Sunday, May 31

Eloise is (almost) five.. in Pictures....

Birthday party day - woke up to find her cake - I iced it last night - oh how I love orchard icing! She was as expected - thrilled!

The party table - with barbie rice bubble treats and barbie hats! It's alllll about Barbie you know...


Little miss Eva - Cute as a button as always

Pass the parcel

Nanny and Eva

Ze cake - debutante Barbie

Don't say I didn't warn you..

This post could result in increased visits to the dentist.
It could put you in the kitchen far more often than you like.
It could kill your diet.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Yesterday in preparation for Eloise's birthday party today (more on that later when I recover!) we made (well me with help of hubby) Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs. gooodness.

Delicious? Off the scale
Addictive? Yes siree.
Easy? Too easy.

Now, if you're on a diet, shut down this page right now... because butter and sugar aren't really on the diet list but if you could possibly stop at a little, and incredible unfathomable willpower, well read on.

I read the initial recipe in - and a reader commented 'this is like crack for kids'. Too right it is!

I have modified the recipe mainly to give the right proportions and I had to make more toffee and you need a smidgeon more popcorn.....oh and I did it differently - of course - because I try to simplify where I can!

2/3 cup of popping corn kernels
1 x 250g packet pecan nuts
1/4 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil
250grams butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar (granulated)
4 tb honey
Canola spray

Pop your corn in a frypan with a lid, if you've never popped corn before it's best to get your oil hot, then turn down the temperature slightly, add your corn put the lid on a slant so you are still letting air in, once it starts popping furiously, turn the heat down again 'til it's at half-strength and keep the lid on, shaking the pan to and fro to ensure no corn burns on the bottom. Good rule of thumb if you've heard nothing pop for 3 seconds, there's no more corn to be popped.

Grease some baking trays (preferably with a bit of a lip) with a light spray of canola oil and lay the popped popcorn on the trays. Chop your pecans roughly but in smallish pieces and scatter over the popcorn.

Melt your butter in saucepan and add honey, then the sugar, stir, keep on high and let it bubble/boil until all the sugar is dissolved, then turn down to a simmer and let it caramelise - takes about 4 minutes - you can tell it's caramelised if you get a teaspoon of mixture and dunk it in a glass of water. should turn to toffee.

At this stage you need to be quick turn it out on to your trays and then with two tablespoons, mix it about the popcorn and pecans, trying to get an even coverage, as the toffee starts to cool, then pat it down with your hands, and sweep uncovered popcorn into the middle of covered popcorn pressing down.

Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, try not to eat it all at this point (hard!!) and then break up and put into airtight container or ziplock bag.

Makes about 12 cups.

A Month In Review: May 2009

What we did:
  • We started being an at-home family again - Mummy not working, kids not going to kindy
  • Nanny started coming to visit us again every Tuesday (we love that!)
    We started going to the library
  • We started back at playgroup
  • We had a birthday party for Eloise


  • Olivia wrote her name for the first time with just mummy calling out the letters, and her writing them (wow!)
  • And also Olivia learned how to whistle!
  • We've had more dry than wet overnight nappies from everyone!
  • Eloise is getting very clever with adding and subtracting
  • Eloise did her first handstand!
  • Laura is getting MUCH better with her speech, her stutter has improved a lot too.
  • Dougall has only had average 1 accidents in the house a week. Pretty good, has now worked out how to tell us he needs to go outside.

Saturday, May 30

Cheaty Salmon and Broccoli Quiche

Every now and then I cheat. I love cooking things from scratch - there's a certain satisfaction to have success with something where you started with the most basic of ingredients. This is not one of those recipes, but it's yummy, easy and also a crowd pleaser.

Serves 8
2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
8 eggs
100ml cream
100 ml milk
1.5 cups frozen broccoli
2 rashers bacon diced
10cm leek, finely diced
3/4 cup grated tasty cheese
150gr fresh salmon or small tin of red salmon

  • Preheat oven to 160deg c
  • Grease your pie dish (I just use canola spray)
  • Thaw your pastry and then line your pie dish - fork the lip if you like..(i.e press the back of your fork around the rim to make it look crinkly)
  • Put leek, bacon, cheese on bottom and add broccoli florets
  • Cut fresh salmon into cubes/strips and distribute on the pie crust.
  • Mix eggs, cream, milk and pepper with fork until well combined
  • Pour over top of all other ingredients and with your fork, ensure it mixes throught other ingredients.
  • Put in the oven, check at 30 mins and turn down if looking a bit over brown... cook for a further 30 mins until your egg springs back when you touch it in the centre of the pie.
  • Good to freeze, reheat from frozen.
  • Good to eat cold too.

