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. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

This week

This Week We
Baked: Magic Custard cake via. rasberri cupcake. It's my sisters birthday on Monday so we had early birthday dinner Friday night and this was the cake I made. Yummy, creamy, but not too sweet, and definitely different. Delicious with berry's and icing sugar. There's also a version with berries baked into it, which looks amazing as well, but I'm yet to try it. 


In return my Sis made blueberry lime and mint cake (did I mention we're twins) . Are you a mojito lover? This is a mojito in cake form minus the rum (although you could add that to the drizzle if you were feeling footloose and fancy free)! Mmm.

We ate: breakfast at Rococo's in Acland street, St Kilda. Rococo's is our official go to cafe for St Kilda brunch dates. While a bit noisy, the tables are spacious you can fit a pram in, and best of all, the food is consistently excellent. We have a theory that if your paying for food it should be better than what you would make at home, and Rococo's has yet to disappoint. The down side (if you can call it that) is all the amazing bakeries you pass on the way down Acland st. I came home with chocolate cannelloni and cream brûlée, a sugar laden end to the week! 

We made: salt free, sensitive skin friendly Play dough. Containing honey, cornflour, oats, coconut oil and water, the Dough is soft and lovely to play with. It's great for kids who shove everything in there mouths and for younger babies to have some sensory fun, as well as sufferers of eczema and other skin sensitivities, but it's quite pricey to make in comparison to regular play dough, (coconut oil isn't the cheapest option), but is probably still cheaper than brought stuff. If left out it gets a crusty skin on it but it goes really hard if stored in the fridge due to the coconut oil, and needs to be hand warmed to become pliable again. I'm still experimenting with storage and shelf life. 

And I began a sourdough starter. I'm at day 5 and making bread with it tonight. I'll go into more detail when I get it to the maintenance stage, (about 5-10 days) and try a few more recipes. 
I read: (yup I read a whole book! thanks  to mum and her Bug wrangling, and the enforced sofa bound time early bfing brings)Jody Picoults 'The Storyteller'. I cried, BWB even teared up when I explained why I was crying. It is brilliant, thought provoking and heart breaking. Highly recommended.
Said good bye to my mum. Arg! We will miss her terribly! Next week could be a rough one without that extra set of hands juggling minis and washing and music class and supermarket runs! And Bebe's in the midst if her first wonder week (I have the app) which will not help! But we'll get there... I hope... 

Have a great week *K*

Monday, 28 April 2014

Showcasing Local, Monster love

I've pinched this post from my old blog... So it's still mine, and I've brought more bits from this shop for recent new bambinos, (cause you hit 30 and everyone starts settling down and making minis!), so I know what I said over a year ago is still accurate. 
Oh and BTW I write for my own enjoyment and am not paid by anyone in any form. If I think it's crap I won't feature it... (If you haven't got anything nice to say...)

I have been shopping.
First up, two new babies have arrived (yay!) and secondly A seems to be suddenly growing out of all her clothes.

Luckily I found a shop that solved both these issues (sorta - A will need more clothes but we have a a start).  Amor Amor is the brain child of three talented Colombians who now call Australia home.   Here they create quirky, unique monster themed clothes, cushions and paper goods.  The limited edition range of clothing uses soft cottons, water based inks and features amazing hand drawn artwork. 
The skirt I ordered for A is beautifully finished, and so sweet.
I was so pleased with it, and the speed that it arrived, that I brought more stuff. I got her a onesie and another boys onesie for one of the new bubba's.

Its awesome to find a range of funky boys clothes that's not dominated with insipid baby blues, but is cute while retaining a bit of attitude.

I'm totally eying up these colour yourself cushions for my next purchase.  Brilliant idea! Its such a shame A is no where near to being able to colour.

Perhaps you too will find something fabulous at Amor Amor for your little monster!


All images from Amor Amor, please ask permission before using.  Thanks.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Show casing local (sorta) - Nature Baby

I should be more like this lady, or this one, when it comes to clothes for myself and my minis - reuse, recycle, re purpose, create... But I'm not a great sewer (I can, but we're talking pretty basic stuff), I can't knit, and I've always been a terrible op shopper (although truly jealous of those who just seem to walk into secondhand jobs and find fabulous stuff, Grr). 
However that's no excuse not to shop mindfully*.

