Friday, 28 February 2014

A Sydney Summer

Today is officially the first day of Autumn for us in the Southern Hemisphere.  I feel a little sad that summer is over and Sydney is doing her very best today to rub salt in the wound.  It's grey, dull, raining cats and dogs and all round miserable out there - oh and not to mention chilly.

I'm cheering myself up with a little online shopping (sssshhhhhhh don't tell Mr D) and some reminiscing over those gorgeous summer days that we had this year.

Here is my Sydney Summer.............

We didn't go away this summer but I think that we are lucky enough to live in one of the BEST corners of the world for a 'staycation'.

I do love Autumn too but I am most definitely a summer girl!!

What has been your best part of summer??  Or are you lucky enough to have summer just around the corner?

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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Gardening leave and a coconut lemon pound cake

So after 13 years of service at his current job Mr D has taken the plunge and decided to move on. It's a very exciting new chapter and I'm extremely proud of him.  BUT and yes there is a but...... he is now on Gardening Leave for the next month until his new job starts.  For those of your that haven't heard of Gardening Leave (and don't worry because I hadn't either) it's when your Company puts you on paid leave instead of working your notice period before leaving.  He's only been home a few days but he's driving me crazy already.

He has taken over my neatly organised desk AND my computer and not only can I NOT get any work done but I can't find anything either!!!  Not to mention the laying on the sofa playing games and telling me "Babe, I don't no what you complain about...staying at home all day is easy!!!" GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!  

He doesn't know it yet but I have decided that Gardening Leave is for gardening.  Literally.  I am desperate for someone to dig out all the weeds in the flower beds in our back yard and prepare them, so that I can plant sunflowers AND have a veggie patch.  I'm sure he can managed all that with a month at home.  Plus I know he is very good at it because he did up the garden in our last home in England.  So no excuses Mr D...... as soon as all this rain stops I will be putting your back to work!

Anyway I hope you all have a fabulous weekend and I will leave you with the DELICIOUS coconut pound cake recipe!!


120g butter
20g stevia (or a sugar free equivalent)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g plain flour
100g desiccated coconut
170g coconut cream (I used the light version)

Optional topping (This part is NOT sugar free)
3-4 tbs icing sugar
coconut cream
grated lemon rind
1/2 lemon
desiccated coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin with grease proof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and stevia together in the thermomix (or food processor) for 1 to 2 minutes on speed 6.  You will need to stop it and scrape down the sides every 20 seconds.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix for 10-15 seconds on speed 5 for each one.  On the last egg, add the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour and the desiccated coconut and mix for 1 minute on speed 4.  It should turn to a sticky dough consistency.
  5. Add the coconut cream and mix for 45 seconds on speed 5.
  6. Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it is slightly browned (and cracked) on top, and a knife comes out clean when poked into the middle.  

Adding the glaze will make the cake taste even yummier, but it does mean that it's no longer totally sugar free.  To make it, put the icing sugar into a bowl and then squeeze half a lemon into it and mix it into a paste.  Slowly add the coconut cream until you have your desired consistency. I like mine really runny.  Once the cake is cooled, pour the glaze over the top and then add some desiccated coconut and grated lemon rind to make it look pretty.


She certainly loved it.

Do have a parter that works from home?? 

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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Wordless Wednesday: The spirit of Longreef Headland

Tuesday is normally my 'day off' - AKA no kids at home.  (Well, half day anyway as I have to leave before 3pm for school pick up and all the after school activities that follow).  I usually hibernate in front of my computer and try to answer as many emails, write as many blog posts and generally get as much done as I can before the mini tornados come home.  I LOVE Tuesdays.

Yesterday was different.  Poor Miss L was sick (and although I might have selfishly contemplated sending her to daycare anyway) I knew she had to stay home with me.  So that was it - day off cancelled!!  Instead of going straight home after the morning school drop off and just getting frustrated by all the work I couldn't do, I decided to head straight out for a long walk.  It was great exercise as being poorly, Miss L was happy to just be pushed rather than insisting on walking (at a snail's pace) and stopping to look at EVERY SINGLE flower or rock along the way.

