Monday, 22 April 2013

School holidays

Yes, it's that time again.  School holidays are not my favourite time of year, but they seem to be getting a little easier.  Whether that's just my way of looking at them, or if it's that the boys are getting older and easier to handle (ie: they amuse themselves and just need to be fed and watered occasionally), I couldn't really say.  It would be fun to go out and do stuff, but past experience has taught me that 95% of the time, they're not interested.  Even when you do get them enthusiastic enough to go somewhere, within half an hour they're asking if it's time to go home yet.  So I won't complain, and take the time this week to work on my Cassidy cardigan (onto the sleeves!) - here's a pic of the three body pieces:


And maybe knit some other stuff.  Perhaps get a start on Deane's sweater, or one for the kids.  It is now well known in Sock Madness circles that the next pattern out is going to be the optional round, so I'm not overly concerned about knitting that one.  It depends on whether I like the socks or not, which I won't know until they release the pattern.  Having said that, sweaters are higher on the priority list at the moment so I might just give this year's optional round a miss.

I will also have time to watch a few TV programs I've been wanting to catch up on.  The tough decision is figuring out which ones to watch, I have such a long list!  Maybe New Girl and Revenge, or Once Upon a Time... 

My 30 day squat challenge is going well.  Today is a rest day, but yesterday was 80 squats.  It's still not very challenging, but I'm sure that will change soon.  In the next few days we're getting into triple figures!  The 30 day BodyRock challenge is also going well - the weekends are 'active rest' days, so no workouts to do.  Saturday was a lazy day - I just did the 75 squats and that was it.  Yesterday I fit in a 7km run (which was supposed to be 6.5km but I over-shot so figured I'd just keep going to round out the number) as part of the 10km training program for the week, which is also going well, in case you were wondering ;-)  That made me feel a little better about eating the breakfast I'd made.  We invited a couple of friends over for coffee and artery-clogging breakfasty goodness - I made peaches and cream french toast.  Dude.  It was awesome.  I only made a half batch and that was more than enough for four adults.  Actually, it was probably too much.  But oh, it was goooooooood.

In fact, there was a lot of good food to be had over the weekend.  On Saturday morning we had pancakes, then I made scones with jam and whipped cream for lunch.  Dinner was lentil sloppy joes (store bought buns, I got lazy) and dessert was self-saucing chocolate pudding made in the crock pot (although I made the standard version, not the gluten/dairy free one).  So yum!  Sunday morning's breakfast, as already stated, was fantastic.  Lunch was fruit salad at Mecca Chancery while I was at knitting group (and half a bowl of Kate's fries that she didn't want), then dinner wasn't anything special - sausages and baked potatoes.  But what I did like about dinner was the garlic roasted brussels sprouts.  I added in some cherry tomatoes for a bit of colour and variation, and they were rather delicious.

This morning's breakfast was chia pudding, made with coconut milk.  I served it with sliced banana and agave syrup.  It was really nice, but I've discovered that coconut milk is one of those things that causes havoc with my IBS.  I had a sneaking suspicion that it didn't agree with me and this morning confirmed it.  Oh well, guess I'll just have to be careful about how much coconut milk is in things from now on.  I find it weird that I have almost no problem with dairy, yet coconut milk is an issue... hmm... everyone's different I guess.  I made Deane some pickled ginger and salmon onigiri for lunch today, and sent him off to work with that and some edamame.  And here's what we're having for dinners this week:


How do you like my blackboard menu?  Cool, huh?  Got it at Typo for $25.  Not sure if you can read it very well, but tonight is beef bourguignon.  I've only ever made it using one of those Maggi packets but it was always a favourite when we were flatting.  I haven't made it for years so hopefully tonight's batch works out well.  Just need to hunt out some red wine...  I'm looking forward to Thursday's experiment - whisky and marmalade chicken!  I've already asked Deane which whisky I can use out of his ridiculously expensive, good quality collection.  Might need to feed the kids something else for dinner that evening though, as I doubt they'll enjoy it.  Chicken nuggets to the rescue again ;-)

Some other recipes we've tried over the last week or two (yay Pinterest!) are spiced apple sauce cookies (yum!  They're like little mini cakes):



And sun-dried tomato breakfast couscous (also yum).  Next on the list of things to try are Brazilian cheese breads (although I'll use wheat flour, hope it works okay!) and coconut pecan quinoa granola.  I love trying new things!

