30 November 2011

cake days


There's a certain calm that falls upon the owlet nest when the scent of a cake baking in the oven wafts through the air... Everything is ok. What it really means is that mama has time and space to stop and bake. Just because. Or maybe for a special occasion, which is a good thing too. Its a sign that all is right with the world... On Wednesday I baked because Huz officially began his long, long break. And because Nannie came to visit and cake is always great for visitors... But this post isn't about Wednesday's's cake at all. Its about passing on the recipes for two cakes I've blogged recently and you've asked for...

Banana and Maple Syrup First Birthday Cake

We've made this cake for Little Owlet and Tiny Owlet for their first birthdays*. A surefire winner.

125g butter
1/2 cup rapadura
drizzle of maple syrup
2 eggs
2 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
Maple Cream Icing
1 cup cream
1/4 cup maple syrup, or to taste.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place butter and rapadura in a bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add eggs and maple syrup and beat well. Mix bananas, flour and milk into the butter mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 20cm cake tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin.
To make the icing, whip cream until thick and add maple syrup to taste. Spread over cooled cake and decorate with a sprinkling of rapadura, flowers or berries. And maybe a candle.


Apple Berry Spice Cake

We ate this cake when we celebrated Beltane. It's deliciously moist and fruity. Perfect with a cuppa on a late spring/early summer's day.

2 apples cored and sliced
1 cup berries
2 cups wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
Drizzly topping
1 tbsp butter
1tsp honey
1tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 180°C. Keep a few berries and apple rings aside for decorating the top of the cake. Put apples and berries in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup flour and spices and mix lightly to coat the fruit. In a separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, honey and butter. Add the rest of the flour and baking powder to the apples and berries. Fold egg mixture in gently. Spoon into greased and lined 20cm cake tin. Decorate the top with the remaining berries and apple rings. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin for 10 mins then turn onto rack and drizzle with drizzly topping. Serve warm or cool, however long you can wait!

* Tiny's other cake was made entirely from fruit. It took 1 watermelon, 1 rockmelon, 1/2 pineapple, 3 punnets strawberries, 3 kiwifruit, 1/2 punnet blueberries, 2 apples and a bag of grapes. I put fruit on bamboo skewers, sliced and stacked. Simple as that!

28 November 2011

unschool monday :: colouring


Now we've considered ourselves unschoolers for a while... Let go of the school mindset that held our thoughts on what was educational and kept us focused on that... We've come to regard what we do as living. Learning is just one of the natural benefits of living. So we look for ways to enjoy our time together. Then sometimes we marvel at what we've learnt in the process, just as we marvel when Tiny Owlet acquires a new skill... Sometimes we just marvel at how much fun we've had together, following our owlets ideas and our own.


Over the last few rainy days, we've been colouring. Just for fun. As a way of spending time together. We coloured our favourite colouring book, but then Little Owlet came up with an even better idea. Each of us drew a picture. Then we swapped and coloured in another's picture. The owlets are loving playing with colour and loving that their colouring skills (and patience!) are improving... They loved seeing how each of us has a different drawing style. They loved that we could each take a picture and colour it and the picture they could see in their head may be different to the one now on paper. The transformation when a different person added colour was amazing to us all. Best of all, they loved the respect we had for their artwork as we coloured carefully. And they showed our artwork the same respect, so that we were all artists together. And of course, the conversation flowed on a number of interesting and random topics...


What did we learn? Perhaps patience, tolerance, art appreciation, flexibility to change, colour theory, collaboration... And a million other things related to those random conversations we had along the way...

25 November 2011

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by

23 November 2011

ten years...


Once upon a time, I woke up next to my love, knowing that a great party, a beautiful long holiday and the rest of our lives together as a family of our own was about to begin...


Ten years, three children and a significant sleep debt later, Huz and I are looking forward to the second long holiday and the rest of our lives with our beautiful family, living in the place we honeymooned.


Something happened that day ten years ago, under that golden sky and the beautiful rainbow...


We were surrounded by well wishes and love and we were truly blessed. Rainbows have followed us ever since...


Happy anniversary, my love. Thank you for the adventures, smiles, children and rainbows and a beautiful beginning to our tale. xxxx

22 November 2011

waiting for summer...


