I can be little predicable when it comes to soup. Pumpkin is a family favourite, as is chicken or vegetable soup when there are sniffles in the household. Potato and leek is a regular go-to, as is tomato (with fond memories of childhood family lunches where the soup was mopped up with slices of freshly baked bread).
But a soup in a recent Woolworths (?) magazine caught my attention. Not only did it have one of my favourite ingredients (quinoa) it also included a packet of crunchy sprouts. Something I had never thought of including in a soup before!
The soup was flavoured with fennel and mustard seeds, along with garlic, ginger, turmeric and curry powder. Aside from the sprouts and quinoa, I also added zucchini, celery, carrot, tomatoes and capsicum. Served with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of coriander.
What a truly tasty and hearty meal this turned out to be! I loved the spiciness and the crunch of the sprouts, and we readily went back for seconds when our first bowls disappeared. A perfect little addition to our regular soup regime indeed.
Miss J is proving to be quite the fussy eater at the moment. She loves banana smoothies, but wont go anywhere near an actual banana. Apples and pears are eaten by the bucket load, but grapes and watermelon are nothing short of offensive. Pasta is a firm favourite, as are prawn dumplings (!), but getting her to try new things is generally difficult.
So when she came home from day-care boasting a new love for celery (!) and hummus – well that was a combination I could embrace with gusto!
Since then, I’ve been making a batch of regular ol’ hummus most weeks. Although, recently I thought I would be a little clever and sneak some veg in by adding roasted pumpkin.
Did it work? Not even close. She turned her nose up at the combination, preferring her usual hummus instead.
On the plus side, though, we now had ourselves a lovely recipe for an appetiser to contribute at a recent lunch with friends.
We topped the hummus with parsley, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and olive oil, and served it alongside toasted pita chips, cucumber and olives. Unlike Miss J, we loved the roasted pumpkin addition – and the chilli added a little extra zing!
But I guess it will be back to regular ol’ hummus for Miss J next week…
This year, Miss C asked for a Harry Potter themed party to celebrate her 7th birthday. She also asked to hold the party at a local games Arcade.
The choice of venue meant that we had limited options when it came to decorating, but that didn’t stop us from embracing the theme where we could. For what a great theme it was!
We set up the tables with Harry Potter plates and cups, and filled the table with chocolate crackles, jelly, fruit, juice and other party goodies. A Ferrero rocher golden snitch adjourned each plate, as well as the all-important birthday cake.
And with the help of Pinterest, the local craft store and several fun ‘arts and crafts’ afternoons – we created party bags for the guests that were jammed packed with all things “Harry Potter”!
Let’s take a look inside, shall we?
I found some awesome Harry Potter cups on e-bay, along with heavily-discounted fidget spinners at the local cheapie-store (remember when fidget spinners were a thing?! I never understood the hype…)
We made our very own spell books using these printables, glued into little notebooks we picked up at Kmart.
And of course we couldn’t resist including a selection of Harry Potter sweet treats. A chocolate frog, a dementor-attack chocolate bar, jelly slugs, fizzing whizbees, dragon hearts and Bertie-Bott’s every flavour beans.
All together now!
And after we sent each little wizard home with their own Harry Potter party bag – I was told that many of them were casting spells late into the night.
When catching up with some friends the other day, the subject turned to food. More specifically, kids and food. And just how much the little ones can put away.
There were furious nods of agreement when we mentioned that a loaf of bread can disappear in a single afternoon. When only going through 8 litres of milk in a week is considered a ‘good’ week. And when the “I’m hungry” calls start from the moment they arrive home from school.
And while my three girls are no different, I feel as if I’ve gotten off a little more lightly (at least for now) than my friend who has the voracious appetites of three teenage boys to deal with.
We then reminisced about the great banana crisis of 2011, when Cyclone Yasi destroyed over 75% of Australia’s banana crops. Bananas were in such short supply that it was not unusual to see them selling for $3 each! The community was outraged and anyone that walked into work with a coveted banana had their salary questioned!
The irony being that we generally do not hesitate to fork over at least that amount for a single avocado.
$3 for a banana? Outrageous!! $3 for an avocado? Bargain – give me 2!
