Friday, 26 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas (or Hanuka, or other special family time...). Ours was great, but also a little intense.

In the lead-up to Christmas I set myself too much work - sewing lots of presents (like the clutches pictured above - from Bend the Rules Sewing); printing canvas for wrapping paper (also pictured); baking and wrapping gingerbread; and cooking more food than would fit in our fridge.

On Christmas Eve, we hosted drinks for 30 people (my Mum's family). The photos above are of the calm before the storm (so to speak). It was so lovely to see everyone and Lily loved having her cousins over the play with (and to exchange gifts with). Also everyone came loaded down with food and drinks, and we had many hands to help with the clean up at the end. However, this was only the beginning...

On Christmas morning we hosted breakfast for 9. We sat outside in the sun and it was a beautiful morning - lots of fresh fruit (mangoes and cherries always make me think of Christmas); mushrooms on toast, muffins, and (of course) coffee. More gifts were exchanged, but by now Lily was getting tired and said "Goodbye everyone" and lead me off to a quiet place where she could feed to sleep.
During her nap, more cleaning and cooking was done by all... and then we hosted a lunch for 11 (some of my Dad and my Sister-in-law's families). We had enough food for 20, at least, and it was a lovely long lingering lunch. Still more gifts were exchanged, more beautiful fruit, chocolates and coffee was consumed, and still more cleaning was done by many helping hands.

At 6:30pm we finished off the last load of dishes and then quickly made a couple of roast vegetables salads & a fruit platter and drove out to P's parents place for the Mega-family dinner. There were at least 50 people at P's parents' place and yet more gifts were exchanged... We asked Lily if she wanted to open her presents. "No," was her firm reply. Instead she wanted to play outside with her cousins. (We ended up having to open about half of Lily's gifts this morning - on her behalf - It was crazy-talk.)

We got home at 10:15pm, exhausted.

It was truly lovely to catch up with all of our families and to share food & gifts with the people that we love. However, it was also pretty overwhelming to see (and host) so many people in such a short space of time. If only we could spread Christmas out over a few weeks...

Saturday, 20 December 2008

99 things meme

I saw this on Blue Milk the other day; Pea Soup yesterday; and then today on Still Life with Cat and decided that I had to join in the fun...

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. (Several)

2. Slept under the stars. (Many times)

3. Played in a band.

4. Visited Hawaii. (The camping and hiking is supposed to be gorgeous.)

5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disneyland/world. (Disneyworld, 1995?)

8. Climbed a mountain. (Gokyo Ri - got to see Everest, amongst other impressive peaks.)

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo. (As a child)

11. Bungee jumped. (There is just no way. I have been hang gliding though, which I thought was far more civilized.)

12. Visited Paris. (January 1997?)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (I think so. I have a memory of this, but cannot place it. Perhaps I made it up?)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (Sewing? Although I did have some help.)

15. Adopted a child. (Although I have contemplated it.)

16. Had food poisoning. (Oh yes.)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (No, I stood at the bottom waiting for my Dad and brother, in the freezing cold snow, because I had a torn hamstring.)

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (I looked at the line for the Louvre and decided against it. I figured that I would be back to Paris...)

20. Slept on an overnight train. (Several: Bangkok to Nong Khai and back several times; Hanoi to Huie; Beijing toPingyao; Pingyoa to Xian; Xian to Shoalin; Shanghai to Beijing... I think that is all. I love trains.)

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitch hiked. (Just between Fernie and the ski slopes and Roslyn and Red Mountain.)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not (physically) ill.

24. Built a snow fort.

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping. (Each time it was dark out. I can't imagine doing it during the day.)

27. Run a marathon. (I contemplated it, briefly, while running - and loving - the City2Surf, but have not run a single step since...)

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. (Similarly to Suse: I rode the water taxis in Venice and looked at the gondolas - not longingly though. It was utterly freezing and I really didn't want to be outside anymore.)

29. Seen a total eclipse. (I always seem to miss them.)

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. (Come on! Even Lily has done this.)

