Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas 2014 and the food that was....

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful fun filled day or days (3 in our family).

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to catch up with family you don't see so often, open up surprise presents and of course to eat food you don't eat during the rest of the year.

I was busy in the kitchen this year with 3 Christmas events to go to, so I thought I'd share with you what I got up to in the kitchen this Christmas 2014.

As always there was my ultimate favourite - Sweet & Salty Crunchie Nut Bar - oh my gosh, as it's describe in the recipe book, it's the kitchens version of crack cocaine - it's so addictive.

We also have our Christmas tradition of the cookie tree - MJ gets so excited over this one.

For MJ's family Christmas, I decided to try a new recipe from Christmas Taste magazine "White Chocolate & Peppermint Cake". I hit a bit of a snag with this one, I forgot to add the melted white chocolate to the buttercream and didn't realise till after I had assembled the cake, well let's say a meltdown did ensue and after I calmed down and took MJ's advise, I just poured the white chocolate over the top of the cake and hoped for the best. It did taste amazing the next day but I'll warn you don't eat a big slice as you will get a sugar rush to the head.

For my family Christmas, I tried out a Donna Hay recipe from her Christmas magazine "Raspberry & Ginger Cheesecake" - I'm sorry I've got no photo as it was eaten so quickly before I even remembered to take a photo, but if you'd like see what it should have looked like, head over to this link and check it out.

For the extended family Christmas yesterday, one of my cousins is a vegan and I remember last year there were no desserts for him to eat, so this year I wanted to set that right and made an amazing Vegan Apple & Gingerbread Cake (recipe by the fantastic Minimalist Baker). Not only did it pass my cousin's taste test, it also passed everyone else's, which is a bonus.

We are now so over food now that we don't want to eat any more, but still always manage to find space for that extra piece of crunchie nut bar.

I was also very lucky and received some amazing presents this year, I really love the candle holders my brother-in-law's girlfriend decorated for me, very sweet.

What did Santa bring you this year? What great food did you have? What are some of your favourite memories from Christmas this year?

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Monday, 22 December 2014

My 30th Birthday as Minnie Mouse!

On Sunday I officially turned 30!!!! And what a day it was.

I decided to have a Minnie Mouse theme and even dressed for the occasion.

We had a bbq at our place with both my family and MJ’s family, just some meat and salads with some fun desserts – which of course were Minnie Mouse themed.

It’s amazing what you can do with Oreo cookies and frosting.

Mum and I created the plates just using some black cardstock, pink ribbon and staples.

I really enjoyed making the cake, it’s a basic butter cake with ribbon and red/white fondant.

As you can see the frosting is always the best part of the cupcake, it’s the only part my niece will eat, forget the cupcake just give her the frosting.

I was given some amazing presents, including a chandelier from my husband and a brand new camera from my family. My brother from England sent me an amazing hand knitted shawl, it’s beautiful.

All in all it was a fantastic day, a great way to start my 30s. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A light in the darkness

At this time of year Martin Place Sydney has its amazing Christmas tree shining bright with all its lights. People are walking around shopping and general merriment is in the air, there's a real Christmas feeling in the air. I felt that Christmas feeling when I was in Martin Place staring up at that big tree on Saturday night.

Monday morning rolled round and that light was extinguished, that feeling was darkened. One persons choice changed all that and stole that light away. There is now 2 people that will never come home, they won't be there come Christmas morning with their families opening up the presents that were bought for them with such love and care. Three children now know the pain of having no mother. Darkness has entered their world and all of ours too.

Christmas is a time of happiness, hope, joy and peace or so it should be. What's happened this week in Sydney is anything but. It doesn't feel right to feel happiness, hope, joy or peace because it was destroyed with anger, hate, violence and fear.

How can we celebrate with so much sadness?

We choose love!

We choose not to hate!

We choose to follow the light path not the dark path!

You find your way through the darkness with a light not with more darkness.

We now all need to come together and express the true meaning of Christmas - LOVE!

Only with love can we make it through. 

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Photo source here

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Wisdom I learnt from losing my Wisdom Teeth

They say you get wiser with age but this last week I've learnt you get wiser by losing some teeth - four teeth to be exact.

It's a big procedure to have your wisdom teeth removed - a not so pleasant or painless one either and to have all four taken out in the same week as your husband is just plain insane.

