30 March 2006

in a nutshell

Lately there has been a great deal of this …

work

… and not nearly enough of this

play

Hopefully next week I will have an essay under my belt and I can indulge in more knitting, muffin-eating and tea-drinking.



Generic Muffin Recipe

1/2 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 cup white self-raising flour
2/3 cup sugar
dash coconut
1 mashed banana (optional)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
handful of flavourings (nuts, seeds, dried fruit)

Sift dry ingredients and toss in your flavourings. Mix together and add wet ingredients. Stir quickly and roughly until just combined (do not overmix) and spoon into a muffin pan. Bake for about 15 minutes in a moderate (180 Celsius) oven.

Makes 12.
I always do double quantity and freeze half for lunchboxes and knitting-related emergencies.

Flavouring ideas:
Choc chips (add a dash of cocoa to the flour)
Orange/lemon and poppyseed (replace some of the milk with juice and add a bit of zest)
Date and walnut (add a dash of coffee to the mix)
Apple and sultana/raisin
Dried apricot and sunflower seeds
Pear and ginger
Raspberry and white chocolate





I leave you with a (knitting) joke.

My mum and I were driving somewhere recently when a discussion about homosexuality came on the radio. The guest said jokingly to the host, in an exaggeratedly camp voice, My mother made me a homosexual.
Quick as a flash my mother said Ooh, if I gave her the wool, would she make me one too?

27 March 2006

a belated thank you

I have been very slack in showing off the wondrous goodies that the delicious Sueeeus (who has moved – go look at her glorious new blog and check out those exotic eyes) sent me for my birthday recently. The packaging was simply divine, and useful. Look.

gift packaging

Each gift was wrapped in beautiful blue and white fabric, that will go into the stash for my blue quilt (which I will make one day … cough).

Inside the little blue parcels were …

gifts

… the raspberry handbag spookily destined to go with the raspberry hat, (and it does, beautifully), a lovely rustic bread knife to match my rustic house, and a decidedly non-rustic purple (Sueeeus says it’s blue but it changed hues somewhere over the Pacific cos it is most definitely purple in this hemisphere) spatula that has fast become my favourite kitchen utensil. Heavy, double ended, and with a pleasing grip. And in the last fabric wrapped package, was a selection of quilting fabrics, in pinks and browns to go into the stash for my pink and brown quilt (which I will make one day … cough). I liked that little quirk though; fabric wrapped in fabric. Oh look I used a semi colon. How pretentious.

Anyway I am a lucky lucky person. Thank you again, my friend.

Oh yeah and see the little Quilting Girl and Knitting Girl tins? Filled with scrumptious mints that look suspiciously like ecstasy. Um, not that I know what ecstasy tablets look like, I’m just guessing that’s why the parcel took longer than expected to get through Customs and sent Sueeeus into a mild decline.

And it’s so long after my birthday now, that it’s time you all crashed the server at Sueeeus' new blog by all logging on at once to wish HER a happy birthday (for tomorrow).

And oh my giddy aunt I haven’t even assembled her birthday parcel yet, I’m such a slack friend.



This is a test. Thanks capello.

25 March 2006

in which I succumb to the Commonwealth Games

I decided it was high time to get over my Bah Humbug attitude towards the Games.

So the Soup family, with the interstate parents in tow, (oh by the way, I got my visiting mum to cut my hair, thereby postponing the evil day when I attempt to do it myself for another couple of months, thought you’d be interested to know) set off into town to participate. Not in any of the sporting events, mind. No, we went along to the river precinct to partake of the festival atmosphere and mix with the hoi polloi. Yeah, we went to the free stuff.

