Sunday, August 31

teenage mutant phonecall

10.00pm phone rings
simon answers "hi B1, I'll get mum"
B1 replies "noooo, i want to talk to you"
simon responds" oh, ok, whats up?"
B1 "umm, ive drunk to much and we need you to pick us up, im so sorry, you can ground me if you like, i just need you to pick us up, PLEASE"
Simon "sure, where are you? there in five"

Simon comes into bedroom "that was B1, she's drunk and needs me to pick her and friend of B1 up"

Me *speechless* wasnt expecting this momment for at least another year
Torn between finding it pretty funny and concern, shes 14
Always wondered how i was going to manage this moment, hadnt fully decided on approach
Decide on very opposite reaction to my own mother with my experimentation
open communication and no shaming
reflect on what i was doing at 14
decide shes normal
glad she felt she could call

They arrive home, simon comes into the bedroom, shuts the door and starts laughing "hehe, shes even lost a shoe" we snort back some laughs together
B1 enters the room "im soooo sorry mummy, i feel so stupid, i didnt realise how much i'd drunk, i feel soo stupid, i'll never do it again"
Now i know she will, but i figure she's learnt a good lesson about alcohol.
So this morning we went to find her red satin flat lost in someones agapanthus and had a chat about safe experimentation and effects of alcohol

Saturday, August 30

Limoncello-Stage 2

so, what do you do on a saturday morning when you've had a crap night, eyes feel like sandpaper, head feels like a brick, husband's gone of to a Greenpeace non-violent action workshop, baby is finally sleeping and you really just wanna crawl back into bed and sleep yourself? You whip out the incomplete limoncello from the cellar of course, to complete stage 2 as Stage 1 has been sitting in its juices for the requisite 1+months.

I have transferred the mix from the original screw top jar into a medium sized demijohn to account for the increase in liquid volume.To transfer the limoncello makings into a new container i strained the rinds from the vodka into a jug and put rind into the demijohn. Then i added the lemon infused vodka. I boiled up the sugar syrup (see full recipe here), cooled it and when 'clear'. i think what 'they' mean (who 'they' are we'll never know) by clear is actually transparent and not opaque coz theres no way in the world anyone could get that syrup to be clear! When the syrup hit the vodka mix it turned that really special opaque limoncello yellow.

This mixture will now return to its cellar home to do its last bit of magic and in 2 weeks i will bottle it up ready to hit the freezer and ready for summer.

Swedish mag 'regrets' poison cake recipe

As reported on the ABC news website:

"There was a mistake in a recipe for apple cake. Instead of calling for two pinches of nutmeg it said 20 nutmeg nuts were needed," Matmagasinet's chief editor Ulla Cocke said."We know that four adults ate one cake made from this recipe, and they didn't feel well," she said. "This is obviously very regrettable."

Didnt feel well??? Hehe, those guys must have been tripping!

Friday, August 29

The Growing Watertank Challenge - post #2

The water tank is now in situ. It took two adults and two kids about half an hour which wasnt too bad really, and we actually all had a load of fun doing it, kids did lots of squealing and leaping out of the way and ducking under trees. We managed to get it in place by rolling it back up the driveway, reversing it across the street, then back across and onto the footpath and up to the garden wall.

There we tracked it up a ladder which was straddling the wall and once the tank was balanced on the ladder on the walls apex we gently rolled it along the ladder so that the ladder tilted overhanging the other side of the garden and rolled it down onto the ground and across the garden. We then laid the extended ladder across all the vege patches and again used it as a track for the tank.

Viola! carrot sprouts intact, tank in place and no squashed children. Next is to install the tap and downpiping from the roof gutter before the rains tonight and wrap the tank in chicken wire ready to take a passionfruit vine or two.

On the Growing Challenge front, i have planted up basil and sage seeds in a window box in the kitchen, i have no greenhouse...

Haiku Friday

heckling and pointing
mean girls whisper and bully
outcast and alone

Thursday, August 28

courage, honesty and being a grown up

el burro from team effort asked in a comment on one of my recent posts, in response to my rather grand declaration of finally living a true life, what sorts of decisons i had made in the past in the name of being true to myself and listening to my inner voice? in lieu of filling up a whole comment box i decided to make my respnse a post. I didn't want to answer such a seemingly straight forward question with brevity, as the question itself touches on some of the most important decisions i have made in my life and some of the most painful gut-wrenching and difficult periods in it. i figured that a post was a great way of working it through. I havent ever really consolidated it all like this so , hang on for the ride...

I think what i'd had in mind when i wrote that, was the decision i'd made to leave a relationship of 16 years, one that had seen me change from a teenager to adult, taken me through 7 and a half university degrees (between the two of us) miscarriages, a mortgage, home renovations, 2 homebirths and my partners diagnosis with a personality disorder and the daily grind in between. It was the hardest thing i have ever done and i think after facing all that the experience threw at me, nothing, bar something happenning to one of my kids, will ever match the confusion and pain of the years it took to finally break free. I had been living with the knowledge for a few years that i was partnered with a man i no longer respected and one whe never really respected me;our core values were so different. Respect i have learnt is for me the No.1 factor to maintaining love.

