Monday, November 28, 2011

Get Up

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tie Die Birthday Cake

Recently The Gentleman celebrated a birthday.
I wanted to make him a special cake, something colourfull & different, so we decided on
a Tie Dye Cake!

Essentially any plain cake, with lots of food colouring.
Like a marble cake, but brighter colours.

This is the batter before it went into the oven. The standard food colouring packet has a handy chart on the back, to tell you how to make different colours. Divide the batter into different bowls & make up your colours, then plop them randomly into your baking tins.

The cakes after they where cooked, you can see the colours are still very bright.

Assembled into a number, iced & ready to go. I would have gone for white icing to enhance the colours, but it was The Gentleman's birthday so he chose his favourite. (Yes those candles are not box fresh, I am embracing the New Thrift)

We are going on a special outing for his birthday, rather than having a party, so we took the cake to school so that his friends could sing happy birthday, & he could enjoy his cake with them. Actually, even if there was a party a cake would have gone to school - I am a big believer in blowing out the candles on your actual birthday.

Also, I am a big believer in loading kids up with that much food colouring when I don't have to manage the outcome!....except for Monkey Boy.

Monkeyboy kindly models his slice of cake. This was the best shot I could get. The cake went so fast & then kids where fighting over the crumbs, I was lucky to get the photos I did!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Family Dinners

I blogged about this in August last year, to the sound of crickets. But it's something I love to do every week, so I thought I would give it a go again. Also - I have a few more readers these days.

Hello!!!    *waves madly*

Every week, generally Monday, I sit down with a cup of coffee, take stock of what food is in the house, & plan a weeks worth of dinners accordingly. I like this for 3 reasons;
  • Everyone can see what dinners are coming up, & therefore don't need to fret that their favourite isn't on the horizon.
  • It forces me to use what we have, & keeps the grocery shopping on track & therefore hopefully in budget.
  • It eliminates the brain drain of the 5 o'clock cry "Whats for dinner?" because sometimes I just don't have brain cells available at that time to cope with such a question.
The list isn't written in stone, things get switched up or moved around (or occasionally abandoned). Sometimes I plan more than 1 weeks worth: yesterday was such a day.
  • Roast pork & potatoes, homemade gravy, broccoli, peas & carrots. Monkey Boy loves this dinner, he calls it 'Pig Skin'. I will pan fry some tofu for the vegetarian.
  • Panzanella (Italian salad of fresh tomatoes, basil, torn sour dough, & a few other things) with BBQ sausages or tofu. I might just eat the salad because,YUM.
  • Apricot Chicken with Rice & a green vege. How Retro! The Gentleman loves this dinner, he thinks it ever so posh. The Vegetarian isn't so keen..
  • Honey Pepper Pork (using left over pork from the roast) with vegetarian fried rice (using leftover rice from the Apricot chicken) The Vegetarian will have the rice with an egg on top.
  • Asian style sesame meatballs with noodle salad. I made this last night & it was delish.
  • Roast Chicken with Lentils this is a Donna Hay recipe that I am dieing to try out. It looks awesome & I have lentils to use.
  • Chicken pot pie. Crap mamma has a nice recipe on her blog that I am keen to give a go. The Vegetarian will have spinach & feta instead of chicken under her puff pastry.
  • Homemade Pizza I think I have perfected my crust, after many years of experimenting. Toppings are generally whatever is available, although are likely to include
    • Plain Cheese
    • Salami or Bacon, maybe both?
    • Bolognaise with cheese
    • Fresh tomatoes from the garden, feta & rocket.
    • A Mr BC Special which is anchovies, kalamata olives & rocket.
    • I'm keen to do a feta & beetroot seeing they make such a yummy salad. Also I have 1 last beetroot in the garden looking for redemption.
    • My fave of all time is chili prawns with (after it's cooked) avocado & sour cream, but we are on a budget seeing it's Christmas soon ;(
  • There is a lot of Cavalo Nero to use up so I might make a vegetarian lasagna & have it with a nice garden salad.
  • This week I also want to make The Gentleman's Birthday Cake, as well as some biscuits & Donna Hay's chocolate sorbet, which looks freaking amazing.
These dinners are served at the table so that everyone can help themselves, generally they will grow to include a few extra small serves of something know I love a 'table'.

