How to Make Chocolate Brownies from LeftoversΒ 

Experiments in my kitchen are usually based on easy to access foods, as our diet – though quite varied – is basic, fresh, and healthy. This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy foods like brownies or even creme brΓ»lΓ©e sometimes though!
Try this recipe out for yourself and see how you like it. It’s a pretty hearty brownie and not at all “fluffy” – nor is it “hard” and sickly sweet. It’s firm almost like cheesecake but with a different texture obviously. I think even throwing grated carrot or zucchini in there as well could work! Check out the variations at the bottom. And feel free to comment if you’ve found a combo you like πŸ™‚
I only had about 400grams of leftover mashed potato (unsalted, with no herbs, is best – mine had milk and butter originally, but use ‘clean’ if you’d prefer), so these are approximate amounts so gage according to how much you’ve got to work with.



Ingredients

  • Leftover mash potato (I had *roughly* 400g)
  • 2 tbs cacao powder (raw, organic if possible)
  • 1-2 tbs maple syrup/honey/nectar, to taste
  • 1 tbs sugar (raw, organic if possible)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil (cold pressed, organic if possible)
  • 2-3 tbs peanut butter/tahini/creamed coconut or nut butter of choice


Method

  1. In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly – I just use a fork lol. Check your sweetness levels now and add more of what you’d like if necessary.
  2. Transfer to ramekin dishes (I split mine into two x 200g-ish dishes which gave 4-6 serves in total) or lined brownie tray and bake in a preheated oven (180β€’C) for 25-45 minutes depending on how thick/deep your pan or dish is.
  3. Allow to cool a little before portioning and eating – serve with fresh berries or sprinkled with ground cinnamon and nutmeg πŸ™‚


Variations
 

Add zucchini, choc buttons, nuts, carrot, beetroot, pumpkin, fresh ripe bananas, sweet potato/Kumara – experiment with what you like or what’s leftover! Substitute carob for cacao or swap out/substitute sweeteners depending on your preferences.

Also, I’ll be writing a little about ‘sweet’ foods and how I feed my kids in an upcoming post, just to demonstrate my approach to their nutrition, so keep your eyes open for that.
Enjoy! In moderation πŸ˜‰
Love C xx

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Free Safety Rules Poster for Families

Here it is! Feel free to download, colour, and personalise yours – it never hurts to have a conversation about safety with your children and for them it’s even more empowering knowing what to do! This file will print at A4 size just fine. I ended up printing an extra one for my eldest who asked to have one to colour herself and have in her bedroom.

Here’s mine before I’d written the address in. This emergency number is for Australia however if there’s enough interest I can do other countries as well just get in touch πŸ˜›


I’ve coloured it, laminated it and hung it in an easy to see, and frequently seen, spot in the house. 

Download yours from the Printable Posters page πŸ˜›

Thanks for 

Honey Mustard Potato Salad Recipe

Try this easy recipe for a different style of potato salad the whole family will love ❀️ 

Enjoy hot or cold πŸ™‚ Serves 4-6.

Honey Mustard Potato Salad – dairy free!


Ingredients 

  • 2 med-large potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced or cubed
  • Handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Small handful baby gherkins
  • Small handful pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 tsp wholegrain Mustard
  • 1-2 tsps honey
  • 1-2 tbs olive oil

Method

  1. Allow potatoes to cool in fridge or simply sit aside if you’d like a warmer salad. While potatoes cool, combine Mustard, honey and olive oil in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Combine potatoes, mustard mixture and all other ingredients into a medium-large glass bowl. Stir gently and serve!

To taste – try freshly cracked salt and pepper for a delicious flavor addition.

Enjoy
!

C xx

Happy Calm and Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe

Play dough has got to be one of my must-have parenting items. Along with Lego and a library of course! But I’ll write more about must haves another time πŸ™‚

This is a simple recipe using easy to find ingredients and including another twist which I find makes the experience more enjoyable for both parents and children – oil blends!

