Monday, February 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Thanks to everyone who played along last Monday, there were some great ideas for family dinners!

Don't forget to link up if you're meal planning this week, I've extended the amount of time the link is open for, I'm still trying to get used to the new technology! :)

Our plan this week looks like this:

Random Recipe - Pot-roast Meatloaf (Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food p161) with mashed sweet potato and steamed veg

Butter chicken (slow cooker) with brown rice and steamed veg

Pasta Prima Vera

Pork sausages, mashed potato and steamed veg

Felafel with flat bread, salad and yoghurt sauce

Veg and noodle stir fry with boiled eggs

Some sort of roast, maybe chicken or beef

wholemeal bread
mini cheese muffins for the freezer for morning teas
zucchini slice for the freezer for lunches
muesli (this has been on my list to make for about a month and I must do it this week!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Creative Space

Here is the post I promised last week, a gift for a friend of ours who has just turned 6!!! It has now been received and used so I can put some pics up. I made Mia an apron, which is the most difficult (yet it wasn't really that difficult) thing I've sewn. Yep, I'm still very much a beginner!
A fancy wee apron with two pockets and personalised with a name panel that was my Mum's idea. Thanks Lynnie!
 I didn't use a pattern, I just used an apron of Elliot's as a guide and made it bigger.

I got very adventurous, I top stitched in contrasting pink! 
I also added a clip to make the neck strap adjustable.

 I lined the back (recognise the fabric?) so I suppose it could be double sided, 
but the pretty side is much prettier!
For more creative goodness head over to Kootoyoo!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Baby Wearing Apprentice V2.0

See V1.0 here.
Click here for more Wordless Wednesday pics!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Downside to Homemade

One of the downsides that I've found to not buying lots of packaged and processed food is the lack of reuseable containers.

Someone (read: a boy) has misplaced the container of paddle pop sticks that I use to label seeds when I plant them. Turning the house upside down I could not find anything suitable as a substitute, all I could think of was an ice cream container cut up, but since we've been making our own ice cream for over a year, all our old containers have been used and reused (and reused again) long ago.

Then when having breaky the other day it hit me ... a yoghurt container! I still haven't got the knack of making my own yoghurt without an Easy-yo packet (any tips welcome!) so we just buy a 1kg tub of natural yoghurt every week. As it was Elliot had already decided that that particular container was going to be used as the 'egg collection container' once the chickens start laying. It took some convincing that they wouldn't actually be laying for a few more weeks so I'm sure we'll have another container by then.

Does anyone have any tips? What do you do when you need to a certain something and have nothing to hand? If like me you make a lot of your own food from scratch, how do you do it?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Big Menu Planning Post!

After having a couple of readers suggest it, I've decided to start a linky thingy so others can join in with my meal planning fun. I'm not too techy though, so I hope I've done it right! So if you're meal planning this week, link up and join in! You may find some new "blogosphere" friends and you will probably find some great meal ideas!

We're having a short, yet very busy week this week. As the first week of 'Meal Plan Monday' link up it's a pretty poor show but you get that some weeks! We're away for a long weekend this coming weekend and on Wednesday I've got a late Dr's appointment and then an early evening at a friends place babysitting all with Matt being away in Brisbane for work for the day and not expected home til quite late. Crazy days!!!

Chicken and zucchini risotto (using up the leftover chicken from the weekend's roast)

Felafel with flat bread, salad and yoghurt dressing

No idea, maybe we'll have dinner at our friends, maybe we'll have something easy at home like eggs and toast after a pop home and pop out again.

Chicken stock (from bones from weekend's roast), wholemeal bread, some sort of baking for the freezer for morning teas, choc-mint ice cream

I'm so excited to see what everyone else is planning this week!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Meal Plan Monday Link-along!!!

Just a quick post to let you know that on Monday I'll be starting a weekly link-up for all you menu planners out there. After having a couple of readers suggest it, I've decided to give it go so others can join in with my meal planning fun.

Anyway, if you're meal planning this week, link up and join in! You may find some new "blogosphere" friends and you will definitely find some great meal ideas!

