Visiting neighbors must be tiresome

The Kid had his morning nap. We had brunch together, played on the floor. Then we went to chat with the neighbors during which time he:

* slapped the dog, got gnarled at,
* chased another dog out into the kitchen, under the table,
* threw a doggie toy out the window,
* climbed onto the sofa, several times,
* walked a little, crawled some more,
* faceplanted, bloodied his lip, cried for about 30 seconds and went on climbing the sofa,
* scooped soil out of a plant pot,
* pushed my hand that was holding a teacup and so I spilled the tea

and probably many other things I don't recollect quite now. I, all the while, nattered away and drank tea.

But what I'm meaning to say here is: we spent there about an hour, tops, but when I brought him back home he went to sleep and has been asleep since.

Being a toddler must be so tiring.

Then and Now

Dang! I was going through my pictures folder when I saw the old photos of our house - the ones our (future) landlord e-mailed when we first came to look at it. Pardon my English, but f*ck me sideways it was bad. Like, really.

I've often thought now how I wish I had photographed it all. Everything. The jungle outside, the scrappy bits of carpet, windows covered in years of cooking grease and spider webs, blotches of... oh, yuk, I'm not gonna go there. I wish I had photos of how bad it was before - just so that I could put them next to photos of what it's like now and... smile.

To be honest with you, I did consider taking photos back when we first moved in - briefly - but the house was such a mess that I just didn't want to... remember any of it. Back then I used to sit on the floor and cry on a, oh, weekly basis. I used to scrub the floor and swear at the windows and burn the carpet and hack the weeds and then sit on the floor and cry. I hated the colours, I hated how cold it was, I hated how filthy my kid got just by crawling around the house. And so for weeks on end I cleaned and cursed and cried.

And maybe if I had known back then that we really are, are!, gonna make this house a home, I would've taken those darn photos and grinned at them, like: "You just wait until I'm done with you!" But I didn't, because I thought it is gonna be like this forever and I wanted to have no memory of that.

Which, of course, didn't turn out to be true. Four months down the track I'm actually enjoying it here and I have time to go do things other than the house and meet up with the girlies and, hell, it's nice here. Nice is say!

And although I know these photos aren't a YoungHouseLove of Christchurch - I'm well aware of that - I still want to share them with you.

My home is not a well styled abode - for several reasons, actually. We do everything on a budget, the leaner the better because it is a rental after all. Our carpets are from TradeMe - got ripped out of a house where owners wanted new ones. Same for the curtains. There's not a single piece of store-bought furniture. One of my favorite blankets, I kid you not, came from a heap of trash that was waiting to be set alight - I washed and aired the hell out of it and now it's beautiful, and staying here. Our rooms are set to have a function, you know, like, for people living here.

And secondly: although I very much enjoy looking at pretty photos of pretty houses taken on pretty, mild-light days with pretty cameras... At home I sort of like the, how do I put it now - worn and used up look we've got.

But long story short: here's a few (=only) photos of what it used to look like, coupled with a few photos of what it's like this morning. (And yes, I know there's a photo of a toilet there, but I had it on the computer and so I'm uploading it here. Ha!)



PS. If The Kid wasn't having a nap, I would've kept that back door open like on the previous photo, but oh well. Bet you didn't even notice, actually.







PPS. Oh, in case you're wondering why I've put our plants up on the toilet thingy - it is because occasionally Molly The Goat gets in the house. After several sessions of cleaning up pulled down plants and dirt from carpets I've simply moved the green stuff (or what's left of it, anyway) into toilet and that's that. Now I only get bananas eaten from the kitchen table - and, of course, I get to scream at Molly The Goat when she does that - but other than that we're cool.

PPPS. Don't know what's the deal with the angle on the next one. Don't ask.




Important moments

Neighbors

Dave's photo above my workspace

Just started walking, like that

I'm still a little bit, like... whoa, I can't believe it's just happened.

My son's 21 months old now, right, and for a long time I've wondered: when will he start walking? I mean, I know some kids start walking at two and Mini Muscles teacher said a long time ago already that crawling is frickin' awesome for babies' brains and is encouraged for as long as possible, but... then, on the other hand, I've had this "He's not walking yet? Really?" from all sorts of people, up to a point where I started telling them myself first, so that it's done and over with. GP was a little surprised, sent us to the pediatrician, pediatrician reckoned everything's fine but booked us in for another visit just in case.

And then today he just... started walking. Just like that.

We were sitting on the floor - me and my husband - just a few feet apart, chilling out talking. The Kid was smooshing around on the floor picking up bits, babbling, crawling in and out of our laps. The Man propped him up, like he often does, The Kid reached out with his arm - like he often does - to grab hold of me before he lets go of The Man and then he just... stepped towards me. Like, on his own.

I was first, like, whoa dude. And then I burst out laughing. "Did he just...?"

"I think so," said The Man.

