Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Have To Say...

Posted by MANDI at 9:44 PM 23 comments
It's a good thing I didn't do NaNoBloMo this year. You remember NaNoBloMo? Where you do a blog post every single day in November? I did it a couple of years ago and really got my blogging mojo back at the time. This year? Well it's taken me until the 20th of the month to do one post. And even then it's about not posting.
I've been busy with work and kids and life and blogging and cooking have taken something of a back seat. A very back seat. But I have some pics to share and some stories to tell so I'll try to be a bit more regular with the posts.
Meanwhile, why don't you tell me what you've been up to?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This Kid Cracks Me Up!

Posted by MANDI at 9:25 PM 16 comments
I have a theory that Offspring #2 was brought into my world purely to test me. If it's not her asthma, it's her pushing my buttons until I could scream. But she also makes me laugh like a loon which is probably lucky for both of us. Today's efforts were extra funny - especially when you consider that I hadn't seen her since yesterday morning when I left for work - she was fast asleep by the time I got home last night, was gone before she woke up today and I saw her for all of two hours this evening.
Her: Don't you get sick of having to share a bedroom with Dad?
Me: Um... no not really.
Her: Really??? I would think you'd get sick of having to share a bed and listen to him snore and fart. (yeah, she's a total charmer!!)
Me: (choking back laughter) No, it's fine.
Her: Well, if you ever do get sick of it, or... you know he farts so bad you think you might die... you can come sleep in my room if you want. I'll wriggle over so you can sleep in my bed. I won't mind. And I won't fart.
And later...
Her: Mum? Who's your best friend?
Me: Daddy
Her: No. Really.
Me: Yes, really. Daddy's my best friend.
Her: Yuk! No-one has a boy best friend!! I'll be your best friend instead.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bom Bom Bom

Posted by MANDI at 7:30 AM 7 comments
I'm probably a bit late to the party with this, but this song has kept the kids and I bopping along for the past week or so. I dare you to listen to it without tapping your toes. Or getting it stuck in your head!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Carnival Day

Posted by MANDI at 9:59 PM 8 comments
The school sports carnival that is! The annual sports day was scheduled for last week but a storm was brewing and the school made the (very good!) decision to postpone the carnival until today. Friday was stormy, wet and freezing cold. Today was sunny and warm. Well, warm-ish. We all managed to get just a little bit sunburnt though the temp didn't quite make it to 20C.
The kids had a ball. I had some red coloured hairspray and red zinc and decorated the offspring appropriately this morning. They were um... colourful! But so were most of the school.

The kids ran and ran and ran. And, like in so many other schools, ribbons were awarded for winning, coming second or third or fourth, and just for taking  part. So there were LOTS of ribbons.

 We had flag races and relays. Tunnel ball and sprints. The kids loved it and so did I. And just quietly, despite them being the ones who ran around all day while I just sat and spectated (and yelled, cheered and clapped) I'm just as worn out as  them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Puppy Lovin'

Posted by MANDI at 9:41 PM 9 comments
Oh my gosh! Murphy and Pepper are so ridiculously cute. Yesterday was one of my regular days off  and, as they were intent on exploring just about every single inch of the acre we live on - and they're still too little to do so unattended - I got to spend the day outside with them. They kept me entertained all day long with their escapades. Murphy is definitely the leader and took charge of which direction they were heading but he's also a bit of a chicken so if anything moved (like the chooks, or a branch in the wind, or a bird flying over) he darted back to me quick smart. Pepper's up there with the pep! And although she follows her brother around quite happily, if he's doing something she doesn't like she sure lets him know about it. They explored, found the chooks, got stuck under the deck (only because they couldn't work out how to get under a beam, not really stuck), created tunnels though parts of the garden, fell down steps, came to screeching halts on their heads and eventually crashed out for a good two hour nap. Then they woke up and started all over again just as the kids got home from school.
Here are some of the highlights...

Let's just say it's a good thing the fishpond has a metal grate on it! Orignally it was to keep adventurous toddlers out. Now it keeps adventurous puppies safe! Pepper particularly enjoyed laying across it with her paws in the pond trying to catch the fish.

Pepper attacking the rope swing. Again, this was initially put up for the human kids but... the animal kids have all loved it. Murphy was very hesitant but once he saw how much fun Pepper was having he thought he'd better have a go too.

Action puppy-running shot! Have fluff, will run!!

Awww... who can resist this little face? Ummm, not me!

And finally, all tuckered out and fast asleep by my chair.

And fast asleep on the other side of my chair.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Puppy Love

Posted by MANDI at 6:43 PM 4 comments
After processing our anger and grief at losing Betsy in May we entered into the healing stage and started talking about getting another dog. We talked about one dog versus two dogs. We knew we could handle one - we had Max for 12 or so years before cancer claimed him and although Betsy was a handful we were getting there with her too. But we thought two dogs would be good company for each other and I had vague hopes that if they kept each other occupied they might leave poor old Spike the cat alone.
We looked at rescue dogs, dogs from shelters and dogs needing to be rehomed but none of the dogs we saw quite 'fit' our family. We decided that perhaps we'd turn out attentions to a puppy instead and concentrated on pups from shelters/rescue groups but again, nothing fit right.
And then we found... Murphy and Pepper.
Not from a shelter or a rescue place. But perfect for us. Nine week old Border Collie puppies who are little balls of fluff full of zip and zing. The came home today and have kept us entertained all afternoon. Even when they've been asleep.

All together now.... Awwwww!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Birthday Recap

Posted by MANDI at 5:17 PM 5 comments
My baby girl turned 7 this week and I may have shed a tear or two. I cannot believe she's seven already but mostly, if she's seven then I really and truly don't have 'little' kids any more.  But she was thrilled to turn seven and when her Nan rang with birthday wishes on Thursday morning the wee girl confided that she thought she had grown a bit taller during the night and was bigger than when she was six. You know. The day before.

