Friday, September 29, 2006

A Visit To The Pool

Posted by MANDI at 8:01 PM 1 comments



Here is dinner tonight. No recipe, as I just went through the fridge and grabbed anything that might either go into a stir fry or looked like it needed to be eaten sooner rather than later. We had rice, stir fry vegies with a homemade honey and soy sauce mix and I fried some chicken tenderloins to go with them. The kids weren’t overly impressed but I guess you can’t impress the critics every time. Hubby and I enjoyed it, especially with sweet chilli sauce over it. I’m having a ‘thing’ for sweet chilli sauce at the moment and have cooked a few things lately just so I could have it over the top! I think it’s just that I’m getting a bit sick of eating meals that also suit a one-year-old, ie low salt, not too spicy/rich/etc. It might be time to cook a few meals for the freezer for Offspring #2, buy some baked beans for #1 and make something seriously yummy for the grown-ups in the house.

It's heating up up here. I think it was about 35˚C (95˚F for my non-metric friends) today, and it was the last couple of days too. The kids and I met a friend at the local pool this morning. We got there about 9am and it was already warming up. The kids had a great time playing in the kiddie pool, #2 thought it was great fun being swooshed through the water. She is fearless, unlike her big brother who was, and still is, a big chicken. #2 got completely soaked by a 'tidal wave' when another kid jumped in the pool and she sputtered a couple of times then laughed herself silly. #1 got splashed to a much less degree and screamed blue murder. He was unable to open his eyes because water was on his face and felt his way to me so I could brush the water away and save him from danger (or melting, I guess LOL!)

Dumb me forgot the camera! But just imagine a chubby one-year-old in her pink spotted rashie and little swimmers laughing wildly as the water gets splashed near her and a four-year-old, who is so pale he’s almost neon, in his boardies and rashie dodging every droplet of water while earnestly telling me how much he loves the swimming pool and how he can’t wait for his swimming lessons to start. After 3 years of swimming lessons Mummy can definitely wait – the deathgrip and screaming being the most positive features – but if he’s looking forward to them that’s great. We are planning to visit the pool at least once a week, partly because it’s fun and partly to get him nice and familiar with it so that lessons might go a little more smoothly.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Not a huge success

Posted by MANDI at 8:11 PM 1 comments
Quick Vegie Slice
from the Savoury/Main Ugly Binder

















1 small zucchini, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 brown onion, grated
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 parsnip, grated
1 turnip or swede, grated I used a turnip
1 potato, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed I used minced garlic from a jar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley I used mixed dried herbs
1½ cups cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup milk
½ cup wholemeal self-raising flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds
2. Turn into lightly greased loaf tin. Top with sesame seeds. Bake at 200˚C for 45-50 minutes.
3. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing

Variation: Line the tin with short crust pastry. Add 4 rashers chopped bacon.

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This recipe originally came from a leaflet of recipes inside a soup starter vegetable pack. I have tried a few of the others and had some good successes so thought I would give this one a go for dinner tonight. While this wasn't too bad I probably wouldn't bother making it again.
This was a quick vegie slice as far as preparation goes. I threw everything into the food processor for grating so that took no time at all. Lots better than grating it all by hand. But I found that it took an extra 15-20 minutes to cook through, so that stopped it from being quite as quick as I had anticipated. Maybe the eggs I used were too big and made the mix sloppier than it should have been (Yes, sloppier is a cooking term. Well, in my kitchen anyway LOL). I just remembered that the carrots were small-ish and I was deciding whether to add another one but decided to stick with the recipe - obviously I should have gone with gut instinct not tried to be good and follow the recipe for a change. When I tried to take the “loaf” out of the tin the whole thing split in half so while the photo looks okay they were the best slices. The other plate looked a little bit messier. It was quite tasty, definitely needs salt and pepper though.

Both kids tucked in although Offspring #1 tapered off halfway through. I think this had less to do with the slice and more to do with the end of term party at kindy and total 4-year-old tiredness. I had a little bit of left over mince, not really enough to do anything with, so I made some meatballs to go with this.
Meat + vegies + hungry kids fed = happy Mummy!
PS: I did try to blog last night but Blogger had gremlins and wouldn't publish. I didn't forget!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Anyone for golf?

Posted by MANDI at 9:13 PM 0 comments


Here is a photo of the local golf course. You can see some of the fairway and the 'green' (more on that later) and the track around the golf course for buggies. It is in much better condition that it was when we lived here 10 years ago. The fairways are actually grass now whereas they used to be mown spinifex, ie spinifex that had been mown 'flat' . They were really rough and your golf ball didn't exactly glide across them! The course does still have it's sand 'greens' though. You know how in a normal golf course the green would be smooth, perfectly level, perfectly manicured turf? Yeah, that's not gonna happen here. Instead we have sand for the 'green' that has to be smoothed before you take your shot and then raked when you have finished. It's all very technical (NOT!). In this picture you can see where Red Dirt Central takes it's name. The sand is not the normal white beach-type sand one would expect, it is dirt. Red dirt. The redder, the better!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Splash of Colour

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 2 comments

Our backyard is bare. Barren. An empty wasteland.

Okay, it's not quite that bad. The house that Hubby's work has rented for us is on a small suburban-type block with a small rather bare yard. It has some, very patchy, lawn, one bottle brush, one nice big tree (unusual for up here and very much appreciated), a clothesline and a couple of sparse shrub type things along the back fence. Nothing will grow under the nice big tree so that is just bare red dirt that the kids think is their sandpit. The harder they play, the more the 'sandpit' encroaches on the patchy lawn. Now that we live here the yard has a trampoline, a swing set, assorted bikes and cars to ride in/on along with a multitude of balls, toy lawnmowers and general outdoor toys.

