The Echidna Has Landed

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At least, it could have been an echidna.

Remember some time back my assertion that I have the best bloggy friends in the world?  Ah huh.  I do.

BUT, some of your number are as cheeky as monkeys.  You may remember Heidi?  (Are we there yet? 😀 )  She sent me a parcel in the mail.  Now, folks, I love to get parcels in the mail.  And Heidi knows that: yes, she does.

So to add to the enjoyment, that dear friend told me only that something was coming, then dribbled information by the nanometer.  Cheeky, yes?

I was told that my “something” weighs three kilos, and has hundreds of hard, pointy bits.  It had to be an echidna.  I won’t even mention the concerns of  my sweet bloggy friend, who, on confirming my sagacious guess, worried if my soon-to-be-homeschooled echidna would be socialized enough?  (Saucy baggage!!)

Would you, in a million years, have guessed that my “something” that weighs three kilos and has hundreds of hard, pointy bits, was a huge post pack brimming with straight-off-the-tree pecan nuts sent for the Chicklette’s pecan pie! 😀

Bloggy friends – sweet, funny, thoughtful and resourceful.   (And  cheeky 😛 )

Who Has the Sweetest Bloggy Friends in the World?

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I do.

 

Yes, I do. 😀

 

I’m writing from my little powerbook today, because the swanky MacBook Pro Mr BB bought me recently has suffered a … a hiccup.

While making dinner, I heard a voice with a small quaver assert that, “I was pretending it was an oven.”

I’m making dinner.  If a remark is not addressed to me personally, and it’s not declaring a national emergency, then I’m absorbed in the job at hand. (Hint: multi-tasking is not in my vocabulary!)

Then a little louder, and with a note of rising hysteria, the same little voice wailed, “I was pretending it was an oven!”

All of a sudden there was a cluster of people around little Blossy  and my computer, and everyone exclaiming as one,”How could you?  How could you?”

I realized I was one of those asking the question.  What would possess someone to post a handful of coins into the disk drive of my laptop?  Well, she was pretending it was an oven, of course!

Mr BB growled all sorts of menacing things about voiding warranties, and naughty children and a few things that are less than edifying, though justified: we have a bad, indeed a very bad record with computers..

The next morning, while bearing the dual gloom of my ruined Mac and the disaster brewing up north, something delightful arrived.

Want to see? 😀

 

I don’t think hand-woven anything exists here, but this is, and made me marvel at the patience and skill that is required to produce it.  The image doesn’t do justice to the richness of the thread; the sides are a deep red, shot through with an even darker colour.

 

 

 

 

 

Aren’t they beautiful?  There are not adequate words to describe the feel of these fabrics, or the delight they solicited from the collection of little girls on my bed as we unfolded them.  Who could be glum on such a day?!

So, added to the shoebox treasures from our bloggy friends in Minnesota and Germany, the homeschooling-help-me-keep-records goodies from WA, the kefir from down south, and the snowy photo card from Texas, we have the most glorious scarves from… India!

Who has the sweetest bloggy friends in the world?

I know I do. ♥

 

 

p.s… don’t think Mr BB missed out, with all that girly joy happening; he didn’t. But his gift has gone off to work with him, and isn’t here to photograph!

I’ve Got Mail

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flat-abigail

Meet Flat Abigail!

Based on reading the book “Flat Stanley”, a student from Canada has posted herself to see the world.  Flat Abigail comes with a letter of introduction, which requests that we take a digital photo with her in it, doing something in our part of the world,  and email the photo to the teacher who is coordinating the project.

I can imagine how much fun it would be tracking the progress of your virtual self over the world, and having a photo record to view.  I am not sure yet where we will take Flat Abigail for the photo, perhaps the nearby nature reserve, as there is a variety of uniquely Australian animals there.  After photographing yourself with Flat Abigail, she is to be posted on to another family, to do a little more travelling.

And that’s not all…

mail

When the doorbell rang and a peek through the window revealed a parcel post van, I was not excited.  I though it was the arrival of some  toothpaste I had ordered. (yeah, I know, toothpaste?  It’s a long story.)

But when my daughter entered the house carrying the parcel, even from upstairs, I could smell …..aniseed!  There is only one person in the world who would be sending me aniseed in the mail.  😀

It was my very generous,  thoughtful friend Andrea.

Some time ago we did a shoebox swap (enormous fun that everyone should try) with a German family.  The idea is to learn the kind of everyday things about another country in a way that makes the information real and memorable.  We swapped things that represented our respective countries.

One of the items Andrea sent which our family fell instantly in love with, was anijsblokjes.  We have absolutely nothing that comes close to being an equivalent here.  They are a little square block of aniseed flavoured powder, sweet, that can be taken in warm milk (it sounds terrible, but it is so good!) or they can be crushed and sprinkled on bread. They are remarkable!

Andrea, remembering how we enjoyed these, has  kindly sent another packet, and also included a box of Muisjes for us to try – adorable little pink and white, mildly aniseed flavoured, miniature sweeties, that you can eat on your bread.

