The adventure of trying to make a house a home that we built for our family of six plus some craft, home décor, recipes & any family fun we might have.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Playroom Inspiration

We've lived in our not so new house for two years now and I'm presently looking to create a kid's area for the children to play in, create in and study in. With four children ranging in ages between nine and two it can be some what difficult to make the space work for everyone all the time. I knew straight up that I wanted the room to be multifunctional while also making it a fun and happy place to play in. So the first thing I did was search Pinterest to great some ideas of what makes a great playroom.

If you click on my Pinterest board you'll notice that colour, reading and homework area play a large roll when I've chosen the pins I've picked. In this post I thought I'd share my favourite playroom finds and the idea behind what I was thinking when I pinned each picture.

Love the colours and the amount of storage for toys.

Love the coloured canvas storage cubes and the little reading
nook between the bookcases.

A great bench seat that would be ideal for a reading nook.

Cushions for a reading nook to encourage
the kids to read.

Love the book cover letter to promote reading.

Long desk for all four children to sit at when
everyone is at school.

Love. Love. Love the colours in this room. It's so what I want for our
space because it would make you smile.

Love this rug and would love to great
something similar to it.
As you can see I have picked images that have a heap of storage within the room as well as lots of colour. If I had to describe my design criteria for the kids playroom I'd say that it might look like a 'Rainbow has thrown up in the room'. I'm wanting the colours to work within in the room without competing so I'm hoping that I'll e ale to pull this off when it all comes together.

In the coming weeks I'll share a few things that I've achieved so far within the room. I've got plans to paint a recently purchased bench seat using a new Australian made chalk paint that was released by a local business called Canterbury Blue Shabby Chic Furniture. The paint is called Chalk EZ2 Paint it's really easy to use and I'll go into more details when I get my seat finished.

I can't wait to share the things I've completed with you and I'm hoping that I get everything finished. I've now found the few things that I spent months searching for and I just need to find the time once school goes back to get this project FINISHED. Don't hold you're breath projects in this house seem to take forever to get completed. Wish me luck I'm sure I'll get there ha ha.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Donut Pudding

I love winter but this year we seem to be experiencing chilly winds and very cold nights so most nights we're enjoying so a few hot and comfy desserts after our main meal. The upside is the kids are eating their dinner most nights and we're getting to finish off dinner with a yummy warm dessert. While at the supermarket the other night I was walking through the bakery section and I noticed that they were marking down a heap of sweet treats. Walking over I was hoping to find a bargain for the kids morning tea but what I found was even better. I picked up three packets of cinnamon donuts and a a packet of date scones for $2.00 which was a fifth of the usual price. Bargain. Now for my two dollars I got 18 cinnamon donuts and 4 scones.

Straight away I knew what I was going to do with both of the sweat treats I'd purchased. Last year I shared with you my childhood favourite dessert Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding and this time I thought I'd use the donuts and scones separately to create this classic bread pudding. I decided to make a Donut Pudding using the same principle as the classic recipe.

Donut Pudding
18 cinnamon donuts
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 cups of milk
1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs until they're well combined. Add sugar and milk and continue mixing until well combined.
3. Pour a small amount of the egg mixture into your medium oven proof dish.
4. Cut each donut into slices and place them on top of the egg mixture. When you've used up all your donuts carefully pour the remaining egg mixture over the top of the donuts.
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until its firm to touch.
7. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving with ice cream.

In total this dessert end up costing me just over $5.00 and of five people I thought that wasn't two bad especially when everyone will get two serves each. Overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out and the kids thought it was great. I decided to make another pudding using the date scones and with the same egg mixture and a little bit of butter on each piece of scone, it turned out beautifully.

I had one happy husband and four excited children after making both these desserts. I think next time I find that donuts have been reduced at the end of the day I'll grab a packet or three and make up this dessert again. Maybe next time I might even try it using jam filled donuts as that'll give it a nice gooey jam flavour to the entire pudding.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Caramel Gluten Free Cookies

My children love cookies and its been ages since I've made a batch of cookies for them. So last week I set about making these Caramel Cookies for the kids just before I left to do school pick up. The plan was to have them finish cooking just as I was about to drive away, hopefully they would still be warm by the time we got home. However, what I got out of the oven was nothing like the picture in the recipe book. They looked terrible but they did taste nice and the kids seemed happy.

