Tuesday, December 20, 2011

{The Final Christmas Touches}

Well, this will be probably be my last post for Christmas and maybe for 2011. It is very busy around here as we prepare the trimmings for a great Christmas. There is a lot of carols playing, gifts being wrapped decorations and crafts being made and recipes being baked. I LOVE Christmas!

Here are a few of the things we have done to help bring the festive season to life in our house.

1. The Advent Calendar:

Ever hear of 'Real Estate Speak'? Terms like renovators delight or fixer-upper??? Well in 'Craft Speak' a labor of love means something that took much more work than I anticipated, was GLAD to finish but happy I did! This advent calendar was one of those type projects. I know I winged it and made it up as I went, but there was something that I had to contemplate or re-do at several stages along the way. I am very happy with how it turned out though.

2. Snow Dough Ornaments I made salt dough using this recipe from taste.com.au and we cut out mini circles using a lid in the kitchen. The boys pressed a thumb print into half of the circles each and then we painted them white and strung them on a ribbon to make a garland for the tree. 3. Gingerbread Houses: With two little boys 2 & 5 years old, making a full blown ginger house mansion complete with kilo's of sugar seemed a feat that would have me cleaning the kitchen for days and adding an extra coffee or 10 to my day. So, because I still wanted to do this activity WITH my boys, I decided to make it a little different and go 2D instead. This was a BIG hit!!!! (gingerbread recipe here) (pattern for house copied from here) (royal icing recipe here) There are a few other crafts like a hand print wreath and some other ornaments along the way.

So, from my house to yours, I wish you a VERY special Christmas and may your 2012 be blessed and fruitful!

Lauren x

Sunday, December 18, 2011

{How foil changed my life}

I know the title for this post sounds dramatic - but foil did change my life.

I thought i would share this post near Christmas time as it is a time of year when people are (typically) thinking most about generosity.

For years now I have always had foil containers with lids of varying sizes in the pantry. I always pick them up in the supermarket for a few dollars.

But how did they change my life you ask?
It has been a practical way that our family has made room for acting out compassion for others. I usually have a meal every so often that I make too much of. Then I label it and freeze it.
Having meals are always handy for yourself.
But having frozen meals ready to go, helps open your eyes to needs in others. As soon as I hear of a friend having a bad week, a baby arriving, someone coming home from an operation, I know I have a meal ready to drop around.
The easy thing is you don't have to worry about getting your dish back.
I have used these to put in such meals as:
- casseroles
- lasagnas
- curries

Not all things need to be frozen and prepared in advance. I have just used them as containers for other easy meal ideas too:
- hamburger kits (patties and salad items separated in zip lock bags)
- fried rice
- mash potato
- salads
- cooked or roasted veggies etc
- brownies and cakes (bake in the foil container)

So, next time you shop, pop a container like this in your trolley and make room in your budget for someone in your world who has a need. I guarantee you I'd you can't think of someone straight away, you will notice a need once your looking!

Lauren x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

{Being Intentional and Fighting 'Distractions' this Christmas}

I was challenged by something our pastor said at church last Sunday (not a rare occurrence) about not just preparing our credit cards but also our hearts this Christmas.
So, today I did something that's been on my list for the last little while.
Whilst at spotlight (I can tell your shocked I was there too lol!) I found a black board for $15. It was light so i knew it would hang on the wall easily with the 3M Velcro tabs I already had.

I have decided to put up a verse for the Christmas month and use it as a reference point with Mr 5 who loves to read and learn.
I also intend to keep it there and write more verses/ sayings all year round.

(p.s. excuse my terrible 'haven't practiced teacher writing since uni' handwriting lol)!

I love Christmas SO much and it's very easy to get carried away with the decorations and festivities.
Due to its location in the house, it's something we will walk past frequently and it is a nice practical way we are trying to put the focus back on the REAL reason for the season!

