Tuesday, December 2, 2014

{R.A.C.K. 2014 : Random Acts of Christmas Kindness}

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the festivity, the food, the celebrations and the traditions. We have many traditions but this year we are ramping up the tradition we started over the last few years where we use this season to focus on generosity. {original post here}. I have written before {link here} about how easy it is to over-indulge at this time of year with food, gifts and money in general.
I love going all out at this time of year, but I also love teaching the kids (as I try to do all year long) that it's not just about us. There is more to life than what's in it for me? If I leave a legacy to my kids of generosity being a standard and always looking out for others, I will be a happy Mum. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

{Secret Santa Helper}

I don't mean to alarm you, but Christmas is 40 days away! I still have a bunch of shopping to do so I hope your more organised than me. It's crept up very quickly here this year. 

For those who do a secret Santa, my husbands side of the family is using a great website to draw secret Santa names. Since we aren't all in the same state, it has made drawing names so easy I just had to share!
If you log on to drawnames.com it allows you to set up a group. You enter email addresses and can even set exceptions (i.e. spouses don't get each other for example). Then each person gets an email allowing the to log in and set a wish list with examples of things they may like. 

I like my shopping done by December so as soon as I get back from my vacation - I mean Tresilian, it's going to be a big shopping day for me I think. 

Do you do a secret Santa in your family or an all out gift fest?
Lauren  x

Thursday, October 23, 2014

{Call The Fashion Police and Lock Me Up}

Many things fascinate me about wardrobes. The way people organise them or the way they don't. If you go into my wardrobe you would find it orgnaised by category and also colour. My mind works better when things are labelled and in categories. It's just something that makes me, me. Some people laugh but then I can find anything in my wardrobe I need in 2 seconds flat and I think that's just pure efficient if you ask me. 

People also hold onto some items of clothes like they are a time capsule. That section of your wardrobe that you used to fit and one day hope to again. It's like some sort of deal you have with yourself as insentive. Somehow if you throw them out or donate them, it's like your admitting that goal is over - for now! And the thought of that is devistating. So we hold on to them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

{Ode to South Africa}

Recently, my husband had to travel to Cape Town for a business trip. His new job requires more travel than before and so with Daddy being gone for over a week, I tried to think of ways to keep the family in touch with where Daddy was. We started by turning our fridge into an information station on all things South Africa. I printed off some pictures of maps, flags, animals and food commonly found there. The boys loved learning about this country and having it front and center helped my boys to focus on Daddy's adventure and feel like they were involved. Apologies for the terrible picture, but you get the idea of what I was trying to achieve. The boys coloured in a South African flag and these activities gave us a lot to talk about when Daddy arrived home. 

During the week and a half he was away, we also dabbled in trying some South African Cuisine. I bought a Boerewors sausage from our local supermarket and we had that for dinner one night. I am not normally a fan of sausages for dinner, but it was delicious and I understand why its a favorite dish in that part of the world.

The boys and I also made a melktert (milk tart) which is a delicious South African custard style tart. It went down a treat and no fancy ingredients, easy as, well, pie!  {Click here for the recipe}
Some other dishes we would like to try are the Bobotie and a 'Bunny Chow' Curry.

A great tip for people with kids who travel for work. Hubby took a minion toy away in his suitcase and sent us photos when possible of "the minions adventures". The boys loved it when I got to show them these photos and it became something they looked forward to. This is a great tradition we have started for when buisness travels are long and especially overseas. As great as technology is, you can't always bank on good wifi connections, and sometimes time zones don't favour facetime. This idea allows some communication with home, and for the traveling parent to send these photos when its easy for them.  

It has been an incredible experience learning about a culture other than our own. Especially when we got to see some of the sights and animals that daddy shared with us.

What a beautiful country and I would love to visit there someday. 
Q: If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go?
Lauren x

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

{Baked Camenbert}

I wanted to m,ake a snack for small group last night that was yummy but since I am thick in the midst of (attempting to) sleep training my baby, I didn't feel like hitting the shops looking like the "wreck of the hesperus" as my grandma says. So, I decided to set myself another 'shop the pantry' challenge. The result was wickedly delicious and I am adding this to my entertaining menu for sure! 
I searched through the pantry and the fridge and saw a small wheel of Camenbert on the cheese shelf that I didn't end up serving with dips a few days earlier. Perfect. That was my hero. I had hummus and carrot sticks, but that seemed in the words of Masterchef, pedestrian. I am not actually that fancy, I just like experimenting with flavours. I wanted something easy but different. I wondered about baking it as I had seen it done before and up comes this photo on my phone from Jamie Oliver. 
baked Camembert 
That looked to die for. So I skimmed the ingredients and knew I had it on hand. Excellent! Even if you are not a baker or enjoy cooking that much, this is SO easy and the result is definitely one that creates a WOW factor. Its the kind of dish I could imagine having on a Friday night instead of dinner. A Spring or Autumn night out on the deck with a good glass of red. Chatting to my hubby and enjoying each others company. 
1. You simply score the cheese and place thinly sliced garlic, Rosemary leaves and a touch of Olive Oil.
2. Tear up chunks of day old bread and thread onto Rosemary stalks. Spray with oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place in oven with cheese.
3. Whilst in the oven chop up some dried cranberries and nuts. I used pinenuts and walnuts which is what I had. I could imagine most working though. 
4. Once bread is golden and cheese is gooey, plate up. 
5. Dip bread in cheese and then sprinkle nut mixture on top and enjoy! SOOOO GOOOD!!!!  

