May 2012

Today…

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

I am thankful my mum is here, playing with the boys.

I am thankful for the freedom to write, and to create.

I am thankful for blue sky and rolling waves.

I am thankful for latte from a sachet.

I am thankful for the healthcare we have here in Australia. We are truly blessed.

I am thankful for little feet, running around the house.

I am thankful for a husband who takes care of me, especially when I am unwell.

I am thankful for sleep. And rest. And more sleep.

I am thankful for simple things, like peanut butter on toast.

I am thankful that our family does not go hungry. I never want to take this for granted.

(Linking up with Maxabella.)

Project Life, Week 17

I’ve now completed eight weeks of Project Life, and I’m still convinced it’s the best method of memory-keeping! However, seeing as I’m currently wrapping up some other scrapbooks and albums that I’ve been working on, I’m thinking about posting about them too. Would that be of interest to you? I thought it would help to give you an overall idea of how I’ve been approaching memory-keeping, seeing as Project Life might not be everybody’s cup of tea (though it definitely is mine!).

I’ve decided to make these Project Life posts slightly shorter, so that they don’t chew up too much of your time to read! This of course means less photos. However, if you click on the images below, you’ll be able to see a much larger version of it, which means more detail.

Anyway, the above shot is the left hand page of Week 17. I love all the everyday family life photos here: Rick and Angus playing tip in the family room, the boy enjoying their bath time, Rick bustling about in the kitchen, and the delicious chicken stir fry that Rick whips up almost every week.

The Wednesday of Week 17 was Anzac Day, the day on which one of our parishioners lost his battle to cancer. After visiting him in hospital that day, we drove on to Little Manly Cove, where we had lunch and the boys got to run on the sand for a bit. This photo was taken at the Cove, and I added a paragraph of text to commemorate the date and occasion (some of this is blurred for confidentiality). Even looking at it now makes me tear up.

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With winter fast approaching, the days are getting shorter. It feels like evening begins in the late afternoon, before the day has yet reached its fullness. Most days I watch the sunlight fade from the sanctuary of my studio, as that’s when Rick and the boys usually go out to explore the yard and bush around our home. Due to my studio facing west, the sunlight is soft and golden at that time of the day, but as night continues to fall, the gold morphs into a silverish grey which I find utterly beguiling. Saturday afternoon was no exception.

We had tentative plans of driving down to the Southern Highlands this weekend but in the end opted to stay close to home. We enjoyed just being with the boys both inside and out, and in the evenings, I carved out some time to work on Pete’s scrapbook. It was one of those weekends where we had no particular plans and didn’t go to any effort to do anything ‘exciting.’ Just hanging out together as a family was enough.

What am I saying – it was perfect.

It’s funny – even though both Rick and I thrive on being around other people, we are also perfectly content with each other’s company. Unfortunately, this means that we are rather bad at making plans with friends. Combined with the fact that we’re not particularly spontaneous people, it means we usually do end up spending our day off with just us and the boys. When we lived closer to our parents, we would sometimes drop over at one of their places on a whim but even this doesn’t really happen anymore seeing as we’re a good fifty minutes drive away from their neck of the woods.

Part of it is a stage of life thing – seeing as Jamie and Pete still have a midday nap, our outings are usually restricted to the mornings or the afternoons. For special occasions or the occasional road trip, we don’t mind if boys end up falling asleep in the car, but for the most part, we do like to stick to a solid routine for their sake and ours. I guess as the boys get older and we all need less sleep (hard as that is to imagine right now), there will be more things that we can do and hopefully more people whom we can see.

But for now, this is our life, and honestly, I don’t mind it at all.

So tell me – how was your weekend?

This is what I wore after a week of wearing the same clothes when I was sick. Even though I mostly live in jeans, once in a while, it’s nice to don a dress and pretend I’m a lady.

I thought I’d start sharing my personal projects here on the blog, partly to help keep myself accountable but also to let you guys in on what I get up to in my ‘spare’ time, usually after the boys are in bed at nights.

About a year and a half ago, I started keeping a monthly projects list on Simplenote (which I sync to Notational Velocity on my desktop). This has proven to be incredibly useful in more ways than one. On the one hand, it helps me to stay focused on what I want/have to accomplish each month. At the same time, it allows me to not stress about all the other projects I need/want to be working on. The simple list format means that I can easily ‘bump’ a project to a later month. If truth be told, this happens a lot. But that’s what I love about this projects list of mine: it’s completely flexible. You can have as many or as little or even NO projects on the list for a particular month.

