The adventure of trying to make a house a home that we built for our family of six plus some craft, home décor, recipes & any family fun we might have.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Cake Smash for my ONE Year Old.

My little man turned one back on the 18th October and as we didn't do the big family birthday party I thought I'd have some special photo's taken of him eating his cake so that we had something special to remember the day by. My camera doesn't take great pictures so I knew straight away I had to call my talented and lovely friend Fiona from Dream Art Photography to come capture all the fun of Quinlan eating the birthday cake his mummy made him.
I'd read a few photography blogs to get some idea's about what I should and shouldn't be doing. I discovered a few interesting things that I'm glad I read before we got ready for our photo shoot. This is what I learnt:
you won't want to use red icing because when mixed with dribble it'll look like your baby is bleeding.
if thinking of using green icing go with a very pale colour especially as it's likely to go up their nose and this may give the effect of having a snotty nose.

Quinlan's Home Made Birthday Cake.
when making your cake make a vanilla butter cake, plain sponge cake or a pound cake because if you make a chocolate cake it could look like your child is eating pooh.
keep it simple because you want your baby to eat the cake and having lots of pretty things on top may slow proceedings down.
if you are going to an outdoor location or a photographer's studio bring a towel, nappy wipes, change of clothes and a bag to put all the dirty things in with you.

I really enjoyed watching Fiona while she was working with Quinlan. The funniest thing to happen on the day was when we placed Quinlan down in front of the cake. The grass was a little rough and Quinlan didn't have shoes on so he wasn't to confident sitting down at first but this soon changed. As we had the photo's taken near the local lake, there were a heap of people going for their early morning walking around the lake. A couple stopped by with their pet dog and they asked if they could get a photo of their dog with Quinlan, only problem was the dog licked Quinlan's hand and this upset him.

Before the dog tried to eat the cake on Quinlan's hand.
He recovered quickly, we dried his eyes and he went back to eating his cake. Fiona was impressed with his concentration because generally young children don't have a very long attention span but  Quinlan worked on his cake for 20 minutes. We started taking these photo's around 7.45am because the light was good and it was cool enough for the cake to survive the elements. Quinlan had over slept and we had to wake him for the photo shoot, therefore he hadn't had his breakfast so when it came time to eat the cake he was up for the challenge.

Here are some of the beautiful pictures Fiona took of Quinlan during his cake smash session, I wish I'd done this with all my babies as it would have been lovely to have compared how each child reacted to their birthday cake. All that's left is for me to do now is to pick the one photography that I'll be hanging on our future gallery wall.

So please stop on over to Fiona's beautiful photography blog Dream Art Photography and fall in love with the adorable newborn pictures, get idea's for your next family photo or just have a look at all the lovely mummy to be pictures that she has taken. I know that I'll be using some of the pictures that Fiona has taken of the kid's recently to update the look of my blog's header especially as the photo's are 11 months old and the children have all changed since then.

Fiona came back to our house and even captured the clean up. It was the perfect finish to a great photo shoot.

If you live in Brisbane and you are wanting a photographer to take beautiful pictures of you during  your pregnancy, your new born or if you just want some great family photo's taken Fiona will do a great job. She is easy to work with, the children will love her (she's also a mum to 4 cherubs) and the photography's will be breathtaking. I'm off to start planning my gallery wall.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 4

Caramel Potato Chip Fudge.

Look at all that caramel, Mr Opoes will love this.
Welcome to Try Something New Tuesday, today I've attempted to recreate the wickedly sinful and oh so yummy looking caramel potato chip fudge. Over the last few months while searching Pinterest  I've come across many posts that feature salty caramel and as Mr Opoes LOVES caramel when I saw this particular recipe I thought I'd give it a go. Now I'll warn you that my Caramel Potato Chip Fudge won't be styled as beautifully as Ashton's from Something Swanky however I'll try my hardest to grab your attention with all the gooey caramel.
Caramel Potato Chip Fudge
3 cups semi-sweet melting chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
150g Werther's Soft caramel chews, unwrapped
2 Tablespoons, water
2-3 cups crinkle cut chips, crumbled (the saltier the better)
1-2 Tablespoons sea salt, depending on your preference
1. Line an 8x8 baking dish with baking paper and lightly grease the dish.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk over a low heat. Stir constantly until smooth.
3. Turn off the heat, but leave the saucepan on the burner.
4. Place the caramels in a microwave safe bowl and coat them with 2 Tablespoons of water. Microwave for 1 minute and stir until smooth.
5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the lined baking dish, you can turn the heat back on and stir for a minute if it's cooled too much.
6. Pour the caramel over the top of the chocolate. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of potato chips over the caramel.
7. Using a knife to swirl the chocolate, caramel and potato chip pieces. Use the knife to sort of 'dig' up some of the chocolate from the bottom. Don't over mix - you still want to have ribbons of caramel.
8. Sprinkle remaining potato chips and sea salt over the top.
9. Let it cool for at least 4 hours or overnight.
10. Cut into pieces and enjoy.

