January Daily Wrting Challenge. Day 3: Crack the spine.

James counted the steps along the pavement to school. Three steps between each paver. Two and a bit if he extended his stride.
“Come on James! Hurry up,” called Mrs Prosser, some distance ahead.
James ran along to catch up with the old lady.
“Mrs Prosser,” he exclaimed,” I can walk three steps between the lines! Watch!”
He walked in front of her, counting as he stepped.
“Be careful James, Don’t step on the cracks! You’ll break your mother’s back!”
She smiled and laughed.
James stopped and turned to look at her.
“I’m always careful Mrs Prosser,”
He slid his polished shoe, toe first, towards the thin gap between the pavers.
He lifted his foot and held it above the line, his eyes fixed on the old lady’s.
“I’m always careful Mrs Prosser,” he repeated as he stamped his foot.
“That’s why dear Mummy is still so poorly, and you are walking me to school.”

January Daily Writing Challenge. Day 2: A dog’s life.

The old heeler sleeps on the verandah, twitching his ears occasionally to move the flies that land. His coat mottled black and grey, his head pure black apart from the white muzzle that tells his age.
The farmhands walk past him at sundown, dusty and sweating, grumbling as they kick off their boots.
The noise wakes the old dog, who stretches and groans before rising and padding through the door where he takes his place under the kitchen table.
He dozes again, lulled by the burr of human voices , the smell of food and the kitchen’s warmth.
His legs twitch as he dreams, young again, chasing and snapping at the heels of cattle. Eagerly looking to his master for approval and his next command. Mouth open grinning, panting as he waited expectantly.
Outside, the young working dogs, chained to their shelters, gulp down their food and settle to rest in the red dust.
The old dog waits under the table at his master’s feet. Eating the occasional chop bone dropped to him. His belly broad and swollen with rich food and rest.
His eyes close and he remembers hot dusty holding pens, Leaping across the backs of cattle, urging them up ramps and through races. The smell of the beasts, their fear and stress. The excitement of running alongside his master’s vehicle through the paddocks, searching for stray cattle, his sides heaving with exertion. The cool thrill of plunging into the stock dam.
He wakes as dinner finishes and follows the men out to the verandah. He lies, once again in his spot while the men put their boots back on.
“Alright for some,” grunts one.
“Yep,” replies another,” Wouldn’t know a hard day of work if it bit his arse.”
The men walk away towards their quarters,past the young dogs who strain at their chain, yapping and barking.
The old dog sighs and stretches.His master stands on the verandah, contemplating the cool night. He reaches down and rubs the old dog’s head.
“Good boy, old fella.”
The dog’s tail thumps against the floorboards.
“Good boy.”

Farewell Facewaste.

7 days out.

art – for a special gorgeous friend.

image

image

Outingsimage image image

Chapman Valley Show.

studpendously good Ugly Stick donuts from BurntBarrel.

Stupendously good coffee from tinkertailorsoldiersailor in their uber cute caravan!

reading

Calvin and Hobbes. Light relief for week whatever term 3. Lionel Shriver – The New Republic. Happy railway market bonus last weekend!

Next  project -ripping apart a story book to make an altered book based  on prime numbers.

missing Facewaste? Nup. Keeping busy and have deleted app from phone.

Next plan – emails and letter writing.

or a random poem based on predictive text.

Dough Therapy

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

My week began somewhat craptacularly and by midweek I was ready for comfort food. I offered my boys homemade pizza so while my more awesome half headed out for toppings I began the bread dough. I love bread making. I find the whole process extremely relaxing and rewarding.

I do not own a bread maker so before I embark on pizza for dinner I have to ensure I have a good 2 hours to spare.

Currently I am using the basic bread recipe on the back of the bread improver container. I’m pretty sure no Wallabies have been harmed in the making of their bread improver.

20120804-155959.jpg

I also do not own a mixer so all my bread, from start to finish, is handmade.
Once I have mixed the ingredients I pull the dough together on a well floured table top and knead it for at least 10 minutes. If the boys are helping I split the dough 3 ways so they can knead the dough too. I like the fact that they can get as rough with it as they like and it is GOOD for the bread. I’m not so generous when I’m making scones!

