Archive for June 2007

 

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Cooking Mama

27 June 2007

Cooking MamaWith old friends back in town, it’s always easy to fall back into habits from our student days.

14 of us ate 7 boxes of pizza, talked about crap and played wii games all night. It’s nice to know that some things don’t change.

After the boys exhausted all the sport and martial arts games, the girls took over the console for a Cooking Mama cook off.

It’s an amusing computer game where you have to choose a recipe, chop onions, peel potatoes, pull heads of prawns, separate eggs, whisk cream, fry and flip and decorate in a certain time, to score points.

I think I pulled muscle when I was flipping pancakes. It’s much funnier as a spectator.


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Jewellery Shopping : Frou Frou

26 June 2007

Frou Frou Necklaces

Frou Frou Design – One of my favourite online jewellery shops! The stuff there are so pretty! Perfect for gawking at deliciously girly, sparkly things. Tee hee!


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Hollywood Dress Up

25 June 2007

Dress UpOn the weekend, we went to a family friend’s 21st birthday party. It was a huge family affair, with a Hollywood dress up theme.

Initially I planned to hire Star Wars outfits for the whole family : Me as Princess Leia, my husband as Hans Solo and the kids as little Ewoks.

But I *completely* forgot about the party until the night before. So I ended up scrounging through the cupboards for ANYTHING remotely dress-up-ish.

It was easy for the kids. My 4 year old went as Batman. My 2 year old went as a penguin.

I wore my medieval bridesmaid dress and went as Galadriel (The Lord of the Rings). My husband dressed up as some random character from the 1930s. These were my favourites for the night :

Party 2

Party 3


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AQWA – Perth’s Underwater Aquarium

24 June 2007

AQWAThis weekend we joined some friends to visit AQWA – Perth’s Underwater Aquarium. It was such excellent fun for the kids and it was really educational too, prompting them to ask lots of new questions about the underwater world.

My husband and I – being keen scuba divers – also enjoyed imparting our knowledge of sea creatures and underwater ecosystems. I couldn’t believe I remembered stuff from year 9 biology. Phylum : porifera, mollusca, echinoderms! So random.

The place was well designed and full of different ways for the kids to interact with the environment. My 4 year old said he enjoyed the touch pool the most, while my 2 year old said he liked Nemo.

The tanks and pools were gorgeous to look at. All the marine life, water and colours were exquisite.

My only gripe was that the entry fee was SO EXPENSIVE, plus we bought lunch at the cafe. It was definitely worth a visit, but next time I should have sourced some discount vouchers or something.

AQWA

AQWA

AQWA


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Blossom Tea

23 June 2007

Blossom TeaLast week I mentioned that my husband gave me some mysterious Sheep Poo Tea balls. I also asked if anyone knew the proper name for this kind of tea.

Apparently it’s a kind of blossoming tea. Green tea leaves and various flower petals, hand woven into a ball, that blossomed into a flower when infused. It was absolutely stunning, beautiful and weird at the same time!

There are various names for it – Buddha’s Eyes / Balls / Tears, Dragon Pearls or Flowers, Bouquet Tea, Artisan Tea, Performance Tea etc.

It tasted lovely. Not harsh or grassy. But light, fragrant, delicate and smooth. Plus, it looks gorgeous. It’s such a beautiful gift idea!

Anyway, thanks so much to the 70+ people who wrote to me with names, suggestions, links and anecdotes! Here are my online favourites :
Blossom Teas

Dragowater Teas (US) : (pictured left – right) Longing Heart, 3 Flower Burst, Dragon 4 Flowers


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The Winter Blues

22 June 2007

Sick Sean

Poor Sean has been sick. All morning he was completely normal. We went to visit some friends, and all the kids played and played and played.

In the afternoon, he was walking around the house and he just stopped in his tracks. He said, “I’m tired.” He lay down on a mat, in the middle of the kitchen and stared at the ceiling for half an hour.

Usually I would have rejoiced at the peace and quite, but I thought it was a little odd. You know. Perhaps it was a bit out of character for a child of mine to lie motionless for more than 2 MINUTES. I kept an eye on him.

