Friday, December 21, 2007

Hello... and Goodbye

Posted by MANDI at 5:23 PM 5 comments
I had grand plans for blogging this week but... as you can see they kind of fell by the wayside.
We're off on our holiday to Perth tomorrow. The kids and I are packed, Hubby assures me his packing is 'almost finished', the presents are almost done - just one small box left to do. The floor needs a quick vacuum and mop but the rest of the house is done. The yard has been cleaned up so it's 'cyclone ready' just in case. The dog has gone for his holiday at the kennel. The end is in sight!
It's my birthday tomorrow - hmmm, what better way to spend the day with Hubby and the kids than in a car for 7 hours? We bought the celebrations forward a day and had presents this morning with birthday tea (whatever was left in the freezer, in this case spag bol!) tonight. I scored some lovely gifts - a cupcake stand and a pie dish that I'd bought a while ago and told Hubby to put away for me and a total surprise, a desktop drive for my computer. There were also lovely cards with special messages written and drawn and lots of hugs and kisses. I was thrilled!
We'll be back around the 6th January, so until then...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Running Out Of Time

Posted by MANDI at 8:22 PM 2 comments
Okay, I don't know where the last week went ! It seems like the days are zooming by although, sadly, the nights seem to zoom by too. I worked, cleaned up Offspring #2's puke, collected a somewhat worse-for-wear Hubby from his work Christmas lunch at 6pm (!) did end-of-year school stuff with and for Offspring #1, went out for dinner, went out for drinks, had friends to dinner, went to friends for farewells and birthday cake and somewhere in there I didn't quite get around to blogging.

So, for your general amusement and viewing pleasure - here are some photos of Offspring #2 doing 'art'.

P.S. She doesn't look like that anymore because I chopped her hair off today - probably not something I should consider as a career move or for her future beauty!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Updates and News

Posted by MANDI at 11:38 AM 1 comments
I did lots of baking over the weekend but have to say that nothing quite turned out how it was supposed to. That was a bit disappointing but it all still tasted okay so no real harm done. I'll share recipes and pics in a few days.
We had #1's pre-primary 'graduation' last week and it was very sweet. The kids had a little party lunch then the parents arrived for the presentation part of the day. They sang a couple of songs and received much applause from the assembled audience of parents and siblings. Every one in the class received a certificate and a small gift (a book) and shook the teacher's hand - some of the kids are real performers and even bowed to the audience. Then we looked through their portfolios and ooh-ed and aah-ed over their year's work. It was great to see the improvement in #1's writing and numbers and it was lovely to be able to see the difference a year has made in his drawings/paintings - from blobby looking things with teacher-written explanations to a recognisable picture of a Christmas tree. We finished with the re-opening of the playground after some work had been done and then Santa arrived in the police car to hand out presents and wish all the children a Merry Christmas.
#2 is sick AGAIN! I don't know what's going on with her but I'm going to guess that it's bugs from day-care. She did a spectacular wonder-chuck yesterday and covered the entire kitchen floor (TMI???) but was fine the rest of the day then did another one in the carpark at school this morning. She's asleep at the moment so we'll see how she goes when she wakes up.
I'm off round the country-side for work again. It's just an overnighter and only to Port Red Dirt but it will be two very long days. I'm due there at 8.30 tomorrow morning and it's a two-and-a-half hour drive so it will be a very early morning for me. I'm planning to leave by 3pm on Wednesday so, if all goes according to plan, I should be home for dinner.
Remember the job application I was helping Hubby with? He was offered the job but they couldn't come up with suitable housing and there were some other issues too so in the end he turned it down and is staying put. It's a bit disappointing, especially as 'they' have been trying to poach him since we arrived in town but after promising the world couldn't make it happen. That said, it's the right decision for now.
The upside of Hubby staying put is that we get to go 'home' for Christmas! Twelve days and counting. We're not taking a huge holiday this year but will still be gone for two weeks and we're all looking forward to it.
See you in a few days.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gift Making

Posted by MANDI at 2:39 PM 6 comments
I'm away for work for a couple of days again next week and knew that I wouldn't be able to fit in a baking session for teacher's gifts. I put on my thinking cap and had a search through some old magazines and came across this cute idea in a Christmas issue of Better Homes and Gardens from a few years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised with how inexpensive these turned out to be. Each gift ended up costing about $7 and I had them all put together in under a couple of hours, even with Offspring #1 helping! To bake a nice bundle of mixed cookies for each of his four teachers (yep, 4!) and put them in something pretty would have taken much longer and ended up costing the same, if not more, so I was pretty pleased. Also I could make these last weekend when I had a little time and then just leave them sitting around till I needed them rather than having to bake myself into a frenzy the night before I needed them.

The little terracotta pots and the ribbon trimming them came from the local craft store, the candles were from a home-wares store and ridiculously cheap, the papers on the candles were from my craft stuff and the "pretty bit" on the front is a very inexpensive Christmas ornament from Kmart. They were all very easy to get hold of which is an absolute necessity here in Red Dirt Central since we have only one craft shop and one home-wares shop so if they don't have it and you can't find it at Coles, Kmart or Woolies then you're out of luck.

Anyway, I was pleased with how they turned out and I'm hoping the teachers will like them too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Moments Like These

Posted by MANDI at 10:33 PM 1 comments
that I remember what I love about teaching kids.

As you know I have done after-school tutoring throughout the year. I've had between three and four students on the go and, with the school year drawing to a close, have just finished up with them all. I get paid (darn well, too) for the tutoring and expect nothing more, though a thankyou is always much appreciated. I received lovely end of year thankyou speeches from most of the students and their parents but had an extra special one from the naughtiest, laziest, most rat-baggy one (who is secretly my favourite).

I was touched, especially when his mum made a point of telling me that he'd bought them with his own hard-earned money. He stammered out a very awkward little thankyou speech as he thrust the flowers in my general direction and I was so moved by the sweetness that shone through. It's not often that I miss teaching but this was one of those rare moments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It Has Fruit...

