29 July 2010

Hoorah for holidays!

Seems I've done a good (??) job of wearing out my little Chick, who is sleeping the sleep of the weary. We went to mother's group this morning then ran a million errands prior to heading off on our holiday tomorrow. She seems to have mended well after her various bugs and as we know, she does so enjoy being out and about. She does however refuse to sleep whilst out, she might miss out on something important. She wouldn't even drink her milk at mothers group, there were too many babies to check out and squeal at ...

But I digress. We are off to the snow tomorrow for two weeks.Hoorah!!  I can't wait, not specifically to ski, but just to have a holiday away from the day to day hassles and domestics, and time with hubby, friends and family. And to catch up on some much needed sleep. So shan't post until we get back, but will still read all your blogs to hear what's up in your ends of the world. 

Talk about a logistical nightmare though! Food, clothes, portacot, feeding paraphernalia, nappies, medical paraphernalia, ski gear, linen etc - all has to be packed up and transported to the snow where we have to load everything on to trolleys and take it on the ski tube, then transfer to an over-snow machine to the lodge. I'm thinking of giving someone some money to act as a Sherpa for us!!  I've said it before, but it's amazing just how much stuff one little person requires.

So, off to finish my packing whilst the little one sleeps.

New Mum Chick NMC

28 July 2010

Living in the present moment

I've having the most divine day of solo time, the perfect day of pottering about with my little chick in the background making all sorts of whoops and shouts and generally discovering his voice.

 New Mum Chick, I'm sending LOADS of moral support thoughts your way as you deal with that challenge of green goo and a little Snuffleupagus  (  I'm dreading it....  Love that the chirping and chatting continues throughout such trauma!

Interesting to talk about the Buddhism book after just having spent this week with some gorgeous family who are very 'busy'.  They are so loved, taking them as they are, but so hectic that it becomes sometimes impossible to remain calm when they bluster in and out.

On one particular visit, I talked with my gorgeous aunt about living in the present moment.  How much babies and little children teach us about learning how to play again.  Learning not to fall into the "I'll just do this one thing" trap too much and remembering to spend time just gazing at your little person.  Letting them touch your face as you speak and singing with them and talking back in their language.   She did do so after finishing the pesto whizzing, the clothes folding and the ironing for her, at times very demanding husband - so mission accomplished!

I just wanted to try because they will see so little of our little chick as he grows and all that other stuff is not so important.  I did speak with my special friend, Arabella today about this though and she reminded me of the importance of letting little folk learn to play solo -  yes, yes, yes!  I only hope as a new mother that I'm not making too many mistakes in integral behavioural areas like that.

Took our chick for his first swim in the Mediterranean last weekend.  What a bemused little screwed up face he had to start with!  Though soon worked out that it was quite fun indeed - and that the nude time on the towel was definitely his cup of tea.  Doesn't love the small blow up pool on our terrace yet though.  I'm guessing it's too chilly...

April Blackbird, thank you so much for the info on Malaria.  Phew.  Knew it was a problem but one that obviously needs lots more thinking about before we decide to go.  I believe the malaria mozzies are the night-time mozzies but I'm sure they are not discerning when it comes to watching the clock!

Ah, the learning.


27 July 2010

Places I have been #6

We fell in love with Pennington, KwaZulu, South Africa, many, many years ago. It's still one of my favourite places and I thought you might like to make a virtual visit there.

My parents retired there when it was little more than a quiet village.  Today, 'progress' has changed the village substantially, but it's still an inherently charming place to holiday. 

Large Umdoni trees (or Natal Mahogany's) and beautifully vivid Coral Trees shelter the village and act as home to the birds we came to know and love.  My parents live just across from the dam and we would often hear the cry of the Fish Eagles as they swooped across the sky. Grey Louries, little wrens, Robins... they're all there.  There used to be a lot of Guinea Fowls (which landed heavily on the roof in the early morning), but I believe they've been eaten by hungry folk.  I haven't heard how the shy little deers have done.  They'd be a bit more difficult to catch.

Natal, or KwaZulu as it's called now, has its own unique smell.  I've never come across that smell anywhere else.  I wish I could explain it better... it's a mildly moldy, sub-tropical, dusky smell.  When my father comes to visit it hangs on his clothes, on him, until everything has been washed and dried in the sun. 

