Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freezing Meals

Photo above by Ralph Anderson via Southern Living

I’ve decided I’m going to give myself the next three weeks to get all the essentials ready before our bub arrives, that way I can spend the remaining month taking things easy. One of my ‘essentials’ is stocking my freezer full of meals for us to use in those first weeks when we arrive home from the hospital. Our freezer isn’t all that big however so I need to find an efficient way of storing things so I can cram as much in as possible. I’m keen to find the perfect storage containers, preferably ones that are BPA free. I bought a few Pyrex dishes the other day as then I can reheat meals straight from the glass dish but these tend to be pricey.

In my searching for meal freezing ideas, I came across a few handy resources. I love the idea of the labels below as I think it’s important to have the date of frozen meals labelled. I will definitely be printing off a little batch of these to use. The link for the PDF file for these labels is

Image above from Martha Stewart

Another useful find was a table listing the freezer life of different foods. I’m always phoning my Mum asking her questions about freezing or reheating dishes, so this table will be handy for me. I might put it up somewhere inside our pantry. This article on the Taste website is also handy for knowing the best way to store particular dishes.

I’m keen to know which storage containers you all use. Do you use different ones for different dishes? Are you too avoiding any plastics with BPA? Which meals do you find are the best for freezing? So far I’m planning on freezing spaghetti sauce, lasagna, muffins, cookie dough, pesto, soup and perhaps a curry (although I’m not sure this is the best idea with breastfeeding?) What else would you add to my list?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Excuse This House

As I looked around my house this afternoon at the dishes sitting in the sink and the pile of washing waiting to be folded and put away, as well as the other endless household tasks I had yet to tick off my to-do list, I thought of a poem I’d come across recently here:

Excuse This House

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there
Ours boasts of it quite openly
The signs are everywhere

For smears are on the windows
Little smudges on the doors
I should apologise I guess for
The toys strewn on the floor

But, I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read
And if the doorbell doesn't shine
Their eyes will shine instead

For when at times I am forced to choose
the one job or the other
I want to be a house wife but
FIRST I'll be a mother

Author: Unknown

Image above found via Gingerella

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Flowers

As I heard the noisy rubbish trucks early this morning (our sign that it is Friday), I couldn't believe that it was already the end of the week. I don't know where this week has gone, I feel like I've kind of fumbled through it and not really achieved a lot and so I have a big 'to do list' for this coming weekend of things I hope to achieve.

Our garden has been a bit bare over winter so today, I thought I'd share this little posy which is currently in our laundry. While I haven't actually planted any freesias, we get the occasional ones popping up amongst our agapanthus plants so this week, I picked all that I could find and placed them here on the window. They have the loveliest subtle scent.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Etsy Baking Supplies

In my Etsy browsing lately for a few parties I have coming up, I came across the store Sweet Estelle’s Baking Supplies. If you’re after anything cupcake or party related, be sure to check it out. It has a range of decorative cupcake liners, paper straws, party favour bags and cake decorations. Here are a few items which caught my eye…

All photos above by sweet estelle's

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pottering Around The House

Image via weheartit

As much as I’ve grown to love winter, I do find that when the weather is a tad warmer and the sun is out shining, I’m far more motivated to get things done around the house. Such was the case over the weekend.

I am however finding that lately, my pottering around the house tends to be a bit scatter-brained. One minute I’ll be hanging out the washing, the next I’ll sit down and work on a bit of Grace’s quilt, only to find myself sorting and organizing baby clothes in the nursery all within the same half hour. Over the weekend, I just went with the flow and managed to get a range of things done.

It’s a bit the same with my decorating plans. There are so many ideas floating around in my head at the moment, I’ve been trying to jot down things immediately so I don’t forget. Similarly, while I am making progress slowly on a range of creative projects, my ‘to make’ inspiration folder is overflowing with things I’d like to try. I think I definitely need to open a Pinterest account.

Here’s hoping my muddled way of doing things lately is simply related to pregnancy…

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quote For Today

I don’t who the quote below belongs to or where I found it, but I think it’s a good one…

“Always be thankful for what you have, no matter how little. For there will always be someone who dreams to have what you've got”

It reminds me of something my Dad used to always say to me, that there’s always someone in a better position than you and always someone worse off. It’s important to count our blessings no matter how small they may seem. It is for this reason I try hard not to focus on the hiccups and little things that annoy me and instead, try to find the positive wherever I can in my days.

Today I am grateful for…

… Grace keeping herself occupied so I could prepare dinner. The steamed vegetables and cauliflower cheese are ready in the fridge and I have corned beef simmering away in the slow cooker. It will be nice to be able to use my usual meal preparation time this afternoon to have some fun with Grace instead.

… having fresh flowers in our home. I bought the bunch above at the shops on Monday and it really is nice to see something pretty fill the space on the corner of our bench.

