Our Day On A Plate…

Ok, maybe not the most interesting thing to rabbit (get it? Jessica Rabbit… oh, never mind) on about, but I want to talk about our day on a plate. Now that it is school holidays , I am really devoting a lot of thought into what goes into the little mouths in my house.

There will be no whacky talk of activated almonds here, although I like to think that my kids are pretty healthy… at least when I am watching!

During the week in school term there is nothing too exciting, but it is all tasty and nutritious with enough variety, plus lots of energy for their busy active lives.

Breakfast:

Either some home made muesli (see below), some weetbix or some wholegrain toast, usually with vegemite. They also have a glass of fruit and vegetable juice which I make up in a huge batch on Sunday night.

Recess they have a serving fruit, whether its an apple, orange, banana, a bunch of grapes, a punnet of strawberries, a collection of stone fruits… whatever is in season!

Lunch is a wholegrain sandwich or roll with some kind of protein and salad combination, plus maybe some avocado for some good fat. I also include a snack of some description, this varies hugely depending on what they feel like and what we have in the house, but it usually works out to be something like gluten free popcorn or veggie chips.

Afternoon tea is various crudites, usually carrot and celery sticks but it varies, served with some hummus and tzatiki. They can have some more juice or some cordial as well. If it is a hot summers day I brew some sweet flavoursome iced tea which they usually love. If they are still hungry after this they can have some corn thins or vita wheets with vegemite, but I find it is very rare that they are still hungry. I imagine that will change as they grow though!

Dinner varies, as I have discussed before, but I do try to plan out the weeks worth of meals on the Sunday so that I can be prepared. If I have been working that day we usually have a stir fry or some meat and vegetables, otherwise we will get something fancier. A risotto, for example, is a fiddly meal that is totally worth the effort.

They can have fruit and yoghurt for dinner, but not every night.

On the weekends they are allowed a small bowl of ice cream, but ideally not every weekend. They can also have more timely things for breakfast on the weekend, like eggs or healthy pancakes. Or banana and cottage cheese on toast.

In school holidays they have a pretty similar eating routine, but it is less structured in so far of timing. They are allowed to make their own snacks and choose what they eat, but I find they usually stick to a pretty similar plan… it probably helps that there isn’t much junk in our house, and even then it is out of their reach.

 

Jessica’s Home Made Muesli

serves 8

1 cup of oats

2/3 cup of processed bran (not necessarily All Bran, but it does work well)

1/3 cup of pepitas

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup of dried fruit. I usually buy a mix of it, and I add some dried cranberries for a lovely sweet touch.

Combine in an airtight container and update as you go. I sometimes add some slivered almonds or other kind of nut for some variety.

It is a huge hit… the only problem is that all other muesli seems inferior!

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Birthday Fun

You know what? I think I am converted. Having Maxy Moo’s birthday party in the function room of a pub proved to be a stroke of genius. Well, not genius obviously as it wasn’t my idea but the consequence of our living circumstances. I absolutely LOVE prepping for their parties and planning the food, activities, music, party bags and all the amazing fun, but don’t be surprised if future parties are held at a pub or similar.

Everyone had so much fun, there was lots of yummy (albeit not very healthy) food – although on that note, they actually let us bring in some food of our own, I suppose because we are residents! – music was covered as there was already a band playing some classics, grown ups could go to the bar as they pleased, and there was a great beer garden where the kids could play and have fun in the sun. We were lucky it was a gorgeous sunny day. To be honest it was probably more of an adults party as we didn’t have party games per se, but the littlies all had fun playing together.

So easy and so fun! Of course Ava has her birthday in a months time and we will be back in Sydney by then… who knows, maybe we will be at another pub by then!

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Birthday Bliss

In just a few days my gorgeous, adorable, wonderful, sweet perfect baby boy will be 7 years old. SEVEN!

The mind boggles.

I know it’s a cliche, but I really can’t fathom how time has flown. Where the frick did it all go?!? I would say he is maybe… 4 years old?

Having a birthday so close to Christmas it is really easy to get overlooked. Not by me of course, but in general. We have a few rules to try and make sure this doesn’t happen.

