Tuesday, June 30

Dream Dinner Party for Eight.

No budget. Any guests dead or alive you could invite.... what would I do?

First of all, don't get me wrong - I love to cook - but I love being cooked for too. So I think I'd take a break from the kitchen and ask Nigella Lawson to cook and eat with us. At her house would be fine, as she'd be comfortable there... that's important to me!

So that's my first guest. Nigella
Of course there would be my hubby.

I'd invite Anthony Bourdain, he is so witty and brutally honest. At least entertaining!
For my hubby I'd invite Henry Rollins Ellen, of course Ellen - and with Ellen must come Portia.To serenade us after dinner or sing for his supper - I'd have a tough choice between Sting and Elliot Smith - but seeing as Elliot Smith is no longer earthbound, I'll go for Sting.

If I had a cancellation - I'd invite Bruno.
How about you? If you're not part of the BlogThis challenge - head over and join in!

Slow Cooker Sausage and Eggplant Casserole

This one doesn't sound like much and even when you're making it you wonder if it's going to turn out a bit bland, but let me assure you - it is YUMMY. It tastes like you slaved over it but it is super easy and light on the fat content too.

600grams lean beef sausages
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
2 eggplant, diced
2 x 420g or 1 x 800g tin peeled/diced tomatoes
chilli flakes/ground chilli
1 cup chicken stock

Put tinned tomatoes in slow cooker on low.

In a medium saucepan, boil water and add sausages let go on a gentle boil until cooked through..

Whilst sausages are boiling, in a saucepan, heat oil and add onion, garlic and eggplant and fry until soft. Add chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes, transfer to slow cooker.
When the sausages are boiled, peel skins off and chop into 1-2cm pieces depending on your taste... add to the tomatoes. When all ingredients are in slow cooker, sprinkle with chilli powder to your taste (even if kids are eating, just a little) and a little pepper and keep slow cooker on low for 6 hours. You could put it on high for 3 hours also, but it's better cooked slowly.

Serve on rice. Serves 5.

What will they think of next #12

Now I really, really need at least one of these!

First of all: The Ultimate Key Finder
Attach the receiver to your key ring and the card somewhere where you won't lose it (I know kind of defeats the purpose if you do!)

If your keys are anywhere within 25 metres (80 feet), this powerful little bloodhound will sniff them out at the push of a button, so you can be out the door and on your way in seconds – no stress, no fights, no need to become a human sound effect.

It's makes a life-saving gift for busy (forgetful) people, and an even better idea for those who are sick of being drawn into the "has anyone seen..." game.$29.95 from latest buy

Second one is for those of you who misplace your keys or purse/wallet/work ID's/mobile phone/remote.
Find It All Key Finder

This is a two-way finder - so as long as you locate your keys or purse/wallet/work ID's/whatever you'll be fine.

To locate a missing object attached to a Find It All Key Finder fob, simply locate one of your other Find It All Key Finder fobs and enter the code corresponding to the item you are searching for. If the missing fob is within range (up to 10 metres / 30 feet) it will begin to beep and flash.
Find It All Key Finders also feature proximity detection, whereby the rate at which the fob used to locate another fob is flashing represents the distance between the two fobs. Therefore, the closer you get to a missing item the faster the LED light flashes.

$59.95 from Latest Buy

Monday, June 29

Mummy's homemade baked beans

As I mentioned yesterday, this one is a favourite of my kids (and us!) and is a great lazy dinner or lunch or a luxurious breakfast. We had ours for lunch yesterday - a winter warmer..

5 pieces shortcut bacon (i.e. only the eyes) diced
1/2 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 420g can five bean mix, drained
1 420g can cannellini beans, drained
1 cup beef stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp treacle
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 sprigs parsley, chopped.

In a deep frypan, with a little olive oil, cook the bacon, garlic until soft - add Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, treacle, mustard, tomato paste and beef stock and simmer until bubbling. Add beans and stir well, simmer for 15 minutes until thickened.

Serve with crusty bread or on toast. My girls like it with a poached egg. They mix it and put it on their toast, mix their egg into it - it's fun!

MealPlanMonday: most of the hard work over..

I'm liking this meal planning. I've really surprised myself. I love knowing there will be no wastage. I love that I have planned my meals according to our schedule and now I have a number of doubled recipes waiting in the freezer for coming weeks (lasagne, meatloaf, beef casserole).

