Archive | May, 2012

I love coupons

31 May

Growing up in the U.S., I loved Sunday mornings. My mom or I would always make something delicious for breakfast. Usually pancakes, waffles, french toast, something like that. Sometimes with bacon. Oh how I love bacon with maple syrup. Aussies, you don’t know what you’re missing! And the Sunday paper was delivered to out paper box, attached to the post of our mailbox across the street.

The Sunday paper was by far the best paper. There was an entire section of comics/cartoons, whatever you want to call them. We called them “the funnies.” My favorite part though, were the ads.

loved going through brochure after brochure of shiny supermarket, department store, etc. adverts. Over in the U.S., they aren’t just advertising which products are on special, they actually have coupons in them with little dashed lines for you to cut around. I didn’t care if the particular product wasn’t something that I liked myself. It was the hunt that thrilled me. Any coupon I found that any member of my family might possibly like, I would cut out and give to my mom or stick to the fridge.

I still do that when I visit. I still find it extremely entertaining. I still get all fuzzy and excited when I find a really good coupon.

I like it when the ads come in the mail over here too. Except our ads don’t have coupons. They just let us know what’s on special. There is a “No junk mail” sticker stuck to the row of mailboxes at the front of our apartment building. It’s been there since before we moved in.  Needless to say, I no longer get my precious ads in the mailbox. Sigh (and sorry, but I don’t think the ads are “junk!”) Lucky for me Grandma saves hers for me to peruse. If there are a lot of good specials at one supermarket, I’ll go to that one. Sometimes I’ll go to more than one supermarket just to get a bargain. Fine, and because we live in a 2 bedroom apartment and I will go insane if I don’t get out every day. Sometimes twice a day.

But I still like coupons. Even online ones.

If you live in Australia, here is a website that offers free coupons: http://www.couponcodes.com.au/

Or you can get online discounts.

*This was a sponsored post. I have received money in exchange for writing this post. Gotta earn money somehow….

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

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How to lose your baby weight

30 May

I gained an enormous 17kgs in both of my pregnancies. Yeah, that’s a lot for someone who usually only weights 48-50kgs! After having Hannah, it took me a year to get back to 50kgs. Right now, 9 months after giving birth to Daniel, I weigh 48 kgs.

There is a brand new website called How Moms Lost Weight Fast, created by the maker of The WordPress How to Blog to inspire and inform other moms trying to lose their baby weight.

Well guess what? I’m the very first mom to be interviewed for the site! How did I lose 19 kilos so quickly after having Daniel? Read the interview to find out.

Buy Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 Pound

In other news, I have been getting an enormous amount of review requests. Lots of people want me to try and blog about their product. So, I’ve created a whole new blog, A Mom’s Reviews to do just that.  I still have a few products to blog about on this blog, as I was sent them specifically for review here. After that though, all reviews will be on the new blog. Well, most. On occasion, something really good or amusing or something might come up that I will blog about here.

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Dear parking jerk:

29 May

Dear (if I knew how to do that thing where you put a line through Dear and then use another word, I’d totally do that here) driver of the ute (truck) who parked across the sidewalk a few houses down:

What were you thinking? Could you not be bothered to pull in the extra 8 feet so you weren’t blocking the entire sidewalk? Did you not know that it is actually illegal to park across the sidewalk? Of course it is. Duh.

And here’s why: The driveway you decided to pull up to, but not in to is just after a corner. A crazy corner at the top of a hill where people drive way to fast and accidents happen there all the time. Like the one our car got into just the other week. And then another car 2 days later, and another one a couple days after that.

You parked so the front of your truck was just barely past the fence of the property you were visiting. Or live at. Not sure which. There was only about a foot between the fence and your truck. Not enough room to push a wide pram containing two kids through.

Your ute was all the way across the sidewalk and past the shoulder of the road.

How did you expect pedestrians to get past your truck? Were we supposed to trespass on your property by going around the front of your truck and through a bit of your yard? Oh wait, we couldn’t fit through there anyway.

Were we supposed to go around the back of your truck, forcing me to push the pram IN THE ROAD at the crazy corner?

