Sunday, 16 November 2014

Nursery inspo

Pretty much as soon as I loftily claimed I had no interest in decorating a baby room in this post, I started to get interested in decorating a baby room.  

I'm not really one to go with an intense theme, and considering that we are not finding out the gender of the baby it's not going to be a symphony in blue or pink.  Nor would it be if we knew the gender, I might add.  Not my style, peeps, not my style.

However, it is kind of nice to make a fuss of this baby's arrival, and putting some thought into its room is a part of that.

So, very roughly, here's what I'm picturing so far.

Neutrals, stripes (the only pattern I can accept in my life), maybe with a very subtle ocean theme as a nod to Blair's and my love of the sea.

A classic striped bag for toys, a paper mobile, and a squishy friend who's easy for tiny hands to hold on to.  We don't want our child to ever have a mountain of toys (yes I know that will probably go out the window within a couple of weeks).  So far the only toy I've bought is the Country Road bunny above.  I'm also going to attempt to crochet a black cat softie in honour of Biggie Smalls, who is and will always be my number one baby.

Rather than a traditional change table that will eventually become useless, we bought the Ikea Hemnes dresser above, which the change mat will sit on top of.  Or maybe not, a lot of people have said to me that it's easy (and safer) to change nappies on the floor.  We'll see what suits us, but I like not having a specific change table.  The cot is another Ikea special, recommended by my sister.  Good enough for me!

I got this beautiful handmade wooden rattle/teething ring off Etsy.  We want to avoid plastic toys as much as possible not just for environmental reasons but also aesthetic ones.  Okay, if I'm honest I am the only one who cares about the aesthetics.  Blair just wants things that will last the distance and not end up in landfill after six months.

A comfy chair for feeding - although rather than the beautiful but very expensive Monte Luca chair above, we'll have my trusty old Ikea (sensing a theme?) Poäng chair which doesn't rock but does have a foot stool.  I've actually been told to avoid a rocker because a) the baby then comes to rely on the rocking motion and b) rockers provide opportunities for tiny fingers to get crushed.

We plan to have as much as possible within arm's reach, which means lots of baskets and open topped storage options.  We got a little wheeled trolley from - you guessed it - Ikea to keep lotions, wipes, baby oil etc handy.

I bought the above Lauren Merrick watercolour not long after we found out I was pregnant, with the intention that it would hang in our baby's room.  I kind of love it A LOT.

We're going to hold off on assembling the room until I'm on maternity leave (just a handful of weeks left, eek).  But that's sort of what we're- okay I'M- picturing.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bump update

I can see this blog changing a bit.  Being pregnant for the first time is a pretty unique experience and if we're lucky enough to go through it again I suspect I won't have the time to write self-indulgent blog posts about it.  All I want to do right now is write about what I'm experiencing and what we're doing so I can come back to it in years to come and remember it all.  So it might get a bit dull for you guys, sorry not sorry...

I feel like I got really huge in the last 10 weeks but looking at these (the 22-week shot was taken yesterday) I still don't look as massive as I feel.
Anyway, I think we've locked in a girl's name which I'm thrilled about.  We'll keep a few others in consideration in case it doesn't fit for whatever reason, but it's nice to have one definite option inked in.  Boys' names are still in discussion although we have a short list, all of which I like.  It's a relief that we're now on the same page since the naming discussion got off to a shaky start with each of us saying an emphatic GOD NO to the other's suggestions.  AWKWARD.

The belly is definitely getting more prominent, despite not looking as big as I feel.  The other morning I accidentally bumped into the bench with my stomach, hard, and came over all dizzy and sick with spots in my vision.  Anyone would think there was something important in there.  Noted: take care of tummy.

I finally achieved a very important milestone a couple of weeks ago.  A lady gave up her seat for me on the train!  I was more than a bit thrilled cos I was getting quite self conscious about looking pudgy, although I think it depends a lot on what I wear.  Some of the guys at work still act surprised when I tell them I'm pregnant.

Having passed 20 weeks there is now less time ahead than behind - eek!  The anatomy scan went very well, baby measuring exactly 19 weeks 5 days, and even though I sneakily tried to see if it's a boy or girl I really have no clue.

The last few days I THINK I have felt some movement but honestly could not be sure.  I don't want to get all misty over digestive gases.  I'm sure I'll be feeling unmistakeable kicks soon enough so I'm trying to be patient.

I also recently had a very weird emotional spell where I burst out crying for LITERALLY NO REASON AT ALL while Blair was cooking dinner.  He rushed over all, "What's wrong, what's wrong?!" but I could only wail "I don't knoowww!".  It was very strange. Five minutes later I was fine again.