After a while, I decided to move him to a nice quite spot in the lounge room, where he could look out the window and watch the rain. The poor guy looked miserable. I chatted to him, surrounded him with toys, tried to entertained him or make him laugh – no success.

I guess it may seem a bit cruel to take a picture of him while sick, but he just looked so adorable and grumpy.


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Perfect Winter Aromas

20 June 2007

LimonesWe went out to a friend’s birthday dinner at Limones in East Freo. It was such a cold night, but the restaurant had a roaring fire in the corner – it was glorious.

The place was warm, charming, inviting and filled with the magnificent smell of garlic prawns, buttery herbs and roasted lamb.

The were aromas of warm bread, sweet wine and a crackling wood fire, it was like the perfect smorgasbord of smells for a cold winter night. Mmmmm.

Of all the elaborate dishes on the menu, I was craving the seafood pasta. It arrived : A huge mountain of linguine, tossed with fresh tomato sauce and a mixture of salmon, prawns, scallops, clams, wine, garlic, herbs, chilli … oh it was divine.


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My Dad’s Birthday Dinner

19 June 2007

mirror

While I was waiting for my husband to get ready, I stole a few moments to take a mirror shot. Seconds later, the kids ran in and begged me to take photos of their funny mirror faces.

Left photo : I could hear them stomping down the hall shouting “WHERE ARE YOU MUUUUM? WHAT ARE YOU DOO-ING??”

Right photo : The boys were giggling “Look at our pink cheeks! Pink pink pink pink pink cheeks!!”

callum + karenCallum has been learning his alphabet sounds at school – so at every opportunity, my husband and I try to point out words then break them into sounds. For example: STOP signs, OPEN signs, EXIT, BIN, RUBBISH etc.

My husband thought it would be amusing to point out the name of the restaurant : YUKI. Not the best Japanese food in town, but it suited our need for sashimi.

So when we helped Callum put the sounds together, he gave a little grin – YUCKY?


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Near Misses

13 June 2007

near miss

We were getting ready for a bike ride. The boys were dressed and ready to go – with helmets, socks, shoes, jackets. We plonked them by the front door, with instruction to PLEASE SIT AND WAIT!

My husband and I raced around the house locking doors, getting our bits and pieces together, bags, water bottles, jackets, shoes, keys, wallets.

My 2 year old (Sean) wandered off and started to CLIMB UP the bookshelf. My 4 year old (Callum) decided that it was his job to stop him.

First Callum shouted at Sean. But Sean just shouted back.
Then Callum hit. But Sean hit back.
Then. Callum grabbed hold of Sean’s waist and PULLED.

Sean had a firm grip on the shelf, screaming and kicking at Callum.
So Callum PULLED HARDER.

The whole shelf leaned over like a wooden monster and swallowed our two boys in an explosion of books, pot plants, jars, vases, rocks, coins, pens, glass. The boys disappeared beneath the weight of the bookshelf. They screamed. We screamed.

We yanked up the bookshelf and they lay like little mice amidst the glazed razor edges of broken ceramics. We lifted their quivering bodies out of the mess. There was not a scratch was on them. Thank God they were wearing their helmets.


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The Tea Connoisseur (and Sheep Pu Ti)

11 June 2007

My husband loves drinking green tea. It’s just packed full of magical good stuff for your health and body, and I’ve started drinking it as well.

We often spend too much time and too much money buying and discussing the taste of various brands of green tea. We’re always on the look out for some excellent tea.

So far our favourite is the freshly plucked, whole, still pale green, baby shoots of the green tea plant. They unfold like soft flower petals and dance in the sweet green water at the bottom of your cup. It’s simply gorgeous.

However, in direct contrast…

sheep poo tea

One day my husband came home after visiting a specialty tea shop.

“Check it out! Compressed balls of tea that look like sheep poo!” he joked.

I have never seen sheep poo. But I was instantly suspicious.

Exactly what KIND of tea is it? Where did the tea come from? It doesn’t smell like tea! Where did you buy it? Was it a Chinese shop? Why did it come in an unmarked paper bag?? Why is it such a weird brown colour? And why is it so hard?

