Monday, 27 May 2013

Menu plan

Well, plans have a habit of not quite working out that way... :)

Here's the updated version of what we were supposed to eat last week:

Monday 20/5: I've changed this to chilli con carne with rice, corn chips and salad since we didn't have the hot chook last night (was Asian chicken noodle soup ) All good
Tuesday 21/5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer) I've started putting red kidney beans in the Bolognese too. All good
Wednesday 22/5: Stir fry Silly me - I was trying to be prepared and got the frozen Bolognese for Tuesday night out of the freezer on Monday night and put it in the fridge to defrost. Totally forgot about this on Tuesday, and got a new one out of the freezer. So, we needed to use up the one in the fridge so we had Bolognese again.
Thursday 23/5: Crumbed chicken with roast veggies (instead of parmesan)
I was coming down with a cold on Thursday (which is still hanging on) and the idea of doing a roast just didn't happen. Freezer Bolognese again.
Friday 24/ 5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer) After Bolognese three nights in a row, we were getting a little over it so we got a takeaway hot chook which is a bit of a Friday night favourite.
Saturday 25/5: Stir fry Since we had the hot chook on Friday, we did Asian chicken noodle soup. It hadn't been planned so I bought some fresh pak choy on Saturday morning but forgot the chicken stock. We usually use the liquid tetra stuff, but I had to run up to the corner store which only had stock cubes. There were an acceptabel substitute, but we do like the liquid tetra packs better.
Sunday 26/5: Scavenge A last minute invitation from my mum for early dinner was accepted with much enthusiasm! 

Plan for the next fortnight:

Monday 27/5 Crumbed chicken and roast veg (also do daycare cupcakes)
Tuesday 28/5 Bolognese
Wednesday 29/5 Chilli con carne (make large batch to freeze, eat one serve each tonight)
Thursday 30/5 Stir fry
Friday 31/5 Bolognese
Saturday 1/6 Slow cooker chicken curry
Sunday 2/6 Scavenge

Monday 3/6 Chilli con carne with rice, corn chips and salad
Tuesday 4/6 Asian chicken noodle soup
Wednesday 5/6 Parmesan chicken with roast veg
Thursday 6/6 Stir fry
Friday 7/6 Hot chook with chips and steamed veggies
Saturday 8/6 Bolognese
Sunday 9/6 Scavenge

Sunday, 26 May 2013

New handbag - again

Well, I caved. The smaller handbag I was going to try? Nope, I couldn't do it. Feel free to tell me "I told you so".
Der Husband and Chubs bought me this one for Mothers' Day. It's actually quite big, the photo makes it look shorter than it is.
So, why the switch back? Well, two main reasons. Now that Chubs has pretty much toilet trained, we don't always need the nappy bag - sometimes one nappy, a pack of wipes, a change of undies and a snack in my handbag is enough for a short trip. Also, since I have a tablet now, I'm often carrying it around too.
This one has both short handles and a long strap. Long strap is essential - means I can put it over my shoulder when carrying Chubs (plus nappy bag plus play group snacks plus picnic rug plus potty et al) out of the car when we aren't taking the stroller.
So yes, in short, I couldn't do it. I do still love my little bag though and will keep it for kid free outings :)

Friday, 24 May 2013


This was doing thr rounds and I found it exceptionally funny.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Chicken freezer hint

Since we got our new oven, I've been doing roast chicken pieces a lot. Since I like to do pretty much everything in bulk, I'll cut up the breasts into strips and cover with the crumb or otherwise prepapre it.