Posted by MANDI at 9:39 PM 1 comments
so it must be good for you!

I picked up a bargain bag of ever-so-slightly over-ripe bananas last week but by the time I got around to using them they were just about dead. Not to worry, the deader the banana the sweeter the flavour when you turn it into a cake.

I didn't make the chocolate frosting for this, partly because my lot aren't too keen on icing but mostly because it has been so hot up here that with icing this would have had to be kept in the fridge which would have ruined the cake. The cake was really good on it's own but it would be so much better with frosting. There's always next time.

Banana Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices Cookbook

125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (I used three bananas)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate Frosting
125g packet cream cheese
30g butter
1/2 cups icing sugar
60g dark chocolate, melted

Grease a deep 20cm round cake pan, line base with paper; grease paper (I used a ring tin and greased it with canola spray).
Cream butter, essence and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time; beat until combined. Stir in half the banana with half the sour cream and half the sifted dry ingredients, then stir in remaining banana, sour cream and dry ingredients. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in moderate oven for about 1 1/4 hours. Stand 5 minutes, before turning on to wire rack to cool. Spread cold cake with frosting.
Chocolate Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter in small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in half the sifted icing sugar, cooled chocolate , then remaining icing sugar. Beat until thick.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back In The Kitchen

Posted by MANDI at 10:44 AM 2 comments
As you know I have been flat out of late and I've been finding it difficult to get organised. Being the control freak I am, this is doing my head in! As well as the chaos that has been created I have really missed cooking. Over the past year I've averaged five new recipes a week and for the past few weeks I've only managed the same old standby kind of dishes - spag bol (and lots of it), bbq's, rissoles and one batch of cookies. However, over the weekend I hit the kitchen and created a little bit of fun space for myself, and of course everyone got to share in the results.

Last night's dinner was a different kind of sausage and Hubby and I enjoyed them very much. The kids were less thrilled but liked them more after I removed the prosciutto around the outside. Offspring #2 was unwell most of the weekend so I'm not too concerned about her lack of interest, she ate the mashed potato so I figured we were on a good thing. We didn't have any tomato chutney and I think these would be really great with a chunky tomato and apple chutney.

Chicken,Fetta and Prosciutto Sausages
Australian Table, September 2007

500g lean chicken mince
50g low-fat fetta, crumbled
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped parsley (I used dried mixed herbs and the fresh parsley would have been much nicer)
grated rind of 1 lemon (left it out)
4 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthways
tomato chutney, to serve, optional (we didn't have any)

1. Combine chicken mince, fetta, garlic, parsley and lemon rind in a bowl. Mix well. With wet hands, divide mixture into eight and roll into sausage-shaped logs. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each sausage.
2. Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking oil spray and heat on medium. Cook sausages for 5 minutes, turning, until golden and cooked through. Serve with tomato chutney, if desired.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy December

Posted by MANDI at 8:35 PM 1 comments

I love December. There's my birthday, our wedding anniversary, the end of the school year, and of course my favourite time - Christmas. Lots of celebrating. Lots of great food. What's not to love?

And so, because it is the first day of December (and common sense dictates that I can't do it any earlier) we put up the Christmas tree today. What was supposed to be a family affair was narrowed down as Offsring #2 and Hubby slumbered the afternoon away and Offspring #1 and I just couldn't wait any longer. #2 arrived in the living room just as we plugged in the lights and promptly declared it to be a 'pitty teeeee' which when translated means a pretty tree. #1 decided it was beautiful and 'just perfect' and I'm pretty darn pleased with it too.

We put up a couple of the lights for outside but I don't think I'll be able to convince Hubby to put all of them up this year. Oh well, there's always next year...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Flying Visit

Posted by MANDI at 12:39 PM 3 comments

We had a flying visit from Grandpa yesterday. He was supposed to fly into Red Dirt Central in the morning, do a quick job then fly back to Perth in the afternoon. But we managed to convince him (and he in turn convinced the powers-that-be) to stay with us overnight and, as luck would have it, it was perfect timing. He was here for Offspring #1's end-of-year school concert.
This year they had a Christmas theme and the "little kids", ie the two kindy and two pre-primary classes, all sang "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" together. They had to wear their uniforms but were allowed to accessorise with a Santa hat. It was very cute to watch - half of them forgot the words, the music drowned out the rest of them and they muddled up all the carefully choreographed actions while the flashes on parents cameras lit up the amphitheatre and the whole school cheered and applauded the 'babies'.
We couldn't get a decent picture of Offspring #1 in the crowd but I think I recognise his hands (the little ones, about two thirds of the way down, right at the back) in the last picture!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Drive Time

Posted by MANDI at 6:06 PM 0 comments
I drove a five hour round trip today.
Two and a half hours up, a 6 hour meeting and forum, then two and half hours back to Red Dirt Central.
The meeting was worth the drive but it sure made for a long day. On the bright side I got to listen to a bunch of CD's I love without anyone complaining, wanting the music turned down or The Wiggles music put on instead! Gotta love that LOL.
Now I'm off to babysit for a friend. I have done a little bit of cooking during the week so I'll be back over the weekend to share some recipes.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Posted by MANDI at 9:49 PM 3 comments
I am here really, just working lots, settling into the new job, helping hubby write job applications, still tutoring three kids, not cooking anything very interesting and coping with minor childhood emergencies.
Offspring #1 closed the door a little more forcefully than was required and, unfortunately #2's thumb was in it! Much screaming, even more swelling and bruising, a quick trip to emergency, her first x-ray and home within 2 hours! I was impressed. And although it all ended well and all body part are intact she now has another cold. It's so unfair when it's hovering around 39C outside!
So, are you doing anything interesting?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

7 Random Facts

Posted by MANDI at 5:14 PM 3 comments
Mountain Mama at Careful What You Wish For has tagged me for a meme.I'm thrilled to have had the hand of blogging friendship extended to me but have had a really hard time coming up with the content required for the meme. So much so that this has sat in my draft box for a week or more.

So, here's the meme rules:

Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.

Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

And here's 7 random things about me:

1. I love lists. I write lists for everything - shopping lists, to do lists, how to lists, meal plan lists, - you name I'll write a list for it. I write a to-do list every single day. They usually have much the same thing on them (make beds, do dishes, etc) so I guess they are pretty useless but they make me feel good. On the days I don't write lists I feel like something is missing. And I usually end up forgetting to do stuff like return phone calls or pay bills that are due.
2. I suck at maths. I hate maths and numbers make my mind go kind of blank, then I have a really hard time concentrating and working out what I have to do let alone actually doing it. It's become more about my fear of getting it wrong and looking stupid than not actually being able to do it. It's annoying and dumb because it stops me doing stuff I like, like playing card games, because I get too worried about what other people will think if I don't add up the cards right.
3. I cook when I'm happy and I clean when I'm not. Of course, it's not quite that simple but that's kind of how it works. A flatmate from many many years ago worked this out quite quickly and totally used it to his advantage. It was lucky we'd been friends for a long time otherwise I think I would have had to hurt him LOL.
4. I love 80's music, the daggier the better. I tell myself it's because I was in high school in the 80's so it was when I was 'into' music but I secretly think I'd love the whole synthesizer-music and men-wearing-make-up thing no matter what decade it came from.
5. I only ever wear nail polish on my toe nails and I only wear two colours. Blood red in winter and bright blue in summer.
6. I never knew that The Village People were gay. It's true. My boyfriend-at-the-time told me when I was about 23 and I was totally shocked! He still laughs about it, as does my husband and just about everyone else who knows. Now you can all laugh too :)
7. I hate hanging washing on the line. I don't mind sorting it, loading the machine, unloading the machine or folding it when it's dry. I don't even mind ironing too much any more (once upon a time when I had money and no children I only bought 'dry clean only' clothes in order to avoid ironing) but I HATE hanging it on the line. Sadly, everyone in my house insists on wearing clothes so I have to keep washing them.
I'm supposed to tag 7 other bloggers but while I admire many, ready even more and leave comments on a few, I don't really know 7 that I could tag so, if you'd like to do the meme jump on in and let me know in the comments so I can come visit and find out all about you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Love Sydney!

Posted by MANDI at 9:40 PM 6 comments

I freely admit that the thought of flying to Sydney, leaving the kids and Hubby for a week and having to deal with luggage, airports and hotels had me FREAKING out! But... it turns out that I can handle it all just fine. Who knew? Okay, well most everyone except me, apparently LOL.

First up, the hotel in Sydney sucked big time. Considering how much the rooms cost per night I was expecting something a little better - let's just say the wallpaper was peeling, the tv didn't work, the shower didn't work properly, the maintenance people had to be called twice before they came and fixed the shower and three times before the tv was fixed and my room service dinner order was wrong. Add to that two of the most uncomfortable beds on the face of the earth - one had lumps all through it while the other while the other sunk in the middle so that I could hardly get out of it - not enough blankets and no extras in the room and you have some idea of the level of crapiness.

But... the city of Sydney was fabulous, gorgeous, bustling, friendlier than I expected and just full of life. I can't say I'd want to live there but it was a terrific place to visit and I can't wait to go back.

Here's a small sample of some of the millions of photos I snapped.

A view of the city from the harbour

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, taken from Circular Quay

And the Harbour Bridge, from out in the middle of the harbour

The Sydney Opera House, on a gorgeously sunny day

And a closer look at the Opera House, on a cold and rainy day.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to take this trip. It was a real learning experience, obviously from the work-side of things, but also personally. I stood on my own two feet, I found my way around a strange city (and yes, I did get lost but I found my way back to where I needed to be), I did some site-seeing, and I spent some time on my own. The last is a very rare luxury and I wasn't sure how I'd go with it. It can be quite daunting when you're used to being surrounded by people and are constantly putting their needs above your own. Not that I'm selfless and saintly by any means but anyone with kids knows what I mean, you get used to putting what you want at the bottom of the list and making time for yourself is something that doesn't happen very often. And do you know what I loved the most? That in the middle of a bustling, busy, modern city I found a space to be silent. There was no children's television, no radio blaring at me at 6am, no kids fighting/screeching/singing at the top of their lung, no phone ringing, no dog barking and it was bliss. They can all be joyful and joyous sounds but sometimes it's really nice to have a break from them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perth Was Great

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 6 comments
Mum and Dad met me at the airport and took me to my hotel. They waited while I checked in and then we went for a walk in the city. We checked out the Christmas decorations, avoided the druggies in the mall, oohed and aahed over window displays and generally caught up on family news. We had dinner together in the hotel restaurant - my lamb was delicious! - and then they headed home.
I can honestly recommend the Travel Lodge in Perth. It wasn't 5 star but it was a nice place to stay and the staff were great. By the third morning the girls on the breakfast shift greeted me by name, which was really nice when I was eating on my own and feeling just the tiniest bit lonely.

Here's my hotel room.

The bed was comfy, the blankets were warm enough (and there was an extra blanket in the cupboard - gotta love that) and everything worked.

Here's the view from my balcony (yep, I had a balcony!). First the view towards the city, although it misses all the tall buildings so I realise that it hardly looks very city-like to most of you.

And then, an even less city-like pic, facing the other way:

I had dinner with my girlfriends - more delicious food, lots of wine and lots of laughing - went shopping with my Mum, had Hungry Jacks for lunch (my weakness and the one junk food I always indulge in when in Perth) and, of course, worked. It was great to start the week in my home-town where I was comfortable and in familiar surrounds.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'm Home!