31. Hit a home run. (I am not sporty.)

32. Been on a cruise. (In Halong Bay.)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (Not something that I can really recommend. The falls are spectacular, but the town is not.)

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (Which one? I have been the England, Ireland, the USA and Australia, but not Scotland or Wales. Does that count?)

35. Seen an Amish community. (Several)

36. Taught yourself a new language. (Lao. Although I did have some help and only learned a little. I have also been taught French, German and Japanese, but can only speak French.)

37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (Satisfied with what? I have always had enough money.)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing. (Many times. However, I recently acknowledged that I really don't enjoy it.)

40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person. (It is incredible. I was blown away.)

41. Sung Karaoke. (And loved it! I even sung Ice Ice Baby. Ha!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. (In Mexico City. He had been mugged - or claimed to have been. My brother and I bought him dinner and gave him enough money to get a bus home to Chiapas. I'll never know if he was telling us the truth, and don't really care.)

44. Visited Africa. (South Africa and Lesotho. I want to go to Tanzania though...)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. (Why would I want to do this?)

47. Had your portrait painted.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. (Stunning.)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. (Tahiti, Vanuatu, NSW Coast, Lord Howe Island...)

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.

55. Been in a movie. (P. has - a Bollywood movie, no less!)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. (Sometimes I want to, but the idea also completely terrifies me.)

58. Taken a martial arts class. (Jujitsu; Kung Fu; Kick Boxing & Aikido - I have a short attention span...)

59. Visited Russia. (I really really want to do this.)

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. (Biscuits at least.)

62. Gone whale watching. (Been dolphin watching though...)

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood. (Have never been heavy enough, except while pregnant and then you can't anyway... Not that this stresses me out.)

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.

67. Bounced a cheque. (Well, I had to pay a dishonor fee.)

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (Mostly books)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt. (I am sooo intimidated by quilting.)

73. Stood in Times Square. (Many times)

74. Toured the Everglades. (We went to Florida to do this, but then the Parks staff went on strike for the duration of our stay...)

75. Been fired from a job.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, Cambodia...)

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book. (Do they mean: written a book that someone else publishes? That I would like to do. Although I don't actually expect that I will.)

81. Visited the Vatican.

82. Bought a brand new car.

83. Walked in Jerusalem. (Although not right now, thanks.)

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. (This is easy to do in Canberra! and Tahiti...)

85. Read the entire Bible. (Does the children's bible count?)

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.

88. Had chickenpox.

89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury. (I don't think that I can. Lawyers are not allowed to in Australia.)

91. Met someone famous. (Gael García Bernal. I even got my photo taken with him, like a real dork - during an anti-WTO protest in Hong Kong.)

92. Joined a book club. (I started one and it died a rapid and sad death...)

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby.

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit. (I was the solicitor though, not the litigant.)

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee.

Friday, 19 December 2008

21 months

Dear Lily

Last Sunday you turned 21 months old. Sorry about the lateness of this letter and for the lack of photos. I am writing it from Sydney. We made a last-minute, somewhat nutty trip up here last night so that you could audition for a breast-cancer-awareness commercial and (more importantly) see several of your grandparents. (The commercial is a long and odd story that I will tell you about later, but for now I'll just let you know that you were incredible - you charmed the socks of them).

This month I have been continually confronted with just how much you are growing up. I keep thinking about your last Christmas and how little you were. While you were still very alert and engaged in the world, you were such a different little person. You weren't quite walking. You had no idea what Christmas meant. You took no notice of the trees or decorations. Your presents held only a passing level of interest.

In contrast, this year you are all about Christmas.

"Let's make decorations," you suggest to me several times a day.

"I want a Santa."

"Look: a Christmas tree!"

"Santa has a big white beard."

"I'd like to read a Christmas book."

"I love this one. This one's my favourite."

This year you are all about Christmas and I am just loving it.

We have been trying to make decorations, but you still are more into the process than the product. We have quite a number of artistic yellow previously-star-shaped paper mush piles.

We did decorate our baby Christmas tree, but removing the decorations was a little too tempting for you. (It is now up high). You were desperate to make gingerbread (and even remembered what molasses was for three days after I first told you we needed it), but when faced with the choice between icing the biscuits and eating the icing, well... I think you can imagine the outcome.

