Thursday, January 28, 2010

My baby's first day at school

Bethany has been counting down the sleeps and this morning came running out exclaiming "It's a school day!"

Mim made her this smock and matching library bag (the smock has the pretty floral material on the back) so Bethany is bound to be the envy of all her classmates.

Bethany is sitting at a table with Hannah, her friend from church and daycare and three other little girls. There are only six girls in the class.

There were no tears, from Bethany or from us. She is so very excited and ready in every way so we are excited for her.

The only time I thought about getting sentimental was when I opened the card from her teacher. Isn't this a lovely thing to do?

We'll go and pick her up soon. I wonder if she can read yet? She was certainly hoping to learn that skill today.......

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wedding photos

Mim and Bill hadn't seen their professional photos when they stayed with us on Sunday night, but they did have the photos that Hugh took on Mim's camera. It was a fabulous idea, Hugh borrowed Mim's camera and took candid photos throughout the wedding, giving the camera back at the end of the day. Mim and Bill got to see them on their honeymoon and, when showing them to us, Mim imported them into my iPhoto (Macs are the best). I know there are people who would love to see more of the wedding so here is a selection, admittedly a bit my-family-centric. Click on the photos to make them bigger.

The very large church was packed, and very warm, so lots of boisterous boys stayed outside until the bride arrived.

There is Jossie in the blue, marvelling at Princess Mim and her green ladies.

Everyone's special day.

The bride and her father, just about to go in. They practically ran down the aisle :)

Once the ceremony was over the princess could be approached.

I love how the girls are interested in the wedding, the people and posing for photos but boys just want to play.

Mim and Bill each gave a lovely speech.

With the odd amusing moment :)

Tomorrow is Bethany's very first day of school and she is so excited!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Australia Day

We're having a quiet day, inside in the cool. Andrew is up to his eyeballs in DIY, Jossie and Bethany have been baking.

Anzac Bikkies, of course.

Bethany and Toby had patriotic ink done at OOSH yesterday.

Oi Oi Oi!

Monday, January 25, 2010


What a delightful weekend we had. On Saturday our friends the Halbisches came over for lunch. Of course, I didn't think to take any photos while they were here but we had a lovely time. It was Liz' birthday and I found out that she likes Black Forest cake. I have never made one but found this recipe and gave it a go.

All the insides squeezed out the side when it was cut, and, I confess, some came out before that. Also, I didn't use as much chocolate as they stipulate for the ganache - 375g! I only used around 250g and I still have more than half in my fridge - what will I do with it? Despite those issues, it tasted pretty good.

After losing no teeth at all for at least a year and a half, Toby's mouth is fast becoming all gaps. Here he is on Saturday evening.

And here on Sunday, both top teeth gone.

On Saturday evening Andrew and I used the movie vouchers Mim gave us and saw Avatar while Alice minded the kids (thanks Alice, it is such a long movie). We don't get to the movies together very often so it was most enjoyable and I thought the movie was very good, if not the sort of thing I would choose for myself.

On Sunday Mim and Bill dropped in on their way home from their honeymoon. It was so good to see them, all relaxed after their holiday. As it was pretty late, and Molong is four hours away, they stayed the night so we had a lovely evening of eating, talking, tea drinking and walking. I'm going to miss Mim fiercely but am actually excited about the possibilities of going to visit - thanks to Lorraine for her timely post on the delights of nearby Orange!

What I'm eating: Za'atar chicken and tabbouleh made with quinoa.

What I'm watching: Mary Poppins with the kids (it may be even longer than Avatar) and Midsomer Murders with Andrew.

What I'm reading: Just about to finish Exit Music and then I can concentrate on The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton (it's called The House at Riverton in the US an UK).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Growing up

Toby lost his bottom front teeth ages ago. We were beginning to think that they'd be the only baby teeth he was going to lose, but now his mouth is full of missing and wobbly teeth. His top front teeth are really wobbly and have been for quite some time. I offered him fifty dollars this morning to pull them out but no dice (I confess that I was fairly confident that he would reject my offer).

