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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yes! I Surprised Him!!

Posted by MANDI at 10:50 PM 5 comments
Woot Woot!! It's Hubby's 40th birthday and I managed to totally blow him away with his present.

This morning we all woke up and did the pressie-unwrapping thing in our bed - it's a family tradition, all birthday's start off in our bed for the unwrapping of the presents. The kids gave him a hoodie with his football team on it, I gave him a really nice watch as the 'something to remember your 40th by' present and then we gave him his main present. It didn't look all that big or special. But it was.

I gave him a gift bag, you know the kind that you'd put a bottle of wine in? And on the little tag I'd written, "So... pretend this is a bucket." He looked a little puzzled but nodded. I reached into the bag and pulled out a rolled up sheet of paper that was tied with a ribbon and handed that to him. It read... "Hubby's Bucket List" and then had a numbered list down the page that looked like this:
1. blah
2. blah
3. blah
all the way down to 25.
But at number 11 I'd written "BATHURST"

 (For the non-Aussies - 'Bathurst' is the Bathurst 1000, a 1000 kilometre (620 miles) race held annually at Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. Bathurst the town is over 3000km's away from us. Or to put it another way, it's a four hour plane ride followed by a drive of about three or so hours. Bathurts the race is known among fans and broadcasters as "The Great Race", and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of Australian motorsport. Since 2000, the race has been run exclusively for V8 Supercars and is now a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series. This year is the 50th Anniversary and it's kind of a big deal, if you're into that kind of thing - which I'm not but the boys in my family are.)

Again with the puzzled look but there was also a dawning comprehension, followed quickly by a 'nah, she wouldn't have done that' kind of look.

And I handed him the next piece of paper. This one had all the details for a trip I'd booked for him. Or more specifically for him and four of his mates. It told him that the flights were booked, the accommodation was sorted, the hire car was arranged and they were all off on the most awesome boys weekend. Sure, he has to wait till October for the race to be on but he's off to Bathurst. And it was at this point that his grin got bigger and bigger and bigger. And I may have been declared the best wife in the whole entire world. Ever.

And then we handed him some little toy cars, with his mates names written on them. And if I thought he'd looked pleased before, well I didn't know what pleased looked like!

So we celebrated his birthday by going out for breakfast with kids, picked up a few things at the grocery store, hung out at home and had the parents round for birthday dinner. I made Chilli Mussels for entree, Caramelised Chicken Cutlets with a garden salad for mains and finished it off with Mini Passionfruit Cheesecakes for dessert. And what's a birthday without a cake? I made this yummy chocolate cake and it fit the bill very nicely. Though, as you'll see a little further down, it was a decidedly wonky cake.

So a fab birthday present that was a complete surprise and shocked the heck out of him, a nice day with the family and a yummy birthday dinner. What more could a Hubby want? 

Here are some pics of the day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birthday Surprises

Posted by MANDI at 8:37 PM 4 comments
Tomorrow is Hubby's birthday. His 40th birthday. Which means that his present - his pretty darn spectacular present - which has been a huge secret for the past four or so weeks will finally be revealed. FINALLY.

You don't know how hard it has been to keep it a secret. I talk to him about everything. And he's the one person I never, ever, ever keep secrets from. Even when I try to not tell him something I end up spilling it. And I have had to bite my tongue, change words mid-sentence and just walk out of rooms more times than I care to admit this past month. 

Thank goodness a couple of good friends are in on the surprise. They've been my sounding boards as I fleshed out the details. They've shared in my excitement and helped me to pull it all together. And they've been the ones I've run to when I've been about to burst with the hugeness of keeping it all a secret.

And tomorrow I get to tell Hubby all about it. And I can't wait! I can't wait to see his face when I surprise him. I can't wait for how excited he'll be. And I can't wait to not be keeping secrets from him anymore. I'm obviously not made for a life of crime or espionage.

And I'll tell you all about it. Tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Breakfast or Dessert?

Posted by MANDI at 8:48 PM 3 comments
Wow, I made these delish pancakes for dessert tonight and to say they were a big hit with the kids would be a HUGE understatement!

I served mine with a scoop of stewed apple (with some brown sugar in it) and a good shake of icing sugar over the top. They'd be yummy for a special Sunday breakfast too. Either way, I'll be making them again!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Loving the Easter Weekend

Posted by MANDI at 8:23 PM 1 comments
School holidays have started here in WA but not for me. I've got a couple of days off here and there but I've been making the most of the four day break over Easter. I've been catching up on sleep - a marathon effort of 11 hours one night followed by a two hour nap the next afternoon. I think I might have been a bit burnt out. I've been playing with the kids - multiple games of Guess Who with Offspring #2 this morning. And I've been cooking. Man, have I been cooking! Yesterday was all about a triple batch of bolognaise sauce and the choc chip banana cupcakes. Today was a double batch of slow cooker curried sausages and chocolate slice. And tomorrow? I'm thinking a double batch of slow cooker lamb something and maybe an apple pie. Cos I'm in a pastry making mood. Oooh and maybe I can use one part of the lamb whatever as pie filling? I love it when a plan comes together.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sort of Easter, Sort of Healthy

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 1 comments
Oh alright, I can justify that the inclusion of banana in this delish cake makes it somewhat healthy until the cows come home but we all know that it's not even remotely true. It is totally delicious though - to prove that I have to tell you that this is the third time I've made this recipe and the first time I've managed to get a photo!

We've been putting together a school cookbook as a fundraising project and one of my neighbours offered up this recipe as one of her contributions. In the interests of editing and quality control I obviously had to try it and it has become a firm favourite with the whole household. And now that bananas are cheap again in these parts I usually have at least a couple of old ones turning nicely mushy and black in the back of the fridge. I've made this as a square cake dusted with icing sugar and as cupcakes with some chocolate icing. Both are great, yummy with an evening cuppa or nice as a treat in the lunch boxes. And the fact that this is a dead easy recipe to make just adds to the fabulousness.

Choc Chip Banana Cake

3 bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon bi carbonate of soda
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup choc chips

Preheat oven to 180C.
Line a square cake pan with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix well.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Pour into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes.
Leave to cook for 5 minutes and turn onto wire rack to cook completely.

Or... spoon into cup cake pans and cook for 20 minutes.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easy Dinner

Posted by MANDI at 9:11 PM 1 comments
Have you seen these?

I saw it when I was grocery shopping and, despite having all of the herbs and spices in my pantry, couldn't resist buying it simply for the recipe on the back. Simply titled Herb Chicken and Potatoes it was fresh, full of flavour and not a packet-y preservative-y taste to be found.

I've kept the recipe and will definitely be making it again. And I'll share it with you a little later in the week.

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