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We’ve been sick, the children with seemingly never-ending gastro one after the other, and me with pneumonia, requiring a few days in hospital and subsequent enforced rest.  While the low energy levels and general fatigue are no fun, the rest has proved somewhat novel.  So in my convalescence, apart from actually getting enough sleep, I have had time to:

  • knit!  A shawl and child’s garment are complete …
  • read a book!  Hastily chosen from the Library as I had heard others recommend Neil Gaiman’s writing, these clever, fanciful, spooky stories took me away from the mundane reality of hospital rooms and untidy domestic arrangements.
  • get a head start on Christmas shopping for overseas friends by browsing Etsy – and maybe getting something for me … (and got to love the current exchange rate!)
  • enjoy meals outside on warm evenings

  • think about Christmas craft projects to make with Rex.  I was considering simple paper-cut snowflakes and I love those angels made by rolling a single piece of paper into a cone, kind of like these (which are much nicer than what I was thinking of – aren’t they beautiful!).
  • catch up on the mending pile and sort out children’s clothes
  • cook proper meals for growing children.   The babies are ravenous at the moment, a growth spurt must be imminent…
  • make lego models.  There has got to be a better way of storing lego to make this easier – I’m thinking separate compartments for each colour …
  • generally enjoy taking it easy.

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  • frolicking in the winter sunshine after a long drive.  (Large fallen citrus fruits double as balls)
  • making flourless orange cake from home-grown oranges (I used Jill Dupleix’s version of Claudia Roden’s recipe from New Food)
  • slow cooked dinners (Tessa Kiros’s beef and carrot stew and bolognaise-esque ragu) and hot puddings (apple crumble and lemon delicious)
  • a boy who wants to help with baking (or does he just want to lick out the bowl?)
  • knitting in red and red and grey.  The aim was to make a quick woollie for growing girls, but I ran out of wool.  While waiting for more, I accidentally cast on another Shetland triangle shawl … and a cowl
  • finally finishing the cardigan, a supersized version of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Jacket.  Not finding it easy to go out and buy buttons so considering covering some that I found in the sewing box.  Hedgehog-printed cotton on red wool – what do you think..?

  • enjoying listening to podcasts while rinsing dishes and stacking the dishwasher, and – if I’m lucky – while knitting.  Currently engaging are classic novels and chat via CraftLit, Cast On back catalogue and Fibre Beat.
  • for the under-two’s, talking is the new walking.  Long time favorites are “bird”, “shoes” and “(ba)nana”, but vocabularies are quickly expanding.
  • seeing Toy Story 3 at the cinema.  I probably don’t get out enough, but this was the best film I’ve seen in ages!  Funny and heartbreaking.  (Anyone else in tears at the end?)
  • noticing that spring is in the air, the wattle is in flower and blossom is starting to appear in the neighbourhood.

I don’t know why, but I have a deep-set conviction that the all tasks that need to be performed should be able to fit in to the time one has available.  Of course reason tells me otherwise, but the expectation tends to cause feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration when I’m unable to get everything done.  If I worked on what “should” be done every waking moment, there would be no time for what are really the important things, like spending time with the children and general enjoyment of life.  Like the medieval Persian poem*, I crave to meet the needs of the soul as well as more prosaic ones.

So with the narking presence of a sink full of dirty dishes, a full dishwasher, baskets full of clean and dirty washing, general domestic mayhem and nothing planned for dinner, other things tend to get done.  Like playing snakes and ladders, gazing at and chatting with chirpy little girls who love pointing at birds, and making souffles on a whim.

The recipe reproduced below is from Food in Vogue: From Boulestin to Boxer, Pyramid Books, 1988.  I made half quantity in three individual ramekins, as with souffle leftovers just aren’t the same.  These are so quick to make and not difficult, and it helps to think of them as a quick treat for instant scoffing rather than a fancy classic french dessert for a dinner party.  Here is my method, updated from the 1934 version for a lazy person of 2010.

Lady Colefax’s Chocolate Souffle (for 3)

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk (or cream would be good)
  • 70g dark chocolate (ok, I used 80g and divided the rest of the 100g block between the bases of the ramekins – this may have affected the rising a bit)
  • butter for greasing ramekins
  • cream for serving

Preheat oven to 180 degs. C

Beat egg yolks with sugar until combined and thick.  Melt chocolate with milk (I used the microwave – it took a couple of 10 second goes, but go carefully) and add to egg yolks and sugar mixture.  Beat egg whites until peaks form.  With a metal spoon mix a spoonful into chocolate mixture to soften, then combine rest. (Do not over mix.)

