These are a few of my favourite things....
I've just discovered FLICKR toys. Aren't they fun. The puzzles look particularly good.
Yesterday we headed for the hills (Woodend) for the weekly Granny Roast.
Nearly every Sunday we have lunch or dinner at either my Mum's house, my Mother-in-laws house or our house. Sometimes it is all of us, sometimes less. This weekend we altered the day to Saturday and the kids, Ben and I headed out to my Mum's. Because it is a 45 minute drive away, and because it is just sooo cold there, I think this journey is destined to always be one of those leisurely lunch time affairs.
After a good hearty lunch we all took off outside for a bit of a walk out in the garden. I'm glad we rugged up, but strolling through the soggy grounds was probably better done in gumboots rather than my new shiny red shoes.
Unlike our dry garden here, everything there is damp. Under all the trees, amongst the leaf litter, you can find moss, lichen and a healthy dose of funghi. The kids had a great time taking nature shots of the different lots of toadstools and mushrooms.
With terrarium making in mind, we salvaged a few of those lovely colonies of moss and lichen, bagged them up and brought them home.
After a quick trip up to Provincial Home this morning, I came home armed with a fantastic glass lidded jar for the modest price of $10.
We already had a small amount of pebbles left over from these, I had a bag of charcoal set aside for the fish filter (sorry fish), potting mix and a bit of dried out old Sphagnum Moss.
A rummage through my craft supplies last night unearthed a couple of packs of Sculpey, which I fashioned into mini toadstools, and then coated with Diamond Glaze after baking. I'm not so sure about the Diamond Glaze, I don't think it will cope with the moisture.
Poppy had a lovely time putting this all together. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in a month or so, when the moss has properly settled in to its new surroundings.
This is a far cry from the terrarium I made as a kid, back in the 70's. Mine was made from a recycled plastic soda bottle. And was filled with mini ferns. I think it's ugliness doomed it to failure, but I do hold fond memories of doing it with my Grandma.
I found a great kids' gardening idea here.
After sewing up 24 covers for the tins, I got the kids to all bring in an emptied, cleaned tin each. Bunnings had some really colourful pebbles that I put in separate bags ready for the kids to empty into their tin. Also coloured wool and plain tags. A selection of stamps and stamp pads. A clipboard and notepad. A couple of watering cans.
The bulbs were all named by the kids and they each designed a tag to tie on to the tin.
After watering them all, we placed them in the window sill ready to grow.
Finally I have an abundance of lemons again.
Our tree is at least sixty years old (according to a previous owner) and very prolific. Usually we have a year round, reliable supply of lemons for us and everyone we know. Sadly our local area had an outbreak of fruitfly about six months back and our tree was stripped of fruit around January by local inspectors. While we didn't have fruit fly on our tree, nearby neighbours did and as we were going away for a protracted period of time thought it best to remove the fruit at this time.
Our lovely tree is completely laden again.
My Mum gave me a huge bag from her grapefruit tree, and combined with the oranges from last weeks market shop and my lemons, I pulled out the recipe books for inspiration.
First up was Candied Citrus Peel.
Thinly slice fruit (I use a peeler), removing as much of the pith as possible. Blanch briefly in boiling water, drain and then poach in a simple sugar syrup for about an hour. I use the ratio of 1 1/2 cups water to 1 cup sugar. Drain then allow to dry overnight on baking racks. The next day roll in caster sugar and store in an airtight container.
Next was Lemon Curd.
Zest and juice two large lemons. Place in a heavy based saucepan with 100g butter and 175g sugar. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and quickly stir through three beaten eggs. Return to a low heat and continue to stir until curd thickens. Place in sterilised jar and refridgerate. Makes two cups.
Tomorrow I might attempt homemade lemon cordial!
I admit I was nagged into this. After all, how many stuffed dogs does a five year old really need? At least one more apparently, because she didn't have a pink dog. I had already made six previously, two of which were presents, two of which were meant for her brother (which she thinks makes them as good as hers) and two of her own.
The existing four were looking somewhat worse for wear, after being literally loved to death,
and I did have this lovely pink wool felt crying out for a project.
They are quick to complete, I was three quarters through by bedtime, and completed it this morning. Not that an unfinished, unstuffed Scotty bothered The Girl, who was happily playing with it already this morning before school.
