Monday, 30 July 2012

10 Things - Birthday Parties!

We went to two parties this weekend, both parties for 4-year-old girls. One was an indoors party. The other wasn't. One was themed - a 'pat a rabbit' party. The other wasn't. Both were held on large blocks; 'rabbits' on 5 acres, the other on 2.5 acres.

With these experiences fresh in my mind, here is my list of....

10 Things I learnt this weekend about Birthday parties!
  1. A themed and highly organised party of children's activities is not necessarily a better way;
  2. A themed party can end up with the Birthday child being inundated with themed presents - rabbit necklace, rabbit shirt, rabbit slippers.....!
  3. Two parties in one weekend is definitely enough!
  4. You can't have too many healthy party foods (dare I say 'rabbit food'?) and can have too much cake;
  5. Four pony rides does not decrease a child's interest in horses;
  6. An indoor party when the house is on 5 acres is perhaps not the best use of space;
  7. Some fancy dress rabbit suits for adults have a tendency to look decidedly demonic;
  8. A grown man in a rabbit suit is not cute in the eyes of hysterical four-year-olds;
  9. A very effective way to clear a room is to put a grown man in a rabbit suit!
  10. I am allergic to rabbits!

What is your idea of the best birthday party for kids?

Sam xx

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Party Food + Hidden Vegies!!

It is birthday party season in these here parts, and when a tray of food is requested or required to assist the party hostess, I always make these - Pizza Rolls.

I love them! They meet all my essential kids' party food requirements:

- they are easy to prepare beforehand, freeze, and then reheat
- you are always left with an empty plate (adults like them too!)
- they are low in fat (provided you use reduced fat ingredients, of course!)

and, best of all in my mind,

they contain Hidden Vegies!!!

In the 5 years I have been making these I haven't been following a recipe but an idea a friend gave me. These amounts of ingredients are what work for me - by experimenting with amounts and different fillings, you can adapt this to work for you too. One piece of advice about the cheese, though - don't put in too much or it just melts out of the roll and onto your baking sheet or oven floor! Trust me!! 

Pizza Rolls

makes 24 rolls

3 sheets reduced fat puff pastry
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce/ketchup*
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
1 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
2/3 cup grated mushrooms
1 1/2 cups grated reduced fat cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Without removing the plastic backing, thaw the pastry just enough so it is no longer solid - you will need to roll it up, so the pastry can't be too hard or too soft. Place one of the pastry sheets on a chopping board.

Combine the tomato paste and sauce in a small bowl. Spread the pastry sheet with 1 heaped tablespoon of the tomato sauce mix, leaving about 2-3 cm of the upper edge of the pastry free of sauce, and 1cm on the lower edge, as can be seen in the photo below.

Take about 1/2 cup of grated carrot and spread it evenly over the tomato sauce.

Take about 1/2 cup of the grated zucchini, squeeze out the excess liquid into a spare bowl, and then spread it over the carrot. Follow this with some of the grated mushroom.

Finish with about 1/2 cup of the grated cheddar cheese and use your hand to flatten it all down, still leaving the upper and lower edges of the pastry free from filling, as in the photo below.

Now it's time to start rolling your pastry. I use the backing paper to help me, removing it as I roll. It takes a bit of practice but it is possible!

Once the roll is complete, pinch along the edge to stick it to the wall of the roll so the whole thing doesn't come apart in the oven and spill out every where! You could also use a pastry brush to apply lightly beaten egg along the join to stick the pastry but, given the number of children with food allergies, I prefer just to pinch it together.

Using a serrated knife, cut the roll in half, cut these pieces in half again, and then once more. You should end up with 8 pieces. Place these on their sides evenly spaced on the lined baking sheet.

Repeat these steps for the second and third pieces of pastry.

Once all the pieces are placed on the baking sheet, bake in the oven for about 14 minutes or until golden and cooked.

Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before eating. Yum!!

Now, if you want to freeze them for a later date, only bake them for 11 or 12 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. When you want to reheat, remove them from your freezer and thaw to room temperature before placing in a 200°C fan forced oven for about 6 minutes or so.

Yum Yum Yum!!!

Pizza Rolls, anyone?

Sam xx

 * I like to use my homemade spicy tomato sauce

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Apple Butter Cake

One of my favourite jobs to help with in the garden is pruning the fruit trees - and that's what we did this weekend.

Yesterday we picked the last of the Lady Williams apples, stripped the remaining apple tree leaves, and pruned the branches ready for the new fruiting season.

And today, after we juiced the apples, I made Apple Butter Cake. Yum!

Apple Butter Cake

185g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cloudy apple juice
1 Red Delicious apple (I used Pink Lady)
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fanforced). Grease and line a 20cm springform pan.

Beat butter, vanilla and caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Gently stir through flours and apple juice in two batches until combined. Spread the mixture into cake pan.

Cut apple into quarters and remove core. Slice into very thin strips. Place apple slices in two circles around cake so that they overlap each other. Make sure that the centre is well covered. Sprinkle apples with combined demerara sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in oven for about 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning out.

Serves 8

( Recipe from P41, The Weekend Australian Magazine July 23-24 2005)

Did you have a beautiful weekend?

Sam xx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Teeny Tiny Knitted Bunny

Poor Miss J. It's her turn today.

And because she is sick, and because she left her favourite toy rabbit at the big shops a few weeks ago and hasn't quite recovered from the loss, I made her one of Little Cotton Rabbit's Teen Tiny Toys.

