Monday, 31 January 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday (Next Week)

Sunday morning. Woke up, got up, made coffee and toast, shlepped around the kitchen and garden for a bit. Watched a Psychedelic Furs video from about a million years ago. 
Mixed this up and bunged it in the oven. It turned out brown. Just right for a chocolate cake. After breakfast, Sweeney helped me knock out some ninjabread men from this healthsome recipe. They turned out brown, too. Just right for baked assassins.
Why the baking hubbub?? Harper's birthday party was on, that's why. He's three any day now.
Here's the star of the day, looking rather splendid in his new t-shirt. Note the entirely adequate cake in the foreground ...
You're a rather lovely chap, Harper, and I'm chuffed to know you. I love the way you call me "auntyange", and how you call Sweeney "Seeney".
I love that you and Sweeney can't get enough of each other, yet you're happy enough, each of you, when the other is gone. You're so similar and so different. You're lucky boys, to have each other.

And here are two beautiful, fine women who breached the perimeter yesterday. Bela, who we've known forever, and Coco-Inez, who we've only just met.
Anyhoo, Happy-Birthday-for-Saturday, Harpoon!!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Corn With the Wind

I'm an inconsistent gardener, to be sure. But growing broad beans and finding that they actually don't make me gag blew me away and inspired me to continue my half-arsed efforts in the soil. A few evenings ago, Sweeney helped me to plant some corn seedlings for a late harvest. I read my Yates Garden Guide and it told me that corn and beans do really well together, so I planted them in amongst some butter beans Dad planted a few weeks back. And there are actual beans on the bean plants.
Only problem is, I'm pretty sure that butter beans will make me gag. Totally.
The wind over last weekend was dramatic and threatened the two major events on our calendar. First up was Regan and Susan's wedding. After a white-knuckle ride through Ohariu Valley - it was like an episode of Wacky Races, I swear all the road signs were 45degrees out - we arrived at the gig 10 minutes late, and entered through the most indiscreet door in the whole place. Susan looked beautiful,  Regan was handsome, the ceremony was lovely, the company was fine, the dinner was delicious. The wind blew us around something chronic, but the sun was out and it was really a beautiful day.
The following day, we went to Wadestown for the next-day-after-the-wedding barbecue.
Check out these fine characters. These are Sweeney's cousins from Dunedin - a finer quartet you couldn't hope to meet. Let's see more of you jokers soon, please ...
And here's a snap of the bride and groom, for good measure. Let's see you jokers soon, too ...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Pay It Forward

I promise something handmade to the first five people who leave a comment here. To be eligible, you must repost this message, offering something handmade to five other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your five giftees some time in 2011. Ready, Set, Go!!!
Be sure to leave an email address ...

Friday, 14 January 2011

She's In Parties

First up, Happy Birthday to my mum, Sweeney's Nana!! And to the several hundred other members of our extended family who share her birthday with her. It's the same day as Al Capone's birthday, but that's another story ...
Kimberley, the lads and myself went down to see her for a few days this week. The garden looks great - lots of fuschias for the boys to pop, red dahlias for me to covet, and a vege garden that manages to be functional and pretty.
We had lunch at the Curator's House, in the Botanic Gardens. There's a beautiful kitchen garden there, and the bees were keeping busy in amongst it all. Sweeney even picked up his first ever bee sting, which earned him a tea towel filled with ice cubes and full attention from The Italian - one of the waiters - for a bit.
I made a devil's food cake from Kitchen - yes, I travel with it - which was pretty flaming splendid, if I say so myself. Two chocolate sponges, layered with icing made of butter, sugar and a cake of dark chocolate. Then the whole external mass slathered with more of that same icing. The boys carefully positioned chocolate buttons on the dark surface, we plonked on some candles, and we were away.
It was rich enough that none of us ate much. There was a round on the birthday itself, then morning tea the next day, a slab was packed up for some neighbours, and there was still enough to seriously dent anyone's resolve to calorie count. Look at it, it took three people to cut the thing ...

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Things I didn't know this time last week:
  • Sweeney likes coleslaw;

  • I can feel more tired than I did at the end of last year;

  • Sweeney is mysteriously familiar with KFC and its range of products;

  • You should lightly oil the pan that you're baking your pie in;

  • Eta lite mayonnaise is actually rather acceptable.
Okay, it's not much of a list. It's been a slow week. Or maybe I've forgotten a bunch of stuff I picked up on along the way.
I've identified the main culprits of food that just sits forever in the kitchen and goes nowhere until rubbish day. The ones at the top of the list right now are the jar of wholegrain oats that were deemed unpalatable as porridge, and the last four bananas. Every week, it's four bananas that defy No Food Left Behind. I caught on that you can freeze them, and I do that, but I'm old school enough that it still gives me the greatest pleasure to use them straight from the bowl on the bench.
Yesterday, the planets aligned and I turned out a batch of banana-oat biscuits. The name says it all, really. I chopped up some almonds and threw them in with some raisins and they turned out okay. The recipe calls for 2tsp of sugar, but I didn't put any in. I reckon next time I make them, which will be tonight, I'll put in more banana. We've got some gosh-darned ripe ones here that could do with being converted into something more appetising.
In other news, I picked this up for Sweeney for Christmas. Mo Willems is just lovely. Sweeney's got some others of his, and Harper has, too. The ideas in Leonardo the Terrible Monster are really quite big and hard for little, little kids, but Sweeney's getting the hang of more difficult/complex feelings and behaviours now. That sounds deep, doesn't it, but what I mean is that there are decisions to be made about how you act towards people, you can choose to be at odds with the world, or you can enjoy being in amongst it.
You can be mean or you can be kind. You can be grumpy or you can be chirpy.
At least, that's how I read it.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Take A Picture

