Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not Such A Pleasant Discovery

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 6 comments

Kidney Stones.

Well, that seems to be the general verdict from everyone I talk to.

Not a whole heap of fun. And everyone who says they've heard they can be worse than childbirth or a broken bone? Yeah, they're right.

Maybe this turning 40 thing isn't quite that much fun, after all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Photo Dump

Posted by MANDI at 4:04 PM 5 comments
Like so many others, we alternate whose family we spend Christmas Day with - this year was with Hubby's family and Boxing Day was spent with mine. So two huge days of celebrating, eating, drinking, presents, more eating and then a bit more celebrating.

Here are some of the shots I love most from the past couple of days. They aren't all great shots but they make me smile.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

Posted by MANDI at 8:08 PM 2 comments
Santa himself came to visit this evening - handing out lollies and kindly escorted by the local volunteer fire-brigade. I love living somewhere that does that.

And the kids have opened their Christmas Eve present (pj's and a Santa hat), the aim of which is to bring the excitement levels down just a notch but this year it seems to have had the opposite effect.

We've left the carrots and bucket of water out for the reindeer. There's a plate of home-made Rocky Road and a nice cold beer waiting on the table for Santa. And the stockings have been carefully hung in their traditional place on the back of the couch.

And now I'm going to wait for my own little elves to fall asleep and then I'll finish wrapping all the presents with the Carols In The Domain (or whatever one it is that's on tonight) on the tv in the background.

Whatever you're doing tomorrow, I hope you're sharing Christmas with loved ones and that you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas. Much love to you all from the house on the hill xx

Friday, December 23, 2011

On The Other Side!

Posted by MANDI at 10:53 PM 2 comments
Wow! After what seemed like a week of celebrating (and,  let's be honest, actually was a week of celebrating!) I finally hit the big Four Oh yesterday and what a day I had.

Hubby, after seriously outdoing himself with all the party stuff, totally surprised me with his gift. He's sending me off to see one of my bff's from Red Dirt Central who now lives in Queensland! He made secret phone calls across the country, booked the tickets and threatened the kids with certain death if they spilled the secret. And then he handed me my birthday card, waited for the tears and calmly handed me a tissue. I am SOOOOO excited! The big trip is in a couple of weeks but I reckon Felicity and I will burn up the phone lines between now and then.

We had a family lunch with more pressies and another birthday cake - this one was a pile of delicious custard filled profiteroles...

And I got a couple of nice pics with the kids.

After a short rest we headed off to to dinner at another bff's house. And enjoyed another birthday cake, this time made by the very gorgeous daughter of the house who is turning into quite the chef. The photo really doesn't do the cake justice but it was beautifully decorated and ever so delicious.

And so the curtain finally draws to a close on my fabulous 40th birthday. It was the most fun-filled, love filled, wonderful birthday and I've had the most amazing time celebrating it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Downhilll Slide

Posted by MANDI at 5:28 PM 4 comments
Today I've done washing, tidied the house, helped supervise a pool party, finished the Christmas shopping (and if I haven't got it all now, it's not gonna happen cos I'm not going back again). I do still have the food shopping to do and might duck out after the kids have gone to bed to get that out of the way.

But right now? I'm about to crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy a last drink on the last day of my thirties. And when I wake up tomorrow I'll be in a whole new part of my life. If, as 'they' say, life does begin at 40... I say bring it on!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost 40!

Posted by MANDI at 8:39 PM 6 comments
It's my birthday later in the week and, as most of you know, it's a big one. The big Four-Oh! And in order to celebrate in a way that we'd be sure to remember for years it was decided that I'd have an 80's themed Formal do. Hubby went a little bit crazy on a Chinese website buying all manner of party extras - strobe lights, laser lights, mirror tile stickers and then set to work making the back deck into party central.

People. It was AWESOME!! I haven't laughed so much, danced so much or had so much fun in years.  And since just about every single photo of me has me holding a glass of bubbly I think it's fair to say there may have been champagne involved!

I had my hair done in the afternoon so that it was suitably 80's in style - big curls and all swept upon one side - and slathered on the blue eyeshadow and blue eyeliner.

Hubby made the most spectacular decorations.

My girlfriends frocked up appropriately.

And the boys did their part too. (I made Hubby shave off his beard so he could rock the Magnum mo. I have a thing for Magnum. Hubby's darn lucky I didn't make him wear high waisted tight shorts to go with his Hawaiian shirt and Magnum mo!)

And we took to the dance floor with the seven hour playlist of 80's music, admired ourselves in the mirrored wall, exclaimed over the lights and laughed ourselves silly when we couldn't see each other when someone got a  bit over-enthusiastic with the smoke machine.

A friend of a friend make the special request birthday cake that was a work of art in itself. I was thrilled with it. And it tasted great too.

