Thursday, 19 January 2017

Rhubarb Relish - On Every Lunch

When we were up at Mum and Dad's last week, our everyday lunch was fresh bread rolls, cold meat and salad.  On the first day Mum insisted I try some new relish she's made, unfortunately she only pressed me once I'd had my roll and I was reluctant, because I am not a huge relish/chutney fan.  I'll eat them, but won't be all out for them.

Rhubarb relish?  Total game changer!  This is my new favourite lunch, pictured above.  And by favourite I mean totally obsessed.  Wholemeal Prista crackers from Aldi, butter, rhubarb relish and Colby cheese (I use a veggie peeler because I like my cheese thinly sliced).  And I am disappointed when this can't be my lunch.  This relish stopped me in my tracks and I insisted on the recipe, because you know, I have a rhubarb plant that is thriving.

I am totally in love with this relish.  Want to know what I'm on about?  Have a go for yourself.  Mum says it's super simple (I'm still enjoying the jar she generously gave me), and since my Mum isn't not prone to long, finickity recipes, you can believe this is super easy and unfiddly.

~ Rhubarb Relish ~

1kg rhubarb, chopped (about 1cm in length)
4 onions, finely chopped
4 cups sugar
10 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup white vinegar

  1. Combine ingredients in a pot and cook for 30 minutes.
  2. Blend if you think the rhubarb is too stringy (I would use a stab blender)
  3. Decant into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
Ta da.  You will need ten thousand rhubarb plants to keep up with the addiction this stuff will birth in you.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

And then the Windows Sparkled

I've just had a whirlwind 24 hours with my parents visiting.  Dad needs to be close to home for the next couple of months, so they came down so he could do some phone repairs for us, because he's very clever with things like that.  We have no clue on earth!  So while Dad fiddled with wires and crawled under the house (he likes that we live on a slight hill, because space!) Mum decided she would clean my windows.

Well.  You will never ever see cleaner, sparklier windows than these.  A little cloudy ammonia, some water, a few swipes and lots of WOW!  So since Mum was cleaning the glass and needed to remove the screens to do those panes I figured I'd clean the screens.  Every time I look near a window, now, all I see is outside.  No dirt.  No dust.  No mould.  Just outside.

My mother is a very funny lady, with a brain for problem-solving.  She happened upon this cleaning method because she was cleaning grout with cloudy ammonia, and she began wondering what it would do for her windows.  Not being one to die wondering, she gave it a go.  And then wanted to bless me with her magic window cleaning potion.  I am definitely the winner.  Her very diplomatic assertion was that cleaning my windows was very satisfying.  I'll bet...some of them were pretty awful.

This is yet another episode in a lifetime of ammonia events for my mother.  I remember, when I was 9yo, and we had not long since moved to Wewak (PNG).  I came home from school one day to find Mum on her hands and knees with a bottle of ammonia and a bread and butter knife, in the kitchen.  She was scraping years of floor polish off the floor boards.  I distinctly remember the acrid stench and that I very quickly left the house and went outside.  But Mum pressed on, because she is not only funny, but also very determined (some call it stubborn, but I think determined is a kinder description to this trait, which she has passed down the line of oldest daughters).  That polish was also embedded with grime and mould, so she did not stop until it was done.  And then she took to caring for that floor properly, until they refinished the floorboards a few years later.

Me?  I'm scared of ammonia!  Hopefully the windows stay shiny for a long, long time!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Parenting and Teaching - Same, Same, But Different

Image Credit
It seems that, not matter how old your kids, or whose kids, or how many kids, most of the conversations I seem to have with kids (at home and at school) follow some pretty narrow and repetitive scripts.

#1  Highlights not Details
I am not a details kind of person.  I just need the general gist of something that takes about 2 minutes - not the half-hour, fine detail version.  The problem is kids don't understand summarising for the main points.  I'm sure my eyes roll back in my head - I know I kind of switch off a bit.

#2  Where did you put it last?
Because children never seem to know where THEY put THEIR stuff.  I sure can't track what they do, especially when there's 20 of them!

#3  What do I get if I find it?
This quickly follows #2, because inevitably said child does not understand the concept of actually lifting things and moving things with their actual hands in order to see if their "something" is hiding beneath all the other rubbish they possess.

#4  I love you - that's why I mix your names up!
This covers a multitude of name-mixing sins.  And I am an expert at it.  For the last week I've just had Dh & Mr Busy at home while the girls have been off housesitting.  Cannot tell you how often Mr Busy gets called his Dad's name.  Which is his middle name, so not such a stretch.  When Dh gets called Mr Busy's such excuses.  I have been known to call a child their sibling's name, when I've never worked with the sibling.  *sigh*

#5  I don't need your help being a grown up
Children don't seem to understand that I lived a whole lot of life, quite successfully, without them telling what to do and how to do it.  At school this is also stated as "I went to Uni for four years to learn to do my job - you have a lot of school to do before you get to take over".

