Saturday, 31 December 2011

Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 Movies

We cancelled our Netflix DVD service in October and now just have an instant membership.

It seems however that many of the movies worth watching are not offered via instant!

So now we use a combination of Amazon instant, Apple TV, cable TV, and Netflix instant.

I think we went to the movies once? We saw the King's Speech. Which if you could only see one movie it is an excellent choice!

Our favourites for 2011: The King's Speech, The Beaver and The IT Crowd. Of course we love all the Narnia movies too. Bleak House and North and South were both fun miniseries to watch.


The Beaver

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Blue Valentine

Thomas & Friends: The Early Years: Disc 1

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Barney's Version


The King's Speech

The Company Men

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Wild Target

Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

The Young Ones: Disc 3

The Young Ones: Disc 2

The IT Crowd: Series 3

The IT Crowd: Series 2

Morning Glory

Mary Poppins

Robin Hood

It Happened One Night

Samson & Delilah


Going the Distance

Terms of Endearment

3 Stooges 75th Anniversary: Vol. 1

Valentine's Day

Soul Kitchen


Summer Hours

Bleak House

Mary and Max

North and South

One night with the King


Man on Wire

Love's Enduring Promise

The Young Ones: Disc 1

The Special Relationship

The Ghost Writer

The Sound of Music

Beautiful Kate

Black Adder: Back and Forth

Yes, Minister: Complete Collection: Disc 4

Tinker Bell

Thursday, 29 December 2011

2011 books

Have I said this before? I love reading books. And despite having a baby to add to our brood I still managed to read a number of books this year.

Not a stellar list though and I have been having trouble picking the best.

An all time favourite is The Phantom Tollbooth. Although a children's book I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it this year on the basis of a Slightly Foxed recommendation. [If you haven't read an issue of Slightly Foxed I urge you to do so soon. And if you haven't read the Phantom Tollbooth you really need to!]

Two books that have lingered in my mind are Corelli's Mandolin [brilliant book, the movie is a disgrace to the book] and The Road Home.

My two audio books this year were I, Claudius and The Odyssey. Both are enjoyable classics.

Two authors gave names to Felicity's soft toys - Willa [Cather] and Sybille [Bedford]

In 2012 I am going to endeavour to read-down my book shelf. It is precariously stacked and there are about 40 books there - perfect for the year of reading ahead. Of course I am still going to exchange books on so the net number of books will remain the same even if the reading list gets longer!

2011 Reading list:

The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals - Pollan, Michael

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Fadiman, Anne

I, Claudius - Graves, Robert

Empire Falls - Russo, Richard

Freedom - Franzen, Jonathan

When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy - Piper, John

Granta 110: Sex - Freeman, John

Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression - Shields, Brooke

The Harmony Silk Factory - Aw, Tash

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith - Lamott, Anne

The Happiness Project - Rubin, Gretchen

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living - Oxenreider, Tsh

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemingway, Ernest

Reliving the Passion - Jr., Walter Wangerin

Slightly Foxed, No. 29, 30, 31

Will Mrs. Major go to hell? - Heath, Aloise Buckley

The Phantom Tollbooth - Juster, Norton

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Bernières, Louis de

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches - Jankovic, Rachel

Kristin Lavransdatter, Part 1: The Wreath - Undset, Sigrid

Cry, the Beloved Country - Paton, Alan

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl, Roald

The BFG - Dahl, Roald

How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture - Schaeffer, Francis

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are - Voskamp, Ann

A Lost Lady - Cather, Willa

Afterwards - Seiffert, Rachel

The Practice of the Presence of God - Laurent, Frère

Kristin Lavransdatter, Part 2: The Wife - Undset, Sigrid

The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health--And What You Can Do to Take Control Now - Lieberman, Shari

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow - Jerome, Jerome K.

The Road Home - Tremain, Rose

China High: My Fast Times in the 010: A Beijing Memoir - ZZ

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Bender, Aimee

My Life in France - Child, Julia

The Odyssey – Homer (translated by Samuel Butler)

A Visit to Don Otavio: A Traveller's Tale from Mexico - Bedford, Sybille

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World - Nouwen, Henri J.M.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas movie round up

With so much sewing to do this December I watched a lot of Christmas movies (holiday movies as the Americans like to say)

I had a long list of recommendations. Some we loved, some we didn't. Apologies to those who love the ones we didn't.

