Monday, January 31, 2011

Cooking Mojo v Huge Butt

Posted by MANDI at 8:34 PM 1 comments
The sixth season of The Biggest Loser Australia started last night and, for the first time in its history, I'm planning to not sit on my butt and eat chocolate while I watch it. I want to lose eight kilograms. It was six but Christmas added one kilo and then last week's road trip/bakery run added another. So now it's eight.
Tonight the first episode of My Kitchen Rules is screening on a different channel and I can feel my cooking mojo coming back. So not fair. But I will use my cooking mojo for good not evil and channel it into healthy, weight loss-y type meals.
In an effort to up my activity level I've walked around the block every day for the past five days. The block is 3.3 km's so not too bad an effort. And I'm doing it with a neighbour who fairly bolts along so we're doing it in about 20 minutes. And sweating a bucketload. I think we're just about ready to start doing the block twice.
Now to reduce my meal sizes and get rid of the rubbish. You know, the cookies and cakes that I love. And coke. And chocolate. Always with the chocolate.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cook, Cook, Cooking

Posted by MANDI at 8:46 PM 1 comments
Despite the absolutely revoltingly hot weather we've had over the past few days I've been busy in the kitchen gearing up for back to school and the need to fill lunch-boxes. My girl will be starting full time school this year so three days a week I'll be trying to get lunch boxes sorted for all four of us and the other two days I'll only have three lunches to organise. I know both the kids like variety so I'm trying to come up with a system where they can have sandwiches a couple of days a week and have different kinds of lunches to mix it up a bit.  Since I already bake most weekends I'm just planning to get a wee bit more organised and bake something savoury for the lunchboxes as well as something treat-like that can be popped into the lunchbox a couple of times a week. The biggest challenge will be making sure I can freeze it. The grand-plan is that I'll make sandwiches the days I don't work (and in theory am less rushed in the morning) and grab things from the freezer on the days I do work. That said, it'll still be me directing the lunchbox filling. It won't be a free-for-all choose-what-you-want kinda thing. For one, they're kids so they don't always cope well with lots of choices. For two, my head would explode.

So to get through the first week and give us a bit of surplus to fall back on I've made meatballs, cheese and bacon muffins and our very favourite choc-chip cookies.

I figure the kids will eat two or three meatballs and I'll pack a small container of vegie and cheese sticks to go with them. The muffins can be sliced and buttered - and since they're a bit dry due to a touch of overcooking I think they'll need it - and I'll send some sliced vegies or perhaps some dried fruit to go with them. Add in their drink bottle and a piece of fruit and they're all set.

I have some more ideas and a few recipes put aside but I'd love to hear what you do for school lunches. Got any ideas you want to share?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gratituesday (a couple of days late!)

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 2 comments
I didn't have access to the internet on Tuesday because I was traipsing 'round the countryside on the family road trip so this week's edition of Gratituesday should maybe be called Gratithursday instead.

The thing I'm most grateful for this week is being able to run away and spend time with my family. We had a ball on our short holiday - the kids enjoyed themselves (which was actually the main purpose) and Hubby and I relaxed and enjoyed just being with the kids. Here are a few playground pics of my lot having fun.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Road Trip

Posted by MANDI at 2:39 PM 1 comments
We just got back from a three day road trip. We (okay, I) decided that we all needed to get out of the house for a couple of day and do some fun stuff so I sweet-talked Hubby into a quick road-trip. We stopped at playgrounds, snacked at bakeries, walked through the forest and saw more dams and weirs than the kids ever wanted to see in their lives. We found camp-sites that we're planning to head back to, tourist-y things that we'll see next time and tried to make sure that we finished off the school holidays with lots of fun. Photos will follow! You've been warned. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lovin' The New Barbie

Posted by MANDI at 8:59 PM 3 comments
Barbecue that is! Hubby has been perfecting the art of pizza-making in the hooded barbie. I'm torn between telling him how fantastic they are and telling him they're not quite right so he'll keep experimenting and we can eat more yummy pizza.

My favourite - Moroccan Lamb

The kids' favourite - Hawaiian

And a pic I couldn't resist adding - Daddy's girl loving her cheesy pizza.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lunch With Friends

Posted by MANDI at 11:15 AM 1 comments
This weekend we were supposed to be having a rather larger catch-up with a whole heap of friends from when we were teaching up in the middle of nowhere but it didn't quite all manage to come together. Several were away on holidays (it is after all the long summer hol's here), some couldn't make it and a few just didn't let me know one way or the other so when we ended up with only a very small number coming we made the decision to postpone the big catch-up to a later date.
So instead of twelve or so families to lunch we've got just one family coming and we're so excited to be seeing them. They live about an hour and a half away and, with five kids between us, a variety of full-time, part-time and shift work for the adults and the general stuff that keeps us all busy, finding time to catch up can be a little tricky.
The meal itself has been very much thrown together at the last minute:
Butterflied, marinated chicken cooked on the new bbq - courtesy of the butcher at Woolies.
A big garden salad.
Roasted garlic potatoes.
And for dessert - my favourite pavlova.

