Monday, August 31, 2009

Chocolate Crackles

It was Matilda's god-sister K's 5th birthday this week, and we went to her birthday party yesterday (which thanks to the CRAZY warm weather for August ended up being a pool party! August! It isn't even Spring yet!!). Our oven's thermostat is broken, and I just had to contribute some kind of sweet offering to the array of delights available, so chocolate crackles were the ideal treat! Chocolate crackles are a uniquely antiopodean delight, and have a very exclusive recipe (on the back of every packet of Rice Bubbles). So I made chocolate crackles, tweeting my progress, and with the odd Facebook update or two. My cooking frenzy inspired some curiosity in friends who are not acquainted with this delightful, sweet treat ... so here is the recipe!

(Recipe card made with CM Storybook Creator Plus 2 software. Photo my own.)
What is copha? (thanks @kmdk!)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Haircut time

Sitting up like a big girl, wearing a fash Wiggles blanket.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Aloha 3!

Thursday morning after the lu'au dawned, and it seemed a bit wet and drizzly, so we decided to hit Ala Moana shopping center and buy some clothes. It'd been 4 years since John's last chance to buy some Gap Khakis (well, in US dollars, instead of Euros or Pounds!), and his work wardrobe was starting to look a tad shabby. We knew we'd need a stroller, so decided to rent one. To Matilda's delight, it wasn't a regular stroller, it was like a bear car mobile, and she was generally quite happy to sit in it. Except when she wanted to climb under dressing room doors and take photos ... there are times when Mama shouldn't have the camera in her handbag ...

Matildarazzi taking photos of Mama in the change room ...

Matilda-eye-view of the shopping center
Thursday night we SPLURGED and arranged a nanny to take care of Matilda (at *cough* $USD20 per HOUR, with a four-hour minimum payment). Matilda was so excited to see someone other than her parents, and welcomed Kelly with a big hug. John and I went to dinner at Morton's, and we're not sure if it's the GFC or that we went to a fancy steak restaurant on a Thursday night, but it was pretty quiet. As always, we had a lovely meal. To keep up with the splurge-y vibe, our taxi to the restaurant was once again a stretch limo! Two nights in one week!
All dressed up in my brand new dress on the way to Morton's. I was rather mortified that the only shoes I could wear were my Birkenstock sandals (they're still pretty new; it's not as though they are grotty house shoes). I felt less mortified when other diners at the restaurant were wearing jeans and someone even had shorts on, I think.
Some more hula lessons at the Manager's Reception
Listening and striking a pose
Shave Ice at the Aloha Stadium swap meet on Saturday. HOT day, we could all have eaten at least three shave ices each!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lu'au at Paradise Cove

After much anguish on my part (would we survive the hour-long bus ride each way? would we cough up the $USD40-60 for a "child's" ticket our have Matilda sit on our laps and eat from our plates?), we decided to go to the Paradise Cove lu'au. We had a great time (and it being not-too-busy, Matilda had her own seat at dinner, and they even gave her some food - fried chicken and rice!).
John and Matilda went for a paddle in an outrigger canoe.
We all got polynesian "tattoos" (with that greasepaint stuff you use when painting kids faces). Matilda got a honu - turtle on her arm.
John got a "tribal" pattern, that Matilda cleaned off during dinner.
I got a pretty Plumeria/Frangipani flower.
Almost sunset ... how gorgeous, and we shared it with just a few hundred other of our closest tourist friends.
Matilda doing the haka. Rather than hours of hula dancing, we were entertained with all manner of polynesian/pacific dancing and rituals.
Come with me, Matilda! The dancers ALL got to know Matilda.
Will you dance with me?
Time to learn some hula dancing. Matilda decided it was HER stage, and she was not going to stand in one place to dance. I'm at the far left of the picture, Matilda's .. not.
We had to get Matilda off the steps before the Tahitian fire dance started. In this spot we could feel the heat of the flames as he twirled the baton around!!

On the bus ride back to Waikiki, our host, cousin Pomai, jokingly talked about a sing-along, and made mention of Old MacDonald's farm. This prompted Matilda to start singing at the top of her voice for the next several minutes. Luckily, she had charmed the rest of the bus (or they had drunk enough Mai Tais and Pina Coladas) by that stage, they all thought she was adorable and were happy to listen to her rendition of eieio. Over and over again. At some point on the drive back, Matilda fell asleep. Yay!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Aloha 2! ;)

Each night at our hotel, the Embassy Suites in Waikiki, there was a Manager's Reception in the Grand Lanai, with some snacks, free drinkie-poos (which for Matilda was a Sprite, Juice, water and ice concoction of our making), and Hawai'ian entertainment, featuring singers and hula dancers. Matilda called the hula dancers "dancing ladies". As we'd exit the lift on our way to the reception, Matilda woudl run and yell "dancing ladies!!!!" (she'd do the same thing, but yell "brekky" in the morning on our way to the brekky buffet, or yell "fhwimming" on the way to the pool). Matilda loved watching the dancing and listening to the music. I'm not keen on her being involved in activities at this age, but after our trip, I'm wondering if she'd really love some dancing lessons.