This week:
Monday(tonight) - Vegetarian Nachos (using zucchini and Liss' homemade taco seasoning)
Tuesday - Bangers and Mash
Wednesday - Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday - Lasagne (from freezer)
Friday - Magically Moist Fish and homemade chips
Saturday - no dinner as we're going to a birthday party but taking Lollygobblebliss bombs with us. We'll have a hot lunch of oven baked risotto beforehands.
Sunday - Meatloaf (from freezer)

Motivation Monday: This works!

OK, so how did you do?
I got all the of things off my list - so I'm happy! (well albeit one but I will be doing that this morning - Call my Nan in Adelaide) My linen closet is beaautiful and it's great having the camera back and taking pics of my growing girls again!

This week:
1. Clean out the nick-nack drawer in the kitchen (you know the one with batteries/birthday candles etc in it!! Does everyone have one of these or is it just us?)
2. Get to the library
3. Chase my FTB eligibility with Stupidlink
4. Download and print the recycling schedule from the council website
5. Sew table runners

OK, what's yours - link it up people!

Sunday, June 28

Vege Garden update Week 13 - First harvest!

Finally we eat from our garden!

Peas and beans are harvested - only a dozen or so pea pods at this rate but about 2 dozen long string beans! We're having them this evening with our baked dinner! Yumm!

Peas before shelling

After shelling.and here are our beans! Now our cauliflower - I have been worried about these but on reading up - it's normal for this type of cauliflower - it's a cross with a broccoli! Bizarre huh? Makes it easier for harvesting though! Our standard caulis haven't flowered yet.
Our cabbages are growing beautifully. These will be much loved in ministrone and steamed..yum.
Plot 2 - going well although some little buggies have taken a liking to our wombok. Will be using some of the newly discovered bug deterrent remedies to help ! Carrots, beans and peas there to the right.
Here's a look at plot 3 (plot 2 in back)- cos lettuce, leeks, beetroot, onion and chillis all moving along.

Winter and eating for immunity year round

I'm a food-nut. I'll admit it but I only kicked into top-gear food-nutty-ism when we had our children. I was determined to feed my children (well Eloise at the time) only the best foods and make her as healthy as I could. I was lucky that she was such a robust baby anyway and loved her food which encouraged me to experiment.

I bought a few baby cookbooks - Annabel Karmel, Robin Barker and the one that taught me the most 'Immunity Foods for Healthy Kids' (ISBN 1-84483-120-5). It's the only one of the lot I still have and refer to.

I have found the key is when feeding my babies and then kids is variety. Experiment. Get your kids used to trying different foods so it becomes 'normal' to try something they haven't had before. We really pumped it up that we were having something 'new'. Like just this week - the kids had fennel for the first time - loved it. In the very rare occasion they might not warm to something I prepare it differently the next time, or just try it again a couple of months' later. I honestly can't think of anything my kids won't eat. I might be very lucky, but I think my approach could very well have contributed.

Friends seem surprised that my kids will request such things as anchovies, mushrooms and brussel sprouts. Yes, they're freaks!

So back to this wonderful book. If you can get hold of it I recommend it...

Some immunity superfoods for babies and kids:
Sweet Potato - most kids love this - and this was the first vegetable I ever served to all my kids. It's full of antioxidants and anticarcengenics - the deeper the colour the better - they are also very unlikely to have any allergic reactions.

I used to puree this, then when the kids moved on to lumpy food, add lentils and splash of OJ for iron, and a little coriander for taste. Never knocked back.

Blackcurrants and Cranberries - now I know cranberries have a bit of a tart taste to them but mix 50/50 with pure apple/blackcurrant juice and you've got a wonderful antioxidant cocktail with a burst of vitamin C to make jelly for babies and up (1 cup of juice to 1 cup of water and 3 tsp of gelatine - boil water, dissolve gelatine in water, mix with juice and pour into snack cups) or iceblocks (same without gelatine) for the toddlers and up.

Garlic - good for everyone! Roast or boil some with your vege purees - put it in your bolognaises/pasta - garlic is a great immunity booster. I know I'd rather put up with a few whiffy nappies than a sick baby.

Pulses - Lentils, beans
Beans are so easy these days - you can buy them canned - chickpeas, soya beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans. Full of iron and calcium... all good stuff - also assists digestion so getting rid of any nasties.

