Friday, December 31, 2010

Baby bunting, very cute pants, Mums ceci ripieni

Mum's ceci ripieni

With the excitement of Christmas and its many late nights behind me, there was finally a moment to dust off the flour, clear the table, and start sewing.

So regardless of the mess and the awaiting laundry, the clink and whirr of the sewing machine could be heard. I'd wanted to make Circe a bunting with her name for ages but never found the time. With a supply of sweets brought home from Christmas at Mum's (including ceci ripieni, a traditional Abruzzesi treat consisting mainly of pureed chic peas and chocolate with cinnamon, ground almond, sultanas and a thick rich grape reduction called mosto cotto or vin cotto, encased in a crostoli-like pastry and fried rolled in sugar and cinnamon. But that's another post...) With one of these in hand and a cup of tea the minutes and hours seemed all the sweeter and life seems good.
it's not blue, it's lavender
But the bunting. My recent purchase of some bargain lilac linen cotton blend fabric bought for two dollars a metre was the perfect texture and colour for her room. A free template from Purl bee was used to cut the triangle shape with Aaron's mum's treasured pinking shears (this stops fraying and means no hemming required). The letters and very cute bird motif I made up were cut after the fabric for each had been fused with interfacing making, them sturdier and easier to cut. The letters and motif were then stitched to the linen triangles, this was easy. I had folded a one-centimetre hem along the top edge of the raw edge of the linen, just for neatness. A purple cotton trim was then stitched into place with a straight stitch, and it all strung together perfectly. So happy were both little Circe and I with the result, and with my sewing itch only barely scratched, several days worth of projects were already in my mind.
blue bird
The following day, I made my very first piece of clothing. In the morning Aaron had cut up a bed sheet to make pj bottoms. I'd broken down after years of nagging and bought him some for Christmas, but he rejected them all: elastic too tight, too flumfy, didn't like stripes.

He used one of the Meet me at Mike's patterns. Well lets just say they are interesting pants. He claims all the "errors" are part of the design, they are not bad. You can see some of them in the photo.
pants pants
After lunch I had my own go. Words cannot explain the satisfaction you get when you finish these cute little pants. Even more rewarding was seeing the mega cuteness of these tiny pants on my fourteen-month-old. There will be many more where these came from, I am in love with making pants, so in love we are all going to be wearing comfy pants.
Both patterns came from a Pip Lincoln's book called "Sew la tea do." This book is fantastic as is "Meet me at Mikes," Pip's first book that the website is named after. She is also a local Melbourne girl, part of the crafting movement here. These are two of my most favourite and well used books: easy to follow patterns of adorable things. Included are these pants as well as heaps of great easy projects, like softies, useful wallets, bags, belts wrap skirt, the list goes on. With this book under ones arm a seamstress can be made, can I call myself that yet?

The cute fabric came from my Mum, too, it was a curtain belonging to someone they knew. I am often the recipient of things "to be given away". Some people (including my parents) think that because I op-shop that I will take anything. I was on this occasion quite thrilled at the inherited curtain.

It had already become a sleepover bag and now some pants, re-purposing fabric is brilliant.

I may not have had a lamington in hand whilst sewing as Pip Lincoln would, but hey the supply of Mums Ceci ripeni keep coming, at least till the New Year. I love Mum for knowing how much these are loved in my house.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

seven days of baking makes one weak

I have had a week where I think I have worn a track along the floor in my kitchen. There was much mixing, dusting, measuring, chopping and grating. The smells reminded me of why I love Christmas, it isn't the presents it's the baking. This year I went on a frenzy.  When I wasn't in the kitchen pulling out a tray of something, I was out re-stocking the dry goods. Because, you know, three kilos of muesli didn't quite seem enough.
we're so baked!reds and greens
Also baked was beautiful gingerbread, Cointreau truffles, florentines, and a chocolate and almond cake. With almond praline. Frenzy! The tiniest of my tiny helpers discovered the beaters and just how good they are, since this week also saw her begin to walk. And therefore pull up onto a stool to see what's cooking. This is all good, I am accustomed to many hands getting a go at stirring or cracking eggs.
The packaging up of all these baked goods was just as much fun as the baking. There was some welcome help from Bea who made the tags, she is the typewriter queen. Finally we made some linen bread bags with a drawstring for a couple of friends, I loved the look and feel of these bags, they were simple to make and made lovely personal gifts.
serious muesli
production line
My baking done and my kitchen still needing a good scrub, I will be glad for the days ahead to catch up on some unfinished sewing. I have the children placing orders now: A bean bag, a back pack, an origami wallet, a letter satchel, and a pencil roll case. Frenzy!

