from little things big things grow

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Daylesford: 24hours + 2yearold

Daylesford, location for romantic weekend getaways, market browsing, antique shopping and fancy food consumption; or family fun time? Totally possible.

During the midst of a Christmas and New Years’ family get together in Victoria my family of three decided to take a trip to Daylesford for a night. We hadn’t been before so my little sister made a things to do list for us, which included the following things:
  • ×          Cafe at Botanic Gardens
  • ×          Ducks at Lake Daylesford
  • ×          Galley Diner, or possibly any other foodie place on this street
  • ×          Daylesford Sunday Market and train ride
  • ×          Mill Market
  • ×          Arse water – pump fresh from a spring

Its always interesting to have people without kids suggest things for you to do when you do have kids. Pre-kid I was particularly naive about these things. My sister's list provided a good starting point, and came with the proviso of perhaps not to take miss two into the Mill Market, unless we were feeling particularly insane. This is my account of what happened in Daylesford over about 24hours with our two year old. You know, in case you are thinking of doing the same thing.

As we all possibly know holidays consist of a few major considerations:
  • ×          Accommodation
  • ×          Transport
  • ×          Food &
  • ×          Activities

For the sake of my mummy brain (which is what we call long term pregnancy brain), and if I am ever to get this zine written, and, let’s be honest, for organisation OCD reasons I will recount the trip according to these.

Accommodation:
If this were to be a romantic getaway with loads of shopping and gastronomic stuffing of faces then the accommodation we selected would have been a bit of a downer. However with miss two year old in tow it was pretty much appropriate. Half hostel, half boarding house the Daylesford Springs Chalet with its mid-century retro furnishings and fish tank suited us to a tee. Our room was plenty spacious and had the all-important feature of a bath and a bed big enough for three. The shared kitchen and lounge allowed us to feel relaxed about excited shrieks and running games. We also made use of the sesame street jig saw puzzles. As far as costs go this was more of a budget accommodation, although comparatively it was more than we would normally spend.



Transport:
You totes need a car to make the vacation at Daylesford work. We managed to do the trip with just the one car, a hatch back even. We did a bit of ferrying about, and dropping off one parent at a park with bub while the other hotfooted it to a local attraction. Or bub and a parent dandering about in the car while another parent hunkered down at the enormous antique market. Parking was never a problem and although the town sprawls a bit the map that the hotel guy marked with all the great things to do paired with our GPS meant we found where we were going relatively easily. As long as the in-car DVD player was operating.
Keeping the car stocked with water and changes of clothes was good because it got pretty bloody hot, and some of the parks and food stops resulted in grubby hands and ice cream/tomato sauce dribbled outfits. We did manage to avoid the use of a pram, and lucky too because all the shopping at the antique outlets and markets meant the boot was filled with printmaking drawers, antique baking trays and Maisy DVDs.

Food:
Are you in for a treat, well you could be if your offspring is amenable.
Upon arrival and booking in, we headed straight to the botanic gardens. We parked at the top of a hill – because this was where the signs led us, and then we strolled in the most picture perfect fashion a family of three can. A parent either side, swinging little miss up high and then back down again. Admiring flowers and reading sign posted botanical names of trees. And then the cafe came into view. Blue skies, red geraniums, glass house roof, grape vines, rusted iron signage. Perfect. We claimed a table under the glass house roofed courtyard. We viewed the menu and made choices, salivating in expectation of our late-morning breakfast. Little miss chose a cake from the glass fronted counter, and with great relief it was served immediately. I was still in the honeymoon stage of reaching Daylesford in one piece. Car rides can be hell. The breakfasts and coffee and kombucha took a little longer to arrive and we had to tag it out. Meaning one parent did some parenting and the other took a mini vacation at the table. A cafe in the middle of a ginormous park which required much exploring, digging up and climbing was not going to hold the attentions of our little miss. Cue epic tantrum. End honeymoon period. Enter reality. However, the wing back chairs nestled beside an enchanting mural created a perfect nursing environment. So much so I have been searching on eBay for a chair like this ever since. We headed back to the accommodation for afternoon naps. Bub and I slept in the pillowy bed and hubby carried out some recon.



The recon served its purpose and hubby took bub to taste the curly fries at Galley Diner: delicious, expensive and served with three sauces. So delicious that bub continued to snack on them an hour later, stone cold. 

