Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day On

Two thousand and eleven, my, where did it go?! I am certain this has been the fastest year on record for me. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting old or maybe being a Mama of two boys is more time consuming than I even realise or maybe my love of blogging, reading and writing has opened my eyes to many new and wonderful things... all of which seem to make the days (and the nights) fly by that much quicker. Whatever it might be, I do hope two thousand and twelve pulls up somewhat. Because not only would I enjoy a slower pace to life, but I'd also like to savour every. precious. moment with my boys, who seem to be growing up so rapidly, before my very eyes.

Thursday was 'day on' in our day on/day off approach to the holiday period. We spent a glorious Summer's day celebrating a very special little fellow's 5th birthday. Days like these could not get any better. The friendship and laughter, fun and relaxation. Beautiful memories I'll always hold close to my heart. We are lucky campers indeed, to have such wonderful people in our lives. The boys had a tremendous day and were SO ready for bedtime when it rolled around. Another 'day on' down, a couple more to go. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the kind people 
who have visited my blog over the past year. 
Your wisdom, strength and support has been quite remarkable. 
I feel ever so privileged to have met a few of you, 
connected with many of you and been inspired by all of you. 
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the lovely 
comments and words of sincerity... each and every 
one honestly makes me smile.
Happy New Year to all of you, may 2012 bring much peace, 
love and happiness to your homes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taking it easy

One of the many things I love about this time of year, are the opportunities it presents for catch-ups. Friends and family from near and far, coming together, enjoying and relaxing, reminiscing and memory making. This almost dreamlike period between Christmas and New Year has the same constant feel year after year and it's comforting how everyone seems to surrender to it. While the pace is slower and the schedule somewhat more relaxed... for the littlies, it is still very much action stations. So day on, day off, seems to work the best for us.

Yesterday, was day on. Visiting Nana and Pop, exploring and frolicking and running amok in their huge backyard. Spending a few fun-filled hours in the afternoon, with our wonderful friends. We don't get to see them near as often as we'd like, due to our geographical distance. Yet much like this time of year, catching up with this family has that same constant, satisfying feel. Just. like. home. It fills my heart and soul with a rich sense of contentment, watching our children play. I would love nothing more than to see their bonds grow and carry them into adulthood. Like their Mama and I have been lucky enough to do, since kindergarten. Tomorrow will be day on again, but after taking it nice and easy today, hopefully we'll be ready for it

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mini Baked Cheesecakes

At 5pm, on Christmas Eve, my relaxed approach to list making over the festive period finally caught up with me. All set to make a nice big batch of gingerbread... and not a skerrick of golden syrup to be found. In my experience, if I am ever going to be out of a key ingredient, it will be when there is not the slightest opportunity to duck out and pick up more supplies. In a mild panic, I racked brain and recipe book, to source a yummy alternative for what was to be my third and final sweet to take along on Christmas Day.

In the back of my mind I knew a healthy supply of Philly related products were in the fridge, from the lovely giveaway I received days earlier. Cheesecake was the obvious choice. But then, the discovery of NO plain sweet biscuits in the cupboard. As always, lateral thinking got me back on track, when I realised the perfect recipe for a cheesecake base was right under my nose. So I whipped out the caramel slice recipe from last week and started on the base. Recipe for the filling came from this website, as did the decorative inspiration. And the Mini Baked Cheesecakes, with fresh fruit, were an absolute smash hit. A simple, sumptuous, yet effective, dessert treat.

Mini Baked Cheesecakes

3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
125g melted butter

250g Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Line two 12 hole muffin pans, with patty cases
Combine coconut, flour, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and mix well
Place patty cases in 12 hole muffin pan
Press mixture into muffin pan and bake for 10 minutes

Use an electric beater to beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until light & creamy
Beat in the eggs, one at a time
Press base mixture into patty cases and bake for 10 minutes
Allow to cool before adding cream cheese mixture
Top biscuit base with cream cheese mixture
Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly risen and just beginning to crack a little on surface
Set aside in pan for 10 minutes, before placing on a wire rack to cool completely
Top with fresh berries and dust with icing sugar

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wrap up

There goes Christmas, for another year... and I can finally breathe again. For now. We were graced with a long awaited glorious Summer's day, in the form of blue, sun shiny skies. Perfect timing. For the first time, Angus truly absorbed the magic of the day and his excitement was infectious. Shrieks of delight, squeals of joy and declarations of gratitude. Each new gift unwrapped, instantly proclaimed the favourite. Felix, a little less affected by the merriment, remained content to take a back seat and let his big bro lead the way. Being the babies of both families, the boys were a huge hit with their aunties and uncles and cousins and grandparents. Everyone keen to soak up some of their youthful wonder and enthusiasm.