My 'cleaning calendar' and daily routine is starting to slip a bit.  Last week I spent a lot more time in the kitchen (see evidence above), and more time on exercise and study with less time doing housework.  Starting to get a little slack.  I'm pleased to announce though, that we have finally used up the crappy 'home made' dishwasher powder, and are now back to the store-bought stuff.  Wow, it's amazing how much cleaner my dishes are!!  Lesson learned there! One thing I'm not letting slack this holidays is the kids and their chores.  We've managed to get a pretty good system in place and they're getting things done with only a little bit of complaining (maybe it's the pocket money incentive).  Rather than wasting paper printing out a list for them to tick off each week, I've set up a different type of 'chores chart':


Each stick has a task written on it - some for the morning, and some for the afternoon/evening.  When they've completed a task, they move the stick to the 'Done' jar.  Once all their sticks are moved, they put a bead in the tube.  At the end of the week (we don't count weekends) if there's ten beads in the tube for each kid, they get their pocket money.  Today was the first day for this new system (last week was still paper checklists) and they completed all their morning jobs and got a bead.  This afternoon's jobs are now in the 'To Do' jar ready for later on today (the jar to the left is all the other chores to choose from for the morning or for school days).  The good thing about this system is that I can take it with us to Napier next week when we go visit family.  Haha, no escaping!!

Right, enough waffling.  Time to get stuck into other stuff for the day.  I've cleaned up a section of the laundry, throwing out a bunch of random stuff we don't need (Deane has no complaining rights - he's had plenty of warning!!) - now I can get to the freezer and the laundry sink without having to climb over stuff.  Win!  Next up, BodyRock workout, the vacuuming, and lunch.  Then a spot of knitting while contemplating what to make Deane for his birthday breakfast in bed tomorrow morning.  Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Juxtaposition

It was a sad thing to wake up to the other day - news of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston marathon.  Clearly designed to target innocent spectators, when the majority of the marathon runners would be crossing the finish line.  What was supposed to be a happy day for thousands turned out to be a horror day.  I will never understand what kind of person could possibly conceive of doing something so inherently evil - something they had thought about and planned at great length, to injure and kill people they have never met - men, women and children alike, for what?  Notoriety?  Yet they haven't come forward to lay claim to their deed.  It saddens me a great deal, particularly when young children are involved.  I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday and was confronted with the image of that sweet little eight year old boy that was killed in the bombing, whose sister lost both her legs, and whose mother is in critical condition with severe head injuries.  What else could I do but sit and cry, thinking of how unjust it was, and feeling so much hurt for the father and husband that has to deal with the aftermath of this event.

So many horrible things happening in the world.  Just now scanning MSN, there is a story of 60-70 people killed in an explosion at a fertiliser plant in Texas, and another of a bomb explosion in Southern India.  Accidental or intentional, such loss of life is upsetting.  I try not to dwell, and focus instead on the amazing men and women with the strength and fortitude to help others in these situations - people employed in the profession, and complete strangers who just happened to be nearby.  Emergency response workers are the best people in the world, don't you think?  Everyday heroes, all of them.  It's certainly not a job I could do, I'd be a nervous wreck!

These events make me appreciate all the more the recent news in New Zealand.  Many of you (likely everyone reading this) will know that the marriage equality bill was passed in Parliament yesterday.  If that was not cause for celebration enough, I woke up this morning to posts all through my Twitter feed from people all around the world congratulating New Zealand on such a fantastic result.  It was simply wonderful to see, and it warmed my heart.  The footage of the spectators in the gallery above the MPs in the House of Parliament breaking into song (one of my favourite New Zealand songs) brought tears of happiness to me this morning, a ridiculously big grin, and pride in our nation and its people.  Plus, National MP Maurice Williamson's speech was just priceless :-)

Onward with life in general then - an assignment is being worked on at the moment, after getting a disappointing B for the last one.  I thought I'd done better than that.  Oh well...

Knitting is going okay.  I was surprised to find that there were still a large number of spots left on my Sock Madness team for round three last weekend, and decided I might as well finish the rather-challenging-yet-easy-to-knit socks:


