Sunday, December 27, 2009

Now that Christmas is over...

The next big thing around here, past NYE, is to have a baby.

So - we're going to celebrate everything we can find between now and then! Suggestions?

January 1 - New Year's Day
January 26 - Australia Day
February 1 – Imbolc, a Cross-quarter day (Celebrated on February 2 in some places)
February 14 – Chinese New Year / Valentine's Day
February 16 – Shrove Tuesday
February 17 – Ash Wednesday (first day of Lent)
February 19 - Fringe starts
March 5 - Womadelaide starts
March 8 - Adelaide Cup Day
March 15 - ides of March
March 16 - my 30th
March 17 - St Patrick's Day
March 20 – Vernal Equinox, also known as Ostara
April 1 - wedding anniversary / April Fool's Day
April 4 – Easter

What name shall we choose?

Seeing as we don't know the sex of Puggle, I thought I'd make a note of what sex people are predicting:
  1. Based on nothing at all / gut feeling, from everyone around me: About 75% are saying boy at the moment. (1:0)
  2. If you carry the baby out front (others can’t see your pregnancy from behind) then you will have a boy. If others can tell that you are pregnant when looking at you from behind, then you will have a girl. So a boy. (2:0)
  3. If the mother's age at conception and the year of conception are both even or both odd, the baby is a girl. If one is even and one is odd, the baby is a boy. So a girl. (2:1)
  4. Chinese calendar prediction: girl. (2:2)
  5. What side does the mum-to-be lay on while she's resting? If she lies on her left, it's a boy; on her right, it's a girl. So a boy. (3:2)
  6. According to a meta-old wives tale test, it's a girl. (3:3)
  7. Based on another meta-test: it's a girl. (3:4)
So most people around me are saying "boy" but most of the old wives tales are saying "girl" as is the Chinese calendar.

I'll let you know sometime around Eostre, ok?

It's a puggle.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What do you use vanilla sugar for?

One of the comments left on my blog recently said:
What do you serve vanilla sugar with/use it in? I've never actually heard of it! Sounds yum though!
And I thought - what do I actually use it for? Here are 10 totally random things I use it for:
  1. Sprinkle on top of baked goods instead of plain sugar
  2. Add to a cup of tea when you need some sweetness and comfort
  3. 30g (1T) in any baked good instead of vanilla extract
  4. Add to cocoa powder when making hot cocoa
  5. Add to a coffee or fruit cake to change the flavour
  6. 1tsp in a tomato dish helps to enhance the flavours
  7. Make a vanilla sauce for your next pudding
  8. Add it to stewing fruit instead of plain sugar
  9. Make icing or custard with it
  10. Smell when you need an uplift

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Default shopping

My friend Adele posted this somewhere else and I'm stealing it!

You get to the supermarket, grab a trolley and start walking, only to realise you have no idea what you need. There are two or three things on your list (in my case, the notes function of my phone), but those are all from the last couple of days. Before that, you were too distracted by school/work/Xmas parties to remember to write things down. And your spouse/partner/flatmate has done most of the cooking, so you don't really know what is in the pantry.

It's at times like this I do Default Shopping.

I buy one of each of the things I'm most likely to need - eg pasta sauce, gluten-free and normal pasta, milk, bread, corn kernels, jar of garlic, flavoured tuna. When I get home I compare what I bought to what I needed: sometimes I get it right (eg pasta sauce), sometimes I don't (Ve Hav Vays To Make You Drink Smoothies!).

Anyone else occasionally Default Shop?
I wrote back:
My default would be to grab milk, bread, fruit, pasta, tuna, tinned tomatoes, cream, toilet paper, soda water and kitty food.
which followed on from my post the other day about what's in my pantry. Truth be told I'd rather go shopping with a list or because I need something and rarely turn up to shop just because I am there, but hey I'm sure it happens that I go for one thing and end up with the above list "just in case".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My house actually *does* smell like vanilla!

I made vanilla sugar yesterday as Christmas gifts for friends. It's a tradition among my friends to make food and share it around as a small gesture of love and this year I wanted to make something useful too!

So this year I made Bourbon Vanilla Sugar. It is SO easy it's not funny but is SUCH a lovely gift and so appreciated.

1 vanilla bean
1kg caster sugar
1 food processor or blender
jars to store in
double sided tape and another vanilla bean, if you're feeling adventurous

Put the caster sugar in the blender. Slit open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds/caviar. If you're like me, get vanilla goo on your hands and wipe it unstrategically on yourself so you smell like vanilla for the rest of the day and have random black dots on you. Put the scrapings on top of the sugar. Add the bean in as well.

Blend until you can see that the bean has been cut up finely, and that the little black spots are distributed well throughout the mix.

Seive the sugar to get the big bits of bean out (keep these in a jar for yourself for next time you want to infuse!). Pack into jars and pat down densely. Slice up the other bean into however many jars you have, and use double sided tape to stick a piece on the inside of the jar lid.