Lauren x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 11, 2011

{A Vegetarian Christmas: Sweet Potato & Leek Roulade}

We hosted a Christmas Dinner/ Feast for two of our dear friends last Friday night. I had a blast planning the menu and trying to find a yummy main for my beautiful friend who also is a vegetarian. Now I don't have a problem using imagination for meat free meals normally, as we eat that a lot here.
However, when I think Christmas, I think hams and roast lambs, chicken or pork. I wanted something delicious and not an 'after thought'. I would never want anyone coming over for dinner feel like an after thought just because they don't eat meat. Insert Google and here was the menu:
Goats cheese and Cranberry Tartlets

Minted Roast Lamb
Sweet Potato and Leek Roulade


Balsamic Vine Tomatoes

Chili and Almond Asparagus

Honey Carrots

Rosemary and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Chilled Egg Nog
Warm Mulled Wine

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream with Frozen Chocolate Sauce
Tea & Coffee
The mulled wine was a little bitter as I think I let it simmer too long but it was still worth a try.
Here is the recipe for the Roulade...Mine didn't look that pretty, but it held its shape and was DE-LISSSHH!!! Its worth the effort ;)

20ml (1 tbs) olive oil
1 leek, finely chopped
60g butter
1/3 cup plain flour
300ml milk
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan

30g unsalted butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tbs chopped fresh sage
1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley

500g sweet potato, peeled, chopped
15g unsalted butter
100ml thin cream
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 39 x 26cm Swiss roll pan.

  2. To make the roulade, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek and cook gently for five minutes until soft. Remove leek from pan. Wipe pan, then add the butter. When it has melted, add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Start adding the milk, a little at a time, whisking until all the milk is combined and the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat, beat in egg yolks, one at a time and season.

  3. In a separate, clean bowl, beat the eggwhites until stiff. Add a quarter of the eggwhites to the roux, then gently fold in the remaining eggwhites. Fold in leeks and cheddar until just combined, then pour into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and puffed.

  4. Meanwhile, to make stuffing, melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for five minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and breadcrumbs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  5. For the filling, steam or boil the sweet potato until tender. Drain and mash with the butter, cream and nutmeg. Season well and set aside.

  6. When the roulade is cooked, place a clean tea towel on your workbench and sprinkle with the parmesan. Turn the roulade out onto the tea towel and peel off the baking paper. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes, then spread the sweet potato over the roulade.

  7. Sprinkle the stuffing over the sweet potato. Using the edge of the tea towel, carefully roll up the roulade from the longest side finishing with the seam-side down. Slice and serve warm.

I hope you enjoy the idea and even if I wasn't serving for a vegetarian...I would definitely make this again :)

Lauren x

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

{My NEW & Special Creative Space}

We have been moving rooms around lately and this means I have been working on my creative space. It is a very special space for a few reasons. Of course its nice because its my space and I get to craft and spend time here.

To add a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL, I have some memorabilia from both of my Grandmothers and both of my husbands Grandmothers in the room. These are four AMAZING God fearing women who have set up the legacy that Glenn and I walk in today. Two of them (Grandma BB and Oma) are partying in Heaven, and Nan-Nan and Grandma Mt.K are still with us.

I also incorporated the cot and change table that has seen me through the last 6 years with my boys in here too.

There are a few things I would like to add here still. For example, I am working on displaying some photos of my 'babies' and a photo of each grandmother in the room too. This will take a bit more time to finish though.

Here are some of the treasures I have collected so far!

Oma's (father in laws mum) sewing machine which I use a lot for everyday sewing. Most of the cottons to the left are hers also.

I placed Oma's old tape measure, wooden cotton reels and her dainty embroidery scissors in a vase to display.

My Grandmothers (Mum's Mum) vintage Singer machine which is still in working order and came complete with the solid wooden case and lid. Both Grandma and Grandpa sewed on this machine. I have displayed this on my Boori change table in the corner which I have also used to 'stash' my baskets of fabric supplies.

The cot that slept my babies is now turned into a love seat thanks to some beautiful cushions.

This is Nan-Nan's (mother in laws Mum) sewing box. So beautiful!

Here is a look at the room as a whole. Right at the front of the shot, you can see a wooden 'glory box'. This was my grandmothers (Dad's mum) and it is very special also.

So, even though it's not 100% finished, I hope you like the look of this as I truly put my heart and soul in here. I would love to know if anyone else has trinkets or treasures that have been handed down in your families??? Post here or on FB or Twitter.

Lauren x

Sunday, December 4, 2011

{Teacher Appreciation Gifts}

There is not much time left of Joshua's Prep year and before I know it he will be starting Kindy next Feb. He has been blessed with a fantastic teacher on his class and I wanted to find something special to bless her as a thank you. These ideas could easily be adapted for other people in your world too! Here are some ideas I have found.....I had better make up my mind before his last day on Thursday.
Biscuit Tin : Recycle a Pringles can by wiping it out, decorating and filling with homemade biscuits.

