Monday, December 20, 2010

Alphabet Turtle

Stickers are not a precious commodity in this house. I know some households who only allow the kids to have stickers for special deeds or occasions, but not us. I've always seen them as a fun way to develop fine motor skills, and creativity, and keep Gwen occupied by something that is completely hers, with no mummy interference unless specifically asked.

Shiny gold dot stickers often make their way onto unsuspecting feet, faces and clothing. Pink stars, or their lesser cousins the gold stars, might be played with for almost 40 minutes straight, being expertly arranged on some card then scribbled on with deliberation. Silver and black foam stickers sourced at reverse garbage get similar treatment and have recently found their way onto old packing tape cylinders and become armbands.

Yesterday we broke out the alphabet stickers and Gwen rummaged amoungst her things until she found a shiny rock wheich she dubed her "ABC Turtle." For the next hour he was expertly covered with all manner of ABC's, as was the mirror and her toes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Market days are a delight

It's all rainy, the mud squelches under my bare feet as we move toward the jumping castle, mango, plum and watermelon juices staining Gwens hands and top. Eagerly she climbs from the stroller and rushes into the bouncing throng of kids. We've just filled up the pram with fresh, cheep market fruit and vege and indulged in a  cheesy pancake and a curry puff. I adore market days, and so does Gwen.

We got home to unpack try out some fresh macadamia nuts which we opened with the macca cracker. Nuts where sorted, bounced, eaten and generally enjoyed. It's still raining outside and for the first time in a week it's nice and cool, but the washing isn't really drying. We played among the cool damp sheets, driving toy cars down a hastily drawn road, painting trees next to it with chalk paint (cornflour, water, food coloring), drawing bicycles (me) and smoke coming from them (Gwen).

We admired the resilience of our garden Hay-man withstanding such cold rain and then back up stairs to read a few books, play in the cave (a big box with blanket over it) and snuggle into sleep.

Rainy days and market days always seem so much busier.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to Colour

"What colour should we make this playdough?"
"Here you go!" says Gwen presenting me with a suitably coloured texta with which to colour it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rain and Whiskers

Gwen has been obsessed with whiskers ever since Halloween this year with our neighbor stopped by on her way to a fancy dress party dressed as Puss in Boots. I helped her apply her whiskers and almost everyday since then Gwen has insisted on them. If they are not forthcoming she comes up with her own whiskers solution.This might mean some chalk, texta or paint.

It's been raining a lot lately too, which means we're a bit more experimental with the paint.She's been getting into body painting a lot and particularly favors black paint with accents of yellow and pink pastels.

She has also discovered my goggles and loves to recite the "Rain is Falling down" song as she jumps in puddles.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Delightful Purple King Beans

Purple king beans are easy to grown, you just put them in the ground, water them occasionally and up they pop, producing amazingly prolific purple beans. I love the flowers, the taste and the colour!

A Visitor to our Garden

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mixing Colours

A neighbor was throwing away this amazing piece of packaging styrofoam. They seemed a bit mystified as to what we might want to do wth it but where happy to part with it before the garbage truck arrived. We got it home and I filled it with food coloring and water then provided Gwen with a big bowl of water and a cup then left her two it, watching from a distance.

A lot of these sorts of activities are hit and miss, I'm still not sure what she'll enjoy and what can be dropped in a moment in favor of something wildly more facinating. This one was a hit, she spent a good hour mixing colours, adding water and swirling things around. And she kept coming back to it all day. By the next day the play was more about breaking it up, standing in it and watching little specs of styrofoam float around, by the third day she was over it, but it was fabulous while it lasted.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We had a wonderful visit to the West End markets this morning and met up with some friends. It was wonderful to see them after such a long time. We sat under a beautifully huge fig listening to amazing music, feasting on market food. Gwen danced, was social with several other children and dogs, even being allowed to take a small one for a "walk" 2 meters away then back, which she adored.

She happily devoured two whole frankfurter sausages (actual proper long deli ones being sold at a German sausage stall), two large juicy nectarines, a large cup of sugar cane juice half a frakferter bun, a bar of something nutty from a vegan stall and still had room for crackers.

She's hollow legged today, which I guess means we're in for another growth spurt soon. She really does grow like weed in the sun, we're into size 3 pants already and her size 2 tops are almost too short for her now, I only moved up to size 2 a few weeks ago.

Ah well, back to the sewing...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Dreaded Greens

A post on Post-Industrial Parenthood's blog inspired me to reply with this.

My little one is constantly offered greens, without the dreaded "one more spoonful" tactic.Veges are a constant part of our diet and I can't cook without them. Sometimes they are hidden ingredients such as in "green" beef & mushroom soup, (the trick is to add a can of 4 bean mix, a little cream, lots of green things and some beef, then blend) or sweet potato chips with chickpea (and parsley and garlic) dip instead of plain potato chips.

Spanish Omelet, yum!

Sometimes it's more overt such as a huge plate of nibbly things, cut up uncooked veg, fruit and cold meats, that are eaten on the front lawn. The original post also made me wonder how many people don't have veg regularly in their diet simply because they are swamped with unpleasant memories of overcooked congealing boiled vegetables on their plate that they where forced to eat as a kid? I feel so very lucky that my main memories of veg come from the delicious culinary delights of the Darwin food market culture.