Toasted cranberry and almond muesli
I love this eaten straight out of the jar without milk, sprinkle over yoghurt,Yum, and what a nice gift this makes at Christmas
500g honey
100g light olive oil
1 cup of apple juice
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 kg rolled oats
800g almonds* chopped or flaked
200g shaved or shredded coconut
125g sunflower seeds
200g pepitas
200g sweetened cranberries
* you could use hazelnuts here instead, or a combination of the two.

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line trays with baking paper.
Warm honey, olive oil, apple juice and cinnamon in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring to combine.
Mix oats, almonds, seeds, cranberries and coconut in a large bowl.
Pour the warm honey mixture over the top. toss to combine.
Spread the mixture onto the baking trays. Toast for 15 min checking and stirring halfway.
You will need to divide this mix over 5 batches, to toast evenly and quickly.
Cool and pop in the next tray. All can be tossed into the large bowl to cool before packaging.

Makes about eight 500g bags.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

note well

It's Saturday morning. It's the day after my daughter's tenth birthday sleepover/end-of-school party. We are all looking a little tired. I'm roused out of bed to the cries of "we're hungry!"

Eight children in my house and one baby, I am momentarily thinking this is Aaron's old dream a ridiculous number of kids in our house. Ohh wait a moment, he is still dreaming 'cause I am the one waking to these nine hungry children. He's winding the doona around his head.
sleepover wreckage
I begin the waffle making production line. I have to declare that they must: entertain the baby, stay out of the kitchen, and leave me alone until I have at least nine waffles. Otherwise there will be chaos and impatience, and possibly biting.

There is something so sweet though, seeing a heap of kids sitting at a table eating. There is a humbleness to it, it's a little like when you put them to bed and they are still and quiet. It is a human necessity - to come to halt, to do what is necessary, to survive.

The day before, on the way home from  school with four kids in tow, the afternoon of the party and wondering how I'm going to keep sixteen little hands busy.  My daughter has a love of stationery- Kikki K, smiggle, Typo - she just melts when she's in these stores. I have mentioned before our obsession for notebooks, we have heaps of them. The kids draw in them, stick things in, anything.

At a stoplight I thought well why don't we make our own notebooks?  Short some supplies, I  had to make a hasty decision: to pull them all out of the car to pick up the few bits I needed, or to forget the idea all together. Any time you take children to the shops it is a real gamble, no matter whether it is one of them or four. Particularly if it is a store with buttons, sequins and reels and reels of thread. 

I decide at the last turn that I will take the chance. Better to risk it than regret being cautious. An hour later, back in the car, and I had all the craft supplies.  We'd even stopped at the pie shop for some sustenance, and  picked up a live Christmas tree as well. "What on earth Mum," says Phoenix at some point, I can always be reassured that I am going a little insane whenever he says this.  My spontaneity paid off though, ok maybe not the tree part. Little did I know how allergic I'd be to this tree.

Back to Saturday morning.  Post waffles (and post clear up) there was a the laying out of materials. Beautiful printed stock card, multiple stamping blocks, fabric letters, a ream of A4 office paper. 
busy busy
I showed the girls how to measure and cut the card to size, I didn't have to provide much input and they were off. They chose their paper mixed and matched designs, I stitched the spines and any motifs they had cut out to add to the cover. We then thought pockets for little special things stitched into the books would be really good. What was great about all of this was that we used no tape or glue, they were cooperating and sharing their ideas, it was brilliant. Even Phoenix in amongst the girls sat and made his own book for his comic strips.
We then got even more adventurous, Aaron came in with a big map of Victoria for us to cut up as well. I thought yeah, this is why we are married Mr, because you are on the same creative page as me. I then requested graph paper and cha-ching he had some and we were having a great time.

