Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter happenings

On the weekend, Ellie had an Easter egg hunt with some of her friends. It was going to be in a park, but miserable rainy weather caused a last minute change of plans and we de-camped to a house instead. The hunt didn't suffer at all due to some ingenuity and the general age of the huntees meant they didn't know any better. In fact, I think the parents enjoyed it just as much - there was plenty of lovely afternoon tea to consume, photo taking opportunities, conversation with other adults (bliss!), and helping our small people to find eggs and play nicely together.

Putting on her serious look
I don't think Ellie is at the age where she can appreciate chocolate yet, so yesterday, while she was napping, I helped myself to some of her loot. What is it about Easter chocolate that makes it taste so much better than regular chocolate? Those simple, solid little Cadbury eggs are pure evil wrapped in coloured foil. I took to Facebook to confess my guilt about raiding my child's egg stash, and I was assured by other parents that I should take full advantage while she couldn't count how many were missing. I suppose that is one way to look at it. After her nap, I was on the phone for no longer than 5 minutes, and when I'd hung up, Ellie had climbed onto a chair and was reaching for the bowl of her eggs on the dining table. She also figured out how to peel the foil off and discovered the chocolate deliciousness inside. I suppose that is pay back for eating her stash. We then had to deal with a child on what can only be described as a sugar high come bedtime. So not fun.
Instead of giving Ellie more chocolate at Easter (because I know that her grandparents will have her well covered in that regard!), I took advantage of one of her day time naps to whip up a pair of bunny flannelette pyjamas (using my lounge pant method) and a matching drawstring bag. This cute little set took me about half an hour to complete and I was able to raid my fabric stash so I didn't cost me anything except some time and effort. I think being able to sew some basic clothing items is marvellous, especially because as she grows, Ellie doesn't really fit standard sizing. Her legs are so long but her waist so small that it's near impossible to get pants that don't show her ankles yet stay up at the waist. I'm sure day care think she has no clothes as I'm constantly using nappy pins to hold her pants up! Hopefully these pyjama bottoms do the trick and keep her warm at nights!

Flannelette bunny cuteness
Have you started eating those chocolate eggs yet? Do you do egg alternatives?

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's in my kitchen... April 2014

I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event.

In my kitchen is...

A delicious (organic and Australian!) almond and coconut milk that I bought on a whim. I don't drink dairy milks, and this one felt just a little bit special and decadent. It tastes it too, and I recognise all the ingredients in the list, which is something I always appreciate those times that I'm too lazy to make my own milks!

Organic almond and coconut goodness
Ingredients I understand!
In my kitchen is...

Lumberjack cake, something I got a strong hankering to make so I did. Apples, dates, coconut... all in moist delicious cake form? Yes please!

Full of apple and date goodness!
In my kitchen is...

Home grown goodness. Tiny tomatoes bursting with lots of organic sweetness and real tomato flavour. Dragonfruit lovingly gifted to me by my mother in law who knows how much I love them and saves the big tasty ones for me (I offered to share with Ellie but she turned her nose up... more for me!)

Nothing beats home grown

In my kitchen is...

A gorgeous Johnson Brother's platter, which unfortunately isn't here to stay. It's a gift for a friend at her kitchen tea. She doesn't read this blog so I can share and it was too pretty not to be photographed!

Johnson Brother's platter
In my kitchen is...

Lots of Nutella goodness, courtesy of a project I recently took part in. Aren't these little jars the sweetest thing? The coin is for scale comparison purposes. I think all things are cute when they are small.

In my kitchen is...

My two furry companions who like to be constantly underfoot. They really are efficient little hoovers, and will hover hopefully in the event that scraps fall to the floor. Ellie takes full advantage of this and will purposefully throw food on the ground when she is full or doesn't like it.

