February 28, 2010

all consuming

Sometimes, I'm filled with an all consuming worry about the days ahead.  I find it difficult to accept that whatever will be is mostly beyond my control and I shouldn't let it affect today.  For the duration of my pregnancy, I've tried to be positive and mostly I have achieved this, but every now and again a panic will overcome me about the health of my baby, about labour and childbirth, or about how we will cope with two so very young children.  

I do wish I could be the person that believes in herself enough and those around her to know that whatever does happen tomorrow will be what we have been dealt in life and whether it is a blessing or a challenge, one way or another, we will cope.

February 26, 2010


This week was my last at work for little while.  Rather tidily, my travel card had just enough credit for my last train journey and I finished a novel that I've been reading on the train journey to and from work for the last few weeks.  I'm nervous and excited with anticipation for the birth of Oliver's brother or sister - in a month, things will be very different.

We are trying slowly to organise our home to prepare for the big change.  I'm hoping to get through some of the more practical aspects in the next few days so I can concentrate on some more creative projects.  I'd like to paint a picture for the baby's room, as I did for Oliver, and set up some pretty, soft lighting in the nursery.  And for Ollie, I'd like to make a sun hat using this pattern from the The Purl Bee as a starting point.  I'll need to adjust the size and I'd like to use different colours, something bolder, maybe.

And then of course, there's the list of things I want to achieve before baby arrives... but most of all, I want to be rested and relaxed for the big arrival so that I can once again, savour being mama to a newborn baby.

virtue and moir

Since I was a little girl, I've loved watching figure skating.  (I'm pretty sure it's the reason I think the Winter Olympics are so much better than the regular Olympics!)

I find pairs skating particularly impressive and lately, I'm digging Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Canadian champions.  They are such a striking couple, their costumes are so understated but beautiful, a far cry from the spangle we've come to expect from ice skating.  I've been loving watching all the clips I can find of Virtue and Moir, but this one is my favourite.  I especially love the music (the title theme from the film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and Tessa Virtue is so very pretty too.

What a shame the Winter Olympics will be over in a couple of days; I feel like I've watched hardly any of the coverage.

(Photos from here)

February 25, 2010


(Image via Smaller, photography by Grant Cornett)
I know my urge should be to nest, but at this moment I would really love to get away with my family for a few days to somewhere where the weather is cooling, autumn is setting in, the view is of lavender fields and the sun is low in the sky. 

February 23, 2010


We've always enjoyed watching a good film but since Ollie was born, our trips to the cinema have been few and far between.  In fact we've only been once in the last two years.  So, I keep a list (another list) of the movies that we'd like to watch when they are available to rent, usually influenced by Margaret and David (At the Movies) and trailers we see.  So, rather than turning up to the video store and wondering where to start, the list means we usually come away with a film we actually want to watch.  (And don't get me started on how useful this is on $1 Tuesdays.)

One movie which only recently made it onto the list is Moon, and I thought it fitting to share this with you after Ollie's lunar discovery of the weekend.  We watched it this evening (it's $1 Tuesday).  Not entirely what I was expecting, it was a reasonably short, well paced, intriguing story. There were a few things that didn't entirely make sense to me, but I liked it. I like Sam Rockwell. I'm really not very good at reviewing things.  7/10.

thought for the day


Time is certainly a great healer.
I grazed my knee when I was six
And now it's fine.

By Oliver Minkley

February 21, 2010

small steps and giant leaps

Today, Oliver came to the realisation that his beloved moon, the moon that he loves to point at in any book we read to him, really does exist in the sky.  I can't explain how heart-achingly amazing it was to see this happen, to watch him point to the evening sky and sit mesmerised on our front deck with his arm aloft, pointing to the white crescent that he'd previously only imagined existed in his favourite stories, but it was truly a great moment.

In the last few days, and after an unsettled and somewhat difficult week last week, Ollie seems to have changed, to have matured.  I wonder whether the impatient little boy of last week was pre-empting this change, or perhaps I'm seeing something where there's nothing, and tomorrow will be hard work again, but it both breaks and warms my heart to see that my little boy is growing up.

