Thursday, 31 July 2008
Kindly Papa fetched him five children's videos from the shop, so he spent most of the day wrapped in a soft blanket on the sofa, alternately watching and dozing. We did take him to see the doctor, who suspects it's just a short-term bug, and that Boo should be full of beans again tomorrow. Let's hope all will be well soon.
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
The time I spent in the Kruger Park blew me away -- I remember how excited we were at first to spot a zebra or giraffe, but by the end of the week almost took seeing them for granted.
It's too dangerous to take Boo at this stage -- apart from the political situation, there's the risk of malaria and other diseases. But one day I'll go back, taking Jumps and Boo -- I'd love to experience these wonders with them. (Above is a Ground Hornbill -- an endangered species.)
Saturday, 26 July 2008
After building a cubby on the verandah, we took a sunlit walk through the nearby Wetlands to a bird hide, where we saw a white ibis fishing among the reeds.
Then home to bed for both of us -- Boo fell asleep in the car and was carried into the house and tucked into his snug little bed -- while I took a hot chocolate into my own room, and settled into bed with a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell's Ruth. Watching Cranborne has reignited my fondness for Gaskell, so I have high hopes for a good read from this novel.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Outside My Window... the night is cold and crisp, with a heavy blanket of cloud covering the stars ...
I am thinking... about the things that need to be done in the house tomorrow ...
I am thankful for... the fact that my little boy went to preschool enthusiastically this morning, with a smile on his darling face ...
From the kitchen... sauerkraut, red cabbage, kransky, Turinger wurst, weisswurst, two types of dumplings, potatoes with bacon and leek, gravy ... then Blackforest cake and crisp and crunchy, sugar-sweet Italian Crostoli for dessert. Yes, it was Jumps' special birthday dinner this evening ... and it was worth the wait ...
I am wearing... brown tailored pants, a long-sleeved black skivvy, a midnight-blue cardigan ... and those ever-present sheepskin slippers!
I am creating... a file full of craft ideas for Boo and I, most of which I have found on wonderful homemaking and homeschooling blogs ...
I am going... to bed to curl up and read very soon, as my tummy is full to bursting and my electic blanket is currently warming the soft flannel sheets ...
I am reading... a bedside table staple which I dip into and out of as the mood takes me -- and every time I learn something new -- the National Geographic Field Guide to Photography ...
I am hoping... to have some time on the weekend to practise using a borrowed ring flash and macro lens ... focusing with a dept of field of mere millimetres is challenging, to say the least ...
One of my favorite things... is playing "Sleeping Beauty" with my little boy when he jumps into bed with me in the mornings ... I generally am cast as the prince (who, inexplicably, has an odd Italian accent) and my job is to wake Beauty with a kiss, fight the dragon, then pledge my troth befor we ride off to my castle to live happily forever! ...
Here is picture thought I am sharing ...
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Glowing packages on the breakfast table ...
But our special birthday dinner has been pushed forward a day or two, while we all wait to recover from a bout of nasty colds that make it difficult to enjoy feasting.
Monday, 21 July 2008
Keep it up girls -- you're doing wonderfully well! (And we think you're charming, even if you do peck my feet and legs if I don't hand out your breakfast quickly enough.)
Tomorrow is Jumps' birthday, and we'll need plenty of home-laid eggs for the blackforest cake that Grandma, Boo and I plan to bake in the morning. It's Jumps' favourite dessert (and rates pretty highly for me, too), and will be the finishing touch to our German-themed celebratory feast.
Boo, Dad and I spent a happy hour this afternoon at a huge European delicatessen and fruit shop nearby. We gaily flung any German delicacy (and a couple of Italian delights we couldn't resist -- think Crostoli and Chinotto!) into our soon-overflowing trolley. So on the menu for tomorrow night is four kinds of wurst, two types of sauerkraut, Bavarian dumplings, potatoes, red cabbage, three blocks of Ritter chocolate and Asbach cherry pralines. And don't forget the black forest cake for dessert.
I love it when birthday treats can be shared!
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Grandma is settled in at her new house in the village: her kitchen is bright with morning sunshine, beds are made, and her cupboards are full. The front lounge is set up with comfy chairs and a television (although the main lounge is still startlingly bare, as much of her furniture remains at the old house, which has yet to be sold).
My parents and Axl are home from three-and-a-half weeks in Madagascar and South Africa, brimming with stories and descriptions of the places they have seen. They have thousands of photographs to be sorted, modified and catalogued, and are doggedly battling the jetlag that results from an 11-hour time difference.