I used to make a mild chickpea curry and puree (let me know if anyone wants these recipes happy to share) - cannelini beans and lentils are great to puree or leave whole for lumpy food and my kids love Mummy's home-made baked beans for lunch on a cold day - yes I will put that up next week promise!

Now - food to help when you are sick?

Eat: Rice, Barley, broccoli, carrot, chicken, garlic , lemon, lime, onion, sweet potato, apricot, blackcurrant, capsicum, squash, mango, millet, lettuce, turkey, watercress.

So basically I'd be inclined to make chicken fried rice, ratatouille, garlicky chicken noodle soup with bok choy would be good too!

apricot, broccoli, brown rice, cabbage, carrot, cinnamon, zucchini, fennel, garlic, ginger, honey, horseradish, leek, lemon, lettuce, lime, mango, onion, orange, parsley, pumpkin, sweet potato and thyme.

Ear Infections
Eat: beetroot, blueberry, rockmelon, carrot, celery, chicken, chilli, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, guava, horseradish, kiwi fruit, lemon, lime, mango, onion, orange, parsley, pumpkin, shitake mushroom, sweet potato, tofu.

Eat: almond, apple cider vinegar, aprico, avocado, butternut pumpkin, rockmelon, carrot, evening primrose oil, fresh tune, green leafy vegetables, linseed oil, mackerel, mango, nutes, oats, pumpkin and pumpkin seed, salmon, deeds and their oils, sunflower seed, sweet potato.

There's a lot more in there about what these foods do - more illnesses like cancer, measles, glandular fever etc.

I know Chantelle was after this info - but I find myself talking to people about this regularly so figured I'd just let everyone know!

Save the expense and chemicals - Home remedy garden insecticides

I was inspired watching Gardening Australia last night and I definitely won't be buying any more commercial poisons again!

Here are Colin Campbell's home remedies:
Scale and Mealybugs:
Make an oil preparation that suffocates them by mixing four tablespoons of dishwashing liquid into one cup of vegetable oil. Mix one part of that mixture to about twenty parts of water, put it in your sprayer and spray the affected plants.

Aphids, Caterpillars and Other Insects:
Add two tablespoons of soap flakes to one litre of water and stir thoroughly until completely dissolved (this is quicker in warm water). There is no need to dilute this further, just spray it on as is.

Black Spot Fungicide:
In Queensland, Black Spot's a major problem with roses, but this fungicide mixture works miracles. Add three teaspoons of bicarb soda to one litre of water. Don't get carried away with the bicarb soda because if you make it too strong, it'll cause all sorts of problems. Add a few drops of either dishwashing liquid, or fish emulsion to help the solution adhere to the leaf more effectively.

Mix one level teaspoon of bicarb soda into one litre of water. Add one litre of skim milk and a pinch of Condy's Crystals which you can get from a produce agent (someone that supplies to horse owners). Shake thoroughly.

Grasshopper, Caterpillar and Possum Deterrent:
Mix a cup of molasses into one litre of water and spray it over new foliage.

Add half a litre of molasses to two litres of water and spread over one and a half square metres of affected garden area.

All-round Insecticide:
Chop four large onions, two cloves of garlic, and four hot chillies. Mix them together and cover with warm, soapy water and leave it to stand overnight. Strain off that liquid and add it to five litres of water to create an all-round insecticide.

Crush a whole bulb of garlic and cover with vegetable oil. After two days, strain off the liquid, add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid and use one millilitre of concentrate to one litre of water.

Add a cup of common salt to a litre of vinegar. After it's dissolved, brush it directly onto weeds. Remember, it's not a selective weed killer. It'll kill anything it touches so be very careful how you use it.

Predator Attractor:
Predators that prey on pests are great things to have in the garden. Lacewings are particularly desirable because they consume aphids and many other pests. To encourage them into your garden, dissolve one teaspoon of a yeast based sandwich spread in water and spray it all over the plants.

You can see a video from the episode here (can't download it yet! I'll inbed the video when I can)

Saturday, June 27

Grocery Choice: Canned

Not happy Jan.

The Grocery Choice project seems to be canned. Not happening.

This is something definitely as a young family with large grocery bills, only looking to expand than contract to be able to see and compare grocery pricing online - would be invaluable.

Well it seems it is valuable. Valuable to large supermarket chains - who take at least $500 of our familys' expenditure a month.