I really enjoyed making this. After reading all the directions involved I knew that I needed to prepare all my ingredients prior to starting this recipe so that I wouldn't have things sitting and going cold while I tried to melting the next thing for the recipe. This is definitely A SOMETIMES FOOD and if your on a diet don't look at the pictures. I gave a small piece to the three eldest kids and Mr Opoes and they all liked it, Caelan even got a second piece because he told me he didn't get any caramel. After it went into his mouth I saw a sly smile on his face and I knew he'd been angling for another piece. Sneaky little man. Give this a go especially if you want to show someone how special they are to you.


Monday, 29 October 2012

When crafting isn't easy!

Mackenna started back at kindy four weeks ago and because most of the children are starting school in January the teachers are using rest time to allow the children to do some creative play e.g. drawing. Now Mackenna is one of six children in the class who isn't going off to school next year, this is because she turns 5 after June 31st 2013 and she is considered too young. Funny thing is that by waiting until January 2014 to start school she'll now be considered one of the older children. Anyway back to watch I wanted to talk about. I wanted to decorate the book that Mackenna will use during rest time creative time so that she had something pretty to look at. How hard could it be? I had an idea, the time and I had most of the things I was going to need.

So lets start at the very beginning and we'll see how this little big project turns out.

Do you have those day's when things just don't go your way and for the life of me I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I've been working on a little crafting project for Mackenna for the past two days and things just aren't coming together for me. I had an idea of decorating the cover Mackenna's kindy Scrapbook so that when she uses it she can be inspired to draw some pictures during rest times. I know how I want the finished project to look like BUT I think I've over estimated the space I have to work within and this is why it's taking so long.
Mackenna is really excited about what I'm doing for her, she can't wait to see how it'll finish up. So I thought I'd share with you all the steps I took to create her Drawing Book for kindy. I'm just going to show the pictures because this project is really self explanatory and if you can use contact to cover a book than it's pretty simple. The supplies you'll need to have are scrapbooking paper, double sided tape, ribbon, any other craft supplies you want to use and AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING lol. 
Gather supplies.

Draw and Cut out bunting pieces.

Cover book with silver contact.

Add washi tape or scrapbooking paper to bunting pieces.

Layout out your pattern before adding taping and paper.

See how you need to lay it out on your book.

Add title or any other embellishments.
Close up of the lettering. Cover with clear contact
 to protect everything and to keep it clean.

Washi tape to identify Mackenna's pencils.

Pencil Case

Finally finished.

One happy little girl with all her stationary.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Under the weather. . .

Welcome to Tuesday. I know that you are all expecting to see a wonderful recipe today in my Try Something New Tuesday series but I won't be posting anything for the rest of the week. I have come down with something and with looking after the children I'm taking the time off to recover and hopeful not pass it onto anyone else.
I'm hoping to be back on Monday 29th with something to share. I'm also hoping that I'm feeling a lot better by the weekend so that I can make next weeks Try Something New recipe. If you love chocolate, potato chips and sweets then you're going to love what I have for you next week.
So enjoy the rest of your week, stay healthy and have fun. I will be trying to get healthy, not pass this onto anyone else in the family and make the kid's happy. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Quinlan