It gets better with time and age - 6 months or more is best, if stored in a cool dark place. But who can resist?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reflections on the exam of doom

I only sat one exam this year as the other one I "took ill" in - I ran out of the exam to throw up and spent 3 days feeling very ill afterwards. This was for the subject that I've had to repeat because of my motor vehicle accident in 2007, and so it's effectively taken me 3 tries to sit.

Anyway, there were 13 questions. Of those, I barely had time to write (and certainly not neatly) everything that I wanted to, so chased the marks that were there and moved on.

But there were several questions that reminded me of why care providers are often lambasted as "scare providers". There were a couple of questions about:

- breech presentation
- being "over due"
- induction
- posterior babies

and usually the question was structured around "what is the definition of this / types of this" and then "what are the care options".

Now these questions are really important to ask and discuss and to know your stuff. But - they also put the frame around looking at these problems from a really frightened, defensive point of view.

Let's take breech for eg. The options for care and birth in my opinion are:
- do what you want/can to turn babe (moxibustion, acupuncture, rebozo, visualisation, chiropractic work, external cephalic version)
- find an attendant who is confident with attending you and embrace your breech babe

and if you can't:
- book a c-section for when you go into labour (contradiction in terms of course)

But if you're anywhere near a hospital for care for your pregnancy, the options would be:
- see an obstetrician
- have multiple scans
- have your otherwise lovely normal pregnancy pathologised
- book a c-section for immediate action before you go into labour
- panic, stress and worry

So you can see what my choice was for answering this question in the exam - chase the marks or being a hippy wingnut who isn't afraid of something not strictly in the "norm". And also you can see that student midwives are indoctrinated from such an early stage to be afraid of breech birth. And OP babies. And "post dates" which is so irritating as on one hand we're told that pregnancy goes to 42 complete weeks before being "overdue" and yet we as midwives are taught to get hysterical and Take Action at 40 weeks.

Go read The Lie of the EDD: Why Your Due Date Isn't when You Think to see more.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 things I have to have in my pantry

  1. Tinned tuna - must have for making a quick pasta or rice dish, a salad, or lunch.
  2. Frozen vegetables - peas, corn and beans, as well as celery bits.
  3. Herbs and spice in small jars so that turnover is rapid.
  4. Plain flour and SR flour. Small purchases made (2 bags of 1kg eah) at a time to stay fresh.
  5. Eggs (always a half dozen at least), milk (UHT), cream (UHT) and butter.
  6. Butter - did I mention that? A couple of 250g blocks as well as a few wrappers from old blocks so I can grease pans.
  7. Vanilla extract.
  8. A surprisingl number of different types of sugar - brown, white, raw, caster, vanilla.
  9. Pasta and rice and cous cous and polenta.
  10. Cheese - grated in the freezer, block in the fridge. Cheddar, mozzerella, parmasen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

10 Craft things that I have on my brain

Yep there are 10 projects that I want to get through before Puggles arrives. Which is in less than 100 days. So plenty of time!

Some of these need me to be using power tools which makes me really happy to!
  1. Decorate gumnuts to be silver bells for Midsummer
  2. Make a 4 seasons tree
  3. Replace the glass in 3 frames - broken by moi, and by the cat, and by the heat dropping one off the wall
  4. Hang all framed pictures on wall hooks!
  5. Make a cotton reel board
  6. Make wall buttons and decorate the bedroom wall
  7. Make 2x baby quilts
  8. Finish Puggle's Duck Soup jacket
  9. Decorate the bed head
  10. Put the decals on the kitchen table

joyous blogger

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What I want to recycle next

I have a tshirt and 4 placemats that I need to do something with. Suggestions? I also have a lot of mdf and ply wood etc to play with.

I warn you - I have a staple gun, and a hot glue gun, and a sewing machine, and I'm not afraid to use them.

I'm going to use the placemats in something, and I have a heap of cork rounds that I want to decorate for the walls that are blank, cream, dull and ENDLESS in this house.

I also have wall plugs so I can hang some of the heavier items. Three have had the glass in them broken after falling off the wall, so I need to replace that glass as well. I used one frame for my FIL's 60th birthday gift:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10 things on my mind

  1. December is such a crazy-busy time of year that I sometimes forget to do important things, like pander my feet. That's my plan for today!
  2. The back fence to our property faces our back neighbour, who recently built a new pair of houses to mirror the pair of houses that ours is part of. The fence is half down and lying in their yard. We are a naked house. And that means my pregnant belly is in full view of their house and I. do. not. CARE. Fix the damn fence or negotiate with the owner of ours to replace it with something of decent height.
  3. When did I get all grown up? Just this last weekend I took my pregnant belly out and went house hunting with Kate and it was weird to be doing all this Adult stuff.
  4. But it has got me thinking about buying a house with the settlement that I'll get from the accident on 2007. A little house all of our own? That'd be amazing. I've never really thought about owning a house but now it's on my mind.
  5. I have one more woman due to birth this year and then I'm done for 2009. Which is sad. I have none lined up for 2010 which is scary.
  6. Less than 100 days to go til I'm a mother and really that means nothing to me because what the heck is 100 days? 3 months, 12 weeks, etc etc, are much easier to comprehend.
  7. I have painted toe nails and am happy. Despite being 6 months pregnant, it's not that hard to sit on the ground and paint them, or shave my legs. Which I do approximately quarterly ;).
  8. I am starting to feel "nesty" and that's amusing! I have gardened this week, and cleaned up Puggle's room, and started some Christmas stuff as well.
  9. What I haven't done recently is knit. Which is surprising given that I was not that long ago OBSESSED with it. I think I need to start knitting some baby things.
  10. I have conquered my ipod - I've managed to rename it, convince its calendars to synch with Google calendar *and* Facebook, get my old music off my old ipod and give it on to TheHusband, and upload music to it with gay abandon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What giftmas means around here...

