Friday, May 29, 2009
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
A Curry from Scratch
2½ teaspoons chickpea flour (besan)
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
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
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
Monday, May 18, 2009
"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.
Friday, May 15, 2009
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 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
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".
Monday, May 11, 2009
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.
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!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
"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.
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.