Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Not very productive ... I'm a slacker, what can I say! I did finish embellishing the girls dresses, Yum Yum excitedly announced "nighties"..err, yeh they do kinda look like nightgowns now that you mention it, but nope.Have now promised to sew nighties (good grief!). They do love the little brooches I stitched them- they wear them very proudly and Bear has requested one too. In other news...apparently Santa is coming. They are practicing boxing items up, pretending to be asleep, waking up and acting surprised , unwrapping presents and saying "oooh I love it Santa, thank you very very much!" They did this in turn for about an hour. Then Bear brought out a tub of Little People...and of course Santa and his reindeer are in there. Mental note- separate Santa from his Little People until December. It really IS too early isn't it. OMG, it's NOT.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

slow going...

I did try to keep up with the kids wear challenge- truly I did...but I didn't make anything. Yet.
I did work on a makeover of some dresses that I bought on sale for Boo and Yum Yum last year. They are a light corduroy but a very drab colour. I could have dyed them (must remember that for next time) but instead have gone with a bit of ribbon, ric rac and then there will be a few buttons and an embroidered fabric brooch. The weather here last week was very warm, shorts weather. However this week will be rainy and soon the girls can wear their tights, boots and autumn dresses.

Apart from the sewing I'm not mentally prepared for autumn, it seems to me that the leaves are turning too early. I'd better get my camera out before I miss the best of it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

sew sew

Good ol' dad
Originally uploaded by bearbooandyumyum
I am doing Elsie Marley's sewing challenge. I am, really I am but I can't get the button to load over there on the right. My week started with a migraine and I am solo parenting this week, so day 1 was a bust. Day 2 not so sparky either but I did some cutting out - photos to come.

I did do a heap of sewing prior to our annual trip to Australia. It is winter when we go home and early August here it is hard to find suitable clothing at a suitable price to round out what they already have from last in the first half of August I made

3 pairs of flannel PJ pants
3 pairs of sweatpants
2 skirts for our trip to Legoland
2 pairs of jersey lined denim pull on pants

Some of these items are in my Flickr album ..but they are shots of when my children just happened to be wearing what was sewn, not good pictures of the clothes themselves- those I will try to take whilst they are at school tomorrow.

My list for the rest of this week
Alter sweatpants made for eldest-Bear, waaay too wide in the leg!
Make 3 scarves out of old favourite or never worn T shirts
Make second attempt to sew two piece swimsuits for Boo and Yum Yum to see them through the winter season
Embellish two corduroy dresses bought on sale last year, with something autumny
Make fabric hair clips- something pumpkiny
Make fabric necklaces- something halloweeny
Start on two halloween costumes, 1 duck, 1 bunny (order fabric at least)
Refashion some fine knit but hslightly damaged sweaters into something my Bear can wear.
Embellish Bear's grey velour top to cover stain...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oh well....

This was the week in which Bear, Boo and Yum Yum lost all their marbles. So pay day became no-pay day. Yep... sad but true, but they are taking it in their stride and a new week has begun.. and hopefully they will take us seriously about the cleaning up after themselves.
The last bento box wasn't a big success with Boo and Yum Yum, I had been a little too optimistic in presenting them with something they hadn't eaten before...mental note -don't do that!. They did eat everything on the bottom tray. The chocolate chip surprise was popular.

Bear ate all of hers but did comment that
"those pretend tuna sushi things weren't all that great ".

I told her that would be because they were SALMON not tuna....and if she had read the note in her lunch box she would have known that...mental note -write outrageous things on the lunch box notes to get her attention.

Tomorrow's lunch will be pasta/mac n cheese...although Bear's menu will read something like " braised moths".

