first holy communion + being sentimental

Growing up we moved around every few years with my dad’s work so there was always packing and unpacking and getting rid of things. But I’m a bit of a hoarder for special things. OK maybe I’m a bit of a hoarder full stop. I don’t know how I’ve managed to keep things over the years. One of the things that I’ve kept is the little medal I received way back in 1982 for my First Holy Communion. Back then I saved it because it was jewellery and a memento but now it’s so special to give to my own little ones when they make their sacraments. I also saved my little dove pin from my Confirmation too which we used just over a year ago.

And this is finally the year that I get to bring out my Communion medal and give it to my big girl. It probably didn’t cost much back in the day, it’s not made of gold or silver but I love it so much and that I get to pass it on. It was a bit touch and go there for a while as the little kids got stuck into the jewellery box. That was at the old house but thankfully it turned up when we had moved in here. It’s hard to be precious about nice things when you have lots of little ones but I do my best to keep some things away from them.

I’m looking forward to our big girl making her First Holy Communion and even started a pinterest board with all these lovely ideas but she’s got it all figured out. She said in the car last night how much she was looking forward to making it. And I was waiting for the bit about the dress or a cake or presents. But no, she said that after all the years she’s been going up to receive a blessing when it’s time for Communion that she is so excited that she’ll be going up for Communion and receiving it from then on.

Well there you go. My work here is done. What could I say to that? Basic white dress here we come…..just kidding……..someone did ask if I’d be sewing it. I think it’s just out of my comfort zone when it comes to sewing. Zippers and fine materials and me don’t go together too well.

just busy

Where has the term gone? Where is the year going? Today I had to race out and grab supplies for the easter hat parade which is is on next week. Last year my effort was hopeless as it was the craziest time for us. And by effort I mean - night before, plastic hat and cotton wool but when I arrived at school  one child had 1 cotton wool ball clinging to the plastic hat for dear life. It was not good. I sat there looking at everyone else’s creative efforts and made a promise to myself that I would do better the next year. And then the twins reminded me that it was next week, and then the email arrived and I knew I had to do better. So I basically grabbed things that worked together and will let the twins create some masterpieces. And this year I even got craft glue instead of a glue stick just to make sure we don’t have a repeat of last year.

I’ve just finished school open days and am now in school application process and it’s the paperwork you need to attach that is killing me.  Does this report that we have meet the criteria? One school has one requirement and another doesn’t.I’m just piling all the paperwork in the one spot to devote a few hours to them  plus adding a photo and  covering letter. Once they are in the post I’ll start praying and crossing everything that we get our first choice.  What I’ve now learnt is that it isn’t just about meeting criteria but having a mix of students who have different special needs  in the class together. I know it will all work out and am trying not to worry and just focus on the rest of the year.

Anyway life is always busy here but the weather has been great so we’ve been playing outside. People often ask oh do you keep any animals or what do you have in your garden? Zero animals and not much that we’ve added to the garden (oh but we have loads of limes and soon will have grapefruit coming out our ears) but we still enjoy what has been planted before. I am especially loving the native plants and put these in a jar yesterday and am so glad that one of the kids noticed the pretty flowers in the dining room. Natives are so great as they are zero maintenance and you can enjoy them and the colours are so beautiful. Meanwhile my roses are not loving me at the moment. And the hydrangeas didn’t do so well so I’ll try again with them. Crafter yes, gardener no.

There hasn’t been much knitting but I’m doing an In threes for another baby to be born and hoping that it gets finished before Easter. And most of my days are spent keeping an eye on this little guy who is moving everywhere. He makes me laugh so much.

Very expressive and funny. He also stopped sleeping through the night but we’re hopeful he’ll get back to it. It was nice while it lasted.

Are you busy at the moment too?

playdough isn’t just for the preschoolers

How long have I had a thermomix? Oh over 3 years now and I’ve just made playdough for the first time and it was a piece of cake. Even if I didn’t have cream of tartar but had all sorts of other baking necessities like arrowroot, rice flour, glucose syrup, different types of sugars and flours. Not a bit of cream of tartar. Not to worry it turned out wonderfully and I just added roughly another 1/4 cup of flour and was good.

Now I actually made the playdough for my little 2 and 4 year old while the big kids were out at swimming. Next morning after church the big kids asked could they get the playdough out to play with it. OK? Well they were making ‘cookies’ and ‘cakes’ and helping the littles ones while I was catching up on laundry. Loved it

and even though my big kids had fun with the playdough the best fun was really had by my littlest ones…………..I’m going to make some more colours later in the week. This is also really great as an OT activity and for kids with special needs and sensory issues. Just getting their hands in there and rolling, cutting shapes and making things with the playdough is a great experience.

