Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Snappers...



My teeth are one of my very worst features.They are not something I am proud of. A nice smile I may have, as long as my mouth is mostly closed, but I am very self conscious of my terrible teeth.

Up close, they are damaged, gappy, very badly stained, and crooked. Delightful, not.

I have not taken the best care of my health or my teeth in the past, so I really have no one to blame but myself.

From an early teen, I smoked, and I carried on smoking for twenty seven years. The impact of this habit on my teeth and on my gums is evident.  It doesn't really matter how much you brush your teeth as a smoker - the chemicals in cigarettes are damaging to gums and assist in bacteria growing far more rapidly within any plaque. Nice.

In my early twenties, when I worked in hospitality, I partied, and I partied hard. Excessive alcohol and amphetamine use was fairly unforgiving on my teeth. Years of jaw clenching and grinding have weakened my pearly greys a lot.

And then, despite leading a cleaner lifestyle, as I hit my thirties, I drank a lot of black coffee and red wine.

All of which have stained my teeth, terribly.

I then went on to have four pregnancies and three children in quick succession. And they say you lose a tooth for each child...

I didn't. Not at the time, anyway.

But for the past few weeks, my mouth has been protesting a lot, and I knew that the toothache I have been suffering would need attention.

Root canal and a crown kind of attention.

I have not been to the dentist for five years. (Shameful, I know.) The last time I went  I was pregnant with Lexie and it was a quick fill only, and a lot of disgusted shaking of the dentists head, as he was so appalled at the general state of my mouth. It was evidence of neglect.

So I have been back.  Tail between my legs, finally admitting that I need to take big brave expensive steps to sort out all of my teeth and mouth issues once and for all.

The toothachey tooth has been extracted. It was right at the back - easy to let it go. I am now sporting a bruised jaw line and a gap where my rotten tooth was.

I also have an appointment card. It may take me another 26 visits to get my teeth finally in a position where they are totally fixed from a health, hygiene and appearance point of view.




Do you have good teeth? Do you take care of them? Have you had a lot of dental work completed?

Share with me? Tell me your teeth tales?

Monday, 30 May 2011

EASY home made ice cream...

EASY home made ice cream...



I was introduced to this easy as recipe by Sandra, of the $120 Food Challenge - DIY Ice Cream

I made it a few weeks ago, and was astounded at how easy, smooth and creamy it was, especially considering the tiny amount of effort I had exerted.

My perception of home made ice cream is generally one of churning and stirring and freezing and ice crystals. Drama filled and not really worth it.

But this, this method is SO easy.

I will replicate it here - I used lower fat options, and you would never know this was a light version.




EASY home made ice cream

600 ml lite thickened cream
295g tin of lite condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella

1. Beat the cream until whipped, until soft peaks appear.
2. Add the vanilla essence and stir to combine
3. Add the condensed milk and then whip again.
4. Stir in the Nutella until it combines and the whole mixture has turned brown
5. Transfer to a freezer safe container.
6. Freeze for 12 hours before use.


Next time I make this I am planning on freezing it in a loaf tin lined with cling film - and will slice it to serve, perhaps with berries and some hazelnut praline...


Sunday, 29 May 2011

So you think you can dance?



This is just over a minute of So You Think You Can Dance footage of my children.

It's chaos, it's cheesy. It's noisy and badly edited. But....

It was taken last night at the little blue light disco that precedes the main feature at the Drive In movies that we are in the habit of enjoying on a Saturday night. (Last night we saw Hop and it was pretty cute. Next month we'll be going again to see Cars 2 and I cannot wait!)

My son, Charlie, is a little groover. This time last year he was in a full body cast after having spent months in traction, as a result of a horrific spiral fracture to his left femur. Hence it brings me so much joy to see him dismiss his limp and just get on down and boogie.

So you think you can dance my Charlie boy? Yep, I think you can dance.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Muminspired...vote for the peoples choice!




If you can recall, a while back I mentioned the Huggies® MumInspired® Grant Program

Earlier this week Huggies have announced the five winners of the $20,000 MumInspired grants. These ideas range from hearing aid devices to top of the range breastfeeding bras. Check out the winning entries here:


Huggies® MumInspired® Grant Top Five Program Winners



Click through and have a read of the amazing ideas. I am blown away that these Mum's can be so savvy and inspired. You can vote easily to give the mosy peopular idea a further $10,000!



Drab2Fab

Diminishing Lucy


Drab to Fab is all about making the choice to treat ourselves well, so that we feel good.

If we aim to treat ourselves well, to nurture ourselves, to treat ourselves kindly, we can feel fab, instead of drab.
Simple as that really.

