30 September 2010

My baby is mobile!

Well, Chickie is now in full motion, crawling like a little one possessed with a great desire to see and experience all that is out there. She is also trying to pull to standing on anything that she can, but can't quite make it to full extension yet. This morning we went to Mothers group at the local park (it was the most glorious sunny day here today). Of course, someone dressed Chickie in her usual cute little clothes, today they were all white. Past tense, I don't think any amount of Napisan is ever going to get them white again! Turns out Chickie is no longer content to sit demurely on the blanket ... she crawled everywhere:-  through the wet grass, in the flower beds, the mud. She tried to eat everything she could ... sticks, grass, stones, the other children's food and toys. She licked the grass, all the pram wheels in her vicinity and everyones blankets. Turns out, in addition to being curious, she is in fact quite the hooligan! Chickie took toys off the other kids, pulled their hair, pushed quite a few around and was in general rather boisterous.  I didn't know whether to laugh, be hugely embarrassed at her behaviour or just take her home!  I kept reminding myself that soon all the other little ones will be crawling too and then their mums will be able to relate to my situation (there were quite a few dirty looks my way as Chickie wrestled toys and food off the babies). Needless to say, Chickie has now passed out in her cot and I think mum might need to go have a nap too. Either that or a stiff drink. 
ps: she is ever so cute though!

Just in case you were wondering...

Hi chicklets,

Just in case you've been wondering if I've fallen off the world... haven't, had just forgotten how busy life can be with two little people.  Ill little people.  I'll write soon, couldn't post from Dubai airport as I barely had time to walk the length of the airport before we had to board the next flight (which is good!).

Love the latest posts, they're so interesting :)

Must go, the kids will be home soon and it's raining and cold out so they'll need a warm bath. UK chic walked up to fetch them... we did the grocery shopping this afternoon while they were at day nursery.  Kids hate grocery shopping.

I hear little voices...

29 September 2010

Wanna see my latest Etsy purchases?

Well I haven't received them yet because I only just ordered them yesterday, but I am very excited about them!  Someone commented to me recently that I needed a stitch counter for my crochet so that I didn't have to have random bits of paper lying around the place with little tallies marked on them.  I thought that was a great idea, but it turns out that the kind I pictured in my head are a little bit harder to find than I thought they would be.  Yesterday I did a bit of a search on Etsy and found this...

This is a clip on tally counter that should hopefully take the place of my multiple messy scraps of paper... I'm so excited!  I purchased this from Judyswag's Charming Handmade Goodies.  And while I was there, I couldn't resist these clip on stitch markers...

And then I saw these cute little stitch markers over at Scarymerry's shop and I couldn't resist them either.  These ones pictured are for knitting, but the ones I ordered will have hooks for crochet stitches so that they can be removed easily.

And now that I have purchased all these cool crochet supplies my husband has told me I must stop crocheting because it is hurting my hands too much!  Maybe if I just do a little bit at a time?

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

27 September 2010

Patience is a virtue

I've been reading that Greeks tend to be polychronic, as a society, meaning that they prefer to do many things at once.  They can be easily distracted and subject to numerous interruptions.  Plans are changed often and easily and are not necessarily adhered to.  Time is experienced as much less tangible than monochronic time as in our Western society where time is money and key performance indicators exist to reflect productivity.

It is SO interesting realizing this is the reason they do business so differently, and who's to say it is the wrong way?  Like the Spanish and the MaƱana attitude, it perhaps allows them to live more freely and without the incredible constraints placed on businesses and workers where policy and procedure, along with measured increments of billable time, are the mode of operation.

These are my thoughts anyway, as we wait on our lovely little apartment to be ready.  It is nearing completion, with 26 furniture items delivered from Ikea on Friday afternoon, and a very busy Saturday and Sunday with numerous allen keys and socket wrenches, pictorial instructions and willing helpers, to make it all from boxed flat packed, into real furniture.  To give it life!

Starting out. 

You will see, a certain young man very happy with his new item of furniture - Super high up in the world.

Getting there!

All in all, it has been a much more challenging month than I expected and I'm doing everything I can to maintain my initial positive attitude to our move and our absorption into a different location and culture.  It has been now nearly a month in the hotel and we've been so fortunate to have our lovely friends near by to eat with at times, and to have a little taverna down the road and a very special Italian restaurant in Lavrio. 