I walked all the way to the top of Longreef Headland and was met by the most breathtaking views.  Just miles and miles of ocean.  I sat down and just breathed it all in and made a mental note of just how lucky I am to have all this on my door step.  I also got to have some extra gorgeous cuddles from my wee girl.  I think the fresh air did us both the world of good and as for all the work.......... it's still there today :))))

Here are some photos I took along the way.

Fisherman's beach - not a bad spot to start a walk.
Golf with a view. I'm actually looking forward to Autumn as this spot always seems to get rainbows in Autumn and they're SO pretty.
Happy to just be pushed for a change.
Just taking in the world.  If Winnie the Pooh came from Australia I think this would be his 'thinking spot'
Cheered up for a quick snack (don't judge me on the Barbie biscuits!!!)
What a view.  Amazing to think there is another whole world under all that blue.
I'm sure I could hear them......
It never gets old 

(Still working on the whole 'wordless thing') but linking up the Wednesday with the gorgeous Trish from My Little Drummer Boys and Bree from Twinkle in the eye.

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Monday, 24 February 2014

The Marble Jar reward system for kids (that works!!)

I've tried so many different kinds of reward/discipline systems, and although some have worked for a while, this one is by far the BEST.

The sticker chart was great for Miss H for a while, but Master J has never really given two hoots about stickers, so that one was a no go for him!!  I've tried the naughty step too, but that only worked when they were toddlers, and to be honest I was never very good at it!!  I've also tried pocket money but we kept forgetting to give it to them, so that was clearly not working either.

We're been using marble jars for a couple of years now, so I really can't remember where I got the idea from - probably Pinterest!!  It works so well because it not only rewards good behaviour and habits but can also be used for discipline, and it encourages the kids to save.  So a win win win!!

Here's how it works for us:

Every time the kids complete a task they can choose a marble to go into their jar.  Once they have 15 marbles in their jar they can swap them for a gold coin ($1 or a $2).  The gold coins have to stay in their jars until they have at least $10 before they are allowed to spend it.  If our kids misbehave we give them a warning and if they continue to misbehave then we just remove a marble from their jar.  We also make sure that are able to earn a gold coin at least once a week. Any longer than that and it becomes unachievable for them and they start to loose interest.

It's AMAZING how well it works.  They absolutely HATE loosing marbles!!! They are also so competitive between each other that they're always trying to do extra 'good things' to see if they can get an extra marble!!  It does make me chuckle when they have over 10 marbles in their jar and all of a sudden they want to 'help' me with just about everything!!  The best part is seeing how excited they get when they finally get to spend their money on whatever they want.

What you'll need to join in:
  • Each kid needs their own marble jar.  As you can see I have used jam jars, but any jar will do.  Let them decorate their jar with stickers or paint or whatever kind of craft you can cope with (stickers was as far as I was going!).
  • You will also need a BIG marble jar to store the marbles, and of course marbles.
  • A list of tasks that are important to you and the kids.  I wrote mine down first and then got the kids to add a few.  It makes them a lot more likely to do it if they have contributed. Some examples are:  Completing homework, packing and/or unpacking school bags, making beds, brushing teeth, tidying up toys, being kind, listening, putting washing in the wash basket..... etc etc
  • Get the kids involved and watch how well it works.

Do you have a reward system in your house?  What works well for you?

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Friday, 21 February 2014

Sugar-free and nut-free kids apple muffins - perfect little lunch box snacks

Technically these aren't totally sugar-free as they do have apples in them, which still contain fructose.  If you want to be super duper good, then you could always leave the apples out.

I've had one of those weeks, with birthday parties and two school BBQ's, where I feel like my kids have eaten nothing but junk (and the amount of whinging going on today is just confirming it!).  So this morning I decided to try and make some sugar-free snacks.  This recipe was actually a bit of a trial and error experiment and I was half expecting it to turn into a complete disaster - especially as I'm not the most talented baker out there.  However I totally surprised myself and they're actually really super yummy.  They are not the sweetest muffins out there, so if you have a sweet tooth you might not like them.  My kids have devoured them though, so that must be a good sign.