I'm not sure why they are called wisdom teeth as most of my family wouldn't say I'm a very wise person when I did have them in my head but maybe just maybe you get the wisdom once they are removed.

I've learnt some really important life lessons in the last week and I think I've gain some wisdom from them too.

First - you cannot rush the healing process - the pain will not go away just because you want it to or because it's inconvenient for you to be in pain.

Second - just because painkillers make your husband drowsy and fall asleep doesn't mean they'll do the same for you.

Three- all TV is good TV at 2am in the morning when you cannot sleep and you feel like someone has punched you in the mouth.

Four - apple baby food is a whole new food group and should be added to the regular daily diet.

Five - you find out who really cares about you and they might not care the way you excepted them to. This one has been a big learning curve for me. I realised that I put too higher expectations on people, people can only care for you in their own way. If their way is different to yours doesn't always mean they care less about you, it's just how they show it or know how to show it. You do mean something to some people.

Six - I only ever want to drink water from a pink straw, you feel so cool while doing it.

For anyone that has to get their wisdom teeth removed in the future, don't fear, the pain will get better, you will eventually be able to eat again (oh man I'm looking forward to a good steak) so just put your feet up and enjoy the jelly and ice-cream all the while cursing that darn tooth fairy for making you pay for the teeth this time.

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Photo source here

Thursday, 27 November 2014

How style and clothes have changed me‏....

For those of you that follow along on Instagram and Facebook would surely have noticed that I participate in style dares and I want to share with you all how I've have noticed that style and clothes have changed me - for the better.

It all started back in March this year just after my first miscarriage and I saw Fox in Flats post up her March daily style dare where you have a daily style prompt to work out an outfit. I thought to myself that sounds like a little bit of fun, I'll give it a go. After about 2 weeks of daily prompts I noticed that I was starting to look forward to picking out my outfits each day and I was smiling every time I got dressed, sometimes it was my only smile of the day. It didn't take away the pain I was feeling from losing my baby but it helped me through it by giving me one small thing a day to smile about.

So when March ended I wanted more and I stumbled upon Hilary Rushford's Style Me daily challenge. So I spent the month of April playing dress up each and every day. Finding new ways to view my clothes and putting together outfits I never dreamed possible - all with the clothes I already owned in my wardrobe.

As the year has processed the more adventurous and daring I've gotten with my clothes, one month I even did the 2 style challenges consecutively (which was so much fun trying to marry the prompts together). I've started to discover my own unique style, I even discovered that there are long pants out there that aren't jeans. I'm finding I'm wearing more of the clothes I own than I ever use to as I'd just put on the same clothes over and over again. I'm also putting together different combinations, different colours and feeling different everyday. 

Even after the second miscarriage in August and how traumatic that was to deal with, the clothes helped me. I felt like I had something else to think about, something else to focus on. I used it as a reason to keep going, to keep getting out of bed each day and dressed. In a way clothes saved me.

The biggest advancement I've found is not on the outside with looking different but it would have to be on the inside. I feel more comfortable in my skin, I've got a little more confidence, I feel like I'm discovering a new side of me, I'm surprising people and keeping them guessing. 

I've also meet some amazing people through sharing my photos on Instagram (well I've meet them virtually) and I've even become penpals with a few of them. None of this would have happened if I hadn't decided to take that first style challenge and do something to find a little happiness each day.

I'm going to keep doing these challenges and keep mixing it up with my clothes because I've seen how much it's helped me and how much I've grown over the past 9 - 10 months and I'm excited to keep growing and to keep changing.

They say clothes make the man but I say clothes help develop the man.

Have clothes changed you or something else has? What's made an impact in your life?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

DIY - Fruit Salad Notepaper

There's been a real snailmail revolution going on out there now and I think it's fantastic. It's so wonderful to head out to your letter box and find pretty/happy letters waiting for you inside that all colourful and filled with beautiful words.

Today I want to share with you a project I've been working on - Fruit Salad Notepaper.

What a colourful way to brighten up someones letterbox and quite simple to make too.

First off the things you'll need to create this project are:

- Coloured cardstock
- Ruler, pen, pencil, scissors and rubber
- Scallop punch
- Coloured string
- Double sided tape
- Assorted fruit templates to trace (I just did a Google search for shapes)  

First step trace and cut out your fruit pieces. For the banana and pear I drew a stork freehanded out of brown cardstock to attach. The strawberry I created a top freehanded out of green cardstock and also with the strawberry I used a heart shaped template as a guide. 