I can tell that the next project might need to be a kennel....
Today I was adventurous. We go to Laksa King in Flemington all the time. I always order the same. Seafood Curry Laksa. It is soooo good. At least once a fortnight I start to crave it again. I do look with slight interest at what other people order. What Ben orders. But for me its always the same.
I had planned on making Wonton Soup for our dinner tonight and was hesitant to have soup twice in one day, so today was the day I was adventurous.
I think I chose what was possibly my next new favourite thing, Nasi Lemak Special. Its a chickeny curry, served with rice, a sambal, roasted peanuts and anchovies. Not a Laksa, still Malaysian, still pretty good.
Service is so fast here, and the bill rarely tops $20.
Once a fortnight, usually a Thursday, I pack my trolley and head off to the market. Usually Queen Victoria market, sometimes Little Saigon, occasionally both. I love markets, but there is no denying its harder work than scooting around the local Coles or Safeways.
I love the seasonality of it, the rowdyness of it and the hustle and bustle of the stall holders. I have my favourites of course. Curds and Whey for cheese, a certain seafood stall, a free range chicken stall and of course I can't be allowed to forget to bring home a big marrow bone for Old Dog.
This is also the day the fridge gets a bit of a clean out and I make a big batch of chicken stock to freeze. Tired vegies are magically transformed by the addition of chicken frames to make the most fragrant chicken stock you can imagine. I don't follow a recipe, but tend to use what is on hand, always adding a fresh handful of herbs from the garden.
The kids pounce on the jam doughnuts I buy from the American Doughnut van and I try (and fail) to hide another supply of Callebut chocolate.
If everyone is home for dinner, I'll buy shellfish, if not, fresh Pasta.
The fridge is fully stocked, overflowing really, full of the promise of good meals to come.
Our midweek lunch this week was in Heffernan Lane, at New Kum Den.
We had a fantastic Yum Cha lunch here last year for Oscar's 10th birthday (his choice). The kids were especially enamoured with the complimentary steamed buns in the shape of rabbits.
Midweek it seemed to be lacking the buzz we experienced last time. No trolleys were out, and when we asked about Yum Cha, we were given a menu. Yum Cha is such a visual feast, it it hard to order from a menu.
While it was all tasty (especially good was the salt and pepper squid), the choice was rather limited and most of our favourites were missing. As we paid we were asked the somewhat bizarre question "Was it enough food for your lunch?" More than enough!
Well I finally made my swim bag. The problem being I think I hate it. It's just too big. I procrastinated for ages about what size to make it and settled on doubling the size of the supermarket green bags I use.
After cutting it out I had misgivings, but was too lazy to resize it. I did use it over the weekend before I added the straps, and as a sacky type thing it was really handy for my weekend away, if slightly difficult to carry. When I added the straps I knew right away it would never work as my swim bag. It is far too big, and when it is filled, it becomes too heavy and I'm not sure that the fabric wouldn't tear along the seams due to stress.
The straps themselves were horrible to sew, even with my specially purchased roller foot. All in all a bit of a failure so my hunt for a swim bag continues.
On another note, I am now up to 50 laps. Yay.
I love making Jam. Berry is the favourite. Blackberry to be precise. Due to all our gallivanting around in February, I missed the blackberry season this year. The previous year, we picked about 8kgs, which was great. We had plenty for blackberry jam, fresh blackberries and months and months of frozen berries in the freezer.
Now that we are down to the last couple of jars, I was keen to try something I had been thinking of making for quite some time. Rosehip Jam.
They looked so pretty this year, and after a quick hunt for a recipe, I set to making a batch.
In theory (my theory at least), this should have been good. Never having tried Rosehip Jam, I imagined flavours reminiscent of Rosewater, perhaps rosy in colour, and definitely sweetly perfumed.
It was NASTY. I should have stopped halfway through when I first had an inkling that all was not well. The house filled with a horrible smell and instead of looking like a nice pulp, it looked like sludge. Not even rosy sludge. Brown sludge. Still, I perservered, added the sugar and kept going. It didn't smell nice, look nice or taste nice. I kept sampling to be sure, and have even kept a jar which I will force myself to retry in a week or so, but I think it is doubtful that anyone would want to eat this. It even has a strange texture.
Looks like we might have to finish the Blackberry Jam, then the Fig Jam, then resort to Marmalade.