Image Courtesy of the

I admit that her being only two means there is  still a lot of aversion therapy yet to be required, but thats in the future. For now, on the occasion that she simply won't try something we choose an animal that she likes and say that the animal loves that sort of food. She is adoring being a pussy cat eating her lettuce or a doggy eating a cucumber. Peer pressure from people other than us, even if she's only taking our word for it, seems to work wonders.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Not So Boring Walls

The problem with renting is that you can't have interesting walls. Unless you look at it a little differently. Sure you can't nail things into the wall, or paint it without having to factor in repainting them once you move out, but with a few adhesive sticker hooks and some blu-tak you can make the white space so much more interesting.

I've been collecting feathers, seedpods, bark, paper wasp nests, and some of my texture photos to hang from the string lines for awhile now. I change them around when the mood suits. The bird images below are from an old calendar I snaffled at the Lifeline Bookfest. Similar pictures of Australian wildlife fill Gwen's walls and our bedroom as well.


 There is also a string line for Gwen's artwork and pretty pictures we find along the way...


...but not all artwork is quite so portable.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Average Morning

What do you do on an average morning? Gwen gets up at about 5am. Hubby and I often take it in shifts so we are allowed a little more sleep, but some times we can't due to an early shift at work or early start at uni.

This morning, after dropping daddy off to work at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am we
  • Had the second part of our breakfast.
  • Drew spiders and webs.
  • Played with coloured water, tipping and mixing and splashing it all over the lawn.
  • Painted some sheets with heavily diluted acrylic paint, a paint brush, gum nuts and hands.
  • Had a long bubbly bath in which all humanoid toys plus horse, cat and rabbit all had their hair washed. Gwen aquessed to the indignity of a hair soaking.
  • Reading a book in bed.
  • Watching Dirt Girl World while consuming untold quantities of fresh pineapple, cheese and pasta.
  • Put on some washing together.
  • Chose some seedlings (corn, cucumber and butter beans) and directed where to put them.
  • Drew more things while mummy dug.
  • Watching a little bit of Playschool while mummy was on the phone.
  • Became a pussy cat with the help of drawn on whiskers and a beautiful long tail.
  • Had a visitor picking something up from ebay and proudly displaying chickens.
  • Milk & Bed.
Wow, just looking at that list it's no wonder I feel worn out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cake & Ice

It was someones birthday at daycare today and afternoon tea included cake. On the way home Gwen sang her own version of the song:

Happy birth cake you you,
Happy birth cake you you!
Happy cake happy cake!
Happy birth cake you you!

It's possibly the best version ever!

Another Gwen reworking of lyrics is Ice Ice Baby. We went to get a big bag of ice from the local servo a couple of weeks ago and I started to sing "ice ice baby." It's the only song I know with the word ice in it. Gwen immediately took up the song with:

Ice ice Baby
Ice ice Mummy
Ice ice Daddy
Ice ice Nandi
Ice ice Buppa
Ice ice Gwen!

A very appropriate song for what promises to be a long hot and humid summer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Na nagh?

This is the sound that Gwen makes when she is sort of asking permission to do something she knows she shouldn't. Sometimes she will do it anyway, but mostly if she is acknowledged properly, and she knows my full attention is on her, it is simply enough to shake my head no and then nod with a smile when she chooses to do something else.

It's not always so easy and sometimes we have to talk about not doing things because of blah and blah. I Never say a simple "No," I've always felt she deserves an explanation, even if it is as simple as "No, you can't have those goggles, they belong to that little girl and she might get sad." Strangely for the most part this works.

There are a very few occasions where it doesn't and that's my prompt to check the time. We might be overdue for our morning /afternoon tea or nearing nap time. Otherwise it's time for mummy to get creative with a distraction and make doing something else amazingly much more fun than the thing she was about to do.

I've never labeled her naughty, but she knows what the word means. A few weeks ago we almost ran over several "naughty chickens who where crossing the road without holding anyone's hand." So if she is being exceptional cheeky I sometimes ask her if she is trying to be a naughty chicken.

This gets either a giggle and she does something else or a very serious expression and a talk about how you have to "hold hands, naughty chicken cross road." If our chickens have recently broken into the veg patch then she labeled them naughty as well, but most often she adds to our conversation about road crossing that her chickens are good chickens.

I adore that at not quite 2 years old she seems to recognize such big concepts, especially that she can't see herself fitting that label, except very occasionally in play.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Precious

The little one has been fascinated by watches, so yesterday I bought her a beautiful wooden wrist watch featuring lots of brightly coloured beads and movable hands. I gave it to her as we waited for an overdue bus and didn't realize just how much of an impact it would make on her. It has become her Precious.

She is in love with it so much that just spent 10 mins before bed being conflicted over where to put it for safe keeping and wanting it while she was in bed, then having to find another safe spot for it, the needing to hold it again. Ah the things with do with our precious!

The best place to hide

is in plain sight.

A Hano Inspired Toy

Earlier this year I stumbled across this beautiful gorilla toy by David Weeks. I had just started a woodworking course and our first project was to create a small wooden toy.

