Friday, September 28, 2012

in stitches: nappy stash

So much joy in working at the machine this past week. Lots of projects going, the lounge recovery continues, a birthday gift for a little girl, but first, I had to get these fitted nappies done for my girl.
Details: fitted cloth nappy using the Fattycakes pattern (modified). Minky outer, hidden PUL layer and polar fleece liner. Ridiculously absorbent bamboo snap-in soaker. Materials from Greenbeans Australia. Playing around with the idea of pursuing a more creative career, giving my little shop a real, red-hot go. Maybe these could be a new 'line'?
Looking to see what the cool kids are doing, over here. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the grief of little ones

Our little Archie dog died yesterday. Little loyal boy, who loved all of my babies and showed great gentleness and humility. We found him at the RSPCA over ten years ago and adopted him. We thought our beagle needed a companion. He drove us mad over the years. He was only around one year old when we brought him home, but we would speculate wildly about what must have happened to him in that first year. He was incredibly afraid of storms and could climb trees and hop over fences with ease. He hurt himself once, cut his tummy open, and my mum nursed him back to health, and so became his mum, too.

I knew yesterday morning when I saw him. He had been coughing, we all had gastro. The dehydrating children took my attention. His demeanour had changed from determined to pleading. I called my darling because I knew I couldn't take the children to the vet, too. I told the three-year-old over and over Archie is very sick, darling. His chubby little cuddles Poor Archie. I brought the big boy straight into the yard after school. He turned his face and silently mixed the dirt from his hands into the tears on his cheeks. We all gave him a cuddle and our love.

My darling returned home empty handed and eyes glistening. Where's Archie? over, and over, from the three-year-old. Where's Archie? Where's Archie? I tried to explain, He was so sick, darling, and he died. We won't see him anymore. The big boy buried his head in the lounge pillow and escaped into the cartoons on telly. A little while later, the three-year-old asked me Why is Archie in the water? Where is he? He thought I had said Archie dived.

So I tried again. We won't get to play with our Archie any more matey, I said. Oooh, but I want to! I don't know what died is mummy. And when I thought about it, my brain tumbled and I didn't really know either. I don't know.

Last night was the biggest storm I ever heard. The loudest thunder, the brightest flashes of lightning.

Friday, September 14, 2012

in season: aussie farmers direct

In the midst of my exploration of the best source of local/organic/quality/convenient/budget-friendly (not asking for much, am I?) fruit and veg for our family, I received a knock at the door from an Aussie Farmers Direct representative. We used AFD years ago, back in the suburbs, with just the one kid. I was working full-time, and my cooking repertoire was limited to meals that began with a Maggi packet. There was no way we could keep up with the potatoes alone, so we dropped it.

But this time, I saw the magic signed up for an organic family box. The set up was easy, you pay via direct deposit, they send a text to remind you of the delivery. This is what we received...
Fresh, abundant, delicious. I had kind of expected the organic stuff to be lesser quality, like the sad bits of broccoli you see in the supermarket, but it really wasn't. A gorgeous cauliflower, which became the yummiest curry ever. A lush bunch of coriander and beetroot (which I roasted) were among the favourites. I noticed on the few packaged things that they had been sourced from Victoria (we're on the Central Coast of NSW), which sparked a little conundrum for me- is organic worth it if it has to travel many kilometres? So I hopped onto the chat function on the Aussie Farmers Direct website and asked questions about the source of the produce. I was very reassured to find that there are several packing depots in each state (which is why the contents of the boxes vary), produce is most definitely Australian, and sourced regionally as much as possible. This box cost $56 delivered.
For the sake of comparison and curiosity, I changed my order for the following week to a regular family box...
Again, beautiful, fresh quality. At $37 a box, delivered, significantly kinder on the budget. 
So I found a lot to love about Aussie Farmers direct, this time around, I think helped along by my shifting attitude towards food and eating seasonally. Whole pumpkin two weeks in a row would have really had me scratching my head (and throwing away pumpkin a few weeks later), but now that I am working on building up recipes to use produce when it is in season, I no longer find that daunting. The delivery is very convenient and easy, and so exciting for the kids to unpack. The sales service is very friendly and helpful, I find the website easy to navigate. Aussie Farmers is far more flexible nowadays, you can change your order week-to-week, pick and pay is available if you want to choose individual items, and you can put your regular order on hold, is your family gets, say, gastro. On a Sunday, the box contents go up on the website, so you can check what's coming and do some menu planning. The addition of organic produce makes me happy. We also signed up for the milk delivery (and butter), which has reduced my need to pop to the shops several times through the week. Hallelujah.
I would love if Aussie Farmers supplied more specific information about the source of the produce. I wish the pick-and-pack option wasn't so expensive (when a delivery fee is included) because i really need an extra ten apples for lunchboxes, and that's all I need. I look forward to the organic range expanding to include milk and meat, especially whole chooks. I would love the pricing structure on the website to be listed as a per-kilo price, so I can readily compare pricing. But these are pretty small things. Overall, the service and the quality of the produce is excellent.
At the moment, Aussie Farmers Direct are offering a $10 credit for new customers! There are no obligations or contracts, so you may as well give it a try.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

in stitches: lounge recovery

There is no explanation needed here. The work has begun, unpicking the base of the removable cover to use as a pattern. Whilst she is clearly shedding her skin, there is still some life left in her bones. The vintage sheet is just there until i get this job complete.
Grabbing creative inspiration here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

growing things: progress

It's been just over a month since we planted our first veggies in the garden at our new place. And this is how it is all growing...



