This and that…

A few disparate thoughts floating around…

Nanna Trish left on Wednesday. It was lovely having her to stay and I’m so glad Little Man got to spend some time with her. It’s so tough having our {Grand}parents living so far away!

We had pizza last night with my home-made mozzarella. I made a basic tomato sauce, tore up the mozzarella, and a bit of sliced ham and then after it came out the oven, added avocado, rocket and parmesan. It was delicious, except, the mozzarella didn’t melt! So that was kind of a fail. BUT I have found a suitably geeky website (CurdNerd) with a better technique and recipe than the basic one I used; so I’m definitely going to try again. Especially as mozzarella can be frozen.

I finished up all my Santa Shoe Boxes for another year. This year I bought sturdy gift boxes instead of wrapping actual shoe boxes. It’s much easier and they’ll last longer. John dropped them off for me.

We are well into the spring rains. I tagged along with John after work one evening (he had to set out a carcass to collect some beetles and things) and I took this photo looking northwest into the approaching storm. The white patch to the right is a kaolin mine. Our house is out of frame to the right.

And of course, with big storms (well, big for this part of the world anyway), you get lovely sunsets once the rain has past.

I planted strawberry plants in the bottom bit of my drum. Slowly buying more potting soil as we can afford it and I’m hoping that this batch of plants will send out runners I can train into other holes so I won’t need to buy more plants.

I also picked the first mini bunch of sweetpeas from our garden. Sweetpeas are one of my favourites. At home (where I grew up) my Mom always grew a huge bed of sweetpeas up against the fence by our front gate. One of my sister’s weekly tasks was to pick flowers for the house, easy when you could gather armfuls of sweetpeas! And they smell heavenly too. I put them next to my bed. Highly recommended.

 

And finally, I love this advert….mostly for the jazz music, but also for Jude Law…

Running in the Rain

The droplet on the brim of my cap wobbles for a moment then falls. The tiny sound it makes when it hits the mud joins a million others creating a soft static that surrounds me. A counterpoint to the squelch of my footfalls and the in-two-three-out-two-three of my breathing.

I’m watching my feet carefully, the rocky path has been transformed by the rain. I splash through river deltas in miniature, hop brown rivulets and tiny sand banks. The tilt-shifted vista suddenly jumps back into scale, a wee beach destroyed by the mud-puddled shoe prints of those faster than me.

Ahead, running hand-in-hand, shrieking and laughing are three young girls.Their delight in catching raindrops in open mouths, leaping into puddles with both feet and flicking water from long wet hair is a welcome distraction to the monotony of placing one foot in front of the other.

We have a Nanna! And we’re not afraid to use her!

We had a busy weekend, even if we were all cooped up in the house all of Saturday thanks to the rain. Cakes were baked and iced, chutney was made. Mozzarella too (though no photos of that!). I ran in the rain and thoroughly enjoyed a hot shower afterwards. We took advantage of Nanna. Not bad for a weekend!

Friday evening we braaiied the crayfish we’d been saving to share with John’s Mom. We had a lovely meal, picking at the flesh, dipping in garlic butter and sipping on a lovely viognier. Absolutely delicious.

Early on Saturday morning, it started to rain. And rain and rain! Even though it was pouring, I decided that I’m going to keep up with my goal of not skipping any ParkRuns this year (or at least, not until our Christmas plans kick off!) so off I went, #5 under my belt. Obviously I didn’t take Little Man with me and John stayed behind with his Mom and got a start on making peach chutney. Because I was unencumbered, I was actually able to run a little. Very slowly and jiggling all over but I tried as far as possible to run the flats and walk up the hills. 45mins later and very very wet I was done and so chuffed with myself! (Photo below nicked from the Facebook page!)

Park Run rainI did a quick change into a dry top in the parking lot (a skill I learnt in my springboard diving days!) and went of to get Christmas presents for John’s brother and his family as well as a few groceries before heading home.

