Monday, 30 June 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: those eyelashes... those cheeks... those lips... that nose...

As Jimmy's first birthday approaches, Michael and I are getting a little nostalgic for those newborn days, those first few months, and for that baby with his droopy cheeks. One thing about Jimmy that hasn't changed, in the last 11 and a bit months, is his eye lashes. Those beautiful, long eyelashes... Michael spent some time at morning tea taking photos of Jimmy, aiming for the eyelashes, and he took this beautiful shot.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A little bit of Australia in Manhattan...

On Wednesday, after going to playgroup and having had lunch with Michael, Jimmy and I were walking home when we had to stop at a set of traffic lights. A car pulled up, a few cars back from the intersection, but the driver had their windows down and they were playing music. So far, nothing note worthy: it's summer, so of course people are going around with their car windows down; and lots of people play music loud enough to be heard from their cars.

But then I started actually listening to the music. It was good music. It was familiar. It was John Butler Trio!!

Yep, someone in Manhattan, KS, was blasting John Butler Trio from their car.

And as the car drove off I think I saw an Akubra on the bit at the back, above the back seats...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Cheap thrills: don't get much cheaper than this...

One of Michael's coworkers went fishing, and promised Michael some fish. Michael brought home 4 fish. Fish!

Actually it was a surprise for me, but as they were frozen I had some time to think about what to do with them...

The first two fish were eaten the next evening, cooked with ingredients we already had in the house. There was an hour or so pouring over my much loved, and well used, copy of River Cottage Every Day, in the search for inspiration and I wasn't disappointed. Decisions weren't made until that afternoon when the lure of fluffy-but-crunchy potatoes became too much...

But I was in a hurry, so this is the method I used:

Fluffy potatoes
  • 2 potatoes, cut and peeled (or peeled and cut, or just wash and cut)
  • 3 tablespoons oxtail fat (or oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, put 3 tablespoons of fat (or oil) into an ovenproof pan (I used our new skillet and the reserved fat from the oxtail stew) and set aside. Boil the potatoes in salty water for 10 minutes, drain and allow to steam in their pot. While the potatoes steam, put the pan and fat in the oven. When the fat is melted, and starting to smoke, remove the pan, put the lid back on the potatoes and toss them (lightly!), then quickly put them into the pan and coat them in the fat. Quickly return the pan (and potatoes) to the oven and bake for at least 30 minutes.

While the potatoes were backing I made up some mustard aioli, although I initially wanted to use chilli, mustard seemed safer (Jimmy has a habit of rubbing food in his eyes... especially at dinner)...

Mustard aioli
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (any sort will do, I used a German style)
  • 1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
Peel and chop the garlic, roughly/finely - it's up to you. Put it into a small bowl with the mustard and mayonnaise and mix well. A day or 2 in the fridge allows the garlic to permeate the mix and mellow, a little.

After making the aioli, about 15 minutes after putting the potatoes into the oven, I added the fish. As they were already gutted and scaled, prep  was going to be easy. I gave 2 fish a good rinse, pulled the skillet out of the oven and made room in the middle for them. I quickly coated one side of each fish with the fat in the skillet and turned them over. Then I cracked some pepper over them, stuffed a few bay leaves and a clove of garlic in the cavities, threw a few more bay leaves and garlic cloves around, and added a generous drizzle of olive oil on the fish. The olive oil may not have been necessary... Put it all back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

We had our fish with peas and broccoli, and a little mustard aioli, not that we needed the extra fat...

Sunday, 22 June 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: clementines are good... skin and all... they must be nice on his gums and new teeth, plus the juice is probably cooling on his bare skin.

We are yet to work out why Jimmy likes eating these round, seedless mandarins, known as clementines, whole but he does. We've decided that it's not an issue, so long as he stays off the carpet. Michael took quite a few photos while Jimmy was eating this particular clementine and it was hard to pick just one, but we settled on this one. 

It's quite warm here, and as the flat is well insulated it doesn't cool down much at night. This feature is going to be great in winter but it's slightly problematic in the heat. I'd have the aircon going more often than I do but we're trying to keep costs down and it drys out my skin too much. At least there is a pool where we live and with the warm nights, the water is staying warm and we have our swimmy Jimmy back! There's nothing like a swim before dinner, or a cold clementine from the fridge. Happy Midsummer!!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A big day out...

Last week we decided to head to the part of town known as Aggieville. This is where the bars and a lot of restaurants are. We went in search of gelati, without an address, just the knowledge that it was there. We also had a mission: a friend had recommended that we go to Arby's because he liked the food and thought we might like it too.

