The Birthday Book: Yearly Interview Questions

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The Birthday Book

Look, I made a book!

I loved this idea when I came across it on pinterest. It’s so simple I’m not sure why I haven’t heard of it before. Basically each year on your child’s birthday you ask them the same set of questions. As the years go by you can watch your child’s answers mature and develop.

What I love most about it is that it’s a way to record the cognitive developments that you don’t get in your average photo albums and milestone records.

I made a nice official book at blurb.com to record it all and have opened it up for public purchase. So go check it out maybe you want to buy it, maybe you want to make one of your own:

http://au.blurb.com/b/5258008-the-birthday-book

Also, I’m pretty sure it would make an awesome gift, just saying…

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Childrens Books That Will Make You Cry (but in a good way)

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Children's Books that will make you cryOne of the things I most looked forward to about becoming a parent was re-living all the magical children’s books that I used to love when I was little.

Long before Clara was able to understand the words and looooong before she had the attention span to sit through an entire book, I started collecting all my favourite classics and reading them at her.  We are still working on the attention span thing, and I’m not quite sure she gets the concept of reading the pages in chronological order, but it is still one of her favourite activities and it gives me great joy to watch her making the ‘book’ sign and eagerly point at her bookshelf.

Unfortunately our reading time is often perforated by my choking sobs due to my masochistic habit of picking melancholy children’s books. More so than adult chapter books, I find that children’s books have an uncanny ability to really wring the heart strings (not just tug them). I think it’s because the few words are selected so carefully, and then the illustrations really drive it home.

Here are three that no matter how many times I read, I cannot finish without choking up.

of THEE I SING, a letter to my daughters by Barrack Obama

of Thee I SingA dear friend brought this book back from the states as a present to Clara before she was born. This friend has a knack for insightful gifts, and also just insight in general, check her out here.

This book speaks to parents everywhere who want to instill self confidence and worth in their children. Obama’s letter to his daughters is formed by positive affirmations ‘Have I told you that you are smart’ and follows with the stories of positive role models like Albert Einstein, Billie Holiday and Helen Keller.

The one down side to this book is that it is very American centric, to the point that it does not translate well to other countries. This is not such a problem for me since I have an American background, but I can see how the final pages that culminate in being proud to be American would make it hard to read to non American families.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald PartridgeThis one has been a long time favourite of mine. A little boy seeking to help his elderly friend recover her memory seeks advice from nursing home residents. He is told that a memory is something warm and precious, something that makes you laugh and something that makes you cry. He gathers the possessions he owns with the mentioned attributes and presents him to his friend. Sweet as honey with beautiful illustrations by Julie Vivas this one has so much to offer children and adults.

10 little fingers and 10 little toes – Mem Fox

10 little fingers and 10 little toesMem seems to be the queen of choke ups! This one again is sure to get the tears flowing. The moral of the story may have been done before – even though we are all different we are all the same – but Mem seems to be able to freshen it up and present it in a really meaningful way. The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury really add to the story, the babies are so full of character and personality, Clara and I spend a long time just looking at the pictures.

I suppose I have one small issue with this story and that is the use of 10 fingers and 10 toes to show that we are all the same. I understand the concept is more that we all have the same basic structure, but children take things very literally and I think children reading this without 10 fingers and 10 toes would feel excluded.

A few years ago I probably would have rolled my eyes if someone had said the above to me, however having experienced a short period of dealing with disability, and also knowing people who live with the stigma of their children not having all their fingers or toes, it’s these little things that really make the difference in social inclusion.

Home Made Funnel Cake

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Funnel Cake

Years ago, I was visiting Amish country in Pennsylvania when I came across the most fiendishly delicious discovery: Funnel Cakes. Now, nearly 12 years on, the phenomenon still has not reached Australia and so I was forced to take desperate measures and recreate the recipe myself.

To those of you who have never heard of a Funnel Cake, imagine a warm cinnamon doughnut, straight from the oil. The best part is undoubtedly that sweet crispy crust around the doughnut hole. When you bit into it, it is warm and crispy but also soft an doughy on the inside. Now imagine someone has found a way to create a doughnut that consists 100% of that crispy crust – you have Funnel Cake.

