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{Guest Post} Simple Ways to Improve Your Photography with Masha Zaric

I met Masha towards the end of last year over a meal and to throw some ideas together on how to improve my food photography now that I had a proper camera after several years of doing all my blog photography on the iPhone. The conversation that ensued was hardly about photography though, as we traded notes about each other’s lives, experiences in the blogging world, family and future plans. A few hours later, I was confident I had a new friend! Masha has a warm and endearing character about her which is hard to ignore and you can see that in her striking work as a lifestyle photographer and more recently her new business Masha Zaric – Create Healthy Habits. It is a pleasure to have Masha over on the blog today sharing some simple tips on improving our photography. Thanks Masha and over to you!

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6 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY

1. FIND THE GOOD LIGHT IN YOUR HOUSE

So many mums love taking photos outdoors, but most of the magic happens on a day-to-day basis when you are indoors. Take some time to walk around your house and take note (writing it down is best) of where the light is the best at certain times of the day. You are looking for soft but good amount of light that comes in through the window. Try and avoid using lights as they make your subject look quite yellow. It can also create shadows where you don’t want. You may be surprised at what times of day you get good lighting. I know that at the front of my house is best in the morning and the back of my house is best in the afternoon.

 2. EVEN LIGHTING ON YOUR SUBJECT

Make sure that the light that is on your subjects face is always even. Try and avoid dabbled light and harsh shadows. This way you will get good even skin tones across their face and avoid any detail being lost. It also can really change the look of an image.

 3. CLEAR THE CLUTTER

 It’s a fairly obvious statement but a good one to point out. You may have mess around, who doesn’t with kids right? But try to scan the room when you look through the frame to compose your image and just make sure that there isn’t anything that will take the attention away from the story you are trying to tell in the image. You don’t need to clean up all the time, just move it out of the shot.

 4. STAY LEVEL WITH YOUR SUBJECT

Try and get down to your subjects level when taking their photo. It can really change an image from a snapshot to a portrait very easily. You will get their engagement easier and it will also give the viewer more of a perspective from their world. Kids see things differently to us and if you want to capture their world, you need to be seeing what they are seeing. In saying this, don’t be afraid to experiment with taking photos from different angles. Try shooting from above sometimes to see what they are looking at or playing with. One of my favourite shooting angles :)

 5. SHOOTING OUTSIDE

When selecting best time of day to shoot outdoors, either pick an overcast day (the clouds are a diffuser from the sun) or around 1.5 to 2 hours before sunset. You can get some beautiful results in the evening with the right backlighting. If you want to try shooting in the morning, I would start around 30-60 minutes after sunrise. It really depends on your location and how much the light is diffused by trees etc.

 6. CRITIQUE YOUR OWN WORK OR GET SOMEBODY ELSE TO

This is the best way to improve your photography and learn from your mistakes. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I like about this photo?
  • Is the lighting exactly the way that I wanted it to be?
  • Do I find the composition interesting?
  • What could be improved for next time?
  • How is the image overall exposed?
  • Is the image in focus in the areas that I want it to be?

Answering these questions will help you learn and improve from each image you take and analyse. Sometimes getting somebody else to look at it can help to give you feedback on things that you might not have noticed before as you are so close to the subject.

I hope this helps you in your journey to improving your photography skills. The more you photograph, the better you will become. Even if it is just with your phone for the moments where you haven’t got your camera.

 Some fantastic tips there from Masha, I couldn’t agree more with the point on keeping the composition area clutter free. This is highly applicable even to my food photography.

Are you are photography nut like myself , have acquired an SLR and have always been excited about using it but have ended up always keeping it in auto mode as you wouldn’t have a clue how to use it otherwise? The manual looks overwhelming or needs downloading and who seriously has the time for that when they have kids? Masha Zaric is a Canberra based lifestyle photographer that has been conducting workshops for over a year helping mums to take their digital SLRs off auto and use them in manual mode. Learning everything from understanding the theory behind using your camera with full control and topics such as understanding natural light and post production.

workshop

Join Masha at one of her workshops in April or May 2014! Pick what level suits your skills and book yourself a seat! http://www.mashazaricphotography.com/workshops/

 And here’s the smoking gun! All Mumchic readers will get 15% off the workshop price if you book before next week, all you need to do is email Masha at masha@mashazaric.com instead of booking directly through the website and mention that you came along from Mumchic and she will be more than happy to assist you.

You can find more of Masha’s work at the following websites :

Workshop Video : http://www.vimeo.com/83479744

Photography - www.mashazaricphotography.com

Create Healthy Habits - www.mashazaric.com

Have a beautiful weekend!

Sabeen x

 

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turmeric powder haldi milk

Winter Antidotes – Hot Turmeric Milk Drink

Turmeric aka haldi in the Asian sub continent is a major player in curry recipes but this rich mustard colored spice packs much more power than just a simple flavouring or herb. It is derived from the Curcuma longa plant which has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and the spice has been used in the Indian and Chinese cultures for its medicinal and healing properties for a long time. The benefits of using turmeric in our everyday life are  profound and long lasting such as;

  • Alzheimer’s remedy and prevention
  • Anti Cancer Properties
  • Anti Inflammatory especially beneficial to those with arthritis
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Liver detox and lowers the risk of liver disease
  • Relieves gastro intestinal issues by keeping bacteria at pay
  • Skin enhancer , known to assist with eczema
  • Boosts weight loss
  • Heals wounds and is anti bacterial
  • Fights the common flu, colds and cough and builds immunity

Convinced you need to incorporate turmeric into your daily diet? I thought so!

With winter around the corner, we need all our defences working and I cannot think of a better daily antidote than the Turmeric Milk Drink or haldi ka doodh recipe I am about to share with you. You will find this drink is most common in Indian/Pakistani homes especially over the winter months and is much loved for its medicinal elements , it is especially helpful to keep those flu symptoms, coughs and colds in check.

turmeric milk haldi ka doodh recipe

Haldi Milk

Serves 2

  • 2 cups milk ( milk alternatives such as almond, soy or rice milk may be used)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 2-3 peppercorns lightly crushed
  • 2 green cardamoms lightly crushed
  • 1 small piece of ginger grated OR 1 tsp of dried powdered ginger
  • Sugar/honey as per taste
  • Saffron to sprinkle (optional)

Next :

  • Add all the ingredients except Sugar and saffron to a thick based saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil , add a teaspoon of sugar {or as preferred} and let the milk simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Strain and serve hot.

Make this a part of your daily diet and especially at the onset of a flu/cold. Here’s to staying healthy this winter :)

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avocado mango smoothie

{Giveaway} Avocado? In a green smoothie? Yes indeed! And a very special Swish Glasses giveaway.

{This is not a sponsored post. However, product was received for review and photography purposes. All opinions are personal}           

I make no qualms about the fact that I am a lover of the increasingly popular green smoothie. Been there, done that tried the diet shakes and the plastic tasting soups, I could never latch on simply because I am a foodie, I need my food to have flavour and texture. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are a dieter and a firm believer of weight loss shakes, that’s great and I am not here to judge you in any way but I suppose it’s a lifestyle choice, the energy boost and vitality I feel after having a glass of green smoothie is quite unparalleled let alone the versatility and variety of preparations. All summer, we have been giving our little blender a good old run , it is economical, healthier and the boys have taken to it so much that very often they will discuss the possible ingredients for that afternoon’s smoothie on the way home from school. Now that’s what you call a win!

avocado mango smoothie 2

Recently, when our friends at Kitchenware Direct asked me to showcase a range of  their uber stylish Swish Plastic glasses perhaps with a healthy drink option , I knew just the recipe and it was one that I have been planning on sharing for a while. The timing for this is perfect as we see out the tail end of the mango season, I might just inspire you to freeze a few batches of mangoes to use for smoothies over the winter months!  Coming back to these elegant Swish Glasses which by the way are perfect for outdoor entertaining – tried and tested! , they deserve a drink that is smooth, easy on the eye and in every way swish. Inspired by a local juice bar here in Canberra, I developed the recipe for what I like to call “Avocado Delight”, and may I say, you will be pleasantly delighted!

avocado mango smoothie

Avocado Delight

  • 2 cups ice
  • ½ Avocado
  • ½ Mango                 
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • Handful Kale leaves
  • Juice of ½ a lime

Next:

  • Blend until smooth, add a little water to suit preferred consistency.
  • Drink or serve immediately.

Variation:  a couple of dates soaked in warm water can also be added to enhance sweetness.

 

A bit about Swish.

Swish Plastic are an Australian based company offering the very best polycarbonate glasses on the market. Their glasses look and feel like the real thing, however they are virtually unbreakable, shatterproof and dishwasher safe. Swish Plastic glasses are ideal for around the pool, boats, BBQs and of course a delicious cocktail or two. To view the full range of Swish Plastic glasses click here.

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for ! Ready?

{Swish Plastic Glasses Giveaway – Closed}

Swish plastic giveaway

 

{WINNER}

A massive thank you to everyone who participated, trust me this was hard! For an answer that may involve serious yumminess, the prize goes to…drum roll please!

Gemma Westcott Blair - Congratulations!

Please make contact by midnight Tuesday 18th March’14 with your address on mumschic@gmail.com. 

Cheers !

 

Teaming up with the folks at Kitchenware Direct and Swish Plastic glasses, we are giving away a boxed set of four champagne glasses and two bonus hi-ball tumblers.

  1. To enter to win, leave a comment to tell us the strangest ingredient you have ever put in a smoothie, green or otherwise.
  2. If you are not already there, join our Facebook page.
  3. Share this post+giveaway publicly on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or wherever you socially hang out and leave us a comment to let us know you have.

 

T&Cs

  • all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
  • open to Australians only
  • ONE winner will be chosen
  • entries will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 12th 2014
  • winners will be announced on Thursday March 13th 2014
  • this is a game of imagination and creativity
  • judge’s decision is final
  • prizes will be sent by a third party

 

Good Luck!

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nepalese spinach mustard greens

Sauteed Spinach Nepalese Style

Nepal is a foodie’s paradise and a photographer’s dream with it’s breath taking and panoramic visuals of the Himalayas and if that’s not enough to sway you, the people are simple, friendly and warm.

Nepalese are known for their popular meal “Daal Bhat” which usually consists of a platter of several dishes including a bowl of “daal” (lentil curry) , vegetable curries or meat if that’s your preference and a staple of sauteed spinach served with generous proportions of rice and complimented with a side of pickles and papadams.

nepalese daal bhaat set

Nepalese Daal Bhaat – simple and scrumptious!

More on Nepal later but for today, I am sharing with you the traditional way of preparing Nepalese sauteed spinach which has become a family favourite since I started making it a couple of weeks ago. The fact that it is such a simple and easy dish to prepare makes you want to cook it everyday particularly because the health benefits are extremely high.

nepalese spinach mustard greens

Sauteed Spinach Nepalese Style

  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 bunch mustard greens washed and roughly chopped ( now don’t get disappointed if you can’t find mustard greens – you can just as easily use English Spinach, baby spinach and choysum for variation )
  • salt per taste

Next :

  • Heat the mustard oil in a wide wok.
  • Add the cumin seeds lightly sauteeing until fragrant taking care not to burn them.
  • Add the garlic cloves and turmeric powder, sautee for a few minutes until the garlic is translucent.
  • Add chopped greens and stir fry until the leaves wilt , do not add water as the greens tend to release their own water.
  • Cover and let steam for about 2 minutes but don’t over cook.
  • Add salt per taste, mix well and remove from heating.
  • Serve with rice and pickles.

Bon Apetit Come back and tell me how you like this truly wholesome and delicious Nepalese dish :)

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DSC_0052_01

5 Of The Best Days Of My Life – Kicking The Mid Life Crisis In The Butt

They say 35 is when you hit mid life crisis. If I am to go by how I was feeling just before the end of 2013, I would actually believe that but come 2014 , I decided to throw caution to the wind and kick this whole mid life crisis thing in the butt. Took off on a break with my boys to the stunning Sapphire Coast – Beautiful azure skies,breathtaking visuals, lovely weather, lazy summer days at the beach, delicious ice creams, walks by the lake and talking to our heart’s content and who better to share it with than my beautiful sons – 5 of the best days of my life.

Bring on 35, I am ready for you. Sharing a few  of my favourite shots today from the trip :) You can see I’ve been putting that camera to good use!

Tell me about a time when you have thrown caution to the wind?

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cinnamon donut recipe

Cinnamon Donuts – The Cheat’s Way

Fab Son 2 or Mr.8 as he popularly known these days was invited the other week to an end of session party for a program he attended at school. He was asked to bring a friend to the party along with a plate of food to share. So my cheeky Mr.8 comes home and tells me . ” Mum , can you make cinnamon donuts, my friend C said he loves cinnamon donuts!”  Riggght!  We have a bit of a fix here because I have never made donuts in my life but being the confidence player that I am and trying to suss out the situation, I say “Ohhh ofcourse but how did you know I could make cinnamon donuts? “

Mr8 beams his beautiful smile at me : “Mum , you can make anything!”

Yes indeed , a naaaawwwww moment. Now whether I knew how to make cinnamon donuts or not didn’t matter , neither did the fact that I would probably be cooking away much after the kids go to bed on a week night, my son had promised his friend cinnamon donuts, there would be cinnamon donuts and thus began my search for a recipe. Something healthier than the traditional deep fried donuts we know and simple to put together. There were a few great suggestions on our Facebook page (quick follow us there now if you don’t already!) And it wasn’t long before I found this one from The Tasty Kitchen and my they turned out well ! They make a great lunchbox treat with a bit of oomph and with the entertaining season now upon us , these are great little bite sized yummies to have as part of your spread.

cinnamon donut recipes

Cinnamon Donuts – The Cheat’s Way

Adapted from The Tasty Kitchen

Serves 12

You will need :

  • 1-¾ cup Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • ⅓ cups Oil
  • ¾ cups White Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ¾ cups Milk

Topping :

  • ¼ cups Butter
  • ⅓ cups White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

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Preparation :

  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine.
  • Grease and prepare a 24 hole muffin tray.
  • Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the donut mixture per muffin hole.
  • Bake at 180 c degrees for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bowl. Combine the white sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl.
  • Shake muffins out while still hot. Dip muffins in butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Let cool.

The result – Yum.

P.S to complete the story , Mr8′s review was ” Mummy these are awesome but why don’t they look like donuts” and “Even the teachers wanted the recipe!”

Now that’s what you call a roaring sucess :)

Have you ever made donuts ? Do you love donuts ?

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mango lassi recipe

{Summer Drink Series} Refreshing Mango Lassi

We have finally seen a hint of summer this week here in Canberra with a couple of days where we saw the high 20s. While I am not a huge fan of the summer heat, Spring and Autumn being an absolute favorite, summer does mean longer days , time spent outdoors in the sun, tending to the plants and entertaining friends and family. Summer also heralds the arrival of some gorgeous summer fruits , sweet melons , luscious berries and the king of all fruits, Mangoes. We love mangoes here at the HQ! Mango smoothies, mango salad, cut mangoes, mango trifles, mango kulfi, mango icecream and the regular house favourite, mango lassi. Cool, refreshing mango lassi is easy to put together with most ingredients readily available at home and is a perfect antidote for a hot summer’s day.

mango lassi

Refreshing Mango Lassi

You will need :

  • 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust as required)
  • 2 cups ripe mangoes peeled and roughly chopped {kensington pride  are a particularly good variety if you are in Australia}
  • 2 8-10 cardamom seeds (optional) or a pinch of cardamom powder*
  • 1/2 cup of chilled milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2-3 cups crushed ice
  • 2-3 mint leaves chopped

Next :

  • Blend the cardamom seeds or powder, mangoes, sugar, milk and yogurt – check the sugar and balance as per taste.
  • Add ice and blend again until you have a thickish frappe like consistency.
  • Serve with a light garnish of fresh mint leaves.

~Notes~

Feel free to omit the cardamom powder if you don’t quite like the taste, Mr 9 is not a fan of cardamom seeds so I often make a separate lassi batch for him but personally, I love the flavour  of cardamoms and it brings great health benefits, some fantastic information can be found here. I often chew on cardamoms after dinner as a fresh mint, also works great as a digestive.

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pakistani mince kebab recipe

Spicy Mince Kebabs { Pakistani Style Spiced Meatballs }

These addictive Pakistani style meat balls are going up tonight due to popular demand. They are super easy, tender , juicy, can be made ahead and they taste divine so really there’s nothing stopping you ! I served them at home this weekend and they were gone within the first ten minutes of dinner being served – lucky I got some shots in ! A big thank you to my beautiful mother for passing this recipe on to me, love you mum.

 

spicy pakistani kebab recipe

Spicy Mince Kebabs { Pakistani Style Spiced Meatballs }

Makes about 30 kebabs

You will need :

  • 1/2 kilo minced beef washed and drained
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 full bulb garlic , peeled and finely chopped
  • 5-6 green chillies finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch coriander finely chopped
  • handful of mint leaves finely chopped
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • Salt per taste
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 3/4 cup millet flour or 1 cup wheat flour 
  • 1 day old slice of bread soaked in water – squeeze out excess water

 

Next :

  • Using a mortar and pestle, gently crush the coriander and cumin seeds.
  • Knead all the ingredients together , including the soaked bread and marinate for atleast 2 hours
  • Heat oil in a wok for shallow frying
  • Shape the kebabs into equal meatball sized kebabs and deep fry until they turn a rich golden brown shade.
  • Serve with tomato sauce or a tamarind chutney. 

**Note: The kebab mixture can be made a couple of days ahead and may be stored in the fridge for upto 2-3 days

Happy Cooking! Don’t forget to come back and review this recipe , we love to hear about your culinary experiences :)

 

 

 

 

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Tangy Red Lentil Curry {Khatti Masoor Ki Daal}

Oh Hi!! Looks like you and I have a ton of catching up to do and we will certainly get to that over the next few weeks, that I promise. For now, here is a long requested recipe for a curry that is a daily staple in many Indian/Pakistani homes. Daal or lentil curry has many variations and this is just one of my favourite ones , lets get you started !

 

Khatti Daal

 

Ignore bad photo :)

 

Tangy Red Lentil Curry {Khatti Masoor Ki Daal}

  • 1 cup red lentils (masoor ki daal)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tomato quartered
  • 4-5 green chillies (or as per taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp seedless tamarind concentrate/paste

Tempering :

  • 8-10 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4-5 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander finely chopped

Method :

  • Place the lentils in a saucepan or a stockpot.
  • Wash and drain the lentils in a few changes of water. Add 3-4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Remove the scum off the surface.
  • Add tumeric, onions, tomatoes, salt, green chillies and let the mixture simmer for about 40 minutes until the lentils are soft or mushy.
  • Pour the contents of the stock pot into a blender and blend until smooth adding water if necessary to acquire a soup like consistency. ( you can use a stab blender is available)
  • Pour the curry back into the stock pot and add the tamarind paste.
  • Keep the curry simmering.
  • In a separate fry pan , heat 3-4 tbsp oil
  • Add curry leaves, dried red chillies, mustard, cumin seeds and chopped garlic cloves.
  • Fry the ingredients until they splatter and release a fragrance making sure that the garlic does not get burnt.
  • Pour this into the simmering curry and cover.
  • Add in chopped coriander.
  • Adjust for salt and thickness.

Serving Tips :

Serve with steamed basmati rice and crusty saigon bread rolls, pickle or green chutney.

 Bon Apetit folks, I will be back later this week with more. Have a lovely week ahead, may it bring you peace, happiness and success in all you do.

Chat soon x

P.S if you try this recipe , please do report back ! Also, I apologise for the very ordinary pictures, unfortunately I never got a decent shot on this one but don’t let that deter you. It tastes scrumptious !!!

 

 

 

 

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strawberry jam

Jam Making Debut – Simple Strawberry Jam

A couple of weeks ago, I made my debut in to the world of jam making – I have made chutneys , pickles , some preserves in the past but never jam as such, making jams was always mum’s thing. There is a lot of time, love and patience required with jam making and it’s certainly not something you do on a day when you are time poor but give the process it’s due and you will end up with a jam so delicious, you might consider a career in jam making ….okay that was an exaggeration but yes it did leave me wanting to experiment more which is always a good sign right? Also, because I made SO much jam, I ended up giving it away to friends and work colleagues who came back with rave reviews – which obviously makes all the effort worthwhile. The pictures I might add don’t do justice to the actual colour of the jam , lets just blame poor photography and bad lighting for that one.

I had a few other observations which I will share with you in the notes below which might help you along the way if this is your first attempt at jam making. If you are veteran, I would love you to leave some feedback/tips in the comments below !

Alright my dear jam making enthusiasts, shall we get started?

strawberry jam 1

Simple Strawberry Jam

You will need :

  • 2 kilos strawberries washed, hulled and chopped into chunks
  • 1.75 kilos brown sugar
  • lots of jars (sterilized in a water bath)
  • a plate (leave in the freezer)
  • 1 x 50g sachets of pectin or jam setta (while the recipe doesn’t call for pectin – be safe and have them at hand just in case the jam needs rescuing)

Next :

  • Start by placing a small plate/saucer in the freezer (This is used to test the setting point of of the jam)
  • Place the cut up strawberries and sugar in a large pot/saucepan ( allow enough room in the pot for you to be able to stir with ease and also for the mixture to bubble up without spilling over)
  • Turn the stove on to a medium high and bring the mixture to a boil, skimming off the surface scum if needed.
  • Boil the mixture for about 12-15 minutes
  • This is the point where you will test the jam for gelling. Take the plate in the freezer and drop a small spoon of jam on to the plate, draw a line with your finger through the dollop , if the jam has gelled, the line will not come back together, if liquid comes back together over the line, that means  the jam isn’t ready yet.
  • Test again at 10 minute intervals until the jam reaches gelled consistency.
  • Can in jars or use sterilised bottles for storage or giving away.

Jam Rescue Notes

~Sometimes overheating causes the natural pectin present in strawberries to lose its potency which is why your jam may not be setting. Don’t give up just yet, bring the jam to a boil , add 50 grams of pectin or jam setta, boil for another 3-4 minutes and turn off heat. This will rescue your jam in no time!

~Many jam makers recommend crushing the fruit with a potato masher prior to adding sugar which allows more flavour and natural pectin to release. Although I didn’t do this in my debut attempt, I will be trying it next time.

~Most importantly – start small. The recipe seemed so simple and effortless when my mum initially shared it with me that I went and bought 4 kilos of strawberries ( they were down to 99c/250grms after all!) thinking this was going to be easy peasy! It is not trust me especially not when it’s a first attempt ! The great part is there were many beneficiaries of what turned out to be really good jam but in retrospect I wish I had been less ambitious. ( This recipe has therefore been scaled back)

Don’t fret if it doesn’t work out or the jam is too runny, try using some of the above mentioned rescue steps.

Good Luck!

Do you make your own jam ? Have you ever had a jam making disaster? How did you salvage it?

 

 

 

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Sriracha Glazed Chicken

Sriracha Glazed Chicken – Baked Perfection

I have discovered a new Monday night dinner delight! Minimal preparation required that suits our rather busy weeknight schedule, this Sriracha Glazed Chicken recipe is sure to impress, even the little ones were seen licking their fingers clean.

Sriracha glazed chicken

Sriracha Glazed Chicken

Adapted from Martha Stewart 

Serves 3-4

You will need :

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce {or other good chilli sauce} – add more if you enjoy a bit of heat
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tsp teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3tsp teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 kilo chicken wingettes, boneless chicken pieces or drumsticks*

Next : 

  • In a glass baking dish, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, Sriracha sauce, sugar, ginger, and sesame oil. Add chicken and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • Preheat oven to 240 C. Bake until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens  to a glaze – About 30 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through the cooking time and basting as you go.
  • Turn on grill 5 minutes before the chicken is fully done , this is a great way to get that charred barbecued look.

Notes :

*If using drumsticks, cut two slits on either side of each drumstick, this allows better marination as well as cooking.

Serve with steamed rice and a serve of stir fried vegetables.

Serve with Sriracha sauce on the side for those who would like an extra kick.

Enjoy!

What is your favourite chicken marinade?

 

 

 

 

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back to school 2013

Back To School 2013 – North America/Canada Edition

Last week a friend and reader currently based in Canada wrote in asking for advice on some Back To School basics to help with her daughter who starts Year 1 this year. We all know how starting school can be quite daunting and overwhelming for parents and children alike especially the first year and  some guidance, no matter how little is always appreciated. While I could probably share a lot of back to school tips from an Australian perspective, I felt I needed to bring the expert in , someone who was more aware of the US/Canadian school standards. I contacted my very special childhood friend and partner in crime , Huma Khan. Now a super organised working mother of three girls and very much on top of her game, I asked Huma to come on board for this post which  she I mean we could collaboratively write together -Huma will take you through some of the essentials of Back To School like stationery , clothing, budget buys and planning ahead. I will step in down the track to help with planning lunches/snacks.

A massive Thank you to you Huma for coming on board with this , I am sure your insights will be very valuable to parents everywhere especially those for whom this is a first.

Before we even get into the nitty gritties, lets just highlight how important it is to plan ahead when it comes to keep up with school/extra curriculars. Here are a few ideas to get you started :

  • Put up a calendar on your fridge or other visible place, mark out all the important dates/extrac curriculars/sports commitments /assignments due(for the older ones) as they come up via notes/emails from school or other groups.  If a calendar does not work for you, use something more savvy like setting reminders on your phone or a diary that stays in your handbag to have a quick overview of upcoming events. There are some great smart phone apps that help with staying organised such as Evernote. You could also sync your google calendar with your phone and set up up notes and reminders for follow ups.
  • Ask your school if you are able to receive the weekly newsletter on email.
  • Invest a little time in preparing lunches and clothes the night before ( for me personallly, I like to get as much d0ne as possible while I am cooking dinner ) - it will save you the hassle of trying to do everything in the morning. Make leaving the house in the morning as pleasant and stress free as poossible.

Now, lets get you organised !

 School supplies 

Follow the list for supplies provided by the school,which generally includes:

  1.  HB pencils no 2
  2. Exercise books
  3. Sharper
  4. Eraser
  5. Pencil case.
  6. Crayons pack of 24 ( atleast  2 packs of 24 )
  7. Large freezer bags
  8. Tissue box.
  9. Glue sticks. ( atleast 3 or 4 )
  10. Rounded tip scissors .
  11. Disposable plastic spoons.
  12. Duo tank folders at least 6. 
  13. School bag /lunch bag .
  14. Small size hand sanitizer gel.

School Clothing

 Schools just like most government buildings are scent free zones.
Tide free to wash school clothing is recommended.

  • Yoga/gym pants. (Old Navy sells some very comfortable Yoga /gym pants )
  • Comfortable jeans (Children’s Place sells very comfortable jeans for little ones )
  • Cotton sock at least 6 pair.
  • T-shirts (short sleeves for gym).
  • T-shirts (longer sleeves for winter).
  • Sneakers. 2 pairs one for indoor and on for out on the field/swings
  • Hoodies/thin jackets. (labeled with the childs name )
  • Hair ties Goodiess Ouchless brand works best … long hair should be tied up for child’s comfort and to avoid lice .
  • Wipes for personal use of the child for washroom etc …small travel size wipes are easily available at Walmart.
    tissues packs .
  • A complete change of clothing including undies, socks etc in case of accidents.(put them in a large zip lock baggie and leave it in the child/s locker)

 

School Clothing for cooler weather

  1. Snow boots
  2. Hat and mitts /gloves (fleece is warmer then wool…as it acts like a wind barrier between the skin and the cold ..cold air…Brrrr).
  3. Snow pants
  4. A warm winter jacket


Important! Try to label as many items as you can and braceyour self to go hunting for those school items because just a heads up they will get lost.