I had such a fantastic time that I suggested to Hubby we should do it all over again soon. Like maybe for New Year's Eve. He rolled his eyes, shook his head and walked away laughing. I'm gonna take that as a 'yes'!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Almost There

Posted by MANDI at 9:41 PM 6 comments
The end of the school year is just two days away and we're all looking forward to the holidays. Sleep ins, family time, lots of playing and some nice treats in the middle. I've still got lots of Christmas stuff to get organised but I finally got the teacher's presents done...

I went with the Cookie Mix In A Jar again this year and, with half of them distributed today and the rest being delivered tomorrow, they have been very well received.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Diary Of A Week That Was

Posted by MANDI at 9:17 AM 2 comments
Wow! I know we're all saying it but the weeks are flying by at the moment.

Monday: House chores, food shopping, baking for Tuesday night, Carols by Candlelight at school. Late night for the kids.

Tuesday: Grumpy kids from late night. Work, race home to throw together pavlova and collect other baked goods, kids and Hubby then across to Mum's for dinner with a truckload of rellies (relatives for those unfamiliar with the Aussie version) who are in town for a wedding. Late night for  the kids

Wednesday: Even grumpier kids from the night before. Work. Catch up on washing, ironing

Thursday: You guessed it, kids are still grumpy. Start out for work before realising that the 'unpleasant' start to my morning was actually a tummy bug of sorts. Ring boss, go home. Alternate between couch and toilet. Ick.

Friday: Kids are slightly less grumpy (thanks heavens!). Final school assembly of the year that goes on and on and on. House chores. Fast food filthy Friday. Made a start on wrapping the Christmas presents.

Saturday: Early start for swimming lessons, a bit of shopping, Santa photos, Offspring #1 to a birthday party, house cleaning, more washing, collect #1 and out to dinner for a friends 50th.

Sunday: Sleeeeeeep in! And now on the with rest of the chores, food shopping because I'm working most of the week, baking, finishing off the teacher gifts for school and I rather suspect Hubby's going to have me out raking leaves at some point.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Gappy Girl, Part II

Posted by MANDI at 5:25 PM 2 comments
Rather sooner than I was expecting, but after much (MUCH!) wobbling Offspring #2 presented this smile to me this afternoon. Okay, smile might be stretching it a bit.

This year's Santa photo is gonna be fab. And thanks heavens the family photos we had booked in the lead up to Christmas happened last weekend. You know, when she still had teeth in her head!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And The Winner Is....

Posted by MANDI at 6:20 AM 3 comments
With only six comments (and only five valid ones - sorry Dr Alice, I'll get to your request in the next few days!) Hubby was given the honour of rolling the dice to come up with the winner.

Congratulations Anne!

Your prize is in the mail. Happy Shopping!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Prize-a-palooza Take III

Posted by MANDI at 7:54 PM 8 comments
The third and final competition, courtesy of Mums United and Soup, is up and running. It's open from now until 6pm Perth time, tomorrow (Friday, 2nd Dec).

What's up for grabs? A gift card for Kmart, valued at $100. The idea is that you'll use it to purchase things that will help you be more active - whether that's sports equipment for the kids, new work-out gear for yourself or some fun pool toys. And considering that Christmas is just a few weeks away I'm thinking this is pretty good timing.

What do you have to do? I'm going to make you work for this one. You need to answer a couple of simple question to be in the running and I'll be drawing the winner at random. 

Who can enter? As long as you're in Australia, you can enter. Just leave your answers as a comment.

Questions 1: Tell me one recipe that you've tried from my blog.
Questions 2: How did it turn out?
Questions 3: Would you make it again?

See, easy! Good luck!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time For A Visit

Posted by MANDI at 9:32 PM 5 comments
From the Tooth Fairy!!

The other front tooth is kinda wobbly too and we're wondering if we might be singing a certain song about Christmas and the wanting of teeth in the next few weeks... (and yes, that's chocolate on her face. She spent the afternoon at a birthday party and came home all sugar-ed up and covered in chocolate).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Just Stuff

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 6 comments
I had big plans to run the final competition today but instead have developed the head cold from hell. From Hell people! My poor head is so stuffed up - I can't hear, breathe through my nose, swallow without wincing and my normally nasal Aussie twang is decidedly more nasal.

So, I'll get back to you on when the comp will run. Probably the beginning of next week instead (I know lots of you check in at work and I want as many of you to have a chance as possible) - I'll give you some advance warning because this comp is going to be short, sweet, fast and furious. Well, that might be a bit optimistic but it'll only run for a couple of hours so you'll have to get in quick once it opens. Stay tuned!