Though one thing that continues to concern me with Christmas (and it seems to become more and more absurd each year), are the multitude of toys received. The sheer volume of brand spanking new, whizz-bang toys that now reside in our home does make me feel slightly uneasy. I do get it, because I love nothing more than buying things for all the little people in our lives also. And I do remember having oodles of toys and nik naks myself, as a child. Thankfully, we are modest gift buyer's and don't go overboard by any stretch ourselves. Because judging by the lack of floor and storage space at our place, post Christmas, we may not physically fit in, if not so prudent. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This Christmas, I have elected to be on sweets duty, as our contribution to take along to my lovely brother and sister-in-law's place. They have kindly offered to host Christmas lunch in their beautiful home and they certainly know how to provide a scrumptious spread. Because my sister-in-law is a self-confessed 'no sweets maker', she was only too delighted when I put my hand up to be in charge of that role.

Without going overboard, I decided on three different sweets. My all time favourite specialty for the festive season, Rocky Road. Due to a last minute realisation that I did not have a drop of golden syrup in the house (to whip up a batch of gingerbread shapes, Oops!), Mini Cheesecakes with fruit atop (recipe to follow) were my next alternative. And a brand new attempt for me, Truffles. I LOVE truffles, always a sucker for them, but never game enough to try them. So like most of my recipes, I took this one straight from The Women's Weekly 'Cook' book and these little balls of flavour are so SO simple to make and every bit as tasty as they look. Big. fat. YUM!


Chocolate & Peppermint

Melt 200g milk or dark chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a small saucepan
Stir in two chopped crispy peppermint bars 
(Nestle Aero or Cadbury Bubbly)
Refrigerate overnight
Roll mixture into balls
Coat in cocoa powder

White Chocolate & Pistachio

Melt 300g white chocolate and 1/3 cup cream in a saucepan
Stir over low heat until smooth
Refrigerate overnight
Roll mixture into balls
Roll in 3/4 cup chopped pistachios
(I aslo made a few coated in chopped almonds, for a snowball effect)

Merry Christmas to all my gorgeous readers, hope you all have a wondrous, peaceful and totally indulgent day tomorrow, feasting and drinking with family and/or friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Silent Night

This week my hectic-meter has been running at the high end of extreme. The festive season is in full swing and I'm really feeling it. Feeling the joy, the spirit, the excitement and the togetherness. But also feeling the stress, the expectation, the rush and the exhaustion. Like the lead up to Christmas is one big, deep, breath and only once it has been and gone, will I then be able to exhale. So much to do, so few hours in the day. This blog post is a prime example. Commenced last night, as I sat bleary-eyed on the lounge... three. hours. later. at 2am, I woke. Still sitting upright, laptop on lap, television buzzing.

I am feeling very fortunate for many things right now. Spending time with family, pre-Christmas Day, because for various reasons we won't be seeing them on the 25th. Rowdy play dates with friends, who also have boys... and watching those boys play and laugh and rumble together. Friends certainly enhance the joy of Christmas and I can't wait to enjoy more quality time with them over the coming week. But right now, all I really need, is to sleep in heavenly peace.

Cheeky Cousins... hanging around like monkey's in Nana & Pop's tree

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Philadelphia Freedom & Giveaway

There are moments in life when I have to pinch myself, real hard. Because at times, I wouldn't believe the experience before me, without a short sharp shock to the senses. Today, standing in Louise Fulton Keats' lounge room, I felt so privileged for the wonderful opportunity I was participating in. Louise is the granddaughter of cookbook legend (and one of my cooking idols) Margaret Fulton. Louise, a talented cook and author of the beautiful children's book 'My Grandma's Kitchen', opened her home to myself, my boys and a collection of other lucky bloggers. Then, went on to share some absolutely divine recipes, using one of my baking favourites, Philadelphia cream cheese. Oh, this invite had my name written all over it.

