Sunday, June 27, 2010

Be careful what you wish for!

Ever had a cautionary tale of 'be careful what you wish for'? I tend to ignore these things, I know what I'm doing!! I recently 'read' an audio book and there was a scene where a character says those exact words! Apparently, he'd been praying for his heart to be open. Of course, he ended up on an operating table having open heart surgery! My tale is not quite so dramatic, but heed its warning!! Let me take you back to yesterday.
Saturday, in our house and many others, is housework day. I hate housework. I truly do. I've become such a fanatical baker because I was using cooking as a way to get out of housework! I really dislike it :) The boys are expected to help, mostly in the 'tidying' department rather than 'cleaning'. The thing is, they've done such a good job of keeping their rooms and the loungeroom tidy, that there wasn't much for them to do. This impressed Will of course, not so much Charlie. Charlie loves to help. We praise him regularly for his help, and the fact that he helps without even being asked. Praise, praise, praise (I am a teacher after all! Nothing like positive reinforcement). So Charlie went and cleaned his room, which, in his interpretation of 'cleaned', means that he pulled half of his clothes out of the cupboard and emptied half of his toy basket. That's ok, we said. Good boy for trying, but we will have to tidy this up.
When it came time for the wood Mark had chopped to be put away, Charlie spent 20 mins finding his gloves, so that there were 3 pieces of wood left. That's ok, you can help do these ones! Good boy for trying to be helpful.

A little while later, Will was going through his tool box to see what tools he could take to Grandad's next Saturday to help build his Billy Cart. Charlie thought that he could use the screwdriver and the hammer to help out and 'fix' stuff. How cute, we said. What a good helper. Just be careful.
Flash forward to this morning. At around 6.30 I left Mark in bed for a sleep-in and made my way out to the kitchen to feed the boys. My first sight was a river of water through the kitchen, followed by a sighting of a half-empty fish tank. Bear in mind that our fish tank is about 200L. After getting Mark out of bed, I began to mop up the mess. Mark was searching everywhere for the leak. It didn't seem to be coming from anywhere. No cracks, the filter was going, no idea what it could be. Then he noticed the filter was unlatched. He pointed this out to me, with Charlie always watching. "That's ok dad," said Charlie. "I fixed that already. I fixed it with a screwdriver AND a hammer!" He was so pleased with himself. A big grin and eyes that said, 'ok, where's that praise?' What could we do? How can you be angry at that??!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Technology - love it or hate it? You waste so many of the hours in which my husband and I could actually be speaking! You stop working at the most inopportune times. You never work the way my 7 year old expects and demands. You give me solitaire (which I play watching TV, talking on the phone, waiting for Joey Scouts to finish, and even while I wait for a person to wash their hands and serve me!!), facebook and blogging. You even allow me to do my banking at home. We have a funny relationship you and I. I love you and rely on you, I couldn't live without you, yet you frustrate me so much that I'm not allowed to have a slide-out keyboard shelf anymore because I broke our last one in anger and frustration (truly, I don't know where Will gets his temper!) I love you technology and I hate you. Today, I love you.

Today, I had the day off work due to the inability to speak for more that a minute or 2 without coughing. This was no problem on Monday. I sucked it up and went in anyway. That is why Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in whisper. Today, I thought I'd take a little more care of myself. But I had to go in anyway. For I had organised a video conference. This is where we get to the love.

This morning, after running around to show the casual what to do, setting up and completely rearranging the library annex, I got to see my little man at his school, while I was at mine. Using screens, cameras, microphones, smartboards and a whole lot of wires, my class and I got to talk to my sons class, 50+ km away. We showed them photos and told them all about our school. Will's class did the same. We got to ask and answer questions, and see what life is like at other schools. Being a casual, I obviously know what it's like at other schools. But the kids usually don't.

