Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maisy Hou Là!

We are big fans of Maisy Mouse in this house, and have been since my mum gave a not-so-big Big Bro a present of Maisy's Fire Engine. She's a simple, brightly painted character created who, together with her menagerie of friends, have adventures doing ordinary things that are recognisable by toddlers- vacuuming, visiting the library and driving all manner of vehicles to name just a few. Maisy was originally a book character (by Lucy Cousins) whose popularity has led to a range of spin off products including animations. Big Bro loves the 5 minute episodes, and so do I: Maisy and her friends are always polite and helpful to each other and generally happy, and their adventures are short and easy to follow.

I won't dwell on the background, but recently Big Bro has related to a particular Maisy animation episode, "Oops" (I haven't seen a book version). The English version isn't available on YouTube, but somehow the French version- "Mimi Hou Là!" has escaped the copyright police, and the pictures tell the story if your French, like mine, isn't up to preschool level!

Thankfully Big Bro has been quick to learn how to avoid "Hou Là" incidents (so far!), but like Cyril the Squirrel, sometimes a bit of nagging is in order...

The colourful Maisy illustrations are also enjoyed by Little Bro, so they are a great book for the boys and I to all enjoy together. Even though I can recite many of the books, I think I'll be a bit sad on the day that the boys consider themselves too old for Maisy.

In the meantime, Vive la Souris Maisy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New plot on the block

I'm always wanting more space to plant vegies. Our garden has brick-and-mortar edging and paved areas put in by the previous owners, so it's hard to adjust the size of the garden beds. And despite all the talk in the blogosphere about the "green cancer" of lawns in gardens, B and I like to have a grassy patch at home for the boys to run around on. So I was quite pleased to finally turn my thoughts into action and put some large pots in an unused corner 10 days ago.

They're on a rarely-used rear driveway behind the garage, so it is not an area we would permanently convert to garden, but it's a good addition to the regular beds. The fence faces North, but is shaded in the afternoon by the garage, which I hope will reduce overheating in summer.

Big Bro was thrilled to have the chance to do some "seeding" and watering, and has proudly shown off "his" plot to visitors. We planted some strawberries and lettuce seedlings around the corners, radish and carrot seeds in the middle (I'm hoping that the muncher won't find them) and climbing beans at the back; I'll put some lattice up on the fence for the climbers. On the far right is my out-of-season feral tomato that was evicted from the mini-greenhouse to make room for seedlings.

And who says you can't have fun planting radishes?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two steps forward, two steps back

I'm too sad to post a photo...
But remember my two Minnesota Mini Melons that germinated a week ago in the mini greenhouse?
They had opened out into two nice pairs of cotyledons... two nice, crisp, juicy cotyledons, until my garden's Something (I suspect a mouse in this case) had another attack of the munchies, and left me with two cleanly cut, rapidly wilting stems. Strangely, but thankfully, the zucchini was spared. Needless to say, it has been drenched in all manner of smelly and embittering potions and moved to a higher shelf.


On a brighter note, the silver lining is that it makes another chance for Big Bro to do "more seeding", as per his daily requests.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Grand Final Day!

It was the Australian Football League Grand Final today. We had friends over to watch it with us and my mum, and celebrated my mum's recent birthday at the same time. Big Bro was very excited to celebrate a birthday, and thrilled with my suggestion that we make a cake "just like Maisy" (if Maisy does it, it must be cool!). He didn't have the sequence of events quite right so as we started to measure the ingredients (recipe below) I was nagged with "I want put in candles now... I want to make icing now..." but eventually we managed to get things worked out.

Because of the event, I wanted to make a cake that fitted with the football theme. My initial plan was to make a football-shaped cake, but then a friend said "why not a football ground....?" and had lots of suggestions for how to decorate it- right through to how to make the MCG light towers! The two teams' colours were navy and white (Geelong) and red, white and black (St Kilda), which aren't great colours for making appetizing icing, but which could be made with blueberries, raspberries and a few dabs of white and dark chocolate.

So this was what I ended up with:

Very rough, but recognizable as a football ground with berry players and a banner. (For those who aren't familiar with AFL, at the start of each game the team runs through a banner with an inspirational message made by the supporters.)

It was a fun day- the match was neck-and-neck right up to the final siren, the company and food were good and the kids played happily. And who knows, next year I might be able to make a yellow and black cake?

