Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grateful for

Today I'm grateful for:

1.Sunshine! I love Winter but my kiddliwinks really need their outdoor time. The cold and damp had us all coughing and sneezing and we were just sick of being cooped up.
2. Holidays! So nice to spend time with my babies... Lots of cuddles and giggles. Lots of time to answer strange questions and tell stories. Looking forward to my four day weeks next term.
3.Nights out! A lot of landmark birthdays in our group this year... So nice to leave our responsibilities to one side for a night of fun with friends. We might be sporting a lot of grey hair, but we still remember how to make each other laugh. So much fun :)

Linking up to Maxabella Loves grateful list at Kidspot :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Verona artwork

We had such a happy, relaxing time in Verona earlier this year and I wanted to make something as a personal reminder. Something small, but something I could look at and smile while I remembered what a beautiful few days were spent with my little family.

My house is a little bit old fashioned on the inside - we have a country style kitchen with small blue tiles on the tops and up the walls, stained glass in our cabinets and blue trimming sneaking out around our house with the lower half of our walls painted eggshell blue (it's ok, it's not as weird as it sounds). I wanted something classic and blue, I thought kind of like a Willow dinnerplate but with a difference.

While we were at Juliet's house (as in Romeo and Juliet, as in the girl who inspired the novella that inspired Shakespeare to write his play) I saw some plate fragments that had been unearthed and pieced together and I knew they might help me in my quest.

I also wanted to incorporate some Italian phrasing I'd seen on a travel show. Apparently, on a bridge to Tiber Island, in Rome, there is grafitti which reads "Ti amo da qui... alla fine del mondo.. di nuovo qui... all'infinito..." which roughly translates as "I love you from here.. to the end of the world.. to here again, on and on forever." It's the sort of way we feel about each other round here!

So here it is: rocks, waves, leaves, love... and since it's done in sharpie, it will last infinito!

And in case you were interested, here are some of the plate pieces from Juliet's house:

Mr Z managed to sneak into this one ;)

and me on Juliet's balcony ;)

and he's done it again!

So... what do you think?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Masterchef... fing..?

We're not sure how or why, but somehow our kids have become experts on Masterchef. Not sure if this shows anywhere but Australia, but it involves amateur chefs battling it out in the kitchen. They prepare amazing dishes using supermarket bought products and then wait on the decision of a panel of foodies to see who will stay and who goes home. Much like a dozen other reality shows, really, but usually it's good, clean, family fun.

The funny thing is, it starts at bedtime, so the kids have rarely seen more than the opening credits as J and I run between cleaning up the kitchen, brushing teeth and getting stories read to our little darlings. It has been running since they were infants, it used to be cute to watch them bobbing up and down to the music while praying they didn't pay too much attention to the smiling, knife-wielding people on-screen!

Despite this limited exposure, Masterchef was very first thing that Miss Piggy added to our school holiday to-do list. Maybe they're playing it in the sandpit at school or something because she had very explicit instructions:

... we'll each have fifteen minutes... we have to make three dishes... there'll be a timer... we'll need a judge... oh, I'll need an apron... mum, you can only go to the fridge once... who will be first to go?

So.... today was 'Masterchef Monday' and J went to work with some trepidation. I think, "I'm afraid to what I might come home to find" were the exact words he used. The girls in this family do not list cleaning up as a strong suit.

Miss Piggy discovered that softdrink does not become jelly, no matter how long you leave it in the fridge.

We feasted on Agrum in a pie dish, bananas with whipped cream eaten from a muffin tray (with plastic spoons at my insistence - didn't want my tray scratched) and chocolate mug cakes (that's what I whipped up as a contestant).

Mr Z played 'judge' and said things like, "Mum has more experience in the kitchen but I like that you made two dishes", "you should have realised that your jelly would not set" and "I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave the Masterchef kitchen".

In all, the morning was considered a grand success, and they've already started begging for a repeat next Monday!

