Monday, December 19, 2011

{Social Media} Secret Santa

Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in a Social Media Secret Santa, the brain child of Fat Mum Slims' Chantelle.
What better way to celebrate the festive season than to not only 'stalk' one wonderful lady, but also, to get to know a bunch of other ladies in the big wide virtual world of blogging, tweeting and all that is Social Media!

I thought I'd share a little of the Christmas Spirit and show off some pics of the gift I sent, and the one i received as well!

I thoroughly enjoyed 'stalking' my secret santa recipient (i even got lost in her blog, forgetting what i was there for!) and found her answers to a few questions posed on the Facebook Group really helpful. I just hope that she loved her gift!

Wrapped and ready to go!
After posting off my gift, and seeing that she had received and liked it, I sat back and waited patiently (Ok, so I harrassed the Postie and any other passerby) until the day my beautiful gift arrived!

Gorgeous right?!
 And was soo pleased with what was inside...

Add caption
My Secret Santa (who at this point is still a secret, but shhh, i think i might know who it is! ;)) did such a wonderful job of picking a gift for me. I especially love the little birdie, and the apron!

THANKYOU SECRET SANTA!

And thank you to Chantelle for organising the whole thing!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Top 5 things to DIY in the Kitchen

I should have been a houswife in the 50's, or maybe even before then!
I love making my own sauces,  jams, etc!

So for a quick post, here is my Top Five list of things you really should try DIY-ing!

1.Make your own Pasta sauce - Soo so easy. Grab a bag tomatos off the clearance, or grow your own, add some herbs and seasoning, and your set!

2.Make Your own Jam - Even if you only do it now and then, It is soo much yummier than store bought and a great way to use up fruit. You can also control the amount of sugar thats in it, which is always a bonus!

3.Pizaa Bases and Bread - Ok so i mostly buy bread, but homemade bread is a nice treat! Pizza Bases, however, are always homemade in this house. So cheap, so easy, and again, really delicious!

4.Grow your own herbs and vegetables- Fresh herbs on hand - whats not to love? Try Basil, Thyme and maybe some Parsley. We've only had minimal success with some types of vegetable , but beans, spring onions and strawberries are normally good options to start off with. Our Lettuce has definitely been a good addition to our little vegie garden.

5. Pasta - No, I am not anti- bought pasta, but since i find it fun to make my own pasta, i challenge you to try it! I rarely by lasagne sheets anymore, and have even started hiding vegies IN the pasta!

These Lasagne Sheets have Spinach in them!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipe - {Parmesan Crusted Chicken with CousCous}

I dont know about you, but cooking dinner every night gets to be quite a uninteresting chore for me.
I love cooking, but it feels like we're eating the same few things, even when our meals are going in a 3 week (or more) cycle.

To make this very un-fun but necessary task a bit more enjoyable, I have started to venture out a bit with my cooking, and experiment. I have also been trying to use up whatever meat we have in our freezer, so that we can clean it out.

On the menu for last night was a meal using chicken breast. Normally, i would just make a stirfry, or something similar, but in the spirit of adventure, i created the following recipe pretty much from scratch!


{Parmesan Crusted Chicken with CousCous} 
With White Wine Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
4 servings of chicken breast (we used 2 large breasts for 2 adults and 3 toddlers and it was plenty!)

For the crust:
1/3 cup fine Parmesan cheese
1 slice of bread (I used multigrain)
1 tsp crushed garlic
Pinch of oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Melted butter

For the Sauce:
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c stock 
300ml cream
2tbs shallots, finely diced
1tbs oil or butter

Method:
 
  1. Preheat oven to 180 Celsius
  2. Place all crumb ingredients except butter in a food processor or stick mixer, and blend till combined well. 
  3. Lay chicken pieces in a greased baking tray and brush generously with melted butter
  4. Press crumb onto chicken to cover the top surface. 
  5. Place in oven till crust is golden, and chicken is cooked through (approx 30mins - use a sharp knife through a piece to check for doneness) 

Meanwhile prepare sauce:

  1. Place oil or butter in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. 
  2. Saute shallots. 
  3. Add wine and bring to the boil. Lower heat to simmering and reduce to half its original volume. 
  4. Add stock, and simmer to reduce liquid to about 1/2 c in total. 
  5. Add cream, and simmer till thick, but do not boil. 
  6. Season, and serve hot.
Prepare Couscous according to packet instructions


Overall, the recipe worked perfectly! Hubby was much impressed, and all 3 toddlers gave it their seal of approval!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Older

Photo: http://umeandwe.blogspot.com/

Prompt word: Older.