Lunch Box Top Tips.

balanced lunchbox

 

image credit

 Lunch Box Top Tips

Providing healthy, balanced meals during school hours is a very important part of a child’s school journey. Having the right nutrition through the day keeps them energised and replenished to keep those little bodies and brains ticking away.

Keep in mind the school allergy policy - Peanut products are not allowed on school premises because of severe peanut allergies . 

  1. Chicken nuggets baked ( put them in a thermos food jar, heat the jar first by adding boiling water to it and after a couple of minutes pour the water out in the  sink, this keeps the inside nice and hot and  nuggets warm till lunch time.
  2. Cheese sandwiches
  3. Egg and mayo sandwiches
  4. Noodles/spaghetti 
  5. Cold pasta
  6. Salad , hummus and cheese wraps
  7. Fried Rice
  8. Mini pizzas with simple toppings like cheese/sauce or cheese/chicken/pineapple
  9. Jam and butter sandwiches.
  10. Subs with shaved chicken, lettuce, mayo…etc..prepare a night before, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the fridge till the next morning !!
  11. Savoury muffins (cheese with corn or other favourite combinations)

Note: Thermos food jars are fantastic to keep foods warm for your little ones and now they are available in various different child approved designs. 

Snack Options

  1. Cut up fruit in a ziplock bag with a ice pack on the side to keep them cool.Popular fruits are strawberries, grapes, cut apples, bananas. You could even do up fruit salad in a container.
  2. Cut up vegetable sticks , carrots, cucumbers and celery work very well with dip in a small container .
  3. Home made pancakes/pikelets with jam
  4. Kid size flavoured yogurt/yogurt tubes frozen overnight stay nice and cool in the lunchbox 
  5. Cheese and cracker snacks
  6. Rice crackers with dip
  7. Cream Cheese triangles/cheese slices
  8. Noodle Snacks (Dried)
  9. Home baked treats (muffins, cupcakes, brownies – I usually like to mass bake on a Sunday – most of these items keep well in a sealed container )
  10. Custard
  11. Juice packs
  12. And most importantly, WATER – ensure that they have a clean, labelled water bottle.


Note : It is nice take them lunch once in a while, perhaps to their favourite place –  after all the are still little and just started school and seeing mom provides reassurance and a little treat once in a while never hurt any kid.

And that is it folks ,  we hope that this special North America/Canada edition of Back To School  for 2013 has been helpful to some of you.

We wish you and your little ones all the very best for new school year!

Do you have a special back to school tip to share with our readers and families who are starting their big school journey this year? We would love you to share in the comments below!

 

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Burmese egg curry 1

When Life Gives You Eggs…

Obviously you make Burmese Egg Curry !

So I buy free range eggs every week from a lovely lady at work. They have their own farm and delicious, top end eggs at $4.00/dozen is an absolute steal!

Usually, a case lasts us close to a week with weekend breakfasts and Sunday baking for the week ahead. But of late, I’ve had an influx of eggs , I had 3 unused cases by last Friday , that’s a lot of eggs for 3 people! Then  I played a good friend and shared a case with a girlfriend leaving us with still plenty of eggs to go around and more to come this week.

burmese egg curry

When Life Gives You Eggs…..

With the baking done and out of the way for this week, I thought I’d try my hand at one of my all time favourites from the Burmese Curry Place here in Canberra – Their divine egg curry! Eggs are hard boiled, peeled and then fried in medium hot oil to give them a blistered, crusty outer texture. The eggs are then added to a spiced tomato and onion based gravy while chilli lends the dish a balanced heat.

If you have tried the Burmese Chicken Curry featured on the blog earlier, you will know of my love ( read: obsession )with Burmese cuisine and my recent attempts at bringing the flavours to our dining table. Read more here

When I served this curry up to a group of  friends, one of them said “This is the BEST egg curry I have eaten in my 33 years of existence!” , yep it’s seriously that good not that I am tooting my own horn or anything!

So are you ready to experience the Holy Grail of egg curries ? Yes ? Lets get started!

Burmese Egg Curry

Burmese Egg Curry

Adapted from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor

Serves : 4

 You will need:

  • 6 large eggs or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil or unroasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 medium onions, minced 
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder or Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 3 medium tomatoes , finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 long green chillies, sliced lengthwise and then into thin strips (reduce if less heat is desired)
  • ½ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

Next:

  • Place the eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook at a medium boil for 8 minutes. Drain the eggs and cool in cold water. When the eggs are cool enough to handle peel them.
  • Heat the oil in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric and stir to dissolve it. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a drop of water is dropped into it, add the peeled eggs and fry until golden and a little blistered all over: cook on each side in turn, then try to balance the eggs on their ends to cook the tips. Frying the egg is a fun little task, quickly done, and it makes them very attractive. With a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the hot oil and onto a plate. Cut them lengthwise in half and set aside.
  • Heat the oil remaining in the pan over medium heat, add the minced onions and fry until close to a golden shade .
  • Add the minced garlic chilli  powder and tomatoes , stirring frequently to prevent sticking, cook at a strong simmer until the tomatoes have broken down into a softened mass, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the fish sauce and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning if you wish. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the green chilli strips,a handful of chopped corinder and stir.
  • Place the eggs cut side down in the sauce and cook until the oil sizzles, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the remainder of the  chopped coriander.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or bread with a crisp side salad.

Enjoy and don’t forget to come back and review :)

What would you cook when life gives you eggs?

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bondi chai latte mug

{Time For Me} Little Things That Make Me Smile + Bondi Chai Latte Giveaway!

{Disclosure – This is NOT a paid promotion for Bondi Chai. I genuinely enjoy the product and wanted to share it with my readers. Bondi Chai have sent me product samples for review and photography purposes, no cash was exchanged}

As a single parent, I find that I am constantly racing against time, between work, school, children, homework, extra curriculars, providing healthy, balanced meals and general household running, I often feel like I have no time to myself. I also know its not just a single parent woe, I know many partnered mothers and fathers who are in the same boat as I – Busy and Exhausted.

 Over time though, I have realised that occasionally, it is important to be a little selfish and make time for YOU. Do something little that brings a smile to your face , go for a walk , buy yourself a bright bunch of flowers , see a friend – whatever it takes , make a conscious effort to make that time for yourself. Time For Me.

So in true Mumchic fashion, I am going to go ahead and list what is trending in my life at the moment as the top things (in no particular order) that make me happy. I hope this list will inspire you to make small changes to your daily grind , be a little selfish and make time for YOU!

A relaxing walk with some favourite tunes on my ipod.

My couch, a soft doona and an engrossing read.

A bunch of fresh cut bright flowers on my dining table.

A long overdue catch-up with a dear friend.

Half hour naps on the bus.

Chocolates post 8:30pm. Obviously.

Saturday Morning Bliss. Now that the boys are that little bit older, I can actually have an extra half hour sleep in and enjoy a peaceful cuppa. Minecraft – Thank you… from the bottom of my heart.

Music – soulful, lyrical and meaningful.

Massages. Not the cheapest form of me time but certainly worth every dollar spent if you have a good masseuse.

Manicures, Pedicures, Haircuts, In home facials, relaxing baths, detoxes …you know those indulgent things you never get to do.

Photography -  anytime, anywhere.

Scarves – yes I said scarves – I have an ever growing collection of scarves – silk, cotton , pashminas, patterns, solid, dotted , printed….you name it!

Cooking for others.There is an inherent joy I find in crafting a meal to share with my family, friends and near ones and my readers. A lot of love goes into each preparation and in the photos and descriptions when they eventually go on to the blog.

Doing something small but significant to help someone who needs their spirits lifted.

And last but definitely not the least a relaxing hot drink first thing in the morning soaking up the solitude. While I have always been a stickler for coffee through the week and traditional Pakistani chai on the weekends, I have recently discovered a fondness for Chai Lattes.

Speaking of Chai Lattesand catching up with friends, I recently discovered the award winning Bondi Chai Latte at a lovely friend’s place and fell in love with it’s delightful flavours. Delicately spiced, balanced sweetness and not in any way overpowering, I knew I had found my new Chaai Latte indulgence. I also knew it was a flavour that the world should know about.  It wasn’t long after that day  that I made it a point of contacting the wonderful Martin from Bondi Chai to tell him how awesome their product was and if they would like to run a promotion through the blog. Martin was more than happy to oblige and so here we are!

So without further adieu, up for grabs are the following :

{Winners}

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who participated in this giveaway, we hope you had fun taking out a bit of time doing something special for yourself, it was great to see all your pics!

Here are the winners :

Megan Taylor 

Nicole Gardner

Please email me on mumschic@gmail.com with your address to arrange prizes.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

2 x Bondi Chai Prize Packs valued at $40 each.

Each prize pack consists of :

1 x Bondi Chai Mug (collectors edition)

2 x Club Cinnamon Chai Latte Boxes (8 sachets per box)

2 x Vanilla Honey Chai Latte Boxes (8 sachets per box)

To be in the running to win one of these fantastic prize packs , here is what you need to do!

  1. Join the Mumchic and Bondi Chai Facebook Communities
  2. Take a picture doing something that you love to do for yourself, anything that makes you happy, YOUR moment – can be from the list in this post or otherwise.
  3. Use hashtags #MumchicTimeForMe and #BondiChai and share your pictures on all your favourite social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc)
  4. Come back to this post and let us know you’ve entered!
  5. And you are done! P.s and obviously we would LOVE if you could share this post with your friends as well :)

T & Cs

  • all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
  • open to Australians only
  • TWO winners will be chosen
  • entries will close at midnight on Friday, 30th August 2013 AEST
  • winners will be announced on Monday, 2nd September 2013
  • this is a game of skill and creativity
  • judge’s decision is final
  • prizes will be sent by a third party via post

 

Good Luck!

 

Linking for all the FYBF goodness with the hip and happening With Some Grace

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How-To-Cure-Acidity-Permanently-251120232202008

Bye Bye Acid Reflux – Top 9 Tips To Relieve Acidity

{These are natural ways to assist with acidity or heartburn.I am not a  doctor so if your symptoms persist or seem to get worse, please consult a doctor straightaway}

We are into the third quarter of the year and of late, so many friends and family I have met seem to be facing similar symptoms – stressed, worn out, run down and tired – ready for a break. Our busy lifestyle means less time to focus on ourselves and heaps to accomplish through the day. One common complaint for many people is heartburn , acid reflux or most commonly known as acidity. Acid reflux basically occurs as a result of a flaw in our digestive system and  is literally related to excessive stomach acid causing discomfort, nausea and heartburn.

As a long term sufferer of acidity all thanks to my very caffeinated lifestyle , I have incorporated several natural ways to manage my symptoms and am often found sharing these tips with others. Simple, easy and effective ways to combat acidity, most of the ingredients can easily be found in the common pantry. Here are my top 9 , please feel free to post any questions you may have in comments section below.

Top 9 Tips to Relieve Acidity

  1. This tip is my favourite and always works – 1/4 glass milk topped with 3/4 glass icy water – sip slowly. 
  2. Bananas ( Have a banana at the onset of a bout of acidity , bananas are known to curb the acid – bananas may also be mixed with yogurt) 
  3. Dried, raw unroasted fennel seeds. 1 tsp. ( fennel seeds are easily available at the Indian grocery ) 
  4. Coconut water for it’s cooling properties
  5. Avoid all caffeinated beverages, swap with green tea.
  6. Watermelon,cucumbers and pineapples all help curb the excessive stomach acid our body produces.
  7. Leave a piece of clove in your mouth and suck on it slowly.
  8. This is an absolute no brainer but something I personally struggle with. Drink atleast 2 litres of water everyday , the increase in water intake neutralises the effects of the acid.
  9. And last but very potent is have a handful of almonds when experiencing acidity.

Here are a few other strategies you could apply to manage the acid reflux better, small lifestyle changes that will certainly benefit you.

  1. Avoid caffeine and aerated drinks
  2. Avoid chocolate! ( Yes, really)
  3. Eat small meals at regular intervals
  4. Avoid salty and overly spicy food 

I hope that some of these tips above will help you combat this very uncomfortable condition and assist you with managing it better.

Have you ever experienced acidity? Do you have a natural remedy to share with us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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chicken tikka pizza

Chicken Tikka Pizza – Finally

I was introduced to Chicken Tikka Pizza in the early 90s when Pizza Hut made it’s initial foray into Pakistan. As one of the first international franchises to hit Pakistani shores, Pizza Hut was instantly popular with the masses. Chicken Tikka pizza along with a few others carrying an eastern touch were incorporated into the menu to create a local appeal and what a brilliant move that was – Pizza Hut had created a product which had people lining up at it’s doors ! Spicy, succulent pieces of grilled chicken add that very special gourmet touch to your traditional pizza bringing a restaurant experience straight to the dining table. Easy enough to put together as a delightfully different mid-week meal.

For those who have been patiently awaiting this recipe , my apologies to you. It will be well worth the wait , I promise .

So here it is , Chicken Tikka Pizza – Finally.

 

chicken tikka pizza 1

Chicken Tikka Pizza

makes 2 large pizzas

You will need :

Chicken Marinade

  • 250 grams thigh/breast chicken fillets cut into small bite size cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 ginger and garlic paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 drops tandoori colour

(Mix all the above well, cover and leave to marinate for a couple of hours )

 Pizza Dough

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver.

  • 7 grams instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup luke warm water
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar

(Thoroughly mix the above ingredients and leave for 2-5 minutes until it becomes foamy.)

  • 400 grams bread flour
  • 100 grams semolina flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or other good vegetable oil

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 tablespoons tomato puree
  • couple of pinches of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • dash of water

Pizza Toppings :

  • Tandoori chicken pieces as per above
  • 4-5 pieces sun dried tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 12-15 jalapeno rings ( or capsicum if preferred)
  • 1 spanish onion finely chopped
  • 10-12 seeded kalamata olives halved
  • 10-12 mushrooms sliced
  • 8-10 roughly torn basil leaves
  • 1 cup shredded mozarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar/tasty cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (optional)
  • crushed red chillies

Optional :

Garlic infused basting oil (  warm 2 tbsp olive oil and mix with a single minced clove of garlic)

Now I know, it all seems like a lot to do but once you get started, it’ll all come together for you and the results are very rewarding! Ready? let’s get cracking!

For the dough :

As you may have noticed, I use Jamie Oliver’as basic dough recipe which I have always had a lot of  success with. If you have a tried and tested dough recipe, best to stick to it :)

  1. Place flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add all the wet ingredients including the yeast mixture.
  3. Using a fork, mix in all the ingredients bringing the flour in from the sides until just combined. Turn the dough over on a lightly floured surface and knead into a soft, elastic dough. If the dough seems too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour and if too stiff, add 1/2 a cup of water.
  4. Place the ball of dough in a bowl lightly dusted with flour. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

For the sauce :

While the dough is set to rise, lets get our sauce going – now you are more than welcome to use store bought pizza sauce if you are looking to save time  but this is a good one if you are in the mood to do everything from scratch.

  • Heat a small sized saucepan.
  • Add a tbsp of olive oil.
  • When the oil is heated through, add minced garlic until softened.
  • Add tomato puree, salt, cracked pepper and sugar
  • Bring to a boil and then just add enough water so that the sauce is of spreadable consistency.
  • Remove from heat.

Your sauce is now ready to go!

For the chicken :

  1. Heat a saute pan and add a tablespoon of oil.
  2. Once the oil is heated , add marinated chicken and saute on high until the meat is sealed and the spices have browned. ( the chicken can also be grilled at this stage depending on preference)
  3. Take pan off heat.

 

Lets return to our dough which has had an hour to rise. 

  • Preheat oven to 210 degrees 
  • Punch the dough back down and divide into two to three parts. Push and roll into rough discs , close to 1cm thick.
  • If being used later, the dough can  easily be frozen or kept in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.

Assemble :

  • Place on an oven tray prepared with tin foil lightly brushed with olive oil.
  • Spread a generous layer of pizza sauce on the base.
  • Sprinkle half a cup of cheddar and half a cup of mozarella cheese.

Scatter half of the pizza toppings 

onions
jalapenos
olives
sun dried  tomatoes
mushrooms
torn basil
and 
chicken

  • Dust with chilli flakes and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
  • Bake in a preaheated oven for about 10 minutes, pull out , using a pastry brush , brush on some of the garlic infused olive oil and return to the oven.
  • Bake for a few more minutes until crisp and golden.

Repeat for the remaining dough.

Serve piping hot!

*Variation :

*This is something I personally like to do so is not a must for this recipe. Just 2 minutes before the pizza is entirely done , change the oven setting to grill/broil. Turning the top grill on for a few minutes ensures the chicken pieces acquire that slightly charred look.

*The garlic oil is basting is completely optional , it  does give your pizza that touch of finesse.

And there you have it, a special twist on the regular pizza.

Bon Apetit :)

What is/are your favourite pizza toppings ? Have you tried adding anything out of the ordinary in your pizza?

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blueberry green smoothie

The Not So Green Smoothie – Looks Can Be Deceptive.

Psssssttttt….I’m back!!!

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t blogged for a month now and while I do apologise for not bringing new, enticing and exciting flavours to your palate, I have no regrets. Between crazy work schedules and family visiting, there simply wasn’t any time to write even if I tried. The trade off was some very special family time and many special memories but I am not here to tell you about that just yet – there will be a whole post dedicated to it :)

For now lets talk about this not so green smoothie. After an indulgent weekend (yes there was chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate involved) , all I wanted today at the time of “Iftaar” or opening my fast was something simple and healthy. I decided to ditch the traditional rose sherbet and whipped up this little beauty instead. Don’t let the colour turn you off , this smoothie is power packed with highly nutrient mejdool dates and anti oxidant rich blueberries. Can I just warn you, it tastes absolutely delicious and may be a bit addictive – I have guzzled two glasses already if that is telling you anything!

blueberry green smoothie

The Not So Green Smoothie

Serves 2

You will need :

  • 1 small piece of ginger peeled and halved
  • 4 mejdool dates – pitted and chopped (other soft dates may be chosen )
  • 1 celery stick washed and chopped
  •  big handful of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 banana cut into chunks
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 4-5 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 1/4 cup of water – add more for desired consistency

Next :

  • Add water, dates, ginger and celery sticks to the blender. Starting the blender on a low speed, mix until smooth.
  • Add in blueberries,banana, parsley and spinach leaves and switch blender to high, blend until smooth.
  • Serve up immediately and enjoy!

 

Do you ever experiment with your cooking or know someone who does? What has been your worst food experiment?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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roasted pumpkin soup

The Very Best Roasted Pumpkin & Leek Soup

This is by far the BEST pumpkin soup recipe in the world ! Okay, I know, I know there are other really great recipes out there but inspired by a local cafe known for it’s delicious soups, this one is simply phenomenal so if Pumpkin Soup is on your mind this winter, give this bowl of delicious scrumptiousness a whirl …..it rates very high on  the best comfort food charts and I am sure will soon become a family favourite complete with the little people’s seal of approval.

roasted pumpkin and leek soup

Scrumptious Roasted Pumpkin & Leek Soup

Serves 4-5

You will need :

  • 1.2 kg butternut pumpkin
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger finely grated
  • 1 litre beef stock/beef stock alternative
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt – whipped smooth

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with foil paper.
  • Cut pumpkin into halves or large chunks. Scoop out seeds. Place pumpkin cut side up and unpeeled garlic cloves on baking tray.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste and bake for about 45 minutes until pumpkin is golden and roasted. Around the 20 minute mark, remove the garlic cloves, peel and set aside.
  • While the pumpkin is roasting , wash leek thoroughly and cut into rounds.
  • Heat a large saucepan and coat generously with olive oil spray or add 2 tsp of oil. 
  • Add the leeks and saute on medium heat until transluscent.
  • Add curry powder and grated ginger and saute until fragrant.
  • Peel away the skin off the roasted pumpkin and garlic cloves and add to the saucepan.
  • Lastly add in beef stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about15-20 minutes.
  • Using a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. Alternatively, blend with a blander in batches.
  • Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to suit taste.

~Notes~

  • Serve steaming hot with a dollop of whipped yogurt and lightly buttered sourdough toast.

And there it is, delicious comfort made simple. Perfect on a cold winter night!

 

What is your favourite Winter soup?

 

 

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Kiwi Mint Green Smoothie Recipe

Kiwi Mint Delightful Smoothie And A Special Little Giveaway.

The price we often pay for hectic, stressful lifestyles is that our own health gets adversely affected. We might think it’s nothing major, neglecting to have regular meals, not drinking enough water , lack of exercise and an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables in our diets but keep doing this and it won’t be long before we feel sluggish, foggy brained and unfit.

Tiny, little steps can lead to big life changes.

While it is understandably hard to make major health changes on the fly, we certainly can make better choices and smaller changes to help us along the way.  One tiny life change I have recently made is the inclusion of green smoothies to my diet. With the kind of crazy life style I have, I find green smoothies have been fantastic when it would be just as easy to skip a meal or give in to a carb craving. I am simply amazed with the burst of energy and vitality I feel after a green smoothie boost. Without harping on too much about the benefits of green smoothies – which you can find here, I will just say that if you have been considering making a tiny life change to help your health, green smoothies are definitely something you should consider!

 This particular smoothie is very high in fibre and tastes rather delightful coupled with refreshing mint – great also for those experiencing Summers at the moment!

Kiwi Mint Green Smoothie

Kiwi Mint Delightful Green Smoothie

(serves 2-3)

You will need :

  • A solid blender
  • 2 cucumbers unpeeled cut into chunks
  • 2 kiwi fruits peeled cut into chunks*
  • 2 frozen bananas cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach leaves roughly chopped
  • 15 mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups water/fresh coconut water

Next :

  • Add the water/coconut water , mint leaves and spinach to the blender. Starting the blender on a low speed, mix until smooth.
  • Next add in the cucumber, kiwi fruit and honey and gradually moving towards a higher speed add in lemon juice and bananas.
  • Serve up :)

~Notes~

Kiwi fruit can be easily replaced with pears, pineapples, grapes, celery sticks or apples.

Leftover lettuce leaves can also be added.

Add crushed iced during the blending process if after a more summery drink.

Try our other green smoothie recipe here.

{Giveaway – Winners Announced}

Most apologetic for the delayed announcement but we finally have our winners but before I go on to announce them, a massive thankyou to each and everyone of you who entered our giveaway, I really appreciate all the entries, choosing our two winners was a tough ask but here they are :

Melanie Graham

Rachel Kriss-Newell

Congratulations lovelies, we hope you enjoy your shopping with KWD. Please contact us on mumschic@gmail.com with your best email address.

Cheers x

 

 

It’s been a while and I thought it would be great to run a little giveaway as our way of saying THANKYOU to our loyal readers and followers.

  kitchenware direct

So what’s up for grabs? Our fantastic friends at Kitchenware Direct are teaming up with us to give away two lucky readers a chance to win two $50 vouchers to shop with Kitchenware Direct so if there is something you have been eyeing off in their extensive and totally envy worthy range, well this is your chance! Exciting right?

Here’s how to enter :

Simply do One, Two, or all Three of the following. Just be sure to leave A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one that you do so that you can earn an entry for each.

1.Please tell us what is one little life change you have made for your family’s health in 2013?

2.Please like us on Facebook or tell us if you already do so

3.Share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so. Help spread the word !!

T&Cs

  • all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
  • open to Australians only
  • TWO winners will be chosen
  • entries will close at midnight on Sunday, June 16th 2013
  • winners will be announced on Tuesday, June 18th 2013
  • this is a game of skill and creativity
  • judge’s decision is final
  • prizes will be sent by a third party

 That’s it from me , will back soon with many more green smoothie variations ! Ciao  :)

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naan

Nihari {Slow Cooked Grandeur}

If there is a dish that defines the grandeur and richness of Pakistani culture, it would have to be this absolutely divine, slow cooked stew called Nihari. Originating from Delhi,India it was developed as a very common breakfast preparation in the Indian Muslim Nawabi homes pre the partition of the Indian sub-continent. Nihari is a lovingly slow cooked (about 6-8 hours) preparation that brings together fragrant spices, tender shin beef balanced with the perfect heat. While most people these days favour Nihari as a dinner dish washed down with a chilled coke, in many Pakistani homes, Nihari is to date served for breakfast especially during the fasting month of Ramadan. However, if you are planning a Nihari dinner , I would recommend going very light during the day so you can thoroughly enjoy your meal.

Traditionally, Nihari is cooked in a heavy bottomed dutch oven style pot but can be adapted to a slow cooker/crockpot just as easily , also allow 6-8 hours cooking time – the steps may feel a bit involved but trust me, it is totally worth it!

Now, allow your senses to be consumed.

nihari recipe

Nihari – Slow Cooked Grandeur

You will need :

Nihari Special Spice Mix

(Grind the following to a fine powder using a coffee or dry spice grinder)

  • 2 tbs fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/4 tsp mace powder
  • 3 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 star aniseed
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oil 
  • 500-700 grams of shin beef pieces with bones washed, drained and set aside
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 onion finely sliced
  • 1 full bulb garlic peeled
  • 2 inch piece of ginger peeled
  • 1/2 cup of wholewheat roti flour

Garnish {Prepare a garnish plate}

  •  1 ½ inch ginger peeled and thinly julienned
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 3 to 4 green and red  chilies-chopped into rings
  • 2 Lemon cut into wedges

Preparation :

  • Slice onions finely and set aside
  • Mince the peeled garlic and ginger to a fine paste
  • Heat 3/4 cup oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Add 1/2 of the sliced onions and fry until golden brown
  • Add minced ginger and garlic paste and fry just until fragrant taking care not to burn the mixture
  • Add meat and the ground spice mix reserving just a tablespoon for later.
  • Mix the meat, salt, spices, onions, minced ginger and garlic and fry together until the meat is sealed and oil separates – about 4-5 minutes.
  • Those using crockpots can now transfer this mixture to their crock pot on medium heat.
  • Add enough boiling water to cover the meat but not too much.
  • Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave to cook on low to medium heat for about 6-8 hours, the meat should now be fully tender and falling off the bone and your house should be smelling heavenly.
  • Dissolve the flour in a cup of cold water, turn the heat on medium/high so the stew is now boiling and slowly add in the flour mix and stir well to avoid lumps until the stew thickens.
  • Leaving the nihari  on a low flame, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small pan, add reserved sliced onions and fry until golden, add reserved spice mix, 1 tbsp fresh coriander for about 30 seconds and fragrant. Add the fried mix to the the simmering nihari,turn off stove and cover with lid for a few minutes.

And that’s it you’re done!

~Notes~

  • Serve up in a deep plate , garnish with fresh coriander , julienned ginger, green chillies and squeeze some lemon over.
  • Best eaten with fresh and steaming tandoori or Afghani naan.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this absolute culinary delight.

Enjoy!

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MAC-Pink-Friday2

The One Where Pink Lippy Was An Epic Fail And Other WTF Moments.

This morning, I wore pink lippy.

I know what you’re thinking , what’s the big deal with wearing pink lippy? Well you see, if you knew me IRL, you’d know that I am an au naturale kinda gal. On a normal day, you will find me not wearing much make up, don’t get me wrong, I love make up but being time poor means I usually head out the door with some minimalistic kajal. But today was different. Today was pink lippy day. Having had a bit of a rough trot lately, some part of me probably expected the pink lippy to magically fix everything or atleast temporarily make me feel better about life. How presumptuous.

Not to self – Pink Lipstick is not the answer to life’s problems.

