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Easy Chicken PΓ’tΓ© Recipe

A family favorite of ours is this easy chicken liver pate recipe. My children go in and out of their taste for this depending on what their body needs but it’s a great side dish full of vitamins, protein and yummy-ness. Clearly I enjoy it πŸ˜‰


Ingredients;

  • 300-500g chicken livers, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small-medium onion sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tbs Butter
  • Fresh rosemary / mixed dried herbs / fresh oregano / your favorite French herb mix (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • ΒΌ to β…“ cup pouring cream
  • Optional: 1 tbs brandy 

Method;

  1. SautΓ© onion and garlic in butter before adding bay leaves, cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add chicken livers, cook for 5 minutes. Add herbs and salt and pepper. 
  3. Stir livers then cook until just done. Remove bay leaves.
  4. If adding brandy, do so now then light with a match or lighter in order to burn off the alcohol, then simmer for a few minutes until well incorporated into the mix.
  5. Remove from heat and then allow to cool for a few minutes before moving everything into a food processor or blender (I use a stick blender). Add cream and process until smooth. 
  6. Pour into a glass bowl/container and refrigerate for a few hours until firm. 

Enjoy!! Xx

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Nature, Numbers, and Caterpillar Bites

The caterpillar that bit me πŸ™‚

Today while we were creating some art outside on the patio a very hungry caterpillar bit my leg. 

Crazy, I know! I’ve never been bitten by one before and in truth it was just searching for food after falling on to me. As far as I know my legs aren’t green enough to be mistaken for leaves, haha! But it tickled, and it was definitely a surprise! But the by far the strongest experience my girls took from witnessing that event was that it is a wonder and exciting to be in touch with nature – all because of my response to the incident. As parents who are busy “doing”, and have already developed certain behaviors (which, can still be adjusted by the way!) we often forget the impact of our actions – however small – has an enormous effect on our children’s experience of life. It sounds like a big call, but it isn’t. It’s the truth.

I could have squealed, shouted, hit the caterpillar off my leg, displayed nervousness or fright, and been upset. But what I did do, was turn slowly, obviously surprised at the sensation, and said “Wow! It’s trying to find food and is biting my leg! Ha! It tickles (which it did) – I’ve never felt THAT before! Look girls, look! (With excitement and smiles) take a good look before I pop it back into the leaves… It’s not hairy or spikey so I know it won’t harm me, but it does seem VERY hungry!”.

One thing I did notice before I even started to respond was the gasp from my eldest as she looked to me for the appropriate action or response (she saw it first). It was only a split second but I caught it and that reminded me to pour intent into my reaction. It worked!

They then rushed happily for a closer look and smiles beamed from their little faces. It’s a pretty strong imprint which will help build their curiosity, confidence and ease in nature.

If I had’ve reacted differently as I mentioned first, I then teach my children to become scared and withdrawn from the natural world, and to hurt things. Personally I want more for my children, and for them to respect our connection with nature and enjoy it.

But on to the numbers…

So one of the biggest missing components of many modern children is said to be “time in nature”. So to combat this issue our activities outside today focused on nature itself. Some chalk drawing of course, but then we created a graph of the insects we could see in our small garden bed by creating a table with a drawing and label of each insect, searching and counting then tallying them, then creating a bar graph and pie chart. Easy and fun, outside in the sunshine πŸ™‚


I would have a picture to show you of the graph we made but for the life of me I can’t find it!! 

Enjoy the sunshine my friends Xx

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Kids Shadow Puppet Movie

* Apologies if you received this via email unedited! An accidental button bump published it!
My eldest child and her friend meet every week to focus and work on a project of their choosing as part of their homeschooling fun. Yesterday, they just finished off a fantastic shadow puppet movie, inspired by Bunk Puppets and facilitated by my friend Anita! The two girls came up with the story line, characters, props and voices. Very very cool!

I am so proud of both of them πŸ™‚

Here it is if you’d like to check it out! http://youtu.be/j9yq_O7CRcU

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The un-naughty Black Fudge Recipe!

It’s not so naughty to eat tasty treats πŸ™‚ feast your eyes on this!

Forgive my “click it before it gets eaten” phone camera pics!


