Edited highlights: Pancakes, date loaf and Swedish foodstuffs

We like to make things in this house… well, not all the time, we can open packets and buy pre-prepared stuff with the best of them (chicken-on-a-stick, fish-in-a-box), but when we do make things from scratch we are very proud!

Exhibit A: Date loaf for school election day cake stall…


Exibit B: My mothers’ Day pancakes, made for me by George

so lucky…

Made with a little bit of help from this…

I may have dropped a hint by buying pancake mix the day before.

The date loaf looked good, but I didn’t taste it and hadn’t baked a second one to keep for us. I wrapped it and literally took it straight to the cake stall still warm. Someone whacked a $7 price tag on it and after I came back from doing a bread and chopped onions run for the school BBQ, the date loaf had sold! Hope whoever bought it enjoyed their afternoon tea.

This sifter belonged to my mum’s mum, Philippa. I love it. This is George doing his bit for election day school fundraising.

The last days of Autumn have brought some pretty sunsets…

Looking out my dirty old window…

We’ve had high school information nights to go to in preparation for next year and dinner out with some school families.

The best card of all!

A Mother’s day outing in the city to many favourite destinations…

Dobinson’s is one of my favourites. And is soon to open in Woden!
Oh yeah, this old chestnut…

This past week we’ve had a visit from my mum, aka Batgran, aka George’s “Naughty Granny” (naughty because she was the one who introduced a much younger George to chocolate, hot chips and video games – not all in the same day). Maybe that’s just what grannies do.

This weekend, we introduced Granny to IKEA. “They’ve got it sown up!” she said, impressed with the cafe, the grocery section, the checkouts, and the other cafe at the checkouts exit where you buy the $1 hotdogs. She came out armed with Swedish foodstuffs and confessed to buying them “because they’re Swedish”. I know what she means. Sometimes I feel like I live in Europe when I visit IKEA. It’s a nice little escape.

We had been enjoying the last of T-shirt and shorts weather (George) before being hit by an icy blast at the end of May, which saw snow in the Blue Mountains (but not in Canberra). But still, he has relented and started wearing his long pants to school this past week.

And finally last week, George got his first pet… two actually, a pair of baby guinea pigs!

We’ve been learning a LOT about Guinea pigs. Will post more about that next time.

Have a great weekend.

Edited highlights: Spring flowers, food and boys in the wild

Lately I’ve been enjoying so many colourful blooms in Canberra and that doesn’t even include Floriade, the National Capital’s annual flower festival. Now that the cold of Winter has passed, let’s look back at some Spring highlights…

I noticed a neighbour planting bulbs a few months ago and look what happened!


Fields of gold: Spring literally springing

Spider Boy and I were invited to the most delicious Indian dinner at a school friend’s house. Cooked by an auntie visiting from Mumbai. It was honestly THE best Indian food I’ve ever had, including my favourite butter chicken.


Amazing flavours of India

I found myself in the position I hadn’t been in since last year… unemployment! But it was only for a week and it was the last week of the school term. I have a new job starting today, first day of the new school term! #Timing.

But there was that day three weeks ago when I had time to go to the gym after school drop-off and then stop into a cafe for coffee and a muffin that just looked too good to resist. Yes,  don’t worry, I walked to the coffee shop afterwards. Better than when I was in my 20s and would get a taxi to the gym and then a taxi to McDonalds.


HAD to replenish after the gym.

The following week, Spider Boy’s Dad took him to his favourite comic shop, Impact Comics, while I sat in Dobinsons and did some plotting and planning, just like old times in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

This Canberra city cafe reminds me of home, as it’s named after the former Dobinsons of Rose Bay and owned by the grand-daughter of the original Dobinson. It’s my little bit of Rose Bay in Canberra when Lake BG just isn’t doing it for me. Although what am I talking about, how could Lake BG not do it for me!


Sun streaming in the Dobinsons window on a rainy/sunny Spring afternoon

Spider Boy came into the Canberra Centre with me a couple of times this holidays and played with the wall art. You press a button and the light changes colour. Plus he’s developed a mysterious craving for Subway sandwiches. Funny, since I never take him there. But at least he’s over his McDonald’s obsession!


Canberra Centre: where the magic happens.

The Daffodils in the first picture actually started springing up in August. Now this little mini-field of fireballs has sprung up. Well done, mysterious neighbour whose name I don’t know! I practically don’t even need to go to Floriade any more! It’s right here in my own shared driveway.


Fields of fire

Not too far from Canberra, there’s a unique place to explore our natural world… well that’s what the sign at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve says. And that’s exactly what it is. On the fringe of Namadgi National Park, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is around 50 square kilometres of protected area only about 40 minutes drive from Canberra.

We had a beautiful day with the boys (Spider Boy and his friend), although they DID keep mentioning complaining about the fact there was no Subway there. Thank goodness!


I think a little bit more of this would be good for them.

Have you been enjoying the warmer weather?

What do you like best about Spring in Canberra?

The trek to Tuggeranong. Or long day’s journey into night.

Spider Boy and I had a slight obstacle on the second day of Term 2 last week when the entrance of our street (a no-through road) was flooded during the big Sydney storm (well New South Wales storm actually).

My mother warned me about the dangers of driving through the flood (some would say giant puddle), worrying about water in the brakes. Without her car, it was a good 20 minute walk in the heavy rain. And I was slightly worried about precarious tree branches.

I know it’s a bit soft of me, but I let Spider Boy stay home from school. Our street situation was a tiny hiccup though, compared to what some went through; thousands of people further up the coast were without power for days (some are still without) and are dealing with bad property damage.

This week is the first full week back at school so I think a holiday retrospective is due.

Spider Boy and I make the trek to Tuggeranong, in Canberra’s south every school holidays for a few days. The day before we were due to go this time, I developed a terrible sore throat.

“You shouldn’t be going!”Mum warned on departure day. “You’ll just get sicker and and I really don’t want to have to drive to Canberra to come and get you.” I thanked her for her concern but told her to stop with the Negative Nancy talk.

At 8.30am, I called the Apple Store in Canberra to see about my four-week old MacBook Air that just wouldn’t power on (as of the previous evening) despite a fully-charged battery. The Genius Bar was already full for the day, but I was told I could just turn up as a “walk-in” on arrival in Canberra.

We got on to the bus with cheese-flavoured snacks, hand-sanitiser, antibacterial wipes, a box of tissues, and my broken Macbook Air. And a Ninja Turtle backpack full of action figures. Somewhere in the Southern Highlands, Spider Boy, who had made it to Canberra by bus without vomiting the previous two journeys, said he didn’t feel well. He didn’t look it. I rummaged for a plastic bag and held it open on his lap.

“Mum, that bag’s got a hole in it!” He warned. He’s so sharp. It was only a tiny hole… surely there wouldn’t be that much vomit? I quickly rummaged for another plastic bag and double-bagged. A second later, there it was. A heady mix of rice-crackers and cheese balls.

There were a few more in-seat vomits (he’s very neat) and questions that alternated between, “How many more minutes until we get there?” and “How many minutes now?”, to which I would respond with answers like “97” and “about 54”, when really it was still over 100.

These questions started just after Campbelltown (Canberra is at least another 2.5 hours after that) and continued until just after we passed the ACT border sign. Poor thing. He was the only child on the bus full of hipster student-types on their (functioning) Macbook Airs, watching Game of Netflix of whatever it is they watch. The only child on the bus. Why am I still catching the bus? Am I scared of the M5? A little bit. So that, and the fact that I don’t own a car.

When we finally disembarked the vessel of vomit after 195 minutes (don’t worry, I took the holey vomit-bags with me) we stuffed our luggage into one of the small lockers ($5 for 3 hours – pretty good) at the Jolimont Centre (Canberra’s bus station) and hot-footed it to the Apple Store.

Fortunately Spider Boy had made a miraculous recovery now that he was out in the crisp Canberra April afternoon air.

I cursed as I realised I always forget how chilly late afternoons in April can be in Canberra. I NEVER bring enough warm clothes. I always seem to be at Big W every visit, buying an emergency cardigan. I really need to learn to pack more efficiently.

At the Apple Store, Kit, a charming young man with a – I want to say clipboard, but I know it was an iPad – told me there were 19 “walk-ins” waiting ahead of me. As it was 4.30 on a Friday afternoon I didn’t fancy my chances. Although the Apple Store was open till 9pm that day, I was hoping for something between 4.30 and 5.00pm, thanks very much.

Blue-eyed, 20-something Kit did his best to squeeze me in with a “genius” from said Genius Bar, as he suspected my computer problem might be resolved with the push of the right button/s. He grabbed a genius for me just as she was going home.

She pressed a few buttons, but nothing.

“I think we’re going to have to open her up,” the genius warned me, “but I’m on my way home now, so you’ll need to come back tomorrow.” We established that as my computer could be “in repair” for up to seven days, I was better off taking it to the Apple store in Sydney, since that’s where I actually live.

I managed to hold back the contents of my nose and bade the genius and Kit farewell

With a broken Apple there was nothing for it but to go to where I could get some working fruit, on a tart, namely. No trip to Canberra is complete without a visit to Dobinson’s, one of the best bakeries I have ever been to. Seriously, if you like cake and/or pie, go there.


The generous tarts of Dobinson’s in Canberra

We met Spider Boy’s dad back at the Jolimont Centre. SBD/ex-husband wanted to take us to visit his father in hospital. I told him I didn’t feel right about going into a hospital because I didn’t want to give my father-in-law, or any other patient, my germs. He said something about hand-sanitiser.

When we got to my father-in-law’s room, I stuck my head in the doorway and warned him about about my cold but he didn’t care. “Come in and sit down, Love”, he insisted. I sat in the corner not touching anyone or anything and I tried not to breath out. I was hand-sanitising every 2 minutes, everytime I had to hold a tissue to my nose.

After chatting politely to a family friend who was also visiting, stopping to buy take-away Malaysian food in the cold and dark early evening, and schlepping bags from the visitor’s carpark in my brother-in-law’s townhouse complex, we sat down and ate dinner. By the time I finally got into my pyjamas, my nose was more blocked, my eyes were stinging and watering, and a headache had developed.

I went to bed when Spider Boy did, but couldn’t sleep; we were sharing a bed, I was thinking about all the things, I kept needing to blow my nose but didn’t want to wake my little companion and I was worried about breathing on him. “Mum do you have to keep blowing your nose all night?” he implored before he drifted off.

After our long day’s journey, I finally fell asleep sometime after midnight, with a Vick’s-smeared tissue up one nostril.

Do you ever travel long-distance by bus? Do those travel-sickness ginger tablets work? Do you ever have trouble sleeping even though you’re really tired?