'Cowgirl cookies' with pink m&m's. I would change to red and green lollies instead for Christmas.
Initial Art : I have seen these done with crayons too! SO cute

It doesn't matter whether your kids 'teachers' are from school, church, sport or whatever. These people play a special role in your kids development and I believe gratitude is a great key to life. It isn't about being fancy or spending a lot of $$$. Rather showing them that they matter enough to say thanks!
How do you thank these kind of people in your world??
Comment here, on the FB page or twitter and let me know :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

{Photo Wall Tip}

Right at the front of our house next to the front door is a 'niche or alcove'. We have always wanted to put photos in there, but I am only now just getting around to it.

Part of the problem was, I wasn't sure what sizes to order the photos in. Then I had a bright idea (they happen occasionally - haha). Amazing how something SO simple can make a difference!

I taped together some paper, creating different photo sizes varying from a large 10x15 down to the 6x8 and 5x7.

Then I played around with designs. Now I am ready to hop online and order my photos.

Here are a few examples of how I have been playing today during nap time:

I hope that tip helps you like it has me and I will show you a photo when my prints arrive :)

Lauren x

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 28, 2011

{Making BIG Boy Rooms}

There have been some emotional moments in our house this week.

My little brother (who moved in with us earlier in the year) started a working holiday journey in UK (tear tear)!

Since we gave him Joshys room for a few months, him leaving meant I got to re-do the room suitable for a little (ok BIG) boy.
We decided to get bunk beds for him and give his 'car bed' to his 2 year old lil bro (who often snuck into that bed anyway he loved it so much).
So since we were boy-ing up the two rooms....insert sad moment # 2.
Collapsing the cot and moving that and the change table out for good. Wow that was teary....there has been a little body sleeping there for the last almost 6 years! I have found a way to do something special with that, and will show you pics when ready (yay!)

In the mean time here are some little touches we added to the boys rooms to make it more personal and boyish.

Enlisting the help of Joshy to paint the initial letters (spotlight for about $3).

The 'famous' bunk beds that we searched around for - thanks eBay! LOVED the doonas I found at target too.

The finished J with my attempt at doing one of those birth detail art works!

A world and Aussie map with destinations we have been too, where Uncle PJ lives etc.... Lots of flags wanted to be added here too!

No more cot 'little man' - hello big boy car bed (although you really can't see the car here).

And little Daniels initial and birth art too!

I had do much fun shopping around for doonas, maps and creating the art for their room. I'm almost finished....a few more touches and we will be done 100%. I would like to somehow incorporate a photo of them
and the meanings of their names into a frame....working on that one.

I can't wait to show you the other project I'm working on too....all in good time!

Lauren x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 21, 2011

{Family Rules Canvas}

Ages ago I did this up on my computer and I just re-opened it trying to window shop ideas to get it printed. I was thinking a canvas but was not sure where to start. Has anyone had anything large printed recently, or have some advice???

Would love your input or suggestions ;)
Lauren x

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

{Homemade Ice Magic : Take1}

I found the idea - yes on pinterest I know, predictable!


I have a MAAAAJORRR thing for Ice Magic.
It. Is. A. WEAKNESS. So, I never buy it, cause it wouldn't make it out of the bottle ;)

Alas, I just HAD to give it ago to see if it were even similar to the bottled kind.
Milk Chocolate
Coconut Oil / butter (bought this at health food recently when I found out about The Blender Girl)
Pinch of salt


Most recipes state you add 50% to 100% of chocolate qty to the coconut oil qty.
So, I added about 150g of chocolate to a double boiler with 100g of coconut oil (it is solid when chilled and turns to oil when melted).
I decided the mixture was too runny, so I added the rest of the chocolate I had (another 50g - 200g total).

Even adding the extra chocolate, I still didn't think it was thick enough. Considering that, it tasted fine (slightly coco-nutty - but I didn't mind that) and it 'froze' when on the ice cream.
I placed the left overs in fridge (which will probably harden) so next time I use it I will melt in some extra chocolate, may try some dark chocolate to darken the colour and taste slightly. Not bad for attempt number 1!

Lauren x

Thursday, November 10, 2011

{Lavender & Oatmeal Eye Mask}

One of my friends birthdays is tomorrow and I have known what I was going to make her for a while. It is a simple 'nap time' project and I didn't have to buy anything, had it all on hand - winner!!!
She mentioned a while back she loved using the bean bags I had made for my youngest sons birthday gift to his guests (instead of lolly bags) on her eyes.

So I knew I wanted to make her an eye mask that you could heat or cool. Oatmeal and lavender just sounded so relaxing and soothing.

