Monday, July 30, 2012

A new chariot for G.

Recently we made the decision to buy Baby G a new chariot (pram/stroller for those not in the know). We do a fair amount of travel both locally and internationally, and the Cameleon, beautiful though it is, is a huge pram. It takes up a third of our boot and I drive a large car. And the Camy is not a great pram for travelling. It's too heavy to take on a plane and too bulky for Europe (particularly in shops).

We test drove a number of prams and strollers and after lots of discussion, we finally settled on another Bugaboo - this time the Bee +. For us, it had all the things we love about the Camy, but it's smaller (so much smaller), it folds in one piece and it's lighter. We looked at Maclarens, the Phil n Ted's Smart and the Quick Smart Easy Fold (and we came very close to buying that) but one thing in particular tipped us over the edge with the Bee. The fact I would use it at home - particularly when shopping. It would be so much easier popping G into it and whizzing around Harris Farm or Woolies. In the end, for our lifestyle, it would be a more practical purchase.I wouldn't use any of the other prams here - they would be travel prams only.

We ordered it three weeks go and it arrived today, with two different coloured sunshades (limited edition jade and hot pink) and we put it together. Remarkably easy in comparison to the Camy (16 minutes vs 3 hours for the Camy first time round assembly) and the best thing? Georgie loves it! I took her for a walk this afternoon and she seems to be a massive fan.

Fingers crossed she loves it all the way around Europe.

In other news Georgie has two new teeth this week. That takes her to 7 so far. Makes chewing easier, that's for certain!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The end of an era: Goodbye my baby girl...

Today we made a big decision. We decided to stop breastfeeding.

It's been a wonderful, rocky, topsy turvy journey for the both of us. We have shared so much over the last nine and a bit months. In the beginning I would never have imagined I would get this far. Awake at 3am with a screaming hungry baby, raging mastitis and no sleep... Now we have a thriving, happy, healthy little girl. No longer that tiny baby.

But the boobs seem to have lost their appeal. And with your lack of interest, my milk has dried up. Our breastfeeding journey has come to an end, and with that, we have reached a new milestone. You no longer require me for food. You have grown up again, before my very eyes. In some respects I am sad - I treasured those precious moments we shared together. Just the two of us. Even in the middle of the night. You needed your Mama and now... Well, anyone can give you your bottle. So many emotions and mixed feelings about what has happened, my little girl.

After the rocky start we had, I am truly surprised we got this far. As much as I had mixed emotions about continuing to breastfeed after the horrible start we had, you enjoyed it so much I couldn't not continue. But now it's been your choice to wean I feel I have done the best I can to prepare you for what lies ahead. I'm sad that you no longer need me in the same way but there is an incredible sense of freedom for the two of us now. I can leave you without feeling guilty that I take your food with me. And as much as I am sad about one chapter ending, it's the beginning of a new one for the both of us. I can help you foster your independence a little as you grow and thrive.

I love you more than anything, my little one. Today was a big step for us and you continue to astound me with the way you sail though life, every new day bringing a new development and achievement. You are our world and our centre and we love you so very much.

Mumma xx

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Python shoesies

How divine are these shoes?

If you have a size 39 foot, these beauties could be yours. Unfortunately you would also have to live in the UK as they won't ship to Australia but to be honest I'd make that sacrifice to own these gorgeous shoes. I have been eyeing them off for ages but they just don't fit my current lifestyle and I couldn't really justify paying full price for them. And by the time they came on sale my size was gone.

So someone needs to buy them for me. Any takers?

Kitty x

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Georgina: Nine months

My dearest darling daughter,

How much you have grown in the last three months. And we have done so much since our last update. We've had our first overseas trip which went well (although it had it's own challenges) and another trip to Melbourne and Castlemaine to visit your grandparents. You are becoming a regular seasoned traveller and adapt so well to new environments.

You are now 9 months old. Three quarters of a year. I know I say this all the time but how the time has flown. I blink and you grow. Almost overnight. Sometimes actually overnight. Your hair is getting longer and longer and I could almost put it into piggy tails. If only you would sit still to let me...

You continue to astound us with your cheeky personality and your winning smile. And now you have four little teeth that you like to show off at every opportunity with your lovely grin. It's made breastfeeding challenging but we take each day at a time at the moment.

