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High-Fibre Muesli Bars

I have a new baby nephew!  He’s very cute (as babies tend to be) and everyone is besotted and spending a lot of time gazing at him, taking photos, and generally coo-ing in his direction.  What is it about babies that makes everyone go a bit nutty?

In trying to help out my brother’s family, I baked a few meals to pop in the freezer and a few little treats to go in school lunchboxes, for bub’s four older siblings.  One such treat included these muesli bars (granola bars if you’re in the U.S.) that I modified from a recipe found at  http://superhealthykids.com/.  I have to confess, I made the munchkins a batch and then, unwisely, made myself some.  I am not good at stopping at one treat – I will generally convince myself that I can have just one more, and just one more…and so on.  I am a bit binge-y these days.  I am consuming my emotions in vast quantities.  Which translates to having no willpower whatsoever and basically just shoving food into my face, regardless of how large my thighs are getting or whether I can do up my pants.

At any rate, these muesli bars are quite delicious and super simple to make.  I was looking for something I could give the kids that was nut-free (because their school has a ban on foods containing nuts due to the rise in allergies) and this fit the bill.  Coconut is not a true nut (it’s considered a fruit, technically) so isn’t on the banned list (but do check to see if it’s ok with your school and allergy-prone kiddiwinks).  You should also check to see that the seeds used are not from a plant which also processes nuts.

I added flax meal to the original recipe to incorporate some extra fibre.  You could easily add some chopped dried fruit, dessicated coconut etc.   Choc chips would be nice too 🙂

 

Ingredients
  • 2 cup – quick oats, dry
  • 2/3 cup – raw caster sugar
  • 1 cup – flour, wholemeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon – bicarb soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon – baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon – cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon – salt
  • 1 teaspoon – vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup – honey
  • 2 tablespoon – coconut oil, melted if it has turned solid
  • 1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup – pumpkin seed kernels
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients and press into rectangular pan, (mine was 32cm x 23cm) lined with baking paper. The mixture will be really dry, kinda like crumble mixture.  That’s ok – that’s how it should be.  Trust me.
  2. Press mixture right to edges of pan.  Flatten with a fork.
  3. Bake at 160 degrees celsius for 20 minutes or until edges are browned. Take out and before it cools, score lightly into bars (mine made 15).  This makes it MUCH easier to break them into bars later.  Otherwise you just have a crumbly bunch of, well, crumbs, everywhere.
  4. Once completely cool, break or cut into bars and store them in an airtight container.

Ta-da!  Easy-peasy.

Superhealthykids.com has lots of simple, tasty, healthy recipes to try.  Check them out!

Thanks for dropping by.  Have an awesome week 🙂

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Ready To Rock (Cat Collage Card)

I don’t know about you, but I am very rarely primed and ready to do anything, let alone rock.  I follow more of a resigned and begrudging style of embracing life, to be honest.  Not so my nieces and nephews.  I have been spending a lot of time with them lately, and one of their favourite things to do is craft.  Whether it be colouring in or drawing, making collages or cards, or a combination of all four, they really love being creative.  Which is a bit of a relief.  What if they were super sporty or into playing computer games? *shudders*

A couple of weekends ago, we had a few happy hours of card-making and magazine-scrap collage-making.  Good fun.  The kids are so good at it because they just CREATE.  They don’t think too much or worry about anything other than putting paper and glue together in a design them pleases them.  Bliss.

Anyway, as all good Aunties must, I had to participate in the activity – just being a casual bystander was not going to be acceptable.  Can’t say I minded – what better way to spend a few hours than with little people I love, doing something I love almost as much.

So, this funny little cat card was one of my completed pieces.  Made from scraps of scrapbooking paper, corrugated card and pieces cut from magazines, it came together pretty quickly.  The hardest part was finding the “rock” text (which, of course, I could have just cut out from individual letters).