Choose and mix your own colours, oil blends, and quantities according to your wishes. This makes enough for about 1&1/2 cups of dough, and I like it because even toddlers can make it themselves! And they smell gorgeous and not like salt or oil haha!

Ingredients;

  • 1 cup water
  • Β½ cup cooking salt 
  • 1 tbs cream of tartar
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • A few drops of essential oil/s of choice (a few different ones can be used) – if desired
  • 2 or three drops each of your choice of food colouring (if desired). Use 4-5 drops for a stronger colour.

My oil blend of choice for kids!


Method;

  1. Heat water, oil, salt and cream of tartar in a pan over low-medium heat, until salt is mostly dissolved (if not entirely dissolved).
  2. Remove pan from stove and add flour, mixing quickly to form dough. 
  3. Remove from pan and place on a play board or similar, and knead for a couple of minutes. Section into desired number of portions for your different colour/oil blend combinations. Roll into balls.
  4. Use your finger to poke a hole in the Centre of each ball, dropping in food colouring and/or oils of choice. Knead carefully, until thoroughly combined. I usually make 4 balls out of this size mixture.
  5. Now play! And be sure to seal in an airtight container or bag – they should last 4-6 months. 

    Half mixed blue

Completely mixed and ready to have fun!

Have fun!

C xx

Caramel Beef Curry Family Friendly Recipe!

Prep: 2 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes

Caramel Beef Curry on a bed of cabbage and snow peas!


Another beautiful kitchen experiment turned winning recipe! 

This is a basic (very) mild curry which the family will love – I usually make meat dishes to last our family over 3 meals so that’s why the amount of beef is 1-1.2kgs. Half the recipe if desired.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large fresh garlic glove, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 heaped tsp turmeric (ground)
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin (ground)
  • 1&Β½ heaped tsp Garam Masala powder
  • 1-1.2kgs beef, cubed 
  • Pinch salt
  • Approx β…” cup pitted dates
  • 1 can coconut milk

Method;

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, add the garlic and bay leaves and cook until the garlic is gently browned. Add spices and stir for 45 seconds then add beef.
  2. Brown beef on high heat with spices, turning as necessary. Add salt. Cover.
  3. Bring meat to the boil and continue boiling for 5-10 minutes. Stir and cover. Then add dates and bring to the boil again with lid on pot, then add coconut milk, stir, cover and bring to the boil again.
  4. Stir thoroughly then reduce heat to a bubbling simmer for 30 minutes. Stir appropriately every 5 minutes to 10 minutes. Keep pot lid on but tilt it to allow steam to escape. Sauce should be noticibly thicker but not thick and lumpy, or to the other extreme – runny like water!
  5. Remove from heat and allow to sit with lid tilted for 5-10 minutes before serving.

To serve: thinly slice some raw cabbage and raw snow peas and place them on the plate to form a bed to dollop the curry over – yum! Add some rice or bread to the side if required as well πŸ™‚

To Taste:

If you like a stronger curry taste simply add a diced onion in when cooking the garlic initially, and double your spices when adding them.
Enjoy!

C xx

12 Travel Tips for Parents when visiting Japan

After returning from our second holiday in Japan (now affectionately known as our “Japanniversary”), I have some handy tips for all of you parents out there to save you time, energy, frustration or embarrassment for your visit to Japan. On this visit we were able to spend time again in Osaka and Kyoto, as well as Nara. Next trip we’re hoping to head to Kobe, up to Sapporo, and most probably to visit our pen pals in Osaka again.