Firstly, we never, ever do combined presents. My birthday is in April and no one would ever combine gifts, so why should we do it just because his birthday is in December? Maybe if it was something super huge that would be worthy of a 2-in-1, otherwise they are well and truly separate.

Secondly, and similarly, we make sure birthday celebrations are totally removed from Christmas ones and there are no cross-overs. We have a kids party and usually get adults together too, even if we are seeing family again the next week. And ABSOLUTELY NO CHRISTMAS FOOD.

Which brings me to my next point.

As you know, we are living in a hotel in Junee, so instead of the usual backyard party we are just hiring the function room at the pub we presently call home. It has a lovely beer garden as well, lots of room for kids to run around and nice places for the big kids to sit and enjoy some booze.

This means I can’t really prepare food for the party, which I normally love doing as the kids and I have so much fun creating a menu and spending a few days together in the kitchen, but I am also kind of glad to be relieved of all the responsibility. I just need to try and work out a way to make sure the kids have fun.

Any suggestions?

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Big Night In

It is Friday night and, at least according to facebook, a lot of my friends are out and about hitting the town. They are making me crazy jealous with all their gorgeous dresses, while I am wearing mega daggy cotton shorts and a supre singlet, but I have to say I don’t envy them going out. I am a bit of homebody and to be honest, I really love staying home on a Friday night.

Tonight, for example, my partner is out at his Christmas party so it is just the kids and I. Tonight is one of those nights where I think “is it really such a big deal if the kids have toast or muesli for dinner? Really??” and of course my answer is NO. Admittedly I have actually gone to a fraction more effort, I have taken some chicken schnitzels out of the freezer – which they LOVE – quickly baked them and made them into toasties.

About as healthy as it is difficult (as in, not at all!) but it keeps everyone happy. Usually I have some home made pasta sauce in the fridge or freezer that is perfect for nights like this, but what can I say? It wasn’t a spaghetti kind of night tonight. I personally had some steamed vegetables, but no surprises here, no one wanted to trade.

We all had a delicious smoothie with banana, berries and almond milk for desert. Yum.

Anyway, being a Friday night near the end of the school year I am not really bothered by my kids staying up late. And being Christmas time and all I have set them up with a cute Christmas DVD – Jingle All The Way with none other than Arnie – for them to watch.

So, as far as I am concerned, I am home alone. Love it.

So what does one do with such rare freedom? Well, tonight I have watched a whole heap of trashy tv – so trashy I dare not tell you what – given myself a Gold Collagen Facial and enjoyed some Lindt Sea Salt chocolate.

Heaven.

I hope I am not meant to pick my partner up because I am completely blissed out here.

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

I nearly freaked out when I saw the date yesterday. Not because there is anything particularly relevant about December 4, but because it means that it is just THREE WEEKS until Christmas.

Cue a mad panic and general state of freaking out over where the hell the year has gone before focussing on the very pressing issue of getting my Christmas plans organised.

Admittedly this is mostly covering gifts. We try to buy our kids one or two big items each, depending on what they want, plus lots of smaller items. We also do a Kris Kringle with my partners family which makes it easier, and my extended family is quite small, so present buying is actually not hugely stressful.

This year, however, we are hosting our first every Christmas as we will JUST be in our new house by then. I am starting to regret this plan as it means we will move house and then a few days later have all our extended family there, which means we can’t have boxes lying around, or furniture not assembled correctly, or dust building up everywhere.

I have already worked out a pretty good Christmas menu, which is good. I am still working on it, so who knows what we will end up doing.

On the big day we will have myself, my partner and our kids obviously, along with his parents, two sisters, brother-in-law, aunty and uncle and two cousins, as well as my parents and grandparents, which is all up 19 people. There are a range of dietary requirements including vegetarians and gluten free, so hopefully I can satisfy everyone.

At this stage, the menu is looking something like this:

Mixed nuts, a healthy unroasted unsalted “super food” trail mix, home made rum balls and a cheese platter with all the extras for grazing when everyone arrives. I am also going to make a delicious punch, with an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version. I am working on a few recipes for this one, I don’t know which one I will use. I am thinking refreshing is the key!

