Friday, July 31, 2009

Chicken Burgers

These burgers are great for a summer dinner outside.

500 grams ground chicken
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning or dried taco seasoning
1 egg

6 bread rolls
6 pineapple rings
2 tomatoes sliced
6 cheese slices
6 lettuce leaves
ketchup or other sauce

1. Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl.
2. Form the mixture into burger patties and put them in the fridge for one hour.
3. Take the patties out of the fridge and place them in a greased frying pan on medium heat.
4. Cook slowly on both sides. (Cover with a lid if you need to so that they're cooked right through).
5. When the patties are almost cooked, place the cheese on top to melt.
6. Cut the rolls in half and toast them lightly under a grill.
7. Butter the rolls and place on the pineapple, tomato and lettuce.
8. Put the patties with cheese onto the roll and add some sauce. Yummy!

Makes 6 chicken burgers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Cupcakes

I just can't seem to stop decorating cupcakes lately. Here are some more that were made for a couple of recent birthdays.

Flowers made with mini marshmallows. (Cut a few mini marshmallows into three pieces with a pair of scissors to make the petals.)

Faces made with m&ms and jelly beans.

Flowers made with m&ms and smarties.

Cupcakes decorated with sour animal lollies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Few of My Favourite Baby Things

Baby Shoes
How cute are these little shoes. Now if only I could get her to keep them on her feet.

Bunnikins Egg Cup
This was an Easter present from Nana.

Jemima Puddle Duck Dish Set

A gift from Pa.

Music box
A gift from my sister. You wind it up underneath and it plays the sweetest tune while the little animals spin around.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Day at the Markets

Last month we went away for a long weekend to a small country town, with real country markets. There were lots of little tables set up to sell crafty things, homemade cakes and cookies, plants, books and more. They even had a group of young girls from the local school singing out the front.

I bought this grocery bag holder - something I've been wanting for a long time to tame the pile of bags that used to live on top of my pantry. I just love the little hens on the side.

My husband bought this adorable hat for our daughter. It's about the only hat she'll wear at the moment. I think she likes playing with the tassels that hang down the sides.

Then we were discussing what kind of stall we would have if we ever decided to work at the markets. I'd probably sell clothes (I've already got half a wardrobe full that could make some money), or books (then I could read them before I sold them heehee).

Thursday, July 23, 2009


These aren't the cupcakes that I made for the baby shower last weekend but they're an easy and yummy recipe. The baby shower cupcakes had babies on top and were just so cute. I think I downloaded those photos off the camera and I can't remember where I put them. Anyway, here is the recipe for these cupcakes.

125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup milk

Butter Cream Icing
100g butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
food colouring (if desired)

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
2. Combine butter, extract, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl and mix with an electric beater for about 3 minutes.
3. Divide mixture into patty cases and bake for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack.
5. Beat the ingredients for the butter cream icing and spread onto cupcakes.

Note: To make chocolate cupcakes, add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the cupcake mixture.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1961 Home Beautiful Magazine

How cute is this!! My mother-in-law found an old Home Beautiful magazine from 1961. Here are some ideas if you're thinking of redecorating your house - 60's style.

Or why not redo your bathroom with floor to ceiling tiles - blue of course!

And how cute are these homemakers with their pretty dresses and pearls.

These were the days when houses were designed with the needs of the homemaker in mind. I just love the elegant lady with the cute hair style and pretty apron doing the laundry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Story About the Beaded Necklaces

When I was a teacher I would wear lots of different beaded necklaces to school and inevitably one of the children in my class would comment on them. When they did, I would tell them this true story.

A few years ago I had a lovely necklace with light mauve and pearl coloured beads around it. I really liked it and I wore it often. A few months after I got it I wore it to a friend's house and she told me how pretty it was. The following week I felt like God asked me to give the necklace away to my friend. I didn't want to give it away because I liked it so much and I hadn't had it for very long.

Anyway, all day I had this nagging feeling that I needed to go and give her the necklace. So that evening I went over to her house and gave it away. I left feeling happy that I had given my friend a nice gift, but disappointed that I no longer had my favourite necklace. I remember saying to God something along the lines of ..."Well, I gave the necklace away like you asked. If you could give me another one I'd be really grateful, but if not, then thank you for helping me to obey you."