You have such a sunny disposition - it's very unusual for you to be upset, but when you are you let us know. We have survived your first cold - just! We were a horrid snotty mess for almost a week but we came through the other side in one piece. You were very snuggly for a while there and while the cold wasn't fun I took advantage of the cuddles at every opportunity.

Your eating continues to get better and better - you have tried a wide range of foods and have definite likes and dislikes: on the list of loves we have lamb, chicken, sweet potatoes, cheese, yoghurt, eggs and green beans. Cruskits and cream cheese or avocado are a regular favourite of yours and your eyes light up when you see me pull the box out of the cupboard. You also like rice and rissoni as we attempt to put a bit of texture in your meals.You aren't a fan of capsicum and zucchini at this point but we are working on it. You adore feeding yourself and now you have four teeth it's getting easier and easier for you. Mealtimes are less of a chore now for everyone but peekaboo often gets a good workout and at dinner we sometimes have to sing and play music to help things along.

Your biggest achievement in the last few months has definitely been learning to crawl. The day you turned 8 months you went from sitting to zipping around on all fours. You had been threatening to do it for a while and just took off. And you are so pleased with yourself - a smile is never far from your face when you are making your way around under your own steam. Nothing is safe from your grasp - especially not the cats! They are learning that the hard way...

You are also more vocal, our Georgie-girl: you babble non stop to anyone who will listen and have the most fascinating conversations. I'm not sure what about but you are so expressive. I swear you have started to say Daddy but are no closer to uttering the all important Mummy... I look forward to having our little special chats.

You are definitely a reader - your favourite is definitely "Where is the Green Sheep?" by Mem Fox. You are getting really good at turning the pages and giggle uncontrollably at the storyline. I cherish our reading time every day. You love books so much it's gorgeous watching you discover new worlds through stories.

Dearest darling baby girl, I can't believe how our time together is flying. You no longer resemble the baby we brought home nine whole months ago. You have changed so much - have developed the sweetest most happy personality and you love exploring your new world. It's a privilege being your Mumma and every day is exciting for us. I can't wait to see what the next few months brings us.

Happy 9 month birthday our gorgeous baby girl. We love you so very much.

Your Mumma xx

Monday, July 16, 2012

Union Jack

I am so looking forward to our trip this year. It will be a huge challenge for us - 6 weeks in different, non-baby proofed environments with a baby who threatens to walk every day - but the activities we have planned are just so exciting.

The most exciting part for me is going to be London. Not only for the Wedding of the Year, but I just adore the city. We have afternoon tea at Claridges planned as well as a visit to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen's Diamond collection as well as dinner at Dinner. And then there's the shopping...

I do want to pick up a few choice items overseas, but at the moment I am focused on getting a union jack feature piece for our lounge room. It would be a nice memento of the trip I think, and very fitting given the Jubilee year.

Here are a few choice items I have shortlisted:

 This fab bean bag. I love the shape and the depth of colour. Obviously it won't fit in the suitcase as is but it might if I can get it without the beans...

So technically not for the lounge room, but I could wear them in the lounge room and they are very decorative.... But these shoes are great. Love them. And they are Chie Mihara. Win win.

This Jan Constantine cushion. I need more cushions in my life and Jan Constantine makes the best of the best. Or maybe this one by Karen Hilton...?
And whilst this isn't traditional in terms of colour, it's the perfect neutral foil for our lounge room. And everyone loves a stylish rug!

So how are you injecting a little Jubilee into your life?


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Copper pots

You know you're really getting on when you are more excited about buying a copper tarte tartin mold in Paris that shoes.

Tis the truth, however. I'm far more practical in my footwear choices nowadays and having a specific pan to make tarte tatin sounds just fabulous to me.

Not that I won't buy shoes in Europe... I just seem to have lots. That I don't wear already. Impractical too. And I don't have a tartin mold, copper or otherwise.

Now if I could just convince Mr K that I need a copper stockpot as well...

Kitty xx

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Retro Baking: Monte Carlo biscuits

I love a great retro recipe, especially one that improves on the original. The Monte Carlo is a classic. Manufactured by Arnotts since 1926, I never thought it would be something I would actually make. I've made melting moments and shortbread creams, but a Monte Carlo?  It's essentially vanilla cream and jam sandwiched together by two coconutty buttery biscuits. It sounds pretty good to me and I have to admit, the Monte Carlo is usually the first thing that disappears from an Arnotts assortment whenever I am around.

