Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aaahhhh, Traditions.

Posted by MANDI at 1:54 PM 0 comments
It really wouldn't have been Christmas without one of our favourite traditions.

Here are the kids preparing a snack for Santa's reindeer.









And here they are with the evidence that Santa and his reindeer landed right outside our front gate!



You've just got to love tradition!

Monday, December 29, 2008

End Of Year Meme

Posted by MANDI at 8:58 PM 0 comments
Here's a little wrap up of 2008. Trish over at Light. Sweet. Crude posted this meme a week or so ago and I thought it was a nice way to bring the year to a close. The links didn't quite work out but if you click on the words in bold it'll take you to the relevant post.
1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Moved house twice in one year
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next this year?
I don't usually make them so it's probably fair to say I didn't keep any. I am considering making a few for 2009 - yell less, cook more, enjoy the kids more, get more organised.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one especially close but a few friends did welcome babies into their lives, most notably Luka George just a few days before my birthday.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Grandma died but we weren't actually very close.
5. What countries did you visit?
Ha, good joke that one!
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Maybe job security? But nothing really.
7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April - we left Red Dirt Central and came back to Perth. And July, when we finally got our house back.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Keeping my sh!t together. Okay, I don't actually feel like I achieved very much at all this year. Pretty much from when we found out we were moving back to Perth I have been treading water and barely, just barely, keeping my head above the water line. I spent most of the year feeling like it was a constant one step forward, two steps backwards kind of dance. To be honest it was exhausting and I'm looking forward to the new year in a 'wipe the slate clean and start again' kind of way.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Setting myself goals that were just about unachievable. Like with my last job - I set myself a massive goal and truly believed I could achieve it working three days a week in just 16 or so weeks. No one else expected as much from me as I did. Those who I reported to told me repeatedly that I was doing/did a great job, turned things around, got it all back on track, etc but I feel like I didn't achieve everything I set out to which means I failed. Bah, Capricorn perfectionism sucks big-time.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope - just the regular coughs and colds. Coping with Offspring #1's asthma just about wore me out though.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The shelving units for the kids bedrooms. Best. Thing. Ever.
12. Where did most of your money go?
My money or 'our' money?
My money - family holiday to Exmouth, stuff for the house, school uniforms for #1, asthma meds for #2, and books that I should have borrowed from the library but couldn't resist buying.
'Our' money - mortgage, car payments, groceries, bills. All the really exciting stuff.
13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Moving back to Perth.
14. What song will always remind you of 2008?
The Proclaimers 'Misery to Happiness'. When we moved back to Perth the kids and I, obviously, spent more time in the car getting from place to place. I have heaps of 80's CD's and played this song for #1 because he used to love it when he was about three. #2 promptly fell in love with it and whenever we hopped into the car she requested the 'uh huh, uh huh song' (sing it to yourself, you'll work out why both kids call it that)
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier all round - We're back in Perth, I'm back in my house and hubby's doing a job he's loving.
b) thinner or fatter?
Hmmm... fatter. I was thinking that I'd just accept it and embrace my 'inner Nigella'. But I can't. So I'm going to cut down on the sugary treats and up the energy output a little and see if I can't burn off just a couple of kilo's. I'm not proclaiming a full-on diet and exercise regime - I think we all know that wouldn't work for me but I'll be making a couple of small tweaks to my lifestyle.
c) richer or poorer?
Probably about the same really.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Stopped cleaning, or tidying or whatever and played with the kids.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Yelled.
18. How did you spend Christmas?
19. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Was already there. I told you about that too.
20. What was your favorite TV program?
Heroes. Or Top Gear (the real one not the Australian rip-off version). And Home and Away - shocking and shameful, I know.
21. What was the best book you read?
You know, I read heaps of books this year but I really don't have one stand out for the year. There were lots that I looked forward to because I liked the author, or the subject material, and they didn't meet my expectations. There were several that I really enjoyed because they were unexpected finds, or sweet, or funny. But there were none that made an amazing impression and left me thinking about them for days like in previous years.
22. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don't really watch that many films. Hubby borrows lots of DVD's from the video shop but I tend to blog or read or do housework rather than watch them (he's watching one now while I'm doing this). I guess my favourite was Alvin and The Chipmunks just because we all sat down for a family movie and #1 giggled himself silly the whole way through, which obviously made us giggle too. Sorry, ti was more the experience than the movie.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
24. What kept you sane?
Blogging. Three very good friends in Red Dirt Central. Hubby
25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Still George. Always George. (Clooney obviously!)
Hubby knows that if George lands in our backyard and begs me to share his life I'm outta here. In fact he's given me his blessing - I'm not sure if I should be grateful or insulted!
26. Who did you miss?
The girls from Red Dirt Central, specially Felicity.
27. Who was the best new person you met?
Sarah- I met her through work and she's young, sweet and so funny. She cracks me up and just makes my day a little brighter whenever I see or talk to her.
Because we moved home I didn't necessarily meet a lot of new people but I did get re-aquainted with lots who I didn't know all that well. I have enjoyed getting to know a group of fellow school mums - with kids a variety of ages - and hope that I'll get to know them better next year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary Hubby

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 PM 3 comments
Dearest Hubby,
Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. Who would have thought that falling in love, pretty much at first sight, just over 12 years ago would have us where we are today? We have built a wonderful life together and I'm even more in love with you today than I was when we got married.
You're a terrific dad to our kids and I love watching you with them. You get such joy from playing with them and remind me to slow down and enjoy them while they're little.
You work so hard to provide for our family and always want the best for us. You make our house so lovely and put up with all my wacky, not-particularly-well-explained plans for it then produce something even better than I could have imagined.
Although it's cliched, it's true to say that you are my very best friend in the world. I tell you everything and never worry that you'll judge me. I love spending time with you, whether we're on the go and doing stuff or just hanging out together. I love that you love me because, not despite, all the things I do that make you laugh or shake your head or groan with sheer bloody frustration.
I even love all the things you do that drive me crazy - that you make up your own lyrics for songs, that you have a crazier sense of humour than me, that you like music I hate, that you find it impossible to just sit still and relax and that you go out of your way to annoy me then make me laugh when I'm trying to be angry
I love that you tell me you love me every single day and I love that you chose to share your life with me. Most of all, sweet Hubby, I love you.
Your ever-loving wife,
Red Dirt Mummy xxx

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Poppy!

