Monday, 28 October 2013

Satay Chicken - Take out Fake out

And we are back! We have been M.I.A the past week as we have been in New Zealand. I barely had time to sleep let alone blog.

I love satay chicken, it's my 'go to' dish at one of our favourite restaurants Thai Express, yet I have ALWAYS been hopeless at making it at home. It always turned stodgy and just not good. A few months ago my sister in law made some really good satay so I asked her for the recipe she used. I have changed it up a bit to suit our family.
This satay tastes just like the one from the restaurant for 1/4 the price, which is what we all love.

Satay Chicken 


1/2 C Pineapple juice
1 Small onion
3 Cloves garlic
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
1t Ginger
1/2 Turmeric
1T Corriander
1t Cumin
1t Dark soy sauce
3T Fish sauce
3T Brown Sugar
1T Oil

2 Large Chicken Breasts 

Satay Sauce

2T Crunchy peanut butter
1/3 Water
2 Cloves garlic
1/2t Soy sauce
1t sesame oil
2T brown sugar 
2T Fish sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
1T Thai chilli sauce
1/3 Coconut milk
2-3 C chopped Veges (I used carrot, broccoli, capsicum, zucchini and bok choy) 


  • Combine all marinade ingredients in bowl
  • Slice chicken thinly and add to the marinade
  • Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 30mins
  • Heat a pan over a medium heat and cook the chicken in batches 
  • In a small sauce pan combine all the sauce ingredients and cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens and turns a darker colour. About 5min
  • In the frying pan you cooked the chicken in stirfry your veges and add the chicken back in
  • Pour the sauce over and cook a few minutes longer to ensure everything is piping hot and cooked through
  • Serve with steamed rice

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Raising Polite Kids - The controversy

It seems I have been bombarded the last few months on Facebook and other social media about these new ideas around teaching your kids manners. The new "thing" appears to be to not teach them at all and that they will eventually learn, ie they are not expected to say please or thank you unless they want to. The reasoning behind this is that, if they are just being polite because they are expected to then the politeness is pointless as they don't understand why they are doing it.

I however believe manners and respect are important. I don't want my kids to grow up spoilt and entitled, which let's face it a lot of kids are these days. It's actually one of my pet peeves so let's not dwell too much on it or I will go on and on. Manners show a lot about your character, how view people and yourself.

Perhaps my expectations are too high. I have had people comment on several occasions that my son is "too polite". Don't get me wrong, he is a normal 2 1/2 year old who throws tantrums and gets frustrated etc but generally he is well mannered. I'll give a list of some of the things I expect of him and you can tell me if they are "too high"

  • To excuse himself from the table and say thank-you for the meal. 
  • To greet and farewell guests or anyone else appropriately by leaving his activity and saying hello and goodbye. 
  • To say please when asking for something. 
  • To wait his turn patiently for a toy, or in a line or at any other time he has to wait (like if I am feeding his sister and he wants something)
  • To answer when someone is speaking to him
  • To listen to what I/or his Dad say immediately. We shouldn't have to ask twice. (we are still working on this but 80% of the time we only have to ask once) 
Personally I do not think this is too much to expect since this is what he lives each day and seems to have no problems accomplishing it. Tantrums are rare these days and usually only happen when either of us are particularly tired. 

Many parents follow the "do as I say, not as I do" idea. I have found this doesn't work. I have proof. My husband was terrible at saying thank you. He made a big effort to improve, as he did Auron's manners improved also. Children are great imitators, much of what they learn they learn by copying those around them. The greatest influence in a child's life are the parents, what kind of influence do you want to be. 

You may ask, will this work really pay off in the long run? My 13 year old brother was taught, and expected to use his manners where ever he was. He is a wonderful example to Auron (Auron is actually quite obsessed with him so I am glad he is a good example) Teina is always they first to say thank you, if he is getting himself a drink or something to eat he will always ask if anyone else would like something, if you ask him to do something he will usually do it straight away, he is always willing to help especially those younger than him or with special needs. 

