Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas cupcakes

While we have been really trying to be healthy this year, Christmas is a great time to have some fun baking. So for the boys school Christmas party we made some reindeer cupcakes.

Here is one of them. I just made chocolate cupcakes. Used pretzels for the horns, mini marshmallows for the eyes and jaffas for the nose.


I like everything to look neat and cute



The boys had a lot of fun 'helping' and they got a bit carried away.




They did a whole tray of these *sigh*. While I made a comment to them about how they never let anything be nice and pretty, this just encouraged them further!

Hope you having crazy Christmas fun at your house too!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Decorations- Gone Crazy!

This year I have been working as a teacher aide at the boys school. One day when I was helping in Prep I came across these cute Christmas decorations and thought it would be a lot of fun to do with my boys. I love doing craft and it can be hard coming up with things that boys would like to do. However the boys used their creativity in a different way then I expected!

This is the first one I did, I call it the classical gingerbread man. Hayden called it 'boring'.

 


These are some of the ones he created. On the left we have the 'crying girl' gingerbread man. on the right the 'ninja bread man'.

 



Here we have the 'robber' gingerbread man (Hayden painted a gun in his hand), Seth decorated one he calls 'the gingerbread man who ruined chirstmas' (see the evil grin).

 


We really got into them and created a whole stash!

 




While the boys creativity went in a different direction then expected, it was still a lot of fun. Though I made sure I kept a few decorations that looked pretty.

Merry Christmas everyone!







Thursday, December 1, 2011

Raspberry Jam

Nan's Raspberry Jam Recipe!

If there is one thing my whole extended family loves its my Nan (and her sisters) raspberry jam. My Nan, her two sisters and one brother grew up on a berry farm in Tasmania. This recipe is something her mother taught her.

To make the jam you need only a few things. Clean jam jars, sugar and raspberries andpreserve covers (I found them in the bakery section of the supermarket but Nan said they are sometimes in the glad wrap section too). While Nan used to go and pick her own, here we tried using defrosted frozen raspberries, and they seemed just as good.



We put the jam jars in the oven on 60 degrees, Nan said this was so they don't crack when you put the hot jam into them. It  sterilises themtoo.


For this batch we used 2kgs of raspberries to 1.5 kg of sugar. We mixed it together in a big pot. Then put it on the stove top to boil. We then boiled it for 5-10 minutes. To check it was done, we put a bit of jam on a plate and see if it looked like it was starting to set (though I have to admit this recipe is probably a little more runny then usual).


While the jam is still warm you carefully put the jam, using a little jug, into the jam jars.



Then the preserve covers can go on. You dab the covers into a saucer of water, to wet the centre and then carefully put them on the jars so they are nice and straight. Then pop the rubber bands on.

 


Looking nice and pretty! I let these cool on the bench for a while.

This recipe doesn't use fruit pectin to set which allows it to really have a fruity flavour. I love it on pancakes with ice cream, but fresh white bread is also delicious.

I am excited to have a different gift idea this Christmas!
Thanks Nan!






















Monday, November 21, 2011

Scarecrow Festival, Mt Tamborine 2011


Every holidays I take the boys up to visit my Nan in Mt Tamborine. This time we went up and saw scarecrows everywhere! We had arrived in the middle of a scarecrow festival!



This is in front of the local school. 





 This one was cute, near a little cafe.



But this one, done by the library was my favourite!

Of all the things we have, I have never before heard of a scarecrow festival! It was kind of cute!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Raising Boys: Keep the Adventure Coming!

With an all-boy family there is always lot of outdoor of action required. It keeps everyone happy, its what they want to do and burns off all their energy! My family is so much more happier and better behaved when we are out and about enjoying nature. I guess we don't have to tell them 'don't touch that', 'stop jumping off that!' and there isn't that much to fight over (though of course they always manage to fight over the car seats).


Something our family had always wanted to do was go on a adventure ropes course and they have a fantastic one at Thunderbird Park at Mt Tambourine in Queensland; but it is quite pricey. However Fathers Day gave me a perfect excuse to try it out and I thought it would be a great tradition to start.







Here are all the boys. We had just picked up Seth from basketball so he is still in his school uniform.



When we got there we found out Hayden wasn't tall enough to participate! Drama! We were really sad about this but luckily we had his game boy and he sat near us while we were on the course. So this didn't end up being a lot of fun for him (but I promised him a day off school to make it up to him).


Seth and Josh walking along the wobbly bridge leading up to the course.


You can see the boys on the course. Climbing over wobbly logs on ropes.


Here I am in some very attractive overalls. You can see the rope that attaches you to the cable so you can't fall down, you are attached at all times. (That doesn't mean if you fall you won't hang in a very uncomfortable position for a long time till you are rescued!)






See the ladder here? It was a killer. Because you had to keep locking and unlocking  your cable as you went up. I know it looks easy! But trust me..... its' really high up there!!



Here Seth has just come down the flying fox. The best part!


Josh, our monkey boy, couldn't get enough of the ropes course. He could of gone all day! The rest of us got tired out (like after an hour).




I got to take lots of photos as after one course, I was done (plus I had to keep Hayden company, that was a handy excuse)! Mark and the boys did about three more courses each getting harder. I will be working out at the gym on my arm muscles before I go back the next time!

 

Mark up high. You know, as you are going along there are other people using the course. It is hilarious hearing their comments. Some are terrified (like me) some are very cool and collected (our kids). When one lady was struggling on some hanging logs that were really high up, her husband was yelling encouraging comments like 'use your inner core', 'c'mon you can do it', 'deep breath's'. She crossly replied 'will you just be quiet!!'. Then when he was going across she resaid the same comments back to him and he was like 'ok I get it!. Not helpful!'