… being able to look down at my nicely filed and painted nails. I’ve been hunting for the perfect natural shade of nailpolish for a while (not too pink, too white or too transparent) and finally found it at Witchery over the weekend. It’s called Pale Peony and with two coats plus a top coat, it’s lasting beautifully.

… finally having stitched into strips the 169 squares for Grace’s quilt (after much unpicking and adjusting). I now have to sew the 13 rows together but it’s lovely seeing progress finally happening.

… having lovely blogging friends and readers. Thank you for your kind comments on my last post and ‘bump photos’. You are all so sweet and truly put a smile on my face.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bump Update: 31 weeks

I find it hard to believe that already, I find myself at the 31 week point of this pregnancy. With Grace, everything seemed to drag on. This time around, I'm feeling the weeks fly by. I'm at a point now where I'm so eager to meet our new baby and am feeling more relaxed about everything although I do find the thought of there only being nine weeks to go a bit frightening.

Physically, I'm feeling more energetic than ever. From my first obstetrician appointment until now, I've put on six kilos. I've been fortunate that apart from the usual negative pregnancy symptoms (heartburn, indigestion, leg cramps, rib-cage discomfort) everything has been going smoothly. However, I did lie in bed the other night feeling contractions (presumably Braxton-Hicks contractions) wondering whether I would be going into labour early, especially as I'd had a dream the night before that our baby arrived ten weeks prematurely!!

I've started sorting through Grace's old baby clothes and feel as though progress is slowly happening in the nursery. Any neutral coloured 0000 and 000 sized clothes are being washed and put into the drawers and anything girlie or pink is being put aside in a crate for now. Our old bed base finally sold on Gumtree so the cot is in position (although we'll be using a bassinette in our bedroom for the early months). Now comes the fun part of decorating the room which I'll be sure to keep you up to date with...

Friday, August 12, 2011

New Slice Recipe

Today has been one of those great days where I've accomplished lots and had a balance of chores as well as fun with Grace. I was all set to have an unsettled day after coming home last night from the movies to find Grace still awake as she was adamant that Mummy had to put her to bed and not Daddy (we've had this issue since she was sick last week). However, today she woke up fresh and had been absolutely perfect. With no particular plans, we managed to do a few loads of washing, headed to our favourite cafe for a cup of tea and a babycino, enjoyed the glorious sunny day here in Perth today at the park, had an obstetrician appointment (all going well, will give you all a 'bump update' next week) and enjoyed our lunch outside.

Grace is now down for her nap and before I get stuck into sewing some more of her quilt, I'm just enjoying a cuppa and a piece of a new slice I tried the other day while I browse for some inspiration for a few parties I have coming up. I thought I'd share the yummy recipe with you all. As with most baked goodies, it tastes best not long after it's come out of the oven, but is still fine the day after too...

White Chocolate And Cranberry Squares

150g butter
185g white chocolate
2 eggs
100g castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
150g plain flour
pinch salt
zest of 1 lemon
75g dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 180°C (I set my fan-forced oven to 160°C) and grease a 10" square cake tin. Melt butter and half of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Cool slightly. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until frothy. Stir in butter/chocolate mixture. Add sifted flour, salt, remaining chocolate which has been coarsely chopped, lemon zest and cranberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is set. Cool in tin for 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

The cute little dish in the photo above is my latest thrift find. I bought it at the quirky cafe/giftshop we stopped at in Bridgetown where it was amongst a collection of antique crockery.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Latest Favourite Photo

This is my latest favourite photo of Grace. I didn't even ask her to pose like that, the photo just kind of happened. All those hundreds of dodgy shots are worth it if you can manage to get just one you love.

I hope you're all enjoying your week so far. We're off to celebrate my lovely Mum's birthday tonight. Below is the card Grace made for her. I printed out a cupcake outline and Grace 'coloured it in' and added the sparkles and glitter to the parts I glued for her. What a mess glitter makes!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cooking Club: Teatime Treats

On Saturday afternoon, we had our 'Teatime Treats' Cooking Club get together and I think this theme would have to be one of my favourites we've had so far. Dishes could be either sweet or savoury as long as they were something suitable for a morning or afternoon tea.

To decorate the table, I used a more 'Nanna-looking' white embroidered tablecloth and added some touches of pink and mauve with a bunch of pink ranunculi and two small jars of Geraldton Wax (which I snipped from the bushes growing beside the road at the end of the street). A piece of pretty pink floral fabric leftover from Grace's quilt made the perfect placemat for the centre of the table. I really didn't want to use my boring old white and silver crockery so I borrowed some pretty teacups, saucers and side-plates from my Mum and sister to put together with my own and ended up with a mix of different patterns, all within the same colour palette. I tried to research the correct way of setting the table for an afternoon tea - some references placed the cup and saucer on top of the side plate, others described what I did.

As a small party favour for each guest, I bought some cute floral paper bags from Etsy shop Jade L'il Craft which I filled with a selection of different tea bags. The spot prize for this month was a cookbook filled with scrumptious looking chocolate recipes.