I posted this picture of my FLAT COOKIES on my Facebook Page and I also shared it with a few other blogging friends. Thankfully I had a few people give me some suggests on how to selvage my cookies. The suggestions made so much more sense as did reducing the cooking time and with these few piece of helpful information I was able to make some more Caramel Cookies. So here is my version of the Caramel Cookie, I hope you have the same success as I did the second time round.

Caramel Gluten Free Cookies
110 grams butter, not to soft
110 grams brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 small egg
230 grams of gluten free self-raising flour
30 grams of cornflour (make sure it doesn't contain gluten)

1. Pre heat oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until the mixture has changed colour slightly.
2. Add the syrup and egg and mix until its light and fluffy.
3. Mix in the flour and cornflour until a soft dough has formed and the texture is such that you can roll into tablespoon sized balls. It your dough is to soft add about 10 grams of flour until the dough has formed.
4. Place on a lined baking tray, 2cm apart and press each gently with a fork.
5. Bake for 7 minutes or until golden.
6. Cool completely before eating and enjoy with a glass of cold milk.

Gluten Free Cookies

I'm really happy with the how the cookies look. They kept there shape, they didn't melt all over the baking tray like the first batch and they were ready to eat five minutes quicker than the first batch. In my world that's a good thing because it means my kids are eating quicker and complaining less about been hungry. I'd love to hear about the disasters and the successes you've had when making cookies and cakes.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Banana Pancakes

In my family my sister is known for her love of sharing recipes on Facebook. My brother thinks its strange but as a male who's in his twenty's he doesn't have the desire to create quick, simple and delicious things. I'm always guaranteed that my sister will share something that the kids will want to eat of that Mr Opoes will spot and start drawling over for awhile. So when she shared these Banana Pancakes on Friday night I knew straight away we'd be having them for breakfast sometime during the long weekend. 

As Monday was a public holiday for the Queens Birthday (we changed the date so we celebrate it after her actual birthday) and I knew the kids would love having something special I wiped up these pancake in a matter of minutes thanks to my Thermomix, however you can still make them without one. I've included both the recipes because sometimes it makes for difficult reading.

Banana Pancake
1 egg
1 Banana, mashed up
1 cup Milk
1 cup Self Raising Flour

1. Sift flour and add a pitch of salt. Add the egg.
2. Beat gradually while adding the milk and mix until its thick and smooth.
3. Add banana and mix through.
4. Heat non-stick frying, pour desired quantity into frying pan. Cook until bubbling on top and then flip.
5. Serve with maple syrup and sliced banana.

Banana Pancake (Thermomix)
1 egg
1 Banana, mashed up
1 cup Milk
1 cup Gluten free Self Raising Flour

1. Add banana and egg speed 7 for 5 seconds or longer if you want your banana to be smoother. Scrap down the side of the bowl.
2. Add milk, salt and flour on speed 8 for 15 seconds until its smooth.
3. Heat non-stick frying, pour desired quantity into frying pan. Cook until bubbling on top and then flip.
4. Serve with maple syrup and sliced banana.

Tip: you can use any types of milk it's up to you. You can also use any type of flour be it gluten free or wholemeal but you need to remember to use 175 grams of flour whenever you make this recipe.

I really like how versatile this recipe is. As it's Winter here in Australia I really liked how basic this pancake recipe was. Next time I make this for the children I going to put warm caramelised bananas on top. If you're enjoying the lovely Summer weather at the moment you could add fresh berries or a tropical fruit salad on top to accompany your pancakes.

The kids really enjoyed these pancakes and I was able to get my four year old to eat these. She isn't a huge fan of pancakes but when she eats three of them for breakfast and asks you for more you know you're on a winner.


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Costco will it work for us!

A week ago Costco opened in Brisbane, Australia and the number of people who visit the store is amazing. People camped out overnight just to be the first in line, some of them even missed watching 'The State of Origin' (big football match here in Australia) and others spent ages in line waiting for the large cues to shuffle through the doors. Since it's opening last Thursday our major media outlets have done there best to either sell Costco as a great thing for people OR they've fallen over themselves to give you all the negatives.

