Monday, December 29, 2008

Ho, ho, ho...Merry Christmas!

Our local fruit shop, Tonna's, had a dancing Santa outside again this year. Apparantly he enthralled some children and terrified others! Rosie was definitely under his spell and went back several times to dance with him. "Can I cuddle Santa??"

On Christmas Eve we met some lovely friends up at our local Botanic Gardens, high up on Wombat Hill.

Gee it was blissful up there, the kids played in the trees, we chatted and had a wonderful time. Rosie danced in the light of the setting sun and a good time was had by all. I could do that every year.
On Christmas day we had a lovely, relaxing lunch outside in our garden, under a blue, blue sky - with just a hint of summer breeze.

Mum came & spent the day with us too which made the day even better. Our neighbours, Fiona & Toma, also joined us for lots of delicious food and drink. I don't normally eat that much on Chrismas day but I really went to town this year and loved every mouthful. Bit of a pigsie really.

The kids had so much fun and loved all the festivities. This is Sunday with her new doll, Emily.

We are off in the morning to the beach for 10 days of fun (?) yes I love packing up the car, driving for three hours & then unpacking! Also love the settling in period where children don't sleep properly and are eaten alive by mosquito's. Fun. Oh and the kids waking up early and making heaps of noise part is good too. No...seriously it will be good to have a break from normal life and get to settle arguments & practice good parenting in a different location!!!! Do I sound a bit jaded? A bit over it? Not me....I love the holidays! x

ps I'm only whinging because I'm tired, just ignore me... I'm a grumpy bum tonight x

Newsflash! Mark & I went to our friends dress up party on Saturday night - they are leaving for Japan in a few weeks & the theme was Japanese. Do you think we look like John & Yoko? We had a lot of fun...what a party!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mental Mama & the Great Outdoors

A quick post this week as things are pretty hectic & I'm struggling to have even one clear thought! What with end of school stuff, parties, present purchasing, reports, children to organise, hats to find, bums to wipe, lists to write, food to make, cards to send, tempers to soothe it's no wonder I'm frazzled. Did I mention exciting housework? I keep feeling like I've forgotton something...yesterday I almost drove off from school pickup without one of the kids! It really is a mental time of year. I was so determined not to get stressed but here I am .... feeling stressed! I guess it's kind of funny really. Ahhh! Anyway, breath, I tell myself, breath, it will all be ok.

Part of my de-stressment program (it's very official) has been getting out and about with the dogs. I absolutely LOVE going down to the lake area and being surrounded by big trees, birds, clean country air and of course the gorgeous lake views. It is so calming.

Watching the dogs have a swim and then run off their pent up doggie energy is good too.

We live in such a beautiful area and one thing I would definitly like to do next year is to explore more of the Central Highlands & take more photo's. Somehow I think the dogs might like that project too!
Newsflash! We just had a call from our local paper, The Advocate, to say that Lucy has won the Write a letter to Santa competition! Wow! She is so excited. It's particularly good too as she really tried hard to write a great letter and perservered even when she had some trouble with it. Her letter also shows her kind nature as she didn't ask for much for herself, more for other people. I am a so happy for her.

Well Christmas is almost upon us and I hope that everyone (including me) finds some peace, (remember to breath!), joy in the small things and most of all good times and love with family & friends. x

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fun in Fitzroy & other stories...

The girls and I had a great time in the Big Smoke on the weekend. We joined some other friends and their children to have some cooking fun at Little Kitchen in North Fitzroy. We popped in to say hi to Muzz & Margaret in their tin shed home on the way. We got to meet Stephen from the British Museum who is organising an Australian Printmakers exhibition for 2010 and had come to select some of Muzz's work. How exciting.

Then it was off to Little Kitchen where I fell in love with these shiny jelly moulds.

What a lot of fun the kids had cooking while us big people enjoyed a quiet cuppa down at the Tin Pot. Walking back to Muzz's in the rain was an adventure too!

That night we stayed at my lovely Mum's house & had a relaxing time. It's so different with only two kids...almost peaceful! I actually slept through the whole! The next morning we waved goodbye and headed for Footscray to see our best friends, the Pardy's. The girls danced and had fun together...Kitty Rose, you look so fancy in those shoes!

Back home and it's always great to be back together. Just as the kids were going to bed last night we suddenly heard beautiful music coming from outside! It was the our local brass band who come past every December to play Christmas carols in the street. As the sun set on Wombat Hill we swayed & clapped & hummed & sang. How gorgeous, how festive, how country!