Louise's passion for good food and healthy options when it comes to preparing snacks and meals for children, is so very evident in the recipes she shared with us. All amazingly simple, yet exceptionally tasty and filled with the kind of ingredients we can happily gobble more of... without the guilt. Sonia from Love, Life & Hiccups offered up two of her gorgeous boys as assistants in the preparation of carrot cupcakes, which was a treat to watch. In fact, the whole morning was a treat for the kidlets, who were welcomed with open arms and made to feel so at home the entire time we were there.

My personal highlights for the day though, firstly, meeting the incredible Margaret Fulton herself. My, I was just a wee bit in awe of this lovely lady. We even shared a hug and a couple of photos that I will treasure forever. With Louise, her Mum and her grandma present, it felt quite the family affair. Secondly, tasting a piece of Margaret's mouthwatering Bistro Cheesecake, also created a lifelong memory for me. So spectacular, it needs to be seen and tried to be believed. And finally, meeting a special group of friendly, funny, inspiring women. Such an enriching morning to be a part of and I am ever so grateful to Louise and Kraft Philadelphia for the invitation and making it all possible.

But the most exciting part I've left to the end. I have five Philadelphia prize packs to offer five of my delightful followers. Each contains a copy of 'Simply Heaven Volume 2... another 75 reasons to use PhiladelphiaAND a $7.00 Woolworths gift card... which just so happens to be enough for two philly products.

To win one of the five packs:
  • Please leave a comment on this post sharing your favourite recipe/use for Philly cream cheese or related Philadelphia products
  • The five best will be chosen by yours truly to win a pack
  • Offer available to new and old followers
  • Only Australian residents may enter... apologies to my overseas contingent
  • Winners will be drawn and announced on Friday 30th December

I also took home some Philadelphia goodies; 'Simply Heaven Vol 2... another 75 reasons to use Philadelphia' AND a signed personalised copy of 'My Grandma's Kitchen' by Louise Fulton Keats, for my boys. I cannot. wait. to sink my teeth into some of those delightful recipes from both books and no doubt share them right here. Thank you Louise, Peta, Margaret and everyone involved with today.

Caramel Slice: MO2B style

One of my all time favourite sweet treats is the caramel slice. For the great many gobbled up over the years, I've never actually tried my hand at baking it myself. So I finally decided to take the plunge and whip up a slab. From the large number of recipe variations I found, the overriding similarity was how straightforward the slice is to make. For this reason, I had fairly high hopes for a successful first attempt.

I wanted to incorporate the elements of two recipes I found and further tweak a few things from each, for my version of this classic treat. Therefore, I've affectionately dubbed this adaptation: Caramel Slice MO2B style. And it all would have worked so well... if I'd of just used a lamington tin (as instructed), instead of a larger, deeper one. As a result, the thick, soft, luscious layer I'd envisaged, was more a thin, slightly overcooked, very overstretched strip of caramel. Though initial disappointment was quickly replaced with a sense of achievement and satisfaction, when both Angus and Scott buzzed around my little squares, for second... and third helpings. The only approval I really need.

Caramel Slice: MO2B Style

3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
125g melted butter


1 x 400g tin condensed milk
30g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup


200g dark/and or milk eating chocolate
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a lamington tin with baking paper
Combine coconut, flour and sugar in a medium bowl and add melted butter
Stir until well combined and then press into prepared tray and bake for 15 mins
Combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan 
and stir over medium heat until boiling
Lower heat and continue stirring for 5 mins
Remove from heat and spread over biscuit base
Bake for a further 10 mins
Remove and allow to cool
Melt chocolate and vegetable oil in heat proof jug, over saucepan with simmering water
Spread evenly over caramel filling and place in fridge to set
Cut into desired pieces once set

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spreading Christmas Cheer

Much excitement (and a few tears) before bedtime tonight. As my two little elves assisted in the draw of the Christmas Cheer giveaway. At the best of times this kind of exercise can be fractious and at the end of a long day, drama is inevitable. Something about a small bowl filled with bits of paper sends the boys into a frenzy. But they were both so pleased with themselves when they picked the winners.

