Friday, July 24, 2009

Link-fest No. 11 is publishing Cory Doctorow's next novel in serial form.

A Friday Fluff piece by Fillyjonk on Shapely Prose had everyone answering the question "What does your soul look like?" I think mine is an old, well loved, leather bound book with gilt-edged pages and the sort of story that you re-read often - comfort food for the brain.

Pavlov's Cat is asking for people to share their first memories of reading over at Still Life With Cat.

I cannot for the life of me come up with any clear memory of reading prior to The Hobbit when I was in 2nd grade. Obviously I was reading before then, quite voraciously by all accounts, and I know intellectually that I'd read certain books (many, many books in fact) before I read the Hobbit, I just don't remember the experience. Or where I do remember reading books I know I had read earlier, it's subsequent re-reads that recall.

I certainly don't remember learning to read even though I wasn't a particularly early reader. Mum tells me she had decided not to actively teach me before I went to school but I gather I picked it up pretty darn quickly once I started school. There are books I have loved reading to my kids because they were favourites from my childhood but which my mother had never read, apparently because once I could read I preferred to read to myself.

I have very few clear memories of early childhood in general though so it doesn't really surprise me that this is the case.

Via Tigtog at Hoyden About Town, check out this fabulous wedding vid.

And last but not least, Ariane has been on a blogging roll lately, check out her posts on a review of Sydney Park, the presence of fathers at births and Charlie's Hat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My ultimate meal plan?

I've written many meal plans over the years and when I have one we invariably eat better and buy much less takeaway than in the weeks without plans. There's something about the never-ending decision making of "what are we having for dinner?" that really gets to me, I'd like someone else to choose! So I try and do all the deciding in one go and get all the shopping done and then not have to think about it for a while. Problem is I kept getting caught up in trying to do New and Different and Interesting all the time and the actual constructing of the meal plans became too much like hard work. Not to mention finding myself with a fridge and pantry full of stuff for New and Interesting when all I could face cooking and feeding to the kids was safe and easy.

While we were away on holidays I was having one of those "my life feels out of control and I need to fix it" conversations with Adam and I seized on the whole meal plan thing as being one little part of the whole that I could do something about (a large part of the rest of the out of control stuff was magicked away the next day during a phone conversation about work with Jen - much relief ensued!) and I sat down with my laptop in front of the fire and came up with a 2 week perpetual meal plan.

And here it is on the fridge, 2 week's worth of breakfasts, dinners and desserts, or rather a broad hint not to ask what's for dessert because the answer will always be the same - I was getting heartily fed up with the constant demands for ice-cream. Which they weren't getting, but that didn't stop them asking. (Click on the pic for the larger, readable version.)

The ultimate meal plan?

The green bits are magnets for keeping track of where we're up to...and I've just now realised that all day I've been expecting tacos tonight and we're actually supposed to be having tortellini! We shall have tortellini tomorrow :-) Which makes more sense as Caitlin is sleeping over at a friend's place tonight and she infinitely prefers pasta to mexican. I don't anticipate us sticking to this rigidly - far from it! I expect to swap meals around, replace them with something New and Interesting when I'm feeling inspired and indulge in takeaway or meals out on occasion. But for those nights when it's 6pm and I'm thinking about dinner for the first time that day? All I'll have to do is look at the fridge and do what it tells me! (Of course it will help if I've remembered to take meat out of the freezer the night before, but I reckon I can manage that much.)

With any luck I won't have to write another one for quite some time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Interview at The Mum Files

The lovely Lisa asked me if I'd be willing to be interviewed for a guest spot on The Mum Files, I thought long and hard for...oh 2.3 seconds?...and said "yes, of course!"

Anyway, it went up last night, so if my sudden flood of content here in the last few days hasn't been enough for you perhaps you'd like to click over to my interview at The Mum Files and say hello.

Bloody hell, even the lollies are gendered

I went to the supermarket this afternoon and decided I'd pick up some special treats for the kids because it's school holidays (ok and maybe for me too). I ventured into the confectionery aisle, something I rarely do after having been trained to avoid it like the plague by years of shopping with nagging children, and was greeted by the sight of these monstrosities.


Can someone please tell me what the fuck is wrong with a straight forward party mix? (Which, incidentally, is still available.) Why the hell did someone think lollies needed gendered marketing anyway? They're lollies, they come with built-in kid appeal! If you must have an Adventure Mix and an Enchanted Mix, well, OK, I guess that can be fun BUT WHY THE FUCK DO THEY HAVE TO BE LABELED BOYS VS GIRLS?!!!!! I suppose I ought to be grateful that the need to retain the distinctive Allen's brand red packaging precluded putting them in blue and pink bags as well.

Damn it, I like Allen's Snakes and now I feel like I don't want to buy them ever again.

Weaving update

Here's Tom's first ever piece of back-strap weaving, he finished it up at Winterfest on the weekend where he was a big hit with the public.

Tom's first weaving project

He's all fired up to start his next project and has been asking me to help with getting it set up so that's what I'll be doing after lunch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cruickshanks Cottage Farmstay

After driving to Brisbane in one day and spending 2 days wearing ourselves and the kids out at the Abbey festival we weren't too keen to drive straight back to Sydney. So it's a good thing we'd arranged to stop off for a 3 night farm stay holiday near Armidale on the way home.

We arrived at the Cottage at Cruickshanks at dusk on Monday (Adam and were very glad to find our hosts Anne and Mike had the wood burning combustion heater going and the cottage nice and warm for us. Anne left us to get settled in with the promise to return shortly with our dinner. The kids squabbled over who was to have the top bunk, Adam stoked up the fire and I laid down the law on sleeping arrangements.

