Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 Goals and January

As we approach a new yaer I am thinking that it is time to think about new starts.

2014 has been a year that has been filled with love and trucks, wheels, mess, some sadness, changes and hopes. 

In 2015, I will no longer be working for anyone else.  I will be returning to some music tutoring and will be focusing on being a full-time mum. I don't think that it has really hit me yet.  In Australia, school breaks from mid December through to the end of January so it feels like I'm just on holidays.  However I have been feeling like it is time to start bringing a bit of structure back after Christmas and all the catch-ups we have been having with everyone.  When I have a plan I feel like I can fit more in, and accompllish more with less hassle so...

here are some goals for January in no particular order:

  • Have a proper stretch/yoga session every couple of days (toting around 14 kilos has not been kind to my back)
  • Take my boy outside everyday and do something physical (sandcastles/park/swimming/walking) to tire us both out.
  • Begin blogging again (check!)
  • Read a chapter of the Bible every day (I began this last year and I am following the suggested plan at Women Living Well - I also am part of an email accountability group for this)
  • Have more of a schedule for everyday as well as a weekly plan (e.g - Monday's we visit Mor Mor) so Jack feels more comfortable with the world in general (he is a little shy of everyone and worries about me going out).
  • Only have one alcoholic drink a night - and enjoy it sitting outside - not watching the television!
  • Read with my boy every day - not just at bed time.
  • Continue to declutter everything!
  • SMS three friends every week to organise some kind of catch-up or ask how they are.
  • Attempt for one week to get up earlier than the boy (which will be about 5.15am) and be showered and dressed before he is up and see how this impacts our schedule etc.
Hope you had a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September Challange - No Take Away

I know that it is almost the end of September but I wanted to write about the fact that for 25  we have not bought take away for dinner!  I really didn't think that we would do so well, but there you go.

We (well I) decided that we would not buy take-away for the month of September for a few reasons. 

Firstly, was the budgeting.  I try to stick to a grocery budget which is not huge but workable and then I realised - why am I putting all this effort into this when some days we would spend a third (!) of our grocery budget on ONE meal! ? I know that you can get cheap dinner at the fancy Scottish restaurant but when you are trying to be healthy and get something that you want to eat - in Sydney you are looking at $50 minimum for two and a half people (remembering that because I'm pescetarian that we have to order different dishes - and we live next to a Thai take-away and can smell dinner).

Secondly - with the purchase of the Thermomix I have become more aware of all the preservatives and additives in food that are not necessary when you make things yourself.  So why undo all the good work that I have been doing by stuffing ourselves full of unknowns every time I cannot be  bothered to make anything?

Thirdly - you do remember my pantry don't you?  And that awhile back I was too ashamed to post a picture of the inside of my fridge?  Well - they are both bursting with jars of this, weird noodles and 12 types of flour and dried beans etc.  So it makes sense to try and eat our way through it.

Fourthly - I hate wasting food and I ended up throwing away food because I didn't use it in the recipe I intended because we got take away. 

To help with this whole process I have been building in some safeguards for those night when I just cannot cook. 

I have been making my meal planning a little more gourmet.  
I have been spending a little more money on ingredients to do this but nowhere near the $50 I would have spent on one meal.  For example, I find hot-smoked salmon to be a really great stand-by for dinner.  Put it on some crusty bread with Lesure butter and have a green salad alongside and I (and my husband) are happy.  I have also been buying things like feta and ricotta by the kilo when they are on sale.

Making Double
I make double of some meals and freezing half for another night.  Anything with mince works well, as do vegetarian burger patties, "croissants" (really just rolled up puff around some cheese or something).  Sometimes it also pays to have some "bits" ready in the fridge - whenever I roast veggies I always do double so I have some spare for soup, salads, fritatta's, toddler meals, pasta sauce or

There are also some great resources that I watch/read to inspire me.  The best ones in my opinion are: MamaBake (though I have not subscribed) and Save with Jamie (though he does seem to use every pan in the kitchen for one meal) on TV. 

