Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I've Found A New Home

Posted by MANDI at 8:12 PM 0 comments
Yep, I'm giving Wordpress a try. Not althogether thrilled to pieces by that at the moment but give me time and I'm sure I'll warm to it. Here's where you can find me now.

Hope I see you over there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Still Broken

Posted by MANDI at 2:12 PM 5 comments
Well, the blog is still broken and I can't work out how to fix it. It won't do what I want, I can't load any photos and I seem to have lost half the buttons I need when writing a post.

I'll keep trying for a bit longer but... I'm a little bit afraid this might be the end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oops!

Posted by MANDI at 9:43 PM 6 comments
I just broke my blog. I'm doing my best to get it sorted out but, with my somewhat limited technical knowledge, it might take a while. Please bear with me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chuffed

Posted by MANDI at 8:08 PM 1 comments
I'm really feeling rather chuffed with myself right at the moment. First day back at school after two and a half weeks of sleep-ins, pyjama days and a complete and utter lack of rushing and I managed to get everyone ready, packed and out of the door on time. I worked today and for dinner we had a delicious Beef and Red Wine Stew that I'd popped into the freezer a couple of weeks ago. I'm working again tomorrow and dinner for then is taken care of too - Spag bol that I made over the weekend and froze for Wednesday night. School clothes have been laid out ready for the morning and I've bought fresh rolls for tomorrow's lunches. My organisational skills appear to know no bounds.

Don't worry, it's only the first week of term. I'm pretty sure we'll be hitting the tinned baked beans and toast for dinner, rummaging through the ironing basket and resorting to lunch orders at some point through the term.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big Dreams For A Little Girl

Posted by MANDI at 5:51 PM 3 comments
Offspring #2 has decided that she will be a doctor when she grows up. She's also decided that she will have a pink 'Herbie car' ie a VW Beetle, and a pink purse. These aren't new plans, she's been talking about them for at least the last four months.

Today she added to them. Her latest plan is that she'll live next door to me so we can have "lots of cups of teas together" and "we can talk to each other over the fence". Sometimes I'll even be allowed to go to her house for dinner, though I might have to cook it because she'll be very busy working, "being a doctor and fixing all the people who are hurt".

Those are big dreams for a tiny little four year old and of course she's going to change her mind a million time between now and actually being a 'grown up' but I'm loving these conversations.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cheesecake With A Twist

Posted by MANDI at 3:13 PM 0 comments
I'll freely admit that while this recipe had me excited it also had me a little perplexed. How on earth do you make a cheesecake without gelatine, or some sort of setting agent? Without a crust? And as for serving it warm? Well, that's just plain weird. But... this is easily one of the best desserts I've made. I took it to our Christmas in July dinner and it was absolutely delicious, perfect for a wet, cold winter's night and totally simple to put together.


Sticky Date Cheesecake
from The Australian Women's Weekly Cheesecakes Pavlovas and Trifles



This cheesecake can be served warm or at room temperature
1 cup (170g) dried dates, pitted, chopped
3/4 cup (180ml) water
3 x 250g packets cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2/3 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 cup (40g) flaked almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar
2/3 cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar, extra
1/2 cup (125ml) cream
100g butter, chopped


Grease a 23cm springform tin; line base and side with baking paper
Combine dated and water in medium saucepan; simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Strain dates over medium saucepan; reserve liquid, cool dates.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to moderately slow (160C). Beat cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth; add egg, sugar and spices; beat until combined, fold in dates.
Place tin on oven tray, pour cheesecake mixture into tin. Sprinkle with almonds and cinnamon sugar. Bake in moderately slow oven about 1 hour, or until firm. Cool in oven with door ajar.
Stir remaining ingredients to reserved date liquid in pan, stir over heat until butter is melted; simmer, uncovered , 2 minutes.
Serve cheesecake with warm sauce.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fun In The Kitchen

Posted by MANDI at 7:54 PM 4 comments
Offspring #2 had a friend to play today and, as it's school holidays I thought we'd do something a bit special and fun. I'd promised her that when this particular friend came to play we could do some cooking and when I came across these gorgeous little cupcakes I knew we had to make them.

These were so easy but looked fantastic. I cheated and used a cake mix for the cupcake part - chocolate, of course. Then it was a simple matter of topping them with some green icing, rolling the edge in a little tinted coconut, popping in a lollypop 'flower' and using a halved spearmint leaf lolly as the leaves.


The girls had so much fun decorating them and were, justifiably, well pleased with their efforts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

No Time To Blog

Posted by MANDI at 7:56 PM 2 comments
I have the mums here for knitting - they're busy with difficult things like jumpers (sweaters for you lot in the US) while I'm onto yet another scarf. At least this one is with fluffy pretty wool so it'll look a little bit different from the other 932 scarves I've made.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Mid-Winter Christmas Feast

Posted by MANDI at 6:18 PM 1 comments
As my readers from other lands are no doubt aware, here in the land Down-under Christmas falls smack in the middle of summer. Most of us have fond (or not!) memories of sweltering through a stinking hot Christmas made even hotter by the ancestors need for a 'proper', ie cooked, Christmas dinner. Imagine, if you will, all the stresses of hosting Christmas for the family while dealing with our summer days of 35-40C temps and cooking the full roast dinner, with steamed pudding to finish. Urrggghhh. I'm very happy with the current trend of salads, cold roasted meats and fresh seafood followed up by dreamy cool desserts like my favourite pavlova.
But... such a dinner has it's place and part of the fun of our Christmas in July dinner was to have all the warm dishes we simply don't want in the middle of summer. And my word, did we ever meet that requirement!

My soup course, though a little spicier than I'd anticipated, was well received and just perfect for a wet, rainy winter's night. Some natural yoghurt took the edge off the spice and Turkish Bread Croutons were something different to top the soup. I will definitely be making this one again.

I doubled the recipe for our dinner party but have provided the original version here. The photo is from the leftovers that Hubby and I enjoyed for lunch today.


Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea Soup
from taste.com.au - The Very Useful Winter Book


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
600g orange sweet potato, peeled, diced
500g carrots, peeled, sliced
6 cups reduced-salt chicken stock (I added some extra water)
300g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
1/2 small lemon, juiced
Turkish bread croutons, to serve

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sweet potato and carrot. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes. Add stock. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
2. Add chickpeas and simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.
3. Blend soup, in batches, until smooth. Return to saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Heat, stirring, until hot (do not boil). Ladle into bowls. Top with croutons. Sprinkle with pepper.

Turkish Bread Croutons
Halve a Turkish loaf lenghtways and chop into 2cm cubes. Spray lightly with olive oil spray. Place on a tray and bake at 200C for 10 minutes or until golden.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Posted by MANDI at 4:40 PM 3 comments
No, I haven't gone completely loopy. I'm off to a Christmas In July dinner with a few of the neighbours tonight. There are five households involved and we 'made' the couple with the biggest house play host. Sounds mean but theirs is they only place we'll all fit comfortably into (and they volunteered for that very reason!). We've divied up the menu to come up with five courses and are taking/making a couple of things each - I've made two new recipes which is a bit risky so I'm hoping they'll be well received. The first is a Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea soup that, from this afternoon's taste test, is delicious but rather spicy. The second is a Sticky Date Cheesecake. That's the one I'm not sure about. It can be served warm or at room temperature and has a warm caramel-y sauce to pour over it. Fingers crossed it's going to come out of the tin okay otherwise everyone will be getting a scoop of gloop in their dessert bowls!
We've got enough food to feed a small nation, Christmas Crackers, Secret Santa gifts, drinks on ice and kids spending the night with their grandparents. Now I have to get myself showered and prettied up and then it's across the road and down a bit for FUN FUN FUN.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And The Winner Is....