There was a chorus of 'this is so much fun.'  There is nothing better than hearing that at a party you have organised. I was having just as good a time as they were. There is always such pressure to put on a really great party. I had wanted it just to be a hanging out party, and I wanted these girls to have fun at their friends  place at her Birthday slumber.  Had these girls not needed to return to their own homes, we would have been there all afternoon.
final product
Parties for kids can be so overdone so over-rated and so expensive. This party cost me very little, I made home-made pizzas and nachos. We love a celebratory bowl of fruit punch to drink, made with cranberry, ginger ale, pinapple juice, sliced peaches, and strawberries.  Two years back I had a chocolate fondue for them to dip fruit into.  That was so successful, for a slight twist on that I had set up  'make your own' ice cream bar.  Heavens.  I think any time you dish stuff into little bowls and let them add what they like, you are bound to succeed.

There was cake of course the third cake for this epic birthday, although served along side ice cream will ensure you have a lot of leftovers. Popcorn, a couple of movies, and dancing during Lizzie Maquire at midnight. Then probably falling asleep mid-sentence at three am, what could be better than that?

Thursday, December 16, 2010


seasons greetings
I have been loath to take out my Christmas box of decorations. I have felt no motivation to do so. I feel I am however committing some kind of mortal sin if I don't.

I know it's nice to get these things out every year and reminisce where each bit came from. A few things in there have to go, those blue baubles maybe. The dreaded glass snow globe that plays jingle bells, definitely. Every single time the kids reach for it I have a coronary. I don't like it, but I don't want them dropping it either.

I have taken just one thing out of the box, a cut out angel that Beatrix drew seven years ago. It's on my dining table, hanging from some pine needles. She had made one for each of her teachers from three-year-old kinder, one recently told me they still pull that angel out every Christmas.
jug angel
I wanted more heart in my Christmas this year, more soul. This little paper angel of hers got me thinking about simplicity, and about the beauty in making do.

I know I am not like most people as Christmas comes around. I never queue up for the photo with Santa, I don't threaten my kids with him not coming to you like every other parent I hear in the shops these last few days. I just think it all too much.

But, is it wrong of me to deny my children tinsel? I hate the stuff. Even as a child I disliked fiddling with it, it never looked right, ours was always thin and had lost most of its bits so it was really just string. My kids can get their tinsel fix elsewhere. I can never tear them away from the trees in the shopping malls. I drive a little slowly by the house with the tackiest of Christmas decorations on our way to school, they love it. I am not entirely depriving them.

This year I was inspired to take away the materialism that comes with Christmas. I wanted to make do with what bits and pieces I had about the place to create some new decorations. My spare room is filled: beautiful fabric scraps from my neighbour, my roll of french string I am in love with, the metres and metres of linen aprons I bought for a dollar each at Ikea.

Those aprons have made cushions, bags, owls, even a bird shaped pillow. Aaron has made a calendar out of one. It was the best ten dollars I have ever spent.
you can make a quick trick hat stack
I had a heap of ideas and limited available time. Eliza is in love with heart shapes - she cuts them out, she draws them, she likes to feel her own heart beating. I thought this would be the perfect thing to make with her.

I pulled out my bags remnants of beautiful fabrics I am so very lucky to receive from my wonderful neighbour. I would never be able to buy some of these bits and pieces they'd be very expensive and I couldn't just pick them up at spotlight.

I remembered some pieces of a beautiful silver fabric, fabric that reminded me of my antique oroton glow mesh purse, but had never known what to do with it. We cut out some simple heart shapes and stitched and stuffed them and attached some string, teamed them with some linen ones for contrast. I had found a nice bit of branch outside school which had of course loaded into the car. I hung those hearts from the branches.

I was excited too about transforming my mantle. I it change whenever I am bored or am inspired by something I see. My lounge is fairly colourful. I own an Ikea rug which has multi-coloured squares, I love this rug. My mantle therefore needs to be striking but low key. I think I succeeded.