The sugar snaps and snow peas looked to be struggling, so I pinched the little peas off and ate them. I don't know if that's the right thing to do, we'll see! The bok choy looks so lovely and robust, can't wait to eat some. Trusty Gardenate is telling me what I should plant in September, I think we will add some cucumbers and capsicums to out little kitchen garden next. Learning lots, linking up here:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

nourish: apple tea cake

I don't know where I found this recipe originally*, I just know if I lose the envelope I scrawled it on, I will kick myself. So here 'tis, for prosperity.

Grab these:
3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour
3/4 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
125grams butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
two(ish) apples, diced

Do this:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (moderate). Grease and line a springform tin.
2. Combine everything, except the apples, in a bowl.
3. Press 3/4 of the batter into the base of the tin.
4. Sprinkle apples over the top, followed by the remaining batter. For added yum, sprinkle over some raw sugar mixed with cinnamon.
5. Bake for 40-50 mins, until golden. Cool in tin (if you can wait that long).
Do you like my 50c Johnson Australia plate? Yeah, so do I. Score!

*If this is your recipe, please let me know so that I can praise you like I should.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

pageturner: lone wolf (and giveaway!)

I seem to see novels by Jodi Picoult everywhere I go. The department stores always have a big display of her latest bestseller. So I picked up Lone Wolf in my op shop the other day, despite not being a fan of tortured family dramas and giggling at the reminder of the best man's re-enactment of the speech from The Hangover performed at our mates' wedding.

Having a week where I've had trouble maintaining focus, I struggled to engage with this story. The plot was a little formulaic and I didn't really connect with any of the characters. The drama follows a whole family's journey after a motor accident, with lots of fashbacks and skeletons in closets and the like. It was a pretty easy going read, probably perfect for lounging on the beach with. I imagine if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult's work, then this would be a winner!

Speaking of winning, I would like to gift one follower(within Australia) with the book of their choice from August. Let me know if you would like
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, or
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
in the comments, here. I will pick someone in a random fashion on the weekend.

winner announcement!
Congratulations Michele! Let me know which of my August reads you would like me to send you. Shoot me an email tuppennylanevintage (at) gmail (dot) com with your postage details. You too Christina, I'd love to send you something also :)

Time to restock for September!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

beach kindy:one

We have been bored, during the day, lately. The two littles have been pretty patiently waiting an end to yucky weather, colds and flu and a massive dose of laziness in their mama. The middle boy wants to go to Kindy every day (which makes me a bit sad). A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by the idea of Bush Kinder (thanks, Kate!), and wondered how it could fit in our lives.

Throughout my career as an Early Childhood teacher, I've questioned the disparity between our cultural view of childhood and children, which is becoming increasingly complex, and our provisions for children in both educational and care settings, and family settings. On the one hand, we all (generally) agree that young children are capable and competent, able to engage actively in their own learning. That young children learn best when engaged in meaningful, purposeful play, especially when the adults around them practise sustained shared thinking.

Yet, play has becoming a sterilized version of what it once was. The gang of kids riding bikes down to the river or into the bush to spend the day, that I remember from my childhood, seem to have disappeared. Spiky plants have been removed from preschools, climbing trees banned by local councils and doing a handstand or cartwheel in some public schools will see you with a detention. How will children learn to calculate risk and choose appropriate behaviour if we adults just remove all the risk? Isn't it better to support the child to assess their own risks?

I must admit, when we moved to the beach, the difference in the way children are parented kind of scared me. My teacher brain calculated the myriad risks on the beach- large spaces for running away, rocks for banging heads, water for drowning- and I wondered if I would ever manage to be as relaxed as the other parents. My confidence grew as I watched my kids become more familiar- and therefore safer- with the beach. And today, Beach Kindy began!
We took a blanket to sit on, a basket to collect things, and some fruit, water and bikkies for morning tea.
We began with noticing: looking around and talking about what we see. The idea will be to start with this each time, so that we can think about changes over time. We noticed lots of seaweed, a bird with long legs and a long beak walking through the weed, and lots of logs, big and small.
Next we did some wandering and collecting.
Someone had been doing some building. We sat in the "little house" and had morning tea. Then we wandered some more and did some digging in the sand, making cakes and singing favourite counting songs.
A natural playground. The way it should be.


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