Back up Dinner
I try to have something that I (or my husband) can make when the evening is going downhill because I was working late, the boy is sick, there is a mountain of housework to do still, it's later than usual, the intended dinner is disgusting or still uncooked (this happens more than I care to admit) etc.  My options for back up dinner are:
  • Basic Quesadillas (burrito bread, grated cheese, onion)
  • Scrambled Egg
  • Something from the freezer
  • Cheese on toast
  • Cream of tomato soup (passata and milk and seasoning) with toast soldiers.
  • Cheese plate (cheese, pickles, dried fruit, apple, pear, biscuits/bread etc)
  • Kippers on toast 
  • Anything on toast
  • Peanut butter sandwich and a banana (when there's only me to "cook" for)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Menu Plan

Week 1
Monday: Nachos (beef/bean)
Tuesday: Teriakyi Salmon, sushi rice and green beans
Wednesday: Grandmas' for dinner
Thursday: Vegetable Soup
Friday: Lamb Chops and Roast Vegetables and feta
Saturday: Quiche
Sunday: Meat/Nut loaf

Week 2
Monday: Laksa
Tuesday: Enchiladas
Wednesday: Grandmas for dinner
Thursday: Pumpkin Risotto
Friday: Baked Potatoes with fridge fixings
Saturdy: Leftover
Sunday: Pad Siew takeaway

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Chinese Chicken Wings/Tofu and Fried Rice

I feel that this heading may be completely fraudulent as I'm not sure if the wings are Chinese and the rice isn't fried but that's what my Mum called these when I was little and the name has stuck.

My family has been eating chicken wings as long as I can remember - whenever there is a family thing on or someone needs to bring a plate to something these chicken wings get brought out.  I haven't ever seen a recipe for them either - I'm not sure if Mum made them up or they are from somewhere - maybe a luridly coloured 80's cookbook that my Mum still has somewhere (where all the food was harisprayed to make it shiny - yuck).

I make these chicken wings when people come over and I am unsure what they will like -everyone likes these (or the vegetarian version I have invented) and several poeple have asked for the recipe.  This meal is also pretty economical even for a crowd - I bought a kilo of chicken wings for $3 on special last week - and apart from the chicken I always have everything needed for them on hand.  I have given approximate weightings below but it is a bit about taste - some might not like the amount of sugar I used or would prefer to use all honey - so trust you eye and your taste.

The rice is my Mum's version of "fried" rice - basically steamed rice, seasoned with mixed veggies and omelette.  Again I haven't ever seen a recipe written down so I have kind of used the EDC method for cooking the rice and the veg and Quirky Cooking's method for the omlette all in the Thermomix - but it's easy to do without - just with a saucepan on the stove top with a steamer and a fry pan (for the omelette).

i make this meal also for my husband (carnivore), myself (pescetarian) and my todeleer.  I have included pictures dwn the bottom about how I served it out.

Chinese Chicken Wings

  • I kilo of chicken wings - jointed into 3 (freeze tips for stock or give them to your cat - you don't them for this recipe)
  • Soy Sauce - 2 tablespoons
  • Chinese 5 Spice Powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Honey - 2 tablespoons
  • Raw Sugar - 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame Seeds - 2 teaspoons

  • Place chicken wings in a roasting tray
  • Sprinkle over all the other ingredients
  • Use your hands to turn the chiken wings in the seasonings
  • Bake in a 180 degress oven for about 30 mins - turning them over half way
  • The sauce should be sticky and making the wings all glossy.


















Chinese Tofu

  • I packet of firm tofu
  • 1 tin of water chestnts
  • Soy Sauce - 2 tablespoons
  • Chinese 5 Spice Powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Honey - 2 tablespoons
  • Raw Sugar - 2 tablespoons
  • Sesame Seeds - 2 teaspoons

  • Place tofu and water chestnuts wings in a roasting tray
  • Sprinkle over all the other ingredients
  • Use your hands to turn the tofu in the seasonings
  • Bake in a 180 degress oven for about 20 mins - turning over half way
  • The sauce should be sticky and making the tofu all glossy.








