Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 21: luminarium!

The kids inside Levity III at the AWESOME Festival:

Evie had white cardboard angel wings on, which looked really cool. She said they were owl wings, though. "Owl! fly fly!"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 19: 5 things to do in Perth this weekend

19 November

Joondalup Upmarket
6-9pm, Central Walk, Joondalup

Buy handcrafted Christmas gifts, homewares, clothing and more. Live music and free children's craft activities. On every Friday for five weeks. Visit

Let’s Celebrate Belmont: Movie under the Stars
6.45pm, Garvey Park, Fauntleroy Ave, Ascot

Bring a picnic to see the Disney movie UP! (Rated PG). FREE!
Enq: #9477 7248 or visit

Saturday 20 November

Swan View Show
9-4.30pm, Brown Park, Amherst Rd, Swan View

Agricultural show with a wide range of competitive displays, as well as variety stalls. Adults $8, Conc. $5, children $5, under 5 free. Visit

Sunday 21 November

All Things Bright and Beautiful Open Day
10am-3pm, RSPCA headquarters, 108 Malaga Drive, Malaga

Activities and things to do for animal-loving families, including music, pony rides and tours of the shelter. Adults $5, children $3, family ticket $12 (proceeds to the RSPCA). Visit

19-28 November

The AWESOME International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things
Showcases contemporary art from all around the world. New media, film, animation, contemporary dance, sculpture, installation and theatre are presented in the Perth CBD for young people and their families.
Two FREE events on this weekend and next:
- Levity III. Immerse yourself in the light and colour of the giant inflatable ‘luminarium’. 10am-5pm Saturday, 11am-5pm Sunday, 10am-5pm during the week. Forrest Place, Perth.
- Big Picture, Small People. See the latest animation for young people. Various screening times at the State Library Theatre and Northbridge Piazza. See website for times.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 18: in the garden

We're having a hot spell here in Perth, but that means I have water from the air-conditioning with which to water the plants. I set a bucket up under the downpipe and it gives me enough for most of these potted plants.

More blueberries. We've been picking four or five ripe ones each day, just enough for us each to pop one in our mouths, yum.

A little baby strawberry :) The kids are very excited about these.

The beans are a-climbing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16 - happy face biscuits

250g butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar (forgot to weigh this for proper Thermomix conversion)
2 eggs
few drops vanilla extract
4 cups/530g plain flour
jam for filling


1. Cream together butter and sugar (Thermomix: 30 seconds or so at speed 4)
2. Beat in eggs and vanilla (Thermomix: about 15 seconds at speed 4)
3. Stir in the flour and mix to a fairly soft dough (Thermomix: add the flour in batches and incorporate until a dough is formed)
4. Turn onto a floured board and knead gently (Thermomix: 30 seconds at interval speed)
5. Roll out to 3mm thickness and cut into rounds. From half of these, cut out eyes and mouth.
6. Place on greased baking sheets and bake at 190 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown. Leave on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
7. When cool, spread biscuits with jam and sandwich together.

Based on a recipe from a very old Margaret Fulton cookbook.

Alastair helped me make these. The faces are a bit wonky and therefore creepy-looking, don't you think? We also didn't roll out the dough quite thin enough, and used quite a large round cutter, so there's a LOT of biscuit in these.

However, they sure are yummy! There's nothing like making food with happy faces on for a feel-good activity :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bargains at late-night shopping - Day 15

49c for a 500g punnet of strawberries! I bought four ... I did leave two for other shoppers. ;)

Amazingly, only ONE berry in the 2kg had to be thrown out. About a quarter were good enough to eat whole and are in the fridge for the kiddies, and the other 1.5kg are chopped up in the freezer, ready for smoothies, icypoles, muffins and anything else fun I think of.