So here are my projects for this month and next month:

MAY

  • Set up Angus’ 4th year Project Life album – completed
  • Design new website for church – completed
  • Finish Pete’s 2nd year scrapbook
  • Sort/organise photos (Mar-Apr)

JUNE

  • Set up Pete’s 3rd year Project Life album
  • Finish Jamie’s 1st year ’365 days’ book
  • Finish Jamie’s baby book
  • Set up Jamie’s 2nd year Project Life album
  • Photograph/catalogue Angus’ preschool artwork (not looking forward to this one, if I have to be honest)

With only five days left in May, I reckon that I should be able to finish Pete’s 2nd year scrapbook, as all the photos have already been printed and cut up. I just need to stick them in and caption them. The last project, however, will most likely be carried forward to June, and I reckon at least a couple of those June projects will be bumped to July. It’s all about the shuffling.

So over to you guys – what project or projects have you been working on? Do you have a particular way you keep track of your projects?

Anyway, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend! Whatever your plans are, make sure you eat cake and cuddle the ones you love.

That hair…

…is no more. Rick gave Jamie his first haircut yesterday. Actually, he gave all three boys haircuts, but it is Jamie’s hair that I am missing dearly. It was his baby hair. It was soft. It was fine. It was blonde. It was beautiful. And now it’s gone.

I knew, of course, that it was getting too long and it needed to be cut. The rational side of me was hence completely on board with Operation Haircut. But when Jamie was sitting in the high chair out there on the grass and I heard Rick turn on those clippers, a lump formed in my throat as I held Pete on my lap. By the time I could feel tears prickling the back of my eyes, it was too late. Rick had already cut the hair off the top. There was no going back.

Afterwards, Rick asked if I wanted to save any of the hair. At first, I shook my head. But almost immediately I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. So I saved several strands of Jamie’s golden hair in a zip lock bag, which I will add to his scrapbooking box.

I know that his hair will grow back. But that’s not the point. By the time, it does grow back to this length, he will no longer be 14 months old. He will no longer be this little ‘baby.’ And it probably won’t be as fine. Or as golden.

And if you could see him now – he looks completely different. All grown up. He even started walking the very same day.

I guess, deep down, that’s why I’m sad. I feel like my baby Jamie is gone.

Instead, I have a big boy now.

And I didn’t even see it coming.

(Linking up with FYBF at Gracie’s.)

My mum always cooked from memory, never from anything that was written down. She’d learnt recipes from my grandmother as well as her older sisters. My mum would never consider herself a great cook, but to me, she is. The best, in fact. After all, she is the one who cooked for me as I was growing up, and so it is her food that brings me the ultimate comfort. Even now, when I get sick or when I am down, it is my mum’s food that I yearn for the most.

When I was about sixteen, I started shadowing my mum in the kitchen and writing down her recipes for all my favourite dishes. During that time, I discovered that her memory was like a treasure trove – full of delicious recipes that I knew I needed to keep alive. And so I scribbled them all down into a cheap, pink notebook that I’d grabbed from the newsagent. Childish handwriting and all. But though the notebook may appear shabby, it is one of my most prized possessions.

And so friends, I hope you’ll enjoy these recipes which I’m going to start sharing here on my blog. This is the food from my childhood. This is the food that makes me happy. This is the food that forms a part of who I am.

These are from the heart.

First up is the best beef stir fry ever.

What you will need: Beef skirt / soy sauce / cornflour/ salt / sugar / sesame oil / oil

According to my mum, beef skirt is the best cut for stir fry. However, if you try to purchase this from a western butcher, they will charge you an arm and a leg for it. So my advice is to track and track down an Asian butcher near you. They sell beef skirt for almost half the price.

Slice the beef skirt up thinly using the butterfly method. Add a spoonful of cornflour, a spoonful of sugar, a few splashes of light soy sauce as well as dark soy sauce, and a splash of sesame oil (I’m afraid there are no exact measurements to be specified here – mum always just added amounts based on her instinct and experience). Mix the beef and the marinade until beef is evenly covered. Add a splash of water along with some oil, and mix once more. The longer you can allow the beef skirt to marinate, the softer and more tender the beef will be. My mum used to leave it to marinate overnight whenever possible.

Heat up your wok or frying pan until it is very hot. Over this high heat, lay out the pieces of beef skirt as flatly on your wok or pan as possible. Even though this is called a “stir fry,” the best results are actually produced by not stirring the beef around. Once the beef looks like it’s almost cooked through, turn each piece over carefully and allow the other side to cook through too. Remove from your pan or wok.

