Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And Then They Need Removing

Posted by MANDI at 5:18 PM 4 comments
The temporary tattoos, that is!
I went googling and found the answer was really very simple:
We took some clear scotch tape, stuck it over the tattoo(s), and ripped it off. Don't worry, scotch tape isn't sticky enough to hurt- only sticky enough to remove temporary tattoos! Then a gentle wipe or two with a cotton ball dabbed with olive oil and... no more tattoo!
Offspring #2 is now clean and innocent looking again. Offspring #1 begged for a reprieve so the tatt's on his face are gone but he still has a few on his arms and chest. That however is for one more day only.
I love the internet most of the time but there are days, like today, when I really really love it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Not Quite How We'd Planned It

Posted by MANDI at 9:03 PM 3 comments
Sadly, all of our Australia Day long weekend plans fell through. Offspring #2 has a rotten cold and, what we suspect was, a nice case of croup too. We did have grand plans for a barbie in the back yard to celebrate Australia Day - great food, good friends and oodles of kids to make lots of noise and generally keep things celebratory, but alas it was not to be. I'm not sure who was most disappointed, Offspring #1 or me!
However, to help alleviate the disappointment (somewhat) we 'partied' on our own. Hubby found the fake tattoos and plastered himself and the kids. Yes, he managed to get me too.

We dressed up the table, making good use of the patriotic paraphernalia we'd bought.

And enjoyed a dinner of bbq'd lamb chops, fresh rolls and a quick salad.

It wasn't quite what we'd planned but it was still nice and we still got to do our Australia Day "thing".
I hope yours was fun, however you celebrated.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh Dear

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 4 comments
I made some chocolate chip cookies yesterday and most of them are gone! They were chewy ones and we all liked them a lot. Unfortunately I can't find the recipe I used - it was a tiny scrap of paper torn from a magazine - which upsets me somewhat because I wanted to use it for tonight's post but mostly because the cookies are great and I want to make them again!

Oh well, here's a photo anyway.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back In The Red Dirt... Again

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 3 comments
I had a really successful trip to Perth and have arrived back feeling much calmer and with some plans and direction. I have a shocking (okay, non-existent) sense of direction and did manage to get lost at least once every single day - which is even funnier when you consider that, apart from a few years in various mining towns around the state, I have lived in Perth my whole life! Yes, the entire WA team laughed themselves silly. Then they kindly gave me detailed directions of exactly how I needed to get to where-ever I needed to go next, usually still laughing!

I managed to catch up with four friends - they were rushed visits but at least I got to see them (Hi A, D, P and N!), went out for dinner with my parents, bought pressies for Hubby and the kids and fitted in a huge amount of work too. Anyway, as a result of more sleep, less stress and a general sense of wellbeing I headed for the kitchen today and baked myself silly - a batch of choc-chip cookies, banana bread and an egg and bacon pie for dinner! I wouldn't like you all to fall over in shock so I'll just share one tonight ;) It's an old favourite that was wonderful when we had chooks and always had eggs that needed using. I have no idea where the recipe is from so can't credit anyone with it, sorry. The recipe says to just use one sheet of pastry on the top of the pie but I usually line the dish with pastry as well as giving it a lid. I still use the corn flake crumbs, on top of the pastry lining the bottom of the dish.

Egg and Bacon Pie

8 bacon rashers (slices)
1 tablespoon corn flake crumbs
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
8 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten lightly, extra (I use milk instead)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, option

Cut the rind and fat from the bacon. Grill bacon until browned lightly on both sides; drain on absorbent paper. Cut each bacon rasher into 3 pieces.
Sprinkle crumbs over base and side of an oiled 23cm pie dish, Place half the cheese, bacon and chives in the dish.
Break and egg into a small dish; gently pour unbeaten egg into pastry case. Repeat with remaining eggs; season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining bacon, chives and cheese.
Lift pastry sheet carefully onto pie; trim edge of pastry by pressing with and upturned teaspoon. Brush pastry with extra egg (or milk); sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a moderate oven (180C) for about 35 minutes or until browned lightly.

Serves 4 (if they are huge strapping men who haven't eaten in a week, or 6-8 if you serve it to people with a normal appetite and put a salad on the table too!)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm Leaving...

