Archive for the ‘Seasons and Celebrations’ Category

Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013

Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

Little Princess is 2 years 1 month

IMG_7321Cards Bandicoot made for some of his friends

I really like the outside of this one:IMG_7324

IMG_7325 Little Princess working on some cards of her own.  Isn’t the concentration beautiful?

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Shrove Tuesday

February 11, 2013

Possum is 6 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

Little Princess is 2 years 1 month

 

Did you know that Shrovetide is actually the two days before Ash Wednesday?  It is the end of the Carnival season that started at Easter (from Latin carnelevare, indicating abstaining from meat during Lent)?  No, neither did I.  You can read more about it here: http://www.fisheaters.com/customsseptuagesima2.html 

I just wanted to remember what “shrove” meant.  It comes from the archaic verb to shrive or to confess, recalling the old custom of confessing sins prior to Lent.

What I do know that we eat all those pancakes to try and use up all the goodies that we used to have to fast from for Lent.  Dietary requirements are not so strict these days, but the spirit is the same.

And so I make pancakes.  And pancakes.

I made so many pancakes that we ended up with leftovers.  And tummy aches.  I was looking forward to Ash Wednesday by Tuesday evening!

So what did our menu look like?

This year it was necessary for me to forgo our usual blinis.  DH and I fell in love with Russian blinis back in 2004.  I find them so much work to make, so I tend to only do them once a year.  But by the time I have made all the milky crepes, filled them, folded and rolled them, fried them in butter… well I wasn’t getting up that early this year.  (How do those Mamushkas make them every morning??)

Instead we had American-style, apple pancakes for breakfast.  Well, not DH.  Even they were a bit slow making it to the table for him before work (besides, fighting the vultures children off to get one, was a bit gruesome.)

I thought about a German pancake for lunch, but with the dinner plans I just knew that I needed something else to eat instead.

Dessert first.  I made two different kinds of English-style pancakes (you know, like a crepe only a bit thicker and cooked on both sides).  The first were the plain ones that were brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar prior to rolling.  These were ready for toppings of choice: maple syrup, lemon and sugar, cinnamon sugar…  The second were my classic chocolate pancakes – made with a cocoa batter.  I normally serve these rolled and filled with lingonberries and whipped cream, but had to substitute blackberry jam for the lingonberries and really it wasn’t the same.

But now…. drum roll… my piece de la resistance… (drum roll)  Peking Chicken!!

Yes, it is a dish of my own invention, if inspired by another, slightly more famous dish.

I started with a bbq chicken from the supermarket (needs must, and it wouldn’t have happened any other way),  I brought it home and made a quick marinade of (approximately):

  • ~ teaspoon raw castor sugar
  • ~ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ~ 1/8 teaspoon ground star anise
  • ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Good, healthy slurp of sherry ~ 1/4 to 1/3 cup (let’s hope it was the cooking sherry – I can never remember which one is mine for cooking and which one is DH’s posh drinking sherry.  It tasted good either way!)

I slopped this all over the chicken and whacked it back in the oven to crisp up.  (After a little I pulled all the skin off and put the skin back in so that it could go really crispy without drying out the meat too much.)

Then there were the mandarin pancakes.  I am not sure how I would manage these next time.  I ended up needing to use a LOT of flour to roll them out and they had a floury taste because of it.  Perhaps practice would help with this!

Manadrin Pancakes:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • sesame oil (a whole lot more than you would think!)
  • flour to stop it sticking to the bench in a gluey mess
  • So, really tricky here, mix the flour and water into a dough and knead it a little.
  • IMG_7330
  • Roll it out to about 5-7mm thick.
  • IMG_7332
  • Cut in circles with a scone cutter (about 10cm across)IMG_7333
  • Brush one side of the circles with sesame oil and put 2 circles together – oily sides together.
  • Now roll them again, nice and thin.
  • Dry fry the pancakes (in a non-stick pan if possible).  It is about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 on the second.
  • IMG_7334IMG_7335
  • When they are done, you can peel the two pancakes apart.
  • IMG_7337

Voila!

IMG_7336

Now, roll these up with chopped shallots, hoisin sauce, chicken meat and a bit of crunchy skin.  In our case we added in a bit of lettuce, too.

Super yum.

In fact, so yummy that I forgot to take photos of the finished item before we gobbled them all up!  Oops.

