Monday, April 30, 2012

A Nana Knit

My Mama has serious talent when it comes to making handmade garments. I wish I had even an ounce of the skill she possesses, when it comes to picking up a pair of knitting needles and creating a masterpiece. We have many beautiful jumpers, cardigans, hats and booties around the place. Not to mention a handful of lovely woollen throws, for the lounge and beds.

Her latest work is a jumper she lovingly put together for Felix. The baby of her eighteen grandchildren. A beautiful choccie brown, with cream stripes across the chest and shoulders. Reminds me of a choc-vanilla ice-cream. Adorable when coordinated with a pair of corduroy pants or dark denim jeans. And just perfect for the increasingly chilly days we're experiencing, now that Autumn is well and truly upon us. 

It's a task & a half getting this cheeky boy to stand still long enough to capture a detailed shot of the subject.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

One On One

Sometimes I underestimate the importance of Angus and I spending time together. Just the two of us. Monkeying about. Doing nothing much in particular. So on Friday, after another rather testing week with the boys, we headed for a drive after lunch. My full intention to get Felix to sleep in the pram and leave the afternoon open for my biggest boy and I to have some fun. And my plan came to fruition.

We love a new park find and this one located not too far from my parent's place, is a beauty. A picturesque setting and oodles of play equipment, made for a couple of hours of non-stop enjoyment. Angus is a big fan of the flying fox and he was thrilled with the giant one on offer. Which just so happened to be deserted, so we had free reign. And of course, he didn't have to ask me twice to jump on and have a go. Like a couple of crazy kids squealing with laughter as we chased each other down, again and again, in the warm afternoon sun. Perfectly simple one on one time. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A New Era

After seven long years, we traded in our faithful old Ford Fiesta this week. Such a reliable little car and one filled with so many wonderful memories. But, we have been a family for almost four and a half years and until now, have not owned a 'family' car. We managed while it was just Angus... then Felix arrived and from that moment the compact hatchback became decidedly more squashy.

We are quite taken with our new (second hand) purchase. The difference in size, power, handling and comfort, compared to what we've been accustomed to, is immense. Driving is indeed a pleasure again. So like a teenager with their first set of wheels, I've been jumping at any chance to get behind the wheel. No doubt the novelty will wear off, in time and I'll be back to driving for necessity's sake. Until then, life is a highway for me and my boys. And the start of a brand new era for our family of four. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Water's Edge

We've had some wild and woolly weather here this week. Strong winds, torrential rain and snap storms that seem to materialise out of the clear blue sky. The temperature has also started to fall and the first signs of chilly Winter days and nights are upon us. These days make for fantastic photo opportunities. And yesterday, the boys and I drove down to one of my favourite stretches of water. I have been visiting this spot for years. At times, as a midway point during a long run along the coast. At times walking Angus in the pram when he was a wee fellow. And at other times, just to breathe in the fresh, salty air and admire the beautiful rock formations. Made even more spectacular after the rain. 

Joining in with Faith Hope & a whole lotta Love for 'Snap It' and this week's topic of: Water

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anzac Biscuits (Choc-Slathered)

Today I was on an Anzac bikkie baking mission. It's a tradition for me to whip up a batch for Anzac Day every year and I wasn't about to break with tradition... or maybe just a little. Over the years, I have attempted that many recipe variations of the humble Anzac biscuit, I really don't have a favourite one. If anything, I'm totally confused as to what is the right combo of ingredients and/or preparation to make the perfect cookie.

So this year, I took one straight out of The Women's Weekly Easy Cakes & Biscuits book. Easy! But being the chocoholic sweet tooth that I am, I added my own variation, in what I like to call the 'choc-slathered' version of Anzac bikkies. Totally indulgent. Totally delicious. And if there is any spare chocolate lying around the house... so worth slathering a few of those babies in it.

