Sunday, 13 July 2014

Hero of the month: Margaret Mahy

when Bebe was born mum brought Bug a collection of Margaret Mahy's stories, and most of the stories rekindled childhood memories. 
Mahy wrote so many fantastic stories: "Bubble trouble", "The Lion in the Meadow", "Down the Back of the Chair", the list could go on and on. and indeed it does, Margaret was prolific writer producing over 120 books for children and young adults. My absolute favourite is the YA collection of short stories "The Door in the Air". I searched everywhere for a copy last month, and as it is sadly out of print I ended my search on eBay buying a used copy from the UK. It was totally worth it. The story's are as beautiful, and fantastical as I remember. I can credit Margret fully for my love of fantasy. 
So it was surprise to learn she found recognition in America first, rather serendipitously, after being rejected by Kiwi  publishers for not reflecting New Zealand enough in her stories. But eventually Mahy got the acclaim she deserved winning several of the worlds major prizes in childrens literature, including the Carnegie medal and the Hans Christian Anderson award.   Despite this Margaret remained humble, friendly and approachable. I remember her visiting our small 80 kid primary school some 20 odd years ago, (ekk I'm getting old) to read to us. Pretty impressive as it was a wee country school that didn't get much in the way of internationally acclaimed visitors! 
While Mahy sadly passed away in 2012, she is perfect example if perseverance, creativity and remaining true to yourself and your craft. Which I think makes her a pretty good hero for July.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

This week

This week more winter weather came. It was lovely and stormy. Indoor weather. Weather made for baking Apple chips
How beautiful are they? And they make your home smell amazing!! 

And banana breadI used 1 slightly heaped cup of whole meal flour rather than spelt but it worked perfectly.  It makes a moist, low sugar but still sweet enough loaf (or muffins).

I got my first (but not last) order from Hapsnap and am thrilled with the results. If you take photos with your iPhone you need this app. Instagram images are the cute little square ones. And I love the retro envelopes they come in, so cool! 
And I brought some new jeans.  Designed and MADE in Melbourne, Nobody jeans are honestly the most comfy jeans I've worn in ages.

Have a great week (school holidays Arg)

Monday, 23 June 2014

This week

This fortnight has been kinda crap. Winter arrived in a blur of rain, cold and illness. Normally I like the colder weather but conjunctivitis, cold and coughs have been a plague upon my home... 
Anyway doing these posts can be a nice reminder of the things that have gone right in a week that was on the lower end of OK. 

We painted twice. I made dish washing liquid paints.

 I microwaved frozen blueberries and used the juice for the purple. The brown colour is ground cloves, and the blue is good old fashioned food colouring. 

In the end Bug just mixed the colours together and tipped them everywhere. Which is where the genius of this paint really happens, after a clean up with hot water my dining chairs have never been so clean! 

We also used the plant based glob paints. They smell delicious!

We baked zucchini cake which was delicious.  I used raw almond meal instead of the chopped nuts and I think it would be even more delicious with toasted nuts as per the recipe.

And these sweet potato chips, the only downside is they take over two hours to make and I could eat an entire batch in two minutes.

Next I will have to try these apple chips.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Hero of the month - Lily Cole

So Lily Cole was not my first pick for my first hero. She wasn't even on my radar as a potential hero. I had seen her in 'Lily Cole's Art Matters', which made me realise she was that as well as being an international model, and actress (loved 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)  she was also intelligent to boot (damn her!). And now it turns out that she really is some sort of modern superhero. A woman who doesn't hope that we can create a better world for our children, but actively attempts to make a better world for today.  
As well as being involved in a number if charity's, and being a passionate advocate of fair trade and sustainability (she has a Eco knitwear label called The North Circular, that is completely transparent - from where the wool comes from to who knits it is traceable), she has created as gift giving social media space called 'Impossible' that aims to create an online community bound in a gifting culture.  

She is a person who believes that the impossible can be possible if we look beyond the cultural constructs that guide us. She is a person who ultimately seeks to make wild ideals realities, and her wild ideals do not bring her any reward except for that fact that in becoming something real they really do make the world a better place, and therefore a happier place.  thus she is a fabulous role model for minis, and not so minis, everywhere.

This quarters Peppermint magazine has a fantastic article on her. And you can find more about her gift giving social media platform here

Interestingly I stumbled across a couple of other few other hopeful or daydream-believing Facebook groups this week;  
There's nothing wrong doing the little things, recycling, giving blood, planting a veggie   garden, buying fair trade... From little things big things grow... But wouldn't be amazing to be the one working towards making the impossible possible, bringing a little slice of Utopian idealism to our cynical modern world. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Zoo Zoo Zoo!

Bebe in the butterfly house

It was Queens birthday weekend this weekend, which means a long weekend for most of the country! Yay! We packed up the kids, and with the in laws and a handful of nieces and nephews in convoy, we visited Melbourne Zoo. 
Even though we left earlyish (arriving just after 10) it was busy. The car park is enormous which is great, but we had a park forever away from the entrance. Lucky we had lots of willing hands to carry babies and push prams. The kids actually fought about whose turn it was to push the pram the whole day. They seemed more interested in Bebe and Bug than in the animals which was cute but also a little annoying. You want then to be super excited about the animals, that's the whole point of being there! 

