Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Last night, after her 6.30pm feed, I popped this little sleeping angel into her bassinet.
Out came the iPad to capture this sweet moment.
My little 7 month old Celeste, warmly plump and sleeping in her tiny bed.
Within the next week we are making the shift into a big bed.
It is a moment to capture and cherish.
She is growing but I shall keep this moment always.
Linking for Wordless Wednesday with My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Quick Frittata

I have always viewed frittata as an emergency meal. The sort of meal you eat when you've not had a chance to visit the grocer, the cupboards are bare and you are too fatigued to bother cooking. Or, there are lots of eggs...
I recently began thinking about eggs again. Our chickens (we had 4), were on a strike. We have not had fresh, home-grown eggs for several months. When there were eggs, one of the hens was eating them. Since the hens are all brown and look identical, we could never nail the culprit! 
Well a few weeks back we found one of our hens had passed away. Since her demise, our chooks have been on a laying bonanza.
Suddenly I understand the terms 'hen pecked' and 'pecking order.' Clearly there is some truth to them. Whatever, (or whoever) had been bothering my girls is no longer an issue and the party's on!
My fridge has been brimming with perfect quality eggs since. (Sorry chooky, whichever one you were).
I am pretty excited about all the potentials to say the least.
Yippee chickees!
This picture, taken a while ago, may or may not contain the deceased chicken - who knows!

Here is my own recipe for the yummy frittata pictured. Great for using up the odd vegies remaining in the vege bin of your fridge. The good thing about making frittatas is the fun you can have with the ingredients. Sloppy quantities of whatever filling you prefer makes a great frittata. The only limitation being the size of your baking dish.

My frittata contains:

4-5 thinly sliced baking potatoes
Sweet potato also thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced.
2 tomatoes, sliced
Sliced leek. (Small quantity).
Grated tasty cheese
Frozen sliced beans
8 eggs
Salt, pepper, dill and parsley

I prepared all my vegies in a Tefal Fresh Express. It was really quick to process the vegies and grate the cheese. This meal's raw ingredients were ready to bake in 5 minutes. If you have a food processor with a slicing disc, you might use it instead of hand slicing. 
Of course, you can just slice everything by hand instead! Make sure everything's sliced very finely to speed up the cooking time of the root vegies.
Splash olive oil into a baking dish.
Layer all sliced vegies with cheese between each layer. Finish by topping with sliced tomato rings.
Whisk the eggs with a splash of milk (half a cup or so) and add the seasoning.
Pour the egg mix over your vegetables and top with a generous amount of grated cheese. 
Bake at around 180 degrees for about 30-40 mins. I like to cover the dish with foil to really cook the vegetables well before removing this around 10 mins before the end so that it browns.

Serve with salad.


Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT today.
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Monday, 29 July 2013

MyProsperity - A Review

I was really excited to be given the opportunity to review the new MyProsperity website.
The free online 'tool' has come at a perfect time for us. We are currently reviewing our financial situation and goals in a big way as we plan for the next 5 years with this ever-evolving family.
Like most other people, we have car loans, a mortgage, various budgets, school expenses and a whole plethora of financial things on the go.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to keep up.
Add the 6 kids and their daily needs and you can see how easy it is to lose touch with this most important aspect of life - finances.
I don't have a lot of time in any average day, (in fact, I have very little time ever) and I confess to placing finances at the top of my boring list. Necessary but dull!

So I joined MyProsperity to check it all out.

MyProsperity allows users to bring all their financial goings-on into the one place.
On this website, you can securely link all of your financial accounts: superannuation, mortgage, personal loans, car loans, credit cards, bank accounts, shares etc.
Your details are protected with bank level security. No-one can access your accounts or information so no need to worry about any unauthorised transactions occurring.
Importantly, you cannot make transactions from any of your listed accounts - they are purely linked for your budgeting requirements and goal setting - your personal use.
This saves you time and hassle as you won't need to open endless sites online or rummage through files to get the information from all those institutions handling your money. One password can reveal all!