Today I also had about 5 litres of milk to use up. People have been sick this week, and we get 10L delivered each week - delivery day is tomorrow. So tonight I've made 1.5L of vanilla ice-cream, a batch of vanilla custard, a batch of chocolate custard, and I've currently got yogurt going and am about to make mini-frittatas before heading to bed. Alastair and I also baked some yummy biscuits, but I'll save those for tomorrow's post.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Changing rooms ... Day 14

... we spent today switching furniture between rooms. If you haven't seen my house, you'll have very little idea of how tricky it was. Let me paint a picture: Federation-era semi-detached duplex half. Three large rooms at the front, long corridor - not terribly narrow but we've lined it with bookshelves. Therefore moving large pieces of furniture required moving some other stuff outside temporarily and being very careful around corners.

Previously, we had our bedroom at the front, all three children in the largest room, and Garry had his office in the third, which also had a sofa-bed. Our living area is tiny, and the kids would all end up there all day, which didn't bode well for the summer holidays. And the office didn't get used most of the day, while Garry was at work.

So we shifted his desk into our bedroom (which required moving one wardrobe out), and moved Emma's stuff into the third room. Now she has her own room, with a sofa-bed, and hopefully they'll get on each other's nerves less. Garry is often working after I go to bed, so hopefully we can manage like this until we extend.

Does anyone else live in a small space - or relatively small given the number of people in your family? How do you make it work for you?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 things to do with your kids in Perth this weekend

(And they won't break the bank either.)

Friday 12 November:

Turning on the Christmas Lights
7pm, Forrest Place, Perth.

Free! Check out the giant Christmas Tree in Forrest Place, towering at more than 13 metres tall and decked out with more than 2000 lights, and the arrival of Santa to switch the lights on. Enquiries: 9461 3368 or visit

Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 November:

Perth Heritage Days
All around the city

Free! Celebrate the heritage of our capital city. A huge range of activities are planned for the whole family, including:
- Horse and cart rides around the city
- Open day with rides on vintage fire engines, displays and a water pumping competition.FESA Education and Heritage Centre, Old Central Fire Station, cnr Murray & Irwin Sts, Perth.
- Archaelogical activities at Government House, St Georges Tce, Perth.
- Story-telling and children’s activities at the Royal Perth Hospital museum, Wellington St, Perth.
- Children’s activities at the City of Perth Library, Law Chambers (lower floor), 573 Hay St, Perth.
For a full schedule of events, visit

Telethon Kids Carnival
10am-5pm, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre

A variety of children’s rides, including a bouncy castle, ferris wheel, aqua bubble and rollercoaster, along with face painting, balloon-twisting and other entertainment. All rides included in entry fee (bargain!!). $5 per person. Enquiries: #9344 0754 or visit

Sunday 14 November:

Castledare Miniature Railway Family Fun Day
Castledare Place, Wilson.

Activities include two bouncy Castles (one for special needs children), face painters, Faerie Cara, an animal nursery, raffles, unlimited train rides (shoes must be worn) and a sausage sizzle. Adults $10, children $5. Bookings essential: 0402 505 767 or 0413 434 669.

Little Feet Festival
1pm-5pm, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup

Free! With the theme ‘Feel the Rhythm’, learn about song, music and dance. Live music with interactive workshops and jam sessions. Adults can also browse the Junior Upmarket on-site. Enq: #9400 4705 or visit

I'm hoping to share these lists regularly, let's just say this kind of information-gathering is my job :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 9 - blogging on blogging

I am reading an interesting discussion on one of my favourite birth/parenting forums, about whether some of the 'big' mommy-bloggers are, well, keeping it real, I guess. You know, the ones where there are always pictures of the huge numbers of crafts these mamas churn out, their perfect children and their perfect houses. How do they DO that?

As you can tell from my intermittent blogging, I can't do that! I am 'real'. Still, I don't show you photos detailing the extent of my messy house. I have a LiveJournal for that! It is mostly friends-only for that reason. I suppose this blog, if I kept it up properly, would be my public persona. I don't pretend to be someone I'm not, but I also leave out some of the bad bits. The very reason this blog is titled 'Surprisingly Domestic' is because I never expected to be domesticated at all! I love sewing, but rarely get time to do it. I cook, but mostly just to feed my family. And I don't think I will ever manage to maintain my house clean or organised.

I think most of the blogs I read are pretty real. I also read the 'perfection' ones, which gives me something to aspire too, I suppose.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 8 - Kitchen

I thought I would share a 3D drawing of what my new kitchen will look like ... eventually. If you could see what I work with now, you would understand why this is so exciting!

