Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Ideal Kitchen

Since I started the Whole30 and adopted a Paleo diet, I am cooking more than ever. Three 'proper' meals a day. That means a lot of pots and pans, and a lot of washing up. It also means I am always searching for space on the benchtop, in the fridge, and for new appliances. I dream of a bigger kitchen, and new gadgets daily, so when asked if I would like to write a post about my ideal kitchen I was more than happy to oblige.

My dream kitchen would be BIG! It would have deep wooden benches, and be a very light and open space. I picture a large wooden dining table beyond one of the work tops, against a wall of glass with stunning views over the vegetable patch and out to rolling green hills, or maybe a wide blue ocean. These are the best images I can find to give the idea of what I am meaning - but not quite how it is in my dream.

There would be a double sink, or maybe two, a huge fridge freezer, a large built-in oven and a sizeable induction hob too.

I would keep all laundry items out of the kitchen - there would be a separate room for those. A microwave can be handy - I don't use them much, only to melt ghee and reheat things really, not for cooking, as to me, things never taste so good from a microwave.

I am currently hanging out for one of the super blender/juicers. I saw the Vitamix in action at Britmums and my research into this product has also led me to discover this great Australian Optimum blender, which could suit me even better.

I also have lots of less expensive items on my current dream list. One of the greatest new discoveries of my Paleo lifestyle is sweet potato chips. I made some of those for BB's birthday party. I sliced the sweet potato with a knife, but realised that a mandoline would make for a far more consistent thickness and crispiness. That will realistically be my next purchase, meanwhile, the rest is nice dream!

This post was sponsored by Electrolux

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chicken Dilemma's

It seems that lots of my posts recently have Dilemma in the title. I did house-share with a guy once that called me Emma Dilemma, but I thought I'd got better. I seem to be slipping into some sort of relapse.

This week's dilemma has been chickens. We had three chickens. I got them around the same time I got pregnant with BB (actually during those few days when I was pregnant, but before I knew it). Getting chickens was very carefully considered. I went on a chicken keeping course, and I selected my chickens with the rational head of a Farmer: Small birds that lay a lot, and die soon after their laying is done, so you are not feeding huge appetites, or an unproductive bird for too long after laying stops.

Chickens are great. They are such fun pets, they eat all your scraps and they make you food in the form of gorgeous eggs. What more could you possibly want from a pet. BB loves them and has enjoyed taking care of them as you may have seen in the videos we posted recently. (OK, so there are minor injuries involved in both films, but he learnt valuable lessons both times!)

They do however take up quite a large proportion of our available outdoor space. earlier this year we had one bird losing feathers due to lice that would not respond to treatment. A friend has recently replaced her hen house with a plastic one to prevent this problem and I considered doing the same - but it is another expense!

If we didn't have chickens we wouldn't need a new hen house and we could get rid of the chicken run and create a bigger garden for BB.

Earlier this year when Vera the black chook died, I decided that we would see these girls to the end of their lives and then expand the garden. It seemed like the right choice. Amber the white chook died on Monday and so I contacted a friend who had said she would take my last remaining bird (Old Speckled Hen) and she said she would come to collect her the next morning.

That was the day that I was finalising all the video of BB and the chooks for his 2nd year post. He loved those chickens. Maybe it is worth keeping that bit of garden for the birds.

I went to bed that night and couldn't sleep. It was more of the whole identity crisis thing - I am not ready to stop being a chicken Mama. I love being a chicken Mama. There is also the fact that BB loves chickens. It is great having them in our yard. They are perfect pets. BB is learning to care for other living things and is entertained by them for hours. I started to think I was making the wrong choice and that I shouldn't let her go.

As I looked out at the garden on Tuesday morning I decided that I like it how it is. It is just getting established. It works, we fit lots into a small space but it's functional. Also, now that I am getting more and more used to living in an overcrowded country again, rather than the outback, I appreciate that actually, our outdoor space is reasonably sized compared to many places.

