berry muffins + lemon glaze

Over the holidays I ordered myself a beautiful new cookbook and couldn’t wait to make a recipe from the book. Now the book, A Farmer’s Daughter doesn’t have any photos inside and usually I’m a sucker for the photos but the recipes are the things that you want to make for your family. Wholesome food, a variety of recipes and ingredients but nothing that is too fancy or hard to get. These muffins were the most deliciously perfect muffins and we didn’t even do the crumble topping. I’m imagining the crumble topping takes it to a whole new level. And you’ll get 24 muffins from the mix which is great for big families, freezing for later or serving for a crowd. I’ve changed this recipe for the thermomix instructions and measurements and I know you’ll love them. I had a couple this morning after church and love the lemon glaze.

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berry muffins + lemon glaze
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 24
What you'll need
  • 2 cups (450g) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 cups (400g) SR flour
  • 1½ cups mixed berries (we used frozen)
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. mix together the eggs and sugar until creamy, I did this for 30 seconds, speed 4.
  2. Add in butter, yoghurt and lemon juice. Mix for another 20 seconds, speed 4
  3. Tip in the flour and gently fold in using your spatula. This keeps the muffins very light. So I didn't use the thermomix I used a spatula very gently. Add in the berries and do the same.
  4. Scoop into muffin wrappers (you'll need 24) and bake in a 180C oven for at least 20 minutes until lightly golden on top and cooked inside.
  5. Meanwhile combine the ½ cup icing sugar and juice of 1 lemon and whisk together so you don't have any lumps. Spoon over hot muffins.............and enjoy

 

Meal Plan : Week 4

Well late last week I had a big organic fruit and vegetable box delivered (well it came in 3 boxes) so we’ve been well and truly stocked up on fruit and vegetables. I did an Aldi shop (with all 6 children which was not a pleasant experience but we survived…just) and here is this week’s meal plan! And just a tip in case you haven’t worked out but if you click on the recipe name it will bring up the recipe link if I haven’t included it.

My grocery bill was $132 from Aldi and that includes breakfasts (eggs & bacon [there are 2 dozen eggs in my fridge], raisin toast, vegemite toast), lunches (wraps, gozleme one day, sandwiches, leftovers) and dinners. I usually keep 2-3 loaves of bread in the freezer so we are never without bread. There are a few treats in there (2 bags of lollies, bbq shapes) as one girl goes to camp, a few frozen treats because I’m pregnant (the vanilla slice lasted 2 minutes in our house), 2 desk caddies ($7.50 each for homeschool and our study desk) and some ice blocks because it’s getting to 42 degrees here tomorrow (hot, hot, hot). You’ll notice there is only 1 bottle of milk, we only have milk in our coffee and if someone is having cereal. And we don’t eat a lot of meat. I picked up a few things on special and put them in the freezer last week for when school goes back but usually 2 or 3 packs of meat will do us for the week. Oh and for snacks we have fruit, rice crackers or carrots with hummus or some homemade treats.

I’d love to see a pic of your grocery haul!

The organic fruit and veg box was $99 and came as 3 boxes. Huge. This was large family size but for this week I’ve switched to regular size as I’m having to push through to eat the veggies up. We go through more fruit than veg so I’ll report back on the regular size box. My goal is to have my own veggie garden giving us our fresh veggies but in the meantime am having them delivered as I find it fresher and much cheaper than the supermarket organics.

Day 1

BBQ Sausages, steak, mashed potatoes and salad

Someone in the house got a Weber Q for Christmas so we had it up and running on Sunday night for a delicious bbq. Hot dog rolls and sausages and sauce for the kids and steak, salad and mashed potatoes for the adults. The steak was SO delicious I can’t wait to have it again. We had 3 sausages left over for lunches the next day so I split them in half and put them in bread and 6 children were happy for lunch!