So, after honestly assessing my feelings (that feeling of dread in my gut when i came home every day just wouldnt go away) and quite a bit of counselling(which took years) i determined that i would rather be dead than continue living as i was; not a good place to be if you have kids. I didnt want to role model for my girls a negative relationship; i would want them to leave an unhappy relationship so why wasnt i? My mother snarked at my step dad for years and i didnt want that for them. My then-husband was of the opinion that i just wasnt trying enough to be happy, that any relationship could be made to work and i went along with this idea for years, believing that if i could just try and look at things differently, accept, give up my expectations and values then we could make it work. well, it worked for him but i was miserable. Id given up every value that was dear to me along the way to making the relationship 'work'. I read a life changing book, 'Too good to leave, too bad to stay' and it gave me the clarity of mind that i needed amidst all the confusion and doubt that leaving was perhaps not the answer to my situation and that i just had to work on myself a bit more, that i was just too controlling, getting the picture? Light bulb moment, i was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a man with borderline personality disorder; a mysogynist, a controller, a passive agressive, a crazy maker. Now i understood what his psychiatrist meant when he'd said my husband was 'borderline'; it was actually a diagnosis not just borderline to having a problem! So, inspite of my fear, 'feel the fear and do it anyway', i leapt.

Helping me leap was a process of self discovery that i had determined to do along the way; there was no way i was going to shatter the lives of 2 little girls and turn my own upside down without being sure that i was being and living as honestly and with as much integrity as possible. I wasnt going to waste this chance i had. I actually wrote out a life plan for myself listing all the things i had ever wanted; for myself, for my children and for a relationship. I 'drew' a picture of what i wanted my life to look like, inside and out, in as much detail as i could manage. I had pages of my dream life on paper and when ever i doubted the decision i had made, i read it and read it, affirming that i had done the right thing, that these needs of mine were leigitimate and i deserved a good life, to be loved and to love. I determined to give more, be more, laugh more, accept more, to just be 'bigger'. So every decision i have made since leaving that past relationship has been in broad accordance with my life sketch that id done; i'd remembered a quote i'd read and took it to heart; 'if you dont know where you're headed, you'll never get there'. So i determined to know were i was headed.

I gave myself permission to live 'like a man' for a while; had relationships just for fun, drank to much, came home late (when the kids were at their dads!)fell in lust, had my heart broken, all while i took stock of myself. When i met a man with all the qualities and characteristics i had 'listed' as important in a partner and who accepted me and encouraged me to live in accordance with my values; respected me, i just figured what the hey, dont look a gift horse and all that and so when he asked me to marry him, i waited a year and then i leapt with my eyes open. Ive been living the dream for the last 4 years.

Wednesday, August 27

wood fired pizza oven

The sun came out today. after weeks of cold rain, sometimes snow and cloudy skies, when i went downstairs this morning to start the day the sun was shining and glowing off the floorboards. I am pretty fed up with being cooped up inside most days with the boy so the sun was a great motivator to get outside and do something physical. Time to get started on the wood fired pizza oven. Im really looking forward to the challenge of building it, i havent done very much outdoor 'construction' before, not from brick anyway. Ive built chicken coops, pens and raised garden beds but nothing like this, mortar should be fun. i want it ready by summer when we can start having a social life again. The spot i have picked i think is perfect. Its just outside the kitchen so its easy to use (kitchen is to the right in the pick, you can see the doorless wood 'shed' (hole in the wall) which is just outside the kitchen door and the steps lead up to the garage). The oven will be built where all that growth is.

So i cleared out all the overgrowth and look whats underneath! Crikey!
Its a great height, already has a partly made form for the foundation and will warm this little terraced spot at night and will have shade in the summer days from the grape vine which grows over the pergola.

The view of some of the garden from here is pretty good too, so its functional and has form!

So all i have to do now is find my damn 'build your own pizza oven' book, which i actually suspect i may have accidently 'returned' to the library! Then i can get the specs for the cement pour to make the foundation of the oven. So hopefully by the end of this weekend i should be well on my way. I am sooo good at NOT doing my thesis. Any tips from experienced pizza oven builders out there?


The Omnivore's 100

Did i really just waste spend half an hour doing this???

