Thursday, 28 February 2013

Wholemeal cheesy dinosaur scones

I've been making these for lunch boxes and they are YUM! Chubs isn't as excited as me about them, but I'm sold, and they freeze well too.

Ingredients (this is for half a normal quantity)
- 1 cup self raising wholemeal flour
- 45 g butter (I used olive non dairy spread)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup grated cheese

- Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Celsius. For some reason I really struggle with this step.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour until it goes breadcrumb-y.
- Add the milk and the cheese. It should look like this

- Roll the mixture out and cut it into whatever shapes you want. I chose dinosaurs, and then I did stars and cars later.

- Put baking paper on a tray and then put the shapes on that. (For the record, I think the roll of baking paper that I'm using is one that I bought when I moved into this place seven years ago.)

- Sprinkle cheese on top

- Stick them in the oven that you remembered to preheat

- These took about 25 minutes, but my oven is a bit cool (I think) and the dinosaurs were skinny.

- Eat and enjoy

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Chubs has been playing with playdough a lot recently. Things that she likes to do

- push it into the muffin trays
- have us roll it into a long tube and she says 'ssssssssss' (for snake)
- have us roll it into a sphere and she says 'ball'
- push
- make holes in it
- scrunch it into her hands
- have us make an imprint in it, and then poke it
- stir it in the saucepan
- poke it with a fork
- push her hands and feet into it to make a print
- playing and pushing it while we roll it and cut it into different shapes, and mix the colours

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Toddler activities (20 months)

We have been 'intentionally playing' with Chubs a lot more recently. Now that the renovations are finished and her playroom/ bedroom is all ready, it's lots of fun to actually play with her. We've been getting her toys out and playing, and she's got room to move now.

Educational play that we've been doing

- Shaker bottles of coloured rice and of water and oil (motor, sensory, sound)

- Playdough (role play, sensory, fine motor)

- Counting. Chubs LOVES counting. She can count from one to ten and gets very upset if anyone interrupts her before she finishes. She tries to hold up her fingers but can't quite work out what to do with them. She also likes to point at the items in her counting book and go 'erh, erh, erh' each time she points at a new item. (numeracy, verbal, motor)

- Naming. Chubs loves to point at items and name then; both in real life and pictures. She's got a real language explosion going on at the moment and she's getting new words every day. (language)

- Alphabet. She is loving singing the alphabet song, which at the moment for her goes something like this: 'a, b, c, d, e, f, gggg, erh erh erh erh erhhh erh P! erh erh sssssssss T U V, er er er zeeeee. No no no no a b c , no no er er er ME! We've looked at some alphabet songs and phonics songs videos - she will very excitedly say 'a a apple' whenever she see ones. We've just started doing some flash card work and looking at the Graham Base book Animalia, as well as some other alphabet books that she has.

- Singing. You name it, we've sung it! Favourites at the moment are Incy Wincy Spider, The Wheels on the Bus, and Five Little Monkeys, all with actions of course. Wiggles are a favourite at the moment, as well as Mother Goose Club and Super Simple Songs. (literacy, music, language)

- Stories. Bedtime stories had fallen by the wayside in the last little while, but have been reinstated (thank goodness). Favourites at the moment are When Grandma Came, The Biggest Bed in the World, Lucky Luke, The Going to Bed Book, Wombat Stew, Dear Zoo and Dear Santa (literacy, language, social)

- Colours. Naming colours is something that she's very much into and the moment. She probably gets it correct about 60% - 70% of the time for basic colours (red, blue, green, yellow and pink are the only ones that I think I've heard her say) (visual, verbal)

- Drawing. Washable felt pens are pretty much all Chubs is allowed at the moment. We constantly redirect her and I'm, sure that I say 'we draw on paper' a thousand times a day, but drawing on her face, the walls, the floor, her table and everything else is still a daily event. For this reason, it's washable felt pens only for the time being. She likes both colouring in, and drawing on a blank page. Stickers are a big win too. When we are with her, she likes using the whiteboard pens on a portable whiteboard, but since she still eats pens more often than she eats meals (sigh) that's a supervision-only activity. (fine motor, visual)