I cooked my breakfast - fried eggs and sweet potato hash. The eggs were expensive, organic, free range ones. They were OK, but nowhere near as nice as the ones we get from our own hens. I have been looking for several weeks for some eggs I actually really like - I haven't found them yet...

So, when my friend arrived, wellies on, and ready for a bit of chicken chasing, I shared my dilemma. "I don't think I am ready to let her go" I said. She was very understanding. "Keep her then" she said, "get some more!" She then proceeded to tell me about some great hens she got recently that were ex battery and couldn't even walk on arrival. She pointed out that my garden was perfectly set up for them, and that bought eggs are just nowhere near as good. It's true - I have all the infrastructure.  And yes, they lay great eggs.

And so, my friend left - and the chicken stayed!

The poor lonely chicken was not happy though. On Wednesday she spent the whole day just sitting under the nest box. Yesterday she wasn't even interested in ham (her favourite food). So, I boxed her up and took her to my friend's place, where she has joined lots of happy hens. She seemed to settle in quite well - there were a few pecks here and there as she worked out her place in the pecking order, but generally it seemed to go quite smoothly!

I will wait a week or two, just to see how I feel, but then I think I will give the hen house a good clean, and the yard, and then go and rescue a few more birds to keep that little corner of our yard full of life.

Unless I change my mind again of course.

What do you think I should do?

Birds Eye Fish Burgers - Review

We were recently asked if we fancied trying the new Birds Eye Fish Burgers and reviewing them. I said yes. BB liked fish when he first started eating solid food, the he went off it. His Dad really hates fish, so we did wonder for a while it there was something inherited that made it taste bad, but recently, since I have gone Paleo and have been cooking lots of fish, BB has started to really like it, especially salmon.

He also has fish fingers sometimes when we are out. Fish fingers, chips and peas is usually the healthiest  option on the Children's menu (yes, a sad state of affairs I know, but also a fact), so when we got our Birds Eye Fish Burgers I decided I would cook them for him with chips and peas - just like when we are out.

I was surprised to find that they were square. Not that that makes much difference really. I am more interested in what is in them. 100% fish apparenlty - pollock to be exact, surrounded by breadcrumbs. We oven cooked it along with the chips, which means they are very easy to prepare.

Once it was cooked I cut it open to inspect the contents. Nice fish, but not all in one piece. I guess that it what you would expect. It is a burger, and you don't get square fish very often. It looked good. I had a little taste of the fish myself and it tasted nice.

BB was impressed. He doesn't get dinner like this very often at home.

He did however pick out all the fish and leave the breadcrumb crust behind,

BB's plate when he had finished
That's what he usually does with fish fingers too.

The verdict then. It is good quality fish and it tastes good. I probably wont buy them again as I don't eat wheat, and BB also clearly prefers the fish without the breadcrumb, so we will stick our usual 'naked' fillets. If you have a child that likes fish fingers, or who is difficult to get good food into, these would be a great option as the fish inside is good. I can also see that they would work well in a bread roll if you wanted to make your own fillet o fish burgers!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

BB's Birthday Parties

BB had two parties this year. One for his toddler friends, and one with family. I decided to keep them separate as my house is only small, and my Nan is 98, in a wheelchair, and has very limited vision so we didn't think she would enjoy the toddler party very much.

The toddler day was Saturday. Luckily the weather wasn't as sunny as it has been, but was still dry, which meant our garden, which has no shade, was perfectly accessible for the whole day. Five friends came (unfortunately two of his best friends couldn't make it). We had a great time.

Putting fuel (stones) in the car

Playing in the sand tray

I think our party space looked quite inviting in the end. I kept trying to frame shots to include everything - only to discover that all the kids had disappeared from view by the time I was ready though!

Winner of Pass the Parcel.
Not looking that pleased with his prize!

At this point I think they were testing to see
how many toddlers you can fit in a playhouse

Lots of fruit and veg ended up in that sage bush!

