Monday, June 25, 2012

Alex's pick of the week : The Marvelous Mud Washing Machine

I (almost) moved heaven and earth to get this book for Alex.... okay slight exaggeration but I did have to order it second hand, from the USA, at considerable cost (compared to what I would normally pay for any book) and in only fairly reasonable condition.  I did this over a year ago, and I'm happy to say that Alex has had many happy hours from this book since (and I was also pretty chuffed that my niece Ella enjoyed so much too last time we were all together).

It was nostalgia that made me do it - am I the only one who remembers reading this book as a child?  It has very few words (and most of them are 'marvelous') but as a kid it was pure delight to imagine that you could get dirty all day long, then when Mum tells you to wash up for dinner you nip into the woods in your back yard and put yourself through this awesome (carwash-like) machine that cleans you up all sparkly...  And you don't have to have the usual boring bath with your grubby brother!! Lol

Its one of those great books that I remember being the one of first I could read all by myself - and although Alex can't actually read yet, he recites it to me now already.  My brother and I loved this book when we were kids ....  My Nanna had a normal suburban backyard with big bushy plants that we loved to pretend we 'explored' (don't even get me started on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe!) and I do distinctly remember us disappearing into the 'woods' in her backyard (aka shrubs) then going through the marvelous mud washing machine (aka the slip n slide!!)  Lol.

My brother probably recalls it differently (when I showed him this book, he had only a vague recollection) - but I was pretty safe most of the time, while he was much more the dare devil (still is!).... Apart from me being older, this was probably one of his 'tamer' expeditions where as it was one of my more adventurous ones (I was always pretty cautious!), so no surprises it sticks more in my mind than his - being such an awesome, imaginative little boy, Mick had so many adventures, its hard to remember them all :)  I do really love that this was one of my most favourite ones from when we were kids though (you know, when I wasn't forcing him to play dress ups and have afternoon teas in Nanna's back yard.... and he did, because he was obliging... and maybe there was nothing else to do and all his jelly beans were gone but I still had some! Hahaha).

Bye for now :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Foodie Friday : Seafood in Ouzo

Let me start off by letting you know that this is my Mum's recipe, I can't take any credit (unfortunately!)  This is a super special treat meal for us, it definitely doesn't fit the budget category!  We're having it tonight with the seafood below, but Mum has made this lots of times with just prawns and its always gorgeous.  Don't be put off by the ouzo if you're not a fan, its just a hint of it that adds something special to the sauce :)  This recipe serves 4 - 6 (with a good serving of rice & salad).


Large handful scallops (roe off)
500g green peeled prawns
3 Moreton Bay bugs (or whatever bugs are local to you)
250g bacon, chopped, rind removed
250g sliced mushrooms
1 onion, diced
6 spring onions (shallots), green part only
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbpsn butter or margarine
2 tbspn ouzo
300ml pure cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Rice and salad to serve


1   Heat a non stick pan and cook the bacon until almost brown
2   Add the onion and cook until transparent
3   Add the mushrooms and cook until just cooked
4   Remove all of the above from the pan and set aside (keep warm)
5   Add the butter to the pan, melt then lower heat
6   Saute the seafood and garlic until lightly cooked
7   Add the ouzo and stir
8   Add the bacon, onion, mushrooms, shallots and stir
9   Add the cream and stir, heat through
10 Taste and add more ouzo, and seasoning, if desired
11 Serve over rice with a side salad

Trust me when I tell you this is really something special and you will NOT be disappointed!!  My Mum is a fabulous cook - especially where seafood is concerned.  Excuse me, won't you, while I go and eat my dinner!

Bye for now :)

I'm linking up to Great Googa Mooga's Friday Faves

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Party dress....

Back in March some good friends asked if Mum and I would decorate a work party for them, which I readily agreed to (I love doing this type of stuff)....We had a budget of $300 for all the decorations, and the party was for 32 guests (including 9 kids of differing ages) so Mum and I set about getting everything organised.

