Friday, March 30, 2012

What a week! - Kitchen Garden Update

Well its been one of those weeks, both kids were sick which meant neither went to day care (on their two registered days) which therefore resulted in me feeling like I achieved nothing. I have actually achieved heaps in relation to looking after the girls but with regards to getting the house cleaned and working on my business - no nothing was achieved really. Instead I tried my best to keep happy and entertained my two little grizzly bears who were out of sorts. I should be glad its Friday but now I'm flying solo with the girls for the next 3 days but at least the girls are on the mend and not so grizzly anymore.

We finally finished preparing and planting all our herbs and veges for our Kitchen garden last weekend, the girls and I have spent much of the week outside tending to it and have been so excited to already see sprouts appearing through the soil. I cant believe how much I have enjoyed the whole process of researching, preparing and planting our Kitchen Garden and then how even more excited I have been to see it growing already. It has also been really lovely to finally spend some nice time outside with the girls since all the rain has passed. Have a look at our progress.

Soil all prepared and ready for planting

Pearl and I starting to plant the seeds

Planting the seeds

All mulched and finished


We were super excited to see sprouts of broccoli, corn and zuccini plants after only 4 days!!



Brenda :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jam Drops - Baking Post

With all the rain that we have had over the last few weeks, I have spent many days inside with my girls trying my best to keep sane and them occupied :) Baking is one of the best ways to keep my 2 1/2yr old Pearl entertained/happy and busy. This is a great, simple, quick and easy recipe that tastes great!

Jam Drops





Ingredients
125g of soft margarine
1/2 cup of caster sugar
1 3/4 cups of self raising flour
1 egg
Vanilla
Your favorite jam - I highly recommend Bonne Maman's Raspberry Jam, so yummy :)


Method
Pre-heat your oven to moderate temp.
1. Beat sugar and butter to a cream
2. Add the egg and beat well then add cap top of vanilla
3. Gradually add sifted flour and mix into a stiff dough
4. Take small pieces of mixture and roll into balls
5. Place on greased baking trays and make a hold with your finger in the centre of each (to prevent sticking dust your finger in flour)
6. Fill the holes with a drop of your favourite flavored jam
7. Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown then cool on a cooling rack.




Yum!
Brenda :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Great looks right now at Forever New - Style Post

We are finally enjoying some cooler days after a very hot and muggy summer in Central Queensland, I for one am very happy that Autumn seems to be finally showing its lovely face. I love Autumn and Spring, cooler days and nights, the sun is usually out but not so intense, I just wish these seasons would last longer.

Now onto more important things - Fashion..I haven't done a style post in a while (sorry) so thought I better get cracking. Forever New used to be one of my favorite retailers (pre-babies) but since having my girls I found that every time I ventured into one of their stores, the hemlines seemed to get shorter and shorter.

It is well known to mums that short hemlines and small children just don't work. Even if you have great legs post baby/babies you would be kidding yourself to you think that you could get away with wearing anything too short (much above the knee) as you will be guaranteed to spend your entire day bending over picking up whatever your babies/kids have thrown on the floor, you need to clean up or constantly pick them up and put them down.....Its just not worth the risk of flashing innocent bystanders for the sake of feeling like you can still pull off a mini skirt.

As much as you may have hated to admit it, once you become a mum practicality has to come first when making fashion/style decisions. Once you come to terms with this, you can then move on and work out how to adapt your individual style to your new practical needs....I should talk about this more in another post.

Anyway back to Forever New, I was looking over their new collection and was pleasantly surprised to find many stylish and practical fashion options for mums this season. I do have a couple of dresses in the mix which I'm sure may be too short but the great thing with Autumn is that we can now wear stockings!! So grab yourself a few pairs of opaque stockings and you will be much safer wearing the shorter hemlines.

Forever New have a great colour pallet this season with navy/turquoise/tomato/cream/watermelon/cobalt/grey along with great pant styles, stylish loose jumper knits and tank tops, giving you great options for different combinations. These are all well priced too so you don't have to feel guilty about grabbing an new look for the season and spoiling yourself a little :)


















Happy Shopping!

