Tag Archives: coffee

Multiple Choice

I wrote this piece for my local multiple-birth magazine, Duplication:

Pretty notepad with pen, tea and chocolate

This is some kind of miracle.  I sit at the Bunnings Warehouse Cafe table with my notebook out.  Steaming cappuccino to my left, two sleeping babies to my right.  My other children are happily entangling themselves on the playground next door.  This is really happening.  I am going to get some writing done.

Let me just savour this moment.

Wait.  Oh no.  Oh dear Lord, no.

I sensed her hovering before I saw her.  My twins have an admirer.  Don’t make eye-contact.  Don’t make –

“Hello!”

“Erm, hello.”  dammit!

“What lovely babies!  Are they twins?”

Really?  What kind of question is that?  Singleton babies aren’t issued in pairs, as a general rule.  I consider the following responses:

  1. “No.  They were having a ‘Buy one, get one free’ sale at Babies R Us.”
  2. “Nope.  That one’s a decoy.”
  3. “No.  This is what the new Baby Bonus looks like.  You get a bonus baby now.”
  4. “No!  Triplets!  Good Lord!  Where’d the other one go?”
  5. “I think you might need glasses.  That’s one baby.

But then I bite my tongue.  She is a kindly looking lady after all.  I remember when my eldest was born.  None of my friends had children and I was new to the area.  It would get pretty lonely during the day.  I would go out walking with the pram wearing my brightest smile and hope that somebody, anybody might offer me a small morsel of adult conversation.  Nobody ever did.  I think they could smell my desperation.  

It’s different with twins.  Whenever strangers set eyes on my baby girls, I can actually see them drop their guards.  Their features relax and they become all chatty.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I really should be more grateful that this well-meaning woman is interrupting the one pocket of me-time I’m likely to get this week.  I summon up a grin and prepare to say something encouraging.  But now the multiple-birth fangirl is reaching out to tickle my sleeping twins.  Twins who are only asleep because of the four long laps we walked of this bewildering hardware superstore.  I can feel the warm smile slide right off my face.

“You touch that foot and you die, lady!”

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My New Best Favourite Place

Apple Blossom

Come and have afternoon tea with me at my new favourite place.

Orchard

A few weekends ago, Mr Knightley and I discovered Petty’s Orchard, a delightful piece of picturesque countryside in the middle of the suburbs (it’s tucked away in Templestowe).

Children playing on the grass

Harry and Matilda are having a game of footy.

tractor

And Christopher Robin is driving on the tractor (it was very hard for him to look away from the camera.  That boy loves to pose)

Coffee and Cake

But here’s the real reason I love this place so much!  This GF chocolate and walnut cake is amazing.  It was warm, too!

playground

And the children keep playing, blissfully unaware of what their parents are getting up to.

children drawing

After a little while, Annie and Christopher Robin come back to the table to draw a picture, but by that stage Mr Knightley and I have destroyed all evidence.

artwork

Here is their collaborative effort.  I promised Christopher Robin I’d include it.  As a matter of fact, we’ve got to the point that Christopher Robin is constantly making creations for me to photograph and put on my blog.  If he asks you, just tell him you’ve seen them all…

blossom trees

There’s a lovely organic shop here as well.  After a long time relaxing, Mr Knightley and I somehow managed to get out of our seats and took the kids on a walk in an attempt to somehow compensate for all that cake.  I’m not sure how many calories we worked off, but we did see a bunch of kangaroos, some rainbow lorikeets and rosellas (pretty birds with bright feathers), a few rabbits and some adorable ducklings.  Ah.  Fun for the whole family.

more blossom

After my last post, dear reader, there were so many of you that I wanted to have a virtual cup of tea with, that I thought we might as well have it somewhere really nice!  Thanks for your patience during this unusually silent time.  I hope now the kids are back at school I will get back into to routine of proper blogging.  Hope to chat soon!

Petty's Orchard on Urbanspoon

Hero in a Half Shot Skinny Mocha Latte

A couple of weeks ago, my older brother Greg had a birthday.  Greg lives in Japan and I miss him terribly.  Whilst my younger brother Peter organised a ‘care package’ from all of us (with plenty of Barbecue Shapes), I wanted to send Greg something hand made, just from me.  Well, that’s not entirely true – I wasn’t organised enough to get it ready in time for the care package, so I decided to send it separately in an envelope…