The fence itself is interesting. It is made of wire, interlocked, very strong and sturdy. To afford the occupants some privacy there are lengths of timber woven into the wire (hmmm, probably the wire is woven around the timber... dunno!) . If the timber was in good condition it would be semi-private as there are gaps of about an inch between each board. As is our case, the timber is rotting and falling down so there are great bigs gaps where you can see straight into the neighbours yard.

But... with time, patience and little coaxing we are getting somewhere. I have potted up some herbs - cannot live without my herb garden! I have basil, mint, rosemary, dill, coriander (not doing too well), oregano, chives, garlic and marjoram. They are coming along nicely and I should be able to start using them in another month or so. The lawn is getting a regular watering and fertiliser and when we haven't mowed it, it almost looks decent. When it is mowed it still looks patchy and pretty horrible. The showpiece at the moment is the splash of colour along the back fence. I didn't really notice the shrub-type plant initially but as my pots of herbs sit along the back fence I started giving this plant a drink when I watered my herbs. What a difference a bit of water makes.

Apparently it is a native bouganvillea (according to those in the know up here). It certainly has the bouganvillea-type flower but doesn't appear to creep and take over like all the bouganvillea bushes I have seen. Here is a close up of the flower cluster.
I am going to chop off some of the dead-looking bits towards the ends of the branches and see if we can get the whole thing to green up a bit and produce some more colour.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"This is nice. Where did you get it, honey?"

Posted by MANDI at 8:40 PM 5 comments



Chicken and Leek Roll
from the Main/Savoury Ugly Binder

















1 tablespoon oil
2 medium leeks, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves, couldn’t get any so used the squeezy tube blend stuff
300g minced (ground) chicken
1 cup stale breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Extra 1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon sesame seeds
extra fresh basil, to garnish

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add leeks, onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Cool
2. Combine cooked onion mixture, basil, chicken, breadcrumbs and egg in a large bowl. Mix well, using hands.
3. Spoon mixture down one side of pastry, leaving a 2 cm border, to form a log-shape, Roll pastry, folding in ends to enclose filling. Place seam-side down onto a greased oven tray. Brush extra egg over pastry; sprinkle with sesame seeds.
4. Cook in a hot oven, 200˚C, for about 30 minutes or until pastry is browned all over and the filling is cooked through.
5. Serve with garden salad. Garnish with extra basil.

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I have made this a couple of times and it has turned out great each time. I think that it does need salt and pepper and would add it in the chicken mix if it wasn’t for the kids. Instead, I leave it out during the cooking and Hubby and I add at will on our plates. Usually I do serve it with a salad but since Offspring #2 has begun eating (mostly) what we have for dinner I cooked vegetables to go with this tonight. Yeah, I was feeling lazy and couldn’t be bothered cooking her veges and making a salad too. #2 is doing really well with her eating – she’ll demolish just about anything I put in front of her - but I don’t think she is up for salad just yet. I figured that if I was cooking veges for one person I may as well cook them for four.

An aside – Hubby was halfway through his dinner when he said, “This is really nice, honey. Where did you get it from?”

Me: “Umm… the kitchen!”

We live in Red Dirt Central, no butcher, no specialty shops you big dope! Anything ‘special’ that I serve up, I make!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Taking A Different Approach

Posted by MANDI at 9:16 PM 1 comments
You know how sometimes the kids are driving you nuts? And you forget, just for a moment, that you are the grown-up in the relationship? Well that has been happening here lately. We are having some behaviour problems with Offspring #1 - mostly regression since the big move, all very understandable because it was a very big move for a 4 year old and Mummy and Daddy are taking a while to adjust too so he's taking his cues from us and running into a few problems every so often. Mostly it's just general pain-in-the-butt-ness stuff like not listening, not doing as he is asked, answering back and lots of bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. We have tried really hard to make the house as much of a home as we can, we bought all our furniture up, all the kids stuff (toys, clothes, furniture, etc - I went to great lengths to cull everything of mine and Hubby's but made sure that EVERYTHING of #1's was packed) and have carried on with our regular routine at home. But there have been changes and he is a sensitive little soul who takes things to heart so it's taking a while. Initially we went softly, as Dr Phil says "giving him a soft place to fall" at home with us, when that didn't achieve much we got strict and really stuck to the rules but all that really achieved was more crying. The last week he has driven me completely mad with plain rudeness and naughtiness so I gave myself a good talking to and decided that he was doing a lot of it to get my attention. If I'm busy doing something he'll ask me to play and when I put him off he'll start acting up. I do play with him and do craft activities and cooking and gardening, just not 24 hours a day - I do need to do other stuff like the washing and dishes. It seemed that all I was doing was telling him off and punishing him and we were both (all!!) miserable. My iron levels are again very low and the general tiredness and lack of energy is not helping at all. I know that when it's this low I get very grumpy and have very little tolerance (yeah, like I'm such a tolerant person normally, NOT!!) Anyway, after we both spent a day crying I decided that it was time to make some real changes. So the reward chart was created, my old stickers from teaching in a previous life were dug out and #1 and I had a chat about how Mummy and Daddy had been paying lots of attention to all the naughty things he had been doing but not really paying much attention when he was being good and that wasn't much fun. I told him that we would be looking for times when he was being good/doing the right thing and gave him some examples - like getting dressed in the morning as soon as I ask him, brushing his teeth without arguing, using his fork to eat all of his dinner (instead of switching to fingers halfway through) packing up his toys after he's finished playing, playing nicely with #2, etc. Together we came up with some rewards for getting a certain number of stickers - his suggestions were time playing Playstation with Dad, cooking with Mum "and I get to do it all and you just help", and going to the park.
We are three days in and so far it is working really well. Hubby and I are focussing on what #1 does right instead of not really noticing becuase of the all things he is doing wrong. #1 gets a sticker each time we notice him doing the right thing (and he isn't afraid to let us know if we are't paying proper attention LOL). He gets to choose the sticker and then put it on the right day on his reward chart, which he is loving. It is so nice to say "thanks for packing up all your toys, you did a great job" without asking 47 times for them to be put away and he is so much happier because I'm not yelling at him all day long. That's not to say he is being an angel or that there aren't consequences for bad behaviour but I'm feeling more like a good Mummy instead of a failure and a horrible yelling negative nasty person, Hubby is cutting him some slack and #1 is lots happier. He got 5 stickers today, the same number as yesterday, and his aim for tomorrow is to "get lots more than today". We are planning to take the kids to the beach in the morning so that will be a nice family outing (they are sadly lacking at the moment) and, fingers crossed, we will have another happy day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not Really Worth The Wait