See you here Monday!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My No Rubbish Lunchbox Challenge

With Elliot going to Kindy this year 5 days a fortnight I spent a lot of the Christmas holidays searching for a suitable lunchbox for him. The Kindy handbook said that lunchboxes could go in the fridge but insulated bags needed to stay in their lockers for the day with an ice brick. I wanted his lunch in the fridge, summer here is just too hot to have food out for hours and hours. I struggled to find a lunchbox that would fit with our 'no rubbish' beliefs. I finally found the perfect lunchbox and I love it! And Elliot being a fan of everything having a place, he loves it too!

Unlike most Mum's I don't have the school food dilemma, Elliot will gladly eat the same thing everyday and likes that the 'right' thing goes in the 'right' part of his lunchbox.

So he everyday he takes a container of natural yoghurt with some frozen blueberries and passionfruit 
and another container of dried fruit.

In the big part of his lunchbox he takes a sandwich 
(this week he went all out and took some leftover zucchini slice!!!) 
and on top some green beans or carrot sticks and a packaged cheese, which is the only packaged/processed food that we buy

In the last compartment are another couple of pieces of fruit and a mini muffin from the freezer.
The only thing I don't like is that there is nowhere big enough for a whole banana so he just takes half a banana one day and half the next day. Not that that is really a problem with the way banana prices are likely to go soon!

So there we have it! A cheap ($11) and easy to replace if it gets lost (we got it from the grocery shop) lunchbox that means no rubbish going into landfill, no commercial or processed food muddling his little mind and body, and a Mama that can sleep at night knowing her little man may be away from her through the day but at least he's still eating good food!

Oh, this is the 4th week of Kindy and we've already had to have a discussion about Coke! I just have to share this little story, it just shows how innocent and wonderful children are (when we let them be). Elliot came home from Kindy and our conversation around the dinner table went like this:

Elliot: "My friend xxxxx said his Daddy drinks Coke"
Mummy: "Oh, do you know what Coke is?"
Elliot: "Nope"
Daddy: "It's a sometimes drink that you have when you're older, like, 20"
Elliot: "Ok Daddy"
Mummy: "What did you say to xxxxx?"
Elliot: "I said, 'My Daddy drinks water'"

I do so love my beautiful little man!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Creative Space

I had a great post organised about my latest project but due to my procrastination in getting it to the Post Office I'm saving it for next week. It is a birthday present for a friend's daughter who celebrated her 6th birthday last week (I know, I know, late as usual!) and I don't want to give the surprise away by putting pics up here before she gets it! I posted it yesterday so hopefully it'll arrive soon!

The sewing bug has really hit and I just can't stop thinking about the next project! I'm currently working on another gift for a friend's 4th birthday. Very unoriginally, it is the same as Mia's but still ever so lovely. But as I sew, watch tele, make dinner, or drive, or anytime really I can't stop thinking about what to make next and how to do it.

There seems to be a boy epidemic around at the moment with 2 friends in town having boys in the past couple of weeks, us due with another boy in June and then another lot of friends due to have their first boy in July. I found this fabric during a 50% off sale with no idea what I was going to do with it but now I'm thinking bibs with a flannel backing. Or maybe an adorable floppy hat. Ok, maybe I'm still not sure but I am sure I couldn't leave it in the shop!

While at the op-shop yesterday I found these two pieces of fabric which I'm thinking I'll turn into shorts for the boys. At only 50c each they were too much of a bargain to leave at the shop too.

Oh my, I wonder if Matt knew what he was unleashing when he gave me Freida for my birthday last year!!!

More creative spaces here!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

24 + 4

Enjoy some more Wordless Wednesdays here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Found Me!

As a Thank You for looking after their two dogs for a month while they were tripping around India my parents gave us two lovely chairs for the verandah. They are ever so comfy and a new favourite spot to have a quiet (or not so quiet) read in the afternoons. The only problem is that there are only two and the boys often claim them before I get a chance!