Posted by MANDI at 7:17 PM 3 comments
** Edited to add the photos Blogger wouldn't let me put in yesterday!


We celebrated my Dad's birthday today with a picnic lunch, mostly comprised of Christmas leftovers, at one of the local popular picnic spots. The kids enjoyed a swim with their Pop, we all tucked into yet more food and we even had a bit of excitement after lunch. We could see smoke not too far away and were trying to work out where the fire was when water-bomber helicopters flew in to fill their tanks at the lake. They refilled several times while we were there and the kids' eyes just about popped out of their heads.




But, back to the birthday celebrations. I offered to make the birthday cake and turned to one of the Bill Granger cookbooks I received for Christmas. It seemed only fitting that I should use a gift from my parents to make Dad's cake! This was delicious... rich, moist, fabulous and could well become THE cake for birthdays. I even made a teensy mistake and forgot the final 1/4 cup of flour - I had to cook the cake a little longer but it turned out beautifully. Be sure and make the frosting; it's this that makes a good chocolate cake a stand-out.








Easy-mix Chocolate Cake With Real Chocolate Frosting
from Bill Granger's Simply Bill



2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
50g cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
250g very soft butter
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk

Frosting
300g dark chocolate (I used milk chocolate), broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups sour cream

To serve
bright sweets (candies) and candles (I used M&M's)


Preheat the oven to 180C. Sift flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar into a large bowl and stir together. Add the butter, eggs and milk and mix with electric beaters on low speak for 1 - 2 minutes until smooth.
Spoon into two greased and lined 20cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool.
Once the cakes are cool, prepare the frosting. Put the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat very slowly until the chocolate has just melted, being careful not to let the water boil or touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes, before whisking int he sour cream. Use a spatula to spread a third of the frosting over one cake and sandwich with the other. Spread the rest of the frosting over the side and top of the cake. Decorate with sweets and candles if you're celebrating a birthday!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Was Lovely

Posted by MANDI at 8:08 PM 1 comments
Christmas this year was quite small - just us, my parents and my brother's family - but it was absolutely perfect! It was relaxed, comfortable and just lovely. The family lunch was at our place and we'd decided that I'd take care of the meats for lunch, the nibblies and assorted bits and pieces while my sister-in-law looked after the salads and Mum saw to the desserts. It couldn't have worked out better if we'd planned it all year instead or sorting it out just a couple of weeks ago.
We hung out, the kids played, we ate, the kids played, we flaked out on the couch, the kids played and we all had a terrific day. No one stressed out or worried about anything I think it was the nicest Christmas we've had in a long time.
Boxing Day today was just as nice. Hubby and I made a deal that we wouldn't go out at all today so we tidied up the house, did a few chores that couldn't be ignored (you know, washing and stuff!) and played with the kids for most of the day. We watched new DVD's, did jigsaw puzzles, coloured, played card games, ate leftovers and had another lovely day. Gotta love a relaxing, stress-free Christmas at home!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Carols by Candlelight

Posted by MANDI at 9:08 PM 2 comments

The Carols last night were just lovely. Even Hubby admitted that he really enjoyed the night and would go again! They were put on by one of the local churches at the main park in our little neck of the hills. The Carols were broken up by readings from the Bible that told of the story of the birth of Jesus. We aren't even remotely religious but it was really lovely to have the story of Christmas given significance in the middle of the singing.




There were about 400 people at the park and there was a real mix of ages from brand new bubs through to some really elderly local residents. There were family groups, groups of friends and even a few sets of neighbours and the spirit of the evening was so... neighbourly. People smiled indulgently at the little kids, shared their candles so others could be lit and just enjoyed being out on a lovely summer night.





The kids loved it. Offspring #1 was a little disappointed that he didn't know more of the songs but liked reading the songbook with his Dad. Offspring #2 loved snuggling on my lap and singing her own songs - not necessarily the ones that anyone else was singing! But they both loved the candles. I think that the lighting of their candles was probably their favourite part of the night.






Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Birthday To...

Posted by MANDI at 10:18 PM 6 comments
ME!!!!




We had a few friends around for a bbq last night, a kind of combined Christmas catch-up/birthday dinner. Everyone bought a dish to the table and I have a delicious salad to share, thanks to one of the friends, in a later post. They also gave me some wonderful gifts, among them champagne and a new cook book.




This morning I woke up to birthday kisses and cuddles and opening presents with the kids. Then we waved Hubby off to work, did a few chores, played some play-doh, ate left-overs for lunch and we all took a nice three hour nap. Aaaahhh... gotta love being on holidays (okay, technically unemployed!) for your birthday. When Hubby arrived home we headed to my parents' house for dinner and birthday cake then we all went to the local Carols by Candlelight. The Carols were lovely (more on that tomorrow) and we were finally out late enough to do a quick drive around the neighbourhood and look at some of the spectacular Christmas light displays. It was a low-key kind of birthday but it was lovely.




Here's my present from Hubby. I LOVE IT!!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tagged

