Thursday, October 30, 2008


What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Check out their webpage.

Will I be participating? Yes.
Am I crazy? You betcha!
I think it looks like fun to be honest.
I know, your last question is, can you read what I write? I make no promises..
I'll keep you updated on my progress.. I've got ONE day to plan in.. As I type this it's 30 minutes until Oct. 31!

Toothless Grin..

Gram-Gram & Poppy, that one's for you!

Lidmen Completed..

That's right, the boys each have one now! It only took us how many months to complete the project? The boys were so excited, and even drew on their own faces. Jayden was content to say, "I want as much blue as possible!" in regards to his lids. Morgan, in his normal fashion, wanted his to be an assortment of colors. It took him a good 5 minutes to pick out 6 lids for the legs!

Thanks to Aunty Adrienne who donated most of our lids the boys got to do these much sooner then they would have. We don't buy much of anything, except milk, that comes with plastic lids. All though we did provide both bodies (one's a no-stick spray lid, the other is whip cream in a can lid) However, those were the ONLY two we had so the boys are hoping I'll buy something with large lids again so they can make another one each.

I don't buy cleaning fluids (except powdered laundry soap.. my allergies wouldn't permit me to use homemade) so that rules out using a dusting spray lid (do you have any idea how quickly that stuff can set off my migraines?!). Shaving cream lids are out, I don't use it (again allergies), and Lawrence doesn't use it either. I do, however, still buy non-stick spray so I'm sure by next month they'll have another one of those to make themselves another lidman.

Morgan is REALLY eager to make a zebra one. He's saving up the black lids (he only has a very small handful, so he's in dire need of more) and a the white lids. If you're interested in making your own you can get free instructions. However, we opted to buy the detailed instructions for $3.00. They are downloadable so there's no waiting for them to arrive in the mail!

These are very simple to make, Lawrence and the boys did these on their own (I was busy making jell-o with stevia..) here's a few pictures of the progress:

Yup, Lawrence used powertools WITHOUT help!

Lawrence's normal reaction to powertools..

threading the legs on

Jayden's lidman, from India apparently, dancing away

The completed projects..
ignore my sink, it takes a lot of dishes to make jell-o apparently..

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Honey Recipes

We made a super yummy honey apple cake this week. (We got the original recipe from the Five In A Row message boards.) However, it was loaded with 2 cups of sugar, so I doctored the recipe.

Honey Apple Cake

1/4 c oil
3/4 c applesauce
1 c honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
3 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
3 c. peeled, chopped apples

Cream the oil and honey. Mix in applesauce and eggs. Mix dry ingredients together, and mix in. Fold in apples and nuts (if using, I didn't..). Bake at 350 in a greased 9x13 pan for about 45-60 minutes. This was a great way for us to use up more of those apples in the deep freeze (it's still a good quarter full of APPLES!)

We made a honey carmel sauce to go on top, it took a bit of time to make, but it everyone likes it.

Honey Carmel Sauce

1 c evaporated milk
1 c honey
1/2 c butter

Mix it in a medium saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until boiling. Turn heat down to medium, and continue cooking until thickened and carmel colored. I think it took about 20-30 minutes. By thick this only means coats the back of the spoon kind of thick. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

I'll have to try the chocolate sauce next time. Not for the cake, but for Jayden to have his occasional chocolate milk. He's been fine with the no sugar thing, and taken it all in stride, but yesterday he was pretty annoyed I wouldn't let him have a chocolate milk..

When I asked Lawrence to come taste it he attempted to run off with the pan.. Thankfully it didn't have a handle which delayed his progress.. Because of how thick it gets we melted it a bit before putting it on the slices of cake we ate. I'll also add that I think the butter was a bit much. As in next time we make it we may cut back on the butter, I'm not convinced it needed that much, not that it tasted bad..

Nope, no pictures.. the guys have eaten it all up all ready. Jayden was really hooked on the cake. All though it might be because I purchased "spray can" type whipping cream for it. Would you believe they still remember Gram-Gram squirting some into their mouths? They begged for that until we finally caved in.

Back to Mosquito Netting..

I finally procured (like that word?) a mosquito netting! It was a bit trickier then you'd think. Okay, so maybe we were just being pickier? I didn't care, as long as it kept the nasty little things off me while I'm sleeping. Do you know what it's like waking up to that annoying buzz in your ear?? Not fun, I can assure you of that.

Anyway, after much debating and choosing, we decided to get the one pictured above. We were originally going to get one from a place out of Australia. Their prices were great and you could choose from a four corner or a circular one. I figured that was great on many accounts, and the biggest being having things shipped in from America isn't always cheap, which can cancel out the savings. The problem was Lawrence was worried about getting up in the middle of the night and being tangled up in the thing and pulling it all down.

I pointed out that as long as the netting was still over me I wouldn't care until morning. He didn't find this as amusing as I did.. The place in Australia (can't remember the name of it) also sold the four corner one which allowed an opening on each side so you could easily get up in the middle of the night. The price was only slightly more then the circular one. The downside was it had this "decretive" beading on it I wasn't impressed with. You know what those mosquitos would have done to beading? Laughed themselves silly! Plus, if you don't have a four poster bed you need to put four hooks in the ceiling, we weren't keen on the idea since we rent..

