I love photographs. And I find them particularly wonderful as a Mama to three children. Because parenting can be tough. A minefield of unplanned occurrences and dramatic incidents. But it can also be lovely. Happy and spontaneous, in the most beautiful of ways. These tend to be the moments we capture, as parents. And why not? We don't care to remember the 16 month old's half hour meltdown, pre nap time. Or the hour and a half we took turns waiting in a queue in the hot sun, so our boys could experience 5 minutes on a bungy trampoline. Or the 879 times we were asked for an icecream...before lunch, during lunch AND after lunch. Or even breaking a shoe whilst wrangling a toddler, pram and bag of snacks. No Siree! These here are the memories we want to have and to hold. They are the ones that warm our hearts and will make us smile. Forever. Just a fun family day, at our local racecourse, in the toasty August sunshine. And my baby girl patting a little piglet...without a doubt the highlight for this Mama.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Occasionally, I stumble across a winning meal by throwing together a random selection of available ingredients. My most popular example of this to date, is the dish I like to call JJ's Chicken Pasta. And I'm sure this recipe has been done somewhere in the world before my accidental discovery...and I'm certain it has a much better, more enticing name. But hey, I just know that I love it and my family loves it and that's enough for me. Especially with two boys who can NEVER agree on the meals they both like and a burgeoning Miss 16 month old, with a healthy appetite...but who will no doubt have fussy pants at some point in the not too distant future also. It's super quick and easy to prepare and only has a few ingredients, so chances are it's something that can be whipped up at short notice.
JJ's Chicken Pasta
2 tablespoons Olive oil
600g chicken tenderloins, chopped into bite size pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 cup baby spinach or rocket (2 cups if desired)
1 190g jar of Leggo's sundried tomato pesto sauce
(penne or trivelle are my faves, but any pasta or spaghetti will be fine)
Grated parmesan for garnishing
(I use Millel parmesan, but any cheese will do nicely)
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.
Cook onion until soft and translucent.
Add chicken and stir until cooked through.
Spoon contents of pesto sauce into saucepan and stir until chicken is coated.
Add spinach or rocket
*another tasty addition at this point is a handful of cherry bocconcini for an extra cheesy flavour*.
Cover saucepan and allow to simmer on very low heat or until spinach/rocket leaves have softened.
Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
Stir cooked pasta through chicken.
Serve with grated parmesan and cracked pepper.
Friday, August 7, 2015
As a child my greatest fear was something happening to my parents. And due to our incredibly close connection, more particularly, something happening to my Mum. There has been no one as constant in my life as my Mum, for as long as I have lived. This year has been the toughest and most confronting to date, where my parents are concerned. Times like these force me to look deeper than I ever thought possible, for strength and guidance. For what to do next. And for who to be, now that I am officially and without question, the adult. The unwavering responsibility I have taken on as Mama to my own babies, now has an added element to it. An overwhelming urge to protect and nurture and just be there. They're unchartered waters I'm sailing. They're deep and dark and rough, at times. And I'm absolutely certain I have no idea where they begin, or where they end. So I get up each day and just navigate my way, as best I can. And I thank time, for giving me these irreplaceable moments between my Mum and my girl. Or as Nana calls her "my girl".
Walking Eden Gardens with Nana in July for her 76th birthday.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Yes, this is the new and improved attitude towards menu planning for me. I am endeavouring to diverge from the stock standard mince meat meals that everyone is comfortable with and eats...but are completely bored silly to the eyeballs with. I'm looking at you lasagne, meatballs, spag bol, tacos and the like. So I mixed it up with an old fashioned favourite in this Cottage Pie recipe. The boys whinged about various aspects. One doesn't like potato much (potato? who even is this child?!) and the other didn't like the inclusion of peas to his diet. But overall this one went down well. Hubs and I loved it, so it will be returning somewhere in the meal rotation on a regular basis. Oh and the aroma this dish creates is reason enough to give it a try, anything is delightful where fresh herbs are involved.
2 teaspoons olive oil
600g mince beef
1 brown onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, sliced finely
1 celery stalk, sliced finely
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup (70g) tomato paste
400g can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup (60g) frozen peas
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
(I actually used grated parmesan & it was delicious!)
6 medium potatoes, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
Preheat oven to 200 degrees (180 degrees fan-forced)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat.
Cook beef and onion, stirring for 5 minutes or until browned.
