Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smarties, smarties, yum, yum yum!

I've gotta say, I looove smarties, or pebbles to you kiwis. M & Ms too, but now that I know smarties have no artificial colours, I prefer them over the other. Mind you, the colours are not perfect, not quite as vibrant as their rival but I will give up bright glaring colours in the interests of good health. Overlooking the fact that they still have the same amount of fat and sugar in them that they always did, ahem.

Well, I made some cupcakes in honour of my birthday and decorated them with guess what? Right. Only because my piping the buttercream technique still leaves a lot to be desired, read, was a total flop. I will, very soon, get some decent piping nozzles. I will. I WILL. But I haven't yet.

So I started off delicately placing one smartie into the center of what was supposed to be a rosette of buttercream but looked more like a buttercream cow pat, but after a few of those I thought bugger it, tipped the smarties out and upended the iced cupcakes into them. And the end result was it looked like I did exactly that.




Something else I have discovered along the way for any Thermomixers out there, do not try and make icing sugar from raw sugar in your thermomix and then try and make buttercream icing with that icing sugar. I don't care what my thermomix handbook says, it is NOT as fine as icing sugar, so twice my buttercream has been grainy, before I cottoned onto that fact. Which reminds me, I forgot to buy any REAL icing sugar at the store when I shopped today. Dang.
And the raw sugar imparts it's own flavour and colour tint too.

Note to self: write ICING SUGAR on the shopping list.

The other thing I did with the enormous bag of smarties I bought was to make smartie cookies, which was the actual reason I bought the smarties in the first place. Honest. And I really did need such an enormous bag. Mmm hmm, I did.


Yum, but not good enough to share the recipe. I'll have to eat them, in the name of research....

Ok, I did share it as it was fairly moreish. It's here,
at Gone Chocco, check out all the chocolate goodness on this Aussie site!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sign language with your baby and toddler

Being a sign language interpreter, this is a subject close to my heart, so stay with me if you're interested while I burble on...

Hmmm, what do I want to say on this subject?

Because of my sign language background, signing with my babies is something I did without even thinking about it. 

It is automatic to embellish my words with signs when someone does not understand, especially as many signs are iconic, meaning they look like what they are. For example drink or mountain.

Signing with babies is meant to be good for language development, although it may set them back just a bit at the start. 
My eldest was not the first to speak in my mother's group, but he was certainly the first to let me know what he was thinking without screaming or crying, the way most 10 month olds will do it. 
One day, he heard a dog barking, then a light went on in his eyes, dog, dog, he signed. Wow, that was a very cool day for mama.

When he did speak, he took off flying and soon eclipsed all the other kids at mother's group as far as grammar, vocab and understanding went. And no, that's not due to his incredibly brainy mother's genes, ha, though I'd love to take that credit. The only other kid near him in language was a little girl whose mother was also signing with her.

The only problem is he hasn't stopped talking since he started.

The sign language of Australia is AUSLAN, short for AUstralian Sign LANguage, this is the language used by the majority of the deaf community in Australia. 

You may also come across Makaton and signed English, but neither of these is a sign language as such, with structure and grammatical rules, although they do sometimes get used in place of Auslan.

If you want to sign with your baby, toddler or child, do please use Auslan. 
If you live in Australia that is, as each country has it's own sign language, different from others in the way spoken languages differ from country to country.

There are some great resources online to enable you to do this effectively, and sometimes courses are held in various communities.

Check out the Auslan Signbank for signs, numbers and fingerspelling


Sign Planet for some good basic information and images of signs
that you can print off and use at home.

As well as signing for babies, signing with hubby has it's uses too.
It's very handy on the ski slopes when the wind is howling and you can't hear a darn thing, and it's great across a crowded room when you otherwise may have screamed out, invariably during a lull in the noise, "I'm busting for a pee, where's the freaking toilet?!"

So, if you are thinking that you want to sign with your babe or kinder, DO IT, it's very rewarding and looks cool too. 

Which of course, is what life is really all about.

Or, you could just put spaghetti on their forehead and let that do the talking.


I've now written up a page on what it's like living with a unilateral hearing loss, which is what I have....complete deafness in one ear.

You can read it here, Unilateral hearing loss? Help!

Feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook at the end too, I'd love to know what you think.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here it comes...

My sister at the Slightly Mad Quilt Lady put up this post with some gorgeous photos of impending weather rolling in across a wide open sky.

Here is my own impending weather shot, though my photo has a few things hers doesn't, other people's roofs, power lines, reminders I am currently ensconced in suburbia....