This recipe makes approx. 40 muffins

(*I have used my thermomix for this recipe*)

3 large red apples
100g butter
4 eggs
1 and 3/4 cups coconut cream
300g plain flour
200g rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt
6 tbs stevia
(chia seeds and desiccated coconut for toppings)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line (or grease) your muffin trays.
  2. Peel, core and quarter the apples and put them in the thermomix.  Chop on speed 6 for 3-5 seconds and set aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Add the butter, stevia, cinnamon and salt to the bowl and mix on speed 6 for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the flour, oats, baking powder and bicarbonate soda and mix for 3-5 seconds on speed 5.
  5. Add the coconut cream and the eggs (one at a time), mixing on speed 5 until all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Finally add the chopped apples and mix on reverse speed 3 for 15-20 seconds until well combined.  
  7. Divide the mixture into the muffin tins and sprinkle a little desiccated coconut and chia seed on top of each one.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown (or stick a knife in a it comes out clean).
I put half of the muffins in pairs into little zip lock bags and put them in the freezer.  I pull them out on school mornings and put a frozen one into each lunch box.  By the time morning tea comes around they are perfectly defrosted and fresh.  A little tip I got from The Organised Housewife. The other half didn't last long today.........

Do you ever experiment in the kitchen??

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Little Fish! (Wordless Wednesday)

A few months ago I wrote about how my daughter (Miss H) was scared of swimming.  I should have said petrified as she actually shook at the mere mention of getting in a pool.  It was even a challenge to get her through the pool gate!!

After lots of lovely advice from readers and friends we decided to get her some private lessons as it was really stressing me out (especially as we live so close to water) that she couldn't swim.

Well......... it is absolutely AMAZEBALLS how much she has progressed in less than four months.  She spent the first two lessons on the top step, not even moving a finger (just slightly stubborn) and then suddenly her confidence started to soar.  She now counts the sleeps until her next lesson and has taken to bossing her teacher around no end!!!

I'll leave you with a few pics for Wordless Wednesday. (One day I might actually manage a wordless post!!)

 Do you have a little one who is afraid of swimming??

Linking up with the lovely Trish from My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.

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Friday, 14 February 2014

Top toddler and kids ipad (or tablet) games

My kids LOVE the ipad's in our house.  I do have to limit their use on them though, as they could quite easily become 'sucked in' and absorbed for hours if I'm not careful.  (It's a bit like logging onto Pinterest).   I also have to very carefully monitor the internet now too as Master J has discovered Youtube!  He is very good about coming and telling me what he is watching but I have to admit I sneakily turn the wifi off every now and again when I can't monitor it (at least he's young enough not to have figured that out yet).

On the flip side it is pretty damn amazing how well they are able to use these devices.  Even my 20 month year old Miss L is a dab hand at the ipad and knows EXACTLY where her games are and how to get to them.  Her chubby little fingers are always tapping and swiping away.  Some of the games available are really fantastic and can open up a whole world of learning for kids of all ages.

Here are just a few of the games that are keeping my kids entertained at the moment.

Add caption
This the cutest game where kids can create their own little bugs.  They can choose a body shape and colour it in.  It then 'hatches' into a colourful little creature for them to feed, tickle and wash. It's a fantastic App for creativity, and is perfect for toddlers as well as younger kids.  Both my girls love it.  Sago mini also has a whole range of great Apps to check out including:

Ocean Swimmer
This cheeky little fish will get loads of smiles and giggles from your little ones, as well as teach them to navigate an ipad/tablet using their fingers.  You have to move the little fish around an underwater world with your finger, encountering all sorts of surprises along the way.

Peekaboo Toy Box
This is a great game for toddlers with lots of brightly coloured gifts that shake and rattle around the screen until you tap them.  Then they pop open with a surprise!!!!  Guaranteed to keep your toddler happy for ages.