A few months went by and I forgot about the whole episode until one day I was out shopping with my grandmother. I saw a beaded necklace in a shop and decided to buy it for myself. When we got back to my nana's house we were talking about the things we had both bought that day and she said "I didn't know you liked necklaces like that. I have a few old ones packed away that you might like." She took me into her bedroom and pulled out a jewellery box full of beaded necklaces and gave them all to me.

I really believe that God chose to bless me with those necklaces because I obeyed Him. Of course, I don't believe that we should expect God to bless us in that way whenever we bless others, sometimes just doing something nice for someone else is the real blessing for us. But I do believe that if we don't obey God in even the little things that He asks us to do, then we won't know what we're missing out on.

The seven beaded necklaces from my grandmother.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Scones with Jam and Cream

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
50 grams butter
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Add the sugar and mix it through.
3. Rub the butter through the dry ingredients with your fingertips.
4. Pour in the milk and mix it lightly so that it becomes a soft dough.
5. Put the dough onto a lightly floured bench top and press it down until it's about half an inch thick.
6. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the scone shapes and place them on a greased oven tray.
7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until cooked through but not brown.
8. Cut the scones in half and serve with jam and cream.
Makes 12 scones.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mickey Mouse Cake

This post was originally published on my old blog, Summer At Home, in March 2009.

This is a cake I made last month for a 1st Birthday party. I got the original design from "The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book" and changed a few things. First, I made a butter cake mixture (recipe below) and poured it into a round cake tin for the face, and two muffin tins for the ears.

Once the cake had completely cooled I iced the ears with chocolate icing (recipe below) and rolled them in chocolate sprinkles. I ended up pouring the sprinkles into a bowl and pressing the iced cupcakes into the sprinkles firmly to get them to stick on.

Then I used a sharp knife to lightly draw the shape across the top of Mickey's head and iced the top half with chocolate icing. This time I poured the sprinkles into place and gently pressed them down with my finger tips.

Next I made butter icing (recipe below) and used a skewer to carefully add a drop of red food colouring to make the icing skin-coloured. I used this icing to decorate the bottom half of Mickey's face.

Finally, I used a decorator's writing gel pen (bought from the supermarket) to draw on the eyes, eyebrows and mouth. The nose is a mint slice biscuit and the tongue is a strawberry wafer.

I placed the cake on a chopping board covered in foil.

Butter Cake Recipe

185 grams (3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit).
2. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and creamy.
3. Add the eggs and continue beating until combined.
4. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and add the milk.
5. Stir by hand until combined.
6. Spoon part of the mixture into two greased muffin cups.
7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Pour the remaining mixture into a round, greased cake tin.
9. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Put a skewer into the centre of the cakes. If it comes out clean, they have finished cooking.
10. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.
11. Allow cakes to completely cool before icing.

Chocolate Icing

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
125g (1/2 cup) butter
2 tablespoons milk

1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.
2. Add the butter and mix it through the icing sugar with your fingertips or the back of a spoon.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of milk and stir. If required, add the remaining milk. The icing should be quite thick, not runny, so that it stays on the cake.
Butter Icing

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
125g (1/2 cup butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 drop of red food colouring

1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
2. Add the butter and mix it through the icing sugar with your fingertips or the back of a spoon.
3. Add the vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of milk and stir. If required, add the remaining milk.
4. Dip a toothpick or skewer into the red food colouring then mix it into the icing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Just Saved $1194!!

Do you ever get an idea in your head and it's just so great that you can't stop thinking about it? Well last week I discovered this embroidery blog. It has the cutest little embroidered t-shirts and bath towels. I started dreaming about all the things I could make for my family and friends if I only had an embroidery machine.

So yesterday I braved the freezing cold weather and walked into town. I went to a sewing shop and asked the kind lady how much an embroidery machine cost. The ones they sold STARTED at $1200! That's right - $1200 to put some pretty pictures on a child's t-shirt! Well, of course I acted casual, like I knew all along that that's how much they cost, in fact, that actually seemed like a good price. Ha! I thanked the lady and told her I'd have to think about it a bit more.

Then I went to Spotlight and bought a little iron-on flower, letter and butterfly for $2 each. So I basically saved $1194.

From now on, iron-on motifs work for me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Generous Family

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful, loving, generous extended family. In the last few months one of my husband's cousins brought over four big bags of gorgeous baby clothes for our little girl to wear, another cousin recently gave us a box of DVDs, books and toys in great condition, my mother-in-law and aunty have made us the most beautiful knitted jumpers and blankets, and my husband's nana (who is 95!!!) made us these adorable knitted dolls.