Friday night the plan was to have a quick breakfast and head out before the day heated up. The best laid plans of mice and men... Fortunately the weather had been fairly mild, so when 10 am came around and we were still at home I wasn't too worried. Our route took us for a nice ~4 km (~2.5 mile) walk and after a little walking around, we made for Arby's. Hey! I'd just walked 4 km or more, in the sun, wearing a ~9 kg baby, and let's not forget the breastfeeding while walking.

Michael is getting good at taking group photos.
Michael's food photography isn't bad either.

Hmmmm curly fries... That was a win: the food was good; the unsweetened iced tea was spot on; the toilet was clean, but lacked a change table (good thing Jimmy was still dry). While it's a long way for us to go for a meal when we don't have a car, we'll be happy to head to an Arby's when the opportunity presents itself. On to the next thing!

We walked around for a bit and went into the bike shop, Big Poppi Bicycle Co., where we found the hipsters of Manhattan... No really, the staff are all hipsters. It's also a local business, so is well worthy of support. They had a nice range of bicycles, but nothing we were really interested in, or that was within our price range (we have bicycles back in Australia, and as we're only here for a year we basically only need beater bikes*). They did have one of these for sale... we're pretty excited about the prospect of getting around with Jimmy in a bicycle trailer, but there's not much point getting one if we don't have a bicycle. So, we kept going. On to the Dusty Bookshelf!

This was both relaxing and torture... All those books... So little time to browse... So little time to read... They have a children's section and with toys on the floor I let Jimmy loose. He had been in the Manduca for a good while and his patience needed rewarding.

Jimmy was more interested in throwing the books around... Don't worry, I didn't let him damage any, and while I was looking after the books I found one book for Jimmy - an abridged, board book edition Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I'll admit that it's an odd reduction, with some (important) details missed and others (not so important) included, but it has Miss Potter's pretty pictures and the tale of that naughty rabbit. Jimmy likes it, and I suspect that it'll be easy enough to leave behind, when we return to Australia.

The Dusty Bookshelf visited, it was time to move on to finding that gelato. We didn't have to go very far because just across the road was the Coldstone Creamery. There were some hard decisions to be made, mostly which flavour of icecream to have.

After having a few samples, we decided to have a big waffle cone, dipped in chocolate and Oreo crumbs, with 3 flavours of ice cream: mojito; blueberry pancake batter; and [something else that we don't remember the name of, but it was delicious and creamy].

The big waffle cones... (and more of Michael's food photography)
Our order... and the last of Michael's food photography for that weekend.

We enjoyed the ice cream, oh did we ever! It would almost have been worth skipping lunch and going straight for the Creamery, but it was probably best this way. (And yes, even Jimmy had tiny little tastes and while I felt a little guilt in giving my baby sugary food, it was better than the tantrum that would have ensued otherwise. And later I remembered that my parents weren't strict on no sugar, and the 3 of us turned out fine, so the mum-guilt disappeared.) After we polished off the ice cream, we walked around a little bit more, found a little park to give Jimmy a nappy change and let him crawl about for a bit. Then we walked home, pushing through sugar comas, but we made it**.

The whole adventure was a win, with a little sunburn (not for Jimmy), and aching feet (and back and hips for me, from all that baby wearing). It's a nice part of town, it's fairly close to the city park, which we need to get to, so we'll be heading out that way again, sometime before the summer is over.

*Beater bikes: these are the sort of bike that you don't worry about, the sort of bike that can spend all day in the snow, end up with a rusty chain and it's just an "oh well, better remember to look at that when I get home", they are the sort of bike that, when stolen, is just an inconvenience ("damn, oh well, looks like I might need to take the bus/get a lift/walk home"). People who spend over $2000-3000 on one bicycle are likely to have a beater bike that they're happy to lockup with other bikes for a few hours, so they don't have to worry about someone scratching the paintwork..

**If you come and visit us, we will most likely take you to the Creamery, but we'll be walking there and back, so bring some good walking shoes. No, really, walking ~8 km is necessary so that we can enjoy all that sugary, creamy goodness and not feel sick.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cheap thrills: new staples and an old favourite...

Ever on the lookout for meals that can be cooked in one pot or pan and that provide enough food for two adults, a very hungry bubba, with leftovers, I had to try this Spanish Tortilla because we had asparagus in the fridge that needed cooking... I've now made it twice, adding spinach and switching using a large kohl rabi instead of a potato. I'll be making it again.