Oh, did you expect me to fly? Dig a ditch under the driveway? Fold up the pram and go around the front?

In this particular spot, there is a decent sized hill just before the curb. I could have gone back the way I came just a little way, but the little hill was impassable with the pram over there. AND the corner of the road was right there.

So what was I to do Mr. Parking Jerk?

There was no room on the driveway between your truck and the curb for me to nicely push the pram down the gentle slope from driveway to road.

I had to push my pram with two children in it over the hill just before the curb and then down onto the road. I got over the hill ok. But then the pram was stuck. Did I mention that there was a dip in the road just after the curb? So little hill plus dip on the other side made for quite a big hill when you’re talking about getting a pram through.

Were you watching me struggle as I nearly toppled the pram over getting around your jerk truck?

I had to go around the front of the pram and pull the front wheel up to get up the dip, making the back wheels drop off the curb rather violently. Just to get around your truck. Which never should have been parked there in the first place.

Then I had to wait on the shoulder next to the butt of your truck, which, as I mentioned, was blocking the whole shoulder too, and watch for oncoming traffic.

When I couldn’t see anyone coming, I had to make a mad dash IN THE ROAD to get around your truck, all the while hoping that no one came flying around that crazy corner and into the back of us.

Did you see me running around your truck? Did you see me struggling to get the pram up the curb and over the hill on the other side? Did you just watch from the window and laugh, you parking jerk?

Maybe next time you’ll park properly. As in, NOT blocking the sidewalk. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you really are a jerk, not just in my mind because I’m annoyed at having to push my kids in the road due to your selfishness.

Sigh.

Seriously though, WHY DO PEOPLE PARK LIKE THAT?!?!?!?!

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

Roast Lamb and Sweet Potatoes – for Baby to adult

28 May

Never in my entire 29 years have I cooked lamb. Or adult sheep. Do people cook adult sheep? Anyway, I’ve never cooked anything remotely resembling sheep.

Until this week. I was road testing the Roast Lamb and Sweet Potato recipe for The Main Meal‘s How to Make Every Bite Count brochure/e-brochure. Ok, fine, it’s actually called Lamb and Veggy (did they spell that wrong? Pretty sure it’s veggie. My spell check thinks so too….) Roast with Potato Wedges, but I didn’t use potatoes, so I kinda had to change it. Since both Hannah and Daniel don’t tend to like potato unless it’s long, fried, and salted, I decided to use sweet potato instead. Besides, sweet potato is rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and it has a low GI. Plus, it tastes way better than normal potatoes. In my opinion….

I had to buy a mini lamb roast, which sent me around the supermarket like a chicken with my head cut off. What the heck does a mini lamb roast look like? I had to read every label on every meat until I found what I was looking for. But eventually I did. They are a bit expensive compared to the usual roast I make – chicken.

I browned the lamb in a pan, as required. If I wasn’t road testing the recipe, I would have been lazy and just shoved it in the oven. I don’t like to use more pans then needed. And why do I need to brown it before cooking it in the oven?  I looked it up on the Main Meal, and found a page called “how and why we brown meat.”  It certainly had the how, but I couldn’t find the why. Sigh. I tried googling it, checked a few other web pages that came up, and still couldn’t find out why you actually brown the lamb before roasting it. Anyone know? Now I’m curious….

After browning, I added the lamb to the already roasting sweet potatoes and carrots and set the timer for 25 minutes. Carrots? Yeah, I added some chunky carrot pieces too. Have you ever tried roasted carrot? DE-licious!!!!

When the buzzer rang, I took it out, rested it as required, made some gravy while it rested, then cut it up. Gravy? Yeah, remember the last recipe I tried?  It was a bit flavourless, so this time I sought advice from Aaron (as he was the one who was actually going to eat it).

“Should I make some gravy?” I asked him. “Does gravy go with roast lamb?”

He said yes, so I made some gravy.

I cut some pieces of lamb off the roast, put them on Aaron’s plate with the veggies, poured on the gravy and served it up. Next I started cutting some more bits off to adapt to toddler and finger food for the kids.

“Are you sure this is cooked enough?” Aaron called from the table.