February 20, 2010

choc banana triumph

I love to bake.  I love to eat.  I love to bake and eat chocolate banana bread.
(Recipe from 'bill's food' by Bill Granger)

another first

Ollie reached other milestone today.  Rather, we decided it was about time for his first haircut.  We'd been pondering this for some time now, but been reluctant; his wild, beautiful, chestnut hair suited his sometimes unpredictable personality and had grown into gorgeous, soft blonde wisps and curls that I knew we'd lose with a haircut.

I thought about cutting it myself, but wasn't sure I could do a good job and Ollie doesn't sit still at the best of times, so we left it to the professionals.  Not sure where to take Ollie for this memorable occasion, I thought a good option would be the Aqua Retreat in Graceville, a cute little salon just round the corner that I knew would be baby-friendly as it offers a childminding service in a supervised creche.  So with trepidation I booked an appointment for his first haircut.

We took in a photo of Ollie from a few months ago, when we thought his hair was the perfect length and Athena (Ollie's stylist!) did a great job of replicating it.  Moreover, our little boy was brilliant and distracted by a toy from the creche, he sat as still as he could on his pa's lap. Thirty minutes later, he emerged a smart little boy and I'm convinced that hair cut aside he seems different somehow, more knowing maybe. And while I had my reservations before this morning, and despite my secret plan to let Ollie's hair grow long and beautiful forever, I guess his first hair cut had to happen eventually.

February 19, 2010


I went grocery shopping today and wasn't particularly diligent in checking what was in the fridge beforehand.  So I got home to find I had accumulated 9 courgettes, 30 eggs and over a kilo of cheddar cheese.  Fortunately, Ollie loves courgettes, eggs and cheese, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but I decided anyway to make cheese and courgette muffins.  I love a savoury muffin, especially one which uses up ingredients which have no other immediate use, and these were so easy to make.  They turned out reasonably well - a good, cheesy flavour and quite a satisfying lunch.

Next on the cooking agenda, using up the 'accidental' over purchase of bananas.  (Chocolate banana bread, here I come.)

February 17, 2010


I try to abide by the ethos that we have a responsibility to consume and live sustainably. I could list many things we could do better, but we try to make informed choices, buy locally produced green groceries and free range meat and recycle and compost as much waste as we can. Before our son was born, we decided we wanted to extend our belief in the importance of living sustainably into our lives as parents and one of the big decisions we made was whether to use reusable nappies or disposable ones. 

The pros and cons are straight forward (but can vary depending on which side of the fence you sit on!): Disposable nappies offer convenience, arguably better performance and there are no environmental impacts associated with nappy laundry, a big factor in Australia where water shortage continues to be a problem. Reusable nappies are more economical, don’t end up in landfill and enable you to control how the waste is disposed of.

The decision was easy: I read that Australians put over one billion nappies into landfill each year and even those marketed as environmentally friendly or degradable take years to decompose due to the nature of our landfill sites. I believe the environmental and financial costs of disposable nappies far outweigh the costs associated with manufacturing and laundering reusable nappies, particularly if you have an energy and water efficient washing machine and air dry your laundry (not to mention the savings if the nappies are used for more than one baby).

I couldn’t be happier with the decision we made to use reusable nappies. There was a high initial cost but since then, we’ve saved money, energy and Ollie’s rarely had nappy rash. And the laundry is hardly a burden; we use a garden-friendly detergent and we don’t have a tumble drier but even in the winter the nappies dry quickly on a clothes stand indoors. The whole process now feels like second nature and I find it therapeutic rather than a chore... there’s something very settling about seeing the washed nappies billowing in the wind on our washing line...

February 16, 2010

hobz biz zejt

For a long time now we have been planning our meals weekly.  It minimises the amount of waste we produce to only buy exactly what we need and it makes for quicker and easier grocery shopping (which I used to enjoy more when I had the luxury of being able to meander around speciality shops and grocers rather than now reluctantly relying on the convenience of the supermarket for almost everything except meat and fish). 