  Fried Rice

  • Jasmine Rice - 400 g
  • I carrot - sliced finely into coins
  • Red Cabbage - shredded - 1/2 cup
  • I zucchini sliced into coins
  • 1 ear of corn - cut into 3.
  • Soy Sauce - 2 teaspoons
  • Sesame Oil - 1 - 2 teaspoons
  • 2 eggs
  • Soy Sauce - 1 teaspoon
  • White Pepper - to taste
  • Mirin - 1 teaspoon
  • Water - 1 teaspoon


  • Cook rice according to the method you would like to use.  For the Thermomix - it's rinse the rice in the basket, measure in 900g water and place the basket inside the bowl.  Cook on Varoma/16 minutes/Speed 2.
  • Place veggies in a steamer/Varoma basket and cook on top of the rice (I put them on at the same time as I wanted them quite soft for the toddler).
  • When rice has about 7 minutes to go, make the omelette (mix eggs, mirin, black pepper and water - line the Varoma tray with wet, crumpled baking paper and let the omelette steam).  When cooked slice into strips
  • When the rice is cooked turn into a dish Thermoserver and season with the sesame oil and soy sauce, then add the veggies and the omelette - or arrange all the elements separately for new eaters.









Serving Suggestions


The Meat Eater


The Vegetarian


The Toddler


The Toddler - the reality

He saw the bread rolls on the kitchen bench and was so not interested in what we had made (in his meal above I also offered a zucchini and cheese puff)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Menu Plan

Back from a swim
I have been menu planning all year long - I just forget to type them up - so here is lasdt weeks and this week's:

Monday: Involtini (based on Nigella Lawson's from Feast) and Salad
Tuesday: Chicken/Tempeh enchilada's
Wednesday: Grandmas for dinner
Thursday: Spiced Moroccan Lentil Soup (from the Thermomix EDC)
Friday: Chinese Chicken Wings/Tofu and "fried rice" (My Mum's recipe - will share soon)
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Pizza

Un-baked Pasta Bake

Monday: Meatloaf/Nutloaf - I have to remember to soak the nuts this time!

Carrot and Almond soup

Tuesday: Pasta Bake
Wednesday: Grandmas
Thursday: Carrot and Almond Soup - based on a Dr Gillian recipe
Friday: Burritos (meat and bean)
Saturday: Risotto (using the leftover soup as the stock - an idea I am stealing fro Nigel Slater)
Sunday: leftovers.

The first haircut

The extras I will make this week are:
  • homemade yoghurt (the first time I will try it without the sachet but still in the easy-yo)
  • Cream cheese - from the yoghurt
  • Tomato sauce - again from the EDC with tweaks
  • Cheese Puffs
  • Apricot biscuits
  • Sun dried tomato dip from the EDC (using the cream cheese I will have made)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Other Peoples Fridges

I know that this is a weird heading but don't you just love seeing how other people keep their fridge (or not).  I think it's very personal and telling about how someone lives.  I thought I would gather up some pictures of fridges that I find interesting or from people I admire.  Hope fully it will inspire me to clean and tidy my own - and finish replacing all the old number-filled products with home made ones (any good jam recipes without the sugar?)

The Glamorous Housewife

Yes, we all know I love her - the front of her fridge is almost as good as how it looks inside - click on here to visit her post.  My favourite part is the flowers in her fridge!  I managed to find similar baskets to hers but not in lovely colours - mine are maroon.

The Daily Connoisseur

Surely if there is someone with a grown up, perfect fridge it's Jennifer.  As the oracle on all things Frenchy-chic here is hers (its a video).

 A Bowl Full of Lemons
Have you seen how organised this lady is - OMG.  She has fridge coasters - I hadn't even heard of them before but they do certainly encourage you to keep your fridge clean.  You can find the post here.

The Pioneer Woman
Recently the Food channel has been playing episodes of the Pioneer Woman and she has two kitchens - one in her house and one in the lodge (where guests stay) - so that means two spaces to put food!  I would be in heaven.  Here is a post about how she stocks her fridge.

Here are some vintage fridges (all from here) that just look amazing and almost as full as mine.  I have been trying to clear out my top shelf of condiments (all those Asian jars you buy because they look good and then use once because you don;t know what else to make with it).  I am also trying to use my Thermomix to make everything that I might buy from scratch (which is pretty easy) but I cannot bring myself to trow anything away so it's taking awhile!

And finally the fridge that looks like it belongs on a ship.  One side is a fridge and the other is a temperature controlled pantry - apparently Nigella like them.  From here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nigella Lawson - Inspiration on a Monday

From here

As the weather begins to get cooler in Australia I start to look to Europeans for ideas on how to stay warm and comfortable but still look stylish.
From here

One of my favourite dressers is Nigella Lawson.  I love her pared back yet-still-interesting style.  Nigella clearly knows what she likes and isn't interested in changing to fit in with fashion.

