Saturday, June 30, 2012

Childhood asthma

flowers in Ellie's land

Our big girl Ellie's asthma is very mild, but when a chest cold gets in there, oy.  She is hacking away and has been for the past hour or so (it's now 2:30am).  The weather has been completely rotten the past few days (extremely hot and stuffy--the air just doesn't seem to move between all these hills), and there have been severe poor air quality alerts for asthma and allergy sufferers.  On top of that, Papa brought home a nasty chest cold from work nearly two weeks ago.  She didn't get it too badly, but try telling that to her poor chest at night.

Unable to sleep, I came down to look up info about air purifiers (as if that would really solve it) and found a link to the 10 worst cities for asthma sufferers on WebMD.  Pittsburgh was #4.

On the list of 10 best cities, the top three were San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

I think I have our solution!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Blue Friday

Finishing out Summer Colours Week is blue.  This was my view three times a day when I dropped the girls off at school in Perth.  Oh, how I miss it.  I appreciated it while I had it.  What a gift.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The perils of nighttime with children

Yesterday was a very long day.  Hubby had an excessive day at work.  Home was full on.  Dinner and bedtime went normally, and the girls were asleep at a usual time (whew!).  Then, I went to run some of the (never-ending) errands the girls hate attending.  I got home at 10pm, my bedtime, wanting nothing more than a sit on the couch and half a glass of wine before a shower and bed.

That's when my four-year-old came downstairs...and refused to sleep ever again.

Fast forward to midnight, when both kids had been awake for over an hour (the second having been woken by the heat, thanks to the ancient air-conditioning), said four-year-old was literally howling in her bed at the idea of sleep, and Mama and Papa were increasingly unamused.  At that time (and again this morning), my mind flashed to this book.
So reassuring to know how popular it is.
We are not alone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pink Wednesday

azaleas in bloom

tickled pink

two girls in pink stripes

With two little girls in the house, photographing pink for Summer Colours Week is remarkably easy.

When kids are quiet...

big backyard

 This morning, the girls headed out into our new big backyard and disappeared into silence.  I know well enough that quiet kids usually mean they are up to something, but I let it go.  They are outside!  They are in our own backyard.  It's a safe neighbourhood.  It's all good, right?


They called me out to view their masterpiece.

proud decorators

They had been busy picking flowers from the garden and decorating a plain bush in the corner of the backyard.  They were so proud of its newfound beauty!  They couldn't wait to do more!

The problem?
We don't have a flower garden.  The neighbour does (sorry, Nancy!).

newly flowered bush

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Yellow Tuesday

This morning, we needed to run errands.  I noticed yellow stripes on the road, yellow lights, yellow flashing hazards, and yellow caution tape in construction zones...none of which I wanted to photograph and share.  So, I searched my flickr pool, and going back over a year, I found this lovely image from the Auckland Botanical Garden, where we visited at the tail end of our Kiwi holiday, waiting out the remaining hours before our return flight to Perth.

in the Auckland botanical garden

I must photograph more yellow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Monday

To further facilitate my unpacking and organising procrastination, I will be participating in Poppytalk's Summer Colours Week (found via Domesticali; thanks, Ali!).  I have done these on my own in the past, and I love how it makes me really notice the little things all around me.

Monday is green.


Strawberry picking In the new house

Interested in joining in?  Details are here.

Or not

living room


guest room/studio

As much as I was prepared to embrace (and Hubby agreed in advance to accept) contentment among the boxes, Hubby just cannot handle it.  I look around and feel amazed at how much we've gotten done in less than a week.  He looks around and is appalled that we have so much left to do after three months of moving already.  We're both "right", but my view yields contentment and moderate satisfaction, whereas his yields frustration and manic unpacking while bemoaning how much stuff we have (for the 10 billionth time).  We agreed this would be a downsizing move and we would do it gradually (I've sorted each box as I've unpacked it) so we would do it right the first time, but that is not to be.  Oh well.  At least the boxes are empty.  Their contents are all over everywhere, but the boxes are empty and will soon disappear from the garage.  That is no small thing. Meanwhile, I continue to run errands to pick up many of the items we had to leave behind in Oz. One simple thing was a new doormat. So help me, I couldn't resist this one:

  new doormat

What is making you smile this week?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Potty mouth

While this moving and transition time has been very stressful, I don't feel particularly tense, angry or stressed right now.  Perhaps I am, because I have noticed I have developed quite the potty mouth lately.  I drop some pretty big, bad words into normal, casual conversation (with adults, not with the kids!), but still....seems a bit extreme, unlike me, and frankly, not very becoming.  Not sure why this is happening, but it seems a recent phenomenon.  I don't want it to become a more permanent habit. 
Has this ever happened to you?  
Suggested cures?

Contentment among the boxes

The usual mania that accompanies a house full of boxes simply isn't present.  It's hot.  The girls are on summer holiday.  When I try to work, they have none of it and we all end up frazzled and grumpy.  However, when I let it be, when I simply clean up what we have out and enjoy our life around the boxes (hey, the kitchen and playroom were done on day one), it's all good.  I haven't seen these things in three months.  It can wait.