Posted by MANDI at 6:49 PM 2 comments















Crumbed Apple Slice
From the Dessert/Sweet Ugly Binder

1½ cups self-raising flour
1½ cups dessicated coconut
½ cup caster sugar
185g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
425g can pie apples, drained
I didn’t have any so I stewed 400g then gave them a quick mash and drained them well

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Lightly grease an 18x28cm slice pan. Line with baking paper, extending 2cm above two long sides.

In a large bowl combine flour, coconut and sugar. Mix in melted butter and egg. Press half the mixture evenly into the prepared tin.

Cover base with apple. Crumble the remaining mixture over the apple.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in pan. Cut into squares.

I dusted it with icing sugar to serve.

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I have had this recipe floating around the Ugly Binder for about 2 years and I always plan to make it but never quite get there. I finally made it today but after all that time I was a little disappointed with the final result. It was nice but kind of lacked something. I will make it again but I plan to add some cinnamon to the apple and maybe a handful of sultanas too. I think I’ll reduce the coconut, maybe back to just 1 cup. We had it for afternoon tea and it did go down nicely with a freshly made cup of tea. I think it would be really yummy served warm with custard and ice-cream. Now if I could just figure out how to work chocolate into the recipe LOL!

If you give this a try, or make any variations of it, I’d love to know how it turns out and what you think.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Confusing Explanation

Posted by MANDI at 9:29 PM 3 comments
Offspring #1 had a terrific day at kindy today and came home full of news: There is to be an end of term party next week with a "sea" theme as that is what the kindy kids have been learning about this term. They get to dress up as something to do with the sea (think fish, shark, sailor, mermaid, etc) and all the Mummys get to make something yummy for a special party lunch. He played with one of the new kids and thinks he is a very nice boy. New small best friend is still the current small best friend and they love each other a lot lot lot. He still doesn't like the naughty boy who hits (can't really blame him there). Miss Teacher didn't tell him off (not sure how to take that one - did she tell someone else off but #1 wasn't being naughty so didn't get told off, did she tell someone else off and #1 should have been included or is this his version of not telling me that he did get into trouble?) And he brought home some beautiful paintings that he did at school. This is where the title of today's post comes into play.
Here is #1's painting
I oohed and aahed appropriately and then asked him to tell me about it. His explanation went kind of like this:
Mummy: What's in your picture, #1?
#1: Well, the big spiky bit is the sun and the long straight bit under it is the rocket and the big blue part is big and really blue and the red bit is the space-man. No wait, the big blue bit is the rocket and the straight bit is the man and the red bit is red.
Mummy: Oh. What's the yellow bit?
#1: Ummm... yellow. Or maybe the sun. No, I already have a sun. Can you have two suns?
Mummy: Well sure, if you want.
#1: No I don't want that. Maybe it's something else.
Mummy: Ooooookay? What might it be?
#1: I dunno! But I write-ed my name real good, hey Mum?
Mummy: Yes, mate. You wrote your name real good. And it's a great picture.
#1: Yeah I know.
I want to be four again and be completely certain that everything I do is great and be even more certain that everyone else thinks it's great too!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ssshhhhh....

Posted by MANDI at 8:56 PM 1 comments
The dishes are done


The kids are asleep


And the ironing basket is empty


All is good in our little corner of the world tonight! Hope yours is too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Friend To Play

Posted by MANDI at 12:33 PM 1 comments














Fruit and Oat Cookies
from the Sweet/Dessert Ugly Binder
Makes 16

1 cup self raising flour, sifted
1 cup cornflakes
¾ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup sultanas
150g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Grease and line 2 baking trays

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Stir in butter, egg and honey, mixing well.

Roll 2 tablespoons of mixture into balls. Place on prepared trays, leaving 4cm space between each. Press lightly with fingertips to flatten. I find this to be way too big, instead I do one heaped teaspoon and end up with about 30 at a nice size.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on trays. Store in an airtight container.
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We have a kindy friend coming to play this afternoon and Offspring #1 is very “incited”. It’s very cute but somewhat concerning when he tells me that characters on tv are very “inciting” because I always wonder what they are inciting. I remember from history classes that “the peasants are revolting” but was it Buzz Lightyear, Atomic Betty or Timmy from Fairly Odd Parents who was inciting them?

These biscuits are very yummy and always a winner with guests – young or a little more mature (if I called kindy friend’s Mum OLD I think she’d be mortally offended LOL). As is becoming my theme they are easy to make, especially with little helpers, and I really like that I usually have everything I need in the cupboard.

