Sunday, December 5, 2010

See how my garden grows

I have lots of things (successfully) growing in the garden this season.

Two of these little guys, pumpkins, bought from my lovely farmer's market for $2 a piece. I can't remember what sort they are, something stripy I think. I stopped to talk to their grower today, he was full of good tips.

My orange tree, with exactly one baby orange, thanks to an enthusiastic 2 year old.

Lots of tomatoes, most grown from seed, this one brought home by the boys from a (free!) planting class at out local garden center. I do have one tigerella bought home from the market, it was reduced and is not looking too happy yet.

Blueberries of course, which my 2 year old delights in picking whenever he spies a ripe one. We have decided to go berry picking this year, as it will a long time (and involve more plants) before we can grow enough berries to satisfy demand.

Ditto the above for these raspberries, except I'm sure both boys will fight to see who gets to these first. I haven't netted these yet.

Curly parsley. I know it's not fashionable but I love it.

A few green beans just showing (not sure what sort as Mr 5 bought these home from preschool).

And I'm very chuffed with my lemon tree, this little fella I put in the ground 7 years ago when we bought this house, and this is the first year it has had more than 3 lemons on it.......3 was last years record.
This year it is literally covered in them. It has an infestation of gall wasps which make it rather odd shaped but I've been told they should not affect the lemon production. But I think this year is the first year the tree has been big enough (it's still rather small for 7 years old) and strong enough to really withstand the wasps and produce.
Admittedly, I have been actually looking after it, rather than ignoring it this year.

And, er, the basil, which is not looking too hot.
I think because it is too hot, I need to move it.

As well as two mini nectarine trees hidden round the back to give to the boys at Christmas.
Mr 5 always asks for his own tree so I thought kill two birds with one stone....a Christmas gift for the boys with a practical application for the whole family.

As long as I remember to water them being that they're out of my regular sight...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Can you smell these?

Mmmm, fresh vanilla pods, they smell SOOOO GOOD!

Grown for the first time in Australia (apparently, I'd need to research that to verify it as fact) and sold at my local farmer's market by the Spice Lady.

I'm going to give making my own vanilla essence a go.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Best flourless, gluten free chocolate cake and the recipe is UP!

I have a fabulous cake recipe that I really should share, it's more of a mud-type cake than a regular cake, flourless, chocolately, squidegy and delicious.

It happens to be gluten free too, by virtue of being flourless, and is fabulous for any fancy or not-so-fancy occasion.

I have however, misplaced the recipe.

I know, clever aren't I?

I pulled it out of my file folder to write up a couple of days ago and didn't get to it,'s mia right this moment.

BUT, I have some photos to leave you drooling while I look for it.

Ok, found it! Here it is:

250 grams dark chocolate
125 grams butter
6 eggs: 2 whole, 4 separated
175 grams caster sugar

First up, line the bottom of a 23cm springform with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or the microwave), then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.

Beat the 2 whole eggs and the 4 yolks with 75 grams of the caster sugar, then carefully add the chocolate.

In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the 100 grams of caster sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but not too stiff.

Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites,

then fold in the rest of the whites.

Pour into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly.

Cool the cake in the tin, the middle will sink as it cools.

When you're ready to eat it, fill the centre with soft whipped cream and grate some chocolate over the top.

Hmm, I really need a better final picture here, but think dense, fudgey chocolate, cool, soft whipped cream...(can you tell I nearly turned this cream into butter? Whoops.)

I think this is a Nigella recipe, but as usual I'm working from a page that I photocopied long ago, so which book exactly I can't tell you.

Oh, and the original also has cointreau and orange zest in it (you add them to the chocolate mixture along with the eggs: 2 tablespoons of cointreau and the grated zest of one orange, in case you're interested). I prefer the plain version I've listed though.

Lasts well in the fridge, if you can stretch it out that long, it's very more-ish.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is Melbourne

So, just a few days ago I was celebrating the return of hot weather, but we are in Melbourne after all and hot on the heels of that hot day was a really, really wet one.

Just in time for the weekend.


Four people in a small house on a wet day.

One of whom is tired and crabby.
And wants to watch the golf on tv.
And actually hear the commentary.

