Monday, May 31, 2010

Tales from Reno-land

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 4 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 5 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 4 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 8 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 7 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 6 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


Posted by MANDI at 9:58 PM 10 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 5 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 1 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 1 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 9 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.

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 8 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 8 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 4 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 3 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 5 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.

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