Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Beach

Do you remember your childhood?

Days and days of imagination, playing all summer long.

The beach.  Ah yes, the beach.

We used to spend hours and hours at the beach.  We'd climb rocks, conquering the highest heights, peering down into swirling blue and green and white as the waves crashed below.  We'd crush limpets on the rocks, and feed their mangled bodies to rock pool inhabitants, see-through salt-water shrimps skitting and scatting along to sample our tasty offerings, cockabullies swimming swiftly in and out of weed. 

We'd see what we could spot within the floating arms of seaweed, heads down, snorkels up.  We spent time body surfing, learning how to surf the waves with nothing but self to keep afloat.  Pounded by the salt, scraped by the sand, delighting in the ebb and flow of wave after wave. 

I am often amazed at my son's love of the beach, but I shouldn't be.  He is, after all, my son!

We'd bury each other in the sand, or spend hours making sand creations and tunnels, or better still fighting the incoming surf with our very own barricade of sand.  It was invigorating, it was exciting, it was war! 

We'd walk for miles and miles, a trailing procession of family, wandering along the beach.  Driftwood collected for the fire, shells for the collection, crabs poked and prodded, ambushes held in the sand dunes.

Sandy sandwiches for lunch.  It didn't seem to make any difference how hard you tried, you'd always get sand in your lunch.

Walks along the beach are the best walks in the whole world.  The sound of crashing waves.  The light smell of salt.  The breeze whipping your hair and tugging at your sleeves.  Cold feet scrunching damp sand between sandy toes.  A handful of shells to take home and treasure.  Seaweed festooned upon an impromptu sand castle, built before the tide comes surging in.

Ah, the beach.  How I love the beach.  I always have and I always will.  But how often I forget.  How easy it is to spend my days rushing here and there, hither and yon, and forget it's gentle call.  How easy to forget to stop and breathe a breath of damp salt air, to run and run, or sit and stare.

I'm trying to remember that it's just there.  A few minutes drive.  Beckoning, waiting, watching for me to return, to embrace a moment of solitude or companionship, a moment of soul-filling beach.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Visitors from Outer Space

I was weeding my garden, minding my own business.

When suddenly, I was confronted with extra-terrestrial life.

Well, that's what they look like to me.

What do you think?

I have never before seen anything quite like these little guys.  They aren't quite caterpillars, but kind of close.  The legs are too long.  But they're about the same size.  They're spotty in bands, and seemed to like my silverbeet plants.  Although I think we also saw them on my parents' zucchini this summer too.

I wonder what they are?

What an amazing world we live in! 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Love Feijoas!

Feijoa season is here at last!  I've been waiting.

Delicious eaten fresh, scooped from the skin, feijoas have a distinctive taste all their own.  My son will sit and scoop every last morsel from the skin, working his way around and around and around over and over again with his spoon, until there's not a single sliver of fruit left to savour!

Then there's feijoa and apple crumble.  Feijoas add an amazing tang to an already favourite dish.

But I have to say, the absolute bestest of the best use of feijoas has got to be smoothies.

WOW.  What more can I say.  They are delicious.  Divine.  Scrummy.  Amazing.

They blend into a smooth, tangy, delectably tasty smoothie that just disappears in seconds.

The three of us highly recommend it.  We have, thus far, eaten our way through about 4 shopping bags of feijoas kindly gifted to us by folks who have large fruitful trees. 

Okay, so maybe I did manage to stash a few bags or so in the freezer for smoothies.  Can't have them going rotten before we can eat them all now, can we?! 

The production line!

Now if only I could find more room in the freezer...

The smoothie drawer of our freezer is officially full!



Does this feel like you?

A little bit on the crazy side?



Grocery shopping on a budget, huh!?  It's not for the faint of heart.
I’ve done some interesting things in the name of stretching our grocery budget.

Like blending chickpeas into the meatballs (tasted quite good, but were a bit mushy).

Or eating weeds in our smoothies (they actually have higher nutritional value as well as being free!).

Or cutting all the codling-moth infested bits out of apples to make what’s left into apple crumble.

Or asking if anyone has unwanted feijoas.  Yahoo, a friend replied and we've had 4 supermarket bags of feijoas!!!  Bliss on a budget, what more can I say?!

Or turning all the lurking leftovers in the fridge into Bottom Barrel soup.  Yum.  I love soup!

Sometimes it’s not necessarily a matter of going without, more that you decide on areas you can compromise on. 

We only buy Watties peaches in natural juice.  It's one of our (few) no compromise items.  Sounds snobby, right?  But we only buy them on special at $1 a tin.  We just buy 24 tins at a time, about once or twice a year.  Only when they are $1 though.