Greenhouse socks by Anita Grahn, knit with PennyRose sock yarn (Penny) in the aptly named colourway, Orange.  They were fairly straightforward in that the pattern itself was knits and purls, with yarn overs and decreases.  Fairly standard knitting stuff. The challenging part was keeping track of the pattern with its bias stitches.  I knit the cuff about a half inch too long on the first sock which was entirely my own fault for not reading the pattern properly, then I ended up knitting an extra pattern repeat in the leg, again my own fault.  Too hard to frog back, so just knit the second sock to match.  Everything else went perfectly fine until I got to the second toe and couldn't for the life of me figure out where I needed to start it.  Comparing the two socks didn't really help me, nor did measuring the foot.  You'd think it would, but no.  I ended up having to guestimate where I had to start the toe, and was out by four rows.  However at that stage I was past the point of caring.  This kind of pattern is rather fiddly to tink back and I wouldn't even consider trying to frog.  Plus, it had one of the most unusual bind offs I've seen for a sock thus far, and I wasn't keen on trying to attempt undoing that, so I'm just going to leave it as it is.  They're going to the kids' school librarian, and to be honest I don't think she'll notice.  It's going to niggle at me that they're just that little bit wrong, but I just have to move on and stop sweating the little things.

Speaking of sweating (haha), I've been doing a bit of that lately.  Not only is my running back on track (hurrah!!  More on this shortly), I've set myself a couple of little extra challenges on the side.  I stumbled across a site that has daily workouts that you can do at home, and on it (from last year) is a 30 day workout challenge.  I started on Monday and so far it's going well.  They're only 12 minutes long, but they're hard work and definitely make you sweat.  Good stuff!  (Note to friends and family: no, I have absolutely no intention of trying to look like the freakishly skinny woman who is demonstrating the workouts that has not a single ounce of fat on her.  She's scary-looking and clearly very image-conscious.  I just like the workouts.  That is all.  Mmmkay?  Right then, let's move on.)  I'm also doing a 30 day squat challenge.  You start the first day with 50 squats, and on the last day you're up to 250.  Challenge accepted!  Mwaahahahahaha!!!  Squats are good for strengthening my quads, which is what I need to keep my knees run-ready.  Just so you know.  A good-looking butt is just a side benefit ;-)

So with my running, I've had to back-track quite a bit due to the drop in fitness level after having a month off.  I got Paula Radcliffe's 'How to Run' book out from the library and at the moment I'm following the 5km to 10km training programme.  After that I'll move on to the 10km to half marathon training, then the half to full marathon training.  Because I still intend on running a full marathon before I'm 36.  I'm 34 this year, and if you know me, you'll know I like to have plenty of time up my sleeve - for anything from arriving at an appointment on time to finishing an assignment to achieving a set goal.  I prefer not to have to work under pressure ;-)  Training is a little slow-going at the moment compared to the beginning of the year.  Running 5km is challenge enough!  And to think that three months ago I could run 25... But I want to keep running, and that means pacing myself and my training, and not over-doing it.  So slow-going it is!  I was actually a little dubious about this morning's run, which was to be a 6.5km run with hills.  I hate hills!  Having found Tuesday's 5km flat run tiring, I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off.  But, with nothing but my own thoughts going through my head up those hills (just to the next corner, next corner, next corner) I managed to run the full 6.5km, hills and all, without stopping.  I was pretty proud of that effort I must admit.  Then after a wee sit-down and a glass of water I did today's 30 day challenge workout (no squats today, it was a rest day) so it was a pretty good workout this morning.  Right now I'm more than happy to blob on the couch with a very full tummy from dinner and some knitting to do.  Tomorrow is cross-training day, so I'll be on my bike.  It's still really boring, so I'm thinking of getting a bike computer so I can track my progress in terms of distance and speed (on a stationary bike, haha!).  That'll help the time go a little faster I think.  I've figured out a way of balancing my kindle on the handlebars on top of a wee towel draped over the middle, so at least I can read while I ride :-)

What else is going on...?  Ah, knitting.  Since I'm between SM rounds, I've been working on my Cassidy cardigan and have nearly finished the front right panel - should have it done tonight.  So that's the body complete, which leaves the sleeves, the hood, and the button bands.  Hmm, there's definitely something to be said for one-piece garments.  I'm very tempted to cast on the tea leaves cardigan with the Cascade yarn I bought in Vancouver (same colour as the wedding afghan I knit).  But I should probably knit that sweater I promised Deane last winter first...  Maybe I should just cast on ALL THE THINGS!!!


Nah...