The Breadwinner has jet set himself to Copenhagen so it's just me and the wild things for a few nights. Yum Yum was dicovered this morning with her daddy's Trident gum, methodically working her way through the entire pack and most reluctant to give it up! The artificial everything in her system produced a very wacky tantrum.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bento improv

So I'm still on my bento box honeymoon. Tonight was a little challenging because due to a Boo meltdown, the supermarket visit was cancelled. My plan for tomorrows lunches had been cookie cutter sandwiches using the Sunbutter (sunflower seed spread-PB substitute) with chocolate sprinkles and a homemade "trail mix" of dried fruits with a few chocolate chips mixed in plus a bit of fruit. However I only had three slices of bread to work with, my second tasting of the sunbutter convinced me that the girls would spit it out and everything I planned to add to the trail mix- yogurt covered raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries and cheerios- contained "possible traces of peanuts or tree nuts".

So I had to change my approach.... found a tin of salmon in pantry, some mini cucumbers, baby tomatoes and Vegemite, and then had idea to somehow make a salmon mixture with cream cheese and stuff it in the cucumbers.

So they each have some mini Vegemite sandwiches, a cucumber "monster head"- a round of cucumber with a scooped hollow filled with the salmon mixture-, grape tomatoes, carrots, and yellow bell pepper. ( Next time I could make little cucumber slice sandwiches using the salmon mixture-IF they eat it this time). I got tricky and made yellow bell pepper flowers with carrot centers. The twins have cheese stars to match the window on their sandwiches, Boo has a little serve of ranch for her carrots. I used cinnamon and sugar to dust some slices of apple. Hopefully this will disguise any browning since I didn't have a lemon to wipe them with.
I also put two tiny choc chips in each bento. Yep, I'm totally bonkers.

Bear's bento the previous day.. came home totally empty save for the olive pits. The upper compartment had hard boiled eggs, ham and mozzarella, cucumber, olives, tomatoes and fancy carrot curls (forgot to ask what she thought of that !). The bottom section of the bento I filled with leftover kettle corn and pretzel sticks. She gave the ham hearts away to someone who had no lunch. Note to self- give up on the ham.

So onto the experiment in egg molds. Aim is to make hard boiled eggs look so incredibly cute that eating them will be irresistable to all who see them. The problem I have is that "large" eggs were too small so there was still space in the mold. When I tried jumbo sized eggs there was some excess egg and when I tried to remove the eggs there was some sticking.

So TA DA a plate of gruesome eggs , more horrifying than cute. Bear had the heart egg which was the best looking of the three. And I sliced the others up for lunch.Maybe I can do this for Halloween...make the eggs look demented.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Losing my marbles...

Jen asked about the new allowance system with the marbles.
So here goes... please bear in mind that we are only in our second week of the system. After week 1, Boo and Yum Yum have the grand sums of $1.50 and $1.25 in their purses (which are kept in my handbag), Bear came away with $5.

This is how it works- each child is given a weekly allowance equal to their age - $11 for Bear, $4 for each of the twins. I put marbles in each jar corresponding to their allowance. For Bear each marble equals 50C and for the twins the marble is 25C.

At the end of the week they are paid their allowance on the following basis:-

Bear needs to have completed all her homework, cleaned her room reasonably well by Sat evening and followed her routines during the week (which includes a nightly tidy up).

Boo and Yum Yum need to "go to bed sweetly", put their toys away when asked, put shoes away and make their beds.

I can give extra marbles for good behaviour and fine them for bad. When I have to do one of their jobs I get to charge them.

Whatever the final total 50% is for savings (we are keeping a record in a little book-Bank of Daddy for the moment ) and 50% is given to them.

So far Bear is totally onto it and saving her $5. She managed to earn a few extra marbles by helping her sisters clean up- in effect they paid her, and lost a few for leaving wet towels on her bedroom floor etc.

I took Boo and Yum Yum to Target with me which was a somewhat painful learning experience for them....everything that they desired they could not afford and what was affordable they did not want. It drove them (and me) nuts but I think it was the begining of learning about money and value. It was hard not to cave and contribute to a purchase. I have since found a Dollar store and will take them there provided they put away the dress ups from the playdate two days ago...but nope, still not happening. In a way it will postpone the trip until after the next "payday" and theoretically they will have a little more to spend. If they can purchase a small toy every two weeks then I think that is okay. Trips to the chosen store to spend their money need to be negotiated.

