Die! Onions Die!

In a night that will go down in history, Daniel not only helped me cook dinner tonight but also banished me from the kitchen when he was confident in performing tasks himself.  We were trying out my shiny new Tupperware Smooth Chopper which I purchased with him in mind.  He is beginning to enjoy helping out in the kitchen more as he gets older but chopping things finely and not getting them everywhere is still very hard.  So we made rissoles with finely chopped carrot, zucchini and onion.  he wasn’t too sure about doing the onion because he knows it can make me teary but then he twigged the fact that with the lid on it wouldn’t be a problem.  And thus came the words, “Die! Onions die! You’ll never make me cry again!”

So the onions were a highlight followed by not only having the chance to break eggs (one of his favourite activities) and then to successfully beat them (another thing that has been tricky.)

I wouldn’t leave either of my boys unsupervised to put things and and out of the smooth chopper due to the very, very sharp blades but I did retreat when instructed that, “I can make this stuff into balls now Mum!”

(This post was not sponsored in any way by Tupperware but if they ever did want us to test anything we would be delighted to do so!)rissoles rissoles1 rissoles2 rissoles3


Catching Up

I am SO grateful to have two weeks holiday for Easter this year instead of the usual long weekend followed by 4 days of frantically trying to get things done.  I pretty much slept through Easter which was much needed then took it easy last week so this week is more of a week for getting things done.  I have spring cleaned most of the kitchen including the exhaust fan and the cupboard fronts and started a few other projects.

But the thing I’ve enjoyed most is having time to catch up with people. Time to have a chat with my elderly neighbour who moved away to an assisted living place in Toowoomba today, time to sit with one of my Avon customers and drink liqueur and coffee and laugh at Bronco snuffling in her mondo grass, time to sit with one of my BFFs down at Pallara and drink coffee fairly peacefully until a certain blue cattle dog decided to terrorise one of her roosters and especially time with my boys to hang out, chat, learn new things and work on some projects together.

A very, very special catch-up has been with another BFF up in Cairns, Fiona aka Fifikins.  Fiona took up knitting a couple of years ago after I did and has way surpassed me in skills, finished projects, stash and just about everything else knitting related.  I don’t mind this one bit because I can see how how having a high-fibre (yarn) diet has really brought her a lot of satisfaction.  What I marvel at is the fact that she has never actually been inside a “brinks and mortar” yarn shop.  Cairns in far north Queensland does not have a yarn shop and I’m pretty certain that Fiona has not left Cairns in the time she has been knitting.

So she has learned to knit by making the most of what’s out there in cyber space.  There isn’t a place for her to go and have lessons in Cairns so she has taught herself, mainly through You Tube.  There aren’t regular social knitting groups in Cairns although they do have Ravelry get togethers sometimes.  Fiona has become very much involved in the whole Ravelry scene and joined in with a myriad of groups there. And earlier this year she began her own podcast.

A few years ago Eric and I were very fortunate to have a week up in Cairns with Fiona and as you would expect Fiona and I spent many long hours on her back deck with the fairy lights talking, sharing and reminiscing.  I missed that when I came home and have missed it ever since.  We talk on the phone, communicate almost daily on Facebook and skype sometimes but it just isn’t the same.

Enter the podcast!  Once a week I get to sit at my computer and listen to Fiona and see her on the deck with the fairy lights having a yarn about knitting and lots of other things.  Who knows when I’ll get to Cairns again or when she will get down here but watching the podcast is pretty darn good.  I sit with my knitting and get caught up.  I had missed a few episodes over the past month because of everything happening so over the past 2 days I’ve watched 3 episodes as I catch up.  For two of those episodes this afternoon I set myself up with my laptop on my back deck and worked on a project for school.  What a great afternoon I had!

Fiona also hosts VKNs (Virtual Knit Nights) using Google Hangouts where you can sit at your computer with a group of others on the screen and knit and chat together.  I’ve only managed to get to one of those once so I’m definitely aiming for more.

Fiona’s podcasts can be found on her blog A Down Under Yarn,podcast on the Ravelry group with the same name and on I-tunes.

The photo is Fiona and I on my back deck this afternoon.  I’m the one with the wine boxes (explanation to come!) and she’s the one on the computer screen.

Now and Then

I’ve had an interesting time with some of my students at school so far this year as they need lots of small frequent incentives to get things done.  A technique suggested by one of our brilliant Image

Special Ed teachers was to have a laminated card with “Now and Then” on it.  Then set one small task followed by something a bit more favorable to come next.  So it might be –

Now: complete a page in your handwriting book

Then: choose a book for Mrs Mc to read to the class.

It works well because the student is just looking at one task and one good consequence and I’ve got myself into a pretty good routine with it.  I keep cards on “certain” desks so I can swing by and remind them of what they should be focused on and positively reinforce their choices when they have done what was required.

Interestingly I have found during the school holidays a similar technique works here.  My boys are not always the most willing helpers and are a bit too distracted by screens.  In order to get things done and get them on board I’ve been using “Now and Then” a lot.  I’m not saying “now” and “then” but when asking them to do something or telling them something that is going to happen I include what will happen next.

For example:

  • Please get dressed and brush your teeth then we’ll take Bronco downstairs for a rumble.
  • When the dishwasher has been unloaded you can ring up X to arrange that play date.
  • After we’ve done the grocery shopping we can do some cooking together.

And on the topic of cooking we’re doing a bit more of that too. Eric and his best mate made Butter Chicken and homemade naan bread last night.  It took the best mate about 20 minutes to cut up a small pile of beans but he got it done and was pleased with himself.  I’m giving them as much choice as possible so the meals are a bit different – nachos, butter chicken, sausages and mashed potato, ravioli.  It is really gratifying to see their skills improve. Eric can now do a cake from scratch and use the stand mixer and Daniel is getting better at cutting up things.  Dan’s original food prep specialty was mushrooms because I could let him loose with a dinner knife and he couldn’t do too much damage but we are moving onto other tools bit by bit.

Museum Musings

We’ve had a long but happy day.  It wasn’t helped by the fact that two boys stayed up very late playing Minecraft last night.  However we headed off using various combinations of public transport suggested by Translink (which really works to get you places faster) to the Queensland Museum and Science Centre.  Lunch was expensive but soon devoured so we could head into to http://www.sciencentre.qm.qld.gov.au/Events+and+Exhibitions/Exhibitions/2013/02/Playing+with+Light Exhibit at the ScienceCentre.  There were lots of people and there was a lot of noise but my crew were undaunted and made sure they explored everything.  Favourites were the kaleidoscope where we stood inside a triangle of mirrors and it looked like we were standing in a crowd of “us” and the place where we could move around casting our shadows on a wall and see them sprinkle confetti. I didn’t attempt the smoky laser maze where you had to dodge and weave to avoid setting off alarms because I think Catherine Zeta Jones did the best job of that in Entrapment. I left my skin tight black lycra at home (just as well!) so i wasn’t really dressed for it either!playing with light7303_10151605758806757_1359334722_n543158_10151605758501757_90312636_n

HIghlight of the museum for me was the Collectomania Exhibition on Level 4.  The museum simply asked people from Queensland to share/loan their “collections” and this resulted in a very diverse and fascinating exhibition.  There were snow domes, rocking horses, music festival armbands and a jar with 15 years worth of fingernail and toenail clippings – ew!  I just loved the way the museum places value on ordinary things that still mean a lot to people.

The museum staff were exceptionally helpful, attentive and friendly and I imagine that could be a big ask on a day that was as busy as today.  They were genuinely interested in what they were doing and striving to make everyone’s visit a pleasant one.