One week I bought chocolate.  It’s an almost necessary study-food! Grin.  But, I also bought bananas and cucumbers at our local fruit and vege store (conveniently located very close to New World!).  Their bananas were $2/kg, as opposed to New Worlds at $2.50/kg.  Not a big deal?  But in a family that eats about 20 bananas a week (around 4kgs!) simply by popping next door rather than shopping only at the supermarket I am probably saving around $2.  I saved $3-5 by buying cheaper cucumbers (2 for $3 instead of $3 or $4 each elsewhere).  Sometimes the quality at discount places can be shocking, so you do have to be careful and only choose what will actually be worth eating!  And sometimes I don’t bother looking at all.  If time’s at a premium and I don’t have many items to buy, sometimes 20c or $1 is worth less to me than the ten minutes to look around.  But it does all add up.  It means our grocery budget can stay low.  Or at least that we have more money to spend on the things we want (aka chocolate!) or need (spelt flour!).
What novel ways have you come up with to spread your grocery $$ further?  What things do you have a 'no compromise' rule on and what are you not fussed about?

It’s just sad that the fruit shop has put its banana price up.




Monday, April 21, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

I made my first ever hot cross buns this Easter, using a recipe by Sophie Grey (The Destitute Gourmet).

The house was filled with the scent of spices.

The breadmaker was filled with sticky, oozy bread dough.  Note to self:  next time, DO NOT leave the house while the dough is rising.  It overflowed the breadpan and oozed down the insides.  Oh well, they were worth the cleaning required!

Friends joined us for our Good Friday simple communion time.

I didn't bother with the proper crosses.  Instead, those who wanted to used an icing pen to draw a cross on top.

I so love hot cross buns.  I love the spicy, fruity, sweet taste.  But I also love the symbolism and recognition of what Easter is about.  Next year I might get Munchkin to make them with me.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

As Promised

As mentioned, I've been working on a new project.

It's a crocheted blanket!

I'm about halfway through.

It's been an eye-opening experience.  I have to admit, much to my embarrassment, that I've had this wool for over 8 years.  I bought it specifically to make a mohair crocheted blanket just like one my mother-in-law has (which, had I not strong moral values, I would have stolen long ago!  It is so deliciously warm, cosy, snuggly, soft, light, airy, and generally delectably perfect-blanket material!).  But of course I bought the wool and then didn't know where to start on the blanket.  My crochet skills to this point have consisted of just enough to join my knitted squares together, and that was very slow going for many years.  So the wool has stayed stashed away, out of sight and mostly out of mind.  But in the last couple of years it's been bugging me.  I really should use it!  So I finally got it out and my wonderful mother-in-law sat down with me and showed me how to make it. 

Guess what?  It is REALLY EASY.  Super, super, simple.  One stitch pattern the ENTIRE blanket, with just slight variations.  I feel a bit silly.  But at least I'm doing it now.  And now I've discovered how, I'm motivated to do more.  I have grand schemes to make a blanket for my boy (who's a hot sleeper and doesn't really have a summer blanket) and another for me.  I bought this wool years ago and simply chose the best available colour at the time, returning to the store once a week to buy my 10 balls of wool.  But I don't actually like it.  Silly, silly, silly.  It is super soft and snuggly, but I just can't find it in me to love the colour.  So this one will probably be gifted to Operation Cover Up and I hope to buy more wool one day to make myself one.  I'll probably make it slightly lighter too, as this has ended up a bit thicker than I'd intended. 

The reason I love these blankets?  Well, they are super soft.  But it's the holeyness that I really love.  That you can curl your fingers through the holes and kind of knead it like a cat.  I love the beauty in the basic woven pattern and how amazingly warm they are for something so light and comfortable.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Seeking Peace

As this Easter 2014 unfolds, I find myself wanting, desperately needing to get from this:

To this:

Seems to be my continual quest, and one I'm not very good at.

It's silly really.  I mean, I believe absolutely in the One who can hold my anxieties.  The One who knows my every thought.  The One who offers peace.  Perfect love given to me.  Unconditionally.  Graciously.  Continually.  Yet, here I am.  Tired.  Frazzled.  Stressed.  Worn down by the day to day cares of running a home, looking after a pre-schooler, and doing a degree.  It's not like my life is bad.  Things can be tough, but they aren't 'beyond do-able' tough.  We have good things in our lives, great family, beautiful surroundings, nutritious and plentiful food.  But I'm tired.  And I'm sitting here on Easter Saturday feeling just a little bit jaded.  It's Easter.  A long weekend.  The only one we can be guaranteed of getting in our home.  Boyo actually has the weekend off work, but we're just here, bumming around home.  I wanted to go to the Jazz festival.  I wanted to go for a nice long bush walk.  I wanted to make Easter Tomb cookies with my boy and tell the Easter story.  But instead I'm having an afternoon nap each day.  Munchkin doesn't mind, he doesn't know it was supposed to be any different.  But I know.  And I do care.  I want to focus on Christ, on the deep personal significance that Easter holds for me.  But somehow I've ended up tangled up in tired.