I used this recipe minus the cream of tartar and just added about 1/4 cup more flour once it was out on the board and I was kneading it.

poor old 6th baby with no photos

First baby gets all the photos, their own album and everything documented. Then the second baby comes along and standards start to slip, then the third (although we did 2 for 1 when we had our twins) and then by the 4th you realise you better start taking lots of baby photos so our little elodie has plenty of photos. Then the 5th sneaks up on you…….poor little guy was lucky to get a photo of his first Christmas it was such a busy day and that brings us to the 6th.

I realised almost all of the photos of him are stored on my phone.

Poor little man. He deserves a bit better than that. We do love him so much.

So I grabbed my camera and took a few photos after his dinner….bit of food still on him and dribble too. Well he is the 6th. No time for an outfit change or to notice those things BEFORE I took the photos. Plus this is real life at 5.30pm on a Thursday night with a 7 month old baby and 5 other kids running around too.

People have asked who he looks like and I’m proud to say there is more of me and my family this time around! Yay for that…oh and his daddy’s blue eyes. He’s a good little boy, always smiling (ok and he also frowns but not much of a crier), loves people, loves his big brothers and sisters, loves food (all of it, hasn’t been anything he doesn’t like), moves fast and has already put lego in his mouth.

 I took these photos on a proper camera (not my iPhone), my Olympus EM-5 with a 25mm lens….still my favourite.

gluten free scones + win a $100 Woolworths Gift Card

brought to you by Woolworths

I know that gluten free seems to be the current trend in eating at the moment. But for coeliacs and people with a sensitivity to gluten it’s not just a trend. This week is coeliac awareness week so I put together a little afternoon tea with some of our gluten free favourites from Woolworths. Including some delicious scones.

And actually I’ve decided we need to have afternoon tea on a sunday more often as we all found ourselves sitting around the table eating and talking. For a lot longer than was necessary for these photos. The kids had lemonade in their china tea cups and perfected their little pinky in the air.

And a proper afternoon tea needs scones. I’m a sucker for a warm scone with jam and cream. I can throw my entire diet out the window if I know that there will be warm scones with jam and cream.  But I haven’t made gluten free ones before. The trick to scones is not overmixing your dough and not overcooking them. Mine might look a bit light on top but they were beautifully soft and perfectly cooked inside after 13 minutes in my oven.

And of course you can’t have scones without cream. I whip mine in the kitchen aid for a couple of minutes, I also like to pop icing sugar into my cream while I’m whipping it. Be sure to check that you are using pure icing sugar as icing mixture can contain gluten.

If you’ve read any of my gluten free baking posts on my blog before you’ll know that the Free From Gluten flour range at Woolworths is one of my favourites. It replaces regular wheat flour cup for cup meaning you can just substitute it into your favourite recipes as a gluten free substitute. I do find that leaving it a little bit after it’s come out of the oven makes it easier to slice. And something else to remember is that your gluten free cakes and biscuits might taste or look a little different to what you’re used to eating with wheat flour but they are just as delicious.

There are currently 30 Free From Gluten products in the range at Woolworths and you’ll find them in the health food aisle. We had the Chocolate Chip Biscuits, Double Choc Biscuits and Gingernut biscuits which are already our family favourite. You would never know that any of the biscuits are gluten free. We also have tried this banana bread which is great for last minute lunchbox baking or when you need to bake a cake but are short of a few things.

some tips if you need to avoid gluten

work out how to make your favourite meals gluten free

gluten free pastas are delicious and most of the time no one would know it’s gluten free

always read labels

if in doubt search the internet to see if it’s safe to eat on a gluten free diet

rice is a wonderful food that is naturally gluten free and kids love sushi, fried rice and more

tamari is a great replacement for soy sauce which contains wheat

gluten free biscuits and snacks are great to keep in the pantry for when a friend comes over

keep a loaf of gluten free bread in your freezer to make it last longer and then use it as needed

And for a bit of fun, one lucky reader could win a $100 Woolworths Gift Card. Just tell me what Free From Gluten product you’d like to try or perhaps your favourite in the range. 

One entry per person, giveaway is open to Australian residents only and entries close 26 March 2015. Full terms of my giveaways can be found here.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
gluten free scones
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: gluten free
Serves: 12
What you'll need
  • 3 cups Free From Gluten Self Raising flour
  • 1 Tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (room temperature)
  • 150mls cream or milk
  • 150mls water
  • thickened cream and jam to serve
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour into a bowl or place into a mixer and add in butter. Rub in the butter (or process in your mixer).
  2. Mix in the cream/milk and water and gently combine in with a knife. Don't overdo it. You want a nice sticky mixture.
  3. Tip out onto a floured mat or work surface and using your hands (covered in flour) make into a flattened round.
  4. Using a small round cup or glass or cutter you will cut out about 12 or 13 rounds and place next to each other on a baking tray lined with baking paper
  5. Brush with a little milk on the top of the scones.
  6. Bake in a 220C oven for 8-13 minutes until lightly golden on top. Don't leave them in too long as I find they are overdone.
  7. a little tip for soft scones is to have the scones resting against each other while they bake
  8. Serve with some whipped cream and strawberry jam.

