The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge – Level: Fail

the dusty bookshelf challenge

Along with 95% of the population, I’m struggling to understand how it’s April already and the year has gone so fast. What happened? Did I fall through one of these? Can it stop?

The challenge of finally reading the books I’ve collected over the years is like, a quarter over and I’ve had a very slow start. I blame it squarely on the fact that the books I was reading were not setting my motivation ablaze, and thus has led me to surreptitiously put the unfinished tomes on the op-shop pile and shrug my shoulders in defeat.

Here’s how it’s gone down (and down and down) so far:

Read More

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Taking Stock

Taking Stock

Joining in with Meet Me at Mike’s, not stealing broth.

Making : Nada
Cooking : Risotto, lots of pasta, banana pikelets, apple pie, chocolate custard, and soup.
Drinking : more herbal tea
Reading : Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine, and The Wind in the Willows to the kids.
Wanting : To never have to vacuum carpeted stairs again as long as I live.
Looking : At tram timetables.
Playing : Lots of make-believe. I’m often a baby. Who isn’t allowed to talk…
Wasting : Time, searching for the perfect thing.
Sewing : Nada
Wishing : I got more sleep.
Enjoying : The warmer weather, and being within delivery distance to many, many cuisines.
Waiting : For Christmas. Is that bad? I LOVE IT! When can I start showing the kids Christmas movies?
Liking : Stuff
Wondering : About the effects of some changes.
Loving : Homemade chips – our oven is GOOD.
Hoping : That nobody gets me up in the middle of the night.
Marvelling : At how long you really can go on with interrupted sleep.
Needing : to find the Apple TV remote.
Smelling : Yogurt. Smalls is onto her second bowl.
Wearing : Black leggings, grey top, grey jumper, everyday Uberkates.
Following : The Saturday Paper
Noticing : Lots of motivating things
Knowing : That there is a time for all things. And for some things, that time is not now. Also: pens are not bikes
Thinking : About those tiny little feet. I’d forgotten exactly how tiny! (From the post Things I’d Forgotten About Having a Newborn). It appears I forget a lot. Probably because I’m
Feeling : Tired. heh.
Bookmarking : A whole bunch of resources for you. I put together a list of all things I recommend – from home and organisation to blogging. All stuff that’s made things so much easier for me!
Opening : Up my fortnightly newsletter again. News, meal plans, subscriber giveaways, and more! I had such fun doing it last year I thought I’d revive it now that we’ve moved and are almost back into the land of the living. You can sign up here.
Giggling : At this (in addition to being horrified) #turnt
Listening : Against Me!, all the podcasts in the world, my kids fighting.

Tiny Feet

Sergeant Tiny Feet, reporting for duty.

What’s happening with you?

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

The story of the 12 towels

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 7.46.45 amThe other day I was reading this post by Brooke at Slow Your Home. I had just donated the bulk of our towels to our day care centre, who had specifically requested them. But it was one of those things I’d never thought to donate because towels are useful, you know? They’re not dust-gathering trinkets. And while we didn’t even have 12 towels, we did have too many.

Prior to our Melbourne move, we purged a lot of stuff. And when I say a lot, it wasn’t even a lot because we didn’t have a lot, but it was a lot to us. When I saw the kind of house we were moving to, I kept a few things back, thinking they would suit the interior of the house, and because we were moving to a bigger place, we didn’t need to get rid of anything.

Then spring happened, and I felt a major purge coming on. We were going to move whether we were forced to or not, and I was determined to choose location over size, which meant a smaller place in walking distance to things we wanted to be near. Which also meant getting rid of even more stuff.

I opened the linen cupboard and realised almost all of it could go. I had kept cot sheets because I didn’t know what kind of bed we would be getting for Smalls, and I heard the sheets could be interchangeable. Every single one of those cot sheets were a gift, or hand-me-downs. I hardly bought any baby stuff new, come to think of it. I probably wouldn’t have donated towels if someone hadn’t mentioned it, but once they did, it opened the floodgates. Suddenly aprons, pillowcases, extra sheets – all of it, was gone. I have never had trouble giving away baby stuff (I am done, yo), and Smalls hasn’t been in a cot for more than a year. We brought no high chair with us to Melbourne, no change table, no nothing. The minute it looked like she possibly didn’t need those things any more, they were gone.

