30.9.10

FAIRY GARDENS


Guess whose been watching the new Tinkerbell movie and making fairy gardens.....? Can entertain for hours.

The creative thought that went into the bridge, the road, etc. just makes me smile.

I have such fond memories of doing similar things with my sisters when I was a girl. I think we even entered our miniature fairy gardens into the local show! I remember lots of moss, tiny green leaves and white pebbles...


P.S. Have been thinking about this post about nurturing creativity in your children....

P.P.S. For some more adult creativeness go and visit here.


28.9.10

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #16


These days if we ever have anyone over for dinner (sadly not as often as we used to) I do a roast lamb. Mainly because it is the easiest meal I can think of that's still impressive. Better than a date with Tom Cruise after all!*

There are many other fancy ways of doing roasts but this is the most simple. Put your roast (rolled, leg, whatever) in a moderate oven (180C) for about an hour, depending on the size of your roast. The general rule of thumb is it takes about 30 mins per 500g of lamb or beef, chicken 25 mins per 500g and 45 mins per 500g for pork. Chuck some chopped vegies in at the same time with a bit of oil and salt and they'll take the same amount of time.

If you are not a carnivore, my Mum makes the best roast vegetable salads. Here is one of her many recipes....

ROAST VEGETABLE SALAD

Put the following vegies in a slow oven (150C) for 20 mins.

3 medium potatoes
1/4 butternut pumpkin (cut in 2cm cubes)
1 small sweet potato (cut 2cm cubes)
6 halved Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon (sea salt)
3 tbs olive oil.

Then add, for another 20 mins:

3 red capsicums (grilled & peeled)
1 corn cob (kernels only)
2 red onions (chopped into small pieces)
2 sprigs of rosemary (leaves only)
1 tspn sea salt
1/2 tbs olive oil


Now it's your turn.... what easy meals are you cooking up? Link in below and share!
Special mention to Cat for last weeks chicken & apple meatballs link in at just the right time - saved the day!

*Not sure if that is quite the call that it used to be......



26.9.10

KIDS FUN: PINK GOOP

I am such a sucker for punishment sometimes, but there is something in me that truly believes that childhood is all about being allowed to get messy (within reason of course).

So today I thought we'd try a bit of goop to pass the time. It was sunny outside, the ingredients were handy and the mess stayed outside.

It feels VERY cool.
Kind of hard to explain - you've got to give it a go!
When the mixture is squeezed it becomes a hard lump then melts and then becomes hard again.

To make your own: just add 2 cups of cornflour to 1/2 cup of water.

I added more water at the beginning and then a little more later as it dried up after a while. We added food coloring too. I thought green would have been ideal, making it both the colour & consistency of slime, but I was outvoted.

We also had a bit of fun with a pink balloon, a pink straw, a bit of string and some duct tape - thanks Sarah.
You don't tie the balloon up. You just let go and see it flying like a rocket to the other end of the string.

I thought I'd link in with kasiabear's kiddy art and of course the ever favorite At My House with Lou.
What's going on at your house?
Got any more cool ideas of things that I can amuse my kids with these school holidays?

25.9.10

THIS SATURDAY I'M GRATEFUL....


Thought I'd play along with Maxabella today.
I do see blogging as a form of therapy and I thought it would be a good thing to weekly remind myself of the positives from the week past. There are more than a few negatives at the moment and I'm finding it easy to feel a little bogged down, but I would rather be a 'glass half full' kind of person and, as Maxabella says
'it's nice to pause to appreciate the things in your life that are positive and affirming, whatever they may be'.

This week, just when I felt I could barely keep putting those feet one in front of the other, a little 'gift' of time or sanity dropped down from heaven.

I am so very grateful for so very much this week...

- that earlier in the week (after I'd been up for 2.5 hours one night with a child who just would not stop crying no matter what we did and another an hour later who was vomiting from too much coughing) that our neighbours just popped in and took all the kids to the park for over an hour and then stayed and kept them entertained and saved the sanity of one exhausted mama.