This yielded but a few drops of rain, although the weather a day or so after this shot more than made up for it. I'm looking forward to summer storms, crackling lightening and rolling thunder (please excuse me talking in cliches, descriptive words escape me tonight), we didn't seem to get much of that last summer.

Gotta love Melbourne weather!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A blue kind of day

This was one of those days when I just had to get them outside, and it was cold enough that we needed an activity rather than just aimless footling around which can be so fun on a more mild day.

So I chose finger paint. The request was for blue, so blue it was.


It was a bit of a finger paint disaster actually, if you want to lowdown on how NOT to make finger paint I've written it up here.

The backyard is still blue and I'm still picking the remaining blue bits out of bubs hair, when he sits still long enough for me to do so.

Roll on summer days, I'm ready for some heat! Then I'll let them finger paint nekkid and just shave their heads afterwards.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You can't see me....

Who needs toys when you've got a laundry hamper?


My lil guy is going through a phase of sitting in things.

The laundry hamper, buckets, shoe boxes, frypans, the potato heads plastic tub, any and all random cardboard boxes.

And he will sit on his brother whenever his brother lies on the floor. 

Actually it's more like a body slam than a sit, just as well H is the robust type.

Are all boys as physical and LOUD as mine? 

Is it just boys or are girls the same way? 
I admit to heaving an enormous sigh of relief when my two are in bed asleep, it gives my head a chance to stop ringing from the constant onslaught of noise and activity.

So a quiet game of hiding in the laundry hamper is very welcome.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Life in my kitchen

My life seems to be lived in the kitchen at the moment.

If I'm not actually cooking, I am fixing a snack or making a packed lunch.
Or packing and unpacking the dishwasher, hand washing the things that to my husbands utter disgust can't go in the dishwasher.
Or fixing snacks for when I take the kids out, because as any parent of small children knows you don't go ANYWHERE without a stash.
Putting away the groceries.
CLEANING the kitchen....yes that does happen, occasionally.

And with my recent decision to make the family's bread instead of buy it, as well as all the other from-scratch cooking I plan on keeping in my repertoire, my hours in the most used room in our house seem to be ever increasing.

And of course my ongoing quest to become a master cupcake maker is not helping matters.

All of which mean the kids come looking for me in there more often.
And if I am doing anything remotely interesting they want to get stuck in too.
And I don't have the heart to refuse them, also, I'm sure it's good for their
development and their future wives will thank me when they find out their hubby's are not afraid to get down and dirty in the kitchen. Ahem.

And they should be able to ice a mean cupcake too.





Unsurprisingly, they both needed a bath after this one, but the resulting mess was delicious!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Homemade pillowcase gift - lovely!

My youngest sister, The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady, has sent my boys some very creative birthday gifts.

A personalised pillowcase each, made from strips of different fabric on one side, and on the other side all one fabric with their name machine sewn on (I know there is a proper term for this technique but I can't remember what it is). And a length of feather wool sewn across one end too.

I'm not sure that was such a great explanation, but you can probably see what I mean by checking out this picture:


Needless to say, they are a huge hit! The boys love them and are sleeping on them right now. The lil fella at 15 months has only very recently gained a pillow in his cot, so now he has his very first pillowcase and is pleased as punch.

A fabulous idea for a crafty, personalised, useful, thrifty gift that is non-plastic.
Ticks all the boxes, I think.

Thanks, Auntie Lottie!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to carry your baby.......or your dog

A day or so ago, H asked for a pram to push his toy dog Missy around in. 
Not wanting to add to the plastic load in our house, I reminded him how I used to transport his younger brother in a mei tai.  

Now days it's usually (well, occasionally really) a ring sling or a wrap or much more likely just Mr 15 months barreling along under his own steam but back when he was a little tacker the mei tai came in pretty handy.

So after I steered H in the right direction with dog carrying, I then had to produce...

I managed to whip this one up pretty quickly on my machine, with two squares of fabric turned and top stitched, and four lengths of wide ribbon sewn on in the appropriate places.


Cute, huh?


His choice of fabric and ribbon, in case you think my taste is odd, hehe...


And please excuse the detritus in the background, you know all those "my creative space" posts that are doing the blog rounds? 
Well, that's can see one box of fabric on the bottom right there, next to it is another and tucked in the corner under the table is my sewing machine.

On top of the table is my thread collection, sewing basket, a mindstorms lego kit, various computer parts, and whatever other projects hubby and kids are working on.

Oh, and another box of fabric under my desk too.

Yes, we are looking round for a bigger house.

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