Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Update on the big home project

So, after almost 7 weeks waiting for a plan from our perit (architect and draughts-person) to reflect our proposed restructuring, yesterday we had a scheduled appointment at her office. Much to our disappointment, there were several mistakes in the measurements and the plan was still a draft - yes that's after 7 weeks waiting!!!! (you can say I'm really pi**ed off)

Short of giving up on our project, we will find another perit!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lemon drizzle cake

In the third issue of 'Baked & Delicious' there is a recipe for lemon drizzle cake. Incidentally, my in-laws happen to have a lemon tree in their small garden and last week they kindly provided a small bag of freshly picked juicy lemons. My plan was to make the cake as a Valentine treat, but although the cake turned out really well, it doesn't really scream love to you!

I used more sugar and flour than the original recipe suggested (I know, I know, but I'm not really good with exact measures) but the cake still turned out really well. Anyway, here's my slightly revised recipe:

Whisk together 175 grammes butter and 225 grammes sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition until fully incorporated. If the butter is really cold, it may be necessary to scrape down the bowl from time to time. Pulse in 300 grammes sifted self-raising flour, the grated rind of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons milk. Pour the batter in a greased 900 grammes silicon loaf pan and bake it in a 180 degrees Cecius pre-heated oven for around 1 hour. When the cake is out of the oven, prick the top of the cake with a skewer and pour over a syrup made up of 3 tablespoons golden syrup or honey and 3 tablespoons lemon juice (the syrup is preferably warmed through for a few seconds in the microwave).

The original recipe suggests a crunchy topping made up of the grated zest of 1 or 2 lemons and enough granulated sugar to bind. I can say that this really brought out the lemony flavour and added some zinc to the cake.

All in all, I was quite impressed. The cake is moist, but not too much. It tastes really good. I presume it keeps quite well too, however I didn't get the chance to test that  :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

100 ways to be kind to your child

I came across this list today. Some, well most of them, I still can't do with my almost 15 month old, however I thought I'd share it with anyone reading as it seems such a good idea!

100 Ways to be kind to your child

Tell to your child:
1. I love you.
2. I love you no matter what.
3. I love you even when you are angry at me.
4. I love you even when I am angry with you.
5. My love for you can reach you wherever you are.
6. If I could pick any 4 year old (5 year old...) in the whole wide world, I'd pick you.
7. I love you to the moon and then around the stars and back again.
8. Thank you.
9. I enjoyed playing with you today.
10. My favorite part of the day was with you when we…

Tell them:
11. The story of their birth or adoption.
12. About how you cuddled them when they were a baby.
13. The story of how you chose their name.
14. A story about yourself when you were their age.
15. A story about how their grandparents met.
16. What your favorite color is.
17. That sometimes you struggle too.
18. That when you're holding hands and you give three squeezes, it's a secret code that means, "I love you".
19. What the plan is.
20. What you're doing right now.

21. Freeze Tag
22. Uno
23. Crazy 8s
24. Gin Rummy
25. Memory
26. Go Fish
27. I Spy- especially in the car when you’re tired and feeingl snappish.
28. Catch

29. To catch their kiss and put it on your cheek.
30. That their tickle tank is empty and you have to fill it.
31. That their high five nearly knocks you over.
32. That you are super ticklish.
33. That you are explorers in the backyard.
34. That it's party day! Decorate for no reason!

35. To get enough sleep.
36. To drink enough water.
37. To eat decent food
38. Wearing earrings or whatever makes you feel pretty.
39. Calling friend the next time you feel like you are about to lose it with the kids.
40. Giving a gentle touch to show approval.
41. Dancing in the kitchen.
42. To get your kids to bop to the music with you in the car.
43. Showing your kids that you can do a somersault or handstand or a cartwheel
44. Keeping that sigh to yourself. Just jump in and help clean up cheerfully.
45. Using a kind voice, even if you have to fake it.

