Saturday, 31 March 2012

The 5-in-1 Multi Cooker - a giveaway!

Kitchenware Direct 5-in-1 Multi Cooker - a giveaway!


The 5-in-1 Multi Cooker - a Kitchenware Direct giveaway!

(And if you want any more brilliant pressure cooker recipes, all you need to do is pop over here to this very cool pressure cooker recipe site!)



I asked advice the other day, on rice cookers.

I have always wanted one, and previously had bought a very cheap one from KMart which turned out to be a total waste of time. I chucked it out in the hard waste. (Can you see a pattern occurring here?!)

So whilst my first experience of rice cookers was poor, I was convinced that they had to be a good idea. I am more than a little obsessed by kitchen gadgetry, and I have plenty of bench space for "things with cords and plugs" as the lovely husband likes to call them.

The rice cooker - I have tried stove top and microwave and I can, of course, cook rice. But the idea of a rice cooker doing it all automatically is very appealing. And the idea of being able to cook real recipes in a rice cooker too - risotto style dishes - enticing!

I love any set and forget type appliance. Timed one pot meals that just do their thing, whilst I get on and do MY thing....

So when the lovely people at Kitchenware Direct got back to me too suggest some brands of rice cookers, I was intrigued when the also pointed out the New Wave Five In One Multi-Cooker. I went on to read the squillions of reviews that customers have left on the product too...and was impressed.

It's a gadget that handles the workload of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, electric pan/pot, soup/rice cooker and steamer.

I have never owned a pressure cooker, but my Granny and my Mum both used theirs all the time...so I figured it's probably time to give that concept a whirl!

As you'll see from all sorts of my other recipes, I am a fan of slow cooking in general.

We are coming into soup season - I adore home made veggie soups.

But the absolute best thing about this device? The pot has a browning function. All those slow cooker recipes and risotto recipes where you need to brown onions and brown meat first? I'll be honest, I never bother. I never want to have two pans to wash up. I love cooking but at my age and stage with small kids, my priorities are nutrition and EASE. Easy and quick to prepare.

So when I realised that this The 5-in-1 Multi Cooker allows you to brown off first, then simply change a setting to move to pressure cooking or slow cooking or rice cooking - I am there! How cool!

So my first experiment was some homemade minestrone soup. (We have glut of tomatoes that need to be used. Minestrone fits the bill.) I browned the onion and the garlic off first, and softened the carrots in the electric pot, on the browning function, then chucked the other ingredients and and set it to the soup function. 15 minutes later we had utterly perfect minestrone.

easy minestrone recipe

On Tuesday I made, so simply, chicken and tomato risotto. I browned the onion and chicken off, added the rice, then flicked the setting to steam, added all the other ingredients, closed the lid, and 7 minutes later (in which I Tweeted...) the risotto was ready to serve and it was the perfect texture and consistency!

slow cooker risotto

And the very best thing about this Multi Cooker?

I have one to giveaway!

Thanks to Kitchenware Direct, I have one of these little beauties to give away to one lucky reader. Valued at $189, they have kindly offered one up as a prize to one of my lovely followers.

All you need to do is leave me a comment, telling me what YOU would cook in this marvellous gadget.

Pop over to Facebook and like Kitchenware Direct over there too, perhaps?

Giveaway closes Easter Saturday, and I shall let the winner know via email. The winner will be picked by random.org. Open to Australian residents only.

So, what would YOU cook in this fantastic cooker? And if you want any more brilliant pressure cooker recipes, all you need to do is pop over here to this very cool pressure cooker recipe site!

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Kitchenware Direct Giveaway

I am currently at the Digital Parents Conference thanks to Brad Russell and the team at Kitchenware Direct!

 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

What NOT to do before a blog conference...




In time honoured fashion, I squeezed in the usual hair/nails/wax appointment in today, all organised before skipping onto a plane tomorrow, to head to the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne.

