Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Apple Fun Park Donnybrook

Largest free entry playground in Australia.

Donnybrook WA



Best Playground in Australia




My apologies for not getting to visit all of you last week. I had a 773km roadtrip to Sydney and Home again to attend an event  , plus personal issues to tend to on the weekend, then solo parenting while my husband traveled to Sydney for work and appointments.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Junk Food TV

A few weeks ago I was invited to an information session with Cancer Council NSW - for the launch of Fat Free TV Guide


This new website helps you discover the number of junk food ads your kids see when watching their favourite show tracks, rates shows by level of junk-food advertising.

My children have hardly watched TV the last 6 months , and when they do I love that ABC2/4 has a zero junk food rating. Yet ...

Did you know that a child who watches 2 hours of television a day will see about 2200 junk food advertisements in a year ~ Junk Busters



The food industry spends millions of dollars to blitz children with junk food advertising during prime time TV viewing for a good reason ...it translates to pester power in the shopping aisles !


The statistics estimate one in four Australian children are considered overweight, and research indicate a high proportion of these kids will become overweight adults. Obesity is a risk factor for many preventable diseases especially some cancers.

I know it is up to us as parents to take some responsibility for what we allow children to both eat and watch on TV - I do let my children eat some junk food , I am not a perfect parent by any means with a totally junk free diet.

When did you last see an ad for celery ? Carrots ? even Fruit ads are rare ! (I now have that Banana ad running through my head...make those bodies sing)

In my opinion this campaign is a great initiative to guide parents and assist them in making good choices and better informing them - save for us watching every single show with them .

What else can you do - go the website and find the links to demand Fat, free TV.

Monday, 27 February 2012

WIN 1 OF 3 DOUBLE PASSES TO A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN ~

Time for some happy !


I have a quick giveaway today for a film starring Kate Hudson called A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN set for release 1 March 2012 .

Thanks to Hoyts Distribution I have 3 double passes to giveaway to see the romantic drama starring Kate Hudson, Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kathy Bates and Whoopi Goldberg.


A Little Bit of Heaven is a love story set in New Orleans about an irreverent young woman who unexpectedly falls in love with her doctor...( I have had many a DR crush before -  have you )

Marley Corbett (Kate Hudson) is young, beautiful, and wildly funny, but she’s afraid of opening herself up to true love and commitment. Though she uses her humour to prevent matters from getting serious, a life-changing visit to her doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal) sends both of them on an eye-opening adventure of mutual discovery, leading to revelations neither thought possible.
A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN in cinemas March 1. Check out the film trailer http://www.hoytsdistribution.com.au/alittlebitofheaven/

Australia residents Only
Closes 4pm 28th February 2012
Each double pass is valued at $36.00 each - So three winners.
Leave me a comment and tell me anything about  love !

Saturday, 25 February 2012

You have to start somewhere ~ Finding Gratefuls in grief

This wasn't the Grateful post I wanted to write today.

I arrived home at 10.45pm from the Sydney Kids Business Bloggers Brunch. A round trip of 773kms or so, not including the trip into the city with the gorgeous Sara & Em.

I am very grateful for safe travels and Sara's offer to drive into Sydney.
Though she now lives interstate - she was a rally champion. I hate city drivers driving.

After the Bloggers brunch I had to return my friend's cat carrier . She is moving this weekend too .
She was working at her new property . I used my Mum's GPS for directions as I hadn't been there. It lead me down a very badly maintained country road , across a little flowing creek ( 'Roberts Creek' road should have alerted me ).

As I was furiously cursing the potholes, gravel road and hairpin bends ...I am grateful for the little Echidna I saw crossing the road. A car coming the opposite direction flashed me , though I had seen it already. It turned and looked at us both stopped, changed it's mind and ambled back to side of the road. Unaware.


Hours later I was relieved to arrive home, safe.
It still feels strange calling this place home , but it is starting to feel like HOME.


DH said nothing , then... nor the small boys who were fast asleep.
We chatted over a cuppa and went to bed.

First thing this morning I woke to one boy cuddling up to me and both boys telling me Jed, our puppy was dead ...run over by wheels (of the 'Jeep' driven by DH), and buried .
The boys told me all the details , all matter of fact'ly, DH added a few scant details, it only happened at 5.30pm last night. Just after I called him to say I was on my way home.