That's it.  Enough is enough.  Tired is going to focus on Jesus. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014


This post was supposed to be up last night.  But somehow it has disappeared!  Good thing I saved a copy...

I have made it to the end of Term 1!!!!  Wahoo!! 
Cough.  Cough. Cough.
Yep, only just.  I came down with a sore throat on the last day of the last assignment.  It has since developed into a cough, which I am terming 'end-of-term-ITIS' (spelt with capitals only because the silly auto correct insisted it should be it is - why it won't accept my correction that I WANT it spelt ITIS I do not know!).  It's just the way it goes, being a student.  Well, that's the way my life as a student goes anyway.  I work hard.  Really hard.  And invariably I find that the end of term, as soon as the adrenaline has worn off, I get sick.  This is pretty good though, as far as sick goes. I do feel really, really tired.  Bone weary.  So glad my last class is tomorrow.  But, I don't have the usual 'so thick I almost can't breathe' congestion with the cold.  It's been a hard and a great term all in one.  The papers have been interesting, and I'd just like to say that I am LOVING being back in a smaller institution where I am valued so much as a person.  Where I get one-on-one meetings with my head of department just to see how things are going.  Where people notice if I'm not in class.  Heck, they are even having to schedule classes to fit my individualised learning progression so my one third year paper doesn't clash with any of my second year papers next semester!  It is just so nice after studying by distance, where I didn't meet a single lecturer in 3 years, have a single phone call that wasn't initiated by me, and felt so isolated, to now be doing the last part of my journey with people who are purposeful in trying to know what makes me tick, as well as what will make me a great educator.  It's so reassuring going into a five week placement (in just three weeks time, arrghhhhh!) knowing that if I need to take a day off sick, I don't have to make it up.  Sickness and Practicum are kind of a joint package, a combined deal.  Buy one, get one free.  Go on Prac, get a cold or something.  It just happens, especially in Early Childhood.  As a student, not working in the industry all the time, I simply don't have the immunity that's needed to withstand snot on clothes, coughs in face, and the constant exposure to germs left, right, and centre that is small children.  Small, delightful, exciting, fun children, but germy all the same!
My to-do list is currently on hold.  It has been rewritten. 
The revised edition is:
Stop coughing
Stop coughing
Enjoy some time with the family before you're working more-than-full-time for five weeks
There's a few things that I really should do, but haven't yet.  Like birthday cards for my sisters-in-law.  Bit late.  Not my usual modus operandus, but I'm sure they will understand.  We do at least sing for them.  Munchkin too nowadays, and I must say it is terribly cute!  I really should plant the three punnets of seedlings that are sitting by the back door.  But it's been raining. And I'm tired.  Might get to that tomorrow. 
Then there's a few things I actually need to do.  Like visiting my Practicum placement to meet the teachers and children, and find my basic way around.  And buy us some more fruit and vegetables before Easter.
Tonight we had dinner at the beach.  I had a class till 4:40pm.  So afterwards I scooted home, and we headed out with leftover Quinoa Cheese Cups, some capsicum and tomato, and a scoop of chips from our local shop.  The beach was glorious.  As it always is.  I just love the sound of the waves.  Munchkin was ecstatic.  He'd wanted to go at lunch time.  He ran, and dug, and was a very happy small boy.  But also a very dry small boy this time, thankfully.  I banned the water.  It wasn't a good night to be getting wet.  He even had to borrow my wool top, because it was a bit colder than I'd thought it would be and the poor boy was cold in his polarfleece.  At least I'd dressed myself warmly.  Off came my longsleeved top to go under his polarfleece, while I made do with my polarfleece and my big 'car' jacket.  So glad Boyo taught me early in our relationship that it makes great sense to always have a spare jacket in your car boot!  Then we walked, talked, and enjoyed the beach.  Boy now asleep.  Husband now pottering.  Amy thinking about bed.  Grin.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Something New

I've talked before about my knitting addiction.

Well, it's still with me.  The tides of knitting do ebb and flow, but my wool stash remains.  I've been quietly knitting squares over summer during the down time between study.  But I've now got a new project I'm working on.

A blanket.

"New?" You ask.  "How is that new?"  True, true, I suppose I have knitted a blanket a year for the past eight years or so.  But this one is different.  Really.  Believe me!

I'll show you soon...