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 4 January 2016

Dairy Free Cauliflower Frittata

During the last six months I've had to eliminate DAIRY from Miss M's diet and as a seven year old who use to be able to everything we've found it difficult at times. Since we started this journey we've had to add citrus fruit and tomato to the list of foods to avoid so I seem to be learning new things all the time. I've been Gluten Free for twelve years now and you'd think it would be easy to adjust our diet but unfortunately I've had a heap of hassles adjusting our way of eating so that it was 100% dairy free. That was until I discovered Paleo. Eating Paleo means we can both eat everything without me having to make changes to nearly every aspect of the meal. I've also introduced the rest of the family to eating Paleo and dairy free just to make my time in the kitchen shorter.

So after a busy day at the shops getting three kids eyes tested and then having them all fitted for glasses I ran out of time to pick up a few things for dinner. I knew that I had a head of cauliflower which was coming close to needing to either been eaten or thrown out, so I put together this really easy and yummy Cauliflower Frittata with cauliflower puree. 

Dairy Free Frittata, Paleo

I've also decided to cut down on the amount of SUGAR that's in my kids diet. To do this I'm going to change out the processed foods and replace them with healthier home made treats for the kids. I'm also hoping that this small change will impact on the kids behaviour especially around the time when I'm making dinner and trying to get them bathed. I was really happy with how this frittata turned out.

Cauliflower Frittata serves 4
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
water to boil, retain ¼ cup of cooking water
400g can of coconut cream
10 eggs, beaten
300g ham or bacon, cut into large chunks
5 mushrooms, thinly sliced
onion, thinly sliced
5 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons of almond meal
salt and pepper for seasoning
oil for greasing

1. Pre heat oven to 180°C and grease your frittata dish.
2. Bring water to the boil and when it's boiling add the cauliflower florets. Boil until tender you don't want them to be mushy they need to hold there shape.
4. Meanwhile whisk the eggs and coconut cream together and season with salt and pepper.
5. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and the ham or bacon until it's cooked to your liking.
6. Grease your frittata dish and then sprinkle the almond meal over the base of the dish. Place the fried vegetables and meat onto the base of your dish.
7. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the vegetables and meat making sure that you've half filled your dish.
8. Place the pieces of cauliflower in the egg so that some of the cauliflower is sticking out of the dish.
9. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, check after 20 minutes and if the cauliflower is browning too quickly turn the temperature down to 160°C for the last 10 minutes. 
Note: depending on how you like your eggs you might need to cook it for a further 10 or 15 minutes if the egg isn't cooking around the cauliflower.

Cauliflower Puree
remaining boiled cauliflower
¼ cup of cooking water

1. Place the cooked cauliflower and a little bit of water and blend together until the cauliflower is smooth. If it's lumpy blend a bit more.
2. Add more water as needed until you have a smooth consistency that you're happy with.
3. Spread the puree onto your plate and place the frittata on top. Serve with a green salad and enjoy.

I'm happy to report that all the kids ate their dinner and I didn't have to prepare individual meals for any of my fussy eaters. This recipe is great because there is no hidden nasties in the coconut cream and it's also dairy free so I'm able to give the kids a healthy dinner without them knowing it.

Paleo, Dairy Free

Having tried Paleo last year I know that this recipe is also Paleo especially if you use coconut oil to grease your frittata dish and to fry up the vegetables and meat. The other change I'd make would be to use dehydrated tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes. 

Overall, I'm really happy with the way this frittata turned out and my daughter didn't get a belly ache after eating it which was an added bonus. Hands down, what a great start to 2016. 

Happy New Year everyone I hope that 2016 is a great year for you all and that you are blessed with lots of great opportunities during the next twelve months. See you soon.


Monday 1 June 2015

Soccer Playing Peg Dolls

One thing I was never enjoyed at school was poetry and unfortunately it seems to have rubbed off on Mr C. Earlier this term he had to write a Limerick about himself and something he loved. SOCCER was his topic choice but he struggled to come up with a Limerick within the week he'd being given. Mr Opoes and I read over what he had, it was then that Mr Opoes suggested we all sit down and have a brain storming session and this seemed to help Master C write a better limerick. 

                                  I'm a local lad who's called ocker,
                                  I love to play me some soccer.
                                  I wear the green and gold,
                                  But my team always fold,
                                  'cause I'm shocking as a blocker.

Life went on and I completely forgot about his little Limerick until two Monday's ago when he came home wanting an adult sized shoe box for Technology to make a 'Diorama'. Now A diorama is a way to build an exciting scene in a small space and this is why we needed a shoe box. We ended up getting a box and two wooden pegs from Grandma to create his diorama.

