Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Christmas Adventures

We've been very festive this year. I think having kids make you enjoy the holidays that much more. I'm fairly certain that Brett and I are more excited for Christmas morning than C is. Although, she does keep asking for her presents - anytime she seems something even remotely present looking she gets extremely excited and says "PRESENT!"

Last weekend, we went to the Christmas Parade that is put on by Myer on Queen Street in the city. We were quite disappointed though. It was really short and the amount of people that were there was insane. I looked later and think that we may have missed a huge part of it though...

We went to a farm supply store, with Kahlee (Brett's sister - they are a client of hers) that was putting on a Christmas event for kids. They had a small petting zoo, free sausage sizzle, Santa and lots of other great things for kids. C had a great time with the animals and talking to Santa, of course.

She loved holding the chickens

Wasn't too sure about the calf

or Santa...

at first. Great ice breaker - "Grass."

She eventually had a long conversation with Santa, ending with what she wanted for Christmas- "Baby D-time" a bedtime book (It's actually called Baby Bedtime)

I was really worried that she would squish that baby duckling because she was really excited

I have also been doing more Christmas crafts. I am re-teaching myself how to crochet. I taught myself how to crochet a little in college but haven't done it in years. I really like to crochet around Christmas (even though it's extremely hot here.) So I've made myself some slippers, which won't be used for months but they were incredibly easy and they'll be great to have in the winter on our cold tile floors. 

I've also just finished making a string of Christmas lights. I found the pattern here. And they were also extremely easy, just very time consuming. I really like how they turned out. 

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Vegan Sugar Cookies

One of the main reasons I love Christmas so much is the excessive Christmas baking that goes on. I remember my Mom and Aunt Kim baking a crazy amount during the holidays. I remember chocolate dipped cookies, green Christmas tree cookies, and apple pies made by Mom and bon bons, church windows, pumpkin pies and sugar cookies made by my Aunt.

My brother loved my Aunt's sugar cookies so much that one year when she didn't have time she decided not to make them. When we went to my Aunt's for Christmas, my brother excitedly went to the kitchen to grab some of his favorite cookie and was devastated when he learned that my aunt hadn't made them that year. So, for my brother's birthday in January my Aunt made a huge batch of her sugar cookies as a gift. My brother loved that and I know he won't soon forget the effort my Aunt made for his birthday. A much better gift than most, I say.

I really want to bake all the lovely things for my girls that my Mom and Aunt did while we were growing up but we usually don't eat much sugar or any at all. I searched for a sugar free recipes of many of my favorites but then decided that Christmas is a special time of year and that a bit of sugar won't hurt them. It will be even more special if they only get it very occasionally during special times.

So, I found a Vegan Sugar Cookie recipe online and decided that I would make them with C and her friend D and D's mother Suz.
Dough ready to be put in the fridge

C rolling out the dough (really just playing with it)

C and D playing with the dough

ready to be put in the oven

Suz and D decorating the cookies

not what I expected when decorating but equally as messy

icing the cookies

the only cookie she was allowed. It was so covered with icing that it was disintegrating.


So pretty. 

The mess. 

It was extremely messy but great fun. And the girls had a wonderful time. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sugar-Free Vegan Bran Muffins

I've recently made some delicious bran muffins that are sugar-free and vegan and I wanted to share the recipe. It's adapted from this recipe.

Vegan Sugar-free Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg replacer
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup walnuts or other nut of choice

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin papers

Mix together wheat bran and soymilk; let stand for at least 10 minutes

Beat together oil, egg replacer, banana and vanilla then add soymilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients, until just blended. Fold in raisins or nuts and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Enjoy :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Another Down-Under Thanksgiving

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving in Australia again. The original plan was to be in America with my side of the family but we couldn't make it because of the new baby (and flying with a 2 year old is the exact opposite of fun). But that didn't stop us from celebrating and having a really good time. 

Knowing that Thanksgiving dinner usually takes nearly all day to prepare - without two small children to look after - I started making dinner early in the morning and Brett's lovely sister and her partner came over very early to help look after the girls! (Thank you!) 

Basically the day went well, making dinner, hanging out and ended with a lovely apple pie (a la mode of course) 

Our Thanksgiving dinner menu:
  • Mom's Seitan Roast -Which was amazing, Mom! Even all of the meat lovers enjoyed it! (I'll hopefully post the recipe soon after I ask for permission)
  • Brett's mashed potatoes with gravy - they're different every time and always delicious
  • Amazing green bean casserole - From FatFreeVegan, this is actually my most favorite holiday dish
  • Stuffing
  • and jellied cranberry sauce!
  • Apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert
Super tasty Seitan Roast

Yummy apple pie

C ready to eat!

Brett was attempting to hold E up without being seen...

Everything was extremely tasty and we have hardly any left-overs, which is a good thing (I didn't have to put anything away last night) and bad thing (I want more this morning).