Posted by Andrew at very good taste, heres the 'how to'...
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison (over rated)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (looks like slops, but why not?)
4. Steak tartare mashed raw flesh just aint my thing)
5. Crocodile (of course, Im an aussie)
6. Black pudding (i cant believe this was a childhood breakfast staple)
7. Cheese fondue (yum)
8. Carp
9. Borscht (who couldnt love a pink soup?)
10. Baba ganoush
11. Calamari (i love salt and pepper squid, my husband refuses to eat sentient beings)
12. Pho (i LOVE Pho)
13. PB&J sandwich (who hasn't?)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (does gourmet german bratwurst in sourdough from a cart count?)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle ( if white truffle ice cream is anything to go by...pass)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes( you bet, beetroot, carrot, i even have quince champagne in the cellar)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (even better than green tea ice cream)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (now were talking)
22. Fresh wild berries (only blackberries)
23. Foie gras (i forgot the distinction between pate de fois gras and fois gras and had a foie gras filled baguette on the lawns of Versaille Palace- my only bad memory of an otherwise PERFECT day)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (no thanks)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (on my must make once in my life list)
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (in a previous lifetime i ate this every week)
30. Bagna cauda ( only my own, not in romantic italian location)
31. Wasabi peas (=beer)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float ( does a ginger beer or sarsparilla spider count???)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo ( what is Gumbo?)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (had a curried goat pie just the other day)
42. Whole insects (does an accidental fly count?)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (my birthday present of choice)
46. Fugu (i like to minimise my risks)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (creepy looking buggers)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (oh yum...airport fodder)
50. Sea urchin ( its the sloppy factor)
51. Prickly pear (memories of my mum serving prickly pears...slightly better than a choko)
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (ugh, have had a Big Mac in the past...)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV (home brew)
59. Poutine (ewwwww)
60. Carob chips (always dissapointing)
61. S’mores (great memories of the kids making smores by a fire late at night on a ranch in California)
62. Sweetbreads (only coz i was a kid and didnt know any better)
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (I used to pay the extra cash and ride the Durian free bus)
66. Frogs’ legs (delicious)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (same as for sweetmeats)
71. Gazpacho (generally not a fan of the cold soup)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (never dawned on me to eat roadkill-thinking of Rixa)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie ( pined for a Hostess Twinkie at about age 8-10, didnt know what they were but the ads on the Archie magazines had me intrigued..along with the sea monkeys)
78. Snail (never ever- to much vision of foaming green stuff)
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (peach bellinis a fave)
81. Tom yum (now thats more my kind of soup!)
82. Eggs Benedict (my all time fave brekky food, Eggs Benedict is WHY i go out for breakfast)
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (next lifetime)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers(borage, nastursium, rose, evening primrose, marigold...)
89. Horse (i could be tempted, but id had to have had quite a few beers first)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (a looong time ago)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (had plain old harissa)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano ( another on my must make list)
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidore (i looooove lobster anyhow)
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (a bit too much like the eel)

Only 65, my foodie kudos hits an all time low...

Tuesday, August 26

schizo blog

reading around my blogging community is making me realise that Im all over the shop. Im a bit of this and a bit of that and im getting a bit concerned at my lack of focus, my ante-specialisation. Im not a faux-chef or crafter but i love foodie and crafty blogs; my slick pic fix, i love kitchen gardening and green blogs but im not a full time writer 'bout either of those, im not exclusively a mummy blogger, a profession blogger or even a blogger blogger. So , if you turn up here hoping for one thing or another and find something else, just click out on the blog roll and try me again tomorrow.

Monday, August 25

life took over for a whole freaky weekend

the weekend got busy and messy
i forgot Haiku Friday
my pc jammed up
Word wouldnt open
my thesis got 'trapped'
i freaked
i made pasta for a dinner party
what was i thinking?
i expressed every four hours
and neglected to take my iron
i slept in on sunday
i awoke to all the dinner party dishes
i freaked
grunted at husband all day
husband had the nerve to grunt back
kids woke the baby running about the stairs
lots of times
i freaked
lighting guy a no show for B2s performance
husband called in to cover
drama teacher sick
husband called in to cover
i cover our life while husband covers others
i freaked
then my mum came to visit and she told me a story
'bout a chinese student of hers who'd called himself Odour
he knew it was 'a smell'
but he liked how it sounded
more alluring than Jean-Michael or Ben
Thanks to Odour, i got some perspective

Friday, August 22

too many cooks...

I realise that Im fortunate; fortunate to have an employer who grants me maternity leave on full pay for 6 months, fortunate to be able to top that up wth my long service leave on full pay for another three and fortunate be able to have my husband at home full time to enjoy our new little boy together. We are an unusual family in that my husband has been retired since he was 38 and i go out to work. He stays home and keeps the home fires burning while attending to his Greenpeace and activism work; mostly an incredible amount of logistics, planning, phone calls and emailing. Its interesting parenting in the full time presence of your partner, ive never done this before. I was the fulltime parent when the girls were little. I stayed home for 5 years with my first born and 1 year with my second, before i joined my then husband back in the workforce. When i was at home caring for the girls, i did it on my terms, at my pace and in my way and when my then husband was home he pretty much managed the girls within a broad framework that i had fostered. Parenting full time with my new partner isnt easy, i knew it would be challenging. Ive had to let go of control, had to put words to my reasons for doing things that id previously done in particular ways, communicate better, communicate more. 'Because thats how i did it before' 'or it just feels right' just doesnt wash with my husband, he wants to know why i do things certain ways and has his own opinions about how to manage a baby and a family, most which make sense but are just different. He wants to understand and learn but it challenges the unconscious patterns and perspectives around 'mothering' that i have. Im still working at 'letting go of being right'. I have also had to work on learning to delegate, not trying to do it all and i've learnt that im really pretty terrible at it. Im really organised, maybe most mothers are, and having already raised 2, my time management and home economics are pretty good, i always seem to be 10 steps ahead and at times i get really resentful at being the one who is 'ahead' but we're learning a dance and my being a martyr just dosnt help. So ive had to let go of being right and to just say hey, do this or do that would you? invariably he always says sure thing but sometimes i just dont want to have to ask.