After doing a bit of research Mr C knew what teams he wanted his players to represent, the colours of their uniforms and the general layout he wanted to create. I helped him get the things he'd need from my craft store stash and he set about creating his diorama. I helped him create the background of his diorama and I made sure everything got glued into the box so that it wouldn't fall out BUT he made the Soccer Peg Doll players himself.

To think that with a little thought, paint, glue, cardboard and a black pen you can transform a peg into your favourite soccer player. I hope that he hasn't offended Lionel Messi with his Peg Doll figurine. What do you think? I'm thinking that it's a pretty good resemblance. 

Lionel Messi

I'm so proud of Mr C and I never knew how crafty he was. I've always known that he's loved doing Art at school but with nothing coming home from school it's difficult to gauge his ability. I helped guide him with the hair on both his players and I wrote the number and name on the back of the shirt as Mr C's writing is a little big. I'm so glad I got to watch him today and I'm so proud of the effort and attention to detail he's put into each doll.

Lionel Messi, Australian Soccer

I'm hoping that when Christmas comes around I'll have made a few of these peg dolls with outfits so that I can give them to the girls as presents. I like my chances of gluing fabric onto a peg instead of painting the peg to create my dolls. The other lesson learnt would be to put the facial details a little lower especially when having to paint or glue hair onto the peg.

Have you ever painted a peg person before or do you know of someone who has. If you have I'd love to see some examples of what you've made. Here's hoping Mr C's teacher loves his peg people as much as I do. 


Thursday 14 May 2015

Playroom Organisation.

If you saw my playroom at the moment you wouldn't call it organised but it's something I'm working on, it's a pity my children aren't working on it with me. So what am I going to tell you that you haven't already seen on Pinterest or other blogs. NOTHING. Today I just wanted to share with you what I'm planning on doing in our multi-functional playroom. What I've achieved since I started this project sixteen months ago and how I'm hoping to have it finished before school finishes in December of this year.

Our playroom needs to be multi-functional. At the moment it's nothing more than a dumping ground and an area that the children haven't used since we moved in two years ago. This room needs to work as a play area, homework area, reading area and a chill out zone for all the kids, especially if they want their friends over for a play. Sixteen months ago I had a desk installed to create a homework area that eventually they'll all use once everyone starts school and that's were it I stopped. This year with three children at school the desk isn't being used as it's filled with things from their bedrooms that I uncovered when I decluttered their bedrooms. I've needed to get in there and get the area organised otherwise the kids will be graduating and it'll still look terrible. We're half way through Term 2 and I'd like to have it up and running before Term 3 starts, otherwise it'll be another sixteen months and I'll have four children searching for places to do their homework.
Playroom Storage
The first thing I decided to work on was creating a storage system and a reading area that would work for our toys and an area for the kids to sit and read. Our playroom is a good size, making it idea for various areas within the zone. The storage system I set up was fairly easy to create, however if I was buying everything new it was have cost us $310.00 and for many families that could be too much money. I was lucky that I already owned two of the Ikea Billy bookcases from our previous house so there were only a few additional items I to buy (minus chalkboard paint) to create our toy storage area.
Playroom Organisation
Our curtains and rug have a heap of different colours in them, the kids love the rug's brightness so I decided to use some of the colours to help make the area fun, playful and timeless. I got rid of the toys that the kids no longer played with, those that were broken and any others that didn't fit within the criteria. I found some MDF coasters and fabric storage boxes at my local hardware store so that I could create labels for each cube.
Playroom Organisation
The labels were a simple process of drilling a hole into each coaster, painting each side of the coaster with my chalk paint. Each coaster got one coat of paint and this took a while as I had to wait for one side to dry completely so that I could paint the other side. Once the paint was completely dry (I let them cure for 2 days) I then used my chalk to write on each label. I then cut lengths of black sheer ribbon and narrow white ribbon and threaded them through the holes I'd drilled earlier. To attach each label to the storage box I just tired the ribbon around the handle a few times and then I tied a bow or knot depending on the ribbons colour.

So the entire make over of this area cost me $130 which wasn't too bad but if I wanted to reduce the cost a bit I could have used less boxes or waited for them to go on sale. I paid $5 for each box but later found out that when the hardware store has too much stock they go on sale for $3.60 each so I could have saved myself a bit of money. 

Overall, for a minimal amount of effort I'm really happy how things came together in this section of the room. The kids can now find toys they want and they we know which books are there for reading which saves Daddy from reading the same story every night. I'm now hoping that within the next 6 months I can find a chair for the kids to sit and read on, some art for the wall and a few cushions to make it comfortable when reading. 