Our menu consisted of:

- Chicken and Asparagus Sausage Rolls
- Arancini
- Lemon Cake
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Ginger Fluff Sponge
- Spicy Apple Teacake
- Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next month, we are going to have a potluck theme of 'Something I Enjoy Cooking' so I'm hoping we'll have a range of things like soup, mains, dessert, cake and so on.

For anyone who would like to try it out, here is the recipe for the Lemon Cake which was so moist and tasty...

Lemon Cake

5 eggs
250g castor sugar
250g melted butter
250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 lemons (juice and zest)
250g icing sugar
100g melted butter (for icing)

Beat eggs and sugar and then slowly add melted butter. Add sifted flour and baking powder and mix. Cook for approximately 10 mins at 180°C (my friend said she used her biggest slice tin which is about double the size of a normal one). For the topping, mix icing sugar, melted butter and the lemon juice and zest. Prick the cake with a fork and pour over topping mix while still hot and allow to soak through.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lounge Room Plans

Today I wanted to share with you all my thoughts for our lounge room and to get your input into how things should be decorated. A few weekends ago, we visited the Finishing Touch Gallery in Fremantle where we came across a limited edition print we both loved and bought for our lounge room. Painted by Greg Baker, it is of the Swan River around the South of Perth Yacht Club where we had our wedding reception. We had it framed up nicely and are very happy with how it looks.

I have since decided that a navy blue cushion is needed for the lounge chair beneath the print (I have draped a tea towel over the cushion in the photo above to try and picture this) as I think it compliments our new print better than the existing light blue one. Also, I think a blue patterned throw is needed to bring things together. I’m wondering if the one below would be suitable. What do you think?

As for our piano, a little Ikea stool has proven to be the perfect seat. It is easy for Grace to climb up and down on herself and a great height. I just need to decide what colour to paint it – at the moment, I’m leaning towards a steely blue. The top of the piano will probably remain relatively clear as I’ve found certain objects tend to vibrate when they’re placed on top and the piano is being played.

To bring this area together better, I’m on the hunt for an armchair. I had Paul temporarily place our chair from the nursery here to get a feel for what it would look like and while the Poang and striped cushion won’t be staying here, I definitely think a seat of some sort is needed in this space. I’m not sure whether a cane one like I’m envisaging (similar to the one below which is available in different stains) is the best option, or if a more formal looking armchair would be better.

As for the buffet in the dining area, this definitely needs some display pieces. I’ve decided on a collection of smaller artworks for above it rather than one larger piece. Some colour is definitely needed here to bring some life to the room and tie it in with the lounge area. I still like the idea of lighter slip covers for the chairs one day down the track too (the white table cover is not normally on there, I was just getting ready for this weekend’s Cooking Club).

Next week, I’m also going to get some curtain companies to come out and quote on curtains for this room. The current beige verticals clash badly with the cream lounges. In fact, with curtains, the blinds won’t even be necessary at all as I tend to either open these fully during the day or close them across at night. I’m leaning towards something light coloured and will probably do the same on the dining room window. Should the curtains draw to one side or both? Do I need a pelmet? So many options to consider!

So what do you think? Am I on the right track with my ideas? I’d love for you to share any thoughts or decorating tips you may have…

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wintery Sunday Drive

There’s a place out towards the Avon Valley that Paul and I visited one wintery day a few years back that we’ve wanted to visit again ever since. With showers and windy weather forecast yesterday in Perth, Paul suggested we go for a drive out towards Toodyay and try and find it once again. Firstly, we stopped at a store we always enjoy browsing through called Emporium which has a collection of antiques as well as new homewares. Here we bought a rusty wire duck for our garden.

We then tried to find the café and were about to give up when Paul decided to try one last road, Chittering Road and sure enough, there was our tin shed tea room at Golden Grove Orchard. It was still the simple little rustic café we remembered with a woodfire stove in the middle keeping the place warm and toasty, old saws and tools displayed on the walls, a basic menu of sandwiches, soup and Devonshire teas and sixties music playing in the background. We stopped for lunch and then bought some freshly squeezed juice from the orchard out the back. We left feeling happy that we’d found our little café and glad we’d decided to go for a Sunday drive.

Over the weekend, I also made great progress on Grace’s quilt (I have changed my mind about the design and colours for the hundredth time!!) and could really see things starting to come together. Halfway through sewing all the squares together however, my machine decided to play up and started sucking the material into the feeder teeth. So today I’ve taken it to be serviced and looked at, eagerly awaiting its return so I can continue sewing. You can see the progress I’ve made on the quilt so far below.

That’s all from me today as Grace came down with a cold last night and none of us got much sleep. She’s pretty miserable so I’ve just been pottering around the house, tidying up and trying to keep her happy. Wishing you all a lovely start to the week…