Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Green hack and a pop or two

Any guess as to what this is?

James had play group today.  Miranda, the sweet teacher, followed online instructions to make flubber using glue and cornstarch. This was the result.  It was an interesting texture.  James thought it was great.

Good thing we live close.  I foolishly did not put a smock on him and we had to run home for a quick change of clothes.  

Tomorrow Sam has her class shop and this time she wanted to bring cakepops. So after play group, James helped clean the kitchen.

I had used a store brand cake mix and when I put it into the pans I thought it looked a little full.  I was so glad that I had decided to place a cookie sheet on the bottom of the oven as the cake spilled over the edge of the cake pan as it cooked.  The cake turned out so-so.  Good enough for cake pops though.  

After dinner Sam and I jumped in on shaping the pops. 

The reason she has that look on her face is because we had to taste the pop rocks. They were popping away in her mouth.  

We ended up stirring a handful of the pop rocks into the melted before covering the cake pops. Unfortunately, neither the Nestle nor the Cadbury chocolate was on sale.  I foolishly purchased the store brand melting chocolate...I got what I paid for and won't make that mistake again. I don't think that the kids will care though as neither Sam nor James did.  

Yesterday, when we were at the shops, I bought some Vanish laundry booster.  It had previously been known as Napisan and had been marketed for washing cloth diapers.  I discovered this washing wonder on previous trips here. We've already went through one large container of the stuff.

So, I went to Big W and purchased 2 liters of Vanish Napisan. Big W is similar to walmart/target/kmart. I paid $22 for it.  Then did grocery shopping at Woolworths and saw the same jg of Vanish Napsisan for $19.50. I went back and had BigW do a price adjustment. Well, today when I ran to Foodland to search for Borax to make flubber, I saw that their Vanish Napisan in the same size container was $15.50!!!  

When I got home I told Mike about the price difference.  We both agreed that we will not be doing running around from shop to shop anymore.  I'll just buy our laundry and toiletries at Foodland when I get the groceries.  A mark up that much at a department store is just ridiculous. 

Oh, one last thing.  Miranda found these sponges washed up on the beach and thought the kids would enjoy them.  

How cool is that?  The weather is warming up a bit.  Hopefully we'll be able to do some beach combing ourselves soon.  In fact, Sam brought home a reminder that as of September 1st children will be required to wear their large brim or bucket hats to school. If they don't have a hat the children will be kept inside or in the shade.  The rest of the family will be using that day to start applying sunscreen first thing in the mornings as well.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Knit together

Yesterday when we went to the toy store Sam struggled with what to choose. I appreciated that she really weighed her options and what she would want to spend money on.  She said she really wanted me to teach her to knit and was leaning toward a knit kit made for children. I suggested that we check out the craft store first. 

Thankfully Sam agreed. We looked through the few books they had for children learning to knit. I wasn't overly impressed. I would love for 4H to put out inexpensive how to books.  Every time I was taught to knit it was on size 10 needles.  They are just about the size of the pencils used in school.  Both of the books had children learning on size 6 needles...that's too small.

Edge bypassed the books.  I figured I could find a tutorial on YouTube or pictures on some website, of I could just do what Ma Ingles did in the Little House on the Prarie and just show my daughter how to do it.  So we headed over to the yarns. Sam took all of about 30 seconds to pick out the yarn she liked.  Being the textile junkie that I am, I had to look and touch many of the yarns.  The wool was on sale and I was very tempted to buy some.  When Sam felt the wool, she immediate said "That is too heavy.  I would be too hot."  She stuck with her first decision.

We then walked up and down the isles grabbing the free little instructional papers they offer. We looked throught them. To see if any would be appropriate for a new knitter...none were.  I then remembered that loads of yarns have pattern on their labels, checked out the label on the yarn she chose and there in Sam's little hands was the perfect pattern.  A scarf requiring one skein of yarn, size 10 needles and no funky stitches.  This is so much better than the cheep kits that are on toy shelves.

Today while Sam was at school, James and I went on a run that stopped by the library.  Not only did we get a couple of family movies and books for James, we also discovered their children's non-fiction section which included loads of craft books.  We checked out two knitting books.  I'm loving our library.  It's attached to the secondary school...what a great pooling of resources.

When Sam got home she was thrilled.  Unfortunately, she couldn't understand why she needed to do homework first.  After a short discussion she understood.  While dinner was cooking we got knitting.  I feel so fortunate to have been taught to knit by several different women in my family before figuring out what worked for me as with this knowledge base I was able to adjust teaching Sam to what she was automatically doing.  FYI, she knits like my mother.  
Oh I love the way that sweet little mouth twists when she's concentrating.
This was my view.  I had to keep reminding her that you don't want to GRAB the needles, rather just gently use them to guide the tread.  Tension is one of those things that takes a while to accomplish.

Dinner was unmotivated.  I should've gone grocery shopping, but couldn't quite get it together enough today to justify it.  Instead I just used thes and that to uncreatively put various food groups on our plates.  This is easy when it comes to Mike and Sam...they had chicken.  James and I don't eat meat; actually, James is just tricky.  His protein ended up being some lovely smoked Dutch Gouda.  

He ate about half of everything.  I said he needed one more green bean and immediately he said "I ate it!"  
Oh, yes, I see that.  I guess you need to eat two.  
He was laughing so hard he couldn't stay in his seat.  Goofy goofy boy.  

