Friday, January 27, 2012

Perth's Heat Wave

Painting above by Debbie Miller

Today after an early morning errand, we've shut ourselves up inside and cranked up the air-conditioning as we're in for another scorcher today. Perth is going through a heat wave at the moment and after 41 degrees yesterday, the same is forecast for today. Since last weekend, we've had temperatures over 38 and this pattern is set to continue with 42 expected on Sunday too. Strangely though, we actually had a shower of rain and thunder and lightning last night too.

For Australia Day yesterday, we headed to the river for an early morning splash and tomorrow, we might go to the beach for a dip as soon as Sophie wakes (although we need to buy a beach umbrella first). On Sunday, I have my best friend's baby shower afternoon tea which I've been helping her organise. Our initial plans for a relaxing backyard afternoon tea were tipped upside down with this heat so now we're plannning a party indoors which I think will probably work out better anyway.

So today, we're not doing much other than hanging around indoors, doing quiet activities in the cool. I've promised Grace we'd play shops after morning tea so I'm off to be 'shop keeper'...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gracie Girl

After my update on Sophie last week, I thought this week I’d do an update on my ‘Gracie girl.’ Every day, I think about how blessed our family is to have her in it. Since having Sophie, Grace seems to have grown up SO much. Goodbye toddler. Hello little girl.

We’ve been lucky that through the past few tough months, Grace has been an angel. Paul and I are always saying, “she’s just such a good kid” and she really is. She has a beautiful nature and a sweet personality but also a cheeky little streak and a great sense of fun. The other day as I was preparing dinner, she looked up at me chopping an onion and said, “Don’t worry Mummy, if it stings your eyes I will get that tea-tower (tea towel) there and wipe them for you.”

Lately, she’s become so independent. I hear the phrases, “no, I’ll do it” or “I did it all by myself Mummy’ a hundred times a day. She wants to brush her own hair, put on her clothes, go to the toilet and hop in the car seat all by herself. Consequently, being unable to do such tasks can sometimes lead to a lot of frustration.

As for her big sister role, she relishes being the older sibling and is a real mother hen with Sophie. The other day, I popped out of the room and returned to find Grace fussing over her little sister. “There was just a little bit of chuck on Sophie so I wiped it off with a chuck cloth,” she said as she dabbed Sophie’s mouth.

From the moment she wakes, Grace talks non-stop. She’s a real chatterbox. It’s exhausting at times but so very entertaining. She is inquisitive and asks hundreds of questions, commentates everything and has an amazing vocabulary. Just yesterday as Grace and I wandered around the markets, she amazed a stallholder by pointing to a plant and saying, “Look Mummy, a frangipani!”

As she always has, Grace continues to love the outdoors. She’d be happy playing outside and pottering around in the yard all day if I let her. She is a real animal lover and often tells me that Asha is her best friend. She has no fear and doesn’t think twice about trying to pick up critters like lizards. Yet as much as she doesn’t stop, she’s equally happy to sit down and colour in at the kitchen table or create things with her play-doh for a good length of time. She is VERY neat and her colouring-in continues to amaze everyone. My teacher friends say she’s neater than half of their six year old students. She loves her stuffed animals and brings a whole menagerie of them to bed with her, lining them all up on either side of her along the pillow and tucking them in beneath the sheets. If one is missing, she knows.

I can see that this year with Grace approaching three will be such a fun one for us and I look forward to all the exciting times we will have together. The other night as I gave her a big cuddle I asked, “Do you know how much I love you?” to which she replied,”To the moon?” She’s half right. I love her to the moon AND back…

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cooking Club: Pot Luck Theme

On Monday, we held our first Cooking Club for 2012. I'm so glad my friends were keen to continue with it this year as I really enjoy our little get-togethers where we try out yummy dishes and share new recipes. One of my best friends, Kylie, who is in our group, leaves today for Paris and won't be back for about five months so we wanted to make sure we snuck in a Cooking Club before she left.

We kept things simple this time with a Pot Luck theme and I too restrained myself with the decorating and other usual touches like prizes which I organise. I did however want to give the table a little touch of Paris and so I found some Parisian material in my fabric stash and added some blue, red and white hints to the centrepiece.

Our menu this time consisted of:

• Rice Salad
• Chef’s Salad
• Layered Chicken and Mango Salad
• Potato and Leek Tart
• Empire Chicken
• Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Here is the recipe for the 'easy to prepare ahead of time' Rice Salad which I made:

Rice Salad

Serves 4 - 6

1½ cups brown rice, cooked
4 spring onions, chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
handful chopped parsley
150g raisins
200g cashews
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup green capsicum, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix together olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, mustard and vinegar. Stir through cooked rice. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcoming Guests Into Your Home

Image above from Home and Harmony - oh to have such a pretty front door!!