Freeze in meal sized portions (and labelled) and I toss it all in the freezer. The day before we are going to eat it I pop it in the fridge to defrost and then into the oven for dinner time.
I would much rather get my hands messy and crumby once, and then be good for a few weeks. It also means that i can do the time consuming crumbing bit at a convenient time, not at disaster whyisn'tdinnerreadyyet!!!! time. 
I only ever do this with fresh chicken, so it only gets frozen once.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Crumbed chicken

This faily simple meal is on frequent rotation at our house.
Ingredients: (to serve four)
- two large chicken breasts
- 1 egg and a small amount of milk whisked together
- 1 - 2 cups of breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of flour
Roughly slice chicken breasts into large strips
Put the flour, egg and milk, and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls.
Make an 'assembly line' - coat each piece of chicken in flour, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs.
*If freezing, then put in the freezer at this step*
Put some olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the chicken strips in the pan. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. Check that the chicken is well cook all the way through by cutting a strip at the widest point. There should be no pink at all.
Serve with roast veggies and some steamed green beans and carrot. Lemon juice is yummy on the chicken :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Monday menu plan

Monday 13/5 : Hot chook (from the supermarket) with steamed carrot and beans
Tuesday 14/ 5: Asian chicken noodle soup (with Monday's leftover chicken)
Wednesday 15/ 5: Crumbed roast chicken with roast veggies and steamed green beans and carrots.
Dear Husband was very sick this week, so chicken noodle soup was the way to go. Luckily I'd been slack and hadn't crumbed and frozen the chicken breasts on Monday night when I intended to, so I poached said chicken on Wednesday night, and we had Asian chicken noodle soup for dinner on Wednesday and Thursday. No veggies on Thursday because we'd run out and I didn't have the energy. Some days you do what you gotta' do.
Thursday 16/ 5: Beef stir fry (Dear Husband) See above
Friday 17/5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer)
Saturday 18/5: scavenge
I had said scavenge since DH was going out, however we were all ill this week and that didn't happen. We had chilli con carne from the freezer instead.
Sunday 19/ 5: Hot chook Crazy exhausting day and we didn't even have the energy to go out for a hot chook, so we had Bolognese.

Monday 20/5: I've changed this to chilli con carne with rice, corn chips and salad since we didn't have the hot chook last night (was  Asian chicken noodle soup )
Tuesday 21/5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer) I've started putting red kidney beans in the Bolognese too. (insetad of chilli since we'll have that on Monday.
Wednesday 22/5: Stir fry
Thursday 23/5: Crumbed chicken with roast veggies (instead of parmesan)
Friday 24/ 5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer)
Saturday 25/5: Stir fry
Sunday 26/5: Scavenge


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Guest posting: feeding your family when flying solo

I've been guest posting! If you want to read my post about Feeding your family when flying solo, head over to Double Blessing Boutique.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Kitchen tip

To avoid the bin smellies, we toss the chicken carcass into the freezer until bin day. Great idea, until bin day comes and I forget. Then, before you know it, there's more meat scraps in the freezer than edible meat.

Solution: Write on the bag. Ground breaking stuff, I know. No more opening a bag to work out if I'm throwing out a meal. Win.

Yes, I do feel the need to point out the massive luxuries assumed in this post. If we skip over electricity, internet access and abundant food in general, we can move on to enough freezer space to 'lose' something in there, meat 'scraps' being tossed without a second thought, a hot chook shop a five minute drive away, a car to drive in and enough money to run the car and pay for the chook and the elecricity for the freezer and the internet, and of course the magic rubbish truck which comes weekly to take rubbish 'away'.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Easy dinner

Some days, easy is what you need.

A very easy go-to meal for us is a roast chook from the shop with veggies. Simple, dead easy, and then I use the leftover chicken for Asian chicken noodle soup the following night.

Between $10.50 and $13 for a roast chicken doesn't make this the most frugal meal, however it does provide meat for the next night as well. It's only a few dollars more to purchase a roasted, seasoned and stuffed chook as it is to buy a raw one, and about a million times easier than prepping and cooking it myself. By the time I factor in the electricity for the oven (and ignoring my time) then the purchased roast chook is the way to go. It's also much cheaper than most take away meals, and much healthier.

