Monday, 28 May 2012


That's right there was snow in South East Queensland today. Reports say that it was localised over one particular patch. Our driveway.

As I was cleaning out the Summer clothes, and putting in the Winter clothes, I noticed a box of artificial snow I bought two Christmases ago with the intention of... well, I can't really remember.

The boys and I went outside and made some. None of us have never seen the snow, so we were very entertained. It started out in nice plastic trays, using Lego to create ski jumps, roads, planting trees and attempting to make mini snow men.
Then we threw it up in the air and watched it fall.

Then the boys played for 2 and a half hours BY THEMSELVES! That was BY THEMSELVES!
This was a small Winter miracle. They played pretend Mummy and Babies, they made roads and laughed and sang together. Oh the joy!

It was so lovely, until I read the instructions... apparently it doesn't just break down... I'm going to have to sweep it up.

During the time we were playing with it, I was thinking the texture is something that I've seen before, but couldn't place it. Then it dawned on me. It's exactly the same as when I put a disposable nappy though the wash. When disposable nappies reach bursting point, you have fake snow! So my scientific mind got to wondering if I could make more snow.

I got a large disposable nappy and took out the cotton and tiny beads that are inside it. Flooded it with water, I'm guessing about a litre, and while it wasn't light and fluffy like out bought snow, it was awesome for making snow men. Surprisingly, the cotton turned into the snow as well. Great for sensory play, but I wouldn't leave the boys unsupervised playing with it. I'm not sure how toxic it is if ingested.

Give it a go with the kids. It's pretty amazing to see it "grow".

Friday, 25 May 2012

Snicket v. Cupcake

I couldn't decide if I felt like Lemony Snicket or lemony goodness... so first I began to read A Series of Unfortunate Events, and it was entertaining.. but a little depressing (hey, I was warned). So I went for lemony goodness instead. I'm much happier with the selection.

Since moving into our home three years ago, we had one lemon per season off a stick of a lemon tree. This year, after taking Dad's advice, I got Andy to wee on the tree most days through Summer. Apparently the acid in the wee makes for good lemons. If truth be told, I was really set out to prove him wrong. However, to my surprise we actually have a harvest?crop?bunch?whatever of nine lemons! Six are featured to the left, and three came after the photo was taken. However, they aren't quite as lovely as these six anyway. With most sweet lemon things, you don't actually need much lemon in each recipe, so I've already made a few. I highly recommend  Justine Schofield's Lemon Shortbread Buttons and Mel's Kitchen Cafe's, The Best No Bake Lemon Cheesecake.

Today, is rainy and cool. Days like this I love. Days like this, Andy and Joey run a muck. At the very second Andy is encouraging Joey to jump on him. However, moments ago, were happily baking. We were creating Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes.

I've adapted a few different recipes (because I didn't have all the ingredients), so much so, that I'm calling this one my own.

Not A Snicket Cupcake


1/2 cup milk 
1 Tbls white vinegar
(or omit these two ingredients and their subsequent steps and just use 1/2 cup buttermilk) 

 1 cup white sugar 
2 Tbls lemon zest finely grated (about 2 lemons worth) 
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs 
2 cups plain flour 
1 tsp bicarb soda 
1/2 cup of sour cream 
2 Tbls lemon juice *smug- was under half of a lemon* 
2 tsp poppy seeds 

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line about 12 muffin tins OR 20 cupcake tins OR 48 mini muffin tins with paper liners. 

1. Mix milk and vinegar together and set aside 

2. Add the sugar and the zest to the mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub the zest and the sugar together, until you cant see any bits of zest. You'll have a beautiful fragrant sugar.
3. Add butter and cream. 