Sorry for the poor-quality photos. This shows the whole extension/renovation that will hopefully take place. Where the ensuite and laundry are in the drawing, that's my current kitchen. Beyond the 'family' room in that drawing, is now only a lean-to with laundry, bathroom and toilet. The family room currently has four doors, so it just doesn't work. (It's a semi-detached duplex half, hence the other house you can see to the right-hand side.)

I will have a linen cupboard! And a pantry! Cupboard space! And a bathtub.

Where'd Day 7 go?

Damn. Only a week in and I missed a day!

In my defence, I was up until 3am finalising my work submission for the month, and baking 32 cupcakes, among other things.

I will write a proper post this evening.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy birthday to Emma! - Day 6

It is my elder daughter's birthday today. Eight years old. Where does the time go? We had plans for a nice park party, possibly the last time as she might feel too grown-up for that next year. However, bureaucratic squabbles meant the new playground didn't open in time and we had a party at the local swimming pool instead, which was fun, but I get mentally exhausted trying to watch children at the pool.

I baked cupcakes to avoid having to slice a cake. I get a bit of an inferiority complex at school birthday parties - almost everyone brings bought/professional cakes. Still, Emma liked them and the kids all ate them, so I think I did ok.

Basic chocolate cupcakes with piped buttercream icing. The sprinkles and yellow food colouring are both all-natural and found at the supermarket - Nemar natural 100s and 1000s (my local Coles doesn't stock these, but my local IGA does) and Queen natural food colouring (found at Coles).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 5 - 5 good things about today

I've been feeling rather wallow-y this week. So here are five good things about today, the fifth day of the week AND the month.

1. Walking around the park with my big-little boy and his kindy class (and the rest of the school) for the school walk-a-thon.

2. Rain. Only a little, but still nice for this time of year.

3. Getting a reasonable amount of work done today.

4. Getting house plans for our extension from the builder. Now I'm dreaming of a linen cupboard, a full-sized bathtub, a second bathroom, double-door pantry, 900mm oven, and actual cupboard space in my kitchen. Not to mention living space where we don't constantly trip over each other. Fingers crossed the costing comes in under budget! At the moment we have 2 bedrooms, a study/office/junk storage room, tiny kitchen, small & awkward dining-living area, and the wet areas in a dodgy old lean-to extension. There's not a lot of room on the block for expansion (we can't afford to go up at this stage), but this is quite cleverly designed and eliminates some awkward spaces we have now.

5. Today is my big girl's last day of being seven years old!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4

I'd like to post that I've achieved something so far this month, but I haven't.

Alastair has had both his school days off sick this week. He's going to school tomorrow, but Evie has to stay home from daycare. She's not acting sick but has spots of some sort so, since chicken pox is going around, I'm keeping her home to be safe.

Today, Garry was home sick too.

My deadline is on Monday. Emma's birthday is on Saturday, as is her party. I need 30 cupcakes for school on Monday, and 15 for the party. The in-laws are coming to visit on Sunday for E's birthday and the house is a mess even by my standards. Breaaaaaaathe.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Public transport and children (Day 3)

I read an interesting article today.

Why public transportation is good for kids

[...] My husband, Adam, and I live in Seattle, in a (somewhat) dense, (fairly) walkable neighborhood. We have two children, ages nine months and (as of today) three years. We enjoy books and brunch and basketball. (Actually, we enjoyed basketball before David Stern and Clay Bennett stole our team, but that's a topic for a different column.) We visit the Science Center and the Children's Museum and, weather permitting, lots of beaches and parks. We attend church on Sundays. We practically live at the library. Oh, and we don't own a car. On purpose.[...]

It's an American article, but applicable to many of us living in suburban Australia. Obviously access to decent public transport is a privilege, but I've sampled the public transport systems in Sydney, Brisbane/the Gold Coast and Adelaide, and have extensive experience of Perth's public transport system, and I would venture to say that most people in most suburbs have enough access to public transport to use it occasionally, at the very least. The more people use it and demand better services, by the way, the more likely we are to get better services.