Ouma (John’s grandmother) makes an amazing peach chutney which is much coveted by the family. I have long wanted to try it, we have her recipe after all and when I finally saw local peaches in the shops, I knew it was time. I knew that the lady who catered our wedding also had peaches on her farm so I emailed her asking if we could pick up a few kilograms of “seconds”. Those peaches that have been pecked or bruised and are otherwise perfect, but not pretty enough to sell. A few emails and a phone call and I ended up with 7kg of fruit! I was surprised by how small the pile was…I thought it would be bigger!

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We washed it all, cut out the bad bits and removed all the pits to end up with about 4kg of fruit. This and the rest of the ingredients (recipe at the end) are minced and gently boiled with sugar, vinegar and spices. We should have cooked it all a bit longer, it’s a bit runny but tastes delicious! And it’ll be even better in a few weeks once it’s had a chance to mature a bit. One bottle is earmarked for the peach providers…

We were supposed to braai on Saturday afternoon with some friends, but due to the weather they switched it to supper out at our local pub (The Rat & Parrot). Habitually I said we wouldn’t be able to join them until I remembered, “We have a Nanna in the house!”. Nanna happily volunteered to step in and babysit and John and I got to go out and have a meal and a few drinks together. I’m not sure when we last went out together!

Sunday the weather was marginally better. John and his Brewing Buddy did their thing in the garage (a pale ale I am informed) while we tidied up the kitchen and pottered around. I did some much needed weeding in the garden, so simple when the ground is nice and wet! Sunday lunch was spent with John’s brother and family who were in town for a short stay. His partner is Italian so the meal was substantial! Anti-pasta (olives, salami, parmesan, foccacia), pasta in a delicious tomato sauce, and then fillet and veggies with salad, followed by ice-cream and strawberries. Not even the espresso could prevent multiple afternoon naps! Little Man was a firm fan of the pasta…

Sunday evening was slow. A Skype chat with my Mom (not long till we see you-can’t wait!) I did some crochet, snacked on leftovers and watched a DCI Banks DVD, early to bed.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend too!

Ouma’s Peach Chutney

  • 3lb (~1.3kg) fruit, we used dessert peaches
  • 3 large onions
  • 2 lb (~900g) sultanas
  • 1 lb (~450g) currents or raisins
  • 1 whole head garlic
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 TBLsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBLsp salt
  • 1.125 L brown spirit vinegar

Mince the fruit, onions, garlic, sultanas and currents. Add to a large, non-reactive pot. Add the spices, salt and vinegar and bring to the boil. Stir often to prevent it catching and burning. Once it boils, reduce the heat and allow to simmer, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. The colour will deepen and it will thicken in consistency. Once it reaches the thickness you desire (and this is personal preference). Remove from the heat and bottle hot in sterilized jars.

This batch made approximately 6L of chutney. The cayenne gives quite a kick, I’ll use a little less next time. I’d also like to add a few apples (some natural pectin to help it gel) and play with the flavours. I must remember next year…

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A portrait of my child each week in 2014.

The afternoon that Nanna Trish arrived was a bit of a disaster. You missed your morning nap, had a short nap at lunchtime and then point blank refused to sleep in the afternoon. Consequently you were a grouch. And to top it all off, it was hot. I had the idea of filling the lid of a RoughTote with some water. It’s the ideal height for you to smack and splash without the need for constant supervision. Then you discovered that there was water dribbling out of the hose and you were fascinated. It kept you occupied for at least an hour while your Nanna and I nattered away. Drinking from the hose is a rite of passage!

11 and a bit months old.

Joining in with Jodie at Practising Simplicity.

 

 

Oh my god I’m bald! And other observations.

We had a jam-packed weekend. Friday night I had dinner and a movie with my friend Jackie. I had it all planned out, she’d arrive, the fish cakes were all ready to eat, I’d quickly feed and bath Little Man and tuck him in for the night, we’d order Steers chips and settle down in front of a DVD of Emma for the evening with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Except, Little Man chose that night to fight bedtime tooth and nail (at certain points, literally) and 45 minutes later I finally got around to ordering chips. Then I discovered we didn’t have enough milk for hot chocolate and I needed to do nappy laundry. Fortunately Jax had made herself comfy on the couch and had already watched half of the movie…ah well. The company was good!