Never say never

Isn't it funny how non-parents or better still impending parents have such idealised views on parenthood? The reality of the 25-hours-a-day-of-parenthood hasn't set upon them yet. It's like those people who squeal with delight when they see newborn twins 'Oh wouldn't having twins be sooo cute!'. 'Umm no, I haven't slept in three days and I'm distraught at having to choose which crying baby to pick up first'
The reality is always different to the fairytale.
Thursday after playgroup, we ducked into the chemist where there was an expectant mother. She was with her mother buying a breast pump and in passing (perhaps in desperation) asked me what I would recommend. I made my suggestion and also recommended they tape the receipt to the box in case they didn't use it or need it.

'Oh, I'm definitely going to breastfeed, no way I'm giving MY baby that stuff in a can'.

I just nodded knowingly 'oh, okay'.

This has been playing on my mind ever since... Has reality given way to the idealism and convictions I had on parenting as a non-parent? Probably. I didn't think I'd go back to work as early as I did with Eloise. After the breastfeeding disasters I had with Eloise I 'decided' I was definitely not going to breastfeed Laura and Olivia due to logistics of breastfeeding twins with an 18 month old toddler on the loose... turned out I reneged on that too because Laura had apnoea episodes on the bottle...
Did you say 'My kids won't watch the wiggles?' 'I won't co-sleep?'

Going on a blog hunt...#2

I'm addicted to bloghunting now!

Some parenting ones:
Finslippy - hilarious account of motherhood -
Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum -

A new Australian Network of bloggers - a great place to find a new blog to read... plus if you're an Aussie blogger join in the weekly challenges - a fun way to avoid bloggers' block! Get Connected and Get Inspired!

Friday, May 29

FrillyFrugalFriday: This is harder than I thought..

Maybe because I'm not menu planning?
Maybe because I'm factoring in a birthday party?

I'm still being frugal but my estimation of what we spend is wayyy off.
How I've been frugal this week:
1. Made birthday cake instead of buying one
2. Made mini-pizzas instead of buying them - even made the crusts...
3. Have continued to not use the dryer! (It's rained almost every day this week!)
4. Emailed birthday invitations rather than posting
5. Have investigated ways to make cuttings of existing herbs I use alot instead of re-buying them when they either get too woody or I use it all.

How we have sinned:
  • Too many little shops - we went to Woollies last weekend for a 'few things' didn't stick to my list and spent over $120!
  • Currently our grocery spend since 15th May is: 654.99 of which $53.29 is for Eloise's birthday party
I know I'll have to buy bread, bananas and diet coke (my only caffeine!) before the week is out but I don't want to spend more than $30 in this next week at all... let's see if I can meet that goal, birthday party and all before next Friday. And I resolve to start menu planning with what food I have left for the rest of the month and start looking at next month's menu plan too.
Give me your menu plan templates - how do you make these into shopping lists?
16/5 M&A Butchery - Monthly Red Meat and Chicken $ 93.40
16/5 Riverview - Fruit and Veg $66.40
17/5 Coles - $192.98
17/5 Aldi -$73.08
17/5 Woollies $61.44
22/5 Forestway - top up fruit and veg plus deli/snack items $35.56 ($8.50 of this could have been avoided!)
23/5 - Woolworths - top up shop $123.76
27/5 - Woolworths - Bicarb & Arborio Rice $8.37
E Birthday Tally
Party Games 4.85+4.20+1.99+1.49+2.69+2.49 =$16.22
Food 5+4.94+2.16+1.50+6+1.50+4+1.49+2.99 =$29.58
Card and Wrapping 4+3.49 = $7.49

No sweeter sound

Than your child singing a song when they think you can't hear and they get all the words wrong but don't care and just keep going, enjoying themselves singing..

Or when they make it up to suit what they are doing.. we used to call it 'Eloise.. the Musical' but now Laura has dibs on it being re-named.
'Red and yellow and pink and green... the brightest colours you ever seen

Orange and Violet and Indigo.. help me go to the toilet you know....' that is what I can hear from the bathroom.

Love it.

FrillyFrivolousFriday: When you can't eat the real thing..smell like it?

OK, this might be a good thing for the dieters out there? Or not?

Fragrances that smell like Jolly Rancher, Hersheys, JellyBelly jelly beans?

Now if you're after a cheap holiday, you can just smell like New Zealand perhaps?

My personal favourite:

And lastly, a little bemused by this one:

You can buy them all from Demeter Fragrance Library
Got a new idea for a fragrance? You can tweet the CEO:

Thursday, May 28

I should have known.

I was too organised.
I had meals in the freezer
The birthday cake is made (not iced)
I obviously can't just have a tolerable-not-crazy week in the lead up to the birthday party.