Next all you need to do is using the double sided tape join the pieces together.

Once you have joined all the pieces together to resemble the fruit, draw lines across to act as the lines on the notepaper. For the watermelon using the scallop punch on one corner to make it look like a hungry person took a bite before posting it.

You can stop here if you like but if you are a fan of Fruit Ninja you can take this fruit combo notepaper to the next level. 

All you need is some black cardboard and trace out a circle - I used my double sided tape as a guide. Next using some coloured string, attach a small piece to the back to resemble the wick. Then using a white pencil draw on some notepaper lines. 

And now you have your very own Fruit Ninja notepaper to send off to a very surprised penpal or anyone you like.

If you make this project please send me photos I'd love to see them. 

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Recipe - Summer Green Drink

The weather is heating up here in Australia and there's nothing I love more than finding a cool drink to have that's not water.

So I wanted to share with you today a cooling and healthy green drink I created. It's so yummy and refreshing.

First you'll need:

A banana
A stalk of kale
Handful of blueberries
A small cucumber
Handful of baby spinach

Next you'll need:

2 tablespoons of Coconut water powder (I find this a cheaper option to buying coconut water as you just add it to water and it stores in the cupboard)
2 teaspoons of Maca power blends (contains both Maca powder and Cacao powder)
1/2 teaspoon of Spirulina
About a cup of water or a little bit more if needed

Add all to a blender and blend - enjoy!!! 

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Recipe - Triple Chocolate Carmel Walnut Brownies

There's nothing like a good brownie - or that's what my husband MJ would say.

So I'm always on the look out for a new brownie recipe to try, well this time I decided to make my own recipe and combine two of MJ's greatest loves (beside me of course - ha ha) chocolate and caramel.

So please sit back and enjoy my "Triple Chocolate Carmel Walnut Brownies"

125g butter or margarine
200g dark chocolate (I like to use Cabury melts as it gives it a nicer taste)
110g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 & 1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup crumbled walnuts
3/4 cup milk choc chips
1/2 cup caramel baking bits
3/4 cup white choc chips

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line a square cake pan (around the 20cm mark)

Combine butter, dark chocolate and sugar into a large saucepan, stir over a low heat until melted. Allow to cool for around 10 mins.

Stir into the cooled melted chocolate mix the eggs, flour, walnut, milk choc chips, caramel bits and white choc chips until combined.

Spoon mixture into pan and smooth the top over.

Bake for about 20 - 25 mins. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Recipe - Strawberry Jam

#81 - Try Jam Making

I've always wanted to have a go at jam making, so when Coles had an awesome special on strawberries the other week I knew my time had come.

So today we will be making strawberry jam.

First up we need:

- 1.5 kg of strawberries (6 x 250g punnets)
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1.25 kg sugar, warmed
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 small plates placed in the freezer
- Clean jars

Now wash your strawberries with the stems still on

Next hull the strawberries, never hull and then wash as the strawberries will absorb water and the taste will be affected. 

Now we need to warm the sugar, to do this use a large baking tray and spread the sugar out in an even layer and warm in a slow oven (150 degrees Celsius) for about 10-15 minutes. 

Place the strawberries in a large deep pan with the lemon juice, warmed sugar and water. Now warm gently without boiling, be careful while stirring that you don't break up the berries too much. 

Increase the heat and again without boiling stir for around 10 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. 

Now increase the heat and this time bring the mixture to the boil for 20 minutes, stirring often. Make sure you skim any scum off the surface. 

After 20 minutes you can start testing for a setting point but it may take up to around 40 minutes. Make sure the jam isn't catching on the base of the pan and burning. 

To test for setting point remove one of the small plates from the freezer and place around a teaspoon of the jam onto the cold plate. Gently push your finger through the jam, if the jam wrinkles it's ready, if not continue cooking for a little longer and test again.

Once ready remove jam from the heat and spoon immediately into clean, warm jars and seal. Make sure you turn the jars upside down for about 2 minutes and then turn back up the right way and leave to cool (this just helps move the air around inside the jars). Be sure to label and date your jars so you know what jam is inside and the date you made it. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6-12 months. Once opened place in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. 


