Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The cleverness of toddlers

We spent quite a bit of Saturday searching for D's phone, which mysteriously disappeared from the bedside table where it had sat overnight. We thought there was a chance Little E might have wandered off with it when she came into our bedroom first thing that morning. We checked all the obvious places, and all the not-so-obvious places. It wasn't anywhere. It had been turned to 'silent' at bedtime, so we couldn't ring it to find it.

Finally on Sunday morning E and D had the following conversation.

D:  E, do you know where Daddy's phone is?
E: I hid it.
D: Where?
E: Under the bed.
D: No you didn't, I checked, it's not there. Show me where?
E: There.

And so it was. Jammed in the corner between the mattress and bed frame. There all along, just waiting for us to ask E where she'd put it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our resident monster

The teething monster has come for a visit. He's not our favourite visitor, even if he does bring a housegift each time he arrives. He also brings weeks worth of finger sucking, dribbling, and night time waking which seem a pretty poor tradeoff for a few lousy teeth. This time he brought molars so he's definitely less than popular. The best you can say for him is that these are the two year old molars* so they'll be the last of his offerings. And after they're in? That'll be it. We'll be done. And he won't be getting a repeat invitation.

* inaptly named, as I discovered after googling, as apparently they can appear any time between 21 and 33 months. Little E is 23 months so they're quite early for her.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 reading challenge: 'The Golden Day' by Ursula Dubosarsky

I listed this book in the "crime/mystery fiction" genre of my 2012 reading challenge and I think I may have unintentionally cheated. It certainly isn't a cheap page turning paperback mystery, although the plot is centred around a mystery.

Set in 1960s Sydney in an all girls private school, it tells the story of a class of 11 year olds who go on an excursion with their teacher, only to have their teacher vanish and not return.

Although the content is dark and the mood sombre it's very readable; I spent about an hour on it whilst Little E was having her lunch time nap and finished it that night. In a guest post at Kids Book Review, Ursula Dubosarsky wrote that the novel was partly inspired by a painting she saw the National Gallery in Canberra, Floating Schoolgirl: "It’s a painting of a surreal schoolgirl in hat and tunic floating above the city in the darkness - the flying child may be frightened, but she’s also brimming with the joy of a secret life."

Prior to reading this book the only thing of Dubosarsky's I had come across was her picture book The Terrible Plop which is funny and clever and gets a regular workout at our place. Impressed by her versatility, I then picked up another of her "young adult" novels The Red Shoe. I preferred The Golden Day but recommend both.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 reading challenge: Manhattan Dreaming by Anita Heiss

This is the first of my reviews for my 2012 reading challenge. I actually read two books from my list in January but didn't get around to reviewing them.

I really liked the idea of this book. The first quarter/third is set in Canberra/Golbourn and it's always interesting to read a contemporary description of familiar places. The protagonist is a female Aboriginal art curator who works at a gallery in Canberra and there's certainly not too many of them in fiction (and probably not in real life either!) The next setting is New York City, and one of the aspects I enjoyed most was getting to voyeuristically experience living there.

However. For me at least, this turned out to be a poor execution of a bunch of good ideas. I didn't think the writing was particularly skilful; not enough of the "show don't tell" - I found the style stilted and everything over-explained. There was a supposed twist at the end of the book which I thought was pretty obvious.

The protagonist just about irritated me to tears. Other than the fact she was an educated, succesful Aboriginal woman doing an interesting, professional job there wasn't much about her that I liked. I couldn't stand that her friends called her "Loz" as a nickname for "Lauren." I thought the way she behaved towards her boyfriend was entirely pathetic (I do realise that was sort of the point of the book, that she only went to NYC as a means of getting over/escaping from the boyfriend, but I still found it intensely annoying).

Other good things I can say about it is that it's a light, easy read. It definitely fits into the romantic fiction category, which was always going to be a challenge for me to enjoy. Others might not have the same issue I did with the protagnoist. That being said, it annoyed me sufficiently that if it hadn't been a book on my list I don't think I'd have finished it.

So not a very positive review for my first book! Fingers crossed the next ones will be better.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: grilled vegetable pasta salad

This was a mish-mash of various googled recipes. These ingredients made enough for two adults:

Half a bag of pasta swirls
Handful of mushrooms, sliced
One large spring onion, finely chopped
A bunch of asparagus, cut into pieces
Half a red and half a green capsicum
Half a punnet of cherry tomatoes
Quarter of a zucchini, finely sliced
Handful of basil, shredded
Salad dressing (olive oil, vinegar, teaspoon of mustard, crushed clove of garlic, in jar, shaken)

1. Put the pasta on to cook.

2. Fry the mushrooms and spring onion together with some garlic in olive oil until the mushrooms are cooked.

3. Grill the zucchini until soft and grill the capsicum until blackened. I grilled the zucchini in a frypan and blackened the capsicum directly over the stove flame which was a bit of a pain but effective. You could also do both jobs at once on the barbeque but I couldn't be bothered turning it on. Run the capsicum under cold water, then rub the skin off and finely slice the flesh.

4. Throw the cherry tomatoes whole into a dry frypan until they get a few brown/black spots and soften. Then cut them in half. 

5. Lightly steam/boil/microwave the asparagus. It occurs to me now that it might have been worth turning the barbeque on as I could have done the asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes on it as well as the capsicum and zucchini, although I think you would need to be careful not to burn/overcook various components.

6. Throw everything together in a big bowl, including the salad dressing and basil, stir well, serve.

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