A few days later I made some small tissue pom poms to also sit along side the hearts. None of this is perfect or from a pattern. I am freestyle, rustic, fraying at the seams. Anything goes there is no right or wrong.
the beach

I thought about making a wreath out of some sticks I usually do one every year, but now that they were out I kept looking my remnants and thinking I am surely able to make something? I was inspired by SouleMamma to make a fabric wreath.

I couldn't find a suitable pattern so Aaron and I made it up as I went along. There were many laughs whilst making this, I believe I had one of those "I haven't laughed like this in ages" times.

I began with a length of fabric sewn into a tube, double stitched for strength. It has to be stuffed it full with stuffing, it needs to be quite hard, firmer than a draught snake. This is where the laughs came in. Then about three inches are left unstuffed at the ends and tied off with rubber bands. The ends got tied together, trying to get a circle shape. I cut small lengths of fabric and wrapped then around the wreath, with some french string as I went along adding more bits of fabric, all reds and cream. I added a couple of buttons, to decorate and just because I love buttons. In an hour I had my wreath. I have now learnt that a foam round wreath is available at spotlight, my life would have been a little easier had I seen that sooner. Although we would not have had the laughs like we did.


At the beginning of the Christmas hooo haa my kids remembered my advent calendar of years past, I use small white paper bags, like the ones you'd get at the milk bar for your 20 cents of mixed lollies. I hole punched the bags in the middle of each along the top and fed the string through string a knot with each bag to keep it in place as you are making a line of 25 bags to be strung up. I strung mine on the doorway to my lounge room. I stamped each bag from 1 to 25. Other than the lollies I didn't have to purchase anything to make this.

I am now pestered daily for today's lolly. I also didn't factor an extra lollie for our other daughter, Bea's best friend. There have been many a teary compromise over these lollies.

One of the highlights of this Christmas had to be assembling a fifty-two year old pop out Christmas scene from 1958. I remember being sent this by Aaron's mum a few years ago. I was a little hesitant to get this out, to show Aaron, I thought it might make him really sad. It did make him sad, but he said it was fine, it was good even.

I had wanted to wait till the kids were old enough to appreciate the importance and the oldness of this beautiful cardboard scene. We cleared the table and sat around carefully pushing out and assembling the bits. Cardboard really gets fragile over time so we were very careful. Do note the particularly quaint little chair. There were many ahhhs when one of us would assemble our particular bit: a bed, a fireplace, a doll's house.
Things went wrong a bit, towards the end.

I had really wanted this putting-it-together time to be nice, really co-operative. But as is the case with a lot of what I set up as being ideal in my mind I get a little disheartened when it doesn't quite go as I wanted. This was ironic considering we were assembling a "happy family" scene. It had been a tense day, I had earlier stormed out on everybody that day, to go where I didn't know. I'd ended up at a movie, trying to enjoy being alone but missing my family all the same.

So when it went wrong, I felt it. I heard Aaron tell Eliza as she was having major tears over the final assembling, that Granma would want you to be happy. I had a tear there. I often think of Aaron's mum, watching over Eliza, the little one she so wanted to meet but didn't.
rockwell in paper
We are not the picture perfect family of the Christmas scene. We don't have the 2.5 children with cat and dog, nor do I look anything like the Mum when I am going to bed. Aaron doesn't even own pyjamas let alone a dressing gown, believe me I get an ear full on the "why don't you buy me PJs." We don't even have a tree as yet. And if I don't get to Christmas shopping soon, I can assure you my kids are not going to look so darn sweet.

But still, when the thing was all assembled Aaron and I and the kids stood, arms around each, and looked at it proudly. With my picture-perfect Christmas sitting on my shelf and my easy-on-the-eye-mantle, I can find some solace in the madness come this time of year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


this counts as a candle, originally uploaded to the brenneman photo set.
'Where was I ten years ago' was my big question this week. Ten years is a long time, in ten years a lot should change. It is the time frame of those long term goals, those goals aaron always goes on about us not achieving.