- Flash cards/memory/ matching cards. Chubs was given some Wiggles cards secondhand and she loves to match them. I pass her the cards one at a time. If it's new, she starts a new pile. If she has one down already, she places it on top of that pile. She gets it right almost all the time now, and is very proud of her self of course. She has some alphabet flash cards that she likes as well. (visual, letter recognition)

- Wooden blocks. Chubs was given a tub of wooden blocks for her first Christmas and they are one of the best presents ever! Towers are a stand out favourite at the moment, both building and knocking down. I tried doing some colour sorting with her but she wasn't interested so I let it go. As a high school maths teacher, I wish that kids would play with blocks more!  (mathematics, physics)

- Fisher Price Little People. Chubs started her collection at her first birthday party, got some more for Christmas and I found some second hand too. She likes to put the people in the rooms, on the swings and down the slide. She role plays and acts out lots of things with the figurines, including going down the slide saying 'weeeee'. (verbal, social)

Most of these are things that we would have been doing anyway, although perhaps a little more 'intentional'. I've been searching for ideas using terms like 'Montessori' and 'tot school' to find activities which are developmentally appropriate and fun. We certainly aren't pushing her. I'll looing up ideas, trying them, and she's taking the lead. To be honest, many of the ideas that I've found are just normal toddler 'play.' Many toddlers would be at different levels of developments - this is what seems to work for her.



Monday, 25 February 2013

Menu plan

Last week's menu plan

We actually stuck pretty close to the menu plan this time!

Monday: Freezer bolognese + brussel sprouts and bacon bits  Yes
Tuesday: Stir fry - new recipe + brussel sprouts and bacon bits Yes
Wednesday: Lemon chicken (to try with the new changes)  Yes - the new changes didn't work though. I cooked it for longer, with flour and not in the bag, but it still didn't crisp up. I think I need to try another recipe with a bit of a crumb and without as much (any?) honey.
Thursday: freezer bolognese Yes
Friday: Stir fry Yes
Saturday: Roast beef We had a massive day of cleaning, sorting and assembling Chubs' room so we were just stuffed on Saturday. We had freezer bolognese instead.
Sunday: Roast beef leftover salads No roast on Saturday of course meant no leftovers on Sunday. I went to do the (cryovaced) roast and it was all swollen with rotten gases - eeeww! I'd already put the veggies on, and my mum had just dropped in and said she was on the way to the supermarket for a few things. A quick phonecall and a act of kindness later, and I had a brand new roast in the oven.

I think our oven is 'cooler' than others, as I've learned that things definately take longer than the recipe says. I put the 1.3 kg roast in for 90 mins at 180 degrees C and it was still rare in the middle. I popped it back in for another 15 mins at 230 and that was prefect.

I FINALLY worked out how to get the veggies right. A long time - they were in for over two hours, and then the extra temp at the end. I also scored the veggies with a fork to crisp them up. I perhaps need more oil (or a different tupe of oil) since they did stick to the roasting pan.

I also added some steamed green beans, which was a bit lighter than all the roast ones and freshened the meal up a lot. I probably need to make a bit less veggies as we struggled to finish them.

This week's menu plan

Monday: Leftover roast beef and spinach salad with feta and avocado
Tuesday: Combination chicken noodle soup
Wednesday: Stir fry
Thursday: Lemon chicken
Friday: Freezer bolognese
Saturday: Roast beef
Sunday: Roast beef leftovers salad

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Chubs' bedroom makeover/ renovation

One of the last things that we needed to do as part of the renovations was to fix up Chubs' room a bit. We intentionally didn't buy her a chest of drawers, shelves or any other furniture when she was born. We didn't really set up a 'nursery' as such or do much decorating, it seemed like a bit of a waste of money for something which would only be used for two years. Apart from the cot, all the other furniture that was in her room was stuff which we already had or bought very cheaply (eg discount shop wire shelving). We planned on getting a matching set of shelves, drawers etc when we bought her a bed for her second birthday - which is approaching all too quickly!