My Interpretation of Jamie's dish:

 Displaying IMG_1772.JPG 

Give it a go, if you can chop, rip and put stuff on a tray....you got this!
Lauren x

Thursday, August 14, 2014

{Robin Williams : The Loss of a Ledgend}

This week humanity lost a legend.  One of the greats. 
We will all remember where we were in that moment of disbelief. 
I was sitting in the car on my driveway. Listening to the radio, unwilling to wake my sleeping daughter by bringing her inside. 
The announcers voice trembled slightly as he said those words.
ROBIN WILLIAMS HAS PASSED AWAY.  You could have knocked me over with a feather. The man whose voice and face marked childhood memories for me and now my children. 
His brilliance. 
               His humour.  
                           My heart ached.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

{Prayer Sticks}

I am always on the look out for interesting ways to incorporate our families' faith into our every day moments. I felt God put on my heart recently the need to step up the prayer life for my two boys. I love that whenever they hear a siren now its instinctual to pray for the accident and the emergency workers. However, with their little sisters' sleep and general routine leaving something to be desired, bedtime prayers were either being forgotten or being limited in topic matter. Due to hubby's working hours, I am often juggling bedtime routine and rocking a baby to sleep at the same time. Helpful. 
So, I decided to make it tangible and exciting for the boys to pray for different things. Enter the Prayer Sticks.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

{Meat Free Monday : Eggplant Pizzas}

Last week I found some eggplant at a local green grocer for $3 a kg and couldn't pass it up. I didn't know what I was going to create with it at the time, but love a good challenge and am trying my best to eat as healthy as I can. This recipe turned out to be such a winner and I will definitely make it again!

Before you start, prep your eggplant by salting it to draw the bitterness out. I thought this was common knowledge until a conversation with someone recently and they couldn't figure out why they liked eggplant when cooked at a restaurant but not at home. Turns out they never knew to salt it first. For some good tips on this process, click on {this link} for more info from one of my favourite sites taste.com.au.

Once you have prepped your eggplant your are ready. These are the ingredients I used:
1 Eggplant Cut width-wise into circles
Fresh Basil
Tomato Paste
Mushrooms or Lean cut Ham (depending if you want it to be fully vegetarian)
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Step 1:
Once Eggplant is prepped (as above)drizzle with a little evoo(extra-virgin olive oil) and either grill or bake until they start to golden. 

Step 2:
Spread with a little tomato paste and salt and pepper. I think you need the consistency of the paste rather than a sauce. If you use a pasta sauce type consistency, it may make the end product too watery and hard to pick up.
Add finely cut mushrooms, zucchini, lean ham, salami or whatever you like as your main topping. 

Step 3:
Add a fresh basil leaf or two and sprinkle with Parmesan. Its really worth splurging on fresh basil here, it makes it. Also, if you choose a stronger hard cheese (as opposed to a tasty style) you need less cheese (therefore calories) to achieve a nice taste. 

Step 4:Bake for about another 5 minutes in moderate oven, just to melt cheese really. If you like, tear a few extra basil leaves over before you serve. YUM!

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!
Lauren x   


Thursday, August 7, 2014

{LunchBox Life}

Earlier this week I posted this photo on my Insta feed and part of the caption read: "Today's 'shop the pantry' adventures." I wanted to bake some treats, but not go to the shops for anything.

I am often appalled by the price it costs to feed a family these days, and the more I talk to friends, I am convinced the feeling is also mutual. I have found that shopping at Aldi for most of our groceries has slashed the price significantly. However, my 8 and 5 year old boys are eating a lot and we haven't even hit 'teenager-land' yet! 
I whipped up these snacks briefly in the kitchen and it lasted us a whole week of lunchboxes, afternoon treats and even some lunches. Here are the details:

1. Zucchini Slice: {link to recipe here}
Now, my kids don't think they like zucchini, but I call it quiche and they love it! If the green bothers them, you could always peel it beforehand. You could also add grated carrot or corn into the mix too for a variation. I line a baking dish with baking paper to make it easy to lift out, then cut into squares. I froze half and put the other half into lunchboxes with some salad for a sandwich alternative.

