Death by Gorgonzola

Thursday, January 28, 2016
I have recently realised that, there is never going to be a good time to intentionally attempt to poison myself.

It is important that you know that I love blue cheese, in all its forms, and have been known to eat so much of it at family gatherings that my husband silently starts indicating that maybe I should slow down before I gorge myself into a coma. However, for the last four years, I have avoided Gorgonzola, based on the belief that I might be allergic to it. This kind of self restraint, around any kind of cheese, has never be demonstrated by another member of my family, in fact all of my relatives are baffled by this potentially unnecessary abstinence. Why unnecessary? Well I think I'm allergic to it but I really might not be.

Four year ago, I went to bed with a itchy face and surmised that I must have been bitten by an insect (the fact that both sides of my face were itching didn't strike me as odd as the time. What can I say? I must have been really quite tired and possibly more dim witted than usual).

The next morning I woke up and my face looked like this

This photo, which is amongst my favourites, was taken for two reasons: the first to capture the moment;  and the second to send as proof, to my friend Doreen, that I wasn't making shit up to get out of spin class. You'll be pleased to know that Doreen was satisfied with my excuse and suggested that I may want to seek medical attention. The long and short of which is the reaction got worse and I ended up in hospital being pumped full of steroids and antihistamines.

The doctor asked what I was allergic too. I didn't know but quickly concluded that it might be Gorgonzola. Why? The previous day my neighbour had kindly dropped off some pasta with homemade blue cheese sauce for my lunch,  she is a very generous and talented food photographer and cook, so rest assured it tasted amazing. However, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had already eaten, so I put it in the fridge and then heated it in the oven at dinner time and shared with my family. The Gorgonzola pasta was the only unusual thing I ate that day. Furthermore, Google informed me (so it must be true) that when you reheat already cooked blue cheese it changes the molecular structure and apparently that's not good for some folks.

Ever since then I have, potentially needlessly, avoided Gorgonzola. I really would like to know for sure and have decided a plan to test for it:

1. eat uncooked Gorgonzola (with antihistamines close at hand), if there is no reaction;
2. cook and eat Gorgonzola  (with antihistamines close at hand), if there is no reaction;
3. Reheat and eat the Gorgonzola (with antihistamines close at hand).

Another obvious course of action would be to go and see an allergy specialist, and get tested in a safe manner, but that would involve making appointments and getting a referral for something that so far has affected me once and besides I'm very very lazy. 

At this very moment, I have, for the second time in recent history, Gorgonzola in my fridge  (the first time it got thrown out after the fridge was inadvertently switched off for an entire week while we were away on holiday. I considered that the results of my experiment would be some what jeopardised if I ate that cheese) 

So what is stopping me now? Well there just doesn't seem to be a good time to intentionally poison myself. If I do it today, I'm on my own with the kids and that really doesn't seem to be a good time for a potential medical emergency. If I do it Saturday Morning I might not be able to play softball in the afternoon and we are down to bare nine so my coach and manager will kill me. If I do it after, I may not be able to go to my friends 40th that night. If I do it Sunday, I might write myself off for Monday morning and stuff up Miss K's first ever day of School. Etc etc etc honestly the excuses are piling up and that really is why I have potentially needlessly avoided  Gorgonzola for four bloody years.

I'm tempted to make pasta with Gorgonzola sauce for dinner tonight and be done with it, but I know I will probably chicken out!

On my mind: Back to school

Sunday, January 24, 2016
I don't think I'm alone here am I? Doesn't miss K start big school this year? The past week or so I've been thinking about the end of the school holidays. It was time to start getting things a bit more organised. I've been drooling over all the posts about really smart looking lunch boxes but was fairly sure I didn't need to buy the boys anything new this year. First in line was the lunch box and drink bottle clean up and cull. After getting rid of anything broken, missing lids, and a few containers that we hadn't used in over a year (too big, too many built in compartments), it was pretty clear I'd be sticking with what we had. Three lunchbox sleeves/zipper cases, at least 4 drink bottles, around 4 containers that can hold a sandwich or salad, and a million smaller containers. We are good to go. The separate containers work for my boys because they like to just pull out a morning tea snack and leave the rest in their bag/fridge. As much as I love those compartment style lunch boxes, they aren't going to work for us.

Organised into a tub for sleeves and bottles, and a tub for all containers, and that's it.

I also wanted to be ready with some food ideas. After 6 weeks of feeding two small people continuously, I'm at that 'hey how about baked beans for lunch' stage, because less prep equals better. My food imagination has all dried up. The Organised Housewife and Be A Fun Mum both have loads of simple ideas. I also got out my Women's Weekly Kid's Cooking cookbook (some good sandwich ideas), and then sat down with the kids to build a list of what they like at the moment. I've got 3-4 sandwich ideas for each of them, with pasta or rice salad, found out which veggie sticks they'll eat, and noted a couple of freezable muffin recipes to try. Which one likes taking yoghurt, and which one will take a boiled egg. That is all on the front of the fridge, to remind me to buy some food soon.

First batch in the freezer, corn and cheese muffins! They do taste better than they look here.

Clothes I sorted for biggest before school finished last year, because I burnt his only t-shirt in the last week of school. School shoes happened last week, I go to Surfstitch and browse the sale section, this time with a code for 30% off sale prices. Nice ;) The big clothes sort out just happened for littlest, the last of the size twos gone (sniff, but he is almost 4) and all the too-big hand-me-downs sorted into sizes, anything orange or red removed and put back into bags for passing on to those less weird than me.

