Saturday, April 30, 2016


This week has seen Arden and I back into following the seasons; and in particular the moon- focusing on it's rising and it's setting.  As well as doing this, we've also been learning to make cheese, starting with ricotta.  I'm not sure I'll ever want shop ricotta again our home made versions were sooo good.

This is ricotta number one, made with milk and an extra cup of cream.  *Everyone's* favourite.

Ricotta number two was made with my buttermilk, but since it was fresh buttermilk and not soured, we needed to add lemon juice for the curdling.  We felt this was average and only as good as the shop ricotta.  (One that I would normally think was worth baking with spices.)

This is ricotta number 3 made with our souring milk, almost as good as the extra cream ricotta from day 1.

We only strained our ricotta for 10-15mins to keep the creaminess in.  Ricotta is *soooo* easy to make and so much tastier home made I'm not sure I'll ever buy it again.

Gabriel and I have been making progress on our blues guitar, and I'm starting to feel like I can play a bit.  Haven't asked Gabriel how he feels he's going, but hopefully we're both getting somewhere!?  Arden has got a few songs that he's becoming familiar with on  harmonica as well as his Gilbert and Sullivan selection and his own creations now.  He's also coming along nicely with violin lessons with Willow; they are now starting to work on learning his first song.  Willow is singing Iolanthe endlessly; and of course so is Irving.  I'm sure before long it will be driving me as mad as Pirates did last year!

Gabriel is working on a biology block currently and reading "A Leg to Stand On" by Oliver Sacks.  He's also reading "Romeo and Juliet" for English, and I was hoping to find a copy of "Iolanthe" to read.

Arden is starting on his first hand sewing project; a pair of pyjamas for summer, and Gabriel is starting to put together his tie.  Irving has fallen in love with Arden's gingham pyjamas that I made, so I'm hoping to start him some this afternoon.

Willow has been busy singing and writing, and we need to sit down and have a focused chat again with Damien.  I find it hard at this time of year, when everyone's in a production, as it takes up quite a bit of free time.  Gabriel and Arden both have small rolls in Iolanthe, so it's just Irving and I hanging out this year!

Today we are showing Class Dismissed (again!).

Yesterday was Samhain for the Southern Hemisphere, so we went Pumpkin shopping and had pumpkin pie and carved a lantern, and shared mulled wine, was a very pleasant end to the week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Holiday Happenings

We had a very bustly and very busy holiday this time, but on the whole it was filled with a lot of fun. 

Arden and Irving and I started the break with a walk down to Queen's Gardens, where we discovered that my favourite Oak tree was gone.  We wondered, if perhaps it had split, and needed to be removed.  All the same I was a bit sad, was one of the reasons I liked going there.

Arden and I also did a bit of wood carving.  I finally finished off this spoon (I started it when Willow and I did a green wood carving workshop.)

Arden and I made him a wand for playing Harry Potter games- from a section of palm (though he's now imagining something a bit more solid.)

There was quite a bit of lego building happening; with Arden making this ship.  Plus Titanic has been in our minds still; since our copy of the book "A Night to Remember" arrived.  I just finished it, and found the book much more fascinating then the film.  Especially the details in the preface about a book written in 1898 with an almost identical event.

This is one of Gabriel's geometrical drawing finished just before the holidays.

We had quite a few workshops on this time, largely due to the Kickstart Festival and Innovation month.  Willow and Gabriel both got to an interesting array of sessions.  Willow made a terrarium, went to a film making session, and a special effects make up session (with Gabriel).  Gabriel also did a screen printing workshop; he seems keen to try more printmaking.

This is some of Gabriel's stage make up.

Willow also did a workshop on Opera with WA Opera, and Gabriel, Willow and I attended the latest opera; "The Riders".

Whilst Willow and Gabriel were off at a workshop, Arden, Irving and I head for coffee at the Treasury Buildings and met a very lovely dog.  Plus Arden made a tower of coffee cups.

Gabriel and Arden attended the innovation month workshops;  using arduino technology to make a UV sensor, and a moisture sensor.  Arden particularly was interested in using the Arduino, and Gabriel was enjoying doing some coding.

Willow, Gabriel and Arden all head to see "Bambert's book of Lost Stories" at the Heath Ledger Theatre.  Willow in particular commented that it was the best puppet show that they had seen, and that it was beautifully presented and quite poignant.

We also headed out to see a few films and caught up with friends.  In particular Arden made stout pie for a friend who came for lunch, and we watched "Topsy Turvy" with Willow and Gabriel (continuing with our Gilbert and Sullivan theme.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Autumn Festivals

We are back into holidays already here; though I think after the holidays I might be in need of a break!  There are loads of interesting things happening and Willow and Gabriel are off to a few workshops again for the kickstart festival.  Simultaneously there is an Innovation festival, which also has some activities for kids, and Gabriel and Arden attended a moisture sensor workshop yesterday using Arduino technology.