 Some lovely signposts that we are in the right place yesterday!  A  naming day celebration here at our hotel with baclava (my favourite) for breakfast, not one but three lovely ladies who came over to ask to hold Noah and take him for little tours to meet people, and at the table where we had breakfast, three wonderful books hiding beneath greek newspapers and magazines;  Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) in English, Winnie the Pooh and 'Guess how much I love you'.  All three, beautiful books which we love, and one in English to read to our boy.  So we felt like that was a pretty nice reminder that we must be in the right place.

Our wee chickadee is coping with it all as though it were the most natural thing in the world to move countries twice so far and now into a new cot and new apartment!  We hope that the electricity will go on this week.  Then, let the nesting begin!

Bookie bird. 

26 September 2010

Sunday Stash #23

I haven't purchased much fabric lately... my husband sort of put the brakes on last time we were home and he saw all the fabric I had been buying online and getting Mum to store for me.  Oops...

But then I just couldn't resist this lovely fabric from Fabricworm...

These are a mixture of Alexander Henry, Kokka, and Heather Ross Far Far Away 2 and a few more...

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

25 September 2010

Cot Bumpsters

Hi all you creative ones!

We have just purchased a new cot and it has rails and things my wee chickadee will not know himself with - no doubt head bumping galore after having virtually lived in a travel cot for the first 6 months of his life.   Which he's loved as it has all sorts of pretty colours and patterns, whereas his new delight from Ikea is wooden and very much unadorned.

So in doing a bit of research I came across these very clever things...

Love the idea  - wondering if this little chick with limited sewing experience, could make them successfully.  I do have a very talented and creative little friend here in Arabella Chickie, so I believe we could make them on our new semi-ok sewing machine we are looking to purchase.

As for me, I've just had 26 items of furniture arrive into an empty apartment so I'm guessing will be working hard with an allen key or three for many days!  Sewing to come.

Anyway, wanted to share them as they seem a brilliant idea.


24 September 2010

Awesome baby travel blanket!

I am in love with this baby travel blanket that Kathy has created over on Merriment Design.  I can't decide if it is because she has used such a cool Matryoshka doll fabric or if it is because the blanket is just so cool with all those 'bells and whistles'.

Look, isn't it gorgeous?!  And the pockets are even perfectly placed to match the fabric!

Kathy has very kindly shared the tutorial for how to make this over here.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

21 September 2010

Packing for London!

Only two more 'sleeps' until I get on the plane to London.  It's all very 'busy-busy' here... which is my excuse for not blogging these past days.  So busy, I've even done the unthinkable and created a 'to-do' list.

I'm looking really forward to seeing all my UK chickadees again, it always feels like forever ago since we saw them last.  We've had a pleasant surprise... my dad has booked a ticket to fly over from Durban in South Africa.  He's never met our littlest boy and has only ever seen our 'big' girl twice, and he's looking really forward to seeing everyone again too.

Amidst all the excitement is the underlying 'angst' of knowing that our big girl is going to be having her tonsils and adenoids out (which is why I'm going over... to help).  I'm sure she'll be just fine.  I've been talking to my Angels and I'm sure they'll arrange that she isn't in pain and recovers quickly. 

By the time I get back our littlest girl will well and truly be on her feet.  She got so excited when she managed to pull herself up on the couch yesterday (she had a little bit of help).  Life is so exciting when you're learning how to do everything.

Now I have to rush... have phone calls to make, washing to iron and packing to do.  I want to get as much done today as possible so I can have a 'goodbye' visit with my daughter and her daughter tomorrow morning.

Speak soon... I'll try to blog in Dubai.  Yes, I'm flying Emirates.

April Blackbird

17 September 2010

It's a Wabbit!

Good guess April Blackbird... it is a rabbit, or sort of.  He looks a little bit like Jar Jar Binks actually.

I had a quick look online for a pdf pattern for a bunny rabbit I could purchase, but couldn't find anything like what I had in mind, so I started with a concept drawing and coloured it in with my copics to help me choose colours...

... assembled my yarn and got started.

This is what happened!

He even has a bunny tail...

And appears to have been accepted by his new owner...

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

15 September 2010

The DIY dish is back!

Season 2 of the DIY Dish has started and they have kicked off the season with a gorgeous little owl pincushion.  I can see so many possibilities with this little guy... Cushions, and embroidery motif, cards etc...

Here is the video...

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

14 September 2010

Any guesses?

What do you think this is going to be?  I'll give you a clue... it's an animal...