“Um…I don’t know, I followed the recipe. I cooked it for the longest it said to cook it for.”

Further into the lamb, it was even less cooked. I don’t know if the recipe doesn’t have it cooking for long enough, or if it’s just that our oven is crap. Because it is crap. There is an element at the bottom of the oven, and that is it. No fan, no element on top. What kind of ridiculous oven is that? Everything burns on the bottom, and is raw on top. It’s all uneven too, one side will be burnt, the other half-cooked. Needless to say, I do a lot of turning, flipping, and rotating when I cook.

Regardless of the reason the lamb was undercooked, it was. Probably. I’m not sure. How do you know when lamb is done? I think it would have been great if the recipe included a little blurb about how to tell when the lamb is cooked. I always see chicken recipes saying something about the juices running clear and all that stuff. So what about lamb? What do I look for with lamb? I just googled it and another page from The Main Meal came up near the top of the google search. Hmm… I probably should have looked into that before cooking the lamb. But I didn’t think of it because the recipe had a time on it, and the thought just never crossed my mind.

There is apparently a “touch test,” or you can use a thermometer. The page also has a chart of cooking times. It states 20-25 minutes for a rare roast. Hmmmm… I’m not sure why the recipe would want rare meat when it is intended for babies and toddlers. Can babies and toddlers eat rare meat? (A bit of internet searching just now came back with no, they shouldn’t.)

We weren’t sure, so I put the lamb back in the oven and quickly threw together something else for them to eat, with the plan to give them the lamb the next night.

I gave them some of the sweet potatoes and carrots though, and Daniel loved them. And I mean loved. He gobbled up his serve in about a minute flat.

Meanwhile, the lamb was roasting in the oven. I didn’t leave it in that long, but I did forget to set the buzzer in my haste to find something else for the whingey, hungry kids to eat for dinner.

Crap. It pretty much looked like an old beaten shoe when I took it back out of the oven. Sigh. There would be no eating that. 

“Well, you got to try it Boo, how did it taste?” I asked Aaron. Yeah, I call him Boo. As if you don’t have a silly name you call your spouse.

“Yeah, it was pretty good. Definitely needed that gravy, or some sort of sauce of seasoning or something though. And I think you sliced it too thick.”

Whatever, I’ve never sliced lamb before.

The recipe is a good starting point, but it needs to state other cooking times for if you want it medium or well done. It would be awesome if the recipe including how to know if lamb was done. And it would be super awesome if it also included a seasoning or sauce option as well. Just because a recipe is meant for baby and toddler consumption, doesn’t mean it can’t have seasoning, and lots of flavour. After the initial first foods, that are really bland, store bought baby food tends to incorporate some sort of seasoning in it. Lots of them have basil, parsley, etc. I’m sure there are babies and toddlers out there who don’t like a lot of flavour to their food, but there are also lots that do like it. That’s why it would be great to add a little section for seasoning/sauces.

I might actually try cooking this again. Aaron likes lamb. Hannah has never tried it, and I’d really like to see if she’d eat it. Daniel likes it. At least from his baby food jars. I will, however, look up what seasoning works well with lamb, and whack some on before cooking it. And no, I won’t be trying it. I don’t like red meat, remember?

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

Poop in the shopping centre

25 May

This happened a while back, but I used this story as my entry in the Kleenex mums So You Think You Can Blog  competition. The submitted post had to be something not posted elsewhere. The comp ended on the 1st of May, yet they haven’t put up any entries after the 24th of April (mine was after that), nor have they announced a winner. In all, they only have 8 entries up, and a blurb saying there’s still time to enter until the 1st of May.

Basically, I can’t be bothered waiting anymore. I didn’t spend lots of time and effort writing and drawing something that possibly won’t ever get posted because they can’t keep track of their competitions. Or whatever reason they have for not putting things up and announcing a winner.

So here it is – a true story of horror in a department store at the shopping centre. Of course I didn’t call it “Poop in the shopping centre”, I called it “Potty Training in Public.” Didn’t want to scare them off with just the title :

Potty training is hard. At least it has been for us. For the longest time, Hannah (2 years and 8 months old) refused to even sit on the potty. So I didn’t push it. I just left her in nappies.

