Monday, March 16, 2015

the 5th!

Yesterday we got back from my baby brother's epic wedding weekend, and I've so many images and thoughts swirling around my head, so much after-glowy happiness - it was magical.
I'm still sorting through photos, and not yet ready to find all the right words and besides, some other things have been happening recently too.

Stella turned 5!

Early on she declared she was going to decorate her own cake - a startlingly moment for me, who has always maintained full creative control over birthday cakes!
But we deferred to her bidding, as always, and presented her with a yellow iced rectangle to do with as she pleased.
The favourite plastic animals were assembled, I was asked to cut some green grass for the front and sides, and her big sister was allowed to place the birthday candles.

But obviously her father and I couldn't leave it entirely without surprise ...

Leopard print cake!

She's got a thing about big cats this girl. And we've got a thing about birthday parties - they're good for us.

Happy birthday Little Star.

Friday, March 06, 2015

free gift

A few weeks back I noticed on Facebook that a friend of a friend was appealing to her friends to enter a competition she was running on her blog's Facebook page. (Facebook is weird).

The writer was concerned that she wasn't getting enough entries. The prize was a cookbook.

So naturally I entered.
And I won!

Aptly titled hey?

For the Love of Baking arrived on our grey Wednesday and so naturally ... I had to bake something.

This was going to be Frieda's choice, a Blueberry and Mascarpone Sponge Cake (pg 83), until I pointed out to her that she doesn't actually like blueberries in things ... so we combined a couple of recipes from the book (the gudda gudda gudda of the beaters in the bowl echoing the helicopters passing overhead) and made a Victoria Sponge, in a bundt (I finally got a bundt!), and topped it with whipped cream and a Blueberry Coulis (which I made following instructions from the book of course).

It was divine.

Anyhoo, this morning I spotted the author, Sarah, in the supermarket. She was chatting to a friend who had a teeny-weeny baby strapped to her chest.
I drifted closer, pretending to examine lettuce, to ascertain that this was indeed Sarah - I only knew her from photos on her website - and couldn't help but overhear the conversation.
Sarah's mate was describing, in utter minutia, her nights with a newborn ('And then she feeds at around 2, and has to be burped for a while, and settled, and then if I'm lucky I get about two and half hours .... yada yada yada') and Sarah's eyes were getting as glazed as her Doughnut Cake (pg 150).

I had to save the poor girl.

'Excuse me, I hope this isn't too stalker-ish but I just wanted to tell you I recently won a copy of your lovely book and I've been baking from it already! Well done, it's lovely.'

Sorry girl with baby, it's only once you've been an obsessed new mother yourself that you realise how tedious you are to anyone who isn't there yet, and I also know how painful it can be to have a non-mothers professional successes cast in your over-tired face, but Sarah needed that, and considering the hours of joy she has and will provide for me - I had to return the favour.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

ash wednesday

We woke this morning to the Great Greyness. A world of smoke and ash, bad smells and scratchy eyeballs.
Schools were closed due to excessive smoke or fire risk, Stella had a temperature, we were all tired.

It was an apt choice of reading material Stella pulled from the bookcase, my ancient childhood copy of The Great Blueness.
And reading it inspired us to try a colour 'speriment I've had bookmarked for a while.

Drops of food colouring in a bowl of milk, add a couple of drips of washing up liquid and watch the colours swirl.

Later the smoke cleared and Frieda and I took the dogs for a much needed walk. The air was fresh, the clouds over the mountain mixing with the last wisps of smoke.
The world felt quiet and new.

4 days of fire

From Sunday afternoon, until tonight. 3000 ha of mountain, forest, national park and private land. Houses, infrastructure, habitats.

We've had front row seats, protected by our lake and as always awestruck by the extent of our view. I've seen so much flame - fields of flame, walls of flame, literally flame tornadoes, tsunamis of embers and flames in every colour imaginable.
We've heard the crackle while lying in bed, smelt the smoke and tasted the ash. We've had 3 broken nights of sleep as we feel the flickering reflections on our closed lids, and frequently wake to squint out the windows and marvel at the extent of it - growing and changing before our eyes, consuming the entire expense of the mountain range we're privileged to enjoy every day.
We've had helicopters fetching water from the lake in front of us and water-bomb planes droning overhead to and from their filling stations to the fire. We've had sirens all hours of the night and day.

But we've not had to evacuate. We've not lost a thing except some sleep and productivity (from watching and watching and watching). We've not been out there fighting this beast, we've not been inconvenienced much at all (some days off school for the girls, some worse-than-usual traffic). We've been very lucky.

It's been a wild few days.