Saturday, August 23, 2014

“It is not enough to be busy... The question is: what are we busy about?”
I haven't done a Weekly 10 post for a very long time, but thought I would resurrect it as it's a great way to keep me productive (and to keep track of bits and pieces I'm up to). 

This time I'd like to post Saturday to Saturday, but post both my intended 10 things and a recap of how I went in the previous week - gives it a bit more continuity. (: Now because this is my first time back of course, I will only have things that I intend to do this week. 

Wish me luck! Hope little miss 38 1/2 weeks can stay in there so I can get these all done!

1. Blog every day. Try to think of some daily themes/series.

2. Gymboree book - post it pages

3. Tidy drawers under the over in the kitchen.

4. Begin cleaning netting and windows.

5. Tidy spare room and cupboard in there.

6. Have a fun, hands on activity for Leah to do each day, after daycare through the week.

7. Go to Butterfly Creek and the midwives on Friday.

8. Sellotape the labels onto cooking containers in the pantry.

9. Get Damien to put the bird house up in the tree without it falling down again!

10. Bake and freeze some meals for when we have a little itty bitty baby in the house.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Churros with chocolate dipping sauce

I'm going to precursor this with how easy I thought it would be and how difficult it actually was. I even gave frying duties over to husband I was getting so frustrated. Yummy though!

Churros and Chocolate Dipping Sauce
1 cup milk
125g butter, at room temp
1/4 cup caster sugar, plus 1/2 cup extra
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs at room temp
Vegetable oil, for frying
2t ground cinnamon
395g can sweetened condensed milk
200g dark eating chocolate, broken into pieces

 1. Combine milk, butter and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over a moderate heat. Cook and stir for 2-3 mins or until butter melts and mixture comes to the boil. Adding flour, stirring until mixture comes away from the side of the pan and forms a ball. Transfer mixture to a food processor. Add eggs, one by one, and pulse until well combined (dough should be thick and glossy). Spoon dough into a piping bag bitted with a 1cm star nozzle.

2. Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over moderate heat (oil is ready when a cube of bread crisps quickly without absorbing oil). Carefully pipe 10cm lengths of dough into oil, slicing dough from the nozzle with a sharp knife. Deep-fry churros until golden and cooked. Drain on paper towels. Combine extra sugar and cinnamon on a plate. Roll hot churros, one by one, in sugar mixture to coat.

3. Place condensed milk and chocolate over a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let based of bowel touch water). Stir until melted and smooth. Serve churros with sauce.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fairy Birthday Party

This weekend just gone we had Leah's 3rd birthday party. It's slightly early because Leah's birthday is the 3rd of September and I'm due to have baby on the 4th. Eeek!

Last year we had the Sesame Street Birthday (post one, post two, photos) and I must say, this year was a little less crazy (being 37 weeks pregnant will do that to you!) I still had a few little touches I thought you might like to have shared.

I was pretty chuffed with the invitations I made, although most people were invited via facebook and I only used two of these. I thought I did super well in the making!
If you would like an edited copy of this with your little ones name, age and details on it please email me (:
I would thoroughly recommend an entertainer at a birthday party! We hired a fairy for this party and although I thought she would have more of the kids present into it (the older girls weren't really interested for the whole time), it had my girl mesmerised! She loved Fairy Rose so much and I think we'll talk about her for many moons to come. It's a pretty big cost, but it gave me a chance to talk to people and to help out my little pixies in the kitchen (a weeny bit!).
Serendipity Photography

Serendipity Photography

I made the thank you gift tags quite early on in the piece and apart from them being a real pain to cut out, they were pretty and versatile. Because I made them so early I wasn't sure what the party favours were going to be! They lent themselves well to the 'unicorn horn' lollipops I ended up getting but would have been fine for a variety of gifts.
Again, if you'd like an edited copy of this, please email me (:

Our decorations were very simple for this one (37 weeks pregnant, remember!) and I actually reused some Giant Paper Pom Poms that my lovely friend had made for my recent baby shower. We pinned them up to the netting around the lounge. Boom! Done! This was also the deal with the table tutu. Thanks Miss Nicola! xox

The cake was pretty much a carbon copy of every cake my Ma made me from the age of 3 - 8. Legless barbie type doll smooshed into a cake that looks like her dress. Minor changes - fairy doll instead of generic barbie. Went down a treat though. I even actually made the cake instead of just icing premades this year. I used this recipe and it went down a treat!