I might just add, checking out my dazzling smile immediately after I wore the lippy was probably the happiest moment of a day that steadily went downhill from that point on. Without giving too much away just in case someone from the office stalks admires me, I can just say work is my biggest woe in life at the moment. Given a choice, I would quit my current job right now but life is not like a box of chocolates when it comes to choices.Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get … said Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump. But Tom made it all sound so deceptively easy, I nearly forgot my life isn’t a movie and I am not Tom Hanks.

My work woes manifested into a severe migraine, one that even 2 panadols nor over consumption of  caffeine were going to get rid of . I also over shared a bit more than usual on Facebook. No one left the page post my spiel. Phew.

get paid for being awesome

 

Yes. This.Now.

photo 2

I bit my tongue. A lot. Chocolate helped.

 

There may have been a bit of a verbal spill over on Twitterverse too….

Pink lipstick fail twitter

My day at work these days is evenly peppered with what I like to call WTF moments. Now everyone knows I don’t swear on the blog or on social media, kind of like an in-house policy not that I don’t swear in life at all but for me to be swearing on social media means things must be pretty bad. The little sister @browniemovement got the seriousness of the moment and offered to send virtual brownies, I asked her to pack in some hugs as well. Virtual is better than nothing I guess. Other non work related events added to the rapidly growing list of wtf moments like over heating my tea in the office microwave resulting in no tea and me having to clean the spill among others.

You might ask, so what am I doing to change this situation that I clearly don’t like and haven’t liked for a while. There may be a few changes in the pipeline but I will not reveal them just yet. For now, I will walk away from today knowing that sometimes even the pinkest of lipsticks can’t salvage anything, In fact today proved that the whole wear your pink and conquer the world concept is an epic fail! So I just made that up but if it were a concept, it would be an epic fail okay? On days like this, it is best to just succumb and let your life be led by the sheer joy of eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

Kind of like this.

peanut butter from the jar

As for what will happen tomorrow…

Don’t-take-tomorrow-to-bed-with-you.-Norman-Vincent-Pearl-Quotes-500x500

The experts have spoken.

Goodnight world, time to reset.

How do you like your peanut butter ? On toast or straight out of the jar? Or are you one of those strange people who don’t like peanut butter ? 

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pakora 4

Rainy Day Food – Most Delicious Pakoras

It’s freezing cold and has been raining all day non stop here in Canberra. The weather takes me to rainy days back home in Pakistan.Traditionally, we would make fresh pakoras (chickpea flour and vegetable fritters) and steamy hot  milk tea to go with them. Those joining us from the Indian sub-continent will know exactly what I am talking about and I am sure many of you reading will have tried pakoras/onion bhajis at your favourite indian restaurant. As much as I’d like to make them more often, pakoras are deep fried and therefore not healthy on a regular basis , today though is an exception.Even if you have never heard of  Pakoras before, I suggest you give these a whirl – you will not be disappointed, and that’s a promise!

Grab yourself a cup of steaming tea and lets get right into it shall we?

pakora 5

Most Delicious Pakoras

Serves 2-3

You will need :

  • 1 cup chickpea flour* 
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seeds*
  • 1 tsp whole  cumin seeds*
  • 1 tsp whole pomegranate seeds (optional)*
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander powder
  • ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
  • ¾ tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 medium potato cut into thin scallops
  • ½ small tomato chopped into little cubes
  • 1 medium onion cut into fine rings
  • ½ cup of fresh chopped coriander
  • A sprig of mint leaves
  • 1-2 green chillies (optional)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lukewarm water

*Easily available at all good indian/Pakistani grocery stores

pakora 3

Method :

  • Mix together chickpea flour with whole coriander, cumin and pomegranate seeds.
  • Add turmeric,coriander powders, salt and crushed chilli flakes.
  • Mix in just less than half a cup of lukewarm water and using a fork or a whisk, mix together into a thickish batter.
  • Add in the prepared vegetables ;  potatoes, onions, tomatoes, coriander,mint and green chillies if required.
  • Mix well and leave the mixture for about 10 minutes. This releases the flavours and moisture. The mixture should now be of dropping consistency. If it seems too thick, add a small dash of water.
  • While the mixture is resting, fill a deep wok style skillet halfway up with oil. Heat the oil.{You can test it’s temperature  by dropping  small drop of the pakora batter to the oil. The batter should rise up immediately but not burn}
  • Using a tablespoon{pictured}, drop the pakora batter into the hot oil leaving enough room to allow movement. Overcrowing the pan will result in greasy pakoras. {I sometimes like to fry potato scallops separately but that’s apersonal choice}
  • Fry for about 4-6 minutes per batch, turning over occasionally to ensure an even, golden colour.
  • Drain well on paper towels.
  • Repeat with the rest of the batter.

~Notes~

Serve hot with a tamarind chutney, tomato sauce or a tablespoon of our delicious green chutney whisked with half a cup of yogurt.

This is a basic recipe , many other vegetables can be added such as mushrooms, eggplant slices, capsicums and chopped up spinach…. go crazy people!

Pakoras can be prepared in advance and reheated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and heat in a pre heated oven for 5 minutes before serving.

What do you like to eat on a cold, rainy day?

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Turning Up The Heat With Pakistani Lamb Karahi.

Karahi pron.: /kəˈr/ is a type of thick, circular, and deep cooking-pot (similar in shape to a wok) used in PakistaniIndian,[1] Bangladeshi and Nepalese cuisine. Traditionally made out of cast iron, karahi look like woks with steeper sides. Today they can be made of stainless steel, copper, and non-stick surfaces, both round and flat-bottomed. Thankyou Wiki

A typical Karahi ( the cooking vessel not the dish) would look like this :

karahi

Image Credit

There are several Pakistani Karahi recipes floating around on the internet. Some with onions, some without, some with butter, some with ghee, one would have to be pretty discerning in which recipe you eventually go with to get that authentic spicy, tangy Karahi taste . Originating from Peshawar, Karahi has found many variations in Pakistan itself so eventually it all boils down to what tantalises your taste buds. I have two favourite Karahi recipes one of which I am sharing today. I picked this one up from a lovely fellow Pakistani lady and found the flavours in it to be very balanced, delicious is probably an understatement.

karahi gosht

 

Lamb Karahi

You will need :

  • 1/2 kg of lamb/goat curry pieces
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 inch piece of ginger crushed or grated
  • 2 medium tomatoes cut into chunks
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (Indian all spice powder)
  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 3/4 cup fresh coriander
  • 4-5 long green/red chillies slit lengthwise
  • water

Method :

  • Heat a wok on medium to high heat.
  • Blend 4-5 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water to a smooth mixture.
  • Add garlic mixture to the wok and bring to a boil, add meat and steam on medium to low heat covered until the water begins to evaporate.
  • Add in the oil, tomatoes, salt, turmeric and chilli powders. Mix well.
  • Cover and cook on medium to high heat until the mixture comes together and oil has separated.
  • Add yogurt, grated ginger and garam masala, mix well , cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add a cup of water and simmer for about 10 minutes until the water begins to evaporate and the gravy turns thick.
  • Ensure that the meat is now thoroughly cooked , add in chopped fresh coriander and slit green chillies and mix well.
  • Simmer for 3-4 minutes and take off heat.

Bon Apetit :)

~Notes~

Serve with fresh naan and lemon wedges.

This dish is perfect on cold winter nights with minimum preparation required.

What is your favourite curry ?

P.S I apologise for the very rough picture taken during the cooking process – blogging the recipe was a late decision on popular demand, hope you all enjoy making this one.

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relax and unwind

Pamper Me Silly.

It’s been a busy week here at the HQ with school now in Term 2 week 4, we have a whole heap of things going on as do many families at this time of the year. Fab Son 1 is now in year 4 and while he has a long way to go, it’s all beginning to look like serious business. He had to prepare a full blown speech to present in class and if chosen, he would be able to participate in a school wide and later an Australia wide competition. As you can imagine, in 9 year old world, this is a kind of a pretty big deal and with the speech supposed to be due this week {it eventually did not happen this week} the pressure was indeed on!

Add then to the mix the usual weekly madness not unfamiliar to most of you raising young families – the morning rush, possibly a day job, the taxiing to and from school, more taxiing to weeknight sports/extracurricular activities, homework, playdates, the organising , the meal planning {getting tired reading that right?} and general keeping on top of everything means us parents are pretty ragged come Friday. While it would be nice to just put your feet up and do nothing for the weekend, quite frankly who are we kidding?!

So when I found out that the boys would be having an unplanned weekend away with their dad,my exhausted feet knew it couldn’t have come at a better time. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my boys more than anything but this single mum does need to reset every now and then.

Alright enough of the context, lets cut straight to this weekend shall we? With last weekend spent cleaning the house top to bottom in an autumn cleaning frenzy, I decided this weekend would be about me, and me and me obviously. A bit narcissistic I know but all for your benefit. Yes you reading. If you are like me and running yourself ragged, here are a few things you can do for yourself every once in a while to give yourself a bit of a recharge and pamper yourself silly…exactly as I did today!

Lemon Water

I have been talking about the amazing benefits of lemon on water on the Facebook page for weeks. Here is a snapshot of the benefits :

health-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water-health-tips

Image Credit

I have now been drinking lemon water for about 8 weeks and I can personally vouch for it’s amazing goodness so obviously my pamper day had to begin with the lemon water ritual.

The drink :

Juice of half a lemon mixed with lukewarm water – drink daily on rising.

Luscious Feet With Listerine

Who knew listerine could do wonders for my achy, tired and not to mention ugly feet! If dry, cracked heels are a sore point for you especially over winter , this foot soak is just fabulous!

listerine and vinear foot soak

You will need :

  • Equal parts of vinegar and original listerine
  • Fill a foot basin or small tub with enough vinegar and listerine to cover your feet. 
  • ***WARNING The vinegar stench is quite strong initially but we must remember we are doing this for greater good aka podiatry bliss.
  • Soak for 15-20 minutes
  • At the end of the soak, use a pumice stone to smooth over rough patches and remove dead, hardened skin.
  • Rinse and wipe clean.
  • Moisturise with your favourite body cream – my favourite at the moment is the Moringa by Body Shop.

Also note, the listerine foot soak can be used 3-4 times a week to help reduce toe fungi.

Next I went on to giving my self a mini facial. With Canberra moving towards Winter, my face has been dry and flaky, it could certainly use a good cleanse and moisturise routine. Chemical free home made scrubs and masks are great for in-home facials in between a professional one just to give our tired faces a much needed boost. Here’s one I threw together, great for t-zone skin in particular.

Scrub Up Honey

  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 3 tsp milk
  • 6 tsp oatmeal
  • 4 tsp flour
  • water as necessary

How to :

  • Mix all the ingredients together adding just enough water to form a thick paste.
  • Apply on face with a gentle circular scrubbing motion
  • Leave on for 20 minutes – your skin will feel quite tight.
  • Moisten with a bit of cold water and then rise off the scrub.

This is how I looked pre and post scrub, I must admit while the photo on the right is a bit too bright because of the direct sunlight in my face, the scrub did do wonders , I was amazed at just how clean and fresh my skin felt within 20 minutes so I would highly recommend this one!

honey and oat scrub before and after pics

Mask And Moisturise

I finished off today’s pamper session with a simple mask of grated potato left on for about ten minutes – this is particularly great for discolored or patchy skin. And lastly, moisturise, moisturise and moisturise.

All I have done thus far this weekend apart from the above is see a friend , catch up on reading and watched 2 old Bollywood favourites . Feels so good to not think about anything and just unwind for  a change. I reckon we never do enough for ourselves, sometimes though it’s okay to be a little selfish.

So the next time you have a bit of time to put your feet up and relax, pamper yourself silly won’t you?

When was the last time you did something for yourself and what was it ? 

 

 

 

 

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{Wordless Wednesday} Grateful For Life.

canberra dawn pictures

No fancy words, no scrumptious recipes, no complex equations and no filters.

 Today my heart is brimming with gratitude because I live in a beautiful world.

I am grateful for this day and all it will bring, grateful that I have another chance to start over.

Taking a step back to breathe in and appreciate all that I do have.

Grateful For Life.

What are you grateful for today?

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chilli peanuts and blueberry lassi

Blueberry Lassi, Chilli Peanuts, Autumn Cleaning And The Return Of The Mojo

You will know that it has been a few weeks (3 or more?) since I lost the blogging mojo. But if you are new around here, well then you won’t know any better would you in which case, welcome to Mumchic ;) While on the blogging hiatus, I did a lot of what I know best – cook,cook and cook delicious food. So guess what? Yes indeed! I will sharing a lot of food with you in the coming weeks. Exciting stuff right?

In other mentionable achievements, I autumn cleaned the house……yes there is such a thing as Autumn Cleaning, didn’t you know? Oh stop it don’t go asking google , I was only kidding! But really why does a good home blitz clean have to be restricted to Spring? why not Autumn, Winter or Summer? Okay so I am willing to discount Winter because it gets quite cold here in Canberra and I would rather spend my weekends rugged up with blankets, coffee and books than go on a cleaning spree. Really. So here I am, sitting in my freshly cleaned apartment, some lovely citrus & cinnamon simmering potpourri  bubbling away on the stove top and I am feeling pretty chuffed with myself. And rightfully so, I even washed both the balconies…..that’s like a big deal okay? Plus now that the autumn clean is done, I can happily hibernate for the rest of winter knowing I have done my bit – oh don’t worry I’m not that filthy, we’ll still be doing the normal cleaning stuff – just won’t be washing balconies and windows. Shhhh I know the whole spic and span impeccable clean will not last long but let me revel for a bit will you? Yay!

spring cleaning funny

 

Or I may have a hidden motive.

Image Credit

Okay enough about cleaning. Lets get straight down to the important part that is today’s recipes..shall we?

Blueberry Lassi

Serves 2

blueberry lassi

This drink is truly refreshing as an alternative breakfast on a busy morning, when you are on the go and as an after school healthy treat. Blueberries, as we all know are packed with anti-oxidants and this is a great way to get your anti-ox fix. Adapted from the wonderful Cook Republic.

You will need:

  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/4 cup low fat natural set yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Next :

  • Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Drink up :)

Chilli Peanuts

Last week the kids were granted a homework free week at school. Here’s what happened next ;

chilli peanuts recipe

Yes there were happy dances and spur of the moment snack making decisions made. Only good things can happen when homework is cancelled for a week. My eldest, FS1 loves peanuts and has been asking for these, Monday was his lucky night!

You will need :

  • 250 grams raw,peeled peanuts
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil/cooking oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp chaat masala ( mixed spiced powder)*
  • Salt per taste

Next:

  • Heat oil in a non stick pan, add chaat masala.
  • Add in raw peanuts and mix well to coat in oil and chaat masala
  • Roast 3-5 minutes on slow until fragrant.
  • Remove from heat and spread in a single layer on some paper towels or a flat tray
  • Cool and store.

Enjoy this delicious treat over winter – by the way chilli peanuts are also a great people pleaser so perfect when you are entertaining.

*Chaat Masala is a very popular spice mix from the Indian sub-continent often used to lend a distinct hot and tangy flavour to dishes. You can either make your own or easily find a box at an Indian/Pakistani grocery store.

Do you like dried fruits? What is your favourite?

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Fiona Holmes Imogen's Angels

{Empowered Motherhood} Fiona Holmes – Imogen’s Angels.

Empowered Motherhood – Everyday Mothers, Empowered Living.

This is a section of the blog that has been in the offing for a while. With Mother’s Day just gone, I thought it was apt to finally launch Empowered Motherhood – a series of interviews with women from everyday walks of life making a difference, catalysing change , living life inspired.

Launching the series today with a most creative, awe inspiring mother plus entrepreneur, Fiona Holmes of Imogen’s Angels. I  was fortunate enough to be introduced to Fiona on the final night of DPCON 13 as we walked back to the hotel –  myself , Fiona and the very lovely Lisa from Mummy Manifesto. Upon my return from the conference , I started following Fiona and was bowled over by her journey. Today, she is sharing her life with all of us – I request you to give this interview a patient, compassionate read -I can only imagine how challenging it would have been for Fiona to articulate these responses.

Over to you, Fiona.

Let’s start from where it all started – your beautiful daughter , Imogen. Tell us about Imogen.

Imogen was a larger than life, cheeky, smiley, bossy little girl. Imogen loved to spend her days crafting with glitter and glue.

At 2 she suddenly became unwell with night sweats, fevers and a lack of appetite. After countless doctors’ appointments we were delivered the horrible news that Imogen had a childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma. Imogen began cancer treatment immediately and continued treatment for three years. Then after a second relapse we were told by Imogen’s oncologist there was no more treatment available. We briefly looked at taking Imogen overseas, but knew she was tired and felt she would not cope being separated from her dad or brothers.

We had nine months with her at home. Imogen sadly pasted away in our arms on the 1st of May 2010, five days after her sixth birthday.

Imogen left a huge mark on our family; she was a real live wire who loved Sunkist, lasagne, fairy bread, Tom and Jerry, Ben 10, telling people how it was and making sure we knew she loved us with constant I love you’s, kisses and cuddles.

How do you come back from losing a child – I asked myself as I read your story – you never really do.

I don’t  think there is a standard answer for this question, everyone I know who has had a child pass have very different ways of dealing with their loss.

For me, it was like I had to reinvent myself…for three years my sole job had been to take Imogen to hospital appointments and worry about her. My complete focus had been on getting her better, it never crossed my mind that Imogen may not get better. When Imogen passed I was lost…fortunate for me I had two boys and fabulous husband that still needed me.

My youngest boy was only 10 months old; I nicknamed him our glue, as his joy for life was contagious and definitely helped us stick together.

My eldest boy was my rock, he is the most amazing now 14 year old I know, the way he has coped with his life challenges is incredible.

For myself and my husband the key was communication, we talk often about our little girl, to us she still exists in our everyday life. This has allowed my now two little boys to feel like they really know their sister.

What keeps Fiona going?

My boys, and the fact I believe I will get to see Imogen again one day and then I will never have to let her go again.

Imogen’s Angels is a craft business – What sparked the idea?

In my second year of grieving I wanted to find something to help me stay connected to Imogen. As Imogen was passionate about craft, I knew it would be something focused around that area. I began making and selling personalised Christmas ornaments. When added the blog to the mix I started to feel more connected to Imogen. On the blog, Imogen’s two little brothers and I share a wide variety of craft tutorials and free printables, we also back this up with our original creative craft kits in our online shop.

Tell us a little bit about Princess Ladybird.

‘Princess Ladybird’ began because I wanted to give back to one of the generous charities who supported us while Imogen was in treatment. I chose Make-A-Wish Australia, as they granted Imogen’s ‘Meet Bugs Bunny/ Queensland parks’ wish in 2009. During that week on the Gold Coast we were able to create many priceless memories with Imogen.

‘Princess Ladybird’ week occurs annually from the 26th of April to the 1st of May, this one week surrounds Imogen’s Birthday {26th of April} and her Angel Day {1st of May}.

In 2012, my first ‘Princess Ladybird’ week was launched; I sold 170 green ladybird brooches raising a total of $1646. We have just completed this years ‘Princess Ladybird’ and sold a total of 470 brooches with the total raised still to be announced.

Running a full time business and raising a young family? What are some of the key challenges you face on a day to day basis?

A big one is balance; trying to find a balance between being an actively involved mum with my children and keeping the business on the path is extremely hard work. Time keeping, links in with the balance challenge you can find yourself in a creative groove and then one of kids gets sick or no one has any clean clothes and you have to stop everything and attend to that. I have tried to create timetables to schedule time in for Imogen’s Angels but I end up spending a lot of my time catching five minutes here and there or waiting till they sleep.

What are the rewards of running your own business?

Watching it grow, and being able to say I made it happen whether the end result be good or bad it’s all about learning and evolving with your business.

Now let’s talk a little bit about motherhood and empowerment…

How has your journey of motherhood changed the way you perceive life?

The journey of motherhood has complete changed me. In the 14 years of being of being a mum I have learnt a life time of new skills, experienced emotional events that I never believed I would ever been able to cope with and truly learnt what it means to have your heart walking around outside your body. All of my children have helped mould me into a better, confident, more passionate person.

How do you balance motherhood and an innate desire to make a mark in the world? What is the secret sauce of the balance?

 The word I would use would be ‘carefully’. As much as I want to make my mark on the world, it is important to remember the most important role of being a mum is being there for your children. Taking the time to get to know their individual personalities by spending one on one time with them and taking the time to stop and listen. Life can easily get so busy that you can find yourself one day looking at a toddler and then in a blink they are a teenager. You have your whole life to make that ‘mark in the world’ but you won’t have your whole life to form a strong close relationship with your kids if you leave it too late.

 Does the selflessness of motherhood make women better leaders?

 I personally think the selflessness of motherhood does make us better leaders; it makes us more empathic to other people lifestyles or circumstances. It can help us judge, offer compassionate and practical solutions to situations in relation to how we would feel if we were put under those circumstances.

What, in your own experience are the top 5 traits of an empowered mother?

  1. Compassion, genuine compassion looking past your own agendas or what you might get out of it.
  2. Honesty, being honest with yourself. Acknowledging when you can’t handle something and reaching out for help. This teaches your children volumes, it shows to them that you are human and you are prepared to reach out for help when you need it.
  3. Patience, a hard one at times, but if you stop, get down to their level and real listen, you general find the problem or outburst can be resolved in minutes.
  4. A sense of humour, it is so true that laughter is the best medicine. No matter how gloomy your day has been, there always has to be some, even if it’s tiny that gives you a smile or giggle. Life is far too short to be too serious.
  5. Positivity, similar to humour, everyday instead of focusing on the negatives that have occurred find a positive. At house every night we sit around our table, and ask each other how was your day? And what was your best bit?.

 Do you think empowered mothers are catalysts to positive societal change?

 I do think empowered mothers are though I also think to make positive change we need to work together. I find a lot of mothers today are trying to do everything on their own as they don’t want anyone to see that they have any faults or weakness. We are all individual and unique, measuring ourselves up to other mother’s abilities, skills or lifestyle is unrealistic. Instead of being afraid of showing our true selves if we embraced our differences and worked together I do believe we could make huge societal changes.

What is your best tip for mothers who are embarking on a journey of empowered motherhood?

 Enjoy the ride, it is your ride no one else’s. This is your life; you choose how it maps itself out over the years. Embrace your differences, rejoice your successes and learn from your mistakes. Love yourself, love what you do, love your family. Always remember positive thoughts bring more positivity to your life.

Happiness is … family, whether they are blood related or friend family, they are your people, they are the ones who will be there to cheer you on, give {sometimes] helpful advice and prop you up when you stumble.

And that was it! What an amazing lady you are Fiona, thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

About Fiona and Imogen’s Angels:

A celebration of love and laughter. It begins with a sprinkle of glitter, a dab of glue, a piece of sticky tape, bursts of colour and little fingers weaving craft magic. Immerse your kids in craft with our original and creative bright, colourful, fun, easy to use craft kits that are available to purchase on-line and at a range of different outlets.  We’re sure they’ll be captivated! We can be founded crafting surrounded by Imogen’s love at www.imogensangels.com.au

Fiona@imogensangels.com.au

www.imogensangels.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/ImogensAngels

Linking up with the very lovely Grace and friends because its FYBF !

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pakistan votes 2013

May 11 {Pakistan Votes}

May 11.

This is it. 

I have tears in my eyes as I write this post today, there are milli naghme  (patriotic songs) playing in my house since this morning – the kids are attempting to sing along.

They ask me why I am teary – I try to explain but how do you explain the dream of a safe, peaceful and prosperous country in mere words? How do you explain the pull towards the country that made you who you are? Every single part of me wants to be back home today, in my country, amongst all of you, to be a part of this monumental change. I am sure I capture the spirit of countless overseas Pakistanis in saying this.

Most heartfelt prayers are with all Pakistanis today, God has blessed us with this great chance to turn things around for the better. This is the first time in years I see Hope, Faith and I see Unity. Perhaps we are coming a full circle – back to begin again. Back to build a new Pakistan.

May each one of us be guided in the direction to do what is right for our country. Be selfless today,be honest to yourselves and our country, be united, take responsibility, be a PAKISTANI.

Stay safe, vote for change, vote for PAKISTAN.

Trust God To Take Care Of The Rest.

“It is only with united effort and faith in our destiny that we shall be able to translate the Pakistan of our dreams into reality.” – Mohammed Ali Jinnah

Have you cast your vote?

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blogging mojo

O Blogging Mojo – Where Art Thou?

So if you are a regular reader and (in my dreams) simply hanging on to the corners of your laptop to see what my next dull and boring  hot and happening post will be , I reckon you may have been a bit disappointed with me of late. In fact  you even checked your Bloglovin’ and Facebook feeds to make sure you were still subscribed right? right? k , Good !

It’s not fair is it ? Last week I tantalised you with delicious soups , pushed the green revolution  and got all  deep and meaningful with making today count and this week, I haven’t uttered a single word. Well, I’m afraid to say my friends, I may be suffering a bit of bloggers burnout. All those late nights spent loving the keyboard and 6:30am starts have taken a toll. So while I have at least a minimum of 3 three stories buzzing in my head at the moment, two of which are very close to my heart – the whole stilling my thoughts long enough to get some decent writing done thing has not happened for me for these past few days.

I wait with bated breath. It will happen.

I know if I force myself to sit down and write, it will be evident in my words. I want to write off my own accord and not because  I feel compelled to churn something out for the sake of it. It is neither  fair to you, nor myself .

Somewhere along the line, I also want to strike a balance between a good piece of writing and a sufficient round of editing my work. At the moment, it’s a bit skewed towards over editing. I envy those of you who can just hit “publish” without thinking too much.

hmmm… much to think about….umm see what I mean?

So essentially, while my blogging mojo is officially MIA , inspiration still remains afloat and plenty and that my friends is not such a bad thing.

Perhaps this bout of bloggers inertia is needed.

be still. be calm. be still. be calm…be still…

Time to turn in now but I will be back, I know …sooner than you think!

Have you experienced blogger inertia ? How did you deal with it?

Image credit

Linking up with the lovely Grace because it’s FYBF :)

 

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chutney and dips recipes

Fancy A Chutney ? Let’s Get Dippin’

Disclaimer : This recipe was created as part of collaboration with Kambrook. The Essentials Direct Drive  food processor featured in this recipe was kindly sent to me by Kambrook, no cash was exchanged.

Wish you could whip up delicious dips and chutneys out of nowhere? Do you dream of being the quintessential party queen with your own special array of entrees where everyone’s wants to know how you crafted that mouth watering dip or the mini bruschetta. Well your search my friends is over! I am here today with 3 different healthy and delicious dips and chutneys to make entertaining fast, simple and very delicious. Make any or all of these for the family or for a party and I promise you, your kitchen will be ruling.

Right…. Let’s get cooking !

dips and chutney recipes

First up –  Hummus . Who doesn’t love hummus? This recipe was shared with me by a work colleague and friend - every time Ms.S brings this dip to an office morning tea, it  is an absolute sell out…I kid you not…

photo 3 (8)

Hummus

You will need :

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt or as per taste

 Next  :

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
  • Add a splash of  water and process again until quite smooth and dollopy consistency.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and paprika before serving.

photo 1 (24)

~Notes~

here’s a special tip , serve your hummus with some freshly toasted turkish bread.

Up next is Hari Chutney or Green Chutney.

photo 2 (24)

I love the delicious versatility of this one.

Here are a few ways green chutney can be used :

  • dipping sauce for samosas and spring rolls
  • dip with rice crackers, pita crisps. mini toasts or mini papadams.
  • mix with a little bit of butter and use as a sandwich spread.
  • Use as a marinade for fish and barbecued chicken
  • serve as a side accompaniment with barbecued meats.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon in a cup of  whipped yogurt for a jiffy Indian or Pakistani style raita or mint sauce

Tempting is the word!