Meanwhile I had an iced coffee at the Peppermint Cafe while I was making the most of my solo visit to the Mill Market. I might have had a lamington too. I know I picked a couple of indulgent things. Honestly though, all I can remember is that I had a hard time choosing something from the options and I raised my eyebrow cynically at the huge price tag.

Urban Spoon suggested the Farmers Arms for a family friendly evening meal. They could not have been more right. We were sprung taking a selfie under the pubs signage, and shown to a long table near other families. Colouring pencils and paper were produced for little miss, and she was given as much attention as any other patron. Our meals were enormous, delicious gastro-pub fare. And the range of beers and ciders made us very happy. We did a bit of tagging with trips out to the beer garden to climb the patio umbrellas – yeah, that’s a thing. We finished off with a serve of icecream for the little miss and fielded more enquiries after her well being. Yeah, we loved that place. I think it would be good if you didn’t have kids too; as long as you don’t mind little ones doing frequent circuits of the place and swinging off umbrella cords.



We did breakfast in the shared hotel kitchen – cereal, hot drinks, fruit - I can’t remember. It was quick and messy – like most breakfasts, with some scattering of jigsaw puzzle pieces. But it was for a greater cause – getting to the Sunday Market early with enough food in our tummies so that we wouldn’t get headaches or faint from hunger. My sister had suggested we find the food van selling samosas and fruit juice icypoles. We did and I ate a hearty yet simple samosa, and little miss attempted the fruit juice icypole, but found it too much and carried it, melting until daddy finished it off. A little surprised at the small number of food stands – the samosa/icypole and the sexy sausage van seemed to be it – we made the most of the bakery and chocolate stands to create an improvised chocolate croissant – organic artisan chocolate bar sandwiched in a fresh croissant. Nice. The market was hot and the further we walked along the row the less interesting the stands. The best ones were near the car park, and the more commercial ones were closer to the train station. The trash and treasure was a good range and we bought some excellent clutter for the house and a Pocoyo DVD that has been on high revolution play in the car. It probably wasn’t the best market for a little one, and would have been improved if we were planning on taking the train ride. But I wasn’t convinced about the length of the ride and plus there were other things to do in town. I did use the train station toilets and as a previous rail worker I loved the restorations and the vintage posters.



So, on we went to the park to buy icecreams and feed ducks. The Boathouse café sells some fine icecream and good coffee for parents who need sugar/caffeine fix. It would be wonderful if the café had a little side window for icecreams and coffees, because it was the sort of place that people dress up and escape to. Not wonderful for little ones to swing around poles and wipe sticky fingers on bay windows. Nevertheless the service was charming and I loved my white chocolate and raspberry icecream. Little miss loved her vanilla icecream, and she loved swapping back and forth with me too. We took the icecreams outside to the edge of Lake Daylesford. Little miss shooed the ducks away, and we watched some geese and some swans swim pass. It was too hot to play in the little park there so we drove on to find some natural spring water to pump up and taste.



Activities

During one of my tag offs I spent a good couple of hours wandering the very enormous Mill Market. This being a collection of small shops under the one roof selling antiques, vintage items and second-hand wares, oh and even some new things that didn’t fit any of those categories. After two hours I still hadn’t looked at everything, and was feeling a bit overwhelmed. A café closing call pulled me out of my trance, and I sat down for ten minutes to fuel up for a bit more browsing. This was good because I was able to think over some things I had seen and make buying decisions. I got some lovely items for myself, a new handbag, a pashmina, a vintage sieve, and a much coveted printmakers letterpress tray. I found some items for little miss that we hadn’t packed – a long sleeved tee, two Maisy DVDs, and some more things just because – lacing cards, a Holly Hobbie nursery rhyme book and two miniature baking trays. And nothing for hubby because I have promised to stop cluttering up the house. If we had taken a larger car I would have considered buying some furniture.



On our first night at Daylesford, feeling curious and encouraged by the dry heat, we popped our heads into the Hepburn Bathhouse. It was as beautiful as a modern art gallery, as quiet as a church, as cool as a summer breeze and more expensive than we ever imagined! We did not indulge.