In three hours, I'll be picking up Huz from work. We'll be smiling and anticipating tomorrow; when summer begins. One hundred days to be spent sleeping, playing, catching up, gardening, painting, kayaking, sorting, celebrating, wandering, reading, sewing... holding hands. It begins with the anniversary of the day when we promised to do that always... This week has been challenging, long and quiet. Long days and long nights of lost sleep. Anticipating. Waiting. Tomorrow we breathe in again...

21 November 2011

unschool monday :: simple lessons


A couple of weeks ago, we were sitting on our favourite hill, having fish and chips for dinner after picking Huz up from work. We were chatting and out of the blue, Big Owlet asked "what's a noun?" We were a bit surprised, because we have no idea where she's even heard of nouns, but there you go... We went on to answer and explain what nouns are and verbs, adverbs and adjectives are too, using examples we could see around us and making up sentences...

She ruminated on it for a couple of weeks, then today we were playing with words on the fridge. As we do from time to time. Big Owlet is teaching Little Owlet how to write words with the single letters and Big Owlet and I play with the words to make sentences. We usually take turns to add words to make the sentence and that's how we rolled today, when Big Owlet said "oh, that's a noun." "Yeah, cool, that's right!" I exclaimed. "Do you remember which is the verb and which is the adjective?" She proceeded to point them out effortlessly and together we pointed out other examples of verbs, nouns and adjectives on the fridge.

Later we picked up Huz, had fish and chips on our favourite hill again, and I told him of our afternoon. Told him of our play with words on the fridge. Marveled at how easily she grasped concepts that I remembered struggling with at school. I remembered reading workbooks and trying to make sense of it all (I can still see the page and me staring at it), and having it only kind of, sort of, stick after weeks of practice... But then today, she showed such a clear understanding after such a short period of time. Really she's been thinking about it every time she reads, but perhaps it stuck so well because she brought the question to us... Another simple lesson for me in trusting her ability to find the questions and our ability to answer them as she needs and that learning really just does fit in with life.

Do have a wander around last week's unschool monday linkups and see life learning happening in other people's nests. I'm still making my way around, but I can see plenty of happy wandering...

15 November 2011

Celebrating Tiny :: part two

My creation

One year ago today, our happy, gentle little soul arrived into my arms. Every moment has been a delight. The joy she's brought to our nest has made all our hearts swell. Even Big Owlet was a little sad and sentimental that our baby has completed her first trip around the sun. Tiny Owlet began the day poking Huz and saying "Dada", then grinning as he sang her "Happy Birthday". Then she opened presents on the very same spot she entered the earth one year ago...

My creation

After honey pikelets, we spent the day with friends at co-op, playing with water and bubbles. And eating cake. Sort of cake. Fruit salad cake, perhaps? I have a friend to thank for the inspiration behind this cake and it was so good to make a cake everyone could eat! It was gone in two minutes. Seriously.

My creation

Then it was home to eat and drink bubble tea with friends, before burying Tiny's placenta. We inspected it thoroughly first, marvelling at the size and colour and the little bag that tiny fit in. It seems almost impossible now! A sprinkling of soil and we planted a mulberry tree on top. It should reach it's full height by the time Tiny Owlet reaches hers :)


Then a spot of cake before bed. There's always room for more cake. This is the same cake we cooked for Little Owlet on her first birthday and Little Owlet was very pleased to help me bake it for Tiny.


Banana & maple syrup cake... yum. Happy Birthday tiny one! xx

Celebrating Tiny :: part one

My creation

A new tradition... Wandering, hunting... Searching for the floral inspiration behind Tiny's middle name. Finding it on our mountain, along with treasure's we've not seen before. And a day to slow down and enjoy following our feet...


13 November 2011

unschool monday :: celebrating the seasons :: beltane


I'm fortunate to have come from a family who celebrates. Any happy point on the calendar was always celebrated when I was growing up, and in style.  Food was an important part of our days, especially the ritual of celebrating the end of the day with a good meal and candles and conversation. It's something Huz and I have taken on happily, and we celebrate anything and everything. Such a great asset to pepper our unschooling days and take note of the seasons and events around us. One thing we've done in recent years is look to the seasons and nature and how other cultures and our ancestors might have celebrated them... Thus, when local children are wandering down the street, Trick or Treating, we are that family again. The ones who celebrate Beltane instead of Halloween. Who leave out offerings for the faeries instead of jack-o-lanterns... Well really, why would you celebrate death, endings and new beginnings where all around you is so fertile and abundant?