Green or Hari Chutney

You will need :

  • 2 bunches coriander
  • 1 bunch mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 long green chillies ( tone down if you don’t want it to be too spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt or as per taste

Next :

  • Wash the mint and coriander bunches thoroughly and drain well.
  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
  • Add a little water if necessary , the chutney should have a pesto like consistency.

photo 3 (7)

~Notes~

This chutney can be frozen. Divide into small containers and freeze.

And lastly…

Are you a fan of guacamole but think you’ll stuff it up if you tried to make it yourself ? How about a healthy guacamole with the goodness of spinach and yogurt? Give this one a go! It’s tasty and good for you :)

Adapted from Two Peas And Their Pod.

avacado, spinach and yogurt dip

Avacado, Spinach and Yogurt Dip

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt 
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks
  • 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño chillies
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Next :

  • Place the yogurt, avocados, garlic, coriander, jalapeños, lemon juice, and cumin in a food processor.
  • Mix until smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

~Notes~

Serve with baked pita crisps,  corn chips, cut up vegetable fingers or use as a sandwich spread.

And we are done!

What I love about all three of these recipes is how the ingredients tie into each other, my favourite of the three though would have to be the hari or green chutney. Top marks for taste and versatility.

Your turn ! What is your favourite dip/chutney and why?

P.s That mini bruschetta recipe, I’ll be back with that one!

 

 

 

 

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{Wordless Wednesday} Make Today Count.

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Life is short, a limited edition, a single shot.

 Every moment matters.

Every word –  said , unsaid.

Every action.

Every step.

Every breath.

Perhaps you are about to give up on something…

or someone ?

Don’t.

Is someone you know drowning? Burdened? Overwhelmed?

Give them a hand.

A smile.

A hug.

A kiss.

Who am I ? Why am I telling you what to do? Isn’t there enough inspiration on Pinterest, you ask?

In my eyes,

 I am a catalyst. I am an enabler.I am a reminder.

Yet in the bigger scheme, I am no one….but a tiny sliver of me hopes to stir something in you.

Resurrect your faith. Evoke compassion.

Push you off the edge so you will learn to soar.

I believe in you.

Now walk away knowing this.

Make TODAY Count.

No questions today but I would love if you left me a note to say how did you make TODAY count?

linking up today with my lovely friend Grace because its FYBF :)

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chicken, brown lentil and quinoa recipe

{Giveaway} Quinoalicious- Brown Lentil, Chicken and Quinoa Soup And Slow Cooker.

Disclaimer : This recipe was created as part of a collaboration with Kitchenware Direct. The Morphy Richards Slow Cooker featured in this recipe was sent through to me for recipe development and creation. No cash has been exchanged.

Love a warm, hearty and nutritious meal on a freezing cool night? Me too!

With autumn here and winter around the corner, it’s time to give that crockpot or slow cooker a good run. Soups, stews, casseroles, curries are all great on those freezing weeknights when you really just want a quick and easy meal. I love slow cookers because you can pretty much throw all the ingredients in together which takes less than 10 minutes with good prep, switch the cooker on and head off for the day with a delicious winter warmer waiting for you when you get home. Perfect!

A bit of Facebook research I did  last month suggested that some of you mamas out there also love the convenience of a slow cooker on a winter night when you are coming home after an evening of sport or after school activities. Great point mums! Thank you !!

With my recent love for quinoa, I wanted to develop a soup/stew recipe that incorporates the goodness, texture and flavours of the super grain. Using the base of a simple brown lentil and vegetable soup, I added chicken and quinoa to bulk it up. The result , super success!

chicken quinoa brown lentil soup

 

Brown Lentil, Chicken and Quinoa Soup

Serves –  3-4

You will need :

  • 450 grams of chicken ( I like to use chicken with bones in a soup like his as it brings out more flavour, you can use boneless if preferred)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 carrot cubed
  • 2 stalks celery thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • (pre-soak the lentils in water for at least 2 hours or overnight if planning to cook in the morning)
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly diced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa rinsed
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chicken stock (add  another cup if you’d like more soup)
  • 1 red chilli chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil/little bit extra for coating pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley and lemon wedges for garnishing

quinoa brown lentill chicken soup 2

Next :

  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a small frying pan and fry off the onions and garlic until they are almost transluscent. Set aside.
  • Coat the slow cooker ceramic pot with an olive oil spray.
  • Drain the lentils and add in all the other ingredients including garlic and onion to the slow cooker apart from the lemon wedges and parsley.
  • Cook on medium heat for 8-10 hours.
  • Serve up garnished with parsley sprigs and an lemon wedge.

Yum!

~Notes~

You can serve this dish with some crusty wholegrain bread rolls but in my experience, the soup itself is quite filling.

{Giveaway – Winner Announced}

Firstly, my apologies for the delay in picking a winner and a massive THANKYOU to every one of you who entered the comp. You guys are too good at these comps and that makes it very hard to pick a winner because each response had so much merit. But this is a game and so according to the rules , I must pick a winner…drum roll please…..

Kerry Santillo

You have just won a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker !!! Congratulations :) Please contact me with your mailing address on mumschic@gmail.com – Well done !

 

Now here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for !

Courtesy of  my friends at Kitchenware Direct , I am giving away a Morphy Richards Slow Cooker to make your winter meals a breeze.

Ready to give slow cooking a whirl or know someone who’d love a new slow cooker? psssst maybe a mother’s day pressie?

morphy richards slow cooker

Here’s how to enter :

Simply do One, Two, or all Three of the following. Just be sure to leave A SEPARATE COMMENT for each one that you do so that you can earn an entry for each.

1.Please tell us why you’d love to win a slow cooker.

2.Please like us on Facebook or tell us if you already do so

3.Share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so. Help spread the word !!

T&Cs

  • all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
  • open to Australians only
  • ONE winner will be chosen
  • entries will close at midnight on Thursday, 2nd May 2013
  • winners will be announced on Friday, 3rd May 2013
  • this is a game of skill and creativity
  • judge’s decision is final
  • prizes will be sent by a third party via post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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green smoothie recipe

Pick Me Up Baby ! {Just Another Green Smoothie Recipe}

Green smoothies are taking over the world …literally! They are healthy, clean,vitamin and nutrient rich and packed with all sorts of amazing goodness. I know I know, the thought of drinking a drink made out of spinach, celery and parsley is making you go blegh but don’t click away just yet. I promise you with the right ingredients, you can make your green smoothies taste delicious and very, very appealing. Plus there is the promise of myriad health benefits which outweigh any doubts you may have.

green smoothie 2

Imagine having all those fruits and greens in one sitting!

Top 5 reasons you should be drinking green smoothies daily :

High in Fibre – Compared to fruit and vegetable juices where only the juice is extracted, whole fruit and veggies are  blended keeping all that amazing fibre intact along with all the vitamins and minerals.

Easy digestion – Being raw and blended smooth, this green potion digests very easily. Our body is not working over time to break down heavy, processed foods.

More veggies in a glass – How often do we really consume the recommended daily intake of vegetables? Green smoothies are a great way to pack in those veggies without even realising it – with the right recipe and taste, you can even get the kids to join in !

Detox – Feeling heavy, sluggish and bloated? Go on a green smoothie detox. It will inarguably leave you feeling envigorated, energetic and revitalised. You may also want to try the Lemon,Cucumber and Mint Detox.

Health, Health, Health - No one else is responsible for your personal health other you! The effects of green smoothies on your long term health cannot be refuted. Weight loss , better digestion , cancer prevention, clearer skin, hair fall prevention, increased energy, wards off common colds, increased blood circulation, lowered depression, curbed appetite and cravings for processed food to name just a few!

Hooked ? Excellent! So you are asking , what’s next ? How do I make my own green drink? Now there are literally thousands of recipes out there which make the whole process difficult and somewhat confusing. Where do I begin ? Lets go back to basics, a simple recipe to start off with, tried and tested for taste and that every so crucial yummilicious factor. As you slowly get used to the taste, you can add and experiment with more ingredients. I will be sharing my own creations as well but for now, without further adieu, here it is!

green smoothie 1

Pick Me Up Baby!

(Serves 4)

You will need :

  • A good, solid blender.
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 apple cut into slices
  • 1 banana cut into chunks
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 lemon peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 orange peeled and roughly chopped
  • handful of grapes
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley 
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon raw psyllium powdered husks (optional)*
  • handful of salad rocket leaves (optional)

Next :

Whizz away ina blender until smooth. Serve up!

~Notes~

  • As you may have noticed I have not added any sweeteners but if you find the taste too tart for your liking, feel free to throw in a handful of dates. Dates are iron rich and a great natural sweetener.
  • I have added psyllium in my smoothie recipe as an added source of fibre for those suffering from constipation and high cholesterol.
  • Green smoothies can be stored in the fridge for up to 48 hours so it is okay to prepare a night ahead if you are worried about waking everyone up with the blender whizzing away in the morning.
  • Makes for a perfect start to the day and is also recommended as a pre and post workout drink.

So what are you waiting for? Get whizzing!

Have you recently started drinking green smoothies? Share your experience with us! Do you have a favorite recipe, leave us a link in the comments. If you are new to the green smoothie revolution , would you consider starting after reading this post ?

 

 

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Giggle and hoot magazine issue 1

{Giveaway} Giggle And Hoot Magazine.

Disaclaimer : A copy of the magazine was received for review. No cash has been exchanged.

Do you know a little Giggle And Hoot fan ? ABC magazines have put together a brand new magazine based on the popular kids TV series. Packed with fun , creative activities like maths tasks, make your own hoot craft kit,find a word, colouring ins, share and care rewards chart and 70 bonus stickers   the Giggle And Hoot magazine offers some hootastic fun to be had these school holidays!  I particularly love the colorful and attractive layout, there is a happy, vibrant feel to the magazine which I think will definitely appeal to little pre-schoolers and Giggle and Hoot fans.

Giggle and hoot magazine

The Giggle And Hoot magazine Issue 1 launches today (17th April 2013). RRP 5.95

{Giveaway} Winners Announced

Lauren Winzar

Narelle Rock

Jane Mckay

 

A big thankyou to all the participants. Winners can contact me on mumschic@gmail.com with their mailing address to organise prizes.

And here’s the awesome part. We are teaming up with our friends at ABC magazines to give away not 1 , not 2 but 3 copies of the magazine! Details below  :)

To enter :

Tell us what is your best strategy to keep the kids entertained in the school holidays?

Please like us on Facebook and Twitter

Share this competition on your Facebook profile set to public and leave a comment here to let us know.

T&Cs

*only one entry per person
*all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
*THREE winners will be chosen
*entries will close at midnight on Sunday, 21st April 2013
*Winners will be announced on Monday, 22nd April 2013
*judge’s decision is final
*prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash
*prizes will be sent by a third party via post

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Burmese chicken curry

Hidden Gems – Burmese Chicken Curry.

Disclaimer : This recipe was created as part of collaboration with Kambrook. The Essentials Direct Drive  food processor featured in this recipe was kindly sent to me by Kambrook, no cash was exchanged.

Burma also known as Mayanmar  is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia bordered by ChinaThailandIndiaLaos and Bangladesh. Its population of over 60 million makes it the world’s 24th most populous country and the second largest country in Southeast Asia. (Source : wiki)

 My earliest memory of sampling Burmese food was mum’s Pakistani rendition of the very popular Burmese dish Khow Suey - similar to the Asian Laksa. . Little did I know, there is so much more to Burmese cuisine than meets the eye.  A couple of years ago, a dear friend introduced me to a little curry shop called the Burmese Curry House here in Canberra. There is nothing glamourous or posh about this little joint  but the food my friends, is to die for and the spill of the lunch hour queue well outside the shop is testament to this. I was smitten. Family run, low cost, delicious, home style Burmese cooking. At $7 a plate, what more could you ask for ?

 Fairly soon, both  Fab Son 1 and I became fans of  the curry place. What strikes me most about Burmese cuisine is  how similar it is to Pakistani food and yet there is something very distinct about it. Perhaps it is more fragrant ? Spicier? Whichever the case, my love for Burmese food led me on a quest to find the perfect Burmese curry recipe. I did and I cannot stop raving on about it. Makes a perfect weeknight dinner and is grand enough to serve at a dinner party.

Try it , you won’t regret it I promise.

 

Burmese Chicken Curry

 ( Serves 2  with enough left over for the next day’s lunches – scale up to serve more )

You will need :

  • 500 grams thigh fillets cut into 2 inch pieces
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 medium onions roughly chopped in chunks
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 small 2 cm piece ginger
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red chilli fresh 
  • 3-4 tbsp peanut oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of half a lemon or a small stick of lemon grass
  • chopped fresh coriander (optional)

Next :

  • Boil a cup of your favourite rice to go with the curry. My personal suggestion would be either basmati or jasmine.
  • Marinate the chicken in turmeric, salt and curry powder and set aside.
  • In a food processor, combine onions, garlic, paprika, chilli powder and ginger and grind it into a paste. I used the pulse mode to make it into a finer paste.
  • Heat oil in a thick, heavy based pan and fry the onion/garlic/ginger paste over medium heat for about 8- 10 minutes until it begins to caramelize and becomes very fragrant.
  • The caramelizing is an important step ensuring that the paste doesn’t burn. While the onions are caramelizing  grind the tomatoes and chilli to a fine paste.
  • Once the onions are  a golden brown color (pictured), add the marinated chicken and fry for another few minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir for a further 3-4minutes or until oil separates from the mixture- Again this step is very important to achieve the right flavour and avoid rawness in the curry
  • Add a cup of hot water to cover the chicken, lemon juice/lemongrass and fish sauce. Stir well , season with salt if needed and bring to a simmer.
  • Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is completely tender. Uncover and further simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serving Suggestion

Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and roasted ground red chillies. Serve on a bed of freshly steamed rice.

Enjoy!

What is your favourite cuisine and why?

ETA – Negotiations are now underway with the ladies at the Burmese Curry Place to share their secret recipes. They have divulged a little , much of those tips have been used in the above recipe :)

 

Linking up with the very lovely Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF.

 

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8 Habits That Stop You From Living A Positive Life.

Credits : This post has been co-written by myself and a friend who prefers to remain anonymous – compliments can come to me , hate mail can go to the other writer :)

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Image Credit

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”  - Mahatma Gandhi

 

Positivity. Its a state of mind that we all seek. We want our lives to be characterized by certainty, warmth, and affirmation. We want to get up quickly when we fall. We want to keep going forward when we hit those roadblocks of life. We don’t want be in a state of languish. We want to progress. We want to say NO when we need to say NO.  When we say yes, we want to live up to our promises. But, staying positive is easier said than done. For a few people, it comes very naturally. You have definitely met these sunshine people in your lives. Their genetic disposition does not let them get bogged down. For the rest of us, who often feel we are stuck in a rut, how do we think and act positively? And avoid the negative spiral? What are those things that prevent us from staying positive?

 

Insecurity

Its very natural for us to feel insecure. We start off ignorant in our lives, oblivious of our surroundings, happy babies having little desires apart from food, sleep and comfort, but as some time progresses, our desires, our dreams and goals, our sense of right and wrong, do’s and don’ts are shaped by our family, friends and society. People around us start having different expectations out of us, how we look, how we talk, what we wear, what we work on. The list is endless. Our sense of who we are and who others want us to be, often conflict severely  - we end up feeling we lack many things and insecure about our real or perceived weaknesses.

Stop thinking that you are not good enough.

Don’t get dragged into this vicious cycle.  You are only as good as you think you are,  and being insecure does not let your life to be governed by positivity and calm. It impacts your life in ways you don’t realize, you extrapolate your insecurities onto your relationships, family and friend alike. You become fearful, you feel restricted, you feel you have no choice, you become defensive, you ignore good advice, you become over-eager to prove that you are right, you want show that you are in control,  you withdraw yourself and eventually, you miss out on the opportunities provided by life. You are what you are.

 

Guilt

Here’s a statistic - According to a recent study, 96% of women feel guilty at least once a day, having a destructive effect on our health. Are you not spending enough time with your children? Check. Were you too hard on them? Check. Did you put on weight? Check. Did you put your partner off by not living up to his expectations? Check. Did you disappoint your boss? Check. Did you spend money on yourself? Check.  Did you have some “me-time”? Check. Did you forget someone’s birthday. Did you… ? Check.

The biggest downside of feeling guilty is – you say yes to things that you should say no to and vice versa. Its perfectly fine to feel guilty with the various situations of our lives, sometimes its even helps us, at other times it harms us. Snap out of it as soon as possible and take decisions based on the merit of the situation and not what your guilt driven hyper-anxious mind tells you to do.

 

Lack of Confidence

Do you find yourself constantly justifying your actions to others? Do you react immediately to criticism? Do you shy away from conflict situations? Do you believe you are destined to a fate, however unhappy it is? You lack the confidence to question status quo and think and act positively.

Confidence is a combination of self-efficacy and self-esteem. What is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is a state of mind in which we believe we have mastered a particular skill or a particular situation really well and we are not afraid of having to face tricky situations around them. Its the type of confidence that leads people to accept challenges and persist in the face of adversity. Self-esteem is about how you view where you stand with respect to the rest of the world. Its a sense that we are virtuous and competent in general and that we can succeed. How do you become confident and self-assured? Prepare and plan well, work hard, look at your past successes and believe in your strengths, weave your actions around your priorities and program your mind to feel good about yourself.

 

Lack of Motivation

Do you often feel deflated? Do you feel nothing really can improve your circumstances? Have you stopped celebrating the small gifts of life ( as simple as a stranger giving a you pleasant smile, the sight of a fresh white rose)  ? Do you just do the bare minimum to keep things going? Are you not able muster the courage to change course? Have you resigned yourself to a fate? Do you think its okay to fail? Perhaps, a dash of motivation will add a bit of spark in your life. A bit of passion, a bit of courage to break free. “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” – said a wise man once, so find some motivation and seize control of your life.

 

Procrastination

Do you keep putting things off that you should be doing at a priority? You are procrastinating! So many people believe they (or others)  procrastinate because they are lazy or unproductive. Well, thats a common misconception. The truth is that procrastination has nothing to do with laziness. It is more of a weakness to reign in your mind to do something that you do not like doing. Or maybe you are too overwhelmed with something, find it too hard and keep putting it off. And fear not, even nobel laureates procrastinate. But chronic procrastination can pull us down in several ways, to the point it affects our performance at school or work and harms our relationship with dear ones. Can you get better? Ofcourse you can. There are tons and tons of literature on it already. Go that extra step, train your mind, set personal incentives. A lot of the work we procrastinate on are mere chores, so we need to not feel guilty and give ourselves an incentive or two once we finish up. Go forth and grab that extra chocolate.

 

Intolerance

Intolerance for and outright rejection of other’s opinions and beliefs makes you build a vicious shell around yourself.  A shell that is increasingly hard to break as your life progresses. A shell that can poison your mind. Whether it is cultural, social, or religious,  intolerance will make you absolutely closed to new and positive ideas. Intolerance and insecurity are also brothers in arms, so one feeds off the other.  Positivity can be rubbed on to you by others only when you are willing to listen.  True dialogue and exchange of ideas can only occur when each participant acknowledges that the other may just have something of worth to add, if not in absolute truth, then at least in a point of consideration. Free your mind.

 

Not accepting Failure

Here is a quote for you about failure.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”  - Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player ever, so he knows a thing or two about success and failure. Not able to accept failure will refrain you from success the next time around. Acknowledge and embrace your failures, make them your best teacher. Wear your scars. You can’t stand up if you don’t even realize you have fallen.

 

Hating Change

The only thing constant in this world is change. Yet, why do so many of us hate it so strongly?  Why do we hold on to the old for our dear lives, when deep down, we know the New is the way forward. We hate change because it challenges us to rethink the way things have been in the past and the near future. We hate change because it requires us to reprogram our mindset about the way things should be. We are conditioned to accept the same thing over and over and over again. Some of it is basic human instinct, some of it is being enforced onto us by otheres for their benefit. All change is not good, and stability is important, but the risk of not being amenable to change, not adapting fast and missing out on opportunities, is something one should consider. Life’s course changes often without anyone realizing it. Embrace and acknowledge it, prepare for it and like everything else you wil adapt to it.

 

So those were the eight habits that pull you back in life.  Have you been affected by any of these? Have you gotten rid of any of these, and if so, how did you do it? You are welcome to pen them down in the comments. In the meanwhile, I leave you with a Deepak Chopra quote to ponder upon.

You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.

 

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lemon mint cucumber detox water 1

Lemon Mint Cucumber {The Delicious Detox}

Last weekend I ate way too much chocolate for my own good! Did you? .

Ridden with guilt,  I decided to start the lemon mint water ritual again this weekend. I haven’t done it for a few weeks now and the effects are noticeable – sluggish, bloated and my skin’s not as clear among other things. So if you are feeling anything like me, jump right in and start doing the detox, make it a regular thing or as a two-day detox, either way it’s a win win. As someone who doesn’t drink a lot of water (bad , I know) , I have found that I can easily drink 6-8 glasses of this drink which is perfect. Upon a friend’s suggestion , I am throwing in some cucumber too, you can leave it out if you like.

A few of the many known benefits of including lemon mint water in your everyday diet are :

Weight Loss? Don’t mind if I do – Lemons are said to curb hunger pangs thereby reducing trips to the fridge and pantry between meals.

Goodbye Heartburn – Known for their digestive benefits, lemons help flush out toxins and impurities from our system. Say goodbye to constant heartburn and indigestion.

Bloating Begone – Both lemons and cucumbers are diuretic so your body does not retain excessive water making you feel less bloated. Cucumbers are also very high in fibre which again helps the flushing out process as explained in point 2.

Get The Glow -Who doesn’t want flawless skin?  Drink the magic potion, your skin will go all clear, fresh and radiant. I promise.

Got you hooked haven’t I? Alright without further adieu, here is the recipe to the aforementioned magic potion. 

lemon mint cucumber detox water

Lemon, Mint and Cucumber – The Delicious Detox

You will need : 

  • 2 litres water
  • 1/2 cucumber sliced
  • 12-14 mint leaves
  • 1 lemon sliced into rings

Next :

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a jug or a pitcher and refrigerate over night. This allows all the flavours to perfectly infuse.

*Start with a single glass first thing in the morning and build up as you go. Now lets get detoxing!

Do you have a favourite detox? Share with us in comments section below .

 

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The $100 Start Up By Chris Guillebeau

For This Man, The World Has Come To An End.

chris-sydney

 

Image Credit

For a rare breed of men, the world is exceedingly boundary-less. Today,  I am talking about a 35 year old man named Chris Guillebeau, for whom the world has literally,come to an end.

Chris is the founder and architect of the Art of Non-Conformity and bestselling author of the book  - The $100 Startup, which is at #3 on Amazon in the entrepreneurship category. Chris started on his travails quite early in life.  He volunteered with Mercy Ships, which is a medical charity in West Africa for years, right after graduation from The University of Washington. This experience turned out to be the corner-stone of his philosophy around traveling, community service and fundraising, which he has written profusely about in his blog.

In 2006, he decided to travel the world, officially and visit a hundred odd countries in a couple of years. And then in 2009, when he finished travelling half of the world,  he promised himself to push on and visit ALL the countries in the world. Day before yesterday, he tweeted this -

 What an inspiration and what a journey! Go on and read his blog, its full of great reads like How To Be Awesome . Coming to think of it, I have traveled a few countries myself, but even the thought of traveling the whole world feels surreal.

What do you think? Do you have a dream to one day travel the world ? Have you achieved part of that dream?

For those interested, I just discovered while researching this post that Chris was also a keynote speaker at the Austrlian Pro Blogger event in 2012 so if you were there, I’d love to hear what you thought of Chris’ talks?

Chime in with your comments below! 

 disclaimer : This is NOT  a sponsored post or paid endorsement for Chris Guillebeau , I think his is a fantastic story which had to be shared.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Melancholy.

I am a  mess today. After a fairly eventful long weekend spent having mostly fun with my Fab 2, you’d think I would skip, jump and happy dance my way to the next weekend which is now technically just 3 days away.

Instead, I am miserable. And moping.

And melancholic.

Quite simply, I miss my family. A part of me wants to pack out and be with them ASAP, that’s the emotional, sentimental part of course. The one that knows no reason.

I want to banter with my siblings, not on skype or google talk or whatsapp but in real life. I want to share meals with everyone. And monsoons. And mangoes. And all other seasonal fruit.

I want to hang out in mum’s lounge room post dinner, sip on green tea and have mindless discussions on the benefits of Apple versus Samsung.

I want to stay up late with my sister way past when everyone else is asleep nibbling on whatever we can find in mum’s pantry and make fun of old bollywood films.

I want to close my eyes and just silently hear my parents talk. Soak up all that love.

Tomorrow , I will probably get over it but today I am melancholic, today, more than anything, I want to be family.

family

Taken at my brother’s wedding back in 2010. Its a favourite.

Clockwise : Yours truly, younger brother and his wife and baby sister :)

Image Credit – This picture was snapped by the lovely Madiha of  Moments By Madiha.

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday with the awesome Trish from My Little Drummer Boys

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When Your Mum Is Petrified Of Single Lane Highways.

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2 super active boys, 1 almost insane mama and an extra long weekend. How do you keep them entertained and keep your sanity somewhat intact is the question? The past few weeks seem to have blitzed past me with a job interview, being sick and of course being away having too much fun at DPCON13. So clearly I hadn’t had much time to plan ahead for the 4 day break and it wasn’t until Thursday that alarm bells started to go off in my head ….I needed a plan ! Something economical but still felt like a holiday?!

So I thought why not do what every other Canberran does on the long weekend? Escape to the coast obviously…… the beaches, the change of weather and  scenery are apparently good for the soul. Agreed but I had a teeny weeny problem. I don’t like highways, especially windy single lane highways…So while I did toss around the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone numerous times, I must admit I chickened out in the end, which is probably not a bad thing. I freeze up on single lane highways, all anxious and knotty in my tummy, not exactly favourable conditions when you have children in the backseat.

With driving out of question, it was time to explore public transport options so I rang the interstate trains to see if they had any seats available from Canberra to Merimbula

” only going in” , said the lady ” It IS the Easter long weekend you know”

Err thank you lady for pointing it out and making me feel guiltier. To say  I quickly hung up would be an understatement.

Right , next option – buses to Bateman’s Bay. All booked out. Told you all of Canberra holidays down at the coast.

Excellent! Not.

The weekend didn’t look good, didn’t look good at all. I had to break it to the boys that the “surprise adventure” ( read ill planned getaway) was not happening.

Initially there was backlash then alternatives (Can’t we just fly there mummy ?  was one kind suggestion. Yes son, one day when we win the lotto and own our own fleet or something)  and finally resolutions. I like being in the resolution/problem solving zone.

So in the end while we did not end up going here. 

merimbula sapphire coast

Which would have been nice obviously.

(Image credit )

We ended up doing all this instead !

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Lazed about at home watching repeats of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and had lots of cuddles. I actually had a nap! I had forgotten the meaning of the word ‘nap’.

 

Easter weekend  We kicked and tackled, fed the ducks and swans, snuck chcolate eggs and counted eggs to make sure the Easter bunny played fair. We practiced some photography, decorated cupcakes and took cool duckface selfies.

And of course we ate ungodly amounts of chocolate.

Image (18)

We stakeboarded. I mean they skateboarded while I lazed around and watched them but “we” just sounds better.

Image (19)

We skateboarded more. AND we were allowed spiders which kind of ended up in several brain freeze moments but that’s okay. WIN!

