Monday, January 26

Lunchbox legend or easy dinner: Best ever wholemeal wraps

Our family is big into wraps at the moment, but I really don't enjoy paying upwards of $4.00 for just 8 of them.   They are a good alternative to bread and our kids fill them up with cold meats, salad for lunch and we have kofta  or our homemade doner kebabs in them for dinner.

I've tried a few recipes and many turn out too thick or to get the quoted quantity you have to make them super small and they don't wrap much.  So I experimented and came up with these ones.  They are thin, but not so thin they crack or have holes in them the minute you put something slightly wet on them.  They are the winner.  We're obsessed with them now, and I'm making them again today to go with pulled pork I've got going in the slow cooker.

And the bestest thing is they don't take long at all - about 1.5 hours from beginning to end (probably less really), and most of that you're not doing anything at all - a good time to get your fillings prepared - or make them the night before school... and I worked out - at the most this cost $2.00 for the whole lot more like $1.50 depending on where you shop.

1 tsp dried yeast
1.5 cups warm water
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper (optional)
1 tb olive oil
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups plain flour
dried herbs as desired (optional)

Dissolve the yeast into the warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes.   then add the salt, pepper, olive oil and whole meal flour and mix well with a spoon until well combined.

Then add plain flour and herbs and if you have a mixer with a dough hook, knead on low speed for about 3 minutes. If you don't, knead by hand for about 5-10 minutes.

 It should be elastic-ky dough - if not add water of plain flour until you reach the right consistency.

Place in a greased bowl (olive oil or spray) and cover with cling film.  Leave for 45 minutes or until it's doubled in size.

Doesn't take long!

Cut into 8 even pieces

Start by kneading the dough a few times, by folding over each piece a few times until you feel the dough 'toughen' a little.  Roll it out as thin as you can without breaking it.  Mine were about 20 x 20cm.

Heat up the largest frypan or surface you have. This could be a grill or your BBQ.  For me, this is my paella pan.  Place on medium heat.  Dabble a small amount of olive oil and place your dough.

After about a minute, it will start to bubble up.  Leave it there for about 2-3 minute in total and then flip over.

Turn over and leave for a further minute.

Then flip onto a tray (I used a pizza tray to give you some idea of the size of my wraps) some paper towel, I use used one piece and put it underneath for few minutes then on top for a few minutes whilst I was making the next one.

Before you know it, you have wraps to go!  If you don't want to eat them right away - pop them in a large ziplock bag and in the fridge or even in your pantry, but eat within a few days of making them.

We put BBQ chicken, hoummos, and salad, yum!  Great for a hot night.

A hit!

Thursday, January 1

A retrospective on 2014 - for posterity

I don't blog these days as much as I'd like to, being a full-time-busy-working-mama I like to spend my non-work time with my girls and resting, but the downside of not blogging is recording those times in your life that I like to look back at - a 'time and place' kind of thing.

2014 started with a bang-ish.  We were in London but had been touring all day, to Wandsworth Common (where I used to live) and then we went to Jamie Oliver's Fifteen for degustation dinner. Instead of braving the cold and wet and the crowds, we opted to watch the fireworks from our house. On TV.

We spent New Years' day at the theatre watching Matilda the Musical and in the new few days we were there packed in a lot of sightseeing.  Unexpectedly hubby enjoyed London a lot more than New York - it might have been the pub-grub though.. haha.

Next we headed off to Paris, and although the we were tired, and our apartment had five (yes FIVE) flights of stairs) it was magical and I don't think there's one person in our family who doesn't want to go back.  I don't think Paris is somewhere you can go just once.  The kids had their first croque madames and hubby found decent coffee and we went to Laduree so food-wise it was pretty fab.
Sight-wise we saw a lot but again, we'll need to go back 'one day' to see more.

Last stop on our world tour was Hong Kong and we'd all been there before..  we were so tired - and our hotel on arrival didn't have our rooms ready so we all (five of us) slept in one queen bed for some hours.. I still don't know how we did that.  But when we eventually did get our own rooms, we struggled through the afternoon and had a nap.. for five hours.   Woke up about 11pm, had dinner (McDonalds was next door and the only thing that was open) and then went back to sleep for another 12 hours.   A bit of a waste of our Hong Kong time but we absolutely needed it.  

We managed to get up to Aberdeen this time and went on Jumbo floating restaurant for lunch, and another of our days we met up with friends in Stanley and did the markets.

On our way home we all got upgraded to business class which was a massive surprise and a highlight for my hubby who always wanted to do business class in an A380.  

When we got home it was straight back to work for me, so all go-go-go!   The kids settled back into school a few weeks later, in Years 3 and 4.

