Sunday, 29 March 2009

junior chef

Jack and I cooked a batch of black bottomed cupcakes this afternoon. Jack was in charge of stirring and quality control and he did a fine job. The cupcakes turned out well too.
And don't worry, I know it seems that we should be about to explode from all the cupcakes that we consume but these are for other people (don't tell S - he will sulk).

Friday, 27 March 2009

the new deck

The week before my family was due to arrive (or as Garn used to say 'Royalty') S decided that the deck really needed to be replaced. I questioned the logic of this as I has spiders that I had to ask to leave and numerous other things to tidy. But as it turned out S was right in suggesting it. The removal of the boards revealed that they had been supported by, well, nothing. That really is a floating floor. All we needed is everyone to gather at one end of the deck(like they were at Jack's first birthday), make a sudden movement and they'd be propelled into space like a giant springboard. It could have been very exciting.
S removed the boards and did things with joists and cement and bolts and collected his cypress pine boards from Narrandera (what a great smell) and proceeded to lay the boards. He was working with two drills and even so it was slow going and the deadline (ie arrival of guests) loomed.
A drill bit snapped and things looked dicey. They looked worse when he realised he'd miscalculated the amount of timber he needed. But he got it finished and it looks great.

Happy Birthday Lily

My niece Lily is turning one tomorrow. Have a great picnic Lily and don't burn the bacon on the barbie!


The reason why Jack was such a champion at blowing out his two (he can now say the word two) candles was because he practised. Firstly with a book called Happy Birthday Maisy. He did try with a whistle that my Dad gave him which activated a Thomas the Tank Engine but he kept on sucking instead of blowing and Thomas was going nowhere.On the day of his birthday Diane produced some party blowers (is that what they are called? really?) and he got the hang of things quickly. Must have been the people teaching him. He now likes to travel with one at all times just in case.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Choo-choo (toot!)

On the day of Jack's actual birthday we had some visitors come over for Jack to play with. I made chocolate butterfly cakes (they were really for us - I used cream and Hank's boysenberry Jam)and little quiches and Elise brought more cupcakes (which proved to be very popular). Everyone seemed to have a lovely time but we knew it was time for a nap when a bit of argy bargy appeared on the scene.
That night we went to Mudgeegong for the official birthday feast. From the moment Jack saw his cake he was transfixed and who can blame him. My friend Nellie made the same cake for J1's birthday but apparently hers ended up looking like a sofa.
Jack did a wonderful job of blowing out his candles (we've been practising).

We weren't worried about Jack being so enthralled with his cake till it was time to cut it and he looked horrified. He did manage to eat some cake (and feed some to Noel) then ran to the freezer to get an ice cream. That ice cream gene is very strong (it comes from both sides of the family).

Friday, 20 March 2009

Simple things

People always trot out the old ," You can buy children expensive presents but it's always the box that they want to play with." I decided to take a shortcut and just go straight to the box (so to speak).
Jack and I selected a box at the Iga then came home and went to town with glue sticks and patty pans. Voila! A car ! and Jack was delighted. Maybe it was the personalised number plates. He drove it around the house and the yard and even took it on the slippery dip.


Last year around November Jack abandoned his growing vocabulary and started using the word 'this' for everything. I wasn't really aware that it was a problem (he always managed to get his point across) until my Mum said, "Don't worry, I'm sure when he starts to talk he'll talk in sentences." oh.
Then a few weeks ago he stopped saying this and started saying all these new words but the funny thing was they all began with the letter 'b'. Bath, bed, books, boots, brush, bear, bounce... you get the idea. Why do I feel that he's messing with me?
I'm happy to say that he's moved on from just B words, I think he was worried because the professor wanted him to say binoculars.

A-Har !

Craig and Lou and Scarlett brought with them lots of sausages and a box full of the most incredible, piratical cupcakes. Very sparkle-arkle.Some got eaten on Sunday morning but I took the rest to playgroup on Wednesday. I was worried that they might be funny by then but I refrigerated them and tested one to make sure. The cupcakes were a big hit. There were lots of blue lips (which is not the desired hue at playgroup). Most of the kids seemed to struggle after ingesting that much icing but the parents had no such problems.

Young Jack D had a farm e-i-e-i-ohhhhhh

For Jack's birthday I had decided to make him a farm play board. I had seen them in shops for outrageous prices and had also seen some friends make one. How hard could it be? I did some covert research using Jack as my decoy then set to work. I painted the board in sufficiently realistic greens and browns. I drilled holes for the fence posts and screwed eyelets into the fence posts. I constructed a shed and a cattle grid and made some gates (though I was never very happy with them). I completed the farm just before everyone arrived and set it up in Jack's room so that he a Scarlett could play with it when they woke up nice and early on Sunday morning.
This is how it looked.And this is Jack and his farmand this is how the farm looked after about half an hour of playing.