Moral of the story : When your mum is petrified of single lane highways, you make the best of what you have. And what you have may not be that bad after all.

What did you do this long weekend? How much chocolate did you eat? Are you scared of single lane highways?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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dpcon13 gala dinner

DPCON13 Two Days, A Castle And Inspiration Unlimited.

Last week, around a 150 Australian mum and dad bloggers came together over two days at the Digital Parents Conference 2013 aka DPCON13. Not only was it a great occasion to learn more about emerging trends in the blogosphere, mingle and network with peers, seek mentorship from some of the best but also to be inspired, humbled and touched by  the most heart breaking and  moving stories of  loss,heartbreak, love, hope and strength.

Also, for so many of us first timers,  DPCON13  presented an opportunity to finally be able to meet in person with so many of our favourite bloggers/friends. I must admit, the lead up to the event had been a very messy one for me, very messy indeed! So I may have been part consumed with mother guilt for those two days in Sydney.

Feeling overwhelmed, excited, proud, nervous all rolled into one, I made my way into the nothing short of magnificent Curzon Hall that first day.

curzon hall

What a grand venue!

Being greeted so affectionately at the registration desk by the very lovely Tina Gray of TGDM was such a perfect way to kick off the conference.

dpcon13

Once inside the main hall, the anxiety of being a first timer slowly peeled away. The ambience, warm, happy and vibrant. Smiles everywhere you turned to look. I knew I was amongst my own. I also knew for the next two days, I could be glued to my phone/laptop/social media streams and it wouldn’t be considered rude. Win!

tweeting away at dpcon

And so I tweeted and tweeted and tweeted.

wake up sydney kindness cards

Not at all limited to these but some of the sessions that I enjoyed incredibly  were :

Can Blogging Increase Kindness – Jono Fisher from Wake Up Sydney  kicked off the conference with a great keynote on the power of kindness. How a simple  act of giving has the  potential to go a long way. Pay it forward, make kindness contagious!

Blogging Through Adversity – 3 strong women and their stories of heartbreak and loss. How do you find the strength to cope with losing the ones you hold dearest? Hats off to these women for baring their hearts and souls.

The Myth Of Having It All –  Asking the question , what does “all” really  mean? A fantastic discussion with some great thoughts all around . I will share a couple of sentences that were said which struck a real chord with me.

Make what you have matter rather than trying to have it all.

Most women give up their powers because they think they don’t have any.

Thought provoking stuff!

Speaking of girl power, here are some uber awesome chicks I got to hang out with at the conference!

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clockwise : Rhianna from AParenting Life ,  Salz from Salz Dummy Spit and Dea from Mama Stylista planning cheeky exits, Dea,myself, Ang from School Of Mum and Salz, Catherine , myself and Salz,Dea and myself at the photo booth, beautiful room with a stool, Salz and Dea pretending to read, Johanna from Strawberry Communications and CJ from 10%inspired, The castle in all its glory.

{Guys, I wrote this piece very late into the night and never got around to asking if it was okay to feature your pics but if anyone would like to have their picture removes, please feel free to email me – Thanks :) }

Another great session was My Blog, My Story. I was a bit late for this one but so glad I made it. This is where bloggers come  on stage and share a post on how they began their blogging journey. Some regaled us with their humour and brilliant expressions while others were courageous in sharing stories so close to their hearts, they reminded us to be so grateful for all our blessings and then some.  By the end of this session, I doubt that there would have been a dry eye  in the hall.

Sometimes life gives you a pretty crappy hand but we  must learn how to play it well..

Through tragedy, I found my path.

Two other sessions I found particularly impressive were to do with monetising your blog :

Charge your worth.

Marketing to Digital Parents. Win / Win / Win Collaboration with Brands

Some fantastic tips there too!

dpcon13 gala dinner

The event came to a final close with everyone getting together for a grand gala dinner preceded by some exquisite canapés and drinks at the castle rooftop garden. Great company, delicious food, awesome  music and guess what ? My kids have renewed respect for me thanks to the  DPCON13 harlem shake ! I promise you it makes us mummy and daddy bloggers look like rock stars.

dpcon13 belkin charger

Alright! So what did I learn from DPCON13? Let me try and sum it up in 5 I mean 8 short points.

  1. Kindness is a way of life.
  2. Blogging is not broadcasting, it is communicating ( Thank you Nikki Parkinson – Styling you)
  3. Sometimes people aren’t who they seem to be and sometimes they are much more than you originally thought.
  4. You may lose track of day, time and significant  political happenings while engrossed at a Bloggers Conference. Hey at one stage, we thought Julia Gillard wouldn’t be PM anymore.
  5. Every time you stumble, every time you hit rock bottom, remember that there is someone else out there who has had worse than you. Be strong, be courageous, stand tall. Be YOU.
  6. Never, never, never give up.
  7. You do not attempt to wing cupcake decorating. Ever.
  8. Purple iPhone chargers are the best thing to happen to iPhones. No seriously.

I came away from DPCON13  even more overwhelmed than I had felt while going in. So many emotions, so much to take back, mull over, countless inspiring stories and a head buzzing with ideas on how to go forward. It has taken me a good 4 days to finally emerge from my dpcon13 happy bubble but I come away deeply humbled and grateful, much more aware of my weaknesses but also my strengths. I come away more determined to go places. And I suppose that’s not such a bad thing after all!

So thankyou DPCON13 for this fabulous celebration of the blogger community. Brenda Gaddi, Melissa Gassman and the rest of the team , great show guys!

I leave you today with a picture that is special to me. She exudes warmth and humour in her words.  She surprised me with her considered compassion as she hosted the very emotionally charged Blogging Through Adversity session and she had me in stitches when she spoke of  Defriending Grandma.  She’s funny, she’s witty and a truly wonderful girl inside out, I am so glad I got a chance to hang out with her for a bit.

dpcon13 -1

The lovely Grace from With Some Grace

Linking up with Grace ofcourse for FYBF.

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Marble Cupcakes -Too Divine To Miss!

This is hands down the BEST cupcake recipe ever! Use as a base and throw in a swirly chocolate marble effect and the results are so very pleasing. I wish I could have captured the look of pure joy on FS2′s face when I asked him the other day how he liked the cupcake in his lunchbox. He asked for one the next day and the next. So did FS1.

Moist, light, simple, quick, child approved and ever so divine, what’s not to love about these delicious cupcakes? With Easter around the corner, I recommend you make a batch of these to keep the little and the big ones happy. They are perfect for picnics, road trips,camping or even to bring over to a friend’s. But really, any excuse will do!

 

marble cupcake recipe

Go on you know you want to make them !

Marble Cupcakes – Too Divine To Miss

Makes 16

You will need :

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 125 grams butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 16 patty/cupcake cases

Preparation :

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 or 160 if your oven is fan forced
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Slowly add eggs mixing in well.
  • Sift the flour and the baking powder together
  • Start by slowly adding the flour and mixing the batter at a medium speed, add in vanilla essence.
  • Alternate between milk and flour until all the ingredients are combined
  • Now take 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl and beat in the cocoa powder, this mixture will be used to create the marble effect.
  • Take the chocolate mixture and pour it in top of the vanilla batter. Use a skewer or toothpick to create a marble effect, do not over mix the batter.
  • Place patty cases in a cupcake tray and fill about 3/4 full with the batter.
  • Bake for around 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool.

And that’s it ! Done! How easy was that?

You may choose to ice these cupcakes with a favourite icing such as chocolate but I found them to be really delicious just as hey are!

What is your favourite cupcake icing?

That’s it from me for now but if you happen to try this recipe, could you please come back and review? Thank you! Hope you all have a wonderful Easter break – don’t eat too many chocolates! Actually, just ignore me!

Linking up with the lovely Grace from With Some Grace because it’s FYBF ofcourse !

 

 

 

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basket

Savvy Spaces Returns – More On Simple Decluttering

Our very own savvy queen of organisation, Miss K is back on the blog today continuing with the keep those benchtops clean with some very simple but handy tips on keeping the clutter in check. Over to you, Miss K.

Savvy Spaces Returns – More on simple declutering.

Today, I will share some of the ways I try to keep my kitchen bench top area only 15 mins away from being tidy.  The key message to focus on is that clearing a space, clears the mind.   No one wants to become a slave to housework or spend their days cleaning.  With the right systems and storage solutions in place, finding that clear space should only take you minutes.

kitchen bench

Your kitchen will have items that live on the bench top.  However, we want to avoid getting into the trap of STORING items that don’t belong here.  STORING more often occurs when items don’t have a designated ‘home’. 

My kitchen does become a temporary holding zone for many items entering into our home.  This is made worse by the fact that we enter via the kitchen door.  It is therefore imperative that there are some storage solutions in place to help with a quick tidy up.

My Personalised Storage Solutions:

KEYS – Do you find keys get placed onto the benches?  Do you ever get frustrated trying to look for your keys?  I have our keys hanging on a mug holder.  You could consider a key tree or other solution so that they are always placed into the SAME spot when you walk in the door.  No more searching for lost keys!!  Due to security issues, I am not advocating having your keys in a prominent place in the kitchen.  However, these ideas could still be used in your “Hiding Spot”.  The main point is PLACE YOUR KEYS IN THE SAME SPOT ALWAYS, wherever that may be.

key tree 2 key tree 1

 

 

PAPERS – I have a communication station in my kitchen area.  I have a calendar pinned open on the current month, as well as a weekly planner and I also pin important school notes, birthday invites, extracurricular activities notices and any other important upcoming info to the pinup board.  Even if you don’t have a large space, you can set up a pin up board on the back of a cupboard door or in the pantry.  Cork boards are commonly available from many stores or you can also use cork tiles to create the same effect.

comms station

INCOMING MAIL  - Do you tend to bring and drop your mail in the kitchen area?  We are very guilty of this in our home.  To ensure a quick tidy up, I have this box system that looks like a book.  This cost me $10 in a variety store and it’s a great way to stash away clutter creating mail.  A cute little basket would work equally well.  The key though is to ensure you set a regular time to move your mail for processing or filing.

junk mail

I love how I can throw all the mail and paperwork into this book in 1 minute, creating an instant tidy look.  Great for when unexpected guests arrive.

BITS AND BOBS – Whilst most bits and bobs (B&B’s) such as childrens toys, crayons, pencils, you name it, should be relocated to their proper homes, it really isn’t practical to be going back and forth all day long and let’s be honest, who has the energy or motivation to be constantly picking up and packing away?   So create a storage solution where you specifically stash these.  YES it may become the Bermuda Triangle with items never really resurfacing again but it is a much simpler solution that gives your space the clarity it deserves.   As you become more organised, you will find that you will dedicate a time to empty your B&B Stash at periodic times.

basket

 Focus on getting your kitchen working FOR you and not AGAINST you!!  We look forward to hearing some of your very own tips, ideas or questions and would LOVE to see some photos if you are willing to share.  Until next time, have a fabulous week.

What is your biggest challenge with keeping benchtops clean and clutter free?

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pakistan with flag

A New Pakistan, My Pakistan.

I particularly appeal to our intelligentsia and students to come forward and rise to the occasion. You have performed wonders in the past. You are still capable of repeating the history. You are not lacking in the great qualities and virtues in comparison with the other nations. Only you have to be fully conscious of that fact and to act with courage, faith and unity.

- Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah

pakistan flag

73 years ago on this day 23rd March 1940, a resolution was passed at the grounds of Minar-e-Pakistan - Lahore  for a secular muslim state. 7 years later,  on 14th August 1947, Pakistan was born.

66 years on, my Pakistan has been plunged to the depths of despair. Corruption, bad leadership, selfish, ulterior motives have all taken a toll on our country and it’s citizens. Hope is faint but the only straw we clutch to for this monumental shift. Hope and Imran Khan.

They say all great changes are preceded by chaos.

Imran Khan, cricketer extraordinaire turned politician is catalysing a sweeping positive change in the mindset of the average Pakistani.

Close to half a million people are gathered at the same location TODAY, Minar e Pakistan waiting to hear Imran Khan speak his message of change for Pakistan. He comes with the promise and hope of a Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan). God willing.

My thoughts are with my country and fellow Pakistanis. May this be a day of great, positive change for Pakistan.

Today, from the core of my heart truly prays and wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, strong and new Pakistan. A Pakistan that dreams, breathes and lives fearlessly. A Pakistan with a vision , full of hope and possibilities for the future.

So here’s to a new Pakistan , My Pakistan.

Have you ever experienced a political uprising in your country?

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digital parents conferece 2013

Someone Pinch Me Please – Am I Seriously Going To DPCON13?

DPCON 13 – Digital Parents Conference 2013

I was never meant to go to DPCON this year. There were several constraints – the day job, finances…life.

Then almost like it was meant to be, one day while lurking on the Digital Parents website, I noticed Jane of Java Jane had put her ticket up for sale as she couldn’t make the conference and wouldn’t want the ticket to go to waste. I cold emailed Jane as it was a fair few hours later than she had initially posted thinking the ticket would definitely have been snapped up.  Jane responded straight back and said it was still available, it was a sign. I explained to Jane that I was a single parent and would appreciate any concession possible. Jane happily obliged for which I am eternally grateful, Thank you Jane.

So I was in luck but there was still another hurdle. You see,  this year DPCON is happening on a Wednesday and a Thursday which means being a solo parent, I would have to ask the boys’ dad to look after them on 3 week nights. I wasn’t sure if he would be okay with that but more importantly, I wasn’t sure how the kids would feel about the change in their routine . It has been 3 years since the split, they have never spent a school night with their father. Fs2  at one stage said “ But Daddy doesn’t know how we do our homework”  You can trust Fs2 for telling it like it is, you really can ! More than FS2 though, it has been FS1 who hasn’t been entirely okay with the idea.

Once I had an okay from their dad, I took the bold step of buying my ticket. Bold because I was doing something out of my comfort zone, leaving the kids behind, trusting everything would be okay… In parenting world, that is a big ask, in single–parenting world, it is a monumental ask… a large part of you is always ensuring that the children have an extra cushion wherever possible, you try to soften the blows every step of the way. To somehow make up for the relationship you couldn’t work out with their other parent. I am not advocating that it is the best way but quite often, that is how it is.

Now the next step would be to find accommodation within an affordable range close to the venue. While I was still considering my options and the official DPCON hotel seemed out of range, I saw an FB update by Rhianna over at A Parenting Life wondering if anyone wanted to share a room. Genius! Why hadn’t I thought of this before? It was a sign. I messaged Rhi and put both hands up for sharing. Rhi was keen , I was keen –  And in no time I had myself a DPCON roomie. Yay!

The weeks leading up to DPCON have been busy at home, at work and on the blog. I haven’t kept very well for the past few weeks so that hasn’t helped either. The excitement though hasn’t dulled at all, I can’t wait to learn more about the craft, perhaps gain a better sense of direction moving forward but most important of all, meet all my fabo new bloggy friends. Yep that’s the bottom line folks! Meeting all the awesome bloggy peeps and the shopping, lets not underestimate the shopping. Infact, there may or may not have been a bit of a shopping spree leading up to the event. Trust me , this is a big deal in the Aussie blogging world and a girl has to look her best, plus really any excuse is a good excuse to shop. Period.

Now lets fast forward because:

a) I don’t want to put you all to sleep and

b) I would ideally like to finish writing this post before I get to Sydney and at this rate, it’s never gonna happen.

Yes, you heard it , as I type , I am on  my way to Sydney for DPCON13!!!!  Okay now that I am done being dramatic, I have to admit my nerves still a little bit frayed from what has been a jam packed day in every sense of the word.

I almost thought I wouldn’t make it to DPCON.

Saturday, FS 1 ( Fab son 1 for new readers) came down with a temperature which meant we were off line for most of the weekend. I thought he would be better by Monday but that didn’t happen , the poor thing felt tired and weak, I’d feel terrible sending him to school that way so we ended up staying home. At this point though, I was gradually heading towards a guilt ridden  panic zone , how could I ever leave my sick child and head over to Sydney for 3 whole days of blogging fun? Where are my priorities? What was I thinking? I was a terrible mum.

This morning,  my little man looked a lot better (phew) but still didn’t want to go school. I somehow pushed him to go and headed off to work. More guilt, more “bad mother” feelings. I promised, I would come get him if he fell sick again but he had to atleast try. Every ounce of me hoped that he’d get back into the swing of things once he saw his friends. I was wrong. At midday, I had the ominous phone call from the school front office, he didn’t look too well and I would have to come get him. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. At this point, I was going to ready to abandon DPCON altogether. Then I spoke to a dear friend who talked a bit (lot) of sense into me…Stay calm , get FS1 and reassess the situation. Is he really as bad or is it just a case of separation anxiety. Wise girl.

Within 3 hours of being at work, I scrambled calmly managed to finish whatever I needed to do, raced back to the school, picked up both boys and brought them home. FS1 seemed a bit low yes, but nothing major and definitely nothing a few tight cuddles couldn’t fix.  I requested them both to be extra good so mummy could finish packing. After weeks of obsessing over what and what not to pack, I still have a nagging feeling that I have forgotten something or perhaps it’s just the mad rush of it all. Amazingly, there were no fights, no cushion wars, nothing. I actually finished packing an hour before their dad was supposed to pick them up, heck I even did one quick lot of dishes and watered my plants. Eventually, I sat down with the boys for a cuppa. There were kisses, tears and cuddles galore I can assure you.  I knew then that I would miss them terribly, I knew they would miss me too.

They left and soon after, I left home for the bus station. It feels surreal to finally be heading to Sydney, I suppose I am still wound up after the day’s events, anxious and exhausted. I need to deep breathe, let go and trust that everything will be okay. I need to take the next 3 days well in my stride and soak up all the bloggy goodness there is to come. I need to appreciate that I am able to go along this year. Last year I was a blogger who had just begun her journey and avidly watched  DPCON12 from a distance through FB and Twitter streams. I was envious, I wanted to be there.

Tomorrow morning, I will be at DPCON13 rubbing shoulders with some of the best in the Aussie blogosphere, making new friends, finally meeting the bloggers whose words I have admired from a distance. Listen to some amazing stories, perhaps share mine. Dream a little more.

Someone, pinch me please.

Have you been to a bloggers conference ? How did you feel ? What’s your best tip?

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Food, Conversation, Inspiration {Canberra Bloggers Meetup}

So as much as I love Canberra , there isn’t a major blogger community presence here. And unfortunately, whenever there has been an event, I haven’t been able to go along due to personal commitments. I decided that was going to change this year. Partly because  as a blogger or any other craft for that matter,  not everyone “gets” blogging and therefore  meeting fellow bloggers is kind of good for your blogging soul. It gives you the reassurance that you aren’t the only crazy one doing crazy things! And partly because I am totally envious of those cool blogger meetups that always happen in the bigger cities  followed by pictures all over social media.

Over the past couple of months, I have been lucky enough to get to know two lovely Canberran bloggers Vanisha from Vanisha’s Life In Australia and Maddy from the newly launched Mummawoosah . Having our own Canberra social was inevitable , so last weekend we met for brunch .

Here is  what followed over the course of the morning in pictures and words.. Enjoy :)

Where there are bloggers, there is food.

foodies

And foodie pictures galore !

Resolutions

blogger resolutions

 Maddy had been tossing up about going live for the past few days, she went away  on the day saying she would. And she did ! Well done Maddy – Read her first post here :)

Conversation and Inspiration

blogger conversations

Great food, amazing coffee and fabulous company. 

One of the things we discussed was how important it was to keep it real when you are blogging. That no one has a perfect life. Vanisha went away and wrote a heart warming post about how she has been feeling these past few weeks. You can read it here :)

Happy Snaps

canberra bloggers

The Spoils

the spoils

Maddy brought along some uber gorgeous Nigerian jewellery to show us.

Instant Sharing

sharing instagram

You Facebook it, I’ll instagram it.

And that’s how we roll!

Inspiring stories, Brand new friendships

canberra bloggers 1

It was so refreshing to meet these beautiful, like minded girls and learn more about their life stories. Food, conversation and inspiration, does it get any better ?

Do you ever feel like normal people don’t “get” your blogging ? What has been your best blogger meet up experience?

Image credits : Thankyou Vanisha for sharing your pictures from the day.

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Gone Digital – Is Geek The New Black?

Social media, smart phones, tablets and the like have changed the way we communicate with each other forever. Nowadays it’s all about status updates, hashtags, likes, shares,followers and comments. Couples have rapidly caught on to the digital boom too. And if by chance you work in social media or technology, the conversations you may have with your other half are nothing short of geek. After all, geek is the new black.

hashtag

But before I go on , here is a bit of context. The woman is a social media strategist, smart, savvy and on top of everything that’s trending. The man, an online activist, intelligent, aware, well read but thinks social media is a complete waste of time and uses twitter to consume and share news. Here’s a typical conversation :

Him : ” I need to increase my twitter following “

Her : “Start engaging in conversations , use hashtags.”

Him: “Using hashtags is below my intelligence.”

Her: “Well guess what honey, half the world runs on hashtags these days, and the other half is rapidly moving towards it.”

I rest my case.

How do you communicate with your better half in 2013? Is social media a crucial component in your lives?

Linking up with the very awesome Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF

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To Canberra, With Love.

Canberra Bashingnoun: 1. the act of criticizing the Australian federal government and its bureaucracy. 2. the act of criticising the city of Canberra or its inhabitants.

Canberra has time and again copped a lot of criticism for being a sleepy city , boring, predictable and political. In other words, “Canberra Bashing” – the word is now officially being added to the National Australian Dictionary. Sure enough, Canberra life is nowhere nearly as fast paced as say a Sydney or a Melbourne but I strongly refute the charges of being boring and predictable. 

The BBC published an article last Saturday, a week ahead of Canberra’s official centenary ; Canberra – Deathly Dull at 100 which has perturbed many a Canberrans. We love our city, how dare someone so flippantly refer to it as “devoid of soul” . The writer is grossly mistaken because our  Canberra is all about soul, thank you very much.

There is so much to love about Canberra and I always say to the nay sayers including my skeptical little sister who went to the ANU , “give it a year, the city grows on you.” 2 years and a masters later, she has converted from “I can’t believe I chose Canberra to study, I am escaping to Sydney every second weekend to have a life ” – as you do to ” I love Canberra, it is so peaceful, no one cares what you do, it’s simple, it’s safe – I was so happy there” Well, thanks for listening to big sis yo.

We have such an amazing, close knit, vibrant community spirit. We are diverse, we are cultural, we are tolerant. People actually stop to say hello and smile at you, yes random strangers will smile at you in Canberra. Majority are public servants which means a relaxed, balanced pace of life with most if not all the trappings of a developed metropolitan. Well architected and thoughtfully set out, excellent schools and universities make Canberra a perfect city to raise a family.  Fine, we don’t have trains yet but then with everything literally 20 minutes away, you can’t really complain can you?

Canberrans experience all four seasons, our autumn and spring are particularly stunning so if you are heading this way in the next few months, make sure you capture some of that gorgeous autumn foliage.

We don’t have beaches but we have beautiful lakes and lovely parks, Bateman’s Bay and the snowy mountains are just a short drive away. And if that’s not enough, Canberra with its panoramic skyline is home to some of the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in the world.

What’s there not to love? And mind you, this was just a teaser.

I have lived here for 9 years and have never once regretted it. No, I am not a spokesperson for Visit Canberra , just one seriously happy Canberran.

So all you Canberra Bashers, scram!

Leaving you with a collage of all my favourite shots of locations around Canberra over the past year. While it has been a weekend of centenary celebrations for Canberrans, that too a long weekend – be jealous rest of Australia!,  the city officially celebrates it’s 100th Birthday tomorrow :)

canberra collage

Happy 100th Canberra :)

Much Love.

So tell me , where do you live? How old is your city now?

Linking up with the totally awesome Jess from Essentially Jess for IBOT.

disclaimer : All images used in this collage are my own. Phtovisi.com was used to designn the collage.

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kerala mutton stew prep

Whole And Hearty Mutton Stew {The Flu Antidote}

Being sick is the pits I tell you! Friday morning I woke up to a high temperature , sore body, jammed, sore throat and I literally could not move a muscle. Heck, I even missed With Some Grace’s FYBF , that’s like THE party to show up to bright and early on a Friday morning . Can you imagine the devastation? So under normal circumstances, what do you do? You somehow get out of bed long enough to be able to feed the kids and bring them to school.You come back home, call in sick, crawl under your doona, have a panadol or two and sleep the day off , right? 

Well no not exactly. Not when you have an important interview, for the job you have been acting in for a year. An interview you can’t afford to muck up. An interview you were busy preparing for until 2am the night before.  So I did what any insane sane person would do. I popped 2 panadols and a leftover antibiotic from previous script, crossed my fingers that it would fix me, got dressed in my smart interview outfit and headed out. As long as I could see this interview out, I could worry about everything later.

The drugs kept me going till about 2pm long enough to finish with the interview, after which all hell broke lose aka the fever returned, I had the worst headache ever and still had 3 hours of work to get through. Not cool.

The only redeeming factor in all this is that it is a long weekend here in Canberra, yep we get to have an extra day off which means 3 days of complete rest. Ok maybe 2 days of complete rest and 1 day of cleaning, washing and the like. Someone’s gotta do it right?

I spent all of today (Saturday) doing absolutely nothing, I  guess my body needed the rest too. I caught up on the Pakistani dramas I haven’t watched in a few weeks, a bit of social networking here and there and basically just lazing around. At one stage, I fell asleep on the couch too, that’s an achievement for someone who doesn’t nap. ever.

Close to 5pm , I felt hungry having hardly eaten the past few days with feeling sick and all that medication. Some warm soup would be lovely, I thought ..but who is going to make it? I felt too tired and drained. One could be the most attentive parent in the world when it comes to caring for our children but we are the opposite when we have to care for ourselves. I pushed  and lugged  myself off to the shops to pick up some flu care supplies. See here :

soup supplies

A soup, bread,tea and biccies kinda weekend.

On the way back I felt like getting some fresh air so stopped over at the local park , sat on one of the benches and soaked in the beauty around me.

canberra sunset pictures

That certainly helped.  Got home feeling better and slightly more energised but I also knew it wouldn’t last long, thought I’d better get that soup going. While normally for a flu, I would cook this delicious Chicken Soup, today I wanted something different. I remembered by Keralite friend Susan and her beautiful mutton stew. Susan had given me her traditional recipe a long time ago but I never wrote it down. Then again, there’s always google. I came across a few recipes which sounded similar to Susan’s but not quite the same. I thought I’d just go ahead and wing it, what’s worst that could happen ? It turned out delightful!

So here it is, losely inspired by Keralite Mutton Stew , some whole and hearty goodness , a perfect antidote for the flu and totally delicious on those cold wintry nights.

kerala mutton stew

Whole And Hearty Mutton Stew.

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 1/2 kilo goat or mutton cut into casserole pieces
  • 2 potatoes cut into chunky pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into chunky pieces
  • 2 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 spanish onions finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies 
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt or as per taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper 

Tempering :

  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp  mustard seeds
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 8-10 pepper corns
  • 2-3 black cardamoms

kerala mutton stew preparation

What Next :

  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pot , add in all the tempering ingredients until you hear them splatter and there is a light fragrance.
  • Add onions and fry until they are transluscent
  • Add mutton pieces, carrot and potato chunks,ginger, garlic, turmeric powder, salt and black pepper
  • Fry for about 2-3 minutes until the meat is pale and sealed
  • Add tomatoes, slit green chillies and coconut milk and about half a cup of water.
  • Cover and slow cook for 2 hours

kerala mutton stew prep

Enjoy with a warm toasted bread roll or even some steamed rice.

