Our Backyard has been landscaped.

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My first flower in my new garden!

It’s been almost 9 months since we moved into our new home and we are finally starting to see our environment come together.  It has been a dream of mine to start a veggie garden for a good couple of years now and this is now finally coming together.  I feel like I’m following in my Mothers footsteps (she finds it very amusing I might add!), back on the farm we had a huge veggie patch and a large beautiful garden.  I’m finding as I’m getting older I’m also craving the things I had around me as a child.  It’s a little hard to re-create that on a suburban block…but at least it will be a scaled back version!

So in our small backyard we have a veggie garden…

Veggie Garden

A place for the trampoline…

Kids play area

And a place for lawn and pretty flowers…

Lawn and garden

It has all come together very nicely.  And come early next year we will add decking so we can have a nice area to sit outside and enjoy it all.

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Curtains … finally!

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I’ve been putting it off and putting it off for so long, but I finally got a nudge along (thanks Tania!) to get my butt into gear and make the curtains for the dining/family room.  I’d been putting off for so long as it is such a big window and I would need so much material that I was a tad daunted…plus the fact that making curtains previously had not worked out exactly the way I planned!  6 of the curtains made were a tad short for the windows….it’s what happens when not getting correct measurements and only working from the plan, Oops!  But anyway I digress, the curtains are now made and hanging and even hemmed!  I’m pleased how they have come up and they really set the room off, now just have to make a pelmet for the other window and it’s finished!  A photo….(of course!)

Dining room curtains


Now to get organised and do the pelmets for the kids rooms and the ties for all the curtains!   Busy, busy, busy.

To go grey or not too…

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That is the question that I asked myself about 6 months ago.  I’ve been slowly going grey over the past 10-12 years (getting faster as I tipped 40!) and have been dying my hair for that long.  It’s fun, but oh so damn expensive and at the rate my hair grows I end up with the skunk stripe after about 3 weeks,  so I was asking myself if it was worth it or not.  My Mum went salt and pepper in her 40’s and now is a lovely shade of steel grey and it really suits her…but was I ready to admit I was getting older and risk making myself look even older?  Then I thought, well, I’m comfortable being the age I am, certainly wouldn’t want to turn back the clock, so why hide what nature is telling me?  So I made the decision…grey it will be and if i really can’t handle it I can always dye it again!

So here is me about 6 months ago …

Approx March 2010

And now 7 months later …

Taken 2 weekends ago

I have to say I’m pleased with how it is growing out.  It will be interesting to see what it looks like once there is no dye left!

Morning Tea for Playgroup – Chocolate and Coconut Cake & Snickerdoodle Blondie

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Thursdays are playgroup days and Emma hangs out the whole week for it!  Today was wet, cold and still loads of fun.  I take morning tea for the Mums and Dads and today we had two – a chocolate and Coconut Cake and a Snickerdoodle Blondie.  I love Snickerdoodle biscuits and have to say this slice was pretty good!

Silly me forgot to take a photo before it went to playgroup…this is what was left …

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie ... certainly has Cayden's approval.

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.
2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish, so it’s best to spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting. Makes 20-24 bars.

Tastes similar to Chocolate Rough.

Chocolate Coconut Cake

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Healthy Baker self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup milk
  • double cream, to serve

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 6.5cm-deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan. Line with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and coconut essence until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Sift half the flour and half the cocoa over butter mixture. Add half the coconut. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour, cocoa, coconut and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  3. Make Chocolate buttercream: Place butter and chocolate in a glass or ceramic bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Beat mixture with a wooden spoon until thick and spreadable.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half crossways. Place bottom of cake on a plate. Spread with one-third of buttercream. Sandwich with cake top. Spread remaining buttercream over top and side of cake. Serve with cream.

    Notes:  I didn’t use the buttercream, just a normal icing.  I also just used normal SR Flour.





Lamb Curry

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I took out some lamb loin chops today and felt like doing something a bit different, so went online and found a lamb curry dish that I could substitute my chops for the normal lamb.  For those that know me well, they would know that I’m not a hot spicy food fan, so when I say this was good, this was GOOD!  Mind you I racketed down the spice heat considerably otherwise I would never had been able to taste it!

Lamb Curry - quite mild!

