Sunday, July 31, 2011

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist

Silverthorn (The Riftwar Saga, #2)Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second book in a trilogy. In this one Arutha takes centre stage as he searches for a cure for his princess. As a character Arutha is not as compelling as Pug and with Pug pushed off the centre stage until the very end of the book, the story suffered. Once Pug reentered the story, things looked up. The story ends on a bit of a cliff hanger and I'll be interested to get my hands on the last book. Hopefully we'll get more of Pug. Jimmy the hand was another character that scored a leading role in this book and i'll be keen to see more of him as well. I'll hold me recommendation on this book until after I've finished the final book in the trilogy.

This was a book on the list picked for me by the Book Seer for the Take A Chance Challenge.

The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser

The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New AtheismThe Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Edward Feser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Billed as a refutation of the New Atheists, this book is much more. A back to basics explanation of the philosophy of Aristotle and Aquinas, he explains the metaphysics at a level that is perfect for people with no training in philosophy beginning with the questions these philosophers were attempting to provide an answer to. I must confess, they were questions that I hadn't really thought much about. Feser takes you from the initial question - How is change possible, to an explanation of act and potentiality, the four causes and how if we accept teleology as an inherent part of nature that God is rationally unavoidable. A lot to think about in this book and I'll definitely be extending my reading into A-T philosophy in the future.

One word a caution. This book is highly polemic and while I found that entertaining, and kind of satisfying, it is probably not the best tactic for winning people to your position. Yes the Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens collective are shallow and ridiculous at times but sometimes a good argument can be lost in the insult trading.

Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa by Orla Ryan

Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West AfricaChocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa by Ă“rla Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book as part of the LibraryThing early reviewers program. I'd heard a little bit about the chocolate trade and the issue of child labour and slave labour associated with it through worldvision and the unshackled group at church so I was pleased to be able to get a copy of this book written by a journalist with first hand experience in West Africa.

From the publisher:
Chocolate is one of the world's most everyday luxuries, the very word conjuring up a hint of the forbidden and a taste of the decadent. Every year, more chocolate is sold in the West even as obesity and health fears grow. Yet the story behind the chocolate bar is rarely one of luxury. The crop provides a lifeline for millions of farmers in West Africa, which produces about 70% of the world's cocoa and is crucial to the economies and politics of Ghana and Ivory Coast. Chocolate Nations examines the causes of farmer poverty, placing the story of these producers in the context of the commodity producers' global battle to make more money from their crops. Mixing economic analysis with the human stories of the African rebels, advertising executives and industry insiders, this book tells the compelling story of how chocolate bars get on supermarket shelves. 

Orla Ryan gives an excellent overview of the history of the chocolate trade and the politics and systems in these countries. As always power, the grabbing for and the holding onto, are a large motivation behind the injustices perpetrated in these countries. While fair-trade has been beneficial in some areas, the real answer is long term action and empowerment of the farmers who make a living growing chocolate. Highly recommended to gain further insight into a complex issue.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This week's links

1. Good Deed Cards - fun way to reward good behaviour.

2. Cute printable birthday invitations. (via 74 Lime Lane)

3. Another Fab Fonts post from eighteen25. I like Howser.

4. Homemade Reusable Produce Bags

5. Cupcake Stands.

6. Who Am I?  - what are you pinning your identity to?

7. Not something I'm that familiar with but putting onto my list of things to think about - Catechism.

8. When you're finding it hard to be patient.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Interhouse Aths - A Layout and a Freebie

I did a couple of layouts this week but this is my favourite ... and another page for our 2009 album.


Now I haven't done this for a while ... not since August last year, which is almost a year ago ... but if you like the layout I've made a template from it.  If you do make something, I'd love to see it so pop back and link me up.

Download HERE


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Week In the Life

If you haven't heard of Ali Edwards WITL project where have you been? This project has been on my list but I decided I just couldn't fit it in this week, with getting back from the snow and the pile of washing that amassed due to Hubby's trip and the weekend away, a broken clothes dryer and a head just not in the right space, so I've decided to do it next week instead.