The boys saw it all , they were in the car , driving on the property.
Daddy drove back to find ... Jed was bleeding, his were legs in the air ? with actions.

No tears were mentioned and I didn't ask if there were, tears.
I can't even ask where they buried Jed. They just told me Daddy buried Jed.

My hub said he didn't want to upset me last night.
I had a little hot, salty spill when he went into town, then again at the clothes line.

I know it will affect him too, he just won't talk about how much. Jed was such a lovely dog. DH has a soft heart and will embrace his own grief and guilt in his own way.

Jed  ... Dashi

I'm grateful, Jed's sister Dashi (after the Octonauts)  is still here to soothe us and we her . She seems to be looking for her best buddy and is very affectionate today. She seems wanting ; to get up close and personal.

Moving on ...Kinder news topic this week is PETS. Talk about bad timing.
Different children have news each day of the week. Joel and Sam's turns are Thursday and Friday respectively. I should be grateful for that.

I will have to write and let the teacher know.
Sure as hell I will choke up and cry if I try to tell her any other way.


 

The boys adored Jed , we had him 6 weeks. Long enough to love him forever. Everyday, teaching him to play fetch, watching him chase cows or race our other puppy through the grass. Teaching him to shake hands, walk on the lead, laughing as he'd lick their faces ...He followed the boys everywhere.


I don't know if they are particularly traumatised (WTH ? is it with spam bots that RT any mention of traumatised) , though they saw it all.

However, they still tell everybody about our 13yr old dog, Patch, dying and being in heaven ... that was 2 yrs ago (He was euthanised ).
Whenever they saw a dog in Western Australia, on our trip, they told the owners about our 'Patchy.' So we would have to explain.

I am grateful the boys have a lovely teacher who will know (I hope) how best to manage news this week.

How did you help your children deal with the loss of a pet ?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Light house fun






Monday, 20 February 2012

Pancake Flippin'

Tomorrow is #Shrove Tuesday also more commonly known as PancakeDay the day before Ash Wednesday!
An old photo twin 1 took of his brother in July !
 If you are in Sydney tomorrow - Tuesday the 21st of February head on down to Martin Place, Sydney between 7 – 11 a.m to see Award-winning chef Brad Jolly from Alchemy Restaurant, and once personal chef to the Queen Mother. The Royals love Pancakes apparently!

Alex be encouraging spectators to join in and make a Pancake or two in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most Pancakes flipped in one minute.#2

I can't make it :( -  but Australian Eggs is trying to get Pancake day on the Map. I bet it will be flippin' fun - I cannot flip them - I use an egg flipper . I have tried much to the amusement of my children. What a mess !!

I have used many pancake recipes always with three key ingredients – eggs, self-raising flour and milk –plus I use melted butter in the mix . I do use a little sugar for sweet pancakes too. Truly my favourite recipe is here - tomorrow I am swapping milk for buttermilk.

Anyone can create delicious homemade pancakes - pfft why should you pay anyone else outrageous prices to make them.

Pancakes are not just a favourite breakfast in my house - we can eat them at any time of the day, sadly not so much now the drummer boys started school ...they still make a delectable dessert ! 

I have tried them savory style once upon a time (20 yrs ago-yes I am that old) with friends when to Pancakes at Parramatta or the Rocks. I do eat them with Bacon sometimes, more often with icecream and strawberries, blueberries and caramelised bananas. Sometimes yoghurt or ricotta !

Brad's top tip -  the key to making the perfect Pancake?
First have a really good non stick pan, than once you pour batter into a very hot pan make sure that you wait until you see air bubbles forming - this tells you it's time to flip it.

#2 The current title currently sits at 117 pancakes flipped, achieved by Aldo Zilli (Italy) on the set of Blue Peter, BBC 1, London, UK, on 24 February 2009.

PS : The happiest day of my Western Australian adventure was the day both my twins decided they wanted to try and EAT eggs - now they want them every day.
The Heart Foundation’s latest review of the evidence showed that all Australians can eat up to 6 eggs per week as a part of a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat. That’s an egg a day for six days or three serves of two in a week.
If you want the best tips on how to boil/poach/scramble eggs? (Or any questions around cooking with eggs)
A huge range of great tips and tricks, as well as recipes, can be found at www.eggs.org.au.

#Tradiitonally - it meant you used up the flour, eggs and dairy products in your kitchen before the start of Lent which is a time of abstinence and reflection in the 40 days before Easter.