Anzac Biscuits (Choc-Slathered)

Preparation & cook time: 35mins 

125g (4 ounces) butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g) plain flour

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. 
Line oven trays with baking paper
Stir butter, syrup and water in large saucepan over low heat until smooth
Remove from heat; stir in soda then remaining ingredients
Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls
Place about 5cm (2 inches) apart on trays, flatten slightly
Bake about 20mins
Cool on trays


I used approx 150g Cadbury Dairy Milk
Melted in a heat proof jug, sitting in a small saucepan 
of boiling water
Then generously coated the underside of a handful of bikkies

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farewell Baby Thumb

We all breathed a small sigh of relief at the return of preschool today. I love having my biggest boy around and miss him when he's not nipping at my heels, but he NEEDS preschool these days. He's no longer the thoroughly dependent baby I held back from day care until three years of age. Nor is he the shy fellow I agonised over changing preschools for, at the end of last year. The reality is, he has grown so much this past year. In size and stature. Bursting with confidence and enthusiasm. 

I'm glad I captured a few shots of 'Baby Thumb' while the phase lasted. It is one of those adorable things I'd like to remember... but a dependency I knew had to run it's course, sooner than later. So as the habitual wrapping of the thumb has gradually slipped away, without fuss, I'm both relieved and a little saddened. Baby Thumb, we will always hold a special place for you, in our hearts. And we'll cherish these memories forever. 

Angus & 'Baby Thumb' ...three years of age

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Straw

This week has been a wild old one. The weather, the behaviour, the moods. Just all round scattiness. And it's made me uneasy. I genuinely love what I do. Relish in the moments, big and small. Feel so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity of being home with my boys. I'm a lucky gal... and I know it. But the relentless nature of what I do, every so often, gets me down. Becomes too much. Too intense. Too suffocating. Just knowing when and how to breathe at times like this, is essential. Trying to stay rational and centred, is an added bonus. 

We spent a lovely day with my Mama today. Sure, we had a couple of meltdowns along the way. But overall a really enjoyable walk around the harbour, some lunch, an icecream and even catching a bit of street theatre. Then, getting on the bus to come home, a lady was rude to me. She pushed past me, Angus and a sleeping Felix in the stroller, as I struggled to navigate the tight entrance to the bus. Muttering something in a cranky tone as she went. I wondered in that instant, had she ever had children or does she have grandchildren? I know for certain, my Nana would never and my Mama wouldn't treat anyone that way. So when I approached her once I'd boarded the bus and she was in the process of whinging to another passenger about 'mother's with prams'... I saw red. I confronted her on whether she honestly had a problem with my pram and she snapped coldly, something about 'just wanting to get on the bus'. So I called her a 'nasty old woman' and went back to my seat.

She would have been in her sixties, so not really that old. But at that point, I was so taken back and blown away by her rudeness, I wanted her to realise her actions and words were uncalled for. And maybe hurt her feelings a bit in the process. It seems the nasty old woman crossed me on a bad week. I very much doubt I would normally react in such a way. Sometimes though, these people are the straw that breaks the camel's back. And so whilst it didn't make me feel any better saying it, it did help me to realise I need to chill out. Let this week and all of it's petty stresses go. Focus on the good things in life and bear in mind the wonderful days, when I encounter only nice people. Days like the one captured in the shots below... last week at The Family Show, with great friends.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nutty Chocolate Slice

It was a strictly indoors day today. Rain tumbled and fell and just when it couldn't possibly bucket down any harder... it fell some more. While the boys ran riot and turned the place upside down, I casually relented to 'go with the flow'. And by nine o'clock this morning, I'd whipped up a tasty little something for the snack container. I found this nutty beauty in a Woolworths Fresh catalogue, with a whole bunch of other Easter themed goodies. But this one really took my eye, with it's pretty purple Cadbury background.

The flavours come together beautifully. And what I really love is there is no fussing with mixers and beaters or creaming butter and sugar etc... I'll be adding this one to the favourites roll. Super simple. Super quick to make. Super, super, sweet.

Joining in with Faith Hope & a whole lotta Love for 'Snap It' and today's topic of: Sweet.

