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Delightful doorstops

Hmm… the second post in a row with an alliterated title…

Aren’t these cute???

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We have DESPERATELY needed decent doorstops in our house (ooo! more ‘D’s!). The kiddies’ door just wouldn’t stay open and we have used a toddle shoe for the past year. I was using a phone book for the front door, but the bubba started munching on that. And the back door doorstop seemed fascinating to him too, and now I just can’t find it.

These cuties were so easy and I whipped all three of them up in half an hour or so. I used scraps of fabric and a 2kg bag of cheap rice did the three of them. You can find the fantastic tutorial here at ‘So Sue’. I made the larger ones using 9×9″ squares, with about 4 cups of rice.

Highly recommended if you are in a desperate doorstop situation as I was!

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Tigereye Tomato Tart

Now this was a lovely gardening surprise! These little beauties grew from some great little seedlings that I bought from Bunnings. It’s a trailing tomato plant, and I unfortunately planted my tomato plants too close together, so I have to pretty much climb into the plants to pick them! When I plant these again next Spring, I think they’d do really well along the edge of my garden beds.

They are so super-dooper pretty. And delicious. And juicy.

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After picking them I put them in this little pie dish, just because it was the right size, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about tarts.

I wanted to keep the tomatoes as ‘the hero of the dish’ as they’d say on Masterchef. So, I whipped up a Stephanie Alexander pastry (see below), briefly baked it, threw on the tomatoes, some fresh basil, dollops of ricotta and S&P.

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When it popped out of the oven, I gave it a quick drizzle with fancy olive oil.

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So good. So I made it again. Then next night!


Taken from Stephanie Alexander, The Cook’s Companion, pg 965

Polenta crust:

  • 3/4 cup fine polenta
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 cup cream

Mix the polenta, flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add butter and process until the butter pieces are pea-sized. Add cream until dough comes together. Refridgerate until needed (at least 30 mins).

This made enough for two tarts. The recipe is designed for a ‘closed’ pie, so it didn’t need blind-baking. However, because of my tart-style, I pricked the base with a fork and blind-baked it for about 10 mins, then added the filling and baked it for another 15-20 minutes or so.

Also, because of the juiciness of my tomatoes, I cut them and left them to drain on some muslin cloth for a while before constructing the tart.


I have plenty more tomatoes. If you have any recommended recipes, let me know!

 

 

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Low FODMAP desserts

One of my besties is on the low-FODMAP diet to help with some health problemos. I cook for her regularly, and at first I freaked out quite a lot when I looked at the no-go list. And then add to that dairy and egg allergies from other family members!! Desserts become quite difficult…

But I’m getting it sorted now, and I’m particularly proud of two desserts that I pulled out for Christmas, and then her birthday.

And here is Christmas in a Glass (low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free):

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The bottom is a layer of coconut tapioca pudding. I boil 3/4 cup of tapioca pearls in water, drain them, stir in a tin of coconut milk and let it set in the fridge.

On top is cinnamon-salted popcorn, a candycane, fresh blueberries, coconut chips (these are McKenzies brand and are beautiful) and gingerbread. I altered a Donna Hay recipe (from Issue 78, pg 150) for the gingerbread.

Gingerbread dough (more FODMAP friendly):

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup treacle
  • 2 1/2 cups GF plain flour
  • 1 tsp bi card soda
  • 3-4 tsp ground ginger (depending on your palate!)
  • 1-2 tsp mixed spice (depending on your palate!)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the other ingredients and beat until it comes together in a smooth dough. Press into a tin and back for about 30 mins at 160 degrees.


 

Then, as a birthday cake, I made a layered pudding! The tapioca is the same again on the bottom. The next layer is frozen banana (freeze bananas, then whiz them in the food processor until they look like icecream) and topped with ganache. I made the ganache using 2/3 cup of coconut milk and 90g of dairy-free dark chocolate. And again, sprinkled with coconut chips.

Looking back, I realised that this is actually a pretty health dessert – the only sugar is in the dark chocolate!

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Potty Training

A wise mama said to me that potty training would be the most stressful parenting journey that I would go through. She sure was right. For the toddler years anyway.

We’d owned a potty for a while and now and then she’d use it, but not often. And she was starting to develop a bit of a dislike for it, so we decided it was time to change that. Plus, it was Summer and a good time weather-wise. We’d tried the sticker-chart reward system, but she just didn’t seem that fussed about it.

I read a lot*. I printed out blog posts. I highlighted my favourite pointers. I made lists.

Three days is what everyone says, so that’s what we planned for. Hubby took a day off so that we had a long weekend to work with.

We’d been talking about buying big girl undies (just like Mummy and Daddy) for a week or so before our weekend. Two days before our start date, the little-y and I set off for Kmart. We made a big deal about it, and talked about it the whole way in the car. We spent some time choosing what she wanted. Again, another big deal when we got home to tell Daddy. I think we even called the grandmas to tell them too. The next day we washed them all and kept talking about the concept. And talking. And talking. We said goodbye to all her nappies. They were now only for her baby brother. She was a big girl now.

