Father’s Day Reflection

Tomorrow is Father’s Day in Australia. It’ll be my husband’s first Father’s Day and that’s pretty special! The highest source of wisdom on the internet (I kid, it’s just Wikipedia.) says the day is about honouring dads, paternal bonds and the influence of fatherhood in society. Honouring dads. I think that’s a really important thing to do. Male parenting is not often talked about, recognized or thought of as much as motherhood is. I’ve seen male parenting Facebook pages every now and then but compared to the mothering pages out there, there’s barely any! Support for Dads is really important in my opinion. Dads not only have a child to learn but also a new partner… one who is a mother more often than she is a wife on some days. That’s a shitty part of parenting but it’s true – Mark gets swept to the side sometimes and he is left going “hey, what about me!” It’s tough.
O is very lucky to have Mark as a father. He has been nothing but amazing, starting with the day he pulled her out. Yeah, he saw everything! Once her head was out he rolled his sleeves up (literally), and with my next push he lifted her from me and onto my chest. What a magical thing, to be able to say he was the first to hold her (even if it was only for 3 seconds before she was skin to skin with me!). The way Olivia lights up when her father walks in the room is beautiful. 
Dad’s have this weird role where they do the scary (dangerous?) activities with their kids that Mum’s just don’t do. Today was a good example; Mark clipped* a peg onto O’s hand while she was playing with the basket full of them. I would never do that! They do the things they find funny to the poor child! Remember that photo going around Facebook of the dad squishing the child’s face so it looked like a Pug dog? It’s just the Dad’s role. And I’ll never forget the day I first saw him holding O upside down and I freaked out, but she was all smiles, dangling and swinging inverted in the air by the ankles!
My own father is just as special and without him I wouldn’t be half the person I am today. He has done amazing things for me and literally saved my life. So happy Father’s Day to Mark, my father, and all the dads out there, especially the ones who will be waking up to their very first Father’s Day.
I wanted to post a picture of Mark’s gift from O, but in case he reads this post I’ll have to wait and instead share a photo of a drawer holding the wrapped goodies 😉


*Of course it didn’t hurt her

Cacao Nut Slice

This recipe isn’t my own. I’m not sure where it’s come from and who to credit, as my mum once emailed it to me and I’ve been making it every fortnight since! She still makes it regularly too as it’s such a healthy and delicious snack for at home or on the go. It’s kind of like a healthy crunchy muesli bar. It’s a staple snack in our house.
DISCLAIMER! The recipe below contains sugar. I know, I know… smack me on the wrist 😉 I’ve eliminated so much sugar from my diet that I really don’t panic about having 1/2 cup of it in this whole recipe. The slice takes about 2 weeks to eat so if I wanted to justify it, I could get my maths cap on and work out the tiny amount of sugar I’m consuming each day by eating one piece. But, I don’t care. It’s full of healthy nuts and seeds, and the carob and cacao powder pack a punch of nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals too. I eat cacao every day, and you should too! So here is another way to get it into you.
Cacao Nut Slice
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup macadamias, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries*
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup carob powder
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar*
  • 125g butter*
Line a lamington pan with baking paper.
Combine all but the last 3 ingredients in a bowl. 
Place honey, sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and stir over heat until boiling. Simmer, and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Pour it over the dry mix and combine well. Press mixture into the pan and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until browned. Let it cool in the pan before slicing into squares, rectangles, whatever shape you want!
Store in an airtight container in your cupboard. 
* Notes:
You can use sultanas instead of cranberries if you’re on a budget.
You could try using coconut sugar, but I’m yet to test this.
I use Nuttelex instead of butter as I’m dairy free, and sometimes I use half Nuttelex and half coconut oil. I’m not game enough to try 125g of coconut oil, as I’m suspicious it may make the slice too sloppy and fall apart. If you try it, let me know!
If you don’t have cacao and carob powder, you could use 3/4 cup of Milo as that’s what the original recipe calls for.