 

 

Patons Big Book of Big Baby

One of the things I love to do is check out the latest knitting books. You can never have too many knitting books and someone is always having a baby and I’m always looking for new baby patterns. Patons do some lovely knitting patterns and I have quite a collection of their books.

Last week while I was out picking up buttons I also came home with this book, Big Book of Big Baby, and it’s pretty cute with a bit of a vintage feel. I do try to give myself a little pep talk before I go into a store just for buttons. Don’t look at the fabric. Don’t buy anything else. You have enough. But I couldn’t resist this little hoodie.

Often Patons patterns are knit in separate pieces and joined up and there isn’t much in the way of seamless knitting. Well I think things might be changing. And I am loving this little hoodie. I’ve started at the neckline and am knitting down and it’s coming up beautifully. The body is knitted in the round and then the sleeves and hood are added on later on.

I’ve used some Bendigo Athena from the stash which is super soft and I think is much nicer than luxury. Unfortunately if you snooze you lose when it comes to Bendigo’s special releases so there isn’t that much of a range of colours left. But if you are my husband then you’ll see why I usually buy a few balls when a new release comes out just in case I miss out. And over the years I’ve missed out a few times. The Athena knits up a perfect stitch, isn’t splitty, is super soft and easy to work with and these colours work nicely together. I’m more of a red and pink person myself but thought my little lawson needed a little jumper for winter.

The Book has a few crochet and knitting patterns and although it’s not really a Big Book (there are 10 patterns all up) they are modern with a vintage feel and have a range of 4 ply and 8 ply patterns which is always nice. I don’t do much knitting in 4 ply as I prefer a faster knit.

Big Book of Big Baby is Book 1101 and you can find it online and wherever you buy your Patons books and wool from.

another granny’s favourite

I love finishing a knitting project. And I mean really finish by putting the buttons on and starting my next project. Granny’s favourite by tiKKi is an easy little top down cardigan that I love.

Now when I say easy it has a lace neckline that requires some counting and concentration. Very hard to do with all the little kids running around and I usually make a few mistakes or knit one stitch over and muck up the pattern. So concentrate, do it when the kids are busy or asleep. And even with that I left off the garter stitch row at the end of the lace pattern. I realised about 6 or 8 rows later but decided it’s a design feature. Yep. Whenever you make a little mistake just call it a design feature.

The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Shetland 8 ply from the back room. It’s lovely and soft and the colour is really pretty. Buttons from Lincraft.

This is going to a baby girl that is to be born next month and I just found out that the mum’s favourite colour is red. I didn’t know that but how perfect. I also picked up two little outfits for the new baby. I love shopping for girls (boys are cute too but I’m always drawn to the girls clothes) and I was only going to get one outfit but these outfits from Target were so cute and at $22 each how could I resist.

the leggings remind me of Liberty fabric.

Look how cute the cardigan looks with the chambray. Those early days are so hard with a little baby so at least the mum can have a few cute outfits that go together.

Pattern is available here, I knit the 3 month size so that it lasted a little while rather than newborn,  yarn is no longer available I’m afraid but using a lovely soft 8 ply like Luxury or Athena would work beautifully, ravelry details for this little cardigan can be found here.

And here is the last Granny’s favourite that I made.

structured play for toddlers & preschoolers

I was a sent a huge box of beautiful toys from Finlee & Me to review and have fun with. We got to keep the toys and it was perfect timing as this year is our last year at home and we’re really focusing on taking turns, helping speech, playing with other children and getting ready for the classroom next year. This isn’t a paid review and I’m offering some tips and other things that we do at home for structured play. I’m no expert in early education or child development but have sat in on enough OT and speech sessions to help my little girl (and am still learning) and hope that this helps some of you.

If you have a few little ones then you know that they love to play together happily without too much help. This was the story with my eldest 3 who were very happy and capable of playing together. If you have a child with special needs or perhaps a late talker, a child who can’t share or even an only child who doesn’t like to play alone – well you know that you have to get involved in playtime. So a big box of toys arrives and there are so many to choose from and the most popular one…………..this one, which is great for colours, fine motor, using left and right hands, crossing the midline (oh I hope our OT appreciates that I put that one in there as I had no idea what she was talking about).

Don’t leave the room with this one especially if you have babies around or in my case the balls got thrown around the room like tennis balls and had to be retrieved from under furniture. This is also a great one to say pick the green ball or the red one. When you are teaching colours or asking a young child or special needs child to choose it’s good to start with 2 choices not too many. So put out the red and green and ask to pick up the green one. And so on. Then you can add more colours. This was lots of fun and the kids favourite….even the big kids keep asking where it is (hidden so we keep the balls together with the game!).

