Saturday, March 30, 2013

Never too old for an Easter Egg Hunt

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily life in photos...

Chillin at the nursery... Obviously disappointed there are no babies in this one. #lovejc

Monday, March 25, 2013

Super Easy Sugar Free Not-Exactly-ANZAC biscuits

Still in sugar free mode - and after taking a day off for my husband's birthday to eat sugary dessert and then getting sick and feeling rubbish for days after, I'm thinking this sugar free thing is going to be permanent. Seriously, refined sugar is basically poison in disguise... but that's a rant for another post!

So I was craving biscuits to go with my cup of tea tonight, and I knew I had a lot of oats in the cupboard so I thought of ANZAC biscuits. Could I do them sugar free?

(Oh, and 'biscuit' is Australian for 'cookie' by the way.)

The result is not strictly an ANZAC. It has honey instead of golden syrup, added sultanas and I used an egg because I wasn't sure if it would bind together without one.

But they turned out well - not very sweet, but nice and biscuity. Satisfied my craving, anyway.

Super Easy Sugar Free Not-Exactly-ANZAC biscuits:

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
150g melted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 tsp bicarb
1 egg

Preheat oven to about 180 degrees celsius.

Chuck it all in and mix. Too wet? Add a bit more flour. Too dry? You can add a bit of milk, but this will make them crisper. Otherwise a bit more honey or melted butter.

Form in golf ball size balls and place on a lined tray. Flatten the balls down a bit with your fingers or a fork. They don't spread very much.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Verdict: Not very sweet - could try more honey if this a problem for you - but will satisfy a biscuit craving, especially if you dip it in your tea!

Happy sugar free baking.

Cake Pops: Worth the trouble?

For my baby shower late last year, I thought I'd try out the cute trend of cake pops. They looked so adorable and yummy, and how hard could making round little cakes on sticks be, right?

And I guess overall they aren't that hard - I'm not much of a decorator when it comes to baked goods, and even I could do them - but they were so darn-tootin fiddly that by the end I'd had enough and never wanted to see a cake pop again. Cup cakes are way easier to make and decorate.

And I didn't even eat any of the finished product, probably because I ate too much melted chocolate and cake scraps as I went, they sight of them made me sick! :)

Anyway... in case you still want to try....

I'd bought the silicone cake pops moulds. They worked alright, but as you can see from the picture, instead of the overflow coming out of the holes in the tops of the moulds, it swelled underneath and pushed the mould up so the balls became conjoined in one big mass of cake. They were salvageable, though, by just shaving away the excess until they resembled balls again.

I just used a packet Red Velvet cake.

Then I dipped the sticks in melted chocolate and stuck them in the balls, and then stuck the other ends in styrofoam and left them for a few minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Even with the chocolate 'glue' a few fell off, but they weren't too bad.

Then I melted chocolate to dip them in - I made some milk chocolate and some white. The white melted better for dipping, but was harder to cover the dark coloured cake evenly without it showing through.

For some reason, even with adding oil to the milk chocolate, it was really thick. This made it difficult to dip, and the chocolate layer on my cake pops was pretty thick! Still yummy, but rich with so much chocolate.

Then I just sprinkled different coloured sprinkles on top of the still wet chocolate (or over some I drizzled melted chocolate of the other colour) and put them in the styrofoam to dry. 

For some reason - perhaps because I was so sick of them by the end - I forgot to take a picture of the finished cake pops by themselves, but you can see them here on the left in the picture of all the baby shower snacks. I put them on a wire cupcake stand to display them, the sticks through the holes in the stand.

They aren't too complicated or difficult for just about anyone to do - even kids could help with the decorating stage, just probably not the dipping stage - but they just take a loooong time.

If you really want them, maybe they'll be worth the effort to you, but if you can I'd recommend roping in some other to do it for you...I mean, help you do it...

If you are going to give them a go, a few tips:

- Use a metal cake pop mould tin - these have clamps that hold it shut so you won't have to trim them up at the end.
- Make sure your chocolate is runny by adding vegetable or coconut oil when you melt it,  or you will have more chocolate than cake 
- Pre-pierce holes in the styrofoam to rest your cake pops in. You don't want to try and push the delicate things in, or you will have balls falling off sticks and melted chocolate everywhere.
- Do it with friends - many hands make light work, as they say. I had my husband helping me in the end, because it was taking so long. I was also pregnant and exhausted which didn't help. But I reckon if you had a whole group of people, you could have fun.

Verdict: I'm happy to have given them a go, and they were well received, but at the end of the day...

ain't nobody got time for that!

Happy baking! (Or not!)