I like the cat’s saggy little belly and his general attitude.  Who doesn’t love a tabby in a party hat?  All he is missing is some cheese on a stick and he’s good to go 🙂

Hope you are primed and ready, to do whatever you need to do today –
thank you for reading x

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Blogging Challenge – Day Twelve : Favourite Childhood Book

Howdy folks.  Yes, I am skipping challenges on the Blogging Challenge.  Just pretend you haven’t noticed ok?

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I was a big reader as a child.  From the age of six onwards, I always had my head stuck in a book.  I was the annoying kid in class who always finished the assigned reading way before schedule and had to be given other books to read while everyone else caught up.  Yeah, THAT kid.  I was like it in high school too.  It’s very possible I was the only one who actually READ the books we were assigned.  But I enjoyed them – everything from
Catch-22 to 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm.  I loved them all.

My Mum always read to us when we were little and I suppose that’s why we always enjoyed books in general.  As a child, I loved stories with animals in them, but didn’t like anything scary or dark.  I remember one book I read gave me nightmares and actually made me physically ill so my Mum had to go to the school and asked for it to be removed from the library.  I don’t remember what it was called, but it was a book of so-called fairy tales, and it had one story in it where a witch rips the faces off pretty young girls so she could disguise herself as them and get up to mischief.  Kinda gross.   A less sensitive kid might not have been bothered by it, but it frightened me and my Mum took action ha ha.

I know I had a book about a dog called Barney, that my Mum used to read to me (until it fell to pieces) but I haven’t been able to find it since.  Another favourite was “The Golden Egg Book” by Margaret Wise Brown.  It too fell to pieces from being read to death.

When I was a bit older, I read voraciously on my own.  Enid Blyton was an early favourite, particularly the “Magic Faraway Tree” and “The Secret Seven” (my Mum won a set of these in an art competition when she was ten years old – I have them now 🙂 ).  I still secretly read Enid Blyton books, when I am needing some comfort or just to take some time out.  There’s a been a bit of a backlash about them in recent years, with regard to them not being very politically correct, but I love them.

Of course, Judy Blume was a HUGE favourite as I entered into that tricky pre-teen period.  My best friend and I loved her books and read all of them.  “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret,” was probably devoured by more 10-12 year olds in the 80s than just about any other book ever written.

I also loved Ursula K. Le Guin and Paul Gallico, Beverly Cleary and Diana Wynne Jones.  I read all the classics – “Charlotte’s Web”, “Watership Down” (a little bit adult for me but I trudged through it when I was seven, not really understanding all of it I’m sure) and “Little Women”.

I read non-fiction too.  Mostly about animals and magic and art.  I Loved poetry and silly rhymes, and books about mysteries and fascinating facts.

I have a favourite children’s book now though.  It was given to me by a friend when I was in my twenties, and I dearly love it.  I would give it to my own children, if I had any, and have actually given it as a gift to friends and family (both children and adults).  My favourite children’s book is “A Little Bit of Winter” by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.  It’s just GORGEOUS.  The story of Rabbit and Hedgehog, best friends in the wood.  It’s Winter and Hedgehog has to go and hibernate.  Rabbit is worried that Hedgehog will forget about him during the long, cold months that Hedgehog is asleep.  Hedgehog himself does not know what Winter feels like and so they are both missing out on something.  It’s a story about friendship, mostly, but it is SO ADORABLE and the illustrations are the best.  I love it.  I have to do the voices when I read it, which is quite sad, but it’s just so darn cute.  There are other books in this series, but this one is my favourite.

Do you have a beloved children’s book that is dear to your heart?  There’s so many great ones out there, new and old, modern and classic.  Don’t let the kids have all the fun – try a few titles for yourself.  They’re comforting and calming and make you feel better about the world.  And, if you do have children of your own, get them in to reading early – it’s SO important.  My brother’s children all love to read and it makes my librarian heart proud. I’d be proud of them, whatever they did, but the fact that they love books and often can be found with their little heads buried in one is just icing on the cake.