4. Add eggs and beat the hell out of it with an electric mixer until it's doubled in size and it almost white. 
5. Add half the flour, and the bicarb soda and the sour cream. Stir until just combined 
6. Add the other half of the flour, the lemon juice, poppy seeds and milk mixture. Stir until combined. Do not over beat, or you'll have tough cupcakes. 
7. Spoon about 1/4 or a cup of mixture (for cupcakes) into the patty pans. 
8. Bake in the middle of the oven, for about 17mins, or until a tester comes out clean. 
9. Cool for 5 mins in tins before transferring them to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Drizzly Icing 

This recipe actually makes enough for the cupcakes and the shortbread. 

1 cup icing sugar 
1 Tbls lemon juice 
1 tsp milk 

1. Mix all ingredients together. The consistency should be thick enough to hold it's shape a bit. 
2. Put mixture into a piping bag with a small round nozzle, or put icing into a ziplock bag and snip a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. You might need to make your mixture a bit runnier for this way, otherwise your bag will split. 
3. Make a pretty pattern with your icing on the top of the cupcake.

Not a Snicket Cupcake


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Mum's Kitchen

When I first moved out of home, I did it with a heavy heart. I knew that I'd miss home before I even left. I'd miss having things paid for me, I'd miss having someone always there when I walked in, I'd miss having someone clean for me, my washing done, but most of all I'd miss  my mum's cooking.

Mum's kitchen is small, but organised. It has benches that are a bit scratched and worn, but she has great chopping boards. She complains about her hotplates never being at the right temperature, but manages to serve perfectly cooked food. She hates her small fridge (dad picked it out without consulting her years ago and she's never let him forget it), but there is always enough food to go around and still be lunch for the next day. But the best part of Mum's kitchen is the pass-over-window-thingy. I will get a picture to illustrate what I mean next time I'm there, but for now, the diagram will have to do. 

I stood outside the kitchen, and just chatted to Mum while she cooked. I didn't realise it, but doing that, I observed a lot of what and how she she cooks. Every Friday, we go over to Mum and Dad's house and she will be in the kitchen, and I'll be at the pass-over thingy.

Doing up the monthly meal planner made me realise how much I really value the techniques and meals that Mum has passed down to me. Two dinner meals are passed down from Chris's Mum. She makes a great Chicken and Veggie Soup, and taught me how to make my own stock.  But a huge twenty-two meals on the list are basically exactly what Mum cooks. It's the food I grew up loving. It's going to be the food our kids grow up loving.

So, in that spirit, I'm going to share a recipe that my Mum makes. It's what we're having for dinner tonight.

French Parcel Steaks 

2-4 Steaks (I have no idea about cuts of meat, but... nice ones)
1 pkt salt reduced French onion soup mix (the dry stuff) 

3 Tablespoons tomato sauce 
2 Tablespoons of whole grain mustard 

Pre-heat your oven to 180degrees Celsius 
1. You will one sheet of aluminium foil per steak, big enough to put your steak on and wrap it in a bag/parcel.
2. Spread butter in the centre of the sheet where you're going to place your steak.
3. Put steak on butter. Season with pepper only. 

4. In a bowl, mix soup mix, tomato sauce and mustard and stir to make a thick paste. 
5. Spread over the steaks. 

6. Wrap steaks in the foil. Take the longer sides up and over the steak. fold the sides down a few times. Bring the shorter side into the fold and squeeze the corners together. 

7. Place bags onto a tray and put into the oven for about 40 mins. Generally this is the perfect time for it to cook to medium well. If you like your steak rare, this recipe probably isn't for you. However, the steak is tender and juicy. Similar to the texture of braised steak. 

This steak is perfect accompanied with potato and greens. Be careful when you open the parcel not to lose your sauce!!! 


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Pea Encrusted Stalagmites.

Over the weekend, Chris and I cleaned out the chest freezer. All I can say is OH MY GOD! As well as the peas frozen in stalagmites and the meat that was so frost bitten it was unrecognisable, there was 12 meals of sausages, 5 meals of steak, 3 meals of chicken pieces, 2 whole chickens, 3.5 kgs of mince as well as various other bits and pieces, equating to a total of 32 meals. Over a months worth of meat...

Now was the time to put all my reading about meal planning, and pinning about meal planning and dust off the recipe books and get out the slow cooker.