I have decided to drop the Question Of The Day (mostly because I can't think of any good ones, or if I do think of one it's very early in the morning and I've forgotten it by the time I get to doing my blog!) but I would still love to hear your comments. I know there are some of you who read each day so why not say hello, share what your kids or grandkids are doing or did at the same ages, let me know if you have tried any of my recipes and how they worked out. And if you have just stumbled across my blog why not say hi and let me know what you think?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Day At The Fair

Posted by MANDI at 12:26 PM 0 comments

Well, okay an hour at the Fair. Hmmm... an hour at the school fete? One of the local primary schools had their Fair today but to be honest, it didn't really meet what I would think of as "Fair" standards, even calling it a school fete would be being kind. There were a few stalls - maybe 8 or so local ladies who sell one thing or another through party plan, you know: Tupperware and jewellery and wooden toys/puzzles - a couple of school run stalls like one with over-priced plants and a sponge throw stall and a bouncy castle. That was about it. Oh, I almost forgot, there were some food stalls out the back but to be honest they didn't do alot for me - no bain maries to keep food warm, no fridges to keep it cool and I had a few issues with the general hygiene too. It's going to be about 35˚C here today and I wouldn't be choosing to eat the food being served. It's a bit sad really - there isn't a whole lot to do at Red Dirt Central and with a little forethought, planning and some decent organisation this could have been a terrific money spinner for the school. The last school fete (for one of the other schools) was not long after we arrived in town and I swear the entire town turned out for it. That one was well run, well organised and a really enjoyable event. Oh well, at least the kids and I got out and had a wander round for an hour or so before it got too hot today.



Offspring #1 on the bouncy castle


#1 has been so tired lately. He doesn't have a daytime sleep anymore but he tends to need just a little bit more than he gets at night. He goes to bed around 7.15/7.30pm and wakes up around 6am. I have been trying to get him to have a nap for about a week but no luck so after this mornings efforts when he refused to get off the bouncy castle and came home in disgrace I told him he would be having a sleep after lunch no arguments! Funnily enough after the usual "I don't wanna have a sleep" he toddled off and I haven't heard from him since. When I peeked in a while ago he was sound asleep, even with #2 awake and tearing around the place like a madwoman! I admit that I cheated and gave him lunch a bit early at 11.30 in an effort to have him awake again at a reasonable hour so that we might get him to back to bed at a semi-decent hour tonight. It's all Catch-22 really. No extra sleep and he's a grumpy little monster, sneak in a nap and he'll be bouncing off the walls till all hours. When it cools down later we might have to take the dog up to the park and throw some tennis balls around to wear everyone out.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Easy and Yummy

Posted by MANDI at 9:03 PM 0 comments
Chocolate Chop Cookies
from Family Circle Step-by-Step Biscuits and Slices, Copyright 1994


Makes 24

150g unsalted butter I used salt reduced, it's what I had in the fridge
¼ cup soft brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1½ cups self raising flour
1 cup (200g) choc dots
oops, threw in the whole packet (230g)

Preheat oven to moderate, 180˚C. Line a 32 x 28cm biscuit tray with baking paper.

Using electric beaters, beat butter, sugars and yolk in a small mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add essence and beat until combines.

Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl; add flour and two-thirds of the choc dots. Using a metal spoon, stir until ingredients are just combined.

Using fingers, press mixture together to form a soft dough. Roll one tablespoon of mixture at a time into a ball.

Press remaining chocolate dots firmly on top of balls. Arrange on prepared tray, allowing room for spreading. Bake 15 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Cool biscuits on tray.

Storage: Stored biscuits in an airtight container for up to three days.
Hint: Choc dots are smaller versions of choc bits. Use choc bits in place of choc dots if preferred. Alternatively, use half white chocolate and any selection of chopped nuts.

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I thought I would kill two birds with one stone yesterday and make something yummy for my blog that I could then take to scrapbooking for snacking on later. They went down a treat with the ladies at scrapbooking, and also with the family at home.

These cookies are so easy to make and really yummy to eat. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies - those of you who know me in real life know of my total addiction to chocolate so may be surprised by this seemingly rash statement. Generally I find them too dry and they don't have enough chocolate, or else the chocolate is cheap cooking chocolate not good quality yummo eating chocolate. But these! Well, they are choc full of chocolate (the quality is up to you), crunchy but not too dry and you can make them as big or as small as you like to eat your cookies.

Just for the record, I used Choc Bits - Cadbury have bought some out and they are really nice, lots sweeter than the other brand and really "chocolate-y". I didn't keep any aside to press into the top of the cookies. I have tried it before but the choc bits are too big to do this without the uncooked cookies falling apart so now I just throw the lot in the mix. If you are cooking with kids this is a terrifc recipe - simple to make, only a few ingredients, easy measurements and a really yummy bowl to lick afterwards!


Friday, September 15, 2006

A Packet Dinner!

Posted by MANDI at 12:18 PM 2 comments

Yep! I resorted to a packet dinner last night. On my fortnightly menu plan (yeah, I know totally anal!) I had planned to have lamb chops for dinner last night but have been unable to get hold of them for the last 2 weeks. One of the drawbacks of living in Red Dirt Central - popn 13,000 - is that we have Coles and Woolworths for our food supplies and that's it. No butcher or specialist meat shop like Lennards, no green-grocer or vegetable market, no specialty dessert shops like The Cheesecake Shop. Just Coles and Woolies.
Don't get me wrong, after living in a smaller town than this I think that having the choice of both is terrific. They carry a wide variety, try really hard to cater to a fairly multi-cultural poplulation and generally I can find what I want or at least a substitute to use in it's place. But... when they can't get hold of something or they have just plain run out, like lamb chops, you are reminded that you are a long way from the metro area. Anyway, while doing the middle-week vege/bread/milk shop (I shop fortnightly and do a mini-catch-up shop in the 'middle week') on Wednesday I found a packet mix for chicken that looked decent. I knew I had lots of chicken in the freezer and since there were still no lamb chops I decided it would do for dinner on Thursday.
I admit that to me it tasted a little "packet-y" but Hubby and Offspring #1 loved it and have requested it again. I added more vegetables than the recipe on the back of the packet - some brocolli and cauliflower as well as an extra carrot - but for ease, convenience and general taste it wasn't too bad. Even better, there are enough leftovers for the boys to eat it for dinner tonight. I'll cook some rice to go with it, and Offspring #2 has some vegetables in the fridge ready to go. I'll be running from a doctors appointment at 5pm to scrapbooking at 6.30 so I think I'll probably make do with a piece of peanut butter toast somewhere in the middle, as long as the doctor is running on time.
Question Of The Day: Do you ever resort to packet meals? What kind?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Scrap, Scrap, Scrappin'

