Monday, October 31, 2011

Waxing the cheese

I couldn't wait, I had to do it tonight!

My first hard cheese, getting waxed. Waxing was actually a lot trickier than I thought it would be. There are two ways you can preserve your hard cheese, EVA (a thin coat of liquid plastic that you paint on the cheese) or waxing.

The wax that came with my kit is in a steel container. You create a double boiler arrangement then dip the cheese into the wax. I found it fiddly; inexplicably there is only one handle on the container. It is hard to remove from the boiler arrangement. The other tricky thing is that the wax bowl is not deep enough for cheeses made with the large mould that comes with the new Mad Millie cheese press.

As you can see, once I'd dipped each side there was still a lot needing cover. I tried dipping using a metal spoon, but the wax come off where the spoon held. I very gingerly held the edges and dipped it; the cheese fell in the wax.  This melted previous layers while I fished it out.  I'm not sure what else to do to make this work better, I'll be checking out you tube clips for some inspiration and techniques to get a nice smooth finish!  The best thing about the wax container is that it comes with a lid, so once it has cooled down you can store it for next time.

My suggestions if using the Mad Millie kits:
1) find a deeper container to hold the wax
2) place a trivet on the bottom saucepan of your double boiler.  This can stop the wax container moving around
3) wipe the cheese with salt water before waxing and air dry well. You don't want any moisture between the cheese and wax
4) Have another person nearby - an extra set of hands can be useful
5) Make sure the wax is fully melted before dipping (stir with a disposable stick).  I was impatient and only the surface had melted on my first couple of tries!
6) Lay down towels or some kind of protection for the stovetop against wax drips!

This all sounds like I was unhappy with the kit.  However, I was so, so pleased with myself.  I've wanted to wax a hard cheese for the longest time, and even though there was wax everywhere once finished I was very, very happy!  If you get the opportunity to make a hard cheese, you should complete the process and wax the cheese!

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Not generally keen on celebrating Halloween myself.  I still see it as a British and American celebration with little relevance for most New Zealanders.  I'm also very sceptical of the increase in Halloween activities in New Zealand - as many of them seem to me to be an excuse to create a market where one is not required. 

It took quite a lot of explaining to the Sweetheart that our family doesn't celebrate Halloween, but that other families do.  Actually, it was kind of a neat opportunity to talk about the things that make our family unique.  The Sweetheart was invited to her first Halloween party - and this provided a further learning opportunity: that some families do celebrate Halloween, and that you can share in their celebrations. 

If you know my daughter personally you will not be surprised to learn that she is a Halloween fairy.  Her costume includes fairy wings and a witch hat from the $2 shop.  She screamed 'Happy Halloween' at the top of her lungs this morning and asked where the jack 'o' lantern was. 

The Halloween party we are going to is a pot luck BBQ.  I've marinated some chicken nibbles to take along, but couldn't resist making something a wee bit more 'celebratory.'  These are chocolate 'toffee' apples rolled in orange sprinkles.  Turns out if you pay enough for dark chocolate, you can find dairy and soy free dark chocolate! We will be having fairy versions of these at the Sweetheart's birthday party next week.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Craft 2.0

Today Craft 2.0 is on. I dragged the girls down to have a look and was instantly charmed. Money was spent (too much) and my head was left full of ideas.

Go there. Take cash or buy 'craft cash' for use on the day. It is on today only.

Reasons I like smaller craft fairs like this?  They celebrate diversity (and I don't just mean ethnicity, but rather the right to wear a panda hat with steampunk jewellery) and they are filled with Mums, many of whom have started a new career in crafting after having children.  I love the ideas and fabric.  I love that the crafters use the fabric made by local fabric designers.  I got to meet some of my favourite designers, Dustys&Lulu, creators of awesome print designs and Sweet William, who have designed their own children's colouring book (full of awesome designs rather than the typical animal pictures).  I also got to catch up with Heleen from Ruby in the Dust.  I did her pillowcase transformation workshop last year - and have since gone a little pillowcase mad!  I have a stack of pillowcases from the op shop waiting to be transformed into aprons, dresses, bags and pants.  I also encountered a neighbour who produces the most amazing steampunk jewellery.

An awesome morning, would have been a little more awesome if it didn't involve dragging a protesting four year old behind me!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It is coming....

The big day approaches.  In two months my four year old will be a new entrant at the local primary school.  It absolutely blows my mind the idea that I could have a five year old.  At school, even.  I'm going to be crying all over the place - starting school comes after leaving creche - The Sweetheart's home away from home these last two years.   Well, I'm getting weepy thinking about leaving creche so I'll save that for another post and get on with the party planning!