Posted by MANDI at 3:46 PM 1 comments





Congratulations Donna! I'll be in touch to organise your voucher. Can't wait to see what you get with it.

Many thanks to Buyster for providing the voucher for their online store for this giveaway. And many thanks to all of you for leaving such gorgeous comments - you guys rock!



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Quickly Running In... To Whinge

Posted by MANDI at 8:46 PM 3 comments
I've been working the past couple of days while the school-teaching Hubby has been enjoying the school hol's with the kids. Why is it that when he comes home from work it's to a nice tidy house, a nice meal for dinner and the laundry is generally pretty up-to-date but when he's home and I'm working I come home to house that looks like it threw up on itself. Okay, that's possibly just a bit of a bitchy over-reaction but dammit, the house was messier when I got home that it was when I left.
Is anyone else having trouble with facebook? I haven't been able to get in all day and I may well be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
Offspring #2 has a cold and has ever so kindly shared it, in varying degrees, with the rest of us. I'm doing my best to fight it but when you're allergic to pretty much everything that contains good doses of vitamin C it does make it a little difficult. I've hit my fallback position- hot tea and buttered toast. On the plus side she's had a cold for three days and hasn't had an asthma attack yet - this is actually HUGE news - it's the first time ever that she's deviated from the regular pattern of 'onset of cold followed two hours later by asthma attack followed by several days of misery and nights of wheezing, coughing, puking and no sleep'. I don't want to jinx things by saying that this is a massive development and we're a teeny little bit excited so I just won't tell you that.

Anyway, whining aside... don't forget to enter my giveaway if you haven't already. It closes at 12noon (my time) Thursday so hop to it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Lovely Day For A Picnic

Posted by MANDI at 8:32 PM 4 comments
We caught up with some friends today for a picnic up at Mundaring Weir. The weir provides water to pretty much all of Perth and, because of the lack of rain in these parts, is looking very low.

Miss Charlotte, who attended my morning tea a few weeks back, was there in all her sleepy, cuddly, 7 or so week old glory. She is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous and my friend C and I fought over cuddles throughout the day.


We had a yummy bbq picnic lunch and the kids played and kicked the footy, explored and even found kangaroos. Sorry, we didn't get photos of them but I'll head back later this week and get some special kangaroo pics just for those of you who I know will be eager to see them. After lunch we took a walk across the weir wall.


And then climbed steps, steps and more steps on the way back.


And we made sure we crossed the road at the safest spot!

And just to prove that sometimes I do manage to be on the other side of the camera... here's me, looking very glamorous (NOT!) on the drive home.

It was a lovely, if freezing cold, day (16C today, but blue skies and sunny for the most part) and a terrific way to start the school holidays.

PS: Don't forget the giveaway. It's open till Thursday.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

No Time To Read

Posted by MANDI at 8:17 PM 3 comments
I have never really understood when people say they haven't time to read. For me, reading is like breathing. A necessary part of life. Without something to read I feel adrift and deprived. I read every single day - thrillers, chick-lit, mysteries, romances, biographies, magazines and newspapers. I re-read old favourites. And re-read and re-read and re-read - some are on my regular annual reading list, some I read every couple of years. The staff at the local library know me by name, the lady who looks after the book department at Big W knows my face and is usually keen to recommend something new or suggest something that she thinks I'll like. Yes, she has an idea of what I like. I'm not sure if that says something about how good she is at her job or how often I'm there, or maybe a little bit of both.
I never really understood it until I hit June. You might have noticed that my reading list hasn't been updated for some time. I've been busy knitting and I really haven't mastered that well enough to be able to read at the same time - I can barely manage to cope with having the tv on while I'm knitting! I've also been working my head off and any spare time I've had has been spent wrangling the kids, sorting meals, trying to keep the washing pile contained in the laundry and of course digging up bricks, pulling out plants and ripping down rock walls. And reading in bed proved pointless - I was so exhausted by the time I fell into bed each night that I kept falling asleep with my book in my hand and clunking myself if the head.
Despite that I have snuck in the odd bit of reading but each book has taken far longer to get through than normal. I finally read a book that I picked up at a second-hand store ages ago. I also hit Chantalle's suggestion, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which I really enjoyed so I followed it up with the rest of the Millennium Trilogy. And I've just borrowed Lunch in Paris from a friend and can't wait to get into that. Thank goodness we've hit school holidays and, while I'll still be working a couple of days each week, things will slow down a wee bit. Which means I'll be finding some time to hit the couch with a book.
On a semi-related note, our state newspaper published a list of the top 100 books as voted by its readers this week. I've read about 40 of the 100 which I thought wasn't a bad effort but I was a bit annoyed that the first three on the list are each a series of books. The Twilight Saga, all the Harry Potter's and the Millennium Trilogy all count as one book each whereas, by my reckoning, there are 14 books in that lot. Here's the whole list, with what I've read hightlighted in blue. How many have you read?

Top 100 List
1 The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer
2 Harry Potter 1-7, J.K. Rowling
3 The Millennium Trilogy,Stieg Larsson
4 To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
5 The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
6 Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
7 My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult
8 Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris
9 The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
10 The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

11 Lunch in Paris, Elizabeth Bard
12 The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
13 Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden

14 61 Hours, Lee Child
15 Dragon Haven, Robin Hobb
16 Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
17 The Silent Sea, Clive Cussler
18 Mao's Last Dancer, Li Cunxin
19 The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
20 Tuscan Rose, Belinda Alexandra
21 The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay
22 The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
23 The Pacific, Hugh Ambrose
24 Ransom, David Malouf
25 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
26 Dear John, Nicholas Sparks
27 Magician, Raymond E. Feist
28 The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
29 House Rules, Jodi Picoult
30 Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
31 A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
32 Marley & Me, John Grogan
33 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Jane Austen & Steve
34 Breath, Tim Winton
35 The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons
36 Cloudstreet, Tim Winton
37 The People's Train, Thomas Keneally
38 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
39 Truth, Peter Temple
40 Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
41 Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
42 The Host, Stephenie Meyer
43 The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

44 The Book of Emmett, Deborah Forster
45 Ice Station, Matthew Reilly
46 The Road, Cormac Macarthy
47 The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards
48 Persuasion, Jane Austen
49 Jessica, Bryce Courtenay
50 Atonement,Ian McEwan
51 Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
52 The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet
53 The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo
54 April Fool's Day, Bryce Courtenay
55 Life of Pi, Yann Martel
56 Angels & Demons, Dan Brown
57 The Pact, Jodi Picoult
58 The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

59 Parrot and Olivier in America, Peter Carey
60 Always Looking Up, Michael J. Fox
61 Seven Ancient Wonders, Matthew Reilly
62 The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
63 Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult
64 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Burrows
65 The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
66 Solar, Ian McEwan
67 Fallen, Lauren Kate
68 The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
69 P.S. I Love You, Cecila Ahern
70 The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

71 Obernewtyn, Isobelle Carmody
72 A Fortunate Life, A.B. Facey
73 Handle with Care, Jodi Picoult
74 Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
75 Dirt Music, Tim Winton
76 It, Stephen King
77 Hourglass, Claudia Gray
78 Tully, Paullina Simons
79 The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
80 Shantaram: A Novel, Gregory David Roberts
81 The Princess Bride, William Goldman
82 Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
83 Requiem for a Species, Clive Hamilton
84 The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory
85 Break No Bones, Kathy Reichs
86 Animal Farm, George Orwell
87 The Six Sacred Stones, Matthew Reilly
88 The Five Greatest Warriors, Matthew Reilly
89 Maralinga, Judy Nunn
90 Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
91 One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
92 Worst Case, James Patterson
93 Once in a Lifetime, Cathy Kelly
94 The Stand, Stephen King
95 Anybody Out There, Marian Keyes
96 The Secret, Rhonda Byrne
97 Temple, Matthew Reilly
98 All That Remains, Patricia Cornwall
99 The Slap, Christos Tsolkias
100 Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
PS: Don't forget to enter my giveaway. It's open till Thursday and you just have to leave a comment over at that post.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

At 625 posts... My First Giveaway!