"Following a heated meeting in Canberra on Friday morning which was attended by Coles, Woolworths, Franklins, Aldi and Metcash executives, the minister for competition policy and consumer affairs, Craig Emerson, made the decision to scrap the grocery price monitoring website, just six days before its scheduled launch next Wednesday. Dr Emerson denied he had been bullied into the decision, which he said was his alone."

Disappointed. Annoyed. Let down.


Now the puter is broken - oh my I'm so sad, I miss it so much! $99 just to have it looked at plus repairs - Sony only has a 12 month warranty on laptops (I think that's just ridiculous but please don't get me started!). That was Wednesday

Then the heater died Thursday.

Our toaster died yesterday.
What today you reckon? I hope it only comes in threes.

HappySnapSaturday: BucketStilts

My girls had their first experience of BucketStilts on Thursday at playgroup.

Cute and hilarious.

Friday, June 26

FrillyfrivolousFriday: Friendship loaf with Joelene Sugarbaker

Happy Friday all!

My first..

Can't believe Michael Jackson has passed away. Seems a bit surreal?

At the tender age of almost thirteen, I was the proud owner of the Thriller Album (and then bought the Off the Wall album too!) and had one of these poster adorning my walls. (below)

I had begged my parents to buy it for me at the Royal Easter Show. So that would have been March/April 1984 - Michael Jackson was my first Pop Idol.

The first video I ever hired from the video shop (and yes, it WAS a video - no DVDs and it was VHS not Beta hehe) was Thriller - extended version around the same time or slightly after.

50 years is not old. But he lived a pretty extraordinary life. So sad really, what happens to his kids? Will Debbie Rowe have any access to the two children she mothered to him?

FrillyFrugalFriday: Getting the hang of this..

Yes, I've had a pretty good week.

1. I've stuck to my meal plan - actually last night made dinner and then my parents took us out for dinner, so I have an extra meal in the freezer now!
2. I joined Simple Savings - already implementing some of the great ideas and tips from there - there's literally thousands...!
3. No using the dryer - and we've had a few sunny days so I'm in maintenance rather than catch-up mode.
4. Started using cleaning mits for dusting and cleaning windows/glass - this will save a lot in paper towels and chemicals! Super easy and effective too!
5. I have accumulated $20 in a wish card from doing online surveys - have decided to save this for my birthday for some yummy treats.

I have over-spent this week but I see it mainly to save money down the track:
I got 3 loaves of NobleRise wholemeal bread for $5.97 - that's next weeks' bread that would usually cost me $9.00
I have been doing a bit more baking than usual - so needed to stock up on flour and sugar and butter.

Base $139.28

20/6 Woolworths $24.05 (5.97 is staples for next week on special)
20/6 Fruit Market $10.98
23/6 IGA $30.70 ($25.10 of this is staples for 2 months purchased on sale and in bulk)
23/6 Forestway Fresh $18.03

Total: $223.04 =$24.00 over budget.

I'm not going to beat myself up - we've had no entertainment budget this week and I know next week will be better on the ol' budget. Nothing is going to waste food-wise and that's my main concern.

Thursday, June 25

I don't want to alarm you.. but..

It's exactly 6 months until Christmas.

Stop looking away from the computer and shaking your head! Start making your list, checking it twice! If you are looking to make some presents this year - get started! I'm actually going to make some new christmas stockings this year and some decorations I think!

For us Aussie's the big toy sales are about to descend on us:

Myer starts TODAY - also if you use this voucher from today until June 28, and you have a MyerOne card, you get an extra 10% off.
Big W starts July 2
Kmart starts July 2
Target starts July 23
Do you love me or hate me now?

Reality Bites: Come Fly with me.


OK I have thrown something at my TV. Cassie has to gooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Nowwwwwww. Elle MacPherson (apparently Cassies' favourite model!) gave her sage advice not to smoke, and what does she do? The minute Elle has turned her back- Cassie's out sneaking a cigarette.........! The agents love her though. She does produce good pictures, but surely that's not what it's ONLY about is it? Doesn't professionalism, passion and maturity count? I don't get it. But hey, I'm not in the industry.

I was a little crushed for Tahnee when they said she was too curvy for most of their clients and that mayb TV presenting would be better because the clients aren't 'hung up on measurements'. I don't doubt it's the truth, but a harsh reality really.