- that the next night (after falling asleep with one of the kids at 7.30pm and dragging myself to my own bed when my husband got home at 9.30pm) that every single child slept through the whole night! (I'm not sure that I can remember the last time that happened!) The fact that when their father left for work at 5.30am I couldn't get back to sleep is irrelevant.

- that yesterday when I ran into the back of someone (in my car, first accident I've ever had! and I burst into tears because of my current frazzled state) she was completely understanding and even gave me a hug - I ran into the back of her and she gave me a hug! Then I was even more grateful for my MIL who came over for the afternoon, in the middle of her own very busy life, to do my ironing, fold my mountain of washing and entertain my kids.

- that when I woke up last night (at 3am with an excruciating ear ache and eventually woke him up at 5am) that my husband had all the gear and expertise to work out the problem, painfully flush my ear from my usual build up of wax and give me drugs to ease the pain and antibiotics to cure the problem without having to get out of my pj's or wake the kids.

- that this morning (when I spent most of the time vomiting from the pain of a middle ear infection) that it happened to be a Saturday and he could take the eldest 2 to work with him for a few hours so I could lay on the couch. An unexpected phone call from a lovely friend didn't go astray either.

- that when we missed out on a free dinner at Grossi Florentino's tonight (because I wasn't well enough) my husband was very understanding and we ended up having a great chat about life and where it's going and how on earth we are going to continue coping for the rest of this year with his 'out of this world' current work hours. He's more than a good catch that one (despite those pesky work hours).

- I couldn't end this post without letting my mother and sisters know how very much I am grateful for their help and support in this time where I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Sorry for long post, but I just had to get that out there. No point having you all think my life is all about baking and gardening or something.... heaven forbid!

Thanks also Maxabella for the lovely 'cherry on top' blog award that you passed on to me weeks ago - I am flattered and honored and might just not get around to passing it on, but I know you won't mind. If you haven't read her blog - you must, it is one of my absolute favourites!



P.S. I 'm also grateful for flowers that just pop up in your garden without you having to do a thing and fruit dropped off by more gorgeous neighbours. Sometimes it's these little things that give you that lift that you needed....even if your table is in need of a sand & polish.

23.9.10

MY {daughter's) CREATIVE SPACE

Goose spends a few days every school holidays with Granny for some pampering and one on one time.
(that unfortunately rarely happens at home with two demanding younger siblings).

They do lots and lots of fun things together, but one of their favourite things to do each time is a bit of crafting. A bit of cross generational handing down of the lost arts.

Last school holidays, you may remember, Goose made this lovely headband (above), all by herself on the sewing machine "with just a tiny bit of help from Granny".

In other holiday adventures they have also made
- "with just a tiny bit of help from Granny" -
this gorgeous red cherry skirt
(note the specially made buttonsbyloulou headband to match).

and these fun rice bags -
just like the ones Granny made us when we were kids.
(You'll like those Brenda)

And these holidays...
they knitted!

She really loves it.
She keeps the knitting bag at Granny's to save it from younger siblings stealing and destroying
(and quite frankly Mum just doesn't seem to find the time to help her).
"in, round, under, off... in, round, under, off..."
(she sang repetitively while I showed her the photos Granny took of her)

So, I may not be doing a lot of crafting myself at this particular juncture in my life, but I am very glad that my clever Goose is not missing out. Thanks Granny!


22.9.10

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY...


This image just sums up exactly how I feel and boy, what I would give for a nice comfy slice of bread right now....

More Wordless Wednesdays here.


21.9.10

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #15

CHICKEN BASIL & LEMON PASTA

250g short pasta
2 small chicken breasts
200ml creme fraiche or mascarpone
1/3 cup shredded basil, plus extra leaves to serve
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
finely grated rind & juice of 1 lemon
200g of one or mixture of broccoli, peas or green beans, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces & blanched.

1. Cook pasta in large saucepan. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, poach the chicken fillets in a medium saucepan of simmering water for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain & set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the creme fraiche, shredded basil, parmesan and lemon rind & juice. Season to taste.
4. Combine the pasta, sliced chicken, vegetables & basil sauce in a large bowl and toss to combine. Sprinkle with extra basil to serve.