For the main table runner, we went to Spotlight and found the silver fabric in the clearance section of the evening wear fabrics!  So we bought what we needed and Mum cut it lengthways, sewed a seam in the middle and overlocked all the edges.  We were both really pleased with how it turned out. 

The white tablecloths and cutlery were hired so we didn't need to worry about those, and most of the glassware I already owned, so we were pretty right with all of that as well.  The placemats were actually scrapbooking papers - I had a moment of genius there, if I do say so myself!  I got those from my friend and local Creative Memories Consultant Julie - its the Reflections Designer Prints Pack (you can find those on her site here).

The green candles in the centre were $1 each from K-mart and the white candles were also from there (the votive holders for the white candles are from Ikea, I already owned those).  The vases are actually canisters from K-mart - I got canisters instead of vases for their heavy bottoms (great stability on those hired tables) and re-usability for the hosts, with just a bit of white ribbon tied around.

I then just bought a selection of different flowers and greenery from Woolworths at Robina (if you're local, the Woolies in the old section of Robina Town Centre is fantastic for cheap greenery to pad out your flowers, and the blooms themselves are really good too.  There is also a florist on site to put the bunch together for you and give it a ribbon if you like as well).  I really like how they turned out - cheerful and simple.

In terms of the kids table, I bought those grey plastic tablecloths at Spotlight - the kids table was off to the side (closer to the hired jumping castle), with a big space left at one end for nibblies when everyone arrived so they weren't on the main table.  The white placemats are actually fabric with interfacing ironed on the back, then the edges just done with pinking shears. 

I put a little cup together for each child with plastic cutlery, napkin, straw, lollipop, pinwheel, party blower and bubbles.  Then I made a little label for each, cut a strip of paper from some old scrapbooking papers I had laying around and stuck it all together.  The cups in the middle of the tables had fabric markers so the kids could draw their own placemats and take them home to keep at the end of the day - the older boys weren't too fussed, but the girls and the younger kids really liked them :)

I also did some Martha Stewart pom-poms out of tissue paper to hang around - these always look great for parties and are so easy to make, although they are time consuming (you can find the instructions here).  So there you have it - the hosts and the guests were happy with how it turned out, and I think we did a pretty good job in the end (although I did wonder at one point if it looked too backyard wedding/ engagement-ish!)  In any case, it all went off well!

Bye for now :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A moment in time : Nanna & Little Poppy

A day without (or with very few) words - just a photo or two to capture a
moment in time I want to remember.

I've been inspired by, and will be linking up to, Felafel and The Bee's Wordless{ish} Wednesday post and Soule Mama's {this moment} Friday ritual post. If you feel motivated to capture your own moment in time, please leave me a link via comments so I can have a look :)

This is a photo I recently acquired of my Dad (Alex's Poppy) and his Mum (my beloved Nanna, who passed away nearly 4 years ago).  It's actually on a plaque which has cracked over all these years, but is nonetheless really lovely.  I can't decide who Dad looks more like in this photo - my brother Mick or my son Alex!  The likeness of both to my Dad (then and now) cannot be denied! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The sunny Gold Coast...

These photos are pretty old now, but are really nice shots of the city we call home these days.  A million  moons ago when I'd done some overtime at work, Boofy and I decided to book a mystery night away, just the two of us.  We got a great deal (in the form of a mystery hotel) via and ended up paying less than half what the room was worth - score!

As it turned out, Boofy had some medical stuff going down shortly after (that we were unaware of at the time) so it turned out to be a wonderful calm before the storm, so to speak....  And given the amount we've spent on medical expenses since then, there is no way we would have been able to do it now, so I'm really glad we did.

Anyways, with further ado, here are some gratuitous shots of the Gold Coast, courtesy of the balconies at the Crowne Plaza Broadbeach :)

View from balcony over (a very calm) Broadbeach late afternoon

View from the side balcony looking north towards Surfers Paradise
(that is the Q1 building jutting up in the background there with the lightning rod)

View over Broadbeach at sunset

Looking north east (towards Surfers Paradise beach) from the hotel at sunset
Looking west (more towards where we live) to the Gold Coast Hinterland, over the Nerang River
(those are the lights of Metricon Stadium at Carrara at the top right)

I hope you've enjoyed the scenery friends!