The boys will have their last day of school for the term tomorrow, which means they'll be home with me for the next couple of weeks.  That means that a) I'd better get my assignment finished tomorrow so I can submit it and not have to worry about it, and b) I'll have even more time in the kitchen to cook and bake yummy food!  My latest experiments have been varied - I made some oatcakes, which I've been meaning to try for ages.  They're delicious with brie and roasted vegetable chutney.  Yesterday's lunch was carrot and edamame salad.  It was okay, but nothing extraordinary.  I actually kind of prefer edamame just on its own with a little salt, so maybe I'll stick with that.  Although this edamame scramble is pretty awesome.  What is also awesome is this apple cider pork and potatoes.  That's twice now that I've cooked pork and actually enjoyed it.  This recipe was the easiest to make and sooooooo delicious!!  The potatoes... OMG.  Have I already told you about this?  I probably have.  But it was so good, perhaps it's worth telling you again ;-)  And breakfast this morning and yesterday was a little out of the ordinary for Deane and I.  The boys had pancakes yesterday and chocolate chip waffles this morning, but we had chia pudding.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was rather good.  I was low on almond milk and coconut milk unfortunately, and didn't want to use coconut cream, so just used normal lite milk.  It worked perfectly well, although I can imagine making it with soy or coconut milk would be pretty yummy.  Yesterday we had it with sliced banana and maple syrup, and this morning we had pears and maple syrup.  I've run out of chia seeds now, but next time I'll try it with coconut milk, and maybe have some blueberries and agave syrup or something.  Yum!!!  I also got T to eat carrots the other day, by making these carrot chips.  I didn't leave mine to cool, and they didn't go crispy, but they were still delicious.

I've been trying out different vegetable recipes in the hopes that the kids will enjoy some.  Over the weekend we had carrot and zucchini bars.  They were great, but the kids didn't like them.  Veges were too visible would be my guess.  I did have them eating almond meal muffins without being any the wiser, but I wouldn't count that as much of a victory.  Deane has fallen in love with these cauliflower pancakes but the kids won't eat these either.  I'd love to make more of these German chocolate fudge bites because they were yummy, but I have to get a new food processor first.  Wonder if I can whizz them up enough that the boys won't notice the nuts and dates...?  We tried these broccoli bites but weren't overly impressed.  Even X, who loves broccoli, would only eat one.  Mine possibly needed more egg and a little less cooking. 

Well in any case, you can see I've been having fun experimenting in the kitchen, and intend to carry on trying out all manner of new recipes.  It can be a bit hit-and-miss, but sometimes you find something really good, worth making again.  I'm building up a bit of a collection ;-)  Got any awesome recipes you want to share?  Let me know!  Right, that's me.  I have a cardigan front to knit, then on to the sleeves (two at a time, I think).  Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Smile

Some days just go a little bit... not quite how you want them.  Sometimes you're just in a not-so-good mood.  Today is one of those days for me.  So to cheer myself up, I think it's time I posted a few things that make me happy:

  1. Remembering the other day that I had a $20 credit on my Mojo coffee card, which allowed me to order a large flat white for 'free'.
  2. Seeing the leaves on the trees change more each day.  I love autumn, it's my favourite season.
  3. Being able to run again.  Just the thought of it makes me smile.
  4. Reflecting on how far I've come since I first started running back in August 2009 - here's my first post on it (quite fun to read, must check my progress in later posts for the entertainment value).
  5. Mumford & Sons.  Those boys are made of win.
  6. Being able to get into the kitchen and cook or bake something amazing.  I guess we take for granted the skills we learn over a lifetime.  There are so many people out there that wouldn't know the first thing about cooking and I feel a little bit bad for them.  They don't know the joy of sitting down to eat an amazing meal they have prepared themselves from a bunch of fresh, healthy ingredients.
  7. The realisation that these skills I've learned since childhood are thanks to my parents (mostly my mother), who always made good, healthy meals for the family when I was growing up, despite working full time.  Such a small time window between her arrival home from work and dad's, yet there was always a meal on the table for him when he walked in the door.  Lucky man.
  8. My children.  Dear lord they drive me crazy, but oh, how they make me laugh.  I couldn't imagine a world that they didn't exist in.
  9. That infuriating, stubborn, gross (because all male creatures are), ridiculous, absent-minded, determined, clever, loving, resourceful, funny man that is my husband.  At times I am sure his sole purpose is to make my life just that little bit more challenging, but where would I be without him?  He is my pest controller, waiter, masseuse, life-long companion, tech-head, encyclopaedia, and food compactor ;-)
  10. Knitting!  Oh my, yes.  I do very much like knitting.  In fact, I may just go and knit something now.  Round three of Sock Madness is still in progress, and I have most of a sock left to knit.  Not sure I'll make it to round four this year, but I've made peace with that.  Study is more important at the moment.  Which brings me to...
  11. Submitting assignments.  It's such a relief to get one finished off and sent away.  The only down side is having to wait two or three weeks to get your mark.  ::deep breaths::
  12. Sleep.  I love my bed.  I remember as a child always wanting to stay up later.  Now I can't wait to get into bed every night and snuggle in,comfy and warm.
This is just a small list, but it's done as I'd intended it to and cheered me up.  Time for me to go cook some dinner and knit that sock.