Ingredients:

2 Eggs
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Flour
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
Powdered (Icing) Sugar

Method:

Heat a litre or two of oil in a pan until the oil reaches about 190 Celsius or 370 Fahrenheit.
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Mix the wet ingredients in once bowl and the dry ingredients into another (minus the powdered sugar).
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Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Make sure you have a nice consistency that pours easily through a funnel. You may need to add more milk or more flour.
funnel cake batter
Fill your funnel with the batter placing your finger over the hole on the bottom. If you don’t have a funnel you could use a zip lock bag with a corner cut out.

Position full funnel over the oil and remove your finger allowing the batter to pour out. Slowly move the funnel around in circles forming a long worm that overlaps itself repeatedly in no particular pattern. You may find that the batter does not solidify into a nice snake shape in the oil, but instead breaks into little pieces. Don’t worry about this and continue to go over it with batter so that it eventually all joins back into one piece. If this is confusing hopefully the photos will make it a little clearer.
funnel cake batter
Once all the batter has been poured, allow the cake to cook for a minute or so until it is golden, then flip it over and cook the other side.
funnel cake
Once both sides are cooked, remove the cake from the oil straight onto a piece of paper towel.
funnel cake

Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and enjoy it while it’s hot!

funnel cake

Homemade Sausage Rolls

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I know sausage rolls aren’t traditionally considered healthy, but if you make them at home they’re actually not that bad. I have added grated apple to sweeten them up a bit and grated zucchini because let’s face it, I put grated zucchini in everything. I think next time I will add some grated carrot as well. These little beauties are super easy great for school lunches, toddler finger food or parties and they freeze beautifully so you can make them ahead of time.

Ingredients:
500g of beef and pork mince (free range pork preferably)
2 small grated zucchinis (or 1 large)
1 grated red apple
Dried Thyme
1 egg whisked lightly in a bowl.
2 sheets Frozen Puff pastry

Method:

So as I said, these things are so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you ever buy them from the store.

First add all the ingredients except for your egg and pastry into a bowl and mix together – get your hands in there.

Best sausage rollsHome made sausage rolls
Lay out your puff pastry and cut it in half. Then arrange the mince mixture onto the pastry and cover it over.
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Take a fork and crimp the edges to join thoroughly. Then brush over with the egg wash for a shiny finish.

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Cut these into the desired sizes, pop onto a baking tray and cook for about 20 minutes at an average cooking temperature. They will be done with the meat is cooked through and the pastry a nice golden colour.

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Great for packed lunches:

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On Pizza

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So here’s another post to make any Italians out there have a small stroke (and by another post I refer to my best ever spaghetti recipe).

Pizza…

I was dining with a friend at one of THE premier Italian restaurants in Canberra; this establishment boasts the most authentic and best pizzas in town. After deliberating on the many topping options, we settled on sharing a basil pizza, I do love basil! Our excitement however was quickly dashed when the waitress presented our highly anticipated pizza – a round cheesy disc with a single basil leaf positioned artistically in the middle of the pizza. My friend cleverly suggested dissecting the lonely leaf into 8 equal parts and evenly distributing one flake onto each piece… instead I thought we should request a second basil leaf as a side (I was willing to pay extra) so that we could each have our own to distribute however we wished among our slices.

I know it’s inauthentic, but I want my pizza laden with toppings, I want each mouthful to be a medley of crunch, savoury, sweet and at least three different colours and food groups. Each time I raise a slice to my mouth I want toppings to tumble down onto my plate and there still be enough left on the slice to wonder how I will fit it all in my mouth.

I keep pizza bases in my freezer for those desperate dinner nights when all I can manage is throwing any random assortment of leftovers onto a base and covering it with cheese.

Here is a beauty I recently came up with:Pumpkin, Beetroot Jam, Onion, Feta and Prosciutto Pizza

Roasted Pumpkin
Red Onion
Walnut and Beetroot jam
Danish Feta
Prosciutto
Grated Tasty Cheese
Tomato Base ( into which I mixed in a tad of tomato chutney)

I fully acknowledge that a frozen pizza base will  never come close to authentic Italian bases. Italian bases are truly divine, just the right thickness with the perfect amount of crunch and chewiness. I have not come close to finding a base worthy of the authentic Italian label in Australia (although my father’s pizza dough is pretty close), and a frozen pizza base is only acceptable in desperate after work situations.