Complete

This morning I was making breakfast and out of my kitchen window I saw the above image. It made me feel so happy! I stopped whatever I was doing and just stared for a moment. My belly felt butterflies, my mouth was smiling… It felt right. It felt complete. But it’s only a half-assembled second-hand swing set, you say. But it’s a symbol of my dreams having come true, I reply. You see, before I even met hubby I had a dream of being the traditional wife and mum, staying home and cleaning, cooking and playing with the kids. Until they were old enough to go to school, where I’d get a job to fill my days before they came back home. That dream is coming true. It has come true. And the swing set is kind of like a token, a reminder of that dream. This me, in my kitchen window, looking at my child’s swing set in the backyard! The hubby said “It kind of completes the backyard, doesn’t it… It’s given the backyard it’s purpose now.” Spot on, husband! It’s perfect. And I’m not done yet! I want to add a trampoline, a sand pit, a cubby house, more play equipment… and of course a nice new deck, a vegie garden and in many years to come, a dog (we recently adopted ours out). But for now, this sun-faded, incomplete swing set has complete my backyard. How blissful.

After possibly the most challenging week of my parenting life, this weekend hasn’t been much easier. But there is a taste to Spring in the air and I’m going to go enjoy the rest of the day! Hope you will to.

Decorating Plans

I’ve got a case of the decorating itch and I’ve got it bad. We’re on a really tight budget here so we try to do everything to our house ourselves. And it’s what we prefer anyway – it’s fun to do it yourself, and you get the added satisfaction of feeling smug every time you walk past the finished result… or feeling like crap if it turned out horribly! And it makes the project unique, knowing there is no exact replica in any other house.

I don’t consider myself a creative type. But I’m willing to try a few arty projects to save a bit of coin where I can. If I can make and create as good as I bake and cook then we’ll be okay 😉

I’m really keen to try these Mason jars. It’s a simple as painting them and then sanding them back a bit for that rustic worn look.

I don’t know what I’d do with them yet. Use them as a vase for (most likely fake) flowers? In the office like the picture above? Or maybe in the bathroom… One to hold toothbrushes is a good idea. I think I’d probably use them in the kitchen for some cooking utensils as it’s where I spend most my time so it’s where I’d see them most often.

We also have a bit of painting to finish off inside the house still. We started before O was born and never finished. Door frames and window trims mainly. When the weather warms up a bit we will finish that off.

I’ve always loved the atmosphere that string lights give. It makes me think about summer and parties and cicadas in the evening on the deck. I want some string lights for indoors and outdoors, especially on the deck and veranda with summer coming up. Last summer we watched the sunset on most nights, on the front veranda with a drink or even over dinner. And I know I definitely want to string some up in the office under my shelf above my desk.

I’m loving these colour combinations, as well as plain white ones…

All lights pictured are available from Ze Cotton. There are a heap of sellers, designs, colours and types (maybe rattan is more your style?), it’s just  matter of having time to go through them all!

Despite only have one 3 seater lounge in the house, I love cushions. I want to update our lounge with new pillow covers from Nest Home Decor. $40 per cover is pretty affordable. These are just a handful I’m loving:

A local artist and good friend gave me a heap of prints of her paintings. I’m excited to get them frames and thought I may as well frame a couple more images while I’m at it. This one below will look good on our bedroom wall, I purchased it from Etsy also.

I’m excited to get all of these ideas happening. And don’t even get me started on our outside plans! Extending the deck, a bit of landscaping, new stepping stones, spruce up the undercover area for O, knock down the concrete water tank, and the biggest one of all – the vegie garden! One day, one day…
What do you think?

Easy Peasy Samosas

I love it when my husband tells me “This is good, I like this! It’s a keeper.” at dinner time. The first thing I do is print off the recipe and shove it in my folder I keep in the kitchen because it’s good to have that meal where you know you’ll please everyone! It doesn’t happen for every meal I’ve created and placed in front of him but hey, at least he is honest!

