Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Basic Scones

I stumbled on this easy-peasy recipe for scones yesterday. I was in a bit of a bind, with no sweet treats in the house and my brother and sister-in-law popping over mid-afternoon. All of my family love a good cuppa and a nice bikkie or piece of cake to accompany it. And I, love to bake a nice accompaniment. Match made in heaven. These were thrown together in under forty five minutes (including whipping of the cream). I haven't baked scones in a while, so was a little unsure how they would turn out. But this recipe is a winner. Not wanting to have too many scones leftover, I halved the ingredients, which gave a sweet batch of eight. Perfect amount for afternoon tea... and a couple of leftovers for Scott
Tasty Tip: Add a handful of icing sugar and a dash of vanilla extract when whipping the cream... delicious!

Basic Scones 
(super simple)

plain flour, for dusting
3 cups self-raising flour
80g butter, cubed
1 cup milk
jam & whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced)
Lightly dust a baking tray with plain flour
Sift self-raising flour into a large bowl
Using fingertips, rub butter into flour until mixture resembles
Make a well in the centre
Add milk
Mix with a flat-bladed knife, until mixture forms a soft dough
Add more milk if required
Turn onto a lightly floured surface
Knead gently until smooth (do not over-knead as scones will become tough)
Cut scones as preferred (I just did mixed shapes of 2cm thickness)
Place scones on tray, 1cm apart
Sprinkle tops with a little plain flour
Bake 20-25 minutes
Transfer to wire rack
Serve with jam & cream

Sunday, August 26, 2012

When the day is long

I am reminding myself that the days are long, but the years are short, quite a lot of late. I am in a constant whirl of chores and to-do lists and mothering and trying to stay afloat. I want to make the most of this time I'm spending with both of my boys at home, because I know for sure I'll look back and regret it, if I don't. So I'm gradually putting little systems in place, trying to mix things up and not sweat the small stuff as much. It's hard. But so very achievable when I try.

A date by the harbour on Friday morning was just the ticket to burn some of that endless energy they both seem to produce. They have been driving me somewhat batty of late and yet I still wouldn't choose to live life any differently. Constantly educating me, in their own beautiful ways. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Afternoon Room

The weeks are blurring together a bit at the moment. There are so many things happening and most days I find it difficult to keep up. So I just do what I can and work through each day. The tantrums, the arguing, the cuddles, the kisses... and everything else in between. I absolutely love catching the boys unawares lately. When they're on the lounge, or hanging out on their bunks or in the bath. I just stop and listen. For all the brutish brother behaviour, these two love each other... possibly more than anything else in the world. And I love that. 

In saying that, Angus is becoming increasingly independent. Looking to spread his wings further and further. There is an afternoon room at his preschool, it runs for an hour after the school day finishes. The reason most children go along is because their parents are working or otherwise engaged. Angus has been requesting to go to afternoon room for a while now and this week he tried it out for the first time. And loved it! It seems he cannot get enough of preschool, his friends, teachers and the learning environment. I am so happy with how at ease he is, in his little part of the world. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chocolate Freckle Slice

I'm in slice mode when it comes to baking at the moment. Probably because they are so quick and easy. This one almost floored me when I realised it called for a whole small jar of Nutella... so decadent. I'm not a fan of Nutella on bread, but in baking, looooove it. This cheery sweet will form part of a little care package I'm dropping off in the morning, for a brave and beautiful friend. Nothing like a bit of homemade comfort. 

Chocolate Freckle Slice

185g butter, softened
220g chocolate hazelnut spread
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups (250g) plain flour
200g freckles

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Grease 20cm x 30cm rectangular pan; 
line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over sides.
Beat butter, spread and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until combined.
Stir in sifted flour, in two batches.
Press dough into pan; smooth surface with spatula. Bake 25 minutes.
Remove pan from oven; working quickly, press freckles firmly onto slice
in rows about 2cm apart.
Cool slice in pan before cutting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I half expected a wildlife 'Zoo' located in the heart of the city might be a little average. And our visit to the one in Darling Harbour today confirmed it for me. The boys seemed to thoroughly enjoy the time we were there, but it left me feeling a tad downhearted. For the animals. Taronga Zoo used to have the same effect on me, pre the multi million dollar renovations. Wild animals crammed into confined spaces just doesn't seem right. So we shuffled and squeezed through each section. In the Zoo's defence, it is very nicely set up with the area they do have to work with.

