Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Taking Stock: Making time for me

Term 4 has hit me like a snowball rolling down a mountain, and my level of 'busy'ness (as apposed to business) seems to be gaining momentum as I speak.  Life with three kids just seems to take over everything and all those clear visions I gained at the Pro Blogger Conference I went to a couple of months back have stared to blur into the background.

I recently read a post about 'taking stock' of your life at this current moment by one of my favourite bloggers, Che at IndieBerries (which you can read here).  It really got me thinking - that before I disappear into a life of homework, ironing, cooking dinners and negotiating tantrums I need to stop this train and just take stock of where I am right now!  Don't get me wrong, being a mum is awesome and truly rewarding (most of the time) but I do need some things for me too - to keep my sanity if anything.
Image sourced from Pinterest
Making: I'm in the middle of making 'get ready charts' to try and streamline our morning routines. It can get a little crazy trying to get out the door on time for school in the mornings and with Miss H starting school next year I need to organise the chaos!!  I would much rather be making an e-book or something similar but more on that another time (when I have time!!!!)
Cooking:  I have just cooked a load of kid friendly thermomix dinners and put them in the freezer!!  I know, I know I'm showing off aren't I?  I have actually been working on part two of a post I did  My top five super easy kids dinners in the Thermomix.  It has been so popular that I thought I would do another one to add some more variety.
Drinking: A cup of Buddha's Tears.  Except this time I am doing my best not to spill it all over my hand causing severe burns (yes I did that!!).
Reading:  Do blogs count?? I have actually just finished reading 'The Help'.  My lovely neighbour brought a kindle from her book club for me to borrow.  It was so thoughtful of her that I couldn't give it back without reading anything.  Great book - I need to see the movie now.  Has anyone seen it??
Wanting:  Ahhhh this is a bad one - I could go on an on and on!!  What I really want the most right now is a little trip back to London to meet my new niece and to see my friends and family.  It's been ages since we've been back and I'm really missing everyone :((((
Looking:  At a beautiful, big Jacaranda tree outside my window that is in full purple bloom. Gorgeous!!!
Playing:  James Morrison.  Really missing the Brits now aren't I?
Wasting:  Away!  I haven't had any lunch yet and I'm starving, but if I don't get going on this post Miss L will wake up from her sleep and my precious lunch time golden hour will be gone. Food, you will just have to wait!!
Sewing:  If only!!!  But if someone wants to sew me a bunting, I could really do with one for Master J's new bedroom??????
Wishing:  My golden lunch time hour was a bit longer.
Enjoying:  The quiet.  When you have three noisy kids, silence really is golden!
Waiting:  For the Foxtel man (or lady) to come and install a multi-room TV box.  I'm actually quite excited about having our lounge TV back.  Cartoons are strictly for the playroom from now on (I hope........)
Liking:  The family photos that Mr D has just put up on the walls of our new house.  It's really starting to feel like home now :)
Loving:  My kids.  Man they drive me crazy some days, but really they are all just scrumptious, gorgeous little people!
Hoping: My sprained ankle would hurry up and heal so that I can get back to my fitness class. My fight against the baby bulge is on going.......
Marvelling:  At the incredibly amazing job the fire fighters are doing here in NSW to protect everyone from the horrible bush fires over the last week.
Needing:  Some technical and design help for my blog.  I get so frustrated that I can't do it myself!
Smelling:  The Frangipani flowers wafting in from outside.
Wearing:  A red and yellow maxi dress and flip flops (or thongs - I still can't get used to that word for shoes, it's underwear!!).
Following:  All news on the disappearance on Madeline McCann.  This story for some reason has stuck with me since the very first day it happened.  I just so wish they could find her.
Noticing:  That sugar free diets seem to becoming more and more trendy!  Is it really possible to be completely sugar free ALL THE TIME??
Thinking:  About what to get Master J from his birthday.  He turns 7 next week.  SEVEN!!!
Knowing:  That my mum and dad are coming to visit us at the end of this year.  I CAN NOT WAIT!
Bookmarking:  All ideas for a new project that I have up my sleeve for next year.  Watch this space!!  Oh and all things Christmas - it tends to creep up on me.
Opening:  A packet of raw almonds (still not had lunch yet!)
Giggling:  At Miss L's dance moves.  She's got the hip swing down!!
Feeling:  Overwhelmed.  I have got so much I want to do and I just don't know where to start!!

