Friday, May 30, 2014

Attitude? Gratitude! And an announcement

It occurs to me that some of my last posts could maybe be construed as a touch whiny and ungrateful. So I thought I'd write about what is making my toes curl (in a good way) lately:

I'm grateful for family. After a rocky beginning, I can now announce that we are expecting baby Fork 2, due November. It was not an easy first trimester, I was severely morning sick, extremely exhausted and generally feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Much worse than the first time as this time around I have an active and demanding toddler to contend with too. Hence, as I'm sure this baby is trying to kill me, I've dubbed it Attila the Bun (or, just bun for short, but we say it in Cantonese when we're feeling affectionate). I was holding off on saying anything until I had a decent bump, but here I am, 4 months in and... well... see for yourself.

Bump?
I'm grateful for sales and useful things. While Mr Fork and Ellie were sick last month, I took it upon myself to take her out of the house so that he could get some rest. 

A moment here to recognise now, the effort that cost this exhausted, sleep deprived, nauseous, pregnant, viral infected woman please. Thank you. 

Anyway, one of our trips was to Harbourtown so that a) she could get in some sleep in the car there and back and b) I could fool myself that I was exercising while getting some retail therapy and natural air and light. Anyway, Peter Alexander had 50% off all the marked prices in store. Hello cute winter top and summer top, perfect for feeding in, all for less than $20 together!


I'm grateful for unconditional love and furry snuggles. While we were away over Easter, we had a friend pop in and feed the hounds. She reported that they weren't eating much but seemed in good spirits... then when we got home, they shunned us and refused to look at us directly for some time. Which, frankly, wasn't entirely a bad thing as there were a little ripe smelling. After giving them a bath however, I was ready for cuddles... and they weren't. I'm happy to report they are now back to their snuggly selves and constantly making eye contact again. Toby (who is a reliable bun barometer if ever there was one) has resumed being my constant protector and rarely leaves my side if he has any say in the matter (Toby, like Ellie, is shut out of the toilet, but they both stand guard at the door outside). 

I'm grateful for gifts and for sugary goodness. The platter I wrote about in my April kitchen post was gifted to it's new owner... and she loved it! I am always happy when I give something to someone and I know they truly love it. It was also a lovely kitchen tea and I maybe ate a little bit too much white chocolate macadamia slice (but the bun wanted it!). 

I am grateful for the love of my friends and family. For all my friends and family who reached out when we were all sick and provided help. Whether that was watching Ellie for an hour so that I could nap, calling and checking on us, coming over to help with regular house running chores, or supplying edible goodies when I was too lazy/over it/tired to do it myself. To those who offered to do the above but I told to stay away while we were contagious, thank you too, from the bottom of my heart. To my friends who knew about Attila early and who stepped in when I was too nauseous to even get out of bed and risk standing up. Thank you!

I am grateful for having time to spend with my little girl. The #yesallwomen tag and the response to the Santa Barbara shootings has a big impact me when I read through what people around the world have to say. Yes, men don't often see the harassment that women experience. I think what affects me the most reading through some posts is that really, I had forgotten or just learnt to live with things the way they are, and accept them as normal. I consider myself a strong woman but I too have experienced misogyny both socially and in the workplace. I am grateful that I have the support to make a stand and stick to my values to work in paid part time employment. As I've spoken about before, life is a juggling act, and despite the raised eyebrows and the judgey looks I sometimes get for my choices to put my family first, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Early days but... those smiles!
What are you grateful for lately?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shan't, Won't, Cant

I can't...Wear fringes (I just don't have enough hair and it gets too greasy). Sleep when someone else is snoring. Sleep in (yeah, it sucks when someone has been snoring all night). Refrain from putting in my 2c.

I can...
Ride a motorcycle. Write my name in Chinese. Check my email and Facebook way more than they need to be checked. Make a mean apple crumble. Sew and mend basic items. Grow my own food.

I won't
Take crap from people anymore. Watch a favourite musical without singing. Apologise for previously mentioned singing. Be embarrassed for having a small crush on Edward Cullen. Let being tired stop me from having family time.

Just look at those eye bags!

I will...
Let myself be heard when I think it's important enough. Spend too much money on shoes. Cry when I'm frustrated, angry, emotional, sleep deprived and sometimes even when I don't get my own way. Squeak like a mouse on my own behalf but you better believe I'm a tiger when it comes to my family!

I shouldn't...
Feel guilty for eating so much pizza. Eat so much junk food. Look back on lost opportunities as much as I do. Shop online. Send emails without stopping to think first.

I should...
Make more time for me. Like myself naked. Write more. Better control my temper and tongue. Learn to make my own refried beans. Make more of an effort with family sometimes.

