Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We survived the school holidays

I'd been waiting rather desperately (and so had the kids I 'spose) for the school hols, the eleven week term just seemed tooooo long. But once they were here I felt rather unprepared, as I'd been way too busy in the weeks leading up to the hols. I like to put in some pre-school-holiday prep but that just didn't happen this time.

But, we managed. 

Nothing high-brow, obviously.


Good old play dough...

More crafting...

Swimming, library-ing, beach-ing, lots of outside stuff, sushi eating, too much x-boxing.

And growing. Lots of height happening over here.

And just generally hanging round in trees with turtles.

Er, no haircuts though.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A one year anniversary

The one year anniversary of our stillborn baby passed by without fanfare in May. The day itself was uneventful and I managed to keep it all together, right till the very end of the day. Then just a few tears shed at the unfairness of it all.

We had recently spread Baby L's ashes, on this camping trip. They drifted away on the mighty Goulburn River, in the mid morning light. It is a wonderful place, and the farm will always have bittersweet memories for me.

There seems to be reminders everywhere right now, of what we don't have, I think I always see them but most of the time I ignore them and don't let them bother me. But the husband has been back in hospital having the plate in his shoulder out and going back to the hospital has brought back memories of our totally crappy year last year, which was rounded off by the plate-in-the-shoulder incident.

We're going on a snow weekend soon, with two other families. One family has three young children, the youngest being perhaps 2 years old, and a boy after two girls. The other have a five month old little boy. They're the ones who told me they were pregnant when we were staying at the Mansion last year. I haven't met their baby yet, so that may be an interesting weekend. 

One thing that irritates me is something that people say innocently enough. Seeing as our youngest (middle?) child is starting school next year, more people than I can count say something along the lines of "ooh, how exciting for you, you'll have so much time on your hands next year!" Well yes I will and no, it's not exciting at all. It's just an awful little reminder of what should have been happening next year. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hitting the beach when it's 5 degrees C

What else do you do on a public holiday, but head to the beach? Despite the fact it's 5.5 degrees celsius....

We were suitably rugged up against the fog and low temperatures.

The water was crystal clear and still as a mill pond.

Then one bucket/giant yogurt container got thrown a little far out....

And it was so much fun getting wet....

That we kept doing it, despite the FREEZING temperature.

We decided a water fight might be fun....

And then thought we may as well just swim.

Lucky mum brought extra clothes and hot cocoa because she just KNOWS that when there's water we will get wet. And we will eventually turn blue.

The fog and low cloud started to clear by mid-afternoon, but by then we were home in a hot bath.

Ah, gotta love a good public holiday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Best melt and mix chocolate cake you'll ever eat

We had two birthdays recently, and a combined birthday party, so that meant a lot of cake making.
I know, I know, the hardship!

Mostly vanilla, for which I used this recipe, (I just left out the lemon juice and added vanilla) but one of them somewhere along the way was chocolate.

Now, I am all about ease when it comes to cake-making. If I can avoid having to beat butter and sugar together, I most surely will.
 Melt and mix is where it's at in my kitchen for birthday cake making.

So I give you the recipe I use for making the perfect melt and mix chocolate birthday cake.

It works well for any other occasion too, but it is perfect for birthday cake decorating because it's firm enough, it freezes well so you can make it ahead of time, it never sinks when baked and it makes a good quantity.
Oh, and it tastes really, really, really, really good.

(Don't kid yourself that this is healthy in any way though, I make an exception to healthy stuff for birthday cakes.)

(If you want to print this recipe, have a look on my side bar and follow the link with the chocolate cake picture. 
It will take you to my squidoo page where there is a print button at the bottom of the recipe.)


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups white flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
100 grams melted butter (1/2 a cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water

  • Heat your oven to up 180 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit.
  • Line a 23cm square pan (9x9 inch)
  • Melt the butter in a small pan.
  • Into your electric mixer, put the eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix briefly.
  • Add your melted butter and mix well.
  • Mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Add this to the butter/egg/milk mixture and mix on medium for about half a minute.
  • Pour in the boiling water and mix on low until flour is incorporated and there are no lumps. (The batter will look thin.)
  • Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
  • If you are like me and your cakes break when you try to turn them out while still warm, leave your cake to cool in the pan.