Posted by MANDI at 12:36 PM 1 comments


My local arts and crafts group runs scrapbooking sessions (better known as crops) on a monthly basis. We have an all-day crop from 9am to 5pm one Sunday a month and a night crop from 6.30pm till 11.30pm one Friday a month. It's lots of fun - nice to get away from the house and the kids, lovely to chat with other people who enjoy the same hobby and great to get some fresh ideas. I decided that today I would finish off a few bits and pieces from Sunday's crop and get organised for Friday - decide what photos to scrap, choose cardstock, embellishments, etc and generally put it altogether so that on Friday night I can just get on with it. I have learnt my lesson well after turning up to one with lots of equipment but no real idea of what I wanted to do. That lack of planning saw me complete 3 or 4 pages only to come home and pull them apart because they were horrible. After they were re-done they looked much better and I learnt to get myself organised before the event so that I'm not wasting the few hours I get each month.

I'm really pleased with the pages I finished this week, as well as how many I got done. Two double pages and two single pages - I was really on a roll! Here are the two single pages.

Offspring #1 with the bike he received for Christmas (the photos on the page came out a little dark when re-photographed but you get the general idea.)



And Offspring #2 learning the domestic arts LOL!


Question Of The Day: What is your hobby/past-time/favourite way to pass the time

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My day

Posted by MANDI at 4:00 PM 2 comments
5.20am - Alarm goes off.
5.24 - Stumble from the bed and sneak down to the living room to dress in exercise gear
5.26am - Leave home for walk
6.08 - Arrive home. Wake hubby, make the day's bottles for Offspring #2, begin breakfast prep
6.12 - Offspring #2 calls from her room. Change her and bring her out to the kitchen, carry on with breakfast prep
6.13 - Offspring #1 wanders into kitchen rubbing his eyes and complaining that everyone is tooooo loud
6.14 - Hubby wanders into kitchen and asks if I ironed his shirt for today.
6.15 - Resist urge to run screaming from the house and instead hand breakfast prep to Hubby and go to iron his shirt (he was going to iron it but I offered)
6.18 - Get half way through ironing Hubby's shirt and realise that it has a great big oil stain across it. Get new shirt from ironing basket and begin again.
6.20 - Realise that I have only been awake one hour, that I won't get to bed until about 10pm tonight and that is a really long time away.
Yes, things did improve after that - we shopped for some vegies, had morning tea with a friend, posted the thankyou notes for #2's birthday presents, came home and had lunch, #1 did some painting (#2 did her very first drawing - some lines and dots that were brilliantly executed!), vacuumed, cleaned the toilet and bathroom, did several loads of washing and then a friend called in to tell me they are leaving town. Bummer :( In fact, really big bummer.
It's Wednesday so Hubby is at golf. We're having tuna mornay for dinner because it's easy and both the kids like it so no fighting at the dinner table tonight. It is made and in the fridge ready to go into the oven where it can cook while I'm bathing the kids and getting organised. I'm feeling a bit sad so may have to seek comfort from food - luckily there is an apple pie in the freezer and I just bought cream (really to make quiche but it only needs half a cup or so, not the whole carton). Big plans tonight - ironing in front of tv! All those loads of washing are dry and have turned into baskets of ironing. If I look on the bright side I could consider it an upper body workout LOL.
Question Of The Day: I've only been doing this a couple of weeks and am running out questions already! So my question is: have you got any questions that I could use?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm A Kindy Mum!

Posted by MANDI at 12:43 PM 1 comments

Not much time today. I was kindy mum this morning and choppped up the fruit for morning tea then helped the kids make crabs out of paper plates and some photocopied legs and eyes that they had painted horrific and garish colours. I ended up with glue everywhere but it was fun and Offspring #1 loved me being there. He kept telling the other kids "That's my Mum" and when I called the name of the kid who I was going to work with next he'd tell them "You need to go to my Mum now, she'll help you." So sweet. Most of the kids were very sweet and we had lovely chats about glueing and painting and crabs and being at the beach BUT a couple are right little monsters. I'll be ever-so-gently steering #1 away from them LOL.

Here is a photo of Red Dirt Central taken from the originally-named Radio Hill - it's the highest point in town where the big dishes are to catch the tv and radio reception. You can see one section of the town, then the mud flats and beyond that the ocean.