Sharing the trampoline

They took it in turns nicely in the car

BB knew exactly what he had to do with the candles
The toddler party ran really smoothly - it was a breeze actually. No mess, no fighting, the only slight problem was one little boy fell in the paddling pool fully clothed, but that was easily fixed with a pair of  shorts that BB has outgrown. They all played together really well and it was much easier than I thought it would be.

We kept to the Blissful Birthday traditions, Balloons, Bunting and Birthday Cake - we also added a few bubbles this time too. For those people asking where I got my bunting, here's a link as promised.

The next day though, when all the family came, was a bit of a nightmare. I think I had false expectations after the toddler day was so easy. Family stayed for nearly 4 hours after the party should have ended which made for a very tired little boy, who was still catching up two days later. There was also much more mess! In hindsight that will be because each toddler came with a mum who cleaned up after them. The toddlers also ate outside, from paper plates, and mostly brought their own cups. Family ate in the lounge and generated washing up and vacuuming. I was absolutely shattered by the time I had put BB into bed and finished cleaning up. It was all worth it though.

I am forever grateful to my sister who came and helped me both days, and with all the food prep in the evenings and mornings before the parties. I couldn't have done it without her. It is at times like this that you wish there was a partner to help out, especially in the aftermath when everyone has left and there is just mess - even just for moral support, or to make you a Gin!

BB the Ice Cream Seller!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Whole 30 Day 23

As promised - here are all the pics of my food.

Breakfast was two eggs with sweet potato hash. The eggs were bought ones as my chickens have dwindled down to one. Eatong them made me want to get more chickens though - they are just not as nice!

Lunch was awful. It is my Nan's 98th Birthday today and we went to lunch at the place of her choice - one of those pub restaurants that bulk buy pre packaged meals and reheat them. I dislike them for all sorts of reasons, but Nan can't see very well and they are nice and light, they are also good at catering for 2 years olds. The best thing I could see on the menu from a whole30 perspective was chicken and bacon salad. I removed the croutons and didn't use the dressing. The bacon was OK, the chicken was too tough to chew and so I didn't eat any of it. I'd say I ate half of the meal - maximum.

I wasn't perfect at dinner either - though it was much nicer. I decided to finish off all the salad that was left over from the weekend. The original plan was to have it with a tin of tuna, but when I put it all in a dish there was heaps, so i felt I didn't need the tuna at all. So it was protienless. I may pay for that with hunger later, and I know it wasn't whole 30 compliant, but...

I am struggling to get back into the flow - as you may have noticed, but hopefully tomorrow when O can eat three meals at home with no guests to consider it will all become easy again.

Also doing Whole 30 July 

Peek-a-Boo Rainbow - Book Review

Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book
Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book
For the last few weeks BB has been learning his colours. He still has a way to go on this! His general answer is 'red' and sometimes he is right! We have been focusing on red though, seeing as that is his chosen one, and when we are out and about in his red push chair we are always on the look out for red things. 

We have also been getting colour books out of the library, and were recently fortunate to have been given a copy of this excellent Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book by a Parragon Rep at Britmums Live.

I love this book. There are so many things about which make it different from the other colour books we have had. It is made of really thick, quality board to start with, and the top if the book, above the rainbow, forms a little handle, ideal for little hands to carry it around. BB really likes this feature.

Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book

I have tried to show in this picture how the rainbow is created from the colour on each page, building up a 3D picture.
Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book

The Peek-a-Boo, comes from the fact the colour on the next page is peeking though a little hole somewhere on the present one. so you can ask your child what colour they think is coming next. BB isn't quite able to do that yet, but he does love the 'hole' (he is currently fascinated with holes) and pokes his finger in at the next colour.

The book is part of the Little Learners range and is described as being suitable from birth.

The Peek-a-Boo Rainbow Board Book can be purchased here

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - Light Up Sound Book Review

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - Light Up Sound Board Book
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - Light Up Sound Board Book

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star has been a favourite song in this house ever since BB was born. On our early car journeys he would get upset (I like to think because he could not see me), but as soon as I started singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star he would stop crying, and often even fall asleep. The same song would also work when he was in the pram and getting restless or hungry toward the end of a journey.