Add in the wine that's chilling, relaxing on the new deck and all the kids running around together and I think we're in for a lovely afternoon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brotherly Love

Posted by MANDI at 4:56 PM 3 comments
My boy has been learning to play chess. Now he's trying to teach his sister. She's easier to beat than his Dad.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just Plain Rude (Or Mandi's On Her Soapbox Again)

Posted by MANDI at 3:30 PM 3 comments
We were in the waiting room of a radiology place this morning and, because I knew we'd be there a while, I'd thrown some colouring/puzzle books and pencils into my bag for the kids. They were so perfectly behaved and I was so proud of them - no fighting, yelling, pointing, staring, etc. Yes, we'd drummed it into them during the car-ride but still, I was happy.
It's a pretty big clinic with several areas to wait and as you check in at the desk you're directed to a particular area. My girl was sitting on the floor colouring and my boy was sitting on the chair next to me looking at a car magazine when three women came into the section we were in. There were only two spare chairs and as I went to ask him to hop off his chair he was already sliding off and getting comfy on the floor. Again with the Mummy-pride. I smiled a the lady nearest me, nodding towards the empty chair to indicate that it was free. And without returning my smile, nodding at my boy or indicated in any way at all that he'd just hopped up for her she sat down and carried on her conversation with the two other women who were now spread across the area.
I was kinda gobsmacked to be honest. I'm all for kids giving up seats for adults. But I also think that common courtesy dictates that the child is thanked for doing so. How on earth are we supposed to reinforce good behaviour if we don't even acknowledge it?  For every rotten, spoilt, no-good kid that gets talked about I guarantee I can find you an equally rude adult who lacks basic manners. Just because it's a child not another adult doesn't give you a free 'rude' pass.
We talked about it in the car later and I told my boy that I was proud of him for giving up his seat and I was disappointed that the lady he stood up for didn't even say thankyou. He told me he knew that standing up for an adult was the right thing to do and that's why he'd done it. As for the lady involved not thanking him? As he said, that's just rude.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Posted by MANDI at 8:43 PM 1 comments
In case you missed the idea of Gratituesday when I started it a few weeks ago, here's the recap...
Yeah, I totally made that word up. But the idea behind it is something I'm planning to do each week. Working on the 'glass half full' mindset that I'm striving for I'm actively looking for the little things in my life that I'm grateful for, thankful for or otherwise just plain happy about. Of course some of them are big things. Huge even. But the little things tend to get lost in the day-do-day bits of living. My Tuesday posts are going to be short - a photo or two and a few words about whatever I'm feeling grateful for that week. If you want to join in on your blog leave a note in the comments and I'll come check it out. Or, if you're not a blogger, just leave a comment saying what you're grateful for.

So today's Gratituesday post.
Hubby and I took the kids to the movies today. We saw the new Disney movie, Tangled, which is based on the story of Rapunzel. We all loved it (and yes, I cried!) but what I loved most was when my girl climbed onto my lap about thirty minutes into the movie and snuggled in for a cuddle. She stayed there til near the end of the movie when my legs were completely dead and I had no feeling left in my feet and only hopped off after I begged her to go sit on her Daddy's lap for a while. And when we left the movie her little hand found its way into mine and stayed there.And that makes my heart feel good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Girl's Day Out

Posted by MANDI at 9:01 PM 3 comments
My boys were invited to a birthday party (the small boy as a playmate to the birthday boy and the rather bigger boy as a playmate to the birthday boy's dad!) so the girl-child and I decided a 'girl's day out' was in order. Among other things we planned to do a little shopping and go out for lunch but the first item on our agenda was the most important as far as I was concerned. And that first item? Getting the girl a haircut.

And so.... here's the before shot. Lots of hair and a cheekier-than-cheeky grin.

And the after shot. Neat and sweet and so much easier to get the tangles out.

Tonight's Sunday night hair-washing routine was about 148 times easier and drying it was even simpler than that. Gotta love that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Posted by MANDI at 7:58 AM 2 comments
It's been a little quiet here this week. With the tragedy unfolding throughout Queensland everything I thought of posting seemed trivial and a little ridiculous. As one of my cousins wrote on Facebook earlier in the week, "You can't complain about the rain when you're moving house when other people are having their house moved by the rain. Good luck QLD!!!"