Whether you teach your children to use their manners or not, my Grandad had a good saying:

Good manners never cost a thing
Clive Hood

Me and Teina...a few years ago now!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

How to be Present in Your Child's Day

Life is crazy, it is busy, and life with young kids is just life in steroids. There is not a dull moment and often I find myself just going though the motions to get through the day. There is always so much to do, my kids make a lot of mess. It seems as soon as I clean up one mess there is another being made. The responsibility I have as a mother rests heavily on my mind each and every moment of the day. I often question if I am doing enough, if I am teaching them enough, are they eating enough, enough of the right foods, are they being disciplined effectively. Like I said its weighs heavily on my mind.
I like every parent wants the best for their children and often wonder how I can best nurture a relationship with them that will allow them to trust me to know what is best for them. I know as I grew older I certainly didn't think my mother knew anything, but truth be told if I had listened to her wisdom and advice I would have saved myself from untold heartache and pain.
The thought came for me a while ago that in order to develop the kind of relationship I desired with my children I needed to be present in their day. It seems simple enough right? But what does that actually mean?
For myself it meant that I needed to become apart of my childrens world instead of just bringing them along for the ride in my world. So often I would just drag Auron around the shops looking at everything I wanted to look at, and quickly calling him away whenever he stopped to look at something that interested him because I was in a rush to carry on with my own agenda.
Yesterday for example I needed to go into town to pick a few things up. All I wanted to do was get to the shopping centre, do what I had to and then get home. We got 2 mins down the road and Auron decided he wanted to get out of the pram and walk. Usually I would insist he stay in the pram, but this time I let him get out. Our usual 20min walk ended up being a full hours walk but I assure you it was worth it. We stopped to look at weird looking sticks, pointed out numbers on mail boxes, and practised crossing the street safely. By the time we reached the shopping centre he was ready to hop in the pram for a rest. If I had have made him stay in the pram at the start I would have most like spent the entire walk arguing with him to stay in the pram and we both would have arrived at the shops frazzled and upset.

Here are some other ways I have found to be present in your child's day

  1. When you have a whining upset child, skip the housework and sit down to read a book, or do an activity with them. 
  2. Try to say "yes" as often as you can. 
  3. Turn off the TV/iPad/Phone for an hour and devote that time to simply being present with your kids
  4. Make parent/child dates a part of you routine. 
  5. Get out photo albums and tell stories and reminisce as you browse through the memories
  6. Surprise your kids with something fun. Eg a trip to the pools, ice cream parlour, a water slide in the back yard etc
  7. Spend time each night sitting with them on their bed to talk about their day/reading a book/reconnecting
  8. Write them a little letter or quick note to tell them your favourite things about them
  9. Take time to ask them what shops they would like to go to at the shopping centre
  10. Learn a new skill together. Take your teenagers to a night class eg Pottery/cooking/something boy-ish that I can't think of right now
  11. Instead of just giving them a new activity to play with get in there and enjoy it with them
  12. When little ones are talking to you, get down on their level and look at them when they speak. 
  13. If things are getting crazy, just stop count to 10 and start again. Don't let things escalate into utter chaos
  14. Teach them to cook, some of the best and most important conversations will happen while you are cooking together. 
  15. Remember it's ok to get dirty and to make a mess. Those things can be cleaned up in no time but memories, and relationships will last a lifetime.

Monday, 14 October 2013

How to Shop Smart for Kids Clothes

I like most people like my kids to have cute adorable clothes, I also hate to pay ridiculous prices for them since they will grow out of them in a flash. I have a rule I generally follow when buying my kids clothes and that is:
Never buy it unless it is at least 40% off or under $10

I honestly believe quality is better than quantity. Compared to a lot of kids mine don't have a tonne of clothes but the ones they do have are good quality. Unfortunately since we don't have any older cousins or family around we haven't been blessed to have hand me downs. Although the other day we were lucky enough to receive a bunch of summer clothes from a friend at church. 
Now how to you find the deals?