Thursday, August 21

The watertank challenge

"Houston, we have a problem ..."

We had a watertank delivered this morning to service the vege patches. It's intended to sit next to the studio to harvest its roof water.

Its supposed to sit just next to the building ( still only clad in blue sisalation); you can see the cut that has been made to site it at the top of the stairs. How its going to get there we are not yet too sure.

We have a 30,000 ltr tank further down on the house site which we use on the lower garden vege patches but the primary use for this bigger one is as fire fighting water storage and to get water up to the top garden vege patches would require pumping. We though it would be better to get a new tank for the front garden!?

Wednesday, August 20

The Growing Challenge - first post

Yesterday the skies finally cleared and i was able willing to go outside and plant the beetroot, parsnip and lettuce seeds that arrived last week and have been itching to get into some soil. i have never planted beetroot or parsnip from seed before and, in hindsight, root vegetables have to be the most stupid things to try and grow from seedlings. So i opened up my trusty 20 year old tome on Organic Gardening by Peter Bennett (my husband also has one and when we first met, i took this as another sign that he was a pretty great guy LOL) read up on parsnips and beetroot and broke out the seeds. The look of the seeds actually took me by surprise, Im not sure what i was expecting but certainly not these. The beetroot seeds look like little horny pellets, quite prehistoric,

and the parsnip seeds are little spheres of paper which only required the sheerest covering of soil.

I laid damp paper down over the parsnips to aide germination and prevent loss by providing a thermal covering and fostering a more stable environmetal temperature. If i'd have had some underfelt to hand i would have used that as the paper needs wetting daily to keep it in place. The covering will come off once germination has begun, i dont want to stress the little critters by cutting off their light supply.

To use space as efficiently as i could, I planted the beetroot and parsnips in two rows on the outer curve of the lower garden bed, which is home to the potatoes that were put in a few weeks ago and have just sprouted, their new leaves unfurling, ready to be buried again. I was all for cageing the potatoes but my husbnd had other ideas, suggested we had enough room for them to be 'free' and that they didnt need to be mounded very high anyway. So, we shall see how they go.

The rocket is well on its way ( as are the rocks! yikes)

and the carrot cotyledons are nearly 1cm tall and are almost ready to be thinned. So this new seasons veges at the Rising household are finally underway.

Tuesday, August 19

my antidote to consumerism

There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled
There is a void in your soul ready to be filled.
You feel it, dont you?
- Rumi

Usually when im reading a book and the author has begun each chapter with a quote, i let my eyes fly over the quote, glance at it in a snapshop moment, i am impatient to get to the main text so i can continue the 'real' story. But this quote from my current read really resonated with me last night. maybe its hormonal, maybe being at home so often with the boybean has made me more intrspective, but i read this quote at the top of the page and felt quite at peace with the world and very present. It made me realise how far i had come in the past few years, how being true to myself and listening to my inner voice had paid off in the most wonderful way; i was living the life i'd dreamt to be living but in the past never believed i could. I finally was experiencing, every day, what it's like to be sharing your life with the right person;life feels limitless, full of hope, possibility, love, joy and passion. im not tempted to be filling up that empty space with 'stuff'. I used to feel envy of those couples who seemed to really dig each other, after 20 years together, really felt deep respect and pure love for each other, still held hands and looked at each other with love and tenderness. Im so looking forward to the rest of my life; sharing life with a person who kindles your flame and fills your soul is a revelation to me.

Sunday, August 17

Pear and Walnut Cake - pear glut use #2

last weekend it was pear paste, this weekend i decided to use Haalo's recipe from cook (almost) anything at least once for a pear and walnut cake. i love any cake or bread with fresh fruit; figs especially, but i only use figs in cakes if i have just so many figs that i know they will start fermenting before we can get around to demolishing them all, they really are so special that they should be eaten au naturale. But pears, apples, peach, i love using up excess fruit this way and we have so many walnuts still left from last years bumper crop that Im always looking for ways to use them. Although, i usually only cook cakes like this when i know we have extra people around to eat it all on the day, like we did yesterday. This is seriously a very delicious cake and it took about 5 minutes to make. Seriously.

The recipe i used is exactly as Haalo has written but i threw in the bag end of chocolate chips that were only going to get pilfered by the kids.