Quick DDH Update

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For those of you following our DDH story:

A year ago we were psyching ourselves up to take our healthy little girl, put her under general anesthesia and bind her legs in a big scary chunky cast.

Today she is stumbling and walking with the rest of her peers and showing no external signs of having DDH. Dealing with the Spica cast seems like a distant dream and I can only hope that it stays that way!

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We had an x-ray and check up with the specialist the other day and the upshot was that everything is progressing as expected. The specialist said that her left hip socket is still a little shallow, but that is what he would expect at this stage and that the socket should continue to deepen with time. Next appointment won’t be until she’s 2 – hurray!!!

2013-07-25 08.26.38While we were there we voiced our concern about Clara’s habit of ‘W’ sitting, which I have been warned against in my DDH social support circles. The specialist told us that it would be preferable for her not to sit this way, but not to stress too much about it if she continues to prefer this position. So I will continue to reposition her periodically, but short of sticking her back in a cast, there’s nothing I can really do to prevent it most of the time.

Have you forgotten your local library?

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The Canberra library system is fantastic. The entire network is linked with a public database you can search from the comfort of your own home, and then order any available book you like to your nearest outlet. Book not available? Never fear you can place your name on the waiting list and be notified by email or SMS when it has arrived.

I have always loved the Canberra library system, however now that I have a toddler it has taken on a whole new meaning.

Library BooksWhen it’s cold and/ or rainy, when it’s too hot to even go swimming, when I don’t have the motivation to put on respectable clothes and makeup, when I don’t want to spend money, when I think I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get myself and this kid out of the house – I go to the library.

2013-08-01 10.53.37This morning I took Clara to Giggle and Wiggle, a fantastic initiative at all Canberra library locations. One morning a week parents can bring babies, toddlers and any other obliging children to sing songs and read books. It’s free, it’s fun, and it is a good start to a life long love of books.

2013-08-01 10.59.20The lovely library ladies bring in their tape recorders and an array of puppets and books and along with the parents sing hokey songs. Meanwhile some children join in the frivolities while the majority alternate between having a good laugh at all the crazy adults and pulling books off the shelves. Its a fun, safe and accepting atmosphere.

And don’t forget, the library isn’t just a great resource for books, they also have DVDs, CDs, computers, newspapers, magazines, family activities and lots of community information resources.

Woodland Birthday Party

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Woodland Birthday Party

I’m not feeling the creativity today, so instead of publishing my usual literary masterpiece (HA!) today’s post will be picture book style. As suggested by a friend who is infinitely more creative than me (want to see? check out her blog here) I will revisit Clara’s birthday party for which I was a crafting domestic goddess I must say.

Luckily for Clara, her first birthday coincided with the height of my Pinterest fervor. Less luckily she won’t remember it which is a shame because I don’t think I’ll be going to the same amount of trouble again. Home made sausage rolls, quiches, sushi (ok, that was store bought), beetroot, onion and goats cheese tarts  A house full of bunting, a SERIOUS birthday cake, home made pinata and hedgehog cupcakes … all that with a one year old tugging at my skirt (ahem, track pants) yeah, never again!

Anyway I was quite proud of my efforts in the end.

I made this pinata (inspired by this site) It is my intention to do a number every year for her.Image It is also my intention not to attempt a home made photo shoot with a bed sheet again…

Here is the only shot I managed to get of the meters and meters of bunting I made.

Birthday Bunting

This cake was quite a triumph, you can find the tutorial for how to make spotty cakes like this here. The toadstools I was going to make but then found these on etsy and thought they were too adorable to pass up. And the bunting I made from skewers, string and left over material from the bunting.

First Birthday CakeSpotty Dotty Birthday Cake

Here’s a close up of the hedgehog cupcakes.

Hedgehog CupcakesAnd the obligatory family shot.

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The Best Spaghetti Bolognese You Will Ever Have

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It was a mild Autumn in Tuscany and the sun was settling over the ancient stony city of San Gimignano. DH and I were contemplating having missed the last bus to our comfortable little hovel in neighboring Sienna when we spotted some movement down the twisted alleyway. Following the movement we found a middle aged Italian woman dressed in the traditional black garb watching us.