I have to get SICK.
I have a throbbing head and the shivers.
Kids thankfully are being moderately well behaved...
Early to sleep tonight and hope for the best tomorrow... there's no sick days for a Mum is there? Who do I call?

RealityBites: Feeling hot, hot, hooootttt

ANTM took a trip to the outback and these girls really seem to be getting it under the mentorship of Sarah - Adele and Claire were standouts. Love Lola. Bloody Cassie. Annoys me no end, don't see what's so beautiful about her? What have I missed? Bye bye Madison - sweet girl but understand the decision.

Masterchef - bit bummed Sam didn't get eliminated and I don't blame Chris for being peeved that no-one was elimated this week. Love his Fedora, is that made from recyled ties or something?

The youngies vs the oldies is excuse the pun getting a bit.. erm OLD. It's bringing out some ugliness where Kate is concerned 'I love him like my brother' and then cries and jumps on 'brother Sam' like her long lost shag.. What the?

Gnocchi with Burnt Sage butter should be renamed 'Masterchef Australia Gnocchi' because honestly I've seen that dish on that show now 3 times that I can recall.... something else please!

Watched the US version of Fatty-mc-fat-fat-show - otherwise known as Biggest Loser Couples USA. Meh. Not sure if I'll hang on there - if there's nothing else on (famous last words - remember what I said about Masterchef Australia).

Getting into HomeMade a little - Annie the airstewardess really is a biartch isn't she? Arrogant, selfish and totally self-absorbed sound a little too harsh? I love Jason - I loved his bedroom this week - I would LOVE that room.

Do you or would you cut your childs' hair?

I did Eloise's not so long ago because it badly needed it and I couldn't see at the time when I would next get to the hairdresser. Luckily for me, her hair is curly and can hide a major disaster but when it comes to my little girls I'm not brimming with confidence at all. Olivia has wispy hair and probably does need a trim, Laura's is fine for now but is getting long and could use a tidy-up... Olivia and Laura have never had a hair cut at 3.5 years of age...

Thank goodness there's no fringes to trim !

Wednesday, May 27


When I was a kid I wanted to be a Mum. I wanted to make my own rules, go to bed when I wanted and be the boss. I changed that to be a school teacher, at one stage I was thinking of joining the airforce to work in linguistics and then just wanted to be a linguist.

I ended up through evolving from one job/company to the next, following my interests and talents in HR and Financial systems consulting - but am now back at my original aspiration - a Mum.

However these days I'm now Mum who makes the rules that only extend to our home, go to bed way later than I should and I share the boss role with my hubby.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Challenge 1 from

Inspired by chocolate

I have a rogue jar of glucose syrup in my cupboard. I know I bought this for a purpose, but now for the life of me I can't remember what!?

Fudge ?

I'm really stumped. I found a recipe for home-made lollipops and I thought I'd love to give that a go one day but wasn't sure how much lollipop sticks were and where to get them, so my trusty friend google took me to a shop I have now bookmarked 'Inspired by Chocolate'.

I'm inspired alright! I'm in love.

I'm not only going to make lollipops but I'm going to make christmas candy-canes, reindeer lollipops with glitter, I'm going to buy a few more cookie cutters.

Bee cookie cutter: $2.50
I love this as my name means honey bee
Butterfly lollipop mould $4.25
Lots lots more, can't wait to get some creations going... too late for Eloise's birthday though...

Guys, just quickly.....

Head over to the Ginger won't Snap blog this week - she's hosting the Make it from Scratch Carnival with some of this weeks' submissions:
For the cookers
Yoghurt from scratch
Beer bread (if you can bear to sacrifice a bottle!)
Heavenly Angel Food Cake
5 minute mug brownies (substitute the shortening for vegetable oil)
Perfect Pizza Dough
Rhubarb Crumb Bars

And for the crafters
Use old t-shirts to crochet a cute bag, love it!
Submit your own recipe/craft/gardening tip here we could use a few more aussies on there!

Coming to the bookshelf 'The Perfect Baby Handbook'

I saw the synopsis and immediately identified.... I think we've all met parents like this or this for me, is an amalgamation of extreme parents I have met and the prime reason I didn't gel with the first mothers group I went to:

"New parents are hipper, more educated, and more sophisticated than ever, but they're also highly competitive--a lethal combination when turbocharged by the anxieties of raising a baby. And for many couples, it's not just any baby, but the perfect baby. These “excessively motivated” parents will not sabotage Junior's future by denying him Mandarin lessons, a nursery chandelier (just like the one Gwyneth's kids enjoy), or advanced infant yoga. A hilarious, highly visual satire of childrearing manuals, The Perfect Baby Handbook provides much-needed comic relief from the pressures of modern parenting, and gives comfort to moms and dads who can say with a sigh of relief, “At least, we're not this bad.”