So what works for your family dinners? Do you write a list or throw everything together at the last minute? Are you a bit of both?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Donna Hay How I Love Thee

Donna Hay how I love thee.

Your recipes are clean, fresh, simple, seasonal, delicious & stylish. They maximise the wow factor while minimising the effort, which is something I personally appreciate. They are not overly long & difficult, they encourage shortcuts & remove all snobbery from the kitchen.

But enough worshiping at the alter of cookery, the proof is in the eating. So, some recipes for you!

Pappadelle with chorizo, tomato and basil

vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup basil leaves
3 chorizo, thinly sliced
500g truss cherry tomatoes
400g pappardelle
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 x 125g buffalo mozzarella, torn
finely grated parmesan, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Carefully add the basil leaves a few at a time, as they may spit, and fry until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper and set aside.

Place the chorizo and tomato on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and roast for 15 minutes or until chorizo is golden. While the chorizo is roasting, cook the pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 10–12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and keep warm.

Add the olive oil, lemon rind and garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Return the pasta to the pan with the chorizo, tomato, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide the pasta between plates and top with the mozzarella, parmesan and fried basil leaves to serve. Serves 4.

spice-baked chicken with tzatziki salad

1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed

tzatziki salad

½ cup (140g) thick plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
sea salt
4 cucumbers, sliced lengthways with a vegetable peeler
1 cup mint leaves
½ cup chopped dill leaves

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the cumin, chilli, thyme, lemon zest and oil in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Place the chicken in a baking dish lined with non-stick baking paper and roast for 15 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, make the tzatziki salad. Place the yoghurt, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and mix to combine. Divide the cucumber, mint and dill between plates and spoon over the dressing. Slice the chicken and serve with the salad. Serves 4.

baked chocolate and raspberry custards

125g dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) single (pouring) cream
2 eggs
2 egg yolks, extra
½ cup (90g) brown sugar
¾ cup raspberries, plus extra, to serve
cocoa, for dusting

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the chocolate, milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling.

Place the eggs, extra yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Slowly add the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Divide the raspberries between 4 x 1-cup (250ml) capacity ramekins and pour over the chocolate mixture. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes or until the custard is just set. Top with extra raspberries, dust with cocoa and serve warm or cold. Serves 4.

                   ......................................Nom nom nom nom.................................

I have a copy of Donna Hay's latest cookbook, Simple Dinners, to give away. And because I. LOVE. YOU. ALL. this giveaway is not restricted to Australian residents, I am quite happy to ship it overseas to you, if you win. Tell me what your kitchen trick is - the secret one that is so simple but makes you look like a kitchen super star. One comment per follower, please.

Winners drawn on 1st December & posted the next day, so hopefully you will get it in time for christmas. So go ahead & leave me a comment to enter, & good luck!

Disclaimer - I have been given a copy of Simple Dinners to review, & also one copy to giveaway. All opinions are my own. Can I also please say that Donna Hay is not paying for this postage? Thank you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Each to his own, but....

What team are you? Confession time: this is mine.
Before you get all stabby, I have read the books & seen all but the last movie.

R-patz is quite easy on the eye I suppose, & I'm sure he is a very nice person. I thought he was lovely as Cedric. I mean if I was a struggling actor & was offered the starring role in a massive franchise, I wouldn't turn it down either...

But really....

The sparkly thing is just wrong.

And I think the characters are bizzare. Bafflingly strange.
Don't get me wrong, it's completely my genre.

I feel bad about this pic because I am not at all anti gay, just anti Twilight.
But then I thought, every gay person I know would laugh at this, so it stayed.

My point exactly.

I don't understand.

Don't have to be an ex drug addict to know that Bella is a bad role model for teenage girls everywhere.