Then we will have the following:

– Roast chicken with pear, pistachio and cranberry gluten free stuffing

– Green salad with figs and pomegranate

– Cinnamon roasted sweet potato (served warm as delicious chips)

– Zucchini noodles with green peas, baby spinach and Persian feta

– Roast cinnamon pumpkin salad with feta and walnuts

– Individual mini no-bake Christmas puddings with home-made vanilla custard ice-cream,  brandy cream and/or mango custard.

– Eggnog (not really appropriate for a summer Christmas, but I can’t resist)

More to come… luckily I still have three weeks to lock my plans it!

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“What’s for Dinner, Mum?”

I must get asked this question at least once every day. Usually more, if we are being honest.

I usually respond with “what would you like?”, and see if we can work with that, rather than just whipping up whatever is easiest. Although this in itself presents a problem. My partner, being a young red-blooded male, would happily eat a steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My daughter must have been mediterranean in a past life as she loves feta, olives, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and anything that incorporates these flavours. My son’s favourite food is bolognaise, either beef or lentil, and any kind of lasagne. I think he just likes pasta.

So if I were to make everyone what they wanted for dinner each night, I would probably never leave the kitchen. Luckily no one is hugely fussy so we can do a bit of rotation of everyones tastes.

I prefer not to eat much meat, which can present a problem as well. I usually make a batch of soup or something that I eat for dinner if everyone else is having something meat heavy. The good thing is that it looks completely unappetising, usually a bowl of grey, green or brown goo, so no one is jealous of my dinner or interested in trading.

Or I make a big salad with lots of veggies in it which is a good side to a steak and the kids can have sausages, and I can just have salad.

A good mild veggie curry is usually a hit for everyone, I usually forgo the rice to keep it relatively light, and the others can have whatever they like. Similar with a vegetarian curry. I make it so hearty that no one even notices the meat missing, such as jam-packed with veggies and legumes.

HOWEVER

Since I am presently calling a pub home, I am far more limited in my cooking abilities. There is no stove or oven here, but there is a microave I have set up an electric grill and wok, so we are living off grilled chicken, steaks and fish, with salads and microwaved steamed veggies as sides. Either that or stir fries. Stir fries are probably MY favourite food, so that is a nice change for me!

At first I freaked out about the limited cooking amenities and had horrible visions of eating out in the pub every. single. night, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to still prepare tasty and nutritious food that satisfies the whole family.

Maybe I don’t need my extensive range of kitchen appliances that are presently in storage??

Oh, who am I kidding, I FREAKING love my appliances!!

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Let’s start at the very beginning…

… what a very good place to start!

So what the hell is this?

Well I am sitting here in the Junee Hotel which is about as close as I have to a home at the moment, and thought what better thing to do to pass the time than to share my thoughts.

And yes, domestic goddess is completely ironic to me considering my present surroundings. So what’s the go with the hotel life, and is it really as glamorous as it sounds?

The answer to the second part of that question is a resounding NO!

Junee Hotel is nice enough but the Hilton it is not. It is a done up pub that claims to be a Bed & Breakfast, and it is also my new home.

Let me explain. We moved here earlier in the year for a minimum six months. We being my partner, myself and our two children. We moved here for his work, and honestly as soon as the six month mark was reached i became clear to all that the contract would not be extended. Don’t get me wrong, my partner is fabulous as what he does and he was a great asset to the team, but life in Junee wasn’t for us. It is a lovely town, we had a much nicer house than anywhere we have ever lived in Sydney, the local school was great and the kids made lots of friends. I enjoyed working part time as an accountant for the local council and came to really find myself falling very easily into the country groove. I am, after all, a country girl at heart.

The reality was that we missed our family and friends and we didn’t like feeling so isolated. So we were excited that we would soon be back in Sydney, where everyone we love is a mere stones throw away.

However, gotta love timing, our lease finished before M’s contract. We discussed extending it a few weeks, but turns out the owner was planning to do some renovations over Christmas to sell it in the New Year and she was keen to get us out.

So we had to stay in Junee for M’s work and for the remainder of the kids schooling. But we had nowhere to live. I never thought I would be homeless!

So what else is there to do, but shack up in the local hotel. We have rented two adjoining rooms, one for us one for the kids, and will be living here for 3 weeks in total. The kids seem to love it. I would love it more if we had a gym, a pool, a salon and buffet breakfast everyday, but whatever.

So that’s my life…

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