A delicious roast chicken - Caitlin asked for seconds! - dinner duly arrived; crispy baked potatoes and sweet potato, buttered peas, gravy and, for dessert, individual dishes of apple and sultana crumble and a jug of custard to go with them. It was wonderful to have such a scrumptious veggie-ful meal provided at the end of a long drive and I think this may have been the point at which I decided we'd definitely be coming back in the future!

The middle of winter in New England may not have been the best choice of time and place for a farmstay holiday. Despite my packing instructions certain people had managed to come away on holidays without adequate clothing (and 3 of them forgot to pack their pjs, but we won't talk about that will we boys?) but luckily we had all our viking gear with us so it was furry hats all round and lots of layers to keep the cold out. Nights were cold outside but we were kept cosy with the fire burning all night and electric blankets on all the beds. Anne brought us yummy cooked breakfasts at 8am thus ensuring we got our butts out of bed nice and early each day.

On Tuesday morning we headed off for a walk through the paddocks in search of the various farm inhabitants, first up were the horses.

One tall...

Caitlin and horse

...and a whole bunch small.

Saying hello

Miniature horse stallion - more on him later!

Miniature horses

After the horses had checked all our pockets for the treats we didn't have we continued up over the hill to see some cattle and alpacas.

Unlike the horses, the rest of the inhabitants regarded us with suspicion,

A Black Angus watches us as we pass

Black Angus

and stalk as they would, the kids could not get them to say hello.

Scottish Highland calf hides behind a tree as the kids sneak up

That's as close as you come!

Calling and running for mum.

Furry calf

Scottish Highland cow - that'll be mum we presume

Scottish Highland cow



During our stay the kids learned such exciting things as: on farms you must close any gate you open,

Caitlin on gate duty

Doing gate duty

sheepdogs may be working dogs but they still like a cuddle,

Caitlin with Wal

Wal the sheepdog

and feeding horses is hazardous to your fingers.

And your clothing - he just kept nibbling at whatever he could reach!

nom nom nom

Tom tried to feed a piece of apple to this fellow and ended up with his fingers getting chomped. He may be good at following weaving instructions but when mum is explaining feeding horses safely...not so much.

We had planned to visit Dangars Falls on Tuesday and have a picnic lunch there, but after we'd done the short walk to the falls and were thoroughly frozen we decided to head into Armidale and ended up at a Chinese restaurant for lunch.

Dangars Falls

Dangars Falls

Cold Mim

Damn it's cold

Chinese is Caitlin's favourite cuisine

Caitlin anticipating Chinese food

On Wednesday we were lucky enough to be invited to see some shearing, so off we went for another hike through the paddocks to the shearing shed on the top of the hill. We were greeted by the dogs and then watched Anne and Mike working the sheep and getting them into the right pens outside the shed. Then it was inside to see the shearing.

The shed was built on top of the hill to give a better view of approaching weather - can't shear wet sheep!
Shearing shed

Shearing is so undignified. Actually the kids were a bit distressed by the process, especially when they saw the occasional cut dripping blood. It's good that they're learning the realities of farming and how we treat the animals we use for food and clothing.

Craig the shearer

A fleece on the classing table.

classing table

Anne took pity on our frozen family and gave us a lift back to the cottage in the ute - I took the inside seat.

Ride in the back of the ute

And here's the cottage.

The cottage at Cruickshanks

On Thursday morning we packed ourselves back into the car, collected a Border Leicester ram fleece that had been shorn that morning for Adam to practice his spinning with and fed all our food scraps to the chooks.

We also booked ourselves in for another visit at Easter next year, I'm looking forward to it already.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tom the weaver

Last year at the Abbey festival Tom had a go at back-strap weaving and thought it was the best thing ever.

At Abbey last year.

Tom the weaver

Being skeptical types Adam and I refused to fork out $65 for a weaving kit for a 6 year old.

A year later, when we said we were heading up to Brisbane for this year's Abbey Medieval Festival, Tom's immediate response was "Good! I can get my back-strap weaving kit!"

We figured that if he was still wanting to do it after waiting a whole year he must be serious. So one of our first stops at the festival this year was the back-strap weaving tent where Tom bought a kit and arranged for a 10:30am beginner's lesson the next morning.

Tom's new kit set up and ready to go.

Back-strap weaving

Ha! He's wearing the same t-shirt. No wonder the weaving lady remembered him from last year.

Just getting started.

Just getting started

Last but not least, some video of the action - He's a weaving natural!

Not a bad effort from a small boy with a lurgi who spent the rest of that day fast asleep lying on a sheepskin while his dad went around to every crafting display picking people's brains.

The piece Tom started at the festival is slowly growing, next time he's working on it I'll take a pic and share the progress.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Holiday snippets

We've just got back from a trip up to Brisbane for Abbey Medieval Festival and then back via Armidale where we stayed for a few days at Cruickshanks Cottage.

While we were away the following things happened:
  • Adam took up spinning.
  • Tom finally got his own back-strap weaving kit (he's been waiting a whole year).
  • I finished reading The Handmaid's Tale and was somewhat underwhelmed.
  • I re-read Native Tongue 3 just in case it wasn't as bad as I remembered. It was, if not worse.
  • We acquired a pleasing collection of stuff to add to our re-enactment gear.
  • Tom got bitten by a horse.
  • Tom engaged me in a discussion of the ethics of the fur-trade right in the middle of a fur-trader's market stall, I did not try to avoid or put off the conversation.
  • All 3 kids had the lurgi.
  • We watched sheep shearing, fed the chooks, annoyed some cows, were stared at by alpacas, spotted a furtive fox, and made good use of our viking hats to avoid frozen ears. Mid-winter in Armidale is cold.
Photos and elaborations will probably follow at some point.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

14th Down Under Feminists Carnival

The 14th Down Under Feminists Carnival is up, this month it's hosted by anjum at Stargazer.