I drilled him to no avail. He only laughed.

They sit in a bottle in our pantry. They always seem to make their way out during dinner parties.

It’s kind of a joke in our house now, to ask our guests, “Would you like a cup of tea? Normal tea? Peppermint tea? Green tea? Or maybe you’d like to try some of our special Sheep Poo Tea?” (Said fast enough so it sounds Chinese.)

[Edit : My husband corrected that a sheep poo actually looks like an olive – not a speckled ball of grass. He did not in any way wish that his knowledge in farm animal faeces appeared misguided.]

A number of my readers told me to infuse a ball in a large glass of hot water. I tried it! And the results were breathtaking!


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DVDs That Make Us Happy

9 June 2007

Lately, my husband and I have been indulging in highly selective doses of excellent TV.

My husband’s choice :

Planet Earth (TV Series) (narrated by David Attenborough)

Planet Earth Goodness, this series is truly amazing. The cinematography is both absolutely incredible and breathtaking.

It’s been very satisfying to sit back after a long day, and watch the weird and wonderful creatures of this planet.

I am moved by all the intricate and hidden details, the delicate balances of interwoven relationships, and the continuing life and death cycles of this planet

There were countless scenes where my jaw just dropped, and I shook my head in an enchanting mixture of astonishment, disbelief, and appreciation. A mushroom virus exploding out of an ant’s skull? Sky diving ducklings? Zombie cicadas? Are they for real??

At the end of each episode, they show snippets of the adventures endured by the film crews. Damn, these people suffered for their art.

My choice :

Battlestar Galatica (TV Series)

Jamie Bamber I’m officially addicted. Great story, brilliant special effects, engaging drama, lots of intrigue and sci fi, and most importantly, a really reeeeeally hot piece of ass.

Exhibit number one : The Steamy Towel Scene

As it always goes, one 40 minute episode is never enough. You have to watch two. And by then you end up watching three, which happens to be the end-of-season cliff hanger episode. So of course you HAVE to watch four and five.

And suddenly you notice it’s 4am in morning, your head hurts, your eye balls have dried out, and oh crap, the kids will be waking up in 2 hours.


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My Australian Adventure

8 June 2007

platter

My husband took me out for a surprise dinner this evening. No special occasion, just “because”.

We went to an Authentic Australian Restaurant featuring Australian and Indigenous produce, The Coolgardie Safe.

On the menu : The Tastes of Australia – A platter of crocodile, kangaroo, emu, marron, karri smoked chicken, Australian olives, Australian fetta, bush tomato chutney, wild lime compote, quandong relish, beetroot wedges and Australian style damper.

meats

Emu (left) : It tasted like very soft, juicy, tender meat with the strong flavour of BLOOD. I figured that this is what everyone means when they say “It tastes gamey.”

Kangaroo (middle) : Tasted like very tender steak. In fact, it was so tender that it was quite flavourless.

Crocodile (right) : Tasted like tough pork.

Marron : Tasted like extra soft crayfish.

Bush tomato chutney : The tomatoes look like little blueberries and I thought it had a creamy chocolate taste to it.

Everything else tasted as expected. It was indeed a very tasty platter.

grub

Now everyone knows I’m an adventurous diner. I’ll give anything a go. And when I saw that witchetty grubs were on the entrée menu, I knew – I just KNEW – I would dare myself to try it. I can’t help myself.

I was pretty excited! Wow! I’ve never had a witchetty grub before! How cool! Yay for new experiences. But it arrived. And I turned into a shuddering wimp.

Inside my head, a couple of nuclear bombs went off and an all-out attack was launched on both sides.

I AM A GARDENER! I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT’S INSIDE A CATTERPILLAR! I SQUASH THOSE LITTLE BUGGERS ALL THE TIME! IT AINT PRETTY!

YOU’RE CHINESE FOR GOD’S SAKE KAREN. YOU EAT PRAWNS! YOU EAT OYSTERS! YOU EAT PIG SNOUTS AND CHICKEN BEAKS! HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT?