Lamb & Spinach Curry

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tblsp oil or ghee
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2″ piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 kg lean diced lamb
  • 2 x 400ml coconut cream
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 pkt frozen ‘Finessa’ fine chopped spinach

Method

  1. Heat oil in heavy pan.
  2. Add onions and fry until golden brown.
  3. Add garlic, ginger and all spices except salt.
  4. Fry for 5 minutes until fragrant.
  5. If mixture is too dry add a little water.
  6. Stir regularly to prevent burning.
  7. Add lamb and toss through to coat with onion/spices.
  8. Fry further 10 minutes, stirring to prevent burning/sticking.
  9. Add thawed spinach and mix thoroughly.
  10. Add coconut cream and salt. Stir well.
  11. Add curry leaves, bring to a rapid boil.
  12. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least _1.5_ hours covered.
  13. Remove lid and simmer till sauce reduces, usually 15-30 minutes.
  14. This is an exceptionally hot curry, if you prefer a milder curry reduce by half the chilli powder and hot paprika quantities.
  15. This recipe also lends itself to substituting chicken for the lamb.

Notes

  • I used one onion
  • 1 teaspoon mild chilli
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked as that was what I had on hand)
  • I used 6 chops
  • only used 1 can coconut milk.
  • For the spinach I used about 80 gms of fresh spinach…worked just fine!
  • Cooked for about 1 hr and then for 10min with the lid off.
  • Served it with rice.

School Holidays … Last day!

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Well it’s been a full on couple of weeks with Cayden home on holidays.  It has been nice being able to sleep in and be lazy about getting going in the morning instead of the normal morning bolt!  We’ve kept pretty busy, spent an overnight at my Mum’s so the kids got to see Grandma & Pa, Grandma came back down with us and stayed a couple of nights looked after Emma for a couple of hours whilst I took Cayden to a Cupcake cooking class at the Queen Vic Market in the city.  It was great, we both seemed to enjoy it.

Mmmm, yummy

Good enough to eat!

Our creations

Cayden also had a couple of friends around for a playdate…lots of guitar hero, Wii and tampoline fun had by all.  I served up Sausage Rolls on one such playdate and you would think that they would go down a treat…nope, it had green stuff in it!  (I generally put grated zucchini in my sausage rolls)  Oh well you can’t win them all! It was pleasing to see Cayden reaction to that … “he didn’t even try it Mum, how did he know he didn’t like it?”  That’s my boy!

Pa celebrated his 60th birthday in the middle of the holidays so we went up and celebrated with the rest of the family … I supplied the cake.

White Chocolate Mudcake with truffles ... cake I made, truffles I bought!

Darren was able to get a few days off during the holidays so we made the best of it.  Wednesday we all went iceskating, I should clarify, Darren and the kids went skating, I sat on the sidelines.  It would only take one bum plant from me and my back would be stuffed for a month!  Em was probably a bit young, but if she hadn’t had a go she would not have been happy.  Cayden had a ball.

I've only just leanrt to walk ... give me a break!

Not happy Jan!

Going .... Going ...

Gone!

Balance ... starting to get it!

Cayden and Darren went a saw Toy Story 3, we were going to go as a family, but Emma was in a pretty bad mood that day, so it wasn’t worth trying!  Apparently it’s a pretty good movie.  Darren told me I would have cried a pool, maybe it was best I didn’t go!

We were going to go and visit Dad up at the farm, but I woke up Friday morning with little to no voice, so had to cancel.  Saturday dawns and Emma has also come down with a cold … nasty one too.  It was a pretty intense day yesterday with being at Em’s beck and call!

Emma; not a well little girl.

So it’s Sunday now and the boys are at Auskick, 3rd last for the year.  I think it will be a nice quiet day today.  Might attempt to make Pasties for lunch.

Lamb Cassoulet

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I had taken out some lamb forequarter chops from the freezer yesterday and wasn’t really sure what I was going to cook.  So I checked taste and this recipe came up … looked good, so thought I’d try it.

Lamb Cassoulet

Photo from Taste website ... forgot to take my own photo!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 lamb forequarter chops, trimmed
  • 2 brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 400g can canellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 400g can peeled tomatoes
  • mashed potato and steamed vegetables, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook chops, in batches, for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until just browned. Transfer to a large, ovenproof, casserole dish. Add onion, beans, garlic and rosemary to lamb.
  2. Mix tomato paste, wine and tomatoes in a bowl. Pour over lamb. Season with pepper.
  3. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender. Remove foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly. Serve with mashed potato and steamed vegetables.

Notes

  • I cooked this in a large frying pan and used the lid instead of foil
  • I also upped the heat to 175C and only cooked it for 1 1/2 hrs
  • I added baked beans instead of canellini beans as that was all I had.
  • I also added 1/2 and 1/2 of red and white wine as I only had a small amount of white wine!
  • Added to this to bulk up the veggies was 1 carrot and 1 zucchini … much to the disgust of the kids!
  • I also cut back of the garlic cloves … only 4 and only used 1 onion
  • Cayden took one look at this meal and decided he didn’t like it from the start (before even a morsel had touched his delicate tongue)…so Emma also didn’t like it!  oh the joys of cooking for a family!!!!
  • We liked it!