As a result, not too many photos snapped during our visit. But I did manage to spy these stunning creations in the tropical enclosure, just after we stepped inside the gate. So precious and lovely, delicate and small. I was pretty stoked to actually capture such close ups before they flitter-fluttered away through their artificial home. 

Joining in with Faith Hope & a whole lotta Love for 'Snap It' and this week's topic of: Small. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Sometimes I feel like the crankiest, snappiest, bossiest Mama in the world. Lately, I've been feeling this way often. Last night, after I hustled the boys off to sleep, I beat myself up about the amount of yelling I'd done throughout the evening. But it's a case of me needing to realise that boys will be boys, kids will be kids and Mama's will be Mama's. That ALL parents yell and nag and get annoyed with their children. It's a really, really hard job. Today I witnessed a mother lovingly chatting and laughing with her toddler in one breath and in the next, frustratedly grabbing him and snapping in a harsh tone. It summed things up nicely for me. Because on any given day, that is me. For all the shouting and lecturing, there are dozens of loving and tender moments... just depends at what stage I look at it.

And then sometimes, it's all about the pretty. These things were making me smile today:

* My gorgeous new scarf, a thoughtful early birthday gift from a beautiful friend. Thank you, beautiful friend. 
* The latest Clinique 'gift time' collection... the deep comfort hand & cuticle cream is by far the best I've ever used.
* Three new Spring tops I purchased with a Myer gift voucher... this birdie design is my absolute favourite of the bunch.
* Annnd... Angus' jeans, post preschool. Apparently, Will did it. Whoever did it, I eventually chose to see the funny side and appreciate how pretty they look.

Monday, August 13, 2012


So it looks like we've reached that stage I have heard about, read about, but not yet experienced. My inquisitive and increasingly independent four and a half year old, needs school. It has gradually snuck up on me, but the last couple of months have proved I am battling to offer all he is craving. Week by week I feel as though I'm just treading water, to get by. I was sure this wouldn't be a problem for us. I always thought I'd have no troubles keeping one little boy captivated and entertained. But my word, does he like to keep busy. All. the. time.

And the activities Felix enjoys, often don't cut it either. Angus has informed me that "there are too many babies" at playgroup, where he loved going for almost four years. I'm partly excited by his enthusiasm and partly drained by the whole scenario. I wish I could organise another day of preschool each week or keep coming up with a constant string of fun, interactive, educational experiences for him. The truth is, he is just growing up and whilst Mama does her best, this little bird wants to fly. The countdown is on for big school. And whilst it will break my heart to watch him go, it will relieve me somewhat, to see him getting the stimulation he requires. 

Last week we went on tour and tried a new playgroup, with a friend. There were LOTS of babies... but enough new distractions to keep Angus amused. WIN!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Rum and Raisin Slice

I think the rainbow cake well and truly cured me of my baking persuasion for the last little while. Because I have had very little desire to get into any kind of baking since. But I knew something would have to break the drought and inspire me to get the oven cranking again. Something extra sweet and rich and super simple to whip up. So this delicious slice it was. I have a real taste for Rum and Raisin chocolate, always have. I love the Cadbury's Old Jamaica block and enjoy a good Rum and Raisin flavoured ice-cream too. Scott is also a big fan, so I don't see this one lasting too long. It got me thinking though, I wonder if it's a tad irresponsible to let my four year old scrape the bowl with a wooden spoon... when it's a rum infused sweet? Hmmm

Chocolate Rum and Raisin Slice

125g butter, chopped coarsely
200g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1 cup (170g) coarsely chopped raisins
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1 tablespoon dark rum (I used Bundaberg)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Grease 20cm x 30cm rectangular pan.
Stir butter, chocolate, sugar and raisins in medium saucepan over
low heat until chocolate is melted.
Cool to room temperature.
Stir remaining ingredients into chocolate mixture; spread mixture into pan.
Bake about 30 minutes; cool slice in pan before cutting.
Dust with icing sugar. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Good Looking Winter