IF I BITE THE END IT’LL EXPLODE LIKE A TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE AND I’LL HAVE THE BOWELS OF A GRUB SITTING ON MY TONGUE.

I sat there for 10 minutes, staring at my grub.

The moment I found some courage to eat it, I instantly turned pale and gagged. It was so not cool. My husband was keen to try it. He was hurrying me! Yes, my HUSBAND – he who looks away from the turning pig on a spit. He who gags on Chinese soups.

karenEventually I cut it in half. Passed one half to my husband. Chopped my piece into little pieces. And ate them all, one by one.

What does a witchetty grub taste like? It had a faint taste that was creamy and nutty, kind of like a soft fruit, with a thick, chewy skin.

I guess it would have been slightly more pleasant, were it not for the screaming and wailing in my head.

Note : For those who don’t live in Australia, I don’t know anyone around here who eats this kind of food. This ain’t typical Australian food. Seriously. Don’t I look so brave?


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Rainy Day Activity #1

7 June 2007

My 4 year old walked up to me one afternoon. He asked if I could print out a picture for him, from the computer.

Usually, I don’t print out pictures just because the kids ask.

We have various drawing sessions – drawing on plain white paper, in their scrap books, working on a puzzle/maze/activity book, or a colouring book – and occasionally – colouring a print-out from the computer.

I get my colouring-in print-out pages from this very cool site. I’m sure it’s not properly licensed, but hey, what’s the internet for, if not for free print-outs for young children to scribble and drool on.

So I decided that, yes the boys may start a new activity and yes, they may have a colouring-in page. I asked Callum, “Which cartoon character would you like today?”

Now. Callum has never actually SEEN this website. He just knows that I twiddle on the computer and hey presto the printer spits out the most coolest picture in the WORLD.

He usually asks for Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Madagascar, Peter Pan, Nemo or Cars. To all else (Star Wars and Ninja Turtles) I say no – because of fighting scenes, guns and swords etc.

Callum answered, “Today I’d like a picture of a big man.”
“A big man? Which big man? Do you mean a giant? Like in Jack and the Bean Stalk?”
“No. That BIG man! With muscles!”
“You mean that green guy? THE HULK? How do you know about The Hulk???”
“No no no. He’s – you know – big, and kinda like – his skin is all – ergh!”

Callum’s face twisted with frustration and the inability to express his thoughts. He stopped. Then walked over to the pantry, pulled out something and walked over to me. He handed me a bottle of honey, pointed to the label and said, “The big man’s skin looks like this!”

honey

Two scary things happened that moment.

First Scary Thing : The realisation that my 4 year old son pays attention to the background watermark in the graphic design of our honey bottle.

Second Scary Thing : Is that I ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD who he was talking about – The Thing (from The Fantastic Four). And that I was momentarily thrown by this display of uncanny aptitude that I blurted out, Yeah Ok.


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Wednesday: Our Busiest Day of the Week

6 June 2007

(This is my daily schedule with a 4.5 and 2.5 years old.)

6:30am – The boys wake up. My husband gets up and makes them breakfast.

7:00am – I wake up and eat breakfast.

7:30am – Husband leaves for work. I clean up the breakfast mess, while the boys play.

8:00am – I crack open the pencil box and we all sit for some drawing / learning time.

8:30am – I turn on the music and we do dancing / movement type exercises. Eg, Let’s snap like crocodiles! Fly like planes! Hop like a kangaroo! Basically, we jump around like crazy lunatics.

We roll up the rugs in our living room. Then we roll cars and trains along the length of the floor. The game always takes on a ten-pin-bowling smash-and-crash quality.

9:30am – I plonk them in front of TV for 30 minutes, with snacks – apple, snow peas and corn crackers. I get ready to go out. I make sandwiches for lunch and pack the going-out bag.

10:00am – I get the kids ready. It takes us a good 30 minutes to brush their teeth, wash up, help them change into going-out clothes, help them put on their socks and shoes. Suncream, sunglasses and hats.

10:30am – We go to a friend’s place. All the kids play. I have a cup of tea, relax and catch up on some gossip.