While we were doing the renovations, a lot of stuff got moved into Chubs' room. All of the items in the kitchen, living and dining room had to get moved out, and three people really do have a lot of stuff!

Today Chubs was dispatched to my wonderful sister's house who was keen to have a day with her niece which was perfect for us. Dear Husband and I got stuck into the room putting things away, giving things away and throwing things away. Everything got covered in dust during the building work, so the dishwasher and washing machine have run non stop all day. Did I mention how much I love the dishwasher? It would have taken literally hours to have washed up everything that was covered with dust, but thankfully the machine did it all for us!

There is SPACE now, both in the living room and in Chubs' room. It's great to see her run around and have room to play and dance! Her bedroom is also a play room now, just perfect for our little girl.

New shelves
We got some cube shelving for Chubs' room which I think looks great. The idea is that she can bring one or two of the fabric drawers out to the living room each day, and then we can pack up at night. Before hand we were keeping toys in the living room (since that's where she played) but we can now keep more space free. The lover shelves are toddler height so she can get out and put away her own toys.

The colours of the drawers were more or less chosen for us, by what was available. However, it's actually worked out really well. Unfortunately I didn't get it in the photo, but you can just see the teeniest tiniest bit of the top of a rug at the bottom of the picture. It's the same rug in the background of these photos. It's made of hand felted pure wool balls which are stitched together. My mother gave it to Chubs for her first birthday. The rug was hand made by Nepalise women and sold through a fiar trade business. Because it's pure wool felt it's monstrously heavy and we haven't really hand any space for it (since all the floor was covered with junk) so it's really great that Chubs can have it in her room, and it matched perfectly and totally by accident.

change table
This is Chubs' change table. It's the same one that we've always had for her (and that I had a long time before that) but the position and arrangement is new to fit in the shelves. Nappies are in the pink shelves on their back and poo bins you can see in the front of the photo. Underneath the table are bulk items (wipes and disposables), overgrown sized nappies, some filing and my sewing machine and overlocker.

Repurposed shelves
The shelves on the wall actually used to hold our crockery in the kitchen. We were able to get them off the kitchen walls and thankfully they were in such good condition that we could put them up here. I have planned on using them for display, but we needed them mostly for storage in the end. I made the curtains when I was pregnant, there is also a sheer white and pink spotted curtain underneath for privacy during the day.

As I said above, much of this side is a mishmash of old shelves and drawers and cheap flimsy stuff, but it's doing it's job. As I said when we started the renos, everything we have been doing is a bonus. We have a home with food in it, electricity, safe water and love, everything after that is just the icing. When Chubs gets a bed in here, we will change this side a bit but it is certainly perfectly adequate.

We still have some more unpacking and sorting to do, although we did get a lot done today. It's hard not to lose momentum now that most of the work has been done, but we're almost there!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Shaker bottles - coloured rice

This good old toddler favourite is so easy. The only tricky part for us was that I didn't have any small bottles, so I had to go and buy some spring water!
1. Drink water. Keep bottle and lid. Remove label
2. Fill with whatever you want to shake (in this case coloured rice.) Obviously lines didn't stay like that after Chubs had had it for about two and a half seconds.
3. Put lid on. Tape or glue if you think necessary.
4. Shakeashakeashakea til it starts to look to ratty and not work well, then chuck it! We tent to get a few weeks out of each one.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Combination chicken noodle soup

While we were packing up the old kitchen and then unpacking everything into the new kitchen, I came across a cookbook which I bought about ten years ago. It's a Women's Weekly one called Cooking for beginners and I think I have made a grand total of ZERO recipes from it in the last decade. In my newly inspired domestic enthusiasm, I decided to makea few meals.

Dear Husband likes Asian noodle dishes, but I'm not super keen. I saw this recipe and decided to try it - he loves it and I like it, so it will probably make it's way onto our regular rotation.

I've made a few changes to the recipe.