What are some of your can/will/shoulds?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The one in which I post some randomness

Life has been busy lately. It's actually been a whole lot of busy with a little bit of life thrown in. Sometimes things are just like that right? I do admit I long for a bit of excitement when things are slow, but then I wish things would just relax a bit when life moves too fast. Can't win!

I had to go to Sydney for work for a few nights, so Mr Fork and Ellie were left to fend for themselves. In a fit of mama guilt just before leaving, I baked her a another batch of apple and cinnamon wacky cakes and made sure Mr Fork had enough meals available so they wouldn't starve. I needn't have bothered; they were well able to fend for themselves.

This was my hotel room view while I was away. Nice right?

Night view

Morning view
Unfortunately, I sleep terribly in hotel beds, so despite a nice cushy mattress and mounds of pillows to myself I didn't really rest well at all. Which didn't really bode well for my teaching style while I was there, as I fear I took my tired and grumpy out on people who didn't deserve it.

However! It was nice to have some time away and even nicer to come home to cuddles from my little family, who obligingly fetched me from the airport.

So now, life is settling back into our routine, I have a home day to spend with my sweet Ellie today. We are going to a water park for morning tea and to play with friends, then we will have lunch, nap and have afternoon tea somewhere nice.

I'm looking forward to having some weekend time to bake and restock the freezer for those times when we need to eat and I just don't have the energy to cook anything.

What sort of things do you make at those occasions?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin soup

I mentioned that I picked my first home grown pumpkin recently. I was a bit apprehensive cutting it open as I thought perhaps I'd picked it a bit early and so it would be dry and inedible. I needn't have worried - that baby was lovely and golden inside, not dry and all, and certainly looked delicious. I split the monster with a friend, and I had absolutely no question in my mind what I was going to make with my half - pumpkin soup of course!

Half the pumpkin

Ingredients:

Pumpkin, cut into chunks (I used half of my kent pumpkin, probably about a kilogram worth)
1 onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks the same size as the pumpkin
Vegetable Stock – about 4 cups worth. I use Vegeta stock powder to make it up
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil

Method:
  1. Start with some olive oil in your soup pot. Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant. 
  2. Add your pumpkin, potatoes and stock and simmer until the pumpkin is cooked. You may want to use more or less stock, depending on how thick you want your soup. The potatoes are added as a thickener as the starch in them will also help to thicken it up.
  3. Take the soup off the heat and blend, either using a stick blender, or in batches in a regular blender. 
  4. Return to the stove for a further 10 minutes and season to taste. 

I like to serve this garnished with fresh spring onions, and a side of home made garlic bread. So good!

Serves 4 generously, with leftovers.

Pumpkin soup

Variations:

  • To make it extra fancy, you could add some white wine to deglaze the pot after sautéing the onion and garlic - just saute a little longer to burn off the alcohol.
  • I like to mix it up with some different seasonings. A hint of liquid smoke after blending gives a nice smokey flavour, or some curry powder makes it yummy and aromatic.
  • If you have the oven on anyway, you could roast the vegetables first for a nice caramel flavour, but I'm lazy and wanted this on the table quickly.

What's your favourite soup? 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day - high tea and other celebrations

Ellie and I were lucky enough to be invited by the Mater Mothers' to high tea for an early mother's day celebration on Friday. There were 160 mums (plus bubs/toddlers) there and it was really well organised to cater for everyone... seriously, they even had a pram valet - although we had our trusty ring sling with us anyway.


Honestly, there's a lot to be said for high tea (oh I wish you read this Mr Fork!). Dainty cups and saucers, stands of delicious savouries and sweets and I just need to single out cupcakes. How great are cupcakes?! Not to mention muffins, scones, macaroons, slices... and do I even need to mention the jugs of milk and white hot chocolate on the table? So spoilt.

Look at the yummy sweet stand
It was a lovely event, with plenty of yumminess, great entertainment, roving photographers, a photo booth and even some fabulous prizes. 
Ellie was made more than welcome with toddler-friendly activities - apart from socialising with the other children, there was colouring in and children friendly treats on each table (we were gifted a Mater Little Miracles stuffed toy and some body balm). There was plenty of snuggles to be had too which was super lovely for me on our girls' morning out!

Although she looks unimpressed, she had a great time
It was a really fun event, and a great push for me to get out of my social rut and meet some new people. I was talking to the1337mum about how I was apprehensive about going and shy when approaching other mothers but she assured me it was no problem - you just become friends with the mother of the child your kid picks. She was right! I also ran into an old friend there which was a lovely surprise as well, and great to catch up.