Kid's birthday parties today seem very different from parties when I was young.  The food given is I think, healthier than it used to be and there are a lot more food allergies to cater for.  When trying to think of friends with food allergies from my childhood I cannot think of a single one - the only special food arrangement was for my friend's diabetes.

This party has a theme of fairy princess (original, I know) and food requirements of interesting, party-like, dairy, nut, soy, meat and egg free.  When faced with a different list of allergies last year I completely freaked out about what to make (as you can no doubt tell, I'm a baker - everything has flour, egg and dairy) until calmer friends pointed out all the obvious food choices.  I'm ashamed to say I was almost annoyed with the need to avoid certain foods as I really felt as though I was cheated out of making the things I really wanted to have.  But the party isn't about me, it is about my daughter.  I want her to be a good host, that means that I need to be one too.  Now I see it as an opportunity for food creativity and fun.  I doubt the kid's even notice that the food omits certain items - particularly as long as there is at least a lollipop involved!!

Best low-allergy birthday party food ideas (check packaging very, very carefully)

  • Rice crackers
  • Plain potato chips (flavoured ones tend to have milk powder)
  • Plain popcorn and candy corn (icing sugar and food colouring)
  • Lollipops
  • Marshmallows *some brands still contain gluten
  • Corn chips
  • Bagel chips
  • Fruit kebabs
  • Salsa
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Some sausages (bit tricky to find those without soy or dairy) or use ham
  • Berries
If you have a birthday cake there are a lot of really delicious gluten free recipes (although my fav gluten free recipes tend to contain nuts) and baking without egg just requires a little science - use egg replacement or applesauce instead.  Egg replacement powder is actually a brilliant thing to have in your cupboard for when you have run out of eggs.  I've had good results with it and a pack of 50 'eggs' costs about $7.

I think if you have a child with an anaphylactic allergy then it is just good manners to avoid any of that food item (particularly with younger children who tend to take whatever food they can get/ smear food all over the place) at the party.  For food intolerance, or older children better able to manage food then it is quite common to have allergy free foods for the children and perhaps an 'adults' food table with some other foods.

For one birthday party a Mum brought along a piece of egg/gluten/dairy/soy free cake that I quickly decorated to look identical; this upcoming party we are having an ice cream cake with a rice milk ice cream option. 

It is complicated, but it can be quite invigorating working out a nice, safe menu - for me a different kind of food challenge.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cheddar cheese

I couldn't resist and had to try out my new Mad Millie Hard Chess Press over the long weekend.  I decided to try the cheddar recipe.  It felt very satisfying - very proper cheesemaking.  My only problem with the instructions given for the recipe were that there are very few explanations for why you had to follow certain processes.  For example, once at the curd stage you have to heat the water slowly over thirty minutes to reach a certain temperature.  I would have found it useful to learn that the reason you do it slowly is that if you do it too quickly you can overheat the curds.  I did, but I think it was OK.  I'll see in a couple of months!

Unlike soft cheeses you really need to be at home most of a day, or at least all afternoon and evening to make this as there are lots of little steps that need to happen every 45mins or so.

 It takes four litres of silver top to make a cheese about the size of a small bread plate.  I can't work out why it is cheaper to buy four small bottles than two large ones.  But so far I've learnt that it always saves twenty cents.  I am though running out of things to do with the plastic containers!
 Draining the curds.
 The curds after being crumbled up and salted.
The cheese press in action.  It took a little while to work it out (the instructions seem to be designed for someone who is familiar with cheese presses - I needed more of an idiot's guide)!  There is an internal scale to let you know how much pressure you are placing on the cheese.  Once I worked it out it was straightforward and rather fun.  The press did sometimes 'unwind' a touch and had to be readjusted to the correct pressure.  I can't work out if this is a common problem, a problem specific to this brand of press or this particular one.  I still had an awesome time using it.  My four year old also thought it was fun turning the mechanism to the correct pressure.
The cheese once pressing was finished the following morning.  As I type it is two days later and I am waiting for the natural rind to develop before I can wax it.  I am so, so looking forward to waxing it and then storing it in the cheese cellar (garage) for a couple of months!

Planned food experiment: creating my own yeast and baking with it.

I really enjoyed baking with the fresh yeast and wondered about making my own.  I've found a site where you can make your own yeast water and it follows with a basic bread recipe using the yeast water.  I'm going to start the yeast water tonight.

