Saturday, September 15, 2012

Spring ...

has sprung and it has been a hive of industry around here. About time some might say. In the past few weeks I have planted rocket and zucchini, gotten rid of an old bar fridge that was taking up room in the kitchen, replaced it with a stainless steel bench that looks fab, killed a redback in the back yard, and generally de-cluttered and tidied.

But the thing I am most excited about is my newly thought up method of covering up an extremely ugly light fitting. We have 4 of these in our house and they have been bothering me for years. It is a rental so there isn't much we can do about them and I have been thinking long and hard about what I could do to cover them up. I had considered making some kind of drum shade to cover them up but that all seemed like a lot of work, requiring equipment I didn't have and I thought that perhaps it might be too heavy. The ceiling in the dining room was water damaged a few years ago and I am not confident that it would hold up anything too heavy. Anyway, last night I hit on the idea of fabric, attached with a bulldog clip, to hold up the light fittings. And today, whilst charity shopping with the family in Riverwood I found a lovely little white cot sheet with broderie anglaise lace edging. Very sweet and only $3. I got it home and initially panicked that it was too small but then got up on the dining room table and bunched it up over the light fititng and attached with bulldog clip. Ever so simple and effective. I just had to tweak the fabric here and there and push the bulldog clip down so you couldn't see it from below and 5 minutes later, it was done. Here are some pics:

This is an example of the light fitting, from the lounge room:

Truly hideous, wouldn't you agree?

And the end result:

Now I just need to find appropriate fabric for the other three lightfittings. An excuse to do some more charity shopping I guess, or perhaps a visit to Spotlight is in order. In the meantime I have Chet's 4th birthday party to plan, some sewing to get to and some counselling study to finish. I am hoping that spring is going to be much more productive than winter was ...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vegan banana cake

Towards the end of last year I was diagnosed with a range of food intolerances. Some, like a wheat intolerance, I already knew I had but others were quite a surprise. Kidney beans, egg white, almonds and corn also showed up as well as cow's milk, cashews, pear and melon. This has been quite difficult, especially as I often used to use almond meal in place of flour, not to mention eating polenta practically on a weekly basis. So I have been working on my diet and also trying to change the way I bake in order to fit in with my new food regime.

One thing I often made was Stephanie Alexander's simple banana cake. Very easy and very yummy but containing things like eggs, flour and butter. The other day I had some very soft bananas and thought I would give the recipe a go, but swapping the ingredients I couldn't have for those I could. Besides, I need to start doing something with the 5 kg of spelt flour I bought recently. Here is my interpretation of Stephanie's recipe.

100 g coconut oil (approx)
1 and a half cups of sugar
Natural egg replacer to the equivalent of 2 eggs
1 cup ripe mashed banana - I used 5 bananas
Few drops of pure vanilla
250 g spelt flour
1 teaspoon bicarb
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup goats milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Putting it together:
Line base of a loaf tin with baking paper.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix oil and sugar with barmix until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg replacer, banana and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients and goats milk and lemon juice.
Spoon into tin and bake for 1 hour.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Needed and wanted

We are working on the difference between needs and wants right now. An important life lesson for sure, and one I don't always have a handle on. Yesterday Chet was building a garage out of a Wiggles domino set and some duplo and was looking for a space to put one his cars. He turned to me and asked: "is it needed or wanted?" Excellent question I thought, and explained that it was wanted - cars don't 'need' garages but it would be nice sometimes for them to have them. I then went on to say that he needs food and water and air and sleep and cuggles and he grinned at me and said 'yes, and kisses too'. I think he has got the idea mostly, although not sure the conversation will stop the daily plaintive demand that he 'needs ice-cream'!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Been playing around with Wordle tongiht using this blog's URL. This is what I get:

Wordle: leaps

It's kinda fun - combining geekiness and words, what's not to like? A new header for the blog might be in order.

On a side note, a lot has been happening since I last posted - Chet is now toilet trained, I got a new computer (Macbook Air, fantastic, just need to work out how to do a few things), we went on holiday, it was my first Christmas since my Dad died and Minx went missing - we did find her after 5 days, thankfully. Summer has been pretty dire so hardly any beach time but we did manage many trips to charity shops over the Christmas break. The K-man decided to start buying 70s plates (and believe me, we do not need any more places, 70s or otherwise). As quickly as I could get rid of stuff he was busily acquiring more. So much for de-cluttering, an endless process it seems. Now that the year has well and truly begun I should have a bit more time to spend here. We shall see!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy things ...