Posted by MANDI at 8:05 AM 0 comments
... on a jet plane. In about an hour!
Yep, I'm off to Perth for work for the promised assistance. I'll be back Wednesday night so look out for a new post towards the end of the week.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Best Hubby!

Posted by MANDI at 3:38 PM 2 comments
As I said in the last post this has been a rotten week at work. It has been quite stressful and not terribly pleasant and, quite frankly, I fully intended to resign more than once. But... some sound advice, the promise of some useful assistance this week, and lots of support from Hubby have got me through. I came in from work on Tuesday exhausted, quite upset and not really able to see a way to the surface. My stomach was churning, I felt quite ill and the last thing I wanted to do was have to come in and cook dinner, deal with the kids and do the bedtime routine. To say that Hubby stepped up to the plate would be a massive understatement. Before I even had my shoes off he had a glass of wine poured for me, he dealt with the kids the whole night AND cooked a wonderful dinner! He used the mince I'd grabbed out of the freezer and searched through my recipe books for something that we had the ingredients for. He ended up using a book that was published while we were both still in primary school and it could only be described as "retro" but it proves that some of the less fashionable (and less pretty) cookbooks really hold up over time.

So, here's the fabulous meal that Hubby made. He said it was easy, I say it was delicious!

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wonderful Ways To Prepare Italian Dishes by Marion Mansfield
Serves 4

250g minced (ground) beef
250g salami, minced (he used the sliced salami and chopped it up quite small)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 egg
dry breadcrumbs (didn't have any int he cupboard so he made fresh ones- after ringing me to find out how LOL)
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons basil
2 cups hot beef stock
375g spaghetti
boiling salted water

Combine meat, salami, grated cheese, parsley and egg to a soft mixture, form into small balls and roll in breadcrumbs. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add meat balls and cook, turning until browned on all sides, lift out, drain and keep warm.

Heat remaining oil and the butter in a flameproof casserole (he just used a frypan) . Add onion and saute until transparent. Add tomatoes and basil, over and cook over low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meat balls and hot stock to the casserole (frypan), baste well, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 minutes or until tender, drain well, add to the casserole, gently stir through and serve.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blocks, blocks and more blocks.

Posted by MANDI at 9:06 PM 3 comments

Can you guess the latest obsession to hit our house?

Ignore the glass of wine in the background. It, obviously, does not belong to the young builder!Rather is it s mine after a particularly horrible week at work where a number of things have come to a head. It's messy, it's stressy and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this by time next week some of it will be resolved.

Monday, January 14, 2008

That's Cheating!

Posted by MANDI at 8:57 PM 3 comments
Here's an ice-cream recipe from the December issue of delicious. magazine. It's totally a cheat's version; quick, simple and yummy! The flavour was a little too strong for my taste but I'll do it again next year with a couple less fruit mince pies. As you can see from the picture, layering it with plain vanilla ice-cream works well too. If you like cookies-and-cream ice-cream you'll probably like this one.

Basically you take two litres of good quality vanilla ice-cream and let it soften a little. Then grab about 9 fruit mince pies and throw them, along with the ice-cream into a blender or food processor. Give it a whizz so that the pies are broken up and the ice-cream is good and smooshed without getting too runny. Put it into a container and stick it back in the freezer for about 4-5 hours. I didn't make the whole two litres worth, just a quarter or so of that was fine for us. For what it's worth, I think it would be fabulous with some sort of chocolate sauce!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

She's Pretty!

Posted by MANDI at 10:38 PM 5 comments
I haven't had a minute to think since we've been home from holidays. This week's a bit crazy but then it should calm down a bit and, hopefully, settle back into something approaching normal. I didn't have time to be adventurous with the cooking last week so we re-visited some favourites from last year including Bill Granger's coriander-crumbed lamb cutlets and a yummy chicken and asparagus casserole. We have had the lamb cutlets several times and all love them and the return of the casserole was warmly welcomed.

We have had ridiculously high temps up here in the last few days - we even hit 47C the other day! That was just revolting, but to make up for it we had a good shower of rain and a quite spectacular lightning storm last night. We had the air-con on, the doona on and listened to the rain on the roof. Aarrrhhhh! The we kicked the doona off because it was too darn hot LOL.

