Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Time to be happy

I am feeling particularly blessed at the moment - dare I say that everything seems to be chugging along nicely (hmmm, am I setting myself up for a crazy weekend by daring to voice such bliss?).  Although both this week and last I was doing the solo-parent thing, with a brief and busy appearance of Grant on the weekend, the boys and I have had a great time.  A friend and I have arranged to do a child swap on Gus' kindergarten days, so once a week I have two hours of blissful time for me and for another two hours Felix and I get to enjoy the company of a sweet little lassie.  Last week we wandered off to the library where both of the children tottered around exploring the spaces and eventually choosing a couple of DVD's and books to borrow.  Felix really seems to relish the opportunity to be the alpha child, despite our wee friend being older than him.  He takes her hand to show her where to go and what to do, and gets right close to her face when he's explaining something as though it is of utmost importance.  One of the best things about having our little friend visit us is that it has reminded me of the importance of stopping and just playing with the children.  I often find myself dashing around madly, trying to fit in as much as possible on Gus' kindy days and then feeling guilty because I know that I should be making the absolute most of the time and just sitting and playing with Felix.  It is such a struggle to find the time to just 'be' with the children whilst also finding the time to get everything else done.  Oh my, will parental guilt never end?

However, the weather has been incredible these last few days, so I decided this morning that as soon as the washing was on the line we were off to the beach with picnic in tow.  Needless to say, getting everyone and thing to the point where the washing is on the line is usually an incredible effort, and today was no different.  Gus did a great job of helping me to pack the picnic, applying his usual sensible judgement with food choices which meant that if I hadn't of sneaked in a couple of jelly babies it would have been healthy, healthy and more healthy food because even the stuff that doesn't look like its good for you is, and that includes the Annabel Langbein Carnival Cookies which were both gluten and (mostly) dairy free .  It was an incredible day at Days Bay and I snapped many gorgeous photos, but my favourite was this one of Gus pretty much dragging Felix down the wharf in anticipation of the wonderful things to explore.  

Gus collected all kinds of 'treasures' as we wandered along the beach, which as soon as we made it back to the wharf, he and Felix quickly returned to the sea.  

I threw all caution in the wind today, resisting the urge to get Felix home by midday to ensure he was asleep in bed by 12.30 pm and just have fun with the kids.  I reasoned to myself that I do really need to be a little less rigid about ensuring that bedtimes are adhered to at all times and that he'll probably fall asleep in the car.  Hmmm, well no matter what planning and reasoning you come up with it never works out does it?  Felix didn't sleep today and so both he and Gus were beside themselves with exhaustion tonight as I tried to shovel food into them before a quick splash in the bath and into bed.  Not a peep from Gus as he went down but Felix, not being used to having his sleep needs put before all else was not happy. In fact I've just had to pop in and give him a wee cuddle now - that is what over tiredness does.  I hope its not going to be a long night ahead of me!  But look at the smiles on their faces - it really was all worth it.

I have concluded today that despite my most stellar efforts, both my ginger beer bug and my sourdough starter have karked it.  I think it was the cold snap a couple of nights ago that did it as since then they both have completely lost their spark, or bubble in this case.  So I am going to start again with my ginger beer bug and just not worry about the sourdough for a while. Instead I'm going to try making No Knead Bread which my lovely friend Annabel sent me the link for a while ago but I hadn't got around to trying.  Here's hoping I'll have more luck!  

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Baking, sewing and gardening

Both my knitting and my blog seems to have been somewhat forgotten about lately as I've been baking, gardening and sewing instead.  We've recently found that both of my boys have food intolerances to different foods which cause different reactions in both of them so I've been experimenting with creating dairy free, gluten free, potato free, honey free kai for my boys whilst also reducing and/or eliminating sugar that actually tastes like something you'd like to eat.  It has been a really frustrating time as I've had a lot of failures.  I really don't like to waste food and I also don't have time for failures, especially as the boys only really eat fresh food or food that I have made.  But after my lovely Mother-in-law sent down a copy of The Family Friendly Gluten Free Cookbook by Anna King I have been experiencing some success at last.  Here are the chocolate chip biscuits that were my first success in gluten free baking.
I have two little pets now - a ginger beer bug and a sourdough starter. I started with my ginger beer bug; giving it a little ginger and sugar every day and ensuring that it was kept warm day and night.  Before I go to bed each night I sneak into Felix's bedroom and put him on the shelf so he's warm all night long.  Within 24 hours my little bug started bubbling away as the natural yeasts got to work.  It doesn't smell all that pleasant yet but its not entirely unpleasant either.  I think that its only going to be another week before I can 'put down a brew'.  I'm a little excited about it!
My little sourdough starter is something that I've been interesting in experimenting with for a while but haven't had a lot of luck and then I just got bored with it.  We had been baking our own bread in our friends' breadmaker for a while but after Felix was found to be intolerant to dairy, gluten and bakers yeast we pretty much stopped eating bread.  So I thought that if we're only having bread very infrequently it had might as well be good, homemade, delicious bread.  Well that's the plan anyway!  The proof will be in the pudding as they say.  As with the ginger beer it is just a few simple ingredients (namely water and flour) plus the natural yeasts in the air that are doing all the work. Here it is bubbling away so magnificently!
Our little vegetable garden is doing great. We harvested our first bunch of silverbeet last week to make the delicious Annabel Langbein Saffron and Baby Spinach Risotto.  The risotto was a real hit with the boys and it was absolutely delicious - I'm sure that it was even more so because the silverbeet came from our garden!  I can't wait for our courgettes and peas to mature.

My sewing machine and overlocker have been getting a lot of use lately as I've been sewing trousers for the boys to wear to their Uncle and Aunty's wedding next month and also dresses for my niece and friends' daughters Christmas presents.  The trousers are nearly done - I've left the cuffs incomplete just in case the boys have a growth spurt in the next few weeks.  They look pretty spiffy in their red knitted bow ties, white fitted shirts and charcoal trousers. This gorgeous little dress is the one that I'm making for the girls' Christmas present - I've made three and have three to go. They are really sweet and pretty straightforward to make too.  Love that!