A friend and I were discussing how the pioneers to New Zealand made yeast in bottles.  It is outlined in the book 'No One Went to Town' by Phylis Johnston.  It is a true account of pioneer life in rural Taranaki. I was so excited when my friend mentioned this - it was a book that I had as a child and I have been searching for it for ages.  I couldn't remember the title or author though!  It has become a semi-rare book.  It hasn't been printed since the 1980's so there are only second hand copies floating around.  I've managed to get hold of the sequel and am keeping an eye on Trade Me for the first one.

Sam Pope's No-Knead Rustic Rolls with cheese fondue/ fonduta

I keep purchasing fresh yeast from Pak'n'Save and then forgetting to use it before the expiry date (I've since learnt that you can freeze it).  I mentioned to Giffy that I had some fresh yeast and she kindly sent me a recipe from a cooking class she attended.

It was fun to make.  I like using my breadmaker but making an old fashioned loaf where you first activate the yeast then add it to the flour once activated is kind of satisfying.  This recipe makes a really nice loaf of bread or bread rolls.  I made it twice as the first loaf was kind of salty and I really wanted to proceed to the fonduta part of the recipe.  This is a great entertaining recipe - it is perfect for nibbles prior to a meal or as a hearty snack (I'd intended to make it for the World Cup final the other night).  I also think that it is a good first bread recipe for children as they can watch the science behind the yeast/ rising process.  It also doesn't require any more energetic kneading than a stir with a spoon.  The result?  Delicious yeasty smelling (but not too yeasty tasting) bread that is light and soft with a firm shell.

Giffy - if you are free this week I have enough cheese left to make one more generous serve of fonduta!

Sam Pope's No-Knead Rustic Rolls

50g fresh yeast (you can ask bakers/ supermarket bakeries for some).  It is a greyish block.  Crumble well.
1TBSP honey - I used clear honey (made locally by our nearby Iraqi kebab shop owner)
1/3cup warm water
500g Tipo OO flour (can purchase from Italian/ Mediterranean shops - otherwise use High Grade)
2TBSP Maldon Salt (flaky salt).  I found this too salty, I used 1.5 teaspoons in my second batch.
500ml milk (two cups)

Mix the fresh yeast, honey and warm water together in a small bowl and put in a warm place until frothy.

  • (You can omit the next step if you want - I tried it both ways and prefer to omit). Set aside about a cup of the flour.  Put the remaining flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the frothed yeast mixture and enough milk to make a wet mix (muffin mix consistency).  Combine with a wooden spoon, taking care not to overwork the mixture.
  • Sprinkle the reserved flour over the top of the mixture
  • Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in size.
  • Spoon (the mixture will be wet) onto a well floured baking sheet or pizza stone and bake for 10-15 min (if making rolls) or 20-25 mins at 200C (if making one loaf) until brown.
I found that the mixture did not rise much when baked, but was still airy.


50g Provolone Dolce or Picante
50g Tallegia  (I got both cheeses from the Mediterranean Food Warehouse)
15ml shot of Grappa (or wine or beer).  I used white wine
Chives, finely chopped (optional - I had none)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional but I used about 2 TBSP)

Grate the provolone (I just chopped it) and cube the tallegio.  Put into an earthenware tapas dish/ large ramekin and pour over the alcohol.  Bake at 200C until melted and bubbling (about ten minutes).  Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the chives.

I made a double batch for three adults as a pre-dinner snack.  It was sooo good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New favourite shop for birthday party and craft supplies

When I was at 'Handmade' last year I overheard a snippet of advice.  Apparently, in Auckland, shops ending in 'emporium/ imporium' were great places to get craft supplies.  I wasn't aware of any in Wellington, but did note with interest a place called 'Pete's Emporium' in Porirua a couple of months ago.  Yesterday we had only the baby at home so we ducked out to explore the shop and to take in Dressmart as well.

I could spend an hour in this store.  There was a huge fabric area, with hundreds of buttons (more than Spotlight), rows of trim and all kinds of sewing accessories.  There was a huge aisle of birthday party supplies/ stocking fillers and the biggest collection of wigs that I have ever seen.  They must stock 100 different styles of wig.  It was like a much more interesting version of a $2 shop.  They had some fairly decent toys and I got a couple of small things to put in the activity bags I'm assembling for school holiday entertainment.  They had a huge selection of costumes and Halloween accessories.