Please excuse the blurry picture.  I left my camera at work last night and I couldn't wait another night to sew it together so I took a quick cell phone pic and got started.  I am loving the result!

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

I won some stamps from The Greeting Farm!

We had a bad start to our week today starting with a few things wrong on board and ending with our day off tomorrow being postponed until Wednesday (which really doesn't suit me for provisioning reasons).  Imagine how much brighter my day looked when I wandered over to one of my regular blog reads (Splendid Stamping with the Greeting Farm) and found that I won the soon to be released Miss Anya Lounge stamp set!!!


That totally brightened my day!  Thanks TGF!

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

13 September 2010

Where do the days go?

Hi all, and apologies for the lack of communication!!  Arabella I know I promised to post once a week but honestly, the past month seems to have been sucked up in a big vacuum! I think you can all relate!

Lovely that you (Arabella and Bookie-bird) are back in Lavrio and settling in. Must be wonderful to have each other for company and Bookie-Bird, to be able to go out and explore somewhere new and also settle into your first home in ages. Wonderful stuff!

Well, I don't know what we have been up to, but clearly time has passed. Little Chickie is now 7 months old and more delightful than ever. She is so tall - officially off the growth charts (above 97th percentile). She is super vocal, still in training for the Operatics.  Clearly loves the sound of her own voice, as does her mamma. So cute. Although she has two new favourite sounds which makes her sound decidedly Afrikaans:- 'ugg' and also 'guh', really guttural. I think she knows I don't like those two and keeps repeating them over and over. Chickie is crawling backwards which is a great source of frustration for her ... also likes to practice her crawling in her cot when she should be sleeping, or even whilst sleeping! Hopefully this phase will pass soon as her nights are not always restful as a result. Most exciting though is that she has now dropped her night time feed and on a whole two occasions has managed to go for 11 hours without waking, though most nights we still have to get up and remind her that it's sleep time not crawling time. She is loving her food (smooth no lumps, lumps cause whole meal to get regurgitated, nice). Also insisting on feeding herself now which is so, so messy. I have to keep reminding myself that the mess is my issue not her issue and little Chicks needs to explore, hence let her feed herself then straight to the bath. We've had to put the Bumbo away now Arabella as someone has figured out how to extricate herself, so Chickie now gets strapped into her high chair, tightly.

Arabella you'd be so impressed to know that in a moment of creative madness I bought one of those magazine things 'The Art of Crochet' - you know first issue is only $2.99 and comes with free crochet hook, two balls of wool and DVD. Thereafter subsequent magazines cost you a gazillion dollars but I figure the first one should contain just enough info to satisfy my curiosity. That said, I've yet to open it, but hey, it's there waiting for me!  I also spent about a dozen hours looking at all your fabric sights trying to decide on some fabric for a wall hanging for chickies room. Wow, that's a time waster! So hard to choose, I had a short list and a short, short list. Then in the end I decided to go with stick on wall decals, so gorgeous, then discovered that they are not recommended for cement render which is of course, what we have. Despite that I am currently trialling some to see how long they stay stuck for. One week down the line the sample piece is still firmly attached to wall ... do you think this means it will stay there long term?

I am very proud of myself, having dug deep and found some motivation hidden in the depths within, I joined the little local gym today! It is my intention to loose about a hundred kilos and become fabulously fit, toned and healthy , heck, I might even become a swim suit model at some point in the next few weeks. Seriously though, I thought it was about time I did something serious about getting into some form of semi decent shape again, and reclaim the stomach muscles that I know are hiding beneath the layers of jelly. I begin with a Pilates class tomorrow morning, hopefully it is going to be good, having just committed to a years contract. Maybe I should have tried a class first!   Oh well. My MIL will look after Chickie on a Tue morning so I can do the pilates, then I'm going to try and go either early or late when hubby is home, at least twice more in the week. Mmm, we shall see how this goes!

On an even more exciting note, I have just this afternoon managed to get a cleaner sorted again, he begins Friday. Yay! I have become a slave to the house (actually that is where my time has gone this past month now that I think about it). It seems some days all I do is clean the house. Now, as Arabella knows, I rather like housework, but since Chickie came along, it is increasingly hard to find the time to clean, and I don't want her to remember her early years being all about housework, as fun as that can be!

Anyway, I must go and do something about dinner.Sorry for the poor grammar etc in this blog but I'm multitasking as I write this, and something has to give.

Love to all, happy exploring!