Question Of The Day: What is your favourite part of helping out at your child's school/kindy/day-care centre?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Apologies

Posted by MANDI at 2:51 PM 1 comments
Sorry for the missing blog entries over the past few days - real life just got in the way! Hubby worked all day Saturday. He was gone before 8am and arrived home around 5pm to a frazzled wife, a little boy missing his Dad and a very grumpy baby. What a great welcome, NOT. I planned to cook some fish and make fried rice to go with it but I should have learned my lesson by now. Usually I'm a pretty good cook (okay, maybe not the most modest comment...) but fried rice is absolutely beyond me. I cook the rice several hours ahead of time just like I'm supposed to, I check and re-check the instructions for cooking fried rice, I even follow all the instructions and I end up with a big gluggy bowl full of slop. It went so badly this time that I made Hubby swap tasks halfway through and I took over bathing Offspring #2 while he attempted to revive the rice. Upon my return to the kitchen he delivered the bad news. The fried rice was beyond all help LOL. We still ate it, #2 enjoyed throwing hers around the place and did manage to get some in her mouth, Hubby and I added lots of sweet chilli sauce and, because we added sauce, Offspring #1 added tomato sauce to his - I know it sounds revolting but I can tell you that it looks even worse! However he ate it all, declared it to be a yummy dinner and told me that I was a "bery good cooker".
Sunday was an all-day scrapbooking crop day for me. The kids got to spend some serious quality time with Hubby and I got to spend some serious scrapbooking time away from them all. Needless to say, we all had a great day. I got lots done but have some finishing bits and pieces to do then I'll share some pages.
Today has been a "lets find the floor" kind of day - lots of tidying and cleaning with a bit of playing and a friend dropping in for a cuppa this morning. So while not a really fun day it is a satisfying one.
Question Of The Day: What can you absolutey NOT cook?

Saturday, September 9, 2006

An Afternoon Tea Treat

Posted by MANDI at 3:19 PM 0 comments
Banana Walnut Bread
(From The Australian Women’s Weekly Cakes and Slices Cookbook)

















125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 bananas)
¾ cup self-raising flour
¾ cup plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup chopped walnuts

Grease 2 x 8cm x 26cm bar pans, line bases with paper; grease paper.

Cream butter, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time; beat until combined. Stir in half the banana with half the sifted dry ingredients and half the walnuts, then stir in remaining banana, dry ingredients and walnuts; stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into prepared tins. Bake in moderate oven for about 45 minutes. Stand 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool. Serve buttered.

Keeping time: 2 days.

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Hubby’s boss drove through Carnarvon last week and bought a box of bananas back to Red Dirt Central, to share amongst the staff. A very generous gesture, especially considering that bananas are selling for $12.95/kg at the supermarket. Sadly we left it a bit long to eat them so they ended up becoming cake instead! I know, any excuse LOL.

I have made this cake lots of times and it is a terrific recipe – quick, simple and pretty much no-fail. The only thing I do differently is make one square loaf, simply because I only have one bar pan and haven’t got around to buying another one. It cooks in the same amount of time. I had to laugh at the recommended keeping time – it never lasts that long here.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

A message from my Nan

Posted by MANDI at 7:20 PM 0 comments
Ever felt like the Universe was trying to send you a message? In this case I had a fairly good idea where the message was coming from, I was just having a hard time understanding it. (This is where it gets spooky for those who need to sleep with the lights on LOL) My Nan hangs out with me a lot. She points me in the right direction when I can’t find things, she passes on messages about stuff I need to know and she gives me hints to make me think about stuff a bit more. Sounds great doesn’t it? It is great, just a bit strange because she died nearly 19 years ago. And sometimes she doesn’t exactly make her meaning clear. Ever since she died I have known that she is with me. Sometimes I see shadows behind me, other times it’s just a feeling and there are periods of time where there is nothing at all. But she’s always there - guiding me, passing on information and, like I said, sometimes making me think things out a bit more carefully.

Some background
Last week some friends sent a text to say that their baby had been born – a boy they had named O_. “Lovely,” said we, “that’s an uncommon/old fashioned name, I bet he’ll be the only one in his class.” And that was that. Two days later I met a new boy in Offspring #1’s class and his name is O_. “How funny,” I thought to myself as I drove home. “Two O_’s in one week” and then it hit me. Nan’s last name for the majority of the time I knew her was O_! “Hmmm…” thought I. “I wonder what she’s trying to tell me?” As I dusted the photos that afternoon we had a little (one-sided) chat along the lines of:
“Nan, I’m not sure what you are trying to tell me. I need a few more clues. Can you help me out?”
Fast forward a couple of nights and Hubby and I were watching a movie. I sort-of recognised one of the actors and scanned the credits to see who it was – you guessed it, his first name was O_. Getting spooked but still no closer to understanding I pondered on it a bit and had a stern chat with Nan. Tuesday night I was on the computer reading a few of my favourite blogs. I opened one and it began with “This weekend O_, ? and I went to…”
So I picked up the phone and rang my mum. I asked if there was anything that I needed to know. Were she and Dad both okay. Were they not telling me anything about Dad’s recent surgery? Was Mum okay? Nothing – they are fine. Was everyone else in the family okay? Yes, everyone is fine.

Wednesday was Offspring #2’s first birthday. As I took her out of her cot I whispered "Happy Birthday" and used her full proper formal name. Nan's name. We named her in honour of my Nan and while #2's ‘official’ name is Nan’s we call her a different version of it. Finally, I understood the message. Nan was just trying to wish her a happy birthday and, at the same time, let me know that she’s watching over my babies.
Question Of The Day: Have you ever felt like the Universe was trying to send you a message?

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Happy Birthday Baby

Posted by MANDI at 2:41 PM 3 comments
Offspring #2 is one today. And she is sick with some sort of gastro bug! Life here is very exciting – open a birthday present, change a nappy, open another present, change another nappy! It’s not quite that bad but it’s not exactly as much fun as a first birthday should be.

We opened presents before Hubby left for work - #2 still doesn’t get the idea of present opening (we had trial runs with her birthday party and then Father's Day!) but the paper is fun to play with. As people asked me for present ideas I put out the call for ‘girly’ stuff – her big brother has bazillions of cars, trucks, racing tracks, etc and she loves them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but I was looking to open up some other avenues. Now she has 6 dolls, lots of pretty dresses, some really cute shoes and a couple of sets of pretty hair clips. Yep we’re getting girly in this house.