I ended up doing a quick search before making a firm choice and noticed some out of America that were four corner but only required one hook (the one above). The downside was it looked like their "worldwide shipping" only included Canada. Apparently someone needs to buy the company a world map and open up their possibilities. Back to the drawing board.

I was pretty much convinced we'd have to suffer the consequences of four holes and funky beading when I did one last search and saw the one I wanted, brand new, being sold on ebay Australia. I was tickled pink. The upside to buying it out of Australia was that not only did I save on shipping, due to the exchange rate I saved over-all as well. Yippie!

So now I'll sit anxiously next to the mailbox and scare the mailman again. We seem to have a regular habit of doing such things.. The other day Morgan managed to flip our double jogger over while the mailman was driving down the sidewalk. He gave us about 5 minutes to tip things upright before he gave up and went around... If he only knew how quick that really was for us..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Morgan's Christmas Swap Ornaments

After a trip that nearly caused Daddy to pass out, Morgan has mailed off his Swap Ornaments. I signed him up for a Christmas ornament swap on the Five In A Row Boards. He's participated in many other swaps before and this one was just as exciting for him.

The idea is that the kids make ornaments up for each child on their list. They mail them out, and should get back as many as they mailed out. Simple. Considering the vast amount of topics we covered in school this year I thought it would be fun for Morgan to pick one to make his ornament on. He wasn't sure which to pick because he loves it all that much. I suggested he focus on one of the books we've used.

Again, he was torn. He loves Grandfather's Journey (the one I was pretty sure he'd claim was his favorite), but then he started thinking about his other books and was so torn. So we were going to make globes. Seriously. We were going to cover balloons, barely blown up, in paper mache. Well we got about 5 covered, before we realized we were out of newspaper. Then we were going to paint them blue, and let him paint on the green continents. The downside was we were worried that even wrapped in bubble wrap they might not travel well. So it was back to the drawing board.

He wanted to know if he could make up one ornament for each book. I said that would take him a long time. Then I thought about how in love with books he is, and how easy it would be to make mini books and let him fill them in. I also thought about the Christmas paper I had upstairs in the scrap supply. So we took some Weet*Bix boxes and cut them into rectangles. Covered them in paper. Printed out pictures of his favorite books, typed up a few short sentences and printed those out. He was able to use the sticker maker (his favorite of all the scrapping tools) to turn all the print outs into stickers to put in the books.

He was especially in love with the little "catch" on the front of the book. Which, I'll admit is held closed with blue-tac. Seriously. They came together really quickly, and fit perfectly into a small envelope. We even hung a small bit of stretchy clear thread on them so they can be hung like a normal ornament from the Christmas trees. Morgan had so much fun that we made a few extra which are currently hanging up in the dinning room. He went into full panic mode when he saw them, convinced I'd forgotten to send them on to someone.

Here's a few glimpses of the inside, I really loved some of the reasons he liked the books we used for school:

Another Glorious Flight

Miss Rumphius

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Friday, October 24, 2008

Move Over Wiggles..

Move over Wiggles, you might have the stage, but we've got the kitchen! That's right, I refilled the ketchup bottle with homemade, non-sugary, ketchup (which I snuck some extra pureed veggies into) and the kids never saw it coming. In fact, they were downright annoyed when we ran out! I got quite the telling off from Jayden over my inability to make ketchup at 8am.

You see, Jayden, who once hated anything to do with tomatoes, has decided that anything and everything to do with tomatoes is now top-notch. He's joined Morgan in eating tomatoes like apples. In fact they tend to beg them off their relatives and I've yet to have a pound of tomatoes last me longer then a week.

However, I was pretty annoyed that even Wiggles ketchup had oodles of sugar in it. I mean, this is the band who came out with kids products but didn't want to hit the sweets market. Didn't they say something about there was enough junk food out there for kids all ready, and they wanted to encourage good eating habits? Okay, so maybe most kids don't sit around and think up what they can have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just so they can have a squirt of ketchup, but I know a certain 5 year old who does. In fact, when he was informed we had no hamburgers on hand today he was all for eating the ketchup as it was. Personally, I don't get the ketchup phase. I know, I'm American I'm suppose to LOVE ketchup, but honestly I never use to panic when I ran out. Now I only panic for fear Jayden will realize and suggest I stay up late to be sure there's some on hand!

Want the recipe? I promise it has no cinnamon in it or sugar..

Homemade Ketchup

12 ounces of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic finely mashed and copped
1 cup of carrot puree
1/2 c water
4 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 t stevia extract powder
2 T honey (or more to taste)
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t salt
1/4 t celery salt
1/2 t onion powder

I mix it all up and dump it in a pan on the stove top and simmer away until the mixture is reduced by half. The problem is it splatters all over the stove, so I think next time I'll make it in the crockpot with the lid vented a pinch. This time I kept, don't laugh, my small metal sieve/strainer over the pot. It let the steam out, but kept most of the splatter inside.


I mix my mashed up garlic with my carrot puree in my rocket blender and it comes out super fine in texture. That way it all fits through the holes on the ketchup bottle. Learn from my mistakes.. first time around we had a few garlic bits clog the bottle up!