Even though he's now two, it's still a favourite. Recently we were given a copy of beautiful board book which has buttons to press, lighting up pictures and creating sounds to accompany the telling of this favourite nursery rhyme by a Parragon Rep at Britmums Live. My first thought was that BB might be too old for this book, but no, not at all! He loves it.

Now that he is starting to talk he 'reads' along with me. He insists that we read this book every night, and he goes through all 4 of the buttons to hear all the sounds. I have been pointing at the individual words as I say them to help him get used to the idea that text has meaning and he demonstrated that he understood that as we waited in line at our corner shop this morning, tracing words on crisp bags with his fingers and 'reading'.

The book is made of really thick board and is of excellent quality. The lights and sounds include the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and the sound of an owl hooting (our favourite). They are powered by batteries which are replaceable via a childproof, screw fastened battery case. The book is in the Little Learner's range and says it is suitable from 1 year, though I'm sure you could read it to a baby younger than that. I would definitely recommend it from our experience with it.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Light and Sound Board Book can be purchased here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Whole 30 - I'm still here

I thought I would do a quick catch up post, then it wont be so overwhelming tomorrow as I can just carry on with the daily posts.

Life has been a bit crazy here as my son turned two and I hosted two parties at the weekend - on saturday we had a house full of toddlers, and on Sunday a house full of family.

On Friday all was good - I cant remember what I had for brekkie, but I think from Instagram clues it was sweet potato hash and fried egg. Lunch was at my Nan's and it was chicken and salad, and dinner at home was salmon and salad.

On saturday morning I was a little bit naughty - my sister was here and I just had to show her how lovely Paleo Pancakes are. For party food I made lots of Paleo stuff, including little quiches made using bacon in place of pastry, some sweet potato chips and dips. I avoided the cake and all things bad so that was fine. dinner was more of the same, and then I drank wine! - So Saturday not so great on the whole30 front.

Sunday breakfast was sweet potato has and fried egg, lunch was more sweet potato chips and dips, with home cooked ham and salad. Dinner was more of the same.

Breakfast today was the last two of the bacon quiches with some left over carrot and celery sticks. Lunch was left over salad and ham, dinner was salad and tuna.

Tomorrow we are out to lunch with my Nan for her 98th Birthday. I'll do my best. I am going to try and get back on track with photographing everything tomorrow.

The only photo I have is of the quiches. I got the idea here, but I added onion mushroom and spinach to the egg. The bacon I used was also different to this, being quite bread at one end, meaning that the bottoms of the quiches were surrounded by bacon too - it's genius I'm telling you! I will definitely be making more of these. The are a great breakfast. I'll do a batch and keep them in the fridge so that I have a few breakfasts sorted.

The Blissful Boy is Two!

In honour of the Blissful Boy turning two, here is a little summary of his second year, month by month. There have been so may 'first time' experiences, and so much as changed. My baby is a little boy now - and a very cute one too!

On his birthday last year. Not quite walking
 but enjoying holding people's hands and
testing out his new soft leather baby shoes


This is the month that he began to walk, that his Aussie Grandma came to visit, and when he was Christened. 
Nearly walking - from table to shelf!

Shearing his car with a friend at the Christening

Dancing to the folk music on holiday - the only footage I have of him with his Grand-Tante, PP's mum.

Taking his first steps - so pleased I caught some of this on camera - though you may note that he is just falling down in a lot of the scenes and I missed the actual walking part - still - you definitely get the idea.


Walking is mastered, now he can get outsideand into the sand pit before he's
even dressed in the morning!


Confident enough to really start exploring the garden now

Plus his first walk on the beach and his first rock pooling experience


First Masterpieces


We planted an Oak tree and plan to take photos every year of BB and the tree. He also had his first winter Christmas.

With Grandma and the Oak tree


First walk in the snow
First walk in the snow


First haircut. Even more traumatic for me than for him! He also started to enjoy cooking - and tasting!