It's a great way to see how you are spending your cash and hopefully saving it too.
This is a budgeting tool which operates in real time.
Once you have entered all of your bank accounts, MyProsperity can automatically organise your spending by auto-filing it into categories for you. For example, you can see how much you are spending on groceries and petrol.
Doing this the old fashioned way has proven to be a disaster for me in the past. What starts out as a well-intentioned goal, ends very quickly. I just run out of time to deal with it.

The creators of MyProsperity clearly know that this must be the case with most people.
The user friendly site has nice large prompts and simple wording to make organising your financial goals quick and clear and even a little fun! (Yes, it really did interest me when presented like this)!
Here's some screen shots:

I especially loved the Not Now button option on many of the pages! This means I can come back later and carry on where I left off when the kids need me!
Another feature of the site is a free valuation of your home or car if you so desire. You can also generate a financial score which will let you know how close you are to achieving your goals by staying on budget.
Since another financial year has drawn to a close, for us it means we can now review our goals and set new ones for the coming year. I think this program will help us draw everything together and be better organised. I intend to begin uploading my details onto the site in the coming weeks and get our busy life a little more under control. We'd love a trip to Queensland soon. We'd also love to see those loans reduce faster!
After trying it, I highly recommend the program. The fact that it can be tailored to our life and all for free is extremely attractive to us. Do have a look!
Product Talk by Nuffnang
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Friday, 26 July 2013

And the Liebster Award goes to...

I am sobbing like a pageant winner - I have just received the coveted Liebster Award from fellow blogger Jodie at Fresh Home Cook. I am touched! Thank you Jodie!
The Liebster is passed around the blogging circuit as a way to get to know one another. It's a newbie award for bloggers on the rise.
Jodie has offered me 11 questions which I must answer.
I must add 11 additional facts about myself.
I must then nominate another 11 bloggers and provide a new set of set of 11 questions (Liebster Awards) to be passed around.
Sounds like a lot of fun to me!

Let's get started then!

1.  Tea or coffee?

I actually dislike both! Tea and coffee make me feel queasy. The smell of coffee is great until it is brewed. Happy to bury my face in a bag of coffee beans though. Chocolate coated coffee beans are even better and very yum too.
Tea drinking brings back dull childhood memories of waiting around while old ladies gossiped about nothing and being dead-bored while they did so.
I do drink herbals and my current favourite is Twinings Infusions Chamomile, Honey and Vanilla flavoured tea. This smells so good that my kids even asked for a cup of it!

 2.  Chocolate or cheese?

Trick question for me right? I am a chocoholic of mega proportions. In fact I am yet to meet a single person who consumes more of this stuff than me.
Are you ready for it? In the height of my choc addicted state, I will happily chow down on 2 family blocks a day! (Sometimes more, gulp). If you continue to offer it I won't decline either! Bad I know.
I will also skip a meal in favour of devouring a family block. My weakness is Nestle brands and I do love the white varieties too.
I recently kicked the chocolate habit for the time being. I am breastfeeding and the two just don't mix...sigh. (But when it's all over, nothing will hold me back...NOTHING)!

3.  What did you want to be when you grew up?

1) An archaeologist.
2) A paleontologist
3) I was fascinated by television when I was a kid so I was very keen on something to do with that.
4) An opera singer
5) Famous. Have discovered this one is most unattainable!

4.  What is your favourite post from your blog?

Hmmm, I think my post about pregnancy loss (ectopic) is on the top of the charts. You can view it here.
Also, my post about choosing a nappy bag has been very popular.
I really don't know. I hope I can impart a piece of myself and my life in all my posts and as I change daily, I just can't answer that question - I'll throw that one out to you readers!

 5.  What is your one skill you wish you had?

I would love a better memory. My brain is a little slow these days (hopefully it's hormonal...please let it be hormonal)!
Imagine what you could do with all that information you have gathered in the course of your life if you could just recall it all at once. Wow!

 6.  If money wasn’t a factor what would your ideal ‘job’ be?

I think I would love to help women and children in poor countries. Better education, health services, opportunities and protections would make me supremely happy for my third world sisters. I love the global sisterhood. I think it is wonderful when celebrities become philanthropists and spread their wealth in actions. If I were filthy rich, that is what I would do.