We celebrated in our usual epic style. Presents in the morning and a cake to take to school to share with her classmates.
If the cake looks familiar it's because it's the same as the one I sent in for #1 earlier in the year. This has become the cake they both request for school, and I have to say it's a whole heap easier than 30-odd cupcakes!

Thursday night saw the grandparents descend for birthday dinner of the Birthday Girl's choosing - spag bol and garlic bread (of course!!) and a Freddo ice-cream cake.

And today we celebrated just a little bit more with a party at home with her school friends. Ages and ages ago (like six months or more) she decided she wanted a rainbow party so I've been madly pinning rainbow everything on Pinterest and had some pretty ideas to copy. Following our rules of 'as many guests as the age you're turning' she invited 7 little girls to come dressed in their favourite colours of the rainbow and we had ourselves a colourful, food additive laden afternoon. Here are some of the pics...

The birthday girl with her guests

Little Miss 7!

Rainbow cupcakes

The rainbow balloon backdrop

Marshmallow rainbow bites
(aka marshmallows with a dot melted chocolate and a smartie on top,
all laid out in the colours of the rainbow) 

Rainbow Fruit Plate
(aka strawbs, orange, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries)

Getting ready to blow out the candles on her rainbow cake

Inside the rainbow cake!

She had a wonderful time and grinned her way through the afternoon. She (and her big brother) are currently coming off a sugar/colour high and I think we're in a for an interesting evening. But that's all part of the fun of a birthday party.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brocolli, By Any Other Name

Posted by MANDI at 4:15 PM 7 comments
This conversation just took place, amongst homework and afternoon tea, at the kitchen bench and I'm still giggling so thought I'd share...
Offspring #1: What's for dinner?
Me: Broccolini Tart. And maybe braised cabbage and some vegies.
#1: Yum! You've made Broccolini Tart before haven't you? (And at my nod, yes) I remember, it was really good.
Offspring #2: Yuk!!  I don't like that!! Wait, what's Broccolini?
Me: You do like it...
#1: You like Brocollini! It's just like Broccoli.
Pause while #2 thinks about it...
#1: But with an INI at the end.
#2: Oh! That! Yeah, I like that.
Sometimes they leave me giggling like a crazy woman and they have no idea why. Then they look at each other and wander off together as if agreeing to leave the crazy woman alone for a while.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

Posted by MANDI at 10:01 AM 4 comments
My work days got moved around a bit this week and I ended up with 5 days off in a row. Total awesomeness.
 I had grand plans. Grand. Plans.
I figured I'd spend the first day getting all the chores out of the way - you know, the grocery shopping, clean the house, a couple loads of washing - then I'd have time for fun. Friday was going to be all about me with a shopping trip and hair cut on the cards. Then the weekend would be free to do fun stuff with Hubby and the kids and I was even thinking we might call on our teenage babysitter and fit in a date night too.
But... yesterday morning I did something to my back. I have no idea what that something was but it has resulted in me being barely able to move. And, oh my word, the pain! So all the plans flew out the window and now I'm on the couch watching daytime tv. I saw the physio yesterday. She helped a little and ordered me home to rest, rest, rest. She also told me to pass the message on to Hubby and the kids that they needed to wait on me hand and foot - they're doing a pretty good job but it's kinda frustrating watching them do stuff differently to how I do it. .
So now it's back to the tv, pinterest and blog reading. And pain killers. I'm counting down till the next dose.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day Of Utter Crapness. Erased.

Posted by MANDI at 9:06 PM 7 comments
It was a day that began with a complete and utter Mummy-meltdown, quickly followed by some particularly appalling Mummy-yelling. Then came the shoving the kids out of the car at school drop off followed by the kind of heart-breaking remorse that leads me to believe that (a) I am well overdue for a good night's sleep and (b) I am hitting pmt-hell again. After a bit of a cry on the way to work I sent a message to the boy-child that read: "I'm sorry I yelled at you this morning. I love you. Mum xx" It made me feel marginally less guilty and I hoped it would make him feel better too. I was very happy (and somewhat relieved) to get a message on my way back home that read: "It's okay. I love you too and I'm sorry I didn't do what u asked. xx" Aaah, mummy-relief. And yes, I cried some more and realised all over again that pmt and lack of sleep are just not pretty.

In the middle of the day more crap stuff happened. And that made me cry too. But not till I was safely in the car on the way home. It wasn't work related, just happened while I was there. And it's nothing that can't be fixed but, what d'you know? The whole sleep/pmt thing made it a hundred times worse than it really was.

But a phone call from the lovely Felicity in Queensland was as welcome as a warm hug and cheered me up no end. And a facebook message checking up on me from the lovely Anne, who promptly organised a GNO (otherwise known as a Girls Night Out) that will involve dinner and a feel-good movie, reminded me that BFF's rock. ROCK!!

And I remembered that a day of utter crapness is nothing. Especially when it's compared to the hugeness of love from forgiving offspring and supportive BFF's.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Almost There

Posted by MANDI at 9:44 PM 6 comments
Oh. My. Gosh.