‘Missed bus Si?’ she said while motioning enthusiastically for us to follow. DH and I exchanged glances and without needing words agreed that this is exactly the kind of adventure that makes missing a bus in a foreign country worth while.

We followed her in to a humble dwelling, down a simple unfurnished corridor and into the warm light of an ancient kitchen. Over the wood fueled stove top stood a wizened old lady siring the most inviting concoction you could ever hope to have the pleasure of experiencing.

It was here that DH and I learned the recipe for the most ancient and delicious Spaghetti you will ever have the pleasure of tasting. This will be the last Spaghetti recipe you ever collect.

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Ok, ok, you got me, the above never happened, it’s all lies, the astute amongst you will regognise that those photos aren’t even of San Gimignano. But have I got your attention? The truth is, as far as I am aware, this recipe has had no input from any Italian Nonna’s and it probably breaks about a million traditional Italian cooking laws. This one comes from my mother and I’m not sure where she got it, but it is seriously good. It is packed full of vegetables and I think the secret lies in the even mix of beef and pork. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients

  • a heap of dried oregano
  • cinnamon sticks
  • 1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced brown onions
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 500g minced beef
  • 500g minced free range pork
  • 2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 large jar tomato paste
  • 1 jar of water
  • about 1/2 a cup(or more to taste) of a nice deep red wine like a Shiraz or a Merlot

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To make:

(note, In the pictures I have added more beef because I wanted to make extra portions for a friend who had just had a baby – do not do this – I found out from this experiment that the even mix of pork and beef is what makes this dish awesome)

2013-06-15 16.51.10f1. Add brown onions and carrots to an oven proof pot and cook for 10 minutes or so.

Image2. Add meat and brown well.

3. stir in mushrooms, zucchini, lots of oregano and garlic. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.

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4. Add jar of tomato paste and then fill the jar with water and add it to the pot. Also poor in wine and a couple of cinnamon sticks.

Spaghetti Bolognese5. Continue to simmer over the stove top until it is all well incorporated and the meat is well cooked and it is about the desired consistency (you may want to simmer for longer if it is still too liquidy). Then put the lid on and transfer to the oven and cook on a medium heat for a couple of hours.

Spaghetti BologneseNow all you have to do is cook up some pasta and serve with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Moment of Joy

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At the risk of sounding patronising, cheesy and even arrogant, I would like to recount a recent moment I had with my daughter. It was a quick moment grasped between daily chores, but one that has been bringing a smile to my face every time I remember it.

I was attempting the usual daily rigmarole of unpacking the dishwasher, hanging out the laundry, scraping banana off the floor under the highchair…. Etc etc etc. Clara was clinging to my legs and moaning to be picked up. She was not happy to amuse herself in the usual fashion with her yogurt container and pegs, or unpacking the recycling bin and I was getting increasingly frustrated as I went back and forth between trying to distract her and getting some chores done.

I was about to really crack it, I looked down at her clingy arms ‘CLARA, you HAVE to let me get some work done’. But those pleading little eyes were looking up at me and my heart melted. The poor kid just wanted a little attention.

So I left the dirty dishes, I left the washing machine with its beeping nag ‘I’m finished, I’m finished’. I picked up my wingy baby and said ‘you’re right, let’s dance.

We pumped up the music and twirled around the living room singing and waving our arms in the air. Clara LOVED it, she laughed and giggled and threw her arms up in the air imitating me. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

It only lasted 10 minutes but I every day since I’ve remembered the joy in her face and the adrenalin in my body as we jumped and jived and realise how close I came to never experiencing that moment of pure joy.

Non Toxic Sensory Bag Two Ways

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Non Toxic Sensory BagNon Toxic Sensory Bag

I’ve seen many a post about sensory bags and always thought they looked fun and exciting. Most of the bags I’ve seen have been made out of hair gel – multi coloured sparkling goop – very pretty but not so good for little ones who put everything straight into their mouth.

So this morning we experimented with two non-toxic versions of the sensory bag, these bags are perfectly safe (and one of them very tasty) should your little one decide to have a chew.