The spare room is absolutely stuffed with baby gear now.  I'm itching to get the baby room cleared out so we can start putting everything in place, but realistically there's no hurry.  Plus, all the furniture requires assembly - ugh.  My OCD need for organisation doesn't care about that though.  I just want everything organised.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

No-churn Chocolate Ice Cream (also known as semifreddo)

This is so easy it can hardly be called a recipe.  And so delicious you will hardly be able to believe it.

It's also VERY RICH.  If you're anything like me you'll need to eat it with berries to cut the richness, and the berry to ice cream ratio is very important.  My sister also informed me that an ice cream created without churning is actually a semifreddo which makes it sound very fancy and complicated indeed.

Anyway enough jibber jabber!

530ml cream
395g can sweetened condensed milk
180g good quality dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract

Add the vanilla extract to the melted chocolate.  Mix the condensed milk into the chocolate and vanilla.

Whip the cream to soft peaks.  Fold a little of the cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold the chocolate mixture through the rest of the cream, retaining most of the air.

Add nuts, chocolate chips, frozen berries, marshmallows, crumbled biscuits... whatever your crazy brain can come up with and your heart desires.

Freeze overnight or for a few hours at least.

You can find the original Better Homes & Gardens recipe here (it's a video which is a bit annoying).

I kind of like how mine didn't come out perfectly mixed - let me tell you those ribbons of chocolate throughout are little ribbons of heaven.  So don't be too crazy about making sure it's perfectly combined.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

I'd like to thank the academy...

I've been nominated for another Leibster!  By Elisha from the Windmill Paddock - one of my favourite blogs.

Elisha makes adorable babies, takes gorgeous photos, grows flowers and veg like a champ AND owns a vineyard.  What's not to love!  The best part is that I found her blog when she "delurked" my blog.  I love the blog community (blommunity...?) sometimes!

Now, on with the show!

1. What was your favourite item of clothing you wore as a kid?
I don't recall having any specific favourites at the time, but since my mother had a penchant for dressing my sister and I in skivvies, cords and desert boots in varying shades of blue, green and brown, I'm pretty sure we were both fairly fixated on anything pink and girly.  We used to get hand-me-downs from one of our neighbours with an older girl and how we treasured those frilly skirts and sparkly tops.
2. What was the best Santa present you ever received?
I can't remember how old I was but one year my sister and I each got a kitten which was probably the best present ever.  I've no idea how she achieved it but somehow Mum smuggled them into the car for a two-hour drive, onto the ferry and into our holiday house on Kangaroo Island without the cats revealing their presence.
3. What is your go to drink when a party is on the cards?
Pretty boring but white wine usually, just because it's easy.  If we're at home and I can be bothered mixing drinks, my real favourite is gin with ruby grapefruit juice.  But not too many or the sugar will give you a tummy ache.

And while I'm pregnant, Agrum stands in nicely for an alcoholic drink.
4. What is your favourite meal/dessert/cake to make?
In terms of savoury foods I love making pasta bake.  Mainly because I love eating it.  For sweets, I recently made Nigella's bread pudding which was delicious and so easy, so that's a new firm favourite in the sweets department.
5. The best band/ performer you have seen in concert?
This makes me a huge HUGE dag but by far my favourite live music experiences have been classical performances.  Ben Folds with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra was amazing.  I would have loved to see the Hilltop Hoods with the ASO too.
6. What is your worst habit?
Biting the skin around my nails, being a lazy friend, eating things I shouldn't, interrupting people, never answering my phone or calling people back, etc.
7. What is your favourite one-liner from a movie?
"Let's do all the things that YOU want to do." - Ace Ventura.  I use this frequently in real life.
8. What is the best place you have visited in Australia?
Hayman Island is pretty amazing.
9. What did you do with yourself the year straight after you finished High School?
I got a job at Bi-Lo as a checkout chick.  I moved out of home and into a house with my sister.  I went clubbing A LOT.  I dropped out of three TAFE courses.  I wasted pretty much all my money.  Good times.  Good times.
10. What's your go to song when you are in the best, happiest, ready for fun mood?
Juicy by Notorious BIG.  My cat is called Biggie Smalls for a reason.

And now, because I'm incredibly lazy, I'm not going to pass the Leibster baton.  I know!  I know!  But I can't keep nominating the same people over and over.  So the party ends here.

Thanks to Elisha for nominating me - make sure you check out her blog!  It's most excellent.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Nigella's Choc Chip Bread and Butter Pudding

The other night I got that irresistible urge to bake.  To make something sweet that would come out of the oven bubbling and smelling amazing… but without too much effort involved.

