Saturday, 21 September 2013

Happy 50th Birthday Mum.

Today Mums birthday, her 50th. She used to tell me when I was younger that she wanted a big party for her 50th, however in recent weeks when I have spoken to her she has been dreading it. So I wanted to make it special.
 I was on "cake duty", so I cooked her favourite "Orange and Poppy seed" in both muffins and a cake. You can see it in my recent creative cooking post, here.
Due to our never ending tight budget, I was in able to go crazy on the presents side of things so I decided to make something from the heart. I bought two matching frames, enlarged a photo from the wedding for one (Benns present to mum) and I printed off a quote on Pinterest for the other. You can find the quote, here.

I also bought a jar from the local dollar shop and filled it with 50 "thankyou" notes. It was so much fun to make and to think of 50 different things to be thankful for over the years. I'm sure, actually I know, that there would be many more. She loved it, I wish I had a photo of her opening it, but none the less. It was perfect. I got the idea from Pinterest, you can see it on my board here.

Photo time is always a must at every get together, no matter how many of us are missing (which is quite alot in this photo). And even if it may take 20minutes for everyone to smile at the same time and look in the same direction. I love these family shots.

I had so much fun leading up to this day thinking of different things to get her. It was nice to do the 50 "thankyou" notes, it really made me realise how much she has done for me over the years. She was a single parent and handled it fantasticly, we were very close growing up and I will always treasure those years. I really love my mother and wanted to give her a special day that she deserved. A birthday to remember.


Love you Mum, Happy Birthday xo
Younger Brother Carl, My mother and Me.

Creative Cooking | Orange and Poppy Seed

I was on cake duty for my Mum's 50th birthday (post here) and I have to admit - I had a lot of fun. It really worked well with my new found cooking hobby.

I decided to go with "Orange and Poppy Seed" , which is her favourite and with vanilla icing on top. I didn't alter the recipe in anyways (which can be found here), apart from the fact that I make cup cakes as well as a cake.  

The mixture made 36 cupcakes in one round, and two cakes in the next (I used a love heart shaped tin, not sure of the dimensions). On looking back, the cake didn't rise as much as I would have liked, due to the moisture of the cake/mixture, so I should have added more batter. However, I was afraid it would sink, due to said moisture. It's all trial and error I guess.

I'm still so happy with the result. 

When bringing it out after lunch, I also added my home-made cake bunting and mini flags for the cupcakes. I had so much fun.

It may not look perfect, but it was. And man did it taste gooood.

Friday, 20 September 2013

A new hobby I never thought I'd have..

Left: Home made pizza, base included.
Right: Sugar and Dairy free Caramel Slice.
 I have found a new passion over the last 12 months, cooking. Both dinner/lunch meals and baking sweets, I can't decide which I like more to be honest. It all started with cooking for the wedding. The week leading up to the wedding I cooked and prepared; sausage rolls, party pies, quiches, brucsetta, ginger bread, salads, potatoe bake, pasta bake, fairy bread, sandwiches and lastly, our wedding "cake", a tower of Lamingtons - enough for 150 people. It was hard work, to say the least and I am not in any hurry at all to go and start my own cooking business of some sort (nor am I good enough for that!). However, it did spark a desire to cook from scratch, where time and money permits. Benn fell in love with the sausage rolls at the wedding and I have been making up a huge batch each month for his morning tea at work. I bake cupcakes or muffins every weekend to last the week and often search for new things to try. 

Lately, I have become more aware of what I put into my body and how it was made. I'm not obsessive however, trust me, I have my fair share of chocolate and naughty take-away. But through the week I try to cook from scratch at home, using less "jar sauces" and frozen veggies etc - it ends up saving us money too (which is always a win)!

I have made a new pledge to myself to try 1-2 new recipes each month. Which I will post here to inform you guys of the good/bad and how I may have altered it. I have to admit.. I also have a habit of being a bit "creative" with my cooking. I think I inherited my Mother's "what's in the fridge..." when it comes to dinners and tend to mix things up from the generic recpie. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.. But that's what the three furr babies are for, and man do they love those failed creations! 
You can check out my first creation, Pumpkin Pasta, here.

I am excitedly anticipating the day we finally own our own home and I can have my ultimate dream kitchen!