I've seen a few media reports on the television about Costco and I must admit they're trying really hard to sell the other three major (Woolworths, Coles and Aldi) grocery stores as been better value for money. I tend to shop at all three for different things but the majority of my shopping is done at Aldi and that's because I can get better value for money. The only things I buy in bulk is toilet paper, nappies and rice so having an issue with storage isn't a big deal. Now with our family of six I tend to spend around the $200 mark for a weeks worth of groceries and that covers everything. There are weeks when I spend more, especially if I don't FAIL to draw up a Menu Plan.

So when a girlfriend offered to take me to Costco for a look see I was really excited to say the least. The car park was nearly full by the time we arrived arrived. I took my youngest two children with me and when I told them what we were doing they jumped up and down. Their reaction was priceless and I was lucky enough to get a picture of them.

I spent about 90 minutes walking around the store and honestly I have to say that I probably only saw about forty percent of the store. In part this was because my little boy was tried and I straggled to keep him in the trolley. He was happy when various Costco ladies offered him food samples, which he took, ate and said thank you for. Although he was in a bad mood I was pleased that he did remember to say Thank You.

I did make a purchase from the bakery section so that the kids could taste something yummy after school. However, what Viveca and Quinlan enjoyed the most was the Hot Dogs after we'd paid for our purchases. My girlfriend contacted me later in the day, letting me know she'd returned to purchase the strawberries and blueberries we'd spoken about as we walked around the store.

I haven't made up my mind yet as I'd like for Mr Opoes to take a look before we sign up to becoming members of Costco. So far I'm happy with what I saw especially as Costco has more health food items than my local supermarket does. One thing I'm thinking of doing is doing up a price comparison per 100 grams to see if Costco offers me value for money. I read an article today from Christina, Plain and Simple and she raises a few points relating to the true value of Costco and other Wholesale group.

I have decided that I'm going to wait a few more weeks before deciding to sign up or not as I'd like to take a better look inside and preferably without the children in tow. I would have to say that I am very interested in the store especially if I'm able to make some savings with our food budget. I'd love to know if you're a Costco customer and how long you've been shopping there.


Friday, 30 May 2014

Rustic Ricotta, Egg and Zucchini Pizza

Just because you're egg free, gluten free or dairy free doesn't mean you have to miss out on having pizza! Last weekend I wanted to create a delicious pizza that didn't look boring, inedible or just plain weird. Since finding out that I can't tolerate gluten I've tried using a few things to create a great pizza base and none of them have wowed me. About six months after becoming gluten free I tried to make a potato pizza base, I've tried a cottage cheese and potato base, rice paper rolls and my all time favourite FLOP was the rice, egg and cheese base. So when I discovered a gluten free base that was similar to our local pizza shops 'deep pan base' at the supermarket I was in heaven.

Recently I purchased a new cookbook 'Quirky Cooking' by Jo Whitton and Thermomix. In the past I've purchased cookbooks that are specifically designed for people with a gluten intolerance and all the pictures look beautiful but the taste isn't always the best. Jo's book is completely different, the pictures look great and the food tastes good as well. So when I saw her recipe for #Egg and Zucchini Pizza I knew that I had to give it a go. Now as always I change recipes up because I need them to fit into my budget, the ingredients I have and to the likes of my children. So with Jo's help this is the recipe I came up with.

Rustic Ricotta, Egg and Zucchini Pizza

Pizza Sauce
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs basil, leaves only
2 sprigs oregano
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
pinch fine sea salt
80 grams tomato paste

Ricotta, Egg and Zucchini Topping
400g zucchini, cut into quarters
150g sun-dried tomatoes, cut in strips
2 eggs
100 grams soft ricotta
capsicum, cut into fine strips
3 mushrooms, thinly sliced 
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
pinch of salt

Pizza Dough
1. Preheat oven to 210°C. Prepare your pizza dough as per recipe and place it on your pizza tray.
2. Set aside.

Pizza Sauce
3. Place all ingredients into mixing bowl and blend 4 sec/speed 5.
4. Spread over pizza base.
5. Rinse and dry your mixing bowl.