We’re having a special birthday dinner tonight. I’m making Chicken Pizzola, which I haven’t made before, and a birthday cake for dessert. I know it’s a bit over the top to have two birthday cakes but she’s got to have one on her birthday (even if she can’t eat any because she’s not feeling well!) and we all know that while a first birthday is all about the child whose birthday it is, but a first birthday celebration is for the rest of the family LOL. I know Offspring #1 will have a great time singing “Happy Birthday” and then blowing out the candle for his sister. And I’ll get to take more photos for scrapbooking! And Hubby will just grin and bear it LOL.
Happy Birthday baby!


Question Of The Day: How did you celebrate first birthdays for your kids?

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Goodbye Crocodile Hunter

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 0 comments

I guess by now you have all heard that Steve Irwin, AKA The Crocodile Hunter, died yesterday morning after being stung by a stingray. Hubby told me when he came home from work yesterday afternoon and, I fully admit, I thought he was mucking around or about to tell me some really bad-taste joke. I even doubted him so much that I went and checked on one of the news links from my home page. And then, even though I had read it myself, I still didn’t quite believe it. It’s funny (in a strange way) that the death of someone who was such a risk-taker should come as such a shock. Maybe because it was a stingray, not a crocodile or a snake or something that we were used to seeing him with.

I wasn’t a big fan of Steve Irwin but Offspring #1 had watched Wiggles Safari with “big Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter, big Steve Irwin, action man” many times and pointed him out on every Toyota ad on the tv or whenever he saw him in a magazine. Hubby and I were deciding how to, and even if we would, break the news to Offspring #1 when the 6pm news took care of that decision for us :( We simplified it as much as we could without covering it up and told #1 that Steve had been swimming with a very big dangerous fish and that the fish had become frightened and accidentally poked him in the chest with its tail. That hurt his heart and stopped it from working and then he died. Poor #1 was quite disturbed by the whole thing. He has been asking questions about death and why people had died for a couple of months and we have been answering them fairly matter-of-factly but this one sent him spinning. He wanted to know if we could still see Steve on the Wiggles DVD or if he wouldn’t be on it anymore because he was dead. So, no real concept of death just the understanding that if someone has died they aren’t there anymore. He took a long time to settle into bed and kept calling us back to ask more questions. The final time was to tell me that he couldn’t fall asleep because he kept ‘”wishing about Steve Irwin, crocodile hunter”. When I asked if he meant thinking about instead of wishing about he said “No Mum, I know what thinking about means. I keep wishing about him.” I asked him what he meant and he said “I keep wishing that he didn’t die.” It’s really hard as a Mummy to watch him struggle to understand this and the selfish part of me is glad that he gets to “practise” dealing with the death of someone he knew and loved from afar before he has to deal with it in his real life. He seemed more settled this morning although he still asked a few questions – the most notable being: “Is Steve Irwin still dead?” Yes buddy, he is.

No question today. Just sympathy for Steve Irwin’s family and those who loved him.

Monday, September 4, 2006

An Unplanned Dinner

Posted by MANDI at 8:39 PM 0 comments
Pasta Salad















2 cups curly pasta, cooked and drained
1 cup each of broccoli florets, diced carrots, de-seeded and finely diced tomatoes, de-se
eded and finely chopped cucumber too
¼ cup sliced spring onions Left these out because I didn't have any in the fridge
about ½ cup of your favourite creamy salad dressing
I used Taylors Avacado and Garlic Dressing, just enough to coat the pasta and salad stuff

I also added a handful of grated cheddar because I felt like it

Toss pasta and vegetables in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss lightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Yu-u-um! This is a pasta salad that I cobbled together from a few different recipes and fine-tuned until it was perfect. I must admit that I don't exactly measure the ingredients, near enough is good enough in this one. The time crept forward tonight and I didn't realise quite how late it had become and I still hadn't organised dinner so... Pasta salad it was. Tonight we topped it off with crumbed lamb chops, just regular bread crumbs today as I used up all the cornflakes in last weeks Honey Joy madness. I think this must be Offspring #1's second favourite meal (tuna and pasta AKA Tuna Mornay is the hands down winner) pasta and salad and "meat with a handle" - what more could a hungry, growing 4-year-old boy want? This pasta salad is so yummy - it's creamy and chewy, crunchy and smooth all at the same time. Luckily there's enough left for my lunch. Offspring #2 got to eat mummy-pre-prepared mixed vegetables from the freezer - she flatly refuses to eat tinned, canned or commercially prepared food, even desserts - and some of the pasta minus the dressing and goodies and then had a great time chowing down on Daddy's chop bone. I think we have a real meat-eater there.
Question Of The Day: What is your hands-down-guaranteed-to-please-the-whole-family dinner?
PS - Not sure what's going on here. I have tried to edit several times to fix the layout of this post but nothing is working so... apologies and hopefully I'll have it worked out tomorrow.
PPS - I think I have it fixed now, fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Posted by MANDI at 8:35 PM 0 comments

What a lovely day. We did nothing much, enjoyed some time together as a family, ate lots of party leftovers and just had a really nice day. We had planned a bacon-and-egg breakfast extravaganza but common sense took hold and suggested that perhaps after all the party food yesterday plain old Weetbix and a piece of toast, if you were still hungry, might be a better idea! Offspring #1 was not overly impressed and suggested many alternatives ranging from "just eggs" to "just bacon" and "maybe pancakes?" but we were not to be moved (also, we just couldn't be bothered doing yet more dishes) so Weetbix it was. Hubby loved his presents - a homemade photo frame with a gorgeous pic of the kids made by Offspring #1 with a little help from Mum, some fishing gear that he had written down and somewhat forcefully demanded LOL and an outdoor weather station (fancy name for a thermometer and rain gauge!) that I saw some time ago when I was stuck for ideas. Offspring #1 also had the obligatory kindy present - another photo but this time with hearts glued all over it and the whole thing laminated (damn, why didn't I think of laminating???). Here's a pic of the weather station against our very fancy back fence. Yes, the dirt really is that red!