Recently, I taped a few things to watch while breastfeeding Sophie and found myself enjoying an episode of The Darling Buds Of May. For those not familiar with the series, it features the boisterous Larkin family and their life on Hope Farm, a family who welcomed anyone and everyone who entered their home with generous hearts and plenty of drink and food.

It made me think about the guests who find their way into my home. Do I make them feel welcome no matter whether they are invited or turn up unexpectedly? Do I have something on hand to offer them to eat or drink or do I have to apologise for my empty fridge and not having done the grocery shopping yet that week?

My Dad used to always tend to pop in for a quick visit and coffee on his way home from work, usually around the time when I was preparing tea. His timing definitely wasn’t intentional though. Sometimes, I would ask him to join us and make the meal stretch to feed three. Other times, I’d only bought two pieces of steak or only had enough leftover casserole to serve two. I wish now, more than ever that I had somehow ‘made do’, that I had shared the pieces of steak between us three and rustled up some side dish, even if it was only a scoop of baked beans. Dad wouldn’t have minded what was on the menu. He just would have appreciated the invitation and the chance to stay a bit longer and catch up with us.

How do you rate on this type of thing? Do you consider yourself a welcoming host?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sophie's Smiles = One Happy Mama

Time for a Sophie update as so many of you left well wishes, messages of encouragement and were eager to hear how things developed following our stay in hospital a few weeks back. Today she is three months old and we have been seeing a big improvement lately.

After ruling out reflux when her reflux medication made the situation worse, we determined that Sophie's unsettledness was due to a few reasons. Basically a lactose overload caused by my huge milk supply, a fast let down and Sophie's super strong sucking action were giving her an overfull, uncomfortable belly leading to very bad colic. Since our hospital stay, Sophie has been on shorter feeds and has gradually become a much happier baby. I don't know whether it's due to her new feeding regime, the natural colic medicine we've been trying, a few dietary changes I've made or the simple fact that Sophie is getting older but something is helping and I all I know is that it's pure bliss having a smily, more content baby now.

Over the past few tougher months, I've learnt a few things about colic and unsettled babies...

- It's not your fault. Even fantastic mothers can have unsettled babies.

- Try anything and everything. Whether it's one of the many over the counter natural remedies, an old wive's tale, a piece of advice from another mother or a tip you find as you trawl the Internet desperately trying to find a solution... try it. You never know, one may work and if not, you'll feel better trying to do something since there's no 'cure' as such for colic.

- When things start getting tough, overwhelming or stressful, ask for help. I found this hard as I felt like perhaps it was just me thinking that Sophie was so unsettled. Others would often only see her in her 'good moments'.

- You will find yourself unable to relax easily. When your baby is sleeping or quiet, you will be 'on edge' waiting for those cries.

- People will tell you to 'hang in there' or that everything will ease off around the 12 week mark but while you are dealing with an unsettled baby, this may seem hard to believe.

- Eventually, things will get easier and when your happier, smily baby grins at you with love, you too will smile because life is good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Curio Box Transformation

Today I thought I’d share with you a little project I finally completed last week. Back in September using the image at the bottom of this post for inspiration, I bought a little curio display shelf off Etsy as I had been unable to find a similar one in second hand shops. You can see the 'before' version here.

After very carefully removing the remaining glued down miniatures (no easy task due to the strong glue that had been used to adhere them), I gave the whole piece a good scrub with sandpaper. Paul then gave it several coats of spray paint for me. However, the paint didn’t adhere that well to the textured surface of some parts and I ended up using a paint brush to coat the inside walls of each compartment before giving it all one final coat of spray paint. Finally, I cut cute scrapbooking paper to fit the inside of some of the boxes.

I’m really pleased with the end result and now it’s waiting to be hung in Grace’s room. She’s already added a few treasures like shells and leaves and gemstones to it. I also gave her my two precious little owls. Having sentimental value I was always reluctant to let her play with them (especially after she broke one in two pieces when she dropped it on the floorboards and it had to be put back together with Supaglue). However, I recently decided that they would be perfect additions to her ’treasure shelf.’ The smile on her face when I said she could have them was worth more than their sentimental value in the end.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Multitasking And Thinking Ahead

The other night, I was fairly organised for tea but just needed to fry some bacon for the potato salad I had made. Not wanting to risk fat spilling on her with such a task, I palmed Sophie (who was due to go back to sleep) off to Paul. “Just rock her and pat her on the bum while you sit down and colour in with Grace,” I told him. As Sophie’s cries became louder, Paul suddenly dropped his bundle, “I can’t do it,” he said. “How can you expect me to do two things at once? I can’t settle Sophie and play with Grace at the same time.”

