Friday, November 30, 2012


The Tomtes' Christmas Porridge
Written yesterday...sent today...(clearly!). And I am still without a camera so, no photos! (I've taken many but on D's iphone and am yet to download them).

It's true, the days have been lovely and today was lovely and HOT! I believe the thermostat hit 39 degrees around here and, wow, we felt it. Thankfully, the house was cool but there were necessary outings to check on baby chicks, big chicks and much adored and fussed over vegetable patches. But we made it through and Elsa and Rafael happily went to bed and sleep despite their parents being convinced they'd be up long past bed time - even with fans and A/C, it's sometimes difficult so sleep on a hot day, isn't it? As a kid in Sydney living without air conditioning (really, it wasn't as common back then), my siblings and I spent many a hot night lying in bed with cool, wet face-cloths on our foreheads and glasses of icy cold water by our beds. At times, Mum and Dad would buckle and let us hop in the pool for a quick swim, which I imagine was often not such a quick swim at all - imagine trying to get all those kids out of the pool on a hot night (there were/are ten of us!).

Wow, two and a bit months since my last post. So much has being happening here against a wonderful back-drop, or rhythm, of calm (well, mostly) but I feel the energy a-changing as the Christmas and holiday (and summer!) season nears and the list grows. I feel driven to reflect, to look back on the past few months but, where to start? There was a 40th birthday, a 3rd birthday (Raf is THREE!), a good number of visitors from Sydney including Mum/Nana and some siblings, a beach holiday, so much gardening, six one-day old baby chickens that needed so much attention (and still do, though less), school fair crafting (so much!), a school fair, some knitting, some sewing, some baking, some...well, living! And, I do plan to post some pictures of it all but, for now it's all about Christmas in our home.

The first batch of gingerbread has been baked, though it's also mostly been eaten so I'll need to make more (!), the fruit sourced for the jam, the Christmas pudding boiled, we've made some gift tags and plenty of cards, the international gifts were recently posted (reasonably early so as to in utilize the more affordable 'surface-mail' option - this is the first year I've actually got it together in time!), the shortbread has been rolled and popped in the freezer, the Christmas tree is ready.and well, things are rolling towards Christmas in a bit-by-bit, fun, relaxed fashion. Despite all this activity,  the 'to do' lists keep growing and I say 'lists' because it would be far too straight-forward to have just the one, wouldn't it?! :). As much as I sometimes whine about some aspects of the 'silly season', it's clear that I mostly enjoy it and even clearer that the kids enjoy it all!

While as a family we generally start preparing for Christmas from the start of Advent, things have started rolling a little earlier this year, just a little. I blame the arrival of new Christmas picture books and my delay at placing them out of view and reach. Around here, once little eyes spot new picture books there's no denying them the pleasure! The most popular have been The Tomtes Christmas Porridge, Marys Little Donkey and the Flight to Egypt and Christmas in Noisy Village.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


This week, there's lots of talk about parties around here, mainly because our second attempt at D's 40th birthday celebration is planned for Saturday.  The children are excited and we're busily preparing for the gathering. The party/birthday talk extended to many a car trip this week, with my favourite being a conversation between Elsa and Rafael yesterday:

* Rafael "I come to your birthday party Else?" (her birthday was in June!)
* Elsa "of course you will"
* Rafael "and the next one?"
* Elsa "yes, of course! You're my brother, you'll come to all my birthdays even when we're old, old kids"
* Rafael smiles
* Elsa "we love each other, we're best friends. You know that"
* Rafael "me love you to Else"
* Elsa "I love you too Rafi"

At which point, I glance at them in the rear-view mirror and see Elsa take her brother's hand without the slightest glance in his direction - just a natural reaching out, a beautiful little expression of love and reassurance as she watched the world passing by. At the next red light, some 3 kilometres up the road, I turned to look back and they were still holding hands. A very sweet sibling moment that I was so lucky to share.

And I do hope they will always share their birthdays with one another in some way, regardless of age or geography. And I wouldn't mind joining in with their Dada either! For now, we focus on his belated birthday celebration and look forward to sharing the day with friends from near and far.