Posted by MANDI at 1:48 PM 3 comments
I'm finally home and absolutely exhausted.
The plane from Sydney on Friday night had mechanical problems and while we waited to see if they could be repaired, or if Qantas could get another plane for us, the airport curfew came and went so a plane-load of people ended up being sent to hotel rooms all around Sydney. I had been up since 6.30 that morning and finally made it into bed at 1.30 on Saturday morning. Then I got up at 5.30 to get back to the airport. This morning I was up at 4.30am to be at yet another airport to catch my final flight for the week - home at last!
The week was great, interesting, exhausting, exhilarating, a challenge, an achievement and something I'm really glad I did. But I'd love some sleep.
I'll be back tomorrow with pics and stories.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm Surviving

Posted by MANDI at 8:22 AM 2 comments
Here I am in the big smoke. Okay, well Perth isn't really all that big and the smog doesn't seem too bad but hey, there are traffic lights and lots of people and cars and buildings higher than two levels so it's pretty impressive LOL.
The work has been full on. It's a lot to get my head around but I'm writing everything down and then I'll sort through it all next week while I'm trying to put it all into action.
The hotel I'm staying in is good. The staff are all lovely, I know they are supposed to be but they are just friendly and pleasant and it makes for a pleasant stay. The food has been good - I have been trying to squeeze in a walk each day to make up for the amounts of hotel food being consumed.
Dinner with the girls on Monday night was excellent. Wine, great food and terrific company. I'm sure you all know how wonderful it is to catch up with friends you have known forever who you can just relax and be yourself with. I think we laughed out way through the whole evening and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I have been doing okay on my own but started to REALLY miss the kids last night - just a reaction to being really tired and feeling like my head is being hammered with information and I still have several more days to go. I do wish my plane tonight was taking me home to my babies instead of to the other side of the country but Hubby and Grandma are doing a great job at home and I do get to speak to everyone each day, usually twice a day.
I'm off to Sydney tonight and probably won't check in again till I'm home. Then I'll have lots of blogs to catch up on as well as lots of housework to do.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

See You Soon

Posted by MANDI at 10:17 AM 1 comments
The suitcase is packed, instructions have been given and I'm heading out of here.
I'll be home in a week so look out for news of my adventures, and hopefully some pics too, a couple of days after that. Grandma says to tell you that she'd blog for me but she doesn't know how.
Red Dirt Mummy

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Let's Go Indian

Posted by MANDI at 9:11 PM 0 comments
First off, thankyou to all who left comments, advice and general well-wishes on my last post. Your wise words and kind thoughts are very much appreciated. Grandma has arrived and I have handed over a veritable novel with regards to who needs to be where, when and with what, who will eat what and who won't, who needs an eye kept on them while drawing (hmm, that would be #2), who isn't allowed to take peanut butter sandwiches to school no matter how much he begs (yep, that would be #1) and who needs to be reminded that it's okay to slow down and not do everything at 100mph (and that would be Hubby!).

I'm off tomorrow and have come to a fatalistic kind of calmness - it's all going to happen anyway so I just need to chill and get on with it. I still have to pack in the morning but all the washing and ironing are done and I have been stockpiling bits and pieces in a corner of the bedroom for a couple of days so it shouldn't take too long - depending on who feels a need to help, of course ;-)

And, onto some food. Offspring #1 is learning about 'other countries' at school this term and has had lots of different parents in talking to the class about growing up in another country and, in some cases, cooking food from that country for the kids to try. Having two Australian-born parents of English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh descent, along with two sets of Australian-born grandparents is apparently very boring as we have nothing to add to the content and he thinks he is very hard done by LOL.

Earlier in the week the class tried Indian samosas and were given a copy of the recipe. #1 came out of class waving it at me and suggested (that's a nice way of saying DEMANDED) that I make samosas on the weekend and "then you can take a photo and put them on your blog, Mum. I'm pretty sure other people would like them too." So, in accordance with the wishes of my 5-year old, here are photos and a recipe for samosas. They were indeed delicious and everyone, from Grandma down to Offspring #2 thoroughly enjoyed them.

Vegetable Samosas
Ingredients for four very hungry people (although I think it would have served several more!)

60g ghee or butter (I used butter)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds (I only had leaves so used them)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I forgot it and didn't miss it)
1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder (I left this out and they were still great)
2 medium potatoes, finely shopped
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 heaped teaspoons of tomato paste
1 cup water
2 teaspoons of plain flour
1/4 cup of water
2 sheets of ready rolled short-crust pastry (see the note at the end*)

Heat ghee or butter in a frypan. Add onion, garlic, spices. Cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the potatoes, peas, cup of water and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Blend the flour with the 1/4 cup water. Pour this into the mix to thicken it. Allow mix to cool.
Cut each pastry sheet into four equal strips. When the mix is cool, ladle one teaspoon of mix onto the top of each strip.
Fold each strip of pastry in triangles, about four times, sealing the mix inside. Seal the last edge with water.
Deep fry the samosas, a few at a time until golden. Drain on absorbent towels. Alternatively, brush with oil and bake on a tray in a medium-hot oven (180C) for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve the samosas with yoghurt, sauce or chutney for dipping. (We had pots of yoghurt, tomato sauce and sweet chilli sauce to choose from and, as this was our dinner I also served a salad.)

*I ended up using 6 sheets of pastry. The recipe makes a huge amount of filling - I used two sheets of pastry as directed by the recipe and then made larger samosas with the other sheets, quartering the sheets. I ended up with 12 small samosas and 16 larger ones. Guess what my lot are having for tomorrow's dinner?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Full Steam Ahead