What a month it has been. I've stepped up to be the acting boss, worked almost full-time (with a few days of seriously long hours), juggled kids, cooking and housework, employed a nanny/babysitter to help out a few afternoons each week and seriously thought I'd manage to blog somewhere in there too. Yeah, you can all stop laughing now.
Thank goodness for my ever-wonderful hubby who has totally stepped up and filled the void.
And thank goodness for our new nanny/babysitter. I feel kinda stupid (and little bit try-hard-y) calling her the nanny but she's more than just a babysitter. The kids already love her and so do I. She keeps then in-line ensuring they do boring stuff like chores and housework (*edited to say... not housework! HOMEwork!! LOL) and also manages to keep them amused doing fun stuff like taking them for walks, playing board games and teaching them how to make microwave chocolate mug cakes for afternoon tea treats. And she brings in my washing. Super bonus! 
The real boss is back next week and I'll be back to my regular hours, regular job and am looking forward to things slowing down just a little. And then I'll have time for all the normal things, like trying out new recipes, blogging and playing with my kids.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's An Oldie

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 3 comments
Last night's conversation with my wee girl was a slight variation on an oldie, but a goodie.

She was looking at her reading book, impatient to get on with her nightly reading, while I was putting the last of the washing onto the airing rack in front of the fire.

Her: Mum, what does S-A-Y say?

Me: Say.

Her: Yes, what does S-A-Y say?

Me: Say.

Her: Yes, say?

Me: Yes. SAY.

Her: Mum! What does it say????

Me: Say!

Her: Well if you're not going to help me, don't worry about it!!

And she stomped off down the hallway while her dad and I laughed ourselves silly.

Then I called her back and we looked at the word together and sounded it out and worked out that S-A-Y really does say... say.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day One. Done.

Posted by MANDI at 10:02 PM 0 comments
We made it out the door with a minimum of fuss, I got to work on time (a few minutes to spare even!) and we're all set for tomorrow. School clothes are laid out and school bags are packed just waiting for lunchboxes.

I got in to find a massive MASSIVE list of things to get through. A huge HUGE list of instructions to be followed. And the usual enormous ENORMOUS number of emails that are always waiting after a few days away from work. But I ploughed on and made a good start on it all so in all it was a good day.

Then I came home to make a quick and easy oven baked risotto. And because I wasn't paying attention I grabbed the regular white rice instead of the arborio and... well... the yummy dinner we were going to have wasn't quite as yummy. I saved it but it was neither pretty nor delicious. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

And tomorrow the term start for real.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reality Bites

Posted by MANDI at 7:30 PM 5 comments
The ironing is done, school clothes are sorted and put away, school bags (and pencil cases) have been checked, cleaned out and restocked. Yep term starts tomorrow, and with it, I start an acting position that involves higher duties and more work hours for the next five or so weeks.

In a strange quirk, both kids are looking forward to returning to school. Poor #1 was sick with the flu the last week of term and through most of the holidays while the rest of us have had varying levels of head colds over the past couple of weeks so the holidays have, for the most part, been necessarily fairly quiet. The promised play-dates didn't happen and there were no sleep overs (apart from at Nan and Pop's while Hubby and I ran away for a couple of days) so I think both #1 and #2 are pretty keen to see their friends.

I've got a couple of meals in the freezer for this stint but haven't done nearly as much as I would have liked. I guess I'll just have to spend next weekend getting a bit more sorted out.

And the hardest bit is that tomorrow morning I'll be sitting at my desk reading through what needs to be done earlier than I woke up this morning. That's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt bad.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

iPhone Madness

Posted by MANDI at 9:22 AM 0 comments
I finally caught up with the rest of the world and got a smart phone last week. Hubby and I checked them all out and were torn between the Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone but finally went with iPhone for a whole bunch of reasons.

The first couple of days were... ummm, trying. It took me a little while to get my head around the workings (and less than a week later am only just sussing out some parts of it!) but have finally worked out how to answer the darn thing - yes, that was an entertaining few minutes - and have dived into the world of apps. The 10 year old boy-child has been very supportive and helpful with the games side of things and hints from other blogs have helped too. I'm seriously in love with Instagram, the Coles app has some great recipe ideas and the Where To Eat app is very informative.

So, if you're an iPhone junkie, what are your fave apps? What should I be checking out? And have you got any hints for the phone itself - maybe shortcuts or stuff that seems really simple now but took you a while to figure out? I'm the first to admit that I'm totally resistant to new ideas until I get my head around them and then I'm a total convert. So c'mon people, lead me down the path of conversion!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And We're Home Again

Posted by MANDI at 10:54 PM 0 comments
We got home late this afternoon, collected the cat from his boarding kennel, picked up the kids from their grandparents house and I had the washing machine going not long after. Just a couple of days away leads to a whole pile of laundry needing to be done!

But...we had the most wonderful time and our trip to Must really was one of the highlights. That alone was worth the three and a half hour drive! The food was outstanding, the service was spectacular and the wine menu has to be seen to be believed. One of the things I really loved was that they sold drinks by the bottle, the glass or the taste. A 'taste' was half a glass - perfect for someone like me who is a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol so has no hope of finishing a bottle (and quite frankly a couple of glasses is quite often more than I can cope with) but would like to try a couple of different wines.

We arrived early in order to have a pre-dinner drink - we were thinking a cocktail - but decided on a wine instead. We were going to go with a Chardonnay from one of the local Margaret River wineries but were easily persuaded to go with a taste of that and a taste of a French Chardonnay. Hubby and I shared both and Oh.My. Goodness. I thought the WA Chardonnay was quite lovely and then I tried the French one and it was heavenly. From there we went onto a Champagne from Spain - partly because I love my bubbly but mostly because I'd never had a Spanish bubbly before (very nice!) - then back to the French Chardy for me and a French Cab Sav for Hubby before I finished with an Italian Moscato and Hubby topped off the evening with a Cab Sav from Argentina. Talk about around the world!

As someone who sticks pretty well to Australian or New Zealand wines (with the odd French Champers for extra special occasions) having the chance to try wines from all over the world was amazing.