The Kid tried it again: walked from The Man to me, then from me to him. And then again. And again. It was almost like every time he walked he went a little further and more stable, until 3-4 minutes later he was walking unsupported 7-8 steps at a time.

3-4 minutes earlier he'd never done that before.

Me and The Man were just plain old laughing out loud, continuously. Because, I mean: did he just start walking? Just like that?

Yup, he sure did.

I stood up, grabbed our camera and propped it on our fireguard. No editing, nothing, but the length of this video is pretty much how long it took our kid to go from not walking to doing this.


Man, parenting is just so frickin' awesome. =)

Good morning!




PS. Stacking this will keep me busy for a while. And Blue Gum hasn't even arrived yet!


Maya Thompson is turning the White House gold

There is a mother who lost her son to childhood cancer two years ago. Maya Thompson, maybe you've heard about her? She blogs at http://rockstarronan.com

I've read her blog from time to time, never for a long time or continuously because there is so much heartache and pain in it - and I'm making sure to keep away from that - but I appreciate the passion she's putting in it.

At the moment she is petitioning Barack Obama to light the White House golden for the month of September. Gold is the childhood cancer colour. She wants people to know what a childhood cancer is, and to recognize its early symptoms.

She needs 25 thousand signatures for the petition to go through, and they need to be collected before February 6th or the signature requirement goes up to 100k. I am not a US citizen and so I won't be signing it - otherwise I would - but just in case it helps to spread the word, here it is. Maya Thompson pledging for all she's got.

Here is a short excerpt from one of her recent posts:

I won’t stop posting this petition until it gets the 25k signatures that it needs. This is our only chance. If we don’t get this passed this time, the required signatures goes up to 100k. This is not just another thing of spam that comes your way. Signing this can help this cause. Please. I will do anything. I will shave my fucking head. I will eat worms. I will stand on a street corner and whore myself out, but I don’t think my husband would like that very much. I will jump out of a plane but for those of you that know me, you know I would do that for fun, anyway.

Oh, and in case you don't know about it  yet - Taylor Swift wrote Ronan, Maya's son, a song.


Oh, hi, I'm just walking here


If you're wondering what's that on the kitchen window - it's a goat.

What height is the kitchen window, I hear you ask?

This height.


This is getting nuts.

Win a trip to New Zealand

I'm not on Facebook myself, but if you've got friends or relatives that are wanting to visit New Zealand, might be worth it mentioning this to them.


The best ever omlet

I'm not a wiz when it comes to all things kitchen. In fact, if it weren't for my husband I probably wouldn't cook (much) at all. But as I've watched him work his magic over the years - the best meals often born from the need to clear the fridge of leftovers - it has dawned on me that some of this stuff even I can do.

So this meal has become a sort of a staple in our house: mostly because of the taste (it's good!), partially because of its simplicity (reasonably quick to cook, plus we usually either have the ingredients at hand or can substitute them with something else we've got) and partially because even The Baby eats it (though he's not usually big on eggs). In short: it just works.

So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome...

The Best Ever omlet 
Takes 20 minutes to cook, feeds 3. (Or 4 if you're good at sharing.) (Or 2 if you're hungry.)

Ingredients:


3 eggs
2 spoons of cottage cheese
100 ml of milk
1 cup of rice
2/3 of a cup of (frozen) corn
2 spoons of sweet chili sauce
2 leaves of sushi nori
dollop of soy sauce
100 g of grated cheese
little butter

If you haven't got all the ingredients, scroll down to the bottom of the post where I've gone over what we've used as substitutes when we haven't had everything listed either.

Boil the rice

Pour 1 cup of rice into a little saucepan and cover with about the same amount of water. Set it on medium heat (in my electric-stove-case it would be number 3 or 4) for about 10 minutes, or in other words: by the time you're done mixing the rest of the ingredients it will probably be ready.

Dump (almost) everything else into a mixing bowl

Dump almost everything else I've listed above into a mixing bowl. By "almost everything else" I mean:

3 eggs
2 spoons of cottage cheese
100 ml of milk
2/3 of a cup of (frozen) corn
2 spoons of sweet chili sauce
dollop of soy sauce

FYI, 100 ml of milk is approximately this much:


Cut up sushi nori leaves

I usually roll my leaves into a tube and cut them in triangular-looking bits with kitchen scissors, but in the end it really doesn't matter how you cut yours.


The only warning I have is probably: cut your sushi nori in reasonably small pieces and try not to leave any long stringy-looking bits. Otherwise they're a mess when it comes to eating it afterwards.

Add to the mixture.

Preheat pan

By this time the rice has probably started to swell up - meaning, you can start cooking soon - so turn your stove on high (on my electric stove that is number 6) and let the pan heat up for 2 minutes.

PS. I use a thick cast iron pan which I picked up in a thrift shop for $50 - and if you don't have one, I advise you to do the same. 

You see, I used to have a usual, saucepany-looking pan, but no matter what I did or didn't do, omlets - and everything else - burned in the bottom and for a long time I thought it's my fault for not knowing how to cook properly.