I've been scouring second hand, collectable and op shops for a suitable table to go with these chairs for a few weeks now (read this post) and finally the right piece found it's way home! We were driving through town, not planning to stop and it grabbed my eye in the window of a second hand shop! I quickly found a car park and got the boys out and into the shop to find it had a 'Sold' sticker on it. I was so disappointed, so bought myself a new marble rolling pin for my collection! :)

We continued wandering through the shop and as we were leaving I said to Elliot how disappointed I was that the little table was sold. We talked about the sticker and the word SOLD and he looked at it and said "No Mummy, it starts with a 'H'!" so I had another look and lo and behold it said "Hold"!!!!! I just glanced at it on the way past and misread it! So back to the lady we went and Elliot gave her our phone number so if the people changed their mind she could give us a ring. Later that afternoon she called and said they had changed their mind! Yay for us!

 A lovely place to while away the afternoon!

I'm so grateful for my little man and his fantastic pre-reading skills!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I couldn't find any dashi stock powder in town here needed for the Chicken Donburri that was the Random Recipe last week. I'll have to see if I can find some online or get some next time we go to the big smoke!

This week is is a short week for meal planning as we're unsure of our weekend plans. We may be away, we may have visitors!

Lasagne (with another made for a family who've just welcomed their second baby boy!)

Homemade pizza on wholemeal bases

Zucchini slice with salad

Risoni with Sweet and Sour Capsicum - Random Recipe from Marie Clare Fresh p66

Ice cream, yoghurt, muesli, banana cake and mini muffins

Friday, February 11, 2011

Passionfruit Ice Cream

It's an exciting time in our house when the passionfruit lady is back at the markets! Hurrah! Unfortunately do to all the rain and flooding the only crop they've got at the moment is passionfruit, she told me last week that they lost over 15 acres of tomatoes and cucumbers in the recent flooding and three lots of earlier crops over the past 6 or so months.

This is why I love going to the farmers markets. I get to talk to and get to know the people who are producing our food. They know the boys, give them a free bit of this or that every now and then. Yes, we could get all our fruit and veg from the grocery but then we'd be giving our money to big corporations and the farmers that supplied them would be getting a pittance for all their hard work. I know that when we give the passionfruit lady $2.50 for a bag of passionfruit that all of that $2.50 is going to her, her hard working husband and their children that help them on the farm.

I now have two helpers in the kitchen!

These passionfruit were the first of their harvest and oh so delicious. We decided to add to that deliciousness by making passionfruit ice cream! It's just our basic ice cream recipe with the pulp from a few passionfruit stirred through and the vanilla omitted. I can't remember how many passionfruit and even if I could it wouldn't be accurate because it was a case of 'one spoon for the ice cream, one spoon for the boy helping'!

Don't you just love chubby toddler hands?

Our Basic Ice Cream Recipe
Makes 2 litres

1 cup white sugar
1.5 cups milk
3 cups cream
2tbls vanilla essence

Whisk together the sugar and milk to dissolve the milk.
Whisk in the cream and vanilla until combine.
Churn in the ice cream machine for about 30 minutes or frozen like soft serve. 
Transfer to a 2L container and freeze.
Lick the paddle and scoop out the super frozen remnants with a plastic spatula!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Creative Space

One of our little friends turned two this week so I thought I'd make him a little something for his birthday. I needed it to be quick and simple as I am very much a beginner sewer! After a bit of googling I found this tutorial for a magnetic fishing game.

I made 3 spotty fish and 3 stripey fish for each game set.

Love some pinking shears!

Family crafting time
The boys just had to give it a test run!
With a quick drawstring bag and a handmade card we had a simple, fun birthday gift!

It was very quick and easy, so easy I got a bit carried away and made a set of fish for Archie for his upcoming birthday!

For more creations head over to Kootoyoo!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why I should Always Cover the Cake!

We made Carrot and Almond Cake the other day, to be iced with cream cheese icing. I put the cake out to cool and went to get the washing off the line leaving the boys playing happily inside. 
Matt came home from work to find two boys "checking what it tasted like" according to Elliot.

Cheeky boys!!!

Hopefully the other Wordless Wednesday participants are a bit more interesting for you!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baby wearing

After my post about our fabulous new carrier I thought I'd do a post completely dedicated to my love of baby wearing!