 7.  What is your most worn and loved piece of clothing / attire?

Okay. I am wearing this baby now. It's a pink fleecy bathrobe from Sussan. I like to wear it around the house over my clothing. It is warm and snuggy. It keeps me happy. It needs a wash. Badly. I cannot bear to remove it as it is just too cold. I might weep like a child if someone were to force me to wash it - it's my adult binky.
(No there will not be pictures. I have one but it's just not for sharing).

 8.  Where is your best holiday destination & why?

I spent my honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was fabulous. Beyond words. What a place. Great food, great climate and extraordinary scenery. Kind of similar to Australia but in a sexy, glamorous way.

 9.  What is your favourite kitchen gadget and why?

My dishwasher. I say aloud every evening when I am clearing the kitchen "Thank God I've got a dishwasher." Don't live without one. I actually get to sit down sometimes now. More of an appliance really.
Otherwise, a spoon. Even cavemen had these.

 10.  Board shorts or budgie smugglers (Speedos)?

Board shorts are definitely sexier. Though a good-looking guy could make a garbage bag hot attire.

11.  What is your earliest childhood memory?

This freaks my Mom out, but I can remember my polio vaccination at the age of 6 months! I can vividly recall the entire experience for her and she is just wowed! I even remember the sensation of being held up under the armpits to take the pink medicine off the spoon. Just before the vaccines, I remember lying flat on my back in the pram under a pram toy and seeing the sky for the first time. I also recall a weird sensation (or 'thought') that I was back! Make of that what you will!
Be careful Mommys about your actions in front of your 6 month olds. They are watching you!

Eleven facts about me:

I dislike carrots. I only like them if they are grated or roasted. They kind of freak me out. Why are they orange? And hard? They are just plain weird. How does something so orange come out of brown earth?

When I was twelve I made my mother take me to a casting agent. I was signed on the spot. I worked in 100's of television series and Australian movies over a 14 year period. I loved it! I paid my way through 5 years of university on my earnings. My first job was an extra with the ABC. That was when I realised I really wanted to work in the media. I remember being in front of the camera but thinking at that moment I was destined to work behind it - I was hooked. (Incidently, I studied media at university). 
The most stupid thing I ever did was turn down a movie offer. Australian director Baz Luhrmann chose me via my agent's casting book to appear in Strictly Ballroom. I declined. I had a work promotion at the time. Besides, it sounded like a bad title. Bad choice Jody! 
That was fact number 3.

My Grandmother was a very important influence in my life. She could cook, sew and socialise like no other. She was a lot of fun and love. She died when I was 13.

I collect handbags and love shoes. Really, probably too much. I spend a lot of time looking at these things on the internet...

I collect Holly Hobbie things. Remember those?! I love the sentiments on them. My daughter has a mirror with 'Happiness is having someone to love' written on it. With 6 kids I can now understand it and confirm this as true.

I love Pop Tarts.

I love lemon tarts. I will travel far and wide to sample them. They must be the finest quality too, not just the average bakery kind. If I eat them in silence (ie. the conversation stops), then I know I have found a winner.
As good as it gets!
I am totally over housework. 

I am a bit of a control freak. Okay, quite a bit of a control freak. 

I love reading Harry Potter. Those books can sweep me away. I love a good book in general. I am well-read on the topic of genocide. I find the existence of it incredible. One of the most unbelievable books I have read was First They Killed My Father (Loung Ung) about Cambodia. I highly recommend it but be warned, it is very unsettling.

And that's it for me.
Time to pass on my new set of questions to my nominated bloggers:

1) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
2) What do you love most about your life right now?
3) What are you carrying around in your handbag at this time?
4) Do you remember what prompted you to begin blogging?
5) An interesting fact about your ancestry?
6) Your favourite colour is? Why?
7) Summer or Winter?
8) How would you spend $2 million?
9) What is your favourite skincare / makeup product and why?
10) A character trait you have?
11) What are you enjoying on television at present?