Saturday, August 16

and she hugged her laptop

my daughter just bought a laptop
she's 13
she 'earns' $30 a week

$10 she saves
$10 she spends
$10 she uses to sponsor a girl in India
she sometimes gets money for birthdays

She pays for movies, trips out with friends, buys her own mobile credit
she bought her own mobile
she saved up for a laptop
her friends have laptops, bought by their parents
i said no way, no need, use mine
so she saved, and saved
yesterday her laptop arrived
if i'd bought her a laptop
i dont think it would have got a hug

Friday, August 15

Princess camp

I was intrigued to read Wannabe Hippies blog this week and see her post about Princess camp. Wannabe (aka Elaine) is a paid up member of the feministe party with a womens study minor under her belt. Princess camp? Seriously? is this for real? Do we do Princess Camp here? What the hell goes on at Princess camp? So many princessy questions. Gotta Google princess camp. Now this is not to criticise Elaine and her choices, its just that I heard it first from her and when someone like Elaine sends her princess to speciality camp, you know some serious 'oh my god am i really doing this' mountain has been ascended and it probably involved somewhere along the way, the joys of a small girl, the waving of a magic wand in her plastic pink heeled slippers, lots of sparkles, a tiara and a tear or two; oh the peer pressure. Her post and a trip this week to pick up some emergency sleep wear for the boy made me realise that i had left the world of serious fluff, hairclips and requests for mini-bra's behind (oh, dont get me started on the politics of of tweeny-bras! ) as i waded around in some very ugly brown stuff printed up with mac trucks and soccerballs and ALOT of pink fru. Ratio of 'boys' clothes to 'girls', about 1:10. Genderless, umm... huh?

So i Googled Princess camp.
Hosted by our own charming Cinderella, Belle and Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, our week long camps are filled with all of the magical things Princesses dream of! Each day features enchanting and fun filled activities with our Princesses. We'll take care of the Princess essentials; nothing is more important than self esteem and confidence so each day will begin with our Mirror Mirror Ceremony, a feel good excercise for all of us. We'll cover what every princess needs to know from kissing frogs to sleeping on a pea, through interactive stories, puppet play, dress- up play, arts & crafts and music. Who can forget our Enchanting Princess Graduation Ceremony. We'll spend the day before polishing little fingers, experimenting with fragances and light make up and then its off to our dreamy Gown Shoppe where a Ball Gown will be chosen for this very special ceremony. Parents, siblings and special guests are invited to join us for Graduation and Tea where we'll share Princess cakes, iced tea and pink lemonaide. Don't forget your camera

You still there?

it brought back memories of this womens studies minor vigourously vacuuming quite a few dolls plastic high heels and handbags over the years *oops, nevermind* (coveted birthday gifts from schoolfriends) and hearing them fly up the metal hose with a satisfying rattle. I didnt read the girls any fairytales either or do the Disney movie thing when they were little, all that 'happily ever after' particularly coming from a single parent seemed a little contradictory and promoting the prince charming concept just a little outdated, instead we did the ante-fairytale of The Paperbag Princess; princess tells prince to leg it if he only likes her for her image. Mind you, not having read the 'originals' the point kind of passed them by.LOL Its a minefield swathed in pink tulle out there.

im looking forward to the pitfalls and challenges of mindfully raising a boy. I would welcome any tips.

Haiku friday

no, i hadn't Olympic tribute

curtailing freedoms
integrity compromised
a nation decieved

Thursday, August 14

how to make household chores fun

Its that kind of morning. This origami may change your life, it may not... My husband now demands to fold the laundry. Im editing my thesis.

Cool T-Shirt Folding How To Fold A Tshirt Video - Awesome video clips here

in my inbox this morning.

Just a reminder that tonight Dr. Bill Scarfe will be presenting a lecture on Clinical Applications of Cone Beam Computed Tomography: from 2D to 4D diagnosis and Treatment Planning.

Im pretty happy to be on leave.

Wednesday, August 13

the getting of wisdom, Montessori style

" well, I'll just give it a try and see how i go... you should at least give things a go you know, Maia"

these were the words B2 used on her big sister last night when B1 denounced, in her very deprecating teenage way, B2s interest in doing gymnastics as completely stupid and that she would be totally hopeless at it.

I did a mental air punch and silent "yeah, sock it to her Lil". That statement of supreme confidence in the face of such scorn, made in a very calm and measured way was a revelation. It was the circle turned in full. It made me realise just how far we had come in the last 18 months, a real expression of the 'new' but 'old' Lily.

When the girls father moved interstate to live with his girlfriend, the girls were incredibly grief stricken. To go from an almost 50/50 shared care arrangement to a 'maybe every holiday' arrangement really knocked them around. Maia just kept quiet about it, but Lily, always the diva really acted up and played it out. Her self esteem plummeted to an all time low and it culminated in running away from school many times, reaching a creschendo of police searches and finally full suspension from school for trashing her school principals office (you go girl! I had to admire her angry audacity). Now while the school understood and empathised that she was not coping with events in her personal life and was angry and hurting, they had neither the time or resources to patiently walk alongside Lily while she healed and disrupted the rest of the class in the meanwhile. This kid was doing some serious mute table standing and alternating it with low level constant humming. I have always believed in public education but watching her behaviour escalate into a mini tornado i knew that suspensions were not going to solve the situation and that left as it was, her self esteem would continue to deteriorate and her learning would suffer and that keeping her in this school was no longer an option.