Points for Parents;

  1. Stay hydrated! Since we spent most of our days walking with our eyes wide open and concentrating on the sights and our senses were occupied, we didn’t drink enough and this may effect the little ones more than you. Just a word though, the tap Water is chlorinated, within “safe” levels.
  2. Everything regarding the public transport is so efficient – don’t stuff it up by standing on the left or boarding before others leave the train/bus.
  3. Nishiki Markets in Kyoto are a must do as well but if you have more than 2 small children consider giving it a miss if they can’t handle squashy crowds. Samples and demonstrations are plenty and the food range is awesome.
  4. Proteins & fats are hard to come by  in restaurants and more expensive in supermarkets – considering that weight training and daily movement are part of our family lifestyle, we generally do well on consuming more protein and fats. However, staples for the Japanese are predominantly carbohydrates so bear this in mind. We took along some hydrolysed collagen to help out. Super greens won’t hurt either if you’re used to eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and won’t have access to your own kitchen.
  5. If you’re a coffee snob like myself, consider taking along an aeropress and your own ground coffee if you’ll have access to a kettle. ‘%’ coffee in Arashiyama is excellent, but be prepared to wait atleast 30 minutes as the line often twists out the door & around the corner. ‘LILO Coffee’ in Amerikamura (Osaka) is also a must for coffee lovers.
  6. Teach your children manners – it is normal for people in Japan to be respectful and display manners and courtesy at all times. If you show and teach your children what is acceptable, you’ll find the experience all the more pleasant.
  7. If you’re heading to Osaka an absolute MUST is to take your children to the Kids Plaza Osaka! Perfect on rainy days it’s a 3 level discovery & play Centre you could probably spend 3 days in if they wanted to experience each activity to its fullest. Ages 3 & up is best I think, however there are stations for babies/toddlers which are lovely too. Nature, Science, Culture, Technology, Imagination… everything is physically and mentally engaging. Perfect. The ticket price is more than worth it and well within budget! The link is here; http://www.kidsplaza.or.jp/en/
  8. Another few awesome attractions are the Arashiyama Monkey Park (Arashiyama is approx 25/35minute bus ride from Kyoto) a 160m climb with a mountain top park which protects Japanese Macaques, and Nara Park (5 minutes walk from Nara train station) which is filled with temples, museums, historical buildings, and wild deer roaming free. A word of warning – please please please pay attention to the signage with instruction on how to treat the animals – we witnessed a number of close calls simply because people ignored warnings. They are still wild animals. Make sure you and your children respect them, please. Then there’s the Osaka Castle and citizens park – so much to see in the grounds & surrounds as well as the brilliance of the castle itself.
  9. Be aware of smoking & non smoking in restaurants – if this is an issue for you please keep an eye out for the ash trays on tables, especially if you’re not confident with your pronounciation of “can we have non-smoking please”, or don’t recognize the characters. A positive note though, in public areas and all playgrounds there are designated “Manners Stations” where smokers must smoke – I love these as it’s easy to move your children from those areas when smokers arrive.
  10. Kimonos versus Yukatas – so both are traditional dress however the Kimono is more formal and the Yukata more casual. For both males & females of all ages. But be aware, Kimonos can be worn incorrectly which may offend, so if you’re hiring one please have the attendant dress you or help you. Kimonos are also considerably more expensive and custom made to order according to your social status. The Yukata is much more affordable (and easier to put on) as a souvenir if you’re wanting to purchase something like that. Prices range from $45aud and up where as Kimonos start in the 100’s and 1000’s. 

    The Yukata is more casual

  11. Dining – everywhere is good. Haha! Some better than others but if you’ve never been to a “real” automated sushi train please do – the kids will love using the screen/tablet to order and the speed at which the made-to-order dishes come along the track.
  12. Take a phrase book or app – as with most countries, an attempt to speak the language is welcomed and often you’ll be able to get by piece by piece even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know any English.

I highly recommend Japan as a destination so please go and please enjoy! 

Xx C

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: Book Review

It finally arrived today! Here in Australia we’ve had to wait until April to receive this wonderful new storybook. Not just for girls or teens, but for everyone πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, this book has received labeling (in positive praise of course!) using the term “anti-princess“. While that may be the view of some, I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The stories of each of the 100 inspiring women from around the world are just as the title suggests, and follow a simple, bed-time story format. Easy to read and interesting even for toddlers, each story reveals the lesson or value each person has given to the world in a way that is easy for young minds to digest. 