I probably plan this meal half the time (with soup the next day), and we also have it either on a disaster day or just a 'let's take the easy option tonight'. Nothing fancy or Earth-shattering by any means, but easy, healthy, a kinda-frugal = win.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Why formula is not poison

I came across this link recently, and I believe this mother makes an excellent point.

Formula is not white poison. It's not heroin. It's not the enemy.

Can I say that again loud and clear. FORMULA IS NOT THE ENEMY.

Formula is a breastmilk substitute. A substitute, a replacement, an alternative. Even the frigging WHO Code refers to ‘breast milk substitutes’. There’s a reason it’s not called the “International Code of Marketing of Baby Poisons”.

If I can’t teach a class, they get a relief teach in as a substitute. Not a criminal, but a substitute teacher. If I don’t have a bib when we’re out, I can substitute with a napkin. Not with a sheet of asbestos, but with an acceptable alternative. If the route to work is closed due to traffic, I can go the long way round. Not give up on work entirely, but find a different route.

Yes, formula is not as good as breastmilk. Yes, it carries risks (but so do all methods of feeding). Yes, donor milk is often (but not always) a better alternative. But formula is an acceptable substitute.

Existing readers of my blog will know that I have some pretty strong views about the unethical advertising of formula, but that does not mean that the product is bad. I think that a lot of the marketing techniques of pharmaceutical companies are pretty abysmal (and in many ways similar to formula companies) but that doesn’t mean that I think medications are evil. Actually, medications are very similar to formula – in some cases they are essential and lifesaving, and in many cases they are ‘just’ helpful and convenient. Medications, like formula, are susceptible to being used inappropriately and their use needs to be carefully managed to minimise the risks – but they aren’t the cause of everything bad in the world. They are a GOOD THINGS - sometimes used inappropriately and dangerously (often fuel on by dodgy marketing) – but still fundamentally a GOOD THING.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Gluten free, dairly free, fructose malabsorption and awesome-full.

Dear Husband and I are quite lucky that we have very few dietary issues to negotiate. The most taxing thing that we have to deal with is that fact that - apparently, everyone needs to eat every day. Several times a day, apparently. Sigh.

(Let's ignore the day last week where Chubs' behaviour was stinkingly awful all afternoon, and at four o'clock I realised that I hadn't given her lunch. Let's ignore that, bit time.)

We try to eat fairly healthly and fairly frugally. We mostly eat at home and kind-of from scratch. I'm happy to open a jar or a tin, but we try to stay away from preprepared meals. We try to keep our sugar, fat and preservatives low and minimise processed foods.

But - and it's a really big but - we don't HAVE to. We can have a sneaky take away meal without too much carnage. We can treat ourselves with junk every now and again, and we have no trouble finding something to eat from a menu on the rare occasions when we do eat out.

This luxury which we enjoy - food of plenty - is not extended to many. To quote my aunt on the weekend, 'I really can't think of many things that would be worse than being unable to feed your family.'

Our family is doubly fortunate - not only do we have an abundance of  available food (and over abundance actually, as I just tossed some slimy lettuce and mouldy tomatoes into the bin) but when push comes to shove, we can pretty much eat whatever we want. We like to eat a certain way and vertainly notice a difference in our health and functioning, but we have a multitude of healthy, available and affordable options.

No so for everyone. I'm sure I'm not telling anyone anything new that others diets are restricted, in some cases quite significantly. Two friends of mine, Penni and Gemma, both have to negotiate different complex and demanding restrictions.

Penni blogs her adventures in dairy free and gluten free meals at pennicooks . Her meals are healthy, frugal and kid friendly. Gemma blogs at Glimpsing Gembles about Hashimoto's disease, fructose malabsorption and other dietry constrains. Head on over and have a look.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Partial solar eclipse

There was a partial solar eclipse visible on Friday (full annular eclipse visible from Cape York.) Chubs and I made a very very simple pinhole viewer - a cardboard biscuit box cot in half with a 2mm-ish hole poked in it. I held it up so the shadow fell on a white folding chair. Here's the bit you'll have to trust me on. That teeny bit of non-shade that looks round? It was actually round, with a little bite taken out of it. That is, a partial solar eclipse. Because it was last minute it wasn't very big and the poor resolution on the tablet camera didn't show the 'bite'.