And we, too, are back again in our little cottage, delighting in the smallness of our domain and enjoying having our own treasures about us again.
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Friday, 18 July 2008
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Outside My Window... the day is still and sunny, with a hint of chill in the air that reminds me of the frost and fog that we woke to this morning ...
I am thinking... about the giant squid dissection which is currently streaming online from Melbourne Museum, and which amazes me each time I flip to watch it (this thing is 247kg, has three hearts and blue blood!) ...
I am thankful for... my sister-in-law Margaret, who is a kindred spirit ...
From the kitchen... the last squashed pieces of an apple and apricot crumble slice, which went down a treat when we had visitors of tea on Tuesday morning. Three mothers and two grandmothers sat at a beautifully set table under the she-oaks and drank tea, while the children dug in the sandpit by us and played in the field ...
I am wearing... brown pants, a short-sleeved apple green babydoll top ... and sheepskin slippers!
I am creating... a menu plan for next week's dinners ...
I am going... to fetch Boo from my mother-in-law's house, where he has been playing with his cousins and Heather's children. Hopefully I'll be given tea and lunch! ...
I am reading... Possession by A.S. Byatt, which is somewhat dense but intriguing, and was recommended to me by my sister-in-law, Fid ...
I am hoping... that on Saturday my parents and nephew will return safe and sound from three weeks in Madagascar ...
I am hearing... the rhythmic swirl and swish of the washing machine as it finishes the last load for the day ...
Around the house... are vases of flowers: azaleas in numerous shades of pink in the bathroom; a spring handful of butter-yellow daffodils on the dining-room table; and the summer glory of three perfect poppies in the loungeroom ...
One of my favorite things... is watching my mother-in-law play with the children ...
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: greeting my family when they arrive from holiday (I'm planning to make a family dinner), church on Sunday morning, introducing my mother-in-law to the ladies at craft on Monday ...
Here is picture thought I am sharing ...
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
This recipe was a hit -- and I can attest that it tasted even better the second day, warmed through and drenched in sweet stewed rhubarb, and creamy yoghurt.
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 lemons, zested
3 eggs, separated
125g self-raising flour
1 t baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line an 18cm spring-form cake tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the zest, yolks and ricotta, and beat until combined.
- In a small, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into the ricotta mixture.
- Fold in the flour and baking powder. Place the mixture in the tin and smooth the surface with a spoon or wet hands.
- Bake for 45 minutes until golden and firm. Cool in the tin. Serve with stewed rhubarb (or a fruit puree, drizzled over the cake, would be divine) and yoghurt or icecream.
The children have been endlessly busy, enjoying eachother's company, the sunny weather and Granny's lovely and enormous garden.
On the furthest field they planted an 'enchanted forest' of fir branches, and ate a picnic in the middle of the wilderness ...
Monday, 14 July 2008
I had tried to include a healthier selection of food than I offered for previous muffin tin lunches, which is perhaps why not as much was consumed in the end. And, as both children spent a great deal of time riding off on their tree-branch horses to vanquish the gruesome monsters which (I was informed) roam the garden, there wasn't really time to eat much.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Saturday, 12 July 2008
This jam slice is made from store-cupboard staples, so is perfect for a day which already includes plenty to do -- like cleaning rooms and making up beds for guests -- so you don't need to add in a trip to the shops. And the slice will stay moist and tasty for up to four days, so you can whip it out for afternoon tea whenever another visitor arrives.
1 c caster sugar
2/3 c self-raising flour
1 1/3c plain flour
1 c raspberry jam (or apricot, or whichever you choose really)
2/3 c caster sugar
2 c dessicated coconut
2 c shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
- Line a large rectangular tin with baking paper.
- Cream butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in the flours and mix until combined. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pan, and cover evenly with jam.
- To make the topping, lightly whisk the eggs, then mix the topping ingredients together. Spread the topping evenly over the jam.
- Bake 180C for about 35 minutes.
Friday, 11 July 2008
It is an awesome sight, with two colourful and elaborate shrines, a dining hall, meditation halls, a pilgrim lodge, tea room and pagoda. The temple aims to be a place of instruction and study, as well as of meditation.