Christmas movies we liked:
  • A Heart for Christmas [Andrew's favourite]
  • A Muppet Christmas Carol
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • The Bishop's Wife
  • White Christmas
  • Christmas Vacation
  • The Nativity Story [my favourite]
  • Charlie Brown Christmas [Henry's favourite - he watched it EVERY day to see Snoopy play the guitar]
  • A Christmas Carol (George C Scott version)
  • Love Actually
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • Blackadder's Christmas Carol
  • Veggie Tales - the toy that saved Christmas [Lucy's favourite]
  • Veggies Tales - the star of Christmas
  • Veggie Tales - St. Nicholas

Movies we didn't like:

  • Miracle on 34th street
  • A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • Polar Express

Movies we haven't watch yet:

  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • Little Women
  • Shop Around the Corner
  • The Christmas Child

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas 2011

We had a ve
ry fun Christmas. I even finished sewing Felicity's stocking at 10pm on December 23! We went to church on Christmas Eve, a party at the Farvers and then church again on Christmas Day.

We were so busy playing games, skyping and eating that we didn't open presents until 6pm. Then the whining and fighting began. So maybe next year no presents!

We had a leisurely
brunch of oranges with pomegrante arils, granola and yoghurt cups, bacon and pancakes. Then an early dinner of lamb roast, potatoes and pumpkin straight from the wood-fired pizza oven. Oh so good!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Gluten free: Christmas cooking

So far:
Double chocolate cherry cookies

Pork roast with apples & cranberries
Shredded chicken tortilla soup
Apple cinnamon muffins
Cinnamon vanilla granola

Tomorrow: Autumn sausage casserole

It's still hot here, around 72 degrees today. Lucy and Felicity have both been sick (strep, ear infections) and no wonder - some days hot, some cool, some cold. It's the same temperature as Sydney at the moment. Crazy stuff and it may just be an Australian Christmas afterall!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Gluten Free: Chocolate chip cookies

I baked these cookies from the gluten free almond flour cookbook.

They are so good and yet so easy.

Henry delivered them to his CBS teachers.

Then he delivered cinnamon apple muffins to his preschool teachers.

We are loving our Honeyville almond flour.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas stockings

Auntie Kat - Lucy has a question or two for you.

Why is her stocking pointing the opposite way to all the others?

Also why are there only 7 reindeer?

I leave these with you to answer!

[Katrina kindly made Andrew's and Lucy's stockings, my Scottish grandma made mine some 30+ years ago, and I made Henry's]

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Burnt fingers

On Sunday Henry was 'helping' to make pancakes for breakfast.

He was told not to touch the frypan.

He did.

He burnt his fingers.

We put on ice, burn gel, gave him cantharis and put on Lightning McQueen bandaids.

Today he is all good.

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's finished!

Yes I finished Henry's stocking. I even went out for dinner 3 times last week and delivered a meal to a friend yesterday.

How good does it look! Henry was very excited to receive it.

Now I'm on to Felicity's stocking. However there is pretty much no way it will be finished before Christmas. While Henry's had 35 pieces, Felicity's has 152!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Why there is NOT much blogging going on...

Whilst we were unpacking our Christmas decorations, Lucy was very upset to learn that Henry and Flissy did not have Christmas stockings.

Shock horror!

So at the last minute (ie 1 December) I decided to make some.

You can see Henry's in progress.

And that is why, although there may be lots of fun things happening around here, I won't be blogging. I will be sewing. And loving it.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Happy 13th Wedding Anniversary!

We're heading out for gluten free fondue tonight.

Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Christmas time!

Lots of fun things have been happening in our house!

We spent the weekend decorating the house for Christmas. We all went to the local park and picked a tree. Then we decorated it whilst drinking hot chocolates.

Andrew and Henry started putting up lights on the outside of the house (the first time we have done this). The job isn't finished because the helper kept climbing the ladder or running away.

