Cookie Exchange

Now doesn’t that look nummy?

Last night I went to a cookie exchange. One of the ladies from my church, (check out her amazing blog ), came across the idea and asked if anyone was interested. So 9 of us got together, had a lovely chat and drink and at the end swapped goodies. 

Everyone brought a zip lock bag with at least 10 pieces in it for each person, plus a plate to share during the evening. This picture is a sampler of what we walked home with. Not bad huh? I have to admit, I’ve had a few snacks during the day – very delicious.

It was pretty time consuming during the day making it. I made “Stained Glass Window” biscuits. These are simply a basic sugar biscuit with a star shape cut out of the middle. You place a boiled lolly in the middle and when it cooks, the lolly melts down to make the ‘stained glass window’.

Easy enough to make, but fiddly, and yesterday was quite hot and my biscuits kept melting after I cut them out and put them on the tray. I finally gave in and put the air conditioner on in the afternoon and with lots of help keeping the dough cool in the fridge. I was consoled that the others had also had baking dramas thanks to the weather. (And after being unseasonally cold for so long too) It may not have been our finest baking performance, but I think we did OK in the end. I finally made around 86. Not quite enough to meet the quota of 10. I had 8 each but I threw in about 6 of the little stars cut out from the middle, so I figured it was worth 10 bikkies in the end!

So now should any Christmas visitors come a calling, or should I need to bring a plate anywhere, I’m all set to go!

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The Happy Heart of a Sweet Tooth

It was birthday recently. This is what my sister gave me.

All homemade. Vanilla fudge. Chocolate fudge. Pistachio Fudge. My childhood favourite, Russian Caramel.

WORST present EVER.

I have no willpower.

They are YUM. They are DELECTABLE. They are HEAVENLY.
I am on a SUGAR HIGH.

If she weren’t 2 sizes smaller than me I would suspect sinister motives. Like she was trying to steal my wardrobe. (Sorry, not steal. Just long term loan.) A sister would do that.

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New Love

I have a new love in my life.

He was born on Tuesday night and is my nephew.

When you hold a little newborn in your arms, it’s hard to ignore the beauty and sanctity of life. It always just amazes me that hours earlier that little one was nestled deep within its mothers womb. Deep within that womb over the last 9 months that little life has gradually been knit together so that on just the right day he can enter the world, ready to start life.

“For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

I wish every baby had the chance to be born.

http://www.notbornyet.com/

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And So The Advent Begins…

The J Bomb has been exciting at the arrival of Christmas ever since the shopping centres started to put the decorations up at the end of September. I tell you, they know how to mess with a kids mind!

Anyway, today the day has arrived for the official countdown to begin. We got a lego advent calendar this year. The antcipation to open it has been great!

It wasn’t cheap, but Lego never is. When you consider that you are getting 24 little Lego projects, it’s not really too bad. Lego is such a good toy for manipulatives, construction, creativity and fine motor skills, I feel it’s well and truly justified educationally as well! Here’s inside the box, all the little windows are just waiting to be opened!

And here is J Bomb with Day 1’s gift a little snowman and a cheesy smile. Good opportunity to have a lesson on climates in other countries. I don’t think he really got it.

I have to show you the next picture. The J-Bomb has been playing with the snowman all morning. Sometime during the night he had got up and gone to the toilet. I don’t know why he took his PJ’s off to do so, but it’s obvious that he did.

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Gardening for the Clueless: Touring the Vegie Patch

Right, back to the garden tour. If you missed the start of the tour, you can catch up by having a glance at my front yard . If you are an avid gardener, and didn’t read my first warning, click on that same link, or read the title again. This is not the advice of a gardening guru!

I love my vegie garden. It’s a little overgrown at the moment and badly in need of a weed. I’m waiting for it to rain. It makes it much easier to pull the weeds out, especially when you have as many as I have cultivated at the moment. The plant blocking the path at the front is rocket. Advice for the clueless: Rocket doesn’t taste very nice when it’s left go wild as such. Very bitter. I have to work out how to keep it under control… In fact I’ve planted a new punnet, because I think I may just have to pull these bushes out.

The masses of greenery on the fence is our passionfruit vine. It has been awesome. We have got so much black passionfruit from it. More advice for the clueless. Passionfruit vines love to spread. I have four garden beds in my vegie garden, and planted the vine there. In one year it has covered the cute garden seat in between the two beds, and completely taken over the 2nd trellis where I had cherry tomatoes growing. I’ve now got cherry tomatoes intermingled with passionfruit. It’s a bit crazy! 