It takes about 4-6 carrots (depending on size) to make the required amount of carrot puree. Yes, the kids know it's in there, and no they don't care. They truly only care that I'll have something for them to put it on.. Seriously.

If you like spicier ketchup you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder. My kids don't like spice, especially Jayden (as in hot spice) so I don't put it in.

The recipe above filled that ketchup bottle and left me with another half-cup of ketchup. I've no idea how long it will "last" for, because we seem to go through it pretty quickly. However, I'd venture to say that the vinegar will preserve it for a rather reasonable length of time.


Ps.. we're still highly addicted to the Wiggles, note the ketchup container I refilled for the kids.. not to mention the gift bag they picked out for the Aunty's birthday present..

Tick The Box

The other day I picked up a bunch of little Thomas The Train workbooks for Jayden from ChickenFeed. I had no specific plans for them, but when I told Morgan it was time for a reading lesson I asked Jayden if he wanted to try a Thomas book.

He's very eager to start big-boy school, but I'm putting him off until January/February when we start our 2009 term. While I know he can do any of the work I ask, we have some attitude issues we need to work through before we start doing school. Not to mention Morgan is only about 2 weeks away from being completely done with his 2008 school term.. however, back to the picture above..

Yesterday, while working on a birthday present for someone I had Morgan pull out his current reading book and read to me. He was delighted with the idea. (He's been so eager to read this particular book..) Anyway, as soon as I mentioned that Morgan was doing school, Jayden eagerly asked if he could "please, please, please do a Thomas book!" Sure, go for it!

He picked out the maths book he'd been working on, and I suggested he sit next to Daddy and let Daddy read him the instructions. This worked well. We were all sitting at the kitchen table working away when Daddy starts to giggle. His giggle gets louder and he asks me to stop and take a look at something.

He'd read Jayden a story, Jayden had to put the pictures in order from 1-4. He did this. Then he had to "tick" a box to say which item Sir Topemhat used to measure things with. I tend to say, "put an x in the box" or I'll let him circle things. Well Daddy did his normal Aussie thing by saying, "Jayden just tick the box that shows what he used." Jayden took Daddy very literally, and sounded out the word "tick" for himself.

Yup, that's right, Jayden wrote the word "tic" in the box above. No help. No guidance. He simply sat there sounding out each letter, then proceeded to write it down in the tiny box. Yeah, I think Jayden might get some one-on-one time for reading lessons this summer. He's clearly proved he's ready for it...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Dose Of Humor..

Just a few of the "funnies" I've heard recently..

Postman came to deliver a package on Monday, I had to sign for the package. He needed me to tell him the name because I was all ready holding the package. I gave him the information and then pointed out that it's Cooke with an E. Morgan pipes up with, "Yeah, why does it have an e on it? I don't get it. What's the point in that?" I think the postman was doing his best to refrain from too many smirks before closing the gate behind him.

Morgan was asked to put the forks on the table, "Yeah, but what kind of superware do I need to pull out?"

Jayden drew me a picture (I'll try and post it later if it'll scan into the computer well enough, "Do you know what this is Mom? This is God, and these lines are all his powers going down to that man laying on the ground. He's on the ground because God has killed him with his superpowers." Me: "Why did God have to kill the man?" J: "Because he was the enemy from Egypt." (he's obsessed with Egypt, I think it goes hand in hand with his obsession for Joseph.)

Morgan: "Mom don't come in the kitchen right now!" Me: "Why not, are you cooking something?" "No, I'm getting dressed and I don't want you to see my underpants!"

"Daddy can you read my letter from the tooth fairy to me?" Daddy: "Sure." That's as far as he got before tears of laughter were streaming down his face.

"Jayden, do you know what Christmas is all about?" J: "Yup, the presents!" Me: "Oh Jayden, I'm a bit disappointed that you think presents are the right answer." J (with a deep sigh)"Okay, so it's really about decorating the house, but I like the presents part too!"

"Morgan, do you know what Christmas is all about?" M: "Yes, it's about Jesus being born. He had to be born because God sent him to crush the head of the serpent who tricked Adam and the girl." Me: "Wow, that was pretty specific." M: "Yup."

Me: "Daddy, I asked Jayden what Christmas was all about, and when he said presents and I said no, he said decorating the house." Daddy (trying not to laugh) "Did he?" Me: "Yes, and sadly I think he was serious!" J: "I was serious! We decorate the house for Jesus' birthday!!"

"Morgan, read the next word on the list, and tell me a sentence with it." Morgan: "M-u-g. Mug! Nana had a Mug of tea, and then she saw a bug in it and she screamed. She dropped the mug and nearly hurt herself again."

"Morgan, read the next work and make up a sentence to go with it." Morgan: "G-u-s. Gus! Oh, Gus is a bug. He was in Nana's cup of tea. She screamed." (Nana seemed to have a horrible fate in all the sentences Morgan made up that day..)

J: "MORGAN!! I saw Uncle "D"!!" Morgan: "You did not. He's not in Australia." J: "I did too, and did you know that Uncle "D" is the long way to say it, but just saying "D" is the quick way." Morgan: "You did not!" Me (in order to keep the peace) "Actually, saying "D" is the short way. His name is really Derrick." Loud gasps in the car, "Did you hear that?" Morgan: "Yup, do you think she's serious??"