I hope you're having a good day and have plans for a happy weekend.  And, if you don't mind my asking, what makes you smile?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

And another thing...

Or two, or three, or four...

I made broccoli salad last night for dinner, to go with our fish.  Dude.  It was awesome.  Chop up a head of broccoli into bite-sized pieces and blanch it for a couple of minutes.  Drain well and throw into a bowl with a large handful of coarsely chopped cashews and a large handful of dried cranberries.  Finely chop half a red onion and add that.  Fry (or bake, or grill) 2-4 rashers of bacon (depending on how much you like your bacon, or how much you have in your fridge) chop it up and add to the bowl as well.  Then mix together 1/8 cup mayonnaise, 1/8 cup yoghurt, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar and half a tablespoon sugar, pour over broccoli mix and stir well until combined.  Refrigerate until needed.  Yum!!

What's also yum is this banana and coconut milk bread.  Which, as the blogger that posted this recipe says, is really just a cake masquerading as bread in the shape of a loaf.  Although it is good sliced up while still warm and slathered in butter.  Mmmmmm...

And since we're on the subject of yum, dinner tonight kinda rocked.  Deane had bought some chicken legs a little while ago.  This is not my favourite cut of chicken, but I decided to do something a little different with them.  We had 'hobo dinners' (idea filched off Pinterest) - Deane and I had a chicken leg, potato, half a corn cob, half a beetroot, half a carrot and a few cherry tomatoes wrapped up in a foil parcel each with some butter, salt and pepper, paprika and turmeric.  The boys just had chicken and potato (boring!).  I baked these for an hour at 180, then turned the oven up to 220 for 20 minutes before taking them out.  It was a bit like an oven-hangi ;)

Moving from eats to feets, I have blue toenails:



And short legs, as evidenced by the picture at the top.  But we already knew that.  Also, my left big toenail is still mangled-looking under the nail polish.  That's why I keep painting my toenails :)  Wonder what colour I'll do next...?

Last but not least, the round three pattern specs for Sock Madness are up.  Pattern release any time now!  Exciting!

Okay, so that turned out to be more than four things.  It's Sunday.  My brain doesn't work on Sundays.  I'm gonna go knit now.  See ya!

Some things just don't work out

Like those socks I started last week.  You know that tiny wee dropped stitch in the middle of the instep?  Yeah.  I went to fix that the other day, pooped it up, and really couldn't be bothered putting the effort in to fixing it properly so just frogged the whole thing.  I'll start a different pair of socks with the yarn instead (there's a Harry Potter Knit-Along with some Tonks inspired socks this month, so I'll probably do those).  Speaking of projects going to the frog pond, remember this stole I started some time last year?


I just wasn't feeling the love for it, and had absolutely zero desire to pick it up and keep knitting it, so that got ripped back to nothing.  Life's too short to knit bad stuff, right?  The yarn is deliciously soft though (yay for possum fibre!) so I think it'll have to be a cowl or something for winter, but there's nothing grabbing my attention right now, so perhaps next winter...  I still have many sweaters to knit! ;)  I haven't knit anything for a couple of days though, so I haven't made any progress on my cardi.  And just to remind me that winter is on the way and I'm running out of time, the weather has started turning.  It's been raining a bit lately, and the temperatures have dropped making socks a part of the standard stay-at-home wardrobe, along with a cardi.  I'm certainly not complaining!  Autumn is my favourite season, and I love snuggling into warm clothes, or sitting on the couch with a hot cup of tea, a book or some knitting, cosy warm under a blanket.

And the trees are turning too - I adore walking down the street and seeing all the beautiful colours of the leaves, and every tree is different.  I can't wait for next week when I can (hopefully) get out and run again.  An early morning run in the crisp, cool air with autumn leaves on the trees all around... there's no better way to start your day.  I'm smiling just thinking about it :)