Oh and the head cold? We can firmly blame that on the girl child who battled asthma attacks most of last week which left me with a severe sleep deficit which in turn left me quite run down and susceptible to the bugs and germs floating around at the moment. Bloody kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Posted by MANDI at 8:30 PM 4 comments
Yay! Hubby's been (re)appointed as to a permanent position in his job. He had permanency years ago, then I talked him into getting a different job and we moved up to Red Dirt Central, then back to Perth again, then he worked in industry for a couple of years and eventually went back to his old job. But without permanency. And finally, all these years later (and after me promising that I will never make him move house or apply for jobs on his behalf ever again) he has his permanency back. And is attached to one workplace. Like, forever. Woot Woot!

Enormous relief all round.

Except for the never moving house again bit.

But really, all super-duper goodliness!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menus and Easy Meals

Posted by MANDI at 7:40 PM 3 comments
I know it's been a while since I shared a menu plan with you all. I'm still planning away with the best of them but the plans haven't been particularly exciting of late. I can't, in all honesty, say that this week is any more exciting but we're having a few dishes that we all like so I thought I'd add in some links to meals I've posted before for you to re-visit. Tonight's dinner is below and this week I'm also planning on Herb and Mustard Barbecued Chicken, Chicken Master Blaster  and a BBQ with this delish looking Proscuitto and Pear Salad courtesy of Melody at biglittlesister.

Jodi asked me for some easy Christmas dish ideas so I threw together something for dinner that I think would be a nice addition to the Christmas table. It would also be a good 'using up the leftovers' kind of meal too. It was delicious, a little bit different from a regular salad and it was also dead simple. In the interests of full disclosure I will point out that, as I was wanting the offspring to eat dinner I used some yummy beef sausages rather than chorizo.

Warm Roasted Vegetable Salad with Chorizo

1 bag mixed lettuce leaves
3 medium potatoes, chopped in half then each half into 8 pieces
1 red onion, quartered
3 carrots, topped and tailed, peeled and sliced length ways
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 5cm (2 inch) squares
2 handfuls of green beans, topped and tailed
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
feta cheese
4 chorizo sausages

Preheat oven to 200C. Place potatoes in large roasting dish, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with alfoil and bake in oven for 30 minutes.

Remove potatoes from oven, add other vegetables (except tomatoes) to the roasting dish. Return to oven and cook, uncovered for a further 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook a further 20 minutes until vegetables are browned and tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While vegetables are cooling, place pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan and gently brown over medium heat for 5 or so minutes. Set browned seed mixture aside to cool.

Cook chorizo sausages. Drain the sausages on paper towel and then slice them up.

Empty the bag of lettuce leaves onto a large serving platter. Arrange roasted vegetables over the lettuce. Add sliced chorizo. Crumble feta over the top of the salad and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

Friday, November 18, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Posted by MANDI at 6:25 PM 1 comments
My wee girl has helped me select a winner - very scientific methods again, this time involving numbers, eyes closed, selecting a slip of paper and announcing that number 4 was the winning number. And the person who left the fourth comment was....

Drum roll please...


Congrats to you Sue. I'm sure your boy will think his new baseball cleats are just wonderful and I'm equally sure the household budget will be pleased with them too.

And for the rest of you... stay tuned. All is not lost. I've got one more comp coming up - it's going to be fast and furious and it'll be happening next week. Stay tuned.

Counting Down

Posted by MANDI at 7:14 AM 3 comments
Happy Friday peeps! It's a gorgeous sunny morning her in the hills, I've been out for my walk and am raring to go. What are you up to today? Is it the final day of your working week? Day off to do something nice? Or just catching up on all the chores before the weekend hits? Either way, I hope you have a great day.

Just a quick reminder - we're in the final hours of the competition for the $100 Rebel Sports giftcard. Scroll down a bit to the Prize-a-palooza II post and leave a comment to enter. Simple. 

I'll be drawing the winner tonight and so far there are only 10 entries so the odds are pretty darn good. Good Luck!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not Quite

Posted by MANDI at 5:44 PM 5 comments
Offspring #2 has been bringing reading books home for a while now and her reading is coming along in leaps and bounds. She's got site words happening and is reading simple beginner books and, as the book-loving, English teaching mummy, I couldn't be more proud to see her growing and learning and loving it.

So today a new little book came home. The title is "Rhymes with Goat" and it's has a picture and a word for each page. Goat, coat, boat, etc. We sound it out - B - oat, boat. And then go onto the next one. We hit moat. M-oat. Moat. There was a picture of a castle with a moat and it was all looking good. So I asked her if she knew what a moat was.

"Yep. A 'mote control. You know, what you use to change the channel on the tv?"

Cue Hubby and I giggling and a quick explanation of castles, moats and their uses. She thinks the 'mote control is a much better idea.