Still, it was good to see something that won't be visible in this part of the world for another forty years or so, and was a great follow on from the transit of Venus earlier in the year.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Operation ReClaim Our Bed: SUCCESSFUL

To the people who told me 'you'll never get her out of your bed'
To the people who told me 'time to toughen up'
To the people who told me 'you'll regret starting bad habits'

...this post is respectfully dedicated to you.

Here is the current set up of Chubs' bed.

The only change from the last update is that we slipped a pool noodle under the fitted sheet to make it harder for her to roll out on that side. It's not perfect and she has rolled onto the trundle, but it helps. If we didn't have the trundle we would get another bed rail or rearrange the bed against a wall.

This picture also shows the trundle with its legs folded away, which is how we use it pretty much every night.

I am officialy declaring ORCOB successful. After the first few weeks of me sleeping in with her most of the time, Chubs is now mostly happy to be by herself all night long. She sleeps through most (not all) nights. If I do need to go in, I give her a cuddle and a pat and give her back her dummy. If this isn't enough to get her back to sleep then I lie with her for a short, quick feed full of sleepy hormones for both of us. A few times I've fallen asleep in her bed for a little while, generally I'm only in there for about two minutes then I go back to our bed. When she does wake I'm out of bed for less that five minutes then back to bed - about the same as getting up to pee or get a glass of water.

Weeks before her second birthday, she is happily sleeping (mostly) alone in her own room. At this stage I expect that night feeds will gradually fade away, as did her need for constant closeness all.night.long.

My husband and I have our bed 'back' - as much as any parents of a young child do. She toddles in in the mornings, blankie trailing behind her and teddy under her arm. She comes up to me and with a dummy in her mouth and about three more in her hands (just in case, sigh...) she gives me the most precious, sweetest smile and says 'Mummy milk peease Mummy' and gives me a kiss. I drag my exhausted body into the arena of the awoken, pull her up onto our bed and have milky snuggles for a few minutes. 'Other side?' is then followed by 'outside?' and we're all up and off - ready to face the day of cereal and toilet training and colouring in and Peppa Pig.

We were certainly keen to have Chubs in her own room earlier, but after a while it became clear that she wasn't ready, and that all our plan was achieving was less sleep for everyone. So we waited a few months, though again about the needs of all three people in our family, came up with a new loving and respectful plan, and gently tried it out. In the space of less than a month Chubs gently transitioned into usually sleeping though usually all by herself. No crying, no screaming, no disasters.

Now, this won't work for every family. Heck, it didn't work for our family a few months ago. But what did work was doing what worked for us, now, at this point, with what we had, valuing what was important to us.

To the people who told me 'do whatever you need to do so you all get the sleep you need'
To the people who showed me the data and science that shows that safe cosleeping is indeed very safe
To the people who taught me about milk production, supply and demand, breast compressions, feeding lying down and sleepy hormones
To the people who listened to my whinging about capital-H-ing, waking up with a foot in my face and a dummy in my ear or getting kicked out to the couch who understood that I was venting about a good approach that may not have been perfect
To the people who asked me 'in the end, does it really matter?'

and to the two people I love most in the world, with whom I share my love, my body, my home, my hopes, my dreams, my heart - and sometimes my bed,

...this post is also for you.


Monday menu plan

** The conclusion to Operation ReClaim Our Bed is here**

I've been a bit slack with meal planning, but hoping to get back into it for the next little while. I'm also going to start planning fortnightly as we're going to change the way we do shopping. I'm also planning a lot more specifically (including writing two shopping lists). We'll try this for a little while and see how it goes - stay tuned.