New Mum Chick (NMC)

12 September 2010

Interesting Little Bits of History

My F.S.I.L. sent this to me (favourite sister in law) and thought you might enjoy it!

Interesting History

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery.  If you had to do this to survive you were  "piss poor".

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot... they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain that the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.  Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June.  However, since they were starting to smell a bit.... brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odour.  Hence the custom today of carrying  a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children, last of all the babies.  By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"!

Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw, piled high, with no wooden beams underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.... hence the saying "it's raining cats and dogs".

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.  This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and mice droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.... hence the saying "dirt poor".  The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside.  A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.... hence a "thresh hold".

(Getting an education, aren't you?!)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.  Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.  They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.  They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.  Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.... hence the rhyme: "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old".

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which was quite an occasion.  When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could.... "bring home the bacon".  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat".

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing death by lead poisoning.  This happened most often with tomatoes so, for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle and guests got the top or the.... "upper crust".

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky.  The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.  They would then be assumed dead and prepared for burial.  They would be laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would  gather around, eat and drink and wait to see if they would wake up.... hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started to run out of places to bury people.  So they would dig up coffins and take the bones to a bone-house and re-use the grave.  When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins was found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive.  So they would tie a string to the wrist of the corpse, lead it out through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night.... "the graveyard shift".... to listen for the bell.  Thus, someone could be.... "saved by the bell" or was considered.... "a dead ringer".
Bookie bird 

Have you heard of the crazy new hobbie called Konapun????

I just received an email newsletter from Bon Appetit the other day and they had an article and a video about this strange new craze that has hit Japan (or some people in Japan) that involves 'cooking' fake tiny play food with tiny play utensils and displaying it (for a short time... it doesn't last forever apparently).  

Konapun is apparently a very sophisticated version of play doh made from sodium alginate... You have to watch the video it is so bizarre.  There are even chemicals that are added that give the appearance of oil bubbling when you 'fry' your fake hamburger patties.

Have a look here on the Bon Appetit blog.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

11 September 2010

A little blue bear...

Just before we left Palma I made a little blue bear for my Spanish tutor.  I forgot to share him with you.  I think he looks kind of sad... or hopeful maybe?  I think he will have a good home with Encarni.

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

09 September 2010

Desigual 's Undie Party

That's an amusing way to start my first blog in ages... sorry for the absence, but have been in the process of moving with parents, small boy and our lives in suitcases.  And here we are in Sounio to start with, with a move to Lavrio anticipated very soon when our new little home is signed over!

I'm THAT excited, as it's my first home and opportunity to nest since 2006 when I left Australia and came to Europe for my on-again, off-again seasonal-sometimes, yachting career!  Now altered greatly to a sometimes-helping-with-the-yachting-grocery-unpacking, yachting career but more of a home-based wiping-up-spilled-solids and playing-wit-toys kind of life!  A wonderful one!

I am thrilled to be here.  After so much time anticipating what Lavrio would be like, lots of descriptions and impressions, I can now start to discover for myself.  Arabella tried so hard to give me a realistic idea of what to expect and she has done me a great service.  I was prepared beautifully and think I've been pleasantly surprised by what I've found so far.   I have found it is quaint and has a lot of little stores and restaurants, and of course, I have the free time to keep discovering things that no-one working could ever have the time to do!   I've had a fabulous 12 days with my folks here during which we've wandered, tested coffee spots, taken tentative exploratory drives to locate the local sights and tried to decipher the Greek alphabet.

We found some amazing spots, guided by my friend Arabella - a little beach on one side of the point near the port with little palm frond umbrellas and lovely clear water.  A great supermarket with all kinds of great fresh Greek food, and so much more of other types of supplies, which I so didn't expect.  WONDERFUL Italian Gelato and coffee (should one desire a macchiato) at which the lovely store owners speak Greek, Italian and English - one of whom is even a teacher of Italian should we so desire! Though I think we'll have our work cut out with Greek.

We also discovered an amazing view out over the mountains, the sea and across to Lavrio, Kea and beyond, whilst one one of our aforementioned quests, this time to the Ancient Quarries.  A brilliant  drive on a white stone winding road, edged by the brilliant green of the local pines and lots of spiny bushes, designed to scratch when passing!   The ancient quarries were found, and I think would be worth a hike to, but are not so easy to see from the road.  But the VIEW!  Stunning, windy and wild, with inhospitable 'chicken-wire' bushes and dried thistles atop this little dusty plateau.