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 14 comments
Yep, you read it right. I've been blogging for almost 4 years and this is my 625th post. Time flies and all that, hey? Anyway, I recently got an email asking if I'd like to take part in a review or giveaway and since I love you all so much I figured I'd give it to you. I love that you read and (sometimes!) comment. That you offer suggestions for problems I'm dealing with - whether it's the kids, the garden or trying to find something to wear on a rare night out. That you have a go at some of the recipes I try and that some of our fave's have also become yours. I love that some of my real life friends read along and keep up on our news and that some of my cyber friends, or as hubby calls them - imaginary friends - have become my friends too. So, to say thankyou I'm going to pass on a $50 voucher from the lovely people at Buyster for their online store. They have everything from kitchenware to handbags to furniture like these lovely Melbourne bar stools.
So, the important stuff. How do you enter? It's easy-peasy. Just leave me a comment on this post. A comment about anything at all. You could tell my why you visit Red Dirt Mummy, what you'd like to spend the voucher on, or something that made you smile today. Whatever you want to say, I'd love to hear it.
Entries close 12noon, Thursday 8th July (Perth time) and, unfortunately, this is open to Australian readers only.

Monday, June 28, 2010

And Now He Is 8

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 6 comments
Which makes me the mother of an 8 year old! Wrong, wrong, wrong!!

Here's my gorgeous 8 year old boy on his birthday present. I think his butt might have to be surgically removed from the seat as he's hardly got out of it all weekend.


And because I feel compelled to prove, year after year, that cake decorating is just not my thing here's a photo of the birthday cake. It's supposed to be an Aussie Rules football field, the candles are the goal posts and the ball is a chocolate clinker.


In other news about #1, he brought home his school report today and it is BRILLIANT! He got great marks, fantastic comments from his teachers and a really positive comment from his classroom teacher. It hasn't been a particularly great year school-wise (in my opinion) and I am so so so proud of him. Now we're on the downhill slide to the mid-year school holidays and I can't wait for Friday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finding A Comfy Spot

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 7 comments
I was indulging in some kids tv with Offspring #2 this afternoon while I was folding some clean laundry. I wandered off to put the clothes away and returned to find #2 had a new chair. She was thoroughly engrossed in the tv show and had grabbed a cushion to make herself comfortable. You'd never guess there are two perfectly good couches in the room!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yay for Rhubarb

Posted by MANDI at 9:50 PM 2 comments
I found the recipe for this scrummy Rhubarb Crumble Slice in the newest issue of donna hay magazine. A crunchy biscuit base, sugary rhubarb filling and crumbly crumble topping . Seriously fabulous.

Go buy the mag, it's totally worth it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Catching Up

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 PM 1 comments
Whoa, has it been over a week since I was last here? Where did that chunk of time go?? Life here is a little hectic at the moment - with the work we're doing around the house taking up pretty much every spare minute and leaving me worn out at the end of each day, combined with work, running around after the kids and all the other things that being a wife, a mum and running a house entail I just haven't had a whole lot of free time. And the next couple of weeks look set to be even crazier as I'll be working pretty much every day. A totally insane decision that is already making me a little stressed but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Besides, after that I'll have two weeks holiday (at home, working on the house and yard!) to relax and catch up.

So what's been going on?
Offspring #1's thumb has pretty much recovered so at football today be managed to land on his shoulder. Yes, his shoulder. Luckily it doesn't seem to be more than a pulled muscle. His birthday is later this week and he's on a pretty big warning that if his behaviour at home doesn't improve there won't be a birthday at all. That said, I'm actually getting worried that his birthday present isn't going to arrive in time.
Offspring #2 has had a little leap in learning and wants to write every word ever spoken, written or thought. She has me making lists - parts of the body, things in a house, things we can see, etc, and then copies them all out, colours them in and generally has fun playing with letters and language. It's amazing to watch and so much fun seeing her little face light up when she works something out.
The reno work is progressing nicely. We've started the wall at the back of the house and I've been busy pulling out plants, ripping out the old coffee-rock retaining wall (it's hell on the hands and nails), pulling up brick paths (also hell on the hands and nails) and over the weekend I've put new plants into the tiered garden beds at the front of the house. As a result of all that I've not been doing quite as much baking and cooking as normal but I have tried a few new recipes. I'll try and get them up during the week.


And finally... I roasted a leg of lamb in the slow cooker for dinner tonight and decided to go the extra bit and do roasted vegies and cauliflower and broccoli gratin. I had plans to make a delish new dessert that a friend had shared with me but the kids vetoed that suggestion - they wanted marshmallows cooked on the fire that Hubby had going in the front yard. I said no, #2's asthma has been playing up and there was no way I wanted her out in the cold smoky air. Hubby to the rescue...

They simply toasted their marshmallows on the inside fire. And loved every single sticky mouthful. Thinking outside the square? Who knew it could be so much fun?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh Dear

Posted by MANDI at 6:10 PM 2 comments
When I collected Offspring #1 from school yesterday he told me that his hand hurt. I threw it a cursory glance, declared that it was fine and started to lead the way to the car, grabbing his hand as I walked. Oooops, grabbed the sore hand. He yelled and cried and I took a closer look then realised it was actually quite swollen and, after a poke or two, that it was very tender. Decision time. Take him home and listen to the moaning (he's a total sook) or go straight to the doctor, pay through the nose for a visit, and get it seen?

Off to the doctor we went. Who sent us down the hill for x-rays. Who charges us even more money and then sent us back up the hill to the Dr so he could tell us #1's thumb was badly sprained but not broken. The hand was bandaged to provide it with some support and he was told to take it easy, not take part in his sports class today and that hopefully he'd be fine for the footy game on Sunday.

Luckily it's his left hand so all is good school-wise, just can't do sport. He decided to help me out and write the note to his teacher letting him know.


I thought it was super cute and simply added my bit on the end:

Dear Mr Teacher,

As Ben has so succinctly stated, he has sprained his thumb rather badly - x-rays show no break - and is not to do sport today.

Kind regards,
Ben's Mum


When I collected him today the teacher gave me back the note. He and his student teacher thought it was super-cute too and that I might like to keep it. They didn't know I'd already taken a photo of it this morning LOL.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Swirl

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 3 comments
The recipe for this delicious, though not without it's moments, cake has been torn from one of the recent foodie mags but I neglected to note which one on the page itself, so no credit given here. Sorry.