Nature Baby is a New Zealand store that makes beautiful organic clothing and sleep wear for minis, and have an Australian online store (so sorta local).

It's well constructed (designed in NZ, made in India) and therefore should outlast both my girls and possibly (blueberry stains and rough and tumble dependent) be passed on again. And it's pretty darn cute to boot! 
Facts and Figures:
They specialise in organic wool and organic cotton clothing. The range features sleep and day wear - girls, boys and unisex designs from newborn to 4 years.
The fit is long and lean so the size 2 fits my 19 month, 11kg, 87cm tall mini almost perfectly. 
The clothing range has bibs for $14.95, tops start at about $19.95, pants at $24.95, and the range runs through to $59.95 for hand knitted merino cardigans. 
The website also has cloth nappies, organic toys and gifts for Mum, natural remedies, furniture and room decor. 

*I'm saying mindfully rather than ethically, because for me ethically brings up a whole realm of questions and not many clear cut answers. If we try and always buy local are we taking away from Chinese workers who desperately need the jobs these factories provide? Is the Bangladesh accord  enough? (Target and  Cotton On are members. Cotton On also donates sales percentages to charity's and is Australian owned, is that enough)? How do you check Eco/ ethical cred? Only some brands put up statements on their web sites... should we be supporting Australian designers who still get their garments produced in 3rd world country's because they are getting pushed out of the market by 'fast fashion', and sadly buying from local craft markets can still leave wardrobe gaps. (Gumboots, for example )). When you make/ sew/ craft your own where does the fabric come from? Are those manufacturers just as bad as those who make jeans? anyway this is all beyond the scope of my knowledge and journalistic ability. And it's certainly beyond the scope of what I want this blog to be...

Friday, 18 April 2014

A slice of country - Myuna Farm

I'd had a few days in hospital with Bebe, there was the settling back into home life, then we had three days of rain.  By the end of the week we were all ready to escape the house.  Thank goodness Sunday was sunny and BWB was off work, so together we packed up our week old baby, our 19 month old hurricane, squished my Mum in between the car seats, (thank goodness for the station waggon) and headed out to Myuna farm.

This little slice of country in Melbourne suburbia is home to donkeys, pigs, ducks, geese, cows, turkeys, horses, ponies, goats, rabbits, guinnie-pigs and a range of reptiles and birds. Bug loves feeding animals of almost any description so when the cashier handed over a bag of mouldy bread she was in her element (however a lot of the animals they ask you not to feed which was a tough sell to an over enthusiastic mini). However she loved getting to pat rabbits and goats, to ride the sweet, stout Shetland pony and was a big fan of the 'train', which loops around the grounds, down to the wetlands and back. 

 My 6 foot 4 husbands would not have fitted in the train, and was left holding the baby (who decided the Baby Bjorn was not for her).  Not really a hardship apparently he was mobbed by woman the moment he was left on his own. (Note to single uncles, holding a baby is an easy way to meet girls!). 


The farm is only a minutes drive from Dandenong Markets (open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) so its worth doing both in one trip if your in need of fresh vegetables, meat and fish.  

the food court there has a good range of options from kebabs and jam doughnuts to dim-sums and freshly squeezed juices so maybe a better place to have lunch than the farm itself which really only offers junk food.

The facts and figures:
Open every day 10am - 4pm, located approx 40mins from the city. See here for public transport directions
Entry is $6 per person, $20 for a family of four.  $2.50 tickets purchased from the front counter can be used for both the train and the pony rides, very convenient when BWB decided he wouldn't fit on the train as we then used his train ticket for the pony ride.
There is no cafe, but there is a kiosk with pies, chips, drinks, ice creams etc available. There are also several rooms, and picnic areas with BBQ's and fridge access that can be reserved/hired for parties, picnics and gatherings.
The grounds are pram and wheelchair friendly. I didn't use the bathrooms but they looked pretty basic, so I'm not sure if change tables are available (oops)
For other reviews see here.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The great hot x bun bake

It's the perfect autumn day in Melbourne today. The sun is shining and there's that slight winter nip in the air, so you feel inclined to open the blinds and the windows and let that fresh, healing sunlight stream on in. 
The only thing missing is the blaze of autumn colour lacking in my street. (Rose hips is the best I can do in the way of Autumn hues). At home (NZ) the farm is dotted with vibrant Liquid Amber's, and chestnuts crunch and prickle on the ground... Perhaps I should invest in a potted maple so Bug and Bebe can fully appreciate the blaze of true autumn.
Anyway I'm babbling again. The point of this is that it's also a perfect day to embark on some hot cross bun baking. It's also the Thursday before Good Friday meaning it's a bit late for anyone fancying creating their own batch in time for Easter. Sorry.