Too Much On…

February 10, 2013

Possum is 6 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

Little Princess is 2 years 1 month

What a hectic week this is!  I love to mark the passage of the year by celebrating the various significant events and feasts.  This week, however, is a doozey.

Today, as you may know, is Chinese New Year.  Good Fortune to You!

IMG_7313

We had planned to go into the city today to visit the CNY markets – to enjoy the food, the music, the crafts and activities for the kids.  We got as far as the train station where we discovered that there was trackwork across the CBD, meaning that we would need to catch a train partway then change to a bus (and, honestly, rail-buses are NOT something that blow my hair back).  We ditched that idea in favour of visiting a much more local Chinese restaurant for lunch and DH is in the process of cooking pot-stickers for dinner.

IMG_7318

I had planned to do some crafts with the kids – movable cardboard dragons (I have the templates), spiral paper snakes (it is the Year of the Snake), paper lanterns…  Instead we came home and cleaned out the guinea pig hutch and cubby house and collapsed from a busy day.

Aah well.  Maybe we will have a chance to go and watch the dragon boat racing next weekend.  (I am not sure how I will go with that.  I was a highly competitive dragon boat paddler, way back when – you know, before kids.  Hopefully I will be able to be a good sport as a spectator if we do go watch.)

At least I got a chance to explain the significance of eating noodles and dumplings at CNY to the boys.

IMG_7316

But that is not the only event this week.  St Valentine’s Day is looming.  I know it is not until Thursday, but the kids need to get their “Valentines” sorted for posting/delivery.  Bandicoot will need to have his ready for his fiancée girlfriend sweetheart BFF (and his other BFF) for Tuesday, for example.  We don’t celebrate St Valentine’s Day in a big way, like in the US, but it is nice to remember our nearest and dearest.

However, those two pale into insignificance when we consider that this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.

Lent is a significant time for us.  Easter is the most important occasion on our calendar and Lent, as the preparatory time has a lot of meaning.  This all starts with Ash Wednesday (or Shrove Tuesday – don’t even talk to me about blini and pancake pressure!), and that means this is a heavy focus week.

It is a struggle to explain Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter to children, especially to young children.  It is hard enough for me as an adult to get my head around (I guess that is why Mother Church gets us to take this journey every year), let alone their sweet little heads.  I feel the pressure, too, because our kids do not have the benefit of the kind of Church or school that I did – one that took the gravity of the Lenten season quite seriously, and made sure even the youngest understood what we were doing and why.

And so I turn to the internet.

Have you tried Googling Lent for kids or similar?  The response is overwhelming.

There are so many entries, many of them not suited to our family (ages or stages), quite a few are.  It is a huge job sifting through this information to find what would work for our kids.

And then, once I have found the ideas that are suitable, to thin them out and choose the one or two that we can actually do consistently enough for the experience to be meaningful.

Oh, and then there is the actual implementation.

And somewhere amongst all this I am trying to fit in English and Maths and preschool activities and family life and….

Never rains but it pours!

Australia Day 2013 (pic heavy)

January 26, 2013

Possum is 6 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 6 months

Little Princess is 2 years

 

This year, Australia Day fell on that all important day in our household – Croissant Day.  (On the last Saturday of the month, DH and the kids cycle down to the local bakery and buy croissants for breakfast.)

Just a little further down the road there was a community sausage sizzle for breakfast.  After much cajoling on my behalf, DH agreed to check it out.  Really, just how Australian are croissants?  And don’t talk to me about putting Vegemite on them….

Anyway, they returned full of excitement.  Bandicoot had caught and brought home this amazing bug:

IMG_7172

And the kids had all been tattooed painted.

IMG_7173IMG_7174IMG_7177

(And that slightly cool, slightly squished sausage sandwich they unexpectedly brought me?  It had bacon on it, too, and was super yummy.)

So, while Mummy and Daddy tried to relax a little after the strange weather, the kids amused themselves.  Yes, they are digging up the lawn.

IMG_7178IMG_7180IMG_7181

IMG_7182IMG_7186

IMG_7188IMG_7187

You know what he did next, don’t you…

IMG_7190 DH pretending he is really ocker and catching up on the tennis.

 

IMG_7194IMG_7198

IMG_7200IMG_7205

 

Then we went in to the city.  Little Princess found herself a special seat on the train.

IMG_7206IMG_7209

Her friend An-n-coot (Bandicoot, even though it is really a Bilby) came along.  An appropriate day for a Bandicoot to go out partying, yes?