Ages ago I saw an episode of Nigella on TV where she whipped up a fairly simple bread and butter pudding.  I couldn't find the recipe online anywhere so I laboriously wrote out the instructions, pausing and rewinding as I went.  It still doesn't appear to be published on the net officially by Nigella, but you can find the exact recipe here.

Well all that old-fashioned writing effort I put in was totes worth it, you guys!  We only had wholemeal bread which actually worked quite well but I can tell it would be A.MAZ.ING with white bread next time.  Don't be stingy with the chocolate chips.  Consider a light sprinkle of cinnamon into the custard mixture.

My sister told me that you can also make it with croissants which would really be some next level shiz.

Don't be fooled by the crispy appearance - there is a coating of demerara sugar on top which, combined with the custard soaked up by the bread, made for a chewy amazing texture on top.

I don't even like custard and this thing was heaven on a plate.

Considering that the majority of the cooking time is spent seated comfortably on the couch, this will definitely be on high rotation in our house.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pregnancy observations (it's science, people!)

Do you think there's really a baby in here?
It's taken some time to get used to the fact that I'm REALLY pregnant, which sounds ridiculous.  We're just about halfway.

Random things will occasionally remind me that this is real: seeing the pram standing in the spare room and suddenly picturing a baby in it.  Or when I open the fridge and catch sight of the ultrasound photo hanging on the front.  That thing is inside me right now.

Back on Fathers' Day Blair and I went out for breakfast, not even realising it was Fathers' Day, and it dawned on us that next year we'll have a fat gurgling (or perhaps screaming...) six month old at the table with us.  Finishing my granny blanket and picturing a baby wrapped it in, or having a kick on the floor on it, gives me such butterflies in my chest.

I have now officially submitted my maternity leave application at work.  Writing a date that ends in "2016" for my return to work... WEIRD.

Generally I've been feeling really well.  I don't even really feel pregnant except for not being able to sit as close to my desk as I used to.  The one symptom that reminds me that I'm pregnant every damn day is the morning sickness.  I saw on Facebook someone blithely suggest "mind over matter" as a way to combat morning sickness.  It's hard to summon mind power when you are heaving so violently it's coming out your nose.  JUST SAYING.

Other than the nausea, I have experienced a couple of pregnancy symptoms that I had previously scoffed at or dismissed (so arrogant, so ignorant!).  In particular, the cravings (I've been obsessed with coffee) and the "baby brain" which has me stopping blankly halfway through a sentence trying to remember where I was going with that.  It's a good look at work.

Everyone's been asking me if I've felt the baby move yet which sadly I haven't although I'm dying to.  Every night I lie perfectly still in bed and squinch my eyes shut, concentrating so hard, but nothing.  Apparently the placenta is in front which acts like a big cushion and muffles the movement.  The doctor said I may not feel anything until as late as 22-24 weeks WHICH IS LIKE FOREVERRR.

After loftily claiming that I have no interest in decorating a nursery a couple of months ago I must admit that I have been seeing some really cute stuff on Pinterest and okay maybe I will decorate a little bit.  That's a whole other post.  The baby room is slowly being purged of gym stuff (bye, treadmill!) although Blair is having a harder time letting go.  I may have to sit him down and have an honest talk about the fact that a gym slash baby room is not going to happen.  The weights have got to go.

The generosity of friends and family has really been overwhelming.  Not only books, maternity gear and literally stacks of baby clothes and muslins, but a pram, bassinet, baby seat, a bath, and now nappies have all been gifted our way.  Pretty much all we need is the baby,

Being given nappies is a huge HUGE relief as trying to figure out which brand/style of cloth nappy to buy was really hurting my brain.  This morning my sister kindly said she'll send us her whole stock of Pea Pods which takes the decision making out of my hands, thank god.

On that note, I look at the list of items to buy and I KNOW that there are things on there that are just going to be a huge pointless waste of money.  

So, you parents.  What was your a) most useful and b) most pointless baby purchase?  I know everyone is different but clueless child-allergic Prudence needs all the help she can get!!  

Also, I know the commenting on here can be temperamental at best and I have no idea how to fix it.  If you can't leave a comment, you can email using the button at top right, or via Facebook (also at top right).


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Well that went quick!

Today is Blair's and my one-year anniversary!  I can't believe how quickly that year went by.  I'm not sure either of us even would have remembered the date if a friend hadn't texted me to say happy anniversary.  Whoops.