 First walk in spring - curious about the little plants sprouting up out of the ground.

First 'motorbike' - like Daddy!


Finally, after months and months of winter the sun came out and suddenly there a whole new world to explore - the back yard!

Feeding the chickens became a favourite past time. Note he is even pulling up the weeds as he goes!


We  move into more advanced chicken keeping


His first love - he's still talking about her, and he has a truck that she gave him which he named after her, and a cup she used which has her name too.


And finally, here he is earlier this month - with his friend T.

What a great year we have had. Thank you Blissful Boy, for sharing it with me.

Vital Statistics at age Two

Height = 90cm
Weight = 14.0Kg
Head Circumference = 49.5cm


Everything Trains
His toys that Grace gave him - the Men and the truck
Tumble Tots
All sorts of climbing and jumping and crashing


Vacuum cleaners

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Whole 30 Day 18

Soooo tired!

The reason for that being that I really haven't slept enough for the last few nights. I have been working late and up early, and then last night BB had me awake for half the night.

I also have no appetite. My plan for breakfast, which was inspired by mini bacon egg cups went wrong when we only had one egg! I really need to get used to this. I am used to having plentiful eggs, but recently my chickens are down to two, only one of which is laying, sporadically! I never remember to buy eggs in the supermarket, or to put them on a shopping order.

I wasn't actually hungry, so I considered just skipping breakfast altogether. I decided it best not to do that and ended up finishing the rhubarb that I cooked the other day. I was expecting to feel hungry and then have a full lunch and dinner to make up for it, but at lunch time I wasn't hungry either.

I'm not really sure what I am supposed to do when that happens. I guess I should go onto the forum and find out, but I haven't done yet. I remember reading in the book about starting to know your body signals and your appetite, and it would eventually regulate itself. That certainly didn't happen last time, but I did stick to a Paleo diet for most of the time since my last whole 30 so I would expect to be closer to finding some sort of equilibrium this time. It has been hot too and I have been drinking lots of water, so perhaps those factors are contributing too.

Anyway - for dinner I did eat, even though I still wasn't very hungry. I made it up as I went along really, starting with frying some bacon bits and then mixing them with avocado, spring onion and radish, adding a dressing of dairy free pesto and lemon juice, and serving on some baby leaf salad. It was really nice, even though reading that back it does sound like a slightly odd combination.

Tomorrow I am going to try and eat three meals - but make them smaller - we have one egg now. I think I will fry that and eat it with some sweet potato hash for brekkie. I am out for lunch so will make the chicken and avocado salad again, and then for dinner maybe some fish. We'll see how I go!

Sorry no photo of rhubarb - wasn't that attractive anyway!

Also doing whole 30 July 

Molly and The Princess

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whole 30 day 17

Today started out great. My son slept until 7 so I had a bit if a lay in. This did however mean that breakfast was a little more rushed than usual as we had to go out this morning. Having just discovered the delights of mushroom and pesto omelette with sweet potato hash, along with how quick and easy it is to make from scratch, that's what I had again. I didn't bother publishing it on Instagram again, but as I considered not photographing it all I realised that this was a potential way for me to cheat. I could just say I had the same as yesterday while eating weetabix on toast! Of course I didn't eat weetabix on toast - so here's the photo.

This breakfast is quite filling so I didn't need lunch and I was quite excited about the coconut chicken I was planning for dinner. Unfortunately the chicken I used was not good (it wasn't from my usual supplier . Having been a vegetarian for so long, mostly because I didn't like meat, I am still a bit fussy. I don't like to have to chew things too much and be reminded that it's flesh in my mouth. This chicken was tough. I don't think it was my cooking method (immersed in coconut milk and garam masala, casserole style) as I have done this before and it's usually very tender.

So, anyway, I couldn't eat it. The veggies were nice, and the sauce was good. But I was still hungry. I ended up having a bowl of cashews and macadamias to fill me up, and some watermelon to follow.

Not a perfect day then - but once again, nothing that I shouldn't have eaten either.

Also doing the whole 30 July