Posted by MANDI at 11:58 AM 9 comments
So, finally some news about my new job. A not-for profit organisation is opening a branch in Red Dirt Central and I'm going to be leading the branch. Actually, at the moment I don't have a team to lead so I am the branch but that's not a bad way to start. It's an organisation that aims to help disadvantaged children and young people access education and, among other things, I'll be setting up and overseeing scholarships, liaising with local schools with regards to programmes that they would like run (eg literacy and numeracy programmes, etc), working within the community to provide other programmes such as homework clubs and breakfast clubs, and doing lots of networking with lots of different organisations, businesses and anyone else I can think of!
It's an area I enjoy working in (way better than doing relief teaching!) and something I'm quite passionate about so I'm really looking forward to that. It's a step up from my old job in terms of leading a team, rather than having the deputy kind of role, and I'm really looking forward to that too.
And I'm totally terrified. I'm freaking out about everything I have to do and I'm especially freaking out about next week. I'm spending a couple of days in Perth for induction at a state level then I'm off to Sydney for a couple more for national induction. Because of all the travelling and the flight times I end up being away for seven days (oh and I did sneak in one day just for me, though since I get in at midnight the night before I don't feel too guilty about that one). I have had the odd night away from Offspring #1 - most noticeably when I was in hospital having #2, but I still got to see him everyday - but I've never spent a night away from #2. Luckily mum-in-law, aka Grandma, has agreed to come and help out with the offspring which is quite a relief. I know that Hubby can cope just fine with the kids and all that is needed but it's nice to know he has some back-up and that the kids have some-one to fall back on. Plus they get to spend a week with Grandma which is pretty exciting.
Offspring #1 had just one request - could I please go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and take a photo of it? I'm not sure that will be doable but I will definitely bring him back a picture of it, even if it's a postcard from the hotel lobby. Offspring #2 doesn't quite get it and we're not making a big deal of it - I figure next week will be hard enough for her without us talking it up before it all happens although we have told her that I'm going on a plane and that Grandma's coming to visit.
I have some pretty new work clothes which make me feel very grown up and responsible. I do love me some office-y type clothes and big heels.
I have a new suitcase. The old one was falling apart and would not have made it there, let along back again! It was also huge, and when full I couldn't lift it, so a suitcase I can wrangle on my own was required.
I've been to the library and got some books to read for the plane and at night in my hotel room(s).
I have started writing a billion lists for Hubby and Grandma for next week with details of who should be where, when, and what items they will need.
I've made huge batch of spaghetti sauce and frozen it in two lots. I've also made berry muffins for the freezer. I'll do a couple more things too before I go.
I've organised to have dinner with my bestest girlfriends while I'm in Perth.
I have started my list of 'what to take'. Yeah, the list making is genetic (hi Dad!) and part of the OCD too.
In the last couple of day I have lost nearly two kg's through sheer stress. This means my pretty new clothes will fit just perfectly and it also means that eating in restaurants and from room service for nearly a week shouldn't cause too many problems to my waistline!
So, any advice for someone who hasn't been on a plane by herself since about 15 years ago? Any advice for someone who hasn't been away from her husband for longer than about 3 days in over 11 years? Any advice for someone who has never really been away from her kids and certainly never far away? Any advice for someone who is not-so-slowly going out of her mind?
What have I forgotten? What do I need to know? Anything at all would be good.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Better Than I Expected

Posted by MANDI at 8:56 PM 6 comments

Do you ever look at a recipe and think it looks good, then go to make it and think that it might not be so great after all? That's what I did with this one. Happily, the end result was quite tasty and I was pleasantly surprised. The kids scarfed it down, even Ms Picky (aka Offspring #2), so I think it's fair to say that I'd consider making it again. The original recipe is for 8 so I halved it (although I wasn't especially careful with with measurements, sorry) and still had leftovers - guess what the kids are having for dinner tomorrow night? I used half of a cooked chook from the supermarket but if you had leftover chicken from last night's roast dinner this would be a perfect way to use it up. I also cooked mine a little longer than suggested, only because I made it earlier this afternoon and then threw it in the fridge for a few hours so it needed to be properly heated through.

Chicken and Vegetable Pasta Bake
Good Taste, August 2007

Serves 8

1 tbs olive oil
1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
2 corncobs, husks and silk removed, kernels removed (I used a couple of handfuls of frozen peas and corn instead)
2 zucchini, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed (I used the jarred variety)
300g dried risoni pasta
1 large roast chicken, skin and bones removed, meat shredded
1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup coarsely grated cheddar

Bechamel sauce
60g butter
1/3 cup plain flour
3 cups milk, warmed
2/3 cup coarsely grated cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, corn kernels, zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
3. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for one minute or until the mixture bubbles. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until well combined. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar.
4. Preheat oven to 190C. Add the pasta, bechamel sauce and chicken to the zucchini mixture and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 3 litre (12cup) capacity ovenproof dish.
5. Combine the breadcrumbs and cheddar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pasta mixture. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Reading Material

Posted by MANDI at 7:57 PM 3 comments
Just in case you don't have enough blogs to visit, here are a few more that I've been loving lately and will be adding to my sidebar when I get a chance. It might not be real soon though as things here are a little hectic. I can't make the links a different colour so they show up all pretty-like so just hold your cursor over the name of the blog and click on it to link over and have a read. (Edited to add: YAY!! I made it work so now the links are a different colour and you can find then real easily.)
Mountain Mama visited here a while ago and, as a matter of courtesy, I popped over to check out her site. I love it. She's on the other side of the country to me in a gorgeous country town and shares bits about her life and some lovely photos too. Go check out the tornado that just swept through her town - wow!
Iris is in Germany and I have been reading her blog for a while now. She loves Australia, she's funny and she lives a completely different life to me - all good reasons that I enjoy reading Double-Half.
Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice is one of the original Daring Bakers and she makes the most fabulous food and provides gorgeous photos too. Even if you're not big on baking, this one is worth visiting simply for the drool factor! You can also check out The Daring Bakers blogroll to see all the results from the participant's latest challenge.
And finally, a relatively new blog that has just been bought to my attention by Karen at Bitstop is Rock Recipes. Again, the drool factor is unavoidable and there is a nice mix of recipes on there.
Hope you enjoy browsing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sweet and Chewy

Posted by MANDI at 2:53 PM 3 comments
I made this slice the other day and we all enjoyed it. This is very sweet and also a bit rich so cut it into smaller than normal pieces and they should be just right.

A tip: If you're storing this in the fridge, like we are in this 37C heat, pull it out of the fridge about 5 minutes before you want to eat it so it's chewy rather than rock hard!