  1. WAIT. Once clothes first come out in a store they will be at their highest price. If you simply wait about a month they will be cut down by around 30% and then after another few weeks to 40-50% off the original price. My son needed a warm jacket for winter. The one I wanted was $100 when it first came out, 6 weeks later I picked it up for $30. 
  2. Shop out of season. At the end of the season stores have HUGE sales to rid them off all the seasons clothes to make way for new seasons merchandise. This is when you can stock up for the next season. If you are concerned about not being "in season" the following year, just buy the basics that never go out of fashion. You will be able to find a huge variety of things for under $5 or 80% off. Buy a bigger size, and store the clothes away until next year.
  3. Use online wholesalers. Many of the boutique clothes you buy on those Facebook pages and other online stores you can buy wholesale direct from the seller for a third of the cost, with free shipping. The one I use most often is Ali Express
  4. Never discount the use of places like Ebay and Amazon. There are always amazing deals to find there. 
  5. Second hand stores are wonderful places to buy infants clothing as they are usually all in excellent condition since kids grow out of them so fast that they never get time to wear them out. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

How to Entertain a Toddler at Home

Toddlers and preschoolers are busy little creatures, I know for sure mine are. They are full of energy and like sponges absorbing every little thing around them. If they are not given outlets for their creativity and energy it is often directed into other more undesirable areas.
I have found in my own experience, that if I do not make time to provide my kids with mind engaging activities each day, or outlets for all that energy that is when the whining and the tantrum throwing starts.
Providing such activities does not mean you need to go out and by fancy, expensive toys and supplies. Most things you can create with things you have lying around your home.

Below are some of the favourite activities my kids like to do.

How to Entertain a Toddler

Play Dough

Making play dough is really a simple way to let your little ones creative juices take hold. Spend some time with them showing them things they can do. Provide some cups, a plastic knife, buttons and anything else you think is suitable. Once they get going, leave them to it let them be the creators. My Son went and got the pasta machine out and spent a good 30mins making playdough pasta.

Involve them in Household Chores

Auron would whine and cry and complain about wanting to do the dishes. Finally I just gave in and let him do it. I was surprised at how well he did!  Sure there was excess water on the ground but nothing that wasn't able to be cleaned up in 2mins with a towel (truth be told the floors probably needed a clean anyway!) We have extended our dishwashing routine to him washing and me drying. It no only provides him with new skills and me with clean dishes but also an opportunity to talk with him just enjoy being his mum.
Auron also loves doing laundry. I have often set up a little clothes line for him to hang his washing on. He is also becoming an expert folder!

Finger Paint

Get messy with finger paint. I bought a big roll of paper from IKEA and just let the kids loose with the finger paint. Although a bit cautious to start with, Auron was entertained for a full hour with this. I had great fun too. There's nothing better than getting messy when you're a kid. 

Pompoms and Tongs

Auron LOVED this activity when he was around 18months. It develops great fine motor skills and gets that brain working. As they get older you can get them to start sorting into colours.

Wooden Memory Blocks

I made these for about a year ago now and they continue to be Auron's FAVOURITE toy. He will get them out every day without fail. Memory isn't usually his first choice to play with them though. Most often you will find him using them to make a track for his cars, or stacking them up, and many many other various games. We have about 24 of them.
I will do a tutorial later this week on how to make them. 

Coloured Rice and Pasta

Making coloured rice and pasta takes about 20mins to make and will last for ever! Kids seem to love the texture. I put the rice in a large container and added some small plastic animals. My kids love to dig around with their hands or other instrument to find the animals and have fun naming the ones they find. As for the pasta, I use the pasta with holes in it to practice fine motor skills by threading them onto pipe cleaners. You can also use the pasta to practice colour sorting.


If you are going to invest in toys, make sure they are going to be worth your money. You want something that you child will play with for years to come, not something that is going to be thrown to the side after a day or week. I believe blocks are a great investment. They are actually one of the few toys we have purchased for our kids. The promote creativity, help with fine motor skills and give that brain a good work out. They will also last you through many ages. Toddlers all the way through to older kids all love to build with blocks.

