Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pinterest Resolutions Update IV

It is hard to believe I have finished up some more of my Pinterest Resolutions- this year seems to be flying by!

Here is the full blog post in case you missed it- I vowed to decrease my number of pins and actually try some of the things I pinned.

First off, I planned a year of blog posts- some weeks are bigger than others but it is great having a list so that I know what to work on!

I also planned a capsule wardrobe for my summer holiday, which ended up being a lot of fun and super easy to do.

I made a Valentines Day coupon book for my boys, with the pizza night and Date with Daddy being used almost immediately! The 10 minutes of extra cuddles at bedtime was actually a nice reminder for me, to know that my boys enjoy just spending time with me and an extra few minutes of cuddles at night can calm us all down.

My plan to do a 12 card workshop went exactly as planned, and I also used up some of my paper scraps as well as some papers that I wasn't too keen on for my scrapbook layouts.

Our version of peanut butter and banana frozen yoghurt was enjoyed as a family fun night dessert, and they boys enjoyed helping to make it. It was very tasty and I now plan to experiment with other flavours.

Lastly, we did a fun active Easter Egg Hunt on Easter morning, with the boys working for their chocolate! It prompted some giggles and even I had to join in too, but it was a different way to start the morning and the boys didn't mind jumping around and encouraging each other.

Come back tomorrow when I will be sharing my next list of Pinterest Resolutions! I also posted yesterday about some Pinterest recipes I have tried lately in case you need some meal inspiration.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WCW Pinterest Week April

Recently I decided to try some of the delicious recipes I had pinned on Pinterest, as there is no point in me pinning them if I don't make them! I did manage to photograph some of them, but with the light fading by 5pm every night thanks to Autumn, it was a bit tricky to get a dinnertime photo.

My menu plan for Pinterest Week was as follows:

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
Easy Baked Fish
Chicken Tortilla Bake
Pizza Steak Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker
Spicy Sausage Pasta
Cordon Bleu Lasagne
One Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
Lemon White Chocolate Blondies

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
The soup was delicious- the boys really like tomato soup and their "pasta parcels" so this was a quick and easy dish to make when I was feeling less than inspired. Verdict: KEEP!

Easy Baked Fish
This was pretty good, but didn't crisp up as much as I would have liked, I think next time I make this I will use more breadcrumbs and less mayonnaise. Verdict: KEEP!

Chicken Tortilla Bake
This was such an easy casserole to put together, and the boys especially enjoyed it. This was a great warming meal for all of us, and the husband was happy to have leftovers for the next couple of days! Verdict: KEEP!

Pizza Steak Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker
After three wonderful meals, this one didn't quite hit the mark. The meat was still quite chewy, and the boys only ate the pepperoni, cheese and bread. Verdict: DELETE.

Spicy Sausage Pasta
Now this meal was popular! The boys inhaled it, and the leftovers the next day were even better. Verdict: KEEP!

Cordon Bleu Lasagne

I wanted to like this, I really did. My husband enjoyed it, but I just found the seasonings and mixes of cheese weird. The boys weren't big fans either- they picked the chicken out but didn't eat the pasta. Verdict: DELETE.

One Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
As we sat down to eat this, my 5 year old looked at me, looked at his food and said "you are the best mum ever!" This dish is worth keeping just because of that reaction! The dumplings were so amazingly light and fluffy, and the dinner table was silent as we all were too busy eating this delicious meal. Verdict: KEEP!

Lemon White Chocolate Blondies
I had some guests over for a few coffee groups this week, and these blondies received high praise from some of the ladies who had never head of a blondie before. Next time I might tone down the icing- which was my fault as I deviated from the recipe, but as written this blondie is delicious!
Verdict: KEEP!

I have decided to make this a monthly series, with the last Wednesday of each month dedicated to seven recipes plus a dessert or baking dish I have tried from Pinterest each month. If you have any suggestions of recipes I can try, or if you would like me to try out one of your recipes, please let me know as I am always on the lookout for yummy things!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Poppins Book Nook- Farms

Welcome back to the second installment of the Poppins Book Nook for 2015-2016.

This month's theme is Farms!

We have lots of books about farms at home- a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. Here are some of the books we have been reading this month.

Snack time on farm themed day was tractor tyres- Oreo biscuits with an M&M attached using a little bit of melted chocolate.

As we snuggled up for some TV time with our snack, there was even a Bubble Guppies episode about farms!

We also watched this video about Tractors on the farm.

The boys love tractors, so I put some brown food colouring in a shallow dish and then told them to add some dirt (shaving foam) and mix it together. They then had fun driving their tractors across a messy field.

We also created some green playdough using this recipe:
3 cups flour
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup salt
few drops green food colouring
water to mix

Put all ingredients in a bowl; slowly add water until the mixture becomes a firm dough.

We used this green playdough as our field, and the boys planted some foam flowers in the field. We also put a fence around the field with popsicle sticks.