Dear Quinlan,

Today you turn one years old, I can't believe how this time has speed by. It only seems like yesterday that we were meeting you first time. Having you in our lives has been the most wonderful experience and we are very thankful that God sent you to us.
Quinlan just prior to his first birthday.
Quinlan, I thought I'd write down a few things so that in the future you might learn a few things about yourself and because your mummy' memory isn't what it use to be.
1. You say 'Dada', 'Muma' and 'Baba'.
2. When someone says 'bye' or 'goodbye' you wave goodbye without looking in their direction.
3. Your favourite food is weet-bix and biscuits.
4. If Caelan, Mackenna and Viveca are eating you also have to eat otherwise you get upset.
5. You give me this beautiful kiss every day. You open your mouth, cover my lips and then press against me. I get covered in drool but your face lights up and you laugh. I LOVE IT.
6. Every time I put you to bed, I stand at the bedroom door looking through the cots slates and tell you that I LOVE YOU and I pretend to close the door. You giggle and then I open the door again which again makes you giggle.
7. Your crawl is whatever you feel like doing when you're on the floor, the worm, army crawl or the conventional crawl.
8. You pull yourself up, let go of the wall and then sit back down again.
9. You pull the girls hair whenever they annoy you and Viveca is getting her hair pulled all the time.
10. You love been carried around by your siblings especially if they start playing chasey.
11. You are so happy.
12. You like to eat a lot and you hate me wiping food off your face.
13. When you've eaten enough you will pick the food up and then throw it on the floor.
15. You sometimes shake your head 'no' but never when Viveca is near you.
16. You put things in your mouth e.g. Lego but you don't swallow them.
17. You just started climbing up Grandma's steps which scared her.
18. You love having a bath with your sister's and if you slip over you just reposition yourself.
19. You are a dream baby. You go to sleep without complaining, you're always happy and I think you're a cutie.
20. Go just go with the flow, never crying to loudly or for too long.
21. You'll play in your cot if mummy get's busy and can't get you straight away.
22. We all love blowing on your tummy to make fart noises.
23. When you fall asleep in the car, daddy is the only one who can transfer you into your cot. He holds you close and you cuddle into him.
24. You smile when mummy is telling you 'no'.
25. You're not scared to eat raw potato or sweet potato right out of the vegetable basket.
26. You have brought such joy, love and happiness to our family we are so lucky to call you our son.

We are so blessed to have you in our lives and I thank God every day for giving you to us. I cherish the relationship I have with my boys it's so easy, fun and I love that both you and your brother don't mind it when I pinch your bottoms. I love how the girls will let me tickle them and they will laugh so hard and long even after you have finished tickling them. People have asked me if our family is finished and I think it is because I already have the most fabulous children and they bring such joy, happiness and delight into our lives.
So Quinlan I hope you enjoy your 1st birthday with us and that you get to eat heaps of cake. I'm looking forward to spending some mummy and Quinlan time with you on Sunday and fingers crossed you enjoy the birthday cake you'll get to eat for breakfast.
Lots of hugs and kisses to you my beautiful boy from your brother, sisters, daddy and mummy we hope you have another great day with us.
Love Mummy xxx

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 3

Savoury Impossible Pie.
Welcome and thank you for stopping by to see how I went at making  Savoury Impossible Pie. I'm doing this series of recipes because I'm hoping to try making a few new recipes, I love looking at the beautiful pictures on Pinterest and I'm also trying to introduce the children to new foods and flavours. Today's recipe comes from Renee who is one of my lovely followers, she wrote:
'I've just made this.Thanks 1+1=6 for the recipe. Can't wait to try some for dessert. Another suggestion - Impossible Pie. Just because I'd like to know if it IS possible hahaha! The name has always turned me off, as you set out for failure right from the get go.' So I searched Pinterest but the majority of the Savoury Pies were sweet and because I'm looking for main meal ideas I searched other sites for some savoury options. An Impossible Pie would be good to use in your kids school lunches, to take on a picnic or when friends drop around for an unexpected lunch.

I've eaten impossible pie before so I knew how it was meant to look and what it's meant to taste like, so I was confident going in. This would also be good for school lunches, picnic or for when friends drop over for lunch. However, I did have a few issues cooking it and I think it's all thanks to my oven not cooking correctly.
Image from Crafty Lady 13
Savoury Impossible Pie
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (1 tablespoon dried parsley)
200g tuna or 200g salmon
1/2 cup grated cheese
ground pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C and grease a 30cm round pie dish.
2. In a large bowl mix together eggs, milk and flour.

It will look a bit like scrambled egg before it gets cooked.
3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Ready to be mixed together.
4. Pour into your pie dish and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until its browned on top. Serve with a salad.

Poured into greased pie dish ready for cooking.
5. If it isn't cooked after the 40 minutes continue cooking in 10 minute blocks.
So that's it, really simple to put together and if it cooks within the 40 minutes you could be sitting down for dinner or lunch within a hour of starting. Now my oven did play up so it ended up taking an hour to cook. My children aren't big tuna fans so I was really happy that they ate it all up, Quinlan really like it he got a little upset when he had finished his dinner. When this pie's cooked the flour creates a base and this helps when it comes to serving it up. The other good thing about about this recipe is that you could add any leftovers e.g. rice, chicken, bacon, corn, peas etc and it'll just add to the flavour of the pie.