I’m not overly sentimental with things, I do keep what is important, but a lot of stuff I had was op-shopped because it was pretty or it reminded me of my grandmas. I packed it away lovingly and sent it off to Savers. I don’t buy a lot of “stuff”, and I don’t even get a lot of stuff sent to me, being a blogger. I am an unapologetic book-buyer though, because I have issues.

The first time I purged, just before packing up and moving interstate, I realised that I never once thought about those items again once they were out of the house. It gave me the reassurance I needed to part with more things. As Brooke said: “Not one single thing do I think of and say, ‘Oh, I wish I still had that,'”, and I agree. Mostly because I’ve forgotten what I gave away in the first place. But I have not needed any of it, even though some of it was useful.

Are you a hoarder? A free-and-easy purger? (If you are, tell us all your secrets!)

 

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

These are the Golden Days

Image credit: oliverstwistytales.com.au

Image credit: oliverstwistytales.com.au

The other day I was buying one of Smalls’s birthday presents, and I couldn’t resist getting myself a little something too. This These are the Golden Days print sums up pretty much exactly how I feel about parenting my two- and three-year-old right now.

They are hilarious. And totally adorable. One serious, verbose, sensitive, kind, and completely incapable of having the wool pulled over her eyes. She is sharp as a tack, that one. Doesn’t miss a thing. Is an interesting conversation partner, and has just started drawing circle people with sticks for arms and legs.

The other is a big-toothed grinning menace, who never says the first half of her words, who sits on the toilet fully clothed but makes the “pssh” noise like she’s actually doing something, mangles “sandwich” like you wouldn’t believe, and randomly hugs me and strokes my hair. She puts her hand under my chin and says “orright?” and then toddles off on her tiny legs.

Neither of them can pour their own cereal or make their own sandwiches, so we’re nowhere near out of the Intensive Parenting Woods (I hear that’s where the Big Bad Wolf lives), but it’s also not the 24-hour-a-day onslaught that is a newborn (or toddler and a newborn, heaven help me).

Next year is Kinder, and the year after that is SCHOOL OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP and I’m right in that spot where I could freeze time and hang out here forever, making playdough and baking cakes and buying tiny shorts. These guys are fun and interesting, and while still totally toddler-irrational from time to time (not to mention the picky food issues), they are a joy to parent.

Remind me of this when someone’s stolen the other one’s eyeliner and someone is out past curfew with their phone turned off.

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Just Ace

Add text

A few things I think are just ace lately. With apologies to Grinspoon.

Sooooo nobody told me that pyjamas that feature leggings are far superior to baggy trousers (not these baggy trousers though, just so you know). I bought a set from H&M and was so disappointed when I put them on and found them rather legging-like. Then when I got into bed and slid my feet down to the bottom, my pants didn’t ride up around my knees. This is genius. No cold calves for me!

Well that’s a lie, there’s plenty of cold everything for me when I have to get out of bed multiple times a night, but what can you do. (I can lock them in their bedroom, yeah?).

Spring is apparently on its way, according to some hardcore Melbournites. Which means I made it through my first winter thanks to ducted heating, and ducted heating.

I’m heading to the PBEvent conference on Thursday, and if I make it through this time without sounding like a sleep-deprived goat, I will consider it a success. I have a costume for the Friday party, plenty of Nurofen, and nobody making me get out of the bed in the middle of the night to give me cold calves. Maybe just the cold shoulder after I deliver my presentation breaking everyone’s hearts and dashing everyone’s dreams. It’s tough being the bearer of bad news, but someone’s gotta do it! (How’s my attempt at a pleasant, neutral face. It looks like murderous rage.)