And lastly, the food....
Serendipity Photography

We like to eat, can you tell?

Just as I've done previously, I made little themed name cards to go with the dishes, but again, primarily it's all just good party foods.

Here are the name cards with a little explanation of what was served.
A must have - white bread, butter, 100s and 1000s sprinkled on top.
Layered 'traffic light' style jellies.
Mini cupcakes (made from the same mixture as the large cake) with edible glitter of course.
Dinner rolls with breakfast sausages.
Marshmallow, white chocolate, edible glitter. Nom.
Candy floss.
Grapes and raisins.
This was made from a mixture of pineapple juice, ginger beer and sparkling white grape juice. Is delish!
Hash brown bites, some wrapped in bacon.

Mini Savouries
Puck is the fairy from 'A midsummer's night dream' (just to clear that up!). His pikelets (mini sweet and savoury pancakes) were smothered with jam and cream and cream cheese, bacon and tomato respectively. Mmmmm
Recipe here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"You are never to old to set another goal or dream another dream."

I'm getting old! I've always been quite an old soul so I'm not that concerned about it... what I am concerned about is making my life the best that it can be and using the time that I've got wisely, not frittering it away.

There's where my challenges come in. So far I've completed;
101 challenge - 101 challenges in over just over a year, and
52 in 52 - 52 goals over 52 weeks (or a year).

With the upcoming 3rd decade birthday in just under 1 1/2 years, I thought it was time that I undertook a 30 goals before I turn 30. Over the past few months I've been compiling a list. Looking at a bunch of other lists on blogs and asking my friends and family. 15 goals were pretty easy to come up with.... after that it became quite difficult. I now think I'm at a point where I'm really happy with my list and if I have these all successfully completed by the time I'm 30, I'll be a happy camper.

So here it is, you'll also be able to find this list here, and the progress on it in various blog posts with the tag '30 before 30' over the next 16 months.

1. Have or be pregnant with Baby #2
The thinking behind this one is that there won't be a HUGE gap between siblings in this instance. Luckily for me this one will already have a huge tick in about 3 weeks. Now how's that for efficiency?

2. Lose 30kg
Notice a theme? 30, 30, 30. A loss of 30kg will get me down to a weight I'll be fairly happy with. It's definitely not goal weight, but I'm not looking to be a skinny mini, just happy with my size and a little bit healthier. Getting older I'm noticing a lot more aches and pains (it might just be pregnancy!) and I'm sure my weight has a lot to do with this. I'm looking forward to this challenge a lot.

3. Learn how to apply a good face of make up.
I really like the idea of make up. I love the way some woman can look when they're all dolled up. It's just never been me. I will never be a big make up wearer day-to-day, and I like that, but I would like to know my way around foundations, eyeliners etc so that I can pick it up when I want to. I loooove winged eyeliner for example. Luckily for me I have a very talented make up artist in @blushbabynz as a best friend. Yus!

4. Be more proactive about giving Jake a good life.
This one makes me giggle a little bit, mostly at what Mr. Man will have to say about it. Our dog does get a pretty good deal - he has birthdays complete with cake and presents, Christmas gifts and sleeps on an inner sprung matress of his own (but lets face it, most of the time at my feet at the end of the bed). He's a bit of a spoiled pooch as it is, but I want more for him. I want to make sure he's getting great exercise and trained well, consistently. I want him to see his dog friends more often and make this a priority. I want taking him out and giving him experiences to be just as important as doing that for our girls.

5. Get my half sleeve.
This was in the pipe line before I got pregnant and had to be put off. I have the concept in place. It's just about talking to an artist and getting it done. So excited!

6. Do the Colour Run
This just looks like a whole heap of fun doesn't it? Why wouldn't I want to do this. I wanted to include a few things that were experiences, but also had to be careful about how big or crazy I made these as we'll have 2 children under 5 during this time - hard on money and hard on time.

7. Swim with dolphins
Another experience. This one is on my bucket list, will be pleased to have it ticked off once it's done! Exciting!

8. 52 lists project
I saw this idea on the creator's blog a few months ago and loved the idea. I like the idea of looking into yourself and learning more about yourself and I think this challenge sets itself well to that. Reflecting is such an important part of knowing who we are, what a great opportunity to make time for this.