20120804-160523.jpg20120804-160549.jpg

 

After  making bread a few times you can feel when the dough is becoming smooth and elastic. I always have lots of flour on hand to eliminate stickiness. If the boys are kneading too I rotate our lumps of dough so they get kneaded by each of us (and I know they’re evenly kneaded.)

Gather it together, put it back in the mixing bowl, cover it (I use a couple of tea towels) and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour. In summer this is easy (insanely I do most of my bread baking on summer evenings….) in winter on top of the oven is fine but I have found my dough rises perfectly in winter without any extra heating. Mind you I live no where near anywhere properly cold ( 15 degrees C is a cold day for us) so I’m pretty lucky.

20120804-161349.jpg20120804-161414.jpg

 

Bashing down the dough is spectacular! Biff! Bash!! Boof!!
I divide it into eight pieces and roll them out. This takes a little patience as the dough is very elastic and is quite insistent on reverting back to a smaller size. I have not the spatial skills nor the hand eye coordination to flick, spin and stretch the dough like a professional pizza chef does but eventually I get a few reasonable size discs of dough….

20120804-162048.jpg

Now I cover it again and leave it to rise for half an hour. Rising times are perfect for preparing pizza toppings. So after 30 mins you have everything you need for pizza….

20120804-162313.jpg

Toppings are many and varied. I love roasted eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum and feta. This particular night the fridge presented bacon, capsicum, sweet potato, mushroom and tomato.

Here the boys took over and became artistic.

20120804-162614.jpg

I had a craving for my favourite style of pizza, calzone, so after the boys had finished and their pizzas were in the oven ( about 20 minutes at 180 degrees C) I prepared my own.

I like pesto on my base but had to make do with tomato based pizza sauce.
I piled up all the toppings on one half of the dough ( I fry up the capsicum, mushroom and bacon first) then fold the dough over and seal the edges with water. Push together with your finger tips.

20120804-163033.jpg

20120804-163054.jpg

These little beauties go into the oven for about the same amount of time. Still haven’t worked out how to get a golden finish on them so they look a little anaemic but they are delish. Let them cool a little before you tackle them or your mouth will never forgive you!

 

20120804-163328.jpg

Suffice to say this dough therapy wasn’t quite enough to sate me, I ended up baking more bread the following night for Friday’s morning tea at work…….

20120804-163543.jpg

Creating and Learning. Two Pleasures in One.

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

July is a busy month for birthday parties here. We have been to 3 parties and celebrated one of our own. Too much birthday cake is never enough. Party blowers on the other hand….

20120729-185849.jpg

Last weekend the boys attended a pirate party. They raided our dress up box for the occasion and I took a pirate and a dinosaur pirate to the party (I have a particularly obstinate 4 year old).

20120729-185943.jpg

The sister of the pirate party host celebrated her birthday this weekend so last week we received an invitation to her princess party.
I knew dresses and tiaras wouldn’t wash with my boys so decided to scour the Internet for knights costumes that I could make.
At this point I have a confession to make.
I cannot sew.
I cannot sew well. I do own a sewing machine but it rarely sees the light of day and when I do use it I try to stick to straight lines and dodge broken sewing needles.

So my search of the Internet did not include anything remotely involving needles, thread or silver material.
Cardboard, sticky tape, staples and split pins is more my comfort zone.

So I was absolutely thrilled when I found this template from the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Last night I opened up the article and thanks to some foresight (I had saved some Lego boxes from the rubbish) I spent a couple of hours constructing 2 helmets, two breastplates , a broad sword and a dagger all the while trying to follow the plot of John Carter. Still not sure with that movie – part Star Wars, part Avatar, part Dune…all too long. Had some pretty snazzy helmets though.

20120729-185754.jpg

The result was very impressive. If I had more time I would have spray painted the finished helmets silver but the boys had great fun decorating their costumes this morning. They were so excited about their costumes they insisted on wearing them well before we needed to leave for the party.

