Monday, 31 March 2008
It seems these flowers are native to south-east Brazil, where people use the massed purple blooms to decorate the churches at Easter time. Here they make quite an autumn statement, with their prolific blooms and velvety petals.There's another small tibouchina in our garden which sports a sparse bouquet of shocking pink flowers: together in a bunch the pink and purple look stunning.
When my parents bought the manor, the garage had been rather inexpertly clad, so our handyman, Sven the Norwegian sailor, set out to strip it. His deafening cry, somewhere between a shriek and a bellow, brought us running to the garage, in time to see a retreating 6-foot diamond python, who had been living in the garage roof cavity and had fallen down onto Sven when he removed the ceiling paneling!
We haven't seen it since, which is a shame, since pythons are beautiful, essentially harmless and keep the rats away.
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Although we did take him to swimming lessons last year, Boo was anything but co-operative. He squealed and shrieked at full volume, and clung to Jumps like a limpet whenever the instructor came near.
So we decided to keep it informal and simply concentrate on water confidence, which is pretty much all the babies do at lessons anyway. All summer long then, Boo and Jumps splashed about in the pool at the manor, simply having fun.
Then, on this own, Boo started to put his head under water and blow bubbles. Next he began jumping into the shallow end, kicking his legs and dog paddling. And then, last week, swimming so alone!
I am so proud of his achievement and water confidence. I'm also very relieved, as this means that now he has a good chance of making it to the side if he ever falls into the pool.
Clever little fish!
Friday, 28 March 2008
But soon there will be golden skies, piles of rosy apples, open fires and toasty warm beds with hot waterbottles in them to enjoy.
Every season has its wonders.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Finally, with three exhausted and shivering babies, we set off home for hot baths, tea and chocolate icecreams!
Monday, 24 March 2008
Margaret (my sister-in-law) and I were earnestly discussing when and where to stash the chocolate eggs, when the children came rushing in excitedly, each carrying an enormous egg. We were as surprised and delighted as they were, until we remembered that Aunty Catherine had been for an early morning 'walk' in the garden.
(This quirky little replica of an Easter Island Moai basks contentedly in the sun of my mother's front flower garden. Just out of sight is one of the seven dwarves, and several shepardesses, a turtle, frog and cat are scattered throughout the garden!)
Sunday, 23 March 2008
A delighfully busy, mixed basket of Easter festivities today.
Jumps' sisters and brothers are staying for a few days with their families, and today was a flurry of arrivals and catching up over cups of tea, hot cross buns, banana blueberry cake and impossible pie. In the afternoon part of the party went kayaking on the big river, while others stayed at home to welcome a host of visitors.
In the evening my parents joined us for a barbecue, while the children rode bikes inexhaustibly up and down and around the verandah, jumped on the trampoline, and scoffed sausages.
Tomorrow my nephews will arrive, along with still more visitors, in anticipation of the Easter egg hunt and a family luncheon at the Manor.
Saturday, 22 March 2008
2 1/2T butter
2T brown sugar
4 1/2 c bread flour
2 T milk powder
1 T ground mixed spice
2 t cinnamon
2 1/2 t dried instant yeast
200g chopped sultanas
2 T plain flour, extra
2 T caster sugar, extra
Makes about 24 buns
- Place all ingredients except sultanas in a large bowl.
- Knead with a dough hook for 6 minutes, or until the dough is supple and springy.
- Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Add sultanas; knead 5 minutes.
- Shape int0 24 small balls and place just touching on a baking sheet.
- Cut crosses into the top of each bun.
- Place in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 220C. Mix 3T plain flour with enough water to make a paste. Pipe mixture onto crosses.
- Bake 20 mins or until browned and sound hollow when tapped.
- Meanwhile, place 2T caster sugar in a small saucepan with 1/2 c water. Stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Boil until a thin syrup forms.
- Brush buns with hot syrup.
- Cool on a wire rack or scoff greedily warm, with lashings of butter.
Thursday, 20 March 2008
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Boo and I slept late curled up in bed together (so late that Jumps left for work without bringing my usual a cup of tea in bed!), since we'd been up at 4am to strip the bed that poor Boo wet during the night. I take all the blame: the poor sausage had been put to sleep without a nappy!
After a cuddle and play in bed, it was time to get up, put on the (very full) washing machine and spend a few minutes making beds and putting away last night's clean dishes stacked on the sink.
Next we dressed and breakfasted, then wandered through the long green grass of the field to let the chickens into their daytime pen. Only three eggs today: one of our chickenswas traumatised by a visit to the vet and won't lay (I'm still in shock fromthe bill ... and by the fact that I took a $13 chicken to the vet because we were all too squeamish to use the chopping block and axe!).
Then it was time for Boo to transform into Buzz Lightyear and turn the garden swing into a spaceship, while I hung out the washing in the beautiful summer morning.
Back in to vacuum and mop the floors while Boo watched Playschool, then we dressed and left for a morning at the village Playgroup. Here Boo spent two happy hours rushing about with his small friends, while I ate far too much homemade chocolate cake and drank tea while chatting to the other mothers.
Home to sandwiches for lunch and an episode of Blinky Bill for Boo while I finished up yesterday's ironing and put onion, carrot, garlic, celery, potatos, chickpeas and ham bones into a pot for tonight's dinner.
Then into the garden for afternoon tea and a chance for the chickens to roam while we watched them, and Boo sunbathed (nude!) in the garden.
Next, we brought the washing in and I spent a few minutes tidying up. Finally a trip to the local shops to pick up a few bits and pieces (including a fragrant wedge of half-price camembert, and a sale-priced block of marinated tofu), and to enjoy a view of our emerald countryside glowing in the evening light.
Chickpea and smoked ham soup for dinner, then it was time for Boo to be put to bed. Once he was asleep I set the breakfast table, tidied up in the kitchen and picked up toys from the floors, then a flick through the horrible television programs before deciding on an early bedtime to read borrowed copies of Martha Stewart 'Kids' before sleep.
So a happy, homey day -- just the way I like it!
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Step 3: Add 1 kg diced onions, then cook over a medium heat until pulpy.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
The quantities given below make two loaves, and they freeze beautifully, so I'm keeping one in the freezer for Easter afternoon tea. I might even make another batch soon as I know we'll be having plenty of visitors.
1 cup butter, softened(or 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups mashed (with a fork) ripe bananas (about 6)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Set oven to 180C.
- Grease two 8x4-inch loaf pans.
- In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and the sugar granules have dissolved.
- Add in eggs, and beat well.
- Add in the vanilla and mashed bananas; mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon (if using).
- Add in the flour mixture to the creamed mixture; mix only to combine (be sure not to over mix or your cake will be tough!).
- Fold in the blueberries, then mix to combine.
- Divide the mixture between the two prepare baking pans.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Monday, 10 March 2008
Once home we alternated between swimming, lazing and cooking. Rach and I turned out a magnificent lasagne for dinner, with Impossible Pie to follow.
... and joining in the boys' varied games (this is a balloon-powered helicopter on its test flight) ..
... and Sunday brunch was an all-you-can eat sausage and bacon extravaganza, before a trip back via Seaside Village to take the boys home.