Stealing kisses
It was a great start to Mother's Day weekend for me... we've been busy since, spending time with Mr Fork's mother, and then this morning, Ellie and Mr Fork treated me to breakfast out at one of my favourite cafes. Ellie also made me a keepsake box at daycare, with the most hilarious card. I'm such a lucky mama!

Happy mother's day!
Happy mothers day to all the mamas I know, whether your baby is grown, still growing, furry, angel or otherwise. I hope you're all having a fabulous day and you are being spoilt with snuggles and lots of love.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Little things

I went to work grumpy this morning. At 1:00am, Ellie woke screaming from a dream and I couldn't calm her, so I brought her into bed with us, where she immediately settled. She cuddled herself up against me, tucked her little head under my chin and proceeded to babble quietly to me in her little Ellie voice. It was adorable. But, it was also 1:00am so I told her that it wasn't time to talk it was time to sleep and followed my own advice. 

She didn't though. She laid with her warm little head against me happily, patting me with her little baby hands and chatting quietly and then, when she didn't get any meaningful response, moved on to kicking me not so gently. It was now past 3am and I was tired and had had enough so moved her (reluctantly) back to her own room.

Except, now, I was very awake anyway, so I ended up laying in bed unable to get back to sleep and got up at my usual time with heavy limbs and eyes that felt like I'd rubbed sand into them. I could have kept her in bed and enjoyed having quiet time and snuggles together, but instead I chose otherwise.

There's a line in a popular song that goes like this:

"I won't let these little things slip out of my mouth, but if it's true, it's you, it's you they add up to - I'm in love with you"

Oh alright, it's a One Direction song, let's admit that and get it over with. There's a point to this.

She won't always want to lie in bed with me. She won't always want to cuddle and talk to me with reckless abandon. She won't always be Ellie as she is now. She probably won't even remember these early day moments. But I will. I'll remember the little things that make up Ellie and I'll hold them close. When I look back, I won't remember the cranky, the heavy limbs and the sandy eyes from lack of sleep. I'll remember bringing her to bed for snuggles, the weight of her against me, inhaling her sweet baby smell and listening to her tiny voice tell me about her life. I won't even be able to tell her in a way she'll appreciate all the little things I remember and love about her... but I'll hold them in my heart and I'll treasure them.


And I'll make a promise to myself to hold off on the grumpy and enjoy the small moments and pleasures I'm given. Because life is short, babies aren't babies forever, and life is full of little things that should be seized and appreciated when they occur. Such as outfits that look like strawberries... and toddler love and affection.


What about you? Any little things to appreciate in your life lately?

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's in my Kitchen, May 2014

In my kitchen is...

Raw nut butter and chocolate cups. I've seen lots of talk about raw desserts so I figured I'd give them a go. I made some raw almond/brazil/cashew nut cups, with cacao topping. They were pretty awesome, even Ellie loved the tiny bites I let her share. I might have to try some other variations now that I know how easy and delicious they are!


In my kitchen is...

Leftover Easter Eggs (and a sneaky homegrown eggplant). There are still a few leftover Easter eggs, which is pretty terrible considering that the only person in our house who got eggs was Ellie. She's not even two yet, so I refuse to let her eat them all... except, I don't particularly want to eat them either, and even Mr Fork has reached saturation point. Any tips for what to make?

Also an aside, but I love this platter/bowl. It was given to me at my own kitchen tea before I got married and I adore it. I always find an excuse to need something stored out on the bench so I can have it on display.


In my kitchen is...

Soups a plenty! We've been the house of sick recently, so soup has been one of our main meals. I know I'm sick when I forget to get photos of food, but we've had some delicious varieties - potato and leek, sweet corn (with chicken and egg added to half for Mr Fork), hot and sour soup loaded with tamarind, noodles and plenty of fresh vegetables.



Potato and leek soup
In my kitchen is...

My first ever home grown pumpkin! I'm not 100% sure what variety this one is as it sprouted from compost I'd spread in the beds (obviously not aged enough) and I nurtured it since. I'm not even sure if I harvested it too early, but since it's the first pumpkin I've ever grown, I'm immensely proud of it. I've got a couple more coming up on the vine, still at tennis ball size, so hopefully they'll stay on and keep me in pumpkin soup for some time!


In my kitchen is...

A batch of delicious smelling apple and cinnamon mini wacky cakes for Ellie (alright, I'll admit the four larger ones on the right are for her mama....). I think what makes them especially appealing right now is that it's currently grey and miserable outside and now the house is redolent with the smell of baking, apples and cinnamon - an extremely potent combination!


I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. I know it seems that my kitchen is full of food this month because, well, it is! Cold weather always makes me want to cook, partially because I love the warm stodgy cold weather foods and also because it gives me an excuse to have the oven on and stand near it! 

What's in your kitchen this month?

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