I am lucky - I have my girls who "do me", so to speak, in Paradise - and they know me well. My nails -  I get them done regularly by the very lovely Claudia. and she and I enjoy an hour over my refills, of coffee and gossip and acrylic. (My au natrel nails are actually lovely and long and strong - I get a coat of acrylic slapped over the top out of habit - Charlie's eczema used to bleed with my nails - falsies are a lot softer.)

Claudia also casts her eyes over my toes (which met with her approval.) Bright red "toe paint" as the kids call it.

My top lip also gets some attention from the hot wax...I am a furry Mumma - as I get older, my top lip gets hairier and darker. Off with it, I say!

All good.

I should point out that I never ever spent any time or attention on myself or my appearance when I was grossly over-weight. Now that I am a little bit slimmer, I do care, and I do like to bother. I do enjoy pampering myself. I am not vain, but I revel in making the best of what I've got. And I like to feel groomed. I suspect I never did before because I was reticent to try and make a silk purse out of a cows ear or whatever the analogy is. But these days, whilst I am still on the chunky side, I do believe I am worth the effort.

That said, I am shamelessly shallow and ALWAYS make an effort when heading to a conference. It's my confidence trick. If I know I am all groomed and taken care of, I fret less. Simple as that.

Until I let my hairdresser lose on my hair.

It was long and dry and frizzy and I wanted "A CHANGE". Oh fuck, why did I say that out loud? To her? MAD!

I am now sheared. Shorn. Short hair.

The lovely husband loves long hair.

If I was dumb founded as I peered at myself in the hairdressers mirror, he was struck dumb as he came home tonight. Eventually, he just squeaked "What happened to you hair?" What indeed.

I was aiming for a sexy kind of Meg Ryan tussled just got out of bed sexy look.

My aim was poor.

I just look like a boy.

(Never mind. Only five weeks between a bad haircut and it getting better?)

Only I am going to a conference tomorrow, to speak in front of a gazillion faces, about blogging and my about my self image.

Dumb.

So, if I do see you at DPCON12 and you are tempted to say or think "who is that bloke?", please tell me my hair doesn't actually look as bad as I fear?!


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I am attending DPCON thanks to Kitchenware Direct. They are lovely. Go have a look?

Monday, 26 March 2012

How's it going?

Image from here
I have had a great many texts and emails and messages over the past week or so, wishing me luck for my new working week. Lots of you have asked me how it's all going. So I thought I would do a quick update -

  • The job itself is HUGE, and exciting.
  • Working in the city is a buzz.
  • Forcing myself to have a shower every morning and put make up on is a shock to the system - I had not realised how, as a work at home mum, I had always put off my grooming 'till later...90% of my showers were taken at night. So leaving the house first thing in the morning, all clean, is a revelation!
  • I like dawdling in the car in traffic - I love listening to the radio in the mornings, alone in the car.
  • My lovely husband is tops. He is currently working full time himself, as well as being a painting and decorating demon, who has also become the drop off Daddy. He gets the kids to school much earlier than I ever did, and is apparently very organised.
  • We have eaten a proper meal each night.
  • I like working. Really really like it.
  • The kids are all happy and settled and they think its funny that I clatter into the school playground in my heels a few minutes late every day to pick them up.
  • Other school Mums are sensational - they have told me to send a group text if I am going to be late and not to worry.
  • I like wearing corporate attire every day. I also love getting into my trackies the minute we get home.
  • I love watching crap on the telly after a mind boggling hard days work, with my head in my lovely husbands lap.
  • Diet and exercise? What's that?
  • My blog is suffering at my lack of time. (This will sort itself out, I am sure.)
And so starts another week....

I will, however, be at the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne on Friday, which I am looking forward to a great deal. (And huge thanks the team Kitchenware Direct and particularly Brad Russell, their SEO and E-Commerce Manager, for sponsoring me to attend...)
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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I promise...


This time two years ago, we were finally walking wheel-chairing away from a very long stay in hospital with my gorgeous son, Charlie.