Thursday 12 February 2015

Last minutes Valentine's Gifts

I've never made a Valentine's Day gift before because it's just something that we don't do. So the other night while I was grocery shopping I found a bag of chocolate heart's and I thought that I could give them to the kids to give to their friends on Friday. Later that night I said something to Mr Opoes about how Valentine's Day was only seven days away, he looked confused and then he said 'oh I didn't even know it was happening again'. After that little statement I've made it my mission to make something cute for the kids to hand out to their friends on Friday.

Valentine's Day
As I have a 10 year old son I need his 'hearts' to be suitable for both sexes without being too lovely dovey as he'd die of utter embarrassment, the girls on the other hand would be happy with anything PINK. So with this in mind I set about organising some tags that I could print off to go with the chocolate heart. As I had NO idea what I was doing I used Abby's tutorial 'How to Make Pretty Labels in Microsoft Word' to help me place the pretty pictures I'd created in PicMonkey onto a piece of A4 paper. As our printer has run out of ink I took my creation down to Officeworks to get them printed off. In my hast I'd set my margins incorrectly so with a little help from the staff member I was able to print off my tags.
Valentine's Day
I then cut the tags down to size, placed them on some cardstock and cut them out with a little boarder around the paper tag.
Valentine's Day 
Valentine's Day
Lastly, I attached the chocolate in place using glue dots so that the chocolate stays in place. If you can't get your hands on glue dots, double sided tape, sticky tape or washi tape could also be used. Your child could also personalise it by putting the name of the person receiving the chocolate tag and their name on the tag. The other option is to leave it blank and surprise their friends with a lovely chocolate gift first thing in the morning.
Valentine's Day

And there you have it a quick and easy last minute Valentine's Day Gift.

Valentine's Day
So are you making something for your loved one or are you just treating Valentine's Day like any other Saturday? We've got so many activities on this Saturday that we're just going to enjoy spending time with the kids and giving them extra hugs and kisses. So I hope you have a great Valentine's Day and that you get to give something special to those you LOVE.


Friday 6 February 2015

Stress Free Lunch Box Planning

Last week I dropped three of my four children off to start of the new school year. To say that I have to be better organised this year than I was last year is an understatement. Each one of them has sports, library, music and swimming on different days so keeping on top of their timetables is essential for a stress free morning. Now knowing who's doing what each day has helped but organising their lunches everyday is time consuming and somewhat difficult at times. My younger sister told me about a great Lunch Box Planner that she had being using and she'd found it saved her time and stress in the morning getting ready.

While she explained the concept to me I realised that she was using a 'menu plan' which is a concept the two of us have been using for years. As of yet I haven't had the time to organise myself but starting Monday I plan on having a very similar set up so that our mornings are less stressful, better organised and this should then allow me to eat my breakfast at the table instead of on the way to the car.

The first thing she did was purchase a PDF file from The Organised Housewife and she then got it printed. To save time on printing it out each week my sister put it inside a picture frame and this allows her to write on the glass using a fine non permanent white board marker, once the week is over she wipes it off with a tissue and then starts again. It's that easy and the best part is that when she bakes she know how many muffins, biscuits etc she needs to make and it saves her time as these items can be frozen to allow them to be fresh when the kids eat them.

Pictures provided to me for use in this post
Now according to my sister, her children are going to have Mini Hot Dogs and a peach for lunch tomorrow at school. The best thing about her plan is that she can make her own bread rolls the day before so that they're fresh for the children. The planner allows my sister to cater to her children's eating requirements (also great for children with allergies). If she gets sick, her husband can see what the kids are having for the day and the planner also allows her to have everything on hand when she needs it.

Stress free lunches
Pictures provided to me for use in this post
The PDF file also provides other templates that you can choose from. There's one that has the fruit up before the morning tea picture and this plan would help me plan out the fruit that the kids would take to school each day. That PDF file would come in handy for me as two of my children have fruit snacks at the beginning of the day and I know that taking an apple everyday becomes boring after a while.

So this weekend I plan on sitting down and planning out what we're all eating for the week and what the children will be taking to school. I'll also know what biscuits I need to make and I can have these frozen ahead of time. The other great thing about doing this all together is if I'm doing sandwiches I'll be able to prepare them over the weekend, freeze them and pull them out on the morning they're needed.

Now I'm off to get new lunch box idea's from Pinterest, no one is going to want to have sandwiches 5 days a week like we've been doing. So do you plan what your kids are eating for the week or do you just wing it? I know that this is going to save me money when it comes to planning my grocery list for the week and it'll allow me to get into the kitchen some more instead of buying packet biscuits.