Cloud Dough

This is along the lines of play dough but with twist. With cloud dough it acts just like wet sand! You do everything with it that you can do with wet sand. So get you sand building skills out! 


Last but not least, read to your child. Do it everyday, multiple times a day. It will increase your child's vocabulary, their brain power, creativity, imagination, and develop a deep love for reading and learning. This is important for all kids but more so boys who often fall behind girls in reading as they get older. Aside from the mental benefits reading provides it also allows you to create a wonderful bond with your child. I swear there a few things better than curling up with your little one and reading a good story. It doesn't have to stop when they get older either. I have great memories of my mum reading to me well into my teens. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ooey Gooey Slime

When I was a kid we would go to the $2 shop and were allowed to buy whatever we wanted. My cousin and I would search, and search for the perfect toy (piece of junk) but without fail almost every time we would walk out with a tube of slime. I don't know what drew us to it, but it is a fond childhood memory that we often reminisce about...our trips to the the $2 shop to buy slime.
Making slime is surprisingly simple. I made some for Auron awhile ago and just like his mother he is a slime lover! It provided the perfect sensory experience for him and not to mention a super cool science experiment. This activity is sure to entertain and thrill the toddlers all the way through to old grandpa!

Slime Science Experiment


1/2 C School glue/PVA glue/white glue (whatever you call it, its thick and white and comes in a bottle)
1 1/2 C Water
Food Colouring
1 Teaspoon Borax


  1. In a bowl mix glue, 1/2 C of water and food colouring until smooth. Set bowl aside.
  2. In another bowl dissolve the borax in the remaining 1 C of water.
  3. While gently stirring the glue mixture slowly add the water mixture.
  4. The glue will immediately change consistency.
  5. Continue to stir until you get the consistency you like and the mixture isn't sticky. 
  6. You may not need to use all the water mix.
  7. Get your hands in there and knead it and squish it around. 
  8. ENJOY!

Gosh look at that wild hair!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Caramel Popcorn

Today started early, 5am to be exact. For some unbeknown reason Auron thought it was acceptable to start his day before the sun had even risen. I had a friend coming over with her kids to finish planning our kids birthday party next month. Lili and her daughter turn one a week apart so we are having a combined party, since we pretty much have all the same friends.
I needed something quick to make as a snack for the kids (and us), my orignal idea failed when I realised I was out of cocoa. So caramel popcorn it was. I usually just eyeball the ingredients since I was going to post it on here for the world to see decided it was best to actually measure things.

Caramel Popcorn


Large bowl of already popped popcorn. 
125g (1/2C) Butter
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 C Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda


  1. In a medium saucepan combine butter, honey and sugar
  2. Stir over a low heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved
  3. Bring to a boil
  4. Continue stirring for a further 3mins
  5. Add baking soda and stir quickly (it will froth up) 
  6. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly

Tips and Tricks

  • To tell if the caramel is ready drop some into a glass of really cold water. If the drops form into little balls you're good to go.
  • Keep a close eye on the caramel while cooking as it can burn easily
  • Roll into balls, wrap in clear plastic and add a ribbon for an easy gift
  • If you aren't going to eat it straight away, allow to cool then transfer to an airtight container

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

10 Easy Halloween Ideas

Growing up Halloween wasn't a huge deal in New Zealand. Sure there was the odd trick or treating but the vast majority of houses were unprepared or didn't even bother opening the door! Even here in Australia it isn't a huge thing like it is in America etc.
Although it wasn't a big thing for me or my husband we have decided to start some traditions this year a small Halloween part was on the list. This year it's just going to be our little family spending the afternoon doing some spooky crafts and having a Halloween inspired dinner. We can't forget all the sugary treats too! We will end the night watching a kids "scary movie"
Today I thought I would share with you a few of the treats and crafts we will do.