He had been in traction with a broken femur, flat on his back, in traction, in the Adelaide Women and Children's Hospital, for weeks and weeks. It was horrible. Truly - I wouldn't wish such an experience on anyone. The whole period was, without a doubt, vile.

Charlie finally got out of his horizontal position and was in a wheelchair and a full hip spica - a plaster cast set around his entire body, to maintain a rigid healing position for his leg and hip.

One of the first things Charlie was desperate to do once he was in his wheel chair was get some fresh air. So our first "date" away from the ward was to the hospital Play Deck.

The before shot of the Women and Children's Play Deck - nice, but needs improvement!

It was enticing at the time - fresh air and autumn sunshine on his face - I remember seeing him close his eyes and smile in relief and literally suck up mouthfuls of fresh air. His wheelchair had loads of streamers attached to it and they blew and fluttered in the breeze like a paper rainbow. I cried.

So when I was approached by Meadowlea, with regard to their Plant Seed Promise, I was thrilled to find out that they have made a commitment to build new gardens throughout major hospitals throughout Australia, including the Adelaide Women and Children's.

The first garden is already opened and established -

Sophie Falkiner and  Karen Kingham, at St Georges, NSW
As you'd imagine, I am careful about the fats I use in my diet and also in the food that I cook and serve to the rest of the family.

I am aware of the nutritional differences between margarine and butter. But I'll be honest, I have always opted for butter on the basis that I eat so little of this kind of spread, that it makes no difference.

But then of course I realised I have to be more aware of what the kids are eating. And that by switching from butter to a spread like MeadowLea, I can save the kids 7.5kg of saturated animal fat a year. (Yes, you read that right. Just toast and sandwiches saves 2.5kg of saturated fat per person...)

I was also a little cautious - would the kids even like a spread like MeadowLea after eating butter their whole lives? Only one way to find out - I bought some MeadowLea and tried it on them for a week. And you know what? No one noticed the difference at all...apart from the fact that Lexie found it easier to spread on her toast...

I can't quite believe that after a lifetime of eating butter, I have made the switch this easily!


MeadowLea have developed the Plant Seed Promise - which is based of families committing to switch to MeadowLea - the more families that switch, the more gardens will get built.

For recipe ideas, go here.
For more details on MeadlowLea and the Plant Seed Promise, go here.

Butter or margarine?  Is it worth switching, do you think?

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Disclaimer - sponsored by the lovely folk at Naked Communications.  But, I would have blogged about it regardless - I am appreciative of the information and particularly impressed by the way MeadowLea have approached this initiative. So I am doing it for the love of the blog, for the love of good sense, and because hospital gardens are a topic close to my heart...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

What I need...

Image Credit

Need to get my shit together - need to remember -

  • I need to buy Charlie an orange T-Shirt for Harmony Day tomorrow
  • I need to make three platters for the Harmony Day shared lunch at at school
  • I need to go to the Post Office to pick up parcels
  • I need to do the ironing
  • I need to go for a long walk
  • I need to visit my Mum (who is now a little better. Safe and tucked into a nursing home.)
  • I need to remember my #MarchPhotoaday snaps - I am a day behind...
  • I need to cuddle up to my lovely husband on the couch
  • I need to pick up my winter boots from the cobblers
  • I need to chill
Believe it or not, this list habit I have makes me feel less overwhelmed...

Do lists work for you?

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Monday, 19 March 2012

It starts today...


My new job, that is.

A friend posted on my Facebook wall to wish me luck at my return to freedom. I had not thought of it like that - I have been too busy fretting over the changes we'll be making to routines. But I like her thinking...it's positive and the start of something new and very exciting.

I will be more of me again, I think. More Lucy. Less "Mummy"?

Wish me luck?

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Fairground attraction...


We are still revelling in all the fun of the fair - there is a traditional carney fest at the back of The Garden of Unearthly Delights as a part of the Adelaide Fringe  - Ferris, Dodgems, Ghost Trains and Fairy Floss machines...and tanned over cocky boys as the attendants.