Happy Thanksgiving!!

And so, on to Christmasy things! We're getting out the tree and decorations this weekend! Yippee! Hello hardcore Christmas baking and crafts!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving with lots of loved ones!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Salt dough Ornaments

I've always loved Christmas - even as an atheist - but as an adult with two small children, it's much more about the lead up to Christmas that I enjoy now. I love holiday baking/cooking and Christmas crafts. Yesterday C and I started the Christmas time activities. I made a giant red and green Christmas chain that hangs from one side of the living room to the other. We also made gingerbread cookies and salt dough ornaments. 

C loved using the cookies cutters and the rolling pin. 

gingerbread "spidermen" 
(I'm not sure why she was calling the man cookie cutter a "spiderman")


1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1 cup water (roughly)

Mix together with hands, roll out, cut shapes and bake at 100 degrees C for about 6 hours

I used a bit of sea salt in my dough because I wanted it too look a bit like snow but I think I would do without next time. 

We haven't finished painting them yet. I painted a few last night to make sure that they looked alright with the sea salt in them. I think painting these will be a weekend Xmas project. 

Hope you'll be enjoying the Holiday season with crafts and baking too! 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reupholstered Glider Chair

This post is really just to show off one of the projects I accomplished while waiting for baby #2 to arrive.

One of the things I had on my "To-Do Before Baby Arrives" list was buy a second hand glider chair. I didn't intend on reupholstering it until I got it home and realized that I really hated the upholstery. The chair and cushions are in great condition but I couldn't get over the ugly fabric. So, I went to Spotlight and found some great fabric that we liked (they were having a great sale on decorating fabric, bonus!) and got online to figure out how to reupholster glider chairs.

I used this blog to help me work out how I would go about this project. All I did, really, was make slip covers for all of the cushions because they are all easily removed from the chair. I measured each cushion, cut the fabric to be slightly larger, sewed the fabric pieces together and then used snaps to close off one of the sides. 

Chair and ottoman before

Chair after

Chair and ottoman after
I even had enough fabric left over to reupholster our 6 dining room chairs. They look really fantastic.

And of course, a picture of the girls - C loves to lay in bed with us in the morning after she wakes up. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our new addition

This blog has been neglected for much too long but it has been for good reason. We have spent the last few months preparing our home for a new addition and a few weeks ago we welcomed our second baby into the world. We had a beautiful, uncomplicated home birth that lasted only a few hours and have been getting settled in ever since.

C is coping surprisingly well and loves her new sister. We're all getting used to the new addition and getting to know her more everyday.

Our lovely midwife, Debbie, took this photo minutes after E was born. 

One of the first times C got to hold her new sister

Dad with her girls

E's first trip to the beach

Sisterly love

I'm hoping that I'll be posting more because we're getting more settled all the time. xo

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fermentation Frenzy

Ever since I read Michael Pollan's article, Some of My Best Friends are Germs, a few months ago I had been wanting to try fermenting some veggies but was actually a little scared by it because I thought that I could make my family really sick if I did something wrong (which is also why I don't make jam).

Then about two weeks ago I read another article in Nurture Magazine by Dr. Sarah Lantz about the amazing health benefits of fermentation and decided that I really needed to give it a try. And I am SO glad that I did. I am now addicted to home fermented veggies and won't ever buy store bought pickles again.

To begin with I pickled some jalapenos just to see if I was doing it correctly and they turned out great so I then tried cucumbers, green beans - which are by far my favorite - cabbage and even carrots. I love them all but the green beans are fantastic. We ate an entire jar in just one day.

So, I highly recommend trying to ferment some things at home. It really is incredibly easy and the end product is nourishing and so tasty.

My pickled veggies. So yum!

The process I used was a combination of many things I read online. 

Firstly, I made a brine of good Australian sea salt, water and white vinegar -you can leave the vinegar out, I just really love vinegar. 

Next I added spices to my jars, a few slices of green chili in some, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, dill, pepper corns. Really anything you think you might enjoy. 

Then I packed my veggies into the jars and poured my brine over the top (I waited to pour in the brine until all of the salt had dissolved). In some of the jars I added a piece of cabbage to hold the veggies down in the brine but I don't think that it's really necessary. Then I put on the lids. I reused jars that I've been collecting along with the lids and it worked great. 

Lastly, I sat them in a warm place for about 4 days and then gave them a try. We loved how they tasted so we put them in the fridge and started to eat them. Yum! 

Seriously, it's really easy. I hope you all give home fermentation a try!

We've made an entire wall in our house C's Gallery Wall and she loves to look at her paintings. (There are many more since this picture)

Making more art for her Gallery Wall with homemade finger-paint.

C and her cousins

We found this hat and C really likes looking at herself with it on. 

We were in NSW this past weekend visiting C's cousin for his birthday so I will hopefully be adding a lot of new photos soon. Fingers crossed.

Hope you're all well!