What is bringing you contentment right now?

Monday, June 18, 2012

It begins

The doors are opened...

The movers arrived with our container this morning, and our life in Pittsburgh officially begins.  They were so fast and professional about it that six guys unloaded the entire container--that's a standard sized sea freight container, people (huge!)--and were gone again before 2pm.  The process was far less painful than we expected, and the house is actually bigger than it seemed.  The girls are over the moon to see their toys again.  They played non-stop from 1pm until bedtime.

Time to put away the kitchen items...

We are planning to take it easy unpacking everything, focusing on the essentials first (kitchen, playroom and bedrooms) and slowly conquering each space from there.  And it's a good thing we had planned to take it slow...  Hubby started a horrible cough last night, and now he's got himself a nasty fever too.  Poor man.  Welcome to our new home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Alpacas are coming!
Tomorrow morning.

(our packers/movers are coming at long last)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rainy day musing

East Beach walk

We've been in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, for the past week.  This place holds a lot of memories for us--some good, some not so good--but in the end, the pace always tempts us to stretch out some roots and try to stay.  The peacefulness of the beach on a rainy day.  The pelicans dipping gracefully over the water.  The heron sitting patiently in the bayou.  Oh yes.  There's something quite restful about this place...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Favorite cookies

Peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses on top: YUM.
My favorite

These have been one of my favorite cookies since I was little. I remember my mom doling out the little foil parcels of Hershey's kisses, the excitement as we unwrapped them and waited for the cookies to come out of the oven so we could set that kiss on top. Perhaps one or two (or five) kisses found their way into our mouths as the baking went on...bliss.

Now, as an "adult", peanut butter and chocolate? Yes, please! Unless you have a nut allergy, is there anyone who doesn't like these? Who can resist?   I had to make them with my girls, so that's what we did.

My go-to peanut butter cookie recipe is adapted from the Irresistable Peanut Butter Cookies on the Jif website. My changes:
Use real, basic peanut butter (ingredient list should be no more complex than "peanuts, oil", and the oil is optional).
Always bake with butter, because butter is so goooooood (again, watch those ingredients; no additive required).
Sometimes I cut the brown sugar too. The original calls for 1 1/4 cups, which I listed here, but we have used 3/4 cup or even 1/2 cup and no one minds at all (the chocolate keeps them plenty sweet!).

Our favorite peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses on top

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (around 100 grams)
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
bag of Hershey's kisses

Heat oven to 375°F.
Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended.
Add egg. Beat just until blended.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheet.
Bake 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown (don't be tempted to overbake).
While the cookies are baking, it's a good time to unwrap your kisses and line them up like little soldiers on a plate, ready to pop into place.
Cool cookies 1-2 minutes on baking sheet.
Remove cookies to cooling racks.
Place one kiss in the center of each cookie and press down lightly.  Tah-dah!
Let them cool completely if you can stand the wait.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Southern cooking for ladies

Planning your Thanksgiving meal well in advance, you stumble across this recipe for New Turkey Dressing.  Before cooking a new recipe, be certain to read through all instructions so you know what to expect...

Southern cooking for ladies

Recipe from Calling All Cooks, a cookbook published by the Telephone Pioneers of America, Alabama Chapter No. 34 in 1982.

Down South

Hubby had to go to Houston for work this week, so we decided to turn that work trip into a family holiday.  We're spending the week plus the weekends on either side on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  Stephanie had never been here.  Ellie hasn't been here since she was a toddler.  It was time to reintroduce them.

Shrimp season has just reopened in Biloxi.  We kicked off our visit with a ride on a tourist/shrimp boat with a full demonstration of how shrimping happens and all you ever wanted to know about the habits of Gulf Coast shrimp (worth knowing if you take your shrimp seriously, as locals believe you should!).  It was great fun!




Dat's a big shrimp, y'all. (He's a bit too early this year; the big ones aren't supposed to arrive in this area until later in the season)

After the tour, we lunched at the newly reopened McElroy's, a local seafood institution that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The new building regulations made it tough for them to reopen in the harbor, where they always have been, but they are back and open for business.  What a fantastic view.
Biloxi harbor

Summer is here.  Yesterday was one of those classic hot and muggy Southern days, one of those days when you can easily picture Southern ladies reclining and fanning themselves fruitlessly in the midday heat, too hot to move.  The wind drove in from the beach, and it felt like a storm was brewing, though you couldn't see it in the sky.  Naturally, right at the children's bedtime, the storm arrived--a full-fledged nasty thunderstorm complete with a tornado just a few miles away.  I should have taken a picture of the green-yellow light of the sky when a tornado is nearby.  When the sky is that color, you don't need the weatherman to tell you much.  Needless to say, it was a late bedtime for the girls last night, but we all came through safe and sound, only a bit more sleepy for the wear.