What a difference a day makes

“Why is New Year’s day so special?” The Dude queried early this morning. “I mean, what makes it so different from other days that most of us have to resolve to do something different starting from today?”

It was 6 a.m – too early in my opinion to be pondering about the intricacies of how the universe worked. I grunted something incomprehensible in reply and tried to catch some extra shut eye. But the other members of the household were, by that time, already wide awake.

“it’s time for our run,” The Dude announced, “We did agree to stick to our New Year’s resolution of getting fit and eating right. Don’t want to start the year with an empty promise, do we?”


Half an hour and a quick swig of a glass of milk later, we started out of the house and headed to the running path that bound the Yarra river.

“I will run ahead- see you in a bit!” cried The Dude. And off he went, in a few seconds, he was out of sight.


With Bugs strapped to me in the baby carrier, we walked steadily on the path which followed the meandering river. The river was full and the water was calm. Light from the morning sun hit the water at an angle which reflected the surroundings perfectly. We passed the historic Como park and in a few minutes, found ourselves at Como landing, where The Dude was waiting patiently for us.


We headed back home and tucked into a sinful little breakfast involving toast, lots of butter, kaya (a coconut and egg jam) and good old Nutella.

“So much for a healthy start to the year,” I commented, in between bites, “Breakfast alone has negated all those calories which we burnt off earlier.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know. Don’t worry, we’ll try again tomorrow. Pass the Nutella, will you?”


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The baker in the closet


It started with one. One recipe. One simple recipe for pizza dough. That was bait enough to lure the baker out of the closet.

“Weather hot, pizza for lunch today, I am making it from scratch!” The Dude announced one mid morning day, “I’ve got everything I need here, just sit down and relaaaaax.” he gestured me to the direction of the couch.

And so the baker got to work on his latest project and in a couple of hours- Lo and behold! A bocconcini, salami and basil pizza was presented before me!

“What do you think? Not bad eh? Especially the non burnt bits?” I munched and nodded my head furiously in agreement, it was delicious enough to satisfy my hunger.


But the baker did not stop there. Early next morning, The Dude was hard at work in the kitchen, weighing ingredients, kneading dough. “Fresh baked chocolate bread for brekky! Coming right up!” shouted the voice from the kitchen. A few hours later, we were feasting on yummy chocolate bread and Nutella spread (for added kick).

“These hands…..made bread…” The Dude declared emphatically, once the morning activity was over.He held up his hands and stared at them for a while. And then something magical inside him stirred.

Over the next two days, the kitchen was The Dude’s ‘garage’ of sorts. Baked goods were churned out, one after the other, in tireless succession.

There were sugar cookies with silver balls (“I made these for Santa for his Christmas eve snack!”). A buttery semolina “sugee” cake (“I thought it would be perfect for afternoon tea”). A mouth watering almond and cherry cake ( “Goes well with coffee it seems”) .


It’s been a week now, since the pop up bakery in our pad appeared. We have eaten our way through at least 3 bags of flour, at least 15 eggs, undisclosed quantities of butter and sugar and a few bags of cooking chocolate. The Dude is still in the midst of a baking frenzy – with puff pastry anything being the favourite of the moment. Oh I do hope baking heaven never ends!


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A volcano in the city

“Guilfoyles’s Volcano” were the words printed on the sign which we spotted during our Sunday morning walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

“What’s this? A volcano in the city? Is that possible?” The Dude commented.

After a few minutes of head scratching and debating about the possibility of the gardens being on the pacific rim of fire, we decided to follow the signs to check out the supposed geographical wonder.

“Hmmm….” The Dude muttered when we reached where the sign destined us to be , ” I don’t see any smoke or people fleeing from the scene, must be an inactive volcano.”

“Let’s follow this man made path to the top,” I suggested, “Maybe we will find out more and besides, there are lots of cacti which should be interesting for Bugs to look at.” Bugs clapped her hands in delight.

“Ok, but if you smell smoke or see hot lava streaming down, we must turn back immediately and run to the exit !” The safety warden replied.


Ten minutes and countless varieties of cacti later, we were finally at the top.

“The “volcano” is some sort of a reservoir which the Gardens use to water the plants, it says so on this sign here!” I gesticulated, pointing at one of the many explanatory billboards that we had missed on the way up.

“All that panic for nothing.” The Dude muttered as we made our way down the footpath and headed towards the exit.
“Well, for what is worth,” I replied, with Bugs giggling in the background, “we had a good workout and kept Bugs very entertained in the meantime!”

A fruitful Sunday morning indeed.

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A kind of grass picnic


We are officially into the summer holiday season, with The Dude taking time off work over the next few weeks. It was thus on this twenty-nine degree sunny summer day that we decided to bring Bugs out for a picnic at the nearest green space we could find….only that it happened to be made of AstroTurf grass ….

“Its the perfect picnic spot,” The Dude reasoned when I pointed out that we would not be really picnicking if it wasn’t on real grass. “Its going to be a scorcher of a day so if it gets too hot, we can simply pop into one of the nearby air-conditioned buildings and cool down.” The city mouse in me was in absolute agreement.

So we packed what we thought to be picnic essentials – picnic rug, thermos flask, some munchies, diaper bag (never leave home without it), toys for Bugs and trotted off to the AstroTurf green.

“it’s awfully quiet here,” I commented, “everyone must be out Christmas shopping.” Or dodging the heat in one of the air conditioned buildings like what sane humans do.
“No matter!” The Dude chirped back, “We get the whole green to ourselves then ! Think of it like having a private party out in the open!”