 

Day 2

Silverbeet and feta pie

I have to confess I only eat silverbeet when it arrives in a fruit and veg box but since I have it in the fridge right now….silverbeet pie it is. Season it really well and then I serve with garlic bread for the kids. If silverbeet or spinach isn’t your thing then have these zucchini and feta pancakes which are so delicious and go down well with the little ones.

Day 3

Homemade sausage rolls (double the recipe)

We are going to freeze a big tupperware container/foil tray with sausage rolls for when school goes back. These are delicious cold too and I think will be great in lunchboxes. You can decide whether you will cook them all up now or freeze them uncooked and then cook them later and put in lunchboxes. I have a really fussy eater but he loves the rolls so I figure having them for morning tea or lunch is a bit of variety and at preschool his lunchbox sits in the fridge all day so I’m confident it will stay fresh all day.

Day 4

Chicken in Yoghurt

Best Thermomix recipe ever! Have you made it before? It uses 500g chicken thighs and 500g yoghurt and some herbs, spices, onions etc and you serve it with rice. Very mild and very popular in our house and my children aren’t the best fans of curry.

Day 5

Frittata 

Using the last of our vegie order I did kale, tomato, red onion, zucchini and a carrot which are all finely grated in the thermomix. Then I mix in some fresh (or frozen corn), 12 eggs, small can of tuna and whisk it all together. I season well with salt and pepper and bake in a square lined baking tin. You can top with grated cheese and bake about 25 minutes in a 200 degrees oven. Absolutely delicious and I just didn’t tell anyone that kale was in there.

Day 6

Vegetarian Pasta Bake

500g bag of pasta cooked until al dente. While that is cooking I saute an onion, carrot and zucchini in butter. I finely grate the onion and veggies, season well, add a dash of thermomix vegetable stock, a can of diced tomatoes. I mix the sauce and pasta and pour into a casserole dish then top with a batch of white sauce then grated cheese and I bake until golden and cooked through. You can do this with your bolagnese sauce instead of the vegetable sauce (say 500g mince and bolagnese the way you make it) and then mix in with a large bag of pasta and top with the white sauce and cheese. It also freezes really well uncooked.  I’m using up the last of the veggies before the next delivery arrives.

Day 7

Homemade Pizzas

We love the thermomix dough recipe but you could use hot dog rolls and do pizza subs or pita bread. The kids love hawaiian and I love chilli tuna (when my pregnancy heartburn isn’t playing up) with some veggies and cheese on top. The kids think it’s the best fun and it’s cheap and cheerful.

 

Baking

Pikelets

Double them up and freeze for when school goes back

Rock cakes

Easy and delicious and yes I’m making double and freezing, put them in individual serving bags to be popped into lunchboxes when school goes back (in 2 weeks for us!!!!!!)

Six Sisters Lunchlady Peanut butter bars

Because my girls love this recipe so much and bought a big jar of peanut butter just for the recipe! So I guess we’re making it again this week.

Toffee Apple Cake

We’ve got quite a few apples sitting in the fridge so decided this was a great (and tasty) way to eat them.

 

Meal plan – week 3

I’ve put a few different meals in here to have fun with. Because it’s holidays I like to use the time for baking and dishes that take a little longer. If you’re short on time just swap an easy meal in there or save those meals for weekends and home days

Day 1

Chops and Potato Casserole

2 trays of lamb chops from Aldi and a potato bake. Delicious. For the potato bake I pulled out my mandoline which I haven’t even used since we moved into this house! And did about 5-6 potatoes thinly sliced, 1 onion, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, a 250g tub of sour cream (yes, this is not a recipe for dieters or clean eaters) and baked in the oven until it was cooked. Most of the time it was covered and then I uncovered at the end. The lamb chops I bake in the oven with a bit of butter, herbs and salt and pepper until just done. Everyone loved this meal. If you’re on a health kick or it’s super hot just have chops and salad. There are lots of potato bake recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, I still think my mum’s dish from the 80’s was the best!