The meal was just as fabulous. We'd decided not to start with an entree - we'd had an entree with pretty much every meal while we were away and I was determined to have dessert with this one. I simply can't do three courses so had to sacrifice the entree. Oh the sacrifice! My duck leg confit with spiced pears and braised red cabbage was fantastic and Hubby declared that his 30-day aged sirloin beef was, if not the best he'd ever had, pretty darn close. Followed up with a creme brulee with caramelised banana and a coconut icecream this really was a meal to remember.

And, yes. We'll definitely be back. And luckily the original Must is up here in the big smoke  because while this might be a once in a while kinda restaurant for us, we're both determined that it won't be a once in a lifetime one.

Monday, July 16, 2012

We Really Must

Posted by MANDI at 6:13 PM 1 comments
Today we slept late, enjoyed a yummy breakfast and then hit the road. We checked out a few camping sites, that we could stop at with the kids over the summer, and then moved onto the wineries. Several tastings (and a purchase or two) later we ended up at one of the local breweries for lunch. A shared tasting plate was perfect and showcased some of the delicious local products. A bit more site-seeing took us through to late afternoon when we felt that a spa and a bit of a relax was in order and headed back to our B&B.

Now we're off to dinner at Must - this was always part of my plan for our getaway and we're both really looking forward to a fantastic experience. Click on the link and check out the menu (as well as the venue and the wine!).

Tomorrow we head back home, but not before we hit a couple more wineries and enjoy lunch somewhere to finish of our little 'break away from the world'. This has just been total bliss and I really hope we'll make the effort to do it again. Maybe we'll have to hit up Nan and Pop for babysitting again in six months or so...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I've Run Away

Posted by MANDI at 9:54 PM 5 comments
Run away with my husband that is. We've taken off for a couple of days and are enjoying some 'us' time. The kids are having a mini-holiday with Nan and Pop while we spend some time catching up with each other. This is the first time we've ever left the kids for longer than a night. It's also the first time we've gone away together, without them. So exciting.

I booked us into a fancy-schmancy B&B - king sized bed, a spa, a balcony out to the forest, and all a ten minute walk into town. Lovely.

We've been to a winery for some wine tasting and then for a delicious lunch, wandered through the town we're staying in, been out for dinner and booked tomorrow night's dinner at a restaurant with a seriously fab reputation. And now I'm gonna go snuggle with my gorgeous husband. And yes, 'snuggle' might be code for something else...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ten Days

Posted by MANDI at 8:15 PM 0 comments
Ten days till I have to be back in my office, that is.

Yeah baby!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hair Cut Regretsky

Posted by MANDI at 5:37 PM 0 comments
So I got my hair cut on the weekend. If you consider how I wore it for a long time...

it's still quite long.

But if you consider how I've worn it for past couple of years...
It's really quite short.

It's in a bob, of sorts that sits just on my shoulders and I love, love, love the length. But the cut isn't quite doing what it should and, quite frankly, it's not doing me any favours. I've spent the past few days filled with the dreaded Hair Cut Regret.
So tomorrow I'm going to ring my hairdresser and book an appointment for her to have another go at it. I can't entirely hold her responsible for how it looks - she did exactly what I asked for so this time round I think I'm going to have to find a picture and attempt to explain what I want in words rather than waving my arms around and saying lots of, 'well you know' and 'um just whatever you think really'!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Yes! It's A Recipe Post!!

Posted by MANDI at 9:06 PM 360 comments
But before we get to it, some blatant begging. I've entered a competition at kidspot.com.au to win a new car. A Nissan X-Trail Ti to be precise. In order to be in the running I need votes for the photo I entered - it's the kids in the car at 6am on a sunny summer's morning ready for a road trip. Just click on the link - http://bit.ly/PbQKWY -  and it'll take you to my pic where you can press the button to vote. You can vote once each day and at the moment I'm sitting in 27th place so I'd really, really, really appreciate your votes. And just think, if I had a fabbo new car I'd be able to go more places and then I'd have more stuff to blog about. Wins all round!

And onto the cooking...
I ripped my way through a few cooking magazines over the weekend. Quite literally. And came up with a bundle of new recipes to try. I've been a bit slack in the cooking department of late - getting in late from work means I've got to be super organised for those nights and, quite frankly the rest of the week I'm trying to keep up with the kids, the house and everything elseand not a lot of energy is left for playing in the kitchen. We still have proper, good, nutritional meals but we're seeing a fairly high rotation of the same meals.
But having a little bundle of new recipes for insiration got my cooking mojo fired up and I tried out one for dinner tonight. It was quick to throw together, super simple and I had almost everything on hand. This is what the finished product was supposed to look like. Pretty, yes? Yeah, you'll see what mine looked like in a minute.
A few notes: not being a big curry fan, I used only 1 tablespoon of the curry paste and that worked just fine for me. I left the pineapple out altogether. I used frozen corn instead of baby corn and green capsicum not red because that was what I had. I think this needed a bit more moisture as the rice wasn't totally cooked through (but cooked enough!) and could have done with another few minutes but was getting dry. I'd add maybe another half cup of water and cook it for another 10 or so minutes. And with all those extra instructions... this really was yummy. With the notable exception of little Miss Fussy, aka Offspring #2, we all liked it and I'd make it again.
One-Pot Red Curry Chicken and Rice
from Super Food Ideas, July 2012

Serves 6
500g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 cups Jasmine rice (I just used regular white rice)
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1/2 of a 440g can pineapple thins, drained, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
125g baby corn, diagonally sliced
400ml can coconut milk
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup frozen peas
fresh coriander leaves, to serve.
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Place chicken in a bowl. Add curry paste. Stir until well coated. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, if time permits.
2. Place rice in an 8-cup capacity baking dish. Top with onion, pineapple, capsicum and corn. Pour over coconut milk and boiling water. In a single layer, arrange chicken on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
3. Uncover. Bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with peas. Stand, covered for 5 minutes or until peas are heated through. Serve topped with coriander.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Holiday Pottering

Posted by MANDI at 8:55 PM 3 comments
We've had a busy but relaxing day here in the hills. It was cold but sunny so I had the fire going in an effort to keep warm - Offspring #1 has been unwell with the flu all week so I was trying to keep him warm in an effort to get him to stop coughing. He missed most of the last week of school and even had to miss his footy game this morning. I knew he was really sick when he stopped eating - he's always been my good eater and now usually eats more than me at most meals. I made a joke earlier in the week about him having man-flu but read something in today's paper about the flu versus the common cold and, hmmm bad mum moment 3922, realised that he really has had the flu.
I made this Penne with Creamy Bacon Sauce for the kids for lunch - it was super quick and easy and they both loved it. I made a couple of changes based on what I had in the fridge and pantry and think this would make a perfect Sunday (or Tuesday cos that's my killer night!) night easy dinner.