Go HERE to get the details.  You write for 5 minutes.  Just write... without thinking or editing your words.  


GO.
 Older... my girls are getting older and i dont like it! I love that i am watching them grow  into wonderful little people, I love that they are more beautiful than i ever expected, and its wonderful but as they get older, they get closer to leaving me! 
Just the other day i was thinking about this! They go to daycare 2 days a week and i miss them the whole time they are gone! And before i know it Miss E will be at big school and then i will miss her for 5 days a week! thats not so long away!

And i am getting older..moving on from this last baby phase and onto...onto what? Well i guess we will all see soon enough! and that is exciting, but i still miss my babies, miss enjoying them when they are little, and watching them learn those first things. 

Its also exciting that as a couple we are getting older, more mature together. Its quite strange to remember back when we were first married, and compare that to now! Things have changed so much, and i guess that is the essence of what i think of when i think of 'Older' I think of Change, and how it makes me miss the way things were, but also how it is good and exciting!


Older.... i look forward to that! 

STOP

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raising a 'spirited' child.

Strong-willed. Determined. Independent. Opinionated.
These are just some of the words you could use to positively described my almost 4 yr old.
Whatever you want to call it, there's no doubt that parenting her takes an extra measure (or ten!) of patience!


I don't know how many of you have children like this, but I am forever on the hunt for any tips, tricks, rountines etc. that may help make parenting my 'spirited' child easier, and make our household happier and run smoother!

I came across an article yesterday entitled 'How to raise a Spirited Child'.
Some of the tips they offered, we already employ, and it was reassuring to have that confirmed by somebody else. We've already found that giving Miss E notice of change, and sticking to a routine so she can anticipate what is coming, help immensely with her behavior. I also try not to get into situations that i know are going to end badly (like, shopping trips when she's tired). They also made a few suggestions that sounded interesting and that i plan to try out.
And i continue my search!

Do you have any tips for 'raising a spirited child' or just for a happier home in general? 

{Macaroons} - Attempt 2

Ever since watching the grand finale of Masterched 2010, I have wanted to make Macaroons. I love the vivid colours! Now, I've never tasted macaroons, so even if i do eventually get the texture right, i won't know it!

I recently attempted to make a batch of these apparently delicious treats, and failed miserably! (no photographic evidence, which is unfortunate, because you'll just have to take my word for how much i've improved!)

My second attempt worked out ALOT better than the first.....


Stay tuned for Attempt Three..scheduled to happen tonight!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A little Project - hairband holder

My girls have recently aquired quite a collection of cute little hairbands.
I fell in love with them when i was lucky enough to win a couple of sets on a friends blog, Busy Brissy Mum. She now has a little Facebook business and i can't help myself!
I do find, however, that i had nowhere to store the bands that was accessible, orderly and well, pretty!
'Little Piggies' from Ruby Jean

I happened to have a blank plaque hanging around in my craft stuff. So after a little bit of pasting and nailing, I now have a pretty answer for my problem. I still plan to do something with the middle of the plaque (unless i fill it up with more bands before i get a chance!)

(Yes, there are a couple missing. My girls won't go anywhere without wearing them!)


Forgive the wall paper...its going eventually!

Bake Up - Simple Baking Recipes

One benefit of being more organised around the home, and especially in the kitchen, is that we spend less on groceries. I am loving this because it means that we can buy some 'special' items, or save the excess money for other way more interesting things than groceries!
Today, I only have the youngest 2 of the 4 at home, and as they both sleep half the day, I decided to do a bit of a bake up. I started off with the goal to use simple recipes that used the ingredients i had on hand, nothing fancy.
First up was this lovely 'Bounty Cake'. I found the recipe on what is quickly becoming one of my favourite blogs... Just Love To Bake. Now before you go visiting here, beware of all the tempting recipes! I mean it! I can feel my waistline increasing just reading them, let alone making them!
This one, however, isnt too naughty, especially if you leave of the icing, which would still taste yum (Not that i did that :))



I also made apple muffins and berry muffins using this all purpose muffin recipe.