And then there are the days when the big sugar mill at Sezela 'burns sugar' and the air fills with that uniquely, sickly sweet, burnt smell (and a whole lot of floating 'bits' that rain down on your head if you're unlucky enough to be in the wind path).

Fishing and diving are great, but aside from the miles of open beach, I can't really rave about the swimming there.  It's a treacherous beach.  The man made pool has always been a disaster and is filled with sand for most of the year.  It was poorly designed for where it was built.

Walk just a little further though and you come to the Sezela Beach where we spent many happy hours with our growing family.  There are lots of rock pools for toddlers (and their grandmothers) to play in and you can swim in the sea quite safely.  We used to go there early in the morning and we'd have our breakfast on the beach while it was still cool.

We used to walk there along the road you can see in the photo below.  The big house on the horizon is Botha House.  There's lots of nice places to stay in the area, including a caravan park, but we had the best accommodation ever.  Hotel d'Nan.  

Best time to visit?  Well, it's horribly humid in December and January.  Probably March/April.  After the hordes have gone home. 

April Blackbird

21 July 2010

Adverblog: UNICEF Installs Dirty Water Vending Machine In Manhattan

Adverblog: UNICEF Installs Dirty Water Vending Machine In Manhattan

Clean drinking water is one of the things most of us take for granted. Take a look at this video to see what you're missing out on by living in the developed world. You too could be giving your children filthy, germ laden water...

I love this advert for UNICEF, it's intelligent and thinks outside of the square. Definitely worth a watch. Definitely worth a contribution.

Oh yes, this is my 'Attitude of Gratitude' posting for this week. I am unbelievably grateful for the miracle of clean drinking water. I live in Sydney where a lot of people are a bit paranoid about drinking tap water, but I think the water quality here is amazing and I'd rather drink tap water than water that comes in plastic bottles.

April Blackbird

19 July 2010

Trials and Tribulations #3

I'm sitting here with little Chickie strapped to my chest, fast asleep, drooling all over me and mucous running down her nose!  Reminiscent of her earlier "reflux" days when this was the only way I could get her to sleep and also get anything done at the same time (minus the mucous though).  Chickie has been sick for the past few days with a cold, chest infection and ear infection. She is also teething. My poor baby! It is awful to have to watch her suffer and not really be able to do a huge amount for her other than keep administering all the various medications, and try and keep her comfy! I have just lathered her in baby Vicks to try and help her breathe a little easier, and it's working wonders on my clogged nose too.

I was saying to April Blackbird yesterday (who has been taking her fair share of shifts holding Chickie upright so she can sleep) how grateful I am for antibiotics. In the olden days a chest infection could have been the end of the road for a little one! I am also amazed at my babies ability to keep smiling even though she feels really lousy. She had the entire waiting room at the doctors enthralled on Sat morning, as she turned on her most charming behaviour (this is a little socialite we have here). She even managed to muster a few (quite average by her standards) raspberries to the delight of her audience! Aaah ...

Arabella visited Chickie when she was just teeny and a tad on the grumpy side! She had just discovered that she could scream, really scream, and was trying it on big time. Fortunately she has mellowed into quite a happy little person who just loves being out and about! She still has the ability to scream though, except now she has developed an entire range of different screams and squeals and loves nothing more than to experiment with them, delighting herself with her results! Chickie definitely has a temper though (That be the Irish in her) and has a particular scream she now reserves for mum when she wants to let me know in no uncertain terms just what she thinks). Oh boy ... the toddler years should be interesting!!

Bookie-bird, I bought myself the Buddhism for Mothers you recommended, and have started reading it now that I have to sit holding bubs upright for hours on end. So far so good, quite enjoyable! Some might say it was fortuitous timing that I bought the book the very day Chickie came down ill ... clearly someone knew I was going to be needing some calm, patience and understanding. This has happened the very week I needed it least - having a million things to achieve before we head off on our skiing holiday and I am also at a 3 day course later this week. But for now I am going to go put my feet up and keep reading until Chickie wakes up!

New Mum Chick

18 July 2010

Monkey and bear

A few days ago, this...

became a bear...

a very cute bear I think.