Bye for now :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Krispy's pick of the week : Shopaholic

Before I get into this post, let me just say that I've given my blog an overhaul in the last day or so (with the help of the lovely Jen from Paperazzi Designs on Made It who did the banner for me)....  If you are receiving this post via email, I would love it if you could pop on over and check it out - I'd be very grateful to have your feedback!  Thanks :)

Okay, so onto our book!  Alex has had a slow week in terms of books, and we are still reading The Twits from last week - so I thought I'd do the pick of the week this time.

This book (or series actually) is something I go back to over and over...  Being a reformed shopaholic myself, I find I can relate (a little too well actually!) to the insanely funny situations this girl manages to get herself into ;)

What I love most about this series is that its just pure escapsim, nothing you have to think too hard about here - and don't we all need a bit of that sometimes?

If you haven't read any of these books, do yourself a favour and order the first one (The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic) from your library.  Oh - and if you've seen the movie and are a little put off (because seriously, who wouldn't be.... I was sooooo disappointed) then don't be!  The books are a gazillion times better!

Let me know if you give it a go.  I'm linking this post up to Felafel and The Bee's On Our Shelves Sunday post for this week.

Bye for now :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Foodie Friday : Linguine with lemon, garlic & thyme mushrooms

This is one of my all time favourite recipes - it is from Nigella Lawson's 'Nigella Express' cookbook, and express it is!  I am not a huge meat eater - sometimes I crave it and then I'll eat it, but I am just as happy with a really tasty vegetarian meal, and this one fits the bill!  One of my best friends is vegetarian and this is what I make her whenever she's feeling down or in need of some TLC, it always puts a smile on her dial :)

Here is the recipe as it appears in Nigella's book, which is perfectly delicious as it is:


225g chestnut mushrooms (I usually just use button mushrooms)
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (I use lemon thyme)
500g linguine
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan or to taste
freshly ground pepper


1  Slice the mushrooms finely and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice, zest and thyme leaves

2  Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water.  Quickly put the drained pasta in the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

3  Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart! :)

I love this recipe just as it is, but my husband does not like mushrooms so firm and prefers them a little softer.  If you prefer it that way too, you can put a little of the olive oil in a pan, fry the garlic then toss the mushrooms in for a couple of minutes, and its just as good.  Here is how it looked after I made it last night...

Yummy!!!  I always add way more mushrooms than the recipe says (good way to get that vege count up) and I didn't have linguine at hand, so I just used spaghetti.  And as another variation, I really LOVE a bunch of fresh asparagus in it too (I just didn't have any to put in last night).  A sprinkle of chilli flakes works well too :)

Hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do - this recipe proves that sometimes the simple things in life are the best!

Bye for now :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby shower gift....

My sister in law is due very soon and her baby shower is this weekend (Annette - if you're reading this, please skip this post until after your baby shower, unless you want to know in advance what your gift is!! :))

I wanted to send something a little hand made, but practical.  I thought about what I found useful when Alex was a baby, and settled on a little 'kit' to keep in her car.  Because you know, sometimes you just need to duck out for a couple of things, and don't want to lug a huge nappy bag.... but sure enough if you don't take it, the little darling (right on cue) will fill the nappy and your minor trip turns into a major ordeal!

So I thought maybe a little Baby Car Kit she could keep in her car boot for emergencies!  I chose a fabric I hoped she might like, and used a little bag I got online from Ecoshopper and just sewed a strip of fabric on.  With the same fabric, I made a little change mat that can just be thrown in the wash.  Then I just added a bunch of stuff that's useful to have close by when you're out : wipes, sunscreen, nappy cream, nappy sacks, a bib, a blanket (so she can wrap bub up, or to put under the change mat when changing for a bit of cushion) and a little baby on board sign.  Here's how it all looked when I was finished:

And all packed up and ready for the car:

I hope she likes it - quite a few people around me are pregnant at the moment, and I think this is really cute, so I might do a few more of these!