- 1 chicken breast, poached (alternatively, I also used chicken meat from a roast chook the day before)
- 200g of roast pork (I bought it sliced from the deli)
- 1L chicken stock
- 1 packet of shelf fresh noodles
- cup of beansprouts
- 4 shalotts (green onions)
- pak choy

- Poach the chicken. (I do this at nap time then put in the fridge.)
- Heat stock in a large saucepan, bring to the boil.
- Chop shallots and pork and slice chicken
- Add chicken to stock, return to the boil
- Add all other ingredients. Separate noodles in the stock with tongs
- Keep cooking until all is cooked through.
- Use tongs to place noodles into bowls. Ladle soup over the top.
- Enjoy :)
- reduce heat and add all other ingreients

This is a recipe which is suited to an at-home day if poaching the chicken. Poach the chicken and chop everything up at nap time, then all that needs to be done in the evening is to toss it all together and cook. If you had precooked chicken (eg left over from a roast the night before, or prepurchased shreaded chicken) then it would be easy enough to prepare at dinner time.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Menu plan

It's a bit late, but here is this week's menu plan. I am enjoying actually planning meals and using our new kitchen, rather than just dragging ourselves through the monotomy of constant hunger-avoidance.

Last week:
Monday: Stir fry Instead I tried a new recipe - combination noodles, which was like an Asian chicken noodle soup. Dear Husband loved it and I thought it was ok, so it will probably become part of the regular rotation
Tuesday: Scavenge (I have a work function) I ended up cooking chicken bolognese on Monday night, and then we reheated for Tuesday night.
Wednesday: Bolognese (from the freezer) Dear Husband made stirfry
Thursday: Roast beef I really can't remember what we had, but it wasn't roast beef!
Friday: Roast beef leftover and salad Bolognese I think
Saturday: Chicken curry (from the freezer) We had family over on Saturday and were too stuffed to eat on Saturday night!
Sunday: Chicken bolognese Combnation chicken noodles

So, we didn't actually stick to it! Better luck this week!

Monday: Freezer bolognese + brussel sprouts and bacon bits
Tuesday: Stir fry - new recipe + brussel sprouts and bacon bits
Wednesday: Lemon chicken (to try with the new changes)
Thursday: freezer bolognese
Friday: Stir fry
Saturday: Roast beef
Sunday: Roast beef leftover salads

Friday, 15 February 2013


I made some little owls which are just too cute I think!


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Baked beans tip

My new pantry

Chubs loves baked beans. I've got no idea why - I think they're disgusting - but she seems happy so yay! We buy the salt reduced ones and they are pretty high in protein and fibre, so there's certainly worse food she could be having.

I hate having left over baked beans lurking in the back of the fridge to go off, and the super small tins are expensive, wasteful and not salt reduced. Chubs eat about a third of a tin, and she like them at room temperature (ick!)

Easy solution - when she has them for breakfast Dear Husband or I open a new tin, put a third into her bowl and let her go for it. The rest of the tin goes into two small plastic containers and tossed in the freezer. I then put these container into Chubs' lunch box on daycare days and they will heat them up for her.

Not wasting leftovers AND not having to do separate lunchbox prep works for me!

Chicken bolognese

Freezer bolognese is one of my stock staples. It's easy, cheap and it freezes well.

To break up the monotony, I sometimes use chicken mince. It's quite lean and freezes well although it does clump together more than beef.

Chubs loves it and it means that I don't have to cut it up!

Chicken Bolognese - very simple

This gives three -four adult serves, which for us is a normal sized serve for Dear Husband, a small serve for me and 3 - 4 toddler sized meals (which I toss in the freezer).

500g chicken mince
1 cups frozen veggies
1 tin tomatoes
1 jar pasta sauce

'Brown' the chicken mince so it goes white. If you wanted to add onion you could do that beforehand. Add the tomatoes, sauce and tomatoes. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with rice or pasta.

Super easy, super simple and a great staple. Freezes well, but only freeze if made with fresh chicken.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sewing/ craft tip and menu plan

Sometimes splitting up a big project into smaller sections which can be done during nap time is the only way to get any crafting done.

One way to do this is to cut out on one day, and then put it away to be sewn the next day, or the next week, or the next year.

