On August 3rd at 9:30pm, after a long and arduous journey, our twins Connor (left) and Maya (right) were delivered at the Baptist hospital of Miami.
The three weeks since then (and it only seems like this all happened a couple of days ago) have redefined how much sleep you really need to survive, although recently it’s pretty obvious I am ‘broken’ and find myself walking around in circles due to constantly switching between all the tasks I need to get done. Although we’re extremely exhausted, we’re also overjoyed and are so unbelievably happy. The fact that Maya and Connor are our children is slowly starting to sink in – for a while it felt like we were renting them. They are both very, very distinct in their movements, the sounds they make, the way they feed, and right now it’s hard to see how they could be brother and sister. However, Maya definitely has some of Adriana’s traits and Connor… well, his head size reflects mine that is for sure.
A flickr set of the initial photos from the hospital is up on Flickr here.
A flickr set from the in-house hospital photographer has also been uploaded here.
Adriana and I were out with friends at Markham Park in Broward on Sunday. It’s a pretty cool park that has a model airplane field, mountain bike trails, areas for jet skiing, a shooting range, and a Jamaican guy with a van that had a fully sick subwoofer, a couch, and 420,000 miles on the odometer.
I got distracted by a very active jumping spider, which was indifferent to my efforts to try and get it to ‘sit’ still. When you only have a depth of field of several millimetres as I do with my macro lens at its closest focus point, shooting a moving object can be frustrating. Having a speedlight handy gives some extra light so you can increase the f-stop and get a much larger depth of field, so I was happy I brought my whole kit along.
No, for some reason I didn’t get a photo of the van that had nearly travelled to the moon and back. Somehow at the time a common jumping spider seemed more interesting.
The last Australia Day I hosted was back in Australia and it involved beer, cricket, couches in a park and a TV with a looooong extension cord. I’d yet to host one in the United States, so I thought this year would be as good as any. Planning the full menu for a party of around eight people turned out to be a bit of a huge task, but I think it turned out fairly well (even though I was preparing and cooking food for nearly four hours… although I must admit, that time did fly). I’d nearly forgotten how many fantastic dishes there were to choose from, and thanks to the Internets, choosing the right recipe was made so much simpler.
For the starters I chose two dishes: Vegemite scrolls; and pork and fennel sausage rolls.
The sausage rolls turned out to be really light on the palate, and they tasted even better with a hint of tomato sauce (yeah, ok, ‘ketchup’). I nearly doubled the amount of spices in the mix, due in no small part because I was having so much fun with the pestle and mortar.
Vegemite scrolls are pretty easy to make. You just have to use a cheese with a lot of taste, and not lay the Vegemite on too thick on the puff pastry. Glaze the cut pastry rolls with egg, pop ’em in the oven and 15 mins later, Bob’s your uncle: tasty appetiser.
The main meal was the awesome ‘Aussie burger’. I chose to go with Bubba burgers with the following: egg, bacon, caramelised onions, beetroot, slightly fried pineapple, and tomato. Oh, and lettuce!
Preparing dessert is always my favourite part. I have made the golden syrup dumplings enough times that I’ve modified the recipe enough to be my own. For one thing, you can’t get (or it’s difficult to find) golden syrup over here, so I substitute in corn syrup instead. Secondly, I double the amount of the syrup mix that the dumplings cook in. Thirdly, I make the dumplings dry enough that you can roll them into balls. I find that this combined with the ice cream makes a nice set of complementary textures, tastes and temperatures (alliteration FTW).
Finally, the pavlova. I’d made the meringue base the previous night (with help from Adriana – thanks dear) but unfortunately the non-stick base it was cooked on was not exactly non-stick. Removing the meringue from its cooking pan captor unfortunately caused a few fractures. I’ve figured out what to use instead next time, at least, so lesson learned. Regarding the cream, you can buy whipping cream over here but it’s god-awful sweet (at least the ones I’ve tried are). After a bit of experimenting I made my own using heavy whipping cream, gelatine, and a wee bit of icing sugar (just enough to give a hint of sweetness). That was spooned over the top of the meringue, which was then topped with kiwi fruit and strawberries.
I think the night turned out to be a success, and a special thanks to Adriana for helping me prepare the food and putting up with my self-deprecating humour.