Posted by MANDI at 10:21 AM 3 comments
I was tagged by Claire over at Cooking is Medicine to join in a meme where I tell you seven weird things about myself. I'm pretty sure I've done this one before but I guess there are people who would call me weird so I'm also pretty sure I can come up with some new stuff to share.
Here are the rules:1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules.2. Share 7 random or weird facts about yourself.3. Tag 7 people at the end and link to their sites.4. Let each person know about the tag in the comment section of their site.
1. When I was younger I hated having red hair and dyed it every colour I could, though mostly brown. Now I'm older it's turning brown and I'm madly dying it red. Weird!
2. I didn't eat meat for a few years in my early twenties. One night I was out for dinner and couldn't find anything I liked on the menu. At that exact minute the chef started cooking a steak and it smelt divine (it was a really tiny restaurant) so I ordered steak. When it arrived at the table it was the biggest steak I'd ever seen and I ate the whole thing. And never looked back. Weird!
3. When Offspring #2 was tiny I sat on the couch one night crying because I was so happy that we had given our children the MOST perfect names. Weird and hormonal!
4. I love chocolate but I don't like dark chocolate. You know, the good quality stuff? Bleuch. Weird!
5. You already know I love to cook - in Red Dirt Central I had the tiniest most horrible kitchen and I made great stuff. Now we're home in the kitchen I love, with terrific shops where I can get great ingredients and I have hardly made anything exciting. Weird!
6. I have the same surname as my first every boyfriend. Weird!
7. I used to have the fastest metabolism and could eat ANYTHING and not gain weight. In fact I had to eat every two hours or so or I felt quite unwell and turned into a big grump. It became a joke that when Hubby and I were shopping we had to be outside somewhere that sold food every two hours. Then I had two kids and got closer to being 40. It slowed down in the biggest way, I'd almost say it stopped completely, about 6 months ago and I'm completely shocked at what I CAN'T eat and drink. Crazily, unaccepting-ly shocked. Weird!
Hmmm... now who to link to? I'll tag this lot but feel free to ignore it if you're not into memes or just have better stuff to blog about!
1. Melody at biglittlesister
2. Trish at light.sweet.crude
3. Iris at Double-Half
4. Belongum at Belongum's Weblog
6. Mountain Mama at Careful What You Wish For

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Arty Afternoon

Posted by MANDI at 5:00 PM 3 comments
Yesterday was the first day of summer holidays and it was a gorgeous warm sunny day. Offspring #2 has been asking to 'do painting' for days, maybe even a couple of weeks, so I set the kids paint easel in the shade on the lawn, poured lots of different coloured paint into plastic bowls, added an assortment of brushes and lots of paper and left them to it.






They had a wonderful time and produced lots of lovely bright pieces of art. I think we'll be doing this again soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Visitors From Afar

Posted by MANDI at 1:43 PM 0 comments
We had a wonderful time with our visitors from Red Dirt Central. They didn't arrive until late on Saturday night so the kids all got to say hello then we put the lot of them to bed! I couldn't have planned it better LOL. Us 'grown-ups' sat around enjoying a beer or two and catching up on all the news. The visitors are off to live in Sydney and are, quite understandably, rather excited about it. Along the way they are stopping off to do some visiting - here and in Adelaide - and a bit of sight-seeing too. Hubby and I are willing to admit to being just the teensiest bit envious of the travelling.
Sunday was spent lazing about while the kids played their hearts out. We did take the visitors for a quick sight-seeing jaunt, mostly because Offspring #1 wanted to show his former school-mates his new school, but figured they'd be spending the better part of a week in the car so we stayed close to home and kept the tour short. The kids had an absolute ball and it was lovely to watch - they jumped on the trampoline, played on the new rope swing that Hubby had hung, dug in the sand-pit, played pirates in the fort and ran and ran and ran. We had some tired wee souls on our hands by the end of the day.
Monday morning was busy - we all headed off to work and school amidst a flurry of good-byes and the visitors loaded up their car and headed east.
It was so nice to catch up with some friends from 'up there' in our own neck of the woods and are looking forward to hearing all about their new home when they finally arrive there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Grrrr

Posted by MANDI at 10:19 AM 2 comments
I tend not to post when things aren't going quite right. My blog is supposed about sharing nice stuff, fun things and yummy recipes not whinges and whines. So... I haven't posted this week. Sorry.
Everything is fine really - kids and hubby are all good - but work is annoying me very much, the new job I was supposed to be getting doesn't look like happening, and because of these things I'm rather more tired and stressed than I should be. Even for this time of the year.
But... we have friends from Red Dirt Central arriving for a couple days over the weekend, I only have three more days at work and Christmas is shaping up to be lots of fun. I'll be back next week and I promise I'll be in a better mood!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another Yummy Breakfast

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 3 comments
The kids requested pancakes for breakfast but each recipe I turned to wanted an ingredient I didn't have, and I wasn't about to do a deli run at 8am on a Sunday morning. I love my kids but we have to draw the line somewhere! In the end I cobbled together about three different versions of pancakes and kind of made it up as I went along ending up with raspberry pancakes nicely set off with some double thick cream. YUM!
Then I got busy with all the house-cleaning, washing and gardening chores that had been happily ignored yesterday. Lucky I had a good breakfast in my belly to keep me going :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Day On The River

Posted by MANDI at 8:03 PM 4 comments
The house is in dire need of some attention and cleaning so when Hubby asked if I wanted to spend the day in the boat on the river I was easily persuaded to join him. Some of you might remember that I'm not too keen on boats but spending time on our (really rather small) boat on the ocean and in the river is completely different and I, along with Hubby and the kids, had a wonderful time.

We were going to head up the river, let the kids have a go at fishing and then have a picnic lunch but once we were on the boat we decided to head down the river and towards the city instead.









We ended up going all the way into the city and it was great fun to see the city up close from the river.








Along the way we wandered up the canals in East Perth and exclaimed over the gorgeous (and very expensive) houses.












Heading back up the river we came across a deserted park that had a fabulous playground and decided that it was the perfect place to stop for lunch. The kids ran off some energy while Hubby and I read the paper before we tucked into sandwiches and fruit.



















Once back on the boat we pulled off to the side of the river and and the kids did a spot of fishing. #1 caught a couple of Blowies, #2 caught nothing but did so very enthusiastically!










By then we were all starting to feel the effects of a sunny day on the river and decided it was time to head back to the car. Poor Offspring #2 couldn't quite make it that far and fell asleep bouncing around in the boat.



We had such a lovely day and I promise that I'll be heading out on the boat again sooner rather than later.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hubby's Home!