The Impossible Pie that was truly possible to make I just had to cook it longer and be patient for it to finish cooking.
So I hope that you have a lot of success making this Renee and I'm sure it may become a recipe that you  grow to love. The other good part about this post is that if you want to make a dessert you can Google a sweet version and you'll be able to put it together really quickly. I won't reveal what I'm making next week as it's Quinlan's first birthday and I still haven't decided what I'll be doing.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Our To Do List....

For the last 12 months this little family of six has been using two clothes horses to dry all of our clothing and manchester. So when it comes to drying out towels and bed sheets the available space has been limited so I’ve been forced to use doors, dining chairs and even the highchair to dry things. So Mr Opoes and I were talking a few weeks ago about buying a new clothesline which was one thing we deleted from our house contract due to the fact that it was going to cost us $205 for the clothesline and installation.  That price isn’t too bad but it wasn’t for the size we wanted so we took it out.

So on this particular night we got on the Internet to start looking for the best deal we could find and for the biggest clothesline we could get. Easy. Wrong. We found clotheslines up for sale on eBay but unfortunately they were either the wrong colour, size or they were just too far away. So we then started looking at the local stores that stocked the particular size we were after. We had agreed on a Hills clothesline as this was the same one we’d had and loved at our previous house. The best price we found was $189.00 at one of the large departments store and we knew that they never reduced their prices because they had a bigger buying power than the small guys.

Like many things on our TO DO LIST they may get talked about but there is never any resolution as to when we will do something about it, if we can really afford to do it or if it’s really a necessity now to have that particular task completed now. One thing I did know was that it was becoming a necessity to get a clothesline outside, we needed this job done yesterday.

On the way to church a few days later Mr Opoes had grabbed the local newspaper to read in the car. He came across an advertisement for the local Hills distributor who was having a closing down sale and they had reduced their prices on everything in store. Unfortunately the sale had already been going for a week when we came across the advertisement and the store was closed on Sunday’s. As you can imagine we forgot all about it after that as we were a hundred percent sure that they would have sold out of everything by that time. So imagine my surprise when two weeks later Mr Opoes reads that the store is still having their closing down sale and they still have heaps of items for sale.

I quickly tell Mr Opoes to load the kids into the car, I send them off to find us a cream coloured clothesline that has at least 21 metres of line. They are gone for nearly three hours and I get to thinking that the shop has sold out of them and Mr Opoes has taken the child's to the park. Oh well we already know that we'll have saved $16 and we'll have to install it ourselves otherwise the clothesline that Coral Homes would have provided us with would have been a cheaper alternative.

Next thing I know Caelan comes running into the house yelling to me that daddy has done a great job and he saved us a lot of money. In that moment I could see that Caelan was so proud of his father that even if he'd managed to save $20 my son thought that his father was a hero. Mr Opoes arrives soon after and once all the yelling and joyous shouting stops he tells me how he went.

Mr Opoes had managed to get the last 21 metre, cream clothesline that they had left. Apparently when he arrived thirty minutes after the store had opened they had already sold four clotheslines so we were both really happy. Now Mr Opoes had also organised for his father to come and help us install the clothesline so that we wouldn't have to wait for a tradesman to become available. So we were doing really well and Mr Opoes had done a great job.

After feeding lunch Mr Opoes told me that he'd got a really great price on the clothesline and with him and his dad installing it we had saved $105. I was so impressed, I would have been happy to have saved $40 so now we have more money to put towards the landscaping that's going to coat a small fortune.

So yesterday grandma and grandpa come around for five hours while Mr Opoes, grandpa and I (I only did a little bit to help) but it all together. One thing that Mr Opoes realised when he opened the box was that they clothesline didn't come with instructions but the Internet helped with that issue. It was good because we don't like to have grandpa and all his heavy tools arriving at the house with nothing for them to do. I don't have many pictures to share as I didn't think of taking any pictures until the last few steps.

Wall bracket connected to the wall.

Both arms and brackets in place on the wall.

Mr Opoes connecting the front arm with his father (Grandpa).

Nearly there just pushing the last bit into place.

Its now after 6pm and the light has gone, the outside lights are on
and the mosquito's are out but we are 90% finished.