The last few days have been an absolute pearler in old Sydney town. Each one better than the last. And with a return to arctic Winter temps due for the weekend, we have been soaking up the sunshine while it's here. Monday, Scott went to work for half of his day off, because he is just crazy busy at present (and working long long long hours), but he managed to get out in time to meet Felix and I for a lovely lunch and walk along the beach. Felix slept right through the meal, so we enjoyed a cheeky drink and I had the tastiest grilled snapper and pumpkin puree with pesto & roasted rosemary potatoes. Quite the step up from my usual salad roll weekdays. Scott having the afternoon off also meant being able to pick Angus up from preschool, for the very first time. Such a beautiful thing to see Angus' expression when Dad walked in.

Today, the boys and I hopped on a bus and met Nana at Circular Quay. We wandered and chatted and climbed structures we shouldn't... thank you Angus. Then had lunch on the grass in the Botanic Gardens. Sydney Harbour looked picture perfect under twenty two degree skies. The sun has been just what my senses required this week, with my thoughts and feelings a little scrambled. My gorgeous friend had her operation today and the long journey begins. But she knows we are all here waiting for her and she will have endless support over the coming months. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Natural Remedies

After feeling quite off colour this week, the last twenty four hours have provided a welcome change. Just the right dose of everything. Dinner with one of my bestie's last night, beautiful sun-filled play time with all of my boys and a couple of cheeky afternoon naps. I even managed to give the boys a long overdue haircut. Their fresh little cropped do's never fail to make me smile (and it's always such a relief that I don't need to battle them through the ordeal for another few months). Ah, the loveliest natural remedies. 

Friday, August 3, 2012


I need to chill out more. Like really, consciously, relax. It is funny how signs, so tiny and seemingly insignificant, can remind us that stress will manifest in all manner of forms. This week, I've had a crazy painful, on again-off again sensation in my front tooth. Similar to a raw nerve being struck. Until this started happening, I was unaware that I actually grind my teeth. And not just while sleeping. This strange nerve pain highlighted that fact for me. I seriously grit my teeth. When I'm worried or cranky or over-tired. And now I am aware of it, I have no excuse but to actually do something about it. 

So the last few days I've endeavoured to let things wash over me a little more. Not dwell on silly things or worry over things I cannot change or things that may never happen. Try to be more patient with the boys and not raise my voice as often. And just get out there, in the freezing cold, sun shiny days. Sitting on the ground of a fabulous park in the middle of Darling Harbour yesterday afternoon, was so very good for my soul. Felix napped in the stroller, while Angus ran up and slid down the giant slide, countless times. Screeching, laughing, having a blast, with a bunch of kids he'd only just met. Now that is well-being.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wiggly Wonder

It's been a while since we went on an adventure. And today, I was keen to take the boys somewhere they had not experienced before. So the Powerhouse Museum it was. We met up with Nana in the city, as she loves joining us on these excursions. Angus and Felix had not been swept up in The Wiggles phenomenon... until now. The museum are running the most fantastic exhibition, with interactive activities aplenty. Both boys were quite content to park themselves there for the day. And we humoured them, as they ran free for a couple of hours. Because observing the joy on their faces, actually also humoured us.

Among many memorable moments, some highlights were:
*Riding the big red car, in front of a giant movie screen... absolutely. mesmerised.
*Dorothy the Dinosaur's garden, where we made paper roses and held a tea party, while a massive Dorothy sat swinging and singing her lungs out.
*The distrusting looks Felix kept shooting in the direction of Dorothy on her swing... on reflection, she does look pretty scary, especially through the eyes of a two year old.
*Colouring in special messages to post in Wags the dog's bone letterbox.
*Cheeky giggles shared in Captain Feathersword's ship... they seriously melt my heart.
*Prepping fruit salad in the wiggly kitchen. 
*And... playing mechanic, servicing the big red car, with real working, noisy tools.

Followed up by lunch with Nana and a big play in the park, at Darling Harbour. Big day, big fun.