Monday 13/5 : Hot chook (from the supermarket) with steamed carrot and beans
Tuesday 14/ 5: Asian chicken noodle soup (with Monday's leftover chicken)
Wednesday 15/ 5: Crumbed roast chicken with roast veggies and steamed green beans and carrots.
Thursday 16/ 5: Beef stir fry (Dear Husband)
Friday 17/5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer)
Saturday 18/5: scavenge
Sunday 19/ 5: Hot chook

Monday 20/5:  Asian chicken noodle soup (with Sunday's leftover chicken)
Tuesday 21/5: Chilli con carne (the same as what we made on our bulk cooking day) with rice, corn chips and salad.
Wednesday 22/5: Stir fry
Thursday 23/5: Roast parmesan chicken with road veggies
Friday 24/ 5: Spaghetti and rice Bolognese (freezer)
Saturday 25/5: Stir fry
Sunday 26/5: Roast beef with roast veggies


Sunday, 12 May 2013


If you missed it, here is Operation ReClaim Our Bed Part 1

After a couple of weeks the bed (with trundle) was delivered. I'm getting very handy with an allen key these days, I can assure you.

Assembling the trundle (legs set up)

There was another suprise - the trundle has legs! I had no idea that the trundle has fold away legs. The castors are on the side of spring loaded folding legs, so you can use it either as a conventional trundle, or simple lift the ends up to fold the legs out to have a full sized, normal height single bed. There was nothing in the online description about this, and when we looked in store it never occured to me that there might be hidden folding legs.

Beds set up

The bed and the trundle would have been the same height, but we bought a slightly thinner mattress for the trundle so there would be plenty of space for bedding (so we could roll it away made up.)

We put a bed rail (the one which used to be on our bed) on the side of the bed near Chubs' drawers, and of course the trundle on the other.

We spent a few more nights like this (usually with the trundle low). I would feed Chubs to sleep on her bed, then leave her. At first wake up I would go in and feed her/ pat her/ put the dummy in/ cuddle or whatever she needed. She was still rolling around a lot and we had to do lots of padding around the trundle. Some nights I would stay in with her; a few times I ended up in her bed and she was on the trundle. Other nights she was happy for a feed or a cuddle, and then I went back to our bed.

I still need to get a clock for the room so I know what time it is (I hate not knowing), and I need to remember to take my phone with me when I go in (since I use it as my alarm). I haven't been able to fins a night like that will suit but we've moved the lamp that is in there so it's not so bright.

Update #3 here


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Operation ReClaim Our Bed

Some of you may remember a few months ago when we tried to get Chubs sleeping in her cot more. I'm a huge huge fan of cosleeping, and I'm sure that we all get much more sleep that way. It's looked different for us at different stages, but it was getting to the stage where Chubs was just getting too big. Through Operation Sleep Rule Change we tried to gently transition Chubs into her cot more. However, after a little while it was apparent that the plan wasn't working and she just wasn't ready. I wasn't prepared to make the smallest, youngest and most vulnerable member of our family carry the biggest burden of 'making sleep work' for the whole family, so we abandoned the plan.

We went back to what we were doing - usual bedtime routine finishing with Chubs feeding to sleep on our bed. I would then transfer her to her cot where she slept happily until she work anywhere between 11pm and 4am. She would then come into our bed for a quick feed and cuddles and we all went back to sleep. Sometimes she took up too much room and Dear Husband or I relocated somewhere else for a few hours or the rest of the night. In our minds musical beds is much much much better than sleep deprivation.

Six or seven months passed, and (as they always do) things changed. Chubs is getting bigger and older. Her language skills have developed dramatically, so we can explain things more than we could in the past. She is also getting physically bigger and can easily take up a queen sized bed if she wants to -sigh. We always intended to buy her a bedroom suite when she turned two so we just moved that forward a little bit.

We intentionally bought her a trundle bed, firstly to facilitate more comfortable sleep sharing and secondly because we don't have a guest bedroom. So, we ordered the furniture, packed away the cot and got her new room ready.