It was actually quite therapeutic doing that.

When was the last time you took stock of the right now???  I challenge you to do it.

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Monday, 21 October 2013

A deliciously healthy smartie cookie recipe

Ok, maybe it's not totally healthy - it does have smarties on top and I'm pretty sure they don't fall into the 'healthy eating' section these days.  However it is a pretty healthy version of the traditional smartie cookies - and if you really wanted to, you could leave the smarties off, but I think you've got to have a little bit of naughty every now and again don't you think??  The kids will love you for it!!  I'd far rather my kids eat these because I know exactly what's in them than some of the cookies you buy these days which are just full of sugar (and smarties)!!

125g butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
130g maple syrup
150g plain or wholemeal flour
40g oats
40g desiccated coconut
40g almonds (or almond meal)
pinch of salt
3 tsps chia seeds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 packet of smarties


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place the almonds in the thermomix bowl and whizz on speed 9/10 for 20 seconds until they become a fine powder.  Set aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the egg, maple syrup, butter and vanilla to the bowl and mix on speed 7 for 20 seconds.  Scrape down the side and repeat for a further 10 seconds.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients and mix on reverse speed 7 for 10 seconds or until combined.
  5. Set the thermomix to the closed lid position and knead the mixture for 1 minute until it become a dough.
  6. Roll into balls (whatever size you like) and flatten them slightly with the back of a spoon.
  7. Press the smarties quite firmly into the top of each cookie. 
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a slightly golden colour. 

These cookies are not very sweet which is why the smarties on top make all the difference.  I came to this recipe after a little bit of trial and error (I was actually trying to make something completely different but ended up here - as you do).

Do you ever bake with trial and error???


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Saturday, 19 October 2013

My daughter is scared of swimming? How do I encourage her to learn?

This is a post where I am hoping to get some advice from you.

My little fish WON'T get in a swimming pool!!  Miss H is going to be five next April and she still can't swim.  Considering we live in an area that is almost completely surrounded by water, this is a problem and a real worry for me.

As a baby she absolutely loved the water and had no fear at all.  She would just throw herself in and we really have to keep an eye on her to make sure that her floatation devices were always on she thought she was invincible.

Miss H as a tiny tot - she was a real little fish then
I first took her to swimming lessons just before she turned two and after a few initial tears things were going great.  She had a lovely teacher and as long as I promised we'd have a baby chino after the lesson she was always excited to go.

After about a year she progressed to the next level and that's when things started to go horribly wrong.  I'm not sure if it was because she was the only girl in a class full of boys (that were all a bit older than her) or if it was because she started to do a little bit of swimming un-aided?  But either way - she FREAKED OUT and every class got worse and worse!  The worse part was that she had learned to get out of the pool by herself, so she'd get out just before her turn and run straight to the changing rooms.  I'd have to go and get her out and bring her back, and it would just happen again and again.

Before the fear set in
I was pregnant with Miss L at the time and the bigger I got, the harder it was to lean over the pool side and comfort her.  I had visions of me toppling over and falling into the water like a huge whale!!  Once Miss L was born it all became too difficult and so we pulled her out of her lessons all together.

It's been over a year now and although she loves the water, she can't actually swim and she is absolutely adamant that she is never ever ever going to learn!!!  If her feet can touch the ground in a swimming pool then she is as happy as unicorn on a rainbow, but actual swimming - NO WAY!!