Hubby spent lots of time playing with the kids and he and Offspring #1 had a mega PlayStation Challenge (#1's phrasing, not mine LOL). We read the papers - a rare luxury these days, ate leftovers, rang Poppy and Grandpa and, after much lolling about, decided to go for a drive and take some photos (a treat to share another day). Add in several loads of washing and that was our day done. One final pic: my family, still in their pj's, after the Grand Present Opening. Offspring #2 loved ripping all the paper up but couldn't work out how to get it off the presents, luckily big brother was right there to lend a hand.



Question of the day: When was the last time you enjoyed a lazy Sunday?



Saturday, September 2, 2006

Aaahhh.. and now we relax

Posted by MANDI at 9:24 PM 1 comments
Offspring #2 had her birthday party today. She turns one on Wednesday so we just had a little party lunch and she even managed to stay awake for the whole thing. She slept for two and a half hours afterwards though! As usual, I overcatered in the biggest way. We had 14 coming and I made enough to feed at least 3 times that. I know that party leftovers are yummy and a treat for dinner the night of the party but I think we'll be eating these for the next three days. At least I don't have to worry about Father's Day lunch tomorrow and by dinner time I think we'll all be wanting some vegetables. I was so pleased with how the birthday cake turned out, it was very simple but I was proud of it.

Hmmm, now that I'm looking at the photo I can see the bottom of the 1 is a bit crooked but hey, numbers have never been my thing! I could try to console myself by saying that I take rotten photos and it must be the angle but I think we all know the truth here. When Offspring #1 turned one he had the same thing in blue but I sweated buckets over it and in the end made Hubby do the cutting in case I messed it up. Do you think I should have done that again? LOL Regardless, everyone enjoyed it - it's the only thing with no leftovers - and I even let the birthday girl have a piece. I am relaxing my parenting standards - there is no way that Offspring #1 was allowed to have a cake with all that sugar and icing and rubbish in it at his first birthday LOL. Okay, I admit that we cut the icing off today's piece but she liked the cake part. I'm relaxing not becoming comatose!

Here we are just before singing Happy Birthday. Daddy though that combing her hair into a mowhawk would be good for the photos - and since her hair does this naturally he knew how hard I had worked to get it to sit flat. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement but short of dunking the child's head under the tap that hair wasn't moving so I gave up.

Well, dishes are done, house is tidied, and the floor is swept so I'm heading off to bed. The morning comes way too soon sometimes and this has been a busy day.

Question of the day: What's the craziest, hardest or just plain stupidest birthday cake you have tried to make?

Friday, September 1, 2006

By Popular Request

Posted by MANDI at 8:11 PM 2 comments

Okay so one person asked for it, but with my limited audience that merits the 'popular request' tag so... here is the perfect Honey Joy recipe. It has been handed down from generation to generation ( although it's probably on the back of the cornflakes packet) so treat it with care, treasure it, enjoy the end product BUT don't make them too often or they just won't be special anymore!





Honey Joys

3oz butter
3oz sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
3 cups cornflakes
1 Tablespoon coconut

Combine cornflakes and coconut in a large bowl. Put butter, sugar and honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil 8 minutes then add to the conflakes/coconut. Mix thoroughly, but be careful not to crush the cornflakes too much. Spoon into paper cup cake holders. If you are being really fancy you can decorate with coloured sprinkles (or for those in Australia who have, by some bizarre feat managed to never taste honey joys, sprinkle with 100's and 1000's) .
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Big thankyous to those who left comments, you made me feel not quite so alone - except the self-proclaimed Protea King. You know who you are and you also know that you spoke to Hubby far longer than I spoke to your beautiful wife on the phone this evening!
Speaking of which, we had a lovely chat with the former Across-The-Roads tonight. It was so great to chat with them and catch up on their news. Offspring #1 loved talking to their kids who he used to see at least once every single day. He talks about them constantly and it makes me so sad that by making this move we took him away from R and J, especially J who is roughly the same age and adored by Offspring #1. On days that Offspring # 1 is not travelling so well all I hear is "I miss J, when can we see him again" and I'm afraid that telling him we'll see them all at Christmas doesn't do much to ease the pain for him or the guilt for me. It's all very well telling myself he's 4 and he'll get over it but a Mummy's guilt is a powerful force. It really doesn't help that in the list of The Top 5 Things I Miss the very same people are high on the list.
People in this town just aren't neighbourly like they are/were at home. We lived in a quiet street, with slightly-larger-than-average blocks on the outskirts of the metro area and all waved to the neighbours, said hi as they wandered past the front gate and chatted with them over the fence. The Across-The-Roads and the Next-Doors were the same age as us and our kids all fitted in together age-wise. It was great to be able to pass a kid over the fence for half and hour, or yell out that the kettle was boiling and did anyone want coffee, or run across and borrow whatever you needed. These people were such an important part of our everyday life and that interaction is what I miss so much. Our new neighbours are... interesting. On one side are a young couple with a couple of kids, lots of yelling and a number of late night Friday drinks with friends. Unfortunately their entertaining area is right next to our front door and sometimes it sounds like they are about to come through the door. Meanwhile, across the road are a very young couple with even more yelling, a baby, several car wrecks littering the yard and, as of this week a lounge suite, in their carport. They seem to prefer sitting in the carport to using their lounge-room or even the back patio. Of course, I realise this is not helped by living on an average sized suburban block for the first time in several years. But I have to say, as much as I miss neighbourly interaction, I don't think I'll be inviting any of this lot in for a cuppa anytime soon.
Question of the day: Are your friendly with your neighbours? Do you want to be?
 

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