He and his handsome monkey buddy...

will be winging their way across the ocean shortly to live in NZ with a new little baby boy and his two year old brother.

I hope they love them!

The bear pattern is Madison bear from Maggie's Crochet and the monkey pattern is Mosie Monkey from Melbangel on Etsy who happens to be having a Christmas in July sale on right now.

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

16 July 2010

Loving Food

After coming home from the weighing station at the pharmacy - I've discovered I have a potential heavyweight champion of the world chickadee.  A mere 450 grams put on over the 5 weeks up to July 1st, but an enormous 800 grams in the past two weeks!

I was also brave enough to set foot on said scales half hoping the rumours and myths about breastfeeding being a great diet, would be true.  Hmm, the wee printed receipt mocked me with the exact same weight as I have been since I had the little chap and the reminder that things are definitely not where they used to be.   

But with a sigh, and as I continue with my breastfeeding marathon and am constantly reminded of my need to eat well, I wanted to share some beautiful foodie spots which I love to look at. :)

And, needless to say, will continue to enjoy cooking from ... 

And one of the best for last...

Enjoy some yummy goodies! 

Bookie - bird.

15 July 2010

Places I have been #5

I've been looking through our ancient slides and have actually got some fabulous slides taken during our trip around Rhodesia (or Zimbabwe, as it's called today). When I manage to scan them onto my computer I promise to show you some of the best ones. In the meantime, I will have to use links to share our adventures with you.

We did as much as we could in the three weeks we drove around Rhodesia in 1973. We got to visit some remote ruins and took in as much 'rock art' as we possibly could. Much of it has blurred into the background, it was so very long ago... We sat in the car from early in the morning until late at night as we drove through the diverse countryside. I drank Coca Cola because I couldn't drink the water... it couldn't have done my developing son's nervous system too much good, but we didn't know about things like that in those days. (He seems quite alright, but didn't sleep through until he was a 'big boy.') I needed 'liquid'. Needless to say I put on a huge amount of weight and my doctor was absolutely horrified when I got onto the scale!!! A diet of Coca Cola, cashew nuts, dried fruit, dates and prunes is guaranteed to do that.

Eventually, we made our way over to the Victoria Falls, which are every bit as awesome as you might imagine them. We spotted the 'mist' from miles away and stopped to take some photos. I know we have an amazing slide taken through a glass bottle.

We booked in at the local game park and stayed in one of their cottages that came complete with a resident cook who would have done us proud if we'd had any food with us.  We hadn't anticipated doing any cooking, didn't have any supplies and the shops were closed by the time we realised we might be going hungry that night. Needless to say, we were feeling pretty disgusted by that stage so we decided to go for a walk through the 'rain forest'

It was late afternoon, we didn't have a brolly or a raincoat, but we did enjoy our walk through the spray.  We got pretty wet, but it was all so spectacular we didn't mind.  Standing on the edge of the cliff, admiring the view, we turned to remark on it to the couple standing next to us and were absolutely gobsmacked to realise we knew them.  Very well, in fact.  My dad's older sister and her husband were staying only a few doors down from us! None of us knew the others were even in the country! (This has happened a few times in our travels.)

Wonders never cease!  When they realised we were going to have to go to bed hungry that night they invited us over for dinner!  Way to go aunt!

Now, I don't remember what we ate.  It's hardly relevant.  What I do remember is standing in the kitchen with my aunt and hearing what sounded like rocks falling on the zinc roof.  We rushed outside to see what was happening and joined our men on the verandah where they were watching a herd of elephants in 'the garden' next to the cottage.  They were that close!  A huge male had his tusks on either side of the Maroola tree that had long branches overhanging the kitchen and we watched, enthralled as he looped his long trunk around the tree and proceeded to 'rock' the tree until it dropped its fruit at their feet. Maroola (or Marula as it's sometimes called) fruit is made into a potent liquor today.

That wasn't the only close encounter we had while we stayed there.  My man walked down to the river's edge one lunchtime and after he was gone I felt bad about lazing in the cottage so I took myself off to find him (totally stupid thing to do!!!).  Just as I spotted him I was practically rushed off my feet as a small croc made its way over my feet and back to the water.  A total 'townie' in those days, I got the most awful ear bashing... we'd both got an awful shock!