Last weekend I tried to take her into the swimming pool with a life jacket on, just so she could feel what it's like to float and she totally flipped out.  She almost drew blood from my arm her grip was so tight, and I had to take her out immediately.  All I could see in her eyes was genuine fear and I just have no idea where it has come from.

I am desperate for her to learn to swim, not just from an all important safely aspect but also because I don't want her to miss out on all the water fun this summer.

Do I force her to back into lessons or should I wait until she is older??

Do you have a child with a fear?  How do you deal with it?

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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Kidstore Launch plus a $100 GIVEAWAY. Trendy, affordable & adorable kids clothes in Australia.

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I were invited to the launch of the Kidstore and of course we said YES!!  It was held on the last day of the school holidays so I had all three kids with me for this one.  Master J was not particularly impressed about being taken away from watching the big ships sailing into Sydney harbour for the Fleet Review to go and have his photograph taken. However, once we got there it took about a spit second for him to realise that actually this was going to be a lot of fun! (I did tell him it would be, but he never listen to me!!).
From the minute we walked into the studio I just knew that this was going to be a great brand to work with.  You know when you just know!! (and it had nothing to do with the cupcakes or the delicious lolly bar).
The kids were absolutely spoilt rotten and were gifted the cutest little outfits to model amongst giant cardboard dolls.  I was amazed at how much Master J loved his photo shoot and THAT bright yellow shirt......... it didn't come off for the next three days!!!  He later told me that he looked like a really cool teenager!. Miss H loved her dress too (especially as it was a twirly one) and she did look as cute a button in it.  The bright colours and the quality of the fabric was so gorgeous that several people have since commented and asked where I got it from.  Miss L was a bit more tricky to catch on camera as she was only doing what SHE wanted to do and NOT what anyone else told her to do!! But she also looked cute as a button (if I do say so myself!!)
The whole team at the Kidstore were just wonderful.  They genuinely LOVE their brand and what they do and it really is 'all about the kids.'  While the lovely Sianna enthusiastically took me though the new range of kids clothes, the rest of the team took the time to sit and chat to my kids (over cupcakes and lemonade of course).  Master J later told me that "those ladies were so nice mummy".

The Kidstore is Australia's newest kids clothing label and their first store was opened in 2012. They now have 15 stores across the county with my nearest being Warringah Mall (Sydney's Northern Beaches).  They are actually owned by the same company that owns the more well known brand Best & Less.

The clothes are right on trend, fabulously soft and the colours are just gorgeous!  All of their ranges encourage kids to just be themselves, mix and match, and to have fun with their clothes. There was even a t-shirt called the 'butt crack bear!" which Master J though was hilarious!! (typical boys humour!  You see.......they get it!!). 

There gorgeous new dress up range is out now too and ready just in time for Halloween. 

"Spots DO go with stripes!"

The prices are around mid range with items ranging from $10 up to $60, so totally affordable and the quality will most definitely last.
The lovely team at the Kidstore have given me a $100 gift voucher to give away to one of you lovely readers.  This is an AWESOME price as shopping in a Kidstore is so much fun. They are bright and colourful and there is even a playroom!!!!  All you have to do is fill in the box below anytime between now and Sunday 27th October for your chance to win.  I also have another $100 Gift Voucher currently up for grabs over on my Facebook Page which will end on Friday 17th October.

Don't forget to check out their website too.  Not only can you order anything online (which I love) but there are some really cute downloadable stories and activities for the kids.

What's your favourite kids clothing range?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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*Disclosure:  I have not been paid to write this review however my kids were gifted the outfits that they wore at the photo shoot.   I was more than happy to review the Kidstore as they are a genuinely awesome brand with such lovely people working behind them.  All opinions are my own.  The giveaway is only open to Australian residents.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Five fabulous HALLOWEEN baking recipes

I've been so busy recently that I haven't done much baking at all.  My poor thermomix is sitting very sadly on the kitchen bench desperate for some love.  Miss H has also been on my case too - she's a real little baker in the making!!  This is the first weekend in ages that we haven't had too much on, so I've decided that it's going to be a baking one.  With Halloween coming up in the next couple of weeks (which my kids just LOVE) I thought 'why not do some halloween inspired baking?'  Who would have thought you could make such delicious treats with pumpkin??