46. A book of silly poems.
47. A book and then act it out. (Like "I'm going on a Bear Hunt")
48. Your favorite childhood book to them.
49. When the afternoon is starting to go astray.
50. Outside under a tree.
51. In the library kids corner.
52. The comic book they love that you're not so hot on.
53. About age appropriate behavior so you can keep your expectations realistic.

54. To your child in the car.
55. To that Lego description, and think how important it is to your child.
56. For that question that indicates your child really needs your input.
57. A second longer than you think you have patience for.
58. For the feelings behind your child's words.

59. Why do you think that happens?
60. What do you think would happen if______?
61. How shall we find out?
62. What are you thinking about?
63. What was your favorite part of the day?
64. What do you think this tastes like?

65. Your child how to do something instead of banning them from it.
66. How to whistle with a blade of grass.
67. How to shuffle cards- make a bridge if you can!
68. How to cut food.
69. How to fold laundry.
70. How to look up information when you don't know the answer.
71. Affection to your spouse.
72. That taking care of yourself is important.

Take Time:
73. To watch construction sites.
74. To look at the birds.
75. To allow your child to help put ingredients in the bowl.
76. To walk places together.
77. To dig in the dirt together.
78. To do a task at your child's pace.
79. To just sit with you child while they play.

80. That your child is capable.
81. That you are the right parent for your child.
82. That you are enough.
83. That you can do what is right for your family.

Delight your child:
84. Clean your child's room as a surprise.
85. Put chocolate chips in the pancakes.
86. Put a love note in their lunch.
87. Make their snack into a smile face shape.
88. Make sounds effects while do something.
89. Sit on the floor with them to play.

Let Go:
90. Of the guilt.
91. Of how you thought it was going to be.
92. Of your need to be right.

93. A look with Kind Eyes to your child.
94. A smile when your child walks into the room.
95. A kind touch back when your child touches you.
96. The chance to connect before you correct so that your child can actually hear your words.
97. Your child a chance to work out their frustrations before helping them.
98. A bath when the day feels long.
99. A hug.
100. Your turn- how can you be kind to your child today?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Pumpkin 'risotto'

Last Saturday we bought a good sized wedge of pumpkin from the farmers' market. I quite fancied a risotto, however K is not too keen, especially on risotto rice (it's a texture thing - K doesn't much like sloppy soupy things). As a compromise I usually use basmati rice instead of carnaroli, roma, or any other short grain rice. Basmati is anything but creamy in the end (I usually add cream or cream cheese to make up for the lack of natural creaminess of the rice), but it's aroma balances well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and saltiness of the bacon.

So here is what you need (I usually make up savoury recipes as I go along, o forgive my vagueness in measurements):

In some garlic butter, fry a sliced spring onion, 2 rashers bacon, and a peeled and cubed wedge of pumpkin (around 1kg)

After a few minutes, lower the heat and cover with a lid so that the pumpkin softens and caramelises

When the pumpkin is soft (though not too soft as it still needs to hold its shape), stir in the rice (approximately 150 grams for 2 servings) and add the vegetable broth a ladle at a time until fully absorbed and the rice is cooked (or do as I do and add all the broth at one go, covering the rice by around an inch)

When the rice has cooked through, add around 100 grams cream cheese and a good handful of coarsely grated parmesan

Serve hot topped with rucola (parmesan shavings, crispy bacon and caramelised pumpkin cubes are good alternatives)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The big project

When we first bought our home, way back in 2004, we knew that the layout was not the best. However at the time, it fit the bill - we had our own roof, average sized rooms, a larger than average master bedroom, a bathroom and a spare toilet (however no en-suite), we knew the neighbourhood well, etc.

Then in November 2010 we had our first child - a daughter - and the 130 square meter apartment now feels too small. The layout is odd. A lot of space can't be utilised. Short of selling and buying somewhere else, we're opting for alterations - major ones for that matter - to the existing building.

Current plan of building with some of the proposed alterations

At the moment we are waiting for our perit to finish the new site plan before requesting permission for development to the environment and planning authority.