Another gardening tip: Cherry tomatoes are FANTASTIC to grow! (Providing they don’t have to compete with the passionfruit.) Last year I got a punnet of seedlings and got a bumper crop from them. Really easy to grow, heaps of fruit and no disease! Much easier than normal tomatos. They hardly produced any fruit and the fruit I did have had blossom end rot. I know people say growing tomatos is easy, but if you are gardening challenged, start with cherry toms. Plus, it is always satisfying walking past them in the supermarket and feeling smug that you have hundreds of them at home for the same price as a punnet would cost!

The above picture is some advice for the clueless. This will be what your broccoli looks like if you don’t pick them immediately. If you think, “I’m not having broccoli for dinner tonight, I’ll pick them later…” you may come back several days later to discover them looking like this. The bees will love it, but you won’t.

The same applies to cauliflower. I have this love of cooking it straight after picking. I have all these visions of extra nutrients nourishing my families body when I do this. This shot is before my theory backfired, I left the cauliflower in the garden too long and it went a frightful yellow. I don’t know what’s wrong with my cauliflower in fact, it took ages to grow and I’m sure the leaves aren’t supposed to be this big.

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Sesame Street Etiquette

In our house we are trying to teach the J Bomb table manners. Something must be going into his little head. He has now become the etiquette police and is always trying to catch out The Accountant and myself. He caught The Accountant tonight. “Daddy! You have your Elmo’s on the table! You have to take them off.”

Personalized Stool
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Santa… Please Explain.

I have to say it, I think Santa Claus is out of line.

J Bomb has been to sit on Santa’s knees twice this year. He hasn’t done that before, he was a bit too frightened and I didn’t push this issue. We don’t talk up the whole Santa bringing presents deal, of course he is looking forward to Santa’s bounty, we don’t need to hype him up about it. I prefer to talk more about the Nativity and the real meaning of Christmas. Each time Santa has asked him what he would like for Christmas, and J has widened his eyes in surprise and thought carefully about his response in the same way you or I would if we were given an open cheque. The first time he seriously replied that he would like some chocolate coins. Santa looked a bit shocked at such a modest request, and then answered, “I think we can handle something that.” I was a it shocked by an absolute promise, but agreed with Santa, it was an easy gift to include in the stocking. Luckily for Santa I don’t have an issue/allergy/abhorence to my child eating chocolate coins. The J Bomb came home and very excitedly told The Accountant that Santa was bringing him chocolate coins for Christmas.

The next visit to Santa, Jonty answered the gift enquiry with a long detailed report on how his toy chainsaw wasn’t working at optimal performance. (Believe me, it is working, the household occupants needs ear muffs when it starts up.) Santa had no idea what the J Bomb was talking about and looked at me in bewilderment, I simply said, “He wants a new chainsaw.” Santa (probably appropriately) looked horrified, whereby I hastened to add, “A toy chainsaw, his old one isn’t working properly.”

“Oh!” said a much relieved Santa, “If I bring you a chainsaw, will you come to my house and chop up firewood for me?”

Now the J Bomb thinks he is going to receive the noisiest toy in history AND he thinks he gets to go to Santa’s digs.

And then there’s the Santa who came to Playzone today. I think Santa has jumped on the whole subliminal advertising bandwagon. Is nothing sacred anymore? I think Santy is getting kickbacks from Adidas. Next thing we’ll be seeing advertising on the side of his sleigh…

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The Shame of Motherhood

There are some moments during motherhood where you just have to hang your head in shame – even if it’s not exactly your fault. There is another moment that all mothers have, and that moment often becomes a story to be told over the next couple of decades. That story is the poo story. Sometimes the moment of shame is intertwined with the poo story, as mine was on Saturday. I had a lovely morning. I had a morning meeting, and when I came home The Accountant, God bless him, had completely exhausted The Baby, who consequently slept the whole morning. The J Bomb then went to “Bunny’s with Daddy”. (Bunnings) Therefore, I had a delightful morning by myself, free to do whatever I pleased. Unfortunately I wasn’t pleased that this meant I was free to do the ironing, so in the end it wasn’t all that delightful. Except that the ironing basket receded considerably with the uninterrupted attention. Until I folded the washing that is. Then it was overflowing again.