We also haven't threaded the line through the holes in the metal frame so I'll leave that until Mr Opoes can come home early one day and we'll work on that together. I won't take too many photo's of that process as it'll be boring. I do a before and after which I'll share with you later in the week when it's all finished. Mr Opoes and I realised last night after dinner that getting the clothesline to this stage would not have be possible without Grandpa's help and skills. So thank you grandpa for putting in our clothesline we will get lots of use out of the clotheshorseline for years to come.


Friday, 12 October 2012

Time for me...........

So my baby is about to TURN ONE in a weeks time and as a family we are about to head into the next phase of parenting. In a way I'm really excited to see how Quinlan grows, how his personality will develop and more importantly how he'll interact with his brother and sister's. However, the one thing that I've been thinking about during these last few weeks is that it's about time I lose all the extra weight I've gained.
You see I've punished my body, I haven't looked after it and I've just taken it for granted. I had three pregnancies in 38 months and that takes a toll on you, your relationships and your emotional well being. Being a mum is the best thing I've ever done, I love staying at home with the kids and just watching them, listening to Mackenna sing her beautiful songs, watching Viveca follow Mackenna around the place trying very hard to be like her big sister, Caelan trying to show everyone how independent, big and grown up he is and then Quinlan moving around at lightening spreed getting into everything BUT always watching and learning. Being a parent is one of the few things I've stuck at. I am known for starting things but never finishing them. I have a brand new house to prove it, after four months of living here I still haven't unpacked everything and the car isn't even close of getting into the garage.
During the recent school holiday's I spent and entire day at home all by myself trying to work through some of the boxes that still needed unpacking. During this very quiet time I got to thinking about how I was going to start looking after myself so that I could be a fitter, a happier mother and to work towards improving my diabetic control so that it's back to were it was prior to falling pregnant with Quinlan.
February 2013 will be my time to celebrate 20 years of being a type one diabetic, since my diagnosis things have changed greatly but I'm still not in the drivers seat when it comes to knowing and doing everything correctly. So long story short I have decided to lose some weight, how much I'm not sure as I haven't weighted myself and frankly I'm too scared to. What I have decided to do is to see if I can drop a dress size once I've achieved this then I might think about getting on those scales.
Today is the first day of my weight lose journey. I have decided to use a food plan that takes all the guess work out of it for me. I'm starting off having 5 days worth of food delivered which will total 1200 calories a day. After doing this for a while I'll try to incorporate some exercise into my routine and then from there I should be able to improve and change things as the weight drops off.
So far I have eaten strawberry yoghurt and muesli for breakfast which is a world first. Although I've never had strawberry yoghurt before I was 110% sure I'd hate it and I didn't. Lunch was a turkey salad, fruit and a cup of tea which was also really good. What I like most so far is I'm still getting to choose what I want an I'm not been forced into having to eat what's written down for the day.
So fingers crossed I have some success doing this because my poor neglected body needs it and so do my kids. I want to be able to run around and play with them especially Quinlan because he has so much energy. I'm also thinking that maybe I should change my hair style BUT I might wait a while to do that to.
We'll see how the diet goes first.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

5 Minute Craft Project.

The other day as I was packing one of the many boxes that still need unpacking I came across my cake stand. I was really happy about finding it because Quinlan's First Birthday is coming up next week and having the stand will allow me to ice all of his cake instead of missing sections so that I can transfer it to a plate. I gave it a wipe over and then sat it on my kitchen bench for a couple of hours.
Sorry for the poor quality photo's I used my mobile.

I had previously cleared all the clutter off the top of the kitchen benches and they needed to be dressed a little it pretty the area up. I knew that on the benches near the oven I had to keep my utensil container and the knife block so I was only left with the island bench to use for my cake stand. Above my island bench is three orange pendant lights and when turned on they give off an orange hue, which at night is nice especially if you want to spend time talking with your significant other.
Now with four children I didn’t have much time to think about how I was going to spruce up the cake stand so I left it until the following day as Mr Opoes was taking all four kids out to a Lego display. Not long after they left I remembered that I’d bought some Washi Tape a couple of months prior to moving into our new house. So I grab my supply of tape and I sat down with the cake stand and tape to see which one worked best.
As soon as I opened up the package I found this cute orange washi tape that was 10mm wide. This size was perfect for the cake stand as the plates rim was about 5mm wide so it worked well. I lay the stand on its side and then I wrapped the washi tape around the rim and hey presto an instant make over.
Again another bad mobile phone photograph BUT if you look
closely you can see the orange colour around the rim of the cake stand.
The great thing about the washi tape is that if you make a mistake you can pull it up and re-stick onto the stands surface. When I was happy with how it looked I stuck the remaining tape under the plate so that it wasn’t visible.
Now I had to test it out to see if it worked and I’m pleased to stay that with a quick wipe of a damp clothes the plate stand was clean and the washi tape was still in place. This was a quick and fun project so I’m looking for other things that I can decorate.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Try Something New Tuesday # 2