Which is, in hindsight, bulls*it, because once I got this cast iron beauty and Googled how to "season" it, most of what I cook doesn't burn. So here you go.

Add rice to the mixture


Take rice off heat and mix it with the rest of the stuff. It doesn't matter if it's not properly soft yet - it will keep on swelling and absorbing moisture from the omlet itself, so if it looks swollen, stick it in. Stir. Mixture will look something along the lines of this:


Melt butter

Cut a piece of butter and stick it on the saucepan where it'll melt within a minute or so. Eyeballing the size, I'd probably say I've got... 20 grams? 30?



Cook the stuff

As soon as butter has melted, swirl it around the saucepan to cover everything nicely and pour the mixture in.


Turn heat immediately from high to low (from 6 to, say, 2 or 1,5) - the heat willl crisp up the bottom and then the pan will gradually cool down to allow the omlet firm up without burning. Cover with a lid.

Preheat oven, grate the cheese

Turn on the oven on "grill" setting - that is, with only the top element working - and let it heat up. I turn mine to about 175 degrees C (which is about 350 degrees F).

And to fill some time whilst the omlet is cooking, grate cheese to go on top.



Now it's really up to you how much cheese you want and what sort - I usually go with lots and average Colby, Edam or Mild. If I'm feeling stinky I'll dig up some blue cheese. Go nuts if you must! =)

Grill the omlet

After about 7 or 8 minutes the omlet will start firming up on top. If you look under the lid there will still be gooey blobs around the edges, but it will look something along this in the middle:


See? Slightly, slightly cooked in appearance. That's your cue to stick it in the oven under the grill. And after about 4 minutes under the grill it will look more like this:


Cover with cheese, grill

Dump on cheese and stick the omlet in the oven again.


After about 2 minutes the cheese will have melted and browned slightly and, you know what that means?

It's ready! You can eat it!


***

Now for those of you who haven't got everything I've listed as ingredients, here's some things we've used as substitutes over time (though not all at once):

3 eggs can be substituted with...
Sorry, but eggs are really sort of essential here. Next!

2 spoons of cottage cheese can be substituted with...
... sour cream or plain yoghurt if you want to still give your omlet some creaminess. Or simply go without.

100 ml of milk can be substituted with...
... plain yoghurt, probably around 200 ml then. Or simply go without.

1 cup of rice can be substituted with...
... couscous, buckwheat, pasta or breadcrumbs. The latter is especially handy when you've got some old bread that has the consistency of a piece of wood after a week in the cupboard. Stick it in a kitchen towel and then, depending on how hard it is, bang it on the kitchen counter or bring out the hammer. Either way is good.

2/3 of a cup of frozen corn can be substituted with...
... veggie mix which you've probably seen on the pictures already given that I'd run out of corn myself =). All sort of veggies go, really - (cooked) potatoes, gherkins, tomatoes, capsicum - though if you're going for that Asiany taste this omlet tends to have there's really no good substitutes for corn.

2 spoons of sweet chili sauce can be substituted with...
... spices along the lines of coriander, pepper and a little bit of sugar. Or go without entirely.

2 leaves of sushi nori can be substituted with...
Sorry, that's another essential item. If you don't have any, go without, but then it'll simply be a very different tasting omlet. Still edible though!

Dollop of soy sauce can be substituted with...
... a pinch of salt.

Little butter can be substituted with...
... olive oil.

As to cheese, well... You be the judge, but I'd say that running out of cheese is a crime on par with washing new pink shirts alongside husband's work wear - basically, doesn't kill anyone, but it's really not fun for anyone involved.

On the other hand, I'm a cheese addict.

Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah: bon appetit!

Around the Table - Bloggers Connecting

There's a blogging event coming up in Christchurch in April. It's sort of a conference/seminar given that there's workshops and talks n' stuff, but it's also sort of a large scale, pre-organised coffee group since a lot of the time will be spent nattering away, from what I understand looking at their website anyway.

I don't know if I'll be attending yet. I was hoping for something a little more... challenging, I think; more of a seminar and less of a coffee group.

But I'll share their link anyway. It's nice to see an event like that.



Sunday walk on Waibls "track"

A little explanation to why I've written "track", not track - ie what's the deal with quotation marks.

You see, usually when I hear a word track, I picture a (reasonably) well visible path through whatever there is, regardless of the steepness of the slope - or lack thereof. When I hear a word trail, I picture something a little trickier, maybe wading through tall grass or finding my way through tussock, guided by trail markers - metal sticks with reflective tops to them.

In the case of Waibls "track" I'm not sure if it was lack of track or my track finding skills, but soon enough I found myself among tall grass, thistle and thorny bush, wearing shorts and sneakers, and ended up covered in scratches and prickly plants.

But it was so much fun!














Home! Right there, home!

And a little closer... You should just about be able to make out our white garage on the left and green roofs on right.


Lyttelton harbour towards the east.