I was able to have my meander through the Mill Market because hubby and bub were doing a park crawl. First the skate park and playground, which is on the way back into town. Apparently bub found the skate park more interesting that the playground. But she is two, so of course playgrounds are a bit beyond her these days. Then when this got boring or too hot perhaps, they made their way to the park at the duck pond. Neither of these has much in the way of shade. They came and found me at the Mill Market and they were sweaty, sticky and happy. My sister was right about taking caution with our two year old in the Mill Market. After a small near miss involving sticky hands and antique hats, hubby removed bub for a photo shoot with the aged metal sculptures outside. I spent a goodly amount paying for my purchases, and felt again for a brief moment like a pre-baby two income couple.



I already covered the market in the food section, but it is a good activity to carry out. Especially if you want to do the Heritage Train Ride. But I didn’t. The one hour return trip sounded more like a punishment than fun family activity, even if toddlers get a ticket for the conductor to punch. Maybe when bub is three, otherwise I’m not sure it would be the ticket getting a punch. Meaning I might be punching a wall after enduring an hour of toddlers running and screaming up and down and up and down a slowly moving train.



On our map there were several little symbols of water pumps – depicting places you could stop and pump up the water from the natural springs. My sister had warned me about the taste. But we did want to tick as many things off the list as possible. And surely this was a family friendly activity if there ever were one.  So we pulled over at one of the signs on road – same symbol as the map – carried our empty water vessels and followed the trail. It was a mix of dry grasses, green trees, stone walls and a dry creek bed; a very pretty backdrop for some family rambling. The two minute walk took us about ten minutes because we were scaling walls, hiding behind trees and taking selfies. The pump stood over a stone well adorned with a very informative sign. The water we pumped out tasted of metal and was slightly fizzy. It was pretty arsey. My tummy reacted badly to all the minerals, but slightly delusional from the heat and the fun I kept drinking it. A little part of me hoped the minerals would do me some good. God knows I could really do with a superpower besides making milk. We scampered across a bridge and back again after it led to a closed off part. There were picnic tables and bins, and it was close to a café so it would make a nice spot for a gathering. Under the trees it wasn't too hot either. This funny little interaction with nature was a highlight of the trip.



Summary:
Trip complete with all family members intact. More clutter in the boot to take home and new DVDs for in-car entertainment. Plus we want to come back one day with the bub and stay a bit longer, so that must mean the trip was a success. Unless it means something else, like I don’t remember it properly.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oceana the mermaid

Sometimes I make things other than cookies. A freebie web softie tutorial + one pair of linen pants, an indie wrap skirt, a tie-die hankie, some satin scraps and car boot sale embroidery threads. With these I made my Skye a christmas present- a little mermaid doll complete with a mirror.

Skye is a huge fan of the kids tv show Ben and Holly's little Kingdom. When she saw the mermaid episode something clicked. Afterwards there was lots of pretend play in the bath and the swimming pool of being a mermaid who was very sad because she has lost her mirror.

One day she grabbed her red ukulele and sat in the middle of my bed. She strummed and sang a little song, "oceenana feel sa-ad, lost her mirror'. I was lost for words, but I did record it. For sure.


It took me a few nights leading up to Christmas to make the little mermaid. I used the gorgeous and easy to follow tute by #weewonderfuls which allowed me to do a lot of hand stitching. I did double the pattern size though. From my fabric stash I found a happy combination of materials to suit the project. Some were old clothes and some fabric remnants. I didn't need to buy anything for this project! My favourite part was embroidering the face but I also quite liked quilting the hair.

I couldn't wait until Christmas to give it to Skye so I gave it to her a few days early. She looked her over and then made her swim around the air. It was an excellent moment.


On reflection this may have been the moment where christmas became about her happy face. I'm trying to recall a christmas carol that has lyrics about this so I can finish on a poignant note. But I can't.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

So very two

Two is an incredible age. 

There is jumping off couches onto backs of unsuspecting parents (and sometimes grandparents). Demanding of quite specific foods; 'bubby want cold strawberries'. And grand statements such as 'I don't like strawberries anymore!'. 



Days are met with unbridled energy, running legs and banging hands, frighteningly sudden shrieks and literal climbing of walls (waterspouts). Those same days are closed with protests, cajoling, endless books, your favourite blanket and of course milk. And collapsing into our beds completely exhausted.

You pry my eyes open in the morning and tell me 'get out of bed now'. I desperately negotiate this with you and somedays we stay in the big bed until 7.30. Such a decent and magical time.

You have your own bed in your own bedroom. You sit in your windowsill and read, watching yourself in the mirror. Performing shows already.