So it's not about dieting, or about going from "fat to fit."

It's about any component of your world moving from drab to fab.

It's about renewal. About taking care of yourself, and doing things that make you happy, in whatever form that takes.

So Drab to Fab is ON!

All you need to do to take part is: follow Diminishing Lucy, link up any post of yours that suits, and then share the love by commenting on some of the other blogs that link up.

I'd love it if you grabbed the Drab to Fab button too? Pop the button in your sidebar, or in your post?








Cannot wait to read your posts!





_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1442 ~ Exercise calories burned - 386 ~ Glasses of water sculled - heaps
Ironing baskets dealt with - 2  ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 6

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ruthless Bitch

Who?

Me, that's who.

And loving it.

Today I should have ironed my customary two baskets of clothes, helped at kindy for a few hours, and gone to the dentist. I should have done a few hours worth of work from home, and made a whole heap of 'phone calls.

Instead, I turned my phone onto silent, and cancelled everything. I logged off everything, and put some tunes on the stereo.

And I got ruthless.

Black bin bag in hand, I sought to get busy and get ruthless with some serious declutter activity.

As is so often the way when a visit from parents in law is imminent, I see crap and clutter everywhere through this whole house, and it makes me shitty.

For the past week or so I have found myself getting cranky in my kitchen with the amount of crap that seems to just be in my way.

(It will come as no surprise to anyone that yes, cleaning is a form of control. Cleaning and decluttering become my method of exerting a semblance of power?)

So, I became a ruthless bitch and dealt with -
  • Every kitchen cupboard
  • The pantry
  • The cupboard under the sink. (How many green scourers does one family not need? How may half empty bottles of spray and wipe that we don't ever use?!)
  • The kitchen drawers. Even the third one down. (Which is actually neatly stacked with clean ironed tea towels and aprons...)
  • The school note folder that sits under the microwave that is spilling out all over the bench with notes and canteen price lists from 2009.
  • The craft basket that is spewing full of....crap. No other word for it - just crap.
I did not take photos of all of my kitchen cupboards. I was too focused on the job in hand. But the very worse example was the "plastic pot cupboard of doom". Which also contains a shelf of baking stuff. And another shelf high up for medicines and sunglasses. And another shelf for my toolbox. A cupboard that NEEDS to be organised but is generally a magnet for more crap.



In the end, I chucked out two big bin bags of stuff. If I don't love it, it's GONE.


I was chatting to the lovely Maxabella about this decluttering issue yesterday - we have a theory that the DE-cluttering of stuff is vital.


"There is nothing like a good declutter to restore the domestic mind. I secretly suspect that my mantra 'don't buy clutter in the first place' is doomed because if I didn't buy the clutter I wouldn't have anything to DE-clutter. It's good for the soul."


I feel better. I actually enjoyed preparing dinner in my kitchen again. I enjoyed coming home from the school run and surveying my ruthless work. I was, most definitely, calmer and less cranky this evening with the kids, in my zen space. One room down, eight to go.

How about you? Do you hoard? Love some artistic clutter? Or do you love to get ruthless and get rid?



_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1461 ~ Exercise calories burned - 386 ~ Glasses of water sculled - not enough 
Dental appointments skipped - 1 ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 8

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Start with yourself...


What makes you happy?

Here are some things that make me feel like grinning inside:
  • Feeling energetic from some exercise
  • Remembering to make time to eat breakfast
  • Good coffee
  • Making time to put tinted moisturiser on in the morning
  • When the inside of my car is clean
  • Knowing I have drunk lots of water
  • Having a full fruit bowl and a fridge full of cut fruit
  • Remembering to take the meat out for dinner in plenty of time
  • Herbs in salad
  • Filling in Calorie King for the day
  • Picking my children up from school and skipping with them across the playground
  • Nice music whilst preparing dinner
  • Nag Champa burning through the house
  • Decluttered spaces...
I could go on with this list for ages. I am so glad I can recall of these simple things that make me happy and instigate them quickly...

What about you? Tell me some things that you can do for yourself to get happy?




_________________________________________________________________


Total calories inhaled - 1385 ~ Exercise calories burned - 343 ~ Glasses of water sculled - not enough 
Toothaches that I cannot shift  ~ Hours of glorious sleep - 6

Monday, 23 May 2011

Adelaide Lady Bloggers

If you look back here, you'll see that the Adelaide Lady Bloggers have rendezvoused before, back in January.

Since then, we have Twittered a whole lot more, met up in Sydney and generated close bonds, blogged a whole lot more, and laughed a whole lot more. together.

And because we have met before, the idea of another get together was simple and easy.