Nutty Chocolate Slice

Preparation time: 20 minutes   Cooking time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup self-rasising flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g butter, melted
150g milk chocolate baking chips 
(I used Cadbury, as per recipe)
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup toasted hazelnuts

Combine the sifted flours in a bowl with the coconut, sugar and butter
Stir to combine
Press into the base of a greased and base-lined slice pan (28 x 18cm)
Bake in a moderate oven 180 (160 degrees fan-forced) for 10 mins
or until lightly browned and cooked through
Scatter chocolate chips evenly over the base
Pour over the condensed milk
Top with hazelnuts
Return to the oven and cook for 25 mins or until golden brown
Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, before slicing

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Afternoon Strolling

In the afternoon, following Felix's nap, we stroll. Well, we begin with a stroll and then like a couple of frenetic puppies, the boys tear off ahead of me. And our stroll becomes a jog. I started this ritual a couple of weeks back, when it became clear to me that the hours between nap time and bed time are often a recipe for disaster. Too much indoor play is not a good scene for this boisterous duo. So we wander down streets and avenues and lanes. Occasionally, we stop at a local park for a play, but mainly it's all about the exploration. Which keeps me on my toes, as I hustle them out of driveways and front yards and off front steps. The workout tires them nicely and induces a sense of calm in their behaviour.

Yesterday was a particularly long session and they both had sweaty brows and rosy cheeks by the time we rounded the corner of our street for home. I'm glad we made the effort, because today the rain has been teeming down. A complete contrast to the glorious Autumn days we have been experiencing. By the time the weather improves, we will all be itching to get strolling again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ebb and Flow

Most days, Scott sends me an email or text message, just to see how the day is going. Invariably, he will also ask how are the boys? And most days, I reply with something like... hectic, but good. Today however, my response went something like this... They're breaking me down and crushing my spirit. Today, that is honestly how I felt. For a fair proportion of the day, I floundered. Drowning beneath a deluge of screaming, crying, cleaning, arguing, shouting, flouncing, cleaning, sulking, tantruming, back chatting, nursing, comforting, cleaning and putting out fires all over the place, to prevent further chaos. Just one of 'those' days all Mama's go through, from time to time.

Angus received a belated birthday present over the weekend from his lovely aunty and uncle. It has been an absolute hit with both boys. And I have to admit, it's been a bit of a saviour for me too, being a toy they can share. Because as often as they are bickering and squabbling, there are plenty of moments when they are amicable and friendly and totally adorable with each other. I took some candids last night to illustrate for my sister-in-law how much fun the boys were having with her thoughtful gift. So today, I have referred back to them on more than a few occasions, to remind me that in fact I do have a pair of charming little boys, underneath it all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Stairs

I had grand plans to wake at five thirty this morning. Instead, I was woken at six, by a grizzly Felix. I stumbled to his room, picked him up, flopped back down on the spare bed and cuddled him to sleep. Until he woke again at eight. Quite unheard of to enjoy a sleep-in of late. It just happened to be the morning I was set to get my training regime back on track.

It has been over four months since I took part in any form of proper exercise. There have been excuses galore. Clingy toddler, feeling tired, feeling sick, feeling flat, weather too cold, weather too wet, don't have time, I'll do it tomorrow... the next day... next week. Then as time draws on, enthusiasm wanes and before I realise, I've convinced myself that exercise is not for me. But I know deep down, that is not the case. And I also know it only takes the right kind of exercise to bring me back to life.

So after much consideration... and a far later start than I had planned... I took on an old nemesis. The stairs. Scott and I used to conquer these stairs many moons ago. We lived just around the corner from them and we'd race each other up and down, until we could barely breathe. Quite possibly the most punishing set of steps I've ever taken on. Heading down offers a certain amount of respite. Going up on the other hand, is torture. I'm not even sure how many there are, though it would be in the vicinity of two hundred. They're steep and nasty and turned my legs to jelly, after my long hiatus from the fitness scene. Afterwards was worth it though. Four sets completed in total, a million dollar view at the top and I felt exhausted, but good. Real good.