But life does go on and it has been awe-inspiring watching people start the clean-up as the flood waters have receded. People who weren't affected are out helping their neighbours, young couples whose first house has been almost destroyed by the water have shrugged their shoulders, put on their wellies and dug in to start cleaning. I'm sure there are many tears being shed but the message coming across is one of strength and unity. It will take months for Queensland to get back on it's feet. In some cases, it's fair to say it will take years. But with nearly $50 million in donations from Australian people in just a few days, the support of politicians, the manpower of the army and of course the strength of the Queenslanders themselves one thing you can guarantee is that it will be rebuilt.

I was planning to donate to the flood appeal but have had a different idea instead. I'm going to buy gift vouchers for a group of nation-wide stores to the same value as I would have donated and send them to a friend in Queensland who knows some people badly affected - one of her friends had water three meters above her roof. She has a three year old child and their house is uninhabitable and Felicity is going to pass the vouchers on to her for immediate use.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Posted by MANDI at 8:54 PM 2 comments
I've been watching the news updates on the flooding in Queensland all day and can hardly believe what I'm seeing. A good third of the state is affected by the floods.You can see a map of how many towns are affected here.  And we're not talking about a little bit of water.  Whole towns are under water, houses have been ripped from their foundations and swept away, people are dead and families are missing. Toowoomba had a catastrophic flash flood this morning that has been called and 'inland tsunami' - watch this news report and see the sheer force of the water that swept through the town.
In my own state we've had a massive fire burning out of control an hour or so south of Perth after an arsonist decided it would be fun to the bush alight. Five houses have burnt to the ground and hundreds of acres have been burnt out. To the north, Carnarvon is dealing with the aftermath of two floods, the worst in the history of the town, in as many weeks with houses flattened, banana plantations destroyed and peoples lives ruined.
I guess for this Gratituesday I'm so thankful to be safe and dry in my own little house. I know where my family are and that they're all safe. I'm glad to be Australian and know that the people of this wonderful country will band together to help all those affected by the devastation.

*Edited to add, this is now the biggest disaster that Australia has ever seen. It has affected 75% of Queensland, an absolutely huge area. To put it into perspective it is approximately twice the size of Texas. The death toll grows each day as the water subsides and more bodies are found.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Inspirational People

Posted by MANDI at 9:12 PM 1 comments
A loooong time ago I went to school with a boy called Clinton. Not so long ago we reconnected on Facebook and I've been following his progress to lose weight and get fit. Let's not beat about the bush. He is one big man. But, he used to be a lot bigger and sometime in the future he's hoping to be a lot smaller. Being the complete sloth I am, I'm in awe of the stuff he does - he's taken part in triathlons, done some seriously massive bike rides and even ran in the annual City to Surf race last year. A few days ago he posted that he'd decided to take part in a marathon. Seriously? A marathon? I weigh a little less than half of what he currently does and I can't be bothered getting off my bum to walk around the block. Sure, I can say that the block is 3.8 kilometres but really, that's just an excuse and we all know it.

Today he posted that he'd started a blog, Run Fatboy Run, proving that not only is he up for a challenge but that he can have a laugh along the way. I hope you'll go check out his new blog and join me in cheering him on from the bloggy sidelines. Who knows, he might even inspire me to actually get off the couch (or computer, as the case might be!).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Party-Time (All Year Long!)

Posted by MANDI at 12:02 PM 2 comments
This is the year of the 40th's in my circle of friends and we kicked off last night with a girlfriend's 70's Disco party. They had decorated with mirror balls and mirrored walls and coloured lights, the food was 70's style with vol-au-vents, pigs in blankets (the prune wrapped in bacon thing), jelly moulded guacamole, cheese fondue, lasagna, and a whole heap of other fun things. We drank waaaay too much bubbly, laughed at each other's outfits, admired the guy's porn star moustaches, danced to some great 70's music and had a total blast.
I've woken up this morning to the startling realisation that while I feel like I'm about 28 my body is, in fact, heading for 40. Oh my aching knees after dancing in wedge heels all night long. Oh my aching head after one, or possibly two, too many glasses of champers. And oh my poor hair. I tried to do the Farrah-flick with not a great deal of success. Three different sets of curlers and half a can of hairspray later it looked not all that different to how it does every single day. Just a lot more gunk in it. Oh well, we've a few more 70's parties to get through so by the end of the year I might have managed to work it out.

Here's me and my man in our very glam disco gear. I'm loving his open neck shirt, medallion and hairy chest! I'm not quite so sure about the mo, but then again I haven't actually seen his naked chin in about 12 years so it's all a bit of shock.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Swapping Roles

Posted by MANDI at 6:35 PM 2 comments
Despite the actual working every day part I'm quite enjoying the role swap that's going on in our house at the moment. I'm working full time for a few weeks while Hubby is on school hol's with the kids. Thank heavens this week is a short week - four days has left me worn out! But I've loved coming home each day to a house that has been tidied and dinner that's been prepared and is then cooked for me. Awesome. Let me say it again.... Awe. Some!

