Friday, March 28, 2008

Tagged!

I've been tagged by the gorgeous Karen from the wild backyard!

These are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog
2. Share seven facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Sounds simple enough and, as my camera is still in Hawaii with Possum, a good excuse for a blog!

Seven facts:

1. I can start a loaf of wholemeal spelt bread in less than four minutes, including wiping over the bench afterwards - but I have to rush. The breadmaker takes five hours to do the rest.

2. All five of our children were born in bath tubs.

3. My mother used to practice the Grieg piano concerto while I lay underneath our grand piano. This may explain more than just why I know the Grieg piano concerto off by heart.

4. I love vanilla rooitea so much that I buy it in bulk.

5. My roomba is my most beloved household machine.

6. My LG washer/dryer combo is my most regretted household machine.

7. I have five children but, in general, find the thought of caring for anybody else's pre-verbal and/or non-toilet-trained child remarkably unappealing!

Seven people:

1. Camilla (My sister)
2. Jenn (My other sister)
3. Nicole (in Canada)
4. Sue (Another sister)
5. Allison (A cousin)
6. Lorraine (My MIL)
7. S (A friend)

Back to awaiting the return of the camera...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clumsy but tough!

We breed them tough - witness the Ginger Ninja's response to a staple in his thumb (all the way through to the nail at the back)!

I confess to a slight feeling of nausea as I cornered him and insisted on a relatively prompt removal (OK, so I grabbed the camera before the removal equipment), but with the aid of a nail file and leverage principles it was all over quickly. Briar Rose was standing by with the Triguard and band-aids, but it was a little anti-climactic.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Crabapple jelly

I sent the children up the garden wall to collect the last remaining crabapples as this year I was determined to make crabapple jelly. I must confess to not having realised just how many crabapples it would take to fill a container!
Up close, crab apples really are remarkably like miniature apples, and the older ones have a very apple-like odour once they're cut in half.
I washed and de-stalked the crabapples, which took quite a while as the stalks were determined to stay on. I also chopped several of them in half to check for worms or rotten spots - it was hard to tell from the outside with some of them, though by the end of the batch I was getting pretty good at predicting the bad ones.

The apples were boiled for an hour, by which stage they were very soft and the house smelt delicious. I strained them once through a colander, then again through a doubled over teatowel (that had been boiled up with the jars).

There were 6 1/2 cups of crabapple juice left after straining. I returned them to the pot with 6 1/2 cups of sugar and boiled until setting point. Sadly, it's been a while since I made a soft jam, and I underestimated the setting point. I've ended up with a jelly that tastes and looks gorgeous, but is quite runny.

So, the children are just going to have to climb the crabapple tree again for me...
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Year 4 volcano project

I am so proud of Briar Rose for taking this on so independantly! She googled and chose her own play-dough recipe, and made the dough from scratch herself, with only a brief kneading demonstration from me.
It was a reasonably challenging solo kitchen project for an eight year old, but she was really proud of her achievement!
She modelled her volcano around a plastic bottle, which is going to contain lava. We debated dying or painting the play-dough, and painting was the clear winner because we hadn't yet had the opportunity to use the paints in the Christmas art set (Thanks, Renee!). Ginger Rose made a purple volcano from shop-bought play-dough.
The scene has been very carefully set with various volcano-like artefacts from the garden. As a special surprise, there are even carefully concealed vents in the side of the volcano that are designed to explode out pebbles.
It will be powered by coke and menthos - I only hope the paint lasts long enough for the desired effect!

Seriously - what a great solo homework effort. I'm so impressed!

The sick hen update

The sick blind hen is still blind but remarkably chipper for an old bird who can't find her way around, and has been locked out of the henhouse! Considering the other Sussex cross died within 48 hours of being visibly sick, she's doing very well.
The Ginger Ninja has been a devoted carer, making sure she can find food and water, and she takes care of pottering around the garden looking for sun or shade as she needs. You can see the horrible fungal infection over her head, and her eyes are swollen shut, but the fungal spots on her comb have been improving slightly so we're still hopeful that she may regain her sight.
All of the hens have a temporary leave pass from the henhouse and yard as we've ended up biting the bullet and spraying with a surface pesticide. This will be their second night in the open, but they don't seem worried and are thriving on exploring the garden. Since their baths they've been much more relaxed around the family, which is nice.

The other five hens seem healthy, although they still have fungal spots on their combs. I've only found one egg (in the middle of the lawn!) so suspect they're off the lay, but should probably check in the bushes!
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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Longies finished tonight!

And don't they look just right for a Canberra winter? Credit for the gorgeous organic wool goes, yet again, to the divine Ms K (yes, you guessed it!). These are my first attempt at longies, and the kitchener grafting at the gusset is a little original, but I think passes muster for a first try.

I used the Little Turtle Knits Longies Pattern which was a little long-winded (and, at 18 pages, a lot of printing!) but the conversational style and multiple options in the pattern worked for me.
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Mite hell!