If the almost 2 year old steals more than a few frozen peas during the preparation, all the better.

but if the 3 year old decides to take some funny photos with his Mum pretending to eat straight from the extra large bowl Mum has decided to place ALL of the pasta in so that everyone can serve themselves.......

beware of the ensuing small tantrum because he thinks the giant bowl of pasta is all for himself and the throwing of his own small plastic bowl of pasta all over the floor.
(why do my meals always involve so much mess!)

We compromised with a bigger than usual adult sized bowl on a special table mat designed by his little sister (who of course then needed her own special big adult sized bowl too).... oh the joys. *

Now it's your turn!
Share your easy peasy dinner winner down below!
I know you've got them - if you forgot to take a photo, just take one of the ingredients, the cookbook or find one on the web. Not sure how many more weeks of recipes I have in me... so now is your time!




* I must add that I am one who likes to stand my ground when necessary, but in this instance it really was not worth it - "Choose your battles" is my common mantra - there are far too many other bigger battles that I fight throughout the rest of the day and the size of the pasta bowl was certainly not going to be one of them! Not today when we were all sick and not feeling our best.

20.9.10

AT MY HOUSE...

At my house we have a house full of sickies. Well, myself and the youngest two. The Dad's been so busy at work he hasn't had time to catch it and Goose has gone to Granny's for a few days, so those that remain are doing the absolute bare minimum!

The dolls clothes that Grandma lovingly sewed many years ago for their big sister have been discovered with much excitement and have been the hit for the day.

So good to see them actually in use - Goose was not much of a doll girl.

When things are handmade, you know the effort and love put into making them and it makes you appreciate the items so much more.

One of my favorite toys of the kids is this vintage dolls pram. It belonged to my husband when he was a boy..... he came from a family of all boys..... no gender stereotyping there!
The only thing I ever heard of them using it for though was for giving each other rides up and down the hall way ....

Play along over at Lou's this week
& don't forget to take a photo of those easy peasy dinners and play along here tomorrow....



P.S. If only they were old enough to put the clothes on and off all by themselves!! In your experience, does the age of doll playing ever coincide with the ability to actually dress them themselves or are they generally over it by that age?

16.9.10

CREATIVENESS AT MY HOUSE....

Not a lot of time for extra creativeness at our house at the moment. I'm struggling. But as the need to be creative is not an optional extra in my book - I need it for survival - it just comes out and pops up in the most ordinary of places. I add a splash of color into my life in whatever way I can....

By color coding the washing.... pinks all together (with pink pegs), blues all together (with blue pegs)... you get the picture. *

By popping a splash of color into the bath every night ...

everyone keeps their food dye in the bathroom ..... don't they? **

These may just be the scenes from the house of someone in desperate need of a break and a bit of me time.....

I like to dream of being slightly more creative again over at kootoyoo

and play along (belatedly) with 'at my house'.......

if only there was more time......

but, this too shall pass......

and I'll be knitting, sewing, gluing and cutting and getting those creative juices flowing again one day soon........ it may well be in a few years, but as my Mum says, those kids won't be at home forever....

So while they are here at home with me, taking up every spare second of my day (and some of the night....) I'll pop in whatever bit of creativeness we can manage.




*You'll note there is actually a matching pair of socks there! And you may also notice a green peg instead of a pink one...... oops.
** While we're there - does anyone know how to get bath scum off bath toys - those letters in particular?

14.9.10

BRAIN FUZZ

I think of witty, intelligent and profound blog posts all day,
mostly on motherhood
(that's where it's at for me at the moment)
but at the moment I just feel my mind is absolute mush and when I get to the evening and sit down to the computer, these thoughts just fly out of my head.

I felt a little better when I read this post and reminded myself that sleep deprivation does play a very strong part in this. Not sure if I remember the last time I had a full night's sleep.....

Sleep......hmmmm.....
zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

With a husband doing over a hundred hours a week at the moment with not one whole day off in 6 weeks (including weekends) and the same for the next two weeks, I have been feeling the pinch......He's not the only one in need of a day off.....

Some days I feel like I'm drowning and other days I feel like I am managing to keep that chin above the water.