Version 1 – Jello

For this version simply make up your jello (Jelly for the Aussies) according to the packet instructions

Jello Sensory BagJello Sensory Bag

Once cooled and set, poor the jello and toys of choice into the bag

Jelly sensory bagJelly sensory bag

Try to squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can before you seal it.

Reinforce the edges with duct tape to reduce the risk of it splitting open while your little one pokes and prods at it.

Version Two – Cornstarch

Mix about half a cup of cornstarch (cornflour) to about 3 litres of water along with some food colouring.

 

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Microwave this mixture for about 10 minutes until it is nice and thick. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, poor into your zip lock bag – this one was a bit messier than the jello.

Cornstarch sensory bagcornstarch sensory bag

As with the Jello mixture. add in your toys, squeeze as much of the air out as possible, then seal the bag. Reinforce all edges with duct tape.

Non Toxic Sensory Bag

Clara preferred the Jello option to the cornstarch because she could see the toys much clearer. The cornstarch mixture was a bit cloudy but would probably be fun for older toddlers who might enjoy ‘digging’ through the mixture to find the hidden toys.

It’s a good thing I found a non toxic version because as expected it wasn’t long before the bag made it to the mouth! We managed to survive the play session without any leaks, but if we had, we would have been prepared.

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Tasty Toasted Chickpea Treat

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Toasted ChickpeasNext time you feel yourself reaching for the chips, think of trying this tasty treat. These crunchy little bites are full of flavour, they are salty, zingy and surprisingly satisfying. Best of all they are relatively healthy if you don’t overdo it (which is easy to do)!

Ingredients:

  • Canned Chickpeas
  • Seasoning of choice, I used Moroccan seasoning

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This recipe is so simple, Just take a can of chickpeas and give them a good rinse.

Rinse ChickpeasAdd a little oil to a frying pan and turn the heat up to a medium – high temperature.

2013-07-10 19.29.11Pop the rinsed chick peas into your fry pan and run – these babies are going to pop and splutter for a few minutes.

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After you’ve cooked out some of the moisture (10 minutes or so) add your seasoning.

2013-07-10 19.44.13Simmer these babies on low until they’ve reached your desired dryness – I like them good and crispy and let them go for about an hour.

And you’re done, you can store these babies in an airtight container for a couple weeks.

These babies are best eaten hot off the pan or as a fancy crouton substitute in salads.

Diet of Choice

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experimentalI’ve started my bi monthly diet again. It seems every couple months or so I ‘chuck a tanty’ (to use one of my favorite Australianisms) and decide it’s diet time! It’s not the most stable diet but it seems to work for me, I’m a 2kg off 1kg back on kinda gal, and while I’m certainly not back to my pre pregnancy body, at least I’ve been back to my pre pregnancy weight for a while now.

This post started as a ‘Tasty Toasted Chickpea Treat’ recipe, but I can see now that it is seems to be heading down a different path… I feel a diet post coming on ( I so badly wanted to type a diet diatribe but sadly a diatribe this is not).

My diet of choice is Weight Watchers. I love the weight watchers system because it is so easy to follow in everyday life without counting calories, or cutting out entire food groups or only eating grapefruit marinated eggplant that has been freeze dried by Tahitian monks.

Weight watchers teaches you healthy serving portions and health choices, for example yes you can eat that package of Delicious chocolate coated bacon chips, but is it worth it because it will mean you will be eating green beans for dinner – realising this I will generally opt for the tuna sandwich and a ‘fun’ sized chocolate bar (although what’s so fun about 15grams of chocolate I will never know).

I also love that you can eat as many of most fruit and vegetables as you like, this means that unlike a lot of diets, you are never really starving, in a pinch you can always have a warm bowl of roasted vegetable soup or a juicy pear.

Now I know I sound like a paid commercial for weight watchers but I can assure you I most definitely am not, I have never even been a member. I simply ‘borrowed’ the manuals from friends and family who were legitimately enrolled in the program. If you have no such acquaintances to ‘borrow’ from you can grab it from the weight watchers website or second hand from ebay, just make sure you are buying current material from your own country.

So that’s it, my diet undiatribe, and the reason why most food related posts from here on out are likely to have weight watchers points on them.