And the Nominees are:

KCMS Family
Life Living
Slapdash Mama
The Bumpiest Path
Bub Sweat and Tears
Soul Bare Mama
Travelling Macs
Behind The Barr
Online Vintage

I need 1 more nominees at the time of publishing this post so if you are a blogger who'd love to receive this award or know of another newbie or up and coming, please email me and I shall add to this list!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment below.
If you are not already following my blog, I would love it if you did.
Please LIKE my Facebook page (buttons at the top of this post) and help me grow my readership!
Many, many thanks. XX

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wordless Wednesday

We recently re-homed our dog Luna.
Before she departed, I photographed each of my 6 children with
Here is my eldest of the boys, Kiowa, aged 11.
I just love this photo, snapped with my new DSLR camera.
I love the lighting, the balance and subject of this picture.
I also love the posed and formal look on the dog's face.
It reminds me of an old master's painting from the National Gallery.
This picture will remain a favourite for years to come.

Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesdays.
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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Journey from Preschooler to school

I am watching my 5 year old son change rapidly in the year before school.
It is a time when the little boy gives way to the bigger boy.
He is learning things fast now. Becoming so much more independent.
Questioning, trying, and certainly disagreeing along the way.

His need for me is changing too.
He can find his own way quite well now. He doesn't need Mom so much to help him.
My days are punctuated by "I can do it!" Or "I want to do it!"

Then there are the tantrums;
So much more intense. The yelling is so wordy now.
He wails his wants and stomps his foot.
He thumps through the house, huffy and annoyed.

My hugs and kisses have lessened. Sometimes I have to ask for them, whereas previously they were more spontaneous and certainly more frequent. Often several times an hour.
I miss that little boy-ness.
The neediness.
The fussing over him.

He is my youngest son and definitely my last little boy.
His growing stings more than the brothers before him.
When he starts school next year, he cannot be 'replaced.'
There will be no more little boys to play with at home while he is gone, as there have been in the past.
When I imagine his first day of school next year, I also imagine returning home to a house without a little boy in it, for the very first time in 12 years.
The thought greatly saddens me.

No more wooden train sets winding around the sofas.
No more tiny metal cars underfoot.
No more quiet spells that require investigating by myself, worried by my little man's dangerous and mischievous curiosity.
No more messy boy faces and hands that require Mom's assistance.
No more little boy bouncing on the sofa, laughing at me while I growl yet again for it to stop.

These things will become more scarce when he goes to school - only after 3.30pm on weekdays.
Some of his precious toys will be abandoned as new interests form.
His tantrums will change again too, heightened and intensified by complex school days and fatigue.

I will have to stand back and let the little life unfold before me.
'Baby Taite,' I will always be there for you, loving you and waiting, in case you should need me for anything no matter how big or small.

As I say constantly to all of my children:

"You will always be my babies, forever."

Do you have a child starting school next year?
How did you feel when your baby began their school life?
Please leave a comment below.
Linking up today for IBOT with Essentially Jess.
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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Healthy Oat and Fruit Slice

Here's a sensational slice which is a great healthy treat for lunchboxes.
It contains loads of fibre and enough sweetness to keep the kids happy.
A perfect alternative to manufactured kids snacks.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and line a slice pan or square cake pan with baking paper and dust with flour.
In a large bowl mix:
125gm Meadow Lea Margarine
Half a cup of brown sugar
1/4 of a cup of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 eggs
Half a cup of self-raising flour
Half a cup of plain flour
1 cup of rolled oats (you can use instant too)
Half a cup of desiccated coconut
Quarter of a cup of sultanas
Half a cup of milk or white chocolate chips
Scrape into your prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes until it reaches a nice golden brown colour.
Cool in the pan and when cold, turn out and slice into your desired slice size.

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Friday, 19 July 2013

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Begin NOW!

I love Christmas.
I adore displaying my vintage Christmas decorations I have lovingly collected.
I adore seeing my kids grow ever-more excited as the days approach the 'big day.'
I love the songs, food and cheer. I even enjoy the shopping aspect. As long as I have carefully planned for it that is.
With six kids, gearing up to December 25th is a huge event. I start saving and preparing for each year from Boxing Day onwards. Yes, Boxing Day!

