Thursday, September 24, 2009

Photo shoot

Gee I come up with the best ideas for school holiday activities.
Hey kids, how about a photo-shoot?
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It was a great idea, they all had fun!
Mate was happy to be in charge of the reflector and getting Luce to laugh, and look at the camera.
Marv loves to pose.
Im just wants to hold her hair at right angles to her head and use that special forced smile that children do so well!

Everything was fine until Luce decided to climb up with Marv and Im (who were standing on stools, odd choice for a safety nerd like myself!).

She wouldn't stand still.  There was panic, arm waving, and then a pile of children on the floor.  There was a broken backdrop and the lampshade will never be the same again.

Thankfully we all survived to laugh about it.  Marv was a great cushion for her two little sisters to land on and Mate went about quietly picking up bits of furniture while I lamented the state of my backdrop.

It filled in an afternoon.  And they had fun.  And, apart from the broken backdrop, it was really cheap!

Delicious Dial Up

I don't think I spend that much time on the computer.  However, at 9:14 am on Monday we apparently used the last of our download allowance and now we are at dial-up speed (read "snail's pace").  On the first of October our new plan starts and I won't have to ration the use of the internet.  Looking forward to that!

Today the lovely postie popped this mag in our letter box.  Very soon I'm off to make a cup of tea and have a peruse.  There's a review of Stephanie Alexander's new book "Kitchen Garden Companion".  I think it might have to go on the Christmas wish list!

There was also a note from some folk up the street.  Their bunny has gone missing.  Her name is Flopsy and she's very cute.  We are keeping an eye out for her.  Poor Flopsy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Big Sis!

Today is my sister Linda's birthday.  And it's special.  It's her first birthday as a Mum, and her 8th birthday far from home.

Late 2001 Linda moved to the UK to live and work and get a fresh start after a few rocky years.  To our absolute delight, she ended up meeting this fab bloke called Mark.  They are just about to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary.  Eighteen months ago they started down a road travelled by the brave - the road to adoption.  Now they are Mum and Dad to two boys - brothers who needed love, stability, a place to call home, a place to be safe, and a Mummy and Daddy to cherish them and protect them.

For many reasons (the most important being the protection of these boys - my nephews) I'm not going to post a photo or their names.  Their interests are paramount.

Happy Birthday Linda!!!  A birthday like no other - a first as Mum.

Fi xxx

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A fishy tale

What made last night's fishy dinner so successful?

Some of our children are not keen fish eaters.  I buy mild flavoured, sweet fish when they have it.  It doesn't take much cooking, it juicy, boneless.  It gets pushed around the plate, fiddled with, hidden under the lettuce.  It's not like I'm a bad cook.  So what's the problem???

It's school holidays.  Trying to be relaxed.  So, yesterday I gave Mate and Marv the task of preparing their dinner.  I bought a piece of flake (I don't think I've ever done that before, outside a fish and chip shop!), cut it into bite size pieces and let them do the rest.  You can see them there, doing the egg and breadcrumb thing.  Then they made tartare sauce. (Im came along later and helped make the salad)  Then they ate their dinner - in a flash!

Which part is the key?  Cutting the fish into smaller pieces before cooking, their involvement in the preparation, the choice of fish?  Who knows - whatever it was it worked!  Yay!

PS Apologies for Mate's t-shirt, it was part of his costume for the school concert.  It's not the sort of print I would automatically choose for an 8-year old.  Perhaps I'm just out of touch?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Our week in food

I'm sure I mentioned before that we get through a fair amount of food in our household.  Lately, as winter has dragged on, things have become a little boring.  Inspiration has been missing.  Even with my subscription to Delicious.

But - Spring has sprung!  The air feels a little warmer, blossom is out everywhere (I can understand why the Japanese get excited!) and we have harvested the last of the winter crops.

This morning, the first day of the school holidays, we went shopping.  Yep, the kids were absolutely delighted - not.  The trip began with the usual list of rules - "No fighting, no running around, stay close, blah, blah, blah..."  I really really try not to take all four kids on these trips, but sometimes it's unavoidable. 

We're home now, they were relatively well-behaved and I feel inspired!

