Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I am sooo drained. Boy oh boy I forgot how intense school holidays are. On top of that, all three girls have been sick with fevers and coughing so we have had lots of naps, cuddles, tea with honey and panadol. (Although Yasmin is actually a pleasure when she is unwell. Her sometimes over exuberance becomes slightly subdued making her much easier when one of three little ones.)
Amidst this sickness, what has been lovely is seeing a certain 23month old basking in the attention and presence of her two big sisters. All three girls have been getting on so much better and Yasmin especially is showing renewed patience to play with Zahara.
We had a lovely Seder with all our family. The kids had a great time and were so well behaved. They also went to bed at 10pm and the next day were very, very tired and grumpy.
This weekend we are going to Daylesford and staying at a gorgeous looking guesthouse called The Barn. I can't wait for some fresh air and sunshine. We haven't been to Daylesford in years, since before we had kids in fact. The Barn is actually a converted barn, which I think the girls will love. It's also next door to Cliffy's, a locally wellknown food emporium, which I think I will love.
So what's on the agenda?
A visit to Lark . I have my eyes on this, this, and this gorgeous apple vinyl tablecloth. Might need to take a child with me to distract me from buying too much.
We are also paying a visit to the Daylesford Makers Market which is on this Saturday. Lots of handmade gorgeous crafted things.
In other news, I have continued my obsession with decluttering. Have donated more toys and even sorted through variously themed party supplies and decorations. Much better.
Hope you have a lovely weekend.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
French toast, painting, pictionary, drawing, pasting, playing in the garden, twirling our ribbon sticks outside, memory game, new outfits for Pesach, trying on almost the entire store (Layla), playdate, supermarket, trampolines, snakes and ladders, swim, dinner, eating left over pretzels found in Layla's room, shower, books and thank goodness, 7pm BED!
These holidays feel so much more relaxed than the summer break. And that alone feels good. Here's to enjoying (and not just surviving) the next two weeks.
Hope you had a lovely weekend too.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Our little garden is growing and coming along nicely. Yasmin is taking note of the little green sprouts making their way up through the soil. I regularly cook with the herbs in our garden (parsley for tabouli, chives for my egg dip, mint for Moroccan mint tea on Friday nights) and occasionally and very politely request from my children that they bring in some herbs to help me. They tell me, Mummy, I don't know which one is rosemary/parsley/chives. So, finally, after a brainwave one day, and with the help of my new best friend, the home laminating machine, Yasmin and I have created garden markers.
It was simple. I cut squares of white cardstock and wrote the name of the herb or vegie with a Sharpie. Then, I explained to Yasmin what the plant look liked, and we both had a practice draw on some scrap paper. When she felt confident, Yasmin drew and coloured her little illustration. The next step was laminating the squares, trimming the plastic to create a pointy end and using a glue gun to stick an ice cream stick on the back. Today, they finally made their way into the garden. Easy, cute, practical and weather proof.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
When I was young, a trip to the library was so exciting for me. I loved to read (and was always good at spelling as a result) and used to borrow about 20 books at a time. Of course, in those days I only had about three toys and the excitement of so many 'new' books was very real to me.
And so, although my girls have a room full of books each, I take them every few weeks to the local library, attempting to create a love for books and reading. This afternoon at school pick up, after I announced to Layla and Yasmin we were going to the library, I was met with loud groans. Oh yes, they pretended they didn't want to go. They moaned and complained...till we parked the car. They got out in thirty seconds, racing to the return chute and together, unloaded each book(their favourite part). And after explaining to Layla (again) that no, we won't be borrowing DVDs today, they finally spent some time quietly choosing books and making a lovely pile of stories.
We asked the librarian to help us find some Guiness Book of Records books (Yasmin's favourite) but had to settle for Ripley's Believe it Or Not instead. And, then, in a little quiet reading area, my two little girls sat and gawked at some gross photos of biggest boogers or most piercings or something like that. But at least they were reading....
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Great for lunchboxes and easy to make with kids, here is a great recipe I came across online one day. It uses 3 cups of traditional rolled oats, which is a great compromise for a healthy treat. We make it every once in a while and normally make enough to make a little treat box for someone too.
Here is our adapted recipe.