The store is located near Countdown in Porirua.  It is massive and kind of hard to miss.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Christmas craft project; ideas for gifts

This year I'm doing some of these as gifts and for the tree:

I've been saving some ideas to my Pinterest page as well.

In previous years I've done:
  • Preserved lemons
  • Homemade vanilla essence and homemade cinammon & five spice essence
  • Gift baskets
  • Grapefruit cordial
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Limoncello (very easy)
I'd love to see other people's links to their favourite Christmas craft sites/ present idea sites!!!

Edited 1/11/11 to add Limoncello.

Grosgrain: Handmade Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Grosgrain: Handmade Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Grosgrain is one of my favourite sites in my blog reader. It is all gorgeous and lovely and full of things I will resolve to make and never will. At the moment they are taking submissions for Christmas craft ideas. There are over 100 listed - some quite complex; others quite simple. It is well worth checking out!

Also, a great scrap project for making Christmas cards

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Pie and Tuesday playgroup

My friend made an orange cake for our regular Tuesday afternoon kids and parents playgroup.  She was unhappy with the recipe for a few reasons, but the colour of it was exactly the shade that I imagined pumpkin pie to be.  I've only had pumpkin pie once; years ago my mother made it as kind of an in joke, as only herself and I liked pumpkin.  The dessert was very popular, a little less so once the key ingredient was revealed!!

I used a recipe from here:  Pumpkin Pie

It was quite difficult to find a recipe that used actual pumpkin.  The majority use canned (tinned) pumpkin.  Clearly it is an available ingredient in the USA - here the closest thing might be tinned baby food.  There is also a particular variety of pumpkin grown for pie-making purposes; I've not seen it here.  The recipe suggests using buttercup pumpkin as an alternative.  I decided to use bog standard pumpkin as I really wanted an autumn-coloured pie!

Because the inspiration for the pie came from my playgroup it seemed best to try it out on them!  We regularly meet with a group of friends each Tuesday.  Sometimes it is at an indoor playground, other times we swap around houses.  Everyone descends, chaos reigns.  The children play with only a minor need for parental intervention and the parents catch up with each other.  We are already on to the second generation of the playgroup with a bunch of one year olds (the Poppet's friends) and the third generation is in production!

The pie was popular.  It is a bit of a treat for playgroup.  Everyone brings something if they can, but if you are having a bad/busy day then no one particularly minds if you come with something.  People were curious and the adults mostly all had a taste;  the children mostly declined!  Afterwards when I was stacking the dishwasher I had to smile:  the top of the dishwasher was full of coffee cups and brightly coloured children's cups.  The cutlery holder was full of cake forks and about half of the bottom layer was small serving plates.  It was a fun afternoon and left me feeling both restored and shattered!

Comments on the recipe:

  • I used sweet shortcrust pastry instead of making my own.
  • The recipe makes simply an enormous quantity.  I suggest halving it as I ended up with two pies.
  • I was worried that it was over spiced.  My tasting buddies were mixed on the spice and I don't know if I would change the quantities next time. The first bite tastes full of spice - more than you would expect.  After that you know what is coming and it tastes as expected.

Raindrops on roses: mushrooms and cheese press

I finally got a chess press - it is technically my sixth wedding anniversary gift. I think production can begin on my first hard cheese this weekend! I'm so excited!

My mushroom bucket is doing well; I'm informed that the mushrooms grow in 'flushes' (waves).    I swear that they grow so fast that sometimes they seem to double in size over the course of an afternoon.

 My husband had his birthday in October.  I trawled through Lovely Wee Days for a fun recipe to try. I decided to try the Ladysmith cake, based on the description that it was somewhat like the cake version of Belgian Biscuits.  It was.  My daughter was responsible for the jam, so we did not have a beautifully smooth layer of jam but rather jam that was smooshed throughout over and, in some cases, through the cake.  We also used twice as much (you try arguing with a four year old as to the amount of required jam).  We didn't put walnuts on the top, and made strawberry icing for the top.  It was delicious.  The jam had kind of caramelised around the edges and gave a nice chewy texture on the edges.  Quite a success, and I think that I would make this cake again.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The only pavlova recipe that works every time.

Years ago my husband and I went through a furious pavlova production phase.  We tried all different methods of cooking pavlova (based on no particular evidence, just feeling sure that we would hit upon the perfect pav sooner or later).  Pav after pav cracked with only a tiny bit of meringue in the middle.  Years later I hit upon a recipe that combined ingredients and method perfectly.  I've spent the last ten minutes trying to find the owner online to no avail.  This comes from my personal recipe book: a battered blue hardcover 2B5!