- 2 contrasting fabrics (I could have fit MANY on a fat quarter)
- Template (I just hand drew one to fit my eyes and added a seam allowance)
- Machine
- Thread
- Oats (about 1 cup - didn't really measure)
- 5 stalks of lavender dried (could use essential too)
- Scissors
- Texta or washable marker

1. Cut out a template to fit and add seam allowance.

2. Measure out onto fabric and cut out. Sew wrong sides together Leaving a gap to turn out (back stitch for strength).

3. Cut a few Triangles around edge to make sure material sits nicely and doesn't bunch. I go around and cut one side of each triangle so scissors stay at same angle and then swap (more efficient and less finicky).

4. Turn inside out, I usually use a chopstick or a pen top.

5. Iron flat:

6. Stuff full of your filling in this case the oatmeal and lavender. Make sure you leave a little room for seeing the gap and the filling to sit nicely on the face.

You can use anything for the main filler like rice, barley or cherry pits.
Any scents could include Rose petals, spices, essential oils, cinnamon, rosemary, crushed mint etc....

7. Sew up the gap and voila!

Make sure you include instructions:
To cool - Place in freezer and place on eyes once cool enough for comfort.
To heat - Place in microwave with a glass of water on turntable also, for about 1-3 minutes (depending on microwave power) and don't ever leave unattended.

I hope you enjoy this idea. It was so easy I think I might do one for me now!

Lauren x

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 3, 2011

{Almond, Veggie & Herb Dip}

Since I found
Tess from Healthy Blender Recipes I have been eating very differently. I have had some battles for a lot of my life with digestion issues, and something has clicked in me over the last few years (but more so recently) that isn't craving dairy or meat as much. I still eat it, and am not a hard core vegan/ vegetarian at all. But I am finding myself drawing more to 'plant based' foods.

I just made a dip for lunch and it was SO delicious I just had to share it. The bowl was VERY empty afterwards and I wish I had made more. As per usual when I am cooking, and not baking, I made it up as I went. But, feel free to play around with quantities and ingredients to suit your tastes.


A handful of raw almonds
A few tbls water
1/4 cup semi dried tomatoes
1/4 cup roasted eggplant
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
Fresh parsley, coriander and basil to taste

Small squeeze of fresh lemon

1. Blend almonds and water until it makes a nutty paste and looks 'milky' in a food processor
2. add in all other ingredients and blend until a 'dip' consistency.
3. Taste and make any adjustments needed (I added a bit more lemon and some onion and olives to mine at this point).

Serve on garlic toast, with veggie sticks or on crackers :)

Lauren x

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

{The PMS of Motherhood}

Being a stay at home mum with both my beautiful and active boys home basically all the time (mr 5 is at prep 2 days) is an honour and a joy but an exhausting one!

There are two types of days that commonly cross my path.
The first of which is what my day has been like today. Days like today fall into a Parenting for the Moment Seasons category (or PMS - lol ;)
These days/ seasons are where you are so caught up in the 'nowness' of the moment, and your energies are spent dealing with the immediate issues.
For me this looks like fighting over toys, the battle to eat dinner in less than an hour or put clothes on a child that loves running around nude, the 'joy' of toilet training paired with close to 10 loads of washing a week!

You know you are in this 'PMS' when you find your self counting down to nap time or bed time and usually have a coffee in your hand whilst trying to pass off Vegemite toast or some other breakfast food as dinner!

It's days like this that happen every so often that make it hard to parent for the future and realize that the little body that is testing your will right now, will be someone's wife or husband, father or mother. Taking the time to build value into our kids and teach them lessons that will shape them into their future roles is a privilege. Its something that I try to build into my boys frequently. Much like this picture below states:

When I have days loaded with 'PMS' like today it's when I am especially grateful for my amazing hubby who will send me off for a run, or pour me a bath so I can have some me time, breath and put things into perspective. That and drawing from my prayer and worship life allows me to dig deep and power through.

We are all human and bad days happen, but what I am saying is that we aren't meant to 'camp there'. So know you are not alone, that many mums parent through 'PMS' (of both kinds haha) and so we are all in this together!

Bless you;

Loz x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 24, 2011

{No Bake Healthy Sweet Treats}

I found this website last night and went into my sort of "chefs coma".
What's that you ask?!
It's when you completely zone out and that mostly happens with a good cookbook, a foodie magazine or a blog etc.... These 'episodes' (lol) are characterized by lots of flipping, making mental notes, making bookmarks of recipes to try, gushing over the spectacular photography and planning future events just so you can use that recipe!