Last week my mum and nana gave our little girl her first pair of jeans and this cute cardigan and jumpsuit.

We feel so loved and so grateful that God has blessed us with such a wonderful family.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I was chatting with some friends at playgroup the other day and the topic of housework came up. We started talking about which jobs we liked and didn't like doing around the house. One girl said she didn't like doing the laundry and another said she hated washing dishes. I really don't mind either of those jobs. If it's a nice sunny day I love hanging the washing on the clothesline and getting it off in the afternoon, smelling lovely and fresh. And I even quite enjoy doing the dishes. It's usually a time when I think or pray or plan my day.

For me the worst job is definitely vacuuming. We don't have a great vacuum cleaner so it's quite an effort to pick up all the dust and things that fall on the floor. My long hair seems to fall out in every room of the house, and with my baby girl moving around so quickly now I feel like I have to vacuum all the time. I'm considering getting a dust buster to see if that will make it easier.

My friends and I considered trading chores at each others' house. One of us would do everyone's laundry, another person would do everyone's dishes and the other would do everyone's vacuuming. It didn't seem like a fair trade though as there's always lots more laundry and dishes than vacuuming. :)
Image courtesy of

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Granola Bars

These granola bars are quite healthy as I reduced the amounts of sugar and honey, but that means they're not as sweet tasting as other recipes. You could try substituting fruit juice for the water and add more dried fruit to get a sweeter tasting bar. They're still yummy though and a good consistency (not too crumbly or dry).

2 cups oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Mix the dry ingredients, the dried fruit and the sesame seeds together in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the water, the honey and the melted butter.
4. Add the honey mixture to the dry ingredients and stir through.
5. Press the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before cutting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buttermilk Pancakes

These buttermilk pancakes are by far the fluffiest and nicest tasting pancakes I've ever made.


1 1/4 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg

1 1/2 cups buttermilk


1. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl and add the egg.
2. Slowly pour in the milk as you mix the ingredients with an electric mixer.
3. Beat for about 2 minutes to get all the lumps out.
4. Heat some butter in a frying pan on low-medium heat and pour in some mixture.
5. Cook the pancake slowly (as the mixture is thick) and flip the pancake over when bubbles begin to form on the top.
6. Cook the other side until lightly golden brown.
7. Serve with honey, sugar and lemon, maple syrup or fruit syrup.

Hot dinner, freezing cold night

I think today is probably the coldest day we have had all year (it's Winter in this part of the world) and I am so grateful that the Lord has provided us with a comfortable house, warm clothes and a very effective heater.

Because it is so grey and wet outside I decided that it would be the perfect day to make pumpkin soup. As with my Banana Bread, it has taken me a few tries to perfect a pumpkin soup recipe. However, I think I have finally done it. I used this recipe from and modified it a little bit.

1 onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic (optional)
2kg jap pumpkin (about 3/4 of a whole pumpkin), peeled and cut
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut
3 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
3 1/2 cups water
200ml thickened cream

1. Lightly fry the onion and garlic in some oil in a large pot.
2. Add the cut pumpkin and potato, the vegetable stock and the water.
3. Let the water simmer for about 1/2 an hour till the vegetables are soft.
4. Let the soup cool for about 1/2 hour then blend it in a blender (or use a hand-held blender if you have one).
5. Pour all the soup back into the pot but do not put back onto the heat.
6. Add the cream and stir through.
7. Put the soup into bowl and heat in the microwave.

I still had a chicken breast sitting in the fridge that I had defrosted yesterday (then decided not to use for dinner last night) so I also made mini chicken pizzas. I cut up the chicken breast, fried it then added about 1/2 cup BBQ sauce to the pan. I coated the chicken in the sauce. Then I cut up a french bread stick and baked the pieces in the oven for about 10 minutes. I put some extra BBQ sauce on the bread pieces, added the cooked chicken and sprinkled some grated cheese on top. Very simple and delicious!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Birth Skills, by Juju Sundin

When I first became pregnant my younger sister, who had given birth to a baby 8 months before, told me to buy the book "Birth Skills" by Juju Sundin. I was very skeptical and thought it would be a lot of visualisation or weird things that I'm not into. As my pregnancy progressed she kept telling me about this book until one day when I was about 7 months along she came up to visit and brought the book with her. I read the whole book just a couple of weeks before I went into labour and I am so glad that I did.