Eggless Chocolate Cake recipe
Our friends can't eat eggs, so we made this egg-free chocolate cake from a Bill Granger columnin the Sydney Morning Herald a few years back (isn't Google great at finding obscure things?):

2¼ cups plain flour, sifted
¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
175g unsalted butter, melted
250mL milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar

The instructions are so simple!
Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease two 20cm cake tins and line with baking paper.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, pour into the prepared tins and cook for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes (important! I forgot to do this and one cake broke) then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Icing- beat 200g melted (white) chocolate into 200g softened butter, then beat in 2 cups icing sugar mixture and 1 tsp vanilla (and colour if required).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Consuming Passions' Bean Feast

Today was the day- the first broad bean harvest! I limited my picking to beans that were my thumb-width or more, and came up with 300g podded weight. Which isn't all the much when 200g of that is pod!

On weeknights the boys eat dinner before B and I, so they were the first to sample the crop- I pulled out the smallest (pea-sized) beans for them and steamed them with their other vegies. There were no complaints, which for Big Bro is a seal of approval when faced with a non-pea green vegetable (or maybe he thought they were mutant peas?)

The remainder were kept for the adults' sitting, and I made my all-time favourite broad bean dish, Bean Feast from Consuming Passions. Yes, Consuming Passions with Ian Parmenter*- that 90s show with 5 minute recipe segments and the zany presenter.
This was one of the first cooking shows that caught my interest and over the years I accumulated six of his excellent (but terribly indexed!) books which have given me many of my regularly used recipes.**

Bean Feast is one of these favourites.

1kg broad beans in their pods (I used only 300g plus four snap peas)
450g dried egg noodles (I used fettucine)
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (I actually used 5 spring onions as my "brand new" garlic turned out to have sprouted...)
4 Tbs stock
~2Tbs sweet chilli sauce (to taste)
1 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

Pod the beans- for home-grown beans don't bother removing the "skin" from the bean, and cook in unsalted water until tender (time will depend on the size of the beans and how cooked you like them). At the same time, cook the pasta in salted water. Drain both the beans and the pasta.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the garlic over low-medium heat to soften. Add the stock and cook until volume is reduced to 1/3 of the original. Stir in the chilli sauce, pasta, beans and parmesan and serve.

Delicious and too easy!

* For fans of Consuming Passions there is an interesting transcript of a biographical interview with Ian Parmenter on Talking Heads.
**The ABC still maintains Consuming Passions' website which has an oddly incomplete archive of recipes from 5 of the 10 series.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another iris

Since my flashback post on irises, we've had a new one bloom in the garden. The bud was yellow, but it has opened out to a pale blue with yellow highlights. To my amateur eye, it's fancy and fascinating!

Fringe vegie gardening

Vegie gardening is definitely in these days. A freshly renovated house near us sold a few weeks ago, and I was impressed that the owners had bothered to put in a vegie patch in their made-to-sell garden, and that furthermore the agents considered it to be such an asset that it was mentioned in the display board out front. But when more than one person discussing this place's sale mentioned the "huge, fantastic vegie patch", it became evident that the seller and the agent knew what they were doing.

Away from renovated houses, you never know where you'll come across a vegie patch these days. Last weekend we visited the Oasis Bakery (which sells many nice things but not couscousierres, by the bye) and there in front of our car in an otherwise bog-standard carpark, was this...

Broad beans, rainbow chard, last year's capsicum, a brassica- I would love to know who planted this and how long it has gone on for!

Meanwhile, while some people put vegetables in unlikely spots, sometimes the vegetables put themselves there. This is a self-seeded lettuce that has lodged itself about a metre up a local fence post.
Don't let anyone tell me they don't have the space or the ability to grow their own vegetables!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Freesias abroad

Our freesias have been going strong, but I wanted to share a couple of photos of other people's that I've taken while out and about...

I've been spotting a whole range of naturalised freesias popping up from lawns and nature strips:
I'd love to be able to work naturalised bulbs into our lawns. On a large scale- bigger than I could do- the effect is stunning. The best example I've seen, in my limited travels, has been the purple fields of crocuses on the Cambridge Backs. I don't have my photos at hand, but there are plenty of better ones in Google Images.