We used a counting mat from Mommy School and created some chickens out of modeling clay to put on our mats.

We had a great time reading about farms, re-visiting classic songs and having fun with tractors and messy play. Click below to see how other members of Poppins Book Nook were inspired!

 Clip art by MelonHeadz.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Local Gem Re-Opens

One of the places I have fond memories of is Isaac Theatre Royal, where I have performed and been entertained throughout my childhood. It stands in the middle of our city, and is recognised by any Christchurch local as a fantastic venue for performing arts.

The earthquakes our city experienced ravaged older buildings, among them the Isaac Theatre Royal. This building sustained significant damage and the process of saving this beautiful building has been long and arduous. The facade was braced with shipping containers, and the rest of the theatre was demolished then rebuilt.

This building is finally once again open to the public as it aims to raise funds for the rebuild and bring the building back to its former glory. The painted domes have been restored, and pieces within the theatre such as the marble staircase and the leadlight windows have been retained and restored. The building is now up to current earthquake codes, and there have been some improvements in accessibility and extra seating.

For further information, you can watch the video below about the open day- well worth the insight into how this building has come to life again!

One thing that will bring crowds back is The Phantom of the Opera- the first performance tanking place at the Isaac Theatre Royal. I was lucky enough to get amazing seats to this show on Thursday night, and marvel firsthand at the restoration job. It is amazing walking back into the theatre, and definitely brings back so many memories.

The show itself was incredible, if a little loud at times as I was quite near to the speakers! The acts seamlessly blended into each other, and there were plenty of laughs from the audience. The fast-paced vibe of this show was not unwelcome, as the songs are such a memorable part of this musical and I was waiting to hear my favourites. One welcome surprise was seeing that my old vocal tutor from high school was in one of the principal roles as Monsieur Andre! I really could not fault the cast, and as well as the two lead roles the young Jane Leonard, playing Meg Giry, stood out for me as a strong performer.

This season of the Phantom finishes tomorrow, and has received nothing but praise from those who have been to see it. Such a wonderful event to go to, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you are on the hunt for an other upcoming events, please be sure to stop by Eventbrite! If you are thinking of planning an event and selling tickets, Eventbrite can also help you by providing tools to make things run smoothly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WCW Cocoa Banana Bars

If you are like me, you always have one or two bananas that get left behind in the fruit bowl. At the end of the week, they usually get made into banana omelettes or banana bread, but this week I decided to try something a bit different for the school lunchboxes.

Cocoa Banana Bars
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well combined. Stir in the mashed banana, set aside.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour the banana mixture into the well and stir just until combined.

Remove half of the batter from the bowl. Mix the cocoa powder into the batter remaining in the bowl and stir well. Spread the cocoa batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon the remaining batter on top and use a knife to swirl the batter into a marbled design.

Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting.

This recipe also makes great bread or muffins! It gets the thumbs up from both my husband and 5 year old, and is a deliciously moist bar that will keep for a week in an airtight container.

How do you use up your leftover bananas? I would love some recipe inspiration!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Easy Angry Bird Cookies

My friend recently brought over this Angry Birds Cookie Kit, and this was such a bargain price for some biscuit decorating fun! If you are looking for some school holiday inspiration during these last few days, see if you can get your hands on this kit- there are also Peppa Pig and Minni Mouse versions available.

The cookies come with the bases like this, which gives a good outline for the icing. There are three colours of icing- red, black and yellow, as well as candy eyes for decoration.

The black icing does get a bit messy- so I opted for yellow for my youngest. They started off by using the bag to pipe the icing on, and then used a plastic knife to spread the icing evenly.

The boys had great fun practicing their fine motor and hand-eye coordination skills!

The kit comes complete with eyes, and I added a jellybean for the nose. The icing in these kits is very sweet, so use sparingly and with adult supervision.

What fun have you been up to this school holidays?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WCW Tropical Teacakes

Those pesky bananas are still lurking in my fruit bowl as my 2 year old insists on buying them every time we go to the supermarket! 

I decided to whip up these teacakes instead of the usual muffins or bread. I used a pretty baking mold but you could use a mini loaf pan or muffin trays instead. These are dairy and egg free, and perfect to whip up for a quick afternoon tea.

Tropical Teacakes

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons Healtheries Black Chia seeds
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/4 cup cold water
2 small bananas
1/2 cup orange and mango juice
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
extra 1/4 cup orange and mango juice

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together. Create a well in the center and set aside.

Mix the water, flaxseed and Black Chia seeds to form a paste. Mix in mashed bananas and juice and add to the dry mixture. Mix well.

Fold in the coconut and add extra juice if needed. You want the mixture to be quite runny, about the consistency of pancake mix.

Add a dessertspoon full of the mixture to each mold or muffin tray. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.

