Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Instrospective Solstice. . .

I know it's almost a week past now, but this mid-winter I stumbled across an 
interesting post from a blogger in the Northern Hemisphere here and decided to 
have a go at the questions she posed, as a journalling exercise...

One: Did you have a word for this year? How has it manifested itself? If you didn’t have 
a word, what is the theme that has played out in your life so far this year?
Two: What are you most proud of?
Three: What have you chosen to let go of? 
Four: What has been your greatest joy or surprise?
Five: What book, movie, exhibition, tv programme, play, concert, article, 
photograph, or website has been your favourite find? 
Six: What three things do you want for yourself by the next Solstice – 
21st December 2013?
My responses...
One:  This year I kept my word from last year (recycling!) - Organise - as I don't 
feel that I got very far with it in 2012. I'm hoping to feel more in control of my 'stuff' 
and my calendar by the end of this year.
Two: Easily, my kids. All three are doing very well at school, have friends, interests 
and lively wits. They bring me joy every day.
Three: I am getting better at letting go of things I've been keeping for far too long 
for purely sentimental reasons.
Four: My biggest surprise was how well no. 2 son coped with his first interstate trip 
without the family. He's the emotional one of the boys, but was totally composed 
and excited about both leaving us and air travel.
Five: Re-discovering Carl Sagan's writing. I've had his amazing book 'Cosmos' forever, 
but hadn't really read any of his other work on subjects other than space. It's been a 
revelation. Also the first book in a new series by one of my favourite authors, Gail Carriger.
Six: More health, less stress and some empty shelves.
Well, that's my personal stocktake done. 
How about you?

P.S. " If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." Anne Bradstreet

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cooking up a storm. . .

Thought I'd try a new biscuit recipe I found around the interweb in honour 
of the school holidays starting. I can't remember where - 
I think it was on a blog. Sorry author!
(Just click on the photo or print it out to read it better.)
As there was already a full can of condensed milk, and I was going for 
some sweet additions, I cut the sugar down to half a cup. 
Otherwise the recipe was easy and yummy.
It made heaps of dough!
As advised in the recipe, I quartered the dough and made four
 different varieties. Each quarter yielded about 20 good-sized biscuits.
For Maple-Pecan biscuits, I added 100g of chopped pecans and a good
 squeeze of maple syrup. Each one has a whole pecan on the top.
I also found that in my fan-forced oven, they only needed 10 
minutes. Next I added about 120g of choc chips for these. . .
Half a cup of coconut and a splash of coconut essence for 
coconut cookies. . .
and 100g of chopped macadamias and 100g of dried 
cranberries made these. . .
Remember that  if you don't have any self raising flour, you can 
always make your own with these. . . 
Just add 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and half a teaspoon of
 bi-carb to each cup of plain flour, and you too can make a 
whole bunch of these. . . 
Yummy! Though I don't think they last very long with kids 
           home from school for 2 weeks!

P.S. Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul."  
Dorothy Day

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Up, up and away . . .

Just after 6 this morning, my middle child joined his school friends at the airport -
ready for his first interstate trip to Sydney and Canberra.
I'm feeling a little strange about it, to tell the truth. I know rationally that he'll be perfectly fine,
 but it does seem odd to send my own flesh and blood off in an aeroplane, thousands of
kilometres away, without me. This, even though he has an older brother who has
done it all before! Anyway, I thought I'd share a couple of tricks I've learned over
the years of school camps, for the benefit of those who haven't done it before . . .

1. Snap Lock bags are your friend. Get the big ones - something like 30 x 35 cm.
That way, you can pack enough clean clothes for each day into separate packages.
(Boys especially  have been known to wear the same pair of undies for a week on camp,
 left to their own devices. Eeeew!) The added bonus of the bags is that you can
 squeeze them as you seal. This takes the extra air out and makes a smaller parcel.
This is particularly helpful for 'fluffy'things like beanies and scarves, 
which can take up lots of room.

2. A pillowcase makes a great laundry bag. Pack an old one, in case of sand or mud 
(depending on where the camp is, and at what time of year). If you pack it inside out, the 
camper can use the exposed flap to hang it on the end of a bed, doorknob etc. 
Also include a plastic shopping bag for wet things, mostly generated on the last day.

3. If your school has provided a full itinerary, print out a copy and stick it inside the suitcase. 
That way your camper will know exactly what they're doing each day
 and what to wear/take.
This is especially useful for kids who might have anxiety issues.

4. Though most camps will have first aid readily available, it's comforting for young campers 
to know they'll be OK on their own with minor catastrophes - I always include a tube 
of paw-paw ointment (good for cuts, scratches, insect bites, blisters, rashes and chapped lips),
 band-aids (especially for blisters, caused by much more walking than usual!) and good quality 
throat lozenges. None of these items have to be lodged as 'medication'with staff so can
 go in with the toiletries.

5. Don't over-pack! Most of the time, campers will need to be responsible for their own 
suitcase and will need to be able to carry it. Practice at home to make sure they can manage.

And that's it.  Send them off with a photo and plenty of smiles, ready to 
hear all about it in just a short week.
P.S.  "If you would have your son walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone."  Anne Bronte


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