Every celebration is an opportunity to learn new things, start new traditions. Have lots of fun. And each time we celebrate, we revisit themes, keeping some traditions and finding new ones, as the owlets understanding of new concepts grows. We've always found the seasons perfect for strewing our paths with activities and concepts throughout our year in a beautiful, circular way...


So for our Betane celebration, we decorated everything in white and red, both symbols of male and female fertility. We filled every vase with flowers from the garden. We lit the fire and burned old paperwork. We placed a round cob of bread on the table, with our red and green salad and dinner... we drank red juice from wine glasses and adorned ourselves in willow wreaths. Beltane is a fantastic celebration of abundance and fertility, known well for rolling and frolicking in the woods, and this was not lost on the owlets who winked at me and Huz and cheered with much woo-hooing... We talked about what we had learned about Beltane, about religion and the changing seasons. We talked of the wonderful summer that lies ahead and our hopes and plans for it. Then we ate cake and danced with our full bellies until darkness fell and owlets headed for bed to dream...


I just wanted to thank all the regular linkup participants on Unschool Mondays. It is a delight to wander around your posts when I have a chance and it's so nice to find inspiration and meet like-minded friends there... Last week I loved reading about art club, a great kids book review resource, spooky stuff, storing art supplies, and thanksgiving preparations. It's well worth going back to last week's post and checking the links!

10 November 2011

my creative space :: softie


A little bedtime buddy for a little buddy of ours... And one for Mirabel too.
An oh-so-simple design, just the right size to cuddle.
With a sleepy smile and star in the pocket, made for wishing...

The owlets have requested one each too, with modifications, of course... Sweet dreams. xx

more spaces here

7 November 2011

unschool monday :: mathletics


In the back of my mind, I have the thought of our next monitoring meeting with the home education advisory council. Although I'd rather not need to see it, I can see that Big Owlet is ticking boxes she's supposed to with literacy and doing it easily and all on her own. Numeracy is a little harder to account for as we don't have lots of evidence of her doing maths. I know she will work on things as she needs to and in her own time, but that's not an enormous help for registration purposes... 

She did go through a phase of sitting down to do a maths workbook, and she enjoyed it for a short while, which made things easy for me when it comes to accounting for her mathematical knowledge. She had a go at the Mathletics computer program which is used in loads of schools and by lots of home educators... But she found it boring. So repetitive! And the concepts didn't seem to lock in her head in a practical sense, although she answered the questions correctly. She was bluffing, as I had often done in my mathematical learning at school. In fact many basic concepts didn't appear to have stuck for her and I'm not sure how many hours of sitting at the computer playing Mathletics would be needed for them to sink in. Odd and even numbers, multiplication, division... She announced that she hated maths and didn't want to talk about it. It was bothering her and she seemed to be needing a nudge. Or perhaps something to encourage her to work with numbers confidently... 


So we asked the gardener to trim the lawn around the pavers out to the clothes line. As one naturally would in this situation. I added a bucket of chalk one day and we had an instant number line. Little Owlet counted pavers over and over, forwards and backwards. Big Owlet counted by twos, odds then evens. She counted by threes, fours, fives, sixes. Then she divided the total to work out how many groups of different numbers fit into it. 

She did it joyfully. And she has continued to most days this week. Odds and evens finally made sense to her, as we discovered on a walk to the rope swing. Then the mathematical concepts she needed to grasp to save and buy the Blythe doll of her dreams made absolute sense to her. Just like that! Little Owlet is loving numbers too. And numeracy is open for discussion in our house again.

4 November 2011

{this moment} :: tuckered out


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

3 November 2011


Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we do it? It's certainly something that keeps me going on the harder days, when there's teeth on the way or a world so exciting it must be navigated via pointing and climbing and grunting from the safety of mama's hip... Yesterday, Tiny gave me one of the most special, simple gifts of all. A hug. She'd been wrestling and fighting in my arms, crying and clawing on the floor, for a couple of days. She's needing to be held, but always moving. Just like when she was newborn. And feeding with the same frequency, as babies do when they are this age and growing and learning so rapidly... I've forgotten to eat most days this week, to the point where I felt tired and unwell. I've let myself feel totally unloved and un-nurtured.

But then, yesterday, in the midst of it all, I cuddled her and told her I loved her. And she cuddled me back. For the first time. Two tiny arms around the back of my neck. One tiny hand patting me, as I do her. Cheeks resting on my shoulder, a happy sigh, and a long moment taken before another owlet distracted us from our cuddle bubble. And, so it seems, she loves me too.