To make up for my lack of creativity at dinner, came a creative twist on my old cake. Again I used leftovers.  My recipe calls for apples and nuts.  I had no nuts and the apples are getting used up quickly as the fruit of choice by the kids. My bananas are too ripe for them to willingly eat, so I used them instead of apples.  I generally throw raisins in everything I can, and decided to also add some dried apricots (chopped).  Finally, in place of the nut-sugar-butter topping, I topped the coffee cake with shredded coconut. I also halved the recipe as I don't have a 9x13 pan.

So once PJ's were on and dinner dishes were drying, we once again sat around the table to enjoy some warm coffee cake with a tropical twist.  Both kids enjoyed theirs with a little whole milk poured over the top.  I was shocked that it went over without complaint.

It was a pleasant evening that ended with us all huddled together under a fuzzy blanket watching the Muppets courtesy of the local library.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Perfectly well behaved children

Today we took the train to the city to attend's Scots Church in Adelaide, the city of churches.  It was a nice ride.  The kids were well behaved for the whole 55 minute trip. 

When we arrived at the church we were greater with enthusiasm similar to the first church we attended.  They were very friendly. The church inside was fancier than the last.  Once again we were told that there was no children's ministries. They did have a children's corner with quiet toys, books, and drawing supplies.  

Once the children were settled in the children's area, Mike and I easily found a place to sit.  The pew seats were padded and very short.  I joked with Mike that he would not be able to fall asleep because he'd fall off the bench if he did.  The back of the pew in front of us had a slanted ledge which the other churchgoers used to hold the open hymnal.  Toward the ground under the pew in front of us was a small raised piece of wood running the full length of the seating; must be a footrest and it did help to keep the bum from. Sliding off the seat.  If you would like to see this church and some of its features such as the baptismal font, stained glass windows, etc you can check out their website at

The bulitin was well organized.  At the top was printed a poem to consider for the "gathering meditation."

It doesn't have to be
the blue Iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't 
A contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

By Mary Oliver

Once again, there were only about 17 or so people in attendance. Most had walkers and silver or white hair, a few were younger.  Each hymn was accompanied by live organ music.  Neither Mike nor I were familiar with any of the hymns:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
In Christ there is no east or west
Help us accept each other
Tell out my soul

It was difficult to sing these unfamiliar hymns.  The simple trebblecleft melodies were laid out at the top of each page with the words written like poems underneath.  This layout made it difficult to know which words went with which notes.  I tonelessly and quietly spoke the words.  

The scripture was Isiah 56:1, 6-8 and Mathew 15:21-28.  Both Mike and I enjoyed the message.  The minister had discussed the Decleration of Independence and stressed that community means diversity. Church had started at 10:30, at 11:04 the minister stepped from behind the pulpit and and said the service was over so therefor the man he called up could take 26 minutes to talk about campus outreach; everyone chuckled.  I think Mike appreciated the ministers attention to time.  I often tease Mike that he should be a train conductor the way he is attentive to punctuality.  

When the service was over I helped the children clean up.  They had done very well and picked up the toys as they had played with them, so there wasn't much cleaning up to do.  As others came down the isle each commented on how quiet and "perfectly well behaved" the children had been during the service.  Once outside they ran like Puppies chasing each other.

I did have the opportunity to speak with the minister and asked him about the weathervane.  He wasn't sure and solicited one of the senior members of the church who was more familiar with its history.  She explained that when the church was built there wasn't the funds to complete the steeple.  Once the steeple was added it one of the tales buildings in Adelaide.  She's wasn't sure about why there was a weathervane, and did say that she believed it was Scottish tradition.  

So, before writing this, I Googled it, Mom was right about it having something to do with Jesus saying that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed.  You can read it for yourself here:

After church we headed back to the train station, past the university, museum, art gallery, and monuments to go to the farmer's market. I think Mike would enjoy some of the historical exhibits there...certainly not at James' pace though.  

As for the farmer's market, it was a bit of a bust as there were many food vendors, not much produce and not a single ATM machine around...the small amount of cash I did have went into the offering plate.  So much for planning. *sigh*. We headed back to the city for some lunch, shoes (for work) and a toy for each child.  

On the way home we stopped at Haigh's Chocolates.  The kids have begged to stop by every time we've gone to the city. Sam was super excited to get a chocolate.  I loved their current display.
The frogs and pandas made me think of Robbie and I when we were little.  I loved everything panda and Robbie loved everything frog.  And look at the size of those chocolate frogs!

As for Sam and James, they each got a solid milk chocolate teddy bear. 
Sam was very gentle eating hers.  Not sure about James, his was gone before I knew it.  

You know, sitting in the church this morning made me feel sad...all the empty children's programs...generations absent from attendance...the void is deafening.  Our family doesn't typically attend church weekly and working every other weekend for the last 14 years hasn't helped our attendance.  I certainly hope that we manage to find our church before I am put on the roster at work.  The kids and I did really like the atmosphere and feeling of family at the first church we went to, without regular ordained pastors giving messages it is hard to see that being our church home.  

Prior to leaving Bellingham, Mom told me about a sermon message regarding finding a new church.  The recommendation was to attend three churches a handful of times, then. Choose the one that has the least number of things you don't like and then get active to make it better.  We will continue to look for a church home here in Adelaide.  Some will be serious searches; others, like today may be to have a new church experience while exploring someplace in our new city.  At any rate, on our walk home I glanced up and appreciated this comforting promise: