I have a very clever mommy. She is such a talented artist, dress maker, crafter, stain glasser (I’m sure there is a word for that), coppersmith, beader… the list goes on. And I don’t mean she dabbles in each, she is AMAZING at them all. I’m very thankful that I picked up her interest in crafting and sewing although she has more talent in her little toe than I have in my whole body!

For some reason I’m having some trouble blending my interest in crafts into my life as a mum to my 19 month old. It never occured to me until this weekend that I could make playdough for my little girl (duh!) until I stumbled across this amazing blog The Imagination Tree. They feature, amongst a million brilliant play ideas, a recipe for no-cook playdough. I’ve googled playdough recipes and only found versions that require standing over a pot and stirring for ages. Although slightly skeptical, I decided to give it a go. Since everything still ends up in my daughter’s mouth, I decided to just use food colouring and not add a flavour which would only encourage her to eat it. The Imagination tree has all sorts of playdough recipes using glitter, flavour (chocolate, yum!) and a salt dough recipe to bake your child’s artwork into permanent keepsakes (Christmas ornaments!).

This is the basic no-cook recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • a few drops of glycering (for extra smoothness, stretch & shine)
  • food colouring

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir vigorously until all the lumps are gone and it begins to come together into a ball. Once it has cooled enough t handle, knead until it stops being sticky. I went with green food colouring which was the least appetising colour I have in my baking cupboard (in another effort to avoid playtime turning into tea time!).

Start to finish it took about 5 minutes plus another 10 to be cool enough for little hands to play. I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was, plus I don’t think it would be possible to muck it up!

Ruby was a little unsure at first because it was still warm and she has a little obsession at the moment with things being hot. If she comes across a food she doesn’t like, its hot (great excuse!). But once she saw how much fun I was having using the cookie cutters she got for christmas in a baking set to cut the dough into shapes, she dove right in. We had a good 25 minutes play and the playdough was put into a ziplock bag to keep for another time. We’ve since used it 3 times and its still as good as new.

Here are some pictures of little R having her first go at my green playdough:

See, I told you all roads lead to the mouth! I think this would make a really nice gift, easy and not expensive. If I find some cute little containers at a dollar store I will make up a batch with different colours for a friend (hopefully they don’t make their own either!)

If you haven’t already, give it a go and check in on The Imagination Tree for lots of imaginative play ideas.

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So, we’re moving house and since I’ve just stopped working I’m now responsible, full-time, for Ruby’s entertainment, meals, and general well-being (amongst other things) and also trying to pack up a house. It’s proving a wee bit taxing and I found myself with an empty fridge approaching lunch time.

I took a good hard look at what I had and struck on a good idea. Mini quiches, stuffed full of grated lightly steamed veggies and a little cheese.

I grated some zucchini (courgette to you Saffa’s) and carrot then steamed them. Then I finely diced some tomato and set it aside. I then whisked up 2 eggs with about a cup of milk and a small piece of grated cheese. I had some ready rolled puff pastry sheets in the freezer which I’d thawed and cut into 9 squares to line my muffin tin. When that was done I put a little of the veggies in each ‘cup’, topped with eggy mixture and baked them for 12 min until the pastry & filling puffed up. I had 5 ‘cups’ of puff pastry extra so I mashed up a banana with a little ricotta and some choc chips and filled them just to see if it would work. They came out beautifully, puffed up & set and totally delicious!

Here is the result of my baking efforts (after we’d both enjoyed some for lunch, there were more to start with!):

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So, I’m in the kitchen, as I type, making pikelets (mini-pancakes) for Ruby.

I’m the cook so I got to taste the first one, hot off the press so-to-speak and it was YUM!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

125g (1 cup) wholemeal plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons raw sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 tablespoon honey
170ml (2/3 cup) milk

Spray oil for greasing the pan

Method

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Mash the banana in a separate bowl, add the egg and milk & honey and whisk. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Preferably add mixture to a squeezy bottle.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and spray lightly with oil. Squirt tablespoons of mixture into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn the pikelets over and cook for another 30 seconds.

These are really good for snacks on the go, Ruby loves them!

I find myself at home alone on a friday morning. Daddy has gone to work taking little R to daycare on his way and I’m waiting to head off to the hospital to start my 3rd treatment.

I’m feeling contemplative for 2 reasons:

1) Its amazing how ‘incomplete’ I feel when I’m on my own now. I can count on both hands the number of times I have been on my own since little R was born. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been alone at home since she was born. No wonder I feel like a part of me is missing when she isn’t around. The baby next door started crying about an hour ago and I jumped up out of my chair by instinct. Having a baby with little support has been a challenge for sure, but it sure is worth it! I love her with every tiny fibre of my being and am having the BEST time watching her grow into a beautiful little person.

2) I can’t even begin to express how my life has changed since starting this arthritis treatment. I spent 3 years in horrendous pain at night and over half of that sleeping sitting up at 45 degrees because lying flat was impossible. Not only can I lie down like a ‘normal’ person next to my husband (who spent 18 months cuddling up to my 7 pillows) but I can sleep all night without even the slightest twinge of pain in my spine. UNBELIEVABLE. Its like someone turned off a switch and the pain disappeared. I am grateful beyond belief that my specialist agreed, without any tangible evidence, that I have auto-immune Psoriatic Arthritis and stuck with me down this long and frustrating journey to treatment. I am also immensely thankful that Medicare has a subsidy programme that pays for my treatment, because at $3,300 every 8 weeks, I would not otherwise be able to have it.

I have so much to be thankful for and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Here are a couple of photos of Ruby I took yesterday, munching on a mango pip and scoffing some yogurt (on her own, mind you – what a big girl!)

So I bit the bullet and made the first bento ever. Well, first made by this mama and first presented to Ruby that is.

Its taken quite a long time for me to finally get down to making a bento lunch for my baby. I’ve been reading various blogs for a little while including Julie’s wonderfully insightful blog Teaching “good” eatersWhat’s for lunch at our house & Bent on better lunches.

I unfortunately chose a day when I really didn’t have anything that went together particularly well but I guess thats the beauty of bento, you can put together little pieces of different things and it looks exciting.

I chose stars as the theme because its probably the most popular word in my little darling’s growing repertoire. Plus I happened to have a collection of star cookie cutters (none of which were actually small enough for most of my needs so I ended up cutting a lot by hand).

Unfortunately I don’t have ANY bento supplies at all so once I’d made everything I had to scratch around for things to use. It doesn’t look great but it serves the purpose I guess.

So, here it is: a peanut butter and honey star-shaped sandwhich on wholegrain bread that I flattened with a rolling pin first, 3 multigrain vita-weat crackers with star-shaped slices of cheese, a container of baby garden peas (which is pretty much the only green veggie that she will eat that isn’t hidden in some other food), star-shaped pieces of watermelon, sliced kiwi fruit on a skewer (the middles look like stars!) and a cup of yogurt:

First ever Bento!

Check out the little cup that Granny gave my darling when they were visiting last December, he’s the cutest little bright yellow melamine duck with a cute little lid that fits on too:

Duck cup

I am pleased to report that lunch was a real hit! I lost count how many times I heard her squeal out a high pitched “thtar!” It was lovely to watch her little face light up each time she found a new one, very cute.

Thanks to all the bento bloggers and encouraging mums out there for the motivation to finally give bento a try!

I was in the mood to bake something for Ruby today and found this recipe for chewy banana oatmeal cookies. I made quite a few changes: included about 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, reduced the amount of sugar because it seemed an awful lot, used half wholemeal flour. They turned out HUGE so next time I will make them smaller (more Ruby sized), they still turned out too sweet so next time I will again reduce the amount of sugar and I’ll go 100% wholemeal flour because they will be even better. They turned out yummy and chewy and full of oaty, raisiny, walnutty goodness! Here is the amended recipe:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (or wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 175°; line two baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg.
In a large bowl, with a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars on medium speed. 
Add the egg, followed by the mashed banana and vanilla extract.
Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oats until just combined and no streaks of flour remain, stir in the chopped walnuts & raisins. Drop small tablespoonfuls of the dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cookies become light brown at the edges.
Let cool on baking sheet for 3 or 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container so you don’t eat them all in one sitting!

So I’ve been thinking about starting up the old blog again but am still very much in two minds about it all.

As you can see if you cast your eye down the history it never really got off to much of a start and ended quite early in my pregnancy. I just didn’t have much to write about except bloating and morning sickness. Then in the crazy days after our angel was born, I REALLY didn’t have any time to spare. I also feel a bit odd writing down my thoughts for everyone to see, maybe that would improve with time? I know my brother would be happy if I decide to start up again but he probably wouldn’t have the time to read it more than once a year without nagging him.

Perhaps I’ll see what response this post out of the blue generates and make my decision later…

So, apparently the baby has been upgraded from raspberry to green olive sized – miraculously doubling in a week! If the increased morning sickness is anything to go by then I’d say thats about right.

Steph (at work) has offered to host a baby shower for us which is really lovely. She’s already planning menus and is terribly excited. I’ve asked her that it take place in March/April when Lauren and Caroline are over here.

Getting really excited now about the obstetrician’s appointment next week, I can’t wait to see the ultrasound and hopefully hear the heartbeat!

Well, I’m pleased to say that I had the ‘chat’ with my manager today and all went well. As it turns out, she actually knew already! Apparently, our bodyguard of a month ago actually put it in his report – surely the guy would have known that at 5 weeks pregnant I hadn’t yet told work – sigh. Anyway, it turns out the entire management team have known for a month but were waiting for me to come out and say it. Apparently no hard feelings. Everyone is, as usual, being really supportive and is terribly happy for us both. I really am so fortunate to work in such an amazing environment!

It is pretty funny how people react when they find out you’re pregnant. Steph, a girl I work with and thankfully am good friends with, asked if she could feel my stomach today. I had to politely decline on grounds that it’s all just bloating rather than baby at the moment and recommended she wait a few months until there is something there too feel! Another woman thought it was ok to shout over the divide between the desks to ask what hospital I had chosen and who my gyno is!!! Not exactly general office conversation. Never-the-less I am over the moon to be pregnant and look forward to many more inappropriate questions and unsolicited gropings.

I’ve been told that the subscription service for the blog is not working. I’ve changed a setting now so hopefully it will be ok, please let me know if you have any problems. I’m not sure if you will have to subscribe again or not, sorry.

Ok, so I’ve been putting this off for a while now but its time to put pen to paper (?) and get blogging. I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but I’ve had a little pep-talk with my very helpful sister-in-law so here goes! Oh and I haven’t figured out how to make it all pretty yet but I’m working on it.

Welcome to the Ravelje Family blog, a way for our friends and family to keep up with the minute-by-minute changes that seem to be happening under our roof (or rather in my body) these days. Granted, they are probably only real for me so far but trust me they’re happening! I’ve been introduced to the joys of early morning/afternoon/evening queasiness &  sudden, uncontrollable hunger – not really a great combination…

Next challenge: letting the boss know that we’re going to have BabyRav – will let you know how that goes soon.

Next milestone: first Obstetrician’s appointment & early ultrasound – 26th November 2009 – can’t wait!!