The problem is, I have a mind like a sieve. So I need to label every piece, every partly done item. Write in on a piece of paper and pin it, with super detailed instructions. Makes much more sense when I pull it out again.

I haven't done menu planning in a long time, but I'm keen to get back into it. Especially now that we have the new kitchen, I'd like to try out some new meal which still suit my dead easy, cheap and healthy requirements.

Menu plan for this week:

Monday: Stir fry
Tuesday: Scavenge (I have a work function)
Wednesday: Bolognese (from the freezer)
Thursday: Roast beef
Friday: Roast beef leftover and salad
Saturday: Chicken curry (from the freezer)
Sunday: Chicken bolognese

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lemon herb chicken

We tried another meal tonight in my new kitchen experimentation plan. I'd been looking forward to making a lemon chicken, even though Dear Husband wasn't keen on fruity flavours with meat.

I'd looked at a few of the cook in bag kits to ease myself in, but a quick glance of the ingredients list and I saw that it was choc full of preservatives. Even for a domestically challenged person like myself, I figured I could do better.

I tried this recipe, and the verdict from both Dear Husband and me is that it wasn't great, but it has potential and is worth tweaking. I think it will end up on our regular rotation.

Here's what I actually did:

- two small chicken breasts, cut into large strips
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon chopped chives (dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsey (dried)

- 1/4 butternut pumpkin
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 sweet potato
- 3 medium potatoes
- avocado oil

1. Wash, peel and chop veggies. Parboil for five minutes. Toss in oil.
2. Put in oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes
3. Mix honey, lemon juice and herbs.
4. Chop chicken
5. Put one teaspoon of flour inside an oven bag and shake.
6. Put chicken and marinade into oven bag. Tie off and shake around. Continue to toss while veggies are roasting.
7. After the veggies have been in for 25 mins, add the chicken for another 20 mins.

What needs to change:
- I didn't preheat the oven, because things were toddler-nuts when I was putting it on and I wasn't sure if I would be able to get it started when I wanted to. This means that the actual cooking times were probably less.
- The veggies still aren't right. We've been experimenting with the roast veggies but each time I feel like the need to go in longer. Next time we will try cooking for 90 minutes or more to really crisp them up. It also needs some steamed green beans or something green and light - all the carb-y roast veggies are very heavy
- The chicken was cooked through but could use more time to crisp up. Another option might be to cook it uncovered, instead of in the oven bag.

What was good:
- The chicken was yummy! Dear Husband doesn't usually like fruity chicken meals, but he liked this one. If we crisp it up a bit it will be great.
- It's very easy to make. It's super easy to put it in the oven; actually I'm suprised that I was happy without a working oven for so many years. It's very toddler friendly to put something in the oven, block it off for safety and then eat later than it is to stand over the stove cooking something in the pan. It wouldn't be a good meal to do on a work day or when we were out all day - I'm not walking in the fdoor at 5:30 and starting a meal that will take hours to be finished. There was probably only about 15 mins of prep (max) but a lot of potential for things to go bad if there were any interruptions or delays. I'm a bit funny about freezing chicken meals, but it would be a good on-the-day meal. A good plan would be to 1) plan ahead so that I had the ingredients, 2) cut up the veggies, make the marinade etc at nap time and then 3) put the veggies on at 4:30ish , and then the chicken on an hour or so after that.

This is certainly an easy meal, but it would require planning. I think that we need to go back to meal planning, which is something that I stopped doing - pretty much because all we ever ate was spag bol and stir fry. I'm going to start planning again, and hopefully introducing a bit more variety. I'll still have my freezer stash of bolognese for crazy evenings (or weeks) as a fall back plan or a planned easy night, but hopefully they will stop being such a regular feature (although I do love spag bol - thank goodness!)

Real food link
Saturday link

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Roast beef


Now that we have the new kitchen (and a working oven) I've started cooking roasts which has been lovely, and very easy. So far I've been cheating and buying marinated roasts and cooking them in an oven bag. The veggies I've been doing are potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip and carrot. I have been parboiling then and tossing them with avocado oil, but they could go in for even longer to really crisp up.