Choc, Apricot and Almond Slice
Woman's Day, April 30, 2007

125g butter, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 cups rolled oats
100g milk chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra 40g, melted
1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat oven to moderately slow, 160C. Lightly grease and line an 18 x 28cm slice pan.
2. Combine butter, sugar and golden syrup in a medium pan. Stir over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until sugar dissolves.
3. Transfer butter mixture to a large bowl. Add oats, chocolate, flour, apricots and almonds. Mix well.
4. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until golden.
5. Once slice is cold, drizzle with remaining melted chocolate. Allow to set. Cut into serving size pieces and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Here's another recipe that has been in the Ugly Binder for a while. I kept putting it off because of Offspring #2's hatred of pumpkin but finally decided to make it and pull the pumpkin bits out of her serving. Defeatist, I know, but I am sick of fighting with the kids at dinner time. They are generally very good but they both have a stubborn streak about a mile wide (hmmm... now where could that have come from??? LOL) and they are being fussy and painful at the moment.

Hubby and I really enjoyed this. It was tasty, easy and used up the leftover chicken quite nicely. Offspring #1 was very tired and being a big grump so I'm not going to count his opinion as I know that generally he would like this sort of dish. #2? Yeah, she lived up to expectations and ate the cheese out of the salad.

I had some of the leftovers for lunch and it is just as yummy cold the next day. I'll make this one again. Oh, and the photo? No, the vege bake isn't sitting on newspaper, the baking dish is clear glass and that is sitting on the newspaper!

Di's Vege Bake
Super Food Ideas, February 2007

Serves 6

5 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 carrot, peeled, grated (they were small so I used 2)
1 zucchini, trimmed, grated
4 green onions, finely chopped (didn't have any so I diced a brown onion and sauteed it with some dried mixed herbs)
150g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 1cm cubes
4 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used about 10 button mushrooms)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (didn't add this, see the note about the onion)

I also used the leftover chicken meat from the previous nights roasted chicken pieces. I guess I added about 1 1/2 cups worth.

1. Preheat oven to 190C. Grease a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square baking dish.
2. Whisk eggs and oil together in a jug. Combine flour, cheese, carrot, zucchini, onions, pumpkin, mushrooms and parsley (and the leftover chicken meat) in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add egg mixture and stir to combine.
3. Spoon vegetable mixture into prepared dish. Smooth surface. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden and set. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Dear!

Posted by MANDI at 10:49 AM 6 comments
You know what kind of a day it is when you don't realise that the batteries you just threw into the rubbish bin were the rechargeables. And if you don't fish them out Hubby is going to go ballistic (because it's not the first, or even the second, time you've done this). So you find yourself sorting through such delights as last night's chicken bones, chopped up bits of lettuce, fusty bits of cheese, the contents of your purse that you cleaned out this morning and more soggy teabags than you care to remember... and that's the recognisable bits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Not Too Much To Report

Posted by MANDI at 7:45 PM 3 comments
Not much happening here today. Well, to qualify that statement there is actually heaps happening and we have been flat out but nothing of much interest LOL. Offspring #2 has yet another cold, at least I know she's not got an infection as she's already on antibiotics for something else. She was set to go to day-care tomorrow but she won't be going now. Luckily my new job hasn't started yet so it's just a heap of money down the drain rather than one of us having to take time off to look after her. Ah, back to the joys of day-care LOL. She's also having 'sleep issues' (that's the polite term, you really don't want to know what I think of it in the middle of the night) and for the past week and a bit has decided that she will be awake all night (don't worry -she's in her bed, not wandering the house!) to finally falls asleep at 3am, in time for her brother to leap out of bed around 5.30! A red dirt tired mummy equals a red dirt grumpy mummy and it's not pretty. She still definitely needs her day-time sleep, without it she's beyond feral by about 4.30 and asleep at the table by 6pm, so we'll let her get over her cold and then start working on sleeping at night THE WAY WE WANT!

I did manage to start on a bunch more alphabet ornaments today while Her Highness napped (two and a half blessed hours!). I got some more beads yesterday and have a few more colours to work with now. I'll post more photos when I get some finished.
The weather is warming up but it's still quite pleasant. Night-time temps are around 20C - warm enough for a fan but not so warm that it's hard to sleep - and day-time temps have been hovering in the mid-30's. I have decided that 34C is really nice but an extra two degrees makes a huge difference. It helps that the humidity hasn't risen too much yet, that will come in another month or so.

Here are some pics of the kids on their respective trampolines. #2 loves the big trampoline but, obviously, it's a bit big for her so Grandma and Grandpa gave her a little one for her birthday. She LOVES it and shrieks "dump, dump" with every jump. Very cute but also very noisy, especially when her ever-helpful big brother joins in!

And here's one of them dancing in the backyard. A shame the music was only in their heads, although they did appear to be dancing to the same tune LOL.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Christmas Already?

Posted by MANDI at 9:37 PM 3 comments
I went scrapbooking Friday night and started on my Christmas decorations. I make an ornament of some sort every year for each of the kids and this year I decided to try one I had seen on a website somewhere - I can't link to it as I saw the idea a couple of years ago and made a quick note on a scrap of paper without taking down the website. These were very simple and I think they ended up looking really great. They just need a quick coat of fixative/varnish (I'm cheating and using a spray, I think two or three coats should do the trick) and they'll be done.

I like them so much I'm thinking about making a bunch more and selling them at the up-coming Christmas Craft Markets up here. What do you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Posted by MANDI at 1:25 PM 7 comments
We had friends around for a BBQ last night, there were five kids all under 6 so I was aiming for something fairly simple but nice at the same time. I made the same old potato bake as usual but used a different brand of tinned soup - I won't be doing that again. I didn't even think about it making that much of a difference but the flavour was completely different and, while everyone else eat it happily, I wasn't impressed. I also made another pavlova but this time I topped the cream with a couple of smashed up Crunchies (choc-coated honeycomb chocolate bar, just in case they go by a different name elsewhere in the world).