Brenda :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This rain is driving me crazy!

If you are in Queensland like us than chances are you are totally over the non-stop rain, I feel like we are going to wake up one morning and find our little house washed away to a new location as the down pour just continues and continues.





It's also becoming more and more difficult to find entertaining things to do with the kids inside during the day as it's just way to wet to venture out.

We have been baking, doing craft, reading lots of books, watching movies, playing fish, colouring in and watching the rain... We are all dying to get out in the garden and work on our kitchen garden but its just way too messy for that so we have to wait and hope that the rain will ease off soon so we can venture outside again.

What do you do to keep sane with all this rain?

Brenda :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Just a thought about judgements we make

I had a great morning with my girls today, like most Friday's I try to take them to a Mainly Music session, which if you haven't heard about it you must check it out as there are groups all over the country that organise them for a very small fee each week. My girls just love singing and dancing around silly with me and watching the other kids do the same.

After the session all the kids get a great little morning tea and then play time with heaps of toys while all the mums and carers try to take five with a cuppa. It was while I was enjoying my cuppa this morning that I was listening to another mum talk about how she had never eaten McDonald's and was glad of this as she had no intentions of ever trying it, 'I'd rather eat rat poison than that stuff, you might as well be eating posion' is what she said. Wow a bit harsh I thought...I'm not really a fan of McDonald's either but I've made that choice after eating it and I think I just prefer KFC really (even though I regret it later haha).

So then I immediately thought ohhhh ok this woman must be one of those mum's who is a vegetarian or something and only eats organic everything blah blah blah (nothing against vegetarians) and that's why she is rattling on about all the poisons in our food etc. But you know maybe I was too quick to judge her? It seems that she was quick to judge those at the table who had already eaten MacDonald's before and then alienate them with her comments. I don't know? but after hearing what she said I don't think she would really be the type of person I could sit and have a yarn with during our next music session.

This did make me think after though, how often do we make immediate judgements on people we meet through statements they make or something they do? Just because you disagreed with their opinion or action on one thing doesn't necessarily mean that you will have also have such different opinions on other things? or is it a good indication that you will? Should we be more open to seeing what else is going on in their mind before we shut the door on them? I'm not sure? What do you think?

I'd probably like to think that I could be patient enough with every new person I meet to give them the time to see what is really going on and makes them tick but in reality I just don't have the time and quick judgements seem to filter out those that I think are just not my cup of tea. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you handle this sort of thing.

Brenda :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Garlic Prawns in Coconut Cream - Meal of the Week

I only started making dish this late last year and its been such a hit that we have it all the time now. I really love garlic prawns but wanted it to stretch it further as a family meal so I've added a coconut cream sauce to it now which is really yummy served with steamed rice.


Garlic Prawns in Coconut Cream with Lemon Grass

Ingredients
700g to 1kg of green prawns - both Coles and Woolworths are selling these for only $13/kg as an on going thing and they are Australian prawns too which is great if your on a budget as I only like buying Australian seafood.
4/5 Garlic cloves - Crushed
About 150g of softened butter
Fresh parsley or if you dont have then basil instead
1 to 1/ 1/2 cans of coconut cream
about 1/2cup of water - rinsed out in the coconut cream can to get any extra cream.
1 Lemon - juiced
Lemongrass - cut the very end off, give it a good smash to make it soft and tie in a knot if possible
Either 2 Carrots - pealed and cut into lovely thin sticks about 5cm long - or 1 Red Capsican sliced thinly into lovely thin sticks.
1/3 cup of dry white wine - if you have any
2 tsps Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp of Brown Vinegar strained from pickled chilli's (if you don't have this don't worry, I always have a jar of chilli's pickling in brown vinegar in the fridge and I love adding a bit of the vinegar to a lot of my meals for awesome flavour boot)
Diced chilli - to suit your heat preference
1 tbsp of soft brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to season
1 1/2 to 2 cups of rice

Method

Peel and de-vein (get rid of the poo track in center back of prawn) all your green prawns leaving the tail on. Mix your soft butter and crushed garlic with finely chopped parsley and rub all over the prawns, add a little lemon juice (1 tbsp) cover and set aside in fridge for at least an hour so the garlic can do its flavoring.