Elliot at 6 months helping me with dinner in the kitchen of our old Brisbane house, pre-renovation. Please excuse my daggy yard clothes, we were renovating a house and yard!

Smiley Elliot!

Our baby carrier collection numbers 5 (4 different types)!!! We have a BubbaMoe sling, an Ergo, 2 large swathes of material for wrapping and now a pouch sling. You can't have too many carriers can you? I've only just stopped wearing Elliot in the Ergo, but if he asked again I'd give it a go. Archie still gets carried in the Ergo, but hasn't been in the BubbaMoe sling for a while.

Slings/carriers just make babies so portable and makes life so much easier! 
Here is Archie at our friends' wedding at almost 4 months.

I've always been a big baby wearer, there are so many benefits for baby and many many advantages for Mum too. A friend once told me that babies carried a lot are more likely to have delayed development because they are never on the ground using their muscles. Well, both our boys walked by 10 months so there goes that theory!

Cutting some wicked moves on the dancefloor at the wedding!

Archie and Matt visiting Santa at our old neighbourhood Christmas party. It was Archie's first Christmas and he was 9 months old.

The following passage was found here, and it outlines just a few of the advantages succinctly.
Using a baby sling or wrap can make life easier for you and is good for your baby. Following are some of the advantages of "wearing" your baby (from The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears):
  • It's convenient. You can breastfeed discretely in a sling while working, getting things done around the house, shopping or eating in a restaurant. If you have a baby who wants to be held all the time, this is an easy way to meet her needs while doing other things.
  • It helps moms care for older siblings. Carrying your baby in a sling can give you the mobility to care for your older children.
  • It helps some babies to breastfeed better. Some babies, particularly those who are tense or tend to arch their backs, breastfeed better while moving. Also, babies who are slow to gain weight (for no apparent reason) have been known to gain better if carried in a sling for several hours a day, since proximity to mom encourages babies to eat more frequently.
  • It reduces crying and colic. A 1986 study of 99 mother-infant pairs (reported in Pediatrics) showed that carrying babies at least three hours a day reduces crying and fussing 43% during the day and 51% at night. Babies are happier because they have less need to cry, and parents enjoy their babies more as a result.
  • It enhances learning. Carried babies have enhanced visual and auditory alertness, and increased "quiet alertness" times. Carrying a baby promotes cognitive development and speech development, since babies are exposed to more experiences and conversations.
  • Carried babies are involved in their parents' world. They participate in life, rather than see it as a spectator.
  • Carrying your baby promotes bonding and enhances parents' feelings of competence. A higher frequency of feeding and touching stimulates mothering hormones, and frequent carrying encourages and speeds the development of a mutual reading of each other's cues. 
My absolute favourite baby-wearing photo, me with both boys for a quick dash into the grocery. I'd promised El he could go in the Ergo but Archie was asleep in the car (and we HAD to go). 
It was an interesting shopping experience, more for the looks and comments than the actual wearing, it wasn't uncomfortable! 
A lady out the front made a passing comment that I needed a photo of that so I gave her my phone!
Elliot was 2.5 yrs, Archie was 8 months.

So why wouldn't you wear your baby? They're the ultimate accessory!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Random Recipe Review and Monday Menu Plan

Last week's random recipe was Megadarra from The Australian Women's Weekly's Cook, p400. It is described in the book as 'a pilaf-style dish, often referred to as the poor man's food of the Middle East' which I got pretty excited about! It was tasty, not complicated or difficult to make and very wholesome and nutricious. And as an added bonus, Elliot devoured two servings! It was recommended to be served with a salad like tabbouleh or fattoush but I knew that wouldn't go down well with the boys so we had it with a side of steamed vegies and some Greek yoghurt. The recipe says that it serves 4, but they must be four incredibley hungry people because it fed the four of us (Matt and Elliot had seconds) with two serves (enough for Matt and I to share for dinner each) in the freezer.