Living in Japan, Greg doesn’t have much space for stuff, and what’s more, he does well in his job, so any stuff he needs, he can buy anyway.  So I figure handmade gifts are something he can’t buy for himself and it’s like sending him a hug from home.  In the past, I’ve made Greg a lopsided amigurumi koala, a beanie with monkey ears (seemed like a good idea at the time…), and a tea cosy with a skull on it (the best to date).  I knew Greg was partial to Starbucks coffee, so I figured I’d make him one of those sleeves you can put on your takeaway cup.  So I went skipping over to Ravelry to go pattern-hunting (yes, a tough job, but someone’s got to do it). And then I found it.  Becky Ferris’s NINJA TURTLE coffee sleeve!  And I knew I had to make it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Greg and I would rush home after school to watch these heroes-in-a-halfshell do battle with the evil Shredder (in the halcyon days before Mum and Dad outlawed TV-on-a-school-night) whilst little Jan and Peter lobbied for Playschool (they had no chance).  I would strain for glimpses of April O’Neill, the only female character in the show if you didn’t count dowdy Irma (and I never did count dowdy Irma).  April didn’t have any super powers or ninja skills, but she did have a walky-talky shaped like a make-up compact so she could call the ninja turtles to come rescue her whenever she needed it.  A true feminist icon.  One day, one blessed day, I would be as glamourous and rock a yellow jumpsuit with as much style as April.  And then the Ninja Turtles would be MY friends.

april

Our grandmother took Greg and me on a bus to Westfield Shoppingtown when we were small to see the first ever Ninja Turtle MOVIE.  Incidentally, Mama lived at home with our Brady Bunch family when we were growing up, so I guess that makes her ‘Alice’.  I remember sitting in the little food court after the film, sharing a tiddly oggie and talking nine-to-the-dozen with my otherwise taciturn older brother about live-action versus animated turtles and the limitations and benefits of each.

So while I knew what to make, and I had the green and white cotton yarn I needed, I still had to ascertain what size to make it in and what colour yarn to buy for the mask.  But if I asked Greg these questions, he would work out what I was up to for sure.  In the end, I sent him the following text:

“3 cryptic but important questions:
1.  What size coffee do you drink at Starbucks?
2.  If Jeff Daniels got into a chair-fight with Joan Cusack, who would win?
3.  Who is your favourite ninja turtle?”

My hope was that Joan Cusack would throw him off the scent.  He responded (unquestioning and within fifteen minutes) with the following:

“1. Double Short Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel (don’t ask…)
2. Jeff Daniels?
3. Raphael was really cool, but a bit of a dick.  I’ll have to go with Michelangelo.”

So.  Orange yarn.  But I had no idea what size coffee cup he was talking about and so, armed with the information he had given me, I headed off to the local Gloria Jeans (I live in Melbourne.  We don’t have that many Starbucks here as they’re seen as an evil threat to our café culture – but somehow GJ’s managed to sneak in unnoticed.  Go figure.).  I showed the girl at the counter the text message and asked what size cup would take a double short soy caramel macchiato without the caramel and if I could take an empty takeaway cup of that size to use as a model for the sleeve.

This was a trickier question than I had thought

“If it were here, it would probably be in a little cup, like an espresso, but Starbucks macchiatos are more like lattes, I think” said the nice girl at the counter to the barista, who had joined the conversation.

“Hmmm.  Yes, but then it says “short”.  Does that mean, like, a shot?” mused the barista.

In the end, they gave me every size cup they had and after some further investigation, I settled on a cup size and got to work (I left out the bit where I went off to buy cotton yarn and discovered it had doubled in price from the last time I bought it because it doesn’t really add interest, even though it did cause me much frustration!  Seven dollars fifty for a fifty gram ball!  OK, I’m over it, really I am)

Here’s how it turned out:

Turtle Power Cup

Hmmm.  Perhaps more a demented, goggle-eyed lizard than ninja turtle, but if you turn your head and squint…

So I posted it off along with some pictures and birthday cards from the kids.  And, a week later (too late for the actual birthday, alas!), Greg sent me these photos:

Fridge with pictures

The pictures have taken up residence on his fridge,

Ninja Turtle Soy Caramel Macchiato with no caramel

And the coffee sleeve fits!  Turtle power!

Mmmm…Happy Place!

Split Point Lighthouse

Ugh.  It’s raining outside and hot and muggy inside.  Annie doesn’t want to sleep and Harry and Christopher Robin are diligently trying to destroy each other.  Today Harry found a container of leftover baked beans in the fridge and promptly opened them and delivered them to his baby sister – who loves baked beans, but more as a body lotion and shampoo than an actual foodstuff.  He waited patiently whilst I mopped the floor and gave Annie a bath (it was like baby soup!) and then tipped a cup of milk over Annie (and the freshly-mopped floor).

I REALLY want a COFFEE right now!

Time to go to my happy place.

Gorgeous Bunting

When we were on holiday in January, we stopped and had a coffee at this utterly charming teahouse in Airey’s Inlet.  It’s called Willows Tea House and is right next door to the Split Point Lighthouse.

Cafe Exterior

It was hard to take too many photos without looking like a total loony, but in the end I couldn’t help myself.

Cafe Table with bunting

Oooh!  Let’s have a closer look at that stool!