So first up, the winner of pack number one, is Lioness Lady! The cheesy smile says it all, we were very happy. Next up, winner of pack number two, is Pink Patent Mary Janes! Once again, over the moon with this result. Please email your details ladies and I'll pop your winnings into the post asap. Thank you to all the lovely entrants, I do wish I had something to give to every one of you, but as I am now addicted to running these giveaways, it shouldn't be too long before there is another. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011


As a child, waiting for Christmas or birthdays or any type of special occasion to arrive, was torture. The old adage of patience being a virtue, was most definitely lost on me. I'd actually forgotten just how restless I became around these times, until today. My highly spirited, ultra excitable and incredibly eager first born, displayed some alarmingly similar traits, to those of his Mama's at the same age. At the best of times, he is keen to be up and at em from the moment he wakes. Enquiring on the day's events, before they have begun. "Where are we going today Mama?", always the most likely first words uttered.

Today, we had a 4th birthday party for one of his little mates. Isaac and Angus have known each other since 6 months of age, though this year has seen their friendship flourish the greatest. They are gorgeous to watch together. Like a couple of peas in a pod. So needless to say the 2.30pm start time, left a number of hours wide open for detailed questioning and continuous whinging and frustrated complaining and then questioning some more. Angus so keen to get to the party, he attempted to change the sequential order of time, to make that party arrive sooner. And it came and went and he was as happy as a piggy in mud, with his afternoon in the sunshine, running and playing and shaking off the impatience of youth.


In years gone by, my Christmas shopping list would be a mile long. 6 brothers, 5 sister-in-laws, 16 nieces and nephews, Mama and Dad, plus my friends. Gifts for all of them. Methodical planning and careful selection for each one. But that was back in the day, before I had children, when I was able to buy for everyone and take my sweet time in doing it. These days, my approach to the madness that is, shopping during the festive season, is a tad more unorthodox. 

This year, for the first time, I made no lists. No referencing, no cross checking, no preconceived ideas of what to buy and who to buy it for. Just a number of random purchases, over a handful of trips to the shops. This approach could well catch me out yet. No doubt I have doubled up on pressies for certain people or purchased too many girly style gifts and failed to cater sufficiently for the males (or vice versa) or forgotten someone entirely(?) Of course, this only adds to the energy and excitement of the season. And seeing those bags brimming with treasures, ready to be wrapped... I think I am finally getting EXCITED

Browsing, testing, finding and choosing. It's been so much fun selecting bits and pieces from here, there and everywhere (along with the odd present for myself). And the last two days I've shared the experience with my lovely assistant reindeer Felix. While Angus was busily creating and constructing a festive array of pictures, decorations and keepsakes at preschool, we were busily taking on the crowds, in the hope that by next week, we won't need to set a foot amongst the last minute chaos.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Gingerbread

It always makes me smile (with wry cynicism), when the quarterly water/electricity bills arrive. Bright, cheery leaflets slipped in, filled with positive quips and tips. How to be 'energy wise' and 'water smart' and the like. Colourful pictures of dandelions and happy families, crystal clear H2O and children splashing in the sunshine. Ahhh, warm and fuzzy. But then, the actual bill pops out and... that is reality. Yesterday, a bill for the current quarter arrived. Wonderful how the due date of December 23 seems to strategically coincide with Christmas... happens every year. But the Spring issue of 'Energywise' finally offered something useful to me. An enticing recipe for a festive treat I've been eager to try.

I LOVE gingerbread. Gingerbread men/women/children and those splendid houses, all lolly laden and picture perfect. I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was to achieve a delicious tasting gingerbread AND icing. I used my Christmas cookie/chocolate mould tin for the first time, which turned out lovely chunky shapes. It appears Felix is also a huge fan of the stuff... Angus, not so much. And now I'm itching to take it up a notch and try my hand at a gingerbread house. Adriano Zumbo style. Small steps, Mama. Small steps

Christmas Gingerbread

125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup golden syrup
1 egg
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Royal Icing

1 1/2-2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan
Heat slowly, stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves
Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, beat in egg
Gradually mix in sifted flours, ginger and cinnamon
Form into a ball, cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
I used the cookie/chocolate moulds at this point, pressing mixture firmly into each shape
However, dough can also be used by rolling to 3mm thickness, then cutting into desired shapes
Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 10 minutes or until cooked
Allow to cool on trays