Here are some of my tips for preparing for the most expensive day of the year. The earlier you start, the better and in so many ways!

Shop from Boxing Day onwards for bon-bons, cards, paper plates, serviettes, wrapping paper, decorations, candles and other bits that are reduced by as much as 80% immediately post-Christmas. So many head to the stores on this big shopping day. It doesn't hurt to pick up next year's Christmas items at bargain prices while you are out looking for the big-ticket scores. You don't have to head to a major mall and battle the crowds to do this. Even your local supermarket or newsagent will have bargain bins containing these items.

Buy items at EOFY (End of Financial Year) sales. Many of these sales are still on so get shopping!
Start a Christmas box where gifts can be placed with recipients in mind: Teachers, kindergarten helpers, gardeners, family members etc. Basically you are shopping for whoever deserves a thank you and season's greetings gift at the year's end. Small incidentals and extras such as these gifts add up to many dollars when they all come at once in December.

Start a Christmas Club account:

If you haven't got the Christmas savings account set up, it is never too late to start one. Many banks offer these accounts and they can be opened year round. Usually your savings cannot be withdrawn until October's end, protecting your cash from other intrigues. If you begin in January, set a fortnightly amount to be deducted from your salary and automatically deposited into your Xmas account. No need to think about it further and you won't notice its absence from your day to day living. If you start later in the year, add a bit extra to make up for the months lost and watch your savings grow.

Buy throughout the year as you find things:

Feeling crafty at Christmas? Start early and buy your supplies as you see them on sale. Check out the sale bins at craft stores. Craft stores always have sale bins year round and there are many good bits to be snapped up for either making gifts or gift giving.
Sign up for emails from online stores and pick up goods as they advertise with or without recipients in mind. You are guaranteed by the year's end to have someone to gift your superfluous finds to.
Not sure about online shopping? Read my tips here for the ultimate guide to shopping online.
Be sure if you shop online closer to December 25th, that you allow time for your parcels to reach you.
Get the kids to write their Santa lists early:

Help yourself as soon as you can. Know what spend you are up for.
Set a budget per head and try to stick with it. No doubt it will blow out but at least you will feel a little more organised!

Make your Christmas laybys.

Despite the commonly advertised big toy sales mid year, don't buy all your gifts for your kids too early ie. June. Experience has taught me kids change preferences quickly when it comes to toy choices and what's hot now won't be the hottest thing by December. If you do layby, do the big stuff like trampolines - standard equipment which will always be popular, unlike the latest fad toy, interest in which will fade away with time.
Believe me, their lists will change many times over in 6 months!
Buy Christmas food over a number of weeks:

Pick up a new table treat each week from September when Christmas foods begin to appear in stores. Grab your puddings, European cookies - whatever you love. Many stores stock early and then don't get the really special imported things again. Make the most of its availability while it's there. This often saves money and helps budget the cost over a period of time rather than all at once when everyone panics.
Do check expiry dates too. Most things like plum puddings have use by dates extending a year or two beyond December so there is no problem poking it in the back of the pantry for later consumption. Last year we kept one unused pudding and ate it the following Christmas as the use by date was still around 12 months away!
Scour your recipe books and plan buying early for the big day's foods and baking. Everyone hits the shops in the lead up to Christmas like it's the end of the world! Get in before Armageddon!

Follow these steps to have a relaxing Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Importantly, the lead up to these dates will be stress free months.
No last minute shopping, no last minute worries!

Anything to add or have I missed something?
What tips do you have for the approaching silly season?

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding

Here is an old family favourite that has been around forever.
The original self-saucing chocolate pudding.
Restaurants may package this up nicely on a plate with a lofty price tag but here is the real thing.
Simple to make and costs virtually nothing too.
The results never fail to impress.
I like to make this on freezing winter nights or lazy weekend days when a hot chocolate alone is not enough to satisfy my chocolate yearnings.
It is quite a low fat pudding too.
In a large mixing bowl add:
4 tablespoons of margarine
Half a cup of caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup of self-raising flour
2 dessertspoons of cocoa
Half a cup of milk
A teaspoon of vanilla essence
Mix all ingredients with a mixer until well whipped.
Spread the mixture into a medium sized baking dish like the one pictured.
Don't bother greasing the dish as the topping will ensure the pudding doesn't stick to the dish.