Alex 'expensive' Perry seemed like he wanted to give Cassie the boot. Shame he was outnumbered.


Jason is so talented but man, what a trainwreck that house was! I'm not sure how I'd feel about a blue room either to be honest! He and Damien turned it around and came through victorious - happy for Jason, but sad for Ritchie.

Ritchie and Chontelle's house surprisingly looked fantastic. Their music room looked fantastic and I loved both the bedrooms.



Bubbye Poh, bye! No great loss to me, was getting exasperated with the flusters she had in the challenges, particularly when she was in charge... Masterclass this week wasn't rocking my boat but the announcement of a HongKong trip did! I have been there twice and love it.

And it hasn't disappointed.

Loved the dim-sum challenges - I seriously could eat my (hefty) weight in yum-cha and have had it a few times in Hong Kong. The precision, ingredients, presentation. Loved it, wished I could smell it and eat it too.

Celebrity chef was interesting - given that Lucas I think is a bit over-rated I wasn't surprised that Julie beat him - as again I went unsurprised that Julia kicked Chris' and Sams' butts too.

So Chris, plus Sam and sadly Andre have their places in the final four and either Julie or Justine will need to be eliminated... there's no justice in that one, it should be one of the boys...!! Don't you think?

Wednesday, June 24


Something on my beautiful RED puter is not happy.

Either the battery or power card. Won't boot up now - I had a spare power lead, neither work.

I hope it's under warranty! (Sony and it's 18 months old)
Now I'm on hubby's spare laptop - meh - better than nothing but I miss my baby and it's only been hours...!!

Dear person/s who won the OzLotto Jackpot...

Now then. If you won the 50 million or part-thereof in OzLotto last night I'd like to appeal to your generous side (i.e. beg) for these items that would certainly make my life just that little bit (a lot) more pleasurable.....

Dualit four slot toaster in red. When I lived in London, my boyfriends' mum had one - my love affair with dualit has been around since 1993... now it's in red.. well what can I say?
Kitchenaid - artisan *sob*
I'll also need one of these: the ravioli attachment :)
Plus the dough hook and the whisk - you know I'll use it!

Whilst I'm at it, I'll add the breadmaker I want - the Cuisinart:

Now I've added it up, it's about $3,000 - think about all the lovely pictures I'd be able to post and the wonderful recipes I'd be able to create!?

Word-to-the-wise Wednesday #2

In this cold weather..
It inspires a lot of people to bake. After you've finished cooking, leave the oven door open and warm the house up. Save your heating bill!

Save to save
Simple Savings have $10 discount on their annual membership - join up for 1 year for $37 instead of $47 - valid until 9pm 30 June. We joined! Love it!

Tuesday, June 23

Cheaty Lemon Meringue Pie

I got this recipe from Simple Savings - it is yummy substitute however if you're expecting it to be like a *real* one - this isn't it but it's pretty close! It's a great one to make up quickly - seriously only took me about 40 mins from beginning to end.
Approximately 12 milk arrowroot biscuits
80 grams butter/margarine, melted (I used low fat margarine)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the skim milk kind)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest from one lemon (the original recipe doesn't call for this but I personally think it needs it)
3 egg whites (I used 5 as I had two in the fridge already)
1/2 cup caster sugar (again, I used 3/4 cup to account for 5 egg whites)
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (if you have fan forced 150 degrees)
  • Put milk arrowroots into a ziplock bag. Bash all your frustrations out on bag until biscuits resemble breadcrumbs
  • Melt your butter and combine with biscuit crumbs. Press into greased pie tin and store in the fridge (they do say it turns out better if you leave it overnight but I just chilled it whilst I made the filling)
  • In a bowl, combine the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest. Ensure well combined and then pour over the biscuit base, ensure it's evenly coating the base.
  • Put in the oven for 10-15 mins, there should be a skin on the mixture when you take it out.
  • Meanwhile, whilst the pie is baking, whisk eggs with an electric beater on highest setting until it forms soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar and beat until you have achieved firm peaks
  • Give the beaters to children or lick yourself.
  • When the pie is cooked, remove from the oven, but don't turn the oven off.
  • Pour the meringue mixture on and then spread to the sides with a spatula, make peaks with the spatula.
  • Put back into the oven for a further 10-12 minutes (keep watch on it) until the meringue turns a light golden brown on top.
  • Enjoy!


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