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 3 comments
Hubby arrived back in the hills yesterday afternoon and I'm so glad to have him home!
I hadn't told the kids that he'd probably be home earlier than planned (I wasn't quite prepared to believe it myself!) and had just kept to the original story that he was due home on Sunday. Earlier this week he told me he'd probably be home Friday but they got a couple of jobs done even quicker than they'd hoped and got in an extra day early.
I thought I'd give the kids a surprise and told them that their Aunty K had invited us for a coffee. They were pleased to be able to play with their cousins so fell in with the plans happily. When we arrived they commented on the man cleaning the car in Aunty K's driveway but it wasn't until Offspring #1 hopped out of the car and got a closer look at 'that man' that something clicked.
First off he squinted at 'that man', then he edged a little closer, then he muttered "Dad??????". At that point he was joined by Offspring #2 who, upon hearing her older brother's mutterings, stared at 'that man' before shrieking , "my Dadddddeeeeeeee!" and pelting down the driveway to him. This of course spurred her big brother into action and poor Hubby was just about knocked off his feet as two small bodies ran straight at him. After lots of hugs and kisses and dobbing on each other (where would we be without the tattling?) they checked that he'd be coming home with us and then declared that I was a 'very good tricker'.
Aaahhhh, these are the moment I love.
Then #1 and #2 started fighting again and I was forced to bang my head repeatedly against a wall.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Pub Lunch

Posted by MANDI at 2:39 PM 4 comments
I caught up with a friend and her 4-year old son for lunch today. When we were planning the catch-up we were toying with the idea of heading to one of the local pubs for lunch but in the end it was much easier, and cheaper, to have her come here. I didn't want to miss out on the pub lunch so I created my own. Well, I created it with a bit of help from a cookbook or two.


First we had Shortcut Steak Sandwich from my new Donna Hay cookbook. Seriously easy and fabulously tasty.



I followed up with a dessert that had been sitting in Ugly Binder for ages. I think it was just waiting for the right occasion. I adjusted the quantities somewhat to suit the fact that only two of us were eating (and two kids who had a slightly different, and smaller, version)


Chocolate Meringues with Cherries
from Australian Table Magazine, September 2007
Serves 6

3 egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
425g can pitted cherries in syrup
6 scoops low-fat vanilla ice-cream


1. Preheat oven to 140c or 120c fan. Line two baking tray with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until thick and glossy. Whisk in cornflour, vinegar and cocoa. Spoon 12 oval shapes onto prepared trays and bake for 45 minutes until crisp but centre is still soft and fudgy.
3. Meanwhile, drain cherries,m pouring syrup into a saucepan. Bring syrup to boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until reduced slightly. Cool.
4. Place a scoop of slightly softened ice-cream onto six meringues. Top with a few cherries and drizzle with syrup. Top with remaining meringues an serve.


Monday, December 1, 2008

An Early Birthday Present

Posted by MANDI at 9:17 PM 1 comments
My wonderful neighbour came over for coffee on the weekend and delivered my birthday present at the same time. Nothing unusual there except that it's not my birthday for another three weeks and we see each other just about every single day!


She'd bought the new Donna Hay cookbook for me and wanted to give it to me right away so that I wouldn't buy it for myself.




To say that I LOVE my gift would be a massive understatement. I'd actually been looking at this book the day before while I was shopping and put it back on the shelf knowing that Hubby would be most unhappy if I brought home another cookbook - especially as I haven't been cooking a great deal of late. So... I broke out my new cookbook yesterday and made the easiest and, to my mind, yummiest banana bread I've come across.

Simple Banana Bread
No Time To Cook by Donna Hay







Combine 1 2/3 cups plain flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/3 cup caster sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Make a well in the centre, add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 3 mashed bananas and mix to combine. Pour into a greased 20cm x 10cm x 10cm loaf tin. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake in a preheated 160C oven for 60 minutes or until cooked when tested.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oops

Posted by MANDI at 3:46 PM 3 comments
I forgot to blog last night! We had a fairly busy day and were out last night but I really did intend to blog before we went out. Oh well!
While the Daddy of the house is away I try to work in a few treats and extra activities to help break up the days and, hopefully, help the time pass a little easier. We tend to do a bit of baking, play in the garden, make a few visits to friends and other such low key, but interesting to littlies, type activities. Last weekend Offspring #2 requested a train trip be added to the agenda so we popped out to undertake that request yesterday. I don't think the poor deprived child had ever been on a train - apart from huge one's carrying iron ore they don't have trains up north!
We caught the train into "Perth City", as it is known in our house, and had a look at the Christmas decorations in the mall. I thought they were quite disappointing but the kids were thrilled and dutifully posed in front of the Christmas Tree in Forrest Chase. (sadly, I can't get Blogger to post the pics... again. This is driving my nuts!)
I treated them to lunch in town - sadly they chose Hungry Jacks, I can see they need to be educated in this matter - and we hopped back on the train and headed home. They had a wonderful time on the train. Both trips were quiet so we had half a carriage to ourselves and they spent most of the trip with their noses glued to the window exclaiming over everything we could see. #1 was especially excited when we were 'racing' the cars on the road beside the train track and when we crossed the river while #2 was almost overcome by the whole experience! I spent most of the trip reminding them to use 'inside voices' and laughing at their delight.
I can see that train trips are going to be requested rather more regularly now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Playing In The Garden

Posted by MANDI at 7:08 PM 1 comments
When I've not been in the garden for a while I forget just how much I love playing in the soil. I love the soreness that comes from digging and bending, the dirt under your fingernails - despite good quality gardening gloves - and, of course, I love the end result.
I had a beautiful herb garden when we last lived here and, as expected, only the very hardy survived two years of tenants. I still had a little rosemary bush, an enormous clump of lemongrass, an ever-spreading growth of chives and an extraordinarily tall fennel plant but the rest of the herb garden had been taken over by ground cover, weeds and fallen leaves.
Offspring #2 and I took ourselves off to the nursery today and came home with a variety of herbs and an urge to garden. We had to delay the gardening until later this afternoon but, after collecting #1 from school, the kids and I got stuck into some serious work. We raked and weeded, pruned and trimmed, dug and planted, watered and... got watered (#1 was in charge of the hose. What more can I say??).
We've planted dill, lavender, nasturtiums, thyme, Italian parsley, coriander, mint, flat-leaf parsley, sage and sweet basil. I can't wait till I can use them in my cooking

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fruits of The Hills

Posted by MANDI at 5:49 PM 3 comments
Here's my Weeping Mulberry.