I missed out on a couple of things this weekend that I would've liked to have done - the Warrior Dash was on yesterday, as was the Oxfam 100km trail walk.  As you know I had intended to do the Warrior Dash, and it would've been a lot of fun I'm sure.  The photos from the day looked great!  Maybe next year.  A friend of mine was participating in the Oxfam 100km this weekend, held in Taupo.  He and three friends set out yesterday morning at about 7am and walked a full 100km through all kinds of terrain - footpaths, farm tracks, bush trails, hills, parks, roads... you name it, they walked it.  I think they finished around 2am or thereabouts.  I imagine they're enjoying a well-deserved rest right now so I can't confirm.  Their team raised over $3,000 for the cause.  This may sound odd, but I'm a little jealous.  I'd have liked to have been a part of the team, and walked with them.  I remember seeing a billboard advertising the Oxfam walk some time ago - it was on my usual running route along Tamaki Drive.  At the time I thought it would be cool to do (and what better cause?) but couldn't think of anyone else that would be crazy enough to walk 100km with me, and you need a team of four.  Perhaps next year I'll put in a little effort and see if I can round up some people (or see if I can worm in on a team with somebody else!).

I did end up making my own laundry powder and dishwasher powder in the end.  I figured that since I'd already bought most of the stuff I might as well use it, so found the cheapest source of borax on Trade Me, bought 2kg of it, and made up a batch of each.  Just have to say, the dishwasher powder sucks ass.  I've read many comments on various websites that tout this as the best dishwasher powder ever, and many have said that it didn't work very well until they'd changed their rinse aid to just white vinegar.  I've done this.  It still sucks.  So I'll be using up the batch I've made, then going back to the (just as cheap, if not cheaper) store bought dishwasher powder.  I have slightly higher hopes for the laundry powder though, as there's a little more substance to it (plus, a friend of mine has been using homemade laundry liquid for years and swears by it.  If its good enough for her, it should be good enough for me).

Some things do work out though.  Like me (ahaha).  I've been having fun trying all sorts of different workouts with my Nike Training Club app - I'm going through all the beginner workouts at the moment, and they're hard enough.  Can't imagine what the intermediate and advanced ones are going to be like!  They're fun, and only take 30 minutes (unless it's a 15 or 45 minute workout of course).  Easy to do in the lounge.  Sometimes I have to jog, so I do laps around the lounge, dining room and front hall.  The kids think it's funny ^_^  And I've watched one whole Harry Potter movie while cycling on my bike.  In bits of course.  No way I could sit on that bike for over two hours in one sitting, I'd get horribly bored, regardless of the movie!  It's a pity you can't knit and cycle, or I'd probably spend more time on it.  Even reading and cycling is too hard - holding the book or kindle gets awkward quickly.  Listening to podcasts or audiobooks is okay, but there's nothing to look at.  Therein lies the advantage of outdoor exercise - changing scenery ;)  Two more sleeps until my next physio appointment...

Our freezer was getting low on supplies, so I put in another order for Green Meadows Beef.  Two days later, before we'd even woken up, 20kg of delicious beef was delivered to our doorstep.  In case you're wondering, this is what 20kg of beef looks like:


That should keep us going for a while!  5kg of sausages, 6kg of mince, a whole big pile of steaks in various forms, and a roast.  Yum!  I'm looking forward to planning meals for next week!  Yes, we do eat other meats.  We had fish last night, and we're having chicken tonight.  By the way, those lentil sloppy joes the other night were a-ma-zing!!!  And there's enough for two more meals in the freezer (although Deane pillaged a bit out of each container.  Guess he really liked it...)

This morning's batch of pancakes worked out pretty good too.  I've been trying different recipes, to find the one I like the best.  Certainly no complaints from anyone this morning!  Although I do seriously wonder about the Americans and their salt intake.  Seriously, every recipe I've come across for pancakes (and many other foods) have had ridiculously high salt content - this morning's pancake recipe called for a teaspoon of salt!  I put in a quarter teaspoon, and still would've been happy with less. Like, a pinch of salt would've been plenty.  Still, they were rather delicious.  I don't think our quart jug of maple syrup will last us much longer though:


Oh yeah, look at the steam rising off that stack!  Yummmmmmmmmm.....

Yesterday's breakfast was a little more laid-back:


Good ol' bacon and eggs (with cherry tomatoes) and a giant cup of tea with a good book to read (Fool Moon by Jim Butcher).  Deane (the spoilt sod) got his breakfast in bed.

Now, if that wasn't enough to brighten your day, I'll leave you with a parting shot that never fails to put a smile on my face, and even makes me giggle most times I see it.  This is my new screen shot on my phone - both the lock screen and the background wallpaper.  Love it!


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!  I'm off to do some grocery shopping, and then knitting with friends over lunch.  Ciao!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Slow week

As you all know, Easter weekend has been and gone, and we're now venturing into the thick of April.  Boy, this year is zooming by!  However, this week feels a little slow and sluggish.  Allow me to start back up where I left off last week...