Remember how I linked to the blurb instagram books? The plan is to take the photos using instagram, record a comment at the same time and then get a phonebook made. Should be pretty easy. Plus the bonus of doing it next week ... I get to check out what everyone else is doing and incorporate their good ideas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homemade Churros with Warm Chocolate Sauce

These were messy but fun to make. I started with the biggest star fitting for piping that we had but they were too thin so I ended up just cutting the corner out of a freezer bag, which was all we had on hand. It didn't give the lovely grooves and it was a little awkward but it did the job. Extremely decadent, especially dipping them in the chocolate sauce.


Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

I bookmarked this recipe for raspberry and white chocolate scones on interest and planned to make it until I looked closely and realised you had to grate the butter. Seriously? The blog name is the picky cook so I suppose that makes sense ... and I'm sure they're yummy ... just not the thing for me. I still wanted to make something like this though so I did a quick search and found this white chocolate and raspberry scone recipe. Much more my style ... especially since I did the mixing in the the food processor. Maybe I should name this series the lazy cook's 52 recipes? Anyway, they were good, thumbs up from the family, mainly music team and my dad.


Spring Rolls

One of the recipes we tried on the holidays. The kids really enjoyed making these spring rolls so we'll probably have them again. You could vary the filling. We did plain pork and wrapped them in lettuce leaves, vietnamese style.


Monday, July 25, 2011

On Our Weekend ...

we took a long one. Hubby got home Thursday morning from China and we picked up the kids from school and headed off skiing at Mt Hotham. There was a combination of cloudy skies and fresh snow with one day of this ...


Hubby was learning to snowboard so when the kids were in ski school I skied with friends or by myself. I used my Hotham App to log my runs. Total: 46 runs, 70km, max speed 52.7km/hr. I also skied a black run (#11 on this year's list).

In between the 11hrs of driving and the skiing the kids also managed to have an igloo building competition.


and we stopped for an early dinner at King River Cafe which was a much better option than McDonald's.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This week's links

1. Blurb is now making instagram books. I'm planning on making one ... soon ... will fill in details next week.

2. If you're confused about what NIV stands for check out the photo in this post. Should we laugh or cry?

3. Are your hands full of good things? Motherhood is a calling.

5. The Angrybirds Boardgame.

6. Tips for reading those boring genealogies ... and avoid dozing off mid-page.

7. Clearing up some common misunderstandings of the cosmological argument.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How do you top ...

flaming musical lotus flowers?



Hubby celebrated his 40th birthday in China.

To my man,

Hurry home ... there's presents waiting ... but I can't guarantee they'll be quite as awesome as that cake. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pakistani Old Clothes Beef Curry

This beef curry was a hit with the kids which gives me another good slow cooker meal. Served over rice with a side of broccoli.


Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Our muffins look nothing like the photo with the recipe. The kids made them so I'm unsure whether we did anything wrong or that's just how they turned out. The kids still liked them but I don't think we'll make them again. They would need to be more special to justify the sugary mess generated.


Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a chicken noodle soup with chicken dumplings. I added some grated carrot, just to up the veggie intake. The kids loved it.


Monday, July 18, 2011

On Our Weekend ...

measuring ...


kaleidocycles (#27 on the holiday list and #38 on 39 Things)


tricks ...


spring rolls (#24 on the holiday list)


pretty ...


talking to daddy ...


the park ...


just before the Big Girl smacked her head on the end of the slide ... tears followed.

churros (#22 on the holiday list)


Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my currently reading list for a few months now, not because it's bad, quite the opposite in fact. This is a book to be savoured, to leave time between chapters to mull over what's been read which I was doing when interrupted by a friend in crisis and not having much wisdom of my own to offer her, I sent her home with my copy of One Thousand Gifts as a gift, not to be returned, even though I was a couple of chapters from the end. I finally hauled myself off to the bookstore, picked up a replacement for myself and finished the last two chapters.

Ann poetically and beautifully puts words to what's in her heart as we follow her in her story, from tragic first memory, to counting the gifts, and the realisation of God's great grace. More often than not she manages to articulate the groans of my own heart and has managed to grasp much of what has existed in fleeting fragments in my own thoughts. She brings all this together into the light. There were many Aha! moments as I read this book. I can't recommend this highly enough. Go get it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Some links

1. I can relate to Kate's post starting out organised because I'm trying to do the same thing. I would love to have ironing, paperwork etc piles back down to zero before we head back into crazy term times. I'm also redoing the kids job charts and Kate has made a free kids schedule printable that I plan to stick on the back of the kids charts.