Spoon into well buttered ramekins and bake until risen (about 5-10 minutes, but watch carefully).  Eat at once with cream.

*If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy simple store two loaves of bread alone are left
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

Muslih-uddin Sa’di

Late Autumn, and this is what some of the vegetable patch at the Children’s Garden looks like at the moment.  A common theme in the bloggy world that I enjoy is acknowledging and celebrating seasons, cycles, special times and anniversaries. 

Not as auspicious as some anniversaries, but I just realised that it is one year to the day since I starting blogging. 

I started on a whim, without many expectations.  I had enjoyed reading about the creative/domestic lives of others, and wanted in some way to have a journal, a scrapbook, a chance for some dialog with people who like similar things or have similar experiences.   Best of all I now feel like I have made some good bloggy friends, whose blogs I regularly visit and am inspired by, and who leave me cheerful, informative and supportive comments.  And that contact, virtual or actual, makes life more enjoyable.

Thanks so much for visiting me.

Things that are inspiring and delighting me at the moment …

  • Cooking with my boy.  Anzac biscuits and “Gingerbread men” again, this time using Nigella’s biscuit recipe from How to Eat.  A winner.
  • Actually LEAVING THE HOUSE without children to see some beautiful films in the Jacques Demy program at the Melbourne Cinemateque.  Sigh!  Followed by very fine tapas and drinks at Movida.
  • Attending a real life Stitch’n Bitch meetup, in person, and spending some quality knitting time with some lovely ladies.
  • A lovely box in the mail.  I bid on a couple of items in the Uniform Project‘s accessory auction, not expecting success, and actually won both.  The 365 days of reinventing the little black dress have ended, and apart from raising money for educating underprivileged kids, Sheena has made so many rethink their consumption of clothing.  Limitation inspires creativity.
  • Soba noodles – everybody here likes them!
  • Following Amy‘s example, I have graduated to washing my hair with bicarb soda and cider vinegar – shampoo free via Beauty and the Bees hair washing soap.  I feel a small sense of triumph at this.
  • Being able to wear my woollies again.
  • Dragons and knights and dinosaurs and Peter Pan!

We’re in and mostly unpacked, and pretty happy with our new abode.  After our rambling, wonky, eccentric Edwardian with a creative spirit, we were initially disappointed by this smaller and plainer California Bungalow.  But the move forced us to shed a few belongings and organise everything a bit more, and now this house’s quiet charms are revealing themselves to us.

It’s been busy – with packing, bouts of gastro throughout the family, moving, unpacking and ongoing organising – amidst the normal chaos of a family with young children.  But now that things are getting a little less out-of-control, there are at least some quiet moments to be stolen from child tending, household chores and unpacking.  There has even been knitting …

For more Hot and Not guidance, visit Loobylu

poppies collage

HOT   NOT
     
The weather   The weather (too hot)
     
Poppies for remembrance   To be totally obvious (but it goes with the poppies), War
     
Fresh peaches on my muesli and yoghurt, and breakfast outside in the cool of the morning   Not managing to buy a house on the weekend (sob)
     
Slipping back into work without too much drama.  Sadly, it’s like I’ve never been away in some ways.   Getting up at 6.30.  Driving in heavy traffic for an hour to get to work.
     
Getting a babysitter, leaving the house without children, eating Indian food and seeing a movie!   The children, unused to it, don’t like us getting a babysitter and leaving the house.  (But they survived)
     
If this keeps up, dinner here is on the cards!   Our good friends moving back to Sydney in a few weeks … sob
     
Thinking about Christmas and doing a bit of on-line shopping for gifts, and planning crafty activities   Thinking about Christmas … only how many days away?
     