I had to laugh, for I am most certainly someone that loves avocadoes and they feature quite regularly on our weekly meal plan.
Take this BLAT salad, for instance. Which was thrown together for an easy, speedy weeknight dinner.
Bacon, crunchy lettuce, boiled egg, tomatoes, sauerkraut and cucumber. And, of course, avocado. Which in this case was sprinkled with black chia seeds.
From memory, the avocado was “on sale” for $2.50 and, thinking it was a bargain, I of course grabbed two! Questionable frugality aside, it was a lovely addition to this tasty little salad.
You can find the recipe I used for inspiration here.
I, for one, feel as if this week disappeared in the blink of an eye. I guess being well and truly back in the regular school / activities / sport routine had something to do with it. And the kids’ lack of willingness to get up this morning certainly signalled that we had arrived at the end of the school week.
But they are most excited about the weekend! We have gymnastics and school shoe shopping on the agenda tomorrow morning, and have friends coming for dinner tomorrow night. Hopefully we can fit in a family hike on Sunday, or at least something outdoors to make the most of the lingering warm weather.
But tonight – Friday night! We have an impromptu family catch-up to watch the Brumbies and enjoy a nice dinner together. And, well for no other reason than it is Friday, I suspect a cocktail might make an appearance.
Something like this perhaps?
A pomegranate margarita – that we served at a family dinner a little while ago when Mexican was on the menu and margaritas seemed to be a fitting accompaniment. Made simply with tequila, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, lime cordial and water – served over ice with fresh lime wedges.
And because I didn’t want to be stuck making individual drinks all evening, I made a big jug in advance and kept it in the fridge until it was time to serve.
Tequila is by no means my favourite (thanks, most likely, to overindulging when was 18) but combined with the pomegranate juice and water – the result was a very ‘easy’ cocktail to drink.
And just like that, our Summer of fun has come to an end. The school shirts are hanging front and centre in the cupboard, new shoes are being broken in, and the notes (oh the notes) are coming home each day.
Back to school also sees the never-ending question of what to pack for lunch. Most days the girls are happy with a sandwich or wrap, or perhaps some leftover pasta, padded out with a selection of fruit, vegetables (and J’s latest favourite – hummus). Actually not a lot has changed in terms of what I send since my last lunch box round-up when C was in kindy.
But I do like to do a little baking each week to add some variety to their afternoon tea, at least.
A favourite? These milo bliss balls – made simply with toasted coconut, brown rice puffs and sunflower seeds, blended together with dates, milo, chia seeds and a little water.
And then the fun started (well for J at least) as we rolled the mixture into balls and dipped them into a little more milo.
(I, on the other hand,*may* not have had as much fun when cleaning stray milo from various nooks and crannies for the next hour…)
But although they proved a little messy to make (when assisted by a certain 4 year old, that is) they were a huge hit in the lunchboxes last week. Not to mention being a rather tasty afternoon tea treat for the grown-ups too!
And just like that, our little Josephine is not so little. She turned 4 this week and, because I really can’t help myself when it comes to kids parties, we threw her a big birthday bash!
Her chosen theme was “Frozen” – for she is pretty much obsessed with the movie at the moment. I’m not sure whether it is the sister storyline, the silly Olaf antics or the fact that her favourite colour is blue (or perhaps that she shares Elsa’s hair colour) – but there was no doubt in her mind that Frozen would be the theme. No doubt. At all.
So her wish was my command! Blue, blue and more blue, with lots of snowflakes and sparkles – which was rather funny given that it was a hot and sunny 35C day outside.
I opted for food that I could largely make ahead. We had muffins, fruit, Sven’s snacks (hummus cups with vegetable dippers), rice bubble slice, snowflake cookies, sandwiches and floating Olaf jelly cups. Not to mention the usual array of chips and lollies, and some homemade sausage rolls.
To drink – we offered apple juice, lemonade (coloured with a little blue food colouring) and bottles of “melted snowman”. Josie was positively horrified when she saw the kids drinking the water bottles though, exclaiming on more than one occasion “noooooo! ewwwww you are drinking Olaf!!!!!”.
