Monday, 31 October 2011

The winners are ~ grinners !

Sorry for the delay but here they are

Lego hero competition winners


Christmas Planner 

Hallmark recordable storybook

Never miss a post

Win ~ Playstation 3 Console + Ratchet and Clank Prize Pack

Today, we start the long trek East, across three states and over 4000kms, to head home.We have a busy month ahead.

Now that it is less than 8 weeks to Christmas the countdown is on. Though Christmas is so far off my radar it isn't funny. Actually I did start my Christmas shopping (online) the other day and I have my awesome Christmas planning guide to follow .

I have the perfect giveaway to announce today ; the chance to make 4 lucky readers' families very happy.

The Ratchet and Clank prize bundle is sure to herald excitement Christmas morning ...if you can wait that long to the impending delight this game will bring.

Thanks to Hausmann Communications, especially to celebrate the release of Ratchet & Clank® - All 4 one - I have FOUR Playstation console and Ratchet &  Clank prize packs to giveaway.

Ratchet Clank®: All 4 One sees the team at Insomniac Games reunite fans with the wonder and adventure of  Ratchet & Clank® universe in PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system exclusive. Each pack contains

  • Sony PlayStation 3 (160GB space) console valued at $349.95
  • Ratchet & Clank All 4 One game valued at $99.95
  •  Ratchet & Clank All 4 One T-shirt
  • Ratchet & Clank All 4 One Keyring
    The return of this best-selling series brings an all-new twist to action-adventure gaming while setting the stage for a new story, brought to life with vibrant cinematic visuals .

    For the first time Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One introduces up to four player cooperative
    game play, allowing players to team up as Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Dr. Nefarious.

    I can't wait to play and review the game with my boys. It is a great way to bond sharing family adventures. Three months ago my babies turned 5 and they love electronic games after they were introduced at the Winter with Sony experience. They haven't stopped asking for us to get a video game system.

    Giveaway details ~
    I try my best not to make giveaway entries complicated , however due to the difficulty of counting through a high number of entries (to get the correct winning number) and because I'd like to allow you a few extra ways to enter I am using rafflecopter.
    Follow the instructions using rafflecopter entry form. Good luck to everyone !

    Competition is closed
    Entries close midnight November 30th 2011 (11.59pm AEST Sydney) 
    Winners will be chosen
    Australian residents only.

    Never miss a post

    Friday, 28 October 2011

    Entertaining ideas, Good tastes and a Giveaway

    I love picking up my copy of Australian Good Taste each month. It has so many features and with over 95 recipes [this month] there is always plenty of fabulous recipes to tempt me and even my fussy eaters. I get inspired to try new dishes all the time.

    This month has summer platters & share plates ~ perfect  - I am ready to get set for Christmas and end of year entertaining. 

    Plus ...

    wait for it - Whoopie Cakes - are you curious ??? and a guide to Christmas puddings.

    Though I enjoy cooking I doubt I have what it takes to enter a cooking competition after interviewing  Kirrily Cornwell - the Australian Good Taste's Home Cook of the Year 2011- the cook off wrap up and story features in the November issue. 

    Her winning recipe was Pan-seared Salmon accompanied by Parsley White Wine Risoni and Fennel Orange Salad.

    It was my privilege to interview Kirrily who is a working mum of two girls aged 11 and 3.She was 1of of 6 finalists [from 5000 entries] selected for a cook off !

    Kirsty  : I currently work in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing in Suicide Prevention, which is an interesting and rewarding job but sometimes challenging particularly trying to fit everything into the four days at work.  I have one day home a week with my little one.  Singing was my first love (my husband and I are both musicians), and I have done a lot of performing over the years both in musical theatre and in the band my husband and I were in together.  I have been having a brief hiatus from singing, I haven't really had the time I've been cooking so much!

    1. How did you first get into cooking?

    I learnt basic things at home from my mum like how to make real gravy, a perfect roast, the best apple crumble etc.  The love of cooking has grown over the years through travel and watching one of my sisters cook. 

    I buy Australian Good Taste on a regular basis and saw the competition as a personal challenge to see how many dishes I could cook and make the family meal planning a bit of fun.  Plus the issue had so many great recipes.  There was never any thought that I'd make it as far as the semi-finals let alone the finals!

