Friday, 26 February 2010

Womens Retreat

I am heading off to Myrtle Beach SC for our church's annual womens retreat. This is Andrew's first weekend home alone with 2 kids. Wish him patience.

Oh and by the way it's my birthday tomorrow. I just hope they don't make me a salmon cake like they did last year!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Board Games 14: On the brink (Pandemic expansion)

We have played Pandemic for a while now. At one point, given our lack of success we re-read the rules and realised we were aiming for the wrong ending. That was why we couldn't save the world from disease - we were trying to do the impossible by curing all diseases AND eradicating all diseases. The aim is to cure all diseases and now that we know that we can have a successful outcome most games.

To add some difficultly we added the expansion pack "On the brink". It adds some twists to the game to make it more difficult. Now we just have to find 3 other people to play with us so we can use the bio-terrorist option.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New Bern transportation

Did you figure out the two forms of transportation? Thanks for all the guesses. Betsy was right about the segway (i think i told you Betsy?)

The answer: segway and helicopter.

More on New Bern tomorrow

Friday, 19 February 2010

We're off to New Bern

This weekend we're heading north to New Bern. We stopped here for lunch on our way to the Outer Banks a couple of years ago and we always wanted to go back and spend some more time there. Last time we visited the home of Pepsi, a small corner store on Main St - a stark contrast the Coca Cola extravaganza in Atlanta. But that's New Bern, a quiet sleepy kind of town just 2 hours north from where we live.

Despite that image we have some big things planned in New Bern and will be using two very different, not-every-day modes of transportation. See if you can guess what they are before Monday. On the way back we are detouring to Raleigh to do a Trader Joe's shop. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Recipe of the week: Lentil soup

Over winter we have made a number of soups. They all keep a similar theme of vegetables and chicken stock. Our favourites are flavoured with bacon. This one with lentils was particularly good, perfect for the 9 to -2 weather we are experiencing right now!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Weekend snow

Yes it snowed! [photo is of the front of our house] We went to a Valentine's Dinner at church on Friday night. On the way home at 8pm it started snowing. We all rushed out into the backyard to catch snowflakes on our tongues. We had a very fun Saturday making snowmen, snow angels and riding on a sled. We have lots of photos which I'll try to upload soon. Now, 48 hours later, the sun has been out and 99% of the snow has melted. It's back to being just plain cold.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Snow snow snow

It's supposed to snow here tomorrow. We hope so. It's so cold it may as well snow. Then hopefully winter will be over and we'll be back to complaining about the humidity.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Natural Products: Body

In continuing the natural theme, here are the ways we are moving forward with body products. We are still using up some of our old products but we'll be moving to these progressively.

Soap - We have chosen Dr Bronners Pure Castile unscented soap (pictured left). We use the bars for showers and the liquid version for hands. Our co-op sells the soap in bulk so you can take back your container and get it re-filled for half price. Kids are still using a Burt's Bees product for bubble baths. They were using California Baby 'Calming' but it is too expensive so we are sticking with Burt's Bees for the moment.

Facial Cleaner - I am using a mixture of castor oil and olive oil. Sounds weird but at least I know I am using cold pressed oil and I can identify the two ingredients. Only took a couple of days for my skin to get used to it. I changed back to my chemical cleanser in order to use it up and found that my skin didn't like it too much and took a few days to go back. See theoilcleansingmethod

Facial Moisturiser - Coconut Oil. Yes, you can eat this stuff though I don't recommend drinking it straight. [It is a liquid above 76 degrees F so at the moment it is a solid mass] It smells great! I'm not a big fan of it for hands as there is a residue of oil that is not helpful. The kids are using Burt's Bees moisturiser with honey and it smells so good.

Deodorant -
I'm using Tom's of Maine Natural Care Natural Deodorant Stick, Honeysuckle Rose. The point being that is a deodorant rather than an anti-perspirant. So yes, I sweat. I think Southern ladies around here shudder at the word but even though I sweat I don't smell bad thanks to this stuff.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Board Games 13: Tumblin' Monkeys

Henry received Tumblin' Monkeys for Christmas, although it will be a few years before he's allowed to play it. Each player rolls a die. Depending on the colour rolled on the die the player then removes that coloured stick from the tree. Any monkeys that fall are collected by the player. The person with the least amount of monkeys wins. Andrew worked out a way of slowly taking out the stick so that he could direct any monkeys onto other sticks. I told him in no uncertain terms that he didn't need to be so competitive about a kids game especially because he wins almost every time anyway. The game takes a while to set up as the sticks have to be in certain places but it is a very fun, easy game to play (that is if the adults aren't trying to be sneaky with their sticks!)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Recipe of the week: Lamb tangine

This dish has already become a family favourite and we've made it at least twice now. We eat lamb a lot! We eat lamb roasts a lot! The problem is that we always have leftover lamb. In Australia we used to make lamb pies with the leftovers. We don't do that much here because 1. pastry is very expensive and 2. the pie maker produces small pies which is kind of a pain. So we've had lots of leftovers and nothing to do with them. Over Christmas I found two excellent recipes that make use of the leftovers and this is one of them.