PS Don't forget to enter my competition to win a $100 Rebel Sports gift voucher. Just scroll down a little till you reach the Prize-a-palooza II post, leave a comment and you'll be in the running. It closes tomorrow at 6pm so get a wriggle on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNo is a no-no

Posted by MANDI at 8:28 PM 5 comments
Remember not so long ago when I got all crazy (okay, crazier!) and announced that I was giving NaNoWriMo 2011 a go? Well working on the plan that you write 50,000 words over the 30 days of November you're encouraged to aim for 1600 words each day. And at the end of the first week I had a grand total of zero words. Yep, zilch, zip, nada. Not a single word had made it onto paper and I totally beat myself up trying to work out how I could write 12,000 or so words in a way that helped the story I started last year (made it to 28,000 then) and made some sort of sense all inside a day or two. Then, finally, I had a brief moment of clarity and common sense and realised that, actually, I had a whole heap going on and I really, really didn't have the time, energy or will to take on one more thing. And the sense of relief was overwhelming. OVERWHELMING! And that helped me regain just the teensiest bit of sanity.

So I'm not doing NaNoWriMo 2011 after all. But I do love what I have written so far so I;m not pushing the writing idea entirely aside.

And I'm about to submit an enrolment application for a degree course for next year. And that's kinda crazy too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prize-a-palooza Part II

Posted by MANDI at 6:57 AM 17 comments
Yay, it's time for the second competition. Thanks once again to Mum's United and Soup for providing the prize and it's a doozy.

Up for grabs is a Rebel Sports gift card valued at $100. That's right, $100 to spend on whatever makes you happy at Rebel Sports. Need new shoes for netball? There you go. Need something to wear when you take up that class at your local gym? Here it is. Want some sports equipment for the kids? Well then you need this. And with the timing of this one I think it'd come in mighty handy for Christmas.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment. And it can be about anything at all - what you're doing today, what's for dinner tonight, what you did on the weekend, something strange or weird or wonderful that you've learned recently. Anything. Competition closes at 6pm (Perth time) on Friday 18th November.

Again, the winner will be chosen completely at random and you must be in Australia to be eligible. So get to commenting. And good luck!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moments Like These

Posted by MANDI at 6:32 PM 10 comments
You know those little moments where the love of your life does something so extraordinarily sweet and chick-flick romantic movie-ish that your insides melt a little bit and you wonder what you did to deserve someone who loves you so much?

This is what Hubby served me for Sunday night easy-peasy, what can I find in the fridge/freezer, dinner.

Yes, I'm totally over-tired. But this make me smiley and teary and ridiculously happy all at the same time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday On My Mind

Posted by MANDI at 9:43 PM 2 comments
Wow, that was a busy day!

Offspring #2's class presented the school assembly today - soooooo cute. They were all dressed as dentists, teeth or tubes of toothpaste and sang a couple of songs about teeth and brushing. And to top it off #2 received an honour certificate. Very proud mummy moment there.

Then off to watch #1 competing at the interschool sports carnival. Not an altogether difficult task - sit in the shade of some lovely big gumtrees, surrounded by other mum friends from school, and spend a few hours chatting, catching up on the news and cheering for the kids.

Add in some cleaning, several loads of washing, a quick drink with a former boss visiting from interstate, home again in time for dinner and packing for a night away with the kids and I'm looking at the clock and wondering what happened to my day. The walk that started the day at 5.30am seems like a very, very long time ago.

Anyway, I'm off with the kids for a quick getaway so I'll be back early in the week with a new competition. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And The Winners Are...

Posted by MANDI at 8:43 PM 4 comments
In a very unscientific way I gathered together all of the entries

Crumpled them up and put them in a small bowl...

And picked out my three winners!

Huge congrats to RebeccaR, Andy Pandy and Jen. Please email me your details and I'll post your $50 ColesMyer vouchers off to you. Huge thanks to Mums United and Soup for providing the prizes.

And for those of you who missed out... watch this space, I've got a couple more competitions to run courtesy of Mums United and Soup and the next one will be going up next week!

Two Hours Left!

Posted by MANDI at 3:59 PM 1 comments
Quick, scroll down and leave a comment on the Prize-a-palooza post to be in the running to win a $50 gift card. There's only two hours left and, at the moment, I've only got about 7 valid entries. Go to it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Hero

Posted by MANDI at 8:33 PM 4 comments
Or Gratituesday, on a Monday!

Thank goodness Hubby borrowed my car when I got it from work today. And thank goodness it ended up with the tyre parked exactly how it was. And thank goodness he looked at the tyre and realised that it was split in four places (or almost all the way round) and, in his words, was 'set to blow'. So he drove home very, very carefully and promptly changed the tyre and loaded the old one into his car so he can get it replaced tomorrow. He said that he really didn't think I would have made the trip to and from work tomorrow without it blowing out, and because it was a front tyre it could have been pretty darn dangerous. But I don't have to worry about that anymore, because he fixed it. Like I said, my hero.