"Mom! Look I made the leaning tower of Egypt!!" J: "You made it out of domioes, so let's call it leaning tower of domioes!"

"Morgan, I really hope your tooth falls out soon." M: "Why?" J: "So she can bring us a toy!"

"Do you guys know what Thursday is?" Boys: "No, what!?" "It's Aunty Adrienne's birthday, and it's also the day Mommy & Daddy got married." Morgan: "WHAT?! So you guys gave her a present, and then she must have given you one too!!" (Not sure how he knows people get a gift when they get married, but...)

"Mom what do Seagulls eat." "Fish, and things like that." J:"And mermaids?" "Jayden, you know mermaids aren't real!" J: "Mom, you are so wrong! I can't believe you teach Morgan stuff. Mermaids are real!!"

As a lego smashed on the floor, "Jayden, look what you did to my imagination!" J: "I didn't do it!" "You touched my imagination and now something broke off of it!

One Nasty Little Tooth Fairy..

I think the "Tooth Fairy" may have been a bit tired when the note was left for our poor toothless child:

'Dear Morgan,

I am sorry you swallowed your tooth. I need a new front door, and I had hoped your tooth would work for me! Maybe your next tooth will be my front door. I hope you choked on the tooth you swallowed! -- Love, Tooth Fairy'

Uh, Tooth Fairy, are you for real, cause I'm just wondering ya know.. In the meantime, let's just be grateful the Tooth Fairy used funky font because Morgan might not be able to read the letter on his own. We know Daddy won't be able to read it with a straight face, that's for sure! He's been laughing for the past ten minutes.. non-stop..

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aussie Mossie

Summer is nearly here, and that means I've got to come up with some SERIOUS mosquito protection! These nasty little things eat me ALIVE. All. Summer. Long. I'm talking big huge red bites that swell, and make my whole body itch. Serious allergic reaction. I've got two on my left ankle right now and it's all I can do to keep from tearing my ankle off in an attempt to relieve the itch. I don't want to take an antihistamine for it, so I'll suffer!

Okay, seriously though, what's up with these things? Are Aussie Mossies super powered mosquitoes or what? I recall being bitten up as a kid when we lived by the creek and I don't remember bit red swollen bites that made my whole body itch. I also don't remember any part of my body swelling just from a single bite either. Then again, I don't remember black and white spotted mosquitos!

Get this, Australia is home to something like 300 different species of mosquitos. First off, who on earth counted?! I want to know if you had to sign up for it. You know, like catching lighting bugs in America.. Seriously, check out this poster I found:

You can actually purchased the poster $11 AUD

Not to mock someone's hard work, but why on earth would I want a mosquito poster? I'm thinking if I'm lucky enough to see the nasty little bug to whack it with my rolled up copy of Family Fun or whatever book I'm holding I'm doing good. It's a miracle if I whack it before it strikes and leaves me "all blown up". No, I just can't see myself, even as homeschooler (we're weird ya know..) hanging up a whole poster of Aussie Mossies.

Weirdly enough, I can see myself attempting to squish one in a way that won't totally "ruin" the mosquito just so I can check it out under our bionic eye.. Hey, maybe I should check out the horrible swollen red blotches on my ankle and see if I can watch my skin swell. (Hey, I warned you we were weird!!) You know, I strongly suspect that the nose of those things will look like a little knife, and I heard tell that mosquitoes have teeth.. Wow, maybe I won't groan the next time I'm bitten if I can catch one to look at under "the eye".

In the mean time, I think I'll go check out some mosquito netting for the bed. Laugh all you want, cause I know those of you in America are!, but last summer my entire jaw line was bitten up DAILY. I sported red welts on my arms, and even on my toes. I recently read vinegar will keep the mosquitos at bay.. wonder if it'll work on the super powered Aussie Mossie?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lawrence's New Obsession..

Yup, he spotted this one at Barratts Music (they still recognize him) a week or more ago. Came home, did the math, thought about it, and decided he wanted it. Barratts was willing to serve (I'm telling you they don't just recognize him, they LOVE to see him in there..).

So Wednesday our trip to Launceston was mostly for the purpose of getting this keyboard (and some new running shoes for everyone, but really that's just the sideshow, right Honey?) We left the store completely loaded down (no joke) with a keyboard, speakers, wires, and a stand to put the crazy thing on. The boys were just as excited, between spotting the guitars in the shop, and the prospect of learning to play piano they were over the moon crazy. (I'm betting, considering the outstandingly good price on the 1/4 size guitars Barretts may see us again before Christmas.. Shhh, don't tell the boys!)

The boys are now eager for their music books to arrive so that Daddy can tell them how to play music. They are also impressed that Mommy can still play Mary Had A Little Lamb without looking at music. However, they didn't recognize the Star Spangled Banner when I played it, guess what they will be learning next school term! Lawrence recognized it though, so I didn't feel as bad.