Nursery rhymes are sung with different words - Rocka my baby, up a tree; baa baa black sheep any wool. One for mamaster (that's you - points to daddy) one for dame (that's you mummy), and one for little boy lives down lane; wheels ona bus go roar roar ROAR...

Such magic it is to watch you. Such torture it is to see you grow and know there is no going back. No baby anymore. And yet such pride to see such growth.

You melt my heart with declarations of 'I love you' and 'you are my best friend'. 

Daycare weeks, swimming lessons, and toilet training are all on the horizon. As I think about packing daycare lunch boxes I feel like we have fast forwarded into a future that seemed so distant for so long. And now I want to hold you tight. If only you would stay still...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bakemas 2014


Yesterday, as we all know, was the first of December. And for me this is the first day of Bakemas.

Last year at this time I raided my mums recipe book - the one with all the women's weekly clippings and recipes with annotations. Pink coconut ice, white Christmas, peanut clusters, rum balls, iced gingerbread men and buttery shortbread  - what's not to love about Christmas. Inspired by the nostalgic recipe surfing I went home and made shortbread.

I instagrammed my results and hash tagged it #bakemas.

And as I did I named my new Christmas tradition. Bakemas. For every day of the twelve days of Christmas I would bake one of these Christmas treats.

As I tend to do this time of year I got a bit confused and carried away. As I did not know, and did not ever google, when the twelve days exactly are, I found myself fluctuating between baking everyday and baking weekly. It did get a bit silly  - like being let loose in a virtual Pinterest session. But it mostly wonderful. The final flourish was four mini Toblerone cheesecakes.

It was crazily nostalgic; recreating favourite treats from my childhood, and storing them in tins and TupperwareI remember opening our family fridge as a youngster and peering between  shelves to find a special treat. Christmas visitors would bring tins of biscuits. Mum would bake, or create some divine no-bake confectionery. And I would guzzle.

I hope to find a bit of a balance for this over the coming years. Maybe I'll look up the twelve days. But I would love for my daughter to have lovely memories of Christmas and home baking.

Yesterday for the start of 2014 bakemas I made speculoos spice cookies. Delicious!


Skye was my helping hand.


Today I have made microwave fudge from the internet! I will post a pic on Instagram later - when my helper is having a nap.

Find me on Instagram - search for user sallycar. It's a private account, but if you are a genuine person I'll let you in my secret club.

Merry bakemas.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Days of terror and virtuous muesli

I have just had the most loveliest lay in. Peanut butter filled chocolate, coffee and a River Cottage recipe book for my companions. A heat pack snuggled close. Flannelette sheets, and all the pillows. Best of all - the bed to myself. And on top of all this a bowl of maple toasted muesli with creamy yoghurt - one must be virtuous, yes? And the husband and babe will be back sometime and I will need my strength for then.

I have found a few recipes lend themselves to baking on days of terror. Days when you manage to get in the shower, but must make a decision whether to let your daughter decorate the walls with blue bath crayon as you just go ahead and wash your hair. Days when you are vomited on at 6am and the sheets need changing. Days when a little hand finds you and drags you into the lounge room for yet another session of physical challenge breastfeeding with a bit of pinching off your moles, while watching a program that with a theme song that will earworm you later.

Virtuous home-toasted honey muesli is one of these recipes. And you can eat it together after you have washed the walls, the sheets and hidden the Baby Jake DVDs.

I did the artwork and layout for this on one of the days when all is perfect - i.e. babe has a 3 hour nap.




How it works for me on a day of terror follows. I sneak into the kitchen - perhaps with the aid of ABC4kids, and pull out the big blue bowl. Then I let Skye pull out all the other bowls and try them on as hats. Some on me too. The green one is too small for me, but looks good on her. Plus she likes to say 'green'.

Slowly I pour cups of various dry ingredients into the big blue bowl - which (bless) adheres to the bench with a silicone base ring. Sometimes I swat away the little hand that reaches for the oats or nuts, sometimes I give it a bowl of puffed corn to munch/stomp into the carpet. This process can fill in an hour.

Now chop up the dried fruit. This step involves a knife, but can be circumvented with the use of a food processor, but this then involves blades. Perhaps wait until babe is napping to do this step, or put on the dreaded DVD. Either way you have about 5 minutes to execute cutting and promptly hide knife/blade before the little hand appears again. But that is plenty of time for you - perhaps you will even get the sheets washed in this window of time.