And a carrot cake without egg, since we ran out!

We already had some biscuits around, so i havent yet had need to, but i am planning to try out this great 4 ingredient recipe from  Stay at Home Mom. This is said to make 120 biscuits for $4! Now thats impressive!

I must say, all this baking has my home smelling beautiful on this wintery day! And we now have a lovely stock of yummy morning teas in the freezer for when i start uni back on Monday!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Getting Organised- Meal Planning

Recently I have stumbled across a number of websites/blogs all about organisation in the house and home. One of my favourites is Super Organised Mum. Jade is mum to 2 boys, and seems to be THE most organised person alive. She shares her tips and love for all thing organisational in a very helpful blog.

With the addition of number 4 ( making 6 all up), our house is desperately in need of some new routines and organisation to keep us all sane. I've been attempting to take on some of Jade's ideas to make our household run a little smoother, and one of my favourites has to be from a recent post, sharing her "To Do List" and "Meal Planning" setup. (You can see the original posts Here.)

I loved her clipboards and planners so much that i just had to make my own, so here is my very own clipboard and my Meal Planner for this week (next weeks is on the reverse side, ready to go!).


Before I did our grocery shop, I planned out what meals i wanted to have for the fortnight, to make sure i got the ingredients. I did forget a couple (oops!) so I have written in the 'grocery list' section the items i still need to get, or that we run out of during the week.
This clipboard has pride of place above our dishwasher, so both Tim and I can clearly see what is for dinner, and also, jot down anything that is getting low or empty.

Be sure to check out Jade's blog for more great ideas, and if you're interested, below are a couple more great pages for tips and ideas to help with house organisation, food budgeting and cleaning:

The Organised Houswife

Stay At Home Mum- The Secret to Living On one Wage

Once A Month Mom 

Do you have any useful tips or tricks for staying organised around the home? 

Monday, July 4, 2011

{Sweet Potato Damper}- Egg and Dairy Free!

It seems every second person has a food allergy or intolerance these days, be it egg, dairy, gluten.
I recently picked up a cook book for Allergy Free Baking, and given that i had no eggs in the house anyway, I decided to give the following egg and dairy free recipe a try. (And for a bonus, its healthy and contains vegetable!)
The original recipe calls for gluten-free SR flour, but i used ordinary SR flour as gluten is a problem with our family. I also replaced the milk and margarine with lactose free versions, to make it friendly for my lactose intolerant daughter.


SWEET POTATO DAMPER
Ingredients:
1 2/3 cupa Self-Raising Flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
20g Nuttelex Margarine
1/2 cup mashed sieved cooked sweet potato
1/2 cup lactose free buttermilk*
2 tbls water

(*Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line, Let stand for five minute)
Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 C (fan-forced). Grease a baking tray
2. Sift dry ingredients into large bowl; rub in margarine. Add sweet potato, buttermilk and enough water to make a soft sticky dough. Knead until smooth
3. Divide dough into small balls (makes roughly 9), place on baking tray and cook for 15-20 mins

ENJOY!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

{Custard Puff Recipe}

This week I have been enjoying not being pregnant, and not having uni work to do! Its amazing what you can do in a day when you dont get exhausted just getting up!

I have had a few little sewing things to finish, but mostly, i have been baking! I think i have made atleast 3 pies, not to mention a number of batches of slice, and these little goodies were for a morning tea picnic that the girls, Tim and I took down to the park near our house:
These Custard Puffs are so easy and yummy, especially for a quick dessert or warm winter morning tea.
To make these simply,
1. Make up some custard (I used custard powder, but if you want to make real custard, there is a recipe here), and let it cool.

2. Thaw a sheet of puff pastry, cut into 9 squares.

3. Then you just need to put a generous spoon of custard onto each square of pastry, and fold to make a triangle.

4. Press edges with a fork to seal, and pop in the oven on 200 C until Golden brown!

ENJOY!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

{Handmade Gifts}

I love creating! Baking, sewing, scrapbooking...I love it all!
I also love making things for other people. I get a sense of satisfaction in having made something that someone else can enjoy, and i think that handmade presents are extra special because you have put the time and thought into creating something just for them!