Heavenly…

If you’ve ever had real Japanese black sesame ice cream, think of the same flavour, only more intense and certainly as moreish. Maybe even more moreish! 

This recipe uses black tahini as the base and I love it πŸ™‚ The taste is not sickly fudgey-sweet, but nicely sweet, with a teeny tiny crunch from the added coconut.

Here you go!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup black tahini 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbs Melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla 
  • Pinch of ground salt 
  • A flick of ground cardamom (optional)

Method

  1. Blend all ingredients together then spoon evenly into a silicone mini cupcake tray (12 mould tray). The mixture won’t reach the top so don’t worry when it doesn’t. 
  2. Place in freezer for a minimum of 45 minutes then enjoy! Here in North Queensland I needed to line them and pop them in a container then leave them in the freezer and take some out to eat as I go. In colder climates you may be able to keep them in the fridge, but I’m not sure they’ll last that long haha!

Makes approx 12.

ENJOY!!!

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Book Review (early readers): The Magic Treehouse Series



Title: The Magic Treehouse (Series of 50 books)


Author
: Mary Pope Osbourne


Age range/ ability
: 4-7 


Summary
: A ‘normal’ brother and sister are the inspiring heroes in this series. They discovered a magic treehouse by accident one day and what follows is the most incredible adventures a young pair could have! They assist a magic librarian to collect books and artefacts from around the globe and throughout history in order to save not only great stories, but themselves and their friends. Each book is a new adventure and as the series continues the characters age, which also encourages reader engagement and excitement.


My thoughts
: These were gripping as far as young children’s reading goes – we have actually read all 50 books! An awesome way to nurture your new reader and get them hooked on reading (never a bad thing in my book! Haha). The characters have strong, clearly recognisable traits and Pope Osbourne presents their personalities in such a way that early readers can easily relate. There is no harsh language or anything of a sexualised or media-focused nature – simply adventure and team work, character building, and learning! Pope Osbourne has Jack and Annie travelling to all areas of the world and even throughout history and myth on their adventures – so much stimulation and inspiration it’s not funny. I can’t recommend these highly enough I was so happy we found them!

They’re also accompanied by fact books to encourage further exploration, and a website I believe, for those who use the web to complement their child’s learning.

Also, a little side note – I believe the cover illustrations have been “jazzed up” recently and so even though we’ve read them all, some covers are unfamiliar to me, like the last in the set of four featured above.


Feedback from a 6 year old
: “Wow!” “Oohhhh.” “That’s amazing!” (While reading)

“I think I’m more like Jack and less like Annie. But sometimes I’m like Annie.”

“We’ve been there, mum!”
Check out the books here : http://goo.gl/NMlN2k

*Affiliate links used.

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Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Adventure Series

Title: Arkie Sparkle 

Author: Petra James

Age range/ ability: 6-10 years

Summary: Arkie is a tweenager treasure hunter who’s parents get kidnapped. It’s up to Arkie and her ‘genius’ cousin to travel throughout time and places to figure out the clues, use their brains and gadgets, and find her parents in 7 days. Each book covering one day.

My thoughts: Although some of the themes were a little old for my daughter at the time of reading these (think ‘concern about fashion’ for one of the characters), she thoroughly enjoyed the historic references, the main character’s humble personality, and the adventure of it all. She also tried to figure out the clues too. We’d definitely read these again! Apologies for no inside page pics – these were read and returned to the library before I could say ‘boo’! I recommend this series if your child is an adventurer at heart and likes suspense. 

Feedback from a 6 year old: “I just can’t stop reading these books, Mum!”. “Mum can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this? Can we read this?” (At midday and evening story time). 

“Even though she’s only young, she can still do all these things?”

“She must be strong, hey Mum?”

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Totally Healthy Mini Cupcakes recipe for everyone!

After a small amount of tinkering here is my latest recipe for healthy kids snacks. A friend suggested to me a couple of days ago to use kidney beans instead of flour and I was reminded of the ever popular chickpea cookies I used to make and thought about trying it out.

Now, substitute where necessary as we all have different requirements but this recipe proved to be another absolute winner in my house. Except my husband never got to taste any because they were finished too quickly – oops! 