After almost nine years of living here - well, minus the couple of years we were in Red Dirt Central - we finally got wardrobes for the kids. There was a robe recess in each room and when we moved in shoved #1's lowboy (chest of drawers, whatever you want to call it) in there and hung a rail for his clothes and got on with living life. When #2 arrived in our lives much the same thing happened. Hubby had plans to build a proper built-in-robe in each room but, as you'd know if you've read along, there are so many other projects on the go that this one just kept getting put to the back of the list. Anyway, just recently one of the furniture stores had a big sale and I snapped up two bargain wardrobes that fit the spaces perfectly and, as of tonight, there's a proper wardrobe in each of the kids' rooms. A wardrobe with doors!! Oh the joy!!

We also fitted in a fun maths activity this afternoon. I know! Fun and maths activity aren't normally things I'd associate either. I was doing some baking this afternoon and the kids were playing with my kitchen scales so I figured they may as well have some fun and learn something at the same time. I had them grab a few things from around the house and draw them into a workpad. Then we guessed (estimated!) what each one weighed and wrote that down with a question mark next to it and finally weighed the item and wrote down the real measurement. It kept the kids entertained for about an hour and they're dead keen to 'play weighing' again tomorrow. Here's #2's rendition of her afternoon tea cupcake...

Not sure what we're up to tomorrow. #2 starts her netball clinic and the rest of the day will depend upon #1's cough and the weather.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hooray for Holidays!

Posted by MANDI at 8:24 AM 3 comments
Hooray, school holidays have started. I have to work three days next week but for the rest of the two weeks I'm as free as a bird. We don't have any big plans at the moment, although now I've typed that I realise that actually we do have stuff planned. Offspring #2 is enrolled in a netball clinic that runs each morning of next week and I've arranged a couple of days away for Hubby and I - the kids are going to their grandparents for a couple of days so it's a little holiday for everyone. Well, everyone but Nan and Pop...

We're also hoping to see a couple of movies. I want to see Brave and the kids are voting for Ice Age 4. Add in some bike rides, board games (#1 was given Yahtzee for his birthday and it has been a big hit with everyone in the house) and whatever else we can dream up and we should end up with a pleasantly filled but still relaxing couple of weeks.

Right now, at 8.20 on the very first day of holidays we've just finished 'special brekky' ie bacon and egg toasted sandwiches and Hubby and the kids are on the couch watching Muppets From Space. Not a bad start to the holidays. Not bad at all.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Baby Turns 10!

Posted by MANDI at 8:53 PM 5 comments
Yes, you read that right. My wee boy is 10 today. And, as is the norm in our house, it's been a birthday of epic proportions with a birthday party, a sleepover, a family dinner and three birthday cakes! Because every kid needs to know how special and loved they are and what better way to show him than with lots and lots of cake...

He decided on a 'Football Party' and invited a few friends around to watch the game, eat 'footy food' (ie pies, hot dogs, chips) and play some footy in the backyard. We devised some games like a handball competition and kick a balloon goal and last night I was rewarded with a special hug and a whispered "I love you Mum, that was the best birthday party ever!"

Cake 1 - with his favourite football team's logo, for his party. I can't quite believe that I used a good portion of a bottle of blue food colouring to get the desired colour for the icing but there you go. The things we'll do to make our kids happy!

Today was his actual birthday and we began the day, as we always do for birthdays, with everyone (including his buddy who slept over and is really just one of our extra kids)) in our bed for the present unwrapping. He was thrilled with all his gifts and after a quick breakfast it was off to football where he scored a goal and his team won the game. Perfect! Then home to play with presents while I cooked for the family birthday dinner with both sets of grandparents. This year he requested lasagna and garlic bread. I threw in a big bowl of salad to mix things up a little.

Cake 2 - a cheesecake, as per the birthday boy's request.

And now he's tucked up in bed dreaming about his presents, and how to spend his birthday money. Tomorrow is back to school where the kids will rehash yesterday's party and today's game, his class will sing Happy Birthday to him and they'll all get to share his third birthday cake.

Cake 3 - for school tomorrow, chocolate upon chocolate by request. This is the same cake I've sent the past three years and it's always a big hit, with the classmates and the teacher.

I can't quite believe that my boy is 10. Double figures. Sure he comes up to my chin. And his feet seem to grow bigger and bigger every single day. And he eats more than me for most meals. But still, he's my little boy. I'm sure it was just the other day that he was off for his first day at day-care, learning how to ride a bike, or losing his first tooth. And now he's 10. And still my gorgeous, sweet, funny, loving boy.

Happy 10th Birthday sweetheart! Lots of love, Mum xx

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Umm... I'm here

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 7 comments
Hello my lovelies. I'm just sneaking in quietly to say that yes, I am still around and yes, I'm nearly ready to come back and blog properly.