We've been intentionally having the left over roast meat with salad the following night. Neither Dear Husband or I are keen on bubble and squeak so I need to cut back on the amount of veggies that I cook since they have been going to waste. I could make proper Shepherd's Pie with the roast one day, but salad is much easier in the mean time.



Friday, 8 February 2013

Cosleeping in the child's room

When talking about our adventures in cosleeping, the need for a different plan and ultimately going back to what we were doing in the first place, Becca commented that they had the family bed in the baby's room, rather than bring the baby into the master bed. I'd never thought of this before, but it seems like it could be a great solution. It wouldn't work for our family and the layout of our house, but it seems like a great option!

Our current approach hasn't changed much since our last update. Chubs feeds to sleep on our bed, then gets moved to her cot until first wake up, which could be anywhere between 11pm and 4am. She then comes in with us, and if she is taking up too much room the Dear Husband or I relocates (usually to the couch) for a few hours. Having tried it the other way, I'm certain that we all get more sleep this way. Yes, it's disrupted sleep - but my sleep has been disrupted for the last 20 months, and I'd rather be sleeping on the couch than standing awake over Chubs' cot patting her while she desperately asks to come into the big bed.

For her second birthday in a few months we are getting her a big girl bed, with a trundle. Perhaps she will be happy with one of us sleeping next to her on the trundle if needed. Even if she still wants/ needs the closeness of the big bed, a single bed in her room will allow whichever one of us who is bed-angel-ed out of the big bed to have somewhere comfy to sleep!


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Goodbye car

We said goodbye to our car today. I bought it seven years ago, not long after I met Dear Husband. We've had lots of fun adventures. Lots of four wheel driving (mostly beach), lots of road trips and lots of long commutes.

It was no spring chicken when I got it, and I certainly didn't treat it gently! Lots of ks and lots of sand.

It never had air con, was full of rust and the door handle kept breaking no matter how many times I replaced it. The muffler had busted and been repaired with a tin can before being replaced. The starter motor went one year over Christmas and we couldn't get a replacement in for a week or so, so we have to spend all week push starting it. I had to sit in the supermarket car park for half an hour with the car running while Dear Husband went in and grabbed some groceries. Every time it got a service ther was plenty of things which needed doing, but it was still an amazing car.

We only ever got it bogged twice, and not for lack of trying. It was a great zippy little beach car, and I would seriously consider getting another (newer) model in the future when we buy another 4WD. For many years Dear Husband and I were a one car family with it - even before we were a family. We drove around in that car while we were dating, through our engagment and first few years of marriage. We drove to and from all my pregnancy appointments in it and to the hospital when I was in labour. It was the car that we brough Chubs home from the hospital in.

We got a second car in the middle of last year, which has whizz bang features like air con, CD player, keyless entry, central locking, and doors that close properly. Oh, and automatic transmission - it took me a while to get used to that!

Still, my little red Suzui will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately it has an electrical fault somewhere which we just can't find, and not for lack of trying. It was continually cutting out - would go months at a time with no worries, and then would cut out again. When we couldn't drive two suburbs over without calling a tow truck, we knew it was time to let it go to the big sand dune in the sky.

The tow truck contractor picked it up today to take it to the wreckers. We couldn't even get it started to drive it onto the truck. Chubs keeps saying 'car babble babble babble gone', with actions to match.

So, goodbye to my little Suzi. Thanks for the memories. I know that you were just a car, but you were a daily part of a wonderful time of my life.

Linked to Inspiration Gallery

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Spoon rest hint

I've had this photo sitting around for a while but I don't think that I've been able to upload it.

I have an oversized coffee cup which is perfect as a spoon rest - much better than using a saucer or the onces that sit flat on the bench. Using it works for me!


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Milksharing article

This is a very interesting article about donor milk which has just been released by an expert researcher in the field. I talked about donor milk for World Milksharing Week last year . This article is a good resource and overview of the issues, as well as looking at future directions.
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