Happy Reading Everyone x

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(Picture : The Book Depository)

Little Peeps & Helpers

Little Peeps & Helpers

A busy couple of days for me on the weekend.  My car window decided to die (ie wouldn’t go up or down) on Friday night, meaning I had to get it fixed somehow on Saturday.  Which, in turn, meant a very expensive call-out fee for a mobile mechanic and an equally expensive part that I’m sure was worth much less than what I was quoted.  But it was a Saturday and I couldn’t leave my car unsecured all weekend, plus we were due for a thunderstorm that night, so I had to pay the big bucks and get it fixed then and there.  I hate dealing with car stuff – it stresses me out.  How do you know if you’re being ripped off and, even if you are, what can you do about it when you need the thing fixed right away on a weekend?  I even looked up on Youtube how to repair a car window regulator cable yourself, but decided that was fraught with danger and the possibility of me having a tantrum and ending up with a broken door panel as well as a broken window cable.

Waiting around for the mechanic and the repairs took up half of my day.  I then had to go and get my groceries (I had NO food in the house, literally) and do some laundry.  I really wanted to get some crafting done, so I got stuck in to my little Christmas people that I had started last weekend.  I made a handful of them, ready to assemble on to cards.

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I managed to get one card finished, with this little lady in blue :

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On Sunday, it was my niece’s 2nd birthday, so we attended her birthday party in the park.  It was a lovely morning – there was a gorgeous cool breeze (a relief after the heat of the day before when it was RIDICULOUSLY hot for Spring, reaching 40 degrees) and plenty of shade.  Lots of kids running around, having fun with sack races, water-balloon fights and a piñata.  Miss Two was rather bemused by it all, but very well-behaved.  I sat with her while she ate her piece of delicious birthday cake, very lady-like with her little fork and paper plate.  Adorable.  I spent most of the morning carrying her around and, although she is a tiny little thing, she weighs a ton ha ha.  My arm today is about to drop off.  But there were lots of ant nests and I couldn’t really let her just toddle around on the ground, in case she got bitten.

Afterwards, I had to take my Mum grocery shopping.  It just so happens that her local shops are close to an amazing papercraft shop, Scrapbook Secrets, so I took the opportunity to buy a few bits and pieces from there.  Not too many, as I had just shelled out for my car repairs, but enough pretty papers and embellishments to help me finish off some more cards for Christmas.

I made one more card last night – not sure if I am happy with it, but I guess it is quite cute.  I do rather like my little Christmas people – and I am pleased I have been able to use something that is my own design, for the most part.  I must have drawn a hundred little faces and hands by now, but colouring them in and cutting them out is quite therapeutic, if not fiddly and hand-ache-making!  I wish I could do eyes properly, but for now they will all have to have closed eyes.  It makes them look peaceful, anyway, and I suppose that’s what you want at Christmas time!

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Such a dreadful week, internationally, with the bombings and terror attacks in Paris, Lebanon and Syria, as well as other disasters like earthquakes, fires and floods.  Such scary times we are living in – so many people living in terror and fear for their lives, and the lives of their loved ones.  The Paris attacks this weekend got the most attention, and indeed I found myself tearing up over the lives lost and the horrific actions of the perpetrators.  It is impossible to make sense of these things, or to understand what is going through someone’s head when they decide to commit these crimes.  I’m not going to go into the politics of it all – I’m not qualified to do so – I just know it is human beings hurting other human beings.

There’s a quote from Fred Rogers circulating at the moment which encourages us to remember that there is still good in the world, still people who want to help and do the right thing.  I am trying to take some comfort in it and know that, for the most part, human beings are good and kind-hearted, with no desire to hurt anyone.  I like to think that’s true, anyway.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Cards & Kids

Cards & Kids

A busy weekend this week.  A public holiday today (due to it being Labour Day here in Western Australia) so it was a long weekend.  Never long enough in my opinion but unless I become Prime Minister (which is fairly unlikely at this point in time), there’s not much I can do to change that!  Yesterday my Mum and I babysat my four nephews and nieces as my brother and sister-in-law had a wedding to attend.  My poor brother had had a fall earlier in the day, badly bruising his ribs, neck and leg so we were a bit worried he might need to visit the hospital – but he is ok (just very sore and battered).