Today, you can visit the falls in style.  The hotel has been refurbished and we have family who have stayed there recently and rave about it.  There are lots of 'things to do' and you can fly in and fly out.

The Victoria Falls are one of the seven wonders of the world.  A must see if you ever get the opportunity.

April Blackbird

13 July 2010

Attitude of Gratitude #12

Today I'd like to express my gratitude for the miracle of modern medicine. Those of you who know me well understand that I'm very much a 'do it naturally' type of person wherever possible, but I'm not stupid! There is plenty of place in my world for both types of medicine.

My 'big girl' UK chickadee has been ill with pneumonia and has reacted well to the antibiotics her doctor has prescribed so she's on the mend. It wasn't that long ago that she would have been admitted to hospital and would perhaps have got a whole lot worse before she got to get better again.

Even today, children in developing countries still die of pneumonia as a complication of measles. Shocking, when we have a treatment. We even have a vaccine for measles (we won't open that can of worms here, suffice to say that nobody who has had a child desperately sick with measles would willingly allow their child to contract it, it's a dreadful disease that can have truly awful repercussions). My maternal grand-mother lost her firstborn son to measles at the age of three. She went on to have another 5 children but never recovered from the traumatic loss.

Doctors Without Borders are doing a great job, helping wherever, whenever possible. I'm constantly impressed by the willingness of people to volunteer where and as necessary. I know they're not the only NFP worth talking about... there are a lot of good people out there, with hearts in the right places, doing incredible work to help others less fortunate than themselves.

So, yes... I am grateful for the miracle of vaccines and antibiotics, and the list goes on. Mostly, I'm grateful to the wonderful people who have contributed to these miracles.

April Blackbird

I'm also most grateful for the fabulous new anti-allergenic plasters we can buy now!

The most dangerous cake in the world!

A friend emailed me this recipe today and I can't wait to try it out...  a 5 minute 'chocolate cuppa cake', which means that at any given time of the day, or night, we're only 5 minutes away from gastronomic heaven.  I had to share it with you.

4 tablespoons gluten free flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) and a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large microwave safe coffee cup (which I'd presume you'd want to spray with anti-stick first)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  
Add the egg and mix thoroughly. 
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. 
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. 
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! 
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous. 

I reckon you could add a few nuts and/or berries and I'd be inclined to add a dash of chili ('cos I love chili and chocolate together).  


April Blackbird 
With grateful thanks to the originator of this email...

10 July 2010

The Toy Society

Have you heard about The Toy Society?  I stumbled across it one day in my web surfing and I think the concept is such a great idea!    It's all about "random acts of craft" and giving gifts anonymously to perfect strangers.  

The project was started in Australia in 2008 by a local crafter named Bianca and has now expanded to include crafters the world over.  People create soft toys of any description, put them in a little ziplock bag with a note saying "Take me home I'm yours", and then leave the little bag somewhere it will be found.  Each drop has a unique number, and sometimes the finders write in to say they have found one of these toys.  

What a great idea!  There are currently over 2500 members and anyone can join.  I think I might give it a go.  I will have to include my note in English and Spanish though!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

07 July 2010

Don't worry about us, we have huge liferafts!

We have just had our annual onboard safety equipment check and as part of that our liferafts were inflated and checked for holes etc...   I had no idea they were so huge!  For a crew of 4 with a maximum guest capacity of 11 we have two 16-man liferafts and one 8-man liferaft!  So don't worry about us sinking.... we're covered!

This is one of our 16-man liferafts with the food and water rations and other important bits and pieces we might need if we have to abandon ship.

The sachets are water, and the white blocks are the food (mmm... looks good huh?).  I guess any food would look good if you were lost at sea for a day or two.  There are also flares, a fishing line and lure, a first aid kit, scissors, a bailer, insulation blankets, an epirb, a manual pump (in case the liferaft starts to deflate) and a radar reflector.  Now lets hope we never ever have to use these things.


Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

06 July 2010

Food for thought # 3

I've had this abstract thought for quite some time and I've been checking with my friends... seems I'm the only one around who wonders about things like this, so I thought I'd check with 'all' of you out there.

If someone were to make a film about your life, what music would it be set to?