We indulged last weekend. The kids happily lined up to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a ride that was selected very carefully - after much deliberation they chose the Trampoline Bungee for goodness sake.

They had an absolute ball. They fling themselves high, did flips, and screamed happy with terror/joy/excitement/nerves. And came off grinning and flushed, asking to go do it all again...

I swigged cider from the bottle and was reminded of my Romany roots. And took snaps.

Snaps thanks to PicFrame
We are going again this coming weekend. Because I love it. It's perfect. As is this song. Enjoy!


Do you like fairs? Do you indulge in all the scary rides?

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I've got the painters in...

Image from here


No, really!

We're renovating another little chunk of the seventies monstrosity that is home.

Easter is a time when we tend to get around to a bit of tarting up of our house, and this Easter is no different.

When I first ever viewed our house, back in late 2006, the first thing I knew I wanted to change was the hall.

It is big and spacious but as a result of a timber staircase and slate tiles, it is gloomy. Despite it's huge size: it's dark.



The previous owners had done clever things with mirrors, I'll grant you. They even left us with some sensationally tacky mirrored wall tiles in the stair well (which Lexie dances in front of - she likens it to a ballet studio, apparently...)



My lovely husband, for all that he is a geeky IT nerd boy, is a dab hand at painting and decorating. If he had ever taken up a trade, I daresay it should have been a painters apprenticeship. He is a perfectionist who is totally anal committed to intense preparation.

In relation to other tasks, I have heard him utter, many times, "close enough is good enough". But in relation to P&D? Nope. Skirting boards have to be removed and numbered. Vermiculite scraped off the ceilings and then same ceilings painstakingly replastered.  All of the door frames sugar soaped and sanded. Every tiny scrap of wallpaper stripped. Light fittings removed and power point plates lifted.

I groan and complain, but the truth is that I love him for it. We have renovated (and as such, painted) a great number of houses since we have been together. We work well as a team. He cracks the whip, I cut in. He rollers the ceiling whist I get to grips with the high gloss. He starts the second coat whilst I make lunch, and run the rest of our lives.

Now, excuse me, whilst I get him his tool belt, and myself some paint charts...

Quiver...
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And as we renovate, I realise beer and wine glasses around the mess of drop sheets is a big no no. So I am looking at these very coounbreakable plastic glasses - score!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Breakfast for dinner?

Breakfast for dinner - an idea way to use my new Scan Pans from Kitchenware Direct!

 


I had a clear out of my freezer the other day - it's a large and capacious thing, my stand up freezer. There are things lurking at the back, that whilst I am sure are food safe, have been in there a little too long.

And on investigating, it seems that 16 loaves of bread is a little excessive.

And bacon? We don't actually eat bacon all that often - so I am not sure what I was doing hoarding over 3kg of best short back?

As a result, we had a huge cooked "breakfast" for dinner the other night. The kids loved it for it's novelty - they are partial to bacon and eggs, I realise. So a fry up is a thing I must indulge in a little more often!

The first thing I realised as I was cooking the eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and toast - the timing is crucial.

Scan Pans from Kitchenware Direct
How I love a cooked mushroom - even better in a Scan Pan from Kitchenware Direct!


And the second vital element to a good cooked brekky? Decent pans!



The lovely husband and I had soldiered on with the same cheap and nasty pans we bought back in 1998. They were rubbish. So a few months ago, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in some Scan Pans.

Initially I was reticent - could any saucepan or frypan be that good? Was I being wooed by the marketing that is Masterchef, who seemed to have Scan Pans on product placement and ads every two minutes?

Let's face it, $899 for three pans is a frightening large amount of money.

But I also need to acknowledge that I am more that happy to pay for quality kitchenware products if they do they job brilliantly and if they last.

Then Kitchenware Direct had a deal on their scan pan range that was too good to resist - half price Scan Pans. So as a birthday present to myself last year, I bit the bullet and purchased the Scanpan IQ 3 piece Set with Frypan and Saucepans.