Close behind was the kinetic sand but this was not my favourite but only because of the cleaning up (you will notice the paper quickly appeared once I realised it was being flung around) but the kids loved this one. All of them.

Again don’t leave the room.  A good tip is to do it outside on an outdoor table or the ground on some newspaper or a mat. This is so great for kids who have sensory issues as fear of sand can be a big one and this one is just so much fun that you want to get your hands in there. Great for fine motor and I just love the description of 98% sand and 2% magic. I’d always heard of other parents talk about kinetic sand but this really is fun. Great for kids birthday presents. You can find more sensory toys here.

Peek, seek and find bags are fun. We’ve never used one before and this one was probably a bit too old for my little girl because of her developmental age but great for 4 years and older. You can start to introduce the alphabet. Mum or Dad might ask the child to find the letter A and there is a velcro sheet of the alphabet so that you can point out the letter that you are wanting your little one to find. Definitely going to look for a girly girl one and this one is safely set aside for when we are at school and learning the alphabet. This is also a great quiet activity to take to appointments, in the car or for church.

I’ve never seen appletters before but this is such a good quality game. This one is for my older 3 and they can make words, play crosswords, divide the letters between them and play a word game. They are nice and heavy letters and a good size and the apple storage case is genius. This is one that I’ve also put aside for my little girl when she is learning the alphabet. Would make a wonderful birthday party present for a school aged child or an advanced preschooler who is learning to spell words.

My biggest tip with structured play for special needs kids is to incorporate your little one’s interests into it. For us it’s all about bright colours, princesses, super cute little puppies and cats (I love that she can say ‘cuuuuute’ and ‘oh my goooooosh’), anything crafty and did I say princesses. Yes princesses. Whether they love princesses or lego or building things work out a way to incorporate it into their play and when you are doing one on one at home.

other tips for structured play

TV off, phone away and  undivided attention

talk (oh you want the red one, that’s the red one)

pause and give plenty of time for your little one to answer (it can take them a bit longer to find the words/action)

practise taking turns

be patient

look on pinterest, play blogs and the internet for ideas and inspiration

 pick the right time of day (mornings and just after lunch work well for us, not just before dinner)

if your child has special needs remember to choose activities that are appropriate for their level

build on their strengths and what they are good at to develop a sense of confidence

finding the right school for your child with special needs

If you know me then you know I’m happy go lucky. Nothing bothers me too much, the sun will always come up on a new day, no problem is too big for me to deal with and when all else fails….eat chocolate. I really just pick myself up and get on with it. Right now I am having to dig deep and stay positive at a time when I’m overwhelmed and a little depressed by the shortage of places for special needs kids when it comes time to start school. You can almost smell the stress levels from parents at open days because everyone wants a spot for their child. And why shouldn’t they but there just aren’t that many options and the best places just don’t have many spots.

Finding a school for your child is a big decision. Thankfully I’ve learnt from my older children that it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right in the early years because you can always find a new school. But having a child with special needs is a whole new ball game. I’ve almost become a mini expert in the options nearby but that doesn’t guarantee you a spot.

And I’m still left wondering what is the best option – and what are your options? Just in case you’ve got a really little one with special needs or newly diagnosed. Well we have mainstream (so your local public school or perhaps another school in the area with a commitment to getting some funding for teachers aides) but I just don’t think the support is enough for what we need, a support class in a mainstream public school or some catholic schools offer satellite classes for children with autism, a public special school (generally for children with moderate – severe disabilities), independent special schools (not very many of them and can be hard to get into), mix of special school and mainstream school during the week and homeschooling.

Now add a girl to the mix…turns out my number one question looking at a school is what is the boy to girl ratio and it’s not always what I want to hear.

Anyway, I’m passing this one over to you. What did you do when your child with special needs needed to start school? Did you change to a different school setting later on? Is there anything you’d do differently? How did you get through the stress of finding the right school for them?

making an easy baby blanket

I always have these wonderful ideas of things to make………and then just never find the time. I also think crazy things like on a monday decide I’d like to make a playmat for Wednesday when I’m seeing someone. That sort of thing. Finding time to get in the sewing room is pretty hard, at the moment it’s just to make orders, tell a little person to get out of there or have a tidy up. But a couple of hours (spread over 3 sessions, don’t worry I don’t get that much time to myself these days) in there on the weekend and I made little playmat/blanket for a little boy. And if you can sew a straight line then you can make this too. Oh yes you can. Don’t think that you can’t.

You will need : 20 x 10 inch squares of fabric (Moda do these in a layer cake), flannelette for the backing (I used some good quality Moda flannelette) and some 100% cotton quilt batting in the middle. You join up the squares using a generous seam (about 3/4-1 inch seam, don’t do a quarter inch) and just make sure you use the same seam throughout the whole playmat/blanket.