#6  When was the last time your nagging changed my answer?
You know, what they ask the same question a thousand different ways, hoping for a different answer?  My own children have finally figured out this doesn't work.  Well...Mr Busy still tries it.  The kids in my class?  After a year they still had to have this pointed out.

#7  What did I say?
After they've tried about three different ways of asking the same question....

#8  The rules haven't changed!
Because kids seem to think a different location, or a different grown up will change the behaviour expectations.

#9  What did I ask you to do?
Cannot tell you how often children get distracted on the way to complying with a direction or instruction.  Mr Busy used to find it hard because "his teddies were always talking to him" (he was about 4yo).  My 10yo's at school?  They would rather chat or wrestle than remember what they were meant to do.  Or they just weren't tuned in, in the first place.  My baby adults are like "oh, you actually meant it?  Like, now?"

#10  Is this working for you?
In response to inappropriate behaviour choices, the outcome of which means I have to intervene with some stern words, and said child looks totally uncomfortable about being called out on their behaviour.

And of course, often a pointed stare can remind children of the repetitive script they are likely to hear, if I actually have to say words!

What things do you find yourself repeating constantly?

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Fresh Eyes

I began the summer holidays with some stitching, and discovered I couldn't see that well.  Again.  The last time I got my lens prescription updated, stitching was the instigator!  Yesterday I went and picked up my new specs - two for the price of one, thank you very much Spec Savers.

The black will stay at home, the pink will go everywhere else I go.  I have had two sets before and found it very helpful in preventing those forgetful moments, where I neglect to take my glasses with me.  I cannot tell you how often I phone Mr Busy at about 7.30am with a "Can you please find *xyz* and bring it to school with you?" phone call.  He makes an excellent courier, by the way.  His bus arrives at school right as we finish staff devotions so we connect on his way to his classroom and I am reunited with whatever it is I've phoned him to bring.

Glasses and computer cords top the list of things I forget. Once it was earrings.  He thought that was a tad weird, but the girls helped out with that one.

I can now read small print, thread a needle and get that needle in the right spot.  It's meant losing a little distance vision while I'm wearing the glasses - but I can peer over the top to get that!  I cannot tell you how much I leave seeing clearly!!!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

R.I.P Chelsea

I think I may have mentioned that the girls have named their cars.  A trait passed down from my mother, and which skipped a generation!  Miss Sunshine's car was named Chelsea.  Despite not having power windows, she was quite attached to Chelsea.  Until Wednesday.  Chelsea has been sent off to car heaven under some not-so-pleasant circumstances.

As of today, Chelsea has been farewelled with registration and insurance refunds on their way.  Thankfully, Miss Sunshine only has a graze, a bump, and muscle stiffness.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The School Shirt Graveyard

I'm still in the process of tidying up my dining room - I'll post before and after photos when I'm content that I'm done.  It's one of those projects that seems to be best done in little snatches, rather than exhausting myself to get it all done at once.  In the meantime there have been some interesting finds.  Or more accurately, rediscoveries of things that had gone missing.

For example I found the glass confectionary jars given to me by a student at the end of my first teaching job.  I knew they'd come home and then didn't know where I'd put them.  Well...I'm not wondering anymore!  I also went through a bag that came out of the boot of my old car.  I've had my new car for 15 months now. 🙄

Then I unearthed this little pile of school sports shirts.  Our school doesn't have a uniform, except for this one item, to be worn the day the kids do PE and if they are off site for excursions or sports days.  Having had three kids wear these shirts over many years, we have had to enough for each of them to wear one in their current size.  And then as the kids grew they were replaced, and the too-small shirts handed down.  Until finally, Mr Busy, the last one at school, owns one shirt in his current, tall size.  The girls have kept the shirt the each had in Year 12.

The five on this chair have been cleared out of Mr Busy's wardrobe over time.  These are headed for my brother's girls, who also attend Our School, and who both still have many years ahead of them!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Rhubarb Harvest

My lush, full rhubarb plant

Before I began studying and then working full time I used to plant a summer garden - zucchinis, tomatoes, capsicums and beans were all growing nicely about this time of year.  Ahhhh, those were the days!  One day I was lamenting our lack of rhubarb plant to my mother, and what do you know, next time we saw them I was handed a plant from one of Mum's.

I managed to get that thing planted reasonably quickly (thank you Mr Busy!) and then we left it to do its thing.  More than anything I was stunned that it lived.  We are definitely gardeners of the "survival of the fittest" variety.  If anything takes special care it just doesn't survive.  Rhubarb, then, is my kind of plant.  Plant it and off it goes!

So after the OK from Mum, over Christmas, I harvested my rhubarb this week.  All I had to be wary of was making sure I left the new shoots alone.  I can do that!

My rhubarb plant all trimmed

I'm planning rhubarb muffins and apple and rhubarb crumble, using Shauna Niequist's Blueberry crisp recipe (from "Bread and Wine").  Miss Sunshine and Miss Mischief are off housesitting for some friends so I can go ahead and use the ground almonds to my heart's content!

My rhubarb harvest