However it all felt sort of strange, in a fun way, because it was hot! I think it was 78 degrees which is about 25 celsius. So it sort of felt like we were in Australia.

We blasted 'Joy to the world' through the speakers and we enjoyed a lamb roast dinner. Flissy especially enjoyed sucking on a slab of lamb and protested loudly when it was taken from her.

Looking forward to more Christmas festivities in the next few weeks.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

We are heading off to see the Holmes family in a few hours for a thanksgiving feast.

We created two gluten free thanksgiving pies - one chocolate cream and the other banana cream with peanut butter and choc chips. The custard/cream tastes sooo good!

Happy thanksgiving everyone! Love this time of year.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Australian Tour announced

Have you heard the news?

Andrew's little sister is getting married!

That means we'll be visiting Oz sometime in July 2012.

Stay tuned for dates! We can't wait to see you.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gluten Free: Baking

I think one of the trickiest parts of gluten free eating (apart from eating out) is baking.

We have the main meals under control now with modified ingredients - the main changes being gf bread and breadcrumbs and gf soy sauce.

Baking is tricky because it requires rising and certain textures to make cakes and biscuits taste AND feel good.

We are checking out different recipes. Some we like and some we don't. It's just trial and error around here at the moment.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Only in America...

I used to say this a lot but now it is fairly rare. Am I becoming American or am I immune to the strange things around me?

Not sure which but in any case check out this bizarre product.

Why not just have a regular mint?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Brussel Sprouts

We've started eating brussel sprouts in our house. Well, some of us have. Henry is still holding out.

I have a good recipe that roasts them. Then I toss them with butter, lemon juice and chopped walnuts.

But something I didn't know about brussel sprouts was that they grow on a stalk!

Did you know this?

I just assumed they grew in the ground like little heads of cabbage. But apparently not.

Hopefully they will taste fresher and sweeter cutting them straight off the stalk!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Gluten Free: Pizza

Although we have our own fantastic super-secret gf Andrews Pizza dough recipe, we are always happy to check out other gf pizzas.

So we stopped in at Fuel Pizza.


I highly recommend their gluten free pizza. The only issue we had was that the toppings and cheese didn't stick to the base very well but kept sliding off. This wasn't too big a deal and we just scooped it back on top.

The cafe is called Fuel because it is in an old petrol station (gas station) complete with paraphernalia. They don't have a wood fired oven, just the regular pizza oven with the moving contraption on it. They cooked the pizzas at 390 degrees which Andrew thought was too low but the result was still good.

I really liked how they put the sauce and topping very close to the edge. And the sauce was good, tending to the sweet side. I thought it was pureed tomatoes but Andrew says smashed.

If you're in the Charlotte area check them out at one of their many locations! [they do regular pizza too!]

Monday, 14 November 2011


We bought a new-to-us car on Saturday.

It felt kind of strange leaving the Impreza behind and driving off in a different car without handing over any money.

Of course we paid for the car, we didn't steal it! [I can see K dialing the police already]

I just mean because everything is electronically done we just signed some papers and walked out. Because we had a trade-in we didn't need a deposit so I guess that's why it felt strange.

Our new car is a 2010 Honda Odyssey EX-L.

The good parts: automatic sliding doors, automatic opening boot, space for 3 car seats + much more, turning circle is awesome.

The bad parts: front wheel drive (Andrew tested this out deliberately and got one of the wheels to spin. He kept telling me about how that wouldn't happen in a Subaru as it has all wheel drive. blahblahblah), small reversing camera screen, speedometer only has certain numbers marked (ie 20, 40, 60 but not 30, 50, 70), no petrol tank indicator (ie what side is it on - actually its on the left which is annoying because 80% of cars around here have it on the left)

So all up we are very happy. It is SO nice to be able to get the baby capsule in and out safely and to press a button and Henry's door opens for him to climb in. I'm loving it already.

And Andrew is enjoying driving the other Subaru (Tribeca) to work. He now can fit more than 2 people in his car and have legroom!