Bye for now :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A moment in time : Super Nanny

A day without (or with very few) words - just a photo or two to capture a
moment in time I want to remember.

I've been inspired by, and will be linking up to, Felafel and The Bee's Wordless{ish} Wednesday post and Soule Mama's {this moment} Friday ritual post. If you feel motivated to capture your own moment in time, please leave me a link via comments so I can have a look :)

Not many Nannies would (or could!) don their grandson's Batman suit for a photo op - but Alex's Nanny (aka Heather, my Stepmum) is pretty special like that! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sweet dreams...

So we have repainted nearly our whole house... but my bedroom remains in its original state with the grubby looking aqua walls staring back at me...

There is so much wrong with this room - the furniture is a hodge podge, there's an ugly window air conditioner (except its stuck in the wall not the window - so removing it involves plastering, brick laying etc - which is why its still there after several years!)  But it does have a nice outlook with the trees outside, and on a lovely sunny winter's day, the light that shines in this room makes me happy :)

Anyways, with no funds in the budget for a makeover at this stage, and my own indecision about what colour to paint it, I did what any girl would do and went surfing on Pinterest for some dream bedroom images to pin to my 'Bed' board!  

So for your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favourites....  Some I love the whole room, but others I just pinned for their colour palettes...














One thing I have learnt from this blog post is that I'm obviously enjoying a bit of colour (particularly blue) but still loving white... beyond that its a strange mix, and so still not a clue!  Which are your favourites?  I'd love to hear!

Bye for now :)

Alex's pick of the week : The Twits

This book is by my most favourite children's author ever, Roald Dahl.  I got so much enjoyment from his books when I was growing up (particularly this one), I'm so keen to pass this on to Alex!

I think its important to introduce the concept of putting bookmarks in books and not being overwhelmed by them...  that its okay to pick up a book, even if it looks too big to read, because you can always read a little and come back later  :)

The Twits is one of those books - we've read it before (about 6 months ago) and he really enjoyed it - we probably read it over 3 or 4 nights.  I came across it yesterday when I was cleaning up and thought it was high time we revisited.

Image Source
The Twits is a story about a horrible husband and wife team, Mr & Mrs Twit, who are mean and nasty (until the animals they mistreat turn the tables on them and they get their just desserts).  There are lots of interesting messages for little kids - one I particularly like is that Mrs Twit wasn't always an ugly person, but she thought ugly thoughts year after year, and eventually that made her an ugly person, inside and out.

My favourite quote from this book:

"A person who thinks good thoughts can never be ugly.  You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely".

Isn't that a nice to message to share with your kids?   I think so :)  What are you reading this week?  I'd love to hear.

I'm linking this post up to Felafel and The Bee's On Our Shelves Sunday post for this week.

Bye for now :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday in the garden...

Its that time again.... when I bombard you with photos of the vege garden!  As I mentioned earlier this week, our summer crops never seem to go right - we get a LOT of rain here in Queensland over the summer, and its always very hot and humid - the rain always seems to come on weekends, and so its very hard to get out in the garden.  Consequently, weeds flourish, vegetable plants get rained into the soil and turn to sludge, and eventually we find we have something like this to contend with:

OMG weed fest!  And would you believe these two in the middle are rocket and basil? 

Out of control....  the rocket was very bitter though and the basil tasted like aniseed - they'd been let go for too long and just no longer really edible!

This past fortnight, it all came out!  Every last weed was ripped up, and the whole bed was topped again with some lovely, rich organic soil.  (It had been a couple of years since we filled it up, so the soil had compacted quite a bit).  We repinned the liner again (as it hard started to fall down in places) and also put newspaper between the old soil and new to try to stop any new little weedies from getting through (as several had gone to seed).

