Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Budgeting for Baby

* This is a sponsored post.

Creating a budget for the newest member of your family is the best way you can give them a great start in life. However at times, knowing exactly what to budget for may be a confusing task for parents-to-be. To help families with money management, MyBudget has created a handy infographic which projects the estimated costs of a newborn for the first year of its life. This also includes handy hints for money saving!

Budgeting for a baby? MyBudget can help you.

(Please note that the estimates do not include costs associated with prenatal, postnatal or pediatric medical care. For those costs, please talk with your care providers and/or health insurer.)

Disclaimer:  I received compensation in exchange for posting this review.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Quick & Easy Chicken, Vegetable & Noodle Stir Fry

Some nights, I just don't feel like cooking. Some nights I don't. I'm happy with a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast but I feel obligated to try and serve something healthy to my children every night. Some nights they may have had a toasted sandwich with fruit, for example, but I always suffer from mother's guilt. Having a well stocked pantry alleviates the dilemma of knowing what to cook when I don't have a lot of time or I just don't feel like cooking.

These pantry style wok ready noodles from Changs are just the best. They now come in a handy meal sized pack, ready for the wok, that is already soaked and best part is they can be kept in the pantry. No refrigeration required.

I also have a couple packets of these frozen vegetables (already mixed with sauce) on hand. I look out for them when they're on special. Even if they don't come with the sauce, you can quite easily throw in a bit of your own honey and soy sauce from your pantry.

I've nearly always got chicken in the freezer and if I remember to take it out early in the day I'm ok but if not, I pop the frozen chicken in a bowl of water and in no time it's defrosted. (I don't like defrosting meat in the microwave as I find it always cooks it on the ends.) Just slice the chicken and fry in a little oil.

Toss in the frozen vegetables and noodles and you're done. Dinner is on the table in less than 15 minutes. No mummy guilt. The only problem I'm faced with is the arguments from my forever fussy daughter but that's another whole story.

Disclaimer: I was provided with Changs products. All photos and opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 133


Welcome to another week of Thriving on Thursdays! Hope you've had a great week. You know how it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind? Well, I've done just that. I bought the material and pattern to make my wedding dress and I've changed my mind and found a wonderful local dressmaker who knows exactly what I want and for a fantastic price. Her work is absolutely amazing! I feel an immense amount of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Even though I was confident to make it, I just wasn't sure I could produce a professional finish for something as important as my wedding dress. I'll still have a go at making a dress for my bridal shower. Other than that, it's been a productive week on all counts with other wedding DIY projects, being involved in the children's school and plenty of cooking, baking and cleaning. Here's my top 3 food and non food posts from last week's party.


Acai Bowl Recipe & Tips on Diane's Vintage Zest!

S'mores - 7 recipe variations   grandparentsplus.com


Ways to Conserve Water Outside the Home


Thanks again everyone for linking up each week. Some really great posts linked up last week. It was so hard to choose just 3 for each category. Please feel free to grab a 'featured' button from above. Now, onto this week. Let's see what you've all been working.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Basic Stew

As we head into winter next month, the best part of this time of the year for me is the food, like stews and soups. Being a warm climate for 9 months out of the year pretty much, we miss out on good old fashioned hearty fare so I make the most of it the first sign of cooler weather. You can't beat a simple stew to warm you from the inside out and this recipe is a great base for so many other dishes.

Nature's got a great way of telling us to use what's in season and all your root vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, parsnips and suede are all good for stews and are available now in the southern hemisphere. The best way to cook your stew is by slow cooking and using cheap cuts of meat like chuck or blade steak for example. 

I don't use a lot of meat in my cooking only because it's so expensive. I bulk it out with a lot of vegetables. One small piece of meat was enough for 2 adults and 2 children.

I don't always dredge my meat in seasoned flour only because I might be running short on time. It is a crucial part of a good stew though. I put a couple tablespoons of plain flour in a ziplock bag, season well with salt and pepper and throw the meat in and give it a good shake so all pieces of diced meat are well coated.

After browning the meat in a little extra virgin olive oil, I add the quartered onions just to brown them up as well. There are some slow cookers on the market now with browning plates already in them. I might have to look at getting one. This does make a basic stew a little more time consuming to make. You could brown the meat and onions in an ovenproof dish on the stove top to reduce the steps or even in the saucepan you would cook it in.

Pop the meat, onions and all your vegetables into the slow cooker (or the utensil your cooking it in), add a couple bay leaves and 1 cup of stock. I always like to add pumpkin to my stews because it breaks down and forms part of the sauce. If you wanted to change your basic stew into something exciting like an Indian curry or Moroccan 'tagine' for example, you would add your selection of spices to the oil before adding the meat. 

Lots of juice for mopping up with some crusty bread. Nothing better on cool night. Here's hoping we get a few more before September when the weather warms up.

Basic Stew
  • diced meat (beef, pork, chicken thighs, lamb etc)
  • plain flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying meat
  • any vegetables, preferably root vegetables that will hold their shape ensuring they are all cut roughly the same size (I throw whatever I have in the crisper including fresh tomatoes)
  • bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup stock (any kind)

  1. Toss diced meat into seasoned flour and fry in a little olive oil until sealed and brown. 
  2. Add onions and toss until caramelised.
  3. Add meat and onions to slow cooker with all the vegetables and stock.
  4. Cook for desired time, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve with mashed potato and/or crusty bread.

* This recipe can be adapted for slow cooking in a saucepan on the stove top or an ovenproof dish in the oven.