So cute, so delicious, and so suitable for a house full of girls!

thank you sweet friend

Thank you Andrea, for allowing us to host Flat Abigail, and for sending such perfect surprises for us!

Kool-Aid, Smencils, & the Joys of Foreign Blogging Friends

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smencils-kool-aid-for-play-dough

I love it when the mailman surprises me. Yesterday I received a parcel from far off Minnesota, from our shoebox swap friends at Dandelionend.  What joy!

Under the guise of awarding a prize for choosing a cute name for a new cow, Dandelionmom sent us out smencils – a 100% recycled newspaper pencil, with delicious smells permeating from them.  It was a challenge not to chew the end of the cinnamon flavoured one, smelling as it did just like the Big Red chewing gum we used to buy at school.  There was also a sugar-cookie flavour, watermelon, and gingerbread. Delicious!

Arising from a conversation about my favourite playdough recipe, Dandelionmom shared her favourite Kool-Aid playdough recipe.  Because she is such dear, generous, thoughtful friend,  she included several packets so we could try out some kool smelling, brightly coloured, foreign play dough!

We had fun!!

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
3 Tbs oil
1 small pkg unsweetened drink mix
1 cup boiling water
Instructions:
Mix dry ingredients;

adding-kool-aid

add water and oil;

add-boiling-water

stir; then knead with hands.

smoosh-smoosh

Play!

blue-tongue-lizard-play-doughemua-geography-lessonorange-emu

thank-you-dandelionend

Bigos, a Polish Stew

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Also called Hunter’s Stew, this recipe was sent to us here in Australia by our German friends during our shoebox adventures.  Mr Beyondbluestockings is one of the least adventurous of our members, so we waited until he was away on a business trip to try this one.

You need:

  • 500gms fresh white cabbage, chopped
  • 500gms of sauerkraut
  • 250gms each of pork and beef, diced (or for the Germans – goulash!)
  • 1 cup mild vegetable stock
  • 200gms assorted sausages (cooked and/or smoked)
  • 75gms bacon
  • 1-2 large onions
  • 1 sour apple
  • 2 tbls oil
  • 5 juniper berries (this is not Australian fare, so I am not sure what flavour we left out)
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 pitted prunes (we actually added about 12 – we like them)
  • 1/2 tsp honey (again, we added more than this)
  • salt
  • 75ml dry red wine (or alternatively add extra stock)

Method:

  1. Chop meat, onions and cabbage.
  2. Brown meat (including bacon) and onions.
  3. Add cabbage, stock, finely chopped sauerkraut and bring to boil.
  4. Add sausages, spices and fruit, and simmer for an hour.
  5. Before serving, add honey, salt and wine to taste.

Because I was going to be out for the day, I made mine in the slow cooker (crock pot). So it  was that after browning the meat, I pretty much tossed it all in and left if for the day.

We all enjoyed this dinner, and the second night served it over mashed potato, as it had “matured” sufficiently to frighten the young folk!  While it was very tasty, and we would happily eat this again, my only complaint is that the recipe came without a warning that I consider crucial.

Do not feed this to your baby.

My poor petal was renamed all manner of unkind things, such as “atomic bot”, “blast off bot”, etc., and her nappies were….well, it’s not polite to talk about over dinner is it?


Grits, let me count the ways!

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We’ve tried them plain, with bacon, and now….we’ve had the brown sugar, ice-cream and maple syrup version. The what….? If you are a true, grit eatin’ southerner, don’t read any further! Unless, of course, you want to read about how one Australian girl messes with your regional icon.

Thanks to Dandelionmom, and our shoebox adventures, we are able to try this paragon of southern cuisine which we have read about in so many books, but were completely clueless about. In stories, everybody eats grits, but they don’t give much away about what they actually are. Well, now we know!

Today we tried them (after preparing last night and refrigerating) pan fried in a little butter. I don’t know if it is that creme brulee is rarely far from my mind, or perhaps just that they looked needy, but I decided to try a brown sugar caramel crust under the grill after frying. (oh hey, it only gets healthier!!)

Once that little sweet barrier of delight had formed, they were served warm, with ice-cream and maple syrup. Not bad. Grits are a very versatile food!

Anijsblokjes – not cigars!

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Further chronicles of our shoe box adventures, where two families from different countries swap through the post, a box of things representing their home country;


I laughed with a sense of helpless bewilderment, wondering what Anitz was thinking, sending me cigars? But they’re not! Not even nearly. These little packets have blocks inside, and seriously, you could never smoke something that smelled so strongly of aniseed. LOL!

The instructions, thankfully translated for an English only girl, say to put 1-4 blocks into warm milk. All of my senses recoiled at the idea of such a strong aniseed flavour going into milk. That’s just wrong, I thought.

But curiosity overcame judgment, and being a literal kind of person, I opted to try 2, taking that as an average, blocks in warm milk. This is very good stuff. Not at all what I would normally expect from a hot, milk drink, but truly worth the leap of faith it took to try it! It was really a surprisingly pleasant taste.

Anitz, you good chooser of strange and exotic treats!

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