 I've been having a bit of a rough time lately - nothing special or terrible, mostly just all the crap about losing Betsy catching up with me and I turned to my tried and true method of dealing with it all... I ran away and hid. I hid from the blog, I hid from my friends, I hid from events where I'd have to talk to people. In short, I hid from anything and everything. And my gorgeous, supportive, wonderful husband watched and waited and bullied me (in a good way) into joining the real world enough times that it couldn't quite become a habit I couldn't drag myself out of.

And I'm feeling better. Almost.

So I'm working on joining in again, reaching out to my ever-patient friends in real life and coming back to my blog. Because even while I was hiding because I couldn't deal with it, I missed it all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cold and Hungry

Posted by MANDI at 8:49 PM 3 comments
You can tell the cold weather has set in. Oh it's been sunny and blue but the temperature only hit 20C today.  I spent the whole day being cold. Despite being inside my office. Despite wearing three layers - long sleeved shirt, vest and cardigan.

And what did I do to combat the cold? I ate. Everything I could find. Every. Thing.

And now I'm drinking a cup of tea and have just scoffed even more chocolate and cookies. And my tummy is really starting to protest. Urgghhh.

I really, really hate being cold but I'm gonna have to come up with a better plan for keeping warm.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu's, Musings and Mess

Posted by MANDI at 8:18 PM 1 comments
The mess part first. I know that all mothers feel this but... OMG I can't believe how much time I've spent cleaning the house in the past few weeks. Initially it stayed reasonable clean as I cracked the whip and everyone jumped to and put their stuff away but holy moly! I cleaned on Saturday and I swear that anyone who walked in right now would think it hadn't been done since we moved in. The first time.

And on to menu planning:
I've made buckets of quince paste this weekend and still have quinces to spare. I was planning to stew some, to be frozen, to add to pies and crumbles in the next few months but am not sure I'll get there. If anyone wants some quinces please yell out. Please!!

My menu plan started on Sunday this week. No reason, just the way it was...
Sunday: Roast rolled turkey breast (pre-packaged I bought it at Christmas and took this long to get around to using it) and roasted vegetables.
Monday: Cauliflower and corn soup, Oven baked lamb chops and steamed vegies
Tuesday: Herb and Mustard BBQ Chicken and steamed vegies
Wednesday: Slow Cooker Beef Goulash (part of the freezer cooking stash from a couple of weeks ago) and rice.
Thursday: Lasagna (probably with chips)
Friday: Homemade Fish and Chips
Saturday: Hmmm, don't know... might be able to get Hubby to take us all out for dinner?

Oh, just realised that means chips two nights in a row. Hmmm, might have to think on that a little more. What are you planning to feed your troops for the week?

And for the (semi) regular random Monday Musings...

I had a totally delicious Cauliflower and Corn Soup for lunch at work a couple of weeks ago. It was creamy and thick, spicy and bursting with flavour and I could have eaten it all afternoon. But I had to go back to my office and, despite begging the very French chef for the recipe I left empty handed. So fast forward to last week when I was home almost the whole time with my sick girl and I decided that soup was in order. Specifically Cauli and Corn Soup. So I did a bit of googling, read a whole bunch of different recipes and came up with something that we thought was pretty darn special. Unfortunately I didn't write down how I made it. So I had another go tonight - it's different to last week's effort but still pretty fab. I'll post the recipe later in the week but here's a pic.

I am loving the line up on tv at the moment. For me it goes a little bit like this: Sunday - Downtown Abbey (yay, it's finally back!), Monday - Revenge, Tuesday - Once Upon A Time (first ep was last week but I loved it), Wednesday - Offspring, and Thursday - Grey's (though I've missed the past few weeks because it has been on so late). What are you watching? Anything I should be checking out?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Isn't It Ironic...

Posted by MANDI at 4:25 PM 5 comments
No, not the Alannis Morisette song. My life. Or at least parts of it. What parts? These ones:

- The doctors discovering that I have a (mild!) bleeding disorder and then ordering lots and lots of blood tests to get to the bottom of it. It's to do with not clotting properly and today they took 18 vials of blood - 9 from each arm - to prove it. I'm thinking they're taking it faster than I can make it!

- Having a sucky headcold and craving fluids but most especially looking forward to a nice big bowl of soup for dinner and being told that, because of today's blood tests and the drug they were trying on me to see if it helped the clotting process, I had to restrict my fluid intake for the next 8 hours. Just little sips and not too much. And no, not soup for dinner. Sorry.

- Getting up at 5.30 every morning to walk, watching what I eat and cutting out soft drinks in an attempt to stay at the size I've managed to get down to then buying a face cream that has the term 're-plumping' in its name.

Got any major irony happening in your world?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trying For Normal

Posted by MANDI at 3:54 PM 7 comments
So, after the newspaper report on Betsy came the television reporters, then the local papers and it didn't take me long at all to work out that I'm not cut out for a life of fame. The stress levels have been through the roof, my OCD ramped up nicely (on the plus side, man my house is CLEAN!!) and paranoia set in at the grocery store. Yes, you read that right. It got to the point that every time someone so much as looked at me, or what was in my shopping trolley, I assumed they were going to make some comment about Betsy, the news or what had happened. Most of the time they did. But a few times they were just waiting for me to move or wanting to ask if I'd tried the product I'd picked up and did I like it because they'd seen it but hadn't tried it yet. You know, normal grocery shopping kind of conversations.

The phone calls seem to be calming down a little and though we're nowhere near close to giving up the fight to get the shire to face up to the fact that they didn't do their job properly, or the fight to make sure that what happened to Betsy never ever happens again we're trying hard to get life back to normal for the kids as well as for our own sanity. Hubby is still busy with politicians, petitions and people. And I'm supporting him the whole way. But I'm doing it a bit more in the background.