On the first day, she did well. We started with accidents but would often finish in the potty as we rushed her there. We thought it would be important to keep the potty in the bathroom so that she got used to holding on until she got there. I really liked this idea and I think it was quite important. It also meant that  we weren’t looking for where we last left the potty. Every ten minutes or so, we’d say “remember to tell Mummy/Daddy if you need to do wees or poos”. We also often asked whether or not she had dry undies and when she did, she got a big congratulations.

Day two, she seemed absolutely exhausted. Almost every time was an accident. I think we were just hounding her so much that her poor little brain just didn’t want to listen to the questions anymore.

From midday on day three until the end of the day, she had dry undies and she even did a poo in the potty! We were so happy!! But perhaps a little over-confident…

Daddy went back to work on Monday and I decided that a trip to our regular playgroup would be a safe idea. There were no carpets, she knows the people well and everyone else is a Mum who has already gone through potty training with at least one child.

I prepped a toilet bag: cleaning wipes for the toilet, a fold-up toilet seat, changes of undies and clothes, plastic bags for wet things, toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I was ready.

When we arrived we went and ‘checked out’ the toilets so that she knew where they were. I asked her every now and then whether she needed to go. And then I took a phonecall. Bad parenting move, Mama. She, of course, had a massive accident in the thirty seconds that I was outside the door. So, she was embarrassed and probably a bit scared because she couldn’t see me. Ugh. I think I felt safe, but she didn’t. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have left the house.

And for the next few days, every wee was an accident. It was horrible. I was getting stressed. She was getting upset and we were all exhausted. By Thursday, I was at my wit’s end. Hubby took a day off to give me some space. Bubba and I hung out at IKEA (did you know it’s free tea and coffee during the week? Nice.).

We also realised that she was holding on until she got into bed when we put a pullup on for night-time. So, we just got rid of the pullups. We had a few night time accidents. But, we were prepared with clean sheets, mattress protectors and pjs, so we could make the change super-quick.

And with more persistence, by the following Monday, it started to work again. We introduced a reward (which we hadn’t done up until now) and she could watch some Peppa Pig on our tablet when she used the potty successfully. This was a huge help. The night accidents were also reducing. Things were finally looking up.

We had a four-day holiday with no day-time accidents. We had the potty in the car with us, but she only used it once. We did do pullups overnight, purely because I didn’t want to travel with lots of sheets. But she coped with this idea.

And now? I can tell you when her last two day-time accidents were: the 14th of Dec and the 28th of December. She’s done it. She’s amazing and she’s a little trouper! And we don’t need Peppa anymore.

But, I’d like to rename it seven-day potty training!


*The e-book from 3 day potty training

*50 potty training tips from real mums
*Potty train in just three days

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Hanami Top

An amazing mum from playgroup keeps giving me fantastic fabrics. And this one was so special – an off-cut of vintage handkerchief linen. I returned to the source of my previous sewing success and set about on the next pattern (also from Straight Grain).

I had JUST enough to cut out the pattern (thanks for the help, Mum!) and used the natural edge of the linen for the bottom edge so I didn’t need to hem it.

It was also my first sewing adventure with lining, but the instructions were so clear that I didn’t struggle at all! It looks good with lining too, because of the lacy holes through the fabric. I love the shape of the the top and the flexibility of the pattern. There are other options for the sleeves and the length of the bottom ruffle.

My only real stuff-up was the button holes. The buttons were small and my button hole foot just kept slipping on the lining, so I decided to do ‘manual’ button holes. Not a good idea. Well, not without time to practise, that is – I finished this off the day before we went on holiday! This is definitely something I need to rehearse. If you have any tips, please let me know.

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front

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back

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And it was showcased on Christmas Day with a pair of black leggings.

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My fave … of 2014

It’s nice to look back and reflect…

My fave recipe book: Save with Jamie (and fave recipe inside is chicken stew with dumplings).

My fave dessert: Donna Hay’s Chocolate Meringue Cake (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014).

My fave savoury dish: Donna Hay’s Asian Meatballs (DH Issue 74 APR/MAY 2014) - yes, this edition is amazing. Followed closely by her Lamb and Sumac Sausage Rolls (DH Issue 77 OCT/NOV 2014).

My fave read: The girl with the all the gifts – Mike Carey.

My fave TV shows: Wentworth, House of Cards.

My fave movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My fave tea: Tlicious, black tea with cinnamon.

My fave blog: Monkeys and Mooncakes.

My fave garden success: Black Tuscan Kale.

My fave DIY project: re-painting a second-hand plant stand.

My fave baby product: Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo (so I could shower in peace).

My fave toddler product: Tupperware’s ‘Sandwich Keeper Plus’ Lunchbox.

My fave shop: Invite Me on Anderson St, Yarraville.

My fave cafe: Butcher 128 (Robert St, Yarraville).

My fave entertaining-for-the-kiddies cafe: Jellybread (Barkly St, Footscray).

My fave take-away: Hard choice between Grill’d and Fish & Chips on Geelong Rd near Yarraville.

My fave place for a drink: Lady Moustache (Seddon).

My fave clothes shop: Pash, in Pt. Fairy

My fave useful purchase: 2nd hand chest freezer (I love being able to make big batches of things and have spares in the freezer, especially for the kiddies). Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave pretty, but unnecessary, purchase: 6 vintage teacups with saucers. Thankyou IWBSS!

My fave parenting moment: Having two children finally sleep through the night. Ahhh….

What are your faves for the year?