Now that we have remembered, it's been fun going back through the photos and reliving that whole awesome weekend.  It really doesn't feel a whole year ago already.

I remember eating these Coco Pops and feeling SO. NERFOUS.
That awful weather!
The world's shortest ceremony.  Time to drink!

It's no secret that I love to reminisce - the main reason I write a blog is so that I can go back and look at days past and relive memories.

This day was easily the best day of my life.  We had such fun.  Everyone there was close friends or family.  The most important thing to us was to have a great time with our favourite people and that goal was achieved a millionfold.

I've said plenty of times before that it seems to me that life keeps getting better year after year.  This year has been no exception - we have learned even more about each other and ourselves, have cried a bit but laughed a LOT together.  We are so lucky, so lucky, and are able to do so many amazing things that we want to do and yet it's still the days at home together, like today, which we love the most.

I like to tell Blair what an excellent coincidence it is that he loves my company as much as I love his.  I still feel flattered and excited when he tells me he just wants to hang out with me.

Now I sit here with our baby growing inside me.  This time next year we will be three.  I so look forward to the years ahead to see what they hold.  

Monday, 29 September 2014

A babymoon of sorts

  1. a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.
    "on the eve of my third trimester, we boarded a plane for a week-long babymoon among the quiet canals of Amsterdam"

Not long after we discovered I was pregnant, Blair and I planned a trip to the south-west for the Queen's birthday long weekend (which is in September in WA).  My employer provides an extra holiday the Friday of the long weekend which meant we had four days to play with.

Clearly the highest and best use of that time was to spent at least 10 hours of it driving to and from Denmark, our intended base for the weekend.

I've lived in WA for over two years and have never been south of Perth so this trip was long-overdue.  I have heard so much about the beauty of the south-west corner so I was really looking forward to it.  Only my list of must-sees were:
  • Karri forest - in particular to do the treetop walk
  • Greens Pool
  • Albany whaling station

Here is where we went - an almost 1000km round trip
We left Perth at about lunchtime on Friday, having dropped an extremely pissed off Biggie Smalls at the cattery on the way.

I must admit that by Hour Four of the drive to Denmark, we were starting to wonder what possessed us to do this as opposed to, say, taking a three hour flight to Bali.  Which would have had us sipping drinks by the pool, whereas we still had an hour and a half of driving ahead of us.

Luckily the scenery was very beautiful, lush and green rolling farmland as well as millions of wildflowers.  I pointed out the drifts of flowers on the roadsides to Blair, to which he replied that, yes, someone should really come through with some Round-Up.  EYEROLL.

We were staying in an apartment in the middle of Denmark overlooking the river, and even better for Blair, only 20 paces from the pub.  That got me some brownie points.

Considering that we didn't arrive until about 6pm we walked down to the pub for dinner ABSOLUTELY STARVING.  Unfortunately it was then an inexplicable 45 minute wait for our food.  Inexplicable because we watched with Little Orphan Annie eyes as tables around us received all three of their courses while we waited for ours.  Blair joked about eating the chips left behind by another table and the thing was that I could tell we were both half contemplating it.  In the end the food was very good when it did arrive, but I wonder if our opinions were coloured by how ravenous we were.  I'm pretty sure I've never seriously considered eating the dregs off someone else's table before.

Our accommodation - very nice and lots of notes taken for our future house if we ever build one

We awoke the next day to pelting rain and lashing winds which was probably going make sightseeing a little less fun but it never stopped us when we were in Europe last year so it wasn't going to stop us now.

We got breakfast from the Denmark Bakery which, according to their window, had won sixteen first place ribbons at last year's Royal Perth Show.  Blair had a seafood chowder pie for breakfast (I know, I can only shake my head) and declared it to be exceptional.  I had a coffee and a croissant which were also really good.

After breakfast we drove down to have a look at Wilson's Inlet.  It was very pretty and moody in between the rain showers.

As expected, the rain soon started back up again so we hopped back in the car and drove around to have a look at Elephant Rocks.

Yes.  Very elephant-looking.  NEXT.

It was then onwards to Albany to have a look at the old whaling station, which turned out to be 18km from Albany.  I guess the sense of doom and scent of whale guts doesn't make good ambience for your town.  Good planning, town fathers.

The whaling station cost $30 each to get into which we are far too stingy to pay, so we just looked at it from outside the fence while Blair made up facts about where the whales were gutted and so on.  It was very informative if wildly inaccurate.

Even on a dreary day, the colour of that water just never disappoints

Although I had really hoped to see some whales considering that it was the right time of year for it, no such luck.  That out there is just a boring old rock.

