where the set stayed with all the other dollies.  So when I saw a couple more sets with lovely tote bags I knew just how to rectify this.

Just to make play and tidyup even more fun, I've added a special mini pouch hiding inside, and attached to, the tote bag to store that little pea which is so easily lost amidst all those mattresses and then falling to the floor to assume a mysterious abode noone is likely ever to know.

There are just so many ways to play with this little set.  This morning I delighted seeing little Eee make numerous beds all over the floor with all the pillows and mattresses and then move around the room lying on each in turn...yes making them each her very own bed.  Sometimes all that would be lying was her head so she assumed that adorable toddler "head down, bottom up" position.  I don't think she has quite cottoned onto the concept of the pea yet.  No doubt that will come soon.  Especially after we add this adorable book to our collection.

The Princess and the Pea
Our little princess Kate has woken up to search for her pea, then ventured outside to climb on the rocks, she has watched Charlotte's Webb (the original, animated, musical version) and had a tea party or two, she has rested again on her numerous mattresses (without the pea this time!) and then swapped roles.  Now I am the princess and Ess is the Queen.

Such fun!  These are the days... the best days of my life.

My next challenge must surely be to create our very own princess.

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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