I see from a quick look at other people's blogs this evening, that there's a bit of summing up of Awesome Craft Behaviour from 2010. I'm not doing that. It'd be showing the same knitting pattern made repeatedly, sometimes not even in different wool, and even I, with my high threshold for boredom, recognise that that's not so interesting. And I just can't quite get the hang of how to make my photos into a nifty mosaic yet.
But that's another story ...
Sweeney and I celebrated last day of hols by going up to Waikanae Beach and hanging out with the neighbours for the afternoon. Our little boys helped some bigger boys to build a dam, then we mucked around in the waves. That was splendid, but Sweeney was a little iffy on it. So we headed to the park, and the boys swung on a big rope swing.
I didn't take any photos.
Then delicious nachos in the sun, and off home to tell each other what our favourite bits of the day were. Sweeney's were the ice cream sandwich and the dam. Mine were the ice cream sandwich and when it turned out that he didn't actually have bluebottle stings on his legs.
Well, we were back at school and work this morning. A little bit shellshocked (me), a little bit overwhelmed (Sweeney). And a little bit SWIPED (Sweeney's scooter, left at preschool from Christmas Eve, and now disparu ...). That was disappointing.
I was disappointed in myself to find that I don't have any photos of Sweeney on his scooter. He's had a lot of good scootering on that scooter, even if he never really believed in the power of its brake. So, here's a picture of me when I was two (I think), with my favourite toy at the time. I think that was the last time I really rocked an above-the-knee hemline. I still love a good maryjane shoe, though.
Aww, bless.
But I digress from what I actually set out to blog about. I meant to trumpet to the world how much I'm loving my Kitchen book. I've made something from it most days since Christmas, with the following highlights:

- chocolate banana muffins to take out to Auntie Thelma with the boys and their Nana;

- ham and broad bean salad, using Kimberley's Christmas ham and broad beans grown at our house, and Craig and Dorothy's down the road;

- blondies - a white version of the brownie, to take to Waikanae Beach. Seventeen forms of sugar can't be wrong ...;

- ham and leek pie - leeks cooked off in cider, then added to a white sauce with ham, mushrooms and more cider in it. Best accompanied by cider, and some amazing little purple potatoes from Craig and Dorothy's garden down the road. Then, when you're doing the washing up, have another cider; and

- toad in the hole. Yes. Toad. In. The. Hole. Actually, this really came into its own when the leftovers were fried off in bacon fat when we were camping. Haaaaaaapppy New Year, indeed ...

No, I don't have any photos of those, either. My challenge for myself is to find my camera, and empty the fridge and cupboards using this book. The mantra for 2011 is "no food left behind!!" ... or maybe something equally Lawrence of Arabia-ish, but less crazy-sounding.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Day

Sweeney and I capped off 2010 with a wee campout with some great friends. It was Sweeney's first time in an actual sleeping-over-in-the-outdoors tent, and it was his first chance to use his Hot Wheels sleeping bag in anger. It worked perfectly.
Camping for short periods is a good opportunity to clear out a few leftovers from the fridge. In this case, we took some things I've been knocking up from Nigella's new book, Kitchen, since I scored it for Christmas. Refried Toad in the Hole, and Ham and Broad Bean Salad. Half a bowl of red jelly for afters, for him. Many bottles of wine and a fresh new bag of coffee, for afters, for me.
The place where we stayed was lovely, clear and flat, close to a stream and lots of beautiful native forest. Kereru thundered overhead from time to time. I stood under a tree and watched a pair of piwakawaka this morning, gadding about being all kissy-sounding and birdy. The children were not interested. Absorbed in playing with some sticks, it turned out.
We only stayed for one night. I've got stuff to do before I go back to work on Wednesday, and in case, Sweeney was starting to get all weird and sleep-deprived at about 2pm today. He was asleep about 0.04 seconds after I started the car and pointed it towards home.
I read lots of Master and Commander today, sitting in the sun, drinking coffee. That book has been driving me nuts - want to read it, but can't get into it. Today, I got into it. After I finish this, I'm plodding upstairs to read more of it. Apart from anything else, I've learnt that there is such a thing as a Spanker sail. It's the one right at the back.
Anyhoo, here's a pic of three lovely little people who all had a (mostly) ace time together, enoying 21st century technology in amongst some of the loveliest nature around. More of that, I say ....
... and Happy New Year, everyone!!
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