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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Recipe - Raspberry, Cranberry & Hibiscus Sorbet

When the weather warms up I love to eat ice-cream, gelato or sorbet as it's oh so yummy and refreshing on a hot day.

I got this idea originally from a Donna Hay magazine but I changed up the flavours to what I had on hand.

Raspberry, Cranberry & Hibiscus Sorbet 

500g frozen raspberries
125ml boiling water
310ml cranberry & hibiscus cordial (I bought mine at the local organic shop)

Place the raspberries, water and cordial in a food processor and process until combined. 

Pour into a metal tin (I used a loaf tin) lined with cling wrap (as it makes it easier to get out later) and freeze for 3-4 hours or until set. 

Cut the sorbet into squares place into a food processor and process until smooth. 

Return the sorbet to the freezer for 1 hour or until ready to stand - enjoy

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

2 years of Blogging adventures + plus the lessons along the way‏

Wow - yesterday marked 2 years since I started this blog - that's insane right?????  2 years of talking and sharing with you awesome guys. 

I can't believe I've stuck with blogging for 2 years - for you see I'm a chronic dreamer, I start so many things and never finish them (I am trying to get way better though). So for me to stick with something for so long and not give it up or get sick of doing it, is amazing to say the least. I'm actually quite proud of myself really, it's proven to me that I can stick with something and get better at it. 

Over the last 2 years I've learnt so much about blogging, bloggers and myself in general. My style of writing has improved since my first few posts (see some of those old posts here, here and here). What I want to achieve through this medium has changed too, at first it was about completing my 101 list (see my first ever post here), then it was about daily challenges where I was posting pretty much everyday but I got so bored with them and realised I was only doing them for material to post and my material was quite boring (well to me anyway, if you liked it then right on!!!) Now my goal and purpose is to stop making it so much work and just have fun and make people smile. I want to make people smile, I want to make people feel better about themselves. Whether that's through Messages of Hope, Pinterest Fridays, DIYs, Recipes or my random thoughts/opinions that's what I'd love to achieve and I hope I do. 

Another good privilege of blogging is getting to read and know some other great bloggers and people out there. I've gotten to know Lynda from the gorgeous Homelea Lass (check her out she's great), April Styles through Instagram who runs a Esty shop called Madd Lola, Annette from I Give You The Verbs, Cintia from My Poppet and so many more wonderful people.  I've also got to connect with a few of them as pen-pals, which has been fantastic and so much fun, it's been awesome to go back to old-fashioned (or should we say retro) way of communicating.  

Thank you to everyone who has followed me from the beginning, middle or just joined your support is wonderful and greatly appreciated, cheers to many more years to come. Also if you have any helpful blogging tips or tricks you'd like to share please feel free plus if there is anything you'd like me blog about in future I'm always up for suggestions and ideas. 

Thanks again everyone!!!!! Much love to you all!!!! 

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Recipe - Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

On Sunday as part of #sundaybakingsunday by I Give You the Verbs, I decided to try out a new recipe idea - blueberry and cinnamon muffins.

I adapted my favourite Strawberry muffin recipe and changed a few things around and added this and that, and I've come up with a great yummy muffin recipe.

Blueberry & Cinnamon Muffins

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 & 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (or more if you like)
130g butter (melted and cooled slightly)
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 punnet of blueberries (washed)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl sift together flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon.

In another bowl mix together butter, eggs and milk (I find beating each egg before adding it to the mixture helps incorporate the eggs better)

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, folding through to just combined and then fold in the blueberries. At this point you can taste the mixture and more cinnamon if you like.

Spoon the batter in the cupcake/muffin tin (I filled them about 1/2 way) and bake for 20 mins or until golden brown and cooked through.

Eat and enjoy.

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Messages of Hope - What is Hope?

Today I want to share a poem I found at Poemhunter about Hope.

What Hope means

Hope is bright shining light which keeps darkness at the bay
Hope is gentle cold breeze on a hot summer day

Hope is to remain positive when going gets tough
Hope is seeking more when others think you had enough

What Hope means

Hope is dreaming of tommorow
Hope is simmering under sorrow

Hope is sparkles when tears in our eyes
Hope is a beautiful thing & beutiful things never dies

What Hope means

Hope is as light as a feather
Hope keeps all of us together

Hope is ubiquitous and free of cost
hope is the last thing ever lost.....