Needless to say we've lost Daddy for a while. In fact I recall saying, "Stop playing and come to dinner!" He didn't hear. The same is true of lunch, and breakfast.. Yup, if clients start calling we'll have to think quick on our feet. I'm telling you, we should have gone for that Wiggles song book, then he could have mesmerized them with some tunes...

Duck Duck Bruce!

We picked up Duck Duck Bruce when we were in Launceston this week, it's an awesome card game! I find it difficult to get a hold of good games for the kids, especially Jayden, that aren't super expensive here. Which means, each time we pass a display of games, I tend to stop and see if there's something worth buying.

We enjoy playing a game with the kids after dinner at night, after lunch, when they start fighting, when they scream they are bored. While waiting in the Dr's office, while waiting in airports (you should have seen the looks we got then!!), and even if we take the kids to a "sit down and order" type of restaurant (we once had the entire serving staff at Chili's watching our game...)

Anyway, it was a toss up between this card game and another (something about cats), because we wanted a game Jayden would enjoy we went for the dogs game. (He's a dog fanatic to put it mildly). We haven't been disappointed with the game! Mind you, this isn't exactly a quite game. While it's not necessary to exceed normal sound barrier limits, we seem to do that. The idea is that each time you lay a card down you say "duck" (you know duck-duck-goose!) well, we do say duck, followed by much "take another!!" or "Don't be so greedy!" or "Watch out, it's BRUCE!!"

Jayden loves the game so much our deck of cards no longer looks brand new. The "shine" that makes them impossible to hold on to and shuffle is long gone. He's played well over 3 dozen games since we purchased it on Wednesday! While he's playing he's not above his normal maniacal laughter that which is a good indication he's after a Bruce (he hasn't figured out you don't want those cards!) so he can attempt to steal someone else's. (He makes the same sound in Uno if he gets a wild, draw four, or draw two.. fair warning folks!)

Do we like this game? You betcha! I'll admit that even Lawrence and I offered to play a few rounds because we enjoyed it so much. Seriously, the game is fun, all though it may not be a good game to play in the Dr's office.. Or the hospital.. You get my point, right??

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Arm River (2)

Having two little boys who can get themselves in a load of trouble, I'm always highly amused by the stories my mother-in-law can tell me of the four boys she raised. It reminds me that every child has it's flaw, and I should thank my lucky stars that mine are only currently a pack of two. After all, I figure there's a bit less trouble two can get into.. (I know, Jayden makes up for those that may be lacking, but...)

While camping at Arm River the boys had the experience of being overrun by girls! That's right, I actually bunked in a room where girls out numbered the boys (sorry guys!) Yeah, there was lots of laughing, but no we didn't paint the boys toenails once they drifted off.. I'm digressing at any rate.

Needless to say, after the countless stories I've heard about the Cooke clan growing up, I'm never truly surprised by anything they attempt. Like scaling poles to rescue footies, teasing their mother mercilessly, and just being themselves in general. In fact I'm usually well enough amused to sit and have a good laugh.

However, upon going to out to the car to locate the camera (which was around my husband's neck) I noticed him taking a picture of the interior of a trunk. I attempted to close the trunk, and when it sprung back up with someone popping out of it, I honestly heard myself saying, "Please, please tell me my child is not in there!" (He wasn't, all though he came to check it out and I reminded him we do NOT play in trunks.. thankfully he can't trap himself in our trunk..)

Okay, so while this one actually caught me off guard, what happened next completely cracked me up:

Yeah, they wanted to see how many people they could fit in the trunk of a car...

Camping At Arm River (1)

This past weekend was the annual Arm River camp weekend. We look forward to it, and this year was no exception. We had ourselves a throughly great time! We left our place on Friday afternoon, and came home Sunday evening. All though if it had been up to Jayden we'd have stayed for the rest of his life!

Jayden lives to be outdoors, and camping was 100% his thing. From the moment we got there until the moment we dragged him off to bed he was outside playing ball, hunting for bugs, playing cars, etc. The only part Jayden wasn't keen on was our walk down to the creek. The camp runs off creek water, and we enjoy taking the small jaunt down to the creek to check it out. It's also a quick and simple walk for the kids, compared to the forest walk Lawrence and I enjoy without them.

On our trip down to the creek the path is clearly marked until a certain point. Then you do a bit of a guessing game following the wallaby, and other wildlife paths. Again, not a problem. We even made it all the way to the water without any issues. The boys, and a cousin, had a great time checking it out. On the way back we ran into our first snag.

Lawrence led us up the wrong "guessed" path. So we landed in the middle of an area with fallen trees and no clear path. He thought the other side of the fallen tree was where we needed to be, so I walked up the fallen tree (not as hard as it sounds) only to find that while we were on level ground again, we still weren't where we needed to be. So it was back down the tree and to the creek to start over.

Jayden was slightly stressed that we were lost, and he had no water. Morgan was annoyed I hadn't brought the compass, and I was starting to agree. Lawrence walked up another path, and just out of view to return a minute later declaring that wasn't the right path. His third path was the right one, and so after only a minor delay we were back on track. All though our quick, "I must be back in ten minutes to get the soup started before everyone gets here" plan didn't work.