    2. What was the highlight of the competition for you

    There were a few, I gained a bit more faith in my ability to put to put flavours together and make something people really want to eat.  Eating at Etch, Justin North's restaurant was an awesome experience, the food was amazing (as was the wine!)... not the kind of food you eat everyday, fine dining at it's best! 
    I met some really nice people and we were looked after really well by the AGT team.  Meeting Tobie Puttock and Justin North would have to be up there as the highlight... a bit scary but amazing!  When they read out Tobie's comments on my dish I could have just walked away from the comp right then and there and been happy, what a bonus to win as well

    3. How many photos did you enter ?
    I think in the end I submitted 63 photos - and then the final photo and recipe submitted as part of the semi-finals process.

    It was an interesting learning process taking photos of food and working out ways to make it look good (I have a new appreciation for what food stylists do!).  My husband often ate cold food as his was invariably the 'display' plate and would be cold by the time I'd photographed it and brought it to the table

    4. How would you describe your cooking style ?
    It's definitely home cooking, rustic and a little bit thrown together.  I spend a lot of time with my head in recipe books but usually just end up making things up (except when I'm baking that is a new challenge I'm trying to master).  I'm inspired by people like Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander - real salt of the earth cooks.  I also love Donna Hay because her dishes are so simple and I love her styling as well. 

    I love the Italian approach to cooking, it's all seasonal and not wasteful, food of the people, and a way of life.
       I am trying to teach my girls about where their food comes from and part of this is learning how to grow things in our garden.  I can't get my 3 year old to eat vegies on her plate but she will open a pea pod straight from the garden and eat every pea inside!

    5.Are you planning to take your cooking career further?

    To me there is a fundamental difference between being someone who wants a career in the food industry and someone who just loves cooking.  The food I cook is made to be shared with family and friends, prepared and shared around a big table of food and drink and laughter and fun.  I am also determined that my kids have an appreciation for different types of food and where their food comes from so that is one of my main motivations behind cooking.I can't really see myself as someone working in a professional kitchen, working under pressure and doing it for a living.

    So I guess the answer to that is no.  Unless later on in life we end up retiring to the French countryside and decide to run our own bed and breakfast! :-) 

    I can't wait to try this recipe Kirrily has shared with us.

    Smoked Tuna & Risoni Croquettes with Baby Rocket & Cherry Tomato Salad and a Garlic Aioli

    (makes around 12-14)

    Punnet Cherry tomatoes 
    4 garlic cloves - unpeeled Balsamic vinegar 
    1 cup San remo risoni 
    4 eggs 
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan 
    1 tbsp lemon zest 
    1/4 cup chopped fresh dill 
    2 tins smoked tuna slices - flaked 
    1 cup plain flour 
    2 cups breadcrumbs 
    Canola oil for deep frying 
    3/4 cup whole-egg mayonnaise 
    Olive oil to serve 

    1. Pre-heat oven to 140deg. Line oven tray with baking paper, place cherry tomatoes & garlic on tray, spray with olive oil & season with salt. Drizzle balsamic over tomatoes & bake for 40mins or until garlic is tender, ensuring tomatoes stay intact. 
    2. Meanwhile, cook risoni in salted boiling water until al dente, transfer to a large bowl, add Parmesan & set aside to cool slightly. 
    3. Add 2 eggs, lightly beaten, tuna, dill & lemon zest to risoni mixture & stir to combine. Season to taste & refrigerate until cooled completely. (at this stage if mixture is too moist add some plain flour) 
    4. Line tray with baking paper. Place flour, eggs (lightly beaten) & breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Roll 2-3 tablespoons of risoni mixture into a croquette shape, dust lightly with flour shaking off excess, dip into egg then roll in breadcrumbs until coated. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
    5. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat (to a depth of around 10cms). Heat to around 180 degrees. Cook croquettes in batches until golden, turning if necessary. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and keep warm. 
    6. To make aioli, peel slightly cooled garlic & blend in a food processor with mayonnaise until smooth. Season to taste. 
    7. Place baby rocket & tomatoes on a serving plate & drizzle with a little olive oil. Place 3-4 croquettes on plate & serve with aioli.

    The November issue is on sale now.

    I have 2 x three month subscriptions to Australian Good taste to giveaway - leave a comment and tell me your signature dish.

    Entries close November 7th.