Besides, everyone had told us we shouldn’t miss the fish.

singapore guppy

Behold. The Fish.

tuvalu fish

Just for my dear PILL.

tuvalu fish2

There is a fish on the river for each of the countries participating in the Commonwealth Games. Seventy-one of them, all in a fishy procession heading up the Yarra to the MCG. When night falls, on the hour every hour the fish indulge in a kind of sound and light show, featuring, um, sound, and light, and spraying water, all to music. It’s astonishing, and quite lovely. The fish change colour and water jets dance to Under the Milky Way Tonight by The Church; a beautiful song that featured strongly in the Opening Ceremony, which othershave blogged about far better than I can so I will not repeat here. Unfortunately all the pictures I took of the fish performance were duds. Too dark and blurry. Suffice to say The Fish are an enchanting experience. Go see The Fish if you haven’t already.

We saw many other wondrous things.

The circus was permanently full every time we passed, so we settled for the comedians, jugglers, cricketers on stilts …

it's just not cricket

… and being stalked by dinosaurs.

dinosaur

Bagpipes and drummers did their thing, sending picnicking families into a spin as they realised their picnic rugs were right in the path of the oncoming men in skirts …

bagpipes
drums

… Son #3 indulged in a little air guitar when a band appeared onstage …

air guitar2

…and the velvety night gradually crept over us.

night grasses

Melbourne put on beautiful balmy weather, as it has done for the entire two weeks of the Games, and the mood in the city was abuzz.

flags

But the best came last.

strange fruit1

Strange Fruit.

strange fruit2

Doing their entrancing, mesmerising thing, as only they can.
At night, up on their huge bendy poles, swaying and dancing against the black sky.

strange fruit3

We watched open mouthed for nearly an hour as they swayed, bent, twirled, flirted and danced to an eclectic soundtrack. The wind rippled the women’s long dresses and their hair flew as they lunged and wheeled gracefully across the sky.

At the end I realised I had momentarily lost Son #2. I spotted him nearby and, calling, I stretched my arm out across three people to grasp his hand. He did the same, but just as our hands were about to meet, he slowly arched his arm back over his head and back to mine again in a joyful giggling echo of the dancers who had swayed and reached and touched and swayed again. It was a magic moment.

strange fruit4

It was a magic night.





(PS. No one got the location right in my Where Am I Competition, however Jorth was the closest with her guess of Cumberland River. We were actually a little further along the Great Ocean Road at Wye River. A couple of hours drive out of Melbourne.)

22 March 2006

Confessions

Kim started this and so far I’ve read hers, Bec’s, Badger’s, Blackbird’s, Joke's, Babelbabe’s, and am off to read Susie’s next but I have to be feeling brave cos those gorgeous retro graphics stress out my computer and it quietly dies on me. (Sorry Susie).

Anyway, it seems everyone here cuts their own hair, or does obscene things to their cuticles. I am proud to say I DON’T do the cuticle thing, although I was a nailbiter as a child. You are all just warped and sick. I’m warming to the idea of cutting my own hair though, for reasons revealed below.

So. My confessions.

• I lie awake at night cursing myself and sobbing for psychologically destroying my firstborn. Then I remember that he is the prototype and it’s in his job description to be the one screwed up by his amateur parent. Besides it makes up for the fact that he always gets the new bike and his brothers will never ever get a new bicycle until they leave home and purchase one for themselves.

• Like Bec, I cut my own kids’ hair. Why? For the same reason Bec does. (Oh yeah, plus it’s cheaper). But really, why are lice so prevalent these days? We seem to have finally got them under control, but eliminated? Not a hope. And this leads me to …