Baking dish pictured is by Le Creuset in Lime Green lustre.
Sprinkle this mix of sugar and cocoa over the top of the pudding mix:
Make the sauce by gently pouring one and a half cups of boiling water over the top of the pudding.
Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.
Your pudding should have a baked cake-like appearance. The sauce will sink to the bottom and ooze out when you divide it up.
Mmmmmmmmmm! You could be enjoying this at your house in only 45 minutes time!
Serve with your choice of cream, ice-cream or custard. Not necessary to serve with anything really as the taste stands alone.
I am just in love with this lovely red heart baking dish by Le Creuset. Big enough to house double or triple batches of this pudding for when the kids are bigger!
What's for dessert at your house tonight?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT for the very first time!

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Friday, 12 July 2013

A Journey of a Single Step Begins With a Thousand Miles

Think you read that incorrectly? Before you bombard the comments section below with well-meaning corrections, let me just state this was re-worded intentionally! You see, the wise philosopher who came up with this most famous of quotes (Lao-Tzu), most surely did not have 6 children!

Dad had taken a week off for the school holidays. Unfortunately we were unwell! Horrible colds. The really bad kind. But we were determined to make the most of it and achieve those things which we had planned regardless of our ill health. A trip to the zoo was on the long-overdue list.
The day was chosen due to the weather which was perfect. It would have been great to wait a day or two and let the ailments ease a little but in the end it just had to be done and do it we would!
The first bump in the journey was getting 5 little decision makers to unanimously agree on the day's outing. Believe it or not, apparently not all children are happy about visiting the zoo:
Some would rather go to the museum.
Some would rather go to the aquarium.
Some would rather go to the opposite of wherever the others want just to be annoying.
Some would rather not go at all!
So, in our sorry state of health we must coax the kids into accepting our decision. Absurd I know!
Now there were tears and tantrums from here on.
Parenting tip number 1: Conduct a secret ballot in future so kids have no opportunity whatsoever to find a way to make the choice an unpleasant one!
Geez, we're talking the zoo here not tooth extraction!
Anyway, moving forward. Decision is made. Tears are falling everywhere we look and bad moods are brewing all-round. Mum and Dad remain focussed - they will love it when we get there...repeated under our breath in mantra and in glances just to reassure ourselves we are good parents for making this tumultuous decision to visit the zoo. 
Now teary, moaning kids begin to whine about missing clothing: Socks cannot be found, underwear is wet on the clothesline, breakfasts have not been eaten, toilets have not been flushed. Five year old Taite gets too excited about the day which awaits and bounces all over the sofas, unable to hear me growling over the cacophony of sorrows playing out around him.
In the meantime, I pack the baby's bag, clear the dishes, washing, find socks, prepare food and drinks, instruct my son on how to blow dry his underpants and bellow at Taite for being silly. He is still unreachable in his excitement however.
At this point I want to yell "Okay! The day's off!" Perhaps I should have. Reverse psychology is a powerful thing. It would result in a new set of tears. Taite and Ruben would bawl because they actually want to go. The older ones would then weep tears of remorse and decide going is actually a good thing.
Parenting tip number 2: Try this idea next time!
Finally we wearied but excited parents and several sullen-faced children get into the car after an exhausting morning rush and psychological beating. Feeling somewhat hollow but wearing our determination we are ready to leave a whole two hours after the decision was first made. BUT...
Joaquin is missing!
After a quick search it turns out he has been locked inside the house by Dad accidentally!
Joaquin is unimpressed by this and so am I!