Over the weekend I put off a lot of household chores and moved furniture around instead. Our bedroom has been re-arranged and now provides a heap more space. I even moved a bookcase full of my books that had been languishing behind the playhouse in #2's room into our room. I can read my books again! Actually, it made me kind of sad to realise just how many books I got rid of when we moved up here (and I think it make hubby sad to realise how many more I have bought!). I also attacked #2's bedroom which constantly feels like it's about to explode from all the stuff in there. The playhouse is in her room because it's too hot for it to be outside and there's also nowhere for it to go outside that would be on the lawn and in the shade! But I took the roof off it (long story, don't ask!) - #1 was pleased because he can stand up in it now - moved all the furniture in her room around three times and eventually ended up with something she and I can live with. Now I just have to attack my wardrobe and then #1's bedroom but they have to be done in a somewhat stealthy manner while the males in the family are elsewhere - shhhhh!
In the midst of the mayhem Offspring #2 decided that she needed to be pretty, or "pwitty" as she says. This was the result.

The lack of clothing has me a little concerned but at least I could find her - she jangled with every movement!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Trip To The Zoo

Posted by MANDI at 8:48 PM 4 comments
As you know we visited the Perth Zoo on our recent trip. We hadn't been for a couple of years and Offspring #1 is just the best age to enjoy outings like this right now. He is amazed and awed by things that we take for granted and really gives us a new way of looking at things. We weren't entirely sure that we could squeeze the zoo visit into the itinerary so we didn't mention it to the kids until we were in the car and on the way there. To say that #1 was thrilled would be an understatement LOL. He has a couple of sayings that totally crack us up - usually they are stolen from his Dad, originally come from movies, and are totally mangled by the time he processes and translates them into #1'isms. We knew the level of his excitement when he kept saying, "tell him he's dreaming!" each time louder than the time before. (Bonus points if you know the movie and don't come from Australia) He also exclaimed that we was "completely incited" and then informed us that, "apparently they have lots of inciting animals".

We decided to hire a little buggy for the kids. Hubby felt that it would be easier all round and he'd rather drag that around that have to piggy-back either kid all day long. The kids thought they were royalty and waved at everyone they saw. They also climbed in and out so much that I think they did more walking than if we'd walked around the whole zoo twice.

I think it's fair to say that the African Savannah area was our favourite. In no particular order, we saw...
Tricia the elephant cooling herself down. Although you can't see it in the picture, she has a terrific pool to wallow in and the public look down, over a waterfall of sorts, onto her in this enclose. She isn't in here all day long and it is much nicer than this photo shows. Offspring #1 was thrilled to see an elephant 'in real life' while #2 spent about 10 minutes being amazed by the water before she jumped about a foot in the air and noticed the bloody enormous elephant right in front of us!

Zebras grazing.

The brand new baby giraffe and her mummy. Offspring #1 has a long love for giraffes so he thought this was great - the baby and her mum had also been in the newspaper a couple of days earlier so he thought that was pretty cool too.

The rhinos snoozing in the shade.

Of course, we saw lots of other animals too but I didn't take many photos. It was a stinking hot day but we had lots of fun with the kids They are still talking about our trip to the zoo so I figure it was a success.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

So, We're A Little Odd..

Posted by MANDI at 9:18 PM 5 comments
I know, I know! As if you didn't know that already LOL.

Anyway, we have a few Christmas traditions. Some are fun, some are sweet, some are silly and one is just plain ewwwww. You know how most everyone leaves a snack for Santa? And lots of people leave a snack for the reindeer? And usually Santa's snack has been eaten and there is a plate of crumbs for the kids to discover in the morning? And sometimes the carrots will have been "chewed" up and some of it will have dropped in the yard? Well, ours goes just a step further than that. The reindeer leave evidence that they have been. That they stopped right outside our house, or in the case of this Christmas they stopped outside Nan and Pop's house. Yep. You guessed it. Our Christmas tradition is reindeer poo!

That was at 6.30 on Christmas morning. Offspring #1 is pointing to the skid marks that Santa's sleigh made as it stopped on the road while Offspring #2 is just amazed at all the poo!

Hmmm... can you tell this is a totally staged shot? LOL.

And finally, checking the skies to see if Santa is still around.

Aahhhh, you gotta love it (or just be really revolted - whatever works for you).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year

Posted by MANDI at 8:59 PM 6 comments
It's a belated greeting but we're finally back in Red Dirt Central after a whirlwind couple of weeks.