It was in a quite dreadful state when we arrived back home. It was hanging down to the ground and I'm guessing it hadn't been pruned, or even trimmed, over the two years we were gone. I didn't hold out much hope for fruit this year but it has surprised me. It is absolutely laden with mulberries and they are just staring to turn pink. We wandered down over the weekend and plucked a few early bloomers introducing the kids to the joys of growing fruit in your backyard.


In the past we've netted the tree - the first year we moved in a family of finches made their home on the inside of the tree and happily ate their way through just about every single piece of fruit - but I haven't taken any such measures this year. I'm hoping that the birds will leave us with enough to enjoy mulberries with our ice-cream, apple and mulberry pie and, if we're extra lucky enough for a good batch of mulberry jam. Yum.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jinxed!

Posted by MANDI at 8:54 PM 4 comments
Remember just a few days ago when I told you that we thought Offspring #2's new asthma meds were doing the trick?
As I feared I seem to have jinxed the poor kid and she's had problems since Sunday night. Of course the Daddy of the house left early Sunday morning so I got to deal with one of the worst attacks so far all on my own. Yay for me... NOT!
Her coughing seems to have settled down today so I'm heading off to bed early to try and catch up on some of the sleep I've lost over the past few nights. To say that I'm plain worn out would be something of an understatement.

Monday, November 24, 2008

While Hubby's Away...

Posted by MANDI at 9:07 PM 7 comments
I'll do some scrapping!

When my nephew saw the door hangers I'd made for my kids he very sweetly asked if I would make one for him. I promptly agreed, and asked if he thought his big sister would like one too, and got busy making them. But... life has a way of intruding and one thing after another got in the way of finishing them. I felt guity, especially when we visited them at the end of October for my niece's birthday and they still weren't done.
Last night I finally finished them and I think they've turned out quite nicely. When asked for colour choices J, aged 5, and C, just turned 7, had requested blue and pink respectively - I hope they'll like them. Now I just have to take them to the post office!










Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wobb-a-leeee Teeth Update

Posted by MANDI at 9:54 AM 2 comments
Offspring #1 lost his first tooth yesterday with decidedly less drama than we had anticipated. He was playing Playstation and it "just fell out"! He dashed into the house to tell me the news and has had the cutest lisp since.
The Tooth Fairy visited last night and exchanged a $2 coin for the tooth so there was further excitement this morning. Apparently a number of kids in his class have received $5 from the Tooth Fairy but she obviously felt that was a bit rich for this household.
Now we're waiting for the next loose tooth to fall out. He's got two more wobbly ones at the moment but I'm hoping they don't all fall out at once - the poor kids won't be able to speak or eat!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cookie Chaos

Posted by MANDI at 8:24 PM 4 comments
I finally managed to do some baking this afternoon and, to further prove that I don't do anything by halves, instead of baking just one batch I cooked three different types of cookie. Or biscuit, if you prefer.


Hubby is heading away for work tomorrow. He'll be gone at least a couple of weeks and is heading out with four or five other guys so I thought I'd bake up a bunch of cookies and send half away with him. They go way out bush and I figured a home-made cookie or two with their morning 'smoko' or evening cuppa might be a welcome treat.


Two of the batches I baked are old favourites - Jam Drops (aka Thumbprint Cookies and Bloody Belly Buttons) and Anzac Biscuits - but I also tried out a new one. I tweaked the recipe a little to fit what was in the pantry and it turned out okay. The kids like them and that's the main thing. I have no idea where this recipe came from. It's pasted into an old exercise book that was one of my first recipe collection points, way before the Ugly Binders. The book is so old it has a recipe from a work-mate at my first 'proper' job when I was about 18 (in fact I still make that recipe at least a couple of times a year!). So, no credit for this one. Sorry.


Chocolate Crunch Cookies
Makes about 34


50g softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup cocoa pops (I used Rice Bubbles and I'd use less, maybe closer to 2/3 cup)


Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
Use an electric mixer to beat butter, caster sugar and brown sugar together until well combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Use a wooden spoon to stir through flour, cocoa powder and cocoa pops. the dough will be thick and sticky. (I found it needed a bit of knead by hand to get it to all come together).
Use clean wet hands to roll walnut size balls (I used a teaspoon measure to scoop the dough out). Place 5 cm apart onto prepared trays and bake each tray for 10-12 minutes until crisp and starting to colour around the edges. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Controlled?

Posted by MANDI at 10:12 PM 4 comments
I feel like I might jinx it if I talk about it but...
Offspring #2 has been troubled by asthma for most of this year. Hubby and I took the first few attacks to be croup and did all the croup-y type remedies which helped somewhat but as her attacks grew more severe and more frequent we sought medical advice. We weren't convinced of the diagnosis of asthma, partly because I didn't want my baby to have to suffer so I was just sticking my head in the sand, and partly because the doctors we consulted all seemed far to eager to diagnose asthma without seeing her have an attack or doing any follow up. Before you all rise up in outrage, let me preface by saying that I know there are many many doctors in country areas who are skilled, professional and knowledgeable practitioners. It just seems there weren't too many in Red Dirt Central.
It wasn't until we moved back to The Hills that we felt she was being given some sort of treatment, though we still weren't terribly happy about the quick diagnosis. We followed the doctor's instructions to a tee with preventative and relief medications and followed a wait-and-see pattern for several more months. Meanwhile #2's daycare held an Asthma workshop for staff and parents so I went along to that and was finally convinced that, yes, she had asthma.
The preventative worked for a while but then her attacks became worse - more frequent and more severe. It came to a head when she had quite severe midnight attacks four nights in a row. Luck was on our side and the doctor available to see her is one of the good guys. He listened when we said we were nearly at breaking point, he was lovely to #2 and he printed out reams of information for us while prescribing her a different kind of preventative med. And the big one for us? For the first time since this saga began a doctor told us he wanted to see her ten days later to assess the medication and make changes if necessary.
We had her follow up appointment this morning and Dr G is happy. The new med appears to be working - she's not coughing, we can't hear every breath she takes and most importantly she hasn't had an asthma attack for 9 days. Also, he wants her to stay on the new med for the next couple of months and he'd like to see us again mid-Jan.
Yay for meds that seem to be working. Yay for a doctor who wants to do follow-up. And yay for no middle-of-the-night asthma attacks.
Oh, and later - when I'm moaning about the price of her meds - remind me about this post, okay?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Junk Mail

