Monday, January 28, 2008

9 month sizing

Another finished item. Here's a beanie sized for a 9 month old being modelled by my almost 9 year old! I'm knitting another one in a smaller size and we'll leave this one to the big kids.
Possum and Briar Rose think it's "Gangster" and Possum has requested a black one.
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Solar oven second draft

Today we experimented with cooking a tomato lentil soup in the solar cooker. Dh built a sturdier plywood box exterior, and added a second car reflector panel, which also acted as a wind shield.
We put about 2l soup materials into a cast iron dutch oven at 9.30am, before heading out for a day picnicing with friends at a local pool.
Extra insulation was old cotton clothing from the rag bag.

We knew we were reaching reasonably high temperatures because there was serious condensation on the oven bag interior, and when the bag was tapped, the drops of water sizzled furiously and audibly on the dutch oven lid.
The resulting soup is delicious, though I need to give Grandad B some credit for supplying the homegrown tomatoes! The lentils were cooked to a mush, and the onion and tomatoes were very soft. I think there was a slight cast iron flavour, but I'm hoping that means extra iron content for us!

Tomorrow I'll try a zucchini soup.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Smiles for Grandad

Grandad B and Nana R dropped by with some goodies from the local Farmers' Markets. I really love the idea of being able to buy fresh, often organic, fruit and vegies direct from the farmer. Sadly, the markets are only open for a couple of hours once a week, and it's difficult to drag multiple children out early on a Saturday morning - the little ones want to go but take up valuable carrying space and don't always come when called, and the big ones want to sleep in.

I'm determined to work out a system that will get me there at least once a fortnight but in the meanwhile I'm very grateful to the friends and family who bring us back a share of any good deals they encounter...
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Solar oven first draft

Here's a first attempt to get an oven happening with minimal effort and materials.
There's no insulation, a bent black metal base, and rough foil on the walls.
After about three hours with good sunshine our test litre of water was slightly bubbled and steaming but not actively boiling.
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Briar Rose visits Grandma L

Briar Rose has returned from an action packed week with Grandma L. She's done knitting, painting, sewing, reptile parks, wildlife sancturies and visited two great grandparents. I sent her off in her beloved jeans with ripped knees and bare ankles, and she returned in designer shorts with a matching shoulder bag - neat trick!
There were plenty of photos of crocs, but she wasn't cuddling any of them. The kangaroos were friendlier!
The kids celebrated the return of Briar Rose by creating a castle in our living room. Concealed behind our armchairs and under the coffee tables and couch is a rabbit warren of bedrooms and corridors - palatial living for five children.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Side buttoning jacket

Behold! A finished object! My first one since the Little Prince's arrival. This side buttoning jacket is knitted in the leftovers from the blanket I knitted earlier. My thanks to Alice for the neckband advice. I was overly pessimistic about the time it would take me to finish this so it will be a few months before it fits well, but that will also be seasonally appropriate.
As there's still a little more leftover, I'm creating a beanie to match. My thanks to my beautifully talented sister for explaining the knitting-on-multiple-needles concept so well!
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Baby in a donut

We finally found a patch to repair Ginger Rose's old inflatable donut toy - and it's just as fantastic as it was last time around, although the repair is a little dodgy and it seems to have a slow leak. Please note the gorgeous handspun handknit shorties - I was devastated to discover that the Little Prince's not-so-little thighs had grown to large for his shorties, but Grandma L came to the rescue and re-did the legs.
A soft inflatable donut is just what a slightly reluxy baby needs to encourage some tummy time.

And here's a photo taken by Ginger Rose, who is starting to get the hang of the camera! She's very careful about putting on the wrist strap, but often misses her target. Still, I think they're great candid shots for a 3yo!
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beginner flute

Briar Rose enjoyed her two weeks of beginner flute lessons, and as well as learning flute really improved her music reading skills. The class was very popular and fully booked, so it was a full classroom.

The simplest slings...

are often the best! Grandma E bought this Nojo sling for Possum when he was a newborn, and it's still working well over a decade later. I keep a mesh sling in the car that we used most days of summer school so I could attend concerts without finding a park for the pusher, and this one in the house.