Saturday morning John carried Little Man on our ParkRunWalk. It’s amazing how much easier the hills are when you are not lugging 10kgs of sleeping baby around! Afterwards we had a lovely Round Table get together. Pancakes with Nutella, bacon & egg rolls, champagne and orange juice. Delightful! It was the most beautiful day too

We digested our large breakfast (a second bacon roll? Don’t mind if I do and if that pancake is going begging….) on the way to Port Alfred where I had a hair appointment.

Yes, I’ve cut it all off. I’ve been looking through my photos to try and figure out when it was last this short and I think it was around 2005. I LOVE it. John isn’t that impressed (he liked my long hair) and Little Man didn’t really notice, which I was quite relieved about! My poor hairdresser nearly fell over when I showed her the inspiration photo! But she’s done a wonderful job and I’m so pleased! It was quite surprising in the shower though, you never realise how short it is until you wash your hair and it feels as though there’s nothing there! I’m bald!

Saturday afternoon was lovely and lazy, we had an early supper at Ocean Basket (Little Man decimated some mussels and prawns) before coming back to the house for bath time. Once Little Man was asleep we settled in to watch a movie (The Fault is in Our Stars – total chick flick and I was sobbing for the last half!).

Sunday morning we headed down to the kiddies beach before the wind really started to blow. The tide was out so it was basically a giant sandpit. Little Man was quite grumpy (dastardly pre-molars!) so we didn’t stay long. He did enjoy splashing around and digging in the sand for a bit and then had a wonderful long nap.

10

Home to Grahamstown at lunchtime, lazy Sunday afternoon and a small braai for the two of us. The marshmallows came in handy after all, they were skewered and toasted for dessert.

How was your weekend?

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A portrait of my child, each week in 2014.

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We went to the beach again. Mom had an appointment to cut almost all her hair off and we decided to spend a little time on the beach before it got really windy and horrible. The tide was out so the ‘kiddies’ beach was a vast expanse of damp sand and little puddles. Later the tide turned and you discovered the joys of splashing through the shallows. You don’t like it when the little waves come rolling in though…

11 months old (!)

Joining in with Jodie at Practising Simplicity

Currently…

I’m feeling quite flat today. Little Man hasn’t been sleeping very well and it tends to catch up with me as the week goes on. I know it’ll pass but I do find myself lying in bed, all tense waiting for him to wake up; which means I seldom fall asleep much before midnight. And then he wakes again around 2am and 5am. If I could choose one superpower, it would be the ability to fall asleep instantly exactly when I want to! On the bright side, when he’s refusing to fall asleep at 2am, I take him through to our spare bed and we cuddle up. Nothing beats the feeling of the warmth of his little body curled against mine relaxing slowly into sleep.

Yesterday we made a yummy “risotto” using barley grains instead of rice. I added peas and fresh mint from the garden and homemade ricotta. The peas are a bit mildewy but quite delicious. I even picked enough the day before to gift a small handful to our neighbour. Absolutely nothing beats freshly podded peas! I shall have to figure out a spot to grow more next year.

So yes, I made ricotta. I’m on a bit of a homemade dairy kick lately. Ricotta is stupidly easy and I can’t quite believe I used to buy it. Basically it’s the product of gently heated and curdled milk with the why drained off. Heat 1 L of milk to about 80C, sprinkle in ~1tsp of salt and about 2 TBLsp of apple cider vinegar. Stir it well and you’ll see the curds form and the whey separate. Pour into a cloth lined sieve and allow to drain. The longer it drains, the firmer it’ll be. My next project is mozzarella…I have visions of homemade pizza.

I also picked up my crochet again last night. It’s been ages. I tried to get some down when we went away to Blanco (huh, I didn’t blog about that) but a critical miscount and my square turned into a pentagon and I got frustrated and put it away. I’m VERY far behind on the 2014 CAL but I am determined to finish. And then I can move on to other fun things! I definitely prefer less intricate projects, crochet is relaxation for me except when it goes wrong and I get frustrated!