Easy and Tasty Marshmallow Fondant

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12872317413271I have always loved the look of brightly coloured smooth fondant on cakes, but always am so disappointed to bite into it and taste that flowery sweet cardboard taste that all fondant seems to have.

A couple of years ago I stumbled on this marshmallow fondant recipe and my life has not been the same since! It is easy, it is cheap, it tastes good and it’s oh so much fun.

Marshmallow FondantMarshmallow Fondant

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag of Marshmallows (all white preferably)
  • 1 Bag of Icing sugar (I would have another one on standby just in case)
  • Gel food colouring of your choice

2013-07-04 12.29.32-1sMake: (warning, this gets a little messy)

  • Empty marshmallows into a LARGE microwave safe bowl (they do fluff up)
  • Microwave for about 30 seconds or until the marshmallows have melted and started fluffing up – could take more or less time depending on your microwave. Try to cook them for the minimal amount of time possible so you don’t burn yourself in the next step.
  • Poor about half the icing sugar in the bowl and start mixing with your hands. This gets very messy at first, but don’t worry it will all come together soon. Keep adding more icing sugar until you can form a nice dough that no longer sticks to your hands – you will probably need the whole bag or more. You want a nice stiff texture that is still easy to roll out and mold.
  • Divide if necessary and add kneed in the colour/s of your choice.
  • Finished!

See, easy! When you have finished decorating, if you still have some dough left over, wrap it in a couple layers of cling wrap, put it in an airtight container and save it for next time. It will go pretty hard in the cupboard, so when you want to use it again, just microwave it for 10 seconds or so and it will be as good as new.

Try it – you will thank me!

Marshmallow Fondant Marshmallow Fondant

Social Media Support for DDH

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I have heard people express that social media is heralding an age of socially inept humans who can no longer function in face to face society. I hear prophesies of an age of people secluded to their little home pods, plugged in to their computers living a virtual life.

Perhaps, but I maintain there are some really useful functions of social media. One such example is when you are living with an issue that no one in your circle of acquaintances have experienced. Social media is what kept me sane when looking after a baby in a Spica Cast.

When Clara was first diagnosed with DDH I was scared and confused. I didn’t know what DDH was, if I had caused it and what the future held. It wasn’t long before I found some really good support and information on the net that provided much needed guidance and helped me realise I wasn’t alone.

Here are some of the sites I found useful

Facebook Groups

There are some great groups on facebook full of people currently going through the same thing you are. Many a time I found myself running to these people with questions and always got answers promptly. Here are a couple sI found particularly useful:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/Hiptoddlers/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/273086339469211/

Blogs

I read soooo many blogs (this is what inspired me to start my own). The more I read about people living their daily lives with kids in casts, the more normal it seemed and the more I felt like I would be able to cope. If you’ve already found my blog, chances are you are already onto this, but here are some more you might like:

http://www.northernmum.com/

http://www.simplifylivelove.com

http://dmassy.wordpress.com/

http://aussie-tatteredangel.blogspot.com.au/

http://www.emmaand3.com/

You Tube

There are a few videos on youtube that show you how to manage casts and harnesses. In particular Steps Charity has a great series of videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiDkfLrwkQyRur8pXZbJWiQ

Pinterest

I started a group pinterest board that allows people to share useful information about DDH. Anyone can follow it, but if you would like to be able to add to it you will need to send me a message.

Information

While not social media sites, these web pages also have some very useful information in them:

http://www.rch.org.au/ortho/education_training/Developmental_dysplasia_of_the_hip_DDH_educational_resource/

http://www.hipdysplasia.org/

I guess that should be enough to get you started, I hope you are able to find support in some of the social media sites above like I did.

Super Easy Healthy Kids Snack: Banana Oat Cookies

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Banana Oatmeal Cookies

A recent pinterest pin I pinned… I know that’s just so bad I just had to write it… claimed you could make a delicious healthy cookie out of only two ingredients: banana and oats. I was dubious this could be done, so doubled the ingredients and set out to make my own version.

Ingredients:

  • banana
  • oats (I used quick oats because they are finer)
  • cinnamon
  • raisins (or sultanas, currents, any of the dried grape varieties really)

What to do:

Preheat your oven to your favorite cookie cooking temperature – I used 180 degrees Celsius.