• I have the worst straggly split-end hair in the southern hemisphere (cunningly hidden cos I wear it fetchingly up every single day) because I have not been to the hairdresser for about six months. Why not? Well, clearly because I am a loving, hands-on, devoted mother who is constantly up close and personal with her sproglets, particularly a certain seven year old who likes to climb into my bed and snuggle up really really close. You see where I am going here? Yes. You read it here, on my blog. Suse has lice. I’m not infested, mind. And I haven’t actually found one on myself for months (and believe me I check OBSESSIVELY, all the time), so I probably actually don’t have lice, but it’s the mere thought of them that turns me to a quivering wreck. Ever since my ever so swanky inner city cool hairdresser told me how they hadn’t seen lice in years in their salon but if they do, the protocol is that the client has to leave IMMEDIATELY, in the middle of the cut, and the whole place has to be sterilised top to bottom and the poor unfortunate slovenly slattern, uh … loving dutiful mother can never show her face there again. Well, I have this recurring nightmare. You see? So, I am coming round to Bec’s and Blackbird’s idea of cutting my own hair. Because although I would be disgusted if I found creatures in my hair, I would never stoop so low as to banish myself.

I just wanna know, how do you do the back?

• I am annoyed that two of my favourite blogs only became regular reads of mine AFTER they had their babies. I missed the birth stories. I love birth stories. I can’t remember reading Babelbabe’s blog before the arrival of Terzo, and I had only just discovered Kim and Bec a couple of weeks prior to Jasper’s arrival. So I wasn’t emotionally involved, you know? I didn’t get all warm and fuzzy and full of strong urges to send small knitted garments through the post. Sorry. I know I could trawl the archives and re-live the pregnancies, but it’s not the same.

• An hour ago I just admitted in front of my husband, three children and parents, that I could happily run away with John Hannah. And Robson Green. And Andrew Denton. And Cate Blanchett. And possibly even Annette Bening.

• I am totally non-streetwise. I have no knowledge of popular culture. I have no idea who Jessica Simpson is and why she should be naked on anyone’s couch. Nor do I know who Jennifer Love Hewitt or Ben Lee are. Sometimes I feel old fashioned and like I should start scouring Who Weekly and get with it (man). But mostly I couldn’t give a shit.

• I swear sometimes. But I think that’s the first time I have done so on my blog.

• I don’t know how to make my fonts smaller or change colours, or do strikethrough. I am too lazy to find out, and am just confessing this in the hope that someone will tell me in the comments section.

• People who can't spell annoy me.

• I hate that I can see all my flaws in my children. (They do have a gazillion good points, I just don’t think they get them from me). Son #1 has all my neuroses, lack of social grace, paralysing shyness and general nervy-ness. Son #2 has inherited my meanness, bitchiness and self-loathing. Son #3 has, well, just my general fragility and propensity to burst into tears at the drop of a hat. I hate myself for bequeathing these things to three poor innocents. (However, #1 got my blue eyes, #2 my ability to spell, and #3 is just fabulous).

• I adore my children with a passion that frightens me. But many nights I cannot wait until 8pm and they’re all gone.

• I quite like my husband too, but I love solitude.

• I have a patch of stress eczema on the top of my head. I only recently learned that not only do heaps of women have this, but that it has a name. I scratch and pick it until it bleeds, so it never heals. This revolts me but I am comforted by the thought that I’m not alone.

• I am a lazy slob. I don’t mop my floors. I vacuum and sweep when I have to (ie. hardly ever) but if the floor needs washing I get the dog to lick it.

• I am a food nazi.

• I think most people are less intelligent than I am. God what a horrible snob I am.

That is all.
If I confessed the rest you’d send Child Protection Services over.

21 March 2006

Close, but no cigar

More pictures from the week away.
And by the way, no one has guessed the correct location. (Hint: head a little further west).

beach lone boy

rock formation

Son #1’s masterpiece.

castle

sandy toes

This koala was in a tree next to our site for two days.

koala cute

Son #2 did what any Dr Doolittle-ish child would do. Climbed the tree for an up close and personal experience. I tossed the camera up to him on a wing and a prayer, and he took a couple of shots. Then, carefully judging the situation for himself, he reached gently out and stroked the koala’s nose. The koala shook its head slowly so he backed off. But then, the koala leaned toward him, moving its head so the boy’s outstretched fingers ended up behind its ears. As #2 caressed and scratched, the koala moved its head about just as a cat does when it wants you to scratch it all over and in particular little places.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

koala close

20 March 2006

She's baaaaack ... and she's sunburnt

I’m going to do a kimbofo here and say …

Where in the world am I?