Have a good week everyone. 

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Hope lessons from a 2 year old!

This weeks Messages of Hope #findingeverydayhope is bought you to by a 2 year old.

Back in February this year my gorgeous little niece taught me a very powerful lesson in hope.

It was February 13th and I'd just arrived back at my parents house after finding out I had miscarried at 9.5 weeks. My older brother and my mother were hugging me as I cried. Little did I know that my 2 year old niece was watching (I had forgotten she was there).

I went to cupboard later to get something to eat and was crouching down to look at the bottom shelf when my niece came over to me. Crouching down I was at her height, she looked me square in the eyes, brushed my hair to the side and said "Aunty Tine you ok?" Trying to smile I said "Yes little one, I'm ok" She then brushed my hair again away from my eyes and gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug.

In that little moment she showed me how much she loves me and that there is hope in the future.

Thank you little one for that moment, I love you too.

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

In Society No One Wins.

Society today is a fickle creature, always changing it's mind, never straight forward, it changes shape every day. One day it's your best friend and the next your mortal enemy. You could be the best thing ever today and a total loser tomorrow - society always has the final say. 
In society no one wins!!!!
You might be supporting the ice bucket challenge today raising funds for charity and then tomorrow you are condemned for wasting water. Today you could be wearing a mini-skirt and be told you are empowering women to wear what they want and then tomorrow you could be told you are degrading yourself by showing too much skin. 
You can never win!!!!
I was reading some articles the other day and one was entitled "15 Stars who refuse to take it off for the cameras"  - one of the quotes from the article was "these famous ladies don't have the courage to (or may they're too polite?)" but then on the flipside this article about Miley Cryus, she is being looked down on for going topless. So how does that work? How can you condemn someone for not going topless and then condemn them for going topless?
"Be proud of who you are" - but not too much or you're a stuck up bitch. "Speak your mind" - but not too much or you'll be too opinionated and told to shut up or asked if you are having your periods. "Celebrate your differences" - but only as long as no one else has a problem with it. "As a man you should be more gentle and caring" - but don't show too much emotion or you'll be considered a sissy. "Men should look after themselves more" - but be careful or your sexuality will be questioned. 
It's just madness that a society like this has been created and exists - but who created it??? who controls it???? 
It's a mystery - some say it's us but when we stand up against society it's others that try to stamp us out. 
I'm not saying society is totally evil or immoral or anything of the like, it does have it's place but it does need to be a bit more loving and accepting. 
So lets start showing society how to be loving and accepting, lets show society that it will not break us.  
"Cause the players are going to play, the haters are going to hate, heartbreakers are going to break, fakers are going to fake - but I'm just going to shake it off" Taylor Swift 

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

DIY - Paint Splattered Heart Canvas

Last week I shared a DIY for paint splattered notepaper - this week I wanted to continue the theme but with a twist.

I bought a little canvas at the local cheap store for $1 and cut out a heart shape from a piece of clear contact paper. I peeled off the backing paper of the heart and centred it in the middle of the canvas making sure it was fully stuck down. Then using different coloured poster paints I just splashed paint all over the canvas, as seen in the picture below.

Once the paint is dry using a toothpick carefully peel off the contact heart and you should have a beautiful little white heart in the middle. 

I love this - so quick and simple to make plus so much fun getting all messy with paint. 

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

DIY - Paint Splattered Penpal Stationery

After weeks of heavy on/off rain here in Sydney, Sunday's amazing warm sun was such a welcome change and it was inviting me to come outside and play. 
I've got a few penpals now and I'm loving this snailmail revival that's going on. It's refreshing to connect without technology and go back to pen and paper. 
I wanted to send my penpals something special and unique so I thought I would create my own stationery. 
All you need is some paint (I'm using poster paint), paintbrushes, writing paper and envelopes. Set yourself up somewhere you can be messy. I laid out towels and plastic bags on the grass in our backyard.

Pick the colours you would like to paint with, dip in a paint brush and getting flicking. It's as simple as that. You can even get more creative and use an old toothbrush which gives a whole different effect again. 

The end result is fantastic, something different and it's differently one of a kind each piece of notepaper. 

I even had some fun painting scenes onto envelopes. I'd love to know what the postman thinks when he see this. 

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