With the bed all fresh and new again, we wasted no time in getting some seedlings in!  Last weekend Mum and I actually got out in the rain (well, showers mostly) and planted - so as of today, here is how our garden looks:

This garden bed is quite large, measuring 11m in length and 1.2m deep - its also at waist height which makes for really easy gardening, as we don't have to bend :)  The only problem is that the height of it makes it difficult to reach all the way to the back of the bed - but actually that has worked out really well.  Because while a waist height garden bed is great for us, its not so hot for the littlest member of our family - so the wasted space at the back has become a pathway of sorts, for Alex to wander through the garden, water things, harvest veges and generally dig wholes that I have to fill in later :)

And in case you're wondering what we've actually planted, here is the list:

  •  Fennel (didn't look at the label and thought it was dill... turns out I am the dill!)
  • Baby broccoli
  • LOTS of sugar snaps (they always do well and are my favourites - plus they look so pretty when they grow and flower!)
  • Snow peas
  • Zucchini (yellow patio zucchini - my last one went crazy but produced no actual zucchinis, so I'm starting again, but smaller)
  • Baby spinach
  • Sweet capsicum
  • Dwarf beans
  • Lots of lettuce
  • Bok choi
  • Mini cabbage
  • Sugarloaf cabbage
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Shallots
  • Coriander
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • A transplanted birdseye chilli (its unkillable!)
  • And the aloe vera plants that have been there for ever
  • And a partridge in a pear tree the metal turtle that Tim's Mum gave us as a housewarming when we moved in:

So there you have it - our newly planted vegetable garden...  I only wish my Nanna was still here to see me gardening - I talked about doing it one day when she was still alive and living with us, I wish I'd got to it then - having once been a very keen gardener herself, I know she'd be very proud :')

And to end my little gardening post, here are some pretty pictures of flowers growing in our pots out the back - I'd love to say I pay them lots of attention and they are flourishing but I can't take credit, I neglect them terribly and they've done this all on their own!  Please excuse the dead parsley in the background! LOL

Bye for now :)

Foodie Friday : Asparagus & Feta Frittata

Okay, I know it says Foodie Friday, and its now Saturday, but the first time I made this I forgot to take a picture of it cooked - so I needed to make it again last night to get the photo! :) 
Are you looking for something to cook this weekend?  Want something yummy and healthy that just cooks itself while you snuggle up nice and cosy with your book?  Well, this is it!  Recently I had the pleasure of making lunch for my Mum, Grandma and two of my Aunties – several of them are on wheat free/ gluten free diets at the moment, so this is perfect for that too!


8 large eggs
Splash of milk
Big handful of low fat grated cheese
Half a block of Danish feta cheese, broken into small chunks
Large handful of sliced mushrooms
Small amount of shallots, green part only, chopped
Half bunch of continental parsley, coarsly chopped
1 bunch of asparagus – woody part discarded, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 bunch of asparagus – cut to half the width of your quiche dish
Salt & pepper


In a large bowl, crack eggs and add milk – mix thoroughly with a whisk until well combined. 

Add grated cheese, mushrooms, sliced asparagus, shallots, feta sprinkle of salt and good amount of pepper to the bowl – give quick stir to combine.

Spray a quiche dish with non-stick cooking spray and empty contents of your bowl into the dish, spreading out the contents evenly. 

Arrange the long asparagus around the top of the dish so it looks something like this:

Bake in a 180 degree Celsius oven until a skewer comes out relatively clean and its nicely browned on top (about 40 mins).

Serve with whatever you like – we had it with a sweet potato and macadamia salad, and boiled potatoes with olive oil, vinegar, lemon and parsley.  (Note that I didn't follow the directions and had my oven too high for this one, hence it puffed up and my asparagus wheel broke apart!  But if you stick to the recipe, it should turn out beautifully... like my first one.... that I didn't photograph! d'oh!)

If you're not a fan of asparagus or feta, this is a really adaptable recipe too – you just throw in the eggs, milk and grated cheese with anything you like – I’ve made it lots of times with bacon, mushies and shallots, and also done different vegetables like sweet potato, zucchini and spinach.  You could also do tuna, peas and mint…. Possibilities are endless!  Let me know if you give it a try.

Bye for now :)