2. A great selection of free fonts in Honeydesigns Top Ten Fonts Every Scrapbooker Should Know

3. An Instagram template by Cathy Zielske

4. This is getting to be a pattern but go read Maxabella's post against nanny states: A Spoonful of Something ... actually while you're there you may as well subscribe to her blog.

5. A new free 5 ingredients cookbook at Stonesoup.

Linking to Saturday Stumbles

Friday, July 15, 2011

Layouts, layouts, layouts.

Lots of layouts completed this week. First my layout for challenge #4 on the SAG blog. It was a colour challenge which coincidentally matched the red, white and blue of this month's theme challenge at mscraps so this layout is doing double duty.


I also did a layout for the July camera corner challenge at oscraps featuring street photography.


I also did 21 pages for the Singapore album this week to finish it (#28 on the holiday list). I kept it pretty basic, using a plain white background and Tiffany Tillman's Modern Master Template Collection.

You can also see them all here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

52 Photos: Polaroid

The theme for week #23 was polaroid. I don't have a polaroid cameras so I used poladroid to convert a normal photo.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet Thin Air

The Boy was practising his shots in the living room before heading off to tennis clinic.

The Boy: Yay, I won!! (fist pump)

Big Girl: Who are you playing against ... Mr. Nobody?

The Boy: No it's not Mr Nobody. This is Thin Air.


Yesterday we took a trip to the Queen Victoria Market with my dad. Picked up some meat, fish and green groceries and the mandatory jam donuts.

Queen Victoria Market

I dropped dad and the kids off in the city then went to uni and enrolled before heading back to mum and dad's to print invoices and statements for some of their properties. When dad came back with the kids, they each had a top but dad said he understood why I try to avoid shopping with the kids.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cinnamon sugar Pull-Apart Bread

As mentioned previously I got carried away and forgot to take a photo of this bread before we got stuck into it. If you bake at all you must give this a go, you won't regret it.



I wasn't sure how falafels would go down with the family but I love them so I figured we'd give them a go.  Well they were a hit, especially with Hubby who is usually a meat eater all the way. One thing if you do decide to make them make sure that you give them a firm squeeze together before tossing them in the oil, I had a couple that disintegrated into crumbs. Served with our homemade pita bread, yoghurt and salad. The salad was just tomatoes, flat-leafed parsley, cucumber and red onion tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and salt.


Pita Bread

These pita breads are so much fun to make and eat and they're not that difficult to make either. The little girl did the rolling.


While I put them in the very hot oven. They puff up in a couple of minutes and ours were done in about 3mins.


They turned out beautifully light and much more robust than the store bought pita breads ... oh, and they don't taste like cardboard. Ours easily held a couple of falafels, some yoghurt and a fairly wet salad with no dramas.


#26 on the holiday list done.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On our weekend ... and beyond

Hubby had a list of jobs to do before he flew out Sunday morning so he got to work on them Saturday morning. One of them was a trip to look at carpet for the new house. We picked some possibilities so that's good. Late afternoon we all sat down to play Big Girl's Monopoly: The Stars and Constellations edition. I went bankrupt early ... Big Girl won the day. (#17 on the holiday list)


Hubby left Sunday morning before we all woke up. We spent all morning at church, I got chatting after the service. Then Big Girl went to a friends for a play and dinner and Little girl went to her friend's for a sleepover.

Today the kids were a bit rough and ready ... lots of bickering and raucous play. Not that you'd know by this photo ... they'd stopped fighting for an instance and decided to use one of the craft kits from the cupboard to make lip balm. Unfortunately since it was last opened the flavour/colour tubes had solidified.


I guess that's kind of a start on #19. If you look in the photo you'll see that #10 (clean up the desk) still needs some attention.

The Big Girl put on her happy face ...


and all three kids made a chocolate cake ...


after they fought and there were tears about how they were going to decorate it.