Least Bug was pretty excited. She learnt to say Zebra and Monkey while we were there. And was excited to see the 'monkey was eating the water' and 'ook mum zebra running' (how cool is it when you can actually have a 2sided conversation with you minis, they are amazing little creatures ). 
I have mixed feelings about zoos. I understand that the conservation aspect is so important but it can be sad to see a bear pacing up and down an enclosure that just seems too small. Melbourne zoo is pretty good, and they seem to be doing there best to improve it all the time.  At the moment the big cats are getting new enclosures.

 And the animals seem content enough. The elephants where swimming which was amazing to watch and the orangutan's never fail to entertain. 

One thing I really liked, that possibly won't stand out to most was the kids play area near the meerkats. Secret Tunnels underground and organic like stairs up wee hills make it a space any kid would love. I wish local parks would create spaces more like this than the conventional climbing frame/ slide/ swing combo most contain.

I can defiantly recommend Melbourne zoo for a good full day out.

Facts and figures.

$30 per adult, $13 per child (4-15), family (2+2) $68.50 other family, member and concession options available. 

Toilets are basic but clean. The change room I used (near the end of the elephant walk) was spacious and clean). 

Be prepared for the bakery and plaza eatery's to be busy at lunch but both have a good range if options to suite most (my niece didn't find anything she wanted, except hot chips, but she turned down my home made choc chip cookies too so apparently she's just a bit of a fuss pot! :) ).  prices were average $3.50 for a coffee, $6 for a basic (but yummy) burger, $5 for a pie). There was a bistro there too but we didn't check it out. 
Plenty of picnic space available, which was my original plan but we were a bit unorganised as initially we were going Monday but the in laws changed it to Sunday at the last minute... Anyhoo... 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Role Models and Heroes

My daughters make me want to be a better person, because everything I do they are absorbing. For them I must become a good role model, because whether I like it or not that's who I am to them. And it's not just the big stuff it's the silly little everyday things too. For them I need to start eating breakfast at the table, I need to be tidier,  I need to finish the little projects I begin, I need to cross the road at the marked crossing.  I need to speak nicely around and about other people. I need to stand up straight, laugh more, play more, dance more, sing, swear less. I need to be proud of who I am, (Or at least feign confidence, so that they don't have to pretend). I need to eat healthily, exercise regularly but never talk about fat and bad and good food and diets. I need to show them they can do anything, and be anything, if they are prepared to work for it, and that sometimes doing stuff that isn't fun, that is tough and boring and gross is OK (and apart of life).  I need to show them I'm not perfect, but that that's OK, and i need to show them that I will love myself regardless. I need to be brave.  I need to be a better me, for them. 
I also need to introduce them to role models and heroes who are great. Who believe, who dream, who are imaginative and creative and ambitious. Some who changed the world, and some who added to its beauty, so that they can see that they really and truly can do anything that they really and truly want to... 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

This week

We planted daffodil bulbs.  I thought Bug would totally be into the whole digging, planting, watering process but after initially peering over my shoulder and watering one single bulb in with the hideous duck watering can she insisted we buy, she preferred skipping around the garden and rolling my poor bulbs down the drive way and onto the road - fingers crossed they still grow.   

I made cereal.  Its a recipe for homemade Cheerios but I cant comment on its likeness to a cheerio as I've never had them.  I used the top recipe but replaced the butter with coconut oil and I  left my oats whole, just cause.  I also threw in a handful each of linseed and chia seeds. I used the crumble method as I was aiming to make something I could mix chopped dried fruit through and use as a healthy snack.  It worked wonderfully and its quite addictive. (They say on the recipe that the cheerios dissolved quickly in milk, I didn't have this problem at all.  They softened but held their shape so not sure if it was luck or if the coconut oil makes them more robust)

We also baked some one knead bread.  I used to make bread a lot in uni because its sort of procrastinating but the rising times allow time to write that report you are putting off. My mother in law dropped of some quinces (they have to be the best smelling fruit, beautiful) and a small jar of quince jelly which is amazing dolloped onto homemade bread with a generous smear of butter.
Oh and if your wondering about the whole sourdough thing, 2 weeks ago I sort of killed my sourdough starter (it smelt like turps I'm pretty sure it was dead).  Poor little fellow. So I'm sticking to yeasted breads for the moment, which I prefer over sourdough flavor anyway, but I got seduced by the idea after reading blogs by girls (here and here) I thought I'd give it a whirl. Cest la vie.
I've started reading a brilliant Montessori blog.  While I don't fully proscribe to the beliefs of Montessori a lot of her ideas do resonate with me.  To give children both freedoms and boundary's is something I both believe in and at times struggle with, especially with my headstrong toddler. Anyways whether you a believer in the Montessori method or not Kylie's blog is a great resource for activities to stimulate and entertain your minis from 2 months onwards.  The sponge activity was a great way to allow me to do the dishes without a 'helper'. Bug still spilt a bit of water but not as much as I expected, and I could quickly wash up without having to make the water lukewarm or put up with winging.

I also was inspired to hang a bell for Bebe.  Such a lovely and simple idea. I already had a gorgeous bell that I wore while pregnant and have been meaning to put on a thinner shorter chain, but now its been restrung onto some ribbon and hung from the baby gym. Already (at 6.5 weeks) Bebe is engrossed in it and it won't be long till she's batting and playing.

We dyed some pasta, for Bug to thread, (the red is dye using raspberries I was pretty pleased how well it worked. I plan to play more).  I gave her skewers (the sharp ends stoppered with fimo to stop her pocking her eyes out and to stop the beads falling off.  She aced it so next week we'll up the difficulty and we'll try useing wool and crochet needles.