2. Cheesy-mite Scrolls:
There is a "proper" way to do this using dough Details are {here} if you have time, but my life right now is all about making things as easy as possible and store bought puff pastry works fine.
Just spread a sheet of puff with vegemite, sprinkle a good amount of grated cheese on top and roll. Cut into pieces and then lay on tray and bake till golden. Simple!

3. Homemade "LCM's":
I had some cheerios and rice bubbles in the pantry that my boys were not that fussed with. So, I dug around to find something to create with that I had on hand and ended up making a sort of 'LCM' style bar equivalent that my boys now love! You can set into a baking dish and cut into squares or simply scoop into cupcake cases. No oven required, a few ingredients and so cheap and easy! I kinda winged it but found an official recipe for you guys to follow {recipe here}

4. Banana Bread:
A favorite in our house and the link is in the menu bar to the right under my favorite sweet recipes. But I'll also put it here too {recipe}

5. Choc Cupcakes:
I always have a cupcake mix on hand for those emergencies. It has saved me many times. I am not talking top shelf here, its a bag from woolies on the bottom shelf that only costs about 80 cents. I simply made this up to instructions, chucked in a mashed banana and some choc chips I had and Voila!

So, there are 5 easy things to add to your kids lunchboxes this week that wont break the bank. 

Hit me up on here in the comments below or on the Homemade FB page {link here} as to your favourite lunchbox winners! 

Lauren x

Monday, July 14, 2014

{"Caught You Being Good"}

Its been a while since my last post. I needed a break to handle what turned out to be a rough last portion of pregnancy and a 2 month break settling into life with our baby girl. It certainly has been a hazy few months. I have felt like this often:

I considered giving up my blog, but decided to sit on it for a while. Glad i did as now that I am coming out of "zombie-land" slowly, I have missed my little space on here. 

I recently had some great feedback from some friends when they saw my 'caught you being good' addition to our fridge recently. So, I thought I would share it on here too. My boys (8) and (5) have adjusted well to being big brothers. However, selective hearing has started to creep in here and there. Okay, there are days  when I feel like I may just be invisible and that usually drives me nuts. I found myself always on the defensive back foot saying "no" too much. Add a sleep deprived mother and I was going crazy. 
So, here is my attempt to keep things positive. I simply typed up a sheet with their name and used the off cuts to create a paper chain of 6 rings each.

Photo: The new additions to our fridge...helping us focus on the good behavior. This morning I had angels kidnap my sons and we were ready for school early! If I catch them doing something kind/ helpful/ respectful a ring comes off and when they get to the top, they get a small prize. So far so good!!! #keepingitreal

The idea is when i catch them being kind/ doing something respectful or helpful etc... a ring is removed. When they get to the top, they get a prize. I'm not talking expensive toys here, gosh no! These will be simple things like:
- 10 minutes extra bed time
- choose the Friday night movie
- choose a dinner for next week
- make cookies with mum etc...

I look forward to getting back into blog land and getting my kitchen/ crafty mojo back. In baby steps though :)

Lauren x

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

{Apple Mint Iced Tea}

In this hot Sydney summer weather it's always nice to find cool refreshing ways to take the edge off the heat. Especially when 7 months pregnant and mostly hot and uncomfortable ;) Today I made a delicious Apple and Mint Iced Tea and I used my T2 iced tea jug. This is very handy as it has a built in infuser but it's not essential. You'll Need: - 2L jug - 3 Peppermint tea bags - 2 cups boiling water - 1L Apple juice (fresh would be best but I just used my usual bottled juice to make it easier) - Sprig or two of Mint (I used the chocolate mint growing in the garden). - 1 Lime - 1 Green Apple & Ice Cubes to serve Make up the tea as you normally would in a jug and leave to steep for a moment. Chill in fridge. Add the apple juice and then add the mint, bruising the leaves a little before adding it. Juice the lime and add it along with some of the apple finely chopped and ice to serve. (I ended up grating 1/4 of the apple to add a little extra flavor). Garnish with left over off cuts if you wish. It is such a delicious way to feel refreshed in this heat for sure. This will definitely be added regularly to the fridge this summer.

Lauren x

Friday, January 10, 2014

{Count Your Many Blessings}

This year I have finally put into place something I wanted to do all last year but never got around to doing. I have a big jar that has a simple sign on it "Count your many blessings" on the front.

Quite simply this jar is in a central place of the home and every time a special moment happens or a prayer is answered, a little note with a brief description goes in the jar. This jar will fill over the next year and then on New Years Eve we will open it as a family and look back on the blessings that have been lavished on our family. It's a great way to keep a positive outlook front and centre and a tangible way to see it grow.

Even if you live by yourself or just with a couple, you could still do it with an individual sized jar next to your bed or something...it's an idea totally adaptable to your circumstance.

Why not try it? It's only half way through January and not too late. You could always add one or two notes to describe any wonderful moments that have happened so far in 2014.

Lauren x


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