I just realised, he doesn't have a birthday crown! :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


  • if I'll ever tire of fennel and watercress?
  • when my camera will be better/fixed/usable/in one piece? (it would be nice to share some photos - there's been so much happening around here!)
  • whether I prefer meat ball soup with or without lemon sauce?
  • if, subconsciously, I turned the front sun room into a greenhouse so that my dear D would offer to build a greenhouse/garden shed? (really, I didn't but, I'm pleased he offered!)
  • how soon that greenhouse can be built?
  • when Nana will be here for a visit? (soon I believe)
  • just how many times I can make the wide-leg pants from this book?(visuals to come soon I hope)
  • if I should eat another slice of Apple Cake? (just one?)
  • why all books don't contain a recipe? (!)
  • what Spring will hold for us four?
  • when my latest Diggers order will arrive? (a Passionfruit vine, Loganberry cane, Apricot tree and so much more on its way!!!!) 
  • what to do with all that parsley?
  • how exactly we made so many 'twisties' today and still managed to talk/eat/drink/laugh/manage children etc etc ('twisties'' like these ones)
  • if my new homemade cleaning products will stand the test of time and grime? (more on those later)
  • if the soap nuts will truly remove all that dirt and other garden goodness to come with Spring? Or will my new clothes washing powder do a better job? (I have been busy! :))
  • what my children did in the garden today while I was making 'twisties'? (I went out after dark to lock the chickens away so I couldn't survey evidence of the fun they had)
  • when the new chickens will arrive? (and how long it will take Gnocchi, the dog, to befriend them?)
  • just how many more pieces of fabric Elsa will bring to me with requests for clothing? (the last was this "Mama, I'd really LOVE a skirt from this sweet pink one...or a dress...or even a jacket" !!! she got the skirt!).
  • when I can pull up the last of the turnips? (and how many more my family can tolerate?)
  • what jam or marmalade I will make next? (now I finally have some more jars to fill - great find!)
  • how to stop myself buying books? (at least there are no remaining Elsa Beskow books on my 'wish list' - so naughty but, happily so!)
  • when he'll be home from work? (it is 9.45pm afterall - poor stretched busy man)
  • when I'll have time to clean the hen house, transfer seedlings to the garden, paint a few old things and make a dress? (oh Martha, you set us up for failure! :))
  • how long I can wait before planting the tomatoes? (all five varieties!)
  • whether this rain could possibly get any harder?
  • if I'll actually complete my Tea Leaves before winter is over! (oh, I hope so)
  • why they took sooooooooooo long?
  • when I'll see sense and go to bed and snuggle up with my book
  • why it's took me so long to recall just how much I'm enjoying that book? (and the 5 before it in the series - short novellas for the young but, wow, such a fantastic read!). 
  • why I don't just say goodnight and go to BED! Clearly too much wondering, not enough sleeping...I'm delirious. Goodnight! :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012


It's not quite over but, almost. So much goodness this winter

Many walks by the river...

Soil studies galore!

Hen homes to build

Pizzas to make, over and over again

Friends to visit in fields of fresias

Drives to take

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


We've had a spurt of rainy days a little while back (say, around 10 days ago, I think)...nothing too extreme but definitely soggy. Last week, there was hail but the past few have been glorious with so much lovely winter sunshine..such is life in Melbourne. I quite enjoy the variety, the changeability of the weather here, particularly in the cooler months; it keeps us on our toes and really, it's rarely extremely cold or hot so there's not much to complain about.  Anyhow, we opted to spend many of the rainy moments indoors baking, painting, drawing, playing in general really...and knitting, of course (for me at least). And I reflected on all the outdoor work and play to come over the upcoming warmer months.....

Friday, July 13, 2012


Those garden beds are really starting to delivery; radishes, fennel, turnip, spinach, pakchoy, so many herbs, sooo much coming through but plenty still growing away....and more seeds on their way...we're having fun, and learning too. And the beds themselves make good balancing beams! And when he wakes from his daytime nap, Rafael likes to cuddle up in the front room and watch it all happening...such a sweet lad.


Thursday, July 12, 2012


Last week, we celebrated our Canadian heritage - on July 1 to be precise! Well, not mine but, that of my dear husband and my little part-Canadians. There's no way we'd miss celebrating Canada Day and this year we did so with all the oomf and passion we could muster in the cold, wintery weather all the while reminding ourselves that "cold and wintery" is relative (you see, I did travel to and live in Canada for years and of course, my dear husband is Canadian).