And it was not really like a Bloggers Meet Up, or a Tweet Up. Or URL meeting IRL.

It was just like friends getting together for a glass of wine (or six) over some chow.

And that's what we did.




The hilarious Cate from I'll think of a Title Later, the sweet but clever and edgy Cat from Be Loverly, and the honest and funny Bianca from Big Words. And me.



The ease at which we met, sat, talked, ate and drank was like old friends.

The way in which we all were equally fascinated/horrified/curious/in giggles over the blondes that may or may not have been transvestites that definitely had fake boobs was a bond. And if you ever want to see four bloggers splurt wine and mineral water out in a fit of giggles in symphony together? Just wait till said blondes take a tumble right next to the table - no jiggle of fake boobs despite the fall, and nor did any of the hair move either....

And if the young single blondes at the next table start wowing you with light up lip glosses, do not fret - we can top that, with glow in the dark light up tweezers. for alternative grooming and plucking...




We drank, we ate, we laughed like old friends.

We sat on our arses for five hours, ate heaps of delicious Chinese food, drank lots of wine and water, and got chucked out when the staff started to turn the lights off in the restaurant.

We didn't take enough photos, but we DID have a great time. And we shall be doing it again soon. So if there are any other Adelaide bloggers out there, won't you join us?

If there is anyone out there in blog land that is nervous ever about meeting up with others...don't be. Just go. You will not regret it, and you will no doubt have a top time.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Deep breath and start again...


I have had a shocking few weeks.

No excuses really, I have just been busy.

I have no idea where I am up to weight wise. But I feel permanently tinged with guilt. So I suspect I need to take a deep breath, move on, and start afresh.

So today is a day of planning. Chucking out the junk that has infiltrated the larder. Stocking up on fruit and veggies.

Making a plan, a realistic plan.

Letting go of the guilt.

Reminding myself that all of the exercise I do is worth sweet nothing if my approach to food is wrong.

I shall be digging out my hypnotherapy and committing to listening to it.

I shall resume my little blog diary accountability.

And take a deep breath and start again with renewed vigour....

And turn my face back to the sun...




Friday, 20 May 2011

Grateful to be humble...

My children go to a small primary school.

It is a local government school set upon spacious grounds, surrounded by gum trees, with a creek running down the side of the oval.

There is a fully stocked canteen open daily, run by Mums.

There are plentiful facilities within each classroom, and a gym, and a dedicated activities block, as well as a brilliantly resourced library.

The staff are solid and are all enthusiastic, regardless of tenure. They care.

The principle is professional and quite the expert at extracting funding wherever she can.

There is very involved parent body that volunteers and helps out with everything from reading to sausage sizzles to soccer training.

There is a uniform with a fairly strict policy. The kids look smart.




I overhead a conversation between a parent and a teacher today.

The parent was expressing her concern that there are a number of new children who appear to be "in jeans and not in proper uniform".

I'll be honest, I had noticed the same thing. Sweatshirts instead of the school jacket, jeans instead of navy blue drill pants, scruffy sneakers instead of school shoes, random t-shirts instead of the standard issued embroidered polo shirt.  I will be totally frank now, and tell you that it has irritated me - almost as if I felt let down by some other parents not "upholding" the fine standards of the school?

I continued to eavesdrop on the conversation, and whilst the concerned parent was not harsh or critical of the children or of the school, it seemed that this lack of "standard" was really bothering her - enough, certainly, to raise it with a teacher.

I sensed the teacher take a deep breath and look the parent in the eye.

"It's hard, isn't it? Don't we all wish that all children had the care that sends them lovingly dressed in a full clean and ironed uniform? But really, I am just so relieved that these children are actually here. They are turning up, against all odds, every day. Let us be thankful for that. Let us be grateful that they are here."

None of this conversation involved me. But I went away feeling humbled.

And more than a little ashamed of my previous perceptions.

And grateful that, indeed, these kids are managing to get to school and attend every day, to be with teachers who see beyond the smartness of a uniform.

And I am grateful that I overheard this conversation before I let my petty prejudice make me lose sight of what is really important about our kid's educations.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Drab to Fab

Diminishing Lucy


Drab to Fab is all about making the choice to treat ourselves well, so that we feel good.

If we aim to treat ourselves well, to nurture ourselves, to treat ourselves kindly, we can feel fab, instead of drab.
Simple as that really.

So it's not about dieting, or about going from "fat to fit."

It's about any component of your world moving from drab to fab.

It's about renewal. About taking care of yourself, and doing things that make you happy, in whatever form that takes.

So Drab to Fab is ON!

All you need to do to take part is: follow Diminishing Lucy, link up any post of yours that suits, and then share the love by commenting on some of the other blogs that link up.