2 cups brown lentils
1.5litres boiling water
3/4 cup white long grain rice
1.25 litres boiling water, extra
1.5 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp salt

 Caramalised Onion
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp white sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Place lentils and 1.5L water in a large saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, about 15 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Drain
2. Meanwhile, make caramalised onion. Cover to keep warm.
3. Combine rice, extra water and spices in medium saucepan. Add half of the caramelised onion; bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 12 minutes. Add lentils and salt; simmer uncovered about 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
4. Spoon megadarra into serving bowls and top with remaining caramelised onion.
Caramelised Onion: Heat oil in a large frying pan, cook onion and sugar, stirring for 5 minutes. Add half of the water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Add remaining water; simmer, stirring for about 5 minutes or until onion caramelised.

What I'd do differently next time:
  • It definitely needs the salt, don't be scared to add it!
  • I'd add some more spices, cumin for instance.
  • I'd use the specified brown lentils. I couldn't find brown and already had red so I just used them. The result was more porridge-y than pilaf-y, but still yummy.
  • I'd add more vegies to the Megadarra itself, spinach would be great.
  • My friend Emma who blogs here has also made it since we had it for dinner and she omitted the rice completely and said it was delish! She also added a bouqet garni and spinach.
So, on to the plan for this week. It looks like this:

Fried rice with chicken drumsticks

Pork sausages, steamed veg and mashed sweet potato

Vegie quiche and salad

Chicken Donburri - Random Recipe from The Thrifty Kitchen, p81**

Italian lentils with cous cous


Bean burritos

** If I can find all the ingredients. It is a Japanese dish that calls for dashi stock, made from dashi powder yet our two grocery stores and Asian grocer in town don't stock dashi powder. I'm going to have to see if I can get it online or have a friend in the big smoke send me some in the mail! If I can't get it in time for Thursday's dinner it'll definitely be on the list another week, it looks divine!

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Some Op-Shop Finds

    In true op-shopping style, I went looking for one thing and came home with a few things I wasn't looking for! Oh well, we'll just have to go to some different shops another day and see if that perfect coffee/side table for our new verandah chairs just jumps out at me!

    In the meantime we're having fun:

    imagining with this steam train, which was only $2! Elliot was so excited when he asked the lady how much it was because I told him that if it is less than $10 we could get it. Hooray! Afterall, the thing we need around this house is more trains! :)


    problem solving with some new puzzles

    matching with this bingo game

    I love the gamble that op-shopping is, some days it can be a gold mine, other days a huge disappointment. This trip was a gold mine!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    My Creative Space

    I finally got the sewing machine out again and made Elliot some sheets for kindy.

    My sewing room :)

    As he is such a little individual, he chose some lovely bright green fabric with white polka dots, so there'll be no confusing which sheets are his!

    This was only my second attempt at sewing since getting Freida for my birthday in October so it took a while, longer than one fitted sheet and a drawstring bag should have! I've made a resolution to sew a lot more, so watch this space while I learn a new skill!

    Edit: After Elliot took his sheets on Monday he came home and told me that they don't fit! When I spoke to the teacher she looked at the book and realised there was a typo with the measurements! Apparently I was the only Mum to make sheets, everyone else just bought a fitted cot sheet, so I suppose that is what I'll do now, although he'll take the bought sheet in the green spotty drawstring bag. Any suggestions on what I can do with a fitted sheet that doesn't fit anything? :)

    Hopefully all the other creations today haven't been subject to the same measurement errors!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    My Pay it Forward:2011 Gift!!!

    Last week I received my Pay it Forward: 2011 gift from the wonderful Milky Mumma! As always, it was lovely to get a parcel in the post!

    I received a wonderfully sewn pouch sling to use with the new baby (although Archie has been giving it a test run). It is very warm and snuggly, perfect for our winter bub-to-be.

     How big does my wee man look! I can't believe he is going to be 2 in just over a month! 
    Where in the world does the time go?

    Thanks Lu, I absolutely love love love my new pouch sling and Archie loved it too, the 'star sling' as we now call it. El also decided that it was his favourite because it has stars on it. I'm so grateful to be sharing this journey of motherhood with you! xx