Saturday, June 28, 2008

The crying game

Well we are doing a bit of controlled crying to try and solve the problem of our Wakeful Baby Girl. The time has come. We have become desperate.

I can't manage any more nights of 4-6 hours broken sleep, when she won't even go to sleep without a fight after a middle-of-the-night feed. I know it's 'normal' for babies to wake at night, but it has become a real problem for our family so we need to sort it out. What she has been doing is not normal for this baby. She is exhausted and irritable during the day because she's not sleeping well.

It doesn't mean that my heart isn't being ripped out and trampled on the carpet when she is crying.

I have finally managed to work out how to add a photo. Well, no, it's not that hard, but the stoopid internet wouldn't let me do it the previous times I have tried. Alexander is 4 yrs 9 months, Lillian is almost 9 months.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fast food

Variations of this dish have become a bit of a hit in our house. It's even quicker than stir-fry because you don't have to cook any rice. Even Lillian gets stuck into the noodles, slurping them up with gusto, flinging them around the high chair, sucking on the chicken, chewing her bowl... you get the idea.

Hokkien Noodles with Chicken (or Prawns...)

For two adults, one child and one baby: 2 chicken thighs or 1 large chicken breast (or 200g green prawns for a change), cut into strips

Vegetables: I use 1 onion sliced into wedges; 1 clove garlic, sliced; and usually about 3-4 other types of vegetables, sliced. Tonight I used 1 carrot, 3 mushrooms (shiitake mushrooms are delicious), 1 head of pak choy, 1/2 green capsicum.

Dashes of: Ketcap manis, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sweet chilli sauce to taste.

Noodles: 1 packet of Hokkien noodles, to be found in the fridge section of the supermarket.

Heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan or wok. When hot, stir-fry the chicken until cooked and golden, adding some ketcap manis. Remove chicken to a bowl. Then stir-fry the vegetables starting with the garlic and onion, then the harder vegetables first until all are tender crisp. While you're cooking the vegetables, put the noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let them sit for 2-3 minutes, then toss with tongs to separate. Return the chicken to the pan, or if you're using prawns add them now and cook till they turn pink, along with the sauces to taste, and finally the drained noodles making sure everything is mixed nicely. You can also add a handful of bean sprouts at this point. Tuck in!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge

A year and a half ago I made contact again with a dear friend I went to school with. And I mean primary school, so it was a loooong time ago.

Susan Cook was part of a small group of children that I found myself in at St Martins Primary School in Christchurch, and we all became fairly close-knit during the two years before high school due to the fact that we were moved up a year and arrived en masse in Form 2 having bypassed Form 1. I imagine this was something of an experiment in education for the early 1980s, but it worked really well and we all survived. I remember sitting in a group in Mr Kennedy's class, scared of all the big Form 2 kids who knew More Stuff than we did. Turns out we were okay after all. Several of us still keep in contact sporadically, mainly encouraged by Roger Dennis who somehow manages to keep in contact with lots of people. Go Rog.

Nowadays, Susan and her other half Marion 'Weasel' Boatwright are now running the Rough and Tumble Bush Lodge on the west coast of the South Island, New Zealand, and it looks absolutely brilliant. The website is a great read, with lovely pictures and interesting information. The brief story of how they developed the Lodge is worth a read - on previous incarnations of the website they had a much longer version complete with in-progress photos of the building. What I would give for a weekend there!

Pear and Almond Teacake

I made this for dessert last night based on an Apple Teacake recipe I've made before. It took about 5-10 minutes to prepare.

Pears are beautiful at the moment, I have been buying 2kg bags of beurre bosc pears for $3.50. Yum.

Pear and Almond Teacake
100g self-raising flour
50g polenta
1/4 cup ground almonds - alternatively you could use walnuts - I keep raw almonds in the pantry for snacks and just whizzed them in a food processor
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 or 2 pears, peeled and sliced
1 tsp sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200C. Grease an 8" springform cake tin or use a ring tin (nice).
Mix flour, polenta, almonds, sugar in a bowl. Add egg, cooled melted butter and milk and mix together.
Pour into the prepared tin and arrange pear slices on top, sprinkle with cinnamon and a tsp of sugar.
Bake 30 minutes.

Delicious with yoghurt or ice-cream, or just on its own. The nuts and polenta add a nice texture.

If you don't have polenta or almonds, or don't want to add them, use 150g flour instead of 100g.


We're thinking of a trip in 2009. To visit dear friends, and see some sights.

I've spent time in New York, Los Angeles, other parts of California, parts of Arizona (Grand Canyon) and Utah (Bryce Canyon) and a few visits to Chicago. Never been to Boston or Washington DC. David has never been to the USA.

Any recommendations?

I'm suddenly so excited to see old friends again!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tagged - some facts about me

Here we go then. "Some facts about me" meme. Thanks Penni!

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

In 1998 I was living in Los Angeles, finishing off my doctorate. In January I saw an ad for a lecturing job in Hobart, Tasmania, but didn't apply because, well, I didn't know where Hobart was and I didn't think I'd want to live there anyway. A friend persuaded me to apply, which I did (three weeks late - can't believe they even read the application! - and they flew me to Tasmania for a week in March to give some lectures, teach a bit, and interview for the job, which they offered me half an hour before I had to get to the airport to fly back to the States. I didn't sleep a wink the whole flight. I was really struck by how beautiful Tasmania was and immediately thought it was a place I'd love to live. I decided to accept the job and give myself 5 years before moving on. That was 10 years ago. So in May 1998 I finished my thesis (flute concerto), graduated with my DMA, and then went on a three-week holiday to Europe with my family. It was a lot of fun, I'd never been to Europe before. I went back to Los Angeles and had three weeks to pack up my belongings and move to Hobart at the end of June, to start my new job on 1 July. I met a lovely man named David who was on staff at the Conservatorium, and we started hanging out together just as friends at the end of that year. That's what I was doing 10 years ago!

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world:

1. Red Rock Deli Chips.
2. Chocolate biscuits, any type.
3. Licorice Allsorts.
4. Barbecue Shapes.
5. Crackers and soft cheese like brie, and cashew and parmesan dip. Mmmm.

Five (snacks I enjoy in the real world) more nutritious snacks (since I am not opposed to eating the above in this plane of reality):

1. Mandarins.
2. Crackers and a little bit of cheddar cheese.
3. Almonds.
4. Muesli.
5. Mangoes but golly they're expensive in Tasmania, even in summer.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Have a fairy who comes into my house every morning to give the place a quick clean up after the breakfast chaos, puts the washing out and then disappears until the next day bringing milk and fruit as it's needed. And a nanny at my beck and call.
2. Join a fabulous gym and have a personal trainer.
3. Re-furnish my study.
4. Travel three times a year, at least one of them a lying-on-the-beach type of holiday in a place with palm trees and cocktails with the little umbrellas.
5. Finish renovating this house, sell it and buy a waterfront in Battery Point, preferably with a bit of flat garden.

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Toy salesgirl.
2. Violin teacher.
3. Music lecturer.
4. Research assistant (=filing and making coffee for my dad).
5. Composer. Is that a job?

Three of my habits:

1. Nail biting. TERRIBLE.
2. Folding things neatly.
3. Gossiping!

Five places I have lived:

1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
2. Christchurch, New Zealand.
3. Rochester, New York.
4. Los Angeles, California.
5. Hobart, Tasmania.

Tracey even though she's moving house and probably won't get to this - hope it's going well TL!