While I was making this I was pretty much convinced that it would be a disaster. The cake batter seemed to be too thick. The recipe stated that I should 'pour' half of it in the tin but this was just not of pouring consistency - more like scoop it out and shake it into the cake pan. Then I was supposed to swirl the jam through - really hard to do with a batter so thick it moves with the knife rather than letting the jam be dragged through it. But.... But! The end result was completely worth all the agonies I suffered - this is moist, delicious and wonderfully more-ish.
My whole family have fallen in love with 'the pink cake' - as you can see from the photo I overdid the icing just a wee bit LOL. I would suggest that you use a runny-ish sour cream, mine was very thick and I think that might have led to the difficulties I found with the cake batter. Otherwise, just persevere and trust that it'll all end up okay. Because it will, I promise.

Strawberry Swirl Cake



Melted butter, to grease (or canola spray, like I used)
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 cups self-raising flour
300g carton sour cream
1/2 cup strawberry jam (raspberry jam worked great)
2 cups icing sugar mixture
15g butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons hot water
2-3 drops pink food colouring

1. Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly brush a 2.5L (10 cup) capacity bundt tin with melted butter.
2. Use an electric beater to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Use a large metal spoon to fold in the flour and sour cream, in alternating batches until well combined.
3. Pour half the mixture into the prepared pan. Spoon over the jam. Use a skewer to make a swirl pattern. Top with the remaining cake mixture.
4. Bake for 45 minutes (mine took another 10 or so minutes) or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter and water, and stir until smooth. Stir in the food colouring. Spoon icing over cake. Set aside until set.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why I Should Stick To Scarves

Posted by MANDI at 12:50 PM 3 comments
My knitting skills are coming along. I'd say they're coming along slowly rather than nicely but they are coming along. I can cast on without thinking too much about it, I've got knit and perl down and I'm very proud of my casting off. But the counting stitches kind of sucks and attempting to create anything more interesting than a row on plain knit or plain perl is generally less than successful. I've made several scarves - a couple for Offspring #2 who loves them, one for me and I'm onto my second one for #1, he chose bright red this time round.

I did finish the dress I'd started for #2's teddy. It was miles too big for Teddy so one of her babies is wearing it instead. I especially like how the bobbles on the straps of the dress look more like nipples - charming. Not!

And I think that it illustrates perfectly why I should indeed stick to scarves. Or maybe I should teach myself to crochet instead.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh, hello!

Posted by MANDI at 7:40 PM 5 comments
Sorry, I've been a wee bit busy this week and by the end of each day I could hardly move enough to deal with dinner, baths and bed never mind about such things as blogging. What have I been doing? Well, I think I'll make this one a bit of a photo essay.
Remember the turf we laid last weekend? We ended up liking it so much we thought we'd do some more. So we had another big pile of dirt delivered...


Then I ordered the turf and arranged for Hubby to collect it after work on Friday. Which was kinda dumb because it meant I had to get the dirt spread during the week. So I hopped to it and got to work...



The turf was duly collected and we had to do a few last minute bits of preparation, including compacting the soil so that the turf could be laid upon it. As with any job, safety equipment is vitally important...


As is shadowing the person whose jobs you would like to take over...



And by mid-afternoon on Saturday we had us some new lawn. And some aching bodies.




Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Girl Loves Me

Posted by MANDI at 12:02 PM 4 comments
Her: I love you Mum.

Me: I love you too baby.

Her: I love you more.

Me: I love you forever.

Her: Yeah? Well I love you for 16 years and that's a lot lot lot.

Hmmm... I guess that means she thinks she wins. But I know I'm the winner really.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tales from Reno-land

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 3 comments
We spent the weekend shovelling dirt and laying turf. And this time, for a very rare change, when I say WE, I really do mean WE. Generally the 'we' really means hubby. Fabulous, wonderful, very clever and very capable hubby. But this time we were on a deadline - the turf has to be laid within 24 hours and the soil was delivered only an hour or two before the turf arrived so we had to move. Fast.

So I was handed a shovel and told to get to work. Three hours later, the soil was spread and I had some seriously aching arms and shoulders. Then hubby laid down his shovel and got busy laying the turf while I fed and watered the troops.

And when we woke up the next morning...


Shame we've got this much more to do. Ummm.... yeah, that's this weekend's job.


And the front wall is progressing nicely. Here's the tiered section on one side that is just about done.

And now we are (okay, he is) heading down the side and towards the back. This is what it looks like right at the moment.

Again, yeah that's this weekend's job. I think the shovel and I are going to become very close. Maybe I need to give it a name so I feel a little more friendly towards it?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Biggest Morning Tea (at Lunch Time!)

Posted by MANDI at 8:19 PM 4 comments
You might remember that I hosted a Biggest Morning Tea in support of the Cancer Council right around this time last year. Over $10,000,000 was raised last year through events just like mine where people got together with some friends, enjoyed a cuppa and donated just a small amount. Well it was so much fun, and for such a great cause, that I decided to do it all again this year and despite a few hurdles - like having to change the date not once but twice, and having it at lunch time rather than mid-morning, as well as all the other going-ons of last week - it finally all came together on Friday.
A few of the kindy mums, neighbours old and new, and some old friends attended and we had two very special guests, 15 day old Miss Charlotte who is the new daughter of one of my oldest friends and 16 day old Master Seth who is the newest foster baby of the former Mrs Across The Road. To say that the babies were warmly welcomed would be a massive understatement - they were cuddled and burped, exclaimed over and passed around and both teeny bundles behaved beautifully.
We had a lovely couple of hours catching up on news, exchanging gossip and getting to know new friends a little better. There were heaps of yummy treats to nibble on and I'd organised a door prize as well as some raffle prizes to help boost the funds being raised. Last year I had 15 people attend so I was a little bit disappointed to not have quite as many this time round (though to be fair that had more to do with me having to change the date than anything else) but we managed to raise even more than last year's total. This year we've already come up with over $100 and I still have a couple of people who are planning to contribute as I see them over the weekend. I'm thinking we'll end up with about $120 and I'm thrilled to have raised that for The Cancer Council simply by having a few friends round for a cuppa and a chat.
Will I do it again next year? You bet!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Lighter Side

Posted by MANDI at 9:31 PM 3 comments
You kind of have to have first hand knowledge of the workings of a a four-year old's brain to fully appreciate this one but... here goes.
We broke the news to Offspring #2 who didn't miss a beat before asking if that meant we were going to get another dog. Now.
I told her yes, we would be getting another dog but not right now.
She wanted to know when.
I said later.
She asked if that meant we were going to have afternoon tea first.
And through the tears, in that first couple of horrible hours, her Daddy and I laughed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

He's Gone

Posted by MANDI at 7:39 PM 7 comments
What we had thought (hoped?) was an infection in Max's gums turned out to be the cancer spreading at a ferocious rate so, sadly, the vet agreed with us. Hubby and I stayed with him until the end, just patting him and loving him.
I'm sure you can imagine how sad our little house in the hills is tonight but we're also remembering lots of fun times as well as the funny things that Max did and we're managing to have a gentle laugh too. Thank you for your kind thoughts and words here, in the emails and on facebook. They really do help.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Getting Ready To Say Goodbye

Posted by MANDI at 8:07 PM 6 comments
Our beautiful Max spent some time at the vet's having some tests done during the last school holidays and neither Hubby nor I was particularly surprised when the results turned up some bad news. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that spreads quickly and we were told he probably had about a month left. Two if we were lucky. Looking at him, no one doubted that he was getting old but this crazy dog who pranced like a hula dancer when he saw his dad after a three day absence? Who ate everything put in front of him and eyed the kids toast through the glass door to make sure they left their crusts for him? Who followed his family around the yard, lying right in the way of whatever chores they were doing?. There was no way he was that sick. No way at all.