Monday 15 September 2014

Cooking with Kids

A tradition I'm trying to encourage at the moment is having a special family breakfast every Sunday morning. I'm not wanting to do it every weekend but I'm hoping that this time in the morning will allow me to teach the children so cooking skills. At the moment my son and two daughters aged 9, 6 and 4 really want to help me when I'm cooking. Unfortunately this is normal at night when I'm at my most busiest with the evening routine. So I decided that last weekend I'd make something yummy and talk to them about taking turns to cook with me.

On Saturday after a visit to the local library my 4 year old borrowed a cookbook and when we got home she ran through all the things she wanted to cook then and there. I promised her that she could try something out the following morning and that I'd help her make it. The recipe was something that I didn't need a cookbook for but as she's starting school next year I knew using the cookbook would be a great teaching tool. I had enough eggs to make breakfast for just the kids as I'd forgotten to buy more when I'd done the weekly grocery shop. She was more interested in making breakfast just for herself but I was able to talk her into making a bit more.

So for our first cooking experience together we made Eggs and Ham from the cookbook which is a basic scrambled eggs with ham mixed through it. Although the entire cooking experience was less than 10 minutes she was able to see results quickly and this kept her engaged in the experience. I've included the recipe and a picture of the finished product. She was really happy with the outcome and she's looking forward to cooking with me again.

Scrambled Eggs

Eggs and Ham (Scrambled eggs with Ham) Serves 1
small knob of butter
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
30 grams (1 oz) chopped ham, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
1 piece of buttered toast

1. In a small bowl, using a fork whisk together the egg and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Chop the ham into small pieces. If doing this with your child make sure you help them when using a knife.
3. Place the toast in the toaster and toast until brown. Once toasted spread butter over warm toast.
4. Melt butter in the pan, over medium heat. Add the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the eggs are just set and still creamy. Depending on the child's age you might need to assist with this step.
5. Mix the chopped ham through the egg. Serve on top of your buttered toast.

Scrambled eggs

I'm about to start negotiations with my six year old as she's desperate to make everyone 'stripey ice lollies' (they're frozen fruit blocks) for breakfast. I'm thinking that we could make these on Saturday for Sunday's afternoon tea. I know that the kids will love to have fruit ice blocks especially after they've been running around all morning. So tell me do you make your own ice blocks or do you just buy them from the shops?


Tuesday 9 September 2014

Teaching craft at school

Two months ago my lovely son told his teacher that I'd love to come in and help make cards with the students for Father's Day. At first I was a little worried, working with 50 children sounded very scary and I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. However, once I made the decision to help them create a card I got started on creating a simplistic card. I settled on a navy blue, red and white colour scheme with a wood grain stamp to make it more male orientated. Both year four teachers were happy with what I put together so I got started gathering the supplies I'd need.

After talking to my son's teacher, she advised me I'd be able to save time wasting if I cut and taped up everything first prior to coming into the classroom. I took three weeks to cut, score and stamp all 600 pieces that I needed to create the card. Early on I worried that I'd be sitting up the night before madly trying to finish things off so I could teach the kids. This time my pre-planning played off as I had everything bagged up and packed away 20 hours before I needed them.


During my time up in front of the kids I found it difficult with the amount of noise that the kids were making but with the help of my sons teacher the kids were soon under control. The best thing about making the cards with the kids was that I was able to help them when they got stuck but overall they created a card for their Father's that was unique to the card that was been made next to them.


I thought I'd share some photo's with you of the different cards that the kids made and some pictures of creating their envelopes. I enjoyed the 90 minutes that I spent in the classroom and at the end of the class everyone had finished making their card and envelope so this saved the kids having to finish the cards at home.





I had enough supplies left over that I was able to give another kit to a student because she had two father's and I also made another two cards. One for my father in-law and the other for my dad (sorry Dad it'll be in the mail sometime this week). All up each card costs $0.80 which wasn't bad and it was way cheaper than a store bought card.


The best thing about been in the classroom was I got to watch my son make his card and halfway through he called me over and gave my a quick kiss. Not bad for a boy who's going to be turning ten soon. I could see how proud he was to have me in the classroom, it's a pity that I've had to put off helping out in the classroom during the last five years. I know that I'm going to be making more of an effort to help out in the classroom next year.

Hope all the Dad's had a great day last Sunday and that you got to tell you're father how grateful to have him in your life. I think that I'll do this again next year with my children because they had fun and it'll be so much easier doing four cards compared to 50 cards. Do you make cards and if not have you ever thought about doing it?