Nursery Rhymes
If your toddler loves singing nursery rhymes but you (like me) are a bit hopeless at remembering all the words, then this App is perfect!  These brightly coloured animations are interactive so kids can tap on different characters to see them move around.  The song lyrics also appear on the screen as each word is sung, so you'll be able to join in with them - and believe me, they love it!! Unfortunately not all the nursery rhymes are free and there are a few 'in-app' purchases available.

Disney Storytime

This is kind of like a Kindle App but for kids, and it really is fantastic (if you have Disney lovers of course).  The App comes with three free books and the rest are available as 'in-app' purchases. It used a child friendly credit system too, where the kids can download stories with coins that you have previously paid for (as apposed to running up your phone bill).  It is probably more suited to ages 4 and upwards.  The stories are fabulous and can either be read by your child or they can opt to have them read aloud.  You can also record your own voice for certain characters, which my Miss H loves.

What Apps do your kids love?

Oh and a very HAPPY VALENTINES DAY to you all xxxxxxxxxxx

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Never judge a mother!

What is it about parenting or in particular, mothering, that gets some people so heated and to some extremes 'over opinionated' and judgemental??

Master J showed me a tiny little sore on the back of his leg a couple of days ago and it looked like a small blister.  He wasn't too bothered by it and it didn't for a second occur to me that it could be a spider bite.  We've all been eaten alive by mosquito's recently that I just thought it might be a slightly infected mozzie bite that he had maybe scratched the top off.

Tonight he came and showed it to us again saying that it was sore and starting to bother him.  We took a look at it and it had almost quadrupled in size, was very red and swollen and little 'weepy'. Mr D took a picture and googled it and it looked almost certainly like white tailed spider bite. We've read as much as we could on google and although some of it looks pretty frightening, there is really not much you can do by means of treatment.  So we put a dressing on it, gave him some panadol and off he went to sleep.  Very un-distressed I might add.

Being a mum, I can't help but worry (and feel bad that I didn't diagnose it sooner), so I've decided to take him to the doctor tomorrow morning just to have it looked at and checked.  In the meantime, there is a local Facebook page that I belong to where you can post any kind of mummy related topics and then get advice and comments back from other mums.  I've used it many times before and always found it really friendly and helpful.  I decided to post about the bite as I wondered if anyone else had had any experience with it and what they did.  I just wanted some advice.  Being a non-Aussie I don't know too much about spider bites and I wondered if there was something simple that I might have missed.  My post went something like this:

"My son has been bitten by a white tailed spider.  Any advice on what I should do?"

I was absolutely shocked to receive some really nasty and abusive comments!  I was honestly expecting some helpful advice.  Under no circumstances would I ever put my children at risk nor would I neglect them if they needed help and I find it amazing how some people can suggest just that from one sentence without even knowing me.

Anyway, without ranting any further, I think I am just really disappointed to have been so harshly judged as a mother by other mothers!!

Is there any need to mothers to judge each other so harshly?

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

A weeks worth of photos for Wordless Wednesday

So much goes on every week in our home that sometimes the days pass by in a giant whirlwind, and if you were to ask me what I did I would probably have no idea!! This morning I downloaded some photos off my phone (to make space as I have waaaay too many on there) and looking at them make me realise that quite a lot went down last week!!  As it's Wednesday today I thought I'd share some them with you for Wordless Wednesday!!

I have to visit these shops more often than I'd like every week for bread and milk supplies!!  It is nice just having one little buddy with me instead of three!!
The tooth fairy had to make two visits in as many days!!  He looks kinda cute don't you think??
She made a friend whilst mummy was shopping for new bed sheets.
Dance class is back after the holidays and she couldn't be happier
Bad move leaving her with my flowers whilst I unpacked the car! 
These three little cuties watching their big brothers do Saturday afternoon Nippers training.  Luckily the lifeguard didn't need his board.
I REALLY need to find a new place to store the breakfast cereals.
My cousin came for a visit from Melbourne for a night.  The kids loved seeing their 'cool' aunty
Wave hopping with Dad
Cool as cucumbers (with my sunnies on!!)

Linking up today for Wordless Wednesday with the lovely Trish from My Little Drummer Boys.

Are you an iphone happy snapper too??

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