Serve warm or keep in an airtight container for up to three days.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Aladdin Family Fun Night

Adam has recently been requesting lullabies to help him fall asleep, and one of the songs I sing to him is my favourite song from Aladdin.

This got me thinking about a family fun night based on the Aladdin movie!

Firstly, I put down a tablecloth on the floor for us to sit on as a magic carpet. Pretty basic, but the boys think sitting on the floor to eat is awesome!

We all sat down to have our dinner and watch the movie.

We had Blue Genie Juice, which was Blueberry flavoured fizzy. A rare treat in our house, but this was rather tasty! We also had Turkish flatbread, moroccan couscous with eggplant and tomato, and some tandoori yoghurt beef kebabs from our local butcher.

Dessert was Cave of Wonders- strawberry ripple icecream with jubes to represent the jewels.

This was simple to throw together at short notice, and such a fun way to spend a Friday night together. The boys loved watching the genie, and I enjoyed reminiscing about the songs as I used to sing them in choir.

If you have any suggestions of movies that we should watch as a family, I would love to hear them as we love our movie nights!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WCW Chia and Pumpkin Seed Bread

I was lucky enough to be selected as a Healtheries Chia Seeds Super Sampler, and some black chia seeds arrived by post yesterday. I immediately thought of baking bread with them, as I planned to have soup and bread for dinner. With the addition of pumpkin seeds, this bread is wholesome and filling.

If you do not have a bread maker, this bread also comes together easily with minimal kneading and rising.

Chia and Pumpkin Seed Bread
1 cup lukewarm tap water
2 1/2 cups high grade flour
4 tablespoons wholemeal flour
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons Healtheries Black Chia seeds
4 tablespoons Healtheries Bran Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons bread machine yeast

Set your breadmaker to large white loaf.

Place the ingredients into the machine in the order listed and press start.

Leave to sit in the machine for up to one hour before removing and cutting into thick slices.

This bread is so delicious- my mother even asked me to bake a loaf for her on Mother's Day as her present!

The robustness of this bread lends itself well as a toast bread, which is perfect with poached eggs for breakfast.

Have you ever tried black chia seeds before? I would love to hear your suggestions on how to use them. You can also check out 7 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds for more information.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Playroom Planning- Part Two

If you missed last week's post, we were starting to tidy up the second bedroom to create a playroom space.

When we left off, the playroom looked like this:

Now, it looks like this when you walk into the room.

The left hand side of the room has the two toyboxes, as well as some fun canvas prints and some Winnie The Pooh cross stitch designs I did when I was a girl. The curtains we kept as is, since my mum made them for us when we first moved in and they match the room perfectly.

The large bookcase is now full of books for both of the boys to read, as well as their magazines and some Sesame Street flash cards.

Opposite the bookcase is this tent, where the boys can read in peace and have a rest! That clown cushion is another piece from my childhood that my mother made, which is now being put to good use in the reading tent.

We also grabbed a secondhand whiteboard for the boys to use, and created a mini art area where the boys can draw and paint.The cupboards have paper, crayons, pencils and everything they need to create a masterpiece!

I love this alphabet wall decal we bought when Adam was a baby, which we have left on the wall as a fun addition to the playroom.

All of the artwork created by the boys will hang up on this black frame.

I still wanted to keep our painted bookcase, so that now houses some of the bigger toys and sits by the Lego table.

I love all the bright and cheery primary colours in the playroom, and the mix and match decor.

The best thing about this makeover was that it was done in a weekend and cost us nothing as we used items that we already had. Now we have a bright, sunny space for the boys to play in, where I am also happy to sit and have a coffee and watch them create.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pantry and Kitchen tidy up and a giveaway!

I hoped to have this giveaway up sooner, but have been having link issues so have decided to run this giveaway over on my Facebook page.

Simply post a photo of a pantry or kitchen area you have tidied up on the thread of my Facebook page, and one person will be randomly selected to win a $40 Bed, Bath and Table gift card! 

This is open to New Zealand residents only, but others are still welcome to share their photos. 

Please click here to be taken to the entry post. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

WCW Homemade Muesli Bars

Hello and welcome to this week's edition of What's Cooking Wednesday!

I am struggling to find some healthy, filling options for my son's lunchbox, and buying muesli bars all of the time was getting expensive. After some trial and error, I have come up with a mix that gets the thumbs up from my entire family.

Homemade Muesli Bars
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Combine the first five ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to and simmer for about four minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Pour the boiling honey mixture over the oat mixture and combine.

Press mixture into a greased baking pan and pat down with wet hands. Chill in fridge for an hour, or until firm, before cutting into bars. Store in the fridge until ready to eat, or these will keep for up to 4 hours in an airtight lunchbox.

Everyone in my family enjoys these, although I tend to cut them in half again for a lunchbox snack as they are quite filling! They have a slightly nutty taste from the peanut butter, and the dried fruits provide a welcome burst of sweetness.

Linking up with: Pin Me Party and Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday.

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