Talking of country I just had to show you our first egg since our big chooken massacre. It's been a long time coming. What to do with such a glorious and much anticipated egg....hmmm....

....biccies!!! I thought you might like to try this chocolate chip biccie recipe.

Best-ever choc chip cookies

Ingredients: 125g salted butter

1/2 cup white sugar & 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 small eggs

1 to 2 drops of vanilla essense

1 3/4 cups self raising flour

250 g choc chips

Preheat oven to 160 degress celcius

Using an electric mixer, cream butter with sugars until pale. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in sifted flour until mixed through. Fold through choc chips. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper. Roll dough into teaspoon-sized balls and place on tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes. If you like them chewy, don't let them brown, as they will crisp up as they cool down. Makes about 48

It really is the best. It comes from the Frankie magazine cookbook, "Afternoon Tea" that Allison gave me for Christmas last year. I have made them a million times now and they are always fantastic! bye for now, x

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lavender, birthdays & random hugs

On Tuesday I popped out to the local lavender farm to catch up with some lovely friends for lunch and a bit of peace amongst all the end of year/pre Christmas craziness. It is such a nice place to visit & how fun is it to be with good friends and have a chat & a laugh? A little willy wagtail kept darting past and the resident doggie cuddled up on the bench next to Sam. It is so green and beautiful & there are photo opportunities aplenty!

Lovely Michelle

Phippala & Sam in the flowerbed

Lots of goodies in the shop

Other exciting events of the week have been, Billy's 7th birthday - yay!! He has recovered well from the dreaded chicken pops and enjoyed tucking in to his cake and pressies. The birthday preparations began in earnest earlier in the day with the girls making cards and presents for their brother.

"can I lick the bowl??!!".

I think he was pretty happy with the end result.

So, another busy week has flown by - Number Four finished up her school transition program and had a hoot of a day. Boy is she ready for school! The kids are enjoying all the Christmas hoo- hah. Charlotte put up The Tree yesterday and it's looking fabulous & festive.

Before I go I have to tell you a quick Happy Christmas story - yesterday I received a great big hug from a sweet lady who was pushing her mum in a wheelchair through the crowd at Big W. She stopped to let us through and as I smiled & thanked her she threw her arms around me and said "Merry Christmas & God Bless you darling". What a gorgeous woman she was and her mum was too. I could feel myself starting to cry (doesn't take much anyway) at the simple beauty of that random hug. Honestly, it's people like her who make Christmas what it should be - about love, kindness, togetherness and joy.

Off to the Big Smoke with L & S tomorrow, should be fun! Have a lovely, shiny, happy weekend, x

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy market day! part two...

Boy bunnies hanging out.
Busy, busy!
Is Pepper the most beautiful baby in the world? So smoochable!

Do you like Daisy the bunny in her bed? It was cold at the market in the early morning & I really wanted to hop in bed with her and snuggle up.

One of the best things was catching up with friends and people we love.

It was such a busy weekend...what with Lucy's guide camp, the Super, Big and Exciting Inside Out dance concert (Sunday's first performance), the chicken pox (Bill) & the market...amazing. Actually I thought the family got through it really well considering we were all either tired/sick/overwhelmed (and some all at once!). Thankfully Mark kept the home fires burning during all the mayhem. In the middle of it all I managed to dart into Ballarat to bid farewell to my brother, Ben, who was off on the Great Victorian Bike Ride. I made him a little Richmond bunny to tie to the front of his bike.

Hope you have a great week, thanks for popping by x

Happy market day! part one...

Wow! Yesterday's first Daylesford Maker's Market was so much fun...lots of lovely things to look at, friendly people, sunshine, wind, music, kids and colour. The Dandelion bunnies had a fabulous time too and enjoyed meeting new friends and having cuddles. My friend Phillipa had some of her beautiful Daylesford bags on my stall and people also seemed to love Barbara's felt animals, they are so sweet. My mum, who knits the lovely cardigan's and clothes for Dandelion came along and helped in so many ways as did dear Charlotte, aren't I lucky?

Steph from Doilly was jumping up and down with excitement and her stall looked fantastic.

Sunday had fun playing with her friends and getting her face painted.

Lark's stall looked beautiful and Allison said it was one of the most busy market stall's she has had. Isn't her Lark patchwork sign gorgeous?

Matilda fell in love with Sooty. Has Sooty eaten up that carrot yet Matilda?

A highlight of the day was having a visit from my dad, Muzz & his lovely offsider, Margaret. Thanks for coming Muzz!