One night, we made our way to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and dinner at Benihana (US chain of Teppanyaki restaurants that we love). We went down to the lobby area, and asked for a taxi ... and were shown a stretch limo!!! So this was our sweet ride to Benihana, which does not have a kid's menu, contrary to the info on their website. :(

Cute photo of Matilda swimming - hat, floaties (water wings), rash shirt.

Matilda's version of water boarding her father. Not sure where this tendency for torture has come from!

We succumbed and got Matilda a "Monkey Bubbles" drink from the pool bar - some soft drink in a coconut carved to look like a Monkey head. We were able to bring the coconut home without any problems with customs - we declared everything we had, and the only dodgy thing was the Kukui nut (candle nut) lei that John got at Paradise Cove. That was confiscated (though we could have paid $30 to have it treated) - so we were glad we didn't buy any in Honolulu, as plenty of tourist shops had Kukui nut leis at 3 for $USD10 or so.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Aloha from Honolulu!

We arrived in Honolulu just over a week ago, after a more stressful trip than we anticipated - we left Brisbane over 2 hours late thanks to a mechanical failure, so what was meant to be a leisurely commute to the International airport turned into a bolt, including running through the Domestic airport and getting priority passes to get through Immigration and Customs!
The International flight was pretty uneventful, once Matilda finally sat down and then finally fell asleep. The all-male flight attendant crew did not succumb to her cuteness, and insisted on her sitting down - we tried to tell them it might have more impact if they roused on her rather than us, but hey.
When we arrived at our hotel mid-morning on the same day we left, our room wasn't ready, so we all got changed into Summer clothes, and went for a walk on the beach - bad move, Matilda just wanted to get into the water! We went up the beach from the Outrigger to the Sheraton (one of the Sheratons), then wandered Kalakaua Ave until we found somewhere unique and local for lunch. Burger King. Shortly after lunch time, we went back to the hotel and were able to check in, and John and I broke out jet lag rules and had an afternoon nap.

Our days since arriving have mainly centred around swimming. Matilda prefers the pool for some reason, but we are determined to get back to Waikiki at least once before leaving (and tomorrow we're getting a car and heading up to the North Shore to see if we can see some turtles and have some of the allegedly best Shave Ice around).

We went to the Waikiki Aquarium. Matilda loved the shark display, and while professing to being scared of the crabs, also kissed them through the glass. She's all style, our girl.

Waiting for a hermit crab to crawl out of his shell ... predictably, when he did, Matilda dropped him! :)
First Shave Ice, at a food stand just up the beach towards Waikiki from the Aquarium.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Six months later, we flooded again

Water height line on our fence. Yes, the post box needed to be cleaned out!
Creek mud on the front path (all pics from Thurs 21st)

Downstairs main room. That's the upright freezer on its SIDE.

Assorted mess in downstairs big room. Water went entirely over the piano.

My CM shelving. Water went to part way up the second-top shelf here (the last shelf with albums)
Looking from the scrapbooking room towards the big room.

The amazing hovering shelf of books - the books stayed thanks to the water expanding them, but the shelf had fallen out from underneath them.

Bubbling in the paint in the craft room, after the big white shelving was removed.

New table legs (added to the table on Monday) - note the expansion!