Life for the past few months has been a bit blah, one way or another, so I have been grasping with both hands anything that makes me happy. Here are some of the things that have taken me to a happy place recently.

A beautiful figgjo teapot I found on the street on morning on my way to work. I immediatley scooped it up and hurried home with it. It was a bit dusty but otherwise in good condition. It makes me smile every time I see it.

A blue own from Vinnies, on a hand-knitted (by me) placement made with wool also sourced from Vinnies, on knitting needles from eBay. Sustainable creativity at its best! Be warned friends, you may be the recipients of hand-knitted place-mats or coasters in the near future.

It is spring and my lavender is flowering for the first time. I have also planted some cherry tomatoes and am hoping for a bumper crop.

And finally my boys on Fathers Day. They make me smile every day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Compliments ...

Chet is becoming quite the complimenter. Yesterday, he saw our neighbour's sister and thought it was our neighbour, Liz, and said "I like Liz's hair", because the sister's hair was quite different to Liz's and he had noticed the difference. This morning he saw me getting into the shower and said "Mummy, I like your belly button". That is where he should have stopped. I (foolishly) asked him why and his response: "because it is funny!" I wonder if he will be a charmer when he grows up?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

African reading ...

I've been reading a lot lately, mainly about Africa, Zimbabwe to be precise, in an effort to understand a bit more about where I come from and where my father came from. I guess it is partly to understand my father a little better, seeing as he is no longer around for me to ask questions. Also because some of the people described in these books remind of some of the people who came to my Dad's funeral - they all seem to have a certain look about them. In a review I read of one of these books, the reviewer intimated that the last thing the reading public needed was another white man's view of the situation in Zimbabwe but they did go on to say that the book in question did add something to the oeuvre. From my perspective these books did add something to my knowledge and understanding of my past and of the recent past of Zimbabwe. All three books resonate with a love of country and a bewilderment regarding the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe. The absurdity of day to day life in a corrupt third world country is highlighted as well.

The three main books I have read are:

The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe
by Douglas Rogers
It was funny and sad and absurd all at once and the tenacity of the author's parents is to be admired. Rogers now lives in New York, but was born and grew up in what is now Zimbabwe. From goodreads: "The Last Resort is an inspiring, coming-of-age tale about home, love, hope, responsibility, and redemption. An edgy, roller-coaster adventure, it is also a deeply moving story about how to survive a corrupt Third World dictatorship with a little innovation, humor, bribery, and brothel management."

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller
The author's brother was born in the same hospital I was born in, the Lady Chancellor Maternity Home in what was then Salisbury. Fuller now lives in Wyoming with her family. She tells a moving tale of her family's long engagement with Africa, from Kenya, to Zimbabwe to Zambia. She clearly loves her mother, despite her mother's complaints that she is going to put her in 'another awful book'. "A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days." - goodreads.

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa
by Peter Godwin
Written by another Zimbabwean who lives in the US, Godwin is a bit older than the other two writers and actually served time in the Rhodesian army. The book starts with his father's heart attack which really resonated with me given my father's heart condition and his recent death from heart failure. Like the other two books this concentrates on the recent collapse of Zimbabwe following the start of the farm invasions and land grabs that ultimately resulted in the destruction of the economy and looks at how the author's friends and family cope in the aftermath of this. His sister ends up having to leave the country and his parents remain in Harare sinking slowly into a poverty stricken old age.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Leaps and bounds ...

"We are born naked and stay naked for only a few moments until we are wrapped in our first clothes. In our small shoes, our little trousers and tops and shorts, until we grow out of them in leaps and bounds, and begin to develop our own ideas about what to wear - we have always got something or other on."

The Thoughtful Dresser
Linda Grant

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Where ...

It has been a while between updates and I am slowly coming to terms with a whole lot of stuff that is happening at the moment. But, Chet continues to delight. He has lately become the boy who cried 'where?' - at every opportunity. I ask him if he wants some toast, and his response is 'where?' I ask him if he wants to put on his boots and he shouts 'where?', pretty much any question I might ask him could be guaranteed a response of 'where?' He still loves The Beatles and has a Beatles towel that we have to fix round his neck with a peg so he can run around and be 'super Chet'. Here is a photo of him enjoying dry wheatbix that he helped himself to while I was in the shower.

I have been reading a lot - my usual way to make sense of life. The other day I came across the following, which neatly sums up the way I am feeling.

"Whatever a family's tragedy, children demand to be cared for, fed, and played with. This is, I think, one of the great blessings they bring to our lives. Mourning must be filtered through the lens of their all-consuming needs, and their infinite capacity for joy." Death gets a time-out by Ayelet Waldman.
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