Christmas is one of those things that we don't really get in to around Chateau Archer - mostly because it's so commercial and because we are not Christian so it's strange to celebrate a festival such as that.

However, we are both Aussies and it is such a core part of our culture that it's hard not to enjoy bits of it and to be caught up in it. For example, I love singing carols because I'm a soprano, and I love the descants, and it's fun. But some of the words are annoying, and some of the themes/stories go against my grain, but in the end it's part of my culture still.

So we kind of have a hybrid celebration of the end of the year. We do gifts, but it is minimal and not hugely over the top, and limited to close family and friends. Not-so-close family and friends get a card, or something small and foodie. This year I'm planning on making vanilla sugar, and some gingerbread people, and maybe more lemon butter if I can get my hands on lots of jars.

I also like to craft for Christmas - this year I'm planning on making modern paper ornaments from Design Sponge, and decorating some pine cones for wall art, and scenting some for a centrepiece. I also want to make a wreath, and put it on our door. I don't want snow-themed goodies, or snowflakes etc as it doesn't snow here, and it is hot during summer so it's not true to form - but I do want some colour and theme around here! Maybe something like a puzzle piece wreath, or else a pine cone one, or a ribbon one?

We actually celebrate the summer solstice more than Christmas anyway. The solstice is also someone's birthday this year, and the day after the Carols by Candlelight that I'm arranging people to attend because it's fun. It's about the longest day of the year and the turning of the seasons and the celebrations that should surround that. It's about eating food that is in season (oh cherries, how I love thee!) and being with people who've made the year what it was.

Part of thinking about this is because next Christmas, we'll have a Puggle to bring into this. We are leaning towards a toy-free giftmas approach, and a focus on what we are celebrating rather than what others are celebrating. It's also about family and friends and what makes us part of a community.

Traditionally for us, we go to the Adelaide Rowing Club on Christmas morning and carol to raise money for our choir. Then we go home, pop a roast in the crock pot, veges in another, and then relax on the couch with "Love, Actually". Then we open the house from about 2pm for any waifs, visitors, travellers, Christmas orphans or those that are between functions (after lunch and before dinner). That carries on into the night when we fire up the bbq and have a progressive dinner, and my sister provides dessert, and we celebrate the end of the year together. Then we'll pack the dishwasher and go to bed.

This year we are doing that but are going to the SIL's place for lunch. Which is fine but by that stage I'll be 30 weeks pregnant and will not be up for cooking, cleaning, dish washing, child wrangling or other activities, especially if it is Hot. I will try to be cheery when spending time with extended family that annoy me, and I will try to enjoy being pregnant through summer.

Oh and lastly - I always buy myself a Christmas present. I pick something I really want, and I buy it and enjoy it. This year I am buying myself some Birkis because I am starting to struggle to do my shoes up, and they are SO damn cute that I will be very happy with them:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pregnancy and birth plan - what with 100 days to go!

In roughly 100 days I will have a baby, and I'll be a mother, and life will be different. I am enjoying this phase of pregnancy - I am round and gorgeous without being ungainly and uncomfortable, I am glowing without being exhausted all the time, and

So some plans for pregnancy and birthing:
  • I will have one or two midwives throughout my pregnancy, birth and postnatal period - I would love to work with a midwife that I know and have a recently started midwife in independent practice "apprentice" to her for my pregnancy
  • I will not have any screening tests as I know my blood group, and we do not want unnecessary ultrasounds
  • I will labour at home
  • I will birth at home
  • I will spend a lot of time in water
  • I will use hot water, massage, dance, noise, pressure, for pain relief
  • I will eat and drink as I labour, as I want
  • I will listen to music and have already had thoughts about music to listen to (suggestions welcome!)
  • I don't want people to talk to me - entertain yourselves!
  • I will have Osk there with me
  • He will catch the babe and announce the sex
  • I want to have the process videod
  • I will breastfeed
  • I will have a "lying in" for a month afterwards - a milky, cuddly babymoon
  • Osk will take paternity leave
  • We won't buy a pram but instead will use a sling and mei tai
  • We will co-sleep
  • We will not immunise immediately but will consider each
Yep a fairly definitive and bolshi list but hey - it's not a contact sport, it's not a spectator sport, and it's really important to me.