Then the wet mix. The nice parts about this stage are 1. the smell, 2. you can make a cuppa for yourself with the boiled kettle of water, 3. once your pour the wet over the dry mix you can legitimately put this to the side and let it all soak for several hours.

The toasting part may need to wait until babe is really asleep or totally occupied or being looked after by someone else. Depends on how bad the day of terror is. I have found this can still be managed, especially now that my babe can be instructed to 'stand back'.

If you want to do a very quick sort of toasting you can substitute maple syrup - approx 1 cup for the wet mixture. Pour the maple syrup over the dry mix and stir. Then toast in the oven for two or three 5-7minute intervals until a nice golden colour.

Hurrah, you have survived the day of terror and done some 'cook' to boot! You are a supermum and deserve a delicious lay in with chocolate, coffee and books.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baking is my bliss (and a free meal planner template)

Last year I was lamenting how little I was able to bake with baby around. The first year she was barely not in my arms. Now we are settling into a phase where I can manage cooking with my manic toddler. Often she is clambering on me during the process. I stop when I can and kneel on the ground where I serve as a stool for her to reach the counter. She plays with the coffee machine or the toaster. She loves to press the microwave buttons, fish beans out of the coffee grinder, or dip her hands into a sink full of bubbles (who doesn't?).


Baking together

More recently she enjoys climbing on the counter and hiding the remote in the coffee beans.

Fishing for coffee beans

It took me a while, but I see now, she is my little mimic. My daughter instinctively goes to the kitchen to hunt for me. I love making meals for the family. I look through my subscription to Feast magazine and choose recipes that I can replicate. I meal plan, shop at the markets, and I cook. I realised I've become a bit of a baking hound. When I have spare time I bake. When I'm cranky I bake.

The red baron

Today at the beach Skye fell down some concrete steps. She hurt herself pretty badly and it shook me right up. She is fine now, superficially scratched, spirits high as always. I am more shaken than I expected. So, now that she is down for a nap I have made cookies. Of course.

See what I mean. Baking hound. It's my bliss.

I've had four new chocolate chip cookie recipes printed out, ready for trial. It's been a happy little stash of possibility. This time I added notes to them. I fancy I'm becoming a bit of a kitchen nerd! Quaint, eccentric and driven by butter and sugar blends.

Speaking of nerd, I've posted meal planners on here before. I've designed a new one, more comprehensive, and inspired by the meal planning that I need to do for our family now. Dinners and snacks are not enough any more. The more planning the better the mummy/nerd in me says! Breakfast and lunch need columns too! So here is the new one.

Plate du jour (meal of the day) planner.
Right click to save. 

I hope that it can be helpful for you. I rely on it, but don't always stick to it. But those days when using my brain to do anything but drink coffee is impossible, the meal plan really serves its purpose. One day l'll do one with a column for baking. With room for notes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Toddler bake club

I try to get a stool for her and set her up with pouring items at the sink. Some days it works, mostly it doesn't. She loves the new and exciting. The stool is getting old now. Pick me up mummy, she urges with much desperate pointing and noise making. Then you can move me around all the things.

I've dedicated the bottom drawer to her. Filled it with the strange and wonderful. A medley of unwanted cutlery, small toys and objects from the recycling. I probably should top it up again because as I write about it now I realise it will have gotten old for her. The Tupperware drawer is also hers. She has also taken control of the fridge.



The other week we tried something different. She joined me in the kitchen as I started to pour muffin batter into the muffin pan. I showed her what I was doing, and she helped out by pointing to empty holes, which I filled with batter. I marvelled at her. Marvelled at how that had worked without mess or tears.

She helped pop a raspberry on each one. It was all going so merrily. I thought, aha! Here is our thing. We can do this. I can post pics on social media with the best of the mums. Perhaps use a hash tag like toddlerbakeclub or something cleverer.

As I mused away I realised there was more batter than pan space. I got out another one for us to fill. Perhaps I should have stopped there. Because as I started to fill the new tray, my toddler chef started transferring mix from the first tray to the second with her hands. She patted it down, and scooped it. Then she got an idea. She dropped some on the bench and smeared it. Her happy hands had found their thing! Finger painting. With muffin mixture.



At least there were no problems with her eating this finger paint. It cleaned up easily. And I got my photos. I was strangley comforted too, by the sweet comments applauding mess and imperfection.