What is in your kitchen?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Recipe: Lumberjack cake

Recently for some reason, I was really craving a lumberjack cake. Now, I don't know where I learnt about it, or even what kicked off this intense need, but I knew that I needed to make it. Problem was, I had no idea what a lumberjack cake was, or even if I could veganise it! I think I just heard the name somewhere and thought it sounded delicious! A quick google showed me that yes, it looked tasty and a vegan version was definitely possible. Added bonus, I even had the ingredients to hand. It's like it was meant to be...

Now readers, you know that I'm not one to follow recipes exactly, so I just needed someone to give me a general idea about what to do and I'd be off. I found that here. So without further ado, here's my lumberjack cake recipe, inspired by Vegan in Melbourne.

  • 2 apples (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup of dried dates (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nuttelex 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup apple puree (or egg replacer of your choice - you may need to adjust liquids)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour (or plain flour and baking powder mix equivalent)
For the topping:
  • Equal amounts (I used 1/4 cup) of: almond milk, maple syrup, coconut, nuttelex
  1. In a bowl, put chopped dates, apples and bicarb. Pour boiling water over the top and leave to soak for 10 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  3. In another bowl, combine nuttelex, coconut oil, apple puree, vanilla and sugar. 
  4. When apples have soaked for 10 mins add to sugar mixture, add flour and mix gently to combine. Note that the mixture is very sloppy right now. 
  5. Put into cake tin and bake 45 minutes.
  6. At 45 minutes, combine the topping ingredients. Microwave them gently if you need to melt the nuttelex down a bit. Pour straight over the top of the cake and bake a further 20 minutes.

I only have silicon bakeware so I sat it on another tray for stability when moving in and out of the oven
This cake is moist, delicious and even better the next day when the flavours have had a chance to develop. Yum! Keeps for about a week, if it lasts that long...

Full of apple and date goodness!
Have you done any baking lately?

A month of Nutella

It's been a month since Soup sent me a Nutella pack, and tasked me with using it in delicious and healthy ways at breakfast time.

I have fond memories of those little snack packs of Nutella from my childhood. I've no doubt after these past few weeks, Ellie is also a Nutella fan. Probably if I'm truthful, I've also reconnected with Nutella and fallen in love all over again too.

We've had it on pancakes, on bagels, in chia pudding, as a dipping sauce for fruit, as well as on scones, baked into muffins, and, as a special tribute to the1337mum who won the Nutella competition, spread atop an apple cake (sorry, I couldn't bring myself to use bananas).

I think it's safe to say we 'heart' Nutella here!
You can read my other Nutella posts here and here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Amigurumi stars

I recently came across this pattern online for amigurumi stars and I was immediately intrigued. They seemed simple enough and looked like a fun way to use up some of my yarn scraps.


A few YouTube searches later to freshen up my admittedly very rusty crochet skills and I was off. My  first formless blob didn't leave me with much confidence.

First attempt
However, a fortuitous visit from my crochet guru friend had me back on the right path and enthused anew, and my second attempts were better. Improved enough that I deigned to put eyes on them anyway.
Getting better
I had initially thought I might make enough to create a garland or a mobile for Ellie, but I think when I finish my current one, I'm retiring from crochet again. I don't even want to think about the number of times I have had to rip out and redo stitches here! Each little star that I have is definitely made with love.

Have you ever seen something and then when you tried to make it, maybe didn't quite 'nail it'? Please share!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Transitioning to a big girl bed

Recently, we took the side off Ellie's cot, in preparation for moving her into a 'big girl bed' sometime down the track. We did it on a weekend, so she had time when we were home to get used to it. We laid pillows on the ground just in case she fell out, and made a fuss so she knew it was an important and fun milestone.

The cot, minus a side
It's worked out pretty well considering it was a random, spur of the moment decision. For maybe the first week, there were no falls out of the bed. Ellie would wake up around 2am and the only thing that would console her would be moving into bed with us for snuggles. Mr Fork would fall blissfully back asleep and I would have a toddler breathing into my neck and kicking me in the ribs until the alarm went off.