So when I chanced upon a recipe for them in the Sydney Morning Herald, I was intrigued. Can you actually improve upon perfection? Would a homemade version really taste that much better to warrant the effort of making them yourself?

The answer is a resounding yes. These buttery coconut cookies are short and crumbly, the vanilla cream sweet and mellow. The jam provides a hint of tartness, the perfect foil for the rich crumbly biscuit and cream. One is enough but you could easily eat 10. best make them and give them to friends or invite people over for tea and biscuits. They'll be surprised at how good a commercial classic is when it's homemade. I know I was and this will now enter my regular baking repertoire.

Monte Carlos
190g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g brown sugar
1 large egg
150g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
75g dessicated coconut
1/2 cup raspberry jam (I favour Bonne Maman French jam)

For the cream filling
75g butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp milk
190g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar with an electric mixer until just combined. Add egg and beat to combine. Sift flours with bicarb soda and add to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with coconut. Mix well.

Roll two teaspoons of mixture into ovals, place on lined oven trays and flatten slightly with the back of a fork or two fingers, pressing gently on the dough. Allow room for some spreading. Bake for seven minutes to 10 minutes. Remove and cool on trays for a few minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, beat butter, vanilla, milk and icing sugar, in a food processor until fluffy. Place a small amount of raspberry jam on the flat side of one biscuit and spread some icing on the flat side of a similar -sized biscuit. Sandwich biscuits together. Repeat with remaining biscuits. I made about 20 filled biscuits but mine were a little larger than the recipe calls for. Absolutely delicious with a cup of tea and a chat with good friends.

Recipe from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Exploding tulips

As much as I adore this scarf, I'm not sure I could be persuaded to fork out $440 for it (and that's after the generous VAT refund). Plus 30 quid shipping. Almost $500. Gorgeous, divine, stunning though it is...

Anyone seen anything similar locally? Or will it remain on my lust list indefinitely?


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fruit and nut honey oatie bars

I was leafing through my very old handwritten cookery book the other day (back from before the internet spawned a billion recipe websites and these things were freely available) and I came across this recipe. I remember my mother making these for me and my brother and sister when I was younger. It was one of those "food memory" moments - where you can almost taste the memory. I knew I had to try and recreate it as soon as possible. There is something really comforting about an old time recipe, something that is tried and tested. Something that is shared and the results eaten with friends and family.

It is nominally healthy - it could be referred to as muesli slice - if you ignore the butter, the honey, the peanut butter and the sugar.... Well, it contains oats and weet-bix which are good for you!

But most of all it is really delicious and very easy. It's also nice and filling with a cup of tea for an afternoon snack. And super fast for those of who have little time for actual baking, whether you are a stay at home mum or a hard working career girl: you can whip up a yummy homemade treat in just minutes and be the envy of all your colleagues. Even if they are only 9 months old!

Fruit and nut honey oatie bars

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup rice bubbles
3/4 cup dried apples, diced
3/4 cup dried apricots, diced
4 weet-bix, crushed (I used Georgie's baby weet-bix)
1 cup dessicated coconut
3\4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1\2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1\2 cup honey
125g butter

Line a 19X29cm lamington pan with baking paper. Combine oats, rice bubbles, Weet-Bix, coconut and fruit in a large bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Combine sugar, honey, butter and peanut butter in a saucepan, stir constantly over medium heat without boiling, or until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved and all the ingredients melted together.

Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly or until thickens. Be careful not to let it catch on the bottom of the pan.

Stir honey mixture into dry ingredients and press evenly into prepared tin. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then slice into bars. Store in the fridge until you are ready to eat them in an airtight container - shelf like is usually a week but I doubt they'll last that long. They don't around here.

For those looking for a nut free option, I would replace the peanut butter with an additional  1/2 cup butter and a pinch of salt instead to replicate the slightly savoury nature of the peanut butter.

Adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices cookbook.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vanilla risotto and poached cinnamon and vanilla quinces

Comfort food: long winter braises, soups and rice pudding. I've been filling my freezer with the aforementioned soups and stews for days but I haven't had rice pudding in years and on one of the coldest nights I can remember, my soul ached for the sweet creamy comfort of a vanilla scented custardy pudding.