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 3 comments
I know that lots of people hate junk mail but I've always loved it. Many years ago, when Hubby and I were newly in love, we lived in a tiny town in the middle of the Red Dirt. We had no big shops, no variety-type stores and the very few specialist stores were limited to hardware, a bicycle store and a jeweller. One of the things I missed most while living there was junk mail. We didn't get any because we had nowhere to buy the stuff anyway. As far as I recall we didn't even get the junk mail for the one grocery store/supermarket we had - I guess the store managers figured we had to drive at least 4 hours to shop elsewhere so they had a fairly captive market and had no need to advertise. Whenever we visited our families in Perth I would devour the junk mail and my mum even took to sending me care packages of some of the bigger catalogues that made their way into her letterbox.
During our recent stint in Red Dirt Central the junk mail situation wasn't quite as dire - we got the weekly specials from the Woolies and Coles as well as various bits from the two supermarkets and various specialty stores. Really, the shopping in Red Dirt Central is quite good so we didn't have too much to complain about but I'd still marvel at the volume of junk mail that arrived in Mum's mailbox compared to what we received. But... look what arrived in my mail box in just one afternoon last week.



Love it! I get to check out all the specials, plan some purchases and sort out some more Christmas present then the kids get to go crazy with the scissors and glue and whatever's left ends up in the recycling bin. Another good reason to enjoy being home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Darn

Posted by MANDI at 9:27 PM 0 comments
I have a bunch of cute photos to share and Blogger won't let me upload any of them.

And since I can't think of anything else to blog about tonight... it's a short and sweet one!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Helping Daddy

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 PM 1 comments
While I was 'recovering' yesterday Offspring #2 played Daddy's Shadow. You know, where she follows him around all day trying to help, chattering away in mostly indecipherable (to Daddy at least) three-year-old-ese and generally gets in his way. All in the most sweet, loving and gorgeous way so he can't get too annoyed with her. She helped rake sand, lay pavers, sweep the sand into the gaps, visited Bunnings, filled up the trailer with branches and garden rubbish and tagged along on a tip run (and had Daddy buy her an ice-cream on the way home). Truth be told, he loved having his little shadow right there although he did discover just how quickly she can get into mischief - especially mischief that looks like great fun.


He was making mud-bricks for a retaining wall he's building and had the mix in the wheelbarrow all ready to go. While cleaning the cement mixer he turned around to find #2, quite literally, up to her elbows in trouble.


Being the wonderful parents we are... we had to grab the camera before we grabbed the hose.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

You Know How...

Posted by MANDI at 8:23 PM 1 comments
my phone line was back on?
Well then it went off again. No idea why, it was just gone. Then when I checked it, on the off-chance, earlier this evening it was working again. No idea why, it's just back. So I'll make the most of it while I can.
We had my 20 year high school reunion last night and it was GREAT! I'd helped organise it and have to say it was quite stressful trying to get in touch with everyone, sort money, find a venue, decide on food and get it to all come together on the night. I think I got too caught up in trying to make sure everyone would be happy and stressed needlessly. We had 60 or so people turn up, the venue was great, the food was good, and everyone appeared to have fun.
We had enough money left to put some on the bar so everyone had a drink paid for and then with the bit that was left after that we passed around the hat (okay, the wine bucket) and collected for charity. We decided we'd give it to breast cancer research as the wife of one of the guys from school is currently fighting her second round. She's the same age as us (still under 40) has little kids like most of us do and it all struck a little too close to home. We ended up raising nearly $300 just with people handing over loose change and bits and pieces so we're really pleased.
It was fantastic to catch up with old friends, lovely to chat with people I didn't have much in common with at school and find new common-ground, and fun to check out the boys I'd had mad crushes on. And if the hangover I'm dealing with today is anything to go by, I had a really great night!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Call Me?

Posted by MANDI at 8:04 PM 2 comments
Yes, I'm back online at last! It's so nice to hear the phone ringing, though I'm sure it won't be too long before it's driving me crazy again. Isn't it amazing how frustrating life is without a telephone or easy access to the internet?
I was impressed by the Telstra man - I'd been told that a technician would call between 8am and 12noon and he arrived at 8.02am precisely. Now that doesn't happen too often.
Because of the impending arrival of the aforementioned technician I'd made no plans for today and it was the first day I've been home ALL day for about two and a half weeks. It was lovely! Offspring #2 and I cleaned the house from top to bottom and worked our way through six loads of washing. I'm exhausted but thrilled with my sparkling clean house. I'm not quite so thrilled by the overflowing baskets of ironing waiting to be done...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Down

Posted by MANDI at 10:05 AM 7 comments
The phone line that was supposed to be fixed yesterday still isn't. Apparently it's not just us - hundreds of homes in the area are supposed to have been affected - but that isn't helping much.

I'm helping organise my school reunion. It's this weekend. Most of the work is done but, geez a phone would come in handy right about now.

Also, my grandma passed away. She was 98 and had a stroke the week before so her death was not unexpected and was even something of a relief but again, a phone would sure come in handy so I can keep up with the funeral arrangement and general family stuff at this time.

We're at six days without a phone (or, obviously, a computer) now and it's VERY ANNOYING! It doesn't help that we don't get especially good mobile reception at home so half the time we can't make/don't get calls and when we can they drop out half way through a conversation anyway! Did I mention that it's VERY ANNOYING!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Down At The First Hurdle

Posted by MANDI at 11:07 AM 6 comments
Well so much for a post each day in November. On Thursday night I was playing on the computer and got bumped off the internet. Being on dial-up for now (yes, STILL!) I figured someone was trying to call and had dropped my connection out. Turns out, our entire phone line dropped out and we currently have no phone at home and, as it's all connected, no internet either. I'm having serious withdrawls and am around at Mum's place checking emails, checking facebook and doing a quick post.
Telsta have said it might take until Tuesday to fix, so I'll be back as soon as I'm able to connect to the internet again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

That's What I Forgot!

