My daughter’s a fairy!

Today was the day of the Melbourne Zombie Shuffle. Aidan went along last year, impressively zombified, and had a great time, so this year we hoped to go as a family.

However, unfortunately, Elspeth still gets a bit freaked out with all the fake blood and everything, so we decided against it. Aidan went by himself, and we three women stayed home.

But we’d told Elspeth she could dress up…

I know it’s really more of an angel than a fairy, but Aidan told her she could be a fairy, so ‘fairy’ stuck.

She happily pranced around the house in her wings and halo for quite a while before tiring of it, and we had a lovely day with no zombies at all.

Gluten free sugar free muffins – apple & banana

I know what you’re thinking. Gluten free, sugar free, taste free, right? Wrong! These muffins are healthy and delicious, I promise! Even fussy Elspeth eats them. They can also be made lactose free very easily.

Gluten free, sugar free, possibly lactose free, apple and banana muffins

Phew, I’m a bit exhausted after just typing that!

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free self-raising flour (this time I’ve used Orgran, only because I couldn’t find White Wings!)

1 egg

1/2 cup olive oil

1 apple, peeled and finely chopped (you could use pear instead if you wanted)

1 banana, mashed

1/4 cup sultanas (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons milk (you could use any Zymil, soy, or rice milk to make these muffins lactose free)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 Celsius (approx 360 Fahrenheit)

Whisk the egg and oil together well. Add banana, and whisk more.

Add cinnamon, apple, sultanas, and mix well.

Add flour and milk, mix well.

Spoon mixture into greased muffin tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

And the most important step: nom!

Skulls

The skull of ‘Lucy’
(Australopithecus)

Quite some time ago, possibly over a year ago, we took Elspeth to the Melbourne Zoo. On display near the elephants is an elephant skull. Upon seeing it, she was first slightly nervous, and then overcame that to become quite interested. Ever since then, she’s had something of an obsession with skulls.

She asks to look at pictures of skulls – she will specify an animal – and she will point out to people, ‘You have a skull in your head!’

Recently, as part of my university studies (Human Evolution & Diversity), I was looking at some pictures of skulls of various ancient hominid species including the famous ‘Lucy’. Elspeth was on my lap. I scrolled past the pictures to read the text at the bottom of the page, and she began protesting:

‘Go back so I can see the skulls! They’re beautiful pictures. I like skulls.’

I think I’ve created a future paleoanthropologist!

I’m thrilled with the things she takes an interest in. I can see how skulls might seem a bit morbid, but they’re fascinating really. The amount you can tell about an animal just from its skull is almost unbelievable.

For instance, from the position of the spot where the spine joins the head, you can tell whether an animal is bipedal or quadrupedal. From patterns of wear on the teeth you can tell what it ate and what else it used its teeth for; for instance, Eskimos and Neandertals both use(d) their teeth to soften hides so they could be worked into boots.

I hope Elspeth keeps her curiosity and fascination with all sorts of interesting and bizarre things. There is so much to know about so many things!

Including skulls.

Stagnation

Earlier today I bumped into somebody I hadn’t seen for a very long time. I might have exchanged a word or two with her a couple of years ago, but I haven’t sat down in a room with her in over a decade. So I asked how she is, of course, and what she’s been up to.

She replied with a shrug, ‘Housework.’

Fortunately, my dynamic three year old was pulling me away to see some alpacas by that point, so I didn’t have a chance to react or reply. ‘Looks like I’ve got to go!’ I laughed instead. If I’d had to reply, I might have accidentally offended.

Housework. Really? Twelve years or more, and all you can tell me – certainly the first thing to come to your mind – is that you’ve done housework? I hope your house is fucking sparkling!

Now, I don’t mean to say anything against the lady herself. She is a nice person, and she raised a good friend of mine.

But I simply cannot understand that sort of stagnation. I don’t understand how somebody would not even want or try to do something, to change something, to grow or learn or something. I am surrounded – I have surrounded myself – with the sorts of people who are always doing things and trying things. To me, the urge to be an active participant in life is a natural, normal thing. The weird, unnatural thing is to let life pass you by, ticking along, waiting to die. I can’t comprehend how that sort of existence could hold any lasting satisfaction. But most of all, I’m afraid I find that sort of person… well, I won’t beat around the bush: boring.

Look at yourself and your friends. Consider what you’ve all done in the last ten years. I’m pretty confident in all of my readers: you should be able to come up with at least one or two pretty big milestones or achievements, plus a multitude of smaller changes and efforts. If you were asked what you’d done in the last decade, what would be the first thing to come to your mind?

Please tell me it’s more interesting than housework!

David Tennant was hot ten years ago. And still. Yes. Still.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. As a result, I missed Doctor Who. It just passed me by. I heard about it, of course, and occasionally thought it might be worth watching, but I just never got around to it. Then I heard that some wonderfully hot guy was going to be playing The Doctor: David Tennant. My response? ‘You mean Campbell from Takin’ Over The Aslyum?’

As far as I can recall, Campbell was my first crush, in the mid-90s. A personable but completely mad resident of an insane asylum in Scotland. What’s not to love? It was something of a surprise to me to learn that the actor had become fashionable sometime around 2005. Me, like something cool, before it was cool? How hipster of me. I admit, by the time everyone else was obsessed with him, I was totally over him.

But recently, I finally got around to buying Doctor Who on DVD. Series two, the first with Tennant as The Doctor. Oh dear, my crush has returned, with a vengeance! I shall have to buy series three…

Shoe elf

Shoes! Shoes! Why can I never find shoes? Shoes end up everywhere in this house; although perhaps I should say ‘nowhere’, since I so frequently can’t find them at all! I know precisely where I took them off yesterday, but that’s no help in finding them today. This goes for all shoes: mine, Aidan’s, Elspeth’s, Evelyn’s. The girls seem to regard shoes as a toy, free to move and hide and lose. Who plays with a shoe? My crazy daughters, that’s who. And also one or two dogs I’ve known.

Gluten free battered sav

Grilled barramundi, chips, and a battered sav.

This is one for the Australians! Once you adopt a gluten free diet, something as simple as grabbing fish and chips becomes almost impossible. Making it yourself at home isn’t quite the same as buying it from a greasy spoon and eating it by a river or on a beach, but it’s better than nothing!

So first up, the batter. The original, gluten-filled recipe was from my friend Awanthi. Here is my gluten free and lactose free adaptation:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup gluten free self-raising flour

1/4 cup cornflour (do check if it’s gluten free; some aren’t)

5 1/2 tablespoons cold water

5 1/2 tablespoons lactose free milk

Method:

Just mix it all together! Easy peasy.

(This batter can be used for virtually anything deep-fry-able.)

Now, for the ‘sav’, I use Hans American Hot Dogs, which are gluten free. All you do is coat the hot dog with batter and deep-fry it for about five minutes. However you do need to hold it up above the deep-fryer basket with tongs for the first minute or so, because otherwise the batter will stick to the basket.