However, I'm not a fan of the baked pudding version (the skin creeps me out) and I didn't want to wait the two hours it inevitably takes to bake a pudding anyway. Plus I didn't want it sitting in my fridge for days on end, tempting and taunting me to sneak spoonfuls every time I opened the door.

Enter vanilla risotto. It's made in a similar way to the regular risotto but with milk rather than wine and stock. It's simple, quicker than a baked pudding and satisfies all those winter cravings for a rich warming something sweet. The recipe below makes enough for two very generous portions and I served it with some cinnamon and vanilla poached quinces (the recipe is here).

If you aren't going to serve this with poached fruit you will need to add some more sugar but because the poaching liquid for the quinces is quite sweet, I made this quite plain.You could also scent this pudding with nutmeg or cinnamon instead of vanilla if you choose.

The measurements are a bit general - I find risotto is more of an art than a science. I have given basic quantities but they are flexible depending on the weather, the level of heat you use and the type and quality of the rice - and how well done you like your rice pudding. If you like the grains falling apart, you'll need more milk and more time. The result is a satisfying, creamy vanilla scented delight that you'll make time and time again. Perfect for satisfying those comfort food cravings on a cold blustery winter's night.

Vanilla Risotto

A knob of butter (about 20g)
100g risotto rice (I used arborio)
800ml milk (I used skim - it's all we had at home)
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
A teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract or 1/4 of a vanilla pod
3 tablespoons cream (optional)

Heat the milk in a small pot until warm and keep it just off the boil while you make your risotto. Melt the knob of butter in another heavy based pot and add the rice, stirring until toasted but not coloured. Start adding the milk, about 150ml at a time, stirring until almost absorbed. Cook until the rice is done - you'll want to take it further than a regular savory risotto but not until the rice is mushy. It took about 35-40 minutes for mine to be done to my satisfaction but it's really personal taste. Remove from the heat and stir through the cream if you want it to be even richer (you don't really need it but it is a yummy addition).

Served with poached fruit.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Silver shiny dresses... Oh so shiny!

I've always been a silver fan - not much into gold. I wear silver (or white gold) jewellery and often find myself gravitating towards the steely shade for accessories and shoes. For me, silver is the ultimate neutral.

And when it comes to clothing, there is nothing better than a sparkly sequined silver dress, and with the weather being so glum here in Sydney, it certainly brightens up the day (or evening, as it were). You'll certainly be a standout, no matter where you choose to drink, dine or dance, in one of these spectacular numbers.

This divine YSL dress could take you from boardroom to bar with ease and grace. Throw a blazer over the top and you have work appropriate attire. Add a pair of sandals and a glamerous evening beckons. And the best news? It's on sale at The Outnet. Just 780 pounds and it could be yours.

I've always been a fan of the beautiful, languid curves of Vivienne Westwood's clothes and this dress is stunning. Just gorgeous. Covered in silver sequins, the draping skims and flatters a woman's curves. It's a delight. Net-a-Porter: 2,626 pounds. Yes, it's pricey, but you'll feel like a queen in all her corseted glory. It would match divinely with a tiara...

Who said you need to reveal lots of skin to be sexy? Pair this high necked beauty with a pair of black pumps and let it speak for itself. Okay, so there isn't much in the way of a back, but from the front, it's demure and elegant. A dress that constantly surprised. 965 pounds from The Outnet and this KaufmanFranco slip is yours.

 Diane Von Fursenburg is no stranger to glamour and with this fabulous frock - an evening take on her ubiquitous wrap dress - she has come up trumps yet again. This liquid silver sheath will shimmer and shine it's way through any occasion. Plus, it's on sale - 511 pounds from Matches Fashion.

Let's look at a more budget friendly option. Isabelle Oliver saw me through many a pregnancy event with her lovely dresses and also makes divine options for the non-pregnant lady. I am very keen on this dress - a little cleavage, a little leg and a whole lot of sparkle. And it's on sale - $290.50 at Isabelle Oliver.  They also do a maternity tunic version which is also currently on sale, for those in the need of such an item.

Are you a fan of silver, or are you more of a golden girl?

Kitty xx