Before I made a mad dash the supermarket (yes on a Saturday morning, crazy I know) I hit Pinterest for some ideas. There were so many beautiful and gorgeous recipes to try that it was so hard to choose.  Here are my top 5 (although I might have to do a 'part 2' to this post).

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Scones
These are from Lexi's clean kitchen.  I made these and loved them.  I love Lexi's blog too, it is full of delicious and super healthy recipes that are gluten, dairy (and often sugar) free.
Image Credit: Lexi's clean kitchen
Chocolate Ghost Cupcakes
I thought these little cuties were perfect for Miss H and I to make together - as they're not too complicated.  I just used my favourite chocolate cake recipe (which I'm sure you all have one too - or just grab a packet mix).  Add some white buttercream icing and voile!!  Oh but don't forget to decorate them with some chocolate drops.
Image credit:  I found this image on Pinterest but could not find it's original source.
Scary Face Brownies
For these cool dudes I used my Raw Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe and then we had heaps of fun making scary little monster faces on top with lollies and sweets.  Even Master J got involved in this one.  I found the original idea at Sprinkles and Grins.
Image credit: Sprinkles and Grins
Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Pumpkin Bread
Now this is one loaf that you actually have to try.  The kids weren't overly enamoured by it (the other more chocolaty treats were higher on their list of favourites), but this was MY favourite by far.  I got the recipe from a lovely blog called Julie's Eats & Treats.
Image credit:  Julie's Eats & Treats
Pumpkin & Marshmallow Rice Bubble Treats
What kid doesn't love rice bubble squares??  This is a really quick and easy halloween twist to your traditional rice bubble squares and it's super yum and fun to make!!  This little gem originally came from Gabby at the Essentially Eclectic Blog.
Image Credit:  Essentially Eclectic
I've used up whole pumpkin (well the butternut squash version) today so it can't be all bad and I think I have enough treats to last 'ahem' a week maybe??  I might have to ask the neighbours round for afternoon tea today.

If you have any great Halloween recipes, please do share them?

Happy Halloween Baking!

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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Kids quad bikes and red bellied black snakes

I thought Master J's eyes were going to pop out of his head when he spotted the kid sized quad bike!  "Can I ride it my myself?" he asked, about 5 times, just to make sure the answer was still yes!!

Mr D took him round the house yard on it a few times and when I saw him yelling "YEEEEEEEAAAHHH" at the top of his voice, hanging off the end of the bike with one hand in the air I knew he was ready.  Not sure we were though!

Not so long before that Farmer Ian had told us to be really vigilant about snakes (just what I needed to hear) as the heat and the recent bush fires had brought them all out of hiding, AND he'd just that morning seen a big black one.  "Now don't get me wrong" he said "They'd not going to jump out and bite ya, but I'd hate to see these kiddies tangled up with one of them.  They can be pretty nasty if you get a bite!"

"Oh jeez!" I thought, that's all I need.  Suddenly everything around me started to look very 'snakey' and I had a sudden urge to go inside and put my shoes on.  The kids made me jump about 10 times with a stupid plastic snake that they would strategically place someone they knew would catch me.  The damn snake didn't even look real and it still got me EVERY time.

