Thursday, June 30, 2011


A gift for newborn 'Matilda'; a new hat and overalls that I couldn't resist. I feel confident that it won't be long before little Matilda knows all the words to that famous Australian song and a few Canadian equivalents because, though she lives in Sydney, her Dad's Canadian too (and a dear friend of D's). I'd love to see the figures on Canadian-Australian partnerships in this world. I bet there's quite a few!

With all the newborns in our world and all the knitting projects I have underway, I needed a pattern for a quick, sweet hat and this does the job (details to come). The yarn was wonderful to work with, as always.


Two cakes for Dada, another for a cousin made by his Dada
Hello from our third week in the land of four. Another year down, another June in which to recouperate! You see, it was also Dada's birthday in May along with two very important cousins. In our family, it's a busiest birthday month by far. Even Dino enjoyed two cakes this year - one at home and one with my sister's family. We're very taken with the idea of birthday WEEKS around here and it's partially the reason why I've taken so long to post this entry - we're recovering!

Creating a birthday table for Dada
Elsa decorated all corners of the house for her Dada's celebration
Enjoying his new crepe/pancake maker, a perfect birthday gift for Dino from family
Rafa leads his Dad through the zoo grounds
And then, we celebrated Elsa's fourth (!) birthday with a morning at Melbourne Zoo followed by an afternoon of food, family and friends at home.
At the zoo; a perfect tree under which to enjoy a birthday morning tea
We enjoyed the intimate celebration, though we almost starved the guests when the oven stopped working properly. Thankfully the neighbours allowed us to use theirs. Is there anything better than homemade pizza? Not to me.

Saved by the nieghbours, my pizzas make it to our hungry tummies
The most amazing thing happened on Elsa's birthday; we awoke to find the fairies had constructed their own personal, fairy-size door outside the entry to her bedroom AND had delivered a very special gift of a lovely book and fairy skirt. They even left a gift for her little brother. Those fairies think of everything (well, some things!).

In keeping with her zoo outing this birthday and her interest in the new elephants there, a little one made it to her birthday crown via a very rushed, last minute embellishment by this Mama.

Not a great photo but, you get the idea - not a great elephant either but she understood!

And there was this of course. Plenty of other little (and big) projects planned for her birthday remain unfinished but that's okay, they'll be enjoyed at whatever stage they make it to her sweet hands. And most importantly, she had a wonderful, wonderful celebration.

It was a birthday month that left poor Gnocchi wondering "what about me?"
These past few months, I've enjoyed watching the kids relish many opportunities to play with their cousins as we shifted from one birthday celebration to the next (the Melbourne based cousins at least, though the Skype chats with the multitudes of Sydney-based and Torontonian cousins were also muchly appreciated). A visit to their cousins/my sister's is never complete without checking in on the guineas and collecting some treasures from the garden.

On the sidelines at her cousin's soccer match in her birthday dress-ups
And when it was all over, time to sit and enjoy a warm cup of tea dressed as part fairy, part queen!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It wasn't long before these raw wontons were cooked and being devoured by the kids
Our latest 'discovery' on the food front: wontons! Well, I've often eating them at restaurants but we'd never made them at home and they seemed like the perfect project to share with the kids. They were! A fun, messy, busy little cooking project. The first time I made these I was merely helping at my sister's place as they made these for my niece's birthday dinner and we enjoyed the process so much, including the eating bit, that we've made them at home a few times lately. Yummo. And now anytime we have a 'wonton craving' we'll pop into Footscray for a great choice of wonton wrappers.

We were inspired by the multitide of wonton recipes out there and eventually came up with our own concotion of the following.
  • minced chicken or pork (we're looking forward to trying them with prawns)
  • grated and/or finely chopped vegetables of any type (carrot and brocoli works well)
  • grated or finely chopped shallots/spring onion or onion (we prefer the spring onion option)
  • herbs (corander and mint are so great with these)
  • hoisin sauce and/or sweet chili sauce (our kids tolerate only a little) and/or oyster sauce
  • honey (occassionally I've added a touch of honey to the mixture)
You can play around with quantities depending on both the amount you're making and your taste preferences. Lay out your wontons and brush all edged with egg. Pop a heaped teaspoon full of the mixture in the middle of the wrapper and close by pulling up to create a little parcel. The wrapper will stick and stay together well if you pinch it inwards. Either place them in a steamer or fry in hot oil (you need quite a bit of oil and it should be very hot; you can deep fry them but I seem to get away with shallow frying instead).