You firstly join the squares going down so you have 4 rows of fabric pieced together and then you join across by joining the first 2 rows together, then add the 3rd and then add the 4th. Give it a good press with the iron and I like my seams to one side, you might like them flat. Do what you prefer.

Measure up the backing and batting to be a bit bigger (a few inches) than your blanket top. Place the batting on the floor, then the backing flannelette right side up, then the quilt top right side down. Smooth out any lumps and bumps and pin together with pins or safety pins from the centre out in all directions smoothing out as you go.

Sew about 3/4 inch from the outside edge all the way around the quilt except for about 7 inches which is going to be the bit we’re going to turn out and pull our quilt through. Trim your corners, pull your quilt right side out through the gap you left. Close up the gap with a close to the edge stitch on your machine or just hand stitch it up. Give the blanket a little press with the iron

Sometimes I will top stitch all around the edge of the quilt (about 1/2 inch in) this one I didn’t as I decided just to do the A’s. It’s up to you. Now we’re going to use a fun stitch on your machine to join all the layers together randomly all over the playmat/blanket. I used the little boy’s initial all over. I had a moment of panic after a couple of squares when I realised I might be doing them upside down! Thankfully not. Check first. I do love fonts on sewing machines but I just don’t use them enough. After about 3 blocks I realised this could take a while so I did it in 2 sittings and I just love it. It really makes it special AND it’s a great reason to use the fonts on your machine.

And that’s one super cute and easy personalised baby playmat or blanket. Perfect if you don’t have time or don’t know how to quilt but want to make something special for a baby or little one.

The fabric range for this little project was Daysail by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, some Moda flannelette also from Bonnie & Camille on the back and some 100% cotton quilt batting. I find it best to buy Matilda’s Own quilt batting as it’s australian and better priced than the american equivalent at Spotlight. Starting out you might like to use a poly quilt batting but I always think start with something nice and it makes a beautiful 100% cotton quilt inside and out.

to make an even easier blanket you can just one piece of lovely fabric for the top instead of piecing squares together, just go here.

escaping the housework on a sunday

Recently I realised that I spend a lot of sunday at home. Church in the morning then it’s laundry, cleaning, more housework, some baking, catching up on jobs that didn’t get done during the week, making up orders and not much else. I don’t think that’s how I should be spending my sundays and it’s not I how enjoy my time either. And so now I’m making a big effort to get out of the house and do some of those Sunday jobs on a monday. Today we went for a drive and joined in  mass in the monastery which opens up once a year and was lovely. It was so quiet and peaceful and I’m glad we made mass because we actually pulled up and parked at the wrong church and then had to get back in the car and drive up to the correct place.

It’s always nice to take the kids to different churches and last year we enjoyed mass at the Shrine of Schoenstatt (pictured just below). If you get the chance to go up there it’s just beautiful and the view is lovely. The kids get to see that lots of people worship on a sunday and in different places than just their local church. It’s also nice to come together with other people and celebrate mass.

Today, the stained glass windows were so beautiful and we went around to look at each one. We might not be ready to take the family to the great churches of Europe but heh we can admire windows and churches here. And I found out from another lady walking around admiring the windows that one pair of the windows were previously from St Mary’s Cathedral and made in 1860 so are very special. The kids picked out things that I couldn’t see as I was juggling the baby. They had questions for me and were so well behaved and made me very proud.  So mums of little ones relax, just keep up with the church going because it does get easier and I’ve got some beautiful little church goers with me.

Now some of the littlest members of our family found it very hard to be inside when a jumping castle and sausage sizzle were outside. So we joined up with them for some fun. The fairy floss was popular with my girls and it had been a long time between fairy floss for us. After we took a few photos we were walking to the cake stall (priorities, you can’t leave a fete without checking out the cake stall) and a little girl ran past taking elodie’s fairy floss with her (it stuck to her clothes). It all happened so quickly that our little one was just like ‘what just happened, I’m holding a stick?’. And the girl who ran past was trying to get the fairy floss off her skirt. Anyway, back to get some more fairy floss and we were sorted.

Some jams and chutney, some hanging tea towels with the knitted handles (oh yes, I get all the classics when I’m at a fete) and a quick look at the white elephant then time to load everyone back into the car. I was happy, I’m not touching the washing until I need to think about ironing some shirts for tomorrow and I’m happy to have had a morning out of the house.

First thing you do at a fete? Sausage sizzle? Cake stall? Craft stall? Fairy Floss?

adagio alpaca mills

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog lately. Whenever life is busy behind the scenes it gets very quiet on the blog. And it’s very busy here. But I love that I still get to read lots of lovely emails from my readers. Recently I received an email from a lovely reader of mine Nadine. I had met Nadine at a quilting class that I had organised quite a few years ago. She was an engineer and got me some fabulous quilting gloves that I’m still using today. Anyway, Nadine was emailing  to tell me that she was setting up a woollen mill in NSW and would love some support to get the word out. Now that I can do.