We were told to take him home, love him lots and do our best to keep him comfortable with a drug regime that would help control the growth of the tumour on his neck and hold his old-man aches and pains at bay as winter approached. Our very lovely vet offered us lots of support as well as some advice and a common sense approach.

So we did as he suggested and all was fine for a good few weeks. The drugs kept the tumour small, Max was his usual silly self and, what we laughingly call his 'old man drugs' ie, cortisone, eased his aches and pains enough that he even ran, yes ran, down to the front gate to bark at the postman. That was a very proud moment - even the neighbours were excited. But... you knew there had to be a but coming. The last week or so has seen a very sharp decline as the drugs no longer seem to be working. His tumour has grown enormously, he's just about lost his voice and, while his appetite for food is undiminished, his appetite for life is slowly waning. And so, tomorrow we're heading back to the vet. I'm still in a land called denial and am desperately hoping that the vet will tell us he's fine, that he's got a while longer yet and that we should take him home again. But I'm pretty sure he won't. And my heart is breaking - for Hubby whose boy he is, for the kids who don't get what's happening, for Maxie himself who has been such a loving, loyal, wonderful part of our lives and for me who, despite not liking dogs, or wanting a dog, fell completely and utterly in love with him from the minute we met.

So we're getting ready to say goodbye to the beautiful boy who has been part of our family for more than 12 years. And I'm just not ready for that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Browsing Some Blogs

Posted by MANDI at 7:38 PM 5 comments
I have been meaning to tell you about some of my new favourite blog reads for ages but other stuff just keeps getting in the way. It goes without saying that the blogs listed in my sidebar are ones that I love reading but variety is the spice of life so on occasion I go searching for something new. Sometimes I stumble across a new-to-me blog in the comment box of another, sometimes I'll follow an intriguing link from Twitter and sometimes I'll go looking for who has left comments for me. The blogs I'm sharing today kind of cover all bases. Go check them out - there's a little bit of something for everyone.
Bush Babe -she's like the Australian version of The Pioneer Woman. Life on the land, beautiful photos and interesting content. If you like Ree you'll love Bush Babe.
Chicken Willow - This is a relatively new blog and I'm so envious of Hannah's crafty talents. Posts about her family, the things they get up to, gorgeous photos of Hannah's crafty creations and what has become a highlight of my week Forebear Friday where she shares old photos of her ancestors. Go tell her hi from me!
An Ordinary Housewife - this one has been through a couple of incarnations and I'm loving the latest one. She's a fellow Perth-ite!
City Girl In A Red Dirt World - well the title says it all doesn't it? This is fast becoming one of my very favourite blogs. It's pretty much brand new and chronicles the adventures of a city girl who has moved lock, stock and stiletto to the middle of the red dirt all for love. She's in one of the towns I have lived in (but not the most recent one) and I laugh myself silly at her adventures, and mis-adventures. Mostly because so far they've all been terribly familiar! I know a couple of my readers will love this little bit of nostalgia and when you add in that it's well written and she has a fantastic sense of humour (and the photos of the red dirt don't hurt at all) it's a must-see.
Frills In The Hills - I only found this one a couple of days ago but I am LOVING it. Lovely recipes (I have a bundle I want to try), gorgeous kids and a generally beautiful site. I'm looking forward to taking some time and thoroughly exploring this one. And adding it to my sidebar too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hmmmm...

Posted by MANDI at 9:58 PM 9 comments
So, what do you think? I'm pretty happy with how it looks but I haven't quite finished tweaking. And while I was busy doing that, I learnt how to put a watermark on my photos. You know, just in case I end up famous and people try to steal my pics. Yeah, yeah - delusions of grandeur, I know! Bush Babe has a super-easy tutorial on how to watermark your photos - look, even I can follow it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just Playing

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 2 comments
I'm about to start playing with the blog. You know, making a few changes, tweaking bits here and there and generally messing about with stuff I don't know a whole lot about. I'm really hoping it's all going to work (and I've got to go work out how to back it up before I start, just in case it doesn't work out so well) and that it will look sparkly and new in a few days time.

Just so you know in case you drop by for a visit and it's gone kablooie.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Night Dinner

Posted by MANDI at 7:10 PM 1 comments
I've told you about Fast Food Filthy Friday before. The food for dinner is fast, but home-cooked not of the fast-food drive-through variety, and the kids get to skip their bath thus the filthy part. Sometimes we have eggs on toast, toasted sandwiches, a meal from the freezer or soup but a regular favourite is homemade pizza.
The pizza dough I make is so simple that it easily fits into the category of fast - 4 cups of self raising flour, a good pinch of salt and an equally good pinch of whatever dried herbs are handy and one can of beer. Mix it together then turn in out, give it a fairly gentle knead, cut it into three portions and roll out three pizza bases. Yeah, three seems a little excessive but it takes care of lunch (or breakfast!) the next day.
The kids always choose ham, cheese and pineapple for their topping. It's pretty much the only time they get pineapple and I secretly think they choose it just because they know I can't eat any of it!



Hubby and I mix it up a bit with the toppings. Tonight we had some leftover slow-cooked lamb shanks so I was wanting to use some up on the pizza and after a bit of quick googling came up with some ideas. Passata on the base and a scarce scattering of grated cheddar cheese just so everything sticks to the base then: char-grilled capsicum, some blobs of basil pesto, olives, lamb, crumbled feta and some pine nuts. After it was cooked we decided it needed some more salt so we added that and... fabulousness on a pizza.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More From The 'Hiding Vegies' Files

Posted by MANDI at 8:10 PM 4 comments
Sorry, this week's been all about food and picky kids. Actually, just one picky kid. The other kid is an absolute champ when it comes to food. Anyway, the food and pickiness posts continue.

Tonight I made a tuna and potato bake for dinner and was working with one hand tied behind my back from the very beginning. Hubby's gastric reflux is playing up at the moment and we have, through much trial and error, discovered that onion - both raw and cooked - is a major trigger so I took the onion off the list of ingredients. Offspring #2 has been so great with her dinner the past couple of nights that I didn't want to serve up something she was going to refuse to eat and destroy the pleasant-ness we have achieved so next I went looking for ways to hide some vegies in the dish.

First step: again following Jo MacD's tip (sorry Jo, I spelt it wrong yesterday) from the comments box I added some steamed mashed cauliflower to the mashed potato. Then onto adding something to the tuna part. I substituted some sauteed celery for the onion and added some mixed dried herbs, grated carrot and grated zucchini to the frypan to fry gently for a minute or two, then added a large tin of tuna, let it warm up a little and splashed in some cream along with some salt and pepper. Then I just popped the tuna mixture into an ovenproof dish, topped it with the mashed potatoes, add some grated cheese and bunged it into a moderate oven for about 25-30 minutes.

Whinging: 0 / Mum: Winning the fight!

Monday, May 17, 2010

She Shoots, She Scores...