11:30am – Eat lunch (ham, cheese, lettuce and mayo sandwiches). Then more playing.

12:00pm – Time to leave. I am required to give a minute-to-minute countdown “FIVE MORE MINUTES!……….. FOUR MORE MINUTES!……….” Encourage all kids to pack away the toys, gather the boy’s bits and pieces, put their shoes and socks back on, thank our friends, say goodbyes.

12:30pm – Arrive home. Brush their teeth again (because they’ve eaten sugary foods), wash up, get ready for a nap.

12:45pm – I put Sean to sleep. Callum, depending on his mood, will go to sleep or have some quiet time in his room.

I tip-toe around the house doing housey things. Paying bills. Organising next week’s events. Preparing dinner. Laundry. Cleaning. Tidying up. I check my email and other online stuff. I pack a completely different going-out bag for the afternoon.

2:45pm – Kids wake up. I feed them a carrot stick and vegemite on toast. I get them ready for swimming classes.

3:15pm – We leave the house for swimming classes. Callum goes into a class of 4 kids, where he swims with a teacher. I swim with Sean in the baby paddle pool.

4:15pm – Arrive home. I throw the kids outside. They play with their bikes, balls and sandpit. I throw dinner in the oven – roast potatoes + pumpkin, steamed broccoli + beans and crumbed fish.

5:00pm – Husband comes home. He plays with the kids and showers them.

5:30pm – We eat dinner.

6:00pm – Our babysitter arrives. She plays with the kids. I jump into the shower. Husband washes dishes.

7:00pm – We go out for our weekly night out (tonight we caught up with some friends). Babysitter puts the kids to sleep by 8pm.

10:00pm – We arrive home. Pay the babysitter.

11:00pm – Eventually go to sleep!

(Haha. Check out what my routine was like 2 years ago : Moment By Moment, 16 June 2005.)


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Winter Layers

4 June 2007

Witchery

The days and nights have been so so very cold. I’ve been layering up like crazy. Jackets, wool jumpers, knits, singlets, scarves. I feel like an eskimo.

I’m into grey stripes at the moment. These pretties are from Witchery.


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The Crucible

2 June 2007

I was invited to see the much raved about, sold out performance of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, with some friends on the weekend.

I didn’t know anything about the story – except it had something to do with witches. But it was so much more than that. Intense drama. Gripping story. Outstanding characters. Fantastic performance.

It was truly awesome and it made me fall in love with theatre again – or rather, it ignited the insatiable search for a well told story.

We ate a tasty Vietnamese dinner. Had some coffee Icey ice. Then finished off with a delicious walk through the pulsating city streets to stretch our legs. It was a most excellent night out.


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Skin Care

1 June 2007

My sister and I went to visit a friend (who sells skincare products) for a bit of skin-loving advice.

We arrived, washed off ALL our makeup and our friend analysed our skin – including an examination under a special UV light.

I have been a bit concerned about my skin, of late. I’m 29 this year and I believe I have taken good care of my skin. I’ve reduced the amount of sugar, caffeine, meat and fatty foods in my diet. I eat well. I drink lots of water. I walk everyday. I wear sun cream and sun glasses everyday. I wear a hat whenever I can. I take salmon oil tablets and a variety of other vitamins.

Yet, I see the faint fine lines appearing. I see the dullness. I feel the lack of moisture and perkiness. All signs of aging.

I’m not THAT afraid of growing old. It’s going to happen anyway, I may as well have a positive outlook on it. But I am interested to know how to take even better care of my skin.

I thought of switching to a more superior product. One that is possibly less laden with cheap, evil chemicals. But then, how do you know if the good products are not just as bad? Are you supposed to trust the cosmetic companies and their multi-million dollar advertising campaigns and their very well written websites full of carefully crafted marketing crap?

The analysis didn’t tell me anything new. I knew I have combination oily/dry skin. I knew I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I knew I have pigmentation, odd patches of skin tone and I knew that I needed to use a mask more often.

If anything, I was motived to get more sleep, drink more water and wear lots more sun cream.

Despite how I felt, I left with some products to try out, and absolutely zero expectation. We’ll see how it goes.