We need to perfect the system a little more... oh, and yes meddling in ANY form with MY marbles (and they are ALL my marbles ) will result in all their marbles being taken. I keep the jars on the window sill in the kitchen.

Whilst writing this the girls have been doing "something" a little too quietly upstairs. I hear Bear's name mentioned.... I kind of dread going to see what it is.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bento Bento Bento

This is the cat....just because.
So in the wee hours during a jet lag induced web surfing marathon I came across the subject of Bento boxes for kids lunches.

For the past four years Bear has had a few too many hot lunches procured by the school. My morning face has been a tad grumpy after so many interruptions to my sleep each night since the twins arrived. I took the easy/lazy option rather than packing her another lunch she wouldn't eat. Her school went online with monthly lunch orders it was indeed a lot easier to just let her eat the school lunch.

The hot lunch program at our local school is catered by outside suppliers and over the 7 years of school (OMG did I say 7????) things have improved due to a state mandated nutrition policy. But still the waffle, cheese pizza and buttered pasta make their appearance too often and my once very adventurous eater became a little fussy rejecting even the staples such as PB and ham (no, not together) to eat the ziti and mac'n,cheese. She enjoys salad but I was not succeeding in getting much protein into her.

This year Boo and Yum Yum are also eating lunch at school and I decided that I should make all the girls lunches three days a week. Whilst Bear has become oddly fussy she is still an avid fan of japanese food, so inspired by the likes of this and this, I was ripe for the suggestion that we try bento style lunches. After a little online retail therapy I now have the basic bento equipment....

Cute bento boxes
Silicon cupcake cups
Sporks- not really necessary but they were cute and inexpensive
Egg shaper mould thingies (not having great success with these so far- large eggs too small, jumbo eggs too big)
Mini freezer bricks by the sheet (you can cut them to fit the space and reuse)
A bunch of takeout cutlery to recycle, and my existing collection of cookie cutters

I already had the thermos', their Siggies and a variety of small containers and larger lunchbox freezer bricks...and their lunchbags of course. Altogether it's a sizeable investment really ...the return should be in better meals eaten, and prepared, with more enjoyment and less waste in the long term because there is less paper and plastic wrap being used. I hope also that dinner/lunch planning will be more organised and less food wastage overall. My iphone is in the photo because I use the note making function to jot down menu planning shopping lists.

The theory of a bento lunch is in the proportion of protein, starch, vegetable, fruit and a treat. I haven't quite got that part down pat yet. The cute arrangement and small amounts of a variety of foods is appealing to little kids and portion control is easy. Just to be clear I'm not cooking Japanese food to go in these lunchboxes but we are a family that eats a lot of Asian meals any way so stir fry and rice/noodles may make an appearance but will probably be in the thermos.I do want to try making ongiri, which has been on my to try list for several years now.

Bear had the honour of the first offical bento- leftover homemade chicken "nuggets" and salad plus applesauce (yuck- what can I say- she likes that stuff) and a back to school cupcake. The appearance of her panda bento caused a small ripple of excitment at her lunch table- it is very cute...and her buddies are all into anime/manga so it's cool. She ate everything. I have indicated to her that she may be promoted to a more "sophisticated" bento when she is older...something like this perhaps, or this, although she was more keen on this more traditional bento.

On the first day of school I sent Bear, Boo and Yum Yum with a firm favourite- tortellini in a thermos (which the little ones had eaten once before in their thermos at last years late soccer practices). They all ate that happily with a side of grated cheese, some slices of peach and raspberries.