I honestly believe that without the knowledge and skills I learned from the book I would have panicked and asked for an epidural (something I really didn't want). Anyway, enough raving. I will try as best as I can to outline the main principles from the book.

At the beginning of the book the author says these things:

"Labour pain is healthy pain. As labour progresses and the pain really established its presence, there will be no time to make decisions about how you will handle each contraction..." "... it is essential that you understand that labour pain is healthy pain. It is caused by the uterine muscle actually working." pg. 7

All the skills that she teaches in the book are based around this principle:

"If you bombard your nervous system with non-painful thoughts and physical and emotional actions, you can dull your pain further through distraction and redirected focus of attention".

Basically what that means is that if, when you are in pain, you can take your mind off the pain or distract yourself in some way, you won't focus on the pain as much and it won't feel so bad. Also, if you are focusing on the pain, you tend to panic and freeze up. If you have something else to focus on then you feel more in control.

When we are in labour adrenalin is pumping through our body like crazy.

"Adrenalin thinks in terms of stress and action. If action is not taken when adrenalin pumps into your system - even if the trigger is healthy pain - it will continue to rise and rise within your body, increasing your stress." pg. 26 "If you can mobilise yourself with a pain-free rhythmic activity and focus on that, believe me, fear and panic will take a back-seat." pg. 26

So... what can you do to take your mind off the pain? When labour first begins it is important to try and rest - you don't want to wear yourself out too early. If the pain is off and on and not too bad, try to sit down, relax, breath slowly (really hard when you are so incredibly excited about meeting your wonderful new baby). Once the pain is more intense, try any or all of these strategies.

1. Focus on the legs not the pain.

* Pace the floor in a slow rhythmic fashion.
* Walk on the spot and focus on the movement, or your feet on the floor. (When we got to the hospital I put on my nightgown and my sneakers and I jogged on the spot for about 5 hours. This was the biggest thing that helped me manage the contractions and before that day I wasn't even fit enough to run around the block :))
* Lie on your side on the bed and slide your foot along the calf of your other leg.
* Sit on a fit ball with your feet wide apart and bounce softly (My hospital had a fit ball and I was hoping to be able to use it but it didn't feel comfortable to me at the time).

2. Breathing and vocalisation

"Simple: pain makes you hold your breath! If you hold your breath in the first stage of labour you make the pain worse". pg. 49

* Each time you breath out whisper 'yes' or 'open' or any word that helps.
* Make an aah sound, not as in a screaming AAAGH but as in "Aaah that baby is so cute". Focus on the rhythmic aaah sound as it comes out. Get louder as the pain increases.
* Ask your husband to make the aaah sound and focus on the sound he is making. Let me say that when I was reading all these skills I thought I would be too embarrassed to do them, or the midwives would think I was crazy. But in the moment I wasn't embarrassed and the midwives have seen it all before anyway.

3. Visualisation

"Visualisation is quite simply the creative faculty or process of forming visual images or ideas, realities, imaginings, scenes, memories, future events, objects etc. in your mind". pg. 82

* Imagine a beautiful relaxing scene like a beach or a waterfall.
* Play soft relaxing music (if the hospital allows it) and imagine things that go with the music. (I used an ipod to play my favourite praise and worship songs and I focused on the words in the songs).
* Count up and down. Ask your husband to count and picture each number in your head as he says it. This can also be helpful in counting out each contraction. As I felt a contraction coming I would say "Count" and my husband would start counting. I would focus on what he was saying until the contraction passed.
* Imagine you are riding a wave, going higher and higher, then down. The day before I went into labour my husband drove me down to the beach and we drove past some big fishing boats pulling into a dock. He said "when you go into labour just picture those big powerful fishing boats pushing through the waves". I thought he was crazy, but when I was in labour, I kept picturing those powerful fishing boats and I think they got me through a good 2 hours of contractions :)

4. Stress balls.

Get a couple of those little soft squishy stress balls if you can and use them in different ways.
* Squeeze the balls in your hands and focus on your hand movements.
* Play music and tap the balls to the beat.
* Bang the balls in time with the contraction - slowly at first then faster as it intensifies, then slowly again.