Don't forget to enter the first of my competitions sponsored by Mums United and Soup here. It's super easy, there are three prizes and it'll be drawn on Thursday so go do it, quick!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Posted by MANDI at 9:21 PM 12 comments
Remember me talking about October being the month for Mums United? And asking you all how you were planning to be a bit healthier and a bit more active in October? Well, thanks to the extremely kind people at Mums United the very lovely Dana at Soup has sent me some quite fabbo prizes to give to you my lovelies!

So what have I done to be more healthy and active in October?
I've gone back to taking my lunch to work - we have a lovely canteen/mess on site but I found I couldn't help but have just a tiny bit of the pasta salad/chocolate eclair/potato bake. So back to my ham and salad sandwiches and I feel a hundred times better for it.
I'm still walking in the mornings but haven't added anything extra. I have found an aqua-zumba class that sounds like awesome fun but I know I need someone to go with me to actually get me there.
I tried to get Hubby and the kids onto low fat milk and failed dismally. But I tried.
We also tried one of the low fat cheeses that Mums United recommended. Sadly no-one in my family liked it. Not even me. To be honest it tasted like cardboard. We do however like several other low fat cheeses so we'll be making the switch to them permanently.
I cooked a cake using margarine instead of butter. Ummm.... sorry, not gonna do that again.
We switched to margarine as our every day spread for three weeks. And then we switched back. There were several reasons but not least on the list was taste and the number of additives that, as a mum, really concerned me.

But for now.... on with the prizes!

 Trying new products that are healthy can be pretty expensive and I'm sure that, just like me, you're all struggling to keep the bills to a manageable level. To help out out in this area I've got three Coles Myer gift cards valued at $50 each to help you out with your grocery shopping. All you need to do to enter is leave me a comment telling me why you'd like to win one of the gift cards. How easy is that?

So get to commenting and I'll get to choosing the winners. Please note that winners will  be selected completely randomly, you need to be in Australia to win and that entry will close at 6pm Perth time on Thursday 10th November.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grumping Along and Venting

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 5 comments
I've had a shocker of a day so please forgive the whining and grumping that make up this post. It started with badly behaved children (my own) progressed to a spectacularly bad bout of ugly parenting (again, my own)and, with work in the middle, ended with me trying to help the boy-child with his homework. Which is actually the point of tonight's grumpy post.

Offspring #1 has a new teacher this term. Can't be helped, his regular teacher is unwell and they have someone filling in for her for the rest of the year. He's been given a book report to do that, to my mind, is more in line with what I'd expect of a year 8 class (he's in year 4). The part that really gets up my nose is that it was given as a 'completely at home, no time in class' task. Fine and all, but surely it would be a good idea for the teacher to know what book the kids are doing their report on. The fact that #1 has chosen a fairly lengthy, detailed novel that took five days to get through and now needs to talk about characterisation and themes with no assistance or checking on by the teacher has me seeing red. Back in my teaching days,when I assigned tasks like this I also set mini-due dates. For example: It's due in two weeks but by Tuesday you need to have notes on two characters and by Thursday I need to see your notes on the three themes in the story and by the following Monday... We also would have done extensive work on character, themes, etc before they had to do it on their own. You know, provide them with the scaffolding to let them actually succeed at the task they're doing.

To top it off, #1 was told he would be presenting his talk at the beginning of next week. We were working along to have him all done and dusted for that date. He arrived home today having a panic because now he's supposed to do it tomorrow and he hasn't finished all the work or practiced it. Ummm, not gonna happen. I've written letter to the teacher explaining that he will not be doing the talk tomorrow but will be ready to do it on the date he was assigned and that she should ring me if that's an issue. I think I've worded it fairly nicely but, to be honest, I don't actually care.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Long Weekend Wrap Up

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 5 comments
Well the Queen visited Perth but she didn't call 'round for tea. Offspring #2 was somewhat disappointed that we didn't get to see her but between stormy weather, swimming lessons and a cat needing to go to the vet (but he's all better now!) we didn't end up with an awful lot of free time to go looking for a certain elderly monarch. We did however end up with a long weekend and, boy, did we ever manage to fill it up.

I got through a bundle of jobs that had been niggling away at me, caught up on some much needed sleep, had dinner out with friends, emptied the washing basket and have reached the end of the weekend feeling well satisfied with what I've achieved. I feel a whole heap better than this time last week, and with my head in a good space I'm ready to face the week(s) ahead. Yay for a long weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Idiot Moment Of The Week

Posted by MANDI at 6:46 PM 4 comments
And Lordy, there were a few. Like when I had to ring the IT guy at work to ask how to unzip a file he'd sent me. And he laughed so hard I thought he'd choke. And then he laughed even harder when I said I'd never had to unzip one before because my husband always did it for me. (I realise that sounds a bit rude now, but honestly he was just laughing because of all the things that I CAN do, this really, really simple thing was something I didn't have a clue about.)