Prize to the first correct guess.
Hint: it’s not Barbados, or Ibiza, or Fiji. Or even Port Douglas.
Think a little more low-rent, and local.

beach1

beach2

beach sunny1

beach brave

15 March 2006

Goodbye and gobblers

We’re heading off for five days of camping on the coast, partly to rejuvenate and partly to escape the madness that is the Commonwealth Games. So until next week, goodbye and gobblers.*

I leave you with a photograph.

sunsetb





* Son #1 once asked my mother, Nana, why do you always say goodbye and gobblers? She replied through tears of laughter It’s god bless, my love. God bless.

13 March 2006

Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it. – David Lee Roth

Son #3’s latest purchase.
One of those mesmerising balancing birds.

Not content with balancing it on its little accompanying pyramid thingy, or something so prosaic as his finger, he decided to experiment.

His nose …
birdnose

… and here it is on his elbow.

birdelbow

Two dollars of his pocket money well spent.

9 March 2006

thursday bits and pieces

Report on the last couple of days ...

**************************

How can computers be temperamental? I mean, they're machines. Why does a computer accept one's photographs happily one day and then the next just pout and refuse to even acknowledge that I'm ramming a camera cable into its nether regions? HELLO ... I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT.

So, I had all these lovely photos to show you but it is not to be.

You will be devastated to learn that I cannot show you the various vases and old crockery purchased by my children at the op shop for the occasion of my birthday.

You will cry when I say that you cannot see the grass seed sprouting in a pathetic attempt to create a lawn here in the Australian semi-bush environment.

But you will be inconsolable when you hear that I cannot show you the goodies that arrived in the mail for me from my friend across the seas. Oh, I have been so spoilt! Thank you so much Sueeeus.

*********************************

Today at 11.00 am, a Winnie the Pooh relay reading was held on the steps of the State Library of Victoria. Several well known Victorians, including William McInnes, Terry Bracks and Ron Barassi, to name an eclectic few, took turns in reading from A.A. Milne's classic. Local radio got in on the act and invited listeners to ring in and recite their favourite Pooh passage (oh go away now ...) or poem. I listened happily to Mary from Mornington reciting James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree (took great care of his mother though he was only three) as I sped along the freeway.

************************************

Tonight the school had a Twilight Market. The inaugural market for what is hoped to become a once a term event.

I bit the bullet and collected a whole lot of craft stuff from a friend and my own stash and held a stall. My first market stall since the same friend and I used to sell our own creations, plus vintage clothes, at Camberwell Market, twenty years ago. Gulp! Gosh I sound old.

Anyway it was great fun, I sold several things and people made nice noises, Son #1 watched his friend busk on the didgeridoo and wondered whether next time he should join him on his violin, and Son #3 vomited violently over the woman on the stall next to mine. I also swapped one of my knitted flannels for a stripey knitted hat from the stripey knitted hats stall. Not that we need any more woolly hats in this household but the stallholder had spent all her money and really really wanted one of my flannels and I was so very very flattered that I couldn't refuse. And it will make a decent birthday gift for someone.

Again, no photographic evidence. I'll try again tomorrow to see if the computer's mood has improved.

***************************************

Yesterday was International Women's Day.
Did you all go out and hug each other?
I honour the sisterhood every year by turning another year older and eating birthday cake purchased at the very last minute from the supermarket by my non-cake-baking husband.

***************************************

If anyone is looking for my show and tell: your eye, I hereby direct them to this from the archives.

***************************************

That is all.

Thank you.

7 March 2006

self portrait Tuesday

reflection1

I haven’t looked up the theme of this month’s self portrait Tuesday, but I was taking photos of our view, as is my wont lately, turned around and caught sight of myself (always an unnerving experience) as clearly as if in a mirror.

