Saturday, November 30, 2013


I give great thanks to my awesome family.
Our situation, living far from family, has necessitated that we form a closer bond than we might had we been living closer to 'home'. Subsequently, we actually enjoy each other's company. 
We look forward to Thanksgiving. This is our opportunity to be together, spend a day chatting while all working together to make and partake in a special meal.

Paul's insistence that we prepare 'traditional' dishes, has led to an expectation that we will have turkey accompanied by favorite American side dishes and pie for dessert. The children worked out our menu the weekend before Thanksgiving and we wrote a shopping list. Apple pie won the pie poll. 
proud pie maker
Mietta had a great time helping make the pie, using the remaining apples from our apple picking outing. Paul was responsible for brining and cooking the turkey and making gravy, the boys prepared the appetizers (aka lunch) and I made the side dishes: sweet potatoes topped with marshmallow, mashed potato, cranberry sauce and brussels sprouts (because I did the shopping, and nobody could complain). 
We started our festivities with a glass of bubbly. Over a cranberry syrup, we poured sparkling cider for the kids and Prosecco for Paul and myself. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

bike innovation

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I have always thought it to be such a great loss for China to adopt and extoll the car over the ubiquitous bicycle... at a time where many cities within the Western world were appreciating the benefits of bicycle transport and the benefits of increasing health and reducing traffic congestion. Europeans have been at the forefront of encouraging bicycle use for everyday commuting and ensuring the safety of bicycle riders. I saw this video some time ago, describing a Dutch solution for increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety at intersections.  

This week I came across two groundbreaking bicycle innovations - using some smart thinking and adapting new technology. 
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The first was a helmet developed by two Swedish designers, using airbag technology that deploys in the event of an accident. The designers won a prestigious INDEX: Design to Improve Life award. See the video here. This might not be so comfortable for cyclists in warmer climates, but I'm sure it would aid comfort in cooler climates - allowing warm hats to be worn to be worn while cycling. 
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The second innovation was a 'smart wheel' that can be fixed to any standard bicycle to easily and effectively turn it into an electric-powered bicycle. Developed by FlyKly and funded by Kickstarter. Watch the video here. This clever project uses smart phone GPS and motion technology to control and monitor use, plot routes, adjust speed - as well as identify location in the event that the bicycle is stolen! Apparently this design uses much of the same technology as the previously developed Copenhagen wheel

I was really impressed by each of these designs as they assist people to commute to work without the need to wear specialized clothing. The FlyKly, can also avoid building up a sweat: a real dilemma for commuters in workplaces that don't provide shower or change facilities. 

I always wear a bicycle helmet when cycling - as I am basically really scared not to! 
I know many are reluctant to. Research suggests that mandatory helmet-wearing laws create a deterrent to increasing bicycle use. There is research to indicate that cyclists are more at risk from other road users when wearing a helmet. Then there is the more recent dilemma of wearing helmets when bike-sharing in municipalities which mandate helmet wearing

Anyway... I love the innovation! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

8 is great

 Our lovely Nic turned 8 years old today! 
Nic was overjoyed with the day - loving (most) every moment of it. Homework was made (a little) more tolerable when he was able to read one of his new books. 

I met Nic for lunch at school and brought him a Spanakopita and Lemon Bar from Chef Nancy's. I dropped off some treats to share with his classmates (boring pre-made chocolate bars to deal with school's new no-home-made/must-be-labelled/allergy-free policy).

As per his request, I made Nic spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Paul made a spectacular layer cake with lime and lemon layers sandwiched with fresh cream and lemon curd.
What a big handsome boy he is now. I had a giggle after finding this movie of him recently. He looked like a real wheeler-and-dealer at almost 15 months... speaking Nicolese of course. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

apple pickin' kids

There are so many elections that happen in this country on a very regular basis. This merely contributes to voter fatigue and an overwhelming apathy about the election process. One upside however, is knowing far in advance that the kids will have a day off school on the first Tuesday of November, every two years! Just in time for apples to be picked.
Of course, as a Melbournian, the first Tuesday in November has always held significance for me: being the day the Melbourne Cup is run. As it is the 'race that stops a nation' the Cup provides a perfectly legitimate excuse to partake in Champagne, some cooked chook, a picnic/party/celebratory lunch and an annual flutter to back a winner. 
We drove to Charlottesville to pick apples at Carter Mountain Orchard. Unfortunately, all the Pink Lady apples had been picked out before we arrived. The kids were however, very happy with the abundant sweet Fuji apples available. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

tricky... but a real halloween treat

Paul has been somewhat preoccupied the last couple of weeks - madly finishing a Dalek costume for Luc to wear on Halloween for Trick or Treating. I have been up to my elbows in papier mâché and spackle. Luc has been taking part in all aspects of building the Dalek as well as documenting the construction to complete a movie for the PTA's Reflections art contest. He has been so appreciative and it is great to see him beam each morning at whatever we were able to accomplish after he had gone to bed the night before. Daleks are the most evil creatures appearing on Dr Who television show. I have written about them before here. 
Paul and I work really well as a team whenever we have a special project to complete. This was a project and a half! It was actually a really fun family project - we just wish we had given it a bit more time - perhaps - as many late nights took their toll. 
Nic wanted to be Master Chief from Halo - a video game he is desperate to play (only we don't have a gaming device... what a shame!) We resorted to buying him a costume. Mietta planned her own Hello Kitty costume. Paul made her some ears and painted her face... and she was more than happy with the result. Any guilt we felt with all our efforts into making ONE costume for ONE child were dispelled once we had three uber excited kids running about in the spirit of Halloween. A neighbor commented on how happy they each appeared with each costume perfectly suited to their particular personality. 

Luc has posted his movie on YouTube. He titled it Genesis of a Costume. Note that this movie does not play on mobile devices.