10 Easy Halloween Ideas

Monday, 7 October 2013

Easy Peasy Play Dough

All kids LOVE playdough, I am yet to  find a child who doesn't, or an adult for that matter. The stuff you buy from the store is usually hard, and a ludicrous price for the amount you get. It is so easy to make at home! It lasts forever and feels so much better. I prefer the cooked kind, this is my go to recipe. 

Play Dough


2 C Plain flour
4 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 C Salt
2 C Water
Food Colouring


  1. Combine flour, cream of tartar, oil and salt in a large saucepan
  2. Add the food colouring to the water and then add to the saucepan as well
  3. Stir over medium heat for 3-5 mins or until mixture congeals. 
  4. You can tell if it's ready when you touch it and its no longer sticky
  5. Tip out on to bench and allow to cool a little before kneading it a bit. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Add glitter
  • Divide the mixture in half and make different colours
  • Add some scents like vanilla (be careful my kids thought it smelt so nice that it was good enough to eat) 
  • Store in a plastic container or bag. It will last for months. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

German Chocolate Cake

If you need a cake for a crowd this German Chocolate cake is perfect. It will easily serve 12+ people generously. This recipe is legendary and has been passed up and down the islands of New Zealand for decades. I think what really makes it so AMAZING is the incredible creamy, sweet coconut filling.
This is the cake my husband requests every year for his birthday, fathers day and any other time he is given the honour of requesting a cake. It is also a great cake for decorating as it's pretty solid and holds it's form well.

Moist German Chocolate Cake



4C Plain Flour
3C White Sugar
1/2 C Cocoa
4 Heaped Teaspoons Baking Powder
4 Eggs
2 C Milk
3 Tablespoons Vinegar 
250g Melted Butter
3 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 3/4 C Water


395g Can of Condensed Milk
1 Egg Yolk
100g Butter
1-2 C Dessicated Coconut

  • Preheat oven to 170*C/325*F
  • In a large bowl combine, flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and stir to combine.
  • Make a well in the centre and add eggs, milk and vinegar
  • Mix well
  • In another bowl mix butter, baking soda and water, stirring well to combine
  • Add the butter mix to the large bowl and stir well (it's a very runny mixture so don't worry)
  • Pour into a lined and greased tin or roasting dish. 
  • Bake at for 40 mins or until skewer comes out clean
To make the filling
  • In a medium saucepan combine condensed milk egg yolk and butter
  • Over a medium heat stir constantly until butter has melted and simmering
  • Continue to stir for a further minute 
  • Remove from heat and add the coconut. You want a thick but still spreadable consistency.
Once cake has cooled slice in half and spread the coconut filling on one side. Replace the top. You can leave as is or add an icing of choice. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

10 Cheap Date Nights

Everyone loves date night, I know I sure do. It has been said that of Fathers "one of the best gifts you can give your child is to love their mother" and I am sure the same goes vice versa. However with the crazy busy lives we live these days it is sometime difficult to "fit in" time to nurture your relationship with your partner. And like a flower, a relationship if not nurtured will fail to thrive. 
Soooo I hereby introduce date night! I hear you say, oh we don't have the money to go out every week, or we don't have the time, or what about the kids? we need to find a babysitter! These are all excuses that can be helped. Have date night at home, wait til the kids are in bed, make the time, I'm sure that tv show can be recorded or even skipped tonight, who really wants to watch the bachelor when you can have the real deal?! 