They also started tap dancing which sadly due to conflicting schedules with other activities and a bunch of other reasons we had to abandon in term 3.  I guess we learned a little about knowing our limits in 2014 

Gymnastics was something we also had to give up this year but we might be able to fit it into 2015.  


The big activities for this year were music and netball.  Both take a lot of time and effort but they are what the girls opted to keep this year.  Eloise continued with her Alto Sax and Olivia took up flute.  Laura tried the cornet for a while but it wasn't for her, she focussed more on competitive sport in school - Netball and Eagle Tag.

In February I headed back to Manila for work for a quick jaunt.  Always nice to catch up with people there, I changed jobs in late 2013 but in the same industry and my travels to Manila are less frequent now.  I went three times in 2014.  Much different to the 10+ times I would go in the previous years.

I also stopped in Tokyo in February for 5 days and it was my first trip to Japan.  That was my 2nd winter of 2014 already but I saw some great stuff and met lovely people from my Japan office.  I'm looking forward to my next trip there in 2015.  I'd love to take the family but I don't think schedule will permit.

March it was alot about Netball.  Laura and Olivia started Nettas and Eloise was in Under 10's first year of graded netball.  Saturdays we were out the door by 7am and home by 10-30-11ish.  Hubby was manager of Eloise's team this year so we needed to get there a little early at least (and Hubby has a phobia of being late so usually a bit more early than a little!)

Good thing about that is that although it was early and especially in the cold you are a bit reluctant to get out of bed, it was not a big intrusion into our weekend and we could always get a park.  Next season we'll be leaving an hour later, and the parking will be a nightmare.  Can't have it all!

In March we also had a visit from my both our Mums, which is always great - we miss our family being so far away 

We took Gran (my hubby's Mum) apple picking at Bilpin.

When my mum visited, the kids got to perform at school in front of her for Grandfriends' day.

I do not take for granted how special these times are. 

In April I had some leave, and we had some time to hang out at home and go to the Easter Show.  We hadn't been for 4 years so we had forgotten how tiring it was but the kids had a fab time, I felt like my feet were bleeding stumps by the end of it, I think we're done for at least a few more years.

In May we headed north to Cairns and visited my family for Mother's day.  This was our last Mother's Day with just 6 girls... my sister was pregnant at the time with our number 7 cousin (another girl) and next Mother's Day there will finally be a boy to add to this brood from my other sister.. lots more love to go around!

It always feels extra special when these kids are together.
In June my baby turned TEN.  Pretty staggering to think I've been a Mum for 10 years and I look at her and think 'that went waay too fast' because I still see the baby in her.  So proud of my Eloise.  She had a sleep-over with friends and she loved it.  We gave her some very grown up Euroball earrings for her bitthday and she's managed to take very good care of them so far!

This also heralded the beginning of the loom band craze at our house.

In June we went in person to support the NSW Swifts.  I'm sure this won't be our last time.

And whilst I didn't travel to Manila that often this year I did go to Melbourne ten times.  Sometimes just for the day and other times longer.  That plane ride seems like a long bus ride now... it's only a 1 hour-ish flights but add the commute, waiting times and delays it does get old pretty fast.  I didn't get the opportunity to see a lot of my friends in Melbourne this year but hopefully next year, I already have a flight booked in January!

In July it was my birthday, and I wasn't really looking forward to it because it was the first without my Nan, but I think she had a little something to do with it turning out fabulous.  I found out I was being sent back to New York for a work trip later in the month.

Two of our girls had an adventure in July too.  They went to their first camp - for band.  Not a lot of sleep was had but they loved it.

So yes, New York again, this time in Summer.  We flew there in one hit, which is a bit gruelling but we had lots of work to do so not much if any rest.  18 hour days were par for the course but managed to catch up with a friend there, catch some theatre (Bullets over Broadway) and Ellen's Stardust Diner which we missed last time...

Also went to St Patrick's Cathedral for mass, Chelsea Market, the Blue Note for Jazz, and a good hang out in Greenwich Village and a restaurant just about cheese (awesome do try it!).

Our hotel whlst basic and comfortable had a fantastic roof bar.  We spend a few night working up there.. no.. really!

It was also restaurant week in NYC when we were there so we got to try some amazing food.
I can't wait to go back to New York again one day!

I also got to go to Chicago - and this was all work-work-work.  On our last day two of us got in a taxi for a total of a whole hour and saw some sights - my highlight was definitely the Bean!

These photos have NO filter!

The lowlight of the trip is after getting to the airport 3 hours before our domestic flight to LA to get home, our gate changed after we checked in and no-one told us until the very last moment and our flight left without us, and with our luggage.  I had only just said to my boss on the way there passing the airport hotels that I'd never stayed in one before.  I think I jinxed us.. so we stayed another day and just did the aiport outlet mall.  Was very glad to get home!