Then and Now

What my mornings used to look like.

And what they look like now...

With one obvious addition, they might look pretty similar. Except that what you can't tell is that cup of tea is cold and approximately every 30 seconds I'll reach over to put that green ring back in her hands.

Not much is the same after you have a baby. But I thank God that he is, and even though I have less time for sitting down for devotions, he finds ways to speak to me just the same.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Baby Shower Afternoon Tea


Food & Drink

We had way too much food of course, but it was all yummy. Favourites were the warm scones - plain with jm and cream, and cheese and chives with butter - and the cake pops. But the cake pops were so fiddly to make I dont think I can bring myself to ever do them again!

Tea, coffee, sparling wine, juice and lemon lime and bitters for drinks, in glasses with retro stripy straws. 

Games & Activities

- Guess the Jelly Babies in the jar on the way in the door
- Guess the baby details
 - Pass the parcel. Instead of just passing to music, each layer had an instruction like "pass to the woman who has had the most children". Some had a challenge, like diapering and dressing a teddy bear in 60 seconds. Each layer had a mini milky way, and the challenge participants won extra prizes like body products and homemade gifts like a mug cosie.

- Decorate onesies. A baby shower classic. We had fabric paint, fabric markers, stamps, fabric glue and precut fabric shapes. With that many options even the unartistic could easily make something.
Even my step-dad got in on the act when he came to pick my mum up.
He is artistic, though, and hand painted his.

- Celebrity baby faces. Teams tried to identify the celebrities from a combination of baby photos and clues.

- Baby Animals - name the baby for different animals from easy ones like Cat - Kitten, to more obscure like Platypus - Puggle!

- Make the Baby Face - I blew up and printed out pictures of my husband's and my faces, then cut out our features - eyes, ears, nose, mouth and eyebrows. Then guests combined these features and stuck them to paper to create a picture of our baby, adding in extra details like hair with textas. The results were hilarious, and I'm relieved to say our baby came out looking nothing like any of them!

- Favours

Feel free to "steal" any of my ideas. Hopefully I'll get my act together and put up some tutorials soon, but until then, if you want extra details, get in touch!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pillow case romper

We hosted a 60s/70s theme murder mystery night for my husbands birthday recently. And I wanted The Bubs to be in on the costumed act too.

The pattern for this cute pillow case romper is from Whimsy Couture and I just happened across the 60s theme fabric in Spotlight.

It was a pretty simple pattern and only took a couple of hours to whip up.

The pattern called for serging/overlocking some edges, but I don't have an overlocker, and it's only a costume so I'm not too worried about durability. I didn't even prewash or iron the fabric actually, which is a no-no. I only had a few hours to get it done and she only wore it for about 20 mins - enough time for everyone to see her and then she was off to bed.

The pattern includes instructions for adding either ruffles or a band to the bottoms. I chose to add the contrasting pink cuff.

And I just threaded a ribbon through the top to tie it up rather than sew a matching tie.

The only problem is, for a baby, you have to take the whole thing off for nappy changes. There are instructions for adding snaps, but it's shown on a short legged version. I guess you could do the same for the full length overalls, it would just take a lot more snaps.

They turned out so cute! I want to make some more for every day wear!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Daily life in photos...

Groovy baby. #lovejc

Yummy Sugar Free Sultana Cake

This is a go-to recipe that my husband whips up often. It's simple, quick and yummy. But normally it contains a cup of sugar and golden syrup, so it's not so healthy, and a definite no-no during our 100 days sugar free.

So we tried it out without any sugar to see if we could still make it work. It's such a quick cake to whip up if you're having guests over, it's versatile and tastes great so a sugar free, healthier version is just what we need.

BASE Ingredients:

2 cups SR flour
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
roughly 1 cup of milk - we never measure this, just add it gradually until the consistency is 'cake like'...

Fruit and flavour: (These ingredients are variable - choose your own combinations).

1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius.

Basically just chuck it all in and mix, adding the milk gradually like I said until it is a thick cake batter consistency. So easy. This cake can take literally 5 minutes to mix up.

Pour into a loaf tin.

Bake it for about 50 minutes, until it's golden on the outside and cooked in the middle.

We used to have problems with it being too dark on the outside and still gluggy in the middle, but we realised we had the oven up too high. If you still have problems, put some aluminium foil/tin foil over it for the last 20 minutes or so, to stop it getting too brown while the middle cooks.


You can add any combinations dried fruit and nuts you like - just make it up to about 1-2 cups worth of fruit and nuts. Keep in mind sultanas and apricots are good for adding sweetness to this sugarless cake.