VARIATION: You can pour the batter into two 9 inch round baking pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to keep chickens out of your garden pots

Our chooks looove to jump into the potted trees and have a good scratch around. 
That's not so good for the roots as it can damage them but it also leaves them exposed to the elements, as the chooks seem to scratch the dirt over the side.

Actually, it's only the wyandottes, as the silkies can't get their feathery butts up there.

Here is Anakin Skywalker having a good old nosey at what I'm up to.

So I came up with this not-very-beautiful solution which seems to be working. I throw on any old, dried plants (that get tossed over the fence to the chooks when I'm gardening) and I've weighed it down with rocks and bits of brick.

This is a feijoa tree, I might put it in the ground round the front when the rest of those pittisporums come out.

Here's one of the boys' miniature cherry trees we gave them for Christmas, looking rather forlorn as it loses it leaves. But it didn't seem to like having it's roots messed with either. 

The chooks now don't bother getting up there much and can't access the dirt with their claws if they do. The little monkies have plenty of other dirt round to scratch about in.

Now, I just went to online to check out if daphne (the plant) is toxic. 
Somewhere in the back of mind I must have heard it is because when I sat and looked at this photo, something in me went uh-oh.

That daphne bush has been out the back for a few years now and it's a favourite spot for the chooks to hang out. They've now been here for nearly 5 months so it hasn't affected them, but they haven't been here when it's been flowering, which it's about to do.

Poop. I would hate to have to get rid of it but it seems like I may have to. I do love the smell and the one out the front has just recently inexplicably died. Well, it's looking more dead every day so I think it's on it's way out. 

The girls are still laying after a brief hiatus, only two of them though and I'm still not sure which two.

But have a look at this teeny, tiny egg we got the other day.
The big one of the left is a real size chook egg and the others are from our bantams.

See the teeny one? It's about 3 cm long. 

Got some winter veggies in the garden too, just waiting for it all to grow now....if it ever stops raining!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend stuff

My vacuum cleaner had it's last gasp on Saturday. It has now been assigned to vacuum cleaner heaven, thanks to one happy dismantler and his father.

We also had an actual 7th birthday. 
This is the much-desired lego x-wing that was put together by it's proud owner over the course of 2 days. 

How easy is it when all your kid wants is lego? I dread the day when they outgrow it.

Miss Broody here appears to be having a good zzzzzz. 

She just hangs out there all day if I let her, so sometimes I lift her feathery butt down and plonk her in front of the feeder. I have even been known to shut the door to the run after her so she can't just dash straight back up the stairs and settle in again. 

I relocated this orange tree on the weekend too. It was languishing in a pot round the back with the chooks, who took great delight in scratching the topsoil out of the pot, thus disturbing the roots, which citrus trees hate.

That's the lemon tree in the background, less lemons this year but much larger ones. And behind that you can see where the pittosporums are coming out. A work in progress as those trees are deep rooted and thick trunked. (Is that even a word?)

Baked apples. Yum. 
They do take a lot longer in the oven than over the campfire though.

That was my weekend. Lots of random stuff.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's footy seaon!

Auskick has started again for the season and this year, we've got both boys in it. 
Technically, the lil' guy at only-just-turned-four is not old enough, but seeing as hubby put his hand up for coaching this year, they've bent the rules for him. 
So he's in with one little mate who's also only four and all the others are meant to be five and above.

His footy top is an old soccer top from a friend that I cut the sleeves off to look more footy-ish. 
Lucky it's the right colour.

You see, we bought him a top last year, got it numbered and all, and it has vanished off the face of the earth. Someone (most probably me) has put or left it somewhere and despite turning the house upside down and inside out, it is not to be found.

Footy boots still to come and he prefers short socks, so he will continue to look cutely mis-matched.

It was birthday party weekend too.
A joint one this year, while we can still get away with it.

Two cakes.

Like my monsters?
Pretty easy to make once your m&ms are colour separated. (Kids job.)

The party was held at the dojo where the boys do karate. A karate party, perfect.

Must light own candles.

Me too!

Ah, seven years old. And four! When did that happen?

It was just yesterday they were cute toddlers

and squishy babies.

Time is flying!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homemade indoor rock climbing finger board

Hubby has fairly recently gotten into rock climbing. 

We have a couple of good rock climbing centers within easy driving distance but unless you're in there every day, you sorta need to do some training on your own, if you're at all serious about it.