I have discovered the wonder of Aussie Farmers Direct bringing to my door before I wake up all the things my children demand 400 times a day. And I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered my groceries online a few times now, which streamlines my to-do list like nobody’s business. I was trying to go out and patronise all the people doing good non-supermarkety things, but I had to admit defeat (or order a clone of myself) so some weeks all the supermarket items are belong to me.

I usually avoid watching videos, but you can’t avoid the ice bucket challenge these days. I’ve watched two people get knocked out and that’s about it. Except for this one, which I watched in its entirety, and died laughing. So many new catchphrases for my silly little mouth. I CAN’T SWIM!

I don’t know about you, but a desperate and sad Robin Williams taking his own life has knocked me for a six this week. It feels different to other celebrity deaths, like it’s hit us all hard. This comment on a post about David Letterman remembering him is exactly how I feel. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one feeling so weirdly upset by this:

Also, like a lot of people, I am imposing a moratorium on all things Robin Williams as of this moment. I just… can’t with the constant grief. Over the past week, I’ve broken down in tears at least three times a day, and a good solid ugly-cry after watching ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ last Tuesday. Celebrities die, and it never hits me except in a selfish way (‘Oh damn—no more new work from so-and-so for me to enjoy’). Williams’ death keeps punching me in the fucking gut.

Adam Hills’s response to the Westboro Baptist Church threatening to boycott Robin Williams’s funeral is the best.

And Wil Wheaton at ComicCon giving a young fan advice about handling bullies is spot on.

I watched the first season of True Detective and fangirled out pretttttty hard. I don’t have much time/patience for TV these days, but this show was brilliant. Look at my pathetic excitement on this post – god, even just looking at the picture is making me want to shout “I’m not emotionally ready for this to be over!”

Everything Eden writes is Just Ace every day, but lately her pen has been turbo-charged. I can’t even describe anything of it, so I will direct you to go and read. Everything. As much as you can. But don’t miss This World is So Hard to Live in, People are Dropping Like Flies, and Peaches Dies of an Overdose in Front of Her Son; Smug Mothers Everywhere Polish Their Mirrors. What a life. I love her fiercely.

On a lighter note, this was funny.

What have you thought was Just Ace recently?

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Need an extra pair of hands? Win a Philips Jamie Oliver HomeCooker!

The contest has ended – a HUGE congratulations to Kiran, with this phenomenal offer: 

Starter: Thai mock chicken salad marinated in nam prik pao tucked into wanton cups

Main: authentic Singaporean laksa (as i am Singaporean and we know how to take a mean laksa down) ;)

Side: rendang (spicy gravy simmered in chilli and Indonesian spices) with a side of baguette

Dessert: mango sticky rice (kheo neaw) and to wash it all down, a cool drink of Thai chai yen.

I love Asian food and am not very good at making it properly, so to have it made for me authentically is fabulous. So many other options were amazing – I was nearly swayed by a vegetarian pho! The meat ones obviously weren’t my thing, but just about everything else had me drooling on my keyboard. You’re all invited for dinner! 

Thanks so much for entering :)

I was gifted a HomeCooker to trial, and one to give away. ‘Tis all!jamie-oliver-homecooker

I’m really rather partial to kitchen gadgets, though I don’t have many. I liked to do things by hand until I had two small children… now I’m looking to cut back on everything so I can hang out with them more. I hadn’t even heard of the HomeCooker before I received an email about it, so I ducked over to have a look. It cuts, cooks and stirs for me? Runs on a timer? Sautees and steams? All while I’m busy doing other things? I am sold.