And I'm getting back to meal planning and grocery shopping. To running errands and paying bills. To cuddling my kids and regaining my sense of humour. To be honest the meal planning isn't going so well. And I'm sick with a cold so there's been no grocery shopping (and it's not great for the sense of humour either!). But I'm working on it. You could help by telling me what you're having for dinner this week then, if I think my kids will eat it, I can pinch your idea. So come on, share please!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Hell Of A Week

Posted by MANDI at 9:41 PM 5 comments
We've had a hell of a week.

Betsy's brutal death on Tuesday was a massive turning point in our lives. If you're squeamish just skip the next couple of sentences: The dog next door ripped a hole in the fence that had been deemed suitable by the shire to contain a dog that was listed on the dangerous dog register. He attacked Betsy, dragged her through the fence and then mauled her to death. But do you know what's even worse than that? This was the fourth time he'd attacked another dog. And the shire that we live in, the one that happily demands our rates every August, makes sure we adhere to its rules and regulations - especially the ones that make no sense - has ignored, covered up and generally not followed through after every single attack. The last attack resulted in the doggy victim needing 70 stitches. And the vicious dog was returned to his owner, listed on the dangerous dog register and we were all told to let the matter drop as the shire had done all that it could do and we'd be safe now. Well guess what? We weren't and Betsy paid the price. We would never had brought a puppy into our home, our lives and our yard if we had thought for one minute that this would happen. We believed the shire when they said the fence would contain the dog. We believed the shire when they said that the collar the dog had to wear under the conditions of the Dangerous Dog Act would stop it from going near the fence.

This week we made a firm promise that we would not let this go. That we would not rest until we had justice for Betsy. We have spent the week fighting to have the dangerous dog put down, to have the owner forced to take responsibility for her dog, to have the shire face up to its accountability. We've used facebook to get the message out and to help us get people making a lot of noise. Hubby was interviewed by one of the drive-time talk back radio stations. We've spoken to some politicians and emailed and written to others.

In the meantime the kids have been nervous, jumpy, having nightmares and wanting the lights left on all night. They have not mentioned getting another dog even once. And they've been close to panic every time the cat has gone outside, despite the dog next door having been impounded by the ranger. They don't feel safe in their own house. And I'm helpless to do anything about that. But I will make sure they never have to feel like that again. And that no one else's kids have to either.

The good news is that the owner of the dog has finally been given the destruction notice for her dog. And before you get up in arms about that, the dog has attacked one dog and its owner, another dog was attacked twice - 6 months apart - and now it has attacked and killed Betsy. So yes, it is good news. That said, she's still got seven days to appeal the notice so it's definitely not a done deal. And even if it does go through it doesn't mean the battle is over. Now we have to keep fighting. We want the owner to be fined to the full extent available. That's $10,000. It won't bring Betsy back but it might make the owner think twice about getting another dog. And then we're going to keep fighting until the shire gives clear and open disclosure about their mis-management of this whole situation. And then we're going to do our absolute damn best to get the Dangerous Dog Act changed. Because the way it is now? Just doesn't work.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Too Sad

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 7 comments
I was planning a lovely bright and cheery recipe post for tonight but now my heart hurts and I'm too sad to post anything much at all.

Our puppy, Betsy, was killed today. She was 15 months old and just starting to calm down from the "I'm a puppy with waaaaay tooooo much energy and I'm craaaaazzzzzyyyyy" stage. She was starting to be a real member of the family, knowing who she needed to suck up to in order to get treats or pats or the ball thrown for her. She was developing the kind of lovely habits that make a dog so endearing  - like when I leave for my walk at 5.30 each morning she would stretch out and hop off her bed (just outside the back door), stop in front of me for a quick pat and then walk me halfway to the gate. She'd stop at the same spot every morning and look at me like she was saying "you can take it from here, I'm going back to bed." And then she'd meet me back at the gate when I got home again after my walk.

I can't go into much detail about what happened, partly because it was awful and partly because there's a whole lotta stuff that's going on because of it, but she was killed by another dog while she was in our yard.

We're all very sad here tonight and could use whatever good thoughts you can spare. Especially for the kids who loved that crazy, jumping, licking, wet nosed, rounding up, bundle of energy like the extra sister she was.

Friday, April 27, 2012

More Freezer Cooking

Posted by MANDI at 10:25 AM 1 comments
Remember my post about freezer cooking for the slow cooker? We had the beef goulash the other night -  and it was a little bit meh but nothing that some extra liquid and bit less cooking time wouldn't fix. Next time I'll definitely serve it with past though - the kids love egg noodles but they didn't really go with the goulash. I've got a couple of bags of a chicken dish for the slow cooker and one will be on the dinner table sometime in the next week.

I just found this blog post which follows the same idea and has a whole bunch of chicken recipes. Some look good and a couple reminded me of recipes I already have (and that have already been proven successes with Hubby and the kids) that I could easily turn into freezer bag meals. I love it when a plan comes together!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So, How Was Your Day?

Posted by MANDI at 9:56 PM 1 comments
Term Two started today and we got the rundown over dinner tonight. Neither conversation got off to a flying start but we got there eventually. And Hubby and I managed to stifle our giggles. Almost.

Me: So, Buddy, how was your day?
Offspring #1 : Dumb. We didn't do anything all day.
Me: Really? Nothing at all?
Him: Nope. The teacher just talked a lot.
Me: Oh. Well, what did he talk about?
Him: Nothing. Just stuff. You know.
Me: Umm, not really. What kind of stuff?
Him: Just stuff. You know about what we were doing, and how to do the work and what we needed to do next and stuff.
Me and Hubby: So he was teaching you?
Him: Yeah, I s'pose.
And any positive thoughts we'd ever had about about ability to connect with our students and really get through to them went flying out the window!

Then we turned our attention to Offspring #2...