After Blair ran out of made up facts about the whaling industry, we decided to go back up the hill to look at the view.  It was unbelievably windy and FREEZING.  But luckily not raining.  Blair caused me considerable alarm by climbing all the rocks in his sandals (sorry, I mean jandals) but he reassuringly told me that they were his special rock climbing jandals.  Which was great until he got a huge splinter of wood in one of them and nearly gashed his foot open.

The pathway up to the rocks

These photos really do not do justice to the lashing Southern Ocean winds

It was so windy I think I started to go bald

This is Blair grumpily trying to get the splinter of wood out of his jandal while looking down over Albany

We somehow jagged it (as Blair would say) and managed to get back in the car literally seconds before it PISSED DOWN.  It poured as we drove through Albany, and did not stop the whole way back to Denmark.  We stopped in at Boston Brewery for lunch which was again exceptional.  I guess all that wind, cold and exertion really whips up your appetite because we ordered pork po-boy rolls, smoked mussels, gnocchi in a creamy parmesan sauce and hot chips.  And we cleaned up nearly the whole lot!  The gnocchi were so light and fluffy I am now obsessed with recreating them.  I've never had gnocchi like it.  I was this close to going over and asking the chef how HOW did they make them so amazing.

We had a very cozy table next to the fire and I could have happily sat there all afternoon except that Blair had a pressing date with his mate and the big screen TV down at the Denmark pub at 12.30 sharp. (that's grand final time for those of you unfamiliar with the WA time zone).

Those chefs were hiding in the back of the kitchen probably unnerved by my beady eyes fixed on them trying to figure out how they made gnocchi like tiny clouds in my mouth

Once we got back Blair hustled himself down to the pub to watch the big game.  I of course was overwhelmed with disinterest so I stayed at the apartment to catch up on some TV.

Well I probably don't need to say what happened next.  The game was a total wash.  Apparently the pub had pretty much emptied out of people by half time, when Blair came back with a six-pack of Corona under his arm to watch in comfort.  Unfortunately the wild weather did nothing for the TV reception (not that it was exactly a nail-biter to be closely watched).

Abstract football
We spent the rest of the afternoon inside, watching the weather whip itself into a frenzy outside.  Not exactly what we'd envisaged when booking the place.

Fish and chips for dinner and early to bed listening to the wind and rain… and starting to think about heading home a day early if the weather didn't improve….

On Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise which filled me with hope!  But then it gave way to a constant drifting rain.  It was even worse that yesterday because the wind had died down which meant it just rained and rained, instead of blowing through periodically.

We went to a cafe called Mrs Jones, recommended by the apartment owner and HIGHLY recommended by me.
Need I say more?
We dashed through the rain to the car, and went back to the apartment to pack up and hit the road as early as possible.  I was devastated at the thought of missing out on the treetop walk (who knew when we would be back?) so we decided to chance it anyway in the hope that maybe it wouldn't be raining when we got there.

On the way we saw the sign for Greens Pool, only 4km off the highway so we drove down for a look.  Just for comparison's sake, this is what the google images of Greens Pool look like:

This is what it looked like when we were there:

I mean, you have to laugh, right?

We got back in the car and drove on to the Valley of the Giants, the home of the treetop walk.  This was the part I had been most excited for.  Anyone who knows me knows I love heights.  Standing 40m above the forest floor on a wavering platform was like a dream come true.

Of course, it rained while we were there.  We bought a couple of very fetching ponchos and just got over it.  The treetop walk was excellent.  I loved it.  Even in the rain I could have spent hours up there in the canopy.

Where is the green parrot?

After leaving the forest we drove straight on home to Perth basically without stopping.  Far OUT it is a long way.  It's a testament to the sheer size of Western Australia that when we told people that we were planning to drive to Denmark for a four-day weekend, not one person said anything about how far it was to go for so short a time.  It's a whole other sense of distance over here.  

Other than the weather, we had a great time.  I loved Denmark, especially the very active alternative culture.  There were signs everywhere for things like chakra-dancing classes and lots of prayer flags everywhere.  I've never seen so many people in hessian jumpers and tie-dyed pants.  When we had breakfast at Mrs Jones, the place was full of old hippies in Birkinstocks and beanies.  I've never felt so overwhelmingly that I was amongst my people. It was really nice.

The scenery around Denmark, especially at this time of year and even in spite of the terrible weather we experienced, really is stunningly beautiful.  It reminded me of the Adelaide Hills only on a far greater scale.  It was every bit as amazing and worth the time to get there that people had promised.

I guess we can tick "babymoon" off the To Do list.