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 5 comments
and she has a big win at the dinner table! Okay, I'll stop referring to myself in the third person and come back down to Earth.
Lat night's dinner? Fish, chips from the freezer and steamed vegies. Offspring #2, aka Miss Fussy Bum, aka the pain in the butt who I fight with at dinner every single night until I want to scream and run away from my whole family, ate every single bite without a single complaint.
Tonight's dinner? Meatloaf, steamed vegies and mashed potato that I took Jo Mc's hint with and hid some steamed mashed cauliflower in. Again, she ate every single bite without complaining. Alright, one small whine about the bean on her plate but she subsided when I reminded her to have some potato with it to help it go down better.
Then I served up apple and apricot crumble (using some of the stewed apricots that were prepared and frozen back in January) with icecream. She tasted some apricot, pulled the best 'medicine face' I've seen for ages - it involved a whole body shudder which was totally entertaining - and decided she'd just eat the ice-cream and let her dad finish off the crumble.
People, are you holding your breath? Then, she turned to me, thanked me for dinner and announced that it was "alishus". Could a mother be any more proud?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There Goes Another Weekend

Posted by MANDI at 7:31 PM 0 comments
For a stay-at-home, nothing-special kind of weekend we seem to have fitted heaps in and once again Sunday draws to a close leaving me exhausted and looking forward to both kids being in school tomorrow so I have a chance to catch my breath.


We had a very special visitor over the weekend. Sprinkles the kindy teddy-bear came home with Offspring #2 on Friday afternoon and has been dragged along everywhere so we could write about all his exciting adventures in his special scrapbook. Here's Sprinkles and #2 playing playstation. Apparently he wasn't very good at it. But she didn't score at all so I'm not sure her opinion is all that valid.



Saturday saw bright sunshine and no rain. Yes, a good chance to catch up on some washing - exciting stuff. The we ran down the hill to visit with Hubby's grandmother, Mumma. I had a bundle of home-cooked meals in the freezer for her and, having spoken to her the day before on the phone, wanted to get them to her as soon as I could. Mumma's about as fussy at #2 when it comes to food so my general rule is that if #2 likes it, Mumma will. That said, Mumma flat out refuses to eat spag bol so she got a couple of portions of cottage pie, some vegie soup, pea and ham soup and some frozen stewed apricots. All were welcomed and more meals have been requested, a request I'll be very happy to fulfill.


This morning was Offspring #1's footy game. Three games into the season and the team is starting to work as... a team and they kicked a few goals and a few more points today. The first game they scored nothing at all so they're definitely improving. #1 took a couple of good marks, made a few great kicks and got into the thick of the action more than he has till now, all of which was lovely to watch. Then after some lunch and baskets and baskets and baskets of ironing we wandered across the road to drink some bubbly (I know, any excuse!) and eat birthday cake. Then home again, dinner, baths for the kidlets, the obligatory yelling that goes with hairwashing and now the kids are in bed, Dr Who is on tv and my lovely Hubby has made me a cuppa to go with a slice of seriously yummy banana cake I baked yesterday.


And your weekend? How was it? What did you get up to?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Easy Peasy Meatballs

Posted by MANDI at 8:18 PM 0 comments
The May issue of Good Taste Magazine is getting a total workout in my kitchen. I generally make a few things out of each foodie mag I buy but this issue is one of those rare ones where I flicked through and found page after page of recipes that I was hanging out to make. Recipes that I've wanted to try, or that I knew Miss Fuss Bum would like, or just something a bit different for the dinner table.


This meatball recipe is a total cheats version, tastes fab and Hubby and I loved it. Offspring #1 was unhappy because it had olives in it and didn't believe that you couldn't really taste them, while #2 gobbled hers up after I'd removed the offending huge piece of olive not even noticing the smaller pieces still happily encased in the meat. Next time I'll add some salt and pepper to the meatball mixture and we did sprinkle some parmesan over the finished dish but apart from that I wouldn't change a thing. I especially loved that we got in at 6pm and I had dinner on the table at 6.28pm and that included wrangling small people into baths/showers/pyjamas.




Greek Meatballs and Pasta
from Good Taste magazine, May Issue


400g dried penne pasta
500g lamb mince (oops, used beef mince)
120g Always Fresh Antipasto To Go Continental Mix, drained, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil (I used the oil from the antipasto pack - thrifty and tasty!)
700ml bottle passata

1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet direction, Return to pan.
2. Meanwhile, combine mince and antipasto in a bowl. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls. Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs, shaking pan often, for 3-5 minutes or until browned.
3. Add the passata. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly.
4. Add the meatballs to the pasta and toss to combine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mash with a Twist

Posted by MANDI at 7:37 PM 6 comments
Who doesn't love mashed potatoes in the middle of winter? Warm, filling, comforting and a perfect complement to winter hotpots, casseroles and bakes. They also go well with some tasty sausages and gravy and that's where this little recipe comes in.

We decided on Bangers and Mash for dinner a few nights ago but we needed some other vegies to round out the meal. Offspring #2 is being so difficult foodwise at the moment - I'm almost at my wits end and if it is indeed a phase I'm hoping she gets over it quick smart - so I was looking to get some vegies into her into her using stealth as my weapon. Where could I hide some vegies in a way she wouldn't notice but would still eat? Flicking through the current issue of Good Taste I came across this version of Irish Colcannon and figured it was worth a try. I told her they were really special mashed potatoes with extra stuff like bacon and that she'd love them. Well, she ate them so that's a success in my books and regardless of what she may or may not have thought - we all loved it. So this will be on the menu again and we'll see if she likes it next time round.

Just so you know, I halved the recipe and it did the four of us happily but I'll put the original measurements below.


Colcannon
from Good Taste magazine, May 2010

1. Boil the potatoes
Cook 1kg potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return to pan. Add 80ml (1/3 cup) milk, 60ml (1/4 cup) pouring cream and 20g butter. Mash until smooth.
2. Cook the cabbage
Meanwhile, melt 20g butter in a saucepan. Add 3 cups finely shredded savoy cabbage and 3 chopped rindless bacon rashers. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until cabbage is tender and bacon is cooked. Add to the potato mixture. Stir in 2tbs chopped fresh chives. Season with salt and white pepper.
3. Serve the colcannon
Colcannon tastes great with pies, grilled lamb or pork chops or slow-cooked casseroles.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making Myself Laugh

Posted by MANDI at 8:23 PM 7 comments
Hubby left a bowl of choccies in front of me on the kitchen bench. Then he went and sat on the couch. Then he realised all the choccies were in front of me. You know, on the kitchen bench.

He said, "I bet you can't throw one of those choccies over to me here on the couch."

And I, the ever loving and supportive wife, decided that I should show him he was absolutely right. So I threw them everywhere but at him. Completely and utterly on purpose. And then laughed myself silly at the look on his face.

I crack myself up!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Never Trust A Man With A Chainsaw...

Posted by MANDI at 2:36 PM 7 comments
Hubby headed into the backyard with the chainsaw last weekend. There were a few big wattle trees that had become somewhat overgrown and needed some trimming and thinning out.

"Don't worry," he told me. "You'll hardly be able to tell the difference and you still won't be able to see the back fence. I'll just thin them out a bit to make room for the new apple tree and see if we can get some sun on the passionfruit."


My reply was something along the lines of a grunt and a nod and away he went.

Upon completing the job he wandered in with a slightly concerned look on his handsome face. It seems the trees covered quite a bit more of the back fence than he had thought and, "ummm.... well, it looks a bit different now."



Yeah, you can totally see the back fence, the back neighbour's water tanks, sheds and privacy screen (which he really put up for our benefit so we didn't have to look at his collection of junk outside his shed - he's a very nice man).