The most bemusing thing I found though last week, amongst other things; my Dad's discovery of an Orrefors Crystal and Swarovski jewellery/ crystal store in the back streets, a wonderful paediatrician for our little chick and a most amazing ornate church, was a pet store selling nothing but a couple of birds, but showcasing a strange something  ?????? outside in a cage.  The nearest thing I could find to describe it would be a coatimundi -  - also called a Brazilian weasel or coon cat?  Hmm, either way it was a large, active animal to be in such a small cage out on the footpath each day.  Looking so obviously frustrated and swinging back and forth up to a small ledge and back down.   The folk across the road told me in some confused Greek/English communication that it was not for sale and lived in its cage full time.   Or they may have told me they sell blow-up pools for 6.95.    Why do we do this to animals?

We are currently living in the hospitable Hotel Saron in which we're being looked after beautifully.  It is basic, but has a lovely little balcony overhung with bougainvillea and with a fridge and a recently purchased kettle, not to mention an I-touch and speakers, it is quite good while we wait for our new little home to be ready.  Very friendly Greek ladies to learn more Greek from as they potter in and about the place.  The language may be difficult, but the written word is even more so!

We love being here with our friends and eating good food and drinking wine with them.   How fortunate we are to be able to share this adventure!

Have happy days!


Ingrid's Salmon recipe

I watched with interest as Ingrid prepared this dish for her family...I used to love smoked Salmon, but find that now it mostly has a very strong, artificial flavour.

I can highly recommend Ingrid's version.  It's absolutely delicious and has none of the artificial chemicals to taint it.

Buy a nice piece of fresh Salmon with the skin on one side.  The mixture below is sufficient to prepare a piece weighing approximately 250grams.

Mix together:
2 heaped tablespoons sugar and 1 heaped tablespoon salt

Place your fish, skin down, on a flat glass dish.
Sprinkle with the sugar and salt mixture.  Ensure the entire piece is well coated. Use all the mixture. You don't have to rub it in. 

Seal with Gladwrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Rinse off the sugar and salt mixture.  Pat dry with a clean, dry cloth (a good quality paper towel will do the trick). 

Slice the fish very thinly, at a slight angle.  If there is a visible blood line (which there shouldn't be if you bought a good quality piece), slice it out.  Your cat will enjoy it.

Arrange the slices on a serving platter, drizzle with SUNFLOWER oil (not olive oil, it's too strong) and sprinkle with a little DRIED dill (not fresh,the flavour is overwhelming). 

Once you've eaten this, you will never again eat the stuff we used to buy from the supermarket.

April Blackbird.

08 September 2010

Ingrid's Orange Cake

While we were in Perisher we shared the lodge with Ingrid (from Spain originally) and her family.  Ingrid was a really great cook and kept coming up with all these super easy and very quick recipes. No fuss, no bother.

I thought I'd share her very yummy Orange Cake recipe with you.

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 finely chopped oranges (and their skin!)
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs

Mix well, then add:

2 cups self-raising flour

Pop into a cake tin and bake at 180 degs until cake springs back to the touch.

I think I enjoyed it because the skins give the cake a vague 'tartness'.

April Blackbird

07 September 2010

Baby projects and things...

I recently stumbled across a very interesting website called Prudent Baby.  No, I don't have kids, nor am I pregnant, but so many of my friends do and are that I have been trying to find new and interesting gifts and ideas.  This website is great as it has craft projects to make for babies and young kids, like this awesome sleeping mat... (I want one!)

and this hoop mobile...

as well as great projects for Mums, like these scarfs...

Here is my version of the wrap scarf...

It was a fast and easy pattern to follow.  Now I just need some colder weather to try it out : )

Arabella Chickie in Lavrio, Greece

06 September 2010

Food for thought #5

There's this saying about being 'dealt a hand of cards in life'... can't really remember exactly how it goes or where it comes from, but I know most of us use it (if only in part) quite often.

I've played a few games of Freecell in my time (mostly while I'm talking on the phone) and it never ceases to amuse me how the same 'hand of cards' can be hard to play out one moment, easy as pie the other.

It's just like 'real life' really... the same deck of opportunities and challenges, will play out quite differently at various times of our lives. We can't say it's luck, can we? We'd have to say it's about making the right decisions, at the right time, in the right place.

It's all about how we play the game.

You only 'fail' when you give up trying. So, if at first you don't succeed... hoary old cliche, but so apt.

April Blackbird