And ironically for all book lovers out there I am currently reading Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus is plotting his revenge against the suitors!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Board Tennis storms North Carolina

Board Tennis, a board game produced by international designer Ben Martin, made its North American debut yesterday.

Players were initially skeptical of the game but once started they declared it 'fast paced' and 'surprisingly fun'.

All inquiries for the game should be directed to the US distributor through this website.

Disclosure: This reviewer was sent a free copy of the board game but all opinions are independent.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Half birthdays

It's that time of year for us to celebrate some half birthdays! Flissy was first up, Andrew was next and then Lucy is 5.5 tomorrow.

Flissy had a gf chocolate cake, Andrew had home made chocolate pudding (left) and Lucy ... well lets just say she keeps changing her mind about what she wants.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Home improvements

The babymoon is waning and now I'm back into projects.

First up is the repainting of the kitchen table. The table was getting pretty bad. As you can see in the before picture, before I had sanded it, the varnish was already worn off the top.

Now it is a glossy red! I also got some new chair cushions from World Market.

Not bad for a cheap ikea dining suite.

Monday, 31 October 2011

More weekend pizza parties

We're all sick. First strep a few weeks ago, then influenza last week and now this week its just regular old colds.

In between all the sickness we had two pizza parties on the weekend. First up Andrew's work team followed by the Lingenfelters & Becketts.

We were introduced to a very fun card game called Dutch Blitz. Easy to learn and it plays very fast.

The weather has turned cold and as such the pizza oven season may be nearly over. We've switched from shorts and tshirts to jeans and jumpers. Henry is still in denial and demanding shorts and tshirts. I had to force him to wear a jacket as well as shoes and socks. But he kept strong on the shorts despite the 35 degree weather!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

the gluten free journey continues

So, we're on week 3 of our gluten-free lifestyle.

It's all going well so far. Eating at home is proving to be do-able. Some days I have spent all day cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. And then cleaning up.

Hopefully now that there is a small build up of frozen meals the cooking will abate somewhat.

Going out to eat is not so fun but we'll get there and now I'm keeping a list of places we can go to. At Sweet & Savory last week I shared Jodi's flourless chocolate cake and it was excellent [but the only GF item on the dessert menu]

We've had a few slip ups. Henry snatched some goldfish at preschool, Andrew ate a crunchie (?!?!) and Lucy bought an icecream sandwich at the cafeteria.

On the whole I think we are eating better, healthy food. Above you can see the peach parfait I made for breakfast using fresh peaches, yoghurt and TJ granola. The kids weren't impressed but I thought it was awesome.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Weekend pizza party

We had a fun pizza party on the weekend! The weather is perfect at the moment for pizza - evenings are cool, crisp and getting earlier.

The family wore Andrew's Pizza gear and we hung the sign on the gate.
Henry sat on a stool and supervised all the dough rolling.

We tried out our first batch of gluten-free pizza dough and it was excellent! We used Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust mix as a base and then modified it to get it to Andrew's Pizza standard.

Thanks to the Holmes, Pennys, Townsends, Nichols, Vegas, Dyers and Goods.

Of course the next night we cooked a lamb roast in the oven for dinner!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

New wardrobe for Henry

I am in a spring cleaning frenzy!

Before tackling the pantry, I cleared out Henry's size 2 clothes and put in the size 3 & 4 clothes.

Thanks to my generous benefactor, Erica, Henry has more than enough clothes for the next few years.

Next onto Lucy's wardrobe. That girl's legs keep growing longer and longer.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Gluten Free: The results are in

We got our test results back from the lab.

A 'normal' result is 10 or below.

Andrew came in at 36. This means he is gluten sensitive.

I came in at a whopping 194!

I'm glad we already did the hard work and changed over to gluten free on Monday as I'm not sure I could have done it otherwise. Who wants to do something because they HAVE to? We made the change willingly and happily. Now I know that science backs me up but it wasn't the results that made me change.