225 grams butter
1.5 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups plain flour
1/2 ts baking powder
1.5 cups dark chocolate chips
3 cups rolled oats
1. Heat oven to 175 degrees.
2. Cream butter until creamy in electric mixer
3. Add sugars, beat until fluffy, 3 mins. Beat in eggs one at a time.
4. Mix all dry ingredients together.
5. Combine with butter and sugar mixture by gently folding with rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
6. Line 3 oven trays with baking paper.
7. Form dough into small balls. Allow generous space between balls as the cookies will spread and flatten while baking.
8. Bake 22-25 minutes on middle and lower trays in oven until cookie edges turn golden brown.
9. Cool on baking paper on racks. Allow 30minutes before gobbling.
10. Enjoy. xx
I have never appreciated how nice and peaceful it is to have one on one time with my girls till I had my third child (now nearly two). My eldest, Yasmin, calls this 'Mummy time.' She also probably misses it the most, being at school the longest hours.
Whenever I can, I plan my days to allow some one on one time with each child, even if it's 10 minutes. The dynamics are so different with the other siblings absent; no rivalries, no competition, just some special time together. Layla, my (nearly) four old, has one day off kinder, and we spend half a day together, just the two of us. It normally culminates in going out for lunch (Cooper & Milla's is our favourite) but in between that is whatever Layla wants to play at home. Today it was Uno, Operation, and making chocolate chip oatmeal biscuits (easy, delicious and slightly healthy).
During Zahara's nap time, I decided I would read a little. (I had decided dinner would be soft boiled eggs and cut up vegies, therefore allowing myself some rest time too!) When Layla saw me reading in bed, she asked to have her 'quiet time' with me, which I agreed to as long as she would not disturb me. About 40 minutes later, I'd read some of my book and snoozed a little while this relaxed little girl read her two books quietly and beaded a wooden necklace. Beautiful. We lounged in bed a little while longer while she asked me questions burning her mind like 'Mummy, what's your favourite colour?' and 'do you still have milk in your boobies?'.
Last week, I surprised Yasmin by picking her up from school alone, with no sisters in tow. We went off to High Street and enjoyed a pedicure. You can see the look on her face and how happy she was. (The surprised look on her face is when the chair started to move and massage her back.) And don't six year old painted toes look just so darn cute?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
With my youngest easing her way into creche this year, I am looking forward in the near future, to a bit more time 'to myself'.
But, before I get to the fun stuff, I have resolved, and pledged to my husband, that my mission in the next few months is to seriously declutter the house. We have many terribly messy areas that have been neglected and now have built up an accumulation of crap. Making our mess worse, we also have too much stuff in the house.
Last week, I had already started clearing small sections of the house when I came across this article. Written by a family psychologist (American, with his own website of course), it very simply states that kids these days have too many toys, creating too much clutter. In the 1950s, children had approximately 5 toys each, yet were able to play independently and imaginatively for hours. Nowadays, most of our kids have way too many toys, yet are perpetually bored and unable to find a direction to play in. Even worse, these toys are mainly crap and rob children of their imagination. He advises getting rid of any toys made after the 1950s and making available only a few toys.
It got me thinking (light bulb moment) - when I was a girl, I also had very few toys. And my parents certainly didn't sit on the floor and play with me for hours. Nor did we have a Wii, DS or Moshi Monsters. No, my brother and I were left to our own devices, and would play on our own. I would ride my bike, invent games, draw and god knows what else. These days, the girls have an abundance of toys in each of their bedrooms, plus a whole play room devoted to them. Yet, they are often too overwhelmed by the clutter and often come to us to play with them or give them ideas of what to do.
Our kids have too many toys!
Just over the weekend, I have donated three huge garbage bags of unused toys to the local charity shop. I have also decluttered Yasmin and Layla's rooms by leaving only books and one or two games in their rooms. A cupboard in the hallway has been designated the games cupboard, now housing all board games and puzzles over three shelves. Much better. I will continue to pare down all the kids toys, and all the stuff in our house, as much as possible in the next few months. I will post some 'after' shots soon.
Getting rid of stuff that feels wonderful. Try here, here, here and here for more inspiration.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I recently came across 'Meatless Mondays', an international campaign encouraging people to cut meat out once a week for environmental and health reasons. We eat organic chicken and organic red meat at least 2-3 times a week and I'm not concerned about our meat consumption. I think meat and chicken are very nutritious if they are organic. But, it was a good reason to prepare a less elaborate dinner, and it was nice to have a lighter, vegetarian meal.
I used one of my favourite recipes to make Spinach and cheese borekas, accompanied by pumpkin soup.
Every time I've made these borekas (probably a dozen times), they have been delicious. They are great because:
- you can use frozen puff pastry and frozen spinach which is always in my freezer
- you can use ricotta or cottage cheese
- they make the house smell amazing
- people think you are really smart for making something with pastry
- they are DELICIOUS
Here's my recipe, amalgamated from several others.