Add carrot, celery, thyme, stock, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomatoes.
Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Add peas, cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until peas are tender and the liquid has thickened.
Meanwhile, boil, steam or microwave potato until tender; drain.
Mash potato with butter and milk. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Spoon beef mixture into a 2.5 litre (or 10 cup) ovenproof dish.
Spread potato topping over beef mixture.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until topping is golden.
Serve sprinkled with extra thyme, if desired.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
The morning I snapped these photos, we were off to visit Nana. Little lady was babbling away in the back seat and I was rush, rush, rushing, after dropping the boys to school and trying to keep up with the dozens of thoughts that run through my mind at any one time. When I turned around to glance at my girl, she had hold of one of her brother's Fireman Sam trucks and catching my eye, she returned one of her million dollar smiles. She then proceeded to hug the truck close to her neck and face, patting it like it was her baby doll. I honestly sat there for a minute and just held onto that moment. The sweetness of her and the little personality she is revealing to us, a fraction more every day. These are the times I want to remember the most. Because I think times like this one are the kind that I remember from my own childhood. When my beautiful mum would say to me, "you are my favourite girl in the world". And she could say that to me with complete abandon, after raising six sons before me. And I get it now, more than ever, because it's exactly the way I feel about our darling Bonny.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
I used to make this recipe years ago, when Angus first started eating solid food. And I've been meaning for it to make a comeback in the meal rotation for a while. But with Winter upon us and little appetites being affected by illness and teething, it was a must to whip one of these up to have at the ready. Because that is the brilliant thing about this slice, it is versatile. It can be eaten hot or cold...and is delicious either way. Great as a snack to take on the run or have as a meal with a side salad. The vegies can be substituted with any number of alternatives...just add a cup of peas, corn, capsicum, spinach, shallots, cooked pumpkin or sweet potato. And of course, bacon or ham also go down a treat for a tasty addition. Perfect for children and adults...and I can confirm it gets the nod from fussy 15 month olds with sore gums too! Definitely putting this one back on high rotation.
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large zucchinis, grated
1 cup cheese, grated
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup olive oil
5 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Lightly fry onion.
Combine zucchini, carrot and cheese in bowl. Add onion.
Sift in flour, then add oil and eggs. Season with salt & pepper.
Pour into greased (or baking paper lined) pie, quiche or slice pan.
Bake at 180 degrees (160 degrees for fan-forced) for 40 minutes.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A friend once said to me that a child's birthday is as much a celebration for the parents as it is for the child. At the time, I smiled and nodded along, having very little understanding of how true that statement actually was. On the weekend we celebrated Felix's fifth birthday. Our spirited and loving middle child. Never before has that notion felt stronger than it did as I reminisced the past five years. Five long, challenging years, filled with just so much of everything. As I sat in the park and played cars with Angus, while Bonny napped in her pram and Felix occupied himself just near us, I felt a fond twinge of nostalgia flood over me. I remembered the day before Felix was born five years ago so vividly. Those days when our family was small, in comparison to now. When my attention was directed onto one little being. How simple, in hindsight, things really were back then. And how complicated, at times, things are now. It was poignant that I was able to spend that hour or so sitting in the warm Winter sun, playing cars with my big boy. A fitting way to reflect. Then the following day we all lost ourselves in the excitement that is turning a whole new number. A number Felix has been waiting to turn for such a long time. And he enjoyed every moment of his day. From their footy games in the morning, to his party with dear friends in the afternoon. Seeing his little freckle dusted face filled with joy meant everything to his Daddy and I. We've travelled a bumpy road with our beautiful boy and learnt more than we ever thought possible in the process. Definitely something worth celebrating.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
It's hard to believe we are back in school holiday mode, following a rather difficult last few weeks of term two. We lost a good friend suddenly just over a month ago. A remarkable human being, the husband of our beautiful friend and father of two delightful children, who are so close to my boys. Within days of the tragic news of our mate's passing, my own amazing Mum was admitted to a nursing home. What was a gradual deterioration in her health, all of a sudden became quite rapid. I have heard of that type of thing happening, but it has always been to someone else, or someone else's family. The stark and incredibly harsh reality when it is one of your own, a person so intrinsically linked to everything you have ever been and known, is almost too much to bare. Whilst it is still raw, early days, my family and I are endeavouring to come to grips with the new "normal". Even when everything feels painfully abnormal. In between moments of crippling sadness, I am immersing myself in the beautiful family Scott and I have created. The days are long and often not easy when raising children, but I am determined to find something positive in each new day. Taking photos of the things that make my heart soar is getting me through right now. Today, it was our picnic lunch, play at the park and wave watching on our breathtaking coastline. And I'm pretty sure the kidlets enjoyed themselves too.