I'm not sure if this alternate ending was tested on studio audiences, but it should have been.

This one certainly should have been.

See, vampires are my genre.

(But not Tom Cruise. At. All.)

 all images via pinterest

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Winner of the Hairy Happy Ending

And the winner of the fabulous Hairy Happy Ending (Keratinology by Sunsilk Sexy Summer Tresses pack) is.....

Melissa at Sugar Coat it!

Why? Because Melissa truly had the worst hair disaster I have ever heard of...

"...OMG, do I HAVE a story for you. READY!?

I was 18 and I had platinum white hair. Which required loads of maintenance. I went with a friend to her salon to get my roots done. She applied the product and put me under a dryer. I kept getting out from under it. I knew, having sat through my cousin's entire apprenticeship in the chair that bleach activates itself, it doesn't need the heat. ESPECIALLY extended periods of heat.
When she finally washed it out pieces of my hair went too and all bar the first 2 inches of my hair was jelly! Ick! the hairdresser attempted to charge me {OMG, WHAT!} and when I refused and walked out she threatened to call the police. I told her fine. I'd wait for them to get here. They didn't come.

The next week I got my haircut in a short, styled bob {cheekbone level} to remove the dead hair. The cut was adorable straight. It was NOT adorable when wavy or curly {as my hair naturally is}. Worst haircut EVER. To this day it is spoken about in the family.

Especially when I can pay my cousin $50 for a full cut, style and blow dry. Damn her moving up north for 12 months! Haha.

SEE, told you it was a goodie. She fried my hair off, than someone else cut it horribly. DOUBLE hair whammy!"

Congratulations, Melissa. It's a miracle you're not bald!

To find out more about Keratinology from Sunsilk, & their fabulous Winnebago, please head over to their facebook page


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Air Wick Aqua Mist Winners

Winner of the $200 Coles Myer Card is TAO!
TAO said...

'...Romina I have to go one step further, I think the only way to have a clean, fresh house is don't have kids - I don't think I have been able to describe my house as clean and fresh since the kids arrived. Seriously, because it is too late now and can't send the kids back, I really like the Flylady tip of 'shining your sink'. I think if the sink is cleared of dishes and all clean and shiny the house feels so much better."

Winner of the $100 Coles Myer Card is Danielle!

Danielle said...

"...Hire a cleaner. If your not that lucky split up your house and do a room a day. That way your cleaning but it doesn't feel like such a big job. Folding washing before it comes in the house is a big one for me too. If I don't fold it then it goes into the spare room and next thing I know it's a mountain."

Winner of the $50 Coles Myer Card is Tattoo Mummy! said...

"..My tip? Always have the cushions on the lounge nicely.I'm not sure why, but as long as the throws and the cushions are on my lounge, The toys all over the floor just look like they are there to accessorize the rug ;) "

Congratulations! Please forward your address details to me pronto so I can send your cards to you. Did you know that Coles now carry a range of clothing, Mix Apparel? Fresh & inexpensive, you could purchase a whole summer wardrobe for not much money. Just sayin..

Thank you to Soup & Air Wick Aqua Mist, but special thanks to the lovely readers who entered this competition. You guys rock!

NB I don't know why blogger is having tab issues today, but it is driving me OCD mad!

Fasten your Seatbelts...

.........we are coming in to land. The end of the year is fast approaching, & I would like to get there without my head between my knees. I am hoping for a smooth descent, with no crash landing! 

I came across this turtle on the beach recently, & tears stung my eyes. This beautiful creature was the size of a car bonnet, & here it was, washed up, bloated & dead. (Also it really stank) I realised that I wasn't just mourning for the turtle, it was a reflection of how I felt heading into the end of the year. I feel like I am carrying everything on my back, & it's weighing me down, man! It has been a stressful year, with illness, family drama, financial woes...the list could go on but it won't. I'm sick of thinking about it, I certainly don't want to talk about it.

Just let it all hang out!
So, we have been scheduling more fun into our days. Fishing, walking on the beach before dinner, swimming. I think it might be working...