9. Learn how to do new hairstyles, for me and my two girls
As a teacher I see some excellent little girls up-dos and I am envious! Add to that the cool ideas I see on the net and I'm a green ball of jealousy. But I really want to learn. I'm a perfectionist, so learning will be tough - rogue strands here and there are going to irk me, but I'm determined. I love braids on little girls, there must be some simple ones I can learn. I also want to learn to do some things with my hair. I can brush and somewhat straighten, that's about it at this stage.

10. Write a children's book
This one was suggested by a few people. I desperately wish I could draw well so I could have that input into a book as well, but alas... that talent is completely void in me.

11. Make more money from my blog
I currently make $50 a month from my blog for a small bit of advertising, but I know it has potential. Heck, some people are making a living from their blog. I'd love that! If I'm unable to actually make more money from it then I would at least like to explore the possibilities and know about them. I'd also like to connect to more people through my blog, my comments from people other than those I share with on Facebook have fallen off lately.

12. Master a fancy schmancy 5 course gourmet meal
I love cooking and baking, but I'm quite haphazard in my approach and I definitely wouldn't call anything I make 'fine dining'. My techniques are lacking and basically, if it ain't easy, I'm not making it. This should definitely stretch that.

13. Give back
In writing this I'm not really sure what I'm wanting to achieve. There's no set thing I want to do. On my bucket list I have that I want to support someone in need (think CCF), but I haven't thought of specifics....yet

14. Read 30 books from my 'books to read' list
Here is my list. Nuff said!

15. Give 5 'just because' gifts
I completed a similar goal in my 101 challenge and really enjoyed it. Giving makes ya feel choice. It should be on everyone's goal list, all the time.

16. Have high tea with some friends
I like eating, I like friends... Hehe. I've seen lots of people doing this over the last year or so and have been very envious. Time to get me some!

17. Plant 5 trees in our yard
When we were looking for a new house I had visions of big trees that we could have a tyre swing in. In buying a house that was only 12 years old, that didn't come to fruition, but it doesn't mean we can't have those big trees in a few years time... well, lots of years time. Perhaps a few more fruit trees too. (:

18. Make self-care a priority
 I'm always on the go. To the point where sometimes it's to the detriment of my skin routine or other healthy choices. In 2012 I completed the Life Circle Challenge and I scored myself the lowest in health. I want to change that and make me a least for some of the time!

19. Go on more 'photo walks'
 Last year I managed to get 'Digital image of the Year in our photo club, this year, there's no way...simply because I haven't taken enough photos. Other things have gotten in the way and I've been really slack about it. I'm hoping to reignite this passion with this goal.

20. Finish planting, and keep alive my herb and vege garden
Pretty self explanatory right? I'm actually keen to get a lot done in our yard. Hopefully it's not all just good intentions.

21. Have family photos taken again.
We had our lovely friend Lynn take photos of our family in December of 2012. With the new addition lurking and potentially some weight loss on my part, I'd love these updated. 

22. Try a new restaurant once a month in 2015
Easy peasy... now who wants to baby sit for us?

23. Ensure I'm getting the best deal with phone/power/insurance etc companies. Change if need be.
I thought this was a pretty good adulty thing to get sorted before I'm 30! When we went into our first house, with a lot of things I just did what my mum and dad had done and went with the companies they did. I'd like to do some research into this to make sure we're getting the best bang for our buck now. In addition to this I want to know more about how and what we pay, as well as the options. We had a spike in our electricity bill recently and I tried to read our bill (which I just see the dollar amount of and pay it each month, like a deer in headlights.) and found that I couldn't read it! Bout time me thinks.

24. Make a significant change in my work life so that I feel more happy/fulfilled here.
This could be a change from within, or externally. I'm keen to explore some possibilities here. 

25. Make time for video games.
Does this seem stupid to you? "Hey, I want to be more fulfilled in my life, I want to get more out of my time. I know! Video games!" Haha, yeah yeah, laugh it up. The fact of the matter is, I'm a gamer, I love gaming, especially nostalgia games and it makes me sad that I don't make time for them. If I can make time to read I should make time for this other favourite pastime. And who says I can't give myself permission to relax with a good game?