I personally think it’s less anti-princess, less “rebel”, but more pro-action, pro-self belief, pro-game-changer, and pro-female.

The illustrations on each double page spread are unique to the woman they portray. Completely different styles created (as expected) by 60 women around the world. Simply gorgeous.

After reading only 2 or 3 stories my 7yo decided to write and illustrate her own story (about her) in the allotted pages at the back of the book – very cool πŸ™‚

Highly recommended for all ages πŸ™‚

C xx

Buy it here !!*

Happy Reading!!

* Affiliate link used.

10 Phrases to use instead of “Don’t be Silly”.

** 5 minute read **

I’m tired of hearing people say “Don’t be silly” to their kids. 
I believe children aren’t trying to be silly nor are they trying to embarrass or annoy us. They are simply being children and more often than not are trying to have fun! Or, equally as often, have simply not been shown or modeled the expected behavior or required boundary. I often also hear this phrase used when children are presenting ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you were told “Don’t be Silly!!!” in a firm and unpleasant or even condescending tone when you were presenting a keynote to a group? Or when you’d been injured and mentioned the pain? Or were crying because of grief or sadness?

Here I give you some alternative phrases to help guide your child and maybe recognize your own need in a situation as well.

1. Wow! – How easy is this one? Put a smile on your face and secure yourself a few seconds to judge your next parenting step, whether it’s a safety, health, or behavior issue.

2. Please use an “inside voice”. (Followed by a reason, if possible) – No explanation needed.

3. That really hurt, didn’t it? It’s ok to cry to let out the pain. (Folllwed by breathing with the tummy or whichever calm-down method you use). – Sometimes I even tell a story of when I got hurt a similar way as a child & kabam! Crying stops and play continues.

4. Looks like you’ve put so much effort in to that! – Another simple one which really only requires you pay attention to what they’re doing to supply an appropriate reaction. No need to judge their creation, just show them you know they’ve put in an effort and be encouraging and supportive by using this phrase.

5. Are you excited? Or, You look so excited! – I allow my children feelings of excitement, and naming the emotion allows them to identify it. As they grew older, their squealing reduced and bright, bold statements of “I’m so excited!!!!” Came out instead. A lot easier when you’re in crowded places as well!

6. Let’s stay calm. – Saying this out loud will also help you stay calm and remember to be the adult and be the parent. I’m saying this from experience!

7. In the ____place name____ is where we sit on our bottoms/in the chair/stand in line/etc. – Attaching a behavior to a location can be very helpful. Consistency also helps with this particular phrase.

8. What makes you think/feel that? – You’ll be surprised at what you discover using this phrase. Especially if your child is 4/5+ years old, then simply “work it out together” as I like to say.

9. You’re upset! (Followed by ‘Come here and let’s talk about it’) – In the same way as point 5 works, giving a name to the feeling is the first step in being able to identify and manage their emotions. 

10. Try telling me in a clear speaking voice (or if your child has a connection to a favorite adult or character who always speaks clearly, try using them as an example). Forget baby talk or either of you competing in a bout of demands and yelling. Encouraging clear articulation and making a point of its importance simply sets your child up for the future and it makes things SO much easier for you!

I’ve found these phrases work like magic and in addition to that, the children don’t feel shamed, confused, guilty, overwhelmed or overloaded, and they learn (slowly) what is expected. Win win win.

Xx C

Easy Mini Cheesecakes Recipe

It’s been a while since I posted any recipes so I thought I’d pop up this one as it’s a frequent request in my household πŸ™‚

This recipe is reduced sugar, and I’ve chosen all the ingredients from the supermarket with the least additives. To make it easier just go with products which have the most whole items or items you can pronounce, in the ingredients list. For example, the sour cream is only; Pasteurized cream, culture. Ideally, one might choose all gluten free and organic, or even sugar free, but sometimes we don’t always have access to these items so I’ve given the basic recipe here. Any plain biscuits work with this (I’ve tried making it with gluten free ginger nut biscuits and it comes up a treat). 