The Little Prince very rarely needs help settling, but when he does, a gentle stroll around the house and garden with the Nojo works wonders.
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The second last concert...

Ginger Rose has been working so well on her audience skills over summer school. She really loved the end of day concerts in the hall, though we did find her manners improved if she DIDN'T sit with the older children. But as the fortnight progressed, it was more and more difficult for her to sit still through a long-ish event.

We went to Briar Rose's final beginner flute lesson, which was a concert. We started the concert with beautiful manners, but after an hour of listening to beginner flautists Ginger Rose decided to change perspectives.
At least she was still listening (mostly) quietly.
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Summer in Canberra

Here I thought the Little Prince would grow out of such a nice snuggly warm outfit before winter came along, but a cool Canberra summer morning meant we get to try it on!

Big thanks to Aunties C and J for this gorgeously soft suit!
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Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sparrow

The Ginger Ninja really enjoyed this year's flute ensemble. Sadly, all summer school music had to be handed in on the last day but he was able to play the following piece from memory.

He's playing his new flute. We decided to buy an inexpensive but hopefully nice sounding instrument off eBay this year rather than trying to upgrade to a good quality flute, and the Ginger Ninja's getting a great tone out of it!

The one disappointment of summer school was that I missed hearing the boys playing clarinet together due to a scheduling clash with Briar Rose's final flute lesson. Their teacher assured me that they were great, and is very pleased that Possum has convinced me to keep the clarinet for another term so he can have a few more lessons.

Little boy blue

Couldn't resist sharing this one. Doesn't the blue sleeping bag bring out his eyes?
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Summer nights

Summer music school is pretty exhausting, but we had a cooler day today and it made a huge difference. Briar Rose enjoyed giving the Little Prince his bath with the fantastic new bath seat from Carol. Thanks, Carol - it works wonderfully and is a real back saver.
The children enjoy reading each other stories at night, particularly when the alternative is going to sleep! Possum snuck into the girls' room to listen to Briar Rose reading Finding Nemo, then Briar Rose snuck into our bed so Possum could read her Despereaux.

Last week we forgot to check that everybody was safely tucked up, and discovered Possum still reading Despereaux to Briar Rose over an hour and half later! Oops! Chalk that one up to a great book choice by Grandma E (who has the dual advantages of good taste and a particularly delicious children's bookshop nearby!).
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

A quiet morning at home

A wonderful friend took the older children to summer school this morning, so The Little Prince and Ginger Rose had a quiet time at home!
Ginger Rose particularly enjoyed christening her new easel from Grandma E.
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Can you feel the heat?

Dh took both boys out on the weekend to try riding very fast downhill on dirt tracks (I'm sure there's a technical term!). Apart from Possum falling off, losing a lot of skin, and potentially fracturing his wrist, they had a fantastic time and wanted to try it again this afternoon.

We took a full car load up to the top of the mountain. The bike rack, with bikes attached, fell off the car right on cue as we reached the speed bump at the top - so the event had a degree of amusement value for those of us left as observers. Haha. Dh and Ginger Ninja hurtled down the mountain as I drove the car down to wait for them in the picnic area at the bottom.

It was hot. We were fly ridden, sweaty and I was exhausted just watching them (Possum was allowed to ride gingerly over the BMX course) but we're going back next week...
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Beginner clarinet

And so begins another fortnight of music summer school. Both boys are doing "beginner clarinet" and will be taking two lessons a day. I pity the poor teacher who has both of them in her class at once twice a day, but so far they're enthusiastic! Briar Rose is taking flute.

This is a sample of their playing after Day 2.

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Music school preparation

Music summer school began this week, so on Sunday we baked in preparation: one yoghurt cake, one tray of banana choc chip muffins, and a full batch of cowboy cookies. On Monday night there were a few slices of the cake left.

On Tuesday I baked again.
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Solar oven project

After our recent home energy audit, my project for the summer holidays is to build a solar oven . I'm hoping to build a box oven, so went to the waste depot to scavenge for boxes, bases and glass.
Well, one out of three aint bad... We found a new helmet for Ginger Rose, some small casserole pots that will be so sweet in the solar oven when I've made it, and a black base. Back to the drawing board!
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