We had so much fun, and best of all, I got to see my little man hiding in a corner waving at me. Today, technology, we are friends. Let's see what tomorrow brings :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Less stuff, more living

Last week I watched Oprah. For those of you saying, "Oprah, what has happenned, is your brain mush?" Please recall that I was sick and was told to rest. Besides, she's often got interesting people on her show, so I regularly have a quick check, even if it's not interesting enough to hang around for. Anyway, I was watching Oprah, and she was crossing to people (women) around the world who were showing her (us) how they live in their country. The one I like the most was Denmark. She was talking to 2 women there, and had actually gone there to meet them and their friends and have a look around. In their country, they pay about 50% income tax. I tried not to fall off my chair at that! Of course, they 'reckon' their wages are high enough that it's not quite as bad as it seems. They also all seemed to earn a very similar wage to each other. Certainly not the same, but there didn't seem to be great 'class' gaps. They chose jobs based on interest, not salary and power! They had free health (and not the medicare stuff here in NSW, it was real, decent health) and free education (we get that here too). Their transport system seemed to cope with them, it all seemed lovely. I realise here the main word is 'seemed'. I'll be honest, I've not researched at all. I've been one of those people who takes what they see on TV as gospel (I generally ridicule such people!!) What I found fascinating about these people though, is their homes. They are very small, rooms tiny, parents sleep in the dining room, all very bizarre! Lots of cupboard space, practically every wall was a cupboard, and that's where their stuff was! But they didn't have much 'stuff'. Their motto was, 'less stuff, more living'. They enjoy time with their families, in fact they leave work at 4pm to go to the markets and go home to their families. What a great concept!! But I really love this 'less stuff' thing.
As we plan our first overseas trip as a family (not for 18 months), I can't help but think about the oven, dishwasher and other things I could buy with the money. Of course, the kids won't remember that new oven or the dishwasher when they grow up (I'm sure they'd remember unloading the dishwasher!) They will remember the teacup ride at Disneyland. They will remember going to the toy-shop cafe I've been told to take them to in London. And so with this, I think not of what I could buy, but what I could experience instead of buying 'stuff'. So when I head to Melbourne on Monday, I won't forgo an expensive dessert to save up to buy that roasting pan I've been wanting. Because whenever we go anywhere (and I wish it was more often) I never remember what I bought, but I can always tell you about every meal that I experienced with my husband. Of course, is that food 'experience' or 'stuff'? For arguments sake, we'll call it experience!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rest and Relaxation

Yesterday I was told I had laryngitis and to stay at home and rest. There was an emphasis on REST. It wasn't even my normal doctor, how does he know me this well? My thoughts were that a hearty soup and some fresh bread would be a good dinner, then I could relax on the lounge. The problem is, the ingredients require chopping and cooking, the bread requires mixing, kneading and stretching, and then it creates a great deal of dishes. This seems to go against the whole 'rest' thing.

Of course, I really wanted my soup. It's an Italian Borlotti and prosciutto soup, the recipe is from July's notebook magazine. My other point was that for me, cooking IS relaxing. So the vegies were chopped, the stock defrosted and the soup started. Of course, the last time I made this soup, I had some salted flat bread with it. It seemed a shame not to have it again.
I'm still learning and was unable to turn this picture around!! Just turn your head :)

The dough when kneaded, ready to rise.

Flat bread isn't hard to make. This one is from Notebook like the soup and it requires:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBspoons rosemary
1 TBspoon sea salt flakes
All you have to do is stir the dry ingredients (minus the final salt and the rosemary), add water and half the oil and stir. Knead it for 10 mins and set aside in a greased bowl for 40 mins or doubled in size.
Knead for another min until back to original size and cut it half. Roll it out into a rough rectangle, the dough should be about 4mm thick. Put it on an oven tray, drizzle with remaining oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Bake in preheated 220 C oven for 15 min or until golden.
I have to admit, I find 1 TBspoon of sea salt flakes to be too much on top. I just sprinkle a little of my murray river salt flakes, but not much. Also, last night I had no rosemary. I have stripped my plant bare!! So that's why the pic shows no rosemary!
I absolutely adore having bread at the table that can be broken with hands and passed around the table (make sure the little grot-bags wash their hands well!) The kids love it also, and I'm confident Will will ask for some when he gets home from school. He seems to love it as an afternoon snack.