A Killer Mac 'n' Cheese...
Jamie's lovely looking picture that's
styled beautifully.
Pull up and chair, sit down and join me in a bowl of Jamie Oliver's version of mac 'n' cheese. I've started doing this series of weekly recipe blogs so that as a family we could start trying the beautiful photographed recipes that I see on Pinterest all the time. I'm also hoping to expand the horizons of my fussy children and encourage them to try things that they deem to be horrible.
With this series I'm hoping it helps increase the number of recipes I can use in the future. Jamie Oliver's killer mac 'n' cheese won't be something you eat all the time especially as it's not great in the nutritional department. Now I'll warn you that my pictures won't come close to the one that the stylist have produced for Jamie. The reason for this is because the kids were so hungry that I only had the opportunity to get the one picture. I also made a couple of changes because some of the items were expensive or I didn't have them on hand. Also this meal feeds 8 so you may like to make changes if the quantities won't work for you.
A Killer Mac 'n' Cheese
45g butter
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 litre skim milk
600g dried macaroni
8 tomatoes or 400g tin diced tomatoes
150g freshly grated Cheddar cheese
100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 big handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs (can use dried if you don't have any)
olive oil
Optional Extras:
a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce
a grating of nutmeg
1. Bet a large pot of salted water on to boil. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, when melted add the flour and turn the heat up to medium. Stir all the time until you get something that looks like a paste - this is your roux.
2. Add the sliced garlic - these will caramelise like toffee in the roux. Keep cooking, stirring until golden and the garlic is nice and sticky. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce.
3. Bring the mixture to the boil, turn it down to a low heat and leave it to simmer, stirring occasionally.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas 7.
5. Add the macaroni to the pot of boiling water and cook it according to the directions on the packet.
6. Meanwhile, either roughly chop the tomatoes on a board and season them well with salt and pepper. If using the tin tomatoes drain most of the liquid and season with salt and pepper.
7. Drain the macaroni and add it to the roux. Give it a good stir and then take it off the heat. Add your grated cheeses, tomatoes and any of the optional extras.
8. This is the most important step you now need to work on the flavour. TASTE IT and season it until it's hitting the right spot. You'll want your mixture to be slightly too wet as it'll thicken up when it's in the oven, you can add a splash of water if its needed.
9. Transfer your mixture to a deep earthenware or ovenproof casserole dish. Bake it for 30 minutes in the oven, you'll know its ready when its golden, bubbling and crispy.
10 While the macaroni is in the oven, put your fresh breadcrumbs into a pan with a few drizzles of olive oil over a medium heat. Stir the breadcrumbs until they are crunchy. Remove from the heat, once the macaroni is out of the oven sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the dish. Alternatively if using dried breadcrumbs you can mix them with a little cheddar cheese and the sprinkle this over the macaroni prior to it going into the oven.
11. Serve either on its own or if you want a healthier element serve with a green salad.

Told you that my photo was B O R I N G.

The kids ate everything on their plates when I served this. Only one of them picked out the tomato which was great as none of them like eating tomatoes insert big smile here. I didn't use the breadcrumbs as I didn't think the dish needed it but I did add Worcestershire sauce just to give it a little kick. The kids asked to keep this one and they want to have it at least once a week but I'm going to keep it for maybe a monthly meal or every two months depending on how many other recipes become favourites.
So the next recipe we are going to do is an Impossible Pie and this is a request that come from my comment box. Now there are quite a number of sweet flavoured Impossible Pies and although they all look nice I'm going to try a savoury one. So I hope you can come back next Tuesday to see how that turns out. Remember I'd love to get your suggestions or ideas on what to do next so just leave me a message in the comment section and I'll get working on it. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you next week.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Date Night