The only pavlova recipe that works every time

3 egg whites (at room temperature - place in a bowl of warm water for ten minutes otherwise)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps cornflour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp malt or white vinegar (I've use balsamic in a pinch)!

Preheat oven to 120C.    Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Place the egg whites into a large, very clean (you can rub half a lemon over the surface to ensure it is oil free) china, metal or glass bowl (NOT PLASTIC - the egg whites will not get as stiff).  Beat until the egg whites are thick and stiff.  Gradually, one teaspoon at a time, add the caster sugar and beat well after each addition.  The mixture slowly gets glossy, thick and shiny.  Don't rush adding the sugar - it should take about ten minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour.  Spoon the mixture on to the tray and spread out in a circle about the size of a bread plate (18cm) - then heap on top.  If you try to smooth it to have a perfectly flat top you will end up with cracks so I don't bother.  Bake for ninety minutes (don't open the oven door at all during this time) until the pavlova is crisp and dry and easily lifts off the paper.  Cool completely on a wire cake rack before covering with cream and fruit.

My favourite variation: Orange Saffron Pavlova

I saw this on Food TV once years ago and wrote it down later after the deliciousness of the ingredients wouldn't leave my head alone!  Again, it is uncredited I'm afraid.  Searching by the ingredients has failed to find the cook.

Use white vinegar for the recipe and prior to use heat gently.  Add 1/2 tsp saffron fronds and allow to infuse (try to do this for a good hour or two).  Then use the infused vinegar and fronds in the pavlova at the normal point in the recipe. This gives a slight golden colour to the final pav, with a few saffron fronds mixed through.  To decorate use half a teaspoon of cardamon seeds and 1/2 tsp of saffron fronds mixed through whipped cream and then put segmented or sliced oranges on top with  a couple of cardamon pods as decoration.

Monday, October 10, 2011

French cooking failures

I really do like to try cooking new things; this does not mean that we sit down to gourmet meals each night.  It is generally 'family friendly fare' to suit the tastes of the whole family.  Most often it is some kind of stir fry (like tonight - chicken kebabs, stir fried veges and rice).  Every now and then though I fall for the advertising in the glossy mags and try to come up with some kind of effortlessly glamorous meal.  Last week was French food.

It started with a new cookbook at the library - a Women's Weekly French Food cookbook.  Everything looked pretty good, and I've never had a problem with a Women's Weekly recipe before.   I decided on pate and rillette.  The supermarket had no chicken livers so it was pork belly rillette by default.  Pork belly, wine, and herbs were simmered slowly for a long time (I used a slow cooker).  Red onion and Italian parsley were finally diced and added at the end.  The pork belly was finely shredded and the mixture (including all the fatty liquid in the slow cooker) is mixed together and spread on fresh bread or toast and traditionally served with gherkin. It was disgusting.  I love pork belly, and so does my husband.  I think he called it horrible.  We served it up to some friends over for a Rugby World Cup viewing session.  Two declined to comment, one friend described it as tasting like cat food "but I like cat food" she said as she had another, and final taste.

It even looks beautiful, packaged in a glass preserving jar.   I can't bring myself to throw it out.  But out it is going.  I haven't achieved a glamorous dinner, but I'll just revel in the knowledge that the house is actually tidied (and I got as far as dusting/polishing).  I record this information because as soon as the girls get up in the morning it will be back to normal!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blossoms and bad days

What a difference 24 hours can make. The Sweetheart has a broken collarbone and so hasn't been able to attend creche this past week. The Poppet has missed having one on one attention and is a bit confused as to why her playmate hasn't been as fun. She has dealt with this by becoming a little cling on.

It has rained all week and between one daughter who has trouble sleeping due to pain and another who is still erratic in her sleep it has been a long week.

It culminated in a horrid day where the baby didn't sleep and the injured big sister slept too long and at the wrong time. It was nine pm when they were finally in bed and quiet. By this stage I was a frazzled mess. I went for a late night walk and then went to bed. The next day the sun came out, we spent the whole day out and about and tempers were restored. We went to pick up my husband and spent ten minutes playing under this tree at his work. It was delightful and just a complete turn around from the previous day. I always love days where we can all get to the end of it and be happy and relaxed.

Picking up the blossoms on the grass to take home.

It looked like a movie

Waiting for blossom to fall

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chocolate bread

On our recent holiday we stopped off in Foxton to find somewhere to eat. It was about 7:30pm and everything was shutting. We went to the supermarket and I breast-fed in the carpark while my husband and the Sweetheart went into the store. They came back with a few things, the most notable of which was chocolate bread. The sweet bread was coated in chocolate. Alas, it was gone too soon.