IMG_7208IMG_7210

Too exciting to sit down on the train – might miss something!

 

IMG_7211IMG_7214

Oh – okay.  We’ll all sit down for lamingtons on Australia Day!

IMG_7215IMG_7217

The stairs up onto the Harbour Bridge…

IMG_7219

Cool pic, huh?

IMG_7225 Opera House

IMG_7226Fort Denison

IMG_7227Some boats flagged out for Australia Day

Checking it all out from the bridge IMG_7228

IMG_7231 Ice cream.  This is serious business – it is bigger than her!

William Bligh IMG_7235

IMG_7238IMG_7239

Cadman’s Cottage.  The oldest surviving building in the country.  Possum was pretty fascinated by it, but couldn’t believe how small it was inside.

IMG_7243

IMG_7245

The Tank Stream is a freshwater stream that runs into Sydney Harbour.  It was because of this water source that the first European settlement was built here in 1788.  I am sure aboriginal children played in the stream a long time before that.  It still flows beneath the city today and sources these fountains.

IMG_7244IMG_7249

IMG_7251IMG_7252IMG_7253

And for dinner?  Harry’s damper, barbequed snags and a pav with green and gold fruit.

IMG_7257    IMG_7258

Australia Day 2013 (pic heavy)

January 26, 2013

Possum is 6 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 6 months

Little Princess is 2 years

 

This year, Australia Day fell on that all important day in our household – Croissant Day.  (On the last Saturday of the month, DH and the kids cycle down to the local bakery and buy croissants for breakfast.)

Just a little further down the road there was a community sausage sizzle for breakfast.  After much cajoling on my behalf, DH agreed to check it out.  Really, just how Australian are croissants?  And don’t talk to me about putting Vegemite on them….

Anyway, they returned full of excitement.  Bandicoot had caught and brought home this amazing bug:

IMG_7172

And the kids had all been tattooed painted.

IMG_7173IMG_7174IMG_7177

(And that slightly cool, slightly squished sausage sandwich they unexpectedly brought me?  It had bacon on it, too, and was super yummy.)

So, while Mummy and Daddy tried to relax a little after the strange weather, the kids amused themselves.  Yes, they are digging up the lawn.

IMG_7178IMG_7180IMG_7181

IMG_7182IMG_7186

IMG_7188IMG_7187

You know what he did next, don’t you…

IMG_7190 DH pretending he is really ocker and catching up on the tennis.

 

IMG_7194IMG_7198

IMG_7200IMG_7205

 

Then we went in to the city.  Little Princess found herself a special seat on the train.

IMG_7206IMG_7209

Her friend An-n-coot (Bandicoot, even though it is really a Bilby) came along.  An appropriate day for a Bandicoot to go out partying, yes?

IMG_7208IMG_7210

Too exciting to sit down on the train – might miss something!

 

IMG_7211IMG_7214

Oh – okay.  We’ll all sit down for lamingtons on Australia Day!

IMG_7215IMG_7217

The stairs up onto the Harbour Bridge…

IMG_7219

Cool pic, huh?

IMG_7225 Opera House

IMG_7226Fort Denison

IMG_7227Some boats flagged out for Australia Day

Checking it all out from the bridge IMG_7228

IMG_7231 Ice cream.  This is serious business – it is bigger than her!

William Bligh IMG_7235

IMG_7238IMG_7239

Cadman’s Cottage.  The oldest surviving building in the country.  Possum was pretty fascinated by it, but couldn’t believe how small it was inside.

IMG_7243

IMG_7245

The Tank Stream is a freshwater stream that runs into Sydney Harbour.  It was because of this water source that the first European settlement was built here in 1788.  I am sure aboriginal children played in the stream a long time before that.  It still flows beneath the city today and sources these fountains.

IMG_7244IMG_7249

IMG_7251IMG_7252IMG_7253

And for dinner?  Harry’s damper, barbequed snags and a pav with green and gold fruit.

IMG_7257    IMG_7258

Australia Day 2013 (pic heavy)

January 26, 2013

Possum is 6 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 6 months

Little Princess is 2 years

 

This year, Australia Day fell on that all important day in our household – Croissant Day.  (On the last Saturday of the month, DH and the kids cycle down to the local bakery and buy croissants for breakfast.)

Just a little further down the road there was a community sausage sizzle for breakfast.  After much cajoling on my behalf, DH agreed to check it out.  Really, just how Australian are croissants?  And don’t talk to me about putting Vegemite on them….