Posted by MANDI at 9:19 PM 6 comments
I forgot to tell you that I got a new car...

Hubby's car finally died and this surprised absolutely no-one except Hubby. That meant we were down to one car and, for us, that was just not do-able. So, Hubby got his beloved Landy back and we went searching for a car that was lighter on fuel, had enough get-up-and-go to get up The Hill, and also met my most important requirement - was pretty.


We started looking at small-ish 4wheel-drives (um...SUV's? for the non-Aussies) but couldn't find anything I/we loved. Then we looked at little cars - Hubby was kind of keen, I was decidedly less so. Then we looked at bigger cars with a mind to getting a gas conversion. And then we found something completely different. As you do.


So here's my new car.







It's a Lancer wagon, a couple of years old and red. Because everyone knows red cars go faster.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tried This?

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 3 comments
Regular readers will know that I'm not a big fan of 'packet food'. That is, food that comes from a packet mix with fresh ingredients added in. I'm truly not being a food snob about it (like I have anything to be snobby about anyway!) I just don't enjoy the packet-y taste that permeates the meal.



That said, there are of course a few exceptions. You'll be horrified to learn that my birthday cakes are ALWAYS packet cakes. Green's Butter Cake to be precise. The taste seriously good, never fail - which is important because I'm usually baking them at midnight the night before and don't have time to bake another cake - and they hold together well under mountains of icing.


I found another exception to the rule quite recently.




Preparing dinner in the slow cooker isn't very difficult but this makes it even easier. What tops that? It tastes fabulous, especially with lashings of sweet potato mash, and the kids demolish it quicker than you can threaten them with no dessert!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bubbles?

Posted by MANDI at 7:01 PM 3 comments
Who said Tupperware parties were boring?








In my house they're just another... reason to drink Bubbly! Don't you wish you were coming round to my place tonight?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Just Beautiful

Posted by MANDI at 7:52 PM 4 comments
Check out this gorgeous rose from one of the rose bushes just outside my kitchen.




I'm really loving the spring flowers in our garden, especially after the complete lack of floral anything in the barren waste-land we called the yard up in Red Dirt Central

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One Fish, Two Fish

Posted by MANDI at 9:12 PM 5 comments
During the school holidays Hubby cleaned out the fish pond. He removed truckloads (well, it seemed like it!) of plant life, scrubbed the pond, filled it with water, added the necessary nutrients and then, as one is supposed to, let the whole thing settle. A few days later he sent the kids and I off to one of the local pet shops to choose the so-called 'experiment' fish. They were the test fish to check that we'd got the water right. We also figured that having two fish die would be slightly less traumatic for the kids than finding a pond full of floating fish!
Pleasingly we got the water just right and our two fish are thriving. We think three frogs have joined the fun (we've seen two at a time but not necessarily the same two each time) and we've just been gifted some tadpoles from the neighbours pond. We know that goldfish eat frog's eggs and tadpoles but we've been led to believe that these taddies are big enough to survive.
We let the kids name the fish - one each in all efforts of fairness. Following in the footsteps of his Dad, and being the Carlton* tragic he is, Offspring #1 was torn between naming his fish Juddy** or Fev***. I couldn't help teasing him and suggested that Juddy had only played one season for Carlton so we couldn't really embrace him just yet whereas Fev was a true Carlton player. He took the bait and named his fish Fev. Offspring #2 has a favourite colour that she points out to all and sundry, wears whenever possible and generally chooses that pencil when she's colouring. She thought long and hard about what to name her fish and then pronounced that HE would be known as... PINK. So we have Fev the Fish and Pink, two lovely gold comets. Now I'm not sure we can get more fish for the pond. Fev will drink too much and make off with their girlfriends and Pink will probably just get beaten up. Oh dear!
*Carlton is a football team in the national Australian Rules league. Hubby is a big fan and has indoctrinated the rest of the household. The kids know all of the team song. I'm so proud.
**Juddy is Chris Judd. A hugely talented player and all-round nice guy who left the WA team (who we don't go for even though we live here) and joined Carlton
***Fev is Brendon Fevola. A hugely talented player and not-especially nice guy who manages to find trouble in the most unlikely places as well as all the likely ones.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's November

Posted by MANDI at 9:24 PM 5 comments
I promised I'd be back in November and... here I am.
Thank you so much for the lovely words, encouragement and kind thoughts you left in the comments. Lordy, I should quit blogging more often. It does wonderful things for the ego and scores me the most comments ever LOL.
I remember last November was National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers were challenged to blog every day day of the month. I haven't seen it so far this year but decided that I'm going to do it anyway. I'm not promising great length or quality in posts but I'm going to aim for a blog post every day as a way of getting my blogging mojo back. The past few weeks have been slightly mental and it doesn't look like slowing down anytime soon so at least I'll have lots to blog about!
See you tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Attack Of The Blahs

Posted by MANDI at 8:02 PM 13 comments
As you might be able to tell from the sporadic posts, I'm having trouble with the blogging side of things. I've got to admit, it's not a new problem. I've been feeling this way pretty much since we headed back to Perth. Blogging filled a pretty big void in my life while we were 'up North' - it let family and friends who were far away in on what was happening in our world, I got to indulge in my hobbies and share the results with friends and strangers and, in some cases, those strangers left lots of lovely comments and we started a conversaton and became friends too.
For the most part, while we were in Red Dirt Central I was at home with at least one very small child. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to playgroup, joined in at story-time at the library, joined the scrapbooking group, took up lots of coffee and play-date invitations and really enjoyed life up there. I also really enjoyed blogging about it all - maybe because it was all so new and different to my 'normal' life.
Since we've been back I feel a bit like a fraud. This is my normal, ordinary life. It's nothing special to me and maybe that's where I'm having trouble finding something interesting to write about. Maybe it really is interesting and I just take if for granted. When I'm feeling generous I remind myself that we have moved house twice in the last few months. After working from home when we first moved - with a few flying trips back up to the Dirt - I changed jobs and Hubby changed jobs when we moved and then changed jobs again. The kids have had to start at a new school and day-care each, make new friends and find new sports/activities to join in. That's a lot of stuff to do in a fairly short amount of time. I realise that it's only natural to be kind of bummed when it all comes to an end and there's nothing more that 'has to be done'. It's all a bit of an anti-climax and has left me at a loose end while waiting for something to happen.
Maybe I need to reassess things? I really do love my blog and I'd be sad to give up on it completely but I don't feel like I'm doing it justice at the moment. I know that I love reading blogs that are updated regularly and I get a bit fed up with the one's that aren't (not pointing any fingers, truly, just saying!). I love posting the recipes we try, though they don't seem to attract many comments, and I don't post for comments but gee they're nice. I like posting stuff about the kids - funny things they say and do, their achievements (and otherwise!) - and while I realise that this is a Mummy blog I don't want it to be all Mummy-ness.
To be honest, blogging feels like a chore at the moment and I hate that. I'm thinking that I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and then come back fresh and with a new lease on life. Or at least blogging. So for now, I'm going to say... see you in November.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yay For Offspring #1