The finished product!
So in the end, I felt rested from a yummy, warming dinner, and I was relaxed because I had spent the afternoon doing what I love! Sadly, the feeling didn't last as I did the dishes!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The games we play

This morning I woke up feeling sorry for myself. I had gone to bed with no voice, woken numerous times through the night to the rattle in my own chest, requiring great, heaving coughs to clear, and there was no hope of a day off (too much to do to get sorted for Friday's video conference). So there I was, ready for breakfast.

Last night in my state of 'slightly-unwell', I thought that I would need a healthy breakfast to sustain me. I don't eat cereal of any kind (unless you count dry, homemade granola as a snack, or dry nutrigrain in a cup once a year when I'm craving). I was too tired to make my wholemeal 'breakfast bread' filled with honey and good-for-you seeds. So I had decided on some wholemeal toast with some boiled bantam eggs supplied from the man down the road (also our post-master). That would be filling, good for me, and give the energy I need to survive the day. A great plan!

By the time I woke up, I was feeling so sad that I couldn't take a sickie and sit in front of the fire that I couldn't bring myself to be 'good'. Especially when, as I opened the freezer for my wholemeal bread, I found frozen waffles. I had made some last weekend, and frozen the leftovers. Now, I realise that I had crepes for breakfast only yesterday, but.... I'm not wellllllll (imagine a whiney voice if you will). So now, the only problem is to hide my plan from the kids. They were still expected to eat their wheet-bix like good little Aussie kids. So I toasted the waffles as though it was my normal peanut butter toast, I put them in a bowl to hide them from plain view (well that from lower than the bench anyway!) and I hid the maple syrup behind the milk bottle. Enter Will. Will, 7, decides that I must know the ins and outs of every second of the Scooby Do episode he's watching. He stands right in front of my bowl of waffles, just on the right angle to see the maple syrup, and as he speaks he 'looks' into the bowl at every third word. He finished his story with a flourish and a smile, threw me a 'love you mum' and flew from the room for more mind-numbing Scooby Do. Not a peep aabout my breakfast. Nothing! I had a little giggle to myself and sat down to eat. Ah, the games we play....why bother with such efforts?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Crepes continue....

So, I'm back from church, where I love that I can sing loud and bad and no one says to "wouldn't you like to hear the artist singing rather than yourself?"
So here's how the crepes turned out....AWESOME! I'm so impressed. I can't wait to actually go to France and try the real deal!! Only somewhere between 500 and 600 sleeps to go!!
Anyway, I took photos, and here how it all turned out....
These are the ingredients I used.
My eggs before I started mixing "slowly, slowly" as the French man said on Food Safari!

Cooking on the stove

Soaking in the suzette butter

Ready to eat...Yum yum!! Because we don't have a gas flame, I couldn't do the 'flaming' that he did to caramelise the butter into sauce, so I cooked mine on high to try to caramelise the butter that way. It made the crepes a little crispy, but I really liked them like that. And, it took away the real 'buttery' taste!
So they were really easy, and really yummy. what more could I ask for? Give them a go. My crepe pan was $13 from House and Garden. So it's not a big investment. Just try!!

Hello world!

Wow. So this is my first post. I've been comtemplating a blog for some time. But my worry was that it is just a glorified diary. In the end I decided, so what? Even if it is, does anyone really care? I thought not! And if they do, they simply won't read! So it's 7.30 am on a Sunday morning and this is what I'm doing! Not sleeping in, not throwing myself on the lounge while the boys watch cartoons, not exercising, not solving world poverty, I'm blogging!
Well, technically I'm waiting for my crepe batter to rest so I can add cointreau and start cooking. At the moment I'm addicted to food safari. I am also addicted to Italian cooking (actually Italy in general) and French cooking. So, this morning I am making the French 'Crepe Suzette' recipe I saw on Food Safari and printed off the website. Of course, as I try to copy and paste the web address, it isn't allowed!! Oh well, I guess there are still kinks that need to be ironed out!
Ok, off to check on this batter, make the cointreau butter, and take photos. That's right, if this blog does nothing else, it might just make me take more photos!!