Master J was so fascinated by the fact that there were actual real, live, deadly snakes lurking around us that his usual barrage of questions jumped up a gear.  Poor Farmer Ian got it in the ear for at least half an hour.  He was very patient and sat Master J on his knee, took off his great big farmer hat, and took all of Master's J's questions VERY seriously.  "Where did you see the snake this morning?  How long was it?  How fat was it?  Was it deadly? Which is worse a black or a brown snake? Have you seen a brown one?  How many are on this farm? Have you been bitten before?  Will I see one?  What should I do if I see one??????..........."
Image credit! I didn't get my own picture as I was too busy making sure I was NOWHERE near it!
After he was satisfied on the snake front his attention was back on the quad bike and we couldn't get him off it!!  Poor Mr D had to run around behind him, in the blazing heat, for his first few laps around the house yard just incase he had to pull the stop cord.  After a while he got the hang of it and we sat down to try enjoy a drink (chilled wine of course) on the deck, but every few minutes Mr D would be yelling out "Watch out for the washing line!!" or "Stay away from the house!"  I think it might be a while before he gets his full L plates!!

Suddenly we heard him SCREAM!  We couldn't see him as he was behind the house and we couldn't make out what he was saying but we both jumped up and bolted so fast I knocked my drink over.  I had visions of him having fallen off the bike with it still going, or he'd crashed into heart was in my mouth.  We got around the corner and he was off the bike, just standing next to it and we could now hear that he was screaming "SNAKE SNAKE!!" and sure enough there really was one!

A rather big red bellied black snake was sliding it's way (pretty damn fast) across the perfectly mowed lawn of the house yard towards the bush.  Mr D and Master J followed (not too closely) behind it, watching it go while I ran as fast as I could in the other direction and on to higher grown!

I think it might just have made Master J's day and we were very proud of him for reacting so well and doing just what Farmer Ian had told him to do.

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10 Minute chocolate drop cookie recipe for the Thermomix

This is seriously the quickest and easiest recipe for making a batch of cookies ASAP.  I made these this morning while the kids were having their breakfast and they were ready in time for their school lunch boxes.  I used my thermomix but as always you can easily make them without one.
125g butter
200g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
400g plain flour

  1. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.
  2. Put the butter, sugar and vanilla in the thermomix and cream together for 15 seconds on speed 7/8.
  3. Add the egg and mix for 15 seconds on speed 4/5
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and mix on speed 6 for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the side and repeat.
  5. Line your tray with baking paper and roll out the dough into little balls.  Press your finger into the middle of each ball to make a hole.
  6. Add a smallish drop of Nutella into each hole and pop the tray into the oven.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. 

It might be an idea to make a double batch as these seriously don't last long at all!!

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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Blue skies, vast open spaces, wine, quad biking, tractor riding and some good old fashioned R & R - A weekend trip to the farm for Wordless Wednesday

Last weekend we drove the three hour trip to Bulahdelah to spend the long weekend with friends on farm.  I spent a lot of time on my grandparents farm as a little girl and from the minute we arrived I felt myself being instantly transported back twenty odd years to those carefree days. There was just so much open space and the sky goes on for MILES that I felt like I just couldn't breath enough of it.

Seeing the kids so happy was just music for my soul too.

I will also have to tell you about Master J's encounter with a big, fat red-bellied black snake!!!!! But I'll save that for another post!

Linking up as always with Trish from My Little Drummer Boys and Bree from Twinkle in the Eye

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Should Primary School homework be banned?