Posted by MANDI at 4:18 PM 6 comments
Swimming lessons were a huge success through the holidays. All up he attended 9 lessons over the two week holiday period (one day was a public holiday so no swim class that day) and his confidence grew and grew, his swimming ability/skills improved and he just had a wonderful time. It was gorgeous to see him enjoying the water and rushing home to tell his Dad all about how great he'd done in the pool that day.


At the conclusion of the lessons the kids were presented with their certificates. #1 passed his level and is all set to be enrolled in the next stage next time round. He's so chuffed, and it's so sweet to see.



Friday, October 10, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

Posted by MANDI at 9:15 PM 7 comments
Okay, I don't actually know what that means but since we had a birthday party for the dog this afternoon it seemed to fit!


We made a pretty cake (I feel rather guilty that the dog's cake turned out better than my recent efforts on #2's cake, though this one does prove - once again- that cake decorating is not one of my talents!)




We had friends around to sing Happy Birthday and blow out the candles. And help eat the cake.

They brought gifts for the birthday boy.


And he enjoyed the special birthday treat from his family.



The kids played and blew bubbles.




And chased bubbles





And we all had a lovely time. The End.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ups And Downs

Posted by MANDI at 9:05 PM 7 comments
I tried a couple of new recipes today but neither ended up being worth sharing. One was a pan cookie - not something I'd tried before - and I was really looking forward to it but... it was in the oven a minute or so too long and dried right out, and just didn't end up being that nice. For dinner I tried a Chicken and Leek Pasta Bake from an issue of Donna Hay Magazine and it was nice enough but it seemed like it was missing something. The kids scoffed it down so it can't have been too bad, it just didn't turn out as great as I'd anticipated.


In other news, Offspring #1 has been attending vacation swimming lessons this week and... he LOVES it. Long time readers may recall that swimming lessons have never been on his list of 'favourite things to do' so we are thrilled that he's enjoying his lessons and doing so well. He's working very hard on straight arms and turning his head to breathe. At the moment he has to keep stopping so can get a breathe, then he pops his head back in the water and powers off, crookedly, but powering nonetheless.


Added to that... #1 has his first wobbly tooth. He went from being overjoyed to terrified in the space of about 4 seconds. He was convinced that he was in overwhelming pain and was unable to move his mouth or speak. When we finally got it through his head that it didn't hurt, he could talk and that all was well with the world he 'fessed up that he thought we were going to pull his tooth out RIGHT NOW! We calmed him down from that one and sent him to bed amid much head shaking and muttering. Geez, drama queen much?


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

These Are Great

Posted by MANDI at 9:02 PM 0 comments
Have you come across Apples for Jam? It's a new-ish cookbook by Tessa Kiros and it's just gorgeous. It's huge, so I've found heaps of recipes I want to try and the pics are lovely - simple, bright and beautiful in a natural kind of way rather than a "we spent 15 hours getting this cake to look right" way (even if they did, it doesn't look like it!). I've borrowed it from the library but you can be sure this one's going on the Christmas wish list (hint hint, Mum).


I had some dried cranberries that needed to be used so flicked through and came across this recipe. This is the best cookie I've made in a long while - buttery, shortbready, so yummy and with chocolate. What more could you want?


Chocolate and Cranberry Biscuits
Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros


75g (2 3/4 oz) butter, softened
50g (1 3/4 oz) soft brown sugar
50g (1 3/4 oz) caster sugar
1 egg
a few drops of vanilla extract
160g (5 3/4oz) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
110g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g (1 3/4oz) dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 190C/375F and line two baking trays with baking paper. Mash up the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until well mixed then whisk with electric beaters until smooth (I tried to go straight to the beaters and it didn't work, do as suggested and mash away with the spoon first). Mix int he egg and vanilla. Sift in the flour and baking powder and dd a small pinch of salt, Bat with the wooden spoon to make a soft sandy mixture. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries.

Lightly moisten your hands (do this, it makes it MUCH less sticky to handle) and roughly roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Arrange them on the trays, leaving a fair space between for flattening and spreading (mine didn't spread much). Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and darkening around the edges. Remove from the oven but leave them on the tray to cool and firm up. These will keep in a biscuit tin for a couple of days.





Monday, September 29, 2008

What's A Long Weekend...

Posted by MANDI at 8:53 PM 4 comments
without some jobs around the house?


Here's Hubby's latest piece of handy-man-ness




I had a big empty space of wall and needed to fill it up. More pictures? Nah. Some shelves? Now that's a good plan but what to put on them? I know! Cookbooks.



Perfect.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More De-Cluttering

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 4 comments
We've been back in our real house a couple of months and everything has been unpacked and had homes found. Now we get down to the nitty-gritty of re-arranging furniture and 'stuff', finding better homes for bits and pieces that aren't quite in the right spot and making a few little improvements here and there. We have some fairly grand plans but they're a little way off yet so for now it's just the little stuff.


The lights in the kitchen used to look like this.




Now we have these pretty ones.






The kids bathroom got a fab new shower curtain. It's lots more fun to wash with the fish than it was with a plain white curtain from the $2 Shop!




And the kids bedrooms got lovely big cube bookcases, with some bright coloured baskets and buckets, for their books, toys and games.







Now everything has a place.





And there's a place for everything.





 

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