Still, it has been so much fun getting to experience the lead-up to Christmas with you. You have made me see everything with fresh eyes and given me a wonderful excuse to indulge in all the glitz and tinsle.

I simply cannot wait for Christmas day itself. Hopefully it is not too overwhelming for you (and, hopefully, I can actually finish making your felt food...).

Merry Christmas beautiful girl.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Veg*n Meal Plan Monday

I am finding it hard to feel inspired this week. However, here is our (possible) meal plan for the week:

M: Moroccan chickpeas & couscous
T: Ginger stir-fry with tofu & Asian greens with soba noodles
W: Tempeh burritos with guacamole and salsa (Feeding the Whole Family)
T: Spinach triangles with salad (Vegan with a Vengeance)
F: Pizza

I have also been making gingerbread - one of my favourite Christmas traditions. Photos of Lily 'decorating' said-gingerbread to come tomorrow...

Friday, 12 December 2008

Summer is here!

The other day I picked this bowl of delicious blackberries from our garden. I have to admit that they started their lives on the other side of the fence (i.e. they are from my neighbour's blackberry plant). However, these particularly berries were totally growing on our side of the fence and their roots were planted in 'our' soil and so I thought that picking a few of them would be OK... (P. tells me that I am wicked).

Oh I love blackberries so much! They positively sing of summer.

The rhubarb, strawberries and (almost invisible) asparagus spear are not quite as morally dubious.

Another totally summer moment was eating this bagel yesterday - topped with homemade pesto and fresh tomato (from the farmers market, not our poor struggling seedlings). How good are fresh summer tomatoes and basil?

The stone fruit are out too now and we have been guzzling them. I am putting in a order for a tray of peaches and a tray of nectarines for the Christmas period. Now I just have to plan the cooked part of the meals...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A smock for Lily

Here is my latest smock creation. The pocket is from a small piece of vintage fabric that I am in love with. I had to reduce the pattern to 95% in order to get a better fit on Lily.

Excuse the photos. A certain little person was in no mood for being photographed (there is a first for everything, I guess).

"Could you walk towards me, Lily?"
"No. Open sandpit."

"OK. Could you give me a smile?"

"No smile?"
"No. Sad face."

"OK. Show me another sad face."
"No. No sad face. No smile."


"Do you like your new smock Lily?"

Thank goodness for small mercies!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Meal plan in retrospect

L: Pasta
Not sure I should have eaten that...
D: Flat lemonade. In bed at 7:30pm

B: Vegemite toast
L: Flat lemonade and Vegemite toast
D: Fried potatoes

Now I am off to lie down again.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A smock for Maddie

I just love smocks. I think that they are one of the cutest, and most practical, items of clothing out there. So I thought that I would make a few this year as Christmas present for some of the small people in my life.

This one is for Maddie. I hope that she likes it and gets it REALLY dirty!

The pattern is from the fabulous Bend the Rules Sewing book. Oh how I love this book.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I recently finished reading "Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art" and got all inspired about starting a new journal. I have kept a journal for most of my life, but they have always been the wordy, angsty kind of journal that doesn't serve me very well as a source of inspiration. After reading this book I am very keen to try something completely different.
I had just bought Lily a big spiral bound sketchbook to draw in and so I stole it (yes, I am bad - I'll get her another one though) and made it my own. Then I set out a bunch of lovely coloured pencils, a sharp lead pencil and gave myself permission to paste in stuff and generally collect bits of daily life that might serve to inspire me in the future or remind me of moments in time that I found particularly significant. I am really quite excited about it.

Another inspiring pathway that this book opened up for me was its mention of the 1000 Journals Project. I had never heard of it before, although it has been around since 2000. Essentially Brian Singer (or Someguy, as he calls himself on his website) spent a few years sending 1000 journals out into the world with the following instructions pasted on the inside front page:
"Take this journal and add something to it. Stories, photographs, drawings, opinions. Anything goes."