Day 2

Tuna Nicoise salad (wraps for the non salad eaters)

Day 3

Zucchini slice, salad and garlic bread

hot out of the oven

Day 4

BLT spaghetti

Still a family favourite here!

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Day 5

Homemade meatloaf and creamy mashed potatoes.

Can you tell I’m in comfort eating mode! Yes! This was so delicious and tasty and the homemade glaze made it so delicious. There are some great meatloaf recipes out there. I love Pioneer Woman’s when I have a bit more time and this is a great one. I used porridge oats instead of crackers. This is also a great one on Taste.

Day 5

Smoked Salmon Salad (or rice bowls for the non salad eaters)

Very easy one. Smoked salmon, spinach and rocket leaves, sliced avocado and a nice dressing. For my kids I boil some sushi rice and the have the smoked salmon and avo with tamari (or soy sauce) on top. Keeps everyone happy. Also nice with a miso soup too.

Day 6

Wareniki (Perogis), corn and beans

I blogged this earlier this week. I decided to try something different after seeing a photo on instagram. These are delicious. You make the dough from scratch and we used the mince and sauerkraut filling. To die for. Serve with whatever sides you like. We had corn, salad and sauerkraut. You won’t regret making these. If you have a favourite perogi recipe then just use that one. Really nice and the kids loved it.

Day 7

Chicken wraps

We use the leftover salad and wraps from earlier in the week and teamed it up with a hot chicken. Nice and easy for a busy day or when it’s too hot to use the oven or stove in the kitchen and we have one of those days this week with 40 degrees expected out our way.

 

Baking

Sultana Cake

A good old CWA recipe that never disappoints

Jam slice

I wanted to take a plate to a baptism after church and this was perfect. Another CWA recipe.

I also made Thermomix sorbet two nights from frozen raspberries and everyone loved it. I had mine minus the egg white as I’m pregnant and then added the egg white for the rest of the family.

 

starting our veggie garden

When you first move to acreage or get a garden your mind tends to think about growing your own vegetables. And chickens. And we’ve done neither since moving to acreage. So I decided that this weekend was it. We were lucky enough to have the garden beds already there next to our fruit trees. All that was needed was some hard yakka to turn over the soil, mix in some compost and get plants in the ground. I did do some watering and planting.

We have started with strawberries, zucchini, tomato, celery, rhubarb, silverbeet and lettuce. And we’ve decided just to start with one of the garden beds for the month to see how we go and then move on to the next garden bed. Then when the weather gets cooler we can use the other beds. We had lots of little helpers only too eager to help and get their hands dirty and hopefully that continues when I need help.

I found some good resources here, here and here and also have a couple of books and decided that starting small and with a few easy to grow things was the best way to go. This book is a good one if you are looking to grow your own food and its not limited to fruit and veg but includes meat, grains, nuts, bees and a lot more. A really great book if you want to get started. There are also loads of pins on pinterest with good advice.

And I look forward to sharing progress photos with you!

wareniki are delicious

There is something so satisfying about making a new dish from scratch and everyone loving it. I especially love making pastry and trying something new. I’ve made perogi before with puff pastry but this was something different and so perfect for a Sunday night dinner after a busy afternoon starting our vegetable garden (finally!). Oh and in the interest of full disclosure I had 4 1/2 and not the 2 pictured here. They are that good.

Somehow I found a picture on instagram of a delicious dinner plate that had Wareniki, I found a recipe here, added it to my meal plan and stocked up on all the ingredients. And this is such a great recipe because I followed it and they turned out beautifully. You can’t always guarantee that with recipes and especially if pastry is involved but this one was a winner. And on Facebook some of you were telling me the different combinations you have at your house.

So what are they? Well basically a dumpling that you boil and serve with a sour cream sauce. We chose the mince, potato and sauerkraut filling and served ours with some salad leaves, hot corn and sauerkraut.

And my top tip if you are going to give them a whirl is to make them in the early afternoon, pop them in the fridge and then cook them up at dinner time. It takes much less preparation when it comes to dinner time which is always a crazy time in my house.