So after looking around at local options and exploring homeschooling (my mum and husband both volunteered - im the breadwinner), I decided that the local Montessori primary school looked great and they agreed to enroll her after a meeting with us and her therapist. Lily had HATED her Montessori kindergarten ( all that structure is really not her essential style- she forgets whats shes looking for when she opens the fridge!) and i was a little concerned that the self directed learning which forms a core of the Montessori approach would be used by this fiery Aries as an excuse to do absoloutely nothing or at least the bare minimum. After trying on her old tricks at her new school quite a few times she soon worked out that the Montessori approach to discipline was very different to her old school and after being calmly reminded for the upteenth time about reponsibilites, choices and consequences she finally 'got it' and this year has seen a child changed. So to see a despairing grief stricken and very pessimistic child transform into a confident, can-do, considerate, interested and optimistic leader, i know that her Hills Montessori School, through sensitive guidance and persistence has had a great hand in helping her realise her full potential. Last night i felt like i finally had my girl back.

“One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
Maria Montessori

Tuesday, August 12

garden of eden

yippee! feels like christmas, my order of Eden Seeds has arrived. now im not quite as organised as some of you and have them sprinting ahead in the seed equivalent of a mid winter trip to Fiji; the greenhouse (you know who you are) but im chuffed and looking forward to getting cracking with some major planting. I just need to finalise placement in the beds. Blog query: any reason why lots of bloggers use diggers more than Eden seeds? i have used both in the past and not noticed any difference in germination rates but i am wondering if there is some seedy insider knowledge that im missing and i have a fear that you're all going to shout 'loser', shes using Eden seeds!'

Ready to get going are:

Pumpkin - cinderella
Tomato- yellow pear
Tomato - purple russian
Tomato - black krim
Tomato- aunty rubys green
Beetroot - bulls blood
Parsnip - hollow crown
Sweet corn - jolly roger
Beetroot - chioggia
Lettuce - red cos
Lettuce - green mignonette
Bush bean - redland pioneer
Cucumber - marketmore
Zucchini - black
Climbing bean - purple king

im not too sure how to describe the feeling of looking at all these lovely little yellow packets of seeds but its something akin to joy and a feeling of hope and possibility and abundance. especially the tomatoes, i have a very big big thing for heirloom tomatoes. actually, i initially ordered a lot more than these but my very pragmatic husband queried my overkill with a very rational argument about available planting space and seed longevity. the girls and i were not impressed at the time at having our romantic enthusiasm and online affair with the catalogue dampened by such logic.

feelin frumpy

its now day 150 of weather that makes you just want to sit inside in front of the fire with a book, a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits. Cabin fever has set in and physically im feeling like crap. I have been looking forward to getting back to running but somehow my motivation to pound the pavement has been tied to some blue sky showing itself. A few weeks ago before the weather turned decidely to winter, i had been walking in the mornings with a friend (another PhD almost-there-er) and on one occasion, after she took her turn off to home, i decided to see how the hips n boobs would go with a mild jog the rest of the way home. mmm, felt fine, boobs were a bit like jogging with a couple of medicine balls strapped to my chest and the hips felt like they were going to dislocate and slide up to my ears at any moment. But, for a first run after birthing, it felt like i could get back to it if i implemented a full lockdown on my breasts and warmed up well first.
After the initial euphoria of losing over 10kg in a day (mostly baby and associated bits) and the utterly unfathomable situation of needing to buy more clothes post pregnancy, as my pre pregnancy clothes were falling down around my feet, my descent into decidedly non-salubrious consumption of foodstuffs is needing some checking as my midrift is feeling and looking a little too much like stretchy pizza dough. So rather than give up the chocolate and puddings, im thinking increasing my expenditure is a better way to go. Something weird has also happenned to my ass since birth that im looking to reverse. Never thought id have one, but i have. i have that very weird middle aged flat ass. Im thinking flat ass may be fixable with the getting of some well run butt muscles. As for the calzone belly, either i can learn to love it, embrace it or im going to have to start doing ab work again and THAT is not dependent on the weather. @#!

Monday, August 11

small change changes lives

i recieved an update email this morning from Mwanahamisi Rashid, Pili Kago and Grace Emanuel. I loaned some money to this group of 3 Tanzanian women through the Kiva microloan organisation and who have now raised and invested enough capital to begin repaying the loan. This is what i like about Kiva, the real contact you can have with people you have never met but have helped in some small way and the fact that you can choose exactly to whom (and what kind of business) you wish to lend money. By providing what to us in rich country is the equivalent of a meal out, to the recipient of the microloan it can be the difference between subsisting and living, It can make a world of difference to their lives and their families and communities.

Its hard to write this without sounding preachy or paternalistic but i will do my best. So far with Kiva i have supported women with young families in Africa but i think my next few loans will be in Afghanistan. I think its so important to support women, as women are the key to lifting families and communities out of poverty. An educated and independent mother will pass on life skills to her children which sustain and advance community.

Here's how Kiva works.