I'll be totally honest here - I did not dare tell the lovely husband about the price. That said, in just a few weeks after I bough the pans, he was declaring himself in love with them. I have never really heard him was lyrical over cookware before, but he is seriously impressed. We have not used any other pans since. (Which reminds me - my pot cupboard really needs a sort out! I can turf the old crappy pans now!)

Cooking is a pleasure for me, mostly. But it can feel like a chore. And I realise I am enjoying cooking more, now that I have decent equipment - the quality makes all the difference. And that I scored the Scan Pans for half price makes the purchase a sweet one.

Do you ever have breakfast for dinner?

Do you think quality kitchen ware makes all the difference?

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I purchased the Scan Pans all by myself, from Kitchenware Direct. They didn't send me any freebies.This post is entirely my own opinion.

Kitchenware Direct, are, however, most generously sponsoring me to attend the Digital Parents Conference in on Friday March 30th. That they support the Australian blogging community like this makes me loyal...Brad Russell from Kitcheware Direct is also an expert on all things SEO - I have tailored this post to make it SEO friendly, and it now ranks really highly!



Digital Parents

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ready to wear...



I had some very exciting news on Thursday, and that is that I have been offered a brand spanking new job role. It's a job I had set my heart on, and I have had to jump through some hoops to get it, so now that I have had the heads up that the role is mine, I am so so so pleased.

As such, one of my first reactions is, of course, that aside from the outfits that I wore to my numerous interviews, I have nothing to wear to my mew corporate gig! Arggggh!

Last night, I asked the lovely Nikki from Styling You, via Facebook, where to start on turning my work at home Mummy wardrobe back into a corporate chick wardrobe.

"I'd head to Sussan, Big W and Target to get basics in pants, skirt and tops to get your started"

And she linked me to these posts here too: Does your work wardrobe need a shake up? and Getting your wardrobe ready for work

Yay! An excuse to go shopping!

But...

One of the first things I needed to do was actually get my existing wardrobe sorted out, cleaned out, de-junked and de- cluttered.

(I am a project manager at heart - it's all about the critical path, no matter how tempting the retail is!)

So, here are my before shots of my grotty wardrobe -



I know it looks like a jumble sale and I know the way I chuck my shoes in on top of my leather bags is a shocker. I know I can never find anything without grovelling and I know I always think I have nothing to wear.

Anyway, a few hours later, I realised I had actually been shopping in my own wardrobe.

I chucked out two bags of stuff to go to the op shop.

I resurrected both pairs of winter boots and they are in my car ready to take to the cobblers.

I have got one beautiful but far too large (size 24...) suit packaged up to donate to Dress for Success

I have a little pile of mending to attend to - buttons here and there - which I will do once I finish this post!

All my shoes and all my bags are polished (thanks to the lovely husband).

And I have a shopping list...

Of nothing.

I need  - nothing.

I have a range of pants and skirts in basic colours already.

I have a brilliant tailored black dress.

I have a number of tops - some feminine, some classic, some funky.

I have a couple of jackets - they are actually a little big, so these may need some adjustment.

I have enough shoes and bags to sink a ship.

And so here are the after shots -





So, no shopping for me just yet - but I am ready!


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PS Upon reviewing these snaps it would seem that yes, I do indeed have a penchant for black and red...

#marchphotoaday Day 9 - Red

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tripping...




Over the summer, the fab five travelled home on a road trip. One of the long stops was a few days in Canberra. Specifically to take the kids to the War Memorial Museum.

Canberra was a revelation to me. I had been before, years and years ago.

But this time around, as a part of a long and exceedingly relaxing holiday, with sensational sunny weather, I appreciated it a whole lot more.

The museum was amazing: humbling, loyalty generating and made me extremely proud to be of Australian stock. My Grandpa saw active service in WWII. It made the visit even more personal.

The kids loved it. As a civic landmark & memorial and as a tourist attraction, it was delightful.

I took snaps, as you can see. Lots of them.