Creative Cooking | Pumpkin Pasta

This recipe appealed to me because I am a massive pasta lover, however Benn isn't so much. So to try and find new things to do with pasta other then the generic spaghetti bolonase (which Benn doesn't like..weirdo!!), I thought pumpkin and pasta would be perfect. You can find the original recipe, here, however I altered mine so I will right my version below.

Pumpkin Pasta


(Pumpkin Sauce)
3/4 of a full Kent Pumpkin
1 Clove Garlic
1 Red Onion
2 cups chicken stock

1 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
1 Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Carrot (grated)
250g Bacon


(Pumpkin sauce 1-4)

1. Chop red onion finely and heat on stove with coconut oil (or oil of your choice) I also put mine in a pot, to save on washing up ;)
2. Dice pumpkin and heat on pan with onion. Add garlic and leave for 5 mins on medium, stirring occasionally.
3.  Add the 2 cups chicken stock, mixed with hot water. Boil until soft.
4. Drain pumpkin, keep water aside to add in blended to get the perfect
smooth, runny 'sauce' consistency.
5. Place onion and pumpkin into blender and blend until smooth.
6. Keep aside until pasta is ready
7. Chop and cook the rest of the ingredients in coconut oil until brown.
8. Add Pumpkin sauce
9. Serve with pasta.

The recipe said to mix through the pasta, but I am picky and don't like my pasta mixed with my sauce until its in my bowl. The amount of ingredients I used for my pumpkin sauce made enough for two batches, so make sure you keep some aside. I sprinkled chai seeds on mine as well. Enjoy!

Spread the Love.

This video was shared on my facebook, I don't normally watch the million things that get shared each day - but I'm glad I watched this. It just goes to show that you never know who is watching.
A simple act of kindess can have a ripple effect.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Our Home.

We have lived in a few places since we have been together, but unfortunately I do not have any pictures of those, so I wanted to make sure I took photos of our house this time! We have lived in this humble three bedroom house since November 2011 and it has been the best house so far, however, we still cannot wait for the day until we finally buy one of our own! I snapped these pictures of the lounge room, dining/kitchen and bedroom on the morning of our house inspection (to which no one showed up!). I assure you, this is not how it looks all of the time. More often then not (like right now for instance) it is has evidence of three dogs and two people leading busy lives, but we can pretend that I keep it this clean all of the time.
I really love the TV area in the lounge room (top photo, right hand side). It has the bunting, letters, jars and house from our wedding, with photos on the wall behind. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of our day.

 In these photos you can kind of see my (very) humble kitchen, to which I have thoroughly outgrown! You know your getting old when the one major annoyance in your house isn't how big your bedroom is, it's how big your kitchen is! (Or isn't!!). One day I will get my dream kitchen, with my walk in pantry and dishwasher..

Our hallway is my favourite part of our house (the end room is the study). It is filled with paintings, things we have made (the guitars down the end Benn painted and jar from the wedding on the mirror) and photos of our life. I want to re-decorate/re-arrange everything. But it will have to wait until we buy a house, so I don't make too many holes in the walls!

 And our bedroom! How I live for the day of owning built in wardrobes.. But until then living with our clothes on display (half of the time) will have to do. I also really need to get my act together and fix the paintings and get wedding canvas's printed for above our bed! I have a great idea, but I am waiting for the Christmas uni break when I will have more time.. I think our room gets pushed aside so much because people don't see it often. However, I want to change all the by the end of the year and put lots of photos/prints up around the room! :) 

This is where they spend most of their days.. Cheeky babies.

Since taking the above photos I also updated our fireplace display, to which I love alot more. 
I am obsessed with nice prints/quotes these days.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Rough Patch.

Life has been stressfull lately. I am not one to complain normally and we live comfortably then a lot of people in the world, however, we are going through a rough period in our lives and I vowed that I would document all components in our life to remember, even if it is something I would rather forget in years to come.

I began my Bachelor of Teaching; Primary and Early Childhood at University almost two years ago (Jan, 2012), full-time and Benn, being the hard worker he is, took on extra work to allow me to study and keep our heads above ground. He has been a fencer, tractor driver, worked in metal fabrication, spray painting, building, childcare, carpentry, cleaning – you name it, he’s done it. I work with him three nights a week when he does commercial cleaning for a range of offices where we live. Apart from helping him three nights a week (I don’t get paid, however, by coming it decrease the amount of work he does and therefore comes home sooner), I have not had more then a handful of days’ work in the past two years, much to my dismay. I honestly don’t know how this has worked for so long, but it has, until now. 