Flying through the air.
Back in September I was over at Naomi's blog Seven Cherubs were she shared a new family tradition that they had started with their seven children. The idea was simple, easy to achieve, it created memories while also been very relevant to my little family. Naomi said that "we have always been mindful of our children growing up in a large family and try hard to make time in our schedule to prioritise our spending time with them. It was from this thinking that we decided to start date nights with each of our children." (this is a direct quote from Naomi's blog)
This was so relevant to us and our family, I'd recently noticed that I was relying on Caelan to do more and more of the babysitting for me. Every afternoon I was giving him Quinlan to entertain while I rushed around trying to get dinner organised before Mr Opoes got home. Caelan is a good hearted boy and although he didn't really want to babysit he would do it to help out. With Caelan helping me his homework wasn't been done until after dinner and this meant that bedtime was getting later and later.
So after reading Naomi's post I rang Mr Opoes who if I remember rightly was interstate and I ran the idea past him to see if he'd be interested in doing something like this with our kids. We decided to give it a go starting the first Saturday of October and we even held a hat draw so that the kids got to see how we picked the order that the date night would go and to show them we were been far. Know we have four children so that should mean that we'll be going out ever Saturday BUT because as Quinlan isn't quiet twelve months old he'll get time to spend visiting grandma and grandpa. The other change we're going to make is that we'll only do three dates a month so that grandma and grandpa can still do things that they want or need to do.
So Mr Opoes and I had our first date with Mackenna. She decided that she wanted to go to a park to have a play. We've made these dates 2 hours long so that we have time to talk, laugh and just have some one on one time with each of them however, it's also a good amount of time so that grandma and grandpa don't get left with three children all day. We have made our date time during the lunchtime period so this allows the child to choose to have lunch at a special place or to do something else they like. 
Now we had to tweak Mackenna's date a little as we were running late due to have a tradesman come an give us a quote for some landscaping. Due to not organising any food prior to leaving we called into a place of her choosing so we could grab a quick bit to eat, then it was off to the park. The one thing that Mr Opoes and I noticed straight away with Mackenna was that her voiced changed when she spoke to us. Mackenna has a tendency to talk like a baby at times and she can be very moody if she doesn't get her own way. For the two hours we spent with her she talked nicely, she was polite and she seemed grown up. We had a lovely time, I real enjoyed the time we had speaking, it just melted my heart to see Mackenna smile from ear to ear and her laughter was infectious.

She smiled like this the entire day and we could see how much she enjoyed herself.
Next week it's Caelan's turn and he is still in the process of deciding of thinking about what to do. He wants to do so many things and he's forgetting that he'll get to have another turn in four weeks time. It's funny because Mackenna already knows what she wants to do.
So to I want to say a big thanks to Naomi for sharing your family tradition with us. We've decided to use your idea in the hope that the time spent with them individually will allow us to reconnect with them now so that as they grow they'll feel comfortable talking to us about anything. I'm hoping that the kids continue to enjoy doing these activities with us and that life doesn't get in the way of us spending the time with them.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Special Fairy Cakes

Pretty Dancing Fairies
A Fairy Dance.
Dance along to the fairy beat,
wave your wand and tap your feet.
Dance along as the fairies sing,
twirl around in a ring.
Dance along as the fairies play,
point your toes then fly away.
This little song is one of Mackenna's favourites and you will often see her dancing around the house with her fairy friends which Mr Opoes and myself can't see. Caelan is also on the outer now because he's becoming to old and fairies don't like boys according to Mackenna. This whole fairy thing started when Mackenna bought herself a fairy kit just over twelve months ago. She talks all the time about her fairy friends and when they will be arriving in our garden which we have to design, price and construct first before they can even think of move in.
So as I'd previously promised the girls I'd make Fairy Cakes with Mackenna and Viveca. Both girls were really excited and they rushed about going to the toilet, washing their hands and trying to find something safe to stand on so that they could reach the mixing bowl. They took it in turns to put all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and I was the safety officer.
The girl's looking very happy with their efforts.
Fairy Cakes
125g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup sultanas
1/2 cup self-raising flour
icing sugar to decorate
12 paper cases
1. Ask an adult to turn the oven onto 180°C.
2. Mix the butter and caster sugar together using an electric beater.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well.
4. Stir in the sultanas and then mix in the flour.
5. If the mixture is too thick add a splash of milk to make it runnier.
6. Place the 12 paper cases inside the muffin tin. Spoon equal amounts of cake mixture into each one.
7. Ask an adult to put your fairy cakes into the oven and let the bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
8. To decorate, sprinkle the top of the cakes with icing sugar.
The hardest part for the girls was waiting for them to cool down. I decided to have the cakes for dessert as we were having a meatless meal and usually the kids tend to complain that they haven't eaten enough. Everyone loved their fairy cake, Mr Opoes gets to take one to work and Quinlan also loved his cake. I was able to save four of the fairy cakes so the kids have something for their morning tea tomorrow.