I thought the market was a great success and that Kate, Allison and Steph did a fantastic job organising it. A great big thanks to them - as with any event there is always alot of work behind the scenes that often doesn't get noticed. I hope there will be more market's in the future, it's a great way to see what other people make and to support other artist/designers/friends. I had so much fun and was buzzing all day until I fell, exhausted, into bed. Phew! x
part 2 to follow soon...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beck in the Big City

On Friday I had a much needed break in Melbourne. After taking the kids to creche & school I tootled down the highway listening to some soppy music. It's funny how you really look forward to some time on your own and then when you get it... it's just not that easy!! I was feeling a bit emotional and had a little cry. Boo has been a hectic and stressful few weeks and I've been feeling a tad worn out lately. Anyway, you'll be glad to hear I did cheer up and didn't look back!! Yayyy! I stayed at Mum's in Fitzroy which is always relaxing & fun. Some high lights of my trip were... purchasing my gorgeous, new camera (remember Rosie demolished my old one?) and...

...sitting with my Mum chatting while she knitted a sweet, green bunny cardigan.

... going out for dinner with the lovely & clever Charlotte

... & eating exquisite gnocchi, the best in Melbourne at Woodstock in North Fitzroy (see Charlotte above in a gnocchi induced trance), roaming around in Boarders with the above mentioned Char. Of course the main highlight was...waking up late on Saturday and not having to do anything for ANYONE! Ha! Also going to Savers and finding an adorable, folk art style children's trolley and then visiting A1 Bakery in Sydney Road & leaving with a stack of delicious Lebanese pizza's and other special delicacies was pretty, damn good. Yum.

Gee it was nice to just blah around without much of a plan and without any dependants. Could I put in a request for another few weeks of this kind of thing? Please? I'm sure I could handle it. Anyway, it was joyous to come home and be cuddled and kissed and to get to sit through several lengthy 'shows'. Singing and dancing extravaganza's are really going off around here. Whew!! Bit of air guitar, a few off the couch jumps etc, lot of fake mike work, heaps of dancing..good stuff from the kids. Welcome home.

So with one week to go to the Maker's Market I'm now hard at it getting the bunnies ready for their first public outing. This little fellow has come along nicely....

as has little Mary Celeste, who is a favourite of mine.

Hope you had a happy weekend, bye for now. x

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fairies at the bottom of the garden...

The girls have been fairies alot lately...Rosie loves dressing up and Lucy & Sunday can't help but join in the fairy fun. What a lovely life.. playing fairies in the garden with your sisters on a sunny day!

Last night I made my signature dish of vegie lasagne. Now it's not a hearty, lots of vegies type lasagne, it is simpler but really delicious. I worked with a lovely lady, Maria, years ago at the Evelyn Hotel and she told me to how to make the lasagne in this way. My whole family love it and that's saying something.

Beck's Easy & Delicious tomato lasagne

Heat oven to about 180 degrees (celcius)

1can diced tomatoes
1 bottle tomato sugo (no herbs, just plain)
1 onion
1 zucchini
handful of home grown parsley, chopped
pasta sheets (fresh is best)
mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1-2 tablespoons flour
parmesan cheese

Ok, here we go. Chop up the onion and fry gently with diced zucchini. Add some garlic, try to use australian garlic, it's much better. After a few minutes, when the vegies are soft add the can of tomatoes and let cook for a few more minutes. Then add the bottle of sugo & parsley and just let it cook slowly while you make the white sauce.

Melt the butter and add flour. When combined slowly add the milk stirring all the time. After a little while it will become thicker (this part can be tricky if kids are hovering and there is alot of chaos in the kitchen, tell them to pipe down & GO OUTSIDE!) and keep stirring, lower the heat and add a handful of parmesan. you could also add nutmeg if you like, I don't usually. Yum! comes the fun part.

Spread some of your tomato sauce on the base of your dish, then a layer of pasta and then a sprinkle of mozzarella. Keep going till all is used up. You will probably have a sheet and a half left of pasta. Finish off with a layer of pasta and then pour your white sauce on top. Sprinkle with a little more parmesan and then into the oven at about 180 degrees. cover with a baking pan so it doesn't brown too quick and remove this in the last 10 - 15 mins. Once cooked let it sit for five minutes while you make a tasty salad.

A lovely, simple dinner that you can adapt to your own tastes, it also freezes well.

Bunnies are going well - if a little more slowly than I would like! There hasn't been alot of time for Dandelion projects lately but hopefully that will change. What a busy time of year it is...we all need to take a few, deep breaths. Phew!

Thanks for popping by, see you soon x