Bethany is now attending vacation care at school with Joss and Toby and she is loving being one of the big kids. There are only seven sleeps until she starts school which, as she points out, isn't many. This afternoon I'll buy her a uniform.

It might be the headband but she reminds me of Olivia Newton John's Physical film clip here.

Milo is also growing up and, thankfully, his wool is growing back after the disastrous clipping he had last year.

Poor thing, I asked him to shake hands then I just took a photo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Most of last week looked like this for me. Actually, it was usually dark when I marked, except for Thursday and Saturday. I marked three essays in the evenings and as many as I could on my days at home so that I could finish by Saturday night. Needless to say, I slept in on Sunday - yay for children who are growing up!

Jossie took this photo of me marking while she worked hard on the other side of the table.

Now that she cooks, you see, she needs to go through my cookbooks and fill them with post-its marked with the letter J. We're going to be eating a lot of pasta, cake and biscuits by the looks of things.

During the school holidays there is no Kids' Church (Sunday School) which is a mixed blessing. Good because I get a break from teaching at Kids' Church, not so good because Bethany and Toby find each other distracting in the extreme and I would really love to send them out to class. I gave them my camera and they took some really classic (read fuzzy and unflattering) shots and this one that I rather like.

I made this cake to celebrate the return to the library of my great friend Chrissie. It has no refined sugar or gluten.

I balanced this out by making a Malakoff Torte for Kristy's birthday. All that cream must make it good for staving off osteoporosis.....

What I am eating: Rogan Josh for dinner, zucchini and roast veg slice for lunch and NQN's raw porridge for breakfast. The porridge is a little crunchy when you first make it but if left overnight, the oats soften and it is delicious.

What I am watching: Having finished the first four series of Spooks (how I love it!), the only series the library owns so far, we have had to move on. Now we're watching the three series of QI that Andrew bought me for Christmas.

What I am reading: I have just finished Colm Toibin's Brooklyn (I can't work out how to put the Irish accents on his name). I liked the ending but found the rest a little lacking. I didn't feel like I got to know the main character very well and, therefore, wasn't very attached to her. Now I have moved on to one of the RRL Book Club books as I am planning to have read them all (there are 94) by the end of the year. I have read more than half already. I am reading Ian Rankin's Exit Music which is not at all my usual thing. I like Edinburgh so I am giving it a good go but, on the whole, I prefer to watch crime (imagined of course) rather than read it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Birthday boy

January isn't the best month to have a birthday. People feel like they have had enough celebrating and lots of people are still away on holidays. Thankfully, Toby's birthday did fall on the day I don't work so we could have a lovely day at home. We began with presents on Mum and Dad's bed. I avoid photos at this stage due to the fact that the adults with sleepy faces and bedhead don't like the image captured. Toby was thrilled with all his presents and was set for amusement for the whole day.

I lit the candles and sparkler so Jossie manned the camera. A day or so earlier I asked Toby what sort of cake he'd like, reminding him that as a non-party year, the cake would need to be one that tastes good rather than looks like a superhero. He chose brownies. A perfect match for his dinner of choice, lasagne.

We bought him a new bike; a Giant like mine. It is just the tiniest bit too big so should last him a good, long while.

Within minutes he was confidently hooning up and down the street. He is so grown up, going into year three, and a funny, smart and sweet boy.

I made French toast and bacon for a birthday breakfast but did not partake myself. I have been wanting to make all the healthy tea breads in Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake as a healthy treat to keep me going at home or at work. Last week I made a sticky banana, date and walnut loaf that is in every way, delicious. It is made with spelt flour and fructose but is decadently moist, sweet and crunchy. To follow up on that success, yesterday I made the spicy pumpkin, walnut and currant tea bread, made with grated raw pumpkin.

I don't like it quite as much as the other one but it is still delicious....and nutritious.