This takes about 10 mins to prep, 25 minutes to cook, and a few hours to cool. Making 24 in total. I always freeze half at least of them and thawed they’re just fine too.

Ingredients;

Base:

  • 250g plain biscuits (digestives, ginger nut, nice)
  • 140g butter, melted

Filling:

  • 2 x 250g cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 300g sour cream
  • 3 x eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • β…“-Β½ cup raw sugar


Method
;

  1. Process biscuits in a food processor until fine, then add butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Line cupcake trays (2 x 12) with two paper liners each. Spoon base mixture evenly between them. I use about 1-2 teaspoons for each.
  3. Flatten with the back of your spoon then refrigerate while you prepare filling. (See picture). Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  4. In a clean processor, combine cream cheese & sour cream until smooth.
  5. Add eggs, sugar and vanilla until just combined.
  6. Pour evenly into cupcake liners and bake for 25mins. Because I have to swap my top & bottom trays (small oven) I tend to bake them for 25-30 mins and they crack and lose some form but no-one complains lol!
  7. Remove from oven & allow to cool for at least an hour  before transferring to fridge or freezer. Set for 2-4 hours before eating.



You might like to top with cinnamon, or grated chocolate, or top with berries to serve.

Enjoy! Happy baking!!

Celese xx

Sew Busy in our house! Teaching life lessons with needles and chin ups.

Where to begin?! When life gets so overwhelming I had to let something go and unfortunately that was talking to you guys through this blog 😦 I’m sorry!

The loveliest thing though about my last 6 weeks was having my sister & nephew visit from out of town and training together, hanging out, and showing them a few of our homeschooling activities. The days have been packed so the whole family is looking forward to a few days off over the holiday season!

A few great focus areas for my two children have been sewing (the very latest obsession), rock climbing, developing chin up strength, and non violent communication. For me, alongside busy days with my children and managing some events for our community homeschool group I’ve been working my behind off trying to finish up some illustration jobs I’ve been commissioned to do, as well as compete in the grand final of my basketball league (we won!) and attend the Disney reunion down in Sydney (where I previously worked as an artist)! You’ll probably see the evidence in my Instagram feed – Phew it has been busy!


So I’m super happy about how my kidlets have been developing over the last two months as THE biggest lessons I’ve been trying to imprint on their ever-sponging brains are;

  • Have a plan/be prepared
  • Practice and persistence to achieve your goals
  • Words are like magic if you use them properly.

And these lessons, through every day activities, are sinking in! Yay!! 

Sewing has taught my two the pretty big lesson of having a plan, and being prepared. Oh how the tears did flow! Seam allowance, needle threading, hand sewing, placement of cut outs…. All the mistakes are being made and it’s wonderful as once the frustration has cleared we can talk it through and do better next time. 

Chin ups are a big focus right now – for some reason they’ve been something my two have latched onto through watching myself and my husband train at the gym. Practice and persistence come up very regularly in most activities or pursuits but chin ups have been demanding and the joy of reaching goals has been sweet! My eldest can now do more than me!!! Talk about confidence booster! And because this is something it’s not possible for me to help them with it’s been extra special as they’ve achieved all by themselves πŸ™‚ and the goal posts can always be moved to achieve more if they wish ❀️❀️❀️

And finally, this is a long running, always continuing lesson which I’m still learning for myself! The power of words! Now that my littlest is 3&Β½ she’s coming to a stage where she has her own opinion, she wants to lead and direct what she is doing, and her independence is growing. So, therefore the disagreements come thick and fast some days and we need to learn to master our communication. This is a work in progress that’s for sure! 

I’ve been so happy to see the progress with my two I just had to share!!! 

Did you find any activities in particular helped your own children with perseverance, preparation, or communication?

Would love to hear if you did πŸ™‚

C xx