And I've done it! That's five weeks of food...

I've already changed it around a few times (hence the odd numbering), and I'm guessing what on Sunday when I couldn't be stuffed doing a roast, I'll swap it around again. But for now, it's sorted. Not only has this saved us money on the fortnightly shop, the food in the freezer isn't going to go to waste. I've also taken into account what I have in the pantry, so we're clearing that out too.

This excites me. Is this what my world is coming to? I'm so excited that my meals are planned for a month... Go me!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Nagging Makes The World Go Round

This is our cycle.

In the morning I ask for something to be done. Let's say the lawn mowing.
He says "Yep, I'll do that"
After breakfast I think about the lawn not being mowed.
He doesn't. He thinks about the sport that's on this afternoon.
I think about the lawn mowing not being done right now.
He doesn't. He thinks about what he has to do in the up coming week at work.
I continue to think about the lawn not being mowed as I do the dishes.
He doesn't.
I think about the lawn growing to Jack's bean stalk heights while he's playing with the kids.
He doesn't.
I ask him again, "Can you do the mowing please?"
He says "Yeah, I'll do it this afternoon."
I think right after lunch, that f***ing lawn still isn't cut.
"The mowing needs to be done"
I rage quietly.
He doesn't. He's happy.
As the sun is about to set (slight exaggeration) he mows the lawn.
I can finally stop thinking about it.

I've spoken to many women about their need to "nag" or re-ask or confirm that something has actually been completed. It seems we're all in the same boat. We think about the things that need to be done, until they are done. It's apart of our constant multi-tasking. It seems that men, on the other hand, know they'll do the job, eventually, and are happy to procrastinate until the final minute.

Other tasks that make me grind my teeth include,

Making two trips to the sink when you could have done one if you stacked the dishes.
Making a coffee, but leaving the milk, spoon, and coffee out.
Clearing the table without actually wiping it down.
Doing the dishes, but leaving two pots and a fork.

My husband is awesome... mostly. He hangs his towel up, he puts his underwear in the wash, he takes out the rubbish. But not doing a job properly and procrastinating are two things that just... make me want to pull my his hair out.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Other People's Darlings

*** This is not aimed at one child in particular... but rather everyone's children***

Other people's children piss me off.

They are lovely and gorgeous when they are well behaved and entertaining my children, not needing anything, have good manners, and are quiet. When they aren't I dislike them to the point of rudeness. I know that I do this, but I can't help it. There's eye rolling, silly excuses and my favourite, the distraction technique.

I'm sure other people feel the same way about my kids, and roll their eyes when Joey is annoying their children by casually leaning on them, hugging them without their permission and roaring in their ears. I'm sure other people feel the same way when Andy is demanding that their child share, but then wont share what he's playing with and whining at monster truck decibel levels. But they are my kids, and these characteristics, while aren't perfect, are endearing and can be put down to "they're only two and three"... and after all, they have taught me the distraction technique.

"Can you help me by putting a blanket on the twins"
"Sneak up on Joey and see what he's doing"
"What's Jinx (the cat) doing?"
"Where's Teddy?"
"Why don't you see if you can catch a chicken?"
"Can you go and find me two purple cars?" (Knowing we only have one)
"Go and find Andy and see if he wants to play Dora and Diego"
"I think I hear Daddy/Granny/Nanna calling you"

All these and more I put to good use when dealing with other peoples children. If I didn't use this technique, I think I would smack them... or at least tell them to get off me and go away.

I made myself laugh today using this on three children at the same time (two of my own and one other) by getting them to play magic dinosaurs... I have no idea what I meant when I said "Go out the back and play magic dinosaurs" but it worked, and I even got a compliment from the carer of the ring in saying what a great mum I am. *smug* When really I was thinking, God this kid is being a brat... just play nicely with my boys or get lost.

So, Mothers and Fathers, Grandparents and other people who get pissed off irrationality at other people's little darlings, use this to your advantage, and come out the good guy.