And using an oven proof cast iron frying pan is great - I follow the recipe up to the point where the egg mixture is added to the pan and then I put the whole thing in the oven for 30 mins (at 180 degrees C (not the 230 degrees C in the recipe)), and walk away. The added bonus is that cast iron retains the flavour of the last thing it was used to cook, so the last one tasted of taco mince. The next one will taste of something else, probably sausages...

Now back to that hungry bubba, whose appetite is worthy of a post all its own... I've stopped having morning and afternoon tea, for the most part, although some days I need two afternoon teas to get through... Jimmy is a growing bubba, and he has an appetite to match and although he is still breastfeeding, he needs more and is not afraid to ask for it. He'll crawl over to his highchair and look for bits of the last meal he dropped, or he'll point at a banana, basically asking for it. This boy eats a lot of bananas... This boy eats a lot of fruit!

But sometimes fruit is not enough, so I've started making these pancakes if I'm after something more than fruit. Jimmy fills up quickly too, mostly because of the egg but also because we eat half of the banana before sitting down to the pancakes. I added raspberries the other day (torn in half and a little mushed) and they worked well, although Jimmy prefered the fresh ones. Oh well.

While we're on the topic of fresh ingredients, who likes masala chai? Don't know what I'm talking about? How about chai tea? Chai latte? Are you with me now? Well, chai means tea, latte means milk, masala means a mix of spices, so masala chai means spiced tea, but it is usually a milky tea and oh so yummy...

I came across this recipe for masala chai a while ago, not sure when, but didn't think about it until I started craving masala chai once we arrived in Manhattan, KS. We had only recently been taken to the Asian Market, and had only bought cinnamon quills (or sticks, as they're called here), but it was enough to prompt Michael to point out that we could now make masala chai. Well, we didn't have any cardamon pods, did we...

We bought a packet of cardamon pods and a packet of cloves the next time we were there. The cloves were for something else, but turns out they go into the masala chai too! And it's a darn good masala chai recipe too. As an added bonus, the bubbling spices fill our flat with a wonderful aroma... If it's winter where you are, I strongly suggest you make yourself some, and if you're really sensitive to caffeine, I think it should still take delicious without the tea - I'll be doing this myself during winter, so that Jimmy can enjoy it too.  

Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, I spend a bit of time reading A Cup of Jo, like a lot of other people, and while we might seem like a slightly odd match, I really enjoy reading Joanna's blog: she's a bit goofy and not afraid to share that side of herself; she's also a mum (or should I say 'mom'?), and she's pretty generous with how much she shares of her boys and her struggles with motherhood; she also has some of the most amazing contributors, especially the foodies. Plus, I can get my fill of New York without having to deal with the smells or the crowds or the dated outfits in Sex and the City.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: He knows he's a cool little dude.

He also knows what the camera is for. Don't be surprised: we've been taking photos of him since, oh, just a few seconds after he was pulled out of me. Plus there are a fair few belly shots too... He's nearly one year old. Photo credit goes to Michael.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

An open letter to Summer...

Dear Summer,

It would be too easy to write the words "go away", because that would really oversimplify my meaning. Please don't take this personally, because you are important, very important in some parts of the world. You fulfil an important biological role, I just don't like you.

There was probably a time when I did like you, even look forward to your arrival. You meant that the (old) Warwick Swimming Pool would be open, that Christmas and all those presents and yummy food were just around the corner, that my birthday wasn't far away either (read: more presents and yummy food), and that soon I would be starting a new grade at school, going up a class in ballet, and that there would be long days of mucking about or reading or whatever.

What changed? I'm honestly not sure. It could be any number of things: the demolition of the old pool and the opening of an indoor, all year round, pool; finding that my favourite bathers had been stolen from the clothes line; deciding that my legs looked better in jeans than in shorts; moving to Brisbane, where it is mostly warm all year round; having to go anywhere in muggy January or February; I stopped caring about how old I was (once I was 22); having to work during December, January, or February; sunburn... sweat... hmmmm...

Now that I have a bubba, I am beginning to enjoy your presence: Jimmy doesn't need to wear as much clothing when it's warm, which means less washing; I get to touch his pudgy, little feet, and see his little legs sticking out of his nappy; nappy changes are less concerning for Jimmy because his bum isn't exposed to the cold; plus we get to take him swimming. On hot days going anywhere can be worrying and problematic because Jimmy has such delicate and sun sensitive skin, and he and whoever is wearing him get all kinds of hot and sweaty...