Ten years ago I was carrying my first child, I didn't know what he or she would look like or how I'd be as a mother. I knew I would stop work, that I would devote myself to this baby and that I would do the best job I could possibly do. I didn't know that I would spend the first two years waiting—waiting to hear their voice, waiting for them to crawl, to walk, to talk. I didn't know how much I'd relish those moments.  My full time work was over and I was glad of that, my work as a mother was more than enough.  My plans included another child, and a life where I could paint when I wanted and look after the kids as well. Four children later and I would never trade this life, my life for anything.

My canvas and my paints eagerly await my return.  Nearly, I keep saying, nearly.

made paper IImake your life into art
made paper I
That child, the one I was carrying ten years ago, had her birthday this week. I thought 'what was I like when I was ten?'  I began to compare my ten-year-old self to her.  I remember wanting to be a fashion designer, I drew girls in the outfits I would conjure up out of my wardrobe. I listened to my walkman, she listens to her I pod. I would walk to the local shops on errands for my mum and walk home from school, she has only once walked to the post box with a friend and she was ecstatic to have done that, she is driven to school. I didn't really read a whole lot at that age, it was later that I would get into Judy Blume. She on the other hand devours books, the scope and variety she is exposed to I never even knew existed. I remember painting a clown on a canvas at this age, I remember thinking it was really good. She is drawing still lives, making patterns, drawing manga. She draws like she is lost in another world. I was like that when I was in year twelve. She speaks and communicates so eloquently and can negotiate and discuss anything.

I was quiet at home, especially if my Dad was around. My relatives thought I was shy. My sisters thought of me as, well, not really there. I was good at pretending to sleep at night, to soak things in and keeping them as secrets. There were many things to soak in from your teenage sisters. It was only when Dad was not home could I be the at home person my daughter is now. Joking, laughing, being a kid.
the three
My newly turned ten-year-old is all that I wish I had been at her age. I see myself in her when she is with her friends, when she is drawing, when she is struggling with her maths. But mostly at ten, I didn't even know kids like her existed. I cannot possibly imagine where someone like her can go in their life. The miles ahead of my ten year old self that she is now. I am excited and eager to see where her life takes her.

I didn't ever learn to really sew, or to make clothes or to become the designer I wanted to be. But in my late thirties I found that I was actually really happy behind a machine, that I actually could follow a pattern. I wanted to make something special for her tenth birthday, something Mamma made. I may not be sewing them pants and dresses but a fully lined bag seemed do-able.
1 am
Turns out though that tricky doesn't even begin to cover it. I wanted this to be a big bag, large enough to to put all her things in for all those sleep overs. Girls like to carry a lot of stuff, this I learnt begins at age three.

A 1970's print curtain was the perfect weight and the right design to go with the cute turquoise polka dot fabric I had, not at all a conscious decision to use a fabric design  from my childhood. A front pocket was a must, she is writing a diary and has been all year. Of course a cool girl like her would do such a thing.

I am ever so glad that she has recorded her life this year, in her series of diaries, three volumes in total which are more like little collages of her life. I love the little drawings, the large font dates on some pages, the stuck-in pages from when she was at a sleepover and had forgotten her diary. Some pages are typed, some are Eliza drawn, mostly they are indelibly etched, recorded for all time. She will have them to read when she is like me, my age, me right now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

giving thanks

primary, originally uploaded to the brenneman photo set.
The first Thanksgiving I ever had was in an old underwear factory.

We were living in my studio which was in one end of this massive space. We had all we needed in this our first home we had a shared kitchen which housed a table that would seat 20. We had some wonderful times in this place - a Star Trek how to host a murder party, our first Halloween together, a 40th birthday for a friend where the place was lit up with 50 candles on candelabras and glitter on the floor. We would latter use the candelabras for our wedding.

I have fond memories of this place and sad ones too where I was trying to feel grown up, struggling to make ends meet but feeling the love of the man I choose to be with. For this I decided to take on some of his traditions and Thanksgiving was one of them.
pioneer seeda crooked chair
We began a ritual of inviting the people closest to us and giving them a recipe to make and bring along. Lots of variety there: We have had some strange spoon bread made by our dear friends who are now residing in the US (we were all a little hesitant to even eat it), beautiful pumpkin pies, wonderful candied yams, and even the occasional coconut cream pie!
One friend always brings a big pot of garlic mash potato, we all look forward to this, in fact if she is late we just wait. We have had some neighbours come and go, this year we missed our end-of-the street neighbours, they are travelling abroad, we invited our recently-moved-out neighbours, who are pining for their old street and all of us.
gelatine and sugar
I always invite family too, but I think I have never managed to ever have them all here. Even one here makes me happy.