Crafty kid. Or maybe I should say kids. They both made the most fantastic cards for Mothers Day, and then Oscar presented me with this. Designed and sewn all by himself. I absolutely love it. His instructions were that I use it as part pincushion/part Voodoo doll. Love that warped mind.
I was treated to a very special Mothers Day this year, the kids and I packed up the car and Old Dog, and headed off for a weekend in the country with my Mum. Ben unfortunately had shifts over the weekend so was left to fend for himself, while we were busy gardening and eating our way through a mountain of food at Woodend.
All the lovely colours were out, and I spent a chilly afternoon on Saturday picking the beautiful Rosehips off Mum's roses. Their burnt orange colour has really deepened now that we have had a frost or two. The plan is to make Rosehip Jam as it seems such a waste to just add them to the compost.
I borrowed an idea from Nini Makes for Mothers Day cards, giving the kids a choice of cardstock, felt and buttons. The resulting cards were all so unique, and the messages they wrote inside very heartfelt.
I can't wait to see the card my son did!
Today's plan was for a quick trip up to Riddells Creek to buy my annual supply of bulbs from the BEST bulb supplier in Victoria, the Riddells' Creek Daffodil Farm. They are by far the cheapest bulb supplier that I have come across.
After deciding that the bulk packs of 1000 was probably unrealistic given my tiny garden, I walked out with a very small bag of only 100. Given that last year I bought about 500 bulbs (Daffodils, jonquils, lachenalias, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, snowdrops and bluebells) this was very restrained.
It was a gorgeous sunshiny day and all the Autumn foliage was out. A quick, disappointing rummage through my bag confirmed that I had forgotten my camera. Lovely husband obliged by suggesting another trip tomorrow, for a spot of Devonshire tea in nearby Mt Macedon. Better and better. Hopefully the weather will hold out.
She looks so sweet and innocent. Well behaved even. This last weekend she was the child from hell.
Most of the time (when she isn't tormenting her brother) she is a reasonable, happy kid but something went wrong the minute I picked her up from school on Friday.
After an extended after school playground visit we had the most incredible tanty. Loud and nasty, all the way home in the car. Followed by another on Saturday morning and yet another Sunday morning. How do you deal with this? Especially when she is so contrite afterwards.
This morning she woke up sunny and happy and all was well in the world. Thankfully.
What a nice, lazy Sunday it has been! A leisurely read of the weekend papers, a strong latte, and a lovely bowl of creamy porridge.
I must admit that despite the beautiful day outside, I spent most of it inside. Making these. The aim was 100, but I called it a day after 90. Of those, I painted 25 toadstooly colours. Strangely rewarding, albeit time consuming activity.
It took me nearly all afternoon, but I finally got to the fun bit of placing them in the garden at school.
They looked great. Poppy has been sworn to secrecy as Oscar doesn't know (they are outside his classroom). Hopefully it will be there for a few days before it ends up too much of a soggy mess.
Aren't they great! My little workers. Despite the threatening weather on Friday, We managed to get together a group of seven super keen kids to replant the garden bed outside their classroom. I had gone in earlier in the week and turned the soil over, so the harder work was done, leaving them the fun task of planting.
It was a drought tolerant selection of plants: bearded irises, grasses and a few hardy natives. Although we had had good rainfall during the week, the bed was dusty dry, as it is is sheltered by the above eaves.
After watering them all thoroughly, we covered the bed with our free mulch from the local council and we were done.
We have (slightly belated) plans to add an automatic watering system to help it all along, but in the interim, I think the kids will happily keep it going with an occasional hand watering.
I loved making this. My Mum's birthday was nearly three weeks ago, but she has been holidaying in Vanuatu with some friends until late last week. She recently moved in to a new house in the country, so her present this year was a welcome trip to the local garden shop for a selection of trees for the new garden. The card felt kind of empty, full of future plants, so I thought I would have a go at one of these lovely pincushions.Last week I went here http://www.winterwoodtoys.com.au/, so I had a supply of lovely wool felt with which to work with. Once you use wool felt, you never want to go back to nasty Spotlight felt. It is so soft, yet very hardwearing, and the shades seem so much nicer.
The embroidery was fairly basic, easily done while watching TV. I made myself one too, this time a mushroom, but I can't quite bring myself to stick a pin in it yet...