The creek (not at leechy point)

Upon our arrival back at camp we noticed that the four people left at camp were missing. (They'd run out for matches!) Once we got back and sat down Aunty Angela felt a funny itch on her leg and decided to check it out. She had a dreaded leach! Now, it's not abnormal to find leeches, in fact the forest walk always has leeches on them, and coming back with a few to dispose of is just normal. However, we've never had an issue with the creek walk!

Anyway, she pulled her leeches off, in total style, while I scanned the boys for them. At which point, and I so don't blame her, Aunty was slapping herself a bit to make sure she had no more. Morgan and Jayden are watching in wide-eyed wonder until we discover one on Morgan's leg. At which point Morgan lets out a blood curdling scream and Jayden says, in a very timid voice, "I sure hope it doesn't suck up all your blood and you die!" Morgan's scream was LOUDER until Daddy pulled the offending leach off and life returned to normal.

However, Jayden refused, for the rest of the time at camp, to go back down to the creek, and even had a nightmare about a "black worm sucking up all my blood!" Alas, maybe next year. We'll have to buy him his own bottle of salt so he can see that a little salt will knock those leaches back a few steps.

Lawrence and I enjoyed the forest walk while the boys opted to stay behind with Nana and watch a video. We didn't figure they'd make it the whole loop without being carried, and I'm not sure Jayden would have gone anyway! We really didn't see as many leeches on the forest walk, but that doesn't mean we didn't have them.

While talking our forest walk the old saying, "Moss only grows on the north side of the tree." came to mind. So, I'm thinking, right, if I get lost I'll just follow the moss back. Only, as I look closer I notice that this moss is growing all around the tree. I'm thinking, "super moss". So I ask three different people if they've heard the moss saying, and none of them had! You know that moment when you suddenly wonder if you really are crazy? Yeah, well I had one of those moments..

Uncle Chris however had heard of this saying, only he pointed out that he'd heard of it as, "Moss only grows on the south side of the tree!" Thank goodness he pointed out the obvious. Otherwise if I ever got lost in Australia and opted to find my way out with the moss, I would have OBVIOUSLY been going in the wrong direction.

I was so relieved about not being totally crazy that I nearly forget to point out that the moss I'm looking at is growing on all sides of the tree. (Someone else pointed this out for me..) Uncle Chris pointed out that it's not moss it's lichen. At which point I decided that before I can get loss I need to get a field guide out to determine the difference between lichen and moss. Then I had to ask if Moss was a plant of a fungus, which couldn't be answered at that time. (Just for the record it's considered a plant not a fungus..)

See all that green, not moss!

Mr. Men

This house, or at least a few certain someones within it, are a bit Mr Men crazy. To be fair, the new Mr Men show is pretty funny, and considering, at least in Tassie, it only lasts 15 minutes we tend to tune in daily. Not all the old characters have shown themselves in the new version, but many of the classics are there; Mr Bump, Mr Grumpy, Mr Stubborn, Mr Loud, Miss Calamity, Miss Chatterbox, etc.

Check out the fun for yourself over at Mr Men. For a really good laugh check out the Mr Noisy video. This one has us in stitches just about everytime we watch it. Lawrence is hoping the shows come out on video soon so he can "get one for the boys." I personally believe that's just an excuse..

Morgan is so infatuated with Mr Men that he spends ages drawing them for us and then asking us to guess which one he's drawn. He does a really good job with it. Jayden, on the other hand, doesn't bother drawing anything, he simply does something and says, "Guess who I am?" I'd like to point out that his two favorite characters are Mr Rude and Mr Noisy, need I say more?

So, when the kids saw plush Mr & Little Miss toys at the shop they were very excited. Yesterday, when I made a dash out for milk and supper supplies Daddy told them they could each pick one of the smaller versions. True to fashion Morgan chose Little Miss Scary, and Jayden chose Mr Loud. However, it didn't stop there. Daddy had to get Mr Grumpy, and when I said that someone *SHOULD* have gotten Mr Bump because he's so funny he was tossed in the cart for me. All I can say is thank goodness the kids didn't say, "Here's your Mr Bump Mom!" after the toys were rung up.

Check out the resemblances below:

Morgan & Little Miss Scary

Jayden & Mr Loud

Mr Grumpy & Lawrence

Mr Bump & Me

Need I say more??

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christmas Fun

Remember the reindeer pouches I'm making? Well, I've finally compiled a list of the various activities on our cards that will be inside the reindeer pouches. The list is not complete, but it's a great jumping point. They are not listed in any particular order either...

1. Pull out the Christmas Tree and set it up. Don't forget to decorate it!

2. Let's go to the honey farm today. Pick out honey to send to ******* (Name hidden so they don't know what they are getting for Christmas!), and don't forget to get the Anise honey for our Christmas cookies!

3. Go for a train ride today! It may be short, but it will be fun. (We have the option between two trains that run during the holidays.. we wrote short incase we opt for the shorter ride..)

4. Make some gingerbread camel cookies today for giving away at Christmas. Ask Mom what's so special about thee cookies, and be sure to test one after it's cooled! (these are for our edible nativity.. )

5. Enjoy a movie and popcorn at the cinema today, Despereaux is now playing!

6. Take a walk tonight on Victoria Parade and check out the Christmas light displays!

7. Set up the nativities today. Put them all over the house to see no matter which room we're in!

8. Write your Christmas letter today. Everyone has to help for it to be done on time. Don't forget to seal the envelopes.