20120729-185634.jpg

This activity was so simple and satisfying that I am contemplating attempting it with my Grade 3 class in a couple of weeks.This term I have introduced them to London and it will tie in beautifully with the potted history of the city that I am planning on teaching them.

I am looking forward to the opportunity of providing them with a fun and satisfying art activity which will help them to remember what they have been learning about another culture’s history and traditions.

Not sure I will be letting them joust though….

Winter Holiday Kickoff

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Celebrating my first night of the mid year holidays in several ways.
My sadly failing footy team has had a win over the current top of the ladder premiership favourites (Car’n you Mighty Blues!). I have learnt how to make a playlist on YouTube (in your face technology!) and have a cruisy blues soundtrack of Winehouse, Adele (recent discoveries – one doesn’t get out much) Billie, Etta, Nina, Ella and Sharon Jones (Ow!!!) and I have dug out my year old scarf project that I intend to wear this year before it gets hot again… (another in my long line of scarves) (ooh a pun!).

20120706-213224.jpg

Small peeps are asleep so I got to make my all time favourite quick fix meal in a bowl in a minute dinner.
Put angel hair pasta into boiling water.
Beat an egg with HEAPS of Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. Obviously fresh Parmesan is the preferred treat but the packet stuff is quick and easy.
Beat it madly with a fork and as soon as the pasta is drained throw everything in a bowl, mix madly again and then add more cheese and slurp it all down.
The trick to this pasta is eating it while it is still steaming hot.

20120706-213738.jpg

A Little Sweet Something

Tags

, , , , , ,

Have had these ingredients in the pantry for a couple of weeks and for some reason this weekend I am channelling an Enid Blyton Mummy. You know, picnics with tomato sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer!

I had a glass of milk and a doughnut ready for the boys when they got home from school on Friday. Usually I’m home after them and usually they get fruit and cracker biscuits.

Tonight after dinner I made a batch of s’mores. I rarely make them as I shudder at the thought of so much sugar, but Enid Blyton Mummy thought the boys might like a treat in their lunchbox.

20120701-205958.jpg

Jolly hockey sticks!!!

You Say “Tomato” I Say “Soup?”

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Relax, I am not going to make you sit over a bowl of boiling water and a mound of tomatoes and skin and deseed those bastards.
Come on. I’ve got 3 kids, I’M hungry. I want to eat now, not next century.

Put however many tomatoes you have and a head of garlic on a baking tray and roast at 180 degrees C for about 30 mins (who counts? I took them out when they looked leaky and hot. There’s a cooking term for you!) I put mine in giant muffin tins which looked cool and kept the juice in.

While the oven is doing its thang dice an onion, a stick of celery and finely grate 2 carrots (I did this cos I only had 10 tomatoes and knew it wouldn’t make heaps on its own.)

Fry the onion and celery, once they’ve got going add the carrot and then some paprika powder and dried thyme (or whatever else floats your boat).

Pour in about (not counting again) a cup of boiling water and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Stir it, add salt… Let it simmer. This is kinda like stock.

Pull the tomatoes out of the oven, chop out the core, roughly chop the rest, chuck EVERYTHING in the pan with the carrots, onion and water.
Squish all the hot nutty goodness from the roasted garlic into the pan as well.

Grab a stick blender thingy of your preferred brand and blend it like Beckham.

Now for more salt and cracked pepper (as you wish) (Hello Princess Bride) and the secret, secret ingredient…..because I had no tomato paste to give it oomph…..tomato sauce (ketchup) about a tablespoony squirt.

Add chopped fresh chives and basil (only cos it’s about the only thing I can’t kill in my garden).

Mix, ladle into a mug (so much more comforting than a bowl) AND it has a handle, add a splodge of cream, sour cream, plain yoghurt or Parmesan cheese and enjoy. Then enjoy another bowl. Then feel slightly ill and put the leftovers in the freezer. y u m.

I have not posted a picture of this concoction because as delicious as it sounds and tastes it does not make for visually appealing photos. You’ll just have to trust me and make it yourselves.

20120630-215606.jpg

Go on, throw that can opener away….
Now how are we going to open the baked beans??