Arden and I took this week, to step into a nature/cooking block starting with seasonality and looking at the cycle of the moon and the sun.  We had an interesting few days  examining the progress of the new moon, and looking at the similarity of rising/setting times for the sun and moon over the days near the new moon.  We will continue with some of this when we get back into school work after the break.

We are reading "Little House in the Big Woods" for this block for him.  With the older two, I read "Wind in the Willows" which is also a lovely nature based book, with a very different lean, but I had never read the Little House series, despite being a huge fan of the TV show as a child, so it seemed this time through grade 3 it might be the thing to read.  So far Arden is loving it, and Irving is very taken by the illustrations, which is also quite helpful, so he's also sitting and listening whilst I read.  I think though we might be finished it quite quickly and be looking for "Little House in the Prairie" very soon, given how much it is being enjoyed.

I'm hoping to do some cheese-making with Arden for this block, and have to get myself a kit, so I really need to spend a bit of time doing some research into this.  I've been keen to try some cheese-making for awhile, and I imagine everyone here will be interested.  Arden has totally taken to cooking with very little input from my direction, so I know he'll be enthused (I'm seeing this as being one of the biggest benefits of a multi-aged family- the desire to be grown up!)  Anyhow here's a picture of his chopped potato for chips this week-  I'm amazed by his detail;I'm an appalling veggie chopper!

Gabriel has been continuing on his geometry block, and will be onto a block of biology next term.  Looking at skeletal structures in humans and animals I think ( we need to sit down together and plan the block still.)  We were hoping for him to attend one of the teenager zoo workshops at the same time, but finances are still tight here, so I'm hoping to book for next holidays instead.

We finally sat down and had Willow's overview for the last little while.  I really prefer having a focused chat regularly, obviously we chat about other stuff during the week, but to have a time when it's just Damien, Willow and I ensures that I'm focused and not getting distracted by the needs of the littler people here.  Anyhow she's feeling satisfied with her progress on her mythological related essays, but was having some difficulty with resources for one of them, so we had a chat about that and how she could create solutions to what appeared to be a lack of references.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Titanic, Stars, Rocks and Craft

We have had a rather hectic and enjoyable couple of weeks around here, with plenty of outings, and some great activities.

We made it to the Titanic exhibition, over the last weekend it was on.  It was insanely busy, but still worth seeing. As everyone here is quite interested in the story, we'd been watching some of the films made about it with our favourite being "A Night to Remember", which I've also just purchased a copy of the book for us to read.

We've also been watching the BBC series "Back in Time" which we've been enjoying.  We've found some of the details interesting, but would have like to have seen the people taught some of the skills (as people of the era would have just known them-particularly knowing how to use an old fashioned can-opener).  Though we've only just watched the first episode of the weekend, and they do appear to be teaching them some skills this time.

We had a lovely simple Easter this year, lunch at home (Arden made stout pie and Willow made hot cross buns), eggs selected by everyone and purchased by everyone (we had a jar sitting in the kitchen that everyone added money to so that we  had a treasure jar for our egg purchasing!), eggs from our two favourite chocolate shops; Sue Lewis and Koko Blacks) and a night out of dancing to Shotdown from Sugartown and Johnny Law.  Damien and I have been working on learning some jitterbug, so we got to do a bit of that, and Arden has been learning the basic step, as he would like to learn a dance where he gets to do lots of spinning(he learnt recently that the focus of rockabilly is on the girl!)

Gabriel and Arden went on a geology outing around Perth; Arden came back very enthused, and I'm planning to get him a hand lens soon.  Irving and I met them after the outing,down at Cottesloe, we had a bit of a look at the last of the sculptures that were still out from the Sculptures by the Sea.

Arden has just finished doing a block on stars.  We focused on drawing multi-pointed stars; from 5points through to 12.  We also did some sewing, making fabric star decorations, and finally we finished the block with tea-light holders.

Sewing stars

My star for Irving, made from Damien's old shirt :D

Star painting with Irving

Arden's stars

Painting to make our star lanterns

Stage 1, oiled and cut out


Ready and lit!  Last time we made these was 2010 and we had a small incident with one catching alight!!!  Though it was my fault for doing small and large size candle holders (large is best!!!)  Would like to try these next time.  Might have to do them for this years solstice...

Gabriel finally finished his Zebra!

And now he's on to hand sewing a tie. 

Gingham for the lining of the tie. (Gabriel is using the same fabric for the main part of his tie, that Willow used for her skirt).

Gabriel is currently working on a block of geometry using our Wooden books.  I absolutely *love* these books; they're like little works of art, and filled with obscure and interesting information.  Gabriel has been working from the Islamic Design book.

Part of visit to the city routine presently-visiting London Court to see the knights and dragon!  (Irving loves it!)

Looking back through this, it is apparent to me that I'm not sure what Willow's been up to, other than making a video and hot cross buns, getting through her craft pile, and generally doing maths and writing and music.  She's still been  helping Arden with violin, but I haven't yet had my weekly/fortnightly chat with her.