One was this one...which I am now revitalizing for the #marchphotoaday prompt of "window".

#marchphotoaday - Day 8 - Window


None of my windows are as impressive.

Have you been to the Australian War Memorial? Did you love it?


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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

If all the worlds a stage...

It was the lovely husbands birthday earlier this week. He is now as old as me.

I took him out. In this festival state that we live in, it's Fringe Festival time.  The Adelaide Fringe Festival is the second largest arts festival in the world - second only to Edinburgh. It's bloody brilliant. It started in the 1960's and is now sees over one million audience members over three short weeks. Amazing.

The lovely husband and I have managed to get to a whole host of events every single Fringe since 2000. We both adore stand up comedy and live music. Back then we enjoyed emerging comedians such as Ross Noble and Adam Hills before they got famous, for $10 in a bizarre range of venues ranging from the bunker of  a pub, to a tent, to an old cimema.

It is a festival of so much fun and atmosphere and music and performance. I love it.

#marchphotoaday - day 6 - 5pm in the Garden of Unearthly Delights
Balmy summer evenings and a beer in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, a huge open air venue in the middle of town, hosting performace tents and food stalls and lots of Coopers Pale Ale....

A band and some stand up comedy and all of the twinking fairy lights in a convivial street party atmosphere. Coffee and gelato in Rundle Street.

The jostle and laughter and anticipation of a show.

The circus like atmosphere of the open air venues.

The potential of a great new comedic find.

The buzz of a crowd.

The roar of applause and the excited chatter as crowds exit and move onto the next event, the next sight and sound.

This is, for me, Adelaide, this is home, at it's beautiful  exciting best.


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Monday, 5 March 2012

Worth it...

#marchphotoaday Day 5 - Smile

Yesterday, in response to this post here, and my comment upon it, my friend Mrs Woog and I got chatting.

I am afraid I bored her and moaned about how bloody terrible the "three under three stage" was for us me.

"Three under three nearly saw me into the nut house. Olivia was toddling and toilet training, Charlie was a chickenpox infested 13 month old and Lexie was a newborn. It was fucked. Now, when I get the shits with them all, and start ranting about parenthood problems, I realise I need to get over myself, as nothing can be as hard as that, for me.

And all the while I was 120kg+ and just about to kill the lovely husband. (But I never got the chance because he was at work ALL THE FUCKING TIME....)

I did not cope. I cared for them and apart from that I just ate and smoked.
Good job these kids were cute, else I would've chucked them off the balcony.
Seriously, I do not know how I did it.
Oh! And then Charlie's hearing impairment was diagnosed and my brother died! SUPER! Not.
Fuck. My life used to look like a BAD BAD BAD soapie."
But now? My three under three have turned into adorable school kids who are aged 6, 7 and 8.

And they are good kids. Really good kids.

And they just make me smile a lot of the time.

It was so worth it.

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bedside

#marchphotoaday- Day 4 - Bedside

This particular prompt reminds me of the "show us what's in your handbag" type posts.
I am always tempted to re-arrange and clean before taking a snap.

The above has a lovely grainy filter to hide the dust!

The Ukama sculpture is part of a collection I have -  The figures show many family members, who all merge together at various points, symbolizing the unity and shared spirit of the family unit.

The candle is a lavendar and vanilla soy one that I am particularly partial to. I buy them from a friend, locally, who makes them.

The little dish - this is actually a blue Wedgwood Jasperware ashtray that belonged to my Granny. She never used it for ciggies and neither have I. She used it for her jewellry on her bedside. And so do I.

The coffee cup was full, but I emptied it as I sat up in bed and checked my email this morning, in bed.
(The lovely husband brings me coffee in bed some Sundays. This is why he is named the lovely husband.)

The notebook and pen is so that I can jot stuff down when I am am the only person awake in the whole wide world at 3.30am in the morning.

And the books? Can you spy Career Mums? Written by my friend Al Tait and Kate Sykes. I reviewed it back here. Gold.

What does your bedside say about you?


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