Home-made icy poles, strawberries and watermelon   A proper breakfast (as far as young R is concerned)

buzz 001a

Also really hot is the garage (literally), and drawing on the ground, and of course, Buzz Lightyear.

garden collagegarden2 collage

This weekend I have been:

  • in the thrall of the shawl … household chores and personal grooming remain unattended as the Shetland Triangle grows.  This is really an easy and addictive knit, just as others have said, even in the dreaded 4 ply.  I’m up to the 8th repeat and don’t even need to consult the chart any more.  I may just get it done in time for my aunt’s 80th birthday.  I just hope it blocks out bigger than it looks now.  I think I’ll aim for 10 or 11 repeats like Bells and Suse.

spring 001a

  • In preparation for the looming return to work, a haircut and colour, and shopping for some basic wardrobe pieces here. (Still in denial about the work thing)
  • Enjoying the garden after lots of rain and sunshine.  (The mystery flowers are starting to bud and indeed look like poppies)
  • Coping with thrills and spills as increasingly active and daring babies attempt new feats.  Cutest one was when both were walking along pushing chairs.
  • Baking Jennifer’s breakfast biscuits.  What a great idea this is for the time poor!  Second time with this recipe, this time substituting mashed banana for peanut butter, almond meal for bran and sultanas for chocolate.  (Strangely I used powdered milk instead of protein powder because I was improvising).  They really are satisfying, yummier with the chocolate of course, but still a good fast breakfast option.
  • Drawing, cutting and pasting with Rex … inspired by Amy’s idea, I just drew these quickly.  It was fun to make the faces and talk about if they were scary or friendly or sad or whatever.  Rex enjoyed cutting, choosing and sticking down the features and kept saying “Let’s make another one!”.  He knows about Halloween from watching Yo Gabba Gabba, but I guess this was more in the spirit of Mr Potato Head for us non-Halloween-celebrating types.

spring 032a

  • Enjoying re-reading after many years my deluxe copy of The Little White Horse.  So charming to revisit a childhood fantasy world.  I’m really enjoying the descriptions of domestic detail and can understand why I loved it as a child.  I’ve always preferred pretty pictures to action and adventure.
  • Thinking about the impending first birthday of my beauties.  I have bought a gorgeous book for each, but would  love to come up with another gift.  If time allowed, I would make dolls based on these characters (such is my obsession).  Any ideas for a nice gift for one year old twin girls?

Hope your weekend was full of delights …

Joining in with Loobylu, see here for more reliable hot and not lists than the following …

tokyomart collage

 

HOT   NOT
     
Flowers appearing in the garden to be picked by little hands and given proudly to mummy   Babies waking constantly at night
     
Picking a rose bud to put in a vase in the kitchen so I can look at while doing the dishes   Having to do the dishes.  A lot.  (We do have a dishwasher now, but it’s still hard to keep on top of it.  And don’t get me started on the laundry …)
     
Trips to the market for mangoes, strawberries, basil and Mr Pitta pitta bread   Having to go back to work in three weeks!  This means having to get up at 6.30am to have any hope of arriving there on time, made more difficult by the interrupted nights mentioned above.
     
Japanese biscuits and edamame   Almost any other food that four-year-olds liked last week
     
Origami (well, isn’t it?)   A distinct lack of household organisation
     
Rediscovering childhood favourite books … like The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge.  Obscure even when I first borrowed it from the library in the early 1970’s, but now made into a (less subtle) film so back in print   Being sprayed with baby food as babies decide that it’s good to practice blowing raspberries during mealtimes
     
Being set to embark on a new knitting project, maybe this or this   A self-imposed deadline to complete a shawl before my aunt’s 80th birthday
     
Dottie Angel’s challenge   Probably having to spend money on (larger) clothes for afore-mentioned return to the workplace

 

october 004a

 

october 013a

rain 001a

So much glorious rain over the last few days.  Spring rain has brought wintery chilliness, but there is so much new growth in the garden, including the sunflowers and tomatoes hopefully planted a couple of weeks ago. 

There’s only one thing for rainy weather – baking, and lots of it.

baking collage

Pizza dough and bread from The River Cottage Family Cookbook, and raspberry Store Cupboard Chocolate Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess.  And there may have been some chocolate chip bikkies too…

And great weather for knitting, with a start made on Colonnade too.  And if you still don’t understand the appeal of shawls, look at this.  (Isn’t that second one just divine!)  Oh, I really want to try to make a light and lacy shawl!  This one isn’t light in weight, but was too good to leave in the op shop…

P1100326

And some more of those diamonds of rain drops … (not actually on roses, we think this may be some kind of poppy, but are waiting for the flowers to be sure).

rain 001b

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