Saturday, 18 February 2012

Grateful for Lost & Found and Inside Out innovations.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind so I've been slack with my blog; writing , reading and commenting. Life rolls on ...regardless.

The boys had week 1 of school, then we had a three day trip to Sydney for a 50th birthday and appointments for Sam.

The last 2 weeks I was also worn down by dealings with a telecommunications provider and trying to get our previous email addresses transferred to our new service. It almost broke me , I was so frustrated and couldn't access or send business emails for 8 days.

Our new phone and Internet service had admin issues in the system,  they were actually working. Except for a few occasions, including yesterday, when it was offline for over 2 hrs because a tech support guy overseas had done something . Finally after over 4hrs , three-four phone conversations {including on hold time } , with an interval in between to pick up my boys, I think most issues were sorted.

Thursday, morning, our 3 month old puppies went walkabout - It happened while I took boys to school and errands. They were down the front of property with DH who was working on the driveway with the tractor, the gates were open and the cows were out front too. They ran off , instead of hanging around like they usually do - probably chasing after the cows who strayed across the creek at the front of the property to eat the long grass...the grass was greener.


Dashi & Jed were missing for 24hrs .There is a huge open space for them to roam , 1000 acres on our property alone. The fencing is mostly for cattle only , with 8 neighbours or so in a km radius - plus a forest nearby - we were searching for needles in a haystack. Plus metre high grass everywhere to hide a naughty puppy or two...not to mention dams & a creek with a little water in it, slippery slopes....never mind it was OK in the end.

We spent about 3 hrs looking for them on Thursday. About 6pm I put up missing posters on closest neighbours , about 8, gates. Thankfully , neighbours about 1.5km away though adjoining our front boundary, a WAY  away, over the creek, through trees & scrub, hidden from street view , had found them. They kept them safe overnight and saw our note in the morning while leaving to take their son (8) to school.

They rang and we got to meet neighbours we maybe wouldn't have ; yet. It ended well. Due to ongoing phone number issues I had not put ID tags on them as yet ( Yes, I very slack - I was going too !! and I will Monday)

I digress onto brighter issues -  It is nice to be finally settling in and finding our long forgotten and lost STUFF groove.

On our trip to Sydney I enjoyed a breather from unpacking and playing box tetris to read the newest Inside-Out magazine.


Considered to be one of Australia's best interiors magazine and full of inspiration, I can flick through the pages of Inside - Out for hours. I am still finding new stories or snippets.

Yes, admittedly, some of the latest homeware trends are so far off my decorating radar and way above my budget . I still love to drool dream over what's new for the lounge room, kitchen, bathroom and garden, plus the practical decorating solutions for indoor and outdoor spaces.

I find I get a few ideas to cheat with decorating here and there . This month , I am in awe of the clever design ideas for Kid's playful spaces. By far my favourite feature.

Today , I went to Bunnings to buy chalkboard paint to re- purpose a play table into a chalk table. I will show you once we finish . The other ideas are easy fabulous too, imaginative and very affordable with minimal effort (ticks my first box) and so cute ! Teaming an old ladder and my favourite IKEA 'Ekby' shelves into a pedestal of treasures.

In the , not too distant, future we have plans for outdoor spaces, a little renovation to our cabin and then down the track maybe to build a new home here...one day. I am bookmarking pages for inspiration.

This issue saw craft queen Tamara creating two Why don't you...? projects exclusively for homelife. Re-purposing cracked plates into works of art or updating your wardrobe with a tree branch hanging rail. Just my style now and budget ! The boys will love this idea (we promise to only use fallen branches).

On my baking list is also these Chocolate meringues !

This edition's Inside Out also has a bonus Kitchen & Bathroom book giving a sneak peak into how technology is set to play a significant role in the design and function of tomorrow's kitchens and bathrooms - let your imagination roam into the realm of futuristic kitchens & interactive bathrooms that double as technological hubs with a big focus on innovation.

I can't wait for the self cleaning systems ...but I might give the social networking bathroom scales a miss !!!

So what have you been up to the last 2 weeks ...did I miss much ?

PS ~ I have a few copies to giveaway too.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Bugs Garden

WILD LIFE Sydney’s insect expert, Evan Armstrong Image credit via Wildlife World Bug's Garden

"Boys are meant for kisses and hugs, For watching rainbows and catching bugs"

(Ps my indoor photos were not good due to lighting - these bugs outside were certainly to my liking.)
 