(I have started up my Instagram account again, after a long hiatus and would love to follow any of my readers who are also on there. Please feel free to leave your account name in the comments or send me a quick message if you can. I am there as @all4.love, please join me).
Monday, June 8, 2015
We've created a habit here (or it seems I have set an expectation), for the boys to have a little afternoon treat, post school...every. day. More often than not, it consists of a Baker's Delight finger bun or store bought piece of cake or sometimes just a couple of Arnotts bikkies. But occasionally, I have time (& enthusiasm) to bake something from scratch, which is a nice surprise for all of us. I had one of those moments last week and fortunately, had to look no further than the fruit bowl for inspiration. Without a doubt the easiest, most delicious banana cake I have ever made. The vanilla icing really compliments the texture and flavour of the cake. Absolute winner with all the boys in the house...and with me too!
Best (& easiest) Banana Cake Ever!
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas mashed
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk
Melt the butter, sugar & vanilla in a medium sized saucepan
Remove from heat
Add mashed bananas & stir through until just blended
Add egg & mix in well. Stir in flour, add milk & mix lightly
Bake at 160 degrees (fan forced) for approximately 40 minutes.
200g soft butter (or margarine)
1 1/4 cups of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Using an electric mixer, beat all ingredients together for 4 minutes or until light & fluffy.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
My little fairy in the garden. Tiptoeing through the Autumn leaves on the grass I myself tiptoed across as a little girl. My childhood home. These pictures fill me with so much joy and love and I know they will mean the world to me and my girl in the years to come. My beautiful Mum, Bonny's adoring Nana. Time cannot alter these moments. I'm going to hold onto them forever.
Friday, May 15, 2015
A few weeks back we experienced a once in a decade weather event. It was the mother of all storms and lasted for the best part of two weeks. Crazy strong winds and an absolute deluge of rain. Our local park saw a pretty significant sized tree unearthed at the roots, much to the delight of the kids in the neighbourhood (perfect cubby house opportunity). And strangely enough, our area wasn't even close to being the worst affected.
One place that really did bear the brunt of the wild and woolly conditions was the beach. Literally tonnes of sand was lifted and blown every which way. Coming to rest on footpaths, grassed reserves and even inside beachfront dwellings. So the operation undertaken to reconstruct the beach was somewhat mammoth. I have not seen anything like the number of diggers, tractors and every other type of earthmover in the same space all working at once. Let alone on a (usually) populated beach. Thinking the littlies would get a kick out of the display of action, we wandered on down for a peek. Felix was in a bit of a mood and seemed more interested in what we would pickup for lunch. And Bon Bon was just content with the breeze on her face and the sun shining down. So I think the 'big' kid ended up gaining the most satisfaction from our little adventure.
Monday, May 11, 2015
There is nothing easy about being a mum. It is a constant grind and even when you think you might have worked it out, you haven't. Because it never stops teaching you and all of the learning, is on the job. So much responsibility lying heavily upon your shoulders. Weighing you down, almost smothering you with each new challenge. It's relentless and at times, thankless. Some days you get to the end and wonder how on earth you are supposed to get up the next morning (or sometimes, even in an hour's time) and do it all again. Where will the strength come from? The perseverance and positivity to say 'tomorrow is another day and I will make it better than today'.
But it comes. And you rise and you see their fresh little faces, wrinkle free and soft. Hear their chirpy voices babbling on with innocence and wonder. Not a care in the world (except for maybe when breakfast will be ready). You smell their sweet, clean hair & feel the warmth as they snuggle next to you for reassurance as they begin a new day of adventure. They need you and love you unconditionally. Because you are mum. A privilege and an honour to have received. Mother's Day prompts me to think about this enormous role I've undertaken and it reminds me of all the sacrifices my own mother made for me and my brothers. It's not easy, but it's worth it. It's what I always wanted and I know that without it, I would be lost. It has made me a better person in so many ways and for all of these things, I am grateful.