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(This is Nanna by Miss Four-and-a-half)

I love the the little rugrats.  They are full on and energetic, feisty and so, so smart (too smart for their own good sometimes) but I love them dearly.  We did some drawing and colouring-in, played a makeshift game of tennis (which ended badly with Master Six getting hit in the head with a racquet), rode bikes furiously around the backyard (in a game I like to call “Let’s See How Much We Can Make Auntie Panic and Cover Her Eyes a Lot” ) and watched some DVDs.  And Ate.  A lot.  You cannot fill those little bellies up.  Which is preferable to them not eating at all but, still, it is a never-ending job.  Little Miss A (who is now walking and developing her personality and adventurous spirit) was an absolute delight, happily going off to have not one, but two, naps throughout the day, eating all her lunch and afternoon snack and playing peacefully with Nanna, with never a tear or upset over anything. I love spending time with them all.  Giving them back at the end of the day is a relief though.  I don’t know how their Mum does it all day, every day.  I’d be exhausted.  As it is, my back is killing me from carrying Miss Four-and-a-Half around.  She’s too old to be carried and I know I shouldn’t pick her up, but when that little face is asking for a cuddle, how can you refuse?  The cuddly/carry-me stage is over so quickly, I put up with any subsequent pain that results!

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Today, attempting to ignore my bad back, I crafted for most of the day, making cards.  I have put my name down to have a stall at a local arts and craft market and I only have a couple of months to get things made.  I want to have a range of things so there’s lots for people to look at.  I was given a big box of craft goodies from the children’s Mum last night – with four kids on the go, she doesn’t get time to craft as much as she would like so, instead of wasting her supplies, she gave much of it to me!  yay!  I used one of the rubber stamps today to make these cards:

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I also finished off a few I had already started – just simple little “girly” cards with simple embellishments and colour combinations.  I am trying to get quicker at making cards – I am so slow!  It takes me forever to find the right button or piece of ribbon.  I agonise over the tiniest detail – it’s crazy.  But I finished a few off today that I am reasonably happy with:

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Now the weekend is done.  I am hoping my back will be better tomorrow and that I have a stress-free day (stress is the WORST thing for my back and neck) at work.  I need to go walking in the afternoon – I’ve been so slack lately and am eating way too much comfort food – and I should take advantage of the good weather while we have it.

Hope your weekend has been sunny, inside and out 🙂

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(Got this cute cushion from my brother and sister-in-law as a belated birthday gift.  So sweet and cheery!)

Tidings of Family Joy

Tidings of Family Joy

So, Christmas is over, technically.  The tree is bereft of gifts and the turkey is nothing but a carcass being picked apart for sandwiches and stock (unless you’re vegetarian, like me, in which case you’re probably so glad right now you don’t have to deal with a turkey/chicken skeleton in your fridge).  The rush to get cards written and sent has passed and now it’s time to ponder the cards you did get (and why you didn’t get as many as last year or why so-and-so didn’t send you one this year) and try to figure out where to put all the presents you received (if you’re lucky).

I had a lovely Christmas.  I was going to have a really quiet one, away from family and basically mope around and be miserable with myself.  My Mum was going to be co-conspirator in this – she wanted to do whatever would make me happy and figured if I wanted to boycott the family Christmas, then so be it, she’d help me and keep me company so I wasn’t completely on my own.  A couple of family members weren’t happy about this.  Christmas is a big deal in my family – our grandparents believed in family and togetherness and so we have always spent Christmas as a united whole – cousins, Aunts, Uncles, siblings and parents.  So, when I announced I wanted a break from it (for my own selfish needs I must admit), there were a few grumbles of discontent.

In a loving, caring way, I was bullied a little into joining in the festivities.  I’m so glad I was.  I love my family and I don’t know what made me think I would want to be away from them at such an important time.  I guess, after the year I’ve had, I didn’t exactly feel like celebrating or making with the merry.  But that’s the whole point.  When you’re feeling down in the dumps and completely unsociable, your family should be the ones to pull you out of the doldrums, give you a kick up the bum and make you remember that you are still loved and wanted around.