Wildlife Sydney on Facebook




Thursday, 9 February 2012

Become the family bread winner ~ Baker's delight {Giveaway}

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” Robert Browning

I don't need to sell you on Bakers delight bread - it sells itself and our new local store is quite becoming a favourite stop off when I go shopping. My boys love the pink finger buns & cheesy mite scrolls , rolls and I just try to look away from all the deliciousness like Sourdough, Chia bread and oh everything.

Bakers delight have a new Back To School Facebook competition, where you have the chance to a win a year’s worth of bread for your family!

Our first term has well and truly kicked off , we are just finishing up our first week of school.
By now parents, like me, across Australia are scratching their heads to come up with exciting, energy filled lunchbox ideas that get eaten ...and that don’t end up in the bin or bottom of the school bag!

So why not share your brilliant ideas, and gain new ones by entering - Bakers Delight competition.
It's so easy to enter ...

All you have to do is create a lunchbox masterpiece/s, including sandwich or roll suggestion, take a photo and log onto http://www.facebook.com/bakersdelight?sk=app_338104436220104

There you will have the opportunity to upload your “Back To School” creation to the competition tab for people to rate your lunchbox idea. 

The lunchbox with the most ‘likes’ from each state will win a whole year’s worth of bread! 

Competition is open now and ends 27 February 2012. Encourage your friends to vote for your lunchbox. Your creation can gain the title of “Australia’s best school lunch idea”, and keep your family’s tummies full all year!
Here is my entry -
Chicken Schnitzel, avocado, rocket on Chia Bread ...we love it !
To get you started I have 3 x $10 vouchers to giveaway to 3 lucky winners -

Leave a comment and tell me your brilliant idea -
Giveaway closes Sunday 12th 11.59pm !
Australian Residents only.

Ps Click on BD Facebook page voucher tab to print and redeem a free Cheesymite scroll when you buy a loaf and click on my entry in gallery too if you like *sob* I only have 1 vote !

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Hang a gate


No man acquires property without acquiring with it a little arithmetic also.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson



Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.
J. R. R. Tolkien


We did not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else.
Lyndon B. Johnson






Tuesday, 7 February 2012

10 degrees of separation and seeing double.

I still feel a bit overwhelmed about my babies starting school yesterday. I started to write a post, and then I could feel too many emotions bubbling up .

It only seems like yesterday I was peeing on that little white stick after our second IVF cycle (third attempt).

Ten degrees of Separation -


  1. My twins first day at school was fabulous. They posed for photos at home and then at school - a bit subdued –The bell rang and they gave us a wave and a quick hug. In they ran and settled down to play on the mat in the blink of eye. 
  2. We hovered outside watching through the window other parents were still inside. I just had something in my eye as I saw another little boy crying, his mother hovering , looking helplessly about for someone to do something.
  3. As we were leaving the grounds the Principal recognised us and mentioned they had five sets of twins starting that morning . The local paper was coming to take photos ! The rate overall, about 1 in 80 births in Australia is a twin - so they have 5 times this - with 80 kinders.
  4. It was only then a few tears spilled. They made the front page today . They had 3 boy/boy sets, 1 Girl/girl set and 1 Boy/Girl set spread over 4 kinder classes .One set per class with 5th set separated at the parents request. One boy set are identical bare a freckle. 
  5. I noticed after I got the paper –the other fraternal boys I know of already. My boys and I met their mum and her twins in the main street one day last year. I thought she said they were going to school elsewhere. I still had her number in my phone so I sent her a message.
  6. A lady I met in the Blood bank today knew the Girl/Girl set and mentioned one little girl had dwarfism – I haven’t noticed (at school or) from the photo . You can’t tell exactly in the photo. The lady saw me glassy eyed, gazing over the paper - so that is why she mentioned it.
  7. I discovered today two other schools in Sydney also had 5 sets of twins starting school this year – wow !
  8. Sam and Joel had a lovely day and as we left the school by a side gate , they were playfully pushing each other – the Principal was on gate duty –He recognised Dh & I (again) smiled , and said THEY were lively boys. They were apparently the only ones climbing the play equipment , just outside the classrooms, where the group photo of the 5 pairs of twins was taken.
  9. They proceeded to mishandle and pull on his tie OMG  – double trouble the first day ;). I am pleased he is such a lovely friendly Principal and didn't mind. It was a McGrath Foundation tie , I may not have noticed otherwise.
  10. When we asked what they have learned last night – they didn’t say much. Over breakfast something came up about SITTING DOWN ...no ooo they didn’t learn their ABC’s but the 5 L’s.
I was surprised they remembered - I am guessing maybe not 100% in the right order.