The pile of trashed books that took Megan four or five hours to catalogue.
The 2009 Flood
So, when we bought our house, we knew that that area of the street flooded in the 74 floods, the largest flood to hit Brisbane in most people's living memory. We knew that, but we loved it, loved the close location to the CBD, and bought it anyway. And that's worked well for us, until the past six-and-a-bit months. Because on Nov 20 last year, Enoggera creek broke its banks, and flooded most of our street, including around 30cm or so of water through the bottom of our house. Thanks to our awesome parents, my Grandma, family and friends, we got everything cleaned up in a few days, and eventually the insurance got all settled, and some things were replaced (others hadn't been searched for yet).
Then this year, on May 20, I was sitting at work thinking about getting home and putting everything up high that night that wasn't in plastic tubs or those space saver bags, given the huge amounts of rain we'd had on Mon and Tues that week (well over 200mm in those 48 hours). Megan texted me from her bus home to say they'd been diverted from Bowen Bridge Rd, and the alarm bells started ringing for me - Bowen Bridge Rd is near our house, and if the creek overflowed onto it, then our house would be under water, as the road is higher than our street.I had been checking the Bureau of Meteorology website that afternoon, checking the flood warnings, and checking the creek level readings, NONE of which had me worried or gave ANY indication that Windsor was likely to flood.
We got home at about 6pm to a blacked-out street, and water much higher up the street than last time. Again, we found out too late to do or change anything, and would have to deal with the consequences. We had a farewell dinner with Dad and Lylia on Tues night, and Dad had suggested we put everything up high - which we planned to do on Weds night, but even looking back, we couldn't have guessed we'd get up to 1.4m / 5 feet of water through our house.
Luckily on Weds I had bought some new Crocs for our tropical holiday, so I waded through the hip-high water (about 1m, I guess) to get clothes, nappies, etc, for us to spend the night at John's parent's house. John was going to be the gentleman/boy scout, but I wouldn't let him in the water in his leather work shoes, nor without shoes. I grabbed the most random assortment of clothes while he dealt with a tired, cranky, and confused Matilda in the car.
6:30pm was high tide, and we went to John's parents for the night.
In the middle of Weds night, John and Brett went to our house to open the doors and let water out, so that it wouldn't sit there seeping through the doors until we got there in the morning. He got back at about 2am, and told me it was as bad as I imagined.
So, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were spent cleaning, with heaps of help from Janet, Megan, Brett, Lexie, Jonathon from Property Blitz, Will, Chrissy, Kate, Darren, Glenda, Noel, Narelle, and Jacey (I'm sorry if I forgot anyone!). Our power was out until Friday lunch time, as water got through the power box thingie. The fridge and freezer had to be emptied, all electrical goods downstairs are written off after being submerged, the freezer made a hole in one wall as it floated about, over 10,000 photos were immersed in water, as well as a number of scrapbooking projects that were in progress (luckily fully completed albums were upstairs, but in progress albums included Matilda's first volume and memorabilia from our Gallipoli trip). Megan spent Saturday cataloguing over 400 books that were ruined (and is probably signing me up or renewing my membership with the local library - wonder if they'll have Harry Potter in German? ;) ). The downstairs walls will need to be replaced, there'll need to be some electrical work done - none of the sockets downstairs are working, and only half of the upstairs ones are, as well as sitting down and figuring out the cost of the books and scrapbooking items that have been destroyed.
Sunday, I moved my focus to our trip - our flights and accommodation were all completely pre-paid, and we didn't have time to see about rescheduling, so on Sunday afternoon we left the house in our housesitter's hands, and flew to Sydney (2 hours late, so it was a bolt from the domestic to the international terminal, and no time for duty-free shopping!), and then on to Honolulu, where we are enjoying living in a hotel room where we don't have to worry about not having a washing machine, not having power in 1/2 of the upstairs sockets, we have internet, and most of all - doesn't smell like creek silt. The smell from the last flood had barely gone ... bugger!

Friday, May 29, 2009

When soap attacks...

After being attacked by a bar of soap in the bath. Matilda recommends relaxing on the couch with an elmo dvd, an improvised ice pack and breakfast cereal.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easter at Rainbow Beach

Playing in the park. M later tried to use this hole as an exit when we had to go. As a hint of how high up it is, I'm standing, and not crouching very much!
We took a bunny home with us for the five-hour drive back to Brissie on Easter Monday. The ears lasted maybe til we were out of the township.
A bit of face painting done by the fairy at Tin Can Bay markets. And I think the marks all around M's mouth are chocolate...
Not yet a convert to rice pudding, and certainly not when it's cold!
Hunting for eggs in the yard.
There's one in the herbs!
Helping Daddy with his leg exercises. He had very sore legs for the next few days. M made him do LOTS of repetitions!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family Weekend Away

Happy Birthday Aunty Kate!
For Christmas, Janet, Kate, and Darren gave the rest of the family a weekend away together - what fun! So in early Feb, we went to Peppers Resort at Salt (yes, those are not made up locations/names) for a wonderful weekend together. As it happened, that was the weekend of Kate's birthday, so were able to spend the whole weekend celebrating together!
Aunty Janet picked up some American-style cupcakes from Poppy's Cakes at Emporium. Yum!
Cuddles with Mama while eating yummy cupcakes.
Mama and Dada had a room to themselves - Matilda stayed in the same apartment as Grandma, Grandad, and Aunty Janet. Aunty Janet and M were roomies for the weekend - luckily Aunty Janet is an early bird!
Mama and Dada's room had a lovely big bathroom with a big spa bath. When M spotted Mama having a bath on Sat afternoon, she decided to join in the fun. It was very deep water though - M could only just sit in the bath without being covered up. She did NOT like the spa jets.
After a big day of swimming, no nap, and lots of fun, Matilda fell asleep while we were out for dinner on Aunty Kate's birthday. Grandma's sweet singing in her ear helped, too, I suspect.

Lots of willing arms to cuddle our sleeping girl.
I want to keep swimming! Why are you taking a photo and not swimming with me?! More swimming!