Anyway tonight's moment of sheer stupidity...
I cooked some crumbed chicken thingies for dinner tonight specifically because I had a NEED for sweet chilli sauce. I had some fresh crusty bread, threw together a yummy crunchy salad using lots of things from our vegie garden and served it all up. Went to grab the sweet chilli sauce from the pantry and discovered... we're out.

And yes, I did go food shopping this morning. Thankyou.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2012

Posted by MANDI at 8:47 PM 3 comments
Do you remember right around this time last year when I decided to add to the general chaos and stress by taking part in NaNoWriMo? It's when you try to spend November writing a book. Or at least 50,000 words worth of it.

Yeah. I'm doing that again. 'Cos I like to live on the edge. Of sanity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gratituesday: Sharing The Love

Posted by MANDI at 8:16 PM 5 comments
I am so lucky to have a dear friend who we will call Fiona. Because that's her name.

She takes my kid to school the days I work and generally plays subsitute mum to them while they're in her care. I don't have a minute's worry when they're with her - I know they're in good hands, that they're loved and that they know they're loved. She loves to cook and read, just like me. And she's very clever when it comes to crafty stuff like sewing, unlike me. And she's been reading my blog since the very beginning. And I'd love her for that alone.

But she's also one of the nicest, kindest, most lovely people I know. And as I typed that sentence I realised that, actually, most of my dearest, closest friends are some of the nicest, kindest, most lovely people you could ever meet. And that makes me pretty darn lucky.

But anyway. This morning I arrived at Fiona's house to drop off the kidlets and she handed me a bunch of the sweetest smelling, prettiest roses fresh from her garden. Heck, they still  had raindrops on them. And she said, "These are so you can stop and smell the flowers." I took them to work with me and popped them in a pretty vase on my desk. Their perfume made my office smell divine all day long, everyone who came in commented on them and each time I looked at them I smiled and remembered that I have a beautiful friend who cares about me.

Thanks Fi. You're an awesome friend and I'm so grateful to have you in my life.

And when I got home I looked at the comments to yesterday's pity post and got a wee bit teary at the love from some of my other wonderful friends. You guys rock and I'm so lucky to have all of you in my life too. xx

Monday, October 24, 2011

Drowning, Not Waving.

Posted by MANDI at 8:21 PM 6 comments
I'm struggling with the world at the moment. Nothing serious, and nothing to worry about. Just feeling like I'm always three steps behind where I need to be and that no matter how hard I try I can't quite get to where I need to be. I can usually deal with it- but then again I usually only feel like I'm one step behind. Maybe it's the new job. Maybe it's all the work going on around the house. Maybe I just need to work out how to fit in more sleep. Whatever it is, my head won't stop going over all the things I need to be doing and it's a little bit poisonous. It's hard to feel good about what you have achieved each day when your head is reminding you about all the stuff you havent' done. Yay I spoke to that person I've been chasing for two weeks, and organised that thing I've been working on, and finished that huge pile of paperwork that needed fixing but... I didn't pay this bill, or check that homework, or cook a very good dinner or get that load of washing hung out.

I am looking forward to five whole days off . I've had to swap days a bit this week to fit in staff meetings and school events which has made the juggling act I've been doing even more difficult but as a result of the swapping I end up with a five days 'weekend'. And I'm planning to put some of that time into some serious sleeping. And some more into a bout of serious de-cluttering and chucking out around the house. I figure those things should go some way to helping me find even ground. Even if it's just for a little while.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gratituesday Again

Posted by MANDI at 9:37 PM 6 comments
And you know what that means. Sharing the things you're grateful for this week.

I've got some bits of Gratituesday randomness for you...
- I grabbed a bunch of lilliums from the supermarket the other day. They were all tight buds and I had no idea what colour they'd turn out to be. Well every single flower has opened and they're the prettiest pure white you can imagine and the perfume from them just fills my house. Lovely.
- First day back at school today appears to have gone off with a minimum of fuss and drama. Lovely.
- I had to work late and didn't get in till after 6 but the school teaching Hubby had collected the kids and had it all under control. Lovely.
- And further to the last one - there were leftovers from last night in the fridge so when I did finally get home all I had to do for the kids dinner was dish some onto a plate and pop it in the microwave. Double lovely.