So, once The Baby woke up, I took him and J Bomb to a 1st Birthday party. It’s a shame I didn’t check the invite before I left home. I would have discovered I was going to turn up half an hour early. Luckily, before the majority of the guests arrived, I caught Jonty over near the shed, pants down having a pee. Boys, sometimes they have no shame.  I cornered him, had a stern talk about the evils of public urination and advised him of the wisdom getting me to usher him to the bathroom should any further calls of nature occur.

So, once The Baby woke up, I took him and J Bomb to a 1st Birthday party. It’s a shame I didn’t check the invite before I left home. I would have discovered I was going to turn up half an hour early. Luckily, before the majority of the guests arrived, I caught J Bomb over near the shed, pants down having a pee. Boys, sometimes they have no shame.  I cornered him, had a stern talk about the evils of public urination and advised him of the wisdom getting me to usher him to the bathroom should any further calls of nature occur.

All seemed to be going well. J Bomb discovered that inside the shed contained sumputous party food, and dubbed it the “Party Shed” and made frequent visits there in between soccer and swinging on the swing set. However, I soon saw his little face poking guiltily around the corner outside the shed. Thinking he was acting guilty because he was about to relieve himself again, I went to investigate, and to my horror, he had hidden behind the shed to do a poo. Then he had trod in it, and walked around with poo on his shoe spreading it within that vincinity, which meant that I trod in it too. Kicking our shoes off, I marched him to the toilet. I was so embarrassed, and so angry! To let him know my displeasure I said it was time for us to leave. A getaway turned out to be not so easy as the exit was blocked by the birthday cake.

My mood mellowed somewhat while singing Happy Birthday to a non-existant one year old, (She had chosen the classic one year old, “Sleep Through Your Own Party” routine.) Jonty was terrified of missing out on cake and a party bag. After his sincere apology to the host, he was relieved to receive both. The food was consumed with an air of solemenity though, he knew that it was a close call.

I take some consolation that perhaps the embarrassment I felt on Saturday perhaps may match the J Bomb’s embarrassment one day when I regale this tale one day in the future. Perhaps his footy buddies will be interested…

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Mickey Fish Progress Report

Our Betta fish that we inherited from my cousin’s wedding is making fine progress! The fact that he is alive is an instant bonus, and the fact that he isn’t even swimming sideways is an even happier moment for all. (Most of all for Mickey!) Since our last update, Mickey has scored cleaner waters and has once again taken up residence in his original wedding vase. It’s a bit smaller than my fish bowl, so the water is able to stay warmer for longer. Plus it fits onto his shelf. He feels well and truly one of the kids now with prime placement in between my beautiful Willow Tree figurines I was given to commemorate my children’s birth and my pregnancy.

Our lounge room has become Mickey’s bedroom, since it gets quite warm from midday onward from the afternoon sun. Mickey has become a lot more active since moving to his new quarters and consistently keeps his health up swimming laps of the vase.

His only complaint at the moment is that is a bit hungry. The J Bomb was in a horrid mood one day, and to get back at Mummy not answering his question because I was talking on the phone, he went and tipped all the fish food outside. The J Bomb has been told that he must replace the fish food with his pocket money, but we haven’t been to the pet shop yet. It’s amazing how long the fish is lasting on an empty stomach, perhaps I should have been feeding previous goldfish less then once a day… Could be the secret to fish longevity. Anyway, I felt sorry for Mickey today and fed him gold fish food, which he accepted.

Oh, and my cousin posted some wedding pictures on facebook, and would you believe, here’s the happy moment my father decided to bring Mickey home (not to his house) captured on film!

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Happy Heart Musings: Valentino and all things Fashionable

Visions of sugarplums may dance in the heads of little boys and girls the night before Christmas, but last night I went to sleep with visions of lace, sequins, bows and luxurious fabrics dancing through my head.

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My sister and I had been to visit the Valentino Exhibition in Brisbane on its final day.

It was a tad busy. Thank goodness we had pre-purchased the tickets and could breeze past the hoardes of women (and a few men) lined up waiting to get in. We actually had also gone with my mother and sisters in law, but we separated partway through the exhibit. Primarily because The Actress (sister) and I were going so slowly since we were taking so long to OOOOHHH and AAAAAHHH over each dress. In fact I think a family of fahion conscious snails would have completed the exhibition before us had they decided to view the exhibit. Luckily there were no snails present, which is just as well, since misfortune they would have surely encountered were they present. Inevitably a snail would be skewered by a stilletto or squashed by a ballet flat in the midst of the eager observants.

It was well worth dilly dallying though. Such gorgeous gowns, full of elegance, sophistication and glamour.