Over the past few months Benn’s health has deteriorated due to stress and anxiety levels at both work and home. He works SO hard, yet is on such a small pay, that even with two jobs we barely make ends meet. And it has caught up on him. Using up his sick days to investigate fainting attacks, chest pain and possible epilepsy. He now has no more left and is stuck in a  catch 22; He needs to take sick days to find out what is wrong, but can’t due to no longer having enough hours and therefore not getting paid and the stress/anxiety of money (lack of) is causing these attacks. Thinking about money and having it consume your thoughts, yet there is nothing you can do, is a very awful thing. Having people call you constantly, asking to pay bills and demanding a payment (which you don’t have) is upsetting to say the least. I feel like the words that forever come out of our mouths begin with “When we have money we’ll….”. I am over it. We are over it. There is only so long you can live by scrapping by. We make rent our number one priority, as a room and a home is what are needed most. Next is food and petrol, as without both we cannot work to continue to receive money. But after that, there isn’t much left. Forget saving. Forget bills. Forget “outings”. We barely leave the house, which doesn’t bother us to much as we would prefer to hang out with our babies, but still, it is a hard time. Due to this, I tried to find a full time job before 31st of August (census date for uni) and was going to take a break from my studies for 6 months to relieve the pressure off Benn and get us back on top. But unfortunately I wasn’t hired. I didn’t want to just sit at home waiting for a job to pop up, so I have continued with my studies. But it is so hard to get my head in the game. I just want to work. Full time. Every day. I have since been applying for EVERY casual job under the sun. But so far, have been left with nothing. I have plenty of experience in a range of jobs, however, most employers these days are looking for “highly experience” people; seriously, you want 5 years of waiter experience for people to dish out food? 1 year isn’t enough? IT’S JUST A PLATE OF FOOD?!

This current stress period has resulted in one very unhappy Benn. He hates going to work and being treated like dirt, whilst working his hardest. It’s easier said then done to “just ignore them and work”, when you are getting blamed for other people’s mistakes, which results on your job being on the line. The person he reports to the person making these mistakes, and blaming it on him. Yet the next person higher up (who Benn wanted to take the matter with further), is the first persons brother. So you can see how well that turned out (read: not well at all). On top of this, the big boss/owner of the company is currently “culling” out his employees (I believe due to the recent election, Thanks Tony), and Benn’s job may not hold for much longer. He is an extremely hard, reliable worker who always puts his employer first; however, he is not always given the same respect in return. His boss interrogated him this week, demanding he spill the “goss” on all the workers in the company or he will lose his job. Yet if he “dobs” on the people he works with, they will not be happy. He does not work in the most pleasant place and I can almost guarantee that he will receive unpleasant “payback” from them if he spills the beans. Not that there are any beans to spill, his boss just can’t be bother to put up cameras to watch people work. It is so unfair. He had a fainting attack yesterday due to this stress and then when asking for a day off today, his boss informed him that he has no sick days left and can’t use annual because you have to “apply” for it. Ridiculous.

Benn has applied for many apprenticeships for next year this past week, in the hopes of beginning a trade qualification. Surely if we can live on little play now, then we can do it knowing he is studying and starting a career. Rather then working for a boss in a dead end company. I just want him to be happy. 

I don’t really know where I am going with this post, mostly I just want to record this in our lives so we can look back and see how we bounced back. Because I assure you this family will.I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnell, we just can't quite see it yet and my impatient personality is not enjoying waiting for it to appear.

Monday, 2 September 2013

First day of Spring.

Today we went out with our friends motorbike riding. Well, the boys did, while us girls watched. I am not very much of a thrill seeker, but Benn however doesn't mind jumping on the back (with no helmet I might add!). He also picked up his own bike this afternoon for a small price. It needs a few tweaks, but once he has it on the road I dare say my heart will race. And he will be getting a helmet!!

Benn also has a huge interest in taking photos and alway seeks out the best spots. One day we will get a Digital SLR, but until then, the iPhone will have to do.