Two of whom are small children. Boys, at that. Loud ones.

And me.

Feeling like the meat in the sandwich, I decided it was in everyone's best interests to get the boys outside for a bit, despite the inclement weather.

We found it is possible to blow bubbles in wet weather, just as well as fine weather.

In fact, it's more interesting because the bubbles settle on the ground and other objects without popping.

Something about the surface tension I imagine. Need to look that one up to clarify.

Cool, huh?

Later, we went down to our local man-made wetland, which is where all the storm water goes.

We've examined the street level drains and seen what happens when they're blocked by leaves, so it was interesting for the boys to see where all that water actually ends up.

We usually only come down here in fine weather, when there's next-to-no water running through this concrete cutting.

The whole area had a different feel, with puddles to jump in, frogs to search for, ducks to try and photograph and the amazing revelation by Mr 5 that trees can actually look wet.

Um, right, yes they can.

Hi ho, life is challenging at the moment, but it's rather fun, too.

Loving it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

No rain today....

so we managed to get planting!

As well as what was shown in my previous post, we picked up two of these today...

They should be ok in pots for the first year, beyond that, not sure what we'll do.

And the beans that Mr 5 brought home from pre-school found a home too.

I also noticed a miniature nectarine, a dwarf lemon, boysenberries and blackcurrants that I wouldn't mind bringing home, but I do need to be somewhat realistic.

Don't I?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New babies

Baby plants that is.

Seeing as how we'll be staying put here longer than we'd (I'd) planned, I thought I'd try and get as much use out of our small piece of land as I can. While it doesn't need to look will need to when we sell it....I'll have it looking functional instead.

The boys and I have a variety of seedlings to plant out and we have made a start.
But seeing as how this has been the wettest October in Melbourne in 30 years (most of that rain falling yesterday apparently) our planting hasn't got far this weekend.

However, it won't rain forever (surely?) so some of these baby tomatoes will be going in the ground shortly.

Also in the seed tray are seedlings of basil, roma tomatoes, calendula, marigolds and zinnias. Those last three are really for the boys, particularly Mr 5 as he has an affinity for growing flowers at the moment. Though marigolds are supposed to help keep bugs away from the toms, so they'll go in the ground, and a few pots, together.

And an orange tree, to go with the feijoa tree and blueberry bushes...

I've got some spinach in pots and a few seedlings of parsley too, that are holding out against the snails.
I didn't realise how many snails were hiding in the cracks and crevices around here, until a couple of tiny marigolds were sheared off at ground level, the vandals leaving plenty of evidence behind them to let me know who committed that particular crime.

So the boys and I went on a snail hunt a couple of days ago and rousted out about 5 of the slimy critters, which I tossed over the fence and out on to the road. Mr 5 thinks they were landing on the nature strip and heading off happily to a new home. Er, not so.

But during yesterdays continuous deluge the snails were out in force, so I braved the conditions and did a bit more snail tossing. Then a few more when I went out just before dark, and yet a couple more this morning.

Hopefully all of our snails have now found new home.

In snail heaven.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's a wrap

We're back home and settling in nicely, suddenly two kids and a husband feels soooo easy!

Although there are no nine and eleven year old girls to take my boys off my hands here, darn it.

Soooooooo, we

made hedgehog ( a joint effort of scrunching and munching)

decided it was too cold for swimming so we'd rather stand on our heads
(well, who wouldn't?)

not too cold for us though

tried to squirt the dogs
(the dogs have obviously had a lot of practice avoiding the squirt guns)

did a test run with the diving gear

went dog walking and kite-flying

learned the geee tar

and of course the drums too

gave the library some love
(though this one's going for the fire extinguisher, of course)

decorated cookies

climbed this set of stairs a bazillion times

had a picnic on the upstairs balcony

and took a photo of ourselves to prove we were there, haha

All in all, a fabulous time!

Oh yeah, and the thermomix kicked butt too.
(The thermie at this house has two jugs, so I didn't even need to wash between the really mucky stuff. Culinary heaven!)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last day at the mansion

We made cookies 'em?

Back home tomorrow.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Five kids, two dogs, and me

Life has been NON STOP since last Sunday.