Have you had them before?

two quilts finished

I usually like to use these Christmas holidays to get some time in my sewing room. And these holidays I’ve finished two quilts so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Both quilts are from Simply Retro by Camille Roskelley and I haven’t bought a quilt book in ages but this one I bought when I was lucky enough to do a workshop when the lovely Camille came to Australia. This is the baby blocks pattern from the book.

I’m not that great with triangles and points so I’m not 100% happy with this quilt but I gave it a good go and it looks lovely all finished. It uses a charm square and white fabric and doesn’t take too long to put together. I’ll definitely make another one because it’s such a sweet baby quilt and just the right size. I think it would look great in navy and green for a boy.

I used Handmade by Bonnie & Camille, white quilters muslin for the white and on the back used another Bonnie & Camille fabric. And yep the binding too is Bonnie & Camille. I just love using their fabrics as they are bright and pretty and I love the colours so much. It was very sunny when we photographed these so you can see right through them but in normal light you can’t.

The second quilt is called Swell and also from Simply Retro. This one involved a lot of cutting, a lot! So I did the cutting in 2 sessions and put the blocks together whenever I got some time in my sewing room. Next time I’ll use a jelly roll but I loved picking some of my favourite fabrics from the stash. It’s a very simple 12 inch block and so much fun to put together. I just used 9 blocks to make this quilt but you can make more (in fact the pattern has more but I thought 9 was looking good for a baby quilt.

You then add a white border and then another border and it was a great excuse to use some new fabric I had from the Farm Fun range by Stacy Iest Hsu. It’s such a bright and fun floral and made the quilt so girly and pretty. Just how I like my quilts. I quilted this on one rainy day with breaks to change nappies, make snacks and check on little ones.

They were having a great time trashing the playroom and it didn’t take too long to quilt. The binding I did the next day and hand stitched to the back of the quilt in a few sessions.

For the back of the quilt I used a big floral design from Handmade by Bonnie & Camille which is in a mint green and suited the quilt perfectly. Because the quilt was so wide I had to cut 2 long pieces of fabric and sew them together for the back. The batting in both quilts is 100% cotton which I’ve been buying from Craft Depot at a good price.

And now my girls are asking me for pj shorts so I’ll be taking a break from quilts for a little while and whipping them up some pj shorts and hopefully getting back to some knitting. My 19 week scan is on friday and we’ll know if we are having a girl or boy. I’m saying girl because I’ve put on so much weight but time will tell. Either way I’m thrilled and looking forward to making a few little things in pink or blue.

 

meal planning – week 2

Well we still have one month of school holidays ahead of us so I’ve been sitting down working out a few weeks worth of meal plans. You’ll note I put whether they are vegetarian or gluten free or if there is an option to change the recipe. We eat quite a lot of veggie recipes in the family so I hope you enjoy them. You can always pick something else if your family aren’t huge fans.

Day 1

Quesadillas (V option) 

Choose between ham and pineapple or spinach and feta quesadillas. Or make both. Super popular with the kids and really delicious.

Day 2

Quinoa Salad (V, GF)

If salad isn’t enough for your dinner and you’re not vegetarian then team it up with a large can of tuna or some sausages or a hot chicken from the shops. If you have a thermomix then cook the quinoa just as you would for rice. 20 minutes/Varoma/Speed 4. This is so delicious and fresh. Also great with leftover roasted vegetables.

yum

Day 3

Poached chicken (GF, GAPS, PALEO)

You will freeze the stock (I get at least 2 large jars of chicken stock) which is great for risottos and soups. I use the recipe for meat stock with 1 large chicken. This is a really healthy ‘feel good dinner’. Your kids might like just the chicken and vegetables minus the stock but I love a bowl with chicken, veg and stock. I also add zucchini to the last hour of cooking.