I'm wondering what will come first ... the end of the school holidays ... or crazy mummy.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Link Time

1. How to answer a question like are you religious?
"Everyone who walks the planet organizes their life around a set of ideas about the world, what is of utmost value, and how we should live. Regardless of how well people articulate these ideas, the particular way of life that emerges from this set of beliefs, if you think about it, is in essence a religion."
                            Read More 

2. DIY coloured chalkboard paint.

3. Glow in the dark slime - my kids would love this.

4. Daily photo prompts for July.

5. Kids who say they're bored? Kill two birds with one stone. Brooke was inspired by a photo of a dream jar ... I had to chuckle at what she writes:

"I found the above image both lovely and amazingly inspirational. But, I have to be honest...I have way too much to do and not enough time to be doodling my dreams onto pretty paper and dropping them into a jar. So, I changed this little number up a bit and fashioned my "Bored Jar" into something similar. You might be thinking, "how is this a reduction?" Well, when my oldest tells me he's "bored" he gets to dip into our new jar and pull out a chore to do - one that helps me and minimizes my to do list. Reduction!"
                Make your own bored jar.

6. These lights that make use of old negatives are fantastic. (via Lifehacker ... via Pinterest)

Linking with Saturday Stumbles

Friday, July 8, 2011

June 2011 Wrap-Up

June settled down a little bit but there was some extra activities as school wound down for the term. I had my last class for the semester and handed in my final essay. Finalised our tax returns ... yay!! I did a few more hours work for mum and dad because they were away. We caught up with our friends who we are going to Canada with for drinks and to see their new renovation ... got some good ideas. I also went out for Thai and also morning coffee with the year 6 mums and a coffee morning with the year 2 mums. We all went to see a pre-release session of Kung Fu Panda organised by Grant Thornton. Food, drinks, face painting, choc tops and popcorn all included. The house made it to lock-up stage. I guest posted on Notes to Allan. We picked up the skis and did the yearly size check for the kids and service for mine. Had friends over for dinner.

The Big Girl had a dentist appointment to get some deep grooves in her teeth filled so they won't decay ... no needles involved thankfully. She turned 12 and we had her party at an indoor sports centre. She had her school play, Willy wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She was an Oompa Loompa.

The Boy had his Piccolo Canto concert and we had his three-way conference at school. All three kids got their first semester reports and did very well.

Looking forward into July we have the school holidays, Hubby is going to China and we have a trip to Mt Hotham planned. My main aims for the month are to complete our holiday list, and try to get an organised start to term, which could be difficult considering we are taking a long weekend the first weekend back. We also need to look at carpet for the house.

Project Progress

Books Read and Progress on 2011 Reading Challenges:

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx - Battle of the Prizes American Version (2/3), Book Awards V (2/5)
Currently reading: One Thousand Gifts, How to Read the Bible for all it's Worth, Bonhoeffer, Silverthorn.
On Reserve: Dublin, Gilead, Last Orders.

39 Things - no progress this month (7/39)
In July I'll work towards #6, #7, #8, #14 and #30

52 Recipes - I added 7 recipes. I should be up to #47

I started my P365-2010 photobook and did three pages.
I also started a photobook of our trip to Singapore and completed 12 pages.
I also completed two layouts for challenges on the SAG blog. These are the first pages I've done for our 2011 phonebook.

A bit of this ... a bit of that

First up my layout for this week's SAG challenge. It was a sketch challenge and I also used Sharon's and Di's layouts for extra inspiration and converted the sketch to a double page layout. I used A Beautiful Mess by Emily Powers and TaylorMade Designs which is available at oscraps.

The weather round here is still pretty bad ...


The kids managed to get a bit of tennis in during their two days of tennis clinic and loved it. Then came home and slathered butter and cinnamon sugar on sweet yeasty dough. 



It was so good ... I was so taken in by the smell I forgot to get a photo before we tucked in ... also good with a scoop of ice-cream.


Yesterday by popular demand they had a pyjama day ... also known as drive mummy crazy day ...


or don't brush your hair day ...


which is nothing new for this guy...


which is why we did this today ...

Goodbye crazy bed hair.

the regular school holiday excursion.

I did not have a pyjama day but got busy and did this ...

Laundry ... tick

plus lots of errands while Mr DVD babysat the kids.