After that, we re-evaluated the change and helped her to manage it better:
  • We reinstalled her nightlight in her room. Previously she would have one that switched off after 15 minutes, but the new setup gives her an additional light that stays on all night.
  • Instead of closing her door all the way, we left it cracked a little so if she wants to, she can get herself out of bed and come to us.
  • Instead of lifting her into bed at nap and sleep time, she was a big girl and encouraged to climb in and out by herself.
We've had two falls since then, as she gets more confident with the new boundaries, but she fell onto the pillows and no harm done. She also sleeps right through and loves that she can get up and bring a favourite toy into bed with her if she wants to. 

Her abacus is currently toy of the moment
On the down side, I've learnt to dread the little pitter patter of her feet as she slides out of bed and runs into our room. I hear a little voice say 'mama?' before a smelly security blanket is thrown on me and my determined toddler tries to hoist herself onto the bed for cuddles at an ungodly hour of the morning.

To be honest, though, I treasure those early morning cuddles.

How did you start to move your child to a bigger bed?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nutella breakfast-palooza GIVEAWAY

As one would expect when given a large amount of Nutella to experiment with, it's been featuring quite heavily in our morning diets and play dates lately. We've tried to use it in new and inventive ways, while attempting to stick to my 'breakfast should be relatively healthy' mantra.

Here are a couple of things we've been eating:

Breakfast bagels. I've been tweaking my bagel recipe lately, and I think this is my best batch yet! I substituted some of the flour with wheatgerm for extra fibre, and replaced the olive oil with coconut oil for a subtle taste enhancement. Just quietly, they're delicious, and even more so served fresh out of the oven with some Nutella spread on top! Some of my Instagram followers are all for baking Nutella into a bagel batch and I admit I'm intrigued...

Pancakes. No pictures as they were all consumed as soon as they left the pan. Thanks so much Ellie and Mr Fork! Cooked to perfection then stuffed with a variety of things. Nutella and strawberry. Nutella and banana. Nutella, strawberry coulis and slivered almonds. Nutella and coconut shreds. My personal favourite was the Nutella, coulis and almond combination.

As a sort of ready made fondue for fruit. We've used it successfully with slices of pears, peaches and strawberries. My favourite however has to be with dragonfruit. I'm lucky enough that my MIL grows them so when she has excess, I get them. I do have to compete with Ellie for them though... but, Yum!

Dragonfruit and Nutella. Odd combination, but it works!
Layered into chia pudding. This delicious looking concoction is chia seeds soaked overnight with almond milk and a little vanilla essence. Layered with some of fresh strawberries and Nutella and garnished with coconut. This is packed full of energy and kept me going right up until lunch time with no snacks at all.

Chia pudding
Chia pudding

Now, it's no fun me talking about Nutella if I can't share the love! The nice people at Soup have offered a prize to one lucky reader. In the pack will be:
  • 30 x 30 gram Nutella jars
  • 1 large Nutella jar
  • 1 x $50 Woolworths voucher
Use the Rafflecopter widget so I can track your entry, and leave a comment on the blog telling me about the novel, delicious and healthy ways you would use Nutella at breakfast time!

The winner's email address will be provided to Soup to enable the team to arrange the delivery of the prize.

One (1) winner will be selected through a random drawing from all eligible entries after the contest closes to win. All entries must be received on or before March 21 2014 at 12:00AM (GMT +10). The winner will be notified by email. Winner will have 24 hours to claim the giveaway after initial notification. If winner fails to claim within 24 hours, an alternative winner may be selected. 

No purchase required to enter or win. This contest runs from March 14, 2014 through March 21, 2014 at 12:00AM (GMT +10).

This contest is only open to Australian residents. Prizes won by minors will be awarded to their parent or legal guardian on their behalf. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

**Disclaimer: I was supplied the Nutella to try and review, but all opinions are my own.