Day 4 

Cobb Salad (GF)

For the non salad lovers in your house just buy some wraps and let them pick the ingredients they like for a blt wrap. My kids love making wraps from this recipe.

 

Day 5

Chicken/Beef lasagne and green salad (GF option)

I suggest you double the recipe and freeze one lasagne uncooked in an alfoil container for a dinner when school goes back.

Day 6

Tuna macaroni (GF option)

This is a kids dinner, I love it too but my hubby does not. For someone in your house who doesn’t love tuna macaroni then a nice tuna salad or tuna salad wrap is a great alternative. For a gluten free version use a good quality GF pasta and GF flour in the cheese sauce.

 

Day 7

Sweet potato & feta frittata and garlic bread (V) 

I’ve been making this recipe for so long and it’s great hot or cold. So easy and delicious and I just keep extra garlic bread in the freezer when I need it. The kids love it too. If you’ve got salad ingredients make a nice green salad to go with it.

Baking

Best Ever Banana Bread

 

Six Sisters Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

Oh these are so good. We made them this week and they make a huge dish. I sliced it up the next day, filled 3 lunchboxes with them (froze 1) and they still didn’t last long. Really nice when you need a 3pm pick up with a cup of coffee or tea.

 

meal planning – week 1

With Christmas Day behind us and a New Year coming up this Sunday, I’ve decided to get serious about my meal planning. When I’m not busy then I meal plan for the week but when things are busy, end of year or kids are sick it all falls away. My hope for next year because we have a very busy year and a baby coming in May is to get organised! Here is what we are eating this week, I flicked through a few books and included a few of our favourites.

We generally have a mixture of vegetarian and meat dishes and try to bake once or twice a week for snacks and dessert. I also do some cooking for a local group that provides meals to families in crisis, and I’ll generally double up a recipe and freeze half and take over to the group freezer later on. You can do this for your own freezer or when you have a friend who is having a rough time can drop over a meal that day. It’s so handy and things like uncooked lasagne, bolagnese sauce, meatballs etc freeze really well and you just add garlic bread, salad and a dessert and have a complete meal ready to give.

Day 1

Homemade sausage rolls & Coleslaw

We made a batch of the Veggie Packed sausage rolls from the MamaBake cookbook (a great buy full of recipes) but you can find similar sausage roll recipes here, here and here

For a gluten free recipe use gluten free puff pastry which you can find in your freezer section of a big supermarket/health food store and make sure you have enough egg to bind the filling and leave out breadcrumbs if the recipe calls for it. Also check ingredients on sauce bottles to ensure they are gluten free. For a vegetarian roll recipe try these delicious ones which we all love.

I buy a coleslaw bag from the shops because it’s easy but I also love this carrot salad in the thermomix. Super delicious!

Day 2

Vegetable and feta risotto (V) 

We love risotto in the thermomix and I add grated zucchini, carrot and celery and cook for the whole time and then add feta to my thermoserve and leave for a few minutes. Danish feta is the best as its very creamy

Day 3

Tacos/or Bean nachos (V)

My kids love making their own tacos. I saute one onion, add in 500g mince and make my own flavouring. I use smoked paprika, vegetable stock (from my thermomix), salt, pepper and some garlic & herb seasoning and diced tomato. So delicious. We serve ours with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa, sliced tomato, mashed avocado and sour cream. For vegetarian tacos just replace the mince with kidney beans and smash them with the back of a fork as you cook them. Alternatively these bean nachos are always a hit with the kids and great for summer holidays.

 

Day 4

Chicken and salad wraps

We are in the middle of summer and holidays. Grab a hot chicken during the day and keep in fridge for rest of day. At dinner time pull out leftover salad from taco night, shred the chicken and serve together or in wraps.

Day 5

Porcupine Meatballs

A favourite of the little ones and my husband. I like mine with salad and they love mashed potato or rice. Super easy and this is a great one to freeze as well.