So Thursday arrived, along with my bike trainer.  Yay!  Happy dance!  (No impact, shuffling happy dance).  I set it up in the lounge, dragged my bike inside and gave it a quick once-over with a cloth (it had a few cobwebs!), and jumped on.  Half an hour later I had to stop because my knee was really sore.  Gah!  Frustration!!!  I popped some anti-inflammatories and iced it for 20 minutes, then went and did something else for a while (I can't recall what exactly, probably cooking.  I believe we had lasagne for dinner).  Throughout the rest of the day I did little 15 minute stints on the bike, and by the end of the day I think I'd clocked up about two hours total.  And my knee was feeling perfectly fine.  Perhaps it was just the initial shock of "OMG, exercise!" that got to it that first time.  Who could say?  Either way, I was quite happy to have something to do to get my heart pumping.

On Friday my mother-in-law arrived for the weekend, so the bike trainer went into the upstairs bedroom.  I baked a batch of delicious hot cross buns for lunch with fruit this time (oh dear, the poor neglected children had to miss out... sad face.  Yeah, right.)  They were just as scrumptious as I remember them being, and the entire batch of buns disappeared before I could say boo.  Luckily, I had made an extra loaf the same as last time, so we had fruit bread for breakfasts as well.  I snuck in a half hour on the bike in the afternoon, then made the much-loved favourite meatloaf for dinner.  I have no idea where this recipe originated from, but Deane's friend's mother used to make it.  It was his favourite, so when he came to live with us many moons ago, his mother shared the recipe with us so we could make it for him.  Everybody loves this meatloaf (except my children, because they are weird), so I will share the recipe with you here:

FAVOURITE MEATLOAF
500g mince
500g sausage meat
1 onion, finely chopped (or grated, if you have onion haters in the family)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1 dessertspoon curry powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water

Mix together well, shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.  Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes.  Simmer together for five minutes:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
25g butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

Take the meatloaf out of the oven and slice most of the way through into 1/2" to 3/4" slices, depending on how thick you like your meatloaf slices.  Then pour the sauce all over the meatloaf, and continue to bake for a further 45 minutes, basting frequently.  Serve hot, with sauce spooned over the top. 

This makes a large meatloaf (perhaps something to do with the kilo of meat in it...), and it is excellent heated up as leftovers.  It goes great with potatoes (baked or mashed.  Mmm, mashed potatoes with meatloaf sauce...) and makes a fantastic sandwich.  Yum!  Sadly, with extra people visiting, there were no leftovers this time around.

Saturday was... Saturday.  Nothing special about it.  Managed another 30 minutes on the bike, which was fairly early in the morning since everyone was still asleep.  Well, the boys were awake and watching YouTube videos on the TV in our room upstairs while Deane carried on sleeping.  I say early, but it was about 9.15am.  I guess everyone needed a sleep in that day.  I made some banana walnut maple muffins (which were fabulous with butter, icing sugar and maple syrup drizzled on top!), we had yum cha at Hees Garden for lunch, and some friends came around for dinner that evening - Deane cooked a barbecue.  If I remember right, it rained that evening.  Whether it rained while Deane was outside cooking, or whether it rained much later once we had all gone to bed, I don't really recall.  I got a little drunk on wine while watching Breaking Dawn Part 1.  Oops...

Sunday morning was a little wet (that's how I knew it had rained the night before.  Excellent powers of observation and deduction I have.  Probably wouldn't be much chop against Sherlock Holmes though).  I was pleasantly surprised to find I was not hung over, and cooked everyone scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.  Unfortunately, not long after breakfast, we discovered that we had been invaded.



By ants.  Most of those ants were carrying eggs, which means they were attempting to move their nest inside.  I assume they were drawn in by the rain overnight.  Some had set up camp in my MIL's bags and clothing (to the right in the pictures).  I phoned the landlord who went in search of ant bait, and I doused them with almost an entire bottle of ant spray.  We left it at that for the time being.  The kids chowed down on some chocolate Easter eggs which is the norm for Easter Sunday of course, and I headed off to knitting.  Rather than try to follow the cable pattern for my Cassidy cardigan (I have now completed the left front and made a start on the right front), I took some sock yarn, 2.25mm needles and a relatively simple pattern so I could cast on something that didn't require a lot of brain-power.  I managed to knit the toe and two pattern repeats before my mind started wandering and losing focus, since by that time I had developed a slight headache.  Wonder why... ;-)  I caught a lift home with a friend, cleaned up the multitude of now-very-dead ants, then got stuck in to making naan bread for dinner to accompany the ridiculously yummy lamb curry that Deane made.  Again, there were no leftovers.  Bummer.  My knee was a little stiff and sore so there was no biking, but my MIL and I watched Breaking Dawn Part 2 so there was a good end to a rather up-and-down day.