Their second day of school was the inaugural "everyone is taking a bento to school day". Here's my handiwork. Boiled eggs, tomato, cucumber, snow peas (blanched), olives and red peppers with blueberries and grapes. A little side of ranch dressing for Boo and a tiny side of smoked salmon for Yum Yum. Bear had mozarella cubes and olives added to hers after I took this photo. I tried to make the twins eggs look like beetles and Bears was just a random monster which she said had her friends guessing what it was meant to be. (Those little worms lower right are actually stems I removed from the twins blueberries).

Now that three girlies come home with mostly empty lunchboxes, there is a pile of plastic containers that can be safely handwashed by young ladies who are extremely keen to play in the sink. I call that a win!

The next bento lunch day will be sandwich based so the cookie cutters will come out and maybe some fruit leather for garnish. I'm hoping to sneak some "Sunbutter" sandwiches into their lunch- the pre school is peanut and tree nut free due to allergies so this is a sunflower seed alternative. Bear and I tested it today-it's not bad tasting, just different.

On my list for future bento and thermos lunches...
homemade mac'n'cheese (I make it with peas,corn,carrots) requested by Boo
tuna sushi for Bear( I'm trying out a little supermarket kit)
home made beef meatballs with spaghetti
taco salad with corn chips
tuna/chicken pasta salad
turkey/apple balls and other random things on sticks
fried rice with chicken (with a small side of low sodium soy for "soil" obsessed Boo)
yohgurt with fruit/honey
pizza rolls (made with ready made pizza dough)
chicken teriyaki and rice
dumplings in the thermos (my girlies are nuts about dumplings)
ham/ chicken cubes with salad on sticks
hot dogs and cooked veges, mini roll (ketchup for Boo)
should I do this to hot dogs? Maybe I'll save it for April Fools Day!
mini muffins, mini pizzas
pita wraps
salmon and cream cheese mini bagels for Yum Yum
and as treats- the occasional hidden choc chip (just the one chip), pancake, fruit leather, pretzel, popcorn or cereal to munch on (subject to the nut allergy thing).

Yes, more proof that I am not quite right in the head! I am actually thinking that I should pack the Breadwinner a bento. Maybe not a panda bento but perhaps a tiffin? He will feel more loved but he is much more likely to lose the containers. I'll have to think on this.

oh hullo...

Keeping this blog up to date is a bit harder than I thought it would be , but never fear I am not ready to abandon my 4 readers just yet!

The weeks since that memorable July 4 weekend have flown by, there was a birthday party for an 11 year old... and then we flew ourselves to Australia and back (another blog entry for another time otherwise I'll never catch up), and the beginning of a new school year in which Bear no longer catches a school bus, and in which Boo and Yum Yum have begun a new pre school program three days a week from 9am-2pm. The Breadwinner enrolled all three in the local soccer club so we also have coaching (for him), practice and games to add to our week/weekends.

So whilst I now have a few hours a week to myself, they are all busy days requiring much staying on top of the game- remembering who to take where, when and how..., organising appropriate clothing in "mygoodnessyourfeetarehuge"sizes, negotiating wearing of respectable looking outfits, feeding them all homepacked lunches on the days that all three are at school, procuring a working mobile phone for Bear and negotiating the use of that phone (still a work in progress as the first attempt needs to be sent back as the service is too unreliable although everything else was all we wanted and more -Kajeet, sorry), and trying to get an evasive Bear to do her homework,worrying about the real bear that is casually wandering around our neighbourhood, getting Boo and Yum Yum back to an earlier bedtime, and starting an allowance scheme based on marbles for chores. I have a lot of marbles.

Yum Yum ran enough in her first soccer game to get thirsty while Boo just cried in misery. Sad A little embarrassing for the Assistant Coach.
OK- it's horribly over exposed but this the only one of Bear by herself on the first day of school. And below groovy sock wearing preschoolers! They are so happy with their new preschool (not that they didn't like their old one but they are ready for a bit "more").
In other news I have done some sewing and there will be more as I am once again going to join a sewing challenge having failed miserably at the last one. I'll do another post on that.