Recently I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and my lovely eldest sister so kindly gave up her nights sleep to sit with my girls while we were at the hospital. To thank her, I made her this pie...which almost didn't make it to her, as my husband has a whole mouth of sweet teeth!


We also have a 1st Birthday party on the weekend for the daughter of some friend of ours. I loved putting this little outfit together for her, and just had to show it off! Hopefully both her and her parents love it as much as i do!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

{SWEET TOOTH}- Honey Bubble Crunch

I just wanted to share my favourite recipe at the moment. Its definitely a 'sometimes' food but i love it!
Good ole' Honey Bubble Crunch

Ingredients
  • 75g butter
  • 1/4 cup Sugar (recipe states 1/2 c but i think its too sweet!)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 cups rice bubble
  • 1 cup coconut (you could replace with crushed biscuits if you don't like coconut, or just add more bubbles!)

Method
  1. Melt butter, sugar and honey is a saucepan. Bring to the boil, but DO NOT let boil for more than 3 mins.
  2. Combine rice bubble and coconut in a large bowl
  3. Add butter mixture and mix to combine. 
  4. Press mixture into a lined dish (Approx 18cm x 28cm)
  5. Refrigerate till firm, then cut into squares. 

I like to drizzle chocolate over the top, or coat with a thin layer of chocolate/butter mixture and add sprinkles!
Beware....its addictive!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A post for February

I have been so busy lately, between the girls, working around house renovations, sewing and preparing for Uni, which i started today!I feel like i've barely had time to breathe, let alone Blog!

So on this hot summery day, here is a summary of February:
We ripped out our old bathroom/toilet/Laundry

I made the girls some clothes

We had some fun dinners!

Bronte was cheeky, but whats new!

We had friends over for dinner, and this was dessert!

We played with cousins who are also good friends!

And Elliott had a go at playing photographer, and captured my ever increasing bump!
What have you been up to this month?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Finally Summer!

It seems the Summer Fairies have finally found their way here, and have brought long hot days with them!
While it means that the girls can spend longer in the afternoons outside, It does mean that at around Dinner time, its still too hot to feel like cooking or eating anything heavy!
I've been struggling to find easy light dinners to serve up to the girls on these summery evenings. (There is only so many nights that you can claim Toasted Cheese Sandwiches as being dinner!)

Some of the meals that i have found are great include:

*Wraps or tortillas. Nice and light, and healthy too! My little two like them toasted, as they stay together alot better for them!
*Toasted sandwiches and Smoothies. This is one way i can justify the sanwiches, and still be giving them something healthy! Just throw an apple, banana, carrot and some juice and milk/yoghurt into a blender and you're set!
*Mixed Dinner. This is a term i got from my mum. It pretty much means a little bit of a few different things like, cut up ham, cubes of cheese, nuts, sultanas, carrot sticks, etc. I like to give them to the girls in Muffin Tin, as they love them all separated out, and tend to eat alot more.

What summery dinners do you like to make? I'd love some suggestions!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Terrific Toddlers - Where do i buy one??!

Today, like many other days recently, I have struggled to get my 2yr old, and 3 yr old to have a day sleep.
Bronte sleeps wonderfully still, perhaps because she hasnt realised there is any other option yet!
However, Elliott and Zoey sometimes adamantly refuse to sleep!
Now Elliott does quite fine without day sleeps 6 out of 7 days a week, but Zoey, on the otherhand, needs her beauty sleep! Without it, we end every day in constant sooking, tantrums and eventually, a toddler asleep face first in her dinner. Not really the result we're looking for!

Argh! So when todays attempt at a sleep ended the same as the last few days, i decided i needed to do something differently
"If you do what you've always done, You'll get what you've always gotten" 

I do remember a not so distant time, when my girls got along, and peace resided in our home, but lately, its been feeling like that was just a dream! Until I remembered what worked last time!
Now i dont know exactly how we strayed after the first round of revelation, perhaps it was adding a third near-toddler to the mix, but i do know that we can get back there!

So i pulled out my copies of Terrific Toddlers, and Terrific Toddlers 2 by Mel Hyde, and as soon as i started reading, all of that gold mine of information and techniques started pouring back!

Today is day one of having Terrific Toddlers again!
And even just in a couple of hours, I can see things working!