  • Sultanas, currants, apricot, slivered almonds and shredded coconut
  • Or Sultanas, dried figs, pistachios and white chocolate chips
  • Or Sultanas, dried cranberries, dried apricots, pistachios and dark chocolate chips

Other additions - this is a super versatile cake, so experiment...


  • Substitute half of the white flour for wholemeal
  • Add in a few tablespoons of oats or oatmeal
  • Add a few tablespoons of LSA for an omega 3 and protein boost
  • Mix through 1 mashed banana plus half a tsp of bicarb soda

Serving suggestion: Best served warm with margarine or butter. Yum!

The texture of this is definitely a bit different to the sugar version, but if you hadn't tried the other version you wouldn't even know. It still tastes sweet and delicious.

Happy sugarless baking.

If you want to know the 'sugared' version, it's basically the same, just instead of the honey, add 2 TBS of golden syrup and 1 cup of raw sugar, and reduce it to 1 egg.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Mummy Wars

After writing about go-with-the-flow-parenting - or in other words, do what works and is best for you parenting - it got me thinking about why women can get such a hard time from other women when they become mothers. I'm sure almost every new mother, experienced mother, or pregnant woman can cite at least a few stories of unsolicited advice and unwelcome opinions.

It seems that somehow motherhood means women's lives become public property, open to anyone and everyone's opinion on how they are parenting, eating, living...

Why is that? Why do women make each other feel guilty or insecure far more often that we make each other feel supported and empowered in this area?

Partly it is within us - when we read or hear another woman talk about their successes, rather than just feeling happy for that woman, we put ourselves down. We feel insecure, like we aren't doing the same and maybe we should be, or why are they doing better than me?

And then sometimes it comes from outside. Sometimes well meaning advice ends up being condemning, but sometimes it's not so well meaning either.

What would motivate any woman to put another woman down?

If it was a life threatening behaviour that we were attacking you could understand it - if someone was driving with their newborn lying on the front seat of the car, well that would be one thing.

But mostly the strong reactions, the unsolicited advice and condescension comes for small reasons, like whether or not you use a dummy, formula feed or co-sleep.

Granted there can be harmful effects of improper use of just about anything, but mostly mothers are doing the best they can. Why do we not just give each other the benefit of the doubt that a woman has weighed up all the options and is doing what will work best for her and her family?

Instead we often seem to jump straight to 'that woman has no clue and I should set her straight'.

I think it is because we are easily threatened. It hits at our identity. Whether we consider ourselves career women or stay at home mums, it is natural for a woman to find the most validation in feeling that she is successful in the domestic sphere. Anything that makes us feel like we are failing, or not living up to the same standard as others, makes us feel that perhaps we are failing at being a woman.

No matter how feminist our society might become, women are always going to feel their value linked  to the issue of having children, because it will always be our domain. It something that will always separate men and women. So whether we do or don't have kids, whether we do or don't have a career as well as a family, we find our choices under scrutiny. Childbearing is entirely universal, so it ends up being something on which everyone, and certainly every woman, feels she is qualified to comment.

And that is on top of the pressure we put on ourselves. No matter how confident we are in the decisions we have made regarding children, there is almost always a voice of doubt because so many other women have made so many other decisions. How can we help but compare?

So when we see someone else we can criticise, it makes us feel better about our own choices. When we find someone else who is more inexperienced that we can impose our advice upon, we feel validated in our experience. When we see someone else failing, we respond with sympathy heavily tinged with relief that we are doing better.

We have to stop. We have to make a conscious decision to remember how hard we find it at times, and respond with grace to others. Support other mothers in their struggles and decisions. Choose to assume that they are trying their best. Make other women feel confident in their ability to succeed as a mother, rather than trying to give advice just to make ourselves feel better. Be honest about our own failings so other women don't feel like they are all alone.

Genuinely celebrate the success of other women.

When you respond with positivity to others you will find this actually washes away your own insecurities far more than negativity ever can.

Just because someone else does things differently to us, doesn't mean they are saying our way was wrong. They are a different person raising a different baby in a different family and perhaps even a different time.

Raising children can be the most challenging thing we will ever do in our lives - lets make it easier on each other by being in it together, rather than making it a competition. Lets put down the weapons and quit the war.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Daily life in photos...

The Bubs goes to the beach. #lovejc

Book Review: The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

I love reading, and I especially love reading a good series, because it doesn't have to be over when you get to the end of the book, because there's another one waiting. I've always been a fast reader too, which is a downside, because I get through books too quickly. I can't help it. So I need a long series to keep me going.