This blog is called "The Blender Girl" and you should read her story - it's fascinating.
I love her food philosophy and think society could get a long way by incorporating some of these types of recipes into our diet. No processed foods, no bad fats but lots of good food as nature intended it.

So I just made my first "blender girl" recipe. I started with her 'raw vegan chocolate fruit balls'

I didn't have all the exact ingredients and added some extras - so here is my take on Tess' recipe.

Ingredients (made about 16 balls)
1 cup mixed raw nuts (I used 1cup of cashews)
1/2 cup pitted chopped dates
1/2 cup dried chopped apricots
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice (I only had apple on hand)
a couple of drops – 1/8 tsp of natural almond essence (I used vanilla)
I added 2 tbl LSA and a small squirt of honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Mix the coconut and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside for rolling.
Put all other ingredients in a food processor, and slowly add in the orange juice if it doesn’t bind together completely.
Roll into small balls and coat with the coconut mixture.
Store in a sealed glass container in the fridge.

I have to say these are delicious and I was thrilled with the result. Took a minute to prepare and it's great having them in the fridge to satisfy the sweet tooth.


Lauren X

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{Honey and Macadamia Frozen Cheesecake}

I had some friends over last night and knew I had a busy day beforehand. So, I planned a few things that allowed me to not be in the kitchen all day and still have a dessert 'buffet'.

Sunday evening I made this cheesecake and took it out of the freezer 1/2 hour before serving.

1. Do a normal biscuit base as per regular cheesecake (I use 3/4 packet of digestive biscuits and about 100g of melted butter pressed into a spring form tin).

2. In a food processor add 500g cream cheese, 300ml cream, 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts.

3. Blitz up this mixture, pour onto the biscuit base.
4. Squeeze some extra honey on the top and swirl it in. Freeze overnight.

5. Half an hour before serving take it out and place it on a platter. Top with fresh strawberries and drizzle some honey on top.

This is so easy and tasted delicious! You could easily freeze it and have it on hand over the happy summer season if you, like us, often have spontaneous dinners or BBQ's happen and you don't have to lift a finger!

Lauren x

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

{Menu Chalkboard}

A few months ago
I went to the treasure shop with my boys and I bought a frame that I wanted to re-use. The frame cost me a few dollars.

I saw potential in this discarded old thing.

With a little bit of black board paint left over from another project and some bright red cherry paint on the frame, I made this board to put up the menu for the week.
It sure beats the handwritten paper on the fridge. My family love knowing hats coming up too!


Lauren x

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

{Bib and Nappy Mat/ Storage Wallet}

My beautiful cousin (in-law) is expecting a beautiful baby girl in a few weeks. I am very excited for her and now that I have given the gift to her in person, I can share it on here.

I had some beautiful girls fabric I bought previously and I wanted to use it for this project.

So I made a bib and a nappy change mat with storage compartments for her. Nothing like practical and pretty! I love this idea so much and would make one for me if I wasn't about to head out of nappies (YAY!!!)

The teddy is the closest thing I have to a doll in a boy house to show you how the mat works and how the bib sits.

This 'crinkley' heart is stuffed with a cellophane type material and built in so that the baby has something to play with whilst Mummy is trying to wrangle a new nappy onto a little bubba.

I took these photos before I attached the tie on the end and so that is missing on here.

Both projects were manageable even for a beginner.

1. Trace a bib pattern from one or there are a few online you can find if you don't have one on hand.
2. Pin right sides together.
3. Make sure you place the string/ ribbon to tie it up inside the bib, leaving a little out to anchor it and the length inside. You can also use velcro after you've turned it instead.
4. Sew around the edge leaving a little gap (back stitched) to turn inside.
5. Turn out the right way and top stitch around the edge making sure you enclose the gap you left to turn it out.

Nappy Mat
1. Measure out your two rectangles
2. Sew face side of fabric together with a gap on the side (back stitched) to turn right side out.
3. Iron flat
4. Measure size of pocket and fold and pin in place. Top stitch around edge using a decorative stitch (don't forget to put the ribbon and toy in the pocket fold if doing so).
5. Sew a divider in the center of the pocket for nappy and wipes case.
6. Sew a ribbon, some velcro or something to fasten and hold together.

Lauren x

p.s. I hope you like the new blog logo! I have felt like a change for a while but waited for the right idea. I loved the toffee apple as it is a mix of healthy and sweet. We eat healthy here, but as someone who enjoys baking, treats are a fun thing to enjoy.


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