Please make all summer days like they have been this week: the occasional morning storm, followed by a nice breeze that clears the clouds away; and the temperature is just right as it's warm enough for plants to grow and for swimming but not so hot that I sweat while doing nothing. Three months of days like this, please, because I don't like it when you make it really hot, and when you do, I thinking about chasing Autumn or Spring, but I can't afford that kind of lifestyle, and with a bubba, who will one day need to go to school, it's just impractical.

All the best,

Friday, 13 June 2014

First impressions and other things involved with settling in...

Photo credit: Michael.
What does the sign in the photo say? Have a good look. Yes? You've read it, re-read it? No, don't plug it into Google Image. Select "Read more..." and I'll tell you what we thought it said and what it actually says and we'll see if we saw the same thing. Go on...

Monday, 9 June 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: washed and ready for bed, waiting for the sun to go down in one of his favourite places to stand.

Photo credit goes to Michael, who had more luck than me at photographing Jimmy at our bedroom window.

This week has been all about standing. What am I saying? The last month has been all about standing! Jimmy has been working up to standing with as little assistance as possible and he's tantalisingly close to standing on his own. The edges of my desk are no longer safe, neither are the edges of the dining table. His curiosity has his pulling down and pulling on everything within reach, just so he can throw it on the floor and investigate once there is nothing else within reach. I'm anticipating walking in the coming month, and to think that a year ago Jimmy was still in my belly. How time flies...

Friday, 6 June 2014

Kamala vs Mastitis: Round 3

Here's Round 3... there is probably less TMI, but it's still there. There is the addition of our first experience with the US healthcare system - are you comfortable?

If you've spoken with me in the last few weeks, then you'll know that I'm pretty pissed off about the Abbott Governments' first budget. Changing the way our healthcare system works is probably my main problem with the budget, along with cuts to education, changes to the HECS-HELP system, science and research in general... (Breathe...) The US is in the very early stages of implementing a healthcare system similar to that in Australia. The Australian healthcare system, as it stands, works. It could be better, but it works. There are bulk billing GP's, good public hospitals, and it is possible to call up a doctors surgery and get an appointment that day or the next (unless you're trying to see a bulk billing GP on a uni campus, then you might have to wait a week or try to pick up a cancelled slot). Keep reading and if you're an Australian, and you get angry, please find a way to let your Local, State, and Federal Members know, because that proposed $7 co-payment is just the start...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Kamala vs Mastitis: Rounds 1 & 2

This was meant to go up in the days after my latest round of mastitis, but there were more important things to do, like looking after a sick bubba and settling a shaken dadda. There are 2 parts in this saga, look out for the second part over the coming days. In the mean time get a cup of tea or coffee or water or a glass of wine and make yourself comfortable, but I should warn you that this post has a little "too much information", consider yourself warned...

Monday, 2 June 2014


"a portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2014"

Jimmy: happily chatting with Mumma and Dadda, during his the morning potty, after a night of feeding and feeding while dealing with a fever. 

Oh what a week! Let's start with me having mastitis (there's a post on the way, I promise), then Wednesday morning Jimmy threw up twice because he was coming down with a fever, he slept most of that day, fed and slept that night while his body battled a virus, on Thursday Michael had some glassware blow up in his hands at work and he came home early with a minor cut and a few little burns. Jimmy was over the worst by Thursday, although he still had a fever or two until Saturday morning.

This weekend has been filled with low key activities, including naps, gentle walks, a little exploring of the local area, and swims in the pool. It's been really relaxing, and just what we needed. We're also riding a little wave of excitement as my parents are getting close to setting dates for their visit - yay!

Sunday, 1 June 2014


Flowers at K-State.
Today is the last day of Spring, here in Manhattan, KS, and I thought it was time to share some of my photos from this season. We may have missed the first month of Spring, but from what we saw, and from what we were told, we didn't miss much expect the cold. The days and nights have gone from cold to warm, even hot, as the wind has changed from north to south. Summer might not start until tomorrow, but it is basically here, although I've been told July and August get really hot... At least the pool is open and we have central cooling if the weather becomes gross... So, here's to Spring, thanks for being cold enough for hot chocolates, yet warm enough to enjoy being outside, most of the time.

Yes, that is snow. And Michael had to walk to uni that morning...
A few days later, no trace of snow or of frost, but it was still cold.
Near our bus stop.
The day our internet was installed.
In town...
... with a close up of the flowers.
Pretties, also in town.

And now, the show is over for Spring.