Two new mattresses (bed and trundle)
New drawers and new bedside table (covered with white doona)

A fortunate complication occured. The bed was on back order, so while the mattresses and drawers were delivered in a few days, we had to wait a few weeks for the bed. This means that Chubs' room was set up like above for the first few weeks.

During this time, she fed to sleep on her mattress. Later on I joined her on the trundle mattress. Everyone was very happy with this arrangment. She certainly tried testing the new situation to see what the rules were - she would get up and walk out of the room at bed time, but after being directed back in she eventually learned that that endeavour was not going to be successful.

Whilst I did miss sharing a bed with Dear Husband for these few weeks, it's a good reminder that I like to share a bed with someone else for comfort, too. I'm a fully grown adult, who understands object permanence, who is well adjusted and emotionally secure (apparently) and who know how to ask for help. And I still LIKE to share a bed. If our family needed to split up its sleeping, I think that it is fairer to separate the adults for a time, rather than to force a toddler to endure loneliness while Dear Husband and I get to snuggle up all night long.

The first few night were a bit disrupted. Even though it was the same room that Chubs had slept in since the night she came home from hospital, it does look different with the new furniture. The night light was too bright for me and I didn't sleep well, and she rolled around and around and around! She rolled off the mattress a few times onto the floor, and so we covered the bedside table with a fluffy doona to make it softer until the new bed arrived. It is a big change for her, and I'm happy to sleep with her to help her through it.

I certainly was MUCH MUCH MUCH more comfortable on the floor with my own mattress all to myself, rather than in the big bed with her capital-H-ing us in the back. As much as I miss Dear Husband at night, we are all getting a lot more sleep and Dear Husband and I are much more comfortable.

ORCOB Part 2
ORCOB Part 3


Friday, 10 May 2013

Bulk cooking day - with a friend!

Two toddlers, 20 serves of dinner, some yummy treats - what a day! A friend of mine teamed up with me to dip our toe into the world of joint cooking, and ultimately it was a success! We decided to start small, since we weren't sure howmuch we would be able to get through.
How we did it:
- We decided what meals to make ahead of time. She was buying and making food for chili con carne and some banana bread, and I was in charge of the Bolognese. We kept track of how much we spent and fixed up the difference at the end.
This became ten small family meals of Bolognese

- She brought all her ingredients and her beautiful almost one-year-old to my place. The girls had lots of 'practise' at sharing toys. Both are eldest/ only children and are both used to having the run of the joint. To have to share toys was a good learning experience for them! They had a lovely time together and Chubs was talking about her little friend all evening after they left.

- One of us was on cooking duty and then other was chasing the girls, and then we switched.
I'm suprised that any of the banana bread made it to the freezer -it was sooooooooooo yummy

We started small, since we didn't want to have a massive cooking day with half finished meals and screaming children. Now that we have a good idea of what we can do and what meals our families like, we'll probably scale up next time.

Chilli con carne - some for last night's dinner, some for the freezer.

We made just the main part of the meals, not complete meals. This is a very effective way to take the fuss out of dinner and just put on some spaghett, rice, potatoes or similar to go with the meat. (Dear Husband and I had sneaky corn chips with our chilli last night as well.)

What we made: (a 'dinner' is a dinner for our families - two parents and one toddler)
- Two dinners of crumbed chicken strips (just me)
- Six dinners of Bolognese (three each)
- Four dinners of chilli con carne (two each)
- Two loaves of banana bread (one each)

As well as making all that, we cleaned it up (well, the dishwasher did most of it!), chased little girls, cleaned up spills and wet pants, changed nappies, fed and ate lunch, played with blocks and toys and books and generally dealt with usual play date madness. The best part is, we got to take five dinners home and yummy banana bread too!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Is a toy for a girl or a boy?

An oldie but a goodie - perhaps this may help. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Freezing baby bolognese

When I do a bulk cook up, I make sure to put a small amount in several small containers for the freezer. These are perfect for dinner for Chubs if she's not eating with us - quickly reheated and easily eaten. Yum!

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