The positives in this? Hubby is pretty terrific to have done all that work so he could plant MY apple tree. The passionfruit actually get some sunshine now instead of being in the shade 24/7. Yes, we do see the back fence but it has really opened up the yard and it's not that bad. Hubby's concern that I would hate what he'd done. Gotta love him just for that one alone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Done In

Posted by MANDI at 8:47 PM 3 comments
I worked the first three days of the week and just about died of exhaustion by Wednesday night. I know many of you work full-time, have kids, get meals on the table and do all the other wife and mum stuff but, Lordy, I am stuffed. My feet hurt, I have no energy left and my brain has turned to mush.
And I'm going to do it all over again next week. By the time I get finished I'll be a gibbering wreck. But I'll be a gibbering wreck who can buy another truck-load of crushed limestone.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Keeping it Simple

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 2 comments
I picked up some asparagus on the 'throw out' trolley at my local supermarket the other day. Two bunches that were still beautifully fresh for less than $2. Bargain! Then I couldn't decide what to do with them so they sat in the fridge for a couple of days before I stumbled across this simple and wonderfully delicious way to add them to tonight's fish and steamed veg dinner. They were simply divine and, as I halved the recipe and used just one bunch, I think we might have this again tomorrow night!


Asparagus with Basil Butter and Parmesan
from Good Taste magazine, May 2010


Serves 6
40g butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I had parsley handy so used that instead)
2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
20g (1/4 cup) finely grated parmesan

1. Combine butter and basil (or parsley!). Season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook asparagus in a deep frying pan of boiling water for 3 minutes or until tender crisp. Transfer to a serving platter.
3. Top with the butter mixture and parmesan.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Footy Star

Posted by MANDI at 8:40 PM 4 comments

Here's my little football player.


He had his first ever 'proper' game of Aussie Rules football today. No more Auskick for us, he's in the under-9's team and is LOVING it. Proper training one afternoon a week and a real game with quarters and water bottles and oranges and an umpire with a whistle and everything. He had an absolute ball at today's game and I don't think anything could have wiped away the enormous grin on his face. Just gorgeous.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fancy Beans

Posted by MANDI at 7:45 PM 2 comments
I found this delicious recipe for beans in the current issue of donna hay magazine and immediately decided that we were having that for dinner. The original recipe was for 8 so I fiddled with the measurements a bit to get it to suit us,. I also fiddled with the spices a wee bit, toning it down ever so slightly so as to not shock my poor children into oblivion. With the obvious exception of Miss Fussy, we all LOVED this. It was warm, hearty, full of flavour and pleasingly spicy. That said, the little miss did eat up every little bit of pasta in the bowl so it can't have been too bad. You can ramp up (or down) the measurements to suit yourself, I've included the original recipe and added my measurements next to it.
Chorizo and Beans
from donna hay magazine, autumn 2010 (issue 50)


2 tablespooons olive oil (2 tablespoons)
2 chorizo, sliced (2)
2 red onions, sliced (1 )
4 cloves garlic, sliced (2 )
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (1/8 teaspoon ground chilli)
4 sprigs oregano (2 )
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (1 x 400g can)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (1/2 tablespoon)
3 x 400g cans white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained (2 x 400g cans)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (1/2 tablespoon)
crusty bread to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden and tender. Add the chilli, paprika, oregano, tomato and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans and balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

We nixed the bread and went with hot cooked pasta stirred through and grated parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Merry, Merry King of the Bush Is He

Posted by MANDI at 8:57 PM 5 comments
Here's one of the loud, laughing kookaburras who likes to hang out in our yard. They seem to be having a bit of a territorial war at the moment and there's a whole lot of fairly aggressive laughing going on, a bit of flying at each other, the odd tactical retreat and then they start all over again. If they're not doing that they're very busy taking fly-by dives at the fish pond and stealing the baby gold-fish.

And yes, I do get fed up with the noise because they can be loud. Like seriously bloody LOUD. Like loud enough for people on the other end of the phone to ask what the heck all that noise is. But then I pinch myself and think about how lucky I am to live on an acre block with lots of trees, in the metro area. And how I totally take that for granted. And I think about how so many people never get to hear a kookaburra laugh and I hear it just about every single day. And how that's kind of unreal and spectacular.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I.

Posted by MANDI at 12:02 PM 2 comments
Here's a meme I found floating around ages ago. It's been sitting in my inbox waiting ever since. So for an easy Saturday read, here you go. If you decide to do it, let me know and I'll come check it out.
I am finally getting over this rotten cold.
I think that I should go hang out the washing while it’s sunny.
I want a pair of flat, knee high boots. But I can’t find any I like or can afford.
I have meringues in the oven.I dislike when people cut in line.
I miss my friends from Red Dirt Central.
I fear I will never have a career again. A job, sure. But not the career I crave.
I feel excited and nervous about turning 40. Lucky I still have some time to prepare.
I hear the kids running around outside.
I smell freshly cooked Anzac biscuits.
I crave things that are never in the house when I want them.
I usually say the wrong thing.
I search Google for something at least once every day.
I wonder if we will ever get the reno’s and extensions done on the house.
I regret not doing my Masters when I got in.
I love my family. They are my everything. Even when they annoy the crap out of me.
I care too much about what other people think of me.
I am always worrying.
I worry about pretty much everything.
I remember before I had kids.
I dance to The Wiggles.
I sing only when the music is turned up REALLY loud and no-one can hear me.
I don't always do what I should.
I argue with myself.
I write lists. Lots of lists.
I lose stuff all the time.
I wish on rainbows.
I listen to kookaburras laughing their way round my yard.
I don't understand maths.
I can usually be found at the kitchen bench. It’s where the computer is.
I am scared of the dark.I need quiet to be able to function.
I forget lots of stuff. It’s not always a bad thing.
I am happy, most of the time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Leftovers, Or Two For One

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 AM 3 comments
I mentioned the other day that I'd bought a new slow cooker recipe book called Slow Cooker, Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons and it's by Sally Wise. I love it, for a whole bunch of reasons that I'm planning to go into another time, and tried another version of corned beef from it earlier in the week. I didn't take photos - seriously, how many photos of corned beef can one blog need? - but thought I'd share the recipe with you. This was totally delicious and had lots of flavour to it. Even the fussiest family member gobbled up her serve. Though not until she'd drowned it, and everything else on her plate, in tomato sauce.
The next night we had lots of leftovers. Lots. We'd all had corned beef sandwiches for lunch and serving up sliced corned beef for dinner seemed a little repetitive so I was searching for a different way to use the leftovers and decided on a recipe I found over at taste.com for Corned Beef Hash Cakes . Delicious! In fact they were so delicious that I forgot to take photos (ok, I was sick as a dog too so I did pretty well getting dinner on at all!). But there are photos over there and yes, that's what mine looked like too. I cooked them in a pan on the stove and served them up with steamed vegies - comfort food at it's best.
Corned Beef
from Slow Cooker by Sally Wise
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1.5 kg piece of corned silverside (I used a 2kg piece)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
8 cloves (I only had ground cloves so used 1 teaspoon)
10 peppercorns
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
Peel and chop the onion. Peel the carrot and cut into chunks. Slice the celery. Place the silverside, vegetables, mixed spices, cloves, peppercorns, brown sugar and vinegar in the slow cooker.
Add enough water to come two thirds up the silverside.
Place lid on cooker and cook for 4-5 hours on High or 8-9 hours on Low (I cooked mine for 5 hours on High).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ah-Ah-Ah.... CHOO!!!!

Posted by MANDI at 10:22 AM 2 comments
Remember the raging sore throat from a few days ago? Well it's turned into the head cold from hell. I am so glad that both kids are at school today and I get to have a bit of a break. After I finish this post the most energetic thing I'm planning to do until pick-up time is use the remote to change the tv channel.