This is what we're having - 

Monday - salt and pepper squid for the grown-ups.  Kiddos will be making their own fishy-bites and tartare sauce.  They love to cook, and I'm in the mood to let them.  Smiles all round.  On the weekend friends gave us a fantastic purple cabbage from their garden, so I think some coleslaw might happen too!

Tuesday - Chicken, spinach and asparagus pie, except we'll substitute home-grown chard for the spinach.

Wednesday - Lamb cutlets with za'atar and a minted yoghurt sauce

Thursday - Tuscan chicken, cooked on the BBQ with chat potatoes and salad

Friday - Hmm, I'm starting to run out of ideas again already!  Let's see - we haven't had any pasta yet.  The weather is getting wintery again so Lasagne.  From a genuine Italian recipe, handwritten into my recipe book. If I double the recipe I can freeze some for later. Done!

Saturday and Sunday?  Yes, well, I will have to give it a little more thought.  Maybe I can hand over responsibility to someone else.  Any takers?  Any ideas?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Faith Hope and a whole lotta Love's Feature Friday

I'm out in the spring sunshine, kicking up my heels.  Sarah - the lovely and talented lass behind Faith Hope and a whole lotta Love has very kindly chosen yours truly for her Feature Friday.  Pop over and have a look - not just at me (of course!), there's lots of other great stuff too.

Sarah and I met a couple of weeks ago at Yarraville Markets.  She was in a chilly spot by the door with Melinda of Here We Go Loopy Lou.  I'll be there again in October, and Sarah & Melinda (as Loopy Love) will be there again in November too.  I can't wait - there's some serious shopping to be done!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blog Basics 101

Despite being tertiary educated, some things are beyond me when it comes to computers and the world of blog.  Yes, I'll admit my degree was not in computer science, so maybe I have a great excuse for not understanding the finer details!  Why is it, that sometimes when you edit a post, the date and time of the post do not change, but at other times the date and time are changed and then things get all out of order? *sighs loudly*  I'm sure I'll figure it out one day!

I Heart the Postie (part II) AND Buttons By Lou Lou

Feeling very bold - I entered a competition being run by Buttons By Lou Lou and this picture here shows the fabulous floral headband I won.  Huge thanks to Lou for her competition *big squeezy hug* and thanks to the postie for getting it to me safely.  Of course, I have three daughters, so I think I'll be visiting Lou's shop for some more goodies to even things out!

That burst of heat on the weekend marked our first BBQ and al fresco dining experience for the season.  Spring is in the air!  Our apricot tree is loaded with blossom and yesterday we harvested carrots, beetroot and snow peas.  Hmm, I think I need to go and take a picture of the chard before we eat it all (it's so pretty!).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vale Pete

Pete - I'm sorry this photo isn't the best, but it's all I have at short notice.

This was taken four years ago at the marriage of my eldest sister in the UK.  Pete's a great mate of my brother-in-law.  He would have been 39 at the time.  Strong, muscle-bound, funny, Dad to four children.  

Pete has been fighting bowel cancer.  On Monday night, speaking to my sister, things didn't look great but he was still hanging on.  Tonight we received the news that Pete died yesterday.

Four weeks before this photo was taken my Dad died of bowel cancer.  I thought 68 was way too young.  Forty-three is just too much.

Vale Pete

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cottage Nerd at Yarraville

Cottage Nerd and I go waaay back.  We started doing markets together a little over a year ago and just look how far we've come!  it's amazing what a difference 12 months or so can make.  Jacq was feeling particularly chuffed with her new banner.  It is lovely, isn't it?  I now have banner envy!  I'll add it to my "to-do" list.  

It's always a good day when we get to do a market together - tea, coffee, local delicacies, meeting and greeting.  Oh, and it's a day away from the children!

A skirt for Im

Monday, September 7, 2009

What a weekend!

I had a lovely time at Yarraville Markets on Saturday.  It wasn't as busy as it could have been, but it gave me a great opportunity to meet lots of new stallholders and catch up with the regulars.  Jacquie (Cottage Nerd) and I were next to each other which meant we could sip peppermint tea from our china tea cups in between taking turns to do the rounds of the market.  I know I'm not going to be able to mention everyone - so pop over to the Yarraville Markets blog for absolutely ALL the details!  I caught up with Lou of Totally Innocent and Kelly of b4w Natural Skincare.  New peeps included Melinda (Here We Go Loopy Lou) and Sarah (Faith Hope and a whole lotta Love) who teamed up together, and there was also Katrina (IDTee) and Helen (Miss Ruby May).  Picked up some helpful tips from Dana of Twiglet, admired the handiwork of Anne Marie and discussed the finer points of the pre-market panic with Belinda of Mr Moo and decided which of Susannah's photos (Susannah Tucker Photography) will grace the wall in my bedroom.