I like how the view of the hills is behind me, and if you look closely you can see all my books (well, some of my books ...) on the shelves in the house. Kind of sums up me at the moment.

You can also see the dining table.
So here’s a recipe.

Ten Minute Tortilla

3 large potatoes, steamed in their jackets
several good slurps of olive oil
6 or 7 eggs
salt & pepper
grated cheeses (cheddar and parmesan)

Slice the cooked potatoes into rounds of about 1/4 inch or 5mm thickness. Heat the olive oil in a large frypan and cook the potatoes for a few minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Cook gently until the bottom is done, sprinkle the cheeses on top and finish under a hot grill until golden. Cut into wedges and serve with a green salad. It’s great served cold for lunch the next day too.

That’s the basic recipe. I usually add onion, and the odd vegetable such as grated zucchini or finely diced broccoli. Sliced tomatoes are nice too, added on top with the cheese. But it’s great and very simple just with the potato.





PS. I am destined not to see Brokeback Mountain. Last night was the second attempt … the first time it was sold out and we had to see Broken Flowers, in which Bill Murray steps straight off the set of Lost in Translation and onto that of Broken Flowers without breaking stride or facial expression. Last night due to unforeseen events we ended up seeing the new Woody Allen movie Match Point, or, Woody goes to London, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ lips and Scarlett Johanssen’s breasts. I quite enjoyed it, especially as Rupert Penry-Jones has a small walk-on part, and oh Jane, I might have to arm wrestle you for him.

5 March 2006

I was going to call this post 'Minestrone' but that would result in some frustrated Googlers

Gosh. That musing-out-loud elicited quite a response.
Believe me when I say I wasn’t asking for validation or fishing for compliments.
But also believe me when I drop pathetically to my knees and whimper humbly Thank you!

Glancing at the last post now I realise I neglected to add the asterisk to match the one about what I’m reading. Did you wonder what the heck I was on about? Gilead. Great book.

I think I misspelled 'humorous' too. I need a sub-editor. Bec?

Here, have a look at some colours.

wool

Son #3 received this beautiful thick 16ply yarn and homemade needles for his birthday. See the gumnuts on the end of the needles? While we have a house full of knitting needles, this is the first pair he has owned.

In Steiner schools, the Prep children fingerknit, not graduating to needles until Class 1, which is where he is this year. Of course being a third child, Son #3 has been knitting properly for about six months now (clearly a child prodigy), on circular needles no less, making himself a hat in blues and greens. He has plans to turn these warm colours into a scarf. He likes to make a statement, that one.

Speaking of statements …

red glads

I came over all Dame Edna-ish.


PS. I will not be around tomorrow. I shall be in the hallowed halls of learning, immersing myself in Elizabethan history, then seeing Brokeback Mountain. Talk amongst yourselves.

3 March 2006

what am I? where am I?

I have been pondering just where I fit in, in the blogosphere.

Over on my left are the crafty blogs.
I read these and weep.
These clever women post beautifully styled photographs of their witty dolls, funky aprons, adorable knitted garments, ever so sweet toys and a gazillion homemade bags/scarves/embroideries, and even in one frightening case, homemade shoes.
They also complete a craft project per day, it seems.

I cannot hope to join in.
I do sew. I also knit. I have the fabrics for a quilt. Not to mention the book which contains the quilt I will one day construct (with my own quirky, nonconformist, individual touches of course).
But these women make me feel utterly, hopelessly, inadequate.

Over on my write (hahahahaha I’m sooo hilarious), are the literary blogs.
I read these and weep also.
These clever women (and the odd bloke) post about how they work in libraries, stop at other libraries and several bookshops on their way home and collect six or seven tomes, which they read overnight and then blog about, in between cooking dinner, checking the offsprings’ homework and breastfeeding the baby. They are always up on the goss regarding the latest plagiarism scandal, who one should and shouldn’t read, and who is reminiscent of whom. Or is that who?