Day 6

Homemade pizzas (V option)

We use the dough made in the thermomix (you can make your own dough or buy pizza bases or pita bread) and we top with tomato paste, ham, pineapple or canned tuna, olives, capsicum, fresh tomato and lots of grated cheese on top. Kids make their own and it’s an activity and dinner rolled into one. For vegetarian pizzas go for marinated or fresh vegetables and a good cheese.

Day 7

Chicken pie

Great for Sunday night. Serve with salad and garlic bread. We make 2 pies and any leftovers don’t last long. If you have lots of time and love a good old fashioned chicken pot pie then try Pioneer Woman’s with the homemade pie crust. Absolutely delicious!

so good

Baking

120 cookies in the thermomix

I use raw sugar which isn’t as sweet as white or caster so adjust the sugar if you are using white sugar and do 1/2 cup because the sweetened condensed milk is sweet. Some people like a really sweet sugar cookie but I find one cup of raw sugar works nicely. It’s up to you…I like sweet!

in the oven

Pineapple fruit cake

This is to use up the last of the Christmas fruit mix in my pantry

Cherry Clafoutis

You can use up whatever nice fruit you have at your house but I love having a jar of cherries in the pantry to whip up this delicious dessert. It looks much fancier than it is to cook!

cherry clafoutis

If you’re stuck in a dinner rut then I hope that gives you a bit of inspiration. I often find myself in a rut especially over the holidays but did one big shop and am all stocked up for these delicious dinners.

wishing you a happy + holy Christmas

It’s nearly time for Christmas and this year I’ve been so aware of how much suffering has been going on around us. Just in the week leading up to Christmas there has been so much sadness in our community. Funerals for mums who have sadly lost their lives, twin toddlers who drowned and are in a critical condition in hospital, the body of a missing man found in his car after he took his own life, families facing eviction and struggling to buy groceries let alone have a special meal at Christmas. You realise how fortunate you are and it’s such a cliche but to have our health, our family, a job and a roof over our heads. We all just take it for granted.

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I recently heard this quote from our school principal and committed it to memory. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said ‘It’s Christmas every time you let God love others through you’. This Christmas we did a few things for other people to spread the Christmas love. I try to do something new every Christmas and the giving is definitely better than receiving. This year I took my kids with me in the car so they could be a part of it and know that Christmas isn’t just about presents for them.

Pope Francis said last year ‘Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity….God’s love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s Kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism” (Pope Francis’ Address to Families in the Philippines). Mums, don’t forget just how much good work you do within your home without even thinking about it. So much of what we do is love! The rest of the world doesn’t see all the little things we do but we truly are doing the most important work in the world. I look at my beautiful kids and know that the choices I made this year for them were the right ones and I’m excited to see what happens in 2017.

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I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and holy Christmas. Children make Christmas so much fun and we had a beautiful Christmas Mass with 2 little angels and 1 shepherd in our family and a Chinese dinner afterwards during a big thunderstorm. May there be lots of laughter, magic and memories made at your house tomorrow. And if it’s a hard time of the year for you then I hope that your burden is less for just one day.

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yes, baby on board!

Yesterday I shared our exciting news that baby number 7 is on the way! I’ve been keeping it quiet for a little and will be 16 weeks tomorrow. The pregnancy is going really well but I had 2 scares early on which were a bit stressful and have made me very cautious. But since then everything has been going really well……..

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I’m huge (because I guess my body knows what to do and is working ahead of time), I’m tired (falling asleep on the couch by 9pm most nights and you cannot wake me up at all, so I often wake up and take myself to bed and I know that hubby has tried all he can to wake me up and encourage me upstairs) and I’m always thirsty (lots of big glasses of water and fruit cup cordial – don’t ask me why fruit cup but it’s got to be fruit cup).

Thank you so much for all of your kind words and congratulations. And yes….we need a new van! We made our 7 seater an 8 seater but now we’ll need a 9 seater to fit us all in.

cute little christmas coasters

I had so much fun putting these cute little coasters together. I enjoyed the quiet time on the couch doing the paper piecing and then put them together at my machine.