    Australian Good Taste is on Facebook too

    Disclaimer - I received November issue to review and the giveaway only , opinions are my own and no payment was received.
    Never miss a post

    Thursday, 27 October 2011

    Happiness and remembering to laugh

    This week, I am thankful for campfires for the joy it brings to my little Drummer Boys and for the kindness of fellow campers who gifted us some of their wood last weekend.

    We are thankful and loving free camps in beautiful locations like Herron Point, a little lake with the whitest of sand, native birds and bandicoots. 

    It really helps the budget to use free camps outside of when we decide to stay at resort style caravan parks. In some locations there might be 5 parks but they all know how to capture the tourist dollar (even ones with no kids facilities)
    credit because people don't like you taking photos around pools

    So we paid a few extra $ for the works at this park - heated pool, super fun playgrounds and a jumping pillow.

    I am thankful because it makes me happy it is heated so I can swim my cherubs so happy. I love to see them developing more confidence in the water and getting closer to swimming. We are having a lot of laughs.

    I am thankful for Facebook and inspiring little messages that people share - we had bad news the last week on a few fronts, and it got me down. A few clicks later ...

    We are having a lovely time here in Bussleton , it's been relaxing with a lot of eating ...

    (Note to self book swimming lessons asap)

    PS I am thankful for 101 more things today  but you get the picture ...

    Never miss a post

    Wednesday, 26 October 2011

    Wordless Wednesday ~ A long way from Gnome

    We told the Drummer Boys to go find Gnomeo and they DID ! No Juliet :(

    There is no place like ~Gnomesville~


    Never miss a post

    Tuesday, 25 October 2011

    Walk for Prems ~ Close to my heart

    I've told you before about the day our family grew by 4ft; just two little treasures among 59 babies born prematurely across Australia each day. Little miracles happen though families need a lot of support.

    My twins Sam and Joel were born strong and perfect @ 2.8kg & 2.1kg . Fortunately apart from needing oxygen & suctioning at birth, and nasogastric tubes for feeding they were well premmies.

    They spent 4 days in NICU. Not really long as far as some premmies go. Then almost another 2 weeks in the Special Care Nursery before coming home.

    I have many friends with even tinier premmies than mine (read their story)

    On Sunday 6th November at Bicentennial Park, Sydney - Siders  being encouraged to come together for the inaugural

    Register to take part at

    What:   Life’s Little Treasures Foundation “Walk for Prems” charity walk / fun-run
    When:  Sunday 6th November 2011, 10am meet for a 10.30am start
    Where:  Twin Sails Shade Area, Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay, Sydney
    Registration fee:  Adult $25 and Children $10 (all proceeds and donations go towards Hospital Survival Packs)

    Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLTF) President, Parool Shah, says "More than 45,000 Australian babies are born premature or sick each year, with some weighing less than a bag of sugar" ...

    Shah comments:   “Having a baby born premature or ill affects the whole family.  Our aim is to raise awareness of the issue, support families by providing information and practical assistance and promote medical research in the area.

    “The walk and fun run not only helps raise national awareness of the issue but brings families together for a day of celebrations.  It’s comforting for families to talk to others, share experiences and know that they’re not alone.”

    About Life’s Little Treasures foundation: 
    Life’s Little Treasures Foundation (LLTF) was established in 2005 by a group of mothers
    of premature babies. Its focus is on improving the lives of premature and sick babies, by providing information and support to their families.  Last year LLTF helped more than 1000 families with premature or sick babies though services in hospitals and in the community. 

    For more information, visit

    I won't be home in time to take part but I hope to do my bit by sharing this on blog. 
    Never miss a post

    Sunday, 23 October 2011

    Spin cycles , tariffs and things that blow.

    I wasn't going to post today because to be honest I couldn't get it together or wrap my head around all I need to do this week.

    We are now on the sixth week into our caravan road trip and heading south (west) so technically home. Home is not a bad place necessarily but when we get home it will be to pack. The packing grate loads of clutter move ; I am not looking forward to it.
    ? Name of this bird

    Yesterday, I was stuck in our caravan for most of the day due to pissy spitty rain and inclement weather.While my husband laid in bed unwell with some tummy bug I had to entertain the children. I did manage a walk in a dry spell , but due the stench of something, possibly small dead fish on the shoreline at Herron Point, the boys whinged. Then whinged some more or fought. It was a beautiful free camp location with an abundance of birds, especially Pelicans. The lake was a sight to behold as the sun was setting, alas I was inside last night so no pics.
    sorry it is fuzzy as they were too far away.