I'm always impressed by bulbs' survival abilities. These brilliant red freesias are in a very neglected garden:

The yellow amongst the reds reminded me of a Ken Duncan tulip photo which has been made into one of those pithy inspirational posters:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Okazaki Strategies for Babies

Little Bro decided to crawl on Saturday. There were three knee-shuffling steps, so we declared him a crawler. It took until Monday for him to realise that crawling is a good way to get to objects of interest, especially when noone appears ready to bring them to you. He is gradually extending his range, and will crawl to objects a metre or two away, but no further. It’s interesting to watch- to me it’s so clear that if you can crawl two metres, then to reach an object four metres away requires two sets of two metre crawls, yet for Little Bro it appears (as far as I can tell, which isn't far) that things are either “Within Reach”-less than two metres away- or “Out Of Reach”- more than two metre away- and if it’s Out Of Reach then there is no point in wasting energy trying to reach them.

Pondering this apparent mindset reminded me of a story a colleague told me a few years back, of an important discovery about how DNA (genetic material) is copied in cells.

In the 1960s, many researchers around the world were racing against each other to find the answer to a particular question on the mechanics of how DNA is copied. This achievement was so important that it would bring the successful researcher fame, fortune and scientific immortality. They all realised that, using the technology of the day, the breakthrough would come from an experiment conducted not on the scale of a single test tube, but on the scale of thousands of test tubes.

Most of the research groups set about trying to conduct one huge experiment, thousands of times bigger than they had ever done before, in order to reach the answer. However, Reiji and Tsuneko Okazaki, a husband and wife team in Japan, took a different approach. They conducted the same small experiment thousands of times, eventually obtaining enough material with which they could reveal the question’s answer (and for their efforts there is a molecule called the “Okazaki Fragment”). *

Watching Little Bro crawl, I waiting for him to make the crawling breakthrough equivalent to the Okazakis’ experimental strategy: that a journey can be taken as a series of small stages, the sum of which can be large, but each of which is achievable.

And I guess it’s a mindset that can be applied to so many aspects of life (or science): a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Or a few knee shuffles when you’re only 9 months old.

*Unfortunately I can’t find anything on the internet to corroborate or refute this story: most of the information about the discovery is purely method-based or has a very limited biography of the Okazakis. Either way, it's a good story to illustrate the benefits of lateral thinking.

For those with an interest in scientific history there is, however, a wonderful quote about the announcement of the discovery at a Cold Spring Harbor Lab Symposium:

"Okazaki was able to sit back and allow others to toss flowers into his lap through the succeeding days, for there were several confirmations [of his ideas]."

Don’t we all want our presentations to be received this way?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Woo hoo 2!

Every successful seed germination gives me a small thrill, especially at this early stage of the season when I am impatient and anxious about whether I have used the right medium, watered too much or too little, used seeds that are too old, planted too deep.....

So here are two tomatoes:
And two melons and a zucchini:

Of course they have a long way to go before I can declare success or failure, but it's good to get out of the starting block!

Meanwhile, at the other end of the continuum, we are getting oh-so-close to our first broadbean harvest. The recent warm wet weather has pushed the pods from being Little Bro-finger size through to bigger-than-Dada-finger size in only a week. Big Bro has been nagging me to pick the pods, so I have promised we will when we can count 20 that are of an acceptable size. Any day now, I hope...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kids in the kitchen- atypical chocolate mousse

A few months ago, our serious foodie friend made some seriously good chocolate mousse, which was a huge hit with Big Bro. So when B suggested that we could make some mousse of our own, Big Bro was very excited.

Recently, B and I have been attempting restraint in the sweet treat department in a bid to reclaim our waistlines of yesteryear. This means I haven't made chocolate mousse for years, but my memories were of double boilers, careful combining of egg yolks to avoid splitting, and the crucial folding of the custard into the beaten egg whites to generate a smooth, frothy mix. I was not convinced that it would be a relaxing afternoon in the kitchen with a toddler.

Then I remembered a recipe from Nigella Express called "Instant Chocolate Mousse" which boasted "no yolks, no whites, no whisking, no waiting". It wasn't "real" chocolate mousse (hence my version of the name), but as far as Big Bro was concerned, it would be real enough, and more importantly, it was a forgiving enough recipe that he could be involved with most of the steps.

One novelty with this recipe was that there is a YouTube clip of Nigella's version, so in addition to reading the printed version, we watched Nigella effortlessly whip it up as part of "30 minute dinner party preparations". Big Bro found the book more captivating than the movie (isn't that always the case?); in particular, he wasn't swayed by Nigella's batting eyelids or whatever it is that people drool about that isn't her food.

As you'll see, we didn't quite stick to the original recipe, but adaptability is a useful skill when cooking with little people...