Prep your rice for absorption cooking method - wash the rice well so that all the starch is washed off then start cooking your steamed rice either in a rice cooker or in a saucepan on stove top (absorption method not boiled).

Once the rice is looking like its nearly ready take your prawns out and heat your wok or deep fry pan up. Add a quarter of the prawns at a time to cook in batches so that you can brown and cook each side of the prawns. You will only need a few minutes for each batch - make sure that you get a good amount of butter in the pan with each batch to cook the prawns in.

Once all the prawns are lovely and browned them add them all back into the pan along with the thinly sliced carrots or capsican and give a toss. Next add your lemongrass, lemon juice, wine and seasoning. Cook off the wine and then quickly add the coconut cream, brown vinegar, fish sauce and brown sugar. Add some chili to suit your heat preference. Give a good stir and as soon as the sauce comes to the boil then turn it down to a low simmer for another 3-5mins. Taste to check the seasoning and add any more salt or pepper as needed then serve hot with your steamed rice. (Take out the lemongrass before serving).

Enjoy!

Brenda :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

David Lawrence Fall Looks - Style Post

I'm really quite loving these looks from the David Lawrence Fall look book. There are some great bold colours with the cobalt blue, orange and burgundy which is great to see as I love colour.









Looking forward to some more great looks this Autumn

Brenda :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Kitchen Garden - My New Sanity Project

We moved house a few weeks ago, into a tiny little 3bd cottage, (rental) it is a hot box (fibro, no insulation, fans or aircon) but we are thankful we have our own place to call home and have been busy making it more comfortable. The first essential job was putting in portable air cons into the bedrooms as its soooo hot along with changing the curtains to block out ones or blinds to try and keep the rooms cooler and block out a lot of the heat. Feeling comfortable in our home is really important to me, so I really want to make the most of what we can so that its more enjoyable for us over the next year.

I feel living in such a small house with two small kids will be my biggest challenge, as they just dont have the space to play and move around like they used to. So my idea is to get outside more (when its cool enough that is) early in the morning and later in the afternoon. We have a large empty lawn area at the moment but are working on finding an area to set up the sandpit and a little shaded play area for the girls.

The one good thing we have in the back yard is an area for a vege garden, I think it must have been one a long time ago as it's a long raised garden bed about 2m x 8m. As soon as I saw it I thought YES that will be the perfect spot to start my next sanity project with the kids - a Kitchen Garden. I've always dreamed of having a kitchen garden as they are just so practical and convenient when cooking but it will also be a great challenge for me.

Our Kitchen Garden Plot - lots of work to do



Now this spot may not be the absolutely perfect but its a hell of a lot better than any other options I've had anywhere else I've lived as it will get full sun all afternoon. The plot was in quite a state and will need a lot of work to be done before I even think about planting but its all good fun and it will keep my 2 1/2 year old out of the house for a couple of hours in the morning every few days.

We have started cleaning it up and have cleared away rubbish, leaves, weeds, grass etc and have prepared about 2m so far (so only another 6 to go). My daughter Pearl had an absolute ball helping and loved keeping busy pulling out weeds and picking up leaves. Anyway you can see from our progress that we still have a lot of work to do but I welcome the fun times ahead and hope that it will help keep my sanity in check by getting out of the tiny house with the kids on mornings we are home.

Great reading and watching material to educate me


I also want to try and do this properly as I have not got the best gardening track record. So I have loaned from the library a vege garden book and DVD to help educate me well (along with watching Martha Stewart) to prevent me from doing anything ridiculous....well I hope so anyway. I will keep you posted on our progress.


Brenda :)