What is your favourite soup or antidote when you are sick?

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{Wordless Wednesday} Do You Like White Roses?

I love white roses.

They epitomise purity,innocence, honesty and love. Growing up, while all the other girls wanted bright, sensuous , powerful and alluring red, I wanted the simple, the dreamy, the hopeful white. That made me a pretty easy girl to please.

Not much has changed :) Not referring to the easy to please bit.

white rose

While there is life, there is hope.

What is your favourite rose colour?

Linking up with the lovely Trish from My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.

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quinoa cakes

Totally Epic Quinoa Sandwich.

Alright! So if you follow the Facebook page, you will know that I have been raving on about my recent love affair with superfood Quinoa ( pronounced keen-wah) of late. I tried a delightful quinoa salad at my friend Ms.R’s house recently and fell in love. What a beautiful, tasty and versatile grain it is! Low in carbs, packed with protein, gluten free, rich in fibre and essential nutrients, Quinoa is being touted as the “supergrain of the future”. Find out more about quinoa here (source : Fitday). Then just this last week, I was caught tantalising the FB community with pictures of what I called Quinoa babies or patties. Those babies looked so divine, everyone wanted the recipe AND they tasted so GOOD, I thought it would be criminal not to share.

The Epic Quinoa Patties/Cakes

Serves 12

You will need: 

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa cooled ( 1 cup uncooked qunoa will yield about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 whole medium zucchini finely grated ( squeeze out all the moisture using paper towels)
  • 1 whole medium carrot grated finely
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tsp chopped mint leaves
  • 5-6 sprigs of spring onions finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated colby cheese ( or any sharp cheddar) finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder (or as per taste)
  • 3/4 tsp salt or as per taste
  • Freshly cracked pepper as per taste

quinoa cake recipe

quinoa cake 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation:

  • Combine all the ingredients listed above except the eggs.
  • Add  the eggs and mix well until the entire mixture comes together.
  • If the mixture is too wet at this point, you can add in a sprinkle more of breadcrumbs to even the moisture out.
  • Shape the mixture into 12 burger like patties.
  • Heat a medium sized fry pan coating the base with cooking.
  • Place about 6 patties with enough room to flip.
  • Bring the heat to medium and cook for about 6-7 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on either side.

Notes :

  • Quinoa can also be cooked in chicken/veggie/beef stock for enhanced flavour
  • Serve hot with tomato/sweet chilli sauce.
  • These patties can be dry fried on a non-stick pan.
  • Use rice flour instead of breafcrumbs for an entirely gluten free option.
  • The patties can be cooked and frozen upto a week in advance.

So where’s the sandwich?

When I was recently asked by the wonderful folks at Bakers Delight to design a lunch time sandwich recipe, I thought it would be good to send some feelers out on people’s preferences – health, convenience, time or variety. What I understood from most of the responses was that people want to eat healthy but time is definitely a determining factor in how we prepare our lunches. Another concern is that people are happy to make the effort on a delicious but healthy option but are not sure whether the family will like it or not.

Well I’ve done the homework on this one for you !

Totally Epic Quinoa Sandwich

  • 2 chia wholemeal bread rolls
  • 2 epic quinoa patties (you can double up if you like your sandwich to be very filling although I find the one patty is plenty)
  • 1 cup Oakleaf lettuce leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced  {You could also use avacadoes, cucumbers or capsicums as toppings}

Totally Epic Sauce.

  • 1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise OR Kewpie {Delicious Japanese mayo}
  • 1/2 tbsp mild mustard
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet relish
  • Pepper

Quinoa sandwich

Preparation:

  • Whisk all the ingredients for the epic sauce and set aside.
  • Cut the chia bread rolls into half , spread a light layer of the epic sauce on the bottom half.
  • Top with oakleaf lettuce , quinoa patty and tomato slices.
  • Now add a dollop of the epic sauce and place the bread roll top.
  • Serve as whole or cut in half.

Bakers Delight chia bread rolls are packed with the goodness of omega 3 and have a low GI. The sandwiches featured are healthy, quick to put together, a welcome change from the usual mundane vegemite,cheese or jam sandwich combos and the best and most crucial part of all, they also passed the kids test that too with flying colors. Trust me on this one – it is EPIC :)

What is your favourite sandwich filling? Do you think you will be giving The Totally Epic Quinoa Sandwich a whirl?

Disclosure : This is not a paid post for Bakers Delight, however I was requested by BD to design a sandwich for their recipe bank for which product was provided. All opinions expressed are my own.

Linking up with the lovely Jess from Essentially Jess for IBOT :)

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Happy Birthday Mumchic.

Sisters are amazing. I don’t talk much about mine here on Mumchic but quite honestly, I would be lost without her. She is my biggest and most honest reality check.

Sometime back in early February of 2012, clearly under the influence of some delicious meal I had cooked for her, she said

“You have such great recipes, why don’t you start a blog?”

“But I had a blog, remember?”

“Err yeaah in 2006 or something?”

That came with the look that spells “wtf” in not so many words…. it’s a special wordless exchange that happens between sisters, you won’t understand.

Anywho back to the blog suggestion , I have a feeling she had wind of my floundering ways and thought I was wasting too much important brain space on watching melodramatic Pakistani plays and needed to do something constructive with the little free time I had.

You see, this isn’t the first time someone has suggested writing again but this time around the idea stuck with me. Longer than usual.

And thus out of a random conversation with my little sister, Mumchic was born. Once I had decided that that I was going to start a blog, we agonised  over the theme and a name for weeks eventually deciding on Mum Chic – a hub of all things delicious and chic for but not restricted to mums.

And this little baby is exactly a year old today!

Happy Birthday Mumchic.

Nothing worth having comes easy

Nothing worth having comes easy.

What a journey it has been.The highs, the lows, the joy of creation. If there is one thing I have learnt this past year, it is this. When you love what you do, when you are passionate about what you are building, no hour in the night is too late, no dream futile, no vision too big. Yes it takes courage to do something out of the box and a lot of willpower because as with any uncharted path, there are tests.But that is when you persevere, that is when you give it your best shot.The results might just astound you.

I started blogging as a complete rookie, I had the words but I also had a lot to learn about the game I was playing. Scheduling posts, linkies, PR, coneferences, social media… you name it! So much to take in, I felt overwhelmed. As my readership grew, my goals changed too – I now had plans for this blog but I also had a pressing need to understand the space better.  The trouble with the business of blogging is, the bigger it grows, the bigger you want it to grow. I reached out to people asking for mentorship. Some were extremely gracious and generous, some not so much but I learnt from it, either way.

But having said all of that, my greatest take away of all  from the past year has been the beautiful bloggy friendships I have found along the way and all the mind blowing stories I have been able to read. I feel previleged to have been able to share mine with you.

And last but not the least, the love and untiring support of everyone out there : fellow bloggers, readers, followers, family and friends – Mumchic would not have been here without your support :) . Thankyou for putting up with me for a whole year, I promise as I did at the start of the year to bring you better and more exciting things in the year to come.

And before I forget, a special thank you to the person who waved her magic wand and made it all happen!

Thank you little sister. Love you.

P.S I still watch above mentioned melodramatic Pakistani plays, only difference is nowadays the usually play in the background while I write. A girl’s gotta keep up with her plays right?

P.P.S I am writing this post past 1am under a heavy influence of chocolate. If it seems to sappy tomorrow morning, you may blame the chocolate, or the clock or both.

Have you reached a blogging milestone? How did you celebrate?’

Is there something you would like to see more of here on Mumchic over the coming year?

Linking up with the wonderful Grace at With Some Grace for FYBF.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Moods

This handsome little man is my younger son aka Fabulous Son 2. Contrary to FS1, he hates posing or having pictures taken. So I just go ahead and do the next best thing any mum would do, capture him at his natural best. Here I give you Moods.

child's smile

A child’s smile is one one of life’s greatest blessings.

Linking up with the very wonderful My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye Blog for Wordless Wednesday.

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Spices  for aaloo gosht

Back To Basics – Pakistani Aloo Gosht aka Goat and Potato Curry

Aloo Gosht –  Urdu for Meat and Potato curry

Aloo Gosht is a meat curry in Pakistani and North Indian cuisine. It consists of potatoes (“aloo”) cooked with meat (“gosht”), usually lamb or mutton, in a stew-like shorba or gravy. The dish can be served and eaten with plain rice or with bread such as roti, paratha or naan. (source wiki)

If you came here looking for some serious soul soothing cookery then you are at the right place because the recipe I am about to share is truly an ultimate in comfort food, I love how the flavours come together in a slow cooking process. It is not  fancy but it will no doubt capture your senses. Orignating from Pakistani villages, this is a very basic but traditional preparation, one that will soon become a favourite in your home especially on those cold and freezing days.

aloo gosht pakistani recipe

Pakistani Aloo Gosht aka Goat and Potato Curry

Serves 2-3

You will need:

  • 500 grams goat curry pieces (washed and drained)
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato , quartered
  • 8-9 cloves of garlic (whole)
  • 1 small piece of ginger grated
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved 
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of oil

Spices :

  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder (adjust as per taste)
  • 1 tsp salt or as per taste
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/3 tsp turmeric powder

Preparation :

  • Heat up a heavy based pot/slow cooker/pressure cooker.
  • Add meat, onions, tomato,ginger, garlic and all the spices.
  • Add a glass of water , cover and pressure cook/slow cook until the water begins to evaporate, the onions have lost form and the meat starts to come off the bone.
  • Add 1/3 cup of oil at this stage and let the meet and gravy fry, we call this the “bhoon-na” process which basically ensures that all the onions, garlic,ginger and tomatoes have been fully cooked. The bhoon-na process is considered complete when the oil separates from the gravy and the gravy comes together as one if that makes sense.
  • At this point, add peeled potatoes and another two glasses of water, cover and cook until potatoes are fully cooked taking care  of not overcooking the potatoes either or they will break.
  • Add chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Serve with fresh naans or a hot chappati and a bed of plain steaming basmati rice.

Tips :

  • A side salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, salt and lemon makes a great accompaniment to the dish.
  • Ensure that the meat is well cooked before you add in the potatoes , goat tends to take longer than usual meats so additional care must be taken to avoid toughness.

And that my friends is what I call comfort food at it’s best.

I hope you will enjoy this delicious preparation , please free to leave a comment or ask me a question if any of the steps are unclear.

What is your favourite comfort food?

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A Courageous Path.

Never allow yourself to be bullied.

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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misc

Savvy Spaces With MissK – Clutter Begone!

Thank you for the warm welcome.  It is great to be given the opportunity to chat to you all and I hope that together, we can encourage, inspire and motivate each other.

So did you do your homework?  Did you have a think about what it is that is creating the MESS in your kitchen and more specifically on your kitchen bench top?

What are your clutter culprits?  For me, the main ones were keys, incoming mail, paperwork and fiddly bits and bobs.  It is not uncommon for my kitchen bench top to be loaded with costume jewellery, crayons, lego, the odd barbie shoe and other bits of rubbi..….oops I mean treasures  ;) .

Having two girls, a lesson well learnt is that ‘treasures’ are part and parcel of childhood.  What is deemed ‘treasure’, may vary with stages, but it will remain throughout childhood.  It is very apparent  what ‘treasures’ mean to our little ones when we are caught accidentally vacuuming them up  in a clear barrelled vacuum cleaner.  Been there? 

Of course there are also the transient drop off items such as school bags, shopping, shoes and whatever hubby decided to buy off Ebay on any particular day.  These larger items just need to be put into their rightful “homes”.  15 mins should be all that you need to clear your floor space.

In terms of the kitchen bench top focus, the next specific steps are:

  1.  Write a list of the top 3 categories of clutter culprits that frequently get placed onto your bench.
  2. Start to consider what type of storage solutions would fit with your space and budget.
  3. Don’t rush out on a buying spree.  A rushed purchase may, in the long term just  contribute to a clutter problem.  Knowing you have a need for a storage solution, allows you to be on the lookout and when you least expect it, something will jump out at you, perfect for your NEEDS and YOUR space.
  4. Think about where you will position these storage solutions to get maximum benefit.

 My Top 5 Storage Solutions:

1.BASKETS -   I absolutely LOVE baskets and have them in use all over my home.  They can be used for so many things and can add a stylish addition to an area, whilst having a very practical use.  They come in all sorts of materials, colours, shapes, sizes and designs.

baskets

2.JARS – As my girls have gotten older, I am really starting to use jars more and more.  There are SO many types available now and are very affordable.  Many discount stores offer cute, stylish jars from as little as $2.

jars

3.TINS – I had never really considered tins until I used one I had in the cupboard to store my dishwashing  tablets in and got lots of positive comments about it.   I see them quite often in my travels now.  IKEA do a great range as well as KMART and many discount stores.  Tins are very affordable.  On a recent trip to IKEA, I noticed they had set of 3 different sized tins for $5.95 a set (see black and white set in pic below).

tins

4. BOXES – Whilst they may not be appropriate for some areas of the kitchen due to water damage, they can still be considered if you are to place them away from damp areas.  I do like to use boxes in the study.  The great thing about boxes is that they come in so many different shapes and colours and patterns, often with savvy designs.

boxes

5,THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE –  don’t pass by items that are made for a different purpose.  You may find some very savvy storage solutions.  For example, flower pots.    Take a look at how I have used flower pots in my home….

misc

So those are a few simply but highly effective storage ideas. I would love to hear what you think you will be considering for your storage solutions and any ideas/tips you may have ?

Stay tuned for the next post where I show you how I have used some of these storage solutions in my home.

Until next time, have an inspired week,

Miss K

Linking up with the gorgeous Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Fabulous Son 1 Takes A Shot.

Here’s a photo taken by Fab Son 1 (9) this afternoon , I know I have done a lot of sunsets lately but I also knew this photo had to be shared. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, not that I am bragging or anything ;)

sunset photos

So beautifully captured.

Linking up with lovely Bree at Twinkle In The Eye Blog  and the wonderful Trish at My Little Drummer Boys   for Wordless Wednesday.

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personal planner 1

Plan It To Perfection {Personal Planner Giveaway}

I am a list ninja. While I try (unsuccessfully on most days) to create, organise and maintain a mental list of the myriad things I must accomplish in a day , to err is human and I err a lot. Lets just blame it on the depleting brain cells. So I decided, right the mental list thing isn’t quite working and I keep losing all the lists I write on post it notes , maybe I need to start using my smartphone better.  I started making lists on the phone but while it’s a great short term solution, with my current family and blog commitments , I need something personal and visual. Somewhere to jot it all down and plan ahead. Needless to say, ofcourse , I was thrilled when the wonderful team at Personal Planner got in touch with me to host a giveaway for Mumchic readers and what great timing too with the new year and new routines now in full gear for most of us.

I absolutely loved the design interface of Personal Planner offering endless design possibilities. From an impressive color palette to the choices of inlays, there is  even a much needed checkbox feature to tick off  those daily essentials! My personal favourite feature though is how the planner can be integrated with Facebook to add family and friend’s birthdays. Now that’s what you call a smart planner :)

Here are a few key features to love about the Personal Planner :

  • Design the front/back cover
  • Tons of ways to design the inside to suit your style & needs
  • Add friends & family members birthdays to the inlay
  • Choose between 4 different sizes
  • You pick the start date

It indeed a very savvy planner perfect for those of us who struggle to keep on top of our busy lifestyles and gets a big thumbs up from me on the style quotient. Who said planners had to be boring! More info on the Personal Planner can be found at the links below :

Website : http://personal-planner.com.au

Facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/PersonalPlannerAU

{Giveaway – Winner Announced}

A big thankyou to everyone who entered this giveaway. What a difficult  decision it was ! Almost everyone is dealing with the same organisation battles and challenges :)

Here are the winners :

1st (For the Personal Planner ) : Angie Boylan

(new) Runner Up (For the PP Notebook) : Jessie Reid 

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Please contact me on mumschic@gmail.com with your email to arrannge prizes :)

And now for some great news! We are teaming up with the fantastic team at Personal Planner to giveaway TWO great prizes. The winner of this giveaway will receive a fully custom-made Personal Planner and the runner up will receive a Personalised Notebook also by Personal Planner.

personal planner 2

Here’s how to enter :

1. Tell us in 25 words what is your biggest personal organisation challenge?

2. Like Personal Planner and Mumchic on Facebook and leave us a comment to let us know that you did.

3. Share this link on your Facebook profile set to public and leave a comment here to let us know.

T&Cs

*open Internationally
*only one entry per person
*all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
*ONE winner and ONE runner-up will be chosen
*entries will close at midnight on Wednesday, 27th  February 2013
*Winner and runner up will be announced om Friday, 1st March 2013
*winner will be notified via email & an announcement will be made on the blog
*judge’s decision is final
*prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash
*prizes will be sent through in the form of a voucher via email.

Disclaimer : No cash was received for this post, however Personal Planner provided us with the product for review purposes.

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Baked papris

Papri On A Health Kick.

papri.

Light, crisp, deep fried lightly spiced wafer like snack. Served often with afternoon tea on it’s own and more popularly as Papri Chaat - a delectable mix of spiced chickpeas, potatoes, yoghurt, freshly cut onions, green chillies, tomatoes, chopped coriander and topped with  crushed papri and a generous drizzle of  sweet and sour chutneys. Mouth watering right?

Having said that, I don’t need a plate of Papri Chaat to get me started, papris are so delicious on their own too! Just as much as I love it for its buttery, flaky, melt in your mouth texture, I also know that it is quite lethal for my hips. And since quitting that papri addictition is not an option, I decided that I needed to take matters in my own hands and thus, I embarked on a mission to make a healthy Papri. The results – pleasing to say the least. Now let me warn you, if you are going to make this recipe, you need to lose the pre-conceived fat laden notions you have of deep fried papris. Wipe out your memories. All clean? Ok Good!  Those of you who don’t know what I’m going on about, what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Lets go!

Papri recipe

Papri (makes 25-30 crackers)

You will need :

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • water for kneading
  • salt as per taste

What next :

  • Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees.
  • Prepare a baking tray lined with foil and light spray with oil to moisten the surface.
  • Combine all the ingredients listed using water to knead into a stiff dough. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Knead again to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a very thin sheet. Prick the entire sheet using a fork – this helps make the papris crispier.
  • Cut out circles in the dough using a round cookie cutter.
  • Place all the papris on the prepared baking tray, spray the tops with a light spray of oil.
  • Bake in a pre-warmed oven for 10-12 minutes until the papris are golden brown – watch them closely as they will not taste as good even if they are slightly burnt.

*Chilli powder can also be added to the dough mix for spicy papris.

{Serving Tips}

  • Serve with a spicy hummus or tzatziki dip or as canapes topped with spicy mashed potatoes or even cream cheese.
  • Pack in with some good cheese to have as a school or office snack.
  • Use as soup dippers instead of deep friend croutons.

{Storage}

The papris will last perfectly in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Enjoy :)

Stay tuned as in the coming weeks , I will bring you the recipe for Papri Chaat.

Have you had an opportunity to sample Papri Chaat? What would you use Papris for?

Linking with the lovely Jess from Essentially Jess for IBOT

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benchtop 3

Savvy Spaces With MissK – Inaugural Piece

 The arrival of a beautiful new 2013 ushered in bevy of changes at Mumchic HQ too. We now aspire to be a lot more diverse with our stories, posts and interviews and hope that all you wonderful readers have a richer experience.That said ,today we are introducing a brand new segment on Mumchic, a column dedicated to Chic And Inspired Living – Savvy Spaces. And with the addition of Savvy Spaces, I would like to officially and very warmly welcome Miss K to the Mumchic family. Miss K is passionate about creating chic and beautiful spaces and is a home organisation junkie. She hopes to create a better world, one clean bench top at a time. Over to you MissK :)

Savvy Spaces – Inaugural Piece

Welcome to our first edition of Savvy Spaces!!  Have you been on a constant quest to get your home organised?  Have you had good intentions but never really embraced the change?  Perhaps 2013 is the year to finally say, YES I AM IN!  Join us here as we meander, explore and create more organised, functional and chic spaces in our home.

It may sound simple but clear space creates clarity of mind.  How does it feel when you walk into a room that is a MESS?  Does your mood instantly deflate?  Compare that to the feeling of walking into a clean, tidy, guest ready area.  Keeping a space clear is an empowering action that will bring peace and well being into your home.

Having your surroundings organised helps you feel in control.  Mess, clutter and chaos evoke feelings of anxiety and stress, often making you feel overwhelmed in other areas of your life.

Our first challenge is to focus on keeping your kitchen bench top clean and clear.  This area is often the number one dumping ground for everything filtering into your home. It can become the drop zone for items such as keys, shopping, school bags, letters, papers, tools, toys, clothes, etc…..sound familiar?

 The simple act of clearing off your kitchen bench top can make your kitchen look fresh, clean and uncluttered.    

benchtop 1

So to begin, read and consider the following points

1. Accept that it IS fine that the kitchen is the first drop off zone.  If you think a once over makeover will equate to no more dumping, you will more than likely end up failing. Acknowledge that your kitchen, on many occasions, WILL look like a boxing day sales table, but be assured, with the right storage solutions, 15 mins will see it restored back to calm.

2,Analyse - Spend the next few days taking stock of what the worst clutter culprits are. Perhaps its incoming mail? No set place for the keys? Too many gadgets out on the bench top?  Modern theories will tell you, get rid of almost everything off your bench.  I do believe in minimalist thinking but I am also a practical person and getting the kettle in and out of a cupboard 5 times a day just isn’t me.  Work to YOUR needs.

benchtop 2

3. Create Solutions - Ask yourself, what storage solutions do I need?  What items CAN be stored in this area and how?   Having a designated place to put things will encourage tidiness.  Double win – your space will look tidier and more importantly, you will know where your items are.  The wisdom of everything having a place cannot be underestimated.  When everything has a home, a clean-up, can take just minutes!

 4.Inspired Change - It is very difficult to feel inspired or creative in a messy environment.  Having conquered your bench top, you will feel better able to manage the routine daily tasks.  Take for example meal preparation, clean and clear cooking space is crucial. 

benchtop 4

5.Control what you can - You may not be able to stop other members of your household using the kitchen as a dump zone instantly.  The key to remember tho is that if you have the right storage solutions in place, it will be a quick fix to restore order.  Over time, it can be anticipated that other members of the family will realise that items do have a home and they too will follow your lead.

So where to from here?  Start thinking about your kitchen bench space and stay tuned for more tips as we work our way to clean and clear living.   

Until next time,

Miss K

P.S 

Photos are such great motivators so we would really love it if you would share and inspire others with any BEFORE and AFTER shots. Photos can be sent to savvyspaceswithmissk@gmail.com.

The hashtag for this column on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will be #savvyspaces

 Hooking up with the ever hilarious Grace from With Some Grace for FYBF

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Are You Feeling Alive ? {Blackmores Multi Review And Giveaway}

Routines have set in, school is back in full swing and it seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done. Quite often I tend to feel run down and exhausted and I am not even halfway through the day. Technically, a nap would be perfect but also , I have two growing children. Naps went out of style for me back in 2003…technically.

With our busy lifestyles and the fact that we are time poor means our bodies may be missing out on essential  nutrients and vitamins we need to function properly and enjoy life on a day to day basis leaving us feeling stressed and anxious. A recent survey conducted by Blackmores has found that Aussies are busier than ever. Here are a few key stats to consider :

  • 94 percent reporting that they have woken tired in the last two weeks.
  • 88 percent believe life is getting busier
  • 65 percent of respondents reported they had skipped a meal in the last month due to time pressures.
  • 81 percent reported working through their lunchbreaks

Yep, looks like we are one busy bunch! So how do we better support our current lifestyles, how do we look after our personal well being better apart from regular exercise and healthy eating? That is where Blackmores step in. Their brand new ALIVE range promises increased energy, healthier metabolism and lowered stress levels among other great benefits. I have been using ALIVE  for the past 3 weeks and have observed a noticeable improvement in my anxiety levels as well as less brain fog. It’s a win!

A few other things to know about ALIVE :

  • Contains a blend of 20 fruits & vegetable powders
  •  Packed full of B vitamins which support cellular energy production
  • 1000IU of vitamin D3
  • Vitamins & minerals + antioxidants + enzymes

Please note, multivitamins should never be replaced for a healthy diet.

{Giveaway closed – Winner Announced}

A massive thankyou to everyone who entered!

This was a tough call as we are all busy trying to make the best of any me-time we can get. There is no perfect way to have time to yourself to rejuvenate :)

Full points for creativity go to the lovely soon to be mum Jessie Hay.

Please contact me on mumschic@gmail.com with your address to arrange your prize.

******

And now here’s the best part!  The uber-awesome team at Blackmores would like to give away ONE lucky Mumchic  reader and their partner a 4 month supply of Blackmore’s Alive Multivitamins (Womens and Mens pack included) to the value of RRP $120.

Alive_Mens_60s_3D_NOCLAIM Alive_Womens_60s_3D_NOCLAIM

To enter is easy :

1. Become a Mumchic fan on Facebook

2. Tell us what is it that you do to care for yourself while you are busy caring for others? How do you take out me-time?

3. Share this link on your Facebook profile set to public and leave a comment here to let us know.

Good Luck :)

T&Cs

*only one entry per person
*you must be an Australian resident with a valid Australian postal address
*all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
*ONE prize pack only. Valued at $120
*entries will close at midnight on Friday, 22nd February 2013
*winner will be notified via email & an announcement will be made on the blog
*judge’s decision is final
*prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash
*prizes will not be replaced in the event that they are stolen, lost or damaged in transit
*prize will be sent by a third party, Mumchic accepts no liability for the prize in any way
Disclaimer : No cash was received for this post, however Blackmores provided us with product for review purposes.

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Voila

By Popular Demand – Zucchini Slice At It’s Vegetarian Best.

It’s been ages since we shared a decent recipe here at the Mumchic HQ, but really what started out as a food and inspiration blog shouldn’t ever forget it’s roots so here we are back with a recipe that will knock your socks off! No really it will ;)

When it comes to food  preferences and eating habits , Fab Son 1 isn’t the most pickiest of eaters (takes after his mum ofcourse), Fab son 2 … sigh now he is another story altogether making cooking for him quite often a challenge. There was a time when he literally lived off nachos and cheese pizzas, thank goodness that phase is now over.  With school back on here in Australia, I am always looking to create fun, nutritious lunches for the Fab 2 to bring to school. One of the most popular recipes when you search for school lunchbox ideas is Zucchini Slice and when I came across a recipe titled “Best Zucchini Slice Ever”  recipe featured over at Fat Mum Slim , I knew I had to give it a go. Inspired by the recipe over at FMS ( as per link) , packed with nutrients, hugely popular with fussy eaters and delicious on all counts,  here is my take on Zucchini Slice and let me warn you, it is lethal.

Zucchini Slice At It’s Vegetarian Best

  • suitable for vegetarians
  • serves 4-6
  • lunchbox saviour
  • freezer friendly
  • fussy eater friendly
Herbs and Asian greens

Herbs and Asian greens

 

Ready to go in the overn

Ready to go in the overn

 

 

You will need :

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (little bit less is also okay)
  • 500g zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 125g grated parmesan cheese
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup shallots, choped fine
  • dash of cayenne pepper(optional)
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved

What next?

