Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WCW- Banana, Rum and Raisin Bundt Cake


Those overripe bananas strike again- this time I have mashed them into a rum and raisin bundt cake that is quick and easy for entertaining.



Banana, Rum and Raisin Bundt Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon rum extract
3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Filling
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup butter
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the filling ingredients until they form a paste and set aside.

In a large bowl sift in the the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the brown sugar, butter, eggs, sour cream, milk, rum extract and bananas, mixing until just combined.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan.  Spread the filling mixture across the cake batter.  Carefully pour over the remaining batter.  Bake for 55 minutes.



Cut and serve warm. This will keep in an airtight container for a week but is best eaten on the day you make it. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Eight Years

I cannot believe it has been eight years since I married my husband- the time has gone so quickly and it makes me realise how much we have been through together.

We were married at Elizabeth House in Christchurch, which unfortunately was demolished after the earthquakes. It was a beautiful day, and I loved our photos in the Botanical Gardens. I always enjoy looking back at our video and photos, as some of the guests are no longer with us and it makes those moments much more special.



We have travelled together around the South Island, although since my husband is a bit of a homebody we haven't been overseas together (yet!) and prefer to drive to little known locations.



My husband and I were always under the impression that we wouldn't be able to have children, so imagine our surprise when our first son came along in December 2009! I saw a new side to my husband- the caring, tender side and his gentle touch were such a help as I was recovering from a traumatic birth and a C-section.



Two and a half years later, our second son came along to complete our family. Once again, Malcolm stepped up to the plate and took on more parenting duties, and we found out the real meaning of sleepless nights and toilet training dramas!



We have certainly had our share of ups and downs as far as 'in sickness and in health' vows, with my body rebelling against most medical treatments. I underwent numerous investigations, surgeries and hospital admissions, and most recently Malcolm had to take over my duties as I was in hospital for half of January. Now that I also have a diagnosis of Coeliac disease, we are facing new challenges together and modifying our lifestyle.

Of course, it hasn't all been serious. We both get a bit goofy at times, and one of the best parts about being married to Malcolm is that he knows how to make me laugh. We still act like big kids at times!



Meeting Malcolm was the best thing that has happened to me. He has given me two adorable boys, he knows how to cheer me up, and every now and then he does something that reminds me how lucky I am.

Here's to eight years, and I hope to celebrate many more.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WCW- Red Velvet Cupcakes


Nothing beats a decadent Red Velvet Cupcake, and mine are guaranteed to put a smile on someone's face!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
60g butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
1/3 cup red food colouring
Icing
60g softened butter
20ml milk
200g cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a standard muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.

Place the butter, eggs and milk into a small mixing bowl. Beat for two minutes until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for a further three minutes on low speed. Spoon into the prepared muffin tray and bake for 25 minutes.

Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack while you prepare the icing,

Place butter, milk, cream cheese and icing sugar into a small mixing bowl and beat for three minutes until thick and fluffy. Spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.




To see how I created the cupcake toppers, click here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Personalised Robot T-shirts

As part of the Christmas presents for my nephews, I decided to make them each their own t-shirt using my Cricut and the white Iron-On Vinyl.

I purchased some green T-shirts, and set about designing a robot image using the Robotz Cricut Cartridge. I then simply welded each nephew's initial into the centre of the robot's stomach, and sized each robot according to the T-shirt size.

To get the correct robot size for each shirt, I measured the length of the T-shirt and divided that by 2.25. I then used that measurement as the height for each robot, which kept the ratio even across all the shirts.

I used the instructions that came with the iron-on vinyl to mirror image cut each robot, then adhere it to the T-shirt.



My nephews were very happy with their new shirts!



This is a project that could easily be adapted for different themes or with more girly images. I have lots more projects planned- check out this Frozen Tote Bag I also created with the Iron-On Vinyl.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

WCW- Teriyaki Pork with Noodles


Welcome to the first What's Cooking Wednesday of 2016! I thought I would start the year off with some healthy, easy meals that have been given the thumbs up from my picky eaters.