Tomorrow is Friday and then it’s the weekend and we have lovely plans!

Beers and Braai-Pies

First up Happy Birthday to my Sister!! Hope you have a super day! xx

I had a few drinks at work on Friday evening. Occasionally we celebrate the last Friday of the week; though in this case it was also in aid of National Bandanna Day. I got home around 8pm and promptly fell asleep!

I didn’t feel so clever on Saturday morning…but I went and did the ParkRun again. Third in a row! I carry Little Man on my back in a meitai so it’s quite the workout! I suspect I need new takkies because my left ankle is quite sore. Anyway, so far I’ve managed to do each one in less than an hour (best time of 55mins!); that doesn’t sound that impressive but there’s a massive hill we have to climb, twice! It’s a great outing and if there is one near you I highly recommend you getting out to go do it!

Afterwards we did a quick, sweaty round of grocery shopping and then I dashed home for a quick shower and to pack a few last minute things and then we went off to a First Birthday party! The first one in our little Mom & Babies group. It was such a lovely morning! I can’t believe that our babies are ONE! It’s such a cliché but it’s just gone by so so fast! It’s amazing to see the babies starting to interact and play together; their little personalities are really starting to shine through! Little Man played his heart out and fell fast asleep in the car when we left for Port Alfred. He slept the whole way down and woke up ready to go again once we arrived.

Not impressed in the pram, it’s too hot!

The beer fest was lovely. Very small but that’s actually quite enjoyable. They had a few stalls out and there was a pirate ship this year! I got to have one of my favourite stouts as well as a few others. But we generally hung out and enjoyed the festivities.

I’m really pleased with the lucky shot of the poi dancer!

 

Saturday night we braaied and sat around sipping red wine and chatting. I was expecting a few more friends to come stay, but at the last minute they cancelled leaving us with a leg of lamb AND a 2+ kg chicken to roast in the Weber. We had a LOT of leftovers and so…the following night, we made a braai pie. have you seen these excellent DIY videos? Hysterical and tongue in cheek!

It was surprisingly good! Ours had chicken, bacon, onion, cheese and an egg wash.

I should say that John and his host made the braai pie, because I stayed home to look after Little Man and spend some time with my friend Jax. We watched a movie and hung out. Much needed for us both. (Love you Sweets!)

Soap doesn’t taste all that great.

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A portrait of my child each week in 2014.

We went to Port Alfred for the weekend to attend a local craft-beer festival. We had a wonderful time. Dad proudly showing off his son; who was very keen to investigate anything and everything! Emerald Vale’s taps were quite fascinating! He had such a fun day that he obliged us by sleeping in until 6:30 the next morning! What bliss!!

10.5 months (ish) old.

Joining in with Jodie at Practicing Simplicity

A favourite treat

I have always loved to read. I thank my parents and teachers for this. Mom always had books around the house and I was always free to pick one up and settle in. Recently I’ve had less and less time to read. Little Man and the demands of daily life make carving out the time difficult and then there’s my discovery of podcasts*. Reading is a treat, I don’t like to waste my precious me time on the mundane. I like to be entertained, fascinated, educated. I have an eclectic wish list ranging from cooking books, to kids books to books on murder mysteries in 1920’s New York. More and more of my reading is done online. I love blogs. I love glimpses into other people’s daily lives. There are some brilliantly talented photographers and writers out there and I love to indulge in all they have to share.

Remedial Eating is one of my absolute favourites. I always get a quiet thrill at seeing a new post appear in my feed. I often save up several entries to read and savour when I have a cup of tea and some time. I scroll through slowly, enjoying the photographs and her wonderful writing which builds up to the recipe which, without fail, makes me want to dust off an apron and make something.

Go have a read, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

 

*This American Life, RadioLab, The Moth, Revolutions, The History of England are a few favourites which make me (sometimes) wish for a longer commute! I frequently have an episode playing as I go about dinner-making, baby-bathing, and bedtime.