What kind of parents are we?
With a large family there is always this driveway 'fluffing.' Someone always needs to have a drink, go to the toilet or realises they have forgotten something or in this case, someone! It adds a good 20 minutes to our departure time and is one of the most trying times of the day for me! Frazzled by now I just want to leave or scream or both!
After a relatively uneventful drive (thank god), we arrive at Melbourne Zoo. Most of the parking spots are already taken. We are lucky and find one in a secluded corner. I must breastfeed my little bubba in the car before the big zoo day begins.
All the males of the family suddenly need to pee!
The two youngest males are very insistent.
The others are prepared to hold.
Imagine my horror, when I glance up from feeding Celeste to spot my two little boys peeing under a tree next to the light rail as a tram flies by!
In full view, together and giggling visibly!
Their dad, lurking nearby, pretends he doesn't know them.

I slump in my seat and snicker.
Again I ask myself What kind of parents are we?

In the queue.

The four boys. Taite is licking a rock. I don't know why.

Taite and Ruben fight over who will sit next to Dad while he reads the map. For the record, Taite won.

At the butterfly enclosure. Absolute highlight of the day. Calming, relaxing, quiet.
The kids were just the best they had been all day in here.
Celeste and I. Here she's spotted one of those beautiful creatures! I just love that little face!


Meerkats. Even they were in a squabbling mood and couldn't get their act together.
What is a day trip like with your family? Does it come close to the chaos of my own?
Please make me feel like a better parent by TELLING me about it!
Leave a comment below!

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Cookies! Home baked cookies! Who doesn't love them? Especially if they contain chocolate!
If you've been following my blog for some time now, it will be no news to you that I simply love the stuff!
I am not normally a fan of cookie baking. Mainly due to the fact that I find them somewhat finicky. They require some heavy handed mixing and all that spooning of dough onto trays can be bothersome. Not to mention the hovering around the oven while they bake in case of the sudden cookie burn which is so easy to achieve! Geez, hope I haven't put you off just there!
Choc chunk cookies are different however!
Simple ingredients and some quaint, imperfect measuring of dough makes these rustic beauties a favourite. Excellent treats for school holiday hungry children who are peckish from all that additional physical activity:
...OK so they are not moving at present and I am sad to say I have seen far too much of this sofa behaviour this holidays - but it is winter right? On the plus side, this is exactly the kind of behaviour I require for cookie baking. (Shortly after this picture was taken all hell broke loose)!
Here's a more inspiring picture to get the motivation together for you. Inviting isn't it!
The recipe:
125 grams of Meadow Lea margarine
3/4 of a cup of brown sugar
I large egg
1 and 3/4 of a cup of self-raising flour
1 packet of Nestle chocolate chips in your choice of dark, milk or white or a combination of all! (Total 250 grams).
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.
In a mixing bowl, blend the softened margarine with the sugar and the egg. Great to use a mixer here but not necessary at all as it blends just as well by hand.
Add your flour and mix by hand. I don't bother sifting - too stressful!
Line cookie trays with a sheet of baking paper. Loosely roll spoonfuls of the dough by hand and plop onto the trays leaving a good gap between each for spreading.
Bake for 15 minutes. (I don't recommend fan-forced as it can have a very drying effect on the cookies).
This is the point where you need to hover in the kitchen. Cookies can burn quickly and can go from golden to ruined in under a minute. You want the cookies to be slightly golden. They will continue to bake on the tray in the 5 minutes after they are removed from your oven. This is an important step for the hardening of the cookies and achieves sensational results if you get it right.
Remember too, shorten the baking time for each tray of cookies as the oven will continue to get hotter making each batch quicker to produce.
Soft, golden and delicious is your goal, not hard, brown, teeth-shattering cookies!
Bake a batch today. Yields as many as you wish! This batch made 24 but this is dependant on how big you make each dough ball. Ready in 25 minutes!
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Ultimate Mom's Guide to Shopping Online

I love shopping. What woman doesn't?
One thing I really don't like doing is shopping with my six kids. Apart from the fact that I cannot concentrate when they are with me, there are the other obvious reasons: They all want to go in different directions, they all want me to buy them something and inevitably, my budget will blow out when they are with me. The solution? Shop from home. This keeps them entertained with their usual routine and can save me at least $100 on average. Factor in all those little incidentals when we all hit the mall like food, drinks, things we see that we like but don't need (and the list goes on). It's easy to see how out of pocket the whole exercise can leave me.
Shopping at home is not only immensely convenient, it can save you footwork, petrol and dollars on the things you love. I am quite happy to shop 24 hours a day at my convenience, wearing pyjamas and with a hot chocolate! I buy everything online, from major household appliances to dull essentials such as socks. I even found my house online!