Stationery. Hello. Okay I'm not actually done with this one yet. We, apparently, don't get a list before school goes back. So when I went into OfficeWorks recently, I wasn't able to be one of those fresh and superior parents whizzing in to pick up their pre picked and packed bags of supplies, back out the door to something altogether else in five minutes. So I just looked on in envy and bought these super lovely pencils for littlest instead, I wanted something nice and thick with the three faces to make it easy for him to hold. He'll be getting these for his birthday soon.

And then the calendar. This is something I've wanted to do for a while, get a big calendar on the wall of the kitchen that we can scribble ALL THE THINGS in. But you know me, it had to be simple looking, preferable black and white. No cute stickers. (Washi tape is ok). I drew this up and printed it off at Officeworks, just January and February so far, if it works well I'll do the rest, but already I'm thinking go bigger. The pale grey is a bit scratchy because I opted for plan printing to keep the cost down. Yes kiddo, it is BACK TO SCHOOL!

Queue jumping: I have things to tell you

Thursday, January 21, 2016
Hi Michelle,

I know that, strictly speaking, it's your turn to write a post and that I should wait patiently in line but I'm really not known for waiting patiently (unless of course its a post office queue, then the strict etiquette of  queuing will be adhered to). Also I know that you have been busy and a little unwell recently, so please forgive me for barging in.

We've had a busy few weeks, the kids are enjoying the school holidays and, perhaps to make up for the fact that we haven't been away together for the last year, we have been on two family holidays. As you know, the best thing about family trips within Australia is lots and lots of driving.

In car entertainment!

The first trip was to the Hunter Valley  for a couple of nights with some friends. The plan had been for the adults to  sample some wines at the cellar door and for the kids to play in the winery grounds
but it rained and rained and rained some more. As a consequence, the kids ended up staying at the accommodation and the adults operated a roster of who had to stay back with them. Much wine was purchased and Mr Doh managed to keep me away from the Alpaca store.

The accommodation was lovely and I hope we go back next year.

Here's where we stayed (that's the lake in the background, not flooding)

Despite the rain, the kids still went swimming in the pool, because they are nuts!

The second holiday you know all about because I came to see you. We had a great time and were happy to get to see you again.

On the way home from your place we stopped at Berry, which is such a beautiful little town. I was delighted to find a local independent craft store which had a great selection of yarn.

I made a purchase

This eye searing beauty is a now a discontinued brand, lots of knitters are very sad about this, particularly those of us who enjoy colourwork, because the vibrant colours work so well as a contrast to more subtle colours.

I'm actually not sure what it will become yet but little miss K seems to think neon bed socks would be best.

Anyway I hope you are feeling better.

I miss you buddy,

Louise x

Our first collaboration

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In December 2013, my then 5 year old son had one of the most disappointing Christmas experiences of his life so far. 

One day, while in Target, I purchased an Angry Birds advent calendar. I'm sure I paid next to nothing for it and was fully aware that the chocolate would be waxy and awful, but ANGRY BIRDS!  

Anyway, we started opening the calendar everyday and woo hoo chocolate! 

Then, one day, we opened the little door.... no chocolate! Like most parents, I had touted the chocolate as being a reward for good behaviour, so this little boy who had been well behaved in order to gain his chocolate scrumminess opened the door to nothing and promptly burst into tears. It seemed so cruel. I remember opening a calendar as a child, they were a fabulous thing that only happened at Christmas and not a time for disappointment and tears. 

As with most 5 years olds issues, it was easily fixed. The chocolate had fallen out of the mould and collected at the bottom. I rotated the calendar 180 degrees and shook the chocolate out. However, in doing so, I shook all the chocolates out of their moulds. What followed was a month of shaken crappy chocolates out of a crappy calendar. 

At the same time, I was aware that a talented knitter on Ravelry was developing a pattern for mini stockings and that she had strung them up on a garland as an advent calendar for her partner. 

I decided that next year I would make my children's advent calendars (it is important, at this point, to remember that I have two children).

Starting in January, I knew knitting 48 stockings was completely doable. I made a plan to knit four stockings a month and got cracking.

Firstly, I didn't want to use traditional Christmas colours, I also wanted the two sets of stockings to be distinctive but clearly belong together.  I chose two colour palettes which shared two colours (the cream and the green) I also aimed to include the other colours in each set.  I used acrylic as the stockings wouldn't be worn and would be in storage for 11 months of the year.


I realised that I needed a numbering system and had no idea how I would position them but detail shmetails . 

Cleverly, I decided to ask Michelle for help. One of Michelle's many talents is sourcing and buying craft materials from the Internet. I set her on a mission to find "cool/funky/practical" numbers and, rather scarily, I didn't give her a budget. She was rather excited. 

After a couple of weeks, months, in and out of a hundred years, Michelle declared that she couldn't find a suitable set to buy but fortunately she had had a brainwave. Fimo! and, is usually the way with Michelle, she already had the set of mini cutters and mini number stamps (apparently bought from here, although not currently in stock) that we would need to complete the project. 

Working with Michelle on this project was a great experience. She kept me on track and hassled me for the number of completed stockings every time she spoke to me. Without her project management skills I don't know that I would have got all the stockings knit in time. 

By the end of September, I had all 48 stockings completed and have never been so pleased to only have two children. 

Michelle and I had a fun morning (undoubtedly a Friday) making the tags and I enlisted my Dad's help in making the timber "Christmas Trees". My Dad, having recently taken up woodworking as a hobby, is always looking for a project and quickly knocked up these awesome trees. 

Now completed, thanks to Michelle and Dad, I have an amazing family heirloom for each child and know that I never have to buy a crappy commercial calendar ever again.

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