I cannot hope to join in.
I do read. I read books,* articles, journals, essays, the newspaper, magazines.
Why, I even started my own wildly successful bookgroup two years ago.
But I cannot complete a book per day, while also running a home, holding down a part time job, studying, caring for three children, and attempting to keep up with the crafty people (see above).

Then there are the exquisite-to-look-at photography and arty blogs on neither my left or right but floating around in the ether because they are artistic and thus cannot be compartmentalised.
I don’t even bother weeping when I read these blogs as I cannot draw, paint or sculpt to save my life. Also I’m too busy trying to keep up with my craft (see above) and reading (see above) to learn still life drawing/calligraphy/photography/pastels. AND THEN BLOG ABOUT IT.

There are, of course, myriad other blogs.
Parenting blogs, bitchy blogs, humourous blogs, novel-writing blogs, blogs shared with friends, philosophical blogs, foodie blogs.
Each one so defined, so sure of itself.

I am not so sure of myself.
I have always written, read, knitted, sewed, baked. Bitched.
But I couldn’t possibly have a blog devoted to only one of these pursuits. I envy these blog owners their singlemindedness.

But I am just not like that.
So …do I fit in? Probably not.
I am a dabbler.

But a happy dabbler, I think.


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Highly recommended.

Here are Son #2’s latest photographs.

His dog.
Front and back.
The child cracks me up.

sailorfront


sailorback

2 March 2006

spelling bee

Things driving me B.A.R.M.Y currently.

Bananas. How can a family of five go through so many bananas? I eat approximately one every two weeks, so it’s not me. Who has the potassium craving? I know, I know. Better they scavenge from the fruit bowl than raid the pantry* for lollies or biscuits I guess.

Animals. There is a small scratching sound in the wall between the laundry and the bathroom. Son #1 was in the bath last night and called out to us nervously I think the echidna has found a way in! Also, those small squeaking noises in the lounge room ceiling that I thought were geckoes? I suspect they’re tiny bats. The wee, adorable-looking [and protected] ones, but bats nonetheless.

Recipes. The drudgery of thinking up a family meal every night of the week. It’s been spaghetti bolognaise for the past two nights. I must lift my game tonight. I’m thinking green salad with Ten Minute Tortilla, followed by apple crumble with cream.

Marble track. The bane of my life. They build it, the marbles run through it and I invariably tread on a loose marble in bare feet, usually when carrying a hot beverage.** Then trying to collect the stray marbles from our brick floor is akin to herding cats.

Yes. As in Yes, Son #1?
Yes, Son #2?
Yes, Son #3?

All.Day.Long.
I gave the boys a home day today, because Son #2 has a cold and headache and slight fever, and then Son #1 announced he has a sore throat, and there is no way I’m driving all the way to school just for one child. (Bad mother, bad mother). So now I pay the price as I am trying to work (with short breaks for blogging) and every three and a half minutes I am interrupted by plaintive calls of Mu-um! With two syllables. In the end I subdued them with the storytape of Michael Morpurgo reading ‘Robin of Sherwood’. Three hours of listening. Three hours of peace.

* Son #2 has been calling the pantry the larder lately. I must remind him Enid Blyton is not the only decent children’s author from the twentieth century.
**I love the word beverage. A peculiarly American term. Like vehicle. I enjoy the formality of these words. Australians [and the English?] would just say ‘hot drink’ and ‘car’.

Hey, wanna see my calendar?

calendar

Our calendar.
A pretty amateurish production, but endearingly so. And the profits went to a good cause.

filofax

My filofax.
Purchased this year in a feeble attempt to make me organised and feel … uh … hip. It isn’t working.

Can you believe Show and Tell moved to Thursdays because of a tv show? Me neither. But I do what I am told.



Sometimes.