Stool

Here’s our table number:

table number painted rock

And here’s the key to the toilet (at this point, Mr Knightley politely suggested that I might, indeed, be totally bonkers):

teapot key

OK, I’m almost done, I promise!

pretty chairs

Here’s the most beautiful one of all:

Coffee

O Coffee!  Sweet Coffee!  How I long for thee!

Thank you for coming to the virtual café with me.  I really think I’m feeling a little better now.  I’m just going to go back and have another look at that glorious bunting!

Cafe Fail.

Babycino

I’ve given up coffee for Lent.  Not sure why I do this to myself, but I figure it must do me some good. I’m going to put my coffee money in the Project Compassion box and feel all virtuous and smug for forty days.  I’m three days in and already I’ve had enough.  I already wrote this post out in my everything-notebook and now in my coffee-deprived state I’ve gone and lost it and I just know it won’t come out as good this time around.

Grrr

Anyway, cast your mind back to Tuesday.  It was Shrove Tuesday and my last chance to have a coffee before Lent.  Unfortunately it was also a school half-day, so I would have all four of my darlings to share this special time with.  But I’ve got this situation to work well in the past and, by gum, I would make three-children-and-a-baby-in-a-café work this time.  Surely they owe it to me?

I went to the supermarket with them first and Harry and I played the game where Harry hands me random items which he considers essential and I systematically restore them to the shelves.  My sister called me at one point, but as the entirety of our conversation consisted of me yelling directions at my children, I told her I’d call her back at a better time.  Other than this, it all went pretty well until the last aisle, when I (rather stupidly) said aloud “and now all we need to get are the eggs!”.  Christopher Robin and Harry both exclaimed “I’ll get it!” and raced to the end of the (long) aisle.  I moved, as quickly as a person pushing a shopping-laden stroller can, through trolleys and old people, to the egg section.  There, amid a small circle of spectators, Christopher Robin and Harry were wrestling over a carton of extra-large, free-range eggs (“I’m helping Mummy!”, “No! I’M HELPING MUMMY!”)

Somehow, I managed to confiscate the eggs and administer some lame reprimands to the boys.  Miraculously, the eggs managed to escape their ordeal unscathed and so, seeing this as a good omen, I set off to our favourite child-friendly coffee haunt.

As this was to be the last coffee I was to have before Easter (or at least St Patrick’s Day), I was going to make it count, so I ordered I larger size than my usual small cappuccino and added extra fancy flavours (deluxe).  The barista chatted pleasantly to Matilda, Christopher Robin and Harry as he put together their custom-made free babycinos and my children, cheerfully and all of one accord, failed to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.

I sipped and savoured and spoon-fed Annie with chocolate-dusted milk foam when it occurred to me that now would be a good time to call my sister back.  It would seem I was having an abundance of stupid ideas on this day.  But I love my sister and she lives far away so we don’t get to talk as much as I would like.  I didn’t want to become the Boring Older Sister who is so wrapped up in her children that she can’t possibly take an interest in anyone else’s life.  This was ‘Jan’, by the way, not ‘Cindy’, so it’s not like I’d scored sister-points by recently making her a hat either…

Accordingly, I contrived to continue chattering merrily whilst the following occurred:

  1. My three ambulatory children promptly absconded from the table and climbed onto an evil coin-operated Spiderman helicopter at the entrance of the café
  2. The weight of shopping bags caused the stroller to overturn, taking my remaining, rather startled, child with it.
  3. Matilda managed to climb her way to the top of the evil Spiderman helicopter and perched triumphantly on the rotor blades.
  4. Annie began to howl and I remembered that she needed to be fed (plus she’d just been for a ride in an unstable stroller…)
  5. Matilda started to clamber down again as I gave her the evil eye (as evil as one can give when one’s arms are full of fallen grocery bags)
  6. Matilda got stuck halfway down and then rescued by some random man
  7. I felt everybody’s eyes on me and realized with dismay that I had become That Woman, who talks on her mobile phone whilst her children misbehave.

I had to end the conversation when

8.  I couldn’t see Harry anywhere.

But then I could (he was climbing all over the cake fridge and Christopher Robin quite happily joined him in this endeavour.)

After shouting random threats and gathering up groceries and offspring, I stalked off to the car.  Once everyone was strapped into place and I sat in the driver’s seat.  I launched into a tearful and incoherent rant about “coffee” and “your aunty” and “just for once in your life”.

Matilda piped up in a  small voice, “you can listen to what you like on the radio on the way home, Mummy, and we won’t complain at all”

“That’s COLD COMFORT!” I snapped.  But I put the radio on anyway.

I felt better by the time I got home.  At least I could get a blog post out of this experience.  And it was probably a good thing we weren’t going back to that café until after Easter.  I sent the children upstairs to clean their rooms and started unpacking the groceries.

Hmmm.

It would appear the eggs did not survive their adventure in the stroller.

 

When I told my mum this story, she suggested I find an all-natural organic substitute for coffee: “like, you know – whiskey”

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have an Irish coffee without the coffee.  Because I’m being good.