I do find the thing I’m lacking the most these days is time, no matter how hard I pare down all the things in the land so I can have more of it. I like how the HomeCooker was created for busy people to get a home-made dinner on the table even when you feel like you’re going to go crazy if you have to perform even one more domestic duty that day. I have found it useful for so many things – stirring risotto, making soup, steaming vegetables and I’m yet to make custard, but that’s next on my list! I have made granola, roasted beets (oh my god, the roasted beets – perfectly grilled on each side and I was making a batch every couple of days for a while there…), curry, chutney, ratatouille – half the cookbook that comes with it, it seems!

jamie-oliver-homecooker-display

It has also been invaluable on those days when I get in the kitchen and cook several things at once to stock up for the week. I can get twice as much done as I usually do, and then find that it will make dinner for me as well! It’s also great for after-work meals on Wednesdays when we’ve all had a big day out of the house. Nothing burns, nothing spills, nothing boils over. Just so damn handy, if I may be so bold.

jamie-oliver-homecooker-granola

I love it. It’s bulky and it takes up a fair bit of bench space, but I don’t mind. It’s not like I have the cupboard space for it anyway! I could take the steamer and pasta baskets out but I may as well keep them there, they’re out of the way. The beep to signify the timer has finished is really rather piercing, but it’s only annoying if you leave the house to get something and the rest of the people in the house don’t know how to turn it off in your absence… heheh.

So here’s what you get with the HomeCooker:

  • The HomeCooker allows you to leave during cooking
  • Always the exact temperature you need
  • Timer up to 99 minutes, with ready signal
  • Automatic shut down
  • Cutting and slicing directly into the pan
  • XL feeding tube for all your ingredients
  • Unique combination for perfect end result
  • Pasta insert, steaming basket and tray for different recipes
  • Jamie Oliver recipebook full of variety and inspiration
  • Two cutting and slicing speeds
  • Five different discs that slice, shred and julienne

You can see a bunch of other reviews (including recipes and video of mums trying it out) here.

Want one?! Sure you do! I have one Philips Jamie Oliver HomeCooker with Cutting Tower worth $529.95 to give away to a lucky reader.

For your entry, please leave a comment telling me what you would cook in it if I was coming to dinner. Whatever sounds the best to me wins!

You must be an Australian resident, and the competition closes Friday March 22 at 5pm Queensland time. This is a game of skill, not chance.

PLEASE (I’ve had such trouble with this lately!) ensure you are contactable. If you sign in with a Facebook account, I cannot contact you. Please either leave a current email address in the body of the comment, or email it to me at stacey @ theveggiemama.com if you’re not cool with it being seen.

Good luck! I’m hungry.

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Broccoli and Spinach

It shouldn’t be news to anybody that reads my blog regularly that I love baked anything with cheese. Sometimes I feel sorry for those on a diet or who are looking for low fat dishes … I often don’t have those! However, if some kind of pasta bake with veggies in it is what you’re looking for, I have the answer.

Ingredients:
1 packet  frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 -3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
450g broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
1 package cheese ravioli (or whatever you desire)

Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring large stockpot of water to a boil.
  2. Steam broccoli for about 5 minutes until bright green and slightly tender.
  3. As water heats up to a boil, heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Add olive oil and chopped garlic, and saute for about 1 minute.
  5. Next, add drained spinach to the pan, along with the steamed broccoli.
  6. Toss vegetable well with garlic oil to coat evenly.
  7. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat into a bowl, and set aside.
  9. For the sauce: In the same pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour into the butter and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  10. Add stock, raise heat and bring mixture to a boil, whisking the entire time.
  11. Slowly whisk in milk and parmesan, and let mixture bubble for about 2 more minutes until thickened.
  12. Season sauce with nutmeg (if desired) and salt and pepper.
  13. For the pasta: When pasta water is boiling add salt, stir, and add ravioli.
  14. Cook according to package directions until slightly underdone.
  15. Place a thin layer of the white sauce in an oven proof casserole dish.
  16. Drain ravioli.
  17. Layer ½ of the ravioli in the baking dish.
  18. Next add ½ of the broccoli/spinach mixture Add a couple ladles of the sauce to cover this first layer, a little more than half of it.
  19. Add the rest of the vegetable mixture, then the remaining half of the ravioli.
  20. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top (a little less than half of it) and top with grated cheese of your choice.
  21. Place casserole dish under the broiler or in oven about 8 or so inches from the element.
  22. Broil about 5 minutes until cheese melts and is bubbly and starting to brown.
Original recipe here
Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!