Some recent internet purchases:

 Miss Celeste's lovely little Mary Jane socks - love these!
These gorgeous, giant porcelain breakfast cup and saucers. These are from the new Kimono range released under Maxwell & Williams Designer Homewares. Pictured here in the teal colour with matching pink 2-tier cake plate behind. Parisian Eiffel Tower cushion also an internet find.

My new Hunter gumboots in Candy pink! Loving these winter brights and they are certainly getting a lot of attention!
My top tips:

 Have an item in mind? Search for it using 'buy online AU' tags along with the product desired to find the shopping sites and price ranges available to you within Australia. You can tidy up your finds with provided features such as least expensive to most expensive options when your search yields results.
There are many shopping websites that will do this for you such as A search here will provide you with an itemised result including postage options and links to stores.
Alternatively, visit the company website if the product you desire has one. Manufacturers' websites usually have a list of retailers and store locations which can set you in the right direction.
Utilise chat site options many websites have displayed. These are instant ways to communicate with the retailers behind the websites. Don't be afraid to ask if they will price match, provide discount coupons or product bonuses you can apply on their website for a cheaper or more attractive purchase. I do this often and usually with good results.
Try auction websites also. Often you can find your purchase easily on these popular sites. If you do intend to purchase here, check the seller's ratings before purchasing to ensure you will receive items in good order, as described and with some kind of buyer protection to insure your purchase. Check the feedback provided by previous customers as a good indicator of quality and honesty.
Fill your virtual shopping cart, and ignore it!:

Another trick I have discovered which can save you money. Like what you have found? Create an account on that website (or log in) and load your purchase into your online cart. Now leave it there, forget about it and wait. I have done so with countless retailers and guaranteed, within an hour and up to 24 hours later, I have received an email from the retailer offering me a coupon for free shipping, 10% off and the like, if I simply finalise my purchase in the cart! Brilliant! Take your time here! (Unless it is an extremely popular item and there is only 1 or 2 left - better to check out promptly)!

Refer a friend:

Many online stores offer a discount for you and a friend if you 'refer a friend' to their store. Share these links on social media. You never know who might be interested in purchasing similar items and it can come back to you in future purchase reductions and bonuses.
Search for coupon codes:
All websites have a box to enter a 'coupon code' which retailers might release from time to time. Don't have one? Search the web for one, again using the tags 'online AU' in your search. There are websites which are specifically designed to provide coupon codes. They ask the public to upload them for sharing. I have had much success using these websites for saving dollars on my purchases. Consider this quick search essential before buying anything online. Don't forget to try several different coupon websites for a selection of potential deals.

Sign up to newsletters from favourite retailers:

Always use this facility! Many offer an immediate coupon or discount off your first or subsequent orders just for signing up. They can save you loads. You will also be contacted directly when a sale is coming up. Many have pre-sales for 'friends' and subscribers where you can bag your desire before it sells out at a drastically reduced price. You can often set the frequency of these mailouts to suit you and you can certainly unsubscribe at any time.

Open a folder in your email account specifically for shopping discount and coupon emails:

Received a coupon code in an email but not ready to use it yet? Don't lose it in your inbox. I store mine immediately in my 'online discounts' folder in my Hotmail account. Here, coupons sit until I am ready to shop with them. Quick, convenient and organised.

Look for highly rated websites:

Trust people power. Websites which have won awards are secure places to shop. Look for badges and award icons for safe and comfortable shopping. I prefer websites which offer free return shipping for items such as clothing and footwear. The best offer free postage with no catches. This means if you receive an item you do not like you can return it for a refund or exchange it with no strings attached. Finally and importantly, refer to each merchant's conditions before you buy and get familiar with Australian consumer laws for more information.
Happy shopping!

Have I left something out? Something to add? Please comment below.
What do you like to buy online? Time to confess shopaholics!


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