I laughed. Welcome to my world.

As a Mum to two under two and a half, I’ve learnt that multitasking involves doing a minimum of ten things at once. For example, I find myself hunting around the house for clothes so I can throw on a load of washing while I help Grace do a jigsaw puzzle, carry around Sophie and begin to organise dinner all at the same time.

I no longer walk from room to room with one purpose. If I head into our room to grab a nappy for Sophie, I’ll bring some clothes I’ve just taken off the line and folded with me to put away. On my way out again, I’ll collect a toy Grace has left lying in the hallway.

As well as multitasking, thinking ahead has become routine. I’ll sometimes set out clothes to wear the night before so I’ll make less noise in our bedroom (where Sophie’s bassinette is) in the morning. Plates and cutlery for tea are often waiting on the kitchen bench in the afternoon. Components of meals are made in advance to take advantage of moments when Sophie is sleeping or settled. One morning recently, I had boiled eggs and potatoes for a salad, poached some chicken and cooked some rice all before ten o’clock to make meal preparations for the following three days that little bit easier.

I realise that this pace of life is just a stage and that as Sophie gets older each month, daily life will become easier but I also realise it’s important that each day, I have a little bit of time to just be in the ‘now’. As someone told me recently, I need to sit down and just have a cuppa and take some time for me occasionally too. And so, that is what I’ve been aiming to do more of lately –to wander around in our yard seeing how things are growing, to browse a few blogs or write a post, to sit down with a magazine and a cuppa and to learn to appreciate simple daily pleasures without worrying about whether the dishes have been done or being bothered by a pile of washing yet to be folded… and most importantly, to enjoy all the special daily moments with my two precious girls.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Current Ikea ‘To Buy’ List

I think a trip to Ikea in the near future is in need. While browsing online recently, I wound up at their site and it was here that I found several new items to add to my wishlist.

Back in August, I had seen a cane armchair on Gumtree which I was disappointed to miss out on. Since then, I’ve been hunting for one with Paul still saying ‘why don’t you just find a new one you like that you won’t have to bother painting.” I do really like this one from Eco Chic, but it has a hefty price tag and I don’t want to really buy a chair online when I haven’t actually sat in it. Then, I discovered the new Ikea chair above. So long as it’s comfy when I sit in it and a suitable size, it looks perfect for what I have in mind.

The lanterns above would also be lovely on our patio where we are hoping to inject a bit of character. I like the effect of glowing candles when entertaining outdoors in the evenings and now that we’re hoping to have more barbecues, we need to add a few more around the place.

Have you been to Ikea lately? What was your most recent purchase?

Image from Ikea Share Space found via marte meee
Image #2
marte meee (originally from the Ikea website)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Firstly, I must apologise for taking so long to draw the winner of my giveaway. Between our stay in hospital and the busy Christmas / New Year period, it wasn’t at the top of my priority list. But I’ve finally added all your names to the bowl and had my little helper above pick out a name.

The winner of my giveaway is Kate of Mamma Musing. Congratulations! Please send me an email to the address on my sidebar to let me know your postal details and I’ll get your goodies in the mail to you as soon as possible.

Thank you all for entering.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve with little ones isn’t quite the same and so ours was a quiet night at home. I was tucked up in bed by ten o’clock which I find is the latest I can stay up these days without feeling exhausted the next morning.

At this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on the twelve months that have passed and making plans for the ones ahead. Looking back on the goals I had set myself for 2011, I was happy to see that several had been completed. I finished Grace’s first year album, started up my Cooking Club, had a few little child-free outings once in a while and not only became pregnant, but also had our bub Sophie in the same year. Unfortunately, my intentions of learning to crochet and improving my photography skills will have to roll over to this year’s list.

I have lots of plans floating around in my head for 2012. Lots of homely projects I’d like to complete. Places around town I’d like to visit. Things I’d like to learn (like crocheting and using our DSLR). Activities I want to try with Grace. Recipes I want to cook. However, my motto for the moment is to slow down and enjoy the simple daily pleasures that make my life so special, to live in the ‘now’ and to take each day as it comes.

And so on that note, I wanted to wish all of you out there a Happy New Year. I hope 2012 is one filled with much happiness for you. Thank you to all those who read my blog, who take the time to leave comments or send me emails and who make my whole blogging experience such an important part of my days. Here’s to a wonderful year for us all!