Teriyaki Pork with Noodles
•500g pork mince
•2 cloves fresh minced garlic
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon black pepper
•4 green onions, finely chopped
•¼ cup teriyaki sauce
•½ teaspoon fresh minced ginger
•¼ teaspoon cumin
•Asian frozen vegetable stir fry mix
•Fresh udon noodles

Heat a large frying pan and brown the pork mince. Add the seasonings to the mince and stir through. Add the frozen vegetables and teriyaki sauce, and let simmer for five minutes.

Cook the noodles according to packet directions, then drain and add to the pork mince.

Serve with an extra drizzle of teriyaki sauce.



This is a quick weeknight meal, and you can experiment with different vegetable mixes depending on what your family likes.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ten days of tears

You may have been wondering where I have been these last couple of weeks. I had grand plans to start 2016 with a bang, and had so many ideas and blog posts to share with you after recovering from my surgery in November.  All of my plans changed though, on the fifth day of 2016.

Early Tuesday morning, about 1:15am, I began to experience an awful pain on the right side of my abdomen. This came on suddenly, and I was in absolute agony. I ended up in the bathroom for four hours, doubled over in pain and thinking I had been hit with a stomach bug. I Googled my symptoms and joked with my husband that the results said appendicitis, but I was sure that was unlikely.

I managed to slowly walk into my doctor's office at 10:45am. He took one look at me and concern flitted across his face. As he pressed into my abdomen, I went as white as a sheet. His next words were "I think we should get you to hospital." I was then hooked up to an IV drip, given fluids, and taken away via ambulance. As I was taken away, I managed one last wave to my boys and had no idea what was to come.

I arrived at the Emergency Department and was given a lot of pain relief, then saw three doctors. I couldn't believe it when they said the symptoms were in keeping with appendicitis, but because of my recent surgery there was also an element of unknown. I was taken to a pre-surgery ward and admitted overnight. My boys and husband came in briefly to bring me some supplies, and as I said goodbye I figured that we would have an answer that night as to what was happening. My CT scan happened at 9pm and the doctors came to see me at midnight. The CT scan images were unclear, and so an ultrasound scan was booked for the morning. Cue the first lot of tears due to the pain and the fact that I wouldn't have an answer until the morning.

The tears were still coming thick and fast before my ultrasound, as I was scared and worried. Throughout the ultrasound, I was in a lot of pain and the images were still unclear. There was talk of a possible infection as the result of my hysterectomy in November, but appendicitis had not been ruled out. The main issue was my blood test results- I had a CRP (a level of inflammation) of 180, when the normal range is 1-20. This indicated that something was definitely going on!

A few different doctors had seen me by that stage, and the decision was made to take me to surgery to have a look at what was happening inside. More tears came as I had to accept the fact that one of my greatest fears, going under general anesthetic, was going to happen again. However, about twenty minutes before I was due to go into theatre, the Women's Hospital team decided to take over my care as they were convinced that my pain had something to do with my recent surgery.

Off I went to another part of the hospital, and proceeded to have three days of intravenous antibiotics for a post-operative infection. To make things worse, my right ovary also decided to have a burst cyst, just to add extra pain into the mix. I cried because I was in pain, I cried because I missed the Weird Al concert date night with my husband, I cried because my children asked when I was coming home. I finally got discharged on Saturday afternoon, and crawled into my own bed at home.

However, my problems were not over yet. I spent all of Sunday doubled up in pain as the cyst on my left ovary then decided to burst as well- I had been warned of this happening as it was picked up on the ultrasound. My pillow and a heat pack were my best friends throughout the day.

Monday morning saw me at my GP again, who suggested repeat bloods and another ultrasound as I was still sore. Off I went to the radiologist, who spent a good hour looking at my internal organs. I knew something was up when the senior radiologist was asked to look at my images, who then called my GP. A large mass was showing up on the scan, and the best course of action was to send me straight back to hospital. I burst into tears at the thought of going back, but there was nothing else I could do.