Me: What about you Poss? How was your day?
Her: Boring. BORING!
Me: That doesn't sound too good. Why was it boring?
Her: It just was.
Me: Well what did you do?
Her: Well... we went into the classroom and then we sat on the mat and then the teacher said 'good morning' and we all said 'good morning' and the other teacher said 'good morning' and we all said 'good morning' and this week we have another teacher so then she said 'good morning' and we...
Me and Hubby (giggling): all said 'good morning.'
Her: Umm... yeah. And then...

We were a bit concerned we might end up following the events of her day in real time and cut to the chase with a few well placed questions and then a distraction to change the subject. I'm thinking we might need to work on her summarising skills!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZAC Day 2012

Posted by MANDI at 2:15 PM 1 comments
Like so many others today we crept out of the house, into the pre-dawn darkness, all rugged up against the coolness of the morning. And in the car we continued a conversation, with the kids, that we've visited many times about why it's so important to remember the men and women who lost their lives serving our country. Who made the ultimate sacrifice. And why we also remember those men and women who served our country in different wars, in different parts of the world, who came home. As well as those who are currently serving our country in so many different ways.

We arrived at the Dawn Service and met up with Hubby's parents. We listened to the last post and The Ode, observed the one minute silence and watched the laying of the wreaths. This year one of the old ladies who normally lays a wreath wasn't there and I got a bit teary. And for the first time I saw a young mum with a little girl lay a wreath and could only imagine who they were representing and my vision got blurry with more unshed tears.

The sky lightened with the rising sun, revealing a beautiful cloud streaked sky and at least two thousand people in attendance - mostly families, like us, with grandparents, parents, and children. ranging from teenagers to tiny little babies.

I don't think there's any danger of Australians forgetting the importance of those who gave their lives for their country. Or those who were lucky enough to come back but still suffered in so many different ways. Or those who are serving now. And I felt so proud to be Australian, to be the grand-daughter of someone who did make it back but never spoke of his experiences, and to be the mum who is teaching her kids about it.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Lovely Day

Posted by MANDI at 8:47 PM 3 comments
I logged on to tell you all about my wonderful day to find that Blogger has updated just about every single thing and now I have to learn how to use it all over again. If you never hear from me again you'll know that I'm floating around the blogosphere going stark, raving mad.

But anyway, assuming this actually makes it to posting...
The kids and I trekked back down the hill to Kings Park today to catch up with some old friends of mine. The lovely Karen, aka Kaz from the comments here on the blog, is an old teaching colleague from many years ago when we all lived in Red Dirt Tiny Town. And Emma is also from Red Dirt Tiny Town but was one of our students. As so often happens when you're sent off to a country town for your first few postings, we weren't all that much older than the 'kids' we were teaching and Hubby and I have stayed in touch with a few, facebook has brought a few more back into our lives and others now live in our local area and we all have kids at school together. 

I had  a lovely, lovely, lovely day - all the kids played beautifully together with the bigger kids taking care of the little ones, there were lots of yummy things to eat and it was wonderful to catch up with the girls. We caught up on each other's doings, exchanged bits of news about mutual friends and I loved spending time with them. It felt like no more than five minutes (but was closer to three hours) than we were all packing up and heading off in different directions.

And I think that Offspring #2 summed it all up perfectly when we got home. We were having a cuddle on the couch when she said something about being sad when you see your good friends. I was a bit puzzled and asked her what she meant and she said, "well I just think that it would make you sad to see your friends that you love because it's very nice to spend time with them but then they go home and you realise you don't get to see them very much and that would make me sad."  But instead of being sad that I don't get to see them much I'm very very happy that I got to see them today.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Out And About

Posted by MANDI at 8:47 PM 3 comments
Today was my day off, and with Hubby and the kids still on school holidays, we decided to head off for a picnic and a play. We took the long way 'round so that we could do a drive-by on where I have to go for a work training day tomorrow. Being well familiar with my umm, talent for getting lost this was deemed to be a Very Good Idea by Hubby. Right up until I forgot to tell him where to turn off and we went miles out of our way. Oops! But in a strange twist of fate we found a shop that Hubby had been meaning to get to so stopped in there before we got back on the right track.

Finally, after hours and hours of driving (according to the offspring) we hit Kings Park. And we ate morning tea, played frisbee and footy, climbed on the playground, ate lunch, climbed towers, explored walking trails, looked at the war memorial where we found my Grandma's twin brother who was shot down over Germany during WWII, admired the view of the city, ate ice-cream and finally declared ourselves totally worn out.

And here are the photos...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Cooking

Posted by MANDI at 5:42 PM 2 comments
I'm loving that I've rediscovered the cooking mojo. Although I am rapidly running out of room in the freezer(s)! Today I've made a batch of super yummy pumpkin and carrot soup and I've tried something a little different that I came across on Pinterest when I was looking at some slow-cooker recipes. One of the links I followed led me to this post.

Rather than (or perhaps, as well as) freezing the finished dish there seems to be a bit of a move towards freezing everything at the beginning of the process. Basically you chop up all of your ingredients, chuck them all in a big freezer bag, seal it up and throw the whole lot in the freezer. Uncooked. Then when you want to cook it you simply move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before, and in the morning pop it into the the slow cooker to cook away all day long. How simple does that sound?

Look I know the slow cooker makes life a whole heap easier but, for me, this is even better. We've been making use of the slow cooker now that I finish work and get home so much later and it's been a life saver. But I'm still running around the night before or, even worse, that morning, chopping everything up. This way I can do all the chopping when I have spare time on the weekend or my days off and not have extra stuff to get through when I'm already rushing around. And what's even better than that is that I can make as many meals ahead of time as I want and cut down even more on the work.

I've two lots of Beef Goulash in the freezer - one for this week and one for another time. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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