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


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