You're welcome.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Feeding The Hoards

Feeding the kids, hubby and twins is my life. It's the job that I most love to do, even when it is a challenge. I love it when Chris compliments me on sausages and veggies, but doesn't utter a word after eating freshly made egg pasta with chirizo, mushroom and cherry tomato home made pasta sauce. I love that Joey will eat curry, but wont touch a rissole. I love that Andy will say he doesn't like everything, and then eats it all anyway. I love that we don't have to offer the kids dessert to get them to finish dinner.

Family meal time in our house is very routine. We turn the TV off, and all sit down together at the dinner table to enjoy the evening meal. The kids tell us their favourite part of the day (even if we've just had a home day) and it's a time where Chris and I finally get to have a chat about our days. Important information about upcoming events is usually discussed and family gossip is gossiped about. One of the babies is usually crying which leaves one, or both of us only eating with one hand. We've often laughed as Chris cuts up my dinner for me.

I didn't think that I was going to skin to skin breast feed the twins. I was intending on expressing, but have decided to give it a go. Twin breast feeding is hard. That's a fact. Tandem feeding is great, if they choose to eat at the same time, and if you can juggle them both, and if Joey isn't climbing on the chest freezer and jumping up and down, and if the cat isn't vomiting on the carpet and if you're not in public. In other words, most of the time it's almost impossible. Then there are the sleepless nights. Last night for instance, I went to bed at 9pm. Then was up at 11:15pm with Ryan and he was back to bed at 11:45pm. Then, up with Sophie at 12:15am and she was back down at 12:45am. Then they were both up together at 1:30am and back down at 2:30am. Ryan had a pain in the tummy and was back up at 4:30am and that's where my day started because Andy woke up too. So, I had 5 and a half hours of broken sleep and am expected to function normally.

I'm thinking I might try some formula in a bottle today. I'm hoping that perhaps if they take it, I could have one shift off on the weekend. Chris and I did this with Andy and it was a blessing. I don't feel that this is giving up on breast feeding, but I need to look after me too. I'm exhausted and I think my hair is starting to fall out. Seriously.

What can I do with the kids that will keep us all entertained, that isn't stressful, that's going to leave us satisfied that we've spent some quality time together? Cooking.

The kids love it, I love it, and at the end, we get to eat. What more could we want.

Today it's choc-chip cookies. I originally got my recipe from Martha Stewart (whom I love!!!) but I've altered a couple of things. Martha's Recipe

Choc-Chip Cookies.


 2 1/4 cups plain flour 
1/2 tsp bicarb soda 
1 cup softened butter 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp salt flakes 
2 tsp vanilla bean paste 
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups of milk choc chips 


1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2) Mix the butter and sugar using a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, or about 5 mins. 
3) Reduce speed to low and add eggs, vanilla and chocolate. Beat until combined.
4) Mix in flour, baking soda and choc chips until a dough is formed, but don't over beat. 
5) Make tablespoon sized balls with dough and put on a line cookie tray. Leave about 4 cms between them as they will spread out.
6) Bake cookies until golden around the edges but still soft in the centre. This will take about 8-12 mins. Let cool on the tray for 5 mins and then transfer to a wire rack.

These cookies are soft and chewy and quite flat. Delicious warm with a glass of milk. 



Thursday, 17 May 2012

Childhood Anxiety

Andy and his best friend Teddy. 
Andy is 3.5, and scientifically going through that disequilibrium phase where the child is trying to make sense of the world but isn't being successful. He's a sensitive child, he's a thinker, and a worrier and this worries me.

Anxiety in adults is so common. Wanting to be in control, and then getting anxiety because of this, is something I have a problem with and continue to work on. However, when does normal kid behaviour stop being normal, and cross over into the horror that is anxiety? I have a feeling Andy might have crossed that line.

It mostly revolves around visitors and new people. I know some kids are shy, and some kids go though a phase that they don't like strangers but this is insane a bit of a concern.