One of his favourite meals is samosas. They are so easy to do and a good way of getting your vegetables in. O loves them too, which is always a bonus because getting multiple dinners ready is hard when they aren’t all the same! This has been a fortnightly meal in winter because it’s one of those cozy hot foods that are comforting… like soup, you know? And we always get leftovers for lunch the next day.
I posted the picture of them on Instagram last night and had lots of positive feedback and recipe requests.
So here it is!
Easy Peasy Samosas
  • 2 tbs balti paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 500g vegetables (diced small, frozen or fresh)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
Pre-heat oven to 170C.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan on medium and add the balti paste without oil, and stir for 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk and stir until combined. I have to use the back of my wooden spoon to stop the paste going lumpy in the milk. Once it’s thickened a bit, add the diced vegetables. Coat the vegies in the sauce and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, but stir it often. Take it off the heat and thaw your puff pastry sheets. I cut mine into four small squares but it’s up to you!
With a pastry brush, brush some water along the edges of the pastry. Spoon some of the mixture into the center of the pastry and fold over. Seal the edges with a fork, or pinch with your fingers. Brush the whole samosa with a bit more water and you can even sprinkle some sesame or poppy seeds on top.
Pop them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. 
And that’s it!
Serve with a side salad, of course 🙂
I think any type of paste will work… tandoori, korma etc. I haven’t strayed from balti but might have to now that Coles has stopped stocking it (and 101 other things). Or I could learn to make my own.
You could also buy vegan pastry sheets if you wanted to.

What I’m Loving In August

  • Peacock Paintings. To be specific, water colour peacock paintings. I love the colours, the tail, the vagueness of water colour… And I love the slight awkward feeling to the word peacock. Ha!
  • Dream Catchers. It’s just calling me lately, I don’t know why. I don’t even believe in them. They’re pretty awesome though.
  • Prints. Is this one inappropriate? You know, for having a child in the house and stuff… Hope so, because I’m buying it.
  • Paper Lanterns. Even if they don’t light up, they’re still pretty and delicate and feminine and outdoors they remind me of summer and indoors they are just cool.
  • Nutritional Yeast. It’s my favourite popcorn topping and I’m also loving it in quinoa. Such a nice cheesy flavour (I really do miss cheese…) and it’s full of great B vitamins. It’s a vego’s best friend.
  • CO YO. This stuff is amazing. I love it. It’s a godsend for dairy free people like me. I’m going to attempt making my own coconut yogurt soon, just to save some money but this stuff is always in my fridge.
  • FatMumSlim. Everyone knows the blog. Everyone knows the Photo A Day thing. I’m still loving it all (despite never being able to complete a whole month of Photo A Day).
  • Earth Toys. Love the selection of safe, fun and educational toys on here. Not loving some of the prices. Still gets a tick from me!
  • Homemade Hippies. Oh what? Yeah, I’m shameless at the self lovin’!

A Different Take On Jam

I love toast. I love jam on my toast. I love jam on lots of things. Even just jam out of the jar! But the jam you buy in the supermarket is full of sugar. And preservatives. And other things you don’t need in your body. And the jam you might find that doesn’t contain all those nasties are so expensive.

One day I made my own jam and I was very skeptical, because this wasn’t your usual preserve jam. No, this was jam made from chia seeds. I give O chia seeds soaked in water or almond milk for breakfast every morning, so I know it goes a great jelly like consistency. And it’s often used as a binder and egg replacer in vegan recipes. So it made sense to work as a jam but I just wasn’t sold.

And then I ate it. SOLD. I eat it from the jar with a spoon while watching TV at night. It’s that good. I love it!

I came across quite a few recipes like the one I’m about to post. This one is my own, but they’re really all the same and it’s so versatile. You can add anything you want, and have some fun experimenting!

Raspberry Chia Jam

500g frozen raspberries (defrosted), or fresh berries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tbs lemon juice

Mash your berries. I used a potato masher but I suppose you could also throw them in the blender. I like my jam a little chunky though so I don’t over mash! Stir in the sugar. I used coconut sugar which is like brown sugar but unrefined and is a low GI sugar. Add the lemon juice and then stir through the chia seeds. Make sure it’s all combined nicely. Pop the mixture into a air tight jar and leave it in the fridge overnight. It’ll be perfect for your toast or pancakes in the morning! It’ll last about 3 weeks in the fridge.

You could use any berry but I haven’t tried anything other than raspberries yet. You could do mixed berries, blueberry, blackberries etc. You could also add some orange peel, or maybe some vanilla essence. Maybe even some mint.

Let me know if you try this or come up with any variations!