Banana Cinnamon Raisins Oats

Mash 2 very ripe bananas in a bowl

Mix in 1 cup of oats, a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and a handful of raisins.

Spoon mixture out out onto a cookie sheet in rough cookie shapes.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes.

Banana Oat Cookies

The results? A huge success, Clara loves these sugar free, number free, glutton free(??), dairy free, basically any of the current evil foods free snack. And the biscuits hold together really nicely, I guess it’s like dried banana and oats. Personally I wasn’t overly impressed myself, I think if I was going to eat them I would add in some brown sugar, but seriously Clara down’s these things without any added sugar and I don’t have to feel guilty about giving her cookies for breakfast 🙂

Banana Oat Buscuits

Bath Tub Paint (edible finger paint)

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What to post next what to post next… Cloth Nappy Stash? Best Spaghetti in the whole wide world? Easiest eggs in the whole wide world? nope, I think this nap time I will blog about our fun afternoon with bath tub finger paint.

Finger PaintMaking the paint is surprisingly easy.

You will need:

  • Corn flour (Corn Starch)
  • Water (both tap and boiling)
  • Food Colouring
  • 1 disposable nappy
  • 1 bathtub
  • 1 mostly naked child

Edible Finger Paint IngredientsMix together 1 cup of Cornflour and 1 cup of tap water.

Poor in 2 cup of boiling water and stir. This is where most recipes say you will have nice thick finger paint – as you can see below, I most certainly did not…. so…Combine corn flour and waterI put the whole bowl in the microwave for 3 minutes and hey presto, fun gooey sludge – mine was a little too thick (see the spoon standing straight up) so I added more tap water until it was the desired consistency.

2013-06-27 12.05.53Divide into containers (I put half of it aside for a rainy day).

Add food colouring – I used nice vibrant gel colours

2013-06-27 12.18.07And there you have it, fun and messy ooey gooey paint.

To use:

Strip baby down to nothing but a disposable nappy, place baby and paint in bath tub and wait for baby to eat the paint… which they will do…

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But it doesn’t taste very good:2013-06-27 13.05.49After a slow start we finally got the hang of it and had lots of fun!

Playing with Bathtub paint2013-06-27 13.07.302013-06-27 13.09.102013-06-27 13.14.01

The Rhino Brace

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Rhino Brace

After the Cast came off it was straight into a Rhino Brace for the next 3 months. I don’t want to belittle the experience of people who have only experienced the brace because I’m sure going from nothing to the brace would be hard. But after the cast, the Rhino Brace was EASY – It could come on and off and it wasn’t clumsy or heavy. It was even infinitely better than the pavlik harness

.Rhino Brace in Byron BayRhino Brace and Cat

I feel like there’s not much to say in the way of support for this brace since I never had any issues with it. We were told to use the brace 24/7, but I’m not going to lie – we had our fair share of brace free time each day.

I did jump the gun in moving the spica chair and padded car seat and pram out of the house . The brace kept her in the same position as the cast so all of these items were still necessary unfortunately.

She learned to sit up in the brace, but never learned to crawl or move around like some babies. Now that she’s a year old though she is equal to her peers, so it really hasn’t put her behind developmentally at all. She used to sometimes get stuck in this position and cry until someone rescued her:

ImageRhino Brace on Head

I do remember Clara was a little reluctant to sit upright when she first came out of the cast, because she wasn’t used to bending that way. We have a bath seat which we couldn’t get her into for about a week. It wasn’t long though until she was sitting and moving in all the normal baby positions. Within a couple weeks of being out of the Brace she was pulling herself up on furniture.

After 3 easy months in the brace we visited the specialist who said it could all come off. He told us we should have x-rays and reviews every three months to monitor Clara’s hips and make sure they continue to deepen, but that even if for some reason they don’t deepen, we won’t be intervening again until she’s 3 or 4 years old.

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Again I’ve flouted authority and decided to push out our 3 monthly visits to 5/6 monthly visits. My logic is I would prefer to reduce the amount of x-rays Clara gets and it’s a pain to travel all the way to Goulburn just to hear ‘yes, that’s progressing as expected’. Even if things don’t progress as we hope, we’ve been told that we won’t do anything about it for years anyway, so in the meantime I will save myself a few bucks and trouble, and save Clara from a bit of radiation.