Anyway, they returned full of excitement.  Bandicoot had caught and brought home this amazing bug:

IMG_7172

And the kids had all been tattooed painted.

IMG_7173IMG_7174IMG_7177

(And that slightly cool, slightly squished sausage sandwich they unexpectedly brought me?  It had bacon on it, too, and was super yummy.)

So, while Mummy and Daddy tried to relax a little after the strange weather, the kids amused themselves.  Yes, they are digging up the lawn.

IMG_7178IMG_7180IMG_7181

IMG_7182IMG_7186

IMG_7188IMG_7187

You know what he did next, don’t you…

IMG_7190 DH pretending he is really ocker and catching up on the tennis.

 

IMG_7194IMG_7198

IMG_7200IMG_7205

 

Then we went in to the city.  Little Princess found herself a special seat on the train.

IMG_7206IMG_7209

Her friend An-n-coot (Bandicoot, even though it is really a Bilby) came along.  An appropriate day for a Bandicoot to go out partying, yes?

IMG_7208IMG_7210

Too exciting to sit down on the train – might miss something!

 

IMG_7211IMG_7214

Oh – okay.  We’ll all sit down for lamingtons on Australia Day!

IMG_7215IMG_7217

The stairs up onto the Harbour Bridge…

IMG_7219

Cool pic, huh?

IMG_7225 Opera House

IMG_7226Fort Denison

IMG_7227Some boats flagged out for Australia Day

Checking it all out from the bridge IMG_7228

IMG_7231 Ice cream.  This is serious business – it is bigger than her!

William Bligh IMG_7235

IMG_7238IMG_7239

Cadman’s Cottage.  The oldest surviving building in the country.  Possum was pretty fascinated by it, but couldn’t believe how small it was inside.

IMG_7243

IMG_7245

The Tank Stream is a freshwater stream that runs into Sydney Harbour.  It was because of this water source that the first European settlement was built here in 1788.  I am sure aboriginal children played in the stream a long time before that.  It still flows beneath the city today and sources these fountains.

IMG_7244IMG_7249

IMG_7251IMG_7252IMG_7253

And for dinner?  Harry’s damper, barbequed snags and a pav with green and gold fruit.

IMG_7257    IMG_7258

Australia Day 2013 (pic heavy)

January 26, 2013

Possum is 6 years 8 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 6 months

Little Princess is 2 years

 

This year, Australia Day fell on that all important day in our household – Croissant Day.  (On the last Saturday of the month, DH and the kids cycle down to the local bakery and buy croissants for breakfast.)

Just a little further down the road there was a community sausage sizzle for breakfast.  After much cajoling on my behalf, DH agreed to check it out.  Really, just how Australian are croissants?  And don’t talk to me about putting Vegemite on them….

Anyway, they returned full of excitement.  Bandicoot had caught and brought home this amazing bug:

IMG_7172

And the kids had all been tattooed painted.

IMG_7173IMG_7174IMG_7177

(And that slightly cool, slightly squished sausage sandwich they unexpectedly brought me?  It had bacon on it, too, and was super yummy.)

So, while Mummy and Daddy tried to relax a little after the strange weather, the kids amused themselves.  Yes, they are digging up the lawn.

IMG_7178IMG_7180IMG_7181

IMG_7182IMG_7186

IMG_7188IMG_7187

You know what he did next, don’t you…

IMG_7190 DH pretending he is really ocker and catching up on the tennis.

 

IMG_7194IMG_7198

IMG_7200IMG_7205

 

Then we went in to the city.  Little Princess found herself a special seat on the train.

IMG_7206IMG_7209

Her friend An-n-coot (Bandicoot, even though it is really a Bilby) came along.  An appropriate day for a Bandicoot to go out partying, yes?

IMG_7208IMG_7210

Too exciting to sit down on the train – might miss something!

 

IMG_7211IMG_7214

Oh – okay.  We’ll all sit down for lamingtons on Australia Day!

IMG_7215IMG_7217

The stairs up onto the Harbour Bridge…

IMG_7219

Cool pic, huh?

IMG_7225 Opera House

IMG_7226Fort Denison

IMG_7227Some boats flagged out for Australia Day

Checking it all out from the bridge IMG_7228

IMG_7231 Ice cream.  This is serious business – it is bigger than her!