The owners of the mansion are away and asked me if I would like to take charge of their delightful offspring and the two resident dogs.

The scheduled gal broke her foot, so I said yes, and the owners arranged the Grandparents to act as support. The scheduled gal has no kids of her own, whereas the mansion owners knew I'd be bringing my two and they figured a 6.50am run to water-polo, followed by a 7.30am run to choir, followed by an 8.15 run to school all in the one morning might be just a bit much for me to handle with a five and two year old as well, and stay sane.

So the delightful grandparents are doing ALL the school runs, bless their hearts.

I'm doing it as a single parent, because staying here adds an extra twenty minutes at each end of the day to my husband's commute, so he's doing it single at our place.

The offspring are 14, 11 and 9 yrs old (but very nearly 10 yrs old as I keep being reminded) and are for the most part delightful kids. As much as a fourteen year old boy can be delightful that is.

Miss Nearly Ten however is an absolute whirlwind and my Mr 5 ADORES her. BUT, by bedtime he is becoming so overwhelmed that we have had two complete screaming meltdowns over the last three nights. I am doing my best to keep things calm after dinner, but I think a week of Miss Nearly Ten's intensity is wearing on his ability to cope emotionally.

Mr 2 seems able to turn his back and tune her out but Mr 5, not so.

I however, have trouble tuning THIS out...

All fast asleep now though, long may the quiet last...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A sheepish labrador

Hehe, I am house/kid/dog sitting for ten days, with my two kids in tow as well. Right now, the older three kids are at school and my two are parked in front of the tv for a bit.

Well, a storm just came over, thunder, lightening and all. And the big, soppy, chocolate brown labrador has suddenly cuddled himself up at my feet as I sit here at the computer. I was in the kitchen and he sidled over there, looked at me mournfully (maybe it was sheepishly) and flopped down alongside some kitchen cupboards. As soon as I moved to the study, he upped sticks and came too.

I think this big, cuddly lab is afraid of the storm.

How cute!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A (freezing) day at the beach

I decided to risk the dodgy weather today and take the kids down to the foreshore, which is about a twenty minute drive away.

It truly was freezing, I was in long pants, boots, and four layers on top, including a woolly jumper/jersey/sweater (whatever your lingo is, hehe), a windproof jacket and a scarf.

The little guy seems to feel the cold more than his older brother, so as soon as we hit the sand he needed the extra fleece I'd brought along for his brother on the off chance he'd be cold. Or admit to being cold might be more accurate.

They started off rugged up like this...

Quickly progressed to this..

And this...

Bit of a snack...

More water play...

And OF COURSE, the big fella was nearly down to his birthday suit by the end.

And I was ready with towels, dry clothes and snacks when the inevitable melt down from being wet, sandy and FREEZING happened at the end.

Roll on summer!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grand Final, anyone?

It's that time of year again, the last Saturday in September, and two small boys have footy on the brain.

Now, being a Kiwi by birth and upbringing, I could care less about tomorrow's big game, but I am somewhat outnumbered when it comes to gender in this house and my hubby has done a grand brainwashing on the kids.

A successful brainwashing, I should add. Helped along by football day at pre-school, the very recent discovery of football cards and a plethora of other small boys similarly entranced.

So, this is what was happening at my house today.

See, I have this ball, I know it's not an actual footy ball...

Ok, little bro, you stand here like this...

Then you do this...

Make sure you run round lots...

Phew, half time...

Ok, blogger is erking me tonight, it's taking forever to get my photos the right way round, for some reason it wants to put them up sideways, upside down, anyway but the right way.

That's it for now, footy fans!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to normal programming...

After a pediatric ophthalmologist appointment, followed a few days later by an appointment with a pediatrician at our local hospital, the diagnosis is...............a simple motor tic. 

Nothing to be concerned about, don't bring attention to it, should disappear and/or morph into something else by about 6 weeks - 3 months.

So, we move on.
 I think this is just one more in a series of odd little things he does, some of which can also be classified as simple motor tics, albeit, less obvious ones.

THIS odd thing however is not a tic, although given that the day was about 12C, that is odd enough for me.

Life goes on as normal. School holidays coming up, eek!

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