Planning our meals also makes deciding what we are having for dinner much easier - after a long day it's something I don't like to ponder and our simple rule of only including what we like to eat on the menu means that most nights, the outcome is delicious.  (Of course there are nights when the list is devoid of inspiration and we succumb to the local takeaway.) 

Lately, it seems we have been cooking some great meals, some simple, some requiring a bit more effort, and some which have warranted a few photographs.  Dishes that spring to mind are Pollo alla Cacciatora (something I'd never tried before) and Rabbit Stew with Tarragon Dumplings (an old favourite from Cook with Jamie).

Something I like to prepare is chicken stock.  It's such a handy thing to have in the freezer but moreso, I feel virtuous when I make it, using up the bits of the chicken that would otherwise end up in the bin.  I try to buy whole free range, organic chickens, jointed and ask our butcher to give me the carcasses too, which I throw into a stock pot with whatever vegetables and herbs I have before simmering in plenty of water.

Our latest discovery is hobz biz zejt, a Maltese dish of dense white bread, tomato paste, white anchovies, capers, parsley and olive oil.  A delicious lunch and so easy to make.  I am particularly partial to salty, strong flavours (especially at the moment), and this really fits the bill.  Really summery, I'm looking forward to enjoying it with an icy cold glass of crisp, white wine.

February 15, 2010

encouraging an artist

I loved art and craft as a child and often wonder what I would be doing today had I pursued a more creative path in life.  I'm looking forward to encouraging Ollie to do what he enjoys most but secretly hope that he's inherited my love of all things crafty and his father's creative talent. 

Over the last couple of weeks we've been encouraging Ollie to play with crayons and scrap paper.  So far it's involved taping butchers paper to the coffee table and letting Ollie watch us scribble while he clambers over the table and plays with the crayons.  The last couple of times we've done this, he's avoided trying to eat the crayons (at least to begin with).  He can be easily frustrated by tasks that he doesn't pick up immediately but he's getting the hang of holding onto the chunky crayons and seems to understand that he's the one in control.  It's so endearing watching him learn new skills and I'm really looking forward to seeing his little masterpieces...

difficult days

The last few days have been difficult. It’s been hot, and Ollie’s not been his normal happy-go-lucky self. Ollie’s never been a particularly patient baby, but lately the slightest incident seems to upset him inordinately, and he seems to want to test every boundary that he can.

My once adventurous eater now refuses to eat, playing instead with his cutlery and wriggling around in his high chair. Even our weekly meal out, which is usually something Ollie really enjoys was hard work this week, although he did seem to enjoy the food. Bed time, which was for many months a forgone conclusion that Ollie would be sound asleep within moments is now a teary battle, with Ollie’s beloved companion Tigger being thrown out of the cot again and again.

I can’t think of anything in his routine that has changed. Both of us spend lots of time with Ollie during the day, reading stories, building towers, racing cars... and we try to include him in whatever we’re doing. I think he gets a good variety of play and doesn’t watch any television. Bed time still involves bath, stories, milk and cuddles.

I don’t know whether Ollie’s anticipating the change that’s coming with his little brother or sister, whether he’s reaching a developmental milestone or whether it’s just a phase he’s going through. It could be the heat – it’s difficult to eat and sleep when it’s hot and humid - but I miss the little boy that only a week ago was content to eat, nap, play and enjoy bath time before cuddles with mama, papa and Tigger and a good long rest.

February 13, 2010

polaroid pictures

I love the polaroid photography of Nicolle Null.  She captures colour and light in her nature/vintage inspired photos beautifully, resulting in just the right amount of whimsy.  One of the things I'd really like to do this year is to learn how to better use my camera and develop an eye for pictures that inspire a little imagination.

February 12, 2010

a labour of love

Finally, I have finished documenting the amazing first year of my son's life in a simple photograph album.  I've had the album for a few years and have been wondering what I'd use it for.  It feels nice to have finally found a purpose for it.  