Visitors are welcome to wander at at will through the centre, provided they remove shoes to enter the shrines, and behave quietly and respectfully. Monks and other helpers are happy to answer questions, and encourage anyone who wishes to light a candle or place incense at the shrines. Everyone was pleased to see Boo, and were kind when they answered his serious little questions (for example, he asked "Why do all the Buddhas have different arms?" -- that is, arm gestures).
There were plenty of steps to climb to the main shrine (also called the Great Hero Hall). Boo and I learned that these steps are a reminder that each person must aim to gain enlightenment one step at a time. Although it might take many lifetimesto reach this goal, we must each make those steps ourselves.
All around the temple and dotted throughout the garden are fanciful statues -- many of child-like Buddhas engaged in various activities (even one building a snowman!), various elaborately carved gods and goddesses, elephants and dragons. These mythical lions stand as sentries to the main shrine -- Boo thought it might be fun if he tried to out-roar them.
Finally we visited the seven-tiered pagoda, which is used by the Chinese community as a resting place for the cremated ashes of devotees and their relatives. Inside the Pagoda is a wishing bell, where visitors can make a wish and ring the bell.
Boo asked me what Buddhism is all about. I don't pretend to know a great deal, but did spend ten days in a meditation retreat several years ago, where I learned some of the basic tenets. And I do find meditation to be a worthwhile pursuit, and very good training if you wish for a calmer mind. On the whole, it simply seems to me that Buddhism offers a path for some people to try to lead happy and good lives. I'm sure this is oversimplifying, but I've told Boo that as he grows up, he needs to learn as much as he can about how other people think and feel, before he decides what makes sense to him.
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Wednesday, 9th July 2008
There are so many flowers in the garden now: poppies bursting into flower; daffodils nodding their sweet yellow heads in the breeze; magnolias encrusting the tree like jewels and pulling bare branches down; and pansies clustered in groups, their kittenish faces looking expectantly into the sky. Picking a rainbow-coloured posy for a hostess gift took a matter of moments this morning, and was sheer delight.
We woke up late, then Boo hopped into bed with me and drank warm milk while I sipped several cups of tea and enjoyed the view from the windows of the french doors in my mother's bedroom (where we are 'housesitting' at the moment). After reading a book together, Boo answered his Dad's call and hurried to the office, to spend a happy half hour watching silly children's movies on Youtube (Gumby, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles etc). I luxuriated in bed with a book (Small Island, by Andrea Levy -- well worth reading, although somewhat perplexing) before deciding it really was time to get up.
When Boo returned we then spent the morning making beds, feeding chickens, cleaning, washing, and rolling up the ribbons from yesterday's spiderweb activity. I was able to re-roll the blue spool, which means we can play spiderwebs again using the same ribbon.
Soon we were off to visit friends for our weekly mother's group meeting (girls I have known since Boo was three month's old, and whose company I enjoy thoroughly), return our books and videos to the library, and do our weekly shopping. But oh! the wind had changed direction late in the morning and become bitingly cold, so playing at the park was out of the question.
Home to an afternoon cup of tea, puzzle making, sorting out washing, and making four huge trays of spinach-and-ricotta cannelloni (ricotta cheese and silverbeet were on special at the market). One tray for dinner tonight, and the others to be frozen and served at the weekend, when a host of helpers will arrive to move my mother-in-law into her home nearby.
Dinner and a bath with Boo, then while Jumps put Boo to bed I floated in the hot bath and finished reading my book.
And now that this post is done it's off to bed! (Not such a bad day at all, I say!)
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
I simply gathered up two spools of curling ribbon ($1 each at the discount store) and we set out to a stand of closely grown trees in the garden.
We tied the ends of each spool around a tree, then the children ran wildly round and about the trees, dragging their blue and yellow threads high and low behind them, to create 'spider webs'.
Then, once the spools were empty and I'd tied off the ends, Boo and Courtney had almost as much fun crawling in and out of the webs and chasing eachother.
A happy half hour for a bargain price -- and I think the fluttering ribbons look rather lovely.
Monday, 7 July 2008
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line a 23cm (about 9") square tin.
- Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until smooth. Stir in 1c of flour. Press mixture into the base of the pan. Bake 15 mins or until golden.
- Whisk eggs, sugar, 1/4 c flour, rind and juice until combined. Pour egg mixture over the hot base. Bake for 20mins or until firm. Cool in the pan.
- Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.
So, left to right: cheese on toothpicks, cocoa pops, plain popcorn, mandarin pieces, three chocolate tiny teddy biscuits, and cooked egg noodles.