Friday, February 28, 2014

This week : : Thinking

This week I've been thinking about ...

food : : wanting to be more organised, more frugal and more adventurous
but having to balance that with my food intolerances 
and whatever else is going on in my life (stress, tiredness)
Laura has at last shown an interest in healthy eating
and now the pressure is on for me to provide healthy (gf/vegetarian) school lunches.
Something I've been hoping for, but now lunches require more planning
than throwing together a PB&J sandwich.

Today I bought this cookbook,
and am looking forward to trying some of the recipes (with some adjustments).
This cold and rainy weather is perfect for planning some slowcooked casseroles.
Since I decluttered the kitchen bench and the pantry recently 
I've definitely felt more interest in cooking.

harp : : trying to get those fingers of mine just right
figuring out how harp playing fits into my life
getting to know and understand my harp teacher better.

clothes : : inspired by my recently decluttered kitchen bench and pantry,
am now trying to work towards a more minimalist wardrobe.
But finding that I own more clothes by the end of this week
than I did at the beginning - oops! Shopping tends to do that.
Hopefully my new purchases will at least make for a more coordinated wardrobe.
This thrifted t-shirt was one of my favourite finds at just $5.00.

grace & love : : thoughts chugging away behind the everyday
becoming slowly more aware of God's endless and undeserved love
poured out on we who believe in Him
- a constant theme in books and sermons and discussions at the moment.

thinking about thinking : : isn't it strange that even in a busy week of ups and downs
we can make so many plans, develop ideas and educate ourselves in many directions?
Apparently we think 70 000 thoughts per day.
Sometimes it's good to step back and see where all those thoughts have taken you,
maybe far from where you started.
Hoping good plans are growing in your life too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You know they're growing up ...

... when even your baby goes babysitting.

(Just next door,
just for a couple of hours
just before dark
and with just enough supplies to last a weekend)

She's back home now, mission accomplished.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mother & Harp c.2012

by Laura, 
when I first had a loan of a harp in Nov 2012.

My harp lessons are going well, I think.
Having played whatever I wanted for over a year
with no technique whatsoever,
I am now restricted to using 1 or 2 fingers of each hand at a time
and playing simple exercises until I learn to hold my hands just right.
It's hard work but I am enjoying the challenge
and don't mind the restrictions.
It's good to have a teacher tell me what to do.
It's not just up to me, anymore.
And hearing it in a lovely thick Romanian accent just helps me take it
that bit more seriously, somehow.

As you see in my portrait, it's important to wear
a full skirt or pants for harp playing.
If I wear a straight skirt, I just don't practice that day.
Long white socks and running shoes: optional.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

First Harvest

There's nothing so good as one's first harvest.

Dwarf beans, sown in January 
and enjoyed by Emily with her dinner tonight.
How time does fly.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


A rare bright spot in my garden,
something to cheer an otherwise dark day.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Yesterday I worked at clearing the kitchen bench.  
Really clearing it, this time.
I moved all pens and papers, the fruit bowl that hides clutter and all those mugs and special cups 
that the girls have accumulated but have nowhere to go.
Much better.

With all of last week's crazy to-do list crossed off, this is a fresh new week.
While the rest of the family was busy yesterday, I sat down and
prepared this Thursday's biblestudy for my group -
something that normally I do on Monday or Tuesday and seems HUGE 
when there's so much else to be done. (But it never takes so long as I expect!)
So I could cross that off this week's page already.
Maybe I can get ahead like that every week.

In my tidier, clearer, kitchen I made two loaves of bread, one GF and one regular.
(yey the Thermomix!)

Inspired by the kitchen bench, I kept working on the study desk,
and filing papers into the relevant folders.
(So many papers!)

And now I've started some mulligatawny soup
to bubble away in the slowcooker while I teach piano.
It smells sooooo good.

It's amazing what a clear bench can do!

(Well, that, and the fact that Laura's home sick again with a cold
so I can't leave the house ;-)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lumpy & Laura

Lumpy & Laura.

An affectionate (and somewhat dusty) heffalump 
thrust in one's face during breakfast.

Some things never change.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rainy Saturday

The first rainy Saturday in ever so long.

Everyone else went out in the morning.
One to iceskating, one to play a Brahms quartet,
and one to work in a toy shop.

I stayed home and baked for tomorrow's morning tea at church.
1940s swing music playing, oven and dryer humming.