And back home in August Eloise had a big month - she played in the semi-finals of her grade in Netball, in the rain and unfortunately lost but put in such a great effort!

And she also got her pen licence!

I'm sure the shares of correction pens just skyrocketed! :)

In September I headed back to Manila for work and for pleasure, I attended and was given a great honour to be part of a wedding of a very good friend.  It was my first Filippino wedding and it was a lot of fun!  I do admit to crying a few buckets too... especially when the groom surprised the bride with a serenade!

In September we also remembered someone very special to us, with a trip to her favourite beach.

In October, I went away again to the US for work, this time for a conference in Vegas.  Not a lot of free time but I had a fabulous view from my hotel room and managed to get some outlet shopping done - mainly for my hubby and kids.

On the last night of the conference we went to a fabulous restaurant and then the Bellagio.  Hopefully I will get to go again in 2015 and this time take in a show.

I then went on a jaunt by myself to visit San Francisco.  I have always wanted to go and this was very fly-by-night but my lovely friend Nancy was a perfect host we knocked over a lot of the Bay Area in one day.  Having a car goes a very long way (literally)

Back at home, we did Halloween - our girls love to dress up and we went to the local hall to a party to raise money for the local bushfire brigade.  Eloise for the first time went trick or treating with her friends (a large group and only in an area we know).  Mummy did big gulps and fake smiles for that one!

I got the outfits in Las Vegas Walmart for $20 a piece and the make up was very cheap.

The pace didn't let up in November.  We had performing arts night at school 'The Cursed Chest' and our girls had a fantastic time and performed well.  There's nothing quite like the pride you and your child feels when they perform.  Eloise was a juggler and danced to 'Jump' by Van Halen -

..... and Olivia and Laura danced to Yolanda Adam's 'I believe'.

Then the day after, I went back to Manila for the week before returning in time to celebrate my hubby's Mum's 70th birthday.

We went out for a special dinner and then to see Wicked.  We all had a wonderful time


Also in November I took the girls to see Katy Perry.  This was their Christmas present from Hubby and I.  I bought the tickets in February, whilst Katy Perry loving was at fever pitch... but Laura had decided in the interim she didn't like Katy Perry anymore.  She was a good sport though and went along and enjoyed herself, she was particularly impressed with the staging, as I was... Eloise was in full pre-teeny-bopper mode and squealed and sang the songs at the top of her lungs.  Olivia was so overwhelmed she cried with joy the whole thing.

In late November I headed to Cairns by myself for a few days to meet my newest niece, Poppy.  Isn't she delicious?  She's a great combo of her Mummy and Daddy and I love her to bits already!

I also got to hang out a little bit with my other 3 beautiful nieces to see them perform in their end of year dance recital 'At the movies'.  They were all excellent.

And for the first time in years,as December clicked around I spent my sisters' birthday with her and our other sister and Mum.  It was a special time, I miss them all so much.

I got home just in time for the end of year presentation with my girls at school and they made me so proud, all winning awards!

Eloise in particular had such a positive year with a teacher who understood her so so well.  She's done wonders for her self-confidence and self-worth.

I had a very busy last few weeks at work, and really needed the break by the time I went on leave for Christmas.   We took the kids to the traditional Schwaroski Tree, David Jones Windows and Pitt Street Mall then got ready for Christmas at home.

And then, before we knew it, my bebes were NINE!

And they had a great day - hanging out with their cousins who came for a visit from Cairns and then a sleepover with some friends.  It's bittersweet watching them grow up.  They got their very own American Girl dolls from us for their birthdays - Laura's is called Jamie, a sister to her Australian girl doll Rosie and Olivia's is Riley, a sister to Australian Girl doll Rapunzel.

But December isn't over yet!

Our girls performed in the Christmas Eve Nativity Play at our Church!  Eloise had a speaking part and was very very good.  We had real a real angel watching them perform which was wonderful.

Eloise was Gabriel, and Olivia a 'deputy angel'

Laura was a Shepherd, and also an Innkeeper.. this photo cracks me up!

Christmas was quiet but good, we were missing some familiar faces but had some very good friends share lunch and good times.

Santa was very good to the girls bringing Eloise a saxaphone of her own, Olivia a flute of her own and Laura some rollerskates.  They were all ecstatic.

So all in all a very busy year.  A year of new things and our girls growing  up.. we're heading out of the kid years and into the pre-teens.  No specific plans for 2015 apart from continuing our Netball, focussing on schoolwork and try to have a little holiday at some point :)


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