I’m very excited about this and there is a wonderful story behind the business if you watch the video here.  Nadine and her husband are both engineers and had made a tree change to Orange and are now setting up their own business in the region which is just wonderful. I’m also excited to take the kids out to Orange for the day to have a look when they are up and running and maybe meet some of the alpacas too. I love alpacas. Such a cute animal.

The carder

So I hope that you’ll get behind this great aussie business, spread the word by sharing the website (especially if you know alpaca growers!), follow Adagio Alpaca Mills on Facebook (especially if you love cute photos of alpacas) and if you can put a little money in to get the washing equipment here, even better. There are some great levels of support and some little rewards at each level.

Andrew, James, Nadine and Xavier Hulme

And lots of luck to Nadine, her hubby and this wonderful business. This is an exciting venture and I can’t wait to cast something onto my needles using some Adagio Alpaca.

you’ve got a thermomix, now what to make

If there is one question that new thermomix owners have it is  ‘What to make?’.  You’ve waited patiently for it to arrive or maybe you are borrowing it from a friend and you want to know what to make. My best advice is to keep it simple. Don’t go for the fancy recipes from the very beginning. Get the basics under your belt – pizza dough, cookies, cooking rice with some vegies on top, curry and a simple pasta dish. Then once you’re confident and you understand how it all works, then you can tackle something a bit trickier. You’ll find most of these recipes in your basics cookbook (or everyday cookbook) or your recipe chip (love that recipe chip!) on the TM5 (reviewed here).

pizza dough 

you make the dough, divide it up between the kids, they shape their dough and do the toppings and you put in the oven. Entertainment and meal is done and dusted. It’s a no brainer and much cheaper and better for you than the pizza shop.

simple cake

still loving this simple tea cake recipe. It’s ridiculous how easy it is and yet it turns out perfectly every time.

choc chip cookies

we love the choc chip cookie recipe in the thermomix. I usually add a bit more flour and I use choc chips instead of a block of chocolate grated. Makes loads of cookies and the kids gobble them up

bread

making bread in the thermomix is too easy and the house smells so wonderful. I don’t make it as often as I should but when I do I always say to myself not to leave it too long the next time

anzacs

I really  like the anzacs in the thermomix. Instead of golden syrup I usually use honey or maple syrup and they are delicious. Roll into a ball, flatten with a fork then bake.

rice and your varoma

just something simple like some chicken pieces and vegies up top while the rice is cooking in your rice basket. I usually do 20 minutes, varoma temp, speed 4 for my rice and the veg and if the chicken needs longer I’ll give it another 3 minutes in the varoma with the rice basket removed from the jug. Another quick meal is cooking some sushi rice in your rice basket and then serving it in bowls with some tuna that has mayo already mixed in and some sliced avocado and then some tamari on top. Super delicious and quick dinner that my kids love. We call it sushi bowls and honestly it takes 20 minutes and fills everyone up.

curry

all time favourite curry has to be this chicken and yoghurt recipe from the indian cooking book which is actually one of my all time favourite cookbooks for the thermomix.

sorbet

now with the current frozen berry recall that’s happening I don’t think we’ll be buying big packs of frozen berries for a while. Freeze your own berries or favourite fruit yourself is the best thing to do.

cheesey pizza scrolls

this is so good for lunch at home or a delicious dinner, it needs a few ingredients but it really is worth it because the kids love it so much and the dough is beautifully soft. Recipe is here

cheesey pizza scrolls

simple pasta dish

we do love our pasta fagiole even if it isn’t the most attractive looking dinner. We still love it. See how we make it  here (I use 1 can of beans not 2) here. Lots of cheese too here on ours.

And if the thermomix if all new to you then can I recommend a couple of blogs to you – Tenina, Quirky Cooking, Super Kitchen Machine, Steph Berg and the recipe community . You can find all of my thermomix recipes here too.

review of people movers for large families

Following on from last week’s post on my dream car  I thought we’d talk people movers for large families. Because let me tell you once I meet another large family mum the conversation usually flows on to what do you drive? Because there aren’t too many choices when you get over 4 or 5 little ones.

keiracar

Now I asked this question on Facebook and I got lots of answers from readers who drive SUVs. I’ll have to do that as a separate post as there are now so many 7 seaters on the market. Because we’ve always had so many in carseats we’ve loved the space of a people mover but I’ll definitely pull together a list of the SUVs that suit larger families.

the bus

And I’d love to hear from you in the comment about your what you drive and why and what’s the car you dream about. So let’s start with the VW multivan. This is what I drive and unfortunately we don’t all fit in there. It’s great for the school run and weekdays but on weekends we are taking 2 cars if we all go out together.