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a  25cm square tin with baking paper.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl except the cherry tomatoes – Use a fork to ensure no lumps are formed.
  • Pour into the prepared slice tin and smooth over.
  • Top with cherry tomato halves and a sprinkle of shredded tasty cheese- although the cheese isn’t necessary, it will give your slice a lovely golden crust
  • Bake for about 30 minutes until firm.
  • Cut into 8 lunch size serves or about 16 smaller serves.
  • Can be reheated in the oven before serving
  • Fully freezable, this slice can be stored as individual serves for emergency lunches or snacks.
Voila

Voila

I love how the recipe is very versatile and allows you to play with other delicious fillings like carrots, broccoli, chicken to name a few.Well there we have it, the lunchboxes came back empty today so I think we are on to something pretty special.  If you do attempt this recipe, please do stop by and leave us a comment. Do you have a favorite tried and tested recipe for Zucchini Slice? Share it in the comments section below.


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Sky Palette.


Canberra sunsets

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

Linking up with the lovely Bree at Twinkle In The Eye Blog for Wordless Wednesday

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The Tall Poppy Project By Kylie Patchett {Review and Giveaway}

3d cover aqua single (2)

Do you sometimes feel like you have lost that drive to live a fulfilled life doing the things you love most? Lacking inspiration? Enter The Tall Poppy Project by Kylie Patchett….. a book written to help you design the life you desire for yourself. Forensic scientist turned life and health coach, Kylie grabs the reader with an account of how she herself felt tied down to a job she didn’t love, a gap she couldn’t fill , a life story that didn’t quite fit…. a story so many of us can relate to.

The book is largely based on 7 principles of  what Kylie terms as Radical Self RespectPurpose, Pause, Pleasure, People, Prosperity, Plate and Power. How do we bring greater purpose and strike a balance in our lives, how do we stop neglecting our bodies? How do we create better, healthier relationships? How do we stake a claim on this wonderful life? While the book encourages us to think ahead, think positive , it also asks us to pause and reflect, recognise our issues, highlight the need for change and then equips us with the tools necessary to make those changes including suggestions, ideas, exercises within the book and online worksheets.

I am a sucker for quotes and The Tall Poppy Project is peppered with many inspiring ones perfectly complemented by Kylie’s conversational tone throughout the book. Never once did i feel patronized or being judged while reading the book. While it may not address every single aspect of our lives and we may not agree with some of the concepts that Kylie advocates, this book certainly gets us thinking and sometimes that is all we need! A little nudge.

What we take away from The tall Poppy Project is very subjective as with any self development book. It is certainly not a fix your life step by step manual but it is a book that will help you reflect, initiate change and perhaps help you take some steps to design the life you desire for yourself. I will leave you with a few lines from the book that particulcarly sang out to me.

Life is about leaving a legacy. About how you made people feel. And the only way to make the massive impact you were born to make is to integrate body, mind and soul. Let your inner wisdom guide you to match your physical life to your blue-print for contribution to the whole.

{Giveaway – Winners Announced}

A big thank you to all of you who entered our giveaway and now it’s time to announce the winners. It was a tough one with some fantastic responses so i have decided that instead of 2, we will have 3 winners! Exciting isn’t it?

The winners are :

Hayley Tehan

Rebecca

Cassandra CJ Wunsch

Congratulations ladies, well done! Hope The Tall Poppy Project brings true all that you desire for yourself in 2013.

Please contact me us mumschic@gmail.com with your postal address to arrange delivery :)

Kylie Patchett has kindly sent through 2 copies of The Tall Poppy Project to giveaway to Mumchic readers in Australia.

There are three easy steps to entering the competition, here we go !

1.Tell me what changes (big or small) are you making for yourself in 2013.

2.Like us on Facebook  and Twitter if you don’t already cause y’know that kind of makes you awesome !

3.Share this page on your Facebook timeline set to public and tweet the link to all your twitter followers.

And that’s it you’re in! Good Luck :)

Giveaway closes on midnight Friday 8th February 2013. Winners will be announced on Sunday 10th February 2013.Each winner will receive 1 copy of The Tall Poppy Project.

For  a detailed copy of the detailed T&Cs, please contact me on mumschic@gmail.com

Disclosure: This is not a paid sponsored post, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own. I received 3 complimentary copies of the book for review and giveaway purposes. 

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The Business of Wanderlust – The story of John Anderson, Founder of Contiki Holidays {Part 2}

wanderlust

noun

[mass noun]

  • a strong desire to travel:a man consumed by wanderlust


John Anderson Contiki

If you missed part 1, find it here. All caught up? Great! Now on to part 2!

The Business of Wanderlust – The story of John Anderson, Founder – Contiki Holidays {Part 2}


As part 1 of the interview drew to a close, John spoke to me about the many love stories that came to be on Contiki tours including his own…

Me: I have never been on a Contiki tour, but I have spoken to so many people who have been on one, and everybody recounted their time touring with Contiki with such fondness. They talk about friendships that have lasted years and decades, and countless people including yourself have found their life partners while on tour. Do you recollect any special story that totally stands out amidst the box of life-changing experiences?

John: I would have never found my wife If I had not taken that tour (laughs)! Its amazing Sabeen, how many people it has touched. Its amazing how many times it changed their lives. You mention about meetups, there are still reunions going on forty years on!

Me: Wow !

John: Not too long ago, I went to a reunion of passengers who had traveled on Contiki, it was twenty member touring party who took the tour in 1965, and sixteen of that original group had turned up for the meetup! Fifty years on! Unbelievable isn’t it?

Me: That is seriously unbelievable John…

John: When it comes to marriages, I have a great story for you. There was this girl who contacted me to tell her story. She said that she was quite an introvert and her mother forced her to go overseas to Europe on a trip. She eventually met her life partner on the trip! When they got married, the bridesmaid and groomsmen were passengers, when they had children, their godparents were passengers! The stories do not end there. Few days ago I was having lunch where a guy mentioned, not only did he meet his wife on a tour, their daughter Catherine was conceived on a tour, and then, listen to this, twenty years later , Catherine found his life-partner within a Contiki staff while she was on a Contiki tour. So thats a full circle right there, from two strangers meeting, the conception of their child, and the she ends marrying a staff of Contiki! I think its amazing.

Me: It is fascinating to hear these stories.

John: Do you know, we get five or six marriages of one tour? In a tour of 50, you often get two or three, with the odd trip pulling of five or six ! Things happen when you throw a lot of young people together, particularly if they are single, and really why not, love is a beautiful feeling!

Me: Absolutely. Moreover, the environment itself is so uninhibited, people be themselves, having a good time and you are in that happy sort of mode, after-all holidays are all about being happy.

John: Come to think of it, Contiki is a great company to work with because its all about fun, young people, experiencing things together, the staff is young and vibrant, particularly those on the road in Europe, some of them are simply outstanding, a lot of them of-course come back and make careers, and often they say their training with the company, what it had taught them later in life to achieve, and go on to do great things. I don’t have a Prime Minister yet ( laughs ) but captains of industries are certainly present amongst the contiki alumni.

 Me:John, tell us a little bit about your autobiography – Only Two Seats Left. It is about your journey with Contiki. What inspired you to write a book?

John: It’s a story that had to be told, how an idea became an international iconic brand in several countries, and I thought I have got to tell the story, because I am the only one who knows it and I have been there from start to finish. Secondly, I wanted the people who were involved in the beginning to know what the company went on to do. I realized that is is eventually going to be a business book where I would share the learnings of my life, in a story form. So the book is an autobiography related to travel and business but in-fact when you read it, it reads like a novel. There are two murders in there, a chapter on my court cases, Its just a very entertaining read and I hope it inspires readers to go out there and achieve great things. I was a B-class boy in school for goodness sake and I went on to establish an International company. Its all about the right attitude, getting the right people around you to help you and do solve problems and innovate.

Me: John I recently read a quote by the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and hit me quite strongly, especially as someone who is trying to start out too. The quote goes like this – “Entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time” – Would you say it’s been true for your journey as well?

John: Oh, absolutely. Particularly, the brave entrepreneurs. Quite often a brave entrepreneur comes up with an idea that at first glance seems crazy, and the more risky it seems to be internally, the more hindrance he faces from people, both internal and external. Its not easy for people to see through the founder’s vision, not at all. I touch upon all sorts of risks taken by me in the book, including an idea of moving our headquarters to Hong Kong for better taxation instead of keeping it in UK. Everybody thought I was crazy. If you listen to all the negative response, you will never do it. You have to hold very strongly to your core beliefs, because if you don’t others will convince you that its not worth giving it a go. Of-course, you should definitely listen to and analyze all the feedback you get from your close ones, so that most decisions you take is driven by rationality and data. I didn’t always listen, I was a bit bloody minded, entrepreneurs are a bit like that, they do not like hearing No, and this you will read in the book, I was advised not to do Hotel and Resorts by a few close ones, but I did and that undid me! So sometimes you have to draw the line, take feedback in, rationalize and act judiciously.

Me: You have a wonderful life story John, but is there anything that you would go back and change?

I’d say, on the business side, I would have gone with a business partner much early on. Two heads are better than one, you share the decision making and you share the risk of capital, you also get there twice as quick! So yes, if you can, get a co-founder while starting a company. On the personal side, however much I would hate to admit, what I would change is , when you have your own business, it consumes you, and the business became more important than your family. I have four children, I would often go to work in the morning when the children were in bed, and then when I got back in night, they were already asleep. I did not give my children a whole lot of time up until their age of five. Now I often advise people who are starting a business, make sure you get your balance right, sure if you can get the company up and running it will enable you to provide in a much a better way, but always look to keep a balance.

Me: Thank you John, that’s a great piece of advice. We have come to fag end of this interview! Here is my last question – What would you have to say to our readers about life, love and following your dreams?

John: (Smiles) I will give you my favourite quote by Arthur Rubinstein, the renowned classical pianist – “Love life, and life will love you back, love people and they will love you back”.

Me: Wow

John: And about following your dreams, it’s all about attitude, belief in yourself, belief in what you want to do, and go for it. That’s exactly what I did.

Me: You have a sensational life story John Anderson, thank you so very much for speaking with us.

John: Thanks for having me, Sabeen. You take care, go forth and make your dreams come true and I hope your readers find this tete-a-tete valuable ( Smiles ).

What a personality, what a remarkable life story. A big THANKYOU to John Anderson for being a guest on Mumchic and sharing with us his amazing story which I am sure has inspired many.

What is your favourite part of John’s story?

Linking up with the gorgeous Grace  via With Some Grace for FYBF.

Only Two Seats Left is available in all good book stores and also online here.

Disclaimer :This article is NOT a paid endorsement for either John Anderson or Contiki Holidays. John agreed to be interviewed for the article after I contacted him and requested him share his story with us.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Sunset And The Summer’s Wind.

canberra sunset

The summer wind came blowin’ in
From across the sea
It lingered there to touch your hair
And walk with me

All summer long
we sang a song
And then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind

Like painted kites, those days and nights
They went flying by
The world was new beneath the blue
Umbrella sky

Then softer than a piper man
One day, it called to you
I lost you I lost you to
The summer wind

The Summer Wind – Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Have you heard the song?

Linking up with Twinkle In The Eye Blog  and My Little Drummer Boys   for Wordless Wednesday.

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thirty something

The Quintessential Birthday Post And Life’s Second Chances.

The Quintessential Birthday Post.

 

34.

It’s not a big birthday. Hardly so. But as another year of my life winds to a close, I find myself reflecting back to my big 30th.

Let me take you back to 2009. The year I turned 30. The year I changed my life… for good.

It was a year of awakening for me, the year that I decided I would not survive any longer under oppression, I wanted to LIVE. I wanted my children to experience life fully, unfiltered. Lying just ahead was a monumental task for someone who felt defeated. In 2009, my self esteem had hit record lows, a battered personality and a broken soul.

What followed was a battle against the odds. A fight I will never forget.I stood my ground, firmly..surprising myself and those around me. It is a long story and while I will not get into all the details of it today, lets just say it was never pleasant. If ever, my strength and resilience have been tested, this was it. Turning 30 was like going through a personal avalanche. Read more about my thoughts on turning  30 here.

Fast Forward 4 years.

A few hard facts and a recap.

You make a choice. You stick by it. Simple.

My life is far from perfect but it is a lot more peaceful than it would have been in a toxic situation.

The biggest criticism I copped was that I was making a decision for myself but not for my children. Errr say that again and I might clobber ya!

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. Solo-parenting harder. But when I see their innocent smiles, their twinkling eyes brimming with michief, curiosity and love tucked away somewhere in there too, softly nestled in the many lazy morning cuddles…all the exhaustion of solo parenting melts away.

At 16, I wanted to be a writer. Post babies, my wonderful friend and one of most inspiring writers I know, Miss R encouraged me to write how I was feeling as I went through severe depression, I didn’t get very far. Then one day in 2012 the baby sister said , you cook so well, why not start a blog?

Feb-12 I started writing again. Just like that.

I have realised that post 30, birthdays tend to matter less and sadly, even the baby sister is now old enough to be treated like an adult! That makes me feel OLD , instantly.

At 30, I established I had many acquaintances but very few genuine friends. The past 4 years have strongly cemented that.

I have resurrected for my children and myself a life without any external assistance from anyone. A part of me is very proud. And yet, there are many places to go, lots more to accomplish.

Last but not the least important, life gives us a second chance and when it does, we must grab it, with both hands. That one split second, that one second chance has the potential to change the course of our lives forever.

I will leave you with a picture from this day last year that is very special to me and a verse from a poem I read very often.

Birthday

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Have you ever taken a chance that changed the course of your life completely?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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wonder winnies by nudie

A Perfect Little Pick Me Up From Wonder Winnies {Review}

It’s been a scorcher of a summer here in Australia and as surprising as this may sound, I don’t do summer very well. Perhaps it has something to do with growing up in a hot and humid country, the heat makes me want to turn the aircon on full blast and drink down insane amounts of water/coke or any other beverage as long as it’s chilled. Oh and yeah, I wouldn’t bother talking to me until the mercury drops to a cool and comfortable 20ish.

Woder winnies review

Sometimes though,water doesn’t cut it and you can’t exactly OD on aerated drinks. Enter Wonder Winnies by Nudie. I have always been a fan of the Nudie range so no surprise that I loved doing a taste test on these delicious drinks when they arrived in the post the other day. Sweetened with stevia, and enhanced with natural herbs, Wonder Winnies are a fantastic  range of low calorie thirst quenchers – perfect on those really hot days when you need a little pick me up to grab and go. I personally loved mine chilled with heaps of ice. Yum!

Available in the following flavours :

  • Cranberry and Apple with Aloe Vera
  • Grapefruit with Gingko Biloba
  • Lemon and Apple with Guarana
  • Cranberry, Apple and Lemon with Echinacea
  • Cranberry and Raspberry with Rosehip

Tasty, healthy, convenient and affordable, the little wonders were also quite a hit with the kidlets, cranberry, apple and lemon with echinacea being voted the favourite!

Wonder Winnies are available at Woolworths Australia wide and all other good food stores. You can find out more about the Wonder Winnies range on their Facebook page.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer : This is NOT  a paid review for Wonder Winnies, all opinions are the author’s own. However, the author was provided with a set of drinks for review purposes.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Do You Count Calories?

 

portuguese custard tart

 

Somethings in life are worth every calorie spent , a lightly warmed up Portuguese Custard Tart is one of them.

 

Linking up with Twinkle In The Eye Blog  and My Little Drummer Boys  for Wordless Wednesday.

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only two seats left by john anderson

The Business of Wanderlust – The story of John Anderson, Founder of Contiki Holidays {Part 1}

wanderlust

noun

[mass noun]

  • a strong desire to travel:a man consumed by wanderlust


John Anderson Contiki

John Anderson took a particular liking towards Geography when he was in school. The maps tantalized him, called out to him. Little did he know, that many years later he would change the way people travel world over, making young travelers’ dreams to traverse across countries a reality, at a cost, that was unheard-of before.

When I first heard John speak at a conference, I was spellbound. He spoke about his life-story with tremendous fervour and passion, clearly a life well-lived. He talked about the genesis behind Contiki Holidays, an inspiring concoction of wanderlust, entrepreneurism and brilliant marketing. He talked about Contiki’s growth, the organisational challenges of scaling, the myriad complexities of currency, the numerous love stories and beautiful memories that made the journey worthwhile.

I want to learn more about this inspiring man, I told myself. I wanted to hear more about his journey of life. The power of the internet is sometimes mesmerising. I cold-emailed John, requesting him for a conversation, inviting him for an interview. And as luck would have it, in a couple of days, he gladly obliged.

The conversation that followed was a potent mix of entreprenuership, adventure, passion, travel that transcended over several decades. A truly inspiring life story, one that should be told and must be told! Grab a cuppa and read on, you never know this is a conversation that might change your life for good!

The Business of Wanderlust – The story of John Anderson, Founder – Contiki Holidays {Part 1}


Me : John, lets start from the start, your childhood. What is a memory from back then that you really cherish even today?

John : Well, I suppose I do not know when childhood really finishes off. Does it ever? ( Laughs) But I do recall that my parents separated when I was 5 and I did not see my father again until I was 8. I was very young then and reuniting with my father was a special event that still stands out in my mind. He went overseas thereafter and I met him much later in life when I went to London.

Me : That is pretty special! London is it where it all started, isn’t it? But before we get to that part of the story, I want to ask you this – As someone who redefined the way young people holidayed in the sixties and seventies, how and when did you yourself get the travel bug?

John : I have always been very keen on Geography in school, I don’t know what they call it today ( laughs ) and I have always been fascinated with various parts of the world, the different people and cultures, their history, the small nuances and in my teens I constantly met older people who had already been overseas and they used to come back with these amazing tales. I developed a deep desire to do it myself one day, sooner rather than later. The inhibiting factors to this was that in those days you needed to have a career which people understood ( both laugh) and of-course you needed to have money. So I went for a career first and started saving money so that I could make my dream a reality. I finally saved enough and started traveling when I was twenty-three years old. Mind you, twenty-three was very young those days, and in the sixties, it was very unusual for someone to go overseas at that age. It would be the equivalent to a sixteen year old of today.

Me : I can relate to that deeply. I became a mother very young and I have never done the travel but when you are young thing, but when I was still in my teens, I kept hearing these stories of people’s experiences and the travel bug bites you hard then. It is truly wonderful that you gave wings to your dream and defied conventions.

John : It’s never too late. Moreover, It was worth it (Smiles).

Me : Right! Lets get to the summer of 1962 then. You are twenty three. You were in London. Is that right John?

John : Absolutely! I arrived in London having traveled the East (Europe) a bit already with just twenty-five pounds in my pocket. Twenty Five dollars would be equivalent to five hundred US dollars today. Simply put, I was broke. But I had to find a way to see Europe in all its grandeur. That is when I had this idea – if I could put together a group of other young travelers, who would share accommodation and travel costs and cook their own meals – we could all probably travel at a very reasonable cost. So I put together an itinerary and advertised the tour, and I got eleven people to join me!At that stage, I had no money, no bus, no other passengers, and once I had one passenger booked, two more followed, and in no-time, I had eleven!

At that stage, I had no money, no bus, no other passengers, and once I had one passenger booked, two more followed, and in no-time, I had eleven!

Me : You did that little plug of ‘only two seats’ left to promote it a little bit, didn’t you? That was marketing genius!

John : (Laughs) Yes, I put this tour together and I gave the impression that that it was close to being fully booked with only two seats left. It’s amazing, and I have learnt this through various experiences in my life, if you make something hard for people to get, they often go on to wanting it really badly. I created this artificial scarcity, and advertised it nicely – There were only two seats left. Reading that note, someone came and asked – ‘Can I have one of the last seats please?’ This was a girl from Adelaide and I convinced her to book on the tour. At that stage, I had no money, no bus, no other passengers, and once I had one passenger booked, two more followed, and in no-time, I had eleven!

Me : This is just fascinating. This is the part where I heard you at the conference and thought , boy, this is an example of such pure hustle and ingenious marketing. In today’s day and age, we call such events going viral !

John : Oh yeah ! ( Smiles )

Me : John, there is a story amongst one of those first tours – and I remember you mentioning this as well elsewhere – you thought there wouldn’t be any money left, or enough money left to get the travel party to Spain, which was the next destination. So you decided to take a calculated risk there, didn’t you?

John : Yes, it was the second tour in the first year. I took one tour around, and then I took another, but on the second tour, I was close to running out of money ten days before the trip was supposed to end. I had to find a way around it. That is when I decided to try my luck at a local casino!  Of-course, the story had a happy ending, I had just about enough money to get my passengers back to London, but with my casino earnings, I made it sure the trip would be completed in its entirety. It is wonderful story and looks double interesting in hindsight ! I always recommend people to give things a try ( not necessarily at a casino though, ha ), if you do not, you will never know. If I had lost at the casino, I would have had to tell everybody and maybe something else positive would have transpired from there. Its important to keep pushing the envelope.

Me: That is such a great message for people out there you are looking at taking something forward but are not able to because of various reasons – “Give something a go” and you never know what happens next.

John: Moreover, if you have an idea, do not research it to death. If you do, you might end up  never doing it,  because then you come up with all the downsides. I often would judge things by listing down the positives and the negatives and then if my gut feel says its worth it, then l say lets give it a try, and If it doesn’t work, try something else. If you read my book, you will see I tried all sorts of things that did not work out, but I did try, and a lot of things I tried, did work out brilliantly of-course.

If we believe we ought to do something, we figure out a way to do it. It is this inner confidence that entrepreneurs have pushes them forward. Infact I think that entrepreneurs are born and leaders are made.

Me: Fantastic! John, I am sure the first few months of your European sojourns were all fun and travel, but what was that one moment when you realised that Contiki could be huge and you really want to pursue this for long?

John: Well, I am an entrepreneur and entrepreneurs are funny beasts, we don’t have a negative thought, we can often be quite dangerous because we get carried away playing with our fertile minds. If we believe we ought to do something, we figure out a way to do it. It is this inner confidence that entrepreneurs have pushes them forward. Infact I think that entrepreneurs are born and leaders are made. I have met lots of entrepreneurs and they all have a natural sort of attitude to life. Things kept happening while I was building Contiki and I just kept going with the flow. I am still doing crazy things actually, traveling across South America at my age!

Me: John, when you grow a brand you face a myriad of challenges, what sort of difficulties did you face , how did you rise above competition and what do you think was an advantage?

John: I learnt early on that in business honesty and integrity is fundamental. I knew I had a product that a lot of young Australians and New Zealanders coming over to Europe in the sixties wanted strongly. Beyond that, the secret behind why the brand has lasted really comes down to a number of things, I am a great believer in Quality and I established a high level of quality  across all functions of Contiki, the product itself was uniquely positioned and personalized heavily, we also had a good pulse on the details of what different customers wanted, we were good at selling our product and we were constantly innovating. Just because a tour worked this year, we never automatically assumed that it would work next year as well. All these factors contributed in Contiki growing as a business and a brand. When I look at Contiki today, the product is in essence the same, but they have fine tuned it to what the market wants today. In the sixties, people wanted to go for around three months to travel around Europe, but now they won’t go for six weeks. So yes, you need a product that is strong and you need to know how to sell it well.  Its no good having one without the other.

Me: So you put a lot of emphasis on Sales and Marketing right from the get go of the venture?

John: Absolutely. Moreover, on the marketing side, its a very data driven approach these days. We do a huge amount of research, constantly. The travel agents actually log what the customers are coming in and looking for, we research passengers that we did not get, we research why did they not go on our tours, we research why they went on our competitors’ tours, and we also research people who are on tour, get their feedback on what would they want us to do differently, what are the things that worked from them. We are constantly monitoring the satisfaction or dissatisfaction levels of our customers, and all this data is channeled back into our marketing campaigns, as well as decisions around the product. Also, social media plays a big part in the building of a brand these days,  not only do potential customers interact with us on channels like Twitter and Facebook, they can also meet their potential tour partners on these channels and the Contiki website, a month before they are actually going on tour!

Me: I totally agree. It is a completely different world out there these days, the pace of innovation around human communication is breathtaking to watch.

John: Yes absolutely, It’s all about having the right information before you decide and having a more satisfying experience in the process.

 

I would have never found my wife If I had not taken that tour.

Me: I have never been on a Contiki tour myself, but I have spoken to so many people who have been on one including Mumchic readers, and everyone recounted their time touring with Contiki with such fondness. They talk about friendships that have lasted years and decades, and countless people including yourself have found their life partners while on tour. Do you recollect any special story that totally stands out amidst the box of life-changing experiences?

John: I would have never found my wife If I had not taken that tour (laughs)! Its amazing Sabeen, how many people it has touched. Its amazing how many times it changed their lives. You mention about meetups, there are still reunions going on forty years on!

How romantic.. John met his wife on a Contiki Tour! I bet you are hooked by now !

And that is a wrap of Part 1 of my interview with John Anderson. In the next and final part, John and I delve further into the Business Of Wanderlust and  what inspired him to write an autobiography, now a published book,  “Only Two Seats Left”.

 

So far, what is your best takeaway from John Anderson’s interview?

{Stay Tuned for Part 2!}

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT

Disclaimer :This article is NOT a paid endorsement for either John Anderson or Contiki Holidays. John agreed to be interviewed for the article after I contacted him and requested him share his story with us.

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The Promise.

pandora ring

“Some people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said.

“Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.”

 - John Green

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The Boy Who Dreams.

I found this picture of me with my eldest from earlier this year on my phone and the moment I saw it, I knew it had to be shared. My second thought was I don’t share nearly enough stories or pictures of FS#2 as I do of FS#1 so that will definitely have to change this year! Imagine, the poor lad being scarred for life for lack of mention on mum’s blog … just in case Mumchic becomes a big deal…. a girl’s gotta be prepared for all eventualities you know!

Back to Fs#1 for now though, he has a striking personality that is very much beginning to come into its own. Among his many wonderful traits, here are some. He is headstrong, righteous, kind, confident, intelligent and stubborn. He has a generous, giving heart…a crab like tough exterior but beautifully tender on the inside. FS#1 has a thinking, perceptive mind, some times too perceptive for his my own good. Like me , he too has big dreams.

And that is where I will leave you. With a precious moment and with words that best speak his story.

raising a good son

There is more to a boy than what his mother sees. There is more to a boy then what his father dreams. Inside every boy lies a heart that beats. And sometimes it screams, refusing to take defeat. And sometimes his father’s dreams aren’t big enough, and sometimes his mother’s vision isn’t long enough. And sometimes the boy has to dream his own dreams and break through the clouds with his own sunbeams.

- Ben Behunin

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budons

Back To School Stationery Fun With Budons {Review & Giveaway}

Growing up, I absolutely LOVED picking out  fresh stationery for the new school year. From what I gather, not much has changed! Kids (and their parents if you are anything like me) still get all excited when it comes to buying new stationery and getting organised for the year ahead! Fabulous Son 2 has already declared we will be covering all his books with Batman contact this year!

photo 2 (16) budons stationery

Speaking of individualising stationery for back to school in 2013, we were absolutely delighted to receive our little package to review from Budons. Their uber cool range of stationery ticks all the boxes for a fun and funky back to school experience for the kids. Available in a large variety to pick from, the adorable and vibrant clip-on characters are the highlight of Budons stationery. They can be clipped on to pencil cases, lunch bags, backpacks, folder and notebooks to create a customised look to suit your child’s mood and style. The clip-on characters can even be bought as a cool eraser and are totally affordable at $1.50 a piece.

Never lose or mix up school or gym bags with colourful good-sized bag tags, infact they would be great for kids’ luggage too! Budons A5 notebooks make great writing journals for the tweens in the family(perfect as a birthday present too!) .And if that’s not awesome enough, the yummylicious smelling scratch and sniff notebooks and sticky notes are absolutely gorgeous and will be a sure-fire hit with the jotters and scribblers!

To get your own Budons fix, head over to your local Target store, this unique range is now available nationally or to win a prize pack similar to the one featured above, enter our giveaway now!