Lucy is doing a super job with the change. Henry doesn't understand and was caught sneaking goldfish at preschool yesterday!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Gluten free: Snacks

One of the things worrying me about going gluten free was this: what would happen if i was suddenly hungry and I hadn't prepared any snacks? would I look in the cupboard and find nothing to eat? [note: because I am still nursing Flissy I am hungry ALL the time]

So I browsed through the list of websites in my gluten-free book to check out what was on offer.

It turns out that I can get a lot of food through Amazon's (wonderful) subscribe and save program. Not just snacks but flours and grains too.

So last week a rather large box arrived with the following items:
  • multigrain crackers
  • puffed rice
  • agave nectar
  • lemon wafers
  • pretzel twists
  • breakfast bars, apple
  • millet rice cereal
Of course there were many items of each. Good thing I've cleared up the pantry!

We also have lots of fun stuff from Trader Joes!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Gluten Free: D DAY!

Today is our first gluten free day. I am totally freaked out!

But we're eating our favourite meal tonight - teriyaki beef. The only change I have to make is to use gluten-free soy sauce. No big deal right?!?

Stay tuned, there is breakfast, lunch and snacks to deal with in between.

Last night as a final hurrah we dined out at Indochine (we also had a gift voucher to use). So we filled ourselves with gyoza, cha gio and pad thai which was followed by coconut cake, coconut ice cream and mango with sticky rice.

Although still recovering from this virus I did manage to clean and tidy the pantry. Everything is gluten free now (see photo left).

Friday, 7 October 2011

We're still here

Alive but not kicking. Still pretty sick with coughs and headaches. Andrew and I have both been to the doctor and we just need to rest now. Not sure how much of that goes on with 3 little ones!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Water kefir

One of the new things we are trying out is water kefir.

It is a lacto-fermented drink.
Water Kefir Grains are a combination of live bacteria and yeasts which exist in a symbionic matrix. Many of the bacteria used in yoghurt are found in the 'grains' and this is an easy way to get pro-biotics into your body.

I am making one batch every 48 hours.

To the latest batch I added lime juice to create 'limeade' which was immensely popular with everyone in this house. In fact there was lots of crying and begging for more.

Check out the details at Cultures for Health.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Weekend camping (and sickness)

We had a pretty low key weekend as the majority of us were sick.

Somehow that fact didn't stop Andrew, Lucy and Henry sleeping in the tent and making s'mores for dinner. The positive part is that the kids slept in until 7:30am!

We had a quick trip to Pender Pines for some plants but there was a disappointing selection. The kids enjoyed feeding the fish and visiting the emu however.

Back to bed now to get rid of this cold.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Gluten Free: Planning update

I'm stuck on Number 9 - Make a 2 week GF menu plan (incl. breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

It seems like a monumental task and I don't want to go there. I'll tackle it straight after writing this.

On a positive note we have been eating out our freezer and pantry. Last week we cooked up a green bean casserole to use up our (sadly gluten-full) fried onions.

We also tried out the gluten-free brownie mix and pancake mix from Bob's Red Mill. The brownie mix is AWESOME, the pancakes so-so (probably because Andrew dramatically changed the recipe)

Friday, 30 September 2011

Jigsaw update

We've made a lot of progress on our 5000 piece jigsaw!

Last week we started and finished the sky which was probably about 1000 pieces.

The sky was difficult in one sense as there wasn't a lot of detail to refer to but in another sense this made it easier (especially when we lined up the pieces in shapes)

I'm hoping to have the dining table back soon.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Gluten free: Dining out

Here are my sweeties at Macaroni Grill. Doesn't Henry look so cute giving his baby sister a cuddle!

Due to the rain we spent most of the weekend at home in our pajamas. However we did get out to church and then to lunch.

We ate a Macaroni Grill because:
1. it is close
2. they have a new menu
3. they offer gluten free options

The new menu is terrible. There is much less choice than before and now there is no lamb. I repeat, No lamb. No lamb. Andrew spoke his mind to the waitress.

We tried out their new mushroom & goat cheese flatbread and their gluten free pasta. Both were good. [Sidetrack: how can you tell they served us gluten free pasta? what if they mixed it up?]

Overall though we were disappointed and probably won't go back again. It did highlight the difficulties of gluten free dining out and the lack of options available.