VW MULTIVAN

GOOD THINGS

seats 7, very roomy inside, European safety, lots of power, diesel, good boot space, great for big kids and adults to travel comfortably, well priced (about $54k driveaway for the entry level Comfortline), very reliable and goes the distance, was called a Transporter before Multivan if you are buying 2nd hand.

love the colour

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

height can be an issue in some carparks (I look for 2.1m clearance), 7 seats but the 2nd row would be great as a bench seat making it an 8 seater, we bought the table as an extra and have never used it. EVER! , we have door problems and not sure if it’s just us or a wider problem but we now have a case manager just because of our door problems.

 

VW CARAVELLE

this is on my wish list as it’s now a 9 seater (woo hoo, fits all my kids and grandma), you can find out more here

GOOD THINGS

9 seater (newer models) which suits large families nicely, spacious inside, european safety and quality, reliable, well priced for a european 9 seater (about $55k driveaway new)

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

height can be an issue, longer body than the VW Multivan for parking, not as big boot space (but there is room inside the van for bags etc)

HYUNDAI IMAX

I like the iMax and you can find out more here

Imax-Shuttle-34-Black

image source

GOOD THINGS

very well priced for this sized van, 8 seater and good sized seats in the back, roomy inside especially for the older kids and lots of carseats, very popular people mover, you can walk around inside, great boot space, you can add an extra seat in the front drivers seat row for about $2k if you need an extra seat, some of my readers also love the Trajet which was the people mover before the iMax and can be picked up second hand.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

doesn’t have the european safety and heaviness in the body and doors (if you’ve ever opened a VW or Mercedes van then you know what I’m talking about), there are smaller vans on the market if you only have little children (with little legs)

KIA CARNIVAL

GOOD THINGS

well priced (the new 2015 Grand Carnival entry model will set you back about $46k driveaway in NSW), 8 seats, drives like a car as not as big as other vans, easy to park, no height restrictions to worry about, the 2015 Carnival looks amazing with a new shape, we made a fun video of the Carnival way back in 2012 here just after I had emerson and I think we’re too big a family for the Carnival now.

image source

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

not as spacious inside compared to the bigger people movers, although it’s an 8 seater some of the seats are smaller in the back, check you can fit all of your car seats in and still fold down the seat to get into the back, doesn’t have the heaviness in the doors and body compared to a european van, older models (from memory up to 2006 have known engine problems before they switched to new engine so be careful buying 2nd hand)

TOYOTA TARAGO

a quick scan/my unofficial survery of car line at school tells me this is the most popular people mover at our school. You can find out more here. 

image source

GOOD THINGS

built to last and they just keep going and going (we see some older ones at school), 8 seater, very reliable, nice body shape, easy to drive and park and no height issues compared to the bigger vans, easy for parts and servicing and mechanics always seem to recommend them, easy to pick up second hand and a good resale value.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Price (about $52-74k driveaway in NSW ), there are bigger 8 seaters

MERCEDES VALENTE, VIANO, VITO

you might remember I got to drive the Valente for a week back here. Loved it. 

GOOD THINGS

european safety and heaviness in the doors and body, luxurious, reliable, roomy inside, great boot space, 8 seater and good full sized seats, great for lots of kids, car seats and long legs, great resale price

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Price (starting at about $55k driveaway in NSW for a Valente entry level model), servicing and parts outside of warranty are something to consider and if you’ve owned a european car/van before then you’ll already know this, can be hard to find second hand.

MERCEDES SPRINTER MINIBUS

This is a new one to me but I like it and you can find out more here. 

GOOD THINGS

12 seater, european build (think heavy safe doors and body) and safety features, quality, great for really big families and travelling, reliable, great resale value

,mercedes sprinter inside

image source

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Price (starting at $90k driveaway for a new one), height and size of van for shopping centres/carparks/parking, parts and servicing outside of warranty will be more expensive than some other people movers

CHRYSLER GRAND VOYAGER

I have to confess I don’t know much about these so love to hear what you think

GOOD THINGS

roomy inside, 7 seats, reliable, luxury features, not as big as some of the other people movers, easy to pick up 2nd hand

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Price (starting from $57k new), servicing and parts

HONDA ODYSSEY

oops I have to confess that I left this one off the list! Find out more here.

GOOD THINGS

7 or 8 seater, not as big as some people movers so easy to drive/park, newer model has really changed and is larger, luxury features inside

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Price, not as big inside as other people movers which can be an issue with carseats

TOYOTA HIACE COMMUTER

CONGRATULATIONS! If you drive a HIACE then you really are a large family!

toyota

image source

PROS

Big enough to fit the largest of families (OK maybe not the Duggars but plenty of room for everyone with 12 seats or 14 seats in the super long wheelbase), great for parties and playdates as extra seats, reliable and they go and go and go, easy to pick up second hand, easy to service/parts etc, well priced

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

parking at shopping centres (you’ll need bus parking) and height considerations in carparks, OK parking full stop!