I'd love it if you grabbed the Drab to Fab button too? Pop the button in your sidebar, or in your post?








Cannot wait to read your posts!




Wednesday, 18 May 2011

How to make Jelly preserves...

I have not made a jelly preserve for years - so it was with more than a little trepidation that I made this Feijoa Jelly.

I am so glad I did though - Lexie and I had a ball making it together, it turned out a perfect amber jelly and is quite delicious.



Feijoa Jelly Preserve

4kg feijoas

Water to cover – about 8 cups
White sugar - about 6 cups

1. Wash the feijoas and top and tail them. Chop in half length ways. Place the fruit into a large pan and just cover with cold water.
2. Bring slowly to the boil, and then simmer for an hour, so that the fruit is soft and pulpy. (It will turn a grey green sludgy colour and look gross - do not fret.)
3. Line a large sieve with a large piece of muslin and sit this on top of a large bowl. (I use a clean bucket.)
4. Transfer the hot fruit mixture to the sieve and allow the mixture to drain overnight. Do not squeeze the fruit pulp. Just let it drip through all by itself.
5. Discard the pulp. The juice will look a grey colour - do not worry! This colour changes as you heat it!
6. Measure the juice and return to a clean saucepan and add 3/4 cup sugar for every one cup of juice. Stir slowly over a medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved.
7. Bring to the boil, and boil rapidly (a rolling boil)  and skim any scum off as it appears.
8. Boil at a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
9. Test for setting by dropping a drop of mixture onto a cold plate - a skin should form.
10. Allow the bubbles to subside, skim off any remaining scum and bottle in hot sterilised jars.
11. Seal and label.
(This method of preserving can be used with most fruits if you want a clear preserve in comparison to a chunkier jam.)
 
 
 
 
 
Feijoa Lemon Glaze Muffins
 
Ingredients

3 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
100g butter
4 eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 cup freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
2 cups feijoa flesh, roughly chopped

Lemon Glaze

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin

2. Melt the butter; beat in the eggs, rind and juice. Add the feijoa flesh.

3. Sift the flour, sugar and baking powder in another bowl.

4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and mix to just combine. Do not over mix.

5. Spoon mixture into the muffin tin.

6. Bake at 200°C for 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan for two minutes, then turn on to a wire rack.

7. Glaze: Mix rind and sugar in a small bowl. Just before using the glaze, stir in the lemon juice. Sprinkle with additional caster sugar.

(These have been a huge lunchbox hit...)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sweet Art...


I have mentioned before that my eldest daughter Olivia has a touch of artist about her.

Since an early age she has drawn and painted beautiful images.

Her use of colour and medium and texture is filled with much flair. I could not be more proud of her.

I am envious too.

I watch her, totally absorbed in wax and paint and ideas that slowly form into beauty.

I was sent, today, the Sweet Art travelling journal, to complete my contribution.

I am both terrified and excited at the prospect. How is it possible to be so keen and itching to start, but haltingly reticent at the same time?

I studied art at school, through adolescence. I withdrew totally after a very sad experience with my art teacher. My artistic pursuits stopped there and then, and my creativity was channelled into cooking and writing instead.

These days I find myself dreaming in art and design projects.

I shall explore a little, I think.

I am no artist. Not at all. A lack of talent and practice has seen to that. But I am a visual person, and I crave the opportunity to experiment.

Olivia and I, we will start to working together, I think.




Monday, 16 May 2011

How (not) to teach your child to tie their shoelaces...


The time has come.

Whilst I know I can get away with velcro fastening shoes for another few seasons and another few shoes sizes, the time is drawing near when Olivia, and Charlie probably sooner, will need to turn their backs on velcro straps for 'real shoes' and 'real sneakers'.

A little like toilet training or the learning of how to tell the time, the very idea of teaching my children such a new and anti-intuitive skill is daunting. One to be delayed for as long as possible.

I cringe at the cutesy methods such as "Bunny Ears" (two loops first, then tie into a granny knot.)

I am not organised or crafty enough for different coloured lace ends to aid reminding. (Bi-coloured Laces are actually a good idea - apparently you take two laces in two different colors and cut them down the middle. Then sew them together to make two bi-coloured laces. Practicing lacing an old pair of shoes with these mix and match shoes laces speeds up the process, apparently. Using bi-colored laces apparently can really helps children who struggle to remember right from left.)

There is, I notice, special lace boards that I might try and pinch borrow from kindy, that replicate a shoe, made from wood, with instructions on it.