I’ve often heard mums say that they don’t believe that young children in their first few years of school should have any homework at all.  I’ve also heard how having homework really helps the children by reinforcing classroom learning.  To be honest, until very recently it’s never actually affected me enough to have an opinion either way.
My eldest son is now in year 1 (average age 6-7) and we are really starting to struggle to find the time to do all his homework.  I use the royal ‘we’ when referring to his homework, because at his age it really does involve me too.  He is not quite old enough yet to be left to his own devices to just ‘get on with it’.
Across the week he is expected to read a ‘home reader’ book every night, learn 20 spelling words for a test on Friday, complete two math’s tasks and an online ‘reading egg’ task.  It’s not a huge amount in the grand scheme of things and he is very good at doing it once we actually get down to the task in hand.  However, the problem that I am finding is the right time to do his homework.  After a full day at school he just wants to get out of his uniform and head out to play.  Trying to get him to do homework at this time is hopeless as his concentration level is zero – and to be honest I don’t blame him.   After he’s burnt off some steam and had a good play, we’re then heading straight into my favourite time of day……the dinner time, bath time chaos – or the witching hour as I prefer to call it.
This is an even worse time for homework as I now have three children who are tired, cranky and HUNGRY!!!  I need to get dinner on the table quickly and get them all ready for our evening routine.  I just don’t have the time to give him the one on one attention he needs from me at this time of the day.  Leaving it too late in the evening can be just as disastrous as he is now exhausted and those concentration levels are no better.
Some days we get it right and we manage a good bite size chunk of the weeks work, but all too often it often ends up in a huge battle between him and I, which I’m pretty sure is not good for anyone.
So I guess my question is ‘when is a good time to do homework at this age and how much is too much?’  I completely agree that homework really does help reinforce all that they have been learning at school, but at such a young age, after a full day of school, is it just a bit too much to fit into their day – every day?
I would love to know how you feel about all the homework that has snuck its way into your daily routine.  Are you for or against it? Or is there some kind of compromise that I’m missing?

(This articlewritten by me, was originally seen on the Parenting Files)

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The BEST ever healthy dips in jam jars for kids snacks, picnics or BBQ's

It's mid way through the school holidays and my kids are eating me out of house and home!! They seem to be hungry every 10 minutes and as soon as I've finished up with breakfast (which is a little later than the usual school mornings), they're asking me for morning tea!!

It's so hard to make sure that they're eating healthy snacks all the time and it's so disheartening when you bake up a lovely batch of cookie's and they're gone in a half a day!!  The holidays are TWO WEEKS!!

I discovered that dips were the answer!!  Don't get me wrong, I've still had to bake several batches of cookies and several banana bread loaves, but dips seems to fill in the gaps perfectly - and they're healthy.  I just left them in the fridge with some chopped up veg and a tin of crackers, and they just helped themselves when they were hungry.  Well Master J has been helping the girls, relieving me of the constant sound of "Muuuuuuuuuuum I'm hungry!"

I'm a bit of a jar collector and so putting my dips into jam jars seemed the perfect thing to do. They look so cute and they're awesome to take out and about if you're heading to the park or the beach or even a BBQ.

I got my recipes from the Thermomix Every day Cookbook, but I have adapted them all slightly to suit us.  I did use my thermomix to make these but don't worry if you don't have one, all you need is a good blender or food processor.

TUNA DIP (an absolute favourite in our house)
you will need:
  • 30g or a small handful of nuts (I use either almonds or walnuts)
  • A  large tsp of vegetable stock or a few sprigs of parsley
  • 60g Mayonnaise (not salad cream) I use Helmans Light
  • 1 block (250g) cream cheese
  • 1 180g tin of tuna
  • salt and pepper to taste
Throw the nuts and parsley (if using it) into the thermomix and whizz for about 5 seconds on speed 7, until they are crushed, but not quite to a fine powder.  Scrape down the sides and add everything else.  Whizz on speed 5 for 15 seconds, then scrape down the sides and repeat.

You will need:
  • 100g sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 block (250g) cream cheese 
Add everything except the cream cheese to the thermomix and whizz for 15-20 seconds on speed 8.  Scrape down the sides and add the cream cheese.  Whizz for 20 seconds on speed 4-5, then scrape down the sides and repeat.

You will need:
  • 400g tin of chick peas
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 tbs Tahini
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add everything to the thermomix except the lemon.  Close the lid and squeeze the lemon over the top so that the juice drips in without the pips falling in.  Then whizz for 1 minute on speed 4.  I sometimes whizz mine a little longer as my kids like a smoother consistency.  For a courser consistency maybe only whizz for 20-30 seconds.

Pop them all into pretty jars and they're ready to be eaten.  You can store them in the fridge for a few days but don't quote me on how many - mine never last more than 2 or 3 before they're eaten.

If you've got any great dip recipes I'd love to hear them.

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