For royal icing, gradually beat icing sugar into egg white
Add lemon juice, beat to a smooth light mixture 
which will stand in fine peaks when drawn up with a spoon
(I like my icing, so I covered the entire backs of my 
Chrissy shapes... quick & easy... icing may also be piped on for a more 'delicate' look!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Cheer Giveaway

So the weather around here is nothing short of abysmal. Quite the disappointment for a Summer loving gal like myself. Cold and muggy, never a good combo. Dampness everywhere. Soggy, limp towels that don't get the chance to dry between uses. Nothing nicer than a warm, crisp towel. Normally one of the benefits of the hot season. Not here... not now... not this Summer. I get the distinct feeling I may need to become accustomed to such dreary occurrences during the months ahead. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

I've been busily shopping at every opportunity for the past couple of weeks. Finding pretty nik naks and useful doodads for family and friends... and the odd little something for yours truly. Since my blogoversary giveaway, I've been keen to run another and realised I have the perfect opportunity right now. Spreading a spot of Christmas cheer to the lovely followers of Mama of 2 boys... once more for 2011. With that brainwave, two packs have been created. Each containing a handful of items similar (or the same in some cases) as purchases made this festive season. I seriously LOVE this giveaway business. (I also love when a selection of favourite stores have pre-Christmas sales... thanking you Kikki K, My House and Typo).

Pack 1 - Bugs, butterflies & blooms purse; Pretty pink flowers magnet; Kikki K Today/Tomorrow post it notes; Kikki K strawberry ballpoint pen; Calvin Klein 15ml 'Forbidden Euphoria' Eau de Parfum spray... this actually came free with a few fragrances I purchased as Chrissy presents... and it smells so lovely, I thought it would be perfect with these other girly treats.

Pack 2 - 2012 Typo desk calendar 'Paris'; Typo 'Keep calm...' magnet; My House Set of 3 Christmas tea towels (personally I can never have too many of these); Kikki K Recipe Adhesive Notes... absolutely fabulous for marking the pages of all those favourite recipes, to ensure they won't be forgotten. Simple but clever idea and they come in so handy.

      Terms & Conditions:

  • All followers new and old who leave a comment on this post will go in the running to win one of the two packs (previous winners are still eligible to enter)
  • Only available to Australian residents (sorry my overseas followers)
  • Entries close next Sunday 18th December at 5pm. Two winners will be drawn and announced in Sunday's post. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Wonder

Exhausted, weary, fatigued, sleepy-heads. All four of us. The tell tale signs of a wonderful, fun-filled weekend. These beautiful times, of seeing our boys sharing in celebrations, creating special memories, having the time of their lives. With their friends... the children of our friends. Few things else make me happier. The love and fondness I have for these children, so strong and real. It's an honour to be a part of their precious lives and milestones, as each year flashes by before our eyes.

Saturday, we attended a 4th birthday party, for the son of a friend I've known for fifteen years. A gorgeous family, who honestly feel like an extension of my own. Such joy and comfort in friendships such as these. I know that whatever happens over time, these bonds will be tight. Angus and Felix had an incredible day, at the Star Wars themed party. Sweaty brows and hair plastered to hot foreheads. So much excitement and wonder and enjoyment... especially when the birthday boy's Dad showed up by surprise, dressed in character as a baddie from the epic movie. A few of the kidlets fooled by the scary mask and getup as they ran shrieking and squealing around the backyard.

Saturday night, a friend and I hit the city, for a dinner to celebrate the season, at the exquisite Baia on Cockle Bay Wharf. Great food and lovely company, complete with a spectacular fireworks display. We liked to imagine it was organised just for us, but more than likely it was something to do with Christmas festivities. Either way, the scene was a sight to behold over a scrumptious meal. Then another brilliant day today, lunch and laughs with one of the nicest families we know (Hi Jen!). Get together's with this crew are always just plain tops. Watching our four adorable children so convivial and at ease with each other, warmed my heart. This entire weekend, warmed my heart. 

(All pics taken by my uber talented photographer friend Kell... 
because my dodgy 'fill in' camera just isn't cutting it for quality photos in comparison)