Nigella's Atypical Chocolate Mousse

150g marshmallows
250g dark chocolate
50g butter
60mL hot water
300mL double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
(all measured by Big Bro, who is starting to get the idea of scales)

Nigella had sped her recipe up with the use of mini marshmallows and chocolate buttons. I hadn't been able to find these when I was shopping at Aldi, so instead I had a good excuse to use my favourite kitchen implement, the mezzaluna, to chop in true Nigella style.

I melted the chocolate, marshmallows and butter together in the hot water over low heat. Big Bro was very disappointed that I wouldn't let him stir the pan on the stove, so I quickly thought up a "very important" job for him: arraying the (plastic) glasses to receive the mousse.

Being busy at the stove, I didn't notice that, having done the job as requested, Big Bro decided there was time to try a different version....

... and perhaps the whole recipe could be sped up if the glasses were just mixed with everything else?

Once the chocolate-marshmallow-butter mix was melted, I set it aside to cool and we got back to the toddler-accessible tasks.

The cream was whipped (mixer operated by Big Bro), and then I decided to see whether a toddler was up to the task of folding the cream into the melted ingredients. This proved to be a bit much, and we were faced with a thick, rich chocolate custard. So I crossed my fingers, and we re-whipped it in the mixer...

.... and like magic, we were back to fluffy mousse. Real chocolate mousse would never have given us this lifeline!

This was divided between 8 glasses, garnished with leftover marshmallows, and refrigerated. An hour later the mousse was set to a pleasant consistency; the next day it was probably a bit harder than we would have liked.

The verdict? Not "real" chocolate mousse, but still yummy. And toddlerproof!

In case you were wondering, while Nigella took 30 minutes for the mousse plus two other courses, we clocked in at an hour for just the mousse. But it was fun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who's got the munchies?

It's not easy to tell, but this is a one-year old passionfruit vine.

And this is its friend, about 8 months old...
The poor things are being munched to smithereens. :(

And the problem is, I have no idea what the culprit is. So far it has been a matter of elimination.
The passionfruit eater:
- especially likes tender young shoots (*sigh*)
- is not regularly diurnal- I have never spotted anything on the leaves other than two spiders
- is either quick to hide at night or an infrequent visitor- torchlight expeditions have yielded nothing
- is probably not a possum or mouse, as some of the damage is to one surface of the leaves only
- is not lured into a beer trap- so unlikely to be a slug or a snail?
-may be responsible for defoliating these bok choi seedlings and all my carrots and radishes that were in the vicinity...

I've been trying a variety of smelly deterrents, which may help a little, but I would love to know who my enemy competitor is!

The best our local garden centre has offered is "caterpillars" and a box of Dipel (anti-caterpillar bacteria) which I may yet crack open.

Any ideas??

Friday, September 18, 2009


I promised that when the irises bloomed, I'd tell you about irises and us. Well, we now have a yellow/white and a purple iris, so here we go...

The sentimental association I have with irises dates back to our wedding. I definitely wasn't the Bridezilla sort, and when it came to flowers neither B nor I really knew what we wanted, apart from wanting them to not be horrendously pricey! We chose a florist recommended by the reception centre, and our first meeting wasn't very productive. I hummed and ha-ed and said I liked the look of the roses which have pale centres and reddish edges to the petals; she told me that it wouldn't suit our style of wedding (and I was un-Bridezilla enough to not hold my ground); she showed us her portfolio of elaborate wedding floral arrangements- trees rising out of the tables, bamboo constructions intertwined with orchids, yumyum trees that doubled as maypoles or something; we thought they were all a bit more elaborate than we wanted, and when you took into account that with two large families our reception would have 20 tables, the cost of an arrangement on each table was astronomical.

We said we'd think about it, and went home and promptly stopped thinking about it. Then, a couple of days later I was passing the local florist and, 0n a whim, bought a bunch of new season irises. They went into our only vase (I'm not much of a cut flower person), and suddenly B said "that's what we should have for our wedding". They were simple, modern and not too expensive. And so our tables were decorated with irises. And, as it happened, the cake (made by a very talented friend) also had irises in its decoration.

We didn't think much more about our choice (apart from "phew, one less decision to make"!) until the wedding day, when we saw the reception room decorated and realised that 20 tables of irises were the right choice (unfortunately this photo doesn't do it justice).

And so irises have become "our flower". On our first wedding anniversary in Paris, B bought me a bunch, and has done the same most years since...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Woo hoo!