This beef stir fry is best served with chinese broccoli (otherwise known as gai larn or kai lan), choi sum or bok coy. My mum used to pick whatever looked the freshest from our local Asian grocery store, but these days you can easily buy these Asian vegetables from your favourite supermarket. Here, Rick has added red capsicum to the bok choy for some extra colour (plus, we always have spare capsicum in our fridge, I’m not sure why).

And of course, rice. Or if you’re short on time, cook up some rice noodles. Either way – this is seriously the best beef stir fry you’ll have in a very long time. Even our boys love it. Now, that’s saying something, right?

(Linking up with The Organised Housewife.)

As of this moment…

I am loving the Autumn season, especially being able to watch the leaves change colour. There is something cleansing about it. And poetic too.

I am relieved and grateful that my cold is gone, and that I’m sleeping at nights again.

I am so excited about our ferry trip with the boys this morning. They were all such a delight and so well behaved the entire time. We drove to Manly Wharf, and then caught the ferry to Circular Quay where we got out for some milkshakes and coffees. A lady sat opposite us for the return trip, and as we were disembarking, she came up to me and said, “You’re a beautiful family.” I was so touched.

I can smell Rick’s spaghetti bolognese simmering on the stove top.

I’m watching Whose Line Is It Anyway, and laughing my socks off. Gosh those comedians are talented.

I am thankful for a night off together with Rick.

I hope that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is good!

I am looking forward to EQUIP tomorrow.

I am already missing Rick and the boys.

I would truly love to grow our family.

But, I trust in God’s timing.

I know He is in control.

Project Life, Week 16

Still loving Project Life! I’m getting slightly quicker at it every week, which is quite a relief because in the beginning, it can be feel quite overwhelming. I would like to be completely transparent and reveal now that my incentive for completing this blog post is a handful of Maltesers which I’m allowing myself to consume at the end of this. So let’s do this:

The left hand page for Week 16. It was a rainy sort of week, so we were indoors a lot hence quite a few snapshots of the boys doing their ‘thing.’ I just love the shots of Pete on our red retro phone. It’s disconnected but the boys love pretending to make calls on it. Here, Pete was on the phone with Nan. Also included on this page are some gorgeous garden flowers from one our parishioners (first photo above).

Still loving the typesetting for the introductory photo. This photo is of the boys looking through an old photo album filled with photos of Rick and myself before they were around. I had fun asking them “Where’s daddy?” and “Where’s mummy?” and they had fun getting all the answers right!

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This is my man…

…ironing and hemming curtains for our walk-in wardrobe. He is a man of many talents, my husband, and this is one of them. More amazing is the fact that he chose to do this on his day off, during the precious two hours when Pete and Jamie are asleep. He knew that the fraying curtains had been on my mind for some time, so he took action without me even having to remind him. Does my hubby love me? I say yes.

Having scrolled through my faceless self-portraits, I realised just how much I’ve missed doing them. So guess what? I’ve tracked down a mirror in our new place that will allow me to take somewhat decent self portraits. And by ‘somewhat decent,’ I mean that only the top two-thirds of me will be visible. But don’t worry, you guys. You’re not missing out on much. My feet are quite uninteresting. Boring, in fact.

Anyway, this is what I’ve been wearing all week, no exaggeration whatsoever. Mainly because I’ve been sick with the cold, and this is my ‘I-have-the-cold-and-don’t-feel-crash-hot’ look. Lovely, right? Today I finally put on some new clothes, which guarantees there will be at least one photo for a new outfit post next week. Am I on a roll, or what?

Despite feeling exhausted and crook this week, I’ve loved:

  • watching Pete play in the dining table cubby house;
  • sipping lemon water;
  • finding pretty yellow flowers at the beach; and
  • taking naps in the afternoon sun.

A big thank you especially to my amazing mum yesterday for looking after all three boys by herself for almost three hours so that I could snooze. Talk about selfless mothering.

Thank you also to everyone for their well wishes for Jamie. He’s finally started sleeping through again these last two nights, after three nights on interrupted sleep. Mummy and daddy are very thankful…

I shall sign off now to spend the rest of the afternoon with the family. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Any special plans? Rick and I are looking forward to a movie night at home this evening, and I’m keen to get started on Angus’ Project Life album as well (speaking of which, I shall have a Project Life update early next week). We are also celebrating Rick’s grandpa’s 98th birthday on Sunday, which is simply amazing. Above all, I’m hoping to rest more and start recovering.

p.s. In case you were curious, I did end up bringing out one of Cameron’s photo frames and Angus has been carrying it around for the last couple of days. Today, during his quiet time, he came up to my desk in the family room and said, “Mum, I’ll put Cameron’s photo here to make your office beautiful, okay?”