IMPORTS

The Japanese do some nice people movers that aren’t available from dealers and you might have seen a Nissan Elgrand around and there seem to be a few in Sydney. You can buy locally from an importer and if you look on carsales or gumtree you can find them. You’d want to make sure you were near somewhere to service it and have the parts available and also insurance. Love to hear from any of my readers who drive one and what they think.

nissan

image source

OLDER VANS NOT AVAILABLE NEW

Some of my readers have mentioned vans that you can buy second hand but can’t buy new. These include

Mazda MPV (seats 7)

Hyundai Trajet (seats 7)

Mitsubishi Starwagon (comes as 7 or 8 seater)

Mitsubishi Grandis (seats 7)

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A FAMILY VAN

how many carseats do you have/need to fit in and how many anchor points

how big is the boot for your pram (especially if you have twins, 2 or more little ones)

budget

where will be you driving (just locally, inner city, country etc)

how often do you go on family holidays and is it big enough

reliability, parts and servicing

resale and reputation

easy to drive, park and get kids in and out

safety, safety and safety

petrol and the cost of it (usually costs me about $90 to fill up the tank with diesel but it lasts a week)

how many airbags are fitted throughout the car

So what do you drive? What do you love and what do you wish you were driving your family around in? Have I left your people mover off the list? I know there are so many SUVs but I’ll have to save that for another time.

p.s I’m no automotive expert. Just a mum of 6 who does the research before we buy a car. You should always do your own research, take all of your carseats and check that the car you are purchasing is right for your family. What’s right for me and my family might not work for yours so ask around, do your research, read reviews at car websites and the NRMA reviews and also test drive a few cars. We had test driven a few different cars before buying our current van. 

Toyota Dream Car Art Competition – enter now

Brought to you by Toyota

Close your eyes for a second and imagine your dream car. I’m thinking 12 seats (so we can have more kids in the car for playdates, grandmas when they visit), coffee machine, mini fridge to keep my snacks cold (I was thinking Tim Tams but the girls said fruit), always charged ipads for each child with their own headphones in the car, toilet so we never need to stop anywhere while travelling, self driving so I can sit and do my knitting in the front seat. I could go on. But this isn’t about me and my dream car.

Why not ask your kids to do the same and enter a pretty cool competition that is currently running? Each year Toyota asks kids all over the world to create an artwork of their dream car. Last year there were over 662,000 entries from around the world. This year there are some great prizes on offer for Australian entrants- those in the the under 8 category have a chance to win an iPod Touch, 8-11 year old category could an iPad mini and the 12-15 year olds could win an iPad Air.

And the winning entries may be chosen to be set to Japan to enter the Toyota Dream Car Art Competition “World Contest” that is held each year. And it gets better…if those Australian entries are chosen as finalists then that lucky child and their parent/guardian will be flown to Japan for an award ceremony and cultural experience. And who doesn’t love Japan. This was our last trip in 2007 in Shibuya…

Now the best part of this competition, from a mum’s point of view, is that I got a few hours of peace and quiet and had some fun drawing with the kids and taking photos of their dream cars. We discussed our dream cars over a few days and especially when we were in the car doing the school run.

Let’s start with my big boy who decided that we had a really big family – apparently this is our family.

I told him not to be too silly while I took the photo so he decided to do his deadpan face.

Colouring pencils were offered but not necessary and he was busting to get outside on the trampoline. He also needed a bit of a story with his dream car

Now his twin loves colour and her dream car just had to be bright and have her name on the outside. Nothing too fancy when you are 6 and just so long as there was some pink in there.

Now my big girl who is 8 enjoyed this challenge and took it very seriously. Her dream car had a bar at the back with lemonade (lemonade was a running theme in each car design) and nice to see that there is even a coffee there for me (so thoughtful!), a colourful patchwork design on the outside and inside, plenty of room for family and friends, she also wanted a safe robot to drive the car so that mum and dad can sit in the back and look after everyone.

And her favourite technique of shading was put to use for the background. Scissors and a pencil and apparently some of the pencils I’ve been buying aren’t the best for the job. Noted. And did you know that you can paint your entry in the competition if you have some serious artists in the house?

There was also a water feature with some artificial grass around it too. It’s all in the little details isn’t it?

If your little artists would like to put their thinking caps on and pencil (or paintbrush) to paper then here is all you need to know and the entry form. Entries close Friday 13 March 2015 so get moving and have some fun. We picked up a stack of photocopy paper and our pencil tub and got to work.

And you can see last year’s finalists in this fun video that was put together …… makes me want to be a kid again and super talented artist just to get to be a part of it!

Good luck……………………………..in the meantime can we talk about your dream car? Coffee machine? Massage chair?