    Today, we moved on to Australind , a lovely location near an inlet, unfortunately our site in right next to the road, can't grumble too much @ $26 night.

    I needed to wash the endless piles of dirty clothes. Someone left their clothes in the machine, a 25min cycle, for a few hours. Ok, I still one machine was available but the 'sign' people said to remove them at end of load - consider others ... moving on.

    Other people had staked claims on the sloping rotary clotheslines - by using all the outside lines , with wide open spaces in between and leaving the inner lines free . I wasn't about to duck beneath their granny undies, y fronts and work clothes, and have them in my hair.*insert whatever word you like*. I made do with a small space. However, as the dark clouds hovered people magically appeared to remove them . Mine are now blowing in the breeze.

    Tomorrow, a grassy caravan park site tariff will rise to $66 a night (less 10% caravan park member discount) ...$42 a night, $12 per extra child (or adult). I hope it is worth it.

    To date the most expensive park we will have had to pleasure to camp at. The pool better be as good as this one.

    Want more grumble posts be sure to drop in on Madam Bipolar’s Grumble Sunday

    Sunday Grumble at Madam Bipolar

    What have you got to grumble about today ?

    Never miss a post

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    Things I know - I' m getting off the naughty list & a Christmas giveaway

    I am a terrible Christmas planner. I know I leave everything to the last week and then stress about it. I even go shopping for things I have forgotten last minute specials on Christmas Eve.

    I know, I am still up at midnight wrapping presents I’ve had for ages- *slap me* as my husband desperate for a few hrs sleep , is forced to hold this bit or that as I tape , add ribbon, or search for a Christmas bag to fit.

    Christmas morning, I know I am usually rushing to gather together my Christmas dinner contribution or if we are the host – it’s chaos. I know it drives my husband nuts.

    ╔═════════ ೋღ❤ღೋ ═════════╗
    ೋ❤❤❤~MERRY CHRISTMAS~❤❤❤ೋ
    ╚═════════ ೋღ❤ღೋ ═════════╝

    This year I am now the proud recipient of Katrina - The Organised Housewife’s Christmas Planner –a lovely E-book chock full of ideas and lists that I know would make Mrs Claus jealous and will certainly get me off the naughty list.

    Imagine 45 pages full of  incredible Christmas planning  starting with calendars, checklists and a weekly planner.

    I know the Santa Letter, Gift Lists, including a daily advent list, stocking suffers and shopping list is going to save me time and stress. This year I will seriously be behind in my planning since we won’t get home till late November. I'll need all the help I can get.

    Katrina has even thought of the hidden gift list ...I have a terrible memory and forget where I have stashed gifts for the kids. I find stuff months later.

    I know my DH will not  ...

    The Organised housewife has covered  just about everything , guest list, card list, budget , recipe list , meal and baking plans, traditions and holiday packing list and an itinerary.

    I know I'll have more time to eat ...
    More time to eat Fruit Mince Tarts
    (credit :Baker's Delight)

    I plan to put it all in a nice Christmas folder so I can check it off as I go, along with my pin interest printouts . I will be sleeping peacefully now I have this Christmas Planner.

    I was sent a copy to review - you can get your Christmas Planner here for $9.95 !
    Though from October 31, the price will be $14.95.

    The Organised Housewife

    To win a copy leave a comment telling me your favourite Christmas tip.

    If you purchase a copy now and are my winner – Katrina will refund your money.

    Ps - I haven't forgotten last year all our credit cards were cancelled on 23rd December due to over $10,000 in Overseas Fraud !

    No rules for this giveaway anyone can enter !
    Closes Oct 29th  2011.
    For more Daily tips, ideas and motivation to help you and your household become organised to live more comfortably and relaxed at home - check out Katrina's blog.
    Disclaimer - the Christmas planner is an affiliate link so I receive a small commission if you use the above link.

    Never miss a post

    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    Wordless Wednesday ~ Nature ! Takes My Breath Away

    Aussie Wordless Wednesday

    The Pinnacles

    At sunset Nature is painting for us... day after day... pictures of infinite beauty. John Ruskiin
    (Am I the only one who can't get the horizon straight ? :)

    "May I never miss a sunset or rainbow because I am looking down." Sara June Parker

    Never miss a post