{Giveaway} – New Winner Announced!

This giveaway has now closed. Winner will be announced on January 28th 2013.

And the winner is :

~Michelle V~ Your creative poem on headlice infestation totally rocked my boat!

Congratulations Michelle V and well done :)

Please email me on mumschic@gmail.com with your address to receive your Budons prize pack.

a BIG thank you to everyone who took the time to enter this competition.You are all fabulous !!!

To make back to school a breeze in 2013, the generous folks at Budons are giving one Mumchic reader a chance to win a Budons prize pack valued at $40. Here’s how to enter!

1. What is the one thing you don’t like about the kids getting back to school? {Please leave your answer in the comments below}

2. Follow our Faceboook page here or our Twitter page here  or follow this blog via email and let us know that you did!

And you are in! It is as easy as that.

The most unique answer wins a Budons pack worth $40.

Good Luck!

T&C’s

*only one entry per person
*you must be an Australian resident with a valid Australian postal address
*all entries will be verified for all of the above steps
*ONE prize pack only. Valued at $40
*contents of this prize pack may vary from those shown in this post
*entries will close at 10:30pm on Tuesday, the 22nd January 2013
*winner will be notified via email & will be announced on the blog
*judge’s decision is final
*prizes are not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash
*prizes will not be replaced in the event that they are stolen, lost or damaged in transit
*prize will be sent by a third party, Mumchic accepts no liability for the prize in any way

Disclaimer : No cash was received for this post, however Budons provided us with product to review.

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{Wordless Wednesday} Things That Catch My Heart.

Canberra sunset lake burleigh Griffin

There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.

- Michael Nolan

 

Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys and Twinkle In The Eye Blog for Wordless Wednesday.

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Scary Dinosaurs at taronga

Dinosaurs Found!!!! Alive And Well At Taronga Zoo {Our Big Sydney Adventure Trip}

Ah great! I have managed to catch your attention? Good! Now tell me, do you follow Mumchic on Facebook and Twitter? No? Ok follow now {hint : click on links above}

Done? Yay!

Aren’t you wonderful?!

So for those of you who have been following us on Facebook and Twitter, you might have read the stream and seen the pictures floating around from our big adventure trip to Sydney last weekend courtesy of the uber awesome folks at Countrylink. Oh what a trip it was !

As promised, here is a full wrap of the trip in words and pictures. Enjoy!

Day 1 

We took the Sydney Xplorer train from Canberra’s Kingston railway station – grandpa and grandma visiting from Pakistan in tow! It is a pretty comfy ride especially when you are travelling with the little ones with a lot of room to move around. No getting crammed into little seats. It was a hot day so the cooling helped considerably as we made our way to Sydney! We checked into the very centrally positioned Citigate Central and were greeted with smiles and drinks at the bistro while our room was being prepared.

photo (34)

With a big day planned for the next day, we had an easy night strolling around the Sydney CBD , Chinatown and the Darling Harbour precinct. If you are looking for a great asian meal in the Sydney CBD area, I wouldn’t look past the Golden Century Restaurant with their live seafood and delightful meals, this one can’t be missed! For dessert, we headed to the Lindt Cafe at Darling Harbour. A slice of their St.Moritz cake is absolutely divine {featured}

Night out in Sydney

Day 2

We started off with a yummy buffet breakfast at our hotel in the morning, all set for a big day ahead.{Look out for the picture where FS2 decided to have chocolate sauce with a small drizzle of pancakes for breakfast!}

The ferry ride from Darling Harbour to Taronga Zoo was spectacular taking in all of Sydney harbour’s landmark sights! We were fortunate enough to get up,close and personal with the Voyager Of The Seas – what a grand cruise liner, it was like a mini-city on it’s own -Ah to go on a cruise someday…

Ferry Ride from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo

After being ferried to Taronga , we took the sky lift up to the Zoo. Truly a wild and unforgettable experience, the zoo is a must-see Sydney attraction. My personal favourites were the Gorillas, you could just watch them for hours , so fascinating they are! The Dinosaurs In The Wild exhibition currently running at the zoo got a massive tick from the boys. We even got to meet T-Rex, does it get any better?! {Look out for the pictures}

Taronga Zoo

Along with the display, there is a lot to learn about these brilliant life-like, life-size creatures and I would highly recommend spending a few minutes at each display getting to know a bit more about the dinos. You can often find zoo staff near the displays who are more than happy to have a little chat about the dinosaurs’ special features.

Dinosaurs In The Wild - Taronga Zoo

That night the boys were only too happy to cool off at the hotel pool – perfect way to relax after a long day. If heading to the Zoo these summer school holidays, I would highly recommend packing plenty of cool drinks, nibblies , hats, lots of sun screen and big smiles! Then you’re all set for your big day out!

Day 3

Like all good things, our wonderful Sydney trip too came to an end and we headed back to a still steaming Canberra with countless special moments tucked safely in our memories. A big thankyou to Countrylink for presenting us with this fantastic opportunity!

If you too would like to take a fun and adventurous family trip to Sydney, contact Countylink Holidays online or by phone on 132829. 

The Dinosaurs In The Wild Exhibition runs until February 3rd 2012 and is a must visit attraction! For more information , you can find the brochure here.

{This is not a paid endorsement for Countrylink, however an all expenses paid trip to Sydney was provided to the writer and all her guests for review purposes}

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What I Love About My Son Having An Ipod!

So Fab Son 1 aka R got an Apple iPod Touch 5th Generation for his 9th birthday late 2012 , if you missed the totally cute and watch worthy video from the big day, you will find it here. Pretty cool eh?

Over the Christmas break and school summer holidays, the iPod has become FS1′s best friend and fair enough, he has been waiting for it for TWO whole years after all ! Sarcasms aside, R has waited quite patiently so it is a well deserved birthday present and absolutely no surprise that I have now lost a son to the world of iTunes, iPod apps and games I had no idea even existed. Angry Birds is as far as I will go. But these days, it is all about the technology and cool gadgets. It’s a boy thing too I suppose ( for further explanations, read here).

As with all technology, it can either be a blessing or a menace. Bearing this in mind, I am quite  judicious with FS1′s usage of the iPod with strict rules on what can be downloaded and what can not and how much time he spends on it a day. So for example, come the start of school in Feb’13, the iPod will be safely tucked away only to be used on weekends but until then usage within reason is perfectly fine by me.

We are all aware of the dangers of children being exposed to technology but there are some fantastic benefits too! Apart from the fact that he can just about Google everything, he is aware how hot the next 3 days will be but what I love MOST about my son having an iPod is this!

modern day communication with children

This exchange happened last week while my super amazing parents were looking after the kids so I could peacefully go to work.

I LOVE how I can talk to my son no matter where I am and he doesn’t need to have a phone just yet, a wifi connection is just fine. I like the fact that I can get down to his level and communicate with him in a way in which he can relate to me. Funnily enough, the message hasn’t changed , the modes have, yep rooms still need to be cleaned, toys still need to be packed away and beds still need to be made!

Oh and the other reason is that he takes beautiful pictures! Have you seen this shot?

How do you see parent-child communication changing with technological developments? How do you cope?

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What Happens When You Look Fear In The Face?

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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Image Credit : Fabulous Son 2

Location : Cockington Green Gardens, Canberra

Link up : Linking up with Twinkle In The Eye Blog for Wordless Wednesday

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Do You Ever Sneak Chocolate?

divine chocolate cake

In that little space when everyone else has fallen asleep, when my mind drifts and tosses between the words on my screen, many half-written posts screaming for my attention and and the lure of my dreams.

When all the other sounds have dulled into the silence of the night. I am exhausted. Another long, hectic day with a more hectic weekend to come.

I sneak a small piece of chocolate cake. This moment and and every delicious morsel in it is mine and mine alone.

Sometimes, me time might mean a session at the spa and sometimes it is simply…

Solace by chocolate. 

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{Wordless Wednesday} Canberra Sleeps As The Sun Rises.

canberra sunrise

A sunny day in Canberra.

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Canberra CBD

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Empty Roads

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No Coffee :(

It is a lazy first day back at work for Canberrans. With many people still either away or on holidays, traffic is sparse with a slow trickle of cars and public buses on the road. The CBD is still recovering from the remnants of late night partying over the past few weeks. Even the good coffee joints are still shut.

Sigh, as the sun rises to a still very sleepy Canberra, itmight be a few weeks before this city comes back into full gear.

Linking up with Twinkle In The Eye Blog for Wordless Wednesday.

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Top 10 Annual Promises To Self – Made To Be Broken {Mostly}

New Year's resolutions

New Year’s resolutions , we all make them and more often than not, break them. How is 2013 going to be any different? Here’s a quick snapshot of  my annual promises to myself in no particular order.

1.At 7 & 9, these are the years the Fabulous 2 need me most so on the top of my list is to spend more time with my children. I will actively seek ways to work out of home so I can be around them as much as possible.

2.Save, save and SAVE without going too overboard. I am an accountant, I have some sort of absurd saving image to uphold. I think.

3. Take a mad amount of pictures. Even more than I did in 2012. Especially sunrises.

4. Give up chocolate… Nah scratch that, it never would have happened anyway!

4(a)Read.More.Books.

4(b)See my friends. Often.

5. Grow  Mumchic bigger and better in 2013. More inspiration, more food and more stories on parenting. A new layout is already in the works and will be up and running very soon. YAY!

6.Limit gadget use and more digital free time with the family. As much as we love our gadgets,  at times we tend to overuse them here at the HQ so for example, at dinner time, we will pass around a basket and everyone will hand in their phones, hand-held consoles, Ipods and have a good old family time. The same for dinners at restaurants. In fact a great idea came from my sister – everyone keeps their phone at one end of the dinner table when dining out, the first one to reach for their phone has to pay! Pretty cool eh ?

7. Begin planning my trip to Europe (the one I need to do before I turn 35) – Which is solely dependent on the success of point 2.

8. Grow more veggies, herbs, flowers and fruits. Since moving to the new apartment, I have been actively gardening and thoroughly enjoying it! I don’t know a lot and neither do I have a green thumb but I feel that its a wonderful hobby to cultivate in the New Year and I can’t wait to learn more.

9. I need to learn how to take naps and breaks to rejuvenate myself to prevent burn out. I need to allow others to help me… especially those who want to help and trust them others with things.In short, I need to chill out.

10. Continue having 20 minute chats with the fab 2 before they fall asleep, amazing how wonderful those sleepy conversations can be!

Apart from the above, there are the usual yearly resolutions like getting fit, staying calm, eating healthy, getting and staying organised ,adhering to a budget, less shopping , err nevermind!

And with that, its an official wrap of 2012 for me. A year that has tested me in a myriad ways. I think I have come through unscathed, mostly. Also a year that has given my life a brand new direction with this blog.

 2012, it has been a journey indeed. 2013 , it’s time to shine!

What are your resolutions for 2013? Share with us here your top 3. If you have written a post on your resolutions, feel free to share the link in the comments section of this post.

Here’s to a positive, happy, safe and prosperous 2013.

Happy New Year All.

Much Love,

Sabeen

Image Credit : Some-ecards.

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A Wish From Us To You.

Christmas wishes

Thank you for your fantastic support over 2012, thank you for helping me  make Mumchic a dream come true. We have some fantastic tie ups coming up in the New Year including a couple of great giveaways. Stay tuned for details.

But for now, here is a wish, from us to you. 

Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your  families, friends and loved ones. May it be a time of great happiness, warmth and laughter for you all. May 2013 be a year of wonderful new beginnings, may all your hopes and dreams come true.

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Entertaining Made Simple And Delightful by Baker’s Delight.

And here it is! Christmas Eve is finally upon us and after weeks of preparation, intense shopping sprees, present buying dilemmas, numerous trips to the post office and evenings spent wrapping presents. A couple of posts ago, we talked about how the lead up to Christmas can be a busy and anxious time for many families( here is the post if you would like to read more) but now that the more complex bit is over,  everyone gets a chance to relax and spend some much needed quality time with the family and loved ones.

Christmas and the holidays also mean there is a lot of entertaining to be done often with friends and family visiting from interstate, overseas or even those who drop around for a cuppa and if you are anything like me, you like to have a delicious spread to share with everyone. But even the most passionate of chefs sometimes need a break and that is where the simply delightful Baker’s Delight steps in. Their delectable Christmas range takes the stress out of ensuring that there’s always something special to share around.

With Christmas now just hours away, if you find yourself in a last minute frenzy about putting together a decent spread or just need something for the family to nibble on with their first cup of tea or coffee on Christmas morning, Baker’s Delight have got you covered! These yummy treats were kindly sent to us from the wonderful folks at Baker’s Delight and are sure to spark some entertaining inspiration :)

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First up is this rich, dark and moist  Christmas Cake, generously dowsed in glazed cherries, sultanas and currants. Full marks for taste, texture and presentation. This cake comes in a small individual serve style or a large (enough to serve 8-10).

Fruit mince pies by bakers delight

Next are these absolutely delicious Fruit Mince Pies , the pastry is a perfect blend of buttery and flaky and I love the warmly spiced fruit mince mixture. I love mine slightly warmed up in a snack oven and they go really well with a hot cup of coffee to balance out the sweetness… although being a sweet tooth, I could have them just about any time! Sold as individuals or in a pack of 6, also a great gift to bring around if you are going to a Chrissy do.

 

Baker's delight lemon and cream cheese swirl

Next in line are the very divine lemon and cream cheese swirl and scrolls from Baker’s Delight’s brand new Lemon And Cream Cheese range. These are completely wow and are sure to impress the most fussiest eaters. There is a hint of nutmeg and lemon zest  and the cream cheese icing compliments the soft buttered bread swirls. Comes in a beautifully presented pull-apart or individual serves.

So that’s all your sweets sorted!

Now lets throw together some easy-peasy savoury ideas.

Canapes are always a hit. How about dishing up a plate of crackers individually topped with :

  • a slice of cheese
  • a small slice of tomato
  • a slice of olive

 

You could  do up little pizza slices, these are a sure fire hit with the younger lot. Keep it simple with a pre-prepared pizza base and relatively readily available toppings such as :

  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Meat of your choice

Use a pizza wheel to cut into two-bite squares.

Plus I have never known an adult who could refuse pizza.

 

Bread and Dip is a winner.

How about an  artisan bread like a olive and fetta loaf paired with a gourmet dip like Babaganoush?

For those watching their waistlines and to add a splash of colour to the table , how about a cheese,olives and fruit platter. Watermelon and mangoes are hugely popular with everyone at this time of the year here in Australia!

So there we have it, fret no more and head over to your local Baker’s Delight store and let them take care of all your Christmas entertaining needs.

Do you have a special Christmas  recipe that you’d like to share with our readers? Feel free to share the link in the comments section!

Signing off for now but I will be back later today to bring you some special wishes from Mumchic HQ.

{This is not a paid endorsement for Baker’s Delight, however products were provided for review purposes}

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Beautiful Sunsets And Pink Ribbon Skies.

Come watch with me the shaft of fire that glows in yonder west: the fair, frail palaces, the fading alps and archipelagoes, And great cloud-continents of sunset-seas.

- Thomas Bailey Aldrich

This is a follow up post from yesterday’s photo session at  the Red Hill Lookout here in Canberra, for anyone who visits the capital, this is a beautiful hidden gem.  I snuck a  picture of my truly adorable and still very romantic parents enjoying the setting sun, turns out it is one of my favourite shots from yesterday.

Camera : Iphone 4s

No filters have been used to edit these photos.

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The Day The World Didn’t End.

21/12/12

The day the world didn’t end

Putting the Mayans and their miscalculations aside for a bit, the whole end of the world shebang gave people a reason to host end of the world parties, get married, make babies even! Heck one of the many online shopping sites I subscribe to  even had an end of the world sale. I am a shopaholic, the word “sale” is like gospel to me. But even I didn’t find that amusing. I mean why would I need a portable power pack for $199 if the world was about to end anway?!?

the end of the world

 

Go figure!                                                                                                                 

Well looks like we have  well and truly survived this apocalypse, congratulations! I must admit that while I had been skeptical about the whole thing from the start, a little voice in me did say a silent prayer of gratitude for being alive when I opened my eyes this morning. With the 21/12/12 end of the world theory out of the way, a lot of people have turned their focus towards how the world has entered an era of peace and tranquility. Amen to that.

And that is enough from me on the subject. I will leave you with a beautiful shot from this afternoon ; The Sun embraces the Earth as it has every single day for 4.54 billion years (thankyou Wiki).

The day after….

The day the world didn’t end.

Sunset Canberra

(There are more pictures to come from today’s photography session, stay tuned!)

What were your thoughts on the world end scare? Did you half expect something drastic or dramatic to happen on 21/12/12 ?

Location : Red Hill Lookout – Canberra Australia 

Camera : Iphone 4S

Photography : Yours Truly

 

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A Note To My Children.

noone else will ever kn

My dearest, precious sons; my fabulous 2,

I am sorry I had a meltdown today. I apologise that I was in tears on our ride to school. Instead of the usual positive affirmations followed by humming to your favourite songs, I felt upset and angry. I could tell you felt sad as you walked away from the car this morning, so did I.

I know that you are tired and ready for a break. This term at school in particular has been long especially this week and the hotter days haven’t helped either.I know that you are extra sensitive about the smallest things and with the buzz, excitement and anticipation of the holidays around the corner, it can all get a bit too overwhelming. I want to magically make it all okay for you. Only if.

I wonder if you have noticed…

My nerves have been frayed for a few weeks now , I am anxious, stressed and I too like you am ready for a break. Perhaps that is why sometimes I seem less patient than usual. Bear with me.

I know you think I am super mum, the person who is always in control, calm and strong. The one person who is supposed to make it all perfect.I promise you I am trying.. so very hard to make it all perfect for you.

But I have my moments. Like you, I am tired too.

Today, you are too little to understand but I hope that someday you will look back and appreciate the little thoughts and gestures that went into raising you. I hope that you will see the challenges and the sacrifices. There will be a time when the “nos” make perfect sense.

At many points in life, I may stop you, reprimand you or correct you. I may even do things that embarrass you. You might not think much of me when I do so but I promise you, it is not because I want to hurt your feelings or that I love you any less, it is because I love you more than anyone else ever will.

After all, you are the only ones who know what my heart sounds like from inside.

I Love You,

Mummy

{Too often, we are so caught up in making everything right for everyone else especially over the festive period, we forget to take care of ourselves  and we  might end up being harsh on those we love the most. This post is also dedicated  to everyone out there who is feeling the stress and anxiety of the season. Step back, breathe, take a momentary break if you can  and start afresh when you are ready. And that is exactly what I am going to be doing this weekend}

P.S – With 5 days left till Christmas, do not underestimate the power of listing, it works!

How are you coping with the stresses that come along with the festive season? How much shopping do you still need to do before Tuesday?

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A New Day.

renew-yourself-today-is-a-new-day

Let the sun rise on inspired optimism; let it set on humbled gratitude.

- Grady L Crosslin

Have a wonderful, positive and inspired week ahead.

Sabeen

Image Credit : http://dailypositivequotes.com/quotes/renew-yourself-today-is-a-new-day

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2013

Where Has December Gone?

It is the 14th of December and I feel like the month has simply whizzed past me. It is roughly 10 sleeps till Christmas and 17 sleeps until we hit 2013! I am not so sure I am ready for 2012 to end already, it seems to have flown. Jan 2013 also means I turn 34, there is still SO much I need to cross off my list before I turn 35 including a trip to Europe. For which I need to save. For which I need to stop looking at clothes. Which is never going to happen. Although 2013 might be different. Might.

Anyway, I think I might do a special New Year’s resolution ( aka those silly rules I break every single year) post next week but now  its time to bring you upto speed with what’s been happening in my life so far this month and a few exciting things coming up on the blog!

The fabulous two have made it through another successful year at school and I couldn’t be happier with how they have come along especially with FS #3 with his brilliant reading, we are so lucky and blessed to be at such a wonderful school!

The boys had their first Tae Kwon Do grading followed by the school fete late November.

Then there was the work multicultural lunch, I brought a traditional Pakistani Karahi, it was a complete sell out. (shameless self promotion)

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One of my dearest, oldest and most wonderful friends here in Canberra packed up her house and moved with her clan of 6 to sunny Queensland. Although we didn’t see each other as much as we would have liked in recent years, I will miss her presence tremendously but I also know its for the best for her and her family. Love you Trina!

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Pic from her farewell dinner.

My first bestie in Australia and a brilliant writer, Ro visited Canberra on a 2 day networking event. I forgot to snap some pictures on the day but we had a lovely dinner at the HQ.

We put up our first ever Christmas tree!

Isn’t it gorgeous?

My baby sister who braved the isolating winters of Canberra for two whole years in the pursuit of a high quality education has now graduated with a Masters Of Management and a Masters of Business Administration from the Australian National University. At various points in the past two years, I thought she would strangle me alive if I asked her to come over one more time. No doubt, it has been a difficult and gruelling time for her juggling a job and a couple of degrees in what seems like a very competitive, cut throat environment. But she made it through and with flying colours too and so we are very very proud! Good on you sis :)

And to celebrate the graduation, we were joined by none other than the two very special people who have taught us all we know about life. Our parents.

Then there was the school Christmas carols night, after school care Chrissy party, work party, various end of year parties for programs the boys were attending at school. And there is still more to come with writing out cards for school this weekend and preparing presents for teachers. As much as I love this time of the year with all the color, warmth and festivities, I just find that I end up spreading myself too thin each and every year. I do wish I had better strategies in place to cope with all that has to happen come December!

But enough on the personal front. While its been quiet here on the blog, there have been a lot of exciting things happening in the background. So here is what you can look forward to in the next few weeks here on the blog :

An inspiring interview with John Andersen, Founder – Contiki Holidays

2 new features being introduced on the blog :

  • Empowered Mothers
  • Enterprising Entrepreneurs

A Baker’s Delight sponsored Sunday brunch

Possibly a new blog design ( Yes I know its so exciting);

And several fantastic reviews and promotional giveaways.

From what I can see, Mumchic.com is going to rock in 2013..fingers crossed :)

How about you ? How is December turning out for you ? Are you ready for 2013?

Are you like me wondering…Where has December gone?

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You know you love your children unconditionally when….

You know you love your children unconditionally when after a harrowing and distressful ( the tear your hair and have a complete meltdown kind) morning just before getting to school, you still spend the day thinking of them and feeling guilty for yelling at them.  You know you love your children unconditionally when after a hectic and busy week, you get to have a  well-deserved break while they visit their father. Instead of kicking back and relaxing the down time, you end up talking about them and sharing some of their funniest moments with a friend.

It breaks my heart each time I  have to let them go. It has been two years, it is never easy. I can only imagine how they must feel, split between two homes.I blame myself at times for stealing away from them a chance at a “conventional” childhood. For choosing a path which will always be harder. But I hope that one day they will understand why I did what I did. I hope that that is  the day they realise how unconditionally I have loved them.

raising two boys

 

How about you ? When do you love your child/loved ones unconditionally?

Happy weekend all :)

 

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Looking For A Book To Read This Weekend ?

Intellect and love are made of different materials,” he said. “Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.

~ Elif Shafak

Feel like having one of those weekends where you could just curl up on the couch and read and read and read ? (Oh you might get up and have a coffee in between I said might) .Then this post is just for you!

A couple of days ago my dad (an avid reader) updated his Facebook status with a rave one line review of “Fort Rules Of Love” by Elif Shafak. Now,usually you are meant to ignore your parents’ Facebook updates and expect them to do the same (especially post 30) but the title of this book sounded too interesting (maybe it reminded me a bit of 50 shades of Grey?!? I dunno!) and a bit of googling revealed that the book is partly based on the life of none other than my favourite sufi poet/writer Rumi. As I read excerpts and quotes from the book from all over the internet, I began to realise that I needed to get my hands on a copy…as soon as possible, the sooner the better.

Here’s another beautiful blurb :

Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

Such simple words, the author successfully incorporates so much depth and meaning into them… Elif Shafak leaves me wanting more.From the synopsis, it seems like this book is a must read for any Rumi fan and even if you aren’t, I will not be surprised if the book turns you into one.

So if you are wanting a weekend of lazy reading and immersing yourself in stories of love, friendship and heartache, then get your hands on this one. As for me, I’m headed to the book store now. Let me know how you go!

Great pick dad!

Happy weekend all, much love :)

Sabeen

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The Boy Who Stole My Heart And Why I Will Never Be The Same Again.

They say a woman never truly knows love until the day she becomes a mother.Truer words have never been spoken. I have not experienced a more fulfilling, unconditional form of love.

9 years ago, I lost my heart permanently. To the boy who’s tiny fingers grasped mine, trusting , innocent, the one who found comfort in my arms and fell asleep to badly sung renditions of my favourite Bollywood tunes.  I knew then that I would never be the same again. Motherhood is an expensive trade-off but one so rewarding that it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile. Today, I will not go into a spiel about how motherhood has changed me or share my journey with you (I cannot do this without breaking down into tears so we better save the emo meltdown for another  post).

I will let today be about the happy moments. Today, I will celebrate my beautiful eldest child, who turned 9 last week, a little man who is strong, righteous, confident and resilient. Today, I will celebrate moments, memories, love and the gift of life.

Today, I will tell you about the boy who stole my heart and captured my soul.

 

Ready? Hit play now!

The Boy Who Stole My Heart.

Enjoy the video and please do leave a comment, I always love hearing from you :)

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Moments.

Brothers. 

Saturday morning. 7 am.

Fabulous son 2 sneaks out to Fab Son 1′s bed. There is an animated exchange about games, secret moves and other boy stuff. There are no fights.This is rare.

But there is a bond and a banter that you can only share with a sibling. And then unbeknownst to them, there is me, quietly capturing what are not mere pictures, but very special moments.

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May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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Me? A Star? I suppose I could handle that.

Hello hello and Happy Weekend to you all. Yes folks, I am still around. It has just been a busy few months for us here but I haven’t forgotten you all and if you follow Mumchic on Facebook then I guess you sort of know what I have been up to as well. What did you say? You don’t follow us on Facebook ? Are you serious? Have you even heard of social media? You have! Oh Phew… got me worried there for a minute! Anyhow, if Facebook is your cup of tea, do drop by and say hello, I would love to have you there :)

Facebook

Right, that was the shameless self promotion segment of this post! Oh wait , here’s part 2.

You know me, I’ve always had a bit of a thing about being a celebrity one day. I am dramatic enough. Apparently. So when I was recently asked to be interviewed by www.eviexclusive.com , can you imagine the stir it caused here at Mumchic HQ? The wonderful folks at EVI Exclusive promoted the interview as an exclusive with the “star” behind Mumchic.

Me? A Star? I suppose I could handle that!

Here’s the interview, I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts.What other questions would you have asked me ?

Am I star enough?

http://eviexclusive.com/the-fabulous-mumchic-sabeen-saleem-interview/

Have a lovely weekend everyone and stay tuned, my next post includes a video, it will be the worth the wait, I promise!

~Sabeen

 

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Cinnamon Scrolls – Warm, Delightful, Divine -To Die For.

Have you always wanted to try those complex start from scratch cinnamon scroll recipes but find the entire process too daunting? Well I was the same. Yes , me of all people can you believe it? I LOVE cooking and even I found it all a bit overwhelming. So all this time I have resorted to a rather simpler and quicker recipe (read : cheated). The result good but nothing extraordinary. Then I chanced upon this brilliantly explained recipe by The Pioneer Woman.  She is amazing and makes it all sound so easy! I knew I HAD to try these and thus began my mission to brave cinnamon scrolls right from scratch. I can tell you this, if the process overwhelms