They are then supposed to be passed on to someone else to continue their journey. People have scanned pages of the journals and posted them on the 1000journals site and the location of each journal is also tracked on this site whenever it is spotted. At least one completed journal has made it back to Brian Singer and two have gone completely missing in action.

A documentary film has been made about the project and there is a touring art show of some of the pages that have been contributed. A book has also been published.

How cool is that?

Naturally I wanted to join in the fun, but it is nigh-on impossible to get a hold of one of the original 1000 journals and so I signed up to the 1001 journals site. I'll let you know if I ever receive one of the journals to contribute to - or if I get up the motivation to send one out into the world myself.

The first page of my new journal is covered in toadstools and birds. I'm not very deep.

How about you - do you keep a journal? Do you consider your blog to be your journal?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

No cuddle. I can swim.

My baby-girl swam in the pool all by herself today. I can't believe it!

Lily absolutely loves the water and so when we were both getting very hot while mucking about in the garden I suggested that we go to the pool.

"Yes. Pool. Now," she replied.

So we had a traumatic 15 minutes while I gathered our stuff (swimmers, water, food, towels, pool card) and applied sunscreen (actually, Lily can't get enough of sunscreen - the trauma here was when I refused to keep applying more and more and more). A certain little person was just desperate to get to the pool and to get there NOW and there were lots of tears...

We arrived at the pool and I decided to buy Lily some floaties (inflated arm bands) and then we got changed and got into the water.

At first Lily was a little hesitant - wanting to stay tightly held in my arms as we moved about in the water. However, once we spent a little bit of time up the shallow end where she can touch the ground with her feet, she started to gain confidence. She started jumping up and down and moving out into the pool, deeper and deeper. I was a little concerned and stuck close.

Soon she was out of her depth and could no longer touch her feet to the ground. I reached out to hold her, but she pushed me away and said, "No cuddle. I can swim." And she did. Well, she kicked her little legs and stayed afloat anyway. I was so proud of her! As was she.

She did it again and again and again.

Now we just have to work on blowing bubbles and using her arms to move forward...

Veg*n Meal Plan Monday... on a Tuesday

Oops. Sorry about being late and all. I have no decent excuses, so let's move on shall we?

The thing is that I really don't have much of a plan this week. However, I thought that I would share a photo of my Farmers' Market haul with you and let you know what I was thinking it might be good for. Similar enough?

So we got (left to right): some silverbeet; two huge punnets of strawberries; some pesticide-free granny smith apples; some fresh locally-made tofu; some cherry tomatoes; some finger bananas; a bunch of yummy-looking tomatoes; some broccoli; a bunch of carrots; some zucchini; some organic asparagus; some Asian greens; a big bunch of organic basil; some mushrooms; a bag of pesticide-free potatoes (should have opened them for the picture, huh?); a big bag of fair trade coffee; and (out of the picture, because I forgot about them) some cherries and apricots (first of the season for us!).

My plan:
  1. The Asian greens, some of the broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms & tofu need to become some kind of stir-fry or soba noodle soup.
  2. The basil is asking to become pesto - perhaps coupled with the remaining tofu (crumbled), some tomatoes, mushrooms & olives over pasta?
  3. The silverbeet would go well with some red lentils for a dahl-y soup. Or I could leave the tofu out of the pasta and make Spanikopita with some nutritional yeast...
  4. More of the broccoli, mushrooms, silverbeet, carrots, zucchini & tomatoes would go well with some beans for a paella.
  5. I think that I will roast the remaining carrots with the potatoes and make a roast veggie salad with some tempeh, cherry tomatoes and tahini sauce.
There: five dinners.

  1. Bananas will go into morning smoothies with oats, soy milk and almonds. - Breakfast (coffee obviously lives here too)
  2. The cherries & strawberries (and the remaining cherry tomatoes) will be devoured alone. - Snacks
  3. The apricots are becoming a pie. They simply must. - Desert
  4. Some of the apples have been juiced with the celery and mint that we have left over from last week. - Drink
  5. Another apple and 3 carrots became muffins (along with some flour, raisins, cinnamon etc). - Morning teas
What would you have done?


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