Monday, March 26, 2012

Vive La France

We've spent most of our spare time in the past two weeks experiencing European culture. We've seen the wonderful exhibition of Renaissance paintings from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo (Italy) at the National Galley of Australia. And then there's the ongoing joy of the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival, screening in Canberra this month. So far we've seen 6 films in 9 days and two more films to see this week. I could happily sign up to see all 35 films included in the festival if I could spare the time. Vive La France!

Meanwhile, we've been lucky enough to catch up with "the girls" too. They came for a visit Friday afternoon after a very successful preschool session for Ella (no tears farewelling Mummy and great excitement over the visit of her year three buddy from the primary school). Abi girl has been gaining weight very pleasingly while still sleeping well at night (though much more wakeful during the day now).

We enjoyed another visit from the girls this afternoon. Ella was jumping out of her skin with energy so it was a great excuse to get into the garden........

where Ella role played being a puppy fetching a frisbee(?) for ages, while engaging in some rumbles on the grass with Grandpa.

Abi is exactly 5 weeks old today, very alert and adorable and showing signs of the "milk rash" that all babies get around the 4-7 week mark. She's still her big sister's favourite!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The girls

At the end of the long weekend Ella was most excited about being the proud owner of a brand new pair of purple Converse. They were just so conducive to leaping, running, twirling and then swinging on her play equipment. There's a smile that could soak up all the sadness in the world!

Abigail (now three weeks old) only woke up a little while before we were due to leave. I got to see her in her gorgeous striped Oobi ensemble AND WITH HER EYES OPEN. They are a deep blue colour and starting to really focus on the world around her.

When she is awake that is!

Ella still loves cuddling her baby sister and never misses an opportunity.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's that time again

We're lucky enough to celebrate Canberra's birthday weekend each year with friends at Rosedale - enjoying a wonderful lunch prepared by Chef Jane from Slick Catering and served by the super efficient and friendly Louise. Our lunch features the very best seafood that's found in these clear unspoilt waters of the South Coast.

The drive to the Coast has been very sobering this year. Five fatalities on the King's Highway this weekend (so far). Maxie and Rod only missed the morning's double fatality by a minute or two as they approached the tight turns of that dangerous Clyde Mountain road.

We start at 12.00noon on Sunday with a glass of the obligatory Majella and Chef Jane's appetizers. The sombre mood lifts as we contemplate the pots of cured salmon and lemon sofrito. This year the dishes reflect a Spanish theme.

And those crisp fried balls of Spanish Mangeno cheese and sweet corn topped with roasted peppers are irresistible.

It's traditional to start the feast with fresh Clyde River oysters. This year the flooding rains have caused all the oysters to go into spawning mode. Jane only just managed to source this batch for us. They were collected (and kept alive) before the river flooded, and just beautiful served with the Spanish wine!

The kids enjoyed their usual fried fresh calamari and salad (and hand cut and cooked chips). There were two notable absences this year: Thomas and Maggie (the Jack Russell). Maggie had stayed behind in Canberra to keep Thomas company.

Our lobster is always the highlight of the meal...luscious and moist and tasting intensely of the sea. The mojo verde (green chili and garlic sauce) is my favourite dressing this year but it is also extremely yummy to try the smoked paprika aioli and the Oritz anchovies and sherry dressing too. All this richness is balanced by the generous servings of orange, rocket, olive and fennel salad, the chickpea and roasted pepper salad with hazelnut picada and the potato, oregano, roast garlic and chorizo bake, all served in a paella dish!

It's a perfect afternoon..a cloudless sky and 24oC. Those touches of blue you can see through the leaves of the tree are the ocean. Waves rolling gently and evenly onto the endless sand of Rosedale beach.

There were actually five kookaburras watching us over lunch, sitting on this branch only a few metres from our table. There was also an endless progression of brilliantly coloured king parrots flashing in and out of the spotted gums to feed from the seed that the the L. family leave out for them.

Jane's dessert was a big hit. Our traditional Bombe Alaska was served in individual portions this year.

Preserved figs and rich dark chocolate were the signature flavours in this amazing confection of textures, temperatures and unctuousness. That's a layer of pannetone flavoured with nuts and fig syrup on the base, and hand made caramelised fig ice cream in the centre and a gorgeous fluffy meringue on the outside. That dark rich chocolate sauce (with Marsala) goes beautifully with the preserved figs (originally grown in Louise mother's garden).

All these beautiful dishes are prepared lovingly by Jane and served by Louise - the two wonder women. We wish them all the best in their year of travelling ahead but wonder what we'll do to fill the gap that will become the 2013 Canberra Day weekend.

They leave the Rosedale holiday house kitchen spotless - with all the dishes loaded in the dishwasher. As usual there is no cleaning up for us to do after this amazing feast.

Well done Maxie for taking a photo of us looking quite decent despite the fact we'd had so many glasses of wine.

As usual we end the day with a late afternoon walk along the beach, marvelling at the kids ability to stay in the water so long when it seems so Autumn cool to us.

Thank you Judy and Jurgen for hosting this wonderful event for all of us again.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rain, rain

We've had seven continuous days of no sun with lots of those days marked by heavy rain. Everything we touch around the house feels clammy and we're sick of the smell of paint and the daily clean ups caused by the rain soaked workers on our ensuite reno.

We were looking forward to a day out with "the girls" yesterday but ended up sticking around home because it really was too wet to be out in it.

Abigail spent most of the day asleep with just a few breaks to fill her nappy or fill her tummy.

Ella and I spent a lot of time cooking a slap up afternoon tea......which Granny K was able to enjoy too when she came over. There was obviously enough sugar in the cupcakes for Ella to give us a full scale, half hour dance performance afterwards, with her choice of music, without needing a break at all.

Abigail slept on.

By the end of the day she was wearing one of Ella's tops, reminding me again of how much they're alike at this stage...same hair, mouth and button nose. The shape of the eyes is very similar too, so far.

The pic below is of Ella at 11 days old. The pic above is Abigail at 12 days. Abigail was born around 250grams smaller than Ella, but she looks like she is catching up already.