I love fantasy and sic fi, but the more pop versions of it. I'm not ashamed to say (well maybe I am mildly) that I read all four Twilight novels in a week, I cried when Dumbledore died and I had a literary crush on Prince Caspian from Narnia when I was younger...

But I also proudly assert that I loved the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and the Narnia series long before they were movies!

It seemed so easy to find books to read when I was younger, thanks to prolific writers like Blyton. I really wanted my own Wishing Chair and a Faraway tree in my back yard.

These days I find it harder to find long series I love. Adult fiction sometimes gets too serious, or is just fluff. I like to escape into my novels. So this series is perfect for that. It's the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.

The Eyre Affair is the first in the series based around the adventures of Thursday Next, a literary detective. It is set in a fictional version of the UK, being a parallel universe where things are slightly different to our own. Not only does Thursday fight literature related crime in the Real World, but there is also a whole world inside books too. Thursday gets entangled with the policing department, Jursifiction, inside the Book World as well as her life in the Real World.

I just love that idea! Who would love to be able to read themselves into a book and actually meet the written characters. It's fun and clever, and I love Fforde's creativity through this whole series. Thursday is a tough, gutsy female character but really relatable too. It references a lot of books, both popular and classics, so you'll get it more if you're familiar with them but its not essential.

I have the first 5 books of the series in paper copy, but I bought the latest two novels to read in the Kindle App on my iPad. I still love having the real hardcopies of books. There's just something about them that digital can't replace. But when a large proportion of my day is spent holding a baby, ebooks are much easier.

Sometimes I lie down with The Bubs to feed and fall asleep, and I'll often read then if I don't nap too. One day I took a paper book with me to read. It was only after I lay down in a darkened room that I realised that I wouldn't be  able to read it - obviously paper doesn't emit light like an iPad screen. Yet. I'm sure one day they'll invent that.

Until then, ebooks are handy for one handed and dark situations.

So if your looking for a fun series, give Thursday Next a go.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Mummy Diaries: Motherhood and Identity

No matter how much or how long you've wanted to become a mother before you actually have children, I don't think anything can completely prepare you for what it's going to be like, and how it's going to change your life; how it's going to change you.

Marriage already showed me that when it came to the crunch I wasn't always as selfless and patient as I thought I was, and there were some things I needed to work on about myself. And I do it because I love my husband, and that love is worth it.

The becoming a mother, taking this real little person home from the hospital, the world entrusting you to care for her... that's a whole 'nother level.

After 9 months of giving over my body to grow this little human, I was looking forward to the relief of getting my body back for myself. Little did I know that now I would be giving a whole lot more.

In those first weeks and months everything you do is for that little helpless person. If they need you to hold them, feed them, rock them, soothe them 24/7, you're there. You're doing it. You'll give them everything you've got, because you love them with every fibre of your being.

Then things start to settle down. They'll continue to need you, but you find more moments apart. When they go longer between feeds and they start to be able to play, and others entertain them for a while, then you start to find some breathing room.

The first time I left the house and drove the car to the supermarket all on my own felt so strange. The last time I had walked down a supermarket aisle I had been waddling like duck, a fat, pregnant duck. And my feet had hurt after roughly 3 and a half minutes.

And this was the first time I had left the house without my baby in over 10 months.

For those 10 months of pregnancy and new motherhood, I had been defined by this baby. Everywhere I went, she was with me. She affected how I felt, what I did, what I ate, how people responded to me, the decisions I made about the future...

It affects you in big ways obviously. You know your life is going to be different - work, socialising, sleep. You know, at least in big overarching terms, your life is going to change.

But it's the little things you don't always think about.

In a subsequent lone shopping trip, I was driving my car listening to a playlist from my phone plugged in to the stereo, and I had a memory. I remembered how I used to drive to work every day in this car, which had once been 'my' car, and listen to music. Half and hour there, half an hour back.

Now I don't drive more the 5 minutes away alone, I don't go to a job every day, and even the car isn't 'mine' any more since we now only have one car and it's 'ours'.

It's not even that I loved my job or that it defined me, but it was those little things that were mine, that made up me. And now they are different. No wonder some days you feel all upside down and back to front. Even those little things have changed.

These are not necessarily bad changes - but if you aren't aware of them, they can one day sneak up and smack you down. You don't even know why, you just don't feel yourself anymore.

So we need to acknowledge the things we use to define ourselves, the things that have made up our identity. Look back and think of the things, big and small, that used to make up who you were and acknowledge that they have changed. Now look at what you have now, and the new things that make up your day to day life.

Then the next step is the most important - decide that these little daily things don't define you.

This is important for several reasons. One, if you let all those daily things you do define who you are, then when they change completely, like when you become a mother, it's like the carpet has been ripped from under you.