When you visit the Kiva website you will find listings of all registered entrepreneurs and their complete business details and photographs and how much capital is needing to be raised. All listed entrepreneurs have been screened by local non profit organisations specialising in development funding. You create a Kiva account into which you deposit funds via Paypal (who provide this service to Kiva for free) for you to distribute to your selected recipients. When you find a business and a business person whom you think you would like to support you can choose to fund the entire amount of capital needed for that project or you can contribute a minimum of a $25 loan to that person or group, a microloan can be a composite of many lenders. When the group or individual has raised the capital required, the business expands or begins and when enough profit is made repayments are divided amongst all the lenders who helped to fund that business, depending upon the percentage each lender contributed and this continues until the loan is repayed in full. You can then cash in this repayment or elect for this repayment to be credited to your Kiva account for you to make another loan. All through the process you recieve email updates on the venture and its owners.

What i really like about Kiva is the grassroots nature of it. Its individuals helping individuals directly and its not for profit, so all your money goes to those who you are loaning to. And, unlike bank loans, no interest is claimed. You can elect to make a voluntary contribution to Kiva to support their fieldworkers administrate the service and can choose the form of that donation; USB, torches, pens etc. I also like that you can choose directly whom you wish to support so that you can make choices about sustainable and ethical businesses. I wish this operated everywhere.

Sunday, August 10

Spiced Pear Paste

I spent quite a bit of yesterday standing at the stove stirring. I had a craving for fruit paste and blue cheese so i set about to make some pear paste as I had quite a few lemon bergamot pears. I have never before made fruit past of any sort, though i have eaten my fair share over the years. I looked in all my recipe books and on the internet and could not find one recipe that was made from pears alone or at least mainly pear. The closest i got was the ABC website which had a recipe for tomato, pear and lemon paste which sounded lovely but the main fruit were tomatoes to a ratio of 2:1. I wasnt too sure about using quince paste recipes with a straight swap of fruit weight as quince has alot more pectin than pears so the fruit/sugar ratio is more stable. So i pretty much had to wing it using the ABC recipe as a guide and i reduced the amount of sugar as there was no sloppy tomato to stabilise. Here's what i did.

Spiced pear paste

1.2 kg of pears
2 granny smith apples
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
small piece of vanilla bean
rind and juice of 2 lemons
2 cups sugar
pectin (optional)

Core and chop pears and apples and put in heavy based saucepan with the spices and lemon and simmer with the water until fruit is very mushy. Strain through seive or blend in food processor after removing spices.

Return to pot and add sugar and stir for 4 hours on a moderate heat to reduce the mixture. It should be quite thick and stay seperated when its ready. But Im impatient....and thats the recipe as it should have been....
However, i did not remove enough water from the fruit mixture and/or there was not enough pectin in the pears and apple, although the fruits were quite firm, so the end result was quite sloppy and it did not setas firmly as i was anticipating. If I had stirred for the 4 hours and not just 2 it may have been alot firmer but i started late in the day so by 11pm i was ready for bed. Now there may be a reason why there are no recipes that were easily obtained on the internet for pear paste! and next time I would add pectin to the recipe and possibly bake the pears so as to reduce reduction time. But for now my pear paste will get served in bowl and not directly on a cheese board.

The house smelt really heavenly yesterday with the sweet pear, apple and vanilla and the 'paste' tastes quite fantastic.

Saturday, August 9

the Permapine decking dilemma

Folks , we have a dilemma. Now those of you who have read this blog waaay back will know that we are in the process of building a structure (fondly referred to around here as 'The Studio', although im not sure even what a 'stew-dio' really is ) in our garden which serves essentialy as the structural support of PV solar cells to power the house and all its modern sins. In the planning of this said 'stew-dio' we agreed to erect a substantial deck along its Northern facing side to enjoy more sunny space as the cafe doors fold back to allow deck and studio to become one flat floorspace. However, we never agreed as to what the decking would be made from. The time has now come to order materials to build the deck. Now here in Oz, in my experience the majority of decks are made from Permapine decking slats; a copper chrome arsenate (arsenic) treated pine which preserves the softwood making it weather resistant and repells termites. We both agreed NOT to use Permapine as we didnt want the boybean crawling around on that. Eco-pine addresses these issues somewhat as it is preserved using an organic azole co-biocide but its still a softwood and isnt as longwearing as hardwoods or composites. SHE (me) however had ideas about using another nice looking hardwood. BUT these are usually Merbau or Batu both of which are rainforest timbers. Non rainforest Merbau and Batu and other Australian hardwoods grown under the umbrealla of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody (COC) system, a system which connects responsible and equitable forest management practices, are available but its hard to find in a decking cut and is very expensive. Modwood, a composite recycled wooden decking is another alternative as is CleverDeck by Futurewood which is made from recycled plastics; recycled HDPE (old milk bottles and other post consumer plastic waste) and discarded rice husks or hulls and claims to be one of the most environmentally friendly decking options available. This is my husbands favoured choice of material. The biggest problem is, im a bit of a wood snob. Made-to-look-likes have to be designed really well and incorporate innovative building design to pull them off. Small scale building using plastic decking is not my idea of aesthetic living and i dont know how it would blend with the main house- you can see from the pic in my header that its a pretty organic building made from 100% reclaimed timbers and introducing plastic may be a tad weird. At $140 per square metre (we need 20 square metres) for Modwood composite decking and $90 psm for the Cleverdeck, the same price as rainforest hardwood like Merbau, there is no cost saving to using recycled, so you buy for the principle alone. I really like the idea of using a recycled waste material, what else are we going to do with all that plastic we have created? but Im not keen on the aesthetic. However, I may have to just bite the bullet and be an enviro-vanguard, join the trend in plastic decks, help create the new norm.