We decide to make our own. It isn't rocket science. We used a sweet bread mix (from Bin Inn), prepared it and when it came time for shaping my daughter and I plaited the bread and put chunks of dark chocolate throughout. Yum.  An ordinary bread became a very special treat.

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Monday, October 3, 2011


There are two grief days that I set aside each year for formal grieving.  These are the day that Joanna died, and the day that she was due. 

This year has been the first official date to pass without tears, and without the horrible nervous butterflies in my stomach.  It was actually a really nice family day, with little time to dwell.  I'm glad that the day was nice, and I guess that I realised that a time would come when the grief would not be as acute.  Like most things to do with grief I wasn't quite expecting that it would be now.  That being said, it was Joanna's due date.  Her birth/death date is much more complex:  high emotion, terrible illness and the isolation of the experience.  I was alone.

Last Friday I had to return to the location of Joanna's birth/death: the Emergency Department.  I was too distracted on this trip by my very sore daughter to dwell on the location.  I was very annoyed with the triage process - it took an hour just to get triaged in some new 'efficient' process.  It may be more efficient, but I suspect that the triage nurse just has a higher workload than before - she was run off her feet.  I was really annoyed with the delay for triage and sent a rude text about it to my husband as part of my updates.  It wasn't until I saw the triage nurse's name while we were waiting for the X-Ray that I realised it was the same nurse that had looked after me that horrid evening Joanna was born.

I'd sent a card at the time, but resolved to thank her in person if I saw her during our stay.  She popped by and I went to thank her.  She remembered the night, and the room that I was in straight away - and the tears started - for both of us.  Grief can feel like a solitary experience sometimes, it hadn't explicitly occurred to me how much impact that night could have had on the staff who cared for us.  I had exceptional care that night, particularly after the hemorrhage when I was very ill and a number of doctors and nurses appeared instantly and almost with being requested to assist with the birth and getting a lot of fluid/ gel into me.  I remember being really sad when my ED nurse handed me over - but then welcomed as I was transferred to the ward on the service I worked in daily.  I had the best of nursing care - both the caring aspect, as well as the technical.

Of course, when you have sick children you don't have a lot of time for grieving over your lost ones: I wiped away the tears and turned back to my daughter.  Although in a fair bit of pain she could see that I was upset.  I explained that the nurse took care of me one time when I was really sick, and remembering that sickness made me sad.  My daughter gave me one of her bravery stickers she had received from her X-Ray.  She is awesome.  And just like that, another unexpected grieving moment passed.  Always just sitting under the surface, quick to rise.  But this time the knowledge that Joanna's very short life had a great impact on those providing us with care has provided a kind of comfort. So few people know of Joanna, or her few moments of life.  Knowing her birth left an impact feels like her wee footprint on Earth is a little bigger.

Home days and bento fun

We are having 'home days.' This is what the Sweetheart calls non-creche days. She is at home because she broke her collarbone and is a miserable wee thing.  Although the break is small 'trivial' as the doctor referred to it - probably because he was surprised that it was broken - it is quite painful and it has been a quiet few days.  Luckily her sleep has improved a bit, I didn't need to get up to give her panadol in the middle of the night and a visit with a wee friend who had a similar injury earlier in the year really improved her spirits.

In addition to being sleepy, moany and weepy she has been off her food a bit.  I guess the pain, lack of sleep and perhaps the pain medication have all combined to put her off.  So today I decided a food intervention was required.

Luckily Giffy lent me this amazing book, The Just Bento Cookbook.  We decided to make the bunny themed meal, with sausage and cucumber tulips.  It is a little hard to see below, but there is rice underneath, with cos lettuce 'grass,' grape 'rocks,' the tulips, bread bunnies and some field mushrooms.  The Sweetheart actually said 'Thank you Mummy for my lovely bento dinner' (a manners achievement for sure) and I heard her talking to herself while eating 'this is the best dinner ever.'  She ate a fair amount of it, then inexplicably put the box on the ground.  When I turned around from sewing to see why the baby was being so quiet it was to a scene of bento leftover destruction: rice everywhere.  Sigh.  I swear I have to vacuum every day at the moment.  Still, glad that the meal was appealing to both of them.  I'll be remembering this.

For those concerned about the waste from the elaborate food prep:  I had a 'bits' sandwich and the Poppet dealt with the rest!

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