Today we tried giving the hens a bath to clear up their infections. Judging by their speed and agility as we caught each one for their bath, most of them aren't too sick so far. Arwen is our smallest and oldest chook, and a favourite with all but the Ginger Ninja's special pet.
She is one of the least affected, but you can see the fungal spots on her comb. We gave each hen a bath in warm water with lavender oil, then sprayed them all over with Triguard Plus (our favourite cure-all), clipped their wings and let them roam in the garden.
When granted freedom, they usually spend their hours raking debris onto the paving, but today they were relatively well-behaved and rather subdued after their ruthless washing experience.
The sickest hen is still unable to walk properly and is spending the night in isolation. Ginger Ninja has been hand feeding and watering today, and her condition has improved but I'm still not optimistic about her long-term prognosis.

Although it's probably a case of bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted, I've put lavender cuttings in the nests and on the floor in the hen house. And we're going to let the hens risk roosting loose in the garden tonight rather than putting them back into the mite-infested house.

The mites are utterly horrible - we're all changing clothes frequently after handling the birds, but dh has found himself hosting a bunch of them just from wheeling the henhouse flooring around to the front of the house. The frequent showering is going to wreak havoc on our water conservation efforts!
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Pear and Ginger jam

Here are the last of the pears in use as pear and ginger jam. A dear patient of dh was chatting with me in the clinic the other week, and I was very keen to hear about her pear and ginger recipe which sounded utterly delicious. Sadly, it was nowhere to be googled.

Imagine my delight when a handwritten recipe was faxed to the clinic from her farm! How truly generous and kind!

I bodged some of the proportions, but will give the original ones below:

Mix 6lbs pears chopped in squares (scrubbed, blemishes removed but not peeled) with 3 1/2 lbs sugar and let stand overnight. The next morning add 1lbs preserved ginger, 1/2 green ginger and a pint of cold water. Boil until thick (which I took to mean "reaches setting point") and bottle. Leave for at least 2 weeks.

Two weeks? I can't stand the suspense!

And Ms K - there's a jar of jam waiting here with your name on it, but no rush to collect it because you can't try it for two weeks! (I also have a box of assorted roomba parts for you :) )
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Lunch for two

Our first vegetable puree blend - organic potato and carrot. It was just as successful as pumpkin puree -very decorative but apparently not particularly tasty.
And for moi, some very delicious tomato from Grandad B's garden with basil from my window pot.

Sadly, other things on the domestic front are not so happy - the chickens have a mite infestation that has already killed one lovely chook. The Ginger Ninja and Possum, while initially reluctant to help, chipped in a lot of muscle once they actually saw how sick our hens were and gave the henhouse a good scrub out yesterday.

Today I'm planning to ask the girls (Briar Rose has a friend sleeping over) to collect some lavender clippings to mix in with the straw bedding, then the boys and I will spray the infected sites with Triguard and cover the rest of the chooks with a good spray of lavender oil.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thunder thighs!

Seriously - how delicious are they? So cuddly! And just the right size for Grandma L's latest addition to the big cat nappy collection!
Allows for plenty of movement - he was very close to commando crawling this afternoon and made some quite impressive progress towards his target!

Time to try out the new Grandma L shaggy blue edition - but still fixated on his lion rattle. Thanks, Justine - I thought we had enough rattles, but he's definitely found his favourite! He can shake it all around and it doesn't hit his head too hard!
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Chicken rissoles


It's a miracle! Finally, a food that pleased all members of the family dinner eating club! And it was almost an accident - one of those nights where, at 5pm, I still had no idea what dinner would be, Ginger Ninja had to be at flute, and The Little Prince and Ginger Rose were very high needs. Out of desperation, Google, and the only package of unfrozen meat bought at Aldi earlier in the week on impulse came - chicken rissoles!

Mix 500gm chicken mince, one grated onion, one peeled (to hide the green bits) and grated large hunk of zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups full), some leftover wholemeal breadcrumbs and an egg. Form into patties and coat in a mixture of sesame seeds and wholemeal flour. Fry in olive oil then leave in a hot oven until everybody's ready to eat. Simple but effective!

As usual, more of the peas were eaten frozen than cooked...
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

5 months already!

Where did my tiny newborn go? At least I can still browse in the baby section - but not for long if he keeps growing at this rate! He's finally conquered the art of rolling over in a well padded cloth nappy - you just need a little momentum...

video

Birthday madness


With three birthdays in March, I start assessing birthday party options about now. The stakes were raised on Friday night when a friend of Briar Rose's held a Cupcake Party. The Year 4 girls spent 4 hours decorating cupcakes, eating dinner, watching a movie and playing party games - and returned home with the pictured goodies, which included an apron, gorgeous plate, and professionally packaged cupcakes. Brilliant party idea, but how can the domestically challenged possibly compete?
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