Friday, August 8

Haiku friday

soft sticky fingers
kneading on my dough like breast
eyes smile up at me

in the post

A huge package arrive for the boybean yesterday courtesy of his Aunty and Grandma all the way from sunny Marin county in California. We knew it was coming, but did not quite expect the huge quantity of clothing that the box contained nor the quality of the items. Apparently Jen and Fifi had been having a great time at a 'yard sale' and couldnt quite help themselves and have lots more boxes to send over. It must have been a huge yard in a flash part of town. This piece is quite ridiculous but oh so sweet, Im not too sure exactly what its meant to be??? Chipmunk? Bear? I think the grandmas in the village will like this one.

Thursday, August 7

Paris' alternative US energy strategy

A lazy post coz Im just worn out, i did but come across this funny on my morning news roundup. A nice response to the McCain camp i reckon.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, August 6

teetering on the edge ...

What a week and its only Wednesday.
I was called in to work for a meeting on Monday. My PhD work is being nominated both for a Premiers Award and Prime Ministers Award for public sector management exellence. Now, its great news, but with a days notice ive had to get technical submissions together for submission this morning@!$# "but Im on LEAVE!"
There's nothing like being given a task at short notice by your single childless supervisor.

Meanwhile, in my spare time in between submissions, when not breastfeeding, i have facilitated B1's short notice transfer from one high school and her move to another (over 3 days!), sorted costumes for B2s school production which is tonight but i only became aware of the need for white leggings on Monday (try finding white leggings in the middle of winter), i really could choke her teacher, and several immovable appointments which i have had to express milk for and a boybean unsettled at night. Its been a doozy. Work, im soooo not ready.

Sunday, August 3

on a roll, with a little help from my blog

in between lying on the couch with a screaming back ache, a 2 hour walk with the whole tribe; boy bean didnt make a peep the whole time (bless his cotton socks if he had any), cleaning the bathroom walls (yes with a pinched nerve in the back maybe not such a good idea...'wax on...wax off' was my approach, i thought it might help get me 'unstuck', i managed some of agenda #1 - i oiled the other chair!!!!!and gave one its extra coat. Those chairs represent the past and the fuure to me, so gettting this far feels great. 2 more coats and some new cushions and they should be ready by 2010. I knew if i launched my agenda out into the ether it would push me to get it done. Its kinda weird how blogging can act as a motivating factor; why doesn't just knowing Im doing it for myself and my family have the same effect?? Why does writing about it generate the extra oomph required?

Is it just me? Does anyone else use blogging as a motivational aide?

Saturday, August 2

loose end #3

Now as a general rule, i dont do textiles very well. Cant really say i can knit, can't sew, but i do get overtaken with the emotional impetus to do both, generally as the seasons change. I shop, i cast on, i cut, i start, i hit a snag i cant seem to fix, I get disillusioned, i stop. I think being a perfectionist is very limiting. Not that what i do is perfect, but i am always wanting to do it better, so i quit.

Tah dah!. Its surprisingly difficult for me to post this picture (perfectionist issues) but i did it, i finished the damn hat! And it looks so cute on the boybean, he looks like the deer

Pattern is Debbie Bliss hat from her Baby Knits Book and yarn is Layette Bella Baby 80% bamboo/20% merino from Spotlight

Friday, August 1

tidying up loose ends and creating a few more

Heres my current list of to do's ( ...besides finishing the thesis!)Possibly called procrastination? During my honours year (!@# 18 years ago OMG!)i created an amazing permaculture food forest in my backgarden(having never gardened before) which was incredibly productive so Im no stranger to rather large scale procrastination techniques.

:: 2 danish teak chairs i have been carting around for over 7 years waiting for me to strip, sand, oil and re-upholster. Found them in an op-shop for $50.00 and couldnt say no and i think they will make great deck chairs for lounging outside. Both stripped and sanded, one oiled

:: wood fired pizza oven i promised my husband i would build while on maternity leave. Russells at Willunga is my inspiration; great vibe and great business to support as Russell has such a wonderful community spirit. Socialising around a pizza oven is my idea of a great party and i like the idea of firing it up in the morning and having a full day of cooking. I see that Monsieur Oliver is into it too. Site chosen, Russell's 'how to' book at hand... need to plan my attack

:: sew up seams on boybeans beanie i made from an interesting bamboo/merino blend which is incredibly soft.

:: check the limoncello for readyness for Stage 2

:: string bag I figure maybe crochet is easier than knitting and its designed to be full of holes...Im good at those

Haiku Friday

Crikey, its Friday AGAIN. I may have to give up on the Haiku Friday thing...too much like a time keeper.

woken by hailstones
drumming on the red tiled roof
cocooned warm in bed