I told you this is an abstract thought!  Anyway, it should give you some food for thought.

I'd love to hear what you come up with... 

I've sat listening to the music played at some of the funerals I've attended and I couldn't help but wonder whether the 'dearly departed' would have approved of it.  Did it typify their lives?  Did it have some specific significance?  Does it resonate in some way with their souls?  Heaven only knows I can never listen to 'Rock Of Ages' without thinking of my maternal grandmother humming tunelessly to herself as she hovered over her boiling pots.

Personally, I'm rather keen on a huge symphony of various wind instruments blended skillfully alongside the fey tinkling of piano keys.

Sunday Stash #22 on Monday

Oops I missed Sunday!  But here are a few fabrics I purchased recently (I know I'm not supposed to be buying fabric, but there was a really big sale on at This and That from Japan, so I felt justified).  I just love Japanese fabrics.  I haven't yet worked out exactly what it is I love about them, they just call to me.

Have a great week!

Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

02 July 2010

The Stonesoup Free Ecookbook

I came across a link to the Stonesoup blog the other day when I was reading my usual blogs.  Jules Clancy is the author of the blog... She is a food scientist based in Sydney and did have a job as a chocolate biscuit designer (wow!  dream job...), but is now a full time blogger.  This is what she has to say about her blog:

"stonesoup is a blog about helping people become better home cooks by using a minimalist approach to cooking.
It’s about reducing the number of ingredients, the amount of equipment, the number of steps involved and the time we spend in the kitchen to a minimum so we can focus what’s important.
It’s about simple, wholesome, delicious food that is easy to prepare and still fun and satisfying to eat."
Just what we all need... It sounds perfect!  Jules has very generously published a free ecookbook based on this minimalist approach to cooking.  

Go here to download the book.
If you are interested in the inspiration behind the name Stonesoup, you may have heard of the Stone Soup fable (try reading about it here and here).  When Jules was a little girl, this fable inspired her to start cooking!  Read her story here.
Happy cooking!
Arabella Chickie in Palma de Mallorca

Food for thought # 2

Do you know that many families today live on just that?  The thought, of food.  Hard to believe when our shops are filled with choice and our shopping baskets overflow. There are people 'out there' that are constantly hungry.

We live in such a wasteful society and I have to say that each time I throw out 'spoilt' food I feel a deep sense of shame.  Which might explain my weight issues.  I am unable to leave food on my plate.  Ever.  I keep hearing my mum's recriminations ringing in my ears... 'there are so many children starving in this world and yet you waste the food on your plate'.  I have to get rid of that imprint!

I wanted to share something I watched on TV this week...There's a young man running a campaign that you might have heard of already.  Live below the line - eat for $2 a day (or less).

Not only is he eating for less than A$2 a day, he's also cycling to work and back. Needless to say, I'm impressed and am seriously considering joining his challenge.

You can join the challenge from the 2-6th August. Whether or not you do, I'm pretty sure you'll think twice next time you begin your shopping.

Last, but definitely not least...There's a group of people in Australia who have set up OzHarvest and they collect excess and left over food from shops, restaurants and hotels etc.  They do an amazing job!  Without them many would go hungry. I know this concept isn't unique to Australia.  I still think it's pretty brilliant. 

Now I'm off to cook my family a hearty meal that will stick to their bones.  It's cold out.  

April Blackbird

01 July 2010

Have baby, must feed... even when you're out.

I keep promising to post these photos of my latest attempt at getting the 'feeding cloth' right.

I was very happy to find Burnt Street upholstery materials in Seaforth.  There's a whole group of shops devoted to all things fabric.  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! 

Anyway, I fell in love with this fabric.  It's double sided and the colours are wonderful.  My pictures don't really do them justice.  I did take New Mum Chicks advice on board and I made these cloths smaller and inserted a double row of 'bones' to make the hoop stiffer. 

Idea being you slip the strap over your neck, there's a buckle adjustment (non-slip) and I've made a knot so that the material can't slip out too far.

Baby goes under the cloth.  You can watch what baby does and baby can see you, but nobody else can see.

Baby likes the 'secure' environment. Mum keeps her dignity intact.

See, good strong boning this time around. Apparently, you can wash it in the machine.

Off to cook dinner.

April Blackbird