Another year on and J is still not a fan of eating cake – but she is certainly still a huge fan of the ritual that comes with a birthday cake. The colour, the candles, the song – she loves it!
I kept things pretty simple this year (aka I cheated) – covering some pre-made mudcakes with Nutella frosting, and using white chocolate wafers as a border. Topped with blue sprinkles and some fondant snowflakes, along with a custom topper, and you’d never know that it took no time at all to put together.
And yes, the birthday girl was suitably impressed!
As we had around 16 little ones to keep entertained, ranging in age from 7 months to 10 years, I left the entertainment to the professionals – and I am so glad that I did. Lucy Sparkles and Friends sent both Elsa AND Anna – who had the kids utterly captivated with their singing, dancing and games .
I can never resist sending our little guests home with a treat to thank them for coming. I found some great snowflake boxes online, which Charlotte and Josie had a great time helping me fill with an array of treats.
And before we knew it, it was time for our little “Elsa” to say goodbye to her friends (and start to recover from her sugar high). Safe to say she had a truly wonderful day!
And I’m left wondering – just how is it that she is FOUR already?!
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I am not all that into new year resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the freshness that a new year brings. I love having the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the moments we treasured, and also the areas of our life that we could have invested more time in. But rather than set ourselves small tangible goals, I prefer to think about some words that we can focus on during the year ahead.
And this year is no different. Three words, three focuses for our little family.
Adventure. I think this one goes without saying. For when I look back at the year that was, it is the adventures that we took that make me really smile. Holidays, beach days, bike riding, hikes, museum visits…you name it. Getting out of the house and sharing the world with the kids is something that I find so fulfilling, and I just know that they love it too! So this year, our quest for adventure continues! I’ve got a few big plans in mind, and lots of other little things too…
Knowledge. When I was younger, I had voracious appetite for books, writing and learning. I don’t know what happened, perhaps it is the inevitable fatigue that comes with having 3 young kids (?), but I could count the books that I have read in the last 6 years on one hand. It’s sad really. So this year I want to find more time to read, to watch documentaries, and to learn.
Kindness. Over the last year or so, we have trialled various pocket money ideas – but none have really sat right with me. For it seemed as though I was forking out money for jobs the kids should really have been doing anyway – and the cash would just be spent on some trinket that would be lost or forgotten in a manner of days. Or hours. This year we are doing things a little differently. Inspired by the Barefoot Investor, the girls have kindness jars. When we observe them engaging in an act of kindness, they will get a coin to put in one of the jars – with a choice that it can be to spend, to save or to give. I think it will nice for them to see their efforts over the year, and to decide where their collections will ultimately be put towards.
So there you have it! Our family words for 2019! What are your words for the new year?
This year, we actually were awake at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We had spent the afternoon at our friends’ place swimming in their pool and watching all the kids have a ball. Champagne was drunk, great food was eaten and many laughs were had.
But for me the evening wasn’t just about celebrating the start of a new year, but also about remembering what a wonderful year we had just had. For while many people seemed to be wishing away the year that was, on reflection, we had a pretty amazing year. Sure – there were the usual ‘stresses’ associated with a busy work and home life, a seemingly never-ending Winter and lots of other little challenges thrown in along the way, but for the most part we had a lot of fun. Good health, lots of adventures and so many wonderful memories made. Not to mention a little baby that turned into a toddler before our very eyes!
In January we had found ourselves with a little extra time before I headed back to work and the kids headed back to school. So we headed off on a “girls” road trip to Melbourne to catch up with my family and share cuddles with my newest niece.
February was all about Miss J – who turned 3! We celebrated with a Fairy themed party and a lot of fun was had by all. Then Miss C started grade 1 the following week and I returned to work part time.
March was all about Miss C who turned 6 (how did that happen?). We planned on throwing her a small afternoon tea with a couple of friends, but this somehow turned into a larger gathering with 12 energetic and spirited 6 year old girls bouncing around our house! We finished off the month with a less loud, but definitely delicious, annual Good Friday seafood feast.
