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Archive for April, 2012

Over Easter down at Aireys we spent a few days just the four of us as a family. This is unusual for us, as with two adult children now, they are often doing their own thing. Or, when we are all together, we are lucky enough to have one or both of their partners joining us. However, this weekend we could reminisce about all the family holidays we have had at Aireys, and all the cliff walks with unwilling or willing children in tow, and all the cozy fireside nights.Our conversations ranged from whether Whitecross deserved a game in the Hawthorn team this week, to the mysteries of good relationships. More scope for a good chat in the latter than the former.

Without wanting to stereotype my gender, over the years I have noticed that women can set up little tests for their partners to gauge how much they really care. A common theme in these tests is ‘if you really cared about me, you would understand what makes me happy, and deliver it’ I had a colleague many years ago, who was planning his upcoming honeymoon. He had discussed it with his wife who said ‘surprise me’. His idea of the most romantic honeymoon possible, was the two of them, alone, sailing the Whitsundays in a yacht for a week. It was a disaster. According to his new wife, he had failed the first test of love. If he really cared, he would have understood that she was a five star hotel girl and a week without her hair dryer, using primitive toilets was not her idea of romance.

Some of you may be thinking he wasn’t very observant, however, in fairness, he was working with the only instruction he had been given and put all his mental energy into the surprise. Rather than surprise me, she could have said, surprise me with a five star hotel. There is a mistaken belief among some girls, regardless of their age, that if I tell you what I want, you haven’t passed the love test, because I had to tell you. The love test, is that you guess it perfectly without being given any specific information. I, unfortunately don’t think young, more assertive women, have outgrown this expectation of their male partners.

Being able to ask for what you want, rather than simmering with resentment when someone can’t work it out by themselves, is a habit that I hope my children, male and female will develop in their relationships. I also hope they develop the tools to dispute this expectation if they are being subjected to the guessing game that is the ‘Love Test’

Being aware of the premise behind the Love Test is half the battle. If you can explain to your partner that it is very difficult for someone who has different preferences to put themselves inside someone else’s head, and this does not mean that they love you any less (or yourself, if you’re the one doing the testing) . Instead ‘tell me what works for you, and I’ll remember that when I make decisions,’ should be enough of a demonstration of love.

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Highlights :the four of us together as a family for a few days, cooking , walking, talking, painting Easter eggs, chocolate for breakfast, fruit toast, catching up with friends and the beach.

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Lowlights: heading to the beach at 1130 Good Friday morning and the longest traffic filled trip we've ever had. Note for future, if we're leaving Friday morning, make it eight o clock.

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Our favorite Easter meal is slow cooked lamb, and lots of veg.All we did with the lamb was rub it with salt and lemon rind, put it in a large, le cruset oven pot, with a cup of beef stock in the bottom, and the lid on,cooked on 170 degrees for five hours. We served it with roasted potatoes, sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin with sea salt and rosemary, Pea and feta mash, roasted beet root and baby asparagus. But forgot to take any pictures!

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We spent Sunday afternoon hand painting Easter eggs, to begin a collection for the house at Aireys.

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We have had a couple of family celebrations over the last two weeks, so our Saturday nights have been anniversary or birthday dinners and our Sunday nights have been the family eating in, regrouping for the week ahead. This also means high level negotiation about food preferences and what can realistically be prepared without completely undoing the weekends relaxation. Below is a photo of the kids and their partners at Olis Saturday night birthday celebration, on their way to various events.

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Last Sunday we had full agreement and everyone helping for pork chops with spice rub, homemade chunky apple sauce and baked Daphne potatoes, caramelised onions and stir fried brussells sprouts. It was all surprisingly easy.

Pork chops
Make a simple spice mix, 1tbsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp mustard powder, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/2tsp cayenne pepper, 1tsp oregano.
Coat chops in olive oil then massage spice mix in to chops. I then grilled them on a skillet on the cooktop, but they could just as easily be barbecued.

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Potatoes
Thinly slice potatoes, lay arrange in layers in a round oven proof dish, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a tiny pinch of nutmeg after each layer. I ignored the recipes asking for cream, and instead added enough low fat milk to come to the top of the potatoes but not completely cover them. Then sprinkled the top with cheese and baked in a moderate oven until the milk was absorbed and the potatoes brown and crisp on top.

Brussells sprouts were easy as well, as they are not a favorite menu item, I tried to make them look different. I steamed them for a couple of minutes in the microwave, then drained them, stir fried them in some butter, nutmeg, salt and black pepper for a few minutes.

Apple sauce was simply 3 Grannie Smith apples, peeled and cut into eighths. Stewed with 1tbsp sugar and 1tsp of cinnamon. We didn’t stew them for too long so they were served a bit chunky.

While everything was cooking I caramelised some onions by slow cooking onion rings in a bit of olive oil and adding a tsp of sugar and a splash of balsamic right at the very end.

(I don’t think I’ll try my luck with the brussell sprouts and serve them too often, I have a feeling it was novelty value only which got them over the line)

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All in all very little effort for a meal which everyone liked. I also think in our family the novelty value of any meal that we haven’t had before increases the appreciation. Like most mothers, once I find a meal that the whole family likes and is not too difficult to cook I tend to put it on the list of family regulars. We inevitably arrive at a night when I serve up this ‘family favorite’ looking forward to the grateful faces around the table and am very disappointed to hear murmurs of ‘not this again’ my defensive comment ‘but you love this’ is met with the rejoinder ‘no, we used to love it, before you cooked it so much, now we’re sick of it’ . I meditate on the future days when they are parents and experiencing these moments themselves.

A final note, I’m attempting to get back to blogging, but will never be a very regular contributor. If you would like to subscribe, then you will get an email when I put up something new.

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