It also turned out to be a great excuse to cut into some fabrics I’ve been a bit too precious about.

I hope you enjoy making these………..still time…….if you hurry! Of course you don’t have to use Christmas fabrics and they’d be a great project all year round!

my first time at MoleMap

Now this isn’t sponsored and I wasn’t asked to write this post. But a few weeks ago I discovered MoleMap and knew I had to get one done. Well I thought about it for a few days as it wouldn’t be cheap. In fact the cost sounds like a lot of money (because it is at $449). But once I thought about how much I’ve spent at the dentist or on ultrasounds or every time we visit the paediatrician then having a once a year check for that price and peace of mind reassured me that I should try it for my annual skin check.

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image source 

Melanoma is always on my mind because my mum lost her life to it. We didn’t know how deadly it was until it affected our mum and unfortunately it was misdiagnosed twice by her GP at skin checks. So as much as I love my family Dr (and we’ve got a wonderful one where we live) I do go to a clinic or dermatologist for my own skin cancer checks and so does the rest of my family.

So today I had my MoleMap done and it was honestly the most thorough and in depth skin check I’ve ever had. I’ve actually been getting my skin checked at a skin cancer clinic on the northern beaches since my mid 20’s before I knew that my mum would get melanoma. And my risk factors are quite high having family history, lots of moles, a couple of bad sunburns and fair skin. The reason I found MoleMap is that since I’ve moved I found a new skin cancer clinic but I found my last skin check in February to be a bit brief. He was very quick and didn’t take any photos whereas at my last clinic they would compare a few moles on my arms and chest to the photos they had on file. So I was on the lookout for something more in depth where they would take photos of my moles for comparison next time.

How MoleMap works is that they take photos of your entire body in a number of poses. This was the bit I was least looking forward to as I’m carrying a bit of extra weight at the moment. You have to  strip down to just your undies, you do have a gown for a bit of decency before and after the photos, and they put a few stamps all over your body which are like reference points for later. The photos don’t take too long and there were some interesting ones with a knee bent and legs apart and one finger resting on my back and then head down with arms crossed to get a good one of the shoulders and so on.

After that was done you sit down (thankfully with the gown on!) and it’s time for the skin check. The nurse started with my hands and arms and any moles (they call them lesions) that meet the criteria to be photographed will be photographed with a different camera. Two photos are taken, one with the naked eye and one up close. I have a lot of moles so by the end of the whole body skin check we were at over 65 moles that had been photographed (so that’s over 130 photos of those moles/lesions) and will be sent to the dermatologist for review. I have more than 65 moles all up but these were the ones that might have been a bit too dark, had uneven edges and so on. Now that doesn’t mean I have 65 dodgy moles that I really need to worry about. Some of them to me looked like tiny freckles but they were generally too dark, edges were uneven or they met other criteria.

As the photos are taken they are added to the particular location on the first photos that were taken of your whole body. So it’s very accurate and if there is anything suspicious about that spot they’ll be able to identify exactly where it is on the photo of your arm/leg etc. It also means when I go back for my annual review they’ll be able to note any new moles/lesions.

The whole process should take 60 minutes but I had quite a lot of moles to be checked so I came in at 90 minutes all up. A report will be sent to me once the dermatologist has looked at my photos and I also have access to my photos if I need to compare any changes or if anything worries me over the next 12 months.

Verdict? I was so happy with how it went. The nurse was so sweet and nice and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Which is saying something because I’m not a fan of wearing swimmers let alone undies for a series of photographs! I have a great sense of peace of mind that I’m doing the best for my skin checks and of all the skin checks I’ve had over the years I’m so happy that I’ve found something that has photographed every bit of my skin. If I need a spot check done in the next 12 months I can have that done at no cost and I’ll definitely be going back in 12 months for another full body check.