William Bligh IMG_7235

IMG_7238IMG_7239

Cadman’s Cottage.  The oldest surviving building in the country.  Possum was pretty fascinated by it, but couldn’t believe how small it was inside.

IMG_7243

IMG_7245

The Tank Stream is a freshwater stream that runs into Sydney Harbour.  It was because of this water source that the first European settlement was built here in 1788.  I am sure aboriginal children played in the stream a long time before that.  It still flows beneath the city today and sources these fountains.

IMG_7244IMG_7249

IMG_7251IMG_7252IMG_7253

And for dinner?  Harry’s damper, barbequed snags and a pav with green and gold fruit.

IMG_7257    IMG_7258

Happy New Year–Sparklers and Glow-Sticks

January 1, 2013

IMG_6956IMG_6957IMG_6958IMG_6959IMG_6960IMG_6961IMG_6962IMG_6963IMG_6964IMG_6965IMG_6966IMG_6967IMG_6968IMG_6969

Two Year Old Princess

December 28, 2012

Little Princess is 2 years old

Possum is 6 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 4 year 5 months

 

Happy Birthday Little Princess!

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IMG_6919IMG_6920IMG_6922IMG_6924IMG_6925IMG_6927

Tomato sauce makes a most excellent lunch!

 

 

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Easter Bookshelf

May 20, 2012

Possum is 6 years

Bandicoot is 3 years 10 months

Little Princess is 1 year 2 months (16 months)

 

Today at Church we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension.  The Ascension?  How did that happen?  That means next week will be Pentecost already and the end of the Easter season.

Well, oops.  I had best get this post posted!  I have had it sitting in draft form since way back in Lent.  How time flies.

 

As you probably guessed from the title, these are the books that we have had to read during the Easter season.

The Bible for Me series are a bit of a favourite around here.  You might remember that we have the Christmas one, too.  The story is divided up into chapters of one or two double page spreads, which makes it perfect for devouring in bite sized chunks.  And, personally I love the pictures!

image

 

This is another Easter Bible that we have.  It has more detail in it, and is slightly more hard core (Easter isn’t really G rated).  It is very good, ‘though.  I especially like that some extra topics, like the story of Judas, are given their own billing.

CCF06042012_00000(This book is Jillian Harker and illustrated by Jane Swift.  I haven’t been able to find it in print anywhere (Paragon), but Amazon do have a few second hand ones listed.)

image I bought this one to use with our Resurrection Eggs.  It is a great story of a little boy living in Jerusalem at the time of the first Easter.  I liked the idea of telling the story from a child’s point of view.  Unfortunately, the story is long and I left it too late to start.  Next year I will start this book a week or two before Easter and read a story a day from it.

image Have you read any of the “Parable of…” series?  They are beautiful stories!  I cried when I read this one.  The story can stand alone, or you can use it as a Bible study with the passages on each page.

Little Kids’ Books

This one is a real favourite, especially with the littlest ones:

image

 

And this one?  Well I actually bought it for my baby nephew, but it never made it.  Little Princess is just mad about it.

image 

 

More Bunnies…. and a Bilby

These books are not Easter books, but someone has to bring the chocolate…

image image

 image  image

Oh, all right, the Bilby one IS an Easter book!

image

Ducks and an Emu…

image      image

image    image

 

And while we are looking at New Life in the garden…

imageimage

  

 image (This book seems to be out of stock everywhere, but Amazon do have a few second hand ones listed.)

 

 

Activity Books

image Oh the boys loved this one!  It is just what you would expect- lots of sticker fun from Lois Rock.

image I really like the look of this one, but to be honest, the kids didn’t get around to it this year at all.  I might pull it out as new next Easter.  This one has a “split page”.  Approximately the top 2/3 to 3/4 of the page has a scene and part of the Easter story on it.  You need to complete the picture with the stickers.  The lower portion of the page has other sticker activities related to the story or picture on the top of the page.

image This is a more complex puzzle book – probably for ~ 7 year olds.  When I received it, I had intended to put it away until next year, but Possum found it and loved doing all the mazes in it.  The word puzzles were still beyond his abilities.

image We have had this one going for a couple of years now.  Possum and I really enjoy it, and Bandicoot had a bit of fun this year, too.  It has the Easter story written in chapters, but certain words are missing from the story.  You need to put in the picture stickers to complete the stories.

 

 

*phew*!  That is quite a few of them.  I love being able to pull out books on a theme like this!  I hope you have enjoyed some Easter books, too.