But I did eat a brownie with Toby.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Enforced silence

I'm sorry that I have been silent, I'm marking essays. There are three topics to choose from: the selection process, e-books and digital repositories. I won't thrill you with details but I do enjoy marking, coming up with encouraging and helpful comments and fixing every spelling mistake because I can't help myself. I'll be able to fit in the odd post from now on because my two longest work days are over. Monday and Tuesday were both oven like at 42 degrees. I rode my bike to and from work both days! I had a flat tire on Tuesday, my first ever, and arrived at work at 8.30am and left after 7pm so the weather was only mildly extreme. After recovering in the evening, I marked three essays before falling into bed.

We have been keeping up with the cooking. Jossie had a friend for a sleepover on the weekend and I let them make the very first cake out of my new book, Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery. It was rather big of me because I was dying to make it myself, but I stood back (after a little preparation) and let them do it themselves. I chose the Caramel butter-crunch cake, only I substituted chocolate for the nuts as Jossie, by far the pickiest eater of the three, doesn't like nuts (!?).

I didn't get around to taking a nice photo of the result but the experience was great. The mixture looked disgusting at one point, according to Jossie, which was a good time to teach her about the great truth of cooking, that recipes are so much more than a sum of their parts. The girls loved using the food processor, a first for both of them, and the sense of achievement was heightened as there are quite a few steps involved and the cake looked very impressive having been cooked in a kugelhopf tin and with layers inside. Licking the bowl was still the best bit, though.

We also played our new game, Quelf. It isn't for shy and retiring types with lots of acting and general silliness required but it gave us much afternoon amusement.

Sunday was the big day. Jossie made her very first dinner, fettucine bolognese. I was a bit concerned that when I assembled the ingredients Jossie would take exception to some of them. To my surprise, and Tim will be pleased, the zucchini, carrot, celery and mushrooms caused no offense. All Joss said was that she didn't want to chop the onions. As it happens I only chop the vegetables very roughly and then finish the job in my food processor so Joss managed to brave the onions without tears.

Again, we were in such a hurry to eat our dinner that only the quickest of perfunctory photos was taken to capture the historic moment. Job well done Joss, it was delicious. I always make a huge amount too so the rest will be made into lasagne tomorrow for Toby's birthday dinner. He has chosen brownies for dessert, maybe Jossie will bake those too.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gluten free choc chip bikkies

The wedding is over and sweet things are back on the menu....within reason. Knowing that I have a slight tendency to overdo things, I am on the lookout for sweet things that aren't just empty calories. I have found some great things at this blog.

These biscuits are delicious. Crunchy and toothsome without the addition of flour or refined sugar. The original recipe makes a very small batch, which is a good tactic, though I will probably double it next time.

60g walnuts or pecans
60g whole almonds
30 grams fairtrade chocolate, 70% cocoa solids or higher if you can get it
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 140 fan-forced or 155 without a fan. Line a baking tray with parchment.
2. Grind the nuts as finely as possible in a food processor
3. Chop chocolate.
4. Mix he nuts with the rest of the ingredients until a soft dough forms. With wet hands form a log and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
4. Roll into balls and flatten onto the baking tray. Use a fork to mark the top of the bikkies and bake for 15 mins until firm.

I didn't flatten mine out enough and they are very small but soooo delicious.

Beginning as we mean to go on

Jossie and Bethany were given bags full of cooking paraphernalia for Christmas and have been itching to get into the kitchen. I am full of enthusiasm for my resolutions, willing to stand back and let them cook.

Bethany donned her Fifi apron, she has enough aprons for this to be a big decision, and opted for yoghurt and berry muffins.

The first challenge for both of us was the egg cracking, something I would normally do myself.

After giving it a serious bashing, Bethany shook the insides out of a small hole and I picked out all the shell. I did the second one myself but only as a teaching exercise of course.

In her magical Christmas cooking bag Bethany had some colourful chocolate chips which she thought would be perfect in this.

The best bit! I was easily able to let her do this alone as I don't love muffins, being more of a cupcake person.

So proud.

With Bethany my presence is still very much required but I am hoping to see Jossie become self sufficient in the kitchen this year. She wanted to make chocolate chip bikkies so I gave her Nigella's chocolate mint biscuit recipe and told her how to make them blond and not minty. I had to advise her about a few things but essentially, she did it all herself. Next week she will make her first meal and we a starting with the basics - bolognese.