I adored Hano and wanted to create my own, friendlier version. I've always loved orangutans so I decided to try my hand at designing one. Here's the final result:

Little did I know at the start how difficult it would be as part of the brief was to only use hand tools. I certainly learned a lot from the project, particularly how to sculpt on the small scale and some very interesting ways of creating an elastic joint that can be positioned any which way.

It was a wonderful first project and I'm looking forward to getting back into the workshop next year. In the mean time I'm slowly building up my tool collection.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Stamps

I love experimenting with texture and rich patterns. These lino cut stamps are easy and cheap, if time consuming, and can be used with all sorts of paints and inks. These two have found their way onto clothes, letters, recipe swaps and bags.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In the backyard

We love to be outside and over the last 2 years we've been doing our best to make out backyard somewhere special for Gwen and friends to play. Freecycle has played a big part in that, its where we sourced her cubby house & swings.

A neighbor was recently getting rid of a climbing frame so we snaffled that too. Add to that a sand pit, a blackboard built by buppa, a shaded concrete area and an ever changing veg garden to forage in and it's becoming a very special place.

Paint Chip Stickers

Everytime we go to the hardware store we grab a few paint chip samples, and I've been wondering what to do with them as they float through the house. So last night I chopped them all up into smaller squares and laid out some sticky tape, sticky side up. My hope was that the Little One would be immersed in it for a little while and enjoy sticking them down in different ways.

Of course I had temporarily forgotten her capacity to think about these sorts of things creatively. After a few moments of placing and sticking she discovered that her dress and hair also stuck and made a very satisfying gently pulling feeling when she removed she spent almost 20 mins laying down on the tape, face first, then peeling herself off it, then laying down again.

It looked like lots of fun! Soon after we had a little friend visit for awhile and they both delighted in the game. I've very temped to cover a wall in sticky side up tape just to see what she would do with it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mad Hatters Halloween Tea Party

I made the Mad Hatters hat with stiff brown kraft paper and masking tape. It was spray painted black then covered in op shop lace. The jacket was an op shop find to. I covered it in masking tape and spray painted it to create the pin stripes then proceeded to embellish with wild abandon. "Alice's" dress was somthing quickly whipped up from an old skirt. She adored it

My Red Queens outfit was sewn up on the day, vaguely copying an existing dress pattern for the top with extra op shop lace from an old skirt on the solders. A big black felt heart was added to the front. I was graciously loaned the crown on the proviso that a suitable blue scarf could be found for Alice.

Tarts and (iced) Tea were of course had by all.

"Chickens, look at my Umbrella!"

and they did indeed look impressed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hidden vege sauce with pasta

Anyone which a child under 12 knows how hard it can be to get veges into them. This proved to be a hit today and is also very very yummy for adults too.

1/2 can 4 bean mix
1/4 Dolmino garlic and tomato pasta sauce
1/2 medium carrot, grated
1/2 medium beetroot, grated
handful of chopped beetroot or spinach leaves
a little water
1 tbs oil/butter
lots of spiral pasta

1. Combine the butter, carrot and beetroot on high heat in a small pan till they soften.
2. Add the beetroot leaves and beans, cook until the leaves wilt a little.
3. Remove from heat and add the tomato sauce.
4. Place in a blender, ad a little water if necessary to achieve a smooth thick paste.
5. Add to hot drained pasta and allow to cool a little.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Goblins Blood (Halloweens coming up!)

1 fresh beetroot, diced
+ equal weight sugar
3tbs water
1/2 a lemon
Put it all in a pot and bring it to boil. Strain and use as is for a runny brew or for something thick and slimy/syrupy simmer gently until it's really thick.
Decant into a suitably eldritch looking vessel and drink.

amazingly yum

Mulberry Jam Test Jar

279g mulberries, stems removed ( this is what we had left over from our expedition this morning)
279g sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 small diced apple

Throw it all in a pot and let it sit for an hour.
put it on the stove, bring it to boil and simmer for 10 mins on low
pour into a sterilised jar

let it cool



Moroccan Stew

1 small onion, finley diced
2 clovs garlic finely diced
Macadamia oil
2 tsp harissa paste
¼ tsp powdered ginger
¼ cup thinly cut veal
2 tsp tomato paste
2 tsp pomegranate syrup
¼ cup mango & apricot puree (it was one of those golden valley kids fruit tubs)
1tbs amaranth seeds
1tbs walnuts meal (crush in mortar and pestle)
1 large mushroom, diced
1 large zucchini diced
1 tbs almond meal

1.Combine oil, oinions, garlic and spices
2.Add meat abd brown.
3.Turn down the heat to a simmer
4.Add tomato paste, pomegranate juice, fruit puree, amaranth seeds, walnut, zucchini & mushroom
5.Add a little water or stock if the brew is looking thick. Let it simmer on low for about 20 mins with the lid on.
6.Add almond meal to thicken.
7.Simmer for 5 more mins with the lid off, stirring occasionally.
8.Serve with pumpkin damper (1/2 flour, ½ pumpkin, 1 tbs baking powder) and peas