  1. Movie night. Hire a movie neither of you has seen, pull out the mattress and blankets, pop some popcorn. Why not even make a tent, like you did as kids. 
  2. Bake together. We invented our own recipe for cookies. The first batch was unbelievable, the second not so much. 
  3. Make hot chocolate and ask each other a list of random questions pulled out of a hat. Some of our favourites have been, What kind of vegetable would you be? or If you could have a super power what would it be (Aarahi said he would have the power to make people's nightmares come true, he desperately wants to be the villain instead of the good guy)
  4. Get out your gaming console of choice and challenge each other. There's not much competition in this house though. I spent 3 mins trying to figure out how to get my racing car to go. But to redeem myself I can thrash my husband at Wii hula, even at 9months pregnant!
  5. Romantic dinner/dessert at home. Get out the candles, the nice plates and all the other fancies. You may have to wait until late for all the kids to be sound asleep but trust me it's worth it. 
  6. In the summer when it's nice and warm out, why not do a but of star gazing in the back yard. 
  7. Read together. We do this each night, reading a chapter of a book aloud to each other. So far we have read the entire Harry Potter series, Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous (John Bytheway) and at the moment we are currently reading Jesus the Christ. Our next book is going to be The Hobbit
  8. Visit the beach and challenge each other to the best sandcastle building competition. While you're there why not explore the rock pools. Finish the date off with a icecream
  9. Picnic at the park. Pretend you're kids again, swing on the swings, ride the flying fox, race down the slides. 
  10. Take a class together. There are TONNES of free or really cheap classes around. Usually run by night schools, or community colleges. Why not try your hand at pottery, or a new language, or cooking. 
At the end of the day it's not really about what you do it's about who you are with. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

DIY Laundry Liquid

Washing clothes is a necessity of life. One that I myself do not enjoy. It's not so much the washing part, that's easy. It's more the hanging the clothes out, then bringing them in once they're dry, then the folding (while your lovely children try and help by crawling all over the piles) and FINALLY putting them away in appropriate draws. I rarely get to the putting away part. To be honest there is a pile of laundry on my couch now thats been sitting there for days. I just ignore it, pretending it doesn't exist. Please tell me I'm not the only one that does this?!

Two years ago while standing in the laundry aisle of the supermarket compaining to my 2 month old baby about the price of the all essential laundry liquid I decided that I would try and make my own. Sure I had heard about it, but doubted it effectiveness and how easy it would be to make. Valid concerns for a mother of a baby who couldn't keep his clothes clean for longer than 30mins! Not to mention we used cloth nappies/diapers

I scoured the internet and found many recipes but this is the one I found to be the most effective and easy to make.

DIY Laundry Liquid

Time: 20-30mins
Cost: less that $2 per 10L/quarts

What you need:

1C Soap flakes (I use lux flakes)
1/2C Washing soda
1/2 C Borax
Essential oil for scent (optional)

Large Saucepan
10+ litre capacity bucket
Enough containers to contain 10 litres/quarts of liquid

How To Do It

  • In a saucepan put the soap flakes, borax, washing soda and 1.5L/quarts of water 

  • On a medium heat stir until everything has dissolved then remove from heat

  • In the bucket measure out 8 litres/quarts of COLD water

  • Add the soapy mixture to the bucket and mix well. The mixture will turn gel like. It as at this stage you can and your scents if you choose.

  • Using a a jug and funnel pour into your containers.

  • For a average load of laundry use 1/4-1/2C of liquid. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Kids Lunch Ideas

Everyday it gets to around 11am and I begin to wonder what I am going to feed the kids for lunch. So about a month ago a started to brainstorm a bit for some ideas. Peanut butter sandwiches everyday wasn't really going to cut it any more.
Auron isn't a bit dinner eater so I have to make sure he has a decent lunch to make up for it. He has a cool little lunch box I fill up for him  each day which is divided into 4 little compartments which makes it easy for him to see exactly what's in there.

Here's a list of some of our favourite ideas

  • Popcorn (usually just plain)
  •  Mini Quiches I usually make a big batch and add some extra veges. Then pop them in a bag in the freezer.

  • Homemade fish sticks. Just cut up some fresh fish and crumb it then freeze it separately (so they don't stick together) before putting them in a bag. If your kids don't like fish, try chicken instead.

  • Bliss Balls are a great alternative to muesli bars you can make any combination of nuts and dry fruit you like. Our favourites are cashews and almonds

  • Wraps. Instead of bread try a wrap instead, it cuts down on the bread but still gives the convenience of sandwiches. Fill them up with things like deli meats and salads.

  • Fruit Salad

Some other links to find yummy lunch box ideas 

Fresh for Kids
Stay at Home Mum


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