Fail Whale jumpers courtesy of my clever MIL.
Taking the time to reconnect as a family, to rediscover our shared differences. To focus on strengthening our little family unit. To remove unnecessary drama from the equation.

I know, hard to leave at the curb. But I was strong.
Learning to say NO. No to extra projects, extra financial burdens, extra drama. The sign on this sofa said free to good home, or any home, really! But I said NO, & kept walking. You have to pick your projects. And your battles. Some are not worth winning. Some need to be put on hold while I develop enough resources to deal with them.

Not hormonal.
I don't think any of us have been feeling ourselves. Putting up barriers, retreating into ourselves. Ironically, the weaker I am the more energy is expended putting up barriers that don't even work, they are that weak. It's a complex paradigm, even for someone as psychopathetic as me.  The weaker I feel the more keenly I feel the spears that are thrown at me, when those spears would normally glance off or be dodged effortlessly. Time to break down some walls & rip off those disguises, & nurture that inner strength!

Breakfast in the Chaos House.
Snatch the opportunity to relax when we can. Get enough vitamin D. Get into the garden, the house, our projects, ourselves. Part of that is deciding to opt out of the stress & drama of travelling to Sydney this year for a family Christmas. Which is probably a bit of a shock to some, but I am sure that everyone will still enjoy their Christmas without us.

Another part of this is moving forward on things that have been put aside due to lack of funds, lack of energy & lack of motivation. So new dishwasher is being installed! Woohoo!

How is your landing going, heading into the end of the year? Are you charging over the finishing line, arms up in victory? Or are you having a lie down waiting for the stretcher to arrive?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cook Book Winner

Congratulations Talia! You have just won yourself a copy of
Entertain, the latest cookbook from Australian Good Taste!

Please email your delivery details asap & it will be winging its way to you in no time.

Thank you to everyone who entered this competition, I so appreciate your love & support (& the wanting of the cookbook, obviously) Don't forget there are two other giveaways that are soon to be drawn.

You have to be in it to win it!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blind Smell Test at the Friday Park + a Giveaway

I am lucky to be part of a group of friends called The Gunt Club. (Yes, that is a G, not a C) Our kids go to school together, we sometimes hang out together, we occasionally get drunk & plank together. Every Friday after school we take our kids to a local park, drink wine/tea/soft drink/mainly wine, & have a laugh while our offspring get tribal & hunt crabs.

Yesterday the Gunt Club was transformed into a Blind Smell Test Panel, courtesy of Airwick Aqua Mist, which was something different, & a lot of fun. I wanted to get everyone's reactions to 3 products from the Airwick Aqua Mist Range, their job was to guess which scent was which, & choose a favourite. There was a slight breeze in the park so I ran around our table looking like a dick, trying to spray upwind so the Aqua Mist would waft gently in their direction - it was only later that I noticed the label mentioned to not spray directly into anyone's face. Whoops! Please note that nobody had any diverse reactions to getting a faceful of Airwick Aqua Mist, & I suppose we can now say it isn't tested on animals, but it is tested on The Gunt Club.

Thoughtful consideration went into guessing each scent. Note the mini Hench woman who was ready to come down hard if anyone got it wrong. No pressure!

Lucy loved Magnolia & Cherry Blossom the best, & was sure it would be able to eradicate her husbands flatulence. I'll let you know how it goes.....

Julie was a big fan of the Fresh Waters, as am I. 

 Shandell thought Fresh Waters had enough muscle to work on her husband, too!

Tracey liked the freshness of Wild Lavender & Mountain Breeze. 

Jude loved them all, but really liked the non floral scent of Fresh Waters the best.

My mother previously noted that the scent doesn't last long because Aqua Mist is water based, but when I put this to the test, I noticed that the smell lasted at least 2 hours in my bathroom, obviously not so long in a windy park. Fresh Waters became the winning scent with everyone I tested, although lots of sniffers liked Magnolia & Cherry Blossom which surprised me because I thought it was too floral. Some of my favourite comments where;
'Oh, that is really fresh, not overbearing at all'
'Nice, not too sweet or cloying'
'Mmmmm I love that!'
'I really like the larger bottle, it's a good size'
'What? Lisa, this says Aqua Mist, not Fresh Waters. You've got the wrong one.' I love drinking wine with The Gunt Club.