I was admitted again on Monday night, after one and a half days of freedom, and I remained in hospital until Friday evening. The days passed very slowly as I was attached to more IV antibiotics, which dripped into me every 8 and 12 hours, and with no TV and limited visiting hours, I felt very isolated and alone. I cannot fault the hospital staff, who treated me with extreme kindness and did everything they could, but being in hospital is never fun and I did have a few weepy moments as I wondered whether or not I would be OK or if I would have to end up with more surgery.

My emotions were definitely running high, and I really appreciated the visits, flowers and kind words sent from friends and family. It was hard watching my roommates come and go, whilst I stayed attached to machines and got to know all the nurses.

Over time, my blood test results looked more promising and the visits from other medical teams meant that I was thoroughly investigated. I even had tests for Coeliac disease (which has come back positive!) and saw a lovely physiotherapist as my hips were very sore due to the hospital beds.

My wonderful family rallied around me, and as I fretted over my boys they were having a wonderful time with extended family. I cried as I was missing out on those moments with them, and their hospital visits were short and sweet since hospitals are rather boring for little boys. A lovely text from one of my good friends sent me into floods of tears as she reminded me that I am a good mother, as I certainly didn't feel like it.

The doctors were still not sure what was going on with my symptoms, and so on Friday I had another blood test plus a repeat ultrasound. These both came back normal- I was finally improving and feeling a lot better. The decision was then made that I could be discharged- after nine days total in hospital this was wonderful news and I could not wait to get back to my family and into my own bed.

This was definitely not the way I had planned to start my 2016, and I have missed out on a lot of plans including the Weird Al concert, a trip to Queenstown and taking my boys on a day trip to the beach. I am so grateful, not only to my friends and family, but also to my GP, the St John ambulance staff, and all of the doctors and nurses who were involved in my care.

As I move forward with a new medical diagnosis and a tendency for naps, I am grateful that this medical blip was only a small part of the year. I should be able to move forward from this, and now I know to listen to my body and know when I am doing too much. Part of moving forward is telling this story to get it out of my system, and I also hope to encourage women to listen to their bodies and seek an answer if something doesn't feel right. I was worried that my pain would just be disregarded or that I was overreacting, and I am so glad that my GP and the hospital staff took me seriously and did everything they could to help me.

Let's hope the rest of my 2016 is uneventful, and I get to share new activities, recipes and craft tutorials with you all!

Monday, January 4, 2016

January-April Pinterest Resolutions

Yesterday I shared an update with you for my Pinterest Resolutions.

What are Pinterest Resolutions? Every 4 months, I choose ten pins from my various boards that I actually want to do, and once I have created them I can delete them from my boards. This helps keep my Pinterest boards focused, and also gets me motivated to create all of the cool things I save.

First up for this quarter, I want to complete my family's command centre. I always have piles of paperwork and clutter sitting on my bench, and I need to get it organised and tidy as I am constantly losing things.

Image via Hi Sugarplum!

I know my boys will have heaps of fun making their own Jellyfish in a Bottle!

Image via Bhoomplay

It is Summer here currently, and so I want to check off everything on this last with my boys. Click here to download your own full resolution copy.

Image via Lara Coffee

Since it is summer holidays here, we also plan to do a road trip and this food pack idea will work well with my six year old, who likes to play games and eat on car journeys. 


Image via Design Mom

Valentines Day is coming up soon, and I would love to play some fun family games- the Heart Basketball especially sounds like something my boys would really enjoy! Nothing like a bit of healthy family competition.


Image via The Frugal Girls

Another holiday coming up is St Patrick's Day, and I can't wait to make these cute cupcakes with my son's class as part of their Discovery sessions.

Image via Play Party Pin

There is also Easter, and isn't this Easter Bunny garland adorable?

Image via Clean and Scentsible

I am going back to a previous resolution that didn't happen as I still want to document our family's story, and this checklist is definitely the way to go!

Image via Not In Jersey

My sister is having her baby shower in April, and she loves this adorable fox cake, so I plan to make this for her along with a Woodland theme.

Image via Wilton

Lastly, I love this idea for nail polish storage and plan to make my own version of a holder like it.

Image via Hailey's Helpful Hints

There you have it, my ten Pinterest Resolutions for the first four months of the year! I am confident that I can get these done by working with holidays and events that are in my calendar.
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