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A fine winter’s morning

+ lots of adventures to be had

+ 16 guests (as well as a smattering of siblings)

+ 24 cupcakes

+ 20 chocolate crackles

+ 18 savory muffins

+ not enough fairy bread and copious sandwiches

+ various chips, dips, vegetable and fruit platters

+ cake

= 6

(And a celebration for me of six years of mothering my rowdy, sensitive boy.  Long may he enjoy tree-climbing as well as computer games, and fairy tales as well as dvds.)

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

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.

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

 

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october 013a

Signs of Spring! This weekend’s distractions included:

LUNA PARK 2 collageLUNA PARK 1 collageLUNA PARK 3 collage

  • enjoying a boy’s delight at a visit to Luna Park
  • a big family walk in the sunshine, walking home at sunset by the sea and canals
  • provisions from the boys’ visit to Prahran Market, including fresh basil for pesto!
  • also from the market visit, thrilled by a bunch of jonquils proudly proffered in a small fist.  “Did you buy them for me?” “No, I found them on the road”. Oh well.
  • Brie de Nangis, De Chirico bread and Mt Zero olives at lunch, coq au vin for dinner
  • Lucy’s stars!  I love hama beads and am thrilled at finding (kind of) actual uses for them
  • thinking of more crochet
  • contemplating going shampoo-free like Bells
  • enjoying knitting with luscious Bendigo Luxury for another Ravelry swap 
  • dreaming of lunch here

weekend1collageweekend2collage

Hope you had a great weekend …

knit 076a

… I want to sleep as  long as I like, and get up and do what I like.  I often think of life before we had children, when apart from holding down a job, life could be as undisciplined as you liked.  Eating out, seeing friends and films and theatre whenever we wanted, letting dishes pile up in the sink and leaving housework undone.  Well, the last two things are still happening, but having children makes it necessary to  try and maintain a minimal level of cleanliness…  Now life seems to call for a more regimented approach, to try and fit in with feeding and sleeping routines.  We are forced to turn into, if not our own parents, someone else’s parents.  Grown-ups.  Now of course this is all a very small price to pay for having three wonderful new people in your life, and the myriad joys this can bring.  But it can be very overwhelming trying to meet the needs of these precious little ones, and maintain the semblance of an organised life.  How I yearn for a tidy, well organised house, thoughtfully planned and prepared meals from the freshest seasonal ingredients, cheerful family outings and day trips, time to make things.  But these things are for people who’ve had more than 4 hours sleep in a row at a time.  I know that as the babies get older, time will free up a bit and energy levels will be regained.  And I know that I’m not alone.  Graceful acceptance that things can’t be “perfect”.   A kind of surrendering to family.  I’m trying to look at what life offers without expectations of how things should be and focus on the important things. 

Recently, a choice between helping construct a lego pirate ship, or cook dinner.  I chose the former and ordered pizza.  I know I can’t do this all the time, but it was a refreshing letting-go of (some) responsibility and joyful re-capturing of childish delights.  And that’s one of the great things about having children in your life – sometimes you can forget you are a grown-up for a moment.

knit 074a

Rex

My beautiful, clever, cheeky, agile, funny, eccentric, eloquent, cuddly, adventurous, timid, noisy boy is four.  So full of contradictions.  So big, and still so in need of careful nurturing.  So unequivocally lovable.

As requested we had sunshine, horses, friends, banana cake with NO icing, candles, more horses, guinea pigs and a bewildering amount of presents, paper and ribbon.  And joyous excitement and happy smiles.

rex4

mask

*or another excuse to post baby photos…  For Words and Pictures

tucked up

 OK, you know the routine: bath, pajamas, teeth, 5 minutes, then bed.

no, 5 minutes…

ok, 1 minute to go … 1/4 minute … 1/2 minute … 3/4 minute … 1 minute!  Time to go to your bedroom!

have you chosen 2 books?  well, alright, 3 books then…

lights out time … oh, you want a drink of water…

alright, back in bed please, I’m turning the light out… well, where is the torch?

back in bed please!  lights out … please don’t shine the torch in my face … now I’m going to tuck you in, all snuggly-wuggly.  A story?  ok … “Once upon a time …  not that one?  Well, “Once upon a time …