TOTALLY HEALTHY CUPCAKES 

Ingredients – makes 24

  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 tbs vanilla paste
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs baking powder 
  • 1 can red kidney beans (or bean of choice eg. Butter bean, chickpea maybe although I haven’t tried)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk powder
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of choice eg. Maple syrup)

Note: to make these chocolate, simply replace the coconut flour & powder with cacao/cocoa powder. 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180β€’C and line mini cupcake tray with papers.
  2. Blend eggs, vanilla, coconut oil and baking powder until well combined, almost creamy.
  3. Add rinsed & drained beans, and remaining ingredients and process until well combined and smooth.
  4. Spoon by teaspoon into paper cases and bake for 25 mins.
  5. Try to let them cool a little before eating!

Enjoy xx

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Colour-Me Choices Posters to help deal with BIG emotions

We’ve all been guilty at some point or another for responding immaturely or unpleasantly when our child has a melt down. When more than one child melts down at the same time… Well… I’m putting my hand up first to say I’ve panicked and reacted terribly. I certainly didn’t model the behavior I aim to teach and I most definitely didn’t keep calm myself.  But now that has changed.

I’m working on a series of posters you can colour in or your child can colour in, featuring the simple yet effective choice wheel. The first I have completed is SAD. Download it here. If I ever get any time I’ll be coloring these all in Photoshop to make them incredibly attractive and mid-feed-scroll-stop-worthy, but until then please enjoy by coloring yourself. Who knows, it may be rather soothing!
I choose to have these on the wall in easy to see places and when my child/ren has a moment we refer to this. Simple. And we get through ok and I hope beyond anything else that she is able to grow her personal toolbox to deal with emotions in a way I never did as a youngster or even young adult.

Enjoy and use as you feel fits in with your family.

Xx

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The day I thought I’d failed my daughter, and how I made my way back to her.

It’s not until you reach the lowest point possible, or, the highest point of stress that you may find your way to light. That’s how it’s been for me for the last 2 months – feeling like I’ve totally failed raising my second child. For varied and numerous reasons – lets call it “mashed up circumstances” – I hadn’t been as focused on my second as I was on my first – goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to handle any more children as other mothers so graciously do. But more than the usual “We played classical music for our first but the second just gets whatever is on the radio”, or, “We went totally organic for our first but the second ate bread and processed food WAY too early”… It was more along the lines of simply dragging the second along to everything the first was doing over this particular two month period, “hurrying” her along to keep up with whatever I was doing, and never really paying attention to more than her physical needs. I am a second born myself and I do realise how this feels. What a fool I was to repeat it for my own child!

So one day recently, all of a sudden everything felt like it came crashing down. My sweet, sparkly 3 yo was screaming and crying, constantly doing “bad” or the wrong things – that which she knows will push me or upset me, even physically hurting myself and others, and it felt like EVERYTHING I tried failed. Patience, calm non-violent communication, yelling, stupid consequences like removing cherished toys, changing the environment, making sure all physical needs were met that instant… I felt like I used all the tools in my toolbox and everything failed. I felt like she, and I, we’re breaking down. 

I cried for a while… Well, it was 2 days actually. And then it hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks. 

Connection.

SO simple. Children lash out when they are in need. When they are hurting.


Because of the various differences between my two, I was so focused on catering to my older child’s new phase and needs, as well as the other stressors which were going on at the time, my little one was totally left behind. My heart broke when I realised this. And then, her collarbone got broken after she fell from the dining room chair. This child who can literally jump off the clothes line, hang upside down on an aerial bar, do yoga, and climb 10 feet into the air on a circus rope, fell half a metre when messing around and broke her clavicle. At the time I felt it was my fault and wanted to make it all better, then we had quite a roller coaster ride with not getting help at the hospital (long story), that even more of our relationship felt like it was breaking. I felt like a really bad mother.

From that day onwards, even though she had been in pain and frustrated at not being able to do the amount of physical activity she was used to and had a lot of pent up energy, I tried to connect with her. It’s crazy how simple it is but in the busyness of every day life we can overlook that which is most simple.