Monday was a relaxing, plod-along day.  My mother-in-law headed home, so the bike came back downstairs.  Another 45 minutes was spent cycling away, while Deane and the boys watched more YouTube videos.  I'll admit, some of the stuff they watch is ridiculous (y'know, like videos of people playing online games such as Minecraft, Happy Wheels, etc), but others are incredibly fascinating, educational videos.  We've discovered Vsauce and a multitude of other geeky-yet-informative science channels.  Loving it!  Mind blown on a daily basis.  Our world is quite amazing. 

I made some sushi for Deane's lunches, and some German chocolate fudge bites for snacks.  I also managed to get a bit more of the sock knit, to the point where I am past the heel and onto the leg:


And of course, such is the way with these things, since taking the photo I have noticed an error smack-bang in the middle of the top of the foot.  On closer inspection, I have discovered that it is a dropped stitch, which I will now have to remedy in some way.  Sigh.  That would explain the problem I was having with the pattern not matching the stitch count earlier...  In any case, the socks are the Diagonal Lace Socks by Wendy Johnson (published in her books but also available online for free), knit in Needle Food 'There's Flowers In My Salad!'.  It's a beautiful colourway, and this photo in no way does it justice.  In fact, this photo doesn't do the pattern any justice either.  I'm such a terrible photographer!  Hopefully I can get a better one once I've finished the socks.  Some time during the day, I managed to drop my phone into my cup of tea.  It was a full cup, and a large one at that (in my Vancouver Starbucks mug, which is a nice big 16oz, or a pint, or 473ml, depending on where you live).  I fished it out quick as a flash, then had to wait for it to dry out before I could use it again.  Thankfully, it appears none the worse for wear.  It won't turn off any more, but I never really turned it off anyway so that's not a biggie.  Although it doesn't hold a charge quite as long as it used to, which is a little annoying.  Note to self: do not drop phone into tea. 

Moving on... to Tuesday.  Deane had work, but the kids were home from school so we had a lazy day of doing not much at all.  I spent an hour on the bike while listening to a Knit 1 Geek 2 podcast (almost caught up, yay!), then fluffed for the rest of the day baking more sprinkle cookies, some bread, and dinner.  Some knitting and reading was thrown in for a bit of variety.  I was eagerly awaiting Wednesday and felt like I was just filling in time.  I received an email for the Auckland Marathon with my final entry form attached (because I signed up and paid for the Unitec Run Walk series and the half marathon last year), and it reminded me that I really need to start training for it soon.  I have a little time up my sleeve, but I have a 5km on 14th July, a 10km on 4th August, a 12km on 25th August, the North Shore half on 1st September, a 14km on 15th September, a 16km on 6th October, and the Auckland half on 3rd November.  Phew!  That's a bit of running...

Wednesday finally arrived, and the kids went back to school (hooray!!).  I went to physio and was told "No, you still can't run.  But you can get back into doing some strengthening exercises and we'll see how you are next week" which is a whole lot better than nothing!  Cue Nike Training Club!  I did a half hour on the bike, and two half hour NTC cross-training sessions.  Man, that felt good.  My knee was a little displeased by the end of the evening, but it held up okay.  In an attempt to explain the feelings surrounding this lack of running, it's a bit like running is the addiction, and cycling and cross-training takes the edge off but doesn't fully satisfy the need.  Hmm.  Good thing, or bad thing? 

Having the kids back at school and my house empty again gave me the chance to catch up on all the housework I had managed to avoid over the long weekend.  So much for the cleaning calendar!  Not to worry, I'm all caught up again now (except for the gardens, which I will do tomorrow if it's not wet).  Next week will be time to get a wriggle on with my study.  I'm still ahead, but I'd like to be further ahead since school holidays are coming up very soon and studying with the kids at home is near-impossible.  Today though, I'm catching up on random little things (like this here blog).  The boys are home, and I've just taken a batch of bread rolls out of the oven.  Oh my, do they smell good!!!  I wasn't overly concerned with making them all the same size this time around and told the boys it was like a little bun family, with the adults in the middle and the children all around the outside:


I can't wait to eat these later - we're having lentil sloppy joes for dinner!  And there will most definitely be leftovers :-)