The real bummer is that now I won't be able to make it to the blogger's meetup tonight. I was really looking forward to going and had everything arranged so it could happen but with a totally snotty nose, stuffed up head and next to no voice it's the last thing I feel like doing. Oh, and while I'm reasonably generous I don't think this is something I should be sharing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blogger's Meetup

Posted by MANDI at 8:34 AM 3 comments
I've finally managed to get all my planets aligned and am off to another Perth Blogger's Meetup this week. I've been trying to make it back for, oh.... about 18 months, but generally life has conspired to keep me away - that and I'm secretly a quite shy homebody so the thought of trekking into the city, at night, to talk to people I don't really know is kind of daunting. That said, the few times I have attended everyone has been really friendly and welcoming so I'm just being a big wuss really.
Anyway, if you're in Perth and you're a blogger of any description - new, long-standing, foodblogger, mummyblogger (or daddyblogger!), technoblogger, whatever-your-interest-is blogger, come along. It's a terrific way to make some new friends, ask bloggy-type questions, get some advice and help and of course find new blogs to read.
The meetup is at The Brass Monkey (upstairs on the balcony, but just ask the staff upstairs and they'll point you in the right direction), this Wednesday night - 21st April, at 7pm.
Amanda and Ron - I'm looking at you!!!
I'm also looking at trying to organise a meetup for Perth Mummybloggers - I'm thinking a casual dinner somewhere that we can have a few drinks and no-one will care that a bunch of women are all talking at the same time. If you're interested let me know.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Morning Randomness

Posted by MANDI at 9:41 AM 5 comments
  • I have a raging sore throat. The kind where it hurts to swallow, feels like your throat may be on fire and while you want to clear your throat constantly doing so will result in instant decimating pain. Buckets of hot tea, along with hot buttered crumpets dripping with honey do seem to have some restorative qualities but only for as long as the tea and crumpets last. Then it's back to firey pain.
  • Along with that I appear to have lost my voice. Well, it comes and goes. Makes life interesting when I go to tell the kids off and nothing comes out. They're still at the stunned wonderment stage of that but I can see it morphing into crazed laughter in the next few hours.
  • Went to an outdoor concert last night - Jack Jones, Tears for Fears and Spandau Ballet. A huge 80's night that I dragged hubby along to for a rather more expensive than usual date night because I LOVED Spandau Ballet way back when. Jack Jones was boring - I admit I didn't like him back then either but he was playing acoustic 'arty' versions of his songs so you couldn't entirely tell what the song was anyway. Tears for Fears were spectacular, Spandau Ballet were less so. Ok, that's not really fair - they were great they just didn't play many of their big hits, which really, is what I paid a heck of a lot of money to see.
  • Have discovered (after last nights concert) why I don't go out very often. People shit me. Especially one man who sat behind us and talked at the top of his lungs the whole way through an outdoor concert so we were forced to listen to his views, opinions and thoughts on every conceivable topic from how Gary Kemp is the greatest song writer to what started the war in Iraq to how to buy the best fish. No I'm not kidding. I came very close, as the encore started, to suggesting that since he talked the whole way through the concert he might consider shutting up so we could listen to just the last two or so songs. I didn't do it but I kinda wish I had.
  • Hubby, the wonderful handy-man that he is, fixed my broken clothes drier earlier in the week. Then my washer died. Then the drier died again. Fun times with pouring rain and two children who insist on filth-i-fying themselves constantly. The repairman was called and arrived yesterday. $200 later both machines work again. Much better than $1000 to replace them.
  • Due to the previous item I rediscovered the laundromat. The local one is actually very nice (in my previous life as a young single in a close-to-the-city suburb they were kind of dodgy and not all that nice). And I discovered a newly opened second hand book exchange that was also very nice. I may rhaphodise further on this in another post.
  • My children are currently playing with their Beado's. Quiet bliss. Until they have a fight over something inane and pointless.
  • I have been giving my slow-cooker a working out this week. It's responding well to the challenges and boy oh boy have we been eating some yummy meals. Even Offspring #2 has conceded that some of them were okay.
  • The backyard is looking somewhat jungle like and is in need of some serious attention. Sadly I am lacking the motivation to provide that attention.
  • School is back this week and I am torn between relief and sadness. I have enjoyed having hubby and the kids around, lazy mornings, getting stuff done around the house and doing things together. But I will enjoy the return to routine and the possibility that the house might stay clean longer than four minutes.

And now I better hang out some of the washing that my newly-repaired machine is churning its way through as I attempt to catch up. Then it's onto the ironing. Fun times here!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Soup Weather

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 2 comments
Well our long, hot, dry summer appears to be well and truly over. This past week has been wet, wet and wet! The temps are dropping, it was only 19C here today - still not actually cold I know but well cooler that we've been used to for some time. No, we haven't lit the fire yet but I can feel it coming! However the urge to eat hearty warming meals has well and truly taken hold and as I had a huge chunk of pumpkin I figured some soup would go down a treat. Well, with everyone except Miss Fussy Bum, aka Offspring #2. Honestly, that child does my head in. Her brother has always been a fantastic eater - as a wee one the only things he really refused to eat were lettuce (odd, I know) broccoli and cabbage. And since he ate everything else and I totally agreed with him on the cabbage I just counted my blessings and got on with feeding him up. #2 is an entirely different story. She'd happily eat the same things every single day - weetbix for breakfast; banana, sultanas and crackers for morning tea; polony and sauce sandwich for lunch; pear or watermelon for afternoon tea; sausages with tomato sauce and a token smattering of raw chopped carrots, cucumber and cheese for dinner. Unless spaghetti bolognaise is on offer. She'll take that over just about anything. I do try to introduce new foods but she turns up her nose and declares them to be 'ewwwwww' without even trying them. I insist she try one bite, get her to try with something else (for example putting a pea with some mashed potato) and still I get the 'ewww'. Doing. My. Head. In.

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Pumpkin soup. Yummy, creamy, warm, filling pumpkin soup. Delicious.

I'd seen a friends facebook status saying that she had pumpkin soup in the slow cooker and I was a little puzzled. I mean, come on. It's not hard to make and it doesn't take long to cook so why on earth would you put it in the slow cooker? Then I bought a new slow cooker book that I'm just a little bit in love with and it had pumpkin soup in it so I thought I'd give it a go. Look, the soup was delicious but so is my usual recipe. I can't really see the advantage to using the slow cooker to make it - I still had to chop everything up for the pot and then get the stab mixer (bamix, whatever you call it) out to puree it but I can see it might be good on a day that you're busy in the garden or, for us at swimming lessons after school, where you can pop it on, go do what needs to be done and then come back to it some hours later. Anyway, if you're interested in trying it out, here it is. And for the record, Hubby #1 and I loved it and #2 had a peanut butter sandwich because I got sick of arguing with her.


Pumpkin Soup
From Slow Cooker, Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons by Sally Wise
Serves 4

750g dark fleshed pumpkin, such as Jap or Butternut
1 onion
1 1/2 cups stock, or water with 3 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese (I forgot to add this, but we didn't miss it)

Peel the pumpkin and cut into 2cm squares. Peel and dice the onion. Place in the slow cooker with the stock. Stir to combine
Place the lit on the cooker and cook for 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low (I did it on High and it took about 3 hours, I also added more water to thin it out at bit at the end).
At the end of the cooking time, puree and stir through the cream and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
 

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