So, what's rocking your world this week? What are you grateful, thankful or otherwise just plain happy about?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mum's United Morning Tea

Posted by MANDI at 3:58 PM 2 comments
Part of the Mum's United project that I'm taking part in was hosting a catch up with friends and, while I would have loved to have them here to show off hubby's hard work the puppy is currently sporting a very unattractive cone over her head and is supposed to be being kept quiet. Fat chance of that but I knew that having a bundle of kids tearing 'round the yard would incite her to levels of excitement neither I nor her stitches could cope with so instead suggested a picnic morning tea and a play at one of our local parks.

I took the opportunity to try a couple of the recipes from the booklet provided by Mum's United. I did doctor both of the recipes a little, partly based on taste and partly based on what was in the fridge/cupboard. The Mountain Muffins became mini mountain muffins and we nixed the corned cream, upped the skim milk and added some parsley fresh from the garden. The adults quite liked them and about half the kids thought they were okay. I think they could do with a bit more flavour - maybe a shake of paprika or something over the top? Either way, the fussy child who shall not be named (oh okay, Offspring #2) liked them and polished off a few before we even left home, so she'll be getting a few in her lunchbox tomorrow!

The Banana and Blueberry Loaf was less of a hit. I'm not a huge fan of blueberries in baked goods (but with muesli and yoghurt for breakfast? Yum!) so I swapped them for raspberries. I found the loaf to be quite dense, almost stodgy, and have to say I wouldn't make it again. I've got lots of other banana bread type recipes and a delish banana and raspberry one and I'm pretty sure I could healthy them up somewhat. Disappointing but I'm glad we gave it a go.

As always the biggest hit with the kids was the healthiest, easiest option. Fruit kebabs. It never fails to amaze me how much kids love to eat these and come back for more every time.

The kids played on the playground and swings, played hide-and seek through the trees, collected all manner of interesting leaves and rocks to take home, kicked and threw balls, and generally ran around like lunatics for a couple of hours.
Believe it or not,  30 seconds after this photo there were about 15 kids all over this equipment!

Meanwhile the mum's looked over the information/recipe booklet published by Mum's United, shared some recipe and activity ideas, caught up on the school holiday news and reminded each other of library days and other such things that need to be remembered this week.

In all, a nice way to spend the last day of school holidays. Friends, food and a playground. Lovely.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Ever Clever Hubby Does It Again!

Posted by MANDI at 9:32 PM 5 comments
Hubby has been on school holidays but he hasn't exactly been resting. He's been building retaining walls and garden beds, overseeing the kids painting the vegie garden fence (hmmm... that one was messy!), enclosing the gable part of the patio roof and building our new outdoor kitchen on the aforementioned patio.

He very patiently put up with me changing my mind about 392 times. And then changing it back. He tolerated my flights of fancy while politely, if mildly condescendingly, pointing out that they wouldn't work. And he even came around to the idea of red kitchen. Before I decided that it wouldn't work. But a red splashback would. I'm still searching for that bit.

He started off by building the wall for the kitchen. And cladding it, gyprocking it, painting it, patching it and painting it again.

And he helped select and buy all the cupboards and benchtops for the kitchen. Then went back to the shop the following day to collect the rest of the stuff we needed.

And coped admirably when I told him I'd changed my mind about the benchtop we'd chosen and selected a new one (that I love) from my somewhat garbled directions down the phone.

And he put all the cupboards together in record time.

And put in the sink and tap.

And now it all looks bee-you-ti-full!! And it's just waiting for that darn splashback to finish it off. Then... roll on summer, entertaining, eating outside and enjoying our outdoor living area.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mums United

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 4 comments
I'm so excited to have been invited to take part in a special project called Mums United. It's from the Heart Foundation and Soup and it's all about making small changes for healthier eating as well as ideas to help Mums get their families up, moving and more active. There's even a Mums United Facebook group you can join.

The Mums United project has sent me a bundle of goodies to share with you - there's a booklet with recipes and ideas to help get your family up and moving, family walking charts and shopping list pads. They've also offered some seriously good prizes so I'm planning a couple of competitions over the next couple of weeks - stay tuned for them

Lots of you in my real life know that I started the year feeling fat and frumpy. I took a long hard look at what I was eating (and how much of it I was eating!) and decided I needed to make a whole bunch of changes. None of them were difficult and some of them have become downright addictive. I cut the junk, upped the activity, took control of a few eating habits that had gone a bit crazy and week by week lost a little bit of weight. I lost nine kilograms, discovered that I actually like eating breakfast and that I love my daily walk. My family discovered that a slimmer Mum is much more fun and that is she doesn't get her daily walk she gets a little bit grumpy! I've still got a couple of kilo's to go before I hit my goal and this initiative seems like the extra little kick I need to get back on the eat better, move more wagon.