The images I've chosen mark the milestones and memories of Ollie's first year.  I looked through thousands of images to pick only a few hundred and printed and trimmed them all at home, different sizes and shapes, and lovingly put them into an album that I hope my son will treasure.  I created labels to caption moments that were special to us, from the moment he was born to his first smiles to spending his first summer at North Stradbroke Island, surrounded by sea air, sun and sand. 

Even though I've only just finished the album and have seen the images countless times, I love to flick through it and see how the little guy has changed and relive cute memories of the past year.  I can only imagine how great it will be to do the same in ten years time!  

Photography is such a powerful medium.  It takes only a second to capture a moment forever; it's inspired me to continue to be as enthusiastic but perhaps a bit more discerning with the camera when our next baby arrives... and more than ever it's made me appreciate how much I have to look forward to.

February 9, 2010

on my nightstand...

I've just started reading Barbara Kingsolver's 'Prodigal Summer'.  I'm only a few chapters into it but so far I'm engrossed.  Having a good book to read is a treat.  I really look forward to my train journey to and from work, and the few moments before I fall asleep when I can escape into the literary world. 

Barbara Kingsolver's beautiful writing is often politically charged with themes varying from economic injustice to the place of community in modern society (not to everyone's taste).  I first discovered her when I read the non-fiction 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' in late 2007, which is now one of my favourite books.  Then last year I read 'The Poisonwood Bible', an epic work of fiction, beautifully written to provide a real sense of place and time and character.  I find both her fiction and non-fiction highly opinionated and thought provoking and with a whole bibliography that I've hardly touched, I'm looking forward to reading more.

February 7, 2010


It can be a difficult day when we are stuck indoors.  Ollie appreciates getting out of the house and he loves water play, whether it's his swim class, a frolic in the surf or splashing in (and eventually tipping over) the dogs' water bowl (always amusing for him).

Rocks Riverside Park in Brisbane is a good little escape, with plenty of different pools and wading areas and shade near the water for heavily pregnant mums to sit under.  Really cute (if a little scary) to watch Ollie captivated by the older, bolder kids.

February 3, 2010


I am a list maker.  Every day I make a list, whether it's for work, for groceries, for things I need to do or things I need to make.  I don't think I could function without pen and paper, nor without the satisfaction of achieving what is on my lists.

Generally I have three lists.  The first deals with what I have to do today; grocery shopping, bills, housekeeping etc.  The second deals with what I need to do in the next month or so; make birthday cards and gifts, fix things around the house and the last is one which lists everything else... the big stuff, the stuff that probably won't happen for months, even years, but it helps me organise my mind of the seemingly millions of things that I want to achieve.  (If I don't put 'build chicken coop' on a list, I'll never own chickens.)

Now I have a new list.  Next month I will be going on maternity leave and will be eagerly anticipating the birth of my second baby.  I have about seven weeks until baby's due date and during that time there are things I want to achieve, things that I know will be harder to accomplish when I'm looking after a newborn and energetic toddler.  The list gets longer and longer everytime I revisit it and since I have less than two months (assuming no early surprises) and a toddler to look after, I've restricted it to no more than 12 items:
  1. Take my son and pups out for a walk every day that I am on maternity leave;
  2. Teach my son the joy that is crayons and scrap paper;
  3. Organise and clean the nursery (this is a work in progress);
  4. Download the hours and hours of video of our little boy's first year;
  5. Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator;
  6. Make birthday cards for 2010;
  7. Start a new quilt;
  8. Figure out how to keep my little boy Oliver out of the kitchen;
  9. Cook at least 8 different nutritious but delicious meals to freeze for after the baby's arrival;
  10. Plan an autumn garden party for my 34th birthday;
  11. Read a Barbara Kingsolver novel;
  12. Go out to dinner with my husband.
I could go on, and who knows, maybe I will achieve all this and more.  Here's hoping.
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