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As I wandered around in awe of such beauty, I became quite contemplative as my mind wandered through the drifts of fabric. I should clarify, I became contemplative, probably after leaving the exhibit. I was far too busy talking with The Actress. I must say, our commentary was highly amusing, and not just to us. We even had a secret stalker, a bored Dad who kept on unobtrusively positioning himself behind us and smirking away. That was until he laughed out loud when I made in depth observations on the precarious walk that the models were doing in their slightly ridiculous footwear during video footage of a fashion parade. He was a little mortified that we had ‘just’ (so he thought) noticed him, that he disappeared into the crowd. Poor guy, his loss, our commentary was by far more entertaining then the official guides.

So firstly I was thinking about how we classified how much we liked the dresses according to how well we could imagine ourselves in the blessed creation. For instance, The Actress could totally see herself on stage in the black 80’s sequined number, lifting her arm out and exposing the exquisite beading whilst singing the dramatic final note.

Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future will be open at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, from August 7 to November 14, 2010. <EM>Photo: Katherine Feeney</EM>

She could also see herself swanning around in the pink dress with the matching overcoat with the glorious lining or in Audrey Hepburn’s number that we call the wattle dress, even though we discovered the flowers weren’t wattles at all. T’was a shame, really, it was quite un-Australian of Valentino. (Who does he think he is – like Italian?)

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While I tossed up trying to decide the most appropriate dress to disguise my post-baby tummy,

or just wanting to wear something fabulous in the event of losing post baby tummy.

I would totally be motivated to lose weight, if someone were to give me a Valentino. In fact sister and I decided if someone were to bestow upon us even one Valentino gown each, we would completely renovate Mum and Dad’s house into a ballroom where we would host a grand ball, weekly, wearing our Valentinos. Of course you would never get sick of us wearing the same outfit – it’s a Valentino. Oh, unless it was the hand painted 60’s number. We thought our Gran would have been able to paint the swirly pattern onto it. Maybe she did? A secret rendevous with Valentino. What a great family secret. We unexpectedly met our cousin at the exhibit, and she wholeheartedly agreed that the hand paintings matched Gran’s capabilities.

Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future will be open at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, from August 7 to November 14, 2010. <EM>Photo: Katherine Feeney</EM>
For the record, the little black dress up the top right hand side of the picture was one my favs. The photo does it no justice, it was gorgeous. If you were there, hopefully you remember. The Actress and I noted that although we had seen pictures of some of the dresses before, being there, seeing them up close was a totally different experience, and they were all the more splendid in real life.
Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future will be open at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, from August 7 to November 14, 2010. <EM>Photo: Katherine Feeney</EM>
If only we were allowed to touch. Before we left, I seriously considered going back to a dress, probably this one with such intricate fabrics and folds to touch it. It totally would have been worth getting evicted from th

e gallery for. I’m to much of a good girl though. A bit too afraid of getting in trouble!

Valentino Evening ensemble (detail) Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2007–08, Model 170 | Collection: Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / Photograph: Jean Tholance
So back to my musings. Sorry, got a bit carried away remembering with all the lovely pictures. (I have a weakness for pictures, being a visual learner and all.)
The desire, even the feeling obligation to lose weight in order to wear these creations, was a little disturbing. The dresses are designed for the ‘ultimate woman’s body’. Tall, slim models are the ideals to display the pieces. It is not about the dress alone, there is a certain size – ie. small – that is a requirement within the fashion industry. While I could find some dresses that would be able to hide my lumps and bumps – were they in a greater size – the dresses have not been designed for the ordinary woman. They are made with the elite in mind. The ‘haves’ not the ‘have nots’. There is the element of snobbery of owning a designer gown.
Now I’m not meaning to be completely harsh. Viewing the dresses in total awe and amazement, I know there must be the brilliant minds that God has created, so that they can in turn create such beauty, a celebration of femininity. Valentino, Dior, Yves St. Laurent, Marc Jacobs, etc. are the trend setters. The wealthy wear the clothing with their labels on. However, we do to. The labels are not so grand, but the clothing that we pick up in the stores that suit our budgets, have nevertheless been influenced by the trendsetters.
I think as women we crave beauty. I think we have been designed to crave beauty. To take pride in ourselves, and our homes to aspire to become better and create an atmosphere for others to feel comfort in. My encounter with Valentino was beautiful and even though I will probably never wear one of his creations, his designs have touched my life.
Valentino Evening gown Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1971, Model 238.  Photograph: Jean Tholance
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