Monday, June 27, 2011


A fourth birthday gift to Elsa from her Mama (a.k.a moi!) that I plan to make it again and again, perhaps in red or green next? The pattern is wonderfully straight-forward and quick, which are important prerequisites for me at present (though I can't say I had too many opportunities to sit and knit this over the past few months, when I did I was able to achieve more than expected in a short amount of time).

This is a size 6 to cater for the seemingly unstoppable speed at which she's growing - slow down little girl! For now, the sleeves will be rolled up slightly and her bottom kept very warm with it's length but I'm sure it won't be long before I'm knitting the next size up. And who knows, she might even get another size 6 sooner than expected; it will be tough to stay away from this pattern as it was such a joy to knit and she's loving it so much - true, it's not only me that's become obsessed with this garment, she also insists on wearing it at every opportunity. Yay! Phew, Mama hit the mark!
I ordered the Madeline Tosh yarn from here determined to have the same colour as shown in the image attached to the pattern but eventually went for a slightly brighter colour ('Cammomile' rather than 'Butter'). I would knit again with this yarn any time. The buttons are from here.

It's nice to have the reminder of sunshine on a winter's day don't you think? Though our winter days are not completely void of the real stuff down here, we always enjoy more. Greedy sun-hogs that we are. Now all we need do is take a look at Elsa in this cardigan for a reminder of the light on the darker winter days.
Lantern in hand ready for the Winter Solstice lantern walk with her 'kinder'/playgroup

Perfect cardigan to wear on a dog walk too :)

Other bits of brightness: candles at  the Solstic celebration this past Saturday night
On the needles now: a hat for a newborn

Sunday, June 19, 2011


A slightly delayed 'blog celebration' of Elsa's last week in the land of three. A week in late May when we enjoyed commentary and questioning such as "next week, I'll be soooo much bigger we'll certainly need to buy me some new clothes" and "Mama, when I'm four, can I still have porridge for breakfast". And perhaps my favourite "Mama, do you still remember the day I was born". Yes indeed Elsa! And thereby started many conversations about that day.

What a lovely, and sometimes challenging, year it was. The year that she really started to explore the body she's in; so much climbing, running, jumping, dancing, skipping...and so many new things; swimming, writing, news ways of drawing and painting, the beginnings of reading, a fascination with fairy-tales, much 'new'. So much enquiry, so much wonder. So many precious moments. Four. Wow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Nothing to do with the soup, except that she opted for some garden maintenance
with her Mama while it was stewing away. Wondering about the semi-clad tummy? Apparently that's what workmen do when they're working on the road on a hot day...not exactly 'hot' this day but apparently warm enough to warrant this..
At Em's request, here is 'my' recipe for Meatball Soup. This was another favourite at Bouzouki and my mother-in-law was kind enough to share it with me, now I'm sharing it with you. Years back, when working elsewhere on the island (eleven "years back" to be precise), I recall darting back to the restaurant during my lunch-break for a bowl of this soup, always warm and ready to go with toasted flat-bread on the side. It was the perfect aid to my first full Autumn on the West Coast helping me to adjust to the cooler weather, which was a shock having come from Spring in Sydney. Her lentil soup also helped me over the line. I'll have to share that recipe soon - scrumptious!


1/2 kg ground beef
1 egg
1 onion
1/4 cup pearl rice (arboria or short-grain work well too)
3 tablespoons parsley chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint chopped
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients and roll into small balls (tablespoon width or so - you chose). Roll meat balls in a small amount of plain flour, set aside.

5-6 cups beef broth (I often use vegetable broth)
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of basil and or/parsley

In a large saucepan, combine broth ingredients and bring to a boil. Drop meatballs in one at a time so they don't stick together. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat, or until meatballs are cooked through.

Some additions...
You can add 1/2 cup cooked orzo or some left over rice or some cooked lentils or, well you chose really. It's an easy recipe to play with.  I'm also partial to some tomato paste stirred through the broth. I play around with the herbs both in terms of quantity and selection. In the cooler months when we don't have basil in the garden, I sometimes add a little dried oregano.

Bon Appetit!