Every Thanksgiving I used to always know where my mother in law would be, there would be a phone call a week before where she'd let us know who she would be spending it with. Special occasions like Thanksgiving make me miss those calls, she hasn't been with us for almost two years.
skillet IIIthrice fried I
This year I made cornbread in her cast iron skillet, I laid out her linen cross-stitched table cloth, surely made by her also dearly departed sister. I made Haystacks for Aaron from his Mom's recipes. This is how we choose to remember her by using the things her hands would have touched hundreds of times.

I thought too of my Father-in-law whom passed away this year, I thought of how thankful I was that he meet three of my children when last we were over there. I know how much it means now to Aaron to hold your family dear. I am thankful to be here for my partner to have had four beautiful children together, I am thankful for the memories.
table shot

Saturday, November 27, 2010

quick, scarf it

100%, originally uploaded by various brennemans.
I was so pleased the other day to have had some time to fossick the fabric store. I'd had in mind that I wanted to make a simple scarf that required little skill no measuring, and that I could make in a spare hour.

Beatrix loves to wear light scarves ,so I picked up some stretch jersey which I just cut to about 20 cm and about 1 m long. I then stitched a cute trim with a faint floral pattern to compliment the watermelon colour I'd chosen. There was no need to over lock, a zig zag would do before you added the trim, but I didn't. This was to be as simple as possible.

Once the trim was attached I then folded it over the edge of the fabric along the entire scarf and stitched on the other side. Carefully tucking and sewing a neat edge on all four corners. That's it.
I loved that when finished it didn't look crooked and in fact the non stretch trim and the stretchy jersey actually gave it a kind of accidental ruffle edge. The next morning Miss Bea had a new scarf to wear to school, Eliza is already placing her order.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

what a lot of waffle

I'd been a little preoccupied these last two weeks. I've been doing a lot of clearing out of things, we do this whenever we are a little restless. A friend said "you guys either rearrange the furniture or get a skip."  I'd already re arranged my mantle at the beginning of spring so I guess a skip it would have to be.  I cleared out eight bags of stuff for the opp shop last weekend, just from one room, my spare room/studio.

I've come to be very ruthless. We all know the principle of a spring clean: If you've not used it or worn it in the last year, then you don't need it.

In our house we have a few surfaces as we all do and regardless of how clean it is now in a day or two the stuff will slowly begin to pile. The odd CD out of its case, a peg a sock, notebooks (we have a love of notebooks, everyone one of us). I cannot help but be reminded of the Absolutly Fabulous episode where the minimalist friend had a white room, so white that even the surfaces where invisible. I am not saying I want that, It just always makes us laugh when we try to clear the surfaces.

uri's pie
In all of my clearing up there was still room for cooking. During my clearing out I baked a pumpkin pie. I'd been left all on my own for several hours, Sheryl Crowe came out her case and rocked the house whilst I baked and cleaned.  That was a great pie, so good in fact that I realised that with every serve I'd offer to someone I'd cut myself another sliver, I think I polished off 3/4 of one pie all to myself. Thankfully I'd baked two.

This weekend there was some waffle making, made in the woddle. I am not a fan of gadjets however this little woddle maker was a great purchase. They are penguin shaped, and so darn cute. They have a scooped out belly for ice cream or berries, these woodles get made about once a fortnight. This time I made some carmalised apple to go with, the apple was just so perfect, the sauce silky and sweet.
food groups
After the woodles there was a request from little Eliza. She'd gone about her day, playing with dolls carting a little pram filled with oddities, including notebooks of course. She stopped at midday and was in a flutter, when she is frustrated she tries really hard to verbalise what is bothering her. On this occasion she couldn't remember what it was called she could only remember it had to do with the waffles. There were some major tears, a lot of repititan on both our parts, "waffles, but you've had waffles?" to which she'd reply "Waffles, I can't say, I can't remember, I don't know the word!"  Ohhh the agony. 
breakfast thread
Finally she took the book and found the picture near the waffles... of Sushi. Now after all this frustration you would move heaven and Earth to make Sushi happen. She had however displayed the warning signs that any leaving of the house could be bad. I pulled out some Nori sheets and said you can make sushi with Dad, trying to throw this one into his court.
anticipation of riceavacodo