Pine Trees all round helping to remind us of Canada....if only we could see them more clearly :)

Canada Day raises a tonne of emotions for us; emotions not confined to Canada Day. We feel so very grateful and lucky for all that has us living in Australia (and for this country in general) but we do miss Canada and our friends and family there. While we miss, we accept that choices we've made, namely the decision to have me at home while the kids are little, preclude a trip to Canada - for now. But it is always on our minds, always top of our list of priorities, always in our 'dreaming'. Somehow other things, like buying our first home then selling it and buying our second, the birth of our children and planning that they enter our school of choice and, of course, choosing to be a one-income family (for now) have meant that we haven't been to Canada since just before my first pregnancy. Such is life, such are the sacrifices one makes but, it will happen and when it does, oh what fun we'll have (and, it might just be very difficult to drag ourselves away)!

We listened to CBC Radio on Canada Day and plenty of Canadian music. Every time I listen to 'a case of you' I feel a deep longing for Canada (if you open the link, please ignore the 'daggy' visuals!). Friends in Vancouver sent us a CD of new Canadian music too. We also enjoyed a big Canadian-style brunch with my sister and her family (all Canadian citizens - and Aussie too), plenty of Canada-inspired crafting, our Canada-themed and authored kid's books and baking our little short-bread maple leaves, squirrels, moose and bears, which didn't last long. In the end, I think we celebrated sufficiently well!

Of course, we are every so grateful for all that has come our way since arriving back in Australia (I hope that's obvious!) but on Canada Day more so than others, we acknowledge what we've left behind. And for me, in addition to some very special friends, I miss being here, particularly here (market images). So much to miss, so much to celebrate. So much to love and be grateful for right here where we are...

My first issue of taproot arrived just as we were sitting to enjoy a Canada Day afternoon tea on what was Canada Day in Canada, and a day later here. And yes, an afternoon tea in their pyjamas, partially at least. Ah, holidays.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Come in,  leave you gumboots on the front verandah please...welcome to some of our June moments.

June was at time for picking and drying bay leaves and rosemary - we now have big jars full of these dried bits of goodness, which is very handy for cooking, especially winter lamb, soups and stews.

In June, we started harvesting winter vegies and herbs and haven't stopped. We have a new-found love for sweet radishes in salads.

In June, 'Hugo' (the doll) became more popular than ever and accompanied Rafael absolutely everywhere.

We celebrated a special birthday in June and Elsa has been playing with perhaps her favourite gift ever since! (love a good op-shop find - well, my sister did on this instance!).

Gnocchi the dog just practiced being 'Gnocchi the dog' (it's a weighty task!)

In June, we enjoyed oh so many hot chocolates in the garden...

June saw the arrival and lengthy stay of a horrid cold...

June was a time for toadstool-spotting, mostly very close to home, sometimes in our own yard...

I like Elsa's comment about these two..."Look Mama, they must be brother and sister!"
I know, I know, enough of the toadstool thing!! But, as if they're not amazing in themselves, I was so very inspired by how much time Elsa and Rafael put into the surrounding fairy gardens, hammocks (yep, every fairy needs at least two) and 'sheds' of each and everyone we discovered. And the morning after one such 'decorating' session, when they found that possums has pooed all through the fairy garden, they were very impressed; somehow it added to the mystery of the night-time frolicking that must've taken place in and around the toadstools. There's also plenty of evidence of such frolicking (by possums) all over the car each morning and I can't say I'm equally impressed!

June was a time for minding the neighbour's guinea pigs, dogs and fish. The guineas really endeared themselves to us.

In June we transferred so many wee seedlings into the garden, including shallots, leek, pakchoy and cabbage...

And perhaps the most exciting June-addition to the garden, strawberry runners EVERYWHERE! We look forward to a summer of strawberries.
 And occasionally, we found a flower or two, reminding us that Spring comes next!

And our blackberry, blueberry and cranberry trees arrived from here along with two fig trees and a plum tree!  Now we just need to decide where they go...

June was definitely a month for knitting but, aren't they all! And a good time for working with beeswax (and the fireplace proved the perfect place to soften it just a little for wee hands). And, as far as Elsa was concerned, June was for dry-felting.

And little brothers and their dolls should always be allowed to Kinder for a visit...and in June, he often did.