So, needless to say, I had a lovely Christmas Day, spent with loved ones who have supported me and comforted me this year, as they always do.  It would have been insulting if I had ended up not making an appearance.  Moral to the story – be grateful for family and be with them whenever you can, because they love you even when you don’t love yourself and are more than willing to drag you, kicking and screaming, into the familial bosom for a little distraction and fun.

There was one awkward moment when my young nephew asked where Uncle “E” was, but all in all, I forgot I was on my own for the most part and just joined in with the over-indulging, gift-giving frenzy. There is something very heart warming and comforting about watching little ones open their gifts and I am so glad I got to share this Christmas with my nephews and nieces. Their squeals and cries of delight made me feel happy and content.  Blessed and thankful.

I stayed with my Mum for the night.  She goes all out with her Christmas decorating (I am too lazy and don’t have the space).  She has six Christmas trees, throughout the house, each one with a different theme and colour scheme.  They are usually beautiful and co-ordinated.  In other words, they put my decorating to shame.  Her home is a Christmas wonderland…no tacky neon Santas or inflatable reindeers, Mum tends towards the vintage, traditional or classy, elegant looks.  There are snowmen on shelves and snow-globes on tables, baubles in boxes and enough stars and tiny twinkling lights to fill Santa’s workshop.

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We spent a few nice days together, Mum and I.  We even went and stayed with my Dad and Step-Mother in the country for a day and night.  I am so proud of my parents for getting on with their lives and, after the initial emotionally trying time that comes with all divorces when hearts are bruised and battered and lives need to be rebuilt, they are friends and still care about one another.  My two “Mums” had a heart-to-heart while my Dad and I pottered about in the paddocks, checking on fences and livestock, and I think it was good for both of them to speak freely and find some common ground.  I can only hope that I do not succumb to bitterness as my separation continues and divorce looms ever closer.  On that subject, “he” did not call, message or contact me at all over Christmas which has hurt me more than I can say but I suppose has solidified in my mind how much I mean to him (or rather, how little I mean to him).  I don’t think I am asking for too much to have the person I have loved for the past seven years to send me a little text message or email just saying “Merry Christmas”.  Maybe I am dumb and naive.  But it still hurts and makes me wonder what a terrible person I must have been to him to not deserve even the smallest of kindnesses.

But I digress…

Christmas this year has been restorative and soothing to me.  I am rather ashamed that I thought I would be better off avoiding it (*slaps wrist and looks suitably guilty*) and hope that next year I am a little more gung-ho and enthusiastic, if only because I am so amazingly lucky to have the family I do and I should celebrate that whenever the opportunity arises.

I hope you enjoyed Christmas (for those who celebrate it) or some time off or just had a good week.  I am looking forward to a New Year with new opportunities and challenges, a fully-mended (if somewhat fragile) heart and a healthier, happier, less stressed and sad me.  I want 2014 to be a year of joy and well-being for all of you too.

Thank you for reading (and sorry for the self-indulgent wallowing associated with my break-up.  It will pass soon enough but I hope you can forgive me a little while longer.  I’m still mending…)

x

Birthday Girl

Birthday Girl

My beautiful little niece, Finlay, celebrated her 3rd birthday this week.  As all little princesses should, she had a party on the weekend with family and friends (including her two brothers, deacon and Marlon, my gorgeous nephews), lots of pink and plenty of fun.  Her Mum did an amazing job of decorating the house and yard with all things pretty and pink with a candy bar, balloons, bunting and banners.  Finlay was well and truly spoilt – but if you can’t be spoilt when you’re three, when can you?  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

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Waiting for parties to start is VERY tiresome!

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But it soon starts a-happenin’!

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Big Brother Deacon enjoying the donut-eating contest …

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…which ended satisfyingly!

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Big Brother # 2, Marlon with lollipop # 2 (and counting…)

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Hmmm, not sure about this one…

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…here, you have it!

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A lady never gets ice cream on her party dress…

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Brothers are ok sometimes…

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The party was fabulous darling!

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Hurry up and cut the cake!

Thanks for reading!  🙂