9. Go mail those Christmas letters today. Walk to the PO & on the way home stop for a treat.

10. Make the annual Christmas ornaments. Use cookie cutters to make extras for giving away. HAVE FUN!

11. Make some peanut butter cookies today. These are also for giving away. Ask Mom what's so special about these cookies too. (also for the edible nativity)

12. Let's go golfing! Take a trip to the mini golf place and enjoy a game with Mom and Dad. Have a GReAT time.

13. Make a Christmas card to mail to Uncle D, Poppy, and a Danica. They LOVE getting mail from you guys.

14. Go watch the parade in town today. don't forget to take the camera!

15. Make a cake and put it in the freezer for christmas day. Do you know who's birthday is getting closer now?

16. Go for a late night drive after tea and check out the lights in Shearwater.

17. Walk down to the beach and have a picnic lunch. Afterwards splash in the water! Maybe you'll even find time to ride your bikes.

18. Let's make ice cream today. What flavor shall we make? Vanilla, chocolate, or mint?

19. Make cinnamon rolls and put them in the freezer for Christmas morning. You better taste one too! (I'll probably make honey based ones too)

20. Let's make some small Christmas trees to decorate the house with.

21. Go watch the parade at Nana's house today and see if you can find Santa at the end.

22. Go check out the Parade at Aunty Adrienne's place, see if you can find anyone you know in the parade!

23. Make the annual Auberger Anise cookies today. Yummy!! Don't forget to save some for Christmas!

24. Mommy will take you Christmas shopping today to pick out a present for Daddy and your brother.

25. Make some Gingerbread boy/girl ornaments today. If you sprinkle them with some cinnamon they will smell super yummy!

26. Make some chocolate covered pretzel rods for giving away at Christmas time. Ask Mom why we're making them.

27. Let's make our own Nativity!

28. Today you can make a kid safe candle to decorate with!

29. Make some garland to decorate the house with. Once they are cut out, decorate them anyway you want!

30. Decorate some ornaments to look just like you and give them to family members.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Okay, so I've completely gone crazy. I hate napkins. Seriously. I NEVER have them in the house, except for birthday parties. I hate paper. I don't, but I do. I have horribly dry skin. ALL. The. Time. When we moved house my hands were so dry touching the boxes was giving me a serious case of the chills. However, I noticed my kids were becoming quite, um.. gross, at the table. Wiping their dirty hands on the table tops (and bottom). I decided not having napkins was LAME.

So, I decided I'd make some. I know, really weird, right? Cloth napkins? Yup. Funny thing is, as a kid I hated cloth napkins! They were always so HUGE, and they didn't seem to be very helpful. I thought, gee, if I make napkins are my kids going to think the same thing?

Then I thought, who says napkins have to be HUGE? Who says they have to be plain and blah? When we were in Launceston this week to pick up my computer (YEAH!!) I ran by Spotlight to pick up some material. I decided if I was going to make my own napkins they were going to be funny and cute all at the same time. Is that possible? We think so.

I grabbed 4 1/2 meters (all most a 1/2 yard) of material. Each one was different. My original idea was going to be to cut the material into about 8 good sized squares, iron a hem in and stitch it up. I ironed the hem into 4 of them and then I thought, Wait, the pattern won't be on both sides (yeah, I know perfectionism.. don't remind me..) so I took a vote to see what the people at the table thought (that means Lawrence!), he agreed that it would be strange with the back looking like the back. So, I "unironed" (is that a word?!) my hem and sewed 2 pieces, right sides together, flipped them right side out, ironed it, and did a top stitch. I only got half the napkins intended, but I figured I can make more. I ended up finding some material at home I'd been saving for something "special" (don't ask me what that is) that worked great for this task.

This means we now have 20 napkins. For a family of four, that probably seems like enough. Funny thing is, my kids think these napkins are so awesome we caught them smearing ice cream on themselves so they could use one. I. Am. Not. Joking. This means I'm going to have to make up more. I don't want to fuss over having enough and if I washed enough today, etc.

We don't have a dryer, so all our laundry is hung out. We like that. In the winter it can be a bit more tough to get everything done, but I'm use to it, and I honestly don't care. That also means I do one load each day, but in the summer I may do a ton at a time if I can. So you see, stressing out over cloth napkins just seems like a complete waste of time.

I figure I'll go back to the shop and pick up some of the great check material. You know, the kind that makes you think summer picnics! It comes in red, green, blue, pink, purple, etc. I figure I'll make some of those the way I had originally planned to make the first ones and the kids could use that kind for lunches. Mind you, they'll probably talk me into something COMPLETELY different that's far more whimsical. Let's face it, I've always got some craft on the table.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dinnertime Funnies..

While eating dinner tonight (a nifty new recipe that we LOVED) we heard a loud crashing sound that seemed to come from the fireplace/chimney. I look around, and the guys were completely oblivious. I'm debating the size of the possible huntsman who'd be crawling around up there making *that* much noise. (Laugh all you want, but we've all ready had to evict one from the rumpus!!) Then I think, right, be serious that's NOT a huntsman.