It was seriously decadent and absolutely delicious. I wouldn't do it everytime but it was nice for something different. To go along with the meal I decided to try yet another recipe I have been eyeing off for some time. It is a bread recipe, with a slight twist, and although there are quite a few steps and it does take several hours it is absolutely worth the time and effort. Light, airy, delicious and a real crowd pleaser. I will be making this again and I'll be trying all sorts of variations for the filling - I'm thinking ham and cheese, herb and and garlic, and maybe olive tapenade. You could easily do it with Vegemite too but I'm not a big fan of vegemite scrolls so I don't think I'd like it too much in here either. If you have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Onion and Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread.
Madison, July 2007

8g sachet of instant dried yeast (I used a 7g sachet)
2teaspoons, sugar
1 cup (250ml) milk, lukewarm
2 3/4 cups (400g) plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
75g butter, melted
25g butter, solid
350g red onions, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan

1. Place the yeast, sugar and 60ml of the milk into a small bowl and leave for 5 minutes or until yeast mixture starts to foam.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture, remaining milk, egg and melted butter.
3. Mix together until a loose dough forms, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth.
4. Lightly grease a bowl with some oil and add the dough, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (I got caught up doing other stuff and mine ended up rising for closer to 2 hours).
5. Melt solid butter in a pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 20 minutes or until soft and caramelised, set aside to cool.
6. Knock the down down and knead lightly. Then using a rolling pin, roll the dought into a 35cm x 25cm rectangle. Sprinkle with parmesan and scatter with the onions.
7. Starting with a long side, evenly roll the dought up into a log shape, trim the edges, cut into 11 pieces and place into a greased 20cm pie time. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise a gain for 45 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 170C.
9. Brush with a little melted butter, sprinkle with sea sat and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's All About Me.

Posted by MANDI at 9:24 AM 4 comments
As if you were in any doubt!
WARNING: self-indulgent dribbley post ahead. Feel free to skip today and come back tomorrow.

It's a funny day for me. Offspring #1 is at school and Offspring #2 has gone off to her second day at child-care. I have a new job (more on that in later posts when I have more details) which won't start for another week or so and I'm sitting in a house all alone. And it will be this way until 2.30 this afternoon.

This hasn't happened in... well since I was pregnant with #2 and so sick that #1 had to go to child-care because I couldn't look after him on my own while Hubby was at work.

It's a really odd feeling. I have been a SAHM for the past two-years and, despite my misgivings at times, I have really enjoyed it. I have been defined by my kids for all that time and today they aren't here. I'm at a bit of a loose end. The house is relatively clean, and while the living room could do with a vacuum my OCD is ramping up at all the changes that are taking place and I'm not sure I'd be able to stop at just vacuuming so I'll wait till tomorrow when everyone is home and I'm more pressed for time. I'm well aware of my OCD triggers and, having dealt with a bit of craziness not that long ago, am working hard on not letting it take over.

Offspring #1 is coping pretty well with the proposed changes. We had a couple of practice runs this week of me walking him to his class then kissing him goodbye and leaving rather than going in with him and doing puzzles, etc, together. Offspring #2 was not thrilled with child-care on Wednesday. As I left she was screaming, "no, my mummy." It was heartbreaking but to put a positive spin on it, it was her first proper sentence so her language skills are developing! I figure I'd better laugh at this stuff or I'll cry myself silly and never go back to work. She is an independant, inquisitive and friendly little person and I am totally confident that she will love daycare when she gets used to it. She has never been far away from me and moving here meant a real lack of babysitters so she's never really had anyone else look after her. Once she gets used to the new routine, understands that I'm not deserting her and I will be back this afternoon, and that it is only three days a week so she'll still have Mummy all to herself a couple of days of the week I know that she'll love her daycare as much as #1 loved his. Of course none of this is actually helping me right now!
The dumbest thing is that I'm soooooooo ready to be working. I need to do something with my brain, I need to do stuff where people do what I tell them to (rather than them throwing a screaming tantrum on the kitchen floor and telling me I'm a "bery bad mummy"), and I need to get back into the workplace for my own sense of worth. I love being a mum but I can't say I love being JUST a mum. I know there is no such thing as JUST a mum, so don't flame me, I mean that the role of 'mum' while fulfilling, isn't quite fulfilling enough for me. I admire, even envy, women who want to be with their kids all day and get such a sense of self-worth from that role. I don't feel that way and I'm okay with it. I really feel like I have been incredibly lucky to have been able to have this time at home with the kids, and that was partly possible because of our decision to move to Red Dirt Central so for all my whinging about living here - if we didn't I would have been back at work well over 12 months ago.
For the positive spin:
- I'm really looking forward to my new job, what I can achieve in it, and the new challenges I'm going to face;
- Offspring #1 is doing well at school, he is feeling secure and his confidence is steadily growing;
- Offspring #2 is an independant, inquisitive and friendly little person who will settle into daycare quite happily, once she gets used to it.
- Hubby's looking forward to the second income :)
Thanks for being my free therapy session today!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Like Mother...

Posted by MANDI at 8:58 PM 3 comments

Like daughter!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Simply Wonderful

Posted by MANDI at 7:46 PM 4 comments
I have only attempted to make a sponge cake once before and, let's just say that it wasn't a raging success. I don't have that 'lightness of hand' that is so necessary for fluffy sponges and it took many many many attempts before I mastered the art of scones. I don't think it helped much that a certain eldest offspring of mine was determined to "help stir" the sponge mixture and his hand is most definitely not light LOL.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached this recipe. I'd torn it from a magazine half planning to make it and half dreaming that it might magically spring from the page ready-made. I finally worked up the courage and decided to take it for dessert to a bbq with friends. Oh my, this is simply wonderful.

The sponge was so fluffy and light - everything you could want in a sponge. It wasn't difficult to make and the couple of extra steps added so much to the end result that it was well worth the effort. I have to say that, while it was lovely for dessert, it really came into it's own the next day (we all ended up with a little bit of the leftovers) when the flavour of the filling had worked through the cake. This is a delightfully delicious addition to my repertoire and I'll be trotting it out again, I just have to work out when.