They're alive!
Digger's basil mix

And look what has popped up in the 10-year-old seed pot!
After the great seed jumble, at this stage I don't know what it is....
(Basil is my best bet based on its non-solanaceous leaf shape at this point)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Weighty Matters

I'm a metric girl through and through. Admittedly while we were living in Denver I forced myself to learn pounds and Fahrenheit for my survival in the American-Imperial world, but my heart was always true to the Systeme Internationale.

And so I never thought I would tell my boys their weight in stone. But when Big Bro hopped on the scales (erm, who did he learn that from, *blush*) and announced "I'm two", I realised that it was easier for him to read his weight in stone than counting the little divisions to get a weight in kilos. And conveniently, while Big Bro is two stone (and a bit), Little Bro is one stone (and a bit). Too easy!

And my weight sounds so much nicer in stone, too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Formulating a sunflower

Photo byMy Little Vegetable Garden
I am busy reading back through the archives of My Little Vegetable Garden. It's a great site- I love this very cool series of photos of a sunflower blooming with precision. Check it out!

It has given me all sorts of ideas of photo sequences I could try in our garden... watch this spot!

Puff the Vegie Lion

I am always pleased when Big Bro enjoys something I did as a kid. It is almost an affirmation of my memories: yes, it is that good.

So I am very pleased about his interest in Puff the Magic Dragon, or Puff the Vegie Lion as he insists on calling it. Ignore all the speculation about underlying meanings and whatnot: it's a great song!! (Is it just me, or do other parents find a few tears welling up at the verse "Dragons live forever, but not so little boys..."?)

We've been listening to the Patsy Biscoe version which has a bit of pace and drama, so I was curious to see how Big Bro would go with this Peter, Paul and Mary version on YouTube:

It's certainly not the Wiggles, and the audience are...umm... not a Wiggles audience, yet Big Bro sat through the whole thing and requested a replay. Interestingly, I was expecting some comment about the lack of colour, but that didn't seem to be an issue. I think Big Bro just likes the song for what it is!

And the best bit is that whilst for most songs I am instructed "Mama, don't sing", for Puff's chorus I am asked "Mama, please sing!"

And yes, this could have waited till Friday to be a true Friday flashback, but Big Bro's shouted rendition over dinnertime was the impetus to get my thoughts out now!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ladybird, ladybird...

Warning: the following post may be disturbing to rose lovers...

As I mentioned last week, the roses' juicy new shoots have been magnets for aphids. Part of me would love to whip out the pyrethrum spray and nuke the little blighters, or at very least spray on an oil-soap-water emulsion. That would be the quick fix, but i know that a few weeks later would bring more aphids needing more attention.

Everything I can find online suggests that ladybirds cannot resist a huge open air buffet of succulent aphids such as that which we are providing. Even more alluringly, once they come, their party can last all summer. So I have decided to sit tight and wait for red-winged brigade rather than spray.

Jan Pienkowski

In the meantime, Big Bro and I planted garlic cloves between the roses and I will allow myself the "pleasure" of manually squashing the largest gatherings. I'm also appreciating the diversity of aphid colours (green, white, black and orangy) and body shapes (wingless, winged, enlarged abdomen). I'm not sure what their significance is, but they do make good subjects for improving my macro photography skills...

Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More wrapping paper

It's birthday season- Big Bro's social circle includes kids from playgroup and mothers' group, both of which were formed on the basis of birth dates, as well as a lot of September/October/November relatives (including 3 grandparents) and other friends. So if previous years are anything to go by, we'll be singing a lot of Happy Birthdays and eating a lot of cake in the next few months! And of course wrapping a few presents.

After the success of the Fathers' Day footprint paper, I thought we would have a go at decorating plain wrapping paper. These efforts are using foam dinosaur shapes bought on sale from my favourite Melbourne toy shop, Windmill.

Big Bro chose to use the tree, bless his green heart! Any suggestions what the bottom right shape is, other than a sausage grinder? A giant dragonfly??

Taming the wilds

Pruning is not my favourite garden job, but it is nice for the instant results. Like when I was left alone with this Westringia hedge for twenty minutes...



Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kids in the kitchen

I consider cooking to be one of my hobbies. Admittedly one that parenthood has pushed towards the back burner (!), but I enjoy experimenting with flavours and textures, and bringing about the transformation of a group of single ingredients into a dish, and a group of dishes into a meal. I'd love my boys to develop their own love of cooking, or at very least to understand where their meals come from, and how they got there. Of course, growing own food is one aspect of this; the other side is including the boys in food preparation.