My next thought is Peter, the tiny bunny who thinks it's his job to scare me half to death when I'm outside hanging up the laundry. He finds it his duty to come in under the fence (adjoining farm) and sniff around, nibble here and there etc. We may have to evict poor Peter because he's coming in where I wanted to plant sunflowers.. Anyway, back to that noise..

So the noise comes again and this time I realize that the dog is missing. I ask Jayden if he let the dog in or not. He insists he did, but the dog is not in his normal "I'm trying not to beg, but I really can't help it" seat. I say, "Are you sure?" "Yup, I'm pretty sure, and it's a truth not a story!" I look around again for the dog, and Morgan says, "Im sure he's in here because I saw him on his bed, unless I was daydreaming!"

Daddy says, "Do you daydream often about the dog?"

"Well, not really. At least I don't think I do, but I'm not sure. What does daydreaming mean?"

Yup, that's pretty much how conversations at the table go.. Or anywhere else for that matter...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stevia CheeseCake

I've been wanting to try out the Stevia Cheesecake recipe I have from the Stevia cookbook by Rita DePuydt. Since my brother had a birthday this week we opted to use this recipe to make a cake in his honor.
The recipe was similar to the one I normally use that requires sugar. I do not normally make a crust, but this recipe called for one. While I did make it this time, I don't know that I'll bother with it again. Personal preference, not taste. I ended up making up the recipe and leaving it over night before cooking it. It was a true accident, but I'll also add that in the Stevia cookbook it's recommended that some recipes are left to sit overnight so that the stevia can work even better. Stevia is a very sweet herb, so letting it sit longer allows things to be sweeter.
Anyway, despite cooking it VERY early yesterday morning and letting it sit in the oven and then in the fridge the rest of the day, we still found it even BETTER today. Don't get me wrong, it was good yesterday, but today was even better. I do think I may try playing with it a tiny bit to see if I can convert the recipe I normally use (family recipe..)


1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs (I used homemade)
2 - 3 T butter (I used 2)
2 - 3 T fruit juice (I used 3 and all I had on hand was grape (purple) juice. Unsweetened..)

Preheat the oven to 300. I threw the graham crackers in my food processor and whirled away. Then I mixed in the rest and patted it into the bottom of the springform pan (I've no idea what size mine is but it calls for an 8-9 inch one). Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.


4 c low fat cottage cheese (I had 1lb and it wasn't enough. It was about 3 3/4 c so I made the rest up in low fat sour cream)
2 T butter, melted
4 eggs
1/4 c honey or maple syrup (Lawrence isn't fond of maple and I had none on hand anyway, so I used a runny honey)
1 t powdered stevia extract (I prefer the Nirvana brand)
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1/4 c wheat flour (I used white because Lawrence isn't fond of the husk in the wheat)
juice of one lemon (3 T. My lemon was just shy..)
grated rind of one lemon (I didn't bother as I didn't want a lemon flavored cheesecake.)

Mix all ingredients in the food processor until nice and smooth. Pour into awaiting springform pan and bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let remain in oven with door CLOSED for 1.5 hours. Chill in fridge. Enjoy!

The book also had a nice strawberry topping, but I had no strawberries and ran out of time to run to the veggie shed for some. Alas.. I'll have to try it with some cherry topping, the gang's favorite!

Happy Birthday Uncle "D"

Happy Birthday Uncle "D"! Okay, so we completely messed up the phone/Skype thing, we'll have to try again. However, take not that you were not forgotten on your birthday (despite the fact that you haven't received your gift.. it is the thought that counts, right?) The boys made these signs, and plan to mail them to you with your birthday card (present comes separately, but no it doesn't require batteries..). Jayden did the top one, Morgan did the bottom one.
Personally I'm not entirely sure what's up with the F, except that with all his missing teeth he says "Birfday" and I think he just misplaced it. Don'tcha just LOVE the spelling of Uncle? (I do!) He even went the length of putting up some string on it so you could hang it up. He was also VERY put out that I didn't know "what kind" of party you were having (You know, Olympics, Panda, Zebra, Arthur, etc..) Be prepared, he's going to ask when we finally catch up!
Jayden had help spelling, but check out those letters! It's harder to see on the picture (you'll notice better when you get the sign), but he drew an entire motley crew of people. Complete with you, himself, and everyone else he could think of. Which of course includes Baby Sam (his youngest cousin here.. don't ask.. they are all into babies lately..).
We didn't eat spaghetti for you like we normally do. We had very spicy Tortilla Pie instead (and the fellow at the grocery store knows and wants the recipe?!?!) No, the boys didn't taste test they had baked potatoes.
We also had birthday cake (and I do believe everyone ate an extra piece for you), not that you'd have wanted it because it was cheesecake, but hey the chocolate cake is for camping! Amazingly enough our cheesecake was sugar free, but I won't bore you with the recipe, I'll just sneak back later to post it!
(Don't ask about the faces.. I must be contemplating my age based on your's!)

Happy Birthday Uncle "D" we miss you and love you. Hope you truly did enjoy yourself, but I have to say.. Did you notice how old you're getting? (I know I'm not going to live that one down next month, but I have to get it in while I can, right??)