So I recommend MoleMap to anyone who feels they need to have a thorough check or has the risk factors like I do. Plus the city location meant I got a chance to go to kinokuniya and one of my favourite japanese places for lunch.

school is out for the year!

Yes we have officially finished at our two schools and our homeschool too. We survived the year. And what a year it’s been. We had one in year 5, one in kindy and my twins who left school to be homeschooled for year 2.

Homeschooling………..not for the faint hearted but so worthwhile. If I’ve learnt anything (and I hope other people will be reassured) it’s that we can take control of our children’s education and provide them with a proper and meaningful education. I think people feel that they have no option. If they have a child who is unhappy at school then they either have to stay where they are and suffer for it or they need to find a new school. Children who struggle or aren’t challenged or have friendship issues. We let them suffer when really we could be teaching them at home and there are so many options. You can sign up to a distance education provider who will provide all materials or you can purchase a curriculum and then buy the books or you can make your own using a mixture of books that your children might be using at school and use a range of texts and resources. And the opportunities to socialise….well there are so many. In fact we didn’t have time to go to local meet ups during the week because we were so busy anyway. Next year will be different but you will be so surprised to find out how many homeschoolers are near you.

I’ve definitely learned that we can be flexible and if any of my children need to come home for school then they can. I don’t think I’m ready to take on the responsibility of teaching all of my children and I have some that just love school, but it’s definitely given me the confidence to do it and keep doing it.

Next year I have one boy going back to school which he would like to do. A spot has opened up at our parish school and he would like to try that. His sister would like to stay home. I have one little boy starting preschool 3 days a week and he is so excited about that (his little brother won’t know what to do with himself with his ‘twin’ gone). One girl goes into year 1 and we are so excited to see how much progress she makes after a year of amazing progress that has left everyone stunned at just how far she has come. We now talk in sentences and after years and years of speech that didn’t seem to be going anywhere we have a very talkative and determined girl. Look at her with her precious teacher and teacher’s aide. Such dedicated and devoted people who love each and every child so much. It was so hard to say goodbye to them and just when I thought I had cried enough with the school year finishing……I opened a card in her bag and there was a dvd of all of the photos of their year to music. Photos were broken down into each term. I needed a tissue to get through that one!

And my big girl will have her last year of primary school. She loves everything about school and has represented her school in debating and choir and is everyone’s friend. We are so proud of her and she’s in her school musical next year, taking up rhythmic gymnastics and returning to swimming again and just needs to work on her maths! Pretty funny since she’s the daughter of 2 accountants. Oh and if she could keep her room clean too. That would be great.

And that’s our year. It’s been such a great one and not what I expected since homeschooling wasn’t on the cards but I’m so happy with how it’s gone and I’m so excited for the year ahead. I hope you’ve all had a great year and that you are getting a well deserved rest! Well after the Christmas rush anyway. I’ve already cut out a whole quilt as my holiday quilting project and have a kina for a 1 year old on the go as well.

And if you ever have any questions about homeschooling please email me. Always happy to answer them.

a bit more fabric added just before Christmas

I had an unexpected box of fabric arrive on Friday. And I am just loving and itching to cut into Just Another Walk in the Woods by Stacy Iest Hsu. The panel is similar to Lil Red and you can make two sweet dolls, two animals, a little quilt and a pillow. I’m throwing in the toy stuffing too in your parcel so be quick. 2 sold that night.

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And I have it in charm packs as well as two brand new ranges called Caravan Roundup (also in mini charm squares) and Mixed Bag (a great neutral one for boys or girls)

Christmas craft project for your Christmas tree

Yes there has been a little bit of craft. I created two Christmas projects for Brother and decided a bit of paper piecing was just perfect for this busy time of year. A great excuse to put your feet up and do a bit of stitching on the couch first before taking it to your machine.

I had grand plans to make a few of these but ended up with one. I also have the 6 point star which would also look gorgeous. You can find the complete instructions with lots of photos here. Any questions just ask…………….