26. Watch some big movies/series that I have never seen.
People look at me in a strange fashion when I explain that I haven't seen films like 'Avatar' or the like. I like smaller movies. I like indie movies. I'm hoping that the IMDb Top 250 might help me out here. I'm hoping that this goal will help me in general conversation!

27. Save up for and splurge on something just for me.
When I saved up for my Kitchen Aide mixer and iPhone I was SO pleased with myself. I want that again.

28. Learn how to make 5 cocktails.
Uhhh, nom!

29. Go to the Waitomo Caves.
I can't remember if I've ever done this and it's a great adventure goal really close to home for us. Looking through lists that other people have made, there were plenty that I was really jealous of but SO unachievable in the time that I have. Perhaps my 40 before 40 (which I'll make in 2016 to give myself 10 years to do) will have things like 'see the Northern Lights' in. I'm sure people on the other side of the world would love to do the Waitomo Caves, so I shouldn't be too down on this one simply because it's a household name around here!

30. Find a musical instrument that Leah would like to play, and buy her one. 
My goal for my girls is to have one (or more) instruments and sports/activities that are theirs. Leah turns 3 in a couple of weeks and probably more towards her next birthday we'll have more of an idea of what she might like? Would be a good 4th birthday present. She loves her little play keyboard and actually has some real rhythm on daddies drums, but you never know.

So that's it! Good list? It fits for me and us considering how late I've left it. As I elude to in #29, I'd like to continue and do the 40 before 40, but give myself some more time and some bigger, loftier goals.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Things I'm Loving

"Every week may not be good but there is something good in every week."
It's been quite a trying week in our household, sick Mumma, sick bubba, last week of work before maternity leave, gearing up for an early 3rd birthday party.. it's all go and all very exhausting!

I don't like to say it, but I'm loving that it's my last day today. When I was pregnant with Leah I worked until around 37 weeks, just like this time, but what I neglected to think about is that this time I have a 2 year old at home! Add into that mix that there's been a yucky sickness going around for the past one and a half weeks and I'm really ready for a break!

Love finding this. It's pretty much been my mantra for a few years now.

Loving getting ready for this birthday party. We're having Leah's birthday party this Saturday, which is around 2 weeks early, because baby #2 is due on the 4th of September. I do love these birthday things, and I love having people around, and I love Leah's excitement...but man am I tired! Thank god for helpful husbands and friends, couldn't do it without you all <3
Jelly layering prep
Best husband in the world on pikelet flipping duties

Loving my colleagues. I work with a lovely bunch of people who threw a cool fun baby shower for myself and another work mate who's having a baby in the next wee while. So spoiled.

Loving this little one. No matter how sick she is, she never loses that smile or that cheeky streak. She's been so up and down this week with temperatures, sore throats and a runny nose and she's just a trooper. So glad she's feeling better for the festivities on Saturday.

Rapt that I can find things to love in such a 'ho-hum' week. Maternity leave ho'!

What are you loving this week?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dark Ghana Cheesecake

Dark Ghana Cheesecake
Deliciously bitter, great served with sweetened whip cream or strawberries. Make the hazelnuts an optional extra if they're not your cup of tea.

250 gram packet biscuits (I used malt biscuits for the one in the pic but digestives also a good idea)
50g Whittaker's Dark Ghana Chocolate (85% cocoa), roughly chopped.
100g butter, melted

Dark Ghana Filling
150g Whittaker's Dark Ghana Chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup ground almost or very finely chopped hazelnuts
250g cream cheese
2T cocoa powder
3 eggs, at room temperature
1.2 cup caster sugar
1T vanilla essence 

1. Preheat the over to 180 degrees celcius. Like a spring-fomr cake tin with baking paper.

2. For the base, process the biscuits and chocolate in a good processor until finely chopped. Pulse in the butter. Press the crumbs into the base and up and around the sides of the prepared tin and refridgerate.

3. For the filling, melt the chocolate with the cream and stir until smooth. Mix with the ground almonds or hazelnuts, cream cheese and cocoa.

4. Beat the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla essence together with an electric mixer until very thick and light in colour. Stir gently into the cream cheese mixture and pour into the prepared cake tin.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160 degrees celcius and cook for a further 45-50 minutes or until the filling is firm to the touch. Allow to stand for 15 minutes to 'set' before dusting with icing sugar.

Serves 8 - 10 people.