Then one day, she decided she wanted to wear underwear. And still not sit on the potty. Sigh. Oh well, it was a start.

She wet herself every few hours, turning our carpets into a disgusting smelly mess no matter how many times I scrubbed them and peppered them with carpet freshener. But then a light bulb seemed to come on, and she finally got it. She started peeing in the potty every single time. Even when we were out.

Poop? Now that is a whole other kettle of fish. That we are still working on. Every day, she poops her pants and I have to attempt poo removal without it a) getting it all over me b) getting all over her c) getting all over the floor, or d) all of the above. Ick. I don’t know why she can’t just poop on the potty.

We’ve been pretty lucky with outings though. She doesn’t usually poop while we are out. Until the other day.

“Mommy, I have to pee.” Hannah told me. We were in Myer, so we found the nearest bathroom and that was that. We kept shopping.

“Mommy, I have to do a poo.” Except when she says that, it means she already did a poo. Or was in the process of doing so.

“Why didn’t you go when we were in the bathroom, we were just there.” I grabbed her and ran. The bathroom was all the way on the other side of the store.

“I’ll meet you over there.” My sister in law told me. She had the shopping trolley, my son Daniel, and all of our shopping.

Finally, we made it to the bathroom. Too late. Sigh.

Her bottom was smeared in poop from me carrying her all that way. I tried to clean it off with toilet paper, but I needed something better. I needed a wipe.

I took Hannah, pants-less, out of the bathroom, hoping that my Sister in law was just outside. She wasn’t.

We went back down the corridor to the bathroom, Hannah’s poo covered bottom hanging out for all to see.

“Didn’t quite make it?” An employee asked me. How embarrassing.

I took Hannah back in the bathroom. A wet paper towel would have to do. Sigh. No paper towels. Seems Myer is all resource conscious and only has hand dryers. Fine, a wet piece of toilet paper would have to do. We went back in the bathroom stall to get some.

Hannah came closer to me. Oh no, I knew what she was about to do.

“NO HANNAH, YOU CAN’T SIT ON ME RIGHT NOW!”

Too late. She jumped on my knee as I knelt there next to the toilet paper dispenser. Alarmed by my outburst, she got straight off. But the damage was done. There was poop all over my pants. Ick.

Lots of wet toilet paper later, she was finally cleaned up. And I had to wear my jeans with that not-so-lovely, stinky brown spot on them all the way home.

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Would you like some kung kung?

24 May

Hannah was shaking her sippy cup of water into some play dishes at her play kitchen.  Then she’d stir, pour some into other dishes, stir some more, etc. She was in mini-masterchef mode. I’m quite sure in her eyes, there was more than water. She was creating something.

“What are you making?” I asked her.

Without hesitation, she answered me, as if she’d known through the whole process exactly what it was that she was creating. “Amazing Kung kung!”

I stifled a giggle. Such an imagination my little monkey has! She was so proud of her dish. She brought me some in a cup to drink. I, of course, just pretended.

“Would you like some amazing kung kung Mommy?”

“Mmmmm! This is delicious!” I told her.

When Aaron got home, she was still at it. Slaving away at her kitchen like it was the only thing in the world that mattered.

“What are you cooking?” Aaron asked her.

“Amazing Kung kung!” She told him proudly.

“What’s in Kung kung? Is there flour in it?”

“No.”

“Eggs?”

“No.”

“Butter?”

“Yeah. And pool. And Kung.” She told us.

“Anything else?” Aaron asked her.

“No.”

Inside, we were in hysterics, but we didn’t want to laugh at her when she was having such a great time and using her imagination so well.

The next day, she was making Kung kung again.

“What’s in your Kung kung Hannah?”

“1 cup of sugar, and some water.”

I asked her again today.

“Just water.” She told me.

I guess Kung kung is ever-changing. And ever-hilarious.

I don’t know where Hannah comes up with this stuff, but she sure makes us laugh!
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And the winner is….