1. Thaw several sheets of puff pastry on your kitchen bench. Lay out separately.
2. Chop and slowly saute one whole onion in a little bit of butter. Cook on low until caramelised.
3. Defrost the spinach (cooktop or in the microwave)
4. Once thawed, mix the spinach with a tub of ricotta or cottage cheese (either are fine).
5. Mix in the lovely caramelised onion
6. You can also add fresh dill which is delicious.
7. Season with salt and peppper, combine mixture well.
8. With a sharp knife, cut each sheet into four squares.
9. Place 1 x tablespoon of mixture into each square. Not too much or it will bubble over while cooking.
10. Roll up into triangle, or I find rectangular shape easier. Pinch edges.
11. Lay each roll on oven tray lined with baking paper.
12. Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
13. Cook in hot oven at 180degrees celsius for about 20 minutes.
14. Allow to cool on rack, these babies will be hot inside.
I often make these for a brunch, parcooking them in the oven the night before when the girls are sleeping, and then browning in the oven the next day for 10 minutes. I have also made these with Yasmin and she can make the whole thing, putting mixture on the squares, folding pastry, the egg and sesame etc.
You will be so proud and feel like a real cook!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I have a long, long list of bookmarked websites. Some inspire me (or on a bad day, leave me feeling inadequate), some distract me, some are just a mental break from ordinary mothering stuff.
My favourite blog that has inspired me and that I read every day, is Soulemama. It's written by Amanda Soule Blake, author of two books, on creative mothering, repurposing, sewing, homeschooling and living a simple, wholesome life. She has a huge following. As a homeschooling mother of four in mid west USA, her life could not be further removed from mine. But she has the calmest and most spiritual, positive take on mothering that I love to read it. And occasionally, makes me daydream about living in the country (for five seconds).
I love Ohdeedoh on Apartment Therapy. It's a great blog featuring all things children online - new products, websites, other blogs, recipes and ideas around the blogosphere. It's full of great stuff.
Of course, you can't go past People magazine (Who's sister magazine in the States) for some mindless celebrity gossip and even better, Celebrity Baby Blog.
A little bit closer to home, The Lark, a gorgeous little blog connected to a shop of the same name in Daylesford, and Hip Hip Hooray, which will give you lots of ideas for kids birthday parties. Enjoy. xx
How did we get from my own little tiny, snuggled, wrapped up third baby to a nearly two year old little girl, wrapping, cuddling and shh-shushing her own little dolly to sleep?
She is my own pudgy, nearly two year old heartbreaker. She always makes me smile, I love the way she plays with my hair, puts both her little hands on my face to get my attention and reaches to put her hand on my face when she gives me a kiss goodnight. And if I could freeze her the way she is now, delicately teetering between babyhood and toddlerhood, I would. I always take a breath when putting her to sleep, remind myself to slow down and savour those moments when, while singing our little bedtime song, she rests her head on my shoulder. I know it won't always be this way, but for now, it's sweet and pure. She makes my heart melt.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I have developed a real appreciation of vintage children's books, cards and games. I recently purchased some vintage cards from the States. After choosing the ones I loved best, I laid these out on some gorgeous paper from Ikea and then framed it in an Ikea frame.
Added to our little vintage style collection next to the girls bathroom, I love it! The two smaller frames contain pictures from old Little Golden Books bought in a collectables store. The black and white one is from Etsy (you can read more about it here).
Next to the mirror are two more frames with some vintage Chinese flashcards, I hot glued these and they look great too. After three girls, I am sick to death of fairies and princesses, so these make a stylish change while still being bright and colourful for children.
Still loving Etsy!
Here is a one pan dish that is an easy, filling midweek dinner, using leftover rice and some fridge/freezer staples. It was gobbled up by the girls.
Saute some onion and garlic in sesame oil
Add any vegies - I used peas (frozen) and mushrooms. You could also use carrot, broccoli, baby corn, peppers
Beat a couple of eggs, then pour over the vegies
Shake some soy sauce over the mixture
Add the cooked rice, add about 1/3 cup of water, combine gently, then place the lid and cover for a few minutes.
Enjoy and serve!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Today was Purim, which in our house, is a day almost as exciting as a birthday. And always eagerly awaited...the choosing of the costume, getting dressed (at lightning speed), the painstakingly applied make up, the over gelled hair.
During December's trip to Singapore, I spotted three Asian style dresses....and quickly bought them with Purim in mind. The girls looked so sweet, and getting ready this morning reached fever pitch in excitement. Zahara literally ran around in a circle squealing she was so excited (she knew something was different today.)
Enjoy the pics. Hope you had a lovely Purim too.
PS. Don't little kids with make up look cute, but also a little freaky? It's sort of like fast forwarding to their teenage years and catching a glimpse of what they'll look like...