I gave her 100% of my attention and focus. We played games led by her. We read her favourite books. I shared my feelings with her. And I made a conscious effort to have my older child allow her to speak without interruption. Every day I am working on it but every day is getting better. I think at one point in the process of feeling I was losing her I thought that because my first was constantly in the carrier and very attached to me (when she was tiny) that we had a stronger connection, and that my second born was simply a more adventurous, free spirit (which she is) but that she wasn’t as connected to me and that I had no say in the matter. That was another mistake.

You CAN make a difference in your relationship with your child. Never give up no matter how old they are! All it takes, is connection. You can never fail them as long as you are trying your hardest.

Let your love rule πŸ™‚ You got this!
Xx

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Family Holiday Winner: New Zealand

I’m a little behind on this post, and I can’t find most of the pictures that go with it since my computer died last week 😦 Actually, the four of us went last year in April of 2015 to Auckland (North Island), and before that when we were a little family of three it was 2012, not too long after the earthquakes when we visited the South Island. Before that it was the first leg of our 12 month honeymoon 10 years ago so the adventures were slightly different πŸ˜‰ And yet we still haven’t been during snow season!! Lol


Being from Australia, there isn’t too much of a language problem, but as far as traveling with children goes, the Maori homeland, place names and signage as well as heavy cultural art infusion into every day life is exciting!

To make it easier I’ll blurb on about Auckland and then Christchurch. Each holiday was 10-14 days as that was our availability at the time, but being so close (3-ish hours flying from Australia) it’s a nice getaway with cultural and scenic inspiration, which is what we look for when traveling as a family.


Auckland (North Island)

As I said before, we stuck around each of the main cities simply because we only had a short visit. But mind you, most adventures are never far away. The things I like about Auckland were; museums and art centers – always with a children’s exhibit or interactive experience. The Maritime museum was particularly good! Next was food – cafe and fine dining, if within your budget were also impressive, but aside from those the market eats are also hearty, fresh, and unique. The scenery is breathtaking, boat/ferry rides, hillside farms coated in morning dew, street art, kayaking, protected reef tours, magnificent beaches. NewZealand  has a lot to offer and apart from some of the extreme adventure sports the kids can join in pretty much everything with you.

The day to day expenses are pretty much on par with Australia (no surprise there) but like in Oz you can save by selecting self catering accommodation options. We tend to stay with friends, use Air BnB, or go for simple hotels. 


Christchurch (South Island)

We had a blast here – tailoring a lot of activities to “family outdoorsy” stuff. We hired a car and hopped between the main city, the Rare Breeds Farm Stay, and an organic small farm bnb where we slept in a yurt. 

It was such a contrast to see the city half up, and half in ruins after the earthquakes. Heartbreaking to feel the low energy of some of the people trying to rebuild what was lost, but still the same famous smiles, service and hospitality of the friendly Kiwis. 

We enjoyed the botanic gardens immensely, and simple dining while in town. However the real treats were the Rare Breed Farm Stay and the Organic Family Farm. 

Imagine sleeping cosy in a converted barn in the middle of a farm with fields of Alpacas, Llamas, goats, chickens, rabbits, furry pigs, and more. An absolute treat for kids! You get a tour, the opportunity to feed the animals and learn, and genuine smiles from the hosts Chris and Elaine. Some of the breeds are so rare and some so unusual they were even used in the Lord of the Rings films. Just Google ‘Warwickz Farm Stay New Zealand’ πŸ˜‰

During our stay at the organic farm we went sight seeing to the bays (and funnily enough could really notice the French influence) but also were able to dig up fresh potatoes, cook in the outdoor kitchen, and relax in the funky but fabulous yurt. We could enjoy the shared space (think drums, books, mats, music, guitars) and My family also loved the outdoor shower with a fantastic view – so much fun – and extra breezy!

Another hit with tourists is also the natural hot springs although we didn’t get there.

So whether you’re tripping around or just hitting the snow I highly recommend NZ for a family holiday! Friendly, beautiful, numerous family friendly activities, unique arts, crafts and fashion shopping, prominent culture offerings, and adventure activities. Win win win πŸ˜‰

Sorry I have zero photos because as I said, dead computer and yes, I’m crying inside.
Happy holidays! The next review on the list will be Brisbane, Australia.

Xx