Lots of the suggestions that Mums United makes are things that already happen in our house:
  • I use butter for baking but for everyday use like sandwiches, toast, etc we use margarine (50% fat compared to as little as 14% fat). I am going to cook a cake with margarine instead of butter and I'll let you know what I think of the result.
  • We eat mostly reduced fat dairy products. Ok, Hubby and the kids have full fat milk and have resisted every single attempt I've made to swap them over. I'm going to get them to try it. I can't promise it'll be successful but I'll give it a go.
  • I've been walking 4km most days of the week since February. I walk with my neighbour - we meet at her front gate at 5.30 every morning- and we've just added an extra kilometre so now we're up to 5. And yeah, I'm feeling that extra kilometre.
  • The kids are pretty active. We have an acre that they run around on and they have a trampoline, bikes, scooters, footballs, hula hoops and a puppy. But I'm going to make more of an effort to get outside and play with them. You  know, kick the ball with them, play jump rope. That kind of thing.
  • And one thing I've never really paid much attention to is the Health Foundation's tick. But in October I'm going to look at what food I'm buying and, where I can, swap it for a product with the tick.
I'll let you know how I'm going once a week or so.

So, who wants a little pack of goodies from Mums United ? Leave me a comment and tell me what you're going to do in October to eat more healthy and be more active and I'll send you one. (Sorry, only if you're in Australia).

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Age-Old Question

Posted by MANDI at 9:56 PM 3 comments
How do you get your kids to eat their vegies?

One way is to get them to help prepare the vegie garden for planting, and let them choose some of the things you'll plant (beetroot for her, snow peas for him) and then get them all excited about checking the progress of the plants and you pretend you don't notice when they keep stealing all the snow peas straight from the garden. And then, after what seems like forever, you let them help decide what you'll have for dinner.

Tonight's effort was spinach in the pasta dish I made. Offspring #1 gobbled every little bit. Offspring #2 not so much. But there's always tomorrow. And in the meantime #2 has discovered that she likes lettuce. And she's very excited that the baby carrots are ready to eat. And she has no idea at all why we don't ever seem to have any snow peas to pick for dinner...

I think I might be winning this fight. Well this week anyway.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Purple Haze

Posted by MANDI at 8:05 AM 3 comments
Remember the garden beds that Hubby has been building out the front of the house? At the end of last year one side looked like this...

We planted the top tier with roses, the second tier with agapanthus and the bottom tier with lavender. The plan was a white and purple flower-fest through spring and summer. The roses are budding nicely and I think we'll have some gorgeous white roses in a week or two. The agapanthus are still a little way of flowering but they were gorgeous last summer and I'm sure they will be again. And the lavender has gone from tiny little potted plants to a lush low hedge of purple-ness.

We still have lots to do, and realistically quite a long way to go, but I love that all the work we've been doing is starting to come together. And I'm loving driving in each evening to this beautiful wall of purple.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Showtime, 2011

Posted by MANDI at 8:25 PM 5 comments
I have made the most of having a school teaching husband and worked a bit extra this week - partly because my boss was on leave so I needed to cover her and partly to show that I very much appreciate the flexibility my boss allows me during term time and that I'm ready and willing to return that when I can during the holidays. So instead of two and half days I worked four full days. Can we just say, EX.HAUST.ED! Seriously how do other mums manage it? I literally only had to get myself sorted and go to work each day - Hubby was at home with the kids and I came home to dinner cooked and the house tidied every night and I was still in bed by 8.30 or 9 every single night.

But.... today was my one and only day off so we hit the Perth Royal Show and had us some fun. The kids had some birthday money saved for spending and had earned some extra money doing chores with their Dad this week. He's kind of a slave driver and they well and truly earned the cash!

We got there nice and early and avoided the crowds for the morning, though by about midday there were LOTS of people around. We hit all the free exhibits, samples and goodies to be collected. We patted baby animals, walked and walked and walked and spend much time considering showbag purchases. We planned to stick with the tried and true tradition of one ride, one game and one showbag which has worked well in the past but because the kids had their own cash we did allow them a bit of leeway. I also followed my annual tradition of buying a new hat at whichever show we attend and now have a huge shady hat for summer.

Offspring #1 had grand plans for the ride he wanted to go on, and would actually be tall enough for this year. But in the end he and his Dad hit the Dodgem Cars and had a blast.

Offspring #2 decided horses were the order of the day and ended up with a pony ride as well as a ride on the horse in the carousel.

We also: rode the Ferris Wheel and loved every minute of it, watched the sheep dog working the sheep, had a go at some circus tricks, collected lots of stickers and colouring pages, watched the prize-winning cattle being paraded around the show grounds, patted a two week old piglet (soooo cute!!), put our sunscreen on every couple of hours and still got a little bit of colour, ate hot donuts and hotdogs and hot chips (hmmm, is anyone else seeing a theme emerging here?) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I think 'doing' the show every second year is just about the perfect fit - it makes it super special for the kids and gives the adults in the house plenty of time to forget how exhausting a day at the show is!

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