So there was some Sushi goings on with dad and big sister Bea, whist I took Phoenix out for some satay and mango lassi at Thom Phat. We sat in the low lying sofa by the massive open out window to the street. This was nice and he discovered he loved Satay. The satay being so yummy the woman gave us a tub to take home, when I'd asked for a doggy bag. This became part of our chicken roti wraps for dinner that night and there were leftovers for two days in his lunch box.
cafe au lait
Aaron and I did manage to steal  some time  on Sunday to enjoy our breakfast of some potato rosti, poached eggs spinach and tomato and some caffe au lait, we like to sip it in bowls, a little bit betty blue. We wondered how three kids could be all busy in their room making a stop motion of some LEGO, but we didn't ask.  It was happening, they were happy, and we sipped our coffee.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

labour intensive

love note
I woke up this morning to a beautifully clean floor. My bed socks slid across the floor, there was a scent of cucumber in the air, the bench was clear, the table clean.

I go to bed before Aaron most of the time, he's a night owl. He can even see in the dark which is funny because he can't see under normal circumstances. He has a place in the shed where he works at night, he likes it out there. He is writing a novel, and has been for almost two years.

I have strayed from my initial telling of my clean floor, I leave a chore list before I go to bed. That may sound bizarre in fact it isn't the way I want it to be, but it's what works that matters.

In my mind I have this picture perfect image of a Mum and Dad doing the dishes together, whilst the kids frollic in their white cotton Pyjamas reading stories and brushing teeth, a little like The sound of music. Actually if it were the sound of Music I'd have a Nanny and I wouldn't be writing this. Well it isn't quite so orderly here at bedtime. There is maybe half put on pjs, some unfinished diary writing, some jumping off the top bunk down onto the huge teddy or a stack of pillows.

In short there can be some shenanigans at this time of night.

There can also be some tender moments where one of the kids is reading to Eliza. The fact is that Aaron can be a little late home and therefore only one of us can make some headway in the clearing up of dinner, that is usually me. I don't actually really mind this time. I mean sometimes they can be a little hard work at this time of night, they're hyperactive, or down right having a melt down about somebody at school or what eliza has touched or made her own for that day. I know I don't really want to be involved in any of these goings-ons. I know that I have my hand in warm water and for about 20 minutes nobody is talking to me, that is heaven in my world.

Sometimes however I am picturing a different scenario, one that involves a glass of wine, a hello Honey how was your day? whilst we wash dishes together and talk. Instead, I do all the dishes and make the lunches for the following day. It is usually about 8.30 by the time I am done. I then leave a chore list with say three or four items, like take out bin, recycling, compost, folding, and maybe mopping of kitchen floor.

I have to be specific in my list, I need to say where the clothes to be folded are, I need to say which floor and then he likes a check box for each. Crazy, I know but it works, he likes it that way.

I have tried to argue that the kids don't see him do the housework and therefore that he is not actually being a good role model even though he is by actually doing his bit. I think it's important that Phoenix sees his Dad taking part in cleaning, I think it's important for the girls to see that women aren't the only ones who clean.

I know when I was growing up I cannot recall a single time I saw my dad do any dishes or cook anything. He did however buy groceries and he would be the one to take us to buy our shoes, I even remember being taken to buy a pretty yellow gingham swing dress with little goldfish along the hem. Odd the way that ought to have been something you'd expect your Mum to do, yet my Dad did most of that stuff. Probably because Mum never drove and still has never learnt.

I think that although I don't entirely like this set-up, I don't think I want to give up the morning surprise of a clean floor and a stack of beautifully folded laundry. I have told you about the way he folds haven't I?

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