Little Cotton Rabbit provides an excellent photo tutorial to make these little critters. It always amazes me how the smallest of changes in the placement of facial features can change the entire character of a small toy - mine has turned out to look rather portly and would definitely benefit from a more balanced head to body ratio!

But the best thing is that Miss J hasn't let go of him since I gave him to her.

And she's smiling!


Sam xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Kid on the couch

It was so cute........

Miss M, trying to keep warm on the couch, put over her the closest thing to a blanket that she could find - the unfinished hexagon blanket.
So cute, so cuddly......

It was only later this afternoon that I realised she wasn't feeling well....

and about 15 miutes ago that my poor girl had the vomits!


Monday, 16 July 2012

A little knitting WIP sneaky peek!

My Bendigo Woollen Mills order arrived. Hooray!

And may I just say how lovely this yarn is - 
Luxury 4ply

Sam xx

P.S. Flu = Bleh!!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nightmare Help

In Maxabella’s most recent post, she writes about how much trouble her 8yo son is having trying to get to sleep. He’s scared.
In recent months Miss M has been having the same difficulties. She has been telling me about her dreams/nightmares. She has been telling her teachers.  She told her classmates for her news item. But her nightmares continued.
I talked with a GP about the problem but didn’t get much joy there. It was when I spoke with Miss M’s teacher that I remembered something.
Worry People
Fifteen years ago, a member of my family died suddenly. I was devastated and went straight to a wonderful friend of mine who is a school psychologist, and she threw me into the car and took me to the Oxfam shop where she bought me a gift; “Worry People”.
The Worry People are teeny tiny dolls from South America in a teeny tiny bag.  The idea is that you tell these tiny people your worries, thereby giving the responsibility to them. You then put them back into their little bag, put it under your pillow and that allows you to go to sleep.
It worked then. Maybe it will work with Miss M?
It has,  along with some other strategies; soft gentle music* to sleep with, a new big cuddly toy to grip on to, and special bedtime stories from Nightlights books, suggested by her teacher. We have been bad dream free for two weeks now and Miss M is calmer, more settled and doesn’t mention them, except for when we change her pillow slip – we have to make sure that the Worry People are safe, after all!
And happily, we alre all sleeping soundly now. I hope you and yours are too!

Sam xx

What are some of the things you have done to help with your child’s night time fears?

 * Mostly Enya - not my personal fave but it works for Miss M!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Miss M makes

It was decided. "The Dolly With The Big Bosom" did not have enough night-time attire and this situation was in dire need of a solution!

So a determined Miss M copied one of Dolly's dresses to make a pattern, pinned the templates onto the chosen fabric, and cut out the nightie fabric pieces.

She then gave it to me to sew. An honour!

And to conclude, a fashion parade - Of course!

Ooh la la!!

Sam xx

What are you doing with your children during these school holidays?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Party Bag?

Treasure Hunt!
The girls and I went to a 5th Birthday party on Saturday. It had all the usual birthday attractions for the girls; lots of kids to play with, party games (in particular, a brilliant treasure hunt around the property), the sugar minefield that is the party food table, and the birthday cake, of course!

And to finish it all off, they got to take home a party bag.

The only trouble is, Miss E also brought home a party bug - a nice vomity one!

That's not quite what I had in mind for the start to the school holidays!!

Sam xx

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Creative Space - Olearia Cardigan Ta-dah!!

Miss E's cardi is finished!

Pattern :: Olearia cardigan version 2 by Georgie Hallam aka Tikki on ravelry
Size :: 3
Yarn:: Tosh DK Oceana, approximately 320m - so very soft!
Needles :: 3.75mm and 4mm

And I like this Tikkis' pattern so much, I am checking out her others for future reference.

However, my next planned project will be a birthday gift but, given that the person to be on the receiving end reads this blog*, I can't give any details as yet. Rest assured, I have already chosen the pattern and ordered the wool, even before I had completed the cardi - as I usually do! I get so excited about the next project that I sometimes have trouble finishing the first one!!

In the meantime, while I wait for the new wool to arrive, I have picked up the Hexagon Blanket again, crocheting while watching the 'Fast Bikes'.... er.... Tour de France. As if I'm not already sleep deprived......

More Creative Spaces here.

Sam xx

*thereby narrowing the recipient possibilities considerably!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Memorable Mothering Moment #729..... the delicate balancing act that is helping a child do an emergency number 2 at the park – although, what makes this particular incident memorable is not the act itself, but what happened to the car keys that were sharing my pocket with the tissue I was rummaging around for.....

What to do? One hand was stopping the crouching child from over-balancing, the other hand was still in the aforementioned pocket, and my line of sight was focused squarely on the keys....
...wondering how on earth I was going to get out of this one??*

Sam xx
*Leaves! Leaves, plastic bags and LOTS of hand sanitiser. And a fair bit of hysterical laughter!!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

One of the best things about my life is that I get to watch my daughters grow up and be with them as they experience many firsts.

If they let you!

Miss M went to her first disco on Friday night, put on by her school and suitably age appropriate; it ran from 5.30 to 7pm. Very civilised! Preparations for the event were wonderfully painless; no fashion parades, no hair consultations, only "I want to look pretty". Right! We can do that! Bring out the flashing necklace!!

But when it came to who was to be her chaperone, me or her father, I was dumped!!

And so, with an inner silent sob of sadness, I bid her farewell as she left for the

Her baby days are well and truly behind her. *sob*

Sam xx

By the way, the disco was a great success with lots of excitement and energy, according to G. *grumble*

I can remember my first disco when I was in Year 8 - lots of Kim Wilde and Duran Duran. Can you remember yours?