Well, this is what is now hanging above our bathroom door frame. 

This is something the hubby rigged up one afternoon, after a bit of banging round in the workshop, one lot of cursing after eye-balling and not measuring, and some sawdust on the floor.

Mostly made with leftover bits of wood from various projects, bits that I've scavenged for the kids to hammer together and paint on (see the handprints? Good placement, huh?).

Good for dangling painfully from your fingertips by.

Complemented by another gadget we already had, to do pull-ups and chin-ups etc on. 

And just so the boys don't miss out on the action (must do everything daddy does!), hubby rigged up some rope with a couple of handles to wind round the chin-up gadget and hang down at kid-dangling-height.

We've taken the boys to the climbing gym a few times, Mr nearly-7 LOVES it, Mr just-turned-4 is ok but even at his extreme-4-yr-old height, he's not quite tall enough to reach between some of the holds.

I can totally see hubby doing this to the house one day....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The great outdoors

We went camping the week after Easter. Remember the Farm

The Farm was not in use these holidays and we'd been advised that there were some lovely camping spots around the place AND we could light campfires and dance round naked if we wished seeing as it's private property. All 3000 acres of it.

So we did. Light a campfire that is, not dance round naked. A tad too chilly for that.

We spent the first night in the homestead, seeing as we arrived after dark. The next morning saw us all out on the hill with hubby and his remote controlled airplane.

Then we drove to our recommended campsite (a 4 wheel drive would have been handy here but our trusty old sedan made it), right on the Goulburn river. Being autumn, the weather was perfect for having the campfire burning all day, though we did manage to peel off our fleece jumpers at various times when it almost felt hot.

See those grey clouds in the background? Yup, it rained about 2 minutes later. We had a few short showers that first day but nothing torrential.

After a chilly start the next day,

Exploring we all went. Plenty of wombat holes around and although the kids had us out both nights after dark with torches, no wombats were seen in action. Plenty of fresh wombat poop though, so we know they were there.

Too cold for an actual swim but they still managed to get wet of course. The river was running quite high, so even if it was warmer, I'm not sure they'd actually be swimming.

A bit of afternoon chess, lots of s'mores making, roasting apples, spuds and corn cobs in the embers.
The sun went down by about 7pm and so did we. Apart from wombat hunting that is.

Another chilly morning, not quite a frost, but almost. Who can breathe out the biggest steam cloud?
Listening to the kookaburras and magpies serenade the dawn.

Beautiful countryside

And we got to see the sun rise through the mist.

We spent two nights in the wild and one more night up at the homestead before heading back home. A lovely trip and a first intro for the boys into 'camping in the wild' as we called it. Pooping in a hole, grass in the food and lots of fresh air.

Must do it again soon, though we may wait till close to summer I think...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pirates, arrrrr! Oh, and my homemade chicken feeder.

We had pirates in the backyard yesterday

They had a treasure map and all

They came wielding light sabers

They didn't always agree with each other

Or with me....

They kept a look out

And spotted something for dinner
(Hmm, photographing a black chook and a white one in the same photo gives my camera conniptions)

But the dinner was eating her dinner

And do you like my home made chicken feeder? 

I saw this on the web somewhere and thought I'd give it a go, I wanted some way to stop the chooks from flicking their pallets everywhere as they don't seem inclined to ever clean up the stuff they've flicked around and I think it was starting to attract rats. And pigeons.

I took a large yoghurt container (free brand advertising there, I never bother to remove labels), cut four holes around the bottom (you can see one of them in the picture), hot glued the container on to a largish, deepish dish (I used a thingy that is meant to go under a plant pot, bought it from a large hardware store), filled up the container, put the lid on and there you have it.

I also put any other (small) kitchen scraps I give them in the dish too. The chooks free range our small backyard and really only go in their coop at night, so now I pick up the whole dish and put it in there with them when they go to bed. Their coop is rat proof, so we've seen no more evidence of any critters in the backyard since I've started doing that. 

It's deep enough they don't flick food every where and they have yet to tip it over.

And, they are all now confidently using the ramp!

 Dangermouse (that's the black silkie) eventually figured it out and now trips up and down there several times a day, easy as you please.

The wyandottes are being less annoying too, so they have a reprieve for now, though I really would like a small flock of silkies, they're such silly fluffies.

A happy and safe Easter to all!

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