Here's my Chocolate Mug Cake recipe:

4 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp milo
handful of m&ms/choc buttons
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1.5 tbsp oil
dash of vanilla essence
extra m&ms/buttons to garnish

1. Add ingredients in order, stirring as each is added.
2. Microwave for 3 minutes (1000W microwave)
3. Serve with cream/icecream on a plate or eat straight from the mug.

Easy enough for kids to do independently :) Fun to eat. Ingredients we all have in our cupboards!

School holiday fun

This is the first time we'll be spending more than a week at home in over six months. No school, no work, absolutely nothing to do... hooray!

I have all sorts of things to mend, sort and tidy but we'll also make time for some holiday fun :) Filling two weeks seemed a bit daunting until I asked the kids what to do with sixteen days at home. Here is the list we made:

* newspaper craft - pirate hats and boats (Dunno where she saw this, but I love it cos it's cheap!)
* jewelry making (the plastic bead and elastic type)
* pet rocks
* face painting
* grocery shopping (*Mr Z* came up with this one! Again, cheap and cheerful, who knew they were so easily pleased?)
* sewing a dress (am thinking a pillowcase dress will be simple enough to make together)
* find a new playground to play in
* Sleepover at Nana and Papa's (hooray! We can have some kid-free time)
* treasure hunt in the backyard
* golf (Daddy can take them to the driving range and I might have a nap!)
* open a cafe on our balcony
* get haircuts (it seems I won't even need to bribe them)
* build a city with lego and wooden train tracks
* have a fire in our backyard (if it ever stops raining)
* movie night in our PJs
* Masterchef -ing (more about that later)

Can't wait to start ticking things off the list!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hmmm... Mack? or Mater?

Yesterday my small boy turned two. I, being the sentimental mother, cried twice because I no longer have a baby in my house.

It hurts when they turn two. No more shopping in the baby section, no more specially prepared dinners since they seem to be able to hang out until family dinner time. More rules, more nos, less cuddles, more "I do it!" moments. They don't need you so much at two. And really, isn't being needed one of the nicest things about motherhood? Being actually useful, indespensible, the only one who can do your job. You're kind of replaceable in all your other roles in life.

Remember here I said I feel obligated to provide 'repeat experiences' so that all of my kids got the same opportunities in childhood? I will get around to writing about the other silly things I've done one of these days. Well, the home-made and decorated birthday cake is one of those burdens obligations I have handed myself. I try to make them a cake that represents their interests at that moment in time. With Mr Z about to turn 7, I'm wondering when it will all end - age 10? Whoa, that's 30 cakes I have to devise and create. Easier said than done.

Anyway. I set the bar kind of high with my other kids' cakes, so I knew this one had to be special. My little M doesn't really have favourite activities (except stealing my iPhone), he doesn't have a favourite teddy to cuddle, he doesn't have any real obsessions (except yoghurt, and throwing things down the stairs). But he does seem to gravitate toward a certain 'hand-me-down' Mack Truck which transforms into a race track. So I decided to go with that.

I made it the night before after three glasses of wine (we'd been at another party), am concerned it's a little more red Mater than Mack Truck, but the kids seemed to like it. I misjudged the hat size when I cut the cake blocks, I hadn't realised how central Mack's Trucker cap was to the character before I started. Although, that was probably due to the wine, it seems so obvious now!!!

Anyone wanting some tips from a *very* amateur cake maker? I always think it's best to learn from other people's mistakes, don't you?!

  • I laid THREE layers of rolled out white icing over the cake.  
  • I learned (this time around) that rolling the icing on a piece of glad wrap and smoothing over the cake with the glad wrap still on top is the best way to make the outline smooth (again, maybe obvious to most, but I'm no cake-maker!).  
  • I tried dying the white icing with pillar-box red food colouring, but couldn't get past pink. I ended up covering with white icing and painting the whole thing with a watercolour brush and a bowl of the red food colouring. That was one coat of red (because it was midnight and I was exhausted). I think two or three layers would give the best result.
  • The grey pipes at the back are drinking straws I covered in grey dyed icing and then poked into the cake.
  • This time I baked mud cake as sponge cake would have just collapsed under the weight of the icing (again, things I learned the hard way)
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)