Warm the lamb leftovers, gravy, baked onions and garlic in a pan. Add dried apricots and raisins. Cook for a while. Add cherry tomatoes and olives. Serve with cous cous. So easy, so yummy and no more leftovers!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Superbowl weekend

We spent most of the weekend gardening - cleaning up the garden rather than doing new stuff. Raking pine needles, dumping pine needles on our newly created needle mountain and cleaning up behind the pizza oven work area. It was pretty cold so we all wore two jackets and beanies (toboggans to locals). Lucy helped out with her new rake and wheelbarrow while Henry slept inside in the warmth.

On Sunday Andrew headed off to a Super bowl party with all the guys from church. I think they had fun!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Board Games 12: Chicken Cha Cha Cha

This is Chicken Cha Cha Cha. We abbreviate it to Chicken Cha Cha. It is a memory game. Each chicken cha chas around the outer circle but can only move forward if you remember where the matching egg is located in the middle. When a chicken overtakes another chicken the first chicken removes the tail feather of the other chicken and quickly cha cha's on. The winner is the chicken with all the tail feathers. We always ask the winner to do the chicken dance (and Deb's friends were happy to oblige) A very fun game to play and the chicken twist makes it more interesting than regular memory games.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Natural Products: Teeth

One of my many resolutions this year is to steer away from chemicals. We already do this in food and I thought it was time to do so in regard to what we use on our bodies. For a long time I've wondered what the products in hair shampoo actually are and was always vaguely scared to know the real answer. I still don't know the answer to that question but hopefully soon I won't need to know because we'll have moved away from using such things.

My plans in the dental area are big! But given a recent dentist visit I am thinking about the best way forward. In any case I am still going to use the products below but will need to supplement with some other [chemical!#!?] products.

Toothpaste - We are using Tom's of Maine Peppermint toothpaste. Lucy uses their Silly Strawberry brand. Henry uses nothing as he still doesn't have any teeth!

Dental floss- We are using Tom's of Maine Unflavoured flat floss.

Mouth wash - We are using Tom's of Maine Spearmint mouth wash. It's quite a different flavour to what I was used to but after a few uses I am okay with it.

PS For some bizarre reason NC residents can't join the affiliates program at Amazon so I don't get any money if you click on the links and buy anything.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Plenty of action, not a lot to report

As the title tells you there is a lot going on around here. It's mostly planning however plus dentist visits, treadmill workouts and long hours at work. All four birthdays are in the next 6 months, plus Easter, Henry's baptism, and family visits. That means that we're gearing up for these things. We're also planning our garden for the summer and we're starting work again on our recipe database. We're also going to our weekly playdates, bible study and church and hoping to start a small group. It's fairly chaotic but I have a big notepad on the bench to keep track of most of my thoughts. To add to our Kafkaesque nightmare our Australian drivers licences have expired and we're working through that paperwork too. I'm trying to focus on the fun planning. So if I'm not blogging its because there is other stuff going on (or maybe I've drowned in the sea of multiple tax returns, licences and visa) I think I need a secretary. Applications being accepted.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Recipe of the week: Grilled mango

For Christmas Eve breakfast we had grilled mangoes. Mangoes are not easy to come by where we live. They sit in the exotic (ie Mexican) section at the supermarket and are quite different tasting to Australian mangoes. These are smaller, greener and more bitter. In this modified recipe we toasted some English muffins, spread on some ricotta with honey, layered the grilled mangoes and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Unfortunately we could not get hold of passionfruit but the pomegranate seeds were a good second choice - but clearly a second choice. These mango treats were gobbled up quickly. This is a very good breakfast that is quick to make. The pomegranate seeds came pre-shelled from Costco which saved a lot of time and effort.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Weekend rain

It rained and rained and rained on the weekend. Pretty much it rained steadily for 2 days and it was freezing. Literally freezing!! It is so disappointing to go through winter, for it to warm up and for it to become winter again. Oh well. We are enjoying looking through seed catalogs to find heirloom tomato varieties and dreaming of summer harvests.

We watched a lot of Aus Open tennis, played board games and went to dinner at the Lingenfelters (to play Bohnanza). On Sunday we became church members and at night we had a visit from the Atentos. Andrew did some weekend work which made the weekend very unfun. Here's hoping next weekend fares better.