What are your best tips for keeping your home looking fresh? I have Coles Myers cards for the best 3 freshness tips - $200, $100, & $50 for first, second & third place. To enter;
  • Be a follower of this blog.
  • Leave a comment with your best tips for keeping your home looking fresh.
  • For an extra entry, blog, tweet or facebook about this giveaway, then leave another comment telling me you have done so.
  • Be an Australian resident.
Winners to be drawn on Saturday the 12th November. Good Luck!
PS - Please update your profile to include a valid email, or leave one as part of your comment. Mr no-reply at blogger is a bitch to deal with!
Disclaimer: Product supplied for review by Soup & Airwick Aqua Mist, all thoughts, words & opinions are mine unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cook Book Giveaway

Just in time for the entertaining season, here is a cookbook called 'Entertain'. Let me tell you about my family dinners..

For a while now I have been presenting a 'table' for dinner. Well, most nights,anyway. There are at least 5 people around our table every night for dinner, & each has their own preferences & dislikes. Teenage daughter is vegetarian. Mr BC is a meat & potatoes guy. The Gentleman won't eat eggs but loves mushrooms & avocado; Monkey boy dislikes potatoes, mushrooms & avocado but will pretty much hoover through anything else, I can't imagine where he gets that from. *Shifty eyes* Oh, me? Maybeeeeee. Why do you ask?

Anyway, I find that everyone eats well if I prepare a group of dishes that are randomly grouped. For example; Curry Table might be a slow cooked beef curry, coconut pumpkin, chickpea & spinach red curry, some rice pilaf, poppadoms & maybe a finely chopped tomato salad. The same concept extends to any cuisine you could think of, the dishes don't even have to match. Sometimes it is just to use up stuff in my fridge! I like this concept, it works well for our family.

Australian Good Taste magazine has just produced a cook book with this principle at it's core. There are 14 'tables' that all look amazing, each one includes entree, mains, desert & sometimes a beverage.  Literally 30 minutes after the postman had delivered my copy today I had requests for 3 of the dishes. Check out these photos & tell me you agree...

Raspberry Lime (Margarita) Slushie.
Lover, come to me....

I have one copy to give to you, my lovely readers. Winners drawn one week from today, Thursday 10th November. Please leave a comment to enter, but sorry, Australian readers only..

Disclaimer: I've been given a review copy for this post but as always, all words, thoughts & opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WTF moments - exchanges with my children.

Me in mock horror, gazing at Monkeyboys science experiment toenails: Look at your toenails!
Monkeyboy, clearly horrified: Don't eat them, Mum!*

Later, after they are trimmed & cleaned. Me, tickling his feet: Look at these cute little toes!
Monkeyboy: Careful, Mum, they are just stuck on my feet you know.

The Gentleman, in all seriousness: Was it really all black & white when you where a little girl, Mum?
Me, under breath: For gods sake!!
Me, out loud: Let me show you some photos of Mum & Dad from when we where young, so you can see it's just normal, not 'olden days'.
The Gentleman: Wow! I like Dad's big hair!

Monkeyboy looks sternly across the dinner table: Mum, this is not the best rice, because you have put onions in it.

The Gentleman: Mum, if it snowed, could we wear some of those Ear Gloves?

The Gentleman:When I grow up I'm going to be a scientist & save people from all the Salamis.
Me: Erm, what Salamis, Darling?
The Gentleman: You know, all the water in the ocean just pushes up a giant Salami & it squashes all the towns?
Me: Oh, you mean Tsunamis?
The Gentleman: Yes, that's what I said. Salamis.

Teenage Daughter, in reaction to my delight at a sequined gift box: No one wants to look in your box, Mum.

*Can I just say that I never intended to eat my sons toenails??


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