The gates (balsa wood) were dispensed with post haste. And the tractor just kept on driving through the fences. The farm now has a considerably smaller amount of fence posts than it started with, no fencing wire or gates but the shed is still standing and the number of animals seem to increase daily. So many of them do seem to have very realistic jatz crackers (as Noel would say) so I guess that's not surprising. And I took Carol's advice and added a Zebra and a Tyrannosaurus Rex just to mix things up a bit and Jack seems pleased with this. The sheepdogs and Rex seem to play together very nicely.

Kissing Cousins

We were all waiting to see how Jack and Scarlett would get along. Their relationship has been up and down, a bit like a rugby game with a fair amount of shoving and the occasional eye gouge. When we were away Scarlett used to watch Jack on Youtube, but she seemed disappointed by the real thing when we returned. Last Christmas they were starting to play together (or unwrap presents) .
When we met up at the Grower's Markets in Wagga, Jack gave Scarlett a big kiss and she though this was hilarious. I may have to talk to him about this as we don't really want to relocate to Tumbarumba or Tasmania. They had a milkshake, fed the ducks and threw grass on each other.
Back at our place they played well together. They played inside and outside and had fun, though if Jack wondered off Scarlett would call, "Jack! Jack!" till he reappeared.

The birthday festivities

So as I said things have been hectic around here. My first book group meeting has come and gone. I think we talked about the book for fifteen minutes but I didn't feel too cheated as I had spent so much time talking to Wend, Fairy and Mark and then Karen and Soph about books so it all balanced out. We're doing the Kiterunner for the next meeting so that will be interesting. I must read it (after I finish two more books I promise - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and The Taste of Memory by Marion Halligan). And I did pick up some local 'news' including something which closely resembles the plot of the Thorn Birds except this turned out happily. Actually come to think of it I'm not sure how the Thorn Birds finishes.
Jack has turned two and in the style of my family, his birthday celebrations have been spread out over a week. Last weekend my parents arrived, followed by Craig and Lou and Scarlett and we had a dinner and lots of playing. With cake, cake and more cake. Actually at the dinner we had ice cream from the special ice cream machine which was a big hit, though obviously one was not enough for Jack.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


It's been a busy couple of weeks here (someone had a birthday) and this is my first chance to sit down and write. I suppose it's the blogger's paradox. If you have plenty of time to blog, that usually means that not much is going on and the blog isn't going to be that interesting but if you've got lots on, well you get the idea. So of course I returned home from Melbourne and there's been book groups, a visit from Soph and Karen, a night of wine, chocolate and women (!) at the licorice factory and of course the ongoing birthday celebrations that look to go on for a few more days yet. Before I overwhelm the bleaders with birthday photos I better finish what I started.The last day in Melbourne, which seems like a million years ago, was what I would think of as a typical Melbourne day. Overcast but we weren't bothered, luckily I packed a spare cardie. We had breakfast in another little laneway cafe which was nice. Well, the food was nice but the staff seemed distracted. I asked for the ricotta on toast and the waitress looked at me and said, "eggs benedict" which is an easy mistake to make as they sound so similar. The couple in the booth next to us became a noisy foursome when a surprise visitor turned up. We couldn't work it out but were entertained by the squeals and foot stomping.
After breakfast we walked to the Arts Centre Markets at Southbank. We saw hand knitted baby clothes, kaleidoscopes, soaps and the most amazing dolls. Not freaky, folksy dolls but very cool gothic fairies and mummys with dangling eyeballs. The woman who makes them, who looked like a Nana but who is obviously very clever, told us her site was called lollipop but I have failed to locate them. I wanted to put them on the blog because I was so taken with them. And I didn't buy one. I think she even did pirates.
After the markets Fairy and I did more clothes shopping (yes more) then met up with Wendy and Mark for Yum cha. For those that don't know me well I love Yum cha more than markets or pollywaffles. This was strange yum cha for several reasons. I didn't have prawn gowgees or any of those delicious darn (custard) tarts, the staff were quite polite and there was a dog at the table. It was allowed to stay though because it was small and well behaved. I did get some slippy sloppy noodles (aka prawn rice noodles) which are a favourite and some lovely chinese broccoli. With time moving quickly and people eyeing off our table we picked up our suitcases and headed to the airport. There was a funny incident on the way with a wigged out guy in a petrol station and police with pepper spray which could have gone pear shaped but I was delivered to the airport at just the right moment. The check in man for Rex guessed my identity (maybe it makes the time go quickly and yes, he did get it right) and I was Wagga bound.
My lovely boys met me at the airport and I was updated on their adventures (they went on the train) and we headed home together.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Retail Therapy