If you've experienced this with Andy you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, imagine this.

You've popped over for a visit, no doubt to see the twins and after saying hello to me, you hear a screech "I don't like that person" "GO AWAY" "I hate them" "I don't want them at my house" "I just want it to be me and Joey to play" coming from somewhere hidden (like under the table, in the laundry or under the bed). This doesn't cease for half an hour. Yes, by that time you'll want to go home.

I've tried everything. Letting him know about the visitors coming, not letting him know, talking to him lovingly, putting him in the naughty quiet corner, ignoring the behaviour (thinking that it is attention seeking)...

Sometimes, Andy can be talked around. Then you and him will be bffs. Other times, he will quieten down, but wont be persuaded into the same room as you making for a very awkward visit.

He was like this before the twins came along, but because we didn't get many visitors, it wasn't a bother. Now, the stream of people popping in is more, his behaviour is quite worrying.

Two of my cousins who are around 10yo are seeing councillors for anxiety. Naturally, I have spoken to my Aunts about their progress and suggestions on ways to eliminate the anxiety.

One suggested to try to help him change his mind set. It's easy for Andy (like my cousin) to slip into the negative thought process. That he doesn't like something before even trying it (dinner, going down the big slide, Kindy, a new routine). We've now started a dialogue with Andy about "smiley" thoughts and "cranky" thoughts, or positive thinking and negative thinking. Already there is a difference in his behaviour and temperament.

While looking into the mirror, I talk to Andy about fun things (playing pretends, going to the shops, cuddles, reading books in bed, hot chocolate) and we look at our faces. Smiling and happy. Relaxed and calm. Then we talk about cranky things (smacking Joey, biting, not being allowed to play, naughty corner) and then talk about the faces we were making.

When Andy was in a spiral of hating on the world, I asked him if he thought his face was smiley or cranky and he got it. We then sat down and I was tempted to break into a rendition of Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, but resisted and spoke about a positive way to think about the situation. His attitude didn't change instantly and took a bit of persuading, but it took only about 5mins as opposed to 30mins.

Any other advice or suggestions stories or comments? Let me know.

Also, you can subscribe via email up the top, to the right.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

"You've got your hands full"

I've begun venturing out of the house.

No, I don't suffer from Anthropophobia. No, I'm not a recluse. Yes I have a car and I live in suburbia.

We have four children under four. It's taken four weeks of being house bound, and recovering from a pretty eww C-section experience to finally take the leap and go out in public. And really, I sort of wish we hadn't.

Not only were our two eldest sons a bit under the weather (and by this I mean "weeing out of bum"s and vomiting) but it was also midst the chaos that is Mother's Day shopping; where the stores smell like cheap perfume samples and each way you turn with a double stroller you knock over a rack full of slippers.

We, like the hoards of others, wandered around the shops to purchase Granny and Nanna something nice to thank them for all of their support though out the year. I'm not too sure if it was because of the holiday, or the shear number of people, or whether it will be like this all the time, but I believe that I was stopped every 10 steps for someone to tell me that I had my hands full.

This phenomenon has plagued twin mothers the world around, and countless blogs have been written about it. Since Mother's Day shopping, I have ventured out a few more times, and it's now become one of my pet peeves.

People say it like they are telling you something new. Like I don't understand that I'm busy. Maybe in my sleepless delirium I forgot that I'm over achieving and attempting to be super-mum.

I know that they are just trying to make conversation, and delaying the time when they have to leave gawking at my adorable bundles of joy, but when I hear "You've got" I instantly grind my teeth, and put on my fake smile.

I remember reading somewhere before the twins were born, that this could be a problem and people wrote what they say when faced with the "You've got your hands full" comments. One response really stuck with me. Hands are full, heart is full. It's a nice way of saying, shut-the-hell-up-with-your-negativity. So, in that spirit, welcome to Hands Are Full, Heart is Full. The blog where I can have a whine, share the laughs, craft ideas and recipes and probably post 10 posts and then forget my password. I hope you enjoy.