Anyway, a fun activity, we loved it! Though I must day even Josh was complaining for days afterwards about sore arms and legs. Already looking forward to next time and it was a great activity for teenagers as it is not to young for them- though obviously harder for the younger kids.

We had a nice picnic at Cedar Creek Falls afterwards, which was a perfect finish for the day. Yay for some great family fun!



P.S. Ben was here, just avoiding the camera as usual!
Boiled Eggs To The Rescue!


I don't like cooking dinner.

It's a burden to me. I didn't always feel this way, I used to enjoy and liked to try new things and look forward to eating it! But now I am on a diet and have to be healthy. Not to mention: its just so stressful trying to keep six people happy at meal time! I could slave over a really special dinner for a couple of hours, then have children cry when they see it and tell me they hate it! Then another night in desperation I will declare cereal for dinner- my children cheer for joy!

I know this is what most Mums face. I loved hearing the story from Marjorie Hinckley who said that one night she reheated a casserole and presented it to dinner, only to have her son ask, 'why have you cooked up the garbage?' She says, 'and he was old enough to know better!' Its good to hear of other people suffering.

The first few years of my marriage I made a big effort for dinner. Meaning we often had dinner AND dessert. Then I heard a Mum of six kids, who I thought was a Super Mum say, 'I think if the kids get boiled eggs for dinner then they have had a good meal!' I was shocked! It revolutionised my world. I had never thought to do something so simple.

A while ago I found out what my friends 'white stirfry' was that she regularly serves for dinner. Can you guess? Its porridge! Isn't that fantastic!

Now we have boiled eggs for dinner, in fact that is what we are having tonight. And you know what? Nobody complains! We might even be fancy and have some salad with it. You know, the green stuff the kids decorate their plate with?! :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yamba Holiday's
 Day Three

The weather is so unsettled. More than anything I have seen before it's raining, it’s windy, then the sun comes up and dries you off, then it starts raining again! The boys were not deterred and were down at our little beach building sandcastles and damming the water and fishing in the rain. I am amazed to see Hayden, who never has been one to get his hands dirty just loving building sandcastles. But it is quite  miserable day today cold and very windy.


We went into Yamba to have a look around and so a little shopping. It's kind of crazy taking Mark and 4 boys shopping, but it's not always fun going by yourself. We made it to a gift shop and the newsagent before it was time to have a break and go to the bakery. Where we had a morning tea of custard tart, apple pie and cream and caramel tart. I didn't buy nothing myself as I am trying to keep to my diet. But after I had a little taste of everyone's I may as well of.




Then we found a second hand op shop that was just packed with people. With the clothes where only $2 each. Because Ben had gone through all 5 T-shirts in a day and a half (!) we brought him a couple of t-shirts and a jumper for Hayden as it was colder than we expected. We then found this old 50's style lolly shop/ cafe that was really cute.

Hayden is pleased with this lollipop.



Ben and Seth have brought a bag of treats.
After such a vigorous shopping expedition Mark suggested checking out the movies. Yamba has a one roomed cinema and would you believe it the Smurf movie was playing in 10 minutes (and it was only showing once that day) and the tickets were only $7 each! A bargain! So Mark brought some tickets and we all hustled I inside. Except it wasn't the Smurf movie but 'The Zookeeper'! We stayed and watched anyway as we didn't have anything much better to do with the rain.



Chilling out after a very short shopping trip! :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yamba Holiday's
Day Two

Today started bright and early. Our bedroom had windows on three sides and the light streamed in early in the morning (great for the view, tough on trying to get any sleep). Mark got up around 5 and found Hayden up so they went for a walk. The rest of us were slow to start and sluggish for most of the day. The boys were happy to be outside for most of the day and made a giant sandcastle out of all the sand on their beach. Even scooping sand from under the pontoon ramp when they ran out.

Mark, Seth and I went on an exploring bike ride and found a great mangrove waterway for crab pots. It is so much fun to ride and just the best way to explore a new place, but gee it so painful on the behind!

Seth on his bike!


Me, happy to be on a bike. The ground is so flat here and it is so pretty, it was perfect for bikes.

In the afternoon we went for a drive and found the Yamba beach- complete with baths, rock pools and even a little cave on the cliff. There was only a little sandy beach; most of the coastline seemed quite rocky.


Josh and Mark near the Yamba sea baths
(or whatever there name is, they have sea water in them anyway).


A photo of Ben, its hard to catch this guy for a shot!



Driving further along we came across several deserted and damaged houses across from the beach. Driving a little further we saw a sign of the name of an aboriginal community with more damaged houses but this time looking lived in. I was really shocked to see people living in houses so derelict; especially since down the road where all these big beach house mansions. I had heard about this before but it was really confronting seeing it firsthand.


Mark and I, happy and relaxed at the beach!

 

Josh on the rocks, always climbing something!

It is really good to see the boys unwind today. There was no complaining about when it was computer time and how they had nothing to do (while they waited for it to be computer time). They kept themselves occupied with chasing and building and exploring. After dinner tonight I suggested a favourite activity of my childhood days: kids vs. dad wrestle on the floor. Mark was a little hesitant, but the oldest three were all for it. They had a lot of fun and amazingly no one got hurt! See the details here. Hayden was really tired from his early morning and activity all day and asked if he could go to bed at about 6:15, just to have a 'little rest'. He was asleep shortly after.


Hayden loves collecting things from the beach. Not sure what he has got here!



Not missing the computers, ipods, phones at all and so glad we made the hard decision to leave them behind. Its so nice to see the kids just play and be active and has given them a chance to do other things; like say even draw a picture!