Ricotta,Egg and Zucchini topping
6. Place zucchini into mixing bowl and chop 4 sec/speed 5. Spread zucchini over pizza sauce.
7. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, capsicum and mushrooms.
8. Bake for 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven. Place spoonfuls of ricotta around the outside of the pizza base to keep the egg in.
10. Lightly beat eggs with a fork, then drizzle over pizza and sprinkle with herbs and salt.
11. Bake for a further 8-10 minutes at 210°C or until the egg is cooked and the pizza is lightly browned on top.
12. Allow to cook slightly before slicing and serving.

Now if you don't have a Thermomix you can use a blender to mix all the ingredients together to make the Pizza Sauce and to chop up the zucchini. Just follow the instructions as above and remember to clean the blender between both step.

All in all I had this pizza all made and cooked with 40 minutes. Mr Opoes and I really enjoyed our pizza and as I made small pizza's for the children using small pita breads they had their pizza's within 20 minutes. Nearly everyone liked their pizza's but I did have to make a few changes to Quinlan's one. I ended up adding more vegetables to his pasta sauce and I making him an Egg, Ham and Cheese Pizza.

If you want to make it more of a meal I would suggest adding a garden salad to go with a pieces of pizza. This also allows you to add some more vegetables to your daily allowance, this is one reason why I enjoy making pizza for our family as I'm guaranteed that we'll all have at least 5 serves of vegetables in this one meal. What's your favourite pizza topping?


Friday, 23 May 2014

Fussy Eaters

This is not the topic I was going to write about today but I thought I'd share my thoughts with you about a FUSSY EATER I have living in my house. For those of you who know my little blog, you'll know that I have four children aged 9, 5, 4 and 2. God has blessed me with babies who've slept well, feed well, had no teething issues and who've all been relatively healthy. However, for the last nine months I've been battling with my 2 year old at every meal.

We've had days when all he's eaten is two pieces of bread with peanut butter, there's been days when he's refused dinner so he's gone to bed without eating. We've gone to the doctors numerous times, visited a Paediatrician and even written down everything that's gone into his mouth. His weight has gone up, then gone down but still it's a battle to get him to eat three meals and two snacks a day. One thing I've noticed during the last nine months is he'll line up to eat meals that aren't healthy BUT once meat and three vegetables is put on his plate he'll walk away from the table.

Now this is not to say that we eat take out everyday of the week, in fact we haven't have eaten one meal from the Golden Arches since January 1st and we've ordered a pizza once because the meal I made burnt. If I want to have takeaway I'll make my own pizza's, hamburgers or fish 'n' chips and these meals go down a treat. However, this is the only time I'm guaranteed that my 2 year old will eat his meal and ask for more. So you can imagine that I've tried a few ways to hide vegetables in his favourite meals and I'm also trying new ways to make meals.

I recently purchased Jo Whitton's 'Quirky Cooking' cookbook as it's filled with allergy friendly recipes for the entire family. Now Jo has a blog called Quirky Cooking and she shares more recipes on her blog that aren't even in her book. One thing Jo asked her readers was to share pictures of the foods you've made to #quirkycookbook so that she can see what people are making and saying about her recipes. So I quickly took a few pictures and I added them to Instagram (my user name is oneplusoneequalssix) for Jo to see. Both meals I made were eaten by everyone except our 2 year old.

As you can imagine when I served up dinner the following night and again it wasn't eaten I knew I had to come up with something that would allow him to get all the nutrition he needed from the meal. My 5 year old is participating in a Junior Master Chef class at the moment and she had made Fried Rice so I decided to use this to accompany the 'Spicy BBQ Chicken' from Jo's book. The following morning I tried to get my fussy eater to have some of the rice but as you can guess he wasn't having it and that's when I had a brilliant idea.

I turned his 'Spicy BBQ Chicken and Fried Rice' into Spicy BBQ Chicken Pancakes or Savoury Pancakes which he loved so much that he ate the remaining pancakes for lunch. Now this method does take a bit of extra work but if I can do this every couple of days he'll get his daily serve of vegetables, some protein and he'll also be participating in family time while we're all sitting at the dining table.

I'd love to hear what you've done to help a fussy eater eat with everyone else, especially as I think he might get sick of pancakes soon. I did think of muffins but he's not a huge fan of my muffins as we'd have mini quiches that looked like muffins the previous night. I'm hoping that this fussy eating doesn't go on for too much longer.