SO I can’t believe it, I am up to date with the DDH story! Next update will be at our next check up in July – until then be gone DDH, I will not be stressing about you until then.

Water Bead Fun

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Ok, so I will preface this post by saying I probably jumped the gun on this one. I am well aware that brightly coloured little bite sized balls will go straight into a one year olds mouth and admit this activity has more to do with my excitement to play with this inviting product. This activity was carried out under VERY close supervision and all water bead consumption attempts were thwarted.

So, disclaimer aside, my interest in these little jubes was sparked by some youtube videos I watched where people seemed to magically pull little jelly crystals out of nothing but a glass of water. Turns out the videos were pranks, what was actually happening is that these water beads have the same density of water so that when they are in a glass of water they are completely invisible (see proof below). I found this equally as intriguing as magic and had to get my hands on some.

Invisible Water Beads

I purchased 5 colours from ebay for under $5. When they arrived I was surprised at how tiny they started out:

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I poured a few into a bowl and covered them in water:

water beads beforeWater Beads with water

15 minutes later they looked like fish eggs this notice how fuzzy they look in the water, and the clear ones are invisible:

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I left them overnight to reach their full potential, but did have to keep adding more water and then transfer them to a bigger bowl.

The next day I started off with a lapse of judgement and gave them to Clara to play with in her high chair – what was I thinking!!! Straight for the mouth!!! So we repositioned on the floor and it went much smoother. Clara loved them (almost as much as I did) the texture, the colours – all irresistible. She had lots of fun transferring the jewels from one bowl to the next and just generally wriggling her fingers around in them.

Baby with Water BeadsWater Bead Play

Another part Clara enjoyed was watching how the beads distorted the butterfly picture at the bottom of the bowl

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All in all a fun afternoon of sensory play.

Mini Quiches: Super Easy and Healthy Packed Lunch (Freezer Friendly)

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Best Mini Quiche

Check it out! A non DDH related and only slightly parenting related post! In line with my life getting back on track and having time to think about fun, crafty, cooky things, here is a real blogger blog how to.

With Clara in family day care 3 days a week, I am always on the lookout for easy and healthy lunch ideas that I can make ahead of time, and preferably freeze for a future date.

These mini quiches meet all the above criteria and are so easy because you can use whatever vegetables you have left over in the fridge, I used cooked sweet potato and frozen peas, corn and spinach. Other vegetables that work well are mushrooms, onions (sauted), spring onions, leeks, tomato, pumpkin, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum (bell peppers for the Americans out there) or beans. For a little more flavour you could also add feta cheese, olives or sundried tomatoes. The possibilities are endless! Just note that you will want to pre-cook the tough vegetables as they won’t have enough time to cook in the quiche.

 Ingredients:

  • ·         4 sheets of frozen short crust pastery (or you can make your own if you are so inclined)
  • ·         Vegetables
  • ·         6 eggs
  • ·         400ml whole milk
  • ·         Grated cheese

 Assemble:

 Preheat your oven to your favourite cooking temp – 180 – 200 degrees Celsius seems to work well.

Grease a muffin tin

 Lay out your pastry and cut it into squares or circles – I did circles which is neater, but results in more wastage.

 Place your pastry into the muffin tins.

Vegetables in Best Mini Quiche

 Arrange chosen vegetables in your pastry bases (see above for filling suggestions)

 In a jug or bowl crack 6 large eggs and mix in your 400ml of whole milk. You can make more or less of this mixture, I found a good proportion is about 4:1 eggs to milk.

Best Mini Quiche

 Pour milk over your vegetables. Fill the quiche cases to just under the top of the pastry.

 Sprinkle cheese over the top.

Cheese on Best Mini Quiche

Place in oven and cook until pastry is crisp and your filling is high and browning on top – about 20 mins – Half an hour.

 These are great straight out of the oven, or you can cool and freeze for later in freezer bags.

Best Mini Quiche

 And there you have it – super easy healthy lunch perfect for little fingers and baby teeth right through to adults.

 If you have any other filling suggestions I’d love to hear them!