Mascarpone and Fig Sponge
(Pan di Spagna con Fichi e Mascarpone)
Australian Table, July 2006

5 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1 cup fig jam

Mascarpone Filling
2 eggwhites
500g mascarpone, at room temperature
2 tablespoon icing sugar, plus extra icing sugar to dust

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and lightly flour a 24cm springform pan.
2. Using an electric beater, beat egg yolks and half of the caster sugar for 5 minutes, until pale and thick. Gently fold twice-sifted flour and cornflour through yolk mixture.
3. Using an electric beater, beat eggwhites until soft peaks form. Beat in remaining caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until thick and glossy. Fold into yolk mixture. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool.
4. To make Mascarpone Filling, beat eggwhites using an electric mixer until firm peaks form. Gently fold mascarpone and icing sugar through eggwhites. Using a serrated brad knife, cut cake into three layers. Spread half of jam over base and top with half of Mascarpone filling. Repeat layers once more, finishing with top of cake. Dust with extra icing sugar before serving.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's A Winner

Posted by MANDI at 8:58 PM 3 comments
I put off making this lasagne dish for three weeks because I assumed that it would be difficult and that the kids probably wouldn't like it anyway. Offspring #2 is being particularly fussy at the moment and it's driving me a bit nuts. It's all typical two-year-old behaviour but, my goodness, does it get on my nerves when I have chosen a recipe I'm sure she'll love only for her to have a taste, say "nooooooooo" or even worse, "yuk" (pretty much guaranteed to make my blood boil) and push it away. Anyway, I finally bit the bullet and tried this one out and it was delicious and really simple to make. It took me about an hour and a half from grabbing out the chopping board to putting the meal on the table but you could easily prepare it the night before. Hubby and I loved it and Offspring #1 polished his off and asked for seconds so I knew I was on a winner there. #2 did well until she came across the pumpkin, which she has decided is the foulest vegetable known to man, after which she refused to eat any more. Sadly for her, I love pumpkin so it tends to find it's way into any number of dishes and she's just going to have to get used to it!

Here's the recipe. I'm giving it to you as it appeared in the magazine but I halved it which fed the four of us for one night and left enough for dinner for Hubby and I the next night. I forgot to add the onion but we didn't miss it, so I won't bother to put it in next time round.

Vegetable and Ricotta Lasagne
Australian Table, July 2007

1 medium kumara, peeled, sliced
400g pumpkin, peeled, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 large onion, sliced
2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthways
2 carrots, sliced lengthways
3 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced
575g jar bolgnese pasta sauce
1 kg ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 packet instant lasagne sheets

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Cook vegetables in a steamer over boiling water on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft.
2. Cover base of a 12-cup baking dish with one-third of vegetables. Season to taste with a little salt and a good griding of black pepper.
3. top with one-third each of pasta sauce, ricotta, parmesan and lasagne sheets. Repeat layers, finishing with parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve with mixed salad leaves.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Look What Happens...

Posted by MANDI at 5:24 PM 3 comments
When Dad takes you for a haircut.

According to Offspring #1 the barber was "a bit crazy" and instead of one spike he gave him two! Don't worry, it's only gel and the haircut underneath (while a little shorter than I would have asked for!) is quite normal. Oh, and the grubbiness around his face? Mostly peanut butter with a dash of jam. More influences from his Dad!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to...

Posted by MANDI at 10:34 PM 4 comments

Our beautiful Max had his tenth birthday today and what else could we do but celebrate?

He received gifts of tennis balls, homemade cards and pictures from his human brother and sister and a lovely juicy bone.
We also made a birthday cake for the human members of the family. It was a chocolate fudge cake that was a little disappointing taste-wise but it looked great.

And if the applause and general noise level was any indication, the cheer squad was impressed.

We even had some friends over to help blow out the candles and join in the party.

Yeah we're kind of insane, but in a good way!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What A Fantastic Holiday!

Posted by MANDI at 1:16 PM 8 comments
We're back, obviously! We had the best time. There was lots of relaxing, several afternoon naps for the whole family, lots of playing on the beach, animal sightings and just heaps of fun!

We stayed in a lovely villa.

It had everything we needed and lots of room to spread out.

It even had a spa, which the kids thought was a terrific swimming pool.

The kids did get colds while we were away and we had a couple of less than restful nights but nice long naps the next day helped. The weather was gorgeous - 5 or so degrees cooler than here, so around 30C, and quite cool at night. I hadn't packed any cool weather stuff and have to admit that I wouldn't have minded a pull-over one or two nights.

Offspring #1 was hugely excited to see emus (yeah, we thought it was pretty good too!). They come right into town as the weather warms up and can be quite a nuisance. We saw a couple in town, in people's front yards, but this lot were just on the outskirts.

#1 was also excited to see kangaroos from his bedroom window each morning. In fact he was so excited that he had to wake us up and tell us all about it... at 5.30 in the morning! We were slightly less excited LOL.

We spent lots of time playing at the beach. We went down to Coral Bay, which is about an hour south of Exmouth and is just gorgeous. Sadly my batteries died as we got there and of course I'd left the spare set at the villa :( However we also visited beaches close to Exmouth where the boys had a go at fishing (no luck) and #2 and I played in the shallows and built sand castles. At this spot the tide was out and we had a shallow little pool sheltered by a ring of coral, beyond that was the beautiful aqua water which was protected by another ring of coral, hence the name The Coral Coast.

Hubby, Offspring #2 and I have come home with lovely golden tans - I think #2 just needs to walk past the window to tan up, she certainly doesn't get her colouring from me - but #1, despite all the time he spent outside, is still our Neon Boy with his blindingly white little body. I always thought I had fair skin but his defies all of the sun's attempts. We were all covered in sun-screen and wore our rashies and hats at all times. Here we see Neon Boy with his beloved sister/ arch nemesis, Brown Girl in the Tub

We had bbq's and bought fish and chips, went out for dinner, played mini-golf and ate ice-creams.

We went for lovely walks, did lots of sight-seeing and had an absolute ball.

We haven't crossed Exmouth off our list of holiday destinations because... we loved it so much we're planning to go back.

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