The finished Fairy Cakes ready to be eaten by my Hungry Hippo's

These fairy cakes aren't bad for only 5 ingredients. If you want to change them up a little bit you could try to add other dried fruit instead of using the sultanas. I'm thinking that next time the girls want to make them I'll try using dried cranberries and see how the kids like them.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Resin Jewellery.

For Christmas 2010 Mr Opoes purchased me a 'Red Balloon Experience' and I had 12 months to use it. I was really excited to use my experience but I got pregnant, sold a house, moved into a rental, bought a block of land, signed a contract to build a new house, had a baby and moved again. So with all this going on I quickly forgot about the Christmas gift that Mr Opoes bought for me. Each experience is valid for 12 months so you can imagine surprise when I found my voucher a few hours before it expired. I jumped on their website and after a few minutes of searching I came across a jewellery making workshop that used resin to create three bracelets. Not really knowing what resin was I was just happy to come away from the experience with three possible Christmas gifts for my sisters and my mother so I was happy to pay the additional money.
Originally I was going to book myself into one of the classes been held in March but unfortunately the only date available was Caelan's birthday and I also thought that Quinlan might not have lasted the three hours without a feed and we couldn't give him any food because he would have only been 5 months old. So just before we moved into the new house I looked again on the Red Balloon website and I chose the last weekend in September to do my lesson. For everyone who knows me I am really good at forgetting things so I was pleasantly surprised to receive a telephone call to remind me about my upcoming class.
So Kylie was our lovely teacher and there were only six people in the class so we could ask questions and get her help when needed. Kylie did a run through of all the steps involved to pour a bracelet and ring and surprisingly all you needed to do was mix your colour into the 'A' container until you were happy with the overall colour. The next step was to mix 'B' for about 15 seconds or until it warms up and then you pour it into the mould. Most of the other girls knew what colours they were going to use prior to arriving so I took my time making my decisions because once you've poured you moulds you can't make any changes.

The first bracelet mould.
I was really confident picking my bracelet and ring designs, choosing the colour I wanted and mixing the solutions together. The part that scared me the most was pouring the warm liquid into the mould, the gap was really small and I didn't want to ruin it as we didn't get another opportunity to do it all again. I chose to do a purple pearl colour however I didn't realise that the pearl powder would lighten the colour. I was still really happy with the colour and how it turned out.
The first ring mould.
To create a pearl effect you use as little or as much of the pearl powder as you want.
The pearl mix comes in a silver and gold tint I went with the silver.

You can see  how I over poured the ring, I had
a big job trying to fix my mistake.
The only negative part of the class was that I wish I hadn't poured too much resin into the moulds because after you take the piece out of its mould you have to use sandpaper to get rid of the rough edges. I quickly realised this after over pouring the resin into my ring mould as it was really difficult to take it out and then I had to spend ages working on fixing it up.
This is my first finished bracelet and I'm really happy with it.
I got a little creative with the last bracelet and ring and I decided to use two colours. I tried to mix an opaque colour with a translucent colour. I ended up with it all been opaque but I was really happy with how it turned out. One of the ladies had a bit of orange resin left over so she poured it into one of the moulds I had and then she let me have it. I was shocked because I really liked the colour and as she had already made herself a bracelet and ring I thought she'd add it to her collection. I really like my new ring now all I have to do is find something to wear with it.
My two toned bracelet.
This bracelet is a cream colour and a deep pearly purple colour. I love how it's nearly a 50 50 split of colour and all I had to do to create this effect was to lean it up against something on an angle and wait 5 minutes before I started mixing up the next lot of resin. I started with the cream first and then I went onto the purple which had a hint of violet added to give the colour some depth. And the last picture is of my three rings. The first is a translucent orange, the next one is to go with my two toned bracelet so its cream with a small amount of the pearly purple added and lastly is my nearly translucent pearly purple ring.

My three new rings and no one else has anything like them.

So now I have a few accessories to wear when I go out. All that's left to do is to find somewhere a little up market to wear them, I think they are just too good to wear grocery shopping. One day I'd love to make some more resin jewellery but I think I'll wait until all the kids are at school. If you have the opportunity to make some resin jewellery you won't be upset with the outcome.