Vanilla slice, Chocolate Coconut Slice, Chocolate Cake
and Snickerdoodles.
There may have been some licking of bowls.

Just as I finished clearing up, the family began arriving home,
one by one.

We all went out for some errands,
and then Emily headed out to a murder party.
(I guess she started a trend).
All pretty and grown-up in high, high heels.

Dinner: leftover lamb roast on hommus, 
topped with caramelized leeks and served with baked potatoes,
asparagus, and honeyed carrots.  Yum.

A good food day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's all good

On the other side of the hump, things look different.
I see how much better things are this year, so far, than they were last year.
In so many ways.

My mind has calmed, not filled with quite so many things to remember now.
I enjoy a morning walk, in winter temperatures but summer humidity, and come home glowing.
I burn a new vanilla candle, a gift, perfect for this dark day.
I contemplate the weekend ahead - outings for everyone else and baking for me.
I think about making more space by taking a load to the op shop.

I think about what I have been learning about grace, and love, and what that might mean for me.
Sometimes, I think about nothing.
It's all good.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Over the hump

This is the time I've been waiting for.
All the admin done for the term; all "firsts" for the year have been done:
first piano lessons, first recorder group lesson, first proper bible study.
Today was the first recorder lesson - 25 eager little faces looking at me expectantly, 
25 names I must learn.
The first proper bible study 
- 10 women reading, discussing and praying, and 8 children 
minded just in the room next door.
Piano and theory lessons have been going for two weeks now.
I've managed (somehow) to provide school lunches for 12 days.
So I'm over the hump.  I've just got to find my groove and stick to it.
(And before I know it, it will be holidays again!)
These are all activities I enjoy (well, perhaps not the packing lunches so much)
and I got myself into it all, I have noone to blame.  
It is a joy to teach music, and to meet with women from church each week.
I love it all and it gives me energy when it's all running smoothly.

But I'm looking forward to tomorrow when I can spend some 
serious time relaxing on the sofa!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Harping on

One of my aims this year is to play more harp.
I've had my harp for a year now but I didn't play it as much as I had intended last year,
and I didn't get to take any lessons.

Last night I took my harp to the Irish session I play at.
Normally I play the tunes on fiddle and whistle, so playing an accompaniment 
is a whole other animal.  I could manage to play along to some of the tunes,
and the other session players seemed to think I did alright.  Phew.

It's quite an ordeal transporting a harp.
Fortunately my Dusty Springs harp is well-designed, and came with a
great bag that holds all the parts.
The stand goes together easily, 
looking a little like a mid-century coffee table.

I screw the stand onto the base of the harp,
and the harp can stand on its own.

Tuning can take another 5-10 minutes, and that has to be done every time I play.
And then there's the whole carrying thing, the car thing
and the parking thing, all slightly easier now we've got a hatchback.
But it all takes a little time and planning and muscle.

I'm excited that I've found a harp teacher who can fit me in
and I start lessons tomorrow!
I was extra glad to hear that I can use her harp at the lessons,
so I don't need to transport my harp every week.
Hopefully I can fit in the practising time and really benefit
from the lessons, so that by the end of this year I can see real improvement.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wide and high and deep

Printed and hand-stamped inserts

to match a set of Kmart notebooks.
It's been good to do something creative here and there in stolen moments.

Stationery and fabric design trends are so close to stamping trends these days,
it's easy to find stamps and inks in my stash that coordinate with most things I might buy.
(well ... that and the fact that I have a rather large stamp collection ;-)

I will adhere these inside the front covers, and the ladies in my bible study group
will use these books to keep notes and prayer points.
We're studying the book of Ephesians this term,
so I picked one of my favourite passages.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Old photographs

I was looking through some old family photos recently
and found these photos of my great-great-aunt Beatrice.
I don't know much about Beatrice,
except that she was a nurse's aide in WW1
married in 1919, was widowed, and married again in 1937.
She lived from 1882-1977 - a good long life.

But I do know that I love these old photos.
The high lace collar, the daisies, and the nursing uniforms,
and the handwritten greeting by Beatrice.