I know I haven't mentioned everybody - but Lou has mentioned each and every one of you!  Thanks for the lovely day everyone!  And look - if you peer closely at the photo you'll see my new sign "Visa & Mastercard welcome here".  It's brand new, I like to touch it now and then (just to check it's real) and had it's first outing and customer at Yarraville on Saturday.  Hooray!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yarraville Market this Saturday!!

 Heads up - Yarraville is on again this Saturday. 

All the information you need is on that there poster *points to the left*.

It is so frustrating that days aren't long enough, that I have run out of 5 mm elastic and there's not enough bias binding to finish my cushions.  I've got a big shopping list for tomorrow.  

I need to buy food too.  I have made a discovery.  Four children = a loaf of bread each day.  A packet of Savoys disappears in one sitting.  That 1 kg tub of yoghurt did two dinners.  And they're not even teenagers yet!  Too bad they can't just eat their way through my wool stash - that would keep them going for quite some time!

Warning - serious thinking ahead

I have done a lot of thinking over the weekend.  (No snide remarks, thanks!)  It was triggered by news of the death of a person I'd never met, but that I have some connection to.  This person, a man in his forties or fifties, has been performing some of the duties I performed before going on maternity leave some 8+ years ago.  He died of cancer.  I don't know whether he enjoyed his work, found it fulfilling or whether he was just marking time.  I make no judgements either way.

Why am I thinking so much about it?  I am still on maternity/parental leave - with another 16 months to go (yeah, I'm attempting some kind of world record).  I haven't been back to work all that time - couldn't squeeze it in between popping the babies out.  When Marv was a baby (6 years ago) I began to wonder what I could do to earn a living whilst staying at home.  It's hard to be a scientist from home!  It had to be something else. Something I enjoyed.  Something that I would be in control of.  The seeds of Squirt Baby were sewn (no pun intended).  It took me a little while to transfer this dream into the real world and if it wasn't for Cottage Nerd I'd probably still be flapping around!  Twelve months down the track I'm getting the feel for where Squirt Baby is going, and each day is a step closer to living the dream.

When I heard of this man's death, it sent my head into a spin.  After feeling shocked and saddened, my thoughts turned, as they do, to myself.  This is what I thought - if I was back working at that job, knowing that I had a terminal illness I would be really mad with myself.  For me, it had ceased to be fun, fulfilling and stimulating.  It was eating up my life - all those hours wasted being there, instead of using them like precious, valuable time.  There was no room for advancement.  Nothing.  Having children has given me the opportunity to free myself, think outside the box and pursue a long suppressed dream.

As a dutiful daughter and student, I allowed myself to be ushered into studying science at school.  It was the 80s, when there was a big push for girls to study science and maths.  I had the ability (but not the passion) and therefore my path was set.  I went on to study science at Uni - drifted around a bit.  It really wasn't for me.  I've always had an interest in creating - but that side was suppressed as I lived the life my parents thought I should.

A couple of weeks ago I hit the 40 mark.  It doesn't worry me - the age thing.  Despite not following my true path, I have a great life - a fantastic marriage coming up to it's 15th anniversary, four amazing children (precious because at one stage it looked as though it would not be possible at all), a home, cat, dog, community, friends, family.  Although I say it's not my true path, if I hadn't taken it I would not have what I have right now.  And now, at last a path to follow completely of our own making.  As a couple and a family we are stepping from behind the looming presence of our parents (who still exert a fair amount of pressure!) to be US.

Here's where I'm at - I won't be going back to that job.  It's not me.  Yes, it would be an easier way to make money.  Money is not the only consideration.  The thought of enrolling 3 children in before and after-school care and the youngest in full-time childcare is ridiculous.  Yes, it means instead I am juggling motherhood, hungry tums and mountains of washing with my need to create.  That is how it will be.  This is how it is.  

I'm not going back to that job.  It's not me.  I want more.  I want to be me.