Monday, May 18, 2015

DIY Vintage Rock Music themed Wedding Invitations

It was inevitable that our wedding was going to have a vintage theme of some sort if I had anything to do with it. I feel like I'm trapped in a time warp that I never lived in. I've always been fascinated by the 1950's and everything relating to it like the cars, the music, the fashion and just the simplicity of life back in those days. Vintage weddings seem to be quite in vogue these days but I don't like to go with the norm and wanted to do something a little different plus save some money in the process. We've set ourselves a very tight budget and so far, so good, in sticking to it. We just can't justify the amount of money that's spent on weddings.

With no offence to the wonderfully talented person who made the above ensemble or the brides to be who like the above type of invitations etc, I just didn't want to spend the money having something like this made and anything I saw really didn't seem to fit in with what I wanted.

Without having a 'theme' as such we wanted to feature things we liked and what we're all about. Me, I like all things vintage and any kind of rock music from the 1950's to now and Damien loves all genres of music, in particular, heavy metal. I found the 'shabby chic' looking background by Googling an image. My fiance is a musician (a heavy metal guitarist in fact) so I used an image of one of his favourite guitars in the background. We wanted to make it feel like guests were being invited to a 'rock concert' so I tried to create a music event poster. Using Picmonkey, I created the document to an A4 size image, inserted it into a Microsoft Word document and had them printed at a local office supplies store. They were 88 cents each (which is a lot in my book) but I would've used up nearly all of the colour in my printer and for the price of printer cartridges these days, it was more cost effective.

I found this really cool, online concert ticket generator called Fake Concert Ticket Generator from which I created a "Save the Date" so guests could stick it onto the fridge or put in a place to remind them.

I picked up these small adhesive magnetic strips and stuck one on the back of the ticket.

We also didn't want or need any gifts and would much prefer people to come and help us celebrate but if they did want to give us a gift, we would much prefer a small donation towards a honeymoon, not that we've really planned on going anywhere as yet. With two elderly small dogs and four children between us and work commitments, we are leaving that until a bit after the wedding to organise. I bought a pack of pretty paper from the discount store and just typed these little notices up and popped one into each invitation.

I'm not sure why I chose purple as a main colour throughout the wedding. Maybe mixed with a vintage green it looked good so I stuck with it. I picked up the envelopes and heavy card to adhere the invitation to from the local office supplies store, which was probably the most expensive part of the whole exercise. I only needed about 23 envelopes but they sold the card only in packs of 50 so I'm stuck with the remaining but they'll always come in handy for other craft projects myself or the kids will do in the future.

I also had a supply of these oval shaped stickers so I created a sticker to close the invitation once folded, again, using the image of the guitar. (I used the Avery online sticker generator to create these and it was really easy as is the label creator in Microsoft Word.)

Time to put it all together. I did a strip of glue along the top of the card, adhered the invitation to it, folded it in thirds and cut two small slits in the bottom third of the card to insert the Save the Date. I closed it and sealed it with a sticker. I used Microsoft Excel to store all the guest's name and address details and used the Microsoft Word 'label feature to produce name and address labels which saved me having to hand write them all. The label wizard is really easy to use in Microsoft Word.

So there you have it. The whole lot cost about $70 to produce. We're both really happy with them. Nothing fancy, a little bit of the things we love and we hope to be really 'rockin' it' on the wedding day, which I'm sure we will.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 132


Welcome to Thursday and another week of Thriving on Thursdays! What a busy week I've had. I'm pleased to say the drainage has been fixed at our house and now we just have to wait for rain to see if it worked! There's such a mess everywhere but we're glad we're in a position to finally get it all back into place since the flooding first started in January. Hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day. I didn't have my kids on the day (wasn't my weekend to have them) but that's just how it is. I did, however, get a phone call from the kids and they picked out a lovely bathrobe and smelly things with beautiful cards. My ex's new wife is certainly a good influence in their lives and I'm so grateful for that. Anyway, here's my top 3 food and non food posts from last week's party.


apple pie yoghurt dough scrolls



Top 10 Ways to Make Money at Home Through Online Surveys via Kirsty Girl

Celery on Your Windowsill – Lettuce Rejoice!


Thanks again to everyone who links up each week. I just love looking through all your posts. You're all so talented and inspirational. If you were featured, feel free to grab a 'featured' button from above. Now, onto this week. Let's see what you've all been working on.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 131


It's time to thrive everyone and time for Thriving on Thursdays. I love having this place in the blogosphere for everyone to share their recipes, crafts, projects, tips and advice. I learn so much from you all and always feel so inspired, so thank you!

Wedding plans are coming along nicely. The celebrant, photographer, caterers and hair/makeup is all booked. Few little bits and pieces to get, oh, like MY DRESS! I've been looking for ages and other than buying the kind of dress I want from an online website, it costs an exhorbitant amount of money to have exactly what I want made. I've bitten the bullet and bought a dress pattern online and will make my dress. I've made a formal gown for myself before and looking at the pattern above, it's all straight sewing with no fancy embellishments or rhinestone encrusted trains. I can do this! Just waiting for the pattern to arrive so I can purchase the material. Wish me luck. Will share with you how it turns out. Now, onto last week's party. Here are my top 3 food and non food posts from last week.


Apple Bread Heaven is Smiling Above


A Paris Themed Birthday by Practicingnormal.com

Natural DIY Hair Mask Recipe_StorybookApothecary.com


Thanks again everyone for linking up each week. I love absolutely every post. Feel free to grab a 'featured' button above. Don't forget your Mum this weekend if you're in the USA or Australia. Not the happiest of days for me because I miss my Mum but it's a time to reflect on just how wonderful she was and how I can try to be like her with my own children. Have a great weekend and now, let's party!

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