I used this recipe for sticky spelt hot cross buns  from City Hippy Farm Girl. I would love to try the sour dough version and must get a starter started. But we made the yeasted version.  These are great for those with minis, as they have a lot of rises but very little kneading they so your not covered in dough and flour while trying to stop your mini hugging your mini-mini to death.

Bug had her own bowl, measuring cups and spoons and a scant handful of fruit and desiccated coconut to mix measure and eat (a great way to keep toddlers sticky little fingers out of your baking). 

I used 250gm of Angas Park fruit medley which is a mix of sultanas, apricots, apples, peaches and pear. Then I added an extra handful of sultanas (cause you can never have too much fruit). I only had calvados so that went in instead of regular brandy, and because I didn't buy my dried fruit till this morning I only soaked it for 20mins or so, instead of overnight. I also forgot the raw sugar so I just used caster sugar. 

After the first rest I mixed the butter and salt in by hand to make sure everything was incorporated properly, and put it into a clean bowl for the first rise. 

My sister and I have made it a tradition to make hot cross buns ever since she moved to Melbourne so I was a bit sad that she was working a split shift and  wouldn't be here to help. However she turned up just in time to do the crosses. Yay! 

As you can see we just spooned the cross mix on, rather than pipe then. The cross mix may have been a little thin as they spread a bit. Never mind, they taste amazing and that's all that matters! Next time though, I think a bit of egg wash or a milk glaze, would give them a prettier finish.

Wishing you all a yummy Easter


Monday, 14 April 2014

This week

While I spent a considerable amount of time with my face against oh so soft and milky smelling baby head and enjoyed feeling that fluttery sparrow heart against my chest, we still found time to get out and about.  This week:

My lovely Mum Made: banana loaf. It was different but really delicious and so healthy I had to smear it with a little butter just to naughty it up a little! It's now sliced and frozen for quick and easy snacks.

I also got my niece, Ballerina, (nearly 11) over to entertain Bug and to make some Easter treats. We made Coconut Loaf (easy and tasty), Chocolate Fudge and bunny bickies. the cutter was a very sweet pressie from my Aunty Sue-sue. We used the recipe that came with cutter and it wasn't amazing... But they look cute so hey!

Visited: feeling like we all needed fresh air and sunshine after a few days of rain (I think Bug was getting cabin fever) we had our first Sunday outing to Myuna Farm, Doveton. It was a really lovely morning out (I will do a write up on it soon), and Bug had a ball, raced off some of her excess energy and got to ride a train and a pony. Too cute!

Only minutes from Myuna Farmaway is the Dandenong Market so we stocked up on fresh veggie (so cheap and really really fresh) and fish. I still don't know what fish to buy in Aussie. In NZ I'm familiar with what I'm buying flavour wise, it's a guessing game here with anything other than snapper, whitehead and barramundi. (Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated). We went with sea bream, which was very mild so good for kiddos who don't like fishy fish, and salmon cause it looked so beautiful!

Have a great week


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

This week

This week (well actually last week) we:

Waited, and while we waited we-

Made: Corn flour paint. Lots of great reviews on the website but personally it didn't win me over. Perhaps I made it too thin, so  maybe we will attempt it again, but I prefer the texture, and colour intensity of this one. 

Visited: the Mornington Civic Reserve. Feed the ducks, let the dogs off in the leash free areas, swing, slide, climb and clamber in the park, have a picnic lunch in the Rose garden and visit the art gallery, all in one beautiful place. 

And the Redhill market, crafts and food, lamas... there's something for everyone! We went home with delicious musli, fresh figs, fruit sour dough, hot chocolate powder and a cat toy.  If you see the Italian doughnuts they are amazing!! 

Googled: Studies into the disinfecting power of white vinegar, because why use a host of chemicals if you don't have too. 

And then on Saturday evening she arrived. And she's amazing...