L- Legs - cross them and sit on the floor
L-Lap – hands still in your lap
L- Listen
L- L o_O K
L –Lip – zip your lip
They told us in stereo, each, a bit mixed up.!

In other news - I am very relieved I was able to change an appointment at Westmead Children’s Hosp for Sam on Thursday till Monday 13th when he had already another appointment at the Eye Clinic . Saving us over 728km/10 hrs - driving trip. Not to mention 2+ tankfuls of petrol . My husband already has to travel to Sydney to work this week for 2 days.

We will stay overnight with family when we go. Need less to say - I would have taken him to both appointments if I had too. Now- I can attend the Kindergarten information session on Thursday and he doesn’t miss two days of school in his first week.





Saturday, 4 February 2012

Grateful for newborn calves and choc chip banana loaf

Hubby woke up this morning and as he made me a cup of tea - thought he was seeing things through the window ...a tiny calf in the far paddock.

He went to check and so it was - so off we all went to for a closer look !

The umbilicus ? still attached.

Not that it was totally unexpected he did put Grandpa's Angus bull over the cows about 9 months ago. Then we left them to it.

According to the cattle gestation chart in his diary - the first calves weren't expected until February 14th. Though I read younger cows (like ours can calve 10 days earlier) so I am calf watch from now on.


We own 11 cows and we are not totally sure how many are in calf because the Bull preferred the other ladies instead and escaped at first chance a few weeks later into a large heavily tree'd paddock...like he did again today.

Sam & Joel also own a Cow & calf each , a gift from their Grandpa. Their cows & calves escaped too with another one of our 11. The rest of our little herd they got back after a little game of chasey with Hubby and his cousin (K was over Grandpa's working on fences).

Hubby unlocked the padlock on the gate to the lane way to fix it, the chain was across and he came back for lunch. Somehow it came open - we suspect the Bull pushed on it and the chain wasn't latched securely.

Today , I got my apron on and started baking. I wanted to bake some treats for the boys who start school on Monday *sob*. Chocolate coconut slice and Low fat choc-chip banana loaf that I am trying in the bread maker. The oven is small and not too good at getting and staying hot - so I made the slice in it.

Ingredients ~ Low fat choc-chip banana loaf


2 cups S/R flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
2/3 cup caster sugar 
1 cup choc chips ( I used dark)
2 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk ( I substituted 1/4 cup lowfat milk & with 1 teaspoon lemon juice & 3/4 cup natural yoghurt because I had no BM)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mashed bananas

Icing sugar to dust

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 ° (if using loaf pan - grease and line it)
  2. Sift flour , bicarb of soda and cinnamon in a medium bowl, stir in sugar & choc bits (I used dark) and mix in well.
  3. Whisk together in a jug - eggs , buttermilk (or my substitute) , olive oil and bananas until smooth
  4. Stir mixture into flour mix , then spoon into prepared loaf tin - or toss it all in bread-maker like I did.
  5. Bake at 180° for 45- 55 minutes until brown and knife or skewer comes out clean from center of loaf. If using a large or deeper loaf pan, increase time to 50-60 minutes. 
  6. Leave to cool in loaf tin for 10 mins - turn out onto wire rack - Serve and dust with icing sugar if desired - consume responsibly !
{How low fat it is I know not - but it should serve 10 ?} 

The result was a very moist, not too sweet banana bread perfect with a cup of tea.

I noticed this one is a different texture to last time I made it in my previous oven - could it be the buttermilk substitute  or the bread maker and a short, deeper loaf tin ?

The choc coconut slice is overcooked very crunchy - it was too soft so I left it longer and longer ...covered with icing and coconut it is still very edible ! I also reduced the sugar, butter by a 1/4 - 1/5 and added rolled oats - so it makes a difference too maybe. I confess I am not an expert on tweaking recipes.

I 'd be grateful to know how to stop the choc chips from sinking ?