We had a great holiday. We caught up with family and friends, shopped, celebrated, drank and ate, fought fires, did lots of tourist-y type things with the kids and have come home absolutely exhausted. We've unpacked and I'm working my way through the washing, the kids have been busy finding homes for all their new toys and joyously greeting their old ones after a two-week absence (was it really only two weeks?!) and hubby has put up the shade sails and returned everything to it's rightful place in the yard while nursing a summer cold. I also returned to work today so have spent the day doing the 5 hour round trip to Port Red Dirt, just what I needed after the two-day drive back to Red Dirt Central!

First of all we had a wonderful Christmas. The kids were spoilt rotten. We gave Offspring #1 a new bike as he had rather outgrown his old one and Offspring #2 got a Dora art desk. Both were a big hit. Santa was also very generous giving #1 an electric racing car track and #2 a Wiggles guitar along with a very full stocking of bits and bobs each. I was also very spoilt and received a new mobile phone - completely unexpected and absolutely wonderful - a Bill Granger cookbook I had asked for and a 2 year subscription to delicious. magazine.

It was wonderful to see all the family. We visited my brother's new farm two hours south of 'home' and got to admire all the hard work he and my sister-in-law have put into renovating the farm-house. They have done a spectacular job and I am both deeply impressed and insanely envious, especially over the gorgeous kitchen. There was a total movement ban because of the high temps the day we were there so we didn't get to have a look over the farm but the air-conditioned living room was pretty darn fine by me LOL. We also caught up with as many friends as we could - sadly we didn't get to see everyone we wanted to but time got away from us - and the kids had a wonderful time playing with all the other kids they have grown up with.

I had to limit my shopping this year as we had to fit everything onto the roof-rack but I still did pretty well. I got a few new bits and pieces for the kitchen, a slow cooker being my new pride and joy, as well as clothes, shoes and stuff for the kids. I also managed to pick up a few scrapbooking supplies at various stores and was quite shocked when we arrived home to see just how much I had collected. Oh well, at least I know I'll use them all!

While we were down the suburb where our 'real home' is was caught in some terrible fires and we had some drama with our street being on fire and being evacuated. We were in regular contact with our neighbours (the across-the-roads, for regular readers) so knew what was going on and Hubby headed over to our house to turn on the sprinkler system on the roof that he had set up for just this event. We do have tenants in the house but certainly didn't expect them to stay and fight the fires. Sadly the house at the end of the street burnt down, it literally burnt to the ground and within a very short time there was just nothing left. The fire jumped the road and was only four houses away from ours but luckily the fireman contained it and stopped it from getting any further. Our street has one acre blocks with lots of bush, scrub and trees so we were incredibly lucky. The fire also swept around the front and burnt out a 10 acre block about 100 metres in front of the house - the two houses on that land were water-bombed by the helicopters (I can't remember what they are called) with the fire burning right up to each house but not getting hold of either of them. It destroyed everything else on the land and it's just 10 acres of burnt stubble. It was a very stressful situation and I'm so glad our house is okay while being so desperately sad for the family who lost absolutely everything.

In brighter news we also did some lovely tourist-y things with the kids. Sci-tech visited #1's school in 2007 and he had asked if we could visit "the real Sci-tech" while we were in Perth. It's too had to explain so please Google 'Sci-tech + Western Australia' if you're and out-of-town-er. We spent a great afternoon playing there and Hubby was in his element trying all the stuff and then working out how it all worked and/or launching into long explanations of how things worked. The Offspring just had a great time trying everything and making them light up, lift up and make noises. We drove through the city so the kids could see all the tall buildings - living in a cyclone area we only have a couple of two storey buildings so this was cause for great excitement - and all yelled out whenever we saw a bus/train/taxi/police car/any other vehicle that was worth getting excited about! We also visited the zoo and had a wonderful morning checking out all the animals - I'll share some pictures later in the week. The kids were very excited by all the animals and when we asked #1 which was his favourite he named them all so I think we can count that as a successful outing!

Anyway, I have work in the morning and still have chores to do around the house. I'll be back later in the week with pic's from the trip. If you've made it to the end of this essay-like entry here's a pic to reward your efforts... some sibling love on Christmas Day. Please note the very cute outfits from Santa - he really knows how to choose good stuff!


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