23 May

The Lilla Rose competition is over. A lot of people read the post, but not a lot of people entered 😦

And how did I pick a winner? Easy, there were 12 comments in total, so I went to random.org and put in the numbers, clicked a button, and it told me number 3.

I counted 3 comments down, and landed on:

Elizabeth King. Congratulations Elizabeth, you’ve won your chosen item, a Clearly Jet Headband!

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… And if you are an email subscriber, clicks from your email don’t count.  If you would like to vote, please go to my blog and vote from there. THANKS!
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Hide and seek (according to a 2 year old)

21 May

Hannah loves playing hide and seek. I think if she had someone willing, she could play all day long.

She’s a very good hider.

“Mommy, I want to play hide and seek.” Hannah tells me.

“Ok sweetie, you hide and I’ll count.”

“I’m going to hide in the closet!”

She doesn’t seem to get the fact that I’m not supposed to know where she’s hiding.

“Can you help me mommy, I need help getting into the hamper.”

Her hiding places are so good that she needs help getting into them properly.

In the laundry hamper

Sometimes she can hide herself.

Hiding in her blanket

But then while she’s in her hiding spot, she yells “Mommy! I’m in here Mommy! Mommy, I’m in my bed!” I, of course, pretend I don’t know where she is and go around announcing that I can’t find her.

“Where’s Hannah? I can’t find her anywhere! She’s not in the closet…she’s not under the bed.”

“Mommy, I’m in my bed!”

“THERE YOU ARE! You’re such a good hider!”

Oh, I had no idea you were in your bed….

Sometimes she plays with me and Aaron. Aaron will help her hide while I count.

But she still tells me where she’s going to hide.

“Mommy, Daddy is going to help me hide in the couch!” She tells me excitedly.

This is a favourite spot of hers

Daniel likes to play too.

Daniel finding Hannah

Especially when Hannah hides on Aaron’s and my bed.

Sometimes Mickey gets to play too

She hides in Aaron’s coat.

Where did Hannah go?

And she loves to hide in her stuffed toy bucket. Once we played when Grandma was here and Grandma really had no idea where she was (Grandma is hard of hearing, so she couldn’t hear Hannah’s muffled “I’m in here Grandma!” talking).

Hannah is actually in that bucket.

See, she really is in there

How do your toddlers play hide and seek?

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Avocado, cranberry, and cashew salad with raspberry dressing

20 May

I decided to enter another recipe in the Gourmet Garden blog off/cook off. Couldn’t help myself… I didn’t have time to film me making this one. Well, I would have had time to film it, but not enough to edit it the way I would like.  Oh well, maybe my other video bored you anyway.

This sounds really weird, but it is super tasty. It looks pretty weird too because of the dressing, but that is what makes it super tasty! Seriously, give it a try.

I came up with the dressing because there is no raspberry vinaigrette here. I googled how to make some, but that required raspberry vinegar, and I didn’t have, nor know where to find that either. So I made up my own dressing. And I think it tastes better anyway. I have only ever tried the dressing on this particular salad, and it works quite well together.

Avocado, cranberry, and cashew salad with raspberry dressing

-1 cup shredded washed lettuce. Not iceberg, and nothing peppery, other than that, pretty much any will do. I use either cos (romaine) or hydroponic.

-1 large tomato, cut into 1-2cm peices

-1/4 cup shredded cheese (tasty, cheddar, or monterey jack)

-1 avocado, cut into 2 cm pieces

-1/4 cup craisins

-1/4 cup cashews

-1/4 – 1/2 cup garlic bagel chips (that’s what I use. I don’t make them, I buy them. The garlic ones are best for this dish!)

-1/8tsp dried dill

splash of olive oil

METHOD

Put everything in a bowl and toss. Except for the bagel chips, put those on top at the very end.

Raspberry dressing

-1/4 cup frozen raspberries, thawed or defrosted in the microwave (but NOT hot or warm)

-1 TBSP dijon mustard

-1 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp Gourmet Garden basil

1/8+ tsp Gourmet Garden hot chilli (amount depends on how hot you like stuff)

Salt and pepper to taste

If dressing tastes like it needs a bit more acidity, add a bit of lemon juice. The need really depends on the sweetness of the raspberries and therefore varies.