Goodnight sweetie … a song? ok , “Hush little baby, don’t say a word …

Goodnight my darling, cuddle … oh sorry, I didn’t mean to squash you …

But you have to sleep in your bed … no, it will be ok … no, Santa’s not coming tonight … because it’s not Christmas … well, maybe one day you’ll see a reindeer … you’ll be alright, just call me if you have a naughty dream … where’s Daddy?  He’s at work, but he’ll come and see you when he gets home.  Go to sleep now … but you have to have a good rest … oh, I can hear the babies crying, I’ll come and see you a bit later.  Good night beautiful, love you…

phew!

cave

More bed-time stories via Meet me at Mikes

orlando

Something that may have been obvious to others, but that I have only recently realised, is that having a child allows, no, compels you to remember/re-live aspects of your own childhood.  So many things long forgotten, it is a bittersweet experience to recall what caused you great fear or joy as a child.   My son has recently had a few difficult nights, and we’ve been talking about dreams.  I still remember quite vividly two of the nightmares I had as a child that distressed me greatly.  In one, my mother delivered my brother and I to a wicked witch, who put us in a cage (a la Hansel & Gretel).  I can still see the image of my mother walking away as I cried out.  (No, I did not have abnormally cruel parents!)   This is obviously a fear of abandonment which must be a basic fear of many young children, when their parents are their whole world.  It makes me mindful of letting my child know that I love him and will always be there for him, even if we have difficult, angry times together. 

On a happier note, having children makes you want to share with them the things that filled you with wonder when you were a child.  I always enjoyed books and had a lot of the Little Golden Book or standard fairy tale type of books.  But one book was special, and I remember poring over it for ages and immersing myself in it, such a vivid and imaginative world did it portray.  It was one of the Orlando the Marmalade Cat books by Kathleen Hale, and I’m not sure what happened to it.  I have occasionally looked for her books in secondhand shops when I think of it, and have purchased a couple of recently re-issued editions on-line.  But the other day I actually found this one in my local secondhand bookshop, probably the same edition as I had as a child!   It is so different to books today, yes, dated and even non-“P.C.”, but incredibly eccentric and fanciful.  Rex has shown an interest in these books already as bed-time books, and I hope that they may continue to delight him with their charm and whimsy.

orlando2

The books were written and illustrated during the 1930’s-70’s, and the illustrations have the look and colours of 1930’s lithographs.  And in case you were wondering, “The Frisky Housewife” is a department store that Orlando and his family opens and runs, as

“It’s high time”, said Orlando indignantly, “that shops sold what people want to buy, instead of what the shops want to sell…”

orlando4

white2

It seems that for a knitter’s blog, there is very little crafting to be seen here.  I am so close to finishing the woolly pants, but need to find a little time this evening to get there …..

Today during the various tasks associated with caring for small babies and other household activities that distract me from my knitting, I was thinking alot about how my life and attitudes had changed since having children.  Not just the obvious big changes, but the smaller details.  Some (well, me in a self-critical frame of mind) might say standards have dropped, but I like to think that quality of life improves with a more flexible approach and not sweating the small stuff.

Some things I have learnt…

  • tracksuit pants are suitable attire for all occasions
  • that you can never have too many clothes-horses (I like this one)
  • that you can never have too many washing baskets (I like large Moroccan market baskets)
  • that it is normal to have opinions about the best type of clothes baskets and clothes-horses
  • that clothes baskets and clothes-horses are central items of home decoration
  • that colourful plastic toys and equipment add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to any home decor
  • most of the words to all the songs featured on Yo Gabba Gabba
  • toddler attire is instantly more stylish and desirable if it sports a picture of Lightning McQueen
  • babies must have a strict routine, but unfortunately the babies don’t know this
  • a dust-buster is an essential accessory in a dining area
  • despite a culinary education honed in the finest restaurants and augmented by Vogue Entertaining, the most successful meals to serve a toddler are vegemite sandwiches or tinned baked beans.
  • teeth and hair are not pre-requisites for exceptional beauty
  • and that there is nothing nicer than a warm, velvety head (or two) against your cheek, or small arms reaching about your neck.

white

And if I fear criticism or disapproval about any lapses of style, I like to remember the wise words of Dr Seuss: 

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

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Grandma Twinkle Garland

Grandma Bunting

standing ovation



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