When possible, I try to include Big Bro in age-appropriate cooking activities. He loves turning on the mixer or, with guidance, measuring out volumes or weights. "I tip that one?" is a common request. Of course, sometimes things get a bit messy; sometimes things don't work.

I'd like to share some of our cooking adventures with you. The recipes won't be anything fancy; it's more just an idea of things my boys have been involved with in the kitchen. As always, comments and ideas for future culinary exploration would be very welcome!

Kids in the Kitchen- Lasagna

For my first Kids in the Kitchen post, I wanted to tell you about Big Bro's lasagna. This lasagna was nothing fancy; indeed, as you'll see from the "recipe" (which is barely that), I have been pretty vague about the ingredients. (Google will have a zillion proper lasagna recipes.) For Big Bro and I, the fun bit was the assembly and eating.

Tomato-based meat sauce I made mine the night before the assembly and didn't note exactly what went in. It was roughly: tomato passata, veal and pork mince, grated or minced vegies (so that the pickier and almost-toothless members of the family could eat it easily), parsley (as always trying to eat our surplus crop), seasonings

Lasagna pasta sheets -I cooked mine beforehand; you could also use the instant sort.

"White sauce" topping- rather than the usual béchamel sauce, as a lower fat version Big Bro combined 400mL plain yoghurt, 1 egg, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Cheese- we used thickly sliced mozarella

*I've avoided too many specific quantities, because it depends on the size of your dish*

Big Bro's first job was to "paint" the dish with olive oil. He would have been happy to do this all day!

Next the assembly took place: I spread sauce while Big Bro covered it with the pasta. A bit like Duplo...

Once we reached the top of the dish, we covered the top pasta layer with white sauce and cheese. Big Bro is a cheese fiend, so I'm sure he sampled plenty of pieces!

The lasagna was cooked at 180C for an hour, until heated through and the cheese was melted (will be affected by the size and thickness, and whether the sauce goes in hot or cold.) I need to take a sabbatical with WokkingMum to learn a bit more about food photography. Not a great photo, but it tasted good!

Assembly time (with the pasta cooked and meat sauce ready): maybe 30 minutes with a few distractions from Little Bro ("No, he needs let go my chair!")...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Flashback: Columbines

One thing about writing this blog has been that it has got me thinking about connections current events have with the past. The page you see are the posts in their final form, but behind the scenes in the Blogspot Green Room (or maybe just rehearsing in the garage?), are embryonic posts that need some work. Some have a few jotted down paragraphs, whilst some are just a photo or a word waiting for me to flesh things out for you, dear reader.

I realised that a lot of my posts-in-waiting are related to past events (hence my lack of urgency in getting them published). I've seen a few other blogs with a "Friday Flashback" strategy where each Friday there is a post devoted to a past event. I thought this would be a fun way to get some of my reminiscing posts finished and out there. So for my Friday Flashbacks, the rules guidelines are that each Friday I will write a post that connects current events (children or garden) with something that happened in my pre-child life. So here goes! This one has been waiting with just one photo and the title...


This post was nearly just a question: aren't columbines annuals? Because my year-old columbines had celebrated spring by bolting a few weeks ago. A quick Google resolved that they are in fact perennials (yes, I am an amateur gardener!) The first flowers of this year are sadly an insipidly pale yellow...
...which is a shame, as the whole reason I planted these columbines in the first place was for B and I to reminisce about our time in Colorado, the blue columbine being Colorado's state flower. We spent as much as we could of the Colorado summer in the mountains, places like this:

Fourth of July Trail, on the Fourth of July weekend, 2005

The mountains behind are the Continental Divide- water falling on this side runs to the Atlantic, on the other side to the Pacific (anyone seen the excellent Stephen Fry in America recently?) And in the foreground, the pale blue flowers are blue Columbines. I think these mountain meadows were my favourite part of the hikes- watching The Sound of Music has nothing on walking through wildflowers with mountains around you.

This is the columbine I was thinking of when I bought a punnet of mixed columbines for our garden- the blue and white petals and yellow centre. I'm still trying to see whether I can buy proper "Colorado" columbines here.

I wish we had taken more photos (and had used a better camera than our tiny 2.5MP job that carked it a few months later)- especially of the waist-deep Columbines we walked through in August in the mountains behind Telluride. For us out-of-towners it was surreal, even more so when we saw hummingbirds feeding from the flowers.

But like many things, B and I tell ourselves that it's just another experience we can relive with the boys...
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