We laid out our mat and food in the shadiest spot we could find and sat down, determined to enjoy the peace and everything the outdoors had to offer, including the scorching heat.

A few people walking in the shade of the surrounding buildings pass us, one or two of them curiously staring or smiling at the three of us. “Don’t you think people are so much more relaxed and happy when it’s the holidays? I caught a few of them smiling at us already!” The Dude exclaimed, “Wave back Bugs! Say hello to that nice smiling lady over there!”


Bugs, in the meantime, bored with her toys and obviously wilting in the heat, signalled that she had had enough of our little outdoors experiment. We hastily packed up and headed indoors.

“Fantastic it was being outdoors!” declared The Dude, “Even if it was for just 15 minutes! You hardly get the chance to do that at work! And those pastries were delicious! We should do this everyday so that Bugs can appreciate the outdoors when she grows up!” Bugs, oblivious to the exuberance and chatting going on around her, had fallen asleep in the cool air conditioned indoors.


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Go Daddy!!

Daddy will run fast if I wear this!

This is a mini little pocket of happiness post really as I haven’t had much time to get onto my knitting ( oh my knitting needles are languishing away in one little dusty corner……) or try out new recipes. But I still want to get my crafty fix, with as little time spent as possible but with great results!

The Dude is participating in the FoxTel lap run as part of his annual exercise regime ( also more importantly to raise money for the Murdoch Children Research Institute, more info can be found at www.foxtellap.com.au). We thought it would be a real treat for us to bring Bugs along to check out the proceedings and provide some moral support while The Dude runs/ walk his little heart out on the treadmill for half an hour.

So I thought I would make her a special outfit for this all important-special-once a year outing, using some felt letters that I found at our local Big W store and one of her existing bodysuits:

My body suit rocks!

 A quick, simple and effective way to jazz up a baby bodysuit! Craft fix…. fulfilled!!

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Yoghurt or Ice Cream?

A question which I have pondered over many times recently….. Yoghurt or Ice-Cream ….. which would go well with the stewed fruit compote that we have been making in the past few weeks!


The weather is warming up and the slow cooker ( we really ought to give it a name.. yes its true, all of our appliances and furniture have names… I have to speak to The Dude on this…) is just about to go into hibernation till Autumn 2012 swings around. But just before it gets stowed away in a little corner of the kitchen, why not make it go the extra mile and use it to stew fruits, I thought! We have stewed fruits many-a-time over the stove top and although easy, it does require constant tending to to ensure it doesn’t burn – how inconvenient and impractical if you have a screaming infant in the house! After all, this must be one of those stovetop -or- slow- cooker- easy- substitutable-recipes, just like yoghurt or ice-cream ( although The Dude would argue that yoghurt is not a substitute for ice cream…)!

We decided to try using our usual stewed fruit combination, here’s what it looks like at the start of the cooking process..

And here is how it turned out…..


Yippee! Another successful experiment and another use for the slow cooker( need a name….need one soon….)! Here’s how the compote looks like on yoghurt or ice cream….

Both look yum!!

This fruit compote is healthy and keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. It’s pretty versatile – we used apples , rhubarb and berries in our version – this can be replaced or added with stone fruit, figs or any type of stewing fruit. It’s also great for packing with yoghurt for breakfast … we do up a few pots of these in advance for the week ahead (see picture above). Imagine having a little pot of home goodness to brighten up your day in the morning!

P.S: Can you help suggest a name for our slow cooker?

Stewed Fruit Compote

Cooking time : 2 hours in slow cooker , under an hour on stove top
Serves: approximately 4 to 6 serves

-10 Granny Smith apples
-3 rhubarb sticks
-250g frozen berries
-Juice from 1 lemon
-2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar

1. Peel and chop up apples. Chop up rhubarb stalks.
2. Add chopped apple and rhubarb, lemon juice and about 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to slow cooker.
3. Stew on high for approximately one and half hours or till apple is a little mushy.
4. Add in frozen berries and stew for further half hour or till desired consistency.
5. Add sugar and mix evenly through compote.

Enjoy with yoghurt or ice cream or on its own!

This recipe can be done over the stovetop too! Do note that the cooking times will reduce by about half and the mixture needs frequent stirring to prevent the base from burning !

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Queen of Hearts

“What should I blog about next?” I moaned to The Dude one freezing cold spring morning, ” This blogging is not as easy as it seems…” The Dude, with one eye on Bugs and the other focused on the telly ( hey its Grand final weekend after all…go Pies!) replied ” Just write about something that is close to your heart!”

And then it hit  me ….. something about knitting and family… my Queen of Hearts socks – perfect to share with the world!

Socks for the queen of our hearts!

I made these little babies for Bugs so that she would have something to remember her babyhood by ( of course the zillions of photos that The Dude and I have been taking of her on a almost daily basis would also serve as a good reminders but let us not go into that now).
The sock pattern, which was named “Queen of Hearts” was from the “Cute Knits for baby feet”  book which I refer to regularly ( seriously people, socks are real good for a quick baby project) and were fairly quick to knit up – check out the picot edging – what a nice detail to add to socks! 

Oooooo Fancy!!

Once the socks were knitted up, I stitched on the white hearts -6 in total- using duplicate stitch.

Sewed them on!

Since this was the first time I did duplicate stitching , it took me way longer to stitch on the hearts than to knit up the socks itself! No worries, at least I learnt something new and hopefully it will be quicker the next time round! Here’s a parting shot of Bugs modelling the socks – here you can see the hearts around the ankle portion of the socks a lot clearer, I hope this post made your day because knitting up these little cuties sure brought a smile to my face!!

Hearts on my ankle ... trendy!

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