All of which leave me to imagine what her life was like ...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bunny bread

One of my aims for February is to try baking my own GF bread.  I've tried various recipes in the past but have never managed something that really resembles normal bread.  And I've not used my thermomix for bread as I'd planned when I bought it about 6 months ago.  One reason was the rising - I always had trouble finding a 'warm, draught-free place' to rise my bread.  But a while back I read a tip - to fill the insulated thermoserver with hot water and place your rising bread on top of the lid - and now rising bread is easy.

Today I made this bread, using rice, buckwheat flour and tapioca starch. It's nice and fluffy inside thanks to 3 eggwhites.  There's a nice amount of buckwheaty taste (although perhaps too much for Laura's liking) The crust is crunchy, but next time I'll cook it in a longer tin so it won't rise so much and will cook more quickly and evenly.  This loaf came out with a topknot, and the first slice looked just like a bunny.  It was delicious with a filling of chicken, mayo and shallots ... I felt like I was eating a normal lunch for once.

As well as doing the usual Saturday morning washing, Emily and I went out for morning tea to our local favourite coffee shop.  A melting moment and an almond friand were enjoyed amongst vintage goodies, while listening to 1940s classics and chatting.  A special treat earned by much saxophone practice.  We also stopped at a church market where I bought a Pyrex pie dish and two videos for $2.50.  Steve took Laura to iceskating lessons - a 4-hour outing which takes a big chunk out of Saturdays, and now he's helping his dad with some things.  So it's good to record these little things that happen on the weekend, so when I look back I don't feel that our Saturdays were wasted doing nothing, while one or more members of the family were busy elsewhere.

Hope you are having a good weekend, whatever you are doing!

Friday, February 7, 2014


This first full week of school is always busy for me.  So much to do.
But I was not expecting it to be so stressful.  My body didn't cope at times.
Starting my regular activities again threw me into panic, apparently.
The weather for the last few days was dark and miserable, even cold.

But this morning I woke to sunshine and the knowledge that I had nothing to do today.
No teaching, no appointments, no extra-curricular activities to drive to.
(Very thankful for our second car and a husband willing to do the 7.20am band drop-off)
Not. one. thing.
Even so, I braced myself for the unexpected - 
Laura staying home sick, or a call for casual teaching at the local primary school 
- but they didn't happen and I was free for the day!

I wrote myself a list of what needed to be done.
But instead of getting stuck into it, I began pottering.

This corner in the back of our living room desperately needed tidying.
It's a busy area near our tiny laundry (which is behind the bi-fold doors)
and it's easy for things to pile up quickly, especially clothes and shoes.

I pulled everything out (except the bookcase),
tried rearranging the furniture and bringing in other pieces from around the house.  
Nope, not going to work.
Pulled it all back to where it was, but at least now I know it's all had a good clean.

Brought the yucca plant back inside after it's little holiday outside.

- looks like it might need some more R&R, though!

These shelves are the best thing I ever didn't buy. 
When the girls were young and accumulating toys,  I stood in the living room one day
and imagined exactly what I would need:
shelves with compartments to hold plastic containers.
I thought and thought ... where have I seen something like that?
Hang on, isn't there something in the shed just like that?
I raced outside, and there it was, left by the previous owners,
mission brown and covered in spiderwebs and other gross stuff.
Within days I had painted it to match the trim in the living room,
and I started stocking up on the perfect containers, buying a few each week at Woolworths.
That was about 15 years ago.  Since then it has held toys, school books, girls' craft supplies,
and now holds all our "miscellaneous" stuff - shoe polish, light bulbs, gift wrap.

The big basket holds the girls shoes, and tucked in between the bookcase and the green shelves
are Laura's favourite toys - skateboard and crutches. (Yes, crutches!)
A few calico bags hold various things at the other end, gardening gloves, my ironing bag

After all that pottering I thought a bit about another area of the living room
which also desperately needs some TLC

Hoping to get the girls to go through their stuff tomorrow.
But went and dug around in the workshop and found something to try this:

and thought about getting out the chalk paint to cover over this:

... which I might even consider doing on the weekend.

Then I tidied the craft room.
And in between all that pottering even knocked off the 
most urgent things on my To Do List. 
Aaahh... there's nothing else as good as a free day at home when the sun shines!

I notice on other Australian blogs that I'm not the only one with mixed emotions this week.
It's a big upheaval, this going back to school time.
This is our 12th "first week of school", and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier.
For me, that is.  The girls seem to be coping fine!  
And that's something to be very thankful for.

* * *
What have you been doing this week?