While I am trying to defuzz my brain, I enjoy reading others blogs, like Maxabella, and Loose Change and many, many more who manage to put coherent thoughts together (even with small children) in quite profound ways and help me get my own nuerons back in action.


EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #14


We eat quite a lot of meat and 3 veg meals at our house. I get sick of chopping the same vegies day after day, week after week, so to change it up this week, I thought I'd go back to an old favourite salad that I like to take to BBQ's. This one is from another well used cookbook in this house - Donna Hay's 'Off the Shelf'.

I have always liked Donna Hay's cookbooks. I'm probably sucked in by the pictures, but I've always found them very quick, simple and user friendly and with titles like 'Food Fast' and 'Off the Shelf' they do sound appealing. When I look at her new titles -'No Time to Cook' & 'The Instant Cook' I see that she still has me in mind!

Simple Couscous Salad
Cook 2 cups of couscous in 2 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
(following the directions below)
Toss the warm couscous with 700g roasted diced pumpkin or sweet potato and 200g
blanched snow peas.
Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tspn harissa or chilli paste, 1/4 cup chopped mint, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 tbspn honey.
Pour the dressing over the couscous.
Toss and serve.

(rabbit ears courtesy of Goose...)

Quick & Easy Couscous
Place 1 cup couscous in bowl and pour over 1 1/4 cups boiling stock. Cover and allow to stand until the liquid is absorbed. Stir with a fork and add a little butter, pepper & salt.

The only problem with couscous is that the state of your table/chairs/floor after the meal leaves a lot to be desired! That may be the reason why I normally leave it for outdoor BBQ's....

And if you are an absolute sucker for punishment, like me, you can always serve it up with crumbed lamb cutlets and get an almost 2 year old to help....


Now it's your turn! Link in your easy peasy recipes down below.... go on, I know you've got them - please share!

7.9.10

EASY PEASY DINNER WINNERS #13

As embarrassing as this may sound, as it's not the most gourmet of meals, this is such a favourite of mine that before moving in with my husband one of my previous housemates put their hand on his shoulder and said in the most serious of voices -
"Mate, I hope you like tuna casserole."
It turned out that he didn't like tuna casserole!!
What was I to do??
Would this relationship actually work after all??

Thankfully, after going back to the source of the recipe, the good old 'Cookery the Australian Way' from High School Home Economics class, I discovered that instead of just stirring the sauce through the pasta, if you alternated the layers of sauce and pasta and then sprinkled it with some breadcrumbs, (and served it with a little parsley sprig & lemon wedge - he's sucked in by the presentation that man) that it made all the difference - he LOVED it and we are still happily married almost 11 years later!
I will be forever grateful that my children like this meal also as they may just have been disowned and put out for adoption if they didn't. What's not to love?

There are many ways to make tuna casserole, but quite frankly, mine is the best.

TUNA & NOODLE CASSEROLE
(source - adapted slightly by me)

425g can tuna
250ml cheese sauce (see below)
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 tspns lemon juice
1 cup cooked noodles
1 cup frozen peas
440g can pineapple pieces
1 tablespoon fresh breadcrumbs

1. Set oven at 190C. Brush or spray casserole with oil (I actually don't).
2. Make cheese sauce (see below).
3. Combine tuna, cheese sauce, pineapple, peas, chopped parsley & lemon juice (I add a bit of pepper here too).
4. Place noodles and fish mixture in layers in the casserole.
5. Top with breadcrumbs, spray with oil. Bake at 190C for 30 mins.
6. Garnish with lemon & parsley.

CHEESE SAUCE:
1. Melt 1 tbs butter in saucepan & remove from heat.
2. Add 1 1/2 tbs flour & stir with wooden spoon.
3. Cook slowly for 30 secs, stirring continuously. Remove from heat.
4. Gradually add 1 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons of grated cheese & a dash of pepper.
5. Return to heat & stir until boiling.
6. Reduce heat & stir for 1 min.

It can be made in 20 mins flat to get it on the table, unless you do the full bake version.... which for the sake of marital harmony, we now do!

Now it's your turn!
Do you have an easy peasy meal to share? We'd all love to know it!

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