When I was a child, my brothers taught me how to tie my laces, using some complicated story about a squirrel and a tree - and I learned to tie my laces in a single loop. (From memory, you create "tree roots" by creating a plain knot to start. Then the "tree" is a long thing loop held in one hand. Then the other hand pulls the lace around (the squirrel runs around the tree) and then the squirrel jumps in the hole under the tree, and comes up the other side. By which time the laces (and your fingers, whilst in the practice stage) are nicely knotted. I am trying to repeat history with this method for Olivia.

Olivia has new sneakers. She is a demon on the AusKick oval. She is determined (but slow) in the swooping and looping  and pulling that is the practice that is the lacing of shoes.

I ask her if she needs help.

She looks at me witheringly - and tells me I use the wrong hands and that she doesn't believe in squirrels and trees. She is left handed to my right, and she is spot on - there are blessed few squirrels in Australia.

Just let me figure it out by myself Mum? Please?




And so, like toilet training and the telling of time, it is Olivia that does it all herself, and it's me that worries, unnecessarily, watching on.

Tell me how you learned to tie your laces? How are you teaching your kids to master the art of lacing their shoes?


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Feijoa Feijoa For Gluts Sake...

I have made mention before of our garden. And of my lovely husband's green fingered ability to give me gluts. Love his gluts.



The newly created front salad and herb garden is thriving - he built it, and he plants out; I water and tend to it. We have not bought fresh herbs or salad greens for six months. The morning sun that this garden bed enjoys, and it's guilt inducing position that's on the way to the car, are a perfect combination.

And as we move to through Autumn to Winter I am still presented with bowls of tomatoes. Still! They have lost their red intensity, but the flavors of these late fruit are still wonderful.

And as I look out of my kitchen window I can see the lemon tree laden and groaning with fruit. This past summers increased rain fall have done the lemons a lot of favours - this seasons fruit and blemish free and thin skinned, ripe with scent, almost pip free and bursting with juice. It is a bumper crop, and will force me to investigate new preserving options - there are only so many jars of marmalade I can give away. 


On the way to the productive compost corner, an old hydrangea bed has been converted by the lovely husband, into another vegetable patch. I suspect this soil, whilst it has had a huge investment of our compost over the past four years, was treated previously with a fair amount of lime (to encourage the old hydrangea bushes to change from blue to pink...)
This lime, in turn, serves the beetroot crops very well - and I cannot wait to start dealing with the beetroot glut that I am sure is coming.

But our greatest glut this year? Feijoa. It is not a fruit that I see in the shops much - maybe because nobody ever needs to buy any due to the profusion off one tree?



When I tell you that we have BUCKETS of the fruit dropping daily (on both sides of our fence) I am not joking.

I have given buckets away daily to neighbours and friends and teachers at school.

The smell is perfumed and fragrant, the taste is sweet and fresh. Luckily my children all love to sit with a bowl of them, sliced in half, spooning out the pulp for themselves.




So I have scoured the internet for tried and true Feijoa recipes and Feijoa Jelly and Feijoa Ice Cream and Feijoa Muffins are all in production today.

If you know of any amazing tried and true Feijoa recipes, please let me know? Or if you have recipes for using bulk amounts of lemons, please share with me?


Saturday, 14 May 2011

The School Run

Whenever it gets to Friday*, my mind starts to wander to the weekend, to our plans, to spending time with the children and my lovely husband.

This week has been busy; non-stop busy, and there I was, on Friday, and dare I say it, but I felt as if I was nearly all caught up?

And so my mind wandered a little more, in this place it found itself, this content place, this grateful place.

It was not even lunchtime and I had a clean house and ironed jeans and dinner was bubbling and smelling rich and enticing in the slow cooker.

To say that I am grateful to my lovely husband is an understatement.

I struggle to articulate just how thankful I am for his presence, which I can never presume to expect.



Yesterday he did the school run for me.

The untold joy that that brings Olivia and Charlie is quite worth it, for him, whilst Lexie and I are then unencumbered by the trip - we remained in our pyjamas and got busy with boring but quite satisfying chores.

He works hard, my lovely husband, for us, for me, for himself.

I know, intellectually, how hard this must be - a family to support, the main breadwinner, the car loans, the reputation, the scope, the stress. But I am not sure I do comprehend emotionally how really tough this is for him at times. When I do catch a glimpse of it, it scares me.

So I tell him how much I love and appreciate all that he is, and just hope he feels it.

I am eternally grateful to him, for the essence that is Andrew, for the man that he is.

And I am also incredibly grateful for the fact that he does the school run...




* I wrote this yesterday. Then Blogger broke. Now we are back, it seems. I am grateful to Blogger too...!

PS This is, as always, my contribution to Maxabella's Saturday Grateful.