Tonight when I walked in he poured me a drink, asked how to make my fave Moroccan lamb pizza and set to it. It's now cooking on (well, in really) the bbq - I simply provided instructions, he did the whole lot - and I'm enjoying a glass of bubbles. Again with the awesome.

And on even more levels of awesome he also did the grocery shopping today. And put it all away. Bucket full of AWESOME!!

Sorry girls, he's all mine and I'm keeping him.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making Excuses

Posted by MANDI at 8:11 PM 4 comments
I don't normally drink during the week. Partly because I figure I don't need the extra calories and partly because I'm not that big a drinker anyway so it's pretty easy to save a nice glass of something for the weekend. But sometimes something special happens and a celebratory drink is called for. In this case it was the christening of a very special Christmas present. Something Hubby and I had been wanting for a long time but couldn't quite afford. Or couldn't quite justify. Or couldn't agree on. Or all of the above. And then we found it, the very thing that would make our lives that much better.

And the maiden voyage of anything, even the new barbie, calls for a glass or two of bubbly. Right?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Aaah, the serenity.

Posted by MANDI at 8:23 PM 6 comments
(Name that movie for bonus points!)

The kids are fast asleep in bed, I'm eating chocolate and enjoying a cup of tea and all is quiet except for the steady drip of rain on the tin roof. And, because I stayed up too late watching a movie last night, I'm planning to have an early night. After a couple of weeks holiday the 6am alarm comes around way too early.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Posted by MANDI at 8:31 PM 2 comments
Yeah, I totally made that word up. But the idea behind it is something I'm planning to do each week. Working on the 'glass half full' mindset that I'm striving for I'm actively looking for the little things in my life that I'm grateful for, thankful for or otherwise just plain happy about. Of course some of them are big things. Huge even. But the little things tend to get lost in the day-do-day bits of living. My Tuesday posts are going to be short - a photo or two and a few words about whatever I'm feeling grateful for that week. If you want to join in on your blog leave a note in the comments and I'll come check it out. Or, if you're not a blogger, just leave a comment saying what you're grateful for.

Gratituesday - Week 1
I love that, despite the expensive presents they received, the electronic gadgets and games they own and their never-ending wishlists for more STUFF, both the kids have spent literally hours playing with these inexpensive plastic hula hoops that Santa left for them. Tonight they spent an hour after dinner laughing their heads off and I couldn't resist grabbing the camera to snap some quick shots.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kid Friendly

Posted by MANDI at 8:26 PM 5 comments
I came across a recipe for chicken tenderloins that looked good AND seemed like one that would appeal to the fussy creature who resides in my house (no, nothing's changed there!). Of course, apart from the chicken, I didn't actually have any of the ingredients so I made it up as I went along and came up with a simple, tasty dinner that everyone in the house enjoyed. Even the fussy one.

Crunchy Chicken Sticks
Put 500g chicken tenderloins, halved lengthways, into a large bowl. Add one or two cloves or crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger, a tablespoon each of soy sauce, fish sauce and honey. Mix thoroughly so that the chicken is properly coated in the marinade. Pop this into the fridge while you go about the rest of your day.
When you're ready to cook dinner preheat the oven to 180C. Then put three cups of cornflakes into a BIG ziplock bag and (making sure the bag is zipped closed!) give the bag to one of the kids and get them to smash up the cornflakes. When that's done to your satisfaction add three tablespoons on sesame seeds and mix them into the cornflakes. Throw the marinaded chicken into the bag and mix it all around until the chicken in nicely crumbed.
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Lay out the chicken pieces on the trays. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with a lovely big salad and some sweet chilli sauce (or tomato sauce if small fussy children are involved) for dipping.

If you're really lucky there might by two or three pieces of chicken left that you can take to work for lunch the next day while the rest of your family enjoys the third week of their seven week summer holiday. That's right, they're on holidays and I'll be back at work. There is a sunny side - I'm glad I have a school teacher hubby who is on holidays at the same time as the kids. It makes child care arrangements a whole heap easier. I just might need to be reminded of that towards the end of the week when I'm dragging my butt out the door and they're all still in their pj's watching cartoons.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year. New Blog.

Posted by MANDI at 8:56 PM 11 comments
Once upon a time I moved to the north-west of Western Australia and decided I should start a blog. That blog was Red Dirt Mummy and it served me well for four years - even after we'd moved back to Perth and no longer lived in the red dirt. Then my blog broke and, with it, my blogging mojo trickled away until I just didn't want to do it anymore.
I took six months away and came to the happy realisation that I really, really missed blogging. I missed sharing my successes (and failures) in the kitchen, the funny/clever/silly things my kids did and I missed the interaction with other bloggers. So, with the new year comes a new blog. I'm striving to do things a little differently this time round - a little less cooking and a lot more looking on the sunny side.

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