April started with a “bang” as we had 4 extra adults and 2 extra kids staying with us for Easter. Yes my family arrived into town – and the cousins had an absolute ball. Easter Sunday was filled with egg hunts, a hearty roast lunch and the Inaugural Easter Olympics! We finished off the month by heading to Thredbo with friends for a late-season mountain bike weekend – where lots of biking, chairlift rides and hot chocolates ensued.
May proved to be a busy month too. I headed to Sydney for a work conference, then headed down to Narooma for a weekend at the beach with my Dad. Mother’s Day was celebrated somewhere in there too!
In June we opted to escape the Canberra cold and tagged along with the hubs to his work conference on the Gold Coast. While he did his work ‘thing’, the girls and I explored the theme parks – loving the warmer weather. We also had a lot of fun throwing a rainbow themed baby shower for my niece when we returned!
And just like that, we found ourselves in July and little Miss M turned ONE!! We celebrated with a Teddy Bear’s Picnic – and the cake smash was a hit. We again escaped the Canberra cold shortly thereafter, heading to Fiji for a family vacation.
Our August was a little more low-key, as we returned from our trip away and settled back in to the work / school routine. I did, however, sneak a few outings with my Mum (who came to live with us for 5 months) – including a wine tasting afternoon and a trip to the Theatre.
In September we celebrated our ‘main men’ for Father’s Day. The girls loved making cards and a special breakfast in bed – after which we got together with family for an Island-inspired lunch.
In October I headed down to Melbourne (sans kids) for a 20-year reunion with my friends from high school (surely I am not that old, right?!). The girls and I also had a great time at Floriade – taking a ride on the ferris wheel and running amok amongst the gorgeous blooms. We finished the month with a Halloween party with friends, and had a lot of fun picking our costumes for the occasion and making some ‘spooky’ treats.
In November we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary – with a lovely degustation dinner at Aubergine. We then threw our parents a surprise gold wedding anniversary lunch – at the beautiful Piallago Estate. Miss C also had her ballet concert – and simply shone on stage!
December was, as is to be expected, all about Christmas!! There were carols, Christmas parties, tree decorating and carols of repeat. All leading up to the big day that was filled with great company and great food. It really is a magical time of year when kids are involved!
So, yes, 2018 was rather wonderful indeed! And here’s to an even bigger, brighter and better 2019!!
Each year feels just that little bit more special at Christmas time. The two bigger girls, in particular, are definitely at an age where they revel in the magic that comes with the festive season, embracing even the smallest gestures. From singing Christmas carols and decorating the tree, to writing letter after letter to Santa and his elves, the excitement builds as we progress through December.
It was a ‘Canberra’ year for Christmas this year, and we had relatively few plans in the lead up to the big day. We headed to the carols with friends the week before, and had an obligatory Santa photo. We also visited our neighbour’s front yard on multiple occasions after the girls’ evening bath – which was adorned with a multitude of lights and other decorations.
Christmas Eve was spent as a family. We played games in the backyard (loving the warmer weather!) and baked cookies – and it was barely past midday before the girls begged to get into their Christmas pyjamas. Carrots were laid out, as was a snack for Santa, and I must say I was a little surprised that the girls crawled into their beds and fell asleep with relatively minimal fuss.
The household was awake by 6am on Christmas morning – although we are generally early risers so this was not unusual. The girls were elated to see that their ‘wish lists’ had been fulfilled – with a new scooter and ukulele for C, a kids camera and baby doll for J and a balance bike for M. The room was filled with excited squeals and an abundance of discarded wrapping paper not long after.
A really lovely part of the day was that we had lots of time. We weren’t due for Christmas lunch / dinner at our Niece’s place until mid-afternoon – meaning that we could spend the morning lazing around – watching the girls playing with their new toys, sipping on cups of coffee. We even headed out for a walk around the lake, before tucking M in for her midday nap.
The afternoon was also rather wonderful. A beautiful lunch / dinner courtesy of our Niece, with all the usual trimmings. Prawns, pork, turkey, ham, roast vegetables – you name it – we had it! The weather was hot, so an afternoon water balloon fight seemed inevitable – which I think was as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids!
Overall it was a beautifully relaxing Christmas season – filled with great food and wonderful company.