Ahhh...the delights of shopping in Melbourne. There are so many things to recommend it. Great shops, no attitude and lots of lovely things to look at. After a sumptuous breakfast supplied by our hosts, Fairy and I caught the tram into the city. We got off at exactly the right spot about 50 metres from where we were staying (thanks to my very lovely husband who booked it as a treat for my birthday). We dumped our bags and went in search of good shops and more specifically a shop called Quick, Brown Fox. I had discovered these shops (there's more than one) on a previous visit and was already a fan. Fairy was yet to sample their delights. So we wandered along streets, down laneways and through arcades, sampling chocolate (mmm...Koko Black and Haighs) and playing with finger puppets along the way. I kept telling Fairy that I knew where we were going but have to admit that my memory was hazy but eventually we found it and had great success (though I should've bought those shoes/cardigan/top). We made some purchases and then found a creperie in this groovy little lane and had a late lunch.After our delicious crepes we decided to do some more shopping (our eyes were getting a triple treat). I had bought a great dress, kind of Joan Cleaver meets Brie Van der Kamp but it needs a cardie to complete it. Fairy patiently helped me in my quest for the perfect cardie but it proved to be elusive. It is surprising how many are available and how they are all just not quite right. At one stage we wandered into sportsgirl (where I took this marvellous up the nostril self portrait of us trying on hats. A live DJ was playing and building to a rather alarming climax so we scuttled out as quickly as we could manage without a walking frame. Young people! We looked at a few more shops and I tried on more hats (can't help it, must be a condition but seriously who could resist a red cloche particularly when they are reading a book set in the 1920's?)
We returned to our accommodation and investigated our room (or rooms as was the case). Fairy was delighted to find that we had a mini bar consisting of a bag of radishes, an open bottle of wine and a beer. Well, who wouldn't be?
We workshopped our outfits and got ready. Wendy arrived and we headed out in our glad rags for a cocktail and then Wicked. Wendy led us to Gin Palace for our pre-show refreshments and it was a great choice. It's all mood lighting and chaise lounges and waiters all trained in witty patter. Wendy ordered something with berries and alcohol and I was going to have something with pineapple (and alcohol) which wasn't available so I had a spiced tequila swizzle (I almost wrote swivel then, maybe that's what you do when you have more than one). It was potent and I was glad that we had some very tasty bar snacks. I also knew that we wouldn't eat till after the show (after 11 and I normally eat at nana o'clock). With ten minutes to curtain up we paid, and dashed around the corner and got to our seats with oodles of time. I was intrigued by the green glowing cocktails at the theatre (Ozmopolitans) that people were clutching as we slid past them to our seats.
The show was great. I didn't realise until the night that we could've seen the last performance of Shane Warne the musical and I was disappointed about that. And after all the issues I had with Ticketek it had dampened my enthusiasm slightly, but it was fantastic. Great costumes and funny, I wasn't expecting funny.

I haven't read the book (Wicked by Gregory Maguire) but am planning on doing so at some stage in the next year or so. Actually I'd like to read it sooner than that but I have book group and library books hanging over my head. I was surprised to see not one but two former Idol contestants in the show, Millsy and Anthony Callea, though Anthony wasn't on the night we went. Millsy was and what a revelation. He can act, he can sing, he can do so much more than be famous for schtupping Paris H.

After the show (never did get an Ozmopolitan, though somehow I don't think it would've tasted very nice. It looked like it consisted of creme de menthe and ice) we had dinner in Chinatown. I was keen to go to Supper Inn which is a funny place off the main street in a very innocuous looking building. The first time I found it I saw people disappearing up a laneway and could smell good smells. Then I saw signs for the good food guide and a queue stretching down the stairs and I knew I was onto something. We didn't have to queue for long before we were seated and sipping on our Tsing Tao beers. Wendy had a BBQ pork and dumpling noodle soup which looked so delicious and Fairy and I shared duck pancakes, scallops with ginger and shallots and Salmon with Asian Green. Yes, that's just one green. Then we walked back to our room where once again we chatted late into the night then reluctantly went to bed (especially Wendy who scored the most uncomfortable sofa bed in he world).