And secondly, if the things you DO solely define you, then when you feel like you can't manage to DO anything some days, you will feel like a failure.

And let me tell you, you're not a failure. You have produced and are keeping alive another human being. Some days you won't feel like you've done anything productive other than feed and change diapers. And hopefully feed yourself a little, even if it was on chocolate bars.

In all times of life, and especially in motherhood, we need to define ourselves not by what we DO, but by who we are.

If you define yourself as a person who keeps the house spotless and runs her life like clockwork, then when you can't do that, you'll feel like you're failing. But if you define yourself as someone who loves her family no matter what, then even when the house is chaos and you're about 5 days behind schedule, you might feel worn out but you know you still love your family with everything you've got.

Define yourself by your love, your faith, your values, and the way you treat others. No matter the daily circumstances, the minutiae of life - even if the life you live now looks nothing like who you were 1 year ago - those foundations don't change.

Your labels might have changed - from just wife, career woman and fashion lover to nappy changer, milk machine and midday pyjama wearer -  but your identity can stay rock solid.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Go with the flow parenting

I think every mother could write their own parenting book... Problem is, probably nothing in it would work for anyone else. Every family is different. Even every child is different in the same family.

That's why I've decided on my own parenting theory. It's called Go With The Flow. Otherwise known as forget-what-anyone-else-thinks-and-do-what-works theory.

In my head I've run the gamut if parenting styles and theories. One day I literally read what must have been about 50 parenting articles online from cry it out to natural parenting and attachment theory. By the end I couldn't think straight, and if I'd tried to follow them all both The Bubs and I would have had nervous break downs within the week. It's like when you mix every single paint colour together - what started off as a pretty, vibrant colours ends up a big blob of goo. That was my brain.

The thing is, I could find something to relate to in every single theory. Something about all of them made sense.

And that's where the bottom line is - the parts that made sense were down to common sense.

So I've stopped reading parenting articles. And I've stopped worrying about what other people will think if I tell them I do or don't co-sleep/sleep train/do tummy time/baby wear/use a dummy/insert highly charged issue here.

I just do what works. Especially in those early few months where it seems your baby is changing minute by minute before your eyes. Why kill yourself worrying about what your baby 'should' be doing when it's likely everything will have changed by tomorrow anyway?

It should go without saying that you and your baby should be safe and getting fundamental needs met like love, food and sleep - but with common sense applied, I don't care if your baby sleeps in a cot, bassinet, sling, your bed or a flower pot like a little Anne Geddes model. If your baby sleeps, well done.

If you give it a chance, instinct takes over. I don't know where it comes from, but somehow it's in there how to take care of my baby. You learn it subtly by just being with your baby. Osmosis or something.

I mean, I'm no parenting expert. I've only had one baby so far and she's only 3 months old. But I've got something no 'expert' has. I know MY baby. And you've got that knowledge too, of yours.

Honestly it probably helps to NOT read too much. I read everything, my husband read nothing, and somedays he's even better at reading The Bub's cues than I am.

So if you're a new mum here's what I recommend...

....put the book down. A few tips might work but almost no baby will go 'by the book'. Getting too coaught up in 'But the book says...' short circuits your own instincts. You end up feeling like you are stuck with one style. I remember liking a lot of things about attachment parenting, but then I would feel guilty if I got sick of having my baby in a sling and wanted to put her down. Until I realised - hey, I didn't sign a contract. No one is making me do this. I can pick and choose!

....close that worry inducing Internet forum. Other mothers will be opinionated. And they will exaggerate. When it seems like everyone else's babies are sleeping through the night.... trust me, they're the vocal minority.

....install a zip in well meaning relatives mouths. Ok, so it's maybe hard to do this one. But at least try and stuff your ears with imaginary cotton wool. Nod and smile. Nod and smile. And then go about your day.

And just try to enjoy this time. They really are only this little for such a short time - I already can barely remember The Bubs when she was all floppy and newborn size, and I already miss how she fit so snugly against my chest while she slept there instead of in her cot.

I do appreciate the irony of writing a parenting post to say stop reading parenting posts! But I guess what my point is, is not so much to never read anything, but to not get so caught up in going by the book or comparing yourself with others.

Surround yourself with people who encourage and affirm you, and make you feel confident in your instinct and abilities as a mother - or father - no matter what your 'style'.

Don't miss out on such a precious time out of fear and worry and guilt. There's plenty of time for those feelings when they are teenagers...

What's the best parenting advice you've been given? How do you deal with the opinions and unsolicited advice of others? I'd love to hear your stories!

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