5. Keywords

* Repeat a word over and over (any word).
* Repeat a phrase over and over - "healthy pain" or "pain out" or "baby's coming".
* Look at what you see and say those things - "tiles, bed, tap, sink, floor".
* Give some keywords to your husband to say for encouragement - "keep breathing", "focus on my voice", "keep stepping", "release".
The book also has techniques to help with the pushing stage.

My Final Tips

1. Pray. Pray before you go into labour and during labour. Ask God to give you strength and peace.

2. Take some comforting verses from the Bible in with you to read or memorise a couple of verses to say over and over in your head.

3. When you get to the hospital inform the doctor or midwives of your desire for a natural birth. Ask them not to offer pain medication unless you ask for it or unless it is medically necessary.

4. If you are induced and the pain starts quickly, start using the strategies straight away if you need to. If you find one or more birth skill isn't working for you try something else. (I told my husband about the skills and he reminded me of different things to try when he could see that something wasn't helping).

5. If you have tried everything to help with the pain, do not feel like a failure if you need medication. Every labour and birth is different, no one should judge your way of doing things.

6. Nothing comes before the safety of the baby and the mother so listen to the advice of the midwives and doctors. The end goal is to have your beautiful baby healthy and safe in your arms. It doesn't matter so much how they get there.

7. If you still have a few days left before you go into labour, try and sit forward with your legs apart as much as possible on a lounge or on a fit ball (as opposed to lying down or putting your feet up). This will encourage the baby to be facing the right way when it comes out which makes labour easier.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cooking with Children

Cooking with children can be a wonderful experience that creates natural learning opportunities and sweet memories. Or it can be a stressful, unpleasant experience that ends in tears. Here are some tips to help make it fun for everybody.

1. Before you start, take a moment to make sure your heart is right. If you have been dreading the thought of teaching your children how to cook, or you are worried about the mess or lack of time you will find it much harder to keep your patience and sense of humour. Think of it as a chance to have fun with your kids and maybe even produce something yummy at the end.

2. Choose a morning or afternoon when you have lots of time. Cooking with kids will take a lot longer than cooking something by yourself.

3. Put on some fun music and maybe even a pretty apron. Make sure your kitchen is clean so that you're not trying to work around last night's dirty dinner plates.

4. Gather up all the ingredients and utensils before you start. (Nothing causes frustration faster than getting half-way through a recipe only to discover that you have to race up to the shop because you've run out of sugar).

5. Choose a meal that is fun to make and one that your child will enjoy eating at the end.

6. Read through the recipe with your child and explain that there are ingredients and a method. Let them try to find the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge if they are old enough.

7. Let them participate in each part of the process by giving them age-appropriate tasks. For example, give them a mini bowl with part of the mixture in it and let them stir it, then add it back into the big bowl with the remaining mixture. When cooking with little kids, it may be better if you measure out the ingredients then they pour them into the bowl.

8. Don't worry if the food doesn't turn out so nice, it's the time spent together that matters.

9. Remember to make if fun for them - laugh and praise your child often.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ten Things I Love About Winter

Aunt Ruthie's Snickerdoodles and Hot Chocolate

This is going to be a real stretch for me because I really DO NOT like Winter. I would much rather endure sweltering hot days and balmy nights than sit shivering under a blanket with six layers on. But, every time I complain about the cold my husband reminds me that I am spending a quarter of my life hating something that I cannot change and that God made for us to enjoy. Now I certainly don't want to waste one quarter of my life being miserable, so here are ten things I love about winter.

1. Hot chocolate.

2. Big, soft, woolly sweaters.

3. Baking cookies so that the oven warms the kitchen and makes the whole house smell yummy.

Hmm, I'm struggling already.

4. Snuggling under a big, warm doona.

5. Putting soft, knitted hats on my little cutie-muffin.

6. Hot pumpkin soup with cheesy bread.

7. Sitting by a warm fire, toasting marshmallows.

8. Indoor picnics on the lounge room floor.

9. My hot water bottle. I put it on my lap when I'm sitting at the computer and it keeps my hands and legs warm. Isn't it cute! It came in this soft owl cover with a pretty purple ribbon around the top.

10. Curling up on the couch and watching back-to-back episodes of Little House on the Prairie.

Whew, I made it. Now I'm going to make a concerted effort to enjoy the next 56 days until my beloved Spring arrives!!