From here
I was first introduced to Nigella when I was about 12 and my Mum bought her first cooking video.  It wasn't even on TV yet and it was just as the term celebrity chef was being bandied about - yet Nigella has always stated that she is a cook - not a chef.
From here

It was the images of her in her home, with a young family, living out everyday life that intrigued me.  The way the show was edited showed that Nigella was a working Mum, to two happy and energetic children, who was also doing her best to support her husband through a very difficult time.  I know a lot has already been written about that time, especially lately as she was in court.  I am not concerned really with the reality - as in everything my perception of her then is my reality and it is going to take a lot more to change my admiration for her.
From here
From here

Nigella's style has morphed over time to become more and more set.  In the first few episode Nigella wore more relaxed clothing but eventually settled on the combination of a long skirt (dark), fitted scoop-neck top and cardigan that was somehow held in place (sewn on?) in a variety of colours.

From here
Off- camera Nigella is still very classical in her dressing.  At red-carpet events Nigella sticks to scuplted pieces - often by Vivenee Westwood - that support and show off her figure.  Latley, Nigella has been wearing pants and blazers with cute printed tops underneath but still sticking to mainly dark colours.  Lately (and I have tried to show it in some of these photographs) Nigella has an element of vintage in her clothes too.  Cat's eye glasses, winged eyeliner, beautiful cascading hair. 

From here

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hello there

Well hasn't it been a long time?

I cannot even remember the last time that I posted.  I feel like a bit of an imposter just waltzing in and trying to pick up where I left off  without apoligizing for my lack of posts (even if only to myself).  But there we go, acknowledged and moved on.

I do have a few posts in the making - I have been noting down some ideas and at the start of the year I even put together a blogging schedule which is what all the pro's seem to do.  So I will try to stick to it and at least out something up once a week.

Here it has been slowly but surely turning into Autumn, with a nip in the morning air and all the girls wearing scarves all of a sudden.  I doesn't get super cold here in Sydney so I think at the first sign of a chill everyone is excited to get out their clothes for the next season.

Hope you are all well and happy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bible Verse

I haven't really spoken about my faith on this blog but I am a Christian and more specifically, I attend a Lutheran Church.

I am currently reading a book by Courtney Joseph called "Women Living Well" - and I am finding it very insightful and helpful to me in my struggle to find time in my day for spiritual study.

Early on in the book, Courtney suggests writing down a bible verse on a card and carrying it in your wallet or putting it somewhere you will see often to help you memorsie that verse.  Well, the first verse I chose was about contentment and having it in my wallet - everytime I went to buy something I would think - "do I really need this?" and so not only have I now memorised the verse but it stopped me spending money!

So I thought that I would share my verse this week as well for those of you who might be looking for a similar thing.  One of my New Years Resolutions was to learn more patience with my Husband and my Mum - both of whom are close to me and often get my annoyed comment or nasty comment about someone else.

So the verse for this week is:

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." - Proverbs 10:19

I would love to hear how other people handle their not-so-nice thoughts.

PS - If you are looking for any kind of encouragement Courtney's has a wonderful website with links to similarly minded women at

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Menu Plan

I think the last menu plan I posted was one of ones that I have actually almost followed perfectly.  I am trying to cut down on the amount of rushing in the afternoon and evening here (which is causing me to feel anxious) by sticking to the menu plan - even if I don't feel like cooking I am going to suck it up and just do it.  It has worked so far - we have eaten better, not wasted so much food and I am making inroads into my pantry!!!

Here is the menu for the next two weeks:

Saturday - at a Wedding!!!
Sunday - Nachos
Monday - Poached Eggs on Garlic Sourdough with spinach
Tuesday - Beetroot Risotto and chops
Wednesday - Grandmas
Thursday - Potato Torte (a favourite recipe from Laura Calder)
Friday - Soup or Leftovers with Salad

Saturday - Beef/Mushroom Pies
Sunday - Buckwheat Noodle bowl with Pickles
Monday - Cauliflower Cheese and Steak
Tuesday - Vegetable Lasange
Wednesday - Grandma's
Thursday - Leftovers/Freezer Meral
Friday - Roast Vegetables with Cheese and Sausages.

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