Some points the author made that I really liked, or drove home a point:

- Cars discourage exercise. If I could hop in a car and drive whenever I felt like it, I probably would, even if I had good intentions. Since I don't have that option, the children and I get our 30 minutes of physical activity a day just doing the school runs. A short return trip on public transport with 5-10 minutes' walk at each end equals 20 to 40 minutes of walking without going out of your way.

- Air inside cars has significantly higher concentrations of carbon monoxide than the air directly outside of them.

- Cars are more deadly than any disease or other threat, and far more dangerous than buses or trains. When traveling to school, a child is eight times safer on a bus -- even without belts or boosters -- than in a car. Even when you factor in extremely rare instances of crime on transit, buses are still the safest way to travel on American roads. (I'm sure the statistics here are not vastly different.) This is a huge one for me. I've been flamed on the internet before for taking my kids in a taxi, occasionally, when we get 'stuck' somewhere, without carseats. Flamed by people who, without even thinking about it, put their children in the car for at least ten journeys a week (thinking of an average schooling family who drives to school, this doesn't even allow for weekend or evening outings). Obviously, both of these situations have risks, but at least I make this decision - maybe once every few months - aware of the risks and having exhausted other options.

On a lighter note, most of the time the public transport trips are great fun for my kids. Sometimes it's a challenge, sure, but this is often due more to poorly planned elements of the transport system, rudeness from fellow passengers, or rudeness from bus drivers, rather than simply the fact that we are not in a car. And in a few years, I'll be able to send the kids off on the bus by themselves, a long time before they'll be able to drive themselves! (And $50 on a SmartRider electronic bus/train ticket will go a lot further than $50 worth of petrol, let alone the costs of purchasing and maintaining a car, so I can give them the financial means to greater independence, too.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2

I was going to try and actually do something interesting to post about, but Alastair is home sick so instead I'll share a picture of him asleep on the couch:

He almost never falls asleep during the day - it's a sure sign he's not well. That and the fact he feels like I could fry an egg on his forehead. I did manage to find a thermometer and take his temperature on Sunday evening: 39.4 degrees. I haven't treated it because he isn't actually acting very unwell, and isn't complaining of pain. So I will let the fever do its work. That and I think I threw out our bottle of children's Nurofen because it expired: that's how little we use it. Obviously I'd go and buy some if he needed it, and luckily for me there's a 24-hour chemist 10 minutes down the road.

Half of me is a little concerned it may be chicken pox. We had a suspected case at kindy the week before last, apparently it is hard to diagnose in a vaccinated child (as the child in question is) because it presents differently. None of my children are vaccinated for chicken pox, so we'll see. I keep checking his back and tummy for spots.

Here's a cute one of Evie, she was wearing her Hallowe'en costume, but you can't really see it. I made her ladybug wings that just go on like a cape - red velour from my stash, with black spots from scraps of the skirt I cut down for Emma's costume. Then she just wore red and black clothes. She was eating a dog bone meringue at our local bakery.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Thanks to the inspiring examples of Emma @ My House Smells Like Vanilla - who brought up the idea of NaNoBloMo - and April @ A Day in the Life, who did Blogtober, I am going to attempt to blog every day this month.

So, what's happening?

1. I've also signed up to Wardrobe Refashion this month, as we're trying to rein in the budget and I keep buying new clothes for the children. NO new clothes for the kiddos or me for two months. They have heaps, so I don't know how much refashioning I'll need to do, but I do need a pair of shorts, which I am going to attempt to make from scratch.

2. I made/improvised the children some costumes for Hallowe'en. We don't really *do* it here, but there were a couple of free local kids' events on, so I figured why not? The costumes cost me a total of about $6 and we gained a couple more items for the dress-up box. Pics to follow!

3. Christmas is coming. I need to make a pudding and cake soon, the old-fashioned way where you leave them to rest for well over a month. Most of the presents for the kids are either already hiding at home or on lay-by, so we're not doing too badly there.

4. I have a deadline for a 5000-word calendar, next Monday. Hmmm, this working from home thing is trickier than I thought.

One post down, 29 to go!