Available from next Monday June 1st through Harper Collins at all good bookstores.

The Author, Dale Hrabi (a man, YES a man!) also has a very witty blog: check it out!

I love the Advanced Slumber Strategies:

one tip to help your baby sleep through the night:

Churn Butter Doggedly:
Re-creating the familiar whooshing sound of the womb can lull even skeptical babies to sleep. While some parents fuss with noise machines and others brandish blow dryers, they’re wasting their time. As the Swedes have discovered, no sound triggers infant slumber more effectively than that produced by the simple, picturesque act of throttling a wooden butter churn for four to seven hours every night.
Safety tip: It’s not advisable to eat the twenty-nine pounds of butter you’ll be producing each week in the form of garlic toast.

Tuesday, May 26

Tuesday: What will they think of next #7

I suppose with all this rain it's little wonder I stumbled upon this and thought 'oh I know a few people who would love to freak out people with this!'

The Samurai Umbrella.

Pull it out of it's cover and people will start ducking with fright that you're about to chop their heads off!

Available from Think Geek (yes they have HEAPS of great stuff and deliver to Australia! I recommend the random key stroker - have had hours of fun and torment with co-workers with this!)
Retails for USD 29.99

Food for thought..

I don't really have fussy eaters. I thank goodness for that and I'm not sure if it's because of some genetics or maybe because I expose the girls to a lot of different food - always have. We seldom eat the same thing 2 weeks in a row. My Mum bought me an apron which pretty much sums it up too 'there's are two choices for dinner; take it or leave it'.

I try to surprise my girls and yesterday I made lunch faces. Cheese, chickpeas, pear, apples, sultanas and honey and peanut butter finger sandwiches. All got eaten in a flash. I also do individual pizzas the same way with a bacon streak mouth, mushroom slice nose and ears, cherry tomato eyes, onion eyebrows and basil hair.. they love it.

So show me or tell me the pictures you make with foods to amuse or entice your kids...

The questions

More on the birthday - this is the invitation I made for Eloise's birthday. By the weeks' end I'm going to be saying 'My FIVE year old daughter...'
Scary stuff.

I think when it's your eldest each year feels like a major milestone.. because it brings a new frontier of developmental stages and especially where Eloise is concerned...QUESTIONS. just this week:

'What is God?'
'Doesn't the Man in the Moon miss his Mummy? Or does she live with him? If she lives with him why do we just talk about the Man in the Moon then?'
'How does food become poo in your body Mummy?'

Monday, May 25

The art of a good meatloaf.

It's so 70's isn't it? But I've had some great and not so great ones in my time and experimented quite a bit - so I would call myself somewhat educated on the preparation and taste of a good meatloaf.

Our last week of autumn is here and with that I cannot deny winter will soon be here and comfort food is order of the day(s). I like to make a big meatloaf assuring there's enough to eat for dinner and some more for lunches. Have on a sandwich with tomato sauce/barbeque sauce or home-made relish (yum I have some in the fridge at the moment!) Kids will eat fingers of it for lunch hot or cold.
Yummy Winter Meatloaf
500grams sausage mince (you can buy this from woollies for $1.99 a roll)
500grams regular beef mince (I have topside)
3 slices grainy bread
1/2 cup milk
couple stalks of fresh chopped parsley
1 egg
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 potato, grated
2tb Worcestershire sauce
1tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp curry powder (add more if you like a bit more of a zing, I did about 4 tsp!)

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tb white vinegar
2 tb cream
2 tb butter or margarine
2 tb lemon juice

Preheat oven to 200 deg c.

Soak the bread in the milk, break it up with a fork when soaked and then mix the rest of ingredients in. Place in greased loaf pan/s (depending how big yours are you may need 2) cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 mins.

Prepare the sauce by putting all ingredients in saucepan and simmering for about 5 minutes. When the meatloaf comes out the oven, drain any fat and pour on the sauce and return to the oven for another 15 minutes without aluminium foil.

Let sit for another 15 minutes before serving. Slice like bread whilst in the pan is my preferred method!

If you are so inclined:
My mum used to make her meatloaf in the 70's with a hard-boiled egg in the middle... so when you sliced it you got a cross-section of egg too - I don't do that now as I fielded complaints in the house and it's just not worth it, but this recipe works well with that too - just add 3 hard boiled eggs to your mixture. Just put half the mixture in the bottom of the loaf tin, line up your eggs in row along the loaf and then put the rest of the mixture on top.
Mine as you can see filled 1 loaf pan plus 2 large ramekins (for hubby to take for lunch)


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