METHOD

Add all ingredients to a mug or cup and stir. Taste and add more salt/pepper/lemon juice/chilli as desired.  The raspberries will break up and become most of the dressing. This is quite a thick dressing.

Pour dressing on salad and toss/stir to coat and distribute evenly. Yeah, your salad will look reddish-pink and funky. Embrace it! Eat straight away so the avocado doesn’t go brown and the bagel chips soggy.

If you enjoyed reading this, please vote for my blog. All you have to do is click the link below. That’s it… And if you are an email subscriber, clicks from your email don’t count.  If you would like to vote, please go to my blog and vote from there. THANKS!
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Easy smoked salmon and feta quiche

18 May

I’ve decided to participate in the Gourmet Garden Blog off/cook off challenge. What’s that you say? Well, Gourmet Garden sent bloggers who signed up a kit full of different herbs and spices to use in an original recipe. And then of course there are finalists, a cook off, and eventually, a winner. Obviously, want to be the winner. But I’m sure everyone else who entered does too. Sigh.

Anyway, my recipe is smoked salmon and feta quiche. It has sun-dried tomatoes too, but I forgot to say that when I said the recipe name in the video, so I can’t really call it that in writing either. Yes, I’m awesome like that. Sigh. Even my sister in law who doesn’t like quiche likes this quiche. And she’s super picky. Don’t tell her I said that.

This is a good one for making ahead of time too as you can throw it in the oven to warm it up the next day and you’d never know it wasn’t freshly baked just then.

Ok, here is my very first cooking video. It’s a bit dark, but the lighting in our house (ahem, apartment) sucks, and the only time I can make a video without 2 rambunctious kids screaming for my attention is after they go to bed. At night. In the dark. And cold. Sigh.

SMOKED SALMON AND FETA QUICHE

-6 large eggs
-100ml milk (full cream or lite)
-1 cup grated cheese (tasty, cheddar, monterey jack or similar)
-200g feta cut in cubes (greek or danish, not the kind that smells like   sheep. Yes, some does smell like sheep. Smell some, you’ll know what I mean…)
-100-200g smoked salmon, cut up (amount depends on how salmon-ey you want it to taste. I used about 130 grams)
-8 sun-dried tomatoes, cut in quarters and drained on a paper towel (you can use semi-dried too as they are super delicious)
-Zest/rind of ½ a lemon
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 to 1 tsp Gourmet Garden chunky garlic
-1 TBSP Gourmet Garden basil
-1 sheet puff pastry (if you are in the U.S. you can get puff pastry. It was hard to find when I was there, but I eventually found some at Walmart. Here is one you can get in the U.S.)

Method

1. Take puff pastry sheet out of freezer and put it on a baking paper lined pan (quiche pan, deep dish pie pan, or similar, this recipe is very forgiving!) to defrost while you prepare the quiche. Do not take the dividing sheet off, leave it on top of the pastry so it doesn’t dry out while you prepare the quiche. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. That probably should have been it’s own step. Oh well.

2. Crack the 6 eggs into a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork until whites and yolks are incorporated together.

3. Add salt and pepper. Or not. Up to you. You know how you like stuff.

4. Add grated cheese and stir.

5. Add feta and stir. Cube size can vary, depending on how big you want it. I.E. if you really like feta, maybe you want big chunks. Maybe you prefer really small chunks, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s not one giant block.

6. Add salmon and stir.

7. Add garlic, basil, and lemon rind and stir.

8. Take dividing sheet off pastry. Press pastry sheet into dish. Fold corners towards the middle of the pie so they are not sticking up all weird. If you don’t they will burn. You’ve been warned.

9. Pour quiche mixture on top of pastry. If all the chunky bits are in the same area, distribute them as